Sunday, January 28, 2007

Updates, But Not Here

I've added a heap O' stuff to our family pics page. You all are of course welcome to look, laugh and point. The Lincoln Park page and later is all new. I also posted a video file to see how well that works, and it's 25MB, so feedback is appreciated.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Freud Surfacing At Ikea

So this weekend we went to Ikea with out of town friends and as we were heading toward the checkout, there was this bed on display with this name: Hopen. Now, please take a moment and say this word out loud. My loving bride pronounced it like "hoping", as in "hoping to get some action in this bed" in that snarky feminine manner that has the subtext of "yes I do, but not with you". All she needed was to do the "L" with her index finger and thumb on her forehead toward me (or my gender generically). [Note: Schmoopie says this is patently unfair as she cheerfully (and indulgently) "gives it up" with a regularity uncommon in couples married as long as we have been. I merely meant to characterize the frustrating rejection I so frequently faced from her gender peers, and not as a reflection of her typical disposition. I offer this clarification in the hope of preserving my fortunate circumstances.] I had prounced it like "hop in", as in "hop in and get some you naughty little vixen. No, don't take off your knee high boots. Yeah I have wax paper and a double ended toothbrush." Err...

Well at any rate, I was surprised at this difference of perspectives and when we passed there with T and C, they also had the same split of views, although with gender inversion relative to Schmoopie and I. My thesis is that in each couple there is a "hoping" personality type and a "hop in" type.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Who Are These People?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I Should've Called 'No Tag Backs!' :)

Well, some folks don't take kindly to tagging, and there appears to be no clearly defined etiquette on these matters. I get emailed memes from Schmoop all the time and I generally don't return them, but normally will at least try to make time when it comes from blogging. That's an odd double standard I'll admit. So I tagged Scott from Oregon a while back and apparently guilt tripped him into a response by virtue of an awful tale of nut trauma. Having aged enough to forget the protocols of tag, I failed to call 'no tag backs'. He's come up with a new meme model that includes aerial photo corroboration. This is my penance.

The time I was nearly shot.

This is a view of the St. Louis Union Station. I used to work at a restaurant that was right in front facing the (Market) street, and had (has?) large windows all along the street side. On the opposite side of the road was a large fountain sculpture that would routinely spray water well outside the fountain pool (as is evidenced by the photo). The local homeless people would bathe in it in the warmer months. This was funny considering how swanky the restaurant was- that folks would spend $20+ per entree (in the late 80's) to look out onto homeless people cleaning themselves and doing their laundry in this fountain. I remember vividly one evening a homless looking man walked up to the outside of the window (remember the movie Trading Spaces?) but instead of looking dejected or longingly at the food on table or the well to do people dining mere inches away on the inside, he whipped out his dick and pissed on the glass in a trajectory that would have (glass not withstanding) soaked the meal. The folks at the table were trying their best to ignore the guy, but some woman at another table started screaming and it everyone freaked. By the time anyone of authority could chase him off, he was done, and I was nearly sacked for laughing. This happened about where the word "me" is shown, but that's not the story I'm writing about. My busboy got stabbed in the face one night just to the right of the word "me" as he was leaving through the front door to go to the parking lot we all used marked with a green "X" as well, but that's not the story either.

My story, selfishly, is about the night I was shot at. Apparently someone near the red "X" on the right was in disagreement with someone near the left red "X" and decided to resolve the matter in a natural St. Louis fashion, gunplay. Completely unaware of this, I was leaving work late one night and was heading to the green "X" where I'd parked, and walked into the line of fire. I could swear to you that I heard the Doppeler Effect of the bullet, and dopey me, I stopped there to try and figure out what had just happened. So there I stood perplexed waiting for the sound to be repeated for further analysis and in harms way. Thankfully, the party on the left had sized up the situation more swiftly than I had and fled accordingly. This caused the party on the right to lose interest, or perhaps not wanting to answer questions (I know this motivation), they left too. So, with my catlike reflexes, I had a handle on the moment once the moment was over. In a cold sweat I drove home. And I didn't do my homework.

"Can I Take It To The Bridge?"

This is a photo of "the bridge" and this is home to several stories. This is the place where competitive freight train urinating was born [the rules are simple, how many freightcars can you partially or completely cover with urine without stopping. My best was 21- it was a fast moving train]. This was where my buddy Don and I spent countless hours discussing all matters of varying importance- ways to get booze, chix, drugs, and the designated hitter rule. This was where we moved a discarded couch onto the tracks and saw the hidden hydraulic arms on the front of the locomotive send the couch flying (and we got shot at with rock salt). It was a public road that never got used, and is sort of hidden within a private golf course. The golf course people weren't thrilled with us hanging out there and initially tried to hassle us out of there, but I've always been pig headed. Eventually they gave up since we never did anything to the golf course and would just offer us glaring looks as they went by.

In case you are wondering about the blue "X", I'll only say a gentleman never tells, and I won't either. Let's just say that the color is appropriate from a thermal point of view, and for further details you can inquire with Schmoopie

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Typically Surreal Travels With Stucco

So I'm back from my trip to Phoenix and San Jose, and true to form it was rife with weirdness. I got to Phoenix easily enough and was actually in a small town north of Phoenix that only had one hotel. Thankfully, it was among the better hotels I've seen lately (the ordinary Hampton Inn there spanks some of the four star craptastic snooty bins I've used recently). There is a weird identity crisis these days with US Airlines and America West. I guess they've merged or something, but the upholstery all said America West (as did the outside of the plane, and the people all said and were dressed in US Air what not. The only thing noteworthy about this was the forced captive audience advertising prior to the instructional safety video. By the way, why is it that the stewardesses no longer have to do the air mask genuflect now? Just because it's retarded doesn't mean that they should be excused from this routine. Yes, their jobs should suck- the outfits, the mandated scary makeup and too much perfume, the freaky passengers, turf wars in the overhead bins, and the auctioneer style "buh bye, buh bye, buh bye, buh bye now..." That's the drill- I want that job to suck. After the misery the mouth breathing retards from the TSA put me through, I want to see some indignant suffering for redemption, and it needs to be someone from the airline industry.

So I get to Phoenix and get to work, and that's got some drama. My predecessor left some bad juju behind for me to get through, the most frightening of which had me believing that I'd somehow lost all of this salespersons emails. I didn't have any idea how exactly I might have accomplished this, but I was sweating bullets none the less. Turns out that the predecessor had been having trouble last time he was there and at that time made this user a second mailbox (which I have no eyes on, since my predecessor hosts our email, even though he's not an employee any more - *sigh*). So, inadvertent sabotage aside, the work went smoothly enough. I decided to take our remote staffer and her husband to lunch and that brings us to the car I rented. The ridiculous car. The uncomfortable, noisy, clown car. The Dodge Caliber.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not averse to Chrysler overall, but this car is a blight on the marque. The fine sheisters at Thrifty car rental characterize this as a "Mid Size" car. Bullshit. Pygmies would feel claustrophobic in this tin can. The doors sound like metal drum lids slamming when you close the doors. [disclosure- I'm 6'3" and about 275] With the seat all the way back and reclined to the point I could just reach the top of the steering wheel, I still had no leg room to speak of, and my right knee rested against a pointy mould of the console.

Note the bevel of cruelty. Into this plastic preposterousness we three tried in vein to find comfort.

If this car had a sunroof, I could have driven with my head out the top. Now, in addition to being NOT a midsize car, being woefully underpowered, being noisy, and offering uninspiring handling, it has a gimmick. It has a beverage cooler.

That's what Chrysler calls it. What are you thinking right now? An insulated area that holds beverages with some kind of refrigeration system? That was the direction I was going. What it really is, is more laughable. Imagine a hole from the glove box to the passenger side AC vent. To cool the beverages, you have to close off the passenger side vent to direct the air to the glove box soda rack. Umm... What? Can you actually cool a beverage with an AC vent? In an otherwise hot glove box? In the sun, in Phoenix? Recockulous. Why not hire a mouth breather to exhale on your drink while holding an ice cube on their tongue? That'd probably be more effective.

Well, so it sucked out loud, but what the hell. I got back to the airport in Phoenix, ready to head to Oakland. After one of the longest security screen lines I may have ever endured, I hustled to the gate and got on the plane, just in time to sit there at the gate for about 90 minutes. (Incidentally, after several flights, America West/US Airways is now batting 0% in terms of on-time performance) I was seated in the middle, which is right where you want the semi-claustrophibic huge fat guy. I was forward of the wing and could see some of the activity. Apparently there was an "issue with the flaps" that needed to be repaired before we could leave the gate. Good thing they didn't let us mill about in the concourse in comfort until they got the shit handled. We deserved to be elbow wrestling in the hot and stinky cabin, surely.

The repair men were mouth breathers too, and they would walk in and out of the aircraft via the baggage loading ramp to a golf cart that held the toolbox. A smallish toolbox. God forbid they take the tools INSIDE the plane. (*sigh*) At any rate, the repair required hammers. Big hammers. They'd disappear into the aircraft and then BANG BANG BANG BANG! My ass was tightening with each strike, and it felt like they were directly beneath me. They'd stop hammering and go back to the toolbox and sort through the wrenches, not finding anything that suited them, then they'd go back in to hammer some more. Finally, they pulled out some kidney shaped green metal paddle looking thing that was in three pieces. They puzzled over them at the golfcart for a little while, as if they were trying to deduce how they had once fit together with springs. I was thinking that if the plane were to go down, that this would surely be the reason why. Never before have I been so hopeful about the hammering ability of others. The remainder of the flight was stuffy, crowded, very late, and uneventful.

In Oakland, I needed to rent a car to get to San Jose. I had to cleanse the taint of the Caliber from myself, so I rented a Chrysler 300.

Two words: Daddy like.

Schmoopie says it's an old white man's car, and I'm telling her that she's clearly never seen one fully pimped out. I could still maintain my "get down" with this car. Some spinning wheel deals (featuring tires so small it's look like a rubber band over a rim), aftermarket grille, chrome stuff, curb feelers- whatever. Also, it's worth noting that I'm an old white man- 39 at the end of the month, how the hell did that happen? I look at hot young chix now and find myself thinking "nope- too young" I never thought I'd see this stage of life. So, a drive down the 880 and back and it's time for a nice dinner with mom. In the morning it's time to go home.

To cleanse the taint of the sardine flight, I decided to pony up the $50 and upgrade to first class. Damn, that's the way to travel. Alaska Air. I was sitting near the window in the second row and there were two women probably in their late 50's who were speaking loudly to one another the whole flight. They were each in a window seat, and wouldn't move closer. If there was money in it for them, they couldn't have been more vapid and shallow. The one in front of me was the instigator. She managed a band that included her husband. It was called "Maxx Hazzard" (she repeatedly spelled it) and their motto was "Blues that roxx". They opened the (unspecified) county fair. They played a birthday party for someone named Leonard (I think it was Leonard, but who knows?) The woman was distributing CD's to anyone she spoke with. I faced out the window in an effort to not get sucked in.

So the loud woman prattled on about: the titanium disc in her back, her breast reduction surgery, favorite plastic surgeon, the plastic surgeon that did the eye lift for the other woman, Maxx Hazzard's web site that she made herself, Walla Walla, Alaska, Las Vegas, jewelry, and where anyone had last seen her drivers license. She lost it somewhere and the last 30 minutes of the flight she was consumed trying to find it. It was like an audio car accident. I couldn't stop hearing it- I mean there was no way of NOT hearing it, but I have a problem with sounds in that I'm unable to disregard them. I can't read while the television or radio are on. I can't "tune things out". I am a prisoner of my ears, and this woman took me hostage.

So now I'm back home and life is good again. I've been tagged in absentia by Scott from Oregon, and I'll get to that next. Really.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Fuck Disney

Rot in hell, Walt

My hate for Disney is longstanding, and this is yet another reason why.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Academic Tyrrany

I was reading Slaghammers latest post, and I started to reply with a little anecdote, and it got kinda lengthy so I decided to make a post of it. He was writing about a really lovely time he'd had in the sixth grade with a psychotic principle (are there any other kind?) and it reminded me of a similar event from my youth.

When I was about that age, I had this terrible little crippled man as a vice-principle. True to my character, I never gave him a shred of credit or respect (no, I didn't mock his handicapped condition- just the things he said and did). Being that I was about 6' tall in the sixth grade, he wasn't initially willing to deal with me, and I was afforded a great deal of slack. This well finally ran dry and he lost his stack with me one day and dragged me to his office whereupon he called my mother. At work. Really a bad move. It apparently never occured to him that these attitude things might have a genetic element, and that I might be a dilution of the source. At the time, my mother was working in a blood bank doing type matching for surgeries or some literally "life and death" sort of work. Gimpy called her and proceeded to deliver an oratory about my maladjusted and harmful disposition. It really wasn't a half-bad rant (trust me, I would know), and my mother took it all in quietly (apparently working while listening) and this encouraged him to keep it rolling. There are lots of people who like to hear themselves gas on, and I think this guy was their leader. I bore witness to this rambling oratory for maybe ten minutes or so, and then it happened- he paused.

That's when she got a word in edgewise. Oops. Know this- not only was I raised with tales of disgust and trauma from the medical examiners office while the family ate dinner, but my mother could make a sailor blush when it comes to delivering a profanity laiden dressing down. This little crippled man had no idea what he'd invited upon himself. Surely he thought that I was ashamed of myself and embarassed to be in his office while he harrangued my mother on the phone. Surely she was a housefrau with a demure civility that would kowtow to his eminently educated and poorly thought out views on education (and, for the record, to date the only teacher or academic administrator I've agreed with about the institutions of academia has been John Taylor Gatto). Well, all of us make mistakes- but maybe none so big.

He didn't have a speakerphone, but once she began he didn't need one. The color left his face. He had been reclining, he had been enjoying the scenery while speaking. He now sat as erect as his twisted torso permitted. The knuckles of the hand holding the phone went taught and white. I could hear her too, but as I had been on the receiving end of her wrath so often before, I had none of the sphincter-puckering distress he was showing. Sort of like being acclimated to mustard gas. I watched with some measure of satisfaction as my mom turned this little tyrant into a stammering panicy nancy boy.

While I couldn't hear it word for word, the parts I heard clearly where priceless. At one point this gimpy vice principle said something that I expect a lot of teachers and administrators feel, but probably have the sense not to say out loud in front of people who can actually think- he said that the job of the school was to "socialize" the students. Not even that this was AMONG the jobs of the school, but that this was THE job of the school. Oh, that's gonna leave a mark...

She shouted "Listen you dumb little pissant, the job of the schools is not to 'socialize' the students. The job of the schools is to FUCKING EDUCATE THEM!" At this point he was holding the phone about a foot from his ear and this sentence could probably be heard by passersby on the other side of his closed door. There was more of course- this was back in the era of political equal time, and my mom was hell bent on matching his speaking time, but with more colorful lingo. I heard her call him a "little Hitler", which was prescient since she had no idea that he was so little. She explained in vivid terms that while he was gassing on, she was doing something productive (with the blood matching. This was often a hasty deal, since she was working for a place that took in lots of trauma cases, and frequently the speed in which she did her work made a difference in whether or not someone lived or died). She made some not-so-veiled threats about what would happen should HE ever need blood, and suggested that if he wanted to help society, he should kill himslef in a way that preserved his organs for someone more deserving.

By the time it was all over, he hung up the phone and stared at it for a moment in silence. Then he realized I was still there, smirk intact. He defeatedly said I could go, and prick that I am, I waited for him to say it again like I didn't hear him. I expected him to shout at me, or at least show a little rage, but he had none- he was completely defeated. He again said I could go in almost a whisper. I'm not the sort to kick folks when they are down, so I left. I remember being surprised at how he had no fight left in him, and in that sense this was a formative moment. My impression of will- that is to say the will of individual people, is framed by that day. It is now my belief that most people (particularly those who bark the loudest with indignant rage) are paper tigers. You push back against these people and they fold. Rarely you'll enounter people who are loud and indignant and they also are nuts. Being able to distinguish between these two types is critical.

That's what I learned in sixth grade. Oh yeah- that's also when I discovered pot.