Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Real Work Conversations: Out to Lunch

Me: "Okay, I'm going to lunch. If I'm not back in an hour... call the President."

Me, a moment later: "On second thought, the President's an idiot. Don't call the President. Call..."

Me: "Ummmm..."

Co-worker: "Yeah, I'm not coming up with anybody up there that I'd care to call, either."

Me: "National Guard. If I'm not back in an hour, call the National Guard. They can probably still figure out how to get things done."

Co-worker: "Deal."

My filter is just gone, y'all. It's sailed off to the Caribbean and I don't think it's coming back.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Annnd we're back

We've gone on the Great Family Odyssey to Tennessee, and returned alive if not entirely unscathed. Though we tried to squeeze as much vacation out of it as possible, this has definitely been more of a family gathering than an actual vacation. And it's been a curious mix of splendid fun and horrifying ordeal. And I may come back and explain all that, but...

It's Sunday night.
We just got in today at about four o'clock.
My head hurts.
I have no energy.
I have no brain.
I really need about three days to recuperate and get everything back in order.
I have to be at work tomorrow.

Whuf.

On top of everything else, I have this jagged little cut/bruise/thing on my forehead. (I'll be delighted to tell you any number of fanciful stories about how I got it. My personal favorite is the one about the rogue packs of mutant grizzly bear that roam the Arkansas hills, and how I had to head-butt one of them while they were trying to climb in through the window of our fourth-floor hotel room.) I suppose it might look cool if I was younger, but somehow "The Middle-Aged Man Who Lived" just doesn't have the same cachet, y'know?

Anyway...

Here's a picture of the boys in the one cave we managed to visit:


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Under The Waterfall...

So, we took the boys hiking...


When we got down to the waterfall... No, let me back up a little bit. It's a decent hike, but the waterfall itself is one of those places that figures prominently in both my personal history and my even-more-personal mental landscape. The water comes out between two layers of sandstone, and tumbles down to an intermediate shelf, and then falls down another thirty feet or so into a pit and vanishes. There's no stream leading to it; there's no stream leading away from it. The water appears at the top, drops, then drops again and disappears.

Moreover, if you've followed the trail down then you've likely come out facing it from the intermediate level, but on the far side of the pit. So there you are, firmly on the earth, watching a waterfall that begins Above and ends Below. It has a very World Tree feel for me; it always has. It feels like it's connecting the realms, or at least it should be.

So when we got there, the boys took a few minutes to admire it, then noticed the little hole off to the far side: the one that looks like it would allow you to get down into the pit without having to scale wet limestone walls. Which is... mostly true. Naturally, they asked if they could go down there. Which was... mostly possible.

So I climbed down myself, making strategic use of a couple of logs that had fallen (or been shoved) into the hole. Then I had the boys ease over the edge so that I could grab them and lower them down.

Then they proceeded down the slope to the bottom of the pit.



All of this went perfectly well. We found a frog down there, and then a turtle. I even had them stop and pose for a picture together.


Then, we climbed back up. Well... Sort of.


The thing is, neither of them is tall enough to reach the holds needed to get back out. So I took Secondborn, showed him where to put his foot when he was high enough, and lifted him back up to the shelf, until he could find some handholds and push up with that foot. Then I grabbed Firstborn, who is substantially heavier; he ended up using my shoulder as a step, which was basically fine. Then it was time to get myself back out.

This was... more of a challenge. The handholds and footholds are there. Getting myself positioned so that I could use the ones I needed took a bit of preparation. Actually hauling/pushing myself out with them required what we used to call "a metric fuck-ton" of effort. So while I'd been doing fine on the hike itself, this was the strain that let me know that I'd finally really overdone it.

But, I made it out. Then I sat on a fallen log for about five minutes while my heart rate slowed, my breathing caught up, and my energy made half-hearted promises about someday coming back to me. I sat there with my head swimming and my guts hurting in that peculiar way that overexertion sometimes brings. It didn't help that I was at a higher altitude than I'd been in quite some time, or that the air was a lot more humid than I was acclimated to; but if we're being completely honest, neither of those things would have been much of a problem if I wasn't forty-mumble-mumble years old and if my cardio wasn't so bad. But I sat, and I recovered, and after a few minutes we started back towards the head of the trail.

The hike back up was almost, but not quite, entirely uphill.

Yeah.

Firstborn, meanwhile, for reasons that deserve a blog post of their very own, made the entire hike without needing a break and was ready for more at the end of it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Puerto Rico As Our 51st State

It seems that Puerto Rico has voted in favor of statehood. This is going to be a contentious issue, for several reasons. First up is that while the vote was overwhelmingly in favor -- like, 97% in favor -- only 23% of the population turned out to vote. (That's low enough to make state-dwelling American voters seem positively civic-minded by comparison.) Secondarily, Puerto Rico can't simply declare itself a full state; that has to be approved by Congress, and the sheer amount of crass political calculation that will go into such a decision staggers the imagination.

Possibly the biggest problem, though, is this: even if those hurdles were overcome, where would we put the fifty-first star on the flag? I mean, right now we're all neat rows of little white stars. An additional star would totally throw off the arrangement.

Well, I can't help with either of the first two issues, but I do have a solution for the big one. Here's my design for our brand new flag, one which would incorporate all fifty-one states and make a clear statement to the international community about who we are as a nation. In an excess of humility, I have decided to call it New Glory:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Tale From The Borderlands...

Right, so:

One of the funny little things that I enjoyed about Borderlands 2 is that at various obscure points in the landscape, you find spots where the inhabitants of Pandora have set out chairs in improbable places: beside lakes full of threshers, on the edges of cliffs... it's just such a bizarre-and-yet-believable thing for people to do.

So... What did I find today, whilst exploring the area where we're currently staying (which is on the edge of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, if I failed to mention that earlier)? You guessed it:
I mean, I didn't see any threshers, but then we found this:
...So I'm thinking I should make sure I've equipped my best shield and a good array of weaponry in case of bandit attacks... or in case we find a Vault.