I hung out with the local rock climbing crowd this afternoon.|
We were in a forest in Huntingdon County Pennsylvania. Here there is a vertical rock formation 50-70 feet high with plenty of overhangs and nice cracks to grab a hold on. After about 2 hours of climbing, two forty-something firemen joined us on the rock.
After an additional two hours, one of the firemen somehow manages to detach himself from his safety rope and takes a 30 foot plunge off the rock face. He falls backwards off of the rock face, manages to keep one of his hands on the rope, but doesn't get a real grip and plunges downward. After the first ten feet he is falling side down and horizontal in the air. He then strafes a ledge, does barrel roll in mid-air, strafes another ledge and falls flat on his back amidst pointy rocks and boulders.
I am standing less than 15 feet from where he lands.
I freeze on the spot. That dude has got to be dead.
about 5 people rush in to check on him.
Amazingly, the guy raises his arm, grips the jagged boulder he missed by 3 inches and tries to sit up.
People urge him to lie still. They ask him his name, urge him to be calm and not move etc, etc.
His fireman buddy comes racing down from the top of the rock formation cussing at the top of his longs, visibly horrified.
We check his head
- it is fine
We check his back
- No fractures, cuts or bruises.
We check his limbs.
- Nothing, except a scraped ankle.
He seems to be in excellent health, except for a bruised angle and a very bruised ego (he basically unclipped himself from his rope).
He then stands up, shakes his arms and legs, brushes down his clothes and packs his gear. His buddy calls their fire department, and asks that the paramedic on watch prepare to give him a thorough look-over. They thank us for our help, and take off.
Never in my life have I witnessed such magnificient luck. when he hit, I was expecting his brains to be scattered all over some rock.
his overconfidence in his own experience almost killed him today.
I think I am going to come of this experience with something.
I just don't know what, at this point.
Life is glorious
I have had this one sitting around half-finished for a while. I wrote it bit by bit, always drunk, and tonight I latched on to it and wrestled for a while. It's not quite right, and I think I pushed it too far. Kudos to anyone who can guess where I thought it perfect and should have left it. Anywas, I'm drunk, and here it is. It is titled 'exempt' in my files, though I can not remember why.|
I’d been home for a few hours, the bottle of whiskey sat at my right, a glass with melted ice and a pale trace of yellow next to it. The burning cinder of my cigarette reached my fingers and broke my reverie, startling me into movement and cursing. I crushed the cigarette out and then paused in mid-motion, my ears attuned to the sound of crunching gravel. Someone was coming down the road towards the trailer I sat in front of, perched on a small porch of faded and weathered pressure treated boards. I turned my head a slight amount to the right till my peripheral vision met the corner of the trailer so I could see whomever it might be the moment they came into view. I watched, holding my breath, but it was not her. I sighed and hauled myself to my feet grabbing the glass and heading inside.
Inside I dashed the melted remnants into the sink and drew a couple cubes of ice out of the freezer and dropped them into the glass. The water crystals rang as they clattered and spun around the glass. I picked up the glass and twirled it a few times and listened to the sound some more. It’s an unmistakable sound, a sound that signifies loneliness in my mind. I pushed through the screen door and onto the porch, setting the glass on the table made of a cut-off two by twelve and a cinder block. I pulled the cork out of the bottle of whiskey with a twist of my wrist, the cork and whiskey making a squeaking sound. Again the sound of loneliness struck a deep chord somewhere down around my groin and my eyes heated with unshed tears.
Seated once again I grasped the glass and raised it to my lips. The whiskey bit into my tongue and cheeks as I rolled it around my mouth and then swallowed. I raised the glass again and with my tongue plucked out a cube of ice and sucked on it absently as I fished in my pocket for a cheap cigar. In turn I lit the cigar and rolled the smoke around in my mouth and exhaled through my nose, savoring the burn of cheap tobacco on my olfactory nerves. A sneeze tickled the edge of my nose but I suppressed it and shook my head.
Under my chair sat a novel, face down, pages split and waiting for me to pick it up again and bring the characters within to life. I ignored it, hating them for the moment and for all that they were. I wondered if life were like that novel or if I was just one of many, isolated in my mental prison where I knew no one. To be honest I knew that the novel was closer to the real life of most people than mine. I had no one, and even in the most despairing of novels there was always someone, Frankenstein had more love and companionship than I have. That monster at least had a creator it had known, as for myself, I had never known my parents, an orphan, raised in foster homes, a loner on the playground and even now, the odd man out at work, while my co-workers talked of family and friends, I smiled and nodded to their stories and then lied furiously about the friends I had spent my weekend with.
I have never had a friend in my life, until now that is, or so I had thought. I have been haunting a small bar down the street in the evenings, drinking and drinking in the people around me, sucking in their conversations and living vicariously. I needed stories to tell on Monday so that no one would ever know the sucking black hole that I live in. I was sitting there, eyes unfocused, glass half-way to my lips when she sat down next me. I watched her from the corner of my eye as she settled herself in, setting a pack of cigarettes, a lighter and a small wallet on the bar. She wasn’t pretty, not by any standard, her dirty brown hair tightly coiled against her head, wandering eye so very obvious but the way she took control of her surroundings was definite, confident. She marked out her space at the bar as surely as a mutt pissing on a telephone pole. I absorbed her profile and turned back to the bar, casting the nets of my ears wide for stories. A lone bit conversation made its way across the bar to my auditory canal, no context was involved and I snorted at the utter ridiculous of that statement, stranded as it was in the midst of chaos, a fellow orphan.
“What is so amusing?”
I was struck dumb for a half second as I processed the fact that she was speaking to me. I floundered for a moment as a million complex explanations of how the interplay of humanity was a curious and hysterical thing before I settled for shrugging and saying, “People, and the things they say are often a source of comedy that is un-equaled in the world.”
“Aren’t they though? I love watching people, I often go the airport and sit on one of the benches and pretend to read, simply so that I listen to the things people say when they think no one is listening.”
I turned and stared at her, an open expression of shock. Not only was she talking to me, she was speaking my language, a language of a tiny isolated tribe somewhere in the deep jungles of no-where land, lost place of those who wander without human companionship, an urban jungle of hell and rejection. “You really do that?” In my own ears I sounded stupid, a slack-jawed fool, like the apes across the bar, staring down the shirt of some plastic breasted barfly. I flushed with shame as hours of internal conversations, imagined scenarios came crashing to naught and I stumbled over my own tongue and my own foolish nature.
My brain recovered in a few seconds and I responded, “Have you ever tried the bus terminal late at night? The conversations are without parallel.”
“I have a few times, but after the fourth or fifth time of being groped by a man smelling of whiskey I gave it up. Airports seem to require a higher standard of behavior and the high security affords me a greater range of freedom.”
I stared down at the glass of cheap whiskey in front of me and felt the flush of red spread across my face. Here the was the only person to speak to me in months and I was batting about zero, whiskey breath, inane responses and a slack-jawed expression I could see in the mirror behind the bar. Feeling like a complete ass was nothing new to me but there was something about this woman that made me more self-conscious than ever and I squirmed, an ant followed by the vicious beam of a magnifying glass wielded by a mischievous ten year old.
She laughed and put her hand on my knee and I nearly jumped out of my seat in surprise. She laughed again.
“Consider it a payback.”
“So are you here just watching, or are you waiting for someone?”
Two days later we were still talking, this time in bed, sticky with sweat. I was mumbling half coherent responses while watching her from half closed eyes. The inborn urge that males have to sleep after sex is a nuisance, ruining many a good post coital discussion. I cursed my own genetics as I struggled to stay conscious.
“You have a lot of secrets hiding in that head of yours.” She spoke as though it were a given fact, something not to be contested but the demand for a response was implicit in the slight tensioning of her tendons and muscles, communicated immediately to me through my skin.
“Secrets? No, not really, not in the ‘not to be told to others’ sense of the word, but rather I simply don’t talk to many people and I share even less of myself with them. It’s not because it necessarily needs hiding, I just don’t ever care to share all that is on my mind.”
“Women must find you very frustrating”
“Women rarely find me at all, which would be a prerequisite to them finding me frustrating.”
“I think they find you un-approachable when they find you.”
“You didn’t have any problems ‘approaching’ me, ‘“ I said, grinning at the memory of the way she’d dragged me into her car and groped me frantically before ordering me into the drivers seat.
“A moment of reckless and drunken abandon, far out of character I assure you.” Her expression was utter innocence and I nipped at her rib cage, that being the part of her closest to my mouth. “Ouch!”
For six weeks we had gone on like this, in between wandering off to our prospective occupations we had drifted back and forth between her apartment and my tiny trailer and many, many public places, restaurants, bars, airports, parks. We sat close, books in hand, or pretending to be deep in personal conversation while we snickered and gasped at the people around us. We speculated wildly on the natures of people, created fantastic scenarios to explain the odd things we heard. We gave running commentary heated discussions. In the bars we’d wager on the success of pick up attempts and pool games. I shook the glass again, listening to the music of quiescent water and silica. It had been three days since she suddenly disappeared from my life. Three days since coming home to an empty home and getting a disconnect notice when I called her number. I’d been by her place, and even peered in the windows but there was nothing to see but furniture and darkness. Every day after work I’d called again and listened to the recorded voice. I’ve heard it said that insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again, expecting different results, so I suppose by that criteria I am now insane but I keep hoping. Hoping and drinking.
I’ve always drank, and when she was here, we drank, but it was different then. There was a raucous laughter, silly grins and a heady sense of hilarity. I drank strangely concoctions of fantastic colors that she knew in endless variety. Stumping the bartender was her favorite game. Now it has returned to how it was before, the drink is nothing but the harsh, scouring of cheap whiskey, a liquid firebrand I inflict upon myself. I’m not sure if I’m trying to kill myself or prove that I am alive, but I don’t seem to be accomplishing either.
I took the glass into the bathroom and sat on the edge of the tub. For a long while I sat there, staring at the cheap plastic tub enclosure, not seeing it. A burning arose in the back of my throat and I coughed spastically, spilling my drink into the tub. I turned on the water, washing the whiskey down the drain before inserting the stopper in the drain. I rose to my feet and swayed for a moment as the room swam. I walked back into the kitchen and poured another drink, downed it quickly and filled it again before returning.
The tub was about half full and steaming so I turned on the cold water, swirling my free hand in the water and raising the glass to my lips with the other while I waited for the water to reach a temperature that wouldn’t scald me the moment I stepped into it. After returning to the kitchen for a third refill I shed my clothes before stepping into the tub and slowly seating myself, hissing as the water slowly engulfed me. I stretched out and closed my eyes. I thought of her laugh.
I was in the bar, in the same seat once again, and I wondered whether this was insanity now, doing the same thing and expecting the same results this time, even though I knew it wouldn’t happen. Which is it, sanity or insanity, patterns with or without expectations, same or different? Would she come through the door with that little knit purse she carried everywhere? She didn’t and I drank furiously, ordering shot after shot of whiskey and chasing it with pints of beer. I chain smoked and glared at people, daring them to speak to me, in a murderous rage and ready to kill even though it would likely be myself that was killed in any fight. I ordered another double shot and another beer and poured one after the other down my throat, most of it spilling down the sides of my face into my shirt collar.
I awoke with a start, cold and stiff , just inside the door of my apartment, my head and shoulders inside the coat closet, the door digging into my ribcage and I assumed that was what had awakened me I shifted over and groaned, my head aching. I vaguely wondered what time it was and what day it was. I hoped I didn’t have to work today. I searched through my brain and arrived at the conclusion that it was Saturday and I was safe to lay here and dry heave for a while. I thought about crawling to the bathroom to take a piss but I didn’t feel much of an urge to piss despite memories of drinking heavily. I lay there for a while longer before realizing that most of the coldness I felt centered on my crotch and I slowly became cognizant of the fact that I had pissed myself. I groaned again and crawled to the bathroom. Slowly and painfully I removed my wet and stinking clothing before dragging myself over to the edge of the tub and turning on the water. I dangled my hand in the water and fiddled with the knobs till the stream coming from the faucet was comfortable on the underside of my wrist and I yanked the lever to turn on the shower. Water cascaded down into the pan of the tub with the sound of a hard rain on a car roof. I flopped over the edge of the tub and half-heartedly tugged the shower curtain into place before going limp and luxuriating in the feel of heated water splattering into my skin.
The grocery store was far too bright, so bright that I kept my sunglasses on as I cruised the aisles looking for a feast. I had decided that enough was enough, I would eat, and well and then I would go out into the world to see what I could see. I had returned, withdrawn inside my shell again, the tower, the egg, impenetrable and obscured. I felt like an old wire, stretched and worn. It didn’t matter, what mattered was food. I filled my basket till it was a weight on my arm and then walked to the cashier. The total was nearly sixty dollars, a sum I could have drank on for more than a week but I dismissed it.
At home I worked myself into a frenzy, cleaning utensils and pans, scrubbing counters and even tackling the encrustations on the range top. I spread my spoils from the store out before me and smiled. I sharpened my knives and set to work. I sliced and sautéed and in the end I produced an omelet of divine proportions, toasted tortillas and hummus. It took little time to produce, and even less to consume, it took far longer before I was capable of moving again, I sat for long minutes in my chair, head back, lolling on a limp neck. I groaned and rubbed my belly, patting it a few times in the Hawaiian style.
After the heaviness had passed and my head had cleared I moved down my tiny porch and grabbed my bicycle. I sat astride it and shook my head to clear it further. Setting a foot to the pedal I started off down the drive.
The first few blocks were a living hell, and they always are, but after a while the pain of labor fades, and a rhythm sets in, the legs work and your mind clears. I lifted my head and looked into the breeze of my own passage. I looked around for the first time in weeks and saw the world. It still looked flat and unreal but it was there, I’d been ignoring in the hopes that it might go away, but it hadn’t. It never did, an irritating insistence on being there, reality intruding in the way that it always does. I rode for several miles, working my way up through the gears, dodging through traffic with a reckless abandon that bordered on gleeful. I turned off the main road at a small park with a pond in the middle of it. I rode over to the water and lay the bike over on its side. I sat on the slightly damp grass and stared across the pond. The water was brown and yet brilliant with reflected sun. A mixture of ducks and geese paddled about, searching for the best tidbits, insects, and bits of water plants, whatever it was that appealed to them. I’d been watching them for almost ten minutes when I noticed that the pond had a special visitor, down at the far end of the pond, stalking quietly through the cluster of cat-tails that grew there was a great blue heron. I watched it raptly, its odd backwards knee configuration making it somehow other-worldly. It stepped carefully, eyes bright, scanning the water and then suddenly that dagger like beak plunged into the water in flash. The head came back up in a flash and it quickly gulped down the prize it had found. I wondered if it was a frog or a fish that had met its end in that beak. I watched that magnificent thing stalk about for an unknown amount of time, afraid to blink, not wanting to miss a single second of the strange movements and long lines that it presented to me. Finally it took its leave, leaping into the air and spreading massive wings. I watched it until it was out of sight over the western horizon. I found myself staring into a setting sun and I sighed.
I was in the same bar, the same stool once again, but this time the whiskey sat in front of me, untouched. I sat like a mannequin, beer halfway to my lips and lost in thought. I was still in this pose, staring over the heads of the other patrons at some distant point that existed in another world when I felt the touch on my shoulder. I started, shocked back to reality and turned to see who had interrupted. I stared into a pair of eyes I knew, one of them stared back, the other looking at the same spot of infinity I had so recently been lost in.
“Hi,” she said softly, almost inaudible over the waves of sound that always accompany gatherings of inebriated people.
“I was wondering where you had gone,” I said and smiled.
“My father died.”
The sentence crashed out into the darkness and laid there, a fish out of water without even the decency to gasp for life.
We had hugged, like long lost friends and then we had drank, and even danced, dancing being an activity I never engaged in, well aware that my skinny frame and long limbs made me more ridiculous than the crane I had seen earlier in the days. She laughed and smiled at me and I soared on my own grey feathered wings. After closing we had come back to my place, my bicycle sticking out of the trunk of her small car, me behind the wheel squinting out of one eye and trying to stick to the road. In the darkness we had made love without sex, simply pulling each other close, smelling, sliding hands over skin, wordless pronouncements of happiness, fingers tangled in hair. I pressed my lips against her neck and ventured to speak.
Her response was immediate, too fast, “I’m not,” she said, fire burning in that tiny statement. “My father was a small man, hateful and mean. He was always angry that I was not able to replace his dead son and worse yet that I wasn’t even pretty.”
“I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than you smiling at me tonight.”
“You’re good at that, saying the sort of thing that melts a woman’s heart.”
“My third foster mother was an avid reader of very cheap and very explicit romance novels. I read whatever was available to read. My mind is irrevocably warped when it comes to dealing with women.”
“So what do I do next? Swoon?”
“No, at this point you misinterpret my words and storm out of the house. I spend several weeks in agony thinking of nothing but you, while you do the same. A series of very uncomfortable meetings will take place wherein we will snipe verbally at each other all the while the most depraved sort of lustful thoughts run through our heads.”
She laughed, the first time this evening and the sound fell onto my ears, a sound more beautiful than the wind in the trees.
“You ridiculous ass, you keep that up and I might just fall in love with you.”
“A fitting revenge it would be.”
She tensed, just for a moment but I felt it all along our bodies.
“Did you just declare your love for me?” she asked. Her voice was light, but deliberately so, and I could feel the tension waiting to return to her body, hovering just out of reach.
“I don’t know what love is,” I declared flatly. “Your father may have been less than what you could have wished, but you at least knew him. I have never known anyone but strangers who put up with me for the tax benefits and the slave labor that could be extracted from me. There has not been a single person to ever love me, and I’ve never loved anyone in return. I wouldn’t know where to begin.” My throat felt a bit raw and I coughed.
Her arms were around me, her fingers dug into my back as she pulled me tight against her body, “I lied, I lied to you, I already love you. You are my shame because I swore I would never love a man. I didn’t intend to come back here after my father’s funereal, but the whole time I could think of nothing but your voice. Nothing else, not your eyes, your arms, not even those awesome legs you have, but your voice. Everything I saw, I heard you whispering in my ear, that delightful cynicism and sarcasm you use to keep yourself distant, but even more I heard the real feelings you try so much to hide, the pain you feel at the human condition even though you’ve suffered it more than most.”
The lovemaking began in earnest now, something I could never describe, heaven has nothing, and I pray I never die, not so long as she is here with me. In my moment of climax I cried out in words I had never spoken to another human being.
“I love you!”
I cried for a man I never met tonight. |
I was clenching my jaw throughout the recitation of the rosary. Then, they played a slide show as tribute to their father.
I kept my jaw clenched.
I looked over to my best friend fanning her face, trying not to cry. I looked at another friend on the other side, crying as well.
I kept my jaw clenched.
I stared straight ahead and saw pictures of the man in his youth. I saw pictures of his kids. I saw pictures of him at one of his daughters' wedding. I dared not look at the body lying in the open casket.
I kept my jaw clenched.
I felt a calming, warm line fall down my cheek. My black shirt, somehow, got blacker in one spot. I looked over again to my best friend. She was looking straight down, wiping her eyes. I looked straight down, and I rained on my clothes.
I never met this man, but I felt so sad for his family. My stomach grew hot with that sickening feeling you get when you know there is nothing you can do, nothing you can say, to make anything better.
When I hugged my friend after the slide show, I wanted to let go immediately. For that, I feel awful. Yet, I don't know that I should.
I couldn't, no matter how much I tried, look at the casket. I never met the man, but I rather wanted to celebrate his life and not think of his death. If his daughter, my friend, is any indication of what kind of person he was, then I'd say he was one hell of a man.
Sometimes, I believe in a heaven.
Since Frank has returned to Minneapolis I find myself with no one to talk to except my dog, Sara.|
I was feeling sorry for myself about this but I found that Sara was not only an excellent conversationalist but was a vast improvement over Frank in terms of an opponent in debate. Now you may think that since Sara cannot talk that she would be worthless as a conversationist and completely out of her field as a debate opponent. You just don’t know Sara.
I stumbled on this appreciation of Sara myself. Since I was here alone I began talking to myself and it was two or three days before I noticed that Sara was listening closely to what I was saying.
I remember sitting down and discussing at great length the qualities which John Roberts would bring to the bench of the Supreme Court and a careful study of Sara told me that she agreed with my analysis completely. She was sitting there with her ears perked up , her mouth open and lips pulled back in a smile and occasionally nodding her head as I made a salient point. She agreed!
When I recounted Senator Joe Biden’s scurrilous questioning of Judge Robert’s 1982 appraisal of some civil rights legislation she dropped to the floor in a sulky pout and put her head down between her paws. After I had continued for a few minutes it was obvious by her body language and the fact that she ran to the door and scratched on it to be let out that she considered the matter closed and that no further conversation was warranted.
I’ll admit that Sara’s score in the field of research and data retrieval is weak. She keeps no notes and her contribution to the debate is very much related to response to something I say. There is not much that Sara puts forth as independent thesis for her side of the argument. She can however exhibit scathing disdain for my theses. She some times even laughs and rolls over on the floor in glee over some inappropriate thing I say and is not beyond getting indignant and walking off if I get too far out of line.Sara is a very acute observer and that stands her in good stead in these debates. If I say something that I have no backing for it is not beyond Sara to frown (Oh, yes dogs can frown) and adopt a haughty mein for several minutes.
It is crushing to be beaten by a dog in a debate but Sara is very kind when it happens. She comes and lays her chin on my leg and looks up at me with those soulful brown eyes and lets me know that winning debates is not everything in life.
The soviet souffle hunter and Hu Jintao the president of china are rappelling down the great wall of china in an attempt to put out a fire.|
I didn’t get around in my “about new orleans” thread to talk about the great things about the city. Its really is yin and yang and for all of it’s dark it has a glorious light. To have sat in its light is a privilege. It will come back, in fact it is still there, its just a little broken. |
This is my new Orleans, not just the shallowness of the images and writing, but the secret things they say.
I was glad to see a few that stayed carried on with the southern decadence parade. Good to see laughter in its streets.
If I didn’t have children I’d be on my way back home. That city held me when I had a loneliness very few can understand; I’d like to hold it for a bit now.
I’ve been called everything from heartless to unicorn hearted these last few days, asked to show my tits while I was bleeding, I do aim to please.
that’s my homage, I put it in a place where it wont draw attention and the scar will melt in with my well lined hands.
It is homage to New Orleans, it is homage to myself
Kenaz: (K: Beacon or torch.) Vision, revelation, knowledge, creativity, inspiration, technical ability. Vital fire of life, harnessed power, fire of transformation and regeneration. The power of light. Open to new strength, energy, and power now. Passion, sexual love.
Kenaz Reversed or Merkstave: Disease, breakup, instability, lack of creativity. Nakedness, exposure, loss of illusion and false hope.
I’ve deleted all of my messengers, my computer is about to become strictly for work. I’m going to stop pretending like I’ve made any kind of true connection with anyone here, it has been proven over and over again that is just laughable and I’m a fool. I should do a better job of investing myself constructively.
I used to have a tradition when I was leaving somewhere of playing this song as I left. I’ve left lots of places. The difference between this time and every other time I’ve “left” the asylum is I’m not drunk nor am I enraged. It was always nice to get the phone calls, emails and pms asking or begging me to stay, but honestly, any body who may consider doing it, please don’t. I’m really no loss and truthfully I’m too far-gone.
I have nothing left to offer, too much goes out and too little comes back.
I can still hear my tape deck.
Goodbye stranger it’s been nice
Hope you find your paradise
Tried to see your point of view
Hope your dreams will all come true
Goodbye mary, goodbye jane
Will we ever meet again
Feel no sorrow, feel no shame
Come tomorrow, feel no pain
Now some they do and some they don’t
And some you just can’t tell
And some they will and some they won’t
With some it’s just as well
You can laugh at my behavior
That’ll never bother me
Say the devil is my savior
But I don’t pay no heed
And I will go on shining
Shining like brand new
I’ll never look behind me
My troubles will be few
Goodbye stranger it’s been
The football season has started! That is to say the season in the game where only one member of the team touches the ball with his hand, the ball is shaped like a ball not an egg, and the general principle is that you use your feet to kick the ball rather than your hands.. hence "foot"ball. Now that my incessant and typically English moaning in this instance is complete I shall proceed to my point (assuming I have one). Footballers, that is good ones, get paid obscene amounts of money. This is largely true in most professional sports but the obscenity of footballer pay (be it soccer or yank) is truly astounding. On both sides of the Atlantic it is also a general truism that the aforementioned overpaid sportsmen are - to put it bluntly - thick as pig shit. Were these people not good at their sport they would be doing a shitty manual job somewhere after dropping out of school early. Ok, I'm generalising, there are always a couple of exceptions to the rule, but for the most part they're all a sandwich short of a picnic in the brains department. The fact that they all get royally screwed for millions by their "agents" is evidence enough (although the phrase "more money than sense" may also be applicable in this case).|
So where is all this leading to you may wonder. Well, now that the football season has started in earnest it means that the competition between the papers for the football review coverage begins. What does that mean? It means advertising. Shitloads of it. Television and radio telling what the best paper to buy on Sunday or Monday is should you want to know what happened over the glorious footballing weekend. “All the goals, all the analysis!” as the adverts say. Now, you can have all the fancy graphics and voxpop game clips in the world in your advert but nothing is going to beat official endorsement of your review as that of an overpaid footballer, and so we come to the national treasure that is The Sun. All the limeys know it, and most of the merkins do too. It's a redtop rag owned by Rupert Murdoch, the New York Post is modeled on it. The Sun – gawd bless'em – have a section on Monday called “Super Goals”. Now The Sun is not the most sophisticated of papers, it is targeted at the lowest common denominator and that is why it sells. Its hacks though are by no means stupid and it seems clear that they like to have a laugh at others expense as well. Why do I say this? Well the person they got to endorse “Super Goals” is none other than Frank Lampard of Chelsea. Nothing spectacular there I hear you say. He plays for England and is a big name. The advert takes the line of “Super Goals in the Sun with Super Frank”. Frank smiles and delivers his line wonderfully but for one tiny problem.........Frank Lampard has a seriously bad lisp.
What we actually get is “Thuper goals in the Thun with thuper Frank”
Now.... I'm sure somewhere in the marketing department of the Sun's Wapping office someone was watching “The Life of Brian”, saw the “welease woderwick” bit and then heard Bigus Dickus speak and exclaimed “I think I know how we can take pith and get away with it!”
Now you know why I rambled on about them being “thick as pigshit” and having “more money than sense”.
I remember one morning from when I was back in high school. At this time I would have been around 14 years old. We had just finished form meaning that the morning settling in and register had been dealt with and the first lesson had begun. The first lesson was design and technology, this translated to wood shop. I hated shop quite a bit as I have no ability when it comes to building things. To this day I have some weird lump of metal on my key ring that’s misshapen form attests to my cack handedness with tools. As it was early the majority of the delinquent scum I shared my class with had yet to show up. I was therefore relatively relaxed although I still had to be sure not to draw to much attention from my asshole shop teacher who hated children, probably because they all took the piss out of his speech impediment. I much preferred the hard subjects. Mostly because I was good at them and the goons I learned with didn’t have access to tools with which to menace one another and myself. |
I had just managed to get all the stuff I needed to build that day together in a corner when I felt a hard steel edge brought up around my throat. The blade was long and cold, it felt sharp enough to do harm. I immediately cursed myself for not paying more attention. Working in a corner and facing away from the door and the rest of the room was a rookies error. I must have been tired. In any case I concluded that the blade was being held correctly meaning that if drawn across my throat it would have opened an artery and id be in deep shit also the hold was being applied correctly and would therefore be difficult to brake. Although my hands were free I could not see any kind of attack I could use which would have prevented my assailant from executing a killing manoeuvre.
In the second or two it took to consider these realities my attacker spoke. It turned out to be an acquaintance of mine who was not normally violent. He demanded money. I did not find this even remotely surprising or shocking. Do not misunderstand me, I had been surprised and this was quite frightening but the fact it was happening at all seemed quite normal. Hoping that he would be satisfied by capitulation I slowly reached into my pocket and withdrew the few pieces of silver I happened to have that day. This amounted to around 40 pence. I figured a chocolate bar was a small price to pay for my life although I considered it far more likely at this point that he would kill me for fun. I held the money out to my side and vaguely wondered where that misanthropic sod teacher was at.
The blade was withdrawn and the guy burst into laughter “I can’t believe you thought I’d kill you” he got out between giggles. The blade turned out to be a steel ruler. He held it out for inspection. It had felt sharp but I saw now that only the corner could have cut me. As he rolled about with laughter and some nearby students joined him I did not laugh, nor did I feel particularly embarrassed I simply rearranged my tools and moved a short way so that I could see where everyone was and so that I had a clear run of the door. From my experience mobs were liable to turn nasty even when entertained. I could not be seen from a cursory glance from outside either. Roaming enemies of mine who could frequently be found wandering the halls while they were meant to be in lesson would not see me unless they checked the room more closely. I selected a long heavy implement with a sharp end that I did not actually need and added it to my collection of tools.
I continued my work in silence.
I remember when I first got into computers in 1988. Dallas had this giant outdoor HAM Radio and Computer swap meet that was legendary to nerds across the United States and took place once a month and was called appropriately enough "The First Saturday Sale" people from all over the country attended this outdoor spectacle buying and selling anything that was involved with HAM Radio, Radio Control, and Computer Parts. This swap meet had been around since the 1960’s but prior to computers has mostly been a Ham Radio and CB Radio event that had limited but devoted numbers who always showed up rain or shine. This was the early days of 386-486 quality computer goods and long before people started selling new wholesale computer parts at electronics swap meets. It was simply a collection of large parking lots near downtown Dallas that all connected and if you wanted to sell parts you pulled into a parking spot and paid $10 to hawk whatever trash or treasures you had, most people got there early enough to go buy some really good stuff and then bring it back to their car to re-sell to the novices and neophytes who arrived around daybreak looking for great deals with pockets full of money. By the time the sun came up it was miles of geeks, nerds, and dweebs. If you got there any later than midnight on Friday 12:00am you stood a great chance of missing out some real treasures. All the good stuff was gone by 3:00 am. |
It never failed to amaze me, seeing this army of nerds (myself included) out in force so early armed with flashlights and black coffee. People crawled through piles of circuit boards and rummaged through the backs of bobtail trucks full of anything electrical/electronic imaginable. I once looked at this giant wiring assembly for something strange and I asked “What the hell is that”....and was told ..."Oh...this is the guidance system from a HARM missile it’s $50 and I'll throw in some 286 motherboards if you buy it”. It was not uncommon to find surplus Government and Military electronics that had accidentaly made their way into the public sector.
I tromped around out there in the dark in all kinds of weather for years searching for whatever deals could be found. I found my share of deals and disasters. Back in the day when SCSI and ESDI hard drives were high dollar ( 600-700 meg server drives could easily cost $2500 ) finding ones that worked for a cheap price at the outdoor sale was like finding the Hope Diamond at a thrift store. I usually went to the electronics sale with my buddy Joe who repaired hard drives and had a degree in electronics he could spot a deal a mile away and I learned plenty watching him navigate through piles of garbage computer parts and he had a knack for always finding the stuff that had actual resale value. Joe and I saw this dude standing by the open trunk of his car around 2:00am and went over to see what he had......he had 10 dead Full Height Hitachi ESDI hard drives and would take $200 for everything....Joe looked carefully at each of the drives, the revisions of the circuit boards, and even the color of the cabling on the stepper motors. Joe said "We'll give you $150 for everything" the guy agreed and Joe elbowed me in the ribs to pay the man. As we walked away Joe was almost in tears......"Oh My God! Dude we just struck the fuckin mother lode" he informed me that “Brand New” the drives could be sold for around $1000 each any day of the week. I informed him that they all were dead and I was out $150 bucks. Joe told me that he'd looked at the manufacturer dates on the drives and they were all made 3 years ago….just so happens that Hitachi had a 5 year replacement warranty on their high dollar drives and we would be getting 10 new drives for the 10 dead ones we now had in a duffle bag. Life was good.
It took a couple of weeks to sort out the returns (RMA's) and get the replacement drives. One by one they all arrived….brand spanking new Hitachi 670 meg ESDI drives factory fresh and factory boxed. We put an ad in the Dallas Morning News computer section and listed them at $850 each with warranty and had them all sold within (4) days. We split the $8500 down the middle.
I have used that 3-5 year warranty trick that I learned from Joe on numerous occasions:
Once at the First Saturday Sale in the early 90’s I bought (20) Elographics touch screen monitors (the kind you see in kiosks) that all cracked screens from some guy who drove them down from Chicago. I got the lot for $250 and did some research to learn Elographics had 3yr replacement warranties on this specific model touch screen. I got all new touch screens and then wound up selling all 20 back to Elographics for $375 each.
Most recently I bought some dead Quantum DLT Tape Drives (40/80)……that interestingly enough were still under warranty and all I had to do was pay shipping back to Quantum, the whole deal cost me $55 to get new drives back and I sold them on eBay for $500 each.
Sure I’ve bought some real crap in hopes of making a small fortune only to learn there was no market or no value in the items……or even worse that they were stolen! On several occasions I've put ads in local newspapers stating "I buy any and all computer equipment CASH $$$ 24 hrs a day" you would not believe some of the responses I've gotten and some of the stuff I've seen. I once purchased a couple of new Toshiba notebooks with accessories for $400 each from an individual only to be contacted by the local police a few days later and told to bring all the gear around to the police station. The detective promised he would try to get my money but said I should have questioned what a 14yr old was doing with new notebooks for sale.
I prefer remembering the good deals.
I was thinking back on some of the funnier blogs I've seen on the front page here, and how even something that had the potential to be dull was rescued, in part, by the presence of a camera.|
Yeah, I have this tiny, ancient, crappy digital camera -- not sure if it works with my laptop yet, but that's neither here nor there. Point of the matter is ... putting together my weedwhacker would actually be a lot more interesting if I had pictures. Come to think, the aftermath of my using a chainsaw would be much better -- you could all have shots of my left thigh, severed and gushing blood. I could photograph the EMTs' blood-splattered faces. I guess photographing the process of cleaning my saddle would amuse few, save MstrG (leeeaaather).
I could have photographed the amazing amount of stuff that my friends crammed into their tiny, one-bedroom apartment, and which we somehow managed to help them move (it took 3 days, total, to get everything down the stairs). I could have photographed our pro-wrestler-wannabe friend balancing their kitchen table on top of his head ("I have a really flat head," he said.).
You could have received before-and-after shots of my office during the annual chuck-and-clean event (I can see the floor now, and my dog no longer hops about all over my work.). That's not really fun, though, unless you count the fact that I did the initial cleaning while naked, to avoid having more laundry to deal with. Together, we could spy on the neighborhood kids (yay for Goatboy?) who try to set fire to things (petty arsonist shits). I could show you the look of terror on strangers' faces when I open the front door, and my dog tries to eat them. I only let her scare the evangelical types. Sometimes, they wander the neighborhoods, playing shit music on their guitars, while some of their buddies knock on doors to try to save our souls. I could have taken a picture of the weird-ass shit I took the other day.
Together, we could experience the joys of midgets with mullets who try to hitch rides. One looks like Richard Simmons, and also wears rainbow suspenders. I could show you just how poorly people drive here (stopping in INTERSECTIONS to check maps, deciding to suddenly turn in front of lanes of speeding traffic, etc.). We could all laugh at the ugly people who work in some of the offices on campus (i.e., the man/woman whose voice does not even help you determine what sex it is -- it has tits and stubble, and its voice alternates between male and female. It has a mullet as well.).
We could watch hummingbirds get drunk on my patio flowers. We could see who gets drunk enough to strip at the next party. We could catch bank robbers and other naughty people. We could become spies!
But, alas, these words will have to suffice.