Stuff I remember

Socks and Other Lies

While I sit here self-medicating my latest infection of my semi-impacted wisdom tooth with bourbon, I cogitate upon my terrible predicament. More than a predicament. A problem. Possibly with a capital P. Maybe more than that. An Issue? What it amounts to is warfare.

Like most normal people, I wear socks. In my never-ending quest to never ever think about clothing, I have attempted to constrict my sock selection to a single type: the übersock. Gray toe, gray heel, and “HANES” written on the gray section of the toe. The goal is that no matter what two socks I grab from my drawer, it will always be a matching pair. Much to KrisDi’s chagrin, Hanes apparently makes these socks with both red and dark gray HANES text on the toe. I look on this as a good thing — the difference is acceptable. Necessary, quite likely. I think of it as the male and female of the sock world. Much like in human sexuality, only one in ten random pairs of übersocks is comprised of two socks of the same gender.

This is a lovely theory. However, in practice, inferior socks sneak into the population. Untersocks. Non-conformists. Rebels. Whether these untersocks are gifted to me by well-meaning friends and family, or necessitated by United Airlines’ consistent policy of luggage-losing, or are trans-dimensional illegal immigrants sneaking in through the dryer, they keep showing up. The solution is clear, of course: Attrition through aggressive enslavement.

Thus came about my policy of sock segregation. The untersocks are assigned the front line of the sock drawer; after all, they’re the most dispensable. Organizationally, this presents a problem, because the untersocks are characterized by their peculiarity and must, by definition, travel in matched pairs. Once they’re in front, they should be first socks selected for hazardous duties, and so become the first casualties of wear.

Again, in theory, consistent adherence to this policy should solve my problem. Once again, theory fails me. I think the untersocks may be on to my cunning plan — or maybe they just cannibalize the übersocks. Since the inception of this policy, no fewer than three pairs — PAIRS — of übersocks have expired, and not a single solitary untersock.

The next step is concentration drawers. However, I lack the real estate. I have no spare drawers into which I can confine the untersocks, and therefore must consider conquering or otherwise acquiring neighboring furniture…

Also, I may have to abolish theories. They’re obviously no good. From now on, I think I’ll skip that step and go straight to scientific fact.

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My dad likes to lie to children. It’s one of the things about him I love most. I was telling the story of some of my father’s stories today. Here are the ones I remember best:

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As you drive across this dam, you can see the weird little fish runs on the dry side. One day, we were driving across the dam when the fish runs were filled with water, with an eight-year-old passenger. He saw the fish runs and asked what they were. Dearest Father, ever knowledgeable, answered with absolute aplomb, “Those are the tracks they use for the Fish Olympics every four years — distance races, sprints, hurdles, even an obstacle course.”

Little kid’s jaw dropped…”Really?”

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We were in a waterpark in Florida, waiting in line for a water slide. Dear Father turned to the kid behind us to share his latest nugget of wisdom.

“You know, they have fish in these waterslides, and if you catch one and show it to the lifeguard at the bottom of the slide, you’ll get a free one-day pass to the park!”

Stranger kid looks up at him in mild horror and shaky disbelief.

“They can tell whether they’re really their fish by the bar codes they have printed on the sides of them. They’re called bar-acudas.”

Evidence of mild horror and shaky disbelief intensifies. Dad proceeds to advise the kid on exactly how to catch the bar-acudas: “If you go down the slide on your heels and fingertips with your fingers outspread like -so-, you’ll have a better chance of snagging one!”

I don’t think the kid completely bought it (props to the kid – it’s hard to disbelieve a respectable looking adult stranger), but they woman we had gone to the park with looked at Pa in the deepest amazement, breathing, “Really?”

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We went to the zoo in Minneapolis. As we leaned against a railing looking at the moose exhibit, some mother unwisely looked away from her child in the vicinity of my revered father.

“You know, Minneapolis is actually way too cold for a zoo. None of the animals would survive — that’s why they have these robots instead.”

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Another time, we visited Yellowstone. As we stood around waiting for Old Faithful (near the visitor center), Dad started a conversation with a kid near us. “You know, Old Faithful stopped erupting years and years ago. But the state wanted to keep tourism revenue up. You see that big building over there?” he said, gesturing toward the visitor center. “They built a humongous boiler under there and set it to go off at regular intervals. It also provides electricity for most of the state.”

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And, of course, the grandaddy of them all (Northwood hates this one)…

We went to the Wisconsin Dells. As you drive around, you’re likely to see these things. Little Northwood asked, “Dad, what are those things?”

“Well son, those are the Wisconsin Rat Traps. They’re so big because Wisconsin has such gigantic rats.”

“Nuh-uh!”

And an argument raged, along the lines of, “Are not!” “Are too!” for a fairly long time.

Then we went to dinner. This is where it gets shady. I went to the bathroom, and on my way back, I see Dad, suspiciously talking to our waitress in a darkened back room. I swear I saw money change hands.

Back at the table… “Go ahead, Northwood, ask the waitress what those things are.” Northwood proceeds to do so.

“Why, those are the Wisconsin Rat Traps! We have such huge rats around here,” declares our innocent-looking waitress. “We load them up with corn to lure the rats in…”

To this day (seriously, I brought it up to Dad today), Dad denies any bribery.

Posted by snaotheus, 7 comments

Blood and Bloody Ashes?

I remember Dad coming home from work, smelling like ammonia. I think that’s what it was. I don’t recall the smell specifically…just the acridness (acridity?) and strength of the odor, and its ability to pervade anything. That was way back in the day. He didn’t work a steady shift, sometimes nights, sometimes four-on-four-off or whatever it was…that was why we had dinner so early, so we could eat our last meal with Dad as he ate his first meal. For some reason (probably because it’s bill time), I also remembered back when I was in fourth or fifth grade, and my assignment was to write two letters or something like that. So I needed two envelopes and two stamps, which I got, but I put the stamps on the wrong corners of the envelopes (probably upside down on the bottom left), and I was so embarrassed and ashamed I threw them away rather than showing anyone, and told Dad I lost them, and he got unreasonably mad at me for losing two stamps. I wonder why.

Dad recently sent a pet project of his to me…there’s an old picture of my brothers and me sitting on the couch together (see here), and he made us re-pose for it over Christmas (see here). And here are the rest of the pics from 1989.

I thought I ought to write in here before it got completely bogged down by the books I’ve read, but it’s probably too late for that. So, I’ll section the books off at the bottom.

Anyway…before KrisDi moved, we cashed in our coins for an Amazon gift certificate, and it totaled out to $575.10. KrisDi had 284 quarters, 267 dimes, 145 nickels, and 502 pennies for $109.97. I had 676 quarters, 1916 dimes, 1186 nickels, and 4523 pennies, for $465.13. That’s a lot of god damn change. So of course we’ve been buying stuff with it. I don’t know if we’ve really made a dent yet.

Yeah, so there was a lot more than that going on, but Christ, I’ve been bogged down. I’ll post this for now, and update again if I can. Below are the book reviews. On reflection, I’ve really enjoyed the books I’ve read lately, so if you’re interested in the kinds of books I read, perhaps you should read on. If not, skip it.

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The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem. Hilarious! The technical jargon wordplay gets a bit tiresome and repetitive, but if this was really tranlated from Polish to English, it’s a damn marvel. Half the damn humor is innuendo, and the rest of it’s puns. Whether you want to read the whole thing or not, go to the bookstore, open it up, and read the section entitled, mumble, mumble mumble. I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s one of the first three sections, I think, and it’s relatively short and it’s hilarious. Here’s a link to the first story online, which is also worthwhile, although not quite as funny. Dammit. Go read the damn book.

The Book of Merlin by TH White. Much more boring and preachy than the rest of the Arthur books. In fact, large sections of this were stuck into the Once and Future King, word for word.

Manalive by GK Chesterton. Chesterton forcefully drove his point home: Conformant behavior != ethical behavior, Nonconformant behavior != unethical behavior. Fun and funny, though, and relatively short, so it’s not like you’re wasting a month getting a repetitive lesson. I liked it.

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan. Yes, it’s the 11th book in Jordan’s never ending series. Did anything happen in this one? Yes. Still nowhere near as good as the first book in the series. Wind it up, Jordan. Before you die of your horrific disease.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Having only read two of Dick’s books, I seem to recognize a pattern: Dystopian futures with troubled antagonists and moral ambiguities. I love his writing though, because none of the dystopias are exactly the same (although they seem to all be post-WWII- or III-ish themes), and he goes into wonderful detail on the society and the inhabitants’ anxieties. Anyway, this is the book on which Bladerunner was based, and the book and the movie are different enough for both of them to be exceptional. Plot: Rick Deckard’s job is to retire (kill) androids, which are becoming so advanced as to be nearly (NEARLY) indistinguishable from humans.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. This is deservedly a classic. If you haven’t read it, do so now. I command thee. Incidentally, it appears that a LOT of sci-fi chronologically following this book references it, for some odd reason. Huh.

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester. The Count of Monte Cristo…IN SPAAAAACE! Moderately dark throughout the bulk of the story. Definitely good enough to keep me turning the pages. Apparently this was also once titled “Tiger! Tiger!”, which makes sense if you read the book. Which I’d recommend for people who like wacky sci-fi.

Posted by snaotheus

Peanut Butter and Pickles

Pictures added:

Airshow at Edwards Air Force Base. I like the miniature astronauts.
Pumpkin carving. You would not believe how much time I spent on my Johnnie Walker pumpkin.
Peanut Butter and Dill Pickle Sandwich. This guy at work kept saying these things were good and wouldn’t listen to criticism from anyone who hadn’t tried one. So I tried one. My mind couldn’t grasp both flavors at the same time. It was very strange, but not as horrifying as I thought it might be.

Thing I remembered:

The other day, I was discussing God’s creatures of which I have not already partaken (I want to eat reindeer, preferably with a bright red nose!), and someone brought up pheasant, which I distinctly recall eating on two occasions. However, the flavor is not part of those memories. The older of the two is probably the more amusing: Dad ran a pheasant over on the highway (accidental), tossed it into the back of the truck (intentional), and brought it home to feed it to his children (ummm…thoughtful?). However, he had to ask a neighbor how to pluck it and cook. The neighbor thoughtfully did so, and then told dear old Dad that it was illegal to keep it (I’m guessing you need a hunting license or something). The other time was apparently a bird that Elder Brother shot. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that when you shoot things with shotguns, they have lots of little metal balls in them. That’s typically what makes them stay on the ground unmoving until fetched. These same little metal balls are not particularly appetizing.

Books:

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This is a long book, which is a little difficult to read because Russian names aren’t the same as English names. Luckily, the copy I have has an index of the main characters full name and nicknames. It still took me a while to realize that Nikolay and Kolya were the same person. Anyway, the story seems very much like a soap opera to me, which would normally be very boring (and in fact, after the very beginning but before the second half was fairly boring), but I liked these characters more than the characters I imagine are in soap operas (not having had the patience [or desire for self-punishment] to ever sit through a soap opera). To a certain extent, though, I thought the soap-operatic turns of events were contortions intended to create situations about which the main character (or the author) could wax philosophical, which I did find interesting. Overall, I liked the book. Plus, it had a pleasingly unhappy ending. I’m always a sucker for those.

Deathstalker Rebellion by Simon R. Green. I just finished this yesterday or the day before, I don’t remember which. As you most certainly don’t recall, I thought the first book was cheesy. This was more of the same. Character names like Razor, Silence, d’Ark, Random, Journey, Edge, and of course the title character Deathstalker. Fortunately for Mr. Green, I have a soft spot for cheesiness. Unfortunately, there were a few glaring plot holes which I had a hard time ignoring (disbelief is precariously suspended). I should just give up and buy the rest of the series, because I know perfectly well I’ll read them. Maybe I can find them in a library somewhere.

Movie:

Muppets from Space. It was a muppet movie. How can it go wrong?

Posted by snaotheus, 13 comments