Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What I'll Miss About America

Strangely, this week's column is attributed to someone named Blake (I'm working on fixing that issue), but here's my latest column, nonetheless.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sporadic

I'm inclined not to write this post; I spent a lot of time putting together my Flickr Fiction piece this week and wouldn't mind having it sit at the top for a while. But, it's 1,500 words, so few people will read it, anyway, and I thought I should let you know why you won't be hearing from me at least until July.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, I am heading up to northern Minnesota for a canoeing/camping trip in the BWCA. My two best friends, Eric and Paul, will be going up with me, as will Paul's friend, Matt, and Paul's dad.

Paul's dad is the lynchpin for fun. Three days in the wilderness with Wayne Kopesky = a whole batch of stories I will still be telling 30 years from now. I am honestly excited, especially since we have abandoned all pretense of roughing it. Wayne is providing a cast iron skillet and WWII-era camping gear, Matt is providing a propane stove and two bottles of whiskey (one single-malt, one bourbon), and I am providing a large cooler loaded with 72 cans of beer.

"I think this is the most un-Boundary Waters experience we can have in Boundary Waters," Eric said.

While we're up there, I encourage you to occasionally check the weather, so you can laugh your ass off when you see forecasts that say things like, "Windy with thunderstorms."

We'll only be up there until Tuesday. I'll have Wednesday to recover and then on Thursday the child bride and I will be traveling down to Chicago. Rachel's youngest sister is being released from her Mormon mission just in time to see us before we leave.

If we are lucky, we'll also be applying for our visas, but Sallie Mae might not come through in providing a key piece of paper. A number of organizations are directly involved with the child bride and I finally getting to Wales; off the top of my head, you've got the university, Sallie Mae, the estate agent in Cardiff, the United States government, the British government, the United States Postal Service, the Royal Mail, my bank, Rachel's bank, the state of Utah, and the American Automobile Association. So far, Sallie Mae has stood out as the most incompetent.

I'll be back in Bloomington Rock City on Monday, 2 July. If I'm lucky, and all things magically fall into place, I will know by then my exact date of departure for the United Kingdom.

  • Good name for a band: The Suck Kings
  • Friday, June 23, 2006

    All of Texas is ours

    She was walking across a rice field when I first saw her. It was late spring and another goddamn rain storm was just on the horizon, pushing in with those hot, humid winds that made it hard to breathe. Waves of rice stalks swirled around her waist in the wind.

    She was a banner. In all white, her long black hair loose and dancing.

    She had picked me out from a distance, recognized me as the leader and was walking straight at me. Her eyes were locked on me; I could tell she was going to chew me out for something. Here I am, fucking 6-foot-5, armed to the teeth and looking like something that crawled out of the mud and she's coming right at me. Goddamn if she isn't still like that.

    I whistled at JP to drop in case it was a trap. Everyone sunk into the grass and suddenly it was just me and her.

    "Nous sommes vos amis" I said.

    "Why you speak French at me?" she asked, her eyes holding mine to hers.

    "I thought you might know it. I don't know Vietnamese," I said. "But English is OK?"

    "It OK. My English better than your French. You and your friends go around."

    "Go around?" I said, laughing.

    "Yes. Go around," she said, still holding my stare with hers. "This field mine. You go around; shoot up other field."

    "Shit, sweetheart, we're not gonna shoot up your field. We're just going from here to there, OK?"

    "Not OK. I tell them, I tell you: go around."

    "Them?" I said, dropping to one knee.

    I pulled her down to the ground. She slapped me -- hard -- and I put my knee in her gut. The rest of the guys reappeared from the grass and we pulled in tight.

    "Them who?" I hissed.

    "Who you think? Them," she said.

    I let her squirm out from underneath me. She punched my leg and sat up. When she went to stand up, I grabbed her dress and she shot me a look. Oh, man, she was mad. Just that look was enough to make me let go. I heard JP giggle and he told me later that I looked like I was going to shit my pants. Big ol' Tex Madog and this little thing making me act like a kitten. She stood over me, locked her eyes on me again, and brushed herself off.

    "You go around."

    "Where'd they go?" I asked.

    "I don't care. Not here. You go same place -- not here."

    "C'mon, goddamn it," I said. "Where are they?"

    "I don't care."

    "I do care. I want to keep my shit intact. You should care, too. We're fucking here to help you," I said. "The least you can do is tell me where the fuck they went."

    "I don't care. You shoot, kill, rest of Vietnam. This my field. You go around."

    "Darlin', please," I said. "Where'd they go?"

    Suddenly her gaze shot over my left shoulder. I watched her eyes move slow to my left, then dart back to me.

    "I don't care," she said.

    "OK. We'll go around."

    ...

    They were right where she had said they would be. We slipped behind and came up on them while they were sleeping. We called in help and cut most of them down. They were like snakes in a nest, there were so many of them. But I didn't lose any of my boys. That kid from South Dakota got stung in the arm, but it wasn't bad enough to stop him from pulling the trigger.

    It was rough, though. It's all bullshit to think about now, but it made me cry so bad at the time. I probably cried for four days. All that shit I had talked back home. But I go off to Vietnam and kill 33 men and I couldn't take it.

    ...

    They gave us a load of medals. You should see me on Veteran's Day. I'm a shiny son of a bitch. Sally drags out my damn uniform and makes me march in the parade in town. Man, people sure love to kiss my ass now. They'd probably refuse to believe how I really was.

    I used all those kills to get myself into a cushy gig watching after refugees. They're pretty self-sufficient people, so mostly all I did was stand around. Some of the old guys would play cards with me, especially once they found out how bad I was.

    I was playing cards when Sally found me, as a matter of fact. I was down $20 when she touched me on the shoulder.

    "Hello, Français," she said.

    I didn't recognize her at first, wearing military-issue refugee garb, but then she hit me with those eyes. She locked me in and everything else melted away. It was like the whole camp had slipped into the grass like JP and the boys.

    "Uh, bonjour. I know a little Vietnamese now," I said. "Chao ong."

    "You just call me old man," she said, and she burst into laughing.

    She still has that laugh, too. Man, that a woman who's seen everything she's seen could still sing like that when she laughs -- it makes you know there's a God. Somewhere there is good, that she can laugh like that.

    "Sorry. How are you? I never got your name," I said.

    "Sally."

    "Sally? What kind of Vietnamese name is that?"

    "It not. But your Vietnamese horrible."

    I smiled. Felt like a teenager. Hell, I wasn't too far off from it back then, I guess.

    "You find them?" she asked.

    "Them? Oh, them. Yeah. A lot of them."

    "You get them?"

    "Yeah. Well, not all of them."

    "No. Not all," she said.

    I found out from my superior that they had killed her family. They suspected someone in the family had tipped us off. She managed to slip out into the rice field and spent two days waiting for them to find her and kill her. They didn't and she got picked up by our guys a few days later. Our guys loaded her field with explosives, so she didn't even have that anymore. She had been bouncing around ever since.

    ...

    I was able to get her a gig at the camp. She helped watch the kids and I made excuses to be around her. When I left Vietnam, I took Sally with me.

    A lot of marriages like that turn out real shitty. I've heard some seriously fucked up stories. You wouldn't believe. But Sally and me, hell. There's something we got.

    We used every penny the Marine Corps and Colling Credit Union would give us to buy a ranch out in the Hill Country. I raised sheep for a while, then got sidetracked raising daughters. Mom says we're blessed not to have had boys like me and my brother, Ronny, but she didn't have to deal with boys like me and Ronny showing up at the door wanting to get in her daughter's pants.

    Now that they're grown up, though, I can see the girls have got some of Sally's spirit in them. It almost makes me feel sorry for their husbands. Katy's husband won't ever call Sally anything but "Mrs. Madog."

    "It's lovely to see you Mrs. Madog." "Is there anything I can do to help out, Mrs. Madog?" "That dinner sure was delicious, Mrs. Madog."

    Little kiss-ass. It's about enough to make me bust a gut, if I didn't know it'd get me in trouble with Sally.

    ...

    Today is our 35th anniversary. I pretended we were out of syrup, and convinced Sally to go down to the store for me. That bought me about an hour -- Sally hates driving so much that she'll usually walk the two and a half miles down to Finley's.

    I've made a big breakfast of pancakes and eggs and sausage and bacon and biscuits and gravy. I've got toast and some of Mom's homemade jam and a pot of chicory coffee sitting on the table, by the time our dog, Sanjo, lets me know someone's coming down the road.

    I step out onto the porch into the spring morning and see her walking toward me among the bluebonnets. Beyond her, hills of green raise into the morning mist. A cool rain looks to be pushing in on the horizon.

    She is a banner. In all white, her long black hair loose and dancing.

    "Qui est cette belle femme?" I shout to her.

    And I mean it. She is beautiful. After all these years. How can she be so beautiful? And here I am, busted-up ol' Tex, not really good for a damn, and she loves the hell out of me. Thirty five years of her loving me and me making a damned fool of myself over her. How did we get this? What did I do right?

    "Your French is so bad," she says, breaking into laughter.

    Her laughter carries out on the wind. When she gets to the porch, I pick her up with my right arm and kiss her and all of the blue and the green and the red and the white is ours. All of Texas is ours. Just ours.


    ---------------------------------------------

    The above is a piece of Flickr Fiction based on this photo from Flickr user Ozyman.

    Also writing short pieces based on this photo are Donal, Elisa, Isobel, and Sarah.

    You can find out more about Flickr Fiction here.

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Get off my back, yo

    Dude. Yes, I know I'm not blogging. But I am actually really busy. Delightfully, this busy involves my eating ice cream and drinking beer, but I am actually, legitimately really busy. And, even better, I can't tell you what I'm busy doing. I'll tell you later, though, I promise.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Conversation based on a found photo

    "I don't make mistakes."
    "Yes, sir. I realise that."
    "But you think I made a mistake."
    "No, sir."
    "You do. I know you think that."
    "Yes, sir. I know you know. It's not so much a mistake, it's just that..."
    "I've misplaced something."
    "Yes, sir."
    "And you want me to put it back."
    "Sir, I don't think I'm in any position to tell you what to do, sir."
    "But you want me to put it back."
    "You know it doesn't matter to me, sir. It's just that... for them. They're going to notice."
    "They are."
    "Yes, sir. It was in Wyoming yesterday and today it's in Arizona."
    "Not much difference."
    "In relative terms, sir, you're right -- there isn't one. But they'll notice. It will be very obvious to them."
    "And?"
    "Well, it walks the line of violating our contract with them."
    "Perhaps."
    "It will just make them uncomfortable, sir. If they wake up and something like that has moved from Wyoming to Arizona -- it will make them uncomfortable. It's not a flat-out violation of free agency, I suppose, but, you know..."
    "Yes. I know."
    "So you'll move it?"
    "Yes. Devil's Tower Monument from Arizona, back to Wyoming. Done. I don't like that name -- Devil's Tower."
    "I guess not. Thank you, God."
    "You're welcome."

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Burying the lede

    MINNEAPOLIS -- More than 250 people were evacuated from Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport early Thursday after security officials identified a "suspicious substance" in the C concourse of Lindbergh Terminal.

    The substance was discovered around 9:15 a.m. in the waiting area of Gate 27 C. Passengers were immediately evacuated after a member of airport personnel reported symptoms of dizziness.

    "The airport worker was transported to the hospital, where he was treated and released," said Airport Police Sgt. Ike Conyers. "Fortunately, this turned out to be a non-event, but we are very proud of our response to the situation."

    Passengers in the C concourse were evacuated to a decontamination area on the far western side of Runway 1. In special plastic showers, each passenger was required to disrobe and was then doused with water.

    After decontamination, passengers in airport-issue jumpsuits were allowed access to their baggage so they could put on new clothes.

    Flights scheduled to use Runway 1 were diverted either to the airport's two other runways or Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D., located 255 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.

    Hazmat crews were issued to the C concourse to clean the substance. Samples taken from the scene were analyzed and later determined to be Welch's grape juice.

    "Just some kid who spilled grape juice. That happens," Conyers said. "I don't want to say anything disparaging about the airport employee. The mind is a very powerful thing, so sometimes you can have very real symptoms when the threat is negative.

    "As I say, I am very pleased with how our department responded to this situation. And I am happy that there were no injuries or deaths. From what I understand, this was actually fortuitous for the airport worker -- he was able to attend a Twins game that he would have missed had he stayed the length of his shift."

    Passengers were allowed back into the C concourse after being re-screened through security. As of 7 p.m. Thursday, more than half of Minneapolis-Saint Paul International's flights were still delayed.

    Passenger David Glumack of Coon Rapids, Minn., faced a delay of at least 18 hours in getting to Milwaukee, but met it with resolve.

    "It's a hassle, but it's worth it to be safe, you know?" Glumack said. "Anything to keep me safe. That shower was cold and kind of embarrassing, but these are different times. I'll do anything they ask me to do to keep the terrorists from winning."

    ---

    The above is a piece of Flickr Fiction based on this photo from Flickr user CinDLin.

    Also writing short pieces based on this photo are Donal, Elisa, and Isobel, Littlegoat and Sarah.

    You can find out more about Flickr Fiction here.

    Metallimas

    It's Christmas in June thanks to Audio Post Thursday.




    MP3 File

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    What I dream about

    I just woke up from a dream in which I performed in a sort of one-man show. At one point in the show, it goes to a pirate restaurant and a straight man asks me (a pirate) a few questions:

    SM: "I want to fit in, so I have a few questions about etiquette."

    ME: "Etta who?"

    SM: "No, etiquette. You know, social rules. Like, which fork should I use when eating prawns?"

    ME: "What the hell is wrong with you?"

    SM: "OK, I won't worry about forks. Are there any rules that I need observe when consuming alcohol?"

    ME: "The first rule o' consumin' alcohol be: Drink as much as ye can! The second rule be: Drink more!"

    SM: "Right. So this isn't the sort of environment where I need to worry about keeping my pinky finger extended when drinking."

    ME: "Well, I be sayin' ye should. It's the gentlemanly thing to do -- if a woman be needin' that finger for the sake o' pleasure."

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    I can take pictures and put text on them; this is what makes man the dominant species

  • I have noticed that my hair is growing faster since I left my job. When I was in the UK in October, I delighted in the fact that Chris and Geraint -- who are both younger than me -- were losing their hair faster than me. Ever since then, I have been convinced that karma would repay me by making me go bald within a year. And I have watched with concern one little patch on the top of my head that was slightly thinner. But now, as I say, my hair appears to be coming back. Yes!
    Unemployment is the new Propecia. It's better, actually, because it doesn't cause impotence -- perhaps to the child bride's chagrin. Even with the pressures and frustrations and distractions of full-time employment I am a sex pest. Now that I have more energy, I am even worse.
    HER: "Cool down. Don't you have anything to do?"
    ME: "Nope. Take off your pants."

  • I don't have much to blog today because I spent several, several hours pushing my 90s-era HTML skillz to the max in redesigning my Welsh-language blog. I am immensely proud of the fact that I made my own header. Yes, a 14-year-old girl could slap something like that together in about 5 minutes, but I'm not a 14-year-old girl, am I?
    I am a 30-year-old man and it took me about an hour.
    It doesn't make sense in a Welshy context to have incorporated an Irish beer into my header, but I don't care. Guinness is the always hotness*. If I want to spend all day putting Guinness on my blog, that's my right, bitches.
    The new template has an odd foible in the sense that a post will magically disappear from the line up. It can be brought back by refreshing the page. I assume this has something to do with my fucking with the CSS. If anyone has a clue as to what I've done and how to fix it, I'd appreciate some help.
    I am still looking for a better template for this here blog that you're reading. It's had the same look for 16 years. So far, I've got nothing, although I thought it would be funny to put this one up. Amateur, tacky and hard to read -- what could be better?

    *See what I did there, Jenny?
  • Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Cannon Falls is for lovers

  • I'm pretty sure 15 comments is a record. Thanks, everyone, for wishing us a happy anniversary.
    The child bride and I celebrated our anniversary in relatively low-key style, which seems to be our overall style. We were married in her parents' back yard, so why not celebrate seven years of marriage by going to Cannon Falls, Minn.?
    Those with knowledge of the North Star State may wonder why we chose to spend the night in my high school band director's hometown. The Cannon Valley Trail starts there and for some reason a 40-mile bike ride seemed the perfect anniversary activity.
    We ate lunch at the Applebee's in Red Wing (I know -- classy), where we had to ask the manager to change the bar's television from golf to the U.S.-Czech Republic match. It was clear he couldn't give a great goddamn about soccer, because he originally changed it to the wrong station and asked if that's what I was looking for. He wasn't alone. A few minutes later, a group of guys sat down near us, vocally expressed their general disgust for soccer and wondered aloud whether there was golf on.
    Their disinterest in the World Cup was vindicated by the U.S. team's performance. That game was 90 minutes of sucking, as far as the U.S. was concerned. About 70 minutes into the match, Rachel said: "(The Czechs are) either really, really, good, or we're not nearly as good as everyone said we are."
    ESPN commentator Tommy Smyth has picked Italy to win the whole thing, so I doubt Saturday's match against them will look a whole hell of a lot better.

  • Speaking of ESPN commentators, could they kiss Brazilian ass just a little more? They spent the first 40 minutes of today's match (during which Brazil did not all that much) verbally circle jerking over the team with random comments like this: "Their style of play just makes your heart smile."

  • Has anyone else noticed that the slogan, "My game is fair play" is plastered on things throughout the World Cup stadiums? Does it make sense to you that a somewhat syntax-challenged English phrase would be used by German hosts? Who is that for?

  • BEAR IN A TREE!
    (Even though I'm out of the news loop, thankfully Huw was alert to this one.)

  • My page views have been plummeting as of late, and I'm not sure why that would be. If it were an issue of quality, nobody would ever come here in the first place. Perhaps I am not working enough Google-searchable phrases into my posts, like "naked Asian teens on riding lawnmowers."
  • The Buddy System Marriage

    My latest column is out. Please forward it to friends, relatives, and lovers of written cheese.

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Seven years of fooling the child bride

    As of Monday, 12 June, Rachel and I will have been married for seven years. I am such a lucky bastard.

    We are off celebrating, so blogging is not likely until Tuesday.


    (Click for bigger photo)

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Sloth

    If you needed another reason to watch World Cup, Julie Foudy is part of ESPN's coverage team. Mmmmm, Julie. Julie Foudy is good for America.
    I'm actually somewhat impressed with the coverage that ESPN/ABC is giving the World Cup. In 2002, the only matches on ABC were U.S. matches, and they were time-delayed to air on the weekends. Some games aired a good three days after the fact. And some other matches simply weren't available. I remember having to watch England v. Brazil on Spanish-language television.
    They have their shit together a little better this time around -- all the matches are being carried live on either ESPN2 or ABC. And they've invested a little bit of time and money putting together fancy promos voiced by Bono. Of course, the drawback is now that I can actually watch the matches, I am watching the matches. Pretty much nothing was accomplished today.

  • I've managed to become totally slothful in just one week. Things started out so well -- I was exercising and keeping track of all the things I needed to do. Then Thursday I went over to my friend Eric's house and spent the day drinking beer and playing with his dog. Today I spent several hours watching soccer. Go me.

  • I had planned on redesigning this blog, but when I finally found a template that I was pretty sure I liked, the child bride pointed out (rightly) that it was actually not all that good. So, I switched my picture and doctored the sidebar. Things will probably stay that way for another two years.
  • Friday, June 9, 2006

    Flickr Fiction

    I'm late on this -- Donal, Elisa and Isobel have had their posts up for hours now.

    This is a short bit of fiction based on a photo one of us has found on Flickr:


    ...

    Vonetta and I had traveled out from Winnipeg as soon as we heard. It took us six days of traveling, with the bulk of that spent in her mother's 1980 Dodge Colt.

    We spent 40 days sitting outside the tomb, sharing what we had with other faithful who had come to see. We met a really nice couple from Laughlin, Nev., so now we have somewhere to stay if we're ever out that way.

    That's one of the things these nonbelievers don't understand -- how his actions bring his us believers closer together. I know that it's through him that my marriage to Vonetta has survived. We've had a lot of ups and downs, and we stick through it together thanks to his examples.

    He had promised to return on the 40th day, and crowds of people had turned up to see. Of course the nonbelievers pushed to the front. Vonetta and I had been there for 40 days with him, and suddenly we were having to share our spot with an annoying woman with an American South accent.

    "Man, this is such bullshit," she squawked. "Where's the magic in this?"

    "It's not magic, cretin," I said. "It's an act of faith. You wouldn't understand. You couldn't understand."

    "Faith? What the fuck is wrong with you?"

    "Yes. Faith. Myself and my soul partner, Vonetta, have been here for the full 40 days, waiting for him to return. We believe in him, and that helps us to be better people."

    "The hell? Some card shuckin' fool locks himself in a tomb for 40 days and you're gonna sit here and pray to him? You're fucking stupid. Man, this David Blaine ain't shit."

    How dare she?! Why do I even talk to nonbelievers? They only make me angry. I was about to tear into her, I mean, really start screaming at her, when I felt the crowd lurch forward. I spun around and saw his face -- David's face -- peering out from one of the tiny vault windows. He looked weak. His eyes turned toward one of his assistants, who was standing just outside the vault.

    "What's the combination?" David asked.

    "36-22-16," the assistant said.

    The face of David slipped back into darkness. The chain holding the vault shut started moving, and I saw the padlock slip through the window and into the black. I held my breath. The door pushed open slowly, silently, and David staggered out. His assistants rushed to him and threw a blanket around him as he fell to his knees. He had put himself through this for us.

    "I love you David!" Vonetta screamed.

    "I love you," I shouted.

    He looked at us and smiled. He looked at us. He looked directly at me and Vonetta. How could the nonbeliever next to us not understand after that?

    Thursday, June 8, 2006

    Grody to the max

  • Do you think anyone ever actually used the word "grody?" When I was a kid, the word was used when imitating a valley girl, but I don't think I ever heard anyone use the word in seriousness.

  • The child bride has a sort of "mad woman" trait that she picks up from her mother. Occasionally she will burst into a flurry of frustration-induced activity and attack the source of the frustration with the sort of vigor one would expect in a Disney cartoon.
    This morning she found ants crawling near her bed stand. After squealing for several minutes -- "Where are these ants COMING FROM?!" -- she decided to attack them with the vacuum cleaner. She vacuumed for about 15 minutes, the whole time yelling obscenities at the ants. Needless to say, the ants were back a few hours later.

  • Note to dumb asses on motorcycles: If you're kind of stupid and don't know how to ride your bike properly, you are no longer allowed to ride anywhere where my wife can see you.
    Tuesday night, Rachel and I were out enjoying the evening and a guy dropped his bike right in front of us. He had been leaning into a curve as if he were in Superbike, hit gravel and got to enjoy sliding across the pavement. Apart from his pride and some minor road rash, he wasn't hurt (which emphasizes the stupidity of his leaning on the curve -- he couldn't have been going more than 20 mph). He got back up right away and hopped back on his bike.
    As he sat there trying to restart his bike so he could escape the scene of his shame, Rachel said: "That's why you can't own a motorcycle."
    Bastard. From now on, only the safest of motorcycle riders are allowed to be within eyesight of my wife. And once they are stopped, they are not allowed to ever talk about speed or crazy drivers they have to contend with. They are only allowed to talk about how much money they save on gas and their ease in finding a place to park.

  • Subject line of a spam e-mail I received today: "Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation." I'm not sure what that means, but it sure sounds profound.
    You know, for a guy who doesn't have a job (how many more times can I mention this fact? I must point it out every 15 minutes), I haven't been drinking to elevation. Very strangely, I have become Action Guy. Tuesday I biked about 15 miles, today I biked about 10 miles and kayaked around a lake.

  • I mentioned that Blogger is ass, didn't I? Because they are.
  • Wednesday, June 7, 2006

    Carlson Wagonlit loses a customer

  • What the fuck is the point of a travel agent? I called one today to see if they would set up my flight for July. I decided to use a travel agent for the first time in my life because I have all sort of caveats due to the fact that I do not actually have my visa yet. So, if I set up a flight, I want to do so knowing that I won't be stuck with a flight I can't take if there are snafus in the visa process.
    I explained all this to the travel agent and she said she would call me back. When she did, she offered a flight that was pretty much everything I had said I didn't want. As I was explaining this fact to her, she started talking to someone in the office.
    Again, what the fuck? I can go to Travelocity and get a cheap flight that isn't what I want, and I can skip the part about being ignored on the phone.
    I wrote them a complaint e-mail (I seem to be doing this more as I get older), but I guarantee it will do no good.

  • The good news is that when and if we ever get to Wales, we will have a house. The child bride and I signed a tenancy agreement today. I now have an address, which means that I can start packing things up and sending them there (it takes 4 to 6 weeks for cheap post to get from the U.S. to the U.K.). Now I just need to figure out how to set up water, electricity, etc.
    I have this crazy desire to send myself mail at our new address. I know that all Cardiffians think I am a damned fool for moving to Fairwater/Danescourt -- about two miles from the university -- but Rachel and I are really excited. The house has a garden ("back yard" in American), which means that one of our first purchases will be a grill. If I am lucky, we will live next to vegans.

  • I'm getting sick of posting video to my site, so I'm sure you're getting sick of watching it. If not, last night I put something together on Grand Old Day, the annual festival that takes place on the street where we used to live in St. Paul. I'm not sure what it says about me that most of the video is of the parade. In fairness, though, when I wasn't watching the parade I had food or beer in my hands, which make it difficult to hold a camera.

  • I've been wanting to say something about the government taking up valuable time to debate doomed constitutional amendments, but I can't think of anything intelligent to say because I'm having trouble grasping the fact that the government really is taking up valuable time to debate gay marriage. Gay marriage? What am I missing that makes that an important issue? I feel like I'm living in Bizarro America.
  • Monday, June 5, 2006

    Day 1

  • Going back to Friday, my last day at work was relatively uneventful. I just went to work and then went home. All my stuff fit into a grocery bag. It feels a bit weird to have five and a half years fit comfortably into a Lunds paper bag.
    The only real highlight was this fake news story that was sent to me by Adam, who also edits my columns. He deliberately filled the story with errors. What's interesting is that I was in a sort of cruise control mode when this was sent, and, so I didn't realize the story was fake until I got to the part about throwing beer into the river.
    Riots Engulf European Campus
    A battle over foreign students ignights in England. Students at a Welch university burn cars to protest international admissions.
    CARDIFF, Wales -- Students at the University of Cardiff in Wales tore down buildings and poured the cities intire supply of beer into the river Friday.
    They were protosting what some said was the illegitimate admission of an American student to their campus.
    "We English folks need ot keep this sort of academic failure away from us," student Gwynnl Chhgrwz sais.
    Administraters vowed to take the matter under consideration, given that the student has committed many crimes.


  • An additional piece of advice that perhaps I should have put on Friday's post is this: No matter how much you want to, don't publish that your coworker is a obnoxious, annoying, stick-like, ho-bag, sperm-receptacle," because they'll probably find out and you'll lose your job.
    Obviously, I didn't mention that workplace mishap before, because I was still in the service of my formerly benevolent employer. My fellow copy editor caught that error, by the way, but the fella who wrote it had already put it up on his website, so it was made permanent by the keeper of all knowledge that is Google cache. I would make fun of that bloke, but I was once fired for "threatening to kill" my boss in an e-mail.

  • My first official day of unemployment went alright. I didn't take a shower until 4:30 p.m., but the day has been relatively productive. I spent much of my morning on the phone trying to shore up various loose ends that need to be ironed out before I move to Wales. That last sentence was a metaphor cage match, but I think you get my point. I should have a home in Cardiff secured by the end of this week, and within the same time period I plan to push to know everything is all right with my student loan or drop Sallie Mae and use a different loan company.
    I had planned to also call a travel agent and set up plane tickets, but I can only stand being polite to people for so long. Something about talking on the phone with people who aren't friends or relatives makes me want to kill.

  • Cripes, Blogger is the suck. It was off and on all day.

  • Be careful who you screw on eBay.
    (Link sent to me by Huw)

  • I don't find this to be so much funny as it is terrifying.
    (link sent to me by Elisa)
  • Happy Monday

    A quick video note to a few of my former coworkers...

    Speedy

    The child bride and I took part in our last -- for a while, at least -- Grand Old Day on Sunday.

    Grand Old Day is a St. Paul tradition that goes back so far, no one can be arsed to tell you how far it goes back. About 2.5 miles of Grand Avenue is shut down for the event, and upward of 150,000 people flood the street for booze, music, fatty food and an all-around good time.

    The day starts off with an 8K run for those people self-hating enough to get up and go running at 8 a.m. Count the child bride and me among them.

    I finished the race with a time of 37:06, which is 9 seconds faster than I ran the race last year. My pace time this year was 7:28 a mile. I finished 21/54 in my division of 30- to 34-year-old males, and 106/406 amongst all males. Of course, there were 122 people between me and first place (I finished 123/763 overall), so I shouldn't sit here and cheer myself too much.

    But the most important goal was achieved: I outran my wife.

    The child bride is fighting illness and was so unhappy with her time that she refuses to let me blog it.

    Afterward, we ate healthy meals of bratwurst, cheese curds and ice cream.

    Friday, June 2, 2006

    'Under way' is two words, you fools!

    Today was my final day in service of my benevolent employer. As I told my fellow wage slaves, I feel a tinge of shame over leaving on good terms. It doesn't do much for my writer reputation to have left quietly, my bag of stuff under my arm, 550 stock options to pin my hopes on. A part of me wishes I had been dragged out naked, stinking of whisky and screaming death threats.

    My departure today is particularly poignant because it is not only the end of five and a half years at the same company but, hopefully, it is also the end of my news career. Obviously, if I'm starting over at age 30, I have a few issues with this business, but it hasn't been a total loss. You can learn from every experience. Here is some of what I have learned over my 12-year attempt to be a newsman:

    There are a lot of evil people. There are a lot of stupid people. Most of them live in Ohio and Florida.

    North Carolina is unnervingly conservative.

    Southern Californians are the ugly Americans of America.

    Old people are not good drivers.

    Pit bulls love the taste of children.

    Few things are more exciting or newsworthy than a bear in a tree.

    The public hates quality public education; they especially hate paying for it.

    Whatever's wrong, it's Bill Clinton's fault. Unless it's George W. Bush's fault.

    Contrary to what "Law & Order" would have you to believe, most people who commit violent crimes are terribly inept when it comes to putting together an alibi.

    If the 14-year-old girl with whom you are having an illicit online relationship asks you to travel out of state to meet her for sex, it's a trick.

    Most people stop learning shortly before they enter the workforce.

    The media is neither liberally nor conservatively biased. It is lazy.

    There are a lot of really, really, really crazy people. Those with the capacity to send angry e-mails or make angry phone calls are largely responsible for editorial policy.

    Journalism schools are apparently teaching that puns and alliteration are the two most important elements to news writing.

    Journalism in television is like good beer in Cheyenne, Wyo. -- it is very hard to find. There is plenty of booze available in Cheyenne, and there is plenty of news available in the modern world. But finding quality in either case is a challenge.

    Ignorance is powerful.

    Life is shockingly fragile.

    They let me eat cake

    Holy shit, bitches -- my benevolent employer gave me a goodbye cake. I'm one of those people. One of those people who gets cake when he leaves. And it was actually good cake.

    On the top it said: "Best wish's good luck in Whales."

    It was misspelled because I'm a copy editor, and apparently the cake makers had to ice the cake twice because they corrected the mistakes.

    I was all set to piss and moan about the fact that I have spent five and a half years there and got nothing out of it, then they gave me a cake. It was no small tartan box with silk and velvet ribbon, but beggars can't be choosers.

    Appropriately, there were two people I've never met eating my cake.