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(06/25/11 - 9:45 PM)
Spent the morning at work, and then off to my sister-in-law's parent's homestead for their annual Fauxth of July get together. It's an intimitate gathering of about 20-30 people where all the folks from out of town camp, and where I am lucky enough to live right down the road, so I don't have to.
Interesting conversations were had, outdoor sports were played, and good beer was consumed. It was one of the better, laid-back afternoons that I have had in a long, long while.
My brother's friend Brian had brought two slip-and-slide-like water toys, and they were strung together for adults. The problem became clear that two wasn't enough to be super-fun, so later in the afternoon it was increased to five, which, with the help of two more hoses, proved to be a sound number.
I decided to get off of my lazy butt and play a little badminton, which was fun until I landed on one foot's outer toes in a depression in the lawn. The pain was bearable, so I went on playing. After another minute, however, I realized that something was clearly wrong, based on the intense, unique pain, shooting out from my pinkie toe region. Taking my shoe and sock off, it was clear that I had somehow dislocated it. I managed to pop it back in, but I'm guessing it won't be pretty tomorrow.
Still, all in all, well worth the time and pain. Thanks again to Nick and Kathy for inviting us - you throw one hell of a party.
My brother's friend (and mine as well), Mark Dickson, was gracious enough to provide me with his latest two albums under his performing name, Nests and I can't wait to give them a listen.
(06/24/11 - 10:26 PM)
This is an art piece that I discovered on a friend's web site. It's meant to be poignant and does have a message, so it's probably not for everyone. But I thought it was pretty damn cool.
"This picks up on some the themes from The Veneerists, but with a keener focus on the American mortgage crisis. This piece suggests (to me at least) that the process of home ownership–of initial acquisition, of upgrading, of always moving on and up–is something of a game, with all a game entails. There are specific rules for success, winners and losers, and a blind sort of ambition to achieve success in a moral and financial vacuum.
As in The Veneerists, the starting point here was looped audio gleaned from public domain 1950's films and footage. Slowly, it becomes a sort of game, invoking the sounds of 1980's classics like Megaman. Over time the music becomes a soundtrack; we’ve moved from blithe 1950's family homes to video game point acquisition, to a film in which we’re spectators. These movements intertwine and confound over time, allowing Ryan’s video both room to breathe, as well as room to ask its own questions and posit its own meanings."- Mark Dickson
Untrue Events from Ryan Molloy on Vimeo.
(06/20/11 - 8:05 AM)
Why we have Teddy Bears:
(06/19/11 - 8:05 AM)
Greetings all! It is I, Plinky the House Elf!
It has been quite some time since I found the time to communicate with you at large, and for that I apologize. In truth, Master Heath very rarely moves his corpulent corporeal self away from the computer long enough to relieve himself, let alone let me do my valuable research into what it means to be human. And I've been busy learning something called 'Shaolin Kung Fu', which takes a great deal of time contemplating nothingness. I still have not gotten the hang of that, and usually find myself humming something you humans call 'The Battle Hymn Of The Republic', unbidden.
But, as always, I persevere!
Today is Father's Day, once again. And since I've learned all there is to know about this subject - and shared it with you already a while ago - I felt compelled to dig deep into the human customs and traditions I find so bizarre to assist you at large with understanding something new and strange about yourselves.
It took some thought, but I finally settled on something that Master Heath is always complaining about and I found more and more curious. So, dear readers, today I have chosen to present my findings on something called 'health care'.
Now, as a House Elf, it goes without saying that I never become ill. So for me to understand the entire concept of illness versus normalcy, a great deal of time and effort went into my research.
For starters, I found that health care is designed to confound the user (i.e. - humans) so that using it is only a last-resort condition. I think that this makes sense, because otherwise all of your hospitals, clinics, and physician's offices would be jam-packed with people who might understand better and then nothing would get done, and the doctor's would never have time for something called 'golf'.
I also found that there are levels within levels of health care. It seems from my research that hospitals are the most comprehensive places to go when one feels ill. But being comprehensive, I found that the builders of hospitals still needed to confound things further by placing secondary services either off-site, or in an inconvenient location often called 'sub-basement four', whatever that means. I mean, if the basement is the bottom, then shouldn't the floors above it just be floors? What's wrong with you humans?
Conversely, the places that are most readily available for health care have limited services within the confines of the building, so as to make the potential user of their services have to drive or walk somewhere else. I have found that this was most likely intentional, so as to give the potential service user more time to consider whether they are truly ill, or just faking it and bored.
Finally! Something that makes sense to me!
So, if one takes the time to unfurl the documentation about the health care they have at their disposal, and finally understands not only the verbiage but also the nomenclatures, acronyms, Latin, and - I'm pretty sure, Swahili - within the confines of their 'policy documentation', and still feels compelled to seek assistance, and can get beyond the first and second tiers of healthcare to the top - or 'hospital' - level, and can then persevere long enough to find sub-basement four without accidentally walking off the rooftop helipad, then one has earned the right to finally be treated because they really have proven to the world that they must be ill.
Oh, unless there's something called a 'pre-existing condition' in play. This appears to be a game changer, and negates your ability to feel ill, whether you like it or not.
It now occurs to me that something Mistress Wanda and Master Heath enjoy a great deal must be modeled on this: Super Mario Brothers. I finally understand what is happening when they play this game. They are practicing getting the little man the healthcare he needs. Along the way, he has to prove he needs it, and is rewarded with 'power ups' and 'extra lives' (which seems silly, but I'm sure it's merely a metaphorical oversight) until finally he gets to the helipad but doesn't walk off. Having never seen the end of the game (it takes forever, apparently - exactly paralleling once more the health care system, and bolstering my theory) I can only surmise that I have hit on the solution to this bizarre behavior known as 'video gaming': Poor little Mario is simply sick!
Once health care is administered, we find yet again a perverse and strange set of circumstances and rituals. For example, it turns out that sometimes, people who are not sick at all with go out of their way to be made sick, so as not to be sick later! This is called, 'innoculation' and only made sense to me when I considered the context of missing, say, Cousin Ernie's wedding (don't even get me started on those) that you feel that you cannot, so you elect to get sick then, rather than later. I'm not entirely clear on the entire thing, so I won't delve too much further.
On the opposing end of things, we also find that sometimes the human body knows what's good for it and, via telomeres, reproduces cells that become known as 'cancer'. Humans seem to dislike these and wish to have them removed, even though their bodies clearly feel that they should be there. Which confounds me.
Conversely again, humans also find it necessary to second-guess their corporeal inner-workings by adding and augmenting things that the body has elected to (or elected not to) produce. These include something called, 'Big boobs', 'long wieners', 'facelifts', 'tummy tucks' and - most disturbingly - something called 'bling' that takes many forms of skin piercing, tattooing, branding, augmenting, and on and on.
Apparently, a great many people feel that their body is simply doing everything wrong, and they know better than centuries of either evolutionary biology or religious creationism. This stems from humanity being unable to figure out why they're here in the first place, which TRULY seems stupid to me. How can you not agree on even THAT?
You know what? I had this whole lesson outlined and spent days preparing for this presentation, yet as I type this I find myself dizzying in the cranium. You humans make no sense. And I cannot spend another moment attempting to present this case without listening to what MY body is telling me: That my flinkerschnitzel will continue to throb until I drop this subject.
So, until next time, dear reader!
(06/18/11 - 8:13 PM)
What a great day.
Spent the morning at work, then went to visit my Dad for a bit. We sat outside, and watched the wildlife menagerie that is their chock-full-of-feeders-backyard, much to our collective amusement.
The best entertainment came from a pair of juvenile squirrels who were doing the craziest things that I, in all my 36 years, have never seen a squirrel do. It went beyond simple 'frolicking', and was just amazing to watch.
We talked about nothing in particular, and the weather was pleasant, as it was still late morning.
Then it was home to pick up Wanda and run some errands. Picked up lunch on the way home, and then we went outside to install an articulated umbrella into our existing deck structure. With a lot of sweating and swearing (all on my part) we got the job done.
I then replaced the window well cover that was destroyed in a storm about three weeks ago. I had bought the thing that week, but then got complacent about installing it and so in the garage it sat.
When I had to rescue a mouse from the confines of the window well the other day (after he had chewed the crap out of my window screen), I knew it was long past time, and that my procrastination had yielded nothing more than more work (replacing the screen), and the antics of one very pissed off and frightened mouse. Which, to be fair, was so damn cute it almost made it worth it.
With that done, I then read the afternoon away. I finished George R.R. Martin's, "A Game Of Thrones", a book that had been recommended to me by two of my brother's close friends.
And they were spot-on with this recommendation. This book was immense in both size and scope. It is the first in (currently) a series of five monster books, outlining the lineages, histories, politics, and intrigues of what are known as 'The Seven Kingdoms'. In fact, there are not only the seven, but other sub-factions, competing historical losers, and the wildcard yet to be addressed in the north, as well as the neutral watch.
To be honest, when I started reading this novel, I was ill-prepared for the mental challenge it presented. It was written in what I like to call 'spotlight segments': a series of jumps between characters to let you know what they're doing, while the others are doing something different at the same time. Usually, this culminates in a tying together of parties involved toward the end of the novel. It is, in fact, what a great number of authors, including myself, employ successfully to keep suspense at a maximum and keep the pages turning. The problem with it here, is that there's just too much happening to too many individuals. From the first page, we are deluged with names, and titles, and begetting, and inter-marrying, and on and on. And with more than twenty-plus factions and subfactions, their families, knights, handmaids, cooks, chimney sweeps, and what have you, I got lost by about page seven.
I was mildly annoyed by this, but I elected to forge ahead as this is a problem I've faced before and eventually gotten a grasp on. This is probably why I enjoyed a number of books like this more on the second and third readings: I could put things together more clearly, having experienced it all once before.
Once I got rolling, I found that I liked the book more and more. My only gripe (and it's a fleeting one) is that this entire novel felt like a partial setup of something greater than itself. And, I'm guessing, it is just that. The upside is that now that I've completed 'priming the engine' I get to see it run in the subsequent offerings.
Or so my hope goes.
So, I can recommend this book only to those of you who enjoy sweeping fantasy, and are also willing to know that you're going to need to put in 70+ hours at a minimum to see the whole thing through. If you're up for the challenge, the reward appears to be substantial. But you'll have to earn it, and that is a major turn off to some readers.
(06/17/11 - 7:52 PM)
Got the lawn mowed, in light of the fact that the weather forecast (which, to be fair, has been a whole lot of wrong of late) is calling for rain for the next three days. To be fair, it was supposed to rain today, but apparently it was postponed. Probably due to a sporting event, if karma is involved.
Ran some errands after washing the inevitable stink off (it was 89° and humid as I mowed in full sun).
And, really, there's nothing interesting to report, so I probably could have skipped this entry altogether. Except then you wouldn't know that I mowed my lawn. And I wouldn't want ANYONE to miss out on that little tidbit.
(06/16/11 - 5:21 PM)
Ladies & Gentlemen:
That is all.
(06/15/11 - 6:42 PM)
This week: Mr. Phillips Screwdriver and the magical bendy metal!
Apparently, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver was unhappy with the way the air hoses around his machine were hung and strung. His solution? He chose to ignore all the usual implements on the path to rectifying this - perceived - problem: wire coat hangers in abundance, zip ties, bungee cords, nylon twine, and probably some other things that one could use, but wouldn't make a ton of sense given the abundance of the aforementioned.
Nope, instead, he went into our welding area. He not only took TiG welding rod, he elected to take stainless rod. And not just ANY stainless rod. Nope! Just the best stuff for him! He chose the 316 stainless rod - a high nickel and molybdneum stainless steel. The cost for a 1" x 2" x 36" box? More than he makes in two days.
So, he takes dozens of these rods, and creates a veritable habitrail for his hoses. Our welder found them this morning, and politely blew a gasket. He kept his cool, but approached me and asked if I had authorized it, because it was the most expensive rod we had, and wasn't really meant for that.
I said that I hadn't, and I thanked him for bringing it to my attention.
Handling it seemed simple. I elected to go hands-off, and simply leave a note on Mr. P.S.'s time card stating that he was not to use this welding rod - or any welding rod, actually - for this or any other purpose. I then proposed viable alternatives *(see above).
My welder took the rod back to his area, and will attempt to use it.
So, I figure, problem solved. Right?
Say it with me kids: 'NOPE!'
The next morning, we find that he has re-strung the entire works using another round of the same rod.
I can't even begin to vocalize my consternation at his apparent inability to grasp the written English language, nor logic.
So, my Expediter beats me to the punch when Mr. P.S. arrives for work (And God bless him for it, because I didn't even know where to begin).
He asks all the leading questions and, it turns out, he just didn't think that the note really pertained to him.
So, my Expediter takes the time and energy to outline any and all scenarios that might arise where Mr. P.S. might once more feel the need to raid the welding rod stash, and he subsequently should not, up to and including an armed marmot uprising or nuclear winter.
Even so, we're still not sure that the message was received.
(06/13/11 - 9:06 PM)
Thanks to my frined John for finding this one:
(06/12/11 - 8:22 PM)
"It is one thing to live like you are dying. It's quite another to live like you're trying to die." - Me
(06/11/11 - 7:51 PM)
Woke up too early, went to work, and came home to read. I did manage to read - but not for long. Sleep soon overtook me, and then it was dinner time. And I was too tired to read more. So, I guess that's that.
(06/10/11 - 6:23 PM)
Sorry, had to get that out of my system. It's been a long, and trying week.
This weekend, I plan on reading as much as possible, followed by a tri-fecta graduation party for the Boggie clan. I'm so proud of you guys!
(06/09/11 - 8:12 PM)
Got the lawn mowed in-between rainfalls. I had to enlist the help of one of my employee's sons, but it was worth staying off the hip. Plus, I got to work more, so it more than paid for itself.
Got the trees trimmed and a few other little things done before calling it a day. Now I just need my hip to start cooperating again.
I did FINALLY get a signed, lined and dated copy of Robert V.S. Redick's final installment in the Red Wolf Conspiracy Trilogy, "The River Of Shadows" - a book that appeared across the pond on April 21st, and that I have been hitting the 'refresh' button on ABEBooks.com for as often as I use my computer, in the hopes of catching one in this state as soon as someone put one up for sale. And I think I caught it within hours of being there. Just the one, in fact. Awesomesauce.
So, now, my signed, lined, and dated trilogy is complete, making it not only an amazing read, but a far more valuable collection when taken as a whole. Woot!
(06/08/11 - 7:56 PM)
Attention! Mr. Phillips Screwdriver is about to take over this entry. You have been warned...
Late this afternoon, I was walking to the back of the shop. As I passed the newest machine, I heard a sound like an air hose popping its fitting. As I looked over, I saw by the look on my operator's face that he had heard it as well.
We both discussed what we had heard, and looked for an obvious source. As we were looking, a third employee came from across the aisle, and mentioned he had heard the noise AND seen a flash.
Behind this particular machine are two of our five, large, breaker panels. So, starting at the beginning, I opened the panels. In the first nothing was amiss, but in the second, a breaker had been tripped. By this time the employees were on break, so I went to find them.
"I found a tripped breaker. I didn't want to reset it, in case something goes wrong, as your machines are still running. After break, let's come to a stopping point and re-set the breaker and see what we see."
Break ended, and my operator went to the panel, found the offending breaker, and flipped it. I heard two more 'pops', and saw both smoke coming from the opposing panel, and a freaked-out employee who looked like he had just seen Jesus.
I went over to investigate, as he was about to flip the breaker again.
"Don't - just a minute," I said. I now noted that the original breaker was tripped, as well as two more in the adjoining box. Not realizing how stupid I was being (and I'm in charge, mind you), I let him try and reset them once again.
Now the pop was LOUD, and the smoke was HEAVY. We could see a shower of sparks in the top of the adjoining box, and now five breakers were down.
"Alright," I said one breaker too late, "Don't touch anything. I'm calling the electrician."
Which is what I should have said earlier.
So, I call the electrician, who hems and haws about coming right up until I get to the part about explosions and smoke. Then he appears to grasp the gravity of the situation, and graciously agrees to come immediately. Which was much appreciated, because nothing was forcing him to do so.
So, as the electrician is en-route, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver reports in for work. Six minutes later, one of the operators in the know flys into my office, and lets me know that he had to shoo Mr. P.S. away from the panel with extreme prejudice, and I need to get out there before he kills himself or blows something up.
Here's what happened: Upon arrival, he somehow got wind of what had happened. He then took it upon himself to meander over, open the panel doors, and was pontificating on what was wrong. As he was about to throw one of the blown breakers (which we have already proven was a stupid idea on my part), the operator stops him. He decides he knows better, and moves to remove the panel cover, at which point the operator becomes more verbally forceful. This momentarily stops his hands, but not the monologue. The other operator in the area runs interference, as the operator attempting to thwart Mr. P.S. flys into the office to find me.
As I arrive on the scene, he's still pontificating in monologue mode, advising no one in particular what's happening in a situation he knows very little about.
I plead with him to step away - a certified and licensed electrician is en-route, and he'll fix the problem just fine on his own. Further, I advise that no good will come of monkeying with it further, and that I really need him doing his job now, rather than playing electrician.
Apparently this was Mr. P.S. speak for, "Please tell me what you think is wrong inside a panel you cannot see within, and explain why I am stupid for buying this brand."
It takes a pair of minutes to talk him down from the suicidal mission he has set himself upon and, begrudgingly, he moves on to his own area.
The ultimate question is: What would have happened if he HAD kicked the breaker or opened the panel? I shudder to think.
(06/07/11 - 6:01 PM)
Some photos of our Missouri boat slip (ours is the one on the front right) during the recent flooding on Table Rock Lake. Thanks to our good friend, Ed, for these images:
(06/06/11 - 11:22 PM)
I want to be famous. I admit it - I do. I want to be famous enough to gain noteriety, but not so famous that I can't do my own grocery shopping. Perhaps this is why I whore myself out as an author: I see it as a stepping stone to noteriety.
Why would anyone want this? Or, not want this, conversely? My reasons are self-serving, but also benevolent. Specifically, I want to be inspirational to those like me - those who have struggled for just about everything they have. I want to be the mentor to them that Mr. Dave Klingenmeyer was to me growing up. Without his guidance, I can honestly say that I would not be in the position I am today.
His guidance taught me the value of hard work, the value of a dollar, and the value of choosing a marriage partner wisely. And that's just for a start. He also taught me that excelling is the only rational thing you can do with the gifts one is given, and that anything less is a detriment to yourself. And he was right.
While he wasn't always a perfect role model, he was certainly a solid one, and one I would gladly foist upon others in a heartbeat.
So, now - back to me. I want to be a writer. For good or ill, I truly am self-deluded enough to believe that I could do it on a professional level. I know that, were it not for work and life, I would be able to write more prolifically than I currently do. Specifically, I have trouble picking up the thread of story when I've left it behind for even a short amount of time. I also get into a groove when I write, but it takes a while to ramp up to it. Both things are hindered greatly by outside forces.
So, if I can actually become a writer, I can expand my horizons as one exponentially, while also gaining notoriety so that I can do the mentoring that matters to me as well. Not that I haven't tried mentoring - because I have. On the few occasions that I have, I have found that the initial inroads were astonishing but, in the end, the individuals chose the easier way over the right one. Which really hit hard, after all the hopes I had misplaced in their self-betterment. The positive thing is that while others have told me I was a fool, I chose not to let that get in my way of trying. And I would do it again in a heartbeat, if it meant that I had to do it a hundred times with only one success. That one success would be worth it, to me.
The second thing I would do with fame would be to advance my own personal likes and agendas, in the hopes that I would speak to someone on a meaningful level. I could bring light to others who I felt might otherwise be overlooked. I would even like to run for office some day. I think the highest calling I have is to become political in a meaningful way and - for good or ill - make a solid difference in a society that I always bitch so much about.
So, in closing: I like to ramble about fame and - oh, yeah - vote for me!
(06/05/11 - 11:22 AM)
I learned this morning that I was nominated for, and chosen for, the Books In Sync, May, 2011 Visitor's Choice Award.
Thank you to everyone who nominated me (I didn't even know this existed) - it's a priviledge to have readers - and friends - like you. Plus, the badge is green, and matches my book cover - bonus!
(06/04/11 - 8:12 PM)
Today went absolutely nothing like I thought it might.
At the last minute, I found out that one of my long-lost friends, who I found again on Facebook™, was participating in a fundraiser / craft show in Machesney Park. On a whim, I asked if she would be interested in selling my book at her booth (with profit to her, of course) and she generously agreed.
I got up early, and went to meet her where the show was being held. It's amazing how 15 years disappear when you re-connect with someone from so long ago. It was truly great to see her again.
As we entered the venue, I found that yet another long-lost, dear friend was also an exhibitor. She, in turn, also knew my other long lost friend, so now they had someone in common to talk with as the day wore on.
Now, it turns out that THIS friend makes hand-made baby quilts. And they're gorgeous. And she sells them far too inexpensively for the work and quality that it is immediately apparent goes into them*. When I returned to pick up my unsold books that afternoon, I didn't hesitate to purchase one for a young lady I still owed a baby gift to. It was a perfect fit.
*(If you're interested in one - and you should be - get ahold of me. Or visit Ramona McKee on Facebook™ and tell her I sent you.)
Between dropping off and picking up books, Wanda and I went to Madison for an oil change, lunch at Schlotzsky's Deli, and then to the two Half-Price Books in the area. I didn't find a single thing of interest on this outing (but you just never know with those places), but Wanda did find a book that was seeking as a gift for someone, and we got a nice walk out of the deal.
Driving home from the book pick-up, we stopped and got iced coffee's and it was like the sensual caffeine kiss of a long lost lover. They were just that good.
Arriving home, I fully intended to read - I >WANTED< to read - but I then fell asleep in the chair and had a nap instead.
Upon waking, it was clear that reading wasn't in the cards, so Wanda and I retired to the lower-level living area for the evening to watch "The West Wing", a show that we've been blowing through on DVD because, well - it's just so damn good.
Tomorrow, I really, REALLY do intend to get some reading done.
(06/03/11 - 7:14 PM)
(06/02/11 - 9:06 PM)
Here's a blast from the past: Sarah Dunn's seminal work on all things slack, "The Official Slacker Handbook".
I recall finding this book at random one day, and two of my friends and I subsequently buying it. It was the one summer I didn't work (best summer ever, BTW), and we spent hours poring over it, discussing it, and joking about how we fit the mold in so many places at that moment during late-night sessions over food at Denny's™. Some of the best times - and subsequent discussions - of my life were had over and about and inspired by this book.
It's poignancy is, to my sensibilities, timeless. And time and again, as the years pass and my hair retreats, I still find myself drawn into it's coveted pages.
(06/01/11 - 9:13 PM)
Finished Michael Connelly's "9 Dragons", and was once more pleased with what this perennial favorite of mine had brought to the table.
This time, we see Harry Bosch start his latest investigation in L.A., only to see it dramatically shift to Hong Kong, and then Kowloon (which, translated, means '9 dragons', F.Y.I.).
For me, this is the sort of thing that can make or break an author: He's branching out into something new, and perhaps uncomfortable, but also something that might bring new sparks of interest to his formidable works. Having seen so many authors fail to do so - or do so well - it was pleasant to see Mr. Connelly pull it off with his usual literary sense.
Way to go, sir.
This book, like so many others in his repertoire, read quickly, and never let me become complacent. It's amazing how a good writer can breeze you through 400 pages without you even realizing, versus so many writers who make you want to take a nap at several junctures throughout a work.
Way to go on this one, Mr. Connelly - I was most content.
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Paper or Plastic: The Cashier Chronicles