Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crum Answers The Question

Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Answer Bag data base and archives I stumbled upon the burning question of the day. A question that has needed an answer for a long time. Until now, a question that has stymied all who have puzzled over the why of it. For your benefit and to boost my ego and standing among the icons of intellectuality, I offer up for your praise and admiration this:

Why do old men wear their pants higher than young men do?

The final answer ~> I have pondered this before. I figure it must have something to do with the chemical changes in the brain as they age. Specific chemicals fail to mix as they used to or are mixing in different amounts. Anyway the result is that the old geezers have an uncontrollable urge to buy pants with longer legs than the last pair they bought. And thus have to hitch them up ever higher to avoid tripping on the cuffs.

I have, through exhaustive study, come up with a formula that by measuring the distance from the nipples to the belt, one can discern their age without asking. Anything closer than 2 inches indicates they are at least 70.

Of course the sample groups I take my measurements from often do not like my efforts in the name of science. They will often put up a struggle. But I find if you place both knees gently but firmly on their bellies, a quick and relatively painless measurement can be taken. In 15 seconds they are back on their feet, free to shuffle back into the wilds of the mall.

Later.......................

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spilled Coffee

I don't expect the people I want to read this to read it. But I will write it anyway. Maybe by putting it into words I will understand how I feel with more clarity.

It would appear my Mental Midgets post ruffled some feathers. No one commented their displeasure, they just grabbed their toys and went home. Taking with them their previous compliment of being a follower of my blog with them.

I was disappointed. Especially with one of them. He had been I think my very first follower. His little avatar will be missed. I wish him well in all he pursues, but I stand by the anger I displayed in my post. It was not aimed at him, but at the political party he affiliates himself with. He does not care that I would and will say the same thing about Democrats if I feel they are being boneheads. I have insulted his party, so I have insulted him. The other blogger who has decided to leave in a huff is fairly new and well being honest, I never felt the same connection I did with my old guy from California.

What I find humorous though is both of them pretend to be open and thick skinned. Apparently not. Of course I could be reading more into this than I am. That is certainly possible. But I think I am correct in my evaluation of the situation. Should I be wrong, they only have to comment to set the record straight. I hit a nerve, struck an unpleasant chord, challenged some precious notion. Something about the quick exit told me it was a complete and irrevocable. I am no longer on their fav's list.

So I move on. But as I am prone to do, I often chew on things until I just cannot chew on them anymore and have to spit it out somewhere. My blog is the perfect spittoon after all, so here it is.

The whole idea of relationships took on a definite new twist with the growth and development of the Internet. No longer do we have to actually be face to face or on the phone to interact with people. No longer do we have to wait for the mail man to come to keep that long distance connection going. Instant hook up through the magic of the computer.

The myriad of new ways to make friends and enemies is impressive. Chat rooms, forums, newsgroups, twitter, blogs, the list I am sure is large. Internet sex I understand is hot right now. How this is possible boggles my mind. All I can think of is it is self service in tandem. But there it is. Seems many folks love being intimate without the intimacy of physical contact. We have many more voyeurs than we thought in our midst. People who want to lurk but not give of themselves.

What makes for a good relationship I wonder. Specifically a good relationship on the Internet? I have thought about this and though I do feel we are better off as a culture with so many people interacting via the WWW, I don't think I would call what most get here as building a "good" relationship. We build temporary relationships more often than not. Relationships that often do not reflect who we are but who we would like others to think we are. The lack of honest and candid interaction builds connections based on false premises. And that is fine I guess. Many folks do not want the obvious complications a deeper relationship can create. After all they have their real lives they have to deal with.

But then I run into people who I can tell are most likely the same person on the Internet as they are off. Several people whose blogs I visit and also visit mine are like that. They read others words and tell them what they think. Honesty at the price of possibly not being welcome anymore. Or they may not say what is on their minds, but they allow others to say what is on theirs without getting a burr across their butt. And while I may only end up with temporary custody of their attention and them a brief taste of mine, I do believe I have done what I came here to do. Locate folks willing to tell me what they really think. And I guess the quick exit tells me what they think. But if it was me I think I would have at least told me I was wrong. Their huffy silence just helps to reinforce the negative image. And I know they do not deserve it. But there it is.

I started this odd post with an idea of finding some clarity. It seems all I did was create more questions for myself to chew on. Oh well. Now where's that spittoon?

Later.............

(819 / 18,466)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Damn that Groundhog

The weather crew over to Channel 6 have been screwin the pooch and blowing it this last last week or so. Last week, they started off just fine. Predicted 6 to 10 inches of snow and we got about 8 inches, maybe 9 inches. I would say they nailed it.

However, the next day, I awoke to another 6 inches of snow. Really pissed now, I turn on the morning news and Kevin Mannix is all shuffling his feet and you could tell he was having a tough time looking me in the eye. "Sorry about that, this one caught us by surprise. We really thought it was only going to flurry". Mumbling something hateful and probably illegal in at least a few states, I walked downstairs and for the second day in a row pulled on my snow removal uniform and prepared to one more time find the driveway if I could. "Flurries, my ass. You loser overpaid ......." And my hate of all weathermen sustained me in my early morning struggle to clear a path so my darling could go on her merry way.

Our weather folks are more often than not fairly accurate with what they see coming our way. What with all the high falutin help they got. Satellites, Sonar, Zonar, Gondar, jeez, I don't know what they are called, but they have all sorts of hi tech wizardry that lets them know more information than I care to know. Tell me if it is going to snow, rain, or be clear. A rough idea of how much snow is helpful. But telling us we are going to get slammed is key.

Starting last Friday, all the weathermen, still smarting from being caught with their weatherman pants down, are very quick and on the ball warning us of the snow I woke up to this morning. They gave us plenty of notice. The spiffy map they put up with snowfall amounts in the various areas did not waver one inch right up to post time. I went about my business last night as usual knowing I could expect no more than 8 inches of snow, and more likely only 4 or 5 inches.

About 9:00 PM, we lost power. No big deal, happens two or three times each winter. Pull out the candles, the kerosene lamps, check the sump hole for no good reason because whatever happens happens, and then go to bed early. Internet, TV and any other electrical devices used in the late evenings are no longer accessible.

Since I actually passed out before midnight, my body dutifully woke me up around 3:30 AM. It has decided that any more than 4 hours is a luxury I should not have anymore. So I wake up. In a half awake daze I don't notice the snow on the windows as I stumble to the kitchen for some dry mouth relief. Secure some water and walk to the front door just to check on the progress of the snow fall. I open the door and damn, had to be 20 to 24 inches of new snow clogging the walk. The wind is blowing waves of white out by like a strobe light. And it's cold standing there in bare feet on the stone porch probably looking as dumb as I felt.

Living in paradise I guess has some down sides on occasion. No matter what paradise you care to live in. I know this and am usually right tolerant of the price Mother Nature extracts from us for giving us such a wonderful place to live. But come on. It's February, late-ish February. And in the last 5 days we have had 34" at the least of the white crap. By this time of the season, I am mentally already planting a garden, riding my bike without studs, or dreaming of swatting black flies. Spending what will be at least a five hour snow removal chore in the morning is not what I wanted out of my Monday. I guess it doesn't matter what I want. It's what Mother Nature wants. One more incontrovertible proof that we are not the masters of our domain.



Keep it 'tween the Ditches........

(698 / 17647)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mental Midgets

I have officially given up trying to convince anyone on either side of the political fence they should work together. It is obvious to me there is no interest. The Democrats are quietly stubborn as they refuse to budge very much. It is their show right now and I can understand their less than enthusiastic efforts to reach across. I don't like it, but I understand it given how their opponents act on a day to day basis.

The Republicans are never quiet. They used to be. They used to get their way without fanfare or temper tantrums. That changed back when Ronnie and his Clown Dancers brought their adversarial mentality to the party. It has gotten to the point that no matter if they are on top or sucking hind tit, they are loud and obnoxious. When in charge, they strut and belittle anything not sanctioned by the Neocon God. When they have lost and are out for the time being, they pout and shout like bad children. And still they belittle any who would hold a different view.

I really have tried to see both sides. At one time or another I have been on both sides. And still, I am not scared to vote for either if it fits into my political perception. I also know that both parties have their less than logical foibles. Both have the capacity to allow ideology to get in the way of common sense. But now after 28 years of watching Republicans turn into a mindless angry mob, I would say the root of most our troubles can be laid at their door. Their chest pounding "go ahead cross that line" inflexibility has created more harm than good.

I have long been an advocate of finding a way to establish a viable third party. A centrist party that focuses on solutions first, ideologies second. A third party that would force the other two to not get lost in their own ideologies to the detriment of the US population. Now I will just hope that the Republican Party burns itself up with it's over the top loyalty to itself. I will hope that the more they rant and rave, their obvious party first, country second attitude will cause many of the faithful to become disillusioned and leave to find their political fix elsewhere.

So from now on I do not plan to punish myself trying to see their side. If their position cannot be calmly and civilly laid out, I will turn them off. Maybe the loss of one semi-sympathetic ear means nothing. But they continue this bullshit and this one ear going deaf may just turn into many ears going deaf. And regardless of what either side thinks about us fence sitters, we are the magic that puts them in the majority or relegates them to the minority. Neither base has the capacity to do it all for them.

So go ahead you Republicans. Throw your hissy fits. Stand in the way just to stand in the way. You are not only harming the country you are harming yourselves. Any one of you who wants my vote from now on will have to do more than say what I want to hear. I might just insist you get on your knees and beg.

Some hints on what to do in my opinion

~Stop with the slogans aimed at IQs under 90

~Stop trying to own patriotism. Your actions over the years have proven you have no right to it. Party loyalty alone is hardly Patriotism.

~Stop the fringes from running the party. You know who they are. Give them a chance to tone it down, or give them the boot.

~Stop denigrating intelligence. It makes you look as stupid as you act.

~Cut your hypocrisy to a minimum. I know this is tough for both sides. But if your party should be rewarded with ownership of anything, hypocrisy would lead the list.

~Before challenging the ethics of the Democrats, challenge your own first.

~Instead of insisting that your members in Congress follow the party line, allow them to first think of what their constituents want. Read the above suggestion if this confuses you.

~Try to think about the American people as one group instead of thinking of them as Democrats or Republicans. Many of us are neither and it would be a good idea for you to keep that in mind.

I could keep going. But what's the point? You have chosen to hear only the messages sent to you by the Party hotline. You have stopped worrying what America as a whole wants. And so, I close with my refusal to give you the time of day anymore.

See ya..............................

(789 / 16,949)

Friday, February 20, 2009

W.W.W.

There are so many distractions and places to lose oneself on the World Wide Web. I can get sucked into some new stupidity and before I know it, several days, weeks, months have passed.

It all started with newsgroups back the 1990s on a computer with a dial up modem that I was charged 10 cents a minute to use. That first phone bill was scary. My wonderful wife was not impressed.

A faster computer and a faster modem combined with a monthly charge for the time turned me into a surfing monster. I'd say I checked every corner of the Internet, only I know that is basically impossible. But it was not for the lack of trying.

Political forums, Bike forums, Shaving forums,computer forums, blogging, and now a place to answer and ask questions. All this sensory input has me reeling. At some point I expect to be the smartest man in the World or prove I am indeed the dumbest for all the time I spend wandering around in the ether.

I won't resolve anything doing this. I won't change any one's mind doing this. And at some point, the information I suck in will back up and start coming out of my ears. Yet I cannot seem to rein in my fascination or involvement with this man made electronic depository of our collective knowledge. It's like the coolest Library I ever stepped into.

Each new row I walk down, I find another new twist on the notion of exchanging ideas. The possibilities not only seem endless, it appears they are indeed endless. It will be interesting to see how this global library affects the next 20 years on this planet. After experiencing that one futurist's perceptions, I would say we do not even know how profound the effect of the Internet will be in the years to come. He thought it would collect our minds and end up doing more to resolve our differences than any other single innovation.

If we can communicate without interference from governments, businesses, etc, we might just realize that all of us really are not much different from each other. We all want the same basic things. We just need some time and a mechanism to realize this. The mechanism is in place, now all we need do is give it some time.

Later......

(392 / 16,160)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Do You Feel About Toast?

I found this new site to waste time in. It's called Answerbag.com. A site of a million questions and millions of answers. At least it seems that way. The questions are posed by flounders like me and answered by flounders like me. The questions range from damn interesting to about as dumb a question as you will ever read in print.

In order to build interest and keep folks coming back, it has a convoluted system of points you can earn for good answers, good questions, and just participating. You can also get negative points from people who don't like your answers or your questions. I was into it for several days before I even had a clue about the points thing. I was answering questions just because someone asked. If you are opinionated like me, this place is opinion heaven. Watch out though. Piss off the wrong person who has a higher level and you can get slapped down hard when they take away points from your total.

So far I have done okay. I reached the second level today and well, I guess that makes me not the new guy anymore.

A couple of decent ones

Can Terrorism be considered a legitmate means of warfare?

Why do Americans hate Socialism so?

And a couple of, well, other ones

If A guy tries to get a girl in bed the same day they met, should the girl take this as a compliment?

How do you feel about toast? Be honest.

There seems to be no end of subjects that people ask questions about. From silly to serious, this site is like the ultimate one minute forum site. One hit answer and you are out of there. Or you can linger and make comments on other answers or your own.

If I get my nerve up, there is one question I have been chewing on for several days now. I thought about it but could only come up with the one answer I had right from the beginning

Just what do you suppose might go through your mind if you were standing buck naked at the Bus Stop in wing tips and argyle socks?

My Answer - Well the other day I thought I probably should have worn warmer socks.

Later................

(380 / 15,768)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Pretend Republican?


Okay, so she's only a pretend Republican in the eyes of the puritans who cast critical eyes and harsh judgement based on how many Bibles we read this week or how many pregnant women on welfare we kicked in the last month. There is a quota system you know.

But she is a registered Republican representing Maine in the Senate. As one of the three Republicans who dared to cross party lines and vote for the Stimulating Economic Vibrator, Olympia Snowe has just gained even more stature in my jaundiced eye. She bucked her own party. That had to be a tough decision. I understand there is a special place in Hell reserved for traitors to the cause. They make them sit with the Democrats ensconced there.

But if you would care to, check our Olympia Snowe's recent interview by a local TV station. It is interesting and somewhat revealing about some of the things Obama is doing that is not business as usual inside The Beltway.

From her words I get the impression Obama has indeed been genuine in his efforts to reach across the aisle. Her fear it seems is that this recent Republican refusal to play will cause him to stop trying. Many on both sides are calling for him to stop and just do what he wants. She says it would be the wrong thing to do. The poisonous atmosphere that has been created in Congress over the last many years has to change. And someone has to start the ball rolling. I get the feeling she sees Obama as that person.

The personal involvement that Obama has engaged in when dealing with Congress is one thing she thinks should continue. The one on one meetings, the round table discussions, the active personal engagement. Something she contends has been missing from the politics down there for far too long.

Olympia is a real veteran of the DC jungle wars. She has been there for what seems like forever. She has ridden the rise of her party and now hangs on as it falls on it's hardheaded face. She is not happy with the situation. At least I get that feeling anyway.

See Ya.........

(363 / 15,388)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Passing The Buck

I suppose it was inevitable. The rest of the World is lining up to blame the US for this recent worldwide economic crisis. In that all of us were willing participants in the Ponzi scheme of making more money from money that did not exist in the first place, I would say the blame can be shared by most if not all the big players. They all got on the greed train with us. Just because we led the charge, does not mean they had to follow. Where is their ownership of responsibility?

Remember the 1980s and Japan's rise to super economic engine and how everyone envied their status? Remember how many US companies attempted to bring in the Japanese corporate model and how it wouldn't work with the mindset we have in this country? Then Japan stumbled. During their recovery, one thing they did was they began to outsource their jobs to cheaper labor markets. Wow. Seems they were following the US model after all.

That was the beginning of the end of in country economies. Of course there had been inter-dependence for years, but nothing like what took on a head of steam in the 1990's. Suddenly, everyones economy depended more and more on the economy of other countries. This went on through the 1990s with mutual dependence taking on more of the responsibility of keeping all of us afloat. A ripple created in Sri Lanka would build to a real wave in Singapore, which would then be passed to Japan or to the US.

The signals were there people. Our world leaders in government and business chose to ignore them. And now it is all the USA's fault. Right.

You know, I am sick and tired of being the World's scapegoat. I actually look forward to the day when we can blame some other country for all our self inflicted troubles. There is a lot to blame the US for. But in the scheme of who really should bear the brunt, it seems to me all these countries participated of their own free will. That they blame someone else is just passing the buck.

I do not consider myself more than average intelligent. I do not pretend to understand the intricacies of high finance or the inner workings of multi-national corporations. But one thing I do notice is when the power shifts from one entity to another. I wonder if our current troubles are not directly related to how much power the huge corporations, financial and producing, have gathered over the last fifteen years. It seems that countries everywhere have ceded entirely too much power to these huge corporations. Regulations of all kinds have been dropped or ignored as each country romanced these companies trying to lure them to set up shop. By giving them basically free run of the country, that is what the companies did, they took what they could and moved on. All the while building false images of how solid their corporate model was. And because every country was eager to get their piece of the pie, any vetting done before they set up shop was often only a token gesture.

In my opinion, the World has given up power to the pursuit of money. Ideologies have been pushed to the side or tweaked to accommodate the new economic models (China). All in the pursuit of creating a more comfortable existence for them and their population. The line between government and the private sector has blurred to the point where in many countries it is hard to tell the difference.

So get off this blame the US crap. You idiots in the rest of the World wanted what we have. Now that you have it, you are blaming us. Give me a break.

An afterthought or maybe a request - This is my opinion based on my pitiful knowledge of the over all situation. I would welcome input as to where I may be off target or hey even on target.

Keep it 'tween the ditches..............

(647 / 15,025)

Monday, February 16, 2009

A 6,000 Year Old Rock

Another blogger has sparked a fire under me. Hit one of those buttons that gets the engine sputtering and coughing. Dana, over to Life is Good mentioned her conversation with her minister about an upcoming talk by a renowned Creationist. This man would convince all who listened that the Earth is indeed only 6,000 to 10,000 years old.

Bless her heart, Dana was not to be convinced. She obviously is a churchgoing woman. But she is one who has her head screwed on properly when it comes to her religious views. Just the fact she agrees the World is not 6,000 years old and that a little sin never really hurts us that much convinces me of this. Reasonable and realistic faith such as hers seems to me to be just the kind of faith a decent god would be looking for.

This "age of the Earth" issue is one of those subjects I usually just keep locked away in my "who cares" file. Of all the stupidity to get panties in a bunch over, how old the Earth is seems to be about the least important one. It's akin to trying to convince me that it only took six days to make this place. And that on the seventh, The Man took a break, sat in a barco-lounger and sipped cool drinks while he contemplated what he had just done.

The truth just does not flippin matter. To either side of this flash point issue. Rather than accepting the difference in opinion, they would rather waste time trying to convince each other they are right. I swear if there are two things God must have put in play just because he is really an evil bastard would be bestowing politics and religion on us. He had to do this because in reality he has a very sick sense of humor. I would say his comedic interests run to the slap stick side, Three Stooges type comedy. Eye pokin, head bonkin, fall on our butts humor.

Now say that this World is nothing but the accidental confluence of the right chemicals blending together and through their interactions over 4 billion years, the result is us. Put like that I can see why many people who have been hoodwinked from birth that this construction project only took 6 days might raise an eyebrow. But as a disinterested member of the audience, I have to say the people who push the 4 billion year idea have worked a lot harder to prove their point than the folks who believed the first thing they read. If I am to reward my belief on just effort alone, I am sorry but the evolutionists get my vote. They earned it.

The evolutionists say they have all these tools and data to back up thier take. Mathematics for instance. Well we all know after suffering through Math classes as youths, Math is definitely a tool of Satan. So then they say they have a way of telling the age of a rock. First of all, if knowing the age of rock is one of their thrills, I would say they are in need of serious recreation. But anyway, they insist they can discern how old a rock is. Fine. But then they use some kind of chemical magic based on Satanic mathematical formulas and something called carbon deteriation and, blah, blah, blah. Pretty soon it takes on the same kind of mind numbing language found in the Good Book. Instead of "go forth and multiply" it's "through the re-alignment of molecules in the center of the matter, we see extraneous particles exiting at high rates of velocity. We call them snarks and that proves the World is populated through sexual procreation." My eyes roll up into my head when either of them get past certain levels of conversation. As far as I am concerned both of them are tools of Satan. Both use magic to prove their points. And the only thing that really exists is me. And sometimes I am not even sure of that.

Later...............

(681 / 14,378)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday

In search of a topic today, I utilized my recent fascination for commenting on the day itself. My Superstition post was sparked by it being Friday the 13th. I had a Valentine's Day post planned yesterday, but my automatic posting thingy inside the blogger thingy posted my Deadtown piece before I could turn it off or delay it to another day. I have put off posting it for at least a couple of weeks. I kept fiddlin with it. I guess Blogger got fed up with my continued bumping of it and published it fer chrisakes.

I was going to remove the Deadtown post, but noticed BBC had posted a couple of comments regarding the length of the post and how I was failing to score with my woman. So, I left it and shit-canned the Valentine's Day post. I mean BBC took all that time out of his day to not read the post and then comment on that fact, I figured it would be impolite to remove something he had no interest in.

So earlier today I decided today's post would be about Sunday. Funny how many of the things we take for granted, we know so little about. Sunday, one of the seven days of the week. Stuck between Saturday and Monday, it holds a very unique place in the week, our lives, our history. There are many versions of it's origins, and many different roles it has played as it evolved into the day it is today. Wiki covers it in their usual way, so I won't get into regurgitating that which they have already done. Hit the link if you want the history.

When I was a kid, Sunday was one of the two days a week I did not have to go to school. But of the two weekend days, Sunday definitely sucked hind tit to Saturday. Saturday was morning cartoons, afternoon matinees down to the Rialto, or often the beginning of a cool overnight trip somewhere. Sundays were okay, but they often started off on the wrong foot with, yeah, school. Sunday School. Damn, I hated Sunday School. Since I lived so many different places as a child, my discontent ranged from tolerating it to out and out rebelling. I would often sneak off and ruin my Sunday School duds by getting into some illegal dirty kid stuff. I think I was the target for more parental tempers on Sundays than any other day of the week.

This traditional five days on, two days off thing went on right through my college days, only they became five days of school, two days of work. Suddenly Sunday was not a day of rest and relaxation, but a day I used to try and put some jingle in my pocket or someone else's pocket. Sunday had now morphed into just another day of the week and put the final touch on my general outlook on the passing of time, SSDD (Same Shit Different Day).

I continued my efforts of burying Sunday deep into the seven day week by going on the road driving trucks. On the road, Sunday became my favorite work day. I would do my driving at night or early in the morning whenever possible and lay up somewhere during daylight to allow as many four wheelers the luxury of not having to exist on the same highway as I did. There is definitely something to the idea of "Sunday Drivers". Returning home from whatever distraction they have been involved in often made them less than attentive to driving a straight or coherent line. I avoided the super slab on Sundays during the day.

I have worked hard my whole adult life to make Sunday my day. I don't give it to the Lord. I figure he has a big enough fan base. Another slacker will not matter. Besides, two hours spent with head bent and hands clasped asking forgiveness from some being I have no idea even exists seems odd. Two hours a week will not purge whatever sins I committed the previous 166 hours. He wants a break down then let him monitor me. And besides, we all know we are sinners. Do we even think he doesn't? Going to church seems like telling him something he already knows.

It was not until I found the one leisure activity that would dictate my last 20 years on this planet that Sunday truly became a special day for me. Sunday became my day to ride my bike. I may have ridden on other days of the week, but those rides were squeezed in and around the other activities that filled the week. Anything done on Sunday was wrapped around "The Sunday Ride". For basically 17 years this has been my routine. Not every Sunday, but enough so that when I do not ride, a deep sense of guilt settles in. Maybe something like what the faithful feel when they cannot or do not go to church.

The Sunday Ride became my vehicle of worship. The great outdoors, my church. The wind, sun, rain became the sermons I listened to as I struggled to make it from someplace to no place in particular. Stopping for a moment at some post card spot. Taking in the magnificent view of a world at peace in that place for that moment would bring peace and magnificence to my soul. The Sunday Ride became my religion, my time to regain my center.

In the last couple of years it seems I have suffered a loss of faith. As my bike shop began to circle the drain, my lack of enthusiasm for it began to taint my love of the sport. The Sunday Ride began to become a chore. It began to look a lot like work. An obligation I would often fulfill but without any zeal. I would still enjoy the ride, but I often came back without that feeling of replenishment, purged stress, whatever it is/was that eats at me most days of the week.

Life is all about new beginnings. I am sure that is why we are given more time than is necessary to just keep the species going. We have new possibilities and second chances pop up with every sunrise. So, after I finish this and before I post, I am pulling out "The Blizzard" and going for a ride. Forget the fuckin bike shop. It will do what it is going to do. Forget the past, the future, the now for a hour or so. Maybe I will come back having regained or come close to that center thing I miss so badly.

Keep it 'tween the ditches..........

(1112 / 13,697)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Deadtown - Part lV

What follows is Part lV of my Deadtown serial. For those who might be interested and want to be brought up to speed on this ever changing tale, the next three links are the first three parts.

Deadtown - Part l - Hick gets caught

Deadtown - Part ll - We meet Gravo

Deadtown - Part lll - Hick & Gravo together

Part lV - Moss Boss


Moss Boss became physically aware again. These mandatory resets were becoming a problem. In the beginning when he first set foot on this planet, he could replenish when and where he pleased. But once a sentient race had been nursed into existence, he had to be more careful. The reset was messy. It left him vulnerable for a time. If caught by thinking beings, his actions would be cause for alarm. And maybe even spoil the mission he had been tasked with so very long ago.

In the 1.5 million orbits he had been here, he had only revealed his true self to one other. It had been a simple matter to deal with. He merely placed that species on a dead end track. The mistake reinforced his need to be cautious. Once every hundred cycles or so, he had to lay down and replenish. It was his one and only biological imperative. He had to do it completely alone.

He wished he could communicate with the one other member of his race who also existed here. But rules were rules. Rules that had become necessary for the very survival of those waiting two billion light years away. A replacement race could not just be created. It had to be cajoled and caressed into the final form. A replacement race could only be had by careful manipulations that became ever more intricate the closer they evolved to replacement status. This took cooperation by opposing efforts. Stressing the DNA combinations and their interactions was every bit as important as creating them. His counterpart worked the other side.

This particular mission was but one of millions his home world had going. Some had already failed for one reason or another. Some languished as the worlds they played out on went through physical changes his kind could not tweak or change. His race were masters of biology not geology. For this reason, so many missions had been launched. Through the idea of a massive pool of designs, one would likely emerge that would meet the home world's needs. It would be a simple matter to terminate the rest once a suitable race had been completed.

The replacement race need not look or act like the ones they were replacing. They only needed to have the right combination of neural activities that would accommodate the overwhelming intellect that would one day take over. Their physicality was but a petri dish.

Moss Boss had not foreseen this latest world wide upheaval. He assumed it had been something his comrade had created. He also figured it was part of the plan. One of the regular purges to make sure this planet would last long enough to get this race into space. His task was clear. His goal always to make sure there were survivors. And that these survivors were stronger and smarter than the ones who came before. It did bother him some that he had no inkling of this recent kill off. Usually his compadre would send some small signal so he could prepare. Not this time.

This bothered him some. As he had more important things to consider, he filed his unease for thoughtful consideration at a later time. He had to make an appearance soon or his absence would be questioned. He slipped back into his corporeal form. Readjusted his facial features and walked back to his office the back way.
__________________________________________________________

"Where's Moss Boss?" Gravo was impatient. He had important news and needed some guidance.

"Don't know Gravo. MB mentioned he would be out of touch a couple of days ago. Something about checking on the progress up near the GW Bridge. What's up?"

Gravo had never liked Spinner. The man was the quintessential suck up. The master back stabber. But he was M B'S lackey and he had his ear.

"Found something near the old Lincoln Tunnel. Something big. I need to see him ASAP."

"Well what was it? I'll be sure to pass it along."

"Uhm, never mind, I would rather talk with him. Just tell I need to see him."

Just then the ragged old theater curtains separating Moss Boss's private place from his public place parted. "What's up boys? Ah Gravo, what brings you up here?"

Gravo had turned to leave. He stopped and turned around. He always wanted to chuckle when he saw Moss Boss. The rotund five foot body and the bald head just did not fit the man. Why this man commanded so much respect he could not understand. He had stopped worrying about it years ago though. He had never met someone who could figure angles like Moss Boss. He always seemed to make the right decision.

Before Gravo could speak, Spinner blurted out, " I just debriefed Gravo and he has some interesting information on something he found down near the Lincoln Tunnel."

Gravo did not try to hide his disdain for this useless suck up. He shot a hard look at Spinner and then began his report. He explained the loss and safe recovery of his best hunter. He went over the skirmish with the Creeps. When he mentioned how much bigger and obviously more intelligent the one Creep was, Moss Boss interrupted.

"You say this Creep was bigger? How much bigger? Did you bring him back? I would like to see him."

Gravo felt some irritation at being interrupted before he could relay what he considered the real news. "No, we left him. I felt it more important to get back here with the news of what we found in the warehouse."

"What?" Moss Boss seemed distant. His attention was on something else now. "You say he was big. As big as you?"

"Yeah at least. Maybe bigger. But Big Boss what we found in the warehouse. Boxes, pallets, all stacked up neat. Everything unused and new. Must be a hundred bikes in boxes.....

"Big huh? I have to think about this, I'll be back in a moment."

Spinner and Gravo just looked at each other and then at the back of Moss Boss as he disappeared behind his curtains. "What the Hell is up with M B?" Spinner mused. Gravo shrugged and sat down on some leather ottoman salvaged from one of the old hotels uptown.

Moss Boss had been gone maybe ten minutes. Spinner had tried to create some small talk but soon realized Gravo was not interested. So he found a chair and waited silently. Moss Boss came back through the curtains.

"Gravo, I want you to send out some men and find that Creep body and bring it back here."

"But M B, what about the new goods?"

"Yes, of course. They can be of some use. Form a scavenging party also and bring the salvage back to the lake building. George will know what to do with it. If you need more men, hit the Subs. They are always eager to get out of there. Take some horses and carts if you need them. But bring me that Creep." Then muttering something about Creeps should not be big, M B again left them.
_______________________________________________________________

Once he was alone, Moss Boss chewed on this new development. When his race was involved, manipulation of biological beings was a very precise science. All mutations were planned well in advance and never were they put in play too quickly. This always raised suspicions. The bigger Creep bothered him. Once he had had a chance to take one apart in the early stages of this recent purge, he saw his counterpart's handiwork. Sensible and clean with logical biological points to change in the future. It was not like him to initiate so noticeable a change as an increase in size this soon after a major pogrom.

His unease was understandable. It had been just such a minor thing that had set in motion the failure of their first attempt on this planet. A setback that meant starting over almost from scratch. A setback that necessitated some kind of geological and biological history that would explain to the new replacements that this had been a natural event. He already felt this mission had lasted long enough. He did not want to have to start over one more time.

He tried to relax. He attempted to find some calm by reveiewing his plans for the next stage. But he could not focus. The possibility of a new biological factor had to be addressed. He got up and rushed out to his outer office. "Where's Gravo?"

Spinner looked up from a tattered and worn "National Geographic", "Uh I guess he headed down to the subway to get some men."

"Find him. Tell him to wait until I show up. I am going with him."

Spinner sat there looking over the top of the National Geographic at Moss Boss. He did not move.

"Now Spinner! Do it Now!"

Spinner jumped as if shot in the ass. As he beat feet he puzzled at this uncharacteristic show of temper from the big guy. Something was up he thought. He could feel it, sense it. Moss Boss was onto to something. He had better pay attention.

(1432 / 12,585)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Superstition

I was looking for a new subject. Something related to this day, Friday the 13th. Superstitions, old wives tales, anything that would add to my already overwhelming amount of useless information cached deep into all my cranial crevices. I read Wiki's definition of Friday the 13th. As usual, it waffled telling me that there are any number of possibilities that might explain it's infusion into our cultural flow. The one theory that seemed to be a reasonable explanation was the Day is actually the combination of two older superstitions. For those folks who are into numerology, the number 13 is considered unlucky. And why I don't know, at some point Friday was considered an unlucky day of the week. That is definitely a throwback. Today, many folks living the cubicle lifestyle consider themselves lucky to make it to Friday.

I pondered the whole idea of superstition. Why we humans even have them. They are not logical. They can certainly be counterproductive. They often seem nothing but useless baggage. Yet many of us believe in them to some extent. And oddly certain groups or professions seem to hold more stock in them than the general population. Just look at sports. Those guys can get right anal about wearing a certain piece of clothing for every game and never washing it, not shaving until playoffs are over, going through the exact same ritual before each at bat. I will admit to being sucked in. When my lacrosse team had won 6 games in a row, I convinced myself that it was my stick that was the beacon for the good fortune our team enjoyed. I usually broke 2 or 3 sticks a season and this one had lasted the whole season so far. Imagine my pain when in the first half of that 7th game some humongous defenseman stomped on my stick and broke it. I was sure we would lose that game. We didn't. But we lost the next two. We did end up state champs in that small private school category, but I still think we would have run the table if I had not broken my lacrosse stick.

Without further investigations into the origins of superstitions, I have only my own ideas on them. I wonder if they are not just holdovers from the days when we did not have the ability to accurately describe the events of the natural world we existed in. Without meteorology, we could only surmise why we were having a drought. Some Einstein hated his mother in law. Told everyone it must be because his mother in law stepped in some cracked pottery and then came to church. So they burned her alive to purge the demons and bring back the rain. Thus a superstition was born and the man got some familial payback. Over the years, the superstition was tweaked to "Step on a crack, break your mother's back." Hey, it's as plausible as some explanations I have read.

Many of our superstitions began before the written word. They were passed down orally. Each new story teller embellishing as they saw the story from their viewpoint. In a time based version of a gossip circle, over the years the story eventually becomes nothing close to what it started as.

I found a website of common superstitions. Many I have heard before, but some were new to me. And others my family spoke of were not there. The list is impressive. Our need to rationalize good or bad luck runs deep. It is as if we cannot own up to being responsible for either. Why is that?

Some superstitions I know

~ If you hang a horse shoe for good luck, hang open end up or your luck will spill out.

~ In that same vein - Never park your cowboy hat brim down. Set it top down so your luck does not spill out. (Note- Byron Lisenbee the compact Texas truckdriver I became good friends with told me it was really a practical matter of keeping the hat in pristine condition.)

~If you and another are walking and you allow something to come between you, i.e. a tree, post, etc, one of you must say "Bread and Butter" or both of you will experience bad luck (my mom)

~ If the bottom of your feet itch - you will be taking a trip soon.

~ Talking about accidents only ensures they will happen (my mom)

I know there are others, I just cannot remember them.

See Ya.........

(756 / 11,153)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Abe & Sex

An odd combination of sensory inputs coalesced in my mind this morning as I did manly husband things my wife told me to do. Call this a pre-apology for the images you are about to see or already have seen. I guess I just figured this is Abe's day and well he should be my spokes model so to speak.

Abe

Today is Abe's birthday. 200 years ago the great man was born. Whether you like him or not, his greatness is beyond doubt. The celebrations are okay I guess. What I find annoying are the endless comparisons of him to Obama. Or is it the comparisons of Obama to him? Perspective people, perspective. I like Obama. I even voted for the man. But this constant adulation that borders on idolatry is beginning to wear thin with me. Tone it down. We are not doing him any favors by setting the pedestal so high. He will either begin to believe his own press or he will fail to deliver by proving he cannot part the seas or walk on water. He is but a man. He will not save us. Only we can do that.



The evils of Sexuality

I was in the garage beginning my 2009 offensive in the never ending sump wars. Thawing out frozen lines and cussing the rush of basement water. I had NPR on the little ghetto blaster. It was playing solid classical background music. Suddenly there was dead air. I hate dead air. So I switched it over to the one station that never fails. The God Station I call it. Christian values and opinion right from the playbook of the righteous and faithful. Today I tuned into the middle of one of their high horse panel discussions of the horror of sexuality in this country. The focus was on deviant and low moral behaviour, which I gather meant any sex at all.

The moments of religious discussion immediately following my changing of the dial centered on , yeah, homosexuality. How it really was a choice and God did not like it. They knew this because the Scriptures told them so. And we all know God dictated the Scriptures.

So they had a young Christian fellow on who had fallen into Satan's evil pit of homosexuality. He eventually saw the wickedness of his ways and has now renounced his gayness and generally condemned the whole lot of them. He even wrote a book.

This was all fine and ever so predictable. What I find interesting is that we know we are sexual animals. We know this certainly by our early teens. Our actions and interest driven by a huge influx of hormones telling us this without us having to think about it. And rather than just accepting this biological imperative that normal humans cannot ignore, many of us would choose to stifle it for all of us. Many would choose to highlight it by condemning it. I think if we just ignored it, there would be less attention paid by the morally corrupt folks who make up most of mankind. Because it is actively repressed through religious edicts and cultural stupidity, we only create a keener interest in it.

And you might ask why is it appropriate to sully the image of Lincoln with this garbage? Well, back in my college days when I occasionally paid attention, a history professor I liked immensely was on one his humorous anecdotes about Presidents. He indicated that while Lincoln was never caught to his knowledge actually fiddlin and diddlin around, there is much evidence he was keenly interested in sex. So much so, his unsatisfied urges helped to bring on his famous migraines. I always wondered why the Union troops wore blue and why Abe insisted on the big hat.

Oh, and he supposedly loved dirty jokes.

And BTW Abe - Happy Birthday. I hope where ever you are you are laughing. And not shaking your head in disbelief that this is what you worked so hard to save.

Later...........
(348 / 10,397)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Guns


Guns. Some people love them. Some people hate them. Some people, like me, don't understand what the big deal one way or the other is about guns. I googled "Gun Blogs" and was rewarded with 12.5 million hits almost instantly. I googled "Anti-Gun Blogs" and 5.5 million possibilities turned up. That makes 18 million google hits with guns as the focal point. 18 million! It boggles my mind. This much interest and pantie bunching over a weapon that is accountable for a minor number of deaths each year in the over all numbers of people dying. This much interest in foisting the idea that guns will somehow ensure our safety. Folks, Life is a crap shoot. When your time is up, your time is up. I don't think owning a gun will change that. Just as I do not think banning them will somehow make us safer either. Evil people will do evil things with or without a gun.

I might ask if anyone out there has had a gun stuffed in their face, their gut, or just pointed in their general direction? I have. Twice in my life gun barrels have been held tight against my body. I have also been in situations where guns were brandished but not used. While it is happening I had no fear or response other than anger. Once it was over and I had a chance to think about what just went down, then it was piss my pants time.

My first close encounter was an upstairs neighbor when I was in college. He had gotten drunk and was threatening his live in girlfriend and himself with bodily harm. She came downstairs in a panic. Being drunk also and therefore dumber than dirt, I wandered upstairs to calm him down so the cops would not haul him away again. He answered the door and stuck his automatic something or other just under my ear. I remember hearing the hammer click back. I defused the situation by getting angry. I told him he was a wuss if he needed a gun to handle me being that I was 6" shorter and 30 pounds lighter. If he had a problem with me, then let's go outside. He agreed. We went outside. Since he was drunker than I was, I kicked his ass. And the next day he apologized and thanked me for not calling the cops.

My second time with a barrel shoved in my body was in NYC while delivering Burger King Buns out of the back of a trailer at 2 or 3 in the morning. I had a two wheeler piled as high as I could reach with bun boxes and was wheeling them up to the back door. Suddenly a voice behind me told me to give him all my money and to not turn around. A sharp punch in the kidney indicated he had a weapon. Again, I got angry. I tipped up the two wheeler full of buns and turned around. It was indeed a gun. I reached in my pocket and pulled out my wallet. He took it, looked in, took the $20 bill, and threw the wallet on the ground. All he said, "Cheap ass truck drivers" and he left.

My point being, having a gun would not have helped me in these encounters. One was because I chose to get involved. Two drunks with guns has to be more than twice as bad than just two people with guns. The other situation was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Both encounters would have possibly gone way wrong way quickly had I brandished a gun also.

And before anyone decides that well, Crum has had no one near and dear die from a gunshot, well, that has happened also. A very good friend, Andre, was killed with a bullet to the head during a drug deal gone bad. A friend's father and mother were shot while on vacation in Florida during a robbery. My friend's father did not make it. A very close old college friend's father was shot and killed in a liquor store hold up. The interesting part of this murder was it was a shoot out. Had my friend's father just given up the money, he might still be alive. But he pulled a weapon also. And he lost. I have been touched by the pain of death by gunshots.

Yes, a gunshot is irrevocable and can turn an otherwise heated incident into a serious tragedy in an instant of anger gone too far. But in the scheme of all the ways we find to die, it seems we spend an inordinate amount of time on the gun deaths that are blips on the chart of deaths. Of course I am referring to deaths associated with living in a normally functioning society and not one in a state of war or serious cultural and political upheaval.

In 2005 (the most recent year I could find stats on) 29,684 people died of gunshot wounds. Of that number, 12,352 were ruled homicides, 17,002 were ruled suicides, and the rest were broken down into unintentional, death by cop, etc. 12,352 people died of gunshot wounds that were committed in violence. That same year over 1.2 million people died in this country. The biggest killer, heart disease. Can we think about perspective here?

So of the 12,352 violent gun deaths, the disturbing fact was that almost half, 6,067 fatalities, were black males. Their death rate per 100,000 is more than 8 times higher than the population as a whole. I had heard something to the effect that the number one cause of death for black males under a certain age was by gunshot. But until I dug up this fact from the CDC site, I really did not appreciate just how localized most violent gun deaths were. Of course this does not change my over all attitude about guns, but it certainly gives me something new to chew on. Maybe in another post.

The bottom line is this for me. A gun does not symbolize anything to me. It neither reinforces my notion of what America is about, nor does it protect my rights under the law. But if owning a gun makes someone else feel more American, then hey, whatever floats your boat. Guns do not scare me either. The people who wield them do. And I would guess that those same people would make me nervous with a paring knife in their hand. It is not the gun we should be afraid of but the mental midget holding it.

Not sure why I even began this post. I caught some references and links from Dana's blog and well, this is how it turned out. Over all I would say this post did not end up as I envisioned when I began it. Oh well. Maybe it will spark a lively comment section.

Keep it 'Tween the Ditches...............

(1167 /10,049)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Meat Eaters

I live In Maine. Lobsters are part and parcel of our identity as a state. Mention Maine and often lobsters are the first thing many people conjure up. In the over all scheme of what keeps us a viable economic part of the national economy, lobsters play their part. But they hardly deserve as much credit as the legend would indicate. As a matter of fact, Maine is not just a rocky coastline inhabited by crusty fish smellin one eyed boat skippers with pipes hangin out their mouths. We have crusty swamp smellin one eyed lumberjacks also. But straightening out that myth is not the thrust of tonight's post.

Tonight I would like to discuss food. I spotted this cartoon and it struck me how judgemental people are about almost every facet of other peoples lives. Everything we do, say, support will be analyzed and found wanting by other people who are sure they know a better way. Pray to God and someone will say you are an idiot. Say something political and watch out. There is always someone waiting to tell you you are not only wrong but a traitor also. Everything is criticized. Even the food we stuff in our mouth.

I have no problem with folks not wanting to eat meat. My daughter went through four years or so of skipping meat for the most part. My wife is not a huge fan of red meat, so we don't get it as often as I would like. But mention lobster in front of my wife or daughter and they starting salivating. Their eyes cross and their minds find some pleasure place to dwell in for awhile. My two ladies love their lobster.

Me, well I like lobster well enough. I can take it or leave it. As shellfish goes in my heiarchy, lobster would fall behind Steamers, Oysters, and Crabs. I would never turn it down. But I am getting sidetracked here. Imagine that?

The Vegans and the other less strict non meat eaters have a tendency to go overboard with their condemnation of the grub the rest of us consume. The cartoon is a prime example. The protests up in Rockland, Maine when the lobster feast happens is another. These boneheads try to play to our compassionate side and say that it must be painful to be boiled alive and it is abuse to throw live lobsters in boiling water.

Well duh. I would imagine it is quite painful to be boiled alive. But I am not the one boiling, my dinner is. I try to be compassionate and concerned over the plight of most animals. I am sorry, but as an avowed omnivore (read-will eat anything not nailed down), and also a card carrying member of the group at the top of the food chain, I consider some animals food and other animals pets. There is no way around this. Every living thing consumes something less fortunate than itself.

Do you think a lobster concerns itself over the "life" of it's prey? Of course not. They see food, they eat it. Being scavengers, most of the time what they eat is already dead, but that doesn't get them off the hook. Their biological imperiative has no room for the feelings of what they are consuming. Just because I have the ability to bring some kind of ethical judgement to the things I do does not mean I am any different. I see food, I eat it.

So I would say that when it comes to condemning me for the food I eat, someone might have a better chance of getting my attention if they focused on how much food I eat instead. The same goal might be had. If I eat less food, then maybe another lobster lives.

Keep It 'Tween The Ditches..............
(633 / 8882)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Last Thursday

I think it was last Thursday. Some political action group called me up. They wanted my support in calling for our flounders in charge down in DC to pull it together and get the damn stimulus package passed. If I wanted, they would connect me directly to my Senator's office. Would that be okay they asked?

I have certainly been getting up on my high horse of late about the lack of real action inside the Beltway. I have made it clear I would like to see some damn cooperation between the two parties.

So I said, "Sure, hook me up."

The next thing I know, a phone is ringing and on the first ring, "Hello Senator Susan Collins office. How may I help you?"

I have emailled my elected officials in the past. I have even written a few letters back in the prehistoric days when we depended on the friendly folks at the Post Office to trudge through sleet and snow for us. And I have made anger induced phone calls. Never once did I get a reply or someone other than an impersonal message on a voicemail. So to actually have a human speak caught me flat footed.

"Uh. well, (I chuckle in an uncomfortable caught flatfooted way), uh I just wanted ask you folks what the Hell are you doing down there?"

"What do you mean sir?"

"Well my name is Mike Macrum and I live in Acton, Maine. I am one of Senator Collins constituents. I am fed up with the stonewalling and foot dragging. Why can't you folks work together? And why is it always the Republicans who act like bad children?" (I said more and not as cooly, but well, I am the hero in this story)

"Well sir, Senator Collins is doing the best job she can for you and your fellow Mainers. I will be sure to pass along your feelings to the Senator. Thank you for calling." Click.

I immediately felt bad. What I wanted to say, I wanted to say to Susan Collins. Instead I unloaded on some nice woman tasked with fielding calls like mine. I immediately thought of my driving days and fighting the urge to unload on some poor toll taker about the high cost of driving on their shitty super slab. It is not the toll takers fault.

The feeling of remorse lasted only a second though as a feeling of victory began to replace it. "Absolutely fucking fantastic", I thought, "I have finally received real human response to my citizen complaint." And I went on with my day knowing I had let someone know there was at least one pissed off constituent in Maine. Yeah, I was bad.

Then over the weekend I hear about Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe wanting to find some consensus with the Democrats. My two Republican senators broke ranks and called for the stupidity to end. With their support of the stimulus plan, any fillibuster would be difficult, if not impossible. Hali-fucking-Looya! I quickly considered whether my phone call was the straw, the final nudge. But when I mentioned it to my wife, she just smiled and said, "I sent both of them emails last week saying the same thing."

Way to go ladies. Someone had to Man Up and I am really impressed it was you two. Call this post my tribute to the elected officials from my state. You did what I sent you to do. You did your job. Thank you.

Keep it 'Tween the Ditches................

(585 / 8249)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Image Time

I was feeling a bit frantic earlier. Not sure why. It had not been a crazy or off kilter day. My intake of caffeine was actually fairly moderate today. There was no good or even bad reason to be so uptight. But a couple of hours ago I was tense.

I slammed out a blog post in a manic no edit mode. Typed angry. No, more like typed desperately. Typed some nonsense and then sat back.

Image Time.

Image Time is the smoking the butt after the carnal act routine I fall into when I have finished a post. The words fresh in my mind, I look for just that right image to accessorize the wit/shit I have just spewed forth, hacked up, wrenched free. In lieu of just the right image, I will often settle for the first thing that makes me chuckle. Whatever. Image Time is Miller Time.

So with purged nerves, I casually began to rummage for some special Kodak moment. There was no hurry. So I got creative. Decided to play with my google. I am sure I am not alone here. We all play with our googles from time to time. If ya'll don't play with your google once in awhile, then I guess all I can say is you are definitely missing out. Nothing beats a good google. Hit just the right combination of words like maybe "Exploding Head, Images" and some cool mostly only guys will like pictures come up in .000087 seconds.

Of course, as soon as I saw those images of noggins blowing up I forgot the reason I googled them in the first place. I knew the pictures had some link to what I had written, but my excitement over the gore drove the point away. I saved a couple just in case. Never know when an exploding head will put just the right exclamation point to a post.

My post was some words on my recent attempt to help my wife as she winds up and unloads on Tax Season. The unlucky significant others out there sharing their lives with an accountant will most likely know what I mean. Where I am going.

Accountants are predictable animals. From what I can tell they seem wound about average. Wound average for eight and a half months of the year anyway. There are three and a half months in succession when they do a bizarre Jekyll & Hyde transformation. It sneaks up on the unsuspecting. It can swoop in like a poleax and take out the inexperienced. But for those of us who have lived this nightmare next to them day after day, year after year, know that from January to Mid April our names become "asshole" or some polite derivative thereof. "Leave me alone you useless person whose only reason for existing is so I have someone to whip on." As the deadline gets closer, the tempers get shorter.

I have been living this seasonal change for over 12 years anyway. I had hopes it would ease up once she was out from under the thumb of fat cat useless accountants who hired her to be their shit eating lackey. Sadly, I was mistaken. Now she is the fat cat but with no shit eating lackey. Let me tell you I get damn nervous when she looks in my direction.

Common sense would be to stay out of sight, fly under her radar. But remember my month long trip to find the better me? It has already gotten me into trouble. See, I knew being worthless had something going for it.

BA came home the other day with six Pizza boxes. Six Pizza Boxes substituting for the proverbial "All you need to do my taxes is in that shoe box" typical scenario. Inside these boxes were literally stuffed every slip of paper her customer could think of to stuff in them. Invoices, Packing slips, Deposit slips, Withdrawal slips, Fuel slips, you name it, it was in there. I even found one of those number slips you take when standing in line somewhere. Just to make it interesting, they had carefully prepared each slip by passing them through their front jean pockets first, crumpled up into 1/4 inch balls. Thousands of pieces of paper. I was impressed.

I kinda know these young men who recently bought this pizza joint. They are loose dogs. Hard working, but generally clueless about anything but keeping folks filled with pizza and beer. The pizza boxes fit their style.

To accommodate my new two rule life, I figured picking up BA's day would be a great idea. I volunteered to sort the contents of the pizza boxes. Organize them so she doesn't have to.

Please, please. Someone shoot me.
(760 / 7664)

Keep It 'Tween The Ditches..............

Saturday, February 07, 2009

My Toilet Runneth Over

The other day, BBC mentioned in his cut through the bullshit way, my posts were getting too long. I replied with some snarky comeback and moved on. But his comment stirred around some. I thought about it and checked my more recent posts. Yes they have been longer winded than my usual long breaths. I wondered why.

I also wondered why it mattered how long it was. Those who want to read it will read it. Many will run out of energy and desire and bail before my always poignant and clever endings. ;) More than a few folks will stop in and say to themselves, "Damn, another long one from Crum. The boy surely can drone on. I am outta here." They won't even give it a chance.

I have read many helpful blogging hints. I have run across tips to make my blog the envy of the neighborhood. The Do's and the Don't Do's. Opinions differ but many of the umpteen million Blogging Gurus out there tend to agree on a couple of basics.

~ Post regularly - Long periods of drought will cause a drop in traffic that may be difficult to retrieve. Bloggers are notorious for being fair weather readers. You came back to the same old blog and the last post was a month ago, you tend to not check again for awhile if at all.

~ Be Brief. Long posts turn people off. I can see this. I see it all the time. I have written short posts and long posts as the more recent posts demonstrate. I have stopped short when reading some posts. I have stuck with many all the way through. But brief usually ensures I will finish what I started.

Okay so I have at least a nominal understanding of some of the attributes of a blog that generates heavy traffic. I seem to grasp well enough that if I want to bump up the attendance, there are basics I could do better.

You know what? I gave BBC's advice a good run. Most of the day today actually. And I decided my initial snarky comeback comment was how I really feel. I let the posts go where they take me. If what I want to say takes 500 words, I use 500 words. If that day I am feeling lean and mean, maybe 300 words will do it for me. And if I feel 1000 words wanting some release, I release them. Whether folks want to read them is up to them. I obviously have some kind of need that can only be satisfied this day by this many words.

I guess it all is based on what I want this blog to do for me. I first have to determine that before I even concern myself with what others would like to see here.

I want a blog that is not easily pigeonholed by one of the many boundaries the bloggers love to fence blogs in with. My blog is about whatever overflows the cranial toilet. You never know what will pop out of an overflowing toilet. And well, that's a pretty accurate description of a typical thinking day for me. I guess my blog should reflect this.

So, BBC, if you can suffer this somewhat shorter post, I have begun to taper down. I also have counted all the words I have typed and posted this month. Took me quite awhile I'll tell ya. Can't remember the last time I used all ten fingers so much. When I finish this post the grand total will be --- 6885 words this month. Wait a minute I just added__38_____more words........ Oh no, I can't stop. Something is wrong. Heeeeelp meeeeeee......
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Later..........

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bagging Some Political Logic

I was looking for inspiration. Failing to dig up anything from the dustbin inside, I began to wander the Internet. Looked at funny humorous pages. Looked at images. Stopped in to some blogs I had never read before. But nothing I read, saw, or heard struck the right chord today.

Sigh. When all else fails, there is always politics or religion. Both have the instant ability to lift me from the stagnant sea of apathy. With sagging shoulders I began to look for the sure thing that would get the juices flowing. I set sail for shores on the political side of my mind. As always I found the same old pots simmering on the beach waiting for me to stir them once again. I walked around these pots. For I was on a new political quest. A safari to capture that most elusive beast. If not capture then maybe bring home some evidence of it's existence.

I am talking about Political Logic. Not one side's logic against the other side's logic, but finding Logic that might justify or be a springboard for the logic either uses to push their agendas.

It would seem that both sides use "The Good of the Country" as a basic building block for their mutually exclusive logistical choices. Both indicate a strong desire to "serve and protect" the notions and ideals we have been taught to idolize since birth. Okay fine. Laudable and certainly noble intentions from both the Right and the Left.

Try as I might. Part the jungles vines for days looking and this is the only Logic I could find that made any sense. That both of them seemed to want to serve our mutual needs. Our unified outlooks. To further the well being of all of us. The problem it would appear is that they will only serve our mutual well being if it falls within the narrow parameters and definition they have set up for us. To serve the intentions of our originating documents is not enough. We must follow blindly their logistical highway. If we don't we are somehow not truly American. Or we are not truly compassionate and concerned for the rights of all.

With both sides contending they know the best way to national nirvana, I find it suspicious that they bicker so much with each other over issues that really only matter to those already converted and not the rest of us. They both seem to have painted themselves into some kind of idealistic corner and are unwilling to do anything about it. So they waste time throwing illogical shots at each other instead of trying to work on the things they both agree on.

No better example exists than this recent stimulus plan. The bones of contention between them amount to squat in the overall package, yet they bicker like bad children. And I am supposed to consider these boneheads of either side somehow reasonable and dedicated to furthering our position as a nation?

I visited Rush Limbaugh's site today. I visited the Democratic Underground today. Both are arguably representative of we'll say the more extreme sides of the Right and the Left. Rush is all about pillorying Obama. The Democratic underground seem intent on whining about Judd Greg. Neither of them even attempt to focus on the "good of the country". They are only interested in attacking the other side.

There are issues that affect all of us that need no Left or Right slant to understand. High unemployment, Health Care, Defense, Environment, and Bank Foreclosures to just name a few from the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of serious problems facing us that need unified action not squabbles over ideology. The sooner these boneheads get it, the sooner all of us will be better off.

Each side has had it's successes that were based in ideological premise. But when a crisis looms that has the potential for mutual harm, it seems to me that dropping some of the partisan rhetoric and looking for mutual points of agreement instead would be a logical choice. But then I guess I have to assume there is any logic to be found inside The Beltway.

It is not enough now to pass off this partisan bickering as, "Well it's just politics you know." The time for cooperative action has never been more needed than now. We are facing our worst national crisis in years. A crisis that has the potential to really knock the piss out of us and leave us an "also ran" front runner in the history of front runners. How we proceed over the next 5 to 10 years will more than likely determine our role for the following 50 years anyway. And to just consider this stupid partisan crap as politics as usual is only setting us on the wrong course. Or should I say it is only keeping us on the same course. I don't know about you, but I haven't been thrilled about the trip we have been on for years.

And so my foray into the dark jungle ends. It would appear that the beast that is Political Logic does not exist. It is but a fig newton in our minds. A fictional character who exists only in the minds of those who read the same bed time story night after night. Back to stirring those pots on the beach I guess.
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Thursday, February 05, 2009

The 1971 Datsun Pick Up

When my parents settled here in Acton back in the mid 1960s, they had just left a middle class life in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Around every corner a shopping center waited patiently and convenient for them to use. Multiple avenues of sensory stimulation were available by short drives or minor adjustments of the TV or radio dial. Everything they needed, or thought they needed handy and only a stones throw away.

Now they were in rural Maine. As rural goes by Maine standards, Acton was and still is only considered semi rural I guess. The closest grocery store is only 9 miles away. Acton has a gas station. Portland is a short 45 minute drive away. The Boston area can be reached in two hours if you hit the traffic right.

My mom hated it immediately. My dad knew he had found his final resting place. Mom liked the city. I don't think my dad knew what he liked until he came to Acton. To him and the rest of the family, no place had ever seemed like home. We certainly moved around enough to support that idea.

Dad immersed himself in the retired old guy rural gig. Puttered in the yard. Grew plants of all kinds and edibility. Built his Heath kit electronic gizmos. Expanded his woodworking skills by making my Aunt(his sister) a custom made doll house and all the furniture. And he bought himself his first pick up truck. A brand new 1971 baby shit brown Datsun Pick Up. Cost $1900. And even though the good ole boys of Acton raised their eyebrows over this wannabe Chevy when he went to the dump, he didn't care. He loved that truck.

Because he loved it, he couldn't leave it alone. He just had to improve it. He began to yank things out and put new things in. He was less than impressed with the ignition system, so he found some guaranteed to be better kit that was gonna make it hum and he put it in. By the time he was done, that little sewing machine four cylinder engine growled.

This is where I come into this tale. During this period of acclimating to the rural scene, I had been doing the school boy thing 600 miles away. I finished out military school and immediately went to college. I only visited Acton during holidays and in the summer. In the Spring of 1972, I brought Tom, my college roommate home for Easter. And my dad, the retired military guy, was ever so happy to have some troops back and under his command. He put us to work. Yard work, dub work, etc. Our reward was allowing me to go to the dump in his new truck.

I don't know what it is about certain vehicles and their affect on certain personalities. But the first time I sat in that truck, I knew I had found the kind of vehicle I was meant to drive, own, exist in. Without hesitation, I understood that Mike and Pick Up truck shared a common unbreakable bond. I loved that little truck I think more than my dad did.

So, we load up for the dump. I pull out the drive and head down to the corner to go right to the dump. At the corner, the Datsun stalls. No problem. I just fire it up and.......er er er er er. Shit! It won't start. Now it might have made sense to walk back up the hill the 200 yards back to the house to get my dad. With some dads, that would indeed be the right thing to do. But I knew my dad. Somehow, the failure of the truck would be my fault and the rest of the vacation would be suffered under the evil eye of a man who blamed me for hurting his pride and joy.

So I do the next best thing. Tom and I get out and we pop the hood. "Christ on a crutch Mike", Tom says, "What the Hell is going on in here?"

Under the hood is a mass of odd wires, strange boxes attached to this or that. It looks like no engine compartment we had ever seen. Of course I had not seen many. I was not into engines. But I knew the basics. And what sat in that compartment was not basic. "Uh, Well Dad did say he had fiddled with it to get more out of it."

At this point Harlan Wilson, the Acton Postmaster, wanders over from his house on the opposite corner. "What's up boys? Having some trouble?"

"Oh hey Mr Wilson. Yeah, I got here to the corner and it just quit."

"Get in and turn it over."

I climbed back in the truck and turned the ignition. "Er er er er er ka chik, ka chik er er er."

Mr Wilson turns on his heel and says, "I'll be right back." Tom and I look at each other. I am thinking Mr Wilson must have some old fart wisdom that will get us going and I relax.

Tom starts in about foreign vehicles, especially the junk coming out of Japan and how his dad, a gas station owner, hated them. "Those Japs just don't get it", he said. I want to get defensive. After all I had fallen in love, but the current status of the little Datsun kind of made any defense of it seem weak and ill timed. So I sat quiet and waited for Mr Wilson. I hoped he would solve the glitch. We would go to the dump and return with the truck. My dad would never have to know.

Minutes passed. Tom and I passed the time just sitting with the doors flung open and enjoying the warmth of an early Spring day in Maine. Finally Mr. Wilson came hobbling over on his bum legs with a spray can in his hand. I had no idea what it was. Written on the label were the words "Starting Fluid". Okay. I guess that is what it was. Mr Wilson set the can down and unscrewed the air filter cover. He removed the air filter and said, "When I tell you to, turn it over. But if it doesn't catch soon, stop. Okay go!"

And I turned the key. "Er er er Ka Chik Ka chik, Cough cough,, er er er." And I stopped. No go.

Mr. Wilson looked puzzled. "Damn Jap cars. My Ford would have started. Let's go again."

"Er er er Ka Chik Ka chik, Cough cough,, er er er." And I stopped again

"No Mike, keep cranking it."

"Er er er Ka Chik Ka chik, Cough cough,, er er er........ "Er er er Ka Chik Ka chik, Cough cough,, er er er.............."Er er er Ka Chik Ka chik, Cough cough,, er er er. Harlan Wilson stepped back shaking the can of starting fluid. "Well, I guess it needs more than I have." He had turned around and rubbing his head all I heard, "Goddam Japs, why anyone would buy their crap, mutter, mutter", and he gimped back to his house leaving Tom and I sitting there.

My shoulders slumped as I got up and began to trudge up the hill to my house."Come on Tom, let's go tell the ole goat I broke his truck."

A few minutes later we entered the kitchen. Dad was where he always was on Sunday morning. Sitting at the kitchen table doing his cross word puzzle. He looked up at us over his half lens reading glasses. "Dump still there?"

"Uh dad, well, we didn't make it to the dump. The truck stalled down at the corner and well Mr Wilson tried to help, but he gave up."

The change in body language was profound. The look he had switched from friendly to unfriendly before I even finished the tale. "You let that idiot Wilson do something to my truck? What the Hell were you thinking. I was only 200 yards away. You know he blew up his snow blower last year trying to start it with starting fluid. The fool thinks starting fluid is some kind of mechanical genie in a can."

The look on our faces must have told him what happened. "No, tell me you did not let him use any starting fluid?"

"Well", Tom started, "yeah, better part of a whole can he sprayed into the air intake."

My dad got up. At five foot ten he was not particularly tall, but he was this morning. He pushed past me and fetched his jacket and hat from the front hall closet. "Let's go see what damage you have caused."

We followed my father down the road. He walked with purpose. He walked with a straight back. I imagined he was trying to calm himself before he viewed the wounds his baby had just endured at the hands of careless children. Reaching the truck, he walked around the front and stuck his head in the engine compartment. He fiddled with some wires, reinstalled the air filter and cover, and slammed the hood closed. Climbing in behind the wheel he started in on me. "You have to treat machinery with respect. I don't know what you did, but I am sure it was ........blah blah blah." He turned the ignition key.

"Er er er Ka Chik Ka chik, Cough cough,, er er er.' He stopped. Waiting a moment I guess for the starter to cool and all the while continuing his rant about useless teenager kids and how they never pay attention..... and then he fires it up again.

"Er er er Ka Chik Ka chik, Cough cough,, er er er ...er er er uh k chunk......BOOM!"

And massive volumes of smoke come billowing out from underneath of the truck. My father sitting there with the door flung open turns to me and his face has gone white. His eyes the size of saucers. None of us speak.

Tom is the first one to compose himself. He kneels down and looks under the truck. All I hear is "WOW!" Tom stands up. He does not say anything. His face is a puzzle. There appears to be pain but he might look like he is trying to keep a straight face.

"Well", my father finally snaps back into the here an now, "what happened?"

"Geez General Macrum", I can tell Tom does not or cannot say what he has to, "It looks like someone stuffed a grenade into the muffler and it blew......." Suddenly Tom cannot contain himself and he begins shake and snort. It is obvious he is trying not to laugh.

Disgusted, my dad looks at me, "Mike, take a look."

I knelt down absolutely afraid of the damage I would find. The muffler indeed looks like it had taken a direct hit. It was basically gone and one piece sat insolently on the ground. The tail pipe swung free as if it were a pendulum. I started to laugh. I didn't even try to hold back. I just let loose. The father anger, the march down the hill, Mr Wilson. And now this wonderfully blown up muffler. It was just too much. I stood up and just hung on to the bed of the truck and let it rip. Tears shot out of my eyes as I shook with laughter.

" I'm glad you two think this is funny," my dad says. But his mood had changed. He did not appear angry any more, just disgusted. "I guess that takes care of the starting fluid", and he turned the ignition key one more time.

"Er er er Ka Chik Ka chik, Cough cough,, er er er.....VROOM." The damn truck fired right up. It was loud, but it was running. A serene look came over him. Even the noise of a blown muffler did not seem to break his calm. His pride and joy still worked. That was all that mattered.

He slammed the door closed. He looked up at us through the window. "Never ever let that dumass Harlan Wilson near anything of ours that has an engine in it. He thinks starting fluid is the answer to all mechanical problems. You know, he blew up his snow blower last winter. You two can walk home." And he turned right and headed to the dump. Engine blaring loud and proud with an occasional backfire. He disappeared around the corner as the tail pipe swung back and forth.

I ended up inheriting that 1971 Datsun Pick Up eight years later when my father passed. It had only 12,000 miles on it. I put another 60,000 miles on it before I just got fed up with fixing the body. I gave it to Crispy. He has it on blocks in his garage half torn apart. He is currently rebuilding from scratch every part of it from the frame up. It was my first Pick Up. It was my dad's only Pick Up. And even though it was a rot magnet, everyone of us who have owned it, loved it.
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