My Two Boys

The unthinkable has happened -- I purchased a new car! For any of you who knew Tyler, my lil MINI Cooper, this is probably a big shock to your system. Trust me, I was just as jolted by the experience, and even after a week with Andrew, my brand new Mazdaspeed 3, I still ask myself at times, "What the hell did I do??"

Let's fall back to the expostition from that jarring climax. My family likes to test drive cars. For some time, I had been considering an upgrade to the new turbo-charged 2007 MINI Cooper S. I've always somewhat regretted getting the automatic transmission, yet didn't have the guts to get it with Tyler. Despite that, I loved my MINI.

Anyway, I was both impressed and a bit disappointed with the new features on the 07 MINIs. I won't boggle you with the details, but
suffice it to say, I felt like I'd be settling on features that I'm a stickler about. What can I say, I'm a fickle old thing. I've had my eye on the Subaru WRX for quite a while, even when I was shopping around pre-Tyler. And now I was thinking WRX Sport Wagon. During Thanksgiving back in Ohio, I was set for a test drive. I looked up the consumer ratings on the WRX and they were abysmal! Even more disappointment. I noticed the Mazda 3 in the category of similar cars and checked it out. It was a recommended Best Buy with superb ratings, and new for 2007, there was a turbo-charged 6 speed manual model! I logged onto Mazda's website and built my very own Mazdaspeed 3, free of charge. And it had all the features I have really wanted.

Next day, Vick, Greg, and I head to the dealership. As it's no likely shocker, I don't care for most car salesman. They can be a smarmy, slickster old bunch. I was fortunate when I met Mr. Knox
because he was the best kind of salesman -- laid back, quiet, and no pressure. He said they actually had one Mazdaspeed on the lot, and he was surprised because they were very popular. I notice it is black, my requisite color. I check out the rap sheet, and it has every single feature I wanted, not one more or less!! Was this kizmet?

We drove the car and all loved it. This car has some g-force action when the turbo kicks in! It has nice leather and cloth seats, an ipod hook-up, sweet cockpit gauges, Bose sound system, xenon headlights, and some sexy lines and style to it. Well, things progressed, I decided to talk more with Mr. Knox, and everything just felt right. I was offered more for Tyler than I owed on him. Before I knew it, I had decided to move forward with the purchase and trade-in.

I have to say, it was hard to see Tyler go. We've had great times together. The Miss MINI Chambana 4th of July Parade. All the MINI rallies I've attended. The motoring experiences we've had. You can say it's only a car, but the MINI had a culture around it. It was truly fun. I met so many great people from around the state and here in town. They are my friends. In some ways it will be sad to not be a part of that. But in all, I now have a car that is sporty, practical, and even more fun to motor in.

As I said, everyone has been stunned at the change. But the story tells it all...well, that and a short race around town! I know that JP the British Boss was at a loss. He was impressed with Andrew, yet he was a little sad about my withdrawal from MINI culture. But that bum hadn't been to a rally in who knows how long, so work through it, old bean!

Mike took the sleek photo below of Andrew and his new friend. During the shoot, this black cat sauntered up to check out Andrew.
She sniffed his tailpipe, and must have thought him a tomcat because she kept sassing around him. It's clear that Andrew's hotness transcends species!

And with each day, my driving improves. I was a bit of a clutch klutz in the beginning, but I'm on my way to being a pro. I've learned you can't really start off in third gear. You can't get flustered in traffic. Herky-jerky shifting is to be expected. Manual transmissions are indeed a lot of fun to drive!! I'm addicted to shifting now : )

Detective Army on the Beat

I recently promoted myself from gumshoe to professional investigator (the peeps in our community are no longer hip to the busted moniker of private investigator). My comeupance was all due to my crack skills of sleuthing, observation, intuition, and a little thing I like to call artistic integrity. That's right, I am otherwise proficient in the clandestine arts.

I reported in a previous post about this epic dream my brain conjured one night. In it, I mentioned a particular mystery perplexing my home - I had been finding empty peanut shells all over my property. Not enough for an epidemic, few enough to evade notice at first. Once detected, I found them on my driveway, in my yard, in the back, in the front, on the side. Did I have a resident squirrel with a housekeeping problem? Was there an elephant in the room I wasn't noticing? Could it be a litterbug? I donned my Sherlock Holmes hat, lit my drop style pipe, and positioned my magnifying glass before my right eye. I was on the case.

At first, it was all red herrings and dead ends. I balked at my TV peers Angela, Columbo, and Perry. I couldn't wrap up this mystery in 44 minutes with commercial breaks. My thinking started to cloud. Everything became a clue to me. Everyone had a motive - the postman, the garbage haulers, the woman waiting for the bus. And they were all in cahoots. Suspicion became my shadow, following me around, always begging more questions and pointing fingers. I was in search of justice in an imperfect world. The case consumed my life. I had to crack the mystery soon, or I would become empty inside, like those broken peanut hulls.

I had decided to rake my yard to get my mind off of things. An idle mind wanders. I had to involve myself in some absorbing errand. During my respite, the neighbor behind me stepped out of his front door. He is an elderly gentleman who takes walks regularly around the block. He has this wheeled walker he uses to remain stablized. As he approached me, we started chatting about leaves, allergies, and weather. It was a pleasant conversation. He was so disarming, I let my guard down. The case took retreat from my mind. It was a mistake. Once your vigilance weakens, the criminal evades your gaze, slips into a shadow, retreating into the night, disappearing with abbra-cadabbra.

Perched within the confines of the neighbor's walking machine, I found the smoking gun. The nexus of my nightmares, the origin of the case. The beginning and the end. Peanuts. Shells and all. I had ignored the gentle "elephant" in the room. Any good detective will tell you that no one is above suspicion. I had overlooked Mr. Walker. With such a critical error, I called my own ability into question.

The case was solved, but the resolution was bittersweet. After I finished raking my leaves, I went inside to hang up my detective gear. Justice was restored, but at what cost? I'm not sure when I'll be ready to return to the beat. Perhaps I wouldn't. But deep down, I knew the call of the mystery would eventually bring me back. It was in my blood. For now, it lay dormant, waiting for soul searching, for an innter redemption of my resolve.

There Goes The Neighborhood

Literally, my neighborhood is vanishing before my eyes. I received two separate letters from the city within a week of each other. The first letter informed me that a city tree on my property was being removed because of its poor health. Not sure which tree it is, as there are four "city" trees on my land, which I can only assume are the trees between the sidewalk and the street. It's either the big guy who sheds bark like my brother's sharpei... or it's the lil guy next to my driveway with the white circle on it. I think the lil guy has been tagged for the chipper... he doesn't look all sickly, but I'm not the City Arborist (yes, it was capitalized in the letter). So what do I know?

For a $20 fee, I can "apply" for a replacement tree and select from a list of choices. Then this fancy City Arborist will review my application, assess my land, and pass almighty judgement. If this Godfather of Flora approves, I'll get my tree replacement... WITHIN TWO YEARS! Let's not put too fine a point on it! Freakin' mob syndicate. Try planting a Gofuqurself Palm. Two years.

Then I get another notice, initially thinking its more shady dealing of this City Arborist, but I find a map inside. Hmm. I turn it over and see a House Moving Notice. One of my neighbors is applying to physically move their house. And I can make comments at some City Council meeting. How about, don't crash into my house while you're at it, but if you happen to doze through the sickly tree, no foul. I think it will be cool to watch the house uprooted and whisked away -- I'll definitely throw a House Moving party with some front-row seats!

What I find most humorous is that the house moving project will occur "sometime prior to December 30, 2006!" They can move an entire house within a month but the tree, well, may take a few years. Oh well. You can't fight City Hall.

Etymology of Inappropriate Things

If you haven't read on the news wire, my boss JP is a bit British. He's a Welshman actually. And as a result, he has a penchant for busting out the Britishism, often leaving us with contorted faces, sideways glances, and the proverbial scratched heads.

He'll toss in words/phrases like mollycoddled, dross, knackered, cocking a snoot, smarmy, and loads others I can't recall. JP is a nut, god bless him!

Today was an especially funny/dirtay circumstance involving such diction.

Backstory: I bought the new Staind DVD for Sylvia last night whilst out at Best Buy and dropped it in her work mailbox today.

Story: I am doing my job, walking through our kitchen (in the House That Asbestos Built) and overhear JP and Sylvia talking about the word buggery. Yes, most appropriate work chat, but that's JP for you. Apparently Sylvia asked him about it because he dropped a paper and called out "Bugger!" She thought he said "Fucker" which is quite hilarious itself. Sylvia asks what it means in jolly old England, as its connotation seems different in the States. So as is often the case, JP (with his masters in History) waxes over the origins of the word and its changed meaning through time. In a nutshell, it has to do with anal sex.

As he's finishing his diatribe, Sylvia looks at me and says "I'm so excited about what you put in my box."

To which I reply, "And I'm so excited about getting my $14 from you."

JP, with his typical gutter mind, says, "Wait a minute. You're talking about him putting something in your box and now you owe him $14. You have some explaining to do." LMAO

Dirty ol' git! Talk about smarmy! Sylvia and I bowed our heads in shame while laughing... because he wasn't exactly quiet about it... and he was standing by the doorway that leads into the lobby where the students are waiting!!

This is the man who got on some tangent a while back about Koko the gorilla and how she sexually harasses her female handlers. Then he makes a comment about her putting her breast on the plate glass like in some movie...

Oy! That's my crazy boss! A regular J. Peterman!

Comedy Hour

It's hard work to help the children. We're at the ass-end of a long autumn strangle at work -- registration time! It's when my job becomes a call center for the helpless, the procrastinators, those who choose not to read, and those who are not active participants in their education. What I affectionately term - the dregs. And it's bad when a procrastinator player-hates his own people. But c'mon people... please.

In the office, we constantly trade stories about student meetings that have left us shocked, dumbfounded, and downright pissed off. Folks, start weeping for our future now. We got some up-and-coming winners making their way to the job market. But don't worry too much... their parents are micromanaging it all, so it's cool.

Anyway, we always see students who either want business or pre-med or engineering blah blah blah. You know, the BORING AND TRITE majors. Choosing a major isn't free association, folks!

Me: "Say the first thing that comes to mind! GO!"

Student: **insert regurgitation noises**

I'm quite happy with the students who can cut it in those disciplines and have a genuine interest with the good to back it up, but for the dregs who won't let a bad nightmare end, you just want to scream, "What are you, some kind of idiot? What the fark is your problem? YOU CAN'T CUT IT!! Your grades are abysmal! IT ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN! Now face reality or do me a favor and go PLAY IN TRAFFIC!!" I'm a humanist, by the way.

So a fellow advisor was talking to this business wanna-be who was getting huffy over his lack of skills for getting into the ivory tower of elitism. Diligent as she is, she tries to explain it's not an option and asks about his back-up plan. Crickets. She discusses some options in Liberal Arts and Sciences, to which he replies, "I don't want a useless degree." Jackass. It's people like this that I enjoy being their Dreambuster -- they get a proton-pack of reality jolted right in their face!

Like how many people in this world have LAS degrees? A bajillion. How many of them work in a company doing "business" stuff? A grillion. How stupid is this kid (and all of his ilk)? Infinity!

Today I invented a new reply to this kind of statement: "Yeah well, there really aren't any useless degrees, but there are some useless people who earn them." I want to take this one for a test drive so bad!

I'm determined to turn the pain of the job into a pleasure. Potential hitch: Can you have a comedy hour with no cocktails, though? Speaking of which, my Sis-n-Law got me hooked on pineapple rum and fruit juice. I may have to bring some to work in a concealed container for secret sipping. And a dime bag from Humboldt County.

Let the Dreambusting continue!

Creative Itch

Recently I've been locked into a creative prison of sorts. I have felt inspired to paint and write and perform spoken word, but nothing coherent has been coming out. It's as if I can look outside at the freedom of expression, but I'm being kept away from it by forces unknown.

I should stop betching about it and just create things, even if they suck. But there is a trick to finding inspiration from the writing on Six Feet Under or blasting the powerful tunes of Beck and Thom Yorke -- they're creative geniuses becomes this unattainable quality, separated by a great divide of my talent and theirs. But why am I comparing myself to them? And why am I comparing raw expression to a "completed" and refined work? Cuz I'm thinking like a doody-head. And I'm convinced bloggers are mostly people who have to express their feelings as the experience them, as a kind of mental sketchpad to work out a solution... like the Wile E. Coyote Acme Blueprint for Certain Failure.

And come to think of it, he is a role model in his own bumbling way. He was blown up, shot down, dropped of cliffs, suspended in midair (just for torture and effect), and conked on the head with all manner of blunt heavy objects. And he persisted.

Back to the old drawing board...

Mostly Beta-ed

I just completed the second part of my blog upgrade. It's taken over four hours to put together what you see pixelated on the screen. Can't tell the difference? Well, that's because there basically IS NO DIFFERENCE!! I've spent 4 hours getting my beta template back to how it used to be!!!

The new coding has taken some getting used to and almost everything in the code is formatted differently. It's actually better coding, but requires some relearning, delearning, and a few gutteral top-of-my-lungs screams of FUH-Q frustration!

The new template features are nice -- you'll notice the only big change is with the right sidebar contents. Hopefully it will be easier to view related topics and archived posts with this new update. I still need to fix up the Lines of Thought labels, but I need to eat right now.

I have some other updates to share, so hopefully another post will come along soonly. Later!

The Non-Dating Game

Warning: This post is littered with really bad sports analogies.

I received a call from Desperate Not to Be Single Guy about hanging out because he's bored. That's what he always says, "I'm bored." I find the sentiment to be a medley of insult and flattery. Admittedly, I was in a funky mood because of an emotionally intense hour of Six Feet Under. I didn't feel like talking or making plans for today, so I called a "rain delay" and committed to hanging out tomorrow.

I had a convo with Feyonce a bit later to hash out the situation. We both find his over-assertion tinted with a bit of...desperation, if that's the word. It's an eagerness for us to be in the midst of a deep relationship, which I guess is normal after hanging out twice while watching movies. And all the hand holding was annoying. I kept wondering when my obligation was contractually over. At one point I balled my hand into a fist. He tried to break through. It was like the Battle of the Bulge (and not in a good way). My forces were surrounded by his army of fingers and I simply couldn't surrender. I didn't want to. I wasn't ready.

I told Feyonce I need a Get Out of Intimacy Free card. She said I could just pull my hand away, and with the other, produce the GOIF card without a word spoken. The card says it all. I likened it to the ref throwing the foul card on the field. I think Desperate...'s trying to steal the next base, hoping to get my backfield in motion, or maybe he just wants some high-sticking. No matter what, I'm calling his plays. I'm not ready for a doubles match that is love-all.

I have to admit I had a physiological reaction to all the handedness. As he held onto me, I developed a lower back pain. I withdrew myself, walked it off, and the pain vanished. I was pain free until he grabbed onto me again. Then it came back. I've allegedly developed a psychosomatic reaction to intimacy. My body and brain have teamed up to reject intimacy!

It's like I'm the goalie of this fauxship and he's the forward trying to hit one in. Can I ever get in league with someone who puts me on the defensive?

I had dinner with B-Dub and El Nino, and we also hashed, rehashed, and prehashed. Apparently Desperate... has been texting and emailing B-Dub to ask what I've said about him. Again, he's wearing too much of that new fragrance, Desperation. Not a fan of that smell. B-Dub has remained loyally quiet but subtly pointed out to him that Army is no fan of his clingy conduct. We think he's new to relationships like I am, but his tactics don't quite match with mine.

Well sports fans, it's not over yet, but we seriously have to exchange play books and level the playing field here. Open communication is important for any team, so tomorrow will be movie-free and more about getting to know one another. Maybe we can become teammates, but we aren't there yet. Time will tell.