Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mexico Addendum

I can't believe I forgot this. While in Mexico last week something extremely odd happened. Deb and I were browsing in a shop, and we walked past two of the owners/salesmen/craftsmen. They were conversing in Spanish, and as I've mentioned before my Spanish is severely limited so I wasn't paying attention to it. That is until I heard something that went something like this... "[Spanish Spanish Spanish] Monty Python [Spanish Spanish Spanish] nudge nudge [Spanish Spanish Spanish]." Where I can only assume the last Spanish bit was "say no more", because that bit is deeply ingrained into my very being.

I'm in Mexico in a shop that sells brasswork javelinas and cacti, and two guys are standing there reciting the "nudge nudge" sketch in Spanish? See, this is why I need cybernetic implants. I would have been able to go online to babelfish and then say "la mueca rápida rápida de la mueca guiña no guiña a opinión del nudge del nudge no más." Sure, they would have thrown me out of the shop, because translating it back gives you "the fast fast face of the face yaws does not yaw not more to opinion of nudge of nudge." Which is apparently the formal translation of "snap snap grin grin wink wink nudge nudge say no more."

But what the hell do I know? I'm a lazy American, and I only speak English.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Did some redesigning, as you've probably noticed. I got tired of all the banners and flashing and stuff. The links are still there, but the distractions aren't. That first link on the left for the Animal Rescue Site is the only one I ask people to visit daily. No, I don't get any click-through money or anything like that. But it only takes two clicks for you to help feed an animal that needs it. If you can't spare two clicks, then I have no use for you. Whether you choose to click on the other things on the site is entirely up to you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Maroon Menace

While eating lunch the other day, we were witness to a group of women from the Red Hat Society. (No, they weren't a bunch of Linux fanatics.) In a nutshell, this organization was formed by some older ladies who wanted to have more fun in life. So what's the first thing they do? Mandate a uniform. Nothing screams "fun" quite so loudly as conformity. Just a bunch of people who are scared that they don't "fit in", so they make their own gang of bitties and say "Look at how different we all are!... in the same way." You rebels, you.

For those of you who haven't yet been sucked into a cult, there's still hope. Oh, and if you think you haven't been sucked into a cult, but you enjoy reality TV shows, I've got some bad news for you...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Just a Touch of Surrealism

The world can be pretty entertaining if you're observant. Humans, for example. Since we've been in Tucson, I've seen three different teenagers with spiked mohawks. (The haircut, not the hatchet.) Different colored mohawks, too. For whatever that's worth. I've also seen (on separate occasions) a few twenty- or thirty-something guys wearing polo shirts with the collar turned up. On purpose. Maybe it gets so hot here that the fabric of space-time has actually bent a little bit, and there are pockets of 1985 rolling around. If my hair spontaneously regenerates and I drop 40 pounds, I'll know for sure. But I don't just mean the entertainment that is observing humans, either. (Though that's pretty entertaining. Just ask Lenny.) I mean that sometimes you see things that cause you to look around for a witness to share in the strangeness or make you wish you had a camera. Like this...

Driving through southern Arizona, up and down mountains, through rolling fields, scrub, cactus, huge trees and parched rock... an iridescent peacock on the porch of a dilapidated house. I saw six on the property, but this shot was taken from a moving car, so give me a little credit. We passed an alpaca farm on this trip, and I've even seen an ostrich ranch north of Tucson. But those were big, sprawling businesses. With signs and whatnot. This was an addition to an outhouse with a flock of peacocks and peahens.

Thank you, digital camera! For making my world a little bit weirder.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Mexico - A Short Story

We have returned safely from Mexico. Call off the border patrol.

We went with friends of ours (who did all the driving! Thanks Dan!) to Nogales, AZ. From there, we walked across the border into Nogales, Mexico. Why are both towns named the same thing? Because you can never have too many towns whose names translate into "Walnuts." (If you think I'm kidding, you look it up!)

How can I describe this little slice of Mexico? I'll try involving all of the senses. It smelled like New York City on a hot August afternoon. For those of you who haven't had that experience, that's hot asphalt + urine + rotting garbage + strange intermixing food smells + car exhaust + sweaty humans. Add a touch of burro in there, and you've got an idea. The sounds were those of Latin music (not the Gregorian chant kind, but the kind where there are lots of brass instruments and people speaking Spanish), and the persistence of salesmen. I am happy to say that everyone we encountered in Mexico considered me their friend. They all said so. "Come into my shop, my friend!" "Good afternoon, my friend!" It was just all sunshine and gumdrops!

Actually, they were very civil. True, they could have been cursing us out in Spanish as we walked away. Most of them took "no" for an answer and went on to the next person. One guy did follow us for a half a block or so, but he eventually went back to his little shop.

The sights were... well, poor. Not dirt-poor, living in a cardboard box. But poor as in "please buy my cheap crap so I can feed my burro" poor. (And that isn't a slur. One of the burro owners actually said: "But I need to feed my burro!" as we declined his offer to have our picture taken with said burro.) (If you thought I was kidding about the burros, I counted four. So there.)

As for touch... I think only one merchant touched me on the shoulder. Briefly. (He did not make the sale.) (I may have lived on Long Island for a lot of years, but I still react to being touched in true upstate NY fashion: if I'm not choking and I'm not married to you, then you have absolutely no right to be within three feet of me, and you need to back the hell away before the offending appendage is removed and consumed.) (I think the years on LI reduced the radius from 3 feet to 2.5, but the principle is the same.) (Count the parentheticals, and win a prize!)

There were some strange old women who were apparently trying to sell used Fisher Price horses and those odd wooden snake toys. And also what appeared to be individually-wrapped starburst candies. I didn't really look. There were some young women and what I assume to be their offspring begging in the streets. The kids were wearing NY Yankees caps and sport shirts, and the women were wearing brightly-colored sheet-looking things. Again, I didn't look, because I'm a cold and heartless bastard. Although, it would have been funnier if I had gone with Deb's suggestion of shouting: "I am the Chupacabra!" and running down the street. Unfortunately, my compendium of Spanish consists of what I learned from Sesame Street. So really all I could do is run down the street, counting to twenty, and occasionally saying "abierto", "cerrado", and "peligro!" True, running down the street shouting about twenty exploding Chupacabras may have turned some heads, but it was hot and I was carrying stuff, so running was out of the question. Maybe next time.

There was some cheap crap there, and there was some cheap decent stuff there. We haggled, we purchased some stuff, and all in all had an enjoyable time. There were a couple of things that I found odd, though. Like cow skulls for sale. I know full well that cow skulls are an integral part of Southwestern decorating, and have been for decades. I just find it interesting that not only are there cow skulls for sale in many stores (competitively priced, mind you), but that it's someone's job to go out and collect the cow skulls. One way or another. Maybe they're scouring the desert for authentic sun-bleached ones, or maybe they're picking through the scrap pile at the slaughterhouse. Either way, it's not my idea of a dream job. (Oh. For the curious: about $16.)

Another curious item was spotted by yours truly back on good ol' US of A soil just north of the border. (Like 50 feet north of the border.) We walked past a grocery store with a sign in the window proudly proclaiming the price per pound of "Bolognia". I didn't know that you could sell tiny European principalities by the pound, nor would I ever have guessed that it could be obtained in such a fashion in the southernmost reaches of Arizona. Live and learn, I guess.

We took an incredibly scenic route to get there, so I'll probably post some pics of that in the near future. Living in Arizona is like living in five different states as far as terrain is concerned. That's very, very cool.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On the Road to Mexico

We're off for a day trip to Mexico tomorrow. If you don't hear from us by Saturday, send out search parties. Or, have a party with lots of margaritas. Whichever.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hot 'n' Stuff

It's just after midnight as I type this, and it's a cool 95 degrees. It only got up to 108 or so today, but it's cloudy so the heat isn't dissipating. Desert weather dynamics in action. Supposed to be in the triple digits all week. Which probably means that in July and August, you either burst into flames if you stand too near an exterior wall, or your cells just give up and liquefy. I'm just going to take the shelves out of the fridge, drill a little air vent, and hibernate in there. (Deb already has dibs on the freezer.)

Oh yeah. Probably won't post a picture of this, but my family will at least get a kick out of this... remember all the broken and damaged furniture from the move? Well, yours truly got himself one of them there idears. Put two of the dresser drawer faces together bottom to bottom, put some of the drawer side panels underneath that, cut the damaged strips from the entertainment center... and made a table. See, we're still looking for a coffee table that doesn't suck, but in the interim we needed something to use. Norm Abrams would be proud. (Or scared to tears.)

I've also been working on stores. Online stores, that is. I'm nowhere near done with everything I want to do, but if you're curious go to and search for "wontar". You'll find the five or so stores I've got done so far.

More pictures on the way, too. But in the meantime, here's a page out of my better half's book in the form of the pic of the day. It's the view off of our patio. Last night.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Dad! Thanks for everything. From teaching me what little I know about cars (not from your lack of knowledge, but from my lack of aptitude for it). Thanks for not being outwardly disappointed that I never really picked up on the whole "car" thing. Thanks for the work ethic that has caused me to be admired by some and loathed by many (and that wasn't sarcasm. Those who don't want to do a decent day's work can bite me.) Thanks for having your words come out of my mouth more and more often as I get older. At this stage of the game, if I had found out something contrary to your words I'd be saying them by now. (So you were either right, or I've been successfully brainwashed.) Thanks for the temper that drives me, and the amazing ability for restraint and control. (Which has kept me out of prison more than a few times because it's kept me from breaking people in half.) (It's made my skin glow red and my blood pressure skyrocket from time to time, but it's an OK trade.)

I'm not going to run down a litany of things. Just know that I appreciate them, and you, and I'm glad you're my dad.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Must Be Genetic

My brother told me a story today that had me laughing hysterically. See, he's a manager now, and he's currently going through some of the stuff that I went through. Hopefully he'll be smarter about it than I was and get the hell out before his blood pressure makes his head explode. But I digress...

He works in an optical lab, which means that his co-workers work with lenses, frames, temples (strangely called "arms" by those not in the biz), and other eyeglass terminology that won't mean squat to the average reader. One of his many, many duties is quality control. He was inspecting one job recently, and attached to the job was a hand-written note from one of his co-workers. (I'm paraphrasing the note, but using quotes anyway. Sue me.) The note said: "Thair lense is too beg." Now, you may be thinking that this is some sort of optical shorthand or lingo of some type. Nope. This is idiot longhand. Those who can speak and read kindergarten-level English would have grabbed their favorite crayon and scribbled out "Their lens is too big." Because in kindergarten we still have trouble with sentence structure, and really can't decide between "their lenses are" and "the lens is". But hey, what do you want from a five year old?

Unfortunately, the person in question was just a wee bit older than I am. That's a hell of a long way from five. After a certain age, I think it should be a law that if you can't spell a three-letter word, you should be mulched. At least then you'd be doing some good for future generations.

He offered to bring in one of several dictionaries he has so this individual could perhaps learn to spell. Not to memorize it, of course, but at the very least to learn how to spell "lens". After all, it is one of the nouns encountered most frequently in this person's day. There should be at least a passing familiarity with one of the tame four-letter words.

He needed to laugh just as much as he needed to vent. I know exactly how he feels. When you get to the point in your job where you have the overpowering urge to pick people up and shake them because of their relentless stupidity, then it's time to go. If you stay, you'll either end up with high blood pressure, an ulcer, both (or worse), or actually caving in and tossing stupid people around like hay bales. (That's worse, because you just get tired that way.)

Maybe he'll kick back with me and we can watch the English language continue to languish and die. We're from a generation that didn't have a "no child left behind" asinine policy, and we can spell because of it. If you were stupid, you had to repeat a grade. You failed. You were mocked. If you continued to be stupid, you failed again. Or maybe, just maybe, if you failed that gave you a reason to actually try harder and succeed! Revelation! Education was more important than your flippin' self-esteem.

Bah. I'm off to listen to more radio shows so I can hear the phrase "to whom" used correctly. I'm 40 years too late, or 100 years too early.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum today. Holy. Cow. It's open until 10pm on Saturdays, so us arriving at 3:30 really wasn't that big of a deal. Great day. Low 90s, very breezy. But this "museum" isn't a museum in the traditional sense. It's part zoo, part botanical garden, part museum. We spent five hours there, and I could easily see how people could get there at 7:30am and stay until 10pm. I shot about three rolls of film. (Yes, I still use actual film.) Saw mountain lions, coyote, black bear, wolves, javelinas, a bajillion humming birds... I won't bore you with the list, but there were a lot of different types of animals. It's an extremely well-designed place. Lots of shade, drinking fountains scattered along the paths... I was amazed at how comfortable I was traipsing through the desert! (I've been known to traipse.) The museum is just on the other side of Tucson Mountain Park, which is near the Saguaro National Park. Roughly 15 minutes from where we live. Jealous?

You'll see some pictures up soon. Just a little too tired now to worry about it. Woke up and learned I sold two more pictures. Continue to color me happy.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Cutting Edge Technology and 1943

We recently bought a new mini stereo thing from (They no longer have it, so I can't link to them.) The first one was damaged when we got it, but they were extremely fast and efficient in arranging the return and shipping out a new one. (Therein lies the answer to the question: "Why do you have an button on your site?") It plays MP3 CDs in addition to regular CDs, so we've spent most of the day in the computer room listening to old radio shows. (Dimension X, The Whistler, The Shadow, etc.) And you know... I'd rather listen to radio shows from the 30s and 40s rather than watch most of what's on TV these days. In fact, we just reduced our cable service to the basic package, because we finally realized that we had 400 channels and all of it was crap. We can see the news, Family Guy on Sunday... and that's pretty much it for our shows anyway. If I want to watch reality, I'll go outside. And I've had my fill of idiots, so I really don't need to watch people eating bugs for money or lying face-down in lava for a trip or whatever the hell it is they do. If I want to hear people who can't sing, I'll turn the radio to a rap station and listen to people talk to music. (Damn kids, waving your collective fists at musical tradition.)

Sold another picture, too. Cool. I'll add more pics soon, especially after this weekend. (I'll tell you afterwards, don't worry.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The DNA Stops Here

I'm very glad I'm not a parent. I'm also glad that my brother was the one to ensure the continuation of the MacDNA, because it sure as hell would've died with me. Two recent stories as to why...

We were eating lunch in a restaurant the other day. Nothing fancy, but not fast food. The restaurant is currently involved with a movie tie-in that gives children an animal mask. Whoopee. The table to my left had a father and son enjoying lunch as well. At least, the father was enjoying lunch. The son must've just finished his lunch of crack-frosted caffeine flakes, because he was bouncing around like flubber in a paint mixer. The father was just calmly enjoying his sammich and iced tea or whatever in the hell he was having, while Junior was getting up out of his chair every .003 picoseconds and jumping up and down whilst wearing the animal mask. Ostensibly to make the baby in the table next to him smile. Which, granted, it did the first time or two. After the 80,000th time, even the baby got sick of it. And babies have the time of their lives with cardboard boxes.

Now, I want to pause here and point out that my parents were never, ever violent with me. They told me to do something, and I generally listened. (Kinda. Eventually.) So there's no deep, dark history of familial violence that prompted the images flashing through my head when I placed myself in the personage of that kid's father. Which is: get up from the table, go into the kitchen, grab a frying pan or large skillet, walk back to the table, and give the kid a good full-on smack to the back of the head with the frying pan while shouting "Sit the F*(% down and shut the F*(% up or you will never eat anything, anywhere ever, ever again!" (I would say the actual expletive, because it's far too difficult to say all those characters in a string and still be taken seriously.)

Now I know that any parents reading this will say: "You don't know! You don't have kids! They're hard to discipline!" No, they're not. They're actually quite easy to discipline. Kids actually respond to discipline. They can also smell fear. When parents are too afraid to discipline their children, then the children are in control. Which leads me to my next story...

A 14 year old boy recently went on a little trip here in Tucson. What kind of trip? The kind where he's driving along a street full of pedestrians, motorists, and just plain ol' ordinary people. Well, that's a bit young to be driving, right? Sure is. Especially since he's driving a 40 friggin' ton earthmover! One tire of this thing is taller than your average big-ass SUV. The kid was cruising down a main thoroughfare doing 30 or 40 miles an hour, for 15 friggin' miles! He knew how to drive the thing, how to lift up the bucket to even move it in the first place, and how to back it up. Cops shot him when he tried to back over them and their cars, and the little Dr. Destructo is now in the hospital in critical condition.

Why was he doing this? Or I should say, "allegedly" doing this? Because mommy and daddy (and presumably he) were moving. Here's a tip for anyone out there who may be thinking of running away from home... don't do it in something quite so conspicuous. I think a flaming chuckwagon being drawn by a team of squid is less conspicuous than a 40 ton earthmover flattening cars and powerlines as it goes.

If I were the father and the cops hadn't shot him... I'd shoot him. Twice. Up close, personal. Hell, it's not like they're going to stay put now! Timmy had a temper tantrum because they're moving... oops! Now they have to move, because everyone will know them as "that family whose little bastard crushed 15 miles of my road and knocked out power for a few thousand people." Way to go, sport! You're bound to have pen pals!

(I just hope his greaseball lawyer is seen as the smudge of slime he is when the trial comes. But that's a whole different topic.)

So... yeah... very glad I'm not a parent. Hope I've made that apparent. (Oh, you knew it was coming.)

Monday, June 06, 2005


Someone who shall remain bald jokingly told his wife that they should move the computers into the coolest room of the apartment instead of the hottest room in the apartment. Unfortunately, he forgot to hold up his "I'm only kidding, dear" sign. So... we spent the day moving furniture around. (Hopefully we won't do this once a month.) Honestly though, it looks much better this way. Our living room now looks like an actual living room instead of a computer room with a loveseat in it. The living room has our sofa and loveseat in it, and the second bedroom is now officially the Computer/Lego room. We've got computers, we've got legos... what else do you need in life?

I've also received a few calls regarding my resume I posted at Unfortunately, they're all from insurance companies. I have no idea what it is about my resume that makes them think I want to sell insurance, but I wish I could find it and delete it. Then never, ever write those words in the same sequence ever again. Unless, of course, I needed to summon some sort of demon or something. Good to be prepared.

I also sold another picture today, which brings the total up to four. Look out for me and my art madness!

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Deb and I were riding around southern AZ today as passengers. (We were looking at houses, which I'll probably talk about in another post.) Something very odd happened. We were zipping along quite nicely in the left lane when a red truck came up next to us. Not fast or anything. A definite mosey. The guy stuck his head out the window, and started yelling at us. We have no idea what he said, but I was able to make out something like "what the hell..." and that was it. (Hey, it's hot. Our windows were rolled up, and the AC was on. I'm not about to roll down a window to hear some guy yell.) But then... here's the weird part... he slowed down. Not "slowed down to follow us for the next 50 miles". Just slowed down. He wasn't yelling at us because we were driving slow, not yelling because we were driving fast, and not yelling because we cut him off or anything. (He had to speed up to catch up with us from wherever he came from.) Maybe it's too hot to have road rage here. Or they're just no good at it. Road rage isn't driving up to a random car, yelling at it, and then slowing down again. That's just silly. Unless the reason you slow down is to follow the car for the next 20 or 30 miles, flashing lights and occasionally throwing severed doll heads filled with ketchup out the window. (I've only done that once.) (OK, twice.)

Maybe I could give offensive driving lessons here. Teach people how to drive while ignoring the damn "space cushion" that seems to still be in effect. How to drive while looking like I'm fluent in sign language but also have Tourette's. (Yes, I stole that bit. It's damn funny. Thank you Larry.) These wacky Arizonianites, with their safe driving habits and their politeness... the guy probably was yelling "Have a nice day!" to us. Weird.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Who Watches the Watcher?

I started off today by being very, very, very angry. Not only angry, but angry on the phone. I absolutely hate the phone. Hate it with a passion. (You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.) (Thanks, Bruce.) Rather than go into a long-winded diatribe of why I'm angry/who made me angry, I'm going to give an unsolicited plug for an extremely cool website: StatCounter. They have a hit counter/web tracker that is absolutely top-notch. They have a free service as well as a subscription service, but the free service has a ton of features for your average user. If you have a website, or a blog, and are curious to know who is coming by to view your stuff, I highly recommend their service. For example, I can log in and tell that I had 1,153 page loads on my sites, and 723 of them were unique users. I had visitors from the US, Singapore, India, the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Finland, Honduras, China, Estonia, and the Philippines. How cool is that? Makes you really appreciate what that first "W" is in "WWW". I can tell where they came from and how long they stayed. It's also how I found out that people were stealing my site content. If that's a concern, then check them out.

No, I don't get a referral or a "finder's fee" for sending you to them. It's just cool. Interesting to know who's coming by for a visit, and who's coming by to steal your silverware.