Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Not

It's the 31st of October, which is Halloween in the real world.  Oh boy...tell me it ain't so.

Just to be up-front, I pretty much hate this non-holiday anymore.  It was fun when I was a kid I guess but like everything else, it's degenerated into another opportunity to blow out your credit line on expensive costumes and decorations instead of just carving up a pumpkin and soaping the neighbors windows.  Trick-or-treating is almost an industry in itself; structured with designated hours and approved locations.  The annual hike around town with a costume and a sack is now escorted, patrolled and by curfew, will end at 8pm or else for most folks thank you very much.  For the miscreants who decide to stay out dodging the police, the tracks are more temptation than they can usually resist.  If I wind up working (which I will this year), the whole night will likely be punctuated with eggs, rocks, paintballs, junk on the tracks and the occasional chicken-player trying to 'scare' the train crew.  The old mannequin-sprawled-on-the rails trick might be a big yuk to the locals but I never know till it's too late if that might be a real body I just ran over.  Yeah kids, that's a real thrill.
Call me jaded but to me it also sort of kicks off the mad-consumption, retail-driven hell that marks the last couple months of the year.  We don't even get a break from the shrill, ridiculous political screaming of the election cycle before the nauseating 'Holiday' ads kick in and TV becomes even more unbearable than usual. 

A bonus at this time of year is the networks overwhelming desire to show every horror movie ever made for the whole month of October. I clicked on in the hotel the other day as I was packing for home and just as the screen popped in, I was treated to a close-up, full view of a semi-dressed and busty young lass (they're all semi-dressed and busty in horror movies) being split right down the middle by an axe-wielding zombie...complete with a follow up shot of steamy innards plopping on the ground. Nice. That made my whole day guys, thanks. I know you are required by tradition and poor taste to show all the straight-to-video splatter failures that have ever been produced in a four week span but come's 2 in the afternoon and you've probably run this sleaze-bag 50 times since Thursday...give it a rest. On top of that, no matter how many times it airs it still sucks and is not likely to improve with age. In case you can't tell, this stuff makes me a little cranky.

Every time around it gets harder to take.  I don't watch the tube very often anyway but sometimes when I'm stuck in the hotel for hours, I channel surf out of boredom.  I might be able to take a 'CSI' or 'Modern Marvels' rerun for the 80th time if 6 minutes of high-volume commercials weren't spaced by 3 minutes of show.  I wish I could trap a brace of ad execs. in a room for 24 hours and blast them with their own insanity so they'd know how the rest of us feel.  On second thought, they'd probably have a ball and spend the whole time congratulating each other.  Thanksgiving and Christmas on cable is worse than the split girl sometimes.
I'm sure I'll return to this as the season rolls on but for now...I'm holiday-ed up to my eyeballs and hoping it pours tonight to keep the tricks to a minimum.  It might be a long trip.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Flying these days.  Not literally but it feels like the earth is spinning under the landing gear most of my waking hours.  I'm only working two 'round trips a week so I actually have a couple days off in between but with everything else, I can't catch my breath.

Old Drafty has been on the market for a little over a week and we've had a couple of showings but mostly it's cleaning rampages and trying to come to grips with the fact that we might actually pull this off.  I've been rolling with it as well as I can.  This is all new to us again.

More when I can...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

House For Sale

I've been falling down on the job lately.  Not literally of course because to fall down and get injured on my real job is to come into the realm of the dreaded Medical Department and "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here".  No, nothing physical like that.  Just slacking off on blogging while all hell breaks loose around Old Drafty.  It's never too peaceful hereabouts for any stretch longer than ten minutes anyway but this is real shock and awe.  Suddenly, we put the house up for sale.  Suddenly, we're thinking of moving.  Suddenly, everything looks a whole lot different.

Things have been more than a tad hectic since we decided to put the big homestead on the market.  Without going into all the details, let's just say this little adventure came out of the blue and we're still struggling to believe it might actually come to pass.  Just when you think nothing else can happen...

We've lived in this monster house for twenty years or so and raised our kids here.  It's the only home they've ever known but it's just getting to be too much for the old guy.  The recent estimate I got for repairs on the roof (again) kind of took the wind out of my sails for the last time.  It was a pretty substantial chunk of cash and even if I had it in my pocket, (which I don't), there's still everything else below the eves yet to do.  It also dawned on me that I've got about 15 years to go until I'll be either retired or real close to it and frankly, I don't want to do drywall and plumbing until then...much less for untold years after I leave the right-side seat for good.  It's time for someone else to have a go at the old chicken farm.  My dearest wish is to retire and do things I WANT to do; not things I HAVE to do.  Unless Bob Vila drops in with his checkbook and a boatload of contractors, there's never going to be an end to the fixing-up projects for me.  With my lack of schedule and bizarre working life, I could quite possibly tinker on this place until I die and still not have it all done.  Reality sometimes sucks but there it is.

The illusion of all twenty-somethings that life just goes on and on over the horizon has sort of faded for me as most illusions will.  These days I'm thinking more about the end of things and watching the clock.  There comes a point where you have to quit kidding yourself and face the fact that you will most certainly not live forever.  I think it's time to look down the road with different eyes.

The kids will probably be out and gone sooner than later and when they pack out to homes of their own,  it'll be just Chris and I rattling around in this three-story-endless-renovation project.  We've poured a lot into the place over the years but the long and short of it is that we're getting older and time is starting to look more and more like a finite commodity.  There's a limit to how much I'll ever do unless my sulfur-water well suddenly becomes the fountain of youth or an armored truck pulls up and just happens to unload pallets of money on the porch.  Do I really want to be hanging sheetrock and pulling wire when I'm about 90?  Not if there's any way out of it I don't.

I realized a while back that I've been working since I was about twelve in one form or another which translates into almost forty years of nearly continuous employment so far.  Not that I'm complaining but its been a pretty long haul.  I've still got half a career with the railroad ahead of me so I'm not ready for the rocker quite yet but at least the end is in sight.  When I do finally get to the end of it, I might just want to sit on the porch for a minute, sip a beer and think things over instead of installing a bathroom.  I might consider mowing the grass eventually...or I might toss a neighbor kid 20 bucks to do it while I have another beer and supervise.  Who knows?  There may be grandkids to wreak havoc with by then.  There's always the original plan Chris and I have for our retirement...two full-dressed Harleys, an offshore bank account for my pension checks, summer clothes in the tour-packs and no forwarding address.  One way or another, my days of fixing it up before it falls down will be over.

Yep, the house is for sale and I hope the payoff is more than just an end to the mortgage.  I hope it's the life we've worked so hard for all these years.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Video Of The Day

I found this link a while ago while surfing some video sites...

Saturn V Launch -

 I remember the Saturn V moon rockets in grainy black and white on console TVs.  Walter Cronkite told the story and counted down the minutes until the big F-1 engines lit, the pad breathed fire and the monster lifted off.  They say the roar of the launch travelled around the world but I heard it through over-driven mics in Florida and cheesy RCA speakers in New York.  I wish I could have been there.

Something about daring to light 7.5 million pounds of thrust under 6.5 million pounds of rocket, fuel and men  leaves me in wonder to this day.  It was an awesome thing to watch back then and to see it now in super-slow-motion as well as in color is pretty amazing.

Here's to the Saturn and the people who flew her...I never knew you, but I remember you.  Fly high and fast for the next generation.  Run the clock down to zero and light the candle again.  We're counting on you.