Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Abridged Print Edition for 01/28/11

Well, not a single team I rooted for managed to make the big game. Here comes another one I don’t care about…

Before I forget- happy birthday Jeff. (You know, since I completely whiffed on Drew and John last week)…

The outdoor kitties got “fixed” last week. They spent four nights inside, cooped up in the spare room, recovering. By Friday, I figured they were okay to roam the house. They spent the afternoon making Cat nuts- a lot of growling and hissing involved (on Cat’s part, anyway- Tux and Grace seemed decidedly non-plussed by her).
I finally let them outside Saturday morning. They disappeared for the day and showed up at suppertime. I let them in to eat before Fred Flinstone-ing them back out. How two cats who are so small make so much noise is beyond me, but Shelby had to sleep.
I think that’s going to be the pattern. I thought about letting them stay in Sunday night, but Cat’s growling right next to my head as I was tried to get to sleep sealed that deal. They will be occasionally indoor, but mostly outdoor, cats. Who won’t be surprising us with itty-bitties of their own…

My dad’s dad died when I was six. I think. That was in 1974. I vaguely remember visiting him a year or two prior to that. He lived- with his second wife (Mary Laura)- in a high-rise retirement building in Oakland. Other than some vague memories of a family camping trip to the Okeefenokee when I was (maybe) four (I had to be that young, at least, because my sister moved to Atlanta to go to school when I was five- and she went with us), that trip to California is as far back as I can stretch my memory.
Beyond that: I got hit by a car once (or, more accurately, I hit the car- and got away with nothing more than a scratch); there was the rather unfortunate incident involving hot dogs, cabbage, a trip to the movies and the very last time my mother ever made me clean my plate; the time I mistakenly grabbed hold of a piece of rebar that had been sitting in a fire (my hand was swollen to Mickey Mouse-ian proportions for a week); chapel every Friday morning; my Mom falling asleep in a packed theater during the first showing of “Star Wars” in Savannah; watching baseball on WTCG (what we now know- here in Atlanta, anyway- as “Peachtree TV”) after my grandmother would hit the sack for the night during the summers I’d spend with her at her home in Stone Mountain. That gets me up to about 10 or so.
I remember thinking I was all kinds of cool when my Uncle Doug took me to school in his Porsche (yeah- it was a 914, but it was still a Porsche). When I was 11, they got me out of class at Juliette Lowe (sixth grade) to tell me I was an uncle (hey, back then it was a big deal). There was the embarrassing incident in seventh grade where my lunch didn’t agree with me and came back up all over the hallway at school.
I remember getting my driver’s license, Jeffrey and I “borrowing” his mom’s Thunderbird to cruise and hang on Tybee Island, going to the pizza joint on Victory Drive after football games on Friday nights (Todd’s brother John and I were able to buy beer despite being a bit too young), taking advantage of the camper aspects (curtains and a ’fridge) of my VW van to cut classes (I know, shame on me), going to the prom for all of 20 minutes or so, and graduation (I played tennis that morning and wore the shorts and sneakers I’d had on all day to the ceremony- yes, there’s something wrong with me- also I was intoxicated).
I met Jeffrey and his family after they moved to town when I was 15. I met Craig the next year and Julie the year after that. The only person I’ve been friends with longer is Lynda- who I met when I was in seventh grade, making me- what? 13 at the time? (I have reconnected with a couple of friends from way back in elementary school via Facebook, but we hadn’t stayed in touch until recently, so I can‘t really count that).
I moved to Waycross for six months or so when I was 20, thinking I’d make a career as a radio personality (I was wrong). (I changed careers quite a few times in my early 20s, and one final time- at least, I hope so, I’m too old of a dog to learn new tricks- before I hit 30.) I moved back to Savannah and started college, thinking I might work in broadcasting in some other capacity (wrong again). That same year, one of my dearest friends lost her life to breast cancer. (It seems as I get older the events seem to come more rapid fire. That doesn’t bother me. What does is that far too many of those events involve loss.) 
The early part of my 20s I spent drinking far too much beer and whiskey and smoking far too many cigarettes- to the point I tried to give up both when I was 24. My father passed away in 1993, five days shy of my 25th birthday. He was 66. Alcohol and tobacco became my companions again.
My dad’s mother- the only grandparent I’d ever known, really- outlived him by five years. She died just a few hours shy of her 103rd birthday in 1998.
Nine years ago, my sister in law passed away (the in-law part never mattered a whole lot- she was as much my sister as Judy is). Two years later, and for not entirely unrelated reasons, I left Savannah and landed in Atlanta. Since then, my aunts Helen, Cybl and Imyl have passed away- as did my Uncle Robert.
My sister, brother and I had to make the tough decision to put our mother in a nursing home due to her having Alzheimer’s. It often feels (to me, anyway) as if she’s passed, too- because so much of who she was has been stolen. (I don’t see her as much as I should, but when I do manage to make it to Savannah, I try to remind myself that Alzheimer’s generally sucks a lot more for the families than it does the victims.)
Two years ago came the sudden passing of my “other” mom- and dear friend- Barbara. Don’t get me wrong- not everything has sucked as I’ve aged, and there’s plenty of other stuff that’s happened- good, bad, and in-between. I managed to get through three years of college (although I did decide I didn’t want to be in broadcasting or teach, so what was the point of finishing an English degree?). Charles, Craig, Laura, Todd and I had a crazy idea about having a band that I think was pretty cool while it lasted (though I insist to this day it sounds funnier when I say that Charles threw keys plural at me). I’ve made a number of great friends, and picked up an interesting side career hosting karaoke.
I met Shelby, twice- and the second time around she stuck with me. My niece and nephew both got married and had children of their own- officially making me a great uncle (something they’d have surely told you I was long before that- if they know what’s good for them).
At some point in 2001, I sent Alison and Steve the first in the series of columns that would become Bean Spouts. Alison had asked me to contribute some content to their new endeavor and I thought, “why not?” It started off as a sports column. Every once in a while, I’d toss in an opinion or two.
Over the course of the past decade, the format’s evolved (or devolved- depending on your view). Sports is often an afterthought. Most of the column’s a hodge-podge of whatever happens to pop into my head over the space of a week. One big reason for this change is that it’s not really work to me- it’s more like therapy.
Which brings me to this- thank you. To those of you who take the time to comment (be it praise or criticism, whether you think I’m nuts or not), thanks. Mostly, though, thank you to all of you who take a few minutes out of your busy schedules to read through my not-always-completely-rational ramblings. I appreciate more than you know your help in getting through the past decade.
Here’s hoping I can entertain you a bit for another ten years.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My own little winter wonderland.

I- for one- am over all the commentary/Facebook posts/whatever about everyone in Atlanta being unprepared/ill-equipped/incompetent/etc. when it comes to winter weather. I know, I should probably let it slide, but I feel like it needs to be said: Fuck them.
Example: One of the “demotivational” pictures of some people pushing a car through ice/snow, with a caption reading “Atlanta. Population: 4,717,397 - Snow plows: 10. You do the math.”
Stop. I’m dying here.
Atlanta (and southern cities in general) are an easy target, though. I wonder if the rapier like wit behind that little gem happened to notice the talk of NYC's shut down? How many fucking plows do they have in the Big Apple? Do we need to "do the math" on that one?
Just how many plows does this genius think this city of 4,717,397 (which, by the way, isn't accurate to start with) need, considering we average something like 2.5" snow a fucking year?
Let me again say: Fuck them.
Here in Atlanta, probably better than half the goddamned city population claims to not be "from here". How many of them, then, are from places where they “know how to drive in these conditions”? Or, does some magical "Unable to Cope Fairy" wave its little wand and cause them to lose their ice driving powers when they sign their lease/mortgage/whatever?
Well, there’s always chains- that’s the only thing that actually helps for driving on ice anyway. Wait. What? You say don't have chains for your tires any more? Why not? Because you live in Atlanta? And we average 2.5" snowfall a year? What the fuck is wrong with you? Shouldn't the remote fucking possibility that we'll get an ice storm make it worth the $250 and up they cost? Do the math, you asshole!
Look- people in Atlanta have a hard time operating their vehicles in the best of conditions, thanks to overcrowded, ill maintained roads and horrible drivers. (Seriously, S.O.P. in the metro area seems to be slam the gas pedal to the floor as long as possible, then stomp brake pedal at last possible instant. That, and tailgate as much as possible. But I know that- and take steps to prepare for it.) Toss in bad weather, and it really is best just to stay home- so I have zero sympathy for people whining about being “stuck” somewhere.
Unless they’re getting stuck wasn’t their own fault- like the people who are sitting at the Greyhound station in downtown Atlanta. I’m pretty sure none of them realized they were going to get stuck. I actually wonder what the hell’s wrong with the Greyhound people- routing buses through Atlanta during an ice storm?
That said, my response to the woman who was interviewed by one of the local TV stations, whining about “somebody should do something” because she was stuck at the bus station and didn’t have any food or money and wanted the government to bail her out is: Fuck you, too.
Since when is it the government's fucking problem that you were too stupid to bring money on your trip (even a bus trip) for food (or whatever)? And why do people seem to think it's my tax dollar’s fucking responsibility to give out food, shelter, etc. every fucking time some minor inconvenience pops up? And- trust me- this is a minor inconvenience. (Think it’s not? It was a year ago yesterday that most of Haiti was reduced to rubble by an earthquake. That’s a fucking emergency- the ice in the WalMart parking lot is not, you goddamned hillbilly.)
And I've been seeing story after story featuring people complaining they "have no food!" or the "roads are closed!" and "why isn't the government doing anything?" and on and on.
You know whose fucking problem your not having food is? Yours, you goddamned moron! And the government did do something- the National Weather Service has been warning people in Atlanta since last fucking week that there was a winter storm coming.
If you had your head shoved so far up your fucking ass that you couldn’t be bothered to stock up on food, water, beer, or whatever else you feel is a necessity how the fuck is it the government's problem/fault, and why the fuck do you think tax dollars should be wasted on rescuing/feeding/comforting your ignorant ass?
And who do you think runs those trucks that are out on the big three? The state government is still doing something, as are the city of Atlanta and most of the counties: They've been working steadily since Sunday night to try to get the roads clear.
The fact that it's was cloudy until Wednesday morning and all of 34 degrees at the warmest since the snow fell Sunday night (with a forecast high of 30 here in Norcross Thursday) means that most everything that does melt then refreezes- just for some extra fun. Let me guess, though- that’s somehow the government's fault, too- and George Bush was probably behind it (or- Barack Obama  if you’re of that slant.)
I’m thinking, if the people too stupid to heed a warning die off, there'd be a lot less pressure on government spending and such. Call me Swift- 'cause that's a modest proposal I can get behind.
But go ahead and joke. Go ahead and have your laughs at Atlanta’s (or whatever southern city suffers next) expense for being unprepared/ill-equipped/incompetent/whatever when it comes to winter weather. Just know I’m not interested.
My response? Fuck you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Abridged Print Edition for 01/13/11

Late last week, the weather forecasters in town managed to work themselves into a tizzy, prognosticating another “storm of the century” for us in Atlanta (‘cause the light dusting of snow we had at Christmas didn’t measure up, or manage to shut down the city). Seriously- the forecasters here get as worked up about winter weather as a certain Savannah forecaster does when there’s a freaking tropical system anywhere in the northern hemisphere. (I'm serious- the guy practically creams his pants whenever a "tropical wave" pops up anywhere between Africa and Mexico.)
I figured it was the standard bloviation, with very little basis in fact. I kept that assumption all the way to 9:15 or so Sunday night, when it finally did begin to snow. “Big deal,” I thought. “I’m sure it won’t be more than a light dusting.”
Forty-five minutes later, when “Desperate Housewives” (what of it?) was over, there was about four inches of the stuff on the deck (where Tuxie was plowing through it, trying to “get” the flakes that had the nerve to fall in front of her). I headed to bed to read my new Stephen King book.
By the time I rousted myself Monday morning to head to work, holy shit. There looked to be about six inches of the stuff outside. The street outside (along with everything else- including the Elefant) was covered in white. On the TV, the news freaks were in near ecstasy (Shelby’d fallen asleep with the news on), warning everyone to “stay off the roads! Extreme danger! The city is shut down! Shit your pants!”
I’ve heard/read plenty of comments from more winter-weather experienced folks about how this isn’t really a snow storm, and how six inches of snow (or whatever) isn’t anything and blah, blah, blah. Whatever. To those people I say- it’s Georgia. Not Minne-freaking-sota. We aren’t used to this shit. We don’t have snowplows (not very many of them, anyway)- and the local municipalities certainly don’t have the equipment needed to keep all the roads clear. (And, again- it's not my driving I'm worried about- it's the dumbasses who are driving along, texting.)
So here I sit on Tuesday, watching the Monsterquest episode about the Abominable Snowman (fitting, no?) and wincing after Shelby grumbled at me for going out and driving around a bit. I wanted to get pictures, danggit! After all, it’s the storm of the century…

The college football season is over (finally) and (for the fifth straight year) the supposed national championship team comes from the SEC. So much for their dominance waning, huh?
Well, seeing as the league wrapped up their bowl season with a 5-5 record, that rumor of a slide might have some ring of truth to it. (The “mediocre” Mountain West? 4-1.) Then again- the SEC is 7-0 in the “title game”.
Who cares that Auburn will be giving up the title in five years, when the NCAA decides Cam Newton actually did have knowledge of his dad’s “pay for play” scheme (and took the money).
As ever, I remain firmly convinced a playoff system is the way to go. Forty something bowls. Geez…

Did you see where more than 26,000 people won $150 each last week in the Mega Millions drawing after playing the numbers Hugo played to win the lottery on “Lost“?
Four of the winning numbers were the character’s picks: Hugo’s numbers were 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42, the Mega Millions numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25, 47 and 42.
And that’s about the only thing that’s EVER made sense in relation to that show. I mean, after watching the first season, I figured out they were dead. I just never knew what the fuck else was going on…

Hey- "who 'dat done lost to a team that shouldn't have even made the playoffs?" Jump off the bandwagon now, Saints’ fans…

The Falcons play host to the Packers Saturday night in the prime time match up.
Remember back before we knew just how much of a punk Michael Vick was? When a supposedly overmatched Falcons team went to a frigid Lambeau Field to be the Packers’ sacrificial lambs as Green Bay marched to another Super Bowl? The Falcons shocked everyone by winning that game. Let’s hope we don’t see a reversal of fortunes Saturday night.
The NFC’s road to the Super Bowl runs through the Georgia Dome, so here’s hoping the Falcons don’t run into a dead end…

Didn’t watch- but I heard it was awesome when the fans turned on Vick…

Tuxie is (usually) the “smarter” of the outdoor cats. Yet there she was Sunday night, out on the deck, chasing snowflakes into the building drifts. Grace (the dumb one) was at least out of the weather somewhere (or, at least, not romping through the snow right in front of us).
Neither of them seems smart enough to stay in the little shelter I built for them. The one that’s lined with blankets and towels, and even has a heating pad running in it for them to snuggle in and stay warm. Instead, they seem to prefer staying in the plastic storage bin on the deck. Sure, it has blankets and such, but it’s got a huge opening, the blankets get wet, and there’s no heat.
If Grace had just refrained from biting my nose (and peeing on me) their first night, they might still be inside. They’d be just as dumb- I have no doubt- but they’d be warm. And (I assume) dry…

Ms. Molly said Monday she was watching as the City of Piedmont (Alabama) used a tractor to try and plow the street in front of her house, which managed to make large piles of snow in front of her driveway- and all it really accomplished was uncovering the sheet of ice underneath the snow.
But hey, at least they tried. The only way our street will get cleared is from people driving on it- and rednecks towing people on sleds behind their trucks.
Guess I’ll see what’s on TV now.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Abridged Print Edition for 01/07/11

I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas break.
Unlike Savannah- where drinking is pretty much what you do in your spare time (and particularly to take the edge off having spent Christmas morning with your family)- most bars in Norcross were closed on Christmas day. At least, the one where I work was- which was fine with me. I was a happy camper to have a weekend off (my third one this year? Good grief! What the heck is wrong with me?).
I’d also taken off work from Tuesday afternoon until last Monday to make a rapid fire trip to Savannah to see my mom, sister, nieces and nephews and friends who were able to make it to dinner (seriously, though, I told everyone- I even emphasized it in a separate e-mail- to bring cash so they wouldn’t have to split checks. I’m pretty sure it would’ve made the service better, at the very least)…

Did you get everything you wanted? I did. Actually, I didn’t. I didn’t really want for anything, but I got lots of neat stuff- including more toys. (Seriously, I have got to learn woodworking. We need shelves for all my nick nacks!)

Okay, one thing I wanted that I didn’t get was for the Falcons to beat the ever-loving bejeebers out of the Saints. That was the first freaking Monday night game I’ve watched in probably 15 years- and that was the best effort they could come up with?

You know what else is sad? A 7-9 team making the freaking playoffs. Kind of like a 6-6 team going to a bowl game. And losing (yes, I’m talking to you, Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs)…

Still, the NFC’s road to the Super Bowl runs through Atlanta- the first time they’ve had home field advantage through the playoffs since what? 1980? Remember what happened that time? That’s right- they lost in the first freaking game- to Dallas…

So, I stop Monday morning to get some breakfast at the greasy spoon around the corner from work. Eggs, bacon and a biscuit for $3.24. A good deal. I treat myself at least once a week (when I actually have cash). I didn’t have any dollar bills in my pocket, so I handed the girl at the counter a five, along with a quarter.
I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I tell you the girl stared at her hand for fully 30 seconds, trying to puzzle out what I’d just done.
Let me just say this- if you’re too simple for simple math (especially when the register will do the math for you), you shouldn’t be anywhere near a freaking cash register.
After 30 seconds, I had to tell her how much change to give me. It’s a good thing, too. Lord knows how long I’d have stood there if I hadn’t.
It’s a good thing for her I’m honest…

Make any resolutions? Me neither. I mean, I could, but I won’t. I have things I’d like to accomplish, but I don’t need to embellish them just because I’m writing a different date on checks now.
You know, I only write one check a month. Hmm. Weird. Everything else, I pay via online banking. The other check I’d write each month, Shelby takes care of. All hail the laziness of me!