Friday, December 14, 2012

I Got Your Cup of Cheer Right Here

And I spiced it with cinnamon and nutmeg!

In ages past, I hated Christmas.  The Shopping Season emphasized everything about my culture that I absolutely despised, with the added feelings on intense disappointment in my family when they didn't give me what I requested.*  I remember a December when I received exactly nothing on my list, and I thought my family was a bunch of jerks who thought they knew better than me.  I was thirteen or something, so just about anyone other than my brother did know better than me, but that didn't stop my from being an angry little snotrag about it.

I abandoned this feeling of disappointment a few years later for a whole new feeling of disappointment in humanity as expressed in American media.  This feeling was only intensified by being unable to buy anything for the people I wanted to give stuff.  I was in boarding school and then college, and any money I made during the summer didn't last longer than my short-sighted budget.  The only gift that I bought that I still remember and feel somewhat good about was a special mug I bought for my dad when I was a sophomore.**

I wanted to be happier during this time, because I like my family, for the most part.  I like visiting them, and we have fun together, despite my brother's attempts to ruin everything with plans.  I found it hard to be cheerful when I was bombarded with scenes of utter assholery in malls and on television.  Basically, I was angry because Christmas was a constant reminder of how I wasn't a kid anymore.  I couldn't just sit in a pile of wrapping paper and experience sheer joy anymore.  The world was sitting on my head, just crapping all  over any fun I might have had.

Something changed in 2008.  No, not something, someone.  I was trying to win back a woman I had wronged, and I had this idea, inspired by Gene Hackman in Heist, that if I wanted to be a better version of me, maybe I could just fake it.  I'm a pretty good liar on a bad day, so I thought maybe I would change the way I lie to myself.  Maybe if I pretend to be a better person, I'll eventually be that better person, and I won't have to keep pretending.  I'm not 100% there yet, but I'm not pretending anymore.

Part of this whole thing was that I realized that I was over Christmas.  If other people want to run around and be assholes to each other in malls and parking lots, so be it.  I'm just gonna make cookies, not send them to my friends, and eat the hell out of them.***  I'll invite my friends over for rum drinks, cookies, pie, and the Star Wars Holiday Special.  I'll try to find one or two small, meaningful, little gifts for my people.  Or maybe I'll make something to give.

The short of this is that I can also enjoy holiday music again.  This is much easier when i am not out in the world, but even when I am in the world, I just tune it out.  I just play Mahna Mahna on constant loop in the jukebox of my subconscious, and I move through the world.  I could have written a much shorter version of this post by just typing, OMG HOLIDAY MUSIC MASH-UPS HERE!!!1111!!1!!

*  There's a paradox somewhere in there that a kid might miss for a few years.
**  Much like a certain lamp, I'm pretty sure my mother introduced this mug to Mr. Baseballbat, and Mr. Backyard.
***  One of these years, I'm gonna mail some cookies to some friends, and those friends will be so frigging impressed.  Some jokes aren't worth it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Who am I? 1

One of the high schools I attended required incoming freshpersons to write a paper titled "Who am I?"  These papers were fairly big deals for the kids, and a source of much stress.  Every year, there were rumors of kids trying to photocopy their student I.D. cards and turn them as a clever meta-essay, but none of these rumors were ever confirmed by me.*

These papers were then read by the student at the end of their four years at the school.  I guess the goal was a forced existential examination, but given the vast gulf between the person I was in my senior year of high school and the person I was in the fall of my first year of college, I can't imagine that this would have been particularly fruitful for the students. 

Since I started attending this school with my sophomore year, I did not write one of these papers.  I have plenty of written paragraphs that can only really be described as journal entries from the last fourteen years, a great many of which are thoroughly public as blog posts.  Leafing through them traces a character arc that I doubt is unique among the lives of American consumers aged 18-35.  Looking back at my various journals, paper or digital, is a great way to remind myself that while I may be unemployed, at least I am not as much of a chundernozzle as I used to be. 

Who am I?:  I make two u-turns and hold up traffic on a one lane road to move a turtle off that road.

* I never cared enough to even begin the process of asking my advisor about the grading process for these papers.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Daily Caller Will Never Become "the Conservative Huffington Post"

"In his new book, “The KinderGarden of Eden: How The Modern Liberal Things And Why He’s Convinced That Ignorance Is Bliss,” Sayet strays from the humorous to explore why what he calls “Modern Liberals” support the policies they do."
"Explain the title, 'The KiderGarden of Eden.'"

So I was flipping some news on Yahoo, I think, and I saw a link to this Daily Caller piece.  The Daily Caller is usually good for a laugh because of frequent copy editing errors.  Every time I see one, I laugh at The Great Orange One's attempt to start a conservative version of the Huffington Post.  Maybe if you could frame your worldview in some way that wasn't a conservative version of someone else's work, you might succeed someday, Tuckbag.  Maybe if right wing cobags had some imagination, they might criticize Obama about something real instead of "He's so well respected and I don't like that! Waaaaaah!"

The article claims that Evan Thomas of Newsweek said that Obama is a god, but there is no link to back this up.  In fact, the only links in the article are from those Ad Choices auto-links.  This is just lazy, lazy reporting.  There is no attempt to fabricate even the smallest shred of journalistic integrity. 

The whole article fails to mention that Saturday Night Live has been making fun of Obama nearly every week, but I suppose they are too cool for SNL.  I think SNL has gotten much better lately. A search for Obama parody returns a wealth of hits, but I will admit that I have not investigated the political opinions of the people involved with those hits.  They could all be conservative, but I think can safely that this isn't the case because Key and Peele are on the first page of hits.

I took a screenshot to preserve these failures for posteriority.  That is not a typo, that is term that means we will all be wiping our butts with rags like the Daily Caller after the Whateveralypse.

Exactly the Kind of Robot I Want

This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with my desire for pets of unusual cuddle-less-ness, but if someone were to buy me a robotic companion, I would want a tarantulabot friend.  We would hang out all day.

My daily task calendar just reminded me that I am a couple years late on Tarantula Tuesday posts. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

VW: 2, Me: 1

Every time I drive both of my parents anywhere, I make a mistake.  In 1998, I took over driving so they could both nap in the backseat, and was stopped for speeding as soon as my parents fell asleep.  79 in a 65 in rural New York.  Were we driving on I-90 toward Chicago, I would be in the right lane and most of the other cars would be passing me.

In September, we were on our way to my niece's birthday party and stopped to buy a cake.  The parking lot was the first floor of the grocery store, and it had almost pristine, white support columns.  I made some poor estimations of distance and crunched the passenger side mirror housing.  The mirror itself popped right out of the housing, and was fairly well obliterated.  The housing was basically fine.  I thought about gluing a cheap plexiglass mirror onto the cracked mirror, and then popping that mess back in until we could get a real mirror.  I was overruled.

Our annual inspection is due tomorrow, so of course I spent most of the day driving out to a salvage yard that had a compatible mirror.  It was a nice day, so I got to enjoy some scenery on the old state roads up to the yard.  Two hours and $70 later, I was on my home.

I took a quick look online for instructions, remembering the only previous time I have tried home auto repair and that mess.  I found some helpful pictures at VWVortex, and then proceeded desconstructing my car's door.
In progress, the mirror is wired.
Hey!  Look at that!  The panel actually fit back on!
Yeah, the green of the new mirror housing doesn't quite match the rest of the car.

The door is a little scratched up around the handle, and most of the stupidstupidstupidirritatingstupid tabs that are supposed to "just pop right off" are broken, but the speakers work, the window rolls up and down, and the mirror moved with the joystick.  Or it did, until the joystick snapped off while I was carefully adjusting the mirror.

Frakking cobag joystick.

Updated on Friday, November 1, 2012: Technically, the score could be said to be 3 to 2 in VW's favor, since the keyfob battery died about this time last year.  I was able to replace this about a month ago.

In adding insult to injury news: to pass the annual inspection, the car needs new tires, rear brake pads, some flim flams on the woozle wazzle, the right-hand samoflange has sheared from the dimensional moorings, the alluvial calibrators need new dampeners, the inertial compensators have decompensated, and seven of the valves were found to be on backwards.

Let's call it 4 to 2 for VW, but the game is not yet over.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I Still Have Hope for Videogames

I thoroughly enjoyed Fallout: New Vegas, and regularly enjoyed Fallout 3.  This article explains just one aspect of why I think New Vegas was the far superior of the two.  I hold on to my hope, as does the tediously metaphorical man dangling from a tediously metaphorical cliff by a tediously metaphysical root, that Bethesda Softworks learned from Obsidian's success while working on the much rumored Fallout 4.

Maybe someday I will finish that article I am working on about how to make a great Fallout Online.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunkering Down

Hurricane Sandy is apparently aimed straight at New Jersey, obviously proving without a doubt that God is angry with Republicans, but Lady Chemistry and I are snug as bugs in a rug, who shouldn't be all that snug because rugs get stepped on.  So we are snugger than the aforementioned bugs.

I cleaned up the yard yesterday to minimize any missiles, taking the yard chairs to the barn, dragged the logs from the broken birdhouse and broken clothesline to the brush pile, and put our grills in the garage.  As long as the barn or garage isn't obliterated, we should be fine.  Well, there is the giant pile of house trash leftover from our neighbor's move, but hopefully that won't be launch in our direction.  And there are the dead branches in the maple tree that might hit a window if they fall, but we've got renter's insurance, and I warned our landlords about them twice in the last two months.  I can't do anything about the new leak in the roof by the kitchen chimney, but our landlord decided he wanted to wait until the first of November to have someone take a look at that.  That was a week ago that I warned him, and I hadn't heard of the hurricane either.

We've got plenty of wood cut for heating the house anyway, so if we lose power for days, we can still cook.  Our power was up and down last night, but seem fine today.  Right now, we're getting torrential rain with strong breezes, but by tonight things could be different.  We are in the peidmont, so I think we are far enough inland, and south, that we won't see much worse

Should this turn storm return Virginia to a libertarian post-apocalyptic paradise, I have an 80-pound hunting bow, and I know how to use it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Simpsons Did It! Simpsons Did It!

The Koch brothers have pulled a Sweetums.  This is a bullshit scare tactic.  All they are trying to do is convince a few thousand of their employees to avoid voting for Obama, or voting at all.  The implications in actions like this should enrage everyone in America, regardless of political affiliation, because this is a direct threat against out freedoms, and the democratic process. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An Assignment for the Amateur Photographers of L.A., of Whom I Know None

I was listening to NPR this morning while driving Lady Chemistry to work, in part because I like NPR most of the time, but also because our options are Jee-ZUHUS, country music, gawd, a cackling hyena's morning show, Jee-ZUHUS, what passes for hip-hop these days, Jee-ZUHUS, Jee-ZUHUS, and more Jee-ZUHUS.  Since we have no working radio at home, and can't stream radio without burning through our ridiculous cellular internet too fast, I can only listen to NPR in the car.  While I enjoy this, it tends to put Lady Chemistry to sleep.  This effect is not always beneficial.

Aside from the political reporting, the items which interested me were all in Space!, or Space! related.*  As we all know, everything is better in space, or better once related to Space!.  The space shuttle Endeavour is moving to the California Science Center, and will be cruising around posing for photographs, like the other shuttles have. The shuttle will be driven through the museum's neighboring urban areas at one mile per hour because the shuttle is both enormously big, and enormously fragile.  Or so the shuttle claims, I think this is just another shameless attention grab.  This trip will provide flickr and Instagram users ample opportunity to take all sorts of semi-artsy pictures of Endeavour passing Starbucks and McDonald's symbolizing two visions of American success, and probably also the opportunity to take all sorts of semi-artsy pictures of Endeavour passing empty stores and other available real estate symbolizing the end of the shuttle program and the twilight of America's economic hegemony.  Internets, hear my call!  People with photoshop skills, your assignments are in the mail.  Instagram users, start filtering your bad photos now!  flickr users, start doing whatever it is you do with those camera-thingies that don't make phone calls or send texts.  Get on this.

The other bit about space was slightly more musical, and just enough to make me smile.  NASA apparently shot some probes into near space to do some science, including recording the sounds made when charged particles impact our home's magnetic field.  If you can't listen to it where you are,*** imagine the sound of a spring evening in the boonies.  The peepers are chirping, a few crickets are peeping, and the raccoons haven't yet found your trash.

This bit reminded me of a previous thing I found on the internet, a live stream of sound derived from the information recorded by radio telescopes.  I haven't found the original website with the stream, which I listened to in 2008 or '09 on my brother's computer, and my craptacular internet won't let me stream this site either.  The music that results from the interpretation of radiation into audio is atmospheric.****  I have seen a lot of bands that come close to sounding like they are a planet, spinning in infinity and deflecting particles with a magnetic field, but nothing quite comes close.  Maybe a Phillip Glass score, if you were physically able to make through one.

* This post could also have been titled "The Less Ragey Post of the Two I Wrote in My Head While Driving, Because Politics."

** In a related note, every single time I tried to type shuttle in this post, I first typed shittle, including the one in this sentence.  I guess I remain unadjusted to this keyboard, or have fallen out of my habit of typing, or have some unconscious dislike of the shuttle program.  I just did it again, how odd.

*** I know no one reads this anymore, but I like to pretend, so play along.  You might even be wondering who is the intended audience of this note, if I don't believe I have any readers anymore.  In answer, I say-WHAT'S THAT OVER THERE! and then run away.

**** This is a bad pun for so many reasons.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Yelling Bird VS Res Publica

Wherever Res Publica is blogging now, Yelling Bird is screaming it shorter, and harder.

And what is with that woman on NPR I heard a few days ago?  "I don't like Obama.  I hate him.  I can't even look at him."  She can't even look at Obama?  How could anyone interview that person without then asking them how it feels to be a bigot?  If you can't even look at someone because of their appearance, you need to reevaluate your, ahem, principles.  I am against everything Mitt Romney says he stands for, but I don't hate him.  I think Paul Ryan is giant prank being pulled on the Tea Party and everyone who has ever claimed to be Libertarian, but I don't hate him.  I don't even know if I am capable of hate anymore.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

To Be Added to the List of Super Gross People: Grocery Bathroom Guy

I was recently in a grocery and store, and I decided to use the bathroom while Lady Chemistry was looking at some items.  There was a guy using the other urinal when I walked in, and I walked over to the other urinal.  As I am unzipping, the dude finishes, flushes, and strolls out.  I glanced at the door, and then the sinks.  He cruised right past Go, did not collect his $200, did not wash his hands, and went out into the store.  A grocery store.  Which has food.  Which he may have touched.  With hands that were just shaking his pee pee.

How do I know he shook his pee pee, you might be asking yourself.  He did that lean back and shoulder shake thing that means he was shaking his wiener and flinging the last drops of urine everywhere, including, most probably, his hands and pants.

Mister Pee Pee Hands, you win.  I officially hate Virginia again.  Thanks for ruining the small pleasures I had cultivated in this formerly mediocre state. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jumping the Fence Between Universes

I went for a walk in my neighborhood today, I thought it might be nice to meet more of the neighbors.  First, I checked on my garden, down the hill, past the barn.  I pulled a few weeds, decided to wait on picking the orange tomatoes.  The pepper plants seem to be doing well, the jalapenos are growing back after their savaging by some unknown critter.  The cucumber still looks sickly with yellow leaves, but maybe that is normal.  The sole cucumber on the vine grows a little each day.  The eggplant may even make a full recovery for the third time, and possibly even produce some fruit.  My vine beans are attempting to reach the bottom rung for the third time, but I doubt they will produce anything before being eaten by whatever has been gnawing them to nubs.  My bush beans are steadily growing, and continue to resist the devastation visited upon their vine brethren.  Not much for me to do.

I thought about jogging up to the road and back a few times, but the weather was so nice, temperature in the low 80s, humidity below 40%.  I decided to find that pond I have seen on Google Earth, so I hopped the fence and strode out into the pasture.  I kept an eye out for cows, and their leavings.  I was mostly worried about wandering into a bull’s vicinity.  The cows move away, but a bull might attempt to get real friendly.

I walked up the small hill on the other side of the fence, and took in the view.  Ahead, there was another, slightly taller hill on the other side of divot that couldn’t exactly be called a valley, more of a slump.  There was some promising looking scrub on top of the hill that might conceal the pond, which is probably man made due to its shape.  To my far left down the hill, there stood a line of pines and cedars that I was pretty sure marked the path of a stream that joins the stream from which I water my garden.  I walked onward, staying within seventy yards of the fence on my right.  I guessed that I might be able to reach the fence before any bull reached me, as long as I saw the bull first.

As I walked on, I found a cluster of lilies growing among the tall grass of the pasture.  Pale pink and white that looks like faint blue to my eyes, the flowers were almost done with their time in the sun.  The petals were falling off, but among all the greens and browns of the grass, even a well worn flower looks pretty.  There were some small blue flowers on plants that had rough or spikey stalks, and I appreciated those flowers less than I enjoyed the lilies.  The lilies were pretty without being defensive about it.  I only tolerate thistles because goldfinches are cool.

Reaching the top of the other hill, I realized that this was not the border of the pond, because there was no pond to be seen.  Picturing it in my head, I realized that the pond had to be on the far side of the stream bed with the cedars and pines because the pond is surrounded by trees.  The direct path to my next suspected location was to go left, but there was a cool old tree standing alone about thirty yards from the top of my new hill.  The tree had lots of old, dead branches, and maybe even a hole through the trunk.  Worth checking out.  There was also a circular, concrete thingy that I could check out after the tree, while swinging west toward the stream and possible pond.

I heard a strange droning sound above me, and looked southwest at the source.  Upon seeing the source of this sound, I immediately though that I might have leapt a fence into another quantum reality.  The source of the sound was a zeppelin.  I walked toward the tree while keeping an eye on the airship.  The angle was such that I was head-on to the zeppelin.  I thought to myself, if that thing is carrying passengers or doesn’t have a logo, I am in a tough spot.  I am dressed in a jogging outfit, and this may be why I haven’t seen any cows yet.  To my dismay and also joy, the airship turned slightly and I could see a Metlife logo.  The brief moment of combined existential dread and joy was worth all the scratches I had received.

I walked up to the tree, and saw that something had dug out a little lair at the base of the knotted, old tree.  The tree, which I called Old Farmer because he looked like a weather-beaten farmer standing in a corner of his fields, was oak or maple and six to eight feet in diameter.  I took one step onto a thick root, and peered into the hole.  The rotted roots of tree had been dug out and scattered in a fan around this wedge of the tree, and I looked around for other animal signs.  Six inches in front of my foot, I saw animal sign.

There was a section of black snake on the root in front of my foot.  Having recently cleaned up a deceased black rat snake, I did the only natural thing for a person in my position.  I took a step back, and found a nice bit of grass with which to poke the unmoving snake section.  The snake section moved immediately upon the gentle poking.  This was only the last ten inches or so of the snake, so I looked in the grass along the direction of travel and spied a snarl of snake about two feet from the previous location of my foot.  I moved a few feet back and a few feet to my left to get a better view of the snake’s head.  I couldn’t quite see it between the clumps of dried grass, but I wasn’t about to reach my hand in there, I’ve learned that lesson enough times previously.

I gently nudged the snake with my foot-long piece of grass, and immediately regretted the length of my chosen implement of harassment.  The snake coiled up and struck, reaching the length of the piece grass and the space that my hand had occupied before I reacted.  This was an unusual snake.  I was not penning it in at all, but it really did not want to run away like the other snakes I have encountered out in the boonies.  I grabbed a longer piece of grass, and we replicated the results of the first prodding.  I took another step back and another look at the snake.  My internal monologue’s accent defaulted to Australian as I surveyed the scene.  It was definitely not a moccasin, but it was oddly aggressive, or maybe I was being an inordinately rude person.  Probably both.  The flash of insight that it may have laid some eggs in the rotting base of the tree slowly flickered into my skull, and I walked backward a few more feet before turning to leave the snake in relative peace.

I crept over to the concrete circle, attempting to sneak up on whatever may live inside the ring.  This would have been funny to anyone watching, as I probably made the same amount of noise as before, while moving considerably slower.  It is hard to be quiet in dry, dead grass that is piled up to your knees.

The circle turned out to be devoid of visible animal life, but the plants inside it were quite green and happy.  The concrete ring was about four feet high, and four inches thick, and seemed like a section of pipe laid on its back to create a pool or something.  Except that it was dry, had no bottom to contain any water, and seemed to tall for any calfs to drink out of, had it been full of water.  Weird.  I noticed some mouse runs around the outside base of the concrete circle, so I looked around the base for any potential mouse houses.  I found a large flat-ish rock on the far side of the ring, and gently pried it up away from me like I have seen on countless nature programs.  I hit jackpot.  A mouse and a blue tailed skink raced out from under the rock to the shelter of the taller plants around the concrete ring.  The mouse left behind a little, grass-lined burrow with three to five baby mice, and the skink just left.  After looking at the mice for a few seconds, I gently replaced the rock exactly as it had been before I left it.

Then I had a little fit of paranoia, and lifted the rock to check on the babies.  They were fine, so I gently replaced the rock, again.  I went on my merry way down the hill toward the stream bed and the cedars and the pines.  When I reached the line of trees, I saw lots of cow tracks.  The streambed was dry, but only just.  The muddy soil didn’t look like it would steal the shoes off my feet, but I decided to leap across it anyway.  On the other side of the streambed, there were all sorts of flowers: blue thistles, little blue clusters, some yellows, and the white flat ones that have the profile of an upsidedown mushroom cap.  There were happy bees everywhere, and some mud wasps, too, but none of them seemed to mind me crashing my way through the taller grasses and flowers.

There was another row of small cedars between me and what looked like a man-made embankment, and this row of trees was well meshed by thorny bushes, with a dash of poison ivy to make it challenging.  I found a small space to carefully squeeze through, even though I realized that this was unnecessary.  I could have just walked about forty feet to my left to walk through a gap between trees, but that wasn’t the point.  I carefully stepped over the poison ivy, under the thorny bushes, and between the tree branches.  Walking up the embankment, I found my goal.

The pond was a muddy, rain-filled watering hole.  It was nothing special, most likely built for the cows to drink and cool off.  The pond was probably only a couple feet deep, not including the mud, and also probably a foot shallower than it would be in a normal year.  This didn’t matter to the turtles and frogs that scattered into the safe, brown water as I crested the embankment.  The turtles and frogs seemed happy enough, either leaping out of my way or shuffling off the various rocks and floating tree branches.  I walked the circumference of the pond, and was startled by a fox.

The fox leapt out of a clump of grasses with a brown furry creature in its jaws.  I saw only a brief glimpse of the head of the fox because it was running away from me, but it had caught either a rabbit or a mouse of unusual size.  I started whistling as I walked the rest of the way around the pond, hoping that any other foxes, or snapping turtles, or bears, or snakes, or bulls would stay away.  I am not afraid of these animals, but I think we would all be happier if I didn’t startle any of them by somehow sneaking up on them.

I made my path away from the pond, and walked in the general direction of home.  On the north side of the pond, down the embankment, I found the remains of a dead cow.  The beast had been dead for longer than a week, and possibly less than a year.  The spine was in a few pieces, as was basically all the rest of it.  The bones were all white, and some of them had been scattered a good distance, as I realized that I was standing on one, while looking at the rest of the carcass from a distance of ten feet or so.  There was some brown mud around the nearest section of ribcage, and while it may have been leftover skin, it may also have been mud smushed up between the ribs.  I looked at it for a bit, there’s the skull, the other half of the rib cage, some leg bones.  I walked back down to the streambed, through the little field of flowers, and jumped across to the main pasture.  I walked back home, crossing the other stream, up the last hill, and back over the fence into the universe of job searches, blogs, and cobag politicians.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Debate Club

For the record, I didn't start this conversation, and I tried to stay out of it.  This was a work function for Lady Chemistry, and I was on my Best-Regular behavior.*  I remained calm and quiet while the Raging Conservative Tool repeatedly said, "I hate Obama."  The host said, "hate is a really strong word, with lots of connotations..."  "I hate Obama," repeated the RCT.  I politely continued the conversation about whatever I had been discussing with my dinner neighbor.

Despite all my attempts to remain calm and talk about something else, I was dragged into a conversation about politics.  When pressed about why I support Obama, I said that I could not conscience voting for a couple men who insist that women be second-class citizens.  The RCT, a woman, laughed this off.

I tried to keep it reasonable, and give her something we could agree on, and talk about how Congress used to compromise to get things done.  She credited this all to Reagan, and Clinton moving to the center.  I refrained from saying that Clinton wouldn't have had to move to the center if the Republicans would be willing to compromise anything.  I was trying to defuse the conversation so we could go back to talking about fun stuff.

I tried to tie in the previous topic to the fact that it doesn't really matter what the Presidential candidates want to do domestically because of the deep divide and lack of compromise.  The only important aspect of any Presidential candidate is how they can handle foreign affairs, but she said that the whole issue really comes down to what the role of government is.

"The government's only role is to protect us from foreign invaders," she claimed, with a hint of victory in her voice.  I completely disagreed, as the Constitution clearly states otherwise.  She claimed that "if you really read it, that is all it says."  She could point out no specific phrase to support her view.  I then threw manners out the window, and said, "well, let's get rid of the Bill of Rights because that has nothing to do with protecting us from foreign invaders."  She shrugged.  Let's toss out all the laws that prevent the poor from kicking in your door, killing you, and stealing your stuff.  That has nothing to do with protecting us from foreign invaders.  If that is the sum total of any government's role, then let's go for it.

She then claimed that it doesn't matter what she thinks because she can retire tomorrow and be set for the rest of her life.  She's out, and nothing will prevent her from living in luxury for the rest of her days.  It doesn't really matter to her who wins because she is done.  I said, "no wonder you like Paul Ryan, he has the same ideals.  He is set for life thanks to Social Security, so let's get rid of it."

The final thing that I held back from saying, for only the sake of making Lady Chemistry's worklife easier, was if she is truly done, and it doesn't matter to her comfort who wins, THEN WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU VOTING?

* I shouldn't need to explain this, but there are varying degrees of best behavior.  Best-Chuckles (for blogging, being funny, maybe a little insightful), Best-Regular (for regular, non-Genius, non-chuckles levels of best), Best-Genius (for seriously bringing it hard and smart).

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Before You Ask

Yes, the landlords are renovating the bathroom in our cottage.  No, it is not because of anything I ate.  And this is a picture of Mars, not my toilet.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Head for the Hills

I'm on vacation in the Midwest.  This is cause for concern for plumbers, cause for joy among organic meat herders, and cause for terror among toilets.  I've lost track of the amount of meat sandwiches I have consumed in the last few days, but I haven't lost track of the number of shattered, post-apocalyptic, dystopian bathrooms I have left in my wake.

At a place called First Watch outside of Westlake, Ohio.
At Lady Chemisty's ancestral home in Iowa.
And, finally, at my expedition headquarters in Wisconsin.

The last one was so bad I had to retreat to the second floor until the gas dissipated.  I saw three men huddled in a crater in the living room die when they removed their masks too early.  President Obama is rumored to be debating the legality of declaring my butt a national threat.

I am worried for my family, as my parents, despite being rocks, tend to eat a high fiber diet.  I am worried that some may not survive this coming week.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A New Project for the Pork Snorkel Crew

Legal Disclaimer: Despite all similarities and a completely identical roster, the Pork Snorkel Crew is only loosely affiliated with Team Pork Cloud Mexico.

As chief scientist of the Pork Snorkel Crew, I am currently involved in researching a new breed of Oreos.  My lab team and I will be attempting to assemble jumbo Oreos from regular and double stuffed varieties of the popular snack food.  These enormous cookies will hopefully have diameters in excess of three inches, while remaining structurally strong enough to scoop soft-serve ice cream. These new Hand Oreos* should revolutionize everything, everywhere, and will probably win a Nobel Peace Prize after the cessation of the Toll Wars once the cookies are shipped to the Middle West. 

As I have not received notice from the FDA to halt testing, human trials will begin in a little over two weeks.

* I will not be calling them HOreos.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Two Things I Ruined With the Internet

There are probably more, but I stopped counting at two: Fringe, and the Hunger Games.

A few months ago, I was flipping through some links, probably on io9 or Chud, and read some article about the unanswered questions in the previous season of Fringe.  I hadn't watched any episodes before, despite my interest, and figured that I would probably not get around to it until the series ended or was cancelled in some untimely fashion.  The Old Lady and I have continued her policy of almost never checking the NetFlix queue, and one day disc one of season one of Fringe showed up.  I wasn't really annoyed by the knowledge of the few tidbits that article had given me, but then I had to look up whether Fringe was still on the air since we don't get Fox on a regular basis with our previously-urban-now-decidedly-rural broadcast antenna.  I couldn't find the information I wanted fast enough through other means, so I clicked through to Wikipedia.  Suddenly, I found myself in an Arrested Westeros moment: I've made a huge mistake.

The truly moronic aspect of this story is that I ruined The Hunger Games in EXACTLY the same way about two months prior, and had resolved not to research anything I wanted to consume on Wikipedia.  Books, movies, foods, etc, everything can be ruined forever.

The Hungus Games are probably in production now, or may even be available on Pay Per View at your local hotel.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Washington Times Video of DC's Regional Air Guitar Competition

I'm in it, briefly.

Rockstache at the 930 Club

Both photos are from OnTap Online Gallery.  Since the photos are of me, I'm going to assume that it perfectly legal to use them.  If not, I've dealt with lawyers before.

Regarding my performance, my friends think I need to be more dynamic with my actions.  There is definite room for improvement in my fingering, and strumming.  Some kicks, and maybe a good leap into the air, out over the crowd, hopefully landing somewhere that doesn't involve on a person.  Stage dives can be really lame if you aren't rocking out, but can really seal a legendary performance.

Regarding the costume, I think the shirt was too big.  I bought it back when I was really fat, say early season Biggest Loser contestant who isn't going to win because he didn't start out at somewhere north of 400 pounds, as opposed to late season Biggest Loser who isn't going to win because he didn't start out at somewhere north of 400 pounds.  My arms look ok, though, all the tilling and pushups seem to be having some effect.  The mustache could be bigger.  Air Guitar is one area of the universe where facial will always be accepted and even respected.

So for next year, I'm aiming for two things: a six pack (instead of the mini keg) and a possibly fake giant mustache across my shoulder blades for maximum impact when I do some sort of spin-kick/guitar flip.  Probably skinny jeans as well.

The oddest part of the evening was being asked, "hey, you're the guy who really knows how to play guitar right?  I heard you're actually good at it."  My response was, "Uh. No. I've held a guitar, and made noise come out of it, but there is no way you would ever call me good at it."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Time for Another Fifteen?

I hope to surprise my father with another brief bit of in/fame on June 23.  The Genius is taking the stage at the 930 Club.  Without an instrument.  Ahem, without a visible instrument.  I am competing in the DC Regional of the US Air Guitar Competition under the nom de air of Rockstache.  If you can make it, you better cheer for me.

Two of Genius Cousins have played the 930 Club, but they were in punk bands.  Actual bands, with instruments and other people and stuff.  I have this odd feeling they will not appreciate my performance.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memories of Saturday Mornings Past

When I was but a young rock child living in Romania, we had no cartoons to watch.  A great uncle, Basalt, took pity on me and my fellow pebbles, and sent us many a VHS tape* containing hours and hours of nature programs.  Marty Stouffer's WIld America, PBS' Nature, and various Richard Attenborough narrated series entertained me when Romanian propaganda held no interest.  Now, in the fullness of time, one third of the way around the circle of life, Richard Attenborough entertains me yet again:

* Kind of like a DVD that only goes one way, youngsters.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Obilgatory Mother's Day Posting

My mother is great for many reasons, but the only one in my head right now is that she is always willing to try whatever crazy beers I bring home.

Getting Old?

Depending on which ex you talk to, I am either immature, not mature at all, completely immature, and terrible in bed generally cranky.  I like to think that I am maturing slowly like fine wine, or whiskey, but I have these moments when I feel as old as my parents.  I filed my taxes on time this year, I keep track of my bank balance with online banking, I pay bills on time.  I am much more diligent about cleaning my cottage, and doing the dishes.  And yet all this progress on the orderly life of a mature American feels wasted because I have been having the worst trouble figuring out Blogger's new dashboard, and am almost at the point of watching a video on the use and abuse of the new setup.  It is almost as bad as the new Facebook, and by new I mean the changes made to Facebook in early 2009.

That whiff of smoke that I thought I smelled earlier is definitely not coming from my moustache.  This is country living, I guess.  I better go check that out.  Someone is burning leaves or brush.  I don't understand the need for this.  Leaves can be composted or mulched into your turf, and brush can be tossed in the woods.  Two items we have an abundance of in this area: room for generous compost piles or mounds, and woods.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Time is Now

Every recession has had one, and now so must this recession.  It is time for another cover of "Dancing in the Streets." Someone get on that.

Probably Sheryl Crow, Hootie, and the Crash Test Dummies.

CDC: Benicio Del Toro, Anne Hathaway, Hugo Weaving, Laurence Olivier, and the BBC

This dream is from a while back, and I can't verify that all of it makes sense, but I woke up feeling like a million bucks had just stampeded through my skull. It has been sitting in my drafts for about a year, but I think longer because it was cold. Also, we had watched "The Wolfman" in the week before this dream erupted.

I was hiking in the mountains of Tibet, and struggling. I wasn't prepared for the mountains to be so tall or rugged, in fact, I was basically dressed for some cross country jogging with a stop at a coffee shop in the middle. I was freezing, wet, and had assumed that I would die of exposure as the sun set.* Shortly after the nightfall, I stumbled into a village that looked completely un-Tibetan, rather Transylvanian. Small cottages, and townhouses made of timber and plastered straw, close together like they were huddling against the wind and drizzle.

* This is entirely unrelated to my girlfriend's tendency to steal all of the covers, all of the time.

I stumbled through town and found the tavern near the central plaza.  I could hear laughing and singing, so I struggled with the door until it opened and I fell onto the floor of the warm tavern.  I was wearing running shoes, running shorts, a work out shirt, and a hoodie, all of which smelled of sweat and mud.  As I looked around the room, everyone was dressed in Edwardian suits and dresses.  I had wandered through the Himalayan mountains, and ended up in a Masterpiece Theater romance murder movie.

I was suddenly feverish and weak, so the mayor declared that he would house me until I was well.  Some men and the local apothecary carried my to the mayor's villa, where the doctor and the mayor's daughter, played by Anne Hathaway gave me a bath and a nightgown.  This was less interesting than it could have been.

The night before I arrived, a farmer had been murdered, and the town was out of sorts.  A newly arrived painter played by Benicio del Toro was the current suspect, but the mayor had forbidden any investigation until the King's Prosecutor arrived in two days.  The painter was known for saying strange things, and for acting "quite peculiar."  Anne fell for me while she was nursing me back to health, but I tried to resist her protestations of undying love for reasons completely unknown to me.  On the day the King's Prosecutor was due to arrive, I met Benicio.  The artist was a little crazy, and a drug addict, but I thought he was basically harmless when I saw him flinch when I killed a beetle that was crawling on the table between us. 

Hugo Weaving was the King's Prosecutor investigating the murder, and he was inclined to agree with most the townsfolk in their suspicions but it was something out side doing the killing.  While Benicio, Anne, and I were strolling along the outskirts of town, I noticed a camera crew trying to hide in some bushes.  I marched over and demanded to know what was going on.  The BBC was filming the whole thing as a new quasi-reality show, and had worked me into the script as a free form theater project. They were shooting on location in Tibet for a Romanian-set story. I already had legions of fans.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

I Disbelieve, and Roll a D20: Ancient Aliens

I was watching Stargate while working on a cover letter, and I had some additional fun watching the short film in the special features. I can’t really call it a documentary because the content has little evidence and too much speculation. The little feature is titled “Is There a Stargate?” and has both Erich von Daniken and Giorgio Tsoukalos talking about their beliefs.

These two gentlemen believe that humans were taught all the basics of culture from aliens roughly 10 to 12,000 years ago. They base their beliefs, which I won’t call theories, on the architectural accuracy of various ancient structures around the world. Since the pyramid is accurate to within a foot on all sides, and the ancient Egyptians didn’t have the latest laser surveying equipment, these things must have been built at the direction of aliens. Since the Nazca lines can’t be seen as a whole from the ground, they must have been built for aliens, or someone in a plane. The aliens will someday revisit their intellectual progeny, and usher us in to another new understanding of the universe. My problem with the alien explanation is that this premise removes all trace human ingenuity and imagination. Without the aliens, we would still be wandering the savannas and forests, gazing up at the night sky in fear. I refuse to believe that we would not have created art and discovered math without some intervention.

Aliens that swoop in and teach us everything or inspire us out of our huts feels like a parent assembling the entire LEGO toy while the kid watches, or those parents who finish all their kid’s homework when the kid gives up because it is too hard. I hope that we can grow up enough as a species to get past our stupid insecurities and maybe stop killing each other, and ideas like this take the best parts of humanity away from us. Also, Tsoukalos’ hair is goofier than my moustache.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Like No Other Feeling in the World

...and I have felt every feeling, even if I will later deny this statement. There is nothing quite like being momentarily famous, even if I did not reach the level that Mr. Oats did. A few years ago, my father gave me a box set of The Onion books, specifically so I would point out the article in which I was a model and he could then bring them in to work. His PostIt note on the page said, "This is my son. What a way to waste your fifteen minutes of fame." Little did he know...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ahem Pinko

At least this remake stars the original cast.

CDC: Pandorum, Daybreakers, and Starship Troopers the Book

Daniel Craig - Vampire Law Enforcer in Starship Troopers power armor.
Hank Azaria - Vampire Bounty Hunter who has changed his views.
Javier Bardem - Vampire Bounty Hunter who has changed his views.
Scott Bakula - Vampire Law Enforcer in Starship Troopers power armor.
Marc Blucas - Vampire Law Enforcer in Starship Troopers power armor.

I wake up from suspended animation to a paradise world of free food, and sunshine. The air is clean and the earth looks healthy and wonderful. There are no people, but everything is well maintained. I wander around, eating and drinking all the fresh fruit and clean water a guy could want.

Vampires show up the first night, give me an awesome vacation of everything you could want, and then tell me about the sacrifice I need to make. The only humans left alive are in stasis from the old days. As these people wake up over the centuries, they are given an epic holiday, and then rendered down for their blood to keep the whole society alive. The society has advanced technologies, and can take one pint of human blood and replicate it into thousands of gallons, but they need periodic infusions of fresh blood. They estimate that there are less than three thousand humans left alive, and the vampire society needs that blood to survive until they can derive some synthetic proteins or blood, which could take another thousand years. I got the impression that the vampire scientists weren't working too hard on the problem. "There are millions of vampire scientists, artists, soldiers, politicians, citizens, etc, and they all need your sacrifice." I ask for another week of vacation.

The vampire authorities grant me request but assign me two minders to prevent me from killing myself, or running away. Javier Bardem and Hank Azaria (Hank Azaria trying to play a vampire badass surprisingly worked, and could make his career.) are my bounty hunter/minders and we go off and have a few great weeks together seeing the world's sights through my eyes, and at night. Eventually, in typical Hollywood fashion, I win them over, and they refuse to turn me in.

Javier and Hank use their katanas (OF COURSE) to slice up all the vampire guards, start Hulking-out vampire-style, getting huge spiky hands and long spiky ears, and then they put on their BadAssSuits and really fuck shit up. These suits protect them from daylight, and magnify their strength a little. The two former bounty hunters rip holes in walls, and let the sun shine in on all the vampire technicians and guards and scientists. These vampires don't sparkle, but explode, usually after a witty one-liner. Hank breaks outside and starts hitting things with cars. So the Vampire Department of Blood Retention's guards call in the big guns.

Daniel Craig suits up in power armor, pretty much straight out of Starship Troopers. Hank Azaria hits Daniel Craig's suit with a semi, and breaks the knee joints or something. The suit automatically sends for reinforcements while Daniel Craig lays about with the automatic grenade launchers, flamethrowers, and chainguns attached to his suit. His jump jets are offline, and his legs are embedded in the ground to his hips by all the cars and trucks that Hank Azaria is throwing at him.

Scot Bakula (wearing his Star Trek: Enterprise costume) and Marc Blucas (also wearing a Star Trek: Enterprise onesie) begin to suit up in larger suits of power armor, hitting toggles and switches and climbing down into the ten foot tall armor suits, while discussing the situation with the two former Bounty Hunters fighting against The Man. At this point, I woke up saying, "sweet."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

CDC: Harry Morgan and some Nubian Goats

In every relationship, there comes a time when your brain reaches a total saturation point, filled to the core with information that you hopefully use for good. My saturated mind has decided to use the disorganized sea of data to produce some really odd dreams filled with things my girlfriend will hopefully find funny.

The dream starts as so many do, suddenly I pop into the action from another dream, which had involved a cab ride and molotov cocktails and street riots, and I find myself looking at a map of Iowa.

"It doesn't appear to be on this atlas, we need a specific map of Iowa, Nick!" I put down the map, and I am in the back of a light blue van filled with camping gear and our bicycles. Nick and Brandon are up front arguing over the route to the starting point of RAGBRAI, and Nick shouts back, "I know it isn't on that map, but see if you can find the larger city that it is a suburb of, it is a northern suburb!"

"I'll just use my phone."

"You'll never get a signal in time!" Nick and Brandon both shout back. I fiddle with my phone, and the thing tells me to take an immediate right turn. "Nick, take the next exit to Booming! That's it!"

"Ok, goddamit! I AM SO ANGRY!" Nick is not an angry person, but apparently Iowa has aggravated him to the point of fury. Brandon gets in on the long wordless scream of rage, and we crest the ridge to see a sprawling city of skyscrapers and the Missouri River. The exit takes us along the ridge, and all we can see in the valley are giant buildings that look like they were made with LEGOs from our vantage point. "I AM GOING TO SMASH ALL OF THAT IF WE CAN'T FIND THE STARTING POINT SOON! RAAAAR!" At this point, my map feature on my phone quits, so I just direct Nick and Brandon to take whichever roads seems right to me. Eventually, we stop at a roadside rest area on the ridge, and I go find a map. When I come out of the rest area, Nick and Brandon have walked down into the valley and are smashing every skyscraper flat like Godzilla and Mecha-Godzilla. The valley which had looked deep and broad was actually a trick of the eye, and the buildings were made of LEGOs. It was all a hoax, or an elaborate movie set. The haze of smog was from a small misting machine, the Missouri river a small creek. I walk the twenty feet to the nearest building, rip it out of its base, and throw it at Nick's head. The building explodes in a shower of sharp plastic, and this shakes Nick out of his rampage. After we both threw some buildings at Brandon, he snapped out of his rage as well.

The two of them got back in the van, and we drove on to the sleepy little suburb where RAGBRAI was allegedly starting. When we get there, the town is a ghost town. No one on the sidewalk, no one driving, no one in the windows of the old farmhouses. We pull over at an intersection, and notice that two of the houses on diagonally opposite corners look suspiciously similar and Nick says, "I am going to smash that house, this is another movie set. You suck at directions, Charles."

"I'll just unload the stuff, this is where it is supposed to be." I walk around the house on the opposite corner from the one Nick wants to smahs, and I see goats in the windows. Nubian goats. "Those are Nubian goats. Hey guys, check out this house! It is full of Nubian goats!" The house is one of those old farmhouses that you see in New England or Iowa or wherever that are about 50 feet wide with a porch and some decorative woodwork, and then they stretch back over the property for about half a mile of addons, additions, extra rooms, and hallways all of different width and building materials. Goats are looking out of every window of this house.

One of the windows opens, and out come the goats. They flood out of the window in a cascade of bleating hoof, fur, and horn. When they stand up, the goats give this little shake and look at us like, "We do this every day." The goats all start wandering off. A last goat gives a warning bleat and we look up to see this large goat on the roof of the porch looking down at us. We have a second to ponder life's many mysteries before this goat leaps off the roof like a gazelle, and lands on Nick's head like a rhinoceros.

Nick and Brandon dust themselves off, and say that they are gonna bike a "quick fifty to get their heads in order." So I pull out my bike to check it over on the lawn of this house. I am checking the tires and gears and whatnot when I hear a throat cleared behind me. I turn around to see Harry Morgan standing there, looking at me strangely.

"Good morning, son. What are you doing on my lawn?"

"Uh, I'm working on my bike. We're here for RAGBRAI, but we seem to be early."

"Oh, right, RAGBRAI. They moved it to the next town up the river."

"Well, I will get our stuff together and we'll get off your lawn, sorry, sir."

"Why do you keep referring to yourself as we?"

"Oh, Nick and Brandon took off on an easy fifty, they'll be back in an hour or so."

"Okay, well, you have a good time on the ride."

"Uh, sir, Mr, Morgan? You probably get this a lot, but do you mind if I?"

"Sure, sure."

At this point, we both stood upright and I saluted him, he returned the salute, and said, "Dismissed!"

We both turned away to our respective duties, but then Harry Morgan asked, "say you haven't seen any goats around here, have you?"

"Yes! A whole mess of Nubian goats fell out of this house just a few minutes ago."

"Nubians, you say? Those are not the goats I'm looking for."

"Oh, sorry, Mr. Morgan."

"I suppose I'll find them someday. Have a fun ride!"