Archive for November, 2008



08
Nov
08

When Ya Gotta Go

Few things in life can cause as much self-inflicted trauma as the porta potty. We take for granted the concept of running water and its magical abilities to take our bodily effluent and aroma… away. We view the porta potty with trepidation. Our body feels the urgency that only relief can diminish. Our brain thinks “Hold on there! There’s a cauldron of crap and piss in there and you wanna go inside?!” Quite the dilemma. It usually gets worse because the thoughtful folks who put the units in place invariably place them on top of sloppy mud. The mud, although benign, becomes a symbol of actual human excrement in the mind’s eye, thus creating even more mental trauma. That it gets tracked into each of the porta potties makes it even worse.

There are various approaches. I’ve watched otherwise dignified men declare that they will just hold it for the next few hours until they can get to a “real” toilet. Pained walk, wincing, and moaning become the order of the day. Others seek to minimize the sensory assault by stuffing their mouths with strong mints and getting in and out as quickly as possible. I suppose that works to a degree. While nothing can truly make up for the modern equivalent of a stagnant hole in the ground, I do have a method. At some point in my life I realized that women are a bit more fastidious in their toilet maneuvers than their male counterparts. Women grip about men for good reason. We don’t aim carefully and we are always of the mindset that somebody will clean up after us (gross as that may be). Women, OTOH, have standards with regard to what must be done before they will exercise their bodily functions. Cleanliness is right up there. Sure, there may be a “hover” involved, but that crapper is gonna be as clean as possible before she uses it. That means a woman is going to spend a little time in choosing which crapper is the best candidate, even if it means a delay in relief. She’s then going to spend a little time at least wiping things down and tidying up. Some even have a bottle of hand sanitizer in their purses and will actually apply the stuff liberally in an attempt to make the potty somewhat tolerable. I watch for this.

I wait until the fastidious female makes her selection. I wait until she completes her toilet. And then I use the one she just vacated (Lord help the deluded fool who tries to cut in front of me). I figure it’s my absolute best shot at the least amount of ick.

08
Nov
08

The Cat 4 Dove

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Good morning. It’s November 8, 2008. There’s blizzards in the Dakotas and… a category 4 hurricane bearing down on Cuba. Cuba has been getting pounded by tropical storms this year like the US economy has been battered during the same time. Perhaps President-elect Obama can offer some change?

06
Nov
08

Attack Of The HT

The Homesick Texan has done it again! I’m getting some salt pork and pintos and making up a huge pot for the weekend.

05
Nov
08

Hail To The Chief

America has received exactly what it said it wanted: change. And change has been wrought in historic, impressive and conclusive fashion. We have resolutely elected a not white man to run this country and be the defacto leader of the free world. It’s impressive. Now what should we expect?

Lots of folks have been making dire predictions about this that and the other thing, depending on who got elected. I doubt that most of those things are going to come true. Here’s why: there are no more leaders. There are only appeasers. Builders of consensus whose sole missions are to herd cats and get re-elected. For this entire campaign we have heard nothing but “reach across the aisle” and “begin a dialogue” and “agree on change”. That’s not leadership, it’s management. I think we just elected a manager. Make no mistake, it has been decades since we had a leader in the White House. And because of that no one man, not Clinton, not Bush, not Obama… is capable of fixing the woes of America and the world. The Deomcrat solution to fixing the ills will be as effective as the bi-partisan approach, as effective as the Republican approach. It will not work. And America will discover that they have no patience for anything other than a quick fix. If Obama doesn’t whip this thing into shape post haste, he’ll be gone in four years and the country will try on another prom dress.

This country was not founded on the concept of government being the font of all activity and the regulator of all wealth. But that is what the country voted for yesterday. I voted. I can complain. Congratulations to the new President. I hope that he has the courage to lead.

04
Nov
08

Illegal Freebies

You’d think that it would be cool, even patriotic, for US retail merchants to offer freebies to folks who show up with an “I Voted!” sticker. Not so fast. The gubbermint thinks it is quite possibly illegal. Sheesh.

04
Nov
08

An Auspicious Beginning

There will almost certainly be a lot of firsts that occur in this election. Unfortunately, voter intimidation isn’t new. It’s still sad, just not new.

04
Nov
08

Feeling Good Five

Everyone is uptight today. The economy, the election, the hurricane, the football team… whatever. I’m firmly convinced that it’s because folks do not take the time to take care of themselves. Feeling good is something that you can do for yourself. You can spend lots of money or revel in the most basic, simple pleasures of life. Actually taking the time to do something good for yourself can be a huge problem for many because they just do not know how to relax. Or feel guilty doing it. Here’s a list of favorites. I’m probably going to turn it into a meme just because it may help some of you get some ideas…

  • The full spa package. I’ve got to have “all you can eat” access to the sauna, steam room, whirlpool and cold plunge. This gets followed up with the full hour of deep-tissue massage. If I do not feel like and look like a strand of al dente’ linguini, it’s not been done right.
  • Sleeping with an infant (preferably yours!) on your chest. Both of my kids are way past this size and I would almost certainly get a visit from Childrens Services for having a teenager sleeping on my chest, but I can conjure this memory in my mind at the drop of a hat and smile.
  • Rote activity. I don’t knit, but I get it. It’s a repetitive task that allows the mind to detach and recharge. For me, it can be gardening or linking ammo or whatever. I just immerse myself in the activity.
  • Baking. Let’s be clear: Baking is not cooking. It’s assembling according to a formula. If you ruin what you baked, it’s because you did not follow instructions. But baking is wonderful. You surrender control to those instructions and just do it. Hopefully, you’ll make a little mess and then your kitchen will become redolent with baking yumminess. And then you eat it.
  • Getting a good report from the doctor. A lot of us have some kind of medical issue (or a few). Getting a good report is… good news! Whether it is the dentist telling you your teeth are great or your doctor telling you that your blood pressure meds are working… Let the good news be just that.
03
Nov
08

Vote With Your Gut

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to spend some time with a young man who had as much hyper energy as I do. He is also about eight feet tall, 280 something pounds, drinks a half gallon of milk each day, has a sardonic sense of humor and actually enjoys life. He also has the good fortune to be working in Macon, Georgia for two of the finest folks you would ever have the opportunity to know, but I digress.

This bear of a man drinks in life by the Big Gulp. And he has definite opinions on food and eating out (loves both). But he is also adamant in his belief that casual dining is killing America. Casual dining as in places like TGI Fridays, Applebys, Cheddars, etc. His contention is that the food is overpriced crap. He practically screams at you when he tells you there are so many wonderful little places serving fantastic food made with love and fantastic ingredients that are utterly drowning for lack of business. How can you go to a Bennigans and order the same jalapeno poppers that are served straight from the freezer at every chain in the universe when there is a family made, authentic stuffed poblano with Cotija and Queso Blanco served the next block over for less? He’s right.

There’s not enough “flair” on their uniforms, not enough perky in their door whores, not enough combo in their pairings to make up for the fact that we go to those places, not for good food, but because we are lazy. Olive Garden? Please. Iceburg lettuce and Wishbone Italian dressing followed by over-bolied pasta drowned in sauce. You can do that at home. You aren’t saving any money by patronizing casual dining and you aren’t doing your stomach any favors. Dining out should be a special occasion. That means great food or great service. And great service is defined, by me, as a spectacular, orchestrated event where the entire staff works together to make you feel like you are the most important guest. “Hi, I’m Christopher and I’ll be your server this evening. Can I start you off with some fried balls of over-breaded chicken and one of our obnoxious signature cocktails?” Umm, no. Find a place that is infused with love and that gives a good golly about the food they serve. If somebody comes out from the kitchen (and in a good place, somebody will), make sure that they have some stains on their uniform (it means they actually work in the kitchen). When they ask how your meal was, tell him/her exactly what you enjoyed and why. You’ll be back.

A little story… A few years ago I was staying with friends in the Myrtle Beach area. We went to Fridays because we were lazy. But most of the time, we cooked. We had some of the best meals by creating it ourselves. It had nothing to do with expense, it had to do with care. We wanted burgers, so we got fresh ground sirloin and made patties that were stuffed with blue cheese, grilled until just done and topped with thick bacon slices and barbecue sauce. Forget about the fact that Fridays would not even think about serving you a burger that wasn’t incinerated to leather… they’ll have an apoplectic fit for ordering something that complex off the menu (but it will drown in Jack Daniels sauce).

So I am voting with my gut. I’m gonna try to not set foot in a casual dining establishment for the rest of the year and then push it as far as I can into the next.

02
Nov
08

Money Is The Lubricant

The government of Libya was responsible for a 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, and for a Berlin disco bombing that killed two Americans and hurt 50 others. That started decades of retaliation and snubbing of the African/Muslim country. The United States said Friday it has received 1.5 billion dollars from Libya, the entire sum required under a major deal to compensate the families of victims of terrorist attacks. On August 14, Libya and the United States signed the compensation deal in Tripoli for victims of Libyan attacks and Libyan victims of US reprisals, paving the way for full normalization of ties between the two countries. Under the deal, a US-Libyan fund of 1.8 billion dollars was set up with “voluntary” contributions from firms and other sources — with some 1.5 billion dollars for Americans and 300 million dollars for Libyan victims of US attacks.

Libya has been inching its way back on to the world stage and is diligently trying to paint itself as a “team player”. The United States announced a full normalization of ties, dropping Libya from a State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism and raising diplomatic relations to the level of ambassadors, as well as halting all pending US court action.

That works out to a little more than $5.5 million per death. In slightly different terms, it works out to around $500 per day, per person, since the events took place. Is that the current price of life, of being recognized as a civilized nation? What’s the current tab for 9/11 and who should pick up the check? By my back of the hand calculation, it’s nearly $4 billion. Let us say that we hold all of OPEC responsible for the attack (dem Arabs don’t like us much, anyway, right?). We (the US) import about 6 million barrels of oil a day from OPEC. At a current price of about $68 per barrel, that works out to a little more than $400 million a day. Think we could get a 10 day payment credit to cover the lives of those killed?

02
Nov
08

Calming Tasks

Yesterday sucked. Biggie. Money that had been designated for specific purchases had to be re-assigned. A few months back I enjoyed the dubious honor of encountering roots and white mice in the sewer line. The speedy plumber that I had hired at a reasonable price was nowhere to be found when we began to encounter the same back up. This time, I raced outside and got the cap off of the clean out plug before my floors got nailed again. New company came out and determined that the previous company had only rootered the first few feet of sewer line. It is now rootered all the way to the main (for $300), but needs to be replaced (think in the several $1,000 range). Wife picked up a nail the size of a railroad spike in one of my tires. She waits three hours to have the repair folks not be able to figure out how to remove the spare. They wind up plugging the damaged tire (which is what I wanted them to do in the first place) and giving me an estimate for 4 new tires. I know it’s time for new tires on the Trailblazer. But I also need to have the ball joints replaced on it. So there’s a $1,000+ bill coming up. The other “paid for” car needs two new tires because, well, a teenager is driving it. It needs them now. There’s $300. We still need a new oven/range combo ($800) and a new dishwasher ($700). My old merchant account service for my business is still taking money from my account for a service that they no longer provide. My oldest daughter spent $350 on hair and make up, $400 on a dress and $100 on a mum to go to homecoming dance last night with her last minute substitution swim team friend (both of them had been through traumatic, dramatic breakups with their original respective dates). At least in the case of my daughter, the date’s name was actually the same so some of the mum material could be recycled.

Rather than scream or pound my fists through sheetrock walls, I sat in a lawn chair in my front yard. I had recently taken delivery of many thousands of M27 ammunition links. And I had many thousands of rounds of ammo that was loose packed in ammo cans. I donned some latex gloves and proceeded to link up a metric buttload of prepared ammo. The neighbors became suitably curious as to what I was doing. Most of them got a little wide eyed when they saw the ammo belts. I may have exacerbated the situation when I would give random responses such as “to prepare for peace, you must prepare for war”, “there’s an election on Tuesday and I need to get ready”, “Jehova’s witnesses…”, etc.

There’s an old beater VW microbus at the shooting range that I belong to that folks have been taking shots at for a long time. I’m gonna tape a dollar bill to it and see how the thing fares against steel core penetrator ammunition…




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