I needed a new one anyway...

This has to be one of the stupidest things I've ever done.  When it happened, I looked at my wife and said, "We tell no one of this. Ever."  So of course, I've decided to tell all of you so you can laugh at what an idiot I am.

Last weekend my wife and I packed up the car and threw the canoe on top and headed out to one of our favorite Adirondack lakes.  The thing about this place is that you can never tell just how busy it will be.  Sometimes you get there and there might be 10 cars in the parking lot and other times you might be the only ones there.  The other thing that can happen is that you are completely alone on a Friday morning at 9am, but by the same time the next day the lake is crawling with people. Or not. It's a mystery.

On this particular occasion, when we got there it wasn't overly crowded but there were a fair amount of cars.  Worse, there was already another car parked in the launch area and they were unloading their stuff.  It was a husband and wife and their dog.  I noticed two things immediately -- they had an inordinate amount of shit, and they had an electric trolling motor.

We parked behind them, and started doing the same thing.  We grabbed the canoe and brought it down to the water and then came back up for the rest of the stuff.  We exchanged pleasantries with them, and it turned out that they were from out of state and it was their first time there.  He started asking me about the campsites on the lake.

"So, are there many sites around here?  Can you make any recommendations?" he asked.

I thought fast, and told him the location of all the sites, starting on the right and working my way counter-clockwise, and ending with, "The last one is around this bend, and it's not bad. It's a little loud and everyone has to pass by it to get to the other sites.  That's the one we are hoping to get, because my wife's shoulder is bugging her and we can't paddle far." His wife was very nice, but she had this really loud smoker's voice and a Boston-like accent. Lucky for us, as it turned out.

The thing about this lake is that that there aren't that many sites, and it can be hard to get a good spot, or indeed, any spot.  Sometimes it can seem like a race -- who can get there first and fastest.  I always have that sense of panic when the place is crowded.  I have no idea why, but I get very competitive.

I was hoping he'd take pity on me and shoot for one of the other sites, because I had been really talking them up.  I knew he had a trolling motor and could definitely outrun us.  We finished chatting, and I practically ran to the car and grabbed the paddles and the life vests, the bear canister and some of my camera gear, and loaded them in the canoe.  I made another quick trip for the backpacks.  We kept looking to see how far along they were with their unpacking, and we were desperate to beat them out on the water.  My wife climbed in the front of the canoe, I pushed us out, jumped in the back and we were off.  I was paddling my ass off, going full-tilt because I wanted..no, needed to beat those motorized bastards out onto the lake.   We were almost out of earshot, paddling like a well-oiled machine, when in the distance I heard a distinctly Bostonian voice say, "I think they fuggot their cah."

My wife heard it too, and we immediately looked at each other in horror.  We had forgotten our car.  It was still parked in the middle of the launch area, all the doors wide open.

There was a split second where I actually thought, "Fuck it. We'll get another one," because that's how ruthless the race for campsites can get, but then good sense prevailed.

"Holy shit," I said. "I can't believe we forgot the car.  I'm never, ever going to be able to call someone stupid again, as long as I live."

So we did the paddle of shame back to the launch area, and the couple were still loading up their stuff.   I jumped out of the canoe, mumbled something about, "Ooops, forgot the car. Ha Ha. First time for everything," closed the hatchback and the rear doors, jumped in and drove it up to the lot and parked it.  I ran back down to the canoe and we pushed off again.

The good news is that we got the spot we were after and we didn't run into the other couple for a day or so. When we finally did, it turned out that they got a late start because they had a hole in their canoe.  I had nothing to do with that, I swear.

Our good luck didn't last, however.  Shortly before 5 pm, we saw something moving toward us. At first we couldn't make it out, but we could certainly hear the idiots as they yelled back and forth to each other, even though they were barely a yard apart.  There were many f-bombs, and a spirited conversation about knives was in progress.  As it got closer to us, I couldn't believe what I saw.

Two large canoes, connected by 2x4s, with a pallet suspended between them, piled high with shit. Grills, coolers, stereo equipment, multiple 50 gallon garbage bags full of what I can only assume were clothes, full-sized lawn chairs, propane tanks, lanterns and more. You name it, and it was probably on this shitpile homemade catamaran.  There was an electric trolling motor fastened to the back of the pallet, and one guy was steering the whole barge with a stick while the other three drank.   I shook my head, and turned to my wife and said, "We'll be hearing from them later, guaranteed."  It ended up being worse than that.

As dusk approached, I boiled water to cook dinner, and as I was fiddling with the stove, I saw another kayak heading right for us.  I went down by the water to see what was up.  It was a young girl, probably 18 or 19, and she said, "I think I have the wrong campsite.  My friends said they'd be here."

"Yes, you have the wrong campsite." I replied. "They're not here.  Did they have some sort of  homemade shitpile catamaran by any chance?" I asked.

"Yes! That's them. Do you know where they went?"

"I think they're about 3 campsites down on the left," I said. "That thing was hilarious by the way."

She didn't say anything about my opinion of their boat, but thanked me and left.

A couple of hours later, another pair of kayaks show up holding two guys each.  By now it's full dark, and we have a fire going. They are shining their flashlights at us and we can hear them throwing f-bombs and talking about some girl they know and describing her as a "humper."  Class acts, obviously.  It turns out that nobody got the memo that their spot was already taken, and since there's no cell service at this lake, everyone looking for the party headed directly for our campsite until they realized that we weren't their fuckhead college friends and veered off.

This went on until about 1am.  People out on the lake with flashlights, yelling to each other and trying to find the party.  It wasn't that hard to find, since it sounded like a full on frat house in the middle of the wilderness. Obnoxious rap music, lights, screaming, laughing...until 4am at least.  I was a little on edge to tell you the truth because I don't like people on the lake in front of my campsite in the middle of the night.  Luckily, my wife had gone into the tent before me.  The last thing she said was, "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to go to sl--" and then the snoring started, so she missed the bulk of it.  I stayed up and tended the fire until there were no more people on the lake, mostly because I wanted to make sure there wasn't going to be any idiots doing stupid things, but also because my wife was snoring like a drunk biker and I really didn't want to get in the tent with her.  Eventually, everything quieted down and I crawled into the tent and fell asleep.

I'm thinking I might have to find another place to go, or we're going to have to just start camping exclusively during the week. It seems that word has gotten out that this place has no ranger presence and is easy to get to, so it's become a party destination on the weekends.  I'm not sure if we just have bad luck, or if it's like this all the time now, but it used to be deserted after labor day.   I think part of the problem is that they improved the road a few years ago and it's much smoother and easier to navigate than it used to be.  Back in the day it would take you an hour to go twelve miles because the roads were so rutted that even with an F-150 you'd have to go really slow if you wanted to keep your exhaust system.  Now it's so smooth you can do 25 mph in a smart car and not spill your latte.

Anyway, that's pretty much the stupidest thing I've done lately.  I won't say the stupidest thing I've ever done, because I'm hoping I have a lot more time to top it, but so far it's right up there.  

Here's a handful of pictures for you:

Milky Way before the moon came up.  The tree is lit by our fire.

Sunset the first night

My co-pilot

30 second exposure by moonlight


The one where my wife takes the full load.

I recently looked up our property on Google Earth, and realized something.  Our house was no longer visible from space.  Some may view this as a good thing, but I do not.  It meant that it was time to spend all kinds of money I didn't want to spend, doing something I didn't want to do.  I had to cut down trees, and free my house from this leafy oppression.  Well, not me personally. I was going to hire someone, since most of these trees were white pines over a hundred feet tall, with mean dispositions, and I only have a 14" chainsaw and a fear of barber chairs.  They intentionally and very spitefully get sap all over everything, drop pine cones the size of soda cans all over my driveway, and release clouds of yellow pollen for a month every year.  If they could walk, I'm pretty sure life as we know it would be over because white pines would kill you if they could.

When we first moved up here to the North country, we didn't want to cut down a single tree.  We had come from a development that had been built on an abandoned dairy farm, and up in these parts anyway, there are not a lot of trees in a pasture.  The developer had planted one or two spindly, sad looking specimens in everyone's front yards and called it a day.  As a result, we left way more trees standing than we should have when we built this house, and over the years they grew wider and taller until this past winter I realized that it never gets sunny here.  It was like living in a cave all winter since the sun never clears the tree line from the moment it comes up to the moment it sets.

At least now that it's officially Sprummer,* we manage to get some sun between 11am and two pm, but even that isn't enough to plant any sort of sun-loving flowers and expect them to grow straight.  Instead, they try to get to the sun and so they either lean out at a 45 degree angle (lilies, I'm talking to you) or they fall over, and grow horizontally, and when they're finally in the sun they take a right angle turn and point up again.  (Gladiolus, I apologize.) It makes for a very tilty-looking garden.

Long story short, I decided that I wanted 23 trees gone.  My wife, however, was not really down with that.  She has a personal connection to every single tree on our lot, and was not happy with me for wasting money on something like tree removal when that same money could be spent on other necessary upkeep, like Caribbean vacations and garden potting sheds.  I, on the other hand, didn't want to get crushed in my sleep by a bastard white pine with a death-wish.  In typical woman-logic, she was more than willing to let the trees fall on the house, collect the insurance, and then finally paint the bedroom the color she wanted to, and maybe add a walk-in closet and a dormer.  Apparently, a tree crashing through the top of the house could be a good thing.

In the end, I convinced her that it made sense to at least remove the three humongous white pines with long, heavy, dangerous branches that were overhanging our back deck, and a 70-foot tall, five-trunked maple tree that stored a swampy, evil-looking gallon of brown water in the rotting crotch where all the trunks met.  I also chose a stand of mixed hardwoods and pines out in front, along with an assortment of smaller damaged or dead trees that were nothing more than an all-you-can-eat woodpecker buffet. That, my friends, is a lot of wood.**  

In addition to creating a canopy over the driveway,  all of these trees in front were blocking the sun from reaching the garden on the side of the house, and I figured that taking them down would give us a little more light in the front yard and also prevent her flowers from just uprooting themselves in disgust and walking somewhere else where they would be more appreciated.

I called around and got some estimates, and ended up going with a company I had used in the past. They aren't climbers -- they have a crane and the way they take a tree down is something to behold.  They haul a guy holding a chainsaw up to the top of the tree with the crane and then when he's situated, he unhooks the crane cable from himself and ties it around the tree.  Then he climbs about half way down and makes a cut. Then the crane lifts a 50 foot section of a giant tree directly over your house and lays it down next to the chipper, where a couple other guys with chainsaws tear into it.  Then the crane goes back for another hunk.  It's a little nerve-wracking to watch.  While most of this tree went directly over the house so I couldn't see it, I did manage to catch this quick video through my office window:

In this fashion, they took all the trees I wanted gone in the space of about five hours, and left me with two straight 12-foot sections of oak and maple, which I will turn into chair parts or firewood, depending upon how much ambition I have between now and the time the wood dries too much to steam-bend.

At first, everything was going according to plan. Before they started, the owner/foreman asked me if I wanted any of the chips for the garden and I said no, take them all away.  As my wife was leaving the house because she had to be somewhere else while this was happening, she overheard this, and mentioned to him that I was wrong, and that she might, in fact, want some.  I went in the house because I was working from home that day and I needed to get some food before my lunch hour was over, leaving that bit of negotiation to her.  That way, she would determine where they'd leave the chips and I'd avoid responsibility.

Fast forward to about 2:45 pm.  I had been in a couple of back-to-back meetings, and so I hadn't had a chance to check on their progress.  When my 2 pm ended 15 minutes early, I decided to go outside and see how things were going.

I walked out my front door and the first thing I saw was a pile of wood chips the size of a school bus lining the side of my driveway.  And not a short bus either.  I'm talking a full-sized, take-the-football-team-to-an-away-game, diesel-powered, yellow-ass school bus.  In other words, a pile that was approximately 10 feet tall, 10 feet wide, and 40 feet long.  A few of the guys were standing in the driveway, waiting for the next section of tree to come swinging over the house, and I ran up to them.  "HOLY SHIT!" I said, followed closely by, "What the FUCK?"  There was arm waving involved.

One of them looked at me and said, "What? Oh, the chips? Your wife said she wanted those."

"Yeah, she wanted a yard or two, tops. Nothing like THAT," I said. "What the hell am I going to do with that giant pile?  It's completely ridiculous!"

"Well," he said, thoughtfully, looking at the pile. "We can't put them back in the truck. We don't have the equipment for that."

The owner must have seen me gesturing wildly or something, because he left his guy in the tree and shut off the crane and came over.

"What's up?" he asked.  "Isn't that where you wanted them?"

"The problem isn't where, it's how much," I said. "What the fuck am I going to do with that much mulch?"***

"Well, I asked your wife if she wanted the full load, and she said yes."

I didn't say anything, because that sentence was all sorts of wrong and I was still processing it.  He took my silence for stupidity, and continued.

That's a full load right there," he added, pointing to the pile like I was some sort of idiot.

"My wife has no concept of what a... covered dump truck can hold," I said, careful to avoid saying "My wife" and "full load" in the same sentence.  Plus, I didn't want to insult myself.  "This is wayyy too much. You need to make it go away or she's going to flip out.  She didn't want me to do this to begin with."

I was probably sounding like a big pussy, but I didn't care.  I wasn't the first guy in the world to think about the raft of shit he was in for if a mess didn't get cleaned up by the time his wife got home.

He echoed the other guy on his team and said, "Well, I can't pick it up again, I don't have a bucket loader."  He paused for a second, then said, "Do you want me to spread it out?"

In retrospect, I should have said no, but I had visions of that giant pile of wood chips being the first thing my wife saw when she pulled in the driveway, and I panicked.

"Yes," I said. "Christ, yes.  Spread it out. A lot. That'll make it better."

It did not, in fact, make it better.  Now the entire side of my yard looked like the bottom of a hamster cage.  Instead of being one manageable pile, the chips were now distributed in a foot-thick layer, spread over about 500 square feet. Walking on it was like being in a bouncy house that had been rinsed out with Pine-Sol because some over-heated kid had puked.

At that point, I admitted defeat and just told him to knock on the door when they were done and I'd write him a check.  I should have threatened to hold his money until he came back and cleaned up the chips, but in all fairness,  my wife did tell him exactly how much to leave behind.  So my homework this week is to find someone who can pick up these chips and move them next door to the empty lot.   A neighbor took about six loads with her John Deere bucket and it didn't even make a dent.

After I find someone to clear that out of there, the plan is to have that same person move a couple of boulders into the clearing and then make me a big-ass hole. (Note: Hyphens are important. I'm talking about a big hole in the ground, and besides, too late.)  I need this hole because...wait for it...we are going to go buy a blue spruce to put in the spot where they other five trees used to be. And yes, the irony, it burns.  But she always wanted a tree outside that she could decorate every year for Christmas, so there's that.

So all in all, it was not an experience I would recommend.  But it's over now.  Although I am thinking of welding up a giant hamster wheel and putting it on the side of the driveway like some kind of red-neck modern art installation.  Maybe I can charge admission if I can find a big-ass hamster.  (Again, note the hyphen.)

* I created this word because we don't have Spring here any more. It goes right from freezing one day to 80 degrees the next. 

** twss

*** He called it mulch.  He convinced my wife it was going to be mulch. FYI, this shit is nothing like mulch.  If you ever have trees taken down, and they offer to leave some for you, just say no. Trust me.)


Random Rants and Aerial Rectal Relief in 30 minutes or less.

This post? Completely random topics that I plan to write about as I think of them.  So to start, I'll have you all know that I'm a lottery winner.  I found a ten dollar bill in my jeans pocket when I put them on this morning, so on the way home from work I sprung for one of those ten dollar "$5000 a week for life" lottery tickets that only an insane person with more money than sense would ever buy.  But even though I knew my odds of winning were slightly worse than my odds of spending a night with a Victoria's Secret model who isn't printed on paper,  I walked into Stewarts and threw my wrinkled ten down on the counter like a boss.  

"Give me one of those," I said, pointing confidently to the ticket I wanted.  He tore one off like it was his job, because it is, and took my money.  I left the store, knowing in my heart that I would be retiring by the end of the day.  Then I drove home and stood at the kitchen counter with my coat on and went to town on that lottery ticket with the ass end of a bottle opener.  

And I won.  

I took my coat off and danced around a little. OK, no, not really. I just looked at the cat and said, "Hey! I won!" and the cat said absolutely nothing back,  but I could tell he was thinking, "Who gives a shit human, just open the magic can."  I ignored him and brushed the scratch-off crumbs from the counter top (don't tell my wife).  I didn't win $5000 a week for life, but I did hit on five different numbers at ten bucks each, so tomorrow, I'll do the completely rational thing and buy five more tickets because that's the only thing that's gone my way this week, and I want to keep it going.  So wish me luck. 

So what else is new?  I have a brand new pet peeve that you should all know about.  It's people who use the word "Ask" as a noun.  Apparently it's all the rage in corporate America these days, and it's infecting every meeting I attend and it makes me want to scoop the offender's eyes out with a melon baller.  Everyone has "an ask" now instead of a requirement or a request or, god forbid, an actual need.  If I hear one more person say, "My ask of you is that...." I'm going to completely lose my shit.  Either that, or I'm going to go all in, and just start using it all the time. 

At dinner:  "My ask of you is that you pass me the salt."
In Home Depot:  "My ask of you is that you tell me where I can find 3/4" phillips head screws."
Calling my wife:  "My ask of you is that you pick up some Tums and a melon baller for my next meeting." 

It's a ridiculous thing and it needs to die.

Another pet peeve? It's not acceptable to use texting shorthand and zero punctuation in email or instant chat messages.  Or, when it comes down to it, in an actual text message.  Christ, I have an old iPhone 4s from 2011 and it practically types the entire message for me after I hit the first two letters. 

There's no reason I should get a message from someone at work that says, and I quote: "cud u approve ur idm form 4 me?"  Because if that happens, I will respond with, "Sure. As soon as you promise to stop talking to me like you're Prince," which I did. Unfortunately, I think the person I was having this conversation with was about 22 and didn't know who Prince was.  I'm sure she was like, "f u and ur hole wrds gray balls."

So I said this post will be completely random, and I meant it.  Is anyone else sick of hearing about Brian Williams?  If I see one more picture of his smarmy looking face turned into some stupid meme I'm going to be forced to cancel my Facebook account, if that's even possible. I'm pretty sure they won't let you cancel it.  About four years ago, I tried to delete my account and the most I could manage to do was suspend it.  I googled "how to delete your facebook account" and  that night someone slashed my tires and left a note on my windshield that said, 'we no what ur doing. ur next.' I'm pretty sure it was Zuckerberg, but I can't prove it.

Here's my take on Brian. You don't 'misremember' getting your helicopter shot down. What he did was basically the same as me passing a car on the side of the road that had been side-swiped by a tractor trailer an hour before, and was in the process of being winched onto a tow truck, then getting home and telling my wife that I had been in an accident.  So yeah, let it die and let the guy get back to hosting The Daily Show or whatever.  

Something else in the news recently -- the FAA has announced some new Drone laws that basically say that (for now) a person has to be within line of sight of any drone they're piloting, and they can't fly higher than 500 feet.  That sort of puts the brakes on Amazon's plan to deliver stuff by drone, which I personally think is the stupidest idea ever.  Drones are cool and all, but I don't want the damned things flying over my house to deliver a jumbo tube of Preparation H to my neighbor because his 'roids are kicking up and he wants it in 30 minutes or less and doesn't want to leave the house.  I mean, I can sympathize to a point -- 'roids are no joke.  But if it means I have to put up with drones flying all over the place, he can walk around with his rectum between his knees for all I care.  Not to mention that those things look dangerous. (Not the 'roids, the drones.)  I'd think it would be worse in a metro area. What if one of these package delivery drones collides with a pigeon or clips the edge of a skyscraper and spins down into a crowd?  Amazon better start making some profit soon because they're going to need it to pay off the lawsuits.  

The other flaw in this plan?  There's a lot of people up here in the north country where I live who wouldn't think twice about loading up some drone with a heaping helping of #2 birdshot. They might as well hang a sign from it that says "FREE STUFF!" It's like skeet shooting except with the payoff of a piƱata.  

Lastly, if you know me, you know I'm fashionally illiterate.  Yes, I just made up a word.  My ask is that you go with it in the spirit of a ranting blog post.  I know nothing about clothes, and I don't really own a suit.  I generally wear Chinese jeans from American Eagle, (the irony!) and some kind of pullover henley or a button-down flannel and call it a day. As long as my clothes are clean, I'm good with it.  I really need to spring for a nice suit soon, because summer is coming and odds are I'll be going to a wedding or a funeral, which are about the only two things I would wear a suit for, preposition be damned.  Although, I suppose if I lost my job for some reason, like choking out someone who had one too many asks, I might need one for an interview.  Either way, it's time to suit up.  What point am I driving at here?  Number one,  I'd like to know why Facebook thinks I am fashion-conscious, and number two, I'd like to know why it keeps putting up ads with links to clothes like this:

Can you guys see me sitting at work in the cube farm or going to a club or even going out of the house dressed like that?  No?  Me neither.  How about this one?

Or possibly this?

I am actually in the market for a new hoodie, but I think I'll pass on the ermine collar.

Who wears this shit?  I have no idea.  Well, I do have an idea, and I think it might be adolescent metrosexual Japanese guys.  Certainly not me.   I could understand if they were tossing up ads for Orvis or LL Bean or even Eddie Bauer, but no.  I get this sort of stuff.   

Should I wear this to the next wedding I have to go to*?  

* or funeral.  Or lion taming gig. 


It's a Trap! Get an Axe.

Hello peoples of the Internet!  It's time for another edition of the old standby....

Fantastic Searches That Somehow Pointed People To My Site

This site doesn't get as much traffic as it used to, so some of these google search links are actually less fantastic and more obvious, but I liked them so I left them in.

wool nipple warmers - My advice is that this is a bad idea. Because if you actually DO find wool nipple warmers, they will be rough and scratchy, and you will soon be looking for silk nipple warmers and a big tube of Benadryl for Nipples. And let me ask a serious question here, since I don't have cold nipples. Is it possible for a nipple to be cold while everything else is hot? I mean, I've seen my share of pencil erasers, and it seems like it would be difficult to have such an isolated regional chilly spot without some sort of ice cube involvement. But maybe I'm wrong. As I've said, my nipples? Generally the perfect temperature all the time.

if u drink u are my enemy - That's a bit harsh, isn't it? I mean, I don't drink excessively, except for on the occasional weekend, and we've been friends for a long time, and you know what? Fuck it, I'm your enemy. Although, I have a request before you go. Would you consider upgrading to be my nemesis? I've always wanted one of those.

What should I have for lunch quiz - This is a tough one, but since you want a quiz, let me see if I can whip something up for you:

QUIZ: What should I have for lunch?

(1) A bowl of ground glass and fingernail clippings
(2) some sort of food
(3) A bucket of gravel and 8 ounces of Drano

If you check back with me in a week, I'll give you your grade. Hint: It's pass/fail.

15 minute quiz - You are clearly a man with some time to kill. But not a random amount of time. An exact amount of time. "Give me a quiz, Google. I don't care what it's about, as long as it takes me exactly 15 minutes. No more, no less." I'm sorry you wasted precious minutes on my site. I hope I didn't inadvertently force you to subsequently search for "10 minute quiz."

I am a professional builder but my testicles are hang low - This is a serious problem, but I think I can help. I've had many professional builders at the house doing one home improvement project or another, and there's one thing they all have in common -- the low testicles. I think it's one of those issues that is called "referred or reflective" in nature -- like when your back hurts but it's really caused by your knees being out of whack because the arches in your feet are messed up. You fix the arch problem, the knees straighten out and the back stops hurting. In your case, it's basically the same kind of thing. The testicles are hang low, because the underwear are hang low because the pants are hang low, and as a result, your ass crack are showing. If you pull up the underwear and the pants and tighten the belt, the testicles will rise with the rest of the wardrobe, and be held in place very nicely by the crotch of the pants, which now rests between your thighs instead of between your knees. Problem solved.

hard old nipples - I need more information to help you. For instance, I don't know if you're looking for hard old nipples, or if you have them. If you have them, and are looking for relief, I suggest you invest in some of this, and lay off the wool nipple warmers. Those things are just bad for business. If you're looking for them, I'm 99% sure you found them. The internet is a wonderful and terrible thing.

cock yourself, eyeball - I'm really not sure about this one. At first I thought you were looking for the porn version of Jib-Jab's "Elf Yourself" but then the eyeball part didn't really make sense. Other possibilities just went downhill from there, so I'm going to opt out on making any further comment.

bare butt spanking bill engvall - No judgement here -- by all accounts, Bill is a fine looking man. However, I'm still not sure how you ended up on my blog since I don't have much in the way of spanking pictures. Or Bill Engvall pictures. Well, until now, that is. I can't wait to see what sort of searches show up next time around. That said, I'm always willing to got the extra mile, so let me see if I can help*:

OK, that's enough search engine fun for one post. I have to go look at something else for a while so I don't have nightmares about Bill tonight. Have a good weekend and try not to cock yourself, eyeball.

 *You all owe me, because I had to visit www.spankingarmyboys.com to get the base picture for this horribly obvious photoshop.   Incidentally, don't type "Bare butt spanking" and *anything else* into Google with safe search turned off unless you want to see some shit.


Raptor it up, I'll take it.

Man, I almost forgot the password to this dump.

What have I been doing with my time, you ask? Well, I'll get to that.  So what's new with you? How've you been?  You look great!  Do people still read blogs?  Are blogs still a thing?  I'll have to Google it.

This past weekend my wife and I spent her birthday in a little Inn in Vermont.  We were hoping for some snow, and our plans included lots of relaxing and maybe a sleigh ride at a local farm.   We did lots of relaxing, but it was mostly forced because the weather sucked. Instead of snow we got icy rain that turned every available flat surface into a skating rink.  As a result, we spent a little more time than we planned in the giant antique store in Quechee, near the aptly named Quechee Gorge, which is always fun.  If you like antiques, and you live within a couple hours of Vermont, it's worth the trip. You can spend an entire day wandering around in this place.  

There are three warehouse-sized floors of almost everything under the sun, and if you look around you can find some really amazing and/or disturbing stuff.  Need a stuffed animal? You have several to choose from. And I'm talking about an actual animal that has been stuffed, not some shitty Elmo from China.  This one is my favorite, because of reasons:

Gratuitous Beaver Shot

How about a silver locket containing the braided hair of someone who died a hundred years ago? Sure, how many would you like?  A Bionic Woman lunch box and matching thermos?  Got you covered.  A bushel basket full of doll heads?  Um, yeah. A nightmare in the making.  And that was all within the first 100 feet of this place.  I spent a lot of time on the 3rd floor, which I call the 70's floor.  I had my choice of four different strobe lights, six lava lamps and dozens of black light posters, but I managed to restrain myself.  There were comic books all over the place.  My favorite was an old Spiderman Comic with the headline "SOMEONE DIES!" written in dripping blood letters - they didn't sugar-coat their marketing back then.   

I came very close to purchasing a portable record player with a bunch of 45's included, but after looking at the 45's, I realized that the previous owner was apparently a very serious Paul Anka fan, because about 70% of the records were by him.  I didn't even know he had that much of a career.  And really, there's only so much Paul Anka you can listen to before you want to break one of his 45's in half and drag the jagged shard across your throat to end the pain.   

Have you ever seen a bear trap in person?  Me neither, until this past weekend. And let me just say:  Holy shit.  That thing would quite literally take your leg off mid-shin.  I did like how the person selling the bear trap was also selling kid's toys and canning supplies.  This place has such a mishmash of random things, I think that's why I enjoy going there so much. It rotates stock between about 500 dealers, so there's always some new, weird stuff to gawk at.

Like this exorbitantly priced and completely horrific Santa Claus:

I tried to determine what made him worth a hundred dollars but I still don't know.  At first I thought maybe it was his come-hither sex-doll mouth, but then I figured out that it had to be because his massive head wound revealed the fact that he's made entirely out of Terminator: 

My other favorite item was this sign:

I saw this and immediately had only one question.  And that question was, "Who is responsible for dressing these slow deaf children?"

Their outfits are completely black, and consist of high socks, short pants, a jeweled belt, pointy shoes and some weird, nipple-like hat -- it's bad enough that they're already slow and deaf, and now they're going to get the shit kicked out of them by the other kids because they dress like ninja keebler elves.  It just doesn't seem fair.

We also did something else on the spur of the moment, since we had some extra time, and no, it's not what you're thinking.  We had way more extra time than that would have taken.  I'm not a machine.

We were driving down the road toward Quechee and saw a sign with a picture of an owl on it.  Then a hawk.  Shortly thereafter, we skidded to an icy stop in front of something called VINS - the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.  At any rate, they had raptors, and if there's one thing I'm a fan of, it's birds of prey.  It turns out they do rehab there, and they have a bunch of really cool birds in habitats.  If a bird can't be released into the wild because its injuries are too severe, it gets to live out its life here, getting free food and shelter.  It's a pretty good deal all around.  So we walked into the place and paid our $26 bucks for two tickets, and we went down to the enclosures to visit with the birds.

There was a ten-cent tour starting at 1pm, so we decided to take it.  I actually learned some stuff.  I learned how disgusting turkey vultures are, I learned how light bald eagles are (8 lbs) and I learned how fast a peregrine falcon can dive (230mph!)  I also learned it is cold as fuck in January in Vermont.  Here are some pictures so you can enjoy my experience. These were taken by my lovely wife:
This is my good side.

I'm invisible. Nothing to see here.


I still cannot look at that last picture without laughing.  It just can't happen.  I don't know why. One of my friends commented, "That owl looks like he's seen some Stuff." and that really sums it up.

After the tour, we went to the classroom, and learned some more stuff.  The instructor was a little pixie girl with short red hair, named Annie, who had the mannerisms of an animatronic Peter Pan at Disney World.  Even so, she was pretty good at what she did.  No sense of humor though.  She started with a talk about the difference between the types of talons that various raptors had and how they were suited to what and where they hunted.  She actually had a bunch of cut off bird legs that she was using for the demonstration.  She'd hand one to me since I was in the first row and say, "Take a look at that and then pass it around," which I dutifully did.  Of course, while she was doing this, she had a giant hawk perched on her forearm.  At one point the hawk was a little restless, and she said, "I'm not sure why he's acting up."  I said, "I'm thinking maybe it's all the...you know... severed hawk feet being passed around."  But she was having none of it.  She just said, "No, I think he's pretty used to seeing those by now."  After she flew him around the room a bit (which was very cool) she retired him and then brought in a great horned owl.  She spent a few minutes explaining the difference between a hawk wing and an owl wing, and how the fringe of feathers on the leading edge of the owl wing allowed it to fly almost silently.  Of course she had two "sample wings" which she handed to me and told me to pass around.  This bird was quite impressive, and he wouldn't shut up.  Then finally, he did shut up.  But not because he spied the severed owl wings and thought he might be next.  He shut up because he was busy doing something else.  Something that made him look like the owl version of Stevie Wonder.   Annie said, "Oh look!  This is going to be really special. You almost never get to see this. He's going to expel a pellet."

For those of you who don't know, an owl will eat a mouse or bird or lizard or whatever - bones and all - and it will digest what it can.  When it's done with the digestive process, since it can't digest bones and fur, and it apparently can't poop bones and fur out of its tiny bird butt, it will expel this leftover mass by gakking up a disgusting ball of hair and bones, which is what this owl did.  His head started bobbing, and his beak opened wide, and he made a sound like my cat when he has a hairball in his throat.  A second later, a grey, hairy pellet roughly the size and shape of a walnut hit the floor right in front of me and bounced once.  Annie bent over and picked it up.  "Don't pass that around,"  I said.  She didn't laugh, but that's cool.  She had a giant puking bird on her arm that could snatch both her eyes out of her head before she even started to feel the pain, and really, that's nothing to laugh about.

So yeah. That was an experience. I am pretty sure that's something I will (hopefully) only get to see once in my life.  I can now cross that off my disgusting nature bucket list, which, as of today, now includes this.

Speaking of things I've never seen before, the Inn we stayed at had the weirdest soap.  Have you ever seen anything like this before? I know I haven't.

My soap is such a slut.

So anyway, we had a great time, even though the weather sucked and I didn't get to take any pictures.  Oh right!  Back to what I've been doing with my free time.  I've acquired a few old cameras from the 50s and 60s and I've been shooting and developing film and making prints in a basement darkroom. (Really, since I have no windows down there, the whole thing is technically a darkroom, but it sounds more impressive to call it a "basement darkroom" instead of "Some shitty table I have stuff set up on temporarily")  It's been a blast so far.

I have an old large format Crown Graphic press camera and a couple of medium formats, a Mamiya RB67 and a Bronica S2.

I'm just getting into some alternative printing methods too, thanks to my buddy Mark, who is the one who got me into this in the first place.  I know I've pointed you to his Flickr page before, but his amazing work is here.

Here's a Van Dyke Brown I just finished the other night, sitting in the washing tray:

I'm having fun, and really, isn't that the point?  When work's not busy trying to find new and innovative ways to kill me, I have to find something to keep my mind off servers and ip addresses and Active Directory and Powershell, and this seems to fit the bill quite nicely.

I do miss this place though, so I'm going to make a new year resolution to not go six months between posts again. You three people who still read this blog are my witnesses.

Happy New Year everyone!