Friday, December 20, 2002


It’s not every day I find myself quoting Hoppusai, the underwear stealing pervert/martial arts master of Ranma 1/2 fame (if you don’t know who Ranma 1/2 is, you probably don’t want to), but I know of nothing else more appropriate to say about the fruit of this morning’s labors besides:

What a haul! WHAT A HAUL!

I’m so happy that I don’t mind the dust in my bra, the lingering smell of natural gas, age, and god-knows-what-else that clings to my clothing, the time I spent freezing on the top floor of Saratoga’s weird little airport terminal or squeezing my way up and down the tight, narrow little spiral staircase that takes one there.

What was I doing sneezing and wheezing in the accumulated junk of the ages crammed into said airport terminal, one might ask?

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy, eccentric, rather anal man who, in his day, had his fingers in even more pies than Your Humble Blogger, if you can believe that. He has been mayor of Saratoga several times, he’s run the airport board, the planning commission, oh goodness, I don’t even know what all.

And now he’s down for the count, essentially, no longer residing in Saratoga, ailing in some warmer clime (Arizona, I suspect) and not involved really at all in our affairs, except in that, well, he left a lot of stuff behind in the airport terminal.

A lot of stuff.

It’s kind of like dunging out the chamber office all over again, really. Except the equipment is even more archaic – one could found a small but devastatingly complete museum of 1960s communication and security technology with what we found in just one corner of the upper storey, for instance.

There were boxes and boxes of outdated office supplies, rolls of adding machine tape, address labels imprinted with his name and address, sheets and sheets of ledger paper. There were huge metal desks largely useless in the age of computers because, of course, they’re ergonomic nightmares even if one is simply going to sit at them to write, let alone if a computer terminal and keyboard were placed on one.

An ancient photocopier that still uses thermal paper... well, I can’t mock that overly, as my office still uses a thermal fax machine... which, incidentally, is why one always hears me sigh heavily whenever he says he’ll fax me something...

But none of this is part of the haul that has me so excited, so delighted, so benighted with joy.

Good lord, the old man was a HORIZON collector!

And what is HORIZON, most of you are now asking?

Long before there was a Smithsonian magazine, or Civilization or American Heritage, hell, probably before there was an Art News, there was HORIZON, a monthly publication that combined all of these interests and more, an omnivorous masterpiece of a periodical that rightly assumed its readership wanted to know about more than one thing. My favorite issue of same, for example, has a detailed look at “Saint Paul and His Opponents” in the same slim volume as a look at “Land: An American Dream in Crisis” and at the paintings of Rousseau and an essay by Anthony Burgess, of all people, about the Brothers Grimm.

Oh, it’s one of the wonders of the 20th century, this magazine which had its heyday about three years before I was born (though it did keep publishing until 1977). It was the secret ingredient in many a dazzling term paper I wrote in junior high and high school; it awakened in my 12-year-old brain even greater curiosity than said brain was born with, about subjects that I otherwise would not have encountered, even growing up amongst Saratoga’s High Elves, until college or later, things like Qabballa, the Wellesleys, Chinese calligraphy, the bizarre world views of Noam Chomsky, Hieronymus Bosch and Alvin Toffler.

But these magazines were dear to me long before I discovered their contents.

Before they were obscure references in my book reports, before I quoted them amongst the Beach Boys lyrics in my economics papers for poor, dear Mr. Nerland, they were among my first toys!

HORIZON, you see, published in hardcover.

The resulting volumes were a little larger than ordinary magazines in width and height, and were maybe a quarter-inch thick.

Combined with the astonishing variety of Legos, building blocks, toy animals and other crap at the disposal of My Own Dear Personal Sister and I, HORIZON magazine was tailor-made to bring out the architect in both of us.

Oh, the elaborate, multi-level dollhouses she and I made for her Tonka people and my Playschool animals! It would take us the better part of the afternoon to agree on a floor plan, construct and furnish the house, and play in it for... oh, about ten minutes or so before the fading twilight announced the coming of Our Own Dear Personal Dad, who strongly disliked hearing my mother’s histrionics when he tripped over or trampled her beloved magazines. Far better to clean everything up before he got home.

(Here, by the way, is one of the chief measures by which I say with such conviction that my mother was meant to be a mother, while I was not: I could never, ever bring myself to allow any children, mine or no, to build little houses out of my HORIZON collection!)

It should suprise no one to learn that my mother’s collection of these precious magazines was among the first things I “liberated” from her home when I set up housekeeping for myself in Saratoga.

And now, today, this morning, I acquired more of them!

And so, the only cloud over my near-incoherent joy is the knowledge that I still, as I type this, have several hours yet to go before I’m free to bring the box into the Unabomber Cabin at Kate’s Landing, open it, and compare that dear old man (really; I always rather liked him, but now I find I like him so much more for learning this about him!)’s collection with my own.

I’m pretty sure that he had a lot of the volumes I’ve been missing.


Thursday, December 19, 2002


It wasn't the long lines...

It wasn't the bad roads...

It wasn't the highway patrol...

I can't even blame it on the boogie...

No! I was betrayed by one of my own in my quest to go see The Two Towers last night in Rollicking Rawlins, Wyo.

The ink was barely dry, I mean the pixels barely burned, on yesterday's blog entry when I strode confidently across the street, Molly the Collie of Folly confidently in tow, to pile into Good Old Klexton (aka my 1989 "rose quartz" colored Ford Taurus) and get ready to head out... only to find that Klexton had other plans.

Like not starting.

Even though all things electrical were working just fine.


So, undaunted, I plodded back over to my office and my phone line here (because, of course, my cell phone battery was dead. Of course), only to find that I couldn't get through to my traditional automotive aide, that being My Own Dear Personal Dad, because My Own Dear Personal Mom was online!.

So, I tried a few other people.

The Minister of Fun... didn't have his car with him. "Sit tight, sis, and maybe I'll be able to help you in a little bit. But first I have to call Skank, because there's no way we're going to Rawlins tonight."

(The line was a factor, as were the roads. Sigh. There was already a line forming at 4:30, fully three hours before the start of the movie. Did I invoke it by typing about its theoretical existence on this very blog? Who knows?)


Then I called another bloke who owes me a favor, a guy whose computer I fix way more often than he fixes my car (OTOH, it takes usually ten minutes to fix his computer in the warmth of his office, while my car only wreaks havoc outdoors in blizzard conditions)... only to find he was already in Rawlins!. Batting .1000!

Then I called the Empire of Hardware to see if the Sewer King or one of his many, many lackeys could help. The answer was maybe... the vehicle that had the much-needed jumper cables was out in the field somewhere. I was again told to sit tight.

So not seeing the movie tonight, I realized. Sigh.

I did finally wind up getting in touch with my Own Dear Personal Parents, through the somewhat extraordinary step of sending MODPM an e-mail saying, in essence "get the hell off the phone line, please."

So... by the time I got through by phone, MODPD was already on his way down the hill.

Klexton started up like nothing was wrong, but by this time, my spirits like my person were wet, miserable and cold.

"Why not come up to the house and have some stew," My Own Dear Personal Sensible father offered.

So I did.

And I got to watch this odd little TV show with them, called "Ed," which is about a hotshot lawyer who returns to his nauseatingly quirky and charming home town to run a bowling alley (already kind of close to home, as it were) and practice law, and whose primary concern in the episode I saw was sets of neighbors suing each other over stupid things like the shade cast by a gazebo and fences that strayed past property lines.

Shades of our own recent planning commission hearings? Yes, some. I watched most of the episode between slaps to the forhead and peering between barely parted fingers with which I had covered my eyes. Yikes!

Then, to top things off, when I finally made it home (Klexton again perversely starting up without a hitch!), one, two, three, lightbulbs went explosively kaput!

It went sort of like this:

Kitchen/foyer - flick the switch, loud popping sound, phhht!, darkness

Living room - flick the switch, loud popping sound, phhht!, semi-darkness (still one working bulb in that room's fixture)

Bathroom - flick the switch, soft popping sound, flicker, darkness

Oh! That reminds me - I need to stop over at Empire of Hardware and get more lightbulbs. Reading by candlelight sounds romantic and old-timey, but it's really quite annoying.

Especially when the candle burns out.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002


When I might actually be brought to the point of envying my friends in post-urban pods near Chicago, Denver, etc.

As anyone who has been paying attention to even a little bit of the popular culture these last few months knows, there’s a movie coming out today that I’ve been anticipating rather a lot.

And it’s opening, in Rawlins (40 miles away) at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Out there in the real world, people have been lined up outside movie theaters Star Wars-style for quite some time to get tickets to the premiere of The Two Towers, the second installment of the film trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings (for my rather extensive take on the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, click HERE. Tickets have been bought in advance, plans are being made for pre-and post-viewing rendezvous, life is relatively normal even for the most ardent Tolkein freak.

Not so for us in Saratoga.

See, the nearest movie theater to us is an 80-mile round-trip from here (hence the local locution “an 80-mile movie,” denoting that very rare and important film that is actually worth making the 80 mile round trip to see).

And said theater refuses to sell tickets in advance, as I discovered last year when, anticipating some weird Rawlins, Wyo. version of the Star Wars line-around-the-block phenemenon, I forced my date-cum-ice fishing buddy to haul his sorry ass out of work an hour early so we could be on the road by 5 p.m. to make it to Rawlins by 6 p.m. to get a ticket for a 7:30 p.m. showing.

Well, at least the bar nearest the theater (that being the otherwise terrifying Peppermill) serves Newcastle, though not, alas, Guiness.

Further complicating matters this year is, well, the weather. Currently, at 15:53, it is snowing gently, a breeze is blowing, there are rumors of hideous traffic conditions on Interstate 80, and people in the know have been casting sympathetic looks in my direction all day long as they observe how it’s just possible that tonight will be said Interstate’s first weather-related closure of the season.

Ahh, but they’re not reckoning with the devotion, the sheer psychotic obsessiveness, that characterizes me and mine, we who will shortly form a Road-Warrior-esque Caravan of Freaks heading north and west to take in this premiere.

I pity the highway patrolman who encounters us at any blockade that is thrown up, our bloodshot, beady eyes staring fixedly westward, tattered paperback copies of The Two Towers in our hands, glowing Burger King LOTR goblets from the marketing blitz that accompanied the first movie on our dashboards, emergency schnapps bottles in our glove compartments. He will not know what to make of us, especially, well, if he recognizes me.

And yes, I know the flick is going to be there for a while. I already have plans to take my mother and sister to it on Sunday afternoon. But catching the first screening of this is something special in a completely geeky way that either you will get, dear reader, or you will not.

I will try to make an analogy: how many of you out there have ever waited, trembling, for opening day of hunting season? You know you have a whole month or so to hunt your deer, antelope, elk, lion, whatever, but it’s really, really important to get out there on the very first day, isn’t it?

I think in particular of my good friend, the Oracle, who last year downed his elk right as the sun came up on opening day, then had to sit there, freezing in his truck for a few hours before there was really sufficient light for him to walk out there on his bum leg to retrieve the beast.

His brother the Sewer King, of course, likes to wait until much later in the season and just goes out on one day and shoots a cow elk with little fanfare or ceremony (though he always manages to somehow damage his iron, doesn’t he?) and is probably rolling his eyes at this whole column, but hey, he’s a weirdo anyway.

The rest of you have some idea of what I’m talking about here, though, don’t you?

Don’t you?

Monday, December 16, 2002


I've been remiss. I have wantonly ignored your needs to gallavant off and fulfill my own petty desires. On Tuesday last, for example, I chose to prepare for a big fat public hearing on the one-mile buffer zone instead of blogging.

On Wednesday, I spent my time reading the exciting, the page-turning, the impossible-to-put-down (very early) draft of the Level 1 study of Saratoga's water treatment and supply options that is being done for and funded by the Wyoming Water Development Commission, instead of blogging, and then, instead of blogging, went to a meeting of our water and sewer joint powers board there to discuss the contents of said study (and the lacunae therein; there's a lot of stuff supposed to be in there that ain't, as yet) and to watch the Sewer King be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the fulfillment of his titular role (he loves that word, "titular" for reasons I decline to contemplate in this particular venue).

Then the aforementioned member of the local nobility and I raced over to the church for our very last choir rehearsal before our two concerts (two! two concerts in one day! aiieeeee, aiieeee, shub niggarath!). Instead of blogging.

On Thursday, instead of blogging, I went home on time like a good girl and chilled out for the evening to watch the enormous backlog of that silly Sci-Fi channel miniseries, "Taken." I won't even try to convince you that this is an adequate excuse for depriving my dear readers of my deathless prose. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, I repent in dust and ashes.

Instead of blogging on Friday, I spent most of the day patting my Enabling Assistant reassuringly on the back as she sweated the small stuff for her latest catering gig, that being Tad the Grocer's Christ-X party, to which I myself later repaired as a guest instead of blogging. The sights, sounds and smells I encountered there are none of them fit for blogging anyway. Suffice it to say I'll never look at my optometrist the same way again.

Or my dear friend Sketch...

Or Tad, for that matter...

Then on Saturday, instead of blogging, I chose 100 more losers in the Chamber's Reverse Drawing (by some miracle, among the 50 survivors left on the board are myself, the Sewer King, Jet Fuel, Tad the Grocer's wife - though neither of his dogs nor himself made the last cut - Mrs. Sketch, and both of my walking buddies! Of course, all of my other friends went down in flames). And later on, instead of blogging, I got slightly dolled up (actually very dolled up for Your Humble Blogger) and went to the graduation party of the Mad Snowplower's Girlfriend, only to discover that some cowardly employee or other of the MS's establishment had discovered my vengeful prank against him and restored the bathroom language lesson system to its original Spanish. Boo!

At least we got to watch the Cowboys beat Texas Tech on the Lazy River Cantina's famous yellow widescreen while we downed our crawfish and Guiness...

Then instead of blogging on Sunday morning, I went cross country skiing. With someone who is a) A much better skier and b) In much better shape than I am. Oh, and don't forget factor c) the Collie of Folly, along for the ride and much amused at the idea of trying to herd me while I was skiing, with predictably disastrous results.

Also I completely neglected to stretch out before hitting the trail. With predictably disastrous results.

Instead of blogging.

So rest assured, dear readers, I am paying for my neglect of you. I wouldn't trade a second of how I spent this week away from you for anything in the world (except maybe a time machine I could use to go back to about 10:30 a.m. yesterday morning to scream at myself to stretch out, you fool! Stretch! You're not 25 anymore! You're not even 30 anymore! If the pro-lifers had their way in reckoning age, you'd already be 33! STRETCH, damn you! aiieeee!), but payback is most certainly a bitch.

But nothing's going to keep me off the ski trails this coming weekend, even if the snow still sucks.

Except, oh wait, I get to go watch the Cowboys suck in person. With my sister.

Well, let's hope they don't suck.