Friday, February 14, 2003


I have already taken my lumps for sic'ing the Squawkers on the Sewer King; as I stood out in the messy drizzle that can't decide whether it is rain or snow, hauling mightily on the canvas of the chamber's 14x14 tent, my cell phone rang.

"You have a Valentine's Day greeting," my Enabling Assistant proclaimed on the other end, with an ominous snicker.

And so the Squawkers launched into, what else, "Rock of Ages" over the phone.

Curse the cleverness of whomever deduced that I was reachable after all; I thought I had timed it all perfectly: nail the King, abscond into busy work outside the city limits, and then just wait out the afternoon. Curses!

But I still think I came out ahead. After all, they called from the Empire of Hardware, which means the Sewer King had to listen to them twice. In a row. And the second time, he even had to pay for it.

Some days it's great to be me.

Readers often ask me if the stuff I print on this website is really true. Can one person’s life possibly be this weird? Am I demented? Where can they get some of whatever it is the Sewer King, the Lord Macklebrains and I have all been accused of smoking? Etc.?

And how weird does something have to be before I’ll write about it.

Oh, anything will do, really. Sometimes, even just lunch.

But what a lunch!

I lunched today with the kooky, kooky core of the Saratoga club of Soroptimists International, who rightly discovered many years ago, along with FTD and Godiva and Hallmark, that Valentine’s Day is money in the bank if it is exploited correctly.

Enter the Sweetheart Squawkers, a group that, were it not composed mostly of sweet little grey-haired (or almost grey-haired) ladies and the odd certifiable medical bombshell (our own dear Dr. Di and her assistant, Mrs. Sketch, definitely qualify in this category), would certainly be prosecutable under RICO. For a mere five dollars American, anyone in town can aim them like a guided “musical” missile at anyone else in town for a special V-Day serenade, which serenade will continue unabated until the recipient also pays the crew five dollars American.

This isn’t exactly the Saratoga Community Choir, either, folks, though in terms of sheer goofy exuberance many of these girls could perhaps qualify for honorary membership in the Propeller Beanie Club (a.k.a. the tenor section).

Since I am of the disposition to patronize this group quite a lot on Valentine’s Day (a holiday I otherwise loathe, of course) – I sent them to both the Sewer King and his brother the Oracle last year, and wound up playing a lusty game of Squawker Ping-Pong with the Sewer King – they graciously invited me to lunch, to help them giggle and plot and, well, practice.

My Enabling Assistant was there with... oh god... the horror, the horror!... a Casio SK-1 keyboard. I know that one of the medical bombshells traditionally deploys a clarinet, but she was unable to lunch with us... And then there was My Own Dear Personal Mother and our Walking Partner... who both had combs and wax paper.

And were trying to figure out how to play them without getting the lip buzz of their lives.

And giggling.

And trying again.

And finally developing the knack for the placement of the wax paper, the proper tautness of the grip on the comb, the volume at which to hum. A great deal of work went into this.

So now that I know what’s coming, I deeply, deeply regret the fact that I have egged them on so very enthusiastically again this year.

And I hope that the Sewer King will someday find it in his heart to forgive me for being subjected to, what else, “Rock of Ages.”

Thursday, February 13, 2003


There's some good news on the Legislature's web site. One of those bills I'm always on about, HB 91, creating a sales tax exemption for the purchase of agricultural implements, made it out of the Senate Revenue Committee today and is on the Senate's General File.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to the committee members. But it's not done yet. Keep calling and writing, everybody.

Once in a while, the world outside that I left behind when I returned home to “Brigadoon” still manages to intrude into mine. Usually it does so in very weird ways that leave me pinching myself and suspicious, or confused and bleary-eyed, or peeking over my shoulder every few minutes to see if David Lynch is hiding behind a curtain, directing the scene.

This morning before I set down to beaver away some more at the chamber’s web page, I took a moment to peek at one of the many online magazines I sample at odd intervals throughout the day (this, probably, explaining much of why the intrusions of the real world come at such odd intervals, in such precise and tiny bites, and are, on the whole, so weird: I am choosing to let the real world in via controlled bursts, choosing the sources, and I have very odd and esoteric taste in sources) and saw an interview with one of my favorite living authors, William Gibson, he whose 1984 novel Neuromancer rocked my little 14-year-old world and taught me to see it in terms of data flow, cutthroat technological innovation, cultural melange...

Gibson has published a new book, Pattern Recognition and my first shock was realizing that the fact that he has written a new novel was news to me. My second was that he’s no longer extrapolating current trends into a sci-fi future. My third was learning that Gibson, who, while one of the original writers (along with Vernor Vinge) who coined the term “cyberspace” in his fiction, has long been a noted non-computer user of the Oracle’s caliber, is now keeping a blog, just like me (well, sort of)! My fourth was that I was being seduced into apophenia - or, actually, seducing myself into apophenia (for actually whenever one is seduced, it is the self seducing the self, seeking excuses for engaging in behavior or thought patterns in which one wanted to engage anyway, and not in any way the actions of another agent triggering the behavior), “the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things” as Gibson defined the word in his interview.

Gibson’s last couple of books have dealt, in some ways, with this phenomenon, which I have noted at odd times in this here blog when I catch myself becoming fixated on what appear to be leitmotifs for a day, a week, an event. Gibson has foreseen this as a species-wide tendency in his creation of characters who have uncanny, intuitive knacks for finding patterns in vast accumulations of data from which they can extract all kinds of useful knowledge; one character, cyberspying on a minor celebrity’s shopping and media consumption habits, suddenly deduces that she is about to commit suicide, even though he’s never met her, for example.

I’m not quite there yet, but I have today found myself plunged right into the soup. And it’s hard not to see it as weird or meaningful, when Gibson is talking in his magazine interview about how Cornell boxes of various kinds keep turning up in his fiction (at one point in his third novel he even has a slightly crazed Artificial Intelligence constructing them in an orbiting space station) and then a few hours later, in another stray moment, reading a completely different magazine with a completely different slant on things I find myself reading a brief “Hit and Run” reference to an appreciative retrospective on, who else, Joseph Cornell that appears in another magazine and so of course I go and read the retrospective because I’ve always liked Cornell anyway (fun and funky to learn, in reading that article, that I’m not the only one who looked at Cornell’s boxes and thought of one of my favorite poets, fellow New Yorker Hart Crane. Now, of course, I feel stupid for having felt like the only one, but before I hit the nodal point of that article, I didn’t realize just how natural and obvious that connection really was!)...

A few hours later, taking a break from bean counting and answering the same freaking question six times an hour – no, folks, I’m sorry, there are no motel rooms left in Saratoga for the chariot races – I hit upon a different article in a different magazine, one in defense of being a less than perfect housekeeper (which definition anyone who has visited the Unabomber Cabin unannounced would bestow on me in a New York minute), and here’s this woman going on and on about how much more interesting it is to have a car that friends of mine tend to call a “white trash storage shed,” how debris within it, left undisturbed, becomes kind of a time capsule, and oh my God, I’ve been making Cornell boxes all along!

Of course, we all are, whenever we deposit a bit of trash in a wastebasket in a room we don’t use much, or put the less important papers on our desks aside on the “stuff I’ll get to someday” pile, or put our grandfather’s weirdly eclectic mix of valuable antiques and stunningly pointless junk onto a bookcase shelf, so this is really nothing radical, but there it is, anyway.


William Gibson’s new book. Cornell boxes. Cornell’s career. Messy houses. Messy cars. Cornell boxes.

I’m just waiting now for William Gibson to come back.

Probably, I’ll just make that happen by reading some more of his blog.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003


“Holy sh*t, it’s bigger than I thought!”

“Mmm... Much more magnificent in person!”

“That’s a big ***ing rock.”

No, no, no, get your minds out of the gutter, dear readers. I’m actually talking about a rock. As in bones of the earth, pre-dirt, giant hunks of granite and lichen that poke out of the soil like icebergs in the North Atlantic.

And, Titanic-like, my Co-Conspirator In Everything (aka, of course, The Sewer King) and I have struck a doozy, though it’s still anybody’s guess if this Rock of Ages will sink us. As it stands, it’s become rather an unhealthy obsession with the pair of us, turning us into wild-eyed maniacs at the mere mention of the construction project on the Snowy Range Road, bridges, digging, playgrounds, anything, really that could be connected by even the wildest leaps of logic (and the pair of us are quite capable of those) to the general, Platonic ur-idea of rocks and thus to “Our Rock.”

“Have you seen it?” we demand of anyone who is dumb enough to trigger this Pavlovian reaction in us. “That rock, that beautiful rock, that hugewonderfulgorgeousworldclassrock sticking out where they’re carving out a section to straighten the road after the bridge?” (pause to wipe drool off our chins, to smooth down hair that has stood up on end, to shift back onto the chairs or barstools abandoned in our excitement to discuss The Rock).

Oh, Sweet Pan-Fried Jesus, we’ve got to have that rock. We know right where to put it, smack in the middle of Kathy Glode Park for the little tykes to climb all over in place of those giant truck tires that leave said tykes well vulcanized at day’s end, to the dismay of mothers everywhere. It would look magnificent there, remarkable, a monument to what this town was, is and could be (or could not be, if we don’t find a way out of our current economic mess... that rock could be all that is left of us, someday) and to its Creator, and yes, I, the Manichaen, the heretic, invoke the Creator in glory as I contemplate this rock.

Choirs of angels sing in soaring harmonies as one beholds this rock. A shimmering, blinding ray of sun has been specially assigned to pierce the clouds and illuminate this rock’s glory.

And we want to move it to town.

All of this is, of course, old news to our coffee buddies, our friends and neighbors and relatives and lackeys.

But this week, we stopped flapping our jaws, realized we’re the only people who really care about this project, and decided to see what we could do about it.

Can it be removed whole and entire or will LeGrand Johnson, the prime contractors widening the road out there, have to blow it to smithereens?

Once it’s removed, can it be transported to town (some 15 miles)?

Once it’s transported, how do we get it laid in at the park (at least the Sewer King, being in truth the king of all manner of things hydrological, geological, and paralogical, knows where the sprinker system runs underneath the park’s soil)?

Our coffee buddies finally convinced us that they didn’t know. Our Minister of Fun has stopped returning our calls. Our contractor buddies tap their foreheads at each other at the mere mention of our names*

So today, my CCIE and I climbed into his truck and went out to harass the people whose job it will be, ultimately, to deal with this gorgeous behemoth.

I had caught one of the sub-contractors at Happy Hour the night before, and he had promised to introduce me to the Big Boys today, so it shouldn’t have been a complete surprise to the nice young men in clean white coats who are coming to... I mean, the guys widening the highway.

Shouldn’t have been, but probably was.

Still, the nice foreman from LeGrand Johnson was very nice to us, hardly cracking a smirk at all as we outlined to him our grand, King Ludwig-like scheme for The Rock, and dutifully headed up the road a piece to contemplate the thing directly.

Hence the bits of dialog which begin today’s blog entry. See, my partner and I had only before glanced longingly at it from within the pickup. It really is bigger in person. A lot bigger.

According to Contractor Man, it may well weigh 300,000 pounds!

That’s a lot of granite.

And that’s only if we are actually seeing most of the rock. If it truly is iceberg-like... if it truly is... underneath that soil which surrounds and partly covers it may be more stone than was used to build the works of Ozymandias, King of Kings, in which case, Contractor Man will have to drill little holes in it, shove in big pieces of dynamite, and we shall have to look upon them and despair.

But while there’s rock, there’s hope. We haven’t bothered everyone there is to bother just yet. We know people who know people who have truly formidable equipment. And we are persistent, yes, and patient.

And it’s probably going to be a couple of months yet before the contractors have to do anything with the thing. Probably.

So, nobody’s safe for months yet. Months. Or more.

And regardless, we’ll be telling his grandchildren about this rock. I may write poems about this rock. It shall go down in local lore or we will die trying to put it there.

Go see it while ye may.

*Authorial postulate

Monday, February 10, 2003


So after a weekend of celebrating an apparent victory – the House of Representatives passed HB 296 on the first reading, and approved Rep. Latta’s amendments – and Winter Carnivaling (registration tent for the nordic ski races, one of many unofficial assistants at the Sewer King’s craps table at the casino night*, slogging along on my skis through the poker run), I came to work Monday feeling my oats.

A web search for the internet home of Recreationists of the Bow, a group dedicated to preserving all current uses of the Medicine Bow National Forest (but especially motorized recreation), turned up some interesting stuff that got me thinking more seriously in the direction a lot of my pals have as far as what to do about the current economy-wrecking Draft Management Plan for the Medicine Bow National Forest.

The tools and techniques of an opponent are often as effective against that opponent as against oneself. The stump humpers have proven themselves masterful litigators and petitioners (though pretty shitty scientists, on the whole), and we are going to have to become so as well.

So, as I clicked over to a silly and emotion-fraught petition to “Save the Bow” I saw that a perfect tool for this was easily available: a website called, what else, that is run by an organization called Care2, which, as you might guess from the name, is, well, Stump Humper Central.

Hey, I can do this, too! I don’t know ultimately how effective e-mail petitions really are in getting results, but if one side is using that tool, the other side ought to as well, to provide balance in the universe if for no other reason!

So, I made a silly and emotion-fraught petition of my own, emphasizing that the current management program has already put more than 200 people out of work and that the new plan in its current state poses an even greater threat to the livelihoods of some really nice people who actually love this particular forest way more than a bunch of college kids who’ve never even been to Wyoming do, and submitted it.

There is, however, something slightly ominous called an “approval process.” Someone from Care2 is going to “review” my petition and let me know if it is “acceptable” within a few days. Hmm. Big skeptical eyebrow raising, this.

I’m now taking bets on whether my petition makes the cut or not. What are the odds? Better ask the Sewer King.

*A deeply deceptive experience, that craps table: I am known far and wide as a person who will never in her life be able to rely on luck. If an element of chance is present in an activity, I fail it every time. But somehow, somehow, I was “hot” on the dice playing SKC (Sewer King Craps, which differs from regular craps in a few important respects, because the Sewer King was trying to run the whole table by himself AFTER a hard day’s skiing and so some of the finer points – like what pays “two for one” and what pays “30 for one” – tended to get ignored until we crapsolytes caught on to the basic stuff like the pass line). Blazingly hot. Nobody ever bet against me. I won a million dollars and hardly ever lost anything. Terrifying, terrifying stuff.