Friday, October 27, 2006

Argue either side: taxes kill

Teh funny, at least during attack-ad season.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Artesian bread

After the rain this morning, and after Alpha got done working on today's phase of the Great Bathroom Remodel of 2006, he and Beta and I went for a quick run to the butcher shop for some necessaries, then to the Farmer's Market and bought some beets. The summer squash were smallish (can you pickle them when they're little like that?), so we didn't get any. We passed on the other stuff as well, and headed to the grocery store (I've given HEB enough links. If their traffic from my readers isn't overloading their servers by now, it's not my fault. Well, maybe it is, but that's a different story altogether).

HEB is a friendly sort of store to shop. Three or four different spots there in the store, kind of scattered around, they have folks cookin' up or cuttin' up samples to toss to us as we go by. I suppose it's designed to get customers to deviate from their lists, but that's just a battle of willpower. Can't blame the store for trying. Plus, it makes the place smell better.

We'd grabbed our greens (no spinach, dammit) and our butter and cheese, and were headed for the beerandwine aisle (can't go to Lenny's every night), when a nice lady offered us a sample of "artesian bread". It was tasty. But I couldn't help feeling that it was more probably "artisan" bread than "artesian." Of course, it's technically more grammatically correct to refer to it as "artisanal bread," but who am I to split hairs?

I would like to see a picture of genuine artesian bread, though. I just wonder if it comes out of the ground in loaves or in slices...

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On creative boredom

Alpha and Beta, now that they don't live in the middle of nowhere, take frequent trips to stores that are actually less than fifty miles away. Most of the time they leave Ankle-Biter and me here at the house, to protect us (so they say) from the Texas heat. I take advantage, much of the time, to peruse the internet and read blogs. Some I read every chance I get, some I read less frequently.

One of the blogs I read regularly is written by Bob, a self-described reluctantly-retired long-haul trucker. Bob's good people. He likes dogs. He even puts a picture of one up once a week.

In this morning's post he refers to bananas as "monkey pickles." The reference is embedded in a story that has nothing to do with either jargon or the development of same, but the term got me to thinking about both.

Some of you may well be old enough to remember stories and songs about truckers and CB radios, and the lingo that evolved. I'm not that old, but the people I live with are. So I've heard it. Believe me. I've heard enough "What's your 20?" and "Smokey's taking pictures again" to make my stomach crave relief from the churning. And I've ridden past the dispatch yard in Omaha with all the baby-blue trucks-and-trailers enough times to make all of you feel the same way.

But just yesterday, Alpha and I rode out together to pick up some stuff, just around the corner at the H.E.B. (that's Texan for "grocery store, for you novices). As I sniffed that rolling belt that carries the beer away from us and toward the person that pushes the magic buttons that tell Alpha which card to wave at the other magic machine, I noticed that the guy on the other side of the counter was moving his pen along the belt. And every time it got to a certain spot - close to the end and right by a little glass dot on his side - the belt would stop moving. Alpha noticed, too, and the guy noticed that Alpha noticed, and said, "I mess with kids that way."

And I thought, "Boredom. This guy is less-than-challenged by his job, so he's inventing games."

And then, when I saw Bob's post this morning,I thought, "I wonder if it's all related."

Sure, there are other reasons that truckers would invent their own jargon: they need to be able to talk around the Smokeys, for one thing, or they'd collect more trading stamps than would be good for them. But that doesn't explain the creativity of "monkey pickles." That, I think, needs the ability of a creative mind to both navigate 60 tons of rig and load down the highway and at the same time wander the paths of creativity.

I wonder what they'd do with "achievement gap"...

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Gotta love it

It's a beautiful day:
Thunder and lightning, mostly in the distance, rain falling in surges, hard, then soft, then hard again. Thank goodness for the covered patio, so there's a comfortable place to curl up and watch it all while Alpha and Beta work their way through a pot of coffee.

We all went down to Lenny's bar-and-grill-and-swapmeet last night after supper. Someone had tied his Rottweiler to the lamp post outside for some reason. Maybe because of the "No Dogs at the Bar" sign, but that just means we can't actually sit at the bar - we have to keep our feet on the floor. Maybe to guard his motorcycle. Guess I should have asked the dog, but he looked grumpy, even after I gave him a sympathetic shrug on my way by.

It developed typically: Ankle-Biter and I curled up on the floor inside the door, Alpha and Beta sat at a nearby table, Lenny brought us each a beer, we watched the talking box on the wall, and we talked with some of the others who were there.

About twenty minutes later, a man in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt came in and asked, "Does anyone here own that Rottweiler outside?"

"Yeah, I do!" the tatooed guy at the bar said, standing up. "What about it?"

"Well, I think my chihuahua just killed him..."

"What are you talkin' about?!" the tatooed guy says, disbelievingly. "How could your little runt kill my Rottweiler?"

"Well, it seems he got stuck in your dog's throat..."

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Roast beef and race horses

Beta, bless her very much, has a pot roast in the oven already at this early hour, and rather than lie on the floor in from of the stove and drool, I thought I'd stop by here and blow off some steam. Besides, I can still smell it. Dog-drool doesn't jam the keyboard anyway. (Side note for humans: pizza sauce very effectively glues keys together. I had to do without my "g" key for a couple of days until Alpha realized what had happened and cleaned up after himself.)

Back to road-musings (and yes, Bob, you're welcome to join us at Lenny's anytime):

As you roll south out of Oklahoma and on into Don't Mess with Texas on Interstate 35, you travel some beautiful territory: steep enough grades to slow the eighteen-wheelers down, limestone outcroppings - some amazing habitat for things a dog just loves to chase. Oh, the human imprint is there, too, or there wouldn't be any I-35 to let us sail through: we'd have to actually slow down enough to filter through all the glorious smells.

Actually crossing the border raises a question for me, though, because before you come to the official Texas Travel Information Center" north of Gainesville, before you come to the first H.E.B., before you even get to the first business with "Lone Star" in its name or the first church or school, the first real-estate agent or pawn shop, you see right there on the west side of the interstate, DW's Adult Video "store." I should have made Alpha stop and take a picture, because words don't easily do it justice. Standing on the Oklahoma side of the border, anyone could snap a shot of DW's semi-trailer with the hand-painted sign, the wooden steps up out of the gravel parking lot into the trailer, and the handful of cars and trucks parked there anytime, day or night.

It just strikes me as odd that a state that has forty-six dry counties (entire counties where you can't even buy a bowl of beer, for those of you unfamiliar with the term), a state otherwise so staunchly Bible-Belt, would have a porn shop right on the border. It is, of course, Laissez-Faire Capitalism at its very best.

Closer to home, though, wide open ranch country begins to appear, and with it a number of horses, mostly quarterhorses.

Now I happen to think they're pretty critters, but they do get a bit full of themselves sometimes. Case in point:

Three of them were standing in the barn, chewing oats and chatting, just generally staying out of the midday heat. The first said, "You know, of seventeen races, I've won twelve."

The second, feeling his oats, insisted he had won eighteen of twenty-four. And the third, securely superior, insisted that she had won twenty-six of thirty-two.

The greyhound who shared the barn with the horses, somewhat tired of the attitudes, piped up, "Hmph! Brag all you want. I've won forty-five of the forty-seven races I've been entered in."

The horses looked at each other for a second before the middle one exclaimed, "I'll be darned. A talking dog!"

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