Nov 29, 2006

Pipes

Today was strained. So was yesterday. This whole week has been...interesting. In the Chinese sense of having an interesting life. I had planned all day on a rather scathing post about Tubby, aka Corn Chip, aka Butter Troll II, but you know, right now I couldn't give a fuck about that post or her.

I came home in a rather downcast mood, because I'm not as good as most at removing my work persona at the door. What finally rescued me was my pipe. My dear companion, my briar friend.

My formerly gigantic collection of pipe tobacco, left over after I closed my online shop is suffering severe hits. I'm already out of my favourite blend, and just opened my last 100g tin of my second choice favourite. It got me thinking, though, about ritual, about the ritual of the pipe.

See, opening a tin (if you smoke tinned tobaccos) is a ritual up there with a cigarette smoker tearing the cellophane off a new pack. Some may do it automatically, without a thought, but for some that first crinkle, the sensation of pulling that plastic wrapper off and opening the foil...it's a new beginning, a step in the direction of pleasure. For me, the guy who likes the little things, that new tin opening step is a real pleasure. Taking the fresh can off the shelf, easing the plastic lid off, catching a finger under the pull-ring, and that first sharp POP! as the seal is broken, and the long metallic tear as the lid is rolled back with a tug and that first strong, almost vinegar/ketchup smell hits the nostrils.

Then the selection of the pipe, the preliminary cleaning, the joy of loading the pipe, letting the leaves dribble and trail through your fingers, and the first sharp SKRITCH of a wooden match across the sandpaper roughness of the ignition paper. The slow, religious passing of the flame over the tightly packed shreds, a benediction of cleansing flame, and then the wonder happens: all those small bits and pieces rise in the flame like so many tiny red and orange and brown flowers reaching for the sun, worshipers in a fiery pit reaching skyward for redemption.

When tobacco is ignited, the first application of flame makes the damp, compacted ribbons and flakes expand, and the formerly level plateau of leaf is suddenly a glowing, burning orange and grey and red mountain of burning individuals, each expanding into and being devoured by the flame. A few puffs and it's time to tamp them down into a flat, grey cap for the furnace burning in your bowl, but for those few magical minutes the leaves seem alive, reaching scorching fingers up toward the black and curled head of the match.

Simple magic. Simple pleasures.

Nov 28, 2006

IT As Comedy

It don't get much easier than this.

The office's day today was hobbled worse than a one-armed wallpaper hanger with the crotch crickets. Our computer network, you see, was having a sort of crisis. It refused to work properly.

This sorry state of affairs is nothing new. It's so old news that I was tempted, sorely, to start a whole new blog, dedicated to nothing more than mocking our IT department down in Red Stick, but no. I haven't the time nor THAT much inclination to debase (rightfully) the ubergeeks who are supposed to keep our network running.

But I will, however, with the help of Vulgar Wizard, post today's first, and likely not last edition of

Irrelephant's Fun With The IT Department Dept.:

Today's Fun: Slowness With Modules

What They Said--

IT SUPPORT
NOTIFICATION: Performance Issues
TIME/DATE: November 28, 2006 10:00amCST

Users are experiencing slowness in various modules. IT is currently working to resolve the issue. An email notice will be sent upon resolve.


What They Really Meant--

Once again, the server that we use to play World of Warcraft crashed and we’re forced to use the server that handles all the important programs for the offices to continue game play. We’ll restore full power to you, the underlings, when we break for lunch. Or tomorrow. See, we fixed the server last night and we're all really tired of Mountain Dew and d20s.

Tomorrow's Exciting Episode--

CAN THEY DEFEAT THE EVIL LAVA TROLL AND GET OUR SERVER UP?

Tune in and find out.

Don't Be A Dick

New Philip K. Dick edition due out soon.

Nov 27, 2006

Meleagris gallopavo ad nauseum

I'm sick of turkey. Sick to death of it. I've had it up to here with turkey.

Yes, it's the usual post-Thanksgiving rant about The Leftover Holy Bird. And I've eaten so damn much turkey I'm afraid to move my head fast for fear of breaking into a gobble. I've eaten every turkey recipe in the book, and have even gone through all of Alton Brown's recipes for leftover turkey.

The combined family had, you see, three turkeys for Turkey Day. Two fried, one smoked, and it seems like all three of them ended up coming home with us with some extra that was snuck in by the neighbors while no one was looking. And keep in mind that I am a proessional eater. I don't mind leftovers. In fact, many foods get better with some time to sit and cool, their flavors melding into something greather than the sum of it's parts.

Not turkey. Especially when you have it three meals a day, four days in a row. It's still turkey.

I mean, let's face it, any food has a finite number of ways which it can be prepared. I think we've found them all in the Irrelephant household. I've had Turkey Tartar, a nice toasy TLT (turkey lettuce and tomatoe,) and Turkey Flakes for breakfast. I've had spaghetti and turkeyballs (not nearly as appetizing as it sounds) and turkey in a blanket. Turkey patties, turkey almondaise, and turkey under glass. Turkey gumbo, turkey bread, and turkey pate'. I've eaten more turkey than a whole shipload of starving religious separatists landing on a strange new continent.

I've even been served turkey sashimi; tiny slivers of turkey served on a cupped-palm-sized mound of rice with some wasabi sauce hidden cleverly underneath the meat, all wrapped up with a razor-thin slice of seaweed. I nearly sliced the sushi chef's finger off with his Ginsu knife when he passed it to me.

I'm tired of turkey, folks. I thought I had finally, masterfully, mercifully, eaten all the turkey there was in this house. Came home for lunch today hoping for a nice ham and cheese sandwich and a handful of corn chips, but what to my turkey-glazed eyes did appear?

Deli-sliced turkey, in one of those stay-fresh-until-the-Apocalypse containers.

Kill me before I gobble again.

Nov 25, 2006

Beautiful Old Thing

I've spent a wonderful week off, and part of my long-put-off things to do was to clean out my shop.

See, I try to clean. I do. I've got a shop that is four connected buildings, all of which were constructed at different times out of whatever material was cheap and plentiful, and all this was done some 30 years ago by my father. Needless to say it's not only motley it's comfortable, dusty but perfectly usable, and even after several years of use by me it's still packed to the gills full of the most useless stuff, and some of the interesting stuff. Well, okay, I'll be frank with you. A lot of it is stuff that was interesting to my father. There are boxes and boxes of old galvanized bits of steel, strange bolts, couplers, and bits of electrical substations that were built almost 40 years ago. Which are more than likely still missing certain integral galvanized steel bits. No matter, now they're extremely heavy when in one place, and are in the way.

Yesterday and today I spent cleaning. Seriously cleaning, not that sort of rearranging that I'm good at, which doesn't really accomplish much but stir up dust. Not only cleaning to sort my own stuff out but cleaning to get rid of or keep whatever other things have been in there for these past 30 years and no longer need to be. And I found a treasure amongst all that stuff. And bear in mind that this treasure is going to be looked at askance by a lot of people, but it's a treasure to me because it's a link to a past that's been almost forgotten by a lot of very old people, and is utterly alien to most.



A leather yoke. Somewhere in Missisippi, probably around my family's ancestral home is a horse or a mule who was buried an extremely long time ago. And if that old beast were up and around today he'd be extraordinarily thin, but if he had his old shape back he'd know the fit and feel of this old leather collar, packed with straw. He'd recognise the jingle of the buckle at the bottom, and with it fitted comfortably to his shoulders he'd be able to comfortably pull a plow, and maybe on Sundays he'd pull the wagon down to the old A-frame wooden church.

Now? Now it's just a dusty old link to a past that most people would find so impossibly alien that they couldn't fit themselves into that time no matter how they tried. For me, it's something that I could bring inside, lay down on an old blanket and work on with love and lots of elbow grease. It drank up a fair quantity of saddle soap, and used almost all of a tin of mink oil before it stopped absorbing that elixir, and now it's dark and warm and has a wonderful smell of days gone by.

For me it's a wonderful old treasure, something to hang on my wall and show my daughter and the nephews and niece, so that one day they'll realise that the world did not always come fully equipped with HDTV and cellular coverage and food wrapped in sterile polystyrene trays, and that the term "horsepower" used to mean something quite different.

Nov 24, 2006

Black Friday

The very utterance of that name used to put me into paroxyms of whimpering, nervous tics, and a deep and abiding need to be ELSEWHERE.

Now all it does is make me stay away from town in droves. A drove. Whatever you call a group of one. You couldn't tempt me with enough percents off to get me to venture into town from now until, oooh, January 10th. See, I used to work

Retail.

Oh yes boys and girls, I've put in my time in Hell. The hell that is a packed store during the post-Thanksgiving rush. Retailers call it Black Friday because for most big retailers that's the first time in the entire fiscal year their books are in the black, because of the phenomenal inrush of stupid, irresponsible, foolish, mouth breathing imbecile shoppers who throng like cattle following the Judas to the slaughter stores.

I was never one of those people. I was always the poor schmuck on the other side of the register, eyes agog at the sheer volume of cash changing hands. Almost half of that time I spent in retail I spent working in toy stores. My first two go-rounds, and in hindsight the two jobs that would forever brand me with the red-hot steel of Nintento and Big Savings were the same--a little place called Circus World, in our local mall. It later became Kay Bee Toys, but the place and the shoppers were the same. They were part time jobs, filling in time between school, but they were nightmarish.

People who refused to leave when the gates were coming down. People who would rather let their squalling children pee on the floor rather than risk losing out on That One Big Bargain. And people too stupid to be at home with the ones they love. Those years were only the beginnings, though. They were all leading up to my six years spent in servitude to The Giraffe.

Toys Backward R Us.

Geoffrey The Giraffe, whose name is an anagram of "I Am All Things Unclean, Unholy and Despicable Crawling On My Belly Upon The Earth." We would make 80% of our year's gross income in one short month. ONE MONTH. It was hell upon earth. Clive Barker would have gone balmy had he spent that one month in a blue polo shirt with Overlord Geoffrey The Insane's idiotic grinning mug stitched over his heart. His books would have taken a decidedly parents-are-evil turn as he watched grown people tear each other limb from limb, fighting over the very last Nerf Bow And Arrow or the only Tickle Me Elmo left on the pallet.

Yeah, that tells you how long it's been. And STILL I wake up around this time of year screaming.

See, were I still in thrall to The Penultimate Evil, Retail, I would probably still be working my shift. I'd have been working maddening 12 hour shifts every day the week before Turkey Day in preparation for Black Friday, and I'd have spent my entire Thanksgiving feast cursing the day I ever thought it'd be fun to work with toys, and I would have been at work this morning probably around 5am, with a departure time of "Oh, around close." And a half-hour lunch would have been thrown in there somwhere, which would be shortened to ten minutes after my name was called on the overhead about ten times to restock the My Size Barbies or the Little Tykes aisle.

Ooooh, the horror.

You can't imagine, unless you've fought in a world war or been married at least three times what sort of a living hell people can wreak upon themselves and others. The sheer, indescribable nightmare that is working until your feet ache and knowing that your shift end is still six hours away. The only hell that could frighten me at all is the one that waits at my register just so they can get up to the Total and say "Oh wait, I need some more stuff" and runs back into the store while I have to face the rest of the slavering, empty-eyed retail zombies that are lined to the back of the store, clutching their preciouses in their withered, sickly arms.

It took me this long just to be able to enjoy Christmas again, and the internet to help me make all my purchses without ever having to set foot in that toilet swirling madhouse that is a retail store after Thanksgiving.

Get me in town right now? You'd better bring your buddies the Axis Powers. It's gonna take that and a circus of 101 nubile double-jointed redheads to make me even GLANCE in that direction.

Nov 23, 2006

A Holiday Vacation Sampler

I'd suggest the dark chocolate bits, and that you skip the one called "Crunchy Frog." Not good at all.

So. I've been seriously off my pace since my post Monday, and thanx to the MIL for pointing this out. *lol* Now that she's a regular reader again, I guess I need to get off my turkey-and-dressing-stuffed arse and catch you guys up.



Skull-Headed Neon Ghost Moth

I hate Hocus Pocus Liquor. Somehow this store has achieved an almost legendary status in and around the state. Seems their skull-headed ghost moth neon logo was on an album cover or something, and unsurprisingly a Blingo search didn't turn up a picture of the sign, so I guess I'll have to drag-arse down to Lower Third and snap a pic for you guys.

So anyway, I learned to hate these folks because they have a humidor and don't know a cigar from their arseholes. I found myself in the lamentable state of having ZERO smokes in my humidor at home, and instead of bringing one of my beloved pipes and having nothing for the host, hostess and guests, I had to travel to this cursed place.

I always try to bring a nice handful of cigars to hand around for post-prandial relaxation at these gatherings, and the last time I was at H.P. about two years ago I was really put out by their very unprofessional staff and their behaviour, so I boycotted them. Successfully until Tuesday, when I realised I was tobacco-free.

Long story short, stepping into the humidor I found myself not only helping a gent make a selection for his friend but I also saved the 19 year old snot-nosed git of a cashier's arse by SPEAKING to the customer AND sold the store a $150 box of smokes.

I hate myself sometime.

But, I got some good smokes, and the boycott is not only back on it's been reinforced. I hate Lowe's because you can't find help and if you do find help they're helpless...I never thought I'd find the same thing at a tobacco retailer.

Oh, and if you want cigars? Go online. Thompson Cigars, based, I think, out of Florida, has everything and then some, and you don't have to deal with an acne-ridden waste of good oxygen to find what you want/need/desire.

As Ye Sow

So shall ye reap. That's how that old saw goes, and speaking of saws that makes me think of trees. Which I planted today. Wednesday, that is. See, I'm having to cover Tues through today with one post. Sorry.

I have a large acreage behind the house, which I affectionately call "Oh Shit I've Got To Mow AGAIN?" In the interests of having a nice place for my daughter to build a house in fifteen or twenty years and also in the interest of maybe killing some of that grass, I have been planting trees there over the past decade. Well, my daughter's future well-being and happiness is one reason. The other is that I'm hoping to gain points back as sort of karmic return for setting that insanely large wildfire in Cali.

Oaks, crepe myrtles, pecan, magnolias, whatever seizes my demented fantasy is fair game for being planted in my field. And since I still didn't have enough ground covered in treeage, I went to a local Choctaw Indian lady (full blood, there's a whole post in itself about her) who raises trees professionally and bought fifty long-leaf pine seedlings from her for a whopping $10 donation to the cause. See, I'm small fry. Her next customer wanted ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND of them. Made me feel quite inadequate.

That purchase, unfortunately, led me to the realisation that I had to cut the field so I could SEE where I was planting, so a very chilly Wednesday morning was spent herding my antique tractor around, cutting grass for three hours so I could spend my afternoon hustling my almost brand new lawn tractor and trailer around, filled with my thirty pound planting stake (an iron crowbar with a pointed end,) a box of pine seedlings, a ditch blade, an even hundred of those little pink construction flags, limb loppers (in case I came across any limbs needing lopping) and gloves. Gloves in which is a whole OTHER post about Home Depot and their new self-checkout registers, but I digress.)

Four hours and a dozen mosquitoe bites later I had fifty tiny green sprigs of long-leaf pine sticking up gamely over the raggled brown edges of freshly-mown almost dead smutgrass. In twenty years perhaps a few will have survived and I'll have not only less mowing to do but a lot more deciduous obstacles to swerve around.

Yay swerving!



Turnkey Day:

Aaah, fun all around. Usually we have lunch at me sainted Mum's house, then dinner at the MILs house because she lets us all drink and play cards and stay up all night, but this year things worked out a little differently. This year my Mom's people all decided that they had somewhere else to be, and the MIL has HER in-laws in from Buffalo, NY, so things got shuffled a bit. It was strange, in a way, not celebrating the festival with ALL the family here, then ALL the extra family there, but it was nice in a way. It's not always bad to shuffle up tradition, or it starts to get a little mouldy around the edges and smell funny.

So, it was three turkeys and a monstrous delicious spread at the in-laws house for lunch, fine tobacco and wines after, and good conversation. Everyone was well-behaved and almost civil, which I think is all that ANY family in it's right mind can ask for during a large family gathering.

With that in mind, I feel another serving of sweet potatoes and dark meat turkey calling my name.

Happy holidays, my dear friends.

Nov 20, 2006

Circa 1880

Since I have time, and a pounding backache from pecan picking, I thought that perhaps some pictures might take my mind off the pain.

I guess the most important news is that we got rid of Belle, our Borzoi. Got tired of her aloofness, her lying, begging, and thieving. And that ridiculous pipe-cleaner tail. We went out this weekend and traded her in to a shady but nice fellow selling Afghan Hounds out of the back of a truck beind PetSmart's dumpster.



There you are, our new Afghan Hound. Got quite a deal on her.

Speaking of Belle, she's taken the vacation in stride, seeing as she didn't have to go to work with her Momma this morning. We spent the morning outside in the sunshine and cold, me picking pecans and swatting cold-resistant mosquitoes, and her shaking the stuffing (literally) out of her tiger and her squeaky ball. And now? Nap time, with her half-eaten treat and her red squeaky Santa.



And should I be remiss and not post a fresh Moustache Monday pic? Freshly taken? Heck, freshly shaven!



Dizamn, have I got some mad Photoshop skillz or what? Fo' shizzle.

That handsome feller on the left there is one of my antique cousins, one John T. Irrelephant. The pic has no date on it other than his birth and death dates, but you do see the family resemblance, especially in the lip broom. Granted mine is a lot more funky and fabulous than staid and uptight old John T. there, but we both got it goin' on, I think you'll agree. As for me? The view up my nostrils mixed with my own take on the daguerrotype poker face just isn't doing it for me. You'll also note the moustache has gone from beach bars to drag bars. Why? Just easier, honestly. I mean, there's no sense in getting all dressy on the upper if I'm just gonna flaunt it around here to the blue jays and the occasional goldfinch. Never seen any of them grow a 'stache worth half a tinker's damn, myself.

Back to work!

One Word - Slacking

Swiped from Leesepea!

Rules:
You can only type one word. No explanations.

Yourself: unsettled
Your partner: stubborn
Your hair: brown
Your Mother: accountant
Your Father: quiet
Your Favorite Item: Roadliner
Your dream last night: nightmare
Your Favorite Drink: swee'tea
Your Dream Car: MOTORCYCLE!
Your Dream Home: Pacific
The Room You Are In: office
Your Ex: Goat
Your fear: diability
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? alive
Who you hung out with last night: dogs
What You're Not: centered
Muffins: blueberry
One of Your Wish List Items: books
Time: fugit
The Last Thing You Did: blogged
What You Are Wearing: tshirt
Your favorite weather: Fall
Your Favorite Book: reading
Last thing you ate: oatmeal
Your Life: ongoing
Your mood: settled
Your Best Friends: distant
What are you thinking about right now: working
Your car: motorcycle
What are you doing at the moment: slacking
Your summer: sweaty
Relationship status: married
What is on your tv: radio
What is the weather like: COLD!
When is the last time you laughed: *shrug*

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Yeah, I know. I was never a big fan of that certain all-goil band, but hey, one of them turned out to be a beautifully elfin little dominatrix, so I guess they had SOMETHING going for them.

I'm on vacation. Had some use-it-or-lose-it time, running out of months, and running quite out of sanity and happiness, so I thought this might be The Time. It was sort of a last-minute decision, and I know that we're so tight right now that ANY absence of ANY employee is nearly crippling, but it was either that or start bringing a pistol to work, so I'm on vacation!

My biggest problem? Guilt.

Damned Catholic upbringing. Damned Protestant work ethic.

See, I get it from both sides. Mom was a genuflecter, Dad attended a tiny wood A-frame church in the woods. I feel wildly guilty if I'm not doing SOMETHING every second of the day. Okay, so I haven't felt THAT guilty in a long time, but it still lingers, ooooh, it still lingers. I've always felt the need to be doing something. Free time, or time with nothing planned is seen by my tiny, religion-soaked brain as wasted time. I should be DOING something, before I burn in eternal flames! It takes sheer exhaustion for me to stop most times, and once I get in the swing of working it's very hard to stop. An incense censer to the skull usually does the trick for bedtime.

What's that, VW? My office job? Yup, that's a little different. Between work duties and stress I find myself at the end of the week wanting to tear my own head off my neck so I can toss it in a deep lake. You know the feeling, I can see it in your eyes. Usually Monday morning, ongoing.

So. I'm on vacation. Got up at The Usual Time, did The Usual Morning Procedure (teeth, shower, moustache, dogs out to pee, shave) but suddenly it's way past time to clock in and I'm sitting here blogging. Freaking crazy. Eternal Damnation! Must be doing things! Why didn't I go to church Sunday?

What's worse than all that? I can already feel that odd tightening around my heart that tells me I need to be working on something--laundry needs hanging, the house already needs to be swept again, firewood needs to be split, and I've got a sizeable chunk of shop roof that I HAVE to repair before I do further damage to my rather expensive tools, and if I let my tools get ruined then I might as well just fall over dead. I was raised better than all that.

So what the hell am I doing here blogging? I've only got 7 more days free! AAAAAAUGH!

Nov 19, 2006

Well, THAT'S Strange.


You are The Hierophant


Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching.


All things relating to education, patience, help from superiors.The Hierophant is often considered to be a Guardian Angel.


The Hierophant's purpose is to bring the spiritual down to Earth. Where the High Priestess between her two pillars deals with realms beyond this Earth, the Hierophant (or High Priest) deals with worldly problems. He is well suited to do this because he strives to create harmony and peace in the midst of a crisis. The Hierophant's only problem is that he can be stubborn and hidebound. At his best, he is wise and soothing, at his worst, he is an unbending traditionalist.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Nov 18, 2006

Stimulating Quiz

Q: You are driving in a car at a constant speed. On your left side is a drop off, the ground being 18-20 inches below the level you are traveling on. On your right side is a fire engine traveling at the same speed as you. In front of you is a galloping horse which is the same size as your car which you cannot overtake. Behind you is a galloping zebra. Both the horse and zebra are also traveling at the same speed as you . What must you do to safely get out of this highly dangerous situation?












A: Get your drunk ass off the merry-go-round.

Nov 15, 2006

Talkies Tuesday - Errr












In this episode: Horizontal rain ~ millions of kilojules ~ a theramin? ~ My god, it's full of MP3s ~ meatjacks ~ pseudophilosophical musings on empty buildings ~ Vulgar Wizard ~ getting there early to stick it to The Man

Nov 14, 2006

Interpretatio Vitae*

It being the aftermath of the end of the world, I think it's time for a new career path.

Yes, that's right. I'm just about to start living my dream of travelling the world over, visiting four- and five-star hotels around the globe, with the sole intention not of checking in but only to hang about in their lobbies, gathering research material for my ten-volume opus magnum; "Great Hotel Lobbies I Have Known."

I've already got a sizeable grant from a major pamphlet company.

______________________
* Roughly translated, "The Meaning Of Life." Other scholars insist that this is a misconstrual of the original root Latin, and that the phrase's exact translation is: "Handcuffed to a pyramid, the ant thirsted."

Nov 13, 2006

Change Of Mind

I've decided to change my world-view this week.

I've decided to believe that the world already ended several million years ago. No reincarnation, no Nirvana, no Heaven nor Hell. I've decided that everything that we've got now is just fallout from the Apocalypse, which explains ever so much about my life and the things that happen to me.

Well now.

Hope you guys enjoy the rest of your end of the world fallout!

Nov 12, 2006

Golf

Good sweet stars no, this is not going to be a golf post. Can't stand the game. So yes, all you middle-aged overweight business types can just hop back in your little electric cars, take your bourbon and sodas and just drive off.

That means you too, Alice Cooper. Hasbeen.

Golf. I was reading an article in Cigar Afficianado (I get it for the pictures, actually) and the author of the little blurb was talking about the inestimably high level of honesty in the game, citing a pro golfer who, upon nudging his ball so gently that noone but himself saw it, took a penalty stroke for the hole and ended up losing the entire nation of Algiers to a morbidly obese dictator/pro-am golfer who had a hankering for cocaine and young priests. No matter, the article was talking about honesty and forthrightness and such, and be damned if I can remember where I was goin ...

no wait, got it again.

Honesty. I've already (twice) lost the prize given by the National Blog Posting Month folks, but instead of being an utter cad and backdating a post from this morning to yesterday, Bob's your uncle and none the wiser, no, I find myself sitting here telling you (truthfully) that I had several good posts written in my head all of Saturday but none of them made it to the flickery screen here because I simply ran out of time doing all the other things that, unforunately, were more important than posting.

*gasp*

Yes, I know. *hanging my trunk in shame* I had laundry, and my daughter's Social Studies fair project to work on, and dogs to walk, and so many other things that I simply lost track not only of the posts but of the necessity to post.

But, instead of simply faking something up and backdating it, I guess I'll have to resign from the NaBloPoMo thingie, with my honour and dignity intact.

Gah. Sodding Saturdays.

Nov 10, 2006

"Mister Watson, Come Here! I Need You!

I've spilled acid on my nuts!"

Okay, so maybe old Alex Bell didn't quite say it THAT way, but it makes for a fun image, don't it?

Yup, you got it, it's new cellular phone time. The contract with Sprint had expired and I wasted no time in proceeding to drop them like a horny porcupine in favor of another carrier. One with cooler phones.

Yes, I'm talking about me some SLVR LM7. A black chunk of plastic and glass that looks like something straight out of a cyberpunk novel. In fact I seem to recall a passage in one of His stories about someone holding up a featureless black slab of plastic to his ear, and that's what this phone reminds me of--minimal surface features, satin black finish all over, and when it's in sleep mode all lights go off and you're left with what is, for all accounts and intentions a featureless, inert black slab of plastic, so I happily tell everyone that my new phone is very Gibsonesque.

Is that the term? Gibsonesque? Gibsonian? Gibsian? Beats me. Anyway...

When I unpacked the phone from it's gigantic box I was astounded at how self-contained it actually was. It's instruction manual was three times as thick and four times bigger than it is. The rest of the box was taken up with accessories and plugs and USB-enabled...things. I could not have been more pleased or surprised if one of Kubrik's monkeys had just knukled up, tugged on my shirt-sleeve with one grubby paw and handed me a miniature version of the Monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey." It looks a lot like that enigmatic teaching machine from Clarke's novel as well as the intriguingly uncommunicative matte black chunk that served as that movie's supporting actor. You know, I haven't measured it yet, but I have to wonder if my new SLVR's dimensions are derivative of the squares of the first three numbers...one by four by nine.

*manipulating my phone's inert black surface carefully*



"My God, it's full of stars..."

Nov 9, 2006

A Treat(ise)

Shaka Zulu.

"Why?" I hear you ask. Sit, my children, oh open recepticles, and let me pour my libation into your little heads.

"Why" is because what I really wanted to say was 'BOOMSHANKA,' shouted in a thunderous voice that would shake the very foundations of the sky, but I didn't have a way to sort of slide that into polite conversation. I decided that by using the more common phrase "Shaka Zulu" it would put you in an aboriginal African sort of mindset, and therefore more receptive to the sort of Watoosian verbalisation of "BOOMSHANKA."

"WHAT?" I hear you shout in confusion and just a little bit of gnawing hunger because you missed breakfast, the most important meal of the day.

BOOMSHANKA. It's the primal force that binds the universe together. It's got more uses than duct tape, and unlike duct tape doesn't have a light and a dark side, nor a name that is easily confused with a short, waddling alternate Thanksgiving fowl, unless you're one of those strange people who are purveyors of Turduckens, which are those horrid hybrids; a turkey with a duck jammed in it's watoosie that's had a chicken crammed up it's bottom. You also probably own a puggle or a pappinese or something wonderously stupid like that if you eat one of those biological monstrosities. The turducken, not the puggle. I've never eaten either.

Anwyay. Without it (BOOMSHANKA, not turduckens nor puggles) we'd all be blown into quarks or temperons or super string or something equally very small and dark and subject to confusion by high-school physics students. Turduckens may also be subject to scrutiny by high-school physics students, but only as a feast-day confusion rather than an actual physics question, although I think that stuffing three fowls together should be studied in hopes of stopping this monstrosity of biology. Not to mention physics.

BOOMSHANKA is the most poweful force in the universe, excepting for, of course, stupidity. Stupidity is BOOMSHANKA's kryptonite.


Yes kids, this is what sort of a day I'm having. Please send more powerful pharmaceuticals.

Nov 8, 2006

Naive

I've lived such a sheltered life.

For our anniversary the wife and I ate at a local New Orleans style restraunt. It's been open here for probably a year or more, but I've never dined there until tonight, driven there on a whim to have something new.

The atmosphere was very nice, very subdued, the serving staff was pleasant and fast, and supper was nice; I had the baked chicken on angel hair pasta with mixed steamed veggies and an adequate cat's-head biscuit (can you believe it was served without butter?) but to further stretch my culinary and social horizons I ordered a vodka martini.

Yeah, I know, I was really pushing boundaries there.

I've decided two things:

1) Alcohol should taste sweet. I've been constantly surprised at every attempt of mine to enjoy alcohol that it tastes, for the most part, like ass. So does beer. Wine is okay, sometimes. Champagne at 9 am after a balloon flight is exquisite. Anyway. Were I redesigning the world I think I'd tweak whatever variable there is that would make alcohol taste sweet. Like chocolate, with it's thousand and one different varieties. That way I could enjoy it.

2) I've lived as a virtual shut-in for a very long time and you should feel terribly sorry for me.

2a) What I mean to say is why is there so many ways to make a martini? I mean, they had the option of shaken, stirred, chilled, on the rocks, sweet, dirty, dry, and powder coated, or something equally bizarre. What does all that MEAN? My god, it's just alcohol and more alcohol, right? With an olive on a little plastic sabre?

2b) What I actually intended to post was that I'm not very good at being pressed to posting once a day, and I'm sorry for the reduced quality picture that you're receiving. Blame the vodka-soaked olive.

Oh, and Rumsfeld? You still owe me $20 you welsher, and don't think you're gonna get out of it THAT easy.

Nov 7, 2006

Fucking Pinheaded Christian Morons.

Don't ever let me take a high public office, because I will be the guy who leads the charge to have people like this close-minded idiot and his daughter hanged at dawn in front of the Library of Congress as a warning to people who would censor, ban, or otherwise tell the rest of the world what we should and should not read, say, or think.

Newscast

This is where your precious Christian Conservative movement is leading us, Bush. And fuck you for it.

Thank you to Nancy Dancehall for bringing this travesty to my attention.

Those of you who do not have a copy of the book in question, comment or email me and I will personally arrange to get you a copy.

And yes, it's that important to me.

Nov 6, 2006

"Have To" Vs "Want To"

What is it about people being obstinate?

When I 'have to' post, as in this wonderful National Blog Post Month, where we're supposed to post once a day for a month I don't want to, and can't seem to find a good topic or point of view to express, as opposed to me just posting, which netted me over 400 posts in my first year here?

Is it just a human nature thing, or is it more of a me thing? It's just like that common complaint of school-going folk: being forced to read and disect a story or a great piece of literature (or even a crappy one) makes that piece of literature so distasteful.

This isn't the best example, probably, but let's take for instance Bradbury's landmark on censorship, "Fahrenheit 451." I had to read it in high school English, either my first or second year. I told the teacher, Mrs. Bonial, a pleasant, sprightly little lady that I had already read it. Read it first when I was maybe 11, and had read it a dozen or two times since then. She was estatic. So was I--I knew then and know now that book so well that I could have practically written it word for word.

But, hearing from the rest of the students in the class it was like pulling teeth to get them to read a book that I had devoured like ice cream and chocolate sauce. I still utterly adore the book, but won't touch other literary classics like "Great Expectations" or "House Of The Seven Gables." Do they stink? Beats me. Had to read them in class, had to work at them, and now I won't touch them. Honestly, I don't even REMEMBER reading them. Have I lost out on wonderous reads, or am I not missing all that?

And worse, will I EVER be able to read them without that automatic distaste-response.

So tell me. What were you forced to do that you hate now, and what do you do willingly that other people might find distasteful?

Alternatively, what kind of socks do you wear? Me, I own nothing but argyle.

Nov 5, 2006

Up, Up, And LOOK OUT FOR THE DUMP TRUCK!

Another wonderful launch this morning with SkyBird and crew. And almost no mishaps.

Having asked and been told by Jim, SkyBird's Chief Groundcrewman and all-around swell guy, I felt better this morning in knowing that I now know just enough to not be a complete nuisance but not enough to be real helpful. *lol* It's good to know where you fit it.

I'm pleased to say that I'm learning new things. And if you know me at all, you know that a day without learning, for me, is a wasted day. I've learned a few more things about the genteel art of ballooning, and am well on my way to being a certified groundhog.

This morning's launch was a lot of fun, as they all seem to me to be. Call it silly, but there's just something about working as a team on a thing as esoteric as a hot air balloon, knowing the sensations and joy that the couple on board are about to experience, remembering my own first trip just two short months ago. The roar of the burner, that gout of orange flame, and the wash of heat pouring down on uplifted faces, the gentle stir and bump as the gondola gets ready to lift, and the sort of soar I get when David (the pilot) says "Weight off." That's when the magic happens.

More and more I'm coming to feel like a part of the team, and more and more I'm starting to see and feel the thrill that Jim, also the Chase Crew Chief, feels when he's carefully driving just ahead of the flight path, spotting dangers, finding good open spots to land, and sometimes waking landowners up to ask if we can borrow their large, open, well-mown back yard. It really IS like playing a very slow game of catch. The only differences being, of coure, that the envelope alone weighs around 300 pounds, not to mention the 250 or so pounds of the gondola, plus passengers, and the fact that even if you could find a catcher's mitt big enough to engulf that beautiful blue beauty I sure wouldn't want to be on the underside of it when it settles.

The best part of today? Not the smiles, or the waves, not even the sight of the gondola dipping very close to the Red River. No, it was having to venture onto a concrete-contractor's site, folks who build bridge pilings and such, trying to get a good line on SkyBird, and looking out the driver's side door to see JUST the bumper of an extremely large dump truck, and the mischevous grin on the face of the driver, some twenty feet in the air, who somehow managed to sneak up on two guys who just so happened to be staring intently the OTHER WAY.

And for the record it was Jim who cussed aloud, because he was on the sloppy side. Granted, had that dump truck hit us at anything more than 7mph we BOTH would have been on the sloppy side. It'd ALL be sloppy side--that thing was BIG.

But, all in all it was an interesting landing, involving a levee, huge piles of concrete shards, and the mosquitoes, all seventeen billion of them, who must have seen SkyBird come wafting in just over the trees and decided to see what was edible. Only a little portaging, and this time I got to hold the wicker ring that ties to the nylon rope that goes wayyyyyy up to the little steel ring at the very top and tug that monstrous blue beastie down onto her side neatly as the hot air (160+ degrees) came whooshing out. And then of course the process of 'snaking the envelope,' making her long and thin and empty of hot air, and packing her back into her big canvas bag, and working as a team to get everything stowed quickly and efficiently for the trip back to a convenient parking lot for champagne toasts, and me, looked upon now as at least a small cog in the machine.

Yes, it's good to know where you fit in.

At least they don't make me wear the bright orange T-shirt that says "BALLAST" across the back in big black letters anymore.

Nov 4, 2006

Wow, I Suck!

First two days into the NaBloPoMo and I've already missed a day. *sigh* Out of the running for the prizes, but at least you guys know I feel guilty for it. Just call me Mr. Commitment.

Today was grand, and I haven't time to tell you all about it, because I'm going to bed in about three minutes because I'm freaking WORN OUT, but here's why I was up at 5 am. More tomorrow, because we've got another flight then too! This time only one balloon, though. I don't know if I could stand another three balloon chase.

Nov 2, 2006

The Dark Side Of The Road

I need to ride at night more.

Night. Darkness. We get that good brand of darkness here, out in the country. No lampposts every thirty feet, no seventy-story buildings showering down neon and fluorescent lights from every window. No, we get that professional level darkness out here in the sticks, the sort of darkness that shows every star, every tiny silver meteoric slash across the black, and I love it for driving in.

Let me tell you why.

Black Betty. My bike. Any bike for that matter, but for me, now, it's Black Betty. With the night drawn around me like a cape, my black leathers, and all that velvety blackness, it's a dream. Betty's headlamp is a yard in front of me, as are the twin orange spheres of her running lights. Behind me is her brake light and the end of her cannon-like exhaust, but that's all lost in the rush of wind. All that I have in front of me is the pale blue of her instrument panel, floating in the darkness like a lover's kiss. The darkness suspends me, and everything draws close around me, until I am cradled in a pocket of air and blackness.

When I was a kid I was terrified of the dark. I absolutely had to have a night light, and most times I couldn't even sleep without my brother or mother being in the room with me. My imagination was so powerful and I was so afraid of lonliness that I couldn't sleep without something to comfort me. The darkness contained all the thing that I was terrified of, gave them all free reign to encroach on me.

And, as I got older, that need for the lambent glow, that desperation to have the light came under my control, was tempered with reality, with the knowledge that the night is truly nothing to fear, and finally one night I found that instead of being comforted by the light filtering from the tiny nightlight in the hallway I was annoyed by it. The first night I slept in total darkness was, oddly enough, an awakening. I had come to love the darkness. I had realised that the night brings it's own wonders.

With the end of Daylight Savings Time a few days ago I find that if I have an errand to run after work it puts me in the dusk coming home. The sun is fading from the sky, limning the clouds with electric reds and pinks, shading them with somber purples and royal blues, and la Lune is coming into her own, bathing the world in her soft greys and pale ivories and gentle slate blues, softening the hard edges, turning angles into softly furred curves, and there I ride. There I am; a yellow cone to herald my passage, a red gleam and chrome grumble to mark my exit, and suspended there in the middle, bathed in blue, there I am, ensconced, protected.

Comforted.

Nov 1, 2006

NaBloPoMo

Sounds like a freight company, somehow.

NO! It's National Blog Posting Month, and I'm all up in that Kool-Aide!

One post a day, guaranteed. From yrs truly to your sweet and ever-attentive eyes.

Rock and or Roll.