Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year In Review

The googletoobz are bursting with "Best Of" lists, and I'm certainly not one to break from the herd. And so ...

The Dead Acorn's List of Stuff For 2009

Drinking Fountains

2) Expo Idaho (Western Idaho State Fair), South end. A strong stream, tooth-numbingly cold.

1) Albertsons (17th and State). Simply one of the best drinking fountains I’ve ever encountered. Its output trajectory is substantial, but not overpowering. The primary:secondary stream ratio is unmatched in the valley. One may have issues with Albertsons as a grocery store, but when it comes to drinking fountains, their flagship location is second to none.


2) Beer (in the shower; multiple occasions). Hot water on the outside, cold beer on the inside. Good stuff.

1) Mimosas (front lawn, late summer). Champagne and holding hands for breakfast. Sublime.

Relationship Fuckups

2) Tiger Woods. Wow. That guy doesn’t do anything half-assed.

1) Me. Colossal. Tiger could have avoided all of the media attention by saying “you think I fucked up? You should talk to The Dead Acorn.”


2) 5-year, purchased through Capital One Banking. Averaged over 3% interest in 2009; a solid investment and a relatively safe haven in these tumultuous economic times.

1) Townes (Steve Earle). Dang good ... some of his best work.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

With Friends Like These ...

I traveled to Salt Lake City over the Christmas weekend to visit family and some friends I haven’t seen in a long time. One of my friends recently became engaged, and I hadn’t met his fiancé yet, so we all went out to dinner. An actual snippet of the conversation:

Dead Acorn: Wow, New Fiancé, it’s very nice to meet you! Friend To Whom You Are Engaged is certainly dating up!

New Fiancé: Well, thank you! It’s nice to meet you too … I’ve sure heard a lot about you.

Other Friend 1: Doesn’t he look like that homeless guy
that hangs out on State and 400 North?

NF: Oh yeah … that guy’s hair isn’t as messy as The Dead Acorn’s, though.

Other Friend 2: The homeless guy dresses better than him, too.

DA: WTF? Shut up! You went out with me for 2 years!

Other Friend 2: Didn't you think it odd that all the gifts I bought you were clothes, and that I would dress you before we went out?

All except DA: (derisive laughter)

How I've avoided therapy thus far, I do not know.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Campy Little Post

I remember very little from Grout Camp.

I guess I should qualify that … I remember very little about grouting from Grout Camp. I don’t think it was the fault of the counselors or the camp’s methods/teaching philosophy; on the contrary, several of my campmates flourished in that environment and have gone on to be quite successful in the tiling world (Georgie Hammacher, for example, revolutionized the industry with his development of a 2-part polymer glaze with a substantially longer cure time than had previously existed, allowing rooms of up to 300 sq. feet to be completed with a single mixing. As I recall, Georgie excelled in all of the camp competitions, and eventually won the coveted title of “Sir Amic.” Yeah, cheesy, I know, but hell, it was Grout Camp. We were 12, ok?).

No, I think the cause of my lack of tilic knowledge retention was twofold: First, even at that tender age, I had already developed the foundations of what has since become a paranoia-driven second-guessing of the motives of others. I mean, who sends their kid to Grout Camp? Parents who are privy to the results of those IQ tests they give in 6th grade, and who are anxious to have their child gain blue-collar, physical-labor skills, knowing that any career path requiring mental capacities beyond those of a house plant* was not to be ventured down by THAT low-functioning idiot-sans-savant, that’s who. I may have been a little preoccupied with that during the sessions. As it turns out, they were just a little late in getting the Summer Activities calendar, and all of the other camps were full. So yes, my suspicions proved wrong, as they always do, but still, this is indicative of less-than-fully-dedicated parenting, and I blame them for the aforementioned paranoia-driven second-guessing that has strained and eventually shattered every relationship in which I’ve been involved.

The second reason is the early development of Dixie Deetmeyer. I mean, those things were massive (from the perspective of a 12-year-old), and Dixie, also blessed with an underdeveloped sense of modesty, would occasionally display her … developments, let’s say … behind the boathouse. I don’t know exactly what the memory capacity of the human brain is at that age, but I’m pretty sure that The Dixies took up most of it, leaving little room for considerations of the effect of relative humidity on the lifespan of tinted Portland cement. (In retrospect, it makes sense that Georgie Hammacher seemed immune to Dixie’s distractions. He was one of the biggest donors to the “No On Prop Hate” campaign in California last year, and Georgie, if you’re reading this, I’ll be down there knocking on doors when there’s another opportunity to end the inequality. Fuck the haters.)

Anyway, I relate all of this because I attempted some grouting last night for the first time since those glorious days at Camp Mix-A-Morta. Some things did come flooding back to me … for example, I remembered the hard’n’fast rule that groutin’ music has to be twangy, and with the help of Dwight Yoakam, I seemed to get quite a bit done without screwing it up too much. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped, though, as trying to track down Dixie Deetmeyer on the googlewebs turned out to be way more time consuming than I would have thought.

* This is not to say that professions that require physical labor are less mentally demanding than those that don't; it's just that my parents thought me dumber'n a fence post, and it was a long time ago, when such misperceptions were more common.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You And Me Both, Admiral Stockdale ...

Here we are, winding down another year, making that tough decision about which calendar theme to select for the cubicle wall in 2010 (mine’s been on August 2007 for over 2 years … it’s a nice picture of the Sawtooths), and, for some, taking the time to assess our place in the universe.

Though it strikes me as a somewhat arbitrary time to step back and think about what you’ve done, mister!, if asked to select a good time to check one’s bearings, make course corrections, set new goals, etc., I guess the dead of winter would be as appropriate as any. Other than being crushed under the pressure of the holidays, what else have you got going on? Huh? Nothing, that’s what.

And so I find myself pondering the meaning of all existence and my place in it, along with why my metric spanner set didn’t come with a 12 mm wrench (that’s bugged me for a number of years – yeah, the ½” SAE wrench works okay, but that is NOT THE POINT, DAMNIT!).

I’ve come to the conclusion that my main role in this life is to feed the hell-hound who’s been crashing at my house for the last 4 or 5 years (but who is maddeningly difficult to find when the mortgage payment is due). What should be a crazy-ass, hell-bent, hey-let’s-light-that-candle-in-the-middle-too bachelor lifestyle is instead consumed by ensuring that the dog’s weight doesn’t dip below a level indicating malnourishment (while the veterinarian seems to think that she should trim down to about 60 lbs, we’ve largely* ignored his advice and seemed to have settled on somewhere around 350 lbs as her “ideal” tonnage).

“Wait just a gol-darned minute,” I sense my readers thinking. “Bachelor? Dead Acorn, you’re 45 years old, you’re divorced, and, in all honesty, you’re something of a schlub. I don’t think ‘bachelor’ is really the descriptor to use here.” A fair enough point, to be sure, but let’s just take a look at the definitions we find on the gizoogletubes:

bach•elor (bach′ə lər, bach′lər)
1. a man who has not married

Ok, advantage reader. But let’s search on:

3a: an unmarried man
2: a person who has received what is usually the lowest degree conferred by a 4-year college, university, or professional school ;

Hmm … a bit vague concerning the meaning of “unmarried.” Does unmarried mean “having never married,” or simply "currently not married?” Tough call. We’ll give a ½ point to me, and throw in another ½ point for having “earned” a BS degree at the highly esteemed Idaho State University (while this has nothing directly to do with being married or not, there are certain aspects of the ISU lifestyle that are conducive to not being married. The ½ point stays).

All tied up … hmm, I wonder if there are any other definitions?

3b : a male animal without a mate during breeding time (as a fur seal).

Woah, Nellie! Game, set, and match! This is, admittedly, something of a bittersweet victory ... I was a little surprised that they didn’t have my picture next to that one. Dang.

I am SO giving up self-reflection for the New Year.

* Ha ha!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Tis The Season For Something, Alright ...

I had made a commitment to myself to not be so grumpy this holiday season. I’m not sure why I get my panties all in a bunch this time of year in the first place – I’m not religious, but it certainly doesn’t bother me that the Christians usurped the pagan celebration of the sun god Mithra throw a birthday bash on some arbitrary day, nor do I really care that the Jews had some hash oil that was so strong they stayed high for eight days (or something ... my knowledge of theology may be a bit lacking … it might have been me that was wasted for eight days).

Whatever the reasons, I know two things:

1) Part of it has to do with traffic, and
2) I’m not going to meet that commitment this year.

I was working on a little something out in the garage last night (not a euphemism), and my band saw blade broke. This happened, of course, while I had all kinds of guides and jigs set up to make certain cuts, which I had to remove to get the broken blade out, and which I’ll never get set up the same way again, so I’ll basically have to start over. Since, years ago, I made the decision to buy a band saw from Harbor Freight, meaning that it takes some freak-sized blade that only they sell, I had to drive out Fairview avenue in the middle of the afternoon.

The Fairview avenue that has stoplights approximately a mile apart. The Fairview avenue that’s bumper-to-bumper traffic, each driver cheerfully exuding that “piss-on-you-jack-I-got-mine” holiday attitude in between text messages. The Fairview avenue on to which I needed to turn left. THAT Fairview avenue.

The process of turning right, switching lanes, getting into the middle turn lane, pulling into a parking lot, and pulling back out to complete my virtual left turn took approximately 4 ½ days. Hence the failed commitment. I will be grumpy, my heart will not grow three sizes this or any other day, and I will not have the strength of ten Grinches plus two.

Ultimately, of course, I blame the person on whose gift I was working. Oh, I’ll finish it, and give it to them, but I just hope they know that my dog got an extra Kwanzmasakkuhstice beat-down because of them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Juuuuust A Bit Outside ...

I was asked last night how many days there were until pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. To my great and everlasting embarrassment, I did not know. Thanks to the all-powerful gizooglewebs, however, the information crisis has passed, and we now know that the answer is 72. Cleveland plays their first spring training game on March 5th, so there are only 87 days until the real action starts (by “real action,” of course, I mean Jake Westbrook re-injuring his arm).

Perhaps an even greater baseball-related embarrassment is that while I can’t even buy a date in this town, Bob Uecker has a stalker with a restraining order against her! This guy is a lifetime .200 hitter whose approach to catching a knuckleball was to wait until it stopped moving, then to walk over and pick it up. I know, I know … that’s just the ugly voice of jealousy blogging. The really weird thing, though, is that apparently the woman wasn’t even aware of his major league career until recently – according to the court order, she became obsessed with him over his Emmy-winning role on Mr. Belvedere. I can’t act, I can’t hit the curveball … no wonder he’s got all the crazy hotties wrapped up.

The winter meetings are on, and though no blockbuster transactions have yet been announced (I’m sure the Indians will acquire some minor league utility infielder for 25 lbs. of catfish and a bag of fungo balls), it’s good to have news of baseball to warm my heart during these frigid months.

You know, since Uecker has all the girls.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Leaf Britney Me Alone!

Well, this morning marked the last day of leaf pickup in our glorious City Of Trees (Boise, Idaho, USA, for my sub-Saharan readers). This is a program in which the city will pick up leaves in biodegradable bags (they’ll pick up the bags that you buy and fill … they won’t actually come out and pick up the leaves, though how cool would THAT be? If we didn’t have these damn anti-tax zealots bitching and moaning all the time, I'll bet we could fund that …) during a brief (two weeks or so) window.

Not being the procrastinating type, I began the bagging process last night, rather than put it off until today. I was very self-congratulatory re: my gung-ho-iness, and looked forward to laughing at all the poor saps (sap? Get it? It’s tree-related humor!) out there scrambling at 5:30 am, begging the drivers to wait just another minute as they finished that last pile. I apparently chose a poor route by which to get to work, for alas, I saw no such sight. Dang.

Last year, it took about 20 bags to clear the yard, so I did a quick year-over-year analysis to predict the number of bags I’d need this year:

(# of Trees This Year/# of Trees Last Year) * # of Bags Used Last Year =
Expected # of Bags Required This Year

which resulted in a value of 20.*

I began to question my calculations when I was filling bag number 15, with 2 ½ piles bagged and 4 to go. “Dead Acorn, you idiot!”, you might be thinking. “Trees GROW over time (dead acorns notwithstanding), and will therefore produce more leaves!” I did, in fact, take this into account, but also recognized that I had pruned some of the lower branches last spring, theoretically negating the growth factor. So shut up, Mr. Smarty-Tree.

By the end of the night, I had made 3 additional trips to the store to get more bags, and wound up with 35 curbside and a pile and a half still left in the yard. I can’t think of anything to explain the disparity in leafosity between this and yesteryear, except that the guy across the street, the lazy-ass with the riding mower/leaf raker for a yard smaller than mine, did his leaves suspiciously early this year, and I never saw any bags.

That sunovabitch is going DOWN.

* This is why math is important, kids … stay in school!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Expanding The Lexicon

[UPDATE:] I have one more blog* to add to my blogroll (see below for initial additions) ... I was going to save it for its own special post, as it's deserving of such treatment, but go check out Tall Tales: The Perspective Of A Dragon. These are writers teaching the writers of tomorrow.

Just some odds 'n' ends today:

So I was riding to work this morning, testing out the new lights on my bike (when I tell myself the future will be brighter, goddamn it, I go out and do something to make it happen!), and as I’m riding under the bridges around Main St., I hear some rustling off to the right. I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a huge bull moose standing just on the other side of the handrail! I feel okay saying that, as I’m already damned, but in all honesty, it was just a small deer. Still, it was kinda cool … at first, it looked like she was going to bolt, but then she caught a glimpse of my new lights, and froze like a … like a … wow, I am REALLY bad at analogies.

I believe I’ve coined a new term:

Trifailia (n): The simultaneous breakage of body, mind, and heart.
“I’ve been betting pretty hard lately, and I finally hit the trifailia.”

You throw in a car breaking down and a dog dying, and you’ve hit the Quinoucha.

I’m finally updating my blogroll, over on the right side of the page (no, I don’t feel silly at all referring to my “blogroll” at my advanced age, thankyewverymuch). New additions are:

  • The Bloggess – this woman is nuts. I would be scared to have a beer with her (in Teh Funny).

  • Treasured Valley – a Treasure Valley, Idaho-based website that features daily collections of links about local news, politics, food and drink, and blogs, information about local goings-on, and has increasingly been featuring well-written original content. It’s indispensable to any valleyphile, and will become even more so (yeah, I know, if it's already indispensable, it can't become more so ... shut up ...) (in Local).

  • Bike Snob NYC – wry and well-written insights and observations on the world of cycling, though it’s sort of only about cycling the way The Sandlot is only about baseball (in Teh Funny).

  • Texts From Last Night – just damn funny (in Teh Funny).

  • And sadly, we say goodbye to Cautious Optimism … it’s been defunct for a while now, so I guess it’s time to take the link down. Hopefully, she’s grown less cautious, not less optimistic.

* I have more than one, but don't have the link here. Guitar Man will be here soon.