Archive for September, 2010

Update:  The Dog Groaned at Dusk – A German Shepherd’s Tale is a winner!

I was sitting there bemoaning the three-way tie (probably Mitchell’s fault) when a refresh showed that we had a clear winner.  I think the Taternator then Spelunking while drunk in that order come after but we’ll leave that to another poll.


I was a firefighter for a few summers to pay for college.  It was fun.

The Incident occurred many moons ago.  The tale is told in the oral tradition and is at times used by mothers to frighten their children about the dangers of growing up a redneck.  Or working for one.

My boss who we will call “Squatting Bear” decided that I needed a good solid native indian nickname.  One of the tribes that lived in the area I grew up in was the Calapooia tribe.  Keep the jokes buried deep inside there, palefaced readers… bury them deep, next to your inner child.  If you’re like me you strangled your inner child and buried the corpse years ago.  Put the Calapooia jokes there, why don’t you?  Don’t try to deny it, I know you well, Faithful Reader.

So Squatting Bear decided I needed a new name.  He thought long.  He thought hard.  This long and hard kind of thinking came naturally to Squatting Bear because he is one of those rednecks who is a natural-born redneck.  Nothing about his redeckedness was affected, it was all gin-u-wine, as he would say.

He would tell jokes like this daily:  One prostitute is talking to another one.  First one says “You ever been picked up by the fuzz?”  Second one says “Yes, and it sure does HURT.”

If you have placed a claim with your insurance company about damage to the hood of your truck because of a turkey, you might be a redneck.  You might especially be a redneck if your wife was throwing a frozen turkey down to you from the balcony and missed.

I am not making this up.

He thought long and he thought hard some more and slowly looked over to where I had spit a pile of sunflower seeds in a cairn shape that was about 5 inches high and 8 inches in diameter.  He grunted and then his face lit up and he said “I KNOW WHAT WE WILL CALL YOU!”

“What, boss?”

“SPITTING BEAVER!” he yelled and started hooting and hollering.

Spitting Beaver is almost certainly not a Calapooia name and I’m going to take a stab at it that there’s no literal translation, either.

I was underwhelmed but I’ve been called worse, so I let it slide.  As it turned out, later on that summer I took a spill that damaged my previously compound-fractured forearm (busted a plate – it was a really good spill) and the crew was cool enough to buy me my very own spitting beaver.  Note the leather noose that they supplied with the beaver.  “To hang from your rearview mirror,” they said.  And I did for over a year.

The particular summer I am referring to was a wet one by Oregon standards.  Very wet.  We’re talking “A Steelhead just spawned in my bed” kind of wet.  That might sound like a fun thing to do but it’s really quite gross.

Cold foggy days were spent driving around in the mountains.  Much like a mirage in the desert appearing to be water, water in the foggy forest pretended to be smoke.  We chased phantom plumes over and over only to realize that we weren’t going to have the excitement of a fire, just more ferns and sopping wet slash-piles.

Strange things happen in those mountains when the wind stops and the forest goes silent.  The only sound is the occasional drip of water onto a fiddlehead fern from the Douglas fir tree high above you.   And if you listen carefully you hear… nothing.  Right up until the boss screams in a faux high-pitch squeal “Quick!  Pull my finger!  ***riiiip***  Oh, too late!”

Some days obviously were better than others.

On the day of The Incident it had been even wetter and more miserable than any day we’d seen in over three weeks.  We patrolled for a few hours and then decided that the odds of any fire in the next few weeks were pretty slim even if we had a heat wave, so we headed back to base, which was Squatting Bear‘s home, coincidentally.

Side note… this was the summer I grew to love Rush Limbaugh because AM radio is about all you get up in the mountains.

At Squatting Bear’s home headquarters we sat and drank another pot of coffee in silence and I continued to spit sunflower seeds in my usual cairn-shaped spot on the floor next to the boss’ fridge – I was considerate, and spit them off to the side so his family could open the door without trouble.

His very nice and polite wife gently whispered something in his ear and goosed him in the ribs.  “Leave me alone, foul woman!” he screeched as he leapt off his stool.

“Come with me,” he grumbled and stalked out the back door.

Golden Retriever, the other firefighter assigned to Squatting Bear walked out with a funny look on her face that surely must have mirrored my own.  When we got outside near the back fence he handed me a pulaski and gave her a shovel.

“You’re digging a ditch so we can line it with rocks and make a little streambed for the wife.”

I mentioned how it was odd that the state would fund such a project and was told “If we’re going to sit on our asses anyway and it’s too wet to do any non-fire work then you’re not going to sit and drink all my coffee, you’re going to do this because *I* have to do this.”


He growled menacingly, like a badger with shingles, “Not another word, you…”

Good enough for me.

For a good half hour I dug with the hoe end of the pulaski, breaking up dirt for Goldie to move.  We were going between trees and I kept hitting root after root after root.  Big enough that you couldn’t tug through them and so you had to chop-chop-dig constantly.  I hit rocks with every other swing and was really starting to get annoyed.

Then… The Incident.  It shouldn’t have happened, but it did.

I was dragging out some dirt from the trench when I ran into this extremely large and rock-solid root.   I knew I didn’t want to do baby chops because it was muddy and soggy roots twist the axe and aren’t safe in general – you lose toes or ankles if you aren’t paying attention.  So I stepped back a half step, widened my stance and sighted in on that thrice-damned root, and put my best Paul Bunyan swing into it.

Suddenly the world went white.  I was hit by a tsunami.  Water was spraying me and spraying up in the air many feet, then falling back down to earth.  Goldie squealed and jumped clear back to the property line in one hop.  Squatting Bear stood there with his jaw on his chest – frozen in place.  Surprisingly he was silent, and I always thought it would take a ball-peen hammer to the forehead to do that.

I looked at our trench that aspired to be a stream and saw that in reality a river ran through it.  Spitting Beaver River, to be exact.

Yes, I had just hacked through Squatting Bear’s main water line to his house from his well up on the hill.

Shortly it stopped and we took stock of what had transpired.  Squatting Bear’s wife came out and he asked her if she had just turned off the well.  She looked puzzled and said “No.  What?  What are you talking about?”

He jumped up and down and jabbered at her, pointed at me, glared at me, jabbered again with more vicious-stab pointing motions in my direction.

On closer examination we saw that not only had I severed the water line but I had also chopped through half of the power cable feeding the well pump.  That explained why it stopped.  We couldn’t explain why I didn’t get popped – not even a tiny bit.

His wife sighed, looked at me, and said “Ok, I’ll call your dad.”

My dad was an electrician.  Dad said he’d come by and fix the line for Squatting Bear.  By this point it was 5pm and it was our normal quitting time but I had this hunch that leaving was not an option available to me.  Not if I was wise.  I wasn’t actually wise but even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally.

I said “Who the hell buries their line only 12 inches down?”  I quickly regretted speaking and for lack of anything better to do I stuck my cold wet shivering hands into my cold wet pockets and quietly shivered.

So there’s my dad, standing in half a foot of mush and water on a cold day, there was me trying to trench the river out enough to drain off some of the water, and Squatting Bear was being an absolute lunatic.  Dad has the patience of a saint and bore it all in good stoic old-school German style.

It took more time than dad actually billed for but this was my boss so he cut a bit of slack there and then we drove home.

Dad didn’t say anything but went into his office and started typing.  A little while later he came out and said “Give this to your boss.”

It was a bill for “Electrical repair on Spitting Beaver River excavation project“.  What follows is a photo of the original document, which I still have.  Click on it.  It gets bigger.  Note the last six lines.  Dad pointed to those and said “Make sure he sees those.”

I handed it to my boss the next morning.  He turned red and clenched his jaw.  Then after a moment of silence burst out laughing, saying that he knew he liked my family.

The next summer was better.  It had good fires and no rivers in sight most of the time.

With one exception, he was the best damn boss I ever worked with.  The other is my unofficial current boss.


Vote for the next story to be told.

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Now what?

Update: #10 wins. #6 is dear to my heart but #10 is one I haven’t told in a while.

Stay tuned for later tonight.

As close as I’ll ever get to a “tweet”…

Had a blood test for cholesterol today.
Darned vampires.  They suck four quarts of blood out of your arm and then have the audacity to tell you to not take the band-aid off for seven hours or you could bleed out right there on the floor.  I think they’re just worried about where their next meal is coming from.

No, I’m not going to quote Marcellus from Pulp Fiction, although it would be great and all.

No, “Now What?” refers to what stories shall I tell next?  Vote and if you are the selected winner of the “What Next?” lottery you will get… mentioned.

The choices are:

  1. Spelunking While Drunk
  2. Death Ride with a Strange Drunk Woman
  3. Driving to Michigan with a Drugged Cat in the Truck
  4. The Taternator: Stories of a Loosed Potato Cannon
  5. Til  the Blood Runs Clear – A Short Water Polo Story
  6. The Dog Groaned at Dusk – A German Shepherd’s Tale
  7. Cutting the Mustard
  8. A Compilation of Puppy-Dog Tails -or- Finding Nemo
  9. Fractured Ego, or “How I Didn’t Spend My Summer” (industrial accident)
  10. The Spitting Beaver River Incident

There’s more.  Many many more.  I’ve lived a strange life.  All of it true.


I got a mission-style rocking chair today.  Originally marked at $75 and marked down by 75% I walked away with it for $18.75.   A movie production house near my work had a sale and were dumping items to get them out of their building.  I paid my money and then picked it up with my truck.

Later today several co-workers asked if it was a redneck thing going on with the chair.

I said “Huh?”

Well, ok, I guess I could see what they meant.

I told them it was cheaper than a child car-seat.


The Dude sent me this today.  I didn’t know what the hell to do with it.  Finally I wrote back and said “Should I blog this?”

He said he got it from the moronosphere so what the hell, I’m blogging it.  No idea what the source is, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to do a Google Image search on “University of Michigan” and “semen“.

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Deputy Sheriff said to me
Tell me what you come here for, boy.
You better get your bags and flee.
You’re in trouble boy,
And now you’re heading into more.

– Simon and Garfunkel – Keep the Customer Satisfied

Except I wasn’t told to flee.  All of the rest?  Oh yes.

It all started a long long time ago in a Tennessee county far far away…

I had just spent a month on a business trip to a town in the south where we were taking data.  We packed up the last of our equipment and instruments and closed the door on the truck.  I slammed the enormous lock home and spun the dial the requisite three complete turns.

Our wheezing and sweaty boss said “You can stay at a hotel overnight and take off in the morning if you like.”

To myself and technician “Annoying Man™” the very thought of spending one more depressing evening in  a hotel had the same appeal as having your fingernails pulled out one by one.  We quickly assured the boss that we felt “100% better, energized, and ready to hit the road.  Sir.”

So we drove out of there as if the gates of Hell itself had been breached and the the demon hordes were pouring out in pursuit of our very souls.

Thus started what should have been an twelve hour trip back to Michigan.  Annoying Man™ took the first shift.

We got through Nashville, Tennessee, and were making good time.  Just before the border to Kentucky, Annoying Man™ saw a weigh station and then he had a thought that should never have been thought:  “Hey, I’m going to pull in and see how much we weigh on the scales.”

I immediately said “Nah, Annoying Man™, let’s just go on.  I want to go home and see my wife.”

“Nah,” said Annoying Man™, dismissing my , “It’ll only take a second.”

More ridiculous words have not been uttered since Custer’s pronouncement “Indians?  I don’t see any indians.”

“Oh, all right Annoying Man™, go ahead,” I sighed resignedly.

And pull in and stop on the scales we did.  The truck stopped on the scales and the scales settled in with a sigh.

Our weight flashed in at 11,300lbs.

“Ok, you can go…” said The Voice.  The Voice was behind some very dark glass which was rendered even more impenetrable by the waning sun – dusk was settling in with that ponderous and implacable chill that is so common in mid-October.

Annoying Man™ accelerated gently and we had moved about eight feet when The Voice said quickly “Wait.  Pull around back.”

I knew that tone of voice.  There is a particular timbre to a voice that will brook no argument.  It is the sound of a voice that does not feel pity, fear, or remorse.  That was the sound of my doom approaching.  The spectre in the shadows.  The whisper of dark wings in the night.

So we pulled around back.

I said to Annoying Man™:  “You ******* idiot!  You complete ******* moron, what the **** did you think you were ******* doing?  I told you NOT to ******* pull in, and WHAT did you do?  YOU HAD TO GO AND ******* PULL INTO THE ************* WEIGH STATION TO GET OUR ******* ******* WEIGHT ON A VEHICLE THAT DIDN’T  ******* HAVE TO ******** BE WEIGHED, YOU COMPLETE AND UTTER ******** MORON!”

Yes, I did say that, and worse, much worse.  It was not my finest hour and it CERTAINLY wasn’t the pinnacle of Annoying Man’s™ intellectual career, either.  I was exhausted, hungry, homesick, and irritable.  Imagine that please… I was irritable.

Out walked Buford T. Justice.  I swear to you it was HIM, only a bit taller.

We slid out of the small rental truck and got down.  I had lived this nightmare before and was dreading what was coming.

“Hello, boys” growled Sheriff Buford T. Justice.

“Hi Sheriff!” said  Annoying Man™.   I said nothing, feeling that once again discretion was the better part of valor and that if I opened my mouth I was likely to be in a world of trouble.

“What you boys carryin’?” asked Sheriff Buford T. Justice in his delightfully southern drawl.

“Data collection instruments for [redacted], Sheriff.”

The Sheriff sighed as if this were the last thing he needed to hear at the end of his strenuous day when he was responsible for so very much.   “Boys, I’m going to need to look through your VEE-hicle.”

I should note here that Annoying Man™ was in his early sixties and I was approximately 28 at the time.  The good Sheriff could not have been more than 45.  But, being the (relative) south, I guess lots of people are “boys” and “hon” and “son” and so on and so forth.  Anyway, for the duration we were “Boys.”

Sheriff Buford T. Justice asked if I would kindly open the driver’s side door and I complied.  He stopped just before looking inside the VEE-hicle and said “Boys, I need to know if you are carryin’ and kind of contraband – moonshine, cigarettes, marijuana, drugs – anything like that.”

“No Sir, Sheriff,” we said, “Nothing like that – just equipment.”

The good Sheriff sighed his world-weary sigh again, as if he couldn’t believe two stupider fools had been placed on this earth by God himself.

“Boys… ” he continued, “If I have to get dogs down here and they smell anything on this truck it and everything in it will become the property of the State of Tennessee, and you two will be spending time in our jail until we can get this straightened out.”

Seriously.  I swear this is what Sheriff Buford T. Justice said.   Somewhere, I heard a banjo strike up some chords in imitation of ‘Deliverance’.  Perhaps it was my fertile imagination, which was in overdrive.  I had heard things about the jails in these parts.  Things that involved images of a big mentally-challenged sweaty 360lb guy named Bubba who cries himself to sleep every night and needs a “teddy bear” who happens to be whoever his current cellmate is.

We denied any wrongdoing again and again we were given the Sheriff’s world-weary sigh which now sounded even wearier.

He rooted around on the floor of the driver’s side and came up with something between his thumb and forefinger and said with a sigh “Boysssss… this here is a marijuana seed.”

Now.  I could see very well that it was NOT a marijuana seed but in this sort of situation to tell the good Sheriff that it was NOT in fact a seed from the Cannabis sativa plant would be to invite a certain and swift demise.  Since I was not a total fool, I elected to remain silent.

“I need you to open the back of the truck,” drawled Sheriff Buford T. Justice.

I led him around to the back and pointed out the [redacted]-issue combination lock on the truck, very clearly stressing that this was government equipment.   He did not respond or reply other than to say “Open it up.”

I dialed the lock open and lifted the door.  We were greeted to stacks and stacks of large grey crates commonly used in our line of work.  All of them were labeled with big scientific words commonly associated with high-end research instruments – NOT labeled with things like “moonshine”, “contraband”, “cigarettes”, “marijuana”, etc.

He pointed at Annoying Man’s™ suitcase and said “Whose suitcase is this?”  Annoying Man™ claimed his property.

The Sheriff then pointed to my suitcase and said “Open ‘er up.”  I walked over and laid my suitcase out for his inspection.

Now, to this day I am not sure if he was just begging for me to cold-cock him from behind or if the good Sheriff Buford T. Justice actually was a mental cull, but he had his back to me as he rifled through my stuff.  I noted that within myself there was a certain darkness that was a terrible storm growing out of control and it was telling me “Just hit the ******, and lay him out flat.”

I realized that I was at a dangerous crossroads and walked about ten steps away and took many deep breaths.  From behind me I heard the Sheriff say “What’s this?”

I turned around to see that he had opened up my bottle of Tylenol PM™ and was holding some in his hand.  I said in a rather caustic voice (my fluffy-puppy voice seemed to have fled for the day) “Just what it says on the bottle.  SIR.”

Then, and I SHIT YOU NOT… he tried to unscrew the bottom off of my shaving cream.  For cryin’ out loud.  Did I really look so stupid as to use such an old hiding place?  I must have looked that stupid, and I don’t suppose it was too much of a stretch considering that Annoying Man™ had driven an over-GVW VEE-hicle onto Sheriff Buford T. Justice’s personal scales.

The Sheriff’s beady little rat eyes (he had finally taken off his Dirty Harry glasses now that it was completely dark) bored into my soul, or at least he thought they did.  He didn’t actually get to bore that deep because if he had he would have seen that I was kind of red-lining it right about then and that black malevolence dwelt there.

At some point he broke eye contact and he said “Well, I guess you boys are clean, but we ain’t done yet.  Come on inside, we have things to go over.”

We went inside where Sheriff Buford T. Justice proceeded to write Annoying Man™ roughly $550 worth of tickets because we didn’t have CDL’s, we didn’t have medical checkup papers, and because we didn’t have logbooks.  And oh yes, we could not forget the fact that we were over GVW by about 800lbs.

“Now, boys, I want you to do the following,” he said, looking at me, “I want you to drive because Annoying Man™ here is done for the day.   I want you to drive about ten miles down the road and stop off for the night.  I’ll be checking on you.  I want you to go into the gas station there and buy some logbooks and then stay in the hotel for the night.”

“Yes, SIR.” I said.  And we walked out of there, with me never once looking back.  Apparently Annoying Man™ didn’t either because he did not turn into a pillar of salt.

I started the truck and Annoying Man™ said “Lemur… I admit I might have made a mistake there… I feel really bad about…”

I then had many many things to say to Annoying Man™ – awful things that cannot bear repeating – as I drove down the road, leaving Sheriff Buford T. Justice at our backs, but certainly not out of our minds.

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Logo Conundrum

Try as I might, I cannot find the new democratic party logo of a blue circle with a blue “D” in it.

If someone has a link to it, where I might verify it and whether or not it is a trademarkable symbol, please give me a head’s-up.

In the meantime while looking for it I found this pic, which I thought was kind of funny.



Any circle around that “D” is part of the biohazard symbol in the first place.  Kudos to Steamboat McGoo for his brilliant idea and Mitchell for his suggestions.

It’s going to take a short while (up to 24 hours but it didn’t take that long last time) but you can look for it here if you are interested.


I was just reminded of this by Mitchell’s posting about washer and dryers

Important consumer tip If you are going to use your clothes dryer to fluff up a shirt that has wrinkles before you go to work, make sure that you take the fish oil capsule that you were going to take out of your shirt pocket before doing so.  Your laundry will all smell like dried rotten fish for weeks if you don’t do that.

Just sayin’.

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Democrat Containment

Update:  Zazzle is sometimes a bit… slow in updating.  They say be patient for 24 hours.  Ok.

How about now?  No?


How about now?

What about…

And I added the RoachWear™ stuff – aprons, postcards, tote bags, and the like.  Coffee cups, too.  Again, give it time.  Zazzle seems to be really slow about some of this stuff.


Ok, I’ve put up the democrat containment logo on some Zazzle goods.  Git ’em while they’re hot.


The mug and (hopefully) shirt will have this logo on it.

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But at Least it was a Dry Heat.

Been a while since I posted.

I was on travel.  Here’s how that worked out…

A scientist and good friend who I work with was telling me a week or so ago about a conference in Orlando.  She mentioned some of the topic material and I said it sounded fascinating.  She said “You want to go?”    What should I call that scientist friend…?  Hmmm.  She does need a moniker.  How about “Irritable French Woman”?  Yes, IFW it is.  That will do.   Anyway, IFW cornered me with my own insatiable curiosity as she always does.


I had uttered words that boxed me in.  If you haven’t figured out from earlier posts I’d choose many many things before choosing to fly.  I have said in the past:  “I’d rather douse myself in turpentine, strip buck naked, and crawl through broken glass than fly.”

True.  Absolutely true.  Put another way, I’d rather skin my own scrotum and take a sitz bath in salt water and rubbing alcohol than fly.

It’s a trust/control issue.

Anyway, there I was, trapped by my own traitorous mouth – the very same one that got me in so much trouble as a kid, because it doesn’t have a brain and speaks of it’s own volition.

So I sucked it up, took a deep breath, and said “Okay!”

Flash forward to Friday before last.  I had just grabbed a data set for this same conference.  It was 5pm and edging closer to 6pm when I started in on a second data set and felt the familiar telltale signs of a cold.  Sweaty.  Clammy.  Sore throat.

Crap!  And I have to travel on Monday!!!

Offsetting that horrible realization was the awesome gift given to me by Mitchell – the Saddleback leather briefcase/bag thing.  I was excited and filled with stomach-churning trepidation at the same time.  It was like getting married all over again.

By that night I had that full-blown feeling you get when you’re in the ascension phase of a cold – like post-steamroller squirrel roadkill.  Saturday and Sunday were spent with that all-to-familiar headache that feels like trolls are using blunt tools to burrow out of your skull via the sinus cavities.  I had hacked up two pieces of lung in the interim.

By Monday I was feeling a little better.  We’d had our sump pump die on Sunday night so I waited for the plumber to fix it (I was in no condition to do it and I didn’t have the time either).  Then I went in to work to get some papers that I’d printed out and to make some last-minute preparations.

A secretary, I think I have named before but cannot recall the particular name, met me in the hall.  I’ll give her a new name for now.  Let’s see… Office Assassin.   Anyhow, Office Assassin says “So, how you doing?”

“I’m dying.  Thanks for asking”

Office Assassin says “Well, the airplane ride should make you feel all better.”  This was said with a straight face and in a tone that crawled with malice.  I expressed my insincere thanks and told her that I knew she meant it from the bottom of her coal-black heart.

“I didn’t reserve a seat for you in the rear lavatory this time.  See?  My heart grew by three sizes!”

“Great, so now you have a bigger lump of coal to keep you warm this winter.”

Anyways.  I made it to my flight on-time.  I was dizzy and gasping for breath because my traitorous lungs were engaged in staging their revolt against the body entire.   My plane ride to Orlando was mostly uneventful except for the pilot who had obviously spent a lot of time flying F-15A’s.  Rather than a graceful approach the awful wretch kept doing snap-rolls and ruddering us in skewed – in a windless clear blue sky.  His empathy fuel-tanks were clearly on empty that day.

On the ground I dialed up IFW on my cell-phone.  She arrived twenty minutes after I did, looking irritable.  She did not look particularly french.  She started walking pretty fast towards the rental car place with me trailing, wheezing, and gasping.  I said “Geez, it’s 94 degrees right now!  At least it’s a dry heat, right?”   A shrimp crawled across the sidewalk in front of me and some fish I didn’t recognize swam past my head giving lie to my remark.

We got the keys to the rental car (which was not a Mustang convertible in spite of my repeated requests for one) and when we traipsed the 1/4 mile to the slot where it should have been there was no car.  We hiked back to the office, now with IFW looking quite irritable and now somehow looking very french.  At the office they gave us the directions to a different car.  That car was further away and it was also locked.  We went to the rental office again and this time  IFW was looking irritable and french and this time she was also cursing in french.

Secretly I must say that when that happens, it’s actually funny for me to watch.

Our third car was a Matrix, which is a car which has many innovative features, none of them in the least bit comfortable.  It was like riding in a shoebox stuffed with rocks.

Florida is a pretty place.  If it wasn’t in a swamp I expect it’d be prettier.  Twenty minutes later we were in our hotel and we both decided to go to our own rooms to unpack and get ready for a later dinner.

Dinner was at Landry’s.  Our waitress sold food as if she were a car salesman operating only on commission.  We repelled all but her most intense attacks and finally got her to simply bring an appetizer of mussels braised in white wine, herbs, and butter.  They were so awesome that I almost forgot to continue feeling like I was dying.  I ordered a 1/2-1/2 meal of crawfish etoufee and fried crawfish.  I wheeze-waddled out of there with two buttons to my pants irretrievably lost when they popped off after gorging on seafood.  When I called Cruel Wife I told her it was very good seafood but on every other level (even spiritually) it was a horrid awful affair and I was glad she didn’t have to endure it.  I didn’t want CW to feel bad about not having tender, succulent, and fresh seafood (or swampfood in my case).

Tuesday was the first day of the conference and I was actually feeling halfway human again.  The day ended quite well, as I had unfettered time to sit and ponder upon two designs that had been vexing me and came up with a new concept that I want to write a proposal on.  Don’t ask what it was, please, because I can’t tell you.

That night we went and  had seafood again, this time at a place called “The Crab House”.  I mentioned to IFW that one could interpret that two different ways and I sure hoped it was the version that served food and not the other possibility.

I had one of the best bowls of clam chowder I have ever had in my life, and over 50% of it was actual clams – tender, juicy, clammy little morsels that outnumbered the potatoes almost 2 to 1.  The sea bass was truly… unremarkable.  It was anticlimactic.  I’ve had better tuna sandwiches.

Afterward we went back to the hotel and I said I needed to call it a night and went to my room.  Time passes differently in a hotel on travel and it is very similar to hospital-time.  It sort of both stops and moves at the same time, only instead of moving just forwards it also moves sideways.  The net result is that it does pass at normal speed but it seems like it is moving not at all.   I called Cruel Wife again and this time I was able to convince her that dinner was “meh” and she believed me.  I made no mention of the clam chowder.

Wednesday rolled around.  The conference was just ok, not nearly as good as the previous day, but I still got more done than at work, even without my customary 2 hour nap in the middle (in the office I have mastered the ability of sleeping with my eyes open).  I did have a relapse of sorts and was experiencing very real lung pain, which Cruel Wife had predicted from her experiencing of the same cold a few days earlier than me.

IFW drove me to the airport.  I thanked her, I said my goodbyes and got out, and she drove away.  She needed to spend one more day there to present our stuff to people who were attending the last day and I think that made her a bit irritable.

The airport was packed.  I wheezed my way through the ticket/check-in counter and headed to the security line to be screened.  Remember, I was sick, tired, and sweaty…

I put my briefcase through along with a tub containing my ridiculously un-necessary flannel shirt/jacket, shoes, coins, and papers.

I was motioned through the metal detector and set it off.   Still had my cell-phone.


I went through the detector again and set it off again.

Crap.  Crap.

I went back through and took off my belt.

I went through the detector again and this time it made a new and interesting yet ominous noise.

“Is it my wallet?  I forgot to remove my wallet.”  Along with forgetting to remove my head from my ass, too, the way this was progressing…

The TSA guy pulled me aside and said “Stand with your arms out, your feet apart a bit, and don’t move.”

Crap crap crap.  Damn.

There I was, getting felt up by a TSA guy with no sense of humor, blue gloves, and a strange bulge in his pocket.  Don’t know what the bulge was and I didn’t ask.  Then he told me “We used to pull one person in ten aside but they called it ‘profiling’ so now we do it totally randomly.  You got lucky.”

Oh sure, I feel lucky.  Standing here sweaty and nervous.  I’m confused and sick.  You are groping me and yet I feel totally great because you aren’t profiling, you’re checking me as if I looked and behaved like a high-risk individual, neither of which describes me.  Yeah, I feel great.  Lucky, even.

He waved me on through and I got to fly home.  The flight was a bit long since this pilot behaved a bit oddly, flying slow and below radar level.  This seemed unusual for a 757 but he did get us there in one piece.  I got my luggage and headed for the ground transportation so I could pick up my truck.

On the bus there were probably six or seven other people.  We got to the lot and he asked us where we were parked.  I told him I was in D-53 (or whatever).  He drove past my truck about a hundred yards.  I told him “It was back there!”  The driver shrugged and said blandly “Well, I’m going to have to drop these folks off and then I’ll get to your vehicle last.”

Gee, thank you for that.  I had nowhere to go, anyway, dude.

The next guy said “I’m in 4-C”.

“What kind of car?”

“Uh, I think it’s a Lexus.”

“What color?”

“Uh… I think it’s blue.  It might be black.”

(In unison four or five of us said) “You think it is blue?  You think it is a Lexus?”

I said “Uh, yeah, it might not be a Lexus.  It might be a Ford, somewhere between 1945 and 1967.  Could be a red truck, too.”

Well, the guy kept bipping his key thingy and eventually the car lit up when we got near it.

Note:  I cannot be the only person to wonder if it was actually his car, can I?  I mean, you can’t actually be that stupid and continue to breathe, can you?

As he got off I said under my breath “… and next time, don’t drive to the airport drunk off your ass…”  Apparently it was loud enough for everyone to hear because they all started laughing.   Tough crowd.  I know my excuse – I’m an asshole – but as a whole, it was a tough crowd.

Thirty minutes later I was in my truck and flying home at Michigan speeds – subsonic, definitely, but also totally ignoring the lines on the road because in Michigan they are only suggestions.

Be it ever so humble, no place is like home.

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Additional note:  I agree with some commenters – this makes the dems look so godawful bad it is painful.  I’m surprised that anyone let it happen in the first place.  I really don’t like the idea of my government using it’s time for a comedy forum.  It shows a total lack of seriousness towards the very real problems that they’re not solving.


So only Conyers had the guts to say that perhaps Colbert might not belong in a serious session?  Not a huge fan of Conyers but I gotta give him credit for this.

And Colbert was there at the request of the democrats (note:  California)?

This is the best they can do?

No wonder they’re doing so crappy in the polls, huh?

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Thanks to observant reader Mitchell, he passed on a link that illustrates what really pisses me off – I, the average self-absorbed reader.  Thanks also to THR for publishing the interview in the first place.

Just in case THR somehow gets bullied into pulling the interview, there is one part, one tiny part that will PISS you off.  Remember, the guy has just expanded Netflix to Canada from the USA.

THR: Are you concerned that American Netflix subscribers will look north and ask for the same discount Canadians get at $7.99?

Hastings: How much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world? It’s something we’ll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed.

So, two things to note:

  1. I have already cancelled Netflix
  2. Netflix can wither, die, kiss my ass

I may be a self-absorbed American but I’ll be damned if I’m going to give my money to some pus-wad that treats me, the customer, with contempt.

I’m kind of tired of having the US bashed and I’m tired of the people within that think it’s ok to do it, too.  In fact, I’d be willing to be that there’s an awful lot of people who won’t take kindly to this because they’re fed up with the liberal “My country is a bunch of awful self-centered people except for me and my friends and we need to pass laws to force them to do like me and my friends do” kind of attitude.

I wonder if this Reed Hastings isn’t going to look back and say “In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have said that.”

Sure hope so.

Netflix was kind of cool, convenient, easier than renting a video.  But you know what?  It wasn’t in the least bit vital to my life and I can drop it in a heartbeat.

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Sick with a cold and on travel.  Yah-hoo.

Won’t have ‘net access where I’m going (you’d think it was the dark side of the moon, wouldn’t you?) so it’ll be a couple of days ’til you hear from me unless I find an internet cafe.

Ah well, keep the blogs warm for me until I get back.

At least I’m going to have a bitchin’ travel bag from Saddleback.  It’s loaded up with my geek gear and rarin’ to go.



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Christmas Came Early.

OK, this just never has happened before.  Random acts of kindness happen but rarely does someone who knows me look beyond the me channeling House and see what is really behind the facade:  House.

But amazingly in spite of my glaring character flaws Mitchell gave me a Christmas treat that left me speechless.  Literally.

See, it arrived at my workplace. I thought it was optical equipment.  I didn’t look at the box but grabbed a box-cutter and sliced the box open.  I peeled back the wrapping and saw what was inside and said “Huh? This is NOT optics… wah-heyyyy this is nice.”

And then I looked at the sender, back in the box, then the sender, and back to the box.

Sturdy?  You could beat a moose or a harp seal to death with it.

Now I need a leather trenchcoat, leather boots, leather shirt, leather pants… and… no, trenchcoat will do.  Leather boots would be icing on the cake.

Perhaps I’ll do some special blog-art for the near-term until I can figure out why the electrochem-etch power supply I’m using won’t work.  Then I can etch copper and brass as a return gift.


I was looking through old files on my computer.

Years ago, Xatrix/Interplay put out a game called Redeck Rampage, then Redneck Rampage Rides Again, then Suckin’ Grits on 66.

If you ever played it and purchased the Cuss-Pack you knew what the height of entertainment really was.

If someone says “take it down” I’ll un-post this, but for now, here’s one of the “newspapers” that they put inside the shrink-wrapped box.

Redneck Rampage Manual

NEEDED: Wrestling/tractor-pull tickets, any kind, any
bout, as soon as possible — promised the missus to take
her ‘somewhere special’ for anniversary. 555-1973.


Hey Annie,

My neighbor down the road keeps borrowing stuff and not giving it back. Now he’s got my secondbest shotgun and he says he’s going to return it next week but that’s what he said about the canopener and I never saw that again. When I told
him this, he got rude and forced me off of his property. I’m so mad I’m thinkin about “accidentally” driving over his mailbox — maybe his porch, too. Should I?

J. Wilson

Dear J. Wilson

Sure, why not? Just hope that he can’t read this column.


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Of Nazis, Kittens, and Surfing

In a shameful display of blog-whoring, there is a new blog titled “Nazi Surf Kittens Must Die”  (just think NSKMD, sort of like XKCD only different)

It is a no-pictures blog dedicated to quotes, wordsmithing, and insane utterances found in comments to blog posts wherever they may be found.

Think of it as a verbal mementos box.

It’s also meant to be short utterances (when possible) and rated “PG”.

Note:  Link added after original posting after oh-so-Mr.-Sarcastic Mitchell corrected the error of my ways.

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Inspired by The Curtal Friar‘s comment to the Death/PaleHorse post

When I was twelve or so my family went to Winchester Bay, Oregon – typical small coastal town.  The neighbor kid who we will call “Pees on Electric Fences” or Pefs for short came along with us.  He was a few years younger than me but was an OK kid other than being a bit susceptible to suggestions.

Pefs developed a severe phobia regarding caterpillars after we told him they were poisonous and he did indeed pee on an electric fence at my prompting.  I felt bad after that but got over it in a few seconds.  There was a steady stream of urine, it grazed the wire, and stopped instantaneously and was followed by a huge all-body jerk, a wail/cry/keening, and it ended badly with him running to tell on me.   Kids are cruel… for instance, it was terribly cruel of him to tell on me like that.

Anyhow, I am not much of a fan of crab so I asked if we could bag out of the trip the folks had planned to go out crabbing.  They said it was OK to hang out as long as we stayed in the RV area or the store down the road.  We were right next to the dock in that particular spot.

Note:  I’ve been looking at the Google satellite maps and I’ll be darned if I can remember it well enough to point to where the hell we were at, exactly, but it was real enough.  It was 30 some years ago, so I’m not surprised I don’t remember it all that clearly.

So Pefs and I decided we were going to go down to the little store.

We were walking along the road and thought “Hey, if we cut around behind the restaurant we can save a bit off of a longer hike.”  It was a fair distance as I recall.

Pretty straightforward thinking, that.

But the best laid plans of mice and men oft go agley, so sayeth Burns.  Hell if he wasn’t right.

We walked around back and there was this guy with his back to us in a grey uniform.  Lets call him “Man in Grey” or MIG for short.

I said something to Pefs only to have the MIG (an overly inbred second cousin to Officer Thanatos here in Michigan) whirl around and point a shotgun at me.  I come from a hunting family and was able to recognize from the business end that I was face to face with a shaking representative of the Mossberg family of shotguns, that it was a Mossberg 500 in fact, and that it was a 12-gauge with no choke.  My guess it was the Special Purpose variant but by the time all of this consciously registered I was paying far more attention to the twitchy Man in Grey.  Maximum focus.


Me:  “What?  What is going on?”


Me:  “Okay, okay, take it easy.”

As I was turning around I heard a hollow thump sound.  I looked over at Pefs and he was already spread-eagled, leaning into the wall, and shaking like a leaf.  I’d love to say for dramatic effect that there was a yellow puddle underneath him but sadly there wasn’t.  He was about *yay* close to it though.

So the MIG frisks us, getting a mite too “personal” at one point – not quite a healthy feel but long enough contact “down there” that I felt like saying something.  Strangely, however, when one has a jittery person behind one’s self and that jittery person is holding a shotgun with a HUGE looking barrel, one’s tongue seems to freeze.  It was probably for the best.

MIG:  “Ok, walk over to that light pole.”

Naturally we complied.  It was that whole jittery/gun thing with the MIG again.

I swear this next part is true…

MIG:  “Put these handcuffs on your wrists and run it behind the pipe.”

Again, you don’t argue with the jittery MIG when he has a gun.

MIG:  “I’ll be right back.  Stay here.”

Like what kind of choice did we have?  WE WERE HANDCUFFED.

Years later the MIG came back.  Pefs hadn’t said a word by that point and looked really green like he was about to throw up.

MIG:  “I had a report of a possible breaking and entering and you guys snuck up behind me.  I’m going to let you go but I’ll be keeping my eye on you.”

We snuck up on him?  Yes, us twelve and ten-year old ninja assassins tend to do that a lot...  He was watching way too much Rockford Files or something.  Maybe Kolchak or something like that.

Me:  “Uh, ok.  Bye.”

We slunk (slunked?  slinked?) back to the RV camp like the furtive hardened criminals we were just as my folks were getting out of their boat with some crab.  Stumbling over each other to relate the story we told them what had happened and they essentially tried to  call bullsh*t on us.

Me:  (animatedly pointing at the MIG) “It’s true!  Look he’s right over there!”

As soon as the MIG saw dad walking towards him he drove off.  I guess his job was done for the day.

See, my experiences with the police have not all been positive.  An episode in Tennessee sixteen years later was even more profound.  That is a story for a later posting.

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Note:  I accidentally deleted this posting.  It had some great comments which I will reconstruct tomorrow.  So sorry.

In order to work out some stuff with insurance I had to drive way out – way way out on the other side of Detroit this morning.

Got lost.  Got really lost.  Well, actually I knew where I was every time except when I was where I needed to be.  I was very nearly late.

I’m looking at my map and trying to spot something that looked even close to my destination and when I look up there’s flashing lights in my rearview mirror.  It was Death, sitting astride his pale horse.

I pointed to the next side street and pulled in.

Death left his steed idling at the curb and floated up to my window.

I said “Geez, I sure hope you can help me find this place because I’m totally lost,” stabbing my finger at my map animatedly.  Now, as you already know that wasn’t quite true because I knew where I wasn’t supposed to be which was where I was – I just couldn’t get to where I wasn’t.  So technically I wasn’t lost.  Moving right along…

In his most professional Grim Reaper expression the officer, who we’ll call Officer Thanatos, said “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

I thought furiously for a moment and then said to myself “Nope, I got nuthin’.

“No sir, I don’t.”

Officer Thanatos then said “You blew through a red light.  That’s bad.”

Ruh-roh!  That IS bad!!!

“Geez, I’m really sorry, Sir – I am just totally lost.”

“Give me your license, proof of insurance, and registration, Sir.” said Thanatos in a chill yet sort of lifelike voice.

I fumbled for my glovebox and snatched up the documents, then threw my license into the pile, and handed it all to him.  “I call.”

No, I didn’t say that, but my brain did, inside where brain things happen inside my head.  Why would I think about poker at a time like this… hell, I don’t know.

“I’ll be right back.”

“Be right here, Sir!” I chirped.

Note:  This is exactly the sort of situation that always ended badly for me in high school – my brain would signal to my mouth to say something and because my mouth doesn’t actually have a brain it just went along with the suggestion, leading to visits with my pal, the principal, and later to some horrific form of dire punishment.

He came back a few minutes later, but meanwhile I called Cruel Wife who laughed evilly at my predicament.  I hung up, as there was no sympathy to be had there.  It was her first day on her new job and she wasn’t going to let anything take away that warm fuzzy feeling.

“Sir, I’m going to give you a warning on the moving violation but I’m going to have to…”

Ok, stop right there.  No utterance by a police officer ever went well when it contained “sorry” and “but” in the same sentence.  Never.  Not once.

“… write you up for no proof of insurance and no vehicle registration.”

“Uh, OK… What???

Thanatos grimaced, which is hard to imagine but a death’s head can actually grimace, and said “Your insurance card is expired and your registration doesn’t match your plate.”


Well, there just isn’t much you can say to that.  Arguing with Death never amounted to much.

Soooooo… I thanked Death profusely for not giving me a moving violation and sat there numbly as he gave me directions to the place where I wasn’t but which I also desperately needed to be since where I was wasn’t doing me any good whatsoever.

As usual, many passers-by slowed down to watch Death administer the last rites, sealing me to my fate.  Which was OK because really my mind was already where I wasn’t but knew that I had to be.  I made it to my destination with one minute to spare.

And the morning went downhill from there.  But that’s another story which I probably won’t tell anyway.

It just occurred to me that perhaps I ought to make some phone calls tomorrow to rectify the documentation problem.

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