Observations Archive

Nine Years

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There are remembrances of that awful day nine years ago all over the blogosphere today, as well there should be. Michelle Malkin has a 9/11 collection that deserves to be seen, but if you read only one recollection of that day, you might want to make it Allapundit's Twitter posts from last year, collected by TV's Andy Levy.

There are memorial events going on all day today. If nothing else, turn on your TV.

Me... I'll be starting work in a couple of hours. By the middle of the afternoon I expect I'll be hip-deep in a routing protocol problem, or perhaps diagnosing a router crash, or helping redesign someone's network traffic flow. Or, just possibly, I'll be involved in someone's disaster recovery testing.

And maybe that's a small glimmer of a reflection of a good side of this time and place in history. The country took a severe body blow, and yet we carry on as we have to, as Americans always have.


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Y'know, if an oil well on land had begun leaking at the rate of the current spill off the coast of Louisiana, I'm fairly sure it could have been contained a whole lot quicker and easier than a well head at the bottom of the #$%#@! ocean.

Environmentalists don't want anyone drilling in a comparatively microscopic portion of, say, the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve.* Apparently, they prefer harder-to-contain oil spills on the ocean.

* I know, I know — they really don't want anyone drilling anything, anywhere. They'd much rather we all starve and freeze in the dark.

Last night — this morning, really — after work, via the Netflix streaming capability of my Blu-Ray player (woohoo!) I watched a bunch of episodes of that great classic police show, Adam-12.

During the episode "I'm Still A Cop," wherein Officer Malloy (Martin Milner) balances his duty as a law enforcement officer with his part-time attendance at a local college, the students do what students did in the '60s: riot. The student radicals seize an administration building and hold the college president in his office. The police rescue him without violence; ultimately, Malloy foils a bomb plot staged by one of the radicals.

Being a 1960s TV show, the hippies depicted therein were rather more clean-cut than one might expect of 1960s college students. They dressed fairly well, and all of them appeared to have bathed in the recent past.

No, I don't like hippies — even fictional recently-washed hippies. If I see a clean hippie, I expect fire hoses and wire brushes to have been involved in the cleaning.

As I watched, I couldn't help but wish that episode had gone down the path of Maximum Baton Utilization.

The road not taken....


Wrong. Just Wrong.

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Having just returned from my weekly grocery expedition, I would just like to note: seventy-year-old men should, under no circumstances, ever be allowed to wear anything like spandex.

I don't care if you're Jack LaLanne, I don't care if you dress it up as "bicycling attire," it just will not do. I don't care if you have a bicycle in your hands or are actually riding a bicycle. That goes double if there isn't a bicycle within visual range.

That is all.

Notes from a Late Night Dinner

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I'm not saying it pertains to me. Oh, no, no.

But, seriously — Tabasco™ brand Habanero Sauce really, really ought to have a "Do not drink product directly from the bottle" warning label.

I'm not joking.

(Yes, I am.)

I've been on a chili kick lately. I've done the math (sort of, in my head, just now) and I figure I've made about 15-20 pounds of chili over the course of the last three months. I've had chili for dinner, on average, about 2½ times a week.

Yes, I love chili.

This week, I've tried something a bit different. While trolling the aisles at the local BJ's club store, I saw they had ground buffalo. I've wanted to try buffalo for quite a while.

Buffalo, not "bison." Insisting on calling it "bison" irritates me just about as much as insisting on calling corn "maize." It strikes me as being entirely too trendeigh.

At any rate, I picked up a couple of pounds of ground buffalo. It's definitely on the pricey side compared to ground beef, but it is allegedly better for you than beef; it's certainly leaner, as its advocates claim; as I browned it prior to adding it to the slow cooker, there was a good deal less fat rendered out. Into the slow cooker it went, along with the rest of the chili makings.

The verdict? If you're making chili, save your money and use beef. Prior to adding the browned buffalo to the chili pot, I did give it a taste; the flavor difference between buffalo and beef was almost negligible, and was definitely overwhelmed by the chili seasonings I used. I suppose I expected something bolder, perhaps a bit gamier.

In a dish without so much heavy seasoning, though, I think buffalo would be pretty good. I have a pound in the fridge I'll be making into hamburgers. I expect them to be tasty.


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I bought some fresh vegetables; when I got home, I found that the girl who bagged them had turned the twist-tie the wrong direction, which prompts me to wonder:

How is it, in this day and age, that a person can survive to adulthood — and I mean literally survive, as in not die — without knowing "lefty loosy, righty tighty"?

Surely there must be something in the human experience that assures elimination from the gene pool for the lack of such basic knowledge as which way to turn something to open or tighten it?

Whenever I hear the expression "TCP Promiscuous Mode" I can't help but think that TCP's creators are disappointed about what a hussy TCP has become.


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While it is possible to bleed in a wholly unanticipated way, at a time or place that leave one wondering which particular members of the Greek, Roman, and/or Norse pantheons one might have accidentally crossed, doing so is usually considered bad form.

Bleeding can be one of the most useful training tools built into the human body.

  • "Oops, I should not have put my fingers there."
  • "Knives are sharp."
  • "Next time, duck."

So remember: if you're bleeding, you've almost certainly done something wrong.

[This post brought to you by the Where the Hell Did That Come From? Coalition.]


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Truth: when you file your taxes the first week of February, it's not uncommon to get any refund(s) owed you before the end of the month.*

Now, I think I'll head out to stimulate the economy a bit.

*Unless you live in a state that is giving out IOUs instead of refunds.

Feelings, wo-o-o feelings.

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It occurred to me today that if the average person woke up one morning feeling like I feel on my best days, he or she would probably be on the phone to their doctor screaming to get an appointment for right now.

If that same person woke up feeling like I do on a bad day, they'd probably call 911 and spend the day in the Emergency Room.

I do believe I've begun to embrace the suck.

For the record . . .

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A vacuum cleaner makes a very poor substitute for a cane.

Reflections on a scandal

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A few things about the Blagojevich matter crossed my mind while I was doing my household chores this afternoon.

Does this face say anything to you other than "mobbed-up scumbag"?

I say that, of course, with no intention of insulting actual bags full of scum*, what with them working hard every day serving the useful purpose to society of containing scum for easy disposal.

Which, incidentally, is an apt description of the place where Blagojevich will be spending the next 20-years-to-life.

The soon-to-be-ex-Governor was in the news yesterday, trying to strong-arm Bank of America (which today gave in, somewhat.) This seems to me to be a small example of what got the economy into the mess it's in: Big Government mandating to businesses that they behave in ways that do not make good business sense, pretty much forcing the business to lose (or give away) money.

See also: CRA.

This is the political culture into which Barack Obama deliberately insinuated himself.

This is not a good thing to happen to a President-elect.

At least with Bill Clinton, we waited a few years before any of his cronies were imprisoned.

Illinois, Illinois, Illinois... we're going to have to revoke your statehood if you can't come up with anything better than this.

I think the last truly Great And Good Thing to happen in Illinois was the Great Hippie Beat-Down of 1968...

... although, Mayor Jane Byrne was somewhat entertaining, for those of us who lived near Chicago in the early '80s. Cabrini Green!

... and I did date a wonderful girl while I was in college there.

OK, that wasn't so good for the country as a whole. But it was pretty good for me, while it lasted.


* Yes, I know. Dennis Miller. I don't think he'd mind me borrowing that turn of phrase.

With whom I happen to share a birthday.

#4: Despite what your body is theoretically capable of doing with them, beef trimmings do not go into the recycle bin.

#3: Dropping/spilling the 25-pound tub of soiled kitty litter is going to be bad for either the carpet or the hardwood floors. If you must do this, try to do it on a tile floor.

#2: . . .

This is what happens when Republicans allow Democrats and Independants a role in selecting their nominee. Open primaries never made sense to me, and this only confirms my negative opinion of them.

Not, of course, that any other particular Republican would necessarily have won... but any of them would have run a better campaign.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury."

Hence, Obama.

I figure the odds are 1 in 4 that Israel strikes Iran before the end of the year, while Bush is still Commander in Chief. They know they won't be able to count on any support from the new administration. If I were them, I'd be thinking of launching before the week is out.

No one can call the US a racist nation again. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are going to need to find honest work.

Yeah, right, who am I kidding.

I need to find a good hiding place for my rifles.

Obama has a lot of political debts to pay. Maybe he can use all those illegal offshore campaign contributions for that.

McCain ran on his character and record, both of which are clearly superior to Obama, but he never had a driving vision onto which people could latch.

This feels a lot like the Clinton/Gore win in 1992... which was followed, you'll recall, by the Republican congressional victories in 1994.

Palin/Jindal 2012!

I mean, sure, it's important. A completely unvetted, infanticide-supporting gun-grabbing socialist from the corrupt Daley/Chicago political machine, with ties to unrepentant terrorists and anti-American racial hatemongers, is running for the presidency as the candidate of one of the major parties, with the full support of the media.

"Nothing to see here, move along" seems to be the mantra of the major media.

His opponent would do well to point all this out — loud, long and often — but he seems to me to be more interested in collegiality than in defeating the most hardcore leftist ticket ever to have a chance at the White House.

Ronnie, where are you when we really need you?

I think I'm gonna watch DVDs for the rest of the day.

I'll bet you didn't know this

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Follow me on this. I know, it'll be a shock to you. It certainly was to me.

I don't think anyone's remarked on it, but you know that Sarah Palin? I was watching the news, and I noticed... if you get past the tough reformer, past the leadership and wild approval ratings, past her principles.... Come on — you know who I'm talking about? — Sarah Palin? Governor of Alaska? McCain's VP nominee?

You might want to sit down for this. And send the kids out of the room — this is that shocking.


That Sarah Palin... she's, uh... she's kind of hot, don't you think?

I know it's not obvious.

I don't think anyone's mentioned that so far. Thought I'd point it out.


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It only just occured to me: with my two years as a squad leader in the Army, I have more executive experience than Obama does.

Sarah Palin's years as a decisive mayor and governor — and as a reformer — far outweigh Obama's history of "present" votes (or absenteeism) during his career as part of the — undeniably corrupt — Chicago political machine.


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More and more these days, when I'm watching programs with a scientific bent on the Discover Channel, or TLC or even the History Channel, I find myself thinking that every single declarative sentence uttered in any of these programs ought to end with "... at least, that's what we believe right now."

Theories and hypotheses being passed off as settled fact bother me greatly.

Ravings of a fevered mind

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Shortly before going to bed last night (this morning, really) I came down with a fever and aches. Swell. At least it didn't wait until my weekend starts at midnight tonight. I can work through being unwell, but I hate losing my days off to illness. I have too much to do.

I think I need to have my shunt adjusted. When I occasionally cough or sneeze, I feel what might be described as a pressure spike in my head — a momentary pang, like a headache that comes and goes in a split second. I think there's still a bit too much pressure in there.

I keep making progress at physical therapy, and my reward is more weight on my ankles, or newer more difficult exercises.

The birds in my neighborhood are retarded. They start chirping about two hours before sunrise — right outside my bedroom window. The feathered buggers can make it hard to get to sleep.

A thunderstorm in the wee hours of the morning, however shuts them right up... and I have no trouble falling asleep if it's thundering or pouring rain.

The cats get a bit nervous, though. Kismet curls up tightly right against me, and Packet stretches out on the bed as well. Mycah would come up, but she rarely ever voluntarily approaches the lads.

They, on the other hand, continually try to make friendly with her. It's particularly noticeable at feeding time. I call "food!" and the cats know it's time to go downstairs. Packet races down to the bottom of the stairs and flops down. Kismet positions himself on the landing halfway down. Mycah follows behind me as I go down — she gives Packet a brief hiss and heads down past him... and he follows, batting at her tail. She then gets to the bottom of the stairs ahead of me, and has a few words with Packet, who lays there oblivious to her demand that he move out of her way. It's as if he is daring her to approach him... but he eventually gets out of the way.

Food seems to be the great unifier, though. When the hairball treats are being distributed, Mycah has no objection whatever to the lads' immediate presence. Once the treats are gone, though, the hissing starts again... but she's getting better. Eventually she'll tolerate the lads.

Work starts in a couple of minutes. Sundays are usually pretty quiet, but this week so far has been fairly heinous. I can work through the fever and headache... but I'd rather have a nice night where no part of the network breaks. Ya, right. We have 30,000+ routers under management — something will go wrong at some point.

OK, I just logged on and I see that it has been slow so far today. I guess we got most of it out of our system over the past week.

Have a good Sunday, folks.

Monday Miscellany

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I expected that last post to generate a bit more by way of discussion. Perhaps I should have held it for a weekday instead of posting it on Saturday.

If there's one thing I've learned recently, it's that if you want a lot of visits and comments, put up a picture of a cat. Fortunately, I now have three of the furballs to photograph, and they are photogenic... but not every day is Cat Day here.

Oddly, however, this week is Cat Week for me, as all three are making trips to the vet, on three separate days. Mycah has followup blood work to be done, Packet has his first checkup with our vet (the amazing Dr. Jennifer Hodge of the Cat Clinic of Cary — if you're in the area, I recommend them highly), and Kismet, who went in for his checkup last week, has a followup for his upper respiratory infection.

Kismet had weepy eyes and was a bit sneezy last week; when he emptied his snotlocker on my shirt one afternoon, I decided to get him checked out a bit earlier than originally scheduled. Along with the respiratory symptoms, what appeared to be a swollen (perhaps infected) lymph node was found in his armpit. As a result, he's been on a twice-daily regimen of a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Further, blood was taken for lab work, and the results show that he's got antibodies for corona virus, but it doesn't look like an active infection, but rather a past exposure. I informed the folks at the adoption center, just in case.

In any event, he seems pretty well. He's less sneezy, but the lump in his armpit hasn't gone away. We'll be getting that checked out at the followup visit tomorrow.

All that said, here's your daily dose of cat: Mycah taking her turn on the Gizzy quilt.

Go Fight Win

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While covering the news last night on FNC's Red Eye (you are DVRing it nightly, are you not?) Fox Business Network reporter Tracy Byrnes defended cheerleading as a "sport."

Utter nonsense.

Cheerleading, Ice Dancing, and Synchronized Swimming may all be competitive endeavours requiring athletic ability, but they aren't sports.

Here are two simple rules of thumb by which you can tell if the activity in which you are engaged is a sport, when victory is determined by your score:

  • If a score is awarded based on judges' arbitrary opinion of the quality of your performance, it's not a sport.
  • If the score is determined solely by the completion of a specific task, it is a sport.


Deprogramming Needed

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Every time I say the words "my cane," it comes out sounding like "McCain."

I have got to stop watching the news.

Labor Day

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Today would feel more like a holiday if I didn't already have Mondays and Tuesdays off from work.


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There is something profoundly wrong about having one's first cup of coffee of the morning at 2:30 in the afternoon.

But it would be even more wrong to do without.

Place Your Bets

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The scalding-hot water I accidentally spilled earlier today really hurts.

Or I bet it would, if I could actually feel my legs today.

We'll see about tomorrow.

Sad, But True

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I just said farewell to the plumber — he had installed a new commode here at the house.

This has been the highlight of my day.


I need to work on having better daily highlights.

Crated, Airholes Optional

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Spending an afternoon in the Driver's License office has done absolutely nothing to improve my opinion of teenagers. Nothing at all.

I didn't like them when I was one — why should I now?

Fun Medical Fact #2

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Well-known: many prescription medications have thoroughly-documented side effects. Prednisone, for instance, can cause sleeplessness.

Unknown: which of my meds causes gassiness.

. . . .

On further reflection, it might have been the coleslaw.

Fun Medical Fact

Prednisone tastes horrible.

Really, truly horrible.

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.


"Is that what they call a 'bad touch'? 'Cause, it sure doesn't feel good."

"Mo-o-o-ommy! The mean man hurt me!"

More later.

Random Observation #12

Unless you are actually Andy Serkis, do not attempt a "Gollum" voice in my presence. Especially at the office.

"My precioussss," my ass. I really hate having spit all over me.

Five Years


[This is a re-post, modified, from 9/11/2004]

One morning while working from home I turned on the TV in time to see one of the World Trade Towers burning. As I watched, an airliner slammed into the second tower; in that second, the world changed.

No, that's not right. The world didn't change — we all woke up.

As events unfolded, I could only think of the people trapped by the fire, and I wondered how the authorities would evacuate so many people. Helicopters on the roof, I figured.

Then the towers fell. A plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and everyone expected there would be more attacks.

Our "vacation from history" was over, and we were at war. Against whom didn't quite matter at that moment.

Remember the preliminary casualty estimates? Numbers upwards of 30,000 were cited that morning. The shock I felt could only have been the merest shade of the horror and despair felt by the families of the victims watching on TV, wondering if their loved ones had escaped... or wondering if the body falling from the tower was their family member.

Five years later, we count ourselves fortunate that "only" 3,000 died on 9/11.

From that day and in the years since, we have learned of acts of incredible courage and steadfastness, starting with Todd Beemer and his fellow passengers on Flight 93, continued by the people who stopped Richard Reid's potentially deadly shoe-bomb plot, carried on by men leaping into the darkness over Afghanistan, with leaders like GEN Tommy Franks, and continuing today with all our armed forces.

We are also fortunate that the man in the White House is a man of moral courage and intestinal fortitude, who knows that doing the right thing should not be subject to an opinion poll.

Since 9/11, the war on terrorists and terrorist states has gone very well overall, with few mistakes and a blessedly low casualty rate for our soldiers. We have also been lucky enough — and good enough — not to have suffered another attack approaching the magnitude of 9/11.

The lesson I take from all this is that we can never again allow ourselves to nap through history; it has a way of catching up with us, and when it does, it will take all our skill, intelligence and courage to face it down. The bad guys, present and future, may get lucky again some day, but real Americans are made of stern stuff. No matter the setbacks we may face in the future, we will ultimately win.

Unpleasant Coincidence

I met a really nice person today... who happens to have the same name as a noted-by-the-24-hour-news-cycle murderer of recent years.

That would put a cramp in your style, I'm thinking.

You Know (Part 13)


You know, if you have a broken foot, it might be a wise thing to do to not leave clodhopper shoes laying about in places where they are not usually stored.

Half an hour ago I accidentally walked into one such shoe. I think I saw stars.

I should probably be institutionalized for my own protection.

In Case You Didn't Already Know

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When I get done with work at night and drive my Evil SUV home, there is usually a CD in the player, but occasionally I switch the radio on. Scanning through the channels one night a couple weeks ago, I tuned in to the show "Coast to Coast AM" with George Noory.

Having listened to the show several times since that first encounter, I've come to a conclusion about the program, its guests, and its callers.

Those people are absolutely, unquestionably and incontrovertably friggin' insane.

You Know (Part 12)

You know, it's probably a good idea to let your dermatologist deal with....

No, no, no — stop right there. This is too thoroughly and disgustingly pseudo-medical. "Puking readers" is not my idea of a good time.

I can state for the record, however, that neither pain nor major orifices were even tangentially involved in the incident which I forbear from describing. Just... eeewww.

Update: As big as a nickel, but spherical. I kid you not.

You Know (Part 11)

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You know it's really and truly the 21st Century when:

- you have to put your phone on "mute"
- so that you can gobble down microwavable Thai food
- and not offend the people you're talking to in England
- while you troubleshoot a router in Poland
- on Christmas night.

Update: But... where are the flying cars?

You Know (Part 10)


You know your medical condition is either disfiguring or embarassing — or both — when the treatment consists of a mix of antibiotics and prescription ointment.

And when the ointment tube has a prominent reminder not to get it in your eyes? Trust me on this: they mean it.

Ugly photo follows.

You Know (Part 9)

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You know it can't possibly be a good thing when the first words the doctor utters are "Holy cow."

You Know (Part 8)

You know the commute is a bad one when later descriptions of it necessitate any use whatsoever of the word "helicopter."

Random Observation #11


Bad: having an earworm.

Worse: having this earworm.

You Know (Part 7.1)

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You know it's been an even rougher night when, less than two minutes before the end of your shift, a call comes in that you have to take because it's coming in on your shift... and the call goes for five stinking hours.

You Know (Part 7)

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You know it's been a rough night doing tech support when you count "complete lack of spontaneously combusting routers and switches" as one of your most stunning successes.

Random Observation #10


No-Doz? It really works.

Really, really works.

Random Observation #9


If I can't see that you have a dinky little cellphone inserted in your ear while you apparently talk to yourself, don't blame me if I treat you as either senile or deranged.

I mean, c'mon people, wear a sign or a pointy hat or something.

And watch out where you're walking.

Random Observation #8

Generally speaking, it might be the wiser course to give the cat her foul-tasting medication before getting dressed to go to work.

Cat hair – even black cat hair – does not blend in with black pants.

Random Observation #7


Hot... melty cheese... a slice of onion... spicy mustard... man, there isn't anything better than hot pastrami on rye.

Except for paper-thin rare roast beef on fresh sourdough.

Oh... and a vast array of non-sandwich "better things." But as sandwiches go, pastrami rocks.

Random Observation #6

When the label on the milk carton says "best before such-and-such date," they really mean it.

You Know (Part 6)


You know it's one of those days when the minute you step out the front door, a bird decides to play "poo-poo bombardier" on your shirt.

Random Observation #5

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You know how they say, with regard to alcohol consumption, not to mix grape and grain?

Well, for coffee consumption, I'd advise that you not mix nut and berry flavored syrups.

Trust me on this one.

Random Observation #4

The cat just stuck her cold wet nose into the back of my knee. It makes me jump, every time, and she knows it.

I guess there's only so much fun you can have without opposable thumbs.

Random Observation #3

The longest 10 minutes of the day can be found between the start and the end of Mr. Coffee's brewing cycle.

"More coffee for me, boss, 'cause I'm not as messed up as I want to be."

Random Observation #2

I would never under any circumstances bake a quiche.

A slice or two of refrigerator pie, on the other hand, can make a tasty and filling breakfast.

Random Observation

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Where did this hair on my ears come from?

Update: And the eyebrows... hokey smokes, I'm just a sapho-juice addiction and a bad haircut away from being able to impersonate Freddie Jones in the 1984 version of Dune.

You Know (Part 5)


You know you're getting old when your little brother turns 42, as mine did yesterday.

OK, OK, so 43 isn't old, but it's older than I've ever been before.

If I'm not careful, I'll degenerate into doing a permanent Grampa Simpson routine.

Dear Mr. President, there are too many states these days. Please eliminate three. I am NOT a crackpot.
The Swedish are coming! The Swedish are coming!
You never know what people are capable of. I never thought I could shoot down a German plane. But last year, I proved myself wrong.
We can't bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...

You Know (Part 4)


You know you're having still another bad day when you drop your keys, and as you squat down to pick them up, a tearing sound is heard coming from the region of the seat of your pants.

I'm not saying that's what happened to me today... but, did it just get drafty in here?

You Know (Part 3)

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You know you're having yet another bad day when the shopping cart you're quickly pushing through the parking lot catches a wheel on a defect in the asphault and tips over, spilling your freshly-acquired groceries to the pavement.

I'm not saying that's what happened to me today... mainly, because it didn't. Not yet, at any rate. But it might be unwise for me to tempt fate.

You Know (Part 2)

You know you're having another bad day when you lock your vehicle only to then notice the keys still in the ignition and your wallet sitting on the dashboard, and subsequently spend your designated lunch period trying to get back into your vehicle without even the benefit of being able to buy a wire clothes hanger.

I'm not saying that's what happened to me today... but MacGyver would have been proud of the uses to which a removable non-retracting car radio antenna can be put. I didn't even have to bend it to pop open the rear hatch.

You Know

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You know you're having a bad day when you're nearly run off the road and killed by a school bus.

I'm not saying that's what happened to me today... but if I ever catch the driver of bus #1165, I'll probably end up being arrested for assault and/or battery.


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