Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Full Circle

I ran out to lunch yesterday. On my way back in I rolled my window down, entered the parking deck, parked, and hit the "up" button on my window.....Nothing. After several minutes of banging furiously on the "up" button I looked up and realized a woman in the car next to me was staring; looking at me quizzically with a look bordering on concern. I shuddered involuntarily because I knew that I had initiated an inescapable sequence of events known only as The Eternal Wheel of Destruction. Once you're on the Eternal Wheel of Destruction you have no choice but to come full-circle.

The wheel has three phases:

PHASE ONE - "Get Some Pliers"
So, my first thought was "I better get some pliers" because, generally, I can fix nearly anything with some good pliers. If I CAN'T fix it - it at least feels good to have a pair of pliers handy. Then I'm standing there with some pliers instead of....just standing there. Standing there with some pliers announces to passers-by that "you are actively engaged in remedying your own misfortune." It doesn't matter what the misfortune is. You can spill a gallon of popcorn at the movie theater, whip out some pliers and begin frantically squeezing the lip of the empty container and people will think things are under control. If something happens and you're just standing there empty-handed - you look stranded and helpless; like a baby seal in a parking deck. Plus, if you're just standing there chances are good you're also "gaping"; and that's no good. If you gape - somebody will offer to help you - then its over: you're officially never going to be self-sufficient again. No matter what - you'll always know there was that one time when a stranger had to help you.

I am no stranger to The Wheel; so I quickly rustled up a pair of pliers and commenced to standing there with some pliers. That was okay. I felt relieved and I know several people saw me and approved, but I got tired of it pretty quickly and figured I could at least try to "get it unstuck." This is PHASE TWO

PHASE TWO - "Thrashing The Water"
Now, if you've ever attempted to get something unstuck you know that there's a 50/50 chance "unsticking" will also involve "crushing", "shattering", "mutilating", or at least "chipping."

In this instance I quickly went from trying to get it unstuck back to just standing there with some pliers; except, this time I was just standing there with some pliers holding a piece of my window which is, as you may have guessed, Phase Three.

PHASE THREE - "Complete Destruction and Defeat"
So, there I am pliers in one hand, chunk of window in the other, door panel in pieces in the parking deck. There was only one thing to do: bang furiously on the "up" button.

The wheel was complete.

Monday, December 03, 2007


I had a missed call on my way out the door to work the other day. I operate tangentially to the rest of the world in that if I DON'T recognize the number I'm much more likely to answer the call immediately. That seems to be opposite the normal tide of human behavior.

The truth is: I harbor secret hopes that answering an unknown number will culminate in a really good surprise, and you know how much I love surprises.

I've found that when you know the number - you generally have a solid idea on whats about to happen. Sometimes its good, sometimes it ain't so good; but its typically not much of a surprise either way.

Of course then 800.555.2391 shows up on my Blackberry screen. My friends don't have 1-800 numbers, right? But you know who does? Publisher's Clearinghouse, the Georgia Lottery, Cabela's, Beretta USA, Remington, Harvard, Puff Daddy, Gregg Allmann, Dave Mathews, Chifuti Safaris, the White House, and Winchester (to name a few).

So, yes: I'm going to answer that 1-800 number and I'm going to do it fast. A tiny glimmer of hope drives me.

In this instance I answered the phone and the guy said something garbled that sounded like "work on your tap." I had been waiting on a call from the county to come work on their part of my sewer line (the county "tap") so I immediately launched into a long description of my plumbing issues culminating in my frustration over having to pull up and dispose of $4,000 in fine laminate flooring RUINED from a sewer line backup. Before I wrapped up the inning I went into my final stretch and came across the plate with a high, hard, fastball describing in detail what its like to come home and find your brand-new, recently-finished basement covered in an inch of standing water.

I paused briefly to admire the black plume of complaint swirling smokily over my head; when nervously over the phone line I heard: "I'm sorry sir this is Tim from Tech support. I was just calling to see if you got your Blackberry fixed."

Thanks Tim. Its fine.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stupid Snuck In

I was at dinner with Matt "Caveman" Dunn last night talking finance (thats "f'nance" to you, my highbrow friends). I was just slinging some advice around; you know - testing out the 'ol CPA license. I am, after all, in f'nance. I'm not sure if you knew this or not but: I know about stuff.

I apparently know just enough about stuff that all I need is a well-intended friend and some cheap mexican food and I will have made a complete ass of myself by the time the cheese dip gets cold.

The rosy glow from my brilliant advice on credit cards hadn't worn off yet when I got to thinking - maybe I should look into the 'ol credit balance and see just exactly who's getting fat in MY pigsty these days. They know I'm a CPA over there, so I'm nearly certain Chase Manhattan wouldn't dare to tinker with my interest rates, right? It makes sense. You'd think that having one's very own CPA would be sort of like having anti-finance-charge balm on at all times - like mosquito repellent. Flap that CPA card around hard enough and creditors buzz on down to the next picnic. Intimidating, I know.


In this case it'd been so long since I looked at a Chase statement I hadn't noticed the 14.5% rate increase. Initially I wrote "couple" of months ago, but lets be honest - it was definitely a "few" which, to me, typically means "more than two, but I'm not man enough to admit how many." At least, that’s what the credit woman at Chase said; "a few."

She was completely resistant to all of my charms; even the "wheedle" which I consider particularly effective against callcenter women. So, my early Christmas present to myself was: paying off a credit card for major home improvements.

Sure, building the basement was a good idea. And yeah, a little outstanding debt is Smart if it pays for itself, right?

Well, Smart left the door open and Stupid snuck in.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I couldn't help but notice the other day that my friend Ernie's parents have something horrible and terrifying standing in their yard: tiny midget horses. Several of them actually. I find them extremely disconcerting and, to be perfectly honest, I'm more than just a little bit scared of them. But for some reason every time I see one all I can think about is: "I'd really like to ride that little horse."

Despite years of requests, his parents still won't let me.

All this "you weight 215lbs and that horse only weighs 30" business is ridiculous. Everybody knows horses can lift much heavier things than themselves.

Look at the Budweiser horses and that big wagon they're always dragging around. I find it hard to believe that thing is hollow and weighs less than a horse. Its got kegs of frosty, delicious beer in it. And we all know that's not light stuff. Even lite beer is heavier than say, feathers, for instance - you know? And a whole wagon full of feathers would be heavy as lead if you packed them down right.

I saw an impossibly small children's saddle on a hobby horse the other day, and I thought: that would be just the ticket for riding one of those tiny midget horses. You could strap on your capguns and plastic spurs, spur that little midget horse into a gallop and you'd be 300% faster than the kid on that hobby horse any day of the week.

If I was a kid again, and I managed to get myself a midget horse I'd be THE MAN. All the other kids in the neighborhood would be tooling around on there stupid Huffy bicycles, and I'd come galloping in on the wings of a dove - clippity clop!! There'd be 7-year-old girls camped out on the lawn day and night.

I guess its a good thing I didn't have a crazy little midget horse in 1987, because I'm not sure I could have used all that power for good.

Sure, the potential would have been there for me to become a little Lone Ranger - serving the cause of all that is good, noble, and right: I might have been a one-child neighborhood watch on ponyback.

BUT I probably would have ended up a tiny little bandito instead; terrorizing the neighborhood on my ignoble steed - pasturing in your geraniums, watering in your sprinklers - it would have been chaos.

Friday, September 21, 2007

No Further Questions

I've always wondered if every person in the world eventually comes to a crossroads where he or she is confronted, unavoidably, with the questions: "Am I completely okay? Is the way I perceive the world right, wholesome, and good? Is my character lacking in some fashion that I'm unaware of? When people see me, do they think I'm normal; or do they sort of 'wonder' about me a little bit?"

I began tackling those tough issues this morning during my commute - headed south on I-75 right about Mt. Paran Road. I'm not sure what it is about the Mt. Paran Rd. exit, but if I'm going to have a deep thought before noon; chances are good it'll start right there. Maybe its my lack of cell service from there to Moore's Mill Rd. - I really couldn't say.

Regardless, as I passed by the Northside Drive exit I glanced in the rearview and realized I'd been lip-synching the words to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper since Moore's Mill Rd, you know - really getting into it, and a guy in a dump truck one lane over was staring at me.

Girls, after all, just want to have fun.

No further questions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I went to an ASA "Late Model" stock car race the other day, which despite the concrete bleachers; was incredibly gratifying. I always forget how loud the cars are and I love that racing-fuel-smell.

Take some of that fuel smell mixed with burning rubber smell and maybe a little sweat and you've got yourself a seriously marketable cologne. I'm surprised more perfumeries don't think of the simple things like that. Sort of cuts down on the need to collect 1,000,000lbs of jasmine blossoms off the north side of Aghanistan, wouldn't it?

If you wear designer colognes your options are limited to stuff like "Suede", "Eternity", and "Obsession" and I can't help but think - those guys don't know what "eternity" or an "obsession" really smell like, you know?

I bet a real full-on obsession smells more like sweaty palms, stale popcorn, binoculars, and dirt - not that fruity-alcohol smell that comes in the bottle.

I don't even want to know what eternity smells like. It would most likely make my brain explode.

That should be the rule: you should have to name cologne what it smells like, and vice-versa - and NO foreign names. For all you know "Aquadigio" means: "hydrated redneck" in Italian. And French colognes? Please - if its not spelled out clearly in English I sure wouldn't say it out loud. Those guys haven't liked us much lately and I wouldn't put a little good-natured double-entendre past them. Seriously - we're talking about the country that INVENTED the double-entendre. Stamping something snide all over a product Americans PAY for like that would be a nationally-celebrated French triumph. You have to watch for that.

Actually, that’s not a bad name for a cologne now that I think about it: Double Entendre. I bet it would smell like mustard mixed with cocktail olives, linen, freshly-mown grass, hairspray, and gin.

I can smell a double-entendre coming a mile away.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shark Bait

You know the funny thing about lakewater is that when you hit it hard enough - it really hurts. And I mean "real bad." I spent a full hour on Lanier last weekend getting dragged through the water like hairy shark bait and let me tell you: go from 20mph to 0 once or twice using only your face and you'll see what I mean.

There's really only one way to get up on the accursed thing to start with but I'm amazed at the number of new and graceless ways I can think of to fall OFF a wakeboard. Mostly you have to get UP to fall OFF though, and instead I just dragged around chugging lakewater like its my job: Jimmy Ewing, Lakewater Flavor Tester. Lanier '07 is piquant with notes of oak and fish and a light salmonella finish (if you're curious buy a wakeboard).

Do you ever have that experience where you hammer through the water so long that you actually pause a little at the very peak of your descent and have time to think "Hmm. I wonder when I'm going to come back up?" It happened to me - everything sort of slowed down, I hung there for a second, thunk a quick thought or two, then was completely shocked at the direction my life jacket suggested might be "up." If I hadn't taken McGuyver's advice and followed the air bubbles I'd still be down there. Its funny the TV shows you remember when you're about to die, isn't it? I'm just glad I didn't spend much time on "Start Trek" because I don't think Mr. Spock was into watersports.

Fortunately, I DID watch McGuyver and I DO remember everything he taught me about underwater rescue, makeshift weapons (that injure, but never maim), and the explosive properties of cotton socks; so I bobbed back up like a big, freckled, cadaver in a life jacket and they fished me out of the water with a boat hook.

That’s when it started to hurt.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Properly Accessorized

I was sitting around last week looking at guns on the internet (something I've been known to do) when it occurred to me: I don't NEED anymore guns (except an elephant gun, which I don't have yet). What I NEED is gun accessories.

So last Monday I changed tactics.

Did you know that a tactical stock cheekpiece (with bullet holder loops and nifty, zippered accessory pouch) is only $39.95 at StubbyGear.com? I didn't know that either, but I have so enjoyed learning.

I pretty much can't get away from anything marked "tactical". If they sold "tactical' soap on a rope I'd have 16 cases of it under my bed and more on the way. I figure that "tactical" means "special" and if its "special" chances are excellent that none of my hunting friends have it and, really, that’s the key to buying a good accessory: nobody else has one.

Over the years I've grown to understand that most people don't "get it." That’s ok with me. They think accessories should be "useful", or at least add some form of value to whatever you're accessorizing. I understand the confusion, but thats actually not true. In extreme cases not only does an accessory NOT add value, it may completely destroy the utility of the whole thing, but you'll be so excited about it you'll hardly notice. Of course, you can't do anything about that anyway - its too late! You're properly accessorized and now the finishes match but it'll only fit that one gun, they don't make weatherstripping like that anymore, tires don't come in 31.29 x 75 after 1993, BFGoodrich won't send you a price list for a replacement, Redfield went out of business, your Dad likes it, you lost the thread protector nut, nobody knows where the wrench to tighten it went, the drill bits are too small, or the instructions are in Russian.

That’s not really the point though - sometimes the added value comes from the simple act of making the purchase itself. I don't know what it was about that $39.95 in my wallet, but that particular $39.95 was making me absolutely miserable: I had to get rid of it and instead of just throwing it away; I turned it into a mil-spec nylon cheekpiece (complete with special little bullet holders and a sniper notebook) that I'll probably never use, don't need, and will likely end up putting in the attic.

17 years from now a future wife or child will find it, poke it with a stick to scare off nesting spiders, then throw it away when I'm not home. Later that afternoon I'll think to myself "I wonder whatever happened to that tactical stock cheekpiece" and I'll spend the next 17 years looking for it. I'll find the instruction booklet and warranty card. I'll know where the replacement zipper pulls are, and the optional waxed cotton lining. I'll have a copy of the receipt and date of purchase. Maybe even a UPC symbol. But the cheekpiece itself'll be long gone.

My last words in this life are likely to be a confused murmer from the floor of my special huntingstuff closet: "Tactical Cheekpiece?" I'll whisper, then I'll slip away.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Seersucker Salute

To the gentleman next to me at the gas pump this morning sporting seersucker pants, black shoes, blue socks, brown belt, and a white longsleeve shirt let me say simply this:

For exhibiting bravery in the line of fashion duty and a portraying a deep and abiding disdain for the color wheel - I salute you.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Welcome to the Family

I am extremely happy to welcome a very important addition to my family: a Beretta Mato rifle in .338 Winchester Magnum.

I bought it for grizzly bears and big hairy stuff that bites back because hey; how embarassing would it be for there to be a sudden grizzly bear infestation in Sandy Springs and I'm the only one without the appropriate grizzly bear medicine, you know? That’s not cool.

It kicks so bad that every time I shoot it a fairy loses its wings.

Shoot Me Now

I want to briefly address a recent influx of comments directed at me concerning the possibility that Meredith's recent supposed "bass catch" was bigger than mine. Friends: that spurious rumor is completely false. Despite several obviously altered photographs which may indicate circumstances to the contrary: I maintain that not only did Meredith NOT catch a "bigger" fish, she also did not catch a fish at all, period, ever. Let me be perfectly clear: under no circumstances at all, whatsoever, did Meredith on July 17th, 2007 at 11:04AM catch a bass at The Deer Camp (on MY ROD, just off the edge of the island, on a submerged hump) that may or may not have exceeded size of my bass by a grotesque and embarassing margin. You can't believe everything you see on Facebook.

There has also been some discussion concerning whether or not my acquaintance Dr. Jennie Cheesborough, MD actually caught several salmon the size of my truck on a fly rod in Alaska. Despite the clearly doctored photographs circling Facebook suggesting that it might have happened; again I maintain - impossible! You can't believe every picture you see in print. I saw winged pigs on the cover of the newspaper* last week and I don’t believe for a second that they actually flew, nonstop, all the way to the moon. We all know they'd have stopped off in Iowa. All that corn? Please, no oinker would pass that up.

I heard that Dr. C. also had the audacity to suggest that bass fishing was somewhat "lowbrow," to which I can only reply: my brow has steadily increased in recent years, and by all accounts it appears to be gearing up for an acceleration.

Anyway, lets not make this personal. I'm not necessarily out to prove that I'm right; just that you're all wrong. Even if Meredith HAD caught this supposed "fish" - it couldn't possibly be larger than MY fish: Gigantor the Horrific. It doesn't even make sense - a simple, logical, look at the circumstances and facts should indicate exactly that. In short: Meredith is "mini," hence - all fish she may or may not catch must ALSO be "mini". How can a tiny, midgety person catch a huge, massive fish? Its just not possible. Eh? It violates all the laws of the sporting universe. Am I right?

Personally, I don’t want to live in a world where I get routinely trounced at all things "outdoors" by a certain brunette little person. Unfortunately, I also don't believe in suicide and no asteroids have hit me yet - so it looks like I'm destined to suffer constant insult and injury at the hands of the freakishly talented Meredith Q.

Shoot me now.


*The Enquirer

Monday, July 23, 2007

Welcome to The Cow Show

My good friend Tommy Statham launched into a long story last night about…something - I don't remember what. I think it was something about his cousin, but I don't really know exactly. I sort of phased slowly out when I heard him say "then we went to the livestock show."

Regardless, the point is this: his story involved a livestock "show"; more specifically - a cow show…..And that set me to thinking.

At some point it seems to me that every cow owner, before he or she became a cow owner, was confronted with a particular cow and immediately thought to himself, "if only I had that particular cow in my life, everything would be better. I gotta have that cow." Then, at some point our cow owner caught a glimpse of his special cow when the light hit her just right and he thought to himself, "my, that’s a beautiful cow."

Ultimately, our virtuous cow owner decides that beauty and perfection of the magnitude exemplified in his pet cow shouldn't be hidden away on a small farm in Yatesville, GA, but should be put on display for the entire world to see. So, that is why 11 months, 8,000lbs of feed, and 14 shampooings later; we catch up to our cow-owner friend at his first cow show, nervously fiddling with his suspenders and praying for total cattle-show domination.

As I understand it: in a cow show a full-grown man walks up to the center of a ring or stage with his pet cow and another man looks at the first man and says into a microphone, "this is quite a cow you got here. I bet you've spent a lot of quality time with this here cow."

The first man says, "I won't lie to you: this really is a great cow."

The second man says, "I know a great cow when I see one, and I really think this might be the very greatest cow in the entire barn. Here, let me give you this blue ribbon to put on your cow."

The first man says "Thank you, she'll love this ribbon. It'sanhonor. ThankyouGod...Icouldn'thavedoneitwithoutGod, my family, and this here cow."

And the two men part ways.

That’s it.

To recap: what we're talking about here is a grown man taking his pet cow down to an event for the sole purpose of allowing other people the pleasure of admiring his cow, and possibly admiring some cows himself.

And that’s fine with me.

I'm just concerned about the cows. Nobody asked them if they wanted to be paraded around stark naked in front of God and country like that.

Seems to me they could at least dress 'em up a bit.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lie 'Til You Die

I get quite a lot of questions about my deer picture here. I don't blame you for being interested, that’s a fine specimen of an animal represented there. In fact, you might even say it’s a monster, Big Bucky, Buckeronimo, The King of the Deer Herd, or even "Buckus Maximus."

Let me put it this way: if there is a more monstrous 8 pointer out there, I'm not aware of him - and if he DOES exist, I certainly don't want to know about it; so keep your grubby emails to yourselves.

Most people also seem very interested in the story of his demise, which I have told numerous times in the past; but have never gotten around to setting down on paper. It’s a pretty simple story, really. I was on my way to King & Spalding to look at some deal-related financial information and I noticed him standing at the corner of 14th and Peachtree, waiting on the bus. He leaned forward out of the wind to light a cigarette and rub one antler on a Marta advertisement and all I had to do was sneak up behind him and scream "AHAH HAHAHAHHA HA." He jumped right out in front of a Cox Sanitation truck. Once the cops left and the intersection cleared I simply slung him up into my truck and took him to the taxidermist.

See what I did there? I used the deer's natural nervous tendencies to my advantage. That’s the mark of a true hunter and I'm fairly proud of it, on the whole.

In fact, I'm inordinately proud of Big Bucky. I feel a certain sense of ownership and accomplishment in his demise; at least partly because I created him myself. Yup, I formed him from clay and breathed life directly into his nostrils. Its true.

Actually, that’s not at all true - its a face-melting lie straight from the pit of hell, but compared to some of the other hunting whoppers I've told its really not that bad. I figured I should try that lie on for size before commiting to it wholeheartedly and I needed an audience. I couldn't just waltz out on a limb with that one - it deserved a test run and you were my guinea pigs. Did you like the escalation? I like to ease into a good lie, you know: start off small, but finish up with a hell-raising crescendo of immaculate lies fit to make the Devil himself blush and shuffle his feet.

You have to understand: the art of fabricating a good hunting or fishing story requires a certain lack of moral compunction coupled with an absolute, lifelong, dedication to the lie itself. Its not a conversation piece - it’s a way of life. You don't hop back and forth across the fence with the details of your story - you stick to it. Own it, brother! Speak that lie forth into existence and then follow it with complete, immoral, Bible-scorching, self-sacrificial dedication. If you're not going to stick to it, don't bother - you'll just ruin a perfectly good story for everybody else. Then you've got a double-handful of nothin': your lie is shot, everybody knows you weren't man enough to walk that story all the way to her door.

Well, I have to go. I would write more, but I'm late to pick up my Tyrannosaurus Rex mount from the taxidermist. Now, THAT was a hunt! Remind me to tell you about it some time - it involved a canister of weapons-grade plutonium and a nine-iron. After it was all said and done; I'm just lucky the doctors were able to sew my head back on.

In the meantime, learn from the pros and hold fast to the code because, its like my Uncle Robert taught me in 2nd grade: if you're gonna lie, you gotta lie 'til you die.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ya Caught Me!

I was sitting at work a short while ago, feeling sort of low - a touch of general malaise I guess, when suddenly it hit me - I know what my problem is: I haven't gotten "caught" at anything in years!

I've been too good; I've lost sight of what is important in life. I no longer live on adrenaline and hot Cokes purloined from the pantry in clear violation of the "one-coke-a-day" rule. I can't remember the last Twinkie I snuck off the top of the fridge, but I know it was delicious. A Twinkie taken in honesty only tastes like creamy styrofoam, but a Twinkie greedily burgled out of Mom's stash: gustatory halcyon.

The truth is: getting "caught" was the best - it made EVERYTHING better. You remember those days, don’t you?

Sneaking out wouldn't have been fun if there hadn't been anybody around to catch you. There's no sense in blamming a ladder up against your bedroom window when you can just walk right out the front door on your own.

Why hit your sister if theres no fine? (It was $20 for angry-hitting, $10 for public embarassment, and $15 for a burp-and-blow within 3 feet - I paid for Margaret's education in dimes by the time she was 12).

Cigarettes are no fun if you don't have to steal 'em from your grandmother and who wants FRESH chewing tobacco when you can swipe a 4-year-old, moldy, pack out of Uncle Buster's bass boat?

Why shoot BBs at the garden statuary if nobody notices the chipped fingers and cracked noses?

If Granddad isn't there to freak out over a lost remote, why hide it?

Its no fun to stuff a plastic fishing worm up your nose if nobody spanks you for it in the doctor's office parking lot, you know?

Theres no sense pouting in front of the minister's wife anymore - now it just makes ME look bad, not my parents.

When was the last time you and 42 friends bought 850 raw eggs, all at once, all from the same Kroger; and thought nobody noticed? I don't want 850 raw eggs anymore because I know I can't expect to see a line of parents stacked up out front waiting to catch me red-handed. Its just no fun.

Temper tantrums in Target just get you arrested, they don't threaten to "call your father at work" (gasp). What use is a temper tantrum if you can't follow it with 8hrs of sheer terror - wondering if Dad will make good on his offer to "kill you" when he gets home?

Its just not the same anymore. Misdemeanors are felonies, nobody grounds you after going to traffic court, you can't even slam a door and get hollered at; now the glass panes just shatter and I gotta go fix it myself.

Its only a hint of consolation, but after spending some time thinking it over - I've found a way to get back a tiny bit of that just-been-caught satisfaction: Uncle Buster, remember when your hubcaps kept falling off your truck in the driveway? That was ME. I DID IT AND BLAMED IT ON THE BEAGLE!!! AAAHHHHHHHHAAAA!!!!!!

Ya caught me!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Why, Hello Placebo!

Why hello there.

Lets talk briefly about those paper "germ-preventative" disposable toilet seat covers you find in public restrooms.

You know that doesn't work, right?
Did they have you fooled?
Yes, they did??

Well, let me ask you this: when was the last time you were wheeled into a surgical procedure and greeted by a doctor wearing paper gloves?
No? Paper gloves? No - not common in your area?

Well, theres a reason for that: those seat covers aren't for your rump, buddy - they're for your BRAIN. Let me introduce you to the concept of the "placebo."

Webster's has the following to say on the idea:
pla·ce·bo n. pl. pla·ce·bos or pla·ce·boes: A substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well.

(2) An inactive substance or preparation used as a control in an experiment or test to determine the effectiveness of a medicinal drug.

(3) Something of no intrinsic remedial value that is used to appease or reassure another.

I bet you felt reassured, didn't you - last time you saw that dispenser on the wall? Don't let me burst your bubble, but that paper seat cover would be every bit as effective at preventing germs if you wore it around your head, ate it, or tied it into your shoe laces.

The point is: it’s a public restroom. They're nasty. If the office building you're in is so certain there will be a furious riot when the public realizes the dangers of the communal facilities they provide that they supply each little human sheep with its very own comfort blanket made of thin paper; maybe you oughtn't go in there at all! There's something they're not telling - and no amount of paper in the world is going to save your sweet cheeks from the risks.

DON’T GO IN THERE. I recommend to AVOID at all costs.

But if you must - sure, use those seat covers to your heart's content! I don't mind, because when I hear that seat cover dispenser busily dispensing its soul out in a nearby stall, I think to myself: why hello, placebo!.....And it gives me joy.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fishing, Naturally.

I finished up part 3 of the CPA exam on Tuesday and, to reward myself for long hours spent in study, I took myself fishing.

Unfortunately, I don't have a boat.

Fortunately, my Uncle Buster DOES have a boat which, for some reason - he lets us use. It is a very large, very fast boat with lots of electronic equipment, little tiny buttons and knobs everywhere, and other things that go "Beeeeeeep" that someone (me) who doesn't really spend tons of time on a boat is liable to bend, fold, spindle, snap, or otherwise mutilate while furiously thrashing around on deck.

The other problem is - this particular boat's motor is stuck in the "OFF" position right now because something was going "kaawackitywackitywatckitythumpthumpthumpthump" last week when it was cranked up. Normally it would go "baaaarrooommmma aaaaaawoomwoomwo mwoowmm wwaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagrggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrwooshwooosh."

That is not a huge deal because you just lower the (new, expensive) trolling motor down in the water and fish to your little heart's content. Then, instead of running the boat back up on the trailer with the big motor, you take a run at it with the trolling motor and - in a complicated series of co-ordinated movements not unlike those you might see at a local performance of the Nutcracker Ballet; you pirouette on the fishing stool, snatch the trolling motor up 1/10 of a second before hitting the trailer (remembering to compensate for the big motor's swinging effect), and then hop off and balance on the edge of the trailer while quickly winching the boat back into its berth.

Of course, you should not hit the trailer off to one side, get the trolling motor hung up in the bunks, crank up the big motor when its going "kaawackity wackitywatckity thumpthumpth ump thump", accidentally back the lower unit over the top of Uncle Buster's submerged sprinkler system pump ($680), fall in, run the boat up over the trailer wheel-wells, run the boat into the tailgate of your truck, get our truck stuck in the mud at the edge, break a rod tip, step on a crankbait, or accidentally get out - leaving your truck in reverse while backing down into the water.

Those are some things you should not, under any circumstances, do to Uncle Buster's boat.

So, after I fell in, got the trolling motor unstuck from the bunks, backed the lower unit over the submerged sprinkler system pump ($680) ran over the wheel well, and got my truck hung up in the mud - we all went to the waffle house and had a patty melt. At waffle house we compared notes and realized that while I was busy thrashing around in the boat and my Uncle Buster was busy rolling his eyes at me - my Uncle John had been quietly snatching fish out of the water left and right.

Now, I'm 27 years old. I know how to operate a veritable bevy of farm equipment, motors, trucks, boats, and firearms. Seriously - I can do it. And, if nobody is around - I can even operate it without mangling the equipment into a twisted heap of steaming metal. So, last night when I went BACK out there fishing by myself - everything was smooth and easy….until I had to load up. Ordinarily there are two of you, and one person hops out to back the trailer into the water so the other person can load up the boat. As I was alone; I had to pull the boat up alongside the bank, get out, run over to my truck, back the trailer down into the water, then get BACK in the boat, and load up.

When I got out of the boat I accidentally shoved off with my foot without realizing it. After backing the trailer down into the water I went back over to the boat to hop in. Unfortunately, by that time the boat was nearer the center of the lake than the shore. Do you know what I mean by "nearer the center of the lake than the shore?"

I could have slung a crankbait over into the boat - snagged the carpet and slowly pulling it in to shore. At least, I could have done that if all my stuff wasn't already in the boat.

Fortunately, I like to swim in dark-water lakes at night, alone, in people's backyards when they don't know I'm going swimming. It adds to my swimming enjoyment. I particularly like the thick muck at the bottom of the lake that you sink knee-deep into and wonder, abstractly, about killer mud-snakes, quicksand, and lack of life-jackets. Then, the fun starts in earnest when I get OUT of the water because I especially prefer to be wet, muddy, and cold whenever possible.

I have learned to prepare for this sort of thing by always having some paper towels and a clean change of clothes under the seat in my truck. So, when the motion-sensor lights turned on - there I was - naked on my Uncle Buster's back lawn; attempting to dry myself on my tshirt.

Nature was my leotard.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Theft by Taking

I headed up JW Dobbs this morning and slipped through the first yellow light in the nick of time. That put me at the next red light just quick enough to witness the following scene:

Homeless man, reclined on low-lying concrete wall.
Gently snoring.
Arms widespread - knuckles dragging ground on either side.
Legs splayed with ankles crossed.
Small black plastic grocery bag (full) at his feet; a look of utter contentment and peace lighting his face in stark contrast to his decrepit condition.

Just as I pass our erstwhile VanWinkle; another indigent ambling shiftily down the street sees our sleeping friend and slows to a sneaky, catlike, walk. His steps become ever-stealthier as he approaches the sleeper. He appears to tiptoe. At handshake-distance our ambulating homeless stops and begins a clandestine examination of his surroundings; looking about in all directions as if fearful of being watched. His stealth is comical as it is rush hour and the street is bumper-to-bumper with cars, but he satisfies himself (erroneously) that his actions can't be espied; leans gently forward (as if tying a shoe), straightens up, and begins walking steadily across the parking lot. He looks neither right, nor left.

The only difference?....The other man's grocery bag is gone, yet he snores on. It was a case of theft by taking in a homeless-on-homeless crime.

I'd love to see that police report.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Healthy Fear

If you come from an extremely large family known for being generally "not quite right" as I do; you'll understand what I mean when I say you tend to cultivate a lifestyle of mute acceptance of the weird and unusual.

I was headed North on 400 the other day and as I idly noticed that I had just blown by my exit, I started thinking - I wonder if any of the run-of-the-mill pet peeves our family shares are actually mild phobias? By the time I'd gotten off, and back ON, the interstate headed South I had come to a conclusion. In a word: YES.

For starters, now I'm afraid of missing exits. I've done it so often in the last year or so that I have begun trying to trick myself into exiting on time by always choosing the "exit only" lane as early as humanly possible. If you see that "exit only" sign you better get out of the way. I'm 6,800lbs of unwashed steel hurtling your way like a four-wheel-drive comet and I do my own brake work.

I dredged up a list of typical phobias the other day and started mulling them over, so lets play a fun game: here are a few of my favorite phobias - read them and see which apply to you. My responses are in bold.

Amychophobia- Fear of scratches or being scratched. Nothing worse than that burning scratch feeling. Especially being scratched on an exposed screw. I found that out last night when the door fell on me.

Ankylophobia- Fear of immobility of a joint. I jammed my finger once and I thought it wasn't ever going to fix. Of course, now I can make it "pop" anytime I want, which is a huge bonus and even a potential interviewing skill if you play it right. But really, who wants a finger stuck straight up? Its probably an advantage if you're the idiot in the stretch Tahoe in front of me at 10th and Piedmont, other than that: not good.

Apeirophobia- Fear of infinity. Yes. Absolutely. Lets not talk about it.

Arachibutyrophobia- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. I actually have this recurring thought that it would be really miserable if you got that bell-clapper thing at the back of your throat somehow stuck in peanut butter. Eh? See, it bothers you too.

Atomosophobia- Fear of atomic explosions. Hiroshima? I haven't forgotten about that one. How could I? My grandmother mentioned it every time I saw her for 20 years.

Aulophobia- Fear of flutes. Actually more a fear of flutists really, but sure, all those silvery buttons and that weird reed you slobber all over? Count me out.

Aviophobia or Aviatophobia- Fear of flying. 650mph in something the size of 6 school buses supposedly floating along on "wings" 10 miles above the earth? Well, I ain't seen 'em flap yet, and buddy - don't lets forget it was built by the lowest bidder.

Bolshephobia- Fear of Bolsheviks. I don't know, but they always seem to be really upset. And they also seem to want to carry pitchforks quite alot. Emotionally unstable + pitchfork = X. Solve for X.

Bogyphobia- Fear of bogeys or the bogeyman. I wasn't afraid of them until somebody actually put this down, which makes me wonder if there are other people worried about bogeymen - they must exist. So, now I'm worried.

Caligynephobia- Fear of beautiful women. Ah, yes. They occasionally breathe fire - I've seen it.

Chemophobia- Fear of chemicals or working with chemicals. Nah, but I SHOULD be.

Cholerophobia- Fear of anger or the fear of cholera. I mean - I don't want to find a nice bag of cholera in my stocking at Christmas, you know?

Chorophobia- Fear of dancing. Yeah, ok. Sometimes.

Coulrophobia- Fear of clowns. Who isn't? The bogeyman (who is apparently real now) lives in clowns.

Cyberphobia- Fear of computers or working on a computer. Tell me about it.

Cyclophobia- Fear of bicycles. Ever wipe out at the bottom of that big hill? Want to do it again? Me neither.

Cypridophobia or Cypriphobia or Cyprianophobia or Cyprinophobia - Fear of prostitutes or venereal disease. Yes, and yes. I have sort of a "life rule" about this one.

Defecaloesiophobia- Fear of painful bowel movements. Talk to my buddy Josh Youssef about his last plane flight from London to Nice.

Dentophobia- Fear of dentists. "Hey! Yeah! Cram a rubber bite block into the back of my mouth and start drilling into a live nerve while I'm still awake. That sounds good. Let me pay you. No, really - I want to. Take hundreds of dollars of my money, then when I come back next week, drop a $1,500 gold crown down my throat and tell me to come back when I 'find it.'"

Dutchphobia- Fear of the Dutch. Yeah, I don't know. People who live in houses with round roofs on top of big dams? You know what else lives in round-topped houses on dams? Beavers. Sorry Little Drummer Boy, but I'm not super keen on 40lb rodents either.

I hear the Dutch are like water rodents - muskrat people or something. I'm not certain that I'm not afraid of muskrats too.

And wooden shoes? Seriously? Thats what you came up with in 2,000 years? Wooden shoes? Alright, well - you can strap those bad boys on and clog right on back home.

Dysmorphophobia- Fear of deformity. My right ear is significantly lower than my left. I have to keep an eye on the haircutter lady or she'll line me up on the lobes, then when you look me dead in the eye my face seems to be melting. So, yes.

Ecclesiophobia- Fear of church. 6 years in a baptist church choir will do that to you. I'm sorry, but those choir "robes?" - call it what you want Dr. Condra, but thats a dress.

Electrophobia- Fear of electricity. Ever tried to strip a live wire with your teeth? All my breakers are clearly marked now.

Eleutherophobia- Fear of freedom. What would I do if I didn't have to come here everyday?

Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers. 4yrs of youth leadership. Orthodontia and outdoor urination - thats what I remember.

Epistaxiophobia- Fear of nosebleeds. Ever happen to you when you're trying to give a speech to a crowd? No? How do you feel about nosebleeds now that you're worried about it?

Equinophobia- Fear of horses. I have a friend who says he's afraid of anything that produces feces bigger than his head. Puts it in perspective, eh?

Francophobia- Fear of France or French culture. (Gallophobia, Galiophobia). Yes, fortunately I speak French so I at least know what they're saying about Americans in Paris. You wouldn't like it.

Gamophobia- Fear of marriage. That big white dress reminds me an awful lot of a ghost....the ghost of your FREEDOM.

Gephyrophobia or Gephydrophobia or Gephysrophobia- Fear of crossing bridges. Did you see "A Bridge Too Far?" The Germans blew up tons of bridges. You never know when some German might want to blow up the one you're on. See below.

Germanophobia- Fear of Germany or German culture. Why do they hate bridges so much?

Gerascophobia- Fear of growing old. Yes, but I don't need to put my ear to the tracks to hear that train coming. Its headed my way and picking up speed.

Gymnophobia- Fear of nudity. I saw Kathy Bates naked in "About Schmidt" and I think that about did me in on naked people.

Gynephobia or Gynophobia- Fear of women. I'm afraid of anything that beats me every time.

Hadephobia- Fear of hell. Yeah. Sure. It bothers me. I'm bothered by hell.

Hellenologophobia- Fear of Greek terms or complex scientific terminology. Normally if somebody is telling you complex scientific terminology they're explaining something you didn't want to know about part of your body you didn't realize you had.

Helminthophobia- Fear of being infested with worms. Yup.

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia- Fear of long words. The irony that this is probably the longest word in the english language is not lost on me.

Hygrophobia- Fear of liquids, dampness, or moisture. See my basement blog.

Hylephobia- Fear of materialism or the fear of epilepsy. I'm not sure how materialism and epilepsy manage to get encapsulated into the same word, but that sounds terrible.

Isopterophobia- Fear of termites, insects that eat wood. Again, the curse of homeownership is that you lie awake at night listening carefully for the sound of a tiny meal going on somewhere in your house.

Leprophobia or Lepraphobia- Fear of leprosy. I will readily admit to fear of any disease that makes parts fall off you.

Lockiophobia- Fear of childbirth. Ah. Yes.

Luiphobia- Fear of lues, syphillis. Absolutely. Although I have no idea what "lues" are I know that it must be something nearly as bad as syphilis, so I'm definitely afraid of it.

Lutraphobia- Fear of otters. The problem with otters is they're not really cat-like, nor are they dog-like. They're "other" and thats a problem because I imagine when confronted with an otter - you're not quite sure what to do. Do I look it in the eye? Whistle? Throw a stick and holler? Back slowly away and throw all your foodstuffs into a ravine? Roast a marshmallow? Who knows? Nobody ever sees an otter.

Musophobia or Muriphobia- Fear of mice. Long hairless tail. Need I say more?

Myxophobia- Fear of slime. (Blennophobia). Uh huh.
Panophobia or Pantophobia- Fear of everything. Nice of them to wrap it all up in a bow for you, isn't it?
"What do you have??"

Papaphobia- Fear of the Pope. Men in skirts with funny hats are scary. Thats all there is to it.
Pediculophobia- Fear of lice. Uh huh.
Pteronophobia- Fear of being tickled by feathers. Uh huh.
Russophobia- Fear of Russians. Uh huh.
Taeniophobia or Teniophobia- Fear of tapeworms. Uh huh.

Taurophobia- Fear of bulls. I'm scared of anything that weighs 2,000lbs, has a terrible temper, pointy weapons, and doesn't care if you die.

Testophobia- Fear of taking tests. Uh huh.

Toxiphobia or Toxophobia or Toxicophobia- Fear of poison or of being accidently poisoned. Uh huh.

Trichinophobia- Fear of trichinosis. Uh huh.

Tyrannophobia- Fear of tyrants. Or choir teachers. Its the same thing.

Walloonphobia- Fear of the Walloons. Oh man. Theres something out there im supposed to be afraid of and I can't even identify it.

Xanthophobia- Fear of the color yellow or the word yellow. AAAH!

Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat. This one nearly ruined my life. I have a tiny problem with rats, a serious problem with moles (born BLIND?? how is that normal?), and an overactive imagination. A "GREAT MOLE RAT"??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I'm certainly not ever going in the basement again.

Looks like I need some professional help. Unfortunately, I'm afraid of psychiatrists; thats latrophobia, in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Effective Retort

Over the weekend I posted (on Facebook) a picture of Daniel Slocumb reclining in a bamboo chair at the beach in a dirty white v-neck shirt. He has his arms crossed and the way the picture was framed up it looks like he's in a trailer park. Naturally, I made a comment on the picture sparking a line of discussion something along these lines:

This is a difficult family photo to explain.

Yes, the fact that it is just so beautimous and, might I add, awesome - has left you dumbfounded and speechless.

This is the sort of picture that will resurface during your trial in 2039.

I am pretty sure you mean YOUR trial...false allegations against an unwitting genius boy whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time will fall back to hurt you - not me…I'd blame the toadfish you caught yesterday if I were you.

That wasn't a toadfish - I already told you: it was an Amazonian warrior woman in disguise. She tried to kill me with a 7ft spear.

Regardless of that, you better start running or hope, and I do mean hope, that the Dude Ranch does finally float away because I can hear the police sirens all the way from Jeffersonville Road. They're coming for YOU.

You're cruising for a smack-bottom.

With you in handcuffs…I doubt it.

The only thing thats going to be handcuffed is your face to my rump. Thats whats going to be handcuffed, DANIEL. Face handcuffs - write that down.

Don't make me set your whole world on fire, Sally.

The cops are monitoring you, you know...they just read your threats and I heard that they were bringing not only a straight jacket, but also a "Hannibal Lecter" mask and a set of grillz so that you cannot speak unless they want you to.

Oh yeah? The cops are monitoring you through a homing beacon crammed into your....Well, you know….….Shoe.

What they dont know is that I kicked you so hard I lost my shoe in your...toolbox…..and yes I am walking around with only one shoe on….quite uncomfortable.

You're going to have a hard time talking around my size 11. Thats all I know.

Seeing as how one of my size tens is incommunicado, I will have to resort to the only thing that is more powerful: Toby, our Teacup Poodle….Watch your ankles.

Nuh unh!!!!

Which just goes to show you: "Nuh Unhhh!!" is the most effective retort ever devised by man.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like a Pork Rind

I was enjoying a bag of tasty, flavorful pork rinds this afternoon during a quick break when it occurred to me that I should share some of that tasty pork goodness with my friends. Accordingly, I wandered down the hall to see if my good friend and associate, Betty, was interested in sharing my bag of deep fried pork fat.

I was rebuffed with great prejudice, but at one point during her rude commentary on the evils of swine - she let slip a crucial piece of information: Courtney G. (Gertrude) Swaim, HR Manager, loves pork rinds. I know my good friend Courtney to be blonde, thin, and under 30; so I can only assume that ALL thin, blonde, women under 30 love pork rinds.

Now, I know what you're wondering: "How can I get my lovely paramour to join me in the brotherhood of the pork cracklin' snack?" After a great deal of research I found a website (http://www.blogger.com/www.imitationpickles.org/rinds) dedicated to the pork rind which suggests some helpful tips on how you can get the blonde, thin, under 30 object of your affection to appreciate pork rinds as much as you do, see below:

What can I do to create the perfect Pork Rind experience for the girl I love?

The first thing that you have to do is prepare ahead of time so that you are not fumbling around when she is ready to experience the joy and beauty of Pork Rinds. I recommend cutting open a bag of Microwaveable Pork Rinds before hand, and pouring the unburst contents into a champagne glass. Have a microwave that you can watch the contents through, and put a single pork rind in it. With her at your side you should turn the microwave on for about a minute and a half, and watch together. The Pork Rind will grow before your eyes. Remove it from the microwave when it has grown to its fullest extent, and give it to her to eat while it is still hot and rubbery. After that take several more Pre-Pork Rinds and make a heart out of them. Put them in the microwave for a longer period of time (this will depend on your microwave), and you can watch the heart grow, and writhe as your love for each other also does. If this girl is truly special you may want to put a ring on an unexpanded Pork Rind, and cook it before hand so that you can honor her with a truly special and memorable Pork Rind Experience.

Naturally some people are embarassed of their pork rind habit - afraid to snack on fried pig offal in front of their respected friends and coworkers. Ridiculous, I know. However, pork rinds are not nearly as unhealthy as they seem. In fact the website mentioned above dealt with this question as succinctly as anyone might wish:

Aren't Pork Rinds unhealthy?

This is a great lie spread by the same people who try to make you believe that UFOs aren't stealing all of the Earth's butter. But we know the truth. Pork Rinds are perfectly healthy, and a great number of people die of heart attacks when they are thirty. However, among the eaters of Microwaveable Pork Rinds which have sixty percent less fat than fried pork rinds (it says so right on the bag) the chances of heart attack are greatly reduced. The majority of these people do not die of a heart attack until they are 32, or as late as 35.

Fortunately each bag of pork rinds comes with a brief Last Will and Testament in blank for your use. You have only to sign your ready-made will and snack away - your earthly possessions will rest easy in the capable hands of Rinds, Inc. in the event of your untimely demise.

So snack on! And enjoy your pork rinds in good health.

An Aggressive Brushing

The Sandy Springs Reporter's "Police Blotter" column recently reported the following:

"A man called the police and said that he was in fear of his life, of his wife, because she 'aggressively brushed up to him.' He said as the day went on, things progressively got worse to the point that she was "snatching things away from him." The officer recorded the complaint and then gave the man a brochure for 'Man Camp'."


If I had to stop and call the police everytime a woman snatched something away from me I wouldn't ever get all the way from HBO to the Outdoors Channel. Anyway, I can't help but think how nice it would be to have a wife who wants to "aggressively brush up" to me. I mean - don't throw me in the briar patch, you know?

It’s a sad commentary on our time when a man can't stand up to some good, old-fashioned, "aggressive brushing." Has postmodern man devolved into a pudgy weakling strapped to a luxurious armchair of defeat and complacency; whining because the expensive Sub-Zero refridgerator keeps his cheap American beer too cold for his sugar-weakend teeth and delicate stomach?

Our harried combatant has sat out a few rounds too many and needs to get his head back in the game. He doesn't need "Man Camp"; he needs a mouth guard and a sparring helmet.

So, cinch up that chin strap and brace yourself for an aggressive brushing, Bob - you can do it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

You Guinea Pig

Based on my earlier comments about Splenda I decided to do a little further research and find out just exactly what sort of long-term impact I could expect this little molecule of chlorinated goodness to have on my body. I'll give you a hint: its not good news.

I managed to locate a solid article on the internet by Dr. Marcelle Pick that didn't give me a comfortable, happy sort of feeling about my artifical sweetener of choice. See below:

So, is Splenda safe? The truth is we just don’t know yet. There are no long-term studies of the side effects of Splenda in humans. The manufacturer’s own short-term studies showed that sucralose caused shrunken thymus glands and enlarged livers and kidneys in rodents. But in this case, the FDA decided that because these studies weren’t based on human test animals, they were not conclusive. Of course, there are countless examples of foods and drugs that have proved dangerous to humans that were first found to be dangerous to laboratory rats, and then again, countless others that have not. So the reality is that we are the guinea pigs for Splenda.

Observational evidence shows that there are side effects of Splenda, including skin rashes/flushing, panic-like agitation, dizziness and numbness, diarrhea, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and stomach pain. These show up at one end of the spectrum — in the people who have an allergy or sensitivity to the sucralose molecule. But no one can say to what degree consuming Splenda affects the rest of us.

Maybe instead of "Splenda" they should call it "Instant Rash" "Colonic Implosion", or "Liver No More."

Apparently Splenda consumption has the same sort of symptoms you might expect from garden-variety STDs. "Bladder issues" sounds a bit ominous; sort of like "pumping blood", "complications from surgery", "or the doctors aren't sure...." I don't know what a "bladder issue" is exactly, but I bet if you've had one you know it.

So, my bladder and I have decided hold off on Splenda - just for awhile - to see if any of you guys die first.

Manna Combo with Fries

I had a dream last night which, in itself, is surprising because I rarely ever have dreams - or at least I rarely ever remember them. Last night was different; most likely due to an unfortunate combination of grapefruit juice and pepperoni pizza coupled with a Breyer's Carbsmart icecream bar loaded with Splenda - a substance that, if exposed to sunlight, has the potential to unmake the world.

It wasn't exactly a nightmare, but it wasn't fluffy clouds and harp strumming either. It was something in-between: it was Chick-fil-a.

For some reason I went to sleep, woke up dressed in Chick-fil-a attire, and headed out the door for my first day of work. I felt very worried because I didn't know how I would make my mortgage payment at $6 an hour, but it seemed reasonable that I would be headed there for work. Now, the connection between Christians and Chick-fil-a notwithstanding; I love some tasty Chick-fil-a - I won't lie to you. My non-Christian friends often refer to it as "Jesus Chicken", but they know all that biscuity goodness surrounding a hockey puck of superheated chicken meat is just what one needs at 4AM on a wintry Saturday morning.

I won't make the obvious reference to "the desert", "Manna" and "Quail" from God, but I will point out that if you want to get a brief taste of life as an Isrealite: go stand in your sandbox at noon on July 4th and eat a chicken biscuit. That's all I'm saying.

So, in my dream I was looking forward to kicking off Monday with some quarter-sized potato shreds and a nice deep-fried biscuit.

When I got there the manager turned out to be my long-time compatriot, mentor, sometime turkey poacher, and friend, Mark Stephens, apparently fresh off another career change at 55. I absentmindedly thought that Chick-fil-a Managership was an odd choice for a licensed home inspector, but knowing Mark it seemed plausible enough, so I took it in stride.

My job was to take bags of Chick-fil-a to patrons after they had placed their orders. During the lunch rush Mark's method of handling the bags was to write a customer name on each one; which would have been fine if he had written their actual names down; but he didn't did he? Nope. Instead he made up "funny" names based on the physical characteristics of the customers and I had to go shout them out in the crowded restaurant.

Hollering "Great Big Fatty!!!" out across a fast food restaurant at 12:05PM does not win you friends.

Needless to say: Mark blamed the entire thing on me when Truett Cathy showed up which, of course, he did.

All that to tell you this: last night I got fired from my dream job at Chick-fil-a.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Special Challenges

You want to hear something funny? I noticed this comment on the "Homeschooling Alumni" website:

"I have finally embraced my identity as a home school graduate, along with all of the special challenges and opportunities that background has created. I was encouraged just to know that I have a community of fellow alumni..."

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part is this: it wasn't until just now that I realized I had special challenges.

Once the terrible truth sunk in I immediately began to investigate the challenges of dealing with special needs persons such as myself in order to determine how best to advise each of you to treat me from here on out. I found an excellent text on a related topic at About.com, so I took the liberty of editing it for our purposes.

What can be more frustrating than harsh realities are subtle realities for homeschoolers and ex-homeschoolers. Living as an ex-homeschooler is difficult but can sting even more when people encountered are:



Impatient people try to rush ex-homeschoolers through life. A man who was behind me in the grocery line one day tried to unload my cart for me. The gesture would have been welcome if it had been rooted in kindness, but it was obvious I was too homeschooled for him in this fast-paced world we live in.

Inconsiderate people can be found using handicapped bathroom stalls and parking spots, facilities specifically designated for people with disabilities and homeschoolers. Inconsiderate people do not hold doors open, a simple action that can make things much easier for a homeschooler in hoop skirts or petticoats on her way to harpsichord lessons.

Rude and insensitive people are often found staring at homeschoolers during school hours. They seem to not like what they see, or imagine themselves in the role of the little homeschooler. It creates an uncomfortable situation unless you either ignore the person who is staring or scream until they leave.

Demanding people and those who lack understanding about the realities of your homeschooled life can also be provoking. A friend of mine had a surgical procedure which restricted her ability to milk a cow for a period of time. My friend's mother called to tell her she needed to go milk that big 'ol cow before it kicked over a lantern or something, disregarding the restrictions that were given to my friend. She had to tell her mother she couldn't help her. Needless to say: Chicago burned - all because of a homeschooler.

Pessimistic people can annoy and be hurtful. Pessimistic people focus on the negative aspects of homeschooling instead of trying to build up, encourage, and praise the accomplishments of homeschooleys. Pessimistic or negative people don't want to learn about the realities of pretending not to be a homeschooler. They have preconceived ideas and often treat little homeschoolitos as if they are faking or lazy. Even worse, negative people sometimes treat homeschoolers as if they have no abilities at all - even when they demonstrate excellence in life-critical skills such as chess and spelling.

Unhelpful people are yet another category of people who can annoy and frustrate homeschooled people. For able-bodied people, most tasks are effortless. The same task for a homeschooler is perhaps an impossibility. Changing lightbulbs or air conditioner filters, scrubbing showers, getting a large load of groceries - it's just part of daily living. Who does it for the homeschooled person, since they don't have electricity or cars?

What you can control, whether you are able-bodied or homeschooled is: yourself. All humans face challenges, it's just that puny homeschoolers face different challenges. You will not rid the world of impatient, rude, insensitive people, but you can control how you react to them.

Impatient people cause you to be more patient. Insensitive people cause you to be more sensitive. Negative people cause you to react with positivity.

For each negative person you encounter, you have many more positive encounters. Surround yourself with people, things, and experiences which make you feel good and do good. Do you deserve less than that (even as a nerdy homeschooler)?

In summary if you are impatient, rude, insensitive, inconsiderate, pessimistic, or unhelpful to me in any way - you can stop that anytime. Go on and give it up.

After all, I have special challenges.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Greetings from the Beach. Let me give you a brief taste of our normal June vacation week at Pawleys.

Uncle Robert (out of the blue):
Babies learn to crawl in the first minute of life. You shouldn't wrap them all up so tight right away in them what do you call 'em - "swaddling clothes." Never learn to walk right.
After all - Jesus didnt wear swaddling clothes

Uncle William:
Ah. Yes He did. The Bible says so. Read it.

Uncle Robert:
No it didn't. You're reading that Mormon thing.
That mormon thing is all about Joseph Smith. Not Jesus.
He passed Jesus in the desert and waved "heyyy!" And that was it. Everything else was all "Joseph Smith" this-and-that.
Anyway, it didn't matter with Jesus. He could go "POOF" and know how to walk.

Uncle William:

Uncle Robert:
Jesus rode a Harley.

Uncle William:
Jesus did NOT ride a Harley! You've lost your mind.

Uncle Robert:
How do you know? You don't know nothing about what he did from 12 to 33. Maybe not a Harley; but definitely something cool.
Anyway, He threw all them gamblers out of the temple when he was 18. That’s between 12 and 33.

Uncle William:
That was when he was grown.

Uncle Robert:
Well. Babies still learn to crawl in the first minute.

Uncle William:
Most girls don't want tthat nasty dirty baby put on 'em without being cleaned up. That takes more than a minute.

Uncle Robert:
Well. Maybe it was 15 minutes. They have 15 minutes to crawl to the bosom.

Who said "bosom?" I heard "bosom." We don't say "bosom."

Well. What about Uncle John? He's a "female doctor" you know.

He can say "bosom."

Uncle Robert:
Well, babies born in water know how to swim.

Collective groan....

Screening the Sun

The interesting thing about sunscreen is that its not exactly a "screen" for the sun, you know? I mean: lots of it still gets through the screen so it ain't much of a screen. If I sold a bug screen that worked this bad I'd be out of business in 2 days.

The fun part starts when sunscreen fails and everybody near enough to see the rosy glow beaming off your scalded hide immediately wants to help:

Oh well - you should have reapplied.
Did you get in the water? I bet you got in the water.
You know if you get in the water you have to reapply.
What number did you use? 6?
6 isn't enough to keep you from getting burned. You should know that. You're 27 years old.
And then to make it worse you got in the water, didn't you?
I can tell you did. Your hair is all wet. You got in the water.
You know its not really 'waterproof'. Its your fault.
You know you shouldn't do that - get burned like that. It'll give you cancer.

Everybody is so quick to defend sunscreen, but c'mon. If you're wearing sunscreen there's a 90% chance you're on the water somewhere. Waterproof should mean "GO ON JUMP IN! YOU'LL BE FINE!", but it doesn't. It means "OH MAN GET OUT OF THE WATER AND SPREAD SOME MORE OF THIS WHITE BUTTER ALL OVER YOU QUICK BEFORE YOU ROAST LIKE A HAIRY PORK LOIN."

And what do the numbers mean? EXACTLY? Eh? If it says "6" that, to me, means you can stay out 6 times as long with this marinade spread all over you than you could otherwise.... Apparently that is not the case.

Which brings me to my point: the back of the sunscreen bottle should do away with all the warnings and ingredients and stuff. Shove those SPF numbers off on somebody who cares. All I want to see is a close-up of a man's back after he's spent 6hrs sitting in the sun with that particular sunscreen on it.

Then I'll know what I'm dealing with.

Vanilla Is the Loneliest Number

There comes a point in every man's life when he has to make an important decision. It could be anything: roll or squeeze the tube? Chocolate or vanilla? 10w-30 or -40? High test or low? Mid-grade? Cream cheese icing? Pound cake or yellow? Convertible or hardtop?

You never can tell what'll come of it. The tiniest of decisions may have huge ramifications. You could miss meeting your mate over something as simple as choosing the wrong icing. Think about it. There you are; both picking your way to the cake through a crowd of wedding-goers. Your future mate approaches from the North, you - from the South. You circle once and sidestep - passing just out of range of several conversation grenades lobbed in your direction by crazy aunt Mattie. "Heyyyy Aunt Mattie can I get you some cake?" Brilliant - she'll grow gray waiting on that delivery.

As you near the table Rich Uncle John leans over to tie his shoe and over his back you see it: gritty white icing with that nasty red rasberry jelly stuff between layers. Bleechhh. If I wanted jelly I'd make some toast.

But who is that lovely brunette reaching for a slice?

Who cares.

You peel off and head for the bar and she marries your cousin based on the strength of his "I can dislocate my shoulder" party trick.

You die lonely.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Need-to-Know Basis

Just a few minutes ago one of the admins in our office swung by to inform me that she intended to be "out of the office" for six weeks beginning Thursday. I immediately thought to myself; "this can only be one of two things: pregnancy or surgery." Either way it involves a hospital.

All this talk of babies and pregnancy set me thinking: the Bible mentions somewhere that children are a "gift from God." I don't doubt it; but I'd have to want a gift pretty dang bad to be willing to check into a hospital and have a needle stuck in my spine to get it. You know what I mean? My only real issue with the Bible is that I think God tends to gloss over the details a bit in his descriptions. Like with babies - sure, they're a gift - but so is a fruitcake. Details.

Remember that story in the Bible where God made the sun stand still for an entire day so that the Isrealites could put the hammer down on the unfortunate Hamelekites or whoever? The Bible simply says: "and then the sun stood still and the Isrealites slew them all."

HOLY S#$#$@#$&&TTTRRR!!! THE SUN STOOD STILL??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I mean capitalize it or something. C'mon.

I'm sure after that unfortunate run-in the Hamelekites attitude was "hey, thanks. how about not helping out next time, eh?" You know in their historical literature that sun-stood-still stuff came out in bold double-underline.

Anyway, my admin friend was generally non-specific about the nature of what turned out to be a scheduled surgery (not a pregnancy). She mentioned the technical name of her procedure, but all I caught was "-ectomy" on the end; so I let it alone. My experience indicates that if they're slicing something off that you can do without - its generally not something normal like an elbow. I guess I find that I'm better off, in general, not knowing the details.

Now that I think about it - maybe God has the right idea.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Philistines on the Back Nine

In the last few years I've noticed a general trend away from use of the term "Indian" in reference to the indigenous peoples of the North American continent. It seems that they, on the whole, prefer "Native American." Sure: I'll buy that. Despite Columbus' best intentions we're still a long way from India.

In my experience its tough to admit you took a wrong turn after a 4-month voyage with nothing but flour-water to eat, so I'm sure it took some convincing before he admitted we weren't "India." It’s a good thing he didn't run ashore on Buford Highway or he might have stuck to his guns. I'm just saying: there's no sense in propogating the confusion.

I also notice some degree of resentment over our wholesale borrowing of Native American tribal terminology and traditions: "low man on the totem pole", "Seminoles", "Braves", and of course "Indians" to name a few of our misappropriations.

I don't blame them a bit for some irritation at our blatant theft of "Seminoles". If you screamed my native heritage at me in a drunken slur over and over again on television; I'd get tired of it too. Of course, now we've reduced it to "Noles!!!" which is even worse (although much easier to scream). I imagine a "Nole" is something like a furry, red, ground-dwelling hobbit in a headdress.

I would think "low man on the totem pole" would really be more of a private joke at our expense though. Representational effigy at the very bottom of a carved-up tree with your feet buried in the dirt can't be an ideal position in Native American cultural tradition. Its probably something really terrible. You're just a cubicle-dwelling office grunt, but you describe yourself as a man locked in the body of a cedar-trunk carved beaver for all eternity? You're right: that job sounds terrible.

So, as far as lingo goes I guess I'm with the Native Americans; but it isn't our use of indigineous peoples' names for our sports teams that’s the biggest problem - it’s that we single primarily THEM out for that dubious honor.

I say we pick and choose from more global national and political groups throughout history for our sports teams. What about the Turks? Nazis? How about the Hezbollah? Philistines? Zulus? Catholics?

Would you watch the Zulus take on the Sunnis in a grudge match skins game at Pebble Beach? I know I would.

Wouldn't you love to see the Philistines win the World Series in game 4 - live? No? Why not? 2000 years is a long losing streak. Why should the Philistines always have to lose?

You racist.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

CranApple Anyone?

The thing about The Airline is that they don’t seem to care much about you or the status of your delicious MinuteMaid Cranberry beverage.

You can complain, but lets face it: nobody's really listening. When you talk to an attendant you're actually not talking to The Airline (believe it or not); you're talking to a 30yr old mother of two who can't believe there is an adult in front of her who really wants to complain about cranberry juice 30,000 feet over New Mexico. She has a point. You'd think a less-than one-to-one ratio of people to parachutes would be a more pressing concern but no - its cranberry juice.

Even if you were somehow talking to The Airline- should you really expect to engage in a rational conversation with an entity concerned primarily with one number (gross profit) anyway? As long as you're quiet - you're profitable. The moment you open your mouth you become a cost center. Someone in charge, somewhere, knows that…and he doesn't care. He's probably drinking the delicious Cranberry beverage that you should have gotten from the attendant.

Instead, you got a CranAPPLE beverage which reminds you of the watered-down apple juice the Sunday morning nursery workers tried to pawn off on your underdeveloped 2yr-old palate as the real deal. When you're two you spend a great deal of time differentiating between Mott's and lesser brands, and buddy - the nose knows. A 1982-vintage Mott's (glass bottle) with its gentle, fruity, bouquet and undertones of butterscotch and oak gently swirled in your sippy cup bears harsh contrast to the musty, half-fermented, off-brand decanted by institutions everywhere.

Plus, you don't want to be reminded of preschool because it reminds you of Jennifer Schrumm who called your picture "Scribble Scrabble", stale saltines, tiny chairs, and those little overall-shorts that make your knees all cold.

The airline attendant seems confused when you try to explain; and she keeps asking you if "Jennifer would like some saltines?"; vaguely indicating the sleeping woman to your right.

CranApple isn't so bad.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Importance of Signaling

I wake up in the morning most days with a general sense of curiousity about what sort of adventure I might run into. Typically: none, but that’s the thing about adventure - you can't nail it down to a regular pattern or there wouldn't be much to look forward to, now would there? So you always just have to wonder about it a tiny bit - not enough to be genuinely disappointed when nothing of consequence happens; just enough to keep your wits about you in the event your adventure requires the application of some form of skill. You may or may not possess this skill.

My experience with deeply memorable adventures indicates that, more often than not, this skill deserts you at an inopportune time.*

Most of the time I go to work and sit down, then when I get ready to leave work I stand back up and go home. My window for adventure is roughly 24-43 minutes in length on an average day and encompasses the time I spend walking to and/or from the truck and driving to and/or from work. Quite regularly: there is no adventure. Oftentimes there is an adventure and it kicks in when I stand up from my desk, realize my right leg has betrayed me by going to sleep whilst I labored, and I crash into the stack of papers on my desk; upsetting my coffee cup into my water cup into my telephone while I fall backwards across the arms of my chair - the chair that rolls.

That happens sometimes. But not today.

Today I dressed myself (harder than you might think), and set sail for work. I ate a stick of beef jerky somewhere between Mt. Paran Road and Northside Drive. It was really tasty, but that’s not part of the adventure.

Halfway down Courtland I swung hard into the right lane (without signaling) once I passed the usual intersection construction; and accelerated through the next yellow light. I noticed, idly, that a pidgeon (we'll call him "Thornton") on the sidewalk a half-block ahead was suspiciously eyeballing an approaching pedestrian. I glanced at my rearview and began to swing into the left lane (again, no signal). I looked back up just in time to see Thornton's tailfeathers at roughly eye-level in extreme closeup. He was merging into my lane and shifting gears, but not fast enough I'm afraid. Had he taken Harris or Baker (or even Dobbs if traffic is bad) he would have been fine; but he didn't.

Through the ensuing explosion of feathers, windshield wipers, and general chaos I managed to catch one last glimpse of him in the rearview as he climbed for the sun; five remaining tail feathers fanned briefly in that ubiquitous hand signal we commuters know so well.

Today Thornton the pidgeon made his last illegal turn and I can't help but think: if he had only signaled, he might have made it.

*If the "The Goonies" really happened (a possibility I occasionally mull over) and Mozart and I were in that cave with Mouth, Mikey, and Data trying to bang out a tune on the skull piano - I'd look at Mozart expectantly and he'd be like "what? me?" and he'd have probably hit a high note and killed us all. Thats what can happen when your skill deserts you. Don't let it be you.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Happy Birthday!

I occasionally engage in creating my very own birthday cards for good friends and relatives. For some reason I've gotten what I'd characterize as "semi-negative feedback" on a few of them. See below.

Feeling flabby? Wrinkled? Past your prime? Smelling vaguely of mothballs and lavendar lotion? WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! THATS BECAUSE YOURE SO MUCH OLDER THAN ME!!!! OH MAN!!!!

I know this is a special day for you, so I asked all your friends what I should get you for your birthday; and let me tell you - they had some great ideas. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to pay for liposuction, dental veneers, and an MRI this week - so instead I made you this little card.


The Adventurous Mr. Young

So, it turns out: in a letter identifying me as "Mr. Young"; Atlanta's Watershed Services (based on a cursory examination of my water meter) maintained their original stance that the dudes of the DudeRanch did indeed use 40,000+ gallons of water in the month of August.

Not to be thwarted, I immediately began a new series of inquiries into the innerworkings of DudeRanch plumbing and the inhabitants' water usage.

What I found was: nothing. But friends, that water is out there somewhere.

Somewhere in the deepest recessess of my [small brick ranch] house I have hidden away 40,000 gallons of water - perhaps in a little-used closet or possibly in the dark corner of that over-the-stove cabinet with all the coozies and solo cups. My water reserves could be in the attic keeping my turkey feathers company; I really couldn't say.

One day in a not-so-distant future you may well drive past the Duderanch only to find that it is simply not there - it has floated away in the night: set sail to parts unknown on its private sea of expensive water reserves. You may receive Crimmus cards from Duderanch locations far and wide bearing exotic stamps and smelling of frankincense, myrrh, and warthog. You may hear tales of the Duderanch and its 4 inhabitants that are strange and wonderful to behold. Then, you may well ask yourself - how can they afford to sail that house around the world??

But friends - don't worry: we paid for it in advance. $502.47 to be exact.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Naked and Angry

I saw a newborn today which is rare for me. You don't typically see great roving herds of newborns out toddling the halls of your average consulting firm on a normal business day, so I won't lie to you - it threw me off. Now, I'm generally not opposed to the concept of children in the workplace (small hands are great for cleaning coffee mugs); but I draw the line at newborns - mostly just because it has been my experience that newborns spend a great deal of time naked and angry. And friends, there is no room for naked and angry in the workplace.

In my opinion naked and angry is no way to go through life, so it’s a nice bonus that most of us essentially grow through that stage fairly quickly (hopefully never to return). Growing up is tough though. Its hard to go from not walking to walking; not talking to talking…to talking too much….Its even a little tough to go from not driving to driving. When I was that age I went from driving to not driving fairly regularly as well - mostly depending on the good humor of my parents and the fickle mechanical state of my 1978 Bronco (may it rattle in peace).

Don't get me wrong - I know of fairly popular people who have forged successful careers either naked, or angry; but never a combination of the two. Naked and angry is a tough sell.

I can think of many dissimilar things that go marvellously well together - marshmallows coolwhup and pistachios, steak and potatoes, syringes and butts, my cousin Martin and button-up shirts, wood and fire, chocolate and icecream; but I'm betting you won't see Ben & Jerry roll out "Naked and Angry" in their 2008 summer lineup.

Take your average cabdriver for instance: angry? You bet. Do you get in his cab? Sure. So he's an angry cabbie - big deal. Compulsively jiggle the door handle en route, then stiff him on the tip as payback if he's rude.

Now, on the other hand - do you get in with an angry, naked cabbie? Not a chance. That’s one cab you let cruise right on by. There is just too much that can happen at 60mph that you might need clothes for to warrant putting yourself at the mercy of an angry naked man. Naked and angry just don't mix.

Typically the transition away from angry nakedness starts with solid foods - you move on from there and before you know it; you're standing in the driveway as your Dad pulls up in a brand-new 1973 Gremlin that he bought you because he heard your girlfriend say she thought it was "cute." Its your first car.

You're not naked (you've come a long way), but you're definitely angry…at least that’s how my uncle Buster tells it.

So maybe the issue is - the act of removing the outer clothing cancels out anger. Its tough to be angry and naked at the same time - you feel a tad too exposed to muster up a really fierce look - (the key to a proper rampage). So, the answer to anger management might be just 6 buttons and a zipper away, because I think you'd feel better if you took your clothes off.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Death by Goat

Contrary to popular belief I DID NOT win the $370 million lottery on Tuesday night. I know I said I was going to, but I was wrong. Were you ever wrong? It happened to me.

Instead, I actually lost the lottery. Most people don't realize this, but if you don't play the lottery at all - you can't lose it; but plop down your $1 and you've got a 217,497,189,219 in 217,497,189,220 chance of losing. To put it mildly: chances are good.

I did a little research and it turns out - I have infinitely higher chances of dying in......say..... an animal-drawn vehicle than I have of hitting the lotto. I forked over $1 to get in on the Big Game with my coworkers, but do I avoid goat carts? Certainly not. I'd take a quick spin in your average goat cart any day. If the mood were to strike I might even be willing to pay as much as $2 for that priviledge - thereby increasing my chances of untimely death by 1 in 37,110 according to the somewhat pessimistic statisticians of the National Safety Counsel.

Which brings me to my point: if it costs me $2 to die in a goat cart - I'm definitely going to come back and haunt that goat. Thats going to be one unhappy goat when I'm done with him.

I hope that $2 was worth it, Devil Goat.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Your Odds Aren't Good

Interestingly enough: while doing some research for my Goat Cart project (above) I noticed that the National Safety Counsel has an entire litany of published statistics on the likelihood of the average man falling prey to various elaborate modes of death. Now, this strikes me as an odd thing for a "Safety Counsel" to publish; I mean, do they want us to be safe, or do they want us to die in interesting ways? I can't tell.

Regardless, the NSC published their statistics in a paper ironically titled "Odds of Dying" which is dominated by a variety of interesting statistics and figures with average man's percentage "chance of death" for a given activity arranged in a long column to the right.

Not to upset the goat cart, but friends; the column adds up to 100%.

I scrolled down to the very bottom hoping to find that someone at NSC had sense of humor enough to remark that, though your chances of falling down a chimny naked while shaving in the dark are slim; ultimately - you're toast.

The stiffs at the NSC failed to drive my point home, but just to clarify: your chances of death are, in my opinion - excellent.

However, until the great golden goat cart pulls up for me; I'd like to see the NSC crank out some new statistics like:

10. garage vs. carport deaths (I have a carport, do you?)
9. parakeet-related deaths
8. dryer lint: weapon, or fuzz for hamsters?
7. dying in the front yard vs. the back
6. sword-related deaths
5. nailguns and the workplace
4. haircut-related infections
3. sunburn deaths (I've come close)
2. death from sheer terror in a movie theater

and of course:

1. dying naked

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Yes Ma'am.

Sometime in the fall of last year I gently inquired of Meredith whether she would feel comfortable shooting a shotgun at a clay target. It is, after all, an intimidating prospect to the uninitiated.

A look of intense concentration immediately came over her face; "I want to shoot something so its feathers explode," she replied.

Fair enough.

So, after beating my good friend TOMMY STATHAM soundly at sporting clays and demonstrating a great deal of proficiency with her new 20ga shotgun, Meredith took to the quail woods. Gun in hand she patiently received instruction on proper quail hunting etiquette, loaded her midget gun, and advanced on the little pointer that had been arrested mid-bound and frozen in place at the scent of nearby quail.

As Meredith advanced, the bird burst from beneath her feet. In one swift motion she mounted her gun like a pro and tracked the quail's flight. Her tiny shotgun boomed and friends: feathers exploded.

She actually beat the dog to the downed bird and ran it back to us crowing the whole while, "I GOT IT I GOT IT!!" When she got to me she said "I KNOW - LETS GET IT MOUNTED!!"

So, that is how it came to be that shortly after noon on a cold Sunday in February; Mr. Jerry Mosely, Taxidermist Extraordinaire, opened his shop door and received in a very serious Meredith Q., Marketing Guru, dead bird in hand.

Totally unfazed by the proliferation of huge African game adorning Jerry's hallowed walls, Meredith reached into her Gucci purse, proudly lifted out a (very) dead bobwhite quail, and simply said: "Jerry, I want you to stuff this dead bird and put it on my wall."

Yes Ma'am.

Monday, January 22, 2007

9-Hour Ducks

When deer season finally draws to a wintry close I always take a few days off to rest. I recline with the purest intention of merely biding my time until the first spring turkey hunt rings in a new hunting season. I have grown tired from my travels and weary from long hours spent clambering around in the cold, dark woods......That lasts about one weekend.

By the second week in January I find myself frantically casting about for some form of legal shooting activity. Unfortunately, there ain't a whole lot going on in January as far as hunting goes except for ducks and quail. I don't have quail dogs; nor have I married well enough to have a plantation. That leaves me with ducks - and a longtime standing invitation to hunt them with my longtime friend Tripp Maddux in North Carolina.

Initially the idea of hunting ducks seems a little bit silly I guess. After all - one can only legally shoot 2 of them; and Kinston, NC (9hrs drive) is an awful long way to go to kill two fishy-tasting water birds that never really did anything to provoke me to start with. And with steel shotgun shells coming in at $1 a piece - its an expensive venture to boot. That’s assuming you don't drown, fall out of the boat and get sucked under the prop, get shot, fall in, get lost, or find yourself abducted by swamp people.

Fortunately I was able to circumvent the distance issue by having George drive (both ways) while I slept. I avoided the expense issue by palming Tripp's shells into the tops of my waders when he wasn't looking.....My shotgun puffed out the sweet smell of free money all morning long.
We arrived in Greensboro at 11PM - just in time to meet the legendary Will Willis and Tripp Maddux, load up into Tripp's truck, take a quick tour of the house, and head to Kinston - a 2 1/2hr drive.

We spent the entire ride talking ourselves into a hunting frenzy, got in bed around 2:30AM, and were headed to the swamp by 5AM. Tripp and Will made their way downriver to the opposite side of swamp and Thomas, George, and I slipped through the woods into the flooded cedars. By dawn the whisper of thousands of wood duck wings was incredibly....absent. When it was legal shooting light and we hadn't spotted a single duck; Thomas began a mild panic punctuated with occasional curses directed at variables which included (but were not limited to): hot weather, no wind, lack of a duck call, lack of a goose call, poaching hunters, poor location choice, too early, maybe a tad late, overcast, not overcast enough, and (of course) Tripp and Will. I thought he had a point with the "lack of a duck call" bit, but Tripp told me later that he didn't know how to use one anyway. Thomas draws them in solely with the power of his mind.

In a happy change of circumstances we were flooded with ducks a short few minutes later and cheerfully banged away at them for the better part of an hour - ultimately collecting a mixed bag of wood ducks, mallards, mergansers, and teal (blue and green-winged). No one drowned.

Reid did got severely lost on his way home and ended up 2hrs away almost at the coast - but we found him.

It is a fortunate thing for Thomas that he can wield such power over waterfowl. He's going to have to concentrate a great deal to get a proper flight of geese over his apartment in Wilmington. I know that is where he'll be simply because: he can't go anywhere else.

Our haste at pulling out of the golf course parking lot to avoid the crowd of ill-tempered, cleat-wearing witnesses was hampered by an unfortunate "chunk-sha-lunk" sound from beneath Thomas's aging Tahoe. Each head bobbed forward in unison with the sudden shortage of momentum and Will whispered: "Thomas - your transmission just lost reverse." A short while - and safe distance - later, following a furious group-effort manpower reversal across the 1st teebox (spurred on by the sound of sirens in the distance), Will said, gently: "Thomas, you're car lost first and third gears too."

Hunting over for the weekend, we followed with a short nap, lunch, and two solid days of sporting clays shooting punctuated with breaks for delicious food of all kinds. There was an abortive attempt at hunting geese in the small pond of a local golf course Saturday afternoon, but we were ultimately forced to hang up our waders in order to avoid an instance of "calling the police" on the part of a tiny, irate, geriatric brandishing a 9-iron. Wizened, golf-ish features creaked into a spray-tanned grimace when she realized that, despite my best imitation; I was clearly not a lone section of cattail growing at random on the edge of the 14th fairway. The hunt was over. The proud "Kinston City Limits" sign we passed on our way in should have been our first indication to turn back but youth, fervor, and a golf pro with a hunting license got the best of us.

In addition to shells I also "borrowed" a gun from Tripp for the weekend ("Why?" you might ask. Did I lack a shotgun of my own? No. Was mine broken? Certainly not). I used Tripp's new shotgun simply because of Beau. My cousin Beau taught me that success isn't measured by how many animals you bag - its measured by how many other peoples' equipment you use to do it.

In all: I give duck hunting an A+ which should rise immediately to an A++ once I spend a few thousand dollars on new equipment specifically for duck hunting.

Quack Quack.

Weekend Quotes:
"Want to go to Nag's Head?" You're halfway there!!!" ~ Will Willis commenting on the profundity of Reid's wrong turn.

"Look how slim he looks in those waders." ~ Thomas Benton on swamp fashion.