Tuesday, April 28, 2009

She Comes In Colors Everywhere

We had a fantastic storm today. Thunder, lightning, rain, hail, frogs, the whole nine yards. I had an appointment to meet the new owner of the house next to me and his realtor about some weird water pump thingy on his property that was wired to my house (the lots used to be one and were subdivided just as I bought my place). I was on the edge of my seat watching them dig around blindly trying to find the source of the 220 line during a full-on apocolyptic fury, thinking that I'd finally join the double-digit tier of the "accidental deaths seen live" club, but alas, it remains as much a dream as the Mile High club. I think I'll just drive to Denver, get a hooker and two tickets to a Broncos game.

Shortly after, I was driving over to pick up the Live Acorn, and I drove around a curve and saw this:

click on image for larger version ... DO IT!

Unfortunately, I didn't have my Hasselblad HD2-39, so it's not the highest quality shot. Luckily, I had my 8-pixel Nokia phone, at least, and had amazingly just read the owner's manual concerning snapping photos not two days ago!

Disirregardless of the quality, it was far and away the most amazing rainbow I've ever seen. I almost hit a car pulling over to take the picture. Even better, as I drove up on the bench, I could see both ends actually fading into the trees in town. The only sucky part was that I could also see at least 20 people at each end fighting over the pots o' gold, so I knew I had no chance at them. Plus, those leprechauns fight dirty, and I'm a loser, not a fighter. Fuckin' Irish.

I took a little crap from the Live Acorn for showing so many people the picture down at the pub. I can't help it if I have that romantic streak in me. Many's the time I've stood watching a rainbow, holding hands with a beautiful girl, both of us speechless before the beauty of nature ... and then I'd say something about different wavelengths being diffracted differently by the moisture, and how there were always double rainbows, you just couldn't see one most of the time, and how beautiful sunsets were caused by differential filtering due to pollutants, and then, well, I'd generally end up walking home alone in the rain.

Her (sighing): Why is the sky blue, Dead Acorn?

Dead Acorn, in ideal world: Because the heavens are lonely without you, my love...

Dead Acorn, in real world: Well, while light can correctly be discussed as both a wave and a particle, for the purposes of this conversation, let's treat it as a wave ... you see ...

Her: You're such an douche. Take me home.

I was reminded today, however, by one of the valley's foremost biblical scholars, and, to be honest, my favorite theologian, that rainbows are the Big Guy's reminder of his promise never to flood the earth again. "Noah way, Noah how!", he's reputed to have said, with his classic deitistic wit. Agnostic though I am (or atheist, if it holds the promise of a fun argument), I actually took some solace in this.

Until I got home.

My driveway has a slight slope down toward the garage door, and though the door itself does have a rubber water-sealy thing at the bottom, it's not entirely waterproof. And while I readily admit that it was not a flood of biblical proportions, and while I also admit that it's not strictly the world in my garage, it's sort of my world, and it sort of got flooded.

Clearly God's a fucking liar.

Some may argue that I've known about the sagging rain gutter above the door for years, and have chosen to do nothing about it. Those are the same losers who claim that "God helps those who help themselves." Do you people not realize you're entirely embracing secular humanism with that kind of logic? BLIND FAITH, people. It's the only thing that will get you into heaven. That's why I haven't fixed my fucking gutters.

I'm rambling a bit here, I think. Still, screw you, God ... I expect you over here tomorrow to clean up the soggy sawdust. And bring beer.

And since it's Dead Acorn Tuesday Night Music Club:

Nena - She's A Rainbow

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Candy Coated Clown

I’m not much of a candy eater. It’s not like I’m anti-sweets; on the contrary, I rather enjoy a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or a Zagnut every once in a while. I just don’t tend to buy them all that much. Every so often the Live Acorn will give me some sort of sourball or jawbreaker that tastes pretty good. Well, I was in the grocery store a week or so ago, strolling leisurely through the aisles (in no real hurry to get back to work, because, hey, what the taxpayers don’t know won’t hurt them, right? Right?), and I stumbled upon the candy section. More specifically, the theatre-sized-candy subsection of the candy section. Having been to a theatre within the last 10 years, I knew that these boxes ran somewhere between $6 and $8, and while it’s one thing to waste taxpayer money, it’s quite another to waste my own.

Imagine my shock, then, when I saw the 10/$10.00 sign in front of the Everlasting Gobstoppers! I did the math, then did it again, just to make certain. A dollar a box? “This is most assuredly a labeling error!*” I thought to myself. Being familiar with the policies of the store, I ran to the front to pay for them before they had a chance to fix it. Out of breath and sweating profusely, I gave the cashier a couple of bucks, waited for my change, then laughed loudly and explained how I had just taken advantage of their mistake, and that no matter what she said, I didn’t have to pay any more than the price on the tag. She hid her shame well, to her credit, only taking the slightest glance at the manager, who, for some reason, had approached rather quickly.

On the way back to work, I became puzzled at why they would sell such a large box of something that was everlasting in the first place. Perhaps the joke was on me after all. What would I do with them all? I supposed that I could give the extras away – yes! YES! A truly everlasting gift that DOESN’T have the word “simplex” in its name!

My elation soon turned to disappointment, however, when the first one I tried was gone in a couple of minutes. Being a reasonable consumer, I was willing to believe that it was a factory defect, though I was saddened by the fact that there would be one less recipient of such a marvelous gift. I made a mental note to send a brief letter of complaint to Société des Produits Nestlé S.A in Vevey, Switzerland, and popped another in my mouth. Well, believe you me, sister, my disappointment quickly turned to anger when it lasted no longer than the first. This would not stand!

I got back to the office, and figured that rather than just sending the drunken rant I had written on a bar napkin (I had stopped off at Eileen’s Dew Drop Inn to calm down a bit), I’d do a couple of experiments** to bolster my arguments, knowing that the stronger the case I made, the more they’d be willing to pay to keep me silent.

I sent this off yesterday:

To whom it may concern:

I recently purchased a product of yours (misleadingly) called “Everlasting Gobstoppers.” I am not fully versed in Swiss law, but in the United States, we have very strict truth-in-advertising statutes, by which you are bound (by selling your product in this country, you accept all regulatory rules applicable to said product), and which, as I will demonstrate below, you have most egregiously broken.

Graph 1 shows the longevity of a series of 15 “everlasting” Gobstoppers. The measured lifespans had a range of 3.2 minutes (low=1.8, high=5) and a mean of 3.23 minutes. Though certainly longer lasting than, say, a Smartee, your candy can in no way be described as "everlasting." It’s been my experience that it’s very difficult to convince someone that something that lasted 3.2 minutes lasted ANY longer than that, much less that it was everlasting. This is clearly fraudulent.

Graph 1: Everlasting, my lily-white ass.

Having eviscerated your claims concerning longevity, it occurred to me that other aspects of your naming scam may be less than truthful as well.

Graph 2 shows the number of Gob attacks both during consumption of a Gobstopper and during temporally equivalent periods of non-Gobstopper consumption. A t-test revealed no statistically significant difference between the two conditions (one-tailed test, p = .39), meaning that your candy cannot even legitimately claim to deter Gobs, much less stop them.

Graph 2: You can't stop the Gobs, you can only hope to contain them.

As I would rather not be involved in a drawn-out high-profile battle in international courts, I will agree to drop this matter if you agree to compensatory damages of $1.06 (USD) and punitive damages of $1.5 million (USD), preferably in small bills and/or krugeraands.

I await your reply,

The Dead Acorn

It’s only been a day, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated when they reply.

*I realize that “No fucking WAY!” would be much more efficient in terms of time spent engaged in internal conversations. I learned early on, however, that heavy utilization of multisyllablism provided a means of fulfilling temporal requirements of speech-giving with much less work spent on actually researching a topic. This practice was apparently internalized into my actual thought processes (such as they are), so if I seem to be a bit slow in conversation, that’s the cause. That, plus the lead paint in the house in which I grew up.

** See here for more sciencey fun!

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Nude Og

Well, the devil-dog has a new sister. I was coming out of the grocery store yesterday, and there was a couple there with a little Husky hound. We got to talking, and the guy said that he was moving and couldn't bring her, and was giving him to his brother, but his brother didn't really want her, and, well, now she lives with us.

Her old name was Athena, but as much as I'm a fan of The Who, I'm not going to have a dog named after one of their songs. ("There was a beautiful white horse I saw in a dream stage, he had a snake the size of a sewer pipe living in his rib cage ..." Seriously? I think Ole Pete was playing with his chemistry set that day.) On the other hand, "Slip Kid" wouldn't be bad.

I guess going by my past naming conventions, I would rename Indy as Odie (or O.D., for "Old Dog," since Indy is really N.D., which stands for "New Dog," which she was at the time I got her, and name the new dog Indy. That would probably get a little confusing for them, and jeebus knows, Indy's screwed up enough already.

So Sasha it is. That sounds sort of Siberian (though I'm not sure she's a Siberian Husky). I felt a little bad about having to put the kibosh on The Live Acorn's suggestion of La'Quisha. Yes, really. Odd kid, that one.

She mainly just follows me around the house and wants to be with me all the time, just like not unlike completely unlike human females. Indy's a little jealous, but she'll get over it.

I never saw Sasha thing!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dude's White? No WAY He's White.*

I don’t think I’m all that much of a music snob. I like a pretty wide variety of stuff, and though I think that people who don’t like what I like have really shitty-ass taste in music, my tastes are broad enough that the shitty-ass club isn’t really bursting at the seams for members. But I do have a little … well, “pity” isn’t really the word I’m looking for, but maybe you’ll figure out what I’m trying to say despite my limited grasp of the language; for the time being I’ll go with “pity” … pity for the people who get stuck listening to music from a certain period of their past. It seems a bit sad, like the guy who graduates high school, but keeps hanging around, ‘cause he thinks those are the best days he’s ever going to see, whether it’s a conscious thing or not. It’s partly frustration, because I want to sit them down and play them some music THAT WAS MADE THIS CENTURY, and what is obviously some of the best music ever made, given that I like it. But like I said, I’m not all that much of a music snob**.

That said, I went down to the record store the other day and bought a couple of CDs that I knew from my youth, because sometimes, a little trip down yesterlane isn’t a bad thing. Those who forget the past, and all that crap. So there I was, happy as a clam (from what I know, their pleasure centers aren’t all that developed, so I don’t really know what that means) with Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Greatest Hits Volume I” and Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love."

I’ll leave a short space for the purists to deride my purchase of a “Greatest Hits” CD.

Fucking purists.

Anyway, I did have both of these albums back before the war, but in a format known as “cassette tape." For my teen-ish readers, a “cassette tape” was an audio (and later video!) recording medium based on some kind of magnetic voodoo technology, but the relevant aspect of the medium for this discussion is that there were actually moving parts. The little tape rolled along, from the feeder wheel, at 1 7/8” per second, getting wrapped around a bunch of wheels, pinched and pushed, brushed across the sensor dealy, to where it finally got taken up by the .. well, the take-up dealy. Some of my technical terms may be over your heads, dear readers, but rest assured, it usually worked.

The word “usually” in this case refers (in its negative implicative***) to the fact that occasionally the workings of the cassette tape player (almost universally part of a stereo/cassette/8-track/record player console, which was TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME) would devour the tape, at which point the listener would hear a garbling of the music, leap off the bed, perhaps tearing some Yessongs posters off the wall in the ensuing frenzy, and slam the stop button (located next to all of the other buttons, so basically this meant just slamming everything you could).

When this happened, a tape could rarely be saved intact. It occurred from time to time, when the moon was cusping just so, but usually, you were looking at two ends of a shredded tape. We knew back then, however, how to fix what was broken and not to waste .. after all, it wasn’t like you got 13 cassettes for a penny, with only 10 to buy over the next 3 years. The local head shop record store sold cassette splice tape, and just like ole grandpa done when his copper lines snapped, when we saw somethin’ busted, we said “well, hell, Ethel, let’s unbust it.”

What the hell was I talking about?

Oh yeah … the Bobby Caldwell tape I had fell victim rather early to the aforementioned fate. This being the case, the ingrained memory of the whole album contained a spot in a particular song where it got muffled, went silent, and came back again. To me and my shadow, that’s the way the album was recorded, produced, and released.

Imagine my shock, then, when I sat back in the chair, ready to embark on my time-machine trip back to my youth, and three songs in, I’m expecting the muffle/silence part, and this fucker keeps singing! No muffle! No silence! I mean, I was THERE, man, remembering driving hammered through the Reed’s Gym parking lot, seeing it like it was yesterday, then WHAM! back to now, like life was a cartoon wife with a frying pan upside the head.

Well, as you must agree, this was complete and total bullshit. I paid decent money for music from my past from the used CD bin at the record store, and I wanted a decent reliving of my past when I got home. I thought about calling the Better Business Bureau, but then it occurred to me that if I complained about it now, but had spliced it back then, well, then wasn’t I really just a complete sellout to the commercial buy-it/toss-it society that we’ve become and that I rail against, in my mind, if not in my actual buying habits or any other objectively measurable behavior? I struggled with that question for a long time, mostly because I was really hammered, but eventually, I did try to fix it.

My first try, which took most of the night, was to time the old cassette tape (why, yes, I DO still have it!), figure out when the splice occurs, and find on the CD where that point was, and then take the rusty nail that I was stirring my bourbon with and just scratch it ever-so-slightly, almost surgically. So I got my soldering magnifying glass out, and I’ll be damned if it’s not just a bunch of pits and lands. There’s no little liner notes, or song titles, or nothing. Those luddites might be on to something.

My next attempt was to import the file into a format that I could mess around with with sound editing software. Simple enough. I actually got to the point where I had cut out a section, almost exactly where the original cassette splice had been. I was never quite able to quite match that original tape, though ...

I finally gave up, and now I just listen to the full version. The past is past, and it’s not how I remember it. I get it. It’s always a little jarring when I get to that part of that song, though.

I guess we all have our memories of how things were. I know that even as our senses are taking things in, our predispositions, expectations, biases, etc, are framing these things into what will be remembrances, and I also know that the brain works in such a manner that over time, these memories will change, even as our insistence that they haven’t changed will remain rock solid.

"Because that’s how it happened, that’s why!"

But it’s a slow and imperceptible change, and when Bobby Caldwell doesn’t muffle and fade at the right time, after 30 years of playing it right, goddamn it, it can be like an earthquake after a long time of plate-shifting.

I don’t think I’ll use the word “pity” anymore for people who only listen to music from their past (even though “pity” isn’t really what I meant in the first place, but I still can’t think of the right word). Our past is really what we are at any point. I still think it’s a bit sad when some people seem to think that their best times were in the past, but I’m certainly not one to judge. I’ll keep handing people CDs, I guess, but with maybe a little more understanding at their reluctance to listen.

Above: Bobby Caldwell - "What You Won't Do For Love" (Live, 1992 - original song came out in 1978)

* Bobby Caldwell's first album cover had only a silhouette of him, so as not to reveal ethnicity. He is, in fact, a lily-white mullet-wearing honkie-ass, as the video above shows. Whitey can sing, though. Smooooooooov ...

** Indie is a description of production avenues, NOT a genre. Snobs.

*** I have no idea if "negative implicative" is a real phrase. The spell checker is telling me it's not. But it supposed to mean that the opposite is implied, or something. I'm really hammered right now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dickie Smothers' Brutha From Anutha Mutha

The school that the Live Acorn attends had a talent show a while back. Check this kid out, slingin' some serious yo (the action starts at 1:30 in):

Homeslice be punkin' the Duncan.*

Junior high has its ups and downs, I guess.

* My sincere apologies to the Live Acorn for any embarrassment that I've caused by trying to write like some hep-cat.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fire BAD!

I finally got the kitchen walls and ceiling painted. Twice, actually. Originally, I was going to try some marble-glaze-sponge thing on the walls, leaving the ceiling white, so I got a fairly bright yellow, thinking that the glaze mix and application technique would tone it down a bit, and the color would be good for a solid coat on the trim at the top of the cabinets. A friend of mine told me that “a kitchen should be bold” and that “[she] trusts [my] intuition.” That second statement is indicative of a severe lack of judgement, which is consistent with her apparent willingness to go out with me for a spell back in the day. In any case, I would ask that any time I mention a paint project from now on, an intervention be planned before I have a chance to put brush to wall.

It turned out I didn’t have any glaze, so I mixed some white paint with the yellow. I also couldn’t find my painting sponge, so I just cut up a rag and did a little experimenting on the walls in the office. The Live Acorn was on the computer instant messaging and watching YouTube doing homework.

Dead Acorn: Well, what do you think?

Live Acorn: (30 second pause) Do you think it’s a little bright? And are you sure you want to go with that splotchy look?

Dead Acorn: Shut up!

Well, I went into the kitchen and tried it out on a spot behind the stove, and even I saw that this was not going to end well. I begrudgingly accepted defeat and consented to go with a solid color – after all, I’m just painting a kitchen, for gawdsake. It’s not like it’s someone’s castle.

Even after mixing two parts white with one part yellow, the result was … well, let’s say … disturbing. I’m pretty sure that particular shade of yellow had not existed in nature prior to then, and my eyes are still a little sensitive from the damage. Imagine a yellow canary, wearing a smiley-face t-shirt. In a supernova.

It wasn’t but a few minutes after I’d finished that I heard a ruckus out front and the doorbell ring. I opened the door to find a rather large mob gathered on my lawn. I recognized a few faces as neighbors.

Dead Acorn: Uh, hey, Jim … what’s up?

Jim: Well, Dead Acorn, I represent the Neighborhood Association here, and we need to talk to you.

DA: I wasn’t aware that we had a Neighborhood Association.

Jim: Yeah, well, we just formed it.

DA: Oh. Are those torches and pitchforks property of the Association, or are they individually owned? They’re a bit cliché-ish, if you ask me.

Jim: Can't say I disagree, Dead Acorn, but the other option was shotguns, and I was able to talk them out of that. Let’s just hope they don’t need to be used.

DA: Uhhhhhh …

Jim: Now look, Dead Acorn, nobody had a problem when you went cuttin' through your wall. A few people thought you were crazy, and some thought it was cute that you were trying to use power tools. Mostly, we didn’t think you were dangerous, and if you want to tear your house apart, well sir, you go right ahead.

Now, though, we got us a problem. You can paint your rooms any freaky color you want, but with that hole in the wall, everyone and his dog has to look at it, and I’ll tell you, a few of the dogs that seen it have already started actin' crazy, snappin' at ghosts and whatnot.

DA: But it’s only been that color for 15 minutes!

(There was some murmuring from the crowd, which seemed to be growing more and more restless. I heard someone yell “let’s just kick his ass!”, and I swear it sounded like P77, who lives a couple of blocks away.)

Jim: Dead Acorn, I’m not gonna argue with you here. We’re going to give you the same options as we gave ole Lester back in aught-three, when he decided he didn’t need to wear clothes in his house – he could get dressed, or he could pull them curtains closed. You can either close that hole back up, or you can change that color. It don't matter. But either way, you better get on it quick-like. Wood houses like this can catch fire pretty easy, if you know what I mean.

DA: I’m picking up what you’re putting down.

Jim: You sassin’ me?

DA: No sir.

So I rode down to the hardware store, got another gallon of paint, and redid the whole thing. There was very little violence (Mildred from down the street stuck her pitchfork through the passenger door of the grey ghost), the kitchen is actually tolerable now, and the hole in the wall remains.

The Neighborhood Association, strangely enough, seems to have disbanded.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Appropriate

A dismal, drizzly, dreary, depressing day.

Yeah, that seems about right.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Maybe Not So Practical After All

My 30 year high school reunion is coming up in a few years, and I’m sensing the opportunity for a little giggle or two. What I’d like to do is show up with a girlfriend who’s about 20 years younger than me and introduce her as my daughter. We’d roll with that for the first day and most of the second, and then “accidentally” get caught sucking face and grabbing ass some time during the second evening. Yeah, it’s not going to make the list of the top ten greatest practical jokes of all time, but it might be worth a chuckle.

It won’t work, of course, for (at least) two reasons.

The first, and most obvious, is the issue of the girlfriend. The notion of having ANY girlfriend is somewhat laughable; having one 20 years my junior is downright self-delusional. Even if we suspend reality for the sake of discussion and assume that somewhere on the planet there exists a girl of the proper age lacking even the most rudimentary idiot-avoidance skills, there’s the timing problem. The median duration of my relationships is about 4 months (I use median rather than mean, as there was that statistical outlier involving the EMDAMOTLA* that really skews the data - it would be somewhat akin to saying, of a bar where 19 homeless guys and Bill Gates are drinking, that the average patron is a multi-millionaire). So not only am I faced with the impossible task of finding this epically foolish girl, but it would have to be within that 120 day window. I just don’t see that happening.

The second reason it won’t work is that even if the girl did happen to materialize at the right time and we were able to convince people that she was my daughter, they just wouldn’t think the face-sucking-ass-grabbing all that out of the ordinary.

I mean, we ARE talking Eastern Idaho …

*Ex-Mrs. Dead Acorn & Mother Of The Live Acorn

Friday, April 3, 2009

Itchin' For A Bitchin' Kitchen

This kitchen thing is getting a little out of control. At first, I was just going to cut a hole between the living room and the kitchen to open up the room a bit. During that process, some of the vinyl flooring got ripped, so I thought "well, I might as well get rid of that ugly-ass stuff and put in some tile." Then I got to thinking about how the shade of the light green walls could be described without a great deal of inaccuracy as vomitesque, and that maybe now would be a good time to tear down the wallpaper border with the grapes and flowers that the Live Acorn has been harping about for 5 years and put a fresh coat of paint on, since, you know, you always want to paint before you put a new floor in because god forbid you have to go to the trouble of putting down a drop cloth.

So now I’m starting to paint, and as timeless as the black-wall-glow-in-the-dark-stars-and-planets look is, I've decided to go for something a little lighter*. Now I’m no big city interior decorator, but I gave it some thought, and came up with an off-white undercoat, and then a sponge-applied/faux-marble light yellow on the walls, leaving the ceiling white.

Well, there I stood, beaming with pride at making such an enormous decision all by myself and envisioning a better tomorrow for not only my gastronomical pursuits but for the whole of mankind, when I realized that I’m turning my kitchen into a giant fucking beer:

I guess I’m ok with that.

* The black-wall-glow-in-the-dark-stars-and-planets option will still be on the table when I get around to painting the master bedroom.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Don't Get It

As it's a Wednesday, I strolled on over to take a look at the new XKCD comic (new ones are posted Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so you really should try to make it part of your schedule). Not surprisingly, it's a humorous mix of math and sex*:

It's a simple enough formula, so I made a rough real-life estimate of the variables and plugged it into Excel, and got this error message:



* And really, any mix of math and sex is going to be humorous, of course.