Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I'm not a sage, but I play one on the Internet
Not blogging right now because I'm busy at work getting things ready for me to go on vacation, and busy at home getting ready to go on vacation, and because in my head, I'm sitting in a hundred year old cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan, listening to the surf through open windows and shooting the shit with friends who've been friends so long they might as well be family, and ignoring the book on my lap.

Not blogging right now because we still haven't quite closed the deal on the old house, but it's down to a matter of days, and it's as done as it could be without the papers being signed, but still, I worry. Why worry? No reason at all. It's a good little house, and I'm glad to be passing it on so it can help somebody else build wealth and get on with moving up a little higher into the middle class, but everybody's crazy about something, and my biggest crazy bit is crazy about money and freaks out whenever there's a lot of it changing hands.

If I wanted to be totally accurate in the way I talk about it, I'd say that worries run through my mind. I mean, it's not like I can stop them. Have you ever tried to stop your thoughts? To borrow the imagery of Shunryu Suzuki, it's like using your hands to quell ripples on a pond. Result? More ripples. So, worry happens, and worry is unpleasant, so I spend too much time distracting myself with work and Harry Potter (just a couple of weeks) and problem solving and what have you so I don't have to listen to the mouse chatter of mouse thoughts nibbling in the corner of my mind.

And then, in the dark, I listen to the house breathing, and watch the shadowplay of moon and trees, and feel the warmth of the woman who shares my bed, and I know that nothing we think is real (from the Latin "res" for "thing") will last, that our world is as constant as a sand dune that ebbs and flows through wind and water, which is to say not constant at all, and it is the things we can't see, like love, that shape us and bear us up, and somewhere in all of that I find my own retreat, where the untouchable intangibles are the walls of my cottage, and the little recurring worries of life are nothing, really, less than a whisper, easily drowned out by the constant western wind, and the surf it sends before.
If Rube Goldberg were a meth-head...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

This is hilarious, after a fashion. During the Civil War, a group of Confederate soldiers were passing through by Kansas City, and a group of six deciding to go a-whoring in the city. They met with an ill end there, most likely after refusing to pay. Their commander used them as an object lesson to the rest of his men that the whores of Kansas City are not to be trifled with, something I think we can all agree on.

Fast forward 150 years. Barrett's Unfortunates, as they've come to be called, are favorite characters to play among the reenactor crowd, and there is much discussion as to where they ended up buried. Meanwhile, Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes has been promising a new downtown stadium. Why? Who the hell knows? But they announce the plans and start clearing the site. What should they uncover but six 150 year old graves?

Because of the laws governing archeological sites, the land reverts to State control, meaning governor Blunt gets to decide what happens, and governor Blunt has lent his ear to some Confederate Heritage whackjob who thinks these six are heroes who died defending the Confederate Way of Life, which apparently includes not paying for services rendered. His exact words in the article are: "They died defending an ideal that some of us do our best to live up to every day." Really? Does his wife know the ideals he's trying to live up to?

How can anyone take these people seriously?

Update: Once again, I got punked. Apparently, I'll believe anything.

Actually, this is kind of irritating. The Pitch has always been relatively dependable when it comes to accuracy. It's easy to verify a story when it's national and gets reported in a dozen papers. But something that happens in a small Missouri town (or sometimes even a big Missouri city) might only show up in one paper. Now I know that if that paper is the Pitch, it might be bullshit.

There's an obvious lesson to be learned here about stories that seem too ridiculous to be true. But with the people currently running the country, is anything too ridiculous to be true?

Monday, June 20, 2005

When I was a kid, and my parents bought a new house, not long after they moved in, they had our pastor out to bless the house. We don't have a pastor, and I'm not sure that sort of thing is all that necessary, but the last week and change have certainly been in the neighborhood.

The first night we spent in the new house, Billie and Emily were in town to help, and we toasted Home and Friendship. The weekend before that, my parents were here to help us paint the rooms formerly darkened by paneling. The morning after the big move, my brother and nephew were passing through, and got here just in time for brunch, and the breaking in of the stove. My heart swelled to see four people gathered around the stove, flipping pancakes, frying bacon, and stirring breakfast potatoes. And finally, this week, Christie's parents were in town to visit the new baby (my niece, if you're just tuning in), and get in a little R&R.

R&R must stand for something a little different in their dictionary than in yours and mine, though, because they wore the young folks out. But now we have a cleaner house, a fridge full of leftovers, and significantly fewer trees than we did when they arrived. Don't go thinking that we scalped the lot, though. There are at least 40 trees remaining. The idea, if you're curious, was to remove the weed trees and little ones so that the grass would grow in, and the remaining trees could get bigger. In a startling development, there were no injuries, in spite of the variety of implement of destruction involved, not to mention mass quantities of brush, big freaking logs, and that sort of thing. Well, okay, the back window did get busted out of Jeff's truck, and Christie's dad dropped a tree on me. But the window's easily replaced, and it was a fairly small tree. The most dangerous part was Christie's mom who almost fell over from laughing.

So, priest or no priest, I consider the new house most properly blessed and christened. Thanks, everybody.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Quote of the day: "I think you're more likely to try alligator if you've eaten squirrel."

- Christie
Sorry for the prolonged radio silence. Work has been, well, work, the house is a maze of boxes, and people keep coming in to town to help, which is a joy, but certainly cuts into the blogging time. Keep checking back, though. Someday soon I expect to pop out a killer post about fear, and mind, and what it's like wrestling with yourself over your dreams.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Now blogging from the new house. Too tired, to say anything productive or even coherent, but moved in nonetheless. I'd do more unpacking, but all these brown cardboard boxes make such nice end tables...

Friday, June 10, 2005

It's a good news/bad news thing. On the good side, the movers came this morning and moved all the big and heavy stuff, thus saving our friendships with all the folks who are coming to help us move the rest. Unfortunately, I was hoping that at least one of the cats would get freaked out and run off, never to be seen again. Alas, no.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

This is kind of trippy. Boondocks is cracking wise about spyware and "shoot the duck" ads, and the page it's served up on is filled with, you guessed it, "shoot the duck" ads.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

FYI, contact may be sporadic for the next couple of days, what with moving, setting up the home network, etc. In fact, the phone company managed to disconnect the phone at the old house just fine, but hasn't quite gotten around to hooking up the new one. So cell phones may be the way to go if you need to hear my voice (and know me in real life).

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mike's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Follow the Toll House recipe, but with the following alterations:
  • Don't preheat the oven before you start preparing the ingredients. There'll be time later.
  • Instead of 3/4 cup white sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar, use 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar.
  • Instead of 1/2 teaspoons of salt, use a level 1/4 teaspoon of fine grain table salt and a slightly heaping 1/2 teaspoon measure of course grained sea salt. The fine grain salt takes care of the chemistry side of things, and seasons the dough, while the larger grains stay partially intact and give you the occasional zing of saltiness that makes your tongue sit up pretty and ask for one more bite, please.
  • For the nuts, use Missouri Northern Pecans (pieces, not halves). Don't bother chopping them. Let the mixer crush them up into the dough.
  • After adding the chocolate chips, split the dough into two parts, wrap it in plastic wrap (I like to press it out to about 1 inch thickness), and put it in the fridge to cool. While that's happening is a good time to preheat the oven. Cooling the dough keeps it from spreading in the oven, giving you a thicker, chunkier cookie. Good stuff.
  • Chop the cooled dough up into roughly 1.5 inch squares to bake. Bake at 375 for 9 minutes.
Note: The fancy-pants pecans are, strictly speaking, an option. But I find most grocery store pecans just a tiny bit bitter, even when baked, while these are sweet and buttery. They're also grown just across the border from La Cygne, KS, where I learned how pecans are supposed to taste by eating the ones that grew on the pecan tree in my grandparents' front yard. Chopped dried cranberries are a festive and tasty addition, but I actually prefer my cookies old-fashioned and unadulterated.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

To Do Today and Tomorrow

For work: Print screen shots for Monday meeting, pull small data set for project X (already done!), pull huge data set for Project W, try to figure out Project Y, and weave in loose ends from Project Z.

For home: Call home warranty people about plumbing stuff and air conditioner, call roofer, sweep up plaster dust and fill the gap between the drywall and the ceiling with painter's caulk, all so we can be ready to prime tomorrow night and paint Saturday.

For family: Pack black suit and toiletries, drive to Kansas City tonight. Tomorrow, drive another hour to La Cygne, where I'll help carry my uncle those last few yards. Rest in peace, Billy Joe. You were a good man.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

It is not a good sign when you try to call the phone company's 1-800 line, and it's busy.