Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)
Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.
This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.
Friday, May 24, 2002
Requiescant in pace
Like most Americans, I will be at home Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. I won’t be posting anything then, but I didn’t want to let the day go by unmarked. Following is an excerpt of The Soldier's Faith, a speech delivered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. on May 30, 1895 to a meeting of the graduating class of Harvard University. Be sure to click on the link to read all of it.
We do not save our traditions, in our country. The regiments whose battle-flags were not large enough to hold the names of the battles they had fought vanished with the surrender of Lee, although their memories inherited would have made heroes for a century. It is the more necessary to learn the lesson afresh from perils newly sought, and perhaps it is not vain for us to tell the new generation what we learned in our day, and what we still believe. That the joy of life is living, is to put out all one's powers as far as they will go; that the measure of power is obstacles overcome; to ride boldly at what is in front of you, be it fence or enemy; to pray, not for comfort, but for combat; to keep the soldier's faith against the doubts of civil life, more besetting and harder to overcome than all the misgivings of the battlefield, and to remember that duty is not to be proved in the evil day, but then to be obeyed unquestioning; to love glory more than the temptations of wallowing ease, but to know that one's final judge and only rival is oneself: with all our failures in act and thought, these things we learned from noble enemies in Virginia or Georgia or on the Mississippi, thirty years ago; these things we believe to be true.To all who have given their lives in service to America, may God grant you peace.
The Oracle of Murray
(Including the Exciting Finale!)
Yesterday was grass-cutting day—the first time this season I’ve been able to work in the yard instead of watching kids roll a ball back and forth on someone else’s neatly trimmed yard—and as always my mind was released to explore all the pernicious questions that trouble the world. I wish I had a wireless internet connection and a laptop connected to the handlebars, and then I could post all of it here while I mow. This would be a big help because after solving all of the world’s problems, I promptly forgot about them when the engine stopped. Maybe the lawn mower is like the Temple at Delphi, and the only way I can speak the future is when nearly overcome with gas fumes. (Methane in Delphi, carbon monoxide in Trussville.)
Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that yesterday I succcumbed to wild-eyed nonconformity by not mowing side-to-side, or up-and-down, but...DIAGONALLY! Shocking, I know. In any event, losing the solution to Fermat's Last Theorem is not a big deal, because as I was making the turn at the back corner, I spotted a piece of paper on the ground. A TEN DOLLAR BILL! I felt like the kid in Animal House when the Playboy Bunny landed in his bed. I started looking around to see if there was any more manna, and found A TWENTY! Great howling monkeys! I get $30 to cut my own grass! Then, up under some of the plant life at the edge of my rear neigbor's yard was yet MORE paper. A bank receipt and a cash envelope. No name on the slip, which had been out in the wide open spaces since Monday and was a bit faded and smeared, and it looks like there is another $20 floating around someone's yard, because the receipt had "$50" as cash returned.
So, now, what to do with this windfall, knowing that it belonged to some body?
I had thought it would be a fun idea to see what the huge mass of Possumblog readers would do in a similar situation, and was overwhelmed with the incredible number of responses. The first to write in was Larry Anderson over at Kudzu Acres who wrote:
Depends. Does the receipt have an account number? Then return the money. If not, then remove the delightful banner ad.
My wife finds money all the time. The woman once found a twenty while walking in the New Mexico desert.
The found money pays for my Dairy Queen addiction.
The second letter came from North Carolinian and fellow Weevilite Marc Velazquez of Spudlets, who sent the following:
I know you've been eyeballin' those bobblehead redneck dolls, planning the space on your mantle where you can proudly display them. Let the kids fight over who's going to get them, rather than put them in the will!
PS Hey, how about payin' off my banner ad (and wouldn't Blogger Pro be nice too!)?
And then Mac Thomason, Axis of Weevil Chief of Library Science and famed War Liberal, sent the following:
It was in your YARD for God's sake. Finding money in the sidewalk is one thing, but if it's on your own property, it's yours.
I'm sure there were about a hundred more folks who wanted to write, but suddenly lost all motor control and were unable to hit the "Send" button. You are certainly forgiven--who could have known such a fate would have befallen you at such a critical time?
Anyway, to complete the story, surely you know that the moment I found the receipt it was no longer God giving me a tip for doing a good job on the yard, it was “someone else’s money.” Proving I would never make it in politics or real estate development, I knew that I had to get it to its rightful owner.
After I posted my entry this morning, I walked down the street to SouthTrust at about 9:30 to see how this would work. It’s not that I don’t trust banks, but certain ones (which shall remain nameless) have a tendency to bridle at non-standard requests, such as finding the rightful owner of some nice juicy lucre.
[A note on banks in general; it’s all well and good to spend lots of other people’s dough on acres of marble and granite and terrazzo and chrome plated elevator doors—helps the economy, pays the bills for my brothers in the design professions, impresses people that you are successfully fulfilling your duty to spend lots of dough—but I would really be much more pleased if you didn’t lay out so much cash on fixed assets and save it to spend on hiring entertaining staff. I would like banks much better if every teller was a fashion model who could do stand-up. And if there were beverage carts. And if there were nice comfy chairs. But I digress…]
I stood in line for a minute or two, and proceeded to explain to the teller my quandary. Puzzled look, and instructions that she couldn’t give out information on accountholders. “Well, can’t you just deposit it in their account?” No. She pointed to two desks on opposite sides of the lobby and said I would need to speak to one of those people. (Now you see the point of my digression—had she looked like Debra Jo Fondren, been clad in a stunning Versace pocket handkerchief, and done a quick riff on being frisked at the airport, I would have been much happier. Sorry, no more digressions, I promise.)
Anyway, on to The Desk People. The female version was a Janet Reno clone and was with a customer, and the male version looked to be about 12 and was on the phone, so I figured I would go hover over the boy until he hung up. He hung up as I was walking over, thankfully, and I introduced myself and the situation. He sat down, squinted at the account number, looked it up on the computer and called out the address—it was the street right behind ours, which I figured would be the case—it had to be pretty close by. He asked if I wanted him to call them and I said yes and he did and they weren’t home. “Can’t you just deposit it in their account and send them a note to let them know what happened and why there’s $30 in their account?” With the razor-sharp thinking skills obtainable only by long hours of sitting at a desk, Doogie said “Well, I was going to suggest that. Do you want me to tell them you found it?” I told him just to say one of the neighbors found it, and so he filled out a new deposit slip and said he would get a note in the mail to them with an explanation. He thanked me and shook my hand and said it was certainly an odd thing to have happened and that not everyone would have given it back.
Maybe, maybe not. I just hope the neighbors find their other $20. That, and I’m glad I didn’t bring the Birmingham banking industry to a grinding halt.
I laughed, I cried, I Fisked my pants! Quite frankly one of the finest Scourgings of Richard Cohen ever produced. There is dancing, drama, flaming straw men, and a wonderful new song that is sure to be a hit:
But, how about a I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Sigh-Rag?
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Deep in the Mullet Belt
Sarge chronicles Day II: Crossing Tennessee the Long Way. (He's in the military so he says "dam" a lot.)
Protesters Mock Texans After Bush's Berlin Visit
Please note that this was done from a very safe distance of approximately 4,000 miles.
Smart Chimps Can Use Hammers
And Don't Cuss When They Smash Fingers
From Larry Anderson over at the just-out-of-the-wrapper Kudzu Acres, lessons learned by a former Cold Warrior who daily faced the Bader-Meinhof Gang:
[...] I learned a couple of things from those experiences. Although we knew who was responsible, including names and faces, and that they would plant more bombs, they succeeded time after time because they had safe havens and the advantage of selecting when and where they would act. I think we will see the same thing happen here in the US. Second, the bombings stopped when the safe havens were removed with the fall of East Germany. As long as the terrorists have a place to hide and time to plan their attacks, they will succeed.
Brother Maynard! Bring up the Holy Hand Grenade!
Via Emily Jones at Give War a Chance, the fearsome dweller of the Cave of Caerbannog! I soiled my armour I was so scared!
Tuesday evening I took Little Boy for a haircut, and when we got home found out that my wife had allowed the girls to be kidnapped by the folks next door. Our kids had been playing “see who can scream loudest and run wildly through the back yard terrorizing the neighbor’s cat” when the neighbor’s teenaged daughter came in from school. They all screamed loudly and ran wildly over to the edge of the yard and waved and waved and said hey and waved, which made Neighbor Girl laugh and invite them to come over and play. Sucker.
They were all still over there when I got back, so I sent Jonathan to the neighbor’s back door. Knock-knock. Nothing. “Knock again, buddy!” Again, no response. Reba—“I think you’ll have to go over there and get ‘em.” ::sigh::
Knowing that my three girls in someone else’s house is not A Good Thing, I sort of dreaded going and finding out what all had been broken and who had gotten pounded in the head. I went over and stuck my head in the back door and quietly called, but again no response, although I could hear shrieking and high-pitched giggling from somewhere in the house. ::sigh::
Go to front door and ring bell. Waiting, I can hear a piano being “played” inside—loudly, with the syncopated non-rhythmic pounding that can only be accomplished by a feral five year old. Russ the Neighbor Dad comes to the door and I sheepishly ask how much they have destroyed. “Aw, their fine!” I hear the older two shouting at each other upstairs and see a flash of curls fly up the steps “Hide! Daddy’s here to takes us to home!” I stick my head in and tell them to come on, and by now Neighbor Daughter has come downstairs to the door and flashed a wicked grin, “I hope you don’t mind, but I let them have a Popsicle while they were here!” “Just not enough destruction for you, eh?”
She said they had been fine, too. The flash of curls comes flying back by and I hear the piano torture start up again, and just then Little Boy comes running up and says “Mama says to tell you the Brother Drew and Brother Jim are coming by.” ::sigh:: Our preacher and elders have been trying to get by and visit everyone in the congregation and it had finally gotten to be our turn.
“Y’all come ON! The preacher’s coming over!” They finally pound out of the house, and I apologize to Russ the Neighbor Dad for them once more and detain them long enough to get them to say thanks to Neighbor Daughter for the Popsicles.
Back at our house, supper was almost ready and the kids were buttocks over elbows in the den picking up the accumulated detritus of their childhood. Reba said that she almost told the preacher no, but that they were going to get to us eventually, and at least we could get the den picked up. ::sigh::
Power Rangers and Barbies and balls and books and books and stickers and small bits of paper and cards and books and Obi-Wan and R2-D2 and books and crayons and pillows and shoes and elastic ponytail holders and Game-Boys and books and string all disappeared somewhere. I even got the vacuum out and made a few passes and by the time we were finished, one room of our house looked almost presentable. Must have been the ingestion of mass quantities of Popsicles. We ate, and then I sent the older girls to their rooms with explicit instructions to REMAIN in their rooms for the duration and NOT to sneak over and start a fight. Sullen “Yes, sir” from Oldest Girl, chipper “Yes, sir!” from Middle Girl. Boy was given explicit instructions to get upstairs and take a bath and wash all the little hair clippings out of his hair and not to fight with his sisters. Silly “Yes, SIR, my Daddy SIR!” administered with exaggerated hand salute. “And YOU,” as I pointed at The Wrecking Ball, “will stay down here with Mama and Daddy so we can keep an eye on you and make sure you’re not tearing something up!” (Because Daddy would get hauled to jail were he to tie you to the tree stump outside and leave you with a bowl of water and a blanket.)
Finally the doorbell rings and we bring them all in—the preacher has brought his younger brother who is going to intern with us this summer and work with the young people. Jim the Elder makes his way in, too, and the first thing out of his mouth is an urgent “Hey, glad to see you, can I use your bathroom!?” I take him through the dining room and find out where all of the stuff from the den got put. “Please, just close your eyes, Jim!” “That’s okay, they’re floating and about to pop outta my head, so I can’t see anything!” Good man.
We settle down and have a good time talking. I ask how their visits are going and we talk church business and try to corral Catherine as she bounces around and inserts herself into the conversation, which inexorably turns to child-rearing tips. Our preacher is married but doesn’t have any kids yet, so Jim the Elder (who also has four kids—ranging from mid-20s to 4) and Reba and I interspersed the mission trip talks and class schedule talks with the accumulated wisdom that comes from matching wits with children.
Did you know that the cure for a child who angrily slams her bedroom door is to simply remove the door from its hinges? Did you know that the best way to answer the taunt “I’m gonna RUN AWAY!” is to calmly agree, conditioned upon allowing the child to take away only what he came into the world with? Did you know that children are very concerned about disturbing their parents, and so will wake them up at 2 a.m. to tell them not to worry, they are only going to the potty? Did you know that if a child gets sick in bed at night and does a Technicolor Yawn, he more than likely will do it again, and so it is therefore better to not allow him the comfort of returning to sleep in YOUR bed?
The Bible is a great book, but I guess there are a few things that God in His wisdom decided folks should figure out on their own.
During most of our conversation, Catherine plopped down on the couch between the preacher and his brother and interrupted to chatter about kitties and horses and school and her beach shoes and her smelly toes and her teacher and her Mama’s gallstones and her Daddy sleeps in his underwear. Occasionally she would get up to twirl herself around, or to throw her baby doll into its carriage to be dragged around, or pull out the giant inflatable Barbie chair and try to knock over the semi-antique drum table with it. Thankfully, she did not pick her nose or fart. Not that it would have mattered.
The two older girls did manage to not start a border war, although they did make a couple of trips downstairs to deliver vital intelligence to Mom about the nefarious plots the other had underway. I told them to make sure they told Tom Daschle, too. “Huh?” “Just get back upstairs, Daddy’s just trying to be funny.”
Anyway, it got late and our guests excused themselves and I finally got to breathe a ::sigh:: of relief rather than exasperation. What a long evening, and even longer before all of them got their baths and got into bed.
The weirdest thing was what happened last night. We got out of church and were headed home, and Reba said that the preacher’s wife pulled her aside after church and told her “You know, Drew got home last night and couldn’t quit talking about all of Terry’s parenting advice—he was really impressed!”
Somehow, I managed to snooker someone else into believing I know what I’m talking about.
I asked Reba if she tried to talk some sense into her and she said “Nah, they’ll find out when they have their own, bless their hearts.”
Elizabeth Spiers of Capital Influx holds forth on business books:
[...] One of the scourges of the business book genre is its overreliance on metaphor, and inevitable transformation of popular metaphors into industry jargon. If someone tells me, for example, that they're looking for a "gorilla" stock, I know they're referring to Geoffrey Moore's "The Gorilla Game." Normal people do not. It gets especially annoying when the metaphors are so ubiquitous that people mix them with reckless disregard for how ridiculous they sound. "I'm looking for a gorilla that will cross the chasm by living on the right side of the fault line." That sentence is completely incomprehensible if you haven't read Moore's books or don't have the aid of a trusty Moore-to-English dictionary. (Don't get me wrong; Moore's a smart guy, but most of his key ideas could probably be distilled into a 20 page white paper - without the metaphors.)Know your strengths. I think Peter Drucker said that. Or maybe it was Sam Drucker on Petticoat Junction. In any event, Miss Elizabeth knows her books and knows about money. Ignore her bourgeois words of wisdom at your peril. (And somehow she even manages to work in a link to Possumblog!)
Ooooo, a little bunny rabbit! I will rub him, and pat him, and call him "George."
Steven Den Beste gets a letter demanding conformance to an idea he doesn't agree with.
[...] But to demand that I apologize for an idea simply because you don't like it is to miss the point: it isn't wrong for me to say things you don't like, and it is actively wrong for you to try to force me to change my opinions against my will. I think that George's problem wasn't so much that he himself didn't want to read what I'd written as that he didn't want anyone else to, either. George wanted an apology and penance from me to undo the damage I had done by expressing my opinion on the subject. At that point, George crossed the line.Well, slap me silly! George is none other than J Bowen of No Watermelons Allowed! Here is his take on the whole mess.
[...] But the original post was more heated than what I usually write, and I took another look after I had sent the email. Then I recognized the faulty parallel, which had been my inspiration for proposing an apology. So I took the post back down, noted it as having been changed to what you see in the previous post, and reposted it. Whoops, I guess I shouldn't have sent the courtesy email.
A Bunch of Liars
Via The Birmingham News:
[...] The jury's foreman delivered the verdict shortly after 1:30 p.m. and Circuit Judge James Garrett asked Cherry, 71, whether he had anything to say. The man who years ago beat blacks with brass knuckles and pistol butts stood, turned and pointed to the white prosecutors who sent him to prison for life. He called one a punk.Awfully bold talk for a man portrayed by his attorneys as unable to assist in his own defense.
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Over on my GeoCities site (not the old Possumblog site, but the original one) where I keep a few pre-blog stories and links and stuff, I have one pretty long story that deals with one of the few times all the planets aligned properly and the family and I spent a whole day without getting lost, having an unfortunate bladder control incident, or being late. We went to the pediatrician, the eye doctor, out to eat, made a couple of trips to Wal-Mart, went and saw Atlantis (with my own snotty movie review)--more or less the same crap I talk about now. Every once in a while I like to check the stats for these pages, just to see how people wind up there. There are never more than about two or three hits per week, and I know no one goes there intentionally, because it’s just one story about the banalities of my life (as opposed to the exciting updated-daily blog version), but it is funny to see what folks think might be on there, based on their Google search strings:
walmart eye doctor
eye exam caution dilation
real doctor optometry
storyboards for baby commercials
frightening tongue depressor exam
baby blowing out candles animation
meat boy at walmart
waspy baby names
Put them all together and they spell Possumblog.
Remains Found in DC Could Be Levy's
Condit's Sphincter Issues Audible Pucker
The Nation's Anti-Terrorism Efforts, Then and Now
From Newhouse News Service, a bright young fellow named James holds forth about the sea change in interagency cooperation post 9/11.
Beware the wenned one.
I come back from lunch, and apparently things have settled back down in The House That Ev Built. Posting looks like it works again, so the English language is once more in peril.
Well, something's wrong somewhere in the great Blogger/Blogspot continuum, and posts that were showing up an hour ago are not showing up now, even though it says my FTP is working. Hurrumph. Back in my day decent people used manual Remingtons to do this stuff.
A Storm in Flanders
Just picked up Winston Groom's newest last night. I haven't read any of it yet, but just looking at the photographs sent a cold shiver down my spine. That, along with the knowledge that what occurred along the Ypres Salient shaped the last century, and continues to influence this one.
Our Kind of Yankee
Via Chris Johnson over at the Midwest Conservative Journal, a sharp article by John Shelton Reed.
There has always been more to New York City than the "people who run things." Ever since the heyday of Jacksonian Democracy, an on-again off-again alliance has existed between ordinary Southerners (that is, most of us) and New York's working people. After the Civil War and Reconstruction, this coalition was famously described as one of "rum, Romanism and rebellion." Later, it elected Franklin Roosevelt to four terms. Later still, it reassembled to elect Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
Good friend Tarheel Marc Velazquez of Spudlets fame sends the following:
Jeff Foxworthy doesn't have quite enough money - can you help? You might want to consider putting one of these in the gift bag for future Axis of Weevil members. I was trying to imagine how to include a Possumblogger for the line, but I couldn't come up with any snappy descriptions.Collectible Redneck Figurines. Or Redneck Collectible Figurines.
So very wrong...yet, so very compelling.
From the Foxworthysfolks website:
Zach Steed of Steed Products says, "'Foxworthys Folks by R. David Boyd' capitalizes on the popularity of collectibles and a growing trend in Redneck humor as evidenced by the extraordinary success of the Foxworthy greeting card line and other merchandise."All ten figurines may be purchased as a set for $249.00, or individually for $24.99. I'm sure the Possumblogger figurine will be released in the next round of ten.
I can hardly wait.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Due to having to pay the bills and stave off creditors, there will be no creamy and delicious Possumblog until tomorrow afternoon. Also, thanks again to the folks dropping by from DailyPundit--as always, I am completely unprepared for guests. Just prop your feet up and turn on the TV and I'll try to find something in the refrigerator for us.
Era Will Pass With Retirement of NIH Glassblower
Via Bruce Taylor Seeman of the Newhouse News Service, the story of Bill Dehn, glassblower.
Some of Dehn's creations helped scientists streamline their work or conduct unlikely tests. One creation allowed gas to slowly seep into a compartment to anesthetize a fruit fly. Another was a "mouse milker" -- an arrangement of tiny glass suction cups that pulled milk from a mouse's teats. It was used in a breast cancer experiment. "It works!" an excited lab technician told Dehn shortly after an initial test. "Now I don't have to stand there and get bitten any more."As someone who has had to fill a bow pen and use it to draw circles with a compass on vellum, I know whereof he speaks. On a medium-sized job with a lot of niggling details, I could still probably put together a complete set of handdrawn construction documents faster than a CAD operator, and it would have a sense of style and interesting little bits of stuff tucked away to make a sharp-eyed contractor chuckle.
But like John Henry, the effort would kill me.
UPDATE: Apparently my pitiful self-deprecation struck a chord with the inventor of the term "Blogosphere" and the benevolent writer of DailyPundit, William Quick, who took the time to add me to his set of permalinks. Thank you DailyPunditMan, and my sincerest regrets to everyone who visits with the expectation of finding high-quality examples of writerly spendor--this is available only after you leave my site. But, for those who just can't get enough foolishness written by a very large, dense member of the Alabama Sport Blogging Society aka The Axis of Weevil, you have come to the right place. For those who aren't quite sure about this place, don't worry--it is non-toxic and washes up with warm soapy water.
A Day Without the Scourging of Illiberal Utopian Statists is a Day Without Sunshine
Shaking off the remaining cobwebs of the Midwest Blogbash, Axis of Weevil Grand Inquisitor Charles Austin asks the eternal question "Why is Richard Cohen so very stupid." Charles then proceeds to roll Mr. Cohen about in his fingers like a small booger.
InstaPundit has moved into spiffy new digs, but still inexplicably with no links to Possumblog. Where else can people go for such tripe as this? Yeah, I realize there are half a million blogs out there--but only one has the courage to associate itself with large, furry, ratlike marsupials. Surely that must count for something! I mean, the warblog content and political content of Possumblog has been light lately, but the inane chatter level is still quite high. And of course, there is the Axis of Weevil, which has just added two brand new planters full of seasonal color at the front entrance to the World Headquarters complex. The parking lot even has a new gravel to replace what got washed away in the last storm.
Tale of the Lug Nut, Part the Second
The Epilogue of the Wal-Mart Tire Trip and Damaged Lug Nut Story. Lotsa words with very little significance, but at least the admission price is free. So, to begin…
I called the Pontiac dealership near my house yesterday afternoon to see just how much this replacement lug nut was going to set my good friends at the House of Sam back. The service lady first said the tab would be $60 or $80 or so, and I explained I only needed (or hoped I needed) a lug nut put back on, not a complete replacement of the stud. “Oh, well that should be around $20.” Not looking like an excellent adventure at all for Bill and Ted.
On the way home I stopped at AutoZone and bought a lug nut. 99 cents. $1.07 with tax. Took it home, spun it on and torqued it down. Fixed. Took five minutes, three of which were spent getting the lug wrench out of the trunk.
Now several things start running through my mind—why didn’t THEY just go get a lug nut and put it on? Is it worth it to take back a receipt for $1.07 just to make a point? How will this sound as a blog entry?
I rehearsed the potential exchange in my head—I would show up at the service desk and very seriously say that I had my lug nut replaced and I had the bill and remind the manager that he said they would pay for it. The manager I imagined would be an older guy, a bit heavyset with glasses, and would have a certain gravitas that said “boss;” maybe he even had his own shop before succumbing to the lure of steady Wally World work. He would have a stern but harried look on his face, a look of resignation at having to spend all of the store’s profit from four cheapo tires on some goober on a quest to be a big man. He might try to protest, or not. Hard to say.
Then I would plonk down my receipt for $1.07 and grin a bit, and he would loosen up and I would tell him he dodged a bullet because the dealership wanted 20 bucks to put it on. He would finally chuckle and say something like even though he thought this was too much, and he wasn’t really responsible for the damage, that he would pay it anyway just to keep a good customer, and then he would ask me if I wanted that credited to my credit card or as a store credit, and I would laugh and say cash would be fine and he would crack the register and hand me a dollar and a nickel and two pennies. Then we would chat a bit about the technicians and I would say I knew they didn’t mean to mess it up and how hard it is to get guys who really cared about their work, and he would say that he has tried to get them to be sure and tell customers when something like this happens, and we would have a little side chat about how Keanu Dude was just a little too much of a loose cannon—nice guy but squirrely, and finally I would bid him good-bye to let him finish up.
Quite the little fantasy land I had constructed for myself there, folks.
I called first to make sure they were open. It was about 7:30. I got the manager on the phone, but only asked him what time they closed—“7:00 p.m.” I figured he was just finishing up for the day and would be there a bit longer, so I gathered up my receipt and hit the road. I got there a few minutes later and there were stacks of customers still waiting for their cars. Spicoli was at the register ignoring the couple in front of him. He was chatting very intently with a guy behind the counter who was as skinny and wrinkled as a Slim Jim. Short, sunburnt, long stringy blonde mullet, wrap-around shades on top of his head (remembering that it is now nearly 8 p.m. and he is indoors), homemade tattoos running up both ropey arms, hollow rheumy eyes, pack of smokes in his hand. Looked about fifty, was probably thirty. I saw his name tag. He was the manager.
They finally figured out what was wrong with the customers’ bill in front of me and sent them on their way. I moved up and they went back to working on damage control from the last customers. Talk, talk, point at computer, talk, cough up a lung, talk, shake head, peer, mumble, cough. I stand there. Take one more step forward. Am studiously ignored. Finally, they give up trying to read the entrails and decide to figure out what the fat guy wants.
They turn toward me. “You waiting on a car?”
“Uh, no, I talked to you on the phone Saturday. I had the car in for four tires and one of the lug nuts got damaged and you said to bring you the receipt and I would be reimbursed.”
Blank, dead look, right about at my collar button. “You got your receipt?”
“Yes, right here, for a whopping dollar and seven cents.”
Spicoli broke into a huge grin, and I could hear him thinking “EX-cellennnnnt!” The manager laid his smokes down, picked up the receipt and started walking toward the front—“I’ve gotta go get this from The Front.” It could have been a receipt for a fifty, a hundred, or a thousand, it didn’t seem to make a difference one way or the other. One dollar, fifty dollars—it only meant having to go to The Front.
Another customer asked for his car, Spicoli pointed the way, and we spend a couple of uncomfortable minutes waiting for the Return of The Manager. “Yeah, he like, had to go up to The Front for that.” Wait. “Oh, cool, there he is!” I look over and the manager is back, for some reason looking at stuff on one of the aisles. He turns and walks back over and mumbles something to Keanu, who digs out his wallet and produces a dollar bill. “They take forever up at The Front. Here’s a dollar, and…” The manager digs out two pennies from the pocket of his jeans…“and two cents. That all?” Same blank eyes, now fixed somewhere about three feet behind me.
“Yeah. That’s all. Thanks.”
I figure there is absolutely no use in stretching this out any longer to explain that two cents is not equal to seven cents. There is no jovial give and take, no small talk about the value of good service, no wink and nudge about Spicoli being such a doof (having reached the conclusion that he is the smart one—that old ‘one-eyed man in the land of the blind’ thing), no commiserating about the good old days when cars were simple and you could fix one in your yard, no thanks for not screwing the store for $60. Nothing. Meaning what, exactly? Got me, there, pal. Had I known my attempt to make a point about a matter of principle would have gotten no response, I would have just forgotten about it. I guess I just had to go see if it would make a difference. Here, meet my friend Sancho Panza.
(By the way, don’t feel sorry that I took out my useless it’s-the-principle-of-the-thing on the counter guys. I worked in a grocery store long, long ago—I know all about shrinkage and I guarantee you that Wal-Mart lost a whole lot more than a dollar over this.)
Oh well. If nothing else, it gave me something to vent about. Next time I think I need tires, maybe I’ll reread this.
Monday, May 20, 2002
Patrick Carver has moved The Ole Miss Conservative over to Blogspot. The new address is http://www.patrickcarver.blogspot.com/
Congratulations to Axis of Weevil's Minister of Finance Elizabeth Spiers of Capital Influx for being chosen as one of Blogger's Blogs of Note!
HAH! Survived another weekend!
Friday evening was supposedly going to be a makeup day for Little Buddy to make up an earlier rained out game. The weather had been a bit soupy, but the fields were open, so I gathered up Boy and started out the door with Curious Georgette and Middle Girl and the sack of drinks and snacks we were assigned to bring to the LAST rained-out game. Reba managed to miss the ensuing fun due to having to ferry Oldest Girl to a sleepover.
We made it to the park with about five minutes to spare, and met up with Reba’s mom and dad, who were all excited about seeing Only Grandson play—they had missed all the rest. Boy runs around for a minute or two and it gets to be time to start. Whistle blows, arms and legs, a couple of outs of bounds, rain, lightning, whistle blows, game called. Over in about five minutes. Oh well. Grab snacks and drinks, assorted children, folding chair, water bottle, umbrella and head home. The rest of the evening is devoted to following FOX6’s David Neal (the weatherman Mac Thomason over at War Liberal poked fun at a few weeks back—with extreme accuracy) as he peered intently at hook echoes and rotation indications and watch boxes; and watched breathless reports from Rubenesque Reporter Ronda Robinson at City Stages as she stood outside in torrents of rain and urged people to take shelter.
Saturday was a typical late-fall, early-winter day. Gray, constant wind of about 20 knots, low 40s. I don’t know what it was, but Alabama in May it certainly was NOT!
Everyone back to the park and watch Little Boy get smacked right in the mouth and nose with a flaming fast kick right at the goal. They didn’t score, but Lil’ Mister Head Trauma had to sit down and cry for a bit and get some water. I stayed with him until he said, “I can’t see the game, Daddy.” “Do you want me to go sit back down?” “Yes sir.” I looked back down the line in a few minutes and he was laughing and cutting up again, so I suppose he was okay. He went back in after a few more minutes and did fine, although they wound up losing. This was their last game, so it was kind of disappointing to lose, but they didn’t seem to care because they were going to get to go to the movies. Of course, since Rebecca’s game was at the same time all the little guys were going to the movie, we decided to swap our tickets for a later show.
After we did the ticket swap, Reba took the rest of the crew back to the house, and I set out for one of my signature three-county soccer trips, except this time I left the truck at home. No use terrorizing everyone in Alabaster again with gasoline-fueled bazooka fire. Of course, using the car showed me just how badly I needed to spend money on a set of tires. They have been a bit lumpy for a while, but progressively have gotten worse to the point that Saturday it felt like I was riding along in Fred Flintstone’s flivver. There was no speed at which the harmonic imbalances of four square tires would balance themselves out, so chalk up something else to spend money on. But, I figured (because I am a figuring fool) that I could save some time by dropping it off at the only store in town where you can buy tampons and tires, and then pick it up after we go to the movies. I really need to give up this insane desire to save time. More on that later.
Anyway, we get to the park with about five minutes to spare and fortunately the weather had warmed up to a balmy 45 degrees, with a nice stiff breeze. The girls played so hard this time, and Rebecca especially played well forward and broke up several plays, but alas, they lost once more, 1-0. The lone goal came as the other team was setting up to shoot and one of their girls took a very hard face-first fall. She laid there and didn’t get up and all of the girls stopped playing. The referee didn’t stop play though, and as the other team’s coach started out onto the field, one of their girls kicked the ball into the goal. Score one. Then the game stopped. Somehow, I don’t think I would have wanted to win that way. In any event, as soon as the coach got out there, the girl jumped up and grinned and ran back off the field. Hmm. Whatever.
Back in the car, back across three counties, back home and it was time to turn back around and go meet up with the little guys at Sonic. We sat there for a little while waiting on them to get back from the movie, and were entertained by three of the waitresses chasing a gang of their little brothers around. The boys were so proud of themselves for getting away, and all I could think of is the day when they would want to get caught. Jonathan’s team trickled in after the movie, and I went on to drop off the car.
I like Wal-Mart a bunch, but I had vowed after my last oil change when they screwed up the drain plug on my van that I would not use the auto service department. But the lure of cheap tires, the need for Benedryl and wheel cleaner and SpongeBob bandages, and a convenient location directly across the parking lot from the theater drew me in. I am an idiot. Always listen to yourself when you tell yourself not to do something.
I was met by the same service writer who wrote up my ill-fated oil change. If you can imagine a cross between Keanu Reaves as Ted Logan and Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli, you have set your intellectual meter a bit too high. Super nice guy, but mostly foam twixt the ears. He was helping a new worker take my order with their fancy handheld computerized satellite uplink order-taker thing. I told him I needed four, size P205/75R-15.
“‘K, like, he needs four? Yeah, four tires and so you like put in the number, which would be four, and then you need to put in the size. Do you know what size these tires are?”
“’K, so you put in the size go down here like this where the sizes are—yeah, that’s right” Then she says “P255/70R-14?”
Both Spicoli AND me—“No. Two OH five, seventy FIVE”
“Oh, there it is—P205/75R-14.”
“Oh wow, sorry, got it, man, sorry about that. Did you like just want just fronts or all of them.”
::heavy sigh:: “I wanted all four changed please.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right, four! Super! You know, this thing really is great, she’s just not used to doing it like this, you know, ‘cause she used to have to like fill in a form, and then put THAT in the computer and it took a lot longer time.”
I shudder to think how it could have taken longer, but I dare not contemplate it too much for fear of my head disappearing. Got my ticket and headed over to the theater and met family with once more, about five minutes to spare before the show. Which we wasted trying to get popcorn. Which meant that by the time we got into the theater, the only place where there were six seats together was down front.
Movie review time. You haven’t seen Attack of the Clones until you’ve watched it at the base of a 20 foot high screen. Brings it into a whole new perspective, so to speak.
It wasn’t so bad, after the crick in my neck went numb. The movie itself is much better than Phantom Menace, mainly because there’s less Jar Jar and more Natalie Portman showing her emotions (which is my code word for skin.) It probably ranks up there as third on the list—The Original, followed by Empire Strikes Back, then this one. Several reviewers have mentioned the interesting bits of stuff they found, and these are some of the ones I saw (look away if you don’t want some spoilers!)
1. There is a cameo by Kermit the Frog and Oscar the Grouch in the Geonosis arena scene—they’re off to the left and Oscar gets his can flipped over. Also, when Boba Fett closes the closet in the Fett apartment on Kamino, you can see a Tickle-Me Elmo in the back.
2.Even though N*SYNC was cut out of the arena scene, they are still prominently featured in the Coruscant city chase scenes—they are playing in the bar, and can be seen with their newest CD in one of the billboards.
3. C-3PO can be heard uttering a vulgar expletive for sexual intercourse several time throughout the movie.
4. In the fight scene between Count Dooku and Yoda, Yoda’s head is briefly replaced by that of Alfred E. Newman.
5. There is a Craft Services table visible in the first scene on Tatooine.
6. When Obi-Wan puts on the clothing of the queen’s lady-in-waiting and admires himself in the mirror, you can see a camera in the reflection right before Padme enters the room.
Overall, it really is pretty good. Did I mention that Natalie Portman shows more emotion in this film? Her emotions nearly reach the point of overflowing during the fireplace scene in the lodge on Naboo. That was good. I say more emotions. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it, so I reckon it was okay. I went back to pick up the car. Yep, four new ones, all the right size. I was shocked. I got my other stuff and headed home, where I looked back over the bill.
“LUG NUT DAMAGED WHEN REMOVED COULD NOT REPLACE W/O DAMAGING BOLT”
::yet another heavy sigh:: Such an ordeal. Got the manager, who decided to put the technician on the phone to ‘splain hisself. “Uh, yeah, when I got it off, it was really bad stripped, and if I put it back on, I was afraid, ‘cause it might get cross threaded or something.” Thanks, now get me the manager again.
“Well, you see, I already understood HOW he tore it up, but I have now been left with a car with a missing lug nut that you didn’t replace and that no one told me was missing.”
“We don’t have anything here to fix it with. What bolt pattern does it have?” “Five lug.” “Well, it’s safe do drive like that.”
“Okay, the thing is that even though it may be safe, I really would prefer it to be like it was when I brought it in, and the way it was when it left the factory. I figure if they wanted it to have five lug nuts, it really needs to have five.” I said this with a bit of a laugh, because I knew I was dancing on the edge of being one of those smart ass customers who can never be satisfied. He didn’t seem to take it that way. I could never tell if he was mad at me for calling back about it, or mad at the technician, or mad that he knew he was going to have to pay for this. “Yeah, I KNOW it’s SUPPOSED to have five, but we DON’T have a way to fix it.”
“Well then, what are we going to do about this.”
Silence. I am replaying The Missiles of October in my head.
Tersely, “Take it somewhere and have them put a nut on there and bring us the invoice and we’ll cover it.” “Oh, that’s fine then, I’ll be glad to do that. Let me just copy this down on my receipt—‘Manager says to take to shop and have them replace nut, Wal-Mart will reimburse cost’—right?” “Yeah.” “Thanks, and what was your name?” Wrote that down. “And do you have a place on the computer there on my invoice where you can enter in that you told me that this would be reimbursed?” “Yeah.” “Okay, great, well mark that down on there and I will be in to see you. Thanks for your help!” “Yeah.” It’ll be interesting to see if I can actually get them to pay this without acting like a belligerent moron. Of course, where would the fun be in that?
The rest of the weekend went off without a snag (or much sleep) and then I found myself here. So there you go.
Friday, May 17, 2002
Goodness, I am still sleepy. And no relief in sight—tonight we have a Little Guy soccer game and have to ferry Oldest Girl to a sleepover at the same time, then tomorrow there’s the last game of the season for Middle Girl, which just so happens to coincide with Little Boy’s team party. (They are going to go see Attack of the Clowns then afterwards to Sonic for mass quantities of sugar) We were all supposed to go with him to the movie, but it looks like Dad and Soccer Girl will have to miss it. Then later Saturday we have to get Oldest Girl back from the sleepover, then Sunday will be Middle Girl’s team party, which is a pool party, which just so happens to coincide with a service project the Oldest Girl is supposed to be doing at church. All this on top of my plans for world domination and assembling the Secret Plastic Storage Shed.
Oh well—in the immortal words of Pinky and The Brain:
“Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
”I think so Brain, but who wants to see Snow White and the Seven Samurai?”
All of you have a great weekend--see you Monday.
Awwww… Is there anything so heartwarming as hearing little tiny feet pad across the bedroom floor and having a tiny little tousle-headed girl ask to get in bed with Mama and Daddy because the monsters made her have a bad dream? The only thing I can think of which matches the coziness of sleeping with Little Girl Munchkin would be if I were sewn in a sack full of copperheads and mousetraps, hung from a post and beaten with sledgehammers.
“Gee, sweetheart, I think you will be just fine. The monsters were just big friendly helpers and they were trying to help you sleep.”
Head shake “no.”
“Well, would you like to try to go back in your room?”
Head shake “no.”
“Sweetie, Mama and Daddy REALLY need to get some sleep—would you like Daddy to come in there and watch you while you go back to sleep?”
Head shake “no.” “Theys was BIG mossters.”
“Could I get you to go to sleep on our bed then let me put you in your bed when you go back to sleep? Please?”
Head shake “no.” Little whimper.
::sigh:: “Well come on then.”
Luckily, Reba was between us. Little Girl tends to have very active legs, and I have had several sets of family jewels ruined by her wild nocturnal kicks. Unluckily, whenever she gets in bed, the spacial requirements suddenly become inverted. One would think that Daddy, being the widest, would get proportionally more mattress, but Prissy Butt sprawls out over ¾ of the bed, leaving her loving and very tired parents to scrabble for the remaining quarter. Of course, being a gentleman, this means I try to content myself with a foot-wide edge, to which I must grab onto with my butt cheeks and cling dearly so as not to roll off in the floor and wake everyone up.
Flinch and wake up about to fall off side--“Reba, can you sleep on your side?” ::groggily:: “mblslmbls…you have your backpack with you…” “Reba, can you move on your side?” ::still groggy:: “…get in the car…I AM sleeping on my side!” I send out Mr. Hand to explore the situation—hmmm…what are these two things here pointed at the ceiling? Either someone just thinks she is on her side, or she has been repainted by Picasso. Oh, well. I console myself that I don’t have to put up with Little Miss Jackie Chan’s crotch kicks.
Sometime around 3 a.m., Reba got tired of being pummeled and drooled on and got up and did laundry. She was not a happy camper this morning. Catherine, on the other hand, woke up chipper and in a mood to talk ALL about her dream, which involved nurses and the soccer field and monsters and cats and breakfast and fire.
At least she didn’t wet the bed.
Thursday, May 16, 2002
I'm so proud! One thing that Dr. Weevil has NOT compared bloggers to is kudzu, so it is with great pleasure I present to you a brand new blog called KudzuAcres.
You will notice a few posts earlier I had a funny e-mail from Larry Anderson who signed off as being from Kudzu Acres, Alabama. I wrote him back and mentioned that I thought that would make a great title for a blog--he sort of hemmed and hawed around about silly things such as having a job and stuff, but able to turn him to the Blog Side was I. In his first post, he blames me for his coming bout with Obsessive/Compulsive Blog Disorder, but despite his protestations, he's a fellow with something to say. Mainly about kudzu right now. But, he also knows all sorts of stuff about military blowie-uppie things and has a pickup truck and a strong yearn to enter the Axis of Weevil, so he's obviously on the right track. Best of luck, Kudzu Acres Guy!
Short 20th is closed, every Porta-Let in town is rented, lots of sweaty young things in halter tops and shorts, and what's that I see...ah yes, a funnel cake trailer! It can mean only one thing, it's time for Birmingham's City Stages music festival, which promises to not suck this year.
It really is a pretty cool thing (even in the sucky years) and it does help show folks that Birmingham is actually a neat, friendly place, and downtown especially is clean (more or less) and not filled with criminals. As with all such events, there are corporate sponsors for the ten stages scattered around the area, the most intriguing being the Road Runner High Speed Online GospelFest. Just something about that combination that seems...odd.
Craig Biggerstaff, writer of Page Fault Interrupt and member of the Axis of Weevil, has decided to close up shop.
I started this blog at the beginning of the year without a specific purpose other than to sharpen a mind grown dull. Daily obligations and routine have made an imprint on me for the past three years, and not for the better. I find I'm not as good as I should be at fatherhood or marriage, the quality of my work has suffered, and I'm enduring rather than really living. I had hopes that the blog, by forcing my thoughts out in public, would infuse new clarity into my thinking and raise the level of my game. (I don't know whether or not it actually has.)All of my best to you, Craig.
You know, there have been a couple of stories or so lately about Br'er Jimmeh's Excellent Adventure, but one thing (among more than a few) that has bugged me is the feeling that somehow all of his profound concerns about the embargo against Desi Arnaz's homeland could have been addressed earlier. Seem like Billy's Brother was at one time in a relatively important position and could have saved everyone a lot of grief had he done everything he's talking about now, then. But I guess that's being a little too simplistic. In any event, I thought a little primer on U.S.--Cuba relations during the Carter years would make some interesting reading. The "Informational Letter on Contemporary Cuban-American Relations," 26 April 1979 found over on the Cold War International History Project website sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars gives an interesting summation of the time from a perspective not normally heard in the debate, since it was a Top Secret document prepared by the ambassador of the USSR to Cuba, V.Vorotnikov. An excerpt:
[...] It was indicated further that Cuba did not oppose a peaceful political settlement to the problems of Zimbabwe and Namibia, but that it refused to bind itself in connection with its future policy in that region, considering that the racist regimes might undertake such provocations and aggressive actions against Angola as would "demand a response." At the same time it was emphasized that Cuba adhered to a constructive position and consistently therewith was in favor of a peaceful settlement to conflicts, including those arising among African countries. As an example, they pointed to the efforts previously undertaken by the Cubans to attain a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia, and the assistance rendered by them in support of an improvement in relations between Angola and Zaire.Looks to me like Rabbitstalker had his chance way back when--and Fidel was even more cute and cuddly then.
UPDATE: Possumblog may only have six readers, but they sure as heck are a fun bunch. Just received this from Mr. Larry Anderson:
Subject: JimmehActually, I believe it was part of grand plan to replicate Cuban economic success on a much larger scale.
And, since we're beating a dead rabbit with a paddle, for everyone who mocks GWB's manglement of "nucular," please remember that James Earl Carter, Junior, who did graduate work in nuclear science at Union College in Schenectady, New York and worked with Admiral Hyman Rickover in the nuclear submarine program, managed to completely do away with the "ell," and gave the world "nukier." It was wonderful to watch his performance in the debate with Reagan, in which he recalled that lovely Amy's biggest concern was "nukier" weapons. Following is a snip from that debate from the Commission on Presidential Debates website (and yes, they went to the trouble of spelling "nuclear" as it is spelled, rather than the more comical spoken version I have rendered):
MR. CARTER: I think, to close out this discussion, it would be better to put into perspective what we're talking about. I had a discussion with my daughter, Amy, the other day, before I came here, to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought nukier weaponry - and the control of nukier arms. This is a formidable force. [...]Yep, formidable.
The Objective Thing
Ken Layne with some conclusions gained from a few walks around the block:
Those who blow themselves up to kill as many civilians as possible aren't just terrorists. At that point, they're Devils. They're Devils like the Devils who flew planes into the WTC and Pentagon.
Ain't No Gray, That For Sure
Dr. Frank captures an alien on film, and I gotta say that if all ETs look like this, then enthrallment to a superior interplanetary overlord wouldn't be a bad thing at all.
Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Speaking of kids, last night was band recital night for Oldest Daughter. She has made it up to second clarinet, third position, which my wife tells me is fair-to-middlin', but in my thinking is next to stupendous given her absolute lack of practice outside of band period at school and the fact that she resents the fact that her teacher expects her to practice outside of band period at school. The quintessential "mean old teacher" she is. I like her--she's good and fair and doesn't take any guff off the kids, which is a challenge as anyone who has ever taught 5th to 7th graders before knows. The concert was very nice, and there were no clinkers in there. Good job all around.
Boy always likes going to her concerts because one the little girls in his class has a big brother in band. Jonathan went to go find her after the concert and she ran up to him and jumped up and nearly broke his head off giving him a hug. "Helloooo, Pogo Stick!" She had to be pried off of him. I remember if something like that had happened to me in front of a bunch of people when I was eight, I would have been mortified. He liked it! Way, way too much.
And I thought I was going to have to worry about my girls...
Via Miss Moira over at Inappropriate Response:
You might be surprised at how much fun it is to debate Cartesian theaters with a jesuitical little nine-year-old. The downside is that it's a sharp reminder that mama hasn't kept up with the latest advances in neuroscience or the current spit-ball and towel fights over the Nature of Consciousness. Or rather, mama is one of those people who owns more than one of what must be fascinating and informative tomes on the subject, and has downloaded any number of recent papers on the subject, but has not yet worked her way through to actually reading them. This little conversation may be the goad and spur to give them all higher priority on the "to read" list.Hokey smokes, what do they feed kids in the Oregon Territory?! She's out yonder debating Carter's Liver Pills with her jehosephatical third grader, and I'm trying to get mine to take off her dirty clothes and take a bath before going to bed! Heaven help us all if they somehow join forces. Of course, it could make a pretty good TV show--Power Puff Girls meets The Odd Couple, with a touch of The Twilight Zone.
I just gave blood. It's been a while since I did--I think the last time was when we had a blood drive here at work. Which was the worst. I had been a pretty regular donor up to that point, but the setup and service was so atrocious that I gave up donating for a while. In the past, they usually brought some really nice portable contour chairs and a bunch of cool t-shirts and a really hot looking Philipina RN/vampire wrangler who made sure stuff ran smoothly. The last time I gave at work, though, someone dropped the ball and brought crappy narrow flat tables and a crew of the surliest venapuncturists who ever mangled a vein.
As I have noted in the past, compared to most people I am a 64-ring Presidente to their Virginia Slim, so for me, reclining on the little narrow tables was about like trying to balance on a fence rail. If I could have balanced evenly, that is--the fence rails were pushed all the way against the wall (nice hard, cold marble) and so I was forced up into a sort of semi-sideways squintch with my bleeding arm pinned underneath me. And since no one brought any sort of head cushions and the tables were flatter than...well, tables, my freakishly large head was forced to support itself with my dainty neck muscles. When this got to be too much, it had to rest itself on the metal edge of the table, since the tables were length, as well as width, deficient. Luckily, the misery of trying to keep from rolling onto the terrazzo floor was mitigated by throbbing arm pain, brought on by my delicate attendant (who outweighed me a good 50 pounds) who decided that the best way to insure good blood flow was to jam a tree root into my arm and twist it vigorously. (Not really--I do tend to exaggerate--it was only a length of 1/4 inch black iron pipe and she only twisted it a little.) She wandered off and talked to her friend and left me to try and ponder why I was being punished. After being released from my little ritual, I was a bit put off about the prospect of doing THAT again.
But, today was much different. They called me, and I got to go to their new donation center up on Red Mountain, which has a beautiful view toward downtown, and they have the REALLY nice permanent chairs with arms and pillows, and they had the Food Channel on the TV, and stacks of Fig Newtons, and the they have started using much tinier steel pipes to shove in your arm, and my nurse stood beside the chair and watched TV with me while I percolated. Which is all much less interesting than the horror story, but at least now I will feel better when they call back again.
Three Varieties of Dissenter, Examined
James Lileks' Newhouse column for today. Number 2 on the list:
[...] 2. The Euro-poseurs. Susan Sarandon recently appeared on a panel discussing the war and dissent. "When you have a guy who thinks the best act is to blow himself up, along with others, you have to ask, `What leads to that?"' she said. "And is the response more violence? A cowboy shoot-'em-up?"You say 'rootin' tootin' Colt-totin' lunatics' like it's a bad thing...
A Rose By Any Other Name
Greg Hlatky demystifies pedigree naming (quite a bit different from the Australian Naming Rules Convention). It was interesting, but never having had a papered pooch, the thing that interested me most was the last part--
Regardless of their name, one thing's for sure: you'll get them mixed up. I'm one of six children, so I'm familiar with the phenomenon. It evokes a peculiar nostalgia when my lovely bride calls out to some miscreant, "Silver, Possum, Satin, hey you, dog!" But whatever they're called or whether they're top-winning specials, retired show dogs, or just companions, we love them all the same.My sister and I used to unmercifully tease my mother for mixing us up and calling me Trerry and her Terr-esa. I'm paying for my mistakes now, in that I find myself going through the whole list to get to the one I want--"Ash-Jon-RebCATHERINE, put the knife DOWN!"
Well, it appears the Blogger server has been out late boozing it up and now has a hangover and a bad case of the Jack Daniel's S--ts, because even the big BloggerPro boys don't seem to be able to post anything. I'm sure everything will be back to abnormal before long.
My condolences to Lee Ann Morawski, co-author of the Spinsters blog, on the passing of her beloved uncle.
My Uncle Meo died today. He was my father’s favorite uncle and I’ve adored him since I was a kid. Meo was married for over 50 years and had 6 children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was a childhood friend of Frank Sinatra, whose mother delivered him. I will likely be traveling with my family to Boston for the funeral, so posting this week will be sporadic, if extant. I’d cry if I were the sort of person who cries, which I’m not. Pardon me, but my screen keeps going blurry.If you would like to send Lee Ann a message, her e-mail address is email@example.com
Confidence Death-Spiral? Is this The End? Not bloody likely. From today's Bleat:
[...] I just felt annoyed and irrelevant yesterday - which is telling, because it assumes that on any normal day, I feel relevant. And of course I am not. In fact it feels immodest to have to point that out, as if anyone assumes I am. So what’s the point? Who cares? Cue the confidence death-spiral.Now before everyone gets all upset, it's obvious Mr. Lileks is only demonstrating that he read Steve Den Beste's post about the Mongol hordes:
Subedei developed a stratagem called the feigned retreat which was successful again and again. It took advantage of the fantastic reputation that the Mongols had achieved, and the incredible discipline of the Mongol force.The retrograde movement, the feigned retreat--inscrutable, cunning, and lethal to the unwary foe. Lileks tips his hand about his strategy in the last part of the paragraph (the sign of a masterful and confident general)--
You know, there are a few of the nasal-retentive types who are going to take that line out of context. Go ahead, boys. That’s the subject of tomorrow’s Bleat.Good grief, I can hardly wait!
News from the neighborhood--from William Thornton in today's Birmingham News Just A Chat with John Baran. John and his wife own the Springville Cafe, just up Highway 11 from my home in Trussville. Good folks (even for Yankees), and they can cook up a storm. A sample:
Your wife went to culinary school in Chicago. What is your experience in the restaurant business?Whatever works, I say.
Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Sunbather Mistaken for Kournikova Due to Nipples
[...] Ramaesiri, who is not a professional photographer, testified that he had videotaped some topless sunbathers several years ago. When he was reviewing the tape earlier this year, he saw a woman he thought was Kournikova and contacted Penthouse.
Noting that he had never seen a real woman up close, Ramaesiri was incredulous when pressed on the size issue by the prosecution-"What do you mean they can change size?!"
For a fight itching is he, hmmm?
Neighbor Lileks recovers from the shock of appearing in one of my dreams and waves this little red flag out by the Backfence:
George Lucas writes dialogue duller than a preschooler's scissors. George Lucas cannot direct actors; fine talent comes across so wooden that you expect the characters to die from Dutch Elm disease rather than lightsaber wounds. George Lucas cannot pace a movie; he simply shuffles back and forth between stories, leaning on John Williams' score to supply the drama. To repeat: can't write, can't direct, can't pace. These would seem to be liabilities in a movie director.In this one strong the Force is! Much makes he teddy bears of--wait him until Third Episode released is. Ahhhh yes--guest appearance by Scooby Doo set him off it will.
Lithuania drops requirement of gynecological tests for women drivers
Five month study?
What musician would you most like to see permanently shot into space?
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Matthew Engel is a miserable twit, abridged.
Emily Jones earns her keep and blasts away (figuratively, of course) at America's Favorite Small British Cricket Writer Turned Philospher.
Never Blog and Eat Chili For Supper and Read P.J. O'Rourke and Watch the News Before Bed
Of no interest to anyone except psychoanalysts.
Oh what chili it was. Reba made a five gallon vat of white chili last night. I had some late, having taken Middle Girl to soccer practice then deciding to bathe and get Tiny Girl in bed before I ate. Probably would not have made a difference if I had eaten it an hour earlier. It sure was good, though. Big hunks of chicken, had some taco cheese spread on top, little dollop of sour cream, some tortilla chips, and had both navy and northern beans in it. The beans, I think, are the catalyst for all the rest of the story. That, and of course, chunky soups are not the prettiest foods in the world--almost REGRETTABLE in character.
Anyway, I finished up my bowl, poured up the remaining 4.98 gallons into every single bowl in the cabinet, stuck them in the fridge, and went upstairs to complete the process of haranguing the kids into finishing their baths and getting into bed. It finally got quiet around nine o'clock, so I sprawled across the foot of the bed and got out The CEO of the Sofa, P.J. O'Rourke's homage to O.W. Holmes. Before I became a fawning James Lileks sycophant, there was O'Rourke. I picked up the subversive National Lampoon habit while still in high school, and even though O'Rourke left the magazine in '81, all through college, the only two magazines which I bought on a regular basis were NatLamp and Soldier of Fortune. I'm sure that explains something. I'm not sure what.
In any event, the wonderful old sarcastic, mean-spirited, liberal-baiting O'Rourke was again at his best in his masterful demolition of Saint Hillary's It Takes a Village to Raise a Village Idiot. It made me laugh out loud, hard, and enough to interest Reba in it. I let her read a bit, "He doesn't like Hillary very much, does he?" "No, actually I think it's a defense mechanism to keep him from falling too deeply in love with her." "Yeah." I mentioned that I heard an interview with O'Rourke discussing the book sometime this past weekend on NPR. (What surprised me the most is how smooth and rich his voice seemed now. I don't ever remember it sounding quite like that, and I suppose it is a credit to fine booze and stogies.) In any event, she thought the chapter was funny, too, which is pretty rare for her.
For all of our shared oddities, my sense of humor is turned on more by The Three Stooges and Monty Python, while her fancy is tickled by...I don't know what. But not anything good and pure like the Stooges or Python. Or (usually) by crusty smart asses like O'Rourke. Or (hold your breath now) Mr. Lileks. I remember one night a while ago when Regrettable Foods hit the market, I was looking for it on the Books a Million website. She looked over my shoulder and wondered what I was looking for. "NO! it's not porn. This fellow writes for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and he has this really nice website, and he took these old cookbooks from the '40s and '50s and scanned the pictures of the worst ones, and he writes little comments about the food. Here, look at this." We surfed over to the Institute of Official Cheer and I started showing her all of the horrors of glowing Kodachrome offal. "Look; look at this one! It looks like grubs escaping from a dung heap!" "Yeah, it's Porcupine Meatballs. My mother used to make those all the time; it's just rice and meatballs." "Yeah, but look what he wrote! It's hilarious!" "Mm-hmm." "And here, look at this crap." "Yeah--you know, I think Mama has this cookbook, she used to make that for when people would come over from church." "BUT read what he wrote!" "Uh-huh." Never have I been so taken aback by anyone! Irony bounced off of her like cannonballs off of the Monitor. Snarkiness found no refuge in her, and she was completely immune to well-aimed one-liners. One tough audience, indeed. Makes me wonder how I have managed to last this long.
But, at least she kind of liked P.J.'s take on Hillary. I don't know if it is necessarily O'Rourke, or the fact that someone gave voice to her own antipathy to Mrs. Clinton, but I'll take what I can get! She went on and took her shower, and I kept reading. I couldn't read much without thinking back to the old Lampoon, which brought back memories of college, and my trailer.
It wasn't even a real mobile home--it was a 7x23 Terry travel trailer. It was like living in a submarine--the ceiling was exactly 6 feet high, the shower hose had to be connected to the bathroom sink, the bed was the kitchen table folded down, it was heated with two 40 pound propane tanks. One of the many bizarre occurences of my sojourn in trailerdom was the time I was sitting in the tiny airliner-sized bathroom on the pot, and was about to finish up and take a shower. The plastic hot water tubing was held onto the underside of the faucet set with a small aluminum slip ring. Which took it upon itself to let go just as I was in the process of testing the ol' plumbing, so to speak. At first I heard a spraying noise and then realized water was streaming out from inside the tiny little cabinet under the sink. I opened the little door and found out it was scalding hot water, since it sprayed all over me. Big naked dude, microscopic bathroom, on the pot, with Old Faithful suddenly erupting under my sink. Of course, this being a trailer, there was only one way to shut off the water. Outside at the spigot in the yard. Gosh, the excitement! I unwedged my big arse from between the particle board wall and the sink and grabbed a towel and ran outside, onto a concrete slab covered with pine cones and sweet gum burrs and I think a slug or two and maybe some droppings deposited by my neighbor's hound. Water off. And the start of a search for a REAL hose clamp, after I got my clothes on.
But, it was home. For five years. So what has all this got to do with anything? Good question--I just reread this and can't make heads nor tails out of it. But all of it does help explain what happened when I went to bed.
I turned myself longways on the bed, took off my glasses and did my best Lil' Abner go-to-sleep-before-you-hit-the-bed routine. Sometime during the night, the combined effects of chili with two types of beans, the voice of O'Rourke, trailers, porcupine meatballs, NPR, Lileks, and my mom/mom-in-law/wife, caught up with me.
It was nearly dark, and I was trying to drive down the road to my trailer. I didn't know where it was, so I was relying on some really big ugly woman in the passenger seat to guide me. We took a turn, and I was back at my trailer in Auburn. I went to the office and tried to check my mail, but I couldn't remember the combination to the lock. I went back and noticed that I needed to fix the handle beside the door. I went in, and laid down on the bed/table combination and then heard a really loud noise in the yard. I ran out and saw a Dodge Aries in the yard with "Campus Security" written down the side. The lady inside had some Very Important Information for me. (There was never anything like this at Auburn, but I was also watching the news as I was reading before I went to bed, and there was a story about people in Alabama who serve as elected constables, serving evictions and subpoenas and such, and one of them had a big Dodge van with "Constable" written in tape down the door of his van.) The security lady held out a clipboard with paper on it. I looked at it and it was a long form that had all kinds of check boxes and writing on it, which I couldn't read because it was dark and I was sleepy, but I knew it was bad and it was something to do with my mom. I jumped in the car and laid down on the bed (such things can happen in a dream) and was taken to a motel room somewhere on campus. I was sitting in a chair right by the door, and heard a knock, and tried to stand up and get out of the way. The door eased open and it was my mom, accompanied by a slight fellow with glasses and a goodly bit of forehead. It was James Lileks! I dragged them in and couldn't believe what was going on! "Mom, do you know who this is?" "No." I made them sit down, "He's a writer for a newpaper somewhere and he writes books and he wrote this one on food, you remember--I showed you pictures of Porcupine Meatballs and you said you had made them, or someone had, and he was on the radio talking about his book and he's a writer and all. Remember?" "No." Hmm. "Gosh, Mr. Lileks, it is so good to meet you. You know I have been a fan for a while." He nodded. Then it hit me, "Why is it you're here?" He started talking and it was P.J. O'Rourke's voice from the NPR interview. Basically, he didn't know why he was there, he just showed up. So we made really boring small talk for a while, talked about the weather, sat around. For some reason I got up and shook his hand and someone started knocking at the motel room door, and I realized I was patting the top of Reba's head with my palm and my ring was hitting the headboard.
Only 4.98 gallons of chili to go. Heaven help us all.
I went into Little Boy’s room this morning to wake him up. “Hey Bud, time to wakey-wakey!” He gave his usual squeaky-toy peep and then a giggle. I told him he seemed like he was in a very good mood this morning.
“Yes I AM Daddy!”
“And what, pray tell, is the reason for this chipperosity, Little Toot?” (Yes, I do say stuff like this to the kids, because they think it’s funny)
“Well, Daddy, today is MY BIRTHDAY!!”
And so it is! Little Boy Feller is OOOOOO-ficially eight years old today, and his first present was a set of the first three Star Wars movies.
He was fit to be tied, and of course wanted to watch them this morning before school. “Well, you see, Buddy, we have to get all dressed, and brush teethses, and comb hairseses, and eat breakfast, and paint the house, and polish the knockerblaggers, and smell the filbermush, and put on our shoes, and sign your notebook, and drink our milk (by this time he is rolling his eyes and nodding his head dejectedly) and arrange all of the magazines in the house by weight, and go get on top of the car and go to school. So we really need to hold off on watching anything this morning. Okay?” Disappointed “O-kaaaaay.” “You’re still eight though, aren’t you?” Big grin “You know I am, Dad.” “Okay, just checking!”
At which point Baby Demon Girl grins and says “Can I watch it if Jonason can’t?” So I had to pounce on her and tickle her—“NO! NO! NOT NOW! DO YOU UNDERSTAND!” Heeehehehehehehehehe! “When I ams eight like Jonason can I watch it?” “Maybe. If you eat breakfast.” “Okay.”
Looks like either Blogger or my compute is full of rusty water and bits of sewage this morning, as I am having an inordinately difficult time posting anything. If Ev is correct about this super secret deal in the works which will dramatically improve service, I hope they can fix it so that I can post anytime I want. You see, I have some really important stuff to comment on, such as this:
"Wal-Mart Profits Up Nearly 19.7 Percent"
So glad the Oglesbys could be of assistance!
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