February 15, 2011

Questions Of The Week

This morning I'm doing my best to avoid doing anything house-husbandy by watching The Today Show.  Switching from Good Morning America to The Today Show was my only New Years Resolution.  Except for a few lapses of memory, I've pretty much kept it and I'm pretty damned proud of myself.

I'd like to go buy some new underwear this morning, but I'm wondering if there is a socially acceptable time to purchase boxer shorts.  Is before 9:00 a.m. too soon?

While I'm mulling that over, I find myself pondering various questions that are whirling around in my mind.

After just one and a half months off, I'm going back to work next week.  Is this good, or did I really want some more time off?  If I did want more time off, would I admit this to anyone but myself?  Is this normal?  What about those people you always see who say they can never imagine not working?  Are they just trying to bullshit everybody else in their pathetic bid to paint themselves as superior to every other human, living or dead?

After 18 years, we had to put our cat to sleep last week.  Several days later, we received a sympathy card from the crematorium.  When did this shit start?  Do the survivors of a deceased human being receive a condolence card from the crematorium?

Speaking of cat ashes, I'm dreading getting a call from the Vet's office telling me that what's left of Sam is ready for curbside pick-up.  What's the protocol for doing this?  Do I look somber?  Do I take a recyclable shopping bag?  I guess they come in an urn or something.  Do I look inside they urn while I'm at the office and say "Yep, that's her all right?"

I read an article yesterday proclaiming that "50 Is The New 30".  How is this possible?  Did the earth change its orbit recently so now it takes one and a half times as long to circle the sun?  Why wasn't I informed of this important development?

Okay, it's getting near 9 a.m. now, so I've decided it's safe to go hunt for underwear.  Boxers or briefs?  Plain or patterned?  Hanes or Fruit of the Loom?

Questions, questions ...

February 10, 2011


In the month that I've been off work, I've had lots of time to indulge in my favorite activity.  This would be goofing off while reading hundreds of news stories every day.  I guess I could pick worse things to do.  Of course, I read all of the headlines, but I tend to gravitate to the smaller, quirky stories.  Most times, these little news items are "one and dones", but occasionally, they form a trend.

In the last several weeks, there have been a lot of stories about ... asteroids.  In particular, how close these little iron clad boogers are getting to the mother planet as they zoom by.  Close is a relative term, but most astronomers define close as less than the distance from earth to the moon, or about 239,000 miles.

This morning, there seems to be a big hullabaloo in the scientific community about one asteroid about the size of two football fields.  Officially, the asteroid is named Near Earth Asteroid 99942, but is more affectionately known as Apophis.

Cute moniker, because Apophis is the Greek name for the ancient Egyptian enemy of Ra the sun god.  It is the Uncreator, a snake that dwells in the eternal darkness of the middle earth and tries to swallow Ra during his nightly passage.

Brrr ... pretty scary kids.

Anyway, a bunch of Russian scientists are in the process of chilling their own shit because they believe that Apophis is on track to hit the earth on April 13, 2036.  They say that the normally harmless asteroid will whip by the earth in 2029 and will pass through something called a gravitational keyhole, which will suck it in just enough so on its next pass, it will smash right into old Terra Firma.

Of course, other scientists, including those at NASA, say that the Russians are full of shit.  However they do admit that if this gravitational keyhole thing does happen, there's about a 1 in 250,000 chance that the mash-up could occur.  I have to take this seriously as these odds are better than those of the Chicago Cubs ever making it to the World Series.

So, let's see ... if I live past my next birthday, I'd be about 84 years old when the Uncreator takes a bead on Earth.  I ask you, what better way to go out than to be vaporized by a Killer Asteroid named after an Egyptian snake?

After a bit of shallow web surfing, I found an excellent animation that was put together depicting what the Apophis/Earth smackdown would look like.  The fact that I'm a Floyd-head from way back and this animation is scored to PF's "The Great Gig In The Sky" makes it doubly awesome ... and a bit frightening.

If you don't do anything else today, check this out.

February 09, 2011

Single Digit Thoughts

For reasons I'll explain sometime in the future, this has been one of the shittiest weeks I've experienced in quite some time.  And it isn't even over yet.

This morning, the mountains of snow surrounding my house glitter in the morning sun.  But that's all they're going to do today ... Glitter ... as the temperature outside is at a balmy two.

My neighbor and I have come to an uneasy truce after days of blowing snow on each other's driveways.  The village has made their last attempt to clear our small cul-de-sac, piling giant hills of frozen precipitation half way into our front yard.  The only way I can see anything but the roofs of any of my neighbor's houses is to peer out from the second floor windows of our house.

There comes a point in every one of my 33 years in this part of the country where something snaps and you can't stand winter any more.  The point where you don't even want to go outside and that you feel that some animals are much smarter than you because they have enough sense to simply sleep during this period of time.

This morning, my thoughts turned to where we plan to be in another couple of years.  About 600 miles south of here, where the winters are milder and it hardly ever snows or gets below freezing.  And then I opened the on-line newspaper for the town and saw that they were in the middle of their third blizzard in as many weeks.

Did I mention what a shitty week this has been?

February 03, 2011

Snow Day

I live in Northeastern Illinois, just a stone's throw from Chicago.  As you might have heard, we had a bit of a blizzard recently.  It's interesting how advanced weather forecasting has become.  All of the weather parrots predicted that the blizzard would start at exactly 3 p.m. on Tuesday.  And as I was out clearing the drive of the minor snow we had received earlier in the day, at 3:00 the winds started howling and the snow started coming down heavily; sideways and in sheets.  I worried and fretted for about an hour until Jan arrived home and pulled into the garage.  Then we could both relax.

The power stayed on and the house remained in one piece as the wind howled and the snow came down throughout the evening and overnight.  There's something special about that period of time.  You can't do anything about what's going on outside, and there's the fact that everything is cancelled for the next day and you have no worries about going to work.  You can just watch and marvel at what's going on around you.

Jan went to bed early, but I turned out the lights and wandered from room to room, looking out the windows at what was going on in the orange hued semi-darkness outside.  Even after midnight, in the worst part of the storm, I saw a car making it's way down the street and I wondered what the hell could be so important that they had to be out driving around.  At about 1 a.m. the man across the street came out and started shoveling his driveway.  The winds were shrieking about this time and every shovel he took was almost immediately filled in with half as much snow as he had taken out.  He kept this up, working like someone crazed, for about a half-hour, then he went back inside and his house lights went out.

I've been though two of the three worst blizzards ever recorded in this area and I still don't know what's worse ... continual 5 to 10 inch snows that occur every 3 to 5 days, like they've had in the Northeast this year, or one big horrendous dump of over two feet, like we had Tuesday night.

Things still operate when you get a bit at a time, but it works on your head gradually. All at once paralyzes everything and you have a shock to the system that doesn't go away real fast.  Particularly if you're an adult.  Because you know that you're responsible for getting yourself out.

Jan and I spent three hours yesterday clearing out modest driveway.  And we have a big-ass snow blower.  Snow blowers are nice, but they don't work real well when you're attacking a drift that's as high as your chest.  You have to knock it down with shovels and then blow it away.  So, after three hours of work, we finally had the driveway looking like this:

Great, the driveway was clear.  But there was a 3 foot wall at the end of it because the street hadn't been plowed.  At that point, there's nothing you can do, but go back inside and wait it out.  Snow is pretty at first, but after a day shoveling the shit, it gets pretty ugly.  I was glad when night fell yesterday evening, so I didn't have to look at the shit anymore.

Today, I'd like to relax.  But as a two person household, we produce trash.  This is where my trashcan is:

Somewhere On The Other Side Of That Door

So, I've got my work cut out for me later on this morning.  I'll wait until the temperature gets above zero though.

What's really discouraging ... and what you really have to put out of your mind, is that the odds of seeing bare ground again for about a month are slim to none.

Shit.  I hate snow.