Aug 31, 2006

Taking A Trip? Have A Nice Fall!

Fall, in her orange and yellow cloak has been creeping around the state, and I for one am glad to see her.

All of yesterday we had a steady north wind blowing down the dry soybean field, rattling the beans in their dry husks, pushing cars down the interstate toward the city. I kept finding reasons to be outside yesterday, so that I could stand turned into the wind, loving the feel of nature on my face.

Have you ever noticed a dog suddenly turn their face into the breeze, half close their eyes and start scenting the air, as though their sight were detracting from that esoteric message the zephyr was bringing their twitching damp noses? I knew how those dogs felt yesterday. Feeling the cool breeze on my cheeks, I closed my eyes to keep the sights from distracting me from the promise of cool mornings, crisp leaves underfoot, the sharp tang of northern breezes. I could smell cold afternoons, warm under my coat, boots crunching brown grass, and the warm barnyard smell of animals in a barn, chewing on sweet hay, their breath senting the air with clover and the promise of a return to Spring. I could smell creeping tendrils of cold air threading their way into my helmet vents, making me shiver with delight under my heavy leather jacket.

Fall is coming. The Farmer's Almanac is promising a very cold, very hard winter (for us, at least, here in the south,) but I'm not worried about that yet. Right now I have my face resolutely turned toward Fall's steady approach, ready to greet her with open heart and welcoming smile.

Aug 30, 2006

Morning Has Broken

This morning was one of Those mornings. One of those mornings where I could have happily bypassed work and driven on to Baton Rouge perhaps, or New Orleans, to visit Magazine Street and that little tobacco shop that I visited last many years ago.

It's a rare thing for Louisiana in August--the temperature is comfortable. Ernesto has stirred up enough dampness and clouds and low temperatures that it has sent our otherwise very high 90's plummeting into, this morning, the mid 80's. Downright chilly, for us tropical folk. Mix in our usual high level of humidity and suddenly I've got weather that invites me to open the throttle a little and point Betty and I down a nearby state highway, one of those squiggly black lines on your map, wandering like ants dipped in ink, framed by the frighteningly straight, bland blue bands of the interstates.

Perhaps I could even take another loner with me on this work-shirking trip. Pluto, perhaps. We could both hit the highway, me in the lead, my black beauty rumbling along the winding roads, cooled by the low temperatures, eyes filled with the overhanging trees and the shreds of fog and horses grazing in open fields, Pluto bobbing along behind me like an eager pup, anxious for the open road, enjoying the company of a fellow traveller.

The times that memories are made of.

Aug 29, 2006

Talkies Tuesday Redux - The Mysterious Case Of The Dissapearing Audio Post

this is an audio post - click to play

Well, here they are now, and for those of you with sharp eyes and nothing better to do, Hannibal, you noted that there were FOUR posts. Not so, my companions, for there were two posts, duplicated, and therein lies the mystery.

Need to search for clews. Perhaps some tobacco ash.

Talkies Tuesday - Beyond The Walls Of Sleep

this is an audio post - click to play

A day late it posts, no less. I'm on time for a change, and Audioblogger swallows it's face.


Okay, Something's Wrong

Audioblogger has eaten two, count 'em TWO audioposts this morning. If you happen to see them today, sans the patented Talkies Tuesday logo please let me know?

Aug 28, 2006

Baron Von Irrelephant!


Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Hirsuteness

Hirsuitosity? Hirsuitism? What's the plural of that?

I've almost reached That Point in my life. I'm almost 40. Come September acertaindate, I'll be 39, and that puts me close enough to 40 for that whole Mid-Life Crisis thing to start hitting me. And it has. And I've already been reacting to it. I can feel my warranty voiding itself even as we speak.

No, I haven't bought a Corvette. No, I haven't found a 16 year old fashion model with a body like a 12 year old boy to marry. And no, I haven't started wearing my shirts unbuttoned down to my navel so you can see my 24k gold razor blade necklace and chain. I've done that since high school.

What have I done as the outward expression of the event of the middle of my life as a human bean? I've changed my beard.

Twice now.

Gasp in shock and awe you well may. Go on, I'll wait.

Got it out of your system? Good. Let's proceed then, shall we?

I'm sure most of you remember the Florida Incident, during which time I grew a full beard and maintained it for, oh, a month or thereabouts. I gave that up not because I was failing miserably at it, which I wasn't, not really, but because I blended into the crowd too much. Any man who still has his head attached to his neck can grow a full beard of some sort, by the simple expedient of not shaving. That route, therefore, quickly became the wrong direction for me.

You see, I can't do things the easy, cheap, disposable way. I am a man whose needs include pens that have to be refilled from a bottle, clocks that require winding on a weekly basis, and vehicles that don't have niceties like computers, power steering, or air conditioning.

So, I'm growing a handlebar moustache in addition to my goatee.

That's right. Handlebars. Long, elegant, and requiring attention to look spiffy. Twirling and twisting often to make sure they're straight and pointing correctly. We're talking moustache wax, eventually. Oh yeah.

Vanity, thy name is Irrelephant.

Aug 25, 2006

Your Moment Of Zen

You know, I get offended easily over the complete and utter overuse of two terms: "Surreal" and "Zen."

Both these terms used to mean so very much. They were rich and full and meaningful in their own right. Now, you can find those words on everything from full colour car ads in magazines down to perfume bottles, and in almost every case the item in question has nothing to do with it's namesake.

So. Surreal is for later. Today is Zen.

"Zen" in it's simplest form is living in The Now. All the time. Thoughts dwell in the immediacy of your breathing, in the current, without wandering into the past or trying to see into the future. You simply live every second. Harder than it sounds.

Cats are an embodiment of a simpler kind of Zen. Cats live in the present all the time. For them there is no future, there is no past, there is simply the Eternal Now. They don't worry about making the mortgage payment next month, nor do they worry about what effect their poor kittenhood is having on them now. They live in the Now.

And it was this morning that I found myself given a lesson from my kitty in Zen. I was seated on the throne, oblivious to Fiona playing beside me in the tub. The blue plaid curtain was drawn, and I guess I heard in some background way the scrabbling and scratching of her claws on the porcelain, but I was elsewhere, mentally.

All that came to a halt when I, again unknowingly, rested my right knee against the side of the tub, making a small dent in the curtain. Fiona took note of this dent and immediately leapt to the tub ledge and clamped an entire set of very sharp claws around my knee.

Now. The immediate reaction of my howling Caveman hindbrain was to pull away as fast as possible, knowing full well that the only answer was to get away from the pain instantly. My forebrain, the cold, calculating Librarian cut off that impulse instantly, knowing full well that if I were to pull back suddenly this would only trigger Fiona's tiny, madly-whirling squirrel-crazy brain to clamp down on the claws and perhaps add her mouth-full of razor-sharp teeth to the fray because The Prey was escaping.

So there I sat, balanced on a razor. I felt like I had just put my foot in one of those gruesome, steel toothy traps that furriers use for vermin. If I struggled, blood was sure to flow, but as long as I stayed still I was still in danger.

And that was the moment. There was the sharp rap of the Master's rataan cane on my shoulders, jarring me into a new mode of thinking. I was living in the Now. THIS was Zen. The sound of one paw clapping.

And then Fiona, getting bored with prey that didn't wiggle, struggle, or otherwise try to defend itself, let go and settled to the bottom of the tub with a quiet "plunk" of feet on white porcelain-covered steel, and my Moment of Perfect Beauty was gone, and I was again tossed back into the stormy seas of living all around the Now.

How surreal...

Aug 24, 2006

It's Picture Time! Everyone Say "Cross-Eyed Hermaphrodite!"

Yup, it's that time again. I dumped my cellular phone camera, and now I'm gonna force you to look at the images.

Okay, so not all of them are phone images, but hey, half of them are, and in the eyes of the government and most of the population of America, half is better than none. Hence the half-wit in the White House.

Without further ado or offense--the pics, and feel free to clicky, as they will embiggen if you do.

A Cicada Followed Me Home And Begged Me To Take It's Photo
Okay, so not really, but it WAS hanging on my outside screen door the morning I went out to refill the bird feeders, and the camera does pretty good macro, so I took steps. Lovely critters.

Self Portrait #3, With Dog & Cat
That's the first recorded photo, I think, of Penny the Papillion. I was out on the back porch last night watching the rain come in, and Penny decided she no longer wished to have her feet dirty, so on my lap she went. The tabby is Agaku Tora, right now we guesstimate age 13, doing awfully well for her years. The geek in the middle with the cigar is irrelevant.

How Vulgar!
And now, you know you want her, you know you need her, you know you want to know why she's holding Allergy Alert stickers over her breasts, it's the one (fortunately,) the only (thank you sweet jeebus,) Vulgar Wizard, being only mildly vulgar. This time.

And yes, Yrs truly. Freak.

Fare Thee Well, Tiny Wanderer

Damn them all to Hades.

The Planetary Science Guys Gathering decided that Pluto, formerly our furtherest-out-planet, is no longer a planet.

Apparently a planet, by the new definition, has to be round, covered in dirt, capable of being mined to utter collapse by major interstellar mining corporations, be large enough to host the entire cast and crew of a big-budget science fiction movie, and must be able to clear smaller objects out of it's orbitary neighborhood by it's force of gravity or something foolish like that, so Pluto is out, and we're down to a meager eight plants in our solar system now.

We'll miss you, Pluto.

Look, Up In The Sky!

In short--

The idea of a Flying Wing has always haunted me. So completely alien from the standard "tube and ironing boards" aircraft, the idea of a flying wing design has been around for a long time, long enough to have been designed, flown, turned into a jet-powered craft, then retired.

Then there's the whole series of stealth flying wings, and now, THIS.

What a marvelous time to be alive!

Aug 23, 2006

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Wouldn't it be nice. What a lovely four and a half words. How very useful.

Wouldn't it be nice if, when terrorists abducted foreign reporters in strange lands, they would lead them blindfolded to a secure location then make sure they're comfortable, feed them some nice local dishes, finish it with a good strong coffee and a smoke, and then perhaps take them on a tour of the neighborhood before driving them back to where they were kidnapped?

Life would be so different.

Unfortunately, things like this happen to me: I get a compliment from a patient, through one of our LPNs. She tells the LPN that my "voice is the sexiest thing she's ever heard."

The lady speaking to our LPN is about 90 years old. I don't know if I should be proud or nauseated.

Ding Dong

The Witch is dead, the Witch is dead, the Witch is dead!

Butter Troll, the living piece of feces that inhabited our Clinical Manager office was fired yesterday afternoon at 4 pm. I was not witness to the termination, but I have a fair idea that it was for repeated and determined flaunting and ignoring of the corporate compliance regulations, and she got the axe for it.

And there was much rejoicing.

No more computer mouse slamming, no more mouth-breathing behind me, no more shuffling feet up and down the hall, and no more whiney, maudlin voice floating down the hall.

And there was much rejoicing.

No more piles of mistakes in scheduling, no more 300 pounds of ass stuffed into a 100 pound sack. No more huge per-episode/per-patient losses because some fat barstard forgot to write an order to cover a visit.

And there was much rejoicing.

No more whining "I don't know." No more whining "I can't do that." No more whining "Irrrrelephant, can you come make my computer work again?" No more stupid annoying nurse who won't even meet your eyes when you speak to her.

And there was much rejoicing.

No more passing the buck to your subordinate, you lazy bitch. No more frequent doctor's appointments every single week. No more waiting for your disability to kick in so you could be carried on the backs of the taxpayers for the rest of your waste life.

And there was much rejoicing.

And I took three laps around the parking lot buck nekkid.

Aug 22, 2006

Get The Fuck Out Of Here.

It seems almost absurd that this should surface on the birthday of the man who wrote Fahrenheit 451, the seminal book about censorship, but here it is, smack in the middle of Ray Bradbury's birthday:

Censorship. Big Brother is stepping into your life, right now.

Yup. He's altering cartoons that are 50 years old. Tom and Jerry, venerable victim of censorship is being hit again. First, a heavyset black housekeeper was removed from the cartoon and replaced with a thin white woman, for fear of reminding black people that they used to be treated badly. Wow, who would have thunk it?

Then, violence was targeted. Tom and Jerry is pretty violent, I'll admit. So is the war in Iraq. Violence happens. We are a violent species. Let's hide that fact from our kids, and magically it'll all go away.

Now, it's smoking. No more hand-rolling a cigarette, and no more swaggering aroudn with a cigar for old Tom. If decades of frying pans and butcher's knives haven't done him in, apparently lung cancer will.

Okay, so let me suggest a few more things for you. Most network telivision, for sex, smoking, drinking, driving recklessly, and ray guns, all of which are dangerous things to be exposing people to.

How about Uncle Remus? All that Negro vernacular has got to be offensive to someone. While you're at it, why not stop rap music as a whole--everyone calling each other "nigger" and "'ho," as well as glorifying gang behaviours, drug use, non-monagomous sex acts and belittling women. There's always something there that might offend a delicate-eared listener.

And what about the Brothers Grimm story of Hansel and Gretel? I mean, that's offensive to both the German people AND to the elderly! Tossed her in the oven, indeed. Censor it!

I have an idea--why don't we, as Americans, pull our heads out of our collective asses with a resounding "POP" and get lives.

Talkies Tuesday - Taking Sides

this is an audio post - click to play

If only this were as fun as the Little League World Series.

Oh, and may I probably not be the first to wish you, Grandmaster Ray Bradbury, a very, very happy 86th birthday, and many happy returns.

Aug 20, 2006

I'm Easy Like A Sunday Morning

Except I don't recall an easy Sunday morning since I turned 14 or thereabouts.

What gives? I was eating supper last night, watching the final gunfight between Good and Evil at the end of For A Few Dollars More, and I was reminiscing to my daughter about my boyhood. Each Sunday, back when I was even younger than her, a local siding company would host a western on one of the three local channels we could pick up. In exchange for paying for the movie they would have all the commercial breaks they could stomach, and I learned about aluminum vs vinyl components as well as how to be cool, distant, and squint a lot. I also learned that my father loved westerns, and I did, too. Those Sunday afternoons seemed to last forever, because there was nothing to do except watch westerns and wile away the long hours to supper.

Now, somehow, things are different. I'm always busy, it seems. Perhaps my father was too, and I just never noticed it. Seems I always have a Saturday's worth of grass to cut, and odds and ends chores to take care of around the house, not to mention upwards of eight loads of laundry to process. When it's too hot to go outside anymore there's still the inside duties to take care of, like cleaning and folding that mountain of clothes.

Sundays are for running.

There's always groceries to buy, and by the time the week has drawn to a close there's always a list of things we need to pick up that the week never gave us opportunity to get. Like the almost-new dryer that we need to pick up at the grandmother-in-law's house, and the bags of mulch I need to recover my grapes, which are doing fairly well considering their leaves are riddled with insect holes. Oh yeah, I need insecticide, too. And prescription drugs from Wal-To-Wal-Hell-Mart, and a tube of Neosporin, which I discovered we're out of yesterday after I cut a two inch long gash in the soft part of my sole on a brickbat.

There's always another stop to make. Always. They seem to pile up like rocks in an avalanche. And this weekend, like every other, there's still work to do. Always there's work to do. There's a garden to prep for the late summer crop. There's a compost bin to be built. Tree branches to be trimmed, flower beds that need weeding desperately, and a fence to plan and a fence to complete. Two ditches that need mowing desperately. Fire ants to dispatch to the Infernal Hells. Betty to be washed. And. Oh yes, and. And that too.

So many projects, so little time.

Aug 18, 2006

The Curious Case Of The Content Cicada

When you grow up without a lot of money, you learn a lot of things different from other people about survival, work, and fun. How to make soup stretch by using barley. Improvising cleaning products from ordinary household items. How to pad a resume. And the art of making fun out of the simple things.

As a child, I learned a lot of simple, fun things. One of the best was how to splash my brother with fresh cow dung by loading a homemade slingshot with a big fat ripe acorn and firing into the steaming pile at juuust the right angle, but I think the most important one was to look for the small things. It's no surprise to people who know me that I tend to notice the little things first, long before I see the Big Picture. I'm a hundred times more likely to see the inch-long pale green preying mantis stalking her careful way up a rose cane than the roses themselves. For a guy who can honestly admit to having heard the sound a butterfly makes when it flaps it's wings, this morning came as no surprise to me, in it's beauty and simplicity.

As I walked into the garage, looking out at the foggy morning, preparing to start Betty up and haul into work I couldn't help but notice a green, gossamer-winged bump on the driveway. A cicada was standing there, secure in the (mistaken) knowledge that he was on a very large, very flat grey tree. Cicadas spend a lot of their adult form time hanging onto tree branches, being very still and variegated green so as not to get eaten by birds and cicada wasps before they meet That Certain Special Someone, so this fellow was either new at the game or colourblind, thinking that patterned green and black was blending him in with flat grey and a few dead leaves.

When my brother and I were very young, a lot of our summertime fun came from cicadas. Cicada shells, actually, because they were free, plentiful, and strange things indeed to bug-crazy kids like us. Plus, they were marginally tough to find so they fit the "summer fun" bill perfectly. Each morning we'd take long tree branches and go a-wandering amongst the huge old oaks and pecans that dot the property, and we would cast our eyes up into the branches and along the trunks, desperate for the sight of a brown shell. Then we'd decide how high up it was, the proper method of approach, and we'd take those long sticks and gently pop the prized shell off it's branch, to add to our brown paper bag full of other discarded husks. And naturally this interaction with nature introduced us to the entire life cycle of a cicada; the just-emerged mud-brown bodies trundling across the wet ground in search of a tree trunk to scale, the just-emerging, pale, damp, ice-green adults with wings still rumpled and unformed from the shell's captivity, and the heavy, fully-formed adults, resplendant in their dark green articulated shells and silvery clear wings.

Armed with this knowledge from my childhood, I knew exactly how to pick up this green jewel without unduly bothering it, and without triggering it's ear-splitting shrill whistle if I were to disturb it too much. I cupped my fingers on each side of it's six legs and closed gently, and the cicada, sensing branches moving around it, obligingly lifted each of it's four strong legs and pair of powerful front claws and settled each onto a finger, and started, as I knew it would, to a higher point on the branch.

I had started walking it toward the fig tree at the end of the driveway because I knew it would offer a few more hiding places than the scattered gravel and tire tracks of the driveway, but the bug had a different agenda in mind. Having traversed my entire left hand determinedly, it began working it's way up my right hand, each sharp-hooked claw making little prickling sensations and indentions along my palm. I could see the determination in his wide-set glassy green eyes and the serious set of his antennae as I carried him. I knew our sojurn together wasn't going to last until the fig tree, so I just stopped there on the end of the driveway and watched.

He, knowing full well what he wanted to do, started mountaineering his way up my raised thumb. Upon reaching the end of my digit he, without further ado or much fuss, spread his wings and began his graceless, wobbling flight into the fog-damp branches of the oak tree. I watched his convoluted flight with a smile, not only from his clumsy antics. You see, as he took off, I had felt the tinest mist of dampness shaken off his wings, settling in a perfect miniature rainstorm onto the end of my thumb.

There are brief moments in rare days when I feel that I have attained the height of "living in the moment" of Zen Enlightenment.

This morning was one of those perfect moments.

Aug 17, 2006

How About It?

Ever have one of Those Days?

Ever have two of them?

I can't seem to get my blogging gland to start pumping again.

Mrs. Irrelephant reports that my past few posts have been the very bane of the blogger--"boring."

At least part of it has to be work, and part has to be school. Yeah, that's it, the two biggies. Work and School.

The phone rang at work a few days ago, and the gent on the other line realised that he had the wrong number. In a very polite voice he said "Excuse the ring" and hung up. I sat there for ten minutes with the receiver in hand, trying to figure out how someone that cultured and polite is living in our state. Must have been from Alabama or one of them big fancy places. Couldn't have been a local call, those folks just breathe heavy through their mouths a while, repeat their request in a much louder voice "UUUH, IZUHJOHNBOBBY DERE UH?" at which point I just hang up.

And thank you all for the kind words from the school post. It surprises me how many of us had that super-early morning bus ride. Makes me wonder where all the kids who got on LATE are? Did they all turn into doctors and lawyers and spacemen, leaving us, the creative, the introspective, the internet geeks? Is that how it works? In school news, Weerelephant has already settled in well, adapting fast to her new environment, something that I personally have never managed. Ever. So, all told, that's good news. The bus driver has his schedule down pat, and so now we can develop ours.

Work has been interesting. I think I was bitching earlier about the addition of a time clock in our little world, and that's been a very telling thing. See, they told us that overtime was okay, and when it rains soup, Irrelephant is not only the guy carrying his umbrella upside down, he's also the guy standing under the downspouts of buildings.

Truthfully, it's been a hard slog this week. We've been playing catch-up as fast and as hard as we can, and it's starting to make a difference, but only slowly. My check will be fat, though. Four days in and I'm already at 37 hours. Would have been 38 or so but yesterday, out of nowhere, the rains came! And naturally I was on Betty, and really didn't want mildew growing in my boots again.

Yes! Real live water, falling from the sky. We had quite a thorough storm, full of wicked lightning, ponderous rolls of thunder, and a nice torrential rain that fell hard and long, and left no trace of itself behind in our parched patch of earth. I spent a good hour and a half outside on the back patio with the cats and a nice Puros Indios churchill, smoking and watching the rain fall and the lightning limn the pecan trees. Very nice time indeed.

What else is there breathtaking in my life? Oh the mind boggles. Mostly I are been catching up on my recordings of Midsommer Murders, a nice little show that plays on the Biography channel. After A&E cancelled Nero Wolfe I went into withdrawal, but the addition to our lives of a DVR cable box has changed some things around. For instance, instead of watching only HALF of Midsommer I can record them whenever, and then I have to fight to fit in blocks of time to watch them. Ah, the perils of the moderne life.

Makes me want to find a mountain in Peru somewhere where I can build a little one-room cottage, clinging precariously to the side of a cliff, approachable only by secret paths, where I can tune out all the extraneous stuff.

Oh, and I'd like a DSL drop, please.

Aug 16, 2006

Lamest (And Probably Shortest) Post Ever!

Happy Saint Mary MacKillop Day, if you live in Australia.

Three cheers for what also has to be the most irrelephant post ever stuck here!



Ra...oh, sod it.

Aug 14, 2006

The Yellow Bus Blues

So here I am again, the new year of school, waiting for a schoolbus like I used to do way back in the day. Sickening.

My folks were never placed to drive me to school. They both worked early enough that if they were to drive me to school I could have helped the janitorial staff do the pre-5am clean up. So, it was the schoolbus for me. At a heart-breaking 6:15 in the morning, but it gave me time to worry and reflect and work myself into a troubled foam before I got to school for 8am.

My daughter is in the same boat, more or less. Neither I nor the wife drive to work anywhere near either her old school or her new one, so it's the schoolbus for her, too. Not quite so desperately early, but early enough, and she's a lot more independent than I ever was at that age, and a lot less prone to worry. Still and all, it's the first morning of the year going to a new school (sixth grade!,) with a new driver, and so naturally, in keeping with the program, this morning was the strangest.

See, this was the morning where we knew that no less than five buses were going to go whizzing down our little quiet country lane, and we knew that the School Board in it's infinite wisdom had not assigned ANY of these five drivers to pick up my daughter, so a bout of calling and assigning on our part ensued. My mother is good at bureaucracy, having worked her entire life for the Air Farce, and over a weekend she secured a driver and a name, and this morning began The Long Wait.

It's aggravating enough to have to have to wait for a bus. It's more aggravating when you have to pick one out of five, having only a vague notion of what time he's going to arrive. So, breakfast was hurried, tensions were mounting, and we were at the road at 6:25, just in time to watch not one but the first two buses of the morning go whizzing by each other (and our driveway) at Mach 2. Confusion ensued, but since it was early we stuck it out.

Fortunate for us, because after an interminable wait a third went by, falteringly, as if he wasn't sure he wanted to stop or not. He didn't, come to find out. He went on, faltering his way down the lane until the stop sign at the end, where he wheezingly went on about his route.

Curious glances were exchanged. Checks of the clock were performed, and we watched a lone soloist take his tiny Piper across the sky. At least HE seemed to know where he was going and when.

With the clock's digits creeping up on 6:40, just past the "car/no car" time point, a fourth yellow box appeared on the lane. It was creeping it's way up the road, faltering, hesitating, like a new raptor trying to catch it's first rodent, and I thought for one crazed moment that Bus #3 had decided to take another stab at it, but no, this was The Bus, because as soon as he spotted us standing at the driveway like a couple of confused Mormons he accelerated, braked, and was here.

Handshakes, brief introductions, and the covenant was set. 6:40, and 4ish in the afternoon, and thus our school year pact was sealed. Now all I have to do is get used to being awake at 5:45 in the morning again. *choke gasp wheeze falter*

Aug 13, 2006

A Treatise On Dirt Dogs And Princesses

Yes, this is a post about my wife's dog.

And here's a picture of her.

Okay, so the sharp eyes out there might have noticed something--that's not her. No, that's a big-arse cigar. A Puros Indios Double Magnum, if you're wondering. But it sort of looks like Penny. All you have to do is imagine that Double Magnum with long hair, a curled tail, white and copper coloured. More Papillion-ish and


I had a lot of outside work to do today. Field work. I had two oak trees worth of branches to clean up, grass to cut under them, and a very ancient pecan tree surrounded in briars, poison ivy, wild grape, and other assorted nasty bushes that had to be cleaned. See, the brother's buddy finally moved his three bee skeps, and that meant I could get back to cleaning around my last three trees. I like my trees clean looking. Pruned. Natural, but artificial. Yeah.

But the wife is spending the weekend dog and house-sitting for her hairdresser, and I had Penny, the Princess dog, who turns her petite nose up at lower class 'dirt dogs.' And I had to work. And I felt bad about leaving her in the house for several hours.

So, I did what any red-blooded man in my situitation would do. Yup, I ate her.

No, I scooped her up in my arm, got all my tools, hooked up the trailer to the lawn tractor, sat down, fired her up, and headed out to the field, dog in my arm. Thank my lucky stars the neighbors didn't see it. I would never live it down. A he-man working in his yard, driving his huge lawn tractor with a trailer packed full of blades and choppers and chain saw, carrying a three and a half pound Papillion around, crooked in my arm like a Gucci bag. The things I do.

So, the fun began. I worked, and Penny, well, Penny became a dirt dog for the morning. Long forgotten was Friday's weekly bath brush fluff tumble dry perfume pedi etc. treatment. So much for the Eu de No Stinky Pooch, no need for the sharply-groomed fur, Mom. Time to get down and dirty. And she did. She ran, she rolled. She found stinky things to get into. She even drove off my brother's two dogs, the half Pug/half Beagle (a Puggle?) and the other one, a sort of Stood them down like a four-foot high drill instructor barking down a whole platoon of new 7' tall recruits. And then proceeded to go wandering in grass so tall I thought for a moment there that she was pretending to be Papa Hemingway preparing to bag a particularly dangerous man-eating tiger.

I didn't get to try the return trip, however, which would have been a lot more interesting. No, not interesting, what's the word? "Filthy." That's it, filthy. I was covered head to toe in plant matter, dirt, wood chips, bits of thorns, angry wasps, poison ivy strands tied around my arms, bits of wild grape coming out of my mouth like some crazed Green Man, and I would have had to try and carry Penny back again. No thanx. Luckily the proper owner happened along, stopped her car, yelled at me "Where's the dog?" as though I might know, and after Penny got a little elevation to see where all the noise was coming from she bolted across the Back 40 like a, well, like a bolt from a crossbow, and was suddenly Miss Princess again. Trying to chew burrs, insects and wild animal droppings out of her hair.

They were bound for the MIL's house. Hope she doesn't mind the odd preying mantis and/or cockleburr in the house.

Aug 12, 2006

I Got 25 Peeps And A Bitch Ain't One

Okay, so I don't have 25 peeps, I've got more like two. And they're in the top drawer of my desk, been there since last Easter, but they seem to be holding on pretty good. No green fur yet, maybe a little crisp around the edges but They tell me that Peeps only get better with age.

Like me. *snort*

Welcome, if you're a new passer-by. And if you're an old timer, like me, then know ye by these letters (a, Q, and zed) that I have entered myself into the 25Peeps thing, by which all men (and women, and all those in-between gendered persons) shall know me. You see, it's a traffic whore thing. And since I'm a traffic whore who hasn't got a nice pair of tits to show off, which seems to be the main ticket for getting traffic (from men, no doubt) here, I had to make do with a picture that Vulgar Wizard snapped of me at the tiny village of Yachats, Oregon, a quaint, picturesque town perched on the edge of the Pacific Northwest coast which does double duty as a huge money-sieve. Money and people come in, and po' folk go out.

I'll upload the whole picture, if you want to see what the joke is all about, as soon as Blogger pulls it's technical head out of it's solid-state arse.

So. Keep reading if you like, and if you don't, well hell, at least I got you to click. Yeah, right there. Do it to me one more time. *lol*

If you didn't see 25Peeps on the way in, here's my link you can clicky me on. Be gentle with me, I'm new at this whole clicking thing.

Go ahead, you know you want to.

Aug 11, 2006

Like A Poor Doctor, I Keep Losing My Patience

Dealing with nurses (and yes, that means CNAs, LPNs and RNs all,) I sometimes feel like I'm trying to give haircuts to a room full of three-year-olds. I swear. A lot. I grit my teeth. A lot. I even bite back hurtful words. All the damned time.

I've seen Communist dictators who are more willing to change.

My most toe-curling nightmares have nothing on what comes out of their mouths at times.

I've learned more foul things about the human body than ANY owner of a human body should know. Trust me on this one, we're NASTY CRITTERS.

They don't know how to clean up behind themselves.

They don't know how to park a car properly.

They don't know when to stop whining.

They certainly don't respect the fact that their administrative staff (me!) is here to HELP them do their job better, not hinder it.

Dealing with these ladies and, yes, gentlemen too, makes me fully grok what those biker guys mean when they stitch "DILLIGAF?" on their vests.

Aug 10, 2006

De-Luxe Apartment In The Sky

I have to wonder about Nature.

Nature, for the most part, adapts most readily to change, even the encroachment of people. Spiders, for instance. Spiders have no problem co-existing with us. There's a pair of them that live in the mailbox at work, for instance. Both are the little black and white wolf spiders, tiny, that don't so much make a web as make little spun cocoons to hide in, and as long as they don't start reading the office's mail I plan on leaving them be.

The thing is, however, the fact of their location. It's certainly strange enough to be a postal spider, but one lives in the back corner of our rather large mailbox while his cousin the ciy spider lives in the crease of the mailbox flag.

Yes, the flag.

It's metal, bright red, and has a sort of architectural groove that runs down it's middle, which he decided was perfect for his new home. I say "he" and "his" because I don't think a woman would be dumb enough to build a home on a metal spar. What really gets me, though, is that this bug, this enterprising arachnid, which has mastered quite literally the "thinking-out-of-the-box mindset," has availed himself of a penthouse with a view. You see, every morning around 9 am I bring out the day's mail and put up the flag (and his house,) and from then to about 11:00 when the postmistress comes and lowers it, that flag is a good foot in the air. This tiny eight-legger has given himself a high-rise apartment. Literally.

So what I have to wonder is--does he ever sit on his veranda with the octaculars and look out across the soybean fields? Does he carspot on the interstate? Or does he just lay out and sunbathe during the heat of the day, keeping an eye or three peeled for the occasional fly who really has a thing for envelopes?

Aug 9, 2006

Go Fly A Kite

There's a twofold meaning there, which I might have to explain later.* For now, it's just a story about an airplane.

This morning while enjoying my drive to work I found myself slowing to take in the cool air, the early sunshine filtering through the trees, and the thick fields of ripening cotton to either side of the road. My reverie, however, was interrupted by a bright yellow speck in the sky, which made my thoughts turn to a whole new track.

You see, it was a crop duster. The local dusting service uses fixed-wing airplanes instead of helicopters, specifically biplanes called Ag-Cats. This company tends to favor a sort of actinic chrome yellow colour for their planes, and they use it liberally. And the Ag-Cat, if you're not familiar with them, looks just like the classic biplane image--two short, stubby wings, fixed landing gear, an exposed, air-cooled radial engine out front with a wooden two-blade propeller, and a network of wirework between the wings. The only clue that it's not an antique is the closed canopy and the bright aluminum metalwork of the sprayers under the wing.

They use these planes instead of new, sleek monoplanes because they handle exactly how a crop-duster needs his plane to handle--plenty of lift, slow top speeds and a very slow stall speed. They can fly steadily and easily just a few feet over the crops without stalling, and can climb rapidly at the last second over trees, powerilnes, and other obstacles. In other words, it's rather like flying a tabletop.

So this morning what do I see but this bright yellow biplane soaring gently, almost leisurely over the treetops in the soft morning light. He made a gentle turn to the right and then immediately swung the plane to the left and started climbing a little bit, the very picture of an old Sopwith spooling over the aerodrome, right down to the genteel roaring of the engine and the flash of heliograph off the rudder struts.

As the light hit the tops of the double-decker wings my mind instantly saw it as a kite, sort of a box kite with a rudder, and I wanted to drive to where there was a little boy standing in one of those cotton fields, holding the long nylon strings that reached 'way up into the sky, tied to the wingtips of that wonderful kits. I wanted to see that little boy's beatific smile as he flew his lovely yellow kite in the soft light, held aloft by an unending cool breeze, in an eternal summer morning.

I wanted to be that little boy, flying his kite, without a care in the world.

*If you didn't get the inside reference there, don't be worried, it's rather esoteric. You see, in the golden age of the biplane (WWI,) Allied pilots often called their aircraft "kites."

Aug 8, 2006

Talkies Tuesday - Why Delta Airlines Blows

this is an audio post - click to play

An audio post? On Tuesday? OMG, who wouldda thunk it?

Enjoy an interrupted little follow-up from one half of the team who brought you Badger In A Box (tm). Oh, and Delta? You still suck, but you're cheaper than Continental, so I'll let you live a little while longer.

Pictures galore can be found at my Flickr page, just turned Pro, and currently sans a lot of the photographer's (my) informational content stuff.

Go go Gadget photographic content!

Aug 4, 2006

Fool Me Once, Shame On You

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Ah, it's something I heard Scotty say once on Star Trek. And it has remarkably little to do with this entry, it just sounded kinda interesting.

See, I've got this thing for Nature. I like it. Always have, likely always will. And I like bugs. Big bugs, small ones, inbetween one, even those with the strange arrangements of feelers and things that look remarkably like an erect...well, nevermind.

For more years than I can count, I've spent time rescuing nature from my house. Rollie pollies, lizards, grass spiders, what have you. Creatures, in short, that can't survive inside. And that includes those beautiful black and purple dirt daubers that exist all over place out here. Their official name is Chalybion californicum, but I've always just though of them as dirt daubers. And the thing with most dirt daubers is, utterly unlike the rest of the wasp family, they're astoundingly calm creatures.

See, I've caught a number of them. Tons of them, usually just so I can bring them outside in my cupped hands, to release them back into the air. I was under the impression for the past 35 or so years that they didn't sting people. I knew that they never sting animals, and we're animals, right? Well, seems they do, sometimes. Wikkipedia tells me "Even when thoroughly agitated or aroused, they are not likely to sting. Because of their calm tempers and ability to control the spider population, many people respect them."

Oh, I'm all for that. I love the little jokers. I once by accident broke up a nest, and counted no less than TWENTY SEVEN black widow spiders crammed in there. I'm all for them. But I have to say this--I got stung today.

Housecleaning, you see, in preparation for the weekend Oregon trip to get my daughter back home. And there has been one of those beautiful little daubers in my kitchen window for two days now, and I decided it was time to catch and free it. So, after a few abortive attempts to capture it, I managed to cup most of my hands over it, and received an astoundingly sharp sting for my troubles! So, I did what any red-blooded man (and cat, Fiona was helping me) would do in that instance--I sulked. For about five minutes, long enough to make sure I wasn't allergic (I'm not,) and then I went and got a plastic cup and a piece of paper, covered the wasp with the cup, slid the paper betwixt window and cup, and carried the whole arrangement outside.

I was astounded! A sting, from a dirt dauber. I guss I had always assumed that they just talked their prey to paralysis or something. "And here's a picture of my fourth nest, with Uncle John standing near the corner..." It wasn't anything, mind you, a welt about half the size of a pencil eraser that lasted about fifteen minutes, and a very little discomfort. Heck, if fire ant bites were that mild there wouldn't be a problem with them, either.

So the swelling is gone, the extremely mild pain is almost non-existant now, but I've gained a new respect for those nervous-seeming little wasps. Always jittering around, walking in that agitated, staccato way they do, constantly flitting their wings, as if they can't get them to fold up just right, a recaltricient umbrella that's attached to your back. They're still beautiful, still worth rescuing, and still one of my favourite insects. I think, though, that I need to make sure that the next one I attempt to cup in my hand hasn't been in a hot kitchen window for two days drinking triple-shot espressos and arguing with his wife.

Aug 3, 2006

Do Do Ya Love Me?

Bay-beeeeee. See, I've had Paula Abdul stuck in my head most of the morning, and since I'm a large white guy and she's a small black woman it's making it difficult for me to perform my day-to-day tasks while at the same time wanting to break into complex dance steps.

I realised this morning that I've been a little irascable here of late, for various reasons, and so, as an apologia of sorts, here's a little light music.

Argyle socks. Is there nothing cooler in the entire world than argyle socks? I wear them exclusively, with jeans, work pants, whatever. I've got all sorts of colours, and I've even catapulted myself into the whole "matching" thing when I dress. Impressive, no?

So what gets me is how hard it is to find argyle socks around here. I mean, Sears carries them sometimes, the Dockers brand, which are nice and thick but they wear out around the cuff pretty fast. JCPenny's carries the Gold Toe brand, but if you buy the argyles you end up with a three-pack for about $15, one of which is a real, full-pattern argyle, one has a few diamonds on the side, and the third pair is just plain. I guess those are for people who are afraid of sock commitment.

In other news, the A/C guys came in this morning to check out why we have water spots on our ceiling tiles. We surmised it was from the pipes sweating up there, because our ceiling is about as well insulated as a redneck's trailer, and all the A/C unit stuff is up there, and since we're in a soybean field and have ZERO shade out here the units never turn off. Seems we were right about the pipes sweating, but the funny/sad thing is that while I was otherwise occupied the repairmen were telling VW that they had to go pick up some kind of wrap, sounded like they said RoboTex, but I think that's like the head of those Transformers guys, but anyway, I walked up the hall as they were saying that, and old boy says "Oh, there he is" and proceeds to tell ME all about it, like I'm going to know what he's talking about, and just dismissed VW on the grounds, I'm sure, that 'she's just a woman and won't understand what we're talking about.'

Hell, for all I knew he needed a left-handed hammer. What he DOES need is someone like VW to go upside his head with a Sunderhaal Fourteen PSI Longitudinal Widget and remind him that women can be just as good at anything as men.

!***** Important addition to this story! Seems that RoboTexMicroForceWhatever is just grey foam pipe insulation. Seems they coud have just said "Hey, we're gonna go buy some of that grey foam insulation, and some duct tape, be right back" but no, they had to go and try to dazzle us with their verbal proficiency.

Pfui on them! PFUI!


Oh, and I just got the most exciting fax! Seems I can buy Hepatitis C at bargain basement discount clearance rates! It used to be $164.95, now it's $41.20.

Throw in a pair of chopsticks and WHAT A BAH-GAIN!

Moesha, You Suck

Burlesque. The word itself summons images of tuxedo-clad gentlemen at small tables in a dim lounge watching beautiful women tease and vamp, while the cigar smoke drifts to the ceiling. A simpler time, before anyone with a digital camera could become their own porn star, no matter how offensive or grotesque.

I need to stop watching TV again. I never learn my lesson. TV exists to offend me, I think, because at it's worst it shows me how stupid and close-minded people can be. I refer, in this case, to NBC's America's Got Talent.

The shows premise is that people of all talents get to come on stage, perform their act, and be ridiculed by a has-been, a twit, and a Brit, all in the hopes that America will pay their $.99 a vote to send them to the million dollar prize at the end.

Last night, you see, Brandy really pissed me off. One of the talents is a young woman whose stage name is Michelle L'Amour. She's a professional burlesque dancer, a teacher of that art, and a very talented performer. And Miss Brandy dislikes her, because she feels it's not a talent to be able to perform a classical, non-revealing strip tease.

L'Amour performed what I believe is a very foreshortened version of her "Snow White" routine the first time, and last night did a very funny, somewhat barbed homage to David Hasselhoff which had me laughing to the edge of tears while she performed a very skilled tease. Ms. Brandy was not amused, and was a snotty punk the whole time.

So why, to pun, did it get under my skin? Because I've seen far more skin and far less subtlety on public beaches and in the mall and on television and movies, all performed with FAR less panache'. And let's not forget the internet, where for the cost of a free search you can discover niche sexual acts and performers that you've never even HEARD of. Did you know there's a super-specialised group of bondage afficionados who like to use women as horses? Right down to pulling carts and wearing blinders? I sure didn't, until the internet came along. Call that classy? I sure don't. Grotesque is more like it.

This snarkiness is coming, mind you, from a woman who owes her career and fame to an industry that revels, excels, gloats in it's use of sex, perversion, and pusing the boundaries of good taste as far as it'll go, and doesn't mind showing everything whenever it gets the chance.

So. I've stopped watching TV again, and hope that one day The Lavender Cabaret will go on the road, or at least get close enough here that I can attend a performance, wearing my best suit, smoking a fine cigar, and so I can applaud enthusiastically for this talented, lovely performer who is trying, I feel successfully, to bring back a classy, less in-your-face performance art.

And Moesha? Why don't you just F off, kid? You're a twit.

Think, Lucky!

Today in 1955, "Waiting for Godot" had its premier in English at London's Art Theatre. It had been running in a small Paris theater for over a year, and Samuel Beckett, its author, had translated the play. It's the story of Vladimir and Estragon, two tramps, who have an appointment to meet Godot on a country road. Instead of meeting Godot, they encounter two strange men: Pozzo, a tyrant, and his "servant" Lucky, whom he drags along on a rope. There is hardly any other action, and Godot never arrives.

The play got mostly bad reviews, but Harold Hobson, critic for the Sunday Times, wrote about the production for the next seven Sundays. The play became the talk of London.

Where's my bowler and my mostly dead tree?

Aug 2, 2006

A Brief Distraction

while I flee for my life being pursued by an angry mob who was expecting a whole lot more from me for Talkies Tuesday, me being the founder and all.

A few mobile phone pictures.

You can, of course, clicky them to enbiggen them for a better understanding of just what a poor excuse for a camera my cellular telephone actually makes.


is how it looked when I left work Tuesday at 5pm. The weather forecast? Clear and sunny, they said that morning. When I left work the forecast was "OMFG head for the hills!" Yeah, thanx guys.

I ended up getting stuck at the local gas station, made it there dry, and it started raining just as I arrived, so I spent a dry twenty minutes under their canopy, staring at, well, at everything. Just so that everything knew just how pissed I was. *lol*

I did, however, get to see a nifty rainbow. Or a rainflat, since this one is a little less concave than most.

And this lovely picture was taken the day that I had to spend all day on the phone with our IT guys in Red Stick, waiting for them to get their collective heads out of their collective butts so they could tell me why our new router (pictured above the old one, below) wasn't working right.

Please note that I was taking all safety precations, and had the copper anti-static device attached.

You will also note the slightly dazed expression that has befallen me, having spent three hours of a Friday workday (casual day, hence the jeans and "In Mullet We Trust" T-shirt,) on the telephone with a bunch of guys who need to be hammered into a thin paste and fed to the wild pigs that roam the outskirts of Baton Rouge looking for piles of gooey IT guys who haven't the foggiest notion of what they're doing and as such have been beaten into gruel by the people who depend on them for fully-operational computer systems.

(Photo courtesy of Vulgar Wizard, who did nothing to warn me that I look like I have a beer belly in that shirt (which I do, only not from beer) and that I might want to at least TRY to suck it in so that I could look stupid but at least a tiny bit in shape.)

Regal Monkey, please also note that I was careful to NOT dis on your hubbie, who I'm assuming is a GOOD IT guy and who therefore needs to get a job with my company so he can whip these pseudo-geeks into shape.

What a handsome cuss. His parents sure must be proud of him right about now.

Talkies Tuesday - Nowhere To Go, All Day To Get There

this is an audio post - click to play

I have the creeping suspicion that I might be putting Talkies Tuesday out of it's misery any day now. *grin* I think perhaps it's outlived it's usefulness.

The thing being, it's time for you to tell me--is it worth it? Or is it time to bid it a fond adieu and move on? Comment me, do.