Looking for writing-related posts? Check out my new writing blog, www.larrykollar.com!

Sunday, December 30, 2007 9 comments


swollen right kneeI must have whacked my knee a good one the other day at the chicken houses. It started hurting a bit the night before last; it woke me up around 4:30 and I took a couple Advil to make it quiet down a bit. This evening, it was noticeably swollen and Mrs. Fetched finally realized I had some issues with it. She’s made me all comfy in the living room, dropped an ice pack on the knee, and even ran an extension cord so my MacBook would have da jooz.

I can kind of walk on it if I keep it straight. If I don't move the joint, it doesn't hurt that much.

The pain isn’t worth two lousy days away from the chickens. If I’d done it earlier, and gotten a week off? Maybe.

Saturday, December 29, 2007 6 comments


All I can say to this is: don't I wish!!!

Cinnamon rolls

Continuing the holiday baking series…

homemade cinnamon rolls

I wonder how many will be left tomorrow morning. I told The Boy in passing that I was making them, thinking maybe he’d have an incentive to hang around the house tonight. Oh well… his loss!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 7 comments

Turning, turning…

It is said "the wheels of justice turn slowly." But turn they do, and they came around late last week for The Boy.

Back around the end of February, while The Boy was on probation for his little boo-boo, he got busted again for underage drinking — less than a week after he finished a week in the cooler for his first probation violation (failed drug test). The mere fact of getting arrested was another probation violation, and that one cost him a month in the Cinder Block Hilton.

As I said earlier, we got the notice last week: his arraignment is Jan. 9. We told him at the time that he could either save himself some money and hire an attorney (as if he wasn’t having issues paying the last one) or try his luck with the public defender. Given that “live for the moment” is a rather tame way of describing his attitude, guess which way he went?

Hi ho, hi ho, off we go. We actually got to talk to the younger partner in the PD’s office — he’s so fresh out of law school that there’s still pieces of shrink-wrap clinging to him. That’s not a completely bad thing: a new guy is more likely to be idealistic and try harder. The senior lawyer wasn’t there, but he used to be a DUI lawyer before taking the public defender gig, so underage drinking isn’t foreign territory for him. They should have a good idea of what the DA is going to offer in a plea arrangement in a few days; with any luck, he might get away with a smallish fine and six months of probation. The joker in the deck is that the cop didn’t give The Boy a breathalyzer or a blood test, so any evidence they have is fairly flimsy. If J, whom he was riding with, can’t be found to testify, all they have is an assumption (but if J does show up, he’s Up The Creek). Another helpful item is that he took a DUI class and drug awareness course after the arrest, so it’s not likely he’ll have to go through them again.

It would have been fun to let The Boy get to know the federal judge that Mom worked for back in the day.

Monday, December 24, 2007 16 comments

A Christmas Story

[I’ve wanted to write this story for over a year now. Olga, my B&D Muse, finally took pity on me and let me get it down.]

Santa Claus lives in a mobile home in Lumpkin County, Georgia.

I suppose if you want peace and quiet all year, that would be the thing to do: spread rumors about the North Pole, or Finland, or Spain (Spain?), then slip away to a modest place in the country — but I’m getting ahead of myself. The thing about Santa is that he’s never caught out. If you see him, it’s because he wants you to. Or knows you need to.

My wife was running a little food distribution ministry out of the church last year, and we got a request one Saturday afternoon. “Whatever you have is fine,” the caller told her, “but if you can put in a bag of flour, we would really appreciate it.” No problem there; Mrs. Fetched always buys me extra flour for holiday baking, so I added a bag to our box of canned goods and fresh fruit. As usual, she was busy with a chicken house issue, so I volunteered to take the box over. I really wasn’t in a frame of mind to deal with people that day, but anything is better than chicken house duty.

The directions were pretty clear: up GA400, left at the light with the Exxon station, first right, 1.2 miles down on the right, look for a trailer with a porch. The road was one of those windy, narrow little country lanes that were great for motorcycling. The first thing I noticed was that the place was kept up much better than most places we took food. The yard was kind of scraggly-looking, as are most North Georgia yards that don’t get intensive care, but the trailer itself looked to be in much better shape than its age (given away by the design) would suggest. The walkway to the porch was lined with pansies, and a half dozen brilliant poinsettias stood guard at the corners of the porch.

“It’s open,” a man called from the porch as I approached the door. “Just push.” Smart move on their part, I thought; you don’t have to put down your stuff to get the door. The man behind the voice was reclining in what looked like a canvas beach chair on the porch; it was fairly warm for early December and the sun was doing a pretty good job of keeping the porch warm. He was wearing some old-fashioned red flannel get-up, open at the top, and the long sleeves pushed up to his elbows. A furry gent he was; his arms were covered with white curly hair, and the same peeked out of the top of his — jumpsuit? pajamas? Full beard, long straight white hair. He was a big guy, but not really fat, he could stand to lose a few pounds but so could I.

“How ya doin’?” I said. The basic pleasantries.

“Pretty good. Drop that box off in the kitchen and come sit down. The missus will have some hot cocoa ready in a few.” His accent, like mine, told me he wasn’t from around here originally — but it wasn’t the same. It had an almost-upper Michigan lilt to it.

The door to the trailer proper was open — either they like it cool, or don’t mind wasting fuel, I thought — so I nodded and went on in.

Stepping into this place was a little strange. I could have sworn it was a single-wide trailer, but it looked much larger on the inside. It was mostly dark; a few strategic candles provided beacons to warn of reefs of furniture, but I found the way to the kitchen more by following the scent of cocoa than by sight. By contrast, the kitchen was well-lit, and it looked bigger than the one in our house. Something was really messing with my perceptions in this place. But the lady of the house was going full speed ahead in there, and the oven and stove were heating the house all by themselves. She, like her husband, seemed neither fat nor thin, although her billowy apron mostly hid her shape. Her hair was white, streaked with black or deep brown, and pulled back in a bun. She had aged well; the wrinkles added a sweetness to her face that would have left most middle-aged women looking forward to growing old.

She smiled at me, and gestured toward an empty place on the counter, just big enough for the box. I know enough about cooking to know that sometimes you can’t spare much concentration, so I didn’t think much of her not saying anything. “You look pretty busy,” I said. “You want some help putting this up?”

Her smile widened with amusement, and she shooed me out of the kitchen… I felt like a kid being chased out by his grandmother. It was such an odd feeling, and her smile was so contagious, that I ended up running and laughing the last few steps to the porch.

The old man was grinning around an unlit pipe. “You tried to help her, didn’t you? The missus is kind of old-fashioned that way — she appreciates you wanting to help her out, I’m sure, but she just doesn’t let men in her kitchen. She’ll probably put some extra cream in your cocoa to say thanks, though. It’ll just be a minute, take a load off your mind.” He pointed to the other deck chair, so incongruous among the Christmas decorations.

I sat and looked at the guy again, pipe and all, and shook my head. “I’m sure you’ve heard this a zillion times, but you’re a dead ringer for —”

He took the pipe out of his teeth, winked, and nodded. “I look like me.”

“I —” I laughed. “Good one. I’ll bet you’re the best Santa I’ve seen, though.”

“Of course I am. Didn’t I bring you that model airplane when you were twelve?”

My grin, and my lower jaw, dropped to my lap. I wanted to jump to my feet, but my legs had taken a holiday of their own. I settled for gaping and stammering, “But — you — what —”

He put the pipe down and chuckled. “The Big Guy knows everything. But you… there’s a lot of things you want to know, right?”

“Yeah.” I opened my mouth to continue, but everything I wanted to say, everything I’d ever wanted to ask a legend if ever I met one, had flown away like so many reindeer. The arrival of “the missus,” carrying a tray with two mugs and two plates, rescued me. She served us, silent as ever, then watched me expectantly. To stall for time, I took a sip of cocoa — it was just the right temperature — and then goggled at her. “This is fantastic,” I said. She smiled, patted my cheek (she had a way of making me feel like I was five again) and went back inside.

“She makes good cocoa,” Santa said (I had to accept it), “but wait ’til you try her cookies.” He glanced at my plate, sitting on a small table — almost a stand — next to my chair. They looked — and smelled — and tasted — like a choco-holic’s concept of heaven.

“Wow. What does she put in those?”

“Magic, of course,” Santa winked again. “That’s why you won’t gain two pounds or sugar-crash.”

The cookies and the cocoa worked their magic… or perhaps it was only the normal choco-buzz. Either way, after another sip of cocoa, I regained my composure. Or as much of it as I could under the circumstances. “Why here? If you’re not going to live in the Arctic, why not the beach? I don’t get it.”

“I’m everywhere, of course. And right where I need to be.

“I’m in the hearts of parents who forgive their naughty children. I’m there when the ‘heartless’ businessman leaves a box full of presents at the doorstep of a low-income apartment when nobody’s looking. I’m riding with the good ol’ boys when they pull people out of ditches on icy days. I’m helping the kid at the grocery store keep his balance when he gets things off the top shelf for somebody’s grandmother.

“And… I’m there when a temperamental writer gets frustrated with all the commercialism and just wants a quiet holiday with his family.”

“But what about you?” I asked. “Don’t you get fed up with what marketers make you into just to sell some junk?”

He shrugged. “I know who I am. You know who I am. Everyone who believes in me knows who I am. I don’t sweat the commercial part — for everyone who’s selling stuff to turn a buck, there’s others trying to spread Christmas spirit. The world’s a big place, and I can’t be everywhere — I never could. When you delegate, you have to accept that the results aren’t always going to be exactly what you want.”

I laughed. “Go with the flow, then?”

“No,” and for the first time he looked serious. Here was the other side of Santa that I’d always imagined; the spirit that chided the naughty ones and urged them to rise above themselves. “Going with the flow means giving into human nature, and not caring about anyone but yourself. Swim against the current, man! Bring aid and succor to those who need it, and not just in December. And be kindest of all to those whose very presence annoys you — the Hummer driver on the road, the rude old lady — or the little girl who tells you she hates you. Remember?”

I did: she had said that to me one Sunday after church. I blurted, “Well I don’t hate you, I love you.” She stood there, stunned for a moment, then hugged me and said “No I don’t.” And she was a changed kid from then on.

“Sometimes, the naughty ones — kids or adults — are just trying not to be hurt. A kind word at the right time… well, it can be a Christmas miracle.

“Well, you knew all this already, but sometimes you need a reminder. This is a busy time of year, and it’s easy to be caught up by trivia. Finish your cocoa — look, you’ve hardly touched it — and take a cookie on the road.”

My cup was nearly full, but I could have sworn I’d been drinking it all along. It was simply too good to put down. But I drank it down, and took a cookie as instructed. “Y’know,” I said, “something just occurred to me. Why bring you food? I don’t mind — I mean, the reward was more than double — but do you need it?”

Santa laughed; the jolly old elf was back. “Of course not. But I know of a family nearby that needs it, and won’t ask for help. It will show up in their kitchen like it was always there, and it won’t run out for a while.”

I stood, and Mrs. Claus came back out, smiling quietly as always. She kissed my cheek and took up the dishes.

“Don’t you talk?” I asked her.

She grinned, and Santa answered. “Of course she does. But the wisest are always the most quiet. Remember the guy in the Earthsea books? ‘To hear, one must first be silent.’ It’s true.”

I nodded; there really wasn’t much I could say to that. I bowed — it seemed to be the right thing to do — then took my leave. The wisdom and reassurance weren’t the only gifts they had given me; the road itself was another. I’ve ridden down it several times over the last year — and the trailer is there, but different now. Weedy trees obscure it, and it looks abandoned and seriously run-down, but that’s just protective camouflage. I know someone lives there. They probably won’t answer the door if I knocked, but they’re there alright — whoever needs them will see them.

Santa Claus lives in a mobile home in Lumpkin County, Georgia.

I’ve been to his place. His wife makes the best cocoa.

Saturday, December 22, 2007 15 comments

Pushing the Envelope (updated with photo)

The Boy has been back to pushing the envelope just as far as he can, lately. After the incident a couple weekends ago, he’s been around… oh, about 2/3 of the time. Along the way, he managed to hurt his shoulder; Mrs. Fetched took him to the doc yesterday to have it looked at. While they were there, they ran into EJ, one of The Boy’s old friends that none of us have seen for a while and one of the few we like having around (even Daughter Dearest is OK with him) — it turns out he works at the hospital (in housekeeping), so we brought him home with us. He’s been around most of the weekend.

Because of EJ, Mrs. Fetched decided The Boy could run him home today. Unfortunately, somehow Snippet got involved and hooked up with them. Because of some logistics related to where EJ lives, and where Snippet lives, she ended up coming home with The Boy. So (until I go to bed), she’s sleeping in the guest bedroom. Mrs. Fetched seems to be much more sanguine about the situation than I am; she’s snoring away while I’m trying to get into a sleeping frame of mind. At least I was able to get The Boy to go upstairs instead of starting a movie at 11:30 p.m.

Eh. It hasn’t been all about The Boy today. We had a Christmas dinner that can’t be beat and there’s even a dozen of my rolls left. Turns out my niece is once-bitten twice-shy, and managed to not scarf down a bunch like she did last year. The problem is, with all the rain we've been getting lately, I haven't been able to walk off the feasts… and it’s starting to stay on me. Oh well, the five pounds last put on are the easiest to get off. I stuck with non-meat items for supper, just bread and veggies (and one slice of pie), which tend to digest a little more quickly for me.

We’ll see what happens.

Friday, December 21, 2007 4 comments

This has potential!

Via Man Eegee…

The Lakota people are seceding from the US, taking what appear to be large chunks of five states with them:

Map of the Lakota Nation

I’d like to get some popcorn and watch the fun, but this could just as easily be either boring or horrifying. It’s also a little unsettling, as (much) later episodes of FAR Future will cover the balkanization of America, including the native nations. Once again, reality is jumping the gun on me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 8 comments

Pre-holiday countdown

Tomorrow is Virtual Friday. One more day, and I’m outta there for what’s left of the year! Hooray! Our department is having a little wing-ding tomorrow after work, which makes it a great day to start the Christmas madness season in earnest.

So I figured I’d bite the bullet. I was wrapping up work, and told Mrs. Fetched, “I’ll be around the whole week. If you need me in the chicken houses, whatever.”

“Daughter Dearest will be off too,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll need you.” Hooray again!

We videotaped DD’s chorus last night, then one of the band moms lined us up to tape the band concert tonight. We didn’t have the ladder last night, so we had to set up the cameras down front… as in, the bare minimum distance where I could zoom out and get the entire choir. The band mom made sure we had the ladder tonight, so we were able to set up on top of the office area (unless someone’s wearing stilts, there’s no way they could walk in front of us up there). After setting up, my phone beeped up a reminder about the Christmas party at the local bike shop. I got an invite, I suppose since I’d bought a bike there this year, and had completely forgotten about it. Mrs. Fetched said, “Go on, I can handle both cameras. For what you spent there, you need to go there.” (Like I didn’t buy one of the lowest-priced road bikes.) But… Hooray Number Three! “Just be back by 7:30 so we can pack up.” Of course, they had a sale going on; gloves were 20% off but I didn’t see a pair that jumped off the rack and promised to keep my hands warm all winter.

I got an unexpected early Christmas gift: The Boy (who has been in & out a lot lately) left a 7oz hip flask in the back of Mrs. Fetched’s car. It didn’t smell at all, but I washed it out anyway then added rum. Of course, nothing comes without a price — he ended up following through on his plan to take the speaker box out of my car, and still hasn’t put the back seat back together. I wanted the extra trunk space anyway, and was thinking about putting a pair of low-profile woofs under the seat. Not like I’m taking the car anywhere right away; the front tires are worn out.

As long as I’m not doing anything else after tomorrow, I’ll be devoting some serious time to writing. I want to put the final tweaks on a short story (The Boy’s) and send it around too. There will be a couple of Christmas parties along the way, just to make things interesting.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 9 comments

FAR Future, Episode 17

Happy New Year! Kind of.

Monday, January 14, 2013
Froze in the Middle

The Mayan calendar began a new cycle on December 21. It’s not exactly off to a wonderful start for a lot of people.

The rural poor (and not-so poor) are huddling together, cutting firewood, and pooling their other resources to stay relatively warm this winter. The urban poor tend to live in apartment buildings, which are easier to heat, and they have an established public assistance infrastructure to help them out. And suburbia?

Ouch. You’ve seen the stories, and I hope you haven’t lived them. The lucky ones still have jobs that cover their heat and transportation costs (if little else). The people in the Foreclosure Moratorium program (FMA) get a break on the mortgages, but they’re still on the hook for food and heat. Many suburbanites aren’t aware of other assistance programs, or how to apply if they do… or prefer to avoid them (pride, ideology, etc.). So even when the house payment isn’t an issue, some are deciding it isn’t worth the hassle. They mail their keys to the bank and move in with relatives (whether rural or not).

Suburbia’s thinning out, in more ways than one. Abandoned houses don’t last too long now: first the furniture disappears up their neighbors’ chimneys, then wood trim turns into fuel and carpet & padding goes on walls (extra insulation), then interior walls turn into firewood, then upstairs flooring, walls, the roof… and of course, the wiring gets stripped for the copper. After a week or so, there isn’t much left but pieces of sheetrock, vinyl siding, the heat pump, and other large appliances (or the remnants, after the motors get stripped for copper too). Houses that don’t get abandoned sometimes catch fire when people aren’t smart about using their fireplaces, or try using the oven as a firebox. So between strippers and fires, empty lots are appearing fairly quickly. I’ll bet some forward-thinkers are already clearing them up for gardens.

Naturally, this isn’t doing the financial “industry” any good. CWM was offering mortgagees in the FMA program some assistance with heating bills to keep people from giving up. That’s basically good business… an intact house is worth something; a lot with a pile of debris is worth less than the lot itself (since it has to be cleared). Other companies are trying a sort of rapid-response operation, with housesitters lined up and ready to rush to an abandoned house — but that’s a race they usually lose, because the neighbors know when people move out and have a head start on the mortgage companies, equal to the time it takes to send in the keys. Most housesitters arrive to find the house already stripped of furniture and often carpeting; if they’re lucky, the wiring is still intact. Losing a house like that is a double-whammy to the mortgage holders — the Feds let them not report FMA properties as write-offs, but they still aren’t allowed to hide destroyed assets or housesitter costs. They’re all dreading the April reporting. Some regional companies, in Florida and California, have already folded — and there’s no telling who owns their paper now. But against a backdrop of people freezing to death or dying in fires, figuring out who owns some worthless property doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Of course, the yap radio mouths blame their usual suspects for just about all of what’s happening — Shotgun Sam probably got himself a case of emphysema the other day, breathing all the dust coming off the global warming-denial mantle that he tried on. Something along the lines of, “Where’s the global warming gone? We sure could use a little bit of that right now, couldn’t we?” The spazz out there is just incredible. (“spazz” is an old term I defined during the Y2K days; it indicates the ability to cling to a belief after it has been disproved)

Closer to home, FAR Manor is getting through winter in reasonable shape so far. We had some trouble with wood-poachers for a little while, was the worst thing. Fortunately, someone close by asked for permission to get firewood off our place — I told him to only take deadfall and chase off the poachers, and that’s working out pretty well. Daughter Dearest has her teaching job, and she and another teacher are housesitting in a place within walking distance of the school. The county agreed to waive school taxes for the property, so that’s all working out (again, so far). The school buses pick up passengers as well as kids now, collecting fares from the non-students, which helps some with fuel costs. But the Feds had to step up and make sure that rural school districts had enough diesel to run the bus services. Now that they’re letting oil companies pay up to half of their taxes in fuel, that seems to be working out.

The scary thing is that there’s no master plan in effect — people are just making it up as they go. Most of us somehow manage to make it work, but some don’t… sometimes by not thinking things through, other times by just bad luck. Climate change notwithstanding, a mild winter and an early spring will help a lot of people stay alive.


Monday, December 10, 2007 9 comments

3-Day Weekend Update, and Planet Georgia Logic

We (mostly) got our 3-day weekend after all. Mrs. Fetched woke up Saturday morning feeling much better than the day before, and continued to improve through the day. Hooray! Late in the afternoon, we packed a couple of bags with things (and I left the laptop at home, as advised by my good blog-buddies) and headed down. We had a little time to just rest and chill out before going to the company party.

The party went pretty well — I ran into a guy who sits two cubes down from me; he had a short but incredibly cute girlfriend with him. She and Mrs. Fetched hit it off famously, and us guys talked about various things (including shop talk).

A couple of hours into the party, the cellphones started ringing. We had told The Boy that he could have four specific friends over (including Cousin Splat), but no girlfriends or other female types, and nobody was to go into the house without escort. Well, that went by the wayside shortly after we left — there were eight people, two of which were female (one of which was The Boy’s old girlfriend Snippet) — traipsing in and out of the house like they owned the place. Daughter Dearest, who isn’t terribly fond of any of The Boy’s friends, locked the door and The Boy broke the doorknob to get in. Then she got rather upset and yelled at all of them. Cousin Splat lived up to his name by threatening to slap her silly if she didn’t shut up. And that was all she wrote.

Upon arriving at FAR Manor, I immediately told everyone to git. And told Splat that if he ever threatened Daughter Dearest again, there would be Hell to pay. He made some lame excuse, and Mrs. Fetched took over at that point. I started fixing the doorknob — the latch was bent and binding — and The Boy made the mistake of asking me what the big deal was.

“The big deal is,” I told him as he waved his hand at me and walked away, “that your mom and I can’t go anywhere without you ruining it for us!”

“Well, I guess I’m just a big screw-up,” he said, climbing into one of his friends’ cars.

“Yes, yes you are. And if you don’t want to straighten up your act, you’re not welcome back here.” He made the same waving gesture and left. Do I sound like I was peeved? I managed to get the doorknob working and put it back together. It’s a little loose; I guess we need a new one. And deadbolts. FAR Manor is about as secure as a Dozebox. But I digress. All of our stuff was at the hotel room, except for my laptop (which Mrs. Fetched said I should have brought).

Sunday morning, no Boy, and Daughter Dearest pronounced herself fit to solo again. We decided to go ahead and go, told DD to go to the grandparents’ if she didn’t want to stay at the manor, I sighed and grabbed my laptop — Mrs. Fetched didn’t want me to leave it there if The Boy decided to retaliate somehow — and a box of oranges we’d ordered for her older sister, and we took off again. We took a nap through the late afternoon, then decided to resume our original plans to eat at Gimza’s Polish Restaurant in Norcross (the guy whose name is on the sign is a co-worker, doing two jobs and burning the candle at both ends). If you’re in the area, the restaurant is at the corner of Medlock Bridge Rd. and Spalding Drive; the parking lot segues into an adjacent Citgo station. The prices are quite reasonable (much more so than the decor suggests) and the food is very good. Mrs. Fetched, who’s usually fussy about “strange” food, is a fan.

Yesterday (Monday) was our planned shopping day. This worked out. VERY well. We didn’t have the mall to ourselves, but parking was no problem and there were no crowds. We will be doing a Monday shopping trip next year, even if there’s no 3-day weekend to go with it (we may not have another one of those for a long time, or at least until Daughter Dearest is safely in college). We got ahem, cough, and phbhblltt for the kids (neener neener, DD!), and met the sister at a Thai place to transfer the oranges. I was very good; even though I had the computer, I only used it when Mrs. Fetched was watching TV — and then, only to type up stuff I’d written instead of getting online. Much. (She asked me to pull up the weather. Really.)

Speaking of shopping… in one locale, the cops are patrolling mall parking lots and yellow-tagging vehicles that have merchandise visible on seats or floors — “in other words, vehicles that are easy targets for thieves.”

Now that’s Planet Georgia logic for you: find easy targets and make them that much easier to spot! All in the name of fighting crime, of course.

Merry Christmas, Family Man!

“Sheriff’s Office.”

“Hey. Listen, my neighbor, Family Man, is hiding drugs in his woodpile?”

“Oh. Is that so?”

“Yeah. One of the logs is hollowed-out inside; he’s keeping the stuff in that.”

20 minutes later, the entire Sheriff’s department descends on Family Man’s house. They go through the entire woodpile, chopping each one open. After over an hour, they split the last log, find no drugs, and drive off disgruntled.

Our hero, who has been watching the entire operation, watches them drive away, then picks up the phone. “Hi, it’s Family Man. Thanks again for letting me use your phone!”

Merry Christmas, FM! Unfortunately, this only works once.

Friday, December 07, 2007 4 comments

3-Day Weekend

The company Christmas party is tomorrow, and Mrs. Fetched & I came up with a wonderful idea: I take Monday as a floating holiday and we get a hotel for a 3-day weekend getaway — maybe do a little Christmas shopping since we would be in the thick of things. So she prodded me until I hopped onto Hotels.com and found something reasonably-priced and near the club where the company is throwing the party. The community chorale was presenting a large portion of “Messiah” this weekend, so we told them we’d videotape it Friday night before disappearing. Since the venue (the new middle school) is on the way home from work, I planned to just go straight there after work, meet up with Mrs. Fetched, then do our thing.

So this afternoon, Mrs. Fetched called. “You need to leave work early and come home. I’ve got the flu, so I won’t be able to help — you’ll have to do both cameras. Sorry.” Oh, maaaaan.

So I bailed out and came home. Mrs. Fetched was in bed (and still is), barf bucket next to the bed but thankfully unused. She had prepped the cameras: batteries charged, tapes in the bags; all I had to do was huck them in the car, remember the tripods, and get moving. The taping went as well as can be expected; I recruited a friend to start the B-roll camera and just leave it while I worked the primary. Everyone stood up, as tradition expects, for “Hallelujah Chorus” — which blocked my view, but I couldn’t help that. That, and one person walking right in front of the lens, were the only hassles all evening. Well, that and forgetting we’re out of powdered Powerade, so I went back into town and got some. (Last time I had the flu, I sipped lots of Powerade and I recovered pretty quickly. Stay hydrated.)

But if Mrs. Fetched doesn’t get better in a hurry, we’ll be canning the getaway and probably the party. I guess I shouldn’t plan a two-week getaway; no telling what she’d come down with.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 6 comments

Oh, Shoot

Beth’s post about tattoos reminded me of something that happened a while back. It was 1983 or so. I had moved to Planet Georgia, but hadn’t met the (at the time) future Mrs. Fetched. I pal’ed around a lot with a guy named Terry, who lived in the same apartment complex I did and had met through a co-worker.

I’d always wanted a decent camera, and Terry was a photographer (who went pro in later years) — and so one fine summer Saturday afternoon, we went to the Wolf Camera in Atlanta and picked me out a Fujica 35mm SLR, a decent camera but not a budget buster. Naturally, we had to go break it in, so we decided to go down to Piedmont Park and photograph some… er, wildlife. (I learned later that the Atlanta Botanical Gardens were also in the park, oh well.)

We were wandering around the park, no destination in mind but enjoying the nice day. As we approached the bathhouses, we heard someone bellow, “HEY! ARE YOU GUYS PHOTOGRAPHERS?” We turned around to find, excuse me, three females that perfectly defined the stereotypical “biker chick” — stringy hair, clothes that hadn’t seen much time in the laundry, boots, unrefined manners… the works.

“Well, we’re carrying cameras, I guess that makes us photographers,” Terry said with more than a little sarcasm. I’ve never been quick-witted, and silence has perhaps saved me from more than one awkward situation in the past. He was a bit quicker than me though, which was also a good thing. Someone had to say something.

“Yeah, she wants you to take a picture of her,” the original one of the three said. “Yeah! Yeah!” said the second one. I took my cue from Terry, and we laughed them off and walked away.

But we came around the backside of the bathhouses, and there they were again. “Hey! She was serious about taking her picture. C'm'ere.” We looked at each other, shrugged, and walked over. What were they going to do in the middle of a public park, anyway?

We soon found out. “Here,” the second woman said, “take a picture of THIS!” and she hoisted her shirt. To show us an actually well-done eagle covering the top of her left breast. By the way, there was no bra to hide either the tat or the tit.

This was a unique experience, and not only because of the over-exposure — it was the first and only time I ever saw Terry at a loss for words. While I stood there gaping like a complete idiot, he managed to stammer something about release forms. “You don’t need any release forms,” she said, hoisting her shirt again. I grabbed my camera, but dropped it a split-second later (it was on a neck strap) when I realized I’d forgotten what to do with it. Somehow, we managed to extract ourselves and made for the car.

I said something about not doing well under pressure. “Just as well,” Terry said. “If we’d taken pictures, we’d have never gotten rid of them. Then they probably would have given us some unpronounceable disease.”

Some things you just don’t forget. But Beth, getting a tattoo doesn’t make someone pond scum. Now getting a large tattoo over one’s unmentionables, then displaying same in public? Hmmmm.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 6 comments

Unintended Captioning

The local Dairy Queen has their Christmas decor up. This window is next to the door, and something about it just didn’t seem right to me.

On the way out, I grabbed my smellphone and took a quick snapshot, while Mrs. Fetched asked me why I was interested in that picture.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “There’s just something a little strange about it.”

I put the picture together with its unintended caption on the way home.

Bon app├ętit, Santa!

Sunday, December 02, 2007 4 comments

FAR Future, Episode 16

During recent spam-cleaning, I found a link in Episode 9 to a German translation. The page was rife with ads, so it could have been a blog spammer playing cute games. And now the link appears to be gone, but the page is still there — perhaps the spammer gets the payout for the ads then takes down the link? Very strange.

Life in the great online, I guess…

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Holidaze, Shortage Style

At least for us rural folks, 3-day delivery is about to join overnight in the proverbial dustbin of history. After the Postal Service went first, announcing that they’re going to Mon/Wed/Fri mail delivery starting in January, FedEx and UPS are going to a “once a week, or sooner if we fill a truck” schedule. I really don’t blame them — so much of what people used to do by mail is done online nowadays. “Overnight delivery” usually refers to downloading a movie or a large software package. Getting bills three days a week instead of every day will be nice, even if the number of bills over the course of a week is the same. :-P

This holiday season is shaping up to be a big loser for retail — after people got their fuel oil or gas bill (if they didn’t run into spot shortages), they cut back on the presents to pay for heat. One of the few happy notes for the holidays comes from the NHTSA, which is predicting the “safest holiday driving season in years.” Duh, hardly anybody’s going anywhere!

One of the few happy retailers this year is Sears — their traditional catalog business has come roaring back, and they’ve even started to open “catalog centers” in small towns again, like we had when I was a kid. They cut you a big break on shipping if you have your order delivered to a catalog center and pick it up there, and that’s been a bigger hit than I would have expected.

We’re still going to have lots of relatives at FAR Manor this year, mainly because they’re close by. That’s not all bad — I paid a nephew to cut up deadfall and stack it near the house, and he did a pretty good job. We splurged on a tank of propane too, but we plan to mostly use the fireplace insert unless it gets really cold. With the kids gone, we’ve closed down the upstairs for the winter, so we only have to heat the downstairs.

Speaking of nephews, he and his family have moved in with one of the other in-laws; their basement is big and finished out, so they're living downstairs. He said it isn’t bad; he just puts his headphones on and turns up the volume when they start squabbling, or walks up here to see if he can earn a few bucks doing something around the house. “Consolidating” seems to be the thing now; take two or three families and move them all into the biggest house for the winter. Everyone helps with the heating bills, and the smart ones have had plumbers come to the houses being shut down and put RV antifreeze in the water lines so they won’t freeze up. Mrs. Fetched was trying to get her parents to move into the guest bedroom, but they don’t want to leave their place. Whew! I don’t know if I could get much work done at home with them arguing, running the TV, arguing, cooking, arguing some more, all day long.

Meanwhile, back in the World At Large, the Secession Question has taken a breather for the holidays. Planet Georgia’s ASSembly passed a resolution to support withdrawal “if the rights and values of our citizens are not respected” — basically a threat, maybe half-full. The only surprise was that the vote was closer than expected. One “solution” talking shape is to allow states (or regions of like-minded states) to set policies for taxation and other things if they agree to respect the 14th amendment and the equal rights of all citizens (there’s been some noise about that). I’m not keen on the idea, because there’s been a lot of “overlooking” of equal rights for all citizens in the past; I don’t expect that to improve.

Sheesh, I almost forgot. Another thing that isn’t improving is the fuel supply. The NFRD is saying that fuel allocations are going to drop some, maybe 5%, starting early next year — Iraq is pumping flat-out and it’s still not enough to make up for drops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, let alone Mexico. The yap radio mouths are having a field day with that — it’s getting listeners’ minds off secession, which has to be a relief for their patrons. Things might not change much, though — people have had since August to make adjustments, and we had some allocations expire without any bids week before last. But bids for fresh allocations started picking up late last week; those people still driving somewhere for the holidays are probably trying to line up their supplies ahead of time. But between the people who let their unused allocations expire, and the ones who buy them up to take them off the market, I have to wonder where the extra gas is going — or has the NFRD deliberately overbooked a little?

Now if only they could make me an electric motorbike with a 100 mile range, I wouldn’t worry too much.


Saturday, December 01, 2007 5 comments

Holiday Music

I did this last year in a podcast, but many of you have started reading this year. So…

Hope you enjoy it! For those of you on dialup, here’s a low-bandwidth version (700K MP3).


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