Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Ocean Doesn't Want Me Today

The little weekend getaway to Oregon ended up a success. Of course, by “success,” I mean “no one died.” That’s not to say that the effort wasn’t made.

I certainly won’t bore you with the mundane details of the trip; suffice it to say that there was beer and bourbon involved, both of which were contributing factors in the decision to walk down to the beach during a break in the storm (“a break in the storm” in this instance means “the rain was actually falling toward the ground rather than traveling horizontally”).

I’m fairly certain that Pat didn’t drink too much more than anyone else, so I’m really not sure what caused him to think he could wade to Japan, but for some reason, he started out toward the waves, which led to this scene (click to enlarge):

Above: I could have made it, if it weren't for that meddling Dead Acorn.

(Note: Due to my position as a high-security top-secret gubmint double-naught spy, I’ve chosen to obscure my face in the pictures – my head doesn’t really look like that.)

You can get a feel of how rough the ocean was in the next shot, but you should also note that Pat was still wearing his pajamas mid-afternoon (though just barely at this particular moment):

Above: We all had different ideas about what constituted appropriate attire for the conditions of the day. I obviously prefer fashion over function.

I should mention, at this point, that Pat is a professor of chemistry at The Ohio State University, which really underscores the independence of intelligence (in the academic sense) and everyday common sense. (Pat also coached the swim team for a short period, but was removed from that position after 3 athletes drowned in their first meet, despite the fact that they were wearing waterwings.)

Above: C'mon, big fella ... there's beer back at the house.

I've asked the other guys, and why, yes, we are available for rent!

Friday, October 22, 2010

And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon

I think I’ve identified a major source of the angst that fills my every waking moment:


I’ll use that term to include flatware as well, so I’ll ask any pedantic kitchen-knowledgy type of readers to let my lack of distinction between the two slide. (Oh, and by the way, if there really are any readers like that – Phil Hartman’s “The Anal-Retentive Chef” was a comedy sketch, not a real cooking show. Sorry to have to be the one to tell you.)

My current “set” of dinnerware comprises bits and pieces of no less than 15 distinct lines, gathered over decades, with such a variety of colors, shapes, and patterns, that compared to it, the U.N. General Assembly looks about as diverse as a cocktail party in the Hamptons. It includes dishes from my childhood, silverware from the Idaho State University dining hall, a silver serving spoon from a certain not-to-be-named royal family in Western Europe (if the Duchess reads this blog, I’m screwed) … it really is a trainwreck (if, you know, trains were made out of a whole bunch of different styles of dinnerware).

“How charming!” you might be thinking. “How delightfully eclectic!” Well, no. It sucks. Try to imagine the ulcer-inducing uncertainty that comes with each meal: the fear of grabbing the spoon that’s too circular and therefore not suited for Cheerio-scooping that gnaws at me in the hours before breakfast … the knowledge that the plates with raised and textured borders make eating a simple green salad nearly impossible ... I mean, sweet fluted flatware! You try meal planning under that kind of stress! Still think it’s charming? No? Not so keen on the Dead Acorn dining plan anymore?

I thought not.

But that’s the world in which I live. And it’s certainly a relief to finally recognize the underlying cause of my anxieties, and know that salvation can be had with merely a drive to Pier 1, or Cost Plus, or wherever it is that people go to buy that stuff (I’d probably have to enroll at Boise State to gain access to their cafeteria). Corelle, Oneida, Royal Daulton … it doesn’t matter to me, just as long as I finally have some consistency, some continuity, as I sup my way through this life.

Waking up to a different cereal bowl every day* can really wear on you.

* Totally not a metaphor, but if it was, it would certainly rise to my historical level of metaphoric atrociousness.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where's The Beach?

I’m heading off on a bit of a vacation this weekend, traveling over to the rainy and dreary beautiful Oregon coast to visit a few friends that I haven’t seen in quite a while. We’ve rented a house for a couple of days – just 5-6 buds surfin’ the giants, like we used to do when we ruled the beach down at Big Sur.

Ok, I think maybe Steve has surfed one time - we’ll probably just drink beer.

There was a lengthy discussion in our email exchanges as to whether we were going to bring wives/girlfriends, a topic which I was never really asked to chime in on, like they just assumed that it was a moot point with me, as I, in all likelihood, would have neither at the time of the trip. I mean, yeah, it turned out to be a pretty good assumption, but still, way to drive it home that I’m all alone in this world, assholes.

I've discovered that our destination is a bit farther down the street than I had guessed. I fired up the ole Google Maps to check the distance, and was shocked to find that I’m looking at about 560 miles (9 hours by their estimation – probably a bit optimistic for the Zuke Of Earl, but in the ballpark, I’m sure). My original plan of getting on the road at noon and arriving in the mid-afternoon may need revising.

I was more than a little flattered at their prediction of cycling time (Google Maps now does bike routes as well!). Two days flat – I mean, I ride to work every once in a while, and used to race a little back when I was but a lad, but assuming riding 12 hours a day, that comes out to … let’s see … carry the 2 … just over 23 miles an hour (37 km/h). I’m not sure that I’m up to the task, to be honest. I mean, sure, Eddy Merckx did 30.7 miles in one hour, but his bike was a little lighter than mine, and he was riding at high altitude.

Above: I AM riding from about 2500' elevation down to sea level ... maybe they're taking into account that it's mostly just coasting. (click to enlarge)

Teh Google also provides alternate routes. The time difference for the extra 33 miles in the second route is 3 hours, which seems a bit inconsistent with their initial estimate of my physical prowess, unless they’re calculating that extra distance at the end of the ride. After a 2 day full-on sprint, well, yes, I probably would lose a little oomph there at the end.

I think I’ll go ahead and drive – I don’t need to prove anything to anybody by riding. Google thinks I’m in fine shape, and that’s better than having some stupid girlfriend around making fun of my beer belly.

Monday, October 18, 2010

And A Little Rain, Never Hurt No One

Well, the little jaunt into the woods on Friday was relatively without incident. No bears, no wolves, no satyrs playing pan pipes as the moon shone through an eerie fog. I did ride the seven miles down to the Dirty Shame Saloon to watch a bit of the ballgame, a ride during which I was reminded that it’s somewhat important to eat during the day, and that nothing but a belly full of beer combined with a little physical activity can lead to lightheadedness and near-crashes.

The Dirty Shame was as charming as ever, and Jenny the Bartender was delightful (I’m afraid Nadine is history – my troth is now pledged to the beer-servin’ beauty of Crouch, Idaho). Unfortunately, her enchanting presence captivated me for an inning or two longer than I had planned to stay, and the ride back to camp in the dark on the narrow, windy, unpainted road filled with people driving home from the bar on a Friday night was somewhat nerve-wracking. (What more do I have to do to prove myself worthy of your affections, Jenny? What?)

That was pretty much it, excitement-wise. Some time later, after one of the best garlic burgers evah, a couple of succulent ears o’ corn, and an eternity staring into the glowing embers of what was left of the fire, reminiscing of loves long lost poking a stick into the fire for a bit, I stumbled into the tent to stare up at the stars. As is always the case, even a night as close to perfect as Friday was can be made better if you get the opportunity to gain a little new knowledge, and after several hours of deep sleep, I was thrilled to learn that the rain fly is likely far more effective when it isn’t shoved down by your feet in the tent when the skies open up.

Heaven, I tell you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Doing The Write Thing

According to a number of writers, it’s good practice (more of a requirement, actually) to force yourself to write every day, whether you have something to say or not. I’m not so sure that that’s a healthy approach for someone who posts stuff on a blog, stuff that is generally (at least loosely) related to happenings in their day-to-day life. Sitting and staring at the flashing orange cursor (I type this stuff on a TRS-80 with an 11” monochrome screen – sort of the digital analogue of an author who will only write on a 1943 Royal typewriter) might only serve to force into consciousness the until-now-repressed recognition that your life is pretty goddamned boring.

On the other hand, one might find one’s self typing the words “digital analogue” where one would otherwise not, so if one has a very low bar for defining "accomplishment", that’s a win.

I realized yesterday that I haven’t gone camping this summer (there may have been an early spring trip, but yeah, right, like I’m supposed to remember that far back), due to traveling on most weekends (a practice which has recently become unnecessary). Maybe a trek into the woods will result in a story or two to relate involving an ax murder or stumbling into a fire or getting into a heated argument with a bear over macroeconomic policy or some such thing.

Beats doing nothing, I guess. And anyway, I feel I owe my reader a bit of self-damaging buffoonery, and damnit, I intend to pay that debt. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Believe I'll Try Being A Vegetarian

As I’m usually one to be completely into the cultural thingy du jour, I’ve been more than a little distraught lately that I haven’t fully immersed myself into the whole vampire phenomenon. I mean, I haven’t even decided whether to go Team Edward or Team Jacob yet. And the glitter just keeps falling off … is there some sort of glue or shellac that I’m supposed to use? You can imagine the pressure I feel, knowing that people often look to me as an example of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behavior in today’s society.

The best I could come up with is to go give blood (free snacks!), which I did yesterday. (I can’t believe I wrote that whole first paragraph just to get to the point of me going to give blood.)

Down at the local Red Crescent Cross, I went through the whole screening process, after which the nurse led me to the bleeding area. It's very relaxing, with nice comfy beds set up, and small TVs playing to distract you from the fact that you’re doing something that’s entirely diametrical to your normal instincts of remaining 1) pain-free, and 2) alive.

So the nurse was setting up the barbed spikes and whatnot, and I was trying to relax, when I noticed that the TV program was addressing the topic of eating penises (penii?)!


It was some PBS show that explores exotic dishes from around the world, and that episode dealt with varying aspects of preparing and consuming penii (I’m going with that) from a number of different animals and the challenges that each poses. There were several enthusiastic diners, and a host who seemed very knowledgeable about such things as texture and cooking times and temperatures. It was a very professional production, which I'm sure required a large staff.*

The nurse picked up on the audio after a few minutes, and suggested that perhaps we change it. “It’s better than the surgery program you had on last time I was here,” I said. Still, she called out another nurse and asked if she could find something else to watch. The channel-changing nurse said something about maybe putting ESPN on, but then looked over at someone who appeared to be in a position of authority, and said “we’d better not … we got in trouble last time.”

She finally turned the station. And what was the grand compromise between watching Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers pitch a gem against Tampa Bay on the opening day of baseball's post-season and learning how to best prepare and serve Hippopotamus penis**? An Animal Planet take-off of MythBusters, during which I learned that earwigs do not really crawl into your ear and bore into your brain, where they lay eggs, before continuing across and exiting via the other ear.

Or so they claim. I trust Animal Planet about as much as I do Fox News … the duct tape stays on my ears at night.

* Like I'm NOT going to make that joke - you know I have all the maturity of a 14-year-old.
** Sautéed, served with snow peas over rice. Best with chianti.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My New Nemesis

Even a chucklehead like me isn’t so naïve as to think that the Trilateral Commission that runs the googletubez isn’t collecting all kinds of personal information based on the online activies of users. Certainly the targeted ads on the various websites I visit indicate that they know all about the goats and the fruit-juicers and the fur-lined bear traps (note to self: clear cache/delete cookies more often). But this email I received really shook me:

Above: They’re apparently able to smell cigarettes and stale beer through this blog. (Click to enlarge.)

I realize that you are a barstools connoisseur :)

That’s pretty spot on, and, to be honest, something of an understatement. “My god,” I thought. “What else does Susan realize about me? Has she the prodigious insight to peer into one’s soul after reading but a few rambling paragraphs?”

As disconcerting as those thoughts were, I was able to calm down after a bit, and I started trying to think through the situation rationally. I realize that she didn’t know everything about me; otherwise, I’d already be dead. No, she wants something from me, and it’s not just opinion/feedback on their bar stools. That’s how a less critical reader might interpret that question – as a request for my opinion about their restaurant furnishings. But someone such as myself, with vast experience reading subtle hints and come-ons into seemingly innocent statements from strange women, sees it for what it really is: an invitation to meet with her and discuss things, over drinks, while on their bar stools.

I’m not sure what I’ll do. She’s clearly dangerous – the use of both “barstools” and “bar stools” indicates some sort of psychosis – but I can’t deny that I’m intrigued. So Nadine (I’m certain that “Susan” is an alias – it’s too early in the game for that level of honesty) – if you read this, know that I’m aware that you’re out there, watching. I won’t visit your website (I can only imagine what kinds of horrors might be unleashed by clicking your link), but you … interest me, lets say.

The ball, as they say, is afoot.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Indeed It Does, Francine ... Indeed It Does.

I showed up at work WAY too early this morning … somewhere in the neighborhood of 6:00 am (this has been happening far too often as of late, due to my employer seemingly having forgotten that my boss retired 6 months ago, and that an appropriate response to that would be to find someone to replace him, as I’m still only actually being paid to do one job). Anyway, I had forgotten my key to the outer door, and my little swipe-card-magnetic-secret-door-opener thingy was in my desk, doing absolutely no good at all.

I waited around a few minutes, certain that someone a little more prepared than me would come along directly, and sure enough, Francine from Finance came strolling up the walk. I haven’t really spoken to Francine all that much, but she’s always seemed very nice – a sweet little grey-haired grandmotherly type, in her 60s, that kind of thing.
Dead Acorn: Good morning, Francine … I’m afraid it’s a little early for my brain this morning … I’ve forgotten my keys, and I’ve left my badge upstairs.

Francine (pausing for a few moments): Sucks to be you.
The smile that I halfway expected, letting me know she meant it in jest, did not come. She did let me in, eventually, but believe you me, sister, I’ll not be forgetting my key again anytime soon.