Oct 30, 2005

Nothing But Corn And Worms For You!

My family-in-law has some interesting ways that, frankly, make me jealous that my childhood wasn't very cool.

They do things, you see. Strange phrases catch their attention, and become songs, or mantras, or buzz-words, for days or for years. The Donut In A Container Song. The Birthday Bat for my wife's birthday over there and the phrase "Corn and worms for you!" The Bat did not make an appearance last night but the phrase sure got born, and quite frankly I could go on and on, but none of it would make sense to anyone but two regular readers of mine, being my mother-in-law and my wife. One, you see, was the instigator, and the other was the one who grew up with this sort of thing. And that's just it--she grew up with strangeness abounding in the house, my very young brother and sister-in-law are growing up with it right now, and I envy that.

My childhood was straight-laced and a bit dour. My father was very quiet, my mother very uptight, and so I don't really know where I got my off the wall humour from. I certainly never got to sing the Donut In A Container Song, nor did I know what the Bug Dance was. Ah, but I'm catching up fast.

All Souls Day

I don't know if it's the day before or the day after All Hallow's Eve that the family is supposed to go out and clean up the dead ancestor's gravesites, but if it's before then my brother and I have done our fair share for the next decade.

I've mentioned the old family cemetary plot up on the hill I think. It's a very old (1850's) family plot, set up on a hill that, unfortunately, now overlooks a major four-lane highway. But it's set in the trees, and it hasn't been really taken a lot of good care of until here of late. New headstones and a good general clean-up of the hilltop have made it beautiful again. This Sunday morning was the second Sunday of our huge work-out, and involved such things as felling largish trees and clearing a lot of underbrush, vines, and finding some suspicious old whiskey bottles.

The best part of the day? The last tree we felled was an old cedar growing right along the very old fence along the outside of the cemetary. It had been split in two down at it's roots by one of the last two major storms, and as such it was leaning well across the cemetary proper. We all knew that if rot felled it, it would take out at least five or six of the very new and very nice marble headstones, so it had to go, somehow.

Using our country-bred smarts, I tossed a rope over a fork in the trunk about fifteen feet up, then headed down the state's right-of-way incline toward the highway, letting my 230 pounds hang out over the slope by that nylon strap. My brother stood in the cemetary and pushed on it toward me, and my cousin took the chainsaw and took a huge wedge out of the side, so it'd fall sideways and not the way gravity really wanted it to go. Our sincere hopes were to drop it in a ten foot wide clear space along the old fence, between the cemetary and me hanging out over the highway's cliff, and if it fell more toward me and took out the fence then so be it, as long as it didn't fall into the headstones.

The cousin had to be stopped at one point from starting to cut while standing UNDER the intended falling path of the tree, but it went well otherwise. At one point I had to loosen my hold on the rope so my hand would not get crushed from the pressure, and when I released the tension I heard a horrific "CRACK" from the trunk, everyone started shouting all at once, I heaved the rope and myself out into free-fall, my brother pushed untl his shirt tore, the cousin gouged the Poulan back into the trunk and within an instant the tree came loose, I almost took a tumble down twenty feet of roadway embankment, and the tree fell, freakishly, PERFECTLY between headstones and the fence, right in that narrow 10' corridor of clear grass. It's uppermost point fell within a foot of a headstone so old it didn't even have dates, just initials.

I nearly fainted when I saw it had worked perfectly.

Then I broke into a top-of-my-lungs rendition of "I'm A Lumberjack And I'm Okay."

Oct 28, 2005

"Things Could Change"

That was the legend on one of the nurse's desks this morning. "Things could change." It referred, in this case, to the nurse's schedule, but it struck me this morning in the early morning cold and dim that it applies with no effort to all of life.

Things Could Change. Oh yes, no question about it. Things change all the time. Perhaps in certain perspectives nothing changes. To look at things like rocks, nothing changes. To look at one's own body, things change very slowly. But unbeknownst to us, our body is changing all the time. Every cell in your body dies and replaces itself over the course of seven years. Each seven years you are a new person entirely. Creepy, isn't it.

It's a strange sensation, change. There's even a five dollar word for it--dynamic. All life is dynamic, changing, moving. Nothing stands still, no matter how much we might want them to. And there are certainly times when I wish things hadn't changed. I might as well wish that the sun hadn't risen, though, and unsurprisingly things are easier to accept when you have no choice.

But that, as they say, is life. You're born, things change, and you die. And even then things change. Like I said, it's easier to accept when you finally realise that you don't have a choice.

And honest, I'm not in a bad mood. Just...introspective.

Oct 27, 2005

Cat Pouring

And before you worry, this post has nothing in the least to do with kitten juggling, although it is a little-known fact that I currently hold the world's record for keeping 8 Persians aloft through 47 complete cycles, or 'jugs' as they are called in the juggling profession. Unfortunately video evidence of the entire award-winning performance was tragically destroyed in a records fire in a small Brooklyn warehouse, along with my plaque and Certificate Of Commendation And All Around Good Showmanship With A Feline, but hey, that's the breaks, right?

So. On to Cat Pouring.

I'm a cat person. Always have been. I like dogs just fine, but cats are where it's at, in my opinion. I know how the emperor of legend felt when he cut off the sleeve of his priceless robe, to keep from waking a sleeping kitten. So, when it comes time for me to carry a cat, I do it with the utmost care and consideration for the cat's feelings and comfort. Some of our cats don't like to be carried, some do and relax entirely into it, becoming in essence a fur-covered hot water bottle, and some are semi-comfortable with the carryings on and prefer to stand. Either way, they all know that when I return them to earth I am not simply going to dump them like a bad habit.

It is my view that there are several ways to put a cat down, and mine is preferable over all. I have seen people who simply drop cats, relying on their natural instinct to land on their feet to carry the day. I have seen people who feel that plonking them down onto all fours is preferable. I've even met people who think that it's unnatural and undesirable to even carry a cat, thereby relieving them the need to face the inevitable, if you'll excuse the expression, let down.

I think they're all full of poppycock and rubbish.

The simplest, easiest, and most pleasurable for all concerned method of lowering a cat to the ground is to pour them. It is a process that is performed just as it sounds--simply by holding the cat by the ribs gently, I let them hang from my hands about two feet off the ground, then let them very slowly slip out of my fingers. The result is a cat who quickly learns to trust the fact that I am not going to throw them down, so they reach their front legs out waiting for the floor to touch their pads, and their body flows out of my hands like water. Watching them pour out like so much soft wax, watching the flow and ripple of muscles in my thin-coated cats and the ruffle and blow of my thick-coated cat is, for me, one of the best rewards of cat pouring. And of course, the sensation is like running your hands down a fine fur coat, only the coat is running across your hands instead of the other way around.

And don't ask me why I wanted to write about this today--it's one of the subjects that survived a computer lock-up this morning at work. And for some reason I really REALLY wanted to write about cat juggling. So yup, blame the job and incipient insanity for it. I blogged most of this at 7:30 this morning before work on my workstation, and the blamed thing decided in mid-blog to simply seizure, so I had to wait another 13 hours before I could get back to it.

Ah, the life of a writer.

So go, pour your cats a few times. Enjoy the sensations. Learn how cool it is to have your cat trust you not to spill them like a bag of rice.

Oct 26, 2005

The Taste of Fall

There is a thing that embodies Fall as a child for me, and it's not candy corn, although candy corn runs a close second.
I can say with reasonable certainty that everyone who might read this blog was in grade school at some point, and furthermore, you likely had some sort of Fall Carnival or Field Day or some other outdoor activity, usually an all-day thing, where you could run, jump, scream, and in general just be a kid.  And of course being a kid, you could eat all sorts of things that were bad for you.  Hotdogs with lots of garnish, hamburgers, funnel cakes perhaps, and of course caramel corn, and you'd wash it all down with tons and tons of Coke with ice from little red and white wax-paper Coke cups.
For me there is one item that stands well clear of all the others that you and I enjoyed at Field Day, and that's a candy apple.  Long the staple food of the fairground, the exquisite red of a candy apple with it's pale popsicle stick held high and proud sums up, for me, the very essence of being a kid in the Fall.  You know the feeling--free from school for a day, the air pleasantly crisp, the sun high in the sky, Hallo'een coming, the promise of Thanksgiving break in your eyes and Christmas lurking on the horizon, and you've spent the day racing around in your shorts or blue jeans.  You'd be dirty, sweatily exuberant, kicking balls and knocking down stacks of cans and playing Tug-O-War, watching that ribbon move ever so slowly back and forth over the line.  And you'd eat, everything you possibly could, gorging yourself on popcorn balls and cotton candy and at some point, some magical moment, your eye would be caught and held fast by that tray of Red Delicious beauties.
Candy apples were the ultimate food, in my world-wise 10 year old mind.  Sweet, incredibly so, and crunchy, and crisp, and red, and easy to hold and of course exquisitely messy.  There was, and is, no neat or clean way to eat a candy apple.  You're simply at some point or the other going to touch it to your fingers, your face, or some other bit that ordinarily doesn't come in contact with food; that hard, sticky shell invariably finds it's way to some exposed flesh and leaves it's red candy mark there.
I cannot count the number of Field Days I've either attended as a child or endured as a parent, but I know there's been a few, and candy apples always seemed to be a part of them.  Walking around as a kid, with my gap-toothed grin for all to see, popsicle stick in hand, and lips and face and fingers covered in that impossibly sticky sugar candy coating, and just a flash of white showing where I, after impossible effort, breached the candy wall and reached the not-as-sweet but deliciously quenching apple underneath.
Remember that?  The worst bit, always, was trying to break that shell.  And if the baker had done it really well they would have dipped it two or three times so the layer was impossibly dense, and your teeth would simply skid off it's surface like your backside down a playground slide.  You either had to be psychotically in control and simply lick off enough of the candy to get your teeth some small purchase in it's face, or if you had a baker who really enjoyed layering on the candy there'd be a sort of flat base at the bottom where you could get your teeth into it and crack off some hunks, thereby cracking the brittle shell and allowing ingress.
Me, I was the kid who couldn't spend more than three or four licks on a Tootsie Pop before masticating my way determinedly to the center, so a candy apple was the penultimate challenge, even better than jawbreakers simply because there was the chance, no matter how remote, that your teeth could crack that shell.  And not even choosing one with an odd shaped apple would work, because that candy shell was invariably a perfect, seamless, glass-like coating, taunting your puny human teeth.
The Candy Apple Fairy must have felt my anguish for bygone days in the smoky crisp Fall air, because on my kitchen counter appeared a tray of a dozen scarlet temptresses, sticks at attention under their cling film protection.  Naturally I had to have a go at their lovely, glassine red selves.  They were smaller red apples than the giants I seem to recall from my childhood, but I knew that shape and scent, and that promise of joys held hidden.  I knew that feeling in my very bones.  They had been dipped pretty liberally, so that there was a good-sized flare at the bottom which I immediately attacked, knowing that to be the sometimes-weakness of candy apples, but to no avail.  The covering resisted every attempt at cracking, and I was reduced to, childlike again, gnawing mindlessly on it's surface.  A full set of orthodontically-straightened, wisdom-teeth-included adult teeth could no more make a dent than could my bygone set of teeth that could have shelled peas through a picket fence.
And finally, magically, one canine found purchase, and then another gripped, I heard a small crack and I was in, and Fall flooded back in a wash of brown leaves, distant sunlight, and apple peel.

Oct 24, 2005

The Road Worrier

I always admired Mad Max, in all three movies. He was always the Competent Man, eeking out an existence however he could in a post-apocalyptic, gas-starved world. I figure, give us another year and we'll all be in the same condition, roaming the deserts of Utah wearing leather butt-chaps and driving cars that look like they came out of a sanatarium's metalworking shop.

See, I took a marathon (for me) 4 1/2 hour road trip on the bike today. I say "marathon" since I am no Iron Butt rider, seeing as most of my bike trips these days last four miles one-way, to go to work.

When I was going through my divorce I spent a lot of time with a bachelor friend who lived away down south, and I would, each weekend it seemed, and every free day I had, drive my cruiser down there to spend time, relax, ride, do all that good stuff. It was just over 100 miles one way, all highway, some interstate, and went a long way to healing my scared soul, simply by giving me time to think and reflect.

Well, those days are long past, the cruiser is sold, and today's trip was the same distance I used to ride, only longer. See, the route down south was pretty much two-lane roads through national forest. The trip I had to make north today went through about seventeen jillion small towns, all of whose only source of income is speeding tickets, so you have these short stretches of beautiful open highway where the speed limit is 65, then one small sign warning you that the speed changes ahead, then suddenly it's 30. Literally. 30 mph. Not once but often. The fastest I saw through these towns was a few forward-thinkers who had generously raised the limit to 40. Woohoo!

Now, knowing that it was going to be cold this morning, I dressed as my decade of riding experience has taught me, vis:

And still, 30 or so miles outside of my destination, I was freezing to death. Too many miles at very slow speeds following very large trucks through construction zones and wayyyy too much shade was simply killing me. I gritted my teeth for so long against the cold that my jaw hurt. And the best part was that the temp was staying up around 37, except for two very long low spots.

Now, if you know Louisiana's topography, you know that ALL of Louisiana is a low spot. The highest point in the state is some sort of hallowed oasis mountain at a towering 500 or so feet. The rest is either, like New Orleans, below sea level or a few feet above it. Well, in the low spots there are, laughingly, more low spots. Two villages worth, and in these low spots the temperature hit and stayed at a remarkable 33 degrees. For a very long time.

Needless to say, when I got to the other office I was windburned, shivering, and ready to start hugging my bike's muffler for warmth. I would happily have sold my soul (if I had one) for a steaming mug of lava.

I passed the day as I needed to, which is to say "learning." The afternoon held for me, I well knew, a long trip home, but I was feeling alert and well, and full of vim and vigour having made the trip up so magnificently well, bearing up as I did under Everest-like conditions. No, really. Figure a 65 mph wind chill in temps of 33 degrees and see what you get. Here, I'll do most of it for you--at 30 degrees and a 60 mph wind it feels like it's 10 degrees outside. Nice.

So anyway, full of knowledge, I head home. And of course, the dread lure of Home made me go fast. Not so fast that I would lose control, but fast enough that I was over the speed limit and was passing cars, to stay out of their wind draft. It was still a chilly 57 heading home, you see. So me, about 35 miles away from home, crest a short hill leaving one small village and entering another, and what do my weary and bloodshot eyes see? Two police cars, pointing in opposite directions.

I didn't panic (I was too exhausted to panic) but I shut the throttle down and drove mildly until a white car pulled up behind me flashing not blues but headlights. Confused I pulled over and found myself face to face with the very polite and very large Chief of Police of a tiny town called Tullos. Right behind him drove up his conversation buddy, an elderly deputy sherrif of Tullos. Not only was I screwed but I was going to be dragged out into the bushes and never found again.

In Tullos.

A town I didn't even know existed until this trip.

So to shorten an already too long story, I was very polite to the gentlemen, the deputy and I chatted about bikes while the Chief of PoPo's wrote me a love letter, and they let me go, thank heavens for the both of them, with what The Chief called a "city ticket," which is to say that I give the city the fine for 61 mph in a 40 mph zone and they toss the ticket in the trash can. Seems I was polite, deferential, and he pulled up a clean traffic record on me, so I scored enough Brownie Points to be let off easy. It's still legalised bribery, but the citation stays off my record and the insurance company doesn't hear about it so my rates don't go up, and it's all forgotten on all sides.

I even shook their hands after it was all over. Kinda like giving the executioner a kiss for giving you the smooth rope.

But, did you catch that? It stays off my CLEAN record. Can you believe it? After a lifetime of ill-spent fast youth, my driving record is PRISTINE...nothing on it. NOTHING. The last time I had a clean driving record was before I could reach a gas pedal. It must have been my time for a ticket, tho. Last week a deputy hiding in the fog. This afternoon, a kindly ticket. I knew that almost dumping the bike in gravel this morning was a bad omen.

I should have stayed at home in my warm bed.

Oct 23, 2005

By The Pricking Of My Thumbs

Something brutally cold this way comes.

It's getting chilly. Seems Canada decided to wage war on us, and are doing so by forcing cold wind to flow southwards, trying to chill the warm hearts of all us Southerners. Me, I'm basking in it. Windows wide open, curtains back, letting the coolth flow thru. Granted, when the house gets down to around 68 degrees or thereabout I'm going to shut it all down, put an extra blanket on the bed and wait for bedtime, after making sure the heater is set for 65. Wheeee!

It's been a busy weekend down here in the holler. The family has really ramped up the old family cemetary's clean-up efforts, and the cousin who has put himself in charge of the project simply by light of him being a funeral director at the local House of The Dead, asked my brother and I if we could sort of clean the acre or so of rough scrub woods behind the cemetary and down the little hill that leads to an old roadbed. Seems the new owner of the property owns a bulldozer, and whatever we throw in the roadbed he will happily convert into a road for all of us.

So, the brother unit and I brought the chainsaw and the limb cutters and we spent a sweaty, mosquitoe-inflicted three hours on that hillside, cutting down trash trees, pulling up vines, and in general having way too much fun for working. And naturally we cleared about ten times the area that cousin Funeral Director managed by himself in a day. City boys...sheesh. *lol*

The cool thing about the day was that I very quickly got into that sort of mindless work state that good hard labour brings about. Minimal words, some hand gestures, a few well-placed "Oi!'s" loud enough to be heard over the chainsaw's eternal racket, and a handful of head-ringing slaps on the skull to remind a certain younger brother to avoid falling trees. It's nice, how, when the body is running full bore the mind can simply take a break, go someplace quiet, have a nice hot cup of Chai and simply not do anything while the body is at full speed, muscles heaving, sweat glands covering everything in dampness, arms and legs pistoning. What a wonderful feeling, to simply Be Working. Made me think of my father, who was a champion at simply working, quietly, with no mess and no great fuss. His birthday was the 22nd.

Around noon today the family and I made the trip out to the cemetary to his grave, a place I haven't visited since I was there for his funeral, years ago. I don't see the point of visiting gravesites much, as the person who you're visiting has more life in your heart and your thoughts than he or she has in the cool ground, but to each their own, and it means a great deal to my Mum, so we piled in. I was about ready to slay my Uncle J.; I'm not sure what made him want to go to the cemetary but follow us he did, driving sub-speed limit and swerving the whole way, annoying really since he was supposed to be following us.

The part that really got me was the non-stop yattering he was going on with at the cemetary. I may have little need to visit a gravesite, but if I do I know that there's a certain amount of decorum to maintain, and he seemed to have missed that memo. Just about ruined a nice trip for me. But, it's a pretty site, with shade trees and quiet for the most part, and we left behind a big bunch of yellow roses at his site, which were his favourite.

After the trip we leapt straightaway into Find Jeans For Weerelephant Day. We ended up in Wal-to-Wal Mart simply because I didn't want to go all over the Mall searching for overpriced stuff, and I was pretty sure that no matter how cool Tarjay is they wouldn't have the sort of clothing selection that WM would have, nor the ultra cheap prices for clothing that will be outgrown before it's outworn. Mission a success, three pairs of jeans that fit well, and I was scrambling for my life, dragging offspring in tow.

I had to make one side trip, and that was to Tarjay anyway, seeing as they have these ultra cool Forces of Valor 1/72nd scale metal WWII aircraft that I wanted to check out. Unfortunately the three different battleground Stukas were all sold out, still, as were all the Spitfires and the Battle of Brittain Hurricanes and actually everything except the dark painted Hurricanes and the Corsairs. Bleugh. What really bites the big one is that every online store that sells these aircraft sells them for $15 or more, when Tarjay sells them for $10 each, but of course has none, and doesn't sell them online. *grit*

Unfortunately after that it still wasn't over as I had no teabags at the house, and was going to die if I had to drink one more glass of orange KoolAid, so there was a fast pass through Super 1 to get that, and THEN home. *whew* Too much town for me.

I almost forgot--early this morning saw the completion of more of the fence betwixt the Redneck Mouthbreather Neighbors with their horrid little yapping, crapping HyTop brand terriers and my own pursuit of peace, quiet and non-dogness. Unfortunately, to put up a fence I had to spend two hours pruning and clearing back five exceedingly large azalea bushes, which my mother, about 35 years ago, saw fit to plant about a foot away from the property line. Now that they're adult-sized they reach about 5' out from the base in all directions, and I had to do a heck of a lot of pruning to be able to string fence up with any sort of surety. But done it is, all I have to do now is haul off a pile of clippings. Later. Right now I'm too worn out from town jaunting and delayed reaction to pushing aging muscles way too hard for way too long.

But, it's a good feeling, and I'm going to enjoy it for as long as I'm able.

Oct 21, 2005

Everything Is Chrome, In The Future!

Okay, so what's up with this channel called UAN? Urban America Network...wha?

I went home for lunch like I usually do, sat my butt down on the couch with my ham on wheat and big glass of tea, and flipped on the tele, which is something I NEVER do. Usually I sit at the table with my book of the moment in hand, or in the case of the past two or so weeks, sit and feed Fiona her milk and try to play her down until she's falling asleep so I can leave with her in her box and me not feeling bad when she screams because she's lonely.

Just not this time. This time, and I guess all the times from here forward, she's now old enough to be let out to play around, so while she gamboled and clawed her way around my toes I sat back on the couch, took a deep breath, and flipped on the tele, and on a completely out-of-character mood, I turned off the sattelite and did a fast scan through the local cable stations.

I had to stop on something called UAPN or something like that..."Urban America something Network," something to that effect. See, they had a black and white movie on.

A science fiction movie.

From the 50's.

You know what that means:

  • Pointy chrome space ships with fins
  • Control rooms full of dials and flip switches
  • Excitingly clunky chairs
  • Huge exposed steel girders on every surface
  • Very peculiar costumes
  • Very peculiar makeup implying "aliens"
  • Some kind of space dictator
  • Full-figured 50's women in skimpy tunics/robes/habits

I never caught the name, but gathering from the lantern-jawed Air-Force style hero and the black and silver uniforms his crew wore and the lawn-dart space rocket I'd have to say it was "Rocky Jones And The Space Rangers" or something to that effect. Sounds about right. And it was WONDERFUL!

Rogue planets. Questionable science. Space ships suspended by thin wires racing across the black empty spaces of the Universe made from a black sheet with pinholes poked in it. Speeds that boggle the imagination. Huge guys being aliens simply by standing in an almost empty room wearing huge finned boots and tunics with lightning bolts across their chests. Palace Guards armed with blinking silver ray guns menacing Rocky and his young sidekick Winky, while Our Hero shields the beautiful but sensible Heroine with his body.

My stars and garters, that's the kind of movie you can sink your teeth into. Cliffhangers. Bug Eyed Monsters. Ravishing alien women, and a horrific alien dictator lording over his cowering court. It doesn't get any better, back when budgets were miniscule, sets were minimal, and handsome men and beautiful women were a dime a dozen. Throw in one mediocre costume, a few prop ray guns, some sand and an exposed girder or two and you've got the makings for a movie that will Make You Tremble In Your Seat! Be Dazzled By Epic Space Battles! Thrill As Monster Stalk The Silver Screen!

I didn't live through them, but darn it Winky, I sure miss the good old days.

Oct 20, 2005

Ding Dong

The Witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead!
*running a naked victory lap around the office parking lot*

Cogito, Ergo Est

I think, therefore you am.

I was laughing at the public radio DJ this morning (do they have DJ's or are they called 'announcers?') when he said something about a 'think tank.' I called across to Vulgar Wizard that I needed to be in a think tank, because that sounded like fun, at least until your skin gets all wrinkly, and I started wondering to myself if someone could pee in a think tank, and if so would that somehow pollute everyone else's mind. VW told me that I was a think tank all by myself, because all I do is think.

You know, she's right. I often feel like my mind is a dog in a room full of huge, tough bones. The dog, overjoyed, runs from bone to bone, gnawing and gnashing for all he's worth, here some, then there some, and then to another for a while, but never really getting through any of them. And that's fine, because I like Life to have a few mysteries. Or a lot.

I was thinking this morning about a lot of things, but one of the bones that my hound dog seized on was the argument of Predestination vs Free Will. Are we truly creatures of free will, able to do exactly what and whither we will, unfettered by Fate, or are we all predestined, our paths laid out before us, and we're just automata on tracks, headed to whatever we're destined to face? And if so, can we hop tracks?

I've always been more of a free will sort, but there are times when I think (and yes, hope) that Fate has something in store for me, that somehow the obstacles will be cleared and in the end it'll all work out and I'll live happily ever after to a ripe old age and etc etc. It's hard to imagine that we're all just running on tracks, that everything we do or say has been scripted, or even to believe in a free-form version, where even though we can do and say what we will, we still have a certain place and a certain time that we will be, irregardless of our 'decisions.' You know what I mean; the scene in the war movie where the old grizzled sergeant is squatting in a foxhole telling a handful of privates that there's a bullet out there with your name on it, and when your number is called it'll find you, and then a German hand grenade falls in the foxhole and some brave extra falls on it and saves his buddies who are all stars and they go on to win various awards for their Outstanding Male Roles In A Stereotypical Drama.

I dodged a ticket the other morning. I was speeding just a little bit, and a Sheriff's deputy was hiding in the fog in his white car and I didn't notice him until it was too late. I sweet-talked my way out of the ticket, but I had to wonder one thing: if I had taken a different route that morning, would the cop have been hiding on the alternate route and I would have still had to talk my way out of a 50-in-a-25-zone, or would he have been sitting back there at the other road, hiding in the fog catching other people, and my last-second decision to take an alternate route had changed everything?

And what about this butterfly I stepped on while hunting dinosaurs thirty million years in the past?

Oct 19, 2005

Sometimes, Slower Is Better

If you've read more than three or so posts here, you know I like The Way Things Were.  And I'm not one of those freaks who thinks that EVERYTHING was better back when you had to root and grub in the earth for your very sustenance and die an old man at 40, but there were certain things that I think we would have been better off bringing into the new century with us.
And if not with us, then perhaps it'd do some of us good to remember what it was like, if we're able to, or if not remember it then be allowed to witness it somehow, experience it so we can appreciate what we have.
What the hell was all this brought on by, you ask?  I'll tell you.  Bush hogging.  See, the landlords who own the building, the land, and the horrid cracked-concrete parking lot don't seem to be too moved by the necessity to mow the grass.  And it being mostly a field out here, there's tons of what's called Johnson Grass, which is a 7' tall weed, and grows like, well, a weed.  And me being a basically neat and OCD sort of guy, I decided to bring the ancient tractor and the bush hog up here Sunday and treat the company to a free trim.
So, the decision came down to this: borrow the brother's truck with trailer hitch and his trailer, load the tractor up, secure the back gate with chains because the rig is too long to fit entirely on the tractor, then drive verrrry slowly up to work, unload, cut the grass, then REload the tractor, REsecure the gate with chains, drive BACK home slowly, then REunload the whole thing.  End result?  Cut grass, and three hours of sweating and chains.  Or, I could simply drive the damned thing up here, trim the verge, then drive it home again.
Decision simple.  Implementation?  A little different than I assumed.
And that's where we tie in.  Speed.  When I drive the four miles to work in the morning and in the evenings, it takes me, literally, four minutes to go from Point A to Point B, or vice versa.  In my truck, add a few minutes.  Still, quite quick.  Now, try it on a tractor whose roadworthiness is good but whose road speed in high gear and full throttle is that of a quick jogging person, and that four mile trip turns into a journey of almost half an hour's duration.
In that time, both going and coming, I had ample time to think.  It's what time spent on the tractor is good for.  I looked at the ditches, the fields, the road, and in general really enjoyed seeing so much that I don't ordinarily see while traveling at 75 mph.  And I got waved at a lot.  Apparently a guy on a tractor on the road is such a common sight that people feel quite comfortable waving at strangers on International Harvester Super A's.
So of course, my mind went thataway, and you can figure the rest.  I spent the day thinking about what it must have been like when the fastest you travelled was at a horse's walk, or trot if you were going a short distance.  The airline flight that takes five hours to get from here to Eugene, Oregon and three days by car would have been, I'm sure, a journey of weeks and weeks.
So, in short, appreciate what you have.  And if you have the chance, try doing something the old fashioned way.  It might surprise you.

Oct 18, 2005

Monday Mustang Madness!

Yeah, some of the more adroit and/or awake of you will notice that I am posting Monday Mustang Madness on a Tuesday evening, and most of you will take that one step further and not even get to read it until Wednesday.

My apologies.

Short form? New kitten in the house, needs to be fed KMR kitten milk every 4 hours or so with a syringe converted into a teat (no needle, with a rubber nipple on the end) and by the time I've got time to blog I've either got to be at work or in bed so I can get up early enough to feed the kitten or go to work.

*Note to anyone wanting or needing to bottle feed a newborn or very new kitten(s)--do NOT get the orange Wal-Mart stuff, it has ZERO food substance and will kill your newborns before your very eyes. Use KMR ONLY, and chances are very good your newborn will live. End of lecture.

BTW, her name is Fiona, and she's beautiful.

Okay. On to Manic Mustang Monday Madness, Mac!

My brother is a Ford Mustang fan. And I don't mean the new ones, either. I mean the 1964 1/2s up to no later than the 1970 models or thereabouts. He's got a few right now, some running, some not. Currently, just to bring you up to speed, he's got a '65 coupe that's completely restored, another '65 coupe in pieces in his garage awaiting restoration, yet another '65 at a local body shop being put back together again, and two '66s that are nothing more than frames and some body bits out back, for scrap. All V-8 cars, no wimpy 6 cylinders out there.

He's about to buy another one. But this time he's gone insane.

See, usually he gets them for about a hundred bucks for three or four, and of those one is a good enough car to restore, the rest being donor vehicles. And he spends quite a few thousand dollars and a lot of years on them, until they're as near perfect as they can be. And then he drives them once in a while.

He called me the afternoon I went home sick, telling me that I HAD to go back to his house. He had another Mustang back there, you see. Only this one was different: it wasn't bought yet, and it was completely restored. None of this "Hey, can you come help me winch this wheel-less wreck onto the trailer, strap all the loose bits into the passenger side and haul it home?" This was a "Hey, I've got a car I'm looking at."

See, he's a car guy. Utterly. He goes to car dealerships just to haggle salesmen down to their rock-bottom price, then leaves, sans car. He knows the location of every pre 1971 Mustang in a ten parish area. And he found a beauty.

In short: a 1965 289 V8 2+2 Fastback. Rather rare, this one has factory power brakes, automatic, the legendary 289 V8, and was built as a factory 4 barrel carberator model. Even has the original Ford steel Rallye rims. Very rare, very desirable. And very restored to 99% original. Except for the headers and the multi-plane intake. And it's a 2+2. Means? It's got this cool jointed metal back that folds the back seat down over itself and into a huge storage area under that square Fastback rear window, making it a two-seater with a huge cargo area. Reverse for the four-seater model.


Selling price? A cool $15K. Why? Because there's a Ford-backed company in Texas who is buying up old Fastbacks as quick as they can, to convert into FT-350Rs (the R is for Replica) and the later models into Eleanor replicas. See "Gone In 60 Seconds" for the update there. So, there is an astounding and ongoing shortage of Fastback Mustangs. Get yours now, the predators are buying them by the truckfulls, and I don't need to tell you that there will be no more made. I hate those guys for what they're doing, but business is business, right?

So anyway--turbo mufflers, big V8, huge carb, she sounds beautiful. With a deep blue exterior and a Ford "Parchment White" interior it's utterly delicious. And it's almost his. Seems he figures now that it's easier to simply spend the money on a fully restored model and have it than to spend the years and years and the money on restoring one himself.

Seems strange to me, but I've always liked doing things the hard way, I guess.

And I hereby promise that I'll blog more, and visit my friends more, and email them more, as soon as Fiona gets onto solid food good. Promise. And my brother promises to work on restoring MY '65 V-8 coupe.

Oct 16, 2005


It's German for "folks car," and the line was created by none other than Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. Yes, Dr. Porsche, he of the 'go fast' cars with the cool names. Ever notice the resemblance between the Sypder that James Dean wrecked and a Karman Ghia? There you go.

Anyway. Volkswagon was also the name of the very old, very thin black gentleman who, when I was a boy, was Head of the Baggers at the local Military Commisary on the air base. I know, bear with me.

We were a military family. My father mustered out when I was about 2, from a stomach ulcer. We moved here to be near the family and the base's medical facilities, and stayed. Plus, there was everything at the base we could possibly need, and being military we were allowed unlimited use of the facilities. Which we did. Including the commisary, which stocked everything a regular grocery store did, but was cheaper. And since this was way back in the dim mists of antiquity, when I was a weerelephant, they still had baggers.

You see, this was the time when the minimum wage was about $2, and working for tips only was actually a fairly nice job to have. Volkswagon was too old to do anything but be a foreman of sorts, and he was likely an ex-military man himself, so it was logical for him to have the job of watching over about a score of 15-18 year old bag boys. And the job of bag boy was nothing to sneer at, either. You stayed plenty busy, and if you were neat and fast you'd earn yourself a potentially healthy tip for every seven minutes of work: three minutes bagging, two minutes hauling a cart full of bags out to a car, two unloading them into the trunk, then back inside for seven more minutes on the line. On a busy day you could feasibly make quite a large wage on an hour's worth of one dollar tips. Plus, it was plainly stated everywhere at the checkout lines that the baggers worked for tips only, and enlisted familes particularly were always good with the tips.

So, I wanted to be a bag boy when I got old enough to reach the canned corn on the top shelf of the Vegetable aisle. And I applied; I talked politely to Mr. Volkswagon, showed him my Husky physique, and got my name on The List. See, since was no Federal job. It wasn't even a job proper, not involving any sort of taxed civillian payroll at all; it's openings were filled in a first-come-first-served order, and you were paid whatever cash you could earn, after paying a small percentage to Volkswagon. To be allowed in you had to wait for another boy to get a 'real' job or go back to school or *gasp* get asked to leave the hallowed position of Bagger before you got your shot, and there was a whole military base full of eager young boys on that list in front of you.

So, I never got the job.

But, I have always prided myself on being a hell of a bagger. When out shopping I stand in the checkout line mentally preparing myself for the task ahead. I strategically stack the items out of the cart and onto the conveyor in order of type, size and style so that when it comes time to bag I'll have that advantage: cold things with frozen, bread and eggs and chips in with all the other delicate items, gallon of milk in with the butter, that sort of thing.

And when the time comes to bag, I'm there, waiting impatiently for the checker to start sending items down, my knee jammed into the "conveyor belt advance" button, bag gaping open and ready for the first items. On a usual shopping trip I can have the bags loaded and in the cart before the wife is done getting her receipt. So why is it that people insist on being stupid?

Why do people park their cart cross-ways, so as to block both halves of the checkout, whe it's obviously designed to hold two carts side by side, to ease speed of loading?

Why do these mouth-breathers leave their cart in the walkway leading to the end of the belt and load from the walkway, while I stand behind them muttering curses, ready to slam my own cart into theirs so that they'll get the hint and get the hell out of my way, while watching with pained eyes while my own purchases pile up haphazardly.

Why do these cow-eyed cashiers insist on leaving their conveyor advance on when no one is down at the end loading, or worse, when I AM there, at which time it's more than obvious that I have a master's control over the speed of food item delivery, and have the timing of a genius?

Ah, but it's all made worthwhile on the days that I can stand there triumphant, buggy filled with two hundred dollars worth of neatly stacked, impeccably bagged groceries while the cashier is still rooting for a pen in her smock.

Victory is sweeter than a can of Carnation Condensed Milk.

Oct 15, 2005

Irrelephant Must Be Crazy

I'm sitting here watching Return of The Living Dead 5: Rave To The Grave. It's a Sci-Fi Channel orginal movie.

What am I, stupid?

Oct 14, 2005

"My Mistress' Eyes..."

Anyone remember the old Sting album "Nothing Like The Sun?" Remember your Shakespeare? More on this later.

Years and years ago, I was walking in the French Quarter with my wife and a guy who was at the time a very good friend. You won't get any back story on that one, it's not important. We were way at the river end of Canal Street, late at night, watching the cars flow back and forth, listening to the music drifting out of the Quarter. It was one of those quiet moments in a night full of activity, and I was smoking a big fine cigar, enjoying the cool of the night after the pounding humidity of the day.

While we stood around a park bench watching the street, an old black man living on the street approached me and, proffering a cigarette, asked me for a light. My Southern Gentleman reacted without me even having to think about it; I dug in my pocket, hauled out my lighter, and lit the smoke for him while he held it tremblingly in his lips.

He drew the first puff in, let it out, and in that surprisingly powerful voice that old skinny black men all seem to have hidden in them, he belted out a line that Shakespeare would have been at home penning: "Truly you shall be called the friend to animals, and a defender of the weak." I smiled at him and said "Bless you for that" and he returned to his friend and his cardboard house across the intersection. I haven't been Christian in a very long time, but if you recall your Sting, his response to drunks and crazy people is to deliver Shakespeare lines to them in a strong voice. Mine is to say something vaguely religious, and since that seems to be a universal thing amongst the less well off, it seems to work.

Remember earlier? The title of this post is mentioned in Sting's album "Nothing Like The Sun," in the liner notes, where he mentions his tactic with drunks and where he mentions the line "My mistress eyes/are nothing like the sun," from, I believe, Twelth Night. I could be wrong.


My wife smiled at me, and my National Guard bud made some jokes at my expense, but it really touched me. I know it's foolish, but I still think about it. It's true, you see. I think of myself that way. I rescue kittens from walls and carry crickets and spiders out of the office and into the front parking lot. I carry preying mantises out of the gravel and put them in the field. I'm bad about that. Or good, depending on your point of view.

This morning, arriving at work, I carefully removed a beautiful green and tan speckled tree frog from his perch on our front door and carried him all the way across the front porch and out into the tall grass that rings our building. The worst part of it is that I talked to him or her the entire time.

I just can't help it. My father was a gentle man, and loved animals of all sort and kind, and he took a great pleasure in teaching my brother and I about the thousands and thousands of other species that share our small slice of space. I have always enjoyed wildlife, in all it's permutations.

The funniest part of the old man's pronouncement is that the next day at an aviary at, I think, the zoo, a mockingbird flew down from the rafters and right at my bud. He screamed, if you'll excuse the expression, like a little girl and began retreating down the steps squealing. The bird, confused, flapped up and right over to me, landing on my Kangol cap. I knew he was coming, so I simply held still and let him decide where he wanted to be, which was on my head. People began instantly to point, smile, and take pictures. I grinned and reached up gently to offer him a finger to perch on, because I really didn't want bird poo on my fairly new hat. I felt him hop onto the proffered perch and I carried him down to eye level. He calmly regarded me while I returned the gaze, and we spent the next five or so minutes calmly chatting.

Okay, so I talked and he listened and chirped occasionally, but you get the picture.

The bird finally got tired of all the fraternising and flew back to his tree branches, but the finest part of the moment was not the looks and smiles from the other patrons of the aviary, or the knowing smile on my wife's face. It was the look on my buddy's face, the one that was compounded of part confusion, part jealousy, part surprise and a good dollop of disbelief. Me, I just took it in stride. He grinned a confused grin and said "You really ARE friend to the animals. I guess we need to find someone weak for you to defend."

I thought I already had.

Oct 13, 2005

It Ain't Easy

Well, it ain't easy being cheesy either, but what I was getting at was that it ain't easy being a Daddy Cat.

Biological parent I am. Surrogate parent I am. Foster parent I have been, with a lot of help, to four little orange tabby refugees from Hurricaine Katrina. I'm told I've even been sort of a Father Confessor. But never have I been a Daddy Cat, until just a few days ago.

You recall the kitten-down-the-wall episode, and if you don't I'm certain you can scroll down just a post or two and get that drift. Well, wee bit, being of the 3-4 week old variety, is still on mother's milk rather than solid food, and still requires stimulation to urinate and defecate. And to whom do these duties fall? Well, both of us, actually, but to me for a fair share this time, which is the difference.

See, back when Egan was still 'Baby Evil,' the wife was the only one who dealt with the two-day old E Kitty Larvae. I was, quite frankly, afraid of hurting it. Tiny is not a small enough word for Baby E. Add the piteous cries, the struggling, flailing limbs, and the utter helplessness of that tiny, pale white cat made me feel that any assistance I attempted to render would be doomed to failure, and if I failed this tee-tiny little thing it would be catastrophic, no pun intended.

Now keep in mind that I've had my stint as a human father, too. I can recall many long nights holding my baby daughter, rocking her back to sleep after a bottle and a ponderous belch, and I recall all too well the feeling that she was so very small she'd be easily damaged. Fortunately I was wrong, and I eventually got over those feelings. Now that she's eleven, I felt I was pretty much past all that hair-pulling and yelling. Well, I was wrong.

I've got them again, you see, over this kitten. And I am getting over them, again, with this kitten. Luckily for me she's beyond the infant stage and can do for herself to some extent, but there's still a lot she can't manage, and while she is already old enough to sleep through the night she still requires feeding every few hours during the day, along with an extended (usually an hour) play period. So, I find myself missing breakfast and morning blogging and mylunch hour because I'm to be found painfully crosslegged in the den, syringing upwards of 20cc's of KMR kitten formula down a seemingly bottomless gullet, and trying to fill the paws of a Daddy Cat to a wee kitten. I do my best to tickle and play with her gently, letting her attack my fingers and such, and I try to be gentle with her when I have to flip her on her back to rub her bits with a paper towel to make her void her tiny, yet full bladder. And like fatherhood, it's starting to grow on me, and even offers some touching rewards, like welcoming purrs and nuzzles. Yesterday I found myself overjoyed at the sight of a tiny bottom producing an English pea-sized stool--our first potty together.

Boy do I need to get a life.

Oct 12, 2005

NPR Approved Filthy

Has anyone else noticed that NPR is broadcasting pure and utter filth, cleverly disgusied as an informative space/science show?

Attend me: There is a one minute filler show that plays mornings on my local NPR station, called, oddly enough, "Stardate." Sounds rather like they're setting these eagerly-listening geeks for some sort of Star Trek vegetable woman green-skinned lady dancing or something. It's filthy, pure and utter pornography for the geeks and scientifically-oriented listening audience, and it's being broadcast out in the open by the filth-mongers at your local public radio station. It was by purest chance that I realised that fact this morning, while listening to an episode on black holes.

It's bad enough that the show is hosted by a sultry-voiced lady. And she's not just sultry-voiced in that 'come hither' bedroom sort of way; it's more the voice of a twenty-something nymphomaniac librarian in a tight black skirt, horn-rimmed glasses and a severe hair bun who you just KNOW is ready to leap across the Reference Desk and give you such a filing as you'd never forget. To make matters worse, her name is "Sandy Wood." I don't know about you, but to me that nom de plume sounds suspiciously like the stage name of a 70's blue-movie star, like Marilyn Chambers or Christy Canyon. Not quite the glaringly obvious, but enough. I'll say no more.

And honestly, could they be at least a little circumspect with their broadcast material? How much more obviously smutty could you be than to use the term "black holes" where young persons can hear it? I mean honestly, they're always on about things being sucked into black holes, and the birth of planets, matter being exploded all about, binary stars, you name it and they've broadcast about it, and I tell you it's all purest smut, cleverly disguised.

Only not clever enough. I've broken through their wall of secrecy, and plumbed the depths of their depravity.

For those of you with a taste for the obscene, Stardate can be found on the web at http://www.laspace.lsu.edu

Oct 10, 2005

Panic, And How To Succumb To It

As some of you may have realised from my previous pecker post, none of us in the family got any sleep last night, due to the kittens in the attic, and mostly because of one specific one.

I knew Mamie had her kittens in the attic.

I knew Mamie had moved them to a very inaccessable place (like there's ANY accessible place in my attic) when Rita struck.

I knew that I would have to get up there and get them down before they were utterly feral, but I had no idea how to do so. This method was not really considered at any point, but it worked for at least one of her 3 week olds.

For an entire day and a very long night, we kept hearing a kitten crying. We kept placing it somewhere around the air return grate and the a/c unit, but sound travels strangely in an attic, and as the night went on I kept thinking I heard it in different places, so we spent a relatively sleepness night listening to a kitten cry, hoping that Mamie would come back from hunting or wherever she was and fetch it out.

This morning, the kitten was still crying, and it was obviously coming from around the a/c unit. I told the wife that when I opened the access door the crying got a lot louder, so we tried to move the immobile a/c unit a little bit. The noise alerted the little one that rescue was imminent, and we both saw a tiny calico paw reaching desperately around the small opening between unit and door frame, and a little panicked kitten face.

Driven by the need to get this tiny creature out of the wall and into safety, I climbed back up through the closet, up to the attic access hole, tearing skin off my arm and my foot trying to struggle through that damned tiny hole, trying to wedge my bulk up to where I could grab onto a roof joist. I worked my large self around the ductwork and wires and plumbing, and had to keep moving Mamie aside, because she was very insistent on being near me. Natural mother instinct, around kittens. I kept waiting to have my face torn off. I saw two of her tabby children further away, out of my reach, but ignored them, as it was obvious they were not meowing. Shining the flashlight around, I finally saw, about four feet below me, between the wall and the a/c return unit one small, angry, desperate calico body.

Climbing back to the access hole as fast as I dared I made a faux pas in the original sense of the word and put a foot through the ceiling in the closet, pouring 30 year old rock wool insulation onto the bed linens and winter blankets stored there. Feeling like an idiot, I ran and got a hammer

from the kitchen junk drawer, and started Operation Kitten Rescue, vis:

Realising very quickly that I could not get to the kitten from there because of the way the wall joists were arranged, I decided that the only path in was going to be through the wall in my daughter's room, formerly my room some 15 years past. I was right.

Keep in mind that those holes are large enough for my elbow and bicep to pass through and bend, so each is about 9" across. Roughly. Very roughly.

And no, it wasn't lavender when it was my room. It was, point of fact, sort of a light puke green.

And yes, four holes were necessary--the left bottom and upper ones were too far away and ill-advised because of a wall stud in the way, and the kitten was closer to the front than I realised. The upper right was the correct location and is where I effected the rescue; I hammered the fourth one because I kept thinking I heard another little kitten voice in there, but it was in fact the two still in the attic, both of whom were being carefully carried by Mamie deeper into the reaches of the roof, and well out of the way of my reach.

That, and I was so adrenaline crazed by that point that I had forgotten the section of wall there leads directly into the open space behind the air return grate. Silly me, I could have simply opened the grate, moved the filter, and looked inside.

As of this writing, the rescuee is being fed to her heart's content with warm KMR Newborn Kitten Formula and has a heating blanket, a snug little pet carrier with blankets to feel safe in, and loving foster parents as we speak.

Anyway how, I ask you, could anyone say 'no' to that face?

Can anyone say "DIY Weekend Wall Repair?"

post script:

Honeywell, working name only, just finished off 13cc's of supper. Things are looking good.

Wanna See My Pecker?

Yesterday I got a wild idea in my big head--why don't I put pictures of my pecker on the internet? And then I thought, why not put pictures of my pecker on my BLOG?! That would be cool, and everyone around the world could have the chance to see it out and about.

Now, I'm not sure if it's a Red Cap or a Black Cap or some other sort, but here's my pecker, hard at work. It had quite a day Sunday afternoon; it seemed the work would never end. No matter how much it pecked it simply could not get done.

And here's another picture of it. In this picture, it almost looks like it's looking right at you! It's quite a tenacious pecker, and stayed there throughout all sorts of disturbances and noises, and almost never lost it's tempo.

And here's a picture of it deep in it's natural environment. I had to turn the camera sideways to get it in the picture properly.

post script:

It is at this point in the blog that I want to apologise, sincerely and wholeheartedly, to the entire world, for being offensive in so many different ways. Childish humour can be fine in it's place, but this was not the time nor the place for that sort of foolishness.

I especially apologise to anyone who knows me personally, because I'm not usually like this, and I blame being extraordinarily tired for my shameless lack of good grace and taste.

Hope everyone enjoyed seeing my pecker.

There's Always Tomorrow

Okay, this is how it hangs--

My best bud, Verticlese*, at Orifice Depot is still stuck there, long after I got out. He's gamely struggling on, but here of late the little punk has gotten lucky--he got a computer, monitor, digital camera, and about a dozen other high-tech items on clearance, items which a certain Fat Fucker who shall remain nameless had hidden for his own nefarious purposes.

So, my very short, very bald bud has been emailing me. Angry, little man emails. See, he thinks he's funny that way. So me, being the loving, considerate, thoughtful friend that I am, I'm going to post his email address here, for everyone's viewing (and spamming) pleasure.


Everyone needs to copy and paste this email address into their email client and email this boy, and tell him that his very handsome ex-coworker posted his email address on the internet just like he threatened to do. Tell him this a lot.

And while you're at it, ask him for an autographed 8 x 10 of him in his Alice In Wonderland costume. Hot Tamales!

Remember: Hell hath no practical joking ability like an Irrelephant who is wound up.
*Verticlese, pronounced like "Hercules" only with "verti" from "vertical" replacing the first syllable. See, Verticlese is from "Who put the 'man' in 'Receiving Manager,' VERT-I-CLESE!" which is what I used to sing at him at OD. He's a little height-challenged, you see. Vertical. Clese. Verticlese. *wink wink nudge nudge*

Oct 9, 2005

Important Day Of National Rememberance

Heppy Leeeff Ireeksun Dey! Tudey is-a zee dayuh oobserfed by maany peuple-a es Leeeff Ireeksun Dey, hunureeng zee Norrrveeegun hexploorur Leeeff Ireeksun, whoo lunded in Nurt Emereeca, sume-a beleeefe-a, in Noo Inglund oon theesa dayuh in zee yeer one tousand. Su, be-a soore-a tu veer yuoor best foor underveerah und shiihne-a yuoor hoorns, becoose-a tudey is YOOoR dey, yuoo seelly geets!

Oct 8, 2005

It's About Time

There have been hundreds, perhaps thousands of jokes, puns, and plays on words concerning Time. Some of them have even been funny. That was not one of them.

I'm often on about Time, has anyone noticed? It's not an obsession, not a sickness, but more of an everpresent gnat in the ear, a sort of mildly bothering thing, something you don't always notice but when you do you really do. It's been in my ear here of late, so let me give you, in return, an earfull.

Or an eyefull. You get the picture.

The turning of the season (finally) down here from scorching hot to something approaching winter (it's a balmy 55 degrees this morning) and my daughter's incipient 11th birthday has made me think about time, and moving forward, and all that stuff. My own 38th birthday just passed, and time marches on. And I know a great many people have written on this very subject, and I'm not expecting to make some sort of massive discovery, some earth-shattering find that clicks the final piece of the puzzle into place. No, I'm just rehashing it all, trying to find something in it that might fill the void I feel when I think about Time.

Why is our time sense so elastic? Why does time fly sometimes, and other times it drags? Why is the experience of pleasure so short-lived, and why is the sense of boredom so everlasting? Why does our temporal lobe play such tricks with us? The past two weekends for me have been three-day ones, and they still seem to be gone in an eyeblink when looking back on them, and yet I know that last weekend was much like this one--spending mornings in sort of a vague, unfocused sort of way, not doing anything much of anything, almost like a bear who is about ready to hibernate. I know that there are things needing to be done, errands to run, a house to clean, various little things I could be doing to get the house ready for the mild (to you perhaps) winter that we get here, but it all seems to be somehow become less important than the Superbike race on the television, or less demanding than the book that I just picked up.

And then, Sunday afternoon, I look around and curse myself because the entire weekend is gone, including the extra day I had, and nothing seems to have been accomplished. At all. Nil. And I gripe at myself, and rail at myself, and all week at work I promise myself that Next Weekend Things Will Be Different, and they aren't. I do the same thing over again. I seem to have fallen into a rut of my own making, and not a particularly pleasant one at all. Seems high time to suck it up and get out, so without further ado, I shall go fold the laundry that's stealthily piling up on my den couch.

Please give generously to the Save Irrelephant From Perpetual Laziness Fund. Every penny goes a long way to getting him up off his large grey arse.

Oct 6, 2005

Some Days You're The Bug,

And some days you're the windshield.

It's been one of those fast-forward weeks. I sit here in absolute surprise and alarm that it's already Thursday. I don't know where the week has gone--I have flicker-flash images of things done, days spent at work, days spent doing this or that, but I cannot believe, even stringing them all together, that it's already Thursday, the end of the week for me, thanks to the boss' fuel-saving four day work week, and thank heavens for that.

Speaking of disbelief, I'm still surprised that "Lost" has sucked me in so fiercely. My mum-in-law mentioned it yesterday; shock that Irrelephant, he who just about loathes all things coming from the Square Headed Girlfriend could be so intrigued and attached to a *gasp choke* television show. It's true. I hang my head in shame. *lol* I guess it's the mystery, the joy of solving little puzzles only to be handed bigger ones, and the slow unfolding of the back stories that draws me in. I can't help it, I'm hooked.

And I knew I saw a hexagram on that shark's tail. I knew it. I knew it so well that last night I thought I was going crazy and hallucinating things.

So much to do, so little time. That's the tone this week has taken. I don't think it's so much the loss of one day, it's just the way work gets occasionally, and it's time to buck up and finish, so I can come in bright and early Monday morning to face...an in-box full of stuff again. Which is a good thing. I'd far rather be busy than have nothing to do.

The cold is coming, the cold is coming. Finally. There's a cold front pushing down from the Northwest, and boy am I thankful for it. The highs tomorrow are supposed to be around 70, the lows in the evening a delicious 50 something. Ooooh my heavens I am so ready. Ready to break out the riding pants, which can be worn without risking dehydration from sweat. Ready for long-sleeved shirts. Ready for the crisp smell of the air in the morning. Ready, even, for days so cold that working outside makes your cheeks feel all crinkly. I'm even ready to deal with the aching joints and the stiff fingers. It's all good.

I know this entry is a little scattershot...okay, a LOT scattershot, but again, that's how the week has gone for me. Seems I look up and days have past without me noticing. I think one of the big factors was simply being BUSY, busier than usual. I don't have time to pick my head up from work and home chores long enough to realise that hours have passed, and simply immerse myself in the tasks at hand until I hear the Bird Clock in RMB's office hoot 5pm, and then it's home for a few hours of family and then sleep. It's a good feeling, being busy.

I wonder if Zen is like that--the living in the moment aspect of it. Staying busy by living each second, and the weeks sliding by like water under a bridge. Time travel via mental discipline. Who would have thunk it?

Oct 5, 2005

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That

Who's afraid of the big, black bat?

Sorry, I'm a big Dark Knight fan.

For those of you who have not read or guessed at the riddle yet, skip this entry and read the one just below, then you can look back up here.

VW sat in the office today and laughed at me and the riddle while she put her answers down, and Jennifer says she got it, but she didn't phrase her answer in the form of a question, so no prize money there.

The answer is:

I give you a group of three.
One is sitting down, and will never get up. A stove.
The second eats as much as is given to him, yet is always hungry. Fire.
The third goes away and never returns. And smoke, making the group of three items.

And a big "Well done!" to Old Grey Mare for getting Jennifer's riddle. I was sitting here pounding my brain over it, then glanced down at her answer and had it. I guess I'm gonna have to get all dirty and wild and see if I can find/come up with some others for you guys to gnaw upon.

Oct 4, 2005

Appropos Of Nothing

And in the best Bilbo Baggins tradition, here's a riddle--

I give you a group of three.
One is sitting down, and will never get up.
The second eats as much as is given to him, yet is always hungry.
The third goes away and never returns.


Playing With Fire, Redux

So what is it with us bloggers, anyway? We're a nation of bloggers, writing about everything from politics to religion to our jobs to our families to our sexual activities or lack thereof. And most of us carry on like we think this little collection of phosphor dots is private, when in fact it's entirely the opposite.

What makes us do what we do?

I know, it's a rhetorical question. I ought to ask an easy one, like "What's the average size of men's left feet in Bismark, North Dakota." At least that one could be quantified, eventually.

*flash to Monty Python sketch*
(John Cleese talking on telephone) "Yes... yes... yes... yes... yes... hold on" (taking shoe off and peering inside) "9 1/2."

There's as many answers to the question "What makes us do what we do?" as there are bloggers, and more every day, because this phenomenon is growing like wildfire. CNN, NPR, all the large news reporting organisations speak with their reporters, their correspondants, their sources, and bloggers. Bloggers get media time like nobody's business, taking their 15 minutes of fame plus some. The voice of the people suddenly has an outlet.

The thing being, lots of us use this outlet to be an outlet. We gripe, we holler, we piss and moan. And we bash our coworkers, our spouses, our bosses, the bus driver, whoever happens to get in our way, with the bravery of being out of range.

Or so we think.

I only read/check on about six or seven blogs a day. A record for the most part, I hear. But six or seven is what I've found that interests me, well-written blogs, blogs of interest, what have you. And of that very small group, one of them was outed yesterday. She, like me and many others, was fond of blowing off steam about her jog, hers oriented around her mainly male-dominated workplace and the crass, crude behaviour her male coworkers exhibited toward her. And it didn't stop there, but you get the picture. Well, somehow, someone she worked with found her blog, and recognise their job/themselves/what have you in her words, and the jig, as they say, was up.

Needless to say the blog is now gone, and the writer has gone to ground. Thankfully she's not given up, but has taken a good lesson from what had to be an utterly mortifying event and carried on the good fight.

I hope I have the strength of character to do the same when Adrenaline Junkie and Vulgar Wizard turn me over to the likes of RMB and Lazy Susan. *lol*

Oct 3, 2005

So, Here We Are

Monday, as Mondays do, arrived bright and early.

It was a wild weekend, and not in the party-go-wild sort of way. I'm too old for all that hair-pulling and face-slapping. It was, nonetheless, a wild weekend. Lots of grass cutting and mosquitoe-slapping, a chance to sneak out with the daughter (youngest) and watch Serenity, a very rewarding flick if you're of the Sci-Fi/Firefly bent, and even got to catch some World Superbike on the tube. Mix in about ten loads of laundry and you've got it.

Okay, so that's not so wild, is it.

How about the freak rain-storm that pounded the city but died literally at the end of my road?

No, that doesn't really spice it up, does it.

Hmmm. How about the trip to Jiffy Lube? There's some good bashing there. One of the benefits of owning a very old vehicle is that maintenance is simple. There's no computer chips with their attendant giant wire looms to get in the way, no obscene snakes of climate control stuff to block your view, and everything seems to be out in the open. That's why ordinarily I do my own oil changes. It's easy, it's painless, and while it's not as fast as one of the commercial outfits it's certainly cheaper and more rewarding.

Saturday I had a lot of stops to make, so instead of Mr. DIY, I drove to my local Jiffy Lube. Big mistake. Last time I was there, about three years ago, they put the wrong oil filter on my truck and I got oil sprayed all over my engine compartment when they started it up. This time nothing so dramatic. Actually, quite the opposite. The oil change was fast and painless, the folks cooly professional. The thing that bit my arse was that it was not busy, at all. A lady drives in alongside my truck, who apparently either worked there at one time or had slept with all the employees, because the moment she got out of her car they flocked around her and stayed there, servicing her like Cleopatra fresh out of her milk bath.

The outside of my windshield got cleaned by a little guy with a squirt bottle and rags. She got every single window on her four-door cleaned, inside and out. My rubber floor mats got vacuumed. She got her seats done, her carpet, and the trunk carpet. I got an oil change, and was told my tire pressure had been checked at 35/35 psi, according to the receipt. I run heavier than standard tires on my truck, whose psi range is 40-60. If they had been filled to 35 psi (they weren't, I watched the entire time, no-one touched the tires) they'd be low. She got everything including her spare checked.

Don't get me wrong, I know that being a friend can earn you extra service. I know how the Real World works. But do us all a favor and make it less obvious. You can be discreet while taking care of a preferred customer, you don't have to rub it in everyone else's face, and you don't have to charge me for a package that you did not completely deliver on.

So Jiffy Lube, you can fuck off. I'm one of those guys you heard about in your management classes, the ones who don't get loud, who don't get upset, who don't throw a temper tantrum. I'm one of those guys who simply smiles, pays his money, and never, ever comes back. You will not see me again. And I'll tell people about the experience, too, and warn them not to go there. That I can sincerely promise you. And slowly, quietly, like a termite in the foundation, I'll eat away at your profits until you wonder why you've got to close the doors. Word gets around, my friend.

Did I tell you about getting eaten alive by mosquitoes yesterday?

Oct 1, 2005

Dr. Zhivago I Ain't

My wife works with a Russian immgrant who was born and raised in St. Petersburg. This in itself is interesting, but there's more.

See, she has a way to calm dogs down while grooming them--she scolds them in Russian.

Truly. And I'm told it works.

Anyway, the thing is, this Russian lady often laughs at anyone's efforts at pronouncing the rather difficult intricacies of the Russian language. So, I told the wife to call her "tovarich" one day. This was met with a stony refusal, because she wasn't sure what I was telling her to call her, and while I was about 99% sure, I didn't need to offend a woman I had never met.

So, after about a month of useless wondering, this evening I went online to Google and even to that horrid Ask Jeeves place to see if I could get an english translation of two words I recalled well from a Robert A. Heinlein story--tovarich and gospodin. The best I could come up with was translators that would turn the English words into Cyrillic letters--pretty, but useless.

See, my idea was that the Russian term "tovarich" was akin to friend or companion, and gospodin was an honorific like the Spanish "Don." I was, surprisingly, almost completely right on both counts. A long (in internet terms) search of off the beaten path websites turned up the translations, which I will present for you here, so you don't need to go wasting time looking for the meanings when the need takes you.

Tovarich (pronounced in Southern English as 'toe,' stress on the middle syllable 'VAR' and ending "ish") means 'comrade,' in the hokey, Cold War movie way. Friend, compatriot, fellow sufferer under Stalin, that sort of thing.

Gospodin I was right on about. Pronounced 'goz-POE-den,' it bears the same translation as our French-derived 'Mister' and the Spanish 'Don,' being the simple honorific for a male person.

Now, all the hard work is done for you.

You're welcome.

Deus Ex Machina

Except this time I don't have some sort of miracle ploy or twist of Fate to absolve me from the fact that I have been in absentia. I've been, you see, both busy and lax.

I've been busy, you see, not working. Adrenaline Junkie, our august personage in charge, decided that since gasoline prices have skyrocketed, he was going to save us all some wallet-grief and move us to a four-day work week. That means 40 hours of work, crammed into 32, and we're paid for the full 40. Rock and or roll! So Friday being my chosen day off work, what do I do? I spent a fulfilling but back-breaking 10 or so hours helping Vulgar Wizard pack up her apartment, stuffing it all into my brother's borrowed truck and trailer and her Toyota pickup, and hauling it at break-neck speeds to her new and nearly completed palatial estate.

It was a lot of fun, as good hard honest work in service to another is, and tiring, and fulfilling, and tiring. Did I mention I was tired when we got done? VW worked harder than me, I think, and at the end of it I was afraid she was going to collapse, but a big slug of Gatorade restored her nutritave balance and her eloctrolyte metabolic interfarcicial panjandrum, and she was right as rain. The thing that got me was this morning--see, the apartment has stairs in and out. About ten of them. Irrelephant is not in the shape he once was. Hell, Irrelephant was NEVER in shape, and taking those stairs about three thousand times was murder. My calves feel alternately like they're built up enough right now to burst clean through my skin and so withered and useless that they refuse to carry my weight.

But it's done, that is if VW's hubby-to-be and his best bud got the couch, the two desks, and the recliner out. VW, you see, is a slight little thing, and on her best day we could not have moved that gods-awful sectional, not alone. So with luck she's 100% moved in, and the unpacking can start.

So that was Friday. Did I post Thursday? I think so.

This morning was a case of not being able to get up, caused either by profound laziness or by delayed exhaustion or both. The only thing that appealed to me this morning at 8 am, after 10 hours asleep was a) sleeping more or b) staying in bed and pretending like I was asleep. But, I dragged my sorry carcass out by 9 and decided that this morning was cool enough to wash Rita (the truck, not the storm,) which I did. And which almost put me in the hospital. I really wasn't ready for all that work. But this is cool, because my beauty no longer looks like she's one breakdown short of being abandoned in a barn somewhere.

I hear tell Serenity the movie is to die for, so perhaps I'll have the chance this afternoon to die for it. I also hear Sam Goody's has some wonderous Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon boxers, which I might spend some of my unspent birthday cizash on. I also happen to know that I have a hundred bux in unspent gift cards to Lowe's and Harbor Freight Tools that have been crying my name, louder every day. Perhaps this afternoon is The Time.

Roight. Without further ado, the oil change.