Dec 31, 2004

Motorcycling Today

Today is the motorcycling post--the one for-real rant of the year.

For starters--purple and gold looks lame on a bike, I don't care HOW much you like LSU. And it looks even stupider on a Harley, which is hard to do, but it can be done. Wearing purple and gold running clothes on a Harley Piglet makes you ten times as lame. Painting your helmet to match a LSU football helmet makes you just look retarded.

Fat guy on a Hayabusa? My wife saw you, not me, but she told me all about how lame you were, pulling wheelies all down Coliseum Blvd. Heres a free tip--before you try to ride wheelies, LEARN HOW TO RIDE. Wandering off the road every time you wheelie is not the idea here, moron, and only shows how much you still have to learn. Fortunately for the rest of the riding community, squids like you don't last long, and are taken back out of the gene pool, if we're all lucky.

I ride with my highbeams on all the time so you can SEE me. Flashing yours back at me while it's still daylight is lame, and at night it doesn't matter, because even the tallest SUV can't aim it's headlights taller than a 6'2 guy on a sportbike. I do that so you SEEEEE me, not to annoy you. I'd rather you notice me and NOT hit me than think that that one low beam light is a car with one light out and decide to share part of my lane with me. I don't care about you because you don't care about motorcyclists. How often have I heard "I didn't see him." Well, boyo, you've got not excuse now.

Wearing a ton of swag is to PROTECT oneself, not to look cool. Quit posing, goths and squids.

Lessee--what else.

Ah yes. When the sign says "We close at 5 pm on New Years Eve," it means we close at 5 pm on New Years Eve. Coming up to the door and whining, begging, threatening or otherwise being a nerk will NOT get you inside. It gets you laughed at harder when you leave. Be like the other 570 people that came through today and gave us their money DURING REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS. They managed, why can't you? And when we're leaving the door en masse, about eight of us in uniform, holding car keys and lunchboxes, take a hint, don't hang in your door like a poorly groomed dog, hoping we're suddenly gonna relent and let you in to shop some. We're gonna go home and tell stories about you tonite while we're partying with our friends. We're gonna MOCK you because you're not bright enough to understand that the world, contrary to your belief, revolve around you.

*pant pant*

Have a Happy New Year, ya'll.

Love to everyone who reads this blog regularly--you know who you are, and I know who YOU are for the most part, and it means a lot that I have an audience, no matter how small. You are appreciated, deeply, sincerely, and with gratitude.

The results are in--

Pierson-Smythe bowled O Dinga nought in the Royal Test Match, Duhammel posted a first place finish in both races of the Laguna Seca, Seabiscuit finished by a nose over Daddy's Girl and Some Like It Hoarse, and in International Glacier Racing today, Ireland's 1229-B just edged out the French-sponsored 4802-GH in a record time of 1,393 hours, 47 minutes, 5 seconds in the English Channel Point-To-Point Sprint. Congratulations Ireland! Have a Guiness on me.

Oh, and Irrelephant has mildly bulging discs from L-3 to S-1 or so, and no nerve pinching, so in essence the mileage is starting to show. No more heavy lifting for me, which is going to take me right out of the competitive world of International Glacier Racing.

Speaking of--part of my problem has got to be cats that won't move. Last night (or this morning, to split temporal hairs, and with so few hours left in the year, why not?) I awoke with not one but THREE cats securing me to the bed. I felt like one of those specimen butterflies you see at the Nature Museum, carefully stuck to boards by long silver pins, only my pins were hot, furry, and not particularly inclined to move. Delilah was firmly anchored along my left leg, from mid-calf to upper thigh (when she lays around the house, she lays around the house,) Agaku was at her accustomed Queen Spot (meatloafed square in the middle of my chest) and Babel, my sweet psychotic angel was tucked between my chest and my right arm.

The worst part of this? I had to go pee, and it's no mean feat to get up when you've got a bad back and thirty pounds of sleeping cat hither and yon. I got two of the three moved or bowled elsewhere, but Babel sleeps like me--OUT, and getting her to move is about like, well, about like internationally racing icebergs--you really can't be in a rush about it. But, patiently I got her to scoot up enough that I could get the covers out from under her, and things proceeded as normal. Returning to bed I had just enough time to lie down before I was pinned again.

At least they aren't dogs.

Dec 30, 2004

Raillery

Okay, so sitting here, sort of post-stress, I have to wonder what to write about. So much of my creative output is driven by stress of one sort or another, and I haven't been back to work yet (give it a few hours, I'll be there) to build up any reserves, and post-MRI I find myself deflated, waiting the usual two weeks for the doctor to get around to seeing me so he can tell me nothing can be done, go home and take asprins for the rest of your life, and don't lift anything heavier than a dense fog.

I dislike doctors. I really do. And as the years march on and I see more and more of them, I find more and more that they are almost utterly useless as a species. The last few times I've gone to see one, they've told me in essence to keep doing what I'm doing, because strangely enough I have brainpower able to make me do research or whatever to tell me what to do to help myself.

*sigh*

There's not even enough stress in me to work up a good 'doctor rant.'

Got beaten by a 20 year old kid on MSN's GameZone yesterday evening at backgammon. Got my arse HANDED to me, I should say. In the Beginner's Room, of all places. Little barstard, lurking there to slay unfortunates. You've gotta admire a game, tho, that has been around for 5,000 years. That's some stick-to-it-ivness.

The cold is gone suddenly, too. From nights in the mid twenties we now stand at 52* (that's not a footnote, it's a asterik standing in for a degree mark,) headed for a daily high of something like 90. Winter is over, get on with your lives. No snow this year for us, but then again the last time it snowed here it was New Year's Eve, 2000. Time before that it was 1985, and I was a senior in high school, astounded and pleased that an inch of snow falling had closed the schools, shut down most major roadways, and had we an airport at the time it likely would have closed that, too. You gotta love the Deep South.

Ah me.

I guess it's back to work for come coal to stoke the fires of hatred and stress that seem to drive me these days. And make my muscles pull the discs in my back out of alignment.

Dec 28, 2004

MRI revisited

"The main component of the MRI system, or scanner, is a magnet. This magnet causes your body's hydrogen atoms to align themselves in such a way as to receive radio signals from the magnetic resonance system. When your body receives these signals, it reacts by sending its own radio signals back to the machine. It is this radio frequency transmitted by your body that is computer-processed and turned into incredibly detailed images."

Hydrogen atoms aligning themselves to pick up radio signals. Perhaps I won't NEED a CD after all--I can just jack the headphones into the socket at the bottom of my skull and listen to NPR while they do the deed.

You might feel a little heat at the scanning point

Okay, so this is how things are--I'm going to get an MRI done tomorrow morning, to see if the cause of 20+ years of back pain can be located.

Apparently my GP's flunkie (the GP is on vacation in the Bahamas or some such nonsense) thinks that this is the best way to go about seeing the inside of me, which is cool, because I'm not crazy about these guys digging around in my backbone with spreaders and shovels and pickaxes and such. So I did a little digging into what's gonna happen to me, and found that little clever article I linked for you guys.

Me, I'm gonna be the one in the bore. Scientific name for that big-ass hole that the tray (another scientific term) slides into. And I'm not going to bring any religious medals or pallet jacks with me, so I should be fairly safe. The only icky part I can forsee is the i.v. bit, through which they might have to inject me with FD&C Red #5 or something, to make my spine show up clearly, which I would think it should do pretty damned well, being one of the major arrangements of bone and icky bits in me body. And no smart-ass comments about how many irrelephants can fit in an MRI machine. And no, I didn't opt for the open-air one, because apparently it takes about six months to get on the waiting list to get an appointment to get sabot'd* into one of those things, and the old closed up one is a heck of a lot faster (One Day Turn-Around, No Waiting, Ample Parking, and Plenty Of Giant Magnets To Press You Between!) so we're gonna go with the fast and dirty.

Me, I was hoping for more than the loud hammering noise you're supposed to endure while inside the Belly Of The Beast. I mean, come on, technology has advanced to the point that we can take virtual 'slices' of people to look at them, but we can't put blinking lights and flashing buttons and weird audio effects and giant readout screens full of stars on our big-ass magnets? I mean, come on people, where's your sense of STYLE? Heck, even some flames painted on the outside would be something, a step in if not the RIGHT direction at least A direction. And this is the South. Maybe a chrome plastic "Haulin' Ass" girl?

And Mythbusters has already disproved the urban legend that tattoo pigment can react to an MRI machine. No pigment exploding out of me and spattering on the walls of the bore, no boiling of rare earth metals, no bits of Irrelephant straining for that magnetic attraction, nothing crazy at all. Of course, I'll have to be sure and let the techs know about that huge chunk of organic radio transmitter that the aliens left implanted in my brainstem years ago, when I was abducted. Hee.

Anyhoo, I guess I ought to bring a CD or something, they say you can listen to music on headphones while they're scanning the hell out of you. I'll have to give you guys the low-down and dirty on it when it's all said and done. Hopefully it'll reveal nothing more than what the flunky said today, which is that one of the discs of my spinal column is able to shift subtly out of place, causing me intense physical distress, and nothing worse than that. Surgery is ROIGHT OUT, nobody is going in there with anything sharp, or dull for that matter. Nobody, no how.



Cool! A footnote! How archaic!

* (pronounced "sa-BO")A 'sabot' is the casing used to make a sub-calibre (i.e., smaller than the gun barrel) projectile fill up the rest of the barrel. This enables the projectile to reach much higher velocities, increasing its penetrating power.

Toenails clipped and a bath, please

Mrs. Irrelephant manages a dog grooming salon.

Mr. Irrelephant is a cheap bastard, and thinks that it'd be foolish to pay for a haircut that the Mrs. could provide for free.

The Mrs. doesn't feel this way often, but it works.

The thing is, being a professional groomer she tends to cut my hair (what little there is of it) as though she were grooming a dog, so when she wants me to turn my head a little to the left, instead of saying "turn your head to the left" or "left a little bit" she simply grabs my left ear and tugs on it until, like a horse with bridle, I turn my head that direction. When she wants to make me tilt my head forward, instead of gentle verbal instructions I instead get a forearm or an elbow shoved into the base of my skull. If I fidgit any while she's operating, I usually (excuse the pun) get barked at. "STOP IT! HOLD STILL OR I'LL MUZZLE YOU!" Years ago, when the whole haircut-at-home thing started, I playfully make a teeth-snapping/barking noise at her hand when it got close to my ear. She's naturally a little high-strung about sudden noises and things like that, so I thought it'd be funny to startle her. No. I wore a muzzle for the rest of the haircut, and brother, let me tell you, those things ain't pleasant. I've still got buckle-marks.

So this morning she's particularly bad, partly because I had pretty bad bed-hair, and I preferred to get it cut first, THEN shower, because of the cascades of tiny itchy bits of hair that end up everywhere. I paid for that bold stroke by having to endure her entering into a sudden frenzy of change-blade-cut-hair-change-blade-cut-hair-change et grooming cetera. The worse part of it was that she'd put the clippers right up against my skull, and the resulting vibration would make my eyes cross and my throat would sort of close up, so I'd start making this cocker spaniel-choking-on-a-bone sound, and she'd cuff me a couple of times with her forearm and shout "HOLD STILL, DAMNIT, OR SWELP ME I'LL TOSS YOU BACK IN YOUR KENNEL AND YOU CAN SIT AND STEW!"

What really worries me is that it's getting worse, not better. As she was finishing my haircut this morning, she threatened to shave my potty trail.

Dec 27, 2004

Xmas is over,

so why do I have carols still stuck in my head? More specifically, why ONE carol, and not even a cool one, it's one of those sorta non-mainstream 50's-ish ones, where you kinda expect The Andrews Sisters or a big brass section to suddenly jump in and start swinging. And it's not even the whole song, it's two verses. "merry bells keep ringing/happy holidays/to you-ooooo" Perry Como or someone.

Why????

Perhaps by playing old sea shanties I can exorcise the demons in my head that insist on playing their Victrola.

And so why is it still insisting on being 28 degrees out? It's Louisiana, for crying out loud, it's TROPICAL. 28 degrees outside is unnatural, like newspaper comics. It just ain't right. My motorcycle thinks I've permanently abandoned it, when the truth is that it's so cold I'm afraid that even a short ride would make my joints fuse into 'rider's crouch' and I would have to work all day looking like Miguel Duhammel getting through Turn 12 at Road America.

I can just see it now-

Irr: "Can I help you, sir?"
Wife: "Oh my god, it's a hunchback!"
Husband: "Nooo, dear, it's only a roadracer. They get that characteristic 'rider's crouch' when they get older and cannot race anymore. Do not fear him, we should instead pity him."
Irr: (John Merrick-ing) "I am not a roadracer, I am a man!"
Wife: "Let's go someplace else, like Wal-Mart. They don't hire cripples OR old roadracers."
Husb: "Yes, dear, I think you're probably right."
Irr: (frothing and twitching)
Homestar: "I say there monstrosity, do you know the times?"

It's not easy, being a salesman.

Dec 26, 2004

Soup Toureen of the Gods

At what point did I change? At which stage of my life did I go from hating the idea of getting clothes to the absolute joy of getting them? When the hell did this happen, and why wasn't I informed about it? Where does it say in the User's Manual that at some point a switch would be thrown, a neuron jiggled, some sort of chemical re-equilibrium would occur that would make me appreciate clothing as Xmas gifts.

I guess working for a living and supporting a family helped that along. Realising how much clothing COSTS probably helped. And having to debate carefully the benefits vs the drawbacks of clothing vs running water probably added fuel to the designer fire.

One of the simple joys of after-Xmas for me is going back to work (no, that's not it, this is) wearing new clothes. Granted the work shirt is the same old rag, two years old or better, worn almost to the point that the collar is starting to sprout those little white spots where the fabric has worn completely through. The rest, however, is new. New, sharply-creased black chinos (pleated front with cuffs, natch--sharp) and a new pair of boxers (red with tiny gold stylized carnations) and a new pair of argyle socks. Is there no more beautiful set of words in the English language than "new argyle socks"? Oooh, how it rolls off the tongue.

"Good morning, Irrelephant. How was your Xmas?"
"New argyle socks."

"Excuse me sir, do you carry Polariod film?"
"New argyle socks."

"Uhm, yeah, I'm looking for this wire thing that I have to have so my kids can hook up their X-Box, it's sort of this one wire plug on the end and on the other there's supposed to be like a box and three wires that come out of it and a USB cable that sticks in the computer so they can play it on the internet and I have dial-up and it's suppsed to have like red and white and blue or some coloured plugs on it...do you have that?"
"New argyle socks."

"How much is this?"
"Get the f**k off my back, jerk! I've got new argyle socks! Why the f**k aren't you at work or at your tiny grease-smelling home, with your slack-jawed Cheeto's-eating soap-opera-watching wife and all your damned snot-nosed loud filthy dirt children?"

Okay, so the last one is more like how it goes in my head, and the first three are more like how it goes in that Perfect World that the credit card company is always advertising about.

Reality stinks. I reject your reality and substitute my own. Thank you, Adam Savage.

Dec 25, 2004

Meow, baby!

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It's Xmas Day eve, I have to return to work tomorrow, which bites major, and everyone expects me to blog something Xmas-y, some sugar-sweet walk down memory lane, or a sober reflection on times past from a man getting older every year, perhaps sensing his own mortality in the depth of winter.

Nope. I'm gonna talk about laundry. Not even gonna gripe about how I only heard The Little Drummer Boy three times this entire Xmas season, even tho I listened to xmas carols on the radio at work since the day after Turkey Day. Laundry it is, and laundry today's subject will remain.

And not another word about Spavined Squirrel Kibble.

I have in my little house the following--me, a wife, and one daughter aged 10. We are NOT fashion horses, we don't change clothes eight times a day. My wife likes the occasional soaking bath during the evenings in addition to showering in the morning, but nothing extraordinary. I shower and shave once a day, no more. My daughter washes her face occasionally, bathes when she hasn't washed at her grandmother's house, and that's it. We don't work at exceptionally dirty jobs, nor do we change clothes very often.

Why is it then that I spent a fair share of my morning and all of my evening thus far washing clothes? Sorting clothes this afternoon, I find myself with the following piles clogging the walkway through the den to the washroom--

1 pile of dark towels
1 pile of light towels
1 pile of dark clothes (jeans and the like)
2 piles of light clothes
1 pile of work shirts (blue Oxford striped)
1 pile of intermediate coloured stuff--lavender, etc.
1 huge pile of grey items (grey is the new black)
1 smallish pile of red things

My GAWD, what gives?? One week's worth of clothing, and I've got NINE LOADS OF CLOTHES TO WASH!! And I've got one of those industrial washing machines that, during a bicycle tour of Taiwan I stole from one of Kathy Lee Gifford's sweatshops, and I've STILL got nine loads of clothes to wash, dry, then fold or otherwise put away. And this xmas, more so than any other, all of us got as presents--wait for it--clothes. I swear I'm putting out enough water for washing to fill several large reservoirs with left over for watering the Siani Desert, and enough hot air from the dryer to keep the entire house warm without using the central heat.

Damn, I need to find out some way to harness that hot air, recirculate it into some sort of Rube Goldbergesque machine with about a thousand moving parts and several bowling balls and long chutes and a big baseball glove in there somewhere, a thing that recirculates the hot air (sans lint) into the house again.

On the cool side, it snowed in New Orleans today, probably for the first time since dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

Merry merry merry


Dec 24, 2004

Okay

so cut-and-paste is not my forte. I mean, if I wanted to I'm sure I could sit here for hours and painstaking hours with training manuals and tutoring and learn how to seamlessly blend pictures of humans with animals, but I'm not a furry, have no desire to BE a furry, and think that furries need to crawl back into their parent's basements and get some deep therapy. What I AM happy doing is a three-minute cut-and-paste mask operation, and with a resize and maybe a rotate freehand I can haphazardly stick two pictures together.

Roxor!


I called Santa

today, asking if I was still on the "Good" list. He laughed. He being jolly and and elf and all that, I thought it just came with the territory, and perhaps was just an automatic response. I further asked him if I'd be getting any gifts this year. He said "Over your dead body."

I asked him "Exactly how am I supposed to take that, Santa?"

He replied: "Lying down."

Merry Xmas, yo.


Stolen

from Mr. Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac."

*****************
It was on this day in 1914 that the last known Christmas truce occurred, during World War I. German troops fighting in Belgium began decorating their trenches and singing Christmas carols. Their enemy, the British, soon joined in the caroling. The war was put on hold, and these soldiers greeted each other in "No Man's Land," exchanging gifts of whiskey and cigars. Recently killed soldiers were returned behind their own lines and given proper burials, and soldiers from both sides attended ceremonies. In many areas, the truce held until Christmas night, while in other places the truce did not end until New Year's Day. One story has it that the opposing sides played a soccer match together. The game ended when the ball deflated on a strand of barbed wire.

British commanders Sir John French and Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien disapproved of the truce, and they ordered artillery bombardments on Christmas Eve in the remaining years of the war. Troops were also rotated with regularity to keep them from growing too familiar with the enemy troops in the close quarters of trench warfare. The Christmas truce was a war tradition of the 19th century, and its disappearance marked the end of wartime protocols of that time.
******

Gawd Above, we can't have the troops being all friendly with each other, especially not the bloody ENEMY, now can we? I mean, good will, an open and giving nature, thoughtfulness, exchanging GIFTS? Honestly, where would it all END?

Makes me think of the grand old days of aviation, when military pilots were not stuck up snobbish prigs with delusions of grandeur but were gentlemen fliers, men with a smattering of knowledge and a lot of guts, and were all part of a small brotherhood that respected each other, even tho each other might be the enemy. I know, politeness has no place in war, but if there was more politeness, mightn't there be a little less of what we have now?

Merry Xmas, everyone.


Dec 23, 2004

Until she gets a goofy pic

for me to put on here, I'll have to rely on it just being a link. My adopted daughter--she's not the wee irrelephant, she's the not-so-big-to-get-a-whoopin'-irrelephant--just started her own blog! Yahooie! Go see it. Now.

I shall endevour to get a goofy pic posted on the sidebar so you can go see it always.


A little something to think about

While you're busy digging under the tree to see how many presents you got this year, read this site. It's long, and the English isn't top notch, but I'd say fairly good for a young Ukranian woman turned amateur archaeologist.

I wonder if Iraqi children will be doing the same thing in forty or fifty years.

Dec 22, 2004

Oh I say, do you know the times?

This kind of thing makes me ashamed to admit I'm from the South. Why didn't old girl just take a picture of herself and have it made into a billboard with a giant arrow pointing to her stupidly grinning mug with the caption "Racist Whore." We have enough problems without people like this walking around. Someone needs to chemically neuter her, so she doesn't pollute the gene pool.

Then again, I'm awfully glad I don't live in Chicago, either. Old boy lived there three or four YEARS. William Gibson, please take a bow. Me, I love it when Life With A Capital "L" imitates Art With A Capital "A." They didn't say in the article if old boy owned any books or not, tho. He sounds pretty damned smart, tho.

Me, I'm gonna just kill the next person who runs up to me with a wildly panicked look in their eye and, hanging on my clothing, pants up into my face "Do you have any Playstations?" One swift jab to the throat and I'm gonna call for the next person in line to step up. Or over, as the case may be.

Dec 21, 2004

Wanna feel humiliated?

No, it's not the lead-up to a lame joke about looking in the mirror, it's a clever website designed to let you test your own life accomplishments against people just like yourself. Plug in some accomplishments, wait about a month, then check your rankings--you might be astounded, you might be proud, and you might want to delete the last few off there because it can be fairly humiliating.

No, really.

The highest I've attained yet is a 71st percentile, the lowest...well, the lowest was a cheap plug for this blog, which didn't work, so I deleted it. *lol* See, the problem is that someone out there isn't pulling his or her weight in telling everyone, EVERYONE about this blog. Shame on you.

Dec 20, 2004

I rest my case

Ms (or is it Mrs.?) LeGuinn checks in on the Sci-Fi Channel version of her book.

On another hand entirely, I think the scientific name for it is "earthworming" or "earthworms." No, not nightcrawlers, it's when a song gets stuck in your head and you cannot exorcise it. I wake up surprisingly often with songs in my head, but they usually fade along with the memory of whatever dream I was having that night. This morning I've still got remnants of the dream (one of those college-stress dreams) and I have a ten second loop of "March of The Toreadors" from Bizet's opera "Carmen" stuck in there. All I get is a big Spanish tenor singing "Tor-E-A-Dor-A...dum de dum da dum..."

Please make it stop!!

Dec 19, 2004

My cats and their Sunday.

My cats have good Sundays. Me, I have occasional good Sundays; when I don't work, that is. Usually I get to do housework, which is good therapy, or work in the shop, which is also decent therapy. Turning wood into sawdust is my life ambition. My cats have nothing BUT good Sundays, because the only work they have to do is make sure that they're awake when Mama gets up to get "pouch" (soft food) for them.

Part of my Sunday routine is putting fresh sheets on the bed, and that always involves piles of sheets, clean and dirty, pillowcases, clean and dirty, and at least two cats, usually dirty.

Egan and Delilah. Both of them feel that it's quite necessary for them to be involved as deeply as possible in the bed-making process. Dee prefers being under the sheets when I billow them to make them reach the other side of the bed. She seems perfectly happy to run into the very center of the bed and huddle into a fluffy calico lump before the sheet floats down, so she can then start a sort of mole-like burrowing around and around underneath, until she finds Egan and attacks him from under the sheets, or I finally get tired of her creeping around leaving fur behind and slap the bed flat-handed, which usually makes her accelerate rapidly in a straight line, until she reaches a ledge.

Egan's preferred method of attack involves him being as tangled up in the sheet as possible BEFORE I billow it, so instead of getting a nice easy loft and float, I get instead a truncated "boom" and a highly motivated white and orange cat kicking madly at wads of cloth, front feet grasping and pulling as much as he can toward himself, all the while chewing madly on mouthfulls of 320 count percale.

Agaku, the Queen of the House never bothers with silly things like bed-making. She's usually all about sleeping on whatever pile of laundry just came out of the dryer. I seem to go through about six or seven loads of laundry a week, and the process usually involves tossing one pile of dry clean clothes on the couch and letting it sit while I unload the washer's load into the dryer and then fill the washer with another colour and some more powder, and starting the whole shebang off again, so I can stand in front of the couch and fold the last load. In those brief intervening minutes Agaku can come out of a sound sleep, make it all the way across the house and into that pile of clothes and then be BACK ASLEEP before I finish loading dryer and washer. She will then remain right there, rolling and falling and thumping, STILL ASLEEP, until there is no more laundry left, not even a lost sock. When I fold the last bit she will awaken, fix me with a jaded eye, and go back to wherever she was sleeping.

Cracker used to get into the bedsheets, but doesn't bother any longer. His Sunday usually involves waiting for me to leave my chair, so he can curl up in the warm spot on the seat. That's about it. That, and rubbing his declawed front feet (we didn't do it, he came that way) on whatever doorframe is closest to me, staring up at me with the most intense look.

Babel, my dear crazy tortie usually just hides somewhere until I'm done with a particularly involved bit of housework, whatever it might happen to be, then she appears magically in front of my ankles and begins signaling in her little broken Siamese meow until I pay attention to her. The only good use for a bed, in her mind, is for me to be in it and warm, so she can stake out a warm spot on top before Agaku gets there. The only good use for a pile of warm clothes is to attract the other cats so they'll leave her alone. Same for doorframes, although she does fancy the occasional venture out onto the patio, where she can watch the outside world go by without it wanting to get too involved with her personal space.

Whoever said housework was boring must own a dog.

Dec 18, 2004

Self Help and the Married Soldier

You know, it's becoming a strain to come up with catchy titles for each and every post. I do my best to post every day, sometimes missing a day, sometimes posting twice or (*gasp*) three times in a day to make up for it (and I haven't done that since I was dating, for those of you with dirty minds.)

I wasn't going to apologise for last night's ranting about books-turned-movie, but I was going to expound a little bit.

Don't get me wrong. I know that there will always be movie or tv adaptations of books. Authors sell the rights in search of more exposure and money, widows do the same thing for probably similar reasons. I think, however, that people should take more care in the chosing of directors and producers, and retain more control over the finished product. Again, there are sterling examples, and there are movies that should be made an example of.

Lord of The Rings. Peter Jackson took an utterly mammoth project into his camp with J. R. R. Tolkien's master opus, and did a phenomenal job with it. He took out bits I would have liked to see (Tom Bombadil leaps to mind) and he edited J. R. R.'s often very Middle English complexities of language to make it approachable to modern viewers (what was three pages of somewhat convoluted speech in the book became one line to Arragorn--"Let's go hunt some orcs.") He also changed the story just a little bit, and no, I'm not going to mention The Evenstar, because I know why he had to do it, I was going to suggest that it might have been more fun to see Wormtongue throw the pallantir (sp?) scrying crystal at Gandalf and Co., rather than the movie's version, where it sort of just fell when Sauriman was killed, which was also a rather liberal adaptation. BUT, all in all, I cannot complain, because he took what could have been a colossal failure and turned it into a completely memorable experience that kept me wound up for almost four years. Bravo.

(And if you don't do The Hobbit, Jackson, you pudgy barstard, I will keep emailing you daily, calling your cel phone and leaving nasty notes in your post office box until you do. I HAVE to see Smaug on the big screen, with a truly powerful voice and incredible size and utterly fearsome demeanour, and a mountain of gold for a bed.)

Now then.

Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers. I read the book in the late 70's as a younger man, and was quite taken by it. Not only was it a 'true war' sort of thing, it was science fiction, and I could relate to Ricco completely, because he was a somewhat spoiled young boy trying to come to grips with the real world, a tremendous loss, AND the military, all at the same time. Not a complete mirror of my life, but enough similarities existed that when Ricco failed, I felt crushed, and when he succeeded, I was elated.

I forget what movie my wife and I and a bunch of friends were watching, but we saw the previews for "Starship Trooper" play, and a dear friend of mine and I sat astounded, mouths agape, freaking utterly out, because we knew it could only be one of two books--Starship Troopers or Armor by John Steakley. When the final credit ran, it stated in gigantic type:

Starship Trooper
by
Robert A. Heinlein
Coming to theaters
Summer 19XX.

We went utterly insane, no doubt offending many people around us. Then, strangely enough, by the time the movie actually MADE it to the theater a year or so later, Ginny Heinlein, widow of Robert, decided wisely to pull her husband's name from the movie, because Paul Veerhoven, the director, had bastardised it from a story of a young man's growth into manhood amidst the horror of war (ala Kipling) into "Robocop In Space, Now With More Blood!" replete with needlessly gruesome scenes of bloodshed, carnage, more bloodshed, a body count to rival ANY modern horror movie, and more than a few completely gratuitious scenes of dismemberment, heads exploding, body parts flying, people getting scissored in half by steel doors and etc. It still didn't help that a movie based on an utterly marvelous book still bore the stamp of Heinlein, and of course every reprint of the book from then forward bore the logo "Now A Major Motion Picture."

The second movie? Straight to video, and I hear it's ten times as bad.

I know it can be done. It HAS been done. Take a great book, make it into a great movie without changing it too deeply. Look at A&E's presentations of Nero Wolfe. Timothy Hutton produced two and a half seasons of utterly MARVELOUS adaptations of Rex Stout's stories, with an excellent ensemble cast, beautiful costuming, great casting, and the folks at A&E thought the numbers it was producing were not high enough, so they cancelled it. But somehow, the Poirot mysteries go on and on and on. I watched a few of them--they STINK ON ICE. So, I don't understand the Industry. Guess I never will, but it certainly will not stop me from bashing it whenever it takes a horrid turn for the worse.


postscript--forgive me for changing grammatical style in mid-stream, but I recalled this morning that in proper grammer you underline the title of a book, but put in quotes the name of a movie, and I'm not about to go back to re edit previous posts. My bad, I'm aware of it, so sorry.


Dec 17, 2004

Shoot(ing) me now

I weep for the future.

John Carter,

Warlord of Mars, classic Golden Age Sci-Fi space opera, about to be blazoned on the big screen.

Why the sudden rush to sci-fi heroes and comic book superheroes? And why does Hollowierd have to keep digging up dead authors and spanking them crosseyed? Because they can't sue anymore? Phil K. Dick, Robt. Heinlein, Arthur Clarke, Dr. Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Phillip Jose Farmer and Ursula K. LeGuinn (on the SciFi Channel, no less,)...and some of them aren't even allowed to be dead yet before they see their might and majesty ruin'd by some splotchy, barely post-pubescent director with delusions of grandeur.

Yeah, I'm tired, but durn, I'm getting to where I'm afraid to go into the theater anymore, for fear of seeing yet another of my cherished childhood memories ravaged. And I'll be the first to admit that Peter Jackson's treatment of the Holy Trinity was utterly marvelous, but that was, I firmly believe, a one in a hundred shot. Just look at "Daredevil." Go on, I dare you.

Watch out, Mr. Bradbury, they're already beaten down "The Martian Chronicles," now they're redoing "Fahrenheit 451," as if the original super-low budget franco-version wasn't bad enough. And they don't even have the decency to let you make it to your grave before it's release. Next thing you know they're going to try to film wonderous Uncle Einar and his green silk-gossamer-sail wings. Oh, my aching head.

Give me the rustle and smell of a good book and the candlepower wattage of my brain any day.

101 years ago

On this day in 1903, two secretive brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully completed the first powered flight, at a little beach called Killdevil Hills in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Wright brothers had been practicing there with gliders for two years by this point, and by 1903 they had built an engine that would allow them to fly, and developed a method for steering during flight. The first flight, made by Orville, lasted twelve seconds and was recorded in a now-famous photograph, taken by a group of local sea-rescue volunteers. The final flight, made by Wilbur, lasted the longest: fifty-nine seconds.

So, in honor of that 101st anniversary, today is the day we bomb the enemy sheep.


No, that's not right. What's like a sheep, only steel and can bring down an aircraft?


Right, got it now. Today is the day we bomb the enemy anti-aircraft emplacements.

Dec 16, 2004

I, Robot, disgusted at Hollowwood....

I never posted it here, but when I first saw the trailers for I, Robot, the latest Will Smith venue, I flipped completely out. The NS-5s were beautiful, the fx promised to be top notch, and the trailers were sooo syrupy generic like a Microsoft commercial that I was taken in for a second. Even a good director--Alex Proyas, of "The Crow" and "Dark City" fame.

Then I saw the list of actors.

Then I saw the plot synopsis.

Then I realised that they were going to take Dr. Asimov's ground-breaking precedent-setting book, turn it over a couch and spank it until it screamed bloody murder.

And they did.

Granted, if you ignore the book's existence, the movie wasn't all that bad. I know, I say that a lot about books-to-movies, but I feel that THAT genre is a complete whoring, and almost never returns good results. And speaking of books turned into an infinite array of horrible movies, they really had to slather the "Frankenstein" mythos on pretty hard for the modern generation, but hey, look at the target audience.

Okay. The good things--

The FX were superb. They'd better be, with today's computation powers. Sonny was portrayed the same way Gollum was done; an actor in a green body suit. Made for some beautifully human expressions overlaying a very artificial framework. Nice.

Product placements were, at least in one instance, funny. The FexEx robot, painted in the FedEx red/blue pattern gave me quite a laugh. And the interplay of humans and robots on the city-street scenes in the beginning were very well played--I particularly liked the sanitation crew, painted in "highway worker orange" working in the background.

The Audi concept car (designed by Audi for the movie, I'm told) was beautiful. Fake, but beautiful.

Spheroid-tired cargo haulers--THOSE were neat. Combination of train and diesel truck riding on ball-like tires, able to change direction effortlessly, that was tres' cool.

And I'll give him (Proyas) this--the pathos wasn't overplayed. Too much. Smith's walk through the Lake Michigan storage facility, with Farmer Hoggett's voice-over asking why robots would seek the light in a dark place, and why, if left by themselves for a long period they seek out each other's presence...I don't think Asimov actually covered any of that, and it makes no sense (do toasters seek each other's company in the kitchen?) and don't tell me that Farmer Hoggett's speech on 'random programming bits' hooey made sense, but all in all, it still twanged a heartstring. I'm also an anthropomorphizing softie (who can't spell big words.)

Nyhoo. Rent it on Two-For-Tuesday, it's not so bad. It's not so good, but it IS pretty well done sci-fi in a generation where that's getting hard to find, unless you like Star Warts.

Dec 15, 2004

24 degrees and nothing on

Okay, so that's a lie. I'm wearing more layers of clothing than most Gypsy women. It's freaking COLD. The title was just a lame Springsteen reference that my syster and maybe one other person will get.

I wasn't, and still amn't sure what to write about this morning. There's always a stock of things I could say about my bike, and about the thrills and joys and inexpressible adrenaline rushes of motorcycling, or I could continue to talk about the cold, but I always feel like a fish talking about air when I discuss the cold. I mean, face it, I live in the Deep South. They call it that for a reason. We're almost Equatorial down here. Plus, living in the Mississippi (yes, I spelled it right) Delta (that means bottom-land, or "swamp" in the common vernacular) it's always humid and warm, so cold here isn't cold elsewhere. And it's a wet cold. *grin*

And so. 24 degrees to me is tantamount to death. And the cats aren't all that crazy over it, either. They have a screened-in back patio that they like to hang out on, talk cat talk, smoke cigarettes, make catcalls at the passing puss...no, not gonna finish that one. 'Nyhoo, this morning they're acting like members of the Polar Bear Club--they go out for a few minutes, realise it's BITTERLY cold out there and that cat pads don't insulate all that great against concrete, and suddenly they're banging on the door to get inside, falling tumble-bumble, pell-mell over each other to get back into the warmth, where they calmly clean themselves, get a bite to eat, then a little more cleaning, then back outside.

Ah, to be a cat. To have no cares except remembering which foot hasn't been cleaned and when my next nap is going to happen.

Me, I'm going to do laundry. Lots of it. Covered in cat hair.



Dec 14, 2004

Frozen but not forgotten

It doesn't get WINTER down here. Really, it doesn't. When trying to sell someone on the idea of a motorcycle, I often tell them that we have a good 10 months of riding weather, and two months that aren't that hard to tough out.

S'truth. Today is the first day it's dropped below freezing. All year, not this month. The high today is in the low 50's, I believe. Tomorrow it's supposed to get down to around 22 degrees overnight, which means that the airport will close, the highways will all crumble into ruin, and half the workforce of this fair city will call in, stranded in their houses.

Granted, I'm wanting to be one of those people, but I'm off tomorrow, and so will likely be called upon by the local volunteer group to man the soup lines, or help the Red Cross Disaster Relief effort, or if it snows soon, to drive the big diesel GMC snow plow to clear the roads of that disastrous one and a half inch snowfall that is keeping god-fearing honest people from leaving their homes.

Ah, life in a Southern town.

I was considering posting this a few days ago (the bit that follows, not that rubbish above) but I have been trying to decide how best to phrase it.

Tell you what, let me get the daughter on the schoolbus (if it can make it through these near-blizzard-like conditions,) and I'll get back to ya.

Dec 13, 2004

Rollerblind

Okay, so I live near an airport. It's not a huge airport, LA doesn't HAVE huge airports. It's a two-runway four gate one building sorta runway, having as it's past a military base for A-10s and, before that, A-7s. Before that it was a B-17 base, but that's back in the mists of time, and is not important to today's story.

What IS important is a signal light on top of a water tower out there. This joker is one of those mega lumen aircraft signal lights, two of them, actually, mounted front-to-back, one white, and one with a green lens. It rotates so that one face shines every two seconds, and the entire back of my house, especially in winter when all the intervening five miles or so of trees are dead, is right in it's path.

What does this mean, I hear you ask? Let me tell you. This means that every two seconds at night each window on the back of my house lights up, green or white, in order; the master bedroom, the master bath, my daughter's bath, the living room, then the kitchen, where it stops, fortunately because my mother's house blocks the rest of my house. I think if it could reach the den, my fish would be insane. There's no wonder my mother is insane, living here for all those years with that idiotically flashing light. I feel sometimes that the Green Lantern and the Silver Surfer are alternating efforts to contact me.

My only survival technique when I grew up here? My bedroom was on the front of the house. My current technique? Thick roller blinds.

Dec 12, 2004

I try not to be bitter

ALL the time, but I cannot help it sometime.

I was reading a blog this morning that lead me to Yahoo!'s (is that the right plural?) movie pages, and I became distraught. Hollywood is busy trying to destroy everything I have come to know and love.

War of the Worlds. Now there's a Hollyweird version, and an Indie version that likely will never be seen anywhere. The HW version is a remake not of the book but of George Pal's movie, which DID NOT NEED TO BE REMADE!!! The Indie version, thankfully, is going to be truer to the book, or so I'm lead to believe. Damn, people, let's wake up here. Why don't we repaint the Sistine Chapel in Tempra paint while we're at it?

The Merchant of Venice. Al Pacino is in it, so it's GOING to be good. Ever since I saw...ah, I always get it wrong...Becoming Richard? Being Richard? Ever since I saw it, I have HUNGERED to see Pacino do Shakespeare, one of the really strong characters. I think this might be a marvelous direction for him to take. This I cannot wait for, and no, it's not negative at all, but I wanted to break up the nastiness with something nice.

On with the nastiness.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. What, Gene Wilder wasn't creepy enough for you? I STILL have nightmares about the boat ride down the chocolate river thing, and about flying into huge spinning steel blades. That's not even saying ANYTHING about the years of therapy it took me to get over how downright bizarre Gene Wilder was in that movie. And I really LIKE Wilder, utterly adore Young Frankenstein, but I saw Willy Wonka wayyyy too young, and it marked me. Now Tim Burton is gonna have at it, which means it's going to be wonderful and amazing and incredible, or it's gonna suck on toast. And it's gonna have Johnny Depp, pale and creepy and Depping all over the place. Sheesh.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. I can see them now, sitting around a big table in a HollowWood film production office.

Film Exec #1 "So, gentlemen, the question before us now is 'What can we screw up today?'"
Film Exec #2 "How about 'I, Robot'?"
Film Exec #1 "Nah, been done."
Film Exec #3 "Phillip K. Dick?"
FE #1 "Nah, been done too often."
FE #4 "Hey, what about Star Wars?"
FE #1 "No, Lucas is doing that to himself, he don't need OUR help."
FE #5 "Heinlein?"
FE #1 "Nope, 'Starship Troopers V: More Buckets of Blood and Intestines--Straight To Video' is due out next week."
FE #2 "Hey, how about Douglas Adams--he's dead now, he can't sue."
FE #2 "Who is he? I never heard of him."
FE #3 and #4 in unison "Yeah! That'd be great! Let's go dig him up and stick one in his a**."

I swear, this is how it has to happen. In a real world this sort of thing shouldn't happen. Like "I, Robot" shouldn't have happened.

I'm about ready to quit the field in disgust.

Dec 10, 2004

The End Times

are here, no doubt about it.

William "Wild Bill" Shatner has released another album, this one entitled, appropos enough, "Has Been." On this marvel of vocal styling, Billy Boy relies on the help of other singers, which is not surprising--a voice of that caliber cannot stand alone. What really gives me the grip? He's teamed up on one of the songs with...

wait for it...

Henry Rollins.

Henry "Hank" Rollins: World's Angriest Man, powerful voice, powerful emotion, body like a damned diesel train engine, and a brain to boot. In the words of Homsar "I-I-I'm not gonna lie to youuu, that's a healthy piece of real estate."

WHY the hell is he teamed up with William Shatner: World's Biggest Scene Chewer, undulating voice, smirking emotion, and a body like a...well, you can't tell for certain under that girdle. Does he need the money? I'll give him money. Does he need the fame? Uhm...perhaps he needs the imfamy? He certainly can't need the publicity boost--old boy is in movies, on the radio, does speaking engagements, tours his Spoken Word shows all over the world, and now this.

Shatner.

Makes my spleen itch.



Dec 9, 2004

Worried about stem-cell research?

If so, you've got bigger fish to fry, my friend.

I posted that link to a discussion group I belong to, a tight circle of my friends, and someone mentioned the old Sci-Fi flic "Saturn 3," wherein a dashing young Harvey Keitel and his brain-powered robot try to rape Farrah Faucett, before she was -Majors, and as I told him, "when the term 'foxy' was still freely used amongst school-age boys."

I had actually been thinking more along the lines of "Earth Vs The Flying Saucers," that wonderful mid 50's or so Ray Harryhausen effects movie, where the saucers were all piloted by disembodied brains that hung from the ceiling on long black poles, looked like glowing white paper chrysanthemums, and they all had sort of an Orsen-Wells-speaking-through-a-vibraphone voice. THOSE were the days.

So this is the part where I launch off into a long diatribe about science-fiction being right, and that Jim Kirk wasn't carrying a communicator, he was carrying a Nokia 6200 cellular phone with the Enterprise set on Speed Dial 1, and we just didn't know it, but I'm not. You've got brains, you do the math.

Me, I'm gonna complain about my daughter's bus driver. This guy is driving around in a 52 passenger GMC schoolbus, and he drives like he's on fire. Now, keep in mind I like my speed too, but I'm responsible for me, not for a pack of kids behind me. And granted, the worst accident he's had that I know of is the other week when he got kicked in the head or something by a horse of his, which I would have thought would do him well, but I guess I was wrong on that count, too. Ah well.

Anyway, Al Unser here comes up the lane every morning SAILING, and does this last-minute braking maneouver that would make the space shuttle blush with envy, just short of squealing those big bias-ply 80 psi tires, and I just KNOW that every little kid in there has got his or her backpack pressed up against the seat back in front, pushing for all their might because each and every one has at least once had their face smashed up against that green vinyl when Steve McQueen made a bootlegger's turn around some neighborhood cul-de-sac, flinging unprepared kinder hither and yon.

Me? I rode the bus when I was a kid. Rode it until I was 15, and could drive. Which, granted, if you'd seen my truck back then you'd WISH I had stayed in the bus, but again, that's neither here nor there.

Mine was a 1978 model, in Burgundy, with gold pinstriping and black interior.

I still miss that damned thing.

Mine was a '78,

Dec 7, 2004

Orlando Bloom

is a BUDDHIST now?

Where the hell is that beer truck?

I, Robot didn't tell you ANYTHING?

Please god, oh please oh please let me be hit by a speeding beer truck riiiight...

War of the Worlds Movie

NOW.

If the blog is rockin'

Uhm..well, it's not actually rockin', because The Fates, aka Loki, has been moving against me, it seems. Yesterday morning, my usual posting time, BlogSpot was having some sort of family issues or a bad hair day or some sort of sexual ambivalance, whatever, it wasn't working. That evening, as you can no doubt tell by my post, BlogSpot came back. This morning? Out of a clear blue sky (okay, so it was 6 am, and the sky, while clear, was black, not blue) the power went out. For an hour and a half, which means by the time I was able to blog I had to leave to go to work.

Yay.

Interestingly enough, I slept through a tremendous storm last night, bad enough that the neighbor's shed roof blew off.

I love living in a brick house.

Dec 6, 2004

I guess I can't complain.

I mean, I could have my left foot nailed to a weasel. I could be personally infested with parasites. I could be falling down Rickenback Falls, locked in combat to the death with Doctor Moriarty.

But I complain anyway.

I like Blogger. Don't get me wrong. It's cool and all, it's fun, it's easy as hell (well, easy) to operate, but DAMNED, you would think that someone as big as Google could make the site stay put for more than 24 consective hours. I had a big-arse post this morning ready and willing to go, wrote it all out, hit the big old orange "Publish Post" button, and the little rotating pyramid thing junk appeared, and locked on "0%." I sat with my daughter while she ate breakfast. I stood with her waiting for the bus, which was late this morning. I came back inside, washed my hands because I had been petting the dog who was quite wet and therefore quite foul, and looked in on my computer, which at some point had lost sight (get it? site....sight...it's a pun or something) of Blogger entirely. I guess it dissapeared into the giant morass of 14 year olds hiding in their parent's basement that is the WWW as a whole.

William Gibson sees the internet as Cyberspace, a wonderous consensual hallucination where data is represented as geometric shapes arrayed on an infinite grid. This is a wonderful idea. The reality of Cyberspace is that it's millions and millions of freakishly deformed gnomes living in trailers on the outskirts of Memphis, Atlanta, and the entire state of Nebraska, whose only connection with the real world is a struggling 1.2 mhz Dell that only has 20 more payments due on it and a phone line.

And they're all blogging.

Hang on, I gotta get this call, it's Dell, and they want another payment.

Dec 5, 2004

Okay, I'll admit...

I'm a roight barstard for not posting on the weekends, but I'm always either working or running my silly arse off trying to take care of all the things that I didn't have TIME to do during the week, while I was, oh, AT WORK.

Here--part of a letter I sent my dear syster. A fair bit of Lattice of Coincidence, and if you don't know what that is, you NEED to watch "Repo Man." At least once

Plate. Or shrimp. Or plate of shrimp.

Anyway.

Entirely by accident I caught part of "Drake and Josh on Nick," after flipping past "The Blues Brothers," the greatest movie everr, which is marathoning on AMC or something tonight. Anyway, D & D were in a talent contest at their school. And what, I hear you ask, was it they were going? The Blues Brothers.

Okay, that in itself is wrong. NOBODY could do it as good as Belushi and Aykroyd. Nobody. Aykroyd couldn't even do it that well in "Blues Brothers 2000." The magic was simply gone. Don't be letting a couple of prepubescent boys try it.

Second, these kids are so young they can have NO concept of who Belushi was, what he represented, and how he was, and I guarantee could not have even been alive when he died. And for that matter, Dan Aykroyd is old enough to be their great grandfather.

Which makes me think of the strangeness of the silver screen, on which people can attain immortality. Of a sort.

Craziness.

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses." - Elwood

"And I'll throw in the black keys for free." - Ray

Dec 4, 2004

There's paths, and there's PATHS.

In 1872, on this day, the U.S. Brigantine "Mary Celeste" was found drifting in the Atlantic Ocean between the Azores and Portugal. The ship was completely deserted-—the captain's table was set with an uneaten meal, and the lifeboat was missing. But there was only slight damage to the ship's rigging, and it's cargo of 1,700 barrels of alcohol was intact.

The mystery of how this ship came to be emptied, untouched, and adrift has never been solved. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writing under a pseudonym, wrote a fictionalized account of the ship called "Marie Celeste."

It was the act of reading this tale when I was very young that got me interested in the paranormal, ghosties and ghoulies and lang-legged beasties, and naturally, horror stories, specifically Edgar Allen Poe. I can remember quite clearly begging my mother to buy me a small, hardbound volume of Mr. Poe's stories, and how it both utterly delighted and utterly terrified me.

So. Blame a curious circumstance surrounding an empty ship on why I am so f**ked up. *grin*

Dec 3, 2004

The next time

someone sees me in full cycling regalia, helmet in hand, and asks "Oh, do you ride a motorcycle?" I'm going to have to insert my helmet in a very uncomfortable and unlikely place. No handing out of signs, no gentle smiles and nods, just wildly improbable insertion.

Leaving work yesterday, a guy of indeterminate age pulled the above stunt on me, and not wanting to lose my helmet until post-operative procedures, played along with the sap. What ensued was twelve minutes of him telling me about wrecks he's been involved in, wrecks his kid was involved in (moron tried to learn how to ride on a 700 pound 1100 V-twin) and wrecks that friends of his got into and either did or didn't survive. He went on to regale me, Ancient Mariner-like, about his years in law enforcement, being offered at retirement a Harley-Fergusson Police Special, and how he would never ride again, having (everyone now) wrecked a bike when he was young.

Wow. I had no idea these things were so dangerous! What was I thinking! I'll go and trade my rolling ball of death for something with less soul and fun, like a Ford Tarus, or maybe even one of those ultra-hot Mini Coopers, those are all the rage, and I hear it takes at least a 45 mph wind to blow one upside down.

Or maybe I could buy a Civic and spend thousands and thousands of dollars making it LOOK like it goes really fast, and in truth just making it annoyingly coloured, chain-saw sounding, and bass-heavy. Oh, and for all those moronic little children who like to put the big spoilers on the back deck of your car? Hey, milquetoast, a spoiler makes aerodynamic force push DOWNWARDS. You've got a front-wheel drive car, so the faster you go, the more the wind pushes your BACK END down, which makes the front end ride UP. Remember the front end? The bit with the drivetrain and the STEERING? I'd certainly want that part up maintaining the least tenuous hold on the asphalt if I were travelling at high speeds.

*sigh*

It's one of those days where I'm so fed up with stupidity that I could climb a water tower. Fortuntately there's only one more day of work, then two off, xmas preparations with the family to look forward to, the picking out of the tree and the trimming and the decorating and all, the wonderful smells of cooking and the tree in the house, and yes, spending gobs of money that I don't really have but what the hell, eh?

Ah well. Tempus Fugits and all that. Must fly. On my MOTORCYCLE. In the DARK. With only about a grand in safety gear on my back and skull. And my training.

sheesh.

Dec 2, 2004

Riddle me this, Batman

If a guy who is a transvestite enjoys competitive horse riding, does that make him a cross dressager?

4 am

4 am is honestly too early for anyone or anything to be up. My cats are still asleep, the fish are all asleep, hell, my wife won't be awake for another 6 hours. I swear I am the only living thing in this house.

4 am is the time when, finding yourself awake, you walk into the kitchen and buy yourself a shot of vodka, to keep the Night Wolf away. And you take a few half shots just in case she brought her cubs. THEN you return to bed.

4 am is the time when ALL the traffic lights are blinking, and while this is usually the opportunity you've been waiting for, when you can hum "Crockett's Theme" to yourself and drive through all those blinking yellow lights at 80 mpgh, acting like you're Sonny Crockett in your white Ferrari Testarossa chasing the bad guys, it ends up in 4 am reality as the time you simply put your head down against the steering wheel and pray that you get to where you're going by inertia, hoping your muscle memory remembers the right turns.

Dec 1, 2004

May you live in interesting times

You've heard the old Chinese curse, no doubt.

I was thinking this morning, while I stood freezing, waiting for the bathroom heater to warm up, that we live in interesting times.

You'll have to forgive me; my humour engine, much like my truck's engine, doesn't run well until it's warm, and I've got the choke pulled out all the way right now, so it's gonna be a little rough for a while.

We live in a George Jetson era. I woke up this morning to a cold house simply because I am lazy. I have one of those marvelous (and I mean MARVELOUS) electronic thermostats that controls my central A/C and heat. I program it for four different temperature changes over a 24 hour period for M-F, and can do the same for the weekend. Granted, when I installed this wonder of modern technology, I had quite a go of it. My old mobile home, gott rest it's sagging soul, had the old-style rotator wheel thermostat, and I disliked it. Working as I did, at the time, at a home improvement whorehouse, I came in contact with all sorts of nifty rubbish, including programmable electronic thermostats. Bought one, brought it home, and installed it in about five seconds flat. It worked from the onset, I programmed it, and for the next six or seven years I lived in thermostatically controlled comfort.

Keep in mind that the insulation in that place was so bad that a temperature drop outside of twenty degrees (not uncommon in LA) could easily drop the ambient room temperature inside the house a good fifteen degrees, and you see why it was necessary.

So, when we moved into our new domocile, I installed a new electronic thermostat, to replace the 30 year old box that was on the wall. It only took me about three hours of bashing and cursing. So, I lost hope in myself, finished the install, got it working, and didn't change the temperature settings from the factory ones.

This shall henceforth be referred to as Mistake Number 1.

The factory settings for summer were quite adequate. The temp stayed nice and moderate during the day, and at night dropped a few degrees, for sleeping comfort. In the mornings it would be cool, and after 10 or so in the morning it would allow the house to warm slightly, while it was empty, then cool down again before we got home at 5.

Not so winter's settings.

Sadly, I didn't notice it until this morning.

This house does not drop temperature readily. Brick and heavily insulated, a shift of fifteen degrees outside might result in a few degrees difference inside and a change in temperature of the concrete slab the house rests on. Last night the temp plummeted from a moderate 74 or so down to 34. The thermostat, blindly following it's factory settings, lowered the house temp to 70 that afternoon, and held it steady there until, I assume, sometime around 11pm or midnight, at which time it reset itself to 12 degrees. This morning the house was a tropical 63 degrees, the heater wasn't due to turn the heat up to 70 until 6 am or thereabouts, and I almost broke my legs trying to keep my feet from touching the suddenly permafrosted floor.

I can hear you Yankees already telling me I'm whining, that 63 is not cold. I know this. In the depths of LA's winter I ride my motorcycle in a summer-weight jacket when it's 35 outside, and like it. That's if I'm given time to prepare for it, layer clothing, and get warmed inside before I step outside. This morning was more along the lines of

a) wake up
b) don't realise how cold it is outside the blanket
c) fling blanket off
d) allow body temperature to drop from a nice 98.6 to 63 degrees
e) begin keening in a very high, girlish pitch because my testicles have retracted so fast they caught in my throat

So this evening, I shall change my thermostat settings.

Honest.

Right now I've got to go and begin the fifteen minute process of warming up my truck engine.

Outside.

In the cold.

Alone.

Hemmingwayesque.