Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Thrown out, originally uploaded by Theorris.

Don't fall down in the street, please.

If you do, make sure you crawl back to the gutter.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The sign says it all!

The sign says it all!, originally uploaded by catinlap.

Indeed it does.

"Haze" has to be the worst code word for smog I've ever heard. "Inversion" is just about as bad, but as it doesn't sound pleasant like "haze" and therefore I will deride the usage of "haze" more than "inversion." I give pause to think of the chemical stew that abides in the air at this point. This stew comes from one major source now: the beloved automobile.

Thanks to Catinlap for the excellent photo.

Please move now or just stop driving so damn much.

(I'm doing penance for renting that fucking truck.)

Aspens in winter #4

Aspens in winter #4, originally uploaded by Theorris.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

TheOrris and his truck.

TheOrris and his truck., originally uploaded by catinlap.

Told you.

Merry Xmas! I couldn't aks for more!

"He sees you when your sleeping! He knows when you are on the can!"

(Bonus candy to anyone who gets my obscure reference.)

Cliche Christmas card photo

Cliche Christmas card photo, originally uploaded by Theorris.

Happy ding dang to you all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Promises made does not mean that promises will be kept! or Patience pays off!

I am at a car rental place where, as in classic Seinfeld mode they apparently know how to take a reservation, but they don't know how to keep it. They have to fetch me a car from hither and yon. They say 15 minutes. I'm betting 30.

I rent a car most Christmases since I have no car and visiting family and friends on non-existent holiday transport is impossible. I suppose I should write more about my experiment in refusing to own a car in a car-based culture (and I have occasionally, I suppose) but it seems insufferable to keep doing it. Suffice it to say, I like my choice generally (although it makes dating awkward). Whenever I fill out one of those carbon footprint calculators, my score comes up teensy.

But back to why I am sitting her writing: the kind car rental agents offered me a truck for triple the rate of the car. How nice of them! They are also now pressing the collision damage insurance, which is a load of bollocks in that my credit card covers it all (trust me I've checked several times) with no deductable and no shenanigans.

They are also quite good about pressuring clients to upgrade because of the nasty weather. Oh well: this is how these guys make money, I suppose. Does everything having to do with cars, however, have to be extra sleazy?

A rather dizzying older woman comes in seeking a car. She has no reservation but "needs a car." They are booked up solid. No cars are available. They are closed on Sundays, as well. After she leaves, the gang of agents guffaw at her idiocy.

Now they are offering me hot chocolate and holiday cookies. I refuse, politely, and continue to type. I sense this is because the officemates have started some banter about clueless customers that I assume they engage in when no customers are present. This, of course, is standard office practice, but they momentarily forgot I was present.

Now they are discussing video games. Apparently 2 like the Wii and 2 hate it: "The point of video games is that you don't have to move around."

The guy who offered me hot chocolate and holiday cookies seems to be the boss and he tells one of the men that they need to work on close outs or something like that.

It has grown quiet in the office save for the nervous whistle of one of the agents and the crack of sunflower seeds. I amused suddenly about how much this is like the office. There seems to be a lot of pointless staring at computers and flirtatious telephone conversations with women on the other end of the line.

More customers come in.

It has been 15 minutes.

"You are brave coming up from Arizona to drive in this weather," the representative jokes.

"I know!" The woman has huge rings on wrinkled fingers. She is with a guy who must be her son. He says things like "she needs a small car."

Apparently there have been many accidents this morning and a lot of insurance reservations. There really is not very much snow on the roads. It must have just been bad this morning. The usual topic of discussion in these circumstances is that people forget how to drive in snow. No doubt that is the case, but I'm not going to belabor it here.

Apparently they have lost the keys to a car that was to go out to the women with rings. They are willing to offer her an upgrade to a truck. Funny. For me it was triple the rate. The woman refuses. She doesn't want a large truck. Ah her initial rate is much higher. They ask for patience from the customer. The customer seems most accommodating, but that is because they have offered to bring the car to her.

21 minute ago I sat in this chair. I completed the contract 23 minutes ago.

"Everything is slower because of the weather!" the boss says to someone on the phone. That is a very adept assessment.

It is snowing lightly. My leg is falling asleep.

The representative is dancing around the insurance issue. The woman with the rings is surprisingly adept at seeing through his shenanigans: "But you already insure these cars."

"Yes," he admits "but what about rock dings!" It is an exclamation rather than a question.

My guy is getting nervous, I think, he looks out the blinds.

28 minutes.

This rep is a hard sell. He is trying to scare the woman now about how complicated things are making claims out of state. Now he is boldly lying that they don't push the collision damage. The guy the ring woman is with is in cahoots with the rental car guy. She folds. Score another 75 buckaroos to the company. I'm sure they have some sort of competition going on selling the insurance. No one would work so hard to sell it otherwise.

My bet was 30. It is now 35 minutes.

Wait a minute: something's afoot!

5:28 pm

Hah. So the truck that was going to cost me 3 times as much as I was going to pay for the car was given to me. They called it a free upgrade. Patience pays off: you see. Well that and typing away in their waiting room. Apparently the 35 minute wait was even too much for them because suddenly there was a "glitch" with the car.

So now I am tooling around in a Ford F150 with four-wheel drive. So much for my carbon footprint being tiny.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Life of Rome's First Emperor

In my various adventures since I last rapped at you, I picked up Anthony Everitt's new biography Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor to fill the time while moving about the country with my tray table in its prostrate and unlocked position. The book is an interesting exploration of Augustus' life and Everitt admits quite frequently that we know little of the man based upon contemporaneous record simply because Augustus was an example of the quintessential autocratic politician: image control was everything and political secrets could make or break an administration. For example, at one point very late in his life Augustus went on a super-secret mission to visit his ne'er-do-well nephew Agrippa Posthumous (whom the princeps had adopted as his own son and would have succeeded him if he would have behaved better). When a senator who accompanied him on the tripped blabbed the top secret news to his wife, the man mysteriously died and his wife wailed at his funeral that she was the cause of his death. The wife, apparently, had told the news to others and it eventually got back to Augustus's politically adept wife Livia. Ultimately Augustus seemed very upset with the senator and removed him from his circle of close friends. As Everitt admits, the senator could have committed suicide (quite a common occurrence in Roman politics) or he could have died (which seems far-fetched to me) of stress at being on the outs with the head dude in charge.

Robert Graves (see I, Claudius) used such stories to portray Livia as power-hungry and manipulative. Everitt, however, dismisses such a portrayal of Livia and uses it more to show that Augustus simply wanted to see for himself the status of his would-be son and determine if he could be rehabilitated. To Everrit, Augustus was engaging in the very thing that got him on the throne in the first place: political sleight of hand and manipulation. Given that Posthumous was killed right after the Emperor's death one could either determine (ala Graves) that Livia and Tiberius had the kid killed simply to clear any possibility of his ascension to imperium. Everitt, however, takes the position that as always, Augustus was scheming himself and knew that his unfortunate progeny was unfit to rule and thus assured Tiberius ascension to the purple.

Everitt does engage in some pretty knowledgeable explication of Roman life and the political scene at the dawn of the millennium, but he seems to make use of speculative narrative to explain away the actions of people whom we have very little historical knowledge. Granted that his conclusions make sense given Augustus' proclivities to control political situations, but like Greenblatt's Will in the World, it often stretches the blend of historical fact and authorial interpretation to the point that the historian's bias, if not sifted out by the careful reader, is presented as historical fact. I must respect Everitt, however, in that unlike Greenblatt he readily admits (quite often) that he is engaging in speculation. Greenblatt does indeed do that too, but oftentimes his own thesis overwhelms the sparse factual evidence.

In all, however, I think I would prefer to read a biography like Will in the World or Augustus rather than some dry events-only text.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Action on the mountain!

Action on the mountain!, originally uploaded by Theorris.

There you go.

I'm outa here. Enjoy blogging silence.

Go bid the cannons shoot!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I'll up here. You are down there.

crisp., originally uploaded by catinlap.

And I'll get to Scotland before ye.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wilhelm Action Tree!

Wilhelm Action Tree!, originally uploaded by Theorris.

This year for the Wilhelm Annual Xtreme Xmas Xxtravaganza X-Tree we decided to put the many many many action figures we all have collected to good decorative use. Look closely and you will spy Wilhelm Wookie too. He's up at the top by Jesus and the Rancor. You can make out many of Jesus's pals in the tree throughout including the boxing rabbi, Amish, and Alien.

And yeah, its a live tree. My carbon foot print is small as it is so I don't need your guff. Actually I do feel badly about it, but it was a farmed tree, grown for this purpose. It had its time to absorb our excess carbon. My housemates, however, have never had a live tree before last year and I felt badly for them, so agreed to get a real cut tree. It is nice to be a little primeval, however, and bring the pagan green inside. Our tree, however, is thoroughly religious, in that Jesus, a rabbi, the Amish, Santa, and a skeleton, represent their religions making this a DIVERSETREE.

You know it is the last day of classes when...

  1. You nearly walk out the door with your shirt on inside-out
  2. You then actually check to make sure you are wearing pants.
  3. You wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat having dreamed that you forgot to go to a class for the entire semester and now it is the last day.
  4. You feel that email is a tool of the devil put on earth to enslave us and destroy our will to live.
  5. You realize that your supply of clothes is surprisingly resilient despite lack-of-laundry doing.
  6. You only think in terms of numbered lists.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Speaking of holiday cheer...

The neighbor kitty-corner to the Wilhelm (my un-humble abode) have a pair of those decorative lit-up deer. You know the sort: stick frames formed into the shape of deer and bestrewn with Christmas lights. Well these deer are apparently the object of holiday culture jamming on the part of the neighborhood teens. Twice now in so many days I've witnessed groups of teens--two to rearrange the unsuspecting festive decorations and one to man the getaway car--attempting to rearrange the would-be deer into compromising sexual positions. Each time they have failed, however, due to the vigilance of my geriatric neighbor. I would take a picture of the kids' failure, but I fear my cantankerous neighbor would think I was in on the gag. I also don't really want him shouting at me to stay off his lawn.