Scheduling Stuff

While I knew I left San Diego for Prague on May 1st, it has come to my attention that May 1st is in fact on Tuesday, not Monday as I previously believed. Good thing I noticed today’s date this morning.

1

Plato Don’t Know Crap

It’s that odd in-between time, the quiet time before sleep comes. The day is finished, done, written, but the next has not begun. And here I am, astride that gap yet contained within it, neither here nor there. It is a time when today does not exist, only yesterday and tomorrow. Yesterday was a good day, although not according to plan.

Yesterday was not perfect. The world is not perfect; it is a flawed orb which cannot even manage a circle in its orbit around the sun. Plato thought that because we are able to imagine perfection, that ideal must exist somewhere. I don’t think so. Not for yesterday, at any rate. The ideal was too full of contradictions, multiple wishes that were inherently incompatible.

I wish I’d had more time with Rose. She remains my favorite bartender in the whole damn world, and I wanted to tell her of the time I was in a little place, nine time zones away, and the bartender broke a glass. “Rose!” called out my brother. They have never met, but I had told him that I think of Rose whenever I hear glass break. I did find a moment to tell Rose she rocked — I’d never, ever, fail to do that — but it was a quick hand signal over other people’s heads. Plato would have me remove all those people, and replace the hand gesture with something more familiar, a more substantial expression of a relationship that has only on fleeting occasions overcome the wood and copper bar between us.

Needless to say, if Plato gave me license to create that ideal, Rose would be less than pleased. All those people are her livelihood, and her friends. Her happy greeting when she sees me is genuine, just as it is with dozens of other regulars. Those people at the bar were her friends, and making them disappear would not make her happy. Hell, they’re my friends, too, some of them.

And then there’s Amy and Gene and Tom. Less time with Rose meant more time with them. What are you going to do about that, Mr. Plato? Moving toward one part of the ideal takes me farther from another. Yesterday was not perfect, nor was it even remotely possible for it to be so. I just wish I could have talked to Rose a bit more.

The Train

I am sitting now, in the wee small hours, upstairs in the lounge car of a train plunging through the night. There will be no recounting the collision of feckless vagabonds, angry locals, young canadians, disaffected writers, beer, vodka and tequila, salted with a skeptical but attractive token female presence. I will not speak of the arm wrestling, of the violated pickle, or of the face graffiti. Stories of knives and vomit will have to wait for a more fictionlike vehicle.

But what does that leave? It all started innocently enough, when I quite accidentally sat in the only seat on the whole (accessible) train with an electrical outlet. Around this modern-day watering hole a variety of species came to taste of the current, but ultimately it was the proximity of the bar that made the Netherlounge the place to be. The cars on this train have two levels. Most of the seating is on the top, and the best seats for watching the world go by are on the top of the lounge car. Windows don’t matter much at night, however, and the lower floor of the lounge car is the source of alcohol.

The bar closes at a humane hour, but the Netherlounge remains the place where there is no possible way you can disturb other passengers. I was having a decent conversation with Jesus and, um… Franklin (not a good guess) and Shawn and another guy when the canadians arrived, token female in tow. Not-Franklin didn’t last long after that, he was hoping the train would be late enough to delay his deployment to Iraq for a week, but he wasn’t interested in being stupid.

The rest of us, it was demonstrated, were. The Canadians brought a jug of their Russian friend, Smirnov, along with his little buddy Sauza.

I identified myself as a writer. I’ve simply run out of other things to call myself. This put me in an odd sort of spotlight, as the Canadians had copious paper and pen just so they could jot down the stray word or two. Writing games ensued, and more than once I found myself sitting at a table, staring at the ruled and impatient sheet, the only requirement that I Be A Writer, while the happy earnest folks waited. I read the nimble thoughts the others jotted, while turgid phrases oozed through my mushy synapses. Not my finest hour. I am, I must acknowledge, not a man of swift wit. It would have been worse but a random word from the sole female bailed me out at a critical moment.

The sole female I impressed almost less than the guy hitting on her. She was sober. The guy hitting on her was not. It will never happen, but should one member of the male of our species ever mutate the ability to say, “you know, I’m not at my best right now, I’ll save my hitting on this girl I like for another day,” that self-restraint gene would easily out-compete the rest of us. A man who did not regularly make an ass of himself at the most critical moments would pretty much have his choice of reproductive partners (not counting competition with assholes). That it hasn’t already happened just shows that such an aberration is incompatible with the Y-chromosome.

But those are just side stories. Puppet shows and poorly-done shadow figures in the flashlight beam on a canvas tent wall. On the main stage there was drink and danger, dynamite and zippo lighters with perhaps a bit of kerosene and enriched uranium (the Canadians jotted down a quote from me to that effect, my sole moment of sparkle). Now it is a time-zone boosted 3:40 in the morning, and I am really, really tired.

But you know, it was all right, tonight. It’s why you ride the train.

Addendum: tonight there will be no sleep. While I sat in the lounge car watching the world slide laterally by and pecking out this episode, the big guy in the seat next to mine quite naturally annexed the Sudetenland, as it were. Comparisons to aquatic mammals aside, it seemed a shame to disturb him.

Killing Time

I’m at Central Connection CafĂ© in Albuquerque right now, with about an hour to kill before I need to be at the train station. Thanks to the train being a wee bit late I have time to enjoy an fine beer. That’s not really news, but the fact I was carded was fun. (For those keeping score, people are drinking who weren’t even born when I came of age.)

I forgot to check Trip A on the Miata odometer as my voyage began a new phase today; but the little machine’s role in the adventure is at an end. The next few hundred miles will be by rail; I’ll see if I can make up find out the mileage for this part.

I haven’t been on a train ride in this country for a long time; I’m looking forward to a relaxing overnight trip with time to get some writing done. We’ll see how reality deals with my expectations.

Your daily metaphor

If burgers were music, green chile would be the electric guitar.

The High Country

Yep, the mini road trip just crossed the 5,000 mile mark. I’m sitting in the High Country Lounge in Chama, New Mexico. The Saloon side was closed, although it seems open from where I’m sitting now on the restaurant side of the operation. Next door is an internet business with broadband, but they are closed on Sundays. Luckily for me they did not turn off their WiFi thingie while they were out. I sat in the parking lot and double-checked that I had indeed uploaded the latest Jer’s Novel Writer for the kids at Apple to evaluate. So, hopefully everything’s cool now.

The waitress is stretched a little thin right now; the first customers have arrived over there and she’s in charge of both sides. She sounds like she’s from Wisconsin as she greets regulars warmly. “It’s not music without Bob Marley,” she just said, which sounds pleasantly odd when spoken in a Wisconsin accent.

Other than that, not much to report. It was nice to see all the rock stacks still standing in the morning sunshine; I got a few more pictures that maybe will show them better. I’ll try to get a photo episode up soon.

Addendum: I am on the Saloon side now, a place I’ve always enjoyed being. The place manages to be rustic without crossing the line into kitsch — just how they do this is not clear. They have the old bits of western paraphernalia on the walls, wagon wheels in the divider between the sittin’ area and the bar, and all that. It just doesn’t seem contrived in a place like this. There is a fire crackling merrily in the corner (even sunny days in spring can be chilly up here), and that’s always a plus. Add a juke box with Bob Marley and Pink Floyd (turned up to respectable levels), a reasonable beer selection, and friendly conversation flowing through the spokes of the wagon wheel, and you’ve got yourself a nice place to hang. If you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and drop by the High Country.

The Fields! The Fields!

I signed up to be judged at the Apple Design Awards this year. I really wanted to get one more release out before submitting, but it turns out that builds I do on my laptop aren’t working right. It doesn’t like some of the files I transferred over to the other machine, but it won’t say why. (Actually, is was only by accident that I discovered that a couple of the dialog boxes won’t load. I almost did a crippled release, which would not have pleased the judges.

There are two steps for entering. Fill out an online form, then send in the software. It did not go smoothly. Here is the message I sent to them:

OK, so finally I took the time to enter. I went to the site, selected country and type of entrant, then went to the next page and filled out all the stuff. Then I hit send. D’oh! Forgot to click the accept button by the rules. Did that, clicked go on, and on the next page all the fields were empty! The fields! The fields! All that work! All those words, lost, gone forever. Then I hit the back button, thinking, those words are still back there somewhere! Safari will know them.

Somewhere in there the “Thanks for registering” screen came up. At this point I have no idea whether you got my lovingly-crafted submission or whether you got a bunch of empty fields. As a writer I am required by law to be neurotic, so rather than waiting for you to contact me if something’s wrong, I am compelled to bother you about it.

ALSO, just so we’re on the up-and-up, I spend a lot of time in the Czech Republic, which for some reason is not an eligible country. (Yet China, pirate nation, is. I don’t get that.) Anyway, While this was mostly developed in San Diego, and I’m in New Mexico right now (which is mostly in the US), complainers and whiners could point to my strong Czech presence (although I don’t have a visa there and can’t stay longer than 90 days at a stretch) as grounds for disqualification. I’d rather you knew that now, rather than after I get the best in show prize. Really, my primary place of business is my laptop.

The best answer would be to make the Czech Republic eligible. Heck, why exclude any EU nation?

Thanks for your help.

After the form went in I got an automatic reply, with instructions on how to upload my software. It turned out to be remarkably simple. They have a cool thing set up where I had a temporary virtual ftp account of some sort that automatically put my entry in a bin where they could match it up with the entry. Pretty slick.

That was a couple of days ago. I’m in the wild unknowns of Northern New Mexico right now, where ‘broadband’ is thought by most to be an all-female musical group. I just managed to get online (dialup is painful) and there was a polite reply from the folks at Apple waiting for me. The form they got was filled out properly, but they said they didn’t have the software I uploaded. That’s the part that had worked flawlessly! Now I must scurry tomorrow to find broadband and upload the puppy again, before the deadline. Good thing I got some rock-stacking in today (a brief but heavy snowfall just added to the charm).

A message to the Gatorade marketing team.

I was in the grocery store yesterday. My shopping list had three items: beer, tea, and Gatorade. (I was thirsty.)

I found the tea no problem and then went over to the gatorade section. I was standing there, slowly going cross-eyed, when a helpful employee asked if she might be of some help. I started with an easy one, a question I already knew the answer to, but just had to ask anyway. “Don’t they have the half-gallon size anymore?” The gallon jugs were still there, but they’re too big to drink from while driving. They had the quarts, but out in the desert with the top down I go trough those things awfully fast. It costs more, and there’s more packaging cluttering up my floorboards and eventually destroying the Earth.

“No,” the friendly woman replied. “They have those, now.” She gestured to the eight-packs of pint sized bottles. Take my objections to the quart, multiply by two, and add a handle.

Somehow we managed to converse about the changing world of Gatorade sizes for a bit, then I asked my real question. “What the hell does a Riptide Rush taste like?” I was holding a bottle of purple liquid, and there was not a single word on the label to give any clue whatsoever as to what that liquid might do to my taste buds. (Answer: grape. Grape, Riptide Rush. Obvious in retrospect.) Not only are half the different concoctions not identified in any helpful way, there are now different series of meaningless flavors. There’s Gatorade AM, Gatorade Xtreme, and so forth. Presumably the AM is morning-friendly flavors. (I was hoping those had caffeine.) I think the real difference between the different series of flavors is the opacity of the liquid inside. Apparently as the day progresses one is inclined to increase opacity in one’s beverages.

In the end, the only meaningful clue to the flavors within was the color of the liquid. Despite the fact that Riptides are more well-known for killing swimmers than for providing a pleasing drinking experience (maybe it should be ocean water flavor — the last flavor a drowning man ever experiences), I went for the rush. Then I found one a very transparent orange-colored one mysteriously labeled “tangerine”. It was tangeriny, but way too sweet. I think that’s the innovation behind all these flavors, a lot more sugar. So much for being a thirst quencher.

The flavor I really wanted was Gatorade flavor, from back when there was just the one flavor. I scanned the yellow-green offerings for something like “original recipe”, but I was out of luck. Maybe it’s been renamed “Tangential Skylark” or something equally informative.

2

A Sports Comparison

There are many things that go into making a good sport. Different people respond to different aspects of competition and games. People who like situations that build slowly, punctuated by a significant event that breaks everything open, like baseball. People who like a game of intricate set pieces executed at great speed with great violence like American football. People who like to watch groups of dysfunctional thugs with one chief thug to each side score against each other at will enjoy the NBA.

I was watching a game tonight, and it was down to the last two minutes. It was a close game, the home team down by one. The clock kept ticking. The team that was behind began taking chances, desperate moves, score-at-all-costs moves. The clock, it kept on ticking. The losing team pulled out all the stops, giving up defense to just score one point to send the contest into overtime.

The clock kept ticking, until the game was over.

In an age when the last two minutes of a basketball game can easily take fifteen minutes, you have to appreciate hockey. Unless there is television butting in, the last two minutes don’t take substantially longer than any other two-minute period. If the game is close you can feel every second tick off as your team desperately scrambles. Just a little more time, you think as your heartbeat measures out your team’s life. Hang on just a little longer, you think if it’s your team facing the onslaught. But, as in life, the clock keeps ticking.

Baseball has no clock, and, except for periods of multiple pitcher changes, doesn’t change pace all that much. So that’s cool. It starts slow, so there’s not much use in stalling. Soccer could probably benefit from letting the fans know if the clock is running or not, because fake injuries can slow down the game to intolerable — when you’re ahead, hit the turf. At least some of the time you spend rolling around in apparent agony will be run off the official game time. Football slows down, increasing the intervals between plays until each execution constitutes a commercial break. In defense of football, however, when the losing team has the ball and is out of time outs, the game hits the fastest pace of the day, and that might be the most intense minutes in any sport. (Although spiking the ball to stop the clock should not be sanctioned.)

In football, however, there is a period before the final dash that is as slow as basketball, when teams are using their timeouts and “managing the clock”. On a coach’s report card Monday morning, clock management will be rated. Football is an incredibly complicated game, modern when you think of it, a team of specialists, and so now it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a “clock coach”, a guy on the sidelines constantly going through scenarios and whispering clock advice into the coach’s ear. That can be fun to watch. “What are you thinking!” you shout at the TV when your idea of clock management differs from that on the field.

I have no defense for the interminable last seconds of a basketball game.

In the end, though, if there’s a clock in the game I want it to be the enemy. It will not be managed, it will not negotiate. It ticks, it ticks, it keeps on ticking, until the final whistle blows. Advertisers will just have to deal with it.

1

A Mysterious Message

I was cleaning out the ol’ email in-box, with its buildup of messages accumulated while I was under a rock for a couple of days. There was one message that my email software thought was spam, and the from address certainly seemed spammish. The title was “Multimedia Message”, and the from address appeared to be gibberish. The content of the message was a photograph, nothing more, with no links, which could certainly still be spam.

Then I looked at the picture:

Mystery Photo

(I blocked out the phone number to protect the privacy of the dictionary seller.)

The number looks a lot like a Lost Alamos number (almost all of them start 662-). I expect that someone saw this message and thought it was funny enough to photograph with their phone camera and send to me through their telephone provider. But who? As I edited the picture the phone number itself started feeling eerily familiar, and now I’m wondering if this is a message for me to call that turned out to be a bit more clever than I am.

As an aside, I laughed almost as hard at the “Free Cat” message.

Friday the 13th

I woke to the sound of a phone ringing, a nasty little chirp made of ice picks and cold water. I closed my eyes tighter. Not my phone, not my problem. Out in the hall, just outside the door to my room, it rang and didn’t stop ringing, it’s shrill voice insistent. It almost won; I was about to give up and answer it when it finally fell silent once more. I took a chance and opened one bleary eye.

Apparently, it was daytime.

It was daytime when I went to sleep as well, I thought I remembered. Or was that the time before? Christ, what day was it anyway? I tried to do the math, to count the number of times it had been night since the others had gone away.

It was morning when they left, early morning, I was sure of that. I had been up late the night before, listening to the clock chime the hours away, small numbers gradually increasing. After the others pulled away I turned out all the lights and stood in the morning gloom, feeling the fatigue that seemed to rise from my gut, my eyes gritty and heavy.

I plodded back to my room and had a nice blink, maybe fifteen minutes or so, but then I pulled myself erect. No time for sleep.

How long ago had that been? I had slept once — twice, maybe? — since then, dreamless interludes of indeterminate length, waking up not refreshed but sustained, the hours demanded by my frail body grudgingly allowed.

It was gray in my room. I rolled over and looked out the curtainless window. Snow. Big, fat flakes driving in mad circles, while the wind moaned and howled. Had it been snowing when I went to bed? Vaguely I recalled watching the brightening rectangle of my window, watching dawn arrive on weary legs, ready for another go of it. I thought I remembered flurries.

Snow! There was nothing in the room to tell me what time it was, and the leaden sky outside gave no hints either. It was day, but which day? I looked at the snow. Hell, what month is it?

With a groan I sat up. My head hurt, triggering another memory of the previous waking period. What I was feeling now was just the echo of the cranial carpet-bombing I had endured previously; it was that pain that had finally driven me from my task and into bed.

What had I been drinking?

I turned to the nightstand and there was a glass, the culprit, an inch of liquid still remaining. Water. The substance of life, they call it, but there’s not a single molecule of caffeine in there. I had been going for stretches of more than twenty-four waking hours (probably) without the help of that most beloved of alkaloids, too intent even to pause and make tea. Something had to give, and it was the crippling headache of caffeine withdrawl that put an end to my marathon. Today was the day to restore a normal life.

I began to think of the things I should have been doing over the last few days. People had been trying to reach me, I assumed. When I could stand to look at my computer again I’d check. That may be a while yet. I climbed out of bed and surveyed the wreckage that was me. Hygene had obviously not been a priority for the last few days. The need to be clean was suddenly more powerful than the need to make a big ol’ cup of tea.

The stream of hot water was perfect, and I stood in a shower coma, letting the hot water pull me back into the real world. It was Friday, I guessed. Friday the 13th. I hoped so, anyway. If it was the 14th it was going to be a bad day.

Out of the shower, clean and dry, I felt my allergies kick up, an itching in my ears. Oh, man, a Q-tip would feel good just now. But I had no Q-tip. I searched the bathroom; along with the usual hodge-podge of cleaning supplies and spare toilet paper there was a blow dryer, a curling iron, two cup dispensers (one still with cups) stashed behind the toilet paper, a comb, a plunger, toothpaste from a byegone era, and I don’t remember what else but there were NO Q-Tips. The longer I searched the more my ears yearned for that intrusive cottony goodness. In the end I did my best with my little finger, but it just wasn’t the same.

Out of the shower, clean and dry, teeth scrubbed and ears un-Q-Tipped, I faced the next difficulty in the aftermath of the previous days: no clean clothes to put next to my now-clean skin. I chose the least bad and gathered all the rest to wash. What industry! What a go-getter attitude!

I dumped my clothes into the machine and recalled the special instructions she had given me before she left. It was necessary, I recalled, to put a weight on the lid or the machine would not operate. I dumped in my clothes, closed the lid and surveyed my options. Cotton/sturdy was the obvious choice (any clothes I might have had that weren’t sturdy are long gone). Fourteen minutes for whites, ten for colors. I split the difference and pulled the knob. Rather than a rush of water I was met by a low hum. Right, right, gotta push down on the lid. I pushed, I pulled, I fiddled with the knob, and did all those things that almost never work but we do anyway. Nothing but that same low hum. I raised the lid and observed only a tiny flow of water going in, barely a trickle. I applied my super-deductive skills (and remembered what I had been told) and with a few twists established that the hot water was almost completely blocked. I had meant to run on warm anyway, but the switch had originally been set to ‘hot’ and than meant ‘none’.

Next to the washer is a utility sink. In the sink was a large bucket. I knew what I had to do. While the washer availed itself of the cold water, I added a couple of bucketfulls of hot. Splash-click-rumble, the machine set to turning my dirty clothes into clean ones, no weights required. It was with a sense of smug saticfaction that I left the laundry room, suddenly quite sure that three days (probably) in a house is plenty long enough. It was time to hit the town! I went to fetch my shoes and… all my socks were in the wash.

Rats.

I considered going sockless, but not for very long. I considered sock substitutes, wondering what I could possibly use. Nothing came to mind. The thought of being trapped for the duration of the wash cycle and the longer delay for the dryer made me really, really want to get out of there. I had nowhere to go, but that didn’t matter.

“Maybe,” I thought, “there’s a cache of unused socks somewhere in the house.”

But where? The closet for my room held a surprisingly large supply of party goods, but nothing resembling a sock. There was even less hope across the hall, where the computers live. Just up the hall toward the living room there was one more bedroom, called the guest room, although now it has been overrun by a rampaging stamp collection. Still, a guy can hope.

In the corner of the room is a handcrafted double-dulcimer (on second thought, I imagine they’re all handcrafted) resting against a spinning wheel. Next to those is a large chest of drawers, crafted of rich wood, grandly massive, the side panels starting to split due to the dry climate here. On top was arrayed a row of bottles on either side of a small pitcher with a Czech flag in it. There was 151 Bacardi, an Australian wine called the Little Penguin, and a custom-labled wine from Believe In Me with the lable made to look like a call sheet, and fuego’s name right there on it. There was a couple of other wines and some little hexagonal bottles of czech booze. There was no dust on any of them.

The bottles, flag, and a large candle were arranged in an arc, as if paying homage to the flat box resting at the focus of their attention. The box was empty, but I recognized it as the box for one of those big silver belt buckles, another gift to fuego for working on a movie here in the land of enchantment.

I opened the first large drawer… and found a cache of unused socks.

No shit.

Socked and satisfied, I scraped the snow off the glass surfaces of the car and hit the road. The radio was playing a classic from the Nose Rock era, called, I believe, “Sing Through Your Nose”. The coda goes like this:

Backup singers:

  • Sing through your nose,
  • Sing through your nose, now
  • (repeat)

Lead Singer (about an octave higher, through nose)

  • Sing through your nose,
  • Ohhhh, sing through your nose

This goes on for a a while, then

Lead Singer (now positively wailing through his nose)

  • Sing through your nose,
  • Woah, oh, oh, oh Sweet child of mine,
  • Sing thgough your n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-se!

I think the band is Twisted Sister*. The song is oddly named “Sweet Child of Mine” or something like that. (Then again, if they called that one “Sing Through Your Nose”, they’d have to name all their songs that, and it would get confusing.) I may have gotten a couple of lyrics wrong; it’s hard to concentrate with other music playing in here right now.

‘Here’ is Pizza Hut, the last pizza place standing in this town — although ‘standing’ is a bit of an exaggeration when you look at the condition of the building and the fixtures. There are buckets everywhere; ‘roof’ is apparently a euphamism here. There is a cieling tile sagging with all the water it is holding. That’s not going to be pretty when it gives way. The green chile on the pizza is surprisingly good, though, and in the end, isn’t that what really matters?

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone, and Happy Birthday, Mom!

* Writer’s correction: The band above has been identified by a faithful reader as Guns ‘n’ Noses.

Welcome to Hut

I am sitting at Pizza Hut right now, the only customer in a crumbling building (I stepped around buckets to get to my table), working on a blog episode that will appear above this one, so you’ve probably already read it even though right now I haven’t finished writing it. Time’s a trip, man.

Although the place seems pretty quiet, I just heard this from the people working in the kitchen:

“We’re out of Pizza.”

The Latest Card

OK, so, I’ve been mucking around with a business card to give to people who are interested in my blog. It came time to try to print the dang things out, and I was a bit stumped. Microsoft Word has template files you can use to lay out a page, but I don’t have Word and really all I wanted was something where I could say, “Template 8371. Here’s my image. Go.”

I started by looking for a template someone has created for OpenOffice (you know it has to be out there), but I wasn’t getting results. I eventually went to Avery’s site, and searched for a template there, or the exact dimensions of the page if I had to make my own. I wasn’t having much luck when I saw something called “Print From the Web”. I signed up, told it the product number, and was thrown for a moment. I had to pick a pre-designed template. Finally I chose one, and on the next screen deleted everything in the template and added my image. Bing-bam, I had a PDF that exactly matches their paper. Except for not having a tabula rasa or single-image template, it could not have been simpler.

Good job, guys!

Unfortunately I seem to have a design that brings out the weaknesses of Ink Jet printers. Lots of light colors that require mixing in white – which is done by dithering the darker ink. Still, it’s better than nothing. There are probably printers that would do better, but to really get it done right, I guess I’d have to go to a professional shop. Not exactly in my price range for something as unimportant as this. Springing for the paper was my limit.

Here’s what I have right now. It’s funny how (at least with this printer) the MuddledRamblings.com stands out much more in print than on the screen. I had to boost up the background lettering quite a bit.

The almost-latest version

It’s a lot cleaner now, in it’s jumbled fashion. I just had to have a watermark so I used a question mark — not sure about that one. Then I just have to decide what email address to use ([email protected]/), and I’m golden.

Here’s a list of the words in the background, roughly from top to bottom. Kids! See who can find them all first!

  • Culture Shock
  • You can’t read this
  • Elephants of Doom
  • Jer’s Novel Writer
  • Fiction
  • The American Road Myth
  • Feeding the Eels
  • Writing
  • Eggs over-easy
  • Sex
  • Death
  • Words
  • Pirates!
  • Beer
  • Suicidal Squirrels
  • Guest Poetry
  • Stuff
  • Books
  • Rock Stacking
  • Bars of the World
  • Half-Baked Ideas
  • Muddled University
  • Idle Chit-Chat
  • Rhymes with
  • Accidental Actor
  • Get Poor Quick
  • Prague
  • Secret Laboratory
  • All For Me Grog

My Card

Every once in a while someone asks me for a card, or they want to know the address of my blog, but neither of us have anything to write on. The people that ask for the blog address inevitably ask again later. I figure having a card to hand those people will help.

For the last couple of days I’ve been spending a bit of time poking around in Baby Photoshop, and I think I’ve just about hit the limits of my graphic design abilities, such as they are. Here’s what I’ve got:

Muddled Rambling's business card?

Obviously this image isn’t actual size, I made it bigger so you could see the words better at screen resolutions. I started with my name much smaller and over to the side, but then I made it stand out more so people who look at the card later will be more likely to remember where it came from.

Of course, I’ve spent way more time on this than I should have. The first step was searching for fonts. I don’t have the original photoshop file for the logo at the top of the blog, nor do I have the fonts. There are some excellent sites chock-full of really cool free fonts, but I couldn’t find two of the ones I had used originally. Oh, well. Then came a long process of shifting things around, tweaking color and transparency, letter spacing, and on and on.

Photoshop was a little annoying while I was working on this. When I saved and reopened the file most (not all) of the text layers were converted to bitmaps, which meant it was much more difficult to edit them. Perhaps I should have used The Gimp from the get-go. It has it’s own annoying features, but now I’m afraid to close the file in Photoshop for fear of more bitmap conversions.

So what do you think? I’d very much like to hear from anyone who has an opinion about this sort of thing. I’ll be test-printing today to make sure that the smaller text is easily legible. (The part at the bottom reads “Sucks less than most blogs!”) The background text has a couple of holes in it, as well. Any suggestions for short words or phrases that apply to MR&HBI that I could fill in with?

Help Wanted

I’m not sure why it was I was reading that part of the newspaper. There wasn’t much in sports, I suppose, and the headline that a major cleric in the middle east is calling for the violent removal of US forces didn’t really seem like news. They know we’ll be leaving eventually anyway, so by speaking now they can take credit later. I have a pretty fertile imagination (lots of bullshit), but I cannot imagine any scenario in Iraq that even vaguely resembles us ‘winning’.

Which is to say, I was reading the classifieds this morning. There is a section in the Albuquerque Journal job classifieds called “Drivers Wanted”. They mean truck drivers, of course, people with special training and special licenses to haul freight or get cement to the site on time. Nestled among these was an ad by Dave. It seems he is a vietnam vet and he and his buddy are heading out in an RV to see America. They want a driver.

OK, OK, I’m not going to take the job. (I might keep scanning the ads for the two Victoria’s Secret vets looking for a driver.) That it would be pretty stupid for me to drop everything and hit the road for a few months is kind of a lost argument on me, and when it comes right down to it I’m probably better off hitting the road with strangers than I am with people that I would regret never speaking to again. But.

Just how unmoored am I? Do I even have a frickin’ keel? Free is nice; rudderless is lame.

I am a boat, not a raft. I am sailing unknown waters, but I’m still steering. There are clouds building on the horizon, a big blow is heading right for me, but I have a rudder and a keel and even sails, if no engine. Hitting the road with a couple of strangers could be the stuff of the next great American novel, but I’m already saturated. I simply can’t afford to do something like that. I’m behind already, not just with writing but with keeping up with friends, getting a 1.0 of Jer’s Novel Writer out, getting short stories to magazines and partials to agents, and to drop all of that now for a road trip would be pretty damn stupid. People joke about my inability to plan, but I do have a plan; it’s painted with a 4-inch brush and favors the distant future over the immediate present, but it’s a plan. To punish the nautical metaphor just a little more, I’m on the open sea, fresh water is running out, but I can see the stars.

I’ll be calling Dave in the morning, just to find out what the story is. You know, out of curiosity. Just to see where they’re coming from, and if they know where they’re going.