Archive for May, 2009

Thanks Universe (bock, bock)

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27, 2009 by tom

I was having a pretty good day when I wrote my Things on Tuesday.  Work wife had brought pretzels, and I was able to find Stacey's pulse (I didn't inspect her belly-button or toes, though: I trusted her).  The day just got long.  And difficult.  We have days like that, and I'm okay with it.  I just had one difficult situation arise after another.  I was equal to them–it's not like I got yelled at or anything–but I was drained by the time I left. 

I hadn't eaten all day, so I figured I'd pick-up a sandwich that should truly be illegal.  I mean, what could be more damaging than a big fried fish sandwich? WAIT FOR IT! TWO giant fried fish (sic) patties.  With cheese.  And some sort of tartar sauce created by Ortho.  Despite the dubious provenance of the "fish" (I think of the three-eyed Simpsons fish), and the doubtless worse-for-you-than-HFCS sauce, there's something soul-assuaging about the Deep Sea Double sandwich.  So I got one.  Driving home, I flipped on the radio, and the "Classic Hits" station was playing Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," which I've always loved.  Then I saw a truck from Martz Associates. 

I just grinned, and I knew I'd be okay.

I've written about it before, but I'm a geek for the movie "Hamlet 2."  Reviews were mixed–some found it hilarious and sweet, others not so much–but this movie never fails to crack me up.  I like the characters, the story, and I love the staging of the eponymous play, "Hamlet 2," a musical so dreadful, that it makes "Springtime for Hitler" look like "West Side Story." Anyway, I love the movie.

Steve Coogan's protagonist is named Dana Marschz, which is pronounced roughly "Martz." The play's music is provided by the Greater Tucson Gay Men's Chorus.  The song they sing in the play?

Yup.  "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."

I felt better at once.

I'd had a weird dream last night, too, so my brain might have been a little stunned.  There was a coral snake in my bed (in my dream), plus another coral snake and a scarlet king snake in the kitchen.  Very odd.  I didn't get bitten, thank Hypnos.  Coral snakes are the antithesis of the infinite python, Humanity, I wrote about last night.  They're small, thin snakes, brightly colored and pretty hard to stumble upon by accident.  They're also extremely poisonous, if you do manage to get yourself bitten.  They are found in Florida.  However, they are typically not found in even the messiest bachelor apartment.


In case you're wondering how to rid your apartment of unwanted coral snake infestation, the solution is simple: just open the front door, and get out of the way.  They'll go stampeding, or whatever the slithering equivalent of stampeding is, out the door.  Hooray! Problem solved.  Where are the nice X-Files dreams when I need them?

As I enjoyed my double deathfish sandwich, I perused the business section of The, which had a hilarious article about the FCC ruling that KFC could no longer mention its products as food.  Hah.  Plus, it contained this chart, which made me snort a little "tartar sauce" 😉 up into my nose:

The bit about Stouffer's being banned from showing people "satisfied with his or her life choices after ingesting a Stouffer's frozen dinner" got me. 

Anyway, I survived.  I made it home, finally.  I nom-cubed my double deathfish sandwich, laughed at the Onion story, selected one of my favorite relaxing cd's, and drifted off to my quiet place.

My Freshman year at Furman, I drove up Caesar's Head mountain a couple dozen times.  Yeah, I should've been studying, but to a kid who grew up in flat, hot Florida, the whole "mountain" thing, combined with the fiery autumn foliage, just blew my mind.  There was a restricted area I'd hike to, and a small outcropping beneath a larger cliff.  I'd sit there and watch the sun set behind the mountains to the west, and then one by one, I could see the little towns light up toward the south.  I felt at peace there. 

In many ways, the journey from back then to right now was as harrowing and dangerous–as beautiful and exciting–as the drive up and down Caesar's Head Mountain.  When I get stressed, it's all too easy to miss the magic in the world.  My head was about to explode this afternoon.  Whether it was pure coincidence or the Universe tipping me a reassuring wink, or even the result of some inevitable mathematical equation, I saw that truck while hearing that song.  And that made a world of difference.

Now, POUF, my Tuesday stress has evaporated.  In 15 hours, it will be my weekend.  I'm off to sleep now, and hopefully, there won't be any coral snakes in my bed.  I have ten fingers, ten toes, one navel, a steady pulse, and a happily unexploded head. 

Thanks Universe, bock-bock.  

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Things on Tuesday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 26, 2009 by tom


  • A friend’s father had a heart attack yesterday and is hospitalized.  (Thoughts, prayers, healing energy, etc, for Steve)
  • With all the rain we’ve had the past week, our mosquito and fly populations have exploded, and not in the good way.  People are getting eaten half to death.
  • Still two days till payday.



  • I’m largely impervious to mosquito bites, since I’ve been bitten into immunity.  (Who knew that all those days of being devoured during college would pay dividends here in my pre-dotage?)
  • I actually still have money to last me two days, and all my most-pressing bills are current.
  • Thunderstorms at night, while I’m safely in bed, with a warm cat under each arm. (note: I have two arms and two cats—my sentence construction makes it sound like I might have 10 arms and 10 cats (this is not true, and hopefully never will be))
  • I have more things to do in my life than complain; too many people don’t.
  • I smell vaguely of pomegranate, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.  Why this pleases me, I don’t know.
  • A cup of good, hot coffee: coming soon to my desk.
  • Stacey reports 10 fingers, 10 toes, and one belly button.  However, she had a little difficulty locating her radial pulse.  Happily, I was able to find it, and I’m pleased to confirm that it was steady indeed.
  • As for me, 10-10-1-steady. 
  • Have a great Tuesday.

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Time, the Infinite Equation

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2009 by tom

I was watching "Firefly" this afternoon, and one episode features a defective engine part.  Without that one part, there was no way the engine could work correctly.  I think my brain is missing the Linear Thought Regulator, which would give me logical idea progressions.  I swear the thing is gone, maybe dissolved or burned-out, and sadly I don't have Kaylee the mechanic to rig me a new one.

So we had a lovely sunset over Lake Tom this evening, highlighted by a glowing contrail moving left to right.  This led me to think about algebra, specifically how geeked I used to get at graphing things.  I always felt like I was there at some great intersection in the middle of vast nothingness.  There, at the point (4,3) (or whatever), two lines intersected.  They had different slopes and y-intercepts, but there–at that one tiny point in all of nothingness–they intersected.  Their equations were different, their pasts were completely different, as were their futures.  But for that one spot, they were united.

We silly humans are like that.  Our trajectories differ, but for whatever reason, we intersect.  Change anything in our equations, and our intersections move.  We miss the train our soulmate was on; we walk by the flower two seconds too late, and suffer a fatal bee sting; or maybe our parents end up dancing with somebody else prom night, and we are never born.  "This World" is a little box in the vast nothingness, with time on one axis and space on the other.  Let the wrong variable into our equations, and we miss the box, miss out on this life.

Memorial Day is when we remember those who sacrificed to keep our equations as they should be.  My grandfather served as a corpsman after D-Day.  He survived, thank God.  This is the day when we remember those who didn't survive, those who took the bullet my grandfather might otherwise have gotten.  If he doesn't come back, maybe my grandmother remarries and moves away, and thus my mom never meets my dad.

Human existence is an infinite python, stretched through "This World."  The serpent was there before it encountered each of us, and it will be around long after we're used up and excreted.  But we change it; each of us change "This World" with our presence.  A rat's body might only be in a python a few days, but its flesh helps build muscle, bones, nerves.  Each of us changes the world somehow, influencing somebody–maybe one person, perhaps a multitude.

The Hitlers of the world certainly leave their mark writ large.  Less flashy, less singularly recognized, but equally indelible, are each of those who fight the wars and lose their lives.  It is them we honor on Memorial Day.  Without their sacrifices, I might not be here, half-asleep after a long day, somehow thought-surfing from a beautiful sunset, through my lack of linear thought, to algebra, to putting us all in the belly of the infinite python called humankind.  I hope you had a spectacular and safe Memorial Day.  Thanks for surfing along with me tonight.

It really was a helluva sunset.


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Sunday Thought Brunch

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2009 by tom

(Today's brunch menu from the fabulous Luna, in the St Petersburg Hilton Carillon Center (bonus points for the motto, "Without cocktails, brunch is just breakfast"))

The Fresh-Squeezed Florida Orange Juice:

I'm amazed at how nature's work goes on, regardless of the weather.  We've had lots of rain the past week, sometimes at inconvenient times for birds.  Nonetheless, once the rain stops, the skimmers skim, the bat squadrons  take to the skies, the giant blue heron makes its nightly round, and Lake Tom's bug population decreases.  (Props to the mammals, too: the raccoons go about their life's work of liberating garbage from its Glad bag incarceration)


The Rich, Freshly Ground Sumatra Mandheli coffee

By the way, this rainmaker storm was just like a tropical storm, only with less wind.  Hurricane season doesn't start for another week.  I hope this isn't a harbinger of the year they ran out of letters.  Eek.  Actually, 2004 was the most horrible season for us.  We got hit with four named storms.  Granted, we got the ass-end of them, but we still had tons of rain and wind, but worst of all was the "hurricane fatigue." Seriously, mandatory evacuation loses its charm after the first one, as do the ensuing power-outages, flooded roads, and being the only jock available to sit there in the shaking building, simulcasting Bay News 9 weather, reading live insurance and power company ads, and watching the pine trees bend precipitously.

The Chicken Andouille Gumbo:

Stacey went fishing last night, which I find ironic since she doesn't eat seafood.  She caught a catfish, a ladyfish, and a dogfish.  I told her if she'd only catch a couple of kidfish and a minivanfish, she'd have caught the complete family.  Also, I told her I don't go fishing for recreation; I go out and lasso and release cows.   I don't think she found that as amusing as I did.

The Bananas Foster Waffles (with cinnamon whipped cream, and a side of bacon):

My favorite line from a Vox neighbor this week comes from Kelly Bee, who recently showed her true devotion to comedy by spraining her OTHER ankle just a few weeks after the first.  Her line:

Now I've got two cankles. Thanks, life.    (Thanks for not suing me, Kelly.  Try and be more careful there, cowgirl. 😉

Finally, The Razzmopolitan (Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka, Cointreau, Cranberry Juice, and Chambord in the bottom of the glass (just to aid digestion, of course)):

Work-wife recently adopted a baby  nanday conure, which was nested in a tree that fell into her back yard.  The baby, which looks like a plucked Christmas goose, squawked her awake at 0300, demanding feeding.  I told her it was a good thing she didn't have a nest of howler monkeys living in that downed tree.

The Waffer Thin Mint (sic):

In related bird news, our outside break area is shaded by some tall pine trees.  In several of these pine trees, we have nests of yellow crested night herons preparing to raise families.  These aren't as huge as blue herons, but they're mighty big.  I mention this, because some of their treeborne homes overhang an uncovered part of the smoking patio.  Mighty big birds create mighty big splatters.  Eventually, some of the tables (and more than a few patio habitues) were hit with one of these cloaca bombs.  How did our masters handle the situation? An awning? Gently relocating the nests to a more sanitary location? Nope.  Your standard "Caution! WET FLOOR" sign.  On my last break, guess what nailed that sign from on-high?

Enjoy your Sunday!





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Tropical Depressions

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2009 by tom

It's my Sunday, and we've spent the last four or five days under a tropical low pressure system, which has given us huge amounts of rain, some breezes, and a general feeling of gris-gris.  I blame this low not only for the full ditches and cacophonous tree frog choirs, but for some pretty screwed up dreams. 

In one, I was nearly out of gas in the USS Nimitz (my truck), and I stopped by one of those self-serve places.  To operate it, you have to have a fleet ID card for your vehicle to unlock the pumps, then a method of payment card to…well, pay.  The place was packed with all manner of oddballs, real "Mad Max" types, with insane laughter and general menace.  I knew they'd be stealing fuel behind me, but I didn't care.  I got out of the Nimitz, slid in my fleet card, punched in the code, and began fueling.  They kinda stood back from me, knowing I could shut the pumps off easily.  I finished gassing up the truck, then "accidentally" forgot to deactivate the pumps.  They whooped and began fueling their weird-ass cars, and I left.  I figured they'd leave me alone because I'd given them access to gasoline.  They did.  One of them was a zombie, and was eating someone's spine as I pulled away.  Not a problem.

Later–in another dream–somebody was criticizing a mother for having her kid's crafts displayed at her desk.  "We don't need to see evidence of your stupid kid's handicaps." I looked at the guy and corrected him: "HandiCRAFTS, you dumbass.  Not `handicaps.' `Handicrafts.'" The mother was grateful, but as I walked away, I wondered if her kid might not be a little handicapped, too.

There was another choice one, too, but I lost it.

With this weather the way it's been, I think my mind works a bit differently.  One of the big local stories this past week deals with a tragic SUV vs. pedestrian accident on a dark Tampa street.  A 17 year-old girl was driving home from cheerleading practice, when she hit and killed a homeless woman.  Due to circumstances and various serendipitious legal situations, they can't write the girl as much as a ticket for the accident.  The entire situation is horrible, to be sure.  It was unintentional, etc. 

What gets me though is the following: why is it so imperative for the paper to mention that the victim is homeless, and the 17 year-old girl lives in her family's $1.5 million house? From the initial story through each follow-up, they mention those details.  (They love to mention that the homeless woman was knocked completely out of her shoes, even showing a crime-scene photo with the two shoes in the foreground, and the police cars in the background)

The person who died was a 34 year-old woman.  It doesn't matter that she was homeless, nor would it matter if she lived in her own $1.5 million house.  She was a person, whose life ended suddenly.  The girl who hit her is a young woman.  That she's a cheerleader from a priveleged family doesn't matter.  This particular paper loves to push buttons, to make stories bigger than they truly are.  And this story is undeniably horrible: one person accidentally killed another person.  This sucks. 

I've gotten to know several homeless people over the past few years.  They're just people.  Are they crazy? Some of them are.  So are some non-homeless people.  I've known my fair share of 17 year-olds who live in rich houses, too.  They are just people as well. 

The tragic story is this: a woman walked across a dark Tampa road one night, and a motorist didn't see her.  She was run-over and killed.  The victim or the driver could've been anyone, even your narrator.  I guess it's just a sexier newspaper story if the rich girl runs over a homeless person.  Maybe that's the truest tragedy.

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Thanks for the Tomfriday grin, Natalie Dee (love the title)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 20, 2009 by tom



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Things on Tuesday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 19, 2009 by tom


  • I can not wake up today.  When my alarm went off, I was crushed.  I wanted to sleep another five hours.
  • It's cloudy and gloomy again today.
  • I really need two new tires.  Nothing points out the relative treadlessness of a rear tire quite like driving a stickshift on a rain-slicked road.
  • I won't have enough extra cash to pay for these tires till next month.
  • I can not wake up today.  When I'm tired, I keep repeating myself. 
  • Also, when I'm sleepy, I keep hitting the incorrect keys.  For example, I keep hitting the little Windows key instead of shift.  This pops up a menu that offers me lots of choices I don't want.  Grr.
  • Within one minute of getting my coffee, I'd spilled it on my shirt.
  • Work-wife wanted a bag of pretzels, and the food place next door did not have pretzels available, simply because pretzels are not "sufficiently breakfasty." (apparently, there's a state law against selling non-breakfasty food before 10am)


  • The food place did have Diet Mountain Dew.  This insures that I'll not only have caffeine, but also a full day's supply of brominated vegetable oil, tumor-green food dye, and potassium benzoate.
  • Being half-asleep, my morning is passing quite quickly.
  • It's extremely cool for this time of year.  Seriously: like 62.  That doesn't happen here. 
  • Dreary, drizzly days are awesome for sleeping, and I'll be napping in less than seven hours.
  • I got new windshield wiper blades yesterday, so at least I can see where I'm hydroplaning.
  • I have a pork roast in my crock pot, with a special sauce of Russian dressing and apricot preserves. When I get home, my house will smell like Yum.
  • As always, ten fingers, ten toes, one belly button, and a steady pulse.
  • Also, Stacey has ten fingers, ten toes, one belly button, and a steady pulse.  I had her do an inventory earler, because she was having a bad day.
  • Happy Tuesday.


  • There's some sort of conspiracy among those machines wot rule us that the temperature of the food place is inversely proportional to how hard it's raining.  I got fairly drenched walking over there, and it's approximately 7 degrees Kelvin in the food place.  Brr.
  • The food place did hook me up by having ended the non-breakfasty food embargo by 1000, when I had my second break, and thus I was able to provide mini-pretzels for work-wife.
  • Food Place (yes, I just made it a proper noun (I'm a licensed English Major–I am authorized to do this) serves hot Dunkin Donuts coffee, of which I purchased 20 oz in a convenient styrofoam carrying case.
  • Also, Food Place has the most awesome hand dryers in its men's room: an automated appliance with roughly the same airflow as an FA-22 Raptor on afterburner take-off.  You may find a picture of said machine in the OED next to the word "badass."
  • A nearby co-worker has a small statue of Santa.  The statue is facing away from me, and it looks as if jolly old St Nick is taking a leak. 
  • Now five hours till naptime in my Yum-scented house.
  • Still 10-10-1-steady.

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