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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Nature of Relief

I had a visitor recently that was uninvited and, in fact, unwelcome. Fear walked with me for a while, dancing gracefully next to me as I stumbled through a few days. That Fear, he’s a dick like that, a Fred Astaire wannabe in a Dia de Muertos masque. It’s a mocking kind of grace.

I’m happy to say that he has departed, leaving my spirit able to complete its own arabesque and jete’. The lump that Mom found was benign, a simple cyst. Granted, they had to squash her bosom into an 1/8th inch flapjack to find that out, but I’m given to understand she found the pain infuriating but ultimately worth it.

And so we can exclude cancer from the laundry list of hurdles she runs daily. The lupus invites many symptoms to dwell in Babalu-aye’s parlor, but I swooned to hear that cancer had taken our collective invitation to fuck right off. The release of that fear came as a true relief.

The news came close to my first trip back to the lake after losing a friend. It was hard looking at his boat, knowing that his laugh would not issue from it again. I made certain that the first order of business upon arrival was to drink the shot in his honor, the one he always invited people over for. The one I can’t have with him, but will always have for him. The second was to my mother and her lump of mere lumpishness, though anyone telling her that is getting kicked in the jimmy. She doesn’t like me drinking.

We spoke about him over dinner, how the cancer and the loss had, like a telescope to a distant celestial object, magnified what was already a good man into a fucking inspiration. We shared some tears, but we shared a greater amount of laughter by far. I’m reminded again to be the man I want to be, not the one dwelling on “I can’t” and “what if”. I’m reminded to make tomorrow better than today.

After all, we don’t have infinite tomorrows. There's one tomorrow out there that will be our last, and until then, we should try to make each today the best day of our lives. It's not as difficult as it may seem, since each new today holds the memory and experience of every best day we've ever had.


I was feeling poetic, I suppose. I hope that today is your best. And that tomorrow is better.

Monday, June 27, 2011

5 Things I Think, June 27th

1) I think that we may need to invest in a sunscreen company. Being the parent of a little redheaded Little Danger, aka the Ginga Ninja, is difficult during a trip to the lake. The words SLATHER, SPF ONE MILLION, and GOOP were liberally used. He was grumpy about the lifejacket until we actually got in the water. Then he found his happybabyness. Sadly, we forgot the SD card for the camera, so the picture that should appear just after this paragraph was never taken. But trust me, it was the cutest thing EVER.

2) I think that having access to a houseboat on the lake is a tremendous luxury for which I am grateful. There was much unwinding and chillaxification. Which, by the way, is now a word. I have decreed it so.

3) I think it's headspinning how fast the mania can return after intense chillaxification (that's right, used it again. Enjoy.) Wifefish and I both ended up stressed to the gills last night as life reminded us that it still likes to fuck with us. There was broken glass involved, and a repair bill. And today's to do list involves calls to both animal control and the repair company for the microwave that has still not been repaired 21 days later, despite paying the service fee already. Suffice to say, Dangerboy is going on a rampage this week. (Perfectly legal rampage, though.)

4) I think it's insane how much that little man eats. Little Danger consumed nearly as many calories as either Wifefish or I every day this weekend. And he's still a skinny-butt. Scientific conclusion? Growing burns calories. As does being cute. It's the only answer.

"He looks yummy. Can you run him by the fire and make him steak?"
"No, son, he's not steak. Not even a cow, actually."
"Fine, I'll pout then."*

5) I think I'm really tired of the TSA. Remember when I bitched about them earlier? Well, now they continue to rack up the negative publicity. Their VIPR (seriously? Are you guys working for Cobra Commander? Who does your PR, Destro?) teams are seen at train stations, bus stations, and even highway rest areas now. They are making little old ladies take off their Depends. My work schedule is going to have me traveling again soon, and I have to be honest...I'm not looking forward to it. If a donation page comes up here, you'll know it's for my bail.

Have a great Monday, and try to chillaxificate!

*This is a purely fictional conversation. I think he actually said "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaabf."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Dangerboy Guide to Not Being a Dumbass for Dummies

There are some truly astounding people out there, doing some truly outrageous things. Be it hubris, habit, or a case of just plain dumb, the news is filled with examples of what not to do. Let’s chat just a little bit about how to avoid a Red Foreman labeling that will follow you for all your days.

7) That’s not a hot chick.

Unless you’ve met her in real life, that girl telling you how wonderful you look in your profile pic is almost 100% never a hot chick, even when she sends you pictures. Ladies, the same applies for hot dudes. And for the love of all that is holy, when she says she just needs $10,000 to travel from Groovesnackistan to your doorstep before you can get married in the eyes of God and forever dance the horizontal lambada, just say NO. When she says that, she’s actually a 30 year old Nigerian dude in an internet cafĂ© halfway across the world. Seriously, THIS is "Naomihot4u" or "Hotchick2fuxor":

See more at, where they love scamming scammers.

6) No, really…that’s NOT a hot chick.

And furthermore, no matter how much you think you can trust this little hottie that’s flirting you up on facebook, do NOT ask her for help killing your wife. Because you’re a dumbass, and that IS your wife. Seriously, it happened. Here's the link.

5) You cannot trust her/him with your naked bits.

Let Weiner’s weiner be a lesson to all. You may think that you are sending pictures of your nekkid nethers to a trustworthy person, but nothing is private on the internet. Those electrons go hither and yon, the ones and zeros ready to be gazed upon by all and sundry, and those digits reveal your most secret birthmarks.

This item counts double if you’re famous. Your naked bits are then worth money, and gang, that’s a temptation too terrible to turn down. That mysterious person on the other end of a purely digital conversation owes you two things…jack and shit. And neither will keep your junk in any kind of trunk at all. Unless you have a throbbing, naked desire to virtually streak down main street, keep the pictures off the web.

4) Lying makes it worse.

Countless episodes of COPS support the lesson my dad grilled into me at the tender age of 7. If you lie, it ain’t going to end well. Unless you are a hypnotist, the lie is going to be revealed soon enough. A cop can smell your bullshit from about a week away; they spend 12 hours a day getting lied to. 15 if they’re parents. 16 if they have more than 1 kid, and 19 if they married that stripper after that one night in Vegas.

Also, as a sub-topic of this guide item, running leads to traumatic injury. If you just have a burning desire to be tased, bro, or if you long to have a German Shepherd's biteprint permanently tattooed on your fleeing fartmaker, then go right ahead and run from the po-po. It's a great way to have a knee implanted in your kidney while they're playing Rosco and yelling "Cuff him and stuff him!"

3) Your computer is evidence.

If you take it in mind to do something illegal and heinous, do it on a completely separate PC. Use your normal computer to visit only wholesome websites, downloading pictures of cute bunnies and participating in discussion groups about making better S’mores.

For all that crazy donkey porn, bank heist planning, and emu death squad correspondence, use a separate computer with a completely different online profile through an IP tunneling service using only a flash hard drive, clearing your browser history every 35 seconds. Lock that bastard up and if you hear sirens within 3 blocks, BURN THE FUCKING THING INTO ASH. If you failed to take all of these steps and ended up playing Bubba’s bitch in the Bighouse, then you only got what was coming to you for being a Dumbass.

2) You really CAN stop drinking.

I have seen it too many times…people merrily drinking along, and then suddenly they reach the end of their night in the classic porcelain prayer position, yelling catcalls at Ralph in his Buick. How hard is it to pace yourself? I don’t understand how we can expect any sympathy for a hangover after guzzling 12 Cuervo shots with a straight gin chaser. (Not that I have ever done that. I don’t like gin.)


If you desire oblivion that much, come to my basement, and give me a bottle of scotch. Consider it the price of admission. I have a large rubber mallet with which I can bonk you between the eyes and give you the same experience as above, with less dehydration. Sip. Bonk. Nighty-night. For a $5 bar donation, I’ll even fire the cannon in the morning to wake you up. I’m a goddamn nurturing soul, bitches.

1) Nothing on that cellphone is that important.

I’m driving on the interstate, a pleasant 5 miles over the speed limit. Suddenly, someone in front of me slows to about 45 mph. In the days of yore, this meant there was a hazard in the road. Now? There's a fair certitude that it means they are texting or talking on the phone. Congratulations, asshat, you have just fucked up traffic and nearly died so that you could LOL or ROFL to somebody’s facetweet post.

I can spot them with ease…men who suddenly slow down. Women who suddenly weave from lane to lane. Truckers who suddenly creep over the shoulder. Invariably, as I pass, their gaze is split between the road and the screen of their phone, or they're gesticulating wildly as if the person on the other end of the phone is actually looking at them in a fucking Dick Tracy watch-video-phone.

I cannot convey with mere words the white hot hate this kindles deep within my chest cavity. I am not a violent man by nature, but this level of dangerous dumbassitude makes me long for vehicular weaponry a la Spyhunter, and I want to machine gun them to death before pulling into my semi truck mobile headquarters to sip a martini. Sadly, that sort of thing is frowned upon by the highway patrols of all 50 states, though I hear that in Texas you can still use the “he needed killin’” defense. PUT THE FUCKING PHONE DOWN PEOPLE.

OK, gang, you know the drill by now. If I made you laugh, SHARE IT! :)

Also, please keep sharing the project from the previous post, Surviving the Life. That has hit 3 continents now, and is still going. You people are effing ambassadors of awesome.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Surviving the Life

OK, gang, it’s time for me to put on my Good Samaritan hat. Which oddly enough looks quite a bit like a container of Jiffy Pop, after popping. But enough of that. I’m going to turn off the funny and give up this entry to something awesome.

I want to share a link with the world, because I think it can make a difference. I want to share a young artist’s work with you. This is a project by someone who is starting small, but could easily be convinced to go bigger. We can all agree that teen suicide is a worse problem than Paris Hilton’s fame, yeah? Well, it’s also the one of those two problems that we can actually do something about.

Whatever drives us to be so angst-ridden when we’re young, it’s often just an honest example of “hey, kid…I was there, and it’ll be OK” that can make a difference. I didn’t go so far as to court suicide, but it’s no exaggeration to say that high school was hell for me. I was bullied by every jock in that place, most of the cheerleaders, all of the smokers, and half the nerds. It was amazing to me at the time how that shit stopped almost cold once I got out of high school. I held on, and it damn well got better.

The artist I’m linking to wants to make a difference. She’s sharing stories of people who endured, who flirted with disaster but survived. She’s using a pretty cool photography concept to do it, (because she's a freaking photographer) which she’s turning into a book. Said book will be distributed in her community, making it available where it’s most needed. If this goes well, it may explode. In a good way, not like seagulls on alka-seltzer.

Kind of speaks for itself, really.

Personally, I’d like to see her expectations shattered. I’d love for this to be shared so often, by so many, that the project goes national…don’t want to donate? What about volunteering to distribute? What about volunteering as a model…did you flirt with disaster and overcome it? Will you help them keep on living?

Let’s turn this into a freaking movement. Maybe I’m just one voice, but if we add all of your voices, then those you share it with…this thing will happen in no time at all. Let’s help shine the light on those dirty little secrets that can cause so much havoc…let them know they’re not alone, and they don’t have to hide it. Gay, depressed, different, skinny, fat, brainy, disabled, Lions fan, what-the-hell-ever they feel haunted by…we who have been through it can share, let them know that it’s worth surviving. When it’s all said and done, there is no dirty secret…just a shared experience that is part of being human.

Please, CLICK HERE. Then share this far and wide.

Monday, June 20, 2011

5 Things I Think, June 20th

1) I think that was a pretty good first Father's Day. No foam fighting on this Sunday, but an Airsoft event in the rain. Not a bad time spent. Had a dinner of sushi take-out, and Little Danger got fish for the first time (though cooked). The Tilapia sent him into a fish frenzy, two-fisted face stuffing that inspired giggles all around. I was gifted the 3rd season of Deadwood on DVD, which I suppose will allow me to teach him to curse properly, in iambic pentameter.

2) I think I'm going to have to start pissing Little Danger off late at night to avoid things being pissed on. He's been crazy about sucking down whatever's in his sippy cup, water or milk, and asking for it frequently. I am a zombie today due to a 5 am wakeup to a crying child wet all over. He'd flooded the diaper past its ability to contain the deluge, and half of the crib had to be shut down to all sleeping traffic due to excessive wet. I didn't really achieve sleep again, and the sleep deprivation has left me as off-kilter as Sheen, without the trackmarks. Is it possible to OD on coffee?

3) I think the weather needs to start cooperating. We've started painting the non-stone portions of the house, but the rain keeps postponing the operation so that it crawls along in tiny increments. I finally know what if feels like to work on road construction...if we add orange barrels, our perpetual behind schedule experience would be complete. On the plus side, it's good for the garden.

"These snap peas are yummy." (Or as he said it, GAPF!!!)

4) I think it's going to be one hell of a season of "So You Think You Can Dance" (the rare reality show I actually like.) In the words of Nigel, they're beasts this year. Holy crap. Any of them could get a paid gig tomorrow. If you don't watch this show and you like the art of dance, you should rectify the not watching. Beasts.

5) I think I'm going to ask you all for a bit of a helping hand for a great project. It's much like the "It Gets Better" project, but geared toward a broader target, and meant to combat teen suicide. Here's the link to the funding site, please look at it, and if you agree, then share it. CLICK HERE. Send it far and wide. This is another one of those chances to leave the world a little better than we found it. Let's do that, OK? (I'll be doing a post with more details on this soon, but I wanted to get this out quicker than slower.)

Stay awesome, everybody. Do something great today.
Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Nature of Pride

I’ve been doing theatre productions for umpty-many years now. I’ve won awards, I’ve been applauded. It might surprise you that one of my favorite shows ever was a high school show.

Wifefish has directed shows on and off for our local high school for several years. They have no stage of their own, and so used our community theatre for a time. I, of course, helped out in any way I could. I often ran the technical side of her shows, taking care of lights and sound, and any other “honeydo” that she asked for.

When Wifefish was replaced by the school (a mistake for certain), I kept working the community theatre side of it, continuing to do tech. I loved the work, loved the kids. Quite a few of them, years later, are good friends. In the nature of theatre kids everywhere, some of them were outcasts…and I made sure to treat each one of them like the rock star they could be.

It came to pass that one year the students selected a very ambitious project indeed, mounting a production of the musical Aida. I looked forward to lighting it, knowing it would be a good challenge. I thought they’d bit off a bit more than maybe they could chew, but I knew they’d do a damn fine job of it anyway…there were some true stars in that class. (At least two of them by my last count are now acting professionally.)

They did me a great honor, those kids. They asked me if I would join them onstage as the villainous Zoser. I demurred, wanting to let a student get the role. They twisted my arm like some medieval torture gang. I gave in, perhaps too easily.

I had an absolute blast with the kids. I learned the lines and music as quickly as I could, learned a djembe solo that is featured in one number to play in the pit, and pounded out a light plot in no time flat. I even built a walking stick with a dagger (made of latex and foam) shaped as an Eye of Horus…I was possibly more excited than any two of the kids put together.

I even learned choreography. Here’s a little insight into Dangerboy: I can unabashedly claim to be awesome at a great many things. Dance is NOT one of these things. (I am also obligated by a promise to Wifefish to say that home improvement is an Achille’s whole freaking leg, too.) Choreography day was an absolute bitch, as we put together the intricate dance break Zoser leads in “Another Pyramid”, surrounded by his evil ministers.

During that choreo session I met one of my young ministers: a freshman who was, in a word, obnoxious. He cracked inappropriate jokes, had no focus, and was doing a good job at being annoying. I recognized a young man in need of attention and nurturing.

Each minister had a staff of their own, which at one point I thwacked with my Zoser stick (something Lady Gaga never wants to ride on). Down the line I went, four thwacks in a row, over and over as we rehearsed.

Well, at one point I missed. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. Squish. We had to take a short break when I accidentally nutted the aforementioned freshman. It was the shot heard round his world, and he went from tenor to soprano for a moment or two. Once he recovered, we got back to work.

As it happened, the show was great, for a high school production. I was proud of it, and proud of the kids.

That annoying little freshman did several more shows, maturing quickly and gaining one hell of a work ethic. Final dress of another show a couple years later caught him with either stomach flu or food poisoning, and he refused to go home, pushing through it. He ruined at least one wastebasket, but he kicked that show through the uprights.

Just recently, he announced that he had auditioned for a production of Aida. He landed the role of Zoser, and told all and sundry that it was a role once played by the guy who got him into acting. Psst…that’s me. I am beaming with pride, especially when he said “It all started with a nutshot.”

We forget sometimes that people think of us as a hero, or at least an influence. It gives us a great deal of value, the way we can inspire each other. We have an effect on everyone we meet, actually, even if it is miniscule.

We can raise others up, and if we’re doing it right, we can push them higher than we reach, letting them grasp the stuff of stars in their young hands. If we’re really doing it right, we show off that bootprint adjacent to our nose as a badge of honor.

Perhaps, though, we can help them on their journey without a shot to the balls.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guesting Again!

You can find me today in a special 3 way blog post at My Husband Ate All My Ice Cream, where I'm joined by The Onion for a collaborative post. It's that politics rant I did, and I'll be honest...I'm happy it's hitting a new audience. I was proud of that message...let's talk it out, not scream it out. Speaking of sure to scream for that weird Onion Dangerboy Ice Cream and drop on by.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Five Things I Think, 13 June

1) I think there's little as heartbreaking as a sick baby. The red and sad eyes, the lethargy, the wailing that can only be assuaged with children's knock-off brand pain reliever and fever reducer...and even then only staved off until their little immune systems figure it out and kick the invading virus in the metaphoric ass. There wasn't a lot of sleep in the Dangerhouse this weekend, and Friday night plans were wrecked for Wifefish.
That woman can be saintly at times, but I don't know that any Pope canonizes non-catholic women who use the word "fuck" that much. Those Popes are so damned judgmental. But they don't raise babies, so obviously they curse less. It's a vicious cycle.

2) I think that project paint our freaking house has kicked off to a good start. Saturday I went apeshit with a powerwasher, prepping the non-stone portions of the domicile for a new palette. Sunday I mostly hung out with Little Danger while Wifefish began transforming what was pink to a mossy-celery-greenish-taupe (her words) that is much more attractive. I am not allowed to paint, thanks to some mishaps with rollers in our early days. Suffice to say that I am far better at artistic painting than "even coverage". She does allow me to do trimwork at times, but I figure that I'm far better off spending Daddy time than trying to rescue my home decoration pride. I'm willing to let it go.

3) I think there's new fiction up at my fiction blog, continuing the story of Zarkov Barbossa. I really need not let so long go between posts over there. Sometimes that's easier said than done.

4) I think the Tony awards can both entertain and frustrate. I enjoy the whole thing, the pageantry and appreciation of live theatre. I love the presenters, the numbers from the shows that are lets me know which soundtracks I should be buying. I am annoyed that, without seeing any of the shows, I can usually predict what shows are going to win. This year was no different. Is it coincidental, or is there a "message" the wing wants to send each year? I really do think they push an agenda sometimes, instead of rewarding the most worthy.
But I still love live theatre. In fact, in a few weeks I'm auditioning for an absolute dream role. More on that later, though...don't want to jinx it.

5) I think I saw something that boggled my mind! There are several nests around the domicile right now...a robin on one side, a hummingbird! on the other, and a sparrow somewhere closeby.
Yesterday, I looked out the window and saw what I thought was the sparrow and its chick, chirping away at each other. The sparrow chirped, and foraged, teaching the chick how to do so. It dipped its head, grabbing some insect or another, and turned around, feeding the chick from its bill...and that's when the younger bird emerged from a bit of greenery, and I noticed the chick was twice its size.
One of the young robins had come down from its nest, thinking the parental chirping was its own dear momma. The sparrow took it under its wing for a while, something I'd never seen. Before I could get the camera outside, the robin had flapped its way back to its own nest, ready for its more appropriate worm diet. The sparrow returned to its own pint-sized progeny. In a house where adoption is held dear, it was a warm moment indeed.
I pointed out the robin nest to Little Danger, and he waved at it, giggling. I held him close, my own tiny sparrow in a dangerous world. Fortunately for him, we're not too keen on a worm diet, though.

Happy Monday, gang...and for those to whom it applies, a Happy Father's Day this week. I'm looking forward to my first.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Nature of Fear

I didn't really want to get serious around here so soon after the 100th, but life gets heavy on its own schedule. I'll bring some more funny soon, but for now I just want to reflect on something.

I find that I have few fears in life. I have stared down the barrel of a gun, twice in fact, and not flinched. But there are fears that remain: more abstract, but perhaps more universal.

I certainly fear hardship in relationships. I’ve lost friends over stupid shit before, and I fear those interactions gone awry. I fear loss of prosperity, even as I keep in mind that my worst case scenario is far better than most of the world’s best.

And right this moment, I’m gripped by a somewhat irrational fear. I had no idea that you could backslide out of the stages of grief…I have been at “acceptance” with this one for many years, thankful for each day. But now I’m fearful again.

Mom found a lump.

This is a woman who has been fighting Lupus for most of my life, and whipping its ass. She’s a testament to the power of stubborn. Her orneriness has served her where medical science couldn’t figure out what the hell to do next. We’ve been saying goodbye to each other since I was 14. I’ve known an end was coming, and what it would be.

My Dad works the rivers as a towboat captain, and it is not a prideful boast to say he is one of the absolute best at his trade. While I was growing up, he’d be on the boat for a month, and then home for a month. It was a rhythm that led Mom and I to lean on each other quite a bit, to build a bond that I’m truly thankful for.

This is the woman who pinned me down and braided my hair into little blond cornrows once, just because I said she couldn’t. This is the woman who is terrified of bridges. This is the woman who told me I could be anything in the world. This is the woman who had ticklefights with me. This is the woman who grounded me to my room on many occasions. This is the woman who helped with my homework, the one who sang “I Love You A Bushel and a Peck” while rocking me to sleep when I was tiny.

This is the woman who would share Reese’s peanut butter cups with me at 2 am while we discussed religion, morals, and who exactly I wanted to be. This is the woman who was a fantastic artist. This is the woman who has been a realtor, model, cleaning lady, nurses’ aid, salesman, den mother, and most importantly a Mom.

The last time I saw her, I had to hold most of Little Danger’s weight so she could hold him. She looked like a lich, all skeleton and willpower, no physical substance beyond the will to live. She has put some weight on since then, thankfully; she’s gained muscle mass that allows her to again cook for herself and handle what chores she decides to do with an oxygen tank in tow.

Now there’s a chance that some new player has entered the game, that this lump may be something sinister. I’ve just lost two friends to cancer. Maybe I’ve returned to the neighbourhood of fear and anger because I think this is a cosmic insult. Disease, Babalu-Aye, has tried to court her for so many years and been rebuked. Soundly. I doubt that I find any humor if he’s reached into his bag of tricks to introduce her to a new adversary. Maybe I feel like he should just wait.

There is, of course, a perfectly reasonable chance that said lump is benign. But fear is, of course, an impatient master. It calls a tune that you find entirely too easy to dance to. “It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it, Dick…I give it a 9.”

I suppose I’ll just sit here wrapped in this cloak of fear for a bit, while Babalu dances on his crutches and makes his choice. I know I prefer a benign lump of just normal lumpish lumpiness, but the universe tends not to give a crap about our preferences. I’ll hope that the outcome is good, dreading the call that bears the news. It is not an end I shrink from, but the looming unknown. Such is the nature of fear.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Well, this is a milestone that surprised me with its arrival. Today is the 100th blog post. I've clicked publish 100 times, and had something to say in at least 5 of those postings. :)

That's a big number.

I'm happy with a lot of the things that have happened here. It thrills me that you come to read these things, to laugh and think with me. I'm so glad to have found some awesome people to read...there are some great writers out there, some wonderful voices amongst the cacophony of the 'net that I love to listen to.

I'm also thrilled that I've kept at this...I have a long history of flash-in-the-pan projects that never reach fruition. I've relaxed into this, and I feel that I'll be around for a while. Hopefully I'll keep bringing the funny.

I'm proud of some of the encouragement I've received, there are some very good writers who've complimented me, and it is only natural to glow when a hero compliments you. I will try like hell to pay that forward.

Now it's time to look forward to the next 100. I am going to start holding forth a bit more. I intend to find a way to get a better layout. In the coming days, I will be putting up a new page that you can visit to see some of my favorite blogs...the sidebar over there would get way too full way too quick if I put them over there.

Celebrate with me, won't you? Have a sip of scotch, a tipple of tequila, a slug of soda, a measure of milk if you prefer. And let's toast together to our next 100. For me, that'll be 100 more posts. What will it be for you? Posts? Days without a cigarette? Consecutive times your significant other doesn't have to do laundry/open their car door/watch bad reality TV? Days that you look in the mirror and say "I like you!"?

Make a goal with me, 100 of something. The only "rule" is it has to be something significant. DO IT. And let's celebrate the centennial when you get there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Shocking Tale

I’ve mentioned before that I worked high voltage when I was in the Air Force. We kept the power on, and the airfield lights lit. Our shop was mixed: military and civilian, and the civilian employees were typically the lead on each truck we ran. We had some real characters, too.

Two Six was our short bucket truck, useful for line work, traffic light maintenance, and plenty more. Its other nickname was “the Popemobile”, because it was Carl’s regular truck. Carl was a very, very dedicated Christian. He tithed 15% to his church. When you rode on Two Six, the radio was tuned to the local praise music station all day long, and you kept your expletives to a minimum. He’d park the truck for a 15 minute break in the afternoon to read scripture. Devout.

26 looked a lot like this...only older, and a LOT more green.

Carl himself was soft-spoken, and had a very hard time speaking ill of anyone. He wouldn’t say “shit” if he had a mouthful of it. The other troops made fun of Carl from time to time, but I actually liked working with him. It was an unlikely combination, to be sure, but I liked being paired up with somebody who was so easygoing. Nothing rattled him. Well, nearly nothing.

There was a day that Carl and I worked a line on the west side of the base, a simple bit of maintenance for which we didn’t even have to shut the power off. We were just replacing one insulator on a pole. It was a cake job.

Crash course in high voltage: typical high lines on those wood poles run about 12,460 volts. Thick rubber gloves are proof against 60,000 volts, and the fiberglass arm of a bucket truck is good for 100,000. Theoretically, you’re perfectly safe “working hot”. You just have to avoid touching more than one line at once, or you run the risk of cooking like a freakish human marshmallow. That’s because those lines are out of phase, and bridging two of them makes a short circuit…infinite volts for a moment, also known as “boom”.

Also, it bears mentioning that there is still what’s called a static potential between you in the insulated bucket and the line you’re working on…it has no amperage, but it’s like shuffling your feet across the carpet and grabbing the doorknob…only with about 5000 times more oomph. The hair on your arms starts standing up about 2 feet away from the lines. Feel like an expert now? Good.

So, up we go in the bucket. All of our tools were ready, our gloves were on, hardhats perched on our brows. It was a fine, sunny day. Carl had bent the copper tie-wire (used to literally tie the lines to the insulators) in half over the edge of the bucket, so it would be handy.

As we neared the hot lines, I asked if we were going to use a line hose (thick rubber to protect against incidental contact). Carl looked thoughtful for a moment, then replied.

“No, I think we’ll be OK.”

“Fair enough, Carl. You’re the boss.”

He just grinned at me, and we got ready to work. The insulator was on the middle conductor, and he reached out for it carefully. Just as he was about to grab it, he gasped and jumped back, bouncing off the back of the bucket. The copper tie wire had pulled the static off the line with a mighty ZOT. He grabbed the front of his pants with two gloved hands, like a toddler who needs a potty break.

“Carl, are you OK?” I asked.

“Uh…uh…yeah, yeah, I’m alright. Just got a static shock.” Tears ran slowly out of both of his eyes.

“Where’d it get ya?”

“Uh. Uuhhhhhh…I’d rather not say.”

Needless to say, we used a line hose for the rest of the job.


I have to admit, I think the news stories of late inspired me to remember this story. I’ve also gone to Sonic for a hot dog recently…it seems like America has Weiners on the brain for some reason. Maybe it’s the summer weather?

Monday, June 6, 2011

5 Things I Think, June 6th

1) I think my poker skills are getting rusty. I used to play often, now just every now and then. And I haven't made the money in the last 4 tourneys I've played. Saturday night was another shameful defeat, though I did have fun, which is the ultimate goal, I suppose. Still, this is one of those activities that has left me in the field muttering through motionless lips the words "Oiiil caaan".

2) I think I need to write some more fiction. I slowed down on it quite a bit, though admittedly there was that whole "week in the woods" thing, where my hands danced over a djembe instead of a keyboard. I seem to have fallen into a time where I am simultaneously overly busy and getting nothing done, so I may as well create. It helps get the thoughts organized that seem to bounce off my mental walls like so many crazed badgers dipped in rubber.

3) I think it's time to start some wheels turning on two large projects. I'm running a haunted trail this fall, and I need to redesign some scenes to trim what didn't work all that well, and keep the stuff that made wet pants. The other item is the return of a very awesome thing, and it is time to start recruiting my dream team to run it. I am freeing myself of fear, I have learned many lessons during this hiatus I've taken, and will approach it with joy and I used to. I'm writing this not to announce it, but to be accountable to it.

4) I think that this week's fight session was a hell of a workout; it was hot as balls out there yesterday. My heart raced and I sweat profusely, but sadly I never really hit my stride. I couldn't maintain constant motion as usual, I kept having to slow down and anchor to catch breath and cool off. At times, my chest heaved so much I thought I was in a Danielle Steele novel. It was nice to be called a professional, dedication to being a Renaissance Man seems to be working out nicely, even if I did make that promise to myself some 20 years ago.

5) I think it shouldn't be this difficult to get a microwave fixed. I have a great thing called an American Homeshield Warranty which has been quite useful over the years. Sadly, they dispatched a Sears technician for the microwave that decided to fry itself. I have yet to see said technician, as they have rescheduled twice now. They are trying to send me a mythical repairman. I think they should hire less leprechauns and unicorns to work on microwaves. It goes without saying that I am displeased with them, and fortunately my service has been re-dispatched, after a week of Sear's bullshit, to a local repair shop. I'd bet $20 it goes smoothly from here. If not, there may be an application of a righteous junkpunt.

Happy Monday, gang, and STAY AWESOME!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Trip Down Nostalgia Street, vol 9

It’s time, gang, for another stroll down Nostalgia Lane. As Doc Brown sets the Delorean for 1987, we’ll be visiting a very young Dangerboy, having just achieved the teen years. There were a few arcade machines out at the time that could vacuum quarters out of my pockets like a deranged shopvac, and one of them was Rastan.

"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you

and hear the lamentations of their women! "

Rastan was an absolutely sweet side-scrolling hack and slash game featuring some challenging enemies and cool weapons upgrades. Big mace? Check. Battle Axe? Hell yeah. Flaming sword that fucking shoots fireballs??? Oh, hell to the yeah.

The barbarian main character, Rastan, was a blatant rip-off, or homage if you prefer, to Conan the Barbarian. Pixellated pecs and binary biceps flexed as flowing hair waved in the breeze. Had the likeness been any closer, there would have been a bonus maid-banging stage.

By “absolutely sweet”, I mean this bad boy was the definitive “smack it with a sword” game of the 80’s. It had good, strong design, with great graphics for its time and a very well done soundtrack.

If I close my eyes, I can still hear the music, including the frenzied accelerando that signaled a flock of bats coming to gang-rape you, (easily accounting for a third of your health) and the hollow echo of the death howl as the chimera fireballed you for the umpty-fifth time, or you fell into the implausibly deadly water and dissolved like a musclebound Wicked Witch of the West. That “deathcry” sound effect was often followed closely by the distinctive ka-clink-chunk of another dropping quarter.

Enemies were varied: from warriors to lizard men, mantis-men with throwing knives to chimeras, harpies to medusae. All competed to rip chunks out of your health bar, which featured an animated heart beating, complete with recorded pulse that accelerated to a frantic pace as you lost more of that precious health. That was a great innovation, and served to drive your own pulse to quicken.

Bloody Asswhipping: the Home Game.

One of the happiest days of youth was that day I found the port from arcade to Sega Master System. No more did I have to feed endless quarters into the machine at the mall, grinding through paper route earnings like Congress through a federal deficit. I was able to purchase the game and the power of the “press start to continue” option, replacing the quarter drop with an almost negligent thumbpress. Luxury. Addiction. Parental cries of “turn that thing off and go to bed dammit.”

The Master System version got a bit of a re-work, making water more watery and less insta-deathy, along with some other cosmetic changes. They kept the format of each level having 3 stages: outdoor, castle, boss. And some of those bosses were badasses, too…especially the big freakin’ dragon added for this version. (The first time I saw that dragon, I paused the game to let my rear end unclench.) The life bar heart was sadly trimmed, though, leaving the experience a bit lacking in “oh shit” factor, but still a potent hack n’ slash powerhouse.

Rastan was a game that I truly enjoyed, even if it took me forever to master. While playing it, I was no longer a scrawny, nerdy kid…I was a mighty barbarian cleaving my enemies in twain, their corpses littering the gutters of Nostalgia Street.

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