Pumpkinhead

Ten Years

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

If this blog had any formal education, it would be in 4th Grade and almost as smart as Donald Trump.

Ten years ago I opened the Big Ugly Man Doll for business.  I had no idea what I was doing, just that I was doing it.  For the record, SOBUMD dragged me into the digital age kicking and screaming all the way.  She did not simply encourage me to start blogging.   She set up the initial account, over at LiveJournal, sat me in front of the screen, and said, “Type.”

This is all her fault, and I’ve never truly thanked her for it.  Thank you, my love!

My First Post was as follows:

First Post!  w00t!  Somehow it’s less exciting when it’s my own journal. It’s like getting all worked up about being the first to write in the new diary, and then remembering that you live by yourself, in a tower, with only the howling wind to read your deathless prose. Not entirely unlike the sense of serenity and satisfaction you got from watching your digital wristwatch flip to the new year at midnight. (You knew that you could reset the time to watch it do that whenever you wanted, and that it was usually off by 2-3 minutes anyway, but it didn’t matter, did it? We were crazy then.)

So, welcome. You’re probably in the wrong place.  I am the Big Ugly Man Doll.  Stick around and I’ll tell you why.

We’ve come a long way in 10 years.  Road trips.  Pigs.  The ManFAQ, still one of my favorite bits, to be honest.  An entire year of weekly horoscopes – and wow, that was a beast!  Do you realize there are 12 of the damn things?  Every week?  And I have met people I would never otherwise have met – wonderful friends, fellow bloggers, some of whom I’ve met in person, some of whom I’m simply looking forward to meeting in person some day.  Amazing people and storytellers, sharing snippets of real life.   There have been a few passes at the end of the world (which, yes, predicted the rise of the Donald back in 2011), and countless musings.

It’s tapered off recently, not because I’m any less irritated at the state of the world – quite the opposite, in fact!  I simply find myself at the confluence of the rivers of Time, Inspiration, and Energy with decreasing frequency these days.  It will get better.  I’m sure I’ll grab the tail of that highly caffeinated tiger again, and you’ll all be forced once again to read my deathless prose over the roar of the howling wind in that tower.

I don’t think I ever mentioned this, but that bit in the last line, “You’re probably in the wrong place” – I stole that without shame or remorse from Steven Brust’s blog, the DreamCafe.  He’s changed the tagline now, but it’s still a great blog (and he is a great writer).

So thank you all, Dear Friends, Fond Relations, and Gentle Readers, for staying with me for the ride.  I shall remain BUMD, and I shall get back to writing more often.  Real Soon Now.  And for anyone who’s thinking, “oh no, thank you, BUMD” – trust me, thank SOBUMD.   I wouldn’t be here without her!

 

 

 

 

Pumpkinhead

The Perils of Panopticonalism, and Why I Don’t Have It

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

They all start like simple, innocent days, uncomplicated, routine.   And then BAM – your 13-yr-old is discussing her sexuality in the kitchen while you’re cooking, and you have to use your brain.  Parenting:  The most interesting roller coaster you’ll never get off of.  It’s not just the unexpected plunges, drops, and loops that really get you, either – it’s the sarcasm.

As evidence of this point, I present a conversation that took place the other day among The Reigning Queen of Pink, Number One Son, and myself.  It should be noted that at 13 years old, the RQOP does not so much question her sexuality as interrogate it.  I wouldn’t put her past waterboarding.  (It should also be noted that the below is transcribed with her express permission.)

RQOP:  “In gym today I was talking to my friend E_, who really goes by L_ but I already know someone called L_ so I call her E_, and we were all talking about our sexuality and I mentioned that I was probably bisexual but hadn’t really decided yet and E_ is bisexual and she told me that she wished that someone had told her this when she was thinking about her own sexuality and so she would tell me that if I ever wanted someone to talk to about it, I could talk to her, and I thought that was very nice of her so I gave her a hug.”

(Note:  E_ is *also* 13 years old.)

BUMD:  “That’s very nice of her, and it’s great that you can talk about these things with your friends.  While I think you know that you can also always talk about anything like that to me and Mom….”

RQOP, interrupting:  “Oh yes of course, that’s the best thing about you guys is that you don’t care about anything!”

(Note:  It’s possible that this side effect of our admittedly liberal and somewhat laissez faire parenting style was not exactly the impression we were aiming for.)

BUMD:  “Well, it’s not so much that we don’t care, as that however you grow up won’t affect how we love you or treat you or anything like that.”

RQOP:  “Yes, I know that’s what I meant – you don’t care about THAT.”

BUMD:  “Right.  OK, but what I wanted to say is that it while you can always talk to me about that kind of thing, it’s possible that I might lack the some of the perspective your friend might have.  I know it’s hard to believe, but I actually haven’t ever been a Bisexual Teen-aged Woman.  So it’s nice that you might have someone like E_ with whom you can talk things out, or … ”

RQOP, to Number One Son who was standing near:  “HOLY SHIT!  Did you hear that?  Dad just admitted he’s not omniscient!”

NOS:  “Holy shit.  Need to write this down.”

Now as every parent knows, The Assumption of Parental Omniscience (TAPO)™  is as important to successfully parenting kids over the course of 20 or 30 or 80 years as The Assumption of Papal Infallibility is to successfully managing a church for 2000ish years.  I certainly wasn’t going to let go of my TAPO™ without a fight.  The church didn’t forgive Galileo Galilei for thinking outside the box for close to 400 years; I figured there was historical precedent.  Besides, it’s an election year.

BUMD, in my best Richard Nixon voice:  “I said no such thing, I made no such admission!  My omniscience is not to be questioned.  What I lack is a certain perspective.  Being omniscient, I know everything, but I may not always perceive every point of view.  I lack onmi-perspective-ed-ness-ish.  I lack omniperispactity.  I lack…  I lack a word for what I’m saying.  What the hell word means that?”

NOS:  “Omniperspectieieieie….   Yeah.”

RQOP:  “Omperspec…  Yeah.”

We eventually settled on Panopticonalism, which is certainly close enough even if it doesn’t have that omniwonderful prefix that 266 popes and I have found so useful.  Having distracted the children down my lexicographical rabbit hole, I was able to exit the conversation with my TAPO™ intact.  Dinner was served, and my roller coaster flattened back out onto one of the smoother sides of the track for a while.

Perspective, perschmective.  At least I still have my TAPO!™

 

 

 

 

Pumpkinhead

A Bavarian Weekend Story

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

“I’ve lost the bride.”

There may be no words in the English language more terrifying, more fraught with angst than those. (Well, possibly a sign stating “Sorry out of coffee” in a diner window, but that’s a story for another time, and besides, they’re closed.)

Let’s look at these four words.

I’ve – It’s personal, and it’s past tense. This is something I did, something I have done and cannot undo.
Lost – The absence of a thing, the lack, with the understanding that it’s something I had at one point, but have no longer.
The Bride – Sheer. Unadulterated. Terror.

These are the words SOBUMD and I heard a high-heeled, gown-wrapped woman utter as we walked past her into the Bavarian Inn last weekend for our Anniversary. I, luckily, have never lost the bride. It’s been 25 years since we held hands and jumped over my sword, and while I haven’t misplaced her yet, we decided to get lost for the weekend to celebrate.

The Bavarian Inn, should you find yourself in Shepherdstown, WVa, has all the amenities you could want from a getaway spot: rooms for sleeping, fireplaces, rooms for formal eating, rooms for less formal eating, swimming pools, and a view of the great Potomac River that could inspire poetry, or at least that kind of “huh, wouldja lookit that” sigh that passes for poetry among most folk these days. There was even a decent-sized hedge pig just outside our balcony, rooting among the flowers and the hedge, having a grand old time.

Bavarian View

Potomac River

Since we were only there for an overnight, we decided to maximize our time and headed straight for the pool – despite the 50-degree weather and the on-again off-again drizzling blatter of the rain. It couldn’t really even be called rain, truly – a heavy cool mist that couldn’t make up its mind to piss down or just piss off and let the sun through. It certainly wasn’t going to prevent us from getting into the mostly heated pool, the infinity edge of which appeared to drop off as a sheer cliff face to the curving bend of the Potomac River, 200 feet or more below us.

The view was wonderful, the water was warmer than the air around us – albeit not by a wide margin, but warm enough to get in and float around. After all, this was our own private pool! I realized that it wasn’t really our own private pool, but it seemed that way since we had it all to ourselves. We paddled and splashed our way to the edge, enjoying the vertiginous sight of the mighty river below, pondering the story arc of the past 25 years and contemplating the arc of the next 25, dreaming of the stories we will write together.

Paddling around the pool at the Bavarian Inn recalled for me a different story, one told by David Niven in his autobiography “The Moon’s a Balloon.” He recounts a chilling tale of Bavarian skiing one day, years ago before modern ski equipment, and mentions that he “suddenly felt coldest where he should have felt warmest,” if you get his drift. He got down the mountain as best as he could, and went straight to his friends and the doctor at the lodge, concerned about frostbite in a place most men should NEVER be concerned about frostbite. The consensus was that he should warm the afflicted appendage in an alcohol solution, and so a (presumably inexpensive) brandy was poured for him in a (presumably large) brandy snifter – which he then carried gingerly into the men’s room. He stood in front of a urinal, his chilly willy dunked in the drink, thinking about the horrors of amputation and reconsidering his recreational hobbies, when a casual acquaintance entered the room and took up arms at the urinal next to his. He glanced over.

“My God! David, what are you doing?”

Being David Niven had its advantages. His immediate reply was, “Why, I’m pissing in a brandy snifter. I always do.”

So there I was, hand in hand with SOBUMD, watching the river flow under the trees playing hide and seek with the mists and the rain, when David Niven’s story came rushing back to me as a kind of satori of embarrassment. One of the downsides of having a very new bathing suit is that one could forget that this new one might happen to have a zipper.

No brandy snifters were required, but I was quite glad to have realized my condition before our reverie was interrupted by six basic bros, all of whom had brought their beers with them, and most of whom might have been muttering things about lost brides. None of them looked particularly put out, and so I have to assume the erstwhile groom was not among them. (If he was with them, I will assume the wedding hadn’t been entirely his idea.)

SOBUMD and I headed back to our fireplace and changed for dinner, which was sumptuous, as was breakfast the following morning. The weekend was topped off with a stop at a small Shepherdstown Bookstore that was large enough to hold the secret of a long and happy marriage:  There, among all the stories on the shelves, you can get lost together or separately – but tucked in between the poetry, the biographies, the fiction, and the cookbooks, there’s always something for everyone, and your story never ends.

Just don’t lose the bride!

Pumpkinhead

Bathroom Break!

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

Dear Friend, Fond Relation, and Gentle Reader:  Welcome back!  I’ve been away a while. I’ve missed a few marks and notes; I missed commenting on my birthday.  Yes, I missed commenting on your birthday, also – sorry about that!

But I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the state of America’s underpants. We seem to have them twisted, bunched up, slightly damp, and certainly uncomfortable. We can’t stop talking about what’s in who’s pants and what we need to do about it – particularly in the bathroom.

So, in my capacity as the final arbiter of sanity, good taste, decency, and gender equality in this country, and speaking as a Real Man, I figured it was my civic duty to take a break from this semi-retirement and assist the country as it grapples with the deep, penetrating question of who should use which bathroom.  What could go wrong?

Without further ado, and in the interest of the complete objectivity for which I am known, I give you the answer to the Great American Bathroom Debate:

The men’s room is for Real Men.

It’s that simple. If you’re a Real Man, use the men’s room.  Now, I know that not everyone knows at a glance if someone is or isn’t a Real Man.  (Someone else, that is.  If you’re not a Real Man, you probably know that.  If you’re wondering whether or not you’re a Real Man, you’re not.  If you are a Real Man, the question just doesn’t occur to you.)

Just as a handy checklist, here are a few things that differentiate a Real Man:

  • A Real Man will ask what you need, not what he can do for you. There’s a difference.
  • A Real Man does not use the words “I promise” lightly.
  • A Real Man cries watching True Grit, but not at the part you’d expect.
  • A Real Man will have a 20-second imaginary conversation with his broker when a 3-yr-old child hands him a plastic phone and says, “It’s for you.” Even if he doesn’t have a broker.
    • This is a particularly American phenomenon:
    • An Real Italian Man will have an imaginary conversation with his mother.
    • A Real British Man will talk to an imaginary member of the aristocracy.
      • If he *is* a member of the aristocracy, he’ll talk to someone above him in station – a Baron will have received an imaginary call from an Earl, the Earl a call from a Duke, the Duke a call from the Queen.
        • It is unknown if the Queen has ever been handed a plastic phone by a 3-yr old, but I think it’s safe to assume she would answer it.  The Queen may or may not be a Real Man, but the Queen is a badass.  A very, very polite badass.
    • A Real Frenchman will have received an imaginary call from his cheese monger.
    • A Real Russian Man will pretend to listen to the phone in stony silence for 20 seconds, say “Nyet!” and hang up.
  • If he walks in and says, “I gotta take a piss,” he’s a Real Man.
  • If he walks in and says, “I gotta take a wicked piss,” he’s a Real Man from Boston.
  • If he walks in and says, “I gotta take a fuckin’ wicked piss,” he’s a Real Man from South Boston.
  • If he walks in and says, “I gotta take a fuckin’ wicked fuckin’ piss, get outta the way,” he’s a Southie and he’s drunk. You really don’t want to ask him about what’s in his pants, because he’s gonna fuckin’ show ya, ya chucklehead.
  • A Real Man is known for complete objectivity.
  • A Real Man walks in like he owns the place, regardless of where he is.
  • A Real Man is only interested in what’s in your pants if he’s hoping to get into them.

You can always tell a Real Man – he’s using the men’s room.  After all, it’s a guy thing.

You might notice that none of these things are affected by physiology, size or shape of genitalia, or sexual orientation. Those things don’t matter, any more than color or religious beliefs matter – not in the bathroom, and especially not to a Real Man.

So, if you’re in the men’s bathroom and you’re wondering if the person next to you is a Real Man, you’re the one in the wrong bathroom. Real Men don’t care.

 

 

Pumpkinhead

The Making of the True Reuben

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

It has been explained to me several times in recent days that I have neglected you, gentle reader, and that I should be ashamed – but more than ashamed, I should be writing.

In an effort to make amends AND stay current, I will tell you about the Reuben sandwich I had last night – a Reuben, I must add, of my own making.

You see, it starts with good corned beef, yes, but it cannot end there.  If you have it in you to corn your own beef, so much the better – and more power to ya, I don’t have that kind of time.  So, spend the extra 50 cents per pound and splurge on the meat.  You won’t regret it.

But the True Reuben is not just meat.  Oh no.  There is also sauerkraut.  and on your sauerkraut, you can aim as high or as low as you want – of course, you can make your own sauerkraut at home as well, and again, I envy you your obviously superlative time management skills.  The only thing in my house that I can find time to pickle is my liver, and that’s only because I can multitask while drinking.

Back to our sauerkraut.  It doesn’t matter what kind you buy.  You’re going to put it on the stove, in a pot or saucepan, with all its juices.  You will then add about a quarter of the caraway seeds you have left on the shelf, assuming you haven’t used any of them for anything else.  If you’re below half the jar, use them all.  Boil that.  Yes, you can add some beer, but it won’t help.  and besides, weren’t you going to drink that?  Doesn’t matter.

The important bit is that you have your pans set up, your rye bread – you got rye bread, right?  We’re not doing this without rye bread – buttered on both sides, and your Thousand Island (or Russian dressing, which is another name for “that oddly tasty orange oil slick some people put on salad’) close at hand, with a basting brush handy.  And the Swiss cheese, at least halfway decent, the kind you wouldn’t be ashamed to serve to your grandmother, assuming she was from the old country and would know better in the first place, but you don’t have to break the bank for it.  Get someone to slice it pretty thin but not really thin.  If you can read the paper through it, thank a teacher, but it’s too thin.

Ok.  You’ve got the best corned beef you can afford, some generic sauerkraut that isn’t going to know what hit it anyway, good rye bread – I like the pumpernickel swirl, but then I like Jackson Pollock paintings too, so who the hell am I, you know – and you’ve got at least two, maybe three pans on your stovetop, staying warm.

You buttered the bread, right?  Both sides?  Real butter?  Yes, real butter has salt.  No, margarine doesn’t count.  If you have any margarine in the house, throw it out.  That’s not food.  If you have a heart condition that dictates your butter consumption, you shouldn’t be eating Reuben sandwiches in the first place.

OK, take the first two slices of bread, put them on a pan, buttered-side down.  That’s a joke, they’re buttered on both sides.  Take a good whack of the sauerkraut, and how much is going to depend on the size of your bread, and put it on another pan – you’re going to cook off the juice, and it’s going to love you for it.  Now put the first sandwich-worth of corned beef on a pan – could be the same pan as the sauerkraut, doesn’t matter.  This pan will be a little hotter than the one with the bread.   Cook the individual strips of corned beef until they’re shriveled a bit, then flip them.  Now’s a good time to flip the bread, too.  Once flipped, pour a good dab of the Thousand Island on one of them, baste it all over, and spread the excess on the second one.  Just enough is enough.  Then, move the corned beef on top of the first slice of bread, then the sauerkraut on top of that.  Next, put your tools down and add two slices of the Swiss cheese.  Picking your tools back up, put the second slice of bread on top, orange-side down.  (That’s not a joke.)  Stare at it for a moment, thinking about the proper ratio of meat to kraut and wondering what’s become of the life you dreamed of when you were young, and then flip the sandwich onto the hotter pan.  When you see the cheese melting like Frosty in the summer sun, you’re ready.

Here are the tricks, the things you only find out later:

  • You have to have enough corned beef to tell the sauerkraut to fuck off. If you let the sauerkraut have its way, you don’t have a Reuben, you have a pickled cabbage sandwich with orange-flavored meat on it.
  • You have to have enough Thousand Island to tell the Swiss cheese to go to hell as well. You don’t want to overdo it, but the Swiss are bastards about their cheese, and it will shine through like a stripper at the office Christmas party.
  • You have to toast, technically fry but it’s more politically correct to call it toasting, the rye bread into submission – but without burning it. You need to make it understand that it’s no longer in charge, that it lost all control when you buttered it and that its sole purpose is to support the meat.  Not the sauerkraut, the meat.  If you let the rye bread get in too tight with the kraut, you’ve already lost control of this sandwich.
  • Your first sandwich will suck. Expect to toss it to the dog.  Not only will it fall apart, but the first one sets up the seasoning for all the rest.  With the second sandwich, your pans already smell of butter, of sauerkraut and corned beef, of love.  If you don’t have a dog and you’re making Reubens for several people, decide now which one you love least.  Being allowed to eat first is not a blessing in this case.

Remember:  the True Reuben is not just about the meat.  The True Reuben is a mastery of perspective, rye and Russian in harmony, corned and cabbage fried together and united by the bonds of Swiss cheese and love.

I hope my little recipe inspires you to aim for your own True Reuben experience.  A parting gift of advice – wear an apron.   The Naked Reuben is a great name for a band – and a bad idea.

Pumpkinhead

Merry Christmas: Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk!

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

Well, the year got away from me.  I know, it’s been a while, and I’m hoping to be a little more present and active in 2016.  In the mean time, I know that you haven’t forgotten me, since many of you ping me about not posting, and rest assured that I never forget you, dear friend and gentle reader.

In the spirit of the holiday season, and in honor of the many friends who are sharing, with me, the 72-degree Christmas weather here on the East Coast, I give to you a NEW holiday song, a new Christmas Carol, with which to brighten your snowy Yuletide evenings.  (And yes, I’m shamelessly cross-posting from Free Range Poetry!)

It’s called, of course, Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk!

The holidays are jolly, hanging wreathes and hoisting holly
with the reindeer and the snowmen standing guard
The Christmas season’s calling as the mercury is falling
From Baltimore to Boston’s Harvard Yard

T’is the season to be freezin’ while we shovel ’round our hovels
And we’ll celebrate the Winter, young and old
But the temperature’s not dropping, while we’re out here Christmas shopping
‘Cause this Winter doesn’t seem to like the cold!

Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk! I’ll toss your coat back into the trunk.
Autumn’s riding shotgun, cause Springtime has the keys
Winter’s in the backseat with its head between its knees
Summer’s gonna hold your hair / while you toss snowballs everywhere
Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk!

Frosty’s sipping boat drinks, singing songs about the ice rinks
and I guess the weather’s really lost its head
The elves are all in short sleeves and the snowman’s having dry heaves
Won’t someone put this Wintertime to bed?

This Christmas is so green it’s blue, cause Winter’s got the Irish flu
and the snowplows and the road crew’s out of work
The Solstice and it’s 82 / degrees, and I am telling you
Twelve beers has made this Wintertime a jerk!

Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk! I’ll toss your coat back into the trunk.
Autumn’s riding shotgun, cause Springtime has the keys
Winter’s in the backseat with its head between its knees
Summer’s gonna hold your hair / while you toss snowballs everywhere
Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk!

Winter’s just might sober up
the snowfall forecast’s climbing
and we might just get some inches after all
It looks like things will whiten up
Shame about the timing
‘Cause it ain’t gonna snow here till next fall!

Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk! I’ll toss your coat back into the trunk.
Autumn’s riding shotgun, cause Springtime has the keys
Winter’s in the backseat with its head between its knees
Summer’s gonna hold your hair / while you toss snowballs everywhere
Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk!
Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk!

 

So, that’s the good news.  The bad news is that I’m writing a dozen more and I’ll have a Big Ugly Christmas Album out for next year!  Happy Holidays to you all, and to all, a Good Night!

 

Pumpkinhead

She Knows Where Her Towel Is!

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

Today, I couldn’t be more proud.  Mind you, I couldn’t be more late in updating this blog, but that’s a different issue.  Right now, I couldn’t be more proud of the Reigning Queen of Pink, Grand Duchess of Fluff, Lord High Protector of Barbies, and Baroness of the Hummingbirds.

RQOP:  “Can we watch Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy now?”
BUMD:  “Yes!”
RQOP:  “OK, I’ll be right back!”  (runs off)
BUMD:  “OK……..”
RQOP:  (having returned with two dish towels.)  “Here you go!”
BUMD:  (blinks)
RQOP:  “We can’t watch without our towels!”

Too bloody Belgiuming right we can’t!  What a cool frood she’s growing into – as a Douglas myself, I am very proud!

 

 

Pumpkinhead

You and I Remember New Jersey Very Differently

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

So there we were, once again on the road home, when it all went to hell – that’s right, somebody had to pee.

It all started, like most weekends do, on the previous Wednesday, when SOBUMD took the Reigning Queen of Pink to Baltimore to see Wicked on the Baltimore version of Broadway. I stayed home and hung out with Number One Son and the Human Tape Recorder, and by hung out I mean mostly they ignored me, which is about par for the course at 14 and 16 years old, I suppose. As the RQoP and SOBUMD returned from their sojourn, we started packing in earnest for the trip to New Jersey for Easter. We hadn’t been up to see family in far too long, and it was time to cross state lines, nail some beers, and resurrect relationships – all the trappings of Easter, without the suffering. Some say you can’t really have Easter without suffering, but we were willing to forego full verisimilitude for the sake of skipping the whole agony bit.

The universe, of course, had different plans, but we didn’t know that as we packed.

Saturday morning saw us with wheels up at Oh-Dark Thirty, which was in reality about “Oh it’s getting pretty light out at Six AM.”

The gods of the highways were with us that morning, and we were well under way before the sun was up in earnest. (People in Ernest, PA, are probably pretty tired of hearing about things happening in their town from the rest of us.) We made NJ by 1030, stopping once in PA for the chance to pay FAR TOO MUCH for gasoline, or, as SOBUMD put it, “support the local economy.” Once there, hugs and hellos unfolded into lunches and dinners, which were interspersed with opportunities to acquire beer. Beer was acquired along with marshmallows, and the evening devolved wonderfully with a fire, conveniently contained in a fire pit, and the roasting of marshmallows, buns, bunions, and booties. I left the firepit once I realized that not only was I the only Big Ugly Man Doll there, but I was in fact the only man there at all – I ran like the coward I am, and left the fire to its feminine fate. Therefore I only heard about the sautéed bunions after the fact, but I’m reliably told that booties were shaken and bunions were toasted. Only the fire pit knows for sure, and it’s not talking.

Easter Sunday dawned with promises of miracles, and we were not disappointed. There is a Muslim guy in New Jersey making bagels, and he’s open Easter Sunday with nice, fresh, hot, Jersey bagels – the kind you can get in New York, but not here where I live here in Va. We’re too far south of the Mason Dixon to get a decent bagel, and too far north to get decent BBQ. It’s a culinary purgatory – I have to assume I was a bad chef in a past life. Anyway, we jump at the chance to get *real* bagels when we travel north. These were wonderful!

Driving home from NJ, we stopped at the Clara Barton Memorial Rest Stop, which is clearly owned and operated by Cinnibon, to pee, and the fans blowing the scent of cinnamon were at full blast. (Note: I’m sure if Clara Barton were to come back to life and tour the NJ Turnpike, she’d be horrified to find out someone named some nasty turnpike piss pass and drop stop after her. “What the heck is this? This place is filthy! Get a mop, and take my damn name off that sign! Why did you name this crap after me? Susan B. Anthony got a damn dollar and all you could manage for me was filthy gas station restroom on the Turnpike?”) Anyway, we got back in the car, SOBUMD started driving down the road, and in about 10 minutes she was coughing. And coughing. And more coughing. Eventually I looked at her and asked if she wanted me to drive. Nods head. “Can you talk?” Shakes head. We switched drivers on the left shoulder of I-95, always fun, and I pulled us over at the next exit. She sat there sucking for air with an anaphylactic asthma attack until she could breathe enough to swallow a bit of water and get 3 Benadryl down. 2-3 more minutes and I’d’ve stuck her with the epi-pen. Got the rest of the way home by midnight; took her to the urgent care folks the next day, since she still couldn’t take a full breath, where they said “You don’t have an inhaler? Now you do; tape it to the epi-pen and carry both at all times.” So she’s back to breathing again.

All three kids were pretty much silent the rest of the way home – they were pretty freaked out at the thought that she might die there. I didn’t think she’d die, but I was unsure enough that I pulled us in front of a place called the “Country Pride Restaurant” instead of the Subway, which was next door. I figured if she *did* die, I wouldn’t want them reminded of it every time they passed a Subway. Too many of them. I told SOBUMD my thinking on this later; she laughed. She also gave me the finger, but at least she laughed.

As my aunt used to say, another Easter shot to hell.

Pumpkinhead

Happy Birthday to Me!

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

And Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you.  I know, I’ve been away a while, by which I mean the whole of 2015 to date, but I’m on my way back, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to thank everyone for all the many green St. Patrick’s Day Birthday wishes, and to explain that I have had a decent day all around, and I think this foretells a pretty decent year upcoming.  I certainly hope so.

Some readers, who may perhaps have known me for far too many of my increasing years, may recall that often my sending a short update concluding with “long letter follows” tends to mean that yes, a longer letter might follow, but generally my correspondent was left to write it themselves and then send it to me.  In this case I will not profess that a longer post shall follow, but at least MORE posts shall follow, in the fullness of time, and without too much further ado.  You have missed me – and I have missed you all.  Thanks for hanging in there!

 

Pumpkinhead

Say not Goodbye, but Hello!

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

Historically, I review the past 364 days at the end of the year. I’ve decided not to do that this year, for a variety of reasons, starting with being high as a kite on cold medicine right now. I probably couldn’t name all the weeks days months whatever of the year right now anyway, much less get them in the right order. 2014 wasn’t a bad year, as they go, but it wasn’t all it could have been, and so I think it’s time better spent to look forward to how awesome 2015 can be.

As Banksy reminds us, as of tomorrow, we will be as close to the year 2030 as we are to the year 2000. Since I have vivid memories of a great little show called “Space: 1999″ this strikes close to home for me. By 2030, we should be permanently on the Moon, with at least a research station on the way to Mars. We were promised flying cars by this point – I think there is a company working on this, perhaps more than one. By 2030, we should have them. By we, of course, I mean the affluent 5% of the more than 8.3 billion people who will be clawing for their share of the Earth’s increasingly finite resources by then, unless the next wave of Ebola takes care of us first. I myself will be more than 60 years old, and no closer to retirement than I am now, but that’s OK.

On the plus side, in the next 15 years, we have real opportunities to accomplish and achieve things that were just as “Sci-Fi” as flying cars were when I was young. We may let the blind see, the deaf hear. We have not “put a stopper in death,” nor can we ever – nor should we – but we may slow it to a trickle, putting the stopper in senescence until we’re ready to pull the plug ourselves. When you combine the magic of stem cells with the magic of 3D printers, there is probably a limit to what we can do, but it’s not a limit I can imagine right now. Mind you, that may be the cold medicine talking.

Speaking of cold medicines, my good friend Dr. Hartley at Musings on Infection has postulated an International Geophysical Year for medicine; an International Biomedical Year. I told suggested that we target the year 2020 for the IBY – these things take time to set up. With that in mind, let’s make 2015 “The Year We Got Ready.”

And so, without further ado, I will thank you all for sticking with me this year, and I wish you all, dear friends, fond relations, and Gentle Readers, a happy, safe, prosperous, invigorating, enlightening, and educational new year. Come on, 2015. Show us what you’ve got!