September 30, 2005

It seems that writing is not my greatest skill. I am probably the last person on earth (counting only those who have read my writing) to realize this. I realized it rather suddenly only about ten minutes ago. How could it have taken so long?

When I refer to writing I am not talking about the mundane things like grammar and punctuation, nor the archaic art of penmanship (which I failed constantly all through grade school), but of the actual writing part of it. I can have a story in my head and see it happening in vivid detail, then type out the most bland 20 pages you have ever read when I try to describe it. If I were to tell the story verbally I am sure that I could get it all out there and make other people see the vision that I see, yet writing doesn’t seem to condone lines like “Oh yeah, he also had a horn growing out of his left shoulder”. In my rush to get the idea down onto paper (monitor) I usually miss a lot of the stuff that made the story seem so great. While it should be possible to just throw down an outline of the ideas with quick notes about what has been omitted, then add to the outline as I try to work it into a story, I simply am not capable of doing it.

I have a file drawer full of short stories (quite literally, there are hundreds of them, alphabetized and everything) that I wrote a long time ago. Out of the hundreds of stories I have there there are about four or five (that I can clearly remember) that I thought had a good enough story, and interesting enough characters to try to make into a workable novel (I also have a couple of novels in that same drawer, they are absolute garbage that I should have destroyed long ago). I began trying to do that with one of the stories a couple of months ago.

I never told anyone that I was doing it, I just started typing. I had my outline pretty well set within a week or two. The characters were interesting, the story was involving, it was all in place. It was probably a month ago that I actually started to write the story itself, and it was going really well, for a while…

No sooner than I had the characters introduced and the plot started to happen, I completely lost my writing ability. I didn’t know that at the time though, since that was several weeks ago. I did read what I had written the previous day to get me back into the scene to start writing the next day, but I had never read it from the beginning to where I was currently until tonight. It was absolute shit. 132 pages of absolute shit. I wouldn’t have read past the first ten were it not my own work, I have doubts that anyone else would have gotten that far. My first thought was to try to rewrite the sections that didn’t seem to ‘flow’, but the whole damn thing didn’t flow. IT. WAS. SHIT. I sighed pretty hard as I deleted the file, a bit harder as I emptied the trash can, possibly less hard as I deleted recently viewed files, then pretty hard again as I realized that I may not be meant to be a writer. I haven’t formatted my hard drive yet (what a head ache), so technically I could still get the story back if I wanted to, yet I know I never will. Perhaps I will take another shot at this ‘writing’ thing in a few more years, by then I might be better?

I really should have listened to the teachers in school when they told me that I would never be a writer. The consensus seemed to be that I could make an excellent Mathematician, just not a writer. Why is it that the one thing I really want to do, the one thing that I would be happy doing, is locked away by my inability to do it? That is actually an easy question to answer: I am really good at math, I really suck at writing.

Self deprecation may not be the best way to drive traffic to my site though, so I must mention that I will probably start to write some more of those Arthur Witles stories now that I realize that it may be the best I can do. Also it is pretty fun to write about him since the stories are short and I do love the little guy.

The days blur by

I know that, many times in the past, I have mentioned that my father died on Christmas Eve in 1990. I have also mentioned that he was only 38 years old when he died. Of course since I was only 16 at the time, 38 seemed older than dirt. I guess it takes you a lot of years to realize that you weren’t really an adult when you were 16, it did for me at least.

I remember looking at my dad in the weeks leading up to his death, the death was totally unexpected and doesn’t have any actual bearing on my memories. I can remember that, in my sixteen year old eyes, he really looked old. He had the crow’s feet around his eyes, lots of gray hair, his skin was becoming leathery, he just looked old to my sixteen year old eyes. 38 is well over the hill to a child of 16.

Now that it is 2005, a full fifteen years after dad died, I am thinking that maybe he wasn’t as old as I really thought he was. The fact that I am 31 years old might play into that a bit. Now that I have three decades behind me, I find it pretty tough to think of anyone in their 30’s as old. I don’t think that anyone else who hits their 30’s would have a different opinion on that; 30 seems extremely old when you are a decade away from it. When you hit that 30 year old milestone it doesn’t seem so old anymore.

I still look into the mirror and think that I have looked exactly the same since High School, which is an absurd thought. My hair is turning to a magnificent silver color (one at a time), my skin is darker and far dryer than it was back then, my eyes are sinking (ever so slowly) into my skull, my skin knows exactly where to go when I laugh, thus creating lines on my face when I do so. Yes, it seems that 30 something might not be that old at all, also I should give up on the notion that I haven’t changed in appearance since High school.

I am reminded of the time when the child of one of our neighbor’s, who was mentally retarded, gave me some advice. I had just gotten my first pimple (one of many to come), and thought it was the end of the world. He (the mentally retarded, 20ish guy) said to me, “just wait until you turn 18 and go through puberty”. I didn’t laugh at him since I knew that he was mentally challenged, but I did question his logic (though not verbally). So, you turn 18 and you instantly have a full beard and pubic hair? That seemed pretty foolish, even to my 13 year old self (of course my grammar school actually taught sex education, if your parents were willing to sign the form).

Puberty is a process that takes years to get through, not like a race where there is only one clear winner. Everyone goes through puberty and it certainly doesn’t happen all at once on your 18th birthday. The same is true for the aging process. You don’t just wake up one day and look like you are 80, it takes years of trials, failures, successes and losses to get to that age. Every success, every loss, every trial, every failure, will mark you in some way. The mental aspects will better prepare you for the next trial, while the physical aspects will add creases to your skin (laugh lines if you have done well, wrinkles if you haven’t). Life, it seems, is a process.

Hidden away, in the back bedroom which we never use, I have a photo with my father in it. The photo shows my father and all of his siblings posing for the camera as a Christmas gift to their mother. Their mother has long since died (and I couldn’t make it to her funeral). I believe the picture was taken in about 1989, and every single person in the photo looks young, vibrant and about to tackle the world. None more so than my dad. He looks downright young in that photo. Out of the eight children in that photo, a few went on to tackle the world and become extremely successful, a few went on to become housewives to successful men (some of which have their own careers by now), one had a horrible stroke that made him basically an invalid (since his career was playing the guitar and singing), and then there is my dad, who died far too young.

38 years just doesn’t seem like infinity anymore.

When I look at that photo, hidden away in the guest bedroom, and look at my father’s face, I now know that he was only just a child when he died. 38 years on this earth is simply not enough time. Whatever evil he did in his life simply doesn’t justify him having to be eliminated from the earth at such a young age.

As the days blur by ( sort of like watching your life on camera, yet it is what is happening now) I often think about my dad. I bet the days blurred by for him just as they do for me. The childhood antics are lost to a dresser drawer somewhere, the proof of the antics is eventually traded or lost. The man that I thought was more powerful than THOR is reduced to a rapidly fading memory, a memory which can only be kept alive by the occasional glance at that photo, hidden away in the back bedroom. Eventually that photo will come down and I will be left with nothing but my memories, memories which are 15 years old already and certainly not getting any clearer.

Twenty years from now I doubt that there will be anyone who can remember my father at all. He will fade into the great oblivion. His life will have been no more than a speck on the windshield of time. He, and all of his siblings, will eventually be completely forgotten. While I have the one photo to look at, most others do not.

As my father is slowly, and systematically, forgotten about, I am left to wonder how the days blur by so fast. I will suffer the same fate as my father (hopefully some years from now), but I, too, will simply disappear into nothingness. I may be remembered for a few years, a dozen at best, but, eventually, everyone will completely forget that I ever existed.

While it would be quite noble to say that, on my death bed, I wished for world peace, the reality is that on my death bed I would be far more likely to wish/pray that I wasn’t going to die.

The days do blur by, try to take note of them as they do. You are never going to get this chance again.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

My wife had a pair of free movie tickets that had to be used by end of September so we went to see a movie today. While we had decided that we were going to watch The Corpse Bride Which is getting far better reviews than I would have expected, it turns out that the free tickets wouldn’t get us into that movie since it is still considered a “limited engagement”. My second choice was the latest Jodie Foster movie, something to do with an airplane, that would have been nixed anyway since “limited engagement” seems to mean that the tickets will only work on films that are not likely to sell out. I think opening weekend of anything would definitely be out of the question for the purposes of the free movie passes.

As we stood at the window wondering what to do next, since I think we both realized that my second choice wouldn’t be available to us either, my wife asked the woman what else was playing around noon. There were lots of films playing, most of which either my wife or myself just absolutely didn’t want to see. I offered to pony up the cash to watch the movie we had gone to see in the first place, but the wife insisted that we use the free tickets. So we saw The 40 Year Old Virgin today. Oddly, I had tried to get her to go see this movie last weekend but she didn’t want to (she also didn’t want to ge see Cry Wolf, which I would like to see), but when free tickets are at stake sacrifices must be made. We had made it to the theatre a half hour before the movie we planned to see started, but since we had to change the movie we were a good forty-five minutes early. That is a boring forty-five minutes.

I hesitate to call anything I write a review so I will simply say that this is what I thought of the film. First off I was pretty grumpy after having to choose a different movie and wait damn near an hour for it to start. I got over that very quickly.

This movie is just so damn funny that you really can’t be in a bad mood while you watch it. The very first scene had everyone in the room laughing out loud, myself included, and it just kept going from there. There was a lot of potty humor, which blended nicely with the more romantic side of it to keep it all flowing. There was a point about an hour into it that it just crapped out for twenty minutes or so (the humor left completely and made it seem like a Harlequin novel), other than that it would be pretty hard to complain about anything in it. There are some of the best one-liners I have ever heard, some of the best situational comedy I have ever seen, the characters all had very distinct personalities and, most importantly, the characters seemed very real, albeit a bit stereotyped. I know people who act like the majority of the primary actors, as most probably do, and that just made it even better.

I went into the theatre expecting to see a movie that was all about the sexual mis-encounters of a guy who happened to be 40. I assumed that it would be a bunch of low brow humor that would not be appreciated by the fairer sex, yet, since most of the women in the audience were laughing just as often as the men (often at different jokes) it went well beyond that assumption. The fact that it had an actual story line, not to mention an actual love story, was simply beyond (my) belief. If I had a rating system I would give this one 5 beer cans (the very best) but subtract half of a beer can for the dull part in the middle. Still 4.5 out of 5 beer cans is pretty good.

Now for a few spoilers

The opening scene shows the main character with an erection when he wakes up in the morning. As he reaches the toilet he has to bend further and further until you finally hear the sound of the pee hitting the water in the bowl. That is something that every man can totally identify with, though it likely isn’t still happening by the time you are in your forties. When I was a teen I used to take my bath towel into the bedroom with me when I went to bed, not so that I could masturbate though. I just wanted to have something to hold in front of me on my trek to the bathroom the next morning, as my penis seemed to think it was playing a game called “point at the chin”.

The condom scene is simply hilarious. The condom is not really a complicated device. In fact I learned how to use one all on my own, because I didn’t want to have to start the learning process while in the presence of a naked, horny woman. I don’t know how he ended up with a condom on his toe, nor why he covered his entire arm with one, or what the hell he was trying to do when he blew one up before trying to put it on, but that was funny stuff. When the teen boy walks into the room, sees the pile of condom packages, sees the guy pull a condom off of his toe, then says, “Teach me.” I nearly split my gut with laughter.

The movie is just damn funny. If you haven’t seen it, and you like comedy, you should rush out to see it. Keep in mind there is a lot of nudity (well not really a lot, but it does show a couple of scenes from actual porn movies, but they are fast forwarded through and you only see boobs).

Good, good stuff.

Cheating death: my favorite sport

It seems to me that there really must be a God or something. I have recounted several stories over the last couple of years where I did something so monumentally stupid that it would and should have been ruled suicide, except I lived (thus proving the existence of God. There has to be someone out there keeping me alive even though I clearly want to die, right? Stupid God and his stupid keeping me alive all the time!). Today is more of the same.

Imagine, if you can, a ladder leaning against a wall (come on imagine it). Now imagine standing on that ladder about ten feet up. Then imagine that while you are facing one wall you have to work on a device that is not only on the left side of the ladder but, also a couple of feet behind you. I would have loved to have leaned the ladder against what I was working on, but I had to pull a portion of the thing out which required that I have at least 8 inches of space between the ladder and the device. Can’t get that kind of space when the ladder is actually leaning against what I am trying to pull out. I’ll just say that it is always an awkward position to be in (since I do have to remove the same piece several times every year).

So ten feet in the air, reaching a couple of feet behind me with my left arm, turned sideways on the ladder, the damn thing got stuck and I couldn’t break it free. I shook at it vigorously with both hands, still ten feet in the air, still on the ladder. I finally got it loose, but it weighed a lot more than it usually does; normally it goes four or five pounds, this time it was at least 35 or 40 pounds. No matter, it was removed. The problem was that while I normally leave the thing on a board near the ladder while I do the repairs, that action requires me to fully extend my left arm and lift it above shoulder level, while holding the heavy piece and actually leaning back, all while on the ladder. I didn’t sit down with a pen and paper to do any calculations, but I am pretty sure that the 40 pound weight, leaning back on the ladder, and the fact that my other hand would also not be secured to anything would have likely resulted in me falling. Instead I lowered the thing to the ground, one ladder rung at a time.

The reaper went quickly. In fact the actual repair took far less time than getting to the part that needed repaired in the first place. But I still had to put that damn piece back in…

Now I know that 35 or 40 pounds isn’t much of a burden, even as awkward and cumbersome as this one is shaped, but it is damn tough to get the thing up a ladder and back into place when that place is two feet behind you on the left. Also, the thing is over two feet wide and just under three feet tall, and it has to go in bottom first. There is simply no way to do it without letting go of the ladder completely and leaning back a little (which was fine back when the thing only weighed five pounds), which is some scary shit. It turns out that when I try to extend my left arm completely, and try to lift a 40 pound load to above the shoulder, I am just not capable of doing it. The object was resting against the wall (the wall that the ladder was leaning against) which kept me from using my right hand to help move it, since the right arm would have had to go behind the ladder to do so; one arm on each side of the ladder (straddling it) is not going to give me the distance to put the thing in place. So I used a leg instead.

Ten feet in the air, sideways, on a ladder, I used me left leg to try to help me hold the thing up, all the while using my left arm to try to get it two feet behind me (well to my left side at this point since I was actually standing sideways on the ladder). I got the left side to the correct position, but my leg couldn’t force the right side of it up, so I had let go of the ladder with my right hand to lift that side. Yeah, ten feet up a ladder, holding a load with my left and right hands, as well as my left leg, while standing sideways on that narrow rung, what could possibly go wrong?

Sure lots of things could have gone wrong, but the only thing that did go wrong was that I lost hold of the right side and it started to fall. That shouldn’t have been such a bad thing, since my leg was still holding it up and all. Problem was that the thing was no longer touching my leg. That meant that it was going to swing like a pendulum, hit my leg and knock me clean off the ladder (that damn inertia!). Second possibility was that, since it was already in place on the left side, it was going to fall straight back into me and knock me off the ladder (that damn inertia!). I had to stop it from falling, which I did. Unfortunately, since it had just slipped from my hand, and since I was on the ladder, which doesn’t lend itself to evasive movement with the legs, I had to stop it with the only thing I had available: My own flesh.

Thankfully all of this happened in a fraction of a second. I say thankfully because that meant it hadn’t picked up much momentum yet. All I could do was tense the muscles in my right arm and hope that the jagged, rusted corner didn’t cut too deep when it hit. Ouch.

It fell about four inches before I got my arm into it. This is evidenced by the wonderful cut on the inside of my right arm. The cut is only about an inch and a half long, going from barely a scratch at the beginning to fairly deep at the end. It bled like you wouldn’t believe. I immediately put alcohol on the wound, that was a rusty piece of metal that cut me after all. It took almost two hours to get the deepest part of the wound to stop bleeding, that was long after the majority of it had scabbed over. I did get the damn piece back where it went though!

Let this be a lesson to me: Quit standing ten feet up on ladders, with no hands and only one foot, turned sideways, lifting 40 pounds, and trying to place it behind you. It is probably bad news.
That was my experience, YMMV.

Jumping the shark

I guess I am going to have to show my age a bit for the purposes of this post. It is all about Jumping the Shark. I have always assumed that the phrase came from that episode of Happy Days where Fonzie, quite literally, jumps a shark (I think there was more than one shark actually). The miracle of the internet, as well as the endless information at Wikipedia, seem to prove me right.

However, there is a site called (I linked directly to the Happy Days page since they use a horrible frame format that makes it tough to find anything) that has hundreds of people arguing that the show jumped the shark long before the actual shark jumping episode. That got me to thinking…

Do you remember the theme song? I do, but I remember two different theme songs. A quick google search found me a page that has they lyrics to the theme song, both of them actually, you can see that here.

How in the hell can I remember the theme song that plays during the first season when I was actually born that same year? I have never watched it on Nick at Night or any other old re-run station. Did they actually repeat the episodes that often back in the 1970’s that I am able to remember both of the theme songs? I don’t know, it just seems odd to me that I can remember a theme song that would have only been on the show for less than a year when I would have been less than a year old. In fact it took me a lot of thinking, and the eventual google search, to remember the other theme song, which then came back immediately, come on sing along, “Sunday, Monday. Happy Days. Tuesday, Wednesday. Happy Days. Thursday, Friday. Happy Days. The weekend comes…” But why do I also remember the “one, two, three o clock, four o clock rock…”, and remember it more so than the other theme (the other theme being the one that was on the show for the majority of the show’s run)?

I am thinking that, no matter how small my little brain was at the time, I thought the show started to slide down the slippery slope to crap long before the Fonz literally jumped over the shark. If I remembered any of the episodes with the theme song that played for about nine years I would probably think differently, but come on. I remember the theme song that was scrapped about the same time as my birth, I remember the episodes that were recorded the year of my birth. I must concur that Happy Days jumped the shark long before the shark jumping episode.

I probably didn’t see any episode prior to 1981 or so that was not a re-run, but, in my mind, the ones that have that classic song as the theme are far superior to any of the later ones. That all being said, Happy Days literally jumped the shark, for that we should applaud them. It must have taken a lot of balls to throw away such a lucrative franchise over, arguably, the most implausible plot line in the history of television. If Happy Days hadn’t jumped the shark, we might refer to this action as kicking Chrissy.

Truth in advertising

This bitch is pretty specific. Car insurance companies seem to be getting away with the worst false advertising ever, unless you count the “Employee Pricing for Everyone” programs that every car dealer is now using.

I will even get a bit more specific: The company is Allstate. They are running commercial ads that say that you can save ( I forget the exact number ) $300 dollars a year by switching to them. I was intrigued. How can that be true? It took watching the commercial a couple of dozen times before I figured out exactly how they were making that claim; they are flat-out lying.

At the very bottom of the screen, and only when they make the claim of the “average savings”, there comes up a little line (and I mean tiny) that says, “Savings claim based on customers who reported saving when switching to Allstate.” Okay, that sucks. Where are the real numbers? They can actually claim that the “average savings” was whatever when that only counts the people who saved money? Shouldn’t they have to follow that up with another line about how for others they were paying an average of $700 more? At least then you could add up the numbers and do the math yourself.

I am really thinking that their claim might not have been legal. I am thinking that only because the most recent commercial that I saw doesn’t say anything about the “average savings”, instead it says that “for many, they actually saved money by switching to Allstate.” That isn’t much better though, who defines many? One is a person, two is a pair, three is a few, so any group of four or more could be many, right? (that would explain how they could save so much money by switching to the highest priced auto insurance in the country though, just take four people who have recently sent their children away to school, knock off the money for that and the fact that they are middle-aged, Boom, big savings.) The claim is clearly false, but big business has never let that stop them from telling mistruths before and it’s not likely they are going to start now.

Sometimes I really wish that I could be a religious man (I would pray for it but it doesn’t seem to work) just so I could see the lawyers, used car dealers, the majority of the priests, insurance salesmen and about 99.8% of the corporate hierarchy in the U.S. sizzling away in Hell. Of course wishing them harm would be a sin wouldn’t it? That is why I am not religious; I want to see them all burn in hell for their deeds, but I don’t want to burn in hell for wanting them to burn in hell. Damn it! I just figured out how religion works. It is sort of like high school. You don’t have to be the best, or the brightest, or the most attractive, no, you just have to find someone that is worse than you and strive to be better than him/her. Then you really have to believe that since Jimmy just killed a cat down the street, you are one step closer to God. If Father J molests 32 children and God will still have him, and you only molest 31, you are so in!

I think I might have gone a bit off topic there. The point that I was trying to get to, yet never did, is about the legality of the claims car insurance companies make. Whether or not they put enough disclaimers (and if they are “disclaimers”, meaning that they are opposite to what they are claiming to be the facts, why do they print it so small?) in the ad to make it legal, it is still not ethical. No one would ever buy a car from someone that they knew was a rip-off artist, but that is what you get when you buy car insurance from any company.

Is it really not possible to make legal and ethical both mean about the same thing? I don’t mean that in a What would Jesus do kind of way, I am merely speculating that most people don’t like to be ripped off. I guess the whole ethical idea is flawed anyway, since they did mention something pretty similar to that in the bible, it was something about treating others as you would be treated. Hell, honestly now, “treat others as you wish to be treated” could have made up the majority of the U.S. constitution. Many of the amendments are necessary as well since I believe that if you are a human you have the same rights as me, regardless of gender, color, religious affiliation and the such.

Perhaps the constitution could read, simply, “Don’t cheat me and you won’t get shot.” Probably wouldn’t take the High Court long to figure out what that meant.

This post has been on a ‘stream of consciousness (arguably)’ mode for a while now. I remember that I hate car insurance companies so I will end with that. I hate car insurance companies!

Guild Wars again

I haven’t actually played Guild Wars very much since I purchased it, there is no particular reason for that. There were no pressing time/schedule issues that would have kept me from playing it, no ultimatims from the significant other, I just hadn’t been playing it much. I am pretty sure that the reason I hadn’t been playing it much is that it is one of those games where it takes me a good half an hour to remember my skill keys (for each character) and even longer to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing the last time I quit playing. Guild Wars solved that all, damn it.

Guild Wars now has a slick new mission interface that tells you every quest that you have started in any town, listed immediately under a big old town heading. Hard to say you don’t know where you need to go when it tells you which town to go to, then goes further to tell you exactly what you have to do once you leave that town. Still, it doesn’t tell you exactly how to use your spells/skills, but they are easy enough to figure out during the first few minutes of play each time. Not that you really have to learn how to use them, more that you assign different skills to different hot keys based on your character; It would suck to cast a fireball spell when you meant to cast a heal party spell, if you know what I mean.

My wife has gotten into the game far more than I have. Not to the point that she is getting into some sort of weird cosplay fetish (though that might be cool, come to think of it), but she does love to beat those baddies up. We actually tried to start brand new characters ( a couple of months ago) that would play exclusively together, but that idea all went to shit when neither of us was happy with starting at the bottom when we both had characters that could kill everything on the screen without a thought (her characters more so than mine). Today, however, we finally managed to get the game going.

The game starts out with little quests; Wander just south of the city to find my lost ‘x’ and bring it back for reward ‘y’. There are hundreds of those little quests as you wander through the towns. You don’t have to do them but you will end up with better weapons and armor if you do. The game also has ‘missions’. The mission is something that is supposed to move you from one zone to the next. You do the missions to open up new quests basically. You really have to do the missions though, cause at some point you will no longer get any experience doing the quests in the previous area. The missions are a good thing.

The missions can also be done solo at lower levels, though they will require a damn good group of people at higher levels. You could do the missions solo at higher levels, but that would require the A.I. of your helpers to be unbelievably high, I.Q. of 32 or so. That might sound low but if you were the programmer, and you tried to think of every stupid move someone might try to make, and then someone tried to make all of those moves -I’ll call him Jimmy-, you then have to try to account for the best and worst possible move in any situation. The A.I. can only be so smart. The A.I. in Guild Wars is pretty damn good, but sometimes you end up with your mercenary stuck in a corner beating up the air that he breathes.

I ended up playing a bit of Guild Wars with my wife tonight. My wife’s character was 12 levels higher than me, and I had already done the stupid mission in the first place, but it was pretty damn fun to have her playing there with me. Guild Wars is bringing husband and wife together.

Go Guild Wars!

The things people say

I have long believed that the only ones who actually listen to shows like Rush Limbaugh are far removed from me. I don’t mean in a partisan sense or simply based on ideology, I mean that I thought that those kinds of people lived in other regions of the U.S., regions far from here. Rush Limbaugh is only the first name that came to mind when I was trying to think of the very conservative radio shows, I am sure there are dozens of other names that I could have thrown out there had I been thinking about it. Not that it really matters for my purposes right now.

Hurricane Katrina was a horrible disaster that destroyed a major city. The same kind of devastation happens overseas fairly frequently but here in the good old us of a it’s pretty rare. Turns out that when it does happen we are woefully unprepared. For days before the hurricane actually touched shore it was common knowledge that it was going to be bad. I live in Arizona FFS and I knew it was going to be bad. When it hit, and when they got one of the worst case scenarios, everything went to hell.

Most of the people had already abandoned the city. The elderly, the poor, and the 24 hour convenience store clerks (which kind of fits into the last group) were probably about the only ones who didn’t flee. Why didn’t they flee? They couldn’t. People started offering up shelter for the victims by the thousands after the hurricane, before it though they would have just had to hike out of town and find a vacant lot to sleep in, hoping they could survive the storm in a vacant lot rather than their low-income housing unit. If I had been in that situation I would have hoped that the flood waters didn’t make it to my house, the other option seems a bit worse. I really doubt that the majority of the people who didn’t flee stayed back because they were stupid or stubborn. Poor probably but not stupid or stubborn.

The negligence of every agency charged with responding to disasters borders on criminal. From the City level all the way to the Federal level. There is simply no reason why it should have taken several days to get buses in there to start moving people out, why Wal-Mart (how I despise them) was the first on the scene with fresh water, water for christ’s sake, didn’t anyone other than Wal-Mart think that a city many feet deep in sewage and human remains might need fresh water? The response to this catastrophe was horrible at every level, I think that is a fair statement.

Today I overheard a conversation where I work, it was not pleasant. The man, whom I will call Cluelss, was talking to well, hell, I don’t know who he was talking to (the other person was behind me). Clueless started spouting some facts about the hurricane relief. “Bush had the National Guard on the borders of Louisiana on Sunday night. When they tried to get into New Orleans on Monday the residents were already shooting at them.” Only he didn’t say residents, he dropped the N-bomb, thus sealing his fate as being called clueless for my purposes. His racism aside though, does he really believe that? If the National Guard actually got to New Orleans on Monday, and if people started shooting at them, don’t you think it would have been pretty big news? The National Guard probably just wouldn’t have turned tail and run, it would have been a bloodbath. The only thing I ever heard about guns being fired in the beginnig was regarding people shooting into the air as helicopters hovered overhead, not shooting at them, but claiming the next shot was for the pilot if he didn’t land and carry them to safety. I suppose it will be quite some time before we know which of those versions is closer to the truth, but I am pretty sure that his version was spoon fed to him by someone on the far right of the political spectrum.

Clueless went on to say that our esteemed leader was actually in New Orleans on Tuesday (meaning the day after the hurricane hit) offering federal aid to the city. I just went and googled it up and it turns out that Bush didn’t actually visit New Orleans until the 12th (yesterday), a full two weeks after the hurricane hit, though in defense of Dubya it only took about a week for him to deliver on the Federal aid that he promised while he was in New Orleans still on vacation, national disasters be damned!

Clueless really believes that Bush did absolutely nothing wrong in this whole ordeal, not a damn thing. Stupid democrats are just trying to tarnish his reputation (as if we have to actually try to do that). Every bit of fault for the slow response is at city or state level. When the federal government tried to help New Orleans and Louisiana would not let them. I find that just as laughable as religion, but he sure seems to believe it. I guess a lot of other people are with him on that logic though, at least 50.1% at the very least. Somehow I doubt that that number is going to stand up after the federal handling of this disaster.

I was brought up thinking that this was supposed to be the United States of America. If the government isn’t supposed to respond to a disaster in a particular state then we would just be the States of America. That would mean that the federal government is a really evil, money stealing roughneck (sounds about right anyway). The funny thing is that people from every state in the union are stepping up and sending money and supplies to the ravaged area, some are even offering spare rooms in their own homes to the victims. That is what being United is all about. Common good. Not just common good for campaign contributors.

Staggering down memory lane, again

Think back to the time when you were a very small child, you know the time, back when you thought that your parents had been granted the gift of ultimate wisdom; they knew every little detail about every little thing, or so you thought. It turns out that thunder doesn’t have anything to do with God moving his furniture around (if it does I am on a bee line to hell), it is all about atmospheric conditions. Things like the hot/cold fronts clashing against each other, the charged particles in the clouds looking for a surface to release their potential energy, a conveniently placed ground that can make the lightning happen, then, BAM you get the thunder. I doubt I would have been able to wrap my mind around something like that when I was six, but still, “God moving his furniture”, what kind of an answer is that (a variant of that is that it is God bowling)?

I have a very vague memory of asking how they made crayons. While I can’t remember for sure who gave which response, I am pretty sure that Mom was the one that tried to explain to me about the gathering of wax, adding of the coloring and so forth. The other response that I got (which I am pretty sure was from dad) was that they just take the nubs of crayons, sort them into bins of same colored crayons, melt them down, then make new crayons. Neither answer really made much sense to me at the time, of course I was pretty young. Looking back I am left only to wonder how, if the latter theory is true, did they make the very first crayon?

My parents had the ability to fabricate very elaborate lies. Example 1: Santa Claus, turns out he was never real at all. Example 2: The Easter Bunny, totally fabricated. Example 3: The Tooth Fairy, my parents didn’t even bother to have us put the teeth under our pillows, we just left them in a glass near the kitchen sink; The tooth fairy had a lot of ground to cover, you see, and it was easier to just leave them there, or something (I don’t remember either parent explaining why we had to leave our teeth by the kitchen sink while all the other kids put them other their pillows, but I do have a pretty selective memory). Example 4: God. While the jury is still out on whether or not this guy really exists, I am pretty sure that he is yet another example of how my parents fabricated so many beings to keep us in line. After all, if God was so good then why didn’t the parents go to church with us kids?

By the time my parents divorced I was pretty sure that all of those characters weren’t real. Slowly, one by one, my Mom admitted that they were made up. All except God, that is. To this day I don’t know that I have ever gotten a straight answer out of Mom about God, though at this point I have already made a decision so it’s not like it would matter. Note to Christians: if you want your children to truly believe in god try to stay away from feeding them crap about the tooth fairy, Easter bunny and Santa Claus, then switch right at the end to say that you made the rest of the people up, but that GOD is real. Children may have small minds, but they remember the lies you feed them.

I have gone way, way off topic here. Well, way off the intended topic at the very least. So, moving on.

Those same parents aren’t without faults, but I am not going to go into that. I do want to go into some of the weird phrases that they, my parents, used though. One of my all time favorites has to be “get up and sit down”. Has there ever been a phrase uttered that is more of a dichotomy (not counting rap songs)? So I am expected to stand for an undetermined amount of time, then sit back down again? That must take some all-knowing parenting skills to use effectively, but what if I stand to late, or sit too soon? There is no goal there. What if I sit at the correct time, yet miss the getting up period by a fraction of a second? We need goals people, goals. We might be little now but eventually you will be in the old people place, how, then, will you react when I say “get up and sit down”? Work with me here!

I am getting closer to what I was wanting to bitch about, if you don’t like the fact that it has taken so long then why don’t you just “get up and sit down”?! Guess I told you.

So when I was in the 9th grade, Dad caught me and Dan smoking again. Dad had trained us from birth to be smokers; it was party entertainment to show us off to his friends while smoking, long before we ever hit our fifth birthdays (thanks dad). I haven’t quite been smoking since I was in the womb, but I am pretty damn close (thanks dad). When we got caught that time I got pretty irritated. First, because he was searching our room, second, because he got really pissed about me smoking, third, because he took my damn cigarettes. My allowance at the time was like a couple of bucks; it took my allowance, Dan’s allowance, and the buck a day, that dad gave me, that I didn’t pay for lunch (it was a buck a day for lunch at the time, in that school) to buy the damn cigarettes in the first place. Yeah, that pissed me off.

The best/funniest part of the whole ordeal was when dad was giving us the speech about how disappointed he was in us. One of the things that he said was “I better never catch you doing this again.” While I never said it, I was thinking exactly the same thing: Never let him catch us doing this again. To be honest, I was pretty pissed that he caught us that time, I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that he didn’t actually catch me doing it again (as per his request). Well everything short of just not doing it anymore; he threw down a challenge and I ran with it.

He never actually caught either myself or my brother smoking again, but he died only a year or two later. He knew that I was still smoking though; He asked me to pick him up a pack of cigarettes on the way home from town, then told me that he knew which gas station would sell them to you as long as you were in a car. He knew, but he never caught me.

The absolute worst moment in my entire life was on Christmas day in 1990. My father died on Christmas eve in 1990, so you do the math. I doubt I will ever be able to talk about that. Maybe I will try to call my mom right now and see if she has a sympathetic ear…

Tune in tomorrow for more fascinating, useless information.