About me

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Feeding myself

Feeding myself
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 484

OK, so I had a lot of travel last week and a half. An overnight trip to San Diego, perfectly timed to risk exposure to the new swine flu, then an overnight trip to DC, all followed by a day trip to Boston. Pretty much the usual when you're in the business of being smart and pretty. Maybe more the latter than the former.

So the weekend before all that started, I had the smart idea of making a big stew of field peas and rice with a little onion and cabbage. Yeah, I forgot to add potatoes and carrots, but I like me some peas and rice something fierce. My intent was to have a stash of food ready for the microwave because I knew the travel would leave me too tired to make anything those brief periods I would be home.

The yummy stew was created in a large iron pot. I generally only cook in iron. The cabbage was a mistake, not bad enough to ruin the stew, but enough to make me reach for extra Texas Pete to mask the taste. I don't really care for cooked cabbage, but I though a little wouldn't hurt that much, and it might make the peeps who fuss about my diet restrain themselves.

The trips and the work progress without event. I was lucky on the travel, though without upgrades. I'm changing my preferred carrier because of some 15 excursions to Boston this season. No, I do not know why American has so many direct flights between Raleigh and Boston, but my butt is glad they do.

The point is, it all went well, and I had myself a slow weekend, visiting the lake twice for extended precisions naps. (This would not have been the case had #1 Son communicated his health and let me know he was puking his innards out, all home alone, but he didn't, and I passed the weekend in ignorant bliss, followed by a very irritating Monday when I found out.) There's a little stew left, it smells alright, it tastes alright, and it makes my Monday evening dins.

Today, I awoke at 6, which is about usual, but not feeling about right. By 10, I recognized that I had food poisoning. So much for the health benefits of vegetarian cooking. By noon, I knew the source. Yeah, I puked chicken broth in the laundry room trash can. Like the idiot I am, I started a load of laundry during a brief spell of feeling better.

Now, at 7 in the evening, I've had one boring day, wasted a day of PTO, spent a few hours thinking I had the early symptoms of swine flu, reactivated my Twitter account (the name is jimpenny, if you care to follow), and finally feel sufficiently well to live now here at bed time.

I might actually look forward to going to work tomorrow.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Game

The game
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 1415

I am pretty sure I am in a distinct minority here, that being that I haven't attended a sporting event since grade school. In grade school, I followed the Yankees with my daddy. He took me to the high school basketball games when I was in grade school, if it were not a school night. That all ended as I approached high school. The bullying. The macho nonsense. The pecking order. I really didn't feel that strong connection with all those thing I saw the animals doing on the farm as they waited to be taken to the slaughterhouse.

In 1971, I matriculated at Chapel Hill after having missed sporting events throughout high school. I graduated in 1975 with my nonattendance status intact. It's not that I had all that much against sports stuff. I just had other things that attracted me more. Besides, there was no way I was going to endure the monstrous crowds, much less the traffic. In addition, I could catch snippets now and again on TV, not that I recall sitting through an entire game since I watched the Yankees play baseball with my dad.

So what's the buzz today? I'm thinking of sitting up for the last game of the NCCA playoffs. Chapel hill is playing. I think Wisconsin is the other team, though I don't which school in Wisconsin it is. Surely, Wisconsin has more than one. The thing is that I recently discovered that the game comes on at 9 PM today. I am generally very close to my pillow by then, if not already there. We'll see how long I last tonight.

To prepare for the evening, I took care of some adult life maintenance this afternoon, which included grocery shopping, blogging, walking on a treadmill, and three naps. However, none of the naps count as club naps, or in the case, game naps, because they didn't occur after 3 PM. I also turned down dins with Bro and Samo because it was going to be so late in the evening. After wings and beer all evening, I'd need to spend the night out there.

So here I am, watching the History Channel and a show about cheese, waiting for the game to start, holding back on nibbling the pretzels and dip, and readying an interesting set of essays from Jennifer Layton from her recent book, Trap Door Confessional. Take Erma Bombeck, add several more human dimensions, translate it all to the 21st century, and there we are. Not a bad read, and sometimes, a rolling on the floor funny ready.

8:53 Lil called. She's not interested in watching either, though the pretzels and dip got her attention. I need to find the station, and give up on this history of cheese making.

8:56 Made a fresh Cuba Libre, and fetched the pretzels and dip. Sent Bro a text asking about which channel. He says WRAL on TWC's channel 3. I was already there on a hunch. I dislike the national commentators. They don't have the proper respect.

9:00 The game starts with a rock vid? I have been out of it way too long. WRAL has CBS commentators! This is so wrong. I should find a radio station, but I don't have a radio here. Probably too la;te to find one to stream. These guys do not understand which is the important team.

9:11 I suppose when a game starts at 9, it means that people start running their mouths about the game at 9. The way they talk, you'd think they had something to say. And is anyone asking about the long shorts the players are wearing? What happened to SHORTS???

9:16 How long does it take to start one game? I am bored out of my skull. I don't remember if I took the simvastatin tonight. Twitter is down for unscheduled maintenance. Someone is making memories.

9:21 Introduction of the players. I just realize that we're in Detroit, which means that Michigan is the erstwhile home team. Meanwhile, Chapel Hill is Tobacco Road? I wonder if that dipshit ever even read Caldwell's book? Not likely.

9:24 Gotta retip after three seconds. What happens when a player goes flying over the side of this elevated floor. Chapel Hill takes the tip.

9:26 Run and gun. I had forgotten the Glorious Four Corners Offense was no longer allowed. The shot clock is an abomination. This is Michigan State. Why is the University of North Carolina being forced to play a land grant college?

9:32 7 to 17, Carolina up. Could we call it now and get those shorts corrected?

9:37 7 to 21. Michigan is fouling right and left. At this rate, we'll be done early. How do y'all deal with the constant roar of the crowd? And here we go with the overhead camera! I wish someone would shoot whoever made that decision.

9:44 Chevy ad indicating Chevy has better mileage than Honda. Followed by iPhone ad with an ap for that. I gave up the history of cheese for this? I need more rum.

9:47 New Cuba Libre. Going to mute to read an essay from Jennifer's book. Wait a min...a palming violation? In this game? Meanwhile, Jennifer is six blocks into a marathon. Mute off.

9:51 Buzzer beathers?

9:54 16:36. Mute on. Carolina leads. Years ago on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was watching the end of a game between, I think, Chapel Hill and State with my papa. He was a State fan, as was most of the family. I was a student at that other school. Chapel Hill was down by some 17 points with a half dozen seconds left in the game. Papa says, “What can you do in six seconds?” Well, there was no shot clock then, and Carolina made those six seconds last some half hour in real time. They also won. This was not the close game that motivated my bro to put his fist through the ceiling. Mute off. (These announcers sound a lot better muted. News 14 is not carrying the game.)

10:01 3rd foul for Green and a rebroken nose on the foulee. That might have been worth it.

10:04 Twitter is back up, but FB2Twitter is still down.

10:09 Taking a break from the roaring to catch up on Pam's House Blend. It appears that the guy who narrated the Bible CDs has been entrapped by the police. He was soliciting a girl under the age of 15. Well, the girl was a middle aged police officer, but on the net it doesn't matter. I suppose Focus on the Family has special training for these idiots.

10:21 Half time. Up by 23. That'd be enough just to call it. They won't. Meanwhile, the Fail Whale is up on the Twitter screen. I actually like that. It's unreasonable to think that your code will always work. It's quite reasonable to expect that it'll fail now and again, and plan for it. I suspect the Twitter coders also learn form those moments.

10:35 Blessed half-time break. I doubt I see the end of this. However, Jennifer, on her way to a marathon, has learned to pace herself. The people on the TV are boring even on mute. What's on Sci Fi? Star Trek!!! Whoever is in charge of blush in this episode should take it easy a little more.

10:48 The Star Trek episode is better than The Game. For that matter, today's laundry was better than the game. Of course, we do have new front loaders downstairs in the laundry room. An FB blogger just asked if the accidental nose break made up for the long shorts. I told her it would have if blood had been involved.

11:01 Back to the game just in time for a commercial. Mercedes Benz. Go figure. Star Trek is over. Something odd replacing it. A car wash without the rinse, followed by a Lowes ad. These guys should hire an ad agency, or at least listen to someone with an ounce of creativity. Back to the game. Bummer.

11:10 I have not missed a damn thing in the last 40 years. This mess is as dull as it ever was, though they now dress more poorly. Is this formalized warfare, as I heard a psychologist describe it all long ago? I hope not. The terrorists will win again if it is.

11:12 I'm outta here.

My new best bud

My new best bud
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 285

I must shout this from the rooftop! It's a hold the presses and alert the media moment! I have a new best bud, and this is an open letter to him.

There you were, sitting in the top exit at Mission Valley, waiting to turn right onto Avent Ferry Road. The right lane, which is a right turn only, was open, but you waited because it wasn't right for you. The second lane, which is a go straight or turn right lane, was open, but you waited because it also wasn't right for you. You wanted the fourth lane, though you'd settle for the third lane, both of which turned to the left, and both of which you could make work for you.

You waited and waited, as I sat in the third lane wondering if you might choose an alternative to claiming your rightful place in the left turn lane. You did, but you didn't choose as I might have expected. No, you pay more taxes than the rest of us. You turned into the second lane, stopped, filed your nails, backed up traffic half-way to Angier, and made everyone wait until the bus driver yielded and permitted you to pull into the left turn lane.

I wish I could have a license like yours.

Do understand that when I am Queen of the Realm, your sorry bohuncus would be strapped into that lane you blocked, and everyone you delayed would have the opportunity to mash you flat into the pavement.

Of course m'mama would just use the 50 caliber machine gun she always wanted mounted on her car for moments like that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hsoj and the deer

Hsoj and the deer
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 586

Many years ago, in a piney forest, on a sandy land, there lived a family in a group of families. It was very much like a village is today. Mommies. Daddies. Lots of children, with the children running and playing, but there were not any things like cars, trucks, telephones, and electricity.

In one family of this village, there lived a young boy, a good if somewhat wild boy, and his name was Hsoj. Hsoj like to run and play with the other boys, and he also liked learning how to fish and hunt with his dad. They spent long days and nights searching the pools of the river for the biggest fish. Hsoj felt very grown up when his mom made dinner with a fish he had caught.

Hsoj also enjoyed spending long afternoons by himself, fishing by the river. His mom worried about him being alone by the water, but he had learned how to be safe there from his dad, and he followed what his dad taught carefully. In time, his mom learned to trust him alone by the river, but she always worried a little. That's what moms do.

During the summer while fishing in the river, Hsoj notice a pool under an Oak by a sand bank sloping toward the river where the deer often came to drink. Seeing the deer reminded Hsoj of a story his dad told late one night, and Hsoj built a plan that would have worried his mom. Well, it worried his mom when she finally found out.

One day in the late summer and early fall when the leaves were just beginning to think about falling, Hsoj was fishing by the oak, thinking about how wonderful it would be to bring home a deer instead of a fish. His family would be so proud of him, and there would be enough food to share with all the people of the village. More important, Hsoj would have his own story to tell.

With his knife in his belt and his spear in hand, Hsoj climbed the tree and crawled out on a limb until he was over the spot where the deer drank. He waited, he waited, and he waited some more. Birds, crickets, and finally frogs sang to him. As the sun faded and his mom started to worry, a yearling deer with a limp stepped to the pool, and Hsoj dropped from his limb, knocked the deer over, and pushed the spear through to deer with a strength he had never felt before.

Hsoj became the hunter, scared and strong, pushing the spear through the deer, breaking the point off in the ground. The deer stood, taking Hsoj with it. Hsoj wrapped his left arm around the deer's neck, pulled back the head, and pulled the knife through the deer's neck with his right hand. They both fell motionless in the wet sand.

How Hsoj dragged the deer back to the village remains a mystery, but he earned the story he gets to tell, though his mom still does not like to hear it.

Fast forward 500 years...

Out for a ten mile run on a spring afternoon, I notice a glimmer in the ditch of a still undeveloped Johnston County. I stop to check out the glimmer, and there in the sand of the eroding ditch is a spear head that I'll wear for years to come.

Yes, this is a true story.

How to solve the gay marriage problem

How to solve the gay marriage problem
Copyright 2009, Jim Penny
Word count: 665

Today, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the state law that forbade same sex marriage was unconstitutional. The ruling was unanimous. The corner of the world that covers queer news has been active, to say the least. The other corner of the world that covers why queers are going to hell has also been quite active, with more than one fundamentalist announcing another sign of the end of time, and suggesting that now a man may marry a houseplant in Iowa.

I would site a few references, but you can get all you need from Google without my help. If you need a better place to start, I suggest you go to Pam's House Blend where you can find what you need to reach the web sites that interest you.

However, this has all been discussed to death already. You either like it or or you hate it; there are few people in the middle on this one. However, if gay marriage gives you heartburn, I suspect you're going to need additional Prilosec sooner than later. Here is my suggestion for dealing with this problem.


Let us define marriage as something the church does so that couple can screw without going to hell. The church may apply the filters it sees fit to maintain the purity of the church and it's heaven. If you and your intended mate meet the specifications defined by the church, the church may marry you. Although this marriage infers that you'll be headed to heaven because you're not living in sin, you get nothing from the state. The marriage is all about going to heaven. If you want legal things, you need to see the next paragraph.

Civil Union

Let us define civil union as something the state does to recognize the union of two people who love each other. The state may not deny the right to a civil union to any citizen. The civil union granted by one state will be recognized by all other states. With the civil union, you get all the legal things like inheritance, joint tax, hospital visitation, but you do not get to go to heaven. If you want to go to heaven, you must find a church that will accept you.

What's good here

What is good here is that the separation of church and state leaves both to do what is right for them. If the Mormons want to bring back polygamy, and some never let it go, they are welcome to it. If a splinter group of queer Mormons decided to accept polygamous same sex marriage, they can do that. If a Baptist church gets more than a little hot and bothered by the snakes it uses, parishioners could marry one. It's all cool.

The state, on the other hand, will grant civil unions to citizens with all the rights and privileges therein, as defined by law. If space aliens land, settle in, and start to get frisky with the locals, the space aliens can become a part of the tax paying citizenry, visit the local magistrate, and start filing join tax returns with the rest of us. If at some point, we determine that house ferns are sentient beings capable of loving and giving relationships, the law can be extended to permit those marriages as well, though it'll probably be a while before we can go green.

What's bad here

What's bad here is that there are more idiots in this world than I can shake a stick at, and some of those idiots carry a substantial degree of influence. Why in the world an expression of love between two people should elicit such unnecessary expressions of hate is simply beyond my comprehension. We got over it with the Indians. We got over it with the Blacks. We got over it with the Mexicans. It's time to just plain get over it, people, and move on to some real problems.