Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lowman On The Totem Pole

Well, the camping plans of last week (cancelled by rain – thanks, weather bunny …) finally took place Friday. The network was down at work, so I told my boss I was out. A quick pack-up of the grey ghost, a beer for the road at Le Pub, and I hit the trail. It’s nice to get out of town, away from people, grab a little precious solitude … so of course, the first thing I did after setting up the tent was to ride down 4 miles of washboard, ride up 4 miles of highway 21, sit my ass down and have a beer with Marla.

Marla and her husband built the Haven Hot Springs establishment (restaurant, motel rooms, private hot pools) in 1993. No one else was in there, so we watched some of a Hitchcock movie (starring Paul Newman … wow … RIP, Paul. I suppose Slapshot won’t be available at Blockbuster) and talked about her grandkids and how she drew for a moose this year. A very enjoyable afternoon.

So back at the campsite, I was the only one there. I fired up the grill, cooked a few ears of corn and a couple of steaks, and realized I hadn’t brought a plate. It’s always nice to have options for dinner, and I got to choose between eating right off the picnic table or on some newspapers. The newspaper, while offering a barrier between my meal and the remnants of god knows what had ever happened on that table, tended to shred under the knife and become embroiled in the actual food. While paper does offer some dietary fiber, the fact remains that you’re still EATING GODDAMNED NEWSPAPER. So picnic table it was.

I also didn’t take a flashlight, so when it was time to go to bed, it was an all-in proposition. Once I turned that propane lantern off, I knew there was no way in hell my drunk ass could light that thing again in the middle of the night. But damnit! I’m a grown man! So I administered some animal repellant, which consists of me playing guitar and singing (bears have a very eerie roar of pain – with the first chord, I heard a howl of displeasure that seemed to rapidly fade into the distance), and headed to bed. I’m not really afraid of large animals per se, but some of them are assholes. I know that there’s very little chance that a moose would steal my distributor cap twice in one lifetime, but I do carry a spare now. Fool me once, you know. I hope Marla plugs that moose. Bastard.

The cold wasn’t too bad … mid 30s, probably. There was frost on the propane tanks – a bit of advice: don’t try to thaw them by putting them by the fire. Eyebrows grow back, don’t they?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Twinkie Power

Ok, this will be simple. We've got the White Sox at 86-71 and the Twins at 86-72, 1/2 game back. After Minnesota finishes the sweep today, all that has to happen is for the Twins and the Indians to win a total of 4 of their last 6 games (3 each). That happens, and the Sox don't even get to play their make-up game.

Piece o' cake.

Note To Self:

No more listening to Steve Earle's Lonelier Than This by yourself in the dark.

It doesn't get any lonelier than this
I believe my heart'll break
Tonight I prayed I'd die before I wake
With every breath I'm tastin' your kiss
And it's sweet upon my tongue
Until the bitter tears fall one by one

It doesn't get any lonelier than this
I'm as blue as blue can be
Just an empty place where your love should be
I'm sick and tired of walkin' round like this
With my heart outside my skin
Scared to death we'll never touch again

Sweet grazing gumballs, put on some Mungo Jerry, for gawd's sake.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quit Yer Bitchin' ... It'll Grow Back.

Well, as the Indians are mathematically eliminated from post-season play, I guess it’s time for my semi-annual haircut. But what cut to choose? The ‘fro? The fauxhawk? Maybe a big ole pompadour. I have an inkling that the mullet will be making a comeback, and lord knows I don’t want to be caught sleeping when THAT trend comes a-stormin' back through town. Gotta keep ahead of the game, you know. On the other hand, I haven’t had a good high’n’tight since about 3rd grade*.

This brings to mind a conversation I had during a haircut when I was in Salt Lake City:

Haircut Girl: How would like it cut today?

Me: Oh, just kind of shorter … top of the ears, short up top ..

Haircut Girl: How ‘bout a number 4 on the side?

Me: Well, that’s very generous, but I’m married.

Haircut Girl: You’re an idiot.

I think that, all in all, the most important thing about getting a new ‘do is that the place is next door to the bar. No matter what happens, I’ll come out okay.

* That's a style of haircut, you sick bastards.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Most Important Baseball Series EVAH!

Today, as fate would have it, is not only International Talk Like A Pirate Day, it’s also the start of the all-important final 3-game series between the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers. For those who only read the financials, N*88 and I have a bet on the season series between these two perennial AL powerhouses non-cellar-dwellers (thanks, KC!). Of course, a wager of passion such as this cannot be simply for cash, nor for mere acknowledgement of superiority, nor for fine spices or silks. No, the only truly appropriate currency in situations such as these is beer. Lots of it. Fifteen and a half gallons, to be precise. One keg. The ole half-barrel. One hundred and twenty four tasty ones.

Currently, the series stands at Tribe 8, Tigers 7. Detroit needs to sweep to win outright, while Cleveland needs to take 2 to do the same. In case of a tie, the bet goes to the team that scored the most runs; currently, Cleveland is up by 5 (93-88). If Cleveland wins 1 game, by 1 run, Detroit would need to win the other 2 games by a combined margin of 7 runs to take it. Unfortunately, Cy Young Cliff Lee isn’t scheduled to pitch any of the games. Damn.

There isn’t really a second tiebreaker set up, so I’d like to suggest that if it does end 9-9, with both teams scoring the same number of runs, all of the people who will end up helping with the keg anyway chip in and buy it instead. Seems only fair.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Does A Beer Schmidt In The Woods?

I wonder if, by “3-season sleeping bag,” they mean that it’s appropriate for spring, summer, and fall, or that it’s good for 3 summers before it falls apart? It’s supposed to get down to about 36 °F (275 °K) Saturday night in Lowman. I will, of course, be adhering to the camping code of “1 beer per degree Farenheit per day*,” though it remains a matter of debate** as to whether the proper index is low, high or median temperature.

* Children under 12 are allowed to use the Celsius scale. People named Jason may use the Kelvin scale.
** Feel free to say to yourself "and he IS a master debater! Ha ha!" The classics never get old.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bad Poetry

The moon sinks low in the early hours
Nearly full, a grapefruit hanging over the horizon
There is some solace in the thought
That you may be staring too
And that if I look hard enough
I'll see the reflection of your eyes

Yeah, right ... like your lazy ass is going to be up at 6 am. Who writes this crap?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fear And Loathing In My House

I’ve lived in constant fear for over a week now.

One of our species’ most beneficial evolutionary tools is our tendency to ignore the innumerable horrifying aspects of the world we live in. Imagine an existence where every moment was spent contemplating the very real monstrosities that surround us – flesh eating bacteria, the ebola virus, Natural Light beer … no, don’t imagine that. That way lies madness. Thankfully, we seem to have the ability to push those things deep down into the dark recesses of our subconscious and make our way through our lives blissfully unaware of the vile hellishness that surrounds us.

Every once in a while, though, we’re reminded of what lies beneath. And so it was last week when I saw, in my kitchen … an earwig. Lest we forget the pure evil that is the earwig:
These insects are quite insidious, the fertilized female will attach herself to hair, clothing and/or skin, and under the cover of darkness wend her way into the ear canal, burrowing then through the middle and inner ear to the brain. Upon reaching the brain, the earwig first severs the cranial nerve, which serves as both a blessing and a curse to the victim. Whereas the victim suffers no pain thereafter, the victim is also unaware of the progressive degeneration of cerebral tissue.

Over the course of several days, the female burrows a network of tunnels through the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain, implanting her eggs as she digs along. After she has deposited her entire brood of approximately 1000 eggs, she emerges in the sinus cavity where she expires. The eggs hatch after about 4 days of incubation. Immediately after they pass through the pupae stage, about 2 days later, each larva burrows further into the brain, shredding brain tissues and consuming it for nourishment. The victim will usually die a horrible and debilitating death about a week later as the larvae reach maturity.

This is truly Satan’s insect. Trust me, it’s no fun wearing earplugs 24/7, and my feet hurt from wearing my cowboy boots all the time (in case I need to kill one in a corner.) I don’t know how much longer I can go on.

Somebody hold me …

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Holidays Are Nearly Upon Us

Just a friendly reminder … we’re creeping up on Breakup Season (December 5 – February 15!) Keep in mind that it’s not a real breakup if you’ve only been seeing each other a week or two, and I know a lot of us have been caught in the past putting off finding a significant other until it’s too late. So get on it, people! Find that sweetie now and get a few months of togetherness in so that you’ve got something of substance to talk about on that first Friday in December. Leave the last-minute shopping for Christmas/Channukah/Kwanzaa/Solstice presents for your family. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, when you got nobody, you got nobody to lose.

Also, Drinking Season, as we all know, runs from Thanksgiving Eve through January 2nd, so you should be well into your pre-season training.

Monday, September 8, 2008


And then ... depression set in.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

True Grit

Self awareness is a strange thing. I would argue that in the strictest sense, it’s simply a construct, and not something that anyone ever truly attains. However, by and large, most of us have a sense of what kind of people we are, and our observable behaviors generally correlate with our internal self-image.

Occasionally, though, there are times when we do something that we never believed we would have done. The resulting dissonance can be extremely disturbing, even life changing. It can be extremely traumatic to recognize that we aren’t who we thought we were, that the way we see ourselves is not the way we actually are.

And so I found myself in the driveway this morning, cutting a tabletop out of the boards I’d glued together using my new biscuit joiner, and getting ready to sand it.

The belt sander is one of my favorite tools. It is built solely for turning wood into sawdust. It has no allusions of being a finishing tool, no aspirations of doing final detail work. It makes no apologies. And while I’m far from an accomplished woodworker, I have partnered with the belt sander enough to appreciate and respect its place in the universe.

Imagine, then, the shock that hit me when I discovered that the only belts I had were 120 grit. 120 grit? That’s basically velvet. How did they get into my garage in the first place? I know that I’m usually inebriated when I go to the hardware store, but how drunk must I have been to buy 120 grit? Even 80 grit is a bit of a sheila belt, so with nothing but 120, I felt like I should be wearing a dress. (Speaking of which, as an aside, if anyone knows why I was wearing panty hose and missing my left pinky toe this morning, please let me know.)

So that’s it. There I was, the job waiting, the project prepped, and I had failed myself. I’ve occasionally run out of beer in the fridge before, but there has always been a spare in the golf bag or the glove compartment to tide me over on the ride down to the store. This was different. It’s not like I had some 30 grit stashed in my fanny pack man-purse rugged, manly, waist-mounted pack. How could this have happened? I can’t remember when I’d let myself down to this degree before. How could I have strayed so far from the path upon which I believed I was traveling? It’s like my whole carpentry life has been a lie.

There was no overt breakdown. Just a sigh, and some time sitting on the steps with a beer and some melancholy music; an hour or two of introspection. A true sense of relief that the only person I'd let down was myself. But what are we to do when we’re forced to accept that we’re not who we thought we were? Who’s to say? I guess the best we can do is to recognize our failures and try to change ourselves for the better.

As god as my witness, I will never be without 60 grit again.

I've received several emails from members of BSA (Belt Sanders of America) claiming that my statements about the belt sander portrayed the tool as something of a bully and an overpowering asshole of the shop. I regret the implication. The belt sander truly appreciates the roles that the other sanders play - the random orbit, the oscillating drum, all of them. It has a special fondness for the disc sander, who can, from time to time, bring a real challenge, especially when working with metal. My sincere apologies go out to all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The World Serious

Well, since I outlined what needed to be done in order for the Tribe to win the World Series, a few ball games have been played:

Cleveland: 8-3 (including a 3 game sweep of Detroit and a victory over Chicago)
Chicago: 4-6
Minnesota: 5-6

Who knew that Eric Wedge reads this blog? I love it when a plan comes together ...

Monday, September 1, 2008

How To Remain Single, Pt. MCCIX

"One of my favorite things about you is watching you walk away ..."

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why they call me Smooooooooooov T ...