Friday, December 31, 2010

The Drought is Over!

I wasn't real optimistic, but my friend Rob from Fort Smith had a hunch that Blackburn Creek got hit with enough rain to bring Lee Creek up. I knew his hunches were far better informed than my hunches so I loaded up the kayak and headed out. Turns out about a dozen of us had the same hunch and were rewarded with the prettiest brown water we've seen on Lee Creek since spring! The gauge, 30 miles downstream in Oklahoma, just broke four feet which is barely runnable but the section we were on was running more like seven feet. We caught it right on the swell! It was cool to be able to paddle with the Fort Smith crew again and to finally test out my 40th birthday present on some moving water. I've had a pristine, scratch-free Jackson 4Fun kayak sitting in my dry and desolate closet since August, begging for rain. The rain came on New Year's Eve!

A picture of Nick watching as Rob takes a picture of Don surfing a wave.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Just Turned 40 an Hour Ago

which puts me in the twilight years of my botched life. Ain't a damn thing changed, though. I've known it was coming. I also knew that the Cossatot River would be running at a sweetheart level today and that my mom would be visiting from Houston and that I would choose, because everything in life is choice, to spend my birthday with her and my wife and son rather than leaving at six in the morning to do the one thing I say I love to do but have proven that I don't love to do because I consistently chose not to do it whenever the rare opportunity arises. I have the heart of a kayaker but life has given me a triple bypass. Actually that's bullshit. I do not have the heart of a kayaker. I do not have the heart of a runner, climber, bicycler, or even a disc golfer. Truth is, and I understand this with greater clarity now, at 40, than I ever have before--the truth is that I have the heart of a man, or a person, let's say, who has never broken a bone or even had a stitch, save the one which closed my gum after having a wisdom tooth pulled. I have the heart of a person so cautious that the most dangerous thing I've done in my life is fail to properly brush my back teeth, and that was more a matter of poor technique than intent; I tried my best to brush every tooth! But forty is here. Forty is the age when you realise who you are, and that who you are is who you are, and that who you are is not going to change. Forty is the age when you are able to examine your past decisions regarding kayaking and from that, accurately project future decisions. For instance, I know with great certainty that I will puss out from at least one trip to the Ocoee next summer. No doubt I'll have some lame excuse like "It's my son's birthday" or "I'm taking my boy camping" as if my son has no mother to take care of him. It's hard, I tell you! It's hard knowing that I could go kayaking tomorrow on the Cossatot and that doing so would not result in me getting divorced and that I reached the decision not to go kayaking very easily. Is it possible that in the deepest depth of my soul, in the part of me which I never explore because I'm afraid of what I might find--is it possible that I'm actually looking forward to the quaint and understated celebration my wife no doubt has planned for me in which by boy hands me the wrapped Andis Ceramic Advanced Hair Clipper #21490 which I've already purchased on ebay along with a card drawn in crayons and a cupcake with one of those candles shaped like a 40? Could that be?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Syndrome that Sounds Like Ass Burgers

There is such a thing, and I have it! The fact that I have been medically diagnosed with this condition, by myself, changes nothing. If anything, it just disappoints me to learn that I'm not the only one to have this crippling lack of social acumen; I thought I had invented something new! Other than that, the Dave who now knows his condition has a name is indistinguishable from the Dave who didn't know. I still alternate daily between constipation so severe it must be cleared digitally and diarrhea that makes a bad bout of amoebic dysentery feel like a single bad taco; I still get beat up for using words like ennui in the break room; I still have people ask me, "Jesus Christ, Renfro, do you talk about kayaks all the time?" "Not when I'm sleeping." I always reply as I continue my twenty-minute explanation of a method of running waterfalls called "boofing," a technique which I myself have never attempted. The diagnosis was a slam-dunk just from reading the Wikipedia article; it was mere curiosity that--and this is a stylistically terrible way to write this sentence--drove me to drive to the bookstore to purchase a copy of Tony Attwood's The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome* along with Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. When I read it (the Asperger's book), it was is if I had written it myself! About me! Seriously, every paragraph is like a mirror into my own socially dysfunctional soul. It talks about "pedantic speech" and "unusual prosody" and such: I have no fucking idea what prosody is but I'm all about pedantry! Why be merely correct when you can be pedantic? That's what I always say! The fact is, I know I must speak and write using rigorously correct grammar or everything I say will definitely be misunderstood, probably earning me a slap in the face or worse. The book also talks about unusual and narrow interests. Here's an actual quote: "The child with Asperger's may have read fifty novels by 19th century French realists with syphilis but won't be able to explain the meaning of any of them" (Attwood, 2007). No shit! It's really in there! And of course it mentions "using metaphor meaningful only to the speaker." I'm the poster boy for using metaphor meaningful only to the speaker! Did you know that the marriage to my partner of now fifteen years nearly never happened because of a botched metaphor? I was working as an airframe mechanic at the time that I composed what I thought was the most tender and heartfelt tribute I could ever offer her, that going a day without her love holding me tight would be like going a day without my cleco pliers. I guess she didn't understand how completely fucking impossible it is to perform even the simplest airframe repair without cleco pliers. It took a month of grovelling to win her back! So yes! It's a slam dunk. I do have Asperger's and I'm going to continue to have it till I die, eighty frustrating years from now, because I like it and I want to have it. Without it, or more precisely without the knowledge of it, I would still be wandering about looking for something to explain my astonishing lack of success in this world. Now I know!

*It is true that this book was recommended to me by a therapist who works with young children. Infer nothing! It is Mrs. DMG's position, and therefore my position, that even if DMG Jr. had what my Guru to All Things Rod White calls "the most grand and glorious 'wrong' that a person can have," and it would thrill me to learn that he did because it is glorious and it is grand, I should not post anything about it here. And so I won't.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bear Island Paddle Day

Ben and Ryan from OMTC brought a bunch of cool boats out to the Hwy 12 Bridge for a quick paddle around Bear Island on Beaver Lake. I put the first scratches on a brand new Perception Prodigy (prodigy of what, I'm not sure) and then swapped into Ben's 16-foot touring kayak. What a rocket! I'd own one if it wasn't geometrically impossible to get it into my second-storey apartment. After we got back to the boat ramp, we took turns in each other's playboats, which feel really freaky after spending an hour in a boat that is a full ten feet longer. Thanks OMTC, you guys rock!

Not all who wander are lost!

A picture of Ben taking a picture.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

GO LERFS!

It's taken some adjustment, but so far my life post-Proust has been going fairly well. I just plow my field, plant whatever vegetable I'm going to grow that day, and harvest it when it's ready. Sure, there's cows to milk and eggs to collect, but that only takes a few minutes. The best thing is that the evenings are all mine! Of course, a person who reads Proust in 290 days is not going to be satisfied by drinking beer and watching hockey every night. That person is going to have to do some pondering, which is what I do. Fortunately, being a small-time farmer provides one with endless material for thought. Like how, if the Toronto Maple Leafs were instead called the Toronto Maple Leaves, then the mind of an aerial viewer seeing a "GO LEAVES!" sign made from hay bales would automatically assign the letter "A" rather than the letter "R" to the ambiguous third character because "leaves" is a familiar word. I usually start the evening pondering that, but, like always, my light and frivolous pondering soon turns to a melancholy brooding that lasts the night. I think of the work it took to make the sign and how unfortunate it is that I can't see it from the air. Most of all, I agonize over the fact that, even though I've been a Leaf's fan long enough that "LEAFS" is a real world to me, I still (in my mind's eye because I've never actually seen my sign) see "GO LERFS!" about half the time. My sleepless agonizing turns to genuine suffering when I realize that the full creative force of my mind cannot produce a single fucking idea how to fix it. About that time, the goddamned rooster crows and my insomniac ass is back in the field. But that is my life, post-Proust!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I Really Good Blog Idea for Someone


Well, is no one going to point out how extraordinary it is that the Maple Leafs won their season opener last Thursday? It wouldn't be hard to do. I mean, it's not like you'd have to spent so many hours on the opening paragraph that the necessary task of spreading this great and surprising news would keep you from reading Proust during the few minutes of peace you have every night. Here, I'll get you started:

TORONTO--Does anybody remember the California Seals? One of the six expansion teams added in 1967 double the size of the NHL, they lost to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs in their opening game. They would not lose to the Leafs again. Nor would any other team. For the next 43 years, fans would fill every seat in the Maple Leaf Gardens, and starting in 1999 every seat in the Air Canada Center, every single game, because they loved hockey and in particular, they loved Toronto hockey! They didn't mind seeing their beloved Maple Leafs lose game after game, season after season, because they understood that after their successful cup run in 1967, with their best players either retiring or being traded away, the team simply wasn't good enough to win. Instead, they came to eat overpriced hot dogs, drink overpriced beer, and watch the players they idolised struggle valiantly and fall. That's what they paid for, what they expected, and what they got night after night. Well, last night, against a tired and listless Montreal team, they watched the Toronto Maple Leafs struggle valiantly and win!

The rest is cake! Just continue developing the idea that the Leafs hadn't won a game since 1967. You could talk about how they hadn't scored three goals in one game since Alexander Mogilny scored the franchise's only hat trick in '02. Or how they hadn't held a team to two goals since King Clancie's legendary game in 1932, a game the Leafs lost 2-0. Maybe you could include some post-game interviews with Leaf's Captain Dion Phaneuf who would explain how he thought he'd gotten the last win of his career when Calgary traded him, or with Kaberle who would describe what it's like playing thirteen straight 82-game seasons without a single win and how astonishing it is to finally win one. "I can't wait to call my mom in the Czech Republic!" he might say.

It's a little late, I suppose, but it's still a good idea. Someone should take it and run with it!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It Occurs To Me At Three In The Morning

that my inability to sleep is an indicator not of insomnia, but rather of an abundance of energy for which I do not know the cause. My inability to sleep during the day is an indicator of my having a job.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Trick to Reading Proust

It took me a while to figure it out, which is crazy considering that I've told people for years that my brain only works while I'm standing up. In fact, I blame my constant failure in school (which means my failure to get the grades I could have gotten "if I only applied myself," which was the mantra sung by every one of my teachers at every parent-teacher conference for as long as my parents chose to attend them. Having a mother who dual-majored in Philosophy and Russian Studies and a father who taught physics at West Point, the consequences of actually failing a class, by that I mean having an absolute failing grade of F rather that the relative failing grade of C when, in their minds at least, I could have gotten a better grade if I had just applied myself, would have been too severe to even contemplate.) entirely on the stubborn insistence on the part of my teachers that I sit down during class. If I had been allowed to stand up, or even better to pace, my whole school experience, and the resulting trajectory into my working life, could have all gone much better, but I digress.... What I figured out was that you need to stand up if you're ever going to read Proust to the end. Never mind the fact that you got up at 5:30 in the morning, stood on concrete for ten hours at work, came home, chased your son on his bicycle for four miles (on foot of course so you could help push him up the hills), and then came home to chaos lasting until midnight when everyone else finally got to sleep. You grab a quick sandwich, do some stretches, and open your book to the last folded page, knowing you have to work the next day. But that's what it takes, reading Proust! You have to commit to it fully, or the task will haunt you till you die. You can't read Proust by sitting on the couch with your head slumped to one side, slobber running from your open mouth, and the book lying on the floor right where you dropped it. That is folly! So drink some tea, take some Aleve if you have to, and stand your ass up! Stand up so you can finish this terrible task once and for all! Finish it and get your life back!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Hallelujah!

I'm Thinking of Changing Professions

I don't know why I would do such a thing. I mean, it's not like I was dropped into this life of grungy factory work by some unfortunate chain of circumstances over which I exerted very little control or anything. On the contrary, it was a series of deliberate and carefully considered career decisions, it was the consistent expression of my most deeply held values, it was the determined execution of an educational strategy focusing on the tangible value of labor over the insubstantial and fleeting value of thought, it is that which has landed me in my stagnant job, a job which holds no social esteem at all in today's information society and which will no doubt be performed by my counterpart in Bangladesh rather than by me long before I'm able to build a financial foundation that will support anything close to what would be considered a comfortable retirement.

But that's not why I'm thinking of changing professions.

I'm thinking of changing professions because a bunch of shit-for-brains motherfuckers in Florida are planning to burn a thousand copies of the Holy Qur'an in a few days. I'm actually not thinking of changing professions because of that so much, but because of the shocking abundancy of dumbass pundits spreading the idea that burning a thousand copies of the Qur'an is somehow equivalent to building a Mosque in Manhattan so Muslims who live there will have a place to gather and worship. That is what makes me want to change professions.

It's not easy, though, executing a career change after two decades spent in exactly one specific profession. The skills rarely cross over. For instance, I'm not sure how knowing how to cut left-hand metric screw threads on a lathe will help me in my new career as a peace activist. Or trepanning. Or, no shit, drilling a square hole! Really, I've done it! What I haven't done is outreach. Or organising. Or fundraising. I'd be useless in any those extremely important functions, and I see no hope of ever learning them. I guess the key for me, then, is to find some sub-activity, some very specific aspect of peace activism which, if I applied myself diligently, I might be able to learn in the short time I have left. Off the top of my head, the only skill that seems promising is that of getting beat down. I've never gotten beat down before, not by cops anyway, but I have been badly hurt in other ways and come back for more. I'm not bragging but simply pointing out the truth when I say that I've not sought treatment for wounds which would have sent any normal person crying to the emergency room like a pussy. I've had at least ten lacerations requiring stitches, but I've never had a stitch. Superglue a few times, but usually I just let the exposed flesh crust over while the skin slowly encroaches back over it. It's painful and takes forever, but cuts heal on their own just fine. I've grenaded my ankles several times, including once when my orthopedist (I was required by the Army to have my injury evaluated) urged me to have surgery in order to save myself from an extremely long recovery. "No thanks!" I said. I wore a neoprene wetsuit in a swimming pool once and had an allergic reaction causing second degree burns on two thirds of my body. I was in the same pool, wearing the same wetsuit, only two weeks later. Fluid was still weeping through my skin. These are not skills, but taken together as an indicator of toughness, I think they support my idea that I could be a great beat-down man. Furthermore, God has given me one more special gift which I think will improve my worth as a beat down man. I'm short and small! This is an important detail. When people see a giant being beaten down by cops, they notice only his size and think that they needed six people to beat him down because he was so damn big. When they see a five-foot-seven person like myself being beaten down by six cops, they feel sympathy. And another thing: When I go limp, I go limp completely! I can turn myself into a 170-pound, amorphous glob of freckled flesh. It will take no less than eight people to squeegee my slimy, uncooperative mass into a paddy wagon. I am a paragon of non-resistance! So get the cameras running and bust out the batons, baby! I'm ready! It's been a long time since I've had my face ripped off by a firehose. That's just the kind of refreshment I need! Pepper spray? Fucking BRING! IT!

Unfortunately, it's too late to get tickets to Florida tomorrow and I have to work anyway so maybe I'll have to take that beating later. You kinda need time off and travel money to be the beat-down man, it seems. Maybe I'll just do this peace activist thing part time. Fayetteville is a college town so I'm sure I'll get my chance at it. In the mean time, especially since I bitchslapped The Captive in three days putting my Proust project way ahead of schedule, I have plenty of time to read the Qur'an I just bought last night. Maybe I'll learn something. I will also keep doing what I'm already doing which is offering the alternative viewpoint of peace to the people I talk to every day. And to those (who are many) who don't detect any flaw in their own thinking when they decide arbitrarily to hate 1.6 billion people, who have done them absolutely no harm, just because of the inconsequential detail of their religion, I will urge them to get off their bigoted asses and GET SOME FUCKING PERSPECTIVE!

Some fucking perspective.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Center Offers Help to Hysterical Mothers

SPRINGDALE, AR--With kindergarten underway, many of Springdale's mothers will be receiving that terrifying call from school asking for a conference to discuss "educational strategies" for their young children. Mother's of boys with summer birthdays will receive most of those calls. Fortunately, a local agency provides support to help these mothers cope with the reality that their kids just aren't quite ready for school.

The Ozark Education Services Coop offers a wealth of resources designed to reassure mothers that their children are basically healthy and free of disabling learning disorders. "All children develop differently," says OESC Director Margie McDonald, "The fact that your child is barely five isn't an indicator of a learning disability any more than being almost six is an indicator of superior motor control." Still, many mothers panic or become severely depressed when they realize their five-year-old simply isn't ready to cope with the rigor and intensity of today's kindergarten. These are the mothers OESC was designed to help.

According to the center, parenting website addiction counselling is their most commonly requested service. "Only a medical professional can diagnose autism and other learning disabilities," reminded McDonald. "We tell moms that putting their kids on a diet of clownfish, beet juice, and pulverized gunamalaca root just because autism_mom431 from DesMoines said in some chat room that it did wonders for her autistic child is not a great strategy for giving their own perfectly normal child a fun and productive kindergarten experience. Instead, we urge mothers to simply allow their kids to become a year older, which happens quite naturally."

Another popular service offered at the center is objectivity training. Nearly all mothers can spot the aspects of their child's development which seem to be lagging. Unfortunately, many moms find it much more difficult to see the areas in which their child is developing faster that average. "Usually they just need a reminder. Being able to ride the crap out of a bicycle on steep trails is not an indicator of kindergarten preparedness, but it's a skill that most kindergartners have not developed yet," explains McDonald. The objectivity training classes meet twice a week and focus on teaching moms to see the bigger picture of their child's development.

For so long, mothers of children with summer birthdays were forced to deal with the stress of a July kindergarten cutoff date by themselves. Many felt great guilt at having conceived in October. But thanks to the Ozark Education Services Coop, those mothers can now get the reassurance they need that their children are developing just fine. Many mothers report that holding their children back a year before starting kindergarten actually set them on a trajectory to learn more and have more fun throughout their educational careers. All the center's services are offered free of charge.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Doomed Child Just Started Kindergarten!

But seeing all the other kids this morning, I think he's not doomed any worse than the rest of them, in spite of my months of near constant protestation that he was not ready. He might even enjoy having some structure to his day, which if the first few minutes was any indication, he will have no shortage of structure! By the time we arrived, most of his classmates were already seated, with their hands in their laps and their heads pointed straight forward, afraid to blink. We only had a few seconds to meet his teacher but she seemed like a very sweet lady as long as you don't try to fuck with her. So go forth with gusto, Doomed Child! Play time is over, but a life of wondrous toil awaits those who seize it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An Infinitely Better Rewrite:

I don't dream, I ponder the unobtainable.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Don't Dream

I stare dejectedly into the Great Unobtainable.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Recondite Quips and Hockey Fight Clips

"Suicide is not an act, it's a fearless imaginative leap across the sucking black void of the unknowable."

--Failure expert UF Mike

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Dave Mows Grass on Being Straight

I've known I was straight since my first inkling that such things as gay or straight existed. Even before that, I suppose I did sense that I was different from most of my playmates in some vague way which I didn't understand. By puberty, there was absolutely no doubt. I liked girls! Since then, my life has been a continuous struggle for acceptance in a world which hates and fears me because of what seems to me to be a minor and inconsequential difference, a difference which poses no material threat to anyone. I've never been ashamed of being straight, but for many years I've kept it to myself, even when it was obvious to the people who were close to me. Well, today I'm coming out!

My parents happened to be male. I was lucky, though, that neither of my dads ever beat me like happens so often to other straights with male parents. Instead, they took the "compassionate" route by sending me to counselors and priests who could help me "discover my true, natural preference for boys." I threw a screaming fit one time when one of my dads staged an intervention with a bunch of people from church who tried to hold me in a room with them while they "prayed the straight away," as if the inclination I have always had towards girls was some kind of demon which could be exorcised. That was the last time I've ever entered a church.

I was still a kid when that happened, not even old enough to date. The fact is, I didn't date at all in high school. Sure, I ran around with some girls and my friendships with girls had a somewhat different context than my friendships with boys, but I never had a girlfriend. I didn't dare! Of course, my dads kept prodding me to find a date for the prom, but I never considered that possibility for an instant. The idea of dating another boy seemed absurd from the outset because I was not, and had never been, even the slightest bit attracted to boys, not in any sexual or intimate sense, at least. My best friend at school, who happened to be male, often suggested that I try dating a boy--not himself; he already had a boyfriend, but some other boy--just to experience it for myself. He said I would only be exploring my sexuality which, particularly for late-teenagers like ourselves, might not be a bad thing. Of course, I countered by asking him why he didn't try dating a girl just to explore his own sexuality. Of course, he said he could never do that! I appreciated my friend's good intentions and the delicacy with which he approached the matter. I also very much appreciated the fact that he was never afraid of me (Nor were my other friends, who were quite numerous). He was kind to me when so many others weren't.

That's been a recurring theme in my life, that I've always had friends. Unfortunately, though, even my friends were not completely immune to the conditioning that comes from a society in which the overwhelming majority of people are gay. So many times, I've sensed that one of my friends actually had quite a strongly entrenched opposition to heterosexuality but regarded me as an exception only because they had, in their first interactions with me, found me to be an admirable person for some reason before they ever figured out that I was straight. I sensed from them: "I think heterosexuality is wrong, but it's hard not to like Dave!" I forgave them, though. I had to forgive them or I would have no friends, which is very sad.

I joined the Army at an interesting time because Don't Ask, Don't Tell had just become law. If anything, DADT made my own situation worse because it highlighted the fact that I could not be openly straight. I was still in the closet then just like I have been till this minute as I write this, so if DADT didn't exist at that time, I would have stayed in the closet without much thought. I would have known that I couldn't come out without that fact being codified in federal law. As it was, we had fun with it. I suppose it was pretty obvious that I was straight so it didn't surprise me that much when my cohorts took to calling me Don't Ask Don't Tell. It was a term of endearment, I suppose, because it was only my friends who called me that. For the most part, I think I endured less discrimination in the military than on the outside. It's as if the topic was off-limits. I was assigned female roommates just like gay males and we showered together. None of my roommates ever requested to be moved and none of them was ever afraid to dress or undress in front of me. I knew they were lesbians and I respected that. My being straight was a complete non-issue to them. That said, I did have a few bad experiences in the Army. The worst, and certainly the scariest, was when I was walking back to the barracks from the head just as a group from my platoon was coming back from a drinking binge. They didn't actually do anything to me other than yell things like, "Why don't you go fuck a woman in the vagina, straight boy!" One of them made obscene gestures like he was squeezing a breast. I wanted to shout, "I'll fuck your mom in her vagina!" but I didn't. Instead I just looked straight ahead and quickened my pace back to my room. It was frightening and very humiliating.

Since I got out of the military, I did what most straights do: I quietly lived my life. I finally met in person the cute and very funny woman from the Philippines I had been penpals with for several years. I went to the Philippines again a few years later and decided for sure--though we had both seen that it would happen long before that--that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. It took her a few years to get a visa, but eventually she got here and we started our lives together. Now we have a five-year-old son who's about to start kindergarten. How time flies!

A few years ago, they passed a law creating an institution called a "Domestic Partnership" for opposite-sex couples which grants them many of the privileges same-sex couples enjoy. We thought about it just because the tax treatment would save us some money, but in the end, we decided to hold out till society gets it's head out of it's ass and finally passes a law allowing opposite-sex couples to marry. The modern world has already done it; it's only these puritanical religious states like America that are holding out. We have hope, though! We see progress in the courts and we see progress in the society-at-large. The young people I talk to today could give a rat's ass that I'm heterosexual. As non-traditional couples become more common, and people see that kids from hetero couples end up becoming homos, and kids from homo couples become hetero, and that none of those kids become rapists or spread the plague just because of the sexual orientation of their parents, the argument that straights are a threat to our society is going to get harder and harder to make. We have hope! I know that someday I will be able to finally marry the only woman I have ever loved. My wife!

So I declare today, to my family, my friends, and anyone else who is interested; to those who suspected it but weren't sure, who wanted to believe otherwise but didn't, or who were simply too thick to notice the preponderance of indicators of it which were obvious to everyone else; that I am completely and unabashedly straight! I always have been and I always will be! As if it fucking matters!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Books I Wish I Had Discovered Sooner

There's just one, actually, by the ever-insightful Alain de Botton. Oh, how I wish I had browsed How Proust Can Ruin Your Life before I ever read that first paragraph in Swann's Way where the narrator describes the moment in which he falls asleep. How much more sleep would I have gotten in the six months since, and how much more in the next six months, because you haven't climbed Everest until you get back down (Most people who die on the descent), and I've just started Sodom and Gomorrah (which is volume IV of VI for my more provincial readers not yet familiar with Proust). It is nice knowing that I only have to read another two thousand pages, but I fear the damage is already done. Perhaps this proves correlation but not causation (my ham handed attempt to apply my profound insight to the matter using a long and difficult parenthetical clause--I know this--will add absolutely no value to this sentence), but the more Proust I read, the less ability I have to compose a coherent, readable paragraph.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Short Rant

Greed is the emotion which drives all human progress. Capitalism is the one system which best rewards greed, and thus is the system which best rewards those who drive our progress as a species. Corporations are the mechanism by which capitalism is carried out. Profitable corporations grow and contribute more to human progress. Unprofitable corporations fail which thereby causes the workers in those corporations to abandon their wasted work which has no value in exchange for work at successful corporations which does have value. That is the beauty of capitalism: No one is allowed to waste effort in activities which contribute nothing to human progress! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go celebrate my most deeply held American values by fucking a blowout preventer with a black-and-white photo of Ayn Rand taped to it.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The New Dave!

Working to bring that score up!

The Old Dave

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our Wedding was Beautiful!

Rod White: Ladies and gentlemen, (there were no ladies or gentlemen present) we are gathered here today to celebrate the successful fiance visa petition of petitioner Dave and petitionee Cristina and to execute the change to their marital status required by the terms of that visa in a manner consistent with both federal and Arkansas law. If anyone knows some reason why Dave and Cristina should not be so joined, speak now or forever hold your peace.

(no one else was present)

Rod White: Dave, do you take Cristina as your cohabitating partner, to maintain a relationship with her that displays the attributes recognized by the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services as indicators of a bona fide marriage in accordance with the terms of Cristina's visa?

Me: I do!

Rod White: And do you agree to consummate this marriage only in darkness and only in the face-to-face, man-superior position as required by Arkansas statute?

Me: Yeah, whatever.

Rod White: Cristina, do you take Dave as your cohabitating partner, to maintain a relationship with him that displays the attributes recognized by the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services as indicators of a bona fide marriage in accordance with the terms of your visa?

Cristina: Huh?

Rod White: Say I do.

Cristina: I do!

Rod White: And do you agree to consummate this marriage only in darkness and only in the face-to-face, man-superior position as required by Arkansas statute?

Cristina: What are you talking about?

Rod White: By the power vested in me by the State of Arkansas, I now pronounce you married for immigration, tax, and all other legal purposes. You may petition for removal of the conditional status on your permanent residency in the 90 days prior to the two-year anniversary of this date. Congratulations!

I Finally Got my Quarterly Evaluation!

Husband Performance Review and Development Plan

Husband: Dave Mows Grass
Reviewer: Mrs. Dave Mows Grass

Personal Appearance: 6 (meets expectations) Good hair cut but your brown pocket T-shirts make you look old.

Personal Demeanor: 7 (meets expectations) You've made big gains in this area by not scowling or embarassing me at parties. Still room for improvement.

Bedroom Performance: 6 (meets expectations) Your performance is adequate.

Father Duties: 9 (surpasses expectations) Donald loves his Daddy and the hiking trips to Hobbs! Would be 10 but I heard you tell him that bicycle helmets are for pussies.

Household Duties: 8 (surpasses expectations) You go above and beyond your normal maintenance duties by cooking awesome spaghetti! I'm still waiting for you to change the light bulb in the fridge.

Financial Support: 4 (needs improvement)

(6 + 7 + 6 + 9 + 8 + 4)/6 = 6.67

6.67 kayaking weekends earned this quarter. (A kayaking weekend consists of any two-day period beginning at 07:30 the first day and ending at 18:00 the second day. Single-day kayaking trips ending by 18:00 are charged 0.5 kayaking weekends.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rod Wants to Know What Happened

The wording of his question baffles me:

By the way .... you never did fill me in on the lawn mowing catastrophe. Your blog said something to the effect of your foray into horticultural entrepreneurship provided an unexpected high return .... your head. I guess it is better to have your head handed back to you on a platter than for them to still be playing soccer with it. Still there are lingering thoughts that in the USA, a bright young capitalist with a plan who is willing to put forth the effort can build a strong business. What happened?

Quack, Quack!


I agree that a bright young capitalist with a plan who is willing to put forth the effort can build a strong business in this greedy-ass, fucked-up country; I'm just not sure what this has to do with me? Surely my machine shop professor and post-graduate advisor, mentor, person who represented the interests of the State of Arkansas at my wedding, and Guru to All Things Duck hasn't mistaken me for a capitalist? Or for a bright young person? Perhaps he has misunderstood the nature of my oft-overstated libertarian leanings: Believing I have been endowed by my creator with the inalienable right to climb aboard a 150cc mufflerless Honda with an enormous rear sprocket along with half a dozen other people and two huge bags of marang and then travel very loudly and slowly from Nob Hill down to the bridge and back up to Sonora is a much different thing from believing I have the right to overcharge for mowing labor or even charge for labor that I have not actually performed, which is what capitalism is. I'm no capitalist! I'm not very bright, either, or I would have know that the relationship I thought I had with the one company I mowed for was not a relationship with that company at all but with a particular person at that company and that when that person was suddenly gone, the relationship would be suddenly gone as well.

Heartbreaking, but that's it in a nutshell. Thanks for asking!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Religion Hijacks Great Conversation!

Mulberry River near Ozark--A conversation between kayakers involved in the 35th Anniversary School of Whitewater Paddling put on by the Arkansas Canoe Club went terribly wrong this Saturday when a latecomer apparently misunderstood the topic being discussed. According to witnesses, the late-night conversation was philosophical and hypothetical in nature and not a critique of any particular religion. One glassy-eyed participant described the incident as he munched on breakfast cereal straight from the box: "Dude, we weren't talking about religion at all, man! We were talking about the knowability of things, about how some people can't stand knowing that they really can't know something so they just know it anyway. We were just using religion as a vehicle to explore this righteous idea man, when all of a sudden this drunk dude walks up saying Christians are stupid and stuff. What a fucking letdown, man!" The party crasher reportedly refused to shut up or leave causing many of the other kayakers to retire to their tents early leaving half-drunk beers on the picnic table. The people involved dispersed before authorities were able to respond.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Don't Understand all the Outrage

over Arizona's new racial profiling law: It only targets those who are Latino illegally.

Monday, April 26, 2010

We Hold these Truths to be Self-evident,

that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the laughable pursuit of Some Measure of Happiness.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Canoe School Trunk Sale!

Jackson Creek Floats: Used one year but still in excellent condition. Asking $50.

Seals Shocker Sprayskirt: Size 1.4 cockpit/large tunnel. Fits perfectly on All Stars, Diesels, EZGs, or similar. Tight but doable on a Fun. Probably too small for the bigger Jacksons. Very good condition. Asking $50. Bluewater Rescue Throw Bag: Bag with foam floatation only. This is a very large bag designed for 75' of 3/8" rope. Pack Rat had 3/8" Sterling Grabline in stock last time I checked or you can order 75' lengths of several types of water rescue rope directly from Sterling. You know what, I've changed my mind. Throw bag is not for sale. Sorry!

Stohlquist Bunny Suit: Size Large. I wore this on the river one time and roasted. Since then I've been using Capilene 3 and doing just fine so I don't need it anymore. They also make great pajamas for winter camping if you don't have a heavy sleeping bag. Asking $50.

NRS Stampede Semi-Dry top with no tunnel: Size Large. This is actually more like a very nice splash top because the inner tunnel is missing. The tunnel was seam taped in but not sewn. Part of it tore loose while I was getting the thing off so I just pulled the whole tunnel out. It works great as long as you stay upright but won't keep you dry if you're doing much rolling. Would be great for rec boating because it's cool and easy to get on and off. Asking $25.

Marmot "Original" DriClime Windshirt: Size Large. I had tried on other Marmot jackets in town and they fit so I ordered this one which the store didn't stock. The sleeves were about four inches to long and very annoying. I should have returned it but didn't so my loss! No tags but new condition. Asking $30

Bluewater Rappelling harness: Wads up really small. Nice! Asking $15. PMI 9mm x 15m Max Wear Static Rope: Rappelled on several times but nothing close to a fall. Asking $10. PMI 11mm x 30m EZ Bend Static rope: Used once but like new save a few smudges on the sheath. Asking $25. Neither rope is suitable for water rescue or climbing but both are perfect for rappelling and tire swings.

Crappy Hat: Asking 1 beer. Crappy Dry Bag: Asking 1 beer. Sea-to-Summit Synthetic Towel: Asking 2 beers. Sure-Fire 6P Flashlight: Uses CR-123 camera batteries. Very bright! The batteries in it are still good. Asking a six-pack but make offer.

If you want any of this stuff, let me know and I'll hold on to it. Otherwise look for the brown Accord with the lime-green REV on top at canoe school and let's make a deal. Thanks for looking!

~Dave

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Policy Memo - Post and Entry

A blog is a weblog which is a form of log. Logs have entries, not posts. From now on, DMG Gibberish Solutions will use the noun "entry" to refer to blog entries because that's what they are. While it might be technically correct to use the verb enter to refer to the act of entering an entry, it sucks stylistically. For this reason, DMG Gibberish Solutions will use the verb "post" to refer to the act of entering an entry. Employees caught using the word post to refer to an entry or the word entering to refer to the act of posting will be subject to discipline according to company policy up to and including possible termination. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Dave Renfro, CEO

Controlled document. Not for distribution.
DMG-54147

I Still Can't Blog

Even with the playoffs underway. Simply typing, "Proust tried a cute curl and drag move around Capitals defenseman Alexie Karenin and got hip-checked clear to Combray," is not a blog entry. You need some fluff to go with it! I seem to be all out of fluff. Maybe I need to take more vitamin F to get the fluff rolling again. Punchlines and zingers are worthless without fluff and lately I'm all punchlines. Like at work: I said to my Marshallese friend, "Soon we'll all be living bleak, horrible lives like everyone in Europe, Scandinavia, and Canada." "Dude," he answers, "give me some fucking context!" Apperently the irony of knowing that not all Europeans live bleak, horrible lives did not satisfy him. It satisfies me but only when I combine it with the thousands of other very mildly ironic sentence fragments which flash through my mind and disappear every distracted second of my sleepless life. So yes, my blogging has become so sporadic that I cannot reasonably expect even my most faithful readers to keep checking back day after day in the empty hope of finding something new. I do make this solemn oath to all of you, though: I promise, I swear before God, that no matter what siege of writer's block befalls me, no matter what destitution of ideas paralyses my fingers, I will never regurgitate old blog entries just for the sake of posting something.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Tax Day Rant

I am willing to pay to live in a modern, peaceful, compassionate society. It would be counterproductive to raise my taxes so much that I end up needing the social services my taxes are paying for, but I could easily pay a few percent more than I'm paying now. I'm willing to do so because I recognize that most of the people on the bottom are put there by circumstance, not by laziness--I'm but a long run of bad luck away from being there myself--and that providing a basic level of comfort and security to those people makes my life better. Of course, raising taxes by a few percent would mean socialism and socialism means that we would all live bleak, horrible lives like everyone in Europe, Scandinavia, and Canada.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Hobbs WMA - Pigeon Roost Trail

This is strictly an informative blog entry. It informs you that I hiked the Pigeon Roost Trail at Hobbs today. I'll also add that I discovered Hobbs Wildlife Management Area is now called Hobbs State Park Conservation Area and that they built a spectacular visitor center on Hwy 12 just east of 303 from War Eagle. The weather was moderate and the sediment from that last rains had settled leaving Beaver Lake its normal, beautiful green. I hiked eight miles with a pack and I'll feel it tomorrow. This is all just information. I did not discover anything new about myself or have any profound ideas during the hike. I have no particular angle on the hike. It was simply a good hike on a nice day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I Almost Posted Something!

I have it fully written in my mind and half typed. It is in draft. I'd finish it now while I'm alert and completely capable of doing so, but I'm writing this instead because I don't know why. Actually, I do know why, and it isn't because I want to post my idea later after the issue of the day becomes the issue of yesterday making my insights seem like that witty comeback that came just a microsecond too late. I've suffered that humiliation far too many times to knowingly and purposely do it again! The reason is that I just don't want to. I don't want to write satire. I don't want to produce paragraphs of forced, contrived context just to highlight the term "pre-existing human condition" or the sentence, "Dave has a congenital understanding that every day lived is a day closer to the end of his short and ultimately meaningless existence." They stand on their own!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dave Mows Grass on Writer's Block

I get it. Actually, I don't get it. I get writer's window. Writer's block, for me at least, is the normal state; it is my baseline ability to create, or more precisely, to not create. If I have ever written, it is because some stimulus introduced itself to my life opening the window for me to do so. Unfortunately, such stimulation typically has a very short half-life. It's rare that I can write well for more than a few days at at time. That's why I so enjoyed that two-week stretch about a month ago: I was viewing the world through an astigmatism of hope that made everything seem worthwhile. I wrote and wrote! But like always, the stimulus that opened my window slowly closed it as it left, leaving behind a lifeless sky casting such grey pallor on the world, a pallor that penetrates roofs and walls leaving no shadows, leaving no possibility of hue or contrast, that nothing right now seems particularly worth writing about. God I miss Miriam!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Natoma Tops List of Unfortunate Cancer Names

OHIO--Speaking to supporters in Strongsville, Ohio today, President Obama told the heart-wrenching story of Ohio cleaning woman and cancer survivor Natoma Canfield who was forced to drop her name insurance coverage due to constantly increasing premiums. "The real tragedy," said Obama, "Is that Natoma isn't even a real cancer. Carcinoma is a real cancer, and Carcy is a great nickname! Melanoma, Melanie, is a lovely name, too. Remember the Gold medal-winning gymnast Marylou Retinoma? Now that's a cancer name! If you ask me, Natoma's getting short shrift!" Democratic
supporters agreed, noting that many Americans of foreign descent also have cancer names. Myeloid-Leukemia is a common Greek name, usually abreviated ML. Mesothelioma is a popular name among Iraqis, particularly those from the Tigris and Euphrates region. Cancer names are so common in Germany that even Prime Minister Angela Merkel Cell has a cancer name. "Americans of all races deserve relief from their carcinogenic names!" shouted Obama over chants of git-r-done and pass-it-now, "We have ridiculed long enough. We have poked fun and we have giggled. Now it's time to act! Now is the time, for the sake of Natoma Canfield and the countless other victims of misguided parents who chose for them unfortunate names, to finally vote on and pass comprehensive name reform legislation!"

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Fisher's Ford: Fantastic Fun!

Ryan Dugger is an expert photographer. By tilting the camera just so, he added the illusion of gradient to this shot making this play wave look very slightly less non-threatening than it really is.

Ryan dropping into the effluent!

Here's me in the kiddie wave!

Ryan is better at paddling than I am at taking pictures. He'd just done a huge loop but I missed it and just got this picture of him flushing out instead. Really!

This is the set-up position for the Renfro death roll. Don't believe the hype about getting your rolling blade above the water. It's not necessary at all.

This is the finishing position for the Renfro death roll. Proper rolling technique is for ballerinas. All you need to do is clamp your eyes shut, lean back to sink the stern, and muscle your ass up!

Ryan and I would like to thank all the fine citizens of Northwest Arkansas for showering and flushing their toilets so we could spend the first warm day of the year having fun in our playboats!

The Drybag

So yesterday, in an event we had planned for some time but which I had never expected to occur, we celebrated Mrs. DMG's birthday by picking up trash from the side of the road between Byrd's Campground and Redding as part of Turner Bend's Annual Mulberry River Clean-up Day. You see, the day before was spent at Red Lobster and the Razorback Theater watching The Book of Eli in what was our first Donaldless "dinner and a movie" in nearly five years, so I had earned an afternoon in the woods, as far as I'm concerned. That so, I still gave the good wife plenty of opportunities to bail out of our picking up trash plans. As it happened yesterday morning, it was she rousting me out of bed listing all the things we needed to gather to get ready. Within an hour, wife, kid, and more outdoor accoutrements than we would ever need were loaded into the USV, which for me is a '91 Accord (because the Ultimate Shuttle Vehicle is always the one which you already own), and we were on our way to the river.

Actual river cleanup is best left to open boaters. Kayakers--and by kayakers I mean all kayakers: kayakers who really do go kayaking and fraudulent kayakers like me who don't go kayaking but blog about kayaking as if they do--usually just walk along the roads to the put-ins and take-outs picking up trash. That's what the three of us did, at least for an hour or so. Of course, managing the Donald Situation along a busy highway hindered our trash gathering, but we still filled three bags between us, enough that we didn't feel the least bit guilty drinking the free beer and soda or eating the free barbecue back at Turner Bend. I enjoyed visiting with my Fort Smith friends, most of whom I hadn't seen since Fall.

For me, the Lunch at Turner Bend is really the highlight of the Mulberry River Clean-up Day. I was content and quite prepared to leave without staying for the door prize drawing. The spread of prizes on the pickup's tailgate looked pretty much like last year's: There was the toy raft with paddle which would be the grand prize--Donald will have a real-deal Jackson kayak before he has one of those bath toys! Then there were the frisbees and Arkansas Stream Team insulated coffee mugs and the Jagermeister keychains. There was nothing on the tailgate which would not make my life worse, if only because of the guilt that throwing a gift in the trash would bring. But I was not by myself, yesterday. I was with Mrs. DMG who thinks door prizes are worthwile and provide a meaningful incentive to participate in the event in the first place, and also to stay longer than necessary after the event is over. She put her name on an index card, folded it once, and dropped it in the box with all the others, and insisted that I do the same. I struggled for an instant with the question of whether the guilt of throwing away a Jagermeister keychain would be more or less painful than whatever marital strife I would bring upon myself by not doing the polite thing and simply entering the drawing. In the end, I filled out my card and dropped it in the box.

The drawing was endless. I was surprised when they gave the grand prize away first, until I saw why. They pulled the inflatable raft out of the box and used the box as a trash bin for the discarded index cards. Mrs. DMG won an extra-large Coors Light T-shirt with a neckhole so large that her thin shoulders would not hold it. It fit like a hockey jersey, but she was happy to win something. I waited and waited for what seemed like hours as the thousands of prizes were distributed, until finally--it felt like midnight but was probably closer to 3:30 in the afternoon--the tailgate was empty. Just then, the guy with the bullhorn goes to the cab of the truck and pulls out one more item: "And now for the grand prize donated from the Pack Rat in Fayetteville." And he walks back to the tailgate holding up, to the surprised oos! and ahs! of those who had not yet won something, a Watershed Ocoee Drybag!

An explanation is probably in order for my non-kayaker readers. Some kayaking gear is better than others, you see, and everybody knows the difference. Take drysuits: Everybody knows that Kokatat makes the best drysuits on the planet. They are made from GoreTex and they cost a thousand dollars. The advice to new kayakers considering a drysuit purchase is always "By once, cry once!" because a Kokatat drysuit will last forever. A drysuit costing half or even two-thirds as much may only live a few seasons. The thing with Kakatat is that everyone understands that they are a great value; the only question is whether a kayaker has the cash or the available credit to buy one. When we see someone wearing a Kakatot drysuit, we do not see a snob or an ostentatious person; we see a smart person who had the patience and determination to wait until he had saved the money to make the most intellegent purchase. This is not so with Watershed drybags. While Watershed drybags are universally understood to by the dryest drybags, they are not generally thought of as a great value at $80, about six times as much as a roll-top drybag which is more convenient and nearly as dry. When we see someone with a Watershed drybag, unless she's a videographer or scientist carrying equipment which absolutely must not get wet, we see a snob. We see an ostentatious person who has $80 to keep her socks and underwear dry. The only way I could ever show my face on a river carrying a Watershed Ocoee Drybag is if I had won it as a door prize at Turner Bend's Annual Mulberry River Clean-up Day, and I wanted that bag!

The man in the Bob Marley T-shirt reached his hand into the box and withdrew a single index card. He raised the megaphone to his lips and anounced a name: "Marcel [pause to consider pronunciation] Proust?" "Marcel Proust!" he said again, this time with the confidence that came with not having been corrected the first time. "Does anyone know Marcel Proust?" Silence. "Last call for Marcel Proust!" And after a short delay, I watched my $80 Watershed Ocoee Drybag flutter slowly downward into an empty raft box.

Then we went home.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I'm in the Last Mile of a Marathon

My glucose levels are at zero and the lactic acid burns my legs like wildfire, but the end is in sight. An hour from now, and I'll be lying Within a Budding Grove!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Perhaps I Was Too Harsh

O 'merica!
Our slow progressing land!
Gays and lesbians: Their marriages are banned!
Our taxes low; our debt is high,
Our health care's far from free!
No trains to ride; instead we drive,
Enormous SUVs!
God keep our land ignorant and free!
O 'merica, we stand on guard for thee.
O 'merica, we stand on guard for thee.

It's Canada Law:

If you're old enough to score the winning goal in the Olympic gold medal hockey game, you're old enough to drink. Congrats, ladies!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Suffer from Extremely Mild Depression

Bipolar disorder, actually. Well, not really, but I am happier some times than at others. In truth, though, my nearly chronic state of happiness is nothing but an endless hypomanic episode masquerading as mere happiness. Do people who are merely happy fill their speedos with Equate Brand Ultra Strength Muscle Rub and watch women's hockey on TV? Some times, out of the blue, I'll tell my wife, "Take your benedryl, we're going to Red Lobster!" because she really loves lobster. What but hypomania can explain that, huh? And talk about impulsiveness and delusions of athleticism--I have $500 worth of impulsiveness and delusions of athleticism strapped to the railing outside my door! Would a 39-year-old non-athlete, who has never been an athlete, and who could be diagnosed as normal control by any competent psychiatrist, ever believe that he could learn to throw phonics monkeys in a green Pyranha playboat with only a few days a year of practice? I genuinely believed that I could! And then there's my depressive episodes which are absolutely horrible. I had one yesterday while I was at work. All I could think about was selling all my kayaks. That and I was feeling tremendous guilt over the fact that I've tried, not outwardly to others but within my own mind, to use my mental non-illnesses (My rational, objectively-thinking mind knows my mental illnesses are not really illnesses at all. While it's true that I feel like I'm drowning in debt, the fact is that I've never been a day late on a single payment in my entire life. It's hard, then, for me to say that the manic spending sprees related to my bipolar disorder have ruined me financially. While it sometimes seems as if my marriage is hanging by a thread, the fact is my wife has been pissed at me for a grand total of perhaps three weeks out of the seven years we've been married, which is less than one percent of the time. It's hard, then, to say that my horrible bouts of depression have destroyed my relationships with the people I love the most.) as excuses for my failure to achieve what conventional American wisdom says is a flourishing life. But that guilt went away, like it always does, as soon as I clocked out and walked through the door towards the parking lot. One smell of the crisp, outside air and thoughts of selling kayaks were replaced with thoughts of paddling them. At once, my depression was replaced with the anxiety that comes from not knowing how long my new state of relative happiness would last. That, and I was wondering if Wister was running.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Survive on the Breath you are Finished With

Lately, I'm like a tanking economy seeking its bottom. Just when I think I'm there, some dead-cat-bounce, like my recent inspired blog posts, will come along and lift me up a bit, delaying my inevitable unraveling and thus delaying my eventual recovery, which can't come soon enough. To combat this, I've decided to speed my undoing by destroying the one thing in my life that's clicking right now: this blog! The question is how to do it. I've tried not posting anything before and it hasn't worked. People still come around to check for new material. No! It will take stronger action than that. Hmm? What if I started posting stuff that I knew really sucked? Yes! But what? What one item could I post that would be so vile and so grotesque that even the closest friend and most loyal reader could never allow herself to come back. What one snipped of bile would leave such an awful stench around here that I could not even stand it myself?

Hmm?

Um, I guess I could post a video of Brad Paisley and John Mayer singing "Come Back to Bed." That might work. I mean, if there's a country music singer on the planet who could pull off the line, "I survive on the breath you are finished with," It's Brad Paisley, right? So long, blog friends!

My two favorite guitarists in the world: Brad Paisley inspires me to play my guitar; John Mayer lets me know that I'm wasting my fucking time by doing so.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Panama Banal

No post here, just a catchy title. I mean, I did spend most of my formative years in the Canal Zone but I'm sure no one wants to hear about that. It wasn't an exciting place for a three-year-old to be, living on the edge of the jungle. Hell, I spent damn near the whole time hanging out in the gunamalaca tree in the back yard with Sammy the Sloth talking labor relations. How exciting is that? Sammy was union rep for Treehangers Local #89 in Aguadulce but whatever fame that brought him was eclipsed completely by the fact that he played pee-wee softball with Lech Walesa as a child. That's the kind of fame you never get away from! It was in that tree that I had the first inkling that I would spend my entire working life toiling in dimly-lit factories. It wasn't so much the idea of being able to collectively bargain for better working conditions that appealed to me--I knew that wouldn't last. I didn't see the end coming in the form of right-to-work laws, but I knew it coming. (I wasn't some two-year-old fool, you know!)--rather, it was the idea of dim lighting. The sun was bright in Panama except when I was jammed in the crook of that gunamalaca tree. Allowing my pupils to relax just a bit eased the migraines of toddlerhood. Thankfully, the sun did go down every night so I could sleep in peace. Under my mosquito net. In the morning, I would flick the scorpions off the net with my index finger and then get on with my day. Pretty much like I do now, four decades later.

Sammy the Sloth

Monday, February 22, 2010

Leisure Time Economics

We get so little time off together that I hate to spend it doing anything other than watching hockey. You can imagine my horror when Mrs. DMG snuggles up to me on the couch holding two Knondike ice cream bars and a Renee Zellweger movie. Surely a meteor would crash through the roof and strike both of us dead only seconds after Ryan Miller robs Jerome Iginla's tying goal attempt with a minute left in the USA-Canada game that I wasn't watching because I was suffering through some screwball comedy about a pudding factory in Bumfuck, Minnesota. As it was, though, the movie was funny and completely enjoyable. As far as I'm concerned, any two hours of light-hearted entertainment with my best buddy is time very well spent. Learning the line, "...like thin shit through a tall Swede," is a huge bonus!

Highly recommended!

My Greatest Disappointment

I'm not an especially smart guy, but I think with such speed and such constancy, and I have a sufficiently keen awareness of my own thoughts, that whenever a single pellet from my shotgun blast of cranial crosstalk actually hits on something insightful (not because I aimed well but because I threw out enough boxes of shells), I'm usually able to collect my game. Most of the time, I just enjoy it myself, barbecued on a stick. Occasionally I'll share it, and about half of those times, the person or people I'm sharing it with recognize the sharpness of it and tell me so, which makes me very happy. My greatest disappointment, though, comes that one time a year when a pellet takes a miraculous ricochet into some undiscovered dimension of understanding and I hit on something really, earthshakingly smart. If I had any brains at all, I would simply enjoy this new, hard-won knowledge myself, barbecued on a stick. But I don't have any brains at all. Instead, I keep thinking that, if I shout my grand idea to the world loudly enough, someone will acknowledge the brilliance of it. I keep thinking someone will acknowledge the brilliance of me! As it always happens, though, my one brilliant thought of the year, the one output that made my 365 days of constant, deafening brain noise all worthwhile, is completely lost on the rest of the world. Once, just once, I wish I'd be walking through the mall and hear a voice behind me saying, "Dude, your fucking jersey rocks!"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fans Agree: Curling Women Hot!

Vancouver--According to the latest straw poll, curling fans are split on which Team USA women's curler looks hottest while concentrating. Overall, 43% of male respondents chose Allison Pottinger and 41% chose team skip Debbie McCormick, well within the poll's 4% margin of error. The remaining 16% chose either Nicole Joraanstad or Natalie Nicholson. Pottinger was the clear leader among men who described themselves as "cuteness-oriented" while McCormick won among "sexiness-oriented" respondents. Both Pottinger and McCormick were rated as "extremely hot" by respondents at least 30 years old. Joraanstad was rated "extremely hot" by younger fans while Nicholson was considered "hot" by all age groups. When asked to write in the specific qualities which made curling women so hot, older respondents made references to womanliness and intense facial expressions while concentrating. The under-30 group listed flexibility and mean camel toe as common indicators of hotness. In focus group testing related to this poll, it was universally agreed that women curlers are the hottest female atheletes in the Olympics, including ice dancers and hockey players. According to the focus group, even Chinese curlers are hot as hell.

The Problem Resume

DAVE MOWS GRASS

CAREER OBJECTIVE:
Life-long tradesman seeking position as lifestyle editor for swanky, new-age cultural journal.

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS:
Trained machinist and experienced satirist capable of working safely and lyrically in any production environment. Literate in blueprint reading, precision measuring, and statistical prose control. Known for stylistically cogent training in both manual and numerical-control machine operation. Unique ability to employ humor at inappropriate times.

EXPERIENCE:
LEAD FABRICATOR - ACME ARCHITECTURAL EXTRUSIONS
Fabricated storm-proof windows and allegorical structures for South Florida condo market. Trained new machine operators and assisted with difficult metaphors. Led team in redesign of slider door assembly line doubling productivity while reducing wordiness by half. Life of party at company fishing tournaments.

TOOLMAKER - CARBIDE SYSTEMS
Manufactured poignant press tooling with clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Selected appropriate cutting tools for irony, steel, and non-ferrous compositions. Provided liberal perspective on current events as break room clown.

EDUCATION:
NORTHWEST TECHNICAL INSTITUTE
Post-graduate Fellow in Machine Tool Technology
Thesis: Electrical Discharge Machining for Burr-free Removal of Misplaced Modifiers in Copper-based Alloys

CHEYENNE AERO TECH
Certified Airframe and Punctuation Mechanic

Class A CDL with Hazmat and Diction Endorsements

GIVE ME A CALL!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What I Failed to Learn at the Jones Center Pool

Kayaking protocol is fairly strict on the idea that one paddler should not tell another paddler whether he should run or not run a particular rapid. We scout for hazards together; we help our friends assess their own skills in light of the risks presented by those hazards; we set safety for each other and assist to the extent we can with a rescue when things go wrong; we do not tell another paddler whether he should run or not run a particular rapid. We are ultimately responsible for our own safety. We may run rapids we have no business running but we do so because we want to learn and grow as paddlers. I went in to the pool at the Jones Center today because I wanted to learn and grow as a paddler. I knew the risks.

What I Learned at the Jones Center Pool

I've Watch Shitloads of Internet Videos

and found exactly one which was worth the screenspace it was printed on:

A Stroke of Insight

Give it a look!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dave Mows Grass on Stress Management

Stress: In the curtain wall of human suffering, it is the mullion. It is the structure that bears the dead load weight of life. Without it, you shatter and fall to the ground. Many doubt this fact, despite a lifetime of experience confirming it. They attack some particular stressor thinking wrongly that that stressor will disappear and be replaced with nothing. This is utter folly, unless, of course, you enjoy being bushwhacked by unplanned stressors you didn't choose. A new stressor will definitely emerge, though, and you won't like it any more or any less than your last one. Stress is the constant. To me, the only thing worse than stress (which you always have) is stress coupled with chaos. I want stress coupled with stability. This is why I like to pick one stressor and take the time to experience it completely. For several years now, my stressor of choice has been debt. Debt stress isn't fun--no stress is fun--but it's as bearable as any other form of stress. Other than swinging between constipation so severe it has to be cleared digitally and diarrhea that makes amoebic dysentery feel like a bad taco, it really doesn't cause me any physiological symptoms to speak of. If there's any reason at all to trade my debt stress for some other kind of stress, it is only boredom. I admit my debt stress learning curve has flattened out to such a degree that, alas, it may be time to try something new. I'm still deciding on a replacement, but I definitely want to try something new rather than reliving a stress I've already experienced. The key to a flourishing life is to keep suffering in new and different ways. Job dissatisfaction stress is emerging as the most obvious candidate. In fact, I believe paying down my debt just partially would clear the way for job dissatisfaction stress to set in without me having to take any other action. The underlying dissatisfaction already exists! I almost chose job dissatisfaction stress about a decade ago but at the time, I was experiencing a crushing loneliness that smothered whatever stress my crappy job was causing. I promised myself I'd revisit that opportunity if I ever found someone to fill that void in my heart. Now that I have a lovely and cynical wife who fills that void, and the coolest kid in the world to boot, and with $10,000 of debt already removed thanks to a driver from the South Pacific who had never seen snow in his life yet still chose to climb into his death wagon and hurl himself down the wrong side of an ice-caked HWY 71, there has never been a better time to strike! I am going to choose my next stressor and mismanage whatever aspect of my life I need to in order to bring that stressor about. I will do it at a time and place of my choosing, under my own terms. In fact, I will make the decision right here: I choose job dissatisfaction! I will find a secure, easy, crashingly dull job, similar to the one I already have, and ride it till the last speck of stimulation disappears into a crack between the dreary tiles of its cold and lusterless floor. That is my plan; it is a good plan, and I will start today!

This is my curtain wall!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Think About Suicide All the Time

Actually, not really. I'm pretty happy most of the time. I do imagine myself being hit by a truck sometimes... after jumping off an overpass. But it seems pretty unlikely that I would ever do such a thing; I'm a talker more than a doer and besides, jumping from an overpass with no means of restraint takes real courage, a kind of courage I doubt I could ever muster. Truth be told, most of my suicide attempts are just cries for help. Take today when I smeared Equate brand Ultra Strength Muscle Rub over my entire body. I was certain saturating every square inch of my skin with this powerful ointment would deliver the lethal dose I so desperately needed but just to be sure, I also smeared an extra-thick coating onto my pubic hair and put my Speedo on over it. That way my hemlock would continue to be absorbed through the blood-rich skin of my groin long after a camphor-induced coma rendered my slimy hands useless. As it happened today, no coma occurred. Instead, I just sat there on the couch with a hard-on watching the Canadian women's hockey team demolish the shellshocked but still stunningly beautiful Swiss team.

No one hears my cries!