2009 was a banner year here at Casa Ramrod, assuming that the banner said “Mission Accomplished” in a font called “Clueless Irony.”Â (Yes, I know. Â Itâ€™s been done.)
Nevertheless, I think I learned a few things in 2009 that may serve me well in 2010, especially if I retain the backup option of hiding under the covers. Â Here, then, are a few 2009 True Facts and the lessons Iâ€™ve taken from them:
Lessons Learned:Â Â As I already suspected from my own personal habits, “indolent” is not a bad thing.Â Barring meteor strikes or other accidents, then, Iâ€™ll probably live more-or-less normally for many more years.Â Iâ€™ll just have to regard my body as if it were a suspiciously unattended package at the airport.
True Facts:Â Â During both my endoscopy and colonoscopy, I was given a wonderful “twilight” anesthesia that made me forget the most uncomfortable and unpleasant parts of the procedures.Â But I was given no “twilight” during my bone-marrow biopsy, so I remember every undignified second of it. Â Afterward, however, I was given a snack.
Lessons Learned:Â Â Drugs are good.Â But so are cookies.
True Fact:Â Â On the same day that a doctor first said the word “lymphoma” to me, I received an email telling me that the movie version of my second novel would begin filming in October.Â This coincidence seems to indicate that God is a merry prankster.
Lesson Learned:Â Not really a big fan of merry pranksters, here.
True Facts:Â The movie did not begin filming in October. Â Or November.Â Or December.Â This seems to indicate that Hollywood is a merry prankster as well.
Lesson Learned:Â Â See above.
True Fact:Â I have an amazing spouse who always has my back despite the fact that Iâ€™m a foul-tempered old crank whoâ€™s addicted to cookies.
Lesson Learned:Â Â None. Â I already knew that.
True Fact:Â Â My friends arenâ€™t half-bad, either.
Lesson Learned:Â Â Suckers.
True Fact:Â Â Throughout 2009, the first picture that popped up in a Google Images search for “Bradley Denton” was a photo of me kissing Steve Gould.
Lesson Learned:Â Â Make one mistake, and you pay for it the rest of your life.
Okay, it’s been completely dead in here for far too long.
I’ve been a near-total hermit since sometime late last year. I blame Obama. But I’m hereby officially re-committing to posting some postings at least once a week. I already have a couple in my head. They may not all be the casual masterpieces that you’ve grown accustomed to seeing from me. But they’ll be something.
I’m kicking off with a new song that I’ve largely finished mixing this morning.
It’s probably the most highly-produced song I’ve done yet, with all sorts of layers and panning and automation envelopes and synths and on and on about stuff you don’t care about.
And, Ghod help me, I smashed it all to hell with compressors and limiters. It just seemed like the kind of tune that called for that. Another sad victim of the Loudness Wars. I left a few transients in there somewhere. Maybe.
I like to think that this one is in the finest tradition of EatOurBrains.
EDIT on 10-04-09: I’ve just loaded a slight remix of the song, for increased clarity. I brought the vocals forward so that they’re more intelligible, increased the strings’ level for ear candy, and got rid of some mud in the bottom end. I don’t know about you guys, but I usually don’t enjoy having mud in my bottom end.
Iâ€™ve been spending much too much time lately moving across our Texas highway system trapped inside the damnedest repeated clusterfracks. (Yes, thatâ€™s the technical linguistic term for a group of Texas drivers who have bunched up at high speed.)
Iâ€™m a gentle old man, but Iâ€™ve had too many recent inner visions of flames, explosions, and the deployment of my personal bazooka, to be satisfied with the current state of affairs.
Therefore, Iâ€™m posting so that everyone who drives in Texas will know how to better keep Rory alive and happy on the highway.
Hereâ€™s the One Rule to Rule Them All: Get Out of My Way.
Here are the Three Laws of Velocity:
If youâ€™re driving faster than me, youâ€™re a maniac, and should be removed from the road.
If youâ€™re driving slower than me, youâ€™re a granny, and should be removed from the road.
If youâ€™re driving the same speed as me, youâ€™re pacing me, and should be removed from the road.
This set of rules is simple, elegant, and results in me having the highway entirely to myself, which is as it should be. However, we live in an imperfect world, so Iâ€™m willing to put up with you as long as you Get Out of My Way.
There are, of course, some behaviors you shouldnâ€™t indulge in, unless you want to make me suffer from Road Annoyance.
To be perfectly clear, Iâ€™m not doing this for your own good. I donâ€™t care if you kill yourself and all your loved ones by driving stupidly. Darwinism in action is what that is. I just donâ€™t want you to kill me, okay? Iâ€™ve already got enough problems with that whole natural selection thing as it is.
Though, since Iâ€™ve already passed my DNA along, I suppose it really wouldnâ€™t be that wrong to run over me. And I know it wonâ€™t really upset you to kill a feeble old man whose life is practically over with anyhow, for more than a few hours, or until youâ€™re distracted when the next episode ofÂ â€œJon & Kate Plus 8â€ airs.
But what if you hit Jon & Kate and the eight cute little kids and smushed them all? That would make you sad for a long time, wouldnâ€™t it? Okay, maybe not about Jon and Kate. I mean, who cares about those two idiots? But the kids for sure, right? I bet that would make you sad for a loooong time.
So â€“ remember these things Iâ€™m about to list, because you might kill a bunch of adorable little soon-to-be-adoptees instead of me, if you donâ€™t.
Hey, guys â€“ Go visit any of the major news web sites. Cool stuff today. According to the CDC, the Swine Flu Pandemic is going to slam into us sometime in the next few weeks, slaughtering the population and destroying civilization as we knew it.
I mean, just between you and me and the pigs, I was beginning to doubt that civilization as we knew it was going to end at all. It sucked to find myself being pessimistic about my pessimism.
Some days, I just wanted to smash my forehead into something, hard enough to hurt, but not hard enough to actually damage my brain. You know?
That Bird Flu thing just never seemed to be able to get off the ground. And it looks like Apophis is going to stubbornly refuse to smash the earth into molten flinders.
The Global Warming thing was coming along nicely, after we convinced Bush and his crew that it was all a liberal conspiracy against Hummers â€“ and you know how insanely freaked out they were with Clinton and his hummers in the Oval Office. Then we messed up and elected an administration that actually believes in science. Who knows what the hell theyâ€™ll do to demonize GW the climate like they demonized GW the Bush?
Nuclear war? Well, the Soviets were a great disappointment to me, personally. They had the capability for about thirty years, and could never sober up from the vodka binges long enough to push the red button. North Korea and Iran are just laughable wannabes.
Iâ€™ve got a small bet going that Pakistan will fall into the hands of the Taliban next year and, maddened by the presence of infidels somewhere on the rest of the planet, will launch their hundred nukes at somebody. If they hit India, then my job is less likely to be outsourced, so this is a two-fer. Theyâ€™ve got enough bombs to trigger at least a Nuclear Autumn.
But thatâ€™ll be offset by the damn global warming that weâ€™ve been trying so hard to cause. Unless Obama or Steven Chu or Paul Krugman fix it first.
Iâ€™m immensely cheered by todayâ€™s news, though.
I went out this afternoon and bought my survival kit. Here are my top ten items:
Three boxes of Kleenex â€“ Will need them if I get the flu, and the allergies have been really nasty all year anyhow.
Three containers of Crystal Light no-cal drink powder â€“ I already got a bunch of iodine pills for purifying water, at Rachaelâ€™s insistence. Now I can drink both safely and deliciously.
Three boxes of wet kitty treats â€“ Little Tex and Secret Kitty are likely to get grumpy while trapped in the house for a month or so, and this will help. Iâ€™m contemplating buying some more catnip toys tomorrow, before thereâ€™s a run on them.
A pound of Kraft Mild Cheddar cheese â€“ It was on sale, and I like cheese.
Two pounds of Skinner Vermicelli â€“ Yummy and nutritious and would survive a nuclear war, I think.
Two glass containers of Ragu Roasted Garlic spaghetti sauce â€“ To make the Vermicelli taste even yummier. Also, the Ragu has catsup in it, which, as Ronald Reagan taught us, is an essential vegetable.
Four pounds of Folgerâ€™s coffee â€“ Life isnâ€™t worth living if I donâ€™t get my coffee in the morning. Also, itâ€™ll be worth its weight in hummers after the apocalypse.
Lots of cans of Dinty Moore beef stew and microwaveable plastic lunches of various types and brands â€“ I think I forgot to get crackers to go with these. Dammit.
Four pounds of Imperial Pure Cane Granulated Sugar â€“ Screw the Splenda if civilization ends. I want real sugar in my coffee.
A 1.75 liter bottle of Bacardi Gold â€“ Should make a great internal antiseptic to help me avoid getting infected. I forgot to get the Coke that potentiates its healing effect. Dammit.
Personally, I think I did pretty good, considering how off-the-cuff and panicky this was. I already had plenty of toilet paper. And you can use the Kleenex that way in a pinch, in case you didnâ€™t know.
I think Iâ€™ll be able to survive in my apartment all through the Great Dying. Surely they won’t disconnect the Internet. It’s all satellite communications these days, anyhow, and the satellites will keep on working fine for years and years.
Then I can come out and the glorious dream of my childhood will begin â€“ me, being one of the last ragged inhabitants in a post-industrial nightmare wasteland. Kind of like moving to Detroit, only more fun.
Iâ€™ll have my gun with me. I bet I can find some bullets for it, somewhere out there. Unless they’re all buried in some Teabagger’s back yard.
Rachael and Jesse will survive, as will all of you, and my sister and her husband, and all of my Goddam Neopagan Tribeâ„¢. Weâ€™ll form the nucleus of a new and intrinsically pessimistic society, as Iâ€™ve always hoped for. With motorcycles.
Itâ€™ll be great!
We should all meet at that filling station right outside Bastrop, where you turn to go to or from Austin, depending on the direction youâ€™re traveling in. You know the one.
See you all in a couple of months!
….I just had the inevitable thought…
The CDC says the Swine Flu is mutating. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll mutate into —
We live in a semi-rural area. Well, mostly rural. We have houses and running water, but no streetlights, fireplugs, police officers, or Britney Spears sightings. (One good olâ€™ boy at the local hardware store actually swears that “Britney Spears” is something a spaniel does during a duck hunt.)
Another thing we donâ€™t have is zoning restrictions. So even though we may look like a residential neighborhood from some angles, other angles will reveal that various folks have stocked their back yards with chickens, geese, sheep, goats, and donkeys. And theyâ€™re perfectly welcome to do so â€“ â€˜cause here along the Travis-Hays county line, a manâ€™s home is not only his castle, but his Little Reata. (Just hit Netflix and rent “Giant.”)
Here at Casa Ramrod, all we have in the back yard are dogs. Or at least, thatâ€™s all we intend to have. In practice, at one time or another, weâ€™ve also had squirrels, opossums, and armadillos (visually confirmed) as well as raccoons, bobcats, and skunks (otherwise confirmed). The occasional family of deer hops the fence. Plus, our veterinarianâ€™s bulletin board sports a few too-curious-for-their-own-good doggie photos that provide direct evidence of porcupines in the vicinity.
But all of thatâ€™s not enough animal life for one of ourÂ nearest neighbors, who has gone the aforementioned chickens-geese-sheep-goats-donkeys route. He has even expanded his own Little Reata by fencing off some of the utility-easement alley behind our properties. All of which is cool with us, by the way. The more fur and feathers, the merrier. (Or at least the furrier and featherier.)
Our dogs Lucy, Linus, and Tillie were cool with it too . . .
Thought the first: Apropos Obama and change. He’s getting flak for choosing experienced politicians to flesh out his administration. For instance, in the NYTimes today, in an article regarding his meeting with Clinton to discuss her taking the Secretary of State role:
… there are clear dangers for Mr. Obama as well … her appointment could undercut his argument that he is bringing true change to Washington.
I get why people are concerned that choosing Washington insiders might undercut Obama’s message. We’re all sick to death of the secret memos, the corruption, and the spinelessness we’ve seen over the past eight years. But change is not simply about the people. It’s about the process.Â Obama’s message was that he wanted to change the way politics is played in Washington. Reaching out to former rivals in substantive ways is, guess what;Â a change! And using people who have experience in getting things done when the country is in this current state of crisis seems like a wise move to me…. As long as he combines this reaching out with a willingness to hold the criminals accountable.
The Second Amendment was clearly intended to protect from seizure the tools the citizenry need to defend themselves from tyranny. Muskets and bullets were the tool of choice back then, but itâ€™s quite clear that the underlying intent was to uphold ordinary peopleâ€™s ability to defend themselves from a government gone wrong.
In a very real sense, the right to privacy and a free internet is the new â€œright of people to bear arms.â€ Even the expression â€œforewarned is forearmedâ€ gives this notion a nod. Access to information is the new equalizer. There may be no way an ordinary citizen, even armed with an uzi, can stand against the assembled might of the US government, as our founders intended, should our government fail in its duty to not abuse its authority. But we can keep them honest, with access to information and the right to protect our personal information from unreasonable search and seizure.
The struggle against tyranny has graduated from bullets to bits.
So, if you aren’t familiar with the original (like Noble Girl and Twilight Ninja are) you won’t appreciate this as much, but I think it’s wonderful.Â However, you can stop after the first repetition cause it repeats several times.
I haven’t actually watched SNL since the Belushi-Ackroyd glory days. But, as we know, they’ve been experiencing a resurgence with their take on the upcoming election.
This sketch is further evidence that something is badly broken inside my head.
I’ve watched Sarah Palin speak and she gives me the creeps. She’s such a blatantly obvious sociopath that I have the same instinctive, uncontrollable reaction to her that I’ve always had to GWB. I’m absolutely nonplussed that some people think that she’s a VPILF.
But I also instinctively react in exactly the oppposite way to Tina Fey. Dude, she is one hot, juicy babe.
I’ve moved my blog from digitalnoir.com/steve to eatourbrains.com/steve. Going to the old one will redirect. I haven’t recreated the old stuff yet (db crash) but at least I’ll blog regularly both here and there.
It’s like I was dead, but now I’m, uh, not necessarily alive–just, say, undead.
Several different “Interactive Electoral Maps” for the 2008 Smackdown are available online . . . but my favorite is at http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008/pick-your-president/.Â This one allows you to screw with the Electoral College in all sorts of ways, much as you probably did with your Actual College.
The best thing about this map, to me, is that it includes options for splitting up the Electoral Votes of Maine and Nebraska.Â You see, unlike every other state in the Union, Maine and Nebraska do not have a winner-take-all policy regarding their Electoral Votes for President.Â Instead, they use the “Congressional District Method,” in which the popular-vote winner of each Congressional DistrictÂ is awardedÂ one Electoral Vote (just as each district hasÂ one Congressperson), and the state’s overall popular-vote winner is awarded the remaining two Electoral Votes (just as each state has two Senators).
So far, in actual practice, this has never resulted in a split Electoral Vote for either Maine or Nebraska.Â Â But I want to believe that 2008 could be different, particularly in Nebraska.Â For one thing, Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District is home to the University of Nebraska, where support for Senator Obama is reported to be strong . . . and the 2nd District is basically the city of Omaha, which (among other blue-leaning factors) is the home of billionaire, philanthropist, and Obama-supporter Warren Buffett.Â (You can forget about the 3rd District, though.Â They’re red ’til they’re dead.)
I’ve had a lot of fun playing Electoral God with the map as a whole, making swing-states like Ohio and PennsylvaniaÂ swing first one way and then the other.Â But somehow I can never manage to convince myself, even for a make-believe moment, that Florida will ever wind up in the blue column.Â (Comedienne Sarah Silverman thinks there’s a way it could happen, however.)
My favorite tweak of the map — and note that “favorite” doesn’t mean that I think it’s either likely or desirable,Â but wackily possibleÂ — gives WA, OR, CA, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, VT, ME, RI, CT, DE, MD, NJ, HI,Â and DC to Senator Obama.Â Everything else goes to Senator McCain.
This results in a 269 to 269 tie, which throws the election into the U.S. House of Representatives.
Unless . . .
You click that tiny little box that represents Nebraska’s 2nd District,Â turning it blue.
And then, with its one Electoral Vote,Â OMAHA SAVES THE WORLD!!!
I’ve been a baaaaaad blogger.Â That is, to say, a non-existent blogger.Â It started when mySQL problems at Digitalnoir.com caused me blog to become intermittant and then got worse when one of my efforts to fix the thing caused it to break further.Â The outcome on this is still pending but I’ll try to get it up and going.Â I will post further news as it comes.