Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tim-Elvis speaks

this is an audio post - click to play


I think I still prefer typing to actually speaking. But hey, never let it be said Tim-Elvis doesn't step up to a new challenge.

My New Year's resolutions



"[Do not] make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or
iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare at Puck] at night or exchange
New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]."
--the vita of St. Eligius written by his companion Ouen
I'm not sure what that quote means, but it has something to do with the traditions of 7th century druids in Flanders and the Netherlands of exchanging gifts at the new year. Apparently this pissed off St. Eligius (probably because he was Christian and none of the druids were giving him gifts).

Which leads to my list of resolutions for the New Year (bloggers seem to really love lists):
  1. I resolve to avoid creating lists in my blog.
  2. I resolve not to wear purple or purple and green tights (in public).
  3. I resolve not to use those cute little shortcut symbols that people seem to like to use in e-mails and instant messaging (I don't resolve not to publicly ridicule those who do ;)
  4. I resolve not to make fun of happy people (unless, of course, it makes them happy).
  5. I resolve not to watch reruns of the New Gilligan's Island, the Biggest Loser, the Bachelor, Beauty and the Geek or the Apprentice.
  6. I resolve not to whine about no one reading my blog.
  7. I resolve not to forward e-mails with cute photos or lists to anyone I really know very well.
  8. I resolve not to use more than eight Photoshopped images with my face on other people's bodies in any single blog entry.
  9. I resolve not to have a mullet.
  10. I resolve to blog about world peace, politics, injustice and my own personal opinions about stuff I know nothing about...NOT :)
  11. I resolve to avoid digressing in my blog. But did you ever notice that the word, "digress" is made up of the words, "dig" and "ress." Not that "ress" is actually a word. Unless you can't pronounce the letter "l" and then "ress" could mean "less" and then "dig" and "less" makes sense. Because "diglessing" could imply that you shouldn't dig too far into minutia on a subject and wander off topic...anyway...
  12. I resolve to do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, to be Square and obey the laws of the pack. Actually that was something I resolved when I was a Cub Scout. I don't really buy into that crap anymore.

I think that's about all the resolutions I can deal with for one year. Anyway, I hope everyone has a Happy New Year. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. ;) LOL :(

Damn.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What's wrong with this picture?



First, I want to clarify that I despise the teletubbies. This has nothing to do with Jerry Falwell thinking Tinky Winky is gay because he is lavender. That's just dumb.

I don't like Barney either. But now it is cliche (or is it passe) not to like Barney.

But back to the teletubbies. I am convinced that they originally were the Banana Splits created by Hanna Barbera in 1968:


I am also convinced that the Banana Splits first evolved (or deevolved) into the 80s group DEVO:



Devo could only muster a couple of hit songs, so they drifted back to children's entertainment and became the teletubbies.

This is just my theory.

But I really don't like the teletubbies.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Tim-Elvis Christmas: A photo story

Yes, it was a an old fashioned Christmas at the H**** home this year. Tess and I rose early to unwrap gifts.





The cats got into the spirit of the season and helped distribute packages.


Everyone got dressed up in in new Christmas finery.





A chef at heart, I was particularily thrilled with my new 600-watt, Cuisinart blender .



In no time at all, I whipped up Christmas dinner, including this beautiful ham.



It was truly a feast fit for a king.


After dinner, everyone collapsed from the excitement.

It was truly a merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bless the beasts and the children



Tess and I traveled to Vancouver, WA to take our family out for dinner. I was a chance to reunite with some of her family and a chance for me to meet my newest niece, Delilah.

I'm telling you, it was difficult even for a crusty, old curmudeon like myself not to melt at the sight of this sweet little baby. She didn't even cry once when I held her (or spit up). It kind of put the whole Christmas season in perspective.

So that's it, no jokes, no rants and no weird words of wisdom. I just want to wish every one a very merry Christmas, especially all of the friends I've made in the blog world over the past year.

Peace!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Merry Christmas, Mon...


Last year at this time, Tess and I were on a cruise where I proposed on Christmas morning in front of a television in our cabin with a video of a fireplace with Christmas carols playing. It was actually more romantic than it sounds.

Anyway, you can have your white Christmas, give me the tropics for the holidays anyday. For one, everything is much more relaxed.

We spent Christmas eve on a beach in St. Maarten. We'd shopped for Christmas presents the day before in St. Thomas where they decorated cannons instead of Christmas trees.


And for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we didn't have to worry about cooking or entertainment. We just hung around the piano bar.

Or sat around smoking Cubanos in the cigar lounge.

Yes, life is a beach in the Caribbean.


Sigh...Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The sound of muse


The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears
--Sound of Music

Sunday was Tess' birthday. I booked a theater package at a downtown hotel that included a night's lodging and two tickets the to The Sound of Music.

Okay, I have to admit, I've never actually seen the movie or the play all the way through. It came out in 1965. We could rarely afford first run movies when I was growing up. When my parents did take us to a movie, it was a drive-in and it was usually a monster movie (there were three boys in our family and we were obsessed with classic horror).

This is not to say that I don't know every song in the play and had a basic idea of what the plot was. You'd have to have been living in a cave for the last 40 years not to. When I was in sixth grade, I sang a solo of "Edelweiss" in a school music competition. I won a blue ribbon for it. This was before my voice changed. Though I can still belt out a fairly decent rendition of it that would bring tears to your eyes.

So, anyway, I surprise Tess with the theater package and she seemed pleased. We checked into our hotel, changed into our theater clothes (yes, I wore a tie), had dinner at a nice restaurant downtown and then walked to the theater.

I will be the first to admit that downtown Seattle really knows how to dress up for the holidays. There were Christmas lights everywhere and a carousel in Westlake Park. It was a clear, crisp night and we enjoyed the store windows as we strolled up 5th avenue towards the theater where the Sound of Music was showing. Fifth Avenue is considered Seattle's "uptown" and is pretty posh compared to the other downtown areas. You can walk along there and imagine you are in New York or Chicago.

And the 5th Avenue Theater is a pretty cool place to watch a show. It was built in the 1920s as a vaudeville and silent movie theater. It's got the whole Asian theme going with elaborate carvings of dragons and stone lanterns. Give me a vintage theater any day over the 40-plexes they build today for movies.

My only real pet peeve about theater is Seattle is that people don't dress up for it. I mean, we are talking about Broadway productions here, not dinner theater at the community college. So when I see some dimwit in sweats and tennis shoes bitching because he can't take food into the auditorium, it kind of puts a damper on the whole illusion that we are attending opening night in New York.

Maybe it was the bottle of wine at dinner or the pre-dinner martini. Or maybe it was the holiday season and Tess' birthday celebration, but I was able to more or less ignore the slovenly dressed theater goers and enjoy the show. After all, who hasn't sang, "Do, Re, Mi" once in their lifetime?

But it did strike me how dated some of the dialogue was in the storyline. There was one point when Captain Von Trapp is trying to decide whether he should accept an offer he couldn't refuse from the Nazi navy to captain a ship or take his family and run. He asks Maria what he should do and she relies, "Whatever you decide is my decision, too." Now there is an attitude that doesn't quite fit with the modern definition of marriage. I suggested to Tess that that was a pretty refreshing sentiment and she squeezed my hand really, really hard.

I suppose one shouldn't try to read too much into a Rogers and Hammerstein musical. After all these are the same guys who wrote, "There is nothing like a dame," for South Pacific.

Regardless, we enjoyed the show. And I think Tess enjoyed her birthday. That's what is important.

Now if I can just get that "Lonely Goatherd" song out of my head.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Classic

Dear Sir,

I do not understand you are you ready to help me distribute this funds to charity or not

Thanks
Shadak Shari

Dear Shad,

You are truly dumb as a post.

Timateo

Friday, December 16, 2005

Spam, I am...

As some of you know, occasionally I get pretty darned bored and engage in spam baiting with people offering me tons of cash in exchange for my bank account number. In a weak moment yesterday, I once again lapsed into that bad habit when I received the following letter (there is something about really bad spelling in a spam letter that sets me off):

Dear Friend.

As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday. My name is Shadak Shari, a merchant in Dubai, in the U.A.E.I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer .It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone(not even myself)but my business.

Though I am very rich, I wasnever generous, I was always hostile to people and only focused on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all themoney in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that God has called me, I have willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as a few close friends.

I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul so, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, Algeria and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria and Pakistan, they refused and kept the money to themselves. Hence, I donot trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what Ihave left for them.

The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit ofseven million dollars $7,000,000,that I have with a finance/Security Company abroad. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations. I have set aside 10% for you for your time and patience.please send a reply through this email address(shadakshadak@netscape.net) with your fullcontact information for more private and confidential communication.

God be with you. Shadak Shari


I dusted off my "I'm dying in Dubai" form letter and fired back this response:

Hey Shadakshadak!

Good to hear from you. I'm here for you. You can trust me (farther than you can throw me, nod, nod, nudge, nudge).

Okay, here's the plan. I'm coming to Dubai so we can divy up the cash.

Here's the flight information:
Mon, Dec. 26 1:15pm Depart - Seattle/Tacoma, WA (SEA) Northwest Airlines 34
Tue, Dec. 27 7:50am Arrive - Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) Nonstop
Tue, Dec. 27 2:20pm Depart - Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) Northwest Airlines 8371 operated by KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES
10:45pm Arrive - Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB) Nonstop

Can you pick me up at the airport? I'll probably be pretty wasted after that layover in Amsterdam if you know what I mean! ;)

Anyway, after I get there and catch some zzz's we can wrap up the business at hand. In the meantime, can you spot me the cash for the ticket? It's $2795 US dollars. Maybe you could send it to me via Paypal, okay? Oh and while I'm in Dubai, can I bunk with you? You don't know any hot chicks, do you? Let's party and use some of that dough ray me for charity (did I tell you my middle name is Charity)!

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Timatao
And as usual the fish took the bait:

Dear Timatao:

Thanks for your mail and i really appreciate your concern toward my llife. in my last mail to you i introduced myself and gave you a summary of the present predicament I have found myself and how i lived my life financial-wise).my failing health has necessitated my present over view of life and the meaning of life itself as it relates to day-to-day living. Even surgery which is a last resort has been done but the cancer has already spread into the stomach and intestines. if you would like, I can send you some personal photos in my next mail so that you can see my situation i not send you check at this moment.The consignment is in Amsterdam.

I hope my first mail did not embarrass you? if it did, I apologies for this. The fund in questions is privately kept and I wanted to put it in capable hands for disbursement. The $7 million dollars is physical cash in $100 dollar bills packed inside two metallic trunk boxes deposited in the security vault of a private finance/security company in The Netherlands.

If you would be able to help me fulfill this last living request, I would need you to get back to me on the following issues,

1.That you are in a position to be trusted with such a large amount of fund, and that you have a heart for charity and thus would not have any problems locating the right charity and human aid groups to disburse the fund to. it would be nice to know what charities you have in mind to donate the money to.
2. That you are ready to contact my lawyer in Europe who will finalize the process for this transaction, send you all relevant deposit documents as well as send you the necessary authorization document to retrieve the deposit on my behalf and disburse the fund.
3. That you are willing to contact the security company holding the deposit to discuss the terms of releasing the trunk boxes and bear the expenses that would be involved so the deposit can be released to you.
4. That you fully understand this transaction up to this stage and you are ready to proceed under these terms.

Thanks for sending your full contact details as I requested. I shall be sending your contact details to my lawyer just incase we reach and accord to precede. I await your response to the issues raised here.

I await further communication.

Regards,

Shadak Shari


So, now I begin reeling in Shadak:

Dear Shadak...or can I just call you Shad? Are you a hanging Shad or a dimpled one? Ha, Ha, Ha...

You sound really sick. It definitely has affected your ability to spell and apparently to read. And boy do you have a buttload of e-mail addresses for a guy in a hospital.

Couple of questions:

Are these personal photos you have offered to send me photos of your wife :)

Just kidding, Shad, but seriously I've purchased my airplane ticket on good faith that the money will be waiting in Amsterdam as you have promised. Anything you want me to pick up while I am there? Do you collect snow globes? Or maybe I can get you a shot glass. Those are always pretty neat. My mother collected those stupid spoons. Dumb things. They were too small to eat with.

But back to the money for CHARITY (nod, nod, wink, wink). I want you to know that I'm like the dollar bill. In Timatao you can trust. I will give that $7 million to charity quicker than you can say lickety split. Go ahead, say it, I'll wait.....see, I've already picked a charity. It's call M.O.M. Fortunately, she...I mean they, accept large amounts of cash in metallic trunk boxes.

Speaking of these boxes, do you think they will fit in the overhead bin or will I need to check them. I hate checking luggage. All of those baggage handlers are thieves. And don't get me started about the security people. When I get to Dubai I'll tell you a few strip search stories that will curl your hair.

You never let me know whether or not it is cool if I stay at your place while I'm there. I figured you would be in the hospital anyway. I could water your plants. Oh, does Dubai have a Hooters? I love their wings. I could get some to go and drop them by for you. With the cancer and all you don't need to watch your weight, now do you?

Anyway, I'm marking off the days on my calendar until we meet. This is so cool. I've never been to Dubai, or Amsterdam. So, let's get er done as the rednecks say.

Hey, I just thought of something. Do you by any chance know Winston Magui? Maybe he could join us in Dubai. I'll ask him to bring Cocoa. The dude has tons of the stuff.

Live long and prosper,

Timatao

I'll let you know if Shad replies.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Naivety Scene


Yes, I know some of you may just look at this and say, "This is just wrong." But it is my blog and I must follow the meanderings of my imagination. And for some reason, it truly amuses me to superimpose my not so pleasing face onto various classic images.

Call me narcisstic if you will, but just don't call me late for dinner.

I'm not one to slap a lot of symbolism onto things, but if I did, this bastardization of the Nativity Scene would represent my own feelings sometimes that blogging is like laying there on a blanket with strangers staring at your pimply butt and shaking their heads in disgust.

Or it could be a statement about the true meaning of Christmas. Wouldn't that be scary.

I always loved Christmas as a child. I think it was the anticipation more than anything else. There was the excitement of decorating the tree and the imprinting of traditions. Though one of my earliest memories of a Christmas tree was this aluminum one my father picked up at the hardware warehouse he worked in. It was about 4 feet tall. My mother would only allow these red, satin wrapped balls as decorations and it was lit by one of those motorized colored wheels that rotated in front of a spotlight and turned the aluminum tree all of the primary colors. It was the height of modern Christmas trees in the early 1960s.

Eventually we switched back to real Christmas trees because they smelled good. Then there was the ritual 30 minutes of swearing from my father as he tried to get the tree to stand up straight in the tree stand while my mother stood back and giggled. Then there was the additional 45 minutes of swearing while he swapped out lights on the light strings to figure out which one had burned out.

But eventually we would decorate the tree. I remember being lectured by my mother about placing one strand of tinsel on at a time when my inclination was just to fling handfuls on the branches. Her goals was a tree that was pleasing to the eye. My goal was to get it finished so presents would start appearing.

To this day, I think I prefer the mystery of wrapped presents to the anticlimax of unwrapping them. And despite the admonishments from my parents that good things come in small packages, I still fought with my brothers over who had the largest package under the tree (authors note: when I refer to package here, I am talking about presents, not the now common and vulgar vernacular meaning of "package" as it is often used today...though I still have the largest package in that context as well).

I loved the secular rituals of Christmas, but even as a child, I knew that it was loosely associated with the birth of Jesus. And I was familiar with the Christmas story, Bethleham and the virgin birth. I didn't have a clue what a virgin was or why it was significant, but I did vaguely wonder how Joseph felt about Mary giving birth to someone else's child. I also wondered what happened to him because he seems to be conspicuously absent from stories about Jesus later in his life.

I was a Sunday school teacher's worst nightmare because I asked questions like that alot.

Which leads me oddly to the whole politically correct dilemma we as a society struggle with when we debate whether or not we are celebrating Christmas or a nebulous but less exclusive "holiday" season. I think we've watered down the "Christ" and "Mass" to a point where most people don't think of it as a christian holiday. So I don't have a problem with it being called Christmas. If we totally eliminate the word, we pretty much have tossed out most of the traditional "holiday" carols. "Blue Holiday," just doesn't do it for me.

And don't get me started about Kwanzaa.

Now, after that brief political statement, you may still be wondering why I've Photo shopped my face on the baby Jesus in a nativity scene.

Because I could and I felt like it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Is this thing on?


A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Why the long face?"

A guy walks into a bar with jumper cables. The bartender says, "You can come in, but don't start anything!"

A man walks into a bar and says, "Give me a beer before problems start!" Again, the man orders a beer again saying, "Give me a beer before problems start!" The bartender looks confused. This goes on for a while, and after the fifth beer the bartender is totally confused and asks the man "When are you going to pay for these beers?" The man answers, "Now the problems start!"

A neutron walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender sets the beer down and says, "For you, no charge!"

A pig goes into a bar and orders ten drinks. He finishes them up and the bartender says, "Don't you need to know where the bathroom is?" The pig says, "No, I go wee wee all the way home."

A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says, "A beer please, and one for the road."

A penguin walks into a bar, goes to the counter, and asks the bartender, "Have you seen my brother?" The bartender asks, "I don't know, what does he look like?"

A kangaroo walks into a bar. He orders a beer. The bartender says, "That'll be $10. You know, we don't get many kangaroos coming in here, you know." The kangaroo says, "At $10 a beer, it's not hard to understand."

A hamburger walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve food in here."

A dog with his leg wrapped in bandages hobbles into a saloon. He sidles up to the bar and announces: "I'm lookin' fer the man that shot my paw."

A guy walks into a bar, sits down and hears a small voice say, "You look nice today." A few minutes later he again hears a small voice, "That's a nice shirt." The guy asks the bartender, "Who is that?" The bartender says, "Those are the peanuts. They're complimentary!"

A baby seal walks into a bar. "What can I get you?" asks the bartender. "Anything but a Canadian Club," replies the seal.

A bear walked into a bar and says, "I'll have a beer......and some of those peanuts." The bartender says, "Why the big pause?"

A grasshopper hops into a bar. The bartender says, "You're quite a celebrity around here. We've even got a drink named after you." The grasshopper says, "You've got a drink named Steve?"

A goldfish walks into a bar and looks at the bartender. The bartender asks, "What can I get you?" The goldfish says, "Water."

A man walks into a bar and sits down next to a lady and a dog. The man asks, "Does your dog bite?". The lady answers, "Never!" The man reaches out to pet the dog and the dog bites him. The man says, "I thought you said your dog doesn't bite!" The woman replies, "He doesn't. This isn't my dog."

A guy walks into a bar and there is a horse behind the bar serving drinks. The guy is just staring at the horse, when the horse says, "What are you staring at? Haven't you ever seen a horse serving drinks before?" The guy says, "No, I never thought the parrot would sell the place."

A cowboy walks into a bar. Upon leaving, he realizes that someone has painted his horse. The cowboy yells, "Which one of you painted my horse?" A seven foot tall hulk of a man says, menacingly, "I did." The cowboy realizes he is in trouble and replies, "Why, thank you - the first coat's dry!"

A man walked into a bar holding an alligator. He asked the bartender, "Do you serve lawyers here?" The bartender said, "Yes, we do!" "Good," replied the man. "Give me a beer, and I'll have a lawyer for my alligator."

A little guy walks into a bar and slips on some vomit. Minutes later a tough guy walks into the bar and slips on the vomit as well. The little guy says, "I just did that." The big guy then beats the little guy up.

A skeleton walks into a bar and says, "Gimme a beer, and a mop."

A polar bear, a giraffe and a penguin walk into a bar. The bartender says, "What is this? Some kind of joke?"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Strange, yet true

On this day in history, Dec. 13, 1928, the clip on tie was created. Thirty years and nine months later, I was created. Five years after that, in 1963, I was wearing a a clip on bow tie.

STRANGE, YET TRUE!

And this gets even more bizarre. Three years later, when I was in Third Grade, I was photographed wearing a skinny, black clip on tie.


STRANGE, YET TRUE!


Okay, now this really gets weird. Three years later, when I was in Sixth Grade, I was photographed wearing a skinny, PAISLEY clip on tie.


STRANGE, YET TRUE!!?

And finally, six years later, when I was graduating from high school, I was photographed wearing my the last clip on tie I'd ever wear. And get this, it was a bow tie. Thirteen years after I'd worn my first clip on bow tie, I was wearing one again. Each clip on tie incident occurred at three or six year intervals over a 13 year period. And what is the real significance of this? The clip on tie was created on December THIRTEENTH, 1928. I was born in 1958! Coincidence? I think not. Even more disturbing about all of this is how big my ears look in all of these photos until I grew my hair out.


Truly, STRANGE, YET TRUE!!!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Picture, if you will...



NARRATOR

The time is now, the place is Dizgraceland, and what you don't realize is that this blog happens to lie on the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.

FADE OUT

(on being born on Christmas Day, 1924) "I was a Christmas present that was delivered unwrapped."
--Rod Serling

I miss Rod Serling. If he was still alive (physically), he would be 81 years old this Christmas. But he collapsed while mowing the lawn in 1975 and died because the artery leading to his heart had disintegrated.

Kind of an ordinary way for the creator of the Twilight Zone to die. You would have thought he would have simply disappeared in a puff of smoke (considering the man even chain smoked while narrating the Twilight Zone).

Rod was a major inspiration to me. He frightened the bejesus out of me as a kid. I think the scariest was "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet", in which William Shatner sees a gremlin (the monster, not the car) tearing at an airplane wing out the window of an airliner. I had my own nightmares about that one. I still think about it when I fly and happen to be sitting near the wing. But 9-11 has given us real boogeymen to worry about.

I suppose that is why I've always liked stories about the supernatural. For some reason, it is much easier to deal with a gremlin ripping apart a wing than a terrorist taking over a plane in real life. Reality is unfortunately too often more terrifying than fantasy.

I wonder if that is part of what motivated Serling. He served as a paratrooper in World War II and apparently suffered from combat flashbacks and insomnia. Maybe it was easier to deal with the demons in the twilight zone.

But the really cool thing about Rod Serling was that he used his fantasy programs to deal with real life issues such as racism, Cold War paranoia and the horrors of war. In an era when we were being fed sanitized life by I Love Lucy and Ozzy and Harriet, that was pretty progressive.

So anyway, I know it seems like an odd topic for the holiday season, but here's to Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone. Happy birthday, Rod. Hope you found a dimension of happiness out there.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Pigeonholed


I was walking with a group of my co-workers to lunch a couple of weeks ago when out of the blue (or gray...it was cloudy) a bird of unknown origin scored a direct hit on the head of one of my staffmembers. My guess is that it was a Sea Gull. But it could have been a pigeon or even a crow.

The amazing thing was that this happened in a crosswalk with no trees or light poles around, so the bird had to have dropped its payload while in flight. This bird had to have taken in account wind velocity and it's speed as it flew. It also had to take into account how fast we were walking. Fortunately, I was walking ahead of the group and escaped unscathed.

What's even more amazing was that this is the third time this person has been hit by bird shit. And two of those times, I was walking with her. What are the odds? Everyone around her kept telling her that in some cultures a bird shitting upon you is good luck. Yeah, right.

I've only been shit upon by a bird once (not counting pet parakeets as a kid). I was walking through Pioneer Square in Seattle years ago and someone I knew was approaching in the opposite direction. They motioned for me to stop because they had a question about something. When I stopped to chat, it was unfortunately under a tree. The second I stopped walking a pigeon tagged me on the shoulder. The person who had flagged me down looked at the bird shit on my shoulder, shook his head and walked away.

I learned several things from this experience (other than the obvious, "shit happens"). First, never stop under a tree in Pioneer Square. Second, you never know when a bird is going to shit upon you. And third, never assume that birds are random about relieving themselves. Just the other day I was walking under a light post in Pioneer Square and a large mass of bird guano landed barely a foot from me. I waited until I was well past the lamp post to stop and look back. A crow stared back at me and I swear he flipped me a claw.

If I ever have a child, I'm going to impart this wisdom to them early in life. But for now, I'm throwing these pearls out there for the masses to digest as they see fit.

Just don't say I never warned you.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Palm reader


I had my palm read once years ago. It wasn't really an official palm reader. It was a friend's neighbor who had read a book about it. I don't even recall what she told me other than I needed to eat more green vegetables because I had white spots on my fingernails.

I've never really been comfortable with people telling me my future. I don't believe you can predict someone's future other than the obvious...you will eventually die. It's all of that other stuff in between that I don't really buy off on. I have given up on the reality that anyone can predict the future.

This is not to say that I don't believe in probabilities based on either research or experience. When I write something new in my blog, I generally figure that there is a high probability I will offend someone. Because humor is one of those things that is subjective. And I'll be the first one to admit that my sense of humor is a bit skewed toward sarcasm and my own sense of the absurd.

Pollsters make a living on the probability of people's behavior based on the laws of average. This opens up a whole new can of worms (and have you ever actually opened up a can of worms?), especially when the polls are wrong.

I lean toward the school of thought that most psychic predictions are based on intuition. And intuition is based on picking up subtle (and not so subtle) clues from everyday life. I consider myself an intuitive person. I can generally immediately tell when I've said the wrong thing within seconds of the words leaving my mouth. Middle age and experience has unfortunately not tempered my ability to intuit things are wrong before they leave my mouth. This is why I prefer writing to talking.

But sometimes I even write before I think.

And what has inspired this runaway train of thought? I ran across the photo (above) of a plastic coconut palm I took on our honeymoon last April in Cabo San Lucas. We were sitting on the second floor of a restaurant and I spied the fake tree on the street. It struck me as ironic at the time that we were in a semi tropical environment that one could likely expect to find real coconut palms. And we would have been in our rights to expect to see palm trees. But since most of the palms had been cut down or killed off to make way for tourists, there were none. So some enterprising restaurant owner improvised and stuck a portable palm tree out front on the concrete.

I kind of liked the photo and have never really found a use for it before, so I posted it. But in the past I've posted random photographs and have been greeted with quizzical silence as to what the purpose was. So, predicting people would expect a purpose for posting the photo, I invented one. It struck me that an artificial palm tree is kind of symbolic of a fake fortune teller or palm reader.

It's funny how my mind works.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fame

(This blog is also available in Timmerish formats)

Fame
I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly
High

I feel it coming together
People will see me and cry
Fame

I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame
Fame

I'm gonna live forever
Baby remember my name

Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember

Remember my name

--Fame, Irene Cara
There was a time that I wanted to be famous. When I was in grade school, I wanted to be one of the Beatles and have girls scream when they saw me and chase me. At age six, I knew I wanted to be chased by girls, I just didn't know what I was supposed to do when they caught me.

As I got into junior high and high school, I wanted to be a jock and have the cheerleaders and drill team girls fawn over me. But I was an honor student and the drum major in band. Plus I played the bass clarinet. So fame eluded me even in the microcosm of high school (though I was in Idaho's all-state band one year...oh, and I was an alternate for the Junior Varsity Quiz Team).

In the waning years of high school and my first years of college, I decided that writing was going to be my ticket to fame. I worked part time in a public library shelving books and I swore that someday, some pimply faced kid was going to be shelfing a book with my name on it. That would mean I was famous. It never occured to me at the time that I shelved thousands of books by thousands of authors and most of them were pretty obscure and more often than not, dead.

After switching my college major six times I settled on Journalism as my path to professional writing and the fame that had eluded me. I transferred to Seattle University and started working on the school newspaper. Almost immediately I started writing a humor column called Healyiums (the editor named it). On a weekly basis I cranked out random stuff much as I do in my blog today. And for almost two years I was a god among men on that campus of about 3000 students (or so I saw myself). One time while paying my tuition at the beginning of a new quarter cashier at the office told me they read my column every week. And once, after a philosophy class, a girl in my class turned to me and said, "So you are Tim H****...I read your column. You don't look funny."

Yes, I had it all. And then I graduated. My fame dissipated as quickly as it appeared.

I entered the work world and my fame stymied by what I discovered was the relative anomity of being a copywriter or "communications" specialist as the bureaucratic world likes to call writers.

Then the World Wide Web appeared. I knew from the beginning that the Internet was Information Highway to fame. And for some reason I decided to hitch a ride on that Highway on Elvis' pink Caddie. I created Disgraceland (which became Dizgraceland after a dispute over domain names). It seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, Elvis is huge and his fan base seemed unlimited. For some reason it never occurred to me that that fan base was pretty whacked out and that most of them didn't appreciate my humor, especially at what they perceived was the King's expense.

In the early years, Dizgraceland was featured in articles all over the world. Parade magazine contacted me and printed a photo of Friz-Elvis, the world's only Budgie Elvis impersonator. I had links in the Washington Post and newspapers as far away as Sidney, Australia wrote features on what they perceived as my grand obsession with Elvis.

But still, the fame was sporadic and unsatisfactory. I kind of got sick of getting hate e-mail from both Elvis fans and Elvis-haters.

And then about a year ago I discovered blogging. It was a new medium that allowed everyone to publish their own Web column about anything they wanted. It was an uncharted wilderness of creative space just aching to be filled with words...my words...my photos...my philosophy...dare I say it, my First Class ticket to fame.

Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww....

Blogs aren't the road to fame and fortune. At most, Blogs allow us to express ourselves on an electronic soapbox that potentially...potentially being the operative word here...reaches around the world. But there are millions of us out there screaming out from our dust specks like the Who's from Horton Hears a Who, "We are here, we are here, we are hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" And lets just face it. With all of us screaming out we are hear, we are hear, there aren't too many people left to listen.

So I've pretty much given up any illusion of fame in my life. It's one of those things that appears more desirable when you are young. But there is still part of me that wants to somehow be remembered after I die. Maybe it's my recent journey into genealogy that has taught me that for most people, even having your name remembered after you die is asking alot. And as cemeteries disappear and more and more people opt for cremation, even the hope of having a tombstone with your name on it is disappearing.

I guess my point here is that, if nothing else, blogging at least makes a mark in eternity (even if it is for a nano second). And with that, I'm going to live forever, so baby remember my name.

Etu, Monkey?


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Go Seahawks!


The Seattle Seahawks spanked the Philadephia Eagles last night on Monday night football, 42-0. They are now 10 and 2. They've already clinched the NFC West and will be in the playoffs. They are having the best season they have ever had and yet still we have to endure that blowhard John Madden blather on and on about how he didn't know whether the Seahawks were really any good or the Eagles just sucked.

Well Madden, you suck. You spent the last half of game pontificating about everything but the game you were supposedly providing commentary on. You even spent five minutes wondering why older fans don't take their shirts off at games. You are a disgrace to the sportscasting field. And that is pretty pitiful.

Even if the Seahawks go to the Superbowl, there are going to be jerks like Madden explaining how it is simply a fluke and go on to talk about the Chicago Bears and Green Bay. But I'm here to tell you, this is the Seahawks season.

Pity I gave up our season tickets. But at least we have the big screen TV.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Stupid Santa hats


Despite "the michael's" warnings about avoiding the mall at this time of the year, Tess and I went to one on Saturday afternoon. We have a tradition every year of going to a mall and heading our separate directions to buy stocking stuffers. The rules are you only have and hour and you can't spend more than $25 total.

It's a lot harder than you might imagine, especially in the midst of holiday madness. But I lucked out this year and picked the section of the mall (after flipping a coin to keep it fair) that had a Japanese dollar store. It was chock full of gadgets and gizmo, none of which cost more than $2. The only downside is that most of the item descriptions were in Japanese, so you had to kind of guess what they were.

Anyway, I managed to fill Tess' stocking in under and hour. But in the process, I had to go to my inner happy place to avoid raising my blood pressure over the hordes of people competing with me in my quest to consume.

I'm not a people person. Crowds freak me out. The few times I've been to Disneyland I correctly see that the "Happiest Place on Earth" is actually Lucifer's training ground for moving as many people as possible through endless lines. I actually think the lines in hell will be a bit shorter.

But I digress.

I was doing fine at the mall after elbowing a few elderly Asian women out of my way in the Japanese dollar store. But then I started noticing the Santa hats. There is something about the sight of some idiot wearing a Santa hat that makes me react the way a bull would when you wave a red flag under his nose. I think the most infuriating thing about someone wearing a Santa hat in public is that they think they are being so clever and original. Here's a clue for you...you aren't. You aren't any more clever if the Santa hat has a baseball hat brim and reads, "merry whatever." And if you really want to corner the shit for brains market, wear a Santa cowboy hat or one of those stupid hats with ear flaps that tie on the top of that hat that's done up Santa fashion in red with white fur. A sequined Santa hat isn't any better.

I admit it. I'm not a tolerant person. At my age, I pretty much feel as though I shouldn't have to be. If experience teaches you anything, it should be how to recognize a fool. And a Santa cap is a sure sign.

So, I'm walking through the mall noticing people wearing all of the Santa hats I've described, and my eye begins twitching. It's not a big thing, but I'm really grateful that our stocking stuffer hour is almost up and I can get out of the mall. I find Tess and she takes one look at me and says, "You've seen someone wearing a Santa hat, haven't you?" I try to smile, but she knows I'm one step away from breaking out in a fake Tourettes syndrome attack. She grabs my arm and we weave our way through shoppers towards a door.

And then I saw it. Tess tried to steer me away from it, but it was too late. There was a moron standing at the men's fragrance counter of a large unnamed department store wearing a Santa Pimp Hat that read, "Ho, Ho, Ho." It was too much. I ignored Tess' death grip on my arm and go up to the loser and said, "Hey, I was going to do my impression of an asshole, but by wearing that idiotic hat, you beat me to it." I then grabbed a sampler of Grey Flannel and sprayed him in the face.

I'm lying. I kind of wish I had the guts to do something like that, but as I like to point out, "I may be small, but I'm also weak." Tess and I simply walked out of the mall without incident and I was left to vent my frustration with Santa hats in my safe, happy place: my blog.

But I really hate Santa hats.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blue...blue, blue Christmas

I thought about calling this entry, "For unto you is born a King..." but I didn't want all of the religious nuts Googling in here and accusing me of blasphemy (which I am very often guilty of). Although I am really not as obsessed with Elvis as one might think, I have woven the King into our Christmas tradition with the annual decorating of the Elvis Tree.

The Elvis Tree was born out of my imagination a few years ago when faced with the dilemma of yet another Christmas and not wanting to kill a tree. It came to me in a vision. I pictured a white, artificial tree with blue lights and nothing but Elvis and Elvis-related ornaments.

After years of late nights on Ebay and countless gifts from well-meaning friends and family, I had plenty of Elvis stuff to decorate a tree. So I went to the nearest K-Mart and bought me a 6-foot white tree and some blue lights. The result was stunning as you can see:

It's even more stunning when you turn off the lights and experience Blue Christmas in all it's splendor:

And perched on top of the tree in front of the star is the King himself from the Elvis in Hawaii concert. I get teary-eyed ever time I look at it:

But the best part is the minature Graceland that I set up under the tree. I picked it up on eBay a few years ago. It came complete with Christmas decorations that light up. Unfortunately, our cats don't have the respect for the King's castle that I do:

Now that we are in our new house, I wasn't sure Tess would be open to the Elvis tree. But fortunately we have a big house and room for two trees.

I love my wife.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Orbs






Silent Camp, Morris Hill Cemetery, Boise, Idaho

One of the things I had on my list to do when Tess and I went to Boise for Thanksgiving was visit Morris Hill Cemetery and try and track down some of my relatives graves. It's part of my new obsession with discovering my roots. This is not to say that I think my roots are growing in a cemetery. But graves are an important clue in putting together any family tree. For one, they confirm dates when a relative lived.

So, armed with a list I'd prepared of relatives I thought were buried in Boise, we pulled up to the office of Morris Hill Cemetary on the Friday following Thanksgiving. The 70-acre cemetery has been the final resting place for Boise residents since 1882. I remember going for walks there when I was a teenager, oblivious that 20 or so of my family were buried there. The only burial I ever attended there was my maternal grandmother.

Morris Hill is one of the older style cemeteries that actually has headstones instead of in the ground markers. Newer cemeteries have restricted the old style markers in many areas because it is easier to mow the grass and maintain a cemetary without having to weedwhack around a traditional tombstone.

The staffmember at the Morris Hill Cemetery was great. I figured I'd only try to find a few of my relatives so I asked about the oldest one buried at Morris Hill: George Dawson Knox. George was my maternal great, great, grandfather. He was born in 1830, moved to Iowa and fought in the Civil War on the Union side as a Iowa Volunteer. After the civil war, George married my great, great grandmother, Amanda Martha Knotts in 1870. She was 20 years younger than George, born in the Shenandoa Valley of Virginia in 1850. They eventually moved to Kansas and finally Boise in 1890.

There may have been snow on George's roof, but there was fire in his furnace. He fathered six children with Amanda, including my great grandmother, Ada Janette Knox. Ada was only 17 when she ran off and married Edgar Elsworth Bush (ten years her senior). She quickly gave birth to my grandmother, Edna Letha Bush. Tragically, Ada died two years later giving birth to a Edna's baby brother (he died at birth). My grandmother (pictured below with George and Amanda) was raised by her grandparents.


I assumed that George, being a Civil War veteran, would be buried in the cemetery's "Silent Camp" dedicated to Civil War veterans. But after flipping through a huge book listing all of the cemetery residents, the cemetery worker said George wasn't buried there. Instead he was buried next to Amanda in the regular part of the cemetery on the edge of the Silent Camp. And my grandmother's grave was right next to them on the map. The Morris Hill employee circled the location on the map and told us to come back if we were having any trouble finding them (it is a 70-acre site after all).

So Tess and I set off in the pouring rain somewhat skeptical that we'd be able to find them quickly. We pulled the car next to the Silent Camp and decided to just park there and start our search. But stepping out of the car, I discovered we'd stopped right next to their graves.

I began snapping digital photos, first of George and Amanda's marker and then of my grandmother's. It wasn't until we got back to Seattle that I discovered there was something odd about some of the photos. See if you can spot what I'm talking about:



Okay, I've always been skeptical of mystical "orbs" that spirit photographers point out in so called haunted houses. I wasn't taking these photos looking for spirits. I was just documenting my ancestors for my family tree. I have to admit, though, I found this kind of odd. First I stop our car right next to the graves in cemetery with thousands of graves. Then I snap digital photos that have these glitches that you can't blame on bad processing at the Walmart.

I'll just chock it up to yet another strange, yet true episode of this mysterious journey we call life.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Trains, planes and automobiles: Redeux


I took the train south last Wednesday where Tess picked me up to head for the airport. There was wasn't any fog at Sea-Tac Airport, but Boise was socked in. Instead of catching a 9:30 p.m. plane to Boise and arriving about 11:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, we left Seattle around 12:30 a.m. and arrived in Boise after 2:30 a.m. This was after one aborted attempt at landing and then a last minute dive that got us onto the ground. Other than the near death landing, the flight was uneventful. Oh, there was the shower of water that soaked Tess from the overhead bin because some idiot left a water bottle in his bag and placed it overhead. The flight attendant gave us a coupon good for 1000 free frequent flyer miles, so it turned out okay.

We headed to the rental counter around 2:20 a.m. To my relieve, I wasn't asked if I wanted to upgrade to a larger gas guzzler for a few dollars more and avoid the embarrassment of driving around Boise in a Hyundai (although they did indeed have Hummer's for rent). Instead I was told that, since I was in so late, I'd have to drive a two-door, red Chevy Monty Carlo or something like that. It had a sunroof (a necessity in the snow).

We drove the Chevy to a hotel near Boise's airport that I booked online -- Inn America. The hotel room had a pastel print of flowers on the wall, no microwave and yes, exactly three plastic wrapped cups. I flipped on the 19-inch television and did indeed surf through 34 channels of religious programming, shopping networks and Dukes of Hazzard reruns until I reached the cooking channel. We watched a program on making the perfect turkey stuffing and went to sleep.

At about noon, we called my brother and asked him what time we should be at his house for Thanksgiving. He said dinner would be at exactly 2:30 p.m. but we could come over earlier if we wanted. We then called my 80-year old mother and offered to drive her to my brother's house for Thanksgiving, but she declined saying that she will likely want to leave early to get home and let Dutchess, her 200-pount mutt out to go to the bathroom and kill squirrels.

We'll drove to my brother's house. I had stopped at one of the open grocery stores earlier to pick up a bottle of red wine that I knew my brother wouldn't like to drink. We parked the Chevy on the street, wishing we'd rented a Hummer to impress him.

We knocked on the door and my almost grown nephew answered the door with Wiley, his shepard mix dog. Wiley looked embarrassed but didn't pee on the floor. My almost grown, nearly unrecognizable niece was no where in sight. My brother popped up. Tess and I hugged both of them and I asked my nephew to pull me finger. Tess and I then greeted my sister-in-law and Dan's mother-in-law.

Tess and my sister in law and her mother started talking about teacher stuff (all of them are elementary school teachers). I tried to help out and was handed a bowl of little smokey snack sized sausages to put on the coffee table.

My mother arrived. I hugged her and marveled that she is 80 years old and still looks better than I do. We sat down at the table next to Thanksgiving themed nametag holders Tess and I sent them a week ago. Althought I was sure my nametag would be in the turkey nametag holder, it was not. I had one of the pilgrims. This was because my sister-in-law put the tags out since my 13-year-old niece, who never made an appearance, was in her room too "sick" to come out and say hi.

My brother said grace and we all held hands. I felt awkward because I don't have a religious bone in my heathen body. Food was passed. I passed gas and blamed the dog. We told a few stories about our childhood and my nephew rolled his eyes. Half way through dinner the phone rang. It was my niece calling from her room on her cell phone asking her mother to bring her in a plate of food.

We finished dinner and I helped clear the table.

We retired to the family room where my nephew and I played electronic darts. I won and pretended it was skill.

My mother left early to go home and let the dog out. Dan's mother in law was right behind her.

Everyone else gathered in the family room to play, not Pictionary, but a new game called "Apples to Apples." It involved being given seven cards with the names of famous people and things on them. One person draws a card with a single word on it like, "Dirty." Everyone else throws down a card from their hand that they think represents that word. The closest one wins that round.

During each game, I demonstrated how verbally clever I am.
Tess and I said goodnight at 8:30 p.m. and drove back to the hotel, INN AMERICA. It finally dawns on me that "Inn America" is a play on words. Ha, Ha. Anticipating that we would be hungry and nothing would be open in Boise, I bought a bag of 50 percent less fat chips and fully-fat cheese dip that morning. We watch a rerun of the Blue Collar Comics on the Comedy Channel and go to bed.

Friday morning I woke up early longing for that continental breakfast they were serving downstairs off from the lobby. I pulled on sweats and went to fill two plates full of nasty grocery store bagels. I serve Tess breakfast in bed.

Once we showered and dressed, we drove to my mom's house and wrestled with Dutchess, her 200-pound mutt to get through the door. My mother told us about the latest squirrels Dutchess has killed. She apologized for how messy the meticulously clean house was. She offered us reheated Folgar's coffee made from powder and we politely declined since we stopped at a Starbucks on the way there. I wandered around the house I grew up in, scrutinizing faded high school prom photos of my brothers and I tacked to the walls. Tess politely talked to my mother about what tree she has trimmed in the backyard.

We took my mother to lunch at a Red Robin and instead of talking about her latest trip to the dentist, I asked her about her relatives (I'm into this genealogy thing and no, I am not a Mormon). She talked about growing up and I once again gained new respect for her. She was one of 13 kids and spent much of her childhood dodging her father's anger and living with the embarrassment of a two-bedroom shack as a home. We take my mom home and head to the cemetary to track down some of my relatives graves in the rain (another blog at another time).

We called my brother and see what time they want to go out to dinner (I always take them out for dinner the day after Thanksgiving to thank them for hosting Thanksgiving). My brother's family are like old people. They freak if they haven't eaten by 6 p.m. Tess and I drive to their house and discover my niece has made a remarkable recovery and is ready to go out to dinner with the rest of us.

We went to an Italian restaurant and discovered what food phase my niece and nephew are going through now that they are teenagers. I entertained everyone with my witty banter. I paid the check and we said our goodbyes in the parking lot.

Instead of going back to the hotel near the airport, I suprised Tess with a room at a place called the Anniversary Inn. It has themed rooms. So far we've stayed in the Mammoth Ice Cave Room and the Sultan's Palace. This time we stayed in the Mysteries of Egypt Room. There is nothing that says Romance like an Egyptian tomb.




The shower head was hidden in a cobra's mouth.




Saturday morning we flew back to Seattle.

Another Thanksgiving for the record books.