Monday, October 31, 2005


BlueTooth is the greatest technology not to catch on in the Twenty-First Century.

No kidding.

BlueTooth has been around for almost as long as its Viking namesake Blue Tooth. We all hope his name was due to being smacked in the face during a fierce battle and not due to a piece of spinach on his front tooth that his colleagues were either too polite, or terrified, to point out.

Yet, BlueTooth isn’t everywhere. It should be, it’s that cool.

All my clothes should have BlueTooth built in. All I’d have to do is pick out a shirt from my closet and it would communicate to all the matching garments which would light up. I’d dearly pay for such technology if only to never again hear:

“You’re not going to wear that shirt with those pants, are you? Seriously, now, you’re kidding, right?”

Yep, BlueTooth could be my salvation.

Those BlueTooth cell phone headsets are pretty cool, too. Talk about the Star Wars look! How cool is that? Well, it’s that cool. I wear one of those headsets even though my phone doesn’t support BlueTooth. I like walking around with a piece of blinking plastic in my ear.

It’s a babe magnet, too.

However, BlueTooth has its own pitfalls as illustrated by this conversation I had just the other day. It went something like this:

“Hey, how’s it going?”

“Er, fine. OK, I guess.”
“Yeah, yeah, OK, uh-huh. Whatcha doing for lunch?”

“Oh, I dunno. Grab a sandwich, I guess.”

“Uh-huh, yeah, OK. What’s happening at Bob’s house this weekend?”

“Bob? Uh, which Bob is that? I think there’s a BBQ planned.”

“Yeah, right, OK, uh-huh. When you getting off work?”

“Well, the usual time, I guess, around 5. Why do you ask?”

“Hey, honey, I can hardly hear you. I’ve got some weird-o jabbering away right in my ear. Inconsiderate creep. Call me back later.”

And with that, the stranger strode off purposefully to the salad bar. I overheard him say to a workmate

“See that guy there? He was yaking in my ear while I was on the phone. How rude is that?”

I’d been BlueToothed. How rude is that?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


For those of you who have been in a Walmart or Lowes or mall or department store of your choice, you have probably walked by a Christmas display and thought


It must have been just before Labor Day, early September, that I saw a stand of fake Christmas trees and thought “already?” Now, nearing the end of October the Christmas displays are crowding out the Halloween candy and costumes, and there’s no sign of Thanksgiving!

Has Thanksgiving been cancelled this year? How come I didn’t get the memo?

It is a sure sign of curmudgeonhood that one complains of the earlier and earlier commercialization of annual holidays.

“Why I remember when they didn’t have Christmas wrapping paper on sale until Christmas Eve – at 10 p.m.!”

“That’s nothing! We were too poor to afford a 10 p.m. We had to go from 9 to midnight directly!”

“You had a midnight? Whoa, you must’ve been rich…”

The real harbinger of the Christmas season, as we all know, is the daily arrival of catalogs. You’d think that LL Bean could send one catalog a week and spread thing out a bit, but, nooooooo, they think it’s better to send out 52 catalogs on one day.

Today, the Victoria’s Secret Christmas catalog arrived. Victoria’s Secret is a lingerie company that sells a strange mixture of exotic and practical “clothing” for women, although to be fair, they have a nice line of sensible pants, dresses, shirts and coats, not that I’ve ever managed to work my way to that part of the catalog. However, I’ve heard it’s nice. And practical. Did I mention practical?

Going through the mail it was, like, junk, junk, junk, bill, junk, bill, bill, oh-my-god-what-is-she-wearing?

“What’s who wearing?” a Voice from the other room said.

“Uh, we got a blender catalog from Wharing,” I offered hopefully.

“That’s nice,” said Voice.

“Nice isn’t half of it,” I mused, holding up the catalog for better light.

“What was that?” asked Voice.

“Uh, it would be nice to have it,” I was scrambling, “the blender from Wharing, that is. Nice. To have it. That is.”

You know, it was years before I realized that the Victoria’s Secret catalog was actually a catalog from which you could order real things. I mean, I saw the order form in the middle of the catalog, but I thought it was some kind of inside joke.

It was only when I left a bunch of catalogs out and asked the kids to circle anything they think Santa might, in his infinite generosity, deem appropriate to bestow upon them on Christmas morning, subject to approval, etc. Whatever.

That was the plan and among the LL Bean and Land’s End, Metropolitan Museum and Smithsonian suggestions was a single request from my daughter, light of my life, from Victoria’s Secret.

I didn’t even know what the thing was. Holding the catalog upside down didn’t help. I couldn’t tell if your wore it or painted it on. Yet, the price was right and in two shakes of a Victoria’s Secret model’s various anatomical bits, I ordered it.

It’s easy to understand why Victoria’s Secret can keep their prices so low. They save a bunch on shipping. I used to order hardware from Sears and the stuff weighed hundreds of pounds. It was made of steel.

Not so, VS.

The package arrived in a postage stamp that had been folded over. I nearly missed it in the mailbox.

“What’s this? A folded over postage stamp?”

Inside was the “garment.” Hmm, I thought, maybe I should have ordered a “medium.” It was like a microgram of fabric.
As I held it up I thought, well, it might fit a flea. A small flea.

Oh, well, at least it won’t need a lot of wrapping paper.

Christmas morning, daughter opened her tiny present with glee and anticipation. Holding the “garment” high for everyone to see she exclaimed:

“Oh, isn’t this pretty?”

Most of us looked away in embarrassment.

She paused. “Although, I might have to exchange it. I think it’s too big.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Astros Smastros

I'm sorry, but I'm not a baseball fan.

OK, I'll pack my bags and you can send me to Siberia, so long as they don't play baseball there.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against baseball, per se, it's just that I'm not a fan. I don't have a favorite team. I don't have a favorite player.

I just don't give a rat's ass about baseball.

My ambivalence towards baseball may stem from the pick-up games we had as a kid where I was the last player chosen. Yes, I was the Charlie Brown of my neighborhood, doomed to play the outfield forever.

Once we had an injury and the Coach asked if I could play Second Base. I lept at the chance. Second Base was my ideal position because I was fast, but I couldn't throw far. I was a disaster in the outfield. I was probably nearsighted at the time, too, which didn't help.

Anyway, I was brilliant at Second Base. I scored several outs and made a number of crucial plays. It was my finest moment. Then the Coach said that I was to go back to the outfield because the Second Base player was well. Coach told me that I was a good Second Base player but the other guy had started at second base and his parents sort of expected him to play that position and if I went back to Center Field where I would drop balls and be unable to throw them into the infield, well, that would help the team a whole lot.

So, I went out to Center Field and got yelled at a lot. I felt good, though, becuse I knew I was helping the team.

I sort of lost interest in baseball after that.

There was an article in the paper about a Houston team in some sort of play off. Are the Astros from around here?

I wouldn't know.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Ted and Me

As a kid I enjoyed being a pen pal. Pen pals, often people who had never met in person, exchanged letters and generally corresponded. I collected pen pals from several states and a number of countries. I saved the foreign stamps in my collection and kept all the letters in a cigar box.

Fast-forward to today and being a “pen pal” has taken on a whole new meaning with the Internet. Now, you can fire off a note to anybody who has an email address and usually get a reply. Factoid of the week is that email addresses have exceeded phone numbers as a way of contacting people. So, there you are.

Some years ago on National Public Radio I heard an interview with a college professor from Wales who had studied comedy and discovered, or determined, the funniest joke ever told. That has to be qualified somewhat, and it’s actually the funniest joke ever told in the UK among literate people in the 20th century. “Ever told”, therefore, is a bit of a stretch. And, in my humble opinion, the joke was funny but not that funny.

To get to the point, somewhat, I had the professor’s name and college and armed with that information it was an easy couple of clicks to discover his email address which he had conveniently listed on his department’s website. Minutes later I had sent him a note expressing my opinion and sending him what I thought was the funniest joke I had ever heard; as if it mattered.

Later that day I received a reply thanking me for my interest and in the course of a few days we exchanged several more notes and jokes. And, that was that.

Well, not quite.

Over the years I’ve sent email notes to all sorts of people I would normally never cross paths with in my day-to-day life. For example, after reading the book “Contact” by Carl Sagan I corresponded with Jill Tarter at the SETI Institute about the strategies of contacting extraterrestrial civilizations. I also received a nice note from Emeril Legasse on soufflĂ© techniques. I think ET would enjoy an orange soufflĂ© flamed with Grande Marnier.

Thus it was that this week I heard on NPR an interview with Ted Kooser, the 13th Poet Laureate of the United States.

Heavy stuff.

But, when the interviewer asked about writing something clicked. The question was, can you tell when the words are working, when what you’re trying to write is coming together?

I commented before Ted answered, oh, yes, boy howdy! In my case, the story is either pushed or pulled. When it’s pushed it’s hard work. Every word is a strain and the result is OK but not anything to write home about. Email or otherwise.

Then, there are those magical moments when the characters come alive and pull the story out of me and it’s such a rush. The story is alive and it’s all I can do to keep up.

Back to the interview, Ted commented that, yes, sometimes the words came easily, like a flock of geese coming in.

Flock. Of. Geese. Coming. In.

Yes, that was it. Perfect. The words come down in formation, still in the air with a destination in mind. I’ve heard the whooshing sound that geese make on the descent and that’s the sound the words make as they work together to tell a story.

The pen pal in me awoke. I Googled Ted’s website and he graciously published his email address. In a rush I sent him a note about the NPR interview and writing and geese and words and his description and how much I appreciated what he had said.


The next day I received a reply. This is the cool part. I received a reply from the Poet Laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser.

To me.

He sent me a poem. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. It’s a personal poem from him to me. It’s about writing and words and geese and the rush when ideas crystallize and it was his words, the Poet Laureate’s, to me.

In what may be a poem considered by the Nobel committee for a prize in literature I am nevertheless compelled to share it with the blogging community and the world.

Here is Ted Kooser’s poem to yours truly, me:

Thanks, Bill.

Ted and me. We’re tight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Starbucks Traffic Controller

Radio frequency ID’s are little tags that can be placed on just about anything and read by a scanner, not unlike the EZ Tag I have in my car that automatically sucks money out of my bank account every time I use the toll road.

Man, I got to get me one of those!

When rfid’s are available for humans I’m going to be the first in line.

Why you ask?

Well, the first company that’s going to make use of those tags will be Starbucks and I want to be ready.

To appreciate this fully consider the now and then airport situation.

In the “now” you trudge your way through Security, the Starbuck’s kiosk in sight. Finally, after getting your shoes on, repacking your stuff and getting organized you approach the kiosk and stand in queue behind the Lady With The Giant Handbag. Three days later after she’s finally found the penny she “knew was down there somewhere” you order your Coffee-of-the-Day, black, pay with exact change and make your way to your gate.

In the rfid future the airport will be covered with sensors that can track your every movement. You will be a blip on a screen and tracked by professionals. Through your cell phone you will be able to place your Starbucks order and transmit your Personal RFID to the Starbucks Traffic Controller who will guide your approach to the kiosk.

Wearing a Bluetooth earpiece you will experience something like this:

STC: STC, Bill-1351 you are clear to proceed to Concourse C.

Bill-1351: Bill-1351, STC roger that.

You make your way towards Concourse C. Your RFID is transmitting your position to Starbucks Control with every step.

STC: STC, Bill-1351 advise congestion at Junction Alpha-Niner, high school volleyball team. Suggest you descend to Ticketing Level Two and proceed to Junction Baker-Deuce.

Bill-1351: Bill-1351, STC roger that. Descending to Ticketing Level Two.

Neatly avoiding the crowd blocking your way to Concourse C, you confirm with control that you are on time and on schedule.

Bill-1351: Bill-1351, STC descent complete, approaching Junction Baker-Deuce and on track for arrival at SB-kiosk Kappa Sigma in zero three minutes.

STC: STC, Bill-1351 roger that. STC, SB-kiosk Kappa Sigma do you copy?

SB-kiosk Kappa Sigma: SB-kiosk Kappa Sigma, STC copy that. Coffee-of-the-Day, black positioned at bay door. Activated. Awaiting acquisition. We are green to go, repeat, we are green to go.

STC: STC, Bill-1351 SB-kiosk Kappa Sigma is go. Repeat, SBK-KS is go.

Bill-1351: Bill-1351, STC roger that. I have them in sight. Deploying arm, hand open. We are go for pick-up. Approaching target. Approaching target. We have positive acquisition. Repeat. We have positive acquisition.

And with that you snatch your coffee from the deployment station and move on down Concourse C without missing a step. Through your rfid the cost of the coffee is deducted automatically from your account and you’re good to go.

STC: STC, Bill-1351 nice job, bud, have a good flight. STC out.

Yep, I’ve got to get me one of those!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wet Cat

Sandy appeared for breakfast right on time. If there’s something that Sandy does with great precision, aside from sleep, it’s to arrive at mealtime.

Sandy Boy was looking a little damp. He strolled into the kitchen, avoided eye contact with me, and proceeded to shake his wetness all over my briefcase.

“Sandy Boy, you’re all wet!”, a voice said, “Is it raining?”

Skies were clear. I looked out back at the pool. Hmm, I thought, I can probably get those claw marks in the plaster filled. Yeah, good as new.

“Good boy, Sandy!”, I offered cheerfully.

Sandy gave me a hard glance, swiped at my briefcase with his claws and marched to his bowl.

Nice cat.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Frisky had been acting up.

I know that Frisky is around because on a Saturday morning when I’m catching those special Z’s he beats on the window with a quick tattoo, just a rapid rat-tat-tat to let me know he’s on the job, after which he submerges to get on with whatever he does.

Frisky is our automatic pool cleaner. He lives at the bottom of our human pond attached by a line to some nozzle or whatever that powers his innards which enables him to suck up all the gunk that blows into the pool and sinks to the bottom. He’s got a gazinta and a gazouta. The gazinta is the hose attached to the magic nozzle on the pool wall that pumps high-pressure water into Frisky’s gullet and the gazouta is, well, where the water comes out. It also serves as his sweeper tail which, occasionally, comes out of the water and sprays the bedroom window with a rat-tat-tat.

We call him “Frisky” because of his habit of climbing up the wall of the pool and whipping his tail into the air, spraying a jet of water in all directions. He’s powered by water from that nozzle-thing that gives him his friskiness.

Frisky, he’s the man.

Frisky, you’re the man.

“Frisky, who’s that you used to play fer?”

“Frisky Thomas. I was the drone, I was the cone, I was the Frisk-master. Whatever they play in Texas, I could play it.”

“Frisky Thomas! He’s the man! Frisky, you’re the man!”

Of course, all you Kill Bill 2 devotees know that Frisky Thomas got aerated soon after that dialog. Shot full of holes. Sunk to the bottom.

Thus it was that Pool Dude looked down on the immobile Frisky at the bottom of the pool and mused, “Hmmm.”

“What, 'hmmm'?”, I asked.

“The blue dude is, like, he’s not movin’, man.”

“Yeah, I kinda, like, noticed that, like,” I offered hopefully, trying to slip into the parlance.

“Bummer, dude.”

“Like bummer for the blue dude, dude, or bummer for the paying-guy-dude, dude?” I asked, hoping to break through the fog.

Pool Dude took a long time to answer. Clouds moved across the sky. Birds were born, died, and were born again. I heard Enya in the distance.

Finally, Pool Dude answered: “Well, all things considered, I’d say…both. Only you’re not at the bottom of the pool not moving, dude, so that’s probably a plus in your ledger.”

Great, I thought, a CPA for a pool guy. But, hey, I got a plus. I’ll go with that.

“So, Pool Dude, old buddy, what are we going to do about this sad situation with Frisky lying on the bottom of the pool and all, unmoving?”

“Uh, like we can haul on his hose, pull him out of the pool, take him to the shop and have Tech Dude work on him?”

“Is that a question or a plan of action?”


We hauled Frisky out of the pool, disconnected his hoses, carried him around the side of the house and dumped him into the Pool Dude’s Toyota pick-up.

“I thought you’d at least have a Ford 150, you sorry sack of algae slime,” I muttered.

“Wazzat?”, asked Pool Dude as Frisky clanked into the bed of the truck.

“I said he’s on-board,” pausing, “just in time.”

Pool Dude got in the “truck”, started the pitiful motor and chugged off into the dusk.

I went back inside, refilled my wine glass and headed out back.

It was quiet out back without Frisky thrashing around in the pool. I looked into the water and already stuff was starting to blow in, sink to the bottom and our pool was rapidly turning into a pond. Until now I hadn’t appreciated how much work Frisky did. Attached to his water jet hose he navigated around the bottom of the pool sweeping up bits and pieces, whisking the rest to the drain and offering us entertainment as he surfaced, spraying us with water from his tail jet. The water coursed through his body from head to tail, with the outflow whipping his tail around the bottom of the pool lifting the pieces to be sucked up later. A very efficient system, I mused.

Without Frisky I was going to have to do some work to keep the pool clean. I took a pull on my wine and grimaced at the thought.

Already, the pool was starting to fill up with gunk.

Too bad I don’t have a “Frisky 2”, I could clean up this mess. On the pool deck were Frisky’s connecting hose and tail. All I need is the middle bit. Too bad I ain't got no middle bit.

Yep, too bad. No Middle Bit.

At that same moment in time, Sandy Boy the Cat came sauntering around the corner and rubbed around my ankles. “What do you want,” I thought?

I looked at the hoses and back at Sandy. He was about the same size as Frisky. I considered the plumbing. Hmmmm, I wondered. I wonder…

Later that evening someone asked, “My the pool looks nice! Did the pool people ever show up? Oh, good. We’ll have to give them a tip! The pool looks very clean. All the gunk’s gone. By the way, have you seen Sandy?”

I got up to refill my wine glass.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Carlos, RIP

Claire called the other night.

“We got Carlos.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. It’s Carlos and he’s dead.”

“Did you kill him?” I whispered.

“Finally. He put up quite a struggle and we had to chase him, but we got him. He’s dead.”

“Well, play the music real loud. Carlos deserves at least that much.”

“OK, Dad-0, will do. Ciao!” *click*

Carlos, RIP, was the condo cockroach. About two inches long, shiny, dark brown, six legs. He had been scurrying around the place for months causing havoc, screams, cockroach dancing (not unlike the hot chili dance or the spider dance) and general mayhem.

Carlos’ demise required music in celebration.

I suggested the album “Mexican Spaghetti Western” by Chingon.

First, they have a track, Malaguena Salerosa, from Kill Bill 2, the best movie of all time.

Second, and I hope Carlos, RIP, is paying attention to this from Cockroach Heaven, they play Cuka Rocka (extended) and I didn’t even know you could play a guitar that fast. When I hear that song I’m ready to dance like nobody’s looking. The Cucaracha Dance. I'm John Travolta. I'm Napoleon Dynamite.

Chingon is Killer Music.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Birthday Blogger


Happy Birthday to you!
You live in a Zoo!
You look like a monkey!
You smell like one, too!

And many more on Channel Four!
And Scoobie Doo on Channel Two!
And Live Update on Channel Thirteen by Maaaaaaarvin Zindler, Eyewitness News!

Yes, Marvin busted the Chicken Ranch Story in the 60’s here in Texas. That story was immortalized or immoralized in the play, later the movie, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Yes, it was real and, yes, Marvin broke the story.

Now Marvin reports for Channel 13 on Slime in the Ice Machine, or restaurants that don’t meet city health codes. Like ALL OF THEM!

“Fish tacos? Yes, m’am, that’s a fine choice. Fish tacos for your, sir? Very nice choice. Cockroach Souffle? Our specialty! Would you like our Salmonella Sauce? Yes? Very good, you’ll be raving about it for weeks.”

So, me and Marvin were wondering what you wanted to do for your birthday? Go to the State Fair in Tulsa, Oklahoma?

Yeah, maybe you didn’t hear the question. We were asking if you wanted to do something FUN. No kids, lots of alcohol, some farm animals and a gallon of vegetable oil.

No, huh. You’re going to the Fair. Foot long corn dogs, cotton candy, bar-b-qued turkey legs.

OK, how about this: No kids. Lots of alcohol. Foot long corn dogs with double D-cells, cotton candy thongs and a bunch of guys with Turkey Legs.

What? You are such a difficult person to please! ( and the juvenile response would be “that’s what SHE said” which I won’t repeat )

So, here’s to you on your birthday. You are not a year older, you are a year wiser. I am a better person for having known you than not. You will succeed in anything you do because if anyone or anything gets in your way you will shout at them. And, most importantly, Twelve Two Two Fondue would be Zero Zero Nowhere without your inspiration and support.

So, with a glass of wine raised at this very moment, here’s to you, my friend and colleague, on the anniversary of your birth. Live long and prosper. Inspire those around you as you have inspired me. Be faithful to yourself and confident in your abilities. Drive safely in spite of that reputation you have (which is legend or legenedary, I don’t know which). Continue to take care of your family and friends because we can’t do it ourselves. And, at last, be you. We know Amy and our lives are enriched by you and what you do. You are an inspiration and in the Grand Scheme of the Universe, that’s pretty good.

All the best to you, Amy, and I speak for the entire Planet when I say Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Casa Bonita

I had a nightmare last night.

I dreamt that the local Casa Bonita was closing and we had to have

One. Last. Meal.

Casa Bonita is like a Taco Bell that serves beer and if any restaurant deserved to go out of business it’s this one. First of all, the food is, well, let’s not go there. Second, they encourage families to bring kids and, well, let’s not go there, either. Finally they serve cheap, flat, tasteless beer and, you know, we shouldn’t go there, no sir.

Rather than go to Casa Bonita short of an apocalypse, I’ll buy some good Mex-Tex-to-go at a hole-in-the-wall place where the cook is getting yelled at by his wife and his kids are whacking cockroaches with a hammer, buy a six-pack of Bohemia and I’m rocking.

Pull my finger in the morning.

Anyway, back to the entertainment, my nightmare. I was standing there with a bunch of kids. It was a birthday party and I was in charge. I remember thinking that I could sprout wings and simply fly away but every time I looked behind me another kid appeared.

Across the street was my favorite Mex-Tex restaurant, Pico’s. The Pico Toucan was winking at me and holding a giant 128-oz frozen margarita. Scantily clad Picochita’s were scurrying around taking orders from excited customers and squealing their way into the kitchen where you could hear in the background…

“Junior, you worthless slob, I need Enchilada Dinner Numero Uno right now! Right now, do you hear me! Don’t make me come back there and kick your ass…”

Ah, the restaurant biz. Nothing like it.

Meanwhile, in my dream, Casa Bonita became more surreal.

“Penguin, party of four! Penguin, party of four!”

A troupe of 400 penguins strolled past me. I pondered on setting a table for 400. Do they need highchairs? I could see the server taking orders: Fish tacos? Very nice choice, and you m’am? Fish tacos? My favorite and you sir? Fish tacos, they’re very good today. And you, m’am? Fish tacos, we’re featuring salmon, is that OK? Great! And you sir? Fish tacos, it’s our specialty. Sir? Undecided? May I suggest Fish Tacos, they’re very good today. Fish tacos? You won’t be disappointed. M’am? Fish tacos, very nice choice…

I looked down and the kids were now wearing little tuxedos. They looked like penguins but with kid faces.

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

The kidguins were jumping up and down and chanting in unison: Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Exasperated, I threw my arms wide and shouted, “I haven’t had four 128-ounce margaritas! Hell, no, we ain’t there yet!”

At my shouting the kidquins got all quiet when all of a sudden the ground started to tremble. Something big was happening, but what?

Without warning a Southwest Airlines 737 painted like Namu broke through the ice, it’s nose cone opened to reveal gigantic teeth (Note to Self: be more polite to SWA ticket agents in the future.) and chomped down on the kidquins snapping them all up in one ferocious bite! The Namu Whale Plane nosed over into the hole in the ice, the legs of little kidquins kicking into the thin air.

As suddenly as the Whale Plane had appeared, it was gone.

Quiet descended. I was alone. My heart was pounding. Oh, the humanity! All those kidquins! Their parents, their friends! What will I do?

I heard a whistle and looked up. The Pico’s Parrot was beckoning me to come over. He had a 128-ounce margarita in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other. A Picobabe was giving him a neck message. He jerked his head but didn’t speak. Whatever, I heard “Come on over, big guy.”

I looked back at the wreckage of Casa Bonita, heard the sirens in the distance and knew that I didn’t want to be answering any questions.

Reaching into my pocket I pulled out a 20. The Parrot winked. As I strolled across the street, nonchalant-like, I thought


Monday, October 03, 2005

Employee of the Month

It may come as a surprise that I have not memorized completely the entire dialogue from Kill Bill 2. Alas, it’s true, but I’m working on it.

Which brings me to the scene in which Bill is advising Beatrix before she begins her cruel tutelage under Pei Mai, the Kung Fu Master.

“Whatever Pei Mai says, whatever! Do it immediately. Do not hesitate,” Bill admonishes, “Cast him a defiant eye and he’ll pluck it out! Disobey him and he will snap your back like a twig. And, that will be the end of you.”

Having recently traveled and experienced the joys of airport security it is my belief that if Pei Mai worked for the TSA he would be Employee of the Month.

Now, don’t get me wrong (speaking into the hidden microphone in the Blogorium) I have nothing against airport security, in fact, I’m positively overjoyed that we have secure airports. But, there comes a point where security becomes Extreme Security and I have thoughts that driving from Houston to Seattle might be better.

Such was the case this weekend.

As a rule I travel as light as possible. I’ll take my trusty laptop in its own special case and all my other gear fits into a thimble. This weekend it didn’t matter. I could have been lugging a sea chest. The long line on an off-peak travel day should have been the tip-off. By the time I got up to the scanner I realized I was going to need a bunch of those grey, plastic tubs.

Laptop in tub. Thimble in tub. Shoes in tub. Coat in tub. Cell phone in tub. I had my own Amtrak of grey tubs chugging their way into the scanner. I was a railroad tycoon.

OK, that part wasn’t so bad but walking through the detector, that’s something I dread. It’s no different than when I leave CompUSA with a bag full of things I don’t need that I fear the store detector will go off. Then it’s stop, open the bag, go over the receipt, loads of apologies, sorry, sir, this always happens. Damn computers, you know. Come again! I just don’t need that.

It’s my theory that you have to walk through the detector just right, not too fast, not too slow. Maybe with a spring in your step or a little hop.

I turned to walk through the metal detector and they guy in front of me was doing the Hokey Pokey. The TSA agent gave him the hairy eyeball, but scored him a 8.5, anyway. He probably lost half a point or so for poor artistic expression. Ah, today is Hokey Pokey day. I can do the Hokey Pokey.

As I approached the detector the TSA agent held up a little card. It had one word written on it:


Oh, man, not Riverdance! Please, not Riverdance! But, the agent was firm. She smiled and nodded her head for me to proceed.

I put my boarding pass into my mouth, balled my hands into fists, arms straight down by my side, looked ahead with a steely gaze and started my jig. I did a couple of impressive hops followed by some rapid tappity-tapping as I approached the threshold. Pirouetting twice while passing through the gate I increased my tappity-tapping to a furious pace. My feet were a blur. I ended the routine with several high-knee kicks and one final high leap which I planted directly in front of the agent. Man, I stuck that landing!

Breathing hard I awaited the results.


Yes! I beat Hokey Pokey Man! I picked up the roses being thrown by other agents, blew a few kisses, collected my train of tubs and headed off to the Gate.

Maybe it’s going to be a good trip after all, I thought. The last time I went through security I only scored a 7.25 doing a Brazilian Samba, but that was because my thong slipped.

Wardrobe malfunctions will do that. Yes, they will.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Voice: Hey, we're getting low on soft margarine.

Me: Uh, huh.

Voice: You wouldn't happen to have any squirreled away in your sock drawer, would you?


Saturday, October 01, 2005


Fine Print

The other day while foraging for dinner I rolled down the aisle containing pickles, peppers and preserved stuff when I spied a tall jar of green olives stuffed with pimentos. Large olives looking very nice indeed.

Mmmmm, olives!

In the basket they went.

Fast forward to last night. I’m preparing dinner, feeling a little peckish and rediscover the olives in the fridge.

Mmmmmm, olives! I think I have a couple or three while I cook. I open the jar, fish out four giant olives, pop two in my mouth and chomp down. I was not prepared for what followed.

Fire in the hole! What th’…? I chewed faster hoping to stamp out the fire. My lips were welded shut and I started to sweat on the top of my head. Milk, I need milk!

Holy volcano, what were those things? Calmer, now, I checked out the label and read:

Large Spanish Olives
In vinegar

And in very small print the following:

Extremely Hot Stuffed With Whole Chilies

Not pimentos, whole chilies. No kidding! Man, those things were dangerous. They needed a large warning label; maybe a government warning. Those could hurt somebody. Sometimes it pays to read the small print.

I ate four more and did the Hot Chili Dance around the kitchen.

Cat Swap

I looked for Sandy the Cat all morning. I checked out his favorite haunts and places he goes when he wants to hide. He was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he was outside, but I doubt it because he hangs around the yard and would be easy to spot. No Sandy.

Oh, well.

Nobbs the Cat, though, was ready for breakfast. He came in, trotted over to the cat bowl and sat patiently for me to fix something tasty. I decided to give him some of the new Cat Chow we bought the other day, which Sandy had thoughtfully opened for us, scattering a quarter of the contents around the kitchen floor. We keep our Cat Chow in a large, plastic jar which is large enough to hold an entire sack of Cat Chow. The jar keeps the food fresh, makes it easy to dispense into the bowls and is gnaw-proof, unlike the Cat Chow bags as Sandy has demonstrated to us on several occasions.

I didn’t even have to open the bag this time. I poured the chow into the jar through the hole that Sandy made; it was just the right size.

Rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, and on and on and on…finally done.

“Here you go, Nobbs old boy,” I said as I turned around to fill his bowl, “fresh Cat Chow!”

I looked down and Nobbs was gone. Sandy was sitting there looking expectant. Nobbs apparently got tired of waiting and went to sleep on one of the kitchen chairs. Sandy, who can hear food being prepared 10 miles away had slinked out from his hiding place and sneaked into the kitchen. He sat there looking up at me, waiting.

I filled the cat bowl, looked at Sandy and said “Yes, Master, anything else you desire?”

Sandy, nose in the bowl, twitched his tail.



When it comes to packing for a trip I’m not too efficient. I don’t like packing so I’ll do just about anything to avoid it until the last minute. So, there I was “packing” and looking out the window.

“Stupid squirrels,” I thought, “Look at them running around the yard chasing each other and picking up acorns. They drop as many as they pick up.”

The squirrels were “squirreling away” their cache of nuts for the winter. It was 90 degrees. The squirrels were running around, picking up acorns and burying them all over the place. Not in one big cache, but in lots of little places. Stupid squirrels.

I picked up the camera I was going to take on the trip and remembered that it needed new batteries. I went to the battery drawer, also known as the Junk Drawer, and spent a minute or so in a fruitless search for a couple of AA cells.

None to be found, but not a problem. I recall having stashed a 4-pack in my sock drawer some months ago “just in case.” They were still there and I fished out a couple for my camera.

Rats, I was nearly out of travel toothpaste. I had meant to buy some more, but forgot. Fortunately, I had a spare tube I hid in the spare room medicine cabinet for just such an occasion. I ran upstairs and, yep, there it was undiscovered.

Oh, and before I leave I need to mail a couple of birthday cards but we used the last stamp the other day and I forgot to stop by the Post Office for a refill. Not to worry, I keep a few spare stamps in my briefcase. I walked across the house to the front room, pulled my briefcase out of the cupboard and there in the secret pocket were 4 stamps; I only needed two. Perfect!

Whew, all this running around worked up a bit of a thirst and a cold beer would go down well about now. Casting my mind back to last night I dimly recall a voice saying something like “oh, that’s the last beer. Try to remember to pick up a 6-pack the next time you’re out shopping.” But, I hadn’t been shopping since then. However, I always keep a spare beer in the hydrator behind the lettuce and under the zucchini. Nobody would look there. I walked back across the house, into the kitchen, rummaged through the hydrator and, sure enough, found my emergency beer.

I poured myself a glass of beer, sat at the kitchen table and looked out the window. The squirrels were still at it picking up acorns and hiding them all around the yard.

I chuckled as I watched them. Stupid squirrels.