The Hellhole

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Another weekend, another few thousand dollars down the drain.  During the recent heavy rainstorms, we had a huge limb from one of the pine trees in our yard crash down into our neighbor's driveway, landing on her roof, driveway and low brick wall that separates our properties.  Alan cleaned it up and there was no damage to her property, but nightmares about what could have happened haunted us.  It was clear that the four pines at the corner of our house, which had the potential to hit our house, her house, her detached shed and fence had to go, at minimum, and probably the other pines in the front yard as well.

One of my BFFs had some trees removed from her property last summer so I called her to find out what company they had used.  Because the trees were so large and had the potential to damage so many different things, we were adamant about using a licensed, bonded and insured company for this, not Bubba with a chainsaw.  My friend Anne gave me the company name and number, and reassured me about my reluctance to destroy nature by telling me that the trees were all likely dead or dying anyway because of a terrible pine beetle epidemic plaguing our area.  The flip side of this was that I was now horrified that there would be another storm and the pine-beetle-plagued trees would give way before professionals could arrive.

Fortunately, that didn't happen, the four trees nearest our houses are gone, stumps ground away and I am now Red The Ent-Slaughterer, Destroyer of Worlds.

On the bright side of things, my brother and his wife (Valentine Wolfe link to the right) have a new project called Nightingale:  A Gothic Fairytale.  I offered some editorial suggestions along the way and although I don't know how much the finished project will resemble the draft I worked on, I am very excited about this one.   Check them out and help support local artists, if it be your fancy.  I offered them ten pounds of wood chips and all the pine straw they could carry, but apparently Kickstarter only wants dollars.  Go figure.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Friday was not my Best Day Ever.  I was really looking forward to the weekend, for more than the standard reasons, and then came Friday.

On Thursday the 19th, I started Tai Chi lessons here.  I'd been wanting to take Tai Chi for some time;  Alan takes lessons there too, and has been encouraging me to join him.  No novice to the discipline, Alan has been taking lessons there for a bit more than a year, but took Tai Chi some years ago as well.  My only problem was that novice lessons were held at 9:00 AM on Saturdays, at a location that might be half an hour from my house, but depending on Atlanta traffic fuckwittage - which you can depend on - might also be forty-five minutes to an hour.  Adding to that, I'm naturally fairly nocturnal; left to my own devices, I'd read until three or four AM, then sleep until after noon, so the idea of getting up so preternaturally early, on a Saturday no less, seemed unthinkable.

This session, however, our instructor decided to add a Thursday class that meets from 6:00PM to 7:15PM.  "That?"  I said to Alan.  "That, I can do."  Best of all, Alan decided that he could use a refresher to reinforce his training so he's taking the class with me.  It's wonderful.  I am taking Yang style 24-form at the moment.  Alan has already completed 24- and 108-form but thinks he is benefitting from the reinforcement.  BTW "Yang" is the family name of the people who developed the style, not 'yang' as in 'yin and yang'.  I enjoyed it so much!  I was going to practice all weekend!

Yeah, well, not so much. This was during a bitter, bitter cold snap in Atlanta and Friday morning with wind chill it felt like 6 degrees.  There was also a biting wind blowing.  First thing when I arrive at my office, I go down to the level of the parking deck where the mailboxes for the building complex are located, collect the mail and go upstairs to deal with it.  That morning I took the elevator even though it was only one floor down.

I believe I've remarked on this before but my building complex is rather labyrinthine.  There are multiple ways to get from point A to point B, but that early in the morning, I often find that I get 90% of the way to where I want to be only to discover a grate pulled down, a door locked, the 24-hour badge-only pad not working for whatever reason - any number of things that can cause me to have to backtrack and try a different way.  I was in no mood to risk this because it was so cold and I didn't want to spend half an hour roaming around outside, so I took the lazy/easy way out with the elevator.  Those who know me know where this is going, right?

The elevator descended with no issues, I collected the mail and returned to ascend. The elevator went up to entrance level, but there operation ceased.  The doors wouldn't open, the car would not respond to any buttons pressed, whether open doors or for other floors.  I started to panic.  Elevators don't bother me, particularly, not even the glass ones inside the building, but a malfunction sends me into extreme panic.  I started whacking all the buttons indiscriminately.  Nothing.

Longtime readers may be wondering, "Is this the same elevator you got stuck in before?"  Why yes.  Yes it is.  But that was 2007!  I thought I'd be safe after eight years!

Next I pressed the emergency call button but it either was not working or was not staffed that early in the morning (which would rather defeat the purpose) but there was no help there either.  I started to call 911 but felt rather ridiculous so I renewed my campaign of banging on all the elevator buttons.  Finally the doors opened.  All told, I was trapped about 8 minutes but it felt like 8 hours.

It seemed that the doors wouldn't open because the elevator car had not risen all the way to the level of the pavement.  Not that I noticed this, in my panic and haste to get the hell off the elevator, so as I stepped out, I caught the toe of my boot on the ledge of pavement and came crashing down on my left knee.  Of course, it had to be my left knee, the one I've busted open three times before.  My jeans were ripped, my knee was skinned and already swelling and bruising, and to add insult to injury my backpack had flown off my shoulder to the concrete, bursting the two clementines I had in there for snacks and rendering my backpack and everything in it wet and sticky.  Yay.

So it seemed that I wasn't going to practice Tai Chi all weekend as I'd been hoping.  I've done some anyway, but not nearly as much as I'd wanted to and it did cause some pain.  It's hard to be graceful and flowing when your grapefruit of a knee is throbbing.  But I'm not giving up!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A thread on a forum I frequent reminded me of my experience with Radish Man many years ago.  Have I ever told you guys about Radish Man?  If I have, it's probably been long enough that you don't remember either. One day I was shopping at one of the warehouse stores and got in line to check out.  In front of me was an older gentleman who was buying one thing and one thing only:  radishes.  But he was buying what must have been every single radish in the store - seriously, the belt was completely full of radishes - radishes and nothing else, not even a keg of ranch dressing.

Of course I didn't say anything to him because I think it's rude to comment on the purchases of strangers, except maybe to ask where they found a particular item, but I wondered then, and still wonder, when Radish Man happens to cross my mind, what on earth someone does with that many radishes.  If I saw someone buying copious amounts of fruit, I'd think jam or jelly making, or maybe canning.  But this was a metric shit-ton of radishes; even if you were making crudite platters for 1,000 people, you wouldn't need anywhere near the amount of radishes that he was buying.  BTW, these were the tiny, round, red radish variety, so he wasn't making horseradish sauce; that's a different radish.  While it's certainly possible for someone to have a deep and abiding fondness for radishes, it seems like so many would go bad before he could consume them, as much as he was buying.

Seriously, Radish Man - what were you going to do with that many crates of radishes???

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Rush is touring this year and it's rumored that it may be their last big tour.  Matt, Bo and I are huge Rush fans and have been for many many years, since before we were teenagers.  Because of varying circumstances through the years, we have never been able to go to a Rush concert together, all three of us.  A couple of times we were all at the same show, but not sitting together.   In 2012,  Matt and I went to Clockwork Angels together, but Bo had a gig himself and couldn't attend.  This time, though, we are all free of extraneous obligations and all have enough money for tickets, so THIS TIME, we all get to go together!

Except TicketMaster had to ruin things.  I was online, logged in to my account well before the 10:00 AM start time of the sale.  I have a TicketMaster account tied to a valid credit card with plenty of credit so it should have been a simple matter of clicking 6, clicking best available and done.  Except.  This is the email I just sent TicketMaster, which you have to read in this guy's voice, and if you don't understand why that's necessary, I don't know how to help you:

I don't have a question; I want you to know that I hate you.  My brothers and I have been Rush fans since before we were even teenagers but because of various circumstances, we have rarely been able to attend a Rush show together.  This time we were going to, but thanks to your horrible website and both your visual and audio captchas rejecting me EIGHT times, even though I am obviously not a bot, I was not able to buy tickets until almost 10:20 and now we have utterly crap seats.  You have ruined for us what is rumored to be Rush's last big tour.  I will not close by threatening never to use Ticketmaster again; we both know that I will when some band that I cannot bear to miss goes on tour.  But I will not like it; I hate you and your terrible purchasing process.  Worst.  Ticket-buying. Experience. Ever.

I know they won't care, but it made me feel better.  TicketMaster.  I hates them.

Talking on the phone to my brother Bo, who comments on the above:  I understand that you guys want to be money-grubbing, thieving bastards, but you're so bad at it!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Several years ago, my phone rang and it was The Boss.  He said, utterly without preamble and completely devoid of context, "Hey, what kind of soup do I like?"  I suppose it says something about the longevity or the closeness of our relationship that I didn't even need it narrowed down to a specific cuisine before I answered, "Hot and sour soup.  And you want fried won ton strips."  The client placed the catering order and all was well.

Subsequently, I found a FANTASTIC recipe for hot and sour soup (email me if you want it; it's truly fabulous) and when I make it, I usually bring him a few containers of individual servings.  Today, I took advantage of my day off to make a Crock-Pot of lovely soup, and I emailed The Boss.  "I am making Chinese soup today if you want any."

He replied, "Is that pints or quarts?  I need to know which cooler to bring."

My boss is a Chinese soup pig.

In other sports news, my Chinese soup recipe requires organic tofu.

As opposed to what, exactly?!? Man-made plastic tofu?!?

Errgh, honestly.

(My dog says he wants, and I should use, bacon tofu.  I don't think he gets the point.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"I hope I never get so old that I can go into Toys R Us without seeing tons of stuff I want!" declared I, as I exited Toys R Us with a giant bag after having spent $70.58.  No, it's not a niece or nephew's birthday - I needed a Rocket Raccoon plushie, a Rocket Raccoon action figure, a dancing baby Groot and a wee plushie mooshroom.

Actually, that's not true; the mooshroom was for Alan.

The dancing baby Groot has a built-in tune, but he also reacts to ambient music and sound.  I'm going to try to upload a video to Instagram later of him dancing to "California Sun" by the Ramones, because each time they get to the lyric, "They twist, and I twist", baby Groot actually twists.  Yes, watching Guardians of the Galaxy re-cemented Rocket Raccoon as my favorite Marvel Comics hero.  (My favorite DC Comics hero is of course the incomparable Neil Gaiman's Sandman.  I still love you too though, Batman.)

Currently reading Amy Poehler's memoir, Yes Please.  I haven't formed a definitive opinion just yet - it's interesting enough and entertaining enough for me to keep reading, but I find her constant whinging about how hard it is to write a book tiresome.  It is not hard to write a book.  It is pathetically easy and facile to write a book; I think what Amy actually means (and I'd agree with this) is that it is difficult to write a good book.  But those are different things.

That griping aside, Amy Poehler has written the funniest sentence I think I have ever, or will ever, read.  She is discussing her inherent tendency to snoop and writes about finding, in her parents' room, "...some well-worn copies of Playboy that seem positively charming compared to the up-close butt fisting that pops up on my computer these days when I am trying to order salad tongs from Target."

Saturday, January 03, 2015

So on Tuesday, I find myself down at the pub drinking with Matt (and our families) when Notre Dame beats LSU by a field goal in the last few seconds of the Music City Bowl. And yet, blows were not exchanged, no harsh words were uttered, happiness and goodwill prevailed.  Leftover Christmas cheer, or deep and abiding sibling love?  You be the judge.