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http://chessflash.com/releases/latest/ChessFlash.swf

Started playing chess…

Hey, I started playing chess again. I’m a pretty poor player, but the good news is that there are lots of other poor players out there too that still have fun with the game! Here’s a recent game of mine:

Express care

About to put Mayo Express Care to the test with our little 105 degree nugget.

Testing Subject

Testing Body. Okay, done testing, sorry.

On The Death of My Dog

My wife and I knew this little guy for 10 years, and our daughters knew him for all of their lives. We returned from a James Cotton concert to find him stiff as a little board, eyes open and still with their traditional twinkle. I figure we fed him 7600 times, probably took him for 7000 walks in the time we knew him. All he asked was enough food to keep him alive and the assurance that we knew he loved us. It’s a terrible thing to lose unconditional love.  But as corny as it sounds, I know in my soul of souls that his brave, loving little spirit lives on.  Godspeed my faithful little friend and companion.

Jesse - June 2 1999 - January 15 2010 - RIP

Ode to Plastic Lawn Animals and Billy

Here’s a little ditty from what I will call the “Archive series.”  What that essentially means is that I’m cleaning out my “Drafts” folder in a desperate attempt to avoid the labor of creative thought.  Bear in mind, most of these remained in the Drafts folder for a reason – but my standards have relaxed considerably lately due to the reality of having about one minute and eleven seconds of free time every day.  So, for better or for worse, let’s proceed:

[Archive 001 – from March, 2009]

On the way to catch the bus this morning I was thinking about what I was going to say to Billy.  Billy is a real character with a fake name.  If you want to figure it out his real name,  it has four letters.  There, I pretty much gave it away.   Anyway, Billy rides with a crew of special needs folks that happen to ride my bus.  You could say I’m on their bus I suppose… or that it’s just our bus, given that I have many needs, some of which are special.   At any rate, he’s in his late twenties, is very engaging, and I would guess his IQ is in the 60’s.  He has vision problems as well, because when he talks to me he’s always looking at something about 3 feet to the right of me, and about 10 feet behind me.   He tends to join me only if there isn’t an empty seat available next to a woman.  He loves his women.  LOVES his women.  Unfortunately not all of the women he sits next to love him, but he doesn’t let their reactive behavior influence his presentation in the least.  Everybody gets the same Billy, no exceptions.  Over the course of time they all eventually learn that he’s harmless, and it’s the exception when a women overtly rejects his verbal overtures or gets up and moves.  And if they do so, they quickly learn that moving probably isn’t the preferred solution since he merely continues his monologue at ear splitting volume, much to the chagrin of all the other riders whose headphones and ear buds have been rendered useless.

Billy’s interactions with me tend to be fairly scripted, based on whatever event might have come up within the past month or so.  For example, I back ended a guy in my car a few weeks ago, and told Billy about it.  From that point on, the first two sentences of his discourse with me are always the same:

“Did you do it on purpose?”

“Did you get your car fixed yet?”

After this we normally move on to the names of my children and their ages.  Then my manager’s name, and his wife’s name.  Somewhere in this timeframe he engages an imaginary person in hushed tones for about 5 minutes.  When we’re nearly at our destination, he asks which bus I’ll be riding home.  I answer “I might take the 4:42.”  Then he asks:

“You might or you will?”

He doesn’t usually hang around for the answer since, by this point, his concentration is entirely involved in getting queued up with his compatriots and their handlers for the bus departure.

Billy and I both ended up the way we are mostly as a result of circumstances beyond our control.  But on my way in this morning, while I was thinking about Billy, it occurred to me that there are plenty of things in life that we do have control over.  For instance, we have control over whether or not to put plastic animals on our lawn.  Face it, it’s an option – much like a Stadium Pal or X-Ray glasses.   It just so happens that many of the people in my neighborhood opt for the plastic animals, and it makes me want to pith them in a well meant attempt to relieve their suffering.  Granted, this is an extreme example of the nasty cards fate can deal – but you get the point.

Tuesday SOC (Stream of Consciousness)

Riding the bus into work today I discovered that neither of the books I am reading were in my backpack.  Very bad.  Fortunately, and inexplicably, my iPod was – and even more amazing, it still had a charge.  So I started to listen to Rolling Stones, and right about the time “Mothers Little Helper” came on I noticed a Subaru with a  huge “Yale” window decal on the back window, along with a few lesser schools clustered around the periphery.  What I want to know is what happened to all the Volvos?  During my years in school, a broken down Volvo station wagon was the pseudo-intellectual vehicle of choice.  Now, apparently Subarus are no longer the exclusive domain of lesbians – although, I suppose they could still be owned by lesbians who went to an Ivy League school, or at least visited one of their bookstores.  None of the lesbians I know tend to be that pretentious, though… so the whole thing is still a mystery in my head.  I’m really bothered when I can’t pidgeon-hole people.

I dismount the bus and proceed on foot to the tune of “Satisfaction.”  I used to be in a band that played that song, but we played the Devo version.  It was far more forgiving, and the bass part was so easy that I could even blurt out lyrics on occasion without throwing the entire band out of whack.  

Close to work I spot an individual with extraordinarily springy feet.  I mean his head must move a good 8 to 10 inches vertically with each step.  Normally I could forgive this, but his hands are pinned at his sides as he walks.  This, I can’t overlook.  Our man is only here temporarily.  He’ll be the first in line for the Mothership when it arrives.  I’ll be left behind, but at least I’ll be normal – or at worst, anonymous.  My reaction to the whole scenario was exacerbated by the fact that I was listening to “Start Me up,” I’ll admit.

I stop by the cafe on the way in and buy a bowl of oatmeal.  At my age this is necessary food as it keeps my increasingly renegade bodily functions somewhat in check.  Of course Rolling Stones + Oatmeal = somebody over 50, but younger than the Rolling Stones themselves.  I imagine those guys are well past being helped by Oatmeal… but my God, with the exception of Brian Jones, they’re all alive.  Keith Richard looked like a corpse at age 21, and his deterioration has been linear all these years… yet he’s still stomping around on stage.  I wonder if he gets his diaper checked when he switches guitars.

Got home from work and my three year old posed a question to my wife and I:  

“Guys, why don’t big people like you have boogers?”

My wife has always accused me of social recklessness when nasal mining – i.e., she believes I suffer from a paucity of subtlety when engaging in this behavior.  Happily my daughter’s observation confirms what I have maintained all along – namely,  I am actually a skilled low-observable practitioner of the art.  My wife might very well claim that I would likely have been married at age 22 instead of 43 had I never picked my nose, but that’s poppycock.  

My wife made me a list for the grocery store after the kids went down.  I lost it and found it 3, count ’em 3 times, before finally leaving without it.  Still, I did my best and awarded myself the customary “beef” stick at the checkout line.  My model of choice is about 18 inches long, and is called “The Original X Stick.”  What’s not to like about that name?  True, the ingredients look more like what might compose a suede watchband, but this isn’t the food of nit-pickers.  You need to be comfortable with the fact that your life has been measurably shortened when you feel that first salvo of fat impact the back of your throat.  Such are the thrills of an unaccompanied man on the loose at the grocery store.

Okay, time to crash.