Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Crafty Stuff---y???

For you knitters, a zombie doll pattern.

You're welcome.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

They're Watching, And They Learn. Oh Yes They Do.

Our dog Trix learned from one of our other, long departed dogs, that one's higher canine purpose was to protect the world from vacuum cleaners. He'd be proud to hear me say that our vacuum is *never* turned on without him attacking the hose.

Ozzie the rabbit has obviously been paying attention, because he now, too, attacks the hose and nozzle as we vacuum his cage each day. It's all in fun, they're not afraid of it, it's a toy to them. In fact, Oz still enjoys being vacuumed, which is incredibly helpful during shedding season.

It's funny how in sync Oz and Trix really are. Trix gets fed once a day, at 5pm, and there are many days when I get home from work and need a nap. When asked when I want to get up, the answer is usually "dinner time". Sometimes Trix will let me sleep until 5:30, but mostly his internal alarm isn't that patient and he wakes me up at five-ish for dinner.

The rabbits get fresh greens every evening at 8pm. If we're a little late, Ozzie will run into the bedroom where Liz watches TV, makes some noise or thumps to let her know he's there, then runs back to his cage. Translation: "Dinnertime, dammit!"

I look over at their cage and three beady sets of eyes are on me. Each of them are chewing away, Oz and Java at their hay bins (apparently they love this new batch of timothy grass we got them), and Fred one level above, munching pellets.


Hippies and Hikers

Last weekend, a few "need to do" things fortuitously aligned so Liz and I spent a nice, long Valentine's Day weekend down in southwest Virginia.

I took Friday off and we headed down, eventually reaching Roanoke, Virginia. I had never been there before and was surprised at how big it was and by how beautiful the scenery is. Roanoke is seemingly surrounded by the Blue Ridge mountains, and the Appalachian Trail (AT) also happens to pass fairly close by.

First stop upon arrival was a trip out to Seven Springs Farm for vermiculite. This stuff is useful in gardening and almost impossible to find. Seven Springs is an organic farm supply place that not only stocks it, but has it at a very reasonable price. The only drawback was having to go pick it up myself, because shipping the stuff would cost as much as the vermiculite itself (it's incredibly light but bulky).

The online directions were... uh, less than useful. Luckily, our GPS took us more or less right to the place. Let me state for the record, that I still believe GPS should be a "trust but verify" kind of tool, but the more I use it, the more I believe it's made out of equal parts magic and awesome.

It was a beautiful drive. Over one mountain and partway around another, we were a good 45 minutes outside of Roanoke by the time we got there.

In the "small world" category, the folks from the farm had given a talk on organic and sustainable food production during a class Mookie took at Mary Baldwin college. I said that their website sounded like the place was run by "hippies", she laughed and said, "yeah, pretty much." Growing up in the San Fransisco bay area during the 60's, to me the term "hippy" is more a term of endearment than derision.

So we get to the farm, drive down a dirt road, find the store and nobody is around. Posted on the door is a list of things to do if nobody is there. This isn't the actual list, but it's close:

1. Honk your horn several times, wait a few minutes.
2. Go over to the house, knock and see if anyone is home.
3. Go into the store, use the phone to call ...... and tell him you're at the store.
4. Call ...... and tell Daisy you're at the store (she lives a couple miles away, so be patient as you wait for her).
5. Go to Daisy's house (directions below) and knock on her door.
6. Use the computer inside the store to send an email to ....... and let them know you're waiting.

And so on.

Liz and I waited a little bit and I walked around and checked the barns and sheds in the vicinity. No worries, on a weekend like this, I can be patient. Soon enough a truck pulls up and a guy gets out with a load of compost. Within minutes the farmer arrived too. He asked us what we needed (we were expected, I'd let them know via email beforehand), and we got directions to the "warehouse", which was another large barn down a couple more dirt roads.

We loaded up the bags of vermiculite, I paid and we all talked about gardening and farming for a bit, then we headed back to Roanoke. It had already been a long day.

The other big event in Roanoke was a hiker's gathering on Saturday. A couple of Roanoke locals had posted the idea on a forum I frequent that they'd like to host an evening of pizza and beer, just to get to know other hiker's from the area. If anyone else wanted to come, they were welcome to join in too. The idea caught fire, and in a few weeks their were almost 30 people coming. It also grew to include a Saturday morning hike and maybe a slide show or two from folks to show some of the trails they'd hiked.

A quick word about hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Many take on "trail names". Sometimes the name is bestowed upon them by other hikers because of a memorable trait or moment, sometimes the hiker names him or herself. Either way, there's usually a story. Not surprisingly, my trail name is Rocket Jones.

I opted out of the hike. This was a valentine's weekend for us, so spending time with Liz was my first priority. Besides, I'd be gone to the gathering most of the evening, and Liz didn't want to go to that.

Those who hiked went up to McAfee Knob, a landmark on the AT. Here's one of the iconic pictures of the trail.

Most everyone who hikes by McAfee Knob takes a photo, but only the bravest sit on the edge like this. You can also get an idea of the view from up there.

Personally, I've seen way too many RoadRunner cartoons to sit like that.

In the photo, by the way, is Caitlin. She came down from the University of Miami, Ohio, with her friend Sunshine and Sunshine's dad Kerosene. He drove from Ann Arbor, Michigan to pick up the girls and just kept right on driving to Roanoke. Kerosene is a section hiker, he's done about 1500 miles of the AT, section at a time as his vacations allow. Someone who does the whole 2200 miles in one go is known as a thru-hiker.

So yeah, Kerosene and the girls got the award for mostest out-of-town. Jersey Dave came in second, and my measly four hour drive was almost nothing in comparison.

The gathering was held at a great place in downtown Roanoke, hosted by Hikerhead and J5Man (real names are Don and Jeff, but most of us only knew each other via forum/trail names). Lots of good beer, good pizza and great conversation. Much putting of faces to names. I met Graceful Roll, who was diagnosed with Leukemia in November and spent most of December in the hospital (mucho goodwill and gifting sent to her once word hit the forum). She's just been cleared by her doctors to hike again and she still wore a goofy hat-thing to hide the after effects of chemo. After meeting her, I have no doubt that she'll kick its ass.

I spent a good bit of time talking to a nice older couple named Haranzo (I think his name was Henry and I can't remember hers at the moment). Turned out that they're the parents of John Haranzo, who had a new shelter built and named for him as a memorial on the trail (John's Spring Shelter). Henry is now the trail maintainer for a few miles of the AT, making sure the trail is clear of tree blowdowns, picking up trash, making note of any erosion problems, etc. He hikes up the mountain four times a week to do that, as a volunteeer. Later, it came out that Henry is 76 years old! I really enjoyed talking to them.

There were several great slide shows afterwards, but the highlight (for me) was CookerHiker's set from the John Muir Trail in California. This is the part of Yosemite that the lazy tourists don't see.

I left the party several hours later, full of pizza, stories and with lots of new friends. They're planning to make this an annual event, and I'm definitely going back.

On Sunday, Liz and I headed back home. As we drove up I-81, we paralleled the mountains and I think for the first time Liz realized that along those blue ridges the Appalachian Trail meandered, and that somehow, someday, I was going to walk those 2000 plus miles.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

There'll Be A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight

It's major windy here, sustained over 25mph, gusts over 40mph. Wildfires have shut down the interstate at our exit. I heard on the radio that Maryland is having the same issues. So far, authorities are saying that our fires have been caused by cooking fires at the "hobo camps" where the homeless gather. Sounds plausible, as from what I see on the maps, each fire originated in wooded areas that aren't developed yet.

I have a feeling that Prince William County is going to be rather unhospitable to the homeless for a while after this.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Liz is in the other room, feeding the bunnies. The dog is in there too, because he knows he gets a small dent-a-stick when the rabbits eat. As the critters gather for the feast, I can hear Liz say:

"Everybody gets pets tonight. Everybody wang chung tonight."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

For The Record

If "applewood smoked bacon" disappeared from the planet tomorrow, it wouldn't bother me a bit.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


We have to use a card key to enter the building where I work. They're having problems with the card reader and it takes several tries to get the doors to open, and of course the fucker teases you by flashing the green light for a split second. I asked the armed receptionist (guard) when they were going to fix it and he told me that the reader was "just sensitive". Great. Now, in addition to dealing with people all day, I have to put up with emo bullshit from a mechanical device.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Attention Span of a Bumblebee (UPDATED)

This post will be all over the place.

I don't feel well. In fact, I feel like I've been kicked in the balls. Hard. That's what happens when you pass a tiny kidney stone at work. I have some apologies to make in the morning, because I was a prick to some people who really didn't deserve it.

Some did, don't get me wrong.

The last two times I've had fast food, my order has been wrong. Last week, I didn't get the crust I wanted on my pizza, and tonight my burrito isn't even close to the one I asked for. Maybe these mega-menus have gotten out of hand, because if you fuck up my order, then I really didn't get it "my way" now, did I?

This morning I delivered a huge bag of vermiculite to a co-worker (more on the vermiculite hunt later). She commented on how light it was, and I told her it was made of the crushed hopes and dreams of the people who worked in our office.

If anyone wants to go hiking, backpacking or camping this Spring, Summer or Fall, give a holler. I've got plans for Shenandoah National Park and Prince William Forest Park, at the very least.


Mixed feelings about this one. A couple of months ago, DC tore up some road to repair and repave. They did the grinding down bit to remove the surface and jackhammered up some other patches. Of course, the following day Winter arrived and they've left the road torn up because it has been too cold to lay asphalt. So every day, about a quarter mile of my commute is like driving through a third world country. A couple of days ago, we had a fluke single day of 70 degree weather. Damned if they didn't get that road paved. Credit where due, someone was actually paying attention.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Rocket Jones style...

Tug on those ol' nostalgia heart strings.

It was innocent in the 3rd grade, why not now?

Women love to hear this.

Personalize it, FTW!

Even a serious message can be a little whimsical.

Be creative.

With everything.

Whatever you decide on, don't be predictable.

Jewelry is usually a can't miss.

Surprise her with a lovely meal.

Who knows where it'll end up?

Bottom Line.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Title Not Needed

Monday, February 07, 2011


On my way to work this morning, I followed a car with vanity plates that announced:


And I wondered why anyone would put that nonsense on a really nice car. I mean, I have a toilet paper shelf in each bathroom. WTF?

Then I realized, it's supposed to mean "top shelf."

Sorry Mario, that's a big FAIL.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Tura Satana - RIP


I reviewed one of her movies, Astro Zombies, here. She was one of my favorite stars in those crappy movies that I love so much.

Thank you, find peace.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Sorting Through My Crap

I was cleaning out a directory where I "hold" all kinds of random stuff, and realized I had some "knife" pictures. Thought to myself, "whoa, that's almost like a theme!"

You're probably thinking, "whoa, what's with all the damn quote marks?"

Remember kiddies, no matter how friendly they seem to be, bears are still wild fucking animals.

Mrs. Landers had had just about enough of the Beav.

This one's supposed to be animated.

How I met my wife.

Time and Effort

I spent all day working on something that didn't need doing, and I would have known that if only I spoke fluent fucking idiot.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


Used to be, the common example for chutzpah was the kid who murdered his parents and then begged for mercy from the court because he was an orphan.

We have a new candidate.

One of the local power companies (not mine, thank God) has an abysmal record when it comes to restoring power after storm outages. I'm talking days later than adjacent power companies here.

This power company just requested a temporary rate increase to make up the money they lost because so many of their customers weren't using electricity for so long after the last storm.

I wonder if that orphaned kid grew up to be a utility executive?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Of Course, They All Beat the French