knox snooze

Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

Everyone loves a comeback story

Tuesday, January 31
It's been a while since I've done anything about it, but the October marathon deadline is looming in the back of my mind. No, I didn't run the New Year's day 5k. I know I said I would, but I didn't. It was a bad idea all around.

The next race I had planned is the Strawberry Plains 10k. If it follows a completed 5k by six weeks, it isn't such a bad thing. But if it the hell it is I've been doing, then it's a bit more of a challenge.

So, as it stands now, the idea is to get to the point of being able to complete the 10k at a jog. At least. Doesn't sound too ambitious to you? My moobs tell a different story.

I can't ride the bike as "training" any more. It's good for losing weight and being healthy, but the fact is that I just need to run. So I'm doing that. Sort of. My non-stop running distances thus far this week are 0.75 miles on Sunday (a complete embarrassment), 1 mile last night (slightly less shameful), and 2 miles tonight. 2 miles, which frankly feels like a damn marathon all by itself.

I doubt I can increase my distance at that rate for the next three weeks, but I'm way further into it than I though I would be on Saturday night.

Pronounced: "Gruh"

Monday, January 30
Remember how in high school the SAT or ACT was always offered on Saturday morning? Probably the morning after the prom or homecoming too. It was like the powers-that-were (you know...the man) had decided that they were going to not only force us to take these damn tests, but they were also going to make it as difficult as possible for to succeed on them. At least, those of us who didn't have the good sense not to stay out until two in the morning on the day before the test.

Well, now I have to take the GRE. And it's different in a couple of important ways. Way 1: It's a hell of a lot more expensive. Way 2: I'm paying for it myself.

The upside, however, is that I get to have a little more choice in its scheduling, which is why I chose today. So, yeah, I have to take some four-hour test with a bunch of grad school hopefuls who just discovering their curly hairs when I started college the first time, but at least I get out of half a Monday of work.

These boots were made for hunting

Sunday, January 29
I bought a pair of boots today. Some would call them cowboy boots. Yes, I know it's almost indescribably hilarious that I have a pair of cowboy boots, but keep in mind that I bought them at the mall. At Journeys. Which makes it even more laughable than you thought before.

I've never had a pair of cowboy boots before, and there's part of me that feels like I need to put on the rest of a halloween costume when I'm wearing them. That, or make out with Heath Ledger. Also, there's part of me that thinks, "Holy shit, I'm like three inches taller in these." Which pretty much outweighs any shame I should feel for wearing them.

There's no avoiding the fact that you feel different when you wear boots like these. You should probably feel kind of like a poseur if you are not a) a cowboy, b) a country musician, c) a stripper, or d) some holy combination of all three. But, you might be like me, which means you feel no real shame (about pretty much anything, actually), and so you feel like a total badass. A total badass who is now finally approaching six feet tall.

So after a couple of hours of wearing them while watching Saturday night Brit Comedies on PBS (someone else, please find that hilarious), I finally got to put them to good use. I heard a crash outside the house and leapt to my well-booted feet. I grabbed my Marksman BB gun (seriously) and stepped out the back door just in time to peg a fat raccoon as he stumbled off my trashcan.

I totally shot a raccoon. In my boots. With a $35 Wal-Mart BB gun.

And then I clip-clopped back into the living room to tell the internet about it. Somewhere, a posse is being organized to beat my college-boy ass into a pulp.

Routes to hell

Friday, January 27
After the ocular torture of yesterday, I decided the best way to salve my burning vision would be to join my friends at a smoke-filled bar for a loud show/CD release party/drinkathon by one of our favorite bands.

This is the kind of thinking that is going to get me into a good grad school?

While at the show, I had a revelation: I am a horrible human being. At the booth in front of our were three cute girls. And they were all signing to each other (no, not singing...signing). And snuggling. A lot.

Evil thought #1: Deaf girl-on-girl would be totally hot.
Evil thought #2: Those lucky bastards never have to shout to be heard at a bar.

And then the devil appeared next to me and was all like, "Come on, dude, there is a line, you know."

Mine eyes have seen the ouch

Thursday, January 26
The thing they never tell you about trying to be a full-time gubment worker and a part-time student is all the freaking eyeball strain you go through. Not only did I choose to work in front of a computer, staring at spreadsheets and databases all day, but I also voluntarily elected to major in English. English. The major with the very worst eyeball strain to possible-paycheck-upon-graduation ratio ever. Even worse than Retinascratchology.

So, after a nice long day of staring deep into a monitor full of numbers, I went to a class where we stare at a chalkboard, appreciating (theoretically) the nuances of the International Phonetic Alphabet and all its itty-bitty characters.

And then to the library for three hours of German homework.

So, here I am in the library. Big tears of blood dripping down my cheeks. But, at least they have purrty computers here, which are much easier on the eyes than the industrial strength Dell rubbish I normally stare at.

Seriously, this iMac is actually beautiful. I think I need to get one of these.

I just had to ride my bike today

Wednesday, January 25

Stewie Lives!
Originally uploaded by ashby.

Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story has been sitting on top of my Blobkbuster queue for a long time. Right at number 1. Sure, I could have picked it up at the store (or bought it), but I am a Blockbuster Online member, damn it, and my DVDs come in the mail.

Now it's here. And if I was any more excited, I'd need my diaper changed.

But, of course, after not riding my bike to work in about three weeks, I got all ambitious this morning and decided to pedal in. Which means an extra 30 agonizing minutes before I can bask in the animated light of Stewie's greatness.

The quick brown fox...

Tuesday, January 24
Every time I see a fridge with magnetic poetry on it, I feel compelled, as does every red-blooded American, to write something dirty. You think the people who come up with those tiles are thinking anything else? No, they have a big clean lab with a bunch of old fridges in it, and they go around seeing what dirty things they can write.

"He aroused my muffin with a moustache."

"Come up under her hand basket quietly."

I don't have the magnetic poetry. Maybe I'm worried that the magic will be gone because I've become so calloused to the all the tawdry possibilities of these suggestive magnetic words.

Or maybe, I've just learned to be happy with my multicolored alphabet magnets from Kroger with which I've spelled out "Lick my nude fog bar."

If you know what I mean.


Monday, January 23
My wife and I have spent the better (or was it worse) part of the last week being sick. Sick as hell. Industrial-strength-lubricants-out-of-the-nose sick. Good-thing-we-don't-have-a-gun sick. Real. Damn. Sick.

I think I'm getting over it now. I spent two days out of work last week, which was the first time I think I've done that in a couple of years. Faith, on the other hand, was so sick today that she had to be replaced at work by a woman who is due to give birth to her first child on Wednesday.

What do you mean you can't come into work because your water just broke? I'm spewing geysers of mucous here, lady. Get your pregnant ass into the office.

The result of all the sickness and staying-homeness of the last week is that we have sort of devolved into a kind of sub-human stumbling and muttering around the house. Pain and nausea are communicated by similar grunts that can only be differentiated by highly trained anthropologists. And us. It's just too much damn work to talk. What with all the mouth moving and listening and keeping our eyes's really quite taxing.

I think we might need an intervention now, though. I just sent her an instant message (sickness be damned, we need internet-medicine), asking her to mute Gaim while we're messaging each other. Cause I'm ten feet away. And cranky like only an over-internetted invalid can be.

Buy stuff

Tuesday, January 17
We're selling out. Starting with our car. It's a Silver 2001 Saturn SC1. It has ridiculous fuel efficiency - like 40 MPG on the highway and about 30 in the city. It's the basic version - manual transmission, CD player, no cruise, no intermit wipers, but it runs really well. You'll get a really good deal if you want it. Seriously.

Bass Track

There are several parking garages around campus. The one we were stuck in is the most closed-in and catacombish (a word I made up). Three of the parking levels are underground, and the ramps from one to the next are tunnels encased in concrete, which act quite effectively as bass resonators if you happen to be caught in one with some dude in a truck behind you who is trying to see if the ridiculous dB capacity of his system is enough to actually bring the building down, Babel-style. The windows of our car didn't rattle - they buzzed like they were about disintegrate at a molecular level. We experienced actual pain. I told her I was going to ask him to turn it down, and she reached over to tell me no, but right as she tried, another bass note hit and shook her arm loose from the socket, rendering it temporarily useless. I got out of the car and turned back to face the enormous chrome grill of a full-sized (oversized, if that's possible) of his truck. We made eye contact. I mouthed "can you turn that down" and held my hand in front of my face while pointing toward the floor. Nothing but a blank look from him. I walked to the window of his truck and he rolled it down (the window, not the truck). "Can you turn that down?" "What?" "I said, CAN YOU TURN THAT DOWN?"

And just like that, he wanted to fight me. Get out of his face. Get out of his truck. Don't tell HIM what to do with HIS shit. Turn my shit up if I can't hear it.

And he got out of the truck. I said, "I'm not trying to listen to anything, but your bass is hurting our ears. I'm just asking you to turn it down."

I went back to the car and told her I was just going to walk back to my office.

I had to go past him again to get to the stairs. He was still out of his truck, more cars lined up behind him because he wouldn't move. His bass track still ruining everyone's morning. He said, "I turned it down. You happy, motherfucker?" I asked him his name, to which he responded by asking my name. I said, "I'm Ashby, and I work here." He said, "I don't fucking care. I'm PFC Anchor, and you can't tell me what to do, motherfucker."

I walked up the stairs, and heard him yell something about come back and stand up like a man. I thought of so much to say. My pulse had to be 200bpm. He could have, and surely would have, beaten my ass. He might have done worse, but I didn't care. All I wanted to do was fight him. It took more effort than I thought I could exert to ignore him. Halfway back to my office, and I was still think of reasons to turn around and go find him.

PFC Anchor. Or was it Eckard. PFC. Fuck, and he had a handicapped hangtag on his rearview (though he looked plenty limber and ready to go to me).

How terrible of a person am I if I find out this guy I'm pissed at is a wounded veteran, just back from Iraq, who went off on me because he's having a terrible day...maybe because he found out that all the money he was promised for school isn't here for him? Or that he's just irritated because he's spending another day with a bunch of Greek-letter jackasses who are four years younger than him and two years closer to graduation?

I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but all I keep thinking is, "fucking jarheads."

Driving my phone

Friday, January 13
I don't make a lot of money. I make below average money, but I live in East Tennessee, so it's good enough for here. And, considering the extent (or lack thereof) of my work experience and inconsistent education (Anyone want to hire a hard-drinking expert on Bible trivia and poetry? Call me), it's actually pretty great. Also, I'm writing this while on the clock. Not bad.

Bill paying is a monthly routine of juggling grace periods, minimum payments, and worrying about who has the worst late fees. I'm the All-American consumer, and I'm might be single-handedly keeping the new Home Depot on my side of town in the black.

Lately, I've been doing better, though. Haven't had to use one of the ubiquitous check-cashing services in over a year, and everything gets paid online.

The bill-paying service from my bank lists all of my payees with little check-boxes next to each. I just click on the payments I want to make, and fill in the amount. Unfortunately, this also means that "Saturn" and "Sprint" are right next to each other. And could theoretically get their amounts mixed up. And by "theoretically," I mean I did that earlier this week. Oh well, at least I won't have to worry about paying my phone bill for a while.

So now I'm off to throw a couple dummy accounts in there between "Comcast" and "Countrywide Mortgage." Because I don't really need to prepay a year of broadband.

For Brian, who sweats

Thursday, January 12
Brian, the desktop/network/printer/Novell/M$ ninja at my office, is busting his ass today, moving his boss and his boss' boss to their new offices in another part of the building. He gets to do all their heavy lifting because they are both bitches ladies, and we all know how tough it can be to move a box full of paper weights, books, and general desk flotsam if one does not have a penis. And, while not a material witness to the fact, I am pretty certain he is the owner of a penis...mostly because of the swift and efficient manner in which he moves heavy objects.

Anyway, Brian's a good guy having a shitty day. If you're someone's boss, don't be such a dick, ok?

Country Boys

Tuesday, January 10
I watched the first installment of the new Frontline series Country Boys on PBS last night. The second part is tonight and the third tomorrow. If the rest of it shapes up like the first two hours did, it's well worth watching. And while I'd TiVo it if I was in possession of that sort of technology, each episode (two hours worth) will be streamed on the PBS website the day after they are aired. Which means you can get part one there right now, though I'm having trouble getting their servers to wake up and send it. But, once you get it running, each episode is broken into 15-20 minute segments, making it very watchable while at smaller chunks.

Disclosure...sort of

In the spirit of celebrating my anniversary, let me give you kiddies a little piece of advice about being married: communication is everything.

So, I'll mention now that I just bought a microphone from Amazon in the middle of the night with a credit card that is so close to maxed out that it can barely breathe.

And if my wife doesn't know about it, it will be her own fault for not reading this.

See, it really is amazing that I've been married this long.

Ball and chain

Monday, January 9
Yesterday was my anniversary. Six years. It may not sound like a lot, but it's sort of astonishing to me that I've been married that long. On one hand, I would have never expected to still feel so much like a bumbling, naive newlywed after six years, but on the other, I never imagined that being married would become such an inherent and dominant part of my identity. I've screwed up many times, but I don't know if I would change the way things have unfolded if I could. I'm really happy to be here.

Hoppy New Beer!

Tuesday, January 3
That post title has nothing to do with anything. Other than I often feel compelled to replace words and phrases with others that sound similar. It's an outgrowth of the childish impulse to disregard things by repeating them and replacing the first syllable with "shm." As in, "Blog, shmog, I'll post something later." I call it "Shmitis." And I have it bad. Shmad.

Things I did since last I was here: switched to linux (Ubuntu, and it rules), went to Virginia, drank lots of Maker's Mark.

Alcoholism, shmalcoholism.

Things I didn't do: run that 5k on New Year's Day, feel shame for watching James Bond movies every freaking day.

Anyone else watch "The Biggest Loser" marathon on Bravo (cable is ruining me) all day yesterday? From the couch? And not fully appreciate the irony until your spouse got home and said, "Have you been there since I left for work this morning?"

Yeah, me neither.