Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Little Town Tuesday: When a Man's Home Really Is His Castle

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This castle is located in the heart of My Little Town.

What makes it so interesting?

This is the next-door-neighbor to the left.

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And this is the next-door-neighbor to the right.

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The owners, who live in the middlest of middle America, dreamed of owning a castle. And so they began converting their unassuming ranch home into a citadel. Over time, they covered the exterior of their house with stone, added on a turret here and there and replaced their front door with something that looks a lot like a portcullis.

All they're missing is the moat.

It makes me think of that poem by E.A. Robinson:

Miniver Cheevy

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam's neighbors.

Minever mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.

Minever loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediƦval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.

But they went after their dream and made it happen.

How cool is that?

(PS - I know it's not Tuesday. I hit the Publish button by mistake and decided to just leave it. Have a great week!)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Old Joke #44

One day an Irishman, who had been stranded on a deserted island for over 10 years, saw a speck on the horizon.

He thought to himself, "It's certainly not a ship"

As the speck got closer and closer, he began to rule out even the possibilities of a small boat or a raft. Suddenly there strode from the surf a figure clad in a black wet suit. Putting aside the scuba tanks and mask and zipping down the top of the wet suit stood a drop-dead gorgeous blonde!

She walked up to the stunned Irishman and said to him, "Tell me, how long has it been since you've had a good cigar?"

"Ten years," replied the amazed Irishman.

With that, she reached over and unzipped a waterproof pocket on the left sleeve of her wet suit and pulled out a fresh package of cigars and a lighter.

He took a cigar, slowly lit it, and took a long drag. "Faith and begorrah," said the castaway, Ahh "that is so good! I'd almost forgotten how great a smoke can be!"

"And how long has it been since you've had a drop of good Bushmill's Irish Whiskey?" asked the blonde.

Trembling, the castaway replied, "Ten years."

Hearing that, the blonde reached over to her right sleeve, unzipped a pocket there and removed a flask and handed it to him.

He opened the flask and took a long drink. "Tis nectar of the gods!" shouted the Irishman." 'Tis truly fantastic!!!"

At this point the gorgeous blonde started to slowly unzip the long front of her wet suit, right down the middle. She looked at the trembling man and asked, "And how long has it been since you played around?"

With tears in his eyes, the Irishman fell to his knees and sobbed, "By all the saints! Don't tell me that you've got golf clubs in there too!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

10,000 Hours

If you've read Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, then you already know that 10,000 hours is the amount of time it takes to become an expert at something.

To prove his point, he cites The Beatles, who for a period of time played 7 nights a week, 8 hours a night, in Hamburg, Germany, and who, consequently, were master musicians by their mid-twenties.

He also talks about Bill Gates, who started programming computers when he was in the 8th grade. In high school, he would sneak out of his house at night to spend the wee hours writing code during available timeshare hours at the University of Washington. All of this focus meant that by the time he reached his early twenties, he had mastered computer programming.

In a regular day-job, it takes 5 years to amass 10,000 hours. As a former manager, I can tell you that, in looking at a resume, that's a pretty solid cutoff for feeling like you're hiring an experienced person who's not going to need a lot of hand-holding to get his job done. Of course, you interview to make sure all the soft skills are there, and that the person is not a psycho, or a giant liar who made up everything on his resume (it happens) but on a totally technical basis, 5 years is a solid experience curve.

What does that mean, though, for activities outside the workplace?

I've been married, off and on, for 37 years and during that time I've cooked dinner an average of 5 times a week. Assuming I spend one hour per meal, that amounts to 1850 hours. So it's just as I suspected: I am unlikely to live long enough to become a good cook.

(So why, I would argue, should I expend any more effort on a goal I'll never reach?)

On the other hand, since 2001, when I started writing seriously, I've put in between 10 and 20 hours a week writing. Taking 15 hours/week as a conservative estimate, that means I've accumulated approximately 7000 hours.

3000 to go.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Old Joke #43

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a grave-side service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Kentucky back-country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost; and being a typical man I didn't stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt bad and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man. And as I played "Amazing Grace" the workers began to weep.

They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

As I was opening the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been puttin’ in septic tanks for over twenty years."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Little Town Tuesday: Why, Lord, why?

This may come as a surprise, but I live just up the road from the 65-foot statue of Jesus that made national news when it was struck by lightning on Monday night.

Before the fire, it looked like this:

After the fire, like this:

It's impossible to know what was in the mind of God when this happened, and hard not to wonder why He struck this statue of His Son instead of the Hustler store that lay just across the highway.

Was it because there is something deeply wrong inside the Solid Rock Church, as one congregation member stated when interviewed on local television?

Was it because God already warned us not to build graven images?

Or maybe God, like me, just found the statue to be offensively ugly, like one of those statues you find at county fairs that are carved out of butter, as Heywood Brown said.

Perhaps the statue was gay. That's always a valid cause for geographically specific natural disasters.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was because the metal framework has lightning rods for arms.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Old Enough to Fart Dust

So the other day, I receive this little gem in the mail:

To which, all I can say is, I'm not dead yet!

Monday, June 7, 2010


No, I'm not afraid of everything. (That's pantOphobia.)

I'm just afraid of underpants. (If you'd like to read about the traumas that made me lingerie-phobic, you can read my three-post series here, here, and here. Or, you can just accept that I'm weird that way and move on.)

So now the season of horror has rolled around once again: it's time to buy new drawers.


After my humiliating experience at Victoria's Secret a few years back (with Old Dog, who's every bit as pantiphobic as I am lurking in outside the store, laughing his ass off) I decided to purchase my undies online. Because however unsafe the internet may be, at least online no one hauls your underpants into your heinie.

(Have you ever wondered what the phrase 'got your ass in a sling' means? I have first person experience with this.)

After spending last week steeling myself for the ordeal, I went out to the VS website this morning, determined to get it over with, only to run into a series of obstacles that left me considering a future as a commando.

Obstacle #1

A keyword search for "granny panties" yielded 0 results. Ditto for "anything that covers all of my ass instead of just a narrow swathe of cheek-meat."

Obstacle #2

A category search under "Cotton" brought back high-leg briefs (as close to granny panties as Vicky purveys, despite having stolen her name from the most prudish monarch in English history (or probably ANY history)) but nothing in white. Only colors so exotic they'd show through any fabric less substantial than 20 oz. denim.

And since I'm not lumberjack by trade, I don't wear armored jeans.

Obstacle #3

After still another search, I finally located white, cotton, cover-your-entire-ass drawers and clicked my purchase--to the tune of $5 a pair! I realize that my concealing my tush now requires a little more fabric than it once did, but it's not like Vicky had to source them from Omar-the-Tentmaker.

On the upside, I've got that nightmare out of the way for another year.

(Warning: Do NOT go out to the website listed on the above picture. Despite their hilarious logo, it appeared to be a porno site. And I don't EVEN want to know what kind of sickos get off on looking at old ladies' lingerie.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


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