Mar 29, 2005

Three Words

Describe blogs and the internet in general: traffic, traffic, traffic.

I know, that's cleverly stolen from real estate, but there's an interesting thing going on that I want people to consider here, and that's readership. Now that the internet is becoming such a global thing (I hear IBM is shipping Thinkpads out to tribes of pygmies in Borneo with geosynchronous sattelite connections) that it's starting to engender a whole new way of doing things. In small chunks.

I know when I was growing up, if it was an LP (you know, those big round black vinyl thingies) or a book (that'd be bound, printed paper) if I liked the author or creator I would end up going out and buying more of the same, until I had exhausted the supply or the creator died. I was always a very linear, complete-ive sort, and I'm extrapolating to the population in general because I don't have the resources to make some sort of big study of millions of people, so here we go with the control group of one.

Now that the internet is widely available, and because of the vast resources that it contains, people tend to be more bite-oriented. No longer does one have to sit still for an entire book, or for the news. All you have to do now is Google it and you've got ten thousand different dishes on the same subject, just waiting to be forked in. I've noticed it in my own behaviour, too, on the internet. I was introduced to the world of blogging by a place called "Gus Oppenshaw's Whale Killing Diary" or something to that effect. It was a very funny blog, given to wild flights of fancy concerning Mr. Oppenshaw and his prediliction for killing a certain near-mythical white whale. I found it, read backwards through all the archives, then read it forwards to the current post. From that point I would read each post as they came along, usually every couple of days, and laugh, and go on. And then one day I realised I had stopped. I had completely lost interest in it, and I'm still not sure why.

I know this argument isn't going anywhere in particular, and isn't one of my best, but it's leading me to this point--I've got the little sitemeter down there that tells me how many people visit the site daily, and I've got the "Hot or Not" thing from the guys who brought us Rate my Cat, Rate My Dog, and Rate my Tatas, and I watch the numbers on each going up and down, and wonder just what is going on. How many people have I gained or lost by a turn of phrase that they found particularly distateful or extraordinarily funny? I got one very pleasant comment from a nice lady in south Louisiana for whom my post about the turning of the fields brought back pleasant memories of her time growing up in the country. I know of more than a few friends of mine who read regularly, for their own reasons, who really look forward to hearing from me, even if it is indirectly. I genuinely like knowing that I am able to reach people this way, to know with at least a vague certainty that I can make them smile without being there in person, can keep the connections open even at a great remove.

So what about the rest of the people? The ones that blunder into here quite by accident, the ones who use the little "Next Blog" arrow at the top, like I often do, just relying on pure happenstance and luck to find something good (rarely.) When I sit and start writing in the mornings, still bleary, first cup of tea beside me, cats tear-assing around, I thing about those first few lines. I wonder if they're enough to catch someone's eye, tickle their fancy, start some line of thought long enough to make them want to stick around for the rest, or if by the second or third line they've simply had enough and are going back to "John's World Of Tig Ole Bitties." And sometimes I wonder if I even worry about those people. *lol*

I took a look at my Hot or Not graph this morning--ten ratings, one of which is from my wife, and then way at the bottom I've got ones and twos up there, five ratings under "5." Wow, am I that boring? *lol* Do I suck outloud so badly that I rate a 1? Maybe if I showed more trunk, or if I was a goth chick who was always writing horrible whiney poetry and posting pictures of how pale I've gotten. Or maybe if this was a NASCAR site, and I was writing about my personal experience as Dale Earnhardt's foot rest.

Or maybe I could just, as Polonius said, be true to my ownself.

as an aisde, I will be in Baton Rouge for a corporate orientation seminar this evening and all of tomorrow, so my apologies in advance for those of you dear hearts who tune in each morning for my dose of witicism and foolishness, my tiny bite added to the smorgasboard. I'll be back in the saddle Thursday, latest.

Mar 28, 2005

The Gawds must be crazy

to keep doing things like this to me.

Either that or they're trying one of those 'test to destruction' things. Either way I'm about ready to move to Cuba. I fully realise that winter, in some states, is a real season. I understand that snow (which I'm told is crystals of frozen water) falls from the sky and makes great, menacing mounds and has to be removed by big trucks with plows. It's a part of my knowledge of the universe that the temperature can, in certain remote places, reach the freezing point of water, and that large bodies of water can, in fact, become frozen solid. I even understand the concept of having to have the foundation of your house rigged so hot water can flow through it, heating the home above because it's very cold outdoors.

All that don't mean I've got to endure it.

We had one nice day here in the last week, while I was at work. Sunshine, birds singing, worms doing whatever worms do, people even dared venture out to their Harley-Davidsons, clean the weasels out of the tailpipes, and I'm sure at least 30% of them got their machines running well enough to go out and ride. And then we got slammed. Again. Cloudy mornings, fog, days of wind storms and yes, even another threat of hail. And rain, and more rain. And some more rain for those folks that only got rain. So this morning the sun comes up, wondering just what the hell the point is, and it's clear. Very few clouds, a promising morning. And 44 degrees outside.

DAMN ELVES! It was 85 day before yesterday! Last week I was riding the big lawn tractor around in a T shirt and shorts and was STILL sweating! I've had this cold for a month now, and am tired of blowing my nose on everything in sight. I'm tired of switching wildly between running the heater, opening all the windows in the house, and running the A/C. The local electric plant must think I'm insane. I'm sure I will be when the bill gets here.

You know, I hear they don't even KNOW what cold is in certain tropical islands, like Australia.

Mar 27, 2005

CSI: Louisiana

A crime was committed here last night.

After years of watching television trailers for CSI: Miami, CSI: SVU, CSI: Hawaii, CSI: Havana, hundreds of episodes of Sherlock Holmes, Magnum PI, Quincy ME, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Data dressed up as Sherlock Holmes and went around the Enterprise smoking a calabash pipe and solving a mystery I feel pretty good about my ability to solve this crime.

It seems that last night around 1:30 am (because that's the time I was up and did it) the perpetrator gained entrance to the Irrelephant home. A thorough search of the surrounding ground and entrances showed no sign of forced entry nor footprints in the very wet surrounding ground, so it's my studied opinion that the perpetrator entered by magic.

This photo shows the main evidence at the scene. Obviously the culprit gained entrance to the home, made his way to the refrigerator and gained access to baby carrot sticks. Jelly beans which were stored in a cabinet in the kitchen were also procured. A glass of 2% milk was also gathered from the kitchen and brought into the living room, in front of the television set. Dental evidence on the bitten carrot suggests two very large, very sharp incisors, set in the very front of the culprit's mouth.

The intruder then settled himself on the couch. Hair and fibre evidence gathered shows three different types of white fur--two match the DNA of the family housecats, but the third is similar to that of the species Oryctolagus cuniculus flemish, the Flemish Giant Rabbit. DNA evidence gathered from the saliva on the glass' rim and the plate also bear this theory out. Further investigation of threads found on the back of the couch indicate that the fibers were of a distinctly antique style. The weave of the threads and the dyes used indicate that it was hand-spun wool, and the chemical contents of the dye date it to the mid 1800s, of a particularly nauseating paisley pattern. White hairs matching those on the couch were found on the bowl of the pipe, as well as matching hairs trapped on the leading edges of two of the ceiling fan blades.

The television remote did not show any clear fingerprints of anyone but the family, but it was obvious by turning the television set on that the last channel viewed was The Outdoor Life Channel. The volume on the family stereo receiver was turned quite low, indicated that some caution was taken not to wake the family during this nocturnal viewing.

A note lettered on white lined paper was from the young child in the household, asking the "Easter Bunny" for a pair of Beanie Baby toys, and contained a separate drawing in crayon of the "Easter Bunny" bringing coloured eggs and gifts. The drawing was taken from the scene of the crime by the culprit, but the placement of the letter indicates that it had been removed from the family's kitchen table, was brought to the couch where it was read, the drawing removed, and then the letter was left on the television table in clear view of the person sitting on the couch.

The most damning piece of evidence was the pipe and tobacco smoking articles also found on the table, all of which belong to the only male in the household. The tobacco spilled on the tabletop was also dated to the late 1800s, although surprisingly it was still curiously fresh. The tobacco particles indicate that it is a common blend of Black Cavendish leaf that would have been used quite widely in England in the Victorian Age. The ashtray which sat on the corner of the table was unfortunately removed by one of the regular patrol officers while he snuck a smoke, and before he realised this was a crime scene, but ashes in it matched ashes taken from the pipe resting on the table.

In conclusion, all evidence points to a rabbit able to walk bipedally, standing approximately 6-6 1/2' tall, with upright standing ears which would bring it's total height to almost 8'. This height easily accounts for the hairs found in the ceiling fan. The culprit was last wearing a purpe and green paisley waist coat.

The rabbit entered the home by some means unknown, proceeded to the kitchen, helped himself to carrot sticks and jelly beans and a glass of lowfat milk, seated himself on the family couch, and proceeded to watch OLN on the television. The note left by the child in the kitchen was read, and the drawing kept by the rabbit. After snacking on the food items and finishing off the glass of milk, the culprit then entered the husband's office and procured a meerschaum pipe (perhaps that particular pipe because of it's white, egg-like appearance?,) several pipe cleaners, a tamp and a lighter, and proceeded to smoke a bowl of very old tobacco at the couch.

At some point the culprit's tall, upright ears were struck by the ceiling fan blades. Perhaps the pipe was smoked to soothe his already frayed nerves, but this is just conjecture. After eating and smoking, the culprit, who further DNA studies have revealed as none other than Peter "Hopping Down The Bunny Trail" Rabbit, aka "The Easter Bunny," left a large supply of chocolate treats, child's makeup articles and a rather large stuffed animal, all of which were obviously intended for the young girl living in the household. The child had asked for two small Beanie Baby stuffed animals, it is not certain at this time why the culprit ignored this request and substituted a 3' tall purple rabbit doll instead.

I request that this case be held pending further investigation, as crimes of this sort have been going on for countless centuries across most of the Western world, and little can be done to stop a perpetrator who is liked, nay welcomed into family's homes.

Happy Easter, ya'll.

Mar 26, 2005

Spring picture bonanza!

Yes that's right, we're blowing the doors down with pictures of flowers!

And other Springtime stuff, because I had the camera out this morning and wanted to see how close I could focus on some of these blooming idiots out here. See, the Mother person loves alazeas, and has covered most of the yard in them. They're hell to get started, but once they get settled in they really grow, and age just improves them. Let me tell you, these have had some years to get settled in.

So, most of these are relentless character studies of three or four colours of azalea, with some other spring-ish stuff tossed in. For me one of the great joys of owning a digital camera (and likely the ONLY joy of one) is that I can take hundreds and hundreds of pics and toss most of them away, because they're out of focus, or confusing looking, or whatever, and not be out anything. To me this is a sloppy way to do things, but it sure beats the cost of film for what I consider, for the most part, to be throw-away pictures, or pictures that don't have all that much importance.

So, my diatribe aside, here's the pics.

I don't know what these little lilac coloured buggers are, but they're awfully pretty, and tiny, and scattered all over the outside edges of the flowerbeds, so here you go.

Every garndener and lawn owner knows this little yellow bastard, but still and all they're beautiful little things up close.

This is why we all hate them, and why my father ground his teeth together every time I picked one and blew it in a strong wind across the yard. Sorry, Daddy.

I don't know what species this pink one is, but it reminds me a lot of those tropical lilies.

How about the same, only a little redder.

And a pair a little pinker.

And one last lovely pair.

Every time I see this particularly red specimen I think of Young Frankenstein and want to shout "Damn your eyes!"

I love the white ones. I swear it looks like they're covered in snow when the whole bush is covered in these massive white buggers, and the old ones fall off in the wind and cover the ground.

Okay, had enough? Maybe in a couple of days I can catch one of the Red Wing Blackbirds or a Cardinal on the feeder and do a relentless character study of him or her. Can't wait, can ya?

Mar 25, 2005

There's things on my mind

and no amount of washing has helped.

Terry S. I've been sort of letting the story drift in and out of my ears, and know the basics. My theory? Let her die. She's been dead for 15 years now, let her go. Same with Elvis.

Writing. I write like I do a lot of things--right off the top of my head. No polishing, no rewrites (or minimal, if any) and no long hours agonising over whether people will understand that I DO know how to use the letter "z" but dislike it so I use the letter "s" in it's place, and that I DO know how to spell most big words.

I was reading ScaryDuck earlier this morning, and he was on about how he became a writer. Apparently an ill-paid one, but one who has been awarded numerous recognitions for writing. He attributes his success to writing a LOT, and to polishing said writing a lot.


Not that it doesn't work for him, because obviously it does. He has a massive following, I have a few close friends. I think I know which I prefer. *s* Oh, I bitch about not getting exposure and traffic and all that sort of guff, but when I get right down to it I'd rather talk to a small audience who is listening to me closely than to a jillion who don't know me from Adam.

And that brings me to Good Friday.

Damn that was a sweet link. See? Adam, religion. Good Friday, religious observance. Sweet!

Raised devout Roman Catholic, I know what Good Friday is all about. I know about all the reasons to be off work, to not eat meat, to do all the jumping through hoops that the Church requires. The dear over at My Boyfriend Is A Twat was off-handedly complaining that she has no real clue why her office is closed on Good Friday (MINE isn't!) and was wondering exactly what was up with the no meat on Fridays thing and so forth.

The Teacher part of me wanted to sit and write a comment to her, telling her about all the little nuances of religious observance, it's roots in pagan rites and the Church's attempts not to overthrow but to absorb them, much like the Romans did to the Greeks, then I thought better of it. I could sit and write all damned day about ruud screens and High Mass in Latin and abstainence and fasting and having your feet washed by a priest on Holy Thursday when you were but a wee lad of 8 or so, but I didn't, and won't. The internet is there, use it. Sift thru the thousand and one pieces of hearsay to find the truth, and you might not be better for it, but next time someone wonders why you're off on the last Friday before Easter, you'll know what's up.

You might even know about Mardi Gras.

I don't polish my work.

That was a terrible link, but it's going that way, it's the way my brain works. Hold on tight, secure your lap belt low and tight across your hips, and please keep your hair from getting entangled in the exposed machinery.

I don't polish my work. Like I said up there, (not there, WAY up there,) I rarely if ever go back and look carefully over the paragraphs, find each typo, get all sweating-blood (religious reference!) over each and every word choice. Perhaps I'd be better for it if I did, perhaps not. *shrug* I've never been big on it, never saw a real need for it, and perhaps that's why my writing is accepted only in a small realm, or perhaps I'm just talking out my trunk. Either way, life goes on. I write because I like to write, and I write the way I do because that's how I do it.

So why do I feel like I'm defending myself?

Last night I dreamed I was stung by red wasps, and couldn't make the people around me understand that I was in pain, and that they needed to stop what they were doing because they were making matters worse.

Symbolism there?

This morning I made my wife very angry with me, without intending to do so at all. I care for her a very great deal, but there are times when our communication fails utterly, and feelings get hurt. I really hate that about two people trying to make one idea understood.

I am a born diplomat, have never liked confrontation, and it often burdens me. I supress my anger, pack it away, and it comes out in inopportune moments, like on the highway. There are days when I know with concrete certainty that the road is going to claim my life.

The fog has rolled in and covered everything in white. It's a marvelous time to be back in bed, warm and entangled, but my dreams are still lying there, waiting for me. I can feel their grasping hands and sharp teeth, so I go to work instead.

I dreamed that I was fighting with my wife, in front of her mother, in a friend's van. I don't know what it was all about, or what was said, but I remember at one point that I made a foolish ultimatum, and then realised that it was too late, that it was said and out there, and there was nothing I could do to get it back in my mouth. The only part of the dream I can see clearly is my mother-in-law's face when I said what I had. The shock; the complete and whole mouth-hanging-open, wide-eyed shock, how pale she looked, and how utterly empty I felt after I said it.

A writer once asked us if we knew the feeling that you get when you're in a rocking chair, and you rock just far back enough that the chair begins to fall over backwards, but hasn't started yet. That instant of confusion, that cusp moment; he said that he always lived in that moment. I used to think that was a marvelous way to be. I know now, with the wisdom of my 38 years under my belt that to live there would entirely destroy someone, devour them from the inside out like a fever, until they were a husk. That it is a fallacy.

Stream of consciousness. I wonder what it would look like if the filters were down, if the pure, undilute essence of my thoughts could be codified, could be poured out in so many letters of a word, so many sentences to a paragraph. I wonder how many people would turn away in revusion, and how many would be willing to dip their cupped hands into the river and drink deeply.

Mar 24, 2005

Battleship Island

No, it's not a board game, either.

This is one powerful set of photographs. First, an explaination of what Gunkanjima, or "Battleship Island" is, taken from the website's author/photographer. It's long, but it'll help the pictures a great deal.

Thoughts on "Gukanjima - View of an Abandoned Island"

Off the westernmost coast of Japan, is an island called "Gunkanjima" that is hardly known even to the Japanese. Long ago, the island was nothing more than a small reef. Then in 1810, the chance discovery of coal drastically changed the fate of this reef. As reclamation began, people came to live here, and through coal mining the reef started to expand continuously. Befor long, the reef had grown into an artificial island of one kilometer (three quarters of a mile) in perimeter, with a population of 5300. Looming above the ocean, it appeared a concrete labyrinth of many-storied apartment houses and mining structures built closely together. Seen from the ocean, the silhouette of the island closely resembled a battleship - so, the island came to be called Gunkanjima, or Battleship island.

I was twenty-two when I first visited the island I had dreamed about ever since childhood. Much like a fortress built upon the sea, surrounded by high walls,the island possessed an air of a small kingdom, where its denizens boasted "There is nothing we don't have here." They were right. They did have everything within their miniature kingdom - except a cemetery. But, the irony of it was proven by the passag e of time. Already, the island had been doomed to turn into an enormous graveyard.

Eventually, the mines faced an end, and in 1974 the world's once most densely populated island become totally deserted. The island, after all its inhabitants departed leaving behind their belongings, became an empty shell of a city where all its peopl disappeared overnight, as if by some mysterious act of God.

Ten years later, I returned to the island, equipped with food and drinking water. The island was devastated, with the smell of people gone. Inside the buildings, however, evidence of people's lives remained strongly. The strange atmosphere led me to wonder if island had remained in sleep ever since all its inhabitants left.

As days passed on the island, my impression of it began to change greatly. The innumerable articles left behind, all shrouded in dust, rusted,to me at first seemed merely drifting toward death. Yet, from one point in time, they started to look vivid, and beautiful. I thought perhaps the island, while appearing to fall deep asleep, had gradually commenced to awaken, the day it was deserted.

Order and value that only prevailed through human existence had long been disrupted. Items were scattered here and there with no context, no ranking. Everything had equal value. The sight I saw spoke of the relationship of the master and servant that had vanished at the time these items were discarded, which liberated them from human reign. To be abandoned meant freedom from all. The items left behind on the island lost their names, their given tasks, even the meaning of their existence. They laid there, as mere "objects." Books and clocks and empty bottles were no longer books and clocks and empty bottles. Things that had been domesticated by humans no longer existed on the island.

Just as the inhabitants started their new lives by leaving the island, these things too, left behind on the island, shed their identity once forced on by humans, to start their lives as "pure objects."

Translator: OGATA keiko

And, the photopage. Beatiful, haunting stuff here.

Battleship Island


Mar 23, 2005

Icon Nature

If you're reading both my blogs, this is gonna either really hack you off or it's gonna make you laugh because you're one of those people who like the idea of a play-within-a-play sort of thing, like Shakespeare did with Hamlet and "The Murder Of King Gonzago," where the murdering king in Shakespeare's play watched a play. I love that sort of mind-game, and I know it's been done, but I'm doing it again, rather poorly!

This is the post that I just logged at Dada Rook dot blogspot dot com, which is the blog I use (occasionally) for posting surreal things or artsy-fartsy stuff that got me giggling and working on.

(the Dada Rook post)

Okay--this is mostly just an email I sent to the editor of Dada Yow!, since he's the originator of the idea of me heading up a Dada-esque ezine. Read the email, follow the link, tell me what you think of the look. This is as much about you as it is about me, so get your arse involved!

(the email--3-23-05 evening)

Roight! I go like one of those wind-up cars--speeding senselessly, then crash and it's all over, and then go again. Such seems my curse, but I wanted to see what you thought about this--my ideas for what we used to call "Cornucopia" which I have taken to calling "Dada Body," and in lieu of anything more creative I guess it's going to REMAIN "Dada Body." I stuck the name on there as a working title, as I mentioned in this morning's email, and it STUCK. Anyhoo, this is what I tossed off between early this morning (tired) and this evening (fucking exhausted.) The links are active, and the front page is just as it would appear if I had a wealthy investor and could buy a site and hosting, or as soon as you give me the thumbs-up and can send me the link and the password to the site at Tripod you had reserved for it and I can upload it all.

Dada Body temporary live site.

I know it's rather a departure from the usual, or at least it is for me; I haven't done any serious web design at all in quite a few years now, but I rather like it--I'm going to take the ezine in a hard, fast direction, thus the total lack of colour, flashing bits, or anything that might make the blow fall anywhere but full on the nose of the reader. I want the web page to be as minimal a distraction as I can make it, hence the iconic style and the easily recognised public domain medical pictures for the front page.

Oh F

A chilling thought just settled into my sleep-deprived brain.

I'm gonna have to start getting up at 5:30 again if I want to accomplish ANYTHING in the mornings. See, my job is located about 7 minutes from my house. I could practically walk there, if I cared to walk on a four-lane highway, which I don't, thank you very much. But the option is there if I leave an hour early.

Getting sidetracked. That's what a night of nightmares and tossing/turning do for a man.

To allow myself time to get up, perform the Three S's (S**t, Shower, Shave,) get at least a modicum of brekkie, get the wee one up and headed to school, and get me off to work for a decent arrival time, PLUS do a little post here and read the coupla other blogs I read in the am, check email, do all the little things I do in the mornings, I'm gonna have to start getting up at 5:30 again.

Mind you, getting the body in the habit of that ungawdly hour is not so hard, all I have to do is perform the same ritual for a few weeks, and my body will adjust like an 1800's era Dutch friggate turning to a different course in high seas. It's done slowly, carefully, and with a great deal of cursing, creaking, and lashing with ropes. But, it's done. Or will be done, as soon as a few weeks pass.

So here I am, awake, showered and shaved and the other thing, I've checked my meagre serving of email, which as always contained the Word of the Day, Writer's Almanac, a monthly site report from Sitemeter for this slice of pie that is my blog, and then I ran a fast check of my bloglist, to be callously informed that no-one else in the entire WORLD whose blog I read has bothered to get up at 5:30 in the morning to post something so that those of us who are hungry for words will be satiated. Barstards, all of you. As a writer you are REQUIRED to suffer for your work. I sure as hell do.

Speaking of, I'm sure my co-editor on the Dada magazine Cornucopia has suffered enough. Justynn, I swear to you man, I'm working on it! Granted, if I speed up any more I might just break into a standstill, but I'm working on it. In fact, I got up this morning at 5:30 just so I could start work on the front page icons. No, really, see? Working! *tappa-tappa-tap tap tap tappa tap tappa* See? Keyboard! Honest!

Do you think he believed me?

Mar 22, 2005

Iceberg dead ahead!

Don't worry, this house is unsinkable.

I seem to have deeply offended the Weather Elves. All my mockery and fist-waving and angry muttering seem to have gone in the wrong pointy ear. Last night we were under a severe thunderstorm watch from like 10p to midnight. I laughed offhandedly, or perhaps up my sleeve, because I knew I would be sound asleep and unbothered.

Damn was I wrong.

Somehow those little blighters managed to make that storm last long enough that the warning ran from midnight or thereabouts all the way up to 8 this morning. DAMN, that's showing me. I was awakened by the sound of several cats who were trying to tell me that the house was taking on water in it's port cabins, but I didn't bother with them. At 4 this morning the lightning show was better than anything any fireworks company every sold out of the back of an old camper, that's for sure. And the same at 5. And at 5:35, when I finally gave up.

When the sun rose this morning the worst part showed it's ugly face, and no I don't mean the fact that the back yard looks like it should be ringing an 11th century castle. I mean that the path of the storm (headed Westward, sorry about that Leesville) was DARK. It wasn't black, not that storm black you always see, but this horrible (and more dreadful because it WASN'T black) indigo blue. I was seeing it from the arse side, as it has already passed (hence my presence on the computer and the always-frail cable modem) and the arse was as dark blue as anything I have ever seen in the sky, lit from within by this War of The Worlds lightning that would make any special F/X guy swap his Ray Harryhausen trading cards for the secret of making that effect.

Me, I'm afraid to step foot outside for fear of finding it washed away, or worse, covered in pine needles, cones, and those pollen stems again. See, it's all my fault--last weekend I was feeling rather cocky and decided that it was time to go and dig all the pine straw out of the culverts. It took me about six big wheelbarrow loads, and most of my spine to clean them out. I realised that I was digging out a living breathing compost pile; the stuff had been there so long it was ready to vote, but clean them out I did, and then I made the ultimate foolish threat--I threatened to have the parish (there's that French word again) police jury guys come out with a team of twenty skilled shovel-leaners and ten professional doughnut-eaters and two of those guys with the insanely expensive binocular-things-on-tripods and the silly fiberglass rulers and pink plastic tape and the lousy orange vests, and four flag-women who sort of stand there in that dejected manner, and one guy with a backhoe being paid a hundred and seventy dollars an hour by the state to dig out my ditches, and that was the mistake.

F--ing elves.

Mar 21, 2005

Spring is in...

Well, Spring has spr...

Spring got here yesterday. That's all I'll say. It didn't arrive, it certainly didn't 'spring,' it just sort of wandered in, dazed like a friend on the ass-end of a three-day drunk, and sort of collapsed across your best couch prepatory to throwing up.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't quite THAT bad, but it sure wasn't the bright sunshiny Easter-Bunny-hopping-around sort of day I would have expected from Spring's Official Arrival. It was more sort of a slouch, damp and smoking a cigarette, wearing a dreary overcoat fit for lounging underneath old street lights. Wet, but not quite raining, and covered in the aftermath of a freak and let me tell you "FREAK" storm the night before, the day sort of dragged out like a poorly played violin solo.

Granted, keep in mind that I had a pretty good day all told, in spite of the outsides, but that's another story that I don't have time for. Gotta get up earlier.

The storm the night before was nuts, and freaky with a capital "F." We were getting ready for a fairly large storm that was busy erasing most of College Station, TX and surrounding areas, and the weather channels reported that there were two big ole rhomboids (or was it parallelograms?) that were inching their way across the state lines. I guess Toledo Bend is now empty. Anyway, that was due to hit at midnight, and since I'm in a fairly waterproof structure with walls thick enough that I rarely hear storms, I figured it was a pretty safe bet that I and the wife (who was still at work at this point) would sleep straight thru.

It was at this point that All Hell Broke Loose.

It went sort of like this--

  • I started hearing a light rain.
  • I started hearing the house vibrate like the inside of a snare drum
  • I stepped into the garage to see huge pieces of ice falling from the sky
  • I freaked straight out
  • I went back inside to freak out some more
  • I stopped hearing the house vibrate
  • The bottom dropped out.

(Stay tuned to this station for pictures of the hail that I tossed in the freezer that night, where it joined the Millennium Snowball. You see, around here ice is only found naturally occuring floating in a glass of tea.)

I sat there in the house waiting for rainwater to start sluicing in through gaping holes in the roof, and decided that my wait would best be used checking the computer, and Weather Bug. Shockingly enough, Rapides Parish and JUST the parish were bright orange suddenly, on a map full of green parishes.*

*side note--"Parish." In the rest of the world, small land divisions within a state's boundaries are called 'counties.' In predominantly Catholic French Louisiana they're called "parishes." End of lesson.

It literally looked like a kid had sneaked into the Doppler Weather Radar Command & Control, taken an orange Sharpie and sort of coloured in Rapides while everyone's backs were turned, then sneaked out to wreak some other havoc on someone else's county. It poured like, well, as my father used to say, "like a blind cow pissing on a flat rock," and it went on like this for long enough for me to warn the wife that driving home might not be the best idea right that instant, and to find out that my syster's husband was, in fact, trapped in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Tioga listening to that selfsame hail beating holes in their new-to-them conversion van.


Next morning I found that the storm not only had managed to shred most of my trees and shrubs but that it also managed to fling pine cones all the way across my front yard AND the house and deposit a fair number of them in the BACK yard, where there's nothing but lightning-attracting pecan trees. Pine cones. Thousands of them. I paid my daughter just the other day a nickel a piece to pick them up out of the front yard, and thankfully she gave up at 203, now she's got a veritable slot-machine winnings worth of nickels just waiting to be picked up.

So, Spring's Grand Arrival was last seen wearing torn off limbs, thousands of pine cones, billions of those yellow things that pine trees make to pour pollen into the air, bits and pieces of leaves, huge mud puddles, and an overcast to make a sultry actress look positively...springy. It never quite rained yesterday, but it sure misted a lot, and the sun never rose, apparently preferring to stay indoors with it's rays propped up on a heliograph, reading the latest Tom Clancy book. Let's hope this isn't a precursor of the rest of the season.

I hate the Weather Elves. They sure hate me.

Mar 19, 2005

By the turning of the Earth

something Spring-like this way comes.

I grew up and still live counting the seasons not by how cold or hot or wet it is, but by what the farmers in our little community do. The Farmalls and John Deere's have spent the last week or two starting up, tuning, running engines up and down, working hydraulics, and in general making sure that everything is ready. In the still chill mornings I can look out across the swath of green rye grass and see the huge barns, somber in the morning fog, filled with dormant machinery coming alive. If you strain you can just see the tiny figures, coveralls-clad, working and knocking, filling tanks with fresh fuel, greasing fittings and cleaing the winter's dust and cobwebs out of cabs and off seats.

I grew up knowing that when the humid smell of fresh-turned dirt and the sweet smell of diesel fuel is in the air, and when the overall view outside turns from green to brown then Spring is on the way. The weather has been temperate if not a bit damp, and the weekend has hit, so the air is alive with the roar and tumble of cultivators and disc plows and spade blades turning the ground into thousands of neat brown braids.

I know that they're turning all the Winter's growth of rye grass back under so it will help fertilize this year's cotton or soybeans, and in the coming week I will see the same dingy red tractors with their smudge of a driver behind scarred plexiglass cabs, working diligently up and down the new rows hauling a different style of plow behind them--this time one with big yellow seed bucks hunching over each of a dozen spades, followed by flat rollers, dropping cotton seed into the waiting earth and then covering it back up as it passes. Things will quieten down for a while, then the curiously flat tops of the brown earth will be transformed into geometric patterns--row after row of tiny green sprouts. Then starts the cycle of fertilizer and herbicidal sprays, giant yellow fiberglass containers filled with curious murky fluids will be hauled up and down the roads and into and out of fields, and one day I'll look out my front window and everything will be tall and dark green and white, sweltering in the Summer sun, growing almost visibly by the day. The occasional rain will come hard and fast, and leave the fields steaming in the Summer sun, while the ground and the roots therein suck it up faster than it can fall.

Soon after that the sky will be filled with a menagerie of bright yellow AgCat aircraft, scraping their tires on the cotton plants 6' tall tops, leaving behind their wings huge rolling vortices of white herbicide, and that peculiar sweet stink it carries. A week or two later and everything will be brown and white again, only this time it'll be dead plants straining their dry stems under the weight of full cotton bolls, and it'll be Fall fast approaching that I smell in the air, the return of the cool mornings, and the occasional fog padding in over the land.

When the lumbering hunchbacks of the cotton pickers roll across the fields it WILL be Fall, and the air will be fragrant with diesel again, and the hot greasy fragrance of machinery hard at work, and the full scent of fresh cotton is carried in every breath. The roads will be snowy with bits and pieces of cotton blown from trailers en route to the gin, and then the bush-hogs and the cultivators will return, cutting and chewing the old empty spindly stalks with their leftover sprigs of white like the Grim Reaper return'd in a huge room of grey-haired old men. The tillers will pass over their prostrate and broken bodies, churning and returning them to the earth again, and the planters pass once again, this time huge containers full of seed standing proud over broadcaster propellers, sowing their heavy load of rye grass seeds, and as it lands it seems to instantly begin to grow; with a rush and a green roar there sprouts a fine springy moss over the fields, and Winter has come, with it's load of rain and cold and clouds, and it will brood over this curiously brilliant green patch in a land of dead grass and empty trees until such time as I hear the tractors in the morning, clearing their mechanical throats, checking that lifts work, plows are clean and oiled, and the farmer's burden of ushering Spring back in will begin anew.

Mar 18, 2005

I've been bad*

You're gonna spank me, and I'm not gonna like it.

And before you guys get your hopes all worked into a froth, it's because of the way I write. I looked back on the last post, and the past few posts, and I realise that in the interest of speed and expediency and other words meaning "fast" I sometimes skate over parts of the story that you might NEED, since you don't know me personally in some instances, and that's harsh. I'm robbing you of important information here, and since I write in this very stream-of-conciousness way, or maybe this literary-diarreah sort of manner I tend to overlook things like spelling errors, or speed-typing problems, or links that don't quiiiiite work.

That was last night. The free woodworking link wasn't working freely because I had left the all important "http://" bit out. Uhm...okay Blogger Guys, everyone knows it's gonna start that way. I can open IE and type in big blocks of words and it knows I'm looking for a website that involves big breasted Oriental nuns in leather, so why can't you figure out that if I stick a tag in YOUR provided link box that says "www.somethingornother daht com" that I intend it to be "http?"

*gritting teeth*

Wow, did I manage to turn that small thing about my inability to tag HTML properly into someone else's fault? Outstanding!

I don't know if I should further press my luck or if I should just leave it at that. I think that in the interest of speed (there's that word again) I'll leave it, as the wee child is gonna need brekkie and some companionship whilst she waits for the NASCAR busdriver to come slaloming up to the driveway.

And if anyone asks, I'm the one that has Blue Jeans and T-shirt Friday every Friday at work. Yeah, boy!

*Due to circumstances beyond my control, such as Blogger going tits up, this post never made it to the blog until this evening. The time stamp is correct, the host isn't.

Mar 17, 2005


There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

But you see, what they've got here is not lunches but free woodworking plans. ROXOR! *lol*

"I am but a geek," with humblest apologies to Valentine Michael Smith. Thou art god, VMS.

Free woodworking plans. I was sent this by my favourite Enabler, which in her defense they ARE free, as long as you don't venture into the Buy Plans Now sections. The thing that gets me is that she knows my main afflictions--painting and woodworking, and every chance she gets she's finding a sale and buying me tons of canvases or finding sites like the above (which I am now passing along to you) to further enable the complete and utter spending of all my free time on my hobbies while I cannot pick her out yarn or knitting needles to save my life, because I wouldn't be able to tell yarn from string, nor find the right kind of needle in, well, a needlestack.


So anyhoo, speaking of addictions, I spent time in the flowerbeds today. I had a particularly long day at work today--I found that all the bits and pieces I have been learning are starting to congeal into a picture, a picture that I can point to now in the tight sweaty confines of my own mind and say "Okay, Irrelephant, HERE you are." Now that I sorta know where I am, and am starting to get the idea of how integral my job is, the pressure is on now to really do a bang-up job. And right now I have just enough knowledge to profoundly F things up if I'm not careful. Nothing is quite habit yet, it's all sort of still getting there, but it IS getting there, which is a good feeling. Tomorrow marks the end of my first week. Blue Jeans Day, can't beat it.

As I was saying, I was in the flowerbeds today after work unwinding. When I was but a young spoiled brat of 19 or thereabouts, working in the Federal Civil Service system as an all-about sort of janitor/gardner/maintenance man/etc. at the local Air Force base's MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation, I worked at the Recreation Center there) one of my jobs was to garden. Well, you could call it "gardening." You could also call it "being the yard man" there. I cut the grass, trimmed hedges, and in general kept the wildlife from becoming too wild. We had sort of a back patio thing out there that never got used, but which did have sort of an "L" shaped hedge of very sickly little boxwood bushes, each a spindly foot or so tall, struggling valiantly to become a solid hedge and losing. Part of my job on that patio was to weed this hedge. I did it because I had to, didn't much care for it, but what stuck with me was that the Rec Center Manager's son, Rodney (can you believe I still remember his name? Rodney Frisbee. I kid you not) came out one day to watch me weeding in the summer heat, and this skinny, pale, sort of effiminate drink of water told me that he envied me. I offered him a weed, which he declined. He went on to tell me that weeding was his idea of therapy.

I think I laughed at him. I wouldn't have been surprised if I had.

It's likely that he tried to explain his idea to me, but I'm certain that I had tuned him out by that point. Rodney was useless, and old (likely a ripe old 39 or so at that time) and so he had no idea what he was talking about.

What happened, tho, is that the idea stuck with me. The idea that working in dirt could be therapy. I think it might have been around that time that I realised that working in the dirt, planting and nurturing and growing things was slightly more than just something I could do once in a while and leave alone. I could actually get out there and WORK at it, and the results would, in some cases, be dramatic and instant. Work, reward. Pull weeds, attractive presentation. And the best part was that it was work that really felt good.

Fast forward about 21 years to find me squatting in the yard right up against the edge of the flower beds, ripping out years and years of overgrown St. Augustine grass that has wandered in from the yard. I managed about 12 square feet this afternoon, in about an hour. Therapy. It really is. I put in some finger and arm strength, a little sweat, and I'm rewarded with the sight of rich black dirt, some rolly-pollies, a millipede or two, some crazy long-legged bugs with black and red bodies and great big wavy antennas, a lovely little wiggly orange skink, and a beautifully clean flowerbed, ready for a layer of rich yellow cypress mulch and the flowering plants of my choice. Nice.

I cannot believe it's become therapy, but it has. I guess my father's genes are holding true. And I guess Rodney Frisbee was right all that time. An old guy, right. What are the odds of that happening?


Plague Dog

Or at least, plague pachyderm.

Yup, we've got The Plague, whatever variant of the flu is going around right now. What really gripes me is that it's not really SICK, it's just icky. I guess I brought it home, sneezing and running snot, one day of a mild fever that I worked through since I didn't really realise I had anything until I got home and felt how bad I really felt, then it was gone, and I'm now in my second week of lost voice and scratchy throat and sinuses that I want to take a roto-rooter to. I'm tired of sniffling and snorting and trying to swallow in a throat that has Lawrence of Arabia and his camels in it.

And now the wife has it. My poor dear wife, who already comes standard with sinus problems now has a sinus infection sort of flu thing. Red eyes, bleary expression, and two weeks of snot problems to look forward to. And of course the weather isn't helping--cold and wet, with a promise of cold and wet. Next week, cold and wet. Okay winter, it's time to give it up, you've lost. The dafodoils are blooming, my roses are growing blood-red new leaves, and yes you can come back in about 10 months, but for now, fuck off. Please.

Me, I'm gonna have to start getting up earlier in the morning. LEAP testing is almost over, so I can cut back on making the seven-course brekkies for the child pretty shortly here, but I still don't have quiiiite enough time in the mornings to accomplish things. So, I guess it's time to set the alarm clock back half an hour and suck it up. *shiver*

And don't forget, it's Saint Patrick's day, the day that all good Irish people celebrate the birth and life of the guy who invented Guinness Beer, which I am told you can get a better one anywhere but where you are, and even when you're in Ireland and squatting in a foetid little pub on the moors and order a Guinness you still get one that's not quite as good as the ones they have across the bog and under the peat. Or so I'm told. Far as I can tell, Guinness tastes like all other beers do--horse pizzle.

So, in the spirit of the season--Kiss me, I'm Scottish/American Indian/French!

Mar 16, 2005

Got a pocket full of nuts

Yeah, I'm Pocket Pocket, got...etc.

I've been struck by The Pocket Song. Long story, no time, sorry. Suffice to say--crazy wife, raised by my crazy mother-in-law, and cats. 'Nuff said.

Having an office cat is doing me wonders. I'm a born worrier, and ordinarily by this time, starting my third day in, I'd be falling apart, more or less. No matter that I'm getting the hang of the flow of the course, no matter that I've got a dear friend there with me as my boss, no matter that I've got a desk and all, it's just my mind working on me. I'm desperate to be competent at the job, and two days should be enough for anyone to know it forward and backward, right? *lol*

So anyway.

Pocket The Cat. Secret name unknown, formal name, well, I haven't gotten THAT close yet. Propriety in all things, eh wot? When I used to just visit, there was this kitten, a fluff of long grey and orange hair that hung around the office suite. The Boss, being a kind and gentle soul, fed her and would let her inside once in a while. Highly frowned upon in usual circles, the management is very forgiving. Fast forward 6-8 months, and this straggly little wanderer is a chunky little love muffin, all blowsey grey with streaks of peachy orange, like a hairdresser's highlighting nightmare come alive and quadruped, and a sweet purr and a definite need to be inside and on someone's work, lap, or comfy chair.

Being a cat person I find it infinitely reassuring that there's a cat nearby, should I feel the need for some grounding, or simply for some belly-rubbing time. Nothing can quite settle my nerves like having kneading paws-n-claws in my leg. *lol*

So, thus begins the third official day at The New Job. Time to make wee'relephant some brekkie.

I've got a Pocket full of love.

Mar 15, 2005

How Irrelephant Got His Groove Back

And no, it don't involve me sleeping with a strapping young Jamaican man, either. Mon.

The 2005 Bloggies have come and gone, and I didn't win a thing. Not even a mention. I thought for sure that I'd at least be nominated for Best Blog By A Large Land Mammal, but I was eeked out of that category by Rhidiculous Rhino The Two-Horned Wonder Of Afrikka. Sheesh, what a sellout. The second horn is glued on, it's patently obvious.

So my first Official Day At The New Job has come and gone, since I'm not counting the three hours I sat in my boss' office for free on Friday just to sort of get my trunk wet and see what was the big deal here. So yesterday I did the whole video-viewing thing, which I'm starting to feel is some sort of universal way of doing things at jobs now.

"Okay, noob, first thing I want to do is see if you have any VCR skills. I'm going to leave you in a dark empty room with a pile of tapes and a VCR/TV combo, and I want to see how long it takes you to get through the stack."

Can anyone say "The Ring"? Anyone? Yes, you there in the back, in the stripey pants.

So, I sat through the basics, and then a smarmy piece of work called "The Diversity Cafe," which made me want to start yelling things at the screen ala Mike and the bots, but I got through it, and spent the rest of the day learning just how much medical jargon and strange abbreviations there actually are, and what really saddens me is that after querying our resident Director of Ops who is hisself quite the accomplished nurse I find that HE doesn't even know what some of that stuff means, and this guy memorizes drug information like it's baseball stats.

So anyhoo. Now is the winter of my discontent made summer by the son of York. But I'm not hunchbacked, withered-armed nor British, nor am I Al Pachino by a stretch. I AM in the process of settling back into a new job, where the surroundings are commonplace and recognisable, the work is part of my normal routine, and I feel comfortable wearing a polo shirt with chinos.

Did I mention that? When the Office Supply Place made us go to oxford shirts I nearly s**t a golden calf. What sort of physical labor is one to accomplish in an oxford shirt? Well, I had no choice, and learned to sweat freely in a button-down collar and chinos. The new job? Polo shirts. The wife got one of those mother-hen laughs at me this morning because I confessed to her that I felt strange wearing a polo shirt to work, that the lack of a pocket was distressing, and that I felt underdressed for work.

Aaaah, unkind Fate.

Mar 14, 2005

Look at my berries!

Have you ever seen such luscious berries before?

I mean, honestly! I got up this morning bright and surly to make my daughter a better than usual breakfast because it's time for her to start her LEAP testing this week, and I thought it'd be cool to give her what I like for breakfast sometimes, which is a small heap of granola cereal with come plain vanilla yoghurt and some strawberry slices. I know there's a name for a dish like that, but I can't think of it right now, and it's not that important to the story, because what freaked me out is not the granola or the fact that my daughter, sprung from my loins, doesn't like strawberries, no, it's the fact that when I opened the little plastic container that we get strawberries in, it didn't contain regular sized strawberries. No, not at all. When I opened the package the first thing I saw was several freakishly big berries nestled on top of regular sized ones.

Now, I don't know if someone over at the Strawberry Packing Factory got a wild hair and decided to freak some poor consumer out and specially held out four of the biggest freaking berries he could find and then carefully positioned them on top of a package, or if maybe the federal government and the Department of Agriculture and Mutant Fruits is working behind the scenes to produce some sort of giant mutant 50's radioactive crazy food that is gonna turn everyone into rampaging bright red giants, or if I'm just overreacting to a horrible surprise, but let's take a quick comparison here--here's a nice blurry pic of two berries--the one on the right is the size that I'm used to calling "large" and on the left is one of the four Leviathans that was in my package this morning. See?

My parents used to grow strawberries when I was a kid. We had some plants carefully set in a side flowerbed, where it wasn't too hot, wasn't too cold, wasn't overy sunny nor too dark, and they were lovingly watered and tended, and once in a while there'd turn up a sizeable berry, one that managed to survive the birds and the snails and the ravages of weather and insect and rot, and it'd be a lovely thing to behold, and it might be half an inch tall. A big strawberry. And as I got older and accustomed to not living off the land but instead foraging in my local grocery store for sustenance, I got used to seeing oversized foods. Giant cucumbers no longer freaked me out, ears of corn the length of my forearm were commonplace, and oranges that looked like pale basketballs became as expected as cold milk.

Then along came these strawberries, jolting me out of my complacency. My god they're big! I thought for sure this morning that when I opened that container and drew out one of those behemouths that there had been a mistake somewhere and I had instead opened a package of some sort of exotic, externally-seeded apples or something equally Oriental. It's happened before, I've gone in for something as simple as pine-nut pesto and come out with some bizarre green Japanese ultra-screamingly-acid-hot sauce that ended up eating straight through my pasta and right through one of my favourite sauce pans.

It's a dangerous world in the supermarket these days. You can't be too careful with your berries, men.

Mar 13, 2005

!20 Dead Nude Girls 20!

I don't know, I had to get your attention somehow, tho.

I think once again, and probably wrongly, that Winter is over here. At 5:45 this morning it was a balmy 64 degrees out. Next week it'll be 70 before the sun is up, and next month it'll stay right around 95. Goodbye Winter, for another 10 months.

I wish I could say the same for my cold. It's really sunk it's little green claws in. The part I most hate about a cold is that part where you think you're over it, and it's just getting dug in good. I'm into that stage pretty far, and am currently at the point where you wake up about 4 in the morning with your throat so dry it's not even appropriate to use the word "barren" in reference to it, and "parched" doesn't even begin to fill the bill. You know the point, when you wake up with your throat cracking like old mud, you drink some water, blow your nose a few dozen times, then try to get back to sleep, only to wake up in half an hour to repeat the process. I did that until 5:45 this morning and simply gave up.

In the vain hopes of finding some relief, I have brewed up. I'm hoping that a scalding pot of Chai tea poured down my throat (I considered using a kettle-full of boiling water, too) will somehow help loosen the death grip. Go go Gadget Chinese Herbal Medicine Knowledge!

Actually, it seems to be working a bit, as I've blown everything but King Haakon of Norway out of my nose. I hate this, because I'm sure that the rest of my family, the sleeping bits, probably are having nightmares right now that there is a huge rogue bull rhino with terminal nasal congestion loose in the house, but I can't help that.

64 now, and warming appreciably. Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?

I swept the garage out yesterday in what was likely one of the biggest wasted efforts of my adult life. Painstakingly removing every leaf and dead spider, I stood there proudly surveying my freshly cleaned parking place when the wind decided to pick up to a hurricaine force, and proceeded to blow three times as much material back into the garage as I had managed to remove.

There are times, posting here, when I feel like a stand-up comedian. I deliver a few lines, hit you with a punchline, then move on. The problem is that I can't SEE you devils, so I have to keep slogging onwards, with little if any feedback. *rending garments and tearing hair*

I don't dare open the curtains. I filled the birdfeeder yesterday with the same old orange seeds, haven't been able to get to the store for some sunflower seed, and I'm certain I'm going to see the port side of the porch utterly covered in a thin yellow-orange carpet, perhaps with one or two tiny optomistic little birds hopping and pecking down there, while on the feeder there's a veritable army of Little Brown Birds just steady flinging seeds out, looking for that rarity, a sunflower seed.

And yes, I have dragged this out unnecessarily, so I'll leave you with a sniffle and a handful of seeds.

Mar 12, 2005

You know you want it

You just don't know how to ask. Am I right, or am I just misleading myself yet again?

100 Things About Irrelephant

  1. I was born the son of a carpenter and a bookkeeper
  2. I love far too easily
  3. Books are my public passion
  4. I still wonder if fish feel pain when I set the hook
  5. I'm not private enough for my liking
  6. I still love cartoons, and laugh at them out loud
  7. I have very few real friends, but I hold them very close
  8. Often I wish I were more patient with myself
  9. I am my own worst critic
  10. I love airplanes, but dislike flying
  11. I take secret pleasure in a well-kept yard and an orderly house
  12. I wish Daddy could see me now
  13. I think roses are the most wonderous flower
  14. I've always admired people who can distance themselves from emotion
  15. Motorcycles make me feel powerful
  16. Smoking a pipe makes me feel reflective and calm
  17. I'm still terrified of drowning
  18. I am enthralled by old things
  19. I'd rather do most things the old fashioned way
  20. My mother is overbearing, and it infuriates me
  21. I seem to attract the crazies and the damaged
  22. The sound of rain on the roof is music
  23. I live for the wide open spaces
  24. I would give anything to live by the Pacific Ocean
  25. I am a creature of diametric opposites
  26. I am a creature of habit
  27. I am a creature who craves physical pleasure
  28. I see myself as nothing more than an animal on it's hind legs
  29. I have been called the only Liberal Machiavellian. This pleases me
  30. My friends are always the ones that hurt me the deepest
  31. I can't seem to prevent this, either
  32. I don't know that I'd change it if I could
  33. I utterly love playing AD&D, but the time requirements make it near impossible
  34. I like knowing that people I know read this blog
  35. I always worry that I will say something that is too far over the line
  36. I like walking across the line, but not too far
  37. My temper has always frightened me
  38. I have never struck a woman in anger
  39. I came terribly close once, and it scared me more than anything ever has
  40. I have never been in a serious physical fight
  41. I give too easily
  42. I'm a sucker for a pun
  43. Complete facility of the language is one of my goals
  44. I talk too fast and to quietly, as does my daughter
  45. I believe religion is a crutch and a hamper to free will
  46. I don't believe there is a god or any higher power
  47. If there has to be a god, (s)he is in the details
  48. Animals and creating make life worth living
  49. I can still program in BASIC
  50. I hope I can accept my death with grace and dignity
  51. I am terrified that I will die like my father
  52. I long to be Enlightened
  53. Zen koans make me smile in my spirit
  54. Sushi was one of my biggest life-changing discoveries
  55. I don't want to live a life in pain
  56. I once thought I could have an open marriage and make it work
  57. I have sometimes frightened myself with my strength of will
  58. I have also been let down by my lack of same
  59. Things outside of me affect me too easily
  60. I don't know how to distance myself from events
  61. Women have always fascinated me
  62. Little is as profound as a huge old tree
  63. I wish I knew better all that I know now
  64. I'm a terrible liar
  65. The little things in life make me really smile
  66. I don't laugh enough any more
  67. I often take sex far too seriously
  68. I am far too attached to physical things
  69. I let women have far too much control over me
  70. Ravens are the most interesting birds there are
  71. Elephants seem to carry such wisdom behind their eyes
  72. It pains me that something as beautiful as a jellyfish doesn't know it's that beautiful
  73. The same goes for butterflies
  74. And owls
  75. I wonder if self-awareness is a curse
  76. I hate that I cannot help more
  77. I often think that my talents are not quite good enough to really matter
  78. I crave acceptance
  79. That bothers me
  80. I love the smell of vanilla, and tobacco
  81. The smell of fresh cut grass is bright green
  82. Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata makes me want to cry every time I hear it
  83. So does Amazing Grace; it seems to taunt me with something that I have rejected utterly
  84. I cry often
  85. I'm okay with that. Better out than in
  86. I think sometimes people I hold as important think less of me for that
  87. I think too much of other people's opinions of me
  88. I wish I had my father's gift for growing anything
  89. I wish I could know that he is proud of me
  90. I wish I had known my grandfather better, and my father
  91. I know that death does not care, but I do
  92. Nostalgia reigns supreme in my life
  93. I know I need to live in the present, but I fear for what the future holds
  94. I want more for my daughter, but she's growing up just like me
  95. I'm proud that writing comes easily to me
  96. I'm ashamed that my handwriting is completely illegible
  97. I love wearing hats: ivy caps, fedoras, top hats, that sort. No meshbacks
  98. I rarely play video games, as they bore me pretty fast
  99. I admire and fear the power of my own mind
  100. This was a lot harder than I thought

Mar 10, 2005

Behind closed doors

Well, it's done.

I'm home, have done a little editing for clarity and posted all the drafts I made during the day, and have walked out the doors of Office Depot #349 as an employee for the last time. Now all that remains is for me to let my vacation time run, and collect the last paychecks.

I mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating--I have never left a job behind where so many people hated to see me go. It's quite a heady experience.

When I left Toys, there was only one person who was upset, and that was my syster, who I have stayed in contact with since I met her, so it's not like a shock or anything that she was upset. The rest, well, they were work acquaintences, nothing more.

When I left Loewer Powersports both times it was because I had been fired, so there wasn't exactly time for drawn-out goodbyes, and they weren't necessary, I was glad to be going both times.

When I gave notice at Sutherland Lumber it was notice that I was walking out, and there was only one person there whom I really gave a s**t about, and he was off that day, so it was no pain, no loss. I don't think I've EVER left a job where it was really a big deal, until this time. This time I left with presents, a cake, candy, two cards, and tears. Yup, tears. I had people weeping small tears that I was leaving. I mean, no-one was rending hair and clothing, but there was tears. I have never been so torn. *lol*

I hate that I meant that much to people that they'd get upset over my going, but it didn't change a thing, since I have spent four and a half years there not being able to change anything. Why start now, eh? But, it's really humbling to realise that I had that sort of effect on folks. Made me feel really good inside, it did. And I'm still glad I'm leaving.

I'm not going to miss the aching knees, the sore feet, the hurting back, and hearing my name called over the intercom every five minutes while I'm at lunch. I'm not gonna miss the complete idiot customers, the mouth-breathers, and the fucknuts who ask me the difference between "wireless" connections and "cordless" connection. Uhm....WTF? I'm not gonna miss the problems, and not gonna miss the managers coming to me to fix other people's fuckups.

I am going to miss working with a fair number of the folks there, gonna miss the opportunities for phat overtime, and even gonna miss being the store handyman, but not that much. Did I mention that I'm not gonna miss the sore feet and aching knees? I must walk several miles a day -- correction, must HAVE walked several miles a day in there.

Kay. More meanderings later.

So long, and thanks for

the giant bleeding ulcer.

It's strange to reflect on the idea that in less than an hour I'll be clocking out for the last time, leaving this place for good. My mood is positively euphoric.

Once more into the breach

It's getting closer, and getting harder to bear.

The time slowly moves along, my lunch is good and heavy in my stomach, the cake they got me is sweet on my tongue (they got me a cake!) and I've had to say goodbye to two friends already. Verticles (in jokes, rhymes with Hercules, he's the guy who put the 'man' in 'Receiving Manager') went home at 4, and I cannot help but feel that I've taken his only real support system from him by leaving. He and I have spent many hours together, commiserating, griping, playing sounding board for each other, and in general doing what friends do for each other. He's in a bad way up there, and is ready to break. The problem being, he's the sole supporter of the family, and cannot leave unless he gets the same pay or better, and that's very hard in this town.

But, like he said when he walked up and shook my hand--I'm not leaving him, I'm leaving Office Depot, and he's a strong and resourceful guy. I hope only the best for him. And soon.

Good memories of OD:

  • Me and Verticles putting up furniture with the forklift
  • Unloading the truck in the mornings, with NPR playing on the radio
  • Being dragged behind the forklift when Verticles didn't know I was still wearing the safety belt
  • Sitting in the office and having my opinion heard about store operations
  • Walking out in the parking lot on a sunny day to get the carts
  • Helping old people, because they're almost always appreciative, and don't mind telling you 'thank you'
  • Being able to know so much about my job that even the managers come to me
  • Being able to walk and talk with syster when she comes in

Bad memories of OD:

  • Being dragged behind the forklift when Verticles didn't know I was still wearing the safety belt
  • Being slammed head-first into a light-fixture the time V. was driving the forklift and didn't hear me yell "STOP!"
  • Joe, who is a complete rat's turd and deserves nothing shy of pure s**t for a life
  • No longer getting the really sweet deals on damaged stuff

Closing doors

It's been a strange sort of day.

I've spent most of it finding out just how much I've meant to a lot of people here. I knew I'd impacted some folks here, had made acquaintences and such, and even two good friends whom I will be taking with me, if not in person then in spirit, but I never knew that many people cared that much about me.

I have had visitors in several times today, have gotten a lovely and very sweet card from one of the cashiers, and had lunch yesterday with one of my good friends there, and will be having lunch in just a little bit with the other, newer friend. And I have been constantly shocked at how much people tell me they're gonna miss me. Employees and even a few customers who I have had the chance to tell goodbye. They always look shocked that I'm leaving, I'm sure because they can't see what goes on behind the walls and doors of this place, but then I tell them that I'm moving on and out of retail, and it all comes clear to them. That they seem to understand.

I've spent the day telling myself things like "Well, this is the last time you'll do ticket maintenance" or "This is the last time you're gonna have to change the date on the calendar" and so forth, and it's not bringing me down at all, it's instead just making the end that much more bittersweet. Don't get me wrong, I'm very glad to be going, but the connections that I've made in the past years, that's the hard part.

I've also had the most wonderful feeling of getting away with something, sitting here in the back office working on my blog while the front end crashes and burns. *lmao* Sweet!

So long, farewell

and I don't know how to spell goodbye in German, but you know how the song goes.

I'm spending my morning here closing doors.

8 hours left in my day, when 6pm CST comes it'll all be over and I'll have my final shout. Over 4 1/2 years I've spent here, investing a hell of a lot of my time and stomach lining. It's always strange, for me, to leave a place that while familiar has also become repulsive. It'd be easier if I could just make a clean cut, but I have never been able to do that, not truly. So, I've got a few goodbyes to make, too, before it's all over. And people whose faces I once saw most every day will soon become complete strangers whom I wil pass in public places, that spark of recognition will pass between us, we might even exchange a few words, but their names and deeds will be long lost in the dust of the road behind me.

More blogging from My Last Day later.

* this was saved this morning from work, since the firewalls and such on the network wouldn't let me post them out, so I had to print them out there. Will be typing them in with rough estimates of the time I was doing them. Enjoy.

Body says strange things now

Having been the sometimes proud owner of a 1967 model Human Biped for quite a few years now, I have always been careful to listen to the various warning signs and signals that this model is known to give off.

For instance, I know that when fluid builds up on the knee, it means that I have strained the limit of it's ability, and the fluid is there because I've damaged something. It's common knowledge to me that if my lips feel chapped when it's warm that I'm dehydrated and need water. I know intimately all the little warning signs and twinges that mean the nerve in my lower back is about to get pinched, so I can attempt wildly to correct before I am thrown to the ground groaning in pain. I even know that red and yella kill a fella, while red and black, venom lack. And that red skies at night is a sailor's delight.

What makes me wonder this morning, tho, is not covered in any old wife's tale that I know of, and I don't know too many old wives to be asking, for that matter. When you've got a cold, and your sinuses are pouring like Niagra, it's well known that a green tint to the mucus means that you're contagious, so it's time to go to work and to as many public places as possible and play "Plague Dog," sneezing, breathing and otherwise spreading as much contagion as you can.

What does it mean, tho, when it's brown?

I asked myself that this morning, upon blowing my nose and seeing something I didn't expect at all. And instead of checking the vast resources of the medical field as available on the internet, I'm going to rely on hearsay and rumour, as always. I have narrowed the field down to several probable causes:

What's Wrong With Irrelephant's Snot

  • The generic brand Nyquil I took last night was expired, and I am now suffering from a bizarre medical accident which will turn me into a flesh-craving zombie. I put that one first because that'd be the COOLEST answer.

  • One of the cats crapped in my mouth last night. I know they do it every time I go to bed drunk, so why not when I'm sick, too?

  • It's time to have my oil filter checked, and my coolant and other fluids changed. This I doubt pretty seriously, because my "Service Engine Soon" light isn't on.

  • I've inhaled so much sawdust from my woodworking hobby that I've attained a thriving mulch bed in my sinuses, and the head cold has dislodged the mushroom crop that was thriving up there. Mmmmm...shitake.

  • I'm actually living in an anime movie, and very soon now the evil aliens living in my body will start to erupt, making brown goo pour from all my orifices, including my eyes, and they accidentally left the lid off one container of Brown Goo #7 while preparing to make their big entrance.

  • The chemtrails are real, and I'm suffering from some sort of strange medical malady caused by the government spraying me with heinous pharmaceuticals from high-flying aircraft, and the moment I check myself into the hospital with respiratory problems I will instead be whisked covertly (in a black UN helicopter) to some secret government laboratory deep within the bowels of a missle silo underneath a mountain in Nebraska where I will be irradiated, poked, prodded, probed and otherwise studied minutely by teams of government surgeons and scientists who are working to perfect a genetically perfect Super Soldier, and instead got me.

At least that's MY take on it.

Mar 9, 2005

Work in progress

It's tough for me, blogging when I have no idea what I plan to blog ABOUT.

I sat down with the intention of blogging a bit, since I've been a shade lax here of late, and I realised I didn't have a title, didn't have an idea, had no real conception of what I was about. And still don't really.

I thought about shaking my fist at the sky, but that gets old for a lot of people, and a lot of my fist-shaking is based on personal stuff, so you guys can be perfectly honest with me and tell me that it sucks.

I thought about talking art, but that's for the other blog.

I even thought about blithering wildly about leaving my old job tomorrow (a final 8 hours in harness to office supplies and then freedom) and about the joys and nerves of starting a new job, but we've all been through that, so there's not a lot of unplumbed depths there.

So, let's talk about Papa. Hemingway, that is. I've read exactly one book of his, "Green Hills of Africa," I think it was, and saw the Thomasville Gallery commercial with the East African furniture collection, so let's go with that, shall we?

See, I was going to give you guys a link direct to the gazelle-horned tiger-striped-cloth seat chair, but I can't seem to do that since Thomasville has this mega-ultra Java-powered crazy site that has one address and exactly one address, and you have to go hunting for anything else you want to find, but if you click on Furniture, then Living Room Furniture, and then Gallery, you can get pretty close to it. I think.

My question is this--who in their right mind would want a chair with faux antelope horns? It can't be comfortable, there isn't a smooth surface on it to rest your elbows, and what happens in a year or so when you decide that decorating the den in Early Forties African Veldt isn't working for you anymore and you have to sell off the elephant's leg umbrella stand and the stuffed cheetahs and the Hemingway's Horns chair?

Now honestly, I'd be more than happy to have one or two of those ghastly things in my house, but I'm also a big fan of glass and steel bookcases and wingback chairs in the same room, and tables with the funny ball-and-claw feet, and Danish modern stuff, so my taste is, shall we say, "questionable." Ask anyone--I still think that dark green walls and burgundy trim is the cat's pyjamas, and a fedora is still the gentleman's ONLY real fashion accessory. Along with pocket watches, that is. And a fountain pen.

But I digress.

Ibex horn chair. Honestly. Even if you get the optional leather seat, in the "Rotting In The Sun For A Week Zebra Carcass Skin Green" which actually is the official HTML name of the current background colour for my blog, oddly enough. So what sort of maniac is going to order a room full of them? The sort of guy who owns a Steyr Manlicher Model SL Bolt Action Rifle in a caliber so big they have to make the rounds from old Ford 289 engine blocks, that's who. The sort of guy who has a huge white handlebar moustache that he spends more time on than he does making love to his wife, Bubinga. The sort of man who owns a pith helmet and knows how to use it.

In short, a man who has been touched by Papa. A guy who probably drinks gin. A guy who once spent a whole airplane flight reading "Green Hills of Africa," wondering just what the hell he was reading, why he was reading it, why he wasn't rereading some Kafka, and why he really couldn't STOP reading it even tho it was just a bunch of big sweaty guys with high powered rifles trying to kill fast brown animals in a near desert while The Wife sweated in a silk tent at base camp. The Hemingway that is, not the Kafka. The Kafka is more often about small burrowing animals or righteous big roaches.

And then there comes a time when I sort of run out of stuff to say, like now.

For want of a nail

the blog was lost.

No nails, right. And no horses. But you get the idea, right? Trying to give the place one of those, whaddayacallits, 'myffic' qualities.

So what really happened is this--Irrelephant is one of those born tinkerers. I like to mess with the guts of things like webpages and such, and my skill level is not what one would consider Journeyman status or anything, so I know just enough to break things and not know how to put them back together. I'm frankly surprised that with all the tinkering I've done in the past months that I haven't broken it SOONER. But break it I did, last night, trying to add something foolish, I'm sure, and couldn't put Humpty back together again, even with the horses trying their level best. The knights kept bringing chives and frying pans, and I just finally gave up and had an omlette. Third folded, with cheese.

So now we're green, until I can figure out how to get in there and break THAT. Strange new ochre look, same asinine content. Gotta love that!

It ain't easy being green.

Mar 7, 2005

Green Death

Nyquil. You know it, you love it. Or you hate it. Or you're a big drinker of Jagermeister and think that it's just the mint flavor of Jager, and is best served with a Coke and some ice.

I caught a cold from I don't know where, but it's got me, and in the past two days has instantly moved into my chest, so now I have that cough that only comes from a lifetime of smoking three packs of Pall Malls a day. And of course every time I cough my back hurts, so the promising new start at work next Monday is going to be hampered by a wracking cough and stuffy nose. Damn, gotta love that. Me, my money is firm on the idea that my job for two more days somehow introduced some sort of bacteriological element into my morning coffee, something that will linger with me until my termination date, and the next day will be my Termination Date. Remote controlled nano-bugs hiding out in my nasal cavities, and when I blow my nose for the nth time my head is going to explode.

But I digress.

Nyquil. I don't take a lot of drugs, I really don't. I dislike them on principle, and the side effects always seem to happen to me. That tiny percent of people that have the horrible side effects like death and dismemberment? That's me. So I don't take much medicine.

Last night I decided that I Had to sleep. My sinus cavity was solid, I felt like I had a thirty pound block of wood for a head, and my throat was getting that feeling that comes with a bad sinus problem. You know the feeling, like you've been gargling with a wire bottle brush and some kerosene. Well, I wanted to sleep. Really wanted it. So, I dug deep in the closet, chained the dog back up, slid aside the hidden door, disarmed the traps, turned off the machine gun, gave the passwords and signs, opened the tiny safe with the gold key, and took out:

The Green Death.

And I took a dose. That's some horrible stuff, you know? The taste stays with you long after you've swallowed it all down, sort of lingers back there around that little dangly bit in your throat and it leaps out when you least expect it and puts your tongue in a strangle-hold. I brushed my teeth for fifteen minutes straight and it STILL kept creeping back up my throat like a green ninja in a really horrible Kung Fu movie.


I mean that's some serious bad stuff. Worse than brushing your teeth and then drinking a big glass of OJ. Worse than searing your mouth real good on a new pipe and then taking a big swig of Coke. Worse than gargling with kerosene and a wire bottle brush. And it TASTES green. That's what gets me. I will forever match the colour green with that taste, that sickly minty eucalyptus green. I guarantee that deep in the depths of the Nyquil factory there are thousands and thousands of koala bears gorging themselves on eucalyptus leaves, urinating pure Nyquil.

I spent the next few minutes sort of making sure the house was secure and quiet, like I always do at night, and headed toward bed. I think I was awake for about three point five seconds after that, because the next thing I remember was the alarm going off at 6 am and me realising that I had fallen asleep fully clothed and half standing on the floor. But, it worked. I don't even remember dreaming. Hell, I don't remember BREATHING.

I can't wait for tonite. this thing on? *tap tap*

I had this intro that was going to be absolutely knackers, and then quite forgot it.

See, I tend to compose these things in my head before writing, or at least I get a basic idea of how I want to start things off, and where in general I intend to go, and where I end is always when I run out of words or real life interrupts, and this morning was no exception, but I got to reading about George A. Romero's NEXT zombie movie, "Land Of The Dead," and I got all sidetracked and disgustipated and etc, so now I've lost where exactly I was in the time-space thingie, and misplaced the folder that had my intro in it. Or maybe I left it in my other trunk. No matter. Adapt, improvise, overcome.

My cousin just opened her blog across the way, at Tinpot Napoleon and I have to point out something that I found rather interesting, and a comment on society as a whole. Most people, understandably, start a blog without a whole lot to say, or they've just spent an hour or so tweaking design and HTMLing to their little heart's despair, and when they finally get domains and passwords and colours all set up, they find they're so tired they don't want to mess with the fury and energy that blogging sometimes requires. So what is to be done? Nothing? NO. You've got to make sure the site works, so you post what is the literary equivalent of clearing your throat into the microphone:

"This is my first post."

or "Hello, I've just started, check back later."

or my personal favourite

"test test test"

Don't get me wrong, the only reason my first post isn't that way was that I had about seventeen posts already lined up to blast onto the cyberways, but that's because I'm a keyboard expulsive kinda guy. I'm not faulting people for it, it's the automatic reaction. What gets me is that when my cousin went online with her first post, it wasn't what you would have expected. No electronic throat-clearing, no cyber version of fumbling in your jacket for your notecards, no bashful shuffling of feet and sniffling of nose before launching into it. No, it's a block of faux-Latin text, a veritable fillibuster of an opening statement. I think it's been cut-and-pasted, I recognise the first words "lorem ipsum dolor" as being the beginning of a 'space filler' sort of paragraph, when people want to represent text but don't want to go to the trouble of having REAL words there, so they use this block of pidgin, but still, to go through the process of finding this stuff and using it for a first post, rather than the ubiquitous "Hello, check back" line is such a refreshing change. Which she did, which makes me applaud her.

See, she's a bit like me, in that given two paths, the main road and then the road less traveled, she is going to see if she can fly over there instead. I'm certain she's always had to deal with that 'black-sheep' feeling, because she's bright, very well-read, and not particularly mainstream, and I know this family far too well to think that she's ever fit in like a puzzle piece. *lol* Kindred spirit sort of a thing.

So anyway, it's nice to see her stretching her blog legs. Welcome, dear!

Mar 6, 2005

Easy like Sunday morning

Whatever arsehole wrote that must have had a maid, or no job.

I mean, seriously. I have never had a Sunday that was easy. My Sundays usually involve hours of yard work, or simply BEING at work, which ends today, today being the last Sunday I will ever work, but I digress--Sunday is always my working day. One of the small benefits of living in a Bible Belt town in the Deep South is that on Sundays everything closes, and that which doesn't close isn't open until noon, and will only stay open until about 5, so there's no real distractions to keep me from doing housework.

*insert easily distracted joke here*

So as my final Sunday working for Office Supply Gigantor Serve You Sucky-Sucky, I have to go in this morning at 8 am, four hours before the store opens for bid-ness, and paint. The side wall today, as last time was the front wall wherein we ran out of time to finish, since we had my help, a coworker who is a complete noob dolt who could talk a game like nobody's business but when it came right down to it could barely manage to put the correct end of the roller in the tray and left more paint on the floor and himself than on the wall. Apparently old boy never heard of drop cloths or big sheets of cardboard which can be found in abundance (where's that, in Texas?) in any retail store.

The secret here, guy, is to put the fuzzy part in the wet part, then put the fuzzy wet part on the big tall flat bit.

*banging head on the big tall unpainted flat bit*

What gives me the real despairs is that I'm gonna spend most of my morning (likey 6 or 7 hours of it) putting in a very physical go at painting, then come home to shower and start laundry, which has to be done NOW, so we will all have clean clothing tomorrow and the next day and etc.

And I just remembered I have to go clean the catbox out, so if you'll excuse me, I need to find my biohazard contamination suit.

Mar 4, 2005

Soccer hooligans and high sides

My wife genuinely disturbs me sometimes.

See, she can come out of NOWHERE with lines that just completely toss me for a loop. This evening, after watching a tres' cool commercial from Nike (the 'Warriors' clip, with all the bad-ass masks) she told me that, if one wished, one could get a Manchester United credit card. I calmly pointed out to her that neither of us had even watched a soccer game (sorry, 'football' for you from the Old Country) and I asked if she was going to knock over some dustbins in Kensington. She began ardently demanding her right to be a soccer hooligan, threatened to "kick my bleedin' 'ead in," and that's when I decided that discression was the better part of not having my bleedin' 'ead kicked in and left.

Not fast enough, however, for me to miss hearing her tell me that Cracker was a big rugby fan, and was a staunch supporter of the New Zealand All Blacks. I actually had to look it up to see that they were for real.

My head hurts.

O--btw, I can't seem to find a link for a hacked version of the commercial, but I gather from trustworthy sites that it's called "Mask" and it was directed and shot by Tarsem Singh, of "The Cell" and REM video fame. Craziness. If you happen to catch it, enjoy--VERY surreal.

What I was getting at was multi-fold:

  • This morning's near wreck
  • The New Job
  • Some recollections, and
  • Finding and lighting a damned cigar

So. You guys sit back and enjoy.

Okay. Cigar going. Habanos Puros Torpedo, EMS (English Market Selection, or Natural) wrapper. Not my preferred, I much rather maduros, but hey, we take what we can get.

The New Job. Yup, I got it. All that worrying for nothing. But then again, it IS my worrying that makes the world go around. If I didn't worry about it, the sun wouldn't rise in the morning. I start a week from Monday, so be watching for something around then about me worrying about my new job that my daughter (the older one) got for me. And I'll be worrying about the sun not rising tomorrow, so no one worry that it won't.

Which it didn't this morning, which makes that a nice link to the first item on the list, my near wreck.

Not that I had stopped worrying, it's just that the blinking fog was SOOOO thick this morning at 5:30 am and I was stupid enough to take the bike. I didn't KNOW it was foggy, didn't have enough eye focus to see the weatherbug warning, so I ventured out. See, I've ridden in fog before. No big deal, just go slower and use low beams, and hunker down behind the windshield to keep from getting wet. I was running late this morning, so when I stepped outside in full gear and saw that damned flying water, I thought for a split second that I needed to get back inside and get rid of helmet and swag and take the truck, but I knew that if I did I would be another ten minutes late, so I decided to rough it.

Keep in mind that we live very near a bayou (for you Northers out there, a bayou is like a drainage canal, only natural, muddier, and has more large predators) and that makes the fogs that much thicker. The key here is not to follow Bayou Rapides Road (so named because it follows Bayou Rapides) but to take the first exit up to Hwy 28 W and fly straight as an arrow into town. Which I did.

Turning onto the little windy connecting road to 28W, I had already wiped the mist off my visor two or three times, and it being so freaking cold I was also dealing with a lot of inside condensation, which usually can be remedied by opening the visor to the cool air, thus dissipating the moisture. This doesn't work when the outside humidity is greater than that inside my own body, so I'm half blind and wondering if it's too late to drive back home and get the truck warmed up.

Did I mention that this road is very winding? Very. In the daylight I have taken it as fast as 85 mph, and it's a marvelous trip. In the fog this morning I took it at about 30, and still almost managed to pull a wilson. Numbed by cold and snowblind in the fog, with my inside visor completely fogged up and my internal navagation system messed up (I had NO idea which curve I was in on the road, could see NO landmarks) I suddenly felt the wheels leave the road. I was on the shoulder, my arse started chewing a hole through the seat (at this point the Pucker Factor was a high 4) and I started scrabbling for my visor catch so I could see just where the F I was.

Fumbling for the visor put the PF up to 5, and the constant jolting and scrabbling, plus sure and certain knowledge that there was, to my right, a ditch and then a barbed wire fence pushed it up to 6, and made it imperative that I open that godd**mn visor. Which I did, about seventeen miles later. Now keep in mind that I am trying to stay steady on the throttle, because if I'm going ditchward I want to do so steadily, without a lot of throttle jumping and stuff, which would equal a for-sure fall, and with enough inertia to either get me back up the embankment or at least staying vertical in the ditch until I could slew her to a stop. Visor suddenly opened, I realised that fortunately I was still on a straightaway, so I had ample time to plan.

Okay. On the shoulder, probably destroying very expensive plastic fairings, sure and certain knowledge that I'm about to run over a sign post or a huge rusty nail or some errant livestock, I realise that it's time to get the bike back on the road.

Now keep in mind that this is Louisiana. The roads are not our highest priority. Drinking and cow tipping and marrying our first cousins is, so the shoulder was rough and, quite frankly, had about a foot's difference between ground height and roadbed. I knew with sure and certain knowledge that if I were to try and ease the front tire back onto the road, ala the safe procedure for a four-wheeled vehicle, the front wheel would catch suddenly, stay lined up with the shoulder, and I would end up sliding down the shoulder sans bike. Prior experience told me this, and likewise prior XP told me that I needed to get the tire fairly perpendicular to the ledge so I could hit it as square as possible, to give the tire maximum bite.

So, PF reaching a nice 7.5, I stood up a bit on the pegs to minimize weight on the back tire and to minimize shock to my spine, reared back a little bit, and shoved the clip-ons right. (Countersteering--it's a bike thing.) My dear obliged me by performing a beautiful jete' back onto the road and started heading for the opposite ditch as fast as she could. I can at this point tell you that the PF was racing toward 10, and I felt an impending highside* coming on as the tires grabbed the road again.

I guess my hindbrain took over at this point, because my forebrain was racing toward my ass, screaming and yelling for it to let go of the upholstery and help, and did it know how much a new Second Look Seatskin cost? Some reptilian part of me that used to ride motorcycles back in the Hondazoic Era made me twitch the clipons to the left and I sat down hard on the seat and scootched way the hell off the left side and sort of down, the back wheel barked on the damp road, and she straightened up and got all neat and prim again.

I'm still pulling vinyl out of my arse. I know I pulled that save out of there.

And before you start in, syster or any of the rest of you, about the perils of motorcycling--don't. *s* I know full well the risks, this was one of them. I could just as easily ran Rita into that ditch, because her defrosters work about as well as my visor does, and I would have been going a fair bit faster, too, with that false security that four wheels gives. Me, I'm proud as a new father that I have enough learning built-in now that I saved it rather than pulling a squid and ending up walking to work.

I'm not even going to tell you about the insane old man that tried to force me off the road on Macarthur Dr. because he was mad at me for passing him. People like him need to be removed from the general population and fired out of a cannon up George W's arse.

* A highside--an unplanned get off when the rider is tossed over the motorcycle; as opposed to a low-side, when the rider falls under the bike, or down so that the bike falls on top of you.