August 31, 2009

Better Luck Next Time

Last week I had an interview for a position with a pharmaceutical company in my area.  The job was in line with my past experience and the tasks involved were very similar to another position I had held with the same company several years ago.  The interview, in my estimation, went fine.  This means that I believe I strung words into comprehensible sentences, plus I didn't drool or fart even once.  Today, I received word that the manager I interviewed with had chosen someone else for the position.  I took the news politely, thanked the interviewer for their time, and placed the phone back in its cradle.

Then I spent the next two hours wondering what the fuck I did wrong.

This, of course, is a useless exercise.  One self-designed to raise your blood pressure, fuel your feelings of inadequacy and keep you from your sleep.  Useless because the only person who knows exactly what you did wrong ain't telling.  So you're left to speculate, and unless you think it might be that moment that you took the switchblade out of your pocket, flicked it open and started cleaning your nails, you're never going to know.

Ten years ago, I thought I'd never have to be on the receiving end of an interview ever again.  But then, shit happens and there you are.  Of all the interviews I've been on in the last decade, I'd say I'm successful in getting the position 40 percent of the time.  I really don't know if that's good or not.

When I first started interviewing, I read all of the "how to's" on presenting yourself and what to say.  Now I can report that most of the garbage that I read was horse shit written by people who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.  If you have any common sense at all, you know not to dress like a pimp or whore, don't spend more than 5 minutes describing your criminal background, know the name of the company you're interviewing with and don't light up a cigarette during the interview.

Believe it or not, I did smoke during my first interview after college.  And I got the job!  Ah, those were the days.  In the last ten years I've had interviews that lasted two days, interviews that I knew were over before they even started, interviews where I wasn't hired, but was told later that I had good ideas that the company had since put into practice (Thanks Guys!), interviews where the manager wanted ideas on how to handle her personal problems and one interview where I questioned the interviewer why he was wasting my time and walked out.

And life goes on.  I'll sit here and smart a bit for a while longer, but as I write this, I have a headhunter maneuvering to set me up with another interview ... perhaps in a couple of days.

And as Eliot Ness (played by that fine actor Kevin Costner) said to Al "Scarfacio" Capone (played by that other fine actor Robert DeNiro) in the epic motion picture "The Untouchables" ... "Never give up the fight until the fight is done".

Whatever that means.

August 27, 2009

They Roam The Streets

The other morning, I pulled into my driveway after going out for junk I thought I needed.  As I was unloading the truck, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and looked up to see a young guy, about 22,  bounding up the drive wearing a t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes. I'll call him Alvin, because I never did get his name.

Alvin:  Don't beam me up Scotty! (I guess I looked startled)

Me:  What do you want?

Alvin:  Good morning sir!

Me:  What do you want?

Alvin:  Has there been a girl come up to your door this morning?

Me:  No.  What do you want?

Alvin:  Well, I'm a college student, and I'm playing in sort of a scavenger contest with a bunch of other young people, and the winner gets a 2,000 dollar scholarship to college.  So I need your help.

Me:  What do you want?

Alvin:  Well, to get in the spirit of the contest, I need you to inspire me.  So, what do you do for a living?

Me:  Nothing.  I haven't worked for two years.  Go away son.

At that, I turned around and walked into the house.  I heard him chirp "Thank you!" as I went in the door, and expected that to be followed with "asshole", but it wasn't.

Several hours later, I went out again and saw Alvin standing on a street corner near the house.  He must have recognized the truck, because he stared at me kind of sullenly.  After I passed him, I looked in the rear view mirror just in time to see him finger me.

He must have been having a bad day trying to be "inspired" by ill-tempered old men.

August 26, 2009

HSR #40

Several weeks ago, I received a cute little green and gold postcard in the mail informing me that my 40th high school reunion was drawing near, and that a huge bash was being planned during whatever season in 2010 that the majority of respondents decided would be the best time to have the party.

I get these "invites" every several years, which baffles me because it seems like school reunions should only be held in years with multiples of ten.  But my high school likes to have them on offbeat years like 13, 27, 34 ... there seems to be no logical progression to it.

Normally, I'll toss these invitations in the trash on the way into the house, but I held on to this one for some reason and read the whole thing several days later.  I recognized the chair person's name because her complexion and hair style during high school reminded me of someone of the Shaker faith.  All she needed was a bonnet and a long gray dress and she would fit the image exactly.  I'm positive she wasn't a Shaker, but if she had wanted to be, she was almost all the way there without even trying.

And she had her maiden name as her middle name, so we all would know who she was, which was helpful.  I'm not sure when maiden names as middle names for women started to become commonplace, but it must have been many moons ago.  Jan did the same thing, and I can see why she did it.  She has a fine maiden middle name, but I only use it when I'm irritated and yelling at her, as in "Janis Gail, where in the goddamned hell is the mayonnaise?"

As I read through the card, I saw that they had created a web site that you could join and include a picture and a little blurb about yourself.  Kind of like a facebook info page.  I thought that this was cool, so threw my name in and added the picture and blurb.

After I was approved by the all powerful sitemaster, I started looking to find out who else had joined, and was a little disappointed to see that out of 300 graduates, I was only one of about 20 who had signed up.  Even more disappointing was the way some of the people had represented themselves.  Most people had put in a picture and a nice little one paragraph summary of their life on earth over the last 40 years, but a small number had either just put down their dumbass screen names, so you had no fucking idea who they were, or a dumbass screen name coupled with a cartoon or caricature, or both plus a stupid blurb.  I swear, one guy (I guess it was a guy) identified himself as Dicklicker 1348 with a tired caricature of Groucho and blurb describing himself as an ultra-leftist with a penchant for bondage.

Christ, some people never grow up.

As has been the case with past reunion "pledge drives", I have no intention of attending.  High School wasn't a real exciting time in my life.  I was a poor student, had no real interest in any class or instructor and  traveled in just a small circle of friends.

And I get into enough awkward situations in everyday life without planning months ahead to spend an uncomfortable evening with a group of people I have no interest in, plus drive 500 miles for the privilege.

The only possible way I would do this is if I were assured that I could learn the true identity of "Dicklicker" ... but then I'd probably be disappointed anyway.

August 24, 2009

It's What Separates Us From The Apes

Today I spent several hours filling out paperwork at a "nationally known" contract temp agency so that I could interview tomorrow with a "nationally known" pharmaceutical company for a short term position pushing miracle drugs on unsuspecting Europeans.

I've worked for this agency before and we had a pretty good relationship until I turned down a position for medical reasons.  I thought it was cool, but I guess it pissed my rep off and he's blocked me in various ways from applying with the agency for anything with the "nationally known" pharmaceutical company.

After finally realizing what he was doing, I wrote him off as a total asshole and gave up on applying for anything through his agency.

Last week, I received a call from one of his cube mates at the agency, wanting me to come in and re-up, as there was a position open at the "nationally known" that she wanted me to interview for, because she thought I would make a reasonable fit.  Now, these people don't call you out of the kindness of their hearts.  They work on a commission, and the more people they place that their clients like, the more likely they are to be able to place more people.  Kind of like a pimp, I guess.

Anyway, I showed up this afternoon at the agency and start filling out the mound of paperwork.  By the way, I drank a bottle of water on the way over because I knew I would have to go to some lab afterwards to stand and deliver a piss sample, but as it turns out, there's a new way to screen out junkies from gainful employment.  It's kind of like a DNA swab crossed with an early pregnancy test, instead you pop the stick in your mouth and slobber all over it instead of pissing on it.  Pretty cool.  You hold it in your mouth like a thermometer for two minutes and then dip it in a tube of shit hooked up to some other shit and in less than a minute, it turns color if you are using one of the big four: pot, coke, meth or heroin.  Of course I passed and let out an enthusiastic "Yay", which caused the rep to look at me strangely.

While I'm filling out the paperwork, lady rep says that the total asshole rep knew I was coming in and wanted to chat with me for a while.  Fucking great.  But of course, I smiled and said that I'd be delighted to see him.  God I'm a whore.

Midway through signing my name to documents swearing that I won't try to overthrow the government or pinch the collective butts of my co-workers during my time of employment, Mr. Total Asshole walks in, shakes my hand with great gusto and wants to know everything about what I've been doing.

So, for the next 20 minutes, we did small talk.  His health, my health; his wife, my wife; his kid, my kid. Then we both harumphed that we'd better get back to it and said goodbye.  I finished up my paperwork and left.

When I got home, I mentioned to Jan that I had talked with Mr. Total Asshole, and she asked me how that went. And I said that it went fine.  Let's face it, unless you just hate another person to the core, you're always cordial ... or at least you try to act like a rational human being.

After all, it's just business.

August 20, 2009

Augering In

Holy hell in a handbasket.  When I started this innocent little "entryway" project last weekend, I had no clue that it would take on the characteristics of the chain reaction that ends in a nuclear explosion.

Last week, I thought it would be a good idea to get rid of the crummy linoleum that we had in the entry way since the house's inception.  So, I started to buy the things I thought I would need to complete it.  In my mind, all I would need were boards ... shit I had everything else I needed.

I thought.  Five days after I started, I finally laid the last board in the entryway closet late this morning.  Ahhh, done.  Shit ... yeah, I'll be done after I weather proof the doors, paint the inside of the doors, paint the inside of the closet, paint the trim and new closet door, trim and fit the new closet door, install the trim ... and this doesn't even include the stuff I have to finish in the basement after I ripped up most of the subfloor because of the water damage.

So far, I figure that this little project of mine has cost almost seven hundred dollars and 40 hours of labor.  And I'm just half-done!  I mean, if I wanted to hire me to do this job, I couldn't afford me!

The Money Pit

And everything else is going to hell around here while I fiddle-fuck with this project.  The lawn needs mowing, I have to get ready for two interviews the first of next week, and a bunch of other things that I've let slide.

The way I figure it, the beginning of September will be here before I can find a natural stopping point and rest.

But, I bitch now.  In a couple of months, I'll have forgotten all about it.  And I'll find something else to drive me batshit. 

August 18, 2009


There's a line in one of the James Bond books, where 007 reflects after having had the shit beaten out of him by some super-baddie.  He thinks to himself that it's a good thing that the mind does not remember physical pain.

I suppose I could juggle that line around a little to describe my situation today.  The mind does not remember what a pain in the ass the last home improvement project was, and since the owner does not remember, he subjects himself to round after round of frustration and grief.

I'm in the  middle of, what IsweartoGodonastackofBibles will be my last project of the Summer, the installation of a wooden floor in our home's entryway.  And like 80 percent of the other projects I've started (and finished) on this house, I've never done anything like this before. So it's like a rerun that you've never seen.  It's all new to me.

After two 9 hour days, I'm taking a day off today to rest my sore muscles and hands.  And to let my mind repair itself so that I can lay the floor tomorrow without looking on it as the thirteen steps to the gallows.


What?  Two days and I haven't even laid a single board yet?  Yes.  I had to remove the adhesive tiles first.  And after the tiles were removed, the ugliness began.  Water damage and rot so bad that I had to rip out half of the subfloor, reframe and replace the flooring.  Thank you intertubes for helping me figure that one out.

This afternoon, I'll scour the net again to get all the opinions on the best way to lay my floor.  I'm sure everyone will agree that there's just one definitive way to do it ...  And then I'll stumble on and do it the way I always do it.  Trial and error.  Well, whatever I do has to look better than this:


Such a small area.  Such big problems.  May the force be with me.

August 14, 2009

WTF Discovery Channel?

When I was a kid, one of the minor irritants I endured in the Summer was watching re-runs on television.  If I was lucky, I was able to hang around with friends until after dark, but eventually, my Dad's whistle (which was very loud and distinctive and I've never been able to duplicate) would signal it was time to come in.  Given the times, there was not much to do besides sit down and watch re-runs.  I didn't grow up in a big city, so the only two stations available were CBS and NBC.  Even though Fall meant the inevitable start of school, I did look forward to the new season of shows starting on the networks.

Fast forward to today.  A zillion channels to choose from thanks to cable TV and I still have the same problem, only I don't have any neighborhood friends to ride bikes with until Jan whistles for me to come home.  What I could have done with over 200 channels of television when I was 10 years old!  But as time and technology advance, you find yourself in the same dilemma as back in the day.  That's progress and human nature.

I still find myself struggling to find something to watch on television in the evening.  And to avoid the irritation of constant channel changing, I usually fixate on one channel.  Two years ago it was the Food Network, last year it was HGTV ... and this year it is the Discovery Channel.

I'm not sure exactly when this enterprise took shape, but it seems to me that it used to focus on nature based programming.  I suppose that it was so successful that it tried to clone itself and/or spawned a number of copycat programs, and as a result, had to re-invent itself to survive.  I just started watching it again on a regular basis last Spring, and I don't know if "Discovery" is really the most descriptive name for it anymore.  Given the programs I see, I'd rename it the "WTF Channel".

I suppose if you bent the word "discovery" enough, it would still apply.  Whatever the case, I do find most of the programs that I zero in on entertaining, although some of them are getting long of tooth.  Here's a sampling:

Deadliest Catch  This was interesting for the first season, but let's face it, how many crab pots can you see thrown over board, waves knocking crew hands down on deck, captains cussing a blue streak, et cetera before it becomes all "been there, seen that".  Seriously guys, this one has run it's course ... which the Discovery folks seem to know, because hot on its heels is ...

Swords:  Life on the Line  Move the boats from the left coast to the right coast and insert swordfish for crabs, and there's your show.  I've only watched one episode, and my one pervading thought was "when the fuck are you going to catch a fish?"  There's the usual antagonist, nicknamed "Chompers", who everyone else hates for some unknown reason, another boat captain whose name escapes me, but seems to whine a lot, particularly when he has to tow Linda Greenlaw's (she of "Perfect Storm" and tax evasion fame) crippled boat back to port for repairs, and a bunch of other stereotyped sea dogs.  They all seem mildly excited when they catch a sword fish, but everyone seems to have multiple orgasms when they land a tuna, which was apparently worth a couple of thousand dollars.  Yeah, I know, they should have named the show "Tuna: Life in the Can", but that doesn't sound very exciting.

Mythbusters  This show is running out of ideas ... fast. They tried pepping it up last season by adding some new people: "Asian guy", "Italian guy" and "girl who you thought put out a lot when you were in high school", but they haven't added much to the mix.  The best shows are when Adam and Jaime get drunk for some trumped up myth.  Jaime is especially appealing when he's tipsy.

Dirty Jobs  Definitive proof that there's only so much shit, offal and animal carcasses that you can wade through before it all looks the same.  Mike's losing his hair and developing a paunch, so the attractiveness to the lady audience is waning.  Time to hang this one up.
American Loggers  Cutting down trees.  Interesting? Not so much.

Cash Cab  Very entertaining game show.  Made even more exciting when you throw in the "when is Ben Bailey going to have an accident because he looks over his shoulder all the time" X-factor.

Pitchmen  This show was iffy with Billy Mays.  Three types of pain killers plus cocaine in your system?  No wonder you yelled all the time.  Billy, Billy Billy ...

Destroyed in Seconds  If you like wrecks, explosions and disasters, or even all three at the same time, well this is your show.  Ex-NFL'er  Ron Pitts is a doofus, but who cares?  You're there to see the wrecks, explosions and disasters!

Man Vs Wild  This is my favorite show on the Discovery Channel.  Bear Grylls is a burley, tough, he-man survivin' guy!  He totally aces out his wimpy, whiny counterpart on the sister show "Survivor Man".  His best show yet was this week, when he trekked through the Arctic wilderness and flagged down a fishing boat on the coast with a seal blubber fed signal fire.  Along the way, he pissed on his skis for better traction and forded a freezing river in his birthday suit.  Bear's never afraid to show us his junk!

So ... this is the summer of the Discovery Channel, but I've already started to flirt with a few programs on the History Channel.  After all, what defines history better than a show named "Monster Quest"?

August 13, 2009

Template Plug

I spent a good part of the afternoon messing with the looks of my blogs.  While I was doing this, I ran across a site that has literally hundreds of free blog templates for Blogger.

If you'd like to take a look, just press on this link.

August 12, 2009

Location Cubed

I was never a big fan of John Hughes, but I've watched most of the movies that he directed.  I believe the only one I've missed is "She's Having A Baby", which judging by the title alone, tells me that this was a blessing.  I've sat through the baffling "Weird Science", the cloying "Uncle Buck" and "Curly Sue", the nausea inducing "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club", and I've endured the crapfest that is "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".

And now that I've dissed the man, I have to say that one of my 5 favorite movies of all time is the 1987 "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles".  Despite a hurry-up, flawed ending, this is a great film.  It's one of the few discs that I have in my collection, and I know I've watched the whole thing at least 20 times, not counting the times I've run across it while channel surfing on television.

I mention this because one of my secret pleasures is seeing places in real life that were used as locations in movies.  I have great memories of a trip to San Francisco in the early '70's, not because it was San Francisco, but because I was able to visit locations that were used in the movie "Dirty Harry".  The cross at Mt. Davidson Park where Scorpio tried to kill Harry, the bridge over Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, where Harry jumped on the school bus, and even the rock quarry where Harry and Scorpio blasted away at each other.

Today I found one of the location shoots for "Planes, Trains & Automobiles".  I had only been driving by it on occasion for 20 years and every work day for five, and it was finally brought to my attention in a column by Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times.  The El Rancho Motel in Gurnee, Illinois.  This was the second motel that Neal and Del stayed at after they had wrecked and burned their fake wood sided Chrysler wagon. 


The decor has changed a little.
But the 3 window doors are still there.

The other location that I ran across, the first motel that Neal and Del stayed at, is on I-55 in Braidwood, Illinois. Jan and I discovered that one soon after the movie came out.  We used to pass it on our visits to her parents in St. Louis.  It actually was called the Braidwood Inn at that time, but became a Days Inn for a while and is now the Sun Motel.

The Braidwood Inn during shooting.

As it is today.  The Sun Motel.

Okay, you're probably sitting there thinking "what a tool".  Well, I like this kind of stuff, so if that makes me a tool, then so be it.

If you really want me to get into "tool" territory, just ask me about my "B-List" celebrity sightings.

August 11, 2009

One For The Record Book

I was mowing the grass this morning, because it was either that or clean the house.  For me, cleaning the house is a precise operation and mowing the grass is more of a slash & burn deal.  I was feeling rather imprecise, so I chose to be slashy & burny.

And because my mind wanders when I'm mowing, I started thinking about facebook for some ungodly reason.  One of my best friends invited me to join back in March, and like most people, I really got into it for a couple of days.  That is, until I realized I didn't have any friends besides her.  I searched and sent out about 10 invites to people I knew ... of.  And of those invites, I got one taker.  Figuring out that I didn't have the sparkly personality I always imagined that I had, I kind of gave up on it.  So there I sat with two "friends" for months. But I enjoy seeing what my original friend is doing, so I check in when she writes something.

A couple of nights ago, I received an e-mail from facebook saying that "so & so" had invited me to be her friend.  How exciting!  I could finally have more than two friends!  So I accepted the invitation and sent her a short note saying how nice it was to hear from her and asked her how she was doing.  Pretty lame, but standard.  This morning, I received a note back saying that she was fine and asked how I was doing.  Okay ... So now I have a choice.  I can either write back and try to capsulize 8 years of my life into three sentences, or I can say I'm fine too, and that will probably be the end of it.

I think she was just scalp-hunting anyway.  That's what I call it when someone invites someone else to friend-up, but all they really want is to just see how many friends they can amass.  And there's nothing wrong with that. From what I've read, a lot of people do this as a game, or competition.  In fact, I remember reading that somebody, maybe that hambone Ashton Kucher, was trying to see if he could get into the Guinness Book of Records by having a million friends on facebook.  I don't know if he made it or not, but I suppose it's a worthy goal.

To me, an even loftier goal would be to see how many friends you could lose on facebook.  Imagine how impressive that would be to your "friends", except you wouldn't have any to brag to because they all blocked you.  I did a little research (read "googling") on this and found that facebook itself has a site where you can employ a multitude of applications to alienate your friends.  They all sound like they are a lot of trouble though, and may not be effective in completely eliminating all of your friends.  I think I've developed a much simpler method to rid yourself of all of your facebook "friends".

Just send a message to their wall calling them a c**t.

Yes ... c**t.  That vilest of all vile words in the English language.  So vile that I cannot bring myself to spell it out, but if you want to, just add the letters "n" and "u" in the correct sequence, and there you are.  For even greater effect, add the word "whore" to the end of it.  By employing this method, I can almost guarantee you that you will have zero facebook friends left in practically no time at all.

I'd be thrilled to try for the record of most facebook friends lost ... but I think I'd need more than three friends to begin with to have a crack at it.

Another dream ... shattered.

August 09, 2009

It's The Little Things That Piss You Off

Last week came and went, and on paper, I got a year older.  I'm not one for public reflection, but I suppose I tend to do a lot of it in my own head.  And as the time goes by, I'm pleased by the improvement I've made in controlling my temper.  I don't know exactly how I've done it, but things just don't bother me the way that they did at one time.

Except that I still get pissed off once in a while.  Pissed off is a little different than anger because it occurs quickly and departs just about as fast.  Yesterday, I got pissed off twice, but just for a little while.

The first time was while I was getting my hair cut.  I've been going to the same woman for years.  She does a decent job and is very nice, even if she does dumb things like getting punched out in a bar and stepping out of a moving vehicle and breaking her leg.  Anyway, we were chatting and she had asked me a question.  I was in the middle of answering it, when her next appointment came in, one of her girlfriends, and she cut me off in mid-sentence and started gabbing with her.  So, I trailed off and listened to them talk about some shit ... and then I started to feel ...  let's see if I can describe it ... trivial and insignificant.  Yeah, that's it.  And I absolutely hate feeling that way.  And to top it off, she was looking back over her shoulder at her girlfriend as she was talking to her, so I knew she was fucking up my hair.

After a few minutes, she ran out of things to talk about with the girlfriend.  She looked back at me, glowering at her, and tried to make some small talk, but I just grunted.  She finished, I paid and left without a word. Bitch.

Later in the day, Jan and I went out looking at furniture. I'm going to go off topic for a minute ...  It's odd how getting one seemingly inconsequential thing can end up snowballing into a major overhaul.  Jan's been after me to move an old arm chair from the basement back upstairs.  But it had a stain on it, so we ordered a chair cover.  That came in and we put the chair in place, which made the living room look lopsided.  So we went out looking for something to "even" it out.  And we came upon a coffee table and two side tables that we liked and the price was too good to pass up, so we bought those and carted them home.  Those three items didn't fit right in the living room, so we spent the rest of the day rearranging every goddamn thing in the living and family rooms until everything looked correct.

One innocuous thought turns into a major deal.

Back on topic ...  We were at the furniture store and had spotted the items we wanted to buy.  The sales person had been following us around for 15 minutes, but as soon as we had made up our minds, she was no where to be found.  When I tracked her down, she was talking to a couple of numbskulls who couldn't make up their minds whether or not they were coming back to the store at fucking Christmas to buy a particular item and wanted to know if it would still be available then.  Once I figured out what utter bullshit they were talking about, I motioned to the sales person that we needed help, and it was still 5 minutes before she broke off with the numbskulls and came over to take our order.  I've seen this so many times.  Why sales people won't break off conversations with people who are obviously not going to buy anything to help people who are obviously straining at the fucking bit to buy something is beyond me.

Two episodes in one day.  I guess I can't have anymore for a while.  But I will give myself some credit by saying that during both of these little mini-dramas, I never threw a shit-fit or even made a snide remark (out loud).

So, each day, in every way, I keep getting better and better.  If I keep telling myself that, maybe one of these days, it will actually come true.

August 07, 2009

Late Night Rachael Madness

There's a period of time in the evening where I sign off downstairs and come up to the second floor to look at things on the computer before I go to bed.  Sometimes I'll catch up on the news in the  local papers, or read blogs or just play solitaire.

Tonight, I spent almost an hour looking on Google for posts concerning Rachael Ray's boobs.

Why?  Because there is something basically wrong about the way they look.  They are just ... well, weird.  I first noticed this several years ago when I was recovering from an illness and watched the Food Network almost all the time from my "get well" chair.  I've mentioned this to Jan several times, and she just doesn't see it.  But she's not real observant sometimes.

Now look, here's what I'm talking about:

See how they seem to be migrating towards her arms while ascending to her shoulders?  It's like they're just not in the right place.  Well, after an hour of looking, the only post I found was from someone who wished she wouldn't wear such low cut blouses on her cooking show because it isn't tasteful, or some shit like that.

I hope she quits showing them because their placement is totally freaking me out!  I hope someone else sees this besides me.

Maybe I should just turn in now and get some sleep.

August 06, 2009

It's Good To Get Out Of The House

Some days you get up with the urge to do something. Some days you don't.  And a lot of days, your brain just messes with you and you can't decide if you want to do something or not.  Today, my brain was messing with me.

I was up before 6 am, and before long, I was wandering around the house looking for something to do, but not sure what I was mentally set to do.  These are my ADHD days,  and all tasks must take no more than a half-hour to accomplish ... an hour tops.  Recently, I've been annoyed by the looks of both of my blogs, so I decided to screw around with them.  You can see the results on this one, and I went bat-shit crazy with the other one, changing not only the look, but the title.  You can see the result here ...

I decided I wasn't real pleased with the new looks, but my attention span had waned and I decided to do something else, because I was bored.  Actually, I was bored and unhappy with myself, which is a bad combination.   When this combo hits, the only way I can escape it is to go someplace and buy something I don't need.  Sometimes I can do this by myself, but today I wanted company, so I persuaded Jan to go with me, even though she was perfectly content watching television and playing her little hand-held Tetris game.

The best place to go when you want to buy crap you don't need and want to feel better about yourself is Walmart. Or at least it is for me.  You can buy all the crap you don't need cheaply, and you can usually spot someone to make you feel better about yourself.  Invariably, I'll see someone and say to myself "Geez, my self-worth is lower than a burning sack of shit, but at least I don't look like that!"  Of course, there's a good possibility that someone else is looking at you and thinking the exact same thing. But I choose to ignore that.

Today, I got a "threefer".  An old man wearing a denim hat, white t-shirt under bib overall cutoffs with tan dress shoes and white socks; a middle age guy sporting a long mustache with the ends wrapped in some sort of sparkly string and tinklebells; and a woman on a motorized cart who was so big that only one third of her ass occupied the seat, and the other two-thirds were equally distributed hanging over each side.

One of my beliefs is that no matter where you go in this country, the people in Walmart look exactly the same. And this belief was unshakeable until last month when Jan and I visited a Walmart in Gallup, New Mexico.

We had been on the road for several days, and after we had checked in to our motel and I had turned the AC down to its lowest possible setting, Jan told me that if I was going to keep the room freezing, that she needed a sweat shirt to wear to bed.  Gallup is a small town, but we saw a Walmart just down the street from the motel, so we went there to get her some bed wear.  The parking lot was absolutely packed, and when we went inside, we just stood there for a few seconds, dumbfounded.

Everyone was Navajo.

I swear to God, there were no more than 10 caucasians in the whole store, and we were two of them.  We walked up and down the aisles and it was so hard to keep from gawking, but it was just fantastic!  I think we were in the store for about an hour, and a half hour of that was waiting in the check-out line, but I didn't care.  Some of the people, especially the women, had on traditional garb.  The whole thing was just fascinating and we talked about it the whole evening after we returned to our motel room.  It turns out that Gallup sits right in the middle of the Navajo Nation, which spans both sides of the New Mexico/Arizona border.  It was one of the coolest experiences we had on the entire trip.

I never would have thought that it would have happened in a Walmart.

August 04, 2009

Road Kill

When we returned from our trip, a number of people asked about the different foods we had eaten and restaurants we had visited along the way.

Okay ... that's a lie.  Actually, no one asked any such thing.  As a matter of fact, only 3 people asked me how my vacation was, and you could tell by the way they asked it that they didn't want to me to expound any further than "fine", or "great". That's the thing about vacation stories.  No one really wants to hear about them.  Well, maybe if there was significant property damage or multiple deaths involved, but otherwise no.  And unless you're just a hopeless moron, you already know that no one cares about your stupid vacation, so you just say it was "fine" or "great".

But one of the great things about having your very own blog is that you can tell all of the fucking vacation stories that you want and no one can do a single god damn thing about it.  Oh, they can choose not to read it, but really, what do I care?  I've got an outlet to tell my stories and I don't have to be concerned whether or not I'm boring someone to the point of turning them into a mound of salt.  So fuck it ... this is a vacation story, and if you don't like it, go find another blog about someone who had an embarrassing incident with a tube of Vagisil or some shit like that.

Anyway ... one of the misconceptions I had about our trip was that we would find all sorts of  kitchy, off-beat places to eat, just like that spikey-haired troll who does that drive-ins, whistlestops and dumps, or whatever the fuck it's called on the Food Network.  Well, as they say ... Was I ever wrong!  I mean, I guess we could have done something like that if we didn't care about doing anything else and we had two months instead of two weeks to do it in.  But basically, if you don't end up eating at some chain restaurant while you're on the road, you are likely to starve to death while you search for that "perfect" spot to dine.

Here's an incomplete list of the places we had lunch and dinner: Applebee's, Arbys, Carl's Jr., Dominos, Perkins, Red Robin, Tortilla Flats and Wendys.   All fine dining establishments, right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ... HAH!  In addition to those, we ate at a couple of restaurants that I suspected were regional chains, even though I had never heard of them.

Actually, there were days when we weren't even lucky enough to find places to eat at noon.  Fortunately, we usually kept leftovers from the night before in our cooler and ate them on those occasions, except one.  One day we found ourselves in the mountains of Northern New Mexico and couldn't even find a fucking gas station to buy a bag of Doritos and a soda, so we ended up eating Wheat Thins and juice boxes from a bag we kept in the car for snacks.  How sad.

And forget about breakfast.  We always ate at the motel's free 6 am slop call, where there were muffins, cereal and maybe waffles.  We can't blame anyone for that though, because it was our call.  By the way, if you see an ad for a motel chain on TV and one of their "perks" is a free breakfast, don't be impressed.  They all do it.  If they don't, you'd better reconsider, because you have just checked into Hell.

In all fairness, we did eat at two nice places.  One in Flagstaff and one in Las Vegas.  And I'll give props to Jan for finding those.  And also, to be fair, I'll give myself the "Taste For Shit" award by picking two perfectly awful diners in California and Utah.

On every day of our trip, Jan would say the same thing:  "Let's find someplace nice for dinner tonight".  After a few days, this became a running joke, and we would both burst out in laughter when she said it.

Because sometimes, there just ain't no good place to eat.

August 01, 2009

Stilt People

Okay, somethings been nagging at me since I attended the Fair last Thursday.  One of the "attractions" there was a stilt walker named Libby Green.  Libby's publicity sheet says that not only is she one of the country's premier stilt performers, she also is a "balloonist" and a magician.  I'm not exactly certain what she means by "balloonist". Does this mean that she makes  balloon animals or does she fly a hot air balloon?  If she flew a hot air balloon while wearing stilts, that would be pretty awesome, but I'll bet that's not it.  The same thing goes for magician.  Does she lose the stilts for her magic act, or does she have them on?  This would make the card tricks pretty easy to do, because she would be so far up there, you wouldn't really be able to see if your card was the three of spades or not.

As you can see from the above picture, Libby apparently does Halloween gigs too.  I wonder what that act is like?  It looks like she's sort of dressed up like a Bride of Frankenstein/Lizzy Borden crossover, which could be interesting.  I'm going to bet she also dresses up like Uncle Sam, because most of the stilt walkers you see are wearing Uncle Sam costumes.  Must be tradition or something.

Anyway, the thing that I was wondering is what happens if she loses her balance and falls?  Those stilts have to be tied to her feet and legs, so if she falls, she just can't hit a switch and explosive bolts detonate, separating her from her lengthy prostheses.  I mean she's got to go down hard ... and the results can't be pretty.

When I saw her, she was just standing there, in a pair of really long jeans.  She looked kind of lonely actually, because I don't imagine people just walk up to her and start a conversation.  I was going to go over and talk to her and ask about the falling thing, plus I was going to ask her if anyone ever tried to push her over or knock her legs out from under her.  And I was also going to ask her if she had ever had a fantasy about having sex while wearing her stilts ... and maybe I would have if I had visited the beer tent first, but I chickened out.

Now I'll never know.

All's Fair ...

We went to the county fair this week.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Well, that's not really a fair (haha!) thing to say.  We hadn't been in years, and this was the first year at their new location, a few miles south of where they had been for almost 90 years.  There was nothing wrong with the old site, but the county was being pressured by the village the fair grounds was situated on so they could build a new Walmart, or some other shit store like that.

Apparently, the move was not handled well, so by the first part of this summer, all that had been prepared was this:

The Exhibition Hall, which I guess is okay, but not really awe inspiring.  They also managed to put in a huge parking lot, but not for cars.  It was for the rides and game booths so they wouldn't sink into the mud.  And by the time the fair actually started earlier this week, they had managed to grow some weeds where the corn field used to be, and throw up a couple of restrooms.

And that's what awaited us.  We went up to the ticket trailer (the ticket booth wasn't finished) and plunked down 20 dollars.  I was going to try for the senior's rate, but I didn't think I could pull off 65. Here's our walking tour of the midway:

Entrance to Midway
(Guy in shades didn't look too pleased)

(Parking spaces clearly marked)

The Pharoh's Revenge
(Only if it falls apart)

Ali Baba
(It's supposed to sim a flying carpet
How, I don't know)

And that was about it for the midway.  Yes, there were game booths, but we didn't play any, because I'm intimidated easily.  We also went into the Exhibition Hall, which was populated by guys trying to sell water softeners and aluminum siding.  Plus, that's where the only restrooms were.  You truly have not seen everything on earth there is to see until you enter a restroom at a county fair and are greeted by a washroom attendant, hovering by his table containing hand sanitizer, cologne and a tip jar.

But what's a county fair without the farm animals?  We found them parked in some temporary shelters in the back 40, hidden far away from everything else.  There were cows and pigs and goats and chickens and ducks.  They were doing a barrow judging when we walked in and Jan asked me what a barrow was.  I was able to draw upon my decades of agricultural experience to tell her that a barrow was a boar hog that was sans nuts.

One of the poultry exhibitor's had some hens for sale.  They were small and black and didn't really look like hens, but they clucked so they must have been.  They were only 38 dollars apiece and I wanted to buy a couple, but Jan said that the neighbors wouldn't like it, and we didn't have a fence around the back yard and besides, the coyotes would probably eat them.  So I was bummed.

The world famous Clydesdale horses were also there, but we only saw one.  His name was Marshall, and he didn't look real pleased being locked up in his cage.  The other cages were empty and I figured that the other Clydes were on break over on the midway playing ring toss or riding the Tilt-A-Whirl.  Anyway, here's a picture of Marshall:

Marshall's the one in back

So, after three hours of trudging around and not having eaten one Elephant's Ear, we figured we had got our 20 dollars worth, and we departed the 2009 Lake County Fair.

I was still bummed about the chickens, but if we go back next year, maybe Jan will let me buy a goat.