The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

Last One Out, Hit The Lights!

I’m closing down The Desk.

It’s been a sweet ride.  By far, in my nearly ten years of blogging, The Blogging Affairs Desk has been my most successful attempt at shouting to the masses from my cyber-soap box.

It’s been swell.

But my domain name … whatever you wanna call it…. thing is expiring in about 30 days and WordPress makes it exceedingly difficult to re-register it.  Exceedingly.  I mean, dude, come on, I’M TRYING TO GIVE YOU MONEY!

Which is kinda the trend on this blog anyway… over the last few years.  My struggles with trying to GIVE PEOPLE MONEY have been documented far and wide.

So yeah, I figured it’s kinda time to move on to something else.  I haven’t really had much motivation to keep writing, I’ve abandoned my post over at IRdC; it was hard enough to keep THIS blog up to date, let alone churn out an article once a week for an entirely separate blog.

And I’m waist deep in training for not one, but at least TWO triathlons coming up later this year.  Couple that with work picking up, I just don’t have the time, nor the energy to sit down and churn out the quality work all my readers have come to expect from The BAD.  It’d be a disservice to put out anything less.

So yeah, with that, I’m snapping the desk lamp shut, powering down the workstation, packing up my box of shit and leaving this site to decay like unattended grapes on the vine.  Sure, I could go out with flare, like The Good Doctor did, but I hate messes, and well, my wife would be sorta pissed.

Too soon?

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my take on life as much as I enjoyed sharing it. You can still follow me on twitter, by the way, for my 140 character-at-a-time takes on life.

It’s like a condensed version of The BAD, right in your pocket.  If you’re not poor and own an iPhone.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have fifteen hours of “Parks and Recreations” saved on my DVR that need to be watched.

…Just kidding.

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March 30, 2010 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Best of The BAD: NYC 101

Another ‘Best of’ this was originally posted this past summer after reading an article in the NYTs about twin blonde-haired sisters trying to “make it” in NYC as college grads.  The article, aside from making me shake with rage, seemed to be sympathetic towards two white chicks living on the UWS, spending their days baking cookies and hanging out in Starbucks waiting for oppertunity to just waltz right in through the front door.

As a former NYer, who literally had to eat cat food off of crackers for sustenance at one point, I thought I’d inject my feelings on the article, which was originally title “Surviving NYC”.  So here it is, rebroadcast for your enjoyment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go give my wife the wake up pipe.

Enjoy.

***

It seems that nothing much in the news or in the world has gotten me very fired up lately.  Boston sports is pretty much a numb limb; an arm lifted high for so long that the blood’s drained out of it, and the body proper can no longer tell what the fingers are doing.  Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have been sniping at each other with the typical deft of an over grown four year old.  A war toils on in a waste land, etc etc etc.

So this morning – Sunday – I was flipping through the Times, when I came across this article.

If you don’t want to wade through three pages of mind numbing and frustrating bullshit, I’ll sum it up for you.  The Barry Twins, Kristie and Katie (aww) have been “struggling” to find long-term work in NYC for the last 18 months, and are starting to get discouraged by their lack of results.

Freshly out of college, the Ohio transplants have degrees in Journalism, which is akin to having a degree in Latin or VCR Repair.  It’s a useless degree in a field that shrinks daily in size like a puddle under the sun.  They aspire to be sports broadcasters, tv talk show hosts, or anything else related in the field.  According to the article they’re “flexible.”

They’ve submitted untold resumes along with freshly baked cookies.  They sit in bars or Starbucks, whining about how ‘tough” getting work in NYC is.

I don’t know where to begin.

I’ve read the article three times now, and each time I get a little more bullshit.  The first time I read through this slapped together feature piece, I thought it was a satire; some fiction to help illustrate the effects of our economy and rising unemployment rates on college kids finally entering the real world.  The Twins share an apartment with their college-attending brother and his artist friend on the Upper West Side to the tune of  nearly 3000 dollars a month.  One of the twins works three nights a week as a bar tender and rakes in 800 bucks.  The other used to bar tend, before getting fired for keeping the music “too loud.”  Now they spend their days browsing job posts on craigslist, sucking down 6 dollar Starbucks coffees, and playing the saxophone on subway platforms not for change, but for business cards.

It’s almost adorable, the naivety.

The second and third times I read through the article, I was just making myself more and more upset and flustered.  I mean, really girls?  You pull in 800 bucks a week, working three nights at a bar, and you’re not even really cute.  You should count your blessings on that alone, where the average 24 year old out-of-towner probably pulls in a fraction of that amount busting his or her ass at three jobs for a total of 60 hours a week.  I should know, because I used to be one of those 24 year olds.

The UWS apartment?  It’s a “cozy, fourth floor walk up.”  I lived in East Bumfuck Queens in a 1000 dollar a month hole in the ground with slits for windows that had a total square footage of a public bathroom, and smelled just as bad.  Starbucks and drinks at the bar?  I ate cat food off of saltines for a period of time, because I had no money.

I actually considered mugging people.

The Twins come up with cutesy ideas to try to get noticed, like sending home-made cookies with resumes, and the aforementioned sax playing for business cards.  Bitches, lesson one about living in NYC:  Cute doesn’t cut it.  NYC is the majors, it’s serious chemistry with all the charm of a dead hooker.  People literally live and die by the decisions they make in that terrible gray piss-soaked metropolis, and you’re sending cookies to HR reps?

Here’s how that’s likely going over:

HR Rep:  Hey, what the fuck are these?  (smells) Cookies?  And what’s this they’re stuck to, a resume?  Huh, not much on here to work with.  Well, I guess I’ll stick these in the break room, maybe someone will eat them.

Girls, don’t whine that in 18 months you’re not getting any bites on that ‘dream job.’  ESPN is not going to come knocking down your door because you’re the next best thing since white bread.  You have to work and earn your place in the pecking order of NYC, you are owed literally nothing.  Yes, you have friends, according to the article, that hook you up in various ways, so utilize that.  It’s called “networking.”  You meet people who know people and you keep adding them to that list.  You don’t sit on your ass all day baking treats and scanning job listings online.  You beat the pavement, you wear second hand clothes and you sure as hell don’t live ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE!

I’m almost willing to bet that they won’t even look for work outside of Manhattan.  I bet they’ve never been to Queens.  They went to Brooklyn to check out a trendy hipster bar, once.  And they probably took a cab.

The comment thread has been 50/50 where people are either supportive of the girls, or bleakly realistic.  A lot of would-be NYers, (like myself) have weighed in with their own experiences, detailing how the city eats people alive.

Again, I did three years, one of which I was pretty much on my own.  I started off by staying at a dorm while I was taking classes near Fordham, then moved into a two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with two other guys I knew from school.  I basically turned the living room into my own room, which sucked because every morning I had to turn it back into a living room again.  When that situation fizzed out about two years later, I got the aforementioned apartment in Queens while picking up work at a generic office building.  I had my own little broom closet sized office and I wore a suit every day to the tune of 11 bucks an hour with no health insurance.

But it all came to an end and I realized I couldn’t do ‘this’ anymore so I packed my shit and went back home.  And here we are today.

I admire these girls for having the balls to at least try, and I don’t necessarily blame them for being so utterly naive.  There’s no class in college that breaks it down for soon-to-be-grads.  No one to stand there and be like “oh hey, by the way, this degree isn’t going to mean jack shit in the real world.  You’re going to be bussing tables til you’re about 29, so try to keep your head up.”

NYC is for self starters and these girls certainly have the potential, however they need to head in the right direction and pay their dues.  There’s doctors and lawyers who have been living in NYC for the better part of twenty years who don’t have an UWS apartment.

My advice to The Twins:  Dye your hair brown, cut out the cutesy self entitled bullshit, stop going to Starbucks (coffee at the diner down the block is like 65 cents, there’s little to no waiting, and you won’t be surrounded by smug assholes.  This is where the real NYC winners tend to gravitate towards.  Starbucks is for tourists and college kids), and start getting guys to buy your drinks for you at bars.  You’re both female; there’s no reason why any woman in New York City should be buying their own drinks, unless she’s an ultra feminist lesbian.

Move to Brooklyn, there’s plenty of nice places for half of what you’re paying in rent, close enough to the city that you’ll be actually forced to take a bus some places.  And for the love of Christ, stop sending out cookies with resumes.

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best of The BAD: Bullet Shortage

I’m transitioning into a new gig at my job and because of this things have been and will continue to be pretty hectic for me.  So, as a service to you, the readers, I’ve pulled some of what I consider to be my best article from the past year, and I’m re-running them for a little while.

I will be running new content once a week over at IRdC, as soon as my editors send me some topics.

But yeah, in the meantime, enjoy these re-runs.  This 3000 word article ran back last summer;  it was a report on not only a nation-wide ammunition shortage, but the intricacies of a local gun show.  NPR, eat your heart out.

I hope you enjoy it.

***

I think it would be easier to find a red headed virgin in Rosalita, Mexico who wasn’t suffering from Swine Flu before I’ll ever find 9mm bullets in Southern Maine.

At least, this is what I was lead to believe last Sunday morning while traveling over fifty miles on a motorcycle when temperatures hit 83 degrees before I even left the house.

I made the tactical error of putting on a shit-ton of personal protective equipment – more than necessary, which includes UnderArmor, thick gloves, Kevlar jacket liner, etc – before ever walking out the door of my mother’s house.  By the time I got to my bike, one street over at my father’s house, I was pretty much covered in a thin sheen of sweat.

My objective was simple, though pulling it off would be a beast of a completely different temperament:  I had to find bullets for the new Glock pistol I bought the day before at the local Biddeford Gun Show, a gun show that was once the flagship gun collector’s exhibition in Southern Maine, but since the winding down of the Bush Administration, has somewhat become a shell of it’s former glory.  Gone now are the giant booths with tactical webbing-based vests and shoulder harnesses.  Displays of military-grade firepower that only Level Three Licensees can legal own, gone as well.  Even the old guy with the snow-white beard to his belt buckle, pushing a hand truck with an old Browning air-cooled .30 cal mounted machine gun was absent from the proceedings.  No, all that seemed to remain were a few logie-looking booths and venders with various instruments of death and destruction, marked up by at least 15% to as high as 50% depending on whom you were dealing with, and how exotic the piece was.

But what had returned were the crowds.  In recent years the Biddeford Gun Show’s attendance has somewhat fallen off, which in turn, diminished the level of prestige of the participating venders.  The surge in populace this year seems to stem from the current Democratic Presidential Administration, and the fears that a black Democratic President will “any day now” pass legislation abolishing the Second Amendment and send federal law enforcement officers into the homes of every Red Blooded American who owns firearms to forcibly strip the weapons from their owners, and possibly march them to a cattle car to be shipped into the wilderness in the dead of night.

This and other mythoi were being exchanged amongst the crowd of surly late-middle-aged panic-mongers in attendance at the gun show.  As I weaved through the crowd examining table after table of weaponry I overheard a number of what some could consider outlandish accusations, rumors and innuendo from those who paid seven dollars to get their hand stamped at the door.

“Any day now, Obama’s going to raid our homes and take our guns away,” grumbled one gun owner in farm-chic clothing.  Another:  “We’re only as safe as we make ourselves, no one’s going to take that away from me!”

The crowd of about one thousand constantly seemed to be teetering on the edge of full blown riot, with tensions flowing with every disgruntled half-truth that was being uttered as (mostly) men fingered cheap Spanish-imports of cloned 1911-A1 .45 ACPs and grease-packed AK47s.  Overall the mood was dark, and if you tried to inject another point of view, shed of optimism if you will, you were seen at best as a simpleton, and at worst, a spy.

I found this out when I stupidly tried to bring to the attention of one show goer who I was 90% convinced was a member of either the Klu Klux Klan or the Hell’s Angels that Mr. Obama has a little too much on his plate to deal with the issue of Second Amendment Rights at the moment, especially concerning the economy, filling out the rest of his cabinet, partisan politics, and that whole “Middle East Thing.”  I tried to assure the barbarian that if the issue was ever going to be approached, that number one, it wouldn’t be at least until the far side of two years from now, and number two, there’s far too much support against anti-firearms legislation in the country to make a significant impact on the individual gun owner.  Similar to anti-abortion, -gay rights, and -marijuana legislation, the laws enacted would be far too controversial, and no elected official would dare disenfranchise at least half of his electoral base.

“What are you?  One of those statistic-spewing faggots?”  Said the Klansman-Biker, who then worked up enough phlegm in his throat to convince me he was going to hock it into my face if I didn’t get enough room between me and him very quickly.

For the rest of the gun show I kept a very low profile.

Purchasing a firearm is still incredibly easy, despite what gun-owners in attendance would like the layperson to think.  Aside from the fact I was standing in the middle of a 100,000 square-foot converted ice arena, surrounded by tables and tables of guns with only one police officer standing duty by the front door, procuring a pistol, rifle, shotgun, authentic Nazi memorabilia from World War 2, or whatever you fancy is a matter of spending a few moments filling out a simple page of generic government paperwork (“no, I’m not a convicted felon,” and “no, I’m not addicted to any controlled substance, including marijuana” are actual questions with YES/NO boxes next to them.), submitting to a Federal Background Check through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and handing over a credit card to the federally licensed gun dealer to whom you’re giving your business to.

After haggling over the price of my Sig Sauer P230 .380 that I wanted to trade up to a Glock 19 9mm, as well as buying a new Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun (my father is moving to a trailer park in Florida later this summer, and asked if he could have my old Mossberg 500 for home defense), I tried to get the dealer to give me a “sweetheart deal” on an DPMS/Panther AR15 that he had listed for 1100 dollars.  I explained to him that being that the DPMS was a “flat top” receiver with no sights, I would have to go out and buy a sighting system at a cost of about 200-300 dollars.  I also brought up the point that I was already buying two guns off of him and if he wanted to move the products, he should cut me a deal.

He gave it some thought and came back with an offer of 950, a considerable mark down, but I figured he could do better.  On average, an AR15, which three years ago would have retailed for about 600 bucks, were going for between 975-1300 dollars at this gun show.  Getting him even below those numbers was a good deal, but I figured I had this guy on the ropes and he could go lower.

And I was right because he came down as low as 850 after a few more minutes of my complaining.  I then told him I didn’t want it and that I’d take just the pistol and shotgun, which seemed to piss him off a little (there were probably a dozen other customers standing right next to me who heard his generous offer of 850, who no doubt would sweep in on that deal after I walked away).  I realized that I had no real practical use for a high powered rifle in a dilapidated apartment complex, and that the likelihood of me shooting through our walls and into the apartment of one of the neighbors, although enticing, could cause greater legal ramifications for me down the line.

So I sat down in a metal folding chair and filled out the proper paper work.  And even though I accidentally omitted my social security number on the federal gun buyers form (I honestly usually put it down, as I’m inclined to believe that by not, if gives the BATF an excuse to deny my background request, even though it’s marked in bold letters that providing that information is completely OPTIONIONAL), less than five minutes after I put ass to chair, I was handing my credit card over to the dealer, and walking away with two highly lethal weapons that I could virtually do anything I wanted.

I just had to load them first.

I walked around the floor of the gun show a little longer and came to a booth that was selling re-loaded-at-home rounds and hefted a box of 9mms.  When the booth’s vendor told me that the box of 50-count bullets was going to cost me 25 dollars (usually a box – or “square” as it’s called in certain gun-circles – of 9mms goes for about 15-20 bucks, reloads less, obviously) I dropped the box along with my jaw and walked away.  The vender called after me, telling me that he had already sold two cases (roughly twenty boxes per case, and the case I plucked that one box out of was about down to three squares left) and would probably be sold out by tomorrow.

What he didn’t tell me was that there’s virtually no ammunition in Southern Maine at all.

Due to the fear and panic in Southern Maine, which is more “red state” than the rest of the traditionally “blue Maine” people have been buying and stockpiling ammunition in bulk at alarming and albeit, unsettling rates.  I had no clue that the case was so severe until later that afternoon, after leaving the gun show with two firearms and no ammo (making them two of the most expensive paper weights I’ve ever purchased) I headed over to the local Wal Mart, where previously I’ve bought ammo on the cheap, which is exactly what I told the ammo vender at the gun show.

Blinded by ignorance, I walked into the Wal Mart and headed back towards the Sporting Goods section.  The inside of the Wal Mart looked third-world: gutted, stripped of any semblance of that cheery yellow-smiley face conglomerate that once dominated Biddeford Crossing for the last fifteen or so years.  No, the monolith with her ever expanding parking lot seemed frail and decayed, shelving bare, what I imagine a Wal Mart in some remote part of Serbia would look like on a good day.

When I got to the Sporting Goods section I ran into another red-stater, dressed in a typical aggressively patriotic t shirt featuring wording about “colors” and “running” and a picture of a soaring eagle or something to that effect, buying a hunting license of some sort.

I don’t hunt, so I have no idea what game season is in vogue right now, but being that summer’s coming up, and Maine tends to get overpopulated with tourists during this time, something about a bald, big-eared, mouth breathing caveman buying a hunting license didn’t sit well with me.

As the clerk behind the counter diddled the register to print out the hunting license I wandered around the section looking for the display of bullets.  When I found the display, a large locked glass case, I stopped suddenly with confusion.  I turned to see if anyone was watching me, any employee that could help me, but I was alone.  So I went back to the clerk at the register and inquired with him as he finished up the total on the red-stater’s order.

“Excuse me, but are you guys like,” and I trailed off for a second.  The Budweiser-swilling tradesman was barking at his collection of children, aged 6-11, about five or six of them, and his gutturally sharp chunks of words took me off balance for a second.

“That’s strike one!” he snapped at one of his brood, who were horsing around by the register.  “One more strike and you’re not getting ice cream!”

I wanted to clear my throat and correct him, in front of his children, that you technically get three strikes, (based off of baseball or Family Feud rules) but I kept my mouth shut and went back to the clerk.

“Are you guys, like, renovating or something?  Because your ammo case back there is empty and I…” and the clerk cut me off.

“We can’t keep that shit in stock for more than a day.  We put out orders for handgun ammo, rifle ammo, you name it, at least once a week, and by the time it comes in, we have so much of the stuff on back order, that it’s all sold by the time the truck pulls up.”  Jesus, I thought, they’re hording all the goddamn bullets!

The red-stater decided to inject his opinion on the matter as well:

“It’s a real pain in the balls,” he started, his voice phlegmy and choked, as if he was speaking from underneath a boot across his windpipe.  “I’ve been buying online, you can’t get bullets anywhere, not the Wal Mart in Scarborough, the Cabelas, LL Beans, Dicks,” he went on.

I was shell shocked, in utter disbelief.  There had to be someplace I could readily buy bullets today, right now.  What if there was an emergency, and I needed to shoot someone TONIGHT!  Nothing is worse than an unloaded gun sitting by itself at home when you go out to a family restaurant with your wife and mother and spend the entire night alternating your field of view between the Red Sox/Yankees game on the tv over your head and the front door of the establishment, waiting for some barbarian to come barreling in to kill everyone on Margarita Two-fer Night.

The next morning I got up early-ish and took off on my motorcycle, with messenger bag slung around my shoulders, to try every conceivable store that would be selling ammunition.

The thought had occurred to me that I could just go back to the gun show and try my luck there.  I just didn’t want to pay out the nose for cheaply “remanufactured” bullets, given the price of admission is seven dollars, and the mark up on the ammo is about 100%.

So all morning I rode up and down US Rt 1, looking for a place that sold bullets.  I first pulled into the local Cabela’s monstrosity and found that they wouldn’t open until 10 am, which by then would be too late for me, as my mother committed me to helping my tacky aunt and uncle move “unwanted” furniture from my father’s place to their place.  So up the road I traveled still, finding myself at the Scarborough Wal Mart.

Mind you, I’m on a motorcycle, dressed in a black Kevlar jacket, black “murder” bandana around my neck, black messenger bag, black boots, black Oakley Flak Jacket HJXs, and my throat is all weird from the ride.  I stride into the Wal Mart and try to find the Sporting Goods section, but if you’ve ever been into a different Wal Mart than what you’re used to, you know that their store is SLIGHTLY laid out differently.

So after walking around a bit, I find the section and come across similar results.  I’m pretty dejected, but on my way out I find a stock girl- young, petite, blonde – with a clipboard, doing some sort of inventory.  I walk up to her and get her attention.  Immediately she’s intimidated by me; it’s all but written on her face in magic marker, so I lift my shades to my forehead so she can see I’m no threat.

“Hey, you got any ammunition out back?”  I ask.  Unbeknownst to me ahead of time, my voice comes out as if I’m Dirty Harry and I just found out my dog has rabies.  Her eyes develop a sheen of wetness and her lip trembles.  Her voice small, tinny:

“No, we’re all out,” I figured for this based on the evidence and snarl a little to myself.

“Mm, what about the Dick’s up the road?  Know anything about them?”  I unintentionally growl.

“No…” it’s like a stalking lion talking to a church mouse.

“Don’t worry,” I try to ease her obvious fear of this big biker looming over her, asking about affordable munitions.  “I’m not mad, I’m not going to kill anyone,” she lets a nervous smile slip out.  “…because I don’t have any bullets.”  Her smile fades quickly and I leave the store, watching my back on the road for the next few miles for police cars looking for a homicide-crazed lunatic on a motorbike.

I have similar results at the next few places I try, either they’re sold out or not open this early on a Sunday, and after running out of time, I head back to my mother’s house to help move furniture, which is like eating a big plate of glass shards for breakfast.

Later in the day I called what was going to be my “last resort” before being forced to pay for rounds at the gun show.  I used to work for the Kittery Trading Post, an Outdoor Outfitter in Southern Maine that I’m somewhat persona-non-grata with due to an incident in their parking lot that involved myself, a stalker, and the Kittery Police Department over two years ago.  They have a huge firearms selection, dedicating their entire second floor to just guns.  If they didn’t have ammunition I could buy, no one in Southern Maine would.

I called and after being batted around from associate to associate for ten minutes, I finally got a hold of someone on the gun floor.

“Hey, I’m trying to find 9mms, you guys got any in stock?”

“No, all we got on hand right now are .41 magnums and .22s, we can’t keep anything in stock for more than a day,” the associate said into the phone.  “Once word gets out, we get nailed.  We had a shipment of ammo on Friday and we were just about sold out last night.  You’re best bet is online,”

In the end, I went back to the gun show and bought an overpriced box of 9mms, but only because I didn’t want to travel without a loaded gun.  And to add another element of horror to my story, I thought the ammo-epidemic was contained in Maine and other-like minded ignorant locales.  No.  It’s not.

When I we finally got back to The Hook, I logged on to a few different sites that specialize in “hunting accessories” to see if I could purchase ammunition in bulk, only falling into my fellow statesmen’s hysteria half way, more concerned that the ammo crunch will continue to make getting rounds in the future difficult.  Three of the four sites I visited had handgun ammo on backorder, and another had some available, but it wasn’t anything special, just Full Metal Jacketed bullets at 115 grain.

So in the end, what does this mean?  It means I’m going to call Charles Schwab later today and buy stock in Winchester, American Federal, and UCM.

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Around The Office, Living in an Insane Asylum, Those Crazy Politicians, World Wide Events | , , | Leave a comment

Burning Down the House

We have a fireplace.

It’s the first place I’ve ever lived in with a fireplace as an adult.  When I was a kid, living in New Hampshire, we had this enormous fireplace where my father threatened to toss my toys into if I didn’t pick up after myself.  I remember many winter nights with a roaring fire, mom and dad on the couch with a drink each, and me on the rug in front of the fire with my plastic green army men that my father would in turn step on the next morning, cursing and pitching each one into the fireplace to meet a melty-end.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve craved a fireplace.  There’s something awesome about a giant flame in your living room that you can watch.  Put on any tv show, any at all, and it won’t compare to a good, well-built fire in your fireplace.  Hell, I can’t even put the tv on and have a fire at the same time.  I think it’s disrespectful to the fire gods.

So last night I had a fire going.  Ang suggested it actually, because it’s been bitterly cold around here lately.  I had some wood and some materials to burn, so fuck it, let’s have a fire.

Ang was in the kitchen making a stew and I started to load up the fireplace.  If you’ve never built a fire in a fireplace, let me break it down for you:  You need to start a base of crumpled newspapers.  Take one sheet of old newspaper and crumple into into a loose ball.  You can’t crumple it into a tight ball because oxygen won’t get inside the material and allow it to burn fully.  Instead you’ll just get little burning balls of material that won’t spread the fire.

So after you’ve crumpled up a dozen or so balls of newspaper you then set up your wood base.  Small pieces of scrap wood work best, because they’ll catch easier than say a whole log.  A log requires a lot of heat to burn through, otherwise the fire will patter out long before the log is fully engulfed and have a chance to provide you with a lasting fire.  Scrap wood will burn quick and through, generating that log heat.

After you get a good small fire going, with lots of red and orange flames, add one log at a time.  A log should be about 12 to 16 inches in length, maybe 4 to 6 inches in diameter.  Wait til the first log catches and add another.  With two logs burning, you should have enough flame to last you about an hour.  Add logs as appropriate, never letting the fire burn down to just embers.

Oh, and an important tip: make sure your flume is open BEFORE you do any of this.

But it wasn’t the flume I forgot to open last night as I started my fire.  It was the materials I was burning.

It’s somewhat bad practice to burn anything other than wood and paper in the fireplace, however I’ve burnt boxes from Xmas and last night a shoe box that was taking up room in my closet.  I had built up my fire with too much material to begin with, starting with that newspaper base and then some chunked up portions of plywood that we had once used to stiffen up our bed when we couldn’t fit the boxspring in our old apartment.  I had used three sections of this chopped up plywood to make a small A-frame in the fireplace, with the paper underneath everything and the shoebox under the two pieces making the “roof” of the A-frame.

Obviously everything caught, and burnt fast.  Before I knew it, flames were licking out of the metal screen and onto the hearth.  Thankfully we don’t have a mantle.

Ang, becoming concerned with the amount of smoke and brightness of the fire took one look at the fireplace and immediately bailed out of the house.  The smoke detector started to go off which led the dog to freak out.  Meanwhile, I started to fill up the smallest fucking measuring cup we own with water to help knock down the flames.

After about five attempts with the measuring cup and a scorched finger later, the materials in the fireplace were soaking in about an inch of water, crackling, pitching embers out of the flume.  I waved the smoke away from the smoke detector and Ang came back in.

If I could see through the smoke, I’m sure I would’ve seen Ang giving me that look that every wife spends hours a day perfecting; that “you know you fucked up, right?” look.

I cleared my throat, eyes burning a bit, finger tip throbbing.  “Uh, I’m gonna go do those dishes…”

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, The Great Indoors | , , | 1 Comment

Why Being Late for a Wedding Can be a Good Thing

There was that air of tension for a brief second where I knew, before she even said it, that we were going to have to turn around.

My wife Ang and I were on our way to my Cousin Jaime’s wedding in Maine this past weekend.  I’d been at a training school for work all week and on Friday after school we took off to Maine.  Everything was fine.

But sometime during the night, when the temperatures in Southern Maine dropped down below zero, Ang’s Prius decided to do what any wild beast would do in those temperatures a have a fucking stroke.  The next morning, the (thankfully) less expensive of the two Prius’s batteries had shit the bed.  We found this out half-way to the wedding.

First off, a compliant:  Who the hell has a late-morning wedding?  When I woke up that morning, obviously not knowing what time the wedding was, I called Jaime’s father Uncle John (she probably refers to him as “dad” but…) to ask what time the wedding was.  I was shocked that at 9 in the morning he told me it was at “eleven, but you might want to get there at 1030ish”.  Damnit!

So we rushed, got showered and dressed at my mom’s house a few towns over and took off.  We were halfway there when I realized I didn’t have any dashboard read out.

If you’ve never piloted a Prius before, it’s all digital read outs on the dash.  No dials.  At first I thought I had the little dimmer switch turned down for some reason, but that wasn’t it.  Then I thought it might’ve been an optical illusion produced by my polarized sunglasses and the sun or something, and when I pulled my shades down, all I saw was black.

The car was still running though, and we pulled over to the side of Main Street to see if it was something we could fix if we just turned the car off and back on again.  I pushed the ignition button and got no response.  Queue panic from my wife.

God bless her, but if anything happens to her car she wigs out.  So now it’s all tense, we need to be at this wedding, very little time to spare and Ang says “turn back to your mother’s.”

Fuck!

We get back and, knowing nothing about cars, let alone Hybrids, I start googling “Prius + Problems + Cold Weather” and get a bunch of Toyota forums about people in high altitude/cold weather areas having significant ignition and battery problems with their Priuses(i?)

Ang takes the more direct approach and calls the dealership from where she bought the car directly.  After a few minutes of on-the-phone diagnostics, we discover that one of the two batteries the Prius runs on is likely dead or close to it.  We need to get to a dealership, stat, to replace said battery.

So about ten minutes going the opposite direction, we get to a dealership and all is taken care of.  By the time we’re back on the road, the ceremony is definitely over.  We can still make the reception, which I guess is at the same place as the wedding.

At this point, I should tell you about the funny feeling I get when I have to deal with my extended family.

Things have always been a little awkward with my dad’s side of the family, even from when I was a kid.  I don’t really understand why this is, and I simply accept it.  The family is large and I hardly know any of my relatives except the “cool ones” who have achieved this status either by showing some signs of kindness towards me or just by giving me butt-loads of cash during the holidays.  Whenever I come around, I feel like I have nothing to say, and things suddenly become very awkward.  Instantly, the tough-talking, ass-kicking, moderately successful man with the swagger of a guy who gets paid to knock people out is diminished to that clumsy, mush-mouthed 13 year old from fifteen years ago any time my Aunt Peggy comes around.  I can’t explain it.

We pull up to the reception hall and I’m instantly relieved that I listened to my wife’s advice and didn’t wear my three piece suit to this thing, and instead opted for a cashmere sweater and slacks: nearly everyone was in denim and sweatshirts, save a few adults who managed to put on some business-casual button-down shirts.  The only ties were being worn by members of the groom’s wedding party; they were dressed in rental black and red three pieces and looked more Ska band than Groomsmen.

Likewise, bridesmaids were dressed in some sort of Katy Perry-like tube dresses and black lace fingerless gloves with red lace accents.  My cousin did look gorgeous in her white wedding gown, complete with a pair of black and white Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

Oh yeah, and everyone was shitfaced.

As soon as we walked in, I was greeted by the bulk of my extended family.  Hugs were had all around, our gift was taken from us, and slowly, like a spreading pool of blood, the awkwardness set in.

First I had to apologize about a million times for being late.  Next I had to explain why I was wearing hiking boots and not decent shoes (I had forgot to pack them) when nearly everyone else was in loafers at best, gym shoes at worst.  To compound things, the inevitably and albeit obligatory questions about my mother and father started to surface:

“Is your mom going to make it?”

“How’s your father?”

“What’s going on with them?”

These weren’t the usual questions asked out of absenteeism.  No, they knew exactly what’s going on with my mother and father and the nasty separation/divorce.  The know all about my father’s self-exile to some remote campground out in NH and my mother’s slipping sanity.  They just wanted the gossip.

“Oh, I see your mother all the time at the Shaw’s” one of my aunt’s said.  “Awesome?”  I say in return.  I mean, what else can I say?   Then Jaime finally made her way over.

Blitzed, she punched me in the chest and with thick tongue said “you missed the wedding, ass.”  I felt about >< this tall.

To make matters worse, her younger brother Josh, whom I haven’t seen in YEARS swings by and gives me a hug.  I don’t recognize him and it’s not until later that Ang points him out to me.  Again, I feel about as tall as my boot laces.

We eventually sit with a pair of watered down beers at a table away from my family.  Joining us is a remote friend of Jaime’s whom she used to work with, and her husband Greg.  The woman (I can’t remember her name) came across like Sarah Palin (she disclosed that she went as Palin for Halloween this past year) only drunk.  Both couples had a lot in common and I could see Ang and I becoming this couple in roughly five years.  I kinda wish now I had gotten their contact info.  They were cool.

After nursing our one beer each (we had no cash for tipping at the open bar, and I felt like a shitheel for not tipping on the two watered down Natty-Ice’s) and eating some finger food, we left, promising we’d see everyone at the “after-party.”  Obviously, we didn’t intend to be at the after party.

The more distance I put us between my family the better I felt.  I knew the night before this wedding wasn’t something I wanted to really be a part of, but out of love for my cousin, who I treat more like a distant sister, I manned up.  For forty minutes.

In the end, being late for the wedding should’ve come across as some sort of omen; being late should’ve told us to phone it in, send out the gift via certified first class mail and send a heart-felt apology letter.  It would’ve been easier on my psyche.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Highway to Hell

If such a crayon existed called “Surprised” you could take it out of the box, stick it into that sharpener on the backside, and then color me with it once I found out that my commute didn’t make the top 75 Worst Commutes in America, according to The Daily Beast

Of course, anyone and everyone who commutes to and from work tends to think theirs is the worst commute imaginable.  That is, unless of course you either A) are flown by private jet everywhere you go, or B) move through a secret tunnel system, utilizing not-yet-known underground tube technology ala Dick Cheney.

It’s relative, is what I’m saying.

But my commute, in all honesty, is balls.  First, if you take a look at the list, there’s some real imaginable nightmares in the top few.  I’ve been on the Hollywood Freeway out in LA and I recognize a total clusterfuck when I see one, as well as the SE X’way just outside of Boston (one of two systems that got mentioned on the list which were from New England, the other being in RI).  Boston, famous for it’s ‘Big Dig’ from the 70s through the 90s, is well known to be a maze of on and off ramps, ever changing exit numbers, and confusing instructions for your exit mounted on overhead signage planted a mere 400 meters from the exit in question.

But the point I want to make here is that RT 6 on Cape Cod should’ve made this list of the top 75.  If you’ve never had the joy (read: bleeding face-feeling) of having to navigate the main artery of Cape Cod let me break it down for you:

There’s only three real ways to get from point A to B on Cape Cod: US RT 6, 6A (which is the old RT 6) and RT 28.  Route 6 is the traditional highway which in places splits into four lanes (two each way) but for the most part is two lanes (one each way) divided by some pithy plastic sticks.  Route 6 is so nicknamed “Suicide Alley” by the people who are forced to use it on a daily basis, because of the high average of fatalities found on it.  Read the local paper and you’ll see that at least once a day there’s a major crash in or around RT 6.

6A and 28 are clogged, serpentine alternatives lined with shops, stores and in the case of Dennisport, a small village along the southern mid-coast of Cape Cod; a dilapidated shantytown of boarded up stores and child molesters.  In the summers, these two routes are largely parking lot death traps as you’ll be cruising at 40 mph and be forced to slam on your breaks as the doofus with Jersey tags in front of you is stopping suddenly to pull into one of the ten thousand fried seafood and soft serve ice cream stands you’ll find littered up and down both routes.

Fall provides a slight reprieve from the summer time buffoonery of the Off-Codders and tourists who flood the main corridor trying to get to beaches and t shirt stores and otherwise clog up your commute.  However, like a stay of execution, the reprieve is short lived because when the foliage starts to change from the lush greens to the brake light red, traffic cone orange and construction worker vest yellow of the Fall season, the cars with the funny license plates return to make a ten minute drive across town into a half hour mind bender where thoughts from homicide to suicide race through a motorists head.

Winter is no picnic either, as Massachusetts as a whole refuses to salt their roadways, and instead use sand which contain fist-sized boulders within.  As you drive thirty or forty feet behind someone, expect to see cracks and pits in your windshield developing as rocks pelt your vehicle like small arms fire in the narrow streets of Baghdad.

Also, they don’t really “plow” on Cape.  They kinda “scrape” the top layer of shit off the roadways, leaving this packed bullshit snow over the roads which are completely impassable in anything less than four wheel drive/tank treads.

When the roads are clear, unless you’re driving really early in the morning (this is me, fortunately, on my way into my office) or really late at night, expect to be caught behind some nutsack holding the throttle steady at exactly five miles under the speed limit for the next twenty miles.  This ballbag will be utterly oblivious to the growing train of cars piloted by pissed off denizens of Cape Cod forming behind him/her, and will refuse to pull over to the side to let people by.  And forget waiting to pass them on a broken yellow line, as every opportunity to do so will be thwarted by on-coming traffic.

This, and the fact that drivers on Cape Cod have a habit of not paying attention to dick, is why I got rid of my motorcycle last Fall.

According to Google, I live 38 minutes from my office.  I suspect Google Maps gets that number assuming I’m doing about 50 mph and sprinkling in the occasional stop sign or red light.  In relation to this information, it’s not entirely inaccurate for this time of year.  Though, come summer time, I can expect my commute, mid-day (when I’d normally be coming home) to be triple to quadruple that amount of time, just based off of the congestion of traffic alone.  If there’s some asinine parade going on in town or the Fourth of July weekend, I can expect to get home faster if I hoof it.

And out of everyone at my office, I live third closest… we’ve got guys who travel from well over 100 miles away who work here.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About | , , , | 1 Comment

The Good Out of the Bad

Last night I posted this on my Facebook wall:

“I know I’ll catch shit for this: that earthquake was the best thing that could happen to Haiti.  There, I said it.”

On it’s surface the comment reads somewhat callously.  White guy in New England who’s never experienced an earthquake of any kind, let alone in the middle of a third-world country, making a snide remark about how likely the event IMPROVED the infrastructure of the tiny shared island nation.

However, I assure you, Glen Beck I am not.

No, what I wanted to do was set a trap; a trap I knew that my highly reactionary wife would step right into and spring, which would lead me to writing this article.

Within a few hours of me posting my comment, she fired back with some CNN.com article describing the death and destruction in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capitol.  I’m sure she sat there, on our tattered couch, laptop on pillow on lap, in smug satisfaction as she clicked “send” thinking to herself “I’ll show him.”

Ah, huh.

No, obviously even without an Act of God Haiti is a tragedy.  A country run by General Who-Knows as he’s known to the local population, and Who-Cares by anyone living outside of it.  It’s a nation who shares an island with the Dominican Republic, which if you’ve ever had to live next door to Dominicans, you should know how dreadful a situations that is anyway.

The infrastructure of Haiti is piece-meal at best.  Is it any wonder that when an earthquake a whole point higher on the Richter Scale hits San Francisco, everyone in the Bay Area shrugs it off with a chuckle, but when an earthquake of slightly minor proportions hits Haiti, there’s a triple digit deathtoll (now quad-digit as of pub-time -ed)?

That’s because Haiti is literally being held together with corrugated steel, mud and straw bricks and chicken wire.  These poor people live in the minimalist of conditions, and I’m not talking about exposed brick and white space.  They have NOTHING.  They have our thrown away clothing on their backs and wobbly tables with nails sticking out of it to eat off of.  Their literacy rate hovers around the same numbers as my body fat percentage.  Of course we shouldn’t be surprised when there’s a significant loss of life in Haiti as the result of a natural disaster.

Why is this “good for Haiti” then?

Because when was the last time you even THOUGHT of Haiti before this earthquake hit?  As an American, sitting at home on the world wide web that you take for granted, reading blogs about the battle between Conan O’Brien and NBC, until yesterday you didn’t give two shits about Haiti or it’s people.

Don’t worry though, it doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, but it does tend to put things into perspective.  These people, who would lose their homes even on a gusty day, have real problems.  You know what the biggest problem in my life is right now?  Fucking Comcast.  A cable company who I feel is screwing me over around every corner.  In Haiti, they don’t even have cable!  Over half the population doesn’t even have electricity or running water, for chrissakes!

Now, because of this earthquake, developed nations like the US, Canada, etc are going to be flooding Haiti with supplies like food and fresh water, electrical generators, man power to remove rubble and debris, medics and doctors to treat the sick and wounded.  We have fucking firefighters flying out from California, the closest thing we have to a third-world-like government, to help the Haitians.

So yeah, I’m sorry that it took an act of God to get Americans, let alone the rest of the world, to lift their heads out of their asses long enough to pay attention to a backwards country, but I tend to be an optimist.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Shameless Self Promotion, World Wide Events | , , , | 2 Comments

FNG

FNG (Military Jargon, noun, pronounced Eff-En-Gee): Inexperienced personnel that requires extensive training and supervision; Fucking New Guy, see also: Rookie.

Where I work there’s a high rate of turn over.  People come and people go like the breeze.  Of course, as a product of this, we’re always getting a new guy who is absolutely clueless as to what’s going on.

I come back from being away for pretty much a month to find in my office this kid.  And by “kid” I mean this guy is 18 years old, fresh out of where ever he came from, complete with teenage acne, patchy facial hair and a lack of eye contact.  His stature is smaller than my 120 lb, 5’4″ wife.  My waist line is probably the same as his chest size (32 inches).  He looks lost and confused, stuck behind my desk like a wadded up bad idea that didn’t make it to the trash can.

Jesus.

“Who are you?”  I ask.  He gives me his name, not with a lot of confidence but not exactly whispering it either.  I ask him what the hell he’s doing in my office and he tells me that he was told to come here so I could help train him, make him the man that I am.  I smile, pull my hoodie off from my head to reveal my vacation Mohawk, drop my bag and walk to down to my little room where I change clothes and use the bathroom.

I find out that one of my superiors has passed the buck to me to train this guy.  He, the superior, sugar coats his reasoning to me as I’m standing in front of him with a frothy toothbrush hanging out of my mouth.

“Jim, you’re the best we got in your department.  I don’t have the time to sit down and show this kid the ropes, it’s up to you.  He’s your pet now.”  I’m told.  I reply back that I already have a 50 lb Labrador that thinks it’s a lapdog, I don’t need another.  As he walks away, my superior curtly tells me to “get it done” and not in the ironic Larry the Cable Guy way either.

So I come back to my office and I’m looking at this kid.  He tells me his name and I tell him mine and we go from there.  He has a lot of questions about me (which I sort’ve fend off), about our work (which I try not to be negative about, but I don’t sugar coat it either) and what’s to be expected of him.  To this I tell him:

“Just show up on time, ready to work.  Have a good attitude even in the shittiest of situations, be prepared to take criticism, and learn from your mistakes.”  All generic advice, but advice I should probably learn to take as well.

I was once the ‘new guy’ too, and probably shared this kid’s ridiculous sense of nervousness.  Two months ago this guy was probably busying himself with Xbox and skateboards or whatever it is kids do now-a-days.  Now he’s showing up to work with his first very own real apartment that he’s just realizing that he has to fully furnish.

True story, when I dropped that bit of knowledge on him, he looked like I just hit him in the chest with a baseball bat.

“You mean they don’t furnish the apartments?”  He asked.

“Well, I mean, some they do, but usually not.  I mean, there’s going to be appliances and shit, but-”

“Like a blender?”

“What?”

“You said appliances…”

“Yeah, like a stove and a fridge…”

“Oh.  So like a couch?”

“No, that’s furniture, that’s not an appliance.”

“Oh.”

Wow.

I’m ten years older than this kid, so I can’t talk to you like I grew up in the ‘old days’ but seriously, I was kinda-sorta on my own by his age, living a few states away and getting by just fine.  I didn’t know how the world worked then, and even now I only have half a clue.  The difference between Me Now and Me Then is that now I know where to look for answers to life’s questions, like ‘when can I contribute to my IRA again for 2010’ and ‘How fucking fast does a cheetah run?”

I go to Google.

This kid hasn’t figured that out yet, and it’s up to me to show him.

It’s an amazing amount of responsibility, and it’s not a task I feel like undertaking with my usual blasé approach .  The last time I took a kid under my wing it resulted in him going overseas to fight pirates in the Gulf of Aden.  Do I want to be responsible for telling this kid’s parents that their son got shanked by some opportunistic jihadist with a hatred of corn-fed Americans and a love of sharp knives?  No.  Absolutely not.

That and I don’t want this kid to pick up my bad habits, which I’m sure he will anyway.  I don’t want him to have my sour attitude or my apparent lack of serious maturity.  As another one of my co-workers put it, when they learned I was going to be sitting on this egg of an FNG until he hatched into a productive member of our team: “He’s going to learn all the bad things you do, but hopefully, he’ll learn all the good things you do around here, too.”

It’s just a process that I’m becoming all too familiar with.  It’s a cycle, because likely, in 6 months, this kid will have moved on to bigger and better things, and I’ll be walking into my office to stare at the next little fucker that’s come down the line.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Around The Office, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Smells Like Children | , | Leave a comment

TidBits: New Year’s Edition

Comcast, again:

Honestly, their website sucks.  I’m actually finding this more often than not:  Companies will hand the reigns over to some third-party website people who take all the stress of maintaining a reliable website off the hands of the company, and in turn, make things absolutely hellish on customers.

To wit:  I’m trying to pay all my bills (online of course, …I haven’t bought a book of stamps since like, 1996) and when I get to Comcast’s site from clicking the link in the email, it brings me to the log-on screen I’m familiar with.  I pump in my info, and then I’m brought to another log-on on screen.

This log-on screen tells me that I’m logging into ‘My Sign-In’ which will keep me logged into “all of Comcasts other great sites!”, what these are I have no clue, but apparently my log-in information is still the same, so I pump it in AGAIN, and am brought to a screen that tells me “account cannot be access because user has failed to make account secure.”

Ooohkay…. what?

I’ve been an unfortunate subscriber to Comcast for over two years now, and I think they’re giving me a heart attack on purpose.  It seems that any time I alter my service just a little bit, all sorts of wild shit gets fucked up days or even weeks later.  You’d think a company as big as Comcast (they just BOUGHT NBC from General Electric for chrissakes,) would have their shit together enough so where a customer like myself logs in, all their information would be right there in front of them, and not be led about the nose through a maze of log-in screens only to find out that for some reason they don’t have your account information.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to GIVE money to some one or service, and not be able to do so.  I wish I could just not pay it, and be like “fuck you and your website,” but then they’d just shut our shit down.

By the way, from all the button clicking and navigating around that site, there appears to be no way to confirm or “secure” the account, resulting in my having to call them eventually later today.  Great, now I get to spend half an hour later today dealing with some prick on the phone just to give them 150 bucks.

I still don’t understand why I don’t just cancel my account and live without all this bullshit.

Other Movie-Goers:

Last night, in celebration of our one year anniversary, Ang and I went out to the local theatre to see “Sherlock Holmes.”  We never go to the movies, which was puzzling to me until last night.

I forgot about how when you go out to the movies, usually there’s going to be other people there, and these people are usually not very considerate of other movie goers.

I’m one of those types of people who like to get to the theatre a little early, get soda and popcorn, get good seats, and have the conversation while the stupid movie trivia is playing on the screen.  If you haven’t figured out by now from reading all my blogs, I’m sort’ve anal-retentive about shit.  I like to be comfortable long before the movie or even the previews start.

So imagine the bullshit rage I flip into when people show up late, stumbling through the dark after the house lights have dropped and there’s shit on the screen.  Imagine me going for my pistol when those asshole make a a bee-line for the seats directly behind us, and then engage in some stupid conversation.

It started off brilliantly: we arrived ten minutes early, got our snacks out, settled in.  There were only two or three other couples and everyone was spread out.  We had seats on the left hand side, back-middle, where we’d be able to take in the whole screen without being overwhelmed.

Then this family of five came in, two adults three children, all of them yapping.  Nothing had started yet, so it wasn’t a big deal, but they sat directly across the aisle from us.  Aggravation level is at about a 3.

The lights drop, more people shuffle in under the wire, aggravation level rising to 5, like, come on people, get it together.

Then, at the start of the “Iron Man 2” trailer, these three girls show up, late teens, early 20s, and sit DIRECTLY BEHIND US, put their feet up, and start fucking talking about whatever conversation they had started in the parking lot outside.  Aggravation level now around an 8.

We get up and move, making a big deal about it.  I’m wearing a mohawk and skinny jeans, and want to say some shit to these people like a skanky punk would, but I don’t, I just show them my ass as we shuffle out of the seats.  We take seats further down and on the right hand side of the aisle, slightly too close to the screen, so I’m craning my neck up, being bombarded by all the wild shit going on on the screen.  Aggravation level at critical.

In my heart of hearts I wish I had a plank of wood with nails in the end of it to brandish at idiots.  Maybe a cricket bat or something.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Smells Like Children, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sins of a Dog Owner

It’s Xmas morning when the following takes place:

It was roughly like 0930 and the wife and I had opened all our gifts, put coffee on, and were in this post-Xmas morning glow.  That kinda awe when you realize that the other person got you way too much awesome shit.  It was during this period when I decided it would be a good idea to take the dog for a quick walk.

The schedule we keep Ivy, our yellow lab, is in two parts:  She’ll get me up between 0600 and 0700 to be let out to pee and eat breakfast.  While this is going on, I’ll feed the ferrets and get my bearings.  I’ll work for a bit, either in my office or in front of the tv and usually by 0900-1000 she’ll want to go outside again to take a big shit.

Since living at our last place, I’ve neglected to put Ivy on a leash.  I hate leashes, I think they’re a pain in the ass.  Ivy isn’t the type of dog that ‘walks you’ instead of you walking her, but she does tend to dawdle at every piss-soaked piece of sidewalk between here and where ever we’re going, which sucks when it’s below 30 degrees outside.  Without the leash, I can keep walking forward (and keep warm) and she’ll usually catch up once I’ve gone maybe fifty feet ahead.

This is also ideal for when Ang and I go hiking.  Ivy can sniff whatever she wants and we can keep up our pace.  We seldom run into other dogs on the trails, but if we do, usually they’re unleashed too, and never does anything negative or “bad” happen.

So where we moved to, we’re a bit out of the way in a sleepy neighborhood at the end of a cul de sac.  We have a front yard and a long dirt driveway and 4/5s the time, Ivy’s really good about staying within those confines.  But lately, she’s taking her liberty too far.

I would let her out but stand by the door “just in case” she decided to follow a scent too far into the woods around our house.  Many times I’ve been putting on a sweater and slipping into my boat shoes after waiting for up to ten minutes by the door (which is my self-imposed time limit) to hear her jingling collar coming up the driveway through the darkness.  Where she went, who knows, but at least she came back.  This is definitely problematic.

So back to what I was talking about on Xmas morning.  I again, forgo a leash because I figure we’re gonna go out, come back, all within like ten minutes.  None of the few neighbors I have would likely be out and Ivy can run around in the snow drifts, do her dirty business, and we can get back to play with all the shit I got for Xmas within those ten minutes.

Of course when we get to the end of the driveway, the old miserable lonely cunt next door is out there with her 400 lb German Shepherd, a dog that needs to be groomed worse than Joaquin Phoenix’s face.

Obviously I don’t like the woman.  I’ve had minor interactions with her before and she’s awkward and annoying.  She’s preachy like an old spinster would be.  She keeps her equally long driveway entrance blocked by parking her Buick right at the end of it.  Her giant Shep is aggressive, but leashed.

So as we come around the bend in our driveway, of course Ivy see’s him.

She doesn’t have issues with other dogs, usually.  Usually she just ignores them.  But this other dog starts yanking on his leash and barking.  And being that I have Ivy off of a leash, I kinda trot up along side her to grab her collar in case she decides to go bluddy loony tunes all of a sudden.

I greet the woman with a hearty “merry xmas” and she says nothing.  Her dog is barking and freaking the fuck out.  I bring Ivy close so they can sniff each other in the hopes the dog relaxes and we can all move on.  Instead of saying “merry xmas” back or even “good morning” she says in this bitchy tone:  “Don’t you have a leash.”

Notice no “?”.  She spoke it like a comment or an order.  I try to play the role of a plaintive dog owner and instead of going into a big long thing about my personal belief’s regarding leashes, I just say “ah, yeah, but I couldn’t find it and she had to go,” and to this the woman says “you know, ___________ (our town) has leash laws, you could get fined and your dog could get taken away by animal control.”

That last bit, to me, sounded like a fucking threat.  I smile, wish her a merry xmas again, and pull Ivy away up the street so she can do her business, literally putting this miserable woman behind us.

The next thing is that Ivy typically doesn’t just shit “anywhere.”  She goes out of her way to find someplace where people typically won’t walk.  Although this might be on someone else’s property, it’s practically never on their front lawn or driveway, but more along the sides of the property, in a tree line or in some bushes.  I have no personal hang ups about this at all.

So as Ivy bounded into someone’s yard to sniff out a patch to poop on, this woman comes around the corner with her shepherd.  She’s looking at me, and then looks over at Ivy, who’s in a squatting position, right on this neighbor’s front lawn.  She couldn’t have picked a worse time to deviate from her normal pooping procedures.

I smile some dumb smile, shrugging my shoulders as if to say “what can you do” and fully prepare myself to get a tongue-lashing from this woman at best, and and at worse, the cops called on me.

“That’s not right,” she says to me.  I have to agree.  Ivy finishes, shakes, and comes trotting back to me.  We leave.

“You’re not going to pick it up?!”  She calls after us.

My number one sin as a dog owner is that I’m not a poop picker-upper.  We don’t live in a built up area, Ivy doesn’t shit where people would normally walk.  Even though this particular time she shat right in someone’s front lawn, there was snow covering every thing and the shit would be gone within 24 hours, I’m sure.  I’m not one of those people who carry little baggies with them where ever they go just to bend over and carry dog shit with them until they find a receptacle.  Sorry, I won’t do it.

If that makes me a bad dog owner, then fine, whatever.  But I’m not mistreating my dog, I’m mistreating the people who live around us, there’s a difference.  As someone once said: the more time I spend with my dog, the less I like people.

Or something like that.

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Out and About, People I Hate, Puppy Tales | , , , , , | 1 Comment