Monday, January 26, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
I knew I would fail if I tried to quit without some artificial starting point, so since it was only a couple of days until my birthday, I decided to keep smoking until bedtime the night before then, and start all over.
That was three days ago, and so far so good.
Some of my triggers are wierd. I've already discussed boredom and pissed-offedness and the fact that my hands and mouth seem to have their own residual memory of smoking, and they don't want to quit yet. I have others that are stranger.
One is other people talking about my quitting smoking. It doesn't particularly matter what they're saying about it; whether they're congratulating me or telling me I'll never succeed at it, the very fact that they are talking about it at all triggers the "I HAVE to have a cigarette now" subroutine in my brain.
I think it's rooted somewhere in the notion that the decision to quit smoking is a private one (he notes as he tells the entire blogosphere about it), and other people shouldn't be talking about it. So maybe I'm punishing them (I have no idea why punishing others and smoking cigarettes are interwoven in my brain) or at least NOT rewarding them for talking about it.
Another trigger is realizing that in the past X amount of time it hasn't been that difficult not smoking. I'll be going along just fine and the thought "You know, this not smoking thing has been pretty easy this time" will pop into my head, and then WHAM! I will either want a cigarette right then or will want one the very next time things don't go the way they ought to go.
I guess the lesson that one teaches is that, for the rest of my life, I can never let my guard down. And no matter what, I am not capable of having Just One.
It's 8:20 now. Sadly enough, tonight that means it's Time-A-Go-Seepy.
[1-26-09 Update: Another trigger is being unable to go anywhere, which will be the case starting in a few hours and lasting several days with the oncoming Ice Storm.]
From the looks of the forecast, there's not gonna be any good hanging-out days for at least another week, and I'll probably be out of socks and maybe underwear by then.
I did a load of colors yesterday, and it is still hanging on the clothesline on the front porch. They weren't quite dry yet, but I thought surely they would dry by noon, so I could bring the basket inside for a load of whites.
Besides, I was out of bleach, so I'd have to go to the grocery store and get some. I did so without incident, also picking up a 12-pk of fake Diet Dr. Pepper for a little more than two bucks.
But I got home and discovered the clothes were not dry. So I went to the library.
Came home. Still not dry.
To make a long story short, I farted around all day and never did get my laundry done, so come a week from now, I may be going commando and foot-commando.
And someone is going to be tempted to use the headline
There, I did it already, so you don't have to.
Today's Harpers piece calling Hillary Clinton Glinda reminds me of something I noticed while watching the movie.
It seemed awfully convenient for Glinda that Dorothy killed both wicked witches and got the Wizard to leave town. With all her competition rubbed out, a power vacuum would open up that only Glinda could fill.
Did Glinda the "Good" Witch manipulate naive little Dorothy into doing her dirty work for her? Was the whole thing one big Glinda Power Grab?
Maybe she has more in common with Hillary than we thought.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
At the front corner of the yard is a fairly large, pyramidal evergreen bush of unknown species (boxwood, maybe?).
The car is the dark grey 409-3. He backs down the alley a ways and sits there awhile.
I neither know nor particularly care what he is doing there, but it occurs to me that such a place would be a good place to hide in wait for speeders.
He sits there awhile longer, then takes off again.
My bedroom is at that corner of the house. This morning, I realized there was much too little light coming into my bedroom windows, so I took the pruning shears and hacksaw to the bush and didn't stop until there was nothing left of it but six or seven spindly little sapling-sized upshoots, stripped of all branches and leaves up to about seven feet.
Good luck hiding behind THAT.
So in total, I got $5.92 worth of stuff for $2.92.
I'm thinking of keeping a record of every time I wind up paying negative money for a product and sending at least half of that money to the National Libertarian Party.
That would be killing two birds with one stone by sapping money from Borg Queen Obama's economy AND helping fund the Libertarians, who will lose their ballot access in 2012 in a lot of states if enough of us don't vote for them.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Here it must be noted that the library is across the street from City Hall.
A woman in a fairly new silver Dodge Durango drives up and parks in the 15-minute parking in front of City Hall. She gets out, goes to the door and pulls the handle.
It doesn't open. She tries again. It still doesn't open.
She reads a sign on the door.
I cannot hear her, but I see she distinctly mouths the word "FUCK!" and returns to her car. She backs out of the parking space and is off.
I didn't go read it, but I'm pretty sure the sign said that City Hall would be closed in observance of Robert E. Lee's birthday.
Does that feeling change at the idea of burning full-term babies to heat your home?
He's been ingested, injected,
tasted and tested
But today the godmonster
slouches toward 39
unbroken and unbowed.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The city is still under a boil order, which is a pain because a couple of times today I had a craving for shrimp Cup O'Noodles. I didn't want to use a bottle of spring water for that, because that would make the cup of noodles cost, like, two freakin' dollars, and the three minutes I would nuke the stuff would not be enough to bring the water in it to a boil. So I had a cheese-stuffed smoked sausage instead.
The sunset today wasn't very wintery-looking. It was pastel blue and pink. I remarked to myself that this must be what it would look like if Easter exploded and splattered it's pastel entrails all across the sky.
I bought two Sunday papers today -- my regular Democrat-Gazette and the Springfield News-Leader, which now costs two bucks despite being as high-school-journalism-class as ever. At least it had some pretty good coupons this week. But someone really should call them up and ask them what they use to get the Democrat-blue splatter stains out of the front of their underwear every time they think about the Obamas moving into the Caucasian-American House.
Oh, crap. I forgot to hang out the load of towels I washed this afternoon. I'll have to remember to do that first thing tomorrow morning.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
More specifically, the fact that the world is falling apart and nobody seems to want to do anything about it pissed me off.
Today was the first day in the past several that the mercury rose above freezing. During that time, a bunch of laundry piled up, so I decided to wash a couple of loads.
Halfway through the first load, the machine quit. It didn't even release the water first. It is about eight and a half years old, we've already had to fix the damn thing three times, and there are plenty of mid-century wringer washers out there still plugging along just fine. If it was possible to manufacture a washing machine fifty years ago that would last decades, why is it not possible now? Why is everything made these days total crap?
So I loaded up my soggy clothes, dripping all through the house, and took them to the laundromat, where I would have to pay $1.25 a load to wash them. I had a five in my pocket.
And the change machine at the laundromat had a sign on it that it takes fives and ones. I put the bill in the slot. It spit the bill out. I tried again. It rejected it again. I smoothed out the VERY minor creases and tried again. It again spit it back at me.
I tried a total of ten times. It was rejected a total of ten times. I wanted to punch the piece of $H!T machine. If I'd known for certain that the two security cameras in the place were dummies, I might have done just that.
Some idiot child asked if I wanted his help getting the machine to work.
I don't know what he thought HE could do about it. It was the machine itself, not my technique, that was flawed and causing the rejection of the money. The kid was maybe ten years old, and I surmised he was probably going to grab my money and run.
"No," I told him. Not "No thanks," mind you, just "No."
Instead, I went to the salvage grocery store that's in the same strip mall. I stood in line at the cash register behind some halfwit girl who seemed to be deliberately unloading her cart as slowly as she could. And no, I'm not exaggerating.
That's another thing -- when did it become perfectly acceptable to deliberately waste other people's time?
I finally got to the cashier and got three bucks in quarters and two one.
I got my laundry done, but I was still fuming. That's when my thought process went something like this:
Why do the right thing if the world's gonna screw you over anyway? I'll show the world -- I'll smoke CIGARETTES!!! I'll somehow PUNISH the world by resuming my nasty habit of sucking tobacco smoke down into my lungs! THAT'll teach it a lesson!
I know it makes absolutely no sense, other than the first part. But in that moment, it made perfect sense. The whole world's been shot to $h!t and there's not a damn thing being done about it, so I may as well enjoy myself with a smoke.
Besides, I needed something to take the edge off and calm me down before I came all Angry Unglued on the next dumbass I encountered, like one of the MANY morons in this town who are INCAPABLE of grasping the concept of Left Turn Yield On Green. Trust me on this, you wouldn't like me when I'm Angry Unglued.
Even then, the consequences would have been minimal if I could have bought just one or two cigarettes. But you can't buy just one or two; they aren't sold that way. You have to buy a minimum of twenty.
I stopped at the 24/7 and bought a pack of Camel Menthol Wides and a lighter.
I sat in my car, trying to resist the temptation to open the pack. The size of the box, the texture and temperature of the cellophane wrapper, the faint smell of mint all proved too much for me.
"Fuck you," I told the camel on the box. "Fuck Whirlpool, and Fuck Barack Obama!" I ripped open the cellophane, flipped open the box, tore out the silver inner liner at the top of the pack, and pulled a cigarette out.
I lifted it to the corner of my mouth and grabbed the filter with my teeth. The menthol danced and tingled on my lips. I flicked my Bic, paused long enough to think "Christ I hate me right now," and stuck the flame to the end of the cigarette.
The first puff was long and deep, with a secondary inhalation to let the smoke kiss my sinuses from the inside. The kiss radiated outward, not stopping until it reached the ends of my extremities.
Yeah, THERE it is, I thought. Why hello there, old fried. I hadn't realized how much I missed you until I got you back.
Another puff and the edge began to be carried away on the wisps of smoke, drifting out the window and into the universe.
I flipped on the car's radio, certain that Joan Jett's I Hate Myself For Loving You would be playing. It wasn't. I tested all the presets and settled on something or other.
I finished that cigarette and drove home. I didn't even bat an eye at the water main break at 6th & Chestnut that had the whole town under a boil order and left a giant crater surrounded by traffic cones in the middle of the intersection.
I got home, dipped the water out of the washing machine a cup at a time and poured it into the bathroom sink. And then I hung my clothes on the line.
That was 18 cigarettes ago. I have one left. Will I smoke it tonight? Will I smoke it the first thing tomorrow morning and want more? Will I stash it on top of the kitchen cupboards so that the NEXT time the world pisses me off, I can have just that ONE cigarette?
Time will tell.
Friday, January 16, 2009
At least there isn't any snow or ice, so we're not trapped in the house, as long as we can stand the walk to the car, and the warmup time for the heater in there, without freezing our fixtures off.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
My friend Kevin suggested we jettison him in a torpedo tube (or maybe a Chrysler Cordoba) into the atmosphere of the Genesis Planet.
BTW, can anyone tell me why the Genesis planet re-animated Spock but not Khan?
Call it the Geithner-Rangel-Leona Helmsley Tax Plan : Only the little people pay taxes.
I picked up a PUMP UP THE VOLUME DVD and a weird little VHS called "The Anarchist Cookbook," which is not a video adaptation of the cookbook but rather the story of how people who read the cookbook ruin the lives of innocent, happy-go-lucky anarchist bums.
I also picked up Toffler's The Third Wave for a buck.
I got all this at the little flea market south of Mammoth Spring that has the army surplus/war souvenir booth in the back; the one that makes you think the nutcase army store owner from FALLING DOWN is going to poke his little head up over the counter.
Hey, it's either him or Zed and Maynard from PULP FICTION; take your pick.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I got the $4.69 Afrin for free, some $.88 reduced-sugar yellow cake mix for $.08, a $1.25 box of Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes for $.75, a $1.50 can of Campbell's Clam Chowder for $.90, a $1.98 roll of Viva paper towels for $.98, a $.88 package of steam corn for $.28, and a $1.25 pump bottle of Softsoap for $.55.
Double coupons SO rock when you're Fighting The Power.
Just seen as a headline on The Screeching Banshee Show on HLN:
Please . . . PLEASE tell me their headline writing has been outsourced to some English-as-a-fifth-language country. Because the only other possibility is that it's a liberal do-gooder jobs program for the Severely Brain-Damaged.
Unless, of course, the wave of kids who got an Outcomes-Based Education are now old enough to enter the workforce.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I ventured out first thing this morning to buy lottery tickets. I usually buy them on the day of the drawing (Wednesday in this case) but the temperature's supposed to drom sharply starting tonight and I thought I was planning ahead to keep from having to go out into the Wednesday cold.
Except that I didn't factor in my town's weekly newspaper, which technically comes out on Thursday but actually can be bought on Wednesday morning if you know where to go.
An airport spokesman said the security guard mistakenly heard the word 'urine' as 'beverage'...
Now I see that others have noticed the same thing.
The mole by his nose is on the wrong side of his face.
On the armrest of my titty-pink Escort is a little rectangular depression. I think it may be there to keep change for tolls in, but it's just the right size and shape for a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.
So, of COURSE I named it the Fag Hole. It has been the Fag Hole for eight years now. So my decision to quit smoking presented me with a dilemma -- what do I call the Fag Hole when it no longer functions as a Fag Hole?
Today, I'm eating yet another salad at the Country Cottage. With the salad comes twelve crackers, two to a package. But there's a problem. Crackers don't go with salad; crackers go with soup. I think it's in the Bible. You can look it up.
I still had four packages of crackers sitting on my dashboard from the LAST salad I ate there.
And OBVIOUSLY I couldn't just let the waitress throw the crackers away unused.
So I took them with me when we left.
When I got to the car, I tossed the crackers on the dashboard. They went everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. I'm pretty sure that if you looked in, say, the sands of Zanzibar or in Paula Poundstone's buttcrack, you'd find some of my crackers there. I gathered them all back up.
That was when I discovered that if I stood the crackers on their side and put them in crossways instead of lengthwise, there was just enough room for all ten packages in the Fag Hole.
And that, boys and girls, is the story of how the Fag Hole became the Cracker Hole.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The instruction sheet they gave me reveals recycling to be a complicated and cryptic process. Instead of just listing ALL the materials they will pick up, the paper breaks them up into Several Groupings, and Each Grouping Is Numbered. It doesn't say anything about us having to seperate the materials. I guess whoever wrote the instructions just thought they Ought To Be Numbered.
I'm going to seperate them anyway, just in case. Besides, it will give me a way to get rid of more plastic grocery bags, which by the way Do Not Appear to be On The List.
You have to wash out glass and plastic containers, which begs the question -- which future would you impose on the planet - one with too much trash, or one without enough water? I wonder if it would wash them out good enough if I put them outside in the front yard until it rains.
Forget that; some things are too cheap and white trashy even for me.
So why, after decades of griping about granola-munching, caribou-loving tree-huggers, am I beginning to recycle NOW? Am I going to grow my hair long, wear beads, smell like pachouli, and insist that there are no absolutes, because I really really DIG Mother Earth, man?
Hell no. I don't give a flip about the planet. As long as it outlasts me, I'll be happy.
But what about our children, you ask?
"We" don't have any children. YOU might have a child or some childrens, but they are not "Our" children; they are yours. And whatever future you want to give them, the responsibility to pay for it lies in YOU, not in US.
Okay, we know what is NOT the reason, so what IS the reason?
Simple. It's the noblest motive of all -- to save me money. By burning the paper content, I've already reduced my trash from two bags a week to one bag every two weeks. That's cut my trash-bag costs by 75%. Chucking my tin cans, milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, spaghetti sauce jars and the like into the recycle bin instead of the trash can may reduce my trash bag costs another 75% or maybe more.
But they're NOT getting my soda cans. Not as long as I can get paid to recycle them elsewhere.
After all, I've been doing 10-pound curls (am put to 160 of 'em each arm) six mornings a week, and a regimen of 10 situps, 10 pushups, 10 leg lifts, and 10 windmills before bed every other night.
So when I came across a near-mint condition Weslo Momentum 610 for $35 at an otherwise dreadful yard sale yesterday, I thought I had a head start on getting fit.
I think the problem, other than the fact that it looks like the Terminator mated with an antelope, is that it's motion nudges you into going faster than you want.
I can't be on the thing more than five minutes at a time without my leg muscles revolting and feeling like they're being ripped apart William Wallace-style. It's not even long enough to get out of breath. And the rest of the day, my hamstrings are about 6 inches too short.
Too many years of WATCHING The Biggest Loser on TV (usually while eating a bag of chips) instead of trying to get myself fit. I call it Dieting Vicariously Through Television.
So to keep from getting frustrated and giving up entirely, I'm going to have to start small and increase the workout very slowly but steadily. And by "small" and "slowly" I mean "laughably small" and "absurdly slowly." I'm thinking I'll start off burning 10 fat calories a day and increasing that by 1 daily until I get to 10, when I may or may not up the increase to 5 a day.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
My regular minions will remember I am constantly looking for ways to save money by reducing waste and finding new uses for used "disposable" items.
(On that note, did you know you can wash and hang-dry a paper towel an average of three times? But before I digress too far . . .)
With that in mind, slivers of soap have long vexxed me. I tried the Lisa Simpson Method -- smashing them together until they looked like a special effect from the movie Leviathan -- but they would never stick together long enough to wash oneself.
So I gathered up an old sock and put the soap pieces in it, tied up the end, then hung the thing on the shower caddy. My thinking there was to use the apparatus like one would a loofah or a bath scrubby. But it would never put out enough bubbles. Lawrence Welk would suffer an aneurysm waiting on bubbles from that thing. Plus, untying the knot every time I wanted to add a new sliver of soap was a pain in the ass.
Bored a couple of days ago, I found myself leafing through one of my mother's housewife magazines -- Woman's World.
There was a page on urawaza, the Japanese concept of secret tricks to save money, waste, or time.
One of the hints therein was "Turn soap pieces into new soap."
Basically, you throw the slivers into a saucepan, cover with water, and leave them to soak/soften overnight. You might want to crumble them up into really small pieces first (maybe a cheese grater?) or they'll likely turn out chunky and looking like novelty plastic vomit like my first effort.
The next morning, bring it to a boil and stir in two tablespoons of olive oil (I substituted canola oil.).
Pour the mixture into greased muffin tins and let them harden.
If the thought of putting into your saucepan something you have rubbed in your nether regions makes you go "Ewww!" you can pick up an old pan and muffin tins at a yard sale or flea market for, like, a quarter or 50 cents and use those only for soap recycling.
I made the equivalent of about four bars of soap this morning. I don't know if the boiling put more air bubbles in them or what, but they seem to have about double the volume than the size of the ingredients would suggest. (And no, that doesn't mean they shout really loudly.)
And the substance seems to be slipperier than white-market soap, perhaps because of the canola oil. But other than that, it seems pretty similar to normal soap.
I don't know how much money it saved me, when you factor in the water, canola oil, and the energy to boil it, but every cent saved is a cent Queen Borg Barack Obama's economy doesn't get. You also have to factor in the space the soap doesn't take up in your garbage anymore, so that's a plus. If I had a wood heating stove or radiator heater I could boil the concoction on, it would be almost costless.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I had a 50-cent coupon.
They doubled it.
I got paid 33 cents to take a bag of cough drops off their hands.
Free money, huzzah!
Everything He Wants To Do Is Illegal.
It explores the perils of over-regulation. Even when those regulations are imposed by tree-huggers such as those at Mother Earth News.
It occurs to me that people don't have a clue what I mean when I say "grey-market."
The grey market is a spectrum of shades between the White Market (New items, taxed fully, not on sale) and the Black Market (Stolen goods, drugs, designer counterfeits).
And it goes a little sump'n like this:
Off-white: seasonal items bought out of season (such as my cherries), items on sale/clearance, items bought with coupons.
Light Grey: damaged/expired, items bought at salvage and factory-return stores.
Actual Grey: yard sales, flea markets, classifieds, barter & freecycling.
Dark Grey: free samples & charity.
Near Black: dumpster diving, panhandling, welfare & foodstamps.
And the aforementioned Black & White Markets, of course.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Why am I in bed? Because the longer I am up, the more tempted I am to make a little trip to the convenience store for some cigarettes. Even if I have the willpower to resist doing that, the damn fridge is calling me.
"Come," it tells me. "Partake of my lunchmeat. Indulge. Wouldn't one of my Ding-Dongs taste really good on your tastebuds right about now. Explore the many pleasures of my Red Velvet Bingle!"
Bastard siren machine.
The sad thing is, I know I'm not really hungry. I am bored and I don't know what to do with my hands and my mouth. It feels like they should be doing SOMEthing, but if not smoking a fag, then what? Answer: stuffing myself with food.
So I find myself in bed, away from the car keys and away from the fridge. This is Day 3. I am miserable.
Remind me, why am I doing this?
Friday, January 2, 2009
That seems to be everything, but my coat pocket is noticably empty. I must be forgetting something, but what?
Even seeing other people enjoying a post-meal smoke didn't bother me. The suck, the moment's pause (sometimes with eyes actually closed) as the nicotine rockets to the brain, the exhale of the afterglow-colored smoke. None of that bothered me.
The waitress brought my salad and refilled my tea. I began attacking the food with gusto. It was really good.
And then I heard it. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. The pounding of a new pack of cigarettes against the palm of the hand, to compress the tobacco for a smoother smoke.
I didn't do the packslap myself, but I had been around it enough when I was enjoying a smoke that a couple of synapses fired up and now all I could think of was how badly I wanted a Marlboro Green.
I tried to turn back to my salad to keep my mind off smoking, but now the taste wasn't all that great and the texture was all wrong.
I had the waitress bring me a bunch (and by "bunch" I mean "mountain") of bacon bits to fix the salad. Made it much better. So much for eating healthily.
Now I know why people gain weight when they quit smoking.
Anyone remember a quaint little concept called "merit"?
What's that, you say she's the best person for the job?
Yeah, right. And Roger Clinton got his pardon from his brother totally because he's such a good person now.