Monday, September 29, 2003

My sister posted this list in an email and sent it out, imploring others to fill it out and respond. It seems fun and appropriate for 8:50 in the morning so here you go, more about Clay Sails.

1. What is your name?
Clay Sails. Not really. Its just a made-up name I use online to keep my friends off-balance and my enemies confused.

2. What color pants are you wearing right now?
Icky cappucino colored dockers with surprisingly few stains on it/them.

3. What are you listening to right now?
Air conditioning. Fleuroescent lights. My conscience ("Call your mother...").

4. What was the last thing you ate?
A peanut donut.

5. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

6. Where (did you/do you plan to) go on your honeymoon?
I went to Hawaii. My wife came. We drank Kona coffee, saw hot lava, and ate amazing food at "The Pacific Cafe" on Kauai.

7. How is the weather right now?
It just turned Fall-like yesterday. Coolish, bright. The leaves have that dull green color they get before changing.

8. Who is the last person you talked to on the phone?
My mother in law last night. I told her I would be ready to eat barbecue at 7:00 after returning from Gettysburg with Ugale and his compadres.

9. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
It depends which direction they are facing...

10. Do you like the person that sent you this?
Absolutely. Its my big sis. I miss her. I talked to her on the phone last week. She's in Texas.

11. How are you today?
Extremely tired. I've had insomia the past 4 Sunday nights. Last night it was due to a quantity of tea I drank prior to leaving the aforementioned barbecue.

12. What is you favorite drink?
I am highly partial toward coffee. It has to be good coffee, preferably Peets or Starbucks (TM). I take it with cream but no sugar.

13. What is your favorite alcoholic drink?
Generally I prefer beer but I don't actually love the taste of any alcoholic drink. Probably shots are my favorite drink.

14. How do you eat an Oreo?
The best way to eat an oreo is with vanilla ice cream. And coffee.

15. Favorite sport to watch?
I much prefer playing sports to watching them, although I'm hardly a jock. If pushed to the wall, I'd have to say that Hockey is the best sport to watch on TV (its fast like basketball, requires the grace of ice skating, and has the gratuitous violence and full-body blows of boxing and football).

16. What's the next CD you're going to get?
A computer game called "Galactic Empires". [I get most of my music CDs from friends so I never know what I'm going to get]

17. Hair color?
Formerly light blonde, now some version of dirty blonde.

18. Eye color?
Blue with red rims and purple bags.

19. Do you wear contacts?

20. Favorite month?

21. Favorite food?
*Very difficult*. Lately I've been on a dal kick, but vegitable jalfrezie and panang chicken are very difficult to top.

22. Best job you ever had?
I used to spend my evening listening to oral testimonies of Holocaust survivors. It was often grim and depressing, but equally as often it was inspiring, astounding and life-affirming (they were, after all, the survivors). It was an especially good job because the people I worked with were phenomenally fun, educated and spirited.

23. Do the dishes right away or leave them in the
"Right away" is not in my vocabulary, and dishes do not go in the sink: they go next to my computer, on the floor by the couch, on the night stand, etc.

24. Summer, winter, spring, or fall?
Summer usually, although since I moved East the Fall has risen in my esteem.

25. Is there Extraterrestrial life?
Yes. She works in the library on the first floor. Her name is Ruby.

26. Hugs or kisses?
From grandma I prefer hugs. From my wife, if those are the only two choices, I'm a "kisses" man.

27. Chocolate or vanilla?
If the ice cream is store-bought, then chocolate. If its home-made then vanilla.

29. Who is least likely to respond?

30. Who is most likely to respond?

31. When is your birthday?

32. Where and when was your last vacation?
Its hard to say. I went to California a few times this summer. Once was for my old man's surgery, but it ended up to be more relaxing than I'd expected, and once was to go to the Yosemite cabin (see earlier entry) but it ended up a bit frenetic. Besides those times, I really don't remember.

33. What are your favorite things to do outside of
I really like playing board games, writing, and making music. Those are my biggest hobbies. I also like cooking when I have time.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Hmm. I was sure I blogged earlier in the week. I guess I did, but I didn't hit the "publish" button or something rediculous.

I've been away from work all week due to a power outage as a result of last week's hurricaine. Sux for me. I lose wages. Ah fuck it. I also get time off, which is more valuable to me than $$ in the long run.

I squandered it fiddling on my music studio, playing Master of Orion III (a fabulous, extremely detailed space-empire building PC game).

My wife and I went up to a place called "Hawk Mountain" Wednesday. Its a place in the Alleghenies where thousands of hawks pass through migrating from Canada to Mexico. There are various beautiful overlooks that afford sweeping views of the valleys and farms of the area. Two weeks ago they saw 1400+ hawks and eagles in one day. We drove 3 hours on a beautiful early fall day, ate bland country food at a bizzare chain restaurant called "The Cracker Barrel", paid $5 for admission to the nature reserve, bought a "hawk-silouette" chart, bought a Hawk Mountain postcard, hiked a few miles to the best overlook, and...


We saw buzzards. We saw birdwatchers. We sat on some rocks in the sun (enjoying the view immensely) and listened to a New York retiree describe his entire road trip to a friend of his on a *cell phone*. ("I seen Montana, and Nebrasksa, and Idaho -- places I never seen. Now I'm way up on this mountain...")

In the hour or so we spent on the mountain we saw a single kesterel -- the smallest and most common of hawks.

I guess we'll have to wait until next year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Well, this hurricaine has certainly cramped my working life. I've embarked on a new career: waiting for the power to come on at work so I can obtain my benjamins. (Thats ghetto talk for "earn some clams"). The storm itself wasn't too bad. Lots of rain and sustained wind but it was just a "catagory 1" by the time it passed overhead.

Anyway, vacation plans have been pushed forward so we'll be going up to the Adirondacks tomorrow and for the forseeable future.

I wanted to give a shout out to my homegyrl Jen who will be a guest on the Dr. Phil show this Fryday the 26th (that's ghetto parlance for "my friend will be on the Dr. Phil show). She'll be the one playing the piano. Ya'll should stay home from work and watch it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I'm sure I've devoted at least 577 separate blogs to how much I hate yellowjackets. Here's one more.

Last week I read an article in Discovery about the evolution of stinging insects. Basically, they are programmed to deliver miniscule quantities of incredibly powerful, pain-inducing venom. That venom is a biologically engineered combination of 27 different chemicals: neuro-toxins, stuff that breaks open the cell wall to allow other stuff in, stuff to slow down your metabolism so it can't break venom down, stuff to cuase your pain nerves to rapid-fire, stuff to liquify cell walls, stuff to cause your muscles to spasm and thus incite other nearby stinging insects etc. All of it designed to induce agony.

In short, stinging insects, especially yellowjackets, are truly horrible creations. Sure humans are bad in their own way: we pollute the water and spray blister agents like Lewisite
on one another in the name of increasing democracy. But we don't come out of the womb equipped with little barbed hypodermic needles with which to inflict incredible and surprising amounts of agony on other people with. We aren't *programmed from birth* to be evil, hurtful hovering harbingers of pointless suffering. Hell, at least humans contribute to the lasting glorification of the universe with foundations like the National Endowment for the Humanities and the NCAA. We even set up charity soup kitchens. When's the last time you saw a bunch of bees doing anything even romotely that altruisic?

Answer: never.

So this weekend, after having read this article, in which the author discusses his "pain index", already paranoid, I went up to West Virginia. My inlaws have a house up there.

While among the trees and birds, I was assailed by all manner of insects, but primarily the stinging kind. There were long, skinny black wasps that bore into wood and flesh with equal ease. There was a fat, angry bumblebee that fell from the sky like a small, winged toaster the *very instant* I opened the door to remove a dying cockroach from the cabin. There were the usual profusion of tiny hornets who inject eggs into the fatty tissue of your underarms, only to have the eggs burst with voracious grubs who eat their way to the surface of your skin (excepting the occasional one who is directionally challenged). There were clouds of diseased mosquitos and big, biting carpenter ants whose venom is actually more toxic a cobra's. And of course there were yellowjackets. Always there are them.

Yellowjackets are the most viscious and evil of the stinging insects. They not only menace late-summer meals in search of sugar and meat (ruining picnics, upsetting small children, and causing horses to panic), but they sting without provocation. They sting because they can. They sting repeatedly and don't die afterword. They can transform you from Don Juan enjoying a sweet, romantic picnic with a lover, into a screaming, swatting mass off blubbering, whimpering, pansiness in instants.

Surely you all remember last summer's invasion of yellowjackets into my apartment -- the several dozen a day that would fly up suddenly from beneath cupboards, who would hurl themselves at us from around blind corners, even stooping to nest in our pillow... You remember those four months of infestation-hell...I chronicled them right here..those bastards...

But wait. I'm letting my anger get the best of me. Or maybe its the venom that is slowly creeping up my side as I speak. Venom like a sliver of ceramic jammed into my kidney.

Yes, I was just stung. I, who haven't been stung since that yellowjacket got me on the ankle at the cabin a few years ago.

Here's what I did to get stung: I walked to my car from Starbucks.

Granted, I was wearing a colorful shirt I bought at the Buffalo Exchange in Berkely. Granted, a stupid, nut-sucking bee might mistake me for a giant, walking petunia. But do bees sting the flowers they suckle? Apparently.

I sat down in my car, set my overfull cup of coffee down, and realized that the angry buzzing in my ear was probably not another manifestation of the LSD my attorney administered during all those violence-management seminars mandated by the Judge at my probation hearing. In fact, in the (literally) split second it took for me to connect that buzzing sound with the sudden stabbing pain in my side, I computed the following several things:

1. Isn't it ironic that I just read an article last week on the physiological properties of insect stings?

2. Isn't it ironic that after a weekend spent evading, swatting, and being swarmed by stinging insects, here I am, stung.

3. Isn't it ironic that after having had well over a thousand hornets in my house last summer without being stung, here I am, stung.

4. Isn't it ironic that Sunday I watched "Bowling for Columbine" where Michael Moore discussed mass-hysteria over "killer bees".

5. This incredible pain is only a "2" of a possible "4" on the scale. I'd hate to find out what "4" feels like.

5. I'd better discontinue ruminating about the irony of the situation and get out of my car.

So I stepped out of my car very quickly, attempting to maintain calm and avoid swearing (there were some nice old ladies walking behind my car). Several more yellowjackets awaited me outside. I batted at them with my bare hands. I boxed them like Cassius ("floats like a butterfly, sting like a bee") Clay. The one that stung me went under the steering column, where it emerged, unharmed, after I applied an indiscriminate boot. I grabbed my shirt and swung it, missing. It flew out of the car and toward my eye. I dodged, giving me a +1 bonus to my AC. It missed me by milimeters.

I decided to walk back into Starbucks, but reconsidered when I surveyed the distance I would have to travel. I would be safer in the car behind glass and steel. Plus, I had abandoned my coffee in the car and did not want it to get cold while I waited for the bees to go away.

I spun on my heels, dodged several more bees, and nodded to the old ladies, explained to one of them that I had just been stung and that she ought to consider skedaddling. Finally reaching my car and flinging the door open, I jumped inside. Several bees bounced off the window in hot pursuit.

I turned on the engine.

I heard a drumming sound at the roof.

I heard a muffled voice from outside.

"He's in your back window..."

I killed the engine.

I calmly (and very quickly) exited my car, dodging bees, etc.

Sure enough, a yellowjacket was in my back window, waiting until I got into heavy traffic before plunging its hateful, venom-filled ass into my ear or eye socket.

I popped the hatchback.

That murderous little bastard flew past me with a buzz.

The old ladies skedaddled, clucking and shaking their heads.

I jumped back into the car, thanking their retreating bootheels.

I did a quick survey of the car. It seemed clean.

I drove away.

Somehow I avoided spilling my coffee. It was cold by the time I got it to my lips.

Monday, September 15, 2003

To many in this area, it may appear to be an unlucky coincidence that Hurricaine Isabel is on a one-way track toward the Eastern Seaboard.

I, however, happen believe that there is something more cosmic at work. Yes, although I am 100% athiestic 99% of the time, this happens to be that rare 1% when I see DIVINE INTERVENTION at work.

Huricaine Isabel has been pushed by the hand (or tentacle, or claw, or horn) of God, or some other Holy and Divine entity, into America for the sole purpose of promoting a new but underrepresented National Holiday:

"Talk Like a Pirate Day"

TLAP Is comin' to an ocean near ye on September 19. Or if you're in the path of Isabel, the ocean itself is comin' to ye on September 19.

[FYI, how does a hurricaine relate to pirates? could survive without the ocean. Yeah. That's it. Oh and, if you find yourself marooned on a piece of driftwood (formerly your house), it would be a perfect time to cast off yer old life and take up bucaneering. If you opt for this, I recommend you start by assailing small sloops and dingies until you can upgrade your vessel.]

Here are the links:


Friday, September 12, 2003

Every so often, one must pause and consider one's station in life. By this, I mean of course the ubiquitous "where am I" and "what am I doing" type of questions (i.e. "why am I in Muncie?"). But I am also referring to class -- you know, the thing that distinguishes the Zha Zha Gabors from the Roseanne Bars of the world. It has become un politically correct to speak in such terms of late -- especially with the recent demise of Marxism -- but lack of formal discussion does not eliminate class as a social phenomenon. So lets face it, some of us are upscale Yuppies and some of us are low-class trash. Some of us are imbetween. As such, it may be helpful to know where exactly you stand in the

Yuppie-Trash Continuum

[Instructions: take the following quiz. Keep a running tally.]

+1: You routinely eat sunflower seeds. On your salad.
-1: You routinely eat sunflower seeds. For dinner.

Your teenage son thinks the greatest sound in the world is:
+1: Korn.
-1: corn.

"Wouldn't it be great if the moon were made out of..."
+1: bleu cheese
-1: moon pies

+1: You get your information from NPR.
-1: You get your information from WWF.

+1: You think that passing high school is a good way of getting ahead.
-1: You think that passing a high school is a good way of getting head.

+1: You voted for Gore and are dissapointed it wasn't counted.
-1: You did not vote and cannot count.

+1: Macaroni is a type of pasta.
-1: Macaroni is the only type of pasta.

+1: You feel the government is bloated from too much pork.
-1: You feel bloated from too much pork.

You catch a 37 year-old man in bed with your teenage daughter. You:
+1: Call the authorities and wait for justice to be served.
-1: Serve justice and wait for the authorities to be called.

You catch a 37 year-old man in bed with your teenage daughter. You:
+1: Call the authorities and wait for justice to be served.
-1: Tell your brother to put his shoes on and go back to his own house.

You think that:
+1: NASCAR is a UN poverty-reduction program.
-1: NASCAR is a property-destruction program.

You feel that "taxes"
+1: are an unfortunate but necessary burden of citizenship.
-1: is a state you'd like to visit someday.

You think:
+1: formal wear requires a tuxedo with a tail.
-1: formal wear requires a mullet with a tail.

Your idea of a forward-thinking, progressive institution is:
+1: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
-1: The Army.

Your idea of a classy weekend outing involves:
+1: bottled wine at an outdoor symphony.
-1: canned beer at an airshow.

You consider your car foreign because it was built in:
+1: Japan.
-1: the North.

A mob of drunken people screaming racial slurs and brandishing firearms is:
+1: justification for calling 911.
-1: A family reunion.

You watch the Fox Network's show Cops in order to see if police are:
+1: violating anyone's civil rights.
-1: violating your civil rights.

You were bewildered by the Monika Lewinsky Affair because:
+1: Bill's personal life and his ability to govern did not appear to be related.
-1: Bill and Monica did not appear to be related.

While shopping with your teenage daughter you come across a numbered sports jersey. She sees:
+1: the uniform she will need to play lacrosse next year in college.
-1: maternity clothes.

Your idea of a swell vacation is:
+1: hitching a trailer to your car and driving to Utah.
-1: leaving a trailer behind and driving from Utah.

White T-Shirts are perfect for:
+1: wiping down the Lexus after a wax.
-1: wiping down the Lexus for fingerprints.

[End of test. To score, please refer to the following scale:

-22 to 22: High class people don't take self-diagnostic tests. They write them to reflect their own values and give them to other people to take.]

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I had big plans for my blog this morning.

Witty, desparaging remarks about Jenaffleck, and "the big wedding". (I was going to make some sort of pun involving their names and the word "genuflect" but Joanna on "Hometown Unicorn" beat me to that word this morning. Curse her and her pool-playing skilz.)

Serious commentary about how impressed I was by the democratic debate I heard last night. (Excepting 60% of Joe Lieberman's comments, which disgust me with their lack of balance on Israel and his spineless support for Bush's Iraq war)

Instead, I have a more urgent bone to pick, which pushes all considerations of terrorism anneversaries, celebrity weddings, and national politics aside.

In the movie "The Two Towers"...

[pausing while my readers wince]

...when Frodo and Sam and Smeagol/lum are overlooking the Dark Lord's minions advancing upon the Black Gate, right before they are captured by Boromir's brother, they stare wide-eyed at a couple of giant, waddling pachyderms.

"Ooh, Olifants," Frodo says.

"No one at home will *ever* believe this," says Sam.

[Pause for the rediculousness of this remark to sink in.]

*What?* No one will ever believe *what* exactly? That the two hobbits saw some stupid elephants?

After all they've been through?

Lets see. Up to that point, they have witnessed a few things a bit more impressive than elephants.

1. Undead ring-wraiths who fly on dragons and cannot die.
2. An elf who summons water-horses from a river to drown said wraiths.
3. A thirty foot tall smoldering demon of the ancient world in a lost dwarven city.
4. A massive Cave Troll.
5. An Elven Queen with a magical fountain that predicts the future.
6. Etc.

"Nobody back home will *ever* believe this."


Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I went to Starbucks and here's what I saw:

"Sandwhich, chips, a bottled drink, a cookie -- Only $8.95!"
That might be a bargain.

In twenty years.

I saw an "Extreme Collection" of gear "for your extreme lifestyle" consisting of a cup with a special lid, and a day pack.

The cup is solid titanium, able to withstand crashing skyscrapers of all sorts. It has an ergonomic lipformed lid (expandable for collagen users). Now you won't get tendonitis of the mouth when you dangle upside down from the ice falls. Next time your transatlantic solo balloon flight founders off the Grand Banks you can sip a hot beverage and wait while the Navy SEALs swim to your ice berg.

Also included is a handy kevlar pack so rugged that when Hottentots drop you in a kettle of boiling oil, your biscotti won't get soggy. The pack aslo stops bullets, blunts spears, and serves as a portable life vest in case you fall into magma. (in the latter case, Starbucks accepts no responsibility from injuries sustained by the tempurature of your beverage, either before or after it comes into contact with molten rock)

I was kinda flattered. I thought my "extreme" (or is it Xtreme?) days had ended back in the 90s. I'm glad to see Starbucks recognizes sustained archival research to be what it is: extremely dull.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Yesterday, following random blog links, I came across the following appeal on

do us a favor, everyone (that sounds like it was said by some right cunt in a thick cockney accent). write an email about something interesting and send it to bobby at i don't care if you don't know him. i don't know him. none of us do but that's hardly going to stop us.

then later

Hey write Bobby. I am. But you go first. Do it now. Don't fuckin put it off you lazy motherfucker.

I immediately took up the challenge of this stranger to write a stranger. Here is the result:

[I wrote]


someone said write you a wierd email. I couldn't think of anything to write.
as I wasn't thinking, I mis-affixed a label to an important legal document.
although I may get fired, I will leave it upside down. for you, bro.

always willing to do my part

-- clay sails

Bobby wrote back today with the following message:

Hi - thanks for e-mailing me! I am deeply in your debt for the risk you took. Thank you so much. I blunder in my duties at my job often, paying closer attention to internet things. I'd say I spend about 95% of my work day screwing around.

Your e-mail reminded me of one of those Kerouac books where he was half ass working as a security guard and he just roamed around getting wasted and in the morning he ran the flag up the pole upside down - the other lifer guards with "cop souls" wanted to throw him in jail.

Anyway - thanks again - and I hope you neither go to jail nor get fired!!!


Bobby Bekier

What a pleasant response from a stranger. All of us should be friends with strangers like this. I encourage all of you to write Bobby, too.

This morning on my way to blogger I was ambushed by the following Hotmail headline:

"You Can Eat at J-Lo's Restaurant"

My first thought is: can J-Lo cook? Because unless she can cook, I don't want to eat at her restaurant. I have never seen anything that leads me to believe that J-Lo knows the first thing about food.

My second thought is: does J-Lo eat at J-Lo's restaurant? I doubt it. She is too skinny to eat at restaurants. Give me a restaurant run by a fat guy with a French accent, not a twig-thin bombshell who hasn't indulged in so much as a spoonful of sour cream since the early Clinton years.

My third thought is: J-Lo probably doesn't even know she owns a restaurant. We all fell for the Planet Hollywood fiasco in the 90s. We all spent the obligatory evening trying to be hip at the "House of Blues" run by B.B. King Inc. (a subsidiary of B.B. King), only to find the canned blues theme and overpriced drinks to be just as contrived as the Hard Rock Cafe was in its heydey.

My fourth thought was that celebrity's make poor restauranteers. I am reminded of the late, great manager of the Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, who is Italian (and therefore almost by definition knows food). His L.A. restaurant got shut down by the health department for having roach parts and human feces in the food prep area. It turns out we had as much cause to trust Lasorda's ability to serve us food as we might to trust, say, that a famous basketball player might know the first thing about mixing cologne fragrances...

No, leave me out of any excursion to J-Lo's restaurant. If I'm going to eat at a celebrity owned eatery, it'll be Rosie O'Donnel's place. That girl can eat.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Yesterday I was photocopying an old promotional brochure for an asbestos free fire-retardant called "Calco Blaze-Shield Type D C/F". It is non-toxic, non-pathogenic and biologically inert. It provides "hours of thermal protection against intense heat."

Yes, welcome to my world etc. but the main reason I'm relating this is because on page 5 it displays a list of a few of the buildings it was used in.

#1 on the list, which is honored by a half-page architectural rendering and an assurance that the "Port of New York Authority specified...the latest innovations in building materials" for it, is...

The World Trade Center towers in New York.

Oh, the irony. How it burns.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

A, so I wuz sittin here thinkin pink, y'know. I'm at work. Whadda you expect. I'm surrounded by it: its soaked in the walls, its splashed on the desk. Pink. Or is it "mauve"? Some poor s.o.b. painter spent weeks making this place ugly.

What else I got. I got "The Secret Laci Files" in People. I got Udon in the fridge. I got enough plastic in the billfold to fuel my twitching eye at Starbucks.

Did I tell you about my eye? Its been twitching lately. Fluttering. Flick flick. Flick flick. Either I got early onset MS or I drink too much coffee and spend midnights carving grooves in the floor with my anxious bootheels. Its been going for four weeks now. Hook it up to a dynamo. Light your party boat with it but make sure you bring me along. We'll dine on prawns all the way to Bermuda.

In the meantime, I'll be in my static, mauve world, nodding to a steady fan somewhere behind the microfiche.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The Blog Gobbler just ate my posting. In it, I managed to relate union bosses walking in the rain to the odd, nihilistic freaks who leave turds in public toilets. Maybe my torturous analogy was actually closer to the truth than it appeared on the surface. Maybe I was a hairs breadth away from the Secret of the Universe, the Unifying Theory, etc. Yeah, that was it. They couldn't let it out, so they sent the electric Goblero itself out over the wires to devour the findings of my spontaneous research. Damn them. Damn them all to hell.
Firstly, thanks to all who responded to my plea for good movies to see. I got a great many suggestions that I will follow up on. Once I have gotten all of the ones I'll be getting, I will compile a master list and post it.

On the solid advice of Sahalie of "Call me Sahalie," I watched "Strictly Ballroom" last night. Loved it. It turns out that it is one of my wife's *favorite* movies. Somehow my crumudgeonly schtick had worn her down to the point where she assumed in advance I wouldn't like it and so she never even mentioned it. I think my knee-jerk contempt of pop culture has backfired. I have obviously been missing good stuff.

Last night I dreamed I won a free trip to Amsterdam. I was bummed because I wanted to take advantage of the local horticultural tradition (and I ain't talkin' 'bout tulips) but I couldn't because I needed to get piss-tested for a job.

Last night I dreamed I escaped a train on fire. There was a crush of people and I jumped to safety. Not many people survived. My dad picked me up from the scene. I woke up tired.