Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Batty Abhors A Vacuum...

...cleaner. After completely trashing my basement this summer I am finally at the clean-up stage. With piles of sawdust, rust flakes and other furnace debris, I thought that the old shop-vac in the garage would be the right tool for the job. Basically just a ten-gallon barrel with a high power fan to provide suction mounted on the lid. I took out the "wet" filter (a spongy ring) and put in the "dry" one (made of filter paper. I started to clean and was really "getting down" with it. Then I looked up. The dry filter had burst, and a huge cloud of dust had entirely filled the basement.

I went and got the "good" vacuum, a Panasonic with a HEPA filter, and started over. Of course, this time I had to first pick up all the screws, wires, snips of sheet metal, etc., BY HAND so that I didn't ruin the vacuum's motor.

If someone could actually invent a worm-hole in space, I would want that baby mounted on the end of a nozzle, so that all the dust that I "bust" went somewhere else in the universe (the universe is over 95% dust- so a little more wouldn't hurt.) I say! Maybe someone has done it already- and their worm-hole is discharging in my basement!

UPDATE: I'll admit that this is not exactly the most exciting post. For someone who had a much better weekend go here.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"The Lethal-Wish Foundation...

...so make your donation today!"
-WHAT WAS THAT I JUST HEARD ON THE RADIO? There is a lethal-wish foundation? Run by Pat (love thy enemies) Robertson, no doubt...hmmmm, let me see, who would I pick? Some smarmy third-world dictator? Naaah, no one would notice, just a small box on the 23rd page of the New York Times...Dubya? No, I prefer to see him get his comeuppance slowly, inexorably, until all his drunken frat-boy smugness is squeezed out of him, in as a humiliating fashion as possible. Maybe some venal Commander of Industry- but where would one stop? Just who is a bad guy any more? Saddam Hussien? An underwear model! Osama Bin Laden? He has already gone into the martyr-icon phase, it really doesn't matter if he is dead or not. Tony Danza? Oh, sorry, that one slipped out. I don't know, I'll just tune to some other station...
"Yes, you too can help a terminally ill child with the MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION...",

Oh.

Mea Culpa.

I didn't really mean it, Mr. Danza.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Beast Within

I have been here from the begining.
Three billion years of primordal ooze.
Then untold millions of years in the sea.
Big fish eats little fish eats bacteria.
I head for shore, and go as far as my evolving limbs can carry me.
I become huge, and my golden age lasts eons.
I grow fur, and can stand the cold.
I change again.
Thousands of possibilites.
My hunger is ravenous.
I become monkey, then monkey-man, then man.
I am in the conquering hordes, with pillagers and plunderers.
The legions, the armies, the superpowers.
I am reborn in the twin towers, in a desert storm.
I will never forsake you.
I am the beast.
The beast within.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Thursday, August 25, 2005

Swedish Library Offers Books...and People!

I have to admit, I'm incredibly impressed by the idea. Why can't Americans do something like this? Or frankly, why can't anyone else non-Swedish do this?


By Comica




Comments: 2



Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Rollerblade Girl

Usually, when I visit the feral cats, I'm by myself. The cats don't like a crowd, they barely tolerate me. On one occasion, as I was leaving, I met a couple of girls on rollerblades. They saw me with Buster (who is the one feral who does like to get his head scratched) and started a conversation. They asked about the cats, if they were pets (no not really), if I fed them (some times, not all the time), how often I came here (oh, whenever), and if I had accepted the Lord Jesus as my personal savior.

Oh my. I try not to get involved in conversations like this, I have had quite enough of them for a lifetime (starting when I was about their age, by some coincidence.) I mentioned that Jesus was OK by me, but Christianity was really founded and defined by Paul. I opined to them that Paul was really not a very good man. I don't think they were up to a session of comparative early Christian beliefs, but I did indulge them. We talked some more, and then I mentioned that Jesus had never married, that I think anyone who had not been involved in a complete, committed relationship may be somewhat deficient in his life experience. One of the girls was getting a little nervous at the direction the conversation was taking. The other girl, who was emerging as the leader, reiterated her faith.

How does a mature man talk theology to a 16 year-old girl in short-shorts wearing rollerblades? She must be old enough to know of the lies and lusts and deceits of men, of the inequality and repression inherent in the sex roles of most cultures? How the largest Christian faith has absolutely no place of power in its hierarchy for women? She may have been naive, but who was I to shatter her faith? I knew that faith was really a great comfort to her.

They finally did say goodbye, and as they skated off I was left with a feeling of incompleteness. There was a clash of idea systems there that afternoon. Nothing was resolved, no one had a change of heart.
The cats, perhaps wiser than me, said nothing.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 3



Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Boney Maronie

"I got a gal named Boney Maronie,
she's as skinny as a stick of macaroni."
-Larry Williams

As a long term resident of Rock 'n Roll heaven, the poetics of Mr. Williams are beyond reproach. A bittersweet part of remembering my youth is the realization that time is an irreversible arrow. Those youthful figures and optimism contained within them has been tempered, to put it gently. I had never "got a gal" in high school, that probably explains why most of the women who I meet that I knew then actually like me a little! (or perhaps they are just being kind- it doesn't matter- I'll accept either sentiment.)

There was one girl though, Jeanie with the dark brown hair, who was just about as skinny as the aforementioned pasta, and we shared a drama class. We ended up cast as lovers in a school production of the one act play Bury the Dead by Irwin Shaw. We were playing roles that were way over our heads, yet Jeanie seemed to really enjoy rehearsing, especially when it came to the part where we held and caressed each other. I was just about crawling out of my skin, but I managed to stay cool.

Years later, we met at a holiday dance, and we ended up in each others arms again. We were both a little more substantial, but it didn't matter, it was as if the intervening years has dissipated completely. The band was "The Del Counts", a venerable local institution (they have been playing in some form or another for over 40 years.) The song they were playing was "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.
I began singing it to her. She smiled, and moved my hands from her back to a place somewhat lower. The song ended, and we both smiled.

And then she was gone. You can't live in the past, but if you are especially fortunate, you can be allowed a brief visit once in a while.

Kiss me each morning for a million years
Hold me each evening by your side
Tell me you love me for a million years
Then if it don't work out
If it don't work out
Then you can tell me goodbye

Sweeten my coffee with a morning kiss
Soften my dreams with your sigh
Tell me you love me for a million years
Then if it don't work out
If it don't work out
Then you can tell me goodbye

If you must go I won't grieve
If you wait a lifetime
Before you leave

Then if you must go- I won't tell you no
Just so that we can say we tried
Tell me you love me for a million years
Then if it don't work out
If it don't work out
Then you can tell me goodbye

-John D. Loudermilk


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1



Monday, August 22, 2005

I Remember Everything

I remember everything.
No, that cannot be...
I remember beauty, and truth, and the magic in a young woman's smile...
It is a trick, my friend, a trick of the mind.
Are you saying that it isn't so, that it never was?
It is all an illusion, my friend, an illusion.
No, that cannot be...you are no friend of mine, you seek to destroy the goodness in my life.
...truth...
Your version of truth is the illusion. You are the void, nothingness.
It isn't just me- the ancients, the holy books...they all say the same thing...
The Psalms of David is the only holy book that ever got it right, the others missed the poetry, replacing it with withered dogma.
You are wrong.
And if I am, then what will have I lost? Nothing. What will I gain if you are right? Nothing. I remember everything. I remember that people need hope to live. And what is the real alternative?


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Sunday, August 21, 2005

On Both Sides

I was on the river today- a new canoe, a solo rig, only 12' long and weighing in at a mere 33 lbs. Somehow, as one gets older, portaging is not quite the delirious fun it was when one was younger, hence the welcome reduction in weight. I live in a town named "Anoka", legend has it that it is an old Indian word meaning "on both sides"- because a river, the Rum, runs neatly through town- from the north to the south, exiting at the Mississippi at a spot where Father Hennepin once stayed on his 17th century wanderings. In a solo canoe one's attention is always on the banks ahead; are there places sheltered from the sun or wind, are there sunken hazards or speedboats to contend with? When you are out on your own, you have no one else to help you (and no one else to blame) if you end up in trouble.

On the east bank is the River Trail, visible at times, running roughly parallel to the river. On a fine day like this, the trail is full of people, you can clearly hear the conversations of the cyclists and hikers as you paddle past. There are geese, and ducks, and songbirds, and, hidden from view but there nonetheless- are raccoon, groundhog, fox, opossum, feral cats, deer and even an occasional coyote. An egret or blue heron has been known to drop in from time to time. Swamps and prairies alternate with stands of oak and pine. A dozen or more micro-habitats are on display in the two miles that I traversed.

The west bank is "private". There are many nice homes on well tended lots, some with docks, The vegetation is grass, with a variety of shade and ornamental trees and shrubs. I have been going up and down this river for twenty years and I can't recall seeing anybody or any critter on those properties. They have nearly a "twilight zone" aura of emptiness about them. I know people live there, these are premium sites, much in demand.

There is currently interest in the trail lands by real estate and construction interests, who see this land as "undeveloped". Their plans include building expensive homes, even bigger than the ones that already exist on the west bank, for "best use", meaning most short-term profit for them. The trails and natural parkland are already "best use", the city couldn't build or buy anything to replace it. There will soon be a large complex of mixed housing built nearby (on reclaimed industrial property) and the trail property will be used more than ever. Or it will be divided, denuded, developed and destroyed.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Saturday, August 20, 2005

The First Time...


Image: The Tallest Man

...I met an Icelander. Not in books, not on TV, but in the flesh. My juvenile mind had already been primed by the outlandish Journey to the Center of the Earth (both the book and the movie) and exotic scenes depicted on Ísland postage stamps. It was in the early sixties, at the Minnesota State Fair, and for some reason, my parents thought I was old enough to have some money and be allowed to experience the Midway area by myself. There were rides and games of 'skill' but the things that most intrigued me there were the sideshows- motorcycle racers going around in a giant wooden barrel, Lash LaRue and his amazing whips, the Harlem Club, with its attractive ebony dancers, and the freaks. I saw the siamese twins, boys a little younger than me, cojoined at the waist, in their sad little trailer, with a collection of toys, and a TV tuned to afternoon soap operas. The "fattest family alive" which nowadays could be reproduced in almost any city, and the odd animals- some embryonic, others walking around with an extra limb or two.

But the headliner, the act with the biggest painting on the canvas in front of the tent, was "The Viking Giant", from the land of fire and ice- Iceland. Of course I had to see him. He did not disappoint. Billed as 8'8" (probably somewhat shorter in real life, but somewhat taller in his high boots and tall cap) he was the biggest man I have ever seen. I shook his hand, I bought a souvenir ring, (a prized possesion for many years) and was generally awestruck. His movements were slow, deliberate, so as not to squish any of us little imps who swarmed around him. I was impressed, even then, by his reserved demeanor in such a strange setting. His anglicized name was Johann Petursson, he was also known as Jóhann Svarfdælingur. He was active in the U.S. until the 1980's (including a cameo in the movie Carny) when he returned to Iceland where he died in 1984. An indelible first impression, and perhaps the seed of a life-long fascination with "The Rock" and its people.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 3



Friday, August 19, 2005

The Man

"So, I heard that you went to the big rally today."
"Yeah I was there, a big crowd, all there to see The Man"
"What'd he say? Anything new?"
"Nothing new, ...stay the course, freedom, democracy..."
"How was the crowd reaction?"
"Oh, about the same as always I guess, maybe a little less enthusiastic than before."
"Did you get close, did you shake his hand?"
"I got right next to him, as close as I am to you."
"So you shook his hand?"
"No."
"Why not? He's The Man!"
"There was something on his hands."
"Something? Like what? Dirt? Food? Talcum?"
"No. Something red."
"Red? Like paint, or lipstick, or jelly?"
"No. It was blood."
"Didn't he try to wipe it off?"
"He didn't know it was there..."


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Thursday, August 18, 2005

Not Dirty Enough

So I biked to and from work the other day. It isn't anything special, I've been doing it a lot this year. When I got home I was pretty ripe, so I showered and dressed in clean clothes. About 9 pm I felt that something wasn't right. I tried to read, tried to watch TV. Nothing doing. I just wasn't comfortable in my skin, as it were. I went down to the basement to work on the ductwork some more. (I'd better get it done before it freezes next month!) I was running a particularly awkard cold air return run and was really getting into it. Then I knew what was wrong. I had been too clean. I need the grit and dust of remodeling to balance my ying with my yang. I finshed the duct, and was then ready to properly wash up and get ready for bed. Not dirty enough. Who'd a thunk it?

P.S. The above was written last week. Today I got home early, took a nap and did the same thing again. Curse this Protestant Work Ethic!


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Wednesday, August 17, 2005

full of oneself

it started with a hangnail... a little nibble, not much meat to it, but with a dash of salt, not half bad. next was the pinky finger, some honey-mustard sauce and an injection of novocaine, went down really smooth... needed a little help from a food processor for the legs, very tasty with minced garlic and ginger, simmered till yummy. buttocks braised in butter and onions, made all those tears worth it... ribs of course, done kc style, plenty garlic on those too. used the intestines for casing for the rest, and had hot dogs for a week. manage to eat the tongue, and brains too- didn't need them anymore- only the lips left, when i finish this bite i'll be all gone...


By Professor Batty




Comments: 5



Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Save Tara!

I've never been much for activism. Usually, you see me as one of those people that read disheartening news articles about sweatshops, but it never goes beyond that. I shake my head, I feel pity, and I finish my coffee.

Earlier this summer, I found an article that had been posted many months before stating that Tara, located northwest of Dublin and the seat of Irish kings from ancient times until the sixth century A.D., was in trouble. Okay, so the planned highway isn't going to go THROUGH Tara, but it will be in close vicinity.

I'm sure it would be a nice daily experience for an Irish businessman driving past; a beautiful bit of scenery in his otherwise hectic world. Yet, it makes me think that the treasure of having this ancient site, when so many have disappeared, will be cheapened somewhat with the appearance of a modern convienience.

I wrote a polite letter to the Irish gov't, or more specifically, to Mr. Dick Roche, T.D., Minister of the Environment, Heritage, and Local Government, to state my opinion on the subject. Today I received a response as polite and formal as my letter saying that the Minister had received my letter and the contents have been noted.

Noted and what? Were they laughed at? Thrown away quickly in the garbage? I feel as though my small effort may have been in vain, but it's instilled an urge for activism in even the most insignificant of causes.

Anyone else in the mood for a peaceful protest?


By Comica




Comments: 4



Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Dream Is Over

The Problem:
Filled up the car with gasoline for $35 today. The American dream of endless cheap fuel is dying fast. Even a year ago it was selling for well under $1.50 a gallon and, adjusting for inflation, it was probably as cheap as it had ever been. I've bought gasoline for much more in the UK and Iceland, but neither of those countries was built on the premise of low-cost transportation. It still hasn't hit home yet, people just put it on the charge card and it disappears into the monthly bill. There are still gobs of traffic everywhere, from 5 a.m. till 2 a.m. the next morning. Where is everybody going? Where am I going?

The answer?
Someplace else. Away from the homes we've made, the lives we lead, the cities, towns and suburbs that we built in our own self image, to cookie-cutter shopping centers, to jobs in buildings and environments so alienated from human experience that housing is zoned far away.

The dream:
A magic machine that shows the world an image of who we think we are, a teleporter that makes the outside world smaller, and makes our personal world bigger, and all of this at little cost. Almost all of us here have had to buy into that delusion. But driving isn't really fun, for the most part. Even in scenic areas you are cut off from the direct experience of reality. After 30 years of increasing inefficiency and soaring rates of consumption, we might have to wake up to the realities of what we have been doing to ourselves, our communities, and our world.

...we weren't really dreaming, but we were asleep.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ode to a Migraine

#%$@!!!!!!!


By Comica




Comments: 1



Friday, August 12, 2005

Indian, and proud of it.

August 15, Independence Day, India.


By RS




Comments: 2



Thursday, August 11, 2005

New Frontiers In Dental Hygiene

"What's the ugliest Part Of Your Body?" -Frank Zappa

Ah, the celebrated parts of your body, the shining eyes, the tawny hair, the sensuous lips, the sensitive hands, the aromatic armpits? Some things are usually better left unsaid. Not that that would deter me. I'm not talking here about your nervous Driver-Exam-Job-Interview-type B.O., just the natural scent that happens to be in and around the area where your arm joins your body. That slight, intriguing scent, that implies all sorts of potentialities. I sometimes think that those percolating pheromones are about the only way that we can naturally overcome our fear of intimacy, our olfactory sense is the most primal, after all.
The question of fur complicates things even more, but that is another topic altogether.
One of my most memorable experiences in this area involved a trip to the dentist for my bi-annual cleaning. The hygienist I had was new to this office, and had an unusual habit of reaching all the way across me to get her tools. I could smell her clothes (fabric softener), her deodorant (Secret), and then deep down, below it all, her. What could I do?. Anything I might say would be most inappropriate, or misinterpreted. I just lie there, intoxicated by her nearness, while she nimbly inserted razor-sharp scrapers into my oral cavity. I blush just to think of it! Alas! She never was seen at my dentist's office again, perhaps word had gotten out! I left that dentist for good a year later, and have never had another experience in dental hygiene quite like that. Life is Good.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Tuesday, August 09, 2005

One Hundred Gifts A Day

Went to a birthday party Saturday, I guess it was partially for me, although I've pretty much given up on my personal birthday scene. It is fun to get a gift out of the blue though, and I get plenty of those. A smile, a hug, or just an unstated shift in body language that says: "It's good to be here with you." Girls in their summer clothes. The chirping of small children as they play. The ferals, who tolerate me, watch me with interest, and don't hiss. An e-mail from the other side of the world with an unexpected (and funny) joke. A small job offer. A neighborhood group meeting where someone opens up with me one-on-one. A sense of well-being, if only for a minute or two. A bike ride through the prairie grass with the fiery sun sinking in the west. The skinny moon appearing after the sun goes down. One hundred gifts a day, given with no thought of a return. Thanks.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Monday, August 08, 2005

The Autoblogomatic™

From Flippist Industries comes a new product, guaranteed to make your life more fulfilling, rewarding and moister! The Autoblogomatic™, is now available, in a variety of designer colors, ready to enable you to compose your blog entries with only a few keystrokes, instead of laboring with hours of soul-searching and mental gymnastics. Here's how it works:

Type in a routine blog entry like this:
When I was young I had a dog named Daisy. She was a good dog, although she was not without her faults.

Not very interesting, is it? But let's push the IRONY button and we get:
When I was young, I had this dog who was my whole life, and then she ran away and was hit by a car. Life's a bitch and then she dies.

Too grim? How about a little CUTE from the Autoblogomatic™:
My childhood bestest friend in the whole world was my puppy, Daisy-doodley-doo-kins. She had big brown puppy eyes, and she would be sad when she did a no-no.

The Autoblogomatic™ also works for political content, just press the
RUSH key:
There are those among us who masquerade as our best friends, but although they may act the part, let's call them for what they are - Liberals!

This compact machine (about the size of a large refrigerator) will look right at home in your den, garage or survivalist bomb-shelter. Won't you be the talk of the Blogosphere when you fire up the Autoblogomatic© and turn your mundane drivel into award-winning, power-packed, I-lit! Send no money now! If you are not completely satisfied with your Autoblogomatic™, just return it personally to the home office in Nome Alaska, and our crack team of service professionals will be happy to beat you senseless.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 4



Sunday, August 07, 2005

Surreal Estate

I always used to be amused, reading of real estate values in New York, Toyko, California and other "hot spots". A million for a condo? $300,000 for a tear-down? Land worth $100 a square foot? It could never happen here, I chuckled.
I'm not laughing anymore. The boom has hit smalltown USA, with double digit increases in value for each of the last ten years, and even higher raises in some markets. Shacks in my town that were going for 70K only a few years ago are up over 150K. These are not humble "starter homes", these are places that should be torn down, and indeed, some with large lots have been, replaced with income property. Nice homes, nothing special, are all over $200,000. With low rate thirty (or forty) year loans available, everybody is going nuts. Condos in the trendy warehouse district have association fees of nearly $1000 a month. I used to live in the run-down warehouse district for $80 a month. Oh well, times change, and it will all work out, I suppose. When the North Star Train Corridor opens in a few years, the station will be a few blocks from my house. Hang on tight, it's going to be a wild ride.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Saturday, August 06, 2005

The writer's covenant.

Something to remember when you write:

You will play by the rules of the arena in which you write. If you write political thrillers, no magic. If you write journalism, no lies.

You will treat the readers with the respect due to someone paying your bills: you will not give anything less than your best.

Above all, you do not waste your reader's time; he is in a buyer's market of one, and you are only one thing he may read. Lose him, and he will never return.

Anyone who breaks the above rules and still sells is almost certainly literary, and thus exempt from the rules.

And somehow, while they are bought for coffeetable books, they will not be read for pleasure, which is the goal to begin with.


By RS




Comments: 0



Friday, August 05, 2005

Crank Card

Opened a letter I received in the mail today and soon realized that I had received an anonymous political mailing. It was a Xerox of both sides of a postcard, with a picture of a kitten with five American flags on one side and the legend "Just thinking of you.." The obverse side continued "...and I wanted you to know it.", followed by this typewritten message:
anoka City government,
would someone talk to our
young mayor about the overuse
of his "expressive-middle-
finger-to-the-temple" on
camera!?
It's very distracting and
offensive. It does how-ever
signal who he doesn't like.
also he needs to get people
to state where they are
from at open forums.
offended viewer
ENOUGH ALREADY ! !

Below this, on the copy, was typed:

As a "(mayor's name) for Mayor"
Sign location last election; maybe you
could do something about this situation.

Well, maybe I could. Unfortunately, the sender didn't sign a name, so I can't refer him or her for the counseling that this individual could use. Or where I could go to pull his or her local access cable TV plug. If this person really has a complaint about the Mayor, why not tell him to his face? He's been outside his house, painting it for the last week.
Note: The Mayor of Anoka is a part-time position, paying $8000 a year. During the last election, his challenger spent $29,000 of his own money to run against him. I think some people in this town have too much time and/or money on their hands.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1



Thursday, August 04, 2005

Dance Party



the party house on north fifth be there on saturday music
food and tunes and dancing things got wild and Jr. Walker
and the All Stars are playing on the box then hard boiled
eggs appear and are gently made part of the dance rolling
from foot to foot caressed so as not to break them and so
then Barb hops on top and squats and clucks like the wild
hen the egg dance created and everyone who was there will
never ever forget the crazy dance with egg and the memory
is still hot thirty years later of crazy Barb's egg dance




Image: Tim Rummelhoff


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Wednesday, August 03, 2005

File Cabinets THIS Big (Five Days a Week)

At 6:00 AM, five days a week, a little object would sing in my ear, and I would attempt to chuck it out the window. Five days a week, I would forget there were stubborn screens on my bedroom windows. Go downstairs, forget to feed the cats,
turn on the computer, chug a cup of tea with always too much lemon (the way I fancy it). Five days a week, I forgot it was too early and that nobody else was on the instant messenger but me.

Five days a week, I'd fall asleep in the living room, hoping Mom would allow me to stay home. "Just today," I thought, "I'll work so hard tomorrow!" Five days a week, she wouldn't fall for it either.

The "new" jail is what they call it, although it's the same intimidating monstrosity just with a different name. Everyday it was the same routine, walking through secure door after secure door and taking the elevator up to the fifth floor. Sometimes the
inmates would look up from their work in the kitchen to see Mom's sluggish shadow walking dutifully behind her. They offered us coffee, which I never accepted. Why? Because we worked on the fifth floor, and the bathroom is on the fourth floor. I couldn't go anywhere unless accompanied by Mumsy, so why take her away from work?

I must've purged a gajillion files (at least, that's how many it seemed like in my hazy state of mind) from file cabinets THIS big (this has turned into a fishing story), and then I went home to my comfy bed, and the alarm clock lay defeated beside of it.

The work wasn't difficult. I often had days off, even though I only worked four hours a day at the max. Now that school in the big city is beckoning me again, I'm wishing I had done more, instead of complaining. I mean, after I got home, Mother was still there, drinking her coffee and typing on her new-fangled computer. Who needs a mother to instill a guilt trip?


By Comica




Comments: 2



Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Worst Job Ever

It is hot 'n humid here. This kind of atmospheric torture always reminds me of the worst job I ever had, hitting pieces of steel. It was the summer of '68, peace, love, and power to the people, right on. Somehow I missed that scene by about 2500 miles, so I settled for slave labor at Whirlitronics, a strange little shop devoted to the arcane art of making lawn mower blades. It was August, brutally hot, I took this job to save some money for college, and to get away from my previous job, making bulk ice cream and fruit slurries for a cafe/soda shop. That was actually a pretty good job, but it paid only $1.10 an hour and was on the other side of town. The blade job paid double that, and was only a couple miles away.

We'd start at 6:30 in the morning, to escape most of the heat. I was paired with some alky on the other side of a small hydraulic clamp. The clamp would hold a rotary lawnmower blade, which had been stamped and sharpened and needed to be straightened before it went to the heat treating plant. We each had a large adjustable wrench whose jaws had been welded open about 1/4 inch; this was used to bend the blade up. The top of the wrench had a large knob of steel welded on it; this was used to bend down blades that were too high. Almost all the blades were too high. You really had to smack it a few times to get it to fit the measuring jig. My alky partner, usually hungover, didn't give a rip. Those blades all came back, one side out of tolerance. The alky-man finally fell down drunk one night, broke his wrist, and I was left to work alone. One thousand blades a day, two a minute, for eight hours. By noon the temperature in there was pushing 90. My arms felt like they were going to fall off, and I found myself wondering: "Where are the 'tronics' in this place?" We were working on a stone age level, while astronauts were cavorting in outer space.

At the end of August the regular employees went on strike. I quit to go college, and about six months later I received a check for back pay for the raise the strikers won. That was about the only good thing I got out of that job. What was your worst job?


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1



Monday, August 01, 2005

The Young 'Uns

The young 'uns returned from the BWCA, having gorged on scenery and blueberries. Their week in the wilderness seemed to suit them, the glow of youth showing in their skin and mien. As soon as they are back in civilization, they return to their internet and I-pod pursuits. I cooked a barbeque in their honor yesterday, and the week ended with them slipping off, one by one, to return home- leaving the Minnesota paradise behind.

Some people just don't get "roughing it", and can't leave their engines and motors behind. The 'kids' get it, and as long as they, and others like them do, there is still hope for the natural world.


By Professor Batty




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