Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Maybe it's a case of F.H.B. (family hold back).

I have no furniture in my office. My computer, my phone, and I are on the floor. My files and supplies are in boxes in two other rooms. My furniture is waiting.

Because of our aformentioned (9/17/09) flooding, my carpet developed an odor. Last Wednesday (9/23/09), the housekeeping manager said her crew would clean my carpet after lunch. She told me this during lunch. After lunch, I shoved things randomly in boxes, and my crew shoved boxes and desks and chairs where they could find space in two other offices and the break room. (Meanwhile, two housekeepers were sitting around, waiting for us.)

On Thursday, the carpet was dry, but the housekeepers didn't come back for their fans, so I left them running. I selected two tables out of storage that I'd rather have in my office (partly because I think they'll be lighter, in case my crew ever needs to hurriedly move them again) and let Froggy know, since the furniture movers are on his crew.

On Friday, I shut off the fans and left them in my office, and the housekeepers still didn't pick them up. Froggy told me his movers were still busy picking up items bought at the auction of a closed school, and maybe they could take my old desks up to storage and bring the new ones down on Monday.

On Saturday, I figured that 2.5 days of voice mails and e-mails had built up, so I reconnected my phone and computer -- on the floor. It then proceeded to rain, another massive downpour with lightning, so I didn't get to turn on the equipment after all.

Yesterday, I reviewed the voice and e-mails. Froggy told me, "Maybe tomorrow," for the desks because his crew is busy preparing for Reunion Week (this week) and asked if I had notified the property manager that I wanted to remove two items from and add two items to inventory.

Meanwhile, I can't get any real work done because everything's in boxes. "Why haven't you ordered your grass seed yet?" Because my notes are in a box somewhere. "Why haven't you submitted your monthly report yet?" Because my notes are in a box somewhere. "Why don't you know when Fall Break is?" Because my school calendar is in a box somewhere. "Why can't you print out this e-mail and hand it to your employee?" Because my printer is out of paper, and the rest is in a box somewhere.

All I know is, if this had happened to a real person on campus, s/he would've been back in his/her office before quitting time on Friday. I guess I'm just a facilities dork who doesn't matter.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's a Neighborly Day in this Beautywood

Just wanted to pop in to my office and tell you that, after so much rain, we're finally having good weather! It's in the upper 70's with a stiff breeze and just a few clouds. It's a perfect day to set up a hammock under a campus tree and read a good book in the shade.

And a beer. A beer would be nice. A cold, frosty one at my elbow. (Would you fluff my pillow, please?)

A snack would go well with this book. How about some dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses? Hmm, need something to balance the sweetness. Cheetos and dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses. That sounds too much like dessert. How about a cheesesteak, some Cheetos, and some dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses?

A hammock, a book, a beer, a cheesesteak, some Cheetos, and some Hershey's Kisses. Yeah, that sounds right. About the only thing that could make this afternoon any better would be an orgasm. I don't suppose...?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

If I were an investigative journalist, I would have used a rake.

I hope it wasn't reverse psychology, because I'll be peeved if the maintenance manager, whom I will call Froggy, fully intended me to clear out the drain for him. He claims it has "always" been stopped up and that I'd "never" get it cleared out. Hence why yesterday morning found me shoveling muck.

After an hour of shoveling and then pumping water, I found the drain's outlet and started digging into it, but I never had a chance to break through the clog because, after lunch, I spotted an artesian well coming out of the hillside next to the dining hall, where there had never been one before. Yes, it was definitely one of those days.

An employee and I dug and found a shattered PVC pipe whose pieces indicated it was at least 6" diameter, far too large to be an irrigation pipe -- and the employee pointed out that there was no irrigation at that site anyway. I couldn't convince Froggy of that. Even after he sent over the plumber, after the plumber shut off the closest irrigation backflow preventer "just in case", after the plumber got the backhoe to try to find the other end of the broken pipe (which we hadn't found by quitting time), and even after Froggy himself finally came to the site to see for himself and realize the pipe was supposed to connect up to the storm drain over yonder, he kept using the word "irrigation" and wondering what I was going to do.

I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'll continue helping. I'll continue learning. I'll make suggestions that logic (in place of any relevant experience) brings to my mind. I'll continue resisting Froggy's insistence that anything he doesn't want to do is my crew's responsibility. That's what I'll do.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quack-quack, Waddle-waddle

Chattanooga has had rain every day since Wednesday. (Although the school didn't get any on Friday, I saw it had rained downtown, as I drove through on the way to my cheesesteak.) It is raining right now. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, too.

I'm not sure what I can do with my crew. It's almost too wet to walk on the grass, let alone run a mower over it. It brings to mind the old McDonald's commercial with little girls from a camp, all wearing yellow raincoats and rubber boots (wellies), being taken to McDonald's because their camp is running out of ideas to entertain them. The girls sing a little camp chant they made up.

We are Nippersinkers.
We're in luck.
If it rains all week,
Just pretend you're a duck.
Quack-quack, waddle-waddle.
(repeat and fade)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Splish, Splash

It rained quite a bit yesterday. (Every time one of my employees would start to stripe a field for football practice, a downpour ensued.) It must have rained even more last night. The shop area, where my employees' break room and tool room are, has water all over the floor, and the carpeted hallway in the office area squishes. Out on campus, I saw dirt and pebbles on many of the sidewalks and streets. I can hardly wait to see what the rest of the day brings.

Update (3:14 p.m. EDT) - According to the rain gauge at the construction site on campus, we had an inch and a half of rain yesterday and four more inches overnight. According to eyewitnesses (i.e. people who stay up to all hours of the night), it poured around 11 p.m. We suspect our shop was flooded because we are at the low end of campus, right next to the retention pond. The pond must have flooded because the boat stored upside down on the concrete spillway, which is a good three feet over the two storm drains, was shifted, and the life vests stored underneath were moved, too. I'm glad I live on the second floor of a house and that it's built on the high end of the block.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Twenty-five Years On

I was pondering the breakup of A.T. & T. during one of my morning walks, did a bit of online research, and was surprised to discover it has already been 25 years since what was considered, at that time, a disaster. Some people still hold grudges about it, telephones now are pieces of crap, and customer service doesn't exist any more, but it's not all bad.

What if A.T. & T. had been allowed to remain the country's sole (lined) telephone provider? Would it have survived the rise of cellular phone competition? Would it have survived e-mail? Would it have survived the 2008 financial mess? What if "destroying" the company actually made it more competitive and responsive, thus eliminating a slow and painful slide into bankruptcy?

Ironically, A.T. & T. now serves nearly half of its original market (21 states out of the 48 shown on this map; Alaska and Hawaii seem to have been forgotten). I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

If you want to eat out on a Sunday in Chattanooga, call first to see if the restaurant is open. It will save me (as your chauffeur) a lot of bother. The restaurant I wanted to try downtown was closed. My alternate new restaurant was closed. The Chattanooga Choo-Choo requires reservations. That probably also means I need to wear a tie. Heck, I was lucky to even be wearing pants. (Er, I mean, I wasn't in shorts that day.) The next two restaurants were closed, as well -- five restaurants in a four square block area not open. (That professor never mentioned having a Plan F.) I fell back on the Terminal Brewhouse, but I'm running out of menu items which interest me. Of course, I could always go just for the beer...

Speaking of which, do you recall my rant (7/19/09) about not being able to purchase alcohol on a Sunday morning? Well, as I drove to my Ruby Falls/Rock City/Incline
adventure earlier that day, I passed by an adult entertainment store, and it was open. I can't buy booze or eat out, but I can buy porn at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday!

Labor Day was calmer with far less frustration. I wasn't awakened at an indecent hour by partying neighbors. I walked my laps without being interrupted by rain. I arrived at the Chattanooga Zoo half an hour after opening, and there were just five other cars in the lot, so I knew it wouldn't be crowded. I figured I could enjoy a leisurely stroll being gawked at by the animals, and surely the restaurant I had selected for lunch would be open by 11 a.m.

I had been warned by a coworker that the zoo was "lame". I thought it was nice -- not great, but nice. They have good intentions, but I could tell they're working on a small budget. (The Philadelphia or Lincoln Park zoos it ain't.) I looked at every exhibit. I read every sign (even the emergency response signs at the entrances of every indoor exhibit, telling firemen if there are any hazardous materials or critters in the building). I watched every animal that was moving and searched displays for those who might be hiding (more of the chimps were outside than inside). I even threatened an African Crowned Crane, or I aroused it; I'm not sure which. (It stretched out its neck, spread its wings, and walked back and forth in front of me. Either it was trying to make itself look bigger because it felt threatened by my height, or it was thinking, "Ooh! That's a tall one, and he's prettier than my mate. May I have him instead?") Speaking of mating, does any of you (Yeah, I know that sounds awkward, but it's grammatically correct.) know if late summer is mating season for turtles and tortoises? Either I have an unfortunate habit of visiting the turtle/tortoise display during mating season, or my pheromones were so darn strong that day that more than one other species was made to feel amorous. Anyhoo...

I saw all the exhibits. I also paid a buck to be the solo rider of the Endangered Species Carousel (I chose the snow leopard). I chatted with the attendant (I have a knack with elderly women; I always have.) and learned that the workings of the carousel date back to 1927, that it was found in a barn in the Carolinas, and that the animal seats (no two are the same species) were newly carved especially for the zoo. (I also got music from the real calliope, not the stereo loudspeaker recording that the whiny kids after me got. Ha!) I looked at every gewgaw in the gift shop and bought a stuffed owl (while learning "owl" is chouette in French and buho in Spanish) and two owl bookmarks. I looked at my watch. WTF? After all that touristy stuff, I was there less than an hour and a half? Yes, it is that small a zoo.

I got to Master Blasters BBQ (and got that infernal song stuck in my head for two days after that) just before eleven, but I knew they'd be open because their sign out front said, "Open Labor Day". (Oddly enough, the sign on the door, with their regular hours, said they're normally closed on Mondays.) The wife of the couple waiting with me was more inquisitive and looked around back. "Oh, we don't open until twelve on holidays," the owner explained when he came up front, but he did give us take-home menus so we could prepare our minds and stomachs during the next hour. The verdict? The pork shoulder sandwich was okay. I prefer to rate barbecue by the establishment's spare ribs, but they're too hard to eat while reading (at least if you care about not getting barbecue sauce on the pages), so I settle for a mystery meat sandwich, and it's so smothered in sauce anyway, you can't even taste the meat. I was the only customer who ate there; all the others (the couple who showed up at eleven with me, and a bunch of others who apparently knew enough not to come until noon) bought take-away. The owner's wife had Lifetime Movie Network on the television.

That was the end of my Weekend of Adventure. I spent the rest of the day reading and playing computer games. I was a bit tired, but if you come visit, I'll save enough energy to continue on to the Creative Discovery Museum, the Aquarium, or one of the Civil War battlefields in the area. Just let me know when you're coming, so I can make reservations.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tall or Handicapped Persons, Stay Home

As I left Ruby Falls, the rain had stopped, but that wasn't much comfort as I wound through more twists and turns on the way further up Lookout Mountain. I thought I might be getting delirious from the dizzying curves because the road signs seemed to have names from fairy tales or other children's stories. Yet, the signage directing me to Rock City was excellent. (I wonder how many years of giving directions to lost tourists it took before someone thought of all those sign posts.)

I haven't read through the site's whole web page, but it might give a more concise history of Rock City. The place, incidentally, is named for unusual and wonderful limestone formations which were far more interesting than the plants -- well, except for that huge Nyssa sylvatica (Sweet Gum, Black Gum, Tupelo) which utterly dwarfed the one next to our driveway in Cherry Hill. First, I learned that Mrs. Frieda Carter wound string around the property to lay out the path she wanted visitors to take. Then I learned that she and her husband, Garnet, built their house two years after the garden was opened to the public. Then I learned that she planned the surrounding community to have nursery rhyme names. That was one mystery solved, and perhaps the backwards nature of planning the garden, house, and neighborhood extends until the present day and the disjointed retelling of the site's history. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for not naming me after a rock, like Ruby and Garnet's parents did!)

Unlike in Ruby Falls, Rock City actually had hand railings every place they were needed. The stone steps and paths were slippery from the recent rains, and I pondered how many visitors such as my mother or friend Gimpy wouldn't be able to enter and enjoy the site, even on dry, sunny days. Then I walked through Needle's Eye, a path deliberately leading between two very close, massive limestone boulders. Fat people beware; this place is narrower than the "Weight Watchers Alley" in Ruby Falls. Tall people such as myself are inconvenienced at Goblin's Underpass (Do Chattanoogans enjoy luring tourists with unusual rocks and caves then inconveniencing them by making them stoop all the time?). Disabled people probably should avoid the Swing-along Bridge. I did, but that's because I preferred the nice, solid Stone Bridge rather than a rope one that wobbles and wavers and threatens to pitch you into the chasm. (Give me a nice, stable floor and railings you can't see through any day!) Then, all three categories are almost prevented from passing through the appropriately named Fat Man's Squeeze. This corridor was so narrow, I had to walk through sideways (due to my brawny shoulders, ahem), and I also had to stoop because the rocks were too close together at my altitude to fit my big, fat head (now humbled, ahem) between them. I nearly crawled through on my hands and knees. (All this, by the way, is at the bottom of the steps shown in the picture link.) I presume that average or short adults and children would have no problem here. Lord only knows if the two tubbies who were in my tour group at Ruby Falls (and who overloaded the elevator -- honest!) came here, but they never would have made it through (well, not without dynamite). This is why I nearly bought the T-shirt (quite reasonably priced at just $16) "I survived Fat Man's Squeeze."

Incidentally, I did see one of the other tall people from my Ruby Falls group here at Rock City, as well as that Japanese tour group that was behind us in the cavern. I know it was the same group because of the woman who looked like a Japanese Jackie Kennedy and who spoke English very well, which I learned as we puzzled over the garden map to see if there was a quicker way she could get to the exit.

At Lover's Leap, one is supposedly able to view seven states (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi) on a clear day. Thanks to the clouds -- er, fog, since they were below me -- I couldn't even see Chattanooga, except for a strip mall with a turquoise colored, metal roof. I doubt the claim is possible even on a sunny day, since it is always so humid here that I consider no day clear enough to see that far away.

The 1,000 Ton Balanced Rock is just another big rock by this point (and how did they weigh it then rebalance it in the first place?).

I did enjoy the passage through Fairyland Caverns. A long, winding tunnel through more rock (but this time with ample headroom) takes you by little rooms carved into the stone, with vignettes of fairy tales (yes, the mining seven dwarves are there) and nursery rhymes depicted by wooden figures illuminated by ultraviolet light. I remember seeing something just like this when I was a kid. Then, as now, I thought it was kind of stupid but kind of neat at the same time. (Nuboss calls it "kitschy".) You have to bring your kids here so they can think the same thing. Plus, they won't have to bend over to look through the openings. (Darn it! Got me again!)

The passage culminates in Mother Goose Village, the underground ultraviolet equivalent (Wouldn't "Ultraviolet Equivalent" be a good name for a rock band?) of a massive toy train display. The trail takes you around the perimeter of a large room loaded with even more wooden depictions of nursery rhymes (with pictorial signs that help identify which nursery rhyme you didn't necessarily recognize at first, and which frequently have incorrect lyrics shown), while your ears are bombarded with loudly played singing of said nursery rhymes, some of which are not in English. Either that, or the darkness and ultraviolet lighting (which caused my shoelaces, but not so much my white leather sneakers nor my light gray T-shirt, to glow, something which never ceases to enthrall me) had so disoriented me that I was listening in tongues. By the time I made the circuit of the room, I was so stoned that I couldn't tell if I was glad to leave or tempted to go around again. Hmm, maybe that's why the T-shirt prices at the gift shop (the final stop, immediately after Mother Gooseland) seemed so reasonable. I'm lucky I didn't go into the restaurant, or the munchies would have caused me to order an overpriced burger.

Next stop: the Incline Railway. How to get there: twist partway back down the mountain, then turn sideways and twist some more. Then learn that the "small" fee for parking mentioned on the web page is parking meters (a dollar an hour). Then fret that you have only two quarters in your pocket, and hope that a half hour is enough. Then read the sign that says the ticket you bought ahead of time isn't the right one and that you have to go to the ticket booth to exchange it. Then be told by the grumpy man in the ticket booth to read the other sign (which happens to be behind you, out of the viewing range of most normal people), which says to slide your ticket into a ticket machine (thus making the ticket booth irrelevant in the first place, not to mention making the instructional signs superfluous at best and incorrect at worst) and get a replacement ticket (which ends up being far less colorful but which has two tabs, one to be torn off prior to each half of your visit, to make sure you're not so giddy about the experience to get through it again without paying). Then get confused because the machine's instructions don't tell you that the slot where other visitors put paper money to buy their ticket on site is also the slot where you're supposed to put your prepurchased ticket (face down, with the bar code facing up). Then get in line behind a family with seven children (equally split between girls and boys), ranging from one year (or less) to about thirteen, and discover that, just like when you were that age, girls that age are incapable of not talking, especially when there's an audio description being played on the car's speakers that might make the descent a little more interesting and distract you from the 72 degree grade you're hoping the cables successfully take you down (or up, on your return trip). Then emerge from the railcar, thinking, "Is that all? I got gypped!". Then say, "Aha! There's Mr. T's Pizza across the street (right in front of that strip mall with the turquoise colored, metal roof). I can kill two birds with one stone by eating lunch and not having to navigate Chattanooga's streets at another time to find this interestingly named restaurant. Plus, I won't have to find out what obscene price they're charging for a funnel cake in the gift shop." Then be followed into the pizzeria by the same family of yapping dogs -- er, children -- who, out of all the vacant tables in the place, decide to pull together the two tables next to yours and repeatedly bump into your chair as they get seated then run outside to talk to their friend on their cell phone, then sit down again, then run back outside... (you get the picture). Then grumble to yourself that all you want is a little peace and quiet to read your book while you wait an interminable amount of time for them to prepare your pizza (Did they grind the flour themselves?) and consider assaulting the children with said book -- except that you don't condone abuse to innocent books. Then eat your pizza quickly (not bad, but not worth seeking out again) and race back across the street so you can get your return trip uphill before the family does. Then emerge from the railcar, turn down the offer of buying your photo (I didn't shell out 25 bucks to do it at Ruby Falls, where the backdrop was an anonymous rock that you claim was underground, so I'm not going to do it here, where the backdrop was a green screen that you could turn into any scenery behind me.), check the time on your cell phone, and fret that standing in line, and waiting for pizza, and eating said pizza, and standing in line again, made your half-hour parking meter overdue by an hour. Then revel in utter bliss because, after all that frustration, you do not have a parking ticket, and you now get to go home!

A note to my friends who are reading this travelogue and certainly must be navigating in another window to buy tickets to Chattanooga as soon as possible: You will -- I repeat, will -- go to all three of these tourist traps in one day, because I sure as heck ain't gonna drive these curvy roads more than I have to -- and as tempting as the winter light show sounds at Rock City, I don't want to attempt those twists and turns in the dark. (I'm just glad my mom wasn't in the car, or she'd have been making all sorts of troubling, disturbed [and disturbing] noises as she looked out the window and down the mountainside.) I do offer one alternative: we can go to the Incline Railway on a separate trip. That way, we could park for free and eat at Mr. T's (or another restaurant, whose name I can't remember now, also conveniently located at the bottom of the incline) and complete our round trip up and down in a shorter amount of time.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Get Around

I spent a busy weekend. I played tourist, seeing many things on less than optimal sleep. However, I now know how to get all those places you'll want to go when you come to visit, and if they're worth visiting in the first place.

Friday night, I had my weekly cheesesteak at Tubby's and determined that the onion rings, like the fries, are nothing special and that, even as small as I consider the cheesesteaks, two are too much for me any more. I don't need the extra calories anyway, so next week I'll get just one and a Dr. Pepper and be done with it.

Also that night, my cell phone rang just an hour after I went to bed. I didn't recognize the number, so I figured it was a misdial and ignored it. Half an hour later, now having trouble falling back asleep, thanks to a party (the third one this week) going on on the front porch of the house kittycorner across the street, I heard a double gong. As I have no windchimes and no doorbell, I was ready to grouse at the neighbors. A minute later, the gongs again. I got up and peeked out the front window. Naturally, I didn't hear them again.

I finally cottoned on to the idea that it might have been my cell. phone. It was indeed: two text messages from the same number, but without a signature. I called the number and asked if someone there had called. It turns out it was my neighbor across the street (a fellow employee in another department). She wanted me to phone the police and register a noise complaint because the neighbors were keeping her awake, and she needed to go to work in the morning. As I, too, was disturbed (although I had not set my alarm and did not need to report to work), I obliged. The noise eventually stopped, and I, further eventually, fell asleep.

I "slept in" Saturday morning. (I won't tell you at what obscenely early hour I awoke, but it was 50 minutes after my usual rising time.) I played some computer games, fixed my weekly breakfast burrito, and headed out to my weekend of adventure. I drove to the Chattanooga Nature Center, which is coupled with Reflection Riding Arboretum. (I agree; it sounds more like a horse place.)

The nature center offers displays of local wildlife, a poorly stocked gift shop, a canoe rental facility, and a "perch" for which you will pay $35.00 per night for the privilege of sleeping on a hard, wooden floor of a screen porch and a cubicle with what passes for toilet facilities. I could stay home and open my windows, lie on a fairly comfortable bed, use indoor plumbing, and save 35 bucks. Oh, wait; I already do that!

The arboretum is called a "riding" because they expect you to sit in your car and drive on a 3.5 mile gravel path. At this time of year, you wouldn't have missed anything. It probably is more attractive in the spring (with flowers abloom) or in the autumn (with colorful leaves). Still, I got some exercise by walking the road and reading the minuscule signs that identified precious few of the plants. I also encountered five joggers but just two cars. I considered it primitive, but I am used to carefully planned and designed botanical gardens, rather than a more natural presentation, as this was. Plus, I am so domesticated that this was about as much "nature" as I could handle, so I wasn't disappointed to leave.

To continue my adventure, I drove northeast of Chattanooga to the town of Hixson. I intended to eat lunch at Funky Monkey Pizza, which I eventually determined was inside the Northgate Mall. Or not. The brand-new phone book listed it. Even the mall's directory listed it. It, however, did not exist. Now, having discarded the map for Plan B before I even left home (since there is a more local branch of Lupi's, the backup pizza experiment), I resorted to Plan C, a franchise in the mall called Shane's Rib Shack: a decent BBQ chicken sandwich, and the fries went surprisingly well with the BBQ sauce. (Note to self: the "always have a plan b" advice from that college professor comes in useful far more frequently than I ever anticipated.)

The mall itself was a disappointment. It was surprisingly uncrowded for a holiday weekend, although there was the requisite dominant ratio of teenage girls to the rest of humanity. For those of you who know about malls (I, myself, was raised in Cherry Hill, NJ, home of the first shopping mall east of the Mississippi River and second indoor shopping mall ever -- the first is the Mall of America [which, incidentally, my father visited as a college student, while it was under construction] -- so I know malls, as much as I loathe them), it wasn't much. It was a bit smaller than the Mesilla Valley Mall in Las Cruces, NM, so you should have low expectations, but at least it was bigger than the Manalapan Mall in Middle-of-nowhere, NJ, which was nothing more than a rectangle and which you could see the entirety of from the entrance.

I had dessert at Nana's Frozen Custard in Hixson and was utterly delighted by the Freeze Tag and tempted by many other choices. Thankfully, Hixson is enough of a drive to deter me from visiting Nana's repeatedly and regaining all that weight I lost in the past year. Still, if you were to ask, I wouldn't say no to driving you there...

Sunday began in much the same way as Saturday, but there was no party across the street, and I slept in for an hour and ten minutes. I started my first lap around the track, and the heavens opened. I made it to my office (where I was going to go after my laps anyway) and researched my day's plans. That done, and rain over for the moment, I returned to the track and finished my exercise -- just in time for more rain to fall. I decided to press on with my Weekend of Adventure because, after all, Ruby Falls is underground and would be utterly unaffected by the rain.

To save you asking (although the web page does explain it and has some wonderful pictures), there indeed is an underground waterfall (154 feet high). It was named for the discoverer's wife, Ruby. The water is red only when the red lights are shone (shined?) on it. The entrance to the cavern, once you exit the speedy elevator, is Leo's (the discoverer's) Passage. I did not remark aloud that, after so many people using it for so many years, Leo must be plum worn out. The entrance and gift shop stocked, according to the guide, with "quality, local souvenirs" (shot glasses from all 50 states are local to Chattanooga?) are in an Irish replica castle made with limestone excavated from the tunnel. The top of the castle is an observation deck, which gave me a bit of acrophobia to climb because of minimal railings, which wouldn't help me if I slipped because they were as wet from the rain as the stairs. I'm not normally phobic, but after spending half of the cavern tour stooped over to keep from bashing my head on the limestone, since people were a lot shorter back when they carved this place -- although the tour group after us, comprised entirely of a Japanese tour group, seemed to have no problem -- I was a bit jittery.


Friday, September 04, 2009

He hasn't got a prayer.

According to the official school athletics calendar, our varsity football team plays against Pope John Paul II -- not a high school named after him, his holiness himself -- tonight. What do you think the chances are between a team of young, athletic men and a used, slightly dead pontiff?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Case of the Noticeably Subtle Neighbor

Last Thursday night/Friday morning, I was awakened by one of my neighbors playing music in the middle of the night. I couldn't tell if it was next door or one of the guys downstairs, and I wasn't about to climb out of bed and get dressed just to go outside and see if whose lights were on, although they could be off anyway, so I wouldn't really learn anything for all that effort. The next morning, I observed an unexpected car in the street, so I thought, "Hmm, my next door neighbor (whom I will call Pinocchio) must have had a guest last night." (The car had Georgia plates and a parking sticker from a college I've never heard of, but there were no other clues to the identity of the owner.)

Saturday night/Sunday morning, I was awakened by music at 2:50 a.m., which lasted until 3:30 a.m. (long enough for an album, if anyone besides me listens to CD's any more). "Oho!" I thought, "I wonder if Pinocchio's guest is a lady friend and he's trying to mask any conspicuous noises." I was quite cranky then, since I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get my laps in before heading for breakfast first thing (7 a.m.) at Aretha Frankenstein's, to beat the crowds. The last thing I needed was my sleep interrupted by someone who was getting some. When I went for my laps in the morning, I saw no car outside, so I figured Pinocchio's guest didn't stick around this time.

At 11:00 that morning, I was nodding off and decided to take a nap, but the music was on again. Thankfully, it didn't last long. Half an hour later, Pinocchio and a young woman exited his apartment and left in his big honkin' SUV. "Aha!" said the Brainy Smurf side of me. "I was right!" I lay down and, woefully, could not fall asleep, but the hour of rest still got me through the remainder of the day.

So now, I ask your advice, gentle readers. How do I inform Pinocchio that he either needs to cut out the middle-of-the-night music or find a quieter girlfriend?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


As I walked my laps this morning, I pondered some more about mascots. I thought about creating a Masco fashion line with stylish T-shirts which everyone would clamor to wear (Masco T's). They would feature a cartoonified honeybee (but different enough from Georgia Tech's mascot to avoid a lawsuit). Somehow, I would create the bee shirts so that the wearers would do whatever I want (you know, drones).

Then I realized it has already been attempted, in different ways. In Doctor Who, humans were controlled by those annoying cell phone earpieces that so many people have, and Pinky & the Brain had two episodes ("Chia Earth", in which everyone got a free T-shirt, and "Calvin Brain", where supermodel Pinky touted the Subjugation perfume and fashion line). None of those plans worked. On the other hand, an evil being certainly could review those plots, fix the flaws, and come up with a foolproof plan, couldn't one?

Incidentally, if you do a Google search for Chia Earth, you might come up with this tidbit, which compares "The Apocalypse of Abraham" with "Chia Earth".