Monday, February 23, 2009

Fall not in love, therefore; it will stick to your face

OK, yeah, I underestimated just what a long, crappy set of flights that was gonna be getting here. Here, where the snow is piled high. Way high. So I left my house at 1000 on Sunday morning, and arrived at my hotel room at 0530 Monday morning. It was 0130 local time, but we'd been putting some time zones behind us, so I was speaking in BT (Body Time). I'll be here two days then I get to do it again going back.

I went on YouTube and looked up Britney's video If U Seek Amy. You know, had to see what the hoo-hah was all about. Kinda reminded me of high school drama, in that yes it is a cleverly vulgar play on words, and no, it wasn't that good of a song. In fact, without the controversy to propel, it's not much of anything.

My camera got turned on in my bag for I don't know how may hours as I was traveling. I think it entered some kind of auto-suspension state, but I'm not sure. I charged the battery right before I came and then left the charger home. So I'm gonna be pissed if I ran the battery out before I got here. What?? You can't see me getting pissed? Well, I'll tell you like I told my first wife, "I'm not bad...but bad people don't mess with me." My other favorite thing to tell her was, "If you hit me, and I find out about it, I'm going to kick your butt!"

Conceit is God's gift to little men. - Bruce Barton

OK, I had about half a charge on the camera which turned out to be sufficient. The mountians are beautiful and I have to catch my breath with each new view of them, especially when the sun is on them. But I learned that mountians are a lot like sunsets at sea. Each one in its own right is spectacular. Beyond comparison. However, once you develop the film you kinda go, " Hmmmm... basically I've got 40 pictures that all look the same." So I took a few pictures, and just burned the remainder into my brain. If I can get my external HDD cable to work with the camera, I'll add pics to this. If not, just wait a few days. (Note: I did try it a couple of minutes from now, and I am back to report that, of course, the cables from one company are not interchangeable with those of another. Photos must therefore wait.)

My first day out on my own I ran into a 76 year old Anchoraginian who wanted to show me around. That was cool, as all I had was a tourist map from the hotel desk and a GPS that didn't even have Alaska as an option. It was interesting. She showed me places and things I wouldn't have found on my own in 2 days, that's for sure. She was a character, too. The planes up in the sky were certianly doing something sinister, she confided, and the government ain't saying what. She has dreams of putting a rail under the water, linking an island with the mainland, and all kinds of other ideas. A big, expansive thinker with an outsized personality and a touch of paranoia. I enjoyed the day. If you google "lorna knaus northwest passage", you'll find that she really exists, however, the articles are dry whereas she was quite lively and witty.

I have loved it here. Definately a individualistic bent to the people. And I can't help myself, to see some of these folks you just have to wonder about who or what they did back wherever they came here from. They just have the aura of someone who wandered up here to disappear.

But, everyone I have spoken to has been so friendly and outgoing, you can't help but smile. I have thought to myself several times over the last couple of days, if it wasn't so cold, and didn't stay dark a month at a time, and it wasn't so hard to get things (cell phone reception included) that I would eventually want to kill myself, well heck, I could be happy living here. A part of me really believes that, but another part, a more reasonable part, reminds me that I am fat and squishy and any rugged individualism I may have once possessed is as long gone as my waistline. (I am now, if you are to believe a pair of Dockers over me, bigger around than I am tall. On that subject, I find myself surprisingly unapologetic.)

One thing that caught me by surprise was the extensive selection of rifles and handguns for sale. Not that guns for sale is all that unusual. But a selection of that size, heck of ANY size, in an Air Force PX was a first for me. I would have taken a picture for you, but since getting captured by a couple of carloads of navy cops while taking photos of the navy base in Japan so I could show my friends once I retired, well I don't pull my camera out on a base anymore.

Will post in a couple of days and include the pictures. Other than that, I suppose I am done here.

It's a soap opera heaven without all the clues, out
Ramblin' Ed

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane

We went to the State Fair on Sunday. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the place was packed. This year we did not ride any rides, but we did walk and eat. The wife enjoyed the midway freak shows and we played a few of the midway games. She won herself a plush toy for only $25. She was stoked.

I have not been to a fair for years. In fact, I do believe the last one I attended, and for sure the last Florida State Fair I attended, was with the Red Queen when we were young and brash. Well, me and the Red Queen, and one of her cousins or friends or somebody who seemed nice enough at the time, but bad mouthed me later. She cast a permanent pall on an important relationship of mine, so you'd think I would remember her name. But I don't. Proof positive that time moves on.

Have been enjoying a week off. I have done some home repair, light yardwork, started some seedlings to get them ready to transplant next month, and laid out in my chaise lounger soaking up the sun like the lizard-boy that I am. I am thinking to go putt-putting down the Alafia River just for the beauty of it, but will probably just end up back in the chaise.

----- A few days later-----

I am tanned and rested and all packed up for Alaska. I took only sweaters instead of shirts. Seemed somehow prudent.

Life comes in short, fast bursts. And mine, thankfully, like an Asian menu. Yep, my life does sweet & sour. My aunt died yesterday, and after promising to make the funeral, I find that I can't. Plus I had the wife in the hospital last night, all drugged up and crying over took blood. She's is so pitifully childlike when the needle comes out. She was told that she needs to remove her gall bladder soon. Which she will. But she was adamant, the surgery will come AFTER the citizenship test. Even if she hurts so bad that I have to roll her to her appointment in a shopping cart. That's sweet. And an old, old friend contacted me and noted that she had stumbled across, and begun reading, my blog. Just that one simple mention literally made my week. I don't know how in the world I would find it now, but this girl was very, very talented and I have a picture to prove it. She could shoot you the bird with her toes! Take that, America's Got Talent!

I have 2 hours at Tampa Airport tomorrow, plus both a Dulles and Phoenix layover, so I may blog tomorrow too. I had a lot of stuff I wanted to cover, but events the last couple of days have zapped me of my "want to". Not gittin' 'er done, you might say. So instead, I will post these pictures that, as always, git bigger. I will use my new camera in Anchorage, which has 8.1 mega pixels, as opposed to my current camera's 3.2. Hopefully I'll get some good stuff for you.

Later daze, out
Ramblin' Ed

Wife. Fair. People. Warm. Food. Cool.
Try it, the sign said. It's bacon. Dipped in chocolate. Well, that did sound interesting. And anything with bacon or cheese on it IS, by default, instantly a gourmet treat. So what's to think about? What, our arteries? Nope. I don't think us and our arteries have been on speaking terms for some time now. Come to papa, little piggie!
Not for the ladies on the left. Not for the large-bottomed, scooterized northern snow clam, a species that drifted down to Florida in he 1960's and has multiplied so fast it has nearly pushed out all native species No, what caught my eye, what brought out the Gary Larson in me (google him if you don't get the reference), was the sign: LONG DOG ON A STICK. That'll get your mental images rolling, now won't it?

He was just a cowpoke. Nobody special. He slept on the lonesome prarie, with just a bed roll and a memory of his long gone Greta, to keep him company. The wolves howled in the distance. Haunting and forlorn, as if they shared his heart's emptiness. In the darkness, he pondered his existence. His past and his present. Life is short, he mused. If you want something out of it I guess you just got to go out there and grab it. And it was there, unde the twinkling desert stars that the idea of line dancing dogs was born.
This young lady, with the skirt slit up to there, was about to have her head either removed or levitated, by the stereotypical carnival barker to her right. He brayed on and on and on so much that I kinda quit listening to his speil, hence...yes, hence... me being unclear as to what was happening, temporary decapitation or levitation. Although it would seem that they are more or less the same thi.... man, that skirt is slit up to there!!!!
Rutherford was definately rethinking the wisdom of chili dogs, nachos and licorice milk shake right about now. Still, spinning nauseatingly above the crowded fairgrounds, he found the humor in the situation. "Hmmmm. look at that new Mercedes they're showing down there. Unlike an investment banker, I bet can make a deposit on it."

Okie Dokie, now I am stoked. I found a lady, in the back corner of an exhibit hall who had GIANT PIXIE STIX. And salt water taffy, watermelon, banana and vinilla flavored. Oh yes, I want to have me that. And I did. I bought the GIANT PIXIE STIX. And salt water taffy, watermelon, banana and vinilla flavored. And yes, that certianly is a Little Feat T-shirt. How observant of you to notice.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms

I seem to be dragging cold, crappy weather with me. I could opine further, but decline. At least the harshest weather Southern Florida and Southern California has to offer is... not so harsh actually. My molecules are just better acclimated to 80s rather than 60s.

I am in Irvine, CA. Right across the street from Orange County's John Wayne Airport. Been a pleasant stay. The work, for a change, is at a more leisurely pace. I am with our new hire, who freely admits to never having been out of his own time zone. I, on the other hand spent a little over a decade living either 20 min north of here or an hour and a half south. I have been having old home week, for sure.

We went breakneck pace until we wore ourselves out. I have taken him to Venice Beach, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Long Beach to see the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose (where we stumbled on a filming of CSI: Miami), The top of the mountian in San Pedro, Huntington Beach, and all points in between. It has been outstanding. But working in the day and scurrying all over SoCal in the evening finally took its toll. Last night we stayed in. I watched UNC-Duke and American Idol and he did his trigonometry homework (Yikes!). Tonight he will continue to hit the books and I will watch Survivor. Tomorrow afternoon, Friday, we are headed back up to Venice Beach and on Saturday we fly home.

I will be home in Florida for a week, where it has climbed back into the 80s like it should be, and then hop a god-awful long, 2 layover flight to Anchorage where it will probably also be in the 80s. Minus 80s!! I suggest you prepare for some serious whining. The company is good about sending me to the where I want to go places, but are horrible about getting the when I want to right. Miami & Phoenix in August, New Hampshire & Alaska in February.

Up, up and away! Super Cat.
My "Friday Night Lights".
Caution: Objects in the lens are dumber than they appear.
We knew he was warm 'cause he'd come from afar. (Think about it......)
M-m-my Papaya. Think the tree is dead now.
What cereal, hooman??
I like trees.


View from my hotel room
Beverly Hills
Rodeo Drive. No celebrity sightings.
More Rodeo Drive
Where Eddie Murphy used to work
Beverly Hills cop. He was giving some 20 year old in a very expensive car a ticket for talking on the cell phone as she was driving. That was funny.
But not every day
Drive in and Celebrity Bar're it

Well whadya know!!!
I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve*, out
Ramblin' Ed
* - J. R. R. Tolkien

Saturday, February 07, 2009

It’s better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied

When I think of Walter, I mostly think of "arrell" and "shevell". And the awesome tree house. A fear of getting sucked under. And "hey, we're doing 60 mph and we're not even moving! .....Uh-oh......" And Rieglewood, N.C. where I grew up.

Walter did not say arrow or shovel. He said arrell and shevell. I think those are his only two idiosyncrocies like that with the language. I am not so sure that it was a SE NC thing because, while a couple of other kids said that also, most did not. I remember the first time I heard that he had just gotten a bow and arrell.
Me: A what?
W: Bow and arrell.
Me: Really....what's an arrell?
W: What's an arrell?? Are you stupid?

I don't know. There's no significance to it. It never changed my life for better or worse. But I can't think of Riegelwood or see a bow hunting reference without remembering Walter shooting his bow and then, suddenly realizing the wrongness of his action, hollering to get away and "DON'T LOOK UP, I shot straight up and you don't want to get an arrell in the eye." No, I don't.

Only the mediocre are always at their best. - Jean Giraudoux

We loved eighteen wheelers. We could tell you what was coming down the road by looking at the grille. We lived in a paper mill town along a state highway, so there were trucks all the time. Mack and White and Peterbilt were the most common. But we would get excited, real excited like we'd done something, when we'd see a Diamond Reo because they were not real common. There was another brand that was so infrequently observed as to cause much excitement, but honestly, I can't remember the name. It always sound Japanese to me though. If we heard a truck coming down the road, we'd turn and watch it intently until one or the other of us would say, "Here it comes, it's a Peterbilt. Yep...a Peterbilt." The other would nod in agreement, "Yep," and we'd get back to what we were doing.

Unless we were walking along the highway, which we were often because that's where all 4 stores were, the shortest way to the swimming creek was, and where the wild blackberries grew. Now if the truck was coming towards us in the other lane, everything was cool. We would ID it and keep moving on. But if it was coming up behind us, on our side (no, we did not follow the rule of walking facing traffic) Walter would run all willy nilly down one bank of the roadside ditch and back up the other. "C'mon Eddie," he'd yell, "They'll suck you under. They will, they'll suck you under!" A much bigger fear of his than an arrell in the eye, was getting sucked into an eighteen wheeleer's draft. I usually obliged him, somewhat less willy nilly in my execution, away from the roadside. You know, just in case.

I always assumed I'd grow up and drive a truck. One day it dawned on me, and I was nearly in my thirties when it did, why I would never find myself driving a truck. See video below for the answer, as the Willis Bros. know so well.

So we started growing up. We were surrounded by pine forests and logging roads, which is not unusual when the only employer in town is a paper mill. So in Riegelwood, it was not uncommon for boys to be turned looose to run them dirt roads in daddy's old pickem-up without a lot of supervision. We may have had learner's permits or licenses when this took place. Or we might not have. Doesn't really matter.

We were not 50 yards from Walter's house, in his dad's old Ford truck, on a logging road after it had rained. I mean RAINED! SE NC gets some real gullywashers, complete with frequent lightning and booming thunder. Leaves things kinda wet. And you know what they call wet dirt? Mud. Mud is what they call it.

And we were out on a wet dirt road, starting to pick up speed, and aiming for the puddles, not around them. Some of the puddles bordered on pondhood. We saw one coming, centered on it and Whammmm....Splasssssh, hit it dead on. And the motor died out on us.

Well, naturally we took a couple of minutes to quit laughing and reliving the moment of impact. We tried the key and that old F-150 cranked right up. Cool. Walter put her in gear,eased off the clutch, started giving it gas, at first a little, and then some more. He found it amusing, the fact that "hey, we're doing 60 mph and we're not even moving!" He was laughing about it until he thought about what that meant for a second. " .....Uh-oh...... Dad's gonna be pissed off."

Trucks all live in one big happy family, so we were able to get another truck to come pull us out. He didn't get stuck on the way out. But then, he drove around the puddles.

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth--anonymously and posthumously. (- Thomas Sowell), out
Ramblin' Ed

see funny english mistakes

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants.

Title quote attributed to A. Whitney Brown

So it is cold here. Florida cold, for those of you who want to scoff that I don't know what real cold is. And to those of you thinking that, let me just quote Calvin, the Ed-like half of Calvin and Hobbes, when he said, "I don't know, and I refuse to find out."

All my plants are brown and hopefully not completely dead. Even trees, who you would think that due to their relative immobility would have evolved some kind of defensees to the elements, are brown and pitiful. I added cow manure ('cause what gets you through the winter better than bovine crap?), mulched the base of each tree about 3" deep for about 9" around, and wrapped them in towels and sheets. Still, mango, tamarind, banana, and especially papaya trees look like toast. Spring will tell if they are dead or just stunned. Why do I tell you this? Because I can, I suppose.

So let me tell you a true story from King George County, VA. Ninde, VA to be exact, although it is one of the few things you can google and get nothing back on. It was very rural. All the business, employment, and realty links google displays are not really valid. Google results page 4 had the first valid link, and it was MapQuest ( App Intel, you may want to hit this link as it shows just how close I was to Camp A.P. Hill. (I swear, it was a camp) It was about a 30 min drive to get there, but you pretty much had the place to yourself once you got there. Especially the lakes and ponds.

So, in my triple wide, manufactured home I had a wood stove in the den. I loved that sucker. I heated exclusively with it. Well, it and a couple of box fans to move the warm air around the, house. It sat right next to my easy chair, so I could watch TV in warm toastiness. Even better, I had an old aluminum camp pot that I kept handy. I would drip brew a pot of coffee, put it in the camp pot, and put the camp pot on the wood stove. Now I did have to balance it in such a way that only about 30% of the pot was on the stove and the other 70% (killer math skills) hung off into space. Otherwise the coffee boiled pretty quickly and tasted bitter. Still, this allowed me to keep refilling my cup with hot coffee without ever having to get up. Well, I would need to get up once the coffee had fulfilled it's purpose and was ready to be returned to the earth in a modified liquid form. Yes, I am saying that I would just go out the backdoor and pee in the woods. What's the point of living in the country if you can't pee outside, right?

So I have been enjoying it all for the entire Virginia winter; TV, toastiness, and convienent coffee. And let me tell you, a setup like that is hard to let go of. And that is where Cindy, a no-nonsense Jonesville, NC girl comes into the picture.

It is starting to be Spring. Cool enough to justify a fire in the morning but warm in the afternoons. You know the weather I'm talking about. Cindy had come over to do something. She walked in off the back deck, took a look at me and shook her head semi-disapprovingly. I'm thinking, "What? I have pants on and I wasn't even expecting anybody." "You are pitiful," she clucked and walked off to find Rene (my ex). Well, of course I had to laugh. I mean, she was absolutely right.

See, it would warm up faster than I could finish a pot of coffee. And when Cindy arrived a little before lunchtime, there I was, with a fire in the stove, pot perched precariously upon it, sweating like hooker in church, with the sliding glass door wide open and the box fan on high blowing sideways across my face. Why? Well, I did all that just to save myself from having to rise and walk into the next room for a cup o' joe. And that, friends, is indeed pretty pitiful.

Another thing I learned about a woodstove. Or perhaps I learned it about snow. Anyhow, I learned something abpout something, which is not an everyday occurance. We had just had an ice storm, and as you all know, that is God's way of telling the power company that they need to replace power lines.

Power was out all over the place and of course our neck of the woods ended up as one of the last to be reconnected because of our sparse population. We ended up without power for 4 days, but going into it we did not know how long it would be out. We had hurricane lamps, we heated with wood, and we had a one burner kerosene camp stove. Yes, kerosene. I bought it in Korea or Hong Kong. We also had 3 toilets, so we figured we'd be OK. We just had to go outside to pee (she was a Louisiana country girl) and saved the toilets for more solid works of art. We had well water on an electric pump, so there was one flush per throne and then we were done til the pump came back on. Or were we?....

As the days wore on, eventually, each one of them had to be flushed. I pondered on it because I am the ponderizer, and then, had a brilliant idea to save the day. Since we have plenty of snow, I noted, we just need to put a big pot of it on the woodstove and melt it down to water. We will then pour that water into the tank and then wallah (c'mon, Voilà !, spells vo-ill-ah) we will be flush-o-matic once again. BRILLIANT! Thank you.

Only, for some reason, the snow would not melt. Maybe the big pot was sinking the heat away, I don't know. All I know is that while I could boil coffee on that stove, I could not manage to melt snow. I did get curious on just how long melting this snow was going to take, and it took a couple of hours. Worse yet, after waiting a couple of hours for it to melt, I didn't get enough actual water to brush my teeth. Apparently, snow is the white bread of elements. No volume, just mostly air.


If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error, out

Ramblin' Ed