Jul 31, 2005

Snaaaaake, it's a snake!

I was reading something the other day about memes and their power to affect mental processes (and no, I'm not becoming a Scientolgist, I'm not rich enough) and what was the first thing to pop into my head?


And sheep and dirt, and ninjas and lasers and fighting.

I surfed around a little bit to remind myself that, while animations like Kenya and Badgers and one or two of the Weebl and Bobs are very very funny, it's still something as simple as a very catchy tune, a meme, that has taken the world by storm and left a fairly indelible mark on it.

In case you haven't been indoctrinated:

Badgers is what got me started. And yes, before you watch it a dozen times to see when it changes, it is a loop, so don't watch any longer than you have to.

And of course I shan't forget Weebl and Bob. I haven't watched these in quite a while, and there seems to be about a thousand more of each, but today won't be the day, as I'm up to me bum in yardwork and vehicles needing washed.

The thing that prompted me to write? The Badgers T-shirt is TWENTY SIX DOLLARS? My sweet stars and garters, are they actually getting twenty-six bones for a T-shirt with a badger, a mushroom, and a snake on it? Damn, I must be advertising wrong.

Jul 30, 2005

Sometimes my humour evades even me.

Thursday of last week, we were, as you recall, surrounded in the new office by tech geeks and telephone installer dweebs.

As I recall, I had washed my only pair of sneaks the night before, and that morning the trick of sticking them in front of the refrigerator vent hadn't completely dried them, so instead I wore to work my very old pair of size 12 (broken down) Hi-Tek Magnums, the boots I usually wear when riding the bike.

Rode hard and put up wet doesn't even describe that wonderful pair of warhorses. I bought them brand new in I think 1993, while I was still at Toys Backward R Us, and have worn them pretty heavily since then, so for 11 year old boots they're doing pretty well, even with seams bursting and the right toe so worn I can't even polish it black anymore. There's a lot of stories in those old boots, but that's for another post.

So there I was, at work wearing my boots, working like a dog, and of course sweating, well 'heavily' doesn't do the thing justice. I was sweating like a waterfront whore on a payday during Navy shoreleave. So there I was, sweating a lot, because most of the work involved carrying rather heavy items out of buildings and into the heat, or out of the heat into buildings, and toward the end of the day I just had to take off my boots. Sturdy they are. Comfortable they are. Breathe they do not do so well, and whick moisture they do not at all. Love them though I do, I tossed them behind my desk, and went on in my argyles.

I found myself soon thereafter in the bullpen talking to the Clinical Manager, her assistant, the DOO and my daughter the BOM, and while we chatted about where things were to be stored, the gent with the phone company, who had been kneeling for a while working on some cabling, stood up and said something to the effect of "Man, my feet are asleep! I feel like I don't have any feet."

That's all it took.

In a flash of inspiration to beat all before it, and a strained connection to a memory I thought I didn't even have anymore, a joke in it's purest form came to me. It was going to be perfectly-timed, delivered with deadly accuracy, and even have a solid literary background. It was a joke to end all jokes. It was the King Joke, and I delivered it like royalty.

I made a theatrical glance at my argyle-socked feet, made certain I had everyone's attention with that glance, then looked up at the group in general and in my most somber voice intoned: "I wept because I had no shoes," (here I glanced over at the phone tech,) "...until I met a man with no feet."

Utter silence greeted me.

Not a groan, not a moan, and worst, not a giggle. 'Tough room' I thought to myself.

It finally elicited a groan from the CM, who is an amateur thespian (that's a theater actor, you dirty-minded gits) and then the telephone tech, not to be left out, asked me how long I had been waiting to use that joke.

How long? My sweet stars and garters man, a joke like that is not held in reserve, waiting for the single moment that I might be sock-footed and someone just so happened to have pins-and-needles in their feet, THEN MENTION IT IN CONTEXT. That opportunity would be a million to one shot. That joke came sleeting down to me from jokion-rich outer space, landed in the willing and eager spongy recepticle of my mind, and sprang from my mouth with ease and grace unlike any joke I had ever produced before.

And the ripe seed fell upon barren ground.

I was warned this would happen, but I obviously wasn't ready for it to happen to me. Tragedy. Pure and utter tragedy. Weep a while with me, won't you?

Jul 29, 2005

Days of whine and roses

We made it. The company did, that is, the collective We. We're in the new office, as of yesterday.

If you've ever seen a chick get out of it's egg, or watched a cicada wrestle it's way out of a shell then you know how we all felt yesterday. It was the final cataclysmic wrenching, the last of the three week long struggle to free ourselves from an office that was built out of a duplex apartment and into a new, clean, appropriate office environment. We're not done yet, we've still got to settle all this new stuff into the office, but the worst is over after a marathon day of unhooking computers and scanners and charts and one singularly immense network printer, loading it all into trucks and SUVs, dragging it ten miles across town and then unloading it all into it's new home.

But it's done.

My apologies, Old Grey Mare, for not calling yesterday evening. I ended up in bed just after 7:30. Too much heat and stress on a body that's no longer 20.

And someone forgot and left the refrigerator door open last night. It's 72 degrees out there. I'm afraid to walk outside for fear of freezing to something metal. After spending all summer working in temps upward of 106 degrees, with heat indices in the low 200s it's frightening to step out into 72 degrees of coolth. I feel like I'm on the Pacific Northwest coast again, standing in front of the sea, feeling the chill wind blow in from Japan. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, it's utterly wonderful, but it's a terrible tease, because I know that after this weekend's rain it'll be back to 100 degrees again.

Found the picture of the day yesterday--four beauties in the yard when I got home, and I wanted to get a good picture of them before they get knocked over by marauding dogs or brushed with a lawnmower deck or a careless foot. I think you guys would have gotten quite a smile out of me; filthy and exhausted from work, covered in dust and rust, about to fall out, and yet on my hands and knees in the yard with the digital, snapping pictures of fungi. Ah, the things I do for my Muse.

So what else is there currently? Not a great deal, I hate to say. Getting the office open has been the primary cause of stress, and after the madhouse of yesterday I feel like I belong somewhere again. It was odd, though, to be in a building full of people, when before I had been used to it being either just me or me and one or two other people, usually all of us intent on unpacking or sorting things, so quiet was the order of the day. To suddenly have the building full and active with the usual staff PLUS three techs running blue pythons of Cat 5 cable in and out of the ceiling and telephones ringing like mad and people scrambling to claim printers and their leveling boards (more on that later) was astounding, and headache-causing to boot. But, I am certain things will settle out soon, offices will all be claimed and finsh being decorated, and mini-blinds will appear shortly, to cut the very bright and very determined sun.

Me, I've still got my week of work that's been steady piling up behind me like water behind a dam, and of course I've still got a file room to put in order, and I have numerous opportunities now to tweak and fine-tune the system to my liking.

The best part of this move? I feel like I'm on even ground now, or more accurately that I have a slight home-turf advantage. I was walking through the office with the daughter and my digital camera when it was just a forest of pink 2x4 joists, and I have been active in the office since before it was ready to BE an office. I have had a tremendous hand in how things look inside, from arrangement of pictures and plaques to how the chairs are parked in front of the desks, and I have spent more time in there than anyone but the DOO and the daughter. I know it's only a psychological ploy, but I rather like the fact that the office is MY turf, that I am familiar with every nook and cranny of it already, having put a fair bit of our items in those nooks and crannies to begin with, and everyone else is coming in fresh. Upper hand? Maybe so, maybe not. Familiarity? Yes, in spades. I'm the smallest cog in the clock mechanism, but I'm the cog who knows where everything is hidden. *lol*

Jul 28, 2005

There's something missing.

I can't quite figure it yet, and have been looking for it for years now, but there seems to be some trigger or impetus that I have overlooked.

Brittain was described in WWII by the Germans as "a nation of shopkeepers." I've always liked that analogy, and have used it on myself at times, but for different reasons. The British showed the world that shopkeepers often have strength beyond reason, solidarity beyond measure, and a large caliber handgun hidden behind the produce scale, and that one should never, ever, f**k with a shopkeeper. And when it's all said and done they go right back to what they were doing, after of course sweeping the floor clean and tidying up, and perhaps having a cuppa.

No, I've always been a shopkeeper because I seem to have fallen in love with the idea of capitalism at a very young age. I can recall exercising three of my childhood directions simultaneously when I was in third or fourth grade--a friend and I had co-written a terrifying tale of horror and suspense on a single page of torn out notebook paper, and I had brought it home that evening and typed it up all nice and neat, double spaced so it looked like you were getting more than, as I recall, two or three paragraphs, and when I got it back to school we smeared it in places with pink Chapstick because neither of us had mothers who wore red lipstick, which would have been the final bloody touch to the whole. And then we tried to sell it for a nickel a go.

Strangly enough, there were no takers.

Fast forward across the years--I was astounded the day I learned what a mark-up was, and doubly astounded at how much we as consumers were happily paying in that mark-up. Then, years later, I found out just how high you had to keep that markup just to break even. And then I started learning about internet commerce, and the line just keeps going on.

(For more internet commerce, look to the right there--the Irrelephant T-shirts and mugs are available now! And yes, I know that was a terribly unsubtle plug, but hey, it's my blog and I'll plug if I want to.)

A million years ago, Ug had a leg of wild pig that Gur wanted. Gur offered Ug a handful of firewood, but Ug held out for two, because he had to pay Mog a handful of firewood for getting him a pig leg off of Mog's three pig carcasses, and thus the middleman was born. Gur had his pig leg, Ug could pay Mog the debt owed, and he still showed a tidy profit, and everybody was happy.

If only it were so simple. *lol*

And don't worry, I'm not about to launch into a giant discussion of trade and commerce. It's just that the thing which has always haunted me is the sticking point in all my commercial ventures--I never have anything anyone wants.

And it's not as bleak as all that, it's just that the things I like, which become the things I'd like to sell for a small markup are never the things the Great Unwashed Masses want. When I'm busy selling pipes and tobacco the GUM are busy wanting bottled water and BMW Z3s. When I'm selling gut-wrenching tales of horror, the GUM wants...well, whatever it is 8 year olds want on the playground, which is probably gum, and a rock to throw at a window.

And then there's the whole idea of mavens, which intrudes into the psychology of selling. A maven is the catalyst for driving people to your product--the maven is a person who has the ear of a lot of people, or whose opinion is held as pretty important. Our maven, Tur, sees Ug selling pig legs and decides that he really wants one too. He buys one, likes it a lot, and tells his ten cavemates about it. The cavemates firmly believe in Tur's opinion, so THEY go out and buy pig legs from Ug, and they tell other cave dwellers about Ug's Fine Pig Legs LLC because Tur got them turned on to the ideology of pig leg buying, and then Ug is suddenly selling pig legs like a house afire, until Tur decides that pig legs are no longer the delicacy he used to think they are, and decides to start buying lark's vomit from Ug's neighbor down the path, Aga, at Aga's House O' Lark's Vomit.

Ah, the intricasies of commerce.

So what does this all boil down to? That my ancient ancestor down the monkey tree was not the pig leg selling Ug, nor Tur the maven. I've got product, but no maven, or perhaps I'm trying to sell fire in Hell.

And I guess the question REALLY becomes "Why do I feel the desperate need to sell?" A lifetime of retail training? A desire to feel needed by the general public? A drive to get a leg up on the competition?

Perhaps we'll open that can of pig legs tomorrow.
This post sponsored by Aga's House O' Lark's Vomit, now hiring management and wait staff for their new location in the green valley, second big rock on the left.

Jul 27, 2005

Nocturnal Emissions


That's the number that came to me in my dream. Mean anything to you, or are you still in the dark as I am? Thought so.

I've held this one for a day, in the hopes that a question to fit the answer might come to me in a blinding ray of light or arrive carried on the backs of four Valkyrie, but the bulb must be blown out, and the ladies must be busy elsewhere because I sure haven't noticed any Swedish nubiles in steel breastplates anywhere near. I know I'd remember something like that.

So this is how it happened. Night before last, I lay me down to sleep at 9:30ish, par for the course. At 12:24 am by my clock, the telephone rang. Not rang and rang, just rang, and not even a whole ring, but perhaps a third of one or so, like someone had dialed my number by accident and realised it, but hung up too late, as the connection was made and all three telephones in the house responded. Either way, it was enough to wake me up.

So I got out of bed, slowly, as my back was giving me the usual complaints, and not being one of those people who wake up instantly I blearily shuffled the fifteen feet or so to the bathroom, and it was then that it hit me.

If you've ever been stuck in the grocery store without a calculator, or been at the gas pump and needed to figure up a total price but had no pen or paper, or been in an Algebra II class without your cheat sheet handy and had to figure it all in your head then you know what it feels like to Get The Answer. You juggle the numbers, you visualise the equation, you work whatever mental gymnastics you usually do to make it all work, and with a gentle "pop" the answer is there. That's how I felt as I entered the bathroom door.


"161. Thank you for using your brain. We realise you have a choice in holographic problem solving equipment, and we hope you choose your brain again soon. You may now return to your regularly scheduled urination."

I can only assume that in my dreams I was trying to figure nurse's mileage, or maybe trying to add up columns of numbers to make sure I still could, or maybe I was trying to figure out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. Me, I may never know. Whatever it was, the answer was 161. Not the words 'one hundred and sixty one' either. It was distinctly the numerals 161. I felt like I had stumbled across an X-Files episode and heard the title, "161," and now it was my job to figure out why Chris Carter decided to name it that. Was 161 Mulder's childhood house number? Is 161 the number of hairs Skinner had left on his scalp when he decided to shave it all off? Are there 161 Morleys to a carton? 161 abductees to be returned to Earth on January 6th, 2001? 161 documented Chuppacabra attacks?

I remember this number, me who forgets what day it is after checking the calendar, because it hit me with the force of a vision, and I knew that if I forgot this one I'd be pretty dang upset. Last time I forgot a vision I ended up in Arizona in the back of a pickup truck naked except for a half-eaten burrito. So, I wrote it on the bathroom mirror with the bar of soap and went back to bed.

And the question still hasn't come to me. I feel like Arthur Dent trying to figure out what "42" means. I haven't asked the right question yet, obviously, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what the right question might BE. Imagine my difficulty.

Go on, try it.

There. I don't feel so bad anymore.

So, my quest for you today--decide what the question is to the answer "161," and tell me down there in the comments thingie.

Go on, don't be afraid.

And while you're at it, buy a T-shirt.

Jul 26, 2005

Irrelephant Swag Is Here!

Nobody asked for it, but sensing your need, I answer the call!

Irrelephant Swag!

I personally like the grey Irrelephant T-shirt, but there's a ton of other styles and colours to choose from, with more to come.

Coming soon--permanent buttons and things on the blog, but I'm too tired right now, having spent a lot of my hours setting up the shop.

Please, enjoy!

Jul 25, 2005

Blickensderfer No. 8

I dislike driving my boss to curse words, but I did it yesterday.

I was thinking, for some off the wall reason, about typewriters. Old ones. When I was young, I realised that my penmanship was awful, utterly miserable, and that the only way I was ever going to make myself understood in thr written word was to learn to type. I was driven on by finding my grandmother's old typewriter, a beaten up, black enamel, solid steel beast that lurked in it's own black vinyl case. To my young and trembling arms it felt like it weighed 100 pounds or more. In truth it likely only pushed 40, but it was still a steel behemoth.

And thus a writer was born. No, not really. But I did learn to type. Incorrectly. Hunt and peck had nothing on me, I was the all out single finger typist. It was after only a small bit of this before my mother the hyper-retentive accountant realised how serious I was, steadily banging away on this jalopy of a machine. She bit the bullet and taught me proper technique--where to place each finger, and how to reach for each key. And THEN a writer was born.

Not a good one, mind you, but a prolific one. I still have a box-bottom folder here somewhere of my D&D-esque fantasy stories, even ones that show the very beginnings of my surreal leanings. And you sha'nt see any of them. The thing being, I was typing. I was typing a LOT.

It took me years of pounding away on that steel-keyed monster, often reaching into it's gaping oil-smelling maw to release keys that had become intermingled when I typed too fast, trying to rewind and respool the old ribbon, for my mother to realise that I was DEAD serious. One miraculous year she bought me the latest in typewriter technology--a tan, plastic bodied ultralightweight Brother that not only was electric and had an erasable ribbon built right in (no more XXXing or using those sheets of white-out talcum) but it even had three, count them THREE daisy wheels, one each for the three main pitches--10, 12, and 15.

And that's where the trouble starts.

Yesterday midmorning I was thinking along those lines, and thought about my daughter (the younger one) growing up never knowing the agony of having to untangle a Gordian Knot of steel letters, all entwined like angry lovers in front of the platen, and never knowing what magic the words Pica, Elite and...

And now you see the problem.

12 characters per inch, or 12 point is called Pica.
15 point is called Elite.
And nobody I know, including me, knows just what the hell you call 10 characters to the inch print.

So naturally I brought the issue to the daughter/the boss, and we turned to the might and majesty of the Internet.

Which gave us one thousand and one hits that told us all about typewriters from the dim reaches of memory up through the modern high-speed, low-drag word processing machines, but nowhere could we find anything other than mention that there used to be just three pitches, and not a billion and one fonts in your choice of a thousand and three styles, shadows, and anti-aliasing.

So I drove the daughter (and myself) to angry cursing after a fruitless half hour of searching, and I turn to you, my devoted readership, to tell me exactly what the hell you call 10 point type. The daughter wanted to say it was called "Courier," which sounds kinda right, but I'm just not certain. I've beaten my tiny grey matter soundly, and come up with nothing else. And fortunate for her she's at the other office, the new sparkly one, with the DOO and our Reginal Admin, to meet a new Regional Admin, and I shall mostly be stuck in the empty milk-crate office doing my little filing, adjusting the A/C down a degree every hour until RMB turns blue, and wishing I knew what that third term was.

Much ado about very little

Today is going to be a smattering as I haven't come up with any huge, unified subject, so let's get a move on, shall we?

Cool, and yet sad! Someone finally invented a UV-reactive tattoo pigment, so that your hours of suffering under the needle are now rewarded by something invisible to the unaided eye. I can't tell if this is moving forward or backward.

Very good movie. Having been traumatised as a child by the Gene Wilder version, and it taking "Young Frankenstein" for me to realise that Wilder COULD be funny without freaking me straight the hell out, I went into the Depp/Burton version Sunday holding my breath. With both my daughters and wife in cahoots, no less, me risking their very sanity with mine. And what a relief--it has such a Burtonesque, friendly spookiness to it, and the addition of Wonka's dad was a positive change to the story instead of a negative to me. My only wish is that Vincent Price were still alive to have played Christopher Lee's role, because I can just SEE that long, frail face and gentle smile wrapped in the good doctor's white exam clothes.

My favourite part? The hilarious hommage to Kubrik's 2001: A Space Odyssey, played out in the Wonkavision scene. Insane! Best runner up? The Nut Sorting Room.

Tip: When you watch, look at the glass elevator buttons closely--"Competent Fools" and "Incompetent Fools"? *lmao* And the secretary at her desk, with a "Taste Accounting" plaque--sweet lord!

You know, I was holding out hope, watching young Jennifer Conneley grow up (and deliciously out) that the era of the Flockhart-skinny actress was hearing it's death knell, and that we the viewing public would again be treated to heroines with attractive, full shapes. I saw proof in Lindsay Lohan; she seemed to be following Conneley's ground-breaking foosteps, until both of them mistakenly wandered into a Purging For Beginners class and both went the Karen Carpenter route. Boo, hiss ladies. Bring back the shapes! "Meat is for the man, bones are for the dogs."

What's up with you suddenly not going away? Granted it's nice, I rather like the rain, but it's rained once a day for the past week now, and my grass is growing audibly. Of course, the flowers are blooming too, and the fig tree is breaking branches under the weight of fruit (not necessarily a good thing, but the blue jays and squirrels are growing pendulously fat) but enough is enough, because when you stop the air temp is still in the high 90's, and when I step outside I expect to see a bench-full of huge, hairy Russian men wrapped in white fuzzy towels slapping each other as hard as they can on each other's backs, and another one pouring ladle-fulls of water on the heated rocks.

Has been taken down by me. The reason being that the above-mentioned summer heat has done a tremendous amount of keeping me from the shop. Last year seemed cooler, somehow, or I simply knuckled up and dealt with the heat. This year I seem too busy and too unwilling to sweat like a dog for it, and so work has proceeded slowly if at all. I'll post some pics here when it gets further, but it might be a bit.

As we've taken to calling it is still not opened officially. We've got phones, new furniture, and most every box emptied already, and still we have no T-1 line. Right now I think we're holding on Sprint to test the lines, and we've been told by Corporate that anyone with at least one thumb and half a brain cell can hook the workstations into the network, but it's pretty useless when you have nothing to hook to, so for a third week now we're holding, in this sort of Microsoft Networking limbo. Me, I'm tired of feeling like we're some sort of criminal outfit, working out of a huge empty building on cardboard boxes and 2' wide desks, and telephones resting on patio chairs. It may work for Columbian drug overlord's front men and telemarketing scams, but it don't cut it in the Home Heath field.

The small, Italian manufacturer of works-of-art motorcycles has closed it's doors again. Ressurected in the late 90's, it's closed again, no reasons noted in the news that I've seen, and apparently the marque is back up for sale.

For it's portrayal of Gabriel (I assume 'the Archangel') as a fey, androgynous figure. The Christian god is reported to have made man "in his own image," but they never said anything about the angels. Of the apparent multitude of angelic host only two are actually named in the bible--Gabriel and Michael, both angels of the highest magnitude. It was quite interesting to see the Biblically important Gabriel portrayed as an attractive but asexual figure, neither one nor the other gender exactly, and when the requisite gigantic dove-grey wings were hoisted over a dark, tailored Armani pinstripe suit it was a very nice piece of cinema.

Okay, that's all you're getting for today. Go on, beat it, keep moving, nothing to see here.

Jul 24, 2005

Yeah, blame me.

I went and made some minor changes to the sidebar, took off a few pics and added a few links, in the interest of streamlining. And since I used my alotted AM Blogging Half Hour in changing the template I now no longer have time to blog. The yard is calling, and as much as I hate to do it I have to finish the Back 40, before it takes over. So, I go to mow, you go do whatever it is you have to do, and check back later.

Me, I'm out.

Jul 23, 2005

Toad of Toad Hall

Life arises everywhere, without fail. I've heard that from many scientists when confronted with the fact that even the most forboding and impossible places host some form of living organism.

Life gets into every nook and cranny it possibly can. It grows up trees, in the ground, in your house, everywhere it possibly can. And when Mankind encroaches on it's living area, it starts living where Man does, too. So this is where I come in, and where Br'er Toad makes his grand entrance.

When I started cleaning up the old shop, I found a pile of leftover bricks from when the house was built. I'm certain they were left there 'just in case;' for instance 'just in case someone breaches the outer defenses,' and so they've been here for 30 odd years, patient as, well, er...bricks, for someone to need them. When I started to fix the shed floor I had to store them elsewhere, and I didn't want to toss them out, so they ended up in the yard on a pallet. Where they sat. For a while. A long while. Summer is hot out here, damnit.

Until today! I finally got smart (and fed up of cutting around and around them,) so I used them for a not particularly original but a nice gardening idea--I made a planting bed out of them. Now all I have to do is weed the grass back and bring in some dirt and shade loving plants that will compliment the Clematis there, and the little wheeled plow tool thing, and I'll be hooked up.

When I took apart the stack and pallet, I of course unearthed a ton of roly-polys, and those big horrid wood roaches that live in the grass, and even a kady-did that was avoiding the lawnmower this morning. And Br'er Toad.

Long story short--way back when we lived in the trailer, there lived with us (outside, natch) a huge, and I do mean huge brown hop toad. He nested under the front porch steps, and I often saw him around dark, doing the Dusk Patrol, and sometimes in the early wee hours on Dawn Patrol. He, of course, became Br'er Toad, and he lived there and fathered many a small brown hop toad. When we left, I felt like we had left a part of the family behind, but it wasn't long before I started seeing some of Br'er Toad's offspring around the new house, hiding in the dark places under the propane tank and in flowerbeds. So therefore, Br'er Toad lived on.

When I pulled the pallet up from it's grassy tomb this morning, I saw...you got it, Br'er Toad. I took careful pains to not hit him with the lawn tractor, and he patiently waited on the bare dirt for me to finish. When I had completed the yard, I hooked up the little trailer behind the lawn tractor and loaded up all those tan bricks, and set them as you see in the picture. I went back to the shed to get the Roundup sprayer rig, loaded it in the trailer, hooked everything up, and went for a spin around the yard. Not more than ten minutes had passed when I came up on the ring of bricks, and who did I see poking his pointy little brown nose out? Br'er Toad. He had followed his pile of bricks to the pecan tree, picked out a likely hole in one, and backed his way in, thereby formally declaring that this was Toad Hall, and he was home.

And yes, I know "Mr. Toad" was the denizen of Toad Hall in A. A. Milne's book, and that "Br'er Toad" is an Uncle Remus character, but this is the South, and "Br'er" is more accurate a description than "Mister" any day of the week. So Br'er Toad it is, of Toad Hall.

Stay tuned for more riveting action from Br'er Toad and Irrelephant.

No, really.

Happy Belated Birthday Raymond Chandler.

Yup, I missed it. If you recall, I mentioned Mr. Chandler a few posts ago, and instead of rehashing an old post, let me direct you to Warchild13, who had an excellent post based on Mr. Chandler's birthday (the 22nd), which would make Mr. Chandler 117. Hurry back.

So this is what it's like to be rested.

It's been a while since I've felt this good, sad to say. I've had a very hard go of it for the past, well, it seems two weeks, could be less, but this morning I woke up bright...well, no, not bright nor bushy-tailed, but I did wake up and after the requisite snapping and creaking and stork-like exit from the bed I feel like I could wrestle a very old blind alligator with it's tail tied behind it's back and best him two falls out of three. Not too shabby for an old guy.

The thing is, tho, I woke up this morning with my head chock-full of ideas that I have been wanting to implement. They seem to have lined up Indian file, one behind the other, all jostling gently for attention, certain in the knowledge that I have the time, the water for anti-dehydration, and the money to execute and complete all of them. Attend me:

  • I would like to buy another motion-detector light.
    There's a nice model at Home Depot for about $40 that is halogen, and as such the heads are very low profile, very discreet, and very bright. It also has that dim/bright power saver feature, so that when there's no activity they serve as gentle landscape lights, but when activated they come up to their whole 300 bazillion candlepower or so, and crisp whatever is in their range. I'd like to replace the crappy one in the garage with a good one, and put the crappy one over my shed door. See, crappy stays turned off unless activated, and is the incandescent style bulb, the big ones, so it's a bit obvious. To put crappy over my door I'd have to get out to the shop and run some 12/3 to somewhere over the doorframe, and get a steel octagonal outlet mounted over the door, and wire it all together without burning the shop down. This I could do, given time. This one has high marks for being done this weekend.

  • I'd like to paint my laundry room and update the shelves.
    It's dreary in there, white walls with 35 years of age. The daughter (the older one, who is building her own house) suggested I go the same route as her plan and paint it a bright, cheerful yellow. I'm all for that, but if I paint I'd also like to replace the old flat shelves with at least one nice 5' cabinet, for clutter minimising, and that costs, too. The cabinet, not the paint, which I think I still have a can of from an old kitchen project.

  • The master bath needs it's old light fixture replaced. For that matter, both do.
    Thirty plus years ago a 2' long fluorescent tube behind a fogged plastic cover with chrome endcaps was fine. Today it's a little icky. The wife picked out a few nice light bars at Lowe's months and months ago, the lovely kind with three or four separate bulbs and pastel frosted glass shades, which would be easy to install, but it costs. Naturally. See, Lowe's gets you like that--you have to buy the lightbar and the shades separately. Ah-ha, got you.

  • A ceiling fan for the office.
    It's hot in LA right now, we've been hovering at the 102+ mark, and with 95% humidity the "Real Feel" temp stays around 126. Doubt me? I kid you not. Ceiling fans are the Summer Survivalist's friend. With a fan on you can keep the A/C a few degrees lower (read: cheaper) and move the air around the house a little more efficiently. I've already got fans in the den and the spare bedroom, as well as the living room, but there are days when I'd really like to move the air in here a little. It just gets stuffy, and the office is off the main flow of the house, so the air tends to be a little dead in here. Again, costs stands in the way.

  • I'd love to have a boat hoist in the last stall of the shop.
    Nothing hardcore, nothing electric, just a way to lift the little pirogue (for you Cajun-disfunctional that word is pronounced "PE-row") up and out of the way, since I don't forsee my fishing career advancing anytime soon. And if I could move the pirogue up I could

  • Fix the slide boards on the trailer.
    They're old, rotten, and need to be replaced, and it's an easy job, I've got the carpet, got the tacks, just need to move the boat and get out there and do it. And if I fix the boards and have the boat out of the way, I can park the trailer outside (it's galvanised and therefore rain, sun, and bullet-proof) I can make room for

  • A sandblasting box.
    The brother has a portable sandblaster, but it's a 100% loss system--you stand there with the nozzle and blast whatever you want to, but the media goes wherever it wants to, and you end up with a shining clean piece of steel and a huge pile of wasted media around your feet. A sandblasting box keeps it all in one place, and with that I could make some serious advances on the swing resoration. This might be the most likely thing to happen today, depending on how cheap Harbor Freight has media and boxes for.

There's more, but tasks have to wait--brekkie is ready, and as we all know it's the most important meal of the day. Ciao.

Jul 22, 2005

Round Robin

I was up and down more last night than a kid's Yo-Yo at a birthday party.

Today I are mostly going to let you guys blog for me. I slept very poorly last night, added to a week of sleeping poorly, I had to sleep late to get ANY rest, so now I am very behind, and blogging gets left for another day. So today, I hand the reins over to you, my scattered and quiet readers. Tell me what you were expecting this morning, tell me what you wished I had written about, tell me what you would have liked me to write about. Tell me about your last poo if that's all you've got in mind; blog me today to your heart's content.

I'll rejoin the land of the living soon.

Jul 21, 2005

We've been ratted out, boys!

Beat it, scram outta here, and regroup at West 45th and Congress. Get woid to Jimmy "The Knuckles" Wyckowski that we'll need all his boys for a little visit.

Sylvain, you busted me. *grin* One of the most difficult things about playing internet pranks is that you can't use expressions, tones of voice, or any of the thousand and one other tiny, near unconscious facial and physical clues that people pick up on to believe that you're sincere and not selling them a dead fish as a diamond ring. And no, it was nothing harmful, just in case you guys have been waiting for someone to comment back from a public access rig, screaming and yelling that I linked to some sort of super virus. It's just a cute joke which is actually rather hard to pull off if anyone actually reads the text of that post instead of just blindly trusting me and clicking on it.

And if it makes you feel better for just trusting me and clicking on it, don't feel bad. I found it on a complete stranger's weblog, and clicked it myself. Granted I clicked it with all antivirus on full alert and with my finger poised over the "Destroy My Computer Now To Prevent Widespread Infection" button. Imagine my chagrin to find it was...well, I'm not gonna ruin it for you, you'll have to see it for yourself.

So, onwards and upwards.

The Writer's Peril.

Today being the birthday of Papa Hemmingway (Why can't Ernest Hemmingway drive a train? Because HE'S DEAD!) I think it's only mildly appropriate that I made a terrible joke about him (*making checkmark in book...done*) and write a bit about the art of writing.

If Hemmingway had been a joke writer, his answer to the joke "Why did the chicken cross the road" would have been: "To die, alone. In the rain."

I know, I said only one bad Hemmingway joke, but that's not a Hemmingway joke, it's a chicken-crossing-the-road joke. Vital difference.

The main problem is that I'm easily distract...oooh, a cloud shaped like a monkey!

Writing is tough slogging sometime. I know there are people who write like other people breathe, but for the rest of us, well, we're the ones who have to work at it. Raymond Chandler's birthday was past us just a day or so ago, I think. Chandler was one of those writers who had the knack of making writing SEEM effortless, but he was one of those folk who really had to work at it. For him writing was something to be done with utmost care, placing words like a bricklayer builds a house, until the entire structure was not only strong and efficient, but lovely to look at.

Hemmingway I don't know a lot about. I read The Green Hills of Africa once on an airplane flight to Oregon, and was mildly unimpressed. Oh, I know he's the Great American Writer, but it simply didn't get under my skin the way, oh say, Franz Kafka can. *shrug* To each their own. What I was getting at was that it's been my impression that Hemmingway wrote what he felt, what he lived, trying to get the very essence of a life lived onto paper. That is, if a life lived was mainly about killing very large animals and drinking excessively. Which it was, for him.

There have been writers like e e cummings who have approached writing as though it were a child's game, with the idea that how the words look on the paper were just as important as what they were saying, and things like punctuation and capitalisation were unimportant and therefore could be discarded, and when you read that sort of work you realise that the hooks carefully hidden under that playful exterior have already been set in you. And what's wonderful to me is that there are so dang MANY marvelous writers; Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Rex Stout, J. R. R. Tolkien, Harlan Ellison, Sir A. C. Doyle, and the list goes ever onward.

Did you notice one thing about that list above? Wonderous diversity. Those gentlemen (just an oversight that I didn't list any female writers,) both living and dead and across many genres all have their own unique, distinct voice. That feature of writing - that the writer's personality comes out in his or her writing - has been one of the things that has kept me slogging away at my own writing for lo these many years. That, and the fact that my handwriting is so astoundingly bad that it's necessary for me to type so I can make my written missives understood. The idea that you can pick up on the feelings, the voice and cadence and personality of the writer from their works opens my eyes even wider when I read a book like The Hobbit, and in the gathering of guests at Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday I can pick out Mr. Tolkien himself, barefoot, pipe in mouth and ale in hand, huge grin across his face. His hand is obvious in everything he's written, in just the same way that Ray Bradbury's life is spread out before us across his words, bits and pieces here and there, but all together making an autobiography of a man's dreams and ambitions, his fears and his joys.

I'm getting a bit purple, aren't I. No tea yet this morning, that's the problem. Hold on a mite, we'll fix that in a tittle.

Roight, that's more like it.

So perhaps I write so as to give people a glimpse into my own life, or at least the bits of my own life that I want people to see. That's the other edge to the knife, the fact that even a mediocre writer can circumvent the appearance of his or her personality. The best writer I can think of in that category would be Clive Barker. Utterly delicious horror, and the writer's personality, at least to me, is as elusive as the Wendigo. The moment you think you've spotted it it turns sideways and dissapears.

So, am I showing you the real Irrelephant, or as the name implies, am I showing you a playact using smoke and mirrors and a little distraction...hey, look over there, a flock of turtles!

Jul 20, 2005

Free online monitor tweaking

I didn't realise this, but apparently after many long hours of use the inside of a monitor's cathode tube can accrue debris attracted by it's electrical field, making the resolution a little murky and the brightness not so bright anymore. This free online program cleans that particulate matter off for you, from the inside out. It takes a little while to load, but I saw a surprising improvement after it had completed.

Monitor Cleaning Program

It might take a little while to load, but it's worth it.

Just one bottle, just one jot. Just one tittle, that's the lot.

You'd be surprised how hard I had to work to find that quote, even with all the mighty powers of the internet behind me. Damn, technology can be a real bugger sometime.

If you've never seen "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," the wonderous version directed by Terry Gilliam of 'Python fame, you need to. I was thinking of a line the Baron delivered to Aphrodite when she scolded him that he was perhaps lying about her beauty, to which he replied "Not one jot, madam, not one tittle!"

And not knowing what a tittle is, I went digging, and found out that I also didn't know what a jot was. So gather close, children, and let's learn a bit of old useless English trivia.

(See, this is how it gets started. Next thing you'll have caught poetry.)

The "jot," according to the incredibly true and accurate internet, is the Hebrew word "yodh," which is the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is also the smallest letter. It's english equivalent is the letter "Y." The word "jot" itself is an english transliteration of "iota" which is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. "Iota," in turn, is the nearest Greek equivalent for the Hebrew "yodh."

Now then, don't you just feel your trivia glands swelling with whatever fluid trivia glands swell with when activated? Don't you just want to sit in a bar somewhere and suddenly, midway through your fourth beer, leap up onto the bar and begin expounding to the patrons about jots and iotas? And if you're received with enough welcome, or can avoid the police long enough, you could even go on about the tittle.

The "tittle" is the small decorative spur or point on the upper edge of "yodh." It's a letter with a slightly visible decorative mark.

Well now, I don't know about you, but I feel thick with knowledge now.

And as an apology for the language lesson, go get yourself a nice free cuppa.

Jul 19, 2005

Age before beauty

and pearls before swine. That's the way it goes, right?

I was thinking this morning mostly about Pop Culture, and how some of it has managed to sneak it's way into our minds and hearts so thoroughly that it'd take years of intensive psychotherapy and maybe even some very painful Rolfing to clear one's mind of it.

See, wha' had happen' was this: A new joke appeared on the horizon, to describe RMB and/or anyone you really dislike. What do RMB (or anyone you loathe) and a Slinky have in common? Both just sit there and do nothing, but it's great fun to watch them roll down stairs.

So, while I hung curtains in her office yesterday afternoon, the daughter was trying to sing the Slinky song, and strangely enough both of us could clearly remember it; the song, the horrible 50's-esque commercials, but neither of us could sing the words because they had been replaced by John Krisfalusi's Ren and Stimpy version, "Log." We both stood there, big-eyed and gasping for air, trying to remember the Slinky Song words, and all we could get out was "It's Log, Log, Log!"

What walks down stairs/alone or in pairs/and makes a slinkety sound?/A spring, a spring/a marvelous thing/everyone knows it's Slinky!

That's the bit that would not come. The opening of the joyous jingle we all grew up with. I think that little song is as ingrained in our collective minds as the Coca Cola Santa Claus with his red cheeks and his hourglass bottle in hand, and the Trix Rabbit's eternal struggles with morality and theft, and maybe even The Incredible, Edible Egg. But for me along came Billy West and John K. with Ren and Stimpy ("It's all done with stewmeat and puppets!") and utterly replaced my childhood memories with THIS--

What rolls down stairs/alone or in pairs/rolls over your neighbor's dog?/What's great for a snack/it fits on your back/it's Log, Log, Log!/It's Log, Log, it's big, it's heavy, it's wood!/It's Log, it's Log, it's better than bad, it's good!


Which to me is utterly hilarious, but then again you're talking to the guy who as a child was enraptured every Christmas when the Coca Cola singers would come on, standing in a Christmas tree shape in the twilight's gloaming, snow gently falling, and they'd acapella "I'd like to teach the world to sing." I have a perfectly clear memory of lying on my stomach in the den in my pyjamas, somehow squirreled up under the Xmas tree, flying around a scale model of a Klingon cruiser I had just finished building, and that commercial came on the great big console television that used to sit in the den, and my eyes got all anime round and I sang along, quietly.

My god what a pushover I was. But, with years of hardship, cruel private school hazing, and a failed marriage I managed to grow a thick enough shell to prevent most of that sappy commercialism from infecting me. Thank heavens for that, or I'd be just another consumer animal, digging from one clearance bin to another.

I guess it could have been worse, tho. It could have been Dick van Dyke singing about dirty shafts and flues.

Jul 18, 2005

One of my unvarying reference points

here of late is a wasp. What does that tell you about me?

Every time I come home I pause for a moment to see what the little Chalybion c. dirt dauber has managed thus far, near the frame of my back door. The rains have made her job much easier here of late, so she's managed to form and cap one tube a day or so for the past few days. It started as three across, then two above, then one, a little brown pyramid, but I think she realised she was in danger of her future children being hit by my storm door, so she stopped at a tri-level and has stared building down. Five thus far, and counting.

Nest picture

(Down below you can see two curves of mud where she started and abandoned assembly on the nest. She's not talking as to why those were not suitable sites.)

Jul 17, 2005

Water water everywhere

Why does water play such an important role in my life?

That's the question I woke up asking myself this morning. Okay, not completely true. The question I WOKE UP asking myself was "Dare I sleep another half hour, or will it make everything mucky?" I didn't ask myself the water question until I got into the bathroom and had brushed my teeth and was about to get into the shower, after turning on the faucet so the cat could get a drink, but it would sound really silly if I had said "The seventh or eighth question I asked myself this morning was..." etc.

So, the question I asked myself this morning was about water. Want a little backsory? Promise, this one won't involve agricultural equipment, and the only time I will refer to John Deere Green will be right there, and is now past, so you can open your eyes again.

Elephants are marvelous swimmers. With the exception of most birds and probably a number of insects, Nature preprograms all creatures with the ability to swim. Not to mention fish, which are designed solely to swim, and penguins, which are birds that do not fly but can swim. Irrelephants, however, aren't much on swimming. I never learned to swim, and had a nice aquaphobia drilled into me as a child, both of which, along with my natural reticence to be bare to the sun contribute to keeping me from learning how to swim.

Don't get me wrong--as much as I cannot swim, I love the water. See, I feel that if water ever finds out that I learned to swim then it will see this as implicit distrust of it, and water will then take it upon itself to drown me as retribution for lost trust. Ergo, as long as I trust water not to hurt me, I shall never be drowned. Works out nicely.

Irrelephant is known to be an avid (if not skilled) fisherman who loves the slow boating across the lake to that perfect spot, and finds the Pacific Ocean to be the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. I like to soak in a tub of hot water when I find a tub that will fit me, and have no problems with things like shower stalls or claw-foot tubs. And if you've read a few of the previous posts, I love rain showers, too, as well as the near constant storms we've been having the past few days, from the tropical storms pushing moisture up into LA.

So why this vital attraction to water, and the things that accompany it? Why do I love rain frogs, claw-foot tubs, and Jacuzzis? Is it a sort of love/hate thing, a cosmic yin/yang that brings much needed balance to my life? Am I too dry?

Why do I think up my best blog posts while I'm in the shower? Is it beause I'm just waking up while showering, or because the water somehow opens my eyes (spiritually) to new things?

Do I knowingly flirt with potential death? Perhaps. See: motorcycle riding.

Perhaps it's because I'm composed of 90% water? Scientifically speaking, could be. Perhaps because water is made up of simple atomics and beauty is to be found in simplicity? Mebbe.

It seems that water has always been a source of comfort to me, a thing of beauty unto itself. Hell, I don't know, I just like water. There's nothing more lovely than standing on a jetty of black volcanic rock on the Pacific Northwest coast, the better to watch the ocean pound and crash and foam against the jagged stones, knowing deep in my heart that every pound, every crash, every cataclysmic surge wears down the stone just a tiny bit, until one day the mighty stones will be nothing more than dark sand underfoot.

One of my personal favourite posts was the one where I revealed the story of the creek in Mississippi where some of my favourite childhood memories and fears were formed. It all stems from water; in that particular case it was the perfectly crystal clear deeply cold spring water that fed a beautiful meandering creek, hidden from all view. I spent hours after hours in that creek, afraid to get too deep, but longing to be immersed in it's glassine cold.

So what is it with water and me? I don't have the easy answer to that one. I don't even have the hard answer.

Any ideas?

FYI shutterbugs

The Picture Of The Moment for Sunday, July 17th was taken with a Nikon CoolPix 2100 digital camera (2.0mp) at a distance of less than 12". Don't ask me how I got it to autofocus that close, it just did.

Dial-up users--please be cautioned, the picture is very large, and will be slow to download because of this, but is well worth the look.

Jul 16, 2005

The Field knows all

It's funny, but a field can show you a lot of Nature without even really trying. Even when I'm desperately trying to stop Nature's advance on the house and it's occupants.

Oh--if you didn't already read it, read the previous entry from this morning, so this one will make a little more sense. Not a lot, mind you, just a bit. Perhaps enough.

Okay--the field. After a little back story. My brother the tinkerer did something very promising last weekend--he changed out the bush-hog. The one we had was well past it's time, and it's 4' deck was loose at many welds, as well as having one whole side shield battered to pieces by an unfortunate encounter with a tree, I think. Not my fault. His. Entirely. If you don't know what a bush-hog is then you've been blessed by never spending time on a tractor, for which you need to be thankful for. If you do, skip a bit.

A bush-hog is the generic name for any pull-behind cutter. Imagine a lawnmower, without the motor on top, and instead of four wheels just stick one solid one centered on the back, with a swivel so it can turn all the way around. Then make the deck go from 25" to 60" or even bigger, stick a lumpy sort of block top center for the transfer gears, and then stick a long drive shaft out of that box, leading forward. Put a gruesome sticker on the deck that says "Do not place hands or feet under deck as rapidly whirling sharp steel blades will render skin and bones into a pink fog," then stick one on the exposed driveshaft that says "If you touch this you'll get your arm twisted clean off." Add a sort of simple "A" frame of steel to the front, where it hooks to the tractor, and you've got it. Paint it some sort of agri company's colour, such as John Deere Green or International Harvester Red or Kubota Orange and you've got it made.

Then, if you get really gung-ho you can get one of those bat-winged jobbies, where you have THREE decks, one centered and two mounted on hinges on each side of the center, and three driveshafts, and about a bazillion rpm's worth of whirling spinning weed death, but you need about a jillion horsepower to spin one of those beasts up, and you can't have any trees or things in the way, because they tend to go through everything. Fast.

So anyway, the brother got a wild hair last weekend and swapped out our 6 year old beat-to-death deck-flying-apart Bush-Hog brand 4 footer for our old bush-hog, an orange makeshift behemoth which has resided behind my uncle's tractor for years and years now. See, that's the one that we had wayyy back when I was a kid and we had graduated from a sickle-bar cutter to a real pull-behind, and then promptly dragged it until it fell apart. My uncle, being the King Tinkerer, got some spare battleship-grade steel and a Tig welder and turned it into this sort of three thousand pound Mad Maxish sort of bulletproof M-1 Abrams of a bush-hog, so heavy the tractor hydraulics won't pick it up, and all covered in extra spikes and blades and sharp things.

Well, let me just say that this miracle of left-handed construction got me through the field in record time--blades sharp enough to cut air, and enough rpm's at the edges of those blades to make it sound like a helicopter, and I was third gear all the way 'round. The only problem was inertia and centrifugal force. It was spinning so fast that even with the clutch engaged I was still traveling at record speeds, and those whirling sharp blades were moving so fast that if they had any tilt to them the entire thing would have taken off and hovered at the end of it's driveshaft.

So what all that leads up to is this: things were proceeding so fast and so problem-free that I was able to look around and enjoy myself for a change. The field is quiet enough that there's always something interesting out there to see, and I don't mean the speed at which wild grape vines can overtake a tree. I'm talking about wildlife.

I've seen many things in that field over the years. I have watched over 100 egrets flying and landing and feeding, making the field look like it's snowed in patches. I've seen more field rats than I have had hot meals; big, dark glossy brown rodents the size of three fists, black eyes glittering with rodent madness. I've seen a monstrous big cottonmouth moccasin make it's muddy black way across the fresh cut, headed for quieter fields, tiny preying mantises so small they looked like pale green fingernail clippings, and I've passed through a swarm of honey bees following their new Queen on their way to fresher fields and a new hive. I've even been swarmed in the mornings by cottony wet fog, at noon by clouds of firey golden dragonflies, and in the evenings by scissortail swallows, each one flying so fast that they seemed to be nothing more than blue and orange afterimages.

And today while passing by the bee skops VERY fast (they were getting warm enough to be angry at me for trespassing) I got to watch 5' of chicken snake wend it's way up a tree.

Yeah, I can just hear the booing and yelling now, but I've never been one to be swayed by popular opinion.

When I was young (8 or so, at best) I saw a full-grown chicken snake about fifteen feet off the ground, clinging like Grim Death to a 4x4 bird-house pole. It had crinked itself into about ten crimps and wrapped itself around two faces of the square pole. My father took a stick and bumped it until it fell, because he loved his purple martins more than he loved snakes, and he caught it to show us what snakes were like close up.

I got to see the same thing today, only without the pole--there was a beautiful brown and black glossy beauty, probably a good 5' long, climbing straight up an oak tree, I assume trying to see what was up there. So shocked was I at suddenly seeing this sleek thing that it took me a few seconds to realise that it was climbing vertically up the tree trunk without the help of arms, hands, or thumbs. I can't even climb one and I'm descended from millions of years of tree climbers, and here's this fifteen pound snake, in essence a tube of muscle and intestines, that was climbing a tree as quickly as I could climb the steps of a ladder. By the time I had stopped the headlong rush of the tractor (inertia again,) stopped the whirling dervish of the blades and gotten the throttle turned down to something less than 100 decibels in order for me to disembark and catch it, his tail was already well out of my arm's reach and fast climbing.

As much as I bitterly complain about the heat (phenomenal) and the filth (astounding) and the bugs (billion-fold) there are still things out there to stop me for a second, open my eyes, and make me smile. While sweating bullets, wiping gnats out of my ears and nose, and blinking away the layer of dirt and grime and grass clippings.

Ah, Nature.

Bake until toasty brown on the outside, pink in the middle

I'm not looking forward to venturing into the field today.

Perhaps that's why I'm sitting here blogging, wasting the coolth of the morning. And it IS coolth--it's an astounding 74 degrees right now. In Louisiana in July that's tantamount to Satan putting Hell's thermostat from "Boiling Sinners Alive In Their Own Juices" down to "Balmy Bahama Evening." It's just not natural, I tell you.

See, we've got a big patch of field behind the house. About 40 acres worth, of which I own 5, and keep clean another 5. Back in the day, my grandparents had this big 40 acre patch, from the road to the bayou, but had no real desire to farm it. Farming, you see, is an expensive prospect, and was even back then. So, they sharecropped it. Strange, is it not, to hear a word you had to learn back in grade school history being used in a sentence? A gentleman and his three grown sons farmed it in my grandparent's name, with their equipment, and shared the profit. This went on for years and years, until my grandmother passed on and nobody really wanted to keep up with the sharecropping, as well as the sharecroppers themselves getting up in years and wanting to stop.

So, the land, as they say, lay fallow. And this is where it gets bad.

A bayou, you see, is a big sluggish brown-water ditch, and as such is home to all sorts of little creatures like catfish and turtles, water moccasins and frogs, which are prey for bigger animals like beavers and herons and bigger catfish, which are in turn prey for even bigger creatures like alligators, big water moccasins, nutria (think big-ass rats,) and rednecks (think big-ass, bipedal rats.) The bayou, in short, produces all sorts of unsavory creatures, which see an unmowed field as prime family-raising territory. This is why we keep it cut: to keep from being alligator and nutria'd out of house and home.

And my parents, being clever, started my brother and I at a VERY young age. There is a picture floating around my mother's house somewhere of my father riding the tractor around with a long rope tied to it's three point hitch in back. What's attached to that rope, I hear you ask? A Radio Flyer wagon, that's what, with me in it. And what's that? Another rope tied to the axle of my wagon? And what's attached thereon? You got it. My brother, in another wagon. Apparently we were foolish enough to ride around behind the tractor for hours in our little makeshift caravan. I distinctly recall attaching a THIRD wagon to the rear, in which our dog would ride, cushioned on an old bath mat. That's how country we were.

Little did I know my parents were already cleverly training me to like to spend hours and hours in the baking hot sun driving around in circles. I'm surprised I didn't become a NASCAR driver.

And the training program didn't stop there, oh no. My first driving lessons were taken on a tractor, and it was perched on the steel seat of an early 40's model 18 hp generic bone-buster tractor that I learned how to heel-toe a clutch pedal and shift gears, even though tractors that old don't usually have modern conveniences like gear synchronisers or soft leather padding on the shift lever.

As the years wore on and my parents realised I was ready but unwilling to take over the field cutting job they came up with the NEXT plan--pay me. I was paid by the hour to bake in the sun like a Christmas ham and get that lovely Bain de Sole' "San Trope tan," and was paid to boot. I don't know where all that money went, but it sure set the final puzzle piece for me. At this point I've been cutting that same field for about 27 years now, and it hasn't gotten any easier. It's gotten harder in fact, because after 27 years of jolting and tossing and slamming on a 40's model International Harvester Super A I've just about reached the limits of my cartilage and bone. But it gets done, for free now, because it's MY property that has to have the water moccasins and the nutria rats and the Chuppacabra kept off of, and because after a while there are certain ruts that you simply cannot get out of.

Like those in my field.

Jul 14, 2005

My eyes are burning!

I want to believe that there are still unexplainable wonders in the world. I just want a resonable explaination for them.

It would thrill me no end to believe that there is, as the Norse used to tell, a dragon of fearsome size and unthinkable power who dwelt in the Earth and constantly chewed at the roots of the World Tree Yggdrasil, the ash tree that is the center of the Universe. The dragon's name was Nidhogg, Norse for "Eater of Corpses," and it's intention was to destroy Yggdrasil so that life could no longer spring from it. That would be wonderment pure and simple, no room for science.

John Boorman took the idea of Nidhogg one step further. He had Merlin the Sorcerer tell the young Arthur that The Dragon was visible all around, that it was the land upon which they walked and the mists that enfolded them was The Dragon's breath. Merlin further told Arthur that to see The Dragon entire would destroy a man and drive him mad, and that the best we could hope was to see only tiny bits of The Dragon, and thereby save ourselves from destruction.

What a marvelous idea. I sometimes tell myself that seeing Nidhogg these magic-less days has become an admixture of both; something sinister that would utterly destroy someone were they to see it entire. I like to think that seeing the Dragon now happens when we come face to face with the truth behind what we see as real. There comes a time for each of us that we finally glimpse the wheels of the machine that runs the Universe, when we see behind the curtains, and it's not a cheerful old man with a grey beard pulling levers, yelling into a microphone.

I have yet to see the Dragon in it's entirety, and hope never to, but I think today I saw just a bit of It, and It made me slip a mental gear.

If you've been keeping up with either Vulger Wizard's or my blogs, you know we've been patiently waiting for the new office to be set up. Right now we're ready to go, holding only on the graces of BellSouth and Executone to put in our T-1 connection. Today we realised that we're literally about 100' from that goal, that being the distance between the building's pole and the pole on the highway. The line is up to the street, and the lines out of the building are ready, but there's no connection between the two poles, and there's a lot of finger-pointing and blame-placing, but what it all comes down to is one guy has to come out and bury some conduit from pole to pole.

And this, Gentle Reader, if you have stayed with me thus far, is where it gets crazy. This is where we see a bit of the Dragon.

Before BellSouth can dig, they have to make sure where the water line is. Makes good sense. This afternoon we had three BellSouth trucks in the parking lot. If memory serves, we had an engineer, a project manager, an installer, and a construction guy, and they all spent their time standing around waiting for the guy from the water company to show. When he drove up let me assure you that he was the pride of Boyce, because out of the Official Vehicle stepped a redneck poster child: black West Coast Chopper's T-shirt, blue jean shorts, and with his Caterpillar boots on he might have tipped the scales at 90 pounds. "Scruffy" did not even being to do him justice.

So with the arrival of this shitkicker angel everyone trooped out to the road, ignoring the blowing drizzle, anxiously awaiting old boy's next move. Which didn't take long--he reached in his toolbox and pulled out a black handle, and telescoped out about two feet of silver antenna from it, at a right angle. Holding this handle in his hand, rod pointed out directly in front of him, he started walking back and forth across the grass verge alongside the roadway.

Has everyone caught this yet? He was dowsing. I kid you not. Apparently RIWA employs only the finest Water Witches for their field staff, and this practicioner of the ancient art was being followed by a whole pack of BellSouth hounds, each hanging on his every turn.

The worst part of it? It worked. I stared enraptured by this glimpse into corporate occultism. I gasped and recoiled in horror when the silver wand twitched sideways in old boy's hand, and I watched incredulously when, with utter gravity and seriousness, he marked the spot on the ground with orange spray paint. He walked parallel to the highway about twenty feet and started in again, walking back and forth across the area. The pack followed him like a herd of sheep until the wand twitched sideways again, and with the same somber pomp and circumstance he marked a second orange blot, sighted down the two marks, pointed them out to the onlooking BellSouth employees, and walked back to his truck.

My jaw could not have gotten any lower without me standing on it. I had just watched a city employee WHO JUST HAPPENED TO BE A DOWSER mark the location of a CITY WATER MAIN for a bunch of professional people. Silly me, I thought they located water mains using maps and theodolites, not malnourished, three-toothed occultists with strange sensitivities and a taste for banjo music. I mean sweet heavens, at least use a tape measure, even if it's just for show. For me it was tantamount to watching a taxi-full of business-suited retail executives ask a Maori witch doctor for investment advice.

So I've had to face the facts--I have finally seen a good-sized bit of Nidhogg, and lived to tell the tail. Er, tale.

Brain says strange things now.

I have come unstuck in Time.


Here of late I have lost track of what day it is twice in two weeks. What's bad is that I don't find out until DAYS have passed that I'm living in the wrong day. Last week the office was closed for July Fourth, so the work week started on Tuesday. By Friday I was certain it was Thursday, because important place-markers like my calendar were packed up with all the other office supplies. Imagine my fear, surprise, and revulsion when I realised I had been anticipating 'only one more day of work this week' and suddenly it's the weekend. I felt like I had reached for one more step that didn't exist, and suddenly I was stumbling.

It happened again this week, too. Part of it was having a bday party (not mine, I'm still young) at the mom-in-law's house on a day that wasn't a weekend (it's rare for us to go anywhere on anything but a weekend since we both work) and again, part not having a calendar in front of me, or some visual frame of reference. Oh, and the garbagemen didn't come on time, either, but they're about as reliable as a clock made out of flowers, and not nearly as attractive.

See, Wednesday is Garbage Day, in the same way that Tuesday is Soylent Green Day. Every Tuesday evening I tote all the trash out to the can, and the can to the curb. If I miss the Tuesday evening drag it's quite likely one of two things will happen: 1) I'll drag it out there Wednesday morning at 6 am, only to find that they came at 3:12 that morning, or 2) I'll assume I missed them, leave the can in the garage, and will leave for work at ten minutes to eight only to see them drive past. So of course, Tuesday evening I bring the can out, stand it at the curb, and pray. Wednesday evening it's still standing there full, so I suddenly think "Well heck, it was Tuesday today, they'll come tomorrow, I'm just a day ahead of myself." So of course, to further the confusion, I hear them drive up a few minutes ago, and I had to check the calendar on XP's toolbar to reassure myself that it was, in fact, Thursday, and they were simply late, whereas I'm still living in Wednesday.

It's inevitable that I live in some sort of outer suburban nightmare like that. I try so desperately to fit into some sort of pattern, because I'm so bloody forgetful about a lot of things that patterns really help me stay in touch with Reality, and the rest of the world doesn't want to cooperate.

Speaking of, I nearly crashed the computer trying to find pics of garbagemen for the Picture of the Moment, so I think I'll stop here now. It's only taken me five minutes of windows suddenly not closing and the CPU Usage Meter bar coming up on the taskbar to remind me that I'm using the wonder of the world, Windows.


And for those of you who noticed, I hope you like the new blue--I reapplied a new background thinking it would help the sliding sidebar problem, come to find out it was the Ride To Work Day banner, but now that we're here I'm not going back again, too much hassle. Enjoy it until the next catastrophic failure, which should be happening abou

Jul 13, 2005

So where do we go from here?

See, I lost my map, and the indigenous lifeforms aren't all that helpful with directions, and that gay pirate matre'd won't tell me where I need to be.

I did some blog-cleaning this morning. After The Three S's, my morning ritual, I sit down with a big glass of iced tea and whatever junk I might want for breakfast, and I surf a series of blogs that I follow with regularity. This morning I did the same, but with a twist--I did a little deep thought on what I was not all that impressed with anymore and erased them from my Favourites list, thereby freeing up some time in the am for me to...well, to blog, actually. There's now about 6 that I go to regularly, since they have content that interests me, or because they update with a fair regularity. The rest? Kicked to the curb.

The one that held position tho it hasn't been updated since sometime in March? William Gibson's blog. It must be nice being a writer of the caliber of William Gibson. Old boy stops blogging, I assume long enough to write another book, and his blog traffic still stays up in the thousands of hits a day, mostly because of fanboys like myself who check there every morning for another post, like a crack addict looking for that one dirty little rock that he knows fell under the couch cushions last year.

Sad I know, but at least I admit to it, and admitting you have a problem is half the battle, right? The other half is keeping the rest of the world from knowing you have a problem.

Boy, I've sure blown that one, haven't I.

You know what really interests me? We discussed this a little bit yesterday. People's ability to fool themselves. Being the flip side of being able to mentally fool ourselves to help is the ability to fool ourselves to either hinder or, perhaps, lead to total destruction.

How many people live day to day with the firm belief that they are important, that they are cared for, who in reality mean nought? Of the billions and billions of people that litter this globe, how many would have to be removed before the ripple started affecting other people? And yes, I've read Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" about a thousand times, and while I like the idea of a butterfly's death affecting the entire outcome of the known universe the rational part of me believes that it would take a lot more than that to really make things change, and the joy of that is that even if things DID change, Mankind being a creature who only lives in one direction on the time stream could't see the changes that did or did not take place, unlike Bradbury's chrononauts, so it doesn't really matter now, does it?

To go further, how many people think themselves into non-existance? And I don't mean Rene Descartes sits up in bed one morning and his wife asks him what he's thinking about, and he says "Nothing, really" and he dissapears in a puff of logic. No, I'm thinking about the people who, either with the basis of fact or belief suddenly believe and understand on a cellular level that they no longer mean anything to anyone. What happens then? One of two things, I would assume. 1) They die, either on the spot or sometime thereafter, in the old 'I've given up living' sort of way, or 2) which is the fantasy version, they somehow attain a sort of altered state of consciousness that propels them far beyond the scope of normal space and time, and they can freely move up and down the flow of time to right wrongs and save small children from burning buildings.

Yeah, I think #1 is it, too.

And another thing--is this how serial killers think? I wonder how many of them remove people from life with the sure and certain knowledge that the person they're removing has no effect on life?

Damn I'm dark this morning. Maybe it's the constant run-up to a huge storm that we get every afternoon, which never quite seems to arrive. It's like really needing to sneeze, and huffing and snorting right up to the moment and then...nothing. I've got too much antici---(Say it! Consti-)---pation and not enough delivery.

Nah. I'm just a dark Irrelephant with too much time on his trunk and an overactive imagination unhindered by a lot of brains and stuff.

Technical Difficulties: Please Stand By

Okay, you can sit down again now. I seem to have the banner problem fixed. Silly me, I tried to do things the fast and nasty way by hotlinking to the Ride To Work site's banner rather than just copying it to my own storehouse of images, and some folks were having trouble viewing it. This problem should now be fixed.

Jul 12, 2005

Ride To Work!


Check the site out, it has all the dirt.

The more people who are aware of motorcycles the safer we all are. The more people that ride the more visible we all are. Help support motorcycle rider awareness! Irrelephant says "Throw a leg over that saddle and ride!"

introspection \in-truh-spek'-shuhn\, noun:

The act or process of self-examination; contemplation of one's own thoughts and feelings; a looking inward.

I've never been this sort of person. Okay, so that's complete and utterly flummery. They ought to call me Narcissus I'm so damned inward turned. My third eye? It's rolled backward in it's spiritual socket, all the better to examine my own thoughts and motives.

I wonder sometimes if the whole zodiac thing isn't just a tiny bit correct. I don't mean the hyper-generic horoscopes you get in the papers, the ones that are so vague it's a wonder you can read them at all. And I'm not talking about the Chinese zodiac, which says that every year a whole generation of people is born with a certain set of traits, which seems to me a lot less fair than our own, which says that a month worth of newborns every year will be cursed with weak bowels and a tendency to over analyse everything. So what if it happens to be true in some instances. Law of Averages, right?

But no, I'm too much a realist to believe that anything as happenstance as the day you were born and what planets were aligned with what suns could affect something as incredibly sensitive and highly refined as the concious mind.

The problem, however, is that I'm not sure WHAT exactly makes us weak of bowel and introspective of mind. Hmmm...did I say "we?" Perhaps I'm talking in a wider sense, to encompass Virgos everywhere.


I know that the human mind, that tripartite, symmetrically divided lump of grey meat we carry around between our ears and above our teeth has a tremendous power to affect our bodies, far more than we yet give it popular credit for. I have seen sights that make me fill with trembling, things that people have trained their mind to do for them. I have seen people who can:

  • Control their body temperature so well that they can stand in a glass box naked, covered in ice, and still maintain not only their body temperature but conciousness throughout several hours, when hypothermia kills people within a few minutes
  • Forgoe food and water for extended periods of time
  • Endure tremendous amounts of self-inflicted pain, and go so far as to take enlightenment from it
  • Use their powers of persuasiveness to cause a tiny nation to make war on the rest of the world, and believe with iron certainly that their cause is holy and just
  • Engage their minds in feats of memorization and pattern recognition that utterly baffle and defeat the 'ordinary' person

The list goes on and on, naturally. I'm sure you know people who can do things that are outside of the range of what we would call ordinary. I know that after years of sleeping badly because of a hyper-active imagination and a lack of control over my own thoughts I finally discovered and implemented a self-hypnosis technique that has me able to fall asleep within a few minutes of being in bed. Granted it took years to get to this point, but it works, and works well.

So what sort of wonder is it when people go astray? How can we possibly shake our heads in shame when we see people who delude themselves, who have told themselves for so long that an adult woman who has no body fat at all is sexy, who firmly believe that the white fluffy ice crystal trail behind a high-flying aircraft is in fact our government spraying us with mind-altering chemicals, or who believe that they can only achieve true sexual pleasure if they are standing over a bound naked woman, smoking a cigar while wearing only a tuxedo shirt and sock garters.

Now then ladies and gentlemen, if you watch the monitor closely you can see here, at the 20 minute, 19 second mark, where Irrelephant made the fatal mistake that cost him his reason, his readership, his friends and family, and ultimately caused him to start wearing a brown paper bag over his head while ringing a bell and shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" while in public view.

So with all that in mind (just a little pun (\Puhn\, noun: a play on words)) let's take a look at something that makes me wonder.

Think of a deviancy. It doesn't have to be sexual, it doesn't have to be criminal, just something that does not fit the amorphous boundaries of moral behaviour. Got it? Okay, let's proceed. Think for just a moment about this deviancy from the status quo. What if, as the vast majority of learned researches seem to believe here of late, it's not caused by a chemical imbalance, or by scarring or misdevelopment of some vital bit of the brain. We've already proved that the brain is holographic in nature, that different parts of the brain can learn to perform other functions that are not assigned to it by nature's processes. So what if deviancy is, in simplest terms, a choice, and not a requirement of a physical distress?

Naturally this is not all-encompassing--we know that by damaging certain areas of the brain we can drastically and permanently change behaviour. What I'm talking about here is something smaller. What if the chronic shoplifter is doing so not because the poor dear has a chemical imbalance in her brain but because she has somehow linked that behaviour with fulfillment of some need? What if chronic depression could be treated by mental process modification rather than by injection of powerful and poorly understood chemicals? What if we could deeply study the Why and How of the mental processes that control our behaviour, with intention of changing the root, rather than simply pruning and shaping the unsightly leaves and branches that show above the ground?

I studied Psychology in college with the intention of finding a path to do something like that, to immerse myself in the study of what makes us do what we do. Imagine my surprise to find that I was way, WAY off base. Psychology is such an infant science that I'm surprised that we don't use leeches and trephining still. But I guess when you take the long view of it all, the staring-a-thousand-years-into-a-room look, it's all \ir-rel'-uh-fant,\ adj: Unrelated to the pachyderm being considered.

Jul 11, 2005

Pots and Irrelephants

I was going to trumpet a bit about my disgust over ordinarily regular bloggers who suddenly stop blogging on the weekends, then I realised something horrible:

I didn't blog Sunday.

So, pots and kettles, I shall not gripe.

I came to a realisation Saturday, interestingly enough, after a comment left by a gentleman by the dubious name of "madman," who has a great blog, btw, at ventingagain.blogspot.com Anyway, I digress--I was 'chatting' with him after one of his posts, and he commented on my gas pumps and dogs post, something along the lines that I had made pumping gas interesting, and that really got me to thinking. Granted, EVERYTHING gets me to thinking, and I refuse to blame my Virgo-hood on that.

Strangely enough, for a guy who does a lot of looking very closely at the obvious and writing about it I can be astoundingly bad about putting the obvious into words. I've known for a very long time now how I am, how the little things in life have always meant more than the big grandiose gestures, but I have always failed to get it into words, to help solidify it for myself and for others. So where were we?

Thinking. Yes. Got me to thinking about how I write, about my style, about the words I choose and so forth, and particularly my subject matter. I've always held forth that happiness is to be found in the small things, a point we have covered a few times now. To me it may be cool and all to have next year's Bentley in the driveway of your 17 room palatial estate, but honestly, as far as I'm concerned, happiness comes from being able to pop the hood and change your own oil in it. As far as my storytelling, I've always enjoyed looking at things very close, things that pass well under our radar ordinarily. The day to day routine, when looked at close, with a little scrutiny if you will, can suddenly reveal things that we never expected, and telling stories about those small things and the surprises they hold has always held a certain fascination for me.

Yesterday evening I braved the heat and humidity to stand on a very wobbly chair on my front porch so I could change out the old light fixture out there for a nice new motion-detector fixture. I had an interesting moment or two out there realising that standing on a chair that swivels easily is about like trying to work in space--every time you try to torque something to the right the rest of your swings to the left. Strangely exhilirating, while at the same time rather nauseating.

But, I managed to get the new light installed and aimed properly, and as dusk fell my front porch was bathed in the soft light of a couple of halogen bulbs from a fixture that I had just installed with my own two, and not a lick of fire, spark, nor firetruck to be seen. Naturally it made me feel pretty good. I realise fully that installing a single porch light fixture is pretty Casper Milquetoast stuff as far as home improvement goes, but I'm happy that I a) knew how to do it and b) knew how to do it well enough that it only took about 5 minutes. Competency, even at a simple task, is deeply rewarding, and like I said, happiness, for me at least, comes from the little things.

Wow. I don't know that I have ever managed a more fragmented post ever! Congrats, me!

Jul 9, 2005

So what do we do for an encore?

I need a bear wearing an Elizabethan ruff collar that can ride a unicycle, recite Proust, and juggle. Sort of like a screen saver, only more hirsute.

There were two post subjects in my head yesterday, and foolish me I didn't jot them down, and now they're gone. I know better than to have done that, but did so anyway. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who constantly carries a tiny chewed nubbin of a pencil around and is always seen savagely searching for a scrap of paper to jot a note on, nor am I the sort of person who can carry a PDA and use it, nor am I the person you sometimes see hurrying somewhere with a fixed expression who is muttering under their breath something over and over so that when they arrive at their destination they can jot this vital mantra down.

No, I'm the sort of guy who thinks of something and relies on this three pound lump of wetware in my skull to bring it back when I most need it, and in a world of holographic memory storage I'm still working with stone tablets.

But, thanks to the careful application of certain chemicals and a low voltage dose to the base of my skull, I remember now.

Title: Three Dogs F**king

The new office is out in the Middle of Nowhere. That's not completely accurate. It's more like on the Very Edge of Nowhere. We're on an old highway which sits beside a very new interstate, and we're out on the edge of the large city we live in, so the population is not, shall we say, dense. Thick yes, dense no. And as we are operating on the edge of an interstate out on the verge of nowhere, the closest gas station is not what clean, normal people would call clean nor normal.

See, this place has sat right across the interstate's off ramp for a very long time. It's been sitting there so long a graveyard has sprung up in it's side yard. I kid you not. It's one of those half-run down truck stop places that you always see in movies but unless you live in an economically declining city (Boyce) you never really see places like it. And when you're on fumes and know that you cannot make it to the real gas station with the bright lights and the big canopy and the bored 18 year old cashiers you end up going to a place like this because it's close.

My mistake.

See, I've been on both sides of the check-out stand. I understand a clean parking lot, and multiple gas pumps with credit card slots. Trash cans that are clean and empty are my usual fare. I understand brightly lit aisles, metal shelving, and full stock levels. I understand clearly priced items and a clean, if not helpful, staff. What I don't get is the gravel parking lot that's big enough to house a dozen tractor trailers when none are present. I don't make much sense out of a giant plywood sign nailed to the roof that proclaims the location's name as "Truck Stop." I don't understand why it is that there is only one gas pump, it was probably state of the art in 1963, and has a hand-lettered sign that says "Pay first after dark don't block diesel pump" when the diesel pump is a good hundred feet from me.

And I don't understand it when three dogs come up out of nowhere and amble over to me. See, I grew up with dogs. Friendly, clean, bright-eyed dogs. I didn't grow up with dogs who come over with a look in their eye like they expect me to do something either to or for them. I wasn't sure if they wanted me to check their oil level or maybe pour out some gas for them to drink or if they simply wanted to come and bite me, to pass along the joy that is rabies.

Normal dogs gambol. They frolick, they jump around, they look at you with utter good nature and humour in their intelligent eyes. These dogs were not normal. They were RMB dogs. These were redneck dogs, no question about it. They sidled. They never turned away from me, which meant that at times they were walking sort of sideways, so as to keep their muzzles pointed at me, like guns with teeth. They played, in a manner of speaking. Two of them would choose a third at random and leap at it's back legs and tail, biting and pulling until the victim fell down, and to make matters worse the victim's muzzle STILL POINTED AT ME. Even in the throes of mortal combat these animals did not look away from me.

The smell was the most interesting part of all. I've smelled dogs. I grew up with two or three stinky dogs all around me, and it was never a big deal. Dogs smell like dogs. These dogs took smelling seriously, though. When they first ran up I simply assumed someone was burning garbage nearby, which was a reasonable assumption at this place. As they cavorted and lunged and attacked I realised that it was THEY who stank, sort of a primordial filthy dog cooking in the sun too long sort of smell. It wasn't a smell of death, it was simply double plus ungood stinky dog. It was stink with teeth in it. I smelled it for hours after I had left them, sort of an evil poltergeist of a smell.

Inside (I had to pay inside after dark even tho it was 7:35 am) was just as bad as I had expected. Aisles leading nowhere, four fifths of the coolers were devoted to very cheap beer, and the stock levels and quality were, well, questionable. There was tinned vienna sausages and Spam there that looked like they had made it through Chernobyl. The chips seemed wilted. Even the cooler that had Sobe and Red Bull and Pepsi seemed like it had been stolen from some other cleaner, brighter convenience store and transplanted here, and simply hadn't had time to start dying yet.

The best part was the black glass door that said "Game Room." It's human nature to stare at a car wreck, so I had to look in. Apparently a "Game Room" is three electric poker machines, one very small crooked billiards table in a 30' long room, is lit by two 40 watt bulbs on bare wires, and has two, yes TWO bars, one to an end. Classy. Made me want to saunter in and ask if anyone played Snooker.

I paid for my gas and a Pepsi, and while I stood at the counter the two resident evils stared at my bike and my jacket and helmet like I had just come down from the Mother Ship and was about to tell everyone that The Rapture was due any second, time to kiss your asses goodbye. The hunchbacked one seemed nice enough, but the feral one was checking my purchases out, so I simply stayed quiet, didn't make any fast motions with my hands, and got the hell out of there.

I saw the dogs again yesterday, a mile or more away from where I met them first. They were trotting down the highway, swinging their stinky heads from side to side, sort of like mobile hairy machine guns. I swear they were looking for me.

Jul 8, 2005

Tales of Woe and Poo

I figure that with a title like that, no-one could possibly resist reading today's entry.

The problem being, I'm not sure where I want to go with it. No pun intended.

See, I was mildly inspired, and mostly revulsed, by Scaryduck's post this morning about his emergency poo and having to use his shed as a back-up toilet. I don't know that I've ever been lowered to the point of hot-bagging one, and even if I had I don't know that I'd admit to squatting on the side of the westbound lane of the I-10 corridor over a Hefty bag during 5 o'clock traffic. It never happened, and the news crew can back me up on that.

I don't know that I can go any further with this post. I was sitting here, as I usually do, casting the feeble light of my imagination over the uncharted terrain in front of me, wondering which path I might take to the goal of a complete and readable and perhaps even entertaining post, and I had to stop for a trip to the throne. For those of you counting, that's two in an hour and a quarter.

See, if I go on, I'm going to discuss my bowels and their habits in sickening detail, and I don't know that anyone in their right mind wants to hear about that, and anyone NOT in their right mind who DOES want to hear about it doesn't need to be reading this blog, because I've had an internet stalker before, and I ain't crazy about repeating the experience.

As a second vital point, my friends and relatives who read this blog already know way more than they want to about certain aspects of my large intestine and it's subordinate bits and their functions ("He's got the fastest bowels in the South") and I'm certain they don't wish to be re-exposed to that particular subject. There's one person in particular who I know does not have an internet connection and therefore can be dogged mightily without fear of retribution, because he still takes a tremendous amount of glee in the fact that the men's room of the local Office Depot still carries the moniker "Irrelephant's Office." It was called that jokingly when I worked there, which was fine, because there were days when I spent more time in there than on the sales floor, but to have that title stay on months after I've gone, and worse, to have it be called that by employees who have NEVER EVEN MET ME is just a bit much. So, Verticles, be ready. There's an upcoming post all about you, you evil little dwarf.

I'm off to buy one of those big ValuPacks of Immodium.