Category Archives: Behind the sofa

Drunk in San Francisco

A dreamtime post

I was back in San Francisco yesterday afternoon, doing some more volunteer work at a legal clinic. I talked to one of my favorite clients there, and older black gentleman who made his living as a door-to-door salesman. He’s one of the nicest, smoothest-talking people you’ll ever meet, and he did a great job of selling, too, until he got “downsized” about eight months before he retired from the company.

He wanted to talk with me about some legal trouble he was in, but he didn’t tell me about the charges hanging over him from when he went back to his old company one day. No, his current trouble started with a fishing trip down the river and ended in a disaster on someone’s farm. As he told his fish story, the salesman used my electronic sketch board to paint an overhead view of the farm at the bend of the river and how each thing happened in a way that led to his arrest and the confiscation of two keeper catfish.

While there wasn’t a whole lot I could do for him legally, I marveled at the quality of his drawing. “Have you ever thought about selling your drawings?” I asked the salesman.

“Naw – who’d ever buy the meager scribblings of an old, broken-down salesman?” he replied. I gave him fifty bucks for the drawing of the farm and went on my way to a pub next door to meet up with some friends.

We had dinner; we had drinks; we all moved from our table up to the bar and started joking and flirting with the bartender, and asked for a walking map of San Fran since we were planning on being too drunk to even catch a trolly. Then her Morose Stalker showed up and proceeded to drone on about what an awful day he had. We settled our bill, over-tipped, and headed out the door with our map-on-a-napkin.

We headed down a few blocks, then turned right because, according to the napkin, that’s where the bay was. We went over a hill, and sure enough, there was water – and waterfront – down there. Half-way down the hill, my idiot friends decided that the open door to the staircase going to the second floor of the All Things Occult shop was an open invitation that looked too inviting to pass up. But of course, being an idiot myself, I couldn’t very well let them go up and get into who-knows-what trouble by themselves. We got half-way up the stairs, when I turned around to say something to one of my idiot friends. And of course, I missed the door at the top of the stairs opening, and missed hearing what the woman up there said.

“We’ve been cursed!” my friend said with a drunken giggle. “What a great night!” I immediately felt ashamed of us and tried telling my friends that Circle is where a coven of witches goes to get in touch with the holy; it’s just like when they go to church.

“There’s nothing holy about witches!” one of them retorted. “They’re heathens, and they tried to curse us! That’s so cool…”

I sighed and started pushing them back down the stairs. “You’re just lucky they didn’t turn you into newts.”

We got to the downhill corner, and the other two were still arguing about the coven and weather they should go back and try to see what’s going on, and weather life as a newt or a toad would be better. I just turned the corner and kept heading down toward the bay. I came across a storefront styled as an old-west general store, complete with a porch, a hitching post, and ads in the windows for all sorts of ways to wear fancy ropework.

I heard swearing and banging from the back of the shop, so even though it was getting on toward full dark, I decided that the open door must be an invitation, and headed inside. There was a huge, burly man dressed in brown Carhart bibs, boots, and a bushy dust-filled beard chopping at an ice-filled water trough with a shovel.

“Goddamned internet!” he shouted. “Always freezing up when I’m trying to do something!”

I took a couple steps closer for a better look when the man noticed me. “What the hell do you want?”

“Well, I work in tech support, so I thought maybe I could give you a hand.” I grabbed a pick-axe leaning against the wall, and together, the burly man and I made short work of the ice.

“Well, shoot, friend, that was mighty nice of you to lend a hand. Now people’ll be able to find my store from the Interweb again.”

I waved goodbye, and headed out into the street, only to see my friends had made up their minds to use their powers for good, and were coming around the corner toward me. We had a hale reunion in the middle of the street, then headed, once again, for the waterfront.

We were on the homestretch – just a plaza to cross – when something smacked me square in the butt. I turned around to see my high school friend standing there in 19th century garb, holding her furled umbrella in a decidedly unladlylike grip.

“So, there ye are, Billy The Goat, y’ ol scoundrel,” she said in a lilting brogue. “I once spent a night in his bed,” she added in a stage whisper to her similarly-dressed friends, “as a prisoner of rape!”

I stuttered and sputtered and made a hasty departure.* And then, finally, we made it to the bay. But more importantly, to the Holiday Inn on the Bay. Ah, comfortable bed, I have come home to you.

* Here’s what I’ll say the next time I’m accosted with innuendo by a period street performance artist: “Ah, Molly ‘Iron Britches’ Malone, ‘twern’t rape, seein’ as how you were on top and I was willin’. If I remember rightly, you was wantin’ to keep on all the way from the Golden Gate to Hong Kong. Somethin’ bout bestin’ yer ol’ record. Thank God for yer exhaustion on the second day, though, when even the Captain with his cat-o-nine tails couldn’t drive you off me.

More friends (re)connecting

We (the collective, royal, carfull-of-we) went to breakfast at the Cat on Saturday, mostly because there wasn’t much non-eggy breakfast goodness in the house, and a little because I didn’t feel like washing stuff to cook. Oh, and also because they have some of the best (and not just ’cause it’s the only, either ;-)) vegetarian biscuits and gravy around. And who should I see, almost immediately on walking through the front door, but Chris. Cool!

We hung out for breakfast, and he unselfishly allowed The Boy to push his son’s buttons via the “Robot Sound” ™; Thanks, Chris, and sorry. We owe you one.

Then just yesterday, I got an e-mail out of the blue (OK, it was from Facebook) from the sister of my best friend from high school. That was cool, but even cooler, it led to me getting off my ass and writing said friend. And she even wrote back! W00t! Maybe Facebook isn’t the Devil’s own stationary, after all…

Rain, rain, go away

…or maybe not. I mean, we need you here, but you make things sooo muddy.

Hey, I have an idea: Why don’t you come do your thing at night, then
let your ol’ cuz Sol come out to play during the day? Kind of a time
share thing? Or maybe you could visit folks in the Southeast. I hear
they’d be mighty happy to see you for a week or two at a pop. Heck,
you might not even be able to wear out your welcome there, at least
for a while.

Just thinkin’ out loud, ya know?

Because I can

I’ve set up my blog to allow me to post from e-mail. Is that frickin’
sweet, or what? Now there’s no reason whatsoever for me to avoid
posting, no matter where I am. Heck, I’m so geeky-cool, I can even
post from my phone.

Three years, +/- 10 percent, in April, no less

Goddamn it! it’s that time again.

Every three years, give or take a little, I start getting restless and something usually gives. Sometimes, it’s the job that goes (witness my tenure at The Press), sometimes the house (or something with it); sometimes it’s just my attitude. Oh, and did I mention how I absolutely loathe the completely useless month of April?

My job isn’t going out the window this time around; I like it way too much. Though I do have a confession: I’ve been doing my pilot routine again. Hell, I might even get myself worked up to the point of taking lessons this time; anything’s possible. My house isn’t going out the window, either. I mean, really, who’d buy this dilapidated piece of crap, anyway?

Apparently, it’s my attitude that’s going to get the make-over this time around, then. Instead of dwelling on the nasty, muddy, wood chippy shit-hole (literally, around the dog house) that is the yard, maybe I can look at the bright side of things: Wow, that rabbit has gotten really fat and juicy-looking by eating our apple tree and tulips.

Huge props, muchas gracias, and *thank you!*

I’ve been long overdue with this letter of thanks to my Elmers that I sent out this morning. I’m posting it here as a reminder to you to says “thanks!” to someone who’s made a difference in your life lately.

It occurred to me this morning that I’ve been a ham for almost a year
now, and I owe almost all of that to you guys. The three of you have
been mentors, trouble shooters, a cheering section, whip-crackers, and
equipment sources for me since even before I first got licensed, and
you’ve kept that up even when I’ve been absent from the airwaves for
weeks at a time, absorbed in the rest of my life.

I want to let you three know how much I appreciate all your help and
encouragement, and to tell you that I’m the ham that I am today in
large part because of your guidance. I just hope that when it’s my
turn to mentor someone, I can do half the job you all have done with

My sincere thanks, and 73!

AJ’s new toy

I’ll give you some hints: it’s electronic (there’s a big surprise, right?), it’s sexy black, and could potentially fit perfectly in the entertainment center. And it’s not an XBox.

Give up?

Meet my new radio. I’ve been kind of dancing around it for about the last three months while I’ve been dancing around ham radio as a whole.

In the last month, though, every time I’ve talked with someone about my involvement in radio, I keep hearing myself say “I love the technology and the public service opportunities, but get frustrated by some of the people.” Finally, it clicked for me: If I give up, then the forces of darkness other people win. If every time someone new comes to ham radio, all they interact with are grouchy uber-geeks, then that’s they only kind of person that’ll be in ham radio. So I’m going to try to amplify the friendly, useful faces of ham radio around here. We’ll see how it goes.

And that brings me to the new radio. Another local ham* upgraded one of his radios, so he had one to sell. He gave me a great deal (yes, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse ;-)), and the radio is in pristine condition. For those of you who speak ham, it’s an HF+50MHz rig. For those of you who don’t speak ham, think medium and short wave, plus a little. Once I get my antenna repaired (and no, honey, I’m not going on the roof until you get home), I’ll be able to talk regionally (100-500 miles), across the country (500-2,500 miles), and around the world (do the math), depending on conditions. I’m pretty stoked!

A Note on the Ham Community

The guy I bought my radio from is a super-friendly guy, just like almost all of the hams I’ve had the good fortune to meet. There are only a couple of “pain-in-the-ass apples” out there in the ham ranks, but they’re louder than most of us regular apples. Most of us are just geeky people playing with geeky toys, and that’s cool.

The Big Snip

My balls are achy, and still oozing a little blood and pus. And that’s a good thing. Sort of…

I got a vasectomy on Thursday. I tried to schedule it for Friday so I’d only have to celebrate that anniversary once every four years, but no such luck. The Wife and I feel extremely lucky to have two wonderful boys, and we’re also pretty damn sure they’re all the peeps we want to bring into the world. Down the road, if we want to expand our family, we’ll look at adopting some kid(s) who needs a good home.

And that, gentle reader, is the end of today’s testicle update. Pictures tomorrow. As you were.