Thursday, November 29, 2007


I hate vending machines. You have no choice as to what is offered and no complaint if what you picked does not come out. And then you have an even chance of not receiving your money back. I have always hated these box like clerks who stand there woodenly, silent, with a false brightness and cheery demeanor. They tempt us with visions of Palm Trees and bottles with droplets dripping seductively, giving the impression that once we have punched in the $1.25, 12ozs of thirst busting pleasure will envelope our taste buds. But what pops out? A warm coke that got dented on the way out and then explodes in your face. There's your thirst busting pleasure fella. Right there in your face. Enjoy!

Hot Pockets
Pockets and how I use them popped into my cranial void the other day. I was emptying my pockets at the end of the day. I took an inventory of what I pulled out.
Let's see:
~$2.23 in change.
~$7 in crumpled ones.
~2 Receipts.
~3 reminder slips that failed to remind.
~My pocket watch & combo survival compass/thermometer w/ LED Flashlight as it's fob.
~Pocket knife.
~A lonely paperclip.
~An oddly shaped rock I found awhile ago and oddly, still resides in my pocket.
~Throw in a passle of keys, most of which are not needed but I carry them anyway.
~Finally, tossed in, a spoke wrench I forgot to leave at the shop.

An intimidating pile when viewed as one lump. But distribute it among the many pockets I have and the load just disappears. Damn, I love my pockets.

A simple and functional add on to our clothes, pockets allow us to seperate, collate, and integrate all those small items we just have to have along for our daily grunts. That cool rock, pocket watch and knife in the right pocket. Change, folding money and keys in the left. The various slips of paper accumulated throughout the day in any pocket that is handy. A man can carry all his daily needs conveniently stashed but instantly available as needed. Taken for granted until the hole in one of them allows my favorite knife to escape to look for a new owner. I never seem to appreciate their worth until they fail me.

Now a purse on the other hand makes no sense to me. All the stuff jumbled up together in one pile. To find anything, 10 things have to be moved, removed, or shoved out of the way. I grew up watching my mother constantly elbow deep in her purse. When she had to dig deep, everything came out and was scattered as she frantically looked for that which was as of yet unfound. A pocket on the other hand, limits the search to a much smaller area. And often, the sought item can be located by braille through the outer layer. "Ah, there's that knife. What was I thinking? Put it in the wrong pocket". 15 seconds of panic verse 3 or 4 minutes of purse antics.

Pockets rule, purses drool.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Barbie Collection - A Labor of Love

My Barbie Collection - Side Show #2

My recent immersion into the world of internet retail has driven home the fact that this World is not just beginning to shrink. It has already shrunk. The Internet has accomplished that which countless conquering hordes over thousands of years have failed to do. Turned the Globe into one huge 'Hood. With access to a computer plugged into the WWW, everyone starts out equal.

As I cruise through the millions of items for sale from all over the World on Ebay, I realize that Capitalism has won. Humans just love it. Comes natural I guess, given our predisposition to be selfish. The fine art of Yankee Trading has taken on a decided international twist. Billions hit the internet ether daily to sell their wares, buy their wares, or just check out the latest in Barbie & Ken evening wear.

Trolls being bought by folks in Dubai. Old school Skateboards shipped to some odd address in th old USSR. First Edition Game boys wait by the thousands for some horny collector to move them to their digs to gather dust in a new locale. 300,000 Baseball Card Collectors all trying to buy or sell a mint condition Boog Powell Rookie Card. Infinite numbers of items infinite numbers of people are buying and selling. Every damn day. 24/7. If it was made once, it will be sold on Ebay.

And don't even look at the Barbie section. People are crazy about Flippin Barbies. Finding that complete Malibu Barbie set has become so popular Barbie has her very own special dedicated category in Ebay. This idealized and immortalized vision of the perfect white bread bimbo is traded, swapped, and bought with such regularity, Barbies have become a commodity. The doll every girl I knew back in the day just had to have 15 or 20 of.

I used to help Snake set his sister's Barbies up for certain catstrophe by fire or various methods of demolishment. And to think we were probably destroying Cher's potential retirement cushion. We must have set at least 5 or 6 on fire. Used a few for target practice with that new bow and arrow set up Snake got one Christmas. Once we decided to see just what type of bullet would actually take Barbie out. A Standard Daisy BB gun or did it take a 22 long. Barbie laughed at the Daisy and it's puny attempt to compromise her smooth whatever white girl exterior. She did not fare so well with the 22 though.

I have now successfully navigated the various channels, networks and jumped through all the proper hoops in order to become that next big Ebay Entreprenuer. So of course my darling signifigant other has tasked me with the joyous labor of finding a home for all that flotsam and jetsam 27 years of marriage has forced into our lives. She created a small pile of useless to us now stuff too valuable to toss,Goodwill, or put out on a table in the yard on a nice hoy July Day. An experimental pile of stuff. Test the waters pile of stuff.

Lis' old Troll collection, 7 Original Version Game Boy games without instructions but still sitting cozy in their trunsluscent plastic snap cases. A pair of white figure skates she wore once. They are all organized photographed, and the listings completed and waiting to be uploaded. Must be $20 worth of stuff there. Only took me 5 hours to work out the details.

It is bound to get easier as I wade through the mountains of gold tucked away gathering dust in closets, the attic, and the basement. Surely the time spent will deliver me and those I love to economic stability. Lift us out of that financial uncertainty and into a new Hummer.

Regardless, my time spent trying to shake some change from some pockets and at the same time open up new corners to clutter in the future is time better spent than arguing with some flounder about just how much Bush sucks or doesn't suck.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

No Detour

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I have looked at this photo and depending on what bit of connecting memory or momentary inclination, it represents something different each time.

When I rummage through my trunk of dark thoughts as I often do, it seems a metaphor of the negative baggage of my life. That somehow, no matter what, there are no crossroads. Just one direction. Only one path to follow. Go directly to jail.

And then not moments later I search for somehting positive to pull from this picture. And I realize that my life has always been full of crossroads. Some looked like this. The fact that I often took a right or left did not deter me long. I found my way back to my highway and kept on truckin.

The common denominater upon which my life journey pivots is that I am still in the truck and not out of it. I have attempted to find new highways to follow. They just end up a loop or a dead end spur. I always come back to the road that heads into the sunset over a far sea I cannot envision just yet.

The key throughout all the good and bad roads I chose was that so far I have managed to survive traveling them despite myself. And even though no "true course" has ever revealed itself to me, I know that I am definitely on a road of my own making. No one else will ever experience this path in the same manner or sequence. I may meet and share my trail with others. I may swap tales and some emotional baggage. Ultimately I am on my own to find my own way. No one can do it for me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My First Slide Show

First Slide Show

If I did this right, the picture of the KING lock is the link that should take you to my very first slide show with original pictures taken, collated, and organized by another World Wide Web Bozo.

I have been on an accelerated learning curve of late. Assaulting the Web on mutiple fronts, I am engaged in 3 front war.

Ebay - Yeah, I finally stopped stopped whining about the unfair advantage all those web losers had over me and my small store front operation. Wearing that hairshirt was getting old. Squeezing sympathy from my friends and older customers had turned into automatic reflex answers that rung weak and less than empathetic.

So I hooked up with the Internet sales behemoth and am now selling my wares there. I have no real clue yet. But I have stumbled my way through enough of the hoops and now my very first sale is assured with my reserve on those cranks having been met.

I have also been intensely floundering in 3 different picture hosting sites. My efforts at this point are to develope the slidshow gig. To be a hipper and more with it Ebay mogul, I need to have this as part of my marketing strategy. Photobucket, Picasa, and Flickr have had to suffer my hamfisted attempts to figure out my way around their intricate insides.

In an attempt to accelerate this learning curve, I am going to post this as is to find out how well it works here. If it works here then my next step will be to use it on Ebay.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Drops of Water

Let cool soothing thoughts swirl between the twisted hateful winds. Calm tidepools of salty wigglers tickle the barnacle encrusted ledges of my mind. I attempt to reach an equilibrium of sorts that will afford me time to re-collect composure lost when confronted with idiots and their cackles.

Drawing a long slow breath, I reach for the cool drink that sits dripping condensing liquid. The drops follow gravity's path but stop to collect in a circle at the bottom of the glass. Watching the haphazard drops march to their own tune, I am struck by the fact that upon reaching bottom they all re-group and fall into line.

But one, maybe two drops refuse to follow through. They hang onto their singularity and stop before joining the wet crowd below. Hold outs and malcontents, they only blend in when I shift the glass and force their hand. I feel their frustration.

Across Sam Page Road

This perk of living in the sticks is located directly across the road from my house. I can and have hit the sign with numerous snowballs from my dooryard on more than one occaision. I always toss a few just to see if this aging wannabe, or is it soon to be geezer still has a decent arm. Or any arm for that matter. According to my darling wife, us guys can't resist when there's fresh snow just right for molding into perfect white frozen tossin balls.

It is a small patch of ground, less than 20 acres, bequeathed by Mary Grant upon her untimely and ignoble demise 3 or 4 years ago. She left her property to some obscure Nature group somewhere not located anywhere near here.

They had no interest in such a small chunk of Maine. It was far too far away from their area of interest. They passed it off on a local group of concerned and enviromentally inclined citizens, the Three Rivers Land Trust. After much discussion, they decided they were not interested either. Too small and nothing special I guess. They passed the ball to the Town of Acton, Maine.

So now it was the town's property. The town's problem. This free for nothing land. Would make a nice location for some civic oriented building. No. Couldn't do that. Mary had rules regarding her bequest. It was to be left natural, wild and unsullied by fools with tools who would turn it into something that needed mowing.

Special town meetings were convened, committees formed and then disbanded. The big fish in our small pond could not come to any agreement. Tall fishin and huntin tales swapped by good ole boys dressed in stained Dickies down to the Tradin Post were liberally sprinkled with often heated opinions on what the town should or should not do with this acreage. It was decided by those who only talk that there was no such thing as free anything. The town would surely waste some of these ole boy's taxes on this "free land". So, all the grumpy old men decided over their coffee they were against it.

Against free land? I could not believe the uproar 2 summers ago. If it became a town park, my neighbor was positive it would become a hang out for all 3 or 4 trouble making punks we might have here in town. He could not understand my ambivalence and reticent attitude about joining the fight against accepting free for nothing land. I was and still am of the opinion that the more public land, the better. There was no such thing as too small.

It was decided to turn this parcel into a town preserve with a loop trail. But the town coffers could not be used to pay for any improvements. And much needed doing. The original house had to razed and hauled away. It was past redemption. The cellar hole filled in and grading done. The only outbuildings saved would be the small barn and the one hole outhouse out in the pucker.

Donations of time, money, and labor were sought and found. The necessary inprovements spread over the last 2 years ended with a nice cedar fence and nice plastic coated signs pointing in the right direction.

A short 1/2 mile outer loop connected roughly in the middle by the ever popular 1/4 mile Trail #2. The 2 trails are exercises in minimalism. Other than cutting out saplings and deadfall and raking away some debris in the way, this town park remains for the most part in the capricious hands of Mother Nature.

The improvements are just right. 15 minute walking laps with slight changes in elevations make for a very sweet little dog walking area. Stub is in dog heaven every day when we head over to work out the kinks of an uncomforatble night's sleep. Starting down Trail #1 frantically she is quickly lost around the first bend. By the time I have finished my first 1/2 mile lap, she has crisscrossed with her 5 mile version.

So I have my own semi-private park now. It isn't much, but surely it beats that god awful surburban McMansion Ben White built out back. I appreciate my little park now. I am beginning to really enjoy my time spent there. It has worked itself into the erratic schedule of my life, offering a few moments away without making any sacrifice. I should and do consider my self lucky to have it so close.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ebay - An ill-fated excursion through resale Hell

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Self-smitten with pretentious computer geekness, I strode through the front doors of that scary monster Ebay Internet super store earlier today. First thing in the morning, right out of the sack, I was sure of myself. Pumped full of caffiene and freshly brushed breath, I exuded confidence. I had no pre-sweat, clamy hands, or odd facial tics. I was going to turn my first Ebay encounter into a conquest. No way was I going to hang nervous on the fringes and let this evil retail ogre, so innocuously named Ebay intimdate me.

You didn't scare me Ebay. When I logged in this A.M. You were no big deal. Nothing to get my panties in a bunch over. Just another website run by chumps with thick glasses who use plastic liners for their pens in the pocket of their buttoned up nice and tight collared shirts bought from Walmart. Their spindly white boy arms sticking out of those short cotton sleeves Twiggy skinny and pale. Picking their nose with one hand while typing in some insidious trap with the other girly hand. They laugh and cackle as they seek code to destroy and humilate all noobs.

No way Ray! Go jump in the lake Jake! I'll own your sorry butts in a moment or two,...Stu! This 50-something pear-shaped good ole boy from the woods of Maine was not going to get trapped in your game. Ayuh! That was the plan Stan. The overall scheme Jean.

That's how my day started anyway. Full of myself. I breezed through re-newing all that was necessary to become another Ebay overnight success. Brought all accounts up to date. Put new pass words in place. Each category was properly filled, fulfilled and happy.

I shut the computer down. Striking out with a light step and a pleased with myself demeanor, I headed to the bike shop. When I got home, I would put that first end of the season bike shop orphan on the auction block. Yes, listing that first bike would be a piece of cake. Take an hour, maybe even two. Getting my account straightened out was the hard part...........Riiiiight.

That was 12 hours earlier today when the day was full of promise. Now, well, all I can say is, today took what it promised when the Sun came up and stuffed it up my sorry butt.

Sat down around 8:00 P.M. Punched up the puter, cracked my fingers and with steady hands hit the Ebay bookmark. Which is just about the time it all went South. Ebay wouldn't let me log in. Disgusted with this first sizable glitch, I fired off a moderately pissed off email hitting the high spots on my first malfunction. Of course as soon as I sent the email, I was able to log in before that Email got half way to Sanford.

I then managed to flounder into the right window to list something to sell. I decided I ought to at least say I read the directions. I located the highly touted audio-visual "How to Sell Tutorial" window. This helpful guide would tell me all I needed to know to make Millions and Gillions from all the useless junk that has been collecting dust these last 9 years in the bike shop basement. Even ran this helpful "How To" piece twice just to make sure I didn't understand it the first time.

"Screw it", I thought, "If twice through doesn't do it, learn by doing". So I threw the directions out into the internet ether. Definitely a guy thing. Directions have an irritating habit of adding confusion to befuddlement.

Next, I spent an hour uploading pictures, entering specs and picking all the spiffy little extras that would ensure a robust and heated Auction. It was now time to figure up the shipping and handling costs. So of course one of those really irritating "update now" pop-ups popped up. Happy as if I had a brain, I mindlessly followed the directions with a reflexive deep mucle memory punch of the cursor that should have been labeled, "Yeah, sure I'm an idiot. I"ll just punch this button here."

Seems that ole Bill Gates doesn't approve of programs created by those losers in California named Apple,Inc. Yes, I felt personally, the animosity and dis-respect they had for each other. As soon as I hit the upload button, my computer flashed........>


And that's just what my new computer did. Turned itself off. Cut me out of the WWW loop. So abrupt was the crash, the supposedly saved listing was shot out into the stratosphere someplace. I imagine it is somewhere between here and the Moon about now.

I was stunned and my mind was now blank. Rather than walk away for a few, I spent another fruitless 1/2 hour trying send April of the online help chatroom a healthy piece of my mind. That did not work and I stumbled around the Ebay underground for another hour until I found the top secret hidden and only found by accident bonafide "Contact Us" spot. I hope they take that final email as just another brainless rant by an obvious clueless noob who has done a very poor job of handling the bite he thought he could chew.

Please Lord deliver me from the nighmare I am trapped in. Bring back the sanity. Sooth my addled mind and wipe the drool from my chin. Uncross my eyes Lord. Once a proud World Wide Web retro-grouch, I sit here a humbled and pitiful Internet reprobate.

Would someone please give me a straight jacket and provide the GPS coordinates of the nearest rubber room? I am ready Betty. Ready to check in and maybe never check out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

High Speed Chase

I often have no clue about what to post here. And rather than post the same old blogging rant, American Idol suck up, or add to the mountains of political blog crap, I choose to post nothing. I always figure it is better to say nothing than waste my time and yours with words that are there just because I can.

My loyal fanbase of about 10 people do not seem to mind these lengthy breaks. And I would certainly not want to overwhelm them with too much of a good thing. But a blog that is not kept up is a sad blog. So I have decided to pick up the pace and post more than once a week or so. Today is the start of the streak.

The High Speed Chase

It appears a homeowner in Arkansas tried to do a little too much multi-tasking over the weekend. Everyone knows that weekends are Miller Time. And every one of us who owns a house with a yard attached knows weekends are also Mowing time.

Michael Ginevan of Bunker Hill Arkansas apparently decided to cram as much fun and work into the weekend as possible. Going on the assumption that all work and all play could never be dull, Mike strapped a case of beer to the hood of his lawn tractor and we presume meant to mow his lawn. Makes sense if one has limited time to indulge and also be expected to keep that Better Homes and Gardens look.

Anyway, at some point that day, Mike lost track of what he was doing I guess. He was spotted by local police scooting down the road in an erratic and dangerous manner. And when the police officer attempted to pull him over, Mike grinned and punched it. He was not going to be taken alive.

Reaching speeds of up to 10 MPH, the cop had to finally abandon his patrol car and continue the chase on foot. As the officer closed in, he bravely threw his body into harms way and knocked Mike off the tractor.

Mike continued his beligerent and drunken toot by refusing to take a field sobriety test. Now Mike sits in the county lock up on $7500 bail and is charged with DUI, unlawful fleeing, and obstructing an officer. Seems Mike had himself one Helluva weekend.

The only reason I brought this story up is that it reminded me of my college days. One of those current events that brings back memories of foolishness from our past.

As a college student whose family lived 600 miles away, it was not always convenient to go home for every silly vacation the educators managed to snake into every semester. So I would head home with a college buddy for the 4 or 5 days we had off.

One such vacation, I went with Tommy to his home in the heart of Maryland tobacco country. To earn some extra cash, we worked on a local tobacco farm owned by some of Tom's relatives for a few days. It was hard work. Hanging bundles of tobacco plants in wooden barns 30 feet off the ground.

The farm was a family owned operation as most farms in the 70s were. The patriarch who was about 70 years old worked as hard as anyone. I remember asking Tom if the guy ever took a break. Tom said his great uncle's idea of leisure was to throw two cases of warm Black Label beer into the Massey Ferguson tractor and head out to disk the fields for the day. He would head out at dawn and not come home until the Sun set. And not one can of Black Label came back full.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Warning - Chilhood Memory Alert

I always smile when I see or hear the word "brainwash". When I was a small fry during the 50s, the term brainwashing came into it's own. "Manchurian Candidate", Korea, blah, blah, blah.

As a kid sitting around our rambunctious dinners, the adult conversation almost always went right over my head. Often my dad would say something and smile. Mom would either smile or frown and reply, "You just get that dirty little mind of yours out of the gutter".

As kids we often key in on words and form opinions on their meaning with the literal and limited experience of the few years we have been in existence. I can remember wondering about my dad's "dirty little mind" and what that meant.

One night at dinner, my father's dirty mind was brought up again. Out of the blue, I piped up, "Well if Dad's mind is so dirty, maybe he oughta get it brainwashed."

I will always remember the instant silence at the table and 4 sets of eyes turning to me. I thought I was in trouble. But then an eruption of laughter made me feel safe again.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Colvin Closes the Door

"The Game of the Century" one idiot sportscaster called it. From the build up and hype that started a few weeks ago, one would think we were having 2 Super Bowls this year. Granted it was unusual if not unheard of for two unbeaten teams this far into the season to meet in a regular season game. Who would be crowned Super Bowl Champs before they even played the game?

The New England Patriots at 8-0 and the Indianapolis Colts at 7-0 finally put the question to rest for some, but for me it only meant one team was left in the NFL with a chance to go unbeaten this year. It would be great for them to finally take some smugness away from the Dolphins still left from the last unbeaten team in 1972, but I just want them to have their chance at another Super Bowl. That is the real prize. Passing records, unbeaten seasons, and QB ratings mean squat if you do not wear the ring.

I am a real New England fan. I have become used to being teased with great runs and accustomed and resigned to having them blow up. So I start every game on the couch with anticipation of possible disappointment. I never assume any game is a done deal. I have seen my Pats lose to teams not even worthy to wear the moniker NFL on their jerseys. And I turned the tube on sure the Pats would be whupped and whupped hard, only to be outrageously impressed when they somehow hang on to win.

I knew this match up with the Colts was no done deal. The Colts reinforced my knotting stomach when on the first play of the Pat's first possesion, they sacked Brady for a huge loss. The following abrupt 3 and out nailed this point home.

Uh oh. We have a ball game here. The Colts have their own idea of who is going to win. And the for the next 3 quarters, the Colts basically owned the RCA dome. As each minute ticked by, I became more ill at ease. I didn't care if the Pats went unbeaten , but to lose to the Colts would be worse than losing to the 49ers. And the 49ers are every team's bitch this year.

In the 4th quarter when Manning pulled a quarterback sneak and took the score to 20-10, I had all but thrown in the towel. The Colt's record of umpteen games in a row when they did not relinquish a lead in the 4th quarter loomed large. They knew how to bear down. They knew how to finish a win.

I had noticed that Brady seemed even more confident this year. But I assumed it was because he had all the new weapons. Moss, Welker, etc. But no that was not it. I think Tom Brady has finally come to believe in himself to such a level that he really believes he can pull out a win when he puts his mind to it. He came out for their turn and in two series of possesion lasting less than 3 minutes total took the 20-10 deficit and turned it into a 24-20 lead leaving the Colts with barely 3 minutes to come back. And he walked off the field, his job done.

The Defense then took the Colts to school and showed them how the Pats know how to finish. A strip sack after the pocket collapsed left Manning on his face and the Pats with 2 minutes to kill. And they did like it was their job. What a great game. By both teams.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The 50s

I was born in 1952. I was born during a war, the Korean War. My father, an upper echelon Air Force officer in Pac Af was doing what he did. I spent the rest of the decade with my family following him from one fire to another to help keep our shores safe from the commies. To me the 50s were great. I was a kid fer chrisakes. I can remember Pinky Lee, Howdy Doody, and wondering why my family wasn't like the Cleavers. I remember Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show and my mom wondering out loud why anyone thought this was music. I grew up with Televison. Maybe the first generation that did.

I had much older brothers who brought home the first inklings things were not all white picket fences, humongous cars with outrageous fins, and White Castle burgers for a dime apiece. They infected the house with their rocknroll, their Elvis doos, and white tee shirts with a pack of Luckys rolled up in one sleeve. One brother rolled on the right. The other on the left. They were double trouble with a capital T.

While the 50s unfolded, untended issues began to simmer and occaisionally boil over. The idyllic life sought for and actually started by our country after WWll began to show some cracks. Blacks were getting fed up. The white youth were getting angry. And our cultural and political leaders chose to ignore what was obviously building a head of steam. An ugly undercurrent of discontent beneath the Father Knows Best facade.

It was probably Oct 1962 when America really understood the Life of Riley from the 50s was over. The Red Menace was real. The Cuban Missle crisis scared an entire nation, instilling a far more realistic fear than our more recent 9/11. We faced the reality of the nuclear horror we had helped to build. Canned goods, blankets and bottles of water were hauled to school. Air raid drills became part of every school day. The clueless innocence was over. Or at the least irrevocably damaged. Then the next summer, 1963, the rise of the civil rights movement was the final blow to the mindless 50s.

Many events coming into their own in the early 60s caused us to discard the wonderful life we had so few years earlier. Without the decade of TV's coming of age and injection into our national soul, we might have skated for a few more years. Televison during the 1950s connected us like no other medium had before. Events unfolding 3000 miles away in real time not described through others eyes, but in front of us to describe for ourselves. Nothing sped the process of change like televison did. We have never been nor will we ever be the same again.
Thanks to AhabtheArab of Political Hotwire for getting me started on this one