Monday, March 29, 2010

Voyage of the Sea-Worm: A semi-academic analysis of the modern-day cave-drawings and decorations discovered in my basement (Daily Photo 3.28.10)

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Cleaned up my basement a little. There's a tiny, disused room down there, about maybe 5 feet wide and 10 feet long, what used to be the coal-storage room back when my house was much older. We store dog food in it now.

Before we owned this house, an old lady lived here. She had a son who must've used this room to smoke pot in, because it was left in such a state of teenage-boy-weed-and-hormone-and-ignorance-fueled-weirdness that we've left it untouched -- like a shrine to irony, too hilarious to take down. It's been barely touched for five years, until now. (I finally bothered to replace a burnt-out light bulb in there.)

Among the art pieces along the walls are this Iron Maiden poster, and a Van Halen one as well on another wall. Stapled and glued to random points are cut-out logos from cheap beer cartons like Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors, and a bumper sticker for WHJY-FM in Providence, a local classic rock and metal station. These things must've been sacred totems to the young boy. The walls and ceiling are covered in pencil scrawlings so numerous and weird you'd think someone had been locked in there like a prisoner in a garret and documented his descent into insanity. Most of the words are strangely diverse band names -- U2, Twisted Sister, Run-DMC. Odd, the kid that listened to all those. I was most surprised that after being in this house for years I'd only now just noticed that someone drew a couple of almost-but-not-quite swastikas on there, and two stars of David -- but they clearly aren't the work of a disturbed kid into Nazism. The kid obviously had little to no idea what the sort-of-but-not-really swastikas meant, because they're drawn bizarrely, with extra arms that don't fit, as if he was really only drawing interesting shapes that he'd seen somewhere before but couldn't put his finger on. These shapes were like advertising for products he'd forgotten, or just angles and lines that appeared menacing and sharp like the Twisted Sister "TS" logo he put next to them. He probably even thought they'd make cool-looking ninja throwing stars -- one of them is labeled "CHINA STAR." That could mean either a weapon or he wanted takeout. Again: pot.

Around the Iron Maiden poster of Eddie as the Trooper is a written a list: "Great charactors." They were probably band names, or people in a story he was coming up with while high with friends. Here are his cast of charactors:
  • Cumulus Cloud
  • Tree-Tall the Intellegent [sic & ironic]
  • Silver Piece
  • Moses Malone
  • Zorn
  • Tweedle dee tweedle dumber
  • Pecker the Sea-Worm
  • Sea-Worm the Slime-Thrower
  • Meenlock the Pre... [illegible]
  • Pecker the Hairless
You can see he was running on fumes by the end. Literally. The names "Mike" and "Pete" are spray-painted on the wall. The young boy and another of his tribe, perhaps?

I'm speculating that Tree-Tall the Intellegent must've been their primitive god figurehead. Pecker the Sea-Worm may have been a creature in their eerie and ill-formed universe mythology, maybe an important character in their Creation Myth. Yes, and maybe this simple Sea-Worm endured trials beyond imagining, singing songs in praise of Tree-Tall and trooping across fields of battle and running with devils, evolving into a proud and noble warrior -- a slayer of giants like Zorn and Meenlock, a thrower of slime. Sea-Worm the Slime-Thrower, in fact. Perhaps in his advanced age, the once-ruler of Cumulus Cloud evolved still further into the wise, Solomon-like Pecker the Hairless.

I'm going to scrub it all off once the weather clears, because obviously unintentional or not, I'm not happy having cryptic quasi-fascistic symbols on the wall of my basement. Just in case some accident happens and the police think we've been up to weird shit down there. But I'll leave you with one of my favorite bits of wisdom sketched onto the walls of this room, which I also never noticed until today. It's circled strangely, almost as if he is depicting it stitched on a pillow, like the sage and gentle aphorism it is.

Daily Photo 3.27.10

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Rare sunny day around here on the start of Mud Season.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Daily Photo 3.26.10

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Tried the Numi dry desert lime tea & now I have a new favorite beverage. If it was caffeinated, my mornings would be different from now on. I get the impression that it would be fantastic with a little vodka to cool it off, making a nice hot tea vodka sour. But it's fine as is, packed with flavor. It tastes pretty much like biting into a hot lime: very tart, very dry, a bit sour. It slaps you in the face with limeyness. The slap turns into a love-tap once you wring a second cup out of the tea bag. I'm going for a third. This stuff isn't Tetley price -- I'm shooting for four steeps per bag here. I may just be on hot water and wishes by then.

Incidentally, Nik tried her teas. The Allegro tea, a ginger and mint, is "not too bad," but it's not as flavorful as she was hoping. The other one is a green tea with red orange, and it left her decidedly unimpressed. Her journey to find a kick-ass cup of tea continues.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Daily Photo 3.25.10 (plus a snack)

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You know when I said I wanted lime tea? The craving hasn't gone away. Not for my wife, either.

We made the mistake last week of stopping by the Fancy Ass Tea Store in Providence to sample some good tea (it was free, leave me alone). Since then, we've been spoiled. Bigelow and even Twinings doesn't do it anymore in terms of flavor. Fuck our lives! So we stopped out today and bought some new teas to try out.

Also, we've been microwaving our tea water. Go ahead, heap on the verbal abuse. We bought a tea kettle now, so we can heat up our tea water the way civilized people are supposed to. I'm thinking of having the tea with crumpets. Seriously. I have the crumpets and everything.

Daily Photo 3.24.10

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Got a slew of Brooks Running clothes in the mail today -- a shirt, a light jacket (not pictured), and a pair of tights to wear under shorts. I believe I have them on improperly.

Daily Photo 3.23.10

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Daily Photo 3.22.10

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Interesting fog last night.

Daily Photo 3.21.10

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This was a last-minute thing, no fuss, no muss. Read more about my half-marathon race here, and even watch a little video. I won't lie to you. I like getting medals.

Daily Photo 3.20.10

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When I first took this, I could've sworn it was a "4." Now I think it might be an "A."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Daily Photo 3.19.10

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Been in the mood for lime tea ever since I saw it at Whole Foods. Rather than give them a red cent, I've been making my own version with cheap green tea bags and squirtable lime juice. It's delicious. Suck it, Whole Foods.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daily Photo 3.18.10

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Nik took me out for a 6-mile run today in actual sunlight. I don't get much of that -- most of my runs lately are at night in the pitch darkness. Turns out I'm faster when I can see where I'm going.

Daily Photo 3.17.10 (plus a birthday)

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My Myrna girl, the smartest border collie/lab mix the world has ever known, turned 5 on St. Patrick's Day.

We got her as a puppy from Labs 4 Rescue. She came to my wife and I in a van with dozens of other puppies transported from Missouri. Myrna had shit caked to her rear haunches because she'd had an accident in her crate en route from Missouri to Connecticut, where we picked her up at a park-and-ride. She was anxious but immediately recognized us as her new parents, rolling over on her back and standing on our feet while we stood there filling out paperwork. She had brothers and sisters on the same van, being adopted by other families. I swear she watched a brother go off happily with another couple, but he never looked back at her.

We wondered for a while if she'd get any bigger, like the size of a regular lab. She hasn't. She gets her size from her border collie genes, and is muscular but with a little chub here and there. She is incredibly sneaky about wheedling food from us.

She doesn't have paws -- they're hands. She uses her dewclaws like thumbs and is incredibly dextrous. To empty out her Kong toys, she rolls onto her back and holds the open end between her hands above her snout, so all the food falls right out into her mouth. Takes her about 30 seconds.

We celebrated her birthday with a trip to Petco, where she got a new squeaky ball and a new bone. Stanley also got a bone, and tried to convince us that we needed a parakeet. Maybe for his birthday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daily Photo 3.16.10

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Cashed in a day off. Spent it doing our taxes and calling about some whipworm medicine for Stanley. But there aren't enough hours in the day -- meanwhile the basement is flooded from several days of rain seeping through the walls and I didn't get a chance to soak it up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daily Photo 3.15.10

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Took the dogs for a walk in the rain because Myrna was edgy and staring at the stove. I'd cooked some beef earlier in the afternoon, which tends to drive her insane with beef-craving.

I'm not sure what this is, but I think it came out nice.

Daily Photo 3.14.10

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Several days of rain.

Daily Photo 3.13.10 (plus several rants and a story)

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Lots of variety in today's pictures. Either I'm sorry, or you're welcome, or neither.

Click the panorama of Nik's Gramma to embiggen it. We visited Gramma in the morning and sat with her a while, helped figure out some kind of confuckerage that was up with her cable TV. She'd been having a rotten week and not being able to watch the Home & Garden channel capped it -- when there's no HGTV, she gravitates toward Fox News and gets the shit scared out of her about everything from vaccines to immigrants. I think we can all agree that's a bad situation.

Afterward we paid a visit to Whole Foods, where the onions were larger than I'd ever seen before. I don't think I'm quite capturing the gargantuatude of these onions. Use the garlic for comparison. Keep in mind the garlic heads were big too.

Whole Foods has a whole section devoted to bullshit. It's called "much of the inside of the store." In that section, you'll find homeopathic remedies, which are sugar pills that some people think cure ailments. They do not. They are as effective as fairy dust, and contain just as much medicine. Note the ailments that these pills are supposed to cure: "Helps reduce scars"? Hemorrhoids? Joint pain caused by dampness? Stage fright? The "30C" you're seeing on there means that 1 drop of active ingredient has been diluted into 100 drops of water, and a drop of that solution has been diluted in 100 drops of water, and a drop of that solution has been diluted in 100 drops of water, on and on, 30 times. Diluting something that far means the dilution of the actual ingredient on the label to inactive ingredients is [quoting Ben Goldacre of The Guardian here] "a 1 followed by 60 zeroes, or - let's be absolutely clear - a dilution of 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000." End of homeopathy rant.

Beginning of Whole Foods rant. Listen: Whole Foods is great if you want interesting stuff you can't find in other grocery stores. I found crumpets there! They're delicious. The fruits and vegetables are ripe and plump. You can buy some flavorful but overpriced grains, teas, meats, oils, sauces, and more. Nik and I love going there to look around and buy selective items like treats once in a great while. But nonsense like this crap pictured above makes me despise the place and everything it stands for. Bags of spring water ice cubes? If you buy this, you enjoy wasting money. Give it to people who actually need it instead of frittering it away on bogus crap. End of Whole Foods rant.

Beginning of cool, wet, streaky night photographs. We went for a drive through Providence after that and headed toward the mall. These are the things we saw on the way:

This is a Nike sneaker we happened by while walking through the mall. Nike makes some of the most ridiculous-looking shoes on the planet. Correct me if I'm wrong, but these are the ones that Marty McFly wore in "Back to the Future Part II," right?

I leave you with the following charming story of an incident that happened while we were shopping, which I wrote about in my Moleskine. Enjoy and thanks.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daily Photo 3.12.10

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We had new carpeting installed in one of our spare rooms. The room had been wallpapered in peeling, scallop-shape-textured, old-fashioned crap, and carpeted in a thick white berber that had been stained yellow. This is one of the rooms that we'll use for kids, once they come along -- we'd rather they not have to sleep in that mess. So we hoarded some Lowe's gift cards, tore the wallpaper off, refinished and painted the walls a greenish gray, pulled the carpet out, and had a couple of guys install fresh new carpet. It's got that new-carpet bounce. Nik immediately loved walking on it.

I had other ideas.

Below, this is a short video showing the first thing the dogs did on the carpet.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daily Photo 3.11.10

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The recent stretch of great weather has gone kaput. That's pre-spring in New England for you.

Daily Photo 3.10.10

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Daily Photo 3.9.10 (plus a freaky-looking worm)

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This may be my last week for night-time runs until the fall. Daylight-saving time starts on Sunday. I don't generally get as bunch-panty'd as some do about DST, although I agree yes fine OK it's a mostly useless exercise. Whatever the logic, purpose, methodology, tradition, and result of DST, one thing will be nice: most nights when I run, I'll be able to see where I'm going for a change. I find that vision is often a useful tool when trying to see things.

No, that is not my house.

There are two downsides I can see to not having night-time runs. One: the weather will become very warm in the afternoons, and I'll start bitching about running the heat and considering changing my schedule so I'll run in the early mornings before the sun comes up. So I'll be back where I started, in the dark again, complaining about that. Two: if it's brighter out, I won't be able to take as many of the organic-shaped neon-string photos like above. I'm getting to enjoy those.

I added more of them to my Flickr page, where I keep the photos I like best. There are several more there that I haven't featured here. Check them out if you have nothing else to do.

I honestly don't know what the fuck this is, but I found it in the dark.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Stanley Vs. The Stick (3.8.10)

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Taking the place of a daily photo today is a little video. We took the dogs to the baseball park near our house today and let them go nuts. Stanley found a stick, and it quickly became His Favorite Thing Ever.

Sorry for the lousy video quality. It was pretty dark out there.

Daily Photo 3.7.10

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Sorry about all the Stanley photos lately. I warned you earlier this year that Stanley would feature prominently. He's too damn photogenic, although he's getting tired of it. Hence his "up yours" look.

For more photos that are not dog-related, see this post on the 4 Feet Running blog.

Daily Photo 3.6.10 (plus some people chocolate)

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Took Stanley and Myrna to my parents' house. It's like Disneyland for them -- there's meat everywhere and different people to pet them. Stanley never stands still the entire time.

We have to distract him while we're eating lunch -- otherwise, he'll jump on the table and eat food out of people's plates, which is something he never does at home.

Afterward, we took them to the pet store, where we found gourmet dog cookies (a ripoff, so we didn't buy any) and "People Chocolate." Chocolate for people, or made of people? Not clear.

And then we had a little walk in Barrington. Nice to enjoy spring weather for a change.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Daily Photo 3.5.10

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Visited Gramma with Nik. We spent a few minutes trying to explain health insurance reform to her, why it's not socialism, why it's not the same as Canadian health care, and why it's basically very similar to what we already have in Massachusetts. But it soon became clear we were all rather uninterested anyway, so we moved on to other topics instead.

She told us how ages ago, when she was a kid, there were so many more orphans than she imagines there are now -- this was before welfare, when parents who couldn't afford to keep their children gave them up to orphanages. She recalled at least two of them in the city, both named after saints. Gramma said there were all these kids around with parents, yet they were still orphans. You'd see them in school, she said, and be unsure if they had parents or if they lived at the orphanage, or if both were true. As a girl she used to climb under her fence, pick her way across a set of railroad tracks, and visit this pond near her house in the neighborhood of Steep Brook where all the kids at this one orphanage used to go swimming -- a whole pond full of orphans.
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