Bring your own fork

September 11, 2017 - Monday

 9/11 + 16

Never forget.

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September 11, 2014 - Thursday

 9/11 + 13

Never forget.

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September 11, 2013 - Wednesday

 9/11 + 12

Never forget.

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January 30, 2009 - Friday


Well, that didn’t last long. I quit for all of 2 months and one week. And now? Now I’m missing having a soapbox. So I built a new one.

The Lunchroom is now officially permanently closed, but I’m back online with a new blog at The Occasional Cacographer. Come on over if you like.

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November 23, 2008 - Sunday

 One More For The Road…

Well, all right, I’ll put up one more entry before I slink out the back door. I just wanted to say “thank you” to everyone who’s stuck by me as a reader over the years, and I especially wanted to say thanks for the kind comments you guys left after the last entry. I was really touched by them. Thank you all, very much.

As for what’s to become of the world… After thinking about it for a couple of days, I don’t know if I’m going to take it all down after all or not. I’m still leaning that way, but procrastination is a powerful tool and I want to archive it all offline first as html and I’m having issues configuring the software to work with my server and, well, procrastination. So, yeah.

In the meantime, how about one last anecdote so I can go out with some twisted kind of style?

I woke up this morning in the oddest way ever. I was dreaming — and you know how dreams are. In the dream, I had walked up to some friends who were standing on an apartment balcony and I started talking to them, and I was sort of hanging off the outside of the balcony as I talked. Hanging there like that reminded me of a joke, so I started telling it to them. In the dream, this joke was so funny that I was laughing as I told it, so in my sleep I started smiling and laughing. And that’s how I woke myself up: smiling and chuckling.

Now, in my dream I felt that this joke was a little edgy for a straight-laced crowd, so you wouldn’t tell it to just anyone, but it was totally the kind of joke you’d tell your “cool” friends. And when I woke up the joke still seemed socially acceptable because the dream attitude was bleeding over into the waking world. You know how dreams are.

Well. A few minutes later I told Beth about waking myself up and started telling her the joke, and it wasn’t until I started actually speaking the words that I realized how horrifically inappropriate it was for ANY setting. I almost even offended myself, a little. It was a HORRIBLE joke, hugely offensive, and it was shocking to me how it had seemed perfectly fine until I actually started telling it.

Don’t worry, of course I’m going to tell it here. Because, what, you thought maybe I wouldn’t? Please.

So this priest is up on the pulpit, giving his Sunday sermon to a crowded church, when an aborted fetus crawls up the side of the lectern. It climbs up and over the edge and surprises him face to face. The priest flies into a rage and punches the fetus in the face as hard as he can, knocking it off the lectern. It flies through the air and off the altar and lands in the church aisle. He chases after it and kicks it down the aisle toward the back of the church, kicking it repeatedly with huge, wild field goal style kicks, cursing it as he goes and yelling “Damn you to hell! Damn you to Satan! Go back to hell, evil spawn!” Stuff like that. And as he winds up to give the aborted fetus one last giant kick that will send it flying out the rear doors of the church, the baby says–

And that’s when I woke up.

Wow. Just… wow. I can’t believe my subconscious came up with that joke. Or that it thought it was a joke. Or that it thought the “joke” was only just a little bit edgy. Or that that attitude seeped over into my conscious, waking mind. Or that any part of me thought it was funny. It’s mind-boggling.

And the worst part? I blew the punchline.

Thank you, and goodnight.

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November 20, 2008 - Thursday

 Fork Me

Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

Regular readers of this blog and the journal that preceded it know that I am, if nothing else, an irregular poster. I put up entries in fits and starts — I’ll be “good” for a week, two weeks, maybe even a month, putting up entries every day or two, then weeks or months will go by before there’s a new one. Something that’s always bothered me about such irregularity has been my own guilt over it — I always feel like I’m being “bad” when I don’t post, as if I owe it to my readers to put up new content. And on one level maybe I do … but since all my sites have always been free for the taking and very, very few of you know me personally, on another level maybe I don’t owe you a thing. And maybe I’m taking myself a little too seriously when I feel guilty for not providing. Maybe no one even notices.

Jim over at Meat of the Matter said something recently that really got its hooks into me. He said that the way the Internet has evolved, personal blogs have become “a non-event.” That struck a chord with me; it felt like truth, and it sort of surprised me. Always slow on the update, I suddenly realized that “blogging,” even the way I do it with the personal stories, has become a cliche. When did that happen?

I’m sort of an Internet old timer. I was part of, if not the First Wave, then certainly the First-point-Five wave of people publishing personal content on the World Wide Web. There were just a handful of “journals” online back in ’97 when I stumbled across the phenomenon and dove in with chuck’stake. We formed our own little communities and fed off each other and I like to think we helped the Internet become what it is now. We fed it content, made it an interesting place to go, showed people that everyone can have their own soapbox on the net. Now, everybody’s doing it. Even dogs have blogs.

And since reading what Jim said, and looking at my traffic stats, and reading the comments my blogs draw and the people making them… I feel like I just woke up and now see things for what they are. All of a sudden my blogging, the pictures I put up, the stories I tell — it all feels like I’m talking to myself. I feel exactly as if I were the crazy homeless guy you see down the alley having a conversation with the wall. He thinks he’s having a real, genuine, important conversation, but the wall couldn’t care less. Can’t care less. It’s a wall. I suddenly realize that I’m just one person among millions having a personal conversation with a void that couldn’t care less. It’s kind of embarrassing, actually.

And I think back to what I said when I started all this back on August 13, 1997: “I’m hoping that writing this journal will help train me to put my ass in the chair and words on the screen on a daily basis.” Well, guess what? It failed. Not only have I failed to write here on a “daily basis,” I’ve also failed to write anything of any real importance offline either since I started this. In fact, I sort of feel that the online “writing” may have been at the expense of the “real” writing, since it’s been the bulk of my output for the last ten years. As the kids would say: EPIC FAIL.

So… I think I’m done. In the next week or so I’ll be shutting down the Lunchroom here, and my motorcycle blog over there, and I think I’ll be taking all of it offline, chuck’stake too. If I won’t be putting my life online anymore because it’s just noise, then what’s the point of leaving the archives up to be noise too? Shut it down, shut it all down.

I suddenly feel the need to go dark. I like the sound of that.

My life has been a mostly open book online for the last ten years. Now I’m checking the book out. Permanently.

The Lunchroom is closed.

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September 6, 2008 - Saturday

 Stupid Knife Tricks

Every time I’m cutting a bagel in half for Zoe for breakfast in the morning, I tell her that cutting bagels is one of the leading reasons people go to the ER with knife injuries.

“They hold the bagel in their hand, they start sawing at it with the serrated knife, something slips, and bam! They’re bleeding! So be careful with knives,” I like to tell her.

“I know, Dad, you told me last time,” she likes to tell me. “And you told me the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. Can I just have my bagel?” Not much on the repetition of life lessons, my daughter.

So imagine her blackhearted glee when I turned up with a sliced-up hand of my own today. (Fear not — I’ve blurred out the ookie parts in the thumbnails so nobody gets too skeeved out. Click on ’em to see them full-size in all their gory glory.)

I wasn’t cutting a bagel, I was cutting a zip tie off a stupid new dog poop scooper Beth had just bought, but I was sawing at it with my folding pocket knife, and something slipped, and Bam! I was bleeding like a stuck pig. Nice.

I hemmed and hawed for a little while about whether or not it needed stitching, and Beth thought (and probably still thinks) I was an idiot for sitting down to Google “when does a wound need stitches” with a bloody paper towel wadded up in my hand. I thought about trying to Krazy Glue it shut myself, but I finally went to the local urgent care center to get it looked at. They put three stitches in it, but as you can see from the picture below they didn’t do much better than I could have out in the garage.

The doctor seemed really nervous, and I got the feeling it was me making him that way. He kept screwing up the knots in the stitches, and took multiple attempts — with multiple needle sticks — to put each stitch in. First he put in a stitch, then decided the thread was too thin and cut the stitch out, then started over again with thicker thread. He put three stitches in, then noticed the second one had torn loose while he was doing the third one and redid #2. The bottom stitch is so loose he almost could have skipped doing it. Overall, I think the end result looks like a 1st year mortuary student did it — with a hangover.

I wish I had Krazy Glued it myself. I couldn’t have done much worse, and it would have made for a much better story…

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February 15, 2008 - Friday

 …and The Hits Just Keep Coming

Zoe’s little cat Ebi died this morning.

Ebi was a sickly cat from the moment Zoe found her out front, tucked behind the saddlebag of one of my motorcycles. She had some kind nasal obstruction that prevented her from breathing properly, so she could only mouth-breathe and always sounded like she was snoring. Except, for her, snoring was never really an option because she never ever really got to sleep — she had to have her head tilted a certain way to breathe clearly, and if she deviated from that then she simply didn’t breathe. So when she fell asleep and her head drooped, she’d stop breathing, and she’d wake up gasping for air about a minute later. This poor little kitten suffered from extreme sleep apnea her entire life, and she also had developed some kind of mucus build-up thing that made her breathing challenges worse, and it was getting worse and worse toward the end.

And then this morning she choked while eating her breakfast. We feed the cats on top of the washer/dryer and I had just given Ebi her breakfast — a fried egg, because we were trying to find a food that didn’t contribute to the mucus problem. A few minutes later I heard a thud — she had fallen off the dryer and was convulsing on the floor, struggling for air. I tried to give her some kind of mouth-to-mouth, trying both to blow air into her lungs or suck out whatever the obstruction was, but it was no use. She never took a breath and her heartbeat slowly faded and her pupils dilated until she was gone. It was a horrible, horrible way for her to go.

She was a sweet little kitten and deserved a more peaceful end. Watching her go out like that was really hard.

Zoe’s at school now. She’ll be devastated when she gets home and finds out.

Zoe & Ebi
Ebi and Zoe when Ebi was new to us.

The last picture we have of Ebi. This is from mid-December.

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December 31, 2007 - Monday

 Goodbye to Billy

We had to put my dog Billy to sleep two weeks ago on Tuesday, December 18. I haven’t been able to write about until now — and, really, I’m not able to write about it yet — but I wanted to mark his passing here before the year passed with him.

We had him for so long that I don’t know exactly how long it was. Billy was a part of our family for longer than Beth and I have been married. We got married in June of ’95 and I think he was still our “new” dog during the Northridge earthquake back in ’94, so he was with us for at least 14 years. That’s a long time no matter what species’ clock you’re using.

Billy was a really good boy, but he did have his idiosyncrasies. He was not a brave dog, for example. He may have been at one time, but the Northridge quake changed all that. That earthquake really did a number on him, totally scrambled his brains. Everything scared him after that. I can remember one time when a drawing Zoe had done at school that we had taped to the refrigerator came loose and slowly wafted to the floor like a leaf on the wind. That paper scared the ever-loving shit out of Billy and he ran as fast as he could to get away from it. Unfortunately, he was on the hardwood floor when this happened, so he ended up running in place like Scooby Doo, claws skittering on the floor as he scrambled madly away from the dangerous toddler crayon artwork, going nowhere fast.

He wasn’t terribly bright, either. He and Suki (another of our dogs) got out of the yard one day and disappeared for several hours. Suki finally showed up at dinnertime, but Billy didn’t come back. So I went out looking for him, riding my bike all through our neighborhood, certain that I was going to find his dead body in the gutter of one of the busy streets surrounding our neighborhood. When I didn’t find him I went to the local animal shelter to see if he was there. And sure enough, there he was, looking sheepish and forlorn and, yes, scared in one of the kennels there.

I didn’t take him home right away, though. You see, I had gotten Billy from the dog pound in the first place, so I sat down there on the ground outside his kennel and we had a little talk about where he wanted to live. I reminded him that I had rescued him from the pound once — and spent quite a bit of money doing so — and now here he was back at the pound again. So he had a decision to make: live with me, or keep coming back to the pound? Because him leaving my perfectly good home to come back to the dog pound made me wonder if he really wanted to stay with us. We sat there and I waited while he thought about it, and I guess he decided he wanted to come home with me because he gave me a Ha ha, really funny, make jokes while I’m in jail, can we just go home now? kind of look. So I bailed him out and took him home again.

Billy also had a particularly disgusting eating habit – his favorite bed-time snack was cat poop. Every night as we were closing the house up for the night, his last stop before lying down on the floor on my side of the bed was at the catbox, where he would root around looking for what we called “kitty truffles.” He’d clean the catbox for us, and then curl up next to the bed with kitty litter still stuck to his nose. He absolutely loved cat shit.

But Billy was getting really old, and the vet thought he probably had liver cancer, and he had really bad arthritis and was always in pain. By the end he’d gotten so bad that he could barely walk and he couldn’t stand up on his own at all. We have hardwood floors through about half the house and he simply could not navigate them at all — he’d slip and fall down and then couldn’t get up. We put carpet runners down to help him with the traction, but he needed our help getting up at the end — he’d just lie there and bark until someone came and picked him up, and then he’d totter off a few steps and fall down again half the time. He simply couldn’t get around on his own anymore, so we knew it was time.

Our vet agreed to come to the house so he wouldn’t have to go through the stress of going to the vet’s office — something that always gave him a lot of stress. We spent our last evening with him pampering him and loving him and cherishing our last moments with him, and we took the pictures below with him that night. When the vet came we all surrounded him and held him and petted him as he went to sleep for the last time. I think he felt safe and loved at the end. I hope he did.

His ashes came back from the pet crematory on Friday, so Billy’s home again. We miss him a lot.

Billy & Zoe

Chuck Beth Billy

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December 24, 2007 - Monday

 Merry Christmas, You Bastard

I got “Merry Christmas”ed today — and not in a nice way. I was on the bike at the local mall, navigating my way through the maze of idiot drivers on my way out of the parking lot. As I approached an intersection of sorts where pedestrians were leaving the store and crossing in to the parking lot and cars entering the lot were trying to turn left down one of the parking lot lanes, there were a couple of guys directing traffic.

Unfortunately, they weren’t exactly working as a team.

As Parking Monkey #1 stopped traffic and motioned me to proceed forward, Parking Monkey #2 waved a car to go ahead and turn left — directly in my path. I stopped and waved the car through.

I said to PM1, “You guys need to get on the same page.”

PM1 ignores me, again stops traffic and waves me forward again, and this time PM2 waves a pedestrian across — directly in my path. I stopped and waved the pedestrian through. Then I just sat there until I had both PMs looking at me and said “Are you ready for me yet?”

PM1 waves me through, I start rolling, and — you guessed it — PM2 starts waving another left-turning car through. What an idiot. I gunned it and cut the car off, and as I passed PM2 I said “You need to pay attention to what he’s (PM1) doing.”

Both of them called after me in unison, “Merry Christmas, sir!!!” and it was pretty obvious that they were using it as a euphemism for “Fuck off, you asshole.”


So with that in mind… Merry Christmas to all two or three of my readers. Watch out for parking monkeys in the new year.

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Shot a man named Reno just to eat his pie.

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One Year Ago Today (ish)



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