Monday, June 29, 2009

Cooties, Concrete and Chivalry


*From the old website archives, with a bit of updating...we'll take a little break from the email scammers, while I revisit some of my better, self-deprecating columns, like this true story of a particularly stupid 7 year old 'n friends*

Of all the sources for subject material out there, I still find myself to be a primary source for quality self-deprecation. Over the years I've managed to put myself in situations that, if not at the time, wound up at some point to be quite laughable. A good deal of it was allowing childhood imagination given free rein, which led to no end of helmetless falls from bicycles, barns, trees, and having been hit in the head with a bird house.

Not many of you have that unique distinction, I'll reckon.
Any way you look at it, a gift is a gift. I was klutz-gifted. I bear my scars proudly, and accept new ones as merely maintaining my klutz-tradition. One of my first moments came under the guise of attempting to uphold a word I had never heard of, let alone could spell or define: chivalry. Nowadays I know it to be a word deemed politically incorrect by a small but vocal foaming-at-the-mouth segment of the population (like Barbara Boxer); but in my pre-teen youth, I had no clue.

At the age of 7, I was like most little boys: easily bored, obnoxious when bored, endowed with some imagination, and firm in the notion that little girls were the single, solitary creator and distributor of cooties. In short, girls...ack phooey. Part of that thought process came from having two older sisters who'd occasionally use me for a punching bag, so I really didn't think too highly of the gender back then. Little did I know what was coming up a few years later, with the confluence of carbonating testosterone and RRrrrrowr, but I digress.

One day at school, four second grade lads of dubious boredom and obnoxiousness were doing what second grade lads did at most playgrounds in 1964: looking around for something imaginatively stupid to do during recess. Being one of that foursome, I'm here to tell you that we found it. Along the east side of playground, where the parking lot and playground met, a new water or sewer line was being laid. Sitting along the trench, slightly elevated above the playground, were as-yet unburied pipe segments, each individual segment weighing about 400 lbs.

But most important to four bored/stupid boys, one of these segments, pushed down the gentle incline onto the playground, would collide with a set of metal monkey bars, making for a most satisfying BWWHANG noise.

Simple minds were, and remain, easily amused.

Now one might assume that with the first definitive BWWHANG, some spoil sport adult would come investigate, and put an end to our fun while verbally confirming that we really were pretty stupid as little boys went. For reasons I can't recall, no adultly admonition was immediately forthcoming. So the four of us strained to push the pipe back up the incline, and let it fly again: BWWANG.

Life was easier and not as litigous in 1964.

We were preparing for a third go -- we'd just rolled the pipe back up the incline -- when here comes, wouldn't ya know, one of those cootie-packing girls. Ugh. And right then and there, she had the unmitigated gall -- two more words I had no clue about then -- to start playing on the musical monkey bars. OUR musical monkey bars.

My chums were at the pipe, preparing a third chorus, and I was between them and the cootie-packer, yelling at her to vamoose, while she ignored me (cooties caused that, I was sure, since I knew boys should always be listened to). At that moment, my chums let fly with what was intended to be the cacophonous climax to our silly little orchestration of really loud noise with no discernible melody.

Whatever else my folks taught me in those days, blaming audible flatulence on the dog was rather non sequitur at that moment (I would learn tactical and strategic digression later on). But there was this other silly notion of right and wrong, and not standing by when someone was potentially about to be hurt, even if she was a cootie-carrier. My 7 year old mind had more of a notion of what could happen if the pipe knocked off, or hit Ms Cootie 1964, than what it might do to me. So this bored, stupid little boy with his imagination working overtime, stepped into the path of the pipe, intending to stop it short of the monkey bars.

Despite the size and mass mismatch -- 400 lbs dead weight vs about 60 lbs soaking wet at the time -- I was successful. Just not in the manner intended: my feet-clad loafers were unable to brace my puny 60 or so pounds against the momentum of 400 pounds working in conjunction with gravity; thus, my feet slipped backward, and down I went. With the pipe now sitting atop my right hand, and against my forehead.

I stopped it, alright.

And a millisecond later, I stopped everything else within earshot, with my version of ouch. I'm told by witnesses that I shrieked like a stuck pig. I have, since then, lived on a farm with pigs; I am certain I was louder.

The pipe could only be removed from my hand with expedience one way; by rolling it back off. It didn't feel any better going off. And thus, this no longer bored but still rather stupid 7 year old got his first ride to the ER, and all the things that went into piecing together a rather mangled right hand, culuminating in a nice cast, suitable for signing. Then I spent the next five-six weeks at home, learning to write with my left hand by writing over and over again, "I will not play with cement" about five million times. There was no tripping me up with "cement" or "cooties" in a spelling bee, after that.

My return to school provided me with a very short spate of celebrity, but one person was conspicuously aloof: that cootie-carrying little girl. She never signed my cast, nor bothered to thank me for what I did that day. She only denounced me as the stupidest of those stupid boys who wound up with a really gross hand for a while.

Perhaps she didn't appreciate the cooties comments, either.

Pondering it all nearly 45 years later, I have to admit that she had part of it right. Still, the bored, stupid, imaginative and klutzy little boy that still lurks within me is certain that a particular not-so-little girl today has probably grown up to be a radical NOW activist who wants to feed all men to the nearest war zone.

And still has cooties.

*2009 note: the monkey bars were removed from the playground during the summer of 2004, as "a safety hazard" (candyasses); all else was as it had been at the school, when I paid it a visit in the fall of '05 (visit the September 2005 archives of this blog for those memories). I just learned a couple weeks ago -- May 2009 -- that this school is closing, after 50 or so years of service, to be torn down and rebuilt, starting with the summer of '09. I wonder if they'll dig up and replace the pipe...if they do, y'think they'll let me have a piece of it, for old times' sake?*

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bachelor Pad Maintenance



*from the very disorganized archives*

Across America, millions of homes will see what I'm told is a normal ritual of weekly, even daily routine: housekeeping.
I suspect that this is an unsubstantiated rumor, and one that this bachelor finds to be amusingly futile.
Not that I'm a total slob, mind you. I just wouldn't compare favorably to Martha Stewart. I rate somewhere between The Odd Couple's Oscar Madison, and a wall-etching cave dweller.
Which I guess makes me a slob to some of you.
Now, I'll grant that there are a few items of housekeeping that tend to make some degree of sense to me. And I'll get around to adopting them as something of a habit, one of these days. But by and large, I only resort to limited efforts in the department of housekeeping when it's a matter of sitting on something that I don't want to squish in or slide off of, someone coming to visit and I have a least a week's warning, and/or self-defense.
Examples of housekeeping that I don't see the need for? Let's start with windows. Except on my computer, I don't do 'em. I reckon that if stained glass is okay for a church, then by gawd it's okay for me. I don't buy this 'separation of church and state' crap, since I see churches all over my state, and the ACLU ain't run 'em out yet.
Next, dusting. What a totally wasted exercise in futility. Some folks, or so the rumor goes, dust daily. Why? Like liberal illogic, taxes, Girl Scout cookies and another episode of American Idol, dust always comes back. Which is great as it regards Girl Scout cookies, but not the rest.
Why disturb dust? Dust is primal. Dust is eternal. And dust outnumbers us on the factor of 100 terra-giga-gazillions to 1. You start pissing off dust with such numeric superiority as that, and it might decide to overwhelm the senses, faster than a Rosie O'Donnell circus tent bikini calendar.
And that is NOT something to be taken lightly.
Though, I have been known to risk the wrath of a very primal substance, when my pet rock Seymour thinks that the newscaster on TV is a creature from The Outer Limits, and a quick swipe with a damp rag returns the infobabe to visibly human form. Seymour freaks out easily.
Kitchen cleaning? You already know of my culinary barbarianism that takes place therein. I reckon a quick fire-hosing once in a while, and I am embolden to take another swipe at my speed dialer for pizza delivery. Once in a while I am forced to have to remove leftovers dating to the previous century from my 'frig; Seymour is convinced they are morphing within strained Tupperware, into things that Stephen King writes about. When you come home from work, and your pet rock is cowering in the corner, holding your golf putter and gesturing fearfully at the 'frig, you best pay some degree of attention to it. I usually throw another 12 pack of beer into the 'frig, chain it closed, and wait 'til 'IT' is drunk enough to bag up and throw away.
And the bathroom...just give me a Lysol grenade every so often, and I reckon the place is as useable as an outhouse in rural Darfur.
I think you get the point that I am not big on housekeeping.
Still, even a life-long bachelor like moi has moments of delusion, thinking he'll meet someone who'll bring his status as a bachelor to an end. Then again, I keep waiting for AlGore to say something intelligent.
But in the event that the former does occur before the advent of the Apocalypse, I put together a handy 11 point guideline for bachelor pad maintenance, and it's one I've occasionally fallen back on ('cuz I mistook an unstable pile for the chair):
1. If it crawls, give it something to put away (or at least out of the way) and point it in the right direction. Hope that it has a sense of one (direction).
2. Food leftovers: put 'em in Tupperware sealed with metal rivets, and bury it in the deepest recesses of the refrigerator. Dispose of it either by (a) consumption, (b) subterfuge (see the beer gambit, above) or (c) see upcoming #8.
3. If it talks, answer it. If it isn't the phone or clock/radio, try to keep it talking long enough to find and kill it, before it attacks you. If it's Tupperware-adorned, get stronger rivets or a heavier gauge chain for the 'frig.
4. Vacuuming the carpet does wonders for being able to walk barefoot; but it also removes a great security feature, since you can hear your Tupperware crunching across the carpet, trying to sneak up on you. You gotta weigh the pros and cons on this 'un, and I'm just sayin'...
5. If you find something clean draped across the chair, back out of the place slowly and figure out whose place you entered by mistake.
6. If you can smell it, and it isn't tolerable, spray it with Lysol, unless (a) doing so will make it mad or (b) you live in Califorlornia, where PETF (People for the Ethical Treatment of Fungi) might protest. Even fungi and poo have rights in CA.
7. Let sleeping dust lie. If you inadvertently sneeze, and room visibility drops to zero, think about in which direction you last saw the exit door, and move toward it. While you still can.
8. Too busy/intimidated to clean or figure out what you can legally spray? Hire a maid.
9. If she's cute and willing, the cleaning can wait, but suggest going to her place, so your X-Files Tupperware doesn't get to her before you can.
10. Looking for ways to avoid visitors and holiday houseguests? Skip #8.
11. Move frequently. Once a month is about right in my case. Don't leave behind a change of address, so the morphing Tupperware can't track you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Winning's A Gas


If my luck in real life matched my luck with email scammers, I reckon I'd of eclipsed Bill Gates in net worth by now.
My latest win, interestingly enough, comes from another of those online lottos I can never remember having entered. They say the mind's the first or second thing to go as we age, and I don't want to think much about the other first or second thing to go -- I still have some lust and hope left -- so I'll conveniently digress back to the subject at hand, with absolutely no pun intended.
An international company with the funds to give away -- especially when gas was going for $4/gallon like it was last summer (and probably will be again, when congressional gerrymandering gets done screwing the pooch), Exxon-Mobil -- notified me via email three weeks ago that I had won. Witness their notification letter:
You won $500,000 USD from 2009 Exxon Mobil Corporation promotion, for claims contact Mr. Gordon Foulger, via Email (giving me an email address and telephone number that had London, UK, inclinations) with your contact details.
Kewl. But bogus. If Exxon-Mobil gave away anything, it'd likely be free gas for a year, assuming they were having an online lotto.
They ain't.
Still, I decided to see how attentive both the real Exxon-Mobil Corporation was, as well as the scammer(s). To the real Exxon-Mobil, I sent an email alerting them to the fraud being attempted in their name, and the fun I was gonna have widdit; and then to the faux Exxon-Mobil, I did my own off-line lottery, selected my "winning" character to respond as, and sent this reply back to both the email originator AND the referred-to email in the message:
Exxon,
No SH**???? F***IN' A, DUDE! THIS NEWS TOTALLY F***ING ROCKS! YOU DA BOMB, MOTHER EARTH RAPERS! I'm just kidding with that last, dudes...screw those tree-hugging hippies! Anyway, send me my money immediately!
Eric Cartman
Yep; another turn for Eric Cartman of South Park fame.
When a day later I got a reply from the faux Exxon-Mobil, I knew I had me a scammer what didn't have a clue about South Park. It was a page and a half, actually well-written, explaining what the lottery was, how I was selected, yada yada. And then it asked for my personal information, as so many of these do.
Since they hadn't heard of South Park, it was time to see how much attention they paid to the application I filled out:
Full Name: Eric "Big Bone" Cartman
Residential Address: 123 City Wok Street, South Park CO
Age: 8 (for 13 f***in' seasons, now...give me puberty or give me death)
Sex: what, are you stupid or blonde? I said I'm 8!
Occupation: animated cartoon character
Telephone: 970-555-1212
Fax Number: WTF???
Country: USA
Next of Kin: my crack-whore mom, Mrs. Cartman
Lucky Number: (they conveniently already printed it here for me)
The application stated that after all information is verified and authenticated, you will be notified on what's to be done next.
Two days pass, and "Eric" learns just how thorough a job the faux Exxon-Mobil does with verifying and authentication:
Dear Eric Cartman,
Congratulations, you have been properly verified as an eligible winner!
And then it goes on to tell me what I've won, and that I need to contact a Mr. Blake Nash of Swift International Courier Services, to arrange for receiving my $500,000 USD, my two t-shirts, lotto magazine subscription, a plastic minaturized Exxon-Mobil gasoline tanker truck, and assorted other documents of various legal gewgawity. A new email address, and I'm off to find out if Mr. Blake Nash of Swift & Co. is/are any more attentive than Mr. Gordon Foulger of the faux Exxon-Mobil is.
So Eric just forwards a copy of the aforementioned email to the courier service email, and a day later gets a reply, asking again for the same personal information, along with offering me three shipping options by which I am to receive my check, with the shipping costs included (in UK pound sterling).
So Eric writes back with the same personal information, and asks that they use Option 4 to ship the package (there was no Option 4, so Eric conveniently added one...a canister pnuematically launched from the UK to South Park...Eric assured them that after 13 seasons of destruction here, there's precious little left to damage at impact...and besides, we're all animated, so we could be redrawn).
Two days later, Mr. Nash responds by completely ignoring my Option 4 dissertation, and that my selection will cost 380 pound sterling (Option 1), and I'm to Western Union it to a Mr. Michael Nelson in Sherborne, London UK.
Eric, being the profane, greedy, self-centered sort he is (as any of you who watch South Park know this), writes back thus:
Blake,
Yer breakin' my balls, Blake! What the f*** is this pound sterling crap from a dying empire? We do dollars and cents here, Blake, not some gay denomination that no one in the world gives a Terrence and Phillip fart about! How much is this in good old USA dollars and cents, since you won't accept my preferred form of delivery?
Two days later, Blake sends Eric a monetary translation of $625.318 USD.
Now bear in mind here, that I sent an email off to the real Exxon-Mobil at the start of this dog and pony show, and still haven't heard a peep from them.
At any rate, Eric sends Blake a quick little I'll get this off in via Western Onion in a day or two, dude, and ponders how to proceed.
After a day or two, Eric decides on how to proceed...the tactic of email flummox:
Blake,
After breakin' my balls about pound sterling and dollar shipping charges, I see you guys were just yankin' my 8 year old dinky about having to pay anything. I just got my check delivered via UPS! I simply cannot thank you for making some of my dreams come true -- I'll be taking up my high priority dream with the creators of this stupid show, later: namely, when I get to become a teen, so I can start having real sex, instead of Ben Affleck trying to make out with my J.Lo hand before she bed-hopped to Brad Pitt -- and want to thank both you and Exxon Mobil for giving me the business so expediently! I owe you big time, but don't look to collect anything.
A day later, this draws an upset reply from Blake at Swift International Courier Services:
Mr. Eric Cartman, did you send the shipping fee? How can you receive the check wihout first send of fee? Please confirm your send the fee.
Ah, the first evidence of slippage of verbiage. Let's see if Eric can make it slip a tad more:
Blake, I got my money. So what the f*** are you breakin' my balls about now? Your part in this is over. I'm rich, you're done. When I need you to f***ing ship something, I'll call you, m'kay?
Blake is not pleased:
Mr. Eric Cartman, we have check and you not send payment. it impossibal you receeve check from us. how this happen i dont know, but you are now legal obigated to send shipping fee if you wish avoid legal problem.
I always love it when a scammer raises the "legal problem" threat. Eric, however, isn't impressed:
Mr. Blake, bite me. I have my check, and what's more, I'm 8 and animated. I got your legal problem right here, dude.
While I wait to see if 'Blake' has anything further to say on this, I finally get an email from the real Exxon-Mobil:
Dear Customer,
Thank you for contacting ExxonMobil.
Please be aware that there are numerous scams circulating the internet using the ExxonMobil name. May we suggest that you do not reply to such emails (doh...too late). Please forward any emails that you have received from these people to the abuse department of the fraudulent email's service provider for follow-up (which usually results in spit being done). Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
Customer Care
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Meantime, nothing further is forthcoming from Blake Nash of Swift International Courier Services. I guess he figured out that Eric did have his legal problem right here, dude.
Nor did the real Exxon-Mobil have anything further to say, when Eric Cartman wrote back to tell them he'd defended their honor, and could they please ignore that hippy AlGore and his global warming stuff that makes gas get more pricey than a Big Mac?
Which, sadly, brings an end to my latest "rags-to-riches-to-rags in a few emails" saga. But it was a gas while it lasted ;-) And I don't mean a Terrence & Phillip* one.
* if you don't watch South Park, that'll mean squat to you. Then again, much of what I do here doesn't mean squat to the average person LOL...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yahoo Gawlf Chat


*I dig up a divot from the '06 archives, with one of my rather silly ventures into a chat room that went typically for me in a chat room*

To myself.

That's not how it was supposed to work, I thought...

During a spate of domesticity (aka, laundry), I was doing what I rarely do these or most days' past: meandering through the Yahoo chat rooms, seeing what was up.

It was exactly as I remembered it to be from a couple-three years ago: nuthin'. I visited several different categoried sites (Over 50 Romance -- quit smirkin' -- health topics, politics, recreation and sports), and in each case, save for one, it was the same: nothing but 20-somethings with webcams and smut sites, or bots (promoting more smut sites). Nearly every female in one 'over 50' room was in her early 20s, from Las Vegas, was listed as a "student", and had as her first hobby, "sex".

I can just imagine the tests in those classes, but I digress.

I've heard of seminar "callers" to talk radio, but seminar "cybersluts"? I was about to ponder how Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ever found each other online in a chat room, 'til I remembered it was just a fictional chick flick. The only 'anything' that was going to find a soulmate in most of the rooms I visited was Rosie, the Jetson's maidbot. And she wouldn't be worth much for cleaning after one of 'those' encounters.

Then finally -- in the 'Sports and Recreation' portion of the Yahoo Chat community -- I found a room bereft of 20-somethings with webcams or bots: Golf Talk.

It was quiet. Serene. On accounta 'cuz it was empty. 'Cept for me.

Knowing I wasn't a bot, and didn't have a webcam (or an urge to show off my sagging backside or which part of my body I ain't gonna pierce next, on a cam if I had one), I sat there for a moment, almost luxuriating in the serenity of a bot-and-hormonal-free room. Besides, the subject of the room -- golf -- was one on which I could converse fluently and freely on, if not demonstrate on the course.

If there was anyone therein to converse with.

After a couple minutes of serenity, I began to see that there's a degree to which serenity is self-defeating in a chat room, when what should be goin' on here, was conspicuously absent: chat.

So I started some. To myself. About golf.

Here is a recap of the chat I had with myself in Golf Talk on Yahoo Chat (paraphrased as I remember it):

Welcome to Golf Talk. Barring an expert or moderator interceding, I'll be your host, Moosfeathers (my Yahoo chat ID). Let's talk about golf. My golf. It sucks. Yes, it does. Remember that "giant sucking sound" the little flying-nun-earred Perot babbled about? It wasn't free trade; it was my game. That sucking sound was IT. I haven't picked up a club in two years, save for once, and that was to kill a spider widdit it. Don't worry, the hole in the wall patched over just fine.

Yes, my game was bad. I never got a hole in one. I never got an eagle. I had few birdies. I never shot a par round. I never broke 40 on 9 holes, nor 90 on 18.

On the other hand, I never hit another golfer in all my escapades. Except for myself. Three times with my own drives. I was gifted. Such gifts can't be sold at gar(b)age sales or regifted at Christmas.

But I was also necessary in golf. Yes, necessary ( at this point, someone with the improbable name of LoveThumper2003 came into the room). Ah, we have our first golf chatterbox. LoveThumper 2003, step up to the tee, you're on Golf Talk with Moosfeathers (he/she/it bailed out faster than a balloon at a porcupine convention).

Oh too bad, our caller lost his/her chatcell. At any rate, I am a necessary evil to the golfing industry. I keep golf ball companies in business with my 4-10 per round lost golf ball ratio; I am the friend to lost golfball concessionaires, who find and resell what I spray hither and yon; I am a godsend to tee and ball mark manufacturers, breaking and losing both at a rate that is embarrassing, though it doesn't endear me to the Sierra Club or ELF, though I think they've arrested most of ELF, so who cares about those schmucks? I am a supporter of the golf cover-making folks, losing one about every other round; and where would the golf club industry be, without my needing a replacement for the club I bend around a tree or throw in the lake about every third round? Not to mention, the sod folks who have to patch work a fairway I leave looking like a mortar barrage just hit it, when I'm not exploring the more 'natural' terrain, also known as the rough, the trees, the lakes or the bunkers. Which is way more often than I see a fairway.

And let's not forget those hard-working, skimpily-clad beer babes in their "libations from Heaven" carts; I could damned near have retired on what I tipped them over the years.

We're ready to take another chatter...*insert sound of chirping cricket hyar*...no takers? Well that's okay, 'cuz we're out of time for this edition of Golf Talk. This is your host, Moosfeathers, saying "FORE!". Just wanted to see if you'd duck.

*More chirping cricket sound*.

I suppose that I could have applied some of my golf terminology in the "Over 50s Romance" rooms: throwing out terms like "ball", "stroke" and "firm grip on the shaft" would have set the bot-sluts all atwitter (2009 note: we've already established that I don't twitter).

But I don't want to be accused of shorting out the Jetson's Rosie-bot ;-)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dang


Words mean things. Just not to everyone, especially in the face of certain regional dialects.
Depending on the manner (or manure) I reply to an email scammer, this usually dictates whether I'll get a response or not. Sometimes, for the sheer volume of emails I collect in a half-dozen accounts, I don't have time to engage a dozen at once, so I fire off replies to the more boring in the bunch that are generally guaranteed to leave them with a pretty clear picture as to what their prospects are, achieving success with my email address.
Basically, less than spit raising the river.
But even when I've stretched the limits of dialectuality (and if that ain't a word, it is now), some scammers at least make an effort to fathom what they just got in reply. Like this one, who proved to make the effort, albeit a rather bad and whiny one.
It started with a four paragraph solicitation from Ahmed Hinga, allegedly from Darfur in the Sudan, the gist of which was:
It is my pleasure to conatct you for busines ventura which i intent to estabish in your county. Though I have not met with you befor but consider the recent politic insability in my country, i am Mr. Ahmed Hinga the only survivor son of late Luetenant Coloel Garang Hinga of Darfur Sudan. My parent and rest of family kill by group known as Sadiq al Mahdi during civil war while fight for liberate of Sudan from hand of dictator.
Hinga goes on to tell me, in his ineloquent way and syntax, about the $8 million his father left him before he get kill, and Hinga's need for a reliable foreigner to invest the money outside of Africa...which, of course, I will be "handomly conpenstated for". Hinga directs me to target the investments in "transport, mechanize agiculture and real estrate".
Alrighty then. Since it's no longer considered "fair" to make a bad speller stay after school and write their misspellings on the blackboard about 500 times, let's do something considered even worse by the teachers' union.
Granted, with things at my job in the status they're in, I don't have a whole lot of time to diddle for an extended period with Hinga, though his email offering does throw me some notions for play time. So what I choose to do with him is rewrite his entire email, and simply send it back to him, without comment. That usually puts "paid" to the exchange.
So I rewrote it, sorta kind of almost word for word, in my inarticulate version of redneck*:
Hidy, y'all! Ah'm right pleesed h'yar ta git yore attenshun fer a biscuits thang witch ah intends h'yar ta gore yer ox with, iffen you gots no more sense than a possum onna superslab. Wile ah gots no chance ta havin' met y'all bee4, ah rectum it won' matter wunst it's a dun thang h'yar.
Ah'm Mr. Ahmed Hinga, a sand-lovin' camel humpin' ony servivin' spawn of mah late moonshine-runnin' pa, "Gator" Billy Bob Garang Hinga from Darfer, sumwhar 'souf an eest of th' Ozarks, or so ah'm figgerin'. Didunt git 2 fer in th' grades, y'see, so's ah don' know much 'bout giraffophy an' what's whar.
What y'all gots ta figger h'yar is mah folks 'n the rest of mah incestual relatshuns wuz dun in by some suck egg mule group o' bad fellers called sumpin' Izlambik, at th' beginnin' of a feud herebouts wid some three-teethed goatpokers what runs a competin' operashun in mah home contree of Seedan.
Aftah them long-toothed galoots kilt mah wole famdamily, ah wuz left widda huge bunch of ate millyun baseball kards which mah late pa dun stored widda sekuritee joint fer safe keepin'. Now ah gots ta sell these h'yar thangs fer pork chop money an ah reckon yore dumber than a tree stump, so's ah kin soak whar yore ass sets a spell, and git me sumpin fer nuthin'.
Ah'll tell you what....ah'm now in Bugtussle wid all th' dokewmint thangs y'all think 'ull git you some dis h'yar money. Ah want ya ta keep thinkin' like that thar fer lawng 'nuff til ah gits mah furr piece of whar yer ass sets.
So soospend yore disbeeleaf h'yar, an' let's git to th' rat killin', bee4 yew figger out what th' horsefeathers ah'm sayin' h'yar. Gits back to me h'yar, an' ah'll leed y'all down a path whar a good can o' whupass is comin' yer way. Ah looks forwerd ta ya gittin' back now, y'hear?
Even I had to labor a bit to re-read that, so I figured that my scammer would try, and give up.
Yes and no, as a later-that-day reply indicates:
WHAT!
Ahmed Hinga
LMAO...*ahem*...whaddoz he mean, "what!"? Wasn't I clear as mud h'yar? Let's hep him unnerstand this h'yar:
Dagnabbit, ya cotton-pickin' long-earred galoot, wha' h'yar wuz hard fer ye ta unnerstand? Dadgumit, mah time h'yar is 'spensive, an' ah gots nun of it ta waste tryin' ta 'splain simpul Inglish 2 y'all. Git yer hin'quarters offen yore thinkin' part, an' reread mah emale so's we kin git to thangs, 4 ah hafta tell yew what agin!
I'm a bit amazed and amused as I get another reply that establishes he doesn't unnerstand, but isn't ready to give it up:
i no uderstand what this you say to me Pleese too make words i read.
What? He can't read what I'm writing? I'm supposed to "make words" he can read? Lemme ask him what he thinks he can read:
Feller, wha' kinna werds h'yar is it y'all thinks ya kin reed? Ah meen, iffen yore 2 stoopid ta make sense o' this h'yar simpul Inglish ah'm usin', ah'll tell yew what...yore no' gonna git them werds ah kin writ outta mah dicshunery thang!
Ahmed Hinga is probably many things, a few of which I'm sure are unprintable, at least here; but he gets a nod for his persistence in the face of massive syntax error:
mabe you call me to comucate better ok?
And he gave me his number, which tells me nuthin: Sudan doesn't have a country code for international calling, at least in my phone book, and the number appears to lack a country code, unless the first two numbers are it, which puts him (or his cheap cell phone) as being in, or from, Thailand. So I send him this lil' thang to ponder:
Cawl yew? Onda fone? Hawhawhawhaw! Feller, ah gots this h'yar can onna strang thang, an' wile it werks ok fine fer lokal stuff, ah cain' connekt any more frum h'yar than Skunkfeathersville, 'bout a day's ride onna slow mule. So howz a feller 'sposed ta cawl yew in this Seedan place? Ah'll tell yew what...answer me that thar!
Once more, a forlorn request for clarity from Ahmed:
i no udersand you words what what what? i dont now what you say
Is Ahmed ready to give up on what started as me just rewritin' his scam mail in redneckese? Lesse h'yar:
Dang, Ahmed, yer squealin' wurse thanna hawg gittin' a prod. Iffen yer gonna writ folks like us all h'yarbouts, ain't ya thinkin' ta git some edumacatid on how we all tawlks h'yar? Dang! Yer wastin' mah road kill jerky-makin' time, ah'll tell yew what. Speekin' o' witch, how much jerky y'all thankin' yew kin pull offa road kill camal, Ahmed? Ain't them thangs kinda big?
I'll never know the answer to that 'un. Not at least from Ahmed.
Dang.
* Disclaimer: this h'yar version of redneckese is not necessarily authenticated in Oxford's Collegiate Complete Word Finder, Information Please, The World Almanac, on Google, or on the (un)official online redneck translator, Ah Tell Yew What.com. Actual syllables, consonants, verbs, nouns, dangling possum cicles, and other violations of the laws of written English herein, are not guaranteed to git you past a backwoods road block, or really ugly banjo player with no teeth and no gender preference for backdoor doinkin'. Ah Tell You What (the phrase) rarely does, in the real redneck world, according to Jeff Foxworthy and others of some knowledge in this h'yar field. In the event your political correctness sensibilities are offended by this post, please feel free to write and complain about this post to smith.brain000@gmail.com; I guaran-dang-tee you that he'll have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, any more than he understood this h'yar feller.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tornado Chasing for Dummies 2009 -- II




Which way do I go, which way do I go...? While the National Weather Service in Denver sends me this way...and that way....and laughs it's collective butt off at me whilst doing so.
Yeah, I know: tornadoes are serious business. In a lot of places in the country, they're worse than serious business. The National Weather Service and meteorologists have, for decades, been working to improve and enhance tornado warnings, and provide more of a window of time for the public in the area of a tornado to prepare and take cover. None of that good, well-intentioned work goes to waste.
But in the process, the National Weather Service has duped me. Yes, I said duped. Lemme 'splain.
'Twas a promising day, this Thursday, June 11, 2009, by the reckoning of the National Weather Service. At least a 30% chance of potentially severe thunderstorms, lightning, hail, damaging winds...and tornadoes. After getting yanked into work for a few hours (usually a day off), I was free to go park on the east side of Denver, and await the next round of storms that were predicted to come roaring off the foothills "with malice aforethought", in the words of one gifted meteorologic orator (probably a lawyer in the budding meteorology defense league, coming soon to a new law practice near someone).
It's that time of year in Colorado -- late May through early July -- when storms of the intensity to produce tornadoes and up to softball-sized hail, form up and practice their trade on Denver and points east. They hit Denver and nearby with tornadic intensities up to EF-3, before attending graduation and moving off to the 'big leagues' in Kansas, Nebraska, et al, where some of the more gifted storms go hard-core EF-4 and 5 (the tornado that rearranged a mall in SE Aurora, and had other fun with various and assorted structures for 30 minutes on Sunday, June 7, was a budding EF-2).
And sure enough, by 1:30pm, a line of storms had evolved and was moving E/NE, from Douglas County to north of Denver. And almost immediately, I heard the first "Tornado Warning" EBS (Emergency Broadcast System) alert go out over my favored radio station for storm tracking. I was north and west of where the storm was reported to be, but given it's reported track and speed of advance, I had time enough to get into it and do a chase from, for a change, the right place and from the right direction.
But there was something curious about this "Tornado Warning": the exact phrasing of the warning was "Doppler radar has detected a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado, moving to the NE at 20 mph...", followed by the usual "all persons in the following areas should take cover immediately", and a short list of those areas in the path of the storm.
In past years, such a warning was always accompanied by reports from trained weather spotters, or law enforcement, or at times the public, that a tornado had actually been spotted at a certain location, and providing the direction it was travelling. But all this warning ever said was "a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado".
Okay...I reckon such storms ARE, indisputably, capable of such. Last thing I'm capable of is engaging in a debate on meteorological verbiage with a NWS egghead wearing high-water pants, Clark Kent glasses, a pocket protector, and spouting meteorological terminology that I can only respond back to with "yeah, what you said...I think". I mean, I know a promising storm formation of clouds is referenced meteorologically as cumulonumbnuts, or something like that.
Thus, onward I travelled, inspired of the hope that said storm would, in fact, prove capable of producing a tornado for lil' ol' me.
As I hit the east side of Denver, I had two choices to make -- I-76 to the northeast, or I-70 to the east -- a second tornado warning came across. Another severe thunderstorm had been detected on doppler radar, "capable of producing a tornado" east of Bennett, CO, and moving to the east at 20 mph.
There it was again: capable of producing a tornado. Not "tornado on the ground" or "tornado sighted by someone...ANYONE". And like with the previous report, no follow up reports of tornadic activity. Hmmmm.
So for the moment, I split the difference between the two main interstate arterials, and for five miles, found myself unexpectedly on a hog wallow between two paved stretches of road east of Lochbuie, sliding and slithering through mud in the wake of heavy rains (if you remember, the rural dirt roads in east-northeast Colorado aren't gravel; they're dirt, that turn to slime in the rain) at a speed you'd see in a covenant-controlled neighborhood...about 5-10 mph.
Once I made it to pavement again, the mud roostertails I left in my wake were impressive; hogs seeing this razorback silver boar, barreling down a wet and empty two-lane and sending out arches of mud in my wake, had to have snorted their approval.
I don't think my Saturn was as amused.
Finally, I reached a t-intersection that gave me one more chance to choose NE or E as my pursuit angle. But and again, no follow up tornadic reports from the last two warnings. And another big, menacing storm lurked off to my north, moving east. No severe reports of anything from that direction yet, but from my vantage point, it was of a size and visual composition that held promise. And I was on it's southwestern flank already.
Game, set, match: north, to the storm flank. Go north, the chase was on (with apologies to the late Johnny Horton).
And shortly after heading after it, I was gratified by yet another EBS-toned tornado warning: and again, it was a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado. WTF???
Were there any tornadoes, or were there not? That was the question.
Whilst I pondered this Bardly notion, I pursuedeth, and then waded into the storm fromst thine usually-promising flank, suffering the slings and arrows of meteorologic temerity, for roughly 100 miles with nary a further warning of any kind. No more nuthin', 'cept for rain, some hail, and enough wind to cause prairie dogs caught above-ground in a gust, to hang onto prairie grass and flap like a flag, gesturing angrily at me if they lost their grip and went flashing by my windshield like little furry tumbleweeds.
I have no idea what they were flipping ME off for. Guess I was handy.
Finally, I parked my carcass at a rest stop outside of Sterling, CO, and heard the last anything meteorologic in terms of reports: a tornado watch was in effect until after dark for most of NE Colorado.
No tornadoes had been sighted. No tornadoes had been reported. But conditions were such that a storm capable of producing a tornado was possible.
Grrrrrr. A 360 mile round trip, for storms capable of producing a tornado. And they all flunked. I vote their diplomas all be revoked, and they be held back for another semester. I don't think either Nebraska or Kansas will object.
Oh well...I reckon that it's all part of tornado games (posted last in '08). And now the National Weather Service is playing, too.
With me.
Sunday Update, June 14: again, I'm mired at work (albeit on my regular schedule) and shore 'nuff, a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado hits the Denver Area. And near Coors Field, what does it do?
Produce a funnel cloud. One that stops the MLB game between the Colorado Rockies and the Seattle Mariners, for 55 minutes, until the weather passed.
It showed up to watch a ballgame, and IT got screwed.
At least I know I'm not alone in that department. I feel better.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Poseidumb Adventure -- II


Resuming from Part I, as our annual "guy's week out" backpacking trip in the woods of Wyoming was winding down, we were facing what appeared to be a not easily-solved riddle of how to recross that friggin' river, without reliving the Day 1 experience.
Particularly after the rain and hailstorms of D-Day plus 3, D-Day Redux was looking like a definitive repeat. I dunno 'bout you, but I hate re-runs of bad flicks. And the first time around was like a bad flick with a worse script, choreographed by an even worse director.
However, the evening before our recrossing of the river was necessitated by work schedules and the dent being placed in our packed-in food supplies (though, the fishing had been good right along), we noticed that the river appeared to be receding a bit: the very top of the tell-tale rock was now a 'fin' in the water.
However, the newest member of our epic-in-the-making had come up with what he was convinced was a brilliant idea: why not build a raft? One big enough to pole or paddle us AND our gear across. While the rest of us expressed varying degrees of skepticism based on supplies and time constraints, Ray's obvious enthusiam for the project -- and his distain for the temperature of the water -- proved enough to, if not convince us, bring us around to try an unconsidered option.
That damned grouse tried to warn us.
Lacking copious quantities of a suitable binding material -- duct tape -- the resulting raft was a shadow of the original suggestion. It didn't appear worthy of a wading pool, in fact (pictured above, with about half of our gear on it). BUT...the originator and father of this idea was still enthusiastic that it would at least allow our gear a dry crossing, even if not us.
That was his story and he'd change it later. In the meantime, even Lewis & Clark would have taken one look, and fired us from the Corps of Discovery. Worse, we'd of never made the first cut of American Corps of Discovery Idol -- The Auditions.
After drawing straws, the game plan on the morning of D-Day Redux was thus: two of us (Murf and yours truly) would recross the river conventionally: Murf would stand by, ready to assist the launch and maiden voyage of Poseidumb I, if required (Ray at the time thought not), while I recorded on the only camera along on the trip, photographic evidence suitable for demonstrating either our ingenuity or Darwin nominations. The other two lucky fellows -- Ray the "Creator" and Brock -- would be our "Skipper and Gilligan", and be hereafter written in the Rafting Hall of Fame.
That damned grouse tried to warn us.
Murf and I crossed first, with absolutely NONE of the drama of D-Day; in fact, as we made the opposite bank, I was having some doubt as to the necessity of the launch of Poseidumb I; then again, not having to take time to dry out wet equipment, and facing the climb-out we did, I ignored the little voice in my head that kept saying that damned grouse tried to warn us.
Instead, it wasn't long before that little voice in my head was shrieking "WTF ARE YOU TWO DOING?": they were delaying the launch of Poseidumb I, while working ever closer to the upper reaches of the ford, where the current became a player in the epic starting to unravel. I allowed myself to shout "launch it further UPSTREAM!" without colorful metaphors, all the while resisting the urge to stop taking pictures.
Almost as soon as they finally launched the raft, it was obviously in trouble as the current was now a factor, and we didn't have time for a three-hour tour, what with white water and rocks not many yards downstream, and no Mary Ann to rescue, anyway.
Murf was already in motion to assist them (the photo from Part I), when they started yelling for "the big dummy to get his ass out there". Later we'd be able to debate degrees of dummy here; now, it was time to quit cataloging the photo evidence for our upcoming competency hearings, and get "the big dummy" out there.
Being the biggest dummy now out there, when I reached Poseidumb I, I positioned myself on the starboard side, and tried to help force the raft in a direction that damned grouse had tried to warn us was in jeopardy. But the force of the current, coupled with the weight of the raft and gear, simply didn't care what my intentions were. What I did accomplish was increase the wave of water pouring over the top of the now listing-to-port raft.
I can only imagine what the fish at our feet were thinking. If there was a Funniest Aquatic Home Videos Show, I reckon we were the stars of our own segment, while Lewis & Clark were vindicated in not taking us or any of our namesakes along.
Watching gear wash off the raft, hearing the increasing shouts of dismay of the others, and finally allowing the first crystal-clear intelligent thought to become vocal out of me probably all morning, I yelled back at the upstreamers to "get the f***ing gear off the raft, NOW!" Then returning to stubbornly stupid, I held on, trying to keep the raft from washing away, while the others grabbed what they could, as fast as they could.
The Marx Brothers nor Three Stooges could have choreographed the sequence any more comedically.
Quickly though, I was learning things about Nature, and the forces thereof: my feet were beginning to lose their purchase in the rocks on the bottom, and the weight of the raft and force of the current were combining to make my "last stand" a soon-to-be foregone conclusion.
However, before a moveable force could be overcome by an irresistable one, the last vital piece of gear was removed, and I was able to sidestep to the right, and watch Poseidumb I head for the shoals. Forty yards downstream, Poseidumb I hit the rocks in the whitewater, and disintegrated.
Once back on the correct side of the river, we took stock: random pieces of equipment were missing, leaving downstream fish with new product inquiries they couldn't make; but nothing missing was irreplaceable or terribly vital. Knees were sore and tender once more, now including my own. All the surviving gear was soaked, of course. But worst of all: when I opened my pack, I discovered the culinary faux pas of modern times: I'd ruined the Minute Rice.
A box of same, entrusted to my pack, received adequate soak to explode the box. Murf took a handful, sampled it and announced, "yep...you f**ked up the rice".
It was culinarily irretrievable, since the salt shaker was now a trout souvenir.
The concluding hike out was all that we had remembered it to be, save for Ray, who kept gasping "who's idea was this sh**, anyway?" (after hearing of the previous year's experience, he invited himself to join us; we enjoyed reminding him of that, between whoops for air and dry heaves). And just as the year before, I beat the others up the hill by 30 minutes, only to spend 25 of that prostrate across the hood of my car, recovering.
That part they didn't get to see, though I think the damned grouse ghost did, cackling at me from a nearby tree.
And there you have The Poseidumb Adventure.
At one time, I considered doing a series on my camping and outdoors anecdotes and experiences in the wild, to include stuff like, for example, the time I fell out of a tree while collecting firewood.
After proofreading this, I'm concluding that some experiences may be best left to our personal "do you remember when..?"..."Not even under oath..." chatfests, that never cease to cause Murf's wife to wonder how she married one, and indirectly inherited thereafter two other, such inept-in-the-outdoors goofballs.
Especially one who f**ked up the Minute Rice. In the middle of a river.
Simply put, I have a gift. Now, if only I could find where to return or exchange it...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Poseidumb Adventure - I



The photo on the right was taken in the early stages of what will be recounted here in Part II, by yours truly. Fortunately for what did follow in Part II, there are no photos. That too, will be 'splained in due course ;-)
What you're seeing here is "the ford", at the base of Long Lake, Wind River Range, Bridger Wilderness Area, NW Wyoming; just yards to the left of this photo, the waters narrow and accelerate into white water, that runs for nearly a mile to the next lake downstream. Water that was a bit player in the true story about to be told.
This story goes back to 1984, a year after Jose Cuervo was left on the opposite bank and downstream. We had no intention of going after him just then (that would be for later...MUCH later). The same trio -- myself, Murf and Brock -- and a fourth party from our place of employment, determined to have a return engagement with the wilderness area across the ford.
The route we'd taken in '83 we now knew to be impractical. And this time, we were determined that the 'ford' -- whatever the depth of the water -- had to be negotiated. Yet we weren't worried. In fact, we were looking forward to the return to the area, as I'm sure Murf's wife was looking forward to a week to herself, to "recharge her batteries" for our return.
We began with the now-familiar 8 hour drive from Denver, Colorado, to Pinedale, Wyoming, a short distance from the Elkhart trail head that would lead us to the ford. Four guys in two vehicles, rolling along with a week of hiking, camping and fishing in mind, and little else.
But the lonely road held a harbinger that we were slow to grasp the significance of: on I-80, about 90 miles east of Rock Springs, Wyoming, we received a sign. My vehicle was leading, with the other, an Isuzu SUV, following. As I was coming up to pass an 18-wheeler, a grouse did the neatest little maneuver to avoid becoming pate on the grill of the barreling Kenworth.
Then it's luck ran out with us. Or more specifically, my roof-mounted CB radio aerial. With a distinctive BWANG, a significant part of the grouse, now in a plural form, went on to obliterate visibility for the following Isuzu. It was a sign; problem was, none of us could read it through the goo.
With a stop for a little quick visibility rectification, we more warily pressed on, arriving a couple hours later in Pinedale. After plucking the SUV and a quick meal (in a restaurant, not of the grouse...), we moved smartly to the trail head, and geared up for our 2 mile, 1,500 foot descent to the ford, determined NOT to relive the comedy of errors that left a full bottle of Jose Cuervo abandoned in the wilderness. Our packs were slightly better arranged than before, though it'd make little difference when it came time to exit the valley below.
There was time enough to worry about that.
At the ford, we were confronted by the stream, which was about 200 or so feet wide, swift-moving and bone-chilling, snow-melt cold. Once there, we examined it closely: there was supposed to be a rock in the middle of the ford, serving as a landmark for where to cross. The rock was, at that moment, conspicuously absent.
Aka, under water. That damned grouse tried to warn us.
Three of us knew what the alternative was, having done it the year before. It was readily decided: we're going across at the ford. We're guys. 'Nuff said.
Murf and yours truly decided to cross first, and point the way for Brock and 'Ray'. The temperature of the water was sufficient to cause me to think that, by the time the water was at my waist, my family jewels had just ingrown, never to emerge again. And the current...was more than I'd bargained on. By about a third of the way across, my pack was largely water-logged, and I was hoping for that grouse to be rotting in Hell. Murf wasn't expressing anything at that moment; his iced-over gaze was intently on the opposite bank and shedding the shade of blue he was turning.
Until about half-way: Murf found a spot that allowed him to take a scuba lesson, and get a fish-eye view. One moment, he was ahead and slightly to my right; the next moment, no Murf. With only my head above water at this point, I grabbed Murf's shoulder and navigated him to a spot in front of me that put his head back where he could see the objective, all the while sputtering expletives about a fish named Wanda.
The other two were watching this from the bank with rapidly diminishing enthusiasm.
Finally achieving the opposite bank -- only to be set upon by a horde of deer flies, having lost our insect repellent in the icy stream -- I waved back at the other two, and in my best Madonna imitation yelled, "just stay below where we were!"
It didn't help: I wound up having to go out and grab the first one, when the icy waters collapsed his right knee; then the other, when his sodden sleeping bag kept flopping over his head in the forceful current.
We were one sodden, sorry-looking foursome at that point; but at least we were across.
We spent the rest of the day drying out equipment, reacquiring circulation and setting up camp. Despite the inauspicious beginning, the next few days went reasonably well, other than a run-in between one of our party and a butt-craving tick, and one day of endless hail/thunderstorms. That put us to thinking again of recrossing the ford -- probably running even deeper by now -- and considering various options to avoid repeating Day 1. Like going home in August (a month hence). *Buzzer*. Supplies, work and Murf's wife would never stand for that (well, maybe two out of three). The three of us who'd experienced the 'mountain goat country' to our south gave passing thought to trying for the bridge downstream; the memory of the ground between us and it was enough to scotch that idea.
It was the ford, or nuthin'.
Meantime, our newbie -- not a part of the Jose Cuervo debacle a year before -- was silently formulating a plan of his own. One, when he sprung it on us, he asserted would make the crossing "a lark".
Next up, the execution of that plan, and the exciting* conclusion of the Poseidumb Adventure.
* humiliating...laughable...Darwinesque...idiotic, typical-guy-thang

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Religion and Scams


*Anuddah scambait exercise from '06*

I sometimes am not only too much of a smart ass for my own good; I'm a pseudo-sacrilegious one.

Don't you just HATE when that happens? I should say I do. But I'd be lying.

When folks talk about the mythical separation of church and state, they are clearly talking out their flatulence holes: every state has a church. A whole bunch of 'em, with more differing denominations than the US Treasury.

Now that that's settled...there is an opportunistic sect of folks who don't particularly care about religion. Some among them use a religion they don't particularly know well, care about or believe in, to stir up the masses who do, to carry out things like terrorism and take out/delivery suicide bombs with lunch and dinner specials included.

Then, there are the more simple, less explosively-inclined out there, who just use religion to dupe the faithful. Outta money. Some do it without the pretense of an email scam. Pastor Gas -- Robert Tilton -- is one such (of many). He has no need of an email ploy; he does his scamming right on TV.

I tend to draw the scam-inclined who prefer the email route.

Over the years, more than a few of my email scammers have targetted me with a scam based in religion, faith, and playing on what they assume is my guilt of living in a rich, fat society that needs to reach out to, and take care of, those less well off. They apparently figure that once I see Sally Struthers -- all three of her -- begging for donations for waifs in the Third World, I'm tearfully on the phone, maxxing out my credit card. Or they need just hit me with the "dying in the Netherlands, and I need you to give my wealth away to widows and orphans....for a fee" ploy, figuring that I'll feel so bad about their plight, I will happily pony up, just to think of all those happy, smiling widows and orphans I'm supposed to be helping.

Phffffft.

This comes as no surprise to those who've read this blog much: the effort to provide me with a guilt trip is wasted, even if all expenses are pre-paid. Though registered unaffiliated, I have conservative inclinations. In fact, I'm worse than a conservatively-inclined: I'm a mean-spirited conservative-inclinator. Only a mean-spirited conservatively orienter would receive the following plea from "a fauxdying woman in the Netherlands", and do widdit what I dun.

Witness the following (note: I'll just post the lowlights of this rather long-winded email, so's you're not bored along with being incensed about my complete indifference to human suffering):

FROM MRS ROSEMARY BROWN OF NETHERLANDS
PLEASE ENDEAVOUR TO USE IT ON CHURCHES AND ORPHANAGES

Dear one in the Lord
My name is Rosemary Brown (Mrs). Naturally this letter might come to you as a surprise (uh..nawp) since we have not met before.it is by the grace of God that this took ocurred (huh?) knowing the truth and the truth shall set me free. Having know the truth, i had no choice than to do what is lawful and rightful in the sight of god for eternal life and the sight of man for witness of God's mercy and glory upon my life (am I supposed to be tearing up or cheering here?). I have the pleasure to share my life briefly history with you and also prayerd over it, God revealed to me that you are genuine hearted and can do this work (I always knowd God had an ornery sense of humor).

I am her from the netherlands. I am married to dr. William Brown who died in 2003. We were married eleven years without a child, but this is not your worry (thanks; glad we cleared that up). He died after an illness that lasted only four days. Before his death, we were born again christians. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of EIGHTEEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSANDS US DOLLARS with Unity Trust Bank LONDON PLC.

Altogether, i have decided to give alms to charity organizations as i want this to be one of the last good deed I do on earth. My health is deteriorating as you see (and just how the spoon-billed platypus am I supposed to see that in a pictureless email?) and I cannot do this any more myself.

I recieve a letter from the bank, in structing me as the wife of the depositer to come forward to recive the money or rather issue a letter of authorizsation to sumebody to recive it on my behalf since i cannot come over there due to my fatal illness. Again, i with my laptop in a hospital where i have been undergoing treatment for cancer which had indicated to my doctor that i would not last for the next four months (okay...let's have a big "awwwwww" from the more feeling readers out there, since I'm too mean-spirited to give a rat's family jewels).

So it is my last wish to see this money distributed to charity organizations, churches, because my relatives have plundered so much of our wealth after my husband's death (don't you just HATE conservative in-laws?) and my illness got deteriorated. i cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them.

Please, i beg you in the name of god to help me and see my last wish is realized. i beg of you, a christian and god fearing person not to forsake me now.

The bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. i took this decision because i don't have any child which i fault no one for and my husband's relatives are not christians or believers. i must know this money will not be used in an ungodly manner.

My happiness is that i lived a life worthy of a christian. so i am not afraid of death hence i now where i am going (just pack fire-proof clothing, Ma'am). i know i am going to the bossom of the lord. Exodus 14 vs 14 says that the lord will fight my case and i shall hold my peace (that isn't what it says, but who am I to rain on her bullschtick garden? mwhahaha) . Whoever that wants to serve the lord must serve him in spirit and truth (counts her out).

Please, i don't need telephone communication in this regard because of my health and the presence of my husband's relatives around me always (guess they can't read what you're emailing then, eh?). i don't want them to know of you and your helping hand. any delay in your reply will give me lesser time to fulfill my wish to serve the lord as i have dreamed of since i was little child (gag me with a front-end loader).

If you would please endeavour to contact me for arrangements and assure me that you will act accordingly as i stated herein and you can not betray me once you receive the money into your account.

Hoping to hear from you soonest (what IS it with these seminar scammers and this "soonest" crap?).

I'll wait a moment while some of you wipe away the compassionate tears, while others of you finish hanging me in effigy for my mean-spirited asides and digs.

Okay. Now's time to reveal that coarse-humored, mean-spirited, sacrilegious streak in yours truly. I replied to Mrs. Rosemary Brown. But not merely as U. R. Phulovit; I replied as Reverend U. R. Phulovit of the Universal Life Church of the Perpetual Song Sung Horkage:

My good and wasting waif:

PeeeRRRRRRAAAAAIISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSE GEEEEE-AWWWD!

Merciful Heathens, Sister, that was some enlightened bulshevik you laid on the pulpit hyarabouts, shore enough!

Welcome, my grasping-at-straws heathenette, from my mentor, the Reverend C. Mai Moon and his TRAVELLING SALVATION SHOW! HALLE BERRY! PACK UP THE BABIES AND GROPE THE OLD LADIES AND EVERY ONE GOES AT LEAST TWICE A DAY with the right fiber intake, HALLE BERRY!

On behalf of my meager but thoroughly bemused clusterflock of the UNIVERSAL LIFE CHURCH OF THE PERPETUAL SONG SUNG HORKAGE, I -- Reverend U. R. Phulovit, mentor and aspiring replacement to the renowned REVEREND C. MAI MOON -- thank you for this plentitude of vacuous promises! Since giving is akin to grace, I'll grace you with the same reciprocity, HALLE BERRY and HOWARD BE THY NAME!

We are all one in Him, unless we are two, then Praise HIM twice! I have most carefully read your missive to give Him and His children the business you so desire to give in your pre-corpsely status, Sister Heathen. I am moved to say that I am touched by your zeal in this, as He is my witness, having once been beaned by a birdhouse which has since become a digression to the subject at hand.

I do believe -- and I know I speak on behalf of Him and my amply-posteriored mentor, REVEREND C. MAI MOON -- that we are able to meet your needs in a manure that will bless all who partake in something akin to that which we are all akin to partaking of, more or less, all things being something, if not the same as something else, which it may or may not resemble.

Do write me back at this email address, my wavering child of fading vitals -- (a now disabled email addy) -- and worry not about the significance therein. For in the cow we find spiritual solidity which we can milk for a life time; and in feathers, we find the insulation of our faith, which if not careful, we shed lest we stray from the coup of His Word, HALLE BERRY!

I shall await your next, fading compost flower, and together in HIS guidance, we shall travel the path of your giving us the business that will forever after guarantee your place in the eternal BBQ pit that takes reservations from people just like you and Matthew Lesko.

Go Forth in His Name, or go fifth and take a number,
Rev. U. R. Phulovit

Amazing grace or not, I did get one rather befuddled reply from Mrs. Rosemary Brown:

Reverend Phulovit

Thank you for answering my call for help the darkness of my failing life. god has answered my prayer as i know he would.

Reverend Phulovit, i am having a problem understanding all that you have said to me and i ask that you speak simple English that i can understand. i am ill you know and much of what you say is hard for me to read. i will then ask you that you contact my good friend, Barrister Samuel Beres (email samuelbere1@yahoo.com) who will work with you to go between me in my weakened condition (ewww...sex with a near corpse?). I go and send him your reply so he may know it is you when you contact him and he is okay with me to act for me.

May God bless you all the days of your life Phulovit.

Not once He reads this, me thinks.

And once the good bannister read it, that ended the whole shebang. Nothin' from him, and no more from herself. Horsefeathers. Too bad: I was thinking of employing some South Park or Leslie Nielsenisms from Repossessed. Oh well.

Guess my mean-spirited conservative-inclination will have to make hay with some other poor faux-suffering waif another day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tornado Chasing For Dummies 2009 - I


The poster at the right pretty much sums up my first serious expedition in '09. All but the picture, that is. More on that in a bit.
My favored source for getting myself into trouble -- The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center -- was not promising the first full week of June. BUT...it did offer a 10% probability of tornadic activity, in a tight little bullseye encompassing NE Colorado, SE Wyoming, and W/SW Nebraska for Friday, June 5. I wanted to operate closer to home than last season, for reasons I'll shortly 'splain, but the pickings just weren't there.
So at 11am on Friday, June 5, it was off to the northeast. I designated the center of the SPC "bullseye" as my destination. And at about 2:45pm, I arrived there: Ogallala, NE.
Don't worry, folks: they have civilization, flushing toilets AND a Wendys.
A problem -- a key, rather seminal one, actually -- for an amateur stormchaser like moi, is a lack of the kind of equipment that professional, experienced stormchasers have. Not the least of which is a short-wave radio and other means to track and hone in on promising storm developments. In my more local area -- most of NE Colorado -- I use 850 KOA in Denver, which is pretty Johnny-on-the-spot with NWS bulletins and warnings, things I can use, and have, to steer myself into significant pucky.
But once I get where KOA doesn't care what's happening, weather-wise...I'm on my own.
So I tried out the roadside signs that recommend radio stations for weather updates, like I used near Julesburg, CO. What I got from one, watered down, was this:
"Hidy...a furr piece a gud wether we's havin' h'yarbouts, but them fellers at the Natl Wether Service sez that we gots thunderstorms in da forecast, an' summa dem might git a tad lowbrow, iffen ya know whadda mean. So y'all keep an eye peeled now, y'hear? Now back to the soothing litany of Mortimus Ortly and his Melodic Hawg Reports..".
Another station I found, that wasn't static-infected, had a moving soliloquy about corn pollinating, and how agriculturally sexy it was. So I drove uninformedly on, intent on getting to the bullseye zone, and then parking it a spell. Maybe SW Nebraska radio would be more meteorologically informative.
It wasn't. I did find a station that -- between the kind of country western songs that make you want to get divorced before your wife runs off with the dog, truck and kids -- kept repeating "The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Warning for all of SW Nebraska until 10pm; also, strong thunderstorms with thunder, lightning, rain, and those pesky ice balls that wreck your termato plants, may accompany a tornado if it shows up". The problem was, the station never said where it was broadcasting from.
Perhaps there's a good reason for that ;-)
So I noshed some useless calories in a Wendy's parking lot, and pondered the sky a spell, while listening for a sign that it was time to get moving in one direction or another. Instead, for the next hour, all I had was a yellow-breasted finch, harping at where I was parked (under a nesting tree, I reckon), and listening to music that had me either wanting to kick the snarf out of some overseas bad guys, or get drunk and cry 'cuz my now-ex wife had taken my pet rock, my wheels, and my tornado picture collection, and run off with Knuckles, a local entremanure and fix-it dude.
Finally annoyed with Hannah Montana, I stopped by a nearby motel, wherein the rather bored office attendant had The Weather Channel on the tube, and we were looking at a tornado, live. But one 2 hours west, in Goshen County, Wyoming. However, when a radar map was highlighted to show the storm location, I saw it was on the Wyoming/CO/NE border, and on an east-southeast track, that might just bring it by Ogallala in about 5 hours.
DOH...5 hours???
Besides not being equipped for night chasing, there was only so much of Me and You And A Dog Named Ebenezer Ukulele Ungabunga that I could take. At least now, I had a definitive storm and a definitive location, and I could consult the handy map that'd been folded up in my car since the first '04 expedition. Straight west out of Ogallala on I-80 or on US 30, and I could engage the storm head-on, in less than half the time. Of course, I'd made that mistake too, all too often -- attacking a storm from ahead, instead of from the most active flank. What I needed to do was flank the storm, and come up on it's SW side, where much of the stuff I sought would lurk. That would necessitate a retreat back into NE Colorado, and then a straight north approach from Julesburg, on a lonely two-lane highway.
Sure, there was a plentitude of even more isolated dirt roads; but as I learned in '05, my Saturn couldn't cope widdem at any appreciable speed, once rain turned the dirt to grease.
While I pondered that, the tornado in Wyoming roped out and disappeared, after about 20 minutes of terra firma disorganatia. But if the storm could produce one, it could produce more.
And I was in a hurry. So as usual, I elected the faster, head-on route. Stubborn is as stupid does ;-)
A couple hours' on, I could see a cloud formation (with a lot of darker, more menacing stuff behind it) that had some signs to suggest a wall cloud. I stopped and observed it for some minutes, and got a tad annoyed as it promptly fell apart, almost as if it'd "pranked" me, and was pointing and laughing now.
But beyond it....there was something. And from something, something else began to form.
And I was right in its path.
But after shooting two photos of the start of what appeared to be an apparent funnel cloud about 1 1/2 miles in front of me....the dagnabbed thing disintegrated. I was all set to shoot and scoot....and phfffft.
Strapping myself to the roof of my car and raging at the heavens didn't strike me as a bad idea about now.
A search of radio stations with strong signals nearby wasn't giving me any useful information; local celebrations, agriculture reports, local news, bad commercials...but not one promising storm report.
I sat for a spell longer, watching a promising-looking storm pass me by, and producing nothing other than a wimpy funnel cloud and no warnings over local radio.
Now 7pm, I dejectedly turned south, back for Colorado. Perhaps something was doing there.
Not until I hit Sterling, did I make out the distant signs of some impressive cumulonimbus to my southwest. I'd be coming at it from the wrong side, but when's that ever stopped me? I raced off in the direction of Akron, CO.
And wandered into rain, small hail, some stout winds....but no tornadoes. And no warnings. All KOA had to prattle about was a silly baseball game. Ack. Once I arrived at Akron, with dusk settling in, I decided to turn for home. Swing and a miss, struck out again.
But on the other side of Wiggens, headed SW on I-76, I saw I had one more chance for "something": ahead, the skies were darker than dark, and lightning was frequent and intense. Granted, the only way I'd know if a tornado were in my path would be to drive into it, or watch headlights in front of me doing rather unnatural things that make one go "that's messed up". Anyway, my camera wasn't set up for night-shooting. But with the intensity of the lightning, it might not matter.
As I'm headed into a bony-fingers of skeletal lightning hands across the sky ahead, another warning from the NWS: Severe Thunderstorm Warning. And, as always, I was headed into it, head-on. See the "stubborn is as" comment, earlier.
For about 25 minutes, it was something to behold: lightning turning night into day, and throwing both cloud-to-cloud and ground-to-cloud bolts, splotches and patterns all across the sky in front and overhead of me. I made a couple tries to shoot the stuff, inadequate as my equipment was; as always, I was too slow trying to drive, point and shoot; but stopping to get out and shoot, with the intensity of the lightning overhead, well...even my 'stubborn is' has limits.
Finally, about 11:30pm -- 12 1/2 hours after leaving my place -- I returned home. 610 miles in that time, for one puny funnel cloud (though some other shots that might be meteorologically amusing). Later, I learned that a tornado did touch down in Keith County, Nebraska (Ogallala, county seat). After dark. Vortexial turkey.
Maybe I'll try another piece of advice on that tornado safety poster next time: the only safe place during a tornado is in my arms. Come here, baby. I'll just make sure not to have some rural radio station playing a someone dun someone wrong song.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Decision of the Ages


65 years ago, he presided at a small meeting of senior commanders, weighing what was probably the single biggest decision of his, or perhaps anyones' life in modern history, then or since.
Advice was plentiful and contradictory. Tensions were almost unbearable. The stakes, as high as at any time in the history of Mankind.
Years of planning, preparation, sweat, treasure, tears....and blood....had gone into it. After almost three years of combat in secondary theatres, and a bloody, wrenching fight in the skies over France and Germany to wrest air superiority from the Germans -- at a cost that today, would be judged altogether impossibly prohibitive and politically unfathomable -- had now come down to one decision.
That decision: to commit 175,000 of America's and her Allies' finest to the fray, on a few miles of a windswept, defended stretch of beach front -- a potential toehold on Fortress Europa to begin the liberation of a continent from National Socialist darkness and terror, or a bloodbath of unprecedented proportions and an ignoble defeat of unimaginable consequences -- had come.
The decision fell on the shoulders of one man. The decision rested on him, and him alone.
A man who on the morning of December 7, 1941, was completely anonymous to the American public, the American media, American politicians and even perhaps amongst military men. A man who himself never saw such a momentous decision as one that would soon loom on his challenging, stormy horizon.
He was told the weather was manageable but precarious; he was told the window of opportunity was little more than a day and a half between weather fronts. He was told to expect up to 70% casualties among his sea-and-airborne assault troops. He was told that if he didn't go now, he'd have to wait for the right conditions until the middle of July. He was told that the Germans might have sniffed out the movements, and would be poised with veteran panzer divisions, ready to annihilate the beachheads before they were established. He was told that the decision had to be made, otherwise the thousands of ships, now standing out into the English Channel, would have to be recalled. Some of his best and brightest advisers wanted to go; others wanted to wait. He gave them all a say.
But the responsibility for the decision remained his.
He knew that his plans had been refined and refined and refined again, that the men were conditioned, trained and ready. It was also he who had often said that the best-laid plans, once the battle began, didn't mean anything: once the battle was joined, it was a soldier's fight. He knew that up to this moment, the eyes of the world were on him; yet what weighed on him more than the eyes of the world, was the humbling knowledge that once the decision was made, it was a captain piloting a bomber, or a lieutenant in the Airborne, or a sergeant in the infantry, or a corporal in the tank corps, or a private in the artillery, or a sailor on a LSI, LST or close-support destroyer, that would be the focal point of success or failure of "The Great Crusade". And he knew that he would be asking a lot of those men, perhaps asking for their all.
On the eve of the decision, he met with men of the 101st Airborne, the spearhead of the attack, or the sacrificial lambs being sent to the slaughter. He was candid as to what he was asking of them; they appreciated and respected his candor. Their cocky bravado and confidence assured him; his confidence assured them.
But still, the decision to commit those young men -- an untold number of whom would surely die, both he and they knew -- came down to him.
He had prepared two statements to release to the press; one, accepted the whole responsibility himself for the decision, if the invasion proved a disaster. In today's politically correct world, an almost unheard-of testament of courage and personal commitment to the principles of leadership.
When he ordered them to go, this man became a man of the Ages.
That man's decision initiated D-Day, June 6, 1944. That man was General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The rest is indisputable history.
Will we ever see their kind again? Of the infantrymen who hit those beaches on D-Day, the airborne troopers who fought inland, the airmen who fought, froze and died in the skies over France and Germany, of the sailors who risked all to bring the men in, and fought hard to support them...we have seen them again. We see them today, heroes who hold the far frontier against terror and repression. Our Constitutional representative republic has produced the finest men and women the world has ever seen, generation after generation.
But will we ever see HIS kind again?
I can only hope so; Dwight Eisenhower was the right man for the right moments in history, both on D-Day, and through the tumultuous '50s. Few who have aspired to positions of leadership in this nation, then or since, have been as principled, solid, well-grounded, humble, ready to answer the call, and stand equally ready to take the blame of failure, and share the success with those who earned it in the hardest arena the world has ever known: the arena of combat.
It's been 40 years since God received him into the Kingdom of Heaven. May we see your kind again, Ike.

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