Friday, October 30, 2009

Some Disney Hilton Head resort rest and relaxation

Just chilling right now with a half-empty bottle of Rolling Rock beer thinking about the awesome seafood dinner from earlier tonight that now is just a very fond memory. When we arrived this afternoon the tide was high with a nice, steady breeze coming from the west bringing with it the scent of the marsh that, while this might sound trite, felt like like seeing an old friend again.

I don't really like Hilton Head. It is severely over development and the majority of its "upper crust" inhabitants like to claim with a straight face and more than a little arrogance of being long-time locals while completely ignoring the African-American guy bagging their groceries who can trace his roots back to the Civil War.

But, this place still has little spots set aside from all the commercialism, golf courses, and outlet malls that still have some small echo of what this place was before it was invaded and overran. If you look closely at the picture and see the small pier in the center right that is where Miss Wiggles and I spent the last minutes of daylight. Clouds had moved in and a soft mist swirled around us with the breeze that greeted us earlier turning a little chilly. It was very peaceful and if I tried very hard I could ignore the huge mansions across the creek.

In the morning Wiggles and I will cross the main highway and sneak into the the beach house crossing over to the beach to watch the sunrise. On past morning excursions we have seen a pod of dolphins paralleling the shore; carefully inspected the path a Loggerhead turtle mama took crawling from the ocean to dig an underground nest in the sand for her eggs, only to leave her children to return back to Mother Ocean; and we have met lots of interesting people from all over the country and world.

Even with the little pocket of this island we have carved out for ourselves, mostly ignoring what has been spoiled Sunday will come all too soon requiring us to return home. So all I can say is if you ever get down around this area there is much that is still good, holding onto the history and culture that once flourished here. There are countless Civil War era sights stretching from Charleston down to Savannah. The rich Gullah culture of the sea islands can still be found despite the best efforts of the developers to make the area lily white. And places like Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge and Savannah Wildlife Refuge offer glimpses of what this place was like before Europeans came and brought all the blessing and curses of progress.

My beer bottle is empty now and I hear persistent whispers of its buddies calling me, so good night and see y'all again in a little while.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Political graveyard eroticism

Another South Carolina politician gets caught

Politicians are truly a different breed of people. While insurance agents and car salesmen are famous for looking you straight in the eye and lying I believe politicians and bureaucrats have the mental ability to actually believe two conflicting points of view.

Especially here in South Carolina where our elected officials and bureaucrats can't seen to decide if they want to be monuments to family values and virtue or typical politicians out to get laid as much as possible using their position and power.

Personally its seems reasonable to me that there should be a power to aphrodisiac scale with higher ranking politicians able to attract more and better looking ladies wanting to parlay their physical attributes into some sort of advantage. I mean its a given that a president, senator, congressman, or governor should be able to attract educated, and gorgeous ladies for passionate trysts in such places like the Oval Office or far away lands like Argentina. The scale would then fall exponentially with lower ranking politicians and bureaucrats having to accept ladies of less standing and met in places far less glamorous. Still some standards should still hold, with limits no self respecting person should fall below and chances that should never be taken.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Troubles with Interstellar Peanut Butter

Nearly late Friday Flash Fiction.

The strange man dressed as Carmen Miranda walked into the bar and demanded to know who had taken his pet iguana. I wondered the same thing sitting at the bar watching from the reflection in the mirror in front of me. The old man dressed in the bright lively colors of the now deceased Brazilian samba singer custom nervously push tables, chairs, and the assorted patrons around looking for his lizard.

“Rupert, old boy,” the old man sang out in falsetto tagging an even higher pitched whistle on the end. “Come to daddy, please. Daddy’s mind starts to slip when you’re away.”

I must admit I started to get really worried when I saw the old man’s fake right boob start moving upward from his halter top on its own accord. Dressed like a biker complete with ragged leather jacket I slowly reached inside it gripping my fingers on the Men In Black issued plasma blaster I kept holstered underneath. Much to my surprise when the fake boob was finally expelled the head of a brown Chihuahua popped up above the halter with it letting out several small yaps.

Seemingly out of nowhere a five foot long iguana appeared from under one of the benches lining the wall with the old man knocking over an older couple sitting at one of the tables in an attempt to reach it.

“Jesus Eddy, “calm yourself before I call the deputy sheriff and have you taken away, again.” The bartender, a man named Little Jake, said coming from behind the bar and assisting the couple that now found themselves sprawled on the floor. “Your scaring the customers and this crappy bar doesn’t get much business to begin with you old fart.”

“Leave Eddy alone boy,” an old man in a wheel chair said on the other side of the bar surrounded by a cluster of the usual customers, local shrimpers and assorted guys who made their living fishing from the ocean. “Eddy didn’t mean any harm, and if the tourists are upset let them leave, It you boy who insists that we cater to these cockroaches.” The man in the wheelchair was Big Jake, Little Jake’s dad and from the articles I read from local papers before leaving MIB headquarters in New York not very impressed that his son was finally coming from behind his legendary shadow standing a strong chance to becoming governor of South Carolina. From the looks I saw Little Jake give his father it was obvious that his emergence into notoriety had a lot to do about showing up his father and not serving the state.

As far as the bar was concerned, Little Jake was desperate to promote the bar trying to bring in more customers selling it’s off the beaten tracks location and curious local atmosphere. Big Jake on the other hand wanted no part of it, pretty much relegating tourists to a form of life slightly higher than mold.

It was too bad about Little Jake, the current governor of South Carolina had helped MIB recently actually leaving the planet on a mission to save a relic from the lost city of Unobtainia . That city had once existed in his state but the inhabitants turned the city into a spaceship and left the earth thousands of years ago. We had left an android of him behind walking the Appalachian Trail as a cover story but the damn thing had malfunctioned and fallen into a cave resulting in fatal damage. After several days with no one hearing from the governor the state had fallen into a sort of panic and when he returned to earth he heroically sacrificed his career to keep the various secrets involved. So while Little Jake might be leaving one shadow behind but for MIB, he still had another to crawl out from.

I had been instructed by MIB High Command to feel out Little Jake; possibly recruiting him but being empathic I strangely felt no human emotion from the man. So I decided to leave him out of the loop and maybe even put him under observation for his seemingly soullessness. Not helping things once he returned behind the bar he pulled out a copy of the magazine published by the college dropout, oxycontin addicted, fat and soulless, talk-radio host.

But he was not my target; my target was the Iguana who actually was an illegal alien living on earth without any MIB or United Nations visa. What was worse was that his home planet, Raptorville, had sent intel saying the good iguana in question was smuggling grade A creamy peanut butter to his home planet which given Raptorvillian bio-chemistry amounted to heroin to them and if we did not stop it a battlecruiser would drop an anti-matter bomb from orbit on his reported location.

Watching from the bar mirror Eddy, still in Carmen Miranda custom, spent the next several hours talking with Big Jake, the fishermen, and another local character that looked for all the world like Nora Desmond. Their collective conversations lasted well into the night forcing me to take a room in the boarding house next door to the bar.

Hours later looking out from the window of my room with torrents ofrain coming down I watched Eddy, complete with Iguana in his arms and Chihuahua sticking out from his halter top where his fake boob should be, walk from the bar to the small cluster of houses that surrounded Little Jake's place and the boarding house where I was located. This small community was entirely locatedon a small island just outside Winyah Bay with the only way to travel to the nearest town was by boat across the bay or the small ramshackle bridge that connected it to a neighboring island then on several miles of very poor roads.

I spotted Eddy going inside a two-story house next the water and once all the lights inside were off I slipped outside and made my way to his backdoor. Using my magnetic lockpick I opened the door and stepped inside. As soon as I cleared the door Eddy’s Chihuahua stepped out from the shadows. Illuminated by the moonlight coming in from the kitchen window Instead of barking a warning the little dog just looked at me and began shaking. Figuring it was scared I took another step forward only to see it begin to do a full fledged Hulk on me doubling, then tripling, then quadrupling its size. I soon had what amounted to a pit bull in front of me with a mouth full of doggy-Hulk teeth looking at me like I was a small snack.

It was predictable but I was still taken back when the dog jumped at me and even with my enhanced reflexes I still had a hard time avoiding the animal. Once it had cleared me though I was able pull out my blaster and zap it while it readied itself for a second jump. The poor animal now looked like a roasted Thanksgiving ham steaming in the rain just outside the door, it was a Hell of a mess and I was glad I wouldn’t have to clean it up.

Hearing the clicking of claws on the hard wood floors I knew the bastard Iguana was getting away. Running through the living room ignoring all the wires and tubes running from Eddy into a Dell computer with obvious alien technology added I gave chase to the peanut butter pushing alien. Curving around the house back toward the water I finally cornered the reptile up against a grove of trees entangled in thorny vines and kudzu, which was like poison ivy to the little bugger.

“Under joint MIB and United Nations regulation 2212 you are under arrest for the unlawful transport of a narcotic substance off planet.” I said aiming my blaster for his scaly green midsection.

“MIB?” Its hissed. I could see the creature looking me over and the biker clothes I was wearing. “I thought you guys only wore dull black suits and drove old and busted cars?”

“Yeah, well you can’t believe everything you see in the movies.” I responded moving closer pulling out the special form fitting restraining cuffs that would go around what passed as his hands and feet.

While in pursuit Rupert the alien iguana had changed his shape back to a more bipedal form and after putting the cuffs on I began escorting him back to Eddy’s house with hope and freeing the old coot from the devices Rupert had connected to him. The rain was still pouring down and I was comfortable it had covered whatever sounds we had made but I could feel Rupert tensing up getting ready for something.

‘Listen copper,” he began, “you can’t send me back home. With the smack I’ve been peddling they will abandon me on some prison asteroid leaving me to crazed inmates. I’m too pretty to me roughed up like that. They might even make me change my sex, it would be humiliating”

“Sorry buddy, can’t do anything about it.” I said genuinely not caring how Rupert would be treated back home. While peanut butter here on Earth was a nice healthy snack, off planet it was so addictive to so many species it scared the Hell out of the more civilized and advanced species of the galaxy. It was one of the reasons that Earth hadn’t had an official First Contact yet.

“That peanut butter is bad stuff off planet and given how addictive it is you probably deserved everything you will get.” I said directing back on course for Eddy’s place.

“How about we trade some information?” It said and given my empathic ability I could feel that he did have something important to share.

“You tell me a little and I’ll think about it.” I said thinking it was probably bullshit but since I was in control I could at least listen. After he told me I scanned the area for a specific type of alien
radiation and found it right were he said it would be confirming the worst of what I was told.

Ten minutes later Rupert was released and running for the water. A high pitched whine was heard a little later with a cylinder about the size of a semi emerging from the ocean just off the island. Bright hemispherical globes spaced around both ends providing the anti-gravity lift. After the craft had gone into warp I pulled out my communicator and contacted headquarters.

“Zeb,” I said watching my boss on the small screen. “Better get a huge containment, robot capture, and interrogation team down here right away. We had a big break in the robot infiltration case and I’ve got one twenty yards away in a house.”

Zeb said nothing but I could tell he was excited. Since the last election some power had been either complete replacing politicians and television and radio pundits with robots or at least taking direct control of their minds with cybernetic implants. Otherwise normal people were claiming the most ridiculous conspiracies without any actual evidence. MIB had known about the robots for awhile but had never been able to capture one without far too many people around, even more than we could safely handle.

I closed my communicator and strolled back over to the bar to keep watch on the living quarters located on the second floor above it waiting for the MIB teams coming down. I figured it was a fair trade to let Rupert go after he gave me the entire story on how he had noticed Little Jake sticking a five inch, obviously alien electronic tuning device in his ear. Apparently Rupert, who had controlled Eddy for years due to him being the heir of a corporate peanut butter dynasty had been able to ease drop on Little Jake as he sent messages to its central command. More than likely the real Little Jake had been vaporized when the robot version replaced him but if everything went according to plan they would still have to acquire about the real Little Jake's fate.

Despite that one brief glimpse of ingenuity Rupert had zero chance of getting much beyond a few lightyears away from Earth since it was a given that MIB headquarters had at first tracked then reported the position of Rupert's ancient and slow ship to the Raptorvillian battlecruiser hanging around in the solar system.

So this crap may play out okay in the end with Rupert changed over to a female on a prison asteroid guarding a clutch of its eggs and the alien robot controlled Tea Bagger conspiracy out of the water and destroyed and to think I never have liked peanut butter.

Friday, October 23, 2009

High Impact Wiggles

My daughter, Miss Wiggles, is to say the least a tough little girl. I have seen her get in the middle of my son and his friends wrestling on the floor and come away laughing. Our trips to the beach no matter how overall relaxing always has moments of sheer terror. I have caught my daughter trying to wandering into rough surf alone believing she can handle it; running up to strange dogs constantly thinking they will want to play with her as much as she wants to play them; and the real terror episode was when she was desperate to swim next to a jellyfish going about its merry and oblivious way. Many times only divine protection and sheer luck has prevented disaster.

My daughter dynamism does spill over back home and in school resulting in many notes from her teachers sometimes writing of something akin to a tiny revolutionary out to squash the established order. At daycare one time I came to pick her up after work only to have a talk with a very tired and frustrated college girl majoring in education about how upset Wiggles got when she found out that vanilla pudding was going to be served for the afternoon snack instead of chocolate. If the description of the events described by the young lady were true my daughter staged something close to a strike getting other children to refuse to accept what she called that nasty stuff. Still though, she does have moments where the little girl stands out and not some extra concentrated package of "blood and guts" out to conquer the world.

When I picked her up Wednesday she had the usual look of having done something that would result in a talking to back home. Examining her daily papers back at the house my wife and I did find a note from her teacher stating that she had kicked a little boy in the nuts that day. Wiggles was not at all responsive about why she had done such a thing, refusing to talk about it at all. After dinner though when she was tired and sleepy she did open up about what had happened.

The troubles started at recess-don't they always-when the little boy in question for some reason came up and hit her. Wiggles started crying when she said that the teacher didn't really listen to her when she went to go tell and when the boy came back before he could get at her again she kicked him, apparently making the little shit run off to the teachers screaming foul.

While it might be naive I believed my daughter and wrote a "nice" note back to the teacher explaining Wiggles side and how when she went to tell a teacher they didn't listen to her. I also dropped a line or two wondering how this happened and how it might be better if they spend a little more time getting the whole story.

Thursday afternoon we found a note from Wiggles' teacher apologizing for not finding out the whole story and that the little boy in question had gotten a note sent home for his actions and was forced to apologize to my daughter. Now this story should end here but like so many things in life nothing ever really ends. Late Friday afternoon we decided to grab a quick dinner at the fast food chicken sandwich place then hit a movie. My wife and I were at the table watching Wiggles play with a little boy in the enclosed playground and after refusing several times to come eat her food I was forced to go inside and physically bring her to the table. Much to my surprise she was followed by her playmate and when I started to talk with him I was very surprised to learn that her playmate was none other than the little boy that had hit her and that she had kicked in the nuts. The two continued to talk while she ate and upon Dragonwife and I briefly exchanged greeting with the boys parents.

Walking out the door the boy yelled out, "I'm sorry I hit you the other day." Clearly heard by everyone in the place.

With my daughter yelling back even louder, "I'm sorry I kicked you in the nuts." The place fell silent as we left with me wishing that things could be this easy for grownups.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Afghanistan in Spring Time

All errors are my own and I hope no one has an issue with my story and how it relates to events going on. I meant no harm to anyone.
"You know Javier, poets say that in the spring a young man's thoughts turn to love, but I think they're wrong." My drunken friend Richard said to me in the nightclub over the sound of the loud music and the bodies pressed together so tightly it was almost a collective grope session. I watched Richard struggle both not to spill his drink and find the words to finish his thought but he lost on both counts bumping into, and then falling on top of a woman making her way through the crowd. It was just as well, because I was in no mood for his combination of homespun wisdom and New Age mumbo-jumbo that he felt compelled to constantly share with the other guys in our platoon.
I watched amazed as Richard and the gorgeous and equally drunk lady briefly stared into each other’s eyes and proceeded to try and undress each other on the floor with the people around us somehow making room for the unexpected spectacle. As much as the man could irritate the crap out of me, it was just par for the course for him and maybe why I continued to play his wingman and rescuer when the shit hit the fan such as it looked to be happening.
“Dammit Ashley,” I heard yelled out from the crowd with a huge hulking figure pushing people out of his way coming toward us. “I’m going to kill you and that bastard on top of you.”
Coming from the other direction were two of the club’s bouncers equally intent on reaching Richard first who by now had managed to get his shirt off and with help from the lady, was working the bottom of her tight dress up toward her waist.
If the army had taught me anything, it was when to retreat, so I disentangled him from his sudden lady friend and scooped him off the floor, threw him over my shoulder and with the use of our combined mass bulldozed our way out the club into the cold winter night.
Being the designated driver for our night out and with the enraged boyfriend very probably still working his way outside I popped the trunk on my car and dropped Richard inside it just cause it was easier than trying to get him seated in the car, then as fast as possible got in and drove away. As the club slipped into the distance, I had a chance to think about Richard words and began to wonder where he was going with the thought. Richard’s other irritating habit was that his homespun wisdom and mumbo-jumbo often had meaning, only if you actually listened to the guy and got a chance to think about what he said. Moreover, with me growing ever more nervous about our upcoming deployment to Afghanistan I needed all the reassurance I could get, no matter the whacked out source.

Six months later, our platoon is on top of some godforsaken mountain outpost a couple of rock throws away from the Pakistan border. Concertina wire and a few Claymore mines laid out in front of it make up a half-assed perimeter to protect us from the guerrilla fighters that get their rocks off firing a couple of hundred round of machine gun fire and a few RPG’s at us every day. Our response is to fire back and call in nearby Apache gunships. The trouble is the bastards melt back into the mountains and caves and the flyboys usually just waste ammo shooting goats and the occasional wreckage of some ancient Russian armored vehicle.
The real dust up for both the guerrillas and us is when we head out on patrols with both groups trying to setup ambushes. During winter things were far more relaxed, if that word can be used in such a place and situation, but as the days grew longer and warmer and after the mud from the winter runoff dried up making foot travel easier we began having far more and heavier contact with the enemy. It was either constant patrolling or living with the bullets and rocket fire from the neighboring mountains being fired at our outpost.
It was one night while watching the perimeter with the air so crisp and clean that the stars above blazed with a light that a small, poor kid from East Los Angeles never could imagine I thought to ask Richard of what he was going to say in that faraway bar. What surprised me was that even as drunk as he was that night I could tell from the smile I saw him flash with the night vision goggles I was wearing he remembered what he was going to say.
“Well dude,” he began taking a deep breath of that thin mountain air, “usually the thoughts of a young man turn to love in the spring but in our case…”
The impact of a mortar round in the middle of the outpost then the following impacts of RPG’s along the perimeter silenced Richard and we both began firing our weapons into the night looking for targets with night vision. The yells of injured soldiers and others awakened in the night added even more urgency to what was quickly looking like a major assault on our outpost. Not only had the enemy setup mortar positions on nearby mountaintops but what looked to be two dozen guerrilla fighters were making their way to the position Richard and I shared.
Dozens of orders could be heard screamed by voice and on radio with someone yelling on both to watch your eyes. Several illumination flares were sent up, temporarily providing a near enough daylight environment to remove the night vision goggles and survey the camp's surrounding area. The heavy thud of the M-19 grenade launcher was then heard nearby from another firing point with brilliant flashes showing impacts down range. Our own mortar teams, almost firing danger close, let loose with both our 60 and 81-millimeter tubes concentrating fire on the enemy teams making their way up the side of the hill.
Concentrating on the human figures getting far too close to the perimeter by instinct I fell back onto my training controlling my breathing, picking a target, and slowly squeezing the trigger. Each time I was rewarded with the sight of someone falling down then often tumbling backwards down the slope. As much as I knew I was killing another human being and that I had left the gang related carriage that ravaged my neighborhood for the same reason I did not hesitate with any of the targets that fell in my sights.
Richard was firing the M249 and was laying down suppressing fire in our sector giving me the chance to continue to take out individuals getting to close to the concertina wire threatening to overrun us. Where once I thought I saw only two dozen, now there seemed to be hundreds.
“Where are the goddamned Apaches?” Someone yelled out over the chaos. Another enemy mortar round impacting in our camp seemed to answer for him. “Low on ammo,” someone else yelled out much too close to our position. As time and space narrowed just to the firing of my weapon and the targets I shot in front of me everything else sort of blurred out of reality. I do remember the RPG that hit just a few feet away but only a few minor pieces of shrapnel hit my arm and head. I called out to Richard but even if things had ended right there I was deaf for the most part from all the noise and would not have heard him.
It wasn’t until the first rays of sunrise became noticeable and I caught sight of the Apache helicopters flying nearby firing both the chain gun under the nose and rockets from their sides mounts that things began to ramp down. A few Blackhawks had come in as well both picking up wounded and dropping off troops to try and cut off the retreating guerrillas. Even with the hours I had spent fighting and being seriously dazed and confused I was puzzled to see another person standing next to me manning the M249 that Richard had been firing. After staring at the guy for a few minutes my head finally cleared enough that I recognized the new guy as Thomas Foster, just another fellow from my platoon.
“Where the Hell is Richard,” I asked. Figuring that with the fighting more or less over he was either taking a crap in the latrine or scrounging up a decent MRE. Foster didn’t answer but did glance out toward the wounded and dead.
I crawled out from the hole in the ground that I had been in for eternity noticing the shrapnel from enemy mortars embedded in the ruptured sandbags we had been using as overhead cover. I licked my dry lips tasting for the first time the blood that still dripped down the side of my face. The carefully laid out outpost I had spent the last few months in was now a collection of craters and damaged buildings. Walking amongst the debris and spent ammo I came up to people laid out in nice, neat military rows on top of whatever the medics could find. Some were moving and others were covered from head to toe laying very still.
I found Richard, his uncovered arm showing off the tattoo he got on one of our nights out. I pulled back the poncho that covered his head and figured the RPG that I barely remember must have gotten him spraying his body with hundreds of pieces of shrapnel. He was a bloody mess and I can only figure that after the rocket hit being badly injured he must have crawled out of our position for some reason.
Sitting beside my friend I wondered what he was going to say before the attack and all I can figure, even now, was that he was going to say that while in spring the thoughts of a young man usually turn to love, in our case though they turn to fighting and death.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009-Climate Change

Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark, or the man afraid of the light?
Maurice Freehill

Foolish people seem to abound these days, caught in their narrow and childish view that the earth we all share has an infinite ability to absorb the excesses and follies of a hairless primate whose pride far out strips its wisdom. Maybe if the human population was far less than the almost seven billion people today we could go one with such an attitude and behavior. But we do have nearly seven billion people living each wanting to either maintain or achieve a lifestyle that the planet simply can not provide. So that leaves the human race with two options.

We can look beyond to our own selfish concerns and see that we are our brothers, and sisters, keepers and begin to work together. That while these actions will be extremely hard it is a matter of simple survival that we change our behavior and work to repair the damages we have caused. The other option is that we can let the fools and idiots that believe that the earth can continue to supply our outrageous lifestyles go unchallenged. On such a course we in the developed parts of the world could conceivably go on with our lifestyle for decades ignoring those in less developed regions suffering famines, water shortages, plagues, and climate change inspired natural disasters . But eventually, even we would be overwhelmed by a planet whose climate had been dangerously damaged forcing us to suffer the same fate.

There's Still Time To Cut The Risk Of Climate Catastrophe, Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2009) — A new analysis of climate risk, published by researchers at MIT and elsewhere, shows that even moderate carbon-reduction policies now can substantially lower the risk of future climate change. It also shows that quick, global emissions reductions would be required in order to provide a good chance of avoiding a temperature increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level — a widely discussed target. But without prompt action, they found, extreme changes could soon become much more difficult, if not impossible, to control.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Things we did this weekend

The overt consumer materialism thing ain't for me however several months ago our main television started showing strong signs that it was approaching a terminal end of useful life, so we thought it best to get a new one before it blew up.
When after everything else has been eliminated and the television picture goes to static on the screen and a weird smell starts drifting through the house its best to get a new television.

Our purchase of a 40" LCD screen television went extremely easy with the giant retail corporation more than happy to sell us one using the credit card we had with them without coughing up one of the kids as collateral. It was quickly setup back at the house with a minimum of fuss even with the usual snarky comments from my wife. That television gave excellent service until an unfortunate even that happened just last Friday night.

Darth Spoilboy came into my room sometime late Friday evening while I was trying to sleep to tell me that he had inadvertently "hit" the television while entertaining several of his friends playing X-Box360. Puzzled and with more than a few cob webs running through my brain I went to inspect the damage but did not realize how bad it was even with Dragonwife busting a couple of gaskets upstairs.

I found a crack in the screen very similar to one you might find in a car windshield after it had been impacted with a small rock. It took the shape of a star but the resulting damage had never the less royally screwed the picture as you can see. Now I must admit I was a little upset but I hadn't quite gone into orbit like Dragonwife who had the poor kid close to being drawn and quartered in front of his friends. I am a little puzzled still, a few days later, about his explanation over how he hit the screen but its all water under the bridge now. Sunday afternoon Spoilboy and I took the television back to the place we bought it with the copy of the extended warranty we bought and were promptly told we were shit out of luck. The expensive extended warranty not only doesn't cover accidental damage but it would cost just about the same amount to buy a new one as have our not yet six month old television repaired. Of course this was something we found out Sunday afternoon but a more pertinent question is what do the next day after having an expensive and not yet paid for television ruined?

You go to the Carolina Renaissance Festival up near Charlotte, North Carolina. After a frustrated Dragonwife almost canceled the trip a near mutiny that resulted changed her mind and we all piled into the car and made our way up.

On a side note it must be stated that I almost had a mutiny on my hands with the selection of music I brought along. Naturally, Buffett was my choice but neither my wife, son, or his girlfriend, Darth Shopalot, thought much of my musical tastes. Even Miss Wiggles, who normally would have agreed with me, went to the other side forcing me to surrender and listen what they liked on the radio. The picture here is of the two traitorous Sith Lords, Shopalot on the left and my son, Spoilboy on the right.

Trying to be a good husband I pointed out to my wife the wide selection of brooms she could purchase at the festival to get her around town. My sense of humor, as with my music on the ride up, was unappreciated to the extreme. Even after I pondered out loud that she at least could purchase her mother one, as long as it the broom stick was extra strong. Much to my surprise that comment didn't go over any better.

No one call Child Protective Services, that's just my son holding my beer. The drunk look on his face is just an act, I promise.

The festival hosts many performers with a very wide spectrum of acts. This guy is doing his impersonation of a statue. While I kept Miss Wiggles on a metaphorically short leash around this guy doing his thing another, younger child, tried to make off with the small box, that is slightly out of this picture, that he was using to collect money for his "performance".

This is Don Juan of "Don Juan and Miguel"an act that showed their talents with whips, comedy, and some less than spectacular sword fighting although I wouldn't tell them that. They were hilarious and if you get the chance to visit a nearby renaissance festival see if they are performing.

This troop of performers are called "Barely Balanced" and did some great tricks doing some serious acrobatics, juggling, fire breathing, and comedy.

I had to really admire all these performers who did some very difficult acts out in the open were the weather can at a minimum cause you to make a fool of yourself to a crowd that might not be very forgiving. At worse, given some of what these guys were doing, a mistake could kill you.

As the day was drawing to a close we stumbled upon Ms. Sarah Marie Mullen as she was playing her harp. Miss Wiggles was in awe of what she was doing and after a set Ms. Mullen gave my daughter a short lesson in playing the harp. I did record it and if adding the video hadn't thrown my computer into spasms I would have included it. I may try again on a separate post although the video is short.

As much as my wife might disagree lust played no part in my demanding we purchase several of her CD's.

The kids on our way out after the purchase of several expensive hats. I tried to get Dragonwife in the picture but upon threat of severe pain I was reminded of our agreement about her showing up on my humble blog,

I don't know why I included this picture in the post. It may be because it was the only one where my stomach didn't make me look pregnant. Or it may be because the skeleton is a good analogy of my dead sex life. Either way we had a good time and if I wasn't so tired and wanted to bore the living daylight out of y'all even more I would have included more pictures.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dangerous Suburban Gangster Raccoons

Living in the middle of cancerous suburban sprawl I have had many chances to see local wildlife try to adapt to the human encroachment on what was just a few years ago either woods or farmland. These displaced wild inhabitants of South Carolina have yet to understand how humans have changed the environment with them not necessarily any part of the future picture. However, evolutionary denial being a backbone of the local landscape and philosophy these wild creatures still find a way to adapt and to live.

Like the possum that took up residence in my garage one night when my wife left the door open. A huge cottonmouth water moccasin that decided to visit the local zoo the same time several school tours were going on but due to an alert zoo staff member became a full time but unwilling resident. And what had to be a bear that partied far too much down on the coast in Horry County because it stumbled out of the woods onto a busy highway. The stunned bear quickly realized how dangerous the place had become, turned around quickly and ran back into the disappearing woods. However the best example I have of human destruction of the local environment took place in the small and reactionary berg I live in now.

One of the things that I find strange with the near warp-speed pace of development is how any number of national corporate franchises will seemly build their businesses on top of one another, or at least within rock throwing distance as we say here in the South. I’m not singling out any particular type of business because there are numerous examples of restaurant, video rental, retail or grocery store chains, fast food, and drugstore clones choking the landscape. I guess this is the result of scores of high paid suits sitting in air conditioned offices figuring that if their companies opens another drugstore (for example) right next their chief competitor they might yet squeeze out a few more percentage points in annual profit. The little berg I live in now is a prime example of such attitudes, for several reasons, making it less a small American town than an united fiefdom with various corporate entities providing the only thing America has been really good at for the last twenty to thirty years, not technical advancement or new ideas but simply commercial convenience for the bloated masses at the expense of everything else.

A few weeks ago while working a Saturday at the hospital my wife called to tell me that I needed to pick up a few over the counter medicine items from the drugstore after she and the kids had picked up some cold bug. Usually when I’m tasked with picking up a few items on the way home from work I make a habit of stopping at the various stores in the main section of Columbia itself before heading home. This is done so I don’t have navigate the always crowded, screwed up streets of the town I live in now with its odd placement of businesses and drivers Hell bent on being the very first to whatever destination they are heading. But the small errand my wife had given me had slipped my feeble mind on the way homes and I was already way on the northwest side of town before I remembered forcing me to negotiate the streets, and I admit the people, I try so hard to avoid.

Entering town I hit the first place that I saw that had the small advantage of not being completely snarled up in Saturday afternoon traffic at that moment. Being as fast as possible I pulled into the parking lot of the conglomeration of buildings occupying a seriously too small a space. Had I the inclination not only could I buy the cold medicines my wife wanted but within a few feet of each other I could sample fake Mexican cuisine, buy burgers from both the clown and the king, rent a DVD, and get my car washed. Literally a few further yards away I could buy auto parts from two different stores, visit a tanning salon, buy a cell phone, and attend an up and coming area church. Looking back now I find it slightly strange that in what amounted to corporate enterprise heaven that the small church in the middle of all that still displayed the cross and not the dollar sign on the front door.

Anyway, I grabbed the stuff I needed, paid for it, and got back in my car to leave. Now leaving this hodgepodge of national chain stores should have been an issue. Of the two main exits leading back out onto the road both had in the space of twenty minutes become clogged with heavy traffic. This is where some suit really earned his or her money that day upon allowing such a cluster of building in such a small place. A entirely separate back street had been cut, mainly to allow the semis access to offload yet more cheap stuff for the shelves, but also to provide the good customers a relatively an easy exit to the main road away from the greatest part of the traffic.

Slipping through that back street takes you directly behind most of the businesses offering a view of their respective trash containers on one side and on the other a small piece of wooded land, virgin territory for more businesses yet to chop all the trees down and lay a concrete foundation all in the name of profit, growth, and progress. Obeying the low posted speed limit I had a chance to spy movement off next several overflowing trash cans beside a larger dumpster. The movement I saw was a raccoon family scavenging for their afternoon meal.

Being an American male hopelessly mired in the patriarchal mindset I saw what I will assume was papa raccoon ambling out one of the cans while mama and at least two baby raccoons stayed behind looking for cover from the strange being usually intent on running then off any place they find to live. As papa raccoon drew closer he stood up on his back two legs examining my car. It’s always a mistake to attribute human emotions and intent to wild animals by if asked the look on his face could have been easily voiced by Robert DeNiro speaking in a New York accent.

“You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?" Papa raccoon seemed to be saying      barely a few feet from my car, looking like at any moment he could pull a weapon and open up, firing away. I couldn’t help myself but feel amused at the thought of a raccoon spouting lines from an old DeNiro movie.

It would be a mistake to ever think raccoons are just cuddly, cute animals out for a piece of food and to make humans happy with their antics. Old Southern lore has them about as viscous badgers despite the cute bandit face. Although, I will admit that my dad kept a raccoon as a pet when he was a kid. It was a fairly common practice until the early 1950’s with the raccoons born in captivity and even then they had a very nasty tendency to turn on their owners. With these wild raccoons, pushed from their natural habitat into suburban confines, looking for something to eat from the refuse of the over indulgence of human civilization I admit that they did take on a slight air of menace one might feel entering a bad neighborhood. That bandit face of papa raccoon with his pseudo-arrogant DeNiro look looked less and less cute with it becoming more accusatory.

“Look where you and your kind have pushed us. And don’t think it’s going to better for either us if things keep going this way.” It seemed to be saying as I drove away leaving them to their desperate ingenuity and our trash.

Sheriff describes raccoon "gang attack" on Lakeland woman

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Political debate in South Carolina

South Carolina's duly elected officials do have one attribute that I really appreciate. They will spontaneously engage in all sorts of debates for the common good wherever they might bump into a colleague. At a recent visit to the zoo my daughter and I spotted just such and occurrence with these brilliant statesmen debating about a whole manner of issues facing the state. Such diligence and devotion should be rewarded but as we watched they started flinging poo claiming that God loves them the most and things started going downhill from there.

I continue to hope they will evolve to a higher level of behavior and intelligence but a few years ago this type of law was seriously debated:

So until some evidence of some sort of Darwinian action is seen, I'm not holding my breath.