Quick Hits

Another day in which I have a little to say about a lot…


First was the radio show, but I wanted to highlight that one so I gave it its own post.  Because really, there otherwise wasn’t enough to say about it (yet) that merited a separate post.  But wtf, right?


I walked into the office today after working elsewhere yesterday, and there were a couple of big huge boxes in the entry hall.  I was thinking, “wtf?  What the heck did they have delivered that came in boxes that big?”  Then a few steps farther and there was one outside MY office.  “WTF?”  Then I took a step into my office, and “oooOOOOoooh!”

Our new office chairs had been delivered.

Man, is my wife gonna hate me.


Speaking of the office, after some debate, I’ve started taking my guitar to work again.  Last time it worked pretty well for both giving me good, uninterrupted practice time and for relieving some stress – let’s hope it works as well this time around.  I can at least say that after spending a good 50 minutes running through scales today, my left hand is burning.  In other words, it’s been WAY too long since I practiced.

Also?  I’ve had this guitar (my Gibson, second from the left in this picture) for over 15 years, and it still reeks of the cigarettes its previous owner smoked.  After I’ve tried all kinds of things – leaving it out of the case, leaving the case open in sunlight all day, putting incense in the case (while the guitar wasn’t in it so the oils wouldn’t stain the wood), you name it.  Still smells like smoke.  Holy hell.


A few days ago I was on my way home from the gym when I saw a girl somewhere between the ages of 16 and 20 texting.

Texting?  What’ s the big deal?  Girls that age have to text while they walk or else they’d trip over their own feet.

Well, she was texting while driving a scooter.

With no helmet.


I’ve seen some stupid stuff in my life.  I’ve even once seen a jackass stupid enough to talk on a cell phone while riding a motorcycle. But I’ve never seen someone so stupid as to be trying to text while riding one.

That’s the drawback, I guess.  Most scooters have continuous transmissions, meaning no shifting gears – you just get on, twist the throttle, and go.  Your average motorcycle requires both hands and both feet to operate:  clutch with the left hand, front brake and throttle with the right, shifter with the left foot, rear brake with the right.  The scooters just freed up your left hand.

And what does a 19-year-old girl with a free hand do?


This is a problem that is most likely to be corrected by a swift and concerted attack by Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.


Which brings me to my final point.  (Well, not FINAL final.  I hope!)

I’ve been noticing more and more lately, particularly on long interstate drives like this past weekend’s, all these little roadside memorial markers.  A little cross that reads “Frank.”  Or a bunch of flowers around a board that says “Amy.”

They used to be unusual.  I remember seeing one as a teenager just outside Richmond that had no name; it was simply a wooden sign that read “UNBROKEN.”  There was a kind of poetry in that simple, anonymous tribute.  But now the damned things are everywhere, and just like funerals or flowers for your high school girlfriend, apparently you have to do it – and do it better than the next guy – or you must not care about the deceased.

Personally, I think it’s a dumb idea.  Why on earth would you want to memorialize someone on the spot that they died?  If that becomes much more common, you won’t be able to get to a hospital bed for all the three-foot crosses that say “I Heart Grandpa.”  If we don’t do it in hospitals or nursing homes or someone’s bedroom, why in the hell is it necessary to put up a flower arrangement in a ditch by the roadside?

“Here’s where Bobby died.  And the little crosses are where his legs ended up after the accident.”

Why would you want to remember where somebody died?  Particularly if it was the site of a semi-random and possibly gruesome accident?

Call me crazy, but for me, memorialize me where I lived, not where I died.  Or, you know, in a cemetery.


So as not to leave you all on that note, as I previously shared on Kim’s blog today, I give you one of my favorite old time-waster sites from when I lived in the Midwest:  The Institute of Official Cheer.  Enjoy in moderation.


11 Responses

  1. My girlfriend go berserk when she see’s a roadside memorial. I can hear her start to grumble two miles before she hits one her sense of ire so strong.

    Which leads me to something I was going to use on my site but will use here because it’s fitting.

    Another religious person accosted me. I finally told him,

    “Listen, I could never join your church because Christians are sucky drivers.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Even though, as your bumper stickers state, Jesus is your co-pilot I’ve never seen a Star of David at any road side memorial. Ergo, Christians are shitty drivers.”

    Yeah, I did it, I went Latin on his ass.

    Hah! Good point. No Star of David, no yin-yang, no Islamic crescents….just crosses.

    And flowers. So I guess we have to watch those nature-worshippin’ Wiccans too.

  2. Enjoy in moderation?? Naw. The Institute is only good in huge gigantic blocks of time-wasting.

    Those roadside memorials are actually an interesting legal issue, because of the question of whether they’re considered signage, nuisance, or something else. States have passed laws about how long they can be up and how ratty they have to be before they’re removed without the putter-upper’s permission. One of those little corners of the law you’d never think of until it becomes your problem.

    Particularly in an urban setting, I can understand it. There are a few large displays around that I have to say I’m glad aren’t next door to my house. It would be bad enough knowing some poor person died in your yard; having a ratty memorial to that person, reminding you of it, tackily, in perpetuity would REALLY suck.

  3. There’s a TON of those memorials around here; I can’t stand them. With all the zoning and signage laws, you’d think they wouldn’t be allowed.
    Thanks for the new website obsession – I spent a good hour there this morning!
    I told Heather I really want to get Brian an accoustic for his bday (the 19th), but am scared of the price range. Any idea on what I should expect to pay?

    Hmm. It really depends. I’ll email you.

  4. TB, try putting some coffee grounds in an old nylon (or a new one if you have to buy them), tie it up and toss it into your guitar case. Leave it for a couple weeks and see what’s to be seen. Coffee grounds are often put in unplugged or unused refrigerators to keep them from smelling stale and ruining the taste of food.

    Hmm, that’s an idea! Thanks, Sunshine!

  5. You’re right. I hate you for that chair. But you knew that already.

    I do think the memorials are getting out of hand. (particularly the 3-foot tall one semi-near our house IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY)

    However, I’ll also say that I think the original point wasn’t (or shouldn’t have been?) to so much remember the spot that they died as to raise awareness. How many times have we seen the one on I-65 in Indiana that has a state trooper’s hat on it? Reminds me of the danger they are in, even for just a routine traffic stop. Or the one where the 3 kids were killed by a drunk driver on their way home from a concert? Yes, I knew the story behind it, but I think that was part of the point – to remind people that a stupid decision could cost them or someone else everything. For the record, it has been some years now, and that one is no longer there; those people handled it correctly.

    Hey, even the ones for the guy who was ‘hanging out on the corner minding his own business’ at 3 a.m. in what just happens to be the busiest drug neighborhood in town and is gunned down where nobody saw nothin’ can prove a point. Like the Surgeon General says, kids, Smoking crack is hazardous to your dumb ass.

    I hadn’t thought of it from an “awareness” point of view. That doesn’t completely change my opinion but it does soften it somewhat.

    If I could smuggle one of these chairs home in my bag, I would, I promise!

  6. Those roadside memorials are actually illegal in Kansas. They don’t enforce it, but they are. I wish they would. They’re distracting.

    They may be technically illegal in lots of places, just like all those “Work from Home” signs stuck on telephone poles.

  7. I understand it was, at first, to raise awareness, maybe show that this stretch of road can be treacherous, but, that was then and this is now.

    If they’re not kept up they become rotting teddy bears and debris in no time. If they are kept up they still get weather worn and blow away but never actually go away. I know of one that’s kept up for a guy who, during the 6PM hour, decided to show off his driving skills and speed past someone trying to go home from work. The problem is, his skills were lacking. He hit a curb, went airborne and killed himself and a passenger.

    I know someone else who jumped the curb and ended in a river. He was running from the police with a car filled with stolen goods.

    I was not there for either of those crashes but have two friends who saw both from start to finish. I can see that you should be aware of not being an idiot, but, that’s not what the message either of those sites (I’ve looked at them both) proclaim.

    They both say they were taken too soon. Not one message has ever said ‘Don’t screw up like this guy.’ So, to me, the original intent, which I agree with (years ago I remember seeing crosses say ‘Slow’), is gone. I’m not sure I know many people (other than the brilliant – and chair jealous – Dys) who could even pull up the original intent. It’s time is past, now it’s just more trash along the road.

  8. Hahahahahahahahaha. Oh yeah, Dys, I forgot sensitivity is a human emotion. I’ve got to start taking better notes.

  9. I don’t get the roadside memorial markers either. I also don’t get why people ride motorcycles without helmets. It makes me cringe every time.

    Same here. The breeze is nice, but so is the ability to speak. I crack my visor a bit and it’s all good.

  10. […] Posted on July 23, 2009 by Taoist Biker I’ve been taking my guitar to work with me for a couple of weeks now, and already the difference is like night and day.  It’s really gratifying to see that, […]

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