Monday, November 30, 2009

November without Snow

Here we are, end of November, and there's been no snowfall in these parts yet. No significant snow at all, beyond a few fleeting and evanescent flurries. No accumulation on the ground at all. Odd, because usually around here we've had a snowstorm or two by the end of November. Some years, several severe snowstorms.

But this year here we are, on December's doorstep, and no snow so far; in fact, no snow in the forecast for this coming week. I'm wondering how long this can keep up. When I was a kid I loved snow. Now that I have to drive in it, not so much.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thoughts on Food

Well, having just been through one holiday where I ate more than I really should've, and being on the verge of another holiday season when (if I count correctly) I'll have to be attending something like ten or eleven Christmas parties, I must admit that I find it all just vaguely annoying. I mean, I like to eat, but I've never really cared to fuss over the picayune details of what I eat, as long as it's basically food I enjoy.

A hamburger and french fries. Pizza. Or, as on Thanksgiving, a ham steak with a couple of different vegetables on the side. Beyond that, I really don't give a damn about the culinary details. I couldn't care less exactly how to prepare the food, or which spices to use, or what refinements might be applied in the kitchen. To me, one wine is pretty much the same as another. Beef is beef. Mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes. Long as it doesn't trigger my gag reflex, I'm easy to please.

Though now I do have to eat more carefully, due to my health problems. And I've always been annoyed by the obligation of running the gauntlet of all those ten or eleven Christmas parties, for work, church, community, neighbors, family, and friends. Especially I've long been annoyed by the social pressure to eat at these events, eat, eat, have some more, have seconds, have thirds, have fourths; and sometimes people are not at all subtle in laying this pressure on you. Even before it was a health issue for me, I was always annoyed by this pressure to eat, intermingled as it was with pressure for enforced gregariousness and enforced jollity.

Still, I'll manage. Only please don't ask me to compliment you on the fine foodie details of how you cooked the meal, or which wine you selected to "compliment" the food. I honestly can't tell the difference.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


And off on the road, making the long trip to visit family for Thanksgiving today and tomorrow. Call it five hours on the road today, another three hours on the road tomorrow.

And I've been heard to complain about the common tendency to turn holidays into a "road rally"! Oh well...

A True Fact Which Is However Irrelevant to Almost Anything

When Nixon was president I was learning Spanish.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Two-Thousand-Ten or Twenty-Ten?

As the decade odometer is about to roll over to 2010, I've been suspecting that we may see a concerted push to get people to pronounce it as "twenty-ten" instead of "two-thousand-ten." Just a suspicion, but it won't go away.

And my suspicion is also that it will be primarily liberals and blue state types who will be pushing for us to say "twenty-ten." You know, on the general grounds that "two-thousand-ten" is imperial and retrograde, and that we must stand against anything grand or ornate, and in favor of blonde wood, modern concrete-slab architecture, and tighter federal control of your every fugitive sleeping cry in the middle of the night.

My suspicion is not without its empirical correlate. Out here in deep rural America where I live -- a thoroughly red-state part of the country -- almost everyone says "two-thousand-nine" and "two-thousand-ten." Whereas in the media -- y'know, media, liberal bias -- I often hear announcers and talking heads saying "twenty-ten." They can't quite get away with "twenty-nine," though I've heard that one too on occasion; but often from them it's "twenty-oh-nine," which has been just awkward enough so far to give "two-thousand-nine" a hairsbreadth edge. But with the coming of "twenty-ten" they'll be in the clear, and in a position to pull ahead on the straightaway.

So in the months ahead don't be surprised if you start hearing voices in the media chiding or shaming those of us who stick to the imperial "two-thousand" format, and not so gently pressuring us to say "twenty-ten" as a way of proving to our cultured despisers that we're not so hopelessly Neanderthal after all.

May be just my paranoia, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


It was foggy out this morning, and the world vanished beneath a weight of white. Indefined, shrouded, hidden in cotton batting. Looking out a front window, I could scarcely see across the road. A cozy world made newly strange, in which "there was no more near nor far"; enchanting if you don't have to go out in it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gaining Weight

Yes, I'm afraid I'm gaining weight again. After three years in which I lost a significant amount of weight, about 40 pounds, and then started gaining some of it back again.

These past few months I'd thought I was losing weight again. But I'm afraid not. Damn! I feel positively thin, compared to what I weighed several years ago; but, for the sake of my health, I've got to lose weight, lose a lot more weight. For the sake of the health problems I've been contending with these past few months.

I suppose the solution is to exercise more. Which I've been doing, more than I used to, these past few months. But I sure could stand to push myself farther on the exercise front.

Or take the time to cook up more stews with fresh vegetables, instead of eating so much of the time (relatively healthy food) out of a can.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unexpected Mission

I have to head out this morning on an unexpected work-related mission which will have me on the road most of the day. There go my plans for finishing out this week as the "slow week" for the month of November! And, like a row of dominoes, there goes my schedule from now till Thanksgiving.

This seems to happen, fortuitously but predictably, every time I think I'm heading into a slow stretch. Keeps me on my toes, eh? Though at times I do wonder if I'm beginning to get a bit old for a schedule in which nothing is ever nailed down until, without warning, it erupts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Remove Yourself

If you meet someone who is incapable of dealing with others except in a spirit of mockery, sarcasm, and derision...

Remove yourself.

Simply turn around and walk away from them. Resist the temptation to respond. Resist the temptation to reply. Above all, resist the temptation to beat them at their own game.

Just turn around and silently walk away from them. Far, far away. Remove yourself from their presence, and never return. Remove yourself. Let them be no longer a part of your world.

A full tenth or more of the Internet could be prevented if only people would follow this principle.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the Thirteenth

Good thing I'm not triskaidekaphobic.


Last night I was out driving in the dark, and had to make a left turn onto a bridge. A left turn around a pickup which was sitting there at a stop sign. And all of a sudden, entering onto the bridge, thunk! My Jeep hit a pothole, so violently that I'm surprised I didn't do any permanent damage to the suspension.

Dinner at someone's house, and on the way back I paused to look when I came to the bridge. Sure enough, not exactly a pothole, but on the shoulder of the road there was a deep hole in the gravel and then the wider concrete pavement of the bridge proper. A perfect setup for a bone jarring pothole experience for anyone who rounds that corner onto the bridge after dark.

You'd think they'd at least fill the hole in? Or maybe they do, and the next rain washes it out again. At any rate, I was surprised that my Jeep was still running without mishap afterwards.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


So I made the long drive to the city, and visited my folks over the weekend. It was good to see them again. Aside from major holidays or vacation, I don't make it over to see them that often.

But I must admit, even this brief visit was enough to remind me once again of my mother's habit of talking incessantly. I mean, she talks every waking minute of the day. She scarcely pauses for breath. She talks about anything. She talks about nothing. If even nothing doesn't come to hand, she will provide nonstop color commentary on whatever diddly task she's doing at the moment. To whoever's in the room, whether they're listening or not. To thin air, if nobody's in the room.

I can't remember the last time I heard my mother stay silent for as long as fifteen seconds at a time. It's been years, I'm sure.

Maybe you've known someone like this, someone who talks constantly, continually, all the time? I've known a few people like that, and my mother unfortunately is one of them.

Don't get me wrong, I love my mother dearly. I'm glad when I get a chance to get away and visit my folks. Only I count it among my blessings that ordinarily I live by myself, in a big old house on a gravel road far, far out into the depths of the countryside, where I can go all day long surrounded by peace and quiet. Nothing more than perhaps the sound of the refrigerator running, or the sound of air running through the heating ducts. Or the occasional sound of a pickup going by down the road.

I thrive on peace and solitude and quiet. I cannot imagine how I would get along in a setting where I was constantly surrounded and bombarded by sound.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Radio Personality

On a radio station around here -- one of the few AM stations I can receive during daylight hours, I'm way out in the sticks -- there's this little segment that comes on in the morning while I'm eating breakfast.

Two fellows talking, most of it inconsequential chat. One guy is in the studio, and the other is very obviously talking over a phone line, audio quality none too good. Chat, and some of it is, Mr. Studio will pose questions and Mr. Phone Line will ramble on with long, wandering, gaseous replies. Actually Mr. Phone Line does the bulk of the talking.

And here's the thing: I can tell how Mr. Phone Line looks. He wears sunglasses with big silvered lenses. He's got black hair, but with a severely receding hairline, and the hair on top of his head is thinning out. He wears a nylon windbreaker. Big forehead, with prominent creases in it. Bad teeth, and nicotine stained.

How can I tell? By the sound of his voice. Anyone with a voice like that has got to look like that. Even over a mediocre phone connection, by his voice you shall know him.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Computer Screens on Dollhouse

Perhaps I haven't mentioned, but I'm a fan of Joss Whedon's probably doomed TV series, Dollhouse.

Anyhow, am I the only person who has the impression that Topher is using the Enlightenment window manager on his computers? Animated backgrounds, wonderfully nonrectangular windows, when I saw it I immediately thought, "Ah! Enlightenment." Suitably geekish choice. I mean, I could be mistaken, but that's sure what it looks like to me.

Dinosaurs Shitting in the Woods

Sometimes these phrases just drift into my mind unbidden, from I know not where...

Dinosaurs shitting in the woods. No idea what it means, but it sounds cool.

What, didn't you think Triceratops and T-rex had to go take a shit like any other animal you've ever heard of?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saying Grace

I grew up in a family that was schizophrenic about saying grace at the table. Basically, we didn't. Devout churchgoing folk that we were, we never said grace before we ate. Or at least, not except at lunch on Sunday, and that was as much of a concession as my Mom was able to wring out of my Dad.

See, it just so happened that my Dad grew up in a family -- a deeply devout churchgoing family -- where they never said grace. For whatever reason, they just didn't. And so when my folks got married, my Dad insisted that he was not going to start saying grace at the table just to go through the motions. My father is as genuinely and sincerely committed a Christian as you're ever going to meet, but he has this thing -- I suppose it's a stubborn mainline Protestant thing -- about not piling up empty words or practices just for the sake of appearances.

To my mother, who grew up in a devout churchgoing family where they did say grace, all this was horrifying. The compromise my parents arrived at eventually was that we would say grace once a week, when we sat down for lunch after church on Sunday.

So I grew up pretty much not saying grace. I grew up into an adult who is deeply committed to Christ, who is in church pretty much every Sunday, who has served in various positions of church leadership... but to whom it would not ordinarily occur even to think of saying grace. Saying grace? I'd be about as likely to sacrifice pigeons with a flint knife on a stone altar. Not because I don't believe; quite the opposite! But because the habit never got a foothold within me.

Until these past couple of months, with my current health problems. I have to watch my diet closely. I also find, for the very first time in my life, that when I sit down to eat I say grace. I haven't quite figured it out yet. But I'm saying grace. Regularly. Easily.

Perhaps sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks.