Friday, October 28, 2011

Power To The People!

It’s Fun Friday Quiz Day!

Q:  When a driver approaches an intersection at which the power to the signal lights is out, the proper behavior is to:

A)  Act as if the signal lights never existed in the first place, and continue through without regard for other vehicles.
B)  Immediately stop and become frozen with fear, knuckles white from the crushing grip on the steering wheel.
C)  Treat the intersection as though it were a four-way stop.
A fairly large area around my place of employment lost power yesterday (that I was testing a theoretical multi-phasic step-up transformer at the time is purely coincidental, I’m quite sure ...), and as I looked out my window down at the busy intersection below, I saw far more of the first two behaviors than the third.  I was quite amazed that there were no accidents.  Disappointed, of course, morbid ghoul that I am, but amazed nonetheless.

That’s not to say that I don’t get thoroughly confused when something in the societal infrastructure in which we exist goes awry.  In fact, yesterday, as I stood observing the chaos below, I exclaimed quite loudly “Jesus fucking CHRIST!  Look at these fucking DOUCHEBAGS!” before realizing that the lack of electricity did not render the 10 or so coworkers/superiors within earshot deaf to my vocalizations.

I meet with Human Resources this afternoon.

The power was off for around 10 minutes when the Director came around saying that he’d heard from Idaho Power that we could expect up to a 2-hour outage, and that people should go ahead and leave for the day.  Having no real desire to experience anything resembling the insanity of Pamplona, nor even, for that matter, Ketchum, I calmly sat at my desk, removed my big-boy shoes and put on my Chucks, secured my vodka in the locking desk drawer, and ...

... let out a heavy “fffffuuuuuu ...” as the lights came back on just as I grabbed my jacket.

The other idiots (who, just minutes before, had shared my smug sense of superiority in allowing the masses to crush each other like Who fans upon the Director’s pronouncement) and I looked at each other with sad resignation and trudged back to our desks.  Damn it.

Maybe Monday I’ll experiment with the fire alarm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Of Mice And Men And Dogs

So I was sitting around the other morning, trying to emerge from my pre-dawn fog, when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a fire-breathing Komodo dragon Rodent Of Unusual Size cute little mouse shuffling down the hallway.  He must have seen me turn my head, for he glanced over at me, then scampered away to somewhere out of view.  (I’m sure my blood-curdling scream and subsequent leap onto the dining room table had nothing to do with him being startled.)

I really don’t have any huge problems with mice, or spiders, or whatever other demonic creatures inhabit the crawlspace beneath the house … as long as they recognize the floor as an impenetrable barrier between our worlds, not to be crossed.  A DMZ of sorts, if you will, necessary for the continuance of the uneasy peace that allows for our coexistence.  I reminded the mouse of our implicit agreement re: living arrangements by shrieking like a little schoolgirl “GET OUT!  GET THE FUCK DOWNSTAIRS! I WILL END YOU!  I WILL MURDER YOU!”, which I’m sure was very convincing, being delivered from atop a table by a quivering, sobbing guy wearing Sugar Daddy jammies.

Anyway, I knew I had to set some traps to send a message and to reestablish proper order in the world.  It was either that, or get a cat, and I’m not sure that I should be allowed to choose animals with whom to cohabitate, given the unfortunate results of my last attempt.  Traps it would be.

I loaded them up with peanut butter and several varieties of cheese, as I assume mice have varying palates, and wanted to provide a little something for everyone.  I’m a good host that way.  I knew that there was a potential issue with Indy, as she also enjoys peanut butter and cheese (with the exception of Muenster … she’s an odd one).  I explained the risks of attempting to treat herself to a little snack, and set a couple of traps and sprung them with a pencil in front of her, so that she would realize their destructive force and give them wide berth in her wanderings during my absence.  It seemed to work, as she wanted nothing to do with them after the brief demonstration.

Unfortunately, the learning didn’t really seem to take, because I came home after work that day to this:

Above:  She really should probably wear a helmet.

In any case, I haven’t seen another mouse for a few days – I’m sure they’re laughing too hard at my boneheaded dog to make the climb.  Whatever works, I guess.  Good dog.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Everything's A-Croquet

I went through my first interview in a number of years yesterday.

I’m not looking for alternative employment, of course … I really can’t imagine a more satisfying position in life than my current role as Vice Assistant to the Assistant Manager of Dreary Repetitiveness in a large governmental agency.  I believe that my situation is referred to by the youngsters these days as “livin’ the dream.”

No, this was far more than attempting to justify my 30+ year string of less-than-6-months-in-duration jobs; this was an assessment of my character, of my very moral fiber.

You may or may not believe this, but this is the honest truth: I am, on occasion, able to force myself to set aside my official duties while at “work” and peruse the googlytubez, lest my feverish and frenzied zeal for my job overwhelm me to the point of collapse.  And so it was, yesterday, that I stumbled across a posting on Craigslist for … a $10 croquet set.

That’s not quite right – it was for a croquet set being sold for $10.  There were accompanying photographs, and seeing what was being offered, I thought that surely the seller must have left off a zero or two on the price.  Either that, or he was simply mad.  It was a Spalding 6-player kit, and was housed in a heavy canvas carrying case.  The wickets appeared pristine, and the original documentation was intact.  “Sweet honey mustard!” I exclaimed aloud.  “I've no time to lose!”

I immediately telephoned Carl, the seller/madman, and nervously asked if the set was still available.  “Well, sure …” he replied.   “I just posted it a minute and a half ago.”  (It’s eerie that at the one time I happened to click on Craigslist, such a gem had so recently been posted.  It’s not like I’m surfing the site every 15 minutes or anything, you know.)  I told him I’d be over directly, and dashed out to my bicycle, leaving papers fluttering to the ground in the wake of my hasty departure.

Carl was standing out front when I arrived, and I could immediately sense that his was a tortured soul.  A certain sadness seemed to surround him, and I approached him with no small trepidation:
Carl:  “You the Dead Acorn?”

Dead Acorn:  “Y-y-yes sir.  Carl.  Sir.”

Carl:  “Well, let’s get on with this, I guess.”
He led me over to a picnic table upon which the case lay, and slowly, methodically, unzipped it and revealed the treasure within.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a gasp.
Carl:  “You can see it’s in pretty good shape.  None of the balls are chipped, and the rubber mallet head caps have been well taken care of.”

DA:  “It’s … it’s … beautiful.

Carl:  “Well, we’ve had it for a while, but haven’t had much opportunity to play.  As a boy, my grandfather and I would play from dawn ‘til dusk.  I remember squealing with laughter at his faux rage when I would send his ball scattering after a lucky roquet – I was never near the striker that he was, but he let me in the game.  O, those days … that I could live those days again.”

DA:  “It sounds wonderful, Carl.  Sir.”

Carl:  “You know, I bought these to play with my grandkids – they live across the state, but we see ‘em as much as we can, and I thought they’d enjoy it.  They tried, I guess, but kids today have their music things and their phones and whatnot, and they’d never seem to stick around for too long.  It’s sad, I guess, but things change, and there ain’t no changin’ that."
He paused for a few moments, looking wistfully off at the mountains to the north.  He then told me about how he and “the missus” were heading down to Mexico for a spell, and didn’t think it right to just leave the set gathering dust in the garage.
Carl:  “So you play the game?”

DA:  “Yes sir, but not for a while.  I played a lot as a child with my brother and sisters.  I don't get to see them too much anymore.  I’ve been playing bocce ball more recently – my daughter gave me a set of those a few years ago, and we’ve had some wonderful times throwing them around the lawn.  I thought that it would be nice teach her croquet as well.”
Carl looked at me, and I looked him back right in the eye.  I knew he was making a decision, and even though I didn’t feel worthy of the set, I hoped that he would see something that would convince him that my home would be a loving one - the right one.

He stood silently for well near three minutes, then finally spoke:  “Well, okay then.  You treat ‘em how they oughta be treated.”  I nodded, and handed him a ten dollar bill.  He smiled faintly, and put his hands in his pockets.  “It ain’t about the money,” he said.  “It ain’t about the money.”

We shook hands, then he turned and walked inside.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coasting Through Life ...

Back when I was a youngster, I could stay up for 2 days straight dancing with the devil, drive for 15 hours without a break to get home, and go straight to work without thinking twice about any of it.  Well, I’m sure I could have, had auto-mobiles been invented back then, and were I able to maintain gainful employment.  The point is that I’m not the tireless young rascal that I’d like to imagine, however erroneously, that I once was.

I drove over to the Oregon coast for the weekend, which, according to the googly map, is about a 9 hour journey.  That was fine for the trip westward, as I was stopping at a friend’s house about 2/3 of the way across, and crossing a time zone and all made it a merry li’l jaunt of about 45 minutes.  I even took time, in fact, to interact with some of the wildlife for which the U.S. Northwest is so famous (I’m the one on the left with the odd sunglasses):

Above: The fur of the North American Brown Bear is remarkably similar to indoor/outdoor carpet, and their noses have an oddly plastic texture.

The locals were quite impressed by my show of courage, though they must have been somewhat concerned for my safety and called the Bear Containment Authorities, or whomever one would call in a situation of such obvious danger, for as I was pulling back on to the highway, I saw several cars with lights a-flashing race past to where I had just departed.  Silly Oregonians ... I was just fine.

The rest of the drive to the coast was mostly uneventful; the number of times I got lost was not in the double digits, and I eventually reached the mighty Pacific Ocean:

Above:  I’m not sure if that’s Japan or Korea off in the distance.  That’s Oahu in the middle.  If you look closely, you can also see, just above the QEII, the arriving bubble that carried Glenda The Good Witch.  She gave me directions to the house in which we were staying.

Back to the part about being an oldster:  I was going to stay Saturday night and make the entire return trip on Sunday, but the thought of driving 39 hours in a single day (likely with a … umm … touch of … influenza, let’s say) made me a little sick inside, so I packed up my walker and took off early that evening.  I know ... what a pansy, right?  My friends in Washington were a little surprised at my late night arrival, and by “surprised,” I mean Sherry walked out of the bedroom and asked “Why in fucking hell are you here?”  She’s a sweetie.

The next evening, after several rest-stop naps, I finally made it home, where the dog immediately bit me and The Live Acorn didn’t return my call to say hi.  I can’t wait ‘til next year - I’m sure I'll be WAY younger by then.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Year ... And Another ...

This past weekend, I stumbled, gasping and wheezing, into the “late” segment of my current decade (I can’t remember exactly which decade I’m in right now, but I’m pretty sure it’s between my teens and my nineties).  Accordingly, I realized that it is high time that I began to heed the Good Book (the bible, not The Great Gatsby, though that, too, is a pretty dang good book, and far less fictioney), and put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).  No more Hawaiian shirts, no more cheesy jokes, no more slow dancing on the front lawn, sipping mimosas as the sun rises.  That south forty ain’t gonna till itself, you know.  It’s time to get behind the mule, damnit.

Ha ha!   Just kidding.  It was another great birthday (albeit another one on which no one rented a Bobcat backhoe so that I could play in the dirt … I’m just going to take care of that myself next year).  There was much revelry which shall not be detailed here, as I understand that the courts are generally quite successful at subpoenaing weblog transcripts and discovering the super-secret and closely guarded identities of pseudonymous web-loggers.  I will say, however, that the llama is doing just fine, and that I have a whole new respect for the peoples of North Dakota.

As if this past weekend weren’t enough, there’s another one of the three-day variety coming up.  I’m not really sure that Columbus Day is an occasion that should be celebrated, and, in fact, the public schools here are in session that day.  But hey, if the gubmint wants to pay me to stay away, I will not complain.  On the contrary, I will celebrate the day in the traditional fashion, by walking into a stranger’s house and announcing that I live there now, and introducing several new diseases to them.  As recompense, I will allow them to stay in a well-delineated section of the back yard.

In actuality, I’ll be heading westward to the coast of Oregon to save Pat from drowning again meet up with some friends who have long been scattered about the country.  We'll be staying in a house that has been rented legally, we will not be displacing any indigenous civilizations, and as far as I know, I don’t have any communicable diseases.

The Dead Acorn … classy-ing up America since 2008.