Sunday, June 29, 2008

An American Moving Adventure

I am sitting here at my own desk in front of my own computer on Sunday morning. I know now I am finally home. The church bells down to the Congo Church just fired off. Damn, what a comforting sound.

I sit and try to sort through the madness of the past 7 days. Frantic last minute preparations before we left to the resigned acceptance of a job that needed doing but wished we could watch someone else do it. Then the trip back with more than 10 pounds of shit in the rented 5 pound bucket. So many things were crammed into the last 7 days, I am now finding it difficult to find one thing that stands out.

I guess the trip is not "officially" over. We still have to dump Lis' stuff into the storage locker and return the trailer. Anything now would be anti climatic. The child has been spanked. We made it to North Carolina and back again. And as nice as UNC, Chapel Hill was, I hope to not return for quite awhile. At this point, my memories consist of heat, grunting furniture up or down stairs, and more heat. Mixed in, some moments of quiet and humor that knocked enough of the edge off to help us remain sane.

The Move

Packed up for trip South. The green tarp hides all the suitcases, boxes, pads and other moving goodies needed for the move. Naturally, a bike had to go. Just in case a chance to ride offered itself.

From stairwell of Lis' apartment. I got the trailer in that space on the first stab. With that damn Envoy on the left crowding the space the whole time. We are now ready to load.

Almost full. Some mattresses and last minute items brought the load 2 inches from the door. My bike and Lis' bikes plus some who cares if they get wet items had to go in the back of the Ranger. In the moving biz we used to call that "overflow". I spent almost one whole summer picking up other driver's "overflows" and delivering them to finish a move.

Freighted and ready to go! Notice the definite dip in the nose of the trailer. U-Haul says to pack 60% of the weight in front of the center line of the trailer. The tongue of the trailer should dip down slightly. I seemed to have been successful in meeting these U-Haul rules. The load traveled well. No side to side whipping and the rough roads seemed no worse than usual. The V-six engine held it's own. The truck impressed me. Especially given the amount of stuff I crammed into the 6x12 trailer. After some miles of experimenting, I found that 58mph was about the ideal speed for safe efficiency. Faster made the load seem unstable. Slower did not seem to make it feel better. I averaged around 15 miles to the gallon also. Better than expected.

Some Interludes

I did get to get out on my bike a few times in the mornings before the temps kicked in with the 100'F days we had while in North Carolina. I did not recognize this bird. It is not a Heron. It is not an Egret. I think it is a Crane of some kind. Regardless, it was a big bird. At least 3 feet tall.

Nothing more magnificent than a Magnolia tree in full bloom. They are awesome plants. This flower was on a tree over 45' high.

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And of course a shot of my favorite riding partner. It was a pleasure for me to have Lis show me some of the nice bike paths she has had at her disposal these last 2 years.

The Welcoming Committee

My official 'Welcome Home" was by this cantankerous resident from the woods below my house. As I climbed the hill with the trailer in tow, I found him/her struggling to get across the road. Why? Who knows why a snapping turtle would want to cross the road. My guess is the marsh down the hill was the draw. Some delectable fat frogs were just waiting for this beauty to make a meal of them. And maybe laying eggs was in the plans also.

Snapper decided that having me come up on it was a good reason to stop in the middle of the road. And stay stopped. After some minutes of taking pictures and protecting it from being flattened, I decided to try and shoo it along it's way. Having none of it, Snapper here tried to take my toes out. What to do?

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Ah, I figured it out. I had my two wheeler in the truck. I scooped it up and safely deposited it in the dirt next to the woods. Snapper hissed at me, looked around, and decided that this crisis was over and continued it's trek to stinkier climes.

Even though this Snapper is way smaller than the ones I used to mess with as a kid. I learned that size does not matter. A snapper will hurt you in an instant. They may be slow on their feet, but Mr. Man, do not, I repeat, do not place anything delicate and tender within a foot of the head. They will hurt you. Welcome Home Mike!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Futon

Three years ago before my Lis' Senior year in college, she went shopping. Not the usual, "I need 20 new pairs of shoes and where did I see those sports bras on sale" type shopping. Lis was going to live in her first apartment. Kinda, well, pretty close to the real deal I guess. She scored one of the senior apartments with 3 other girls. Naturally she had to have a futon to cram into her 4 x 8 space everyone called "her room". I referred to it as "her closet".

Lis and my wife went futon shopping. I was spared the agony of the initial buying trip. They wisely left me home. As an ex-mover, I learned to hate specific types of furniture. Futons were definitely on the list. Or would have been had they been invented or popular back in the day when I grunted folk's furniture from the old home to the new one. 

 What is it with futons and kids in college? It has to be absolutely the most popular, first choice besides concrete block shelves for every American kid going after a college degree. It's as if a switch goes off when they hit college. The futon switch. Either that or Bob's Furniture and Mattresses R Us have figured out who to bribe to add some kind of hand out with each high school diploma. I can remember seeing the damn things being carted out of the dorms by the hundreds at the end of her Freshman year. Seeing their generally lightweight construction and poor shape after just one year of college, I decided that for the most part, they must be junk. I asked Lis what they were and she gave me one of the rolly eyed parents are such dopes look. "They are futons Dad. Jeez. I want one too." She was a hip sophomore after all. Not some dumb Freshman without a clue. 

 Bobbi Ann and Lis come home from futon shopping. They found one in Portland at some discount mattress place across from the Maine Mall. It was not in stock. They had to order it. A week later I am drafted to go pick it up. We get to the store and the clerk on duty looks at us like we have 3 heads when we ask for our futon. Awkward moments ensue as I begin steaming over finding out they sold it on us. But they can re-order. Never mind the Maine Mall is an hour drive from Acton. Never mind I hate the damn futons in the first place. This is the beginning of my hate-hate relationship with my little girl's first piece of furniture she picked out for herself. 

 I have now moved that damn futon 3 times and am about to cram it into yet one more moving vehicle. So far, I have taken it assembled and found a way to work it into the load. This time, I wanted my revenge. On the excuse that the trailer I rented may come up short on cubic feet for the cubic feet of stuff Lis has, I told her I was going to take it apart. She did not seem comfortable with the idea. Like it was some sort of magical machine that only "futon masters" duly licensed could take on. But she knew I was serious. That futon was coming apart. I was going to love every minute dinky piece I could break it down into. And that's what I did. With the exception of the mattress, I can pretty much fit the frame into a golf bag. Well a big golf bag maybe. 

 No more springing open just when I almost have it in it's spot in the truck. No more fighting it into an elevator or tight stairwell and then having it spring open. That futon is now under control. Unincorporated. Disassembled. Broken down to it's basic steel components. The evil has been unscrewed and freed to find some other piece of equipment to jinx. The futon will sit docile and behave on the way back to Maine. I have finally won. 

 The girls are at a AAA Baseball game tonight. I opted out. It's hot and I could really enjoy a few moments without one thing to do but relax. Watching a ball game just didn't do it for me. Besides Lis and Bobbi need some time alone to plan the next "Let's confound and befuddle Dad" escapade. 

 See Ya. .............

  Post Script - I had no computer available nor the energy to post this when it should have been. It is now up under it's original post date , but actually I'm being sneaky and posting it Saturday night right after we found our driveway and are now home safe. Hauling that trailer was quite the trip.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Getting Juices to Flow

I spend time away from this blog thinking of things to write about. Heading into work, raking or mowing, riding my bike are all moments when ideas pop into my head. I think,"Now that would be cool to write about. Yeah if I just had a piece of paper and a pencil to remind me of it later."

I never have the paper or the pencil handy. In truth, the activity that frees up my mind so it can stumble upon the great ideas is better left uninterrupted. Muscles engaged in mindless motion tend to work better if not interrupted. So I hope I will remember but know I most likely won't. I follow through with the plan at the moment and 5 minutes later that wonderful kerneled idea has disappeared.

Okay. I still made a promise to write something everyday if I could. A promise to myself I am trying to keep. So with the great idea wandering out there miles away after touching down for moment in my mind, I have to dig elsewhere for subject matter.

I have tried all sorts of things to finagle a post out of myself. Cruising Photobucket after punching in the first keyword that comes to mind into the search engine. I once concocted a whole post after looking at 40 thousand million pictures based on the word "thong". I can't remember if the piece was worth a second look or not.

I will often think back through my day and see if my damaged short term memory is showing a spark. Try to remember one thing that happened that made me mad, made me glad, or made me sad. Seems there is always something like that in any day. But usually the short term memory is short on spark and hard into hibernation mode. It doesn't like to get stressed out. It turns on for a few hours a day, but only during business hours.

Then there is the Photo Safari. I grab my camera and go outside, inside, or beside and find something to shoot and then write about. This has worked with mixed results. I often end up with 40 pictures of rocks, rotten blown down trees, fungus and ferns.

I am not above poaching from other blogs either. Someone will write a post about something and it will cause me to consider what my take might be. If I had not considered that idea before, writing about it can often give me a perspective I did not know I had.

All of this is fine and dandy. But I find that my best, or should I say, my favorite posts are the ones I never see coming. They are not sought out. They find me. I will sit down and stare at the empty "create" window for a few minutes and then some inner voice will take control of my fingers and I will begin to type.

I used to call this stream of consciousness writing. And at one time I am sure it was. But now I will spew it out. Just let it fly. Pound the keys until there ain't no more. Sit back, take a breath and tear back into it with my editor cap on. Sometimes I toss the whole mess. But sometimes, on a rare occasion I will polish it up into something I can send to the presses.

This post is another attempt at pre-scheduling a post so it will publish while I am trudging and fighting my way south to North Carolina to pack up my little girl and move her back to Maine. This post is not fresh, but frozen fresh and will hopefully thaw out on time to see the light of day on June 24. When you read this I will be hundreds of miles away and most likely muttering under my breath about the last bozo in a car who did some dumb ass four wheeler trick in front of me. Damn I hate driving on I-95.

I'll leave you with this interesting rendition of Alfred Hitchcock. His movies were never dull.

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Evening After the Rain in Chapel Hill

This is a post with at least a couple of notable firsts. The first being I am writing and posting this not from my usual position in front of my computer at home, but standing up at a kitchen counter in North Carolina. The kitchen counter is rented. It is included with the apartment my daughter will be paying for until the end of this month. It's an okay counter. The height is just right to type standing up. There's no table to spread out on anymore. One of her roomates found a job a couple of weeks ago and moved out lock stock, and table to Dallas, Texas. So my first real time long distance post delivery is done standing at a kitchen counter with Mikey the goldfish looking on with critical eye. I am not sure if he has a bemused look, or is he just making sure I don't get frantic with my typing and knock the poor bastard off the counter I am sharing with him. Either way, Mikey the goldfish is keeping close tabs on me.

The second notable first is I am using a lap top computer for the first and I hope the only time in my life. The keys are enough different that my normal comfort here is way out of whack. But I guess it's a good lap top. It's getting er done.

The trip down here from Maine was nowhere near as bad as I had built it up to be in my mind before we started. Truth be told, an uninteresting trip with nothing of real note happening. I don't think we even saw an accident. I ran into no characters worth mentioning. Every person out there on the I-95 was busy making it from point A to Point B. No histronics or fuss, just folks busy traveling.

Of course the events and anxieties of the pre trip gyrations yesterday morning certainly covered any concerns I had about missing out on the stress of traveling. All week previous I could feel the tension rising and the emotional controls being kicked into gear. The more I insisted I was taking it as it came, the screws became a tad tighter as I struggled to remember all the important crap to not forget for the trip. Trailer hitches, boxes, tape, packing paper, tarps, and last but no least those personal items like clothes, toothbrush and an extra pair of flip flops incase I suffer a blow out in the old pair. Good thing I made a list and checked it at least once before we left.

My wife became irritated yesterday morining. At whatever ungodly hour she wanted us to leave, found me not even in the same ballpark. Loading the truck up with all the moving supplies took 2 hours longer than I figured. I made sure what I took would make it through any precipitation might encounter. I was not even close to meeting her scedule. A perfect set-up for a rocky start. SHe got pissy. I got pissy back. I said if she was gonna be pissy, I would slow right down.

"You mean you can actually go slower? I did not think it was possible."

Well I showed her. If my normal turtle pace was not fast enough....... hey, packing into an open truck bed can be tricky if dry is what you are after.......Anyway, if she thought I was slow now, over the next hour, I proved I had lower speed limits I could maintain. We left around 8:30AM only 2 & 1/2 hours later than she had planned.

As it turns out, we made it just fine. Any pain we suffered was self inflicted. And in a few days, I get to repeat it, just in the opposite direction.

The Nun picture has nothing what so ever to do with this post.


Balls with Big Shanks

I have many miles and many years of experience driving vehicles that bend in the middle. Over the road hauling 40,000 pounds of whatever to where ever. The quality of the equipment I used to haul this whatever depended on the company I drove for.

But one thing was consistent. The hitch system to hook up the power unit to the loaded trailer to be hauled. The trucking industry had long ago settled on standards that allowed a tractor made in PA to haul a trailer made in California. The fifth wheels( those circular flat pads with a V shaped slot on the back of tractors) were standard. As was the king pin standard(the little knob that hangs down from the underneath of the trailer and slides into the fifth wheel). I never gave a thought to whether or not my tractor could hook up to that trailer. I took it for granted.

Fast forward to here and now. Mike needs to find the right setup for his truck to tow a 2,000 pound trailer back from North Carolina to Maine. Mike has entered the world of trailer hitches, trailer hitch balls and receivers. I went into this not even considering it could get complicated. As usual, I was wrong. The world of hitches, balls ands receivers is a world of nuances and hard, do not blow it, fast rules to consider.

Trailer tongue weights. Gross trailer weight. What ball size to use. 1&7/8"? 2"? or be a real man and go for the 2&5/16" ball? What shank size fits what receiver, 3/4", 1", or something even bigger. Hitch extension. Hitch adaptors. And last but not least, the drop or rise needed in the hitch to mate just right with that little honey of a trailer you plan coupling with.

So many things to consider, I wish I had not even looked into it. Just gone with the hitch and ball I already had. But I visited the Internet. I decided to look into this. There is something to the idea of too much information when all it does is make you crazy because you cannot decide between a 3/4" shank on the ball or a 1" shank on the ball. Should I go with a 2" rise or a 3" drop in the hitch I pick?

Aaargh! I have been dealing with this off and on for 2 weeks now. And then the day before the day before we were to leave for North Carolina, I decide to do something about it. And I decided to do it after work leaving me a very small window of time in which to do it.

Wasting precious fuel in the pursuit of the perfect hitch setup, I hit some auto parts stores, then Mardens and finally Loew's 30 miles away. And I crammed the visits into a 2 hour time spread. In those two hours I looked at a mind boggling number of choices and options. Again like the Internet, too much information. But the screws were tightening. I had to make a decision. I bought some balls, a couple of hitches with varying drops, and to top it all off a couple of to go wrenches so I could actually install the equipment when I picked up the trailer. In this case I figured having more than I needed would cut the chances of an expensive "on the road" solution down to a minimum.

So wish me luck. Although it will be retroactive luck. For when you read this, I will already be in the Belly of the Beast I call the I-95 corrider. Be back Saturday if all the stars line up right.

Post Script - A minor milestone has been made I guess. This should be my 500th post. Only took me 3 1/2 years.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Test

This is a test. Do not adjust your set. I could say I control the horizontal. I could say I control the vertical. But in reality, the little blogger genies inside this 'puter are in control now. If what they have promised me happens, you folks should be reading this without my actually punching it up for your viewing pleasure. They will have done it for me.

I am trying out the "Scheduled Publishing" feature Blogger has installed to respond to the same function found in Wordpress. Competition is great ain't it?

I am going to try and keep my posts coming even though I will be tripping to North Carolina and back. I will be gone for a week or so. My daughter has her Masters now. She has decided North carolina is best left to North Carolinians and she is moving back to Maine. It helps all of us that she has also scored a good job at the University of Southern Maine. 19 years of school are about to show some rewards.

Stoned Again - A Lost Work of "Art" Found

I found something I had written long ago gathering dust with dried up little bug critters squished between the pages. I have no clue how they found their way into a box sealed for the last 30 years. But they did. Four or five notebook pages hand scratched with a pencil that did not have an eraser. I assume this because rather than erase a mistake, I just scratched it out and moved on. I must have had a drug induced delusion of grandeur. I had begun a piece of fiction.

Who knows? I might have even decided that this was the one. The grand story that would put me at the front of the line at Random House. After struggling through the chicken scratch, I decided I might have actually been aiming this piece in the direction of "High Times" or maybe "Rolling Stone". It's pretty bizarre and a reflection of where my mind was back then. Or where my mind wasn't. I honestly do not remember writing this. But there it was. My patented capitals only writing where I just make the first letter of a sentence or name bigger than the rest.

I noticed some things right off the bat. I am much better at putting coherent thought to paper now than I was back then. Sentences stretched 30-40 words. Not one single paragraph break. And punctuation, well what's that? The spelling was cool. I caught onto spelling at an early age. Early enough that my drugged years were not able to erode it's solid foundation. I could be comatose and still nail most normal words humans run into.

So here it is. I doubt anyone can tell me where this one came from. I have re-worked it some. No, make that re-worked it a lot. I also abbreviated it. Much of it.....okay most of stupidity cubed. But I find it amusing now.

It was appropriately titled "Stoned Again"

The cheap 3 for a dollar hash pipe fell into his lap just as he finished firing up the little chunks of "Black Rubber" with the Bic he stole from Jake. The red hot coals scattered and were lost inside the folds and wrinkles of his jeans clad crotch. Like Indian smoke signals, wisps of smoke floated upward from those nooks and crannies in his pants. As he frantically collected all he could find, he tried to remember how many chunks he had hacked off the quarter ounce and thrown in the pipe. Was it 6 or was it 8? He had located 5 to this point. At least one was still loose doggin it.

He considered what to do now. The recently returned smoldering chunks in the pipe drew his attention away from the potential fire event in his pants. "That last piece is probably out," he thought. "Have to finish the bowl before all that beautiful hash goes up in smoke." So he threw all his attention to the job at hand. He filled his lungs one more time and sat back snick, snick, snicking with eyes bulging as the hash smoke expanded in his lungs.

All the while in his pants down near his naughty bits that lost chunk of black hash was busy. Heated to combustion temperature, it quickly passed through the faded jeans he was wearing and found a home just shy of one of the boys. The aroma of melting hair should have clued him in but he was oblivious and focused on finishing the bowl he started. He yanked another pull on the last glass pipe he had of the dozen he scored not 2 months ago. As he toked he whined to himself and to no one particular, "Those damn glass pipes. Just don't hold up. Sit on em once and they're toast."

All he could think about was had he been smart, he would have bought more while they were on sale. That would have resolved the issue. He did not dwell on the fact that at least two of those cheap glass pipes had opened up some sizable gashes in his ass when they did break. His ole lady even tried to get him to get the one cut stitched up. He promised he'd get around to it. And then promptly forgot about it. Forgotten that is until it flared up into a pus oozing mess that made sitting an uncomfortable inconvenience for several weeks while he took antibiotics and had it drained a few times.

The misplaced piece of red hot hash finally worked it's way through the bunched pubic hair and sizzled in for a landing right next to Lefty. The hash toking came to an abrupt halt as our hero sprung from his barco lounge position to full standing alert and flailing at his crotch trying to put that piece of hash out of his misery. Almost leaving his feet when he jumped up, he hit the street light he had found and thought was so cool to wire up and dangle only 5 feet over the coffee table in the living room. Caught his head perfect and knocked his stoned butt right out.

And then this narrative begins to really disintegrate. A series of sentences had been started and then cast aside and a new series started. One had Hash boy once again visiting the hospital for self inflicted drug use stupidity.

Another had his ole lady finding him and tearing into him for bleeding on the new fake oriental rug.

And finally something about cops, bad dudes from downtown and a stolen bicycle. The narrative never really got started again.

All I can figure is I must have gotten hand cramps, become bored, or passed out. Even back then I would often write to ward off the occasional bouts of insomnia.

And one final note - As is my habit of late, I wanted to find some suitable images to go with this post. I typed in the word "Hookah" into the Photobucket search machine. 7,882 images became available for me to wind my way through. 7,882 pictures of hookahs, people using hookahs, and at least one of a dog and a hookah. I made it to page 150 before my eyes began to cross and I felt the beginnings of a contact high coming on. I am just amazed at the things folks take pictures of. 7,882 images. Wow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chillin with Frank

I allowed the cover of the latest "US News & World Report" to get me all fired up. As fear mongering a cover as I have ever seen. I sat down and wrote a scathing piece on their failure to represent Journalism in the responsible way they usually have for years. I rambled on for miles and miles. Worked up a real sweat hunched over the keys. I am sure my facial expressions contorted this way and that.

When I was done I went to bed. Got up this morning and reviewed what I had written. There is indeed something to the term "sleep on it". I did feel better after laying into US News and the political process in general. But the post was crap. I know it was crap. And you would to if I posted it. Take my word on this.

In lieu of that bloated and angry post, I always have Frank to put me back in the center. Zappa and I came up together. I don't mean we actually were buds or anything. But his emergence as an artist and my evolution into a thinking human being conincided at the right time. He was not my hero. But he always made me think. His music was complex. His lyrics often cut through the bullshit right to the center of American culture. And he was the "kiss my ass" poster child. All at a time when I harbored the same outlook.

So when I get manic or down, I will often google Frank and try to find one more thing about him I did not know. I will try to read one more quote I had not read before. As "Hot Rats" rips through my headphones at volume WOW, I find some kind of inner peace. I realize that Frank is right. Frank was almost always right. And I miss him.

"To me — absurdity is the only reality." How right you are Mr Zappa.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Internet Suburbia

I'm a white guy with my hat turned sideways, a gold chain dangling hard and the crotch of my pants hanging just above my ankles. I consider myself pretty fly for a white guy....................... Most fantasies really are in our heads.

"What it is!"

Bro, I'll tell you what it is. I've been hanging around this Ghetto they call the Internet for what? About 12 years now? It has been awhile. I started in newsgroups and used emoticons that were real emoticons - ;0 - :>) , etc. Not those silly ass smiley faces I refuse to use. I am a forum veteran who learned to tear down my opponent, disembowel him and then laugh as he suffered the agony of superior pwnage. As there are always bigger and nastier gangsta fish in any sea, I learned that I too could be pwned.

So here I am in the blogosphere now. Have been for 3 & 1/2 years. A kinder and gentler place. Call it the Internet Suburbia. A community of people who are into interaction but have built nice little yards and fences around themselves to keep the riff raff out. A place where self indulgence and pontificating can be practiced to the extreme without interference or comment if they so choose. They can make their little homes exclusive. Only members may enter. They can pick one subject and beat it to death. Or expound and expand on anything and everything under the Sun. They have control over their domain. Perfect for a white kid like me raised in middle class denial.

I started my blog in late 2004. Since Google had made it idiot proof, I figured it would be a breeze. And considering the high opinion I had of myself, I just knew I was gonna make waves, make folks all over this globe sit up and take notice. I did this after visiting no more than a half dozen blogs found by hitting the "next blog" button at the top of my own page. The first few were either in Sanskrit or pimply faced juvies rambling on about who lusted after who in Mr Jenkins' English class. Man, was I going to make an impact.

As I said earlier, most fantasies are really in our heads. After a year of blogging, writing words I was sure folks would enjoy, I noticed one day, "Hey. No one is stopping by. And if they are, they are not commenting. Whazupwiddat?"

I began a concerted effort at finding out why I had no audience. I visited many blogs. Hundreds. I was sometimes amazed at the depth of thought. I was often underwhelmed by the lack of thought. The quality and effort that went into blogs was all over the map. Some dazzled me with their accessories. Videos, fancy backgrounds, lists of all types, and images that really grabbed me. Others like Baghdad Burning and Fumbling Toward Divinity awed me with their writing.

I sat down with my critical eye screwed in place and really tore into my blog. I re-read my posts and came to an unpleasant conclusion. First of all it had no accessories. No hooks to draw folks in except my words. And unfortunately, as much as I would like to consider myself another Steinbeck or Asimov, being able to spell is about as close I will ever come to them. My blog had no focus. Blogs like vintage chainsaw collection and Noah at KC Bike Commuting had focus. They did one thing and did it well. My blog was about nothing and everything. No continuity. My blog had no bells and whistles like gjg is adding by the truckload to his blog. It was as the cartoon at the top makes fun of. I had nothing to say and gleefully shared that fact on a regular basis.

I brooded for awhile. I stopped blogging for awhile. Blog envy and my intermittent low self esteem had gotten the better of me. But eventually the manic part of my soul kicked me in the balls and I returned to my blog. I knew I wanted to write. I had been writing and filling spiral notebooks for years. And since this blog thing was the best receptacle I had ever found to hold securely thoughts I might want to re-read at some point, I began anew. I gave up caring if anyone stopped by.

But really. Did I stop caring? Hmm. Seems that denial thing of a white middle class upbringing was working overtime. I did small things to my blog on the premise that I wanted them. They were not for an audience that did not exist. I learned to add images. I began to visit other blogs and actually leave comments before I left. And I subscribed to a blogger forum to glean the hints and allegations of other bloggers more successful than I.

Now I am enjoying some visitors. How this has happened I have but the fainest idea. It certainly is not because my blog is dazzling in a visual sort of way. It is not because I have worked hard to make it better. I haven't. I think it is because I took the time to connect with other bloggers. Stop by their blogs regularly and really read what they had to say. I have not connected with everyone, but I have found friends out there in the blogging wilderness. I guess that is what this whole blogging thing is about. Connecting. And if I was not willing to make the first step, why should they? You can't make friends if you don't say "Howdy Neighbor" first.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Words That Don't Matter Anymore

People laugh at me for my retro grouch ways. Lift eyebrows when I get all excited over old school ways. I am often the butt of jokes when the subject turns to anything new and improved. But who's laughing now?

I'm not, that is fer sher. I had well over 500 words and a spiffy picture ready to post and it all disappeared. Yeah it might have been a fluke that the "save' button did not work at the same time my computer burped and went into convulsions causing those 500 plus words to wander off into the Bozone on their own and without a chaperon. Who knows who is now looking at the image I picked for the piece? Who can tell me where all those words will settle if at all? Are they destined to wander the halls of Internet back rooms forever? Never finding peace or a nice blog to settle into.

Thoughts left unattended can turn into ugly thoughts. Ideas without structure and form break down and become passing moments of inspiration unfulfilled. I feel for all those words as they are left in the dark to fend for themselves. The picture, well, I can download another clone in a heartbeat. But what's the point? Without the words to give it life, it is just a picture.

I am searching for answers here. The why of it. I know all that verbosity is now lost. Some of you may even be breathing a sigh of relief. But it still eats at me. At least if my dog ate it, I know where it went and what it will become in a few hours. But to have all that effort just go poof and vanish creates a tension inside I have trouble coming to grips with. I flippin hate it when machines do not do my bidding.

Interlude, Intermission, A Time Out

Okay, I have taken a break. I have poured another cup of coffee. I have gone outside for a moment or two. I have weeded some weeds. And I have taken some breaths. I allowed the mosquitoes to feast on my flesh. Purging through blood letting, the anger and frustration over another gadget letting me down.

What it all comes down to is this. When I leave this World I will not be allowed to take any baggage with me. Including the words I have written or contemplated writing. I will leave as I entered. Buck Nekid. Anything I have done besides the bad stuff will be left in a pile for others to sort out. I am guessing that the bad stuff will be used against me to figure out which neighborhood will accept me. But then maybe not. Regardless, I need to not worry about thoughts lost. I will have others. They do come and they do go. And besides, that post was nothing to crow about.

PS - It appears that my computer glitch was really some kind of machine born editing function. My post must have been so bad, even my computer would not process it. So consider yourselves lucky I guess.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

One Father's Father's Day

I was not going to post today. It's Father's Day. And since I am a father, I figured I could do anything I wanted. When I woke up, I decided I wanted no part of the blog today. All I wanted to do was go for a ride in the rain in the woods with some other Fathers who were doing what they wanted. It was our day and by God, if we wanted to exercise our stupidity to the max, then this day we could do it without guilt or regret.

It seems the manly bravado of yesterday's conversation at the bike shop melted away when some of the dads woke up this AM and buckets of water instead of rain were being dumped on southern Maine. Dave in particular was conspicuous by his absence. He was one of the loudest voices who chimed in agreement when I said, "Rain or shine dudes, we ride no matter what!" "

"Yeah dude! Alright! In town Loop! Burnt Car Loop! We're gonna ride it all!" Mutual chest thumping comments, all with jive ass macho emphasis that insinuates manly behaviour but often falls way short of the promise.

I head to the shop around 7:45 AM. On the way I keep having to bump up the hesitation switch of the wipers from casual to full bore. With each bump, I consider what breaking my word might mean. After all, I have bailed on rides before. No big deal. But I kept going. If for no other reason, the prospect of sitting around on a Sunday inside was even more depressing than the thought of a wet cold summer rain ride in Maine.

As I pull into the lot, -Jim of Jim-Jim is pedaling circles in front of the shop. He's already soaked to the bone, but he throws me a big smile like he was cheering me for even showing up. I parked and unloaded my riding gear. In the shop, I threw my bike on the stand to check it over before the ride. Normally I would not have done this, but the rain made me look for any excuse to not go out in it. Performing a bike check is a time honored way to do this. I look to be serious about riding. I am checking my bike. But with each cable checked, each tire checked and pivot bolts checked, I am successfully putting off the inevitable. -Jim of Jim-Jim just stood around dripping wet and grinned. He was getting used to my delaying ways.

Then Jim of Jim-Jim showed up. Shit! Looks like we ride. But Jim of Jim-Jim is in no hurry either. He goes into bike check mode also. He even says out loud, "I'm in no hurry to ride guys. It's wet out there."

He has spoken that which usually remains unspoken. He has stated what is on the minds of all present. It's raining. It's 48'F or so. And let's not rush into this.

Keith shows up and we all know we are going to have fulfill the bragging promises we made to ourselves yesterday. I change my clothes and pull on my helmet and gloves. Not being sure what might work and what might not, I put on everything. I will regret this later.

Four of us went on that ride in the rain in the woods. While it was an abbreviated version of what we promised yesterday, we still rode. The rain stopped while we were out and the temperature went up. 20 minutes into it, I was stripping off clothes I thought I would need. Everything was slicker than snot on a door knob. We skidded and squirted our way through mud, over greasy logs and took minor diggers when we overwhelmed our balance points. The pace was slower, but the challenge was tougher. And we all enjoyed it like we did when we were kids. I think that's what I look for in the things I do. That child like pleasure we all remember but have trouble finding again as we get older.

Some lessons or rules of thumb have to be constantly reinforced to keep their memories fresh. Again I found that every time I think I am going to regret riding in the rain, I usually end up having a blast. I forget about the wet cold clothes. I forget about the wet soggy socks settled in a bunch around my mud coated ankles. I forget that I did not want to do this. And I remember that almost always it is better to go ahead and ride than not to.

Happy Father's day guys. Hope yours was as fun filled as mine ended up being.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I made my living for 17 years or so delivering America's stuff to America. I was a furniture mover for 8 years. I hauled huge valves, 2 to a flatbed, for the elaborate canal and pipe system out West that feeds water to the LA area. I have hauled food in cans, food in boxes, and once I screwed up and let the clowns in Tabor City, NC overload me with what turned out to be about 74,000 pounds of loose sweet potatoes. They were all laughing as I tried to pull the load off the dock. I made it back to Salisbury, MD but it took me 18 hours and some local help to miss the scales on the way.

I hauled containers to docks up and down the Atlantic seaboard. I spent some time hauling Rock n Roll bands. I delivered Burger King buns to New York City Burger Kings in the middle of the night. I hauled car dashboards from Maine to Detroit. Flat steel, rolled steel, and re-bar, all products I have delivered. For a short period I delivered nuclear power equipment for Westinghouse to many of the Nuke plants being finished up in the 1970s. I wound my way through the protesting madness in Seabrook, NH and was reviled and booed as many hippies looked at my long braid and saw one of their own being a turncoat.

Throughout this trucking career, I relied on maps and my own memory to find the places I needed to find. You all remember maps? Pieces of paper, either in big loose books or foldouts that describe America with a series of lines, numbers and words. Spiffy little icons like stars point out capitols and points of interest. The Interstate system boldly emblazoned with that all too familiar red and blue shield. Secondary roads, primary roads, and often goat paths proudly displayed.

My father was responsible for my love of maps. We always had the latest maps available. We had more than a few world Atlases and several globes kicking around. My dad insisted that I learn how to read them. I took to maps like a hippie to a fresh bag of doober during a Janis Joplin concert. I loved maps. I still do. In a brief case in the basement, I have my collection of city maps I collected during my rock n roll days. I was so good at finding halls, I jumped past other more senior drivers and became a lead driver well before I should have. I had a knack for getting things to where they should be with a minimum of fuss and worry. All because I could read maps.

Now I feel that this talent with maps is all for nothing. Like a ditch digger who knows his way around a shovel and comes to work one day and finds a backhoe there doing his job, I view the recent rise of GPS gadgets and gizmos as proof that I am indeed a dinosaur, an old school retro grouch.

Folks don't have to know where they are or know where they are going anymore. Just push a button. A screen lights up with current position identified and a voice kindly asks them where they would like to go. Planning a trip means no more pouring over paper maps days in advance. Just google the destination and a blow by blow down loads in minutes.

In my mind this latest twist in going places takes away some of the fun and adventure of taking a trip. Seems half my enjoyment of going anywhere was planning my approach and my retreat. I often fell asleep trying to determine the best way through, around, or into a place by deciphering lines on a piece of paper. I would wake up in the morning on top of sleep crumpled maps and cuss myself for damaging them.

Like the efforts to turn our society into a paperless society, there is a concerted effort to turn us into a mapless one. If the success of the paperless movement is any indicator, I should have no worries maps will disappear any time soon. We will always need paper maps as a back up. So Rand McNally have no fear. Your atlas is in no danger. There will always be fools like me who will never put all their trust in electronics and objects flying around in space to tell us where we are. We might check out Google's opinion and ooh and awe over that spiffy global positioniong (GPS) contraption in the car, but we will always finish by looking at one of your maps.

PS - This post is now an entry in Scribbit's June Write-Away Contest.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Maine Convertible

I had a brand new adult trike in my truck yesterday morning. I had promised to deliver it over to Mabel's house in Alfred. Then I was just going to go to the bike shop. 

On my way in as is my habit when burning some fossil fuels instead of calories on my bicycle, I stopped for a large "Regulah" at the Shapleigh Coffee Drive Thru. That is not it's name. The Shapleigh Coffee Drive Thru has been around a few years now. I have never taken the time to remember it's name. All I know is they have good coffee and I don't have to get out of my truck to get it. Pretty handy for those occaisional mornings when I might forget to put on some britches before leaving the house. The girls inside are friendly and always offer Stub a treat when I have her with me. What's in a name anyway? Maybe today is the day I file it in my "remembered forever" file. Most likely not though. 

 I usually pull in and there is never anyone in front of me. I was surprised to find this wonderful Maine convertible in front of me at the coffee shop. Mainers love their pickups. But when the thermometer inches past 70 or 75'F, many of us will go to extreme lengths to have our pick up and a convertible too. The folks from away who want to fit in will try to buy their way into a Maine Convertible. Put in a sun roof, a fancy slide window. It takes more than folding money to own the real deal. A real Maine convertible is a labor of love and rust. Once the corners of the cab have some decent sized rust holes, it only takes a few minutes with a Sawzall to really open her up. Toss the doors out behind the barn and I tell you what mister man, the air will really flow through at 50 mph. At 60mph, hold onto your hats. 

This fellow must be from Shapleigh or Lebanon though. You can tell. Well, maybe you can't tell, but I can. No self respecting Actonite would be out in their best rig without at least one of their hounds battened down in the back with towing chain. But the real clue is the fact this guy did not have a tailgate. Or at least a solid chunk of 5/8 ply across the back to keep his beer bottles from rolling off onto the road. Jeezm, them bottles is worth a nickel apiece. Real Texas League-rs those folks from Shapleigh are. That's for sure. There's reasons you have to cross a bridge into Shapleigh from Acton. This is one of them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Exercising Useless Endeavor

It is June 11. The heat and humidity of the last 5 days has finally caught a westerly and is now punishing fish in the Atlantic. The thunderstorm last night spoiled any plans of mine to hit the yard with my monster 22 inch self propelled red Ariens. As good a weapon as it is, it doesn't plow through knee high grass that is wet.

(The picture to the left is a reminder to myself that but 4 months ago, this is what yards in Acton looked like. My neighbor's one holer was buried hard and the thought of using it was just that, a quickly passing thought. Can you hold it for another month? Kind of puts the last few days of heat and humidity into perspective.)

I have spent my early morning hours this AM in an uncharacteristic way. I actually got some work out of the way instead of playing on this thing while I contemplated all that yard work I was missing out on. I responded to some emails. Filled out some dealer apps for parts I cannot get other than factory direct. Odd feeling this. Being productive before that first cup of coffee has been thoroughly processed.

Today's post is going to be a quick post. Not about anything special or keen. More of a post to take up space and waste a few inches of bandwidth. A tip of my hat if you will to exercises in useless endeavor. I will make no effort to win anyone over to any cause, celebration, or political slant. I will not be informative, insightful, or attempt in any way to be delightful. If for any reason a reader comes away feeling better after reading this, it will be by accident and not in my gameplan when I started.

(This picture of Stubeetchka, my black girlfriend, is included only because I like the overall composition of the image and she deserves some new face time.)

To round out my offerings for the day, I have included one of my valve cap buddies to bid you folks a fond Adieu, er AH-Doo. I found Garfield buried in some ditch and saved his sorry butt only to impale it with gusto onto the valve stem of one of my bikes. He looks pleased and content now.

Today's post is about being silly. As close to blatant self indulgence as I can come. Any closer and I would not be writing about it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Page 123 Meme

I am not sure why I picked last night to pull out the book and leave it on my desk. I had not read it in years. I was reviewing some pictures I had added to my Photobucket Album and the cover picture of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was one I downloaded. I remembered that this book was sprinkled with those odd Ralph Steadman illustrations. I found my copy so I could enjoy them again. And what happens? I get the "Page 123" tag from that pesky Left Coaster, gjg.

Imagine my anguish when faced with the rule of #1. The nearest book? "Damn! There are 2 books on my desk. When was the last time that happened? And when was the last time my desk was clear enough to set even one book, never mind two of them?"

The fear of reprisal by the Blogging God if I blew this one off overcame my fear of making a commitment. That's what it usually takes for a guy to commit. Fear of something worse.

In reality it was almost too close to call when considering which book to pick up. Anthony Burgess', "The Wanting Seed" is currently the book I am re-enjoying. But Hunter's book was maybe closer by a nose. So I picked it.

Even now I wonder if I was right. Was it really closer?

I did not know it, but Ralph's career dovetailed nicely with Thompson's. They worked together often. I read somewhere that Ralph's art projected a wonderful visual of Hunter's gonzo writing style. After perusing some of his art, I would have to agree. Cool stuff.

The Page 123 Rules

1) Pick up the nearest book
2) Open it to page 123
3) Find the fifth sentence.
4) Post in your blog the next three sentences after that fifth one you have identified(that is to say sentences 6, 7 and 8)
5) Tag five or more people, And acknowledge the person who tagged you.

From "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" - Hunter S Thompson - Pg. 123

"Killed?" He almost whispered the word.

"In Viet Nam!" I yelled. "On the goddam television!"

"Oh...Yes...Yes," he said.

I would have preferred to write the first 5 sentences as they are funnier and have more meaning to me as a reader than numbers 6,7, and 8. But open a Hunter S Thompson book to any page and there are bound to be 3 things you can count on.
1 - Liberal use of profanity
2 - Liberal references to drugs and/or alcohol
3 - You don't have to know the plot to enjoy or hate the writing.

Without further comment or a heads up to these folks, I now tag KC Rider, Apertome, Midnight Rider, J at Thinking About..., and Dawn from Weldable Cookies.

Monday, June 09, 2008


When I opened my first web page back in the olden days around 1994 or so, Jay, my computer geek buddy, warned me emphatically that using my real name or any derivative would surely attract every sleaze bag of the WWW to my IP address. I would be ripped off, bugs would be let loose inside the guts of my computer, and I would find strange men with drool on their chins outside my house in vans.

Okay, so he was not completely wrong. But he was also not even close to my reality. Yeah, I have had viruses, worms, and other creepy crawlers infest my machinery over the last 14 years. But I'm still waiting for the drooly chin men waiting in vans outside my house.

Seems I don't rate enough to turn on the perverts. Not young enough. Or not old enough. I'm handsome, but not in that Brad Pitt sort of way. More like an Andy Rooney with a beard. That man has the greatest eyebrows. I entertained getting some eye brow extensions for mine, but thought it was a tad pretentious. I also could not find any hair place that would do it.

All my wife and I had to offer the sleazy and the deviant of the Internet world was our less than stellar financial situation. My guess is once a hacker hacked in and found cobwebs instead of geenbacks, they left disgusted. And then somewhere someplace on some Hacker WWW bulletin board, our name was posted under the "Deadbeats" section. Can't steal something if it isn't there. I kept hoping one of them would steal some of my debt. Apparently they are smarter than that.

Over the years I have picked up the common sense tricks to minimize the infrequent but pain in the ass invasions of my data banks. I have my virus program, my spy program, a spiffy ad blocking program, and my spam filter set to wow on the email account. I don't publish my SS number, my bank account number, or my shoe size. Seems it's always numbers these flounders want. I keep my numbers private and secret. You want my hat size, you better bring the waterboard.

I had my fling with Internet porn 10 years ago. Lasted oh, maybe a couple of weeks. But like porn flicks, I just did not understand the fascination. There are only so many positions and so many ways to view them. Once I had covered them all, I went away. Maybe that's why no drooly chinned men in vans come around. Or maybe I needed to visit the sites that offer up real perversions like one armed fat chicks, naked men in wheelchairs, or dogs and cats in love. I wore my interest out on the run of the mill hip slappin. Wasting time on the fringes was just that, wasting time.

If I want animal porn, I have 8 live furry actors who simulate the nasty on a regular basis. Buster, our 19 pound tomcat is quite the stud. Even though his pump is dry and the wells he tries to pump are empty, he still insists on keeping his technique sharp and ready to roll. And he is bi also. So every cat gets his undivided attention on a regular basis. I don't need drooly chin guys in vans outside with Buster in the house.

My dad always insisted that to live any part of your life incognito was being dishonest. He always signed his name in that obnoxious bold way of his. When he called up a neighbor to complain, he started the conversation with, "This is Bob Macrum and if you don't keep that expletive deleted mutt out of my vegetable garden........" He always stood up and was counted when it came time to witness. If he turned someone in, they knew it was Bob Macrum who did it.

And I guess I carry on this tradition. This is me and I said it, did it, or thought it. It has cost me on occasion. Some lumps and black eyes as a kid. One tussle at a football game put the other guy in the hospital. He tripped and fell on a broken bottle. Went right into his back. I'd love to say it was my awesome fighting ability, but well, I don't have any awesome fighting abilities. I am very good though with my awesome "running away" abilities.

When it came time for me to enter the Blogger world, I decided to continue my non-anonymous ways. I have posted my name, my hometown, and enough pictures that should cover any questions a drooly chin guy in a van might come up with. And the authorities already know me. In several states. Can't hide from them. They have black helicopters, infrared sensors, and laser directed missiles trained on me at this very moment. Trying to be anonymous is a fool's game. Someone out there knows who you are.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Whacko

Yes, I have been a tad wound up of late. And yes, like a child of 6, I am prone to being easily distracted. I often have 5 things going at a time like my mom used to have 4 or 5 butts smoldering throughout the house at any given point of the day. Unfortunately I picked up her scatter brained habits and my dad's appetite for the demon rum. A combination that took it's toll on friendships, relationships, and chipped away at the health I once had.

I come by my foibles and faults honestly. Just as we all do. I worked hard to develop the idiosyncrasies and loose dog ways everyone has learned to put up with these last 56 years. No matter what I forget, miss, or show up late for, every one of my friends and a few relatives know I always mean well.

So sniff, sniff. I really had my feelings hurt today. The sensitive Mike took a hit. Mike's so called male ego and his manhood were abused and used like kids with brand new chalk and a sidewalk to fill up.

My so called friends really do think I am a whacko. I realized this as I was discussing bike stuff with Double Dave and Jim-Jim. The four of them were on me hard about misplacing tools a minute after I set them down. Comments flowed laying into me just because I like to save things most folks consider trash. Once they got on a roll, there was no stopping them. A classic roasting. Real friends these clowns are.

"You guys act as if I am some sort of whacko", I said in defense of my individuality and self image.

Four voices fell silent and 8 eyes just stared at me. Deadpan faces that just shouted "Well duh, you didn't know that?" And the light blinked on. The bell was rung. My synapses clicked and I realized yes, they thought I was a whacko. A strange man who is different in many ways from what I guess most folks would consider normal.

I never took stock or really considered how people perceived, received me. Oh sure, those sweaty palm moments when a first impression is on the table, or blue lights lighting up my rear view driving home can tend to make me self conscious. But generally I stumble through Life clueless and oblivious of my impression on the rest of the World.

My mom always claimed I tread where angels wouldn't. My older brothers seemed to roll their eyes quite a bit when I was around. Dad's favorite phrase when within earshot was, "Take a breath Mike". I noticed it all, but never followed A to B to find C.

Okay, I am a bit on the odd side. Deep down I guess I always knew this about myself. Didn't seem to make a difference though. Marching to another's tune without a paycheck never seemed to feel right. I had to stay in character. Sanity first. Everything else is just what happens around it.

Friday, June 06, 2008


We just had our first good rain in oh, a month I guess. A decent Maine soaker. It lasted all day Wednesday. Not a hard rain, but one of those rainy days that it's possible to hang around outside for a few minutes without a raincoat and not come inside dripping. Rain that went into the ground, not over it. I could imagine my plants at home partying hardy, high fiving, and dancing plant jigs.

I walked to the 7-Eleven up the street from the shop to get a coffee. Instead of the usual rainy day scenario of people hurrying to get inside, I saw some folks strolling down Main St. like I was. And like me, they looked like they were enjoying this misty rain we sorely needed. I stopped and looked up. The mist filled my glasses and settled on my face. I could feel it collect and begin to form drops to run into my beard.

I smiled as my memory of the last rain and what I wrote about it popped into my brain. Not long ago I even titled a post "Rainy Day Whine". And this Wednesday as I strolled in the rain, I was smiling. No pleasing me I guess.

Maine is used to rain. No, Maine expects rain, dreads rain, deals with rain, and cusses rain. It is the go to scapegoat when a day is not going well. We have become hooked on bitching about rain. When you get over 40 inches of the stuff a year, it is easy to fall into this routine.

So what happens when it doesn't rain in Maine? Besides the expected lower water table, dusty trails in the woods, and burned yards roasting in the Sun, Mainers seem to develop an edge or itch creating an overall uneasiness throughout the state.

We have to find something new to bitch about. So of course, number one is bitching about no rain. The back yard farmers whine about actually having to water their gardens. The Better Homes and Gardens types whine about how only the scruffy weeds seem to grow while their lush over fertilized grass begins to curl up and die. And we mountain bikers piss and moan about the dust our wheels toss up as we enjoy our weekly rides in the woods.

But the complaining seems empty or half assed. No one is able to impart the same passion about no rain they are able to dredge up for those all too frequent rainy days. And this puzzles me. This nourishment from the heavens should be a welcome guest. We should all be glad we are so lucky we have more water in the ground than we could ever need. But we aren't. We take our water for granted and actually complain about it. Just read some of my posts on how much of a pain water has been in my life.

So this post is a token effort to set things right. A plea for forgiveness from Ma Nature for dissing her when she decides to rain on our parade. Keep on keepin on. Let the heavens open up and I will try to be grateful. One small favor to ask though. Please keep the moisture coming, but night time is the best time. Of course I know you have your own priorities and schedules to keep, but leaving us a few sunny days would be nice.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Predictable Political Post

The predictable thing to post today would be what a zillion other blogs are posting. Something about Hillary dropping out and the race finally getting down to the two horse contest everyone except Hillary apparently knew was inevitable. As I am trying my hardest to fit in and become a good citizen, here is my predictable post.

Like some bad serial I used to see before the main feature on Saturday afternoon down to the old Senator movie theater on Greenmount, this election has tried to build the tension and keep us on the edge of our seats. But as usual, it is just another old plot rehashed, reworked and offered up as something fresh and new.

Some new twists what with the race thing, but if you close your eyes, the Democrats have done nothing different than they usually do. Look like the scatter brains they are. It will be interesting to see if this herd of cats can be corralled long enough to actually put one of their own in office.

I noticed Ralph "the Spoiler" Nader has coincidentally made the news today also. His influence this election may not have the impact it has in the past, but as we all know, Democrats can and will be distracted by anyone with flashy objects in their hands.

And speaking of predictability. The GOP has not swerved from their tried and true election manifesto. No matter how much they dislike a candidate for his years of not sitting still like a good Republican, as long as he is a registered Republican, they will vote for him. It matters not McCain has been reviled and labeled a RINO for much of his years in public office, his almost overnight conversion to the neo-con mantra has convinced many of the die hard he might not be so bad after all. Proof that getting a Republican elected is more important than anything else. They may leave the booth with a bad taste in their mouth, but "anyone but a Democrat" is rule number one.

So once again, "old v new" will be expected to catch and hold our attention. Once again catch phrases that aim to inspire, inflame, or strike fear will be flung at the population in hopes that their votes will be secured without actually promising to do anything real. I may come off as a sourpuss here, but I find it hard to imagine this election will be anything different than the elections that came before.

The difference though will be who we put in office. There is always a difference. No president has ever followed the game plan that got him elected. Events, personal agendas, and the crew he hires to do his dirty work will always fill each term with surprises no one could have predicted. At least in the first term anyway. 2nd terms do seem to end up as bad sequels to the first.

I'm throwing my not so considerable influence to the Obama camp. There are a multitude of reasons, but two big ones will do here. One, he is black. It is time we showed ourselves we can get past this stupid race thing, even if only for a few years. Two, McCain lost my support the moment he began sucking up to the Party Elders and stopped being one of the few thorns they had left. He proved he is all hat and no cattle.

Barack is not trying to prove he is someone other than who he is. McCain is working hard at proving he is someone he isn't.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Just Another Trailer

Okay. So I spent the last hour filling in the spaces of a narrative I am at some point in the future actually going to post here in this blog. It has started out full of promise and to this point it is stumbling in the right direction. To not disappoint the millions of readers who visit here invisibly, I am filing this trailer in order to build some anticipation and suspense.

It will have words in it like....

Worth - Maybe about a town in Texas, maybe not.

Self Loathing - might be some deep inner admissions.

Airport - Read as the drama unfolds between flights

Resume - A life gets back on track and finds worthy pursuits

Debt to Pay - the suspense builds with the realization that nothing in Life is free

Stage - The World is indeed one of these, but Life is something different

Hunt - Tension builds as the hunted is stalked and finally brought down

Yes indeed. This post will rock any who dare stop by. Prepare to be wowed.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Roughin It

Michelle over to Scribbit mentioned she had gone camping over Memorial day. She quickly amended the word camping to say she and the family had stayed in a cabin with all the amenities. She went on to admit that she is a wimp when she can't have the basic comforts most of us take for granted. I admire her honesty. I wish more people would be so forthcoming.

In the mid 1990s I had made plans to meet a friend at a camping area the State of Maine provides up in the Bigelows. The Appalachian Trail winds through this small mountain range up country. On the north side, drive up camp sites on Flagstaff Lake are enjoyed gratis on a first come, first serve basis.

I show up with my bike and camping gear all tucked into my B.O.B. trailer. I had planned to continue an off road tour after a couple of days of fun in the Sun with my friend. Mountain biking, cooking over a fire and telling tall tales between shots of JD was the plan.

I had arranged to meet my friend in North New Poland. I would then lead him up to the sites about 25-30 miles away. I had been hanging about 20 minutes when this huge RV rolls up. Thinking some tourist is about to ask directions I walk over to the driver's window. My friend sticks his head out of the window and smiles. "My father in law finally let me take his baby for a weekend."

They don't call them motor homes for nothing. Air Conditioning unit on top looking proud and loud. Showers, full kitchen, and an antenna/dish array that looked ready to zero in on any incoming missiles 100 miles away. It had to be 35 feet long and be able to cram a family reunion into it.

My mouth must have been hanging open or there was a look in my eyes, my friend quickly followed up with, "Problem?"

Still looking this beast over, I say, "Uh Yeah dude, where we're going won't handle this thing." All I could think about was how quickly that satellite dish was going to end up on the ground from the low branches as we drove the final approach to the campground. "The sites are primitive sites, not maintained ones. We will be lucky to get this boat within 6 miles. That dish won't make it."

"The Hell with it, we'll set up camp somewhere and ride to the trails. The Sam's Club directory says there is a RV park close by. We'll camp in style."

But then he looked odd and asked, "The dish is still up on the roof?"

"Yeppers", I informed him. Instant panic ensued as he parked, scrambled up on the roof and folded the dish down for safe keeping in transit.

"I come back without that and A's ole man will fry my ass."

I could feel the dark cloud gathering. All I could focus on were his words, "Camp in Style". Yeah, we would surely be stylin. But in the name of our friendship, I kept my mouth shut and told him to lead the way. He headed up Long falls Dam Road and I think this might not be bad. At least we are headed in the right direction. About 15 miles from our original destination, I see him pull into a drive with a huge sign announcing our arrival at RV heaven. Another huge sign informs me that electrical and water hook-ups are available but no tents allowed. The dark cloud becomes darker. Guess I'm sleeping in the RV. Gee I couldn't wait.

So we find our spot right next to 30 other RVs. Everyone had their canopies and screened in porches out along with some indoor/outdoor carpeting down so the Missus's feet wouldn't get dirty as she set up full course meals on real plates on collapsible picnic tables with fake flowers on them. I looked down the row of huge motel rooms on wheels and realized I was more in the woods at home than here. That dark cloud began to sprinkle rain. I knew if the words "roughin it" passed my friend's lips, I was going to flatten him.

Just as we get the RV settled in, my friend says, "You can pay your share when I check out. Shouldn't be more than $25 for your half."

I lost it. I was willing to put up with the RV, the packed like sardines in a can arrangement with our neighbors, but when he mentioned I had to pay for the privilege, something just snapped. I went outside, got into my pick up and drove away. It might have been nice to see the look on his face, but the red glare I was viewing would not allow anything else in.

I drove the last 16, 17 miles to the primitive sites. I hooked up my trailer to my bike. I then rode 3 miles into the woods to a site on a beautiful point on Flagstaff Lake. Set up camp and did not see another human for the next two days. Cooked over an open fire, drank JD, and just basked in the emptiness of the area I was in. Watched a cow moose and her youngun swim across the lake and disembark at my campsite. Almost took out the tent as they shook the lake water from their stinking fur. This is what I came for. Not some half assed tourist see it from the safety of a moving vehicle thing.

Back in Acton I ran into my friend a few weeks later. Seems he couldn't stand the isolation. Went over to Eustis, got useless drunk in the tittie bar and was tossed out on his ear. Ended up sleeping in his RV in the dirt parking lot. I would say he had been "roughin it" more than I was.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Looking Good

Yesterday I allowed a post to get out of control. It was one of the few posts I actually started with a plan. I had the subject. I had what I considered a catchy lead. The whole thing played well in my head before I started. It should have been simple. Right.

I could not find just the right picture to go with my post. I spent far longer than I should have using the search engine on Photobucket to find that one image that would dovetail perfectly with what I originally had to say.

I lost interest in finding perfection and settled for distraction. Something like 141,000 possible choices popped up when I wrote "Las Vegas" in the little search box. So once again, Las Vegas made me pay attention to her and lose interest in why I was there in the first place. I don't even have to be in Vegas for the town to screw me up.

So today, I will attempt to get back on track. Regain some of that rigor and focus I have been working semi-hard to ingest into my blogging efforts. Working semi-hard? That may be an over statement. Let's just say, I am toying with the idea.

The 3 ladies tearing around my shop intent on getting fit so they would look good for their trip to Las Vegas pointed to one of the many differences between us guys and the girls.

Women will plan some trip somewhere. With the Family, with some friends, or by themselves. It does not matter with whom or where they are going. A top of the list goal is to look as good as possible while they mingle with strangers thousands of miles away from where their real lives pan out daily.

They will shop for new clothes. Sometimes clothes they hope will fit by the time the trip happens. I call it optimistic shopping. The women will sign up for some accelerated "make you slim, trim, and beautiful in 10 days" exercise program. They will crash diet. Facials, pedicures, new doos. Anything they can think of so that strangers take notice while they lounge under a Mexican sun. Women with deep pockets will often look to medical miracles from high priced boob adjusters to make that new swim suit look like it is a new kind of melon display case. For display purposes only, not for swimming. And do this because they are headed to the Bahamas in a few weeks.

Yet, when they get home, they will fall off the wagon. Immediately go back to their "I don't care what I look like in front of the people who see me everyday" shtick. They looked good in front of strangers in a strange land. That is what was important.

Guys on the other hand pretty much look the same no matter where they are. If they are fat and sloppy at home, it is a safe bet that image will travel with them on the plane. Maybe a haircut, and some new tighty whiteys, but how they look at Disney World is how they look in hometown, USA. If a guy has new duds for a trip, oftentimes it is because Mrs Guy handed him some to pack into the suitcase.

When a guy decides to gussy himself up, it is usually based on a new job, meeting the future Mrs Guy's parents, or he has had that 5th heart attack and losing 50 pounds finally seems like a good idea. Guys are less likely to try and squeeze into something only a wish and a pry bar would make happen. The girls will often go to insane measures to pour themselves into outfits that make me wince in pain just thinking of their bits and pieces mashed together in what has to be uncomfortable circumstances. Boys tend to gravitate to comfortable, girls tend to well, it is often obvious comfort was not their first goal.

This uniquely human tendency of males looking drab and inconsequential and the ladies flashing it up and shouting look at me certainly runs counter to 90% of the rest of the animal kingdom. The Male Lion has the cool mane and comes off looking real bad ass. Mama Lion looks like a big brown kitty cat but is the real bad ass. Mr Cardinal is the fashion plate at the local feeder. Hangs out looking good. Mama Cardinal swings in dressed in drabby feathers. But she is all business as she grabs a sunflower seed and then immediately heads back to the nest to regurgitate some good grub up for the young'uns. Seems the duties remain the same for Humans and critters, just the fashion plate part has changed hands.

I am happy with this arrangement. I resigned myself early in Life that I was not going to be a clothes horse or wow the women with my cool doo. I started Life wearing baggie comfortable clothes. I will most likely close it out the same way. But ladies, you keep doing what you are doing. The pleasure you give me in appreciation for how you look or the laughs when what you are attempting falls flat keeps me coming back. Frankly, your approach to the same life I experience fascinates me.