Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

"You don't vote for king." - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The Battle of Antietam, if it were to appear on “The Simpsons” except that the people aren’t yellow. Make you wonder if they had even heard of art school back then, doesn’t it?

I made a bold admission to a friend (an actual, bona fide pillar of the community) the other day, “I’m not going to vote.” Oh, sure, this wasn’t as bold an admission as, “I’m wearing very special silky underpants today,” but it was a bold admission.

He replied, “Same here.” (Not voting, not the special silky underpants thing.)

His reasoning and mine were similar. We don’t want to play anymore. All the candidates left are serious losers that we wouldn’t have told where the kegger was in high school.

Me? I hung out with the D&D© nerds (first beer bought with fellow nerd B.W.) and the jocks (who occasionally drove me home after the kegger). Some of the best parties were when you got ‘em all together. Nerds? Jocks? They’re just people.

However, John, Hillary, and Obama were the people nobody would hang with, so they just sat at home shredding documents and being bitter. Gaze upon their faces and tell me these aren’t the most bitter people ever, except for the guy who did the “bitter beer face” commercials, and really has bitter down to a science. These were the people who were already starting their Presidential campaigns, and washing the cars of the members of the school board, so they could have a stunning application to Yale.

These candidates are hideous. I had an added epiphany: the voter’s aren’t so wonderful, either.

Thanks to the glory of Youtube, I can post a wonderful clip that shows why democracy is a bad idea (beware, this video clip contains girls in bikinis, a written word that is naughty, and some verbal references to Hillary Clinton that begin with the letter ‘b’ and rhyme with ‘snitch,’ so if that sort of stuff shocks you, don’t click on the link below):

I watched this video in stunned silence, and realized that I am totally, completely, and utterly opposed to the idea of democracy. So were the Founding Fathers. They thought democracy was about the worst form of government they could think of, except perhaps a government controlled entirely by Elvis Presley imitators, or housecats. They thought that a democracy led inevitably to a government not of ideas and principles, but one of popularity. The Athenians had a democracy, and so voted that Socrates had to commit suicide by drinking hemlock because he was known as the Paris Hilton of his day, rarely wearing anything under his toga. This led, of course, to Socrates’ famous last words:

“I drank what?”

Let me give you another example: my work often requires me to be home past dinner time at the Wilder house. If our house were a democracy, The Mrs. would suggest a well balanced meal that might include, say, broccoli, liver, and boiled cabbage. The Boy and Pugsley would caucus and suggest that carmel-filled chocolate Easter eggs would be appropriate. With an astonishing 67%-33% majority, The Boy and Pugsley would grow up into 1000 pound men with no teeth.

Does it work like that? No! It’s a constitutional monarchy at our house, with limited input from the serfs. Fair? No. But we really do know better.

I won’t be voting for Ron Paul in the election (though he’s closer to my views than the rest of the bitter-kid club), but these voters made me sure that we need a way to painfully keep people who shouldn’t vote away from the computer that tallies their votes, or else we should rig the election like The Onion suggests:

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Really, now, should the only qualification to cast a vote be that you can fog a mirror?

So, as I watch the candidates I wonder where is our modern-day Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, or Madison? I mean, at least Madison had Dolly Madison, who at least made wonderful snack cakes.

I could vote for a president if he stood for real change, or at least good snack cakes.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Nobody puts baby The Mrs. in a corner." - Johnny Castle, Dirty Dancing

The Brandenburg Motel. Not in Germany. Not in Prussia. Not even in Brandenburg. I assume it really is a motel but the pictures of the snow-capped alpine mountains (in Oklahoma, no less) were the second clue that you cannot trust the motel owners under any circumstances.

In Houston you can find some of the best food and tastiest food on the planet, served by bright, intelligent waiters and waitresses that probably have degrees from Harvard (in economics, probably, but that’s okay – they can do less damage there than they would at the Federal Reserve Bank). In The Mrs.’ home town? Not so much.

The Mrs. went with her mother, The Boy, and Pugsley to go pick up some food at a restaurant that rhymes with “Raco Smell.” It was 11:43 AM. Apparently Raco Smell doesn’t open during this time. Lunch break?

Anyway, The Mrs. then went to a restaurant that has a name that rhymes with “Scarby’s.” The Mrs. and her entourage waited in line while the two employees and the manager were in some sort of heated discussion about the proper way to carve roast beef, or perhaps it was about economics. Whatever. They ignored The Mrs. for about five minutes while a line of customers formed behind them.

The Mrs. generally doesn’t rant, preferring to vote with her (our) dollars and not reward incompetence, poor ethics, or body odor. The Mrs. rarely complains. Often she give me a funny look when I complain.

This time was different. She let loose a tirade worthy of historical preservation. In about four years (lightspeed time) this tirade will hit Alpha Centari, and then the aliens there will cower in fear. Here is what she said when the employee at the register asked the person behind her in line, “Can I help you?”

“Listen you nosepicking freak with the IQ of a houseplant, I’ve been waiting here while you and your manager gab for five minutes about how darn hard it is to figure out how to use car keys or remember a five digit ATM code. How dare you ignore us while you embark on a journey of discovery and find out that a spork is not a phone receiver. If you don’t want people to treat you like a group of inbred mouth-breathers, don’t keep acting like a group of slack-jawed inbred mouth-breathers! You slack-jawed inbred mouth-breathers!”

Okay, I wasn’t there, and I made a bunch of the stuff above up, but The Mrs. did really call the counter employees “mouth-breathers.” I think they were rather slack-jawed at her outburst. We’re still waiting on the DNA test to see if they were really inbred.

The downside? The Mrs.’ mother lives in that town, and will never be able to order a roast beef sandwich again, unless she goes through the drive through, although it may be the case that the employees have the memory span of goldfish, and forgot the incident completely five seconds after it happened.

On Easter Saturday (happens every fourteenth year, according to the Wilderian Calendar) The Boy and Pugsley were out when the “Easter Bunny” arrived and left baskets (from Easter Wal-Mart®). The Boy pronounced it an Easter Miracle, since the baskets were left when only Grandpa was home. Somehow the fact that The Mrs. and I were also there eluded him completely, but, this was proof that the Easter Bunny does exist. He and Al Gore should get together, since they have a lot to talk about.

The Wal-Mart© toys were, well, Wal-Mart™ toys. I kept wondering how much lead was leaching into Pugsley’s system as he gummed the racing stripes on the plastic car he got. I figure he was pretty smart to start with, so getting a bit of lead into his system will just even the odds for the other kids at school.

On Easter Sunday we undertook the long drive back. The Mrs. got amusement from several signs: “Fruits for Sale Truckers Welcome” in the event that truckers felt that they were under some obligation to eat only biscuits and gravy, these people were helpful enough to let them know they could have regular roughage in their diets. Another one (this was Easter Sunday) read “He is risen, and we are closed.” I asked The Mrs. what business it was on, and she said she didn’t see that part. I was hoping it wasn’t the hospital. Maybe we were lucky and it was Scarby’s.
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Reno is a lot like Mayberry on the TV except that everyone's on crystal meth and prostitution's legal." - Travis, Reno 911

Apparently a cousin owns a bar someplace along our trip. Maybe his name is made up, too.

It was Easter, again. I’m not sure who figured that confectionary rabbits were the best way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus (I mean, really who said, “Son of God returns from the dead, so let’s eat a hollow chocolate bunny.”), but it apparently worked. How do they make hollow chocolate, anyway?

Normally we spend Easter at home, color the eggs, and do all of the normal stuff without having to drive everywhere like meth addicts on, well, meth. Now that The Boy is in school, The Mrs. is reluctant to take him out on a whim (although I point out to The Mrs. in a losing battle that it isn’t medical school it’s first grade, and he already reads and counts better than anyone else) to go places when it’s more convenient for, well, me.

In truth, as busy as I’ve been at work there isn’t really a good time to leave. Normally on Spring Break we go see Pop Wilder at the Wilderbunker, but this year my boss was in the mode that I could only die on the job if I’d fully trained a replacement, so I only took off part of Spring Break. Nothing makes The Mrs. happier than that, me being stuck at work and stuff. Since I like The Mrs. way more than I like my boss, we headed out on Spring Break anyway.

Rather than head to the sandy beaches down Galveston way where I hear aging rock stars are attempting in vain to convince teenage girls that they were all the rage when they were in “Duran Duran”, we headed north, where the temperatures were blissfully colder and more suited to the proto-Viking build favored by Wilder’s the world ‘round. At least when it’s cold out I don’t feel so silly with my horned hat, longboat and battle-ax.

We finally got to The Mrs. home town. It was a long journey, but The Boy and Pugsley hadn’t yet managed to gnaw the upholstery of the car down to the springs, so I put in the win column. When we got there, the big topic of discussion was The Mrs.’ right big toe.

The Mrs. right big toe was swollen and inflamed. I pointed out that The Mrs. had two toes, so perhaps shouldn’t be worried that one was the size of Omaha. In truth, previously that week The Mrs. had asked me to be John Wilder: Civil War Surgeon, and do whatever it was that you can do with garage tools short of amputation (note, a drill press, while being drilly and pressy, isn’t good for home medical use, unless you’re attempting to relieve to pressure on a subdural hematoma). While The Mrs.’ toe was unanesthetized, I was properly anesthetized. I was rather glib during the surgery; I’m not sure that made many points with The Mrs. In true Civil War fashion, I did pour copious amounts of alcohol in me in the wound to make sure it didn’t fester.

The Mrs., like me, has a great desire not to see doctors. I don’t know why she feels that way, but I feel that way because doctors are for sick people, and if I don’t go, then I’m not really sick and will never, ever die. The Mrs. relented to the pressure of her Mom to go and see a doctor. Fortunately the small, Midwestern town we visited had a podiatrist. A podiatrist is a doctor for feet, and has nothing at all to do with Michael Jackson. We visited on a Friday.

After the doctor had done his preliminary exam, and was out of the room waiting for his nurse to set up his instruments, I remarked to The Mrs. that it must be “awfully difficult for a doctor to judge the relative socioeconomic and educational status of his patients” on a first visit since he had refrained from using words of greater than one syllable during her exam. In truth, Internet, I can look like quite a Gomer (as in Pyle) when I’m not working, and you might not think looking at me that I could spell my own name, so I’m kind of a trick question for doctors. The Mrs.? She always looks great and smart, but then again how smart could The Mrs. be if she were married to a Gomer-looking guy like me?

Anyhow, the doctor came back into the room and noted (when I tried to use a little humor on The Mrs. as he was using a battle-ax on her toe) that “that type of levity is often a display of selflessness in marriage,” and further, he’d just been reading the Wall Street Journal® about the current status of the divorce rate in the U.S. and the relative proximate causes thereof. The doctor then pulled out a pair of needle nose pliers medical thingys and whacked a chunk of The Mrs. toenail. Fortunately for The Mrs., this “doctor” anesthetized her. How can you be a good Civil War surgeon if you go around willy-nilly giving your patients anesthesia? Anyhow, the bandaged up her toe and said, “Okay, see you on Sunday, 8:00am.”

Okay, that sneaky doctor had his office right next to our exam room and heard my comment about him having to figure out if we were mouth-breathing morons or if both of us had graduate degrees in Really Cool Stuff. Besides, this doctor was going to see The Mrs. on Sunday? That must go against some sort of AMA® code.

But this particular doctor really did see The Mrs. on Sunday at 8:00 AM because our travel plans had us leaving early Sunday morning. Sunday.

Did I mention that I tried to pay on the way out, but the nurses said, “we don’t know what insurance will pay for, and you look good for it,” so they wouldn’t LET me pay?

Did I mention The Mrs. grew up in Mayberry?

Next: Signs, Mouth Breathers, Smoked Meat, Chinese Paint, and Easter Miracles
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"And if wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak." - Jayne, Firefly

Alia S., after The Boy convinced her that he’d buried her car keys sixteen feed deep in our backyard.

Last night was our anniversary. I gave the lead-in on Sunday, before I managed to not buy flowers, and hijack the anniversary present that I had supposedly bought for The Mrs. for my own nefarious uses. Yes, I’m a bad guy. Not quite a Stalin. Maybe more of a Nixon.

Anyhow, I did show up, after leaving work early. The Mrs. and I went out to a (wait for it) solo dinner. Just us. No kids. Duct tape had them securely snugged in the closet. Okay, just kidding – Alia S. Wilder was terrorized by watched The Boy and Pugsley.

The Mrs. and I went to a local steakhouse. We had to navigate a huge, concrete parking garage and ended up on the fourth floor. We went to the elevator, since The Mrs. had recently lost her left big toe in a bear trap and didn’t want to limp down the stairs. A family of extraordinarily short people (20 of them, and I’m not exaggerating) was ahead of us. I’m sure the elevator looked like a clown car at the first floor. We waited for the next one.

We got on. Following us onto the elevator were another married (likely they had duct-taped their kids, too) couple. The next floor down, the kids got on.

By kids, I mean spiky-haired, just out of their teen-years, green t-shirt (“Kiss me, I’m not Irish, but I’m Wearing a Green Friggin’ Shirt, Wench”) wearing kids. One of them even jumped up and down on the elevator to create a harmonic motion in the elevator cables, causing the elevator to bob about like Client Number 9 at a press conference.

The Mrs. openly scoffed. The Mrs. yelled at the green-clad youth, “I scoff at you. Go grow up.”

Okay, The Mrs. didn’t really say that. But she was thinking it. She told me so.

About the parking garage - it may be my anniversary, but there’s no way I’m going to pay for valet parking. We hoofed it (The Mrs. limping from her alligator-bite) to the steakhouse.

People opened the doors for us at the steakhouse. That was nice. As we walked into the foyer of the restaurant, I noticed that they had vaults with people’s names on them in the foyer. One of them had Tom Delay’s name on it – I can only assume that he keeps black market kidneys or piles and piles of money in it. Maybe he keeps baby harp seals there? New England Patriots™ 19-0 t-shirts?

Anyhow, it was nice being someplace where people would really, really kiss our butts, rather than eating at Whataburger® again and waiting fifteen minutes for a bacon cheeseburger.

We sat down. Ohhhh, real tablecloths, not plastic. The waiter came and took our order. I ordered a steak. The waiter said, “We serve our steaks ala-carte, would you like something else with that?”

Finally, finally a steakhouse that gets it. I came to eat steak, not twice-baked asparagus-potato-puree. That other stuff that comes on the plate? Sheep eat it. None for me, thank you.

“No. Just the steak.”

We ate.

We tried in vain to find something for dessert, but after a steak the size of Mongolia, what else, really, can top that? (Honestly, I was looking for something that injected chocolate and other sweet, sweet carbohydrates into your veins, but that, sadly, was not on the menu.)

Nothing can top a big steak. Except, maybe, mushrooms.

We went back to the parking garage. As this was now prime-time St. Patrick’s Day pub-crawl time, the string of early-twenty (twentoddlers?) gaggles of males and giggles of females came driving into the parking garage. Driving Lexi®, BMW’s©, and Range Rovers™.

WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND GIVES A TWENTODDLER A B-frigging-M-frigging-W????? I, for one, demand a parent recount, and would much prefer that Pop Wilder had purchased a Corvette© for me over the 1972 green (six cylinder) GMC® pickup he allowed me to drive.

Anyhow, The Mrs. and I eventually made it home, and found a distraught Alia indicating that she had no idea that Pugsley was the only two-year-old with arms that are six feet long, and how seven-year-old The Boy had convinced her that I let him watch the Saw® series of movies.

Ahhh, home sweet home. 11 years. Beat that, Nixon.
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Anniversary party!" - Lovey, Gilligan's Island

A tiny version of The Boy is hoping the Easter eggs explode in the pretty colors. Dang. They just turned colors.

It’s nearly (less 24 hours, or so) eleven years since I met The Mrs. That’s like 132 metric years.

How on earth did we meet? That’s a story I’m not sure I’ve shared. If I have, it was probably so boring that you forgot. So, to quote Blazing Saddles, “Excuse me while I whip this out.”

I was downstairs in my basement, WilderBunker East. I was on a generic Wal-Mart® copy of a Stairmaster™ (I think I paid $69.89), sweating to the music of the local radio station. I had been doing this for months, and one of the stations seemed to think that Bob Frigging Seger was the reincarnation of the Beatles, and, hence, played him every hour.

I used to like Bob Seger. “Old Time Rock n’ Roll”, “Turn the Page”, etc. Loved his stuff. Now, after months of constant exposure, listening to him again and again I began to fantasize about gathering up every copy of every Bob Seger song and burning it in a huge bonfire. I would roast marshmallows. I would imagine Bob on the fire. Mmmm, that’s nice.

In order to assuage the part of me that wanted to see Bob ripped apart limb-by-limb by four drunken Hell’s Angels members on really big Harleys, I switched radio stations. I know that sounds extreme, but I was at wit’s end.

The new station I chose played newer music, and, thankfully, music that was entirely Bob Seger-Free. I breathed a sigh of relief. Frankly, I started to like some of this music.

So, one night I was listening to my newfound radio station, and the DJ comes on with a frivolously easy question about Heisenberg’s association with quantum mechanics. Uncertain, I picked up the phone. I pushed the stations numbers into the handset, and, busy. Tried redial, still busy.

Darn, that Heisenberg question was easy. Someone surely got it, no?

No. The DJ came back on, said, “We still don’t have a winner, so call now.”

I hit redial. I answered the question, and the DJ said, “Hang on a minute, let me get this song started.” She did. We chatted for a few more minutes. I was entranced. She was smart, funny, and neat. I listened to the rest of her shift, and not to listen to the music. I had a crush on her.

I went to work the next day. I was in a mid-size city (million or so) and mentioned to one of my friends that I had a crush on the DJ. Her thoughts? “She’s not dating anyone. You can meet on St. Patrick’s day.” The odds on that? Well, pretty good considering that (although I had no idea of this) my friend was dating the afternoon DJ. Funny how that works.

So, I listened even more intently before our date. Drove by the radio station a few times. Left a dead cat on her doorstep. Installed a camera in her shower. Some might call that stalking. Me? I call it courting.

Anyhow, (really) I hadn’t seen her before we met. When you hear someone’s voice on a radio station, you have no idea what they look like. From The Mrs. standpoint, I’m sure it was even worse. The guy might be a stalker.

We were introduced by our mutual friend. The (soon to be) Mrs. told me her name was a different one than the one she used on the air.

I asked why. She shrugged, “Stalkers, you know.”

“Funny, my friends told me not to bring that subject up on the first date.”

Anyhow, we sat and talked, consumed minimal quantities of beer, and then were told we had to leave. Everyone around us had left. We had been sitting together for four hours, and it had seemed like ten minutes.

I walked her to her car. We had showed up hours apart, but yet hers was parked right next to mine, each complete with a dent on the same side.

I kissed her and knew right then we’d be married. Her? Not so much, but she was interested in a second date. And a third. And then? We rarely spent a moment when we could be together apart.

I suppose The Mrs. has had 11 years to get to know me, and, according to her, I have at least a 15 year contract (when Pugsley was born The Mrs. indicated I had a five year extension). That works. I’ve got a decade and a half before I have to bring my ‘A’ game again.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"There's nothing wrong with my verbal skills. It only seems that way because my math skills are so high." - Dilbert, Dilbert

The Boy, hard at work designing his Q-32 Space Modulator©.

I got home tonight and The Boy was in trouble again. I say again, since previously he had said a “bad word” at school. Dunno where The Boy might have heard it, unless of course The Boy actually listens to the things The Mrs. says when I step on her foot. The Boy’s biggest mistake? Telling a fib about it. Never, never, never (that’s three negatives, so it still means never) cross The Mrs. with a fib.

Anyhow, The Boy had learned his lesson and confessed his latest transgression. Instead of the previous punishment of bread, water, and no heat for two weeks, The Boy’s current punishment is a 72 hour ban on television. Another hint? The Mrs. is the toughest parole officer in the world.

Having been briefed on the situation at the front door, I walked into the kitchen and The Boy was diligently working on math problems. It seems that math is actually very fun for some segment of twisted little seven-year-olds, and we have one of them. He was doing a page of addition and subtraction problems when I walked in.

I watched for a bit. The Boy noticed that the problems were linked, i.e., 8+7=___ was right next to 8+___=15 (if this part confuses you, remember that this isn’t in metric, it’s US units). The first answer took a few seconds, the second answer was almost instantaneous. I wasn’t going to let him off that easy.

I started asking questions.

Me: “What’s 15-14?”

The Boy: “1.” (implicit “Duh” was visible in his eyes. Old people are soooo stupid.)

Me: “What’s 15-15?”

The Boy: “That’s easy, 0.”

Me: (relishing the moment) “What’s 15-16?”

The Boy: (long, long pause) “Virtually nothing.”

Muahahahaha . . . he had fallen right into my trap.

The Mrs. craftily asked him to draw a number line. He drew:

0 1 2 3 4 5

In a move that would have gotten me burned at the stake back in the good old days of the Spanish Inquisition (1963, I think it was), I extended the number line to the left. I drew in negative numbers. Negative numbers – they’re the devil’s tool!

As the comprehension of the magnitude of my heresy became apparent, I could see the wild, hunted look in The Boy’s eye. I could imagine his thoughts, “Hey, wait a minute! My first grade teacher has NEVER mentioned that. Does this possibly mean there are other things that these smelly old people might know that I don’t?”

All The Boy said (channeling Keanu Reeves from The Matrix) was, “Whoa.”

His gourd was baked.


I’m guessing now that The Boy will continue to get into trouble at school, if nothing else so The Mrs. and I can continue to unravel the mathematical secrets of the universe for him. Now, I wonder, is that a negative?
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Sunday, March 09, 2008

"Well, not exactly at peace, but it wasn't easy being married to a food critic. He rated everything I did." - Widow, Psych


Vampires Beware - sunlight in Fairbanks in February.

This is not the newspaper, but recently two items came into my hands that I thought I had to review, simply because they begged reviewing.

Okay, shameless Alaskan plug. I just got a (gratis) copy of Dermot Cole’s new book “Historic Photos of Alaska.” I loved it. If you want to, you can buy it here.

If you don’t know who Dermot Cole is, watch anything on Alaska on the History© Channel or the Discovery™ Channel, and he’s the guy that’s sitting there with the words “Dermot Cole” underneath him while he nods sagely from his leather chair in his library, snifting at his brandy (or, whatever it is that real writers do).

I’m sure that Mr. Cole did write all of the captions (assuming that he doesn’t farm that stuff out to lackeys), but as The Boy asked, “Who took the pictures?”

Good question. I’m fairly sure that Mr. Cole isn’t 160 years old, so I looked at the copyright notice in the front-ish area of the book to see who took the pictures. The copyright notice said that burly men with barbed hooks would seize my home and shave me bald if were even to think about copying one of those photos. I’m afraid that even describing them to you will send me to an intellectual property version of heck, so, I’ll avoid that.

I’m also betting that Mr. Cole spent literally minutes slaving over archives to pick the best ones (since, heck, any picture of Alaska is pretty darn cool). This is much more time than I spend in making things up research, so I certainly give him the nod there.

The pictures and captions in the book capture eloquently the spirit of invention and resilient spirits that life on the edge of civilization brings. I loved the book, and it made me homesick. If you love Alaska (or like us, miss Alaska) go and buy the book. It’s wonderful.

Thanks, Mr. Cole, for making me long for -30°F and overcast when it’s 73°F and blue-sky sunny. I even stayed inside all day next to a roaring fire. I think that is gonna make my air conditioning bill pretty big next month.

The other review is not so pretty. The Mrs. and cuddled up and watched “Thirty Days of Night” the other day. We like vampires, having both had a significant fear of them at a young age after our parents became living undead after a vampire attack, or, something similar in the morning before coffee. We love Alaska. So, a movie about vampires in Alaska? That must be raging good. A place (in this case, Barrow, AK) where there’s no Sun for days at a time? Coool.

In retrospect, it would have been much better if we had watched it before we ever lived in Alaska.

Umm, after the first four minutes we had paused the DVD player about sixteen times, picking on things like the angle of the shadows, the way the snow looked, and the severe wuss-ness of the characters to what any Alaskan would think of as a marginally-chilly day. This started a horrendously long wine-fueled discussion that resulted in our DVD player turning off due to inattention, and us deciding to do something else, like sleep.

The next night we decided to finish the movie. The filmmakers got a few things right, like everybody around knowing your business, and guns being pretty commonplace. There were a few cool things, like beheading a vampire via a shotgun (that has to hurt). The stupidest thing? That no planes go to Barrow during the winter. I have been on that plane DOZENS of times, I assure you it goes there daily, except during peak periods of vampire infestation.
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"I'm half machine! I'm a monster!" - Buster Bluth, Arrested Development


I, for one, welcome our new robotic Lego© overlords.

I’m trying to make sense of the presidential race. Being in Alaska dulled my political senses, but now that I live back in the lower 48 (49 if you count Canada) all the newspapers and television keep trying to tell me I should care. I did care about Alaska politics, because it was immediate and your vote seemed to mean something. Heck, Alaska still has the hottest governor (Sarah Palin) in the nation. Plus, there’s an outside chance that Sarah might be related by marriage to Michael Palin of Monty Python. That’s making your vote count.

Alia S. Wilder told me the other day that, “This is the most important election of our lives.”

Yeah. I know that they’re so cute when they’re young and not all cynical.

Right. I’ll try to care. So, my dissection of the presidential race at this point:

I don’t know if Barack Obama is a fan of Groucho Marx or Karl Marx. It seems more like he’s running for Student Council President than US President. His campaign seems to be run on the premise of vague commentary about “Change” and girls fainting when they see him because he’s so darn hot. In full disclosure, the “Change” and fainting girls was my platform when I was running for Student Council President. Don’t worry, Barack, I didn’t win either.

Based on my analysis, I think Barack would be the president most likely to be able to defeat the plans of Skynet to send robotic terminators back into time to kill Sarah Connor, but then again I might have misread his brochure. If he can do that, I’m pretty sure I can’t vote for him, since that’s a really good television show. Plus, I don’t want to make our (future) robotic overlords too mad at me.

One thing I do know about Obama, is that he won his senatorial election based on the fact that his opponent was getting lots of bad press. His opponent was getting divorced from the actress that played the Borg© on Star Trek Voyager™, and she maintained during the trial that he liked to do really, really kinky things with her. I’ve just got to say, this Obama guy sure is against future robot overlords. It’s creepy.

But, speaking of sexual issues:

Facing off against Obama is Hillary Clinton. Hillary has more baggage than American Airlines™. Like American Airlines™ a lot of it gets pretty conveniently lost. It’s almost as if . . . evil robot overlords were losing my luggage on purpose.

Okay, I’ve got to admit the Clinton years in the White House were lots of fun. There was Bill and the stories of hanky-panky with random women. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure that Bill Clinton would never, ever, ever, lie to us about his relationships with women. I’m also pretty sure those Enron® guys were misquoted.

I’m also pretty sure that Hillary won’t be nearly as fun as Bill was. She seems more like the teacher that tried to seem cool by letting you call her by her first name, but in reality had a burning hatred and disdain for you that was expressed by her occasionally just jerking you by the hair and saying, “I heard what you said about me.” Oh, was that just me that happened to? Huh.

Anyhow, I think that Hillary’s platform includes taxing the earth so that magical fairies show up and pump more oil out of it without disturbing a single caribou, kangaroo, or Manitou. She promises that gasoline will be cheap enough that you can bathe in it. She promises that she will send a military expedition to Canada to kidnap their doctors and loot their cheap drugs. Bill gets first pick of the hot Canadian ladies.

Fortunately, Hillary will pay for this with taxes “on the rich”. By this I’m sure she doesn’t mean her and Bill, since they voluntarily contributed all of their extra money (millions and millions, I think) to the IRS to pay for their “fair share.”

They did do that, and not pay the voluntary minimum tax, right?

That leaves us with John McCain. Good first name. Good credentials. I think he’s campaigning on the platform that if you vote for him, he won’t kill and eat you.

McCain has a temper that is legendary. I heard he once was mean enough to a drive-thru clerk at McDonald’s© when she asked him to pull forward without his food and sit and wait in the car that she cried. Oh, that was me, too (only defense, I was 16). My bad. Are we really ready to have an angry terminator from the future as our leader?

If so, I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

So, I really wonder, of the 3.4 billion Americans are these really the best ones we can find to run for President? Isn’t there someone who has actual ideas instead of rehashed party rhetoric, someone who has the guts to say the truth, someone who

Me? I’m not voting (really) in the presidential election. Too many damned robots. If I do vote, it will be for (non-robotic) Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin.

Can you imagine when she meets the Russians? Palin, meet Putin, Putin, Palin.

She’s an Alaskan. She could drink him under the table. That, my friends, is foreign policy.
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For some reason I lost this post - (I was messing with blogger) this is a repost.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

"This is an actual Navy submarine? Not a float in a parade or something?" - Sonar, Down Periscope


Okay, it's a battleship, not a sub. But it is nice and all nautical, isn't it?

One nice thing about Cub Scouting is that it provides plenty of events for me to spend with The Boy. I just hope that it doesn’t make me hate him.

Let me explain. I think you’ll join up on my side.

His Cub Scout troop recently got the opportunity to spend the night on an actual submarine. The submarine in question, the U.S.S. Cavalla, SS-244, once sent a Japanese aircraft carrier to the bottom of the ocean. Fortunately, there was a war on, otherwise that would have been pretty awkward.

The Cavalla has since been dragged into a canal on a small island, and backfilled with sand and earth around her hull. Unless attacked by a group of vengeful Japanese gophers, she won’t be sinking (or submerging) anytime soon.

The head of the park gave a talk about the Cavalla, and the other ship at the park, a destroyer. He gave a wonderful talk about the heroism of the men who served on board the ships. Then he discussed the rules for the Cub Scouts that would be sleeping on the ships. He noted that the submarine had no bathrooms, hence any Cubs (or parents) that had to drop anchor in the middle of the night would have to go and visit the park’s bathroom. He then went on to some more regulations and then opened the floor for questions. About five minutes later a timid seven-year-old raised his hand.

“If there are no bathrooms on submarines, what exactly did the sailors do?”

Good question. They just went to the park’s bathroom.

Anyhow, the staff at the submarine were all veterans of submarine service, and they proceeded to give tours of the submarine to the Cub Scouts and parents. We went through the torpedo room, the various levels of claustrophobic nightmare that the engine rooms represented, and finally got to play with the buttons that make the “dive” sound. The Cub Scouts generally enjoyed the tour. Me? I learned a heck of a lot:

The subs are way smaller than you think.
These submarines had diesel engines and electric motors – but the diesels only ran generators for the electric motors. I had thought that the submarines were pulled by friendly dolphins.
People in the 1940’s were only 2’3” high, on average, otherwise they never would have fit on the boat.
It’s a “boat” not a “ship.” And don’t forget it.
Someone named “Warren” was not too keen on the idea of going to Viet Nam (graffiti on the bunk above me).

The Cub Scout Pack then proceeded to watch Operation Petticoat (which took place on a sub like the Cavalla) and finally, The Boy looked at me, and told me he was ready to go to bed on the sub, even before Tony Curtis made good on giving up his conniving ways. The first arriving Scouts had already snagged the (relatively) spacious officer’s quarters. We bunked down on bunks that dated (likely) back to WWII. They were surprisingly comfortable.

I was tired, so I pretty quickly got to sleep before the main mass of Cubs arrived. The Boy then woke me to escort him to the bathroom. I took him, then got back to sleep. Then the general aura of chaos and noise that attends any more than two Cub Scouts surrounded me. Again, I got back to sleep pretty quickly.

Then the seventh layer of hell descended on me.

I finally started to get in that deep, restful sleep. You know the sleep, the one that (for me at least) is accompanied by a soft snore. Although The Mrs. indicates that it sounds like a chainsaw in volume and timbre, I’m sure she’s exaggerating. And those ear plugs are just all part of the elaborate joke.

Anyhow, each time I’d make the smallest snore, The ever-so-helpful Boy would poke me in the shoulder with his bony-boy fingers and say, “STOP IT.”

This went on all night. Although I ‘slept’, virtually none of it was all that restful.

Regardless, I was none to happy (and very tired) as we drove home the next morning. Of course I don’t hate The Boy. I just look forward to getting up at three AM and pouring cold ice water on him. Every day for the rest of my life.

Okay, I won’t do that. But I will think of something good. After I get some sleep.
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