Thursday, May 29, 2014

Death Bed

This week's post is below.  But while I was trying to finish it, I was reminded of this from Patton Oswalt.  Specifically the part where he talks about the writer had moments of doubt and worked through them.  "What the fuck am I writing!! I'm putting my name on this piece of shit!"

It was when I was reading what I wrote tonight that I was reminded of this.


Note:  Every word of this post is literally true.  That's part of why it is so explosively boring. There is nothing here that did not happen.  All facts have been verified.  Enjoy your history lesson.

I think that stands for "Your Mileage May Vary,"  but it might be God's name in anglicized Hebrew, but horribly misspelld. [ sic ].

Few people know the origin of the catchy little phrase "Your mileage may vary."

Ask most people and they'll tell you it's something to do with cars or horses or something.

By the way, to the rest of the world except for those limey bastards like Sir Francis Harry Hinsley, the phrase is, "YKMV" (Your kilometerage may vary).

The phrase "Your mileage may vary,"  was first coined to describe the children's design drawing game, Spirograph.  Because the commercials are/were so deceptive.  I don't know if they still make Spirograph or if they still have commercials for it, but they used to.  I don't remember the details of those commercials but whenever I try to recall what a Spirograph commercial was like, the "Lite-Brite" song pops into my head.  It goes like this:

"Lite-Brite, makin' things with li-i-ight.  What a sight, makin' things with Lite-Brite."

I'll explain that in a minute, but I'm getting off track.  Which is to be expected, because that (getting off track) ALWAYS happens with Spirograph.  Your mileage (kilometerage) may vary.

Back in 1970 or so, I saw a commercial for Spirograph.  It was a Saturday morning not unlike (like) just about any other Saturday morning.  I was sitting on the hardwood floor of the living room.  I was watching Bugs Bunny or Bozo the Clown (Kidding - there was no Bozo the clown) on the 19 inch television.  It was not a console TV exactly.  It stood on four thin wooden legs.  The box was a textured silver aluminum material.  It seems to me like the TV sat against the North wall of the Living room, but what do I know from direction?  Oy!

I was wearing my favorite footy pajamas.  They were blue and I liked to keep them zipped all the way up and secure the zipper in place with the flannel fabric flap snapping mechanism.

A couple of my toes had broken through the fabric that made up the foot covering part of my comfy pajamas.  The sole of the PJs was a brittle plastic that scratched the breaching toes. In my lap was a green plastic bowl.  In the bowl were a few Apple Jack loops floating in roughly 6 ounces of orange milk.  Apple Jacks was my favorite cereal.

A little bit of orangish milk had dripped onto my pajamas from the spoon.

When the Spirograph commercial came on, I knew I had to have it.  I could think of nothing else until Christmas.  It was obvious to me that the Spirograph would make me millions.  It was my ticket out of that shithole.  I could finally get me a good pair of footy pajamas with no milk on them.

Watching the miracle of the complex plastic gear things, guided by colored pen, I knew.  I pictured my drawings adorning the walls of the great art museums of the world.  I was going to improve on the Mona Lisa by giving her some big fancy Spirograph hoop earrings.

To say that I was disappointed with Spirograph would be the mother of all understatements.  It was even more disappointing than the etch-a-sketch.  Mostly because even though I was only about 6 years old, I understood the etch-a-sketch issues were due to operator error.  I knew that with time and patience, I would never turn the dial the wrong way.  The only thing disappointing about the etch-a-sketch was the ghost images.  No matter how much you tried to shake it away, there would always be that trace of past failure glaring at you.  Mocking you.  Stupid etch-a-sketch.

But compared to the etch-a-sketch, Spirograph's functionality was literally* criminal.

Spirograph was a neat idea.  A bunch of plastic template parts notched with teeth to guide other parts around.  There were several holes in the wheels that went around the stationary pieces.  The user would select a hole to stick a colored pen into and track the wheel along the other plastic piece, making intricate, beautiful colorful designs by the irregularity of the pen mark based on the hole selected for the pen.

Spirograph also came with a booklet of sample designs and the pieces you'd need.  The holes for the pen were numbered, so you could  know which one to use for a specific design.

This was my favorite part of spirograph.  The instructions.  They worked better than any of the rest of this piece of shit.

They would say something like, "For this pattern, use wheel 7 in loop B14 and hole 110."

But the problems began before pen was set to paper.  First of all, the stationary piece was to be pinned to the paper.  Yeah.  A couple of holes right next to my design.  There was a piece of cardboard that the paper would go on.  Once you got everything set just right, it was time to nudge the pen around.  But it never ever went smoothly.  There would always be a point were the wheel would skip some teeth.  I came close to perfection a few times.  Only to have the Mona Lisa's earrings ruined by a stray jagged red pen mark made from when the wheel lost its traction.

I worked at it with increasing frustration for several days.  There were piles of crumpled paper on either side of my workstation.  Mother beckoned for me to retire for the evening.

"Not until my opus is complete!" I'd scream as she cowered away from the coffee cup I'd flung in her direction.  "And don't let my cup get empty again!!" I'd shout.  Boy, I was a handful.

After days of failure, gallons of coffee and teeth yellowed from chain smoking (I was 6.  It was the 70's), I heard from the other room what was to become my emancipation.

It was a happy little song that changed my life.  It was soft at first, but grew in volume as I was tugged from my concentration to the siren call of "Lite-Brite, Makin' things with li-i-ight.  What a sight, makin' things with Lite-Brite!"

Oh yes.  We got the refills.  I made the rooster.  I made Bugs Bunny. I made Bozo the Clown.  I then created my true master work.  Free hand.  See, Lite-Brite came with blanks too.  No pattern.  Just your very own creation. Mine was a brilliant rendering of a little boy gathering all the Spirographs in the world and making a huge bonfire outside Spirograph Corporate HQ.  All the Spirograph execs were out on the lawn choking to death on the toxic fumes from the epic holocaust.  Their wives and children screaming and clawing at their own faces in utter torment.  A crowd of unruly onlookers is held at bay by police.  The crowd cheers the fall of the Spirograph execs who once stood so tall and mighty.

I'm proud to say, that particular work stands to this day next to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre or something.

* Literally no longer means literally.  The impact to our language is literally devastating.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Steel-Cut Extra: In case Barry doesn't post.

He "says" he's going to Colorado, so he may not have a blog entry this week.  I won't believe it unless I see it ...

Every time I go to Colorado, I think of the first time.  I remember the same old things.  It was the first time we had a family vacation.  Before that, my parents had left my brother and me with grandparents.  This time, we got to go with them.

It was a long drive and we were pretty young.  Dad didn’t know how we’d do in the car for the many hours of driving so he made sure our ipads tablets gameboys coloring books were ready as a distraction.

As it turned out, dad, a professional driver, was entertaining enough to keep the drive less boring.  Also, mom read to us.  I believe it was “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for one of the earlier trips.  Once, when we were a little older, she read “Amityville Horror.”  That was a wildy popular book back then on the power of its claim “Based on a True Story.”
There were a lot of books “Based on a True Story,” but this was the first time I was aware that “Based on a True Story” could also mean “Complete Bullshit.”

When mom read “Amityville Horror” to us on family vacation, we were old enough that we got a good laugh out of it.  We laughed at how stupid the Lutz’s were.  First for hanging around in a creepy house for as long as they did.  Then for claiming all that crap actually happened.
In the end, we had nothing but admiration for this brave family.  Willing to stick to their guns and swear that all that stuff really happened even though it was obviously garbage (probably what attracted all the flies).  They deserved every cent they made off that book.

But I’m jumping ahead.  On the way to Colorado the first time, dad frequently boasted about his superhuman eyesight.  When we were still about 200 miles or so from Colorado, he asked us if we could see the mountains.  We thought we could and he asked us to point them out.

“Over there on the left, I think I see one,” I said.  Steve agreed, “Yeah, I see it too.”

“Sorry boys, those are just distant clouds.  When you see the mountains, you’ll know it.  I see them right now because I have super-vision.  In fact, I can see the Colorado sign at the border.”

“There’s no sign,” we argued.

“Well, you can’t see it yet because you don’t have super-vision, but it says 'Welcome to Colorful Colorado'.  You’ll see when we get there in about 3 hours.”

He could tell we didn’t believe him so he said, “I’ll tell you what.  I can prove it.  You point out any car on the road and I’ll read the state name and motto printed on the license plate.  I know when you’ll be able to read it, so I’ll read it to you way before then to prove to you I have super-vision.”

Now dad's day job was truck driver so he knew by color or design all of the different state license plates.  He knew all of the mottoes too.  But we didn't know that.  We ended up just thinking he had super-vision.

It was amazing.  While each license plate was still a blur to us, he’d call out “Oklahoma is O.K.” or “Missouri, the show-me state.”

Once he had proved he had super-vision, he told us this joke:

So there was this guy who moved to Missouri.  He didn’t yet know that Missouri was the show-me state.  One day he went into the grocery store to get some dog food.  At the check-out counter, the clerk asked him why he needed dog food.  He thought that the clerk must be an idiot, but he told the guy he needed the dog food for his dog.  The clerk didn’t believe the guy had a dog and refused to sell the dog food to him.  He said, “If you really have a dog, ‘Show me.’ ”

So the man had to go back home and get his dog to show the clerk who then happily sold the dog food and wished the man a nice day.

The next day, the guy realized he’d forgotten to get cat food for his cat.  The same stuff from above happened (but with a cat).  "If you have a cat, 'show me.' "  

The guy began to suspect that these people in Missouri don’t believe anything without some sort of visual evidence.  

So a few days later he trudged into the grocery store holding a brown paper bag, stained dark and dripping.  He set the sloppy mess down on the counter along with some toilet paper and Pepto-Bismol.

I'm pretty sure that was the end of the joke, but I want to add the following:

The clerk looked down at the soiled counter, swallowing hard against the torrent rising from deep within his bowels.  As the clerk regained control of the internal storm, the sweat forming on his brow was replaced by a wan smile that crossed his face.  Finally, the clerk's composure returned.  He slapped the newcomer on the back and shouted, "Welcome to Missouri, son!"

Then we saw the mountains and we knew it.  They are really quite majestic.  A little later we saw the sign:

Happy Friday and thanks for reading about diarrhea in a leaky paper bag!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Hinsley Challenge

For as long as I can remember, my initial reaction to anything my dad says is that he's either mistaken or full of shit.  Sometimes, it's a little of both.  But the truth is, he usually knows what he's talking about.  Also - he's usually making up some lie just for sport.

Dad is 69 years old now and a couple of years ago, he told me of "The Hinsley Challenge."

He didn't call it that.  That's what I call it.  It is a challenge that as a Hinsley, I have no choice but to accept.

He told me that no Hinsley man ever in the history of Hinsleys has lived to the age of 75.

Not only do I doubt this is true, I doubt there would be any way to prove it without Goggling [ sic ] "Hinsley".

Challenge completed.  79, bitches!
Ok, so Sir Francis Harry Hinsley (no relation) from England or something lived past 75.  But that's obviously not what dad meant.  If I told dad this, he'd probably say something like "You little smartass.  That doesn't count because living as a Limey is no way to live."

So I should probably stick with American Hinsleys then ...


Robert B. Hinsley 1825-1905

So there's one right there.

Well dad would certainly bristle at this observation as well, "You know what I mean you little smartass.  I'm talking about our relatives.  Not ZZ Top's Grandpa (Robert B. Hinsley was from Texas).

Ok dad, but that's not what you said ...

 "Fine.  Let me change my statement so you're not confused.  No Hinsley man that is one of my direct ancestors or his brothers has ever lived to be 75.  Smartass."

Fair enough.  John Powel Hinsley - you sonofabitch.  Now granted, from everything I read, he died well before he was born (1932-1918), but I think that's just because people who do these ancestry things are stupid.  I'm not talking about the Mormons here.  I'm talking about the Hinsleys.  So calm down, JWait.

Also - I had to skim through tons of dead Hinsleys younger than 75 to find this guy.  So dad's point is starting to look valid.

John Powel Hinsley was my Great Great Great Grandfather's brother.  Since he was obviously born in 1832, he lived to be 85. He almost made it to 86.  But I'm uneasy about the "1832" assumption.  It seems reasonable, but who knows.

But honestly - Who cares about John Powel Hinsley?  What dad means by his factoid - is starting with his Grandpa Charlie, no male descendants have lived to be 75.

Charlie had 20 kids (2 wives) in his 53 years on earth.  Thirteen boys and seven girls.

Charlie was originally from Missouri (The show-me state).  He was my Great Grandpa.  His second wife, Lula Bean of Oklahoma, was my Great Grandmother.  They had 15 kids together that they know about, hardy har har.

Ok yeah - so Charlie's sons are all dead now and none of them lived to be 75.

So far - neither have any of Charlie's grandsons.  My Dad is one.  Personally, I think he's got a shot, but he doesn't seem to think so.  He sometimes acts like it's fate that he has somewhere less than 6 years left to live.

The Hinsleys also had another thing in common.  Rough lives.  Lots of drinking.  Lots of eating.  Lots of fighting.  Scant personal hygiene.

When I first heard my dad make the "Hinsley Challenge" statement, my reaction was "Don't be silly."

Of course anything could happen at any time to any of us, but some things are more likely than others.  As much as I see his challenge as nothing more than a silly superstition,  I wouldn't want to find myself in his position 20 years from now.

Telling Jack and Abe, "You know, no Hinsley man ..."

If my dad reaches that magic number (I think he will), I'm still not that excited about, "Your grandpa is the only Hinsley man to ever ..."

I don't know if I'm next in line after my dad or not.  I don't know many of my relatives.  There might be some older than me.  There probably are, but as far as I know, I'm it after dad*.  If he would just go ahead and not die for at least another 6 years, that would take a lot of pressure off of me.  Speaking of pressure.  I think I'll call him and tell him that right now.  He needs to stay alive so I don't carry that burden into my old age.  But then if I caused him so much anxiety his health deteriorated - woah - that would be ironic.

What would be cool is if I reach the age of 75 and he's still kicking. I could call him and scream into the phone at the 95 year old, "Told you dad!!!"

"Who's this?"

"It's Freddie!! I told you!!! I'm 75! I made it!  There are now twice as many of us, old man!"

"Sorry.  Who's this?  I can't hear a thing."

"What about your eyesight?  Can you still read signs from 200 miles away?"

"Smartass!"  click.

*Quiet, Jeff.  Facts will only get in the way.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

If you have to go to Kentucky, you're lost already.

Earlier this week, somewhere on Facebook or something, somebody posted a guide for commuting via bike to work.  The reason - this week or month or day is international or national or regional ride your squeaky-ass bike to work day or week or month or something.

It's hard to keep track of all of them.  In April, there was this "30 days of riding."  I only know about it because I saw several photos on the FB of people's bikes out in the weather.  These people were taking the 30 day challenge.  They'd post the photo of their bike with some comment like "Hey - I only got out for 0.27 miles because of all the wind/snow/rain, but it counts.

No, it doesn't count.  Well yeah, I mean technically, you did "ride" your "bike."  But the only reason you rode it is because you were bound by some arbitrary invention of FB to ride every day in April.

So what?

Now, this Month/Week/Day comes along and it is ride your bike to work Month/Week/Day.

Before, I continue, I'd like to say I think it's great that people are out there doing stuff to encourage the community to ride more and blah blah fuckity blah.  Yeah - I don't really give a shit if you ride or not.

I'm not saying I don't care about you, I'm just saying I don't care if you ride your bike or not.  Also - I don't care about you.

Unless there's some way to know that you were the asshole yesterday who "buzzed the tower."  That's what I call it when a Big SUV decides to go by a cyclist at around 50 MPH leaving roughly 6 inches of clearance.  This happens often.  I am rarely riding in a situation where the traffic doesn't have all kinds of room.  But these a-holes feel the need to either scare me or teach me a lesson or something.

Well congrats, a-holes.  It does scare me.  I will not be taught any lesson by a dipshit though so you're on your own there, I'm afraid.

But if you ever decide to heave your ample shanks over a top tube and go for a spin, I'd be delighted to ride with you and talk about whatever topic you desire.  Just make sure you let me know that the day before, you put me in mortal danger with your ridiculous antics.  We'll laugh and laugh about it, for sure.

I agree that the more people ride, the more it benefits me.  So that's cool.  But I didn't come here to wish and hope for a brighter bicycling future, a healthy community and a greener planet.  I came here to bitch for no reason other than it is about the easiest way to spill words onto a page.

The benefits of commuting by bike:
1) There is the fuel/money saving thing.
2) Exercise.

Did I miss any?  I don't think so.  I think that's about it.  

I will say that the experience of commuting on a peaceful route beats the crap out of any car commute where there's lots of traffic involved.  My morning drive takes me south, down 72nd street for several miles.  It's all aggressive, stupid dangerous driving.  Very stressful.

When I bike commute, it's mostly on the trail, and it's a quiet, peaceful time.  Huge difference.  I'm always in a better mood when I arrive at work by bike.

Honestly though, there are a whole bunch of good reasons not to bike commute.  They are sprinkled in with the guide I mentioned earlier and am going to skim over here in a minute.

Whatever "peacefulness" I get, the truth is I only commute by bike for one of the 2 reasons I listed above.  Exercise.  Integrating riding with my commute saves me a little time. That's why I commute when I don't have a big group ride or the weather is not wet.  I already have all the bike stuff.  I know what I'm doing.  There is not that much difference between getting ready to go on a ride or bike commuting, so that time would be spent either way.

Some people are dedicated commuters.  They ride in the rain.  They ride in the snow and ice.  These situations generally go against my reason for commuting.  Exercise.  On those days, I can get on the rollers for an hour.  Not too fun, but it suits me better.

So in the winter I can usually get in 1 or 2 commutes a week.  In the spring/summer/fall anywhere from 3 to 5, depending on what life/weather is doing.

I rode in on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  I had reasons for not riding today or Monday.  Monday, it rained.  When I ride in the rain, I end up spending more time cleaning the bike, particularly the rims and brake pads, for too long to get the time saving benefit of integrating my commute with my daily exercise.

On Tuesday, a girl that works with me at the company came up to my cube to tell me that Friday was ride your bike to work day.  I thought this was interesting because I didn't know there was a specific day.  I had only heard that this was ride your bike to work week and maybe it is ride your bike to work month.

I asked her if she was going to ride her bike to work.  She said no but that she wanted me to know so I could make sure to ride my bike to work on Friday.

I thanked her for the information.  I'm sure she will ask me on Friday if I rode my bike in and she will whine a little bit if I don't.  I'm pretty sure she will be let down if I don't ride my bike to work on Friday after she already told me that Friday was the designated day and I often ride in on unsanctioned days.

If I ride in tomorrow, she'll get some sort of credit for it.  It might be as simple as being able to have a nice Friday night dinner with friends and family.  "Pass the beans and I know a guy who rode his bike to work today ..."

Gasps of amazement will be heard 'round the dinner table.  "Tell us more about this.  Tommy, go and get the others.  Aunt Janice has a story about a guy who rode his bike to work on ride your bike to work day."

But it looks like I took tomorrow off to prepare for a huge party we're having at 4PM Saturday.  Come on over.  It'll be a blast.  Seriously.  It's my daughter's graduation from college party.  What?  You didn't know that's a thing?  Well it is, so get your ass over here and enjoy some pulled pork.

Anyway - the bike commute guide I've been mentioning is here:

This is a link to the FB post I read earlier this week.  I couldn't find the original FB post, so I went searching "Goggle" [sic] for it and found it had been lifted from Louisville Kentucky dot gov.

It is intended as an answer to the many excuses people have for not commuting by bike.  Unfortunately, the excuses are better than the answers.  I don't want to go through the whole thing, but I'll list a few examples (with my bulleted comments added in red) from the guide.  Notably, every objection can be better answered with a careful application of the 'V'.  For Munson:  "The V" = "Harden the Fuck Up":

I ’m out of shape
  • Ride at an easy pace; in a few months you will be in great shape.
  • No - you will not be in great shape from a few months of easy riding.  That is known as a Kentucky lie.
It takes too long
  • The average commuter travels at 10 mph; the more you ride, the faster you will become.
  • Trips of less than three miles will be quicker by bike.
  • So let's see.  You live 2.5 miles from work and it takes you more than 15 Minutes to drive there.  This statement is known in Kentucky as a lie.  
It’s too far
  • Try riding to work and taking mass transit home, then alternating the next day.
  • Combine riding and mass transit to shorten your commute.
  • Ride to a coworker’s house and carpool to work.
  • Hey Bob - I'm getting into shape during ride your bike to work week.  Will you please give my sweaty ass a ride to work?  I'll just leave my bike here.
It’s raining
  • Fenders for your bike and raingear for your body will keep you dry.
  • If you are at work, take transit or carpool to get home; ride home the next day.
  • Take transit or drive if you don’t have the gear to ride comfortably in the rain.
  • I love the third one:  "We don't know.  Just fucking drive or something if it's raining."  This is exactly not answering an excuse.
The roads aren’t safe
  • Obey traffic signs, ride on the right, signal turns, and stop at lights.
  • Wear bright clothing.
  • You are at no greater risk than driving a car.
  • And by "no greater risk"  we mean to say, It's "opposite day" in Kentucky.
One final thought on all of this.  Honestly, I don't take the time to analyze why I love to ride so much.  When it comes down to it, I guess it's all the prize money I get.

Last March, I came in second place in a race.  I think it cost $25 to enter the race.  I probably spent many thousand dollars (directly and indirectly) to get to the fitness and the gear I needed for the race.  A couple of days ago, this arrived in the mail.  It only took it about 7 weeks to get here, but now I know what it's all for:

I have to get paid, as the kids used to say.

Finally - if you want the real answers to the Kentucky's bike commuter excuse list, here they are...
I ’m out of shape
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
It takes too long
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
It’s too far
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
No bike parking
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
My bike is beat up
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
No showers
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
I have to dress up
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
It’s raining
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
The roads aren’t safe
  • Harden The Fuck Up.
I have to run errands
  • Harden The Fuck Up.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

charlie the perv

I've recently learned that someone I know is into child pornography.  As sickening as that is, I realized that it made sense in a way.  I was shocked when I accidentally found out.  A couple of moments later, I realized that this is a person that I've despised for a long time, but didn't know why.  Some people just give you the creeps.

I'm not ready to openly talk about this guy.  I've already written all about it, but the time is not right.

I will talk about my own brush with a pedophile.

I was 6 years old.  There was a very nice old man who lived across the street.  His name was Charlie.  He's dead now.  Well, either that or he's 120 years old.

Anyway, all the neighbor kids would play in Charlie's yard.  It was a huge downhill from his house to the street.  We would often climb the stairs to near his house and roll down his hill.  Great fun.  

And old Charlie was the nicest old man.  He always was friendly and gave us treats.  He was never grumpy like all the other old men.  He let us play in his yard for God's sake!

Everybody.  Say Perrrrrrrrrv!
Charlie's house is straight across from this porch.  It can't be seen in this photo, but that's where it was.

So my sister was not born yet.  She was on the way and we were going to move.  The duplex would not be big enough.  Dad was ready to buy a house.  Everybody in the neighborhood knew we were moving.

One day, old Charlie called to me while I was playing in his yard.  He was so friendly.  There was nobody else around.  He said he wanted to tell me something.  Ok, I thought.  He said I should come into his house.  I had never been into his house, but I figured he wanted to give me a present or something.  I went in.

Once I got inside, he said we had to go down into the basement for what he wanted to tell me.  I thought it was weird, and was a little scared, but it was Charlie.  I followed him onto the basement.

Once we got downstairs, he led me to an old chair next to the furnace at the far end.  He sat in the chair and told me to sit on his lap.

I sat on his lap and we were both facing the same direction.  He started telling me how I was such a good boy and he was going to miss me once I moved.  He put his arms around my chest and squeezed me to his.  I had no idea what a boner was, but he had one.  He was squeezing my butt and legs between his legs.  

I knew something was wrong.  I said my dad was going to take me fishing.  At that, he must have remembered who my dad was.  Most dads, upon hearing what had just happened would have promptly gone over and killed Charlie.  My dad was way worse than most dads.  

Charlie released me and said goodbye.  Innocent enough.  That was his cleverness.  Nothing could be proved and it was good old charlie.

To me, what's crazy about this is how simply a child could be abducted.  A trusted neighbor can snatch a little kid just like that.  If Charlie had decided to keep me, there's nothing anybody could have done about it.  I would have just disappeared.  Maybe.

Maybe, he'd have been discovered.  Maybe not.  I like to think I'd have been rescued, but who knows.  For whatever reason, Charlie decided not to follow through with whatever he had planned that day.  I could actually feel the shift. When he changed his mind and returned to humanity and let me go.  He sat in the chair as I bolted from his house, ashamed that I had done something terribly stupid.

When I got outside, there was still nobody around.  I went home.  Mom said she'd been looking for me.  I sat on the floor in front of the television and watched my favorite show - Bewitched - while mom finished up the ironing.  All in all, not a bad day.

Edit: Some additional thoughts/revelations ...

Before finding out about that guy I know who's into child pornography, I only thought of people who hurt children as non people who should without prejudice, be dispatched immediately to the other side.

Now - After considering this for a while - I think "Monster" is appropriate.  Monster has a feeling that the person is not entirely in control of their actions, which I believe.

I think any action taken against the monster should be with the goal of protecting the children.

On the way into work today, I was thinking how easily children believe in monsters.  I was realizing this potentially plays a role in protecting them.  What is a Monster if not some overpowering force that acts based on it's twisted nature.  Yeah - pervs are monsters.

Also - true story:  When I was little, I thought the song "This old man, he played one ..." was literally about Charlie. I thought "this old man came rolling home" referred to the big hill out in front of his house that we always used to roll down.

Later I thought I knew what "played knick-knack on my knee" was ...

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Brigadier General George Barkington III

Earlier this evening, I was sitting at my desk trying to figure out what to write.  This happens once a week.  Every week.  Well, not every week.  Sometimes I actually have an idea of what to say before the deadline.  Sometimes the whole thing is written before Thursday.

A few days ago, Rafal posted to his blog.  It was a good read and you should check it out.  He seems like a different person when he writes than when you talk to him - or rather listen to him - or rather get berated by him on the Facebook.

One thing he talked about was how quiet he noticed a lot of cyclists were during this Trans Iowa thing last weekend.  He said that if they just wanted to look down and be quiet, fine.  But they should know that Rafal's going to blab about any stupid little thing that comes to his mind.

Then I realized, he rides like I blog.  And vice versa, or something.

So I was sitting here looking around for some inspiration.  I thought maybe I should just call somebody and start shooting the breeze.  A story would come to my mind in the process and I could write that down after I got off the phone.

That's when I looked over to the book shelf and saw good ol' Brigadier General George Barkington III.

Brigadier General George Barkington III is a ceramic bust of a highly decorated vet.  Well it's a battery powered clock embedded into the "sculpture."

If you've ever been to Tuesday Morning, you probably know where he came from.  Now all you need to know is why.

Every Christmas, Jill's side of the family does a white elephant sort of gift exchange.  There are 7 brothers and sisters in Jill's family.  The number of siblings in the room determines how loud they are.  The noise level of any room they occupy doubles for every additional sibling.  Really.

noise = 2^(n-1) where n is the number of people.  So it is exactly 32 times louder when they are all there than if it is just 2 of them (which is also loud).

Jill's brothers and sisters exclusively marry "listeners"  so it works out.  When it is just them in a room and no spouses, they are all talking at once.  The volume ever increasing with the belief that if someone can't hear you, louder is the answer.

Generally speaking, they are all extremely competitive.  And not just in one particular discipline.  Everything is a contest.

Including the white elephant gift exchange.  Every year, after the dinner and sitting around for a while, it's time for the 45 minute explanation of the rules of the gift exchange. There are arguments.  Rules are amended and decided upon.

Oh yeah, and there's lots and lots of shouting.

I never bother to pay any attention to the rules.  This certainly seems foolish to Jill's family, because I may miss out on some white elephant windfall due to poor strategy.

Generally - it works like this:  We draw numbers.  Number "1" opens the gift of his choice.  Number "2" can take Number 1's gift or choose from the pile.  Number 3 can choose 1 or 2's or open a new one, and so on.  At the end, Number 1 can basically take any gift.  If somebody steals your gift, you open a different gift.

There might be other rules and limitations, but that's the basic idea.

But the clear winner of Christmas is not the one who ends up with the most coveted gift.  It is the person who brought that gift.

About 2 months before Christmas last year, Jill came home from Tuesday Morning knowing she was going to win this year.  She knows her family and how they'd fight over something as silly as this ceramic dog clock.

It wasn't even fair.

Sadly, Jill was sick on Christmas and unable to see the hilarity.  I called her during the height of the pandemonium so she could at least hear the reaction to Brigadier General George Barkington III.  She was not at all surprised that her family had already named the dog.

"I knew it," was all she said, listening to the cries of "Cheat!"  or "I'm getting that goddamn dog!"

The Dog clock was about the second of the gifts to be opened and it was stolen time and time again.  Side deals were  made.  Alliances were formed and there was double crossing everywhere.  In the end, the coordinated effort of a family of 4 with 3 entries was able to muscle the dog from the others.

An arbitrator was called in to verify that the winners did indeed have a valid claim to the statue.

A pair of brothers who share an apartment ended up with the statue.  I ended up with a case of a variety of beers (Jill wasn't there, remember).

The funniest thing about all of it was the Dog Clock's name.  It was sort of spawned from the melee of voices that make up any gathering of Jill's family.  A clear loud deep voice rose from the crowd to dub it, "Brigadier General George Barkington III"

After we all got done laughing, we knew it was the dog's name.

So how is it that it is sitting over there on the bookshelf?

About two days after Jill bought it, she realized she liked it so much she had to have one for herself.

So we got one too, but even though it is an exact replica of the other one, it somehow feels like a cheap imitation.  It would be the same if we'd wrapped this one and kept the other.

Kind of like buying trophies.  Looks nice on the shelf, but you didn't really win it, did you cheater?

Also - I almost forgot.  In case you're not convinced how cool this statue is, check out the styling ponytail ...