Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Only Number Five?

Stat counters reveal some interesting things. Just this evening I discovered I had someone from Ireland visit the old blog (I feel so comopolitan), but what's really interesting is that this visitor found my blog by googling the phrase "tube 8 big butt fart". My humble little slice of the World Wide Web ranks number five for that particular string. (Needless to say, you really don't want to know what else pops up when you google "tube 8 big butt fart".)

But there are two things that intrigue me about this particular query:
Why? Why would anyone come up with that particular combination of words. What convoluted logic says, I really need to know what the Internet has to tell me about "tube 8 big butt fart". I mean, why not "heresy 7 smelt waxed cricket"?

But most troublesome to me is:
Why fifth? How can it be that a blog called "The Lost Fart..." let four other sites beat it out for "tube 8 big butt fart"? Where, oh where, did I go wrong?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Whence Cometh Our Deliverance?

This past week's "Cap and Trade" vote has me a bit depressed. How can 219 members of the House of Representatives actually believe that choking off the fuel that powers our economic engine will end in anything other than breadlines? Of course, I know the answer to that question. They don't believe this will do anything other than strangle the economy -- it's just the price they're willing to pay to achieve the higher purpose of expanding the power of government. After all, where would we be if government weren't dispensing blessings from on high?

It's times like these that test my faith in God's sovereignty -- not that I doubt the Lord is actually sovereign or that His kingdom will eventually come despite the raging of the nations, but why He's so slow in setting the record straight about who is and who isn't "like the Most High". Like Jonah, I have no doubt that the Lord will accomplish His good will in His good time. But also like Jonah, I don't like the fact that He's so damned patient and merciful to those who show no signs of repenting of their hubris.

My prayer is: "Lord, why do you suffer fools so gladly? Isn't it about time You established a Normandy beachhead and took back this world from the pretenders to Your throne? Where are the Rangers scaling the cliffs at Point du Hoc?"

Oh yeah, I forgot. My job isn't to whine about the lack of deliverance from heaven -- mine is just to trust the Rock my rope is anchored to and keep climbing heavenward. "So Lord, come to think of it, maybe it's not such a bad thing that You suffer fools gladly and show mercy to those who presume to know Your job better than You do."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thieving Savages

The picture of two boys on the banner of this blog is a slice of this photograph featuring Roy (on the left) and me (on the right) doing our very best "Native American" impersonations. I don't have the original photo, but somewhere I found several badly degraded 50-year-old negatives from which this image was scanned.

This snapshot was probably taken by our oldest brother Joel with his brand new Boy Scout box camera, which he'd received as a Christmas present. The year can be established by the fact that I'm sitting there with my right arm in a cast. I broke that arm when I was in the first grade (1958-59) when I made a somewhat-less-than-fully-successful leap from halfway up a baseball backstop. The time of the year can be established by two things: first, 90% of all pictures taken with Joel's camera were taken within the first month of his ownership; and second, there's all the brush that's not so neatly stacked in the upper right of the photo. That brush is the remains of the Christmas trees from which our tepee's support poles were made. So clearly this image dates to January 1959, which would have been right around my seventh birthday and a few months before Roy's 9th.

By now you must be asking, "How many Christmas trees did you have that year, that you could make a tepee with the trunks and and still have a pile of left-overs?" To be honest I don't remember how many we had, but trust me, it was a buttload. Of course, we had only one tree in the house at Christmas, but within a week after Christmas we'd found a bunch more just lining the alley that ran behind our house. I don't remember who first decided that discarded Christmas trees were valuable collectibles, but within a short time we had a dozen or more.

One day Martin and Freddy (from down on the 3100 block) came by and were mightily impressed with our stash, especially with that massive twelve-footer we'd found up on Philmore Avenue, so they decided they'd start their own tree collection. Unfortunately for them, we had a big head start and by then the pickings along the alleys were getting sparse. But that didn't deter them, and within a week or so they'd managed to acquire a pretty sizable assemblage of defunct trees, which Martin invited Joel to come admire. Joel went down to Martin's prepared to laugh in his face at their puny efforts to catch up with us. But there leaning against the wall that separated their yard from the neighbor's was a very familiar-looking twelve foot tree. Sure enough, Joel checked our tree inventory and found it shy one twelve-footer. The count was off by several, so all three of us went down the block to demand our trees back, but Martin and Freddy denied everything. As they told it, they'd found that big one down on Copia Street -- could they help it if we kept losing our trees?

There and then we brothers three swore vengeance, and thus (to right the injustice that had been done to us) was hatched "Operation Midnight". That next morning we woke at 4:00 AM and under the cover of darkness stole every single tree that Martin and Freddy had. Somewhere around 8:00 Martin and Freddy came up the block to inspect our holdings. Accusations followed. Hey, we'd found these trees down on Copia. Could we help it if they kept losing their trees?

But our victory was short lived. Dad (noticing that our backyard had become a forest of desiccated ex-Xmas trees) inquired, "Boys, just what do you intended to do with all those trees?"

I believe we were unanimous in our reaction to this line of questioning: Do? Why did we have to do anything? The final disposition of our loot was way beyond any of our thought processes. But Roy (being the quick thinker among us) came up with a brilliant answer: "We're gonna strip off the branches and make poles for a tepee."

Dad thought that was an acceptable goal, but he noted that most tepees use something less than the forty or so support poles we had at our disposal. So he laid down the law, "You have until next Saturday to strip them and put the branches and any left-over trees out for the garbagemen. As you can see from the above photograph of our tepee (the fabric of which someone may recognize as the filthy carpet that once covered our living room floor) we did manage to hatchet the limbs off three tepee poles before our motivation flagged (or our attention wandered, more likely).

Here's a view of Joel (obviously taken by Roy) opening the flap of our tepee to let one sweaty little injun with a broken arm escape from its stifling heat.

Oh, one last thing. If you happen to be Martin or Freddy from the 3100 block of Van Buren Avenue and just happen to read this post, remember -- the statute of limitations on discarded-Christmas-tree larceny has long since expired.

For the benefit of my baby sister (whose husband has honored this post with its first comment), here's a shot of her being held by our Aunt Mary (in the middle). Mom (the very tired-looking woman on the left) I think is holding Bonnie; and I'm pretty sure Gramma is holding Beth.

Oh yes, just one last thing -- notice that the screen door has been snapped off. Savages, I tell you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Never-ending Argument

That woman I married is so argumentative. For someone who claims to be Jesus' disciple, she sure can be disagreeable. There I was, right after kissing her good-bye this morning, saying, "I love you, you know."

And she answers back, "I love you MORE."

So, of course, I have to correct her, "No, I love YOU more."

So, does she do as the Bible commands and acknowledge her husband as the head of the household whose word is final? No, of course not. She answers back, "No, I love YOU more."

So once again, I'm forced to point out her error, "No, I love YOU more."

And again she contradicts, "No, love YOU more."

This degenerates into:
Bob: No, ... love YOU more!

Joyce: No, I ... more!

Bob: No, more!

Joyce: Nope, more!

And so it goes until, as I pull away from the curb and declare my superior devotion one final time, she just has to get in the last word: "Nope!"

But little does she know, my word is final. As I round the corner and turn out of sight, I smile: "Nope, I love you more, Joyceee."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The New GM

When it comes to mixing social commentary, capitalist zeal and untempered cynicism, no one does it better than Despair.com.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jokes in the Night

I work for the local power company. We had bad storms last week, so I was on storm duty the end of the week. That's not to say I was actually working to restore electrical service to our customers. My job was simply to help man the emergency center, which oversees service restoration after a storm hits our service area. Given that our service area is over 400 miles across and sits at the southern end of tornado alley, the emergency center is usually activated for major storms several times a year.

Now if you're thinking an emergency center during an emergency restoration exercise is a bee-hive of activity, you'd be mistaken. It's just a central clearinghouse for information about storm damage and the restoration work that's in progress. It's a couple dozen people, some staring at computers, some talking on phones, but mostly it's just folks engaged in casual conversations to pass the time. And long about 2:00 or 3:00 AM the jokes all seem funnier. Of course, they're the same old jokes, but something about sleep deprivation makes them hilarious. A case in point is this old one I overheard in the wee hours this last Saturday morning:

How many real men does it take to open a beer bottle?

None! She should open the bottle before she hands it to you.

Admittedly, that joke's pretty lame, but for whatever reason my few remaining functional brain cells ordered me to laugh uncontrollably and I was powerless to disobey. I first discovered late-night involuntary hilarity when I was in the Army, pulling staff duty with SSG Bradley, a country boy from Tennessee. Now admittedly, one didn't have to be drunk from lack of sleep to find Sergeant Bradley funny -- he was a story-teller akin to Andy Griffith doing his "What it Was, Was Football" routine:

Anyway, on this particular endless night, Sergeant Bradley told a story that, as I recall, went something like this (though you'll just have to imagine his slow Southern drawl that turned this three minute joke into twenty minutes of entertainment):

These two bachelor brothers er out in the field one day plantin' corn. The older brother Jeb is aguidin' the plow behin' Bessy the mule while Zeb is afollerin' droppin' seed. Ever wunsta while, the plow ketches a rock and Bessy has ta shrug it up out the dirty. Jeb then calls back to Zeb and tells 'm to heave the stone onta th'wall that runs round th'field. Zeb gets ta complainin 'bout how he has ta do all the rock heftin, so Jeb tells him: "I cain't hold the plow and pick up rocks at the same time, 'n iffen I let go the plow, Bessy'll wander off straight back to the barn."

"Well, then why'cha let me do the plowing fer a while?" comes Zeb's natcherl reply.

"Well I'd let ya plow, 'cept you couldn't plow a straight furrah if yer life depended on it."

Well now, that really ticks Zeb off. And it just happens that right then Bessy snags a really big'n and jerks real hard. Up comes a boulder -- must weigh a hunnerd-fifty pounds. Looking at that rock, Zeb snaps, "I ain't liftin' that'n."

Zeb says, "Well, okay. Lemme drive a stake and tie Bessy down and I'll hep ya with it."

Jeb's still steamed about the insult to his plowin' ability, so he gets all stubbern 'n says, "Nope, I ain't liftin' half of it neither."

"Well, we cain't just leave a big ol' rock in the middle of the cornfield."

"Ain't my prollem. You the boss-man running the plow -- you figger it out."

Jeb can see where this argument's a-goin', so he decides the smart thing to do is jus' concede the point: "Okay, hep me pitch this dang rock onta th'wall and I'll let ya plow the resta th'mornin'."

Zeb quickly agrees and t'gether they heft that boulder onta th'wall. Then with a bit'uv a smirk, Zeb slips behin' the plow and gives Bessy a gentle smack. Bessy turns left head'n straight downhill. Zeb smacks her hard on the left side to get her aimed right and she turns sharp right and heads straight up hill.

Jeb's seen enough 'n (grabbin' the reins to stop Bessy) says, "Wut'd I tell ya -- you cain't plow werth nuthin."

Zeb's completely flummoxed about wut went wrong, so he decides maybe he just might let Jeb do th' plowin' after all.

But when Jeb gets behind the plow, Bessy pulls the same stunt. So thar they both stand, atryin ta figger out what got inta Bessy. Jeb wanders up to look Bessy in the eye and commences ta laughin': "Lookee here, Bessy's done gone cross-eyed on us. She musta knocked her eyes outa alignment on that big boulder."

So Zeb asks, "Well, so wut er we gonna do with cross-eyed mule?"

Jeb (being the older brother and the natcherl leader) answers, "Well, there's nothin else ta do but call out the vet and hav'm look'er over."

So they lead Bessy back to the barn and then head into town. As luck would have it, they see the vetrinary's wagon tied up at the next farm just a mile down the road, so Jeb wanders back and finds the vet standing knee deep in the pig sty.

After Jeb explains the prollem, Doc says, "That's nuthin', I can fix'er right up. I'll be out to yer farm jus as soon as I'm done vaccinatin' these here pigs."

Well, to make a long story short, the vet shows up 'bout sunset and goes straight to the barn where he looks Bessy over real good.

Jeb asks, "So can ya fix'er?"

Doc laughs, "Sher, no prollem."

Then he reaches into his little black bag 'n pulls out 'bout four foota surgical tubing and some Vaseline petroleum jelly. He slathers up that rubber tube and shoves 'bout three feet'uv it up Bessy's rear end. He then tells Jeb, "Now you go stan' in fronta Bessy and holler when her eyes straighten out."

Then he wraps his lips 'round the tubing and lightly puffs. Like magic, Bessy's eyes pop right back into line. Doc then looks Jeb square in the face, smiles and says, "That'll be a hunderd dollars."

Well, that really ticks Jeb off, but seein' how he hadn't bothered to haggle before Doc fixed Bessy, he has no choice but to pay the thief.

So anyways, (makin' a long story short) Jeb 'n Zeb 'er out the next day finishin' the plantin' when, son-of-a-gun, the very same thing happens. Big rock, Bessy jerkin' real hard, eyes crossin' and all. But this time Jeb's ready. So he says to Zeb, "Run on down to th'barn and bring back 'bout four-foota garden hose and same axle grease -- we gonna save us a hunderd dollars."

Zeb (havin' also watched Doc fix Bessy th' day b'fore) knows 'zackly what Jeb has in mind, so he sprints off ta th'barn and lopes back with the hose and a can o'grease. Jeb smears the grease all over the hose, shoves the main part'uv it up Bessy's rear and says, "Now Zeb, go stan' fronta Bessy 'n tell me when her eyes pop straight."

Jeb commences to huffin' and puffin' on th' hose, but it ain't doin' no good.

Finally, Zeb's had enough and says, "You dummy! Yer doin' that all wrong. Here, lemme show ya."

Zeb grabs the hose, jerks it outa Bessy, turns it 'round, and shoves the other end back up Bessy's butt. Jeb (puzzled by this) says to his little brother, "So what good does turnin' the hose 'round do?"

Zeb (breakin' the seal between his mouth and the hose) says, "Well, you didn't think I wuz gonna blow on th' end o' th' hose whar you just had your nasty ol' mouth, didya?"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Acid Trip

George was determined to buy some acid (and I don't mean HCl or H2SO4). George wanted to score a psychadelic drug buy. Of course, I (as the kid who attended the Bible church and had parents who firmly believed, If the Great Depression was good enough for us, it's plenty good enough for our kids) was no help when it came to sharing places to procure illicit drugs. And truth be told, I doubt there were but a handful of kids in my high school way back in 1968 who had a clue about such things. El Paso may have been a major transit route for Mexican drug smugglers, but it was no Haight-Ashbury. I couldn't imagine anyone I knew using illegal drugs -- well, except for George, and he didn't seem to be having much luck.

But lack of success didn't deter George. He just kept asking everyone he knew where he could buy some LSD. And eventually someone gave him an answer. I was there at the lunch table when Scott leaned in close and said, "Okay George, since you've just gotta know, the place to go is 505 South Ochoa Street. Ten bucks." I was appalled. Here I thought Scott was a stand-up guy. How would he know where to score acid?

The following Monday during lunch George wandered by our table and said, "Scott, you are so full of it -- 505 S Ochoa, my ass!"

Scott answered, "Oh, hi George. So what happened?"

"Well ... last Saturday I drove to Ochoa Street. It's down near Jefferson High close to the border. I walked up to the door of this little shack and knocked. A little Mexican lady answered. She didn't speak any English, so I just handed her the ten dollar bill. She smiled and said 'Gracias'. And then she closed the door."

I had to know, "So what happened then?"

George grumbled, "That's it. Nuthin happened after that. I stood there about ten minutes, and then it occurred to me, That Scott's such a damned liar."

Monday, June 8, 2009

She's Leaving Me for Good

I knew it would happen someday. Eventually Joyce was bound to leave me and return to her relatives. But I never dreamed the relatives would be our own kids. And it's lucky for me Joyce is leaving after I go to work tomorrow and she'll probably be back before I get home. My bride is on a mission -- fetching a twin bed from Lawton Oklahoma -- for lo, James's tiny apartment isn't big enough to hold both the old twin and the new queen-size. Besides this old house can use the extra furnishings, seeing how nearly all the bedding that once abided here has wandered away with the children.

The delivery of a bed to a near newlywed reminds me of a story -- our going shopping with my mom at Sears (the same Sears store at Five Points in El Paso where we used to jerk Santa's beard every December). Anyway, this shopping excursion was years after we did the investigative journalist trick on old Saint Nick. Roy and I were now both in college. We were over in the furniture section where Mom was shopping for a bed for my oldest brother Joel who was soon to be married. The bed was selected -- Roy and I were standing beside Mom at the register. Mom just had to share her news with the sales clerk, "This bed is for my oldest son who's getting married."

The sales lady (clearly intrigued by this information) inquired, "What kind of casters would you like?"

Mom gazed toward the ceiling, deep in thought. Finally she looked over to Roy and me, "Should I buy the regular casters or the heavy-duty ones?"

Then without waiting for our reply (as if simply verbalizing the question made the answer obvious) she became resolute, "We'd better get the heavy-duty ones -- you know how Joel likes to pounce on things."

Simultaneously Roy and I smacked our foreheads and Mom blushed, "You have such filthy minds."

But back to Joyce's finally leaving me -- tonight she was watching a clip in which Ben Stein enjoins everyone to get a dog. Joyce turned to me and said, "If I should get in a traffic accident tomorrow and God takes me to heaven-home, be sure to get a dog."

I of course answered, "You mean to tell me dogs can do laundry?"

Sunday, June 7, 2009

North By Northwest

Joyce and I arrived back from visiting the grandchild (and her charming parents) last Tuesday night. I played hooky from work on Wednesday and then returned on Thursday. I'd scheduled vacation through Friday but I reasoned: By returning a couple of days early I'll be able to catch up and be ahead of the game on Monday. Of course, I re-discovered that old truism: "Work expands to fill the time available." My boss quickly figured out that I was available to attend meetings that he'd rather miss and to do (what seems to me) other pointless busywork, so now I'm farther behind than I was when I returned on Thursday.

That's okay, I'll get caught up in July and August by taking an extended vacation to help Andy make the move from Ohio to Alaska (Wright-Patterson AFB to Elmendorf AFB, to be precise). I've volunteered to drive one of their two vehicles. On Friday July 24th, Andy and Lauren will be flying here for James and Amber's wedding the next day. Then on Sunday, Andy and I will fly back to Ohio, spend the night at Wright-Patt and (after Andy has finished signing out) we'll begin our northwestward trek sometime before noon on Monday, July 27th. Meanwhile Lauren and the grandchild will be catching up on visits with friends and relatives back here in Texas.

Just this evening I got an email from Andy confirming that he's reserved motel rooms along the entire 4000+ mile route. (Damn those Canucks for making it so hard to figure out the mileage! I mean, is there even such a word as kilometerage?) Taking the most efficient route (i.e., avoiding Chicago by way of Joyce's family's farm in Illinois), we'll be departing on July 27th and arriving on August 5th.

Here's a view of the route captured from Google Earth.

And here's an even more striking view, showing Anchorage as the midpoint of the route from Dayton to Yokohama.

This should be an interesting adventure. It might even provide a little fodder for Ye Ol' Blog. I can't promise I'll chronicle the trip each day -- I hear Internet connections can be a bit spotty in the Yukon -- but who knows, we may actually see some of those moose Canada is so famous for.

Which reminds me of a joke --
Question: "How do you spell Canada?"
Answer: "C - eh? - N - eh? - D - eh?"

Which also reminds me what Andy told me I should not say when the Canadian border agent asks if I have any weapons in the car --
"Nuthin you'd be able to find, eh?"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jess a Reminder

Just a quick reminder to everyone who knows Jesse (or who knows someone who knows her, or knows someone who knows someone who ...) to wish her a happy birthday -- June 4th.