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Latest Humorous T-shirt Slogan:
"You Wish!"
This one has to be taken in context to be appreciated. The girl wearing this belly shirt was maybe 5'0" tall, with a muffin top going on, despite the fact that she was clearly in her third trimester of pregnancy. In addition she was wearing a thong that came up past her low-rise jeans and pushed her muffin top down over the edge to really emphasize the roll. I'm not in perfect shape so I don't expect that others should be, but when you are wearing that shirt, along with the rest of the outfit, you open yourself to scrutiny (and perhaps random looks of horror).

It's fun to hate:
The Soccer Moms who insist that they drive gas-guzzling SUV's for the safety of their children despite the fact that they are 6 times more likely to be in a rollover accident than any other vehicle. It's like beating your child unconscious with the butt of your gun so that he will remain on the floor, thus making him less likely to be hit by a random bullet coming through the front window.

When Shadowtwin reigns supreme:
There will be mandatory, passive birth control required to participate in any form of government assistance. If you can't afford to raise your child on your own we are here to help you, but we must first make sure that your reproductive organs are adequately contained. If you don't like that policy all you have to do is support your kids your damn self!
Vote Shadowtwin!

Wildly inaccurate, yet shockingly precise, predictions based completely on happenstance and arbitrary universal fluctuations.
Your Horoscope:

Sagitarius: 11/22-12/21
A typographical error in your Church's newsletter will lead to you performing sex acts on dozens of anonymous strangers in your pursuit of "oral highground."

Capricorn: 12/22-1/19
The stars did recently tell your wife to "listen to her heart" regarding whether or not she should leave you. The stars did not intend for you to listen to her heart. But once you used that bonesaw on her sternum (not trusting the stethoscope which just responded with a cryptic thumping sound), we're pretty sure she made up her mind anyway.

Aquarius: 1/20-2/18
The stars would like to apologize for stating in their last prophecy, "Be wary of the stranger you meet at beach this weekend. The stars aren't sure why, but they don't trust him." Through a cosmic hiccup, that information was supposed to be released this month. The August prophecy should have read, "A dark and handsome stranger will approach you on the beach, profess his love for you, and sweep you away for a jetset marriage. After which you will lead a long, happy, prosperous, healthy life as the Queen of a small island nation." We apologize for any inconvenience this error may have caused.

Pisces: 2/19-3/20
Your new stopwatch will allow you to time how long you can hold your breath underwater down to the thousandth of a second. Unfortunately, poor planning will mean that you are not able to actually share the information with anyone.

Aries: 3/21-4/19
Your innovative new device for beauticians to use while giving pedicures can be wildly successful and make you quite wealthy IF you change the name. Trust us, no one is going to buy a "Ped-O-File".

Taurus: 4/20-5/20
Your Mother always told you to wear clean underwear just in case there was an accident and paramadics had to see them. But as you board that plane today, the stars want you to know that you needn't worry about it. The debris field will be more than 8 square miles, making it impossible to find most human remains. Not to mention that the ensuing fire burned so hot that it disintegrated not only all fabric, but most of the thin metals aboard as well.

Gemini: 5/21-6/21
You just had to get that genital piercing, didn't you? The stars tried to warn you not to, but you went ahead and did it anyway... Now all your worst fears will come to bear when, at a campground this weekend, you run afoul of this guy:

Cancer: 6/22-7/22
The less traveled by areas of the Grand Canyon's north rim offer some of the most breathtaking views of this natural wonder. You will soon find out they also include some of the worst footings and none of the handrails. They do, however, provide equally awe-inspiring, terminal velocity impacts.

Leo: 7/23-8/22
The stars heard your pleas, begging for someone who you could share your love with and embrace for the rest of your life. If you are still single, throw your arms around the closest person to you at 3:44pm GMT on Dcember 9th -That'll be the one. Trust us, you won't have time to be picky...

Virgo: 8/23-9/22
The stars have piled up most of your things on the front porch. You can stay at a friend's house, but you aren't coming back home until you admit what you did and apologize. The stars' Mother was right about you... (you must have really pissed them off; the stars were in tears while they told me this)

Libra: 9/23-10/22
The stars have been doing a little thinking and a lot of math. The population of planet earth is roughly 6,796,590,704. That means that roughly 566,382,558 people share each astrological sign. About 18,620,796 have the same birthday. Based on average life expectancy as many as 248,277 people were born on the same day, in the same year, for every zodiac sign. How can one statement possibly predict the future of all of them? Ehh, fuck it. "A full moon while Venus is rising is an omen of good things to come."

Scorpio: 10/23-11/21
They say you never know how you are going to react to a crisis. After a home invasion this weekend you will: You will scream, "Do whatever you want to my wife, but leave me alone!" You will then create a distraction by throwing your newborn at the assailant as you dive through the window to safety. Now you know.

Music lost to history:

Aerosmith - Dream On When I started doing these, I could never have imagined that I would be putting an Aerosmith song here. Since I was born in 1974, this song is well before my generation. It was recorded in 1972 and released in 1983 on Aerosmith's Self-Titled Album, but to read the information on it at Wikipedia most of us would become familiar with it from a re-release in 1976.

Like most of the music being released in the late 60's/early 70's that was pushing the rock-n-roll envelope, Dream On relies heavily on solid composition and and melody. Before the era of the modern effects processor, these bands had no distortion to hide behind (or very little), and synthesized instruments hadn't yet made their way into music. In that way the music always sounds more raw to us today because, quite simply, it was. While it seems laughable to think about today, music like this was so far removed from the bubble-gum pop of the 50's that it still wasn't accepted into the mainstream. As the baby-boomers became the target demographic, the rock-n-roll movement really started to pick up speed, with bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith clearing the path for the much darker and heavier bands like Black Sabbath.

While I (and most of my generation) are probably far more familiar with the Aerosmith of the late 80's and early 90's, the reason this song makes it onto my MLtH page comes down to one thing: Age. Not necessarily the age of the song; In fact, as I sat down to do the research for this today, I had no idea when it was released, but would have guessed (closely) the mid 70's. Tyler was born March 26, 1948, meaning that this song was written when he was only 24 years old. I'm not sure why, but I have always thought this song was pretty amazing given his age at composition. I suppose it is human nature to wax poetic about the days of yore and the imminent passage of time, but the melody sets a mood that makes you feel it right along with him. As the song nears the end and his lyrics become more more frenzied, you can almost feel the pain (longing?) in his voice. Listen to it with headphones and no distraction sometime, you'll see what I mean.

I wrote a short bit some time ago about Kelly Sweet's cover of this song (see the video on Youtube). While I have since gotten over the initial hatred I felt towards the cover of the song, I still just can't like it. The words are there; she hits the notes; but I just can't hear it in her voice. As if there is somthing very personal about the song and Tyler's deliverance of the lyrics that just can't be duplicated. At least to me.

That said, I have heard Aerosmith doing the song with an orchestra, and it also seems to lack the passion of the original. So perhaps the thing that I like so much about it is the under-produced, raw sound of it, or it may be that I am still hearing it through the ears of that impressionable youth that heard if for the first time in a dusty old Van with my Uncle Art. Either way, it seems it is Lost to History.

Music Lost to History Archive

I Can't Believe it's Not Porn!
WhorePresents.comYep, it's not porn. It's not a site with gifts for sale either, which is probably a good thing since I can't imagine that any woman would be at all flattered to get a gift -no matter how nice- in a box that says "Whore" on it.

Daily Reading:
Magazine Man
Shane Nickerson
Wil Wheaton
Hoyazo's Poker Blog

My reading list changes from time to time, and there are many sites that I visit that are not on the list. They are listed in the order that I visit them, enjoy!

Locations of visitors to this page

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Monday, August 29, 2005

In defense of my dad

It has come to my attention that every post I make about my childhood makes my father seem like some sort of evil villain whose only goal is to beat women and children. That is certainly not true. Therefore, I will type a bit in defense of the man that I have so demonized with the majority of my posts.

Scanning my mind for memories, the first one that pops up is not necessarily good, but keep in mind that I am trying to think of memories, not hearing a sound, sensing a smell, or otherwise having a memory triggered. Dad thought that it was pretty damn funny to show his friends how us kids could smoke, even when we were only four or five years old. Thing is he really didn't want us to learn how to smoke, more like we were puppies that he was teaching new tricks to. By the time he actually caught me smoking for the first time, I think I was 12, he was terribly angry about it (which was good). Not necessarily the way to raise a smoke free child though.

Again, that was a bad example. Moving on.

I liked to play with matches as a child. I don't really know why. It was sort of like a little package that provided 20 fourth or July's. Since matches cost (even today) way less than a dollar for fifty books, it was never noticed when I snuck them out to play with them. Most of the time I would just go outside while mom was busy and just light them to watch them burn. Sometimes I would light little pieces of dry grass (while holding that in my hand also) just to watch the shape it took as it went from the yellowish to charcoal. I really can't explain what it was about fire that so captivated me because I really don't know. It could have been a power over the elements thing but, honestly, at six years old I don't think my mind was yet at that level.

One day I happened into the back yard with a book of matches, which I had stolen out of the kitchen drawer while mom was washing the dishes next to it. I fired a few of those suckers up just to watch them burn. I must note that I didn't really ever move from the spot I was firing off the matches during this entire time. When the book had only a few matches left in it, I figured it was about time to see how much bigger the flame would be with more than one match. The problem was that since I was only five or six at the time, I mistakenly believed that only the matches were flammable, not the cover itself. As I lit the remaining matches, then watched the huge flame burn down closer and closer to my hand, I was pretty confident that it would just go out...Any second now...It never did.

The second that the flame became too hot for me to hold onto is when I dropped the matchbook. It is also one of the most vivid photos in my head. I wish I were an artist so that I could recreate the exact moment when that matchbook touched the ground. There were no 'embers', there was no 'smoldering', that matchbook hit the ground and there was instant fire. It was pretty small at first; probably only a couple of square feet, which I thought I could put out alone. Boy was I ever wrong...

I was playing with the matches next to an old, broken down stationwagon when the fire started. The nearest liquid, of any sort, was in a little yellow pail next to the broken down car. To this day I am not entirely sure what that liquid was, and there was very little of it in that little yellow bucket. I think it must have been gasoline or some other accelerant though, since the second I dumped it on the fire it went from bad to holy fuck (yes I was only five or six, yes I actually did say 'Holy Fuck'). Now the whole back yard was on fire. There was no way I was taking on flames taller than me, mostly since I didn't have anything that resembled water anywhere nearby. I ran like hell back to the house. I was screaming "Fire!" with every step.

Mom called the fire department the very second she heard my screams, while the neighbors had taken hoses from their own homes to start battling it. It was put out before the fire department got there, yet they still had to investigate, I guess they were looking for signs of arson. In my little mind I was thinking that the fire was out so I was in the clear. Turns out those fire station guys are pretty good at finding the source of the fire. They found the matchbook, as well as the little yellow bucket, and were able to pinpoint the exact spot that the fire started, of course they didn't have any DNA evidence so they had to let me go. Truth is that the fire department knew that I was the one who started it, even though mom said that I hadn't been out of her sight long enough to do it. Anyone with a brain (except possibly a five or six year old) knew that that story was absolute bullshit.

Mom knew that I did, she had to have known. Yet I had to wait until dad got home to see what my punishment would be. Sometimes, when you are a child, the waiting for punishment, while knowing what you did wrong, is far worse than any punishment that the parents can give you. I am pretty sure that Dad knew that I did it the very second he walked in the door. The first time he asked me if I did it, I am pretty sure that I phrased my answer with a question mark, "no?". When he asked me again I knew that the game was up, if there ever was a game. I told him that I did it. He asked me how I felt, I told him that I felt bad and scared. When he asked me why I lied to him the first time I had to tell him the truth, "I was scared."

I don't remember my punishment for that offense. What I do remember is that it did not involve his belt. Also, Dad said that it "pissed him off more to be lied to" than to "hear the truth, no matter how bad it is, the first time he asked the question". That is one lesson that I know I have taken to heart. You can call me anything you want, except a Liar. I will take offense to that. My word has been absolute truth since that point, except for the occasional white lie to keep from injuring others feelings.

Keeping that in mind, I took dad's girlfriend's car for a joy ride one night (I was probably 13 at the time). My brother Dan was still living with us at the time, and was also in the car. I was probably drunk (I had had a couple of beers, but was only 13 or so, so yeah, drunk), and on top of that I actually took a hit off of a joint that one of Dan's friends happened to have. Then we went out joy riding. Dan was pretty capable of keeping it on the road (the road being all gravel in rural Oregon), and he did a few fishtails just to show off. Once we reached the end of the road, that being the cul de sac less than a mile away, I told him I wanted to drive it back. Big mistake.

I had more drugs in me than Keith Richards (as an infant) but thought I was good to drive, even though I wasn't licensed to drive in the first damn place. It went pretty well for the first half of a mile, then I decided to do some fishtails on the loose, gravel road. That was when all hell broke loose.

I did a couple of fishtails, just enough to throw around the gravel, then, as if some outside force were acting on the car (inertia possibly?) the whipping motion grew larger and larger. I often like to fault my brother Dan for not pulling the emergency brake, but, seriously, this car was a front wheel drive, no amount of pulling the emergency brake was going to stop the car. When I went to hit the brake pedal, my foot slipped off of it and fell directly on the gas pedal. It powered the car into the inevitable spin that I already had it in, this lead to landing the car in a ditch of sorts. If you can call a ditch a twenty foot vertical drop that is only stopped by a very small tree fifteen feet down.

When we touched down, as it were, I assessed the situation and figured that I was probably "pretty fucked". I ran back home with my brother and told him that he should go immediately to bed so that I alone could take the punishment for this one. Dan did go to bed. I left a note on Dad's door that said I was sleeping on the couch and really needed to talk to him. But, dad was wise to us, he knew that if I was gonna take the fall for whatever happened that it must be Dan that initiated it. He woke up Dan first, just to see what happened. Dan must not have said a word to him about it since Dad woke me up next, with no idea why I left the note on his door.

Remembering that Dad really hated to be lied to, I never lied. Well, with the possible exception of not mentioning Dan's name during questioning. I did this, it is my fault and I will take the wrath. I told Dad that I had dumped his girlfriend's car into a ditch. Dad seemed a little too happy at that revelation, I expected a beating or something. Still, I had to go show him where I "dumped the car into the ditch".

It took two travels (two each way) up and down that road before I finally spotted the car. Here I must note that he was pretty pissed that I told him that I put the car into a ditch, yet it took driving by that ditch four times to find it (some ditches are deeper than others, right?). We ended up busting out a couple of tractors to pull the thing out of the ditch (Dad called it a ravine).

No harm, no foul, right?

There was a lot of harm though. The little Toyota Celica was never going to look the same again. I caved in the driver door (when the car hit the tree in that little ditch) but the rest of the damage was so not me. The car hit on the driver's side (which was when I told dan to run and let me take the punishment) the trees never touched the front or back of the car. Somehow the front end of the little car was also pretty mangled.

It turns out that my dad had wrecked the same car only a few days before, but failed to mention that to his girlfriend. My wrecking of the car gave him the perfect scapegoat (thanks dad). He laid all of the the blame off on me, my punishment was to drag scrap from the forest (5 acres of which we lived on) back to the burn piles, every day, for a year. (thanks dad). But there was no beating with a belt.

I must note that I only know the truth about the celica since I overheard him talking to a friend about it. Which probably pisses me off even more. He should have thanked me for wrecking that car so that he didn't have to fess up to it. Instead, I got year round forest patrol, but no beating with a belt.

I started this post to defend my father, it has gone horribly the other direction. I really have to call it an end.

Dad was a good guy. I learned a lot of lessons from him. Perhaps, in time, I will have visual or physical triggers that bring him back to mind. As of now I really don't have anything.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Random childhood musings, again

Growing up isn't exactly easy, it's not meant to be, it is something that you have to do to, well, grow up. Every time that I think I may have had it bad as a child, all I have to do is look at some underdeveloped countries to see kids who have it far worse. At the same time I can look to other people, say George W. Bush for example, who have had it so easy that my story seems like that of a child from an underdeveloped country. That is neither here nor there, simply an observation. I do have a lot of memories from my youth, some good, some bad, and another one leapt into mind today.

Moving from school to school as a child is a very difficult thing. In all honesty the reason that I moved back to live with my dad in the 8th grade was so that I would be able to start making friends that I would have an alliance with for the remainder of middle school, who would then go to the same high school. That was a comforting thought.

I must say that the musical chairs game of schools started even before my parents got divorced. There were at least four grade schools in the town I grew up in, a fact I know because I attended four different grade schools there; Riverside, Fir Grove, Eastwood and Rose. My first year of school was at Riverside, where I got my first student of the month honor, which happened to be my very first month in any kind of school (there was no kindergarten for us kids, we could read and write better than most classmates by the first grade though, thanks to Mom's at home teachings). Of course, in my tiny little mind I thought that the teacher really had a thing for me, yet, in retrospect, I don't think Mrs. Crane was really into that six-year-old action.

Riverside was closed after my first year there. I don't know exactly why. I know that the talk I heard at the time was that it was too close to a busy street (Garden Valley Boulevard), which it was, but had always been, the other topic was how close it was to the South Umpqua river, which was a hell of a trek from the school, at least a mile. In hindsight I think the more likely reason is that there simply wasn't enough money in the school district to keep all of the schools open and Riverside simply didn't have the number of affluent parents that the other schools did. Net result; Riverside closed and the students were relocated to the three other schools based on where they lived (well four different schools, since some of the kids ended up going to a school called Sunny Slope, which was a couple of miles out of town).

As I sit here now, looking through an old school years book that Mom recently gave me, I note that the friends that I list in the second grade do not include any from the first. The likely reason for this is that they were transferred to the other schools and I had to start fresh. Another oddity for the second grade was that I had torn through the second grade math (you know addition and subtraction) and was well into the third grade math (multiplication), finishing each of the tests with, at lowest a 94%, yet the teacher took time to note that I needed to work on my penmanship on math tests. You see, these tests were timed, first you had to do it in 6 minutes, then 5, then 4, etc. Of course it is going to be a bit sloppy as your seven year old hands try to scribble out calculations that your brain makes in fractions of a second. Jeez.

(To this day I have horrible penmanship. If I try to write anything in cursive it is illegible, and my block print isn't far behind. Such a plus that paper is on its way out...)

Third grade brought about two very distinct things. 1) I was accepted into the Able and Gifted program. 2) My parents separated (I don't know when they actually got the divorce, so bear with me). At first I excelled in the gifted program but, once my parents separated it got more and more difficult. One of the challenges that we had, the one that I can still remember like it was yesterday, was a very simple task: Move a brick further than anyone else using nothing but a mousetrap. The mousetrap and brick were supplied, if you wanted any other materials it was up to you to get them. I lost horribly, though I did learn to read the fine print. See, it said that if you created any sort of apparatus to meet the goal, the length of travel would be measured once the brick left that apparatus. I still think I got screwed since the kid that won put the brick on a skateboard that went down a ramp (exactly like the one I created: two boards nailed together at a right angle stood up and held in place by a dowel that the mousetrap ripped out of place, thus making a hill to go down.) I didn't have a lot of material to work with so I just covered my ramp with glossy pictures from magazines, did the same to the brick, and it went off the end by a few inches. The kid that won went many, many feet, but he was still on his apparatus when he won...Evidently the skateboard didn't count as an apparatus (of course if I wanted him to be faulted by the skateboard I would have had to be faulted for the glossy paper. What can I say, I am a sore loser).


Fourth grade happened. At least I think it did. It must have since I did get to fifth grade. Thing is I started this grade out at Eastwood (that is three different grade schools in four years if you are keeping track at home), but got a note to go to the office one day and then wound up at a grade school in Benson, AZ a couple of days later. (totally as an aside, I had leant this cool sharpie that wrote in silver to a girl named Melissa at Eastwood and never got it back before we moved out of town. If you are reading this, Melissa, can I have my cool sharpie back? Thanks.) My teacher in Benson was Mr. Davis, he had a lot of medical problems and spent the majority of his time rolling cigarettes while he let us figure shit out on our own (that is no joke). Thankfully I was whisked away to a new teacher, in a new town, only a couple of months later.

The new teacher's name was Mrs. Ingram. She was nice because she understood that while I might not be at exactly the place that her class was, I had learned a lot that they hadn't and vice versa (since grade schools don't all use the same books, especially if they are not in the same state). I remember one time when she put a complex equation on the board (it was fourth grade so it was likely only long division) and asked the class to solve it, when no one else could she asked me to come to the board and do it, which I did, thus shunning me from this entire class of students. I was now entrenched as the 'stupid geek', if they actually had that term at that time. There was another kid in this class, we all called him Mooney ( I don't know if that was his real name or not), who was also an outcast and we kind of teamed up. Isn't that the best kind of friendship? The type when you become friends because no one else will accept you? I don't know if it is the best kind of friendship, but I do know that other than Asher Arnold (who was in the same class and happened to be a seventh day Adventist) who was also my friend only because we were all outcasts, I don't remember a single person from that class or that school.

Another aside. I accidentally broke Mooney's leg one day at recess while we were playing a complex game of keep away with all the other kids. It certainly wasn't intentional, hell he was on my team. I actually got the nickname legbreaker after that, well that and another incident at a different school, which I am just about to get to.

My brief stay at the school in Tombstone was punctuated by breaking my best friend's leg. Woo hoo? The I was back to Benson, where the teacher thought I was stupid and lots of the other kids just plain didn't like me. Why? I don't know. They had all been together in school for four years, I had no idea who any of them were. There was one girl though, I don't remember her name, that like to sucker punch me any chance she got. She actually grabbed my (well put me in a head lock) and screamed, "why did you come back?" the day I got back to school. Warm welcome eh? She went on to push me to the ground and pummel me until I finally just punched her square in the nose, an action that I was scolded for since, you know, she was just a girl. (that girl was later in trouble after she ripped so much hair out of my cousin's head that he was bald in places). Love that fourth grade.

Now on to the fifth grade! I have already been in five schools (six if you count Benson twice) what fun! My teacher was one Mr. McKay. He was such a jackass. The school in question is in Cochise, AZ. At the time I was there there were exactly 42 students total, and that covered Kindergarten through the 8th grade. Each teacher taught several years. McKay had 5th and 6th, which was probably the biggest class since there were like 14 of us there. I never made any friends there really, and beyond that, McKay put me into a remedial reading class. Why? He was giving me workbooks that I had done years before at other schools, it bored me to tears. Funny incident regarding the guy though, he sent a letter to my mom about my brother's poor performance in reading, which my mom let my brother correct and sent it back to him. Other incidents that I can attribute to Mr. McKay include, but are not limited to, being the subject of sexual harassment claims against a 12 year old girl, forcing a student to stand on top of a fire ant hill for detention, then adding additional detentions when the student moved away from the ant hill, and my personal favorite, though not nearly as heinous, spending ten minutes trying to retrieve a penny, which had been super glued to the sidewalk, then putting it into his pocket and driving home.

McKay was some piece of work. My IOWA test results (I am not linking to a site since I don't know which might have been the official test in the mid eighties) averaged in the 92nd percentile of everyone my age. All of the math skills were above the 96th percentile. The reading skill (remember he gave me remedial reading) was in the 94th percentile. Thus proving my theory that you can skate through college with a D average and still become a teacher. Seriously, think about it, someone is Valedictorian, someone is Salutatorian, the rest are just people that did progressively worse than the others, someone had to just barely make it through with a low D average and graduate at the very bottom of the class, right?

Cochise had so few students that they required a couple of classes that you don't normally have to take. Such as band. You were required to be in band. I thought that would be cool, I really wanted to play the drums or saxophone, those positions had been filled for years, so I got the trumpet...I hated the trumpet...We were also required to participate in team sports (I think that the K-3 kids weren't required) since if we weren't all there there wouldn't be enough to make a team. We never practiced much, in fact the track and field event that I participated in would make a really great story, but not today. Soccer is what is on my mind, or it was when I started this post.

Sorry Angie! It was during Soccer practice that I broke Angie's leg. Thus I had broken the legs of two separate people in less than a year. I was well on my way to mob status. I really didn't like soccer, well I didn't hate it, well, hell, I don't know. I had to play it, I played it, and I was pretty good at it, provided people's shins stayed out of the damn way. After two horrible misfires (resulting in broken legs) you would think that the other kids would eventually figure out that they should just get the hell out of the way when I pulled back to kick, and they did. This gave me the illusion that I was actually good at the game, when in reality it was only that people knew that I broke Mooney's leg, then Angie's, and they just didn't want to have the ball anywhere near me, at least that is how I see it in hindsight.

Now that Soccer is my new best thing I want a shirt to show off that fact. I asked my mom if she could buy me a shirt that said #1 Soccer Player, then, while talking to her I tried to fact check myself, "maybe #2 soccer player, I know that David is way better than me. Maybe #3 soccer player just to be sure." I didn't want to lie, you see. I just wanted to stake my place on the totem pole that is soccer.

When I woke the next morning there was a pretty white shirt laying across the edge of the couch that proudly proclaimed, "#1 Soccer Player" in bold blue letters. Turns out that mom had a lot more faith in my ability than I did. For one glorious day I was the "#1 Soccer Player". I wore that shirt with pride. Unfortunately, as it turns out, Mom had spent her night awake stenciling that onto a plain white T-shirt, using only the magic markers that she had on hand. That bold statement, "#1 Soccer Player" washed away just as fast as my interest in soccer. Her sleepless night spent making that stupid T-shirt is a sacrifice that I will not, can not, ever forget. We might not have had much, but she did have a T-shirt and a stencil set, and she stayed up to make sure that my humble wish came true.

Mom may not have had the materials to make the shirt I wanted, and thank god she didn't since I totally sucked at soccer, but she made my (then) dream come true. I am not entirely sure if I ever told her, or if she otherwise knew, that the lettering washed away, it doesn't seem to matter. She made me that shirt out of love, and love was really the only commodity that we had at that point...

Mom certainly had the market cornered on the love thing, well some was reciprocated but I don't think it will ever be enough. While it is difficult to find a way to thank her for ripping me from my roots (abusive father), it is easy to find ways to thank her for everything else, such as ripping me from my roots (abusive father). Mom, you did a damn good job, if anyone ever tells you different I have people that can take care of them...

Another aside, but still a question, did you ever notice that no one ever thanks their dad when they win a sporting event?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Government Proposes New SUV Fuel Standards

I found this article on Yahoo today. My first thought was, "so it only takes the at the pump pricing to average $2.50 nationally before even Bush decides he, being an Oil Man, is really raping the American people." But then I read the rest of the article. Of course since I found it on Yahoo it is most likely an edited version of some AP post. With that in mind, I am gonna comment on a few of the high(?) points of the article.
The proposal would require the auto industry to raise standards for most vehicles other than cars beginning in 2008. All automakers would have to comply with the new system by 2011.

Okay, so the problem has been building for all of time. It really began to show its teeth in the oil shock in 1979(?), now we are finally going to do something about it, after all this time! But, not right away. It will start in three years, then it will be a requirement in six years. Way to nip it in the bud fully grown, out of control disaster phase, then, wait another six years to go ahead and do anything about it.
But the plan would not apply to the largest SUVs, such as the Hummer H2...

Oh, so they don't want to curb the fuel usage of the largest SUVS, they just want to make the small cars more economic with their fuel. What in the FUCK is that all about? Okay not really the small cars, just light trucks and other such, pretty much anything between an actual car and really big SUV's are the ones that are covered. So light cars, since they have pretty decent requirements anyway, aren't really covered. Huge SUV's, since they don't know the meaning of the phrase "fuel economy" are also not covered. It is only covering mid-sized trucks, which should have to have some sort of standard, but why not cover the really huge ones that consume the majority of the fuel? You know, the ones that the Bush administration gave people tax breaks for buying, the ones that only get 10-12 miles per gallon? Those ones are exempt, why?

Oh yeah.
"At a time when Americans are paying record prices for gas, the Bush administration has sided with its cronies in the auto industry and rejected real solutions," said Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming program.

This is a war on terror after all. How is it possible that becoming less dependent on foreign oil could possibly help America? That's right! There is no way. It is our dependence on foreign oil that puts us into, and keeps us in, such quagmires as the situation in Iraq. That is obviously helping to change the world view of the U.S., we are now viewed as liberators (of the oil of whatever country we decide to invade next). And could it possibly be just a coincidence that the year slated for the beginning of Bush's grand good passable new fuel standards happens to be the year that he leaves office?

Of course auto manufacturers are not at all set back by this, well, maybe a little bit
American automakers have cited a disadvantage against foreign competitors because sales of large SUVs, a major source of profits in recent years, must be offset by the sale of smaller models to comply with fuel economy standards.

So, they are at a disadvantage because they are selling huge, ugly, gas-guzzling cars, while other companies are selling small, sleek, cute, fuel-efficient cars? Why don't they just go ahead and build some small, sleek, cute, fuel-efficient cars of their own? Oh, I got it. They can't make ten thousand dollars per sale on cars that only cost ten thousand to the consumer.

Then there's this:
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing nine automakers, said the "higher fuel economy standards will be a challenge, even with all of the new fuel-efficient technologies that are offered for sale today."

These fuel-efficient technologies include such things as solar power, fuel cells, hydrogen (which most people are afraid of since a dirigible filled with the gas once fell from the sky), not to mention various patented technologies that vaporize gasoline before it reaches your engine (some engines in the 1970's, running with v-8's and carburetors were able to achieve more than 60mpg using that technology, and that was a simple consumer add on).

Do they really expect us to believe that they can't do it? My guess is that, given the current administration, they won't do it. I think the reason the fuel standards are supposed to come into play the year Bush leaves office is solely to make it look like he did something decent during his eight years. If Bush wasn't an Oil Man, he would probably try to make standards to help curb fuel usage for generations to come, since he is an Oil Man, he offered a bill that slightly changes fuel standards, which will only come into play once he leaves office. He will leave office with very full pockets, but also as the least admired president of all time.

Mark my words.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A great year for music

I was sitting at home yesterday listening to 98 kupd when a couple of songs came on back to back that made me wonder what year it was. The songs were Ozzy's Road to Nowhere, followed immediately by Metallica's Enter Sandman. It was like it was the early 90's all over again.

This got me to thinking about how many songs from that year are still in regular rotation on regular hard rock stations. I am defining that year as being from August of 1991 to July of 1992, a period that saw the release of Metallica's Black Album, Ozzy's No More Tears album, and Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction album. The fact that I just called all of those albums probably dates me a bit, eh? If Pantera had waited a year to release Cowboys from Hell, I think I could really declare this as the best 12 months for music in all of history, of course I like this type of music so YMMV.

Here it is thirteen years after the release of the most recent album mentioned above and each of them still has at least a couple of songs in rotation on the radio. There is no other year that I can think of that has had similar results. It really boggles my mind. It should also be noted that Nirvana's Nevermind was also released during this same period. So that makes four albums from that year that are still in rotation on rock stations. And this is not a classic rock station, these songs are sandwiched in between all the latest hard rock, though I am hard pressed to remember the names of any of the songs or bands, seems the new stuff doesn't stick with me like the old stuff does.

Sadly, even if it weren't for Nirvana's explosion onto the scene in the early 90's it seems that the glory days of the other bands was coming to a close anyway. While the albums that Metallica, Megadeth and Ozzy released that year were all excellent, they were also a great departure from the roots of the respective artists. While it was quite obvious with Metallica and Megadeth, Ozzy's departure was more in terms of his lyrics. No longer so angry and angst filled, now proclaiming "I don't want to change the world". Though the song Mr. Tinkertrain was still pretty damn creepy, if you really listen to it.

For fans of Metallica and Megadeth the years after this were pretty devastating. Punctuated by lackluster release after horrible, lackluster release. Metallica's music began to suck so bad that they assumed the reason for the decline in their sales must be due to piracy, but the fact is that the stuff that was being traded over Napster wasn't any of their new stuff. Kids just didn't want to pay 18 bucks for a cd that was released fifteen years ago and had only eight songs on it. I haven't bought a Metallica cd (they don't make albums anymore I guess) since they released Load, which is one of the most aptly titled releases ever, so long as you ad of Shit to the title.

Megadeth hasn't fared much better. While I am pretty sure that I bought all of the cd's that they released, I doubt that any of them had any staying time in the cd rotation. In fact I really can't remember the names of any songs after Countdown as I think about it. Well there was Train of Consequences and A Tout Le Monde which were both on the Youthanasia cd, I think. But there were several other cds released. One was called Risk which I know I own, one called The World Needs a Hero which again, I know I own, Cryptic Writings own it too, Rude Awakening yup, collecting dust along with the rest of them. With the exception of Cryptic Writings which was a single on that cd, and Insomnia from the Rude Awakening cd, I don't remember a single song from any of those four releases. Pretty sad really.

Megadeth did release a cd in 2004 that didn't suck, it was called The System Has Failed which, of course, I own. It took the music back to the meat and potatoes of what Megadeth once was. The song Back in the Day is a riff tastic tear down memory lane as much for the listener as the band. Many of the other songs also have really pounding guitar and drums but, as I read the lyrics, it seems that Mustaine must have found God, which is a bit disappointing. I always loved the line from Reckoning Day that said, "I like the way that you stand in line And beg salvation from the empty skies." Not much belief at that point, eh?

I don't think I will ever hear another cd that hits me the way that Metallica's ...And Justice for All, or Megadeth's Rust in Peace did, that era is long gone. While my all time favorite Megadeth song remains Holy Wars...The Punishment Due, and my all time Favorite Metallica song would have to be One which were released on the cds listed in this paragraph, it took streamlining their song writing to gain mainstream access and superior staying power.

Also, I don't feel quite so old when the songs that kids are listening to today happen to be the same songs that I was listening to as a kid. Though I might not have the hair or physique to bang my head like I did back in the day, it is still a pretty comforting thought.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Blogs and Blogging

I have never considered my website a blog. I don't really know why, though I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that everyone blogs and I didn't want to be just like everyone else. I supose that the truth is that my page is more of a blog than most of the blogs that I actually read. Blog is defined as a "web log", which I assume is more like a diary or journal than most of the stuff that I read.

I read several political blogs, a couple of sex blogs (not with pictures, just odd stories and practices), all of them are just fluff though. These blogs like to define themselves as a part of the Blogosphere, which I will define as a bunch of people who don't have a single thought of their own, yet create web sites that do nothing more than respond to other web sites. That is more like a pseudo cult in my eyes. The imagined 'blogosphere' will be different for any person who sees it, since he/she will only be looking at the sites that they like to read. One more step and they will be drinking tainted Kool-Aid while talking about Jonestown.

The most fascinating blogs have nothing to do with current events, at least in my eyes. Not to mention that they meet the criteria to be a blog, with actual personal experiences and stuff on them. That would be as opposed to the political 'blogosphere' that takes something that someone may or may not have said, puts each site's own spin on it, then makes new posts to reply to posts that they have found elsewhere on the internet. Don't get me wrong, I love to read my liberal political blogs, I have certain thoughts and ideals and those blogs confirm them. But they are not blogs. They are actual facts that have been spun to the point that I like to accept them, not the truth, but the truth with a bit of commentary and cherry-picked facts...So, Wabloids, perhaps... You know, Web Tabloids, but I know that it is spun just so for me. Not an actual "web log" by any stretch of the imagination.

I have found that I am a voyeur of sorts, not in the looking for naked chicks way, more in the reading little tid-bits from other people's lives way. Isn't it reassuring to know that God's master plan involves suckitude for lots of people other than yourself? I think it is, and I can read about it on any of the myriad blogs that I happen across. Real life, in text, complete with emotion and hardship, that is what I read the blogs for. Real Life being the key.

I suppose it is time to admit that I am really blogging, but until the political, sexual, and otherwise underhanded, blog sites admit that they are not really blogs, I will be a bit reluctant.

What we really need to happen is for the political blogs to adopt a new name, "Plogs" (political blogs) is the first that springs to mind. "Recycling a possible fact for several months for the purpose of retaining readership" is my second stab at it. How about, "We spin, you read."?


Bloggers of the world unite, talk about mundane shit, that is what we do. Stay away from the spiral that starts when you get into political discussion, that is what we shouldn't do. I enjoy reading about lives much more than reading recycled political discussions for the eleventeenth time, maybe that is just me...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cheap Hotels Inexpensive Hotels

I am frequently asked why I visit Las Vegas every year for vacation. The answer is always Cheap rooms. Where else in the world can you go and get an average of $33 bucks a night for a five night stay? The rooms are cheap, and there is entertainment galore.

Of course one can only walk down the strip so many times before getting horribly bored, not to mention that the security check stations to cross the Hoover Dam take nearly as long as the drive itself, so we are going to a different destination this year. Laughlin. Laughlin is sort of like Vegas light. You get the casinos, you get the gambling, you get the cheap rooms, but you don't have to drive across the Hoover dam. I hope they have the buffets. The buffets alone are worth the price of admission. Where else in the world can you eat fifty shrimp as part of a 6 dollar buffet? Time will tell though.

Marvel at my cheapness. I could have had the same room for only 27 dollars per night had I booked it a day before, but still, 33 per night is good considering that the Sunday night is 85 dollars and the rest are $19. You only wish you had the 'cheap ass' chops to pull that off, and get your wife to agree to it. The fact that the hotel has a Krispy Kreme, a Dreyer's Ice Cream shop, a Subway and a pizza joint might have helped her to agree though.

Laughlin is certainly the way to go, as far as the cheapest vacation ever, but there are other places to go that can compensate for the price of the hotel room. For instance, Millie told me, after a stay in Taiwan, that it only cost her a few dollars per month to live in a rat infested apartment there, I assume that most of the apartments there are rat infested though, so I think that was a tremendous value. Millie went on to lose a lot of weight while in Taiwan, but that could have been due to increased exercise, right? When Millie made it back to Florence (AZ), my wife really wanted to give her a cookie, Millie looked so pale that we feared she might be the dead walking among us. Turns out that she loved the anorexic look that she got while she had the tapeworm so much that she started to exercise regularly, my fears were misplaced.

You know, there is a reason why Buddha only got fat once he found enlightenment. That reason is simple: Poor people can't afford the flashy rooms in Las Vegas, the 19 dollar per night accommodations in Laughlin are much more in line. I bet Buddha hit Laughlin a few times along the way to becoming the ultimate peasant, he has the gut to show it. Thankfully we don't have mythological entities doing the commercials for travel, we get William Shatner.....How is that thankful?


Stupid junk mail!

With email taking over the vast majority of delivering useless junk mail, it is always refreshing to find one in the actual post office, printed on real paper, that makes you laugh.


Your property at PO Box 166 may be eligible for special programs from Government Sponsored Institutions. Your census tract is currently being targeted by our Equal Lending Assessment Center for loans from major depository institutions without the usual restrictions on credit history, income or employer status.

If you are the legal owner of the above property, you may benefit from programs created by Federal Agencies. If you are not the legal owner, please forward this notice to them or return to sender.

But seriously, this is obviously a computer generated form, complete with unique offer number, mine happens to be LQY6-0665-524, which I am sure is the same as everyone else's. The question that I have is don't they have the ability to screen out po box addresses when they generate this kind of crap?

Also I wonder how important it really is that I forward this to the legal owner of the property PO Box 166, you know the post office. I hope they are aware of this tremendous financial opportunity already, 'cause I think I am just gonna go ahead and toss mine in the trash.

There is a little thing at the very bottom of the page, written in a font size that is significantly smaller than the rest of the letter, it says "This product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any government agency and this offer is not being made by any agency of the government."

Has it really come full circle so fast? Is it once again more profitable to send out junk mail through the post office since no one reads junk email? If so I sure do hope the trend continues. I know exactly who I am supposed to get real mail from and that is about all I ever open, with the occasional credit card offer (sort of like playing the lotto there, just trying to see if I can beat the best offer for balance transfers. If you take the time to do it, and have relatively good credit, you can transfer balances every year or so and never pay a penny of interest on your credit card debt. While making your credit better. The world is odd indeed). With email I do open some that appear to be from real people, though never if there is an attachment, just because my various web pages over the years have led a lot of strangers to email me. I have pretty serious doubts that anyone would send me an actual letter though, and the computer generated addresses on envelopes are really easy to pick out when there are four occurrences of the letter 'e' on it, there is no way to make them all identical if you are writing it by hand and, unless you happen to be a lot more patient than me, you may write the letter on the PC, but the envelope gets made out by hand simply because it is faster than changing your printer setting for envelopes, finding where to put the envelope, printing it out upside down first, before finally getting it right. Only to realize that you missed one digit in the zip code, thus starting the process over. Four envelopes, and twenty minutes later, you have accomplished what could have been done in 5 seconds with a pen. The marvels of technology.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Random childhood musings

When this post went live yesterday, it was not only incomplete but also had various notes at the end of it. That problem has been corrected.

Yesterday while I was at work, and for reasons that I can't remember, I ended up talking to the cashier about a portion of my childhood. It started with the story about how I stole a bag of chips from the local IGA store, then went a bit deeper into why I did it. If you have actually read through the archives on the left side of the screen you have probably seen the story already, if not, in a nutshell, I was really hungry, and hungry for tortilla chips in particular. For unknown reasons I went further into my childhood than I have ever spoken of to anyone other than my mother, yet I found that it made for an almost unbelievable story so I will type it here.

Before I get into it, however, I must mention that my Mother actually reads this page, while my Father is dead and can not defend himself. I remember things the way I remember them and if my memory is horribly flawed I am pretty sure that Mom will let me know. Of course Mom might not be the most objective person, since she is one of the two factions at war, but I will do my best to tell it like I remember it. While the mind does seem to dull with age, it is amazing how vivid these memories from 20+ years ago really are.

First up will be a couple of fractional, at best, memories that I have of the impending divorce. I have a scar on my right wrist that is slightly over an inch long, I got that while in Arizona visiting an uncle. I don't really know why we were in Arizona, but I do know that Dad was not there with us (I have not actually tried to fact check this one with Mom, but that was at a point when Dad was pretty drunk and abusive nearly every day). My wrist got cut when I was trying to fuck with a cat on my uncle's couch. Unfortunately, the uncle had a solid mirror coffee table that had jagged edges on the side nearest the couch. When the cat finally swiped at me, and I jerked my arm away, I hit the coffee table and split my wrist wide open. It was really bad. While I don't remember the verbatim dialogue that followed, I do remember exactly what I said to my mother the instant after it happened, "Mom, I need to go to the Hospital.". In the fuzzy part of the memory, I think she may have actually scolded me for interrupting while the grown ups were talking. I know for sure that she really thought that I needed to get to the hospital immediately once I shoved the wound in front of her face.

Funny thing about scar tissue is that it stays the same forever, while the normal skin continues to grow. As I look at that scar right now I can still see the 8 suture marks around the scar, yet they are now a good quarter of an inch from it and spaced apart even further. Now it looks like it was a nick, when it happened it pretty much looked like my wrist wrist may fall off, or I would lose the use of my thumb. It all worked out for the best though, I still have full use of all of my digits, not to mention a story to tell (and that one went over HUGE at show and tell back in the day. Yet, as I have found over the years, chicks don't really dig scars.).

The car ride to the hospital was a bit unnerving. I didn't know how this would be taken care of. I posited my theory that they had bodies laying around that they could take spare parts out of to fix the patients. Mom told me that this was not the case and that I would have to be sewed back together with a needle, at that point I am pretty sure that I told her that I was fine, didn't need to go to the hospital or anything, but we ended up there anyway. The funniest part of the car ride, as I look back on it, is that my uncle stopped to ask a cop for directions to the nearest hospital, his exact quote to the cop was, "My partner hurt his arm, we need to get him to a hospital! (that sticks out in my mind only because he called me partner, not nephew, not sister's child, not bastard son of 100 men, no, he chose partner)" That doesn't seem funny, but as I look back on it with adult eyes that is probably the first time in his life that he had spoken to a cop without being in handcuffs, possibly the last as well.

I got stitched right up once we got to the hospital, it didn't hurt at all. There was a small tinge of pain when the doctor shot the (insert name here)cane into the wound to numb it, but after that it was smooth sailing. When the stitches came out, however, wow, boy howdy, that shit hurt. The suture removal was performed by the same uncle that took me to the hospital, but with no pain killer, and it really hurt. Or at least I thought it did, but what was I six? Plus they gave me a candy for every one that they pulled out, I bet I was amped that night.

The next fuzzy memory I can't really date, I remember the events but I can't possibly place the time. It was at my uncle Steve's house, Steve moved so frequently that I also can't remember exactly which house it was in. Dad was horribly drunk, yet wanted to drive home. He asked the three of us kids "Who wants to go home with Dad?" He was horribly wasted at the time, and Highway 42 in Oregon has claimed more lifes than air travel, but we all wanted to go home with him, thankfully, Mom nixed that idea and we had to stay in that old, stinky house. Again, with adult eyes I am able to look at that experience and realize that Mom really did have our best interests at heart. Not to mention a broken finger, since dad had thrown her down the stairs outside the house. One of the images that is so burnt into my memory that I am sure I will never forget it is the image of Dad squatted next to the wood stove when we all got home the next day. I don't think he ever actually knew what happened that night.

I have two other fuzzy memories on this subject that seem to blur together. One involves a horrible pounding against the house as Dad tried, while horribly drunk, to back his truck out of the driveway (which was steeply sloped towards the house). It happened over and over again for a long time. The other was a pounding sound that was (as my Mom later described) Dad beating her head against the floor (interesting aside on that one is that I thought she was lying, while I was six, there is no way to beat someone's head against the floor while they are standing up. It took a bit of living to realize that he had her pinned to the floor to make that possible). After at least one of the said fuzzy memories, Dad was passed out in the yard. Mom told me that he tried to do a Hand-Spring but forgot to put his hands down, I dunno, that seems like a pretty flimsy alibi.

All of my fuzzy memories aside, that was the situation that my Mother was in, and it certainly was far worse than my memory. The divorce was a good thing for all parties involved. Well, all parties except for Mom and the kids.

When the divorce finally went down, Mom just sort of gave up all material possessions for the custody of the children. Unfortunately the child support laws back then were not quite what they are today. She was getting about 100 bucks a month to support three children. That doesn't even cover the cost of food, but we got food stamps, so that helped. She was dirt poor... She was dirt poor, but she did her best and I think that we all (her children) turned out pretty good.

Living accommodations along the way could have been better...

The first house that I lived in with my mother, post divorce, was on Curry road. It was not so much a house, more like enough plywood leaned together to make what passes for shelter. There was no indoor plumbing, well, there was a sink, there was a shower, but I am pretty sure that the water from those just drained directly onto the ground below. The toilet, I will never forget the toilet, was on the outside of the house, and some twenty yards away. Some may call that an outhouse, I called it my salvation. When you really have to shit, right now, snow be damned, you are gonna foot your way out to the little box in the pasture to make it happen. How many people who are alive today can remember taking a dump in an outhouse?

Over the next several years, it seemed that we were trying to keep one step ahead of the building inspector. We moved into Hartz Cabins, a facility that was condemned only a few months after we moved in. A few misfires later, we ended up in a house on Shoestring road, Just outside of Riddle, Oregon. We were there for some time, a few years I think. (there may have been a couple of houses in Arizona between the latest listed points, I dunno, the mind seems to alter the facts after all these years).

We never had much, and what we did have we were thankful for. Mom did her best with what she had, which was very little. Dad could have stepped in to offer some compensation, maybe even did (I dunno), but Mom went it alone and raised us alone. That must take a great deal of resolve to accomplish. Three children raised with no help from the father (virtually). Kudos to mom.

I have been less than honest with my Mother for all of the years since. While I loved her "indian bread" (deep-fried flat bread), I was not so keen on her actual bread. The bread tasted kind of doughy, with the additional taste of yeast...Not all that tasty, yet, when soaked in butter, that was good stuff. I did my best to keep up the charade, but, as she told me recently, I lost a lot of credibility.

When we all lived in that tiny little dive (the one without indoor plumbing), we each had a birthday. The gift to each of us was a really itchy green blanket (donated by the local military reserve) and ten dollars in food stamps to spend however we wanted. I don't remember exactly what I spent mine on, but I would guess it was probably on sugared cereal.

Fast forward a couple of years, perhaps rewind. In my memory this event was long after the military blanket, yet before I moved back to live with dad. There was a Christmas that happened. We lived in a slightly better dive than the last one (this one had an eagle claw bathtub), and we each got cards from Dad. Each card contained a ten dollar bill. While I don't remember what the rest of the money was spent on, I do remember that I spent a couple of bucks on Christmas wrapping paper. Gods be damned! There might not be a gift under the tree (which is not entirely true, we did get gifts just not many of the flashy, store bought ones that we so craved), but what little we had to exchange was going to have the "have yourself a merry little Christmas" logo on it.

I don't remember all these experiences as being bad per se, I don't have another childhood to compare them to. Each one of these experiences helped to make me who I am today. If it weren't for having to camp out by Cow Creek eating nothing but barley soup for a few days I might not appreciate everything that I have now as much as I do. If I hadn't seen how badly it hurt my Mother when Dad beat her (and I don't mean physically, I mean the transformation from the vibrant, beautiful woman she was in her senior photo to the shell of the woman she had become when she finally had the resolve to walk out on him), I might not have such tremendous respect for women, I might even be abusive to them myself, who knows?

Your childhood is something that you really had no control over, as such there can't be any regret. Just as every scar on my body reminds me of a particular place or event, every memory that I have of my youth reminds me of conscious decisions that I made. While it may seem hard to believe that I made a vow, at the ripe old age of six, to never hit a woman, I did. That is a vow that I am quite happy to say I have never broken (well, once in the fourth grade, but that bitch was holding me on the ground and literally pulling my hair out. And once in my junior year of High School, but again I was provoked; I called a certain girl a slut, based only on the fact that she had had sex with at least three guys at a party the night before, her younger sister took offense to me calling her sister a slut, walked up and kicked me square in the nuts. I fell to the ground immediately. When I got back up I saw her laughing with her friends, I walked up to her and gave her a right that bloodied her nose and put her to the ground, she had it coming.), although I did accidentally break Angie Dixon's leg in the fifth grade while playing soccer, sorry Angie.

But this post is all about the bread so I guess I better get to the point. Mom told me recently that she knew that I didn't like her homemade bread as much as I let on. The way that she knew was that on one occasion where I was able to spend food stamps however I chose, I bought a loaf of bread. She never told me that she knew that I didn't like it all that well until very recently, I think that she was just glad that I was making my brothers look like a couple of little whiners. Older brothers don't like to be made to look like babies you see.

The truth is that I could probably list a couple dozen things that I really didn't like to eat but ate and pretended that I liked. That was all we had and with my brothers bitching about it already what good would it have done? I will list just a couple though, for sentimental value. Barley, while when combined with hops, fermented and aged, is certainly my favorite drink, yet Barley soup is just plain disgusting (I don't even know if I was able to disguise my disgust at this soup when I was young). Potato pancakes weren't all that bad, but they weren't all that good either. I didn't have to pretend much with those though, since my brothers both seemed to like them. Corned Beef Hash, now this one is complex as I actually do like it sort of. This was a dish that we often had pre-divorce, but even at the time I didn't really like all of it. I loved the taste that the potatoes had after cooking with the corned beef for so long, but the meat itself was so salty that I had to pick it out and give it to one of my brothers. Chicken is quite similar, I don't mind the taste of chicken but I hate the skin, simply won't eat it, of course since my brothers would fight for the skin I didn't want it was all good.

On the up side, there were a lot of dishes that our finances forced on us that I really liked. Ramen noodles for instance. Those things were damn tasty, a child can make them (though why mom let me do that, considering the horrible burn scars on my chest and neck is beyond me), and after you eat the noodles you have a cup of warm broth to drink. An entire meal for a child for, well you can get them 10 for a buck now (on sale) so probably 15 or 20 for a buck then, so like 5 to 7 cents. Then there were the potatoes. Those things were practically free back then so we had a lot of them. I love mashed potatoes, not so much the pancakes they turn into the next day, but mashed potatoes is one of the things that is on my plate at every buffet. There is a certain way to make them though. The ones that are made out of dehydrated flakes simply aren't edible. Even if you use real potatoes, if you mix them with a power mixer they have the consistency of an orange Julius, also not edible. They must be mashed with an old fashioned masher, they must have only pepper as seasoning no salt! Salt can be added by the consumer but not taken away. Finally they really should be made with real butter. I have had to use margarine to make them for Thanksgiving the last few years and they still taste pretty good, but butter is certainly the best way to go.

To finish this off with the thought that started it, the real reason that I wanted the store bought bread had nothing to do with the taste of the home made bread. The thing about the home made bread is that you have to slice it yourself and that makes for some pretty awkward looking sandwiches. Sometimes, no matter how down to earth you try to be (for a small child) you just want to have a sandwich that looks the same as the ones that all the other kids are eating. Is that so wrong?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Open question about physiology

Over the last week or so I have been performing a different duty than normal while at work. Mostly involving standing around a lot while tending to the cash register. What I don't understand is why this makes my legs and lower back hurt so bad. And hurt it does.

Why is it that I can stand on my feet for six, eight, or even ten hours at a time, while throwing heavy boxes (60-80lbs.) around with no ill effects, yet when I am forced to stand and work in a smaller area it just kills me? I know that I usually walk at least a couple of miles per day, under normal circumstances, and I do throw a lot of heavy shit around. So do my back and legs ache from lack of stress/impact? That seems completely opposite to the way it should happen.

Seriously, is it the lack of motion that makes my joints hurt or what? Is it kind of like starting your car on a cold morning; no lubrication of moving parts for a few minutes? All the stop and go moving adds up? I simply don't understand why I can carry heavy stuff around for eight hours or longer, yet, when I have to stand still for minutes at a time, over the same length of time, it hurts my back.

I need to dispose of this body and try to develop an exoskeleton. I will probably keep this body until I have the exoskeleton working though...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bring on the juice!

My job gives me the wonderful opportunity to not have to repeat the same mundane tasks on a daily basis. No endless screwing on of toothpaste caps for me. What it also gives me is the opportunity to fuck with things that I would rather not, such as electricity.

I have a pretty good basic knowledge of electricity, which I actually learned in high school in the improperly named Introduction to Technology class. Of course since the only computers we had in my high school were in the library, and only there as a replacement to the card indexes with no other purpose whatsoever, I guess basic electricity really was technology in their eyes. That aside, I loathe electricity. It is wonderful when it is working as expected, but when I have to actually start wiggling wires I get a tad bit nervous. This is compounded when I have to do it where I work.

To say that the wiring in the building I work in is old would be like saying that Hitler was merely a bit quirky. Many of the electrical panels in the building are at least forty years old, complete with the old screw in fuses. The disconnect boxes on the outside of the building are likely every bit as old and scary as hell. Not to mention that, as I think about it, there are at least five separate breaker boxes in the building (two of which have been replaced within the last ten years, two which at least have breakers, and one that still has screw in fuses). As far as power cut off boxes, there are at least (wait while I try to count from memory) 14 of those. Most of those are for specific refrigeration units, while there are a couple that are there for no damn reason at all. The 14 number was counting only the ones that are active as well, there are at least another half dozen that are hanging on the walls but not connected to anything. It is old, it is complex, yet it works just fine for the most part. I will leave it at that for now.

Yesterday, I noticed that the fans in the dairy walk-in were not working so I went to investigate. Here I must note that there is another light outside of the walk-in that runs on the same circuit as the fans, that light was still working. I assumed that this meant that there was something wrong with the compressor for the dairy walk-in itself, when I got outside to the compressor I saw that the compressor for the wall freezer was working just fine, since it is on the same, huge, 100 amp circuit as the dairy compressor I was confident that my initial guess was correct. I pulled the fuse block from the dairy walk-in's compressor (it is a block about three by four inches that holds three fuses. The fuses look like miniature shotgun shells but with copper on both ends) and tested the fuses, they were all fine. So up the line I went.

The next set of fuses that needed testing were the massive 100 amp ones that I so fear. They also look like shotgun shells, but they are about three inches long with an additional inch of a copper blade sticking out of each end. It is not that I fear the fuses really, but that one of them will not blow out unless the amperage across it has reached 100 amps. If the amperage across the fuse reached 100 then that means that there could be a serious short in the electrical system. Since less than one amp can be fatal I am really scared of touching 100 amp fuses. I think that fear is pretty justified.

In any electrical installation the line (power) always comes into the top of a box, while the load (the place the power is going to) always goes out the bottom, always, in every instance. I didn't trust that in this particular case, so I traced the wires myself before trying to test the fuses. It was, astonishingly (to me anyway), actually wired correctly. I threw the lever down on the box to test the fuses (this is, I assume, why they have standardized it so. There must be a standard way to run the power into and out of the box, if the power goes in through the top it is possible to test the fuses without having to remove them. Time saving as well as standardizing, good all around). I tested the left fuse, then the right, both of which were fine (I only tested the left and right first since in a home application, like a dryer, the left and right will each be power while the middle will be ground). Then it went really bad.

Just a quick aside. I had taken the rubber mallet outside with me when I went to check those fuses. The reason why is that when you flip the switch back up the blades do not contact with the power supply very well, this has led to many a blown fuse on that system. The way that I circumvent that problem is to turn off both of the compressors, turn the switch back on, then tap the blades into place with the rubber mallet. This time, thankfully, I had used the rubber mallet to also hold the cover (it opens up) on the box open. I say thankfully since I normally just use my head to hold it up since it only takes a couple of seconds.

I touched my continuity tester to the top of the center fuse, then the bottom. I then immediately dropped to the ground with what used to be a continuity tester in my hands, and a horrible, unstoppable, muscle jerking thing going on. I really got a jolt out of that one. That was the worst shock I have ever felt in my life. I have been shocked by your standard electrical outlet many times, to me that feels more like a tickle than a shock, but this one, boy howdy, I thought I not only bought the farm outright, but possibly also a considerable amount of acreage around it. Funny thing is that it doesn't really hurt exactly, it is more like you are just wasted of any physical energy, as if you had just done a decathlon a few times in a row. This one took me a good thirty minutes to settle down from, at least to the point that I was able to think and act coherently again. Certainly not recommends for entertainment purposes.

The reason that I got shocked (which completely destroyed the continuity tester, as I may have mentioned) is that when I threw the switch off on that box I didn't even look to see if all of the blades were removed from power. It turns out that the center blade stayed connected because the arm that pulls that one away from the power was actually broken off. I tried to test a 100 amp fuse with a continuity tester, while it had power. I wonder how many people have ever done that and lived. Yet, I still had to test that fuse somehow.

It was at exactly this moment that I decided the store was going to pony up the ten bucks for a fuse puller. The fuse puller is just like a big set of pliers that is made all out of plastic. That in hand, I pulled the center fuse and took it to the hardware store to have it tested (since my tester was beyond repair) and found that it was also good. If that fuse had been bad, I think I might not be alive right now. That fuse runs to the compressors which are solidly grounded with copper, I only took a portion of the voltage (since the fuse was good, and the copper was a better ground than me. Love those rubber soles), and, more importantly, the amperage. If it would have been only me completing that circuit I would likely only be able to blog in a posthumous fashion.

Another aside. If you ever try to steal power from the warehouse next door, keep in mind that there is something (which I had never heard of previously) that is called a wild leg. It is used exclusively in industrial applications. I am not sure exactly what its purpose is, but it makes it so that the wires that carry power run at 120v, 120v, and 208v. None of the three are a ground or common wire. If you pick the wrong wire (while trying to steal power) and get the 208v one, you will likely destroy every electronic device in your whole house. Keep it in mind.

The problem with the walk-in was eventually resolved, quite simply, but I am gonna leave that for another post, as this one has gone a bit long already.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Are people really that fucking darn stupid?

Okay, people are sheep, the bible tells us that. Even if you aren't into the whole religion thing, just look at the way that we all flocked to buy the latest Harry Potter book. Yes, we are all into following trends, usually without actually taking the time to think about it: Would the latest Harry Potter book have failed to exist if you weren't there to buy it at midnight on the day it was released? Did you then go home and read the whole book before morning? -mind you that if you did you have a completely different sort of disorder which is equally as bad.- I'm just saying people are sheep; once the herd is pointed in a particular direction, they go that way regardless of obstruction (remember the 'tickle me Elmo' doll?).

That was a really horrible parallel to use for the point I am going to try to make, but it was the first thing that came to mind. I am just saying that people follow. Would we have millions of people driving ugly, dangerous, gas-guzzling SUV's were it not for the for the pack mentality?

The tangent that I am going to spin off on today is in regards to car commercials. Not the insane, often impossible, images that you see on the television, but the ads (promotions) themselves. The new best offer of all time is employee pricing. I have been thinking about this for a couple of months, while listening to the advertising, knowing that it is complete bullshit, but, it keeps going and going. Now every dealership is offering the "employee pricing" to anyone that walks onto the lot.

I have never been in the auto business so all I have to offer is common sense, but sense of any sort is more logical than the latest dealer fad(fraud).

The fad several years ago was to offer you 5,000 dollars for any trade, which seems like a good deal, what they didn't tell you was that the offer was only on cars that the dealer designated. You ended up paying far more than the MSRP on any other car, even after they took the 5,000 dollars off for your trade in. Good deal? No. Good marketing? Well, it worked. Should it be legal to market so falsely? I don't think so, yet, they were able to get away with it by marketing a car at one price, then follow that statement with the phrase "exclusive of that offer".

The current fad/fraud in the auto business is the 'employee pricing'. It started off with Chevy (I think, at least that was the first ad that I heard it on) and it has snowballed since then. Major props to Isuzu, who is still making fun of the employee pricing. Everyone else in the auto business is trying to offer the same 'employee pricing' deal to every mark on the lot. And people are still falling for it.

I don't know how much simpler it could be to know that this is outright fraud; look at the MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) to the layman, of the auto that you see advertised on the television, go to the dealership to see the same vehicle, then notice how the MSRP seemed to go up by several thousand dollars while you were on your way. I guess the seatbelts must cost a lot of money? No fear though, they can get the auto down to only slightly higher than the MSRP once you have your 'employee discount'. Wow, pay more than normal now that I am an employee? I am on it! Wouldn't common sense tell you that employees would pay the same, or possibly less, than the general public?

That must be a really humorous exchange down at the GM factory:

GM Exec: "You're late."

Employee: "My bicycle had a flat tire."

GM EXEC: "You're in luck, you can use our Employee Pricing to buy a new car."

Employee: "But, I can't afford to buy a new car."

GM EXEC: "You should have thought about that before you slept in."

Employee: "I have a wife and children."

GM EXEC: "Don't worry, they will get employee pricing too."

Employee: "My children are too young to work, and my wife has to watch them during the day."

GM EXEC: "Why not buy her a car? She could run errands while watching the children."

Employee: "I can't afford a car on the wages you pay me! You want more than 10,000 American dollars for a new car, you pay me 1.5 American dollars per day!"

GM EXEC: "I understand your position...You don't want to spread the good name of the General Motors Company to others".

Employee: "Kill me, just kill me now. Perhaps my wife and son could then live off of my death benefits."

GM EXEC: "Sorry, you do not work within the contiguous 48 states, no benefits for you!"

Employee: "will you go ahead and kill me anyway... My son is starving, my wife is pregnant, if I come home without a paycheck I would be better off dead."

GM EXEC: "You've forced my hand, I will offer you employee pricing on your next GM automobile purchase."

Employee: "You don't pay me enough to buy an automobile! My son has died of malnutrition, my wife had a miscarriage and died. Thank you, Sir, for destroying my life!"

GM EXEC: "I see that you are upset..."

Employee: (whips out a gun) "Taste hot lead, asshole! Employee pricing my ass! Die you son of a bitch, die!"

GM EXEC'S Supervisor: "I wonder where that assault rifle came from... Calling number 3482, I need a new ambassador....."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Bush's Mater Plan

Is it wrong to enjoy the fake news about Bush's agenda more than the real news? Maybe. I will say that the fake news is far more realistic. Take this weeks top story from The Onion.

Bush Vows To Eliminate U.S. Dependence On Oil By 4920

Well at least there is a definite time frame there, something you would be hard pressed to get the Bush administration to assign to any of their current plans. Hell if the United States was led by Bush, or someone with similar goals, that might be far too optimistic of a goal. There would likely be more money going into deep space exploration to search for other planets with fossil fuels (which through some loophole would become the property of Bush's successors) than to trying to harness all of the limitless sources of power that we already have, Solar and Hydrogen power for example.

The Onion frequently hits pretty close to home with its stories. This one is a bit too outrageous to fit into that context, but it is only barely satire. Bush is at the helm of the country, steering it with the confidence of a great and knowledgeable leader. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to realize that he is not a great and knowledgeable leader, and those around him only add to his confidence. My only hope is that his eight years of rule will not have soured the entire world to the U.S., and that, with more responsible leadership, the next generation of Americans will have a country to be loyal to, not a crater left by the simultaneous nuclear (nukular) bombings aimed here by every other country on earth. One can always hope.

There was one quote in that fake news article that made me write this post, one which I think is more truth than fiction;
The proclamation comes on the heels of Bush's plans to pay off the national debt by the early 6300s, and win the war on terror by 7450.

Perhaps a bit too optimistic, considering the current administration, but certainly an achievable goal!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I am absolutely incapable of doing an objective review of anything. It is with that spirit that I will now delve into the many mysteries of the HBP. There will be spoilers galore so please don't read on if you have yet to read the book.

The book seems to have left the entire world with two burning questions, the first being is Dumbledore really dead, the second concerns Snape's true intentions. I am really up in the air about both.

Rowling has certainly made the books more complex as the series has evolved, but I find it hard to believe that she has added so much complexity to the characters and plot since the first book. While it is true that being wealthy enough to do nothing but work on the novels for the last few years should have given her enough free time to come up with elaborate plots, she hasn't really done that. The characters have remained pretty static the entire series with only Harry himself appearing to grow in any noticeable way. The only other character growth seems to be in height, as Hermione is still a little bookworm, Ron is still an awkward pansy, Draco is still just an evil little pain in the ass, Ginny, while now having enough charm (read breasts) to attract the boys is still in every way just Ron's little sister. I suppose Snape could be an exception, but his motives have been in doubt since the first book, he has not changed one bit, though the situations he is placed in may have.

I will address the Dumbledore issue first. The book leaves the possibility that he is still alive pretty wide open. Even before he is killed he is having a conversation with Draco in which he states "Voldemort can not kill you if you are already dead", or something quite similar. This leaves the possibility that Dumbledore has the ability to fake death an open ended one. Is it possible that Dumbledore knew that he was going to be facing Draco atop that tower and hoped that Draco would not have the nerve to kill him? This would have forced Snape to complete the job as part of his unbreakable vow. But in an earlier book it was explained that the unforgivable spells could only be successful if the one who cast it had enough hatred and desire in them to actually kill. Perhaps Snape didn't have that desire within him since he is really on Dumbledore's side, so the spell appears to work yet it is all a clever ruse to keep Draco from performing the act with actual intent? Draco, however much an asshole he is, has still not actually killed anyone and if there is anything that Dumbledore has ever been guilty of it is believing in the good nature of the worst people (Snape for example).

Isn't it an extremely odd coincidence that Dumbledore decides to take Harry to the cave at the precise time that the Death Eaters are going to come flooding into the castle? Did he just discover the Horcrux at exactly that moment in time? Even if he did what would be the importance of having Harry take his invisibility cloak? He takes it off nearly the second they leave Hogwarts, but he is instructed to put it on before returning, why? Was Dumbledore trying to make doubly sure that his death was witnessed by someone that everyone had to believe (what with no one believing Harry the entire last book even though he was telling the complete truth)?

Dumbledore seemed to know exactly how to get to the the Horcrux that they were looking for. Beyond that he knew that he needed blood to open the door, he knew where to find the chain for the boat, and he attempted to stick his hand into the murky green water without a thought. He then decided that his best option was to drink the strange liquid, knowing nothing about it, but told Harry to force feed him all of the liquid. It seems Dumbledore might now a tad more about that cave than he is letting on. Near the end of the book, when the locket appears next to Dumbledore's body, the note is signed by R.A.B.. So someone had been to the cave before and taken the initial Horcrux, but Dumbledore said that it would take two people to do it. I am guessing that it was Regulus Black that left the note, but who was his partner, possibly Dumbledore? That would have given him all the necessary information on how to get there and retrieve the locket. But why retrieve the locket if Dumbledore knew it was a fake? To get the note which had been left behind all those years ago, in the hopes that Harry would be able to figure out who R.A.B. was.

The book also leaves open the possibility that, since the Horcrux had already been removed, whoever took it could have replaced the liquid in the bowl with any potion of their choosing. Not to mention that if it really was Regulus Black and Dumbledore that were there to take it in the first place, and Black drank the potion, but died a few days later, it could be that Black is not dead at all, but that he too was able to use the effects of the potion to appear so dead as the wizarding community simply forgot about him (that theory really doesn't hold any water though, as Kreacher would have had to be loyal to Regulus if he were still alive, yet he was forced to be loyal to Harry). At any rate, Dumbledore could have been in that cave previously, broken all the enchantments and set up some of his own. Dumbledore mentioned that he burnt his hand in search of one of the Horcrux items, perhaps it was this one and it really didn't require any help to obtain, but the potion he left in its place must be administered, since you won't drink it of your own free will after the first couple of cups. Then again Dumbledore may have been acting as he seemed to lose so much of his physical capacity, perhaps he thought that Harry would not believe him dead unless Harry saw his slow decay before being finished off by an inferior wizard.

I am not making predictions here, I am just saying that it is plausible that Dumbledore is still alive.

Snape is a completely different issue.

Who is Snape loyal to? Which side is he playing? No one will know until Rowling releases the next book of course, but I have my suspicions. Snape is far too evil to be evil. Wouldn't make for much of a septology if he was simply evil for the sake of being evil. Harry obviously hates Snape and that hate is clouding Harry's mind. Dumbledore has said, again and again, that he trusts Snape implicitly. Maybe Snape really is on the wrong side but I doubt that. Snape has had many opportunities to betray the order and hasn't really acted on any of them. Sure he is harsh on Harry, even knocked him down a couple of times while Harry was in pursuit, but I don't see him as being the villain that Harry thinks he is.

While Harry is pursuing Snape on the grounds of Hogwarts, well when he catches up to him really, Snape does not allow Harry to actually cast an unforgivable spell. Snape actually says "No unforgivable spells for you, Potter.", or something very similar. Is Snape trying to protect himself? It seems unlikely given the fact that Harry can't seem to cast a stone in the water at his feet, let alone a decent spell. Why does Snape then go on to tell Harry that he needs to be better at Legilimency and non verbal spell casting? Perhaps Snape knows that without Dumbledore in the public eye (apparently dead) he, Snape, will not see Harry again until the very conclusion of the conflict. Snape just wants Harry to know what he needs to work on.

Being realistic, Harry is a loser. He has never done a damn thing other than survive an attack that his mother seemed to take the major force of. He has never succeeded without the help of several friends. His sudden potion mastery came from Snape himself, who likely knew that there were attempts being made on Dumbledore and made sure that Harry got the potions book with the helpful hints. All Harry can do is use his invisibility cloak (doesn't it seem odd that he is the only one in the entire wizarding world that has one of those?) and get caught doing it a good half of the time. He is the chosen one why? Oh yeah. Some witch with thick glasses foretold it, though she wasn't able to foretell being thrown out of a room seconds before it happened, she was able to foretell the fate of all wizardkind many, many years in advance. I'm thinking that Trewlany and Dumbledore may just have picked the wrong kid: A three year old with a crayon would be a more formidable opponent.

If Harry Potter, the most inept wizard since Rincewind, is actually the 'Chosen One' then it is a pretty dark day in the wizarding community. If I were the wizarding gods (if they have them, of course) I would have chosen someone more like Hermione Granger. At least Hermione can perform the simplest of spells, even some of the more advanced ones. Harry, on the other hand, was able to call a Patronus at the age of 13, yet somehow completely forgot how by the age of 16. Harry doesn't even know how to repair his own bloody nose. How sad is that? If Harry actually defeats Voldemort in the final book it is gonna take a lot of doing, considering the fact that he seems to know about five spells, only one of which is used for offense, none of which have the ability to kill. Unless the grand finale involves Harry standing around singing old Beatles songs, since, All You Need is Love. As luck would have it, that is all that Harry has. No skill, no ability, but he can love...Where was that three year old with a crayon at again?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A ring is forever

In a previous entry I mentioned that the diamond on my wife's wedding (engagement really) ring was lost. The loss has turned out to be a good thing though.

Now for a bit of the back-story about the ring in question.

I am a cheap bastard through and through. I get annoyed when there are lights left on in rooms that aren't occupied, even knowing that it only costs a couple of cents a day to power a light bulb. I wear a pair of shoes long after my feet begin to stick out the torn seams since they still protect the bottoms of my feet, that is the point of shoes, right? As long as my underwear have a waistband they are still in the rotation, regardless of the number of holes in them. My wife has been trying to help me to change some of the cheap bastard in me, as far as clothes are concerned, and I suppose I do look more presentable when not one (visible) article of clothing has a hole in it. I am still a cheap bastard though.

When I went to find an engagement ring the first thing I did was to throw the two months salary rhetoric right out the window. Not that I don't love my wife, more that I don't see how having a huge rock means that you somehow love her more, in fact it seems to work inversely; the women with the huge diamonds generally have the most adulterous husbands. I was looking for ring set (you know, the engagement ring and wedding band fit together) that was simply very pretty. When I found the one that I bought for her I paid far less than I had expected, but the center stone was quite small, I only found out how small after she lost it when my Mother-in-law said that it was only 1/10th of a karat (which was not what it was advertised as, but judging by the price I paid, and the fact that the Mother-in-law has been in the jewelry business, I must assume that to be true).

When I initially bought the ring I wanted to be able to pay cash for it, my intention was to upgrade the diamond somewhere around our 5th anniversary. I wasn't sure how big of a diamond I would be looking for at that point, but definitely bigger and more sparkly, as the little sliver on what I bought her could barely catch enough light to reflect anything. I have heard people argue that the meaning is lost once you alter the ring, but I simply have to think back to an axe (of all things) that my dad had to disprove that notion.

An axe is a very simple tool, well it used to be. A wooden handle with a metal blade. Yet men take their tools seriously, well they used to, some still do. Tools would pass from generation to generation of men much the way that precious china does among women. I guess all men are cheap bastards at heart though, as the tool never moves to the next generation the same as it was in the last. Take the axe in question for instance. It was allegedly my Great Grandfather's axe. The one he used every day to chop firewood. Through even twenty years of use the axe must have had the handle broken and replaced several times. The blade must have been dulled and re-sharpened to the point that it had to be replaced at least once, yet the tool, which likely had no part of the original was still considered the same tool. Considered so some sixty years later! I suppose that it is possible that my Grandfather touched the same handle as my Great Grandfather, possibly even used the same blade, but at some point Great Grandpa died and Grandpa had to repair the axe himself, slowly making a newer axe that had never been touched by his father, but it was still his father's. Sentiment is a powerful thing.

But back to the ring. The loss of the stone prompted my wife to try to find some replacement estimates, which seem astronomical since some were damn near half of what I paid for the whole thing in the first place. Thankfully, my Mother-in-law stepped in to say that she still had the ring from her broken marriage with my wife's father, and that she could have it for free (which translates to owing a lot of favors but no cash). The diamond on this ring was 1/4th of a karat and a different cut, but it was still far less expensive, while much larger, than the original stone. That stone was added to my wife's ring. The ring looks absolutely gorgeous with the new stone. Many kudos to the Mother-in-law.

My plans to enhance the ring are still not gone though. I may put it off for additional years now that it looks so perfect, but I do have a goal. Among the rhetoric in the diamond commercials it sometimes mentions that less than 10% of women will ever own a diamond of 1 karat or larger size. My wife deserves to be in that less than 10% bracket since she has been 100% perfect to me since the day we met.

At the risk of sounding campy, if love could pay for the diamond, my wife's would be this one. If love is never recognized as currency, however, I may have to set my sights a bit lower.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Using your body in odd ways hurts

No, not like that you sick freak. I just had one leg suspended by a ceiling fan while the other was attached to the far leg of the bed. It was all going well until someone turned on the damn ceiling fan. Ouchers... I only wish I was so flexible.

The action in question is much more mundane; I was trimming the limbs from a tree. That doesn't sound like something that would lead to discomfort, but it sure did. The tree is pretty tall, probably about 18 feet at its highest point, but I was trying to trim away the smaller branches that were growing down instead of up. Since the tree had portions of nearly every limb touching the ground this took quite some time. About thirty minutes into it I had all of the small, off-shoot limbs taken care of, which simply left a huge tree with large branches still touching the ground. Bring on the pain.

I was equipped with both a hand saw and a pair of lopping shears. While the saw was easier, the lopping shears were faster by far. Of course they aren't really designed to be lopping dozens upon dozens of 1.5"-2.5" thick limbs that happen to be above your head, did I let that stop me? Hell no!

Imagine, if you will, trying to do a standard Butterfly press (I apologize for the lack of linkage, thing is I was not able to find an example of someone actually doing the press ((in image form anyway)), all that I was able to find were images of the butterfly stroke ((in swimming)) and pressed butterflies ((in some pseudo art type thing)), I was able to find a machine that allowed you to do the butterfly press for weight training purposes but that would hardly help to illustrate my point), you know, with your arms out to your sides and bent to square at the elbow, the weights are set up so that they are moved by the pads on your forearms. When you bring your arms together (looking like you are praying basically) it burns in your Pectoral muscles. Now imagine a similar action, but above your head. Arms outstretched moving towards the center, but above your head. The Pectoral's sure aren't helping there.

I would like to get into a long-winded rave about how this exercise has helped me in some way, but the fact is that all it has done has made it so that my shoulder hurts so bad that I can hardly move it. If you want to hold a sword above your head and scream "I have the power" then, by all means, do it. Don't try to actually chop shit up while you are doing it though, it will hurt the next day...Mostly in the shoulders.


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