Tuesday, October 31, 2006


So, every year, I carve a jack-o'-lantern for the front door stoop, and here, this year's effort ...

Happy Hallowe'en.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

So These Three Guys Walk into a Bar ...

Recently, I had an online discussion regarding humor, and more specifically, black humor -- not the racial kind, but the kind that cops and doctors and reporters and undertakers tend to engage in. I was taken to task by somebody when I told a story about my days in the medical field. Admittedly, it was not something normal people find funny, but a lot of folks who deal with death or serious trauma use such stuff to blow off steam.

Tragedy, Mel Brooks said, is when I cut my finger. Humor is when you fall into an open sewer and die ...

Different strokes. What one person finds hilarious, another thinks is vile. If you have the whistling-past-the-graveyard sense of humor, and if the joke stays just inside the fine line between hilarious and too much, a lot of things can be sidesplitting. Funniest stand-up routine I ever saw involved a fighter jet plane crashing into a motel and killing half a dozen people.

Second funniest involved a killer whale attacking a baby seal. (My wife was there for that one, and she is as tender-hearted over small creatures as you can find, and even she was laughing so hard I thought I'd have to take her home in a plastic bag.)

The Fawlty Towers routines, about the rat, and the one about the Germans, are politically incorrect out the wazoo, and some of the funniest material ever aired -- for my money.

Um. Anyway, the guy I was talking to was unhappy
because somebody was being made the butt of a joke, and I explained that somebody was always the butt of a joke. Not talking a cute-puppy-smile kinda thing, but in a roiling, belly-laugher, somebody or some thing, or some group is always being made fun of -- there is always a goat about whom we are laughing.

For me, the best of these usually involve the teller making fun of his- or herself, or the group to which they belong, but not always.

So I invited my correspondent to dust off his funniest jokes and find one that didn't involve humor at somebody/thing/group's expense.

He couldn't.

Anybody here got one?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jude on the Road to Enlightenment

Got a couple of good pictures at the Oregon Coast this weekend. This was one of them ...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Yeah, but what if I did This ... ?

Way back when I first started studying martial arts, now and again it would come up in a conversation, and now and then, I got the yeah-but-what-if? refrain going.


"Oh, you're into that karotty kong-fu stuff, huh?"


"Okay, lemme ask you something. What would you do if I did this?"

This would usually be something fairly simple, like, say a right overhand punch.

And I would say, "Well, I'd probably block and counter, like so ..."

Whereupon I would demonstrate a technique.

"Yeah, but, what if I then did this?" At which point the questioner would counter my counter and launch a second attack.

"Okay, well, then, I could do this ..."

"Uh huh, but then what if I added in this?"

And pretty soon, we would have a whole choreographed fight sequence right out of Enter the Dragon ...

Or maybe The Three Stooges ...

Um. Anyway, after a few of these conversations, what I realized was two things: A) the guy asking the what-if-I-did-this? questions didn't really want to know what I would do, he wanted to demonstrate that my karotty-kong-fu crap wasn't no way, no how up to snuff against his good, old American fist-fighting, and B) If you show somebody what you intend to do, it's not that hard to come up with a counter for it.

(There is actually a third thing I learned, and that has to do with training specific counters for specific attacks -- you throw a high, right punch, and I do Waza block-and-counter #1. But if you throw a left punch, I have to shift to Waza block-and-counter #2, and so on, and what a dead-end that was. But more on that in another post.)

Somewhere along the way, I realized that yes-but fight conversations were a waste of time, I couldn't win, and what I came up with, should they start down that road, was a good way to short-stop them:

"Okay, what would you do if I did this?"

"You know, I dunno exactly. Why don't you do it and let's see, hey?" Along with a big smile.

Oddly enough, nobody ever wanted to follow through on that. Because if they didn't know what I was gonna do, then they wouldn't have a clue how to deal with it, and if I didn't tell them, they wouldn't know. By the time they figured it out, it would be too late, and I believe they understood that on some basic level.

I suppose if I had been good enough, I could have Billy Jack-ed 'em, i.e., told them what I was gonna do and, even knowing that, there wasn't anything they could do to stop me, but I wasn't that good -- and I had sense enough to know it.

And the lesson is? If you show people your cards, it makes it easier for them to bet, so better to play them close to your vest. It's not that what you do is full of secrets, it's that there is an element of surprise in it that can work to your advantage. No point at all in giving that away.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Where is the Death Ray When You Need One?

(Raygun, courtesy of Dal Perry)

So, I'm coming home from silat last night, it's a beautiful, clear, fall evening, and I'm tooling along I-5 about thirty miles out of Portland, enjoying the ride. I'm in the slow lane, doing 72 in a 70 mph zone, very little traffic.

All of a moment, some dweeb in a pickup truck rolls up behind me and proceeds to ride my rear bumper, close enough so you couldn't get a motorscooter between us.

I'm in the slow lane, remember, there is plenty of room to pass, but bozo back there can't seem to see that if I sneeze, we are going to be a highway statistic all over the road.

This is when you wish you had a working death-ray. (I think James Bond's oil spray out the back of his Astin-Martin is too good for people like this.)

It's not just that it's illegal, it is dangerous. In Oregon, according to an article I read recently, thirty percent of auto accidents are caused by tailgaters. I don't care if Bozo wants to wrap himself around a tree and meet his maker, but I don't want to go with him.

So, sans the death ray, what do you do? I used to have a bumper sticker that said, politely, back the fuck off. But sometimes my wife drives my car, and I didn't want her having to deal with people who might take offense. And they do take offense.

For a while, I carried one of those throwaway cameras, and when somebody got too close, I'd hold it up and snap a picture of them. That way when I got killed, maybe the cops could figure out who did it -- plus, at night, the flash going off sometimes caused the moron to back off.
Didn't work too well in the daylight, though.

Then I got a flashing scuba diver's light that strobes a bright amber. Hold that up, that works, too. They aren't sure what it means -- maybe the bomb is about to go off ...

I considered getting one of those little battery-powered LED crawl-signs and holding it up, programming to say something clever, like "Back the fuck off!" but maybe that's a bit confrontational ...

Mostly, what I do is just slow way down. If the guy behind me wants to hang too close at 70, he usually loses interest at 50. Unfortunately, this only works where he can pass -- on two-lane roads, you have to pull over, and it is interesting how many times I've done that that the guy behind me honks and gives me the finger when he goes by. I'm getting out of his way -- but he's still pissed off.

I used to use rude gestures myself, but I stopped that. Guy who drives that way is stupid enough to be armed and a road-rager. Sometimes I'd wave them around, or just hold up my hand in a "What?!" gesture. Or now and then, I'd hold my thumb and forefinger about an inch apart, indicating either a) You are too close! or b) You have an itty-bitty dick. Probably both.

I think this happens more to me than most people because of the car I drive, which is a two-seater red convertible, a Mazda Miata. Nothing special about it, car is almost twelve years old, but there seems to be something about a little droptop tooling along that just pisses people off. I have the top down, I'm enjoying the ride, maybe that just gripes 'em because they aren't having a good time, I dunno.

Anybody have any better ideas as how to deal with tailgaters, aside from shooting them, I'm listening here ...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Testing, Testing ...

So, after my most recent visit to the doctor and the not-as-good-as-I-wanted blood test results, vis a vis sugars and cholesterols and lipids and like that, I went online and checked out home test kits. I found what appeared to be the most accurate and reasonably-priced one, which was the basic CardioChek meter and strips. According to the study I found, the meter was within 1-3% plus-or-minus on most of the tests, when comparted to a standard lab.

Close enough. I ordered it.

It got here today, and since I hadn't eaten anything since dinner last evening, only had black coffee and water, I thought I might as well get a baseline.

Apparently, only a couple of weeks of attention to one's diet can do wonders. Of the tests I ran, everything was down considerably -- all WNL (within normal limits) save for one, which was still slightly high, but only just so, having fallen 20%.

This is most encouraging. I'm going to wait a couple months and check everything again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Figure of Speech

Okay, so Sunday morning my wife and I and the younger dog went with my son and daughter-in-law and our three grandsons on a Buddy Walk for the newest grandson, Nate, who has Downs Syndrome. Lot of folks marched, leaving and returning to Millennium Park, in Lake Oswego.

Among the group was a bagpiper, and as we were finishing up, Dal got the picture above. It's one of the organizers, writing a check, and ...

paying the piper ...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Doctor, Doctor, What you say?

So, my ear is all healed up, my cold waning, and I should be back to what passes for normal soon.

My physical exam whilst at the doc's was fine. I'm in good shape, she says, for a man my age.

Oh, I hate that phrase. I prefer, "You're in great shape!" Period. Last time I banged up a knee and went to see a doctor, six, seven years ago, he asked me, "How'd you do this." Well, I said, either when the dog sidewiped me or doing squats.

And he said, "Squats? A man your age ought not to be doing squats!"

Hey, I said, I'm not a man my age!

Blood pressure is the same as when I first checked it in tenth grade biology class. Weight is actually a bit less than it has been for the past twenty-five years -- same size jeans I wore in high school. Resting pulse of sixty. No lumps or bumps that are gonna cool me immediately evident, ah, but the bloodwork showed my triglycerides are higher than they should be. And total cholesterol isn't really high, but it is heading that way ...

For those of you who don't know from triglycerides and cholesterol, suffice it to say that they get high from too much southern cooking -- i.e., fats, and this is a bad thing.

Not a serious case of biscuit-poisoning -- too many biscuits -- no Dunlap's Disease -- that's when your belly done lapped over your belt --but I would be wise if I cut out junk food, and of course, anything deep-fat fried. Ditto the black walnut Haagen Dazs, the six eggs fried in butter, and the potato chips and cookies and cake and chocolate candy and, well, you get the idea ...

Ah, well. I'm six or eight pounds over my best fighting weight. Guess that's going away. Given the way I normally eat, I'm guessing that will take ... what time is it now? Yeah, about twenty-four hours ...

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Well, yes, it could be Ironside, but I see more of a match with Chris.

Though Xizor is pretty close, too ...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It Could Be Worse, Bobbe ...

I dunno what you are griping about, kid. Look at those evil grins ...

Separated at Birth?

Bobbe Edmunds/Chris Bauer

So I was channel surfing last night and I came across something called "Smith," a caper series on CBS, I think, about high-tech thieves who have other jobs to cover their adventures. I wasn't too impressed with how they did business -- long and overly-complicated scenarios to do things that could be accomplished a lot easier, but still kinda fun in a guilty-pleasure way.

And lo, there appeared on the screen an FBI agent who -- to me -- looked very familiar. Actor's name is Chris Bauer, and I was sure I'd seen him before ...

Anybody else notice that he bears a certain resemblance to our own Bobbe Edmunds, up in Washingston state ... ?

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Puppies ...

So Zela -- our dog Jude's mom -- has a new litter. Here she is, with Jude's half-brother and -sisters, the pups six weeks old when we took this picture, day before yesterday.

So the only question is, which one will we be able to get -- the little boy (topmost) is already spoken for, and probably one of the girls will stay with the breeder (black and white, closest to her mother's tail.)

We think our choice will be between the two girls who are the closest to the right side of the X-pen in the photo above, both brindle-colored, but we won't know until they are older, so the breeder can tell if they will be show-quality or not.

Puppies ... !

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ten CC's

The summer I was thirteen I blew out my right eardrum while scuba-diving. Killed my diving career, and since I was worried they would stop me from swimming altogether, I didn't tell my parents.

The result of that forty-odd year old decision was, aside from a permanent hole in the right tympanic membrane and subsequent loss of hearing, was a tendency to develop infections in that ear canal.

I haven't had one for a while, but last week, I developed a new one. Without going into the stomach-churning medical details, let's just say such infections are not fun, they involve some serous fluid seeping from one's ear, and now and again, problems with such things as one's balance.

Stand up suddenly, you can develop a severe list to starboard that is apt to put you into the nearest wall. Most unpleasant. Best hope your groundwork is solid, because you will likely need it ...

Treatment with alternating instillations of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide usually clears it up in a few days, but now and again, the bug is stubborn and more stringent methods are required. This one didn't want to quit.

The result of which was a visit to my doctor. I knew what I had and what I needed, and since I needed a physical anyway, whack, two birds with one stone.

My doctor agreed with my diagnosis. However, it has been long enough that the old medication is no longer considered wise. Something to do with sensitizing the eardrum, so they don't give that out any more.

Fine. I got a prescription for the new stuff and went on my way.

At the Rite-Aid pharmacy, they asked me if I had co-pay on my drug insurance. I dunno, I said, it's been so long since I bought any medicine for myself, I wasn't in the computer -- though, for some odd reason, my dog Scout was ...

To get to the point: The reason they asked, they said, was that the drops, which came in a ten cc bottle, were expensive. Ten cc's (or ml's) equal about a tablespoon of liquid, for those of you not into metric system.

How expensive? I asked.

One hundred and sixteen dollars, they said.

Holy crap! You're kidding! What is it made from? Ivory-billed Woodpecker tongues?

Sorry, there's no generic version.

Fortunately, I did have co-pay insurance, and so it cost me a mere twenty bucks.

But I can understand why busloads of American seniors are traveling to Canada and Mexico to buy their prescriptions medications. Somebody who is retired, on a fixed income, without insurance, has a choice of paying the rent or buying meds.

There is something really, really wrong with this picture.