Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rubber Penny

I had a strange dream that I found a rubber penny in my change. It looked just like a regular penny, with Abe Lincoln on it, only it was made of copper-colored hard rubber.

Then I noticed something engraved around the edge of the penny. It said, YOU KNOW, YOU REALLY WANT TO BREAK THIS RUBBER CENT. Only in place of the comma there was a notch in the side of the penny, so it would be easier to break it in two.

I was about to break the rubber penny in half, when I noticed standing out on the penny an outline, as of a butterfly-shaped metal contrivance concealed inside the penny. And then I realized it was something like the mechanism of a mousetrap, hidden inside the rubber penny, so that if you broke the cent in two, the little mousetrap-like device would snap shut on your finger.

Ah, I thought to myself, almost fooled me; but not quite!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Vindictive Wrath of Bob

Late in the evening, Bob is awakened when the frame of his eyeglasses goes off, blinking on and off bright red and going beep beep beep beep beep!, sort of like the Batphone. Bob sits up in bed, grabs the still-blinking glasses off his nightstand and puts them on.

"Damn boy's using too much hot water for the shower, gotta be taught a lesson!"

Bob puts on a scary Halloween costume, goes down and knocks on the door of the basement apartment down below. When the young man who rents the apartment answers the door, he is greeted with the terrifying sight of Bob dressed up like a monster, waving his arms in the air and going, "Huunnnnnhhh! Huuuunnnnhhhhh! Huuunnnhh!!!"

"Listen, boy, maybe in your city slicker apartments they got enough hot water you kin take half-hour showers, but out here in the country..."

The tenant has fainted from sheer fright, and collapsed on the floor.

"Well, taught that damn boy a lesson."

Bob goes back upstairs to bed. He sees that his wife, Bagwig, is still asleep. Bagwig, who wears a plastic hairbag over her head to contain her overflowing brains, unfortunate side effect of the time Bob attempted brain surgery on her, not altogether with success. Bob sets his glasses on the nightstand and drifts off back to sleep.

Several hours later, middle of the night, the glasses go off again, flashing bright red and going beep beep beep beep beep!

Bob sits bolt upright in bed. "Damn boys out at the logging camp are partying late! They need to be taught a lesson."

Bob puts on his glasses, gets up and goes out to the garage where he backs his old Willys Jeep out. He starts her down the gravel road, then flicks a switch on the dashboard. Flames roar out from underneath the Jeep, which lifts off into the air as its wheels fold up into the wheelwells. In an instant Bob is fully airborne, flying in his Jeep toward eastern Oregon, toward a logging camp where he sometimes works in the off season.

"Damn boys up partying at two in the morning, I'll show them!" The radar screen on the Jeep's dashboard glows a ghostly green as Bob targets the logging camp, and fires off a couple of air-to-ground missiles. A minute, and then far off on the horizon a false dawn as the missiles hit the logging camp. "Damn party boys, that'll teach them a lesson!" The Jeep swings in a wide 180 up in the sky, and flies back home under jet power. Mission accomplished.

Coming in from the garage, Bob finds much to his horror that his son, Sugar Bobby, is lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. Damn! The lead-lined sugar bowl is turned over, a huge swath of sugar scattered across the top of the kitchen table. Sugar Bobby is diabetic, and sugar is like kryptonite to Sugar Bobby!!!

Sugar Bobby lies there on the floor, weakened by the rays from the sugar, which can only be contained by a lead-lined object like the sugar bowl. Bob goes into emergency hazmat mode, switching in a lead-lined bag on the handheld vacuum cleaner, and vacuuming up the sugar. Then he stoops down to revive his son. "Sugar Bobby! Are you all right?"

This minor family emergency squared away, Bob goes back to bed. He lays his glasses on his nightstand, and has almost fallen asleep again when...

Beep beep beep beep beep! Bob's glasses are beeping and flashing neon red again. "Damn boys out at the logging camp, they're up and partying again!"

This time Bob gets up and heads to his emergency command center in the spare bedroom. He throws switches, bringing the instrument panels to life, bringing his personal nuclear arsenal online. Up on the mountainside above the house, Bob's ICBMs in their missile silos are being activated and readied for launch.

"Bob, what's wrong? You've been up and down all night long!" It's Bob's wife, Bagwig, standing in the doorway in her nightgown.

"Oh, it's just those damn boys out at the logging camp, partying in the middle of the night. Tried to teach 'em a lesson once, this time I'm gonna nuke 'em!"

"Oh. Okay." Bagwig goes back to bed.

Bob sits at the instrument panel, targeting one of his ICBMs on the logging camp. "Ready for launch, countdown sequence, five, four, three, two, one, blastoff..." The whole house shudders as, up on the mountainside, an intercontinental ballistic missile lifts out of its silo on a column of flame. The missile lifts, gathering speed, higher, higher, arcing now to the east as it dwindles into the distance.

Several minutes later the entire eastern sky lights up, and a mushroom cloud billows into the air as Bob's nuclear strike on the logging camp succeeds.

"Damn boys, that'll teach them not to party!" Bob goes through the shutdown sequence to cycle down his nuclear arsenal. Gotta remember in the morning, head out to the workshop and turn a few more uranium atom-bomb cores on his lathe. But now it's back to bed at last, glasses on the nightstand, and back to sleep for a few hours until sunrise.

Oh no! It's "the vindictive wrath of Bob"! Honestly, the dusty old items I carry around in my memory... This is a conflation of several routines of mine about my one-time landlord, from when I was a young fellow living in that basement apartment, back almost 30 years ago...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Will You Have Fries with Your Firewood?

I was in town this morning, and I happened to drive by a small local mom & pop drive-in eating place. Not part of a chain, though it reminds me of the old A&Ws or McDonald's back in the days when you ate out in your car, with a tray of food perched on your driver's side window-- or at one of the picnic tables outside-- because there warn't no seating inside the joint.

Anyhow. This place in town serves hamburgers, and fries, and pop, and hot dogs, and ice cream, and the like. And they also sell (as per the sign out front) "bags of ice" and "bags of campfire wood."

Yes, along with your homemade fries and greaseburger you can also order bags of campfire wood. If that don't just sum up this region where I live!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Telephone and Coyotes

So last night I was drifting off in bed, just about asleep, when all of a sudden I was jolted awake by the phone. Turns out it was someone who actually had a good reason to be calling me, though I wish they wouldn't have phoned me quite so late in the evening.

With adrenalin racing through me, it took nearly an hour to settle back down and get to where I was drifting off again. Then some coyotes started howling outside, one after another, more and more of them. Sleep fled.

Just can't get to sleep for being woken up. If it isn't modern technology, it's the forces of nature.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Here I sit, as I usually do early in the morning after breakfast. Sitting in my living room, cup of coffee at my side, laptop on my lap, websurfing and whatnot. Sitting in an antique wicker rocker which I used to sit in at my grandparents' farmhouse back when I was a kid. Sitting here same as I do every morning.

Same as it ever was. Same every morning, day after day. These little routines are among the joys of my life.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Memory Lapse

Recently I was over at someone's house, and it was only after I left that I realized I had left a book behind, sitting there on an end table in their living room.

By the time I remembered I forgot, I was already ten miles down the road, with somewhere else I had to be, so I couldn't very well turn back. Oh well, I assume that book will get to me somehow, eventually. And it's not as if I'll need it any time soon. Still, it's annoying. The older I get, the more I find myself suffering memory lapses like these. One could almost say I'm getting older.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Open Windows

Occasionally we hit a stretch of summer weather like this, when I can leave the windows in the house open pretty much around the clock, day and night. Open windows upstairs and down, breezes blowing through the house. Birds singing outside. The occasional pickup rattling by outside, rolling on down this gravel road. Smell of grass and hay. Tiger lilies and other lilies blooming out in my front yard. Sunlight shining in aslant through the blinds.

This minor effacement of the boundaries between indoors and out is one of the small pleasures of living far out into the countryside, out here in deep rural America.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ten Things I "Learned" from the Blogosphere

Yes, those quotation marks are intentional. This could just as well be called Ten Ways the Blogosphere Tried to Pull the Wool over My Eyes:
  1. Correlation is not causation.
  2. Yeah, but the very same criticism could be made of your side.
  3. Extraordinary bla-bla requires extraordinary bla-bla-bla.
  4. Correlation is not causation.
  5. All the saints are always on the same side of center.
  6. If you're not morally perfect, then you're a hypocrite.
  7. Everyone in the conversation must always be taken with utmost seriousness; well, except for my opponents.
  8. Libertarianism is beyond question.
  9. Answer my argument, or I can make your head explode!
  10. Correlation is not causation.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lindsay Lohan

Okay, could someone please tell me, when does Lindsay Lohan reach the point where she shaves her head??

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fourth of July

Oh dear. I've got plans for this Fourth of July weekend. Almost wish I didn't. But that, you know, is the nature of a commitment.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Poverty of Argumentation

You won't find it everywhere online. Not here on my blog, where I seem to be mercifully readerless. Not on my old blog of several years ago, where I had actual readers but they were all civil and well behaved. But you'll find it often enough online, on blogs and discussion forums: the poverty of argumentation.

You know what I mean. People raging, shrieking, sputtering, using "logical" argumentation as a lead-weighted bludgeon with which to thwack their opponents. "I can force you to agree with me!" And the thing is, their argumentation is such a paltry thing. So threadbare. So ossified. So paint-by-number. So glaringly inadequate to real life. And yet to them-- to the hectorers, to the lead-weighted arguers-- their argumentation is beyond question. They are no longer capable of framing any view of things except in terms of their tiny, rigid, circumscribed argumentational world, and they cannot imagine how anyone else could either.

"Logic" and "reason" as horse blinders. "But my horse blinders are inevitable! You all are wearing horse blinders, whether you're aware of it or not!" Not really. In the country of the one-eyed men, the blind man tries to secure his case by arguing, loudly, that nobody has or has ever had eyes. But most of us are not tunnel visioned enough to be taken in by such a line of argument. Most of us have not, like the chronic arguer, lost the indispensable ability to color outside the lines.

Imagine if the multitude of decisions and judgments you make in everyday life were trammeled and strangled by the toxic atmosphere of argumentation on display in some online forums. Imagine if you were continually thus hemmed in and jostled, even in your inmost mind. Think how much poorer your grasp of things would be, how much more paltry your grasp of reality. Argumentation is overall a poor way of getting at truth, far poorer an avenue to truth than most of the rough and ready means to which we are native.

Show me a man who is addicted to argumentational rage, and I will show you a man I do not take seriously. I would no more rely on him for any deeper insight into matters on which he deems himself an expert, or for understanding of truths on which he fancies he has a lock, than I would squander my money on lottery tickets. We as human beings are capable of far better than that.

There are none so blind as those who will not rise above the argumentational fray.