Okay, no more posts until July 5th, unless my jungle captors lend me a laptop and an Earthlink account! (Note to self: learn the spanish phrase for Earthlink.) If you are looking for enlightenment between now and then, check out the links I have on the left side of the page. Remember, I have nothing whatsoever to do with those people. Not only do I not read their sites, but I actively avoid their gazes at our wild blogger sex parties. Not that I'm a blogger. And also not that I've ever been to a wild sex party of any fashion, although I did see an episode of She Spies about one once. It got a little tawdry, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
But I digress. The next time you hear from me, I will be missing a finger and I'll have contracted malaria. See you on the other side, amigos.
Bad news for Central America: your region of the world is going even further down the toilet next week. At that time, I will be hitting your shores with nothing but my English to Spanish dictionary, a can of mace, and an indomitable spirit. (Speaking of which, if you've been to Belize City or Roatan in Honduras, drop me an email with some cool things to do. Without proper guidance, I'll end up losing my life savings at a dog/monkey/Chupacabra battle royale.)
In any event, I'm happy I'm going on this trip. By doing so, I'll effectively double the number of countries I've visited, from 2 to 4. One of those broad, nebulous goals for my life is to go someplace new every year; I have a coworker whose husband does the same thing. He's been doing it for many years now, so long in fact there aren't many more places for him to go. Last year, he went to Libya. Earlier this year, he went to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I can only guess his destination next year will be the pits of Hell.
You've got to admire his tenacity, though. If I stuck with my plan long enough so that the most appealing option remaining was Libya, I'd start writing letters to the UN, asking them to recognize Dollywood as a sovereign country. Good Lord, anything but Libya. Luckily, I have a few years until my plan for global exploration will force me to hit up the scary places. Hopefully by then, we'll have space travel. That way, instead of getting stabbed by a Libyan, I could get shot with an oscillating lunar butt-melting machine on Jupiter. When in Rome, etc.
I will not talk about moving. I will not talk about moving. I will not talk about moving. I have adopted this as my mantra over the past week, but sometimes it all just overflows and I suddenly find myself yelling about how I have no idea what box the remote controls are in. It's one of those activities that are so unpleasant, I have to vent. What else is this bad? I'm sure lots of illegal activities qualify (being assaulted with a weed wacker, a supervillain throwing you into his puma pit), but what other activity that you bring upon yourself? It's like a week-long version of Fear Factor that you have to pay to produce. Remind me never to do this again.
Whenever there's news coverage of a hurricane or some other catastrophic event, we always see the crowds fleeing to safety. However, there are always a couple of folks left, boarding up their windows and screaming at the reporter, "I've been here twenty years and no thundershower is scaring me away!" Before, that always seemed kind of insane to me. I completely see the logic of that now, though. If a monsoon were headed towards Austin this evening, I would be one of those crazy bastards, simply because I refuse to go anywhere after this week. While everyone else was clogging the highways out of town, I'd be rummaging around at HEB for nails and cans of pork and beans so I could fortify the compound. It's not that those people are crazy, they've just had to relocate one too many times.
Okay, enough of that. I agree with everyone else; Batman Begins is awesome. Batman was always my favorite superhero. I think that's because he didn't have any special powers or anything, he was just rich and crazy. Superman, Spiderman, and the X Men couldn't help but be superheros, while I think Batman was just looking to kill some time. He's kind of like Larry Flynt, except that instead of holing himself up in his house and doing lots of drugs, he built himself some body armor and started beating people up in the streets. Let us hope that when I reach billionaire status, I attack my pet projects with similar diligence.
Sweet bearded Jesus, I am so close to being done with the move. 75% of my possessions are in the new place, 20% have been donated to charity/thrown away, and the final 5% will be set on fire and thrown into the forest. Actually, it'd be best for everyone if i didn't have access to fire-making devices for a while. For the past few days, I have been a maniac with a dolly (the moving tool, not a baby doll); on any number of occasions, I was mere minutes from frothing at the mouth. After the tremendous pain in the ass the past few days have represented, I now actively hate all of my possessions. It wouldn't surprise me to wake up one night and find myself stuffing my socks down the garbage disposal out of spite.
The bad part about moving is that the actual moving process isn't that bad. The worst part is trying to locate everything once it's been moved into the new place. I seriously believe I'll be wearing dish towels like loin cloths for the next few weeks until I can find my clothes. Combine that with all of the pent-up frustration about the move, and I predict this snowballs into a Lord of the Flies situation that will culminate in me rolling a boulder onto my neighbor so I can take his shoes.
At the very least, the move was well-timed. This time next week, the only concern I'll have will be finding a Honduran who'll swap me some tequila for my passport. My week-long Latin American expedition leaves from Houston on Sunday, and it couldn't come a day sooner.
There's been some big news lately, as my Jamaican half-brother, Asafa Powell, broke the world record in the 100 meters. Asafa, I am very proud of you. I don't know why you dogged it in Athens after I touted you to all the visitors of this site, but I'll let it slide because of this. If, however, you think being a world record holder allows you to be Team Captain at our family reunion horse shoes game, you better think again. Some things are a little more tricky than just running really, really fast, and I've proved my mettle as captain year after year. So just back off, okay?
But this post isn't about Asafa Powell, it's about the people of the Internet who searched for Asafa Powell. For whatever reason, if you do a Google Images search for Asafa, an image from my site is one of the first results. In the past day or two, people have linked this pic of mine all over the place as the news broke about the 100M record. The picture in question:
Well, if an assload of people are going to post pictures hosted on my site onto their messageboards and blogs, it's completely understandable that I'd do something idiotic. With this in mind, I have replaced the former, very popular, much trafficed pic of Asafa with the following picture of Cheech Marin.
There are more. Ohhh, are there more. And while I have no idea what most of these say, the lesson is the same: if you rely on this site for your multimedia needs, you'll must abide my increasingly moronic whims.
Unnnhhhh, I'm now 1/12th of the way done moving. I have already reached the stage where I look at something, think for a moment, and then declare, "I don't need that crap." So, I look forward to starting over at the new place with nothing but my tooth brush, my birth certificate, and a pair of suspenders.
I helped Laura move some of her stuff last night, and I was pretty surprised by some of the stuff she bought. While I was unpacking last night, I continually had to stop and wonder if she had mistakenly packed up a lot of my grandmother's stuff. "Hey, what's this?" I'd ask, holding some inscrutable piece of kitchenware up. "It's a spoon plate. You set your spoons on there when they're dirty." A few minutes later, I'd ask again with a new object. "That's an oatmeal bowl," she'd tell me. I didn't question it; I just kept unpacking. Luckily, she didn't want a lot of the stuff so we were able to purge quite a bit. Nevertheless, I'm going to be walking on my tiptoes around the kitchen, lest I eat cereal from an oatmeal bowl and get the hell beaten out of me by someone who knows the difference.
And now, more moving.
For the next two weeks, I will be living like an international playboy. We now have the keys to the old place, and I also have keys to the current place because I'm an idiot and I forgot to inform them that I'd be leaving. Cutting to the chase, this means I have two places to live until the end of the month. I am pretty sure this makes me the poorest person in the history of the world to have multiple residences. Granted, neither place is exactly a house in Aspen, but that won't stop me from wearing this situation out.
In fact, I should just keeping a running tally of how many times I say, "Oh, I must have left that at my SECOND HOME!" The other person will probably say, "I don't buy it; your shoes are made of cardboard." But I will not listen. No, I come right back with, "Where do you weekend? I just got a place on the West side of the highway. I keep one on the East side because it's closer to work, but you just can't beat the simple living of the West side. Ahhh, just think of the cherry blossoms this time of year."
I get ahead of myself. One residence is an apartment, the other is a duplex. Add them both together and it probably equals one house. To me, all of that is a footnote. The big move starts tonight, and I will be taking it as slowly as possible. If you go to all of the trouble of acquiring a second house, I should at least enjoy it for a week. I'll see you chums at the yacht club.
Today, for work, Patrick and I went to this programming conference downtown. I spent the entire day concentrating so I don't really have any material here. However, I did come up with one of my finest puns ever at said event.
We had to take the escalator to get down to the base floor of the hotel, and when we got there, I noticed the escalator brand was Schindler. "Hey, look," I said, "it's Schindler's lift!"
Some days, the juices just flow. I won't apologize for it.
Like most other guys would in my situation, I spent my last Saturday night of bachelor living in glorious fashion: I drank heavily and watched Three Amigos. Once that was over, I made 15 unsuccessful calls to the Austin Music Network to get them to show some Tears for Fears videos. If it sounds like a large time, you're right; my sister and her friends came down for Saturday, so I had to show them how to do it up here in Austin. The technique I've perfected over two long years of study can be summarized with, "Sit there. Drink this. Repeat until 4:30 AM." We followed the formula to wonderful results.
It might be noted that this morning has been less than wonderful. Not just because of the byproduct of last night, but because I am starting to clean things up around here and get stuff packed. I think the entire apartment, with the exception of the carpet, is in pretty good shape now. When it's time for my move-out inspection, the inspectors will take one look at the joint and declare, "Well no wonder the toilet bowl gleams; he apparently did most of his business on the living room floor." That is why my ideal living situation would be the vacuum of space. If I spilled a drink then, it'd end up destroying the hull of some Martian spacecraft, not messing up my floor.
I have a pattern of messing up floors that extends far past my time in Austin, I should note. When I was living in San Antonio, I once dropped an entire pizza, topping side down, on the carpet in my bedroom. Talk about a reversal of fortunes. I went to all the trouble of acquiring a pizza, and before I could get any of it in my mouth, I manage to ruin it and sully my living space in the span of half a second. It was kind of like some guy coming up to me with a $20 bill, and in the process of handing it to me, the bill burst into flames and jumped down my pants. (I'm just trying to give you a sense of perspective here. When I say that gravity is a harsh mistress to CWMP, I mean it. I have examples; there is a history here.) And it is for all of these reasons that I shall not be allowed to enter the new house. If anyone cares to visit, I'll be in the tent in the backyard. It'll just be just me, the local racoons, and a whole lot of squishy ground.
Hey, it's another fake post! I had to work like one million hours today so you'll get nothing and like it.
Okay, not quite nothing. I was thinking the other day what a great idea it'd be if car manufacturers could replace their usual seats with seats made of gingerbread. It smells good, it's sturdy, and it takes a long time to go rotten. I see no downside. Well, if you went that route, starving people could break into your car and eat all of your furniture. I don't know which I'd prefer: for someone to break into my car and steal my CDs, or for someone to break into my car and eat all the furniture. It wouldn't make for much of a ride if you had to squat all of the while to the gingerbread furniture store. That's why I'd poison one seat at random. Not lethal amounts, just enough for a heck of a bellyache. Eat my gingerbread car once, shame on you. Eat it twice, shame on the poison manufacturers.
My computer is rebooting every 45 seconds, so I'll keep this brief.
Pick a favorite and discuss.
Ye Gods, I had a very busy day of work today and so my bag of magic is practically used up. However, it has come to my attention that in the very near future, William Eduardo Lybrand (aka Willly Brand) is making a move from San Antonio to Beverly Hills, CA. I told him, "Man, I know you like Eddie Murphy movies, but there's no reason to base your life on one. I mean, Beverly Hills Coder? That sounds neither plausible nor amusing." His response? "Shut up, and call me Axel." (side note: isn't it strange how many pop culture icons of the 80s where named Axel? Okay, there were only two of them (Rose and Foley), but I bet there are a lot more Marvs in the USA and I don't remember any of them capturing the public's eye. Maybe Beverly Hills Cop III would've been more amusing if the main character had been Marv Foley.)
Anyway, one might think that his departure would crush my spirits, but it's the exact opposite. See, I never liked him much to begin with. Also, if he goes out to the LA-region, I now have a place to stay when I come to try out for Jeopardy. You better think again if you assume I'm joking about that last part. I'm going to try out for Jeopardy, I'm going to get on the show, and I'm going to win. I've always wanted to, and now that I can, I will. You better be glad you lost already, Ken Jennings.
The only thing that's stopped me in the past was the cost of travelling out there. I'd have to pay for a flight, a hotel, and food. However, if Will is stationed out there, I only have to pay for a flight, food, and Will's whores, which should save a pretty penny. (If he thinks I'm buying whores that are fancy enough to offset the cost of a room in Beverly Hills, he also better think again.) I haven't run any of this by him and I am also nearly out of vacation days already this year. Will either of these stop me? No. My destiny is well within my grasp, and grasp it I shall. In only a matter of months, I'll be saying, "What is tetanus, Alex?" to the actual Alex Trebeck, as opposed to the pinata version of him I have in my bathroom. More details to follow.
Okay, I feel like I need to summarize my trip to Lubbock a little bit. I visited to witness the wedding of my cousin Jessica. Even though Jessica is almost 4 years younger than I, it's always been apparent that she is way, way more mature. I never felt I had to get defensive about it, though, until I saw her walking down the aisle on Saturday. I expected the heads of the entire family to swivel in my direction, and then nod sadly all at once. It was all I could do not to shout out, "I pay my own car insurance now!" or "My cat is current with all her immunizations!" It was a nice wedding, and the groom picked up quite a catch, although I would definitely be concerned about his new wife's gene pool.
Actually, I had a very valid reason for not asserting/embarrassing myself at the wedding over the weekend. In the very, very near future, I will be sharing a place with a real, live woman. She may not speak English, but I think I'm handy enough with my imperative verbs in Korean to communicate with her. I kid, I kid; I only wish she didn't speak English.
In about a week and a half, Laura and I are joining up to assault the common decency of North Austin. The perks for me evident: I get to live with a fragrant and vivacious lady who's way less squalor-tolerant than I am. What does she get in return? Well, I'm not sure; I can only assume she's a big X Box fan. In any event, it is an intimidating step towards adulthood. In the past, I managed to annoy the crap out of women while we resided in separate residences, so sharing the same is bound to result in a gruesome murder suicide.
And maybe I shouldn't be sharing this observation here, but I've discovered a truly disturbing mathematical pattern in the number of people who live in my house. In 2003, it was just me. In 2004, occupancy doubled when I got Octopussy. In 2005, we're doubling again with Laura and her dog. If that number grows to 8 in 2006, it better be because someone chopped up a star fish and threw it into the garage. Look forward to much, much more freaking out in the next week and a half.
We followed the highway at low speed for another 10 miles until we saw the shimmering city of Winny off in the distance. While I'm not a well traveled man, I'm familiar with some of the more beautiful sights in the world. Paris at night. The Pyramids at Giza. Mount Kilimanjaro. However, none of these can compare to the sheer majesty of Winny. McDonalds AND an Exxon AND a Church's Chicken?! No no, this must be a dream and I don't want to wake up!
I pulled into the gas station and asked the cashier there about a tire shop. She was incredibly helpful and not only told me of an open place, but gave me incredibly precise directions to the tire joint. For this, I am convinced that woman deserves to be mayor of Winny. It's pretty close by, and Nick and I find the tire place with no problems at all. And it's exactly at this point that everything goes to crap.
We pull into the tire joint, and my first thought is, "Hmm, it's a little sketchy, but I'll take what I can get it." It's basically a really big shed, and standing out front is a collection of East Texas characters. Since East Texas characters are usually colorful and zany, I wasn't worried about these individuals. Then, I get out of the car and drastically had to revise my opinion.
I get out of the car, and immediately this little guy runs right up to me and yells, "Hey Mister, do you know a way I can make $20 right now to keep from going to jail?"
"Well, I'm sure if you can fix the tire, we can work something out," I said.
"I don't work here!" he screamed. "And I can't go back to that jail house again! Twenty dollars!"
At this point, I began to look around for hidden cameras. "Please God, let this be one of those Punk'd deals," I prayed. If so, the joke would go on for a little while longer.
The proprietor of the shop seemed like a good guy and a hard worker, but he had no problem with this deranged homunculus hounding me all over the premises. Since there was a bit of a line in front of me, I plunked down in the back of the truck and tried to look immersed in my thoughts. I will now allow you to guess how successful this was.
Maybe three seconds after I sit down, Twitchy McSqueaks (that's what I'll call him) sat down right beside me and went off on a tangent.
"You know they got nude beaches here?" he said. "Not as good as in California. You can see anything you want there, and you don't even have to pay. When you get your tired patched up, you and me can go to that nude beach and look at the women."
Not only was he smooth, but he was a mindreader. As soon as I saw that guy, I thought to myself, "He and I must go ho chasin'."
Somewhere in the midst of all of this, Nick gets up and says he's going to get a beer at the convenience store across the street.
"Are you sure?" I asked. "I've got some warm Sprite in the car here. You could drink that and you wouldn't have to leave me alone."
Before I could even get the words out, he was sprinting across the intersection, leaving me all alone with the locals.
Another one, a huge one, joined me and Twitchy McSqueaks. Huge doesn't do this man justice. He was maybe my height, but he was easily a solid 400 lbs. He looked at the cargo in the back of the truck, which consisted only of two backpacks.
"Hey, I could use one of these," he declared, as he lifted my backpack out of the truck. Seeing the sheer panic on my face, he set it back down and commenced to titter monstrously.
I've tried as hard as possible to block out my remaining time at that establishment. It was me, Twitchy McSqueaks, and Two Ton Earl, going back and forth like a regular Algonquin Round Table.
"Where do you live?"
"Boston? That's a hell of a drive!"
"I'll be rolling through Austin there in a few weeks, maybe I'll stop in!"
".... Super. But I'm out of town for work a lot, so I almost definitely won't be there."
"Hey, how about you get me a job while I'm there? I gotta get that $20. You can advance me my first paycheck."
Just back and forth, and while it only lasted for a few minutes, it drained the very life from my bones. Nick finally made it back with his beer, only to take a sip and conclude, "Uggh." The beer was so unwelcome, he gave it immediately to Twitchy McSqueaks.
"What?! You give me this and the police are right there," he screamed. Sure enough, the police were driving right by us at the time. "You did that on purpose! I'm not going back to that jail house!"
Finally, FINALLY, the owner of the shop took control of the situation and got the tire put on there. Sensing what I'd already been through, he gave me a good tire at a cheap price. While that was appreciated, I gladly would've maxed out all credit cards then to get out of that place and back onto the road.
The whole tire episode probably took 2 hours total, from when it erupted to when it got replaced. Once we were back on the road, we still had a good four hours. And let me tell you, those four hours weren't pleasant. We were two cranky dudes. Not at each other, but at the Yokohama tire company. At the town of Winny. At Twitchy McSqueaks. At Two Ton Earl. But mostly at Big Al, because we knew the only way we'd get to see him again was to make that drive one more time.
When I last left off, my tire had exploded midway on the trip from New Orleans to Austin. My friend Nick and I were stuck on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere, somewhere between Beaumont and Houston.
A flat tire is no big deal, particularly not to a crafty bloke like myself. You see, for a mere fee of $30 a year (or something like that), I can mess up my car as much as I want and then call some knowledgable person to come out and fix it for free. This is good for two reasons. First, my car is old and crappy. Second, I have no idea how to fix a car even if it's not old and crappy. Thinking quickly, I called the triple A hotline and told them about the drama; in response, they said someone would be out to help us in 30 minutes. Thirty minutes is a little while, and two virile young men like us could've fixed it quicker than that. However, after a night of hard drinking down in the bayou, I was more than content to let one of the locals nasty himself up on my ancient machinery (if you get my drift).
While we waited, we sat in the back of my truck and watched the cars zoom by disturbingly close to the vehicle. We sat there for a while, convincing ourselves we were safe on the side of the highway and trying not to empty our bladders at the sight of the oncoming traffic, when Triple A called me back.
"We're sorry, Mr. Powell, but the tower won't there for another hour and a half."
"What? Would it expedite things if I told you I know Big Al?" I said.
"Only if you could get us a pair of underwear," they said.
There was no point in arguing. We could either sit there for another 90 minutes, or we could take this bull by the horns and get back on the road.
I hate changing tires. It is a filthy, boring, stupid procedure. As such, I delayed the start as long as possible. First, I moved down the road to the exit, where the chances of death were 10% less. Then I took all of the tools out of my truck, saying we'd be prepared in case the tower got there early. After a few minutes, I said we could take off the lugnuts, just to make the guy's job really easily. A little bit later, I found myself under my car, trying to lower the spare time. "Screw it, let's just do this thing," I declared. I let Nick handle the harder parts, while I was in charge of accidentally rolling the busted tire down a hill onto the access road and then cursing mightily when I had to carry it back up.
We were five minutes from the conclusion when the stupid tower got there. He was an hour ahead of schedule.
"You're not supposed to be here," I said, with perhaps a tad more lunacy than was necessary.
"Isn't that a good thing?" he asked.
"No! Look at my hands! Screwing around with that spare tire has destroyed my cuticles!" I really have no idea what I was saying, I was just trying to make the tow guy cry for making me do all the work myself.
Before he pulled away, I had one question for him. "Hey, do you know where we could get a tire around here?"
"Jeez, on a Sunday? Hmmm... There's a town maybe 10 miles down the road called Winny, they MAY have a tire place there but I wouldn't count on it."
Maybe two minutes after he left, a highway patrolman stops behind us.
"Looks like you boys got the situation well in hand here," he told me.
"You better believe it," I said, although my appearance suggested I'd just gone 15 rounds with some sort of fire-spewing tire beast.
"You know it's a good thing you boys moved down to the exit. We had a couple of folks die a few weeks back when they tried to change their tire back there."
It took some will power there to keep from launching 1000 simultaneous f-bombs. With all the restraint I could muster, I think I said something like, "Yikes."
Anyway, I asked him about a place to get a tire in these parts and he also said that Winny may be worth a shot. As he said that, Nick was just finishing up with the spare. "Allrighty, let's kick it to Winny," I said. "With a name like that, they've got to have something." Uhhh, right.
Ack! Problems with my computater last night kept me from posting Op GE part III. Wait until tonight! Or come to work and barricade yourself in my office while I spin the yarn. Either one will work.