The Bunnies Have A Strong Union

{Carole and Jay, outside working on the lawn. Jay is mowing; Carole is mulching and manuring roses.}

Carole: Why didn’t you mow everything? You left these patches with the little yellow flowers.

Jay: The bunnies insisted.

Carole: What?

Jay: The bunnies insisted I leave the flowers alone. You don’t want to piss off the bunnies. They have a strong union.

Carole: …

Carole: I guess having a bunch of bunnies picketing our house would be damaging to our social capital.

Memphis Follies

I’ve been in Memphis, Tennessee for work most of the last couple of weeks. Two days out of three, I’ve stopped by a Starbucks at the corner of McLean and Union to grab a green tea latte and a chai tea latte (iced) before heading on to the customer site to work.

And apparently my normal morning zany/attention-hungry behavior has gotten me some attention:

Meticulous Accounting, Home Edition

So yesterday I picked my car up from our mechanic and paid a not inconsiderable amount of money for a new exhaust pipe/muffler assembly, plus labor.

And this morning I sat down, as one does, to enter the transaction and the other expenses of the week into Quicken.

And upon entering the payee, the amount, and the date, and moving on to choose a category for the expenditure, this is what the program served up to me:

Apparently Carole, over the years, has found it necessary to enter certain automotive-related expenditures with extreme accuracy.

Mascot Parade

I have a bizarre fixation on “Champ“, the costumed mascot for our local short-season A minor league baseball team, the Vermont Lake Monsters. Despite the creature obviously just being an employee in a suit, I have a habit of projecting that he’s a barely-tame creature of menace that is only kept under control by being fed copious amounts of ballpark hot dogs.

Carole has grown used to my texting running comments about Champ during games:

Champ makes a lot of public appearances and, if I can, I try to show up. Like I said, it’s weird.

So when the local mall (we’ve only really got one in the whole state, in terms of an actual mall with interior areas and not just a big strip mall) announced that they were going to have an Easter Bunny Mascots Parade this past weekend, I promptly added it to my calendar. Apparently they’ve done this before, getting something like 12 local mascots from various teams and nonprofits and so forth to show up and pose for pictures with kids and the Easter Bunny and so forth. I knew I had to be a part of it.

I was a little disappointed when we didn’t get twelve mascots this time around, but Champ was there, as was the moose mascot of the local hospital, Rally the Catamount from the University of Vermont, a big fishing bob from Lake Champlain International, and the bear mascot from Smuggler’s Notch, one of our local ski area. Oh, and the Easter Bunny.

The kids in attendance mostly stood around dazed — your average three-year-old is kind of overawed by having a giant anthropomorphic fishing bobber looming over him. But we had a good time.

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A Different Kind of Valentine’s Day

The lovely folks at the Vermont Lake Monsters minor league baseball team (short-season A, New York-Penn League) offered a special deal this year — for a low, low price, their team mascot, Champ, would deliver flowers, chocolates, a special customized card, and vouchers for two game tickets to the special person of your choice. Needless to say, I didn’t pass such an opportunity up.

Carole was amused.

Hoons At Night

Note 1: Carole, like any adult, has occasional bad dreams that prevent her from getting a good night’s sleep.

Note 2: Carole typically has a terrible temper in the morning, made even worse by tossing and turning all night.

Note 3: Carole would like to come downstairs to the room I sleep in (when I’m in town) and be comforted after a bad night, but, unfortunately, her terrible temper means it’s hard, if not impossible, for her to find a polite way to request said comforting services. And she doesn’t want to come down and just yell at me when I didn’t do anything wrong.

So I suggested that I simply put up a poster somewhere in her room where she could wake up and see it, something that said something along these lines: “IN CASE OF HORRIBLE NIGHTMARES AND YOU NEED COMFORTING, TELL JAY THE HOONS HAVE BEEN SQUAWKING”.

She liked that idea a lot.

So I blew a few minutes, needing no further encouragement to exert my creativity in pursuit of inanity, and produced the following:

I think that oughtta do the trick for even the surliest Carole, don’t you?

Testing the new Echo Spot with Strauss and Elvis

Until today, I had no idea that Elvis had been using “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (a.k.a. the opening theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey”) at his concerts in the 1970s. Nor that asking an Amazon Echo Spot device to play “Also Sprach Zarathustra” would invoke the Elvis version. But of course it does.

Welcome to the 21st century, folks!

A Perfect Moment

Once in a while, when you’re not looking, life up and hands you an absolutely perfect moment. It may be brief. It may not be obvious to others. It may defy explanation altogether. But when one happens, you take down every detail, note every facet, and treasure it forever.

For me, one such perfect moment happened during the summer of 2000 when Carole was working as box office manager for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. In other words, she sold tickets to people who stopped by the office, mailed tickets out to subscribers, and manned a mobile ticket sales table when the VSO went on the road to play concerts around Vermont. The VSO annually holds outdoor concerts for the Fourth of July in places like Rutland and Manchester and Shelburne and Quechee. I went along to most of the concerts to keep Carole company and to serve as all-purpose gopher, roadie, and coordinator of volunteers.

One concert took place at Hildene, the home of Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert, just outside Manchester in southern Vermont. It was a hot sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, just perfect for an outdoor concert with fireworks and the 1812 overture (which together, could reliably be counted on to set off half of the car alarms in the parking lot). The big outdoor tent was set up at one end of a field and Carole’s table was at the opposite end of the field, near where everyone was supposed to park. We had quite a few volunteers show up to help hand out programs, direct people to parking, handle will-call ticket pickup, and so on.

Unfortunately, the rest of the VSO staff mostly hung out over at the tent and stage prior to the concert and paid our part of the operation no attention whatsoever… so this meant that no one brought us any water. We all got fairly punchy standing around, thirsty, in the sun, smiling politely at the concertgoers walking in with their bottles of wine and their coolers full of picnic food and drink.

Finally, at one point, some of the other staff did wander over. There was a little knot of ’em: the development director, the assistant development director, the publicity and advertising director, the overall office manager, and Carole. Lurking a few feet away was yours truly, quietly eavesdropping but not overtly paying attention.

And that’s when it happened. They were discussing logistics and what still needed to be done before the concert started, and one of them — I think it was Mary, the development director, started to say “We need more… we need more…” and then couldn’t think of the word she wanted.

I happily filled the gap in for her, although probably not with the actual word she’d been groping for:

“Leeches”.

I said it in this polite, quiet, helpful, friendly way that left no doubt whatsoever as to what I’d said, only for their brains to utterly crash trying to make what I’d said make sense. It was absolutely perfect: everyone in that little circle of people had the most “what the ___” looks on their faces. Total, unequivocal pole-axed confusion.

Everyone, that is, except Carole, who of course was used to me saying strange random gibberish at the oddest of times, and who was kind of peeved at the rest of the staff over having been ignored and not having gotten supplied with water and all that — she was trying hard not to wet her pants laughing.

As for me, I was also trying hard to avoid laughing — it was important for the overall effect to work to look absolutely composed and calm, as though I expected my comment to make sense in context. But in my head, I was going “Where the hell did that come from?” Sometimes I even surprise myself.

Neither of us had ever seen a group of people all suffer simultaneous blue screens. It was just an absolutely marvelous moment. If I could’ve, I’d have taken a picture right then and I’d hang it on my wall and look at it on cold winter nights.

Wish Lists

I’ve got an Amazon.com wish list. Woo-hoo!

Okay, so what? So do a lot of people. It’d probably be easier to list the people who don’t. I’ve got a friend who has a pet bunny and the bunny has a wish list. You wander around the net, reading stuff on blogs and forums, and it’s more or less inevitable that at some point you’ll come across some stranger’s wish list, posted on the off chance that a random reader might be so taken by the author’s analysis of Freud’s seduction theory as to want to drop $25 and send the author a pair of Hello Kitty snow socks. Some people want a lot of Harley-Davidson miscellany. Some people want semi-precious rocks. You name it, someone’s probably hopefully added it to their wish list in hopes some stranger might one day have a momentary lapse of reason. (Okay, I can’t recall seeing anyone posting their wish list for Leather Masters, but that’s probably because I don’t tend to hang out in those communities.)

If you were bored enough to look at my wish list, you’ll notice my tastes and wishes are a little more pedestrian — mostly I use it to keep track of books I’d like to buy and read but haven’t because I, er, already have a library cart full of impulse purchase books and don’t want to have to buy another right away. But I also keep a few stupid-ass items on my list just to confuse someone who might wind up there, maybe some randomly-paired Secret Santa partner who winds up trying to buy me something despite having absolutely no idea who I am.

Case in point:

Well, Carole usually has no idea whatsoever what to get me for birthdays and Christmas and most years just gives me a card and shaves my back and calls us even, but this year she decided to put in a little effort. And promptly wound up on my Amazon wish list, which I hadn’t really expected anyone to actually use — as I said, it’s mostly books I want to remember to think about buying one day, and strange crap put there to confuse strangers.

Punchline:

Thanks, honey!

And, oh — I almost forgot…

Thank you, my 2017 Secret Santa!

Go Dawgs, Buddhist Style

Strangest thing I’ve seen all week: a few dozen Buddhist monks doing the University of Georgia “Calling the Dawgs” cheer. Given that previously undefeated Georgia promptly got curb-stomped by Auburn today, I think it’s safe to say Buddha was not amused.