Monday, June 19, 2006

Fresh gossip

Well, now my neighbors have something to talk about. Living in an apartment complex is somewhat akin to living in a goldfish bowl – just slightly drier and with walls, windows, and doors and curtains – OK so maybe it isn’t like a fishbowl at all but you get my meaning. They have two somethings actually. One was the rare daylight sighting of the nocturnal occupant of apartment 12, and two was seeing another human at my apartment. Well, not just another human, but a human of the female variety (and the attractive female variety at that) dropped me off this morning (sparing me the long hot sojourn home from the library.)

You see the usual visitors to my apartment are smelly simian males who want to borrow my tools. (I am still missing a wire stretcher and a left-handed metric pipe wrench.) Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even come to my door. The mailman does but he gets paid to. The last visitor I had got fed to the veggie drawer monster (VDM) (refer to Paper and Plastic and Lint for more details on this mythological creature). I am sure that I have had another female around the place but she didn’t sign the guest register so I don’t have a record of it. That is unless you count the red-headed Amazon (RHA)(whom the VDM is afraid of), but I try to block those memories out. They are definitely not well assembled female type persons. (A few poorly assembled ones have staggered up on the porch, but they are usually scared off by the torch-wielding peasants.)

The daylight sighting will be talked about like Bigfoot around here. Usually everyone determines my living status by setting traps or looking in the dumpster for frozen dinner cartons (evidence of either me or that the VDM has learned to use the microwave - which is entirely possible). Usually as long as they don’t smell to many bad odors emanating from my abode they assume I am still alive. About a month ago I stumbled into a trap left by the little old lady next door, when she set me free she told me that she was getting worried about me. Good thing she came out when she did because I was starting to gnaw through my cane to get away.

So now there will be new gossip flying around the building. That is until something more exciting happens. Like the VDM getting out and eating all the cats or at least doing battle with the RHA. If that happens I will sell tickets.

My treatise on sports

I was talking to a friend about sports today. She said she didn’t understand what the point of racing was all about. I was going to try to explain it to her, but it is something you either like or you don’t. Not that she isn’t capable of understanding it, she just wouldn’t care to. (I include that last sentence in the interest of self preservation.)

If you know me you know that I like racing. Not just stock car racing, but all kinds of racing. I like cars racing, truck racing, boat racing, horse racing, bicycle racing, airplane racing. I went to visit a buddy of mine in the hospital this week and there were two guys in wheelchairs going across the lobby of the I stopped and cheered them on. Most racing has only one rule – get there first. I can understand that. Oh sure there are the three R’s of racing (rules, regulations, and requirements) but basically the first guy there wins. It is uncomplicated and you can take a nap in the middle and still be able to figure out what is happening. Other sports I am not so sure about.

Canadians are rabid about hockey. I can’t figure out why a bunch of toothless guys want to strap razor blades to their feet, pick up oversized tongue depressors and chase a Ho-ho around sheet of ice; trying to whack it into a fish net in between the fights. But Canadians also brought us curling – the sport that consists of chasing a broken bowling ball down a frozen hallway with brooms. Maybe it has something to do with the amount of ice they have up there – they have to do something with it.

And speaking of bowling what is the point. You pick up a chunk of some unidentifiable material and hurl it across a hardwood floor (which you aren’t allowed to walk on) and try to knock down little snowmen. If I had thrown heavy objects at my mom’s hardwood floor she would have chased me down the hallway with a broom(not to be confused with a curling broom), not to mention what she would have done when the snowmen melted.

The dumbest sport is golf. A bunch of supposedly sane people take deformed sticks and whack a ball across a yard trying to get it into a cup. The real art in golf is cussing. I know I used to work at a golf course. I heard things out there that would make a merchant marine go running for his mommy with his ears covered.

Then consider basketball. A mob of genetic mutants bounce a pumpkin across a hardwood floor (my mom wouldn’t like that either) and toss it into a broken fishnet. At least the Canadians have a whole net. When the genetic mutants get tired of chasing the pumpkin they amuse themselves by attacking people in the stands.

Soccer is a lot like hockey but it comes from ice deprived, warmer countries where they have to contend with things like sunshine and grass while chasing a pumpkin instead of a ho-ho. And they don’t have tongue depressors. They aren’t even allowed to use their hands. Sounds like a good sport for double amputees. (It was a joke please don’t send me scathing emails – I wasn’t equating double amputees with lower intelligence soccer players.)

Baseball and softball are other odd past times. Where else do you see a bunch of guys look like they don’t want to have anything to do with the ball. One who is standing on an anthill guy throws it to a guy who doesn’t want it so he hits it with a branch. Then a bunch of guys in the yard throw the ball at each other until it finally gets back to the guy who is standing on the big ant hill. Since no one wants to touch it if they don’t have to they all wear oven mitts. The guy with the branch has a pot on his head. The guy on the anthill doesn’t want the ball so he throws it at the guy who whacks it with a branch and the whole thing starts again. Sometimes one of the guys with the branch gets lucky and smacks the ball out of the yard and into Mrs. Petrofski’s petunias. The other guys are so glad that the evil ball is gone they let the guy run around the yard by himself then swat him on the butt. I am not sure why they do that. Then the dumb guy wearing the black coat flings another evil ball to the guy on the anthill and they do it again until all the people in the stands get tired of watching and go home. Mrs. Petrofski runs around her yard talking to herself about the hoodlums that are ruining her flowers and then puts the evil ball in a box with the others.

Football isn’t really football at all it is more like hand ball but that is another can of worms. In football a bunch of guys take a small watermelon and fight over it. Unlike baseball they all want the watermelons. The spend a couple of hours running all over the pasture chasing watermelon. When someone runs it to the end of the pasture (but not into Mrs. Petrofski’s petunias) they get a chance to kick the watermelon through a giant broken pitchfork, but first they have to fight off a swarm of ants that run into their pants (perhaps the ants are trying to escape the evil baseball too).

Tennis I don’t understand at all, or its cousins handball, racquetball, volley ball, badminton, or Ping-Pong. With so many different names and ways to play it seems that no one else understands it either. I mean if it made sense someone would have made a standard set of rules and equipment. The basic rule of these games is to hit the ball, birdie, or whatever back and forth and try to make the other person miss it. Either that or you try to hit your opponent in a sensitive area, but I am not sure.

Boxing isn’t a sport. You take two overgrown bullies, put oversized oven mitts on them, and put them in a pig pen and let them beat on each other. In school it was called a visit to the principals office, and if there wasn’t a good reason for it - a meeting with daddy at home. I personally always made sure I had a good reason. I am not so sure that the bullies in the pigpen have a good reason. I mean I can see the guy how got his ear bit off being mad at the psycho who bit him, but I don’t understand what they were doing there in their skivvies with oven mitts on their hands to begin with. On top of all of that they aren’t allowed to hit the other guy where the fight can end and everyone can go home. At least in wrestling (or wrassilin’ depending on where you are from and your waist to IQ ratio) they get to bite, kick, and swing furniture. But the bald headed guys should always be able to beat the dudes with hair down to their ankles. Maybe that is why most boxers are bald.

So as you can see racing is the only sport that makes any sense. They may only go round and round in circles, but the first one there wins – usually.

Paper and plastic and lint, Oh my. (With apologies to Dorothy and Toto)

So I finally did it. I took a deep breath and got to cleaning. No not the refrigerator (I simply shoved another sacrificial stray dog into it to appease whatever that thing is that growls at me from the vegetable bin) I am talking about my wallet. My wallet gets used for everything: filing system, phone directory, scheduler, and door stop basically everything but money. The impetus for this domestic undertaking was that I walked up to the CVS close to my house to get a drink. You guessed it a root beer.

I am not saying that my journey was undertaken in adverse weather conditions, but my shoes melted and the soles of my feet are now fused to my knees. In these conditions it is best to travel light. Recently my wallet has grown so heavy that it has begun to pull the left rear pocket out of my pants. It is so heavy that it forces my spine out of alignment. I have taken to carrying the engine block from the neighbor’s dump truck in my right rear pocket just to even things out. (Let me tell you he was mad when I decided to stop at the hospital to see a friend of mine who had just had surgery – who would have known that a construction contractor would need his dump truck on a Tuesday morning. I mean what ever happened to a wheelbarrow?)

At the counter I was asked for the thing every cashier wants these days – my (insert cute store name here) card. The little card that says you are allowed to have 3 cents off a can of Geisha mushrooms (yes an actual brand of mushrooms I found at CVS I was tempted to open one and see if a scantily clad mushroom woman popped out). The ensuing avalanche of bonus/discount/loyalty/makeyouthinkyouaregettingadeal cards (spell check just had an aneurysm), receipts, coupons, illegible phone numbers, decomposed business cards, forgotten appointment reminders, old prescriptions, and a half-eaten bologna sandwich nearly wiped out the camera display. So after stuffing it all back in and ferreting (yes I keep an actual ferret in my wallet) out the appropriate card (yes, it probably would have made more sense to look for it when it was all dumped out in the floor, but a little old lady had stopped screaming for help). (Now grammar check just stroked out.) I handed the card to the woman.

At my apartment I dumped the whole mess into the floor (and man is my neighbor mad about the wall) and began to sort through it. First came the receipts, notes, and business cards. I think I had a receipt for everything I have purchased in the last 75 years (and I am only 35) stuffed between the chunks of cow flesh that I have been lugging around. I found receipts for things that I have no idea what they are – like the receipt from Big-Lots for chemicals. (I am going to have to check around and see if I have a laboratory stashed in a drawer somewhere. Who knows, I may have discovered the cure for forgetfulness and… umm…what was I saying? Why hello pretty lady what a lovely shirt you are wearing today.) I found a receipt for all three of my kids. (If I could have found one for my ex-wife I would have tried to return her for a refund. I am sure that they wouldn’t have wanted her back either.) I found business cards for businesses that no longer exist. (Or possibly don’t exist yet. I think my wallet has an ability to influence space and time. I put money into the empty space and when it comes time to get it out it is gone.) Nearly all of the phone number have no name associated with them so I am either going to have to call the entire eastern seaboard to figure out who they belong to, or trash them all. The appointments have all been missed or rescheduled anyway so they got trashed. And I can’t remember what all the reminders were for so I stuffed them into a drawer. (Quite possibly the one containing the laboratory.) The coupons are all expires because when a cashier asks if I have one my Pavlovian response is, “no”. (That is until I get home and the wad of coupons falls on my foot causing me to have to hobble across the road to the hospital. (Which prompts more paperwork to stuff into my wallet. (I wonder how many parenthisis I can use in this one sentence. (My computer is liable to suck me in (like Tron) and give me a good thrashing for this (which would be funny (and I might find that part of my book that got lost (because I save things under titles and then forget what I called them and where I saved them (which is irritating (and causes me to think bad words (OK that last one was superfluous (how often do you get to use a word like that (I like big words (they sound neat))))))))))))). (13) (Grammar and spell check just cried out from their graves.) I unearthed enough paper products to recreate a Sequoia tree (leaves and all), any two works by Russian authors (they all weigh about 85 pounds don’t they?), a fully detailed 1/20 scale model aircraft carrier complete with a squadron of tiny paper airplanes (highly detailed paper airplanes), and three rolls of Charman Ultra.

Next I moved on to the makeyouthinkyouaregettingadeal cards. (At first I was going to build a house out of them but then I would have had to have zoning hearings and get building permits – plus I don’t have a coupon for glue.) ( I used to have bank cards and credit cards but the ex got those in the divorce – I just got the bills.) I have cards for stores that went out of business with the dinosaurs. I think I am going to invite all my friends over and have a makeyouthinkyouaregettingadeal card poker game. (I’ll see your Bi-Lo and raise you a Books-a-Million (BAM is consequently the only card I have which I had to pay for and which is currently expired (OK I suppose those cards for the out of business stores are technically expired too (let’s not get into the whole parenthesis marathon again.)))) I wonder how many forests of plastics they had to chop down to make all these cards. Somewhere a whole plastic ecosystem has been destroyed so we can save a penny on artichoke hearts. (Which will just get fed to the vegetable bin monster let’s face it no real human ever ate those things and lived to tell about it.) I even found a PetSmart card (which I got three days before my cat decided to take up residence in Kookamunga (either that or I left the refrigerator door open the monster got her.)

Once the paper and plastics were cleaned up and organized all that was left was lint. I am using that to knit a sweater – for the neighbor’s dump truck.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The boy and the snake

I was recently involved in a rather in depth discussion about a bad choice that I made in the past. The question was posed to me as to when I knew I had made a bad choice. My answer was I know it was bad from the beginning. I actually knew it was a bad decision when I still could have changed it. Then I was asked, “Well, why did you do it then?” My answer was in the form of an old story.

Once a boy was up on a mountain peak standing in the snow, holding his collar up against the wind, and he happened upon a Cobra. The boy looked at the serpent as it shivered.
“Little boy, I’m freezing. Please take me down the mountain where it is warm.”
The boy answered, “No, you are a poisonous snake and you will bite me if I try to pick you up. Even if you don’t then you will surely bite me when you are warm.”
The snake answered back, “No if you spare my life I will not bite you. You have my promise.”
The boy considered this all for a moment then carefully he picked the adder up and placed it in his satchel and began his hike down the slope. Soon he was home and he took the snake and placed him near the fire. Before long the snake began to warm and move around. The boy seeing how beautiful it was began to stroke its scaly skin. Then the snake bit him.
Incredulous the boy looked at his swelling arm and cried out, “but you promised not to bite me. Now I will die. Why did you bite me?”
To which the serpent answered, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

As for me I knew what I was getting into when I got into it. Why did I go ahead and do it any way. Perhaps it is in innate desire to be found wrong. Perhaps it was stubbornness. Perhaps it was stupidity. In the end it was a combination of these and other things. Now, like the boy, I must live with the consequences of my actions. And don’t we all from time to time look at the serpents we know we should walk away from and pick them up any way. Is it human nature to blunder headfirst into things we know we should avoid?
Maybe someday we will all learn from our mistakes and when it seems like we should run we will. Our survival instincts will win out over our desire to have the things that may come if we can somehow overcome our bad choices. Until then remember the boy and the snake. Knowing what not to get into will save a lot of wasted energy trying to get out of trouble we never should have been in in the first place.