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Posts Tagged ‘michigan’

Where did we leave off in the last installment?

We had just left the warm comforting bosom of our hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, I believe.

It was a morning full of promise.  The sun was out and it was a lapis sky (which only exists in the mind’s eye and on Kodak prints), the birds were chirping gaily (or so it was reported to me by Cruel Wife since I couldn’t and cannot hear a bird unaided if my life were to depend upon it), and in the distance, masked by the scent of trepidation from our near-prescient kitty, was the future-stench of bowels as-yet unloosed.

Stretching out before us was a crossroads of sorts.  Had we smelt our kitty more closely we might have turned south and kept going, stopping only when we hit the Gulf of Mexico.  Or, we might have turned north and fled to Canada, home of watery Canadian Bacon Beer, which should be called “ham beer”.  Had we fled to Canada the odds are quite high that we’d have turned around and come back for lack of interesting things to do there, but we might have gone the scenic route before fleeing towards the southern border.

But we did not smell our kitty more closely, and this changed our lives.

New Rule #8:  Always, always, always smell your kitty before embarking on a journey.

Because we did not smell our kitty and thus missed the prescient miasma about his furry personage, we chose the eastern, i.e. towards Michigan, road.

I would love to tell you the following:  That the Goose Lake State Wildlife area was beautiful, that Rock Lake was pristine and unsullied, that parts of Waukesha were quaint and that I had found a great hot dog joint there.  But I can’t tell you any of that because I’ve never been to those places.  I told a little white fib for theatrics earlier, because we did turn south at the crossroads in Madison but we only went as far as we needed to go in order to follow I-90 into Chicago.

What is sad about the route that we took is that I remember absolutely nothing about it beyond the intense fear we experienced.

They say that it is not uncommon to lose the memory of events leading up to an accident or a traumatic event.  It is here that things get a bit hazy beyond a 100 foot radius (the distance in which you just barely have time to say “OhJesusMaryMotherofGodIdon’twanttodielikethisandpleasekeepfromscreamingandshutthecatup” if you say it really really fast like I did, fifty or sixty times)

New Rule #9:  Drug the cat before entering Chicago unless it is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #10:  Drug the wife before entering Chicago unless she is in a crate in the back of the truck. Drugging the wife and putting her in a crate in the back of the truck is not an option that should be left unexplored.

New Rule #11:  Double up on Drixoral™ before entering Chicago so the Shadow People that you hallucinate can read maps and navigate for you.

We came southward on I-90/94 with the intent of driving through Chicago in a straight-shot.  I didn’t see a single piece of Chicago since we were coming through it at A Very Bad Time.  By “A Very Bad Time” I mean during a busy period combined with lots of road work.  It was a reasonably hot day and we were doing a lot of necessary but tedious stop-and-go but then the highway opened up for us.  The cat was restless, we were restless, and also restless were many many other cranky drivers.  It wasn’t very long before I found myself behind a semi – and we were all driving very fast at this point.

The cat started to get fluffy.  I glanced down just long enough to see his eyes and pupils were the size of dinner plates at the Hungry Heifer.  Cruel Wife was making a strange noise that fell between strangling and keening.

I embraced (frantically clutched at) my inner child, got in tune with my feminine side, and got way more in tune with my surroundings.  I was at maximal situational awareness because we were now in “heightened circumstances” that were quite beyond our control, viz, we were now boxed in by four enormous trucks and traveling well beyond the speed limit while going around a fairly noteworthy curve.  Silver d’Cat was trying to be helpful, pointing out things that I could do as safety measures but all that was really getting through to me was something that sounded like “Mrrreooowww, hisss, mreeeow, fttttt, hisss, mrrrreowwwrr” but I can’t really be sure.  He repeated himself several times and got louder each time but I couldn’t really hear him over Cruel Wife speaking to me in tongues.  It seemed that she was speaking not only in several voices at once but also in at least two additional languages (most alarmingly, they seemed to be dead languages).  It was exceedingly difficult to please her in this instance (more so than usual) because all of her hand instructions were contradictory – slow down, speed up, turn on your blinker, don’t move, stop, use your vertical thrusters (huh?), build a campfire, lay a new course of tiles, and (my favorite) invent something *quick*.

Ever smelled the combination of cat fear, sour gym sock sweat, diesel exhaust, and particulates from truly leviathan† truck tires that are near immolation?  It is nauseating.  It’s worse than the combined scent of wildflowers and shame. If you were to roll all those scents and materials into little balls it would make a hell of an herbicide.

A quick note here.  I am referring to “Leviathan” in the sense used by Hobbes, not a sea creature but the concept of something so much bigger than one’s self, a construct of great enormity.  Otherwise in the context of a truck-as-sea-monster it just sounds silly unless it is a truck full of fish-sticks or octupi, not that those two things aren’t rather silly in their own right.

Smells are just not something you need to add to your sensory overload at a time like this.

New Rule #12:  Utilize something like Mentholatum™ as a prophylactic when entering into a situation that is going to involve Odors of Amply Sufficient Vileness.

Let us step outside of events briefly, shall we, Constant Reader?

If we were to freeze the moment, we could walk up and survey the scene in a relaxed and objective fashion, so we’ll do just that.   We might learn something, and we might learn nothing – life is sometimes like that but at least we will be able to say that we made the attempt.  What would we see?  Would it touch us on some deeper level?  Would we be amused?  Disgusted?  Fearful?  Let us see…

We would see a cramped truck cab with two fearful young adults, one male (sweaty, driving), one female (clawed, shrieking), one feline (felis domesticus, yowling), and no fewer than twelve Shadow People that only existed in the mind of the young man behind the wheel of the vehicle because of his cold medicine.  We could stand with our backs to the doors of the truck and reach out and touch the dusty trailers of the semi-trucks to either side.  Four or five healthy strides forwards or backwards would bring us to the trailer doors or grille of the trucks fore and aft.  Sad, endearing, and perfectly understandable would be the small fluffy cat with large panicky eyes as he is frozen in the act of burying his head under the young woman’s arm.  A violent localized squall may be seen through the bug-spattered windshield as a mass of papers and junk food wrappers swirling around the cab and out the half-open windows.  Neither the young man or woman looks happy and the small fluffy cat is clearly beyond help at this moment in time, having taken leave of his senses.  The young man is chewing on his lip hard enough to bleed and he has a large set of veins throbbing at his temples and forehead.

And suddenly it was over.  The roaring of the trucks receded in this distance.  The sound of a mortally terrified Silver d’Cat died off slowly.  The sounds of Cruel Wife choking on self-contradictory instructions ceased.  All that remained was the panting of three exhausted souls.

Note: If you were thinking that the loosed-bowel remark at the beginning of this story was a literal placeholder for events to come I am pleased to disappoint you – no bowels were voided on that day except in a completely voluntary fashion.

What did we learn?

New Rule #13:  Never drive a small truck through Chicago with a cat of any breed.

And then the details of the journey got fuzzy again.   We were all dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in varying degrees and would be for some months to come (cat psychologists are rare and almost prohibitively expensive, by the way).   The next thing I personally recall was passing Kalamazoo.  It was then that I either started humming Hoyt Axton’s Cat from Kalamazoo or I started running it through my head over and over.

It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo
Left the city in a pick-up truck
Gonna make some dreams come true

Of course then our story deviates wildly from Axton’s song because we were heading east, neither Cruel Wife nor I have ever had or ever will have a dog named Jake, Silver d’Cat wasn’t from Kalamazoo, our cat didn’t stay cool, and I’m not evil, just a sociopath.  But the tune was catchy and stuck with me.

Two hours later I got out of the truck, kissed the ground with emotion, even to the point of slipping it the tongue (and got a phone number from it – don’t tell Cruel Wife).   We threw the cat in the apartment, and we took off in search of some cheap comfort food.

Thus concludes the three-part story Driving to Michigan with a Drugged Cat in the Truck.

The fate of the Dramatis Personae: Silver d’Cat lived another twelve years, Cruel Wife has not killed me in my sleep yet in spite of the fact that I snore like an asthmatic donkey (her words), and we continue to live in Michigan.

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Update:  The Dude passed on a great youtube link comparing what happens when you shoot something with different things.   We’re not talking water guns like we are down below.

****

Well, the idea is to come up with a steampunk water pistol.

There seems to be some interest, which is good.  Now, it is truly a matter of how much you want to spend.  So far we’re not looking at a huge cost.   I would add that what you see there is really not all that impressive because I just haven’t had time to model all the parts up yet.  Takes time, it does – for two reasons:  The first reason is that I’m anal-retentive, and the second is that it takes time.

I want it to work and work right, and I don’t want the damn thing blowing up when you hit 50-60 psi.  There are “overclockers” out there that are talking 100 psi but honestly I wouldn’t take it beyond that and I’ll want to check a lot of numbers before doing that, even.   To give you a sense of scale, the pressure vessels there are about 3/4″ in diameter.  My only concession to modern materials will be stainless steel in the check valves (to pump the pressure up) and the acrylic water chamber.  Yes, I could use glass but it’d be a damn thick thing and I also don’t want anyone getting hurt.  I suppose I could go to a different type of sight glass but I like the idea of a 3″ diameter chamber.   I may change my mind yet.

I have a trigger selected, valves, gauge, manifold, pressure vessels, fittings… packaging is critical though, so I’m taking my time on it.

****

Growing up in Oregon I had plenty of opportunities to hang my head in embarrassment when someone did something that reflected badly on the rest of the people in the state.  Michigan proves that it can hold it’s own with stupidity, however.

Mud-bogging with a stolen alligator.

Aren’t those three of the sorriest-looking idiots you’ve ever seen?

****

I can’t say that I’m sorry to see the “Club a WoW Seal Senseless Today” page decrease in total number of hits to near-nothing.  It was really irritating.  My guess is that some cute wittle furry seal picture on Google bumped it down a few pages.  Some of the people who thought I really was a seal-clubber were pretty scary.

Here’s the next-cutest one I’ve ever seen.  I’m sure Amusing Bunni is well aware of this picture.  Somehow that woman has a “Cute Furry Wittle Animal” radar like this world has never seen before.

Image by Matthieu Godbout

Guiltily, however… I admit… I admit to secretly wondering what SealBurger ™ tastes like, and what kind of cheese would be best.  Yes, I am horrible.

Here’s where I’d claim in Steamboat McGoo style that somehow my family was mauled to death slowly by marauding seal pups bent on senseless wanton destruction but I can’t do it with the same finesse that he could.  So I won’t.  But it would make a bitchin’ story, wouldn’t it?  If I actually said it, that is.

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I am.  I’m a law-abiding Michigander.  But I’ll tell you this:

If the Michigan police think that if I am stopped that they can download data off my cellphone they are going to have to arrest me.  AFTER I take my SIM card and destroy it.  There is no F*CKING WAY they get to intrude on my privacy like this.  No way.

The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.

ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.

I will endure arrest on principle.  I will be respectful to the officer, as much as I can and still refuse to comply with his “orders”, but I will NOT hand over my personal information to anyone under duress.

A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

“Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags,” a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device’s capabilities. “The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps.”

The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

“With certain exceptions that do not apply here, a search cannot occur without a warrant in which a judicial officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that the search will yield evidence of criminal activity,” Fancher wrote. “A device that allows immediate, surreptitious intrusion into private data creates enormous risks that troopers will ignore these requirements to the detriment of the constitutional rights of persons whose cell phones are searched.”

Many thanks to The Butcher of Lansing for this link.

****

Now, do NOT think that this next graphic (not mine) and the previous section above are related in any way.  They aren’t.  But Llamas with Hats make me laugh and damnit, I could use a laugh.  Family health issues with my sister have made this kind of a dark week.

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Update:  Headline over at Drudge:

NYC hit with bedbugs, stink bugs - now lice...

Wait a minute… are we talking New York, or Washington D.C.?

****

Note:  Sorry for the delay in posting this final installment.  I just plain haven’t felt “swell” or “peachy” enough to post.  In fact you could use my expression for how I’m feeling… “Never better.”  This was freshly proofed by my captive proof-reader, Intahx E-cated Ho‡, using Dark Jedi Mind Powers.  Long live the Republic!

‡ Not the proofer’s real name.

Where did we leave off in the last installment?

We had just left the warm comforting bosom of our hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, I believe.

It was a morning full of promise.  The sun was out and it was a lapis sky (which only exists in the mind’s eye and on Kodak prints), the birds were chirping gaily (or so it was reported to me by Cruel Wife since I couldn’t and still cannot hear a bird unaided if my life were to depend upon it), and in the distance, masked by the scent of trepidation from our near-prescient kitty, was the future-stench of bowels as-yet unloosed.

Stretching out before us was a crossroads of sorts.  Had we smelt our kitty more closely we might have turned south and kept going, stopping only when we hit the Gulf of Mexico.  Or, we might have turned north and fled to Canada.  Had we fled to Canada the odds are quite high that we’d have turned around and come back for lack of interesting things to do there, but we might have gone the scenic route before fleeing towards the southern border.

But we did not smell our kitty more closely.

New Rule #8:  Always, always, always smell your kitty before embarking on a journey.

Because we did not smell our kitty and thus missed the prescient miasma about his furry personage, we chose the eastern, i.e. towards Michigan, road.

I would love to tell you the following:  That the Goose Lake State Wildlife area was beautiful, that Rock Lake was pristine and unsullied, that parts of Waukesha were quaint and that I had found a great hot dog joint there.  But I can’t tell you any of that because I’ve never been to those places.  I told a little white fib for theatrics earlier, because we did turn south at the crossroads in Madison but we only went as far as we needed to go in order to follow I-90 into Chicago.

What is sad about the route that we took is that I remember absolutely nothing about it.

They say that it is not uncommon to lose the memory of events leading up to an accident or a traumatic event.  It is here that things get a bit hazy beyond a 100 foot radius (the distance in which you just barely have time to say “OhJesusMaryMotherofGodIdon’twanttodielikethisandpleasekeepfromscreamingandshutthecatup” if you say it really really fast like I did, fifty or sixty times)

New Rule #9:  Drug the cat before entering Chicago unless it is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #10:  Drug the wife before entering Chicago unless she is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #11:  Double up on Drixoral™ before entering Chicago so the Shadow People that you hallucinate can read maps and navigate for you.

We came southward on I-90/94 with the intent of driving through Chicago in a straight-shot.  I didn’t see a single piece of Chicago since we were coming through it at A Very Bad Time.  By “A Very Bad Time” I mean during a busy period combined with lots of road work.  It was a reasonably hot day and we were doing a lot of necessary but tedious stop-and-go but then the highway opened up for us.  The cat was restless, we were restless, and also restless were many many other cranky drivers.  It wasn’t very long before I found myself behind a semi – and we were all driving very fast at this point.

The cat started to get fluffy.  I glanced down just long enough to see his eyes and pupils were the size of dinner plates at the Hungry Heifer.  Cruel Wife was making a strange noise that fell between strangling and keening.

I embraced (frantically clutched at) my inner child, got in tune with my feminine side, and got way more in tune with my surroundings.  I was at maximal situational awareness because we were now in “heightened circumstances” that were quite beyond our control, viz, we were now boxed in by four enormous trucks and traveling well beyond the speed limit while going around a fairly noteworthy curve.  Silver d’Cat was trying to be helpful, pointing out things that I could do as safety measures but all that was really getting through to me was something that sounded like “Mrrreooowww, hisss, mreeeow, fttttt, hisss, mrrrreowwwrr” but I can’t really be sure.  He repeated himself several times and got louder each time but I couldn’t really hear him over Cruel Wife speaking to me.  It seemed that she was speaking not only in several voices at once but also in at least two additional languages (most alarmingly, they seemed to be dead languages).  It was exceedingly difficult to please her in this instance (more so than usual) because all of her instructions were contradictory – slow down, speed up, turn on your blinker, don’t move, stop, use your vertical thrusters (huh?), build a campfire, lay a new course of tiles, and (my favorite) invent something *quick*.

Ever smelled the combination of cat fear, human sweat, diesel exhaust, and particulates from truly leviathan† truck tires?  It is nauseating.  It’s worse than the combined scent of wildflowers and shame.

A quick note here.  I am referring to “Leviathan” in the sense used by Hobbes, not a sea creature but the concept of something so much bigger than one’s self, a construct of great enormity.  Otherwise in the context of a truck-as-sea-monster it just sounds silly unless it is a truck full of fish-sticks or octopi, not that those two things aren’t rather silly in their own right.

Smells are just not something you need to add to your sensory overload at a time like this.

New Rule #12:  Utilize something like Mentholatum™ as a prophylactic when entering into a situation that is going to involve Odors of Amply Sufficient Vileness.

Let us step outside of events briefly, shall we, Constant Reader?

If we were to freeze the moment, we could walk up and survey the scene in a relaxed and objective fashion, so we’ll do just that.   We might learn something, and we might learn nothing – life is sometimes like that but at least we will be able to say that we made the attempt.  What would we see?  Would it touch us on some deeper level?  Would we be amused?  Disgusted?  Fearful?  Let us see…

We would see a cramped truck cab with two fearful young adults, one male (sweaty, driving), one female (clawed, shrieking), one feline (felis domesticus, yowling), and no fewer than twelve Shadow People that only existed in the mind of the young man behind the wheel of the vehicle because of his cold medicine.  We could stand with our backs to the doors of the truck and reach out and touch the dusty trailers of the semi-trucks to either side.  Four or five healthy strides forwards or backwards would bring us to the trailer doors or grille of the trucks fore and aft.  Sad, endearing, and perfectly understandable would be the small fluffy cat with large panicky eyes as he is frozen in the act of burying his head under the young woman’s arm.  A violent localized squall may be seen through the bug-spattered windshield as a mass of papers and junk food wrappers swirling around the cab and out the half-open windows.  Neither the young man or woman looks happy and the small fluffy cat is clearly beyond help at this moment in time, having taken leave of his senses.

And suddenly it was over.  The roaring of the trucks receded in this distance.  The sound of a mortally terrified Silver d’Cat died off slowly.  The sounds of Cruel Wife choking on self-contradictory instructions ceased.  All that remained was the panting of three exhausted souls.

Note:  If you were thinking that the loosed-bowel remark at the beginning of this story was a literal placeholder for events to come I am pleased to disappoint you – no bowels were voided on that day except in a completely voluntary fashion.

What did we learn?

New Rule #13:  Never drive a small truck through Chicago with a cat of any breed.

And then the details of the journey got fuzzy again.   We were all dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in varying degrees and would be for some months to come (cat psychologists are rare and almost prohibitively expensive, by the way).   The next thing I personally recall was passing Kalamazoo.  It was then that I either started humming Hoyt Axton’s Cat Named Kalamazoo or I started running it through my head over and over.

It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake

And a cat named Kalamazoo

Left the city in a pick-up truck

Gonna make some dreams come true

Of course then our story deviates wildly from Axton’s song because we were heading east, neither Cruel Wife nor I have ever had or ever will have a dog named Jake, Silver d’Cat obviously wasn’t named Kalamazoo (duh), our cat didn’t stay cool, and I’m not evil (only in moderation).  But the tune was catchy and stuck with me.

Two hours later I got out of the truck, kissed the ground (literally), we threw the cat in the apartment, and we took off in search of some cheap comfort food.

Thus concludes the story Driving to Michigan with a Drugged Cat in the Truck.

The fate of the Dramatis Personae: Silver d’Cat lived another twelve years, Cruel Wife has not killed me in my sleep yet, and we continue to live in Michigan.

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Note:  Cruel Wife will undoubtedly remember things a bit differently so this story may evolve a bit as I am corrected.  Some of this is embellished a bit, yes.  The places and people are the same.

Cruel Wife and I lived in Washington. We met, we dated, my life was over before I knew it. I proposed, we killed time, and we got married.

The End.

Not really, no.

Just after we got back from our honeymoon I got word that I was in a last round of layoffs. It was not an auspicious beginning.

After looking for work for months – and I mean months – I found a job in Michigan. I flew out to begin my new job while Cruel Wife finished her degree (she analyzes failures for a living, mostly mine), and then a month later I flew to Washington to meet up with her and then move the last few items “back east”.

For a Northwest person, anything east of Boise is “back east”. To a Northwester, moving within 100 miles of Detroit is a death sentence or consignment to Hell, whichever seems worse. It varies from individual to individual.

We loaded up my truck with what little was left to move and set off from Pullman, Washington (Cruel Wife is a Cougar – no, not that kind of Cougar). It wasn’t easy. We knew we’d be leaving behind good coffee, friends, family, good coffee, the beautiful Northwest, good coffee, Taco Time™, and real seafood.

For my part I was going to miss Taco Time™ the most.

For Pete’s sake, you didn’t believe that, did you, Faithful Reader? It was coffee. And seafood. Again, you believed that? Okay, okay, friends and family.

We had suitcases, my toolbox, a big medium-sized recliner, and a cat carrier. With a cat.

Let’s focus on the cat for a moment.

Silver d’Cat was a Himalayan, which is cat fancier-speak for “cat with a really flat face”. When Cruel Wife and I were dating early on, Silver (short for Silver Streak) d’Kitten would nap on my chest when I napped on the couch. It was an equitable trade. He used me and I got points with the girlfriend. He was a pretty cat, never really a big cat, and one of the kindest little kitty hearts you can imagine.

Silver d’Cat two years later, with a new name and identity, now an unhappy cat in a cat carrier on the seat between us, in a jeep. Not one of us was happy, and Silver and I were competing to see who could be the most annoying in voicing our annoyance. The vet had given us a bottle of pills to give to Silver, ostensibly as a mild sedative, but there was one teensy problem, and at first blush you might not think it was a problem and your mind would move on to other matters, oblivious to certain realities.

The pills were about one inch in diameter. The cat’s throat was about 3/16 of an inch in diameter, less if you were trying to give him a pill. This was a problem. This is the rough equivalent of fitting a hippo into a VW bug. It’s also a good deal noisier. With every limb straight out, every hair on his body standing on end, his claws fully extended, and his eyes the size of dinner plates we would tackle him and force this giant pill down the Maw of Death, my pet name for the beginning of Silver d’Cat’s alimentary system.

I realized right away that he and I could not share these pills – they damn near killed the cat, so why would I want to subject myself to that? Instead, since my allergies were really bad, I stuck with Drixoral™, which causes me to see Shadow People and that made the drive much more interesting when I was behind the wheel. If one were to glance at the instructions on the package and actually read them for comprehension, one would see:

Warning: Do not operate heavy machinery while taking this medication.

This was no problem since the Jeep classifies as a light truck. So went my reasoning.

Fifteen minutes after the first pill, Silver stopped yowling in a screeching tone and more in a druggy-screeching tone. Cruel Wife informed me that she’d take a look and see how the little guy was doing.

“HE’S FOAMING AT THE MOUTH!!!” blasted into my right ear, shredded the already spongy-matter that comprises the greater share of my brain, out of my my left ear, and left stuff that was really hard to clean off splattered against the driver’s side window. The Jeep screeched to a halt as I locked up the brakes and stopped on the side of the road. The journey of thousands of miles starts with but a single panic attack.

We drug druggy-yowling Silver d’Cat out of his carrier (getting him in was like putting toothpaste back in the tube) and decided that he wasn’t happy outside the carrier now.

It was early on in our relationship and I had not learned that most of the time you’ll do a whole lot better if you never say anything. “Oh yes, he’s foamy all right. Hey, you could use this stuff as shaving cream – it’s got body to it. What? What’d I say?” Or something unintelligent like that. That was the first look Cruel Wife had ever given me. It was awful. I felt my flesh being stripped from my bones, my marrow crumbled to dust, and my testicles blackened and fell off. It was readily apparent that this was her baby. She had no sense of humor or tolerance in this area.

New Rule #1: Do Not Mock Cruel Wife’s Baby Even if It is Furry.

We decided as a couple (ahem) that he did not need to ride in a carrier but would have a leash and ride on the seat between us. Carrier went in back and we drove on.

Olfactorily I am the canary in the coal mine. After a while I said “What’s that smell​​?” The smell was enough to peel the paint off the inside of the cab and Cruel Wife knew it was there as soon as I did. It was all the grittier smells of a tannery, a pulp mill, and a chicken farm with chicken-poo lagoons and they were emanating from the cat in little kitty burps (Cat Burp Bombs – CBB’s) that came out with the froth running down his chin. Make no mistake: Our cat was stoned and he passed David Bowie, Jim Morrison, Sid Vicious, and Jimi Hendrix on his way out of the solar system. I thought perhaps that I could chew up little bits of one of his pills at a time but then figured my drooling/foaming and CBB’s might tip off Cruel Wife. Well, I still had my Drixoral and my Shadow People friends.

Silver’s effluent also had this inorganic chemistry smell to it – sharp, unfeeling, lead-pipe cruel – and after a while we’d made it through Couer d’Alene, across Idaho in no time at all, then Lolo Pass in the Bitterroot mountain range. By the time we came out of the mountains we’d had enough of trying to sneak bits of fresh air and avoiding CBB’s so we made the command decision.

New Rule #2: No Drugs For Himalayans Riding in Jeeps.

Silver was in full agreement with this rule. In fact he co-authored that bill and you can still see his foamy little footprints all over it.

Montana was pretty big, pretty, and incredibly boring after a while. I said “Well, I know what will help pass the time.”

New Rule #3: No Beer in the Truck No Matter How Boring it Gets. Even if You are Passenger.

Mumbling “I don’t see how ‘happily ever after’ is even going to happen…” Cruel Wife gave me the look again and said sharply “WHAT?” as we swerved almost imperceptibly. My Shadow People friends all screamed “SHUT… UP!” Wise people, those Shadow Folk.

We spent the first night in Livingston, Montana with her relatives. I drank some beers and tried to stay out of the way. I did get a tour of a local laser manufacturer, which was pretty cool. I was itching to get going though so we said our goodbyes and took off, bound for Hardin, Montana to see Grandma. Cruel Wife’s grandma.

Update:  In Cruel Wife’s words…

Only one correction of note. We stayed in Livingston, MT the first night. Can’t forget that. My cousin tried to pawn her son’s iguana off on us. Now LK and I both think iguanas are cool critters (which had led to the offer since she was trying to find it a new home), but two (semi) adults, one unhappy cat, AND an iguana in the cab of a Jeep would have upset the balance of the universe. Global warming a decade early. Meltdown of the global economy. Dog and cats living together in sin. You get the idea. Seeing all these ghastly ramifications, we politely, but firmly refused.

Montana is a big place and we had driven a fair distance. Cat on the seat, Cruel Wife and I swapping off, and the Shadow People in the back and hanging off the sides of the truck. We got into town fairly late in the afternoon. We planned on spending the next day there and leave the following morning.

Cruel Wife’s grandma went through major depression era hardships. We’re talking NOTHING got wasted. NOTHING. “That old milk box can be chewed up for extra fiber. ”  “Toilet paper has two sides, you know!”   “Tuna cans make good candle votives as long as you use the fat rendered from roadkill.”

“Spaghetti” really means noodles with a can of tomatoes, lots of bacon grease, and whatever else is lying around – “You just scrape the mold off it and it’ll be fine. Really, Lemur, it was good last week. So what if the vegetables have split open and are moving around by themselves and eating bugs and small animals?”

New Rule #4: Eat What Grandma Provides Even if You Wouldn’t Feed it to Diseased Mutant Pigs.

The next morning dawned bright and clear and as is my usual custom I ignored it completely, opting to sleep in as long as I could. At some point the plan evolved into a “Let’s get a tour of the town.” Grandma drove and it was… it… it was traumatic. It was like being eviscerated with a grapefruit spoon.

Montana’s speed limits were pretty lax at that time and we screamed up the on-ramp and skidded onto the freeway at times topping 40 mph and averaging about 35 mph. I was in the rear seat and turned around to see a truck perilously close to us and getting closer with every beat of my now-arrhythmic heart. The grille loomed in my vision and seemed to extend for miles to each side of us. I could count and identify bugs on the front of the truck’s bumper, which was at eye level. I squeaked “Cruel Wife… Cruel Wife… Cruel Wife… Oh please oh please go faster…” While I was tapping frantically on her shoulder she turned around and said “Grandma, you’ve got to go faster!”

“We’re going to die,” I whispered quiety, unheard by a single living soul.

To Cruel Wife Grandma replied “Oh, no, I don’t like to go too fast.”

New Rule #5: Never ride with Grandma again. Ever.

We were very near the location of Custer’s Last Stand and I began to wonder if we wouldn’t be joining him soon. The semi truck lurched sideways and forward to pass us as if we were standing still (which we very nearly were). A few fear-filled miles later we pulled off the highway and visited what I believe was billed as the “Combine of Death Capitol of the World”. It was an entire museum devoted to the celebration of farming equipment specifically designed to mangle people in really scary ways. I swear half the equipment was protected from the elements not by paint but layer upon layer of dried blood.

Hardin, Montana is not a large town, a little bit over 3000 people if you count the people waiting at the bus station. We got the five minute tour and then Grandma suggested that we get Chinese food for dinner. I don’t remember what I ate but I do remember looking at it with slowly dawning horror as I realized that it probably had come from a can bought from the local grocery store. You know you’re getting authentic Chinese food when the waitress asks if you want ketchup with your meal. I choked it down and smiled wanly at Grandma, saying “Mmmm… good.”

Visiting the gathering hall we met many nice ladies there who were charming and warm which was funny to me because Grandma wasn’t exactly the most huggable lady in the world, if you get my drift. We stayed there long enough for my lips to stick to my dried-out teeth from holding a smile and for my eyes to start throbbing as I tried to at least look like I was engaged in the conversation. And then we stayed some more, probably as much as two more hours. I very nearly cried with relief when we left.

Another uneventful night passed and we were on the road by ten that morning ready to experience the rest of our trip.

(next, Part II…)

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Old News:  Oldcatman has posted a special message to me and others on his blog!  Yay!

He gave us a big finger, I heard.  He’s so cute when he gets his panties in a wad.  No, no, don’t go over there, you’ll just give him better stats.  Act casual.

If you’re known by the enemies you keep, I’m a happy camper.

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Michigan has it’s share of militias – when I first heard of an FBI raid of a militia group I thought of the Michigan Militia but supposedly they weren’t involved.

But there are other organizations of people just as extreme – the one raided goes by the name Hutaree.

When I think of a militia member, I think of this:

Wait.  No, that’s not right.  Not right at all.

THIS is what I think about – a thundering troglodyte.

Yes, I know that this country was founded by patriots that could be loosely (very loosely) be called a militia, but we’re talking orders of magnitude in caliber of people, I’m afraid.

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Useless Fact of the Day: Le Petit Singly is a small farm in France, which makes cheese from donated human breast milk. The proprietors claim that it is rich in vitamins and has a slight taste of hazelnut.

Maybe it’s a hoax, but even the fact that someone claims it and it’s a known hoax is pretty damn useless.

How about Rat Cheese?

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