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.