:Chloroform in Print
I want to go to the top of a really tall building, take a leak, finish, zip up, and then have my pee hit the ground. I want my entire pee to be airborne. Man I love beer.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Tie

100 percent Imported polyester
100 percent Imported polyester

I recently liberated one of my dad's old neckties from a rarely-opened closet at my parents' house, where it was languishing on a hanger with others of its breed, pressed between my high school letterman's jacket and an old sports coat. Though all the ties on the rack were ugly - some approaching hideous, especially the ones that dared to pair textured fabric with chocolate brown and royal blue stripes - one stood out as not only salvageable, but truly remarkable. Rich crimson in color, it sports an attractive horizontal paisley pattern, with muted silver highlights. My only concern is that it might not be wide enough.

From its vintage, which I estimate at somewhere in the period between 1967 and 1972, it is of course fashioned from polyester. Even better, the label on the back boasts that it has been tailored from "100% imported polyester." No sir, no second-rate domestic polyester here, inferior shit harvested by lumpen Nebraskan farmers and spun by illiterate white trash in Tennessee. Judging from the ornate design, this could only be Algerian (or perhaps Morrocan) polyester, plucked from the branches of the native polyester tree by nubile virgins and hand-woven by French artisans sequestered in underground catacombs. First class all the way.

Friday, July 22, 2005
Things I'd Like to Tell the Younger Me
1. Turn away from the Dark Side now before it's too late.

Well, that about covers it.

What I got from working at Microsoft

when you leave a stealthy fart behind,
for someone in the hall to find,
or in the corner (lurking there)
[my favorite place is on
do You
affect a wicked grin,
as if your mind were caving in?
that's as may be. But never mind,
when you leave a stealthy fart behind.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Squirrel Implicated in Arson Attempt
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Squirrel fires regular occurrence in Canadian border town

The Associated Press
OSOYOOS, British Columbia -- Once again, a squirrel clambering onto a power line has been blamed for a brush fire in this border town north of Oroville, Wash.

Firefighters were summoned Monday after a squirrel scrambled up a Fortis Inc. utility pole, got zapped and landed in flames on some dry brush outside a fruit packing business, Fire Chief Ross Driver said.

By the time a pumper truck and a bush truck arrived, nearby residents had doused the flames.

"This identical incident has happened on the same pole one or two times a year for the past several years," Driver said.

Each time, firefighters find a dead, burned squirrel at the base of the utility pole, he said.

Driver said he didn't know what Fortis could do to prevent future squirrel-caused fires.

Friday, July 15, 2005
Shi Shi ay yi yi
Some of the beaches we will visit include: Shi Shi, Ruby, Rialto, Kalaloch. As much as I love the Oregon beaches, and they are stunning, there is something more fierce and elemental about the northern Wa beaches. I will take so many pictures. I will read books and fly dual line stunt kites. I will teach my two sons how to respect the fragile wildlife of tidepools while allowing them the freedom to responsibly kill a few starfish too. Not randomly kill starfish. Of course not. That would be wrong and teach my sons the completely wrong lesson. We will pick out the ugliest starfish. The ones that buzzkill the beauty. Those we will throw like frisbees against seastack rocks. The cruel eugenics of marine aesthetics.

-- Bob, The Unbearable Bobness of Being

Hiking to Point of Arches

Then there was the trip to Shi Shi, a remote beach up on the northingist westingest part of the Coast. Nothing exceptionally foolish and stupid happened, so there isn't much of a story. Oh, there was the bit on our first night there, but it's hardly worth telling.

The buoy is conquered
Before the fall.

The hike takes a long time, more than a mile through the forest and then another couple of miles on the beach out to the Point of Arches. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived. More time passed as we set up camp and then explored the giant sea rocks made accessible by low tide.

Just above the waterline, the rocks were encrusted with enormous mussels, bigger than your fist. We tore dozens from their moorings and hauled our take back to camp. By this time we were ravenous, and forced to wait interminably as our cheap powdered bouillabaisse soup mix slowly heated over a tiny Coleman burner. So we turned to drink.

Each of us brought a pint of hard liquor. (Theo and I each made the especially foolish decision, respectively, of tequila and 151-proof rum.) Since we were backpacking, our store of liquids was limited and we were forced to drink the booze straight.

After hiking all day, a pot of soup was hardly enough to take the edge off our hunger. As soon as the beach fire developed a nice bed of coals we began roasting mussels, ripping the shells apart by hand and devouring them messily. Vasky melted a stick of butter in a Sierra cup, which was passed sloppily around the fire as we grew bloated and stupid with booze and shellfish.

I can still picture those enormous, conceited mussels, glossy blue-black shells hoary with barnacles and sea-lichens, steaming flesh a lurid, toxic orange. The meat alone weighed nearly half a pound in the big ones, and I could sense their pompous outrage at being ignominiously plucked and casually slaughtered over open flames. They would be revenged.

It was full dark now as we continued swilling liquor straight from the bottle and roasting mussels with wanton decadence. On occasion, then more frequently, someone would complain of a crunchy mouthful, but a certain amount of sand and shell grit was inevitable under the circumstances.

Eventually we abandonded the fire and ran amuck on the beach, wading out into a surf that sparkled with phosphoresence, throwing rocks, and drunkenly pontificating on our own stupidity.

The next morning dawned clear and hot. I awoke inside the sweltering nylon cocoon of my tent, gasping for breath and clutching my head in agony. Hot, acrid heartburn rose in my throat. Lunging for the tent flap, I struggled the zipper open and crawled out to find a scene of almost battlefield carnage.

Flies were everywhere, and a hideously foul stench lay on the camp like a thing alive. What looked to be hundreds of shells littered camp, befouled with already-decomposing bits of mussel flesh, seaweed, and barnacles. Gagging, a scorching mixture of high-octane Rum and stomach acid threatening to erupt, I staggered out from under the trees to the open beach.

I sat in the shade of a great rock for a long time, head in hands, moaning and trembling. Back in the trees, I could hear the same awakening ritual I had suffered as it was played out by each of my companions in turn. Theo puked just outside his tent, and a supremely foul miasma of regurgitated tequila and mussels drifted out to the beach in a poisonous cloud. Soon, we all lay sprawled across drift logs like shipwreck survivors, harassed by sand-fleas and a hateful, searing sun.

Eventually the healing salt air began to revive me, and I regained enough composure to blearily survey the surroundings. Wandering over to the fire, I found Vasky's forgotten Sierra cup sitting wedged between two rocks. It was full of sand, a thin glaze of butter on top. Flashing back to the previous night, I realized that, conservatively, we had each probably eaten a good quarter cup of sand along with our mussels.

Suddenly I was terrified to take a shit.

Monday, July 11, 2005
Quitcher Goddamn Bitchin'
Open message to my fellow bloggers:

1. It's a blog, and posting to one is called blogging. That's what it's called, like it or not. If you have a special name for jogging, or felching, or whatever else it is you do frequently and compulsively, do you go around bitching about how the name sucks and should be changed to the word you prefer? Do you expect people to care? I think hope not.

2. If you hate the term 'blogosphere' (which is pretty stupid), don't use it. Every person who makes a point of announcing They Hate the Word Blogosphere only adds another reference for Google to pick up, thus perpetuating it. Blogosphere! Blogosphere! Blogosphere!

3. Announcing how you despise the terms or concepts of "blog," "blogging," or "the blogosphere" really sets you apart from all the other bloggers out there. You are God's special unique snowflake and way cooler than all those other dorks who are secretly hoping their blog will turn into a book deal. Now get me a beer.

The Ozette Raccoon Incident, pt. 7
Approaching darkness meant the raccoons would soon grow bold, and we were Ready. Theo positioned himself at the front of the shelter, clutching his fishing rod and quivering with mischevious anticipation. I was stationed nearby, hunkered down, ready to spring into action. The others watched at a safe distance.

For a few minutes nothing happened. Then, quiet rustling sounds could be heard back in the salal. Cans rattled together gently, and the fishing line twitched a bit. Then everything happened at once.

Rustle! Clattter! The rod twitched once, twice, and suddenly:

"I GOT ONE!" yelled Theo as the tip of the rod dove. "'COON ON!" He reefed back to set the snare as the rod bounced wildly. "YEEHAW!"

A terrific din of panicky snarling and spitting exploded from the salal, and the bushes shook with the force of frantic struggle. "REEL 'IM IN!" I shouted, leaping to my feat in a burst of adrenaline. Theo reefed back again…and the line whipped back from the bushes and went slack.

"Damn! It got away!" Theo said dejectedly.

Suffice it to say that we were not harassed by our little friends for the rest of the trip – in fact, the remainder was so uneventful that there is nothing left to report.

But to this day, I am still a little disappointed he didn't get the raccoon all the way into camp.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
The Ozette Raccoon Incident, pt. 6
The next day, the weather cleared somewhat and we were able to spend most of the day out in the open beachcombing and partaking of Banger Sports.

* Quick aside about Bangers and Banger Sports. Banger is a generic term for individuals (usually, but not always, boys) with a prediliction for unstructured outdoor activities, particularly ones that a) break things b) make noise c) possess a strong likelihood of personal injury, or d) all of the above. Banger Sports include, but are not limited to:

  • Throwing rocks
  • Throwing rocks at each other
  • Breaking or chopping limbs from trees
  • Hitting things with sticks
  • Hitting each other with sticks
  • Banging on logs or rocks
  • Detonation of fireworks or homemade explosives
  • Detonation of fireworks toward each other (i.e. bottle rocket fights)
  • Damming creeks
  • BB gun fights

In its more advanced stages (i.e. "adulthood") the definition expands to include the use of power implements, heavy machinery, larger explosives, firearms, and vehicles. Bangers are distributed throughout the United States and most regions of the world, but are particularly concentrated in the American Northwest (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, northern California) or anywhere else with lots of woods. No known cure exists, hence the saying "Once a Banger, Always a Banger."

An argument for euthanasia by bullkelp.
This person was beaten unconscious with a bullkelp club shortly after this picture was taken.
While roaming the beach, I came across a common feature of the coastal Washington beach, a washed-up bull kelp. (For those unfamiliar with bull kelp, it closely resembles a bullwhip, hence the name. Ranging from 6-12 feet in length, one end is a large, rounded club up to 4 inches in diameter, which tapers smoothly to a point on the other. The business end of a fresh kelp bullwhip is a solid weapon, weighing several pounds and possessing just enough flexibility to deliver a heavy blow with a touch of snap for emphasis.)

Still faintly paranoid from my earlier encounter with the racoons, I sensed the need to fashion a weapon and used my pocketknife to cut off the thick end of the bullwhip to form a hefty, 2-foot-long shilleleagh.

Meanwhile - the xylophone complete - a fresh idea seized Theo and he disappeared into the shelter, clutching his collapsible fishing rod, muttering to himself, and giggling maniacally. We returned for lunch to find him rooting about in the salal on the edge of the camp yard, accompanied by an odd clattering noise. He sprang from the bushes.

"Check it out! See, the line goes here to the trapâ€" he managed before dissolving into giggles. It was truly inspired and potentially hazardous, the hallmark of any Theo invention. He had fashioned a snare at the end of his fishing line, which led out to a precisely stacked pile of our empty tin cans. The snare was placed at a strategic spot inside one of the messier cans, where a greedy raccoon paw was likely to be exploring.

"When a raccoon gets in there, he's gonna knock over the cans so I know he's there, right? Then when I pull back on the rod the snare will loop up around his paw, and then I got 'im. It'll be like COON FISHIN'!"

Instinctively grasping the brilliance of his plan, I was on board immediately.

"Yeah! And then when you reel 'im in, I'll beat the hell out of the little bastard with this club!" I burst out, brandishing my kelp weapon for emphasis. "The fuckers won't know what hit 'em!"

At the time, it did not occur to me that this was a criminally stupid idea with a very real possibility - assuming "success" - of one or both of us getting mauled by an enraged, potentially rabid raccoon. Remember, this is an animal that is fundamentally similar to the bear, possessing formidable teeth and claws, and known for eviscerating dogs 3 times its size just for fun.

Predictably, there was no attempt to dissuade us.

to be continued

The Flame Weeder
Here's a quick primer on flame weeders, a wonderful agricultural implement that nobody should be without. Originally posted over at GardenWeb. You can buy your own here.

They are lots of fun. Essentially, they're a flamethrower.

These devices consist of a sturdy, 2' metal shaft with an oversized hood at the business end, a handgrip, and a knob to control the fuel flow. A standard propane hose connects it to the tank; those on a budget usually opt to go with the ubiquitous 5-gallon tank, but this entails lugging around one of those big clunky things. A highly recommended upgrade is the model with a smaller, 2.5-gallon tank mounted on a small backpack frame; this allows full mobility plus the thrill of knowing you are carrying what amounts to a high-powered bomb on your back should things go seriously awry.

Flame weeder being used as recommended by manufacturer
Flame weeder being used as recommended by manufacturer

At full blast, the flame weeder emits a 2,000-degree flame that extends up to 18 inches from the barrel. You can imagine the possibilities.

The ostensible use for these is weeding - the heat ruptures the plant's cell walls so it internally "bleeds" to death. It's the 600-pound gorilla of weed control, so it's not recommended for use around your prized annuals, but it's fantastic for chores such as keeping your gravel driveway free of dandelions and such. Better yet, most plants require repeated treatments to kill off completely, which gives you the excuse to whip out the flamethrower on a regular basis.

When things go awry.

There are, of course, many other uses, limited only by one's imagination and collection of accidental fire suppression tools. Wasp and hornet nests, provided they aren't attached to something dangerously flammable (like your roof), are instantly obliterated - particularly satisfying when you are seeking revenge. Pile of wet brush you'd like to burn and don't want to wait for it to dry out? Mr. Flame Thrower at your service. (No gasoline required.)

The final side benefit is neighbor envy. I can report with full confidence that -- to a man -- every guy who witnesses this baby in action will react in the following way:

  1. Their eyes light up with evangelical zeal.
  2. They ask to use it, and upon being granted permission, do so with a gusto usually only exhibited by children.
  3. They immediately begin plotting to purchase their own.
  4. They will purchase their own within a 6-month time frame.

There is an equally consistent reaction from their wives/girlfriends, which consists of:

  1. Widened eyes, signifying a reaction ranging from mild alarm to outright terror.
  2. Announcing "I'm not sure this is such a good idea."
  3. Upon seeing that it's not quite as dangerous as it looks, grudging acceptance. After all, the driveway does look much nicer.
  4. Some will venture to try it, but without quite the same air of demented glee that the guys exhibit.

The Ozette Raccoon Incident, pt. 5
After a solid 8-month hiatus, our adventure continues...

After repeated efforts I was able to convince the group that at least one person needed to stay in camp at all times to fend off the raccoons. Justin and Killjoy agreed to stay in camp, and I was freed to emerge from the perpetually twilit canopy of trees and out to the beach. There I found Theo busy at work, using hunks of driftwood and scraps of weather-beaten rope to construct a large, crude xylophone.

I had been friends with Theo for several years so this type of behavior did not surprise me – in fact, had he failed to use found items to engineer and construct an ingenious contraption of questionable usefulness, I would have known he wasn't feeling well. Following his lead, but with a less-developed sense of warped ingenuity, I hunted around to find a chunk of log for a drum and something to use as drumsticks. (Neither of us were especially talented musicians, but true to our Banger heritage we both enjoyed generating noise.)

Darkness was approaching, and everyone returned to the storm shelter to cobble together another meal and settle in for the night. As these activities were taking place, my earlier warnings about the raccoons – previously dismissed as stoned, paranoid babbling – were proven accurate. At regular intervals, a raccoon would emerge from the salal and carefully survey the situation before returning to the underbrush.

"Those little fuckers will steal every ounce of food in camp if we aren't careful," I warned. My companions continued jeering at me out of habit, but with much less conviction than previously. After bedding down for the night, we discovered just how determined the raccoons were.

The raccoon displays its inner nature.
The raccoon displays its inner nature.

Within fifteen minutes of the last light being extinguished, a stealthy scrabbling noise was heard. Theo grabbed a flashlight, sat up suddenly, and swept the yard with the beam. There, momentarily frozen in the spotlight, was a raccoon – a mere six feet from the shelter. Startled, it scurried into the underbrush.

Twice more, this game was repeated, spurring the decision to move all of the food and kitchen gear toward the back of the shelter where it was less exposed. After settling back into our bags, it seemed that the issue was resolved, and for a good half an hour there were no disturbances. All was quiet on the Raccoon Front. Or so we thought.

It turned out they were waiting for us to fall asleep. I was just on the edge of consciousness, pleasantly drifting away, when suddenly: Vasky (sleeping nearest the entrance) snorts and stirs. A hiss. A snarl. Awkward thrashing, yelling, chaos. Terrified, blinking faces briefly illuminated as flashlight beams played crazily everywhere. A commotion in the nearby salal. And then it was over.

"It was on my damn bag!" sputtered the Vasky. The raccoons were trying to climb over us to get to the food. It was obvious that the situation had escalated, and an appropriate response was rapidly formulated.

I quickly gathered several large, hard fir cones, chunks of wood, and rocks from the yard and set up the stockpile of ammo next to my bag. Theo waited with flashlight at the ready. It was time to start fighting back.

10 minutes later, there was a rustle from the salal, and we could hear a raccoon approaching. Theo whispered, "wait for itâ€..wait for itâ€.NOW!" He shot the flashlight beam toward the sound, catching the nasty little bugger squarely in the light. At the same time, I sat up and fired a fir cone at the momentarily-startled beast. Although I missed, it hissed in surprise and retreated quickly, hastened by a chunk of wood and another fir cone.

Minor celebration ensued. Not only had we figured out a way to fight them off, it was fun. I was a little disappointed that they quit trying to get in after only a couple more rounds, and I had only managed to score a single direct hit.

That night, we slept the sleep of the just and victorious, knowing that only through our heroic efforts was Carl Buddig was saved from a cruel and inhumane end. Although now that I think of it, we were probably saving the raccoons' ends from something cruel and inhumane.

to be continued


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Location: The PNW

I like brown liquor, strong beer, barbeque, and brunettes. Also, you suck.

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