Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Magic Bill!

Regard my magic silver dollar bill! Revel in its majesty! Fear its unabashed power! Or, marvel at it. Whatever you'd like. 

I will tell you the wonderful story of how this magic bill came into my life. I found it. Maybe a more correct way to say it is that I paid for something and got it. Did I feel its power when I first got it? No. It was only when I tried to put it in a change machine, and it was rejected, that I knew I had something special. 

Joey thought it was fake. I was worried that I had been duped as well. When I Googled it, I was shocked to find a newspaper article about how thousands of fake bills had been put into circulation. My fears were allayed when I realized that the article was written in 1888. If they were still in circulation, those bills were freakin' old. 

This magic bill is a silver dollar note. It was issued in the 50's to make sure the dollar didn't fail. Back in the day, I could have brought that bill into a bank and received one dollar in silver. However, when the price of silver went above one dollar, the gov'ment stopped allowing this. Now the bill has the same monetary worth as a traditional dollar. But what about it's magical power?

I don't know if you are aware of this fact, but silver dollars are quite magical. King Ramses II had one, and he lived to be very very old. Benjamin Franklin had one too, and he slept with half of France. Silver dollars are the kinds of things that start make dreams come true. 

I'm not sure where this bill will take me, but I know it will be someplace fantastic. Should I be sent to space? Maybe. Will I go to Mongolia? It's likely. I just know that I should keep this magic silver dollar close to me. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Finals, finally

I am deep in the midst of finals right now. That's mainly why I haven't updated this much. After next Wednesday I should be free to write more. 

In the meantime, I wanted to put up a quote from I Sing the Body Electric! It is a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury. This section got me yearning for summer. 

"She made a sound like a season all to herself, a morning early in June when the world wakes to find everything perfect, fine, delicately tuned, all in balance, nothing disproportioned. Even before you opened your eyes you knew it would be one of those days. Tell the sky what color it must be, and it was indeed. Tell the sun how to crochet its way, pick and choose among leaves to lay out carpetings of bright and dark on the fresh lawn, and pick and lay it did. The bees have been up earliest of all, they have already come and gone, come and gone again to the meadow fields and returned all golden fuzz on the air, all pollen-decorated, epaulettes at the full, nectar-dripping. Don't you hear them pass? Hover? Dance their language?"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

For the First Time in Four Years

I didn't run the Salt Lake 5k. It felt very weird (other-side-of-the-fence weird) to watch the long stream of runners as I waited for a gap to drive through. I would have considered signing up but I just forgot about it. Now I miss the unique feeling of running alongside thousands of other people down the barricaded roads to the end. And what a beautiful day for it too. Argh.

I guess I'll have to train for the Arts Festival 5k in June. It'll be hotter then, but if I start now it won't be too bad. I can redeem myself, and retain my label of "runner". 

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Dishonest Coupon, Part 1

I don't usually use coupons.  At the grocery store, they get spit out at me every so often. As enticing as they are, they usually end up being for something I don't need, like tampons or diapers. Or, they aren't very good deals, like one dollar of a stock pot. 

Of course, coupons for totally free items are the exception. These are no hassle. They are also very rare. I came across one a few weeks ago for Lipton green tea. I don't usually drink bottled green tea because it seems unnatural to me, but since it was free I decided to pick it up. 

Coupons generally have stringent guidelines, and this one was no different. The bottle had to be green tea, cost less than or equal to $1.60, and be the 16 oz. version. The last rule thwarted me from enjoying free product. 

I could find 16 oz. bottles in cases of eight. I could find 1.5 pint bottles of the stuff, and even 20 oz. bottles, but no single 16 oz. bottles. Why? Why should this be so difficult? 16 oz. bottle, do you not exist? Must I buy you and all of your siblings? Did you gain weight since the printing of the coupon?

Then, I figured out their little plan. They (the grocery lobbyists) would lure me with a coupon for free stuff. They would prey on my American something-for-nothing morality and reduce me to searching in refrigerated units for the 16 oz. Then, frustrated with failure but unable to accept defeat, they knew I would take the bigger size and pay full price. 

My body shook with rage. Blood boiled in my veins. I thought about explosions and the smashing of large melons, Gallagher style. I clenched my fists, and with resolve proudly blazing upon my face I hurled down the 20 oz. bottle I was holding, paid for my groceries and left. I will not be manipulated!

Alright, so I really just placed the 20 oz. bottle back in the case (I hate it when people are sloppy at the grocery store). I almost asked a grocer man where the free green tea was, but he looked irate. Frankly, he frightened me. I WILL return though, I promise, and resolve this bait-and-switch game. I will.  

ST8 Extravaganza!

Here is my first blog about estate sailing. I hope to write many more. It is a hobby and, dare I say, a passion of mine. One reason I really like estate sales is that you can find great things there. Unlike garage or yard sales, where people are getting rid of things they don't want, at estate sales EVERYTHING the person owned is being sold. That increases the quality. Also, I enjoy going through the houses, seeing how people lived. It's an interesting anthropological experience. 

The following pictures are from my adventure last Saturday. The day begin with a trip to an unusual estate sale. I guess some guy had been evicted from a house which someone had subsequently bought. The place was run down. We saw a few unusual things, like:

     Lots of plastic lunch boxes. 

Records scattered all over the floor. 

And, a gentleman's fancy, perhaps?
The house was really smelly. It looked like the guy was a packrat. The kitchen was carpeted (odd) and it had a cool stove. 

The next estate sale wasn't technically an estate sale (since nobody died) but they advertised mannequins. Ever since I saw the movie Mannequin as a kid I have been fascinated with these things. 

At subsequent estate sales, Joey found his first piece of Vaseline
glass. This kind of glass has a little 
bit of uranium in it. It's radioactive, 
and it glows in a black light. I got that orange decanter at Wasatch Furniture, which is going out of business. I used it to water Joey's newly adopted cactus. 

Later on that day the right front tire of my car went flat. Luckily, it was at a gas station at the time so I wasn't in danger of being smashed by oncoming cars. I pretended to change it, but Joey was the one who did everything. 

  Thanks Joey. Lastly, I bought this blue mixing bowl. I really like the color, and now I can make things that require some preparation. I believe that it was a very good ST8 kind of day. We even found some things in an antique store that we had bought, but for less than the store was charging. The deals are great. 

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm lost

I was foolish and got on the whole blogging train too late. 

I'm totally confused about how to subscribe to other's blogs and things like that. If anyone knows how, could you help me? I'll make some origami for you.

Monday, April 7, 2008


This weekend I watched my sister's dog while she was out of town. He is a weimaraner. These dogs were bred originally to hunt birds, so they are very powerful. They needed profuse amounts of energy to run and attack their prey. But, my sister's dog, Charlie, barks and chases birds more than he catches them. 

Watching him was like taking care of a child, a large heavy child. He constantly wanted attention. When he didn't get it he became annoyed and pawed at me. It was like boxing. He'd also try to jump on me, and because he is pretty big and heavy he could do some damage. He never actually knocked me over, but he did try. When I would pay attention to someone else, he would get jealous and bark at me. We went to bed when he wanted to go to bed. And, once we were asleep, he made sure to wake me up every few hours to ensure I still knew he existed. 

I couldn't believe how much energy it took just to watch him. I'd grown up with dogs, but they had been much different. They were my companions, playing with me when I wanted to play and taking care of themselves otherwise. Charlie is like a big baby. I thought it was odd that although he had been bred to be a hunting dog, and at the call of his master, he seemed to have his owners wrapped around his finger...er, paw. He was definitely running the show. I don't know how my sister and brother-in-law get anything else done at home. 

Watching him made me think twice about getting a dog. Apart from it being difficult to take care of a dog in an apartment, I don't have the energy to have a large, slobbering dependent like that. I think I'll wait until I have more time in my life. He was pretty cute though. I think that's why he gets what he wants so often. Being huge doesn't hurt either.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Podcastle review: Come Lady Death

The much heralded Podcastle has finally come into being. This is the third tentacle of Stephen Eley's wonderful literary beast (the other two being Escape Pod and Pseudopod) and it appears to be as good as the others. I will admit that I was not as excited about this newest podcast as others have appeared to be. Hearing the first episode, however, has changed that. 

The story for the first week was Come Lady Death by Peter S. Beagle. Although I cannot explicitly recall reading this story before, the plot seemed familiar. I think it is a story that has been floating around in the collective consciousness of short story readers long enough to be leaked out every so often. I won't review the story itself much, but I do want to talk about the concepts later. I thought the plot was conventional, but in the comforting fairy tale sort of way. 

The story pivots around several social mores, mostly concerning the dangerous and yet enchanting power of death. Death seems to be portrayed in fiction in a wide variety of ways: as bony skeletons, beautiful women, tallish men with wavy hair (a la Touched by an Angel) and each portrayal always has different personality characteristics, like a calm, comforting, or even menacing behavior. Why is the figure of death so self-contradicting? God is generally portrayed in a uniform fashion, as is Mother Nature, the Devil and other supernatural beings.

I think the lack of clarity regarding Death's nature is because of the intense mysteriousness of Death. You can pray to God, or the Devil, and commune with Mother Nature, but how do you connect with Death? By dying. And, unfortunately, dying usually carries the requirement of passing away from this world. Everyone who knows something about Death can't talk. 

That's why ghosts, demons, and Death itself get created in fiction; to act like messengers from the least well-known place. They fill in much desired information. They clarify Death. But, because they are in fictional stories they are written by humans, not ghosts or demons. They therefore tend to reflect more what the writer thinks about Death than what Death thinks about itself. That's where all of the contradicting characteristics of Death arise. 

Come Lady Death provides one scenario for Death entering our world. I like to think of the mantle of Death being handed down from one person to the next over the centuries. I think the REAL interesting thing will be to see if any of our ideas about Death are true when it actually comes.

Note: I just noticed that I posted two entries about death in a row. I'm not obsessed. It's just a coincidence.  

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Dead Man's Plants

I had this excuse that I couldn't write in here if nothing interesting happened in my life. This worked until now. I've got many things to write about. 

Someone killed himself in my apartment building a few months ago. I was at work when it happened.  I received a torrent of text messages. They all asked me if I was okay and where I was and if I had been taken hostage. It shocked me to receive them, and I was completely confused. I learned from my roommate that someone had taken himself hostage in the apartment building. The entire building had been vacated and police had blockaded the street. 

I was relieved that my roommate was not in danger, but I wondered who the hostage was. I only know a few people in the building and I couldn't imagine any of them doing something like this. About an hour before I was leaving to come home (or as near to it as I could get) I received news that the man had killed himself. 

It was hard for me to feel anything but confusion. Everything had happened very fast. When I learned that the man who had died wasn't someone I knew I felt further relieve. It was the kind of relief you get when you know you have no connection to the problem. But I knew someone else must have been horrified by the news. 

When I got home the scene was quite calm. The place felt very eery. Broken glass glittered on the asphalt underneath the apartment and a chair held open the back door. There was no one around. As I looked up into the apartment where he had died, it looked very dark. It looked empty, vacant. 

It has been odd how quickly the man's death has been rolled over by time. The next day someone came to clean the apartment (which must have been awful; he killed himself with a shotgun) and the apartment is now for rent. I don't know if the owner is required to disclose the death at all to prospective tenants. These things made me feel like this man's death was inconsequential. We all live the same lives here that we did before. Someone will move in, put up pictures and arrange furniture, and they will probably never know about the death. I guess I'm forgetting the man's family, they probably think about his death, but I wonder how long it'll take before they forget too. 

The man killed himself because he violated parole and didn't want to go back to prison. He was a sex offender. He wasn't dying for any noble cause, and he wasn't a victim. He died because he thought it was better than living. Maybe he wanted to be forgotten.