April 29, 2004

Alligators, A Confession. (Updated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:08 pm

I read this story today over at Straight White Guy about a woman who was attacked while working in her garden by an alligator in excess of nine-feet long. The alligator dragged the 74 year-old woman the into the nearby lake. I have to tell you that the story sent a cold shiver down my spine.

The fact is that I am scared shitless of alligators. Sure, there are more dangerous animals on the planet, especially when they are hungry or angry. But there is something special about alligators that creeps me out, big time. They are ugly as snot, and they lurk around in rivers in the Southeast like large, heavily armored, spiked turds, just waiting to eat whatever they damned well please – and they will eat ANYTHING.

Sure, the environmentalists say that we should be able to live alongside alligators, and that if one follows all the safety tips, one probably will never be attacked (the operative word is “probably”). They will also remind us that, since the 1950’s there have been only slightly more than 326 reported attacks, with only slightly more than a dozen being fatal. That’s quite enough for me, thanks.

I’m sorry, but just the sight of an alligator scares the dogshit out of me. As much as I like Florida, you can bet your boots that I would never, ever buy a house near a river in the Sunshine State. Although it is often said that most alligator attacks occur in the water, try telling that to the lady in the above story linked by Eric, or to the lady who was riding in the back of a pickup truck with her feet hanging over the side, when one of these nasty beasts lunged up and grabbed her by the ankles. Oh, and if one of them decides to make you his land-lunch, running away probably won’t work, as alligators have been reported to be able to run up to 35 miles per hour for short distances (about as fast as a race hours, as I recall).

I am sure that environmentalists and those folks who (God knows why) have a fondness for alligators would urge that gators play an important role in the ecosystem, although I am unaware of exactly what that might be. Again, I’m sorry, and I know that I am being politically and environmentally incorrect (Is there a difference?), but I’d be just as happy to see these terrifying monsters on an alphabetical list a few rungs about the dodo bird.

The good news is that we don’t have these ghastly creatures in New Jersey. I’d rather deal with the mob, thank you.

Update: Reader, Jennifer Jenkins has advised me that one of the links, which appears in a few places throughout the post, is broken. She suggested that this page contains the type of information that was in the broken link. Thanks, Jennifer!

Lava, Waterfalls, Volcanoes, Booze and Battleships.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:01 am

Blowhole.jpgOK, so here is the rest of the Hawaii trip, albeit a bit long-winded. I do, however, reserve the right to go on a bit more in the future about things we may have seen or done, or impressions I had as a result of the experience. Consider yourselves warned.

The Big Island.
After one week of music, fun and friendship on Maui, the group scattered to various places, mostly in the direction of home. However, Ed (one of the band guys and my friend since high school) and his wife, the Lovely Loretta, accompanied us to Kona, on the Big Island, and ultimately to Oahu.

The Kona Airport made the airport in Maui look like JFK Airport in New York. For example, one exits the plane on a movable stairway, rather than on a jet way. Once on the ground, I stupidly asked to be directed to the baggage carousel on which my bags would appear. “Over there,” was the response, as one of the airport employees pointed to the only carousel in the place. The airport is essentially an open-air quadrangle, surrounded by shops, restaurant/bar (I recommend the Bloody Marys) and a couple open-air “gates.”

After doing the rental car drill, we headed north on Route 19 to our hotel. I had been advised to expect to see some lava between the airport and the hotel, but I had no idea that “some lava” was actually 21 miles worth of black lava as far as the eye can see. The only things that punctuated the black lava, were arrangements of pieces of white lava (I assume it is white lava, as I later saw it washed up on the beach) arranged to spell out people’s names or initials. We later learned that this is a curious custom that signifies that the person or persons who created the white on black arrangements will someday return to the island.

It’s easy to miss one’s hotel as there are no signs on the lava highway identifying hotels by name. Of course, that resulted in our having passed the place and having to double back to turn into a road that identified itself as a golf course, which was, in reality, the site of the Fairmont Orchid hotel, our island digs for the next few days.

The Fairmont Orchid Hotel is stupefying in its beauty, vastness, and hospitality. It boasts a meandering pool that is just short of the size of one of the Great Lakes, as well as a beautiful beach lagoon that is surrounded by large lava outpourings. A stream (with the occasional waterfall) runs through the grounds, and it is stocked with large, multi colored fish that seem to have been taught to show up in great numbers in response to people, particularly people with cameras.

Although the Fairmont Orchid resort truly is paradise, it is, to say the least, quite pricey. If you are shooting the moon on a Hawaii vacation, it is difficult to imagine a better place to stay. However, if you are traveling on anything resembling a budget, I suggest that you land on the Hilo side of the island where more reasonable accommodations, I assume, are available.

Given the limited amount of time we would have on the Big Island, we opted to take a twelve-hour tour that circles the entire island, with emphasis on spending the most time in the Volcanoes National Park. Unfortunately, several business conventions had booked every seat on every tour bus available. The only other alternatives were a helicopter tour, or doing the drive ourselves. The helicopter tour was quickly ruled out, as it would cost as much as $400+ per person. Frankly, I was glad it was so expensive, because I felt like climbing in a tourista helicopter about as much as I wanted a serious case of plantar warts.

We learned from a friendly cocktail waitress that taking the northern route (clockwise around the island) or the southern route (counter-clockwise) to get to the Volcanoes National Park did not matter, as the park was about equidistant from where we were staying. With that said, circling the island seemed to be the way to go. The waitress suggested the “clockwise” route, identifying it as the more scenic route. She said, “The other way is OK, if you like lava.”

So, shortly after the crack of dawn (this was not a sleeping vacation), we assembled and headed north on Route 19. Soon, the lava fields were replaced by small towns and beautiful ranchlands. As the road neared the ocean on the northern coast, the scenery became even more stunning, what with the magnificent views of the pacific.

We happened on a magnificent place that is most-certainly not frequented by the big tour buses (they would not be able to navigate the narrow winding road off the highway). It was Laupahoehoe Park, and the beauty of the scenery (surf smashing into huge lava rock formations and a majestic coastal view to the north) was surpassed only by the story behind the place.

It seems that on April 1, 1946, the park was the site of a school, which was hit by a tsunami, sweeping 24 students and teachers out to sea and ultimately to their deaths. A granite memorial showing the names of those killed marks the spot where it all happened. A survivor describes the horrible event here.

We then turned off the main road for the four-mile trip to Akaka Falls State Park to take the walk through the lush tropical rain forest and to see the Akaka waterfall, which, at the time we were there, spilled massive amounts of water over the cliff into what appeared to be a perpetual rainbow caused by the mist. More pics.

Next was a visit to Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, which encompasses 333,000 acres from sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano (13, 677 feet above sea level). The park is also is also the site of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano.

Lava still flows from Kilauea, and if one is “lucky,” it will be flowing somewhere near the road. If fooling around with molten rock is not your idea of a great time, there are plenty of cooled lava formations to see, often creating a Martian-like landscape, with steam rising spookily through holes in the ground from the molten rock a mile or so beneath the surface. Indeed the landscape is so otherworldly that NASA tested the Mars surface vehicle in Kilauea’s lava fields.

After our twelve-hour circle-the-island extravaganza, which included a few final hours in a heavy rain on a winding, narrow road, we arrived back to the hotel for some serious cocktails, local Kona ale and dinner by the beach.

The drive around the Big Island was long (and is best accomplished with two drivers – Thanks, Ed), but it was worth every minute of it, particularly when done with old friends.

Remember, if you leave from Kona to circle the island, go clockwise so you don’t miss the northern coast during the day. The cocktail waitress was absolutely right.

I must admit that, after having spent a week on Maui and a few days on the Big Island, flying into Honolulu was, by comparison, a bit like flying into Newark Airport. We boarded a shuttle bus and headed for the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Some of scenery in the vicinity of the Airport reminded me a bit of the not-so-beautiful outskirts of downtown Newark. However, before long we were in Waikiki, surrounded by massive hotels.

Our Hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is one of the more massive ones. It is made up of a complex of several huge towers surrounding about a dozen restaurants, nine or ten bars and countless shops. It is quite overwhelming at first, but it becomes navigable with a bit of time and the use of a map.

Given that the main reason for visiting Oahu was to see the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri, shortly after our arrival, Ed scrambled over to the concierge to see about booking a tour for our only full day on the island. Fortunately, we grabbed the last four seats on a tour to see the very two places we had in mind.

That evening, having had more than a couple cocktails after our arrival (some of which came equipped with floating orchids in them), we had a simple dinner with a few more cocktails, did a bit of shopping and called it a day. As was the case for just about every night, I convinced myself that I would do a bit of reading, only to become unconscious after a paragraph or two.

The next morning we met the little tour bus at about 6:20 a.m. (Did I mention that this was not a sleeping vacation?). On the way to the Arizona Memorial, the tour guide gave us a large dose of the conspiratorial version of the Pearl Harbor attack (i.e. Roosevelt “knew” in advance of the attack but did nothing in order not to reveal our having broken the Japanese diplomatic codes and in order to counter the isolationist mood of much of the country at the time). Some of it made sense, but not all of it. What I did find particularly interesting was his account of the “investigations” and finger pointing after the attack, which resulted in the end of the career of Admiral Kimmel, the Commander of Pearl Harbor at the time (He was later exonerated of any wrongdoing). The parallels to today’s post September 11th events are downright eerie.

We must have taken the right tour, because our group was first in line to go to the Arizona Memorial. After watching a twenty-minute film, visitors board the navy-manned launch out to the Memorial. We were all reminded several times that the Memorial is the resting place of 1.177 men who lost their lives on December 7, 1941 and that people should behave accordingly.

Once on the Memorial, it is difficult to imagine how anyone could behave inappropriately. As I looked in the direction from which the waves of Japanese plans made their attack, I could not help but think about those men trapped five decks below the main deck on the Arizona during the nine minutes it took for the ship to sink.

I previously had read about the oil from the ship’s tanks that bubbles to the surface to this day (the ship was fully loaded with oil at the time of the attack), but actually seeing it percolate to the surface and spread out on the water in the sunlight gave me goose bumps.

From the Memorial, our next stop was the USS Missouri, one of the Iowa Class battleships. It’s huge. The teakwood deck is vast, and each link in the anchor chain weighs 110 pounds. However, it is the three main gun turrets, each housing three sixteen-inch guns, that dominate the view of the ship. Each one of those nine guns was capable of firing a shell roughly the weight of a Volkswagen more than 20 miles and could do so every two minutes or so.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be aboard that ship when its guns were firing to the maximum. I most certainly do not want to imagine what it must have been like to be at the receiving end of the Missouri’s fury as a couple dozen 2,000 pound shells zoomed overhead every two or three minutes.

The tour took us to many places on the ship, including the officers’ quarters, the enlisted men’s sleeping area, the bridge, the fire control center and to the dent on the starboard side of the ship created by a Kamikaze that smashed into the ship on April 11, 1944, as is shown in this picture taken just as the plane hit.

Perhaps the most impressive site on the ship (and largely the reason why it remains famous) is the deck on which General Douglas McArthur accepted the surrender of the Japanese Empire, thereby ending World War II. The exact spot is marked by a plaque mounted in the deck.

Following our visit to the Missouri, the tour guide drove through Punch Bowl Cemetery and other places in the city of Honolulu, but my mind was still back on the Arizona and the Mighty Mo. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The rest of the afternoon was spent drinking more drinks with flowers in them and pretending to read some more. After a fancy-schmancy dinner, a few more drinks and watching the Hilton’s very own fireworks display, it was time to say good-bye to Ed and Loretta, who were returning to Maui for a few more days, and to once again re-pack for the trip home.

The vacation was capped by spending a nine-hour flight sitting behind the “Let’s-All-Immediately-Push-Our Seats-Back-and Never-Sit Still” Family, obviously from some uncivilized part of the USA (they were catching connecting flights in Jersey).

I figure that it must have been a great trip, because after a minute or so, the Knucklehead Family didn’t even bother me.

April 27, 2004

Hangin’ Loose.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:59 pm

Hang Loose.jpgThe Hawaii time change is still kicking my ass. However, returning to a heavy workload, getting too little sleep and having just now returned from an after-work retirement party (with a four-hour open bar) might also have something to do with my being too tired right now to write anything worth much of a damn.

This morning I noticed that I still am not hitting on all my cylinders when I pulled the car into the street and noticed, for the first time, that all the trees have leaves on them. When did that happen, and how did I miss it?

As further proof that I am about as together as a soup sandwich, I was caught in a particularly nasty traffic jam this morning (some chooch in a eighteen wheeler slammed the trailer into a too-low bridge, knocking a chunk out of the bridge and spilling his load all over the road – Thanks, Sparkie), and I damned near fell asleep in the car. I had to turn on Air America to produce an instant blood pressure spike in order to escape my drowsiness. Of course, one must be careful, when listening to that stuff, because even tiny doses of Air America can produce violent nausea.

So, now that I have made my half-baked excuses for failing to pony up any content to speak of, I think I will read a couple blogs, perhaps sprinkle around some lame comments, then head to the recliner and hang loose.

April 26, 2004

Jimbo and Friends’ Excellent Hawaiian Adventure, Part One.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:56 pm

Maui Map.jpgComing back from vacation to the work-a-day world is never easy, particularly after having spent two weeks on Maui, the Big Island (Hawai’i), and Oahu. In fact, if my time in Hawaii had not been so memorable, I would have forgotten about it all already, what with today being a miserable, cold, rainy, New Jersey day, filled with traffic, a lingering Circadian rhythm disruption, and a couple weeks of backed up work to be attended to.

Where to begin?

There simply is too much for one blog, particularly when one sits down at the keys at this hour, still wrestling with screwed up inner clocks and carry-over fatigue. So, given that we spent time on three islands, I thought that shooting the breeze about one island at a time might work. Let’s begin with Maui and see how it goes from there.

Fully one-half of the trip (i.e. one week) was spent on Maui, because that’s where the band reunion took place. It was a week of being with old friends, seeing lots of beautiful and entertaining things, and making and listening to lots of music.

Having opted to take a non-direct flight permitted us to land directly on the island of Maui, which afforded me with my first of many surprises, which was to see an airport most of which is outdoors or permanently open to the elements. After having been greeted by three of my friends (one of whom has lived there for more than thirty years) with a huge “ALOHA” and a lei, I looked around at the lack of anything resembling walls and wondered, “What do they do here in the cold weather?” It wasn’t the first time I had that stoooopid thought and had to be reminded that there is no “cold weather” in Hawaii – at least not what a Garden State Guy would consider to be cold weather.

We hopped into our rented vans and headed off to Keihi and to the place where we would be staying for the week. In total, our group (band members and friends) occupied four units, one of which would serve as the central meeting and music-making place. Unfortunately, the walls were a bit thin in the units, as we learned the first time that Tatsy (Tatsuo) fired up the bass guitar, causing the man upstairs to begin pounding on the floor in response to the rattling dishes in his upstairs unit.

Our friend, John, graciously offered to go upstairs to make peace with the floor banger and to assure him that we were not a bunch of crazed head bangers with big, big speakers, but rather that we were a rather harmless bunch of middle-aged knuckleheads who absolutely did not want to disrupt his very expensive Maui vacation. That, and our resolve to play henceforth at “unplugged” levels, seemed to work, as a day or so later, the former floor banger met us on the stairs and was keenly interested in the band.

What did we play? I know that Cousin Jack wants to see the set sheets (see the comments to the previous post), but we didn’t use them. Instead, we played (or at least took a stab at playing) anything and everything that came to mind. We played old Beatle songs, Every Brothers (or, as I noted, “Elderly Brothers”) tunes, Stones, the Dave Clark Five, country tunes, pop tunes, silly tunes, corny tunes, and some that brought back wonderful memories and created more than a couple lumps in our throats.

As I had mentioned previously, I left the Ludwigs at home, opting to play guitar instead. We took a shot at using an electronic drum machine, but soon found that getting it just right was more of a hassle than it was worth. Besides, I have a built-in, professional bias against those contraptions.

Some of the songs sounded good, and some were just plain awful, but the howling laughter and finger pointing accusations for causing the musical train wrecks made even the stinkers fun. We even did some songs that we never played together as a band (e.g. Jimmy Buffet tunes and Hawaiian songs), and surprisingly some seemed “ready for vinyl” (to use a seriously old expression).

When we weren’t playing or howling with laughter, we got to watch some truly gifted musicians do their thing. For instance, we were fortunate enough to see a two man show, called Wailea Nights, featuring Barry Flanagan, an amazingly talented guitar player, singer and composer. Barry Flanagan, a member of the band Hapa, has spent decades on the islands mastering the art of Hawaiian slack-key guitar playing, which involves de-tuning one or more strings on the guitar (often several times in a single song) to achieve a particular sound.

We all sat spellbound as Flanagan made his well-worn guitar sing, scream, whisper and sigh, sometimes all in the same song. It’s a wonder that, after having seen and heard such mastery that we hackers didn’t go back and toss our guitars into the surf.

Along similar lines, we managed to get tickets to see ‘Ualena, an amazing show in Lahaina, which chronicles the history of the Hawaiian islands in song and dance, accompanied by sparse guitar, native woodwinds and keyboards, but mainly by the most amazing forms of percussion that I have ever heard. It was a dazzling display of primitive drums, gourds, blocks, logs, chimes, gongs, congas and drums I had never seen before, each played with energy and skill that left the audience (and most certainly me) breathless. After having watched those four guys play, I concluded that it was a good thing that the Ludwigs were back in Jersey, or they might well have gone into the surf along with the guitars!

When we weren’t playing or listening to music, we did tons of sightseeing. We took the long, winding ride to the top of the majestic Haleakala, a dormant volcano more than 10,000 feet high. We began the trip skyward in warm, sunny weather, but 9,000 feet later we found ourselves in cold, misty rain and surrounded by a cloud, which unfortunately blocked our view of the huge crater normally visible from the summit. Although it would have been nicer had the weather been clear at the summit, the trip up was still great. For those of you who have no fear of possibly sailing off the edge of a mountain road and plummeting to your death, or slamming head-on into an oncoming car (also likely resulting in death), you might consider renting a bicycle and riding down Haleakala. Many people do it, but it looked a bit too sketchy for me.

We also took a boat ride out to Molokini, a small island off-Maui, to do some snorkeling over the reef. For me, it was a first, and I actually managed to spend about hour in the water without swallowing any of it. In fact, the hardest part for me was fitting my five-inch wide, Fred Flintstone/Donald Duck feet into those damned fins. I figured that, with feet that wide, I might not need fins, but I went with the flow and stuffed my ample dogs into them before flopping off the boat. After a while, we moved to a place where we could hop back in the water and swim among Hawaii’s giant sea turtles. We were reminded that the sea turtle is a protected species and that we were not to touch them or try to ride them. Frankly, after having seen those babies, touching them, or doing anything that might piss them off was not on my agenda.

Of course, then there are the indescribably beautiful Hawaiian sunsets. These are a special treat for us Jersey folks, who specialize in sunrises over the ocean. Sunsets are better. My friend Saby (Saburo, the erstwhile leader of the band and Maui resident) along with his friend Patty, treated the group to a sunset picnic on the virtually empty Keawakapu Beach. Saby brought along the Martin six-string and played and sang Hawaiian songs as the sun disappeared amidst a beautiful blaze of colors. Patty even did a genuine hula for us, which reminded us that hula, as practiced by Hawaiians, is a serious art form and is something beautiful to watch.

One of the biggest surprises of the trip was that I actually did wind up playing drums in a band.

Saby and his brothers Tatsy and Hideo are quite religious. In fact, Saby (who still plays professionally) plays keyboards in his church’s band on Sunday. He is part of a five-piece band that backs up (instrumentally and vocally) five singers, who (pardon the expression) sing hell out of gospel tunes.

By Saturday morning, we had already decided that we would all trek off on Sunday to the small, Congregational church situated in a beautiful country setting in Makawao in order to hear Saby and the band play. On Saturday night, Saby asked me if I wanted to sit in on the drums for one tune. Being the ham that I am, I quickly accepted his invitation.

On Sunday morning, as we were about to board the vans to drive to the church, Saby called from the church to inform me that the regular drummer would not be there that day, and he asked if I would consider helping out by doing the whole deal with the band. “Abso-farookin’-lutely,” I replied.

So, there I was, on vacation, a recovering Catholic, and snorkeling survivor, sitting behind a full drum set, playing gospel tunes with Saby in an ass-kicking five-piece band. It was, quite simply, a tremendous thrill.

Can I get an “Amen?”

April 25, 2004

Back in the Garden State.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:38 pm

We left sunny and warm Hawaii at 5PM, Saturday, Hawaii time and arrived back in the chilly Garden State today (Sunday) at 8:30 Eastern Time. Have been waist-deep in laundry since then. I figure that I have been awake for something like 26 hours now.

Suffice it to say that it was a wonderful trip, about which I will have more to say when I have a chance to collect my thoughts and write them down without nodding off at the keyboard.

However, I wanted to write something, as it was the first time I saw how nasty my blog looks with no posts on it.

I’ll check in with y’all later, or possibly tomorrow after I have had a bit of sleep.

Oh, and thanks for all the good wishes. They must have worked because the trip was terrific.

April 11, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:08 pm

Maui sunset.jpgOn Monday, we will be flying off to Hawaii for some sun, fun, beer, booze, and music – lots of music. This marks the second reunion of the band I played with in the sixties. We got together two years ago, with instruments, in Estes Park, Colorado (not too far from where two of the guys live now), and after having not even seen one another for 30+ years, let alone not having played together, it was like we had shown up for a rehearsal after a two-week layoff. The friendships were just as strong and the melodies and harmonies were just as sweet. At the conclusion of the Colorado get-together, we wanted to plan another one, and Hawaii seemed a natural, since one of the guys has lived on Maui since about 1969.

We were a bit of an oddity way back then, as the band was comprised of three Japanese-American brothers and two pale-faced Irish-Americans, one of whom was Yours Truly. Although all of us were born and bred in New Jersey, we capitalized on the unique “look” of the band by performing in happi coats. In keeping with the “theme,” I was always introduced on stage as “Kato,” which matched up quite well with the brothers’ genuine Japanese names.

We played all over the metropolitan area, including the infamous Union City, New Jersey, which was known locally for: (a) its gangsters, and (b) its 3:00 a.m. closing time. I recall being a callow youth humping a drum set over passed-out drunks on the sidewalk at 4:00 a.m. It was a great way to cut one’s musician’s teeth.

The band pretty much cratered when, just about at the same time, I was drafted and one of the guys moved to Hawaii. After returning from the Army, I continued to play in bands (and occasionally still do), but I have a special fondness for this band and the guys who were part of it. Hell, it was the sixties, and we were great friends playing rock and roll. What could be better?

While we are in Hawaii we also plan to do some sightseeing, including a trip to the Big Island and to Oahu long enough to visit the U.S.S. Arizona. I am also looking forward to spending some time hanging around on the beach and doing a good deal of nothing.

See ya in a couple of weeks.

Note: As was the case two years ago, we decided for lots of reasons (including the hassle and cost of transportation) to use a drum machine rather than drums. So, instead of bringing sticks, I will be bringing and playing this (only mine is black with a maple neck).


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:11 am

Peter Cottontail.jpg

Some Easter Notes:

Today marks the end of Craig’s hiatus from blogging. Hang on to your hat.

Today is TJ’s birthday. I know, because I was there. Happy Birthday, T.

April 10, 2004

Computer Turmoil.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:29 pm

It began last night when I followed a link to a Quizilla site called, “How Grammatically Sound Are You?” (No link provided. You’ll see why.) I completed the neat little English usage test offered, and my results indicated that I was a “Grammar God,” which pleased me enormously. I would have been crushed if Mr. Quizilla were to conclude that I am a boob.

Just as I was about to proudly cut ‘n paste the HTML so I could share my seriously important accolade with the world, it occurred to me that I had better click on the option that permits the reader to see what other outcomes were possible. After all, if it turned out that there were three or four levels more impressive than “Grammar God,” I might not want to share my Quizilla-proven illiteracy with the world.

So, I clicked the button that promised to show the other possible outcomes.

WHAMMO!!!! My computer went nuts, virus screens began popping up all over the place, and I found myself in an inescapable loop that was calculated solely to force a download of whatever shit this virus-dispensing outfit was selling. My home page was hijacked, I could not get on the web, and strange icons appeared on my desktop. (Note: I do not believe that Quizilla was in any way responsible for this.)

Before I go any further with the story, I advise that you avoid that particular Quizilla Quiz altogether, and under no circumstances, should you click on the button that shows the other possible outcomes of the quiz, unless, of course, you think having your computer’s brains scrambled poses an interesting intellectual challenge.

Anyway, last night when this happened, I freaked (As most of you know, I don’t do well with misbehaving computers). I decided to shut everything down and deal with in the morning, hoping that the cyber-fairies would straighten things out while I slept.

No such luck.

This morning, I had the same problem. I ran Norton Anti-Virus software, and it came back indicating that there were no viruses detected. Hello? No viruses??? The part of my computer that is not frozen is popping up all sorts of terrifying messages of doom here.

I then ran Ad-aware and dumped the 27 things it located. Still no good.

Now that I had exhausted all my prodigious cyber-skills and things were still screwed up, I really began to get panicky.

Mind you, the House by the Parkway was in a baseline state of turmoil this morning anyway, as we are getting everything together for our trip to Hawaii on Monday. As such, I needed this computer turd tossed into my punchbowl about as much as I need an ingrown asshole.

What to do? What to do?

I wrote to Craig at mtpolitics, to get the URL for my editing page, so I could possibly do a post from my daughter’s house tomorrow, explaining my virus woes and my upcoming absence from the ‘sphere while I will be in Hawaii. I know. I know. I should have written that URL down somewhere, because a bookmark isn’t worth squat if you can’t open Microsoft Explorer. Computer lesson #3,897 learned.

Craig immediately wrote back, indicating that he was sitting at the computer and that I could call him, as he was worried that all this angst would cause me to pull out some of my very excellent hair.

I immediately called him, and I am sure that my state of high anxiety was obvious. In that great laid-back, Montana accent (He speaks with an accent; I clearly do not), he asked me a couple questions and then said, “Well, let’s see if we can straighten this out for ya, Jim.” Fifteen minutes later, after following his clearly given instructions, which included deleting several nasty files from places in my computer I would never, ever think of going near, everything was back to normal.

Craig managed to accomplish this feat early in the morning on the day before Easter, while his two small children (both or whom were more deserving of his attention than some knucklehead from Jersey) scampered about. Quite simply, Craig is the nicest and most helpful guy in the blogosphere.

I will not entertain any dissent on that point.

April 9, 2004

Good Friday.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 2:27 pm

I know that it is generally considered bad form to refer to previous posts. However, on Good Friday last year, I had written a post, entitled “Good Friday and Granny.” I went back to look at it today, and I enjoyed reading it again, so I thought you might as well.

Update: Thanks to Cousin Jack for pointing out that my linkage is stinkage. I fixed the link to the “Good Friday” post to point to the right place. Sorry ’bout that.

April 8, 2004

Memo to Richard Ben-Veniste.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:49 pm

Spare us your grandstanding bullshit, and save your “Perry Mason” performance for Law and Order fans and first-year law students.

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