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Monday, September 29, 2008 14 comments

FAR Future, Episode 53: Sunrise, Sunset

Now that I have this one posted, and the next eight about ready to go, I’m hoping to press on to the end. At one post a week, we’ll reach The End in May or maybe June.

Saturday, February 15, 2020
Sunrise, Sunset

…swiftly fly the days.

Discontent with the junta has become more vocal in the wake of the flu pandemic. If this wasn’t The Big One that public health officials were warning us about since the turn of the century, I’d hate to see it. This one was bad enough. As happens so often, the junta’s attempts to suppress info — or downplay the situation — drove millions of the formerly incurious (or fearful) to start listening to what Sammy has to say. And take it seriously. And to start asking the obvious question: if the junta’s lying about something this important, what else are they lying about?

We all survived it at FAR Manor, thank God — it completely passed over Daughter Dearest, and her fiance got a flu shot in Pacifica that worked for him — but it was touch and go with Kim and Maria for a while. Christina may have saved them, and a lot of other people besides; she finally realized what that hydration/electrolyte drink needed, and made it easier to make and improved its effectivity. We got word back to Sammy, and those who had ears to hear (or eyes to read) benefitted. The junta stole the recipe and claimed that some doctors at Walter Reed came up with it, but everyone knows it as “the CC drink.”

Christina, in fact, about hurt herself trying to care for the two people she loves most. Kim did his best to stay hydrated, so she could either tend to her mom or rest. Guillermo and I had to force her to take breaks; she had the flu too and wasn’t giving herself a chance to recuperate. It reminded me of how Mrs. Fetched and her mom used to nearly kill themselves working at the chicken houses and doing a bunch of other stuff besides. (Both her parents passed on a couple years ago… Mrs. Fetched took it hard, but held up pretty well in the end.)

Kim and Maria had plenty of time to talk… ironic that he knew Spanish better than anyone of my family, and they never tried talking before. That could have saved a lot of the friction in the manor, but that’s (finally) all behind us. Maria talked to Guillermo, they talked to Mrs. Fetched and me, and we talked to Kim while they talked to Christina. Then we all got together. We couldn’t give them a government-sanctioned wedding, given that Christina and her family are still officially fugitives, but some things don’t need a piece of paper to make them real. They’re still awfully young (17 and 18), but when it’s time it’s time. Rene and Serena stood as their wedding party, and everyone insisted that I officiate. Mrs. Fetched took video (and I transcribed the following spiel from that). We cobbled up a ceremony in the living room: Christina entered from the kitchen (my right), Kim from the hall. As I did at my mom’s second wedding, so many years ago, I started whistling the Wedding March… and as happened then, everyone else took it up with a grin.

“Dearly beloved…” I started, then shook my head. “Yes, you two — all of you here — are dearly beloved, of me and of each other. No doubt.

“Back when I was your age, though, it was unusual for people to get married so young. But times have changed, mostly — but not completely — for the worse. We’ve watched you grow together — and I’m sure you know how closely we watched you for the last five years!” They laughed.

“But all of us have discussed this, and we all agree that it’s time to take the next step — if you’re ready. You’re about to enter into a commitment that — if you both honor it — lasts a lifetime. So if either of you aren’t ready to take that step, or if any of us here have second thoughts, this is the time to speak. Let any who have doubts, speak now, without fear of reproach.” I waited; nobody spoke but Maria twirled her hand in a “get moving” gesture. I was kind of surprised; in a matter of days she’s gone from the most fearful to the most supportive about this relationship.

“Kim, Christina,” I said, “Look at each other.” They did. “Now look at me. Are you ready to make a lifetime commitment, both to each other and the respective families? It’s not just two people that are married — your families are joined together as well. Think a moment before you answer.”

Christina, that brilliant and eccentric star, barely gave it a second before saying “Sí,” loud and clear. A moment later, Kim nodded and smiled. They joined hands before I had a chance to tell them to.

“OK,” I said. “Christina: do you promise to take Kim as your husband, to love and honor, to recognize temptation but not yield, for the rest of your lives together?”

She surprised me. “Before God and our families, I do.”

Kim’s turn: “Kim, do you likewise promise to take Christina as your wife, to love and honor, to recognize temptation but not yield, and to try to understand her, knowing you never will?”

Guillermo and Dean (DD’s beau) chuckled, and Daughter Dearest snorted, as Kim fumbled to follow Christina’s response. “Before God and our families, I do.”

I motioned for Mrs. Fetched, Guillermo, and Maria to join us. Mrs. Fetched handed off the camera to Daughter Dearest, who looked puzzled but figured I wasn’t going to be silly… for a change. “Kim and Christina have pledged to each other and to us, and now it’s our turn,” I said. “I wasn’t just saying words about commitment to the families. This is for us as much as it is for them — they swore their love to each other years ago.

“Guillermo, Maria: do you promise to take Kim into your family, to treat him equally and fairly, and above all to set an example for their married life through your own?” They looked at each other for a moment, then nodded as one. “Sí,” said Maria; “We will,” Guillermo added.

“Mrs. Fetched: will you join me in making the same pledge? To take Christina into our family, to treat her equally and fairly, and above all to set an example for their married life through our own?” She said, “I will,” and I responded, “And so do I.

“Kim, Christina, we’ve watched the two of you grow up together, and we recognize the depth of your love for each other. And as you have pledged yourselves to each other before God and your families — and your families have pledged to support and guide you — as ‘lord’ of FAR Manor, I pronounce you husband and wife. But if there ever comes a time when you can repeat your vows in public, I expect you to do it… OK, I’ve made you wait long enough. So kiss already!”

After a minute or two, I started whistling randomly until they got the message.

The newlyweds scored the following haul. From me: two large boxes of condoms and an admonishment to hold off having kids for a few years. From Guillermo: a bottle of tequila he’d been saving all this time for a “special occasion.” From Daughter Dearest: her studio for a week. (“I’m sure you won’t have any problem keeping warm!” she laughed.)

We are going to have to come up with some new sleeping arrangements, now that there’s three couples in the manor. Dean gets to move into Kim’s old bed, until he and DD get hitched… then they say they’ll move out. I guess it’s time; the kids are as ready as they’ll ever be to take the HSG (High School Graduate, the old GED) exam.


Sunday, September 28, 2008 4 comments

Fiction: The Last Drop

Slightly edited and polished for the 19 Feb 2010 #flashfriday entries. If you’re visiting for #flashfriday, welcome to the free-range insane asylum! You’ll find several short stories, a completed novel (FAR Future), and a novel in progress (White Pickups). Hang around and feel free to drop a comment.

This is what happened when I spent over an hour sitting in line, waiting to buy gas during the 2008 fuel shortages in the southeast US. It’s a lot darker than the stuff I usually write. A slightly different version appeared toward the end of FAR Future, and I’m eventually going to expand it to a short story.

The Last Drop

I threaded my way between lanes of long-abandoned vehicles choking a city street. All faced the same way, as if in a hurricane evacuation. They had been there a long time; what tires weren’t flat and dry-rotted were sagging and dry-rotted. Driver-side doors often stood open, and I sometimes had to push them shut (with a horrendous creak that the stillness swallowed) to get by. The glass was intact, but caked with grime and dust and streaked perhaps by a long-ago rain. The buildings on either side loomed over the street, their windows looking down on me like a maid watching a roach scurry across a clean tile floor. Clouds roiled overhead, bringing neither rain nor relief from the heat. Stifling gusts of wind puffed from behind me, then from ahead; all directions carried unpleasant smells.

I went through intersections where endless lines met and tried to merge in vain with the endless lines I walked through. Out of curiosity, I climbed onto a pickup truck — bumper, bed, toolbox, cab — for a longer view. Behind me, and to either side, the jam continued as far as I could see. Up ahead, the lines seemed to jumble together at the edge of my sight. I climbed down and continued on. After what seemed far too long, I climbed atop another truck. I was still a long way off, but could see a little more clearly. Something changed up ahead: perhaps this street would turn onto another, or perhaps it would be what everyone had tried to reach.

Eventually, the lines veered to the left and right and tangled together, then became a solid mass. I climbed up and over, picking my way carefully: trunk, roof, hood, hop to the next trunk, on and on. Climbing atop a van, I finally saw it: a great traffic circle with what looked like a gas station filling the island. The vehicles were packed around it and inside it in a chaotic tumble — anyone who had managed to get that far had no chance to get out. As I drew nearer, I realized that it had been a gas station — the signage was long faded or crumbled, and an overhang had fallen and crushed pumps and vehicles alike.

“Over here,” I heard someone say from behind the fallen overhang. I climbed toward it, and at last found a stretch of open pavement. It led me under the overhang and to a thin black woman, lounging in a car seat resting on the pavement. A pull-along cooler sat between her and a second car seat, and she waved me toward the seat. “Grab you a water, I bet’ch’er thirsty. Ice is long gone, but that don’t matter.”

I did what I was told, sat with a water. She waited for me to unscrew the cap and drain half the bottle at a gulp, then said, “Name’s Daisy. I wanted to shoot my mama for hanging that name on me sometimes, but it’s another thing that don’t matter now.”

“Yeah,” I said, introducing myself. “What the hell is this?”

“This? It’s a gas station. Or what’s left of one. But that’s not what you meant.” She gave me a grin. “This is what happened when the last tanker brought the last drop of gas to the last gas station. Everybody wanted to get some, and… well, I bet you can guess the rest.”

“Yeah,” I said, imagining the scene. “But it must have happened a long time ago. You’re the only one left, as far as I can tell. Why are you here?”

“Me? I’m… the Judge.” I heard the capital. “I was a nobody, livin’ on the streets, scroungin’ to get enough food, tryin’ not to get raped by some loony or high school jock. One mornin’ I was downtown here, thinkin’ maybe I could get someone to buy me a coffee and biscuit, and all these cars rushin’ to get a fill-up. One of ’em run right over me.”

She handed me another water while I gaped at her. “Yeah. So God comes for me and asks me what I want, and I said ‘payback.’ He says, ‘The fruit of the Spirit is forgiveness,’ and next thing I know—”

She climbs out from under the Expedition and stands glaring at the driver babbling “God lady, I’m so sorry…”

“You want gas?” she cries. “Come and get it! EVERYONE COME AND GET IT! AND I HOPE YOU CHOKE ON IT!”

Night, then day. People swarm over the trapped cars, gas cans in hand, only to be set upon by others behind them. Fistfights become gunfights. The pumps have long run dry, but they keep coming. The attendants abandon the station, and she replaces the oddments of life in her cooler with drinks and ice. Night again, and now the shades come. Some ask for forgiveness, and she grants it. Some see just another homeless nobody, and those she judges. One of the forgiven tells her of a toolbox in a nearby van, and how she can remove the seats, and now she has a comfortable place to sit. On a whim, long after the last shade goes to its reward and the overhang falls over, she pulls the other seat.

Sometimes she weeps for the departed. Sometimes she laughs at their folly. Most of the time she just sits… and waits.

“For what? Not me, I hope,” I said.

“For someone living. The Judge has to be judged — or forgiven.”

I looked around, thinking about how it must have been, then turned to Daisy. “If it’s in my power, then: I forgive you for this. I can understand why.”

Daisy leaped across the cooler and kissed me hard. “Too bad you didn’t know me when I was living,” she laughed, and… was gone.

“Wake up, honey!” my wife said, shaking me. “Lisa just called. The tanker’s on the way! If we hurry we can get there before the line gets too long!”

Friday, September 26, 2008 2 comments

Weekend Cinema

Short, quick, and free — like the redneck’s idea of a perfect date — that’s Weekend Cinema!

Tonight, we bring you a little documentary of sorts. Urban farms might sound like an oxymoron, but people are doing it. Some because it’s the only way to put some fresh food on the table, others because food sovereignty is important.

So tonight we travel to exotic Milwaukee and see what a little Growing Power can do.

You can learn more about Growing Power and their goals at their website.

Thursday, September 25, 2008 17 comments

The Great Gas Panic of 2008 Continues

Bagged gas pumpThe media says things will ease up tomorrow. And theoildrum.com suggests it gets worse for the next 2–3 weeks. Frankly, this is worse than Katrina, at least from a supply standpoint — it’s like living in an early episode of FAR Future! If it gets any worse, and I mean any worse, the South will come to a standstill next week.

When a gas station gets a shipment in, people start calling around to tell their friends and relatives, everyone rushes in to fill up, and then they’re out again. We got a phone call this morning, and I took the Civic in to get half a tank (my last $20 of gas money). But except for the occasional fistfight, people seem to be taking it in stride. They’re blaming oil companies, politics (yeah right, like Bush-league would hose his party’s base in an election year), whatever, but otherwise they shrug and line up. I explain what’s really happening: oil production in the Gulf is still only 1/4 normal; refineries in Texas are restarting more slowly than anticipated (see link above); and this all went down at a time when inventories were well below normal to begin with.

I figure it’s highly unlikely to happen, but here’s a few lessons we could learn if we really wanted:

1) Seeing as a similar situation happened 3 years ago, this isn’t a once in a lifetime thing. Or even a once in two terms thing. In a world of tight oil supply, we need to understand this is going to happen again. And again.

2) Our leadership needs to, um, lead. Planetary Governor Bok-Bok could have done more than wag his finger at gouging (necessary, but not sufficient). What he should have done was told us, “Look, supplies might be tight for a few weeks and we’ll all have to work around it. I’m asking gas stations to place a $30 limit on purchases through the end of the month, and reduce that to $20 per purchase if necessary. I call on employers to let people work at home where possible. All citizens should avoid making unnecessary trips, and use carpools or transit when they can. If you have to drive, take the most fuel-efficient vehicle you can."

3) When you have to haul a work crew and gear around, using a big SUV is smart. For solo commuting on highways, the same vehicle is not so smart. Maybe the Magic Drill Fairy will put some oil under our pillow in 5 years or so, but if people insist on driving barges to work, it’s not going to make a difference. We need to discourage that behavior, by whatever means necessary: from huge surtaxes on huge vehicles not used for construction work, to just pointing and laughing. If it gets the gas hogs off the road, it works.

4) A good regional passenger rail system would be good for tourism, business, and citizens — and be fairly immune to gasoline supply glitches.

I don’t have a whole lot of faith that people will do the right thing, though, until they can’t do anything else.

Monday, September 22, 2008 11 comments

FAR Future, Episode 52: It’s The Big One, Elizabeth

Note the date — things will continue to jump ahead over the next couple of episodes.

Monday, December 2, 2019
It’s the Big One, Elizabeth

It’s been almost four years, but what more was there to say? Electricity is more and more something produced where it’s consumed, people grow more of their own food, gasoline and diesel get more scarce, the junta sucks more all the time. You didn’t need me to tell you that.

But the junta might have finally sucked in something too big for them to cover up or ignore. Public health officials (or former officials, in any case) have been warning for 20 years about preparing for a flu pandemic. There was at least a start before the junta, but public health — heck, just about public everything — got thrown out the window after the coup. Now, it looks like the flu version of The Big One has arrived, and the junta’s feeble attempts at travel restrictions did nothing at all to slow it down… and their usual “downplay anything that might make us look bad” strategy probably did more to help it spread than anything they did to prevent it. And it’s ugly — some former public health people are keeping Sammy well-supplied with info about what’s happening, and putting out better info about precautionary measures and home remedies. (The junta is, in some cases, stealing the latter and offering it up as its own. Shameless SOBs.)

Like the 1918 pandemic, and the “bird flu” that f(e)athered the current strain, it’s hitting the prime-of-lifers the hardest. Sammy got hold of a report that estimated 3–5% of the population may die by the time it’s over. That’s on top of, or at least exacerbating, the “normal” deaths related to the usual winter fuel shortages (which includes fire, asphyxiation, and hypothermia). I wouldn’t be surprised.

The health care system is already collapsing under just the initial onslaught. The local radio said the hospital is triaging patients; mostly they pump incoming cases full of fluids and send them home with instructions for caretakers (if any). The report talked about big tents in the parking lot outside the hospital; they triage patients in one tent and the ones they keep move to the next tent until a bed (or floor space) opens up inside. And from the percentages, one of every 20 or 30 are too far gone to help; I presume they send those back home and tell the caretakers to make arrangements. The question is: where are the fluids (presumably saline and electrolytes) coming from? Are they using a similar recipe to what Sammy and the junta both published for oral use at home? Are the nurses and doctors getting any rest, and how likely is it that they’ll be stricken next?

Mrs. Fetched and I are either side of 60 now, so we have the usual old-people worries about flu. But I think if we stay hydrated, we’ll get through it. It’s Daughter Dearest and her fiance who came in from Pacifica last month that I’m worried about most — they’re in the dangerous age range — with Kim and the other kids a close second. Christina has sort of taken charge of the situation, working up batches of an electrolyte/hydration mix we found on one of Sammy’s web pages (I figured I needed to take a risk and bogart some Pat-Riot bandwidth), and looking at the formula carefully. “It’s like it’s whispering to me,” she said, “that there’s a way to improve it, but I can’t see how just yet.” She’s really something… I never mentioned that field trip we took to Corettaville a couple years ago; they emailed her about a paper she wrote on digesters and wanted some more info. One thing led to another, and they ended up inviting her to visit (with me as an escort). They were shocked to see a 14-year-old girl behind the paper, to say the least. It took a word from The Prophet himself — but only a word — to convince them. He recognized me from the other time I saw him, which pleased me for some reason. I was a bit less pleased when he told me I was to speak to the Assembly, but that went okay too. I spoke about taking in people who needed a place to stay, and how they can turn out to be prodigies like Christina or even angels. It went over well, I guess. By the way, if you’ve never been in a wallyworld, the funk is amazing even in early spring when they start ventilating more. There’s almost a thousand people living in Corettaville now, and more coming all the time; even if they spend a lot of time outside and try to stay clean, that many people living together is bound to concentrate the odor.

Serena has been producing plays at the Thanksgiving get-together the last few years, getting the other kids (and sometimes me) to act in them. Most of them are little one-acts with some political overtones that a kid can get away with. But she (and Rene) are 17 now, and she has to start being careful. She sailed pretty close to the wind with this year’s production, a Shakespearean-style thing she called The Discomposure of Lord Riot. The fun part for me was that I got to play both the evil Lord Riot and the kindly-but-clueless Lord Farfet — she thinks I’m a decent actor, but it’s really a matter of studying my lines and getting a feel for the character. Or characters, in this case. The love interest was played (quite willingly, I assure you!) by Kim & Christina, who are no less intense than ever, while Rene and Serena herself played the lovers’ friends. It’s based pretty much on how the four of them (along with Guillermo and Maria, of course) came to live at FAR Manor… although in the play, they were being pursued by a Lord Riot who wanted to sell them into slavery. Lord Farfet takes them in, knowing that Riot is after them, but the kids lay his plans low. The story ends with Lord Riot making a pact with the devil “And thus can I continue to serve God.” One of the neighbors said Serena ran it right to the edge and maybe just a little over, but it was a gutsy play and well-done. I’m sending it to Sammy the same time I post this; some of her other plays have been pretty popular out there.

Unfortunately, the first local flu case hit a couple days after the Thanksgiving dinner. I guess that means we’ve all been exposed.


Sunday, September 21, 2008 4 comments

Plants of the Moment

But first: happy b-day to both my parental units, Mom yesterday and Dad today!

Despite the drought, the plant life has managed to hold up reasonably well through the summer. Maybe the rainy spring gave them enough of a start.

Back in February, I mentioned diverting the kitchen and laundry drains into the back yard. We must have had a few seeds go down the drain — literally — because now there’s a clump of tomato plants springing up.

Mrs. Fetched was like, “Do you really want to let them grow?” Heck yes — I want to see what kind they are, if nothing else. I can’t blame her for moaning about it — the tomatoes have done very well this year and Mrs. Fetched’s mom is ready to yank her plants out of the ground so she doesn’t have to pick any more. It’s not just the tomatoes… her scupperdine vine got so laden it pulled down the tree she’d used for a trellis; I found a persimmon tree at the bottom of the driveway that’s weighed down pretty heavily; her fruit trees are doing very well too. Only one of my yellow pear plants survived, but it has done quite well despite not being staked… it just sprawls everywhere. But if these particular plants do well, and the frost holds off long enough, they'll be ripe around late October.

Flowers among kudzuOut for a walk on Thursday, I saw some wildflowers managing to grow among the kudzu.

The kudzu itself blooms, a pretty purple pyramid with a grape-y smell. But the blue blooms here were not of the kudzu; it was some other plant trying its luck among the tangle.

This kind of thing gives me a little hope. We’ve only begun to see how much our climate change is going to screw things up… but once we get out of the way, nature will adjust and fix things.

Saturday, September 20, 2008 5 comments

Oh Joy. Another Boarder.

I guess Mrs. Fetched couldn’t stand having the nest empty. If I had any say in the matter, we’d have a smaller nest.

At least this one is more mature… as in, roughly our age. All inmates, please welcome DoubleRed (she commented on Daughter Dearest’s post as RedRedRobin, DR is shorter) to the free-range insane asylum. She was DD’s co-worker, back before DD went off to college and found that work on top of college was just a little too much.

So we (that is, The Boy and I, with a help from a friend of DR’s) got her moved in today. Mrs. Fetched, always a paragon on planning, has the former contents of the guest room closet strewn all over the living room (and there it will sit until Christmas, when she’ll need to move it somewhere else to make room for guests). I’m hoping the rent will be steady, although I think she was trying to “manage expectations” this evening, but I’m hoping more that she’ll be cooking as much as she says she loves to do. It would be nice to come home from work, knowing there will be supper. Shoot, if she does the cooking, I wouldn’t worry much about the rent.

So… we’ll see how this goes.

Friday, September 19, 2008 2 comments


So today was the father-in-law’s catheterization, in which the docs would seek (and perhaps repair) any major blockages.

They found a couple of minor blockages, but they weren’t enough to impede blood flow. Given that he’s been feeling better since they replaced the Lasix with a different medication, one that wasn’t beating on his kidneys so much, they now think perhaps the root of his problem was kidney- rather than heart-related.

He’s going to spend one more night for observation (post-catheter thing) then send him home tomorrow. There will likely be more tests to confirm the current guess diagnosis, but he seems to be out of the woods for now. I hope he wants all his stuff back. ;-)

UPDATE: You know, last night he was in a semi-private room and didn’t have O’Liarly on. And he was feeling better. Coincidence? I think not!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 9 comments

Gas Update, Father-in-Law Update

Yesterday, the three stations closest to the office were out both morning and evening. But they all had “product” this morning. Things may have settled in for now; as I mentioned on Nancy’s blog this morning, I expect to see the occasional “no fuel” sign over the next couple of weeks, but there will be gas when needed. Prices are converging toward either $4.09 or $4.19 for regular now; there are outliers on either side but they’re getting fewer every day.

Meanwhile, my father-in-law finally got to the hospital. He went to the doctor yesterday, and the doctor sent him “upstairs” so to speak. His attitude is the scariest thing so far… he’s acting like he doesn’t expect to get out. But like I told him last night, he needs to hang around for two reasons: 1) he wants to see the farm (i.e. chicken houses) paid off; 2) it’s just not right for your mother-in-law to outlive you, therefore he needs to hang around for another 10 years. He found that amusing, which is what I’d hoped for. Of course, he has Bill O'Liarly on every night and that can’t be good for the soul. They transferred him to the hospital in Gainesville this evening, which is good because it’s a top-notch cardiac facility. Mrs. Fetched figures that as soon as they figure out (and treat) what’s going on, he’ll feel a lot better. I agree with that, but he needs to get his attitude in the right place.

Monday, September 15, 2008 3 comments

FAR Future, Episode 51: In the Blink of an Eye

So begins the transition to the next sub-series…

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
In the Blink of an Eye…

…six months go by.

Well, sort of. Interesting that my last post was on my birthday, and this one is Mrs. Fetched’s birthday.

The junta obviously backed down on cutting off the net, for now — I think someone figured out how many people are working from home and how much fuel it would take to replace the net. But they’ve nanny-blocked just about everything but commerce. Ironic, when you consider that the Net originally disallowed commerce. The Favored Ones aren’t so restricted in their net usage, but more on that shortly.

Perhaps another factor was the number of people taking college classes from home. Christina has been doing that for a while now, mostly biochemistry and related subjects. She has some amazing brainpower, but her writing skills are closer to her chronological age and she needed to do a full-blown paper. Fortunately for her, technical writing is how I make a living, so I taught her what she needed to know: writing an abstract, structuring the paper, the conclusion… she also had plenty of examples from other papers in her field. I was pleased to find that there are things I can still teach her. ;-) She sort of hoped I’d write it for her once she told me what was needed, but I only agreed to help her structure and edit it. It turned out OK; she caught on soon enough and got a 3.2 (B-plus-ish) score on it. Most of what she got dinged for was the technical content, and the prof has no clue that she’s 12. She was a little bummed about that — she was hoping for a 3.5 at a minimum — but she found out later that nobody scored over 3.4 and only two people in her class got a higher score than hers. She plunged into her books, actually ignoring Kim for a while (and it was interesting to watch the mixed relief and dismay there), and vowed her next paper would be worthy of publication.

The Prophet has been flying under the radar for a while. I was starting to worry about him, even though I knew if the Pat-Riots had caught him they’d be shouting it from the rooftops, but he surfaced recently. It turns out he’s been helping to found a wallyworld between Decatur and Atlanta. Of course, they wanted to name it after him, and he wouldn’t have it. Nor would he allow them to call it “The Prophet’s Mission.” After some back and forth and left and right and give and take, they finally settled on calling it “Corettaville,” after Coretta Scott King. Junta symps, as you can guess, call it N-town (and no, they don’t pronounce it how I wrote it). A video might be available out on the West Coast, but all I managed to get was a series of photos that still tell a story of a seriously dedicated group of people. They’re tearing out the parking lot, and using the asphalt to build a security wall (there have been some vandalism attempts, what a surprise) and to build garden beds. They’re working hard to make the place self-supporting to a level that no wallyworld has yet achieved — their goals are no waste at all, and to be self-powered. The other spaces in the strip are becoming community kitchens, schools, a library, and whatever other services a small city might need. Someone donated a large-scale wind plant, and they’re working on installing it now. Solar panels on the roof, skylights, you name it, they’re doing it. Sewage goes into a fermentation chamber, built partially from the torn-out asphalt, to make methane and fertilizer (Christina’s paper was about large-scale digesters like this, and she’s wishing for a field trip). I doubt they can raise enough veggies to feed several hundred people, but they’re giving it the ol’ college try. Inside, they’re laying out streets and building individual apartments, two floors and a large open area for assemblies. I really hope they make it — but with The Prophet leading them, I imagine failing would be rather difficult.

Sammy had some less happy news — disturbing, actually — about the junta running a labor camp out in Colorado. Criminals, or anyone the junta finds inconvenient, end up mining shale. A “loyal opposition” member (someone like me, in other words, who doesn’t like the junta but has helped them out in the past) got appointed as an ombudsman of sorts at the camp. He didn’t stay long, but managed to smuggle out a few photos on his cellphone and told the story of what’s going on out there. I suppose it makes sense… you get to be a productive member of society whether you want to be or not. It’s not pretty, but I hope you can find his report or Sammy finds you with it. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, right?

On the lighter side, Sammy sent this list along recently.

You know it's TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) when…
- You get out a deck of cards to play solitaire.
- You actually *talk* on a phone.
- You've gotten to know these people called “your family.”
- A trip to town is something you dedicate most of the day to.
- You've had so many candlelight dinners, you forgot they're supposed to be romantic.
- You see more people walking somewhere than jogging nowhere.
- You say something about “bumper sticker logic” and your kids ask, “what's a bumper sticker?”
- You ride a bus every day, and you're not in school.
- You've been woke up at 3 a.m. when the power comes on and the bedroom lights up!
- Checking your mail means walking to the end of your driveway.

Heh. Remember when lists like this would be followed up with an exhortation to “pass it on”?

The local junta folks have caught on to me… or at least caught on that someone is out here borrowing bandwidth. I’ve been pretty careful with my Gadget, keeping the usage to a minimum and trying to be pretty random about which hotspots I hijack, but maybe I cut it too close. Or maybe just got a little unlucky.

I was sitting on a curb, pretending to talk on the Gadget while batching up some stuff for Sammy, when a Pat-Troll stopped. “Hang on a second,” I told my non-existant party, and did the two-finger double tap (which turns off the Wingnutistan mode). Probably a good move on my part.

“What’cha doin’, buddy?” one of the 'Riots asked me.

“Phoning home,” I said. To the phone I said, “Look: some Patriots stopped and want to chat. I’ll call you later. Bye.” To them, I said, “What’s up?”

“Just lookin’ out for funny business,” he replied. “Hey, is that an iPhone?”

“Yeah, one of the first-generation versions. I’m surprised it’s still working.” I stood and offered him the phone.

“Hm. Looks kinda beat-up.” He poked at it for a moment, but didn’t seem too enthusiastic about it. “Yeah,” he said, handing it back to me. “Thing’s practically an antique now, huh?”

“Yeah. I don’t like to throw out stuff that still works, though. It’s been a good little phone.”

“I bet. I’d like to have one of them new ones, but they don’t sell ’em here. I guess if you went to New York or something, you might get one.

“Well, you be careful. There’s someone out here breaking into people’s computers, and there’s a reward if you catch him. Keep your eyes peeled.” And they drove away. No problems, but a bit closer than I’d like… especially when I’m not on my own turf. I might have to read Sammy on paper for a while.


Saturday, September 13, 2008 8 comments

Spiked by Ike; or, The Great Gas Panic of 2008

Current music: Lifeline – Simon Slator

Y’all remember Katrina, right? Ike may, at least in terms of gas prices, turn out to be worse. Back then, we had a 20% jump… which turned out to be about 55 cents, ending up at $3.12. Depending on how things settle by Monday, it could be as much as 40% this time.

Lines at the gas pumpWhile Gustav hardly budged gas prices, the second large hurricane in a week to hit an oil-producing part of the coast triggered the Great Gas Panic here on Planet Georgia. By early evening, local gas stations were running out and the remaining ones were getting drained by long lines. Some of the smarter operators starting putting purchase limits on their fuel. The rumor mill was rife with talk about how gas would be over $5 on Saturday, perhaps even to $6. This seemed like crazy talk to me — a 20% jump from Friday’s $3.59 price would put us around $4.29, which was a little higher than the summer peak price. Local stations had jumped to $3.79 during the afternoon, perhaps a vain attempt to blunt the growing onslaught. By 9:30, only two stations had gas to sell — both BP, which ironically had the most trouble keeping gas on hand after Katrina. The one at the highway had jumped to $4.29 (and still had a long line), while the station in town continued selling at $3.79. “No limits,” the guy told Mrs. Fetched. “We have 1500 gallons left, and we’ll sell it until it’s gone.” The premium pumps were bagged (i.e. no gas left), but most people weren’t after the high-test anyway. Things were a little complicated by a friend who was nearly out of gas and bopped around to several stations before finding the BP in town.

Meanwhile, there were several people parked at the pumps at the Shell station, even though all the nozzles were bagged up. I was amused by the sight of a Dummer cruising through, looking for some more gas. We made our way to the BP in town, where I got in line to tank up Mrs. Fetched’s mom’s van (plus a 5-gallon can of ours) and managed to get it. A car tried to go around me and ended up in the ditch, which was entertaining since nobody got hurt. Local cops showed up to direct traffic and perhaps keep the peace… there was a near-incident where someone either didn’t figure out how people were coming in or didn’t care, but it was defused without drama. That wasn’t the case at Kroger, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The crazy stuff started in the morning. The BP in town continued to post $3.79, the local Citgo stations moved to $3.99, and the rest jumped clear to $4.49 or even $4.59. I heard (from P.O.D., not the most reliable source) that the gas stations along the freeway were charging $5.09… and people were making phone calls. Planetary Governor Bok-Bok got on the idiot box last night and said he would deal harshly with price gougers, and supposedly these folks got slapped with $40,000 fines. Mrs. Fetched had offered to take Jam to Mal-Wart, while we had another errand to run, so I suggested we combine the trip and I offered to sit in back with Brand X and Evil Lad NOT. That worked out fairly well, since Mrs. Fetched got to drive and bottom out the suspension on the bumps (and she couldn’t give me her patented Dirty Look about it for a change, heh heh).

Part of the errand-running included a trip to Kroger, since ice cream was on sale and Mrs. Fetched’s mom wanted some (which gave Mrs. Fetched a convenient excuse, which gave me a convenient excuse to replenish the Moose Tracks). While we were there, we ran into the store manager (who we kind of know since The Boy worked there back when he was like 15). I asked him about what Mrs. Fetched had heard from an EMT the night before: there had been a fist-fight at the Kroger and the cops shut the place down. “No,” he said, “I shut it down. There was a fight alright — some guy in a big truck tried to jump in line and I wouldn’t let him. Then he tried to hit me with his door. I’m not having that… he went to jail.” I’m not sure I believe the rest of this though: “We had to pay $5.02 for premium — wholesale — and I’m selling it at a loss ($4.49), and people are telling me they’re calling the state to report us for gouging.” Hey… if he has the receipts, let ’em call. I did wonder, though, what the deal was… if Citgo was selling gas for 50 cents less, and Kroger was still selling at a loss, the distributors might be gouging. Or perhaps they’re taking care of their own brand(s) and letting the indies fight over the scraps.

The last thing he said was “We’ll be at 60% capacity, best case, for the next two weeks.” That was about how long it took to get things more or less put back together after Katrina, so that makes sense. I guess there will once again be spot shortages for a little while. At least this time I have a little motorcycle that’s immune to purchase limits. Mrs. Fetched admitted to being annoyed when I bought it, but now she’s thanking God I had the opportunity and took it.

But if $4.49 is the price where everything settles, that’s a nearly 27% jump in prices. Worse than Katrina, in both absolute and relative terms… at least as far as gas prices go. I’ll post an update early next week after the next FAR Future episode.

Friday, September 12, 2008 2 comments

Weekend Cinema

Welcome back to Weekend Cinema, where the entertainment (or in some cases, horror) is quick and free. Just like a perfect date. ;-D

All of us, even us Mac users, have likely hurled the occasional obscenity at our computers. But this kid goes waaaayyyy over the top. (In German, but with English sub-titles. Mucho vulgarity here.) Frankly, I think it’s a put-on: that webcam would have been toast long ago.

Hat tip/fling against the wall to Brand X

Thursday, September 11, 2008 6 comments

De-Escaping, and a few more pix

I’ve got to hand it to The Boy: he didn’t flake out on us this year, and we were set to enjoy the last couple days at the hideaway. But I’m sure The Boy got it from his mom’s side of the family, because if it’s not him it’s one of the in-laws.

So this morning, after breakfast, we were sitting around reading — the October/November double issue of Asimov’s for me, Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and a guy whose name escapes me at the moment for her. The Boy had called earlier, and Mrs. Fetched invited him up to eat lunch with us (we were going to grab a pizza from DJ’s Diner). So it was close to 11:30 when the phone rang again.

“Dad’s going to the hospital,” Mrs. Fetched said, “we need to pack up.” Our week cut short, once again. And of course, we’ve been home for several hours and it looks like he’s not going. The only thing more disgusting than having our trip cut short is to have it cut short for no good reason. Now y’all tell me: is it reasonable to expect that the phrase “he’s going to the hospital” means he’s either in the ambulance or being taken by someone? If he’s thinking about going to the hospital, that‘s something that might happen. Precision in language usage has never been a hallmark of either Mrs. Fetched or her family, and after 20-very-odd years I still fall for it.

Next year, we leave the phones at home. If it’s that important, they can come and get us. And probably will.

So… how about a few pix? The clouds were flying a little low this morning and cut off the hilltop across the way. We got sprinkled (or heavily misted) on while I threw things in the car.

Fog over the hill

The DJ’s Diner had two walls taken up largely by mugs. I was sorely tempted to buy a mug and put my URL on it. This is one of those moments when a wide-angle lens would have been useful. :-P

wall of mugs

The picture of the store I posted yesterday had a companion on the other corner, but it was (judging from the sign) closed a long time ago. There must have been a fair number of people in the immediate area to have supported two stores back when. There isn't any other sign of a town, nor does Google Maps show anything. But I’ve learned that there are, or used to be, towns or at least clusters of commerce roughly five miles apart on the highways around here. I suspect that, as motorized travel becomes more expensive, those places will reconstitute themselves.

Long-closed country store

So now we’re home. At least I don’t have to go anywhere for wifi.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3 comments

Escape from FAR Manor 2008: Random Vacation Pix

There’s really not much to describe… take us out of the all-too-real-life soap opera and we’re really boring people. :-)

Mrs. Fetched takes long and much-needed naps. We’ve been flitting back to the manor a couple of times but that's over with until we check out on Friday. I do a little surfing on the iPhone, and come over to the office to get wifi. We’re going to grill some chicken (marinated in lime juice) tonight, we’ll probably eat at the German restaurant in Helen tomorrow. It’s been a somewhat rainy week, so I haven’t been walking nearly as much as I’d planned and the motorcycle is back home in the garage.

So… how about a few pictures? These are all taken with my iPhone, since my digital camera bought the farm a month or so back. The iPhone’s camera is a little different from those in my previous phones: it’s portrait mode by default, and has a noticeably longer focal length than any other cellphone cam I’ve tried. Its low-light capabilities are typical smellphone suck, though.

This jukebox is in the DJ’s Diner inside the resort. If the thing is out of order… why not just unplug the silly thing?

sign on jukebox

Mrs. Fetched and Daughter Dearest playing ping-pong in the clubhouse. Since my motto at the table, borrowed from Other Brother, is “Give me a lob and I’ll give you a treat,” they didn’t want to play with me. Oh well.

Mrs. Fetched and DD ping-ponging

A country store in White County along GA115. I don’t think the pumps are operating, but the store itself is open.

Wall of mugs

I’ve got a few more pictures I’ll post in the next day or so.

Monday, September 08, 2008 5 comments

FAR Future, Episode 50: Tightening Up

I seem to have hit my stride, at least for a while. The episode after this one is done, and the next one was done but I realized I needed something in between, so I’m rewriting those two. And from there, I see my way clear to The End.

Thursday, November 26, 2015
Tightening Up

Another Thanksgiving, another year under the boot of the junta. And another birthday on Thanksgiving Day for me. Woo-hoo!

Daughter Dearest finally made it home at the end of September. Travel is a burden, not a convenience, these days — at least here in Wingnutistan. The legitimate government and the illegitimate one, as a matter of expediency, have made Reno the official port of entry between the two… countries? regions? It’s not a bad move, security-wise — with electric power curtailed, much of the city has mostly been abandoned. They keep power mostly going to the train station, a hotel around the corner, and a few restaurants. DD said the Harrah’s, just a couple blocks from the train station, is also still going… mostly for blackjack and poker because card games don’t need any extra electricity. I guess they pour most of the power they get into keeping the temperature tolerable.

So coming from what the junta insists on calling Pacifica, you get grilled about why you’re coming in and they comb through all your luggage. I’m not sure whether her father being a known dissident had anything to do with that or not, but they eventually said “welcome home” and gave her back her tickets. She said it was a lot worse for people going the other way… they rake you over the coals and confiscate anything of value out of your luggage. But once they let her through, it was a long slog: Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Kansas City. Then the southbound stretch through St. Louis, Memphis, Birmingham, and Atlanta. MARTA to North Springs, RoadTrain to the wheezing retail district, and finally the ride home (we used a car for this special occasion). It took her over a week longer than it should have to get here, but the junta likes to keep people waiting around until there’s enough people to mostly fill the trains, and there were several unscheduled layovers.

She brought a really nice present for me, something I’d heard about from Sammy but never thought I’d ever see: an Apple Gadget (“It’s your life, take it with you. Everywhere.”). It’s more or less an evolution of the iPhone, sporting the nifty screen/solar panel, voice recognition, and a portable office application. It looked battered; I asked her if the TSA goons played badminton with it. “No,” she said, “it’s made to look that way.” Then she gave me a list of screen gestures and pokes that, had it been any more involved, would have had me turning widdershins and typing gibberish under a full moon. But when I finished, the display said “Special Wingnutistan Edition,” and offered up a page of icons with a nice collection of encryption, communication, and (ahem) wardriving and cracking tools. Not a moment too soon, really… we’ve gotten notice that general Internet access is being shut down at the end of the year. “This measure is intended to conserve energy,” they assure us, “but cafés and local libraries will continue to offer both their own Internet-enabled computers and wifi if you desire the privacy of your own laptop.” Sammy, of course, has a different take: the junta is trying to clamp down on the free flow of information, and it’s lots easier to monitor who’s doing what at a few chokepoints. They’ve probably been doing a lot of traffic sniffing at the phone companies all along, but with anonymizers and multicasting, it’s been fairly easy to cover one’s tracks up to now. Sammy had an accurate description of what was coming a couple of weeks before it rolled out: you use your library card to register your Internet access, so they know when you’re on and any funny business is easier to track. I’m trying to figure out how this will affect people who telework… I certainly can’t afford (let alone find) enough gas to commute again. Maybe there will be some kind of VPN-only arrangements.

Of course, there will always be certain parties who “need” access for their connections with the junta… and that’s where the Gadget’s “special features” help out. Sitting in front of someone’s house with a laptop looks suspicious, but sitting at a curb with a bicycle and yakking at a phone (especially with a handsfree device) is pretty routine these days. In Wingnutistan mode, the headset cable doubles as a wifi antenna, which extends its reach and is very handy for the “WarScanner” application — you take a leisurely bike ride down how many ever streets you want, with the Gadget in your pocket, and it populates a map with the devices it finds. It has a pretty extensive database of “vulns” (vulnerabilities) for a lot of the equipment here on the wrong side of the divide, which makes getting access a little easier. That turned out to not be such a big deal… at least one wingnut never set up a password on his hub. He might have set a trap, but there’s one place where a) there’s wifi; b) you can sit for hours without being particularly noticed, long enough to run the passive cracking tools. Yep, the library. I know they’re using a Dozebox for the server, and wifi access to the card catalog doesn’t require registration… chances are there’s a security hole I could run a RoadTrain through.

One of the other apps, “Life’s a Batch,” lets you specify in advance what you want to do online — with blogging getting email-based nowadays, that works really well for me — so if the library server can be cracked, I could write up a post and replies to other people beforehand, and let the whole thing run with the Gadget in my pocket while I’m reading something junta-approved or even checking out a book. I’m actually surprised that the local library continues to be a summer activity magnet in the face of junta indifference (at best) toward any kind of public space, so picking one person out of a crowd could be difficult even if they realize something’s amiss. So I just might survive The End Of The Internet As We Knew It.

We’ll be having the community Thanksgiving dinner shortly. It gets better every year, in some ways. We all pitch in all year to make sure everyone has food, and then we have a good old-fashioned food orgy to celebrate it. Nobody gives Guillermo or his family the stink-eye, and Maria makes the best chili… almost makes me look forward to winter. Kim and Christina will come out as a couple this year, and I hope everyone embarrasses the living foo out of them. Just because.


Sunday, September 07, 2008 2 comments

Escape from FAR Manor, 2008: Days 1 and 2

I woke up Saturday morning, not as late as I would have liked, but got up and got some coffee going. Breakfast was, of course, on the porch. Since I'd left my tennis shoes at home, I didn't do much walking... although I did barefoot it the 50 yards (or so) to the office to get online and catch up with most of my blog-buddies. An elderly couple came in with a Compaq laptop for the same reason; I was curled up on the sofa next to the wifi box and they were across from me in another seat.

Later in the morning, I called Daughter Dearest. We had, at the request of Mr. Sunshine, ordered a refurb MacBook for Brand X earlier in the week, and it was scheduled for Saturday delivery. Having seen the FedEx trucks in the area around 4p.m. in the past, I was pretty sure that it would be mid- to late afternoon before it came in. I couldn't get Mrs. Fetched on the phone, but Daughter Dearest was answering hers and was at the same place (iHop). They asked me to buzz home just in case nobody else could be there for the delivery. Since I needed my shoes (and a few other things), I acquiesced.

Mrs. Fetched's Civic has been making nasty squeaking noises in the brakes for a while, and both The Boy and I told her to get the brake pads and a C-clamp, and one or the other of us would replace them. The job fell to me, although The Boy did help with verifying I had the right mounting bolts and got the first one loose (he had to take Snippet to work). The FedEx guy showed up while I was doing the brakes; Daughter Dearest signed... which was fortunate because I never heard him come up. He delivered the MacBook and backed down the driveway. Shortly after that, we piled into the Civic with Evil Lad NOT (Brand X's younger brother, whom we will refer to as ELN herefrom) and headed back to the condo. Brand X was spending the night with a friend (and left about 10 minutes before his computer showed up). We got pizza for supper, and ended up with a 2-for-1 deal because they messed up our order, so we took the second one with us for Sunday lunch.

The waterslide was closed (bummer to infinity), so we hit the miniature golf course then went to the clubhouse to play pool and ping-pong. ELN beat me at pool, and I pwned him at ping-pong, so that all worked out. After scarfing the pizza for a late lunch, it was back to FAR Manor to let DD get ready to get back to her dorm and other general running-around. The Boy hadn't been helping with the chickens, so I reluctantly took my Civic back (which meant I had to pick up Snippet from Wendy's this evening). This wasn't completely bad, because I got to hear Snippet's frustration with The Boy and the way things are going. "The thing is," she said, "I have nowhere to go. Well, I do, but I don't." Makes about as much sense as anything else around here.

Back to the hideaway tomorrow morning.

Friday, September 05, 2008 7 comments

Escape from FAR Manor 2008, Day 0: August Reflections

Current Music: Clubber's Guide to Goa Trance

Welcome back to the hideaway.

I had a plan today: bail out of work around 4, get home about 5, pack up and leave by 6, arrive and check in a 7, then make a grocery/supper run and be settled in by 8. Mirabile dictu, I ended up only 20 minutes behind schedule for a change! I don’t remember off the top of my head whether I ever mentioned it, but it seems that getting going at the beginning of a vacation usually ends up some hours behind what I had hoped for. I suppose it helps that I only had myself to pack for — yup, once again I spend the first night by myself.

Which isn’t a bad thing at all… it gives me a chance to decompress and enjoy a little peace & quiet, or at most the noise I choose to make.

Packed upSince I was by myself, and I loaned The Boy my car (in return for him or his school fixing a couple of nagging problems), I decided to see just how full I could pack the motorcycle. Stuff to make bread with, beer (dry county, remember), clothes, a couple of tomatoes & an onion for later, bathroom items. The crate overfloweth, so I grabbed the cargo net that we rescued from The Barge and wrapped it all up. The load was secure, but it played with the handling a little bit… which I kind of expected because it was somewhat top-heavy. The laptop and accessories went into its courier bag, which in turn I slung over my shoulder.

I managed to get out just before 6, and arrived at the hideaway at 7… and the office was locked? Hunh? It’s open until 9! I found an empty picnic table, flipped open the laptop, then a car came by and parked at the office. Only a few minutes. Unpack, hop back on the bike, down to Cleveland, scarf a Dairy Queen burger, grab the milk, cereal, and coffee, and come back in for the night.

Now that we’re safely past August, and I have a week off, I get to breathe a sigh of relief. As I wrote in an earlier post, August is usually the month from hell around here. It was a fairly typical August, except for the unusually pleasant temps… usually, it’s either hot or too hot but I think we only broke 90°F the first couple of days. Now that we’ve slid into September, my ride this morning left my hands rather cold. It won’t be long before I put the first lining back in my riding jacket.

There were good things and even worse than usual things this year: The Boy started to show signs of growing up (!!!), Daughter Dearest started college, Jam fell off a horse and spent a week in the hospital, and both of Mrs. Fetched’s parents have been in and out of the hospital this summer (her mom with an aneurysm that needs to be patched up). The chicken houses were less of a problem this time around, only because the previous grow-out ended in July and that’s when we had the big problems. Warmer weather would actually have been useful with the new batch, because they would have needed less extra heat… but that's the way it goes in August.

But both August and the wind-up to vacation are done. Tonight, I will enjoy a beer (or several) and do a little writing. A bit of flash fiction has been nagging at me, but I haven’t had the chance to write it down. Now… much writing is anticipated. I had to walk down to the office to bogart the wifi; I could pick it up from the kitchen window with the iBook last year, but no such luck with the MacBook. Tomorrow, Mrs. Fetched (and maybe DD) will join me.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 2 comments


There are times when living on Planet Georgia has its compensations. And then there are times — like now — when I’m embarrassed to admit it.

Did someone turn the clock back to 1957 when I wasn’t looking?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 8 comments

Kids in the Manor

As I mentioned earlier, Jam’s kids were here all last week; I took them to school every day but Friday. When Daughter Dearest heard about it, from her new nest at college, she said: “So much for the empty nest, huh?” (Our most recent father-daughter silliness consisted of her saying, “You just can’t wait to kick me outta here,” with the appropriate leg motion, while I would pump my fist and chant, “EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST!”) They’re staying down at their house with Jam, who isn’t supposed to be alone but doesn’t want to leave her house for a while. Go figure. But she came home for part of the weekend, with a short list of things she’d forgotten to pack, and a long list of things she’s not supposed to eat or drink… her handlers don’t want her golden voice damaged or something. But she was jonesing for El Rio, and we ate there twice over the weekend. She headed on back yesterday morning with Fred (her pet betta fish), her other stuff, and homework awaiting her at the dorm.

Last night, as I was trying to work on FAR Future and not getting much done, I saw The Boy’s car rumble up the driveway. I told Mrs. Fetched he was here, and settled in to wait for him to come in. After a few minutes, he hadn’t come in, so I went out to see what was going on. He was just sitting in the car (unusual), no radio playing (even more unusual).

“Hey… everything OK?” I asked.

“I’m just pissed off,” he said, looking out the windshield.

“You want to talk about it?” I almost got in the car, but he was smoking and it smelled pretty bad in there; the smell gives Mrs. Fetched a headache so I thought better of it.

“Nah. It’s just…” and then he started talking about it. He and Snippet and LDB (Little Drummer Boy, the drummer in his band) came up earlier partly for lunch, and partly so they could discuss how best to ditch the freeloaders that have accumulated at their place (Mrs. Fetched was quite willing to go down there and tell them that they would all have to pay rent if they didn’t clear out immediately), so there was already some stress. But it seems that after an afternoon and evening of mowing the lawn and cleaning up the place, The Boy decided he needed an evening nap and asked LDB to go pick up Snippet from her Wendy’s gig. (Yes, this is the same Wendy’s that M.A.E. worked at for a few weeks back when, with her friend Psycho/Repulsiva.) LDB had no problem doing that, but Snippet was miffed that The Boy didn’t come along… and started in on him (waking him up in the process) upon getting home. To avoid destroying something (like Snippet), he left.

At this point, Mrs. Fetched came out to see what was happening (she correctly figured something was up, since we were both still outside). We talked for a minute until the bugs found her sweet sweet skin, then went inside to continue. I almost offered to let him stay here for the night, but then he declared himself calmed down, thanked us, hugged us, and headed on back.

If I thought he’d listen, I’d advise him to ditch the girl. If I thought she wouldn’t, I’d advise her to give him some “me” time and not be so dang clingy. Or maybe I should give her decent advice and tell The Boy “but she didn’t listen” when she doesn’t take it… or maybe I should let things work out however they should.

Monday, September 01, 2008 2 comments

FAR Future, Episode 49: La Imagen se Escapa del Marco

Rene gets his own post…

Saturday, October 31, 2015
La Imagen se Escapa del Marco

Hola, y'all. I was playing around on the computer today, and the Internet was up. I asked Farf-Dad if he had something he wanted to post, and he said there was a lot he had to say but hadn't written anything down. He was busy decorating for Halloween, he said, but he logged into the blog and said something about throwing me the keys and being careful. I guess that's a metaphor, posting in his blog's like driving his car. So if anyone's reading, this is Rene.

Farf-Dad had the sex talk with all of us a while ago, I guess it was because the grownups are all worried about Kim and Christina. That was really weird. He said he thought I'd be the easiest one to talk to first, but he wasn't so sure after. I think he got upset when he found out I told the other guys about it, but we don't hide stuff from each other. He was telling me about how people make babies, and how we have to really be careful because there's already too many people in the world and stuff. But I knew what makes babies already, and I said I wasn't going to do anything stupid. But when I see what's happening with Kim and Christina, maybe he's right. Christina's really smart. I mean, Farf-Dad had to do some stuff so she could take college classes for biochemistry on the Internet. But when she's around Kim, and they're not drawing, she doesn't act really smart.

Kim and Christina are boyfriend-girlfriend now, but they say they're trying to be friends first. Maybe they just want to keep the grownups from freaking out more. I don't get it though -- I mean, Serena's getting pretty and all that, but it's still easy to be just friends with her. Both of us are OK with that. She said she wouldn't mind if we were boyfriend-girlfriend and neither would I, but maybe the grownups would have a nuclear freak-out if we started doing stuff too. Maybe it's because they're artists or something, they're weird that way. But most of the time when they're together, they're just drawing stuff. They rub their feet together when they're drawing and get really close together and things like that, but I haven't caught them kissing or anything. Mama said to watch them, and I try to. But if they’re doing anything, they're sneaking off when nobody's paying attention, and I don't think any of the grownups ever stop watching them. Kim says Christina's smarter than he is, but she's still too young to be a serious girlfriend. He says he's not ready to be a serious boyfriend either, but I think he's lying. He also said he's afraid he'll hurt Christina, and he's afraid of what the grownups would say. Farf-Dad says he's trying to be responsible, but he also says that's asking a lot from a teenager. (¡Muy gracias, padre-Farf!)

Anyway, Kim and Christina have been planning this big mural in the stairwell for most of the year, and Farf-Dad traded some stuff for a scaffold about a month ago so they could paint all the way up. By the time they got the scaffold, they knew exactly what they wanted to do, so they're almost done. It's really cool. They used pencils to sketch it out for a couple of days, then they started painting and it was fast. There's this big tree they put in front of mountains, a blimp over the mountains, and a house that looks like FAR Manor. They painted themselves kissing under the tree, and me and Serena with laptops and a solar panel -- that was funny! They painted a sun and clouds on the ceiling. Kim said if there was a light in the ceiling, they would have painted the sun around it.

They made some money at the festival in town this month. We can't go, but Kim took some of his and Christina's sketches and sold them. Farf-Dad said they didn't make a lot of money, but they made enough to pay for the booth space and the matte boards and had some left over. That's cool. It's hard to make money now, and drawings have to be really good to sell. Kim said he did some sketches of people for pay too, but he wished Christina was there. To help. (Yeah right. :-) I wish I could have gone. Kim said they had a bunch of really old race cars sitting out there, and they started all of them for a few minutes at noon. He said it hurt his ears with the noise they made.

Farf-Dad laughed at part of the mural. The tree has a branch that goes around the corner of the wall. Christina drew that part, I was watching them when she did it, and she put some writing around one of the leaves. Farf-Dad had to climb up on the scaffold to read it. She wrote, “La imagen se escapa del marco.” (The picture escapes the frame.) I don't know why he thought that was so funny. It looks a little weird, I think. But he didn't laugh at them kissing under the big tree. Maybe they're as good as they want to be. They draw stuff that the kids like, and stuff the adults like. But I think Farf-Dad was the only one of the grownups who saw the writing. The other grownups said the painting was really nice, and it was a really good job, and that was all they said. I think Mama figured out who the couple was under the tree, but she didn't say anything. If Papa didn't see it, she probably told him. I didn't see who painted that part, but I bet it was Christina. One of the pictures Kim sold was of them kissing on a stump in the middle of a forest, and Christina drew that too. You couldn't see their faces, but you could tell who it was from her hair, and she wouldn't draw herself kissing anybody but Kim.

We're all back in school now. Farf-Dad's real daughter got home OK and she's a teacher, so she's working with us. She tries real hard to teach Christina, but I think she needs to be in college or something. She's just so smart. But she does OK with everyone else. Her and Farf-Dad like to play jokes on each other, and it's funny. Farf-Dad helps Serena and me with our writing because he does a lot of it, and he said he wished his dad or brother were here to give Kim and Christina art lessons. He got all excited about some kind of phone she brought with her and gave to him, but I guess he'll write about it if he wants to.

I hope everyone who's reading this is doing OK. Maybe I'll get to do this again soon.



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