Friday, November 27, 2009
Happy Black Friday to You!
Did you go shopping today? I sure did. Out of the house and in the stores by 5 AM, it was a great day to observe my fellow humans and smell the stress. I even bought something (for myself).
I am lucky to be off today. My workplace doesn't recognize Black Friday as a holiday. It actually is a Wikipedia Holiday, one of many (basically, a holiday that isn't recognized by the government or your place of employment, but which you and all your fellow employees are certain is a valid reason to skip work/ knock off early/ drink excessively. I think the next one is either the Wall Street Journal's "Open that Bottle Day" or Superbowl Sunday. Each one is on a floating date that I haven't bothered to look up.
Don't worry about wrapping the stuff you bought or hiding it. Everyone knows where you keep the wrapping paper and the presents, anyway.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
A bit about my background
You were wondering about my ancestry, right? Right? Well, now you are. Right? Well, here it is anyway.
I think it’s time for me to tell you about my great grandfather, who went through Ellis Island with his pregnant wife, neither of them speaking a word of english (and, in fact, neither of them ever did although they lived in this country for over 30 years).
Life was hard for them both before and after leaving the old country. Life was just plain hard back then. My great grandparents weren’t poor, mind you, not like the vast majority of people who came here with their last few pennies in their pockets if they were lucky. No, my great grandfather was shocked to be leaving what had been a good life. He was an important man, but court jealousies and intrigue had him fleeing the country. For years, he had been a computer expert, which was a much rarer thing in the 1880’s, let me tell you. It wasn’t like today, when you can walk out on the street at random and say, “Hey, computer guy,” and half of everybody turns and looks at you. He had risen to the title of Chief Pixel-Maker to the Czar, which was an amazing accomplishment back then. Remember, pixels didn’t just automatically pop out of the computer screen back then. A computer was an enormous, smelly, coal-powered machine that made a horrendous racket and seriously cut into the castle space that used to be the dungeon. It’s a little known fact that the great populist movements of the late 19th century were not a great new philosophic movement or a natural offshoot of early industrialization or any of the crap they feed your sweet little mind in school. Really, there was just a sudden drop in prison and torture space as all the dungeons and keeps were shrunk as the need for computer power grew starting around mid-century.
Anyway, Great grandpa had to carefully handbuild each pixel, which could only be used once. He worked from morning to late into the night, by oil lamp. It was said that he made the brightest pixels ever seen. Of course there wasn’t color then, so he just made millions of carefully crafted little glowing pixels, and took them in barrels which his brother-in-law the cooper (that’s my great grandmother’s brother, and likely why they were arranged to be married) made for him.
Back then, the main ingredient of pixels was dandelions, and if pixel-making was the source of his fame and security (he thought, anyway), then his dandelion farm was the source of his great wealth. Now remember, the old country had some of the world’s crappiest and most alkaline soil, with a bedrock layer about 8 inches (20 cm) down, and it was damn near impossible to grow a plant whose strongest instinct and most heartfelt desire is to put down a 2-foot (60 cm) taproot. It took him, his wife, and the field hands many back-breaking hours every day before, through, and beyond the brief growing season to generate enough dandelions for the government’s pixel needs.
Now, when my ancestor was forced out of the government and the country, he had sold off most of his belongings and his home, but he had kept all his bags of dandelion seeds, and brought them over on the ship. He came to this country, and instead of walking to Queens and renting a room like everyone else did, he bought land in upstate New York. He didn’t know how well those flowers would do - his neat, orderly rows quickly overgrew the land, and he couldn’t pick the yellow blooms fast enough, and many went to seed, and the white puffy seed blew away, thrived everywhere, and took root. Within a couple of years, the dandelion market crashed, and the farm came dangerously close to going under.
He had seen what was in the wind, so to speak, though, and had gradually switched his farm over to spaghetti. No, really, listen, yes, I know spaghetti doesn’t grow on trees, that was an April fools thing. I didn’t say orchard. No, spaghetti is a vine. So he saw how well pumpkins grew, but he didn’t like pumpkins, so he grew spaghetti. It’s relatively easy to grow spaghetti, especially compared to trying to coax a dandelion out of the permafrost of eastern europe. The work all came from the straightening, leaf trimming, and drying of the vines, which was mainly woman’s work back then. Imagine my great grandmother, sitting by the fire at the work table which they used as the family bed every night, simultaneously cooking some horrid turnip-based cabbagy thing and watching all the kids, hoping to finish the day’s work soon enough to do some sewing. All this stuff that you and I just go out and buy was a big deal back then, remember. You know, when we want some broccoli (yes, I know you don’t really want broccoli, but you buy it anyway, don't you?). Anyway, when we want some broccoli, we just pop some frozen broccoli into the microwave and keep moving. In the old days, microwaving was a much harder thing. You had to make the microwaves yourself, with a magnet, a coil of tungsten wire, and some other stuff. Mostly it was easier to just burn dried spaghetti leaves, which, oddly enough, are completely inedible.
So, with his wife doing most of the work, and with some income coming in to hire out more of the farm work, Great Grandpa turned to other things to keep busy and supplement their income. He decided to become a musician, and found out that he was completely tone deaf and uncoordinated. Now, this stubborn man could teach us a lesson or two. He didn’t know the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Actually, that would not have meant the same thing to him. He would have thought of lemons differently. Remember, this is the generation that thought brussels sprouts were a decadent dessert. Anyway, he took his fantastic failure at all things musical and his intense and unexplainable desire to be in the Dryden, NY Independence day parade, and eventually developed the player kazoo. He developed the idea from the player piano- like the player piano, the player kazoo is pedal-powered, supplemented by a wind-up spring mechanism, but in order to pedal and move in a parade at the same time, he had to hook the whole thing up to a unicycle. Mind you, the player kazoo has a set of gears, pulleys, bellows, and belts that weighs over 50 pounds (22.5 kg), so he had to become quite the unicyclist to boot. It turns out there aren’t many people in the world as musically deficient as our family, so the player kazoo never became a commercial success, but that prototype is buried in the deepest bowels of some Smithsonian Institution somewhere, probably right next to the Ark of the Covenant.
What else did he do? Well, he was a great pornographer. He built his own pornograph, and sold pictures of women in big poofy dresses and clunky shoes but without their hats on to the enlisted men of the Navy. This business, for which he eventually spent 15 years in jail, brought him to the New England coast a lot, and he eventually became something of an expert in whale discipline, and did some of the great early work in the field. He was the man who officially determined that it was not useful to spit at them (or at a fish), and that they are all very sensitive about their weight, which is where the whole plankton-based diet started. Once upon a time, there were hardly any sharks, because whales ate them, and the whales, believe it or not, were even bigger and blubberier (it’s a word now). Then the whales all switched to plankton, on the argument that you could never eat enough plankton to get fat - it’s like eating celery, and nearly as pleasant - and now that’s what they do.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, Professor Livingjetlag, of the Harpur College Department of Marine Biology. It turns out that title was revoked when he went to jail, where he spent 15 years playing the player kazoo and breaking rocks, until he was released to his loving wife and children, and he retired and they lived happily ever after.
There, now you understand where I come from. Maybe it gives you some insight into who I am. I doubt it, though. My family members are nothing like me. They're an odd bunch.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Time for a new job.
I've had the same job for quite a while now, and doing one thing or another I've been in the same place for the past 12 years. It's not that there are any major problems, but I just feel like I should try something else. I want a good job, with security, great benefits (who doesn't want an impressive package, after all?), and a sense that I'm really accomplishing something, without having to get my hands dirty. Sounds like government work, no? It sure is. I don't know anything about clean energy or lobbying or adultery, but there is one great mass opening in the government, just around the corner, and I think I can convince some of my friends to join me: I'm going to sign up for one of the Obama Death Squads when the new health care bill passes. It's going to be great fun:
Someone: The doctor says I need a bone marrow transplant. I'll be in the hospital for months.
Me: Dude, you're hosed. Off to the Maximum Security Federal Hospice with you.
Someone else: I shattered my femur when I fell off a fire escape during the rescue of a small child from a burning building.
Me: Wow, that's some expensive surgery and rehabilitation you would have needed. Bummer. Off to the Maximum Security Federal Hospice with you.
Someone else: Dang
Coincidentally, the rescued small child's Mom: My son has conjunctivitis.
Me: Eeeeeeewwwwwwww! Eye pus! Gross, and not only nasty, but just about the most contagious disease known to man. Off to the Maximum Security Federal Hospice with little Timmy.
Timmy's Mom: Dang.
And so forth. I'll save my fellow Americans millions of dollars in hospital and drug costs, doctor fees, crutches and eye drops. It's going to be all unicorns and rainbows, career-wise, and while it isn't a done deal yet, I know it's just a matter of time.
It's not just that the Democrat's have a majority in both houses of Congress. It's that there's been a larger conspiracy brewing, and my death squad job is a key element.
Start with one basic idea: It's easier to merge entities that are similar than entities that are different. Apply that to the well-known fact that, for 2o years now, give or take, the United Nations and their stupid baby-blue helmets have been conspiring to take over the whole world in the New World Order government or whatever. Well, there are basically only two ways in which the United States is far enough out of line with the rest of the industrialized world. The first is the lack of a serious federal police force, but after 9/11 we made some serious strides toward the whole automatic-weapons-in-the-streets, random-searches-to-get-into-anywhere, police statey kind of thing, and eight years later, a lot of it has become just background noise, barely noticed and perfectly entrenched. Just picture the dumb blue helmets and you're there.
The other big difference between the US and the THEM is the lack of national health care. It just has to happen for the great New World Order Merger to happen, so national health care will happen.
How, though, you may ask, do I know that the Hospice Death Squads will be a part of that plan? You argue that the whole Death Squad thing was a figment of the Republican Party's imagination under the influence of bad acid and Sarah Palin Cognitive Dissonance. Well, there, smarty-pants, if that's true, then why is Obama escalating the Afghanistan war? This man, who was so emphatic about ending Iraq and who doesn't have any illusions about using war to make the people of that region change their minds and love us and build a McDonalds and turn Christian - where was I? Oh, yeah, Obama isn't escalating the Afghanistan thing because of any ideological principle, and certainly not because it has any clear aims or can be won. He needs to send more troops over there for Afghanistan's one precious natural resource: Opium. He needs it to make the morphine for the Maximum Security Federal Hospices. Also to chill out the Republicans when they run out of acid and/or overdose.
I've got my resume all ready.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Friday, February 06, 2009
My First Two Poems
Last Saturday, at work, I walked into an elevator and found myself sharing it with a Tater Tot. It was just sitting there in the middle of the floor. I was struck by the poignancy of the moment, and wrote a haiku, which I sent to a friend:
A bit of breakfast escaped
The Lone Tater Tot.
The problem with the form, though, is that it's associated with natural beauty and serenity, and entirely fails to capture the tragedy of the event. For this, I turned to everyone's favorite cokehead and absinthe-drinker, E.A. Poe. With apologies to the master and his lost love, this is what happened:
Overflowing golden bowl! The barrel-shaped morsel dropped.
Dirty as coal, the elevator's floor is hardly ever mopped.
Someone has lost a tater tot, in non-trans-fatty-oil fried,
And part of me, as if it were my own warm breakfast, suddenly has died.
How can you salvage this unfortunate tasty tater tot?
So tempting, so delicious (or it was when it was hot)
I want to pick the morsel up, but know I'd better not.
Careless! If you pile high the bowl of salty treats
And walk around and board an elevator as you eats,
How then, can you then feign surprise when one falls off the heap?
How does your conscience ever calm enough to let you sleep?
How long will it haunt you, this lost tot you couldn't keep?
Perhaps it hasn't been there long, and now it could be mine.
Maybe it's dry, and clean enough, really the floor seems fine.
If I could have this tater tot right now, my heart would sing,
And also burn, in just htat way that fried and tasty pleasures bring.
My coffee cries out for a bit of solid food to eat besides,
Something chopped to little bits and recondensed with rounded sides.
A perfect starchy steed on which a drop of Frank's Red Hot sauce rides.
Alas! Alas! Another passenger the elevator's gained,
Without my privacy I know the tot could never be attained.
I'm not so classy but my Mom got me at least a little trained.
So when the elevator doors squeak open I'll be on my way
And then I have to start another dismal, hungry, totless day.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Thursday, February 05, 2009
I think it was Ben Franklin who said:
It is better to light a candle than curse the gas leak.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas Eve. How's that stress going? Family driving you nuts yet? Soon, soon. At my house, it's almost time for the 2008 In-law Christmas Blowout. I've set nearly all the charges and detonators, I just need a few more and the timer...
Actually, yesterday I distracted myself with what is possibly the most socially beneficial part of the holidays: better than toys-instead-of-food/shelter/education-for-tots, better than giving a quarter to the Salvation Army (no bull@#$%, the suburban zombie ringing the bell by the red bucket today was wearing a fur coat. On which planet does that make sense?). I wrote Christmas cards. Or maybe I mean "Holiday cards." I never did find out who won the War on Christmas, and it definitely appears to be over, based on the lack of news coverage this time around. Anyway, the part of the Solstice Season that does the most for humanity (no, not carols, they get irritating within 2 weeks of Thanksgiving. No, not the cookies, either, they make people get all moody starting on January 2nd) is the cards. In addition to getting rid of aging stamps and using all the return address labels that get sent to you by organizations that have come up with creative ways to (mis)spell your name, you get to reach out to everyone you know at least this once every year, without needing a specific reason, just to connect. That has to be good for the collective spirit. I know I get a kick out of it, myself.
Of course, there is always a set of "troublesome" cards at the end- people whose addresses you've lost, people who have new spouses and/or children whose names you can't remember for the life of you, people who send you cards who weren't on your list, etc- to whom you end up writing and sending cards at the last minute, usually to arrive around December 29th. This was the set of cards I banged out today, after a night of work, stressed, delirious, and overcaffeinated. Here is a typical result:
Dear Jeremy, Melissa, and Alex,
Happy Holidays from back East. Do you have any snow out there? If you miss it, we could send you a couple of boxes, and I'd throw in the coal and carrot free of charge, and all you'd need is the hat. Unless you wanted to go sledding, that is, and then you'd need a hat and a sled, and you could eat the carrot. Don't eat the coal, though, it would give you the runs, and a huge carbon footprint. So, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Later in the day, I was sent a link to Mil Millington's Christmas Card, which makes mine seem quite bland and thoughtless, which is here
. I hope you enjoy it. I also hope you survive the holidays with your sanity no less intact than it was before.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Sunday, December 07, 2008
The NHL is Overshadowed Again
My sister and I are having a slow but heated e-mail debate about some non-celebrity non-news from earlier in the week. I first read about it here, and sent the news along to her and my Dad because they have been NY Rangers fans forever, even though they haven't seen their team win the Stanley Cup since 1994, etc. You know, fans. Interestingly, even though the link is NSFW, I sent it to one of them at work, and didn't add a warning until after the link. Oops. Come to think of it, I didn't warn you until after the link either. Sorry, don't sue! Where was I going? Ah, yes. The big news item that broke was that Sean Avery of the Dallas Stars (not the person in the picture) was trash-talking Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames (also not the person in the picture) for dating his ex-girlfriend, Elisha Cuthbert (no, it isn't her, either. I would be totally flagged for showing her topless, after all. It's the rules.) Avery's exact words:
"I just wanted to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight."
Wow. Not sure what that means, but I hope it's not as gross as it sounds. So Mr. Avery was suspended by the NHL, and may get additional penalties from the Commissioner of the NHL and/or his team, but he got onto TMZ.com and officially entered the sphere of Celebrity Fake News, though it was primarily due to his connection with Elisha Cuthbert, whoever she is, and everyone and their dog in the NHL has been quoted condemning him for saying mean things about his ex. I thought it was ok to say nasty things about your ex. I thought that was what those people were for. My sister's response: "omg, this is PC madness. WHO CARES?" This response surprised me. Not the who cares part, given the teams and celebrities involved, and not the omg nonsense from a woman over 30, because she's done that before. What surprised me was that she thought the big uproar over the comment was a PC thing. I think living in San Francisco for 2 weeks has made her a little touchy. It just can't be. The NHL doesn't have an ounce of PC in it. If anyone cared about offensiveness, they wouldn't have named a team the Flames, which is offensive to homosexuals, or the Red Wings, which is offensive to Native Americans, or the Maple Leafs, which is offensive to grammarians, or the Flyers, which is offensive to newsletters, or the Blues, which is offensive to Oxygen-Deficient Americans, or the Wild, which is offensive to the Differently Sane, and I'm not even going to touch names like Canucks, Black Hawks, Predators, and Devils. Just putting the Ducks and Sharks in the same division makes PETA cry. So the NHL doesn't care what people think. That explains, and came from, keeping a straight face all those years when half of all games were allowed to end in a 1-1 tie.
My theory for the outcry was that Elisha Cuthbert doesn't just sleep with NHL players, she sleeps with management, too, who now want to get back into her good graces, or her pants, or both. My sister's reply was that it's a tough pro-censorship world out there, and "hockey mom" is a semi-serious term, and the Minivan Brigade is an inch away from making the whole country go peanut-free (more on that to come) this very second. I had to agree with that. It isn't hard to see them rising up against an athlete who calls the women with whom he has had loveless sexual relationships "used." You know, after he used them. I also had to agree with the WHO CARES part. It's a couple of Canadians on obscure teams, for heaven's sake. Just to show them how it's done, and rub their noses in their relative obscurity, the NFL immediately generated some REAL fake news with Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg, for heaven's sake. Important player, team that won the Super Bowl last year, New York City - nobody's mentioned Sean Avery since, poor guy. Poor NHL. Poor Canada. As for Elisha Cuthbert, she can date whoever she wants, I don't mind. The pretty ones can always do whatever they want. It's a law of thermodynamics or something.
But have no fear, NHL, I, in my usual helpful fashion, have an elegant solution! It's time for someone to introduce Sean Avery, and the NHL in general, to Amy Winehouse. Think about it- she's single now, she's not above guys with no teeth, she likes snow (don't tell her it's not the same snow), she's got enough psycho-ex-girlfriend in her for the whole league with plenty left over, and we'd all get to watch the YouTube video of her snorting a line of coke that goes all the way from one end of a hockey stick to the other in one inhalation. Awesome.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I'm getting some new neighbors, apparently. I'm very happy about it. I know, you wouldn't think I'd be happy about anything that involves being near people, and, being a suburbanite, I am morally obligated to fight against any use of other people's land, but there's a special situation here. You see, it's a cemetery that's moving in. Nice, quiet neighbors, apparently far enough into the woods that I won't even know that they're there. I probably won't even hear the lawnmowers, which is key, given that I need to sleep during the day. Ahh, lawnmowers. Do you know why so many people in the suburbs hire others to mow their lawns? It isn't because the job is physically difficult, hot, noisy, dirty, time-consuming, or a reliable source of vibration/ repetitive motion injury. No, the reason to hire others is more sinister. When a suburbanite is faced with the oblivion of the spinning blades, the temptation is nearly unbearable. As the machine chews up the grass, the grasshoppers, the frogs and snakes, and anyone else in its path, and as you follow it around in empty circles symbolizing the pointlessness of commuting and earning money for taxes and mortgage interest, you start to think, "why is being behind the lawnmower better than being in front?" But I digress.
So the cemetery is moving in. Cool. Interestingly, the way things are going, the deceased are going to have to be dropped into their graves by helicopters, because they're having a teensy weensy little bit of trouble placing a driveway. They bought a bunch of land including the lot next door, but apparently there was a puddle on it once, and there are mosquitos so the place is obviously a habitat for critically endangered species, so the town's Konservation Komission shut 'em down. The komission demanded that they switch their driveway to what they had planned for the service/construction road, which connected from a quiet suburban street. Well, the quiet suburban street-dwellers just about shat themselves when they caught wind of that plan, and wrote many an angry letter to the local newspaper about how those bastard cemetery people bait-and-switched them, and how having two funeral processions each month go down their street is an unbearable burden, and the usual crap about "property values" (yeah, I think having the bank that foreclosed half the houses on the block go bankrupt is the more serious threat to property values at the moment) blah blah blah.
So I went to a Konservation Komission meeting last week, because the next plan is to get an easement on my property to share the driveway that already goes through my land to the neighbor's house in back, in exchange for paving their driveway and mine, and putting up and maintaining a nice fence, and some landscaping and whatnot. I went to the meeting to give the thumbs-up, but it turns out my input was not requested. Instead, the KonKom listened to the proposal, and a couple of others that involved various ways to minimize wetland impact while still not generating an angry mob of pitchfork-and-torch wielding suburbanites, and the komittee's responses were 1) We don't care about the townies, use the plan we gave you, after all it's not us that everyone's angry at. 2) Why don't you buy the land from the guy who refused to sell you land before? Why don't you ask him to give you the land instead of selling it to you? 3) Why can't you go through the other cemetery, which already refused your access and started this whole mess in the first place? Yeah, I don't think the KonKom is listening. Actually, by watching them during the meeting, I know they aren't listening. Even when representatives of the angry mob openly threatened a legal battle with the town, they weren't listening. At least the mob figured out who the real enemy was.
So as I sat there watching this heated battle over the entrance to a cemetery, it occurred to me, "How can I, or any of us, make such a fuss about the entrance to a cemetery? This is the suburbs, my whole life is the entrance to a cemetery!" Then the meeting suddenly ended so everyone could get home in time for Dancing with the Fake Stars, and I went to work, in a hospital, at night. Talk about the entrance to a cemetery.
So you can see why I would be happy to have neighbors who keep their NIMBY to themselves. Of course, it means I will be first to die when the zombie apocalypse comes, but you have to take the bad with the good.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Parking problem solved, Part Two
Well, continuing along the general theme of making myself the king of everything by virtue of my own write-in campaign for all unopposed offices listed during the last election, and realizing that the Bleeding Artery Tunnel Project will have diminishing returns over time, I have designed a followup program, which I would gladly administer for a well-deserved $2 million per year. Here's the idea:
I was inspired by the "quarters only" parking meters that I've seen around. Now, I have not gone on a rant about the de-currencization of the penny on this blog, but maybe someday I will waste some of your valuable time with my theory that pennies are a deliberate attempt by the mining industry to keep the marked value of copper high by artificially inflating demand, taking tons of the stuff for use in what is basically single-use money which counts as cash when someone gives it to you, but which no one else seems obligated to accept. RRGH! Never mind, I just did it. Anyway, it started with toll booths, vending machines, and parking meters going "no pennies" on us, and has become "quarters only," with the excuse that the machines get full sometimes. OK, then, we are now to blame for the fact that parking meters are a lousy revenue generator, and can't come anywhere near paying for the union city employee salary of the person who has to empty all those meters (and deal with the weather and the abuse and so on). I am inclined to believe that a parking ticket is a much better revenue generator. Certainly, a $15 ticket is a better deal for the city than $4 in coins for the same 2 hours of parking.
So, naturally, more restrictive coin acceptance makes sense, and parking tickets make sense, and your ultimate goal is to make parking in Cambridge and Boston illegal anywhere at any time for any purpose (I mentioned that that was the ultimate goal, right? No? It is.), so there is basically one strategy, with two methods of carrying it out. I would use one, then the other, to string people along as far as possible. First, change all the meters to accept "75-cent pieces only." I am assuming that there is no such coin, but the US mint has surprised me with a modern half dollar and a few different modern dollar coins (not a quarter, be careful!). The confusion would be priceless. Parking ticket revenue would soar, especially after I jacked up the "expired meter" rate (obviously). Well, eventually the uproar would die, even though you would never see a news story about it because the news folks couldn't park the satellite van to have the reporter stand pointlessly in front of something and/or pester the passersby. The next thing to do, then, would be to switch from US currency to tokens. Now, initially this seems like a step backwards, because the program will be destroyed by the costs associated with generating and selling the tokens, but my response is this: screw the tokens. I'm not going to have any. The meters will say "tokens only," and my website will have a link to a page about where and how to buy tokens, but that page will be inactive ("have you spelled the link correctly? have you hit refresh? maybe you should try again later, or have the windows paper-clip guy "help" you...). No tokens, no costs, simple. On the other hand, for maximum confusion, I could have a limited edition of, say, 250 tokens made. If the ceramic content is high enough, they would break over time. I could sell them on Ebay at a tremendous markup. Hey, it may not be world domination, but it's domination of all the streets for at least 8 feet out from the curb, and that's not bad at all.
After this, I just have to find a way to eliminate parking on private property, like store parking lots and people's driveways...
PS: I know that the debate over how much of our country should be devoted to parking, how it effects our driving habits and costs, and how people like me are ruining the world, is a serious debate. I don't care, don't bother commenting.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Parking problem solved, Part One
There is no parking in Cambridge, MA, let alone Boston. I am considered a lucky guy, to have a paid parking spot at my workplace on the far distant outskirts of Cambridge. There were no cars when Boston and Cambridge were invented, so neither city is quite sure what to do with them. If you showed up with a few hundred barrels of rum, or a ship full of shoe buckles, salt cod, corsets, and latin Bibles, all would be well (though the Bibles would have to bear a Stamp Act stamp, or they'd tell on you to King George IV so fast your head would spin). So yeah, driving is an adventure. As the local legend goes, the roads around here weren't so much planned as just thrown on down wherever the cows had stomped a path. F.L. Olmstead designed all the famous parks, and hopefully got paid well for all his fine work, but the roads? Mooooo. Yankee #$% ingenuity at its fertilizery fintest. Can you smell it? If you've ever driven in Boston or Cambridge, you'll agree.
So how do you solve a parking problem? Think about it rationally. A parking problem is a mismatch of spaces and cars. "Too few spaces" has always been the cry, but perhaps... perhaps... what if, instead of trying to cram a few more spaces into the city, or introducing the Kar Krusher (TM) Parking Multiplier:
What if we cut down on the number of cars? Now, I'm not some bleeding-heart, Tax'n'spend, Godless Punk Liberal (living in Massachusetts though I do) who thinks people should be coerced into using *Gasp* public transportation, or unicycles, or teleportation, or whatever the $%^ it is that they're always blabbering on about, because that has been failing to work since approximately 1965, and it's time to put that argument to rest. No, my idea was way better. I say "was" because it is, alas, too late. My idea, the most inspired urban traffic and parking solution since the hitching post, was:
The Bleeding Artery Tunnel Project
You see, I came to the Boston Metropolitan Area far into the Big Dig, and I realized right off that it was a corpse waiting to bloat. The Central Artery Tunnel project was designed with a certain volume of traffic in mind, and, of course, that volume was considered a quaint little throwback by the time the first shovelful of dirt was symbolically turned by a bunch of bigwigs with golden fake shovels. What was needed was a relatively small alteration to the plan. You see, the central artery is just a fancy name for a big underground highway. Nice, in theory, with green space above it and so on, but no way to increase capacity, and if there's an accident in there, you're hosed. Interestingly enough, though, the giant highway passes within a few hundred yards of Boston Harbor. Hmmm, you say. As did I. So here's the idea:
Just a quick 90 degree turn to the East, and so many problems solved. If you kept it really quiet, and almost nobody knew that the new highway actually led out to a Wile E. Coyote-style drop into the harbor, then you could have a big opening-day spectacle of tens of thousands of drivers sacrificing themselves and their cars to the Mighty Atlantic, Poseidon be praised, and after that.... More parking spaces, less traffic, less demand for apartments and therefore lower rents... paradise. Even if everyone figured it out by the next day and the Bleeding Artery Tunnel never ditched anyone but hopeless tourists again, the purpose would be served. Of couse I, with my legendarily bad sense of direction, would be dead a week later, knowing full well how the Bleeding Artery Tunnel Project was designed, but thinking that I was on the Alewife Brook Parkway or something. Still, to have Saved Boston, it would all be worth it.
Next time, a more political solution.
Your Humblest and most Devoted Servant,
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Unlike most blogwallahs, I actually went out to vote today (don't worry, I had my laptop securely stuffed into my underpants, I would never be without it). While I was there, in my exciting, powder-keg suburban precinct, I conducted my own Exit Poll, all the while ducking the Long Arm of the Law, who were all uptight about minimum distances from the polling place, and wearing pants in public, and the use of an 8-inch chef's knife (Go Henkels! Woo hoo!) as a truth-inducing device, and a bunch of other crap they probably made up on the spot. In any case, here are some results:
Among people wearing aluminum foil deflector beanies, "Leave me alone" narrowly beat out "Get the F--- away from me" by a margin of 43% to 41%.
Among nursing home residents brought in to give the folks at the mall a break, Lyndon Johnson led a wide field with 21%, with "That damned machine wouldn't give me a soda," "Vote for Miss Rhinegold," and "WHAT?" all making good showings.
Among those who feel passionately in favor of Question 2, nearly 2% actually left their homes, found their polling places, and managed to remember why they had gone there long enough to vote yes on... can I have some of your cheetos? Hey, look, the leaves are falling. Each leaf is an entirely separate entity from every other, even though we think of them as one...
Mushroom Pizza beat cheeze pizza 3 slices to one.
I, myself, received several write-in votes for state offices, in races in which commie types thought they were running unopposed. Viva la revolucion!
Have a happy election day. Now go watch a DVD and just find out who won in the morning, without all the nonsense.
Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
New favorite game
Summer is a strange season at my job- the shifts are a little less busy, but there are a lot more of them. I've been filling in for other people on top of it. Add to that, day camp ends earlier than school, and it's just so darn BRIGHT outside, and the bottom line is this: I'm not doing much sleeping these days. This has helped me to discover a new game. Yippee!
What the #$@% is ringing?!?!
Pure entertainment. This game is played with one player, plus or minus the people of the outside world. It works best when you have been sleeping for about an hour, and that hour is the fourth (at most) over the past two or three days. To begin, wake from a coma-deep, dreamless, oceanic sleep because something is making noise at you. Guess/find the source of the noise. Your choices are:
your cell phone
your land-line phone
your phone at work (uh-oh)
the other cat
the alarm clock
nothing - you dreamed that
Earn bonus points for knowing what day it is and the approximate time without looking. Lose points for having conversations with people that you later cannot recall whatsoever.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Porn! (Caution: Adult Content)
There are many signs of spring. Flowers, allergies, women wearing pastels, and so forth are the obvious ones. I came across a more specialized sign a few weeks ago, on the cold and rainy day before Presidents' Day (known around here as Marathon Day). No flowers, no pastels, no itchy eyes, and to make matters more confusing, our federal government decided to mess with Daylight Savings time, making it begin one month earlier.
Now, pardon me, but I must digress here. I suppose it is well within the power of the federal government to fiddle, futz, mess, and otherwise tinker with the calendar, which is ridiculous anyway. It would be well within the rights of our accidentally elect-purchased officials to generate a calendar consisting of 13 True Months of 28 days each, naming the 13th month Lastember or something, and then having the 365th day of each year occur without a month at all, similar to the way Washington, DC is without a state. Alternatively, 10 sections (too far from the lunar cycle to call them months) alternating 36-day units and 37-day units, five of each. That way we could ditch, say, February (too hard to spell, always tortured us with a non-standard length) and August (no holidays, what a drag). In any case, the calendar is currently more or less intact, except for the above-mentioned change in Daylight savings time. Now, I may be nit-picking here, and I like a lighter evening as much as the next guy - maybe more, now that I can use wireless internet on the front porch - but if Daylight savings is 7 months long, and Standard Time is 5 months long, then standard time isn't really the standard, now, is it? Standard time is the deviation from the norm. It is, logically, not the Standard. This may bother me for 7 months out of every 12 until I die, or they put me on stronger meds, whichever comes first.
OK, that wasn't the point at all. The point was, I was without my touchstones for Spring, nearly a month after the astronomical beginning of spring. Who came to my rescue? You'll never guess (go on, try). ...
Penguins! That's right, there I was in the New England Aquarium with a gazillion other people including my impressionable young daughter, and the penguins, according to older-than-ancient, mysterious animal wisdom, decided that it was spring. Penguins, in the spring, do what everyone else does in the spring: they become insatiably horny. Now, I know that penguins are Southern Hemispherian, so April for them is technically fall, but I can only tell you what I saw, which was:
HOTTT PENGUIN-ON-PENGUIN ACTION!!!! UNCENSORED!!!! XXX!!!!
And penguins, in addition to being exhibitionist, can go at it for quite some time, let me tell you. I've seen squirrels in the park(under a minute, after lots of running around and no other foreplay), lions in Africa (30 seconds each 15 minutes for 4 days straight, no cigarrettes, no foreplay, no TV), and an interested Tapir (he's got a 3-footer, I swear), and the penguins are the sex gods of the animal kingdom as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, I didn't have the equipment for video to post on the dirty section of You-Tube, and I wasn't brave enough to ask Mrs. Livingjetlag for the camera, so I don't have a good picture to show you. I'm sorry. I can't even give you good audio of the Sex Song Of Ten Gazillion Frogs that goes on in the swamps around my home every night now, a much less expensive and touristy sign of spring than Aquarium Penguins Gone Wild, but still an effective one.
Have a good night, and dream about sex in formalwear.
Your humblest and most devoted servant,
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Other People's Children
I fairly often find myself astounded by how irritating other people's children are. It's really kind of amazing how many parents fail to maintain "effective voice control," the minumum standard for keeping your dog off a leash. I think that children should be maintained to the same standard - if they won't listen to their parents, they should be tied up to make sure they don't harm other people or property.
After a fruitful trip to the Town Dump today (not literally - fruit goes in the compost out back), I had to go to the toy store to get stuff to put in the fake plastic eggs for easter tomorrow, which really bugs me, because it means I won't be getting any chocolate on Easter. So there I was, buying the rabbit and fox families of Calico Critters (TM), which - ugh. I'm just not going to talk about Calico Critters or Webkins or Barbies or American Girl dolls on this post, except to say that, praise be to heaven, my daughter and I still love each other in spite of them. I've lost track of my point, now I'm just angry. Oh, yeah, toy store. Well, of course toy stores are the cruelest places in the world, because they are full of toys that your child cannot play with. Realistically, toy stores have their place in society, as do pornography stores and gun shops, and they all share one common trait: they are places you should not bring children. A child should not be expected to go into a toy store and see dozens of cool things that he/she cannot have, and expect to be happy and content and grateful. Many adults cannot manage this degree of emotional restraint. Ok, I've fallen off my point again, which is to comment on the behavior of 2 children, obviously brother and sister, who may or may not have had a parent in the store. I couldn't tell by looking around whether any of the adults milling around was related to/ responsible for them. The girl (who I thought was a much younger boy for a long time, until coming to her aisle and actually seeing her) was crying and shrieking and generally throwing a tantrum about her brother not sharing and not playing nicely and so on, for 20 minutes, without any adult stepping in. The last five minutes of this includes time in which this girl was shrieking for her MOM!, who was ignoring her or MIA. Her brother was talking to her reasonably and calmly as far as I could tell from a distance, but as I got closer I realized that he was relentlessly pushing this girl's buttons. At the age of, like, 9, he was being a manipulative little prick, getting off on his own cruelty. I don't know whether his sister is slow or disturbed or just having a bad day or what, but seriously, I think people in the coffee shop down the plaza were getting uncomfortable. I thought to myself, I have to tell Mrs. Livingjetlag about this; thank God I have the child that I have.
I didn't have time to tell Mrs. Livingjetlag about this adventure, because my daughter's best friend was hosting an Easter Egg Hunt at a nearby park. While the siblings in that bunch of children at least weren't tormenting each other, I was really shocked at how these kids behaved. It was obvious why this was so: empty threats. If you threaten to take a child away from something fun, and the child continues to be a little pusbucket, you must remove the child. I've done this. There are many restaurant meals which I've had to have wrapped up, events I've had to skip out on, but I've seen the alternative - the woman at the coffee shop who obviously wasn't going anywhere until she was finished talking to her friend and having lunch had absolutely no effect on her daughter's shouting and running laps around the table, when she threatened the child with "I'll take you home right now." Her little kid knew at some level that this was a load of crap, and wasn't having any fun anyway. At the park it was the same way. The kids were not under parental control for the most part, which is not surprising for a party, but really, some lines were crossed. Noise, hyperactivity, acting outside the rules of the game, all relatively acceptable in a kids'-party situation as far as I'm concerned, but sharing, sticking vaguely with the group, non-violence or at least no violence beyond what the recipient finds appropriate (if both boys want to wrestle, fine) are the bare minimum. Right? No? Really? You're just going to let your son keep doing that? Wow. Well, good luck with the next 10+ years, then, we won't be seeing you. Thank God I have the child that I have.
Wow, so while I was wallowing in self-righteousness, I went online to read my emails and check this blog and then get some info on where I can get my vasectomy, and I got distracted by the Next Blog button, as I so often do, and came across little John Craig Birtch of Scottsdale Arizona, pictured above at the age of zero (just born, 24 weeks 5 days gestation, 1.5 pounds) and reading his mother's blog, "Our Miracle Boy". You can read it for yourself at birtchbaby.blogspot.com. This is an amazing child, an amazing family, and I can read and empathize, but I'm sure I can't imagine what it's like for them. There are so many people out there who ruin their healthy children, this just shows how much of a crime that is. She doesn't say this (and may not know), but 24 weeks gestation is the absolute minimum birth age to be considered "compatible with life" at the most high-tech and well-staffed centers, so even though this child has been through nearly a year of medical care with smatterings of childhood thrown in, he has had more life than many would have dared to hope for. I gave a little money to his March of Dimes Walkathon team, even though they are "not-for-profit" rather than "nonprofit", which can sometimes allow for a little corporate/ethical ickiness. Thank God I have the child that I have, no offense to the Birtches, may fortune smile on them.
Your humblest and most devoted servant,
Thursday, March 29, 2007
In a Foul Mood
Well, here we are on Thursday. Not bad. This week has been the week that Ms LJ is on her "business trip" to Daytona, FL. In March, Spring Break season. Right. All I know is, I'm buying "Girls Gone Wild" next year, and if she's on it, she's in trouble.
But that's not what's got my goat today (Baaaah!). I drove across several examples of the sign above today. My main beef about it is that it is incomplete. It should read "Stop the rail trail. Vote No. Preserve Sudbury's white anglo-cracker heritage. Xenophobes Unite! You have nothing to lose but your white hoods! Ok, you don't have to live in MA to guess that the big argument against this trail would be "property values." Oldest suburban trick in the book. If you don't remember it yourself, you can ask your folks, and they'll tell you that "property values" was the old excuse for keeping people of color and Jews out of various neighborhoods, and keeps the suburbs from bearing their fair share of the burden of mental health, industrial, and other costs in every state in the union. Now, the feds have kindly offered to pay for 90% of the cost of the Bruce Freeman Rail trail, and the residents of abutting properties are promised fencing or screening shrubs, so why are Sudbury folk so worried? I mean, after all, there are a bunch of towns that are already pushing ahead on this same trail. Well, a clue comes from nearby Weston. They killed the Wayside Rail Trail, which was supported by other towns. Sudbury borders on Framingham. Weston borders on Waltham. Each of these town lines marks a quite dramatic differential in wealth. In both cases, a town full of people who regularly drive their SUV's past their neighbors, belching smoke, is worried that people of color, the handicapped, terrorists, criminals, the mentally ill, and the working class are now going to have bicycle access to their town. Obviously, this cannot be tolerated. If the portuguese-speaking population of Framingham, riding their cheap big-box-store bicycles with their children, are allowed access to the heart of Sudbury when they aren't there to mow lawns or clean toilets, then who knows what will follow. Generating public recreational spaces will undo much of the work that the Town-income based fake-public school system has done so well.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
, six months have gone by and I have a million excuses for not posting, all of which are crap, so I will spare you. Tonight's post is brought to you by Harpoon (trademarked, if you must) India Pale Ale. For what it's worth, the regular Ale is better. On a historical note, India Pale Ale as a class of beers was invented as "mediocre at best, but will survive a trip to the opposite hemisphere in the days before the Suez Canal without becoming hideous to the point of being undrinkable." It was not meant to be good, just a good survivor. Why anyone sells or drinks it in the age of Jet Transport is beyond me, but I accidentally bought it, and I must say, if your method of refrigeration can be described as "I'll just leave it out on the porch," the stuff does survive rather antagonistic conditions reasonably well.Mind you, I didn't come back just to ramble tediously about beer (Drink!). I wanted to advocate for a major issue. I was harmed by a commercial product this past winter (ooh, maybe that'll be my excuse for not posting - my mangled hand) in an entirely preventable Incident, and I am considering suing the Ariens Dangerous Motorized Equipment Corporation for my pain and suffering, which I estimate to be worth about $6.57. Those of you who live here in New England with me will remember our recent storm, which managed to dump six inches of solid ice onto us. So much for the mild winter. Like you, I rocked my car out of the driveway to get to work that night, but the next morning I came home to find that the stuff had somehow hardened and become more malicious without getting any lower. I could not navigate my own driveway, and I was not going to be able to just wait for a melt-off. I had to bust out the snow-blower. Yeah, I know, back in your day, you had to shovel, none of this snow-blower crap, and you had to do it uphill, with bare feet, for five miles each way, with alligators snapping at your heels, even though you had tuberculosis and hadn't eaten for a year, etc. Stop interrupting, it's MY story. Anyway, the trouble with snow-blowers in this part of the country is that you really only need one a few times per year at most. I mean, unless you are outrageously anal, you can skip the 3-inch snowstorms, right? So out of the shed it came, a beautiful orange beast. I reread the instructions on the side of the machine regarding starting it. Prime, choke, yank, got it. I pulled the starter cord. I pulled the cord. I pulled the cord for 5 minutes. I got blisters on my hands, and I got cold and out of breath. I pulled the cord for 5 more minutes, and the blisters burst, and it hurt, and I found myself stopping to rest. I pulled the cord for 5 more minutes, and my fingers were BLEEDING. Ew. And OW. Not much to do but keep trying, and there were hopeful little popping internal-combustion noises, so I started in again. At this point, a mouse ran out of the machine and scampered around the shed, presumably to get right back in. "HEY," I yelled intellectually at him. Then I swore for a while, but it only took a few more yanks on that cord to get the snowblower started. I guess the mouse must have been hibernating rather deeply to take that long to realize that he was sleeping in a bad spot, or maybe he was certain that I would quit sooner, but come on! So I was wounded, and it didn't help that I kept washing my hands at work with the water-free hand wash at work which has lye or hydrochloric acid or something for an active ingredient, and practically burning my fingers off. I also didn't have an easy time once the Machine was started, because the stuff on my driveway wasn't really snow, as mentioned, it was Ice, so the machine kept trying to climb on top of it and bolt for freedom. After an interminable period of pushing and shoving and yanking and carrying and verbally abusing the snowblower, I managed to clear off the minimum area of the driveway. By the end, I looked and felt like Jack Nicholson at the end of "The Shining." On an irrelevant note, he was the only reason to watch "The Departed."So now I'm suing the bastards at Ariens, for not including in the instructions for starting their machines "Be sure to remove all wildlife from the engine before attempting to start." I'm also suing the mouse. He and his family are welcome to stay in the shed. I know he has kept a nest in the artificial christmas tree, and behind the generator, etc. I don't keep any food in there, or pillowcases or whatever, so he and his nasty little rodent family are welcome, but the agreement was predicated on the idea that I would never be inconvenienced to any degree greater than having to shake the mouse turds off of my stuff. Stay out of the heavy equipment, you idiot! What are you, drunk like me? My lawyer said I have a good case. It actually sounded like "imagination" when he said it, but I know he meant "case."Respectfully submitted, with apologies for being the second consecutive mouse story, Livingjetlag
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Metaphor for Suburban Life
Well, I am good and depressed now, that's for certain. There are some things that just scream out "Suburbia!" to me. It always sounds like an accusation. Mowing the lawn is the most common trigger. I can think of no more soul-crushing activity. As Dr. Seuss said, "...Think they work you too hard? Think of poor Ali Sard. He has to mow grass in his uncle's back yard, and it's quick-growing grass; it grows as he mows it. The faster he mows it, the faster he grows it..." Ugh.Anyway, we had a small crisis this week. It's been nice out there, as fall in New England so often is, so the family and I ate dinner outside in the backyard. Norman Fucking Rockwell, I swear, even the cats came out to enjoy the lack of humidity and mosquitos that make fall, arguably, better than summer around here.Yeah, that's where the problem started. Let the cats out. Now, these are my cats, and, while they are not my genetic progeny, are definitely the product of a Livingjetlag-influenced environment. So what do we have? Cat #1, Grendel, bought at the mall in Cheektowaga, NY for $20, black and white, age 13. Cat #2, Hyde, taken from the Farmers' Market in Ithaca grey sort-of-tabby, free to good home, probably too young to start eating cat food when we took him but no one told us so, and he ended up having a lot of chronic health issues; age 13. Early this year, he lost the last of his teeth, which actually seemed to help somehow. Both of the boys are declawed. Neither is particularly bright. Raised in Buffalo, NY on a major bus route, they are indoor cats at heart.So there we were, minding our own collective business, when Grendel spotted motion in the grass. He went to investigate, and found a mouse. He watched the mouse. He watched the mouse. He watched the mouse. At no point was there any hint of aggression, or any apparent ambivalence about whether he should do anything in this situation. Yeah, he's the mall cat. Then Hyde, Farmer's Cat, noticed his adopted brother's attention being fixed on something. Quite the little hunter, he circled wide around, then stalked in to investigate from the far side. He pounced. A horrid sound followed. Part cassette with both "FF" and "Play" pressed, part nails-on-a-chalkboard, part malfunctioning brakes, it was too much for Grendel, who said the cat equivalent of "Ew!" and walked away. Yeah, guess who's not the alpha male.Now, we are engaged in the timeless, life and death struggle of predator and prey. We will witness the final products of, depending on your point of view, creation or evolution, the purpose. Also, we will metaphorically visit the meeting of The Suburbs and The Real World. What do we see? Well, we see the instincts of the hunter and of the hunted. We also see that the hunted, while at a significant size disadvantage, has little teeny claws. The Predator has no claws. The Prey has teeth, which, while small, can chew a hole in the side of your house. The Predator has no teeth. Fortunately, someone opens the Lambs n Rice for him. The prey, needless to say, got free, as the predator was unable to gum him to death. The predator caught the prey, again. More horrid squealing, more struggling, another escape. Another capture. Repeat several times, with the action occurring a little closer to the tall grass and mousy freedom each time. Where was the Livingjetlag family the whole time? Right there, watching. We knew the motion in the grass was a mouse because I checked it out during the Grendel-spectator phase. The LJ family looked on:LJ's daughter, age 8, burst into furious, hysterical tears. "I like mice!" she later said. She couldn't turn away, but was obviously horrified. She yelled at Hyde to stop. My response, because I am very possibly the worst father in the world, was "NO! Let him be a cat." Mrs. LJ tried to get Daughter to stop watching, since it made her so upset. Too logical for anyone in my family, so no one listened.The end result, of course, was that the mouse escaped, entirely unharmed. I was glad for my daughter, but a little upset that I didn't get a chance to see what would happen to the mouse carcass. I like to think I would have gotten half. After all, I open all those cans of Lamb n Rice...Your humblest and most devoted servant,LivingJetlag
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Hey, I hope you all had a great time celebrating "International Talk Like a Pirate Day" yesterday. Now, not to be outdone, the witches get the Autumnal Equinox. They're all out somewhere naked and dancing in circles and drunk, just like the pirates were yesterday. You know about the big rivalry between the pirates and the ninjas, but I bet you didn't know that Pirates and Witches don't get along, either. Not that all that many people really get along with pirates, of course. So, you've got witches and pirates, and there's this nagging feeling that a group is being left out, a group that would like you to think they are misunderstood but really do end up being dangerous. Let's see, who is that again? Zombies? Vampires? IRS agents? Librarians? Nope. Politicians! Yay! Yes, it was the big Primary election here in Massachussets yesterday. They all went out and got naked and drunk and danced in circles as soon as the 11:00 news cameras shut down for the night. But wait, there's more! All the reality shows are premiering this week. Talk about scary people, yowza. Could this be the apocalypse? Well, probably not, this actually happens every year. It's a pretty scary time. Not a coincidence that we start the slide into Halloween right about now.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The environment belongs to the wealthy, so keep off!
Remember when the environment belonged to dirty hippies and third world nations? Ah, those were the good old days. Since then, apparently, it occurred to the Haves that the environment occurs, to a great extent, on land, and that they are the land-owning class, dammit, not a bunch of door-to-door college kids on break! So all the college kids and dirty hippies are forced to join PETA and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition now, and the environment belongs to the people who had fences put up around it. How can I tell? Well, I'm so glad (I'm pretending) you asked.
Let's look at a couple of stands the Radical Environmentalist Left have taken recently. One, not all that recent I admit, but still a thorn in my side after nearly 10 years, was a stand against a rail trail for use by cyclists, roller-bladers etc, that was to go through several towns in Eastern Massachusetts. The lovely people of the town of Weston, bless their environmentally conscious hearts, sacrificed their recreation out of concern that there would be too much environmental impact on this delicate ecosystem of disused railway. Now, the cynics say that the Tony Town of Weston just couldn't handle the idea of people from the neighboring town of Waltham being near their lovely homes. I mean, come on, Waltham is full of immigrants and the handicapped and working people and other undesirables. It's one thing to hire them to cut your lawn, but to have them engaging in recreation? Ew. Next they'll be engaging in procreation, and what will happen to property values then? Now, the people of Weston clog the streets of Waltham with their smogging SUV's on their commutes to and from Boston/Cambridge on a daily basis, and the argument could be made that they owe their neighbors a little fresh air, and I'm sure they would love to oblige, but not at the expense of the environment! Think of the chipmunks, people!
Ok, you think I'm exaggerating, but look up the "Wayside Rail Trail." How about another? There was a time that idiots like me thought that wind energy was a clean, renewable resource that would help reduce pollution and benefit the environment. Ha! Silly me. It has been clearly proven, both in Maine and off the coast of Massachusetts, that putting up windmills for generating electricity is possibly the single biggest threat to the environment short of strip mining. In Maine, someone tried to put some turbines up on some mountains in an area full of roads and ski slopes. In Massachusetts, someone tried to put some turbines in an area that can be seen from Nantucket, where there were fish 100 years ago, and there are too many jellyfish now (they love polluted water). In both cases, the unselfish people of those unspoiled wildernesses demanded justice for the delicate environment. They are striking a blow for the continued use of clean, renewable petroleum instead. It has nothing to do with those unsightly white propellers. Thank god for the people of Elizabeth, NJ, Buffalo, NY and countless other oil-refining areas of this great nation who continue to support the (cough, sputter, spew) environment on behalf of the people who own nicer land and bigger cars than you.
Not that I'm bitter.
Your humblest and most devoted servant,
Thursday, August 10, 2006
My Goodness, it's been forever since I've been here. Look at all the dust. I'm sorry, I just haven't had the combination of alcohol, time alone at home, and the proper ambiance for posting. I apparently missed all of July. Yowza. Some of what kept me away was good, like going out with coworkers to badmouth other coworkers. Nothing like wallowing in the sin of Lashon Hora for recreational purposes - it's going to be another tough Yom Kippur, comrades. Other fun stuff: Last weekend Spawn of LivingJetlag and I were kicked out of the house by Spouse of LivingJetlag, on the grounds that she needed to get a ton of work done, and wanted the computer and kitchen to herself, and wanted to keep her own hours, blah blah blah. Just because I haven't found her boyfriend's boots under the bed doesn't mean that he wasn't around. I'll have to Google "particularly painful ways to kill a cheating spouse and her lover," but first this meandering post. Apparently, JW Dundee's Honey Brown Lager (Rochester, NY) is just as tangentogenic as my usual cheap red wine, but without the parentheses. I don't think it's any better. Aaaanyway, the SoLJ and I had to pack a quick bag and clear out like the Feds were coming, hop into the rode-hard-and-put-away-without-an-oil-change-or-fixing-the-slow-leak-in-the-right-front-tire Corolla, and headed off without a clue where we were going. Because my daughter is both forebearing and used to me, she totally took it in stride when we ended up in Belchertown, MA. Yes, there is, look it up. It's the home of the Windsor Dam, which holds back the Quabbin Reservoir, as featured in Stephen King's "Dreamcatcher," or even if you're not. We had a blast, biking and spying on random outdoor weddings and mini golf and ice cream and "Pirates of the Carribean, the Long Sequel," which isn't the flop everyone says it is. Some bad stuff kept me away. Well, not really "away," since I read Bloggercycle all the time, and I love Veiled Conceit and a bunch of other Blogger offerings, but I didn't post. One problem was the fact that the computer lives in the room that is basically a small sunroom. Man, it's been stifling in here. The whole east coast has been turned into a less comfortable version of Guatemala lately, and I just couldn't sit here and type and drink the hours away like I used to. More significantly, though, I had a setback in my confidence. I finally showed this blog to someone. I like the freedom to talk about my life and loved ones without being bound to kindness or strict factual truth, so I have kept this blog to myself, but at some point I was gripped by cruel Pride and curiosity, and started animal testing it. Now, I know that animal testing is supposedly a bad thing, and I'm sure PETA will start boycotting me now, but I'll tell you the truth - I've been animal testing my stuff for a long time now. When I wonder whether my underpants are harmfully staticky, I don't just yank 'em on and hope I don't electrocute my gonads. No, I grab whichever kitty is whining at me that I haven't fed him in an hour, and put the undies on him. If he doesn't scream or go all pufferfish on me, I know they're safe. They routinely test the structural integrity of the dining room table and other furniture for me, though I often wish they wouldn't. Much of the time, I have to yell "FUR IS MURDER" at them until they get the heck down. Still, it's good to know I can put about 10 lb of food on the table and it won't collapse into a heap of splinters. I worry about that, don't you? Anyway, I had the cats read "LivingJetlag," and they didn't laugh, they didn't seem to follow the ideas through my interminable and reduntant paragraphs, mostly they just wanted to get down and then go bathe. My blog made them feel dirty! Wow, worse than I thought. So here I am, 6 weeks later, finally able to get my confidence up to the point where I can torture you. But now, alas, I'm out of beer, and I worry about the headache I'll have tomorrow if I switch to wine, so I'll just sign off here. Check out Veiled Conceit at nytimesweddings.blogspot.com, or plan a trip to Belchertown, MA, which has the highest per capita consumption of root beer in the US, or take the advice of Vance at MassBike and design a magnet on supportourribbons.com, if you still need to kill some time. Thanks for listening.Your humblest and most devoted servant,LivingJetlag
Friday, June 02, 2006
OK, I'll be honest
Whenever people find themselves in the company of a boring couple, like, for instance, my wife and me (I? No, definitely "me." Where's that wine...?) the awkward pauses in the conversation eventually dominate to the point where the desperate question comes up, "So, how did you [mouth-breathing dimwits] meet?" I love that. It is a sure sign that the conversation has been brought to its knees, usually because I am concentrating entirely on the plate of food in front of me, or lusting after the plate of food that someone else has yet to finish, or I'm just being moody, or maybe I haven't had more than 2 hrs sleep in a row for about 4 days. I always have at least 2 excuses ready for being a jerk. It's easier than not being a jerk, after all.But, as usual, I digress. My point was the question, "How did you[tedious morons] meet?" The truth, of course, is boring. This is the nature of boring suburbanites of middle age and nondescript character. I realize this. I hate this. However, it gives me a rare opportunity. As a person without a speck of creativity, and dull in my very essence, I am particularly able to lie. No one expects me to have the imagination necessary for untruth, and my unexpressive (like Botox, one person has commented) face gives nothing away, so I can answer my favorite question however I like, and get away with it shockingly often, considering the answers: -We tied for first at a pie-eating contest at the county fair. -I was the "dummy" in her self-defense class. -She won me in a poker game. My Dad has a "tell." -I was left behind, along with some cleaning supplies, a wardrobe that wouldn't fit through the door, and a small rug, when my previous girlfriend moved out of her apartment. -(can't use this one, because we gave it to another couple) We were extras on the same zombie movie. -Third Nipple support group. -Forced to marry by Kaiser Soze. -Our marriage was a political necessity - it was just barely able to prevent all-out war between Bermuda and Nova Scotia, who are still peaceful if bitter rivals to this very day. -and so forth.I love doing that to people. It works best when people are just a little too afraid to offend us by saying "You are completely full of shit." The occasional person truly believes, especially the pie one, for some reason. I guess it helps that I (a) am gigantically fat, and (b) am fairly vocal about the fact that women who are afraid to eat/are perpetually dieting/whine about weight in general, are a total drag. Let them hang out with the skinny guys, I say, I don't need that crap. My wife keeps a normal size by worrying, or through a pact with the devil, or something, I don't really understand it, but whatever it is, I am thankful that I don't need to hear about it.Am I digressing again? Did I mention that a good Cabernet/Shiraz blend makes coherent writing and linear thought as tricky as driving and operating heavy machinery? What the hell do the cats want? They have fresh water, and have had 3 cans of food already today. I bet they want the air conditioning on. Fur just sucks in this hot and muggy weather.Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, I didn't meet my wife while I worked the ticket line at the Dragon Coaster, having an argument about how being "this tall to ride this ride" cannot include 4-inch heels, because she isn't short. That's my sister, and I met her because she moved in when I was 4, and cried a lot. Tough to miss that. The boring truth about how I met my wife is that we lived 25 feet from each other during our freshman year of college, and shared a coed bathroom. We met during the first moments of orientation, when our hallway (the 2-5 side of Clara Dickson Hall, for all you Cornellians out there) had a mini-orientation. Yup, we met out of a shared desire for a single room on North Campus (the boring people's side, for all you non-Cornellians out there).More interesting than how we met is the story of how a guy like me landed a woman like her. We didn't date for over 2 years, but we ate out together at least once per week, which was rare for that school - it's a big university in the middle of nowhere. I think there were 2 pivotal moments. The first was at that mini-orientation. Instead of the worn-out toilet paper trick or any of the other standards, we needed to tell the group what our shoes had done the previous summer. I don't remember exactly what my Sainted Wife said at the time, but I think it had something to do with the trip she and her Godawful Mother (did I mention that Sainted Wife doesn't read the blog? Where's that wine?) took to Europe. Yeah, she's totally out of my league. I know. My answer was that the shoes had been kicking overpriveleged children. I was a counselor at a day camp that summer, you see, in the suburbs north of New York City. I cannot even begin to explain that culture. [Shudder]. The next moment came not that long afterward, when she and a bunch of her friends were piled on a bed in another dorm, clothed if you believe her version and just being young and obnoxious, and one of them decided they had to call someone to celebrate the moment. I came up, apparently as someone likely to be in his dorm room on a Friday night. Sigh. They called me, and asked "Why does Teflon stick to the pan?" As a person who virtually never knows what's going on around him, or what anyone's name is no matter how long I've known them, or directions to anywhere (have I mentioned my sense of direction? Lost on the way to the bathroom in my own home, etc?) I came up with a rapid and straight-faced/ straight-voiced answer: Love. Now, some of you will remember that the Simpsons used "love" as the answer the computer gave the town scientist when it was asked for the secret ingredient for the Flaming Mo, but I was fortunate in that I was not talking to people who squandered their youths (youth? collective youth? I need an editor) watching FOX, so I burned myself into the memory of Sainted Wife, and after a few failed relationships with cooler guys than me, I got her. Go me. I'm going to go finish that wine and spin in circles like a demented dog at bedtime, trying to pat myself on the back. This entry is wicked long.Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,Livingjetlag
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Your Opinions Matter to Us!
This sign was seen on the back of a truck northbound on I-95, covered in grime, and smallish, way up at the top of the rear door:How's my driving? To report unsafe, illegal, or discourteous driving, call Passive Aggressive Van Lines at 1-800-642-3879* extension 56737 and ask for William W. Johnson (not William H Johnson!) or Loretta Keane, Monday through Friday, 9AM - 3PM Central Time, excluding holidays. The number of this truck is K3547MH17-A445. Oh, and by the way, if you talk to William, speak up, he's a bit deaf. Have a nice day!* Check your phone's keypad - see it? The number spells out 1-800- nicetry and the extension is "loser". As always, I have entertained myself immensely. From all of us at Livingjetlag Intergalactic Headquarters, Happy Various Parents' Days and Memorial Day Season. Stay cool (and groovy).Your Humblest and Most Devoted Servant,Livingjetlag
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Why the French really hate Americans
I was looking at a highly educational Fast Food For Children Bundled Foodproducts bag today, and was reminded that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French in 1886 to celebrate our centennial. Never mind that the picture was actually of a product-placed koala bear, who crushes his testicles by falling onto a fence, which my 7-year old daughter thinks is the funniest thing ever. Well, maybe not "never mind," I may actually have to come back to that.
"AHA!" I thought. Maybe it isn't mangling their language, or competing a little too successfuly in winemaking, cycling, mushroom production, moviemaking, warmongering, sex, and cheese production that has them so angry. Maybe it's something simpler. Maybe the French were expecting a nice gift in return, for their centennial a few years later. Consider the timing. We rather boldly consider our independence to begin with the Declaration in July of '76. One could certainly argue that independence didn't really begin until we had won it in October of '83, or could further argue that we can't really begin counting until we had a successful government, in '89. However you count (and I favor starting with the British surrender at Yorktown, but even my family doesn't listen to me, and besides, October already has cool holidays...), the French were probably a tad late with their gift, and you could argue that they didn't really think of it until, like the day before, or possibly, until they started thinking about their own centennial, which reminded them of ours. Then they realized a gift exchange would be in order.
The joke was on them, however, because they gave us this really cool shiny copper lady, a blazing beacon to the world. It was a great thing. We love it, to this day. It has become one of the central images of our nation, right up their with our flag. Not that we took care of it, mind you. We let it rust rather pitifully. She wasn't meant to get all green and look like the Statue of Martian Liberty. We probably should have bought a 100-meter square polishing cloth or something. Anyway, the years went by, and I assume the President or the Secretary of State or someone sent a nice thank-you note, but no return gift ever arrived off the coast of France. How rude. I mean, this is like you getting married, and your brother buys you a new car, and then a few years later he gets married and you say "Congrats, Bro!" and clap him on the back and get him absolutely diddly-squat nothing, even though you go to his wedding and get drunk and eat a ton of food and stuff, and you are in a better position to afford a really nice gift than he really was.
Yeah, maybe France is a little bitter. We should get them something nice. Hey, whatever happened to that big Saddam Hussein statue we knocked over a few years ago? Maybe we can refurbish it to look like DeGaulle or something...
Your humblest and most devoted servant,
Friday, April 07, 2006
The Almighty Does Not Want You to Ride a Bicycle
Hello. I'm back. Not from anywhere, mind you, I just haven't been motivated to do anything more mindful than read "American Gods" and play Pop & Drop lately. I get little bursts of spring fever, just like everyone else. The rain smells different now, and there was the ozony smell of lighting at one point last week, and at one point there was even - GASP - SUNSHINE! So, in between bouts of the glorious (Parental Advisory - explicit lyrics!) intestinal thing that seems to be going around and having everyone cramping and puking and shitting their collective brains out, I took out my bicycle. Here is how I found out that the current Bicycle Terror Alert Level is:
ERNIETaking out the bicycle was my first mistake. Trying to exercise is an obvious sign of spring fever, or potentially an even more serious mental illness (for me, anyway). It's like trying to talk to a pretty girl, or thinking it would be neat to take a course in something musical or artistic that requires patience, talent, confidence, and/or self-discipline. It can only end in disaster. It is important not to lose sight of oneself. Sure, you can attempt to round out your skills, try a new thing, I'm just saying not to make any life-altering decisions under the influence of the first decent weather in 6 months, or under the influence of mind-expanding drugs.So there I was, perched as precariously as ever on this poor, innocent piece of aluminum, with neither of us having the benefit of shocks except for the crummy little thing they put in the seatpost (which, face it, is not designed for a guy in the Hundred-Kilo-Club, and is already maxed out from the moment I sit down), everything lubed, tires properly inflated, etc. Aside from being a hippo (the racing world stops at "clydesdale," meaning more than about 190 lb, I think, but I must be realistic...) OK, gotta digress, here, sorry.Note to self: future project:Keep track of how much wine or beer went into the composition of each blog entry. That's the X axis. For each entry, count the pairs of parentheses. That's the Y axis. Remember that parentheses and hifins (sorry, Blogger don't spellcheck - Ooh, more parentheses, and a hifin! Did I mention that tonight's Shiraz, a product of Australia, is 13.5% alcohol by volume? Where was I? Dang.)The nice thing about trains of thought is that if you lose one, you can just wait for the next one, up until about 1 am, anyway.So last week, I was innocently pedaling my sorry butt down Warren Rd in Waltham, a nice little road that was repaved within this century but which has an unfortunate tendency to attract nails for some godforsaken reason, and a bug flew into my eye. OK, so I'm breaking my "no bugs" rule here, get over it. Now, I know I wasn't going that fast, because I hadn't fallen off a cliff or anything, but the little bastard wedged himself deep under my eyelid, and I couldn't get him out of there. Eventually, after blinking and shaking my head and muttering and swearing and rubbing and jumping up and down and other unhelpful maneuvers, the sensation of ENORMOUS FOREIGN OBJECT went away, and I went to work. OK. I was only moderately freaked out. Then, about 5 hours later (not exaggerating here) I found myself in the bathroom, and there was this black thing in the corner of my eye, by my nose. There he was, the little bastard! I managed to get him out of there - at least I hope there isn't a stray antenna left in or anything - and it was probably already dead, but I can't help but remember the story in the always-reliable Weekly World News about the child in India who had an entire ant colony living in his head, which came and went through his eye. There is a tube that leads from the nose-side corner of each eye down into the nasal cavity, which is why crying makes us need to blow our noses, so there is definitely a nice, warm place to lay a few gazillion eggs, if you're a bug. Needless to say, I am quite creeped out. I think my wife will have to see "Slither" with her co-workers, instead of me. I don't think I could handle it.Really, though, with my attention focused on the impossible task of trying to dodge semi-visible insects during my ride yesterday, the bicycle's 1.125 inch wide tires naturally managed to find a nail in the road on route 27. How does that happen? Are there really that many nails in the road? I've hit nails before. Did I miss America's newest holiday, "Throw nails out your car window week?" Or do the cigarrettes that assholes routinely throw out of car windows eventually turn into rusty nails somehow? I'm baffled. It's not like the shoulders of the road are littered with construction debris; there's just random nails. Glass comes from cars and thrown bottles, sand is put on the roads in winter, trash is everywhere because of diffusion, and nails... I just don't get the #$%^ nails at all. Divine intervention, maybe. Whatever the cause, the current bicycle terror alert level is, as stated above, ERNIE. So now I have to either patch or change another bike tube, which happens a lot when you are too heavy for your bike, nails or no. I'll get to it right after this next game of Chuzzle...Your humblest and most devoted servant,Livingjetlag