Jul 31, 2006

Let Me Be Blunt

A warning--this is not a happy post.

In backwards chronological order:

I have been emotionally wrapped up in the forthcoming trip to Oregon to get my daughter home for the school year, as usual. And as usual, it's not showing on the outside, but it's showing in the quality of my work. VW had to correct a lot of errors from my logging last week and this, and it really bothers me that I'm slipping that bad. To make matters worse, Detroit is in Michigan attending to her grandmother's arrangements for probably another day or so, and has been since Friday, so the work is starting to get that tsunami-height wave thing going on, and yes I'm not working 100%, it'a rare that I do, but I'm as engaged at work as I ever get and it's still piling up.

The big one was that the UPS man forged my signature on that brown pc tablet thing they carry. Right in front of my face. I'm sitting here at my desk with my hand out like an idiot, waiting for him to hand me the tablet, he takes his fingernail, makes a scribbled line across the signature pad, punches my name in, makes a crude, stupid joke about the heat, and leaves.

And yes, I called UPS main line, and was angry with the lady there, and was angry with the local depot manager, and I told them that I refused to have this fuckstick in my office anymore. They said they'd have to get me in contact with their warehouse guy, who never called me back. Today should be interesting. If that jackass shows his face in my office tomorrow with my medical supplies, he's going to NEED medical supplies.

Thirdly, or firstly, depending on in which direction you're traveling throug time, I've decided that I want to be a Clinical Manager. You see, our Clinical Manager, Butter Troll RN decided today that her roughly $50K a fucking year job is so important that she's allowed to wear headphones at work and listen to an AUDIOBOOK while doing her job.

MBFN.

Must.
Be.
Fucking.
Nice.

Hell people, I'd sit there at my desk and breathe through my mouth and listen to an audiobook for MY wages, no need to pay me a big salary. Hell, I'd even do it on WEEKENDS! Are you listening, Adrenaline Junkie? While you're out doing RA things, your CM is sitting on her extremely large ass listening to BOOKS ON FUCKING TAPE.

I wrote all that last night--this morning's reasoning? Apparently the tape was due back in the library today, and she wanted to be sure to get it turned back in, to keep "the library police" from catching her.

You're responsible for the lives of 130 or so patients of ours, but that's secondary to making sure your library record stays clean.

More later. I'm already seething again.

Anal Foliage Insertion And Too Many Tentacles

Okay, so this week started off nicely--I nearly fell out of the window at 6am.

See, I woke up with the alarm at 6am, as usual, but this morning instead of just slugging out of bed and stumbling to the bathroom I stopped for a moment to stretch. I don't usually stop en route, but I guess I slept crooked last night. Facing the bed, hands on the waist-high mattress, I gave a big, soul-satisfying stretch. Big enough that my blood pressure, already naturally low and lower because I had just gotten up, dropped drastically. Like, to nothing. My head spun, my knees went week, and I started stumbling wildly around in the 2' width betwixt the wall and my side of the bed. I think I yelped a little bit when when I realised I was falling, I know I yelped when I realised that the possibility of me falling out of the bedroom window was looming powerful large in my future.

MD: "So tell me again, Mr. Irrelephant, how you managed to get an entire azalea bush rammed up your arse?"
Irr: "Well, you see, Doc, I was stretching..."


Moscow News: When Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to do an internet only interview, Russian online users suggested 162,000+ questions for him. He answered 40. In the webcast he declared that the United States is "one of our main partners in the world," but dodged questions about when he lost his virginity, whether he'll legalize marijuana, and 3,000 people who wanted to know when Cthulhu, a fictional monster octopus that lives on the ocean bottom, might re-awaken.

He didn't answer questions about grass, sex, or The Elder Ones. Damn man, where are your priorities?

Jul 30, 2006

Where The Scalpel Touches Skin

Like any lancing of an old, long-infected wound, I'll warn you now that this post:

  • Will not be pretty
  • Will likely not be funny
  • Will probably be painful for at least one of us
  • Will include a certain amount of pus
  • Will make me feel better in the long run
  • And will likely piss some people off
  • And I don't give a fuck if it does


A little 'splaining.

Way back in the day, I was in college. While I was in college, I was a lost, lonely, confused young man. Younger than most, not in physical years but in mental growth. While I was in college, I was approached by several guys who were members of one of the only two frats in that tiny, private, ingrown college. And yes, I said "frats." I was told that since I never call my country a "cunt" then I should never call my fraternity a "frat." Fuck that, fratboy. I don't respect you guys, didn't then, don't now, both as individuals and as a group.

This group called itself TAK, and consisted mainly of the outcasts of this public college--the guys who listened to metal, the ones who didn't cut their hair, the ones who enjoyed being drunk. What they were doing at podunk Louisiana College is beyond me, but I was there too. No accounting for how things run sometime.

So, I was approached, with about six other guys, and we were the pledge class. Within the first few weeks all but two had dropped out, and if I had been smart I would have dropped out, too. But no, me and a really nice guy named Bart were in it for the long haul. I'm not sure why Bart was there, he seemed like he had his shit together, but me, I was there to prove to these bastards that I was tougher than they were.

I got hazed. Surprise there. Nothing physically violent, just riding around the campus in the back of a truck in very cold weather at midnight wearing only underwear and shoes, singing mildly vulgar songs at the top of our lungs. Oh, and wearing a blue and white meshback with the letters "TAK" on it, only each letter was cut in half, longways. See, since we weren't actually brothers, we couldn't wear the 'official' greek, and couldn't say the name, so we were forced to say "Tu Uh Kuh," and shout "We're TAK pledges and we're fired up." This was scheduled to last twelve weeks during the days, one night a week, and then Hell Week.

During the day we had to do the usual pledge things, like call every brother "sir" when we saw them, and do lame things like carry bunches of bananas to class with us. We had to be exactly like each other, Bart and I, something we never failed to fail at. We had to carry little blue notebooks which had to be exact, even if one of the brothers scribbled some crap in it. The point being, we had to have a lot of contact with each other, which never worked, because I had a job and was a commuter, and frankly didn't care that much.

We were forced to eat pledge food on the weekly two to three hour-long midnight endurance trials, being carried here and there blindfolded and wearing only underwear in the back of an old Toyota pickup, the pride of one of the frat boys. We always had plege food on these trips, which was always something nasty, like canned dog food (bland and chunky) or pickled pig's feet (nasty and slimy.) We would be brought to dark places in the woods and left, threatened that we'd be abandoned. We would have to chase ping-pong balls into dark lakes, and be told that we were about to jump blindfolded onto a pile of thumbtacks that were pointed up, spelling out "TAK,' so that we'd have the letters scarred into our soles. We even got to meet UPA, a fat alumni whom they called the Ultimate Pledge Adventure; an older guy who liked leaping about, yelling and slapping his bare chest, being stupid and trying to scare young kids. He grew up (?) later and became a lawyer. Suiting, somehow.

And yes, I was a scared kid. I let it all get to me, or most of it. And some part of me still wanted to be part of that, wanted to dish out that sort of abuse to someone else. And some part of me hated them, and wanted to beat them at their own game. And the last pledge night of twelve, right before what they called "Hell Week" I finally got smart and quit. I wish I had stayed for one reason--Bart got to chase golfballs in front of the girl's dorms wearing a cow suit. THAT looked like a lot of fun, something I would have enjoyed, but no, the rest of the stupid shit had finally gotten my goat so bad I simply tossed it all in.

I knew as well as anyone else that it was a mind fuck. A bad one, a poorly-assembled one performed by about six guys who were as much brothers as two strangers, bound by the tri-fold cord, or whatever the secret thing was. Yawn. They were performing empty annoyances in the hopes of binding Bart and I to each other, and to them, in the ages-old rituals of abuse, hardship, and repressed homosexuality. Why else would we spend one night each week naked except for tighty-whiteys? Our health?

The thing that most gets me? I wanted to be a part of this. I wanted to be liked, wanted to be accepted by strangers, to be brought into a sort of secret boy's club, hang out in the clubhouse, know all the secret handshakes. And yes, they had a secret handshake. They had a meeting place, they had rituals, in short it was everything you do as an 8 year old kid playing with the neighborhood kids, only this was adults. Some part of me wanted to be afraid of doing something so awful I'd be blackballed, which was represented by an 8-ball that someone had likely stolen from the Student Union, and stuck in a whiskey glass with some black silk, so that they could perform the cool parlor trick of pulling the silk so that the ball would float to the top of the glass. And me, the scared kid, wanting to belong, went along.

What brought all this on? What, you ask, makes me suddenly need to pour out my heart to you guys? It's shameful, and this is the part where I get to hurt a bit, to get through to the other side. When I was putting together my MySpace page, which I rarely if ever visit, under the "colleges" part, where it said "Greek," I put TAK. I knew I wasn't a member, knew I had bailed the last week, but still, some part of me, some scarred little bit of me still wanted to belong, still wanted to be accepted by a group of men who were virtual strangers. And naturally there was some part of me that knew I was completely foolish, but I left it there.

And what do you know, one of those cretins who pledged me found the link, and confronted me with legal action if I didn't remove it, which I did, because I remember that UPA is now a small-time lawyer, a small frog in a smaller pond, and it simply wasn't worth teasing the dogs for the barking. And, they had me dead to rights.

But in a way, it was good. It made me face that scar, made me drag out my soul and really give it a good look, specifically at that part of me that wanted to belong, the part of me that still needs to be a part of something larger than myself. Made me drag it out in the light and let it all go.

My only regret? I wish I had joined the armed forces instead of going to college. At least that way I would have been given a professional mind fuck, instead of some grab-astic attempt by a bunch of gits whose frat, as I recall, had their charter pulled by the college the year after that naive, lost pledge woke up.

Jul 29, 2006

This Ought To Be Weird

I seem to have been tagged by none other than the one, the only, Des Moines Girl. Well, I'm assuming there's more than one girl in Des Moines, but this is The Des Moines Girl.

1. One book that changed your life:
Oh yes, let's start out with an easy one. I think the book that most impressed me the first time I read it was Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451". I read it while I was still quite young, maybe 10 or so, and loved it as science fiction. I've since read it, oh, I'm sure thirty or forty times since, and each time it strikes me just as hard as it did the first time. It's rare for a book to seriously disturb me, but Fahrenheit does it.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
See above. Also, Phillip K. Dick's "Blade Runner, or, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep," most of Dr. Asimov's fiction, all of Heinlein's books at least five times, Sir A. C. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes canon, all of Franz Kafka's stories, Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes," along with the rest of his corpus, Gene Wolfe's Torturer series, all of William Gibson's books, all of Neal Stephenson's works, a fair bit of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series, most all of the Lovejoy series by Jonathan Gash, Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, Norman Spinrad's "The Void Captain's Tale," all of Tolkein's masterpieces, and oh the list goes on and on. Neither you nor me have time to read it all. Heh...that's a pun, kinda.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Marcel Proust's "In Search Of Lost Time/Remembrance Of Things Past" I'd like to have a good reason to read that entire magnificient beast, and the time to really dig into it deep.

4. One book that made you laugh:
"The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul," by Douglas Adams. Marvelous good stuff.

5. One book that made you cry:
Had to be Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes." His writing resonates in me so deeply, so thoroughly that when I'm through with it I weep because I've lost those golden days of my childhood, when I ran everywhere I went and everything was still new and bright and unsullied.

6. One book that you wish had been written:
"The Definitive Guide To The Human Spirit, with colour pictures." Or, Adolph Hitler's "Why I Done It."

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
I don't know that I could wish non-existance on a book, even if it's horrid.

8. The book you are currently reading:
"The Complete Works of H. G. Wells." Bought it in hardcover at Waldenbooks for $5, and have been immersing myself in some of the most wonderful Victorian science fiction I have ever enjoyed.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Good lord...not just one. "Meaning And Nothingness," all of the big classics like "War And Peace" and "Moby Dick" and "Great Expectations," and oh lord...too many...head hurts...going to explode...

10. Now tag five people:
Bored Housewife,
The Ivory Pen,
Vulgar Wizard,
Leesepea and
Mickey Glitter!

Jul 28, 2006

A Rare Devil Doll Indeed

So I find out that D-Man is not only going on vacation with, I assume, the entire D-Family, he's not British.

Bugger that for a lark, that's false advertising!

So anyway, this is going to be one of those amalgamation posts, because I don't exactly have one complete, coherent post in mind, but I do have lots of little interesting gobbets and chunks to toss you, so Sit. Stay. Read.

Does the name "Pavlov" ring a bell?



Oh, Bravo! Encore! Encore!


I have to mention to you a very cool site if you like classical music, which I do. If you don't, well, skip a bit.

ClassicCat.com is a very cool place indeed. It's just links to pages and pages of free classical music. Damn, how can you go wrong? Me, I can't decide what to download first. But don't worry, I'm making up for lost time by downloading everything I can find.

Wot, me greedy?


ed. If you don't like donkeys, then you might want to skip this bit, too.

When Donkeys Attack


I never knew this, but found out today that donkeys, those lovable old critters are also excellent guardians of the young. Donkeys will willingly guard the young of other species, be they goats, sheep, what have you. If a donkey is in a pasture with little ones and the group is attacked by a predator, most parents will flee the area, leaving the little 'uns to fend for themselves. Donkeys, however, will defend the little ones from predation, by whatever happens along.

Brilliant! I'm going to have to get the pasture finished and buy me a jenny before I get my goat herd, that's all there is to it.


ed. If you don't like work or very strange metaphors (or sailing ships) you might want to scroll on down.

Take This Job And Put It Somewhere Uncomfortable, Like The Back Of A Volkswagon


Work. Bleugh. It's been...heh. Interesting. As in the Chinese curse. Detroit is in Michigan ("No!" I hear you say...hah.) at her grandmother's funeral, so VW and I are gamely struggling along. Yesterday was insane fun, for some reason we both took leave of our senses around about 1, and the rest of the day was a giggling snort-fest. Today, hoping to recapture that mood, I failed miserably. VW was up to her slender neck in piles of charts, the Butter Troll is preparing, we think, to go critical mass, which if you've seen BT you know that's a lot of mass I'm talking about, and it was Friday, so we were all tense and anxious to get out and get on with our weekend lives.

But, the good news is that P-Diddy, our new Director, actually has his head out of his ass and is using it. Outstanding! Things are changing. Slowly, but changing. I think of it as someone trying to turn an old three-masted sailing ship: before any turning happens there's a lot of running around and yelling and buckets of tar being knocked over and sheep chased out of the way, and people getting billhooks stuck in their eyes, and sails unspooling all over the place suffocating sailors and pushing them over the railings into the shark-infested ocean and the masts are all falling off before everything comes together like a well-oiled machine running way past it's RPM range with a dry oil pump, just seconds before it flings itself into a thousand red-hot pieces of shrapnel that goes scything through the air into the powder kegs that were stacked on the one wall, and the mountains of oily rags that were piled beside those powder kegs, and let's not forget the huge open cans of gasoline that someone forgot to seal up and store elsewhere.

Yeah, something like that.


ed. If you don't like birds, well, we're at the end of the post, so you can just sod off.

I Know A Hawk From A Handsaw


The red-tailed hawks have been out and about a great deal, and I just wanted to mention that seeing a Red-Tailed Hawk, fierce airborne predator that they are, sitting on a high-tension line in the middle of a pouring down rainstorm can be both the most sadly comical thing you could possibly imagine until you realise that it's STILL HUNTING, and is simply waiting for a rabbit to creep out of the field, or a big rat to leap out and run across the road between fields or, failing that, maybe a really dumb guy in a truck might stop and roll down the window to get a better view.

Nature really, REALLY scares me sometimes.



And now, some lyrics.

A SAILOR AIN'T A SAILOR (The Last Shanty)
(Oscar Brand)

Well, me father often told me, when I was just a lad,
A sailor's life was very hard, the food was always bad.
But now I've joined the Navy, I'm onboard a Man o' War
And now I found a sailor ain't a sailor any more.

(Chorus)

Don't haul on the rope. Don't climb up the mast.
If you see a sailing ship it might be your last.
Just get your civvies ready for another run ashore.
A sailor ain't a sailor ain't a sailor any more.

(Chorus)

We've nearly got a mess. He says we have it soft.
It wasn't like this in his day when he was up aloft.
We like our bunks and sleeping bags, but what's a hammock for?
Swinging from the deckhead or lying on the floor?

(Chorus)

Well, they gave us an engine that first went up and down.
Then with more technology the engine went around.
We know of steam and diesel but what's a mainyard for?
A stoker ain't a stoker with a shovel any more.

(Chorus)

Well, they gave us an Aldis lamp so we can do it right.
They gave us a radio we signal day and night.
We know our codes and ciphers, but what's a semaphore?
A bunting tosser doesn't toss the bunting any more.

(Chorus)

Two cans of beer a day and that's your bleeding lot.
Now we get an extra one because they've stopped the tot.
So we'll put on our civvy clothes and find a pub ashore.
A sailor's still a sailor just like he was before.

(Chorus)

Probably copyright to someone or other.

Jul 26, 2006

Talkies Tuesday - The Lost Episodes




this is an audio post - click to play




Since Audioblogger dropped the ball yesterday, I thought today as a make-up it'd be nice to look back over where we've come since I started this ball rolling, way back in 1811. Hope you enjoy.

Jul 25, 2006

Roight.

After much deliberation, smart-assed ideas, and a new set of batteries for the elderly Nikon I own, I dusted off my most prized possession, The Black Bowler. For you see, I have uploaded a picture of the new/old/new again goatee, for your enlightenment, elucidation, illumination, stereotypisation, cariacturisation, and capitalisation.

And also your foolish lack of use of the letter "zed."

Yes that's right, Irrelephant, sans the aborted attempt at a full beard.

I know, I can just HEAR your little hearts beating.


The picture.


Face it, it's the truth--Vulgar Wizard makes me diabolical.

Talkies Tuesday Lite - Now With Zero Content!





(The post hasn't shown up yet. It's probably ashamed to show itself.)





Yes kids, that's right, new Talkies Tuesday Lite, guaranteed same lame format, but now with absolutely no filler! That's right, nothing! Empty as the space between most people's ears, guaranteed to not get you laid faster than a raging case of syphillis, and at what cost? Mere minutes of your time.

That's right, new Talkies Tuesday Lite. Can you tell I didn't shoot the moon with this one?

Officially Freaked Out Now

Okay, so Monday's facial hair post has generated more bizarre comments than I think any post of mine ever for the past two years, and trust me, I've posted some doozies.

I mean, I know I have some strange friends. I like it that way. I know I have some strange readers. I like it that way, too. I like it when the girl faces...wait, no, this is a PG post. Sorry about that.

So.

Nancy Dancehall started off with...

(LaVey AND Dita...I'm impressed! Quick...what's their connection?) Ok, so post a picture already. Let's see the new look.

Probably the only semi-normal comment, under the circumstances, and she still hasn't answered the question, so I'm on the edge of my chair. *sigh* Women.

Then I had to be a smartass and say...

She likes guys with creepy beards? I would think it's Manson--she married the goof, and he's probably LaVey's son, or thinks he is. Unless LaVey was once a champagne glass burlesque stripper, in which case I REALLY don't want to know. Picture, eh? Hmmmmmmm.

Yeah, I'm cute that way.

And then my dear friend/adopted daughter/boss Vulgar Wizard pipes up with...

I made you look diabolical AND it attracted girls who like strange men. I saw it do both. I was there. It was interesting.

Dante would say that he's not supposed to wear a beard today and go to work with it untrimmed and sticking out all over the place with a clump of oatmeal just under the chin, presumably tucked away for safe keeping.

For the record, I'm all for the handlebar. THAT would be BUUUUUUHHHHHHNNNNNNNNGGGGGGG!!!!!

Wow. I don't even know where to begin. Sarcasm, Kevin Smith, and a cameo from Jay.

And then she jumped back into the fray with...

Oh, I meant IT made you look diabolical . . . can you fix that???

Unfortunately I can't, but I can bring it to EVERYONE'S attention, how about that? And I was so hoping it was YOU that made me look diabolical.

And then the real crazies come out. HannibaltheHampster said...

I'm with VW, you should definitely do a handlebar. And then you should always wear a bike bell and ring it every five minutes.
And wear a pink and white basket around your waist. And put a doll in it!
THAT would be awesome. I'd take pictures. : )

Whoa. That's completely freaking me out. Because I would so do it, in a heartbeat.

And then like a shot out of the blue, my dear Liz said...

I'm feeling all inspired by this post and growing mine back, too - in your honor ;o)

(Eastern European genes be damned!)

Uhm...for those of you who don't know, Liz is the pretty lady at This Full House, blogrolled there on the sidebar, who is a mother of several adorable children.

And she's going to grow her moustache back out.

For me.

I am SO freaking out.

The last time I freaked out this bad was when I met Mrs. Jones, our PE teacher back in 4th grade. She had such an impressive moustache. When she got angry it would flail at the wind,and I swear I once saw her trip a student running across the gym with it's trailing tips. And now Liz...

Oh my stars and garters, I need to sit down somewhere quiet.

Jul 23, 2006

Everything New Is Old Again

Or is it What Has Gone Around Will Come Around Again...something something...ta te tum tum ta te tem then the 18 minute drum solo...

Doesn't matter.

Like Dante Hicks, I have realised that sometimes it's okay to go back to where you were, or to stay in the same place. Except my change of life (or return back to life the way it was before it changed to the way it used to be up until about twenty minutes ago) involves a beard and not any sort of life-choice, like whether or not to marry Mrs. Kevin Smith or your overly friendly boss.

No, really.

You see, the day I got out of high school, I started a lot of things. One of those things was to enter onto the road of Facial Hair Ownership. I carefully weighed all the options, from the ultra-glamourous Vincent Price pencil-thin moustache all the way to a Dan Haggerty broom (pre-heroine fire,) and I ended up with a sort of full Dutch Masters moustache and goatee combo which did a few things for me, or so I thought:



Well, it did two of the six. I'll leave it up to you to decide which. It'll be more fun for you and less depressing for me if I didn't reveal the truth.

So I wore that beard since 1985, with only one and a half years off (pun intended) while I served a sentence in Heck (aka Sutherland's Lumber.) And for those of you who care enough to follow this blog on a monthly or thereabouts basis, you might recall me saying something about never shaving on weekends, and deciding that since the Perdido Key vacation was, in essence, a nine day weekend I would use the time constructively, ie in constructing a full beard.

Now what I did not mention above was that when I was still a wee bairn and was still using my beard training wheels I tried a full beard. My father would grow one every winter for deer hunting season, on the grounds that it:


  • made him look diabolical

  • attracted deer who liked strange men

  • helped keep his chin warm in winter

  • was abominable to my mother



Well, at least two of those are true. My mom hated it, and it kept his face warm, as well as keeping his bare cheeks from startling deer. My father was nut-brown from the sun so I don't know how a deer could have mistaken his cheeks for anything other than part of a tree trunk, but he was the hunter, not me.

When his beard grew in, it did so in about two days, and was instantly as thick and luxurious as a racoon coat. His hair was always military-short, and salt-and-pepper grey, and his beard would grow in the most handsome iron-grey colour, with white and black shot all through it. He's keep it combed neatly, and trimmed it regularly.

So of course, I had to aim for that lofty goal. But unfortunately, my mother's French bare-faced genes hit me pretty hard, and while I could manage a pretty impressive set of muttonchop sideburns and a fine grown of chin hair my cheeks always failed miserably to fill out. So, abandoning hope, I went with the chin-whiskers.

Years passed. Florida came and imbued me with it's sunshine powers, and I launched out on the Full Beard Crusade. Things did well for a while, the hair ensued, and my hirsute desires were fulfilled--a passable full beard. Granted a little thin over the middle jawbone, but with time and careful training I assured myself I could make it work.

And to be quite frank? I got tired of it. Too much work, honestly. I thought for sure that having a full beard would cut down on shaving time, but no, it only increased it, because I had more, careful trimming to do. Scissoring was a nightmare, because there was so darn much of it. And still, the middle was thin, so I looked like I had grown a huge set of sideburns to go with my goatee and moustache, and had gotten some chocolate milk or dirt or something down my jawbones.

So this afternoon, after careful examination and much soul-searching, and asking myself WWDHD* I went ahead and trimmed the extra foliage off, revealing my old, tried-and-true, diabolical, strange woman attracting self. Smooth cheeked, short sideburned, and ginger and grey chinny-chin-chin. And I'm cool with that. I like my setup the way it is (again,) and I shan't get any more strange looks from people who were accustomed to me being clean-cheeked, but who were too ashamed to ask me if I had grown a beard or if I had been wallowing in a bowl of chocolate pudding powder and forgotten to wash.

So. Welcome back, goatee. Hello again, moustache. Next month? Perhaps I'll just shave off the goatee and start on a pair of Daliesque handlebar mousatches. How exciting!

____________________________
* What Would Dante Hicks Do?

Just Because You've Got A Gat In The Hand

You think you've got the monkey's fist by the tail.

Wow. Do you realise that there's NO human way to make Raymond Chandler and The Monkey's Fist knot into a coherent, reasonably cool entry line for a blog post?

Yup, I'm stumped. I'm also probably certifiable.

You see, it's Raymond Chandler's birthday, the man whom I regard as the finest American writer ever. And I dare you to tell me otherwise, because I'm packing a gat and I'm not afraid to use it.

"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness."


And, I discovered a cool site, which is not hard to do on the internet if you've got a bizarre sense of humour and just saw Pirates of the Caribbean II. The Monkey Fist. These people do knots. My stars and garters, it's AMAZING what you can sell on the internet if you put your mind to it. Me, I've already bought like seventeetn of them. I hope to have a complete collection of all the colours they offer, in each style.

Piracy, here I come.

Jul 21, 2006

Lowbrow Humour

And I'm fairly certain that only I found this funny, and fairly certain that my "street cred," as the kids call it, is going to suffer for this, but hey, everyone wants to feel that there's someone in the hole whide whirled that is lamer than they are.

So.

Being in a small office, we have to make a lot of our own fun, because very little comes from outside. So we do things like call one of our sister-office marketer's "Skeletor" because he looks like his skull is about to pop out of his face. We stick strange things to our monitors, like FRAGILE stickers, and homemade buttons that say "Back to your bridge evil troll, you have no powers here" or "Please feel free to shut the fuck up." We pick unmercifully on each other. We pick unmercifully on patients who have the bad luck to have a last name that sounds just like "skull." We call Cankle that because, well, quite frankly she has ankles thicker than MY calves. We even bring sliced bread into the office and walk behind Butter Troll waiting for...okay, so we don't do that. Yet. It's a good idea though, you gotta admit. Who needs margarine when you got the real thing!

But I digress, in a vain attempt to pad this post with some humour.

Being in a medical office, we have to keep shred boxes handy at every desk, for any paper or label or anything that has patient information on it. The shred box of choice around here is an empty paper case box, and once a week I take it upon myself to walk the office collecting these boxes, all of which get dumped into a big locking container.

Today I further took it upon myself to walk around the office shouting in my best Monty Python peasant voice "Bring out your shred. Clang. Bring out your shred. Clang." Admittedly it would have been better if I had some sort of off-key bell to ring instead of just saying "clang," and maybe if I had worn some homespun, and if I had been all covered in shite, but hey, we do what we can, right?

The Morning That Time Forgot

That sounds suitably heavy, doesn't it? Let's hope the post stands up to it, or we're going to have one heck of an icing-covered pancake. *grin*

This morning was one of Those mornings. The sort of morning where, upon setting wheel upon road, you get the feeling that you could happily ride for the rest of your life, just not stop until you run out of ground. The weather was just right--it's still in the low 70's at night, thanks to the surprising rainfall we've been getting, and this being Louisiana there was still shrouds and strips of fog rising from the ground, so it was ghostly and cool. I never got out of fourth gear, I was so unready to rush to anywhere. I had an hour to travel four miles, and while the temptation was strong to take the long way to work, say, via Little Rock, I took the straight and narrow.

It was one of those rides where everything seems to be just right. No traffic, perfect cool touches in the air, no rush to be anywhere, to do anything. I could have powered along at a bracing forty miles an hour to anywhere this morning, and been perfectly happy just to be riding. And I was. It reminds me of the days I used to ride to Baton Rouge to visit a friend there--I'd always take the back roads, the ones that twined and twisted through little towns so small you'd think they were put there solely for the purpose of selling boiled peanuts, questionable antiques out of run-down houses, and handmade dolls. The kind of road that roams in and out of swamps and soybean fields, the kind of road that invites you to drive forty miles an hour because there won't be anybody behind you for days.

It's going to be a good day.

Jul 19, 2006

Ride To Work Day

I am one of the millions of sufferers who ride a motorcycle daily whose ride is often limited to back and forth to work, as time does not permit a lot of extracurricular riding.

BUT!

Today is Ride To Work Day, a celibration of two wheels which I have little trouble living. So. If you've got a bike, ride it today.

********







To: All Motorcycle and Scooter Riders
From: RideToWork.org
Subject: Ride to Work Day

Ride to Work Day is tomorrow. We hope you will ride to work, ...or just for fun, ...or for your errands. And we hope you will tell your riding and non-riding friends about the event (please forward this message). Any ride from A to B is important, especially on Ride to Work Day, when all riders can help increase awareness about the benefits of riding. If you'd like to know more, please see http://www.ridetowork.org. In addition, a one hour podcast interview about Ride to Work Day with event organizer Andy Goldfine is available at http://www.ridetowork.org or http://motocast.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=110863. Your support and participation will make a positive difference for motorcycling.

Safety notice: Some parts of the country tomorrow will be extremely hot. Do not participate if you have any concerns about your health or your ability to do so safely, especially regarding the temperature and weather conditions in your area. Remember to drink plenty of water, and possibly wear a wet bandanna around your neck for cooling (etc.).


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ride to Work Day, a 501 c4 nonprofit organization, can be reached at:
POB 1072, Proctor, Minnesota, 55810 USA
http://www.ridetowork.org
218 722 9806
Christine Holt chold@ridetowork.org
Andy Goldfine agoldfine@ridetowork.org
Ride to Work Day Mission Statement:
To advocate and support the use of motorcycles for transportation, and to provide information about transportation riding to the public.
Affiliated Ride to Work Day Countries:
Germany, Philippines, England, Germany, France, Israel, Turkey, Ecuador, United States, and many others.
Newsletter:
Sample issues of 'The Daily Rider' newsletter are available for download at:
http://www.ridetowork.org/dailyrider
History:
A brief history of Ride to Work Day is available for viewing at:
http://www.ridetowork.org/history
Fact Sheet:
A transportation motorcycling fact sheet is available at:
http://www.ridetowork.org/facts
RTW Day Photos and Artwork:
Motorcycle commuting photos, ads, posters, banners, photos, illustrations and other artwork is available for view and download at:
http://www.ridetowork.org/art

Jul 18, 2006

Talkies Tuesday - The Importance Of Being Handy




this is an audio post - click to play




Join us today as:

Irrelephant discusses the relevant issues surrounding HVAC.

Vulgar Wizard delves deeply into the ramifications of pull chains vs remote controls.

Hannibal The Hamster answers your burning questions about tossing children in and out of ceiling fan blades, if she joins us this week.

Strange Cousin Susan quests for the perfect ceiling fan, again, if she joins us this week.

and

Leesepea gives us her always unique viewpoint on Enzo and keeping cool this summer.

Sweating this summer? Then join us and we'll all be sweaty together!

Jul 16, 2006

I'm Not Afraid Of Dying, Anytime Will Do

Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, died about a week ago of complications from diabetes. He was sixty years old.

Syd was a recluse for most of 35 years, after launching Pink Floyd into the limelight. The group had two hits under Syd, "See Emily Play" and "Arnold Lane." After Syd hit the wall of mental breakdown and drug abuse and became a hermit, Roger Waters stepped up and became the band's driving force through quite a few landmark albums. When Roger Water split with the band, David Gilmore became the lead, and Pink Floyd went on to finish securing their place as rock legends, invincible.

What bugs the ever-loving shit out of me is the media storm that has surrounded Syd's death. He was a recluse, and as such his affliction, his illnesses and his lack of presence drove Roger Waters to amazing creative heights. Did anyone realise this? Yes. Did anyone ever think to try and find Syd? No. Was any effort made to mention the long-forgotten founder? No. But suddenly he's dead, and the name "Syd Barrett" is mentioned twenty times a day on radio, television, and the internet. CNN carried the story, and VH1 went so far as to dig up a dusty video of "Pulse," the tour touting the album "The Divison Bell" and have been playing it like a cart driver whipping a dead horse.

Why is it that we can't enjoy what we have when we have it? Even though Syd shunned every sort of attention, aided by his parents, he was still alive. He was overweight, drug-addled, and as mad as a ten-day bicycle racer, but he was still there. Did anyone know about him? Only hard-core Floydians. Now suddenly every mother's child knows the name and a sixty second synopsis.

I guess it's true, that anyone can be famous after their dead.


"And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it, you've gotta go sometime."

"If you can hear this whispering you are dying."

"I never said I was frightened of dying."

Jul 14, 2006

Sweet Jeebus

Oh yeah, I've been working too hard this week.

The important signs/symptoms* that I've been at work too long, working too hard, or otherwise letting work get to me? The telephone.

The phone rang here in my office.

Now keep in mind that I have a replica of the old bakelite phones from the 50's, so there's no blinking lights or multiple lines, no hold button or anything stranger than a clever faux rotary dial. I answer, it's the MIL, wanting to talk to "her offspring." Her words, not mine. *shrug* So, I cup my hand over the receiver so I don't yell in her ear and call through the office door "Hon, your Mom's..." and I swear to Jeebus that I almost said "...on line one."

I stumbled through an awkward "...on duh the phone."

I need to sleep. I swear I saw the planet Jupiter driving a big Buick Landyacht on the road home today. Who does he think he is, a god or something?

By Jove...
____________________
* That's nursespeak, usually written as S/S** on paperwork.

** And isn't it a warning sign that I'm so familiar with the shorthand that I'm using it in a BLOG POST? Gold-plated seventeen foot Jeebus on a firetruck, I'm not a nurse, I don't even play one on the phone.

Vive la France!

Happy Bastille Day to one and all!

Okay, so honestly, no I'm not usually such a francophile; I can barely stand driving through Lafayette because all the streets are called "Rue" something or other, and every place name is French, and even the Burger Kings are called "Le Maison Boeuf Rex,*" but I've got a fair bit of French blood in me so I guess I have to at least mention that today is Bastille Day.

Ah, Bastille Day. The day that thousands of icky, smelly, leprous, flea-infested peasants stormed the Bastille, the prison which the French royals used to imprison other icky, smelly, leprous, flea-infested peasants, and thus the French Revolution was launched, soon guaranteeing that France would no longer be ruled by flea-covered, smelly, inbred, syphillitic people in huge wigs, silly shoes, tights and neck ruffles, and would instead be ruled by flea-covered, smelly, inbred, syphillitic commoners with no wigs, cardboard shoes, homespun pants and neck wattles. And those ridiculous red hats. And those outrageous accents.

Which, as an aside, is I believe the last time that the French people ever stood up for anything.

I will give them this: they did, in the person of Dr. Guillotine devise a way to make the wholesale slaughter of bluebloods a fast, easy, efficient, and very spectator-friendly sport. A tisket, a tasket, a head in a basket, will answer no questions you ask it. Ah, French children. Makes me want to kill them all with laser-guided loaves of long, crusty bread.

And never once have I seen France produce a woman that looks remotely like that lovely busty Lady Freedom or whoever she is in that painting, wrapped in nothing but a flag, charging bravely forward in the face of adversity. For one thing, she's clean. And she seems to have shaved her armpits, and there's not a single pack of Galuoises anywhere on her. And every French woman I've ever seen is so skinny that you could use their hip bones as cheese knives. I'm starting to think that was all a put-up.

So.

Q: How many French soldiers does it take to defend France's borders?
A: Nobody knows. It's never been tried before.

I can say that because, as I mentioned above, I've got a fair bit of frog in me. Just ask anyone who has ever seen my butt. Proof positive. I'm also Scottish, though, which counterbalances the French nicely, and I've even got a smattering of Native American heritage in me, which serves to give me skin that tans easily, a handsomely large nose, and a propensity for raiding neighboring villages for horses, rifles and women.

Which makes for some fun road trips to Lafayette.
______________________
* The House Of The Meat King

Jul 13, 2006

Our IT Sucks

Every time our IT department takes down our system overnight for 'repairs and upgrades' it breaks something else. The next morning, when things should be bright and shiny and dusted off and sparkling new, NOTHING WORKS. This morning it's email and the internet that are crashed. No communications between offices, and no ordering medical supplies.

*shaking my fist at Baton Rouge* All IT guys (and girls) are barstards!

Oh, and happy birthday, Harrison Ford. Sorry I didn't get you anything, I didn't have your address.

Jul 12, 2006

From The Irrelephant Garden Notebook

Important note to self - certain vegetables and truck crops will, if given ample, soaking rainfall, plentiful sunlight, good soil, and a complete lack of gardners for a week will produce the following results:

Cucumbers. Cucumbers will, if left alone, produce fruit that is fully capable of pressing apart the wire in the fence that you used to hold them up off the ground for easy plucking. Also, fruit will become large enough that the fence will bend far enough to touch the ground. Perhaps cucumbers, upon reaching a certain mass begin to develop an instict to leave the parent plant.

Carrots. Planting carrots too close together will result in beautiful green tops which, when pulled, reveal a horrid, twisted mass of orange carrot bodies, crushed together in a viscerally uncomfortable single growth. Next time, plant carrots further apart.

Beets. See carrots. Unlike carrots, however, the closely planted beet fruits will simply press the smaller, weaker beets out of the ground, where they will lie wilting, piteously.

Corn. Corn is evil. Corn will grow some of the most bizarre looking things you have ever seen if left to it's own devices. Trust me on this one.

Eggplant. The adult eggplant er..., plant... will start off with a lovely little white flower. In one week it will grow something that looks amazingly like a Pod from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (the 70's version, pods with less veins and more hair) except for the purple colour. When hanging underneath the lovely foliage this purple appendage will look alarmlingly like a Triffid. Unlike a Pod or a Triffid, or even the evil million-year-old plant monster from The Thing, when plucked the gigantor eggplant will not scream. Fortunate, that.

Bellpepper. A bellpepper plant is not very large, even when adult. If ignored for a week, the plant will produce about a thousand fruits, each of which will grow to astonishing proportions. Instead of supporting and nourishing these fruits, the adult plant will simply allow all it's limbs to break off, leaving the fruits to fend for themselves. Interesting parenting technique.

Squash. The ordinary yellow crookneck squash plant will, given a week, grow an appendage that most reminds me of the vine that the aforementioned Triffid uses to strangle people. It will place this horrid, flower-covered appendage in the closest row and wait for you to pick the overripe yellow fruit. It will then take this opportunity to lash out with the appendage and strangle you. I'm assuming this on the basis that we cannot find the neck of our scarecrow anymore.

Okra. When young, the tender okra spears will snap off the parent plant with a gentle twist. When okra spears get over five inches, however, certain changes take place. The stem becomes barklike and will repel any attempt to snap, pull, tug, or otherwise manually remove the spear. Sharp kitchen knives will barely sever this trunk-like growth. Reccomend using limb-loppers. Also, take extra caution, as the okra-spear becomes remarkably sharp at the tip, and an incorrect tug while cutting will lead to a very embarrasing impalement, especially if the spear point was held at or near chest-level. Note: leave spear in, because once you remove it bleeding occurs quite rapidly.

Roma Tomatoes. First note--no matter what Papa Irrelephant never used, ALWAYS use tomatoe cages. Place cages on BEFORE plants are four feet tall and resistant to being shoved into a 6" conical space. Second note--with enough rain, Roma Tomatoe plants will make so many Roma tomatoes that the plant will quite literally die in shame rather than try to hold that many ripe tomatoes at one time.

Papillion dogs. Papillion dogs, unlike what most people believe, will change instantly from friendly, quiet, clean lapdogs into Dirt Papillions. This means that they will immediately leap into any open, wet mudhole and roll around, they will leap from row to row scattering dirt and weeds everywhere, and will find the stickiest, nastiest plant they can and roll on it. A lot.

Final note to self: look into another hobby.

Public Consumption

The public knows certain things only because they're advertised to us so constantly, so exclusively that most people think they are full of knowledge about something when in fact they're simply full.

Bose radios are not the best, not if you want music that sounds like it's being played live. If you ask any 'normal' person, they will tell you that Bose has the best music, even though they don't own one and likely don't even know that you will pay well over a grand for one of their 'reflective sound' systems.

Harley Davidsion motorcycles are not the only brand produced. If you tell a person who doesn't ride that you own a bike, 9 times out of 10 they will say "Oh, you ride a Harley?" To the uninitiated, every cruiser is a Harley, simply because Harley has covered us in their own brand of disinformation for so long that the Public has become brainwashed to the idea that every bike must be a Harley.

So this morning I got a real laugh, at someone else's expense. The best kind. *S*

THO, the annoying nurse, started yapping first thing when I walked in this morning, desperate to run her mouth about SOMETHING, and since I was the only available target then I was going to hear it. Seems a friend of hers placed a bid on a motorcycle selling on eBay, and won it. The key point, I gather, was that he then had to drive to Tennessee from here to get it. I didn't get the joke until she started to tell me what KIND of bike it was.

"And then he drove to Tennessee to get it, and his wife was SO angry at him and so they were all standing around when he drove up, and it was..." And yes, this is where I knew, KNEW she was going to say "...and it was a Harley and blah de blah." If you've ridden for more than three months, you've heard that. Everyone's friend has a Harley, everyone knows someone who has a Harley. It's always a Harley. Well, this time I was wrong. Boy was I.

"...standing around when he drove up, and it was dark red, and ..." and here she just stopped, seemingly out of oxygen. Me, I felt like I was climbing a set of stairs and had just put my foot down expecting another step which suddenly wasn't there. I almost laughed aloud. "And it was red." Bang. End of story. Salient point made, important issue covered.

Well. Dark red. I used to own a dark red. Loved that bike. I wept the day the dark red company closed it's doors.

Ride a dark red, ride the best.

Jul 11, 2006

Talkies Tuesday - Care And Feeding Of Your Pet Baby Grand




this is an audio post - click to play




Sorry I've no time for the extended foolishness, we're overdue at the SIL's birthday party.

And Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, was announced dead today at age 60 by a private spokesperson. No reason was given for his untimely demise. The spokesperson said that he died "several days ago," and the funeral was a private affair, so I'm assuming he died around Monday or thereabouts, and the funeral is already over.

Wot a complete barstard; he owed me 200 quid.

Now THAT'S What I Call Service!

As a brief wander-away from my post, Vulgar Wizard wishes everyone to know that she is temporarily without internet services, since she uses DSL and the telephone pole in front of her house has two feet of blackened top on it right now. Apparently a fuse has blown in the transformer, and Bell South is in no particular rush, even though her phone keeps calling 911 by itself and hanging up. No lie. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, no?

So. Service. Let me tell you all about world-class service from, no surprise here, our IT department down there in their little caves. This is the email I received this morning, after a call from an IT rep. in Baton Rouge:


*===* PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL!

The following issue was closed in __________:
To view this issue in detail, click HERE.

Issue #: 33439
Subject: Lost Word files
Status: Closed
Issue Type: Workstation
Priority: Standard
Location: ____ _____, LA
Organization: ________
Submitted By: Irrelephant on 06 Jun 2006 555-555-5555
Assigned To: Joe Bob Technician on 06 Jul 2006
Closed By: Joe Bob Technician on 11 Jul 2006

Solution:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
user was saving to desktop in roaming profile. let him know to save to my documents which is on home drieectory

Issue Description:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sometime today between approx. 10am and 1 pm I lost access to about twenty five files that I had saved over the course of the last year or so to my "desktop" on my profile. I am using a ____ terminal, and ordinarily to save items I would work my way up the folder tree and save the item at "My Desktop." Today when I tried to reaccess several of the items that I use on a daily basis I found that the entire list of items I stored there were gone.

My question is this--has there been some change in the system, or is my profile selectively erasing things? These files were used quite often, and had been saved because of that. Is there a way to retrieve them, ie a backup made somewhere? And if not, am I able to use the USB port in my ____ terminal to use a thumb drive? The loss of these files will result in me having to spend several hours trying to rebuild the files from memory, etc, and naturally I can't afford to be rebuilding these files repeatedly if this is going to be a reoccuring problem.


So, in other words, a month later, now that I've spent the past month rebuilding those lost files, the Official Answer is "Too bad, bruh. Next time save it in My Documents which you never could access before. Seems that for a year and a half there was access allowed you guys that you shouldn't have had."

And it took them a month to assign the problem, and five days more to tell me.

Mama said there'd be days like this. Me, all I wanna do is walk out of here, make a nice, leisurely drive to Baton Rouge, find the IT Department* offices, and clean it out with a flame thrower.

______________________
* I call them the "Eye-Dee-Ten-Tee" (ID10T) Department now. Seems more appropos.

Jul 10, 2006

Good Heavens, What's That? A Post?

You might have noticed that I haven't blogged yet today, and now that I am you can note by the time stamp that it's rather late for me.

I don't have an excuse to offer, except that I've been taken ill by some sort of intestinal parasite that has turned my insides to a sort of yellowish liquid. My bet is that I've got worms from eating too many raw cookie dough lumps at work.

Anyway.

It's been an interesting day, aggravation-wise. Mostly because I'm dealing with computers on a daily basis, and the rest of the way because Vulgar Wizard, my boss, is on vacation, and it's never nice to have your workforce lose 1/3 of it's horsepower, especially when that horse is the one in the driver's seat. So to speak.

It's difficult when you're a purveyour of metaphors and you're trying to make an interesting one but you go just a little too far in the connections and you end up just being confusing. I think I was trying to go somewhere with the whole horsepower/engine/driver's seat thing, but...pfui.

And before I forget, VW asked me to post this for her: Reason #2 That VW Shouldn't Go On Vacation. When VW is home hanging curtains in her new home, lightning is prone to strike the telephone/electric pole right outside her house and turn the transformer there into a huge firework, raining blue fire onto her front yard and turning off power for miles around, thereby preventing her from all connection with the outside world as well as turning off the A/C.

So anyway.

I get home to find out that my DirecTv system decided to go hare-brained, too. One receiver does nothing but turn off by itself, the second one receives about half the channels it should and tells me that it's searching for the sattelite signal on the other half of the channels.

I hate technology.

That's why I love my pipes.

You see, pipes don't plug in. They don't require batteries, or earphones. They're not Bluetooth compatible, and I can't get email on them. I can't even enter patient information on one.

And the funniest part of it is that not only can they not do all the above things, they also require a pretty fair investment in time, money, and attention to operate properly. A good pipe is not cheap, and when you own and smoke one you find that you have to tamp the tobacco as you smoke, and sometimes keep it lit if it's particularly damp. The tobacco, that is, not the pipe. It doesn't even load itself; you have to put in tobacco every time you want to use it, and carry fire with you, too, and a tamp. And then there's the whole thing of trying to find just the right tobacco you might like, and then when you've got a few favourites you've got to decide which you want to smoke each time.

While you smoke it you've got to tend it, or it'll go out, or smoke too hot if you smoke fast. And you've got to have about an hour or so to spend with it, or you're wasting your time and effort. And when you're done you can't throw it away. I mean, you could, but you wouldn't want to, and if you really want to, throw it my way. You have to knock the dottle out of it, and clean it with a pipe cleaner or four, and then you can store it. And every twenty bowls or so you have to take it apart and give it a good inside-and-out cleaning, and every forty or so you have to have a special tool to ream down the cake that accumulates in the bowl.

And irregardless of all that doing, I love them. I love the artistry, the craftsmanship, the love that goes into making pipes. I love that a pipe is as personal as a good suit or your new car. I love the comfort of holding my warm pipe, maintaining the coal like a careful fireman on a steam train. I love puffing in questions and blowing out philosophy. I love the patterns the smoke makes in the still air, and I love the feel of the bit clenched carefully in my teeth.

And darn it, I love the work that it requires to smoke one. I love that you can't just pick one up and smoke it, you've got to LEARN how to smoke it, and then it takes time to really get good at it. I love that it's archaic, and bad for me, and that it smells so good in the room but I can't smell it because of King James' Curse.*

In short, I'm just eat up, and am teaching you guys bad habits, like smoking pipes and picking your nose in public, so I guess you'd just better move along. Go on, get off my front porch, you little monkeys.


_____________________
* In 1604, King James I of England called smoking "A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless." Bastard. Because he cursed tobacco, tobacco cursed him, so that a smoker of tobacco cannot smell his or her own pipe. *shrug* Sounds reasonable to me.

Jul 9, 2006

LA Hwy 121

Let me tell you a story about a road. It won't be a long, indepth look at how it was constructed, nor will it be some sort of travelogue. It'll simply be the experience of a road.

About fifteen years ago, a guy told me how to find a good motorcycling road; that being one with lots of curves and scenery and not too fast a speed limit. He told me to take out a road map of the state, and ignore all the long, straight blue lines, because those were interstates, and are boring as watching grass grow. They were designed by people with no imagination and not a lot of time for it. No, he said, look for the squiggly black ones, the squigglier the better, he said. Those are state highways, the roads that have been there forever. They're not always the best quality roads, he told me, but they're the best roads to be on.

He was, naturally, right.

There is a state highway that runs almost through my backyard. State highway #121. Not very romantic sounding, and not in the world's best condition, but it was resurfaced this decade, and it's a state highway, which means that originally it was a horse track or a dirt road or a trail that was used back when this part of the state was covered in French fur trappers and bands of Native Americans.

It follows the winding and meandering course of Bayou Rapides, which means that it twists and turns a great deal indeed. It brings you through some old country, quiet country, places where you're just as likely to see brand new plantation-style homes as you are likely to see real plantation homes, with driveways lined in hundred-year old oak trees, and genteely collapsing slave cabins in the back yard.

Following this road on a motorcycle, the bayou seems to be pacing you, a considerate partner in your ride, carefuly to stay just off your side. Sometimes you can see well down into it, down brambly slopes to the water's edge, and sometimes the bayou is hidden behind the tall green sward of the levee, where the land falls back into the river delta that it used to be, before man walked this land.

The road was laid, it seems, to make sure that you never forget the presence of that winding snake of brown water. It follows each curl and change, wandering slowly through avenues of trees so thick and tall that they canopy over the road, making hushed green tunnels for you to enter, reverently. It's waters moisten the ground where the green grass grows thick and tall, and is kept at bay by herds of brown and grey goats, or dark russet cows. Each house you pass seems to have a barn behind it, most of them containing huge green farm machinery, or rusty plows and equipment. Often you pass decrepit wooden fences that barely keep hold of horses or bulls, and sometimes chickens use those fences as perches, right alongside the slender white sweeps of egrets.

You pass old houses, more often than not, and old churches, both wooden frame affairs, usually sagging at one side or the other, the wood gone silver and grey with age and use. Old people sit on their front porches, fanning themselves with paper fans, scripture verses printed on them, slim wooden handles careworn to fit a gnarled old hand. They sit and rock on their front porches, or they rest on milk crates in their yard under the shade of pecan trees older than even they, slowly turning into raisins in the sun, each sweeting or souring with age as the spirit has moved them.

The road slips ever onwards, grey-black, shimmering in the heat, spread between huge fields of cotton or soybeans on one side, and the green mound of the levee on the other. Folk wave from their porches when you motor by, the big v-twin grumbling quietly to itself in the heat, your arms relaxed, hands comfortable on the grips, easily slipping off to wave to someone's grandmother, or grandfather. It's easy to imagine that any moment you're going to slip up on an old farmer driving a buckboard wagon, pulled by two old jenny mules, his sons dozing in the afternoon heat in the back, in amongst the ears of corn and the watermelons, headed into some sleepy little town to sell them at the farmer's market.

Who could condone long, sterile strips of white concrete, trees mathmatically planned and planted, and huge green reflective signs telling you which exit will offer you the same prefabricated food, or lodging that has been sterilized for your convenience, when something so wonderous is just over the next field? How much better to drive where there is no road marker, no cutoff, and the winding black serpent seems willing to carry you to some long-forgotten trading post town, where people still know you by name, and the watermelon is red and crisp.

Jul 5, 2006

Post-Combustion

Thank all things creeping and crawling upon the earth that the Fourth is over. No more fireworks until at least Christmas.

Don't get me wrong, it was a great time, it just that certain things shouldn't mix, like adult men with the minds of children, some drinking, a few big cigars, a handful of disposable lighters, and fireworks.

When it comes to pryotechnics (read: burning things) my FIL is a lot like me, only tons moreso. You see, he has the budget to be a pyro, while I'm forced by financial constraints to more pedestrian acts of flammability, like lighting farts and the occasional bout of cow-tipping. When he and I get together and he's had weeks to buy fireworks the end result can be a lot like sex--spectacular when it's good, and a complete train wreck when it goes bad.

Last night was pretty good, sexually speaking, kind of a "missionary and then a little 69ing with mutual orgasms" occasion. The worst we managed to do, other than burning various bits of ourselves which, I've been assured, is an integral part of any fireworks display, was to blow the bottom completely off one of those mortar shell fireworks and go through quite a few hundred dollars worth of Chinese craftsmanship in sixty, count 'em, sixty minutes.

A little backstory. Remember when you were a kid, and Black Snakes and Smoke Bombs were the coolest thing going, and firecrackers scared the beejebus out of ya? And then you got a little older and Roman Candles and the multi-colour sparklers were to die for, and firecrackers were cool as long as you lit them on the ground and ran far away? And then bottle rockets were banned and THAT was the coolest thing going, and you were all about carrying around Black Cat crackers and throwing them at the last second at someone so they'd explode right in their ear or nose or gut? And you keep aging and suddenly you can't get any sort of satisfaction unless you've got at least three of the industrial mortar tubes, each loaded with double-burst shells chosen to be certain that the burst colours are complimentary, and you find yourself squatting in a dark field in ankle-high grass kicking at the fire ants trying to figure out how to light two fuses at once with one lighter while at the same time your FIL is lighting one, and you've got to do it so they all light one second apart from each other so as to make the skyburts fall PERFECTLY? Escalation of Fireworks Need, that's all it is. If "Hen Laying Eggs" and "Happiness Fountain With Report" are the grass and downers of fireworks then I'm eating raw crack and chasing it with Super Premium gasoline, all the while cruching amphetamines like M&Ms.

The spectators were awed, though, inbetween rounds of heckling. Especially after that one mortar tube fell over from the force of the other two going off like a couple of, well, like a couple of highly explosive grenades being fired from a cardboard mortar tube not much stronger than a toilet paper tube, and so the third mortar's shell has nowhere to go but sideways, screaming out across the field where it explodes (in a lovely double-burst red/green star with report) in the tall, dry grass while Sir Isaac Newton steps in and the equal-and-opposite reaction thing flings the now-burning tube in the opposite direction about forty feet or so at roughly 147 miles an hour.

All I am saying is that I'm glad it went THAT way and not toward the massive bag of gunpowder and oily rags and gas cans that we had, oh, right there close by.

And did you know that you can still use a completely hammered mortar tube if the inside base part is still attached? I fired about four more shells out of it that evening, just stuck it in the dirt half an inch or so and fired away. Worked like a charm. When we were done there was about three inches of it sticking up out of the ground, granted, and probably a lot of very seriously pissed off earthworms are writing a well-thought out and carefully worded petition to have me destroyed for the sake of all terrestrial dwellers, but that's life, eh?

Honestly, looking back over it all, I have to say that being pretty severely burnt wasn't too much to trade for the joy of an hour of cordite, gunpowder, burning paper (and flesh) and brilliant sky-bursts, not to mention bonding with close friends and family in law.

Anyway, the doctor said my arm would grow back in a few months, so it's all good.

Jul 4, 2006

The Meme With No Name

It's been called many things, and honestly when I stole it from I wish I remember now where I stole it from I don't recall it having a name, but it's certainly flowered under my misguided tutelage. And it's been renamed a few times, too. *lol*


The Stolen Meme. Remember the post just a few days ago? Like I said, it certainly took off.

To three different teachers, across this great (and independent) country of ours!

Leesepea, who artfully renamed it the Me-Me-Me-Meme, which gave me a grin and some insight into her own life.

Renaissance Blogger, who I think is going to let me borrow his cool crushed velvet hat and called it The Stolen Meme.

And California Teacher Guy who re-re-renamed it The Meme Tinker,

And Vulgar Wizard got ahold of it, renamed it "I" and ran with it as fast and far as her legs could carry her.

And The Ivory Pen, a sometimes commenter here at Casa d'Irrelephant took her pen and wrote down some deep thoughts, without renaming The No-Name Meme.

Then it hit MySpace, and I can't remote link to any of that stuff, but The Gringa WIth No Name outed me by name *grin* and posted hers with a bite of salsa and a Dos Equis, and Crytal got ahold of it and did her own 80's magic on it, and I think I'm missing a few still, and it's bothering me, but I can't remember who all did and didn't run with this particular pigskin. I know Strange Cousin Susan needs to go ahead and gird her loins and fill one out, because I think she'd do a marvelous job even though she commented me that she felt she couldn't do it justice.

And who else? Tell me if I've forgotten you, so I can add you in asap!

And Happy Fourth, everyone! Eat too many hotdogs, drink too much lemonade and shoot a finger off for me!

Jul 3, 2006

Harley Bashing 101

Buy a Harley
Ride the best
Drive a mile
Walk the rest.

Truer words were never spoken. And before I turn an entire chunk of you guys against me because I can't stand Harley Davidson and their piss-poor quality product, I'll stop, but right after I say this: If you're going to buy a motorcycle, do your homework, don't let your little head and/or popular opinion think for you. Check out their quality, ask mechanics for the truth, and look at the fit and finish. REALLY look at it. Then, look at Honda and Yamaha and Kawasaki and Suzuki and BMW and Ducati and Moto Guzzi and Triumph, and see how much more bike and how much more QUALITY you can buy from ANY of them, for a third the price.

Kay, I'm done Harley bashing.

Still with me? Cool.

There is nothing in the world like riding a motorcycle. Nothing. I've heard people tell me that it's like flying a private airplane. I've had people tell me it's like driving a personal watercraft. I've heard more comparisons and more metaphors and more words on the subject than you could imagine. None of them come close.

If you don't ride, you owe it to yourself to find someone you trust at least a little who owns a motorcycle, and you need to ask them to take you out. I don't mean ask the squid down the street with his new Ninja ZX12 with eleven miles on it who has ridden for exactly four of those eleven. I mean ask the older guy or gal who has his/her head screwed on tight, who wears a helmet and protective gear. Ask the guy with the Goldwing, or your lady neighbor who rides the big BMW touring bike. Ask them, and see what it is to ride. All a kid wants to do is prove how big his dick is by scaring you. An adult will show you the REAL experience of riding.

I often tell people who ask me how a bike is different from a car that it's as different as night and day. Driving a car, I tell them, is the same as sitting in your living room watching the television. In your car you've got big glass squares all around you, showing you things. The inside of your car is soundproofed quiet, and comfortable. You've got air conditioning turned up, the radio is playing music at you through a sound system better than most people have in their homes, and you can't hear a thing from outside. All you're doing is sitting at home in your easy chair with your coca-cola in easy reach, and you're talking on the phone watching television. The difference is that you're zoned out moving at 70 miles an hour.

A bike takes you out of that environment (bike people call cars 'cages,') and puts you IN the world.

Did you know that the temperature changes outside as you travel across different areas? And I don't mean checking your rearview mirror for the outside temperature, I mean that you can FEEL the air temperature change, sometimes drastically, sometimes as fast as one block to the next. You can smell things outside. Imagine that. Imagine riding past the neighbor's house and smelling that crisp green smell of his grass as he cuts it. Imagine smelling pine trees, hot asphalt, salt water breezes, everything, all the time. Did you know that if you're following a cage driver who is smoking you can even smell their cigarette or pipe smoke when they blow it out their window? True.

Driving a car involves you sitting still, facing forward, turning a wheel in your hand that has hydraulic assistance to make it so pitifully easy that a four year old could steer your Lincoln. Your gas and brake pedals sometimes aren't even hooked to the carb and brake shoes anymore, it's all done by computer and fly-by-wire, all power-assisted so it takes a feather touch. You are as removed from the real process of operating your vehicle as it is possible to be and still be considered driving it.

A bike requires that you work with it. To steer a bike you don't simply turn a big round wheel, you have to push the handlebars, you lean your entire body with the bike, you maintain your speed and position with all of your body. You and the bike are one thing, working toward the same goal. You feel the wind pushing on you, you push forward on the bars and the bike leans over into that beautiful curve, and you hammer on the throttle, the bike roars and you lean wayyy over to help her around, and then you're at the apex and out, smoothly roaring along. It's as sensual as a dance.

Most any motorcycle when tuned and ridden properly can outperform most any car on the street. We as motorcyclists are more nimble, faster, and more accurate than you. We can ride three across in the same lane that can only hold one of you, and we can cut turns far faster and more accurately than you can. We can vastly out-accelerate you, and in most cases we can even outbrake you. And all for far less cash than you forked out for your cage.

Riding makes you learn, too. Riding shows you just how careful you really have to be when you're on a road, if you're on a bike or in a tank. It makes you humble, and builds you up beyond anything. Riding makes you live again.

Riding is not for the weak of heart, nor for those who want to ride on pretty days only on the weekend. If you need to buy a trailer to carry your bike around you might as well not buy one. Fair weather riders are asking to get hurt. If you want to ride you make riding your all. You throw your heart and mind and body into being the best you can be. You ride often so your skills are second nature, and you ride well because that makes all the difference.

And when you do that, riding is the only sort of heaven you will ever find. It will fill your eyes and your heart and your mind, it will expand your universe ten thousand fold.

And you'll never want to stop.

Put Your Best Meme Forward

Then you take it back out, and then you shake it all around...no, that's not what this is gonna be about.

A few days ago I posted a meme that I had found quite by accident, one that I rather enjoyed because unlike most memes this one was a) very vaguely worded and open to interpretation, and b) very revealing if done properly. And I posted it, with the request that if other folks came along (I gave up tagging people about the time I noticed girls were more fun for other things) and used the meme that they'd do me the favor of letting me know they used it, so I could go see how they approached it.

Wow, was I surprised by the response.

You see, ordinarily when I come up with an idea that (to me) sounds workable and interesting, people look at me like waitpeople do when I go into a nice restaurant and order a medium-rare caribou on wheat. It's rare for me to have an idea that actually DOES take off and sprout wings and start building up speed, you understand. When I realised that this meme had in fact taken off and was flying on it's own I got a look on my face like the one that waitpersons get when I go into a nice restaurant and order a medium-rare caribou on wheat with a side order of fries and a Coke with no ice.

And so it lives. I'd be hyperlinking my silly tail off here if I could, but I'm at work, and naturally those pesky work-related tasks are even now piling up behind me while I sit here idly and make silly noises with my fingers, and even if I did have time I don't know that I have all the bookmarks and whine whine whine, but hey, if you're that impatient you can go into the comments section for the meme post and see a few, and if you're patient I fully plan on going home this afternoon, finding all these lovely people and hyperlinking them all on one entry so you, too, can enjoy diverse entries from various and interesting peoples that you probably need to meet.

In other news, I'm despairing and joyous at the same time. Joyous because the much-desired rain has come and seems to plan to stay a bit, and despairing because rain means that Betty, who is exactly 67 miles from being out of her break-in period, won't be ridden for probably the entire week while it rains. I bought oil, a new filter, everything I need for my 600 mile/end of break-in period all important first oil change, marking the point at which I can not only exceed 2000 rpms but also go faster than 55 mph, and it's decided to rain. Which we need. Which keeps me from riding.

Anyone see the conundrum here?

I'm very tempted to break out my rainsuit again, which is likely enough so dry from disuse that it will break into a thousand wax-coated nylon bits, or as one of the nurses at a doctor's office suggested on the phone, I could try and invent a sort of high-speed motorcycle umbrella, which knowing me might be a marvelous idea that never quite gets off the ground and fly.

Worse, it MIGHT get off the ground and fly.

Jul 2, 2006

Driven

So many ways that can be taken, but I'll tell the truth of it.

I was driven inside a few minutes ago. By rain, of all things.

See, it's summer here in Louisiana now; no holds-barred, no prisoners taken, no plant too large to be broiled alive summer. Humidity ranging always in the low 70s up to the 90s with regularity, and rain is a thing of my childhood long past. Global warming is getting us first, right here in central LA, specifically in my dying St. Augustine grass and in the struggling garden and all over our sweaty brows.

We're celebrating the 4th in usual fashion this year with one nice twist--a house-warming for friends at their newly-purchased first honest-to-gawd house, and then back here for BBQ and fireworks and sweating like pigs because it's 9pm and it's still 95 degrees out. We always gather here since we're out of the city limits and because we have so much open space to explode things in, and because in the city it's about five degrees hotter.

So naturally, now is the time to prepare for guests. Keep in mind that I'm not much of a man (by the light of day...) By that I mean that I'm not centered on sports, hunting, fishing and beer. I have shades of all that, as well as the requisite plumbing, but I've never been a Keep Up With The Jones' sort of guy. Except for my yard.

I like my yard. I take a lot of pride in my yard and my flowerbeds and most especially my roses. I like my yard presentable. I like it clean, neat, tidy, and cut. Not short cut, no golf-course greens for me, but cut nonetheless, two inches or so tall, so that it's presentable, neat, and soft. Especially when we're having family over. So I took it upon myself today to go out and start gathering up all the little cut limblets and short branches that I spent most of my last day off work cutting down. The final intention was to get all these little bits and pieces up out of the Back backyard* and onto the new and improved (read: hidden) new burnpile so that I could run the mower around the backyard and the Back backyard and get it all reined in for the 4th.

Does halfsies count? I got most of the limbs up, enjoying the light breeze that had picked up out of nowhere, and watching with the corner of half an eye the dark clouds rolling along the edges of the fields. I had just dumped my third trailer-load when a few drops spattered the dust on the hood of the lawn tractor. I glanced back up to see a veritable Biblical Flood-worth of animals fleeing the imminent downpour. Birds flying in huge groups, dragonflies crashing into each other in their haste to get away from the storm front, and even frogs reaching for their umbrellas. They teach us southern boys in school how to read the elements (I always thought they were saying "elephants," so I'm pretty good at telling if a pachyderm is going to rain or not) and from what I was gathering from the terrified little critters of nature it was gonna be a bad one.

I made fast flight to my mother's metal carpark thing, one of those two-car arrangements that's just aluminum and some roofing, and thought I could sit there for the five minutes it was going to take for this squall to sort itself out.

HAH.

I sat there on my quickly-cooling lawn tractor for ten minutes before I started seeing the first signs of water puddling in the low areas, and decided that discretion being the better part of valor I should go ahead and discretely sneak back to the house before I drowned. It's come, you see, a gullywasher. A frog strangler. In short, it's raining like a blind cow pissing on a flat rock.

Me? I know we need it, I'm glad of it's arrival. It crimps my plans, but not badly, and I know the garden is drinking it up like, well, like a really dry garden getting rain. I think the next step is for me to go find a pipe, light up a bowl, and sit on the patio to watch it storm, listen to the thunder roll across the cotton fields, watch the lightning fork in and out of the pecan trees with which I am so heavily blessed(?) and wait it out.

Sounds like a plan to me. *S*
______________________________
*I've got three backyards, you see. I've got the backyard which runs 50 or so feet from the back wall of the house. That's the Backyard Proper, home to rosebeds, my shop, pecan trees, and several Toad Manorhouses. Then I've got the old cow pasture behind that, which now houses more pecan trees (my father loved pecans, as well as inheriting several 100+ year old models,) the willow trees, my Mom's house trailer, the garden, and a lot of grass that with love and tender care has become as thick and smooth and pretty as my other yards, so it's the Back bacykard. Then there's the 7 or so acres behind THAT, working our way towards the bayou. That's the Back 40 (it honestly IS 40 acres, if you count all my family's property back there betwixt the Back backyard and the bayou) and my little 7 acres is mostly wild grass and some young oak trees and lots of crepe myrtles and a few pines, but it's getting there, too. I hope that by the time my daughter is old enough to build a house she'll have a gorgeous, huge lot full of big oak and longleaf pine trees on which to settle down. Either that or I'm going to spend the rest of my freaking LIFE cutting grass.

Things could be worse.

Jul 1, 2006

35mm Wonderments

Camelspotting pictures are up!

Yeah, you can thank me later.

My frightening moment of they day? Coming home today I saw a bumper sticker with a picture of a twenty-sided die and the caption "Don't Make Me Roll For Initiative."

The sad part was the bumper sticker.

The sadder part was that I got the joke.

The worst part? I laughed at it. Out loud.

I'm such a geek.

Princesses Don't Play With Dirt Dogs

At least that's what Penny, my wife's Papillion was saying earlier when Vulgar Wizard brought out her newest family member, Gabby, for shots and deworming pills and to have a short if eventful playdate.

Oh yes, Gabby's a cutie. All puppy, which is to say "clumsy, graceless, and adorable." She has the best colours, too, which you'll have to badger VW into photoing for your consumption. I've never seen quite so many different shades of brown on one white dog.

I know this is one of the more lackluster posts I've performed here of late, but it's been a rush sort of day. We've got a wedding to attend this afternoon, and the wife has food she has to prepare for same, and I have clothes to wash and dry and hang to make sure that nobody from this family attends au natural. And speaking of, I have a load of still-warm jeans and T-shirts on the couch in the den that are in desperate need of a folding hand (I do origami, too, and parties) and I don't see any of the cats leaping up to offer some assistance, so...

Oh, and before I forget, I finally managed to get the rest of the Florida vacation/NAS Pensacola pictures uploaded to Flickr, so if you're of a mind to see some of my family, a lot of airplanes, and a Pelican Parade pelican, then by all means, help youself!

Stay tuned to that same link, perhaps as soon as this evening, because I should be getting my 35mm film camelspotting pictures back, too, and will be posting the better ones soonest.

If you're hankering for dirty rice and some lemonade cupcakes, join us at the wedding. If not, I'll talk to you soonest. Oh, and Ron? "Shit."