Rant, Rant, Rant

I know it’s no better than a cliché to say so, but I Hate Blogger. I hate trying to position photos within text, and continually losing them into the vapor. I hate that when you save a draft, it disappears from the screen until you summon it back from the Blogger crypt. I hate that Surly Girl’s comments were taunting me today with having to type in lines from various eye charts in various loopy fonts, because I never, evidently, read them correctly. Now she will just have to live without my well thought-out advice about storing onions in the surviving leg of discarded pantyhose (no, really). I especially hate it when I cannot respond to a comment on MY OWN BLOG because of some innate disability seem to have when it comes to vaulting Blogger’s security hurdles. I hate, hate, hate it!

So, while I’m standing here on my ranting soapbox, let’s talk about spam, shall we? Yeah, I know, you’ve heard it all (and lived it all) before. But tell me this: Why is it that even people with obviously female names are bombarded constantly about the inadequacies of our hairlines and penises? Is it not obvious to even the most retarded spammers that lengthening my non-existent penis or overcoming my non-existent male-pattern baldness are among the least likely ways to get to my money? Are they assuming that woman are going to be on the lookout for remedies for these unfortunate conditions on behalf of the men in their lives. Have they never considered that forwarding such an e-mail to a husband along with a “Honey, maybe you should try this!” sort of note would do more to harm a romantic relationship than to enrich it? In my case, being married to a potted plant makes the length of his penis and state of his hairline the absolute least of my worries.

I did, however, get one interesting piece of spam recently. It was a rant against Bill Gates for Microsoft’s use of, get this, spam! Isn’t there a certain poetry in that? Using spam itself as a means to stage a protest against spam? I hadn’t paid attention to the sender at first, but I was intrigued enough to note the name and discovered the biggest treat of all: I was the very person who sent it! And, while I’m certainly prone to lapse into random rants in the general direction of Bill Gates, I have no memory of authoring this particular note. Makes me wonder how many people I may have forwarded it to in my sleep. If you happened to be one of them, forgive me. I have no memory of joining the spamming ranks although, clearly, I must have. If I start spamming you with concerns over certain features of your anatomy, you’re welcome to come here in person and slap me.


The Colorado Kid

Me, I’m used to buying Stephen King novels by the pound. I usually get the first installment and then come back sometime after payday to get the final few pounds that will finish the story. He does go on. Normally, 184 pages would be barely enough room for Stephen King to clear his throat and sing a few warm-up notes, so his slim new book The Colorado Kid seems particularly spare. It came out just this week, and I read those 184 pages in one sitting.

King is predicting that readers will either love or hate this book—no middle ground. I guess I would fall into the first category, although I did suffer one minor disappointment. There’s a scene in which a character slips around the corner to a Denver Starbucks—in April of 1980. And, although it’s hard now to envision that lost era when there was still such a thing as an urban street not punctuated with multiple Starbucks stores, I know for a fact that Starbucks had not metastasized beyond Seattle at that early date. So there. One picky point for me.

But such trivial matters are not why Stephen King predicts there will be a fair number of readers who may end up hating this book. Instead, it’s because he has either broken such new and unstable ground as to make even the most steadfast reader queasy (that’s the charitable interpretation) or because he has broken the A#1 cardinal mystery writers’ rule: After developing a compelling mystery, he purposely declined to solve it. He left all those open issues embarrassingly open, all those loose ends still flapping in the coastal breeze. His recent novels frequently include the line, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” Nevertheless, The Colorado Kid includes no satisfaction in this regard, only a celebration of the sort of unknown that may kill cats, but enriches our own lives—at least, if you really think about it.

Did you ever have the experience as a kid of looking at a mountain of prettily wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree, and realizing before the end of winter vacation that they held far more fascination for you than their contents ultimately did? The Colorado Kid is just such a present—one that you can lift and rattle and examine for clues, but one that is ultimately never opened. The paper and bows remain intact. It will always be as pretty and compelling as the December day it appeared under the tree, but at the price of never knowing, not for sure, what’s hidden within the box. Each reader will have to decide for himself if that’s a fair price to pay.

For me, I think it is. As King himself points out in his afterword, we all live with mysteries, many of which will never have solutions. If you don’t believe that contemplating these mysteries has value nevertheless, than you must believe, for example, that religion has no value. What is religion if not a speculation about what becomes of us after this life? Surely this is a mystery that none of us will have sure answers to while we live. But for my money, it’s not just the big mysteries that are worth contemplating. I have several smaller ones that I find myself returning to again and again, although I know the answers to my favorite mysteries are as extinct as the dinosaurs. That doesn’t keep me from reviewing them in the dark hours before I fall asleep. I’ll share my top three with you over the next couple of weeks.

Do you have any mysteries that you have to live with? The kind that will never be solved?


It’s been a wacky week, but I couldn’t let it slip by entirely without alerting you to the fact that we are in the rancid middle of National Squirrel Appreciation Week. This is the “festive” time during which skwerl-huggers pay homage to their skwerlian overlords, hoping that they will be viewed with favor when the nasty little rodents finally succeed in their plans to take over the world. Gives me a rash just thinking about it.

One another note, this also happens to be National School Lunch Week. Coincidence? With all the hysteria about childhood nutrition and obesity, perhaps there’s some small hope in combining the two events. After all, is it not a basic truth that skwerls – fuzz = protein? Are we not missing a cheap and abundant source of quality meat-like product for our kids in the form of squirrel-burgers? Surely if the Reagan Administration could classify ketchup as a vegetable for school lunch purposes, we can convince George Bush to support a varmint cull for the sake of the children. Come on, George. It’s for the kids.

In the meantime, Dave, probably because cricket is out of season, is playing tag instead. He tagged me this week with a meme requiring me to delve into my archives to a certain depth and pick out a specified sentence to examine for nuance and meaning. I’m aware of this tag and fully intend to comply. For me, however, this constitutes pretty high math, so I have been postponing for a couple of days. I do think it’s lovely that someone out there was creative enough to come up with a use for the overabundant blog archives of the world. Like squirrel meat, they are another under-used resource going to waste. Maybe we should have a National Archive Week? Couldn’t hurt.

Mmmm–tastes like chicken!

America’s Misspent Youth

Okay, maybe not America’s, but at least my kids’. Howser has them both hooked into such a sedentary lifestyle that they cannot be budged from in front of the screen (be it a computer screen, TV screen, or video game) with a crowbar.

I had a chore to do today, and I wanted at least one of the kids to accompany me. The nature of this heinous chore? Kitties. Our next door neighbors had gone for the weekend and asked me to check in on their two kittens. They’d been confined to one room to mitigate potential cat vandalism. The neighbors just wanted us to check on them a couple of times so they wouldn’t feel abandoned and alone. Was there any litter box cleaning involved? No. Any special grooming required? No–neither of the kittens nor ourselves. We weren’t even asked to fill a food dish or water bowl. All I was asking my children to do was walk a few yards with me to the next house and frolic–yes, frolic–with a pair of the most adorably fuzzy kittens ever minted in this county.

But no. They refused.

So, of course, I had to take out my pretend dentures and shuffle along with my pretend cane while I gave them the standard when-I-was-your-age lecture. “We NEVER had kittens when I was your age. All we had was an old feral cat that spent time drooling out by grandpa’s rubish heap. He mostly just yawned and twitched, and that was hard to do because he only had three legs and one good eye.You didn’t really want to pet him because of all the flies you had to shoo away. But we loved that damn cat, ’cause we never saw any kittens where I came from. Of course, we never saw the furry old bastard after that one Christmas when there were all those lay-offs down at the mill. At least we had food on the table. Not sure what it was exactly; tasted kinda like chicken…”

I can go on like this for pretty much forever, so Herbie finally promised that when he finished his current on-screen battle, he’d go with me to play with the kittens. Grudgingly.

As is usually the case, I blame Howser.

More on Disc Golf

Okay, for the benefit of Surly Girl, here’s another picture from my local “Disc Golf” course. This is one of the “holes.” I guess the idea is that you aim from afar for this contraption (it’s about as tall as I am, by the way), hoping that the lengths of chain will stop your Frisbee and drop it into the basket. From here, you also “tee off” for the next hole on the course.

Mind you, since I’ve never actually seen anyone play this game, I’m merely speculating here. I feel like the first Eskimo to ever have to describe a camel to his fellow villagers. I wouldn’t blame you at all if you can’t picture it, but, really, I’m serious.

When Squirrels Attack

Our friend and neighbor Dave had a recent encounter with a “skwerlian chitterbox” in London, which reminded me of this rather important website. It’s titled Scary Squirrel World. I pulled this article from it entitled “When Squirrels Attack.” Let none of us be caught unprepared again!

Patriots, teaching children about skwerls is an important part of parenting. Basic instruction should begin at an early age and continue through the formative years.

Failure to do so leads to embarrassing future encounters with the drooling nutzys or worse. Therefore, we recommend warning toddlers as young as 1 to be wary of all skwerlballs.

Of course, most toddlers react intinctively to skwerls. On spying a bushytail, the avearge 1-3 year old will toddle up to it and either a) try to stomp on it, or b) pick it up and stuff it in his or her mouth.

While we applaud such innocent bravado, only a dead skwerl will tolerate this sort of behavior. The consequences to the toddler are often unpleasant.

Needless to say, pathetic skwerlhuggers will tell you that skwerls really pose no danger to young children. They argue that we are peddling paranoia to parents who already have enough to worry about.

Patriots, we can only wish for a world in which the maniacal nutzys are reformed into the lovey equivalent of baby chicks. But that dream is an illusion…

Toddler Falls Three Floors, Walks Away Barely Scratched Thu Sep 11,11:29 AM ET (Greenbelt, Md.) – It was a close-call for a one-year-old boy in Greenbelt Thursday morning. Police say shortly before 9 a.m., the toddler was looking at a squirrel when he pushed up against the screen of an open window and fell three floors landing on mulch, making for a soft landing. The boy was barely scratched according to officers. The boy was already back in the apartment when officers arrived, and seemed fine. But he was taken to Children’s Hospital in Washington as a precaution. Chauncey Bowers with Prince George’s Fire says the child appears to have no significant injuries. The incident happened in an apartment in the 9,100 block of Edmonston Road. Source: Yahoo News

Patriots, we can only guess at which of the many false promises of squirrel world domination the Edmonston chitterbox used to lure that toddler out the window.

However, the lesson for us is clear. We must teach our children that the bushytail horde is a menace to society.

Moreover, we must tell the youngest, those unable to defend themselves to simply stay clear of all skwerlballs unless an adult or older, responsible child is present.

As for you children out there… Perhaps your parents have fallen victim to squirrel world domination. They have become what we call pathetic skwerlhuggers. You can tell by the way they lavish more attention and better vittles on their skwerlien overlords than on you.

Unfortunately, skwerlhuggery is often chronic and irreversible. However, you can help. Confront your parents with their misguided behavior. Your pleas to turn from the skwerl-side may be the trigger that brings your folks back to reality.

Patriots, the unprovoked Edmonston incident once again exposes Tufty’s hellions for the animals they really are. It also reminds us that you’re never too young or too old to learn how to do the right thing when it comes to combating the slavering nutzy’s.


As if I don’t have enough to worry about, this sign suddenly appeared along one of my favorite hiking trails. Damn you kids and your new-fangled flying discs! Shouldn’t you be in school?!

Yeah, I’ve turned into an old grumpy person. It’s just that I long for the days when a simple aluminum foil hat was enough to protect you from the influence of low-flying discs. Those were the days, my friends. Those were the days.