Right Now, It's All We Can Give Them
It's at times like this - with our neighbors on the Gulf Coast wind-blown and inundated - that many people's thoughts turn to prayer. Government officials call for prayers for the victims. Victims look skyward with their own prayers. Families and friends safely located outside the disaster zone ask their Higher Power of choice for just a quick sign about the safety of their trapped kin. Over the coming months, as the rebuilding takes every ounce of strength from the victims, many will pray again for strength, or help, or money, or food, or above all, patience. Some will only pray to ask why.
Some of those prayers will be answered, at least in the eyes of those who offered them up. Many prayers will result in nothing. Some of those who prayed will lose hope and never pray again, while others will find the strength they so crave and take that as a sign that prayer is absolute and works.
It's for times like this that Gods and religions exist. They are the life preservers that give buoyancy to the down-trodden. They are the last familiar shreds of humanity that people cling to when events become so monstrous that they can't be fathomed by their everyday minds. At times like these, even the most cynical non-believers won't begrudge the believers their hope. It wouldn't be a humane thing to do.
Clearly, spirituality and religion are distinct concepts. One is a personal relationship, while the other is a belief system created and maintained by humans. Even the best and most well-intentioned religions can have flaws. Sometimes those flaws are quite large, allowing the underlying worst of humanity to seep out like so much contaminated water. Other times religions work as they should, with petty differences about beliefs and irrational canons about worldly matters taking a back seat to the common human condition. It is the same light and dark perspective that is already playing itself out in New Orleans and Biloxi as you read this. Some stoop to help their fellow men, wading hip-deep in filthy water to carry those who are weaker to higher ground. Others stoop a little lower to pick up a rock and toss it through a window so they can loot an abandoned home or business.
It's at times like this that life becomes very clear in a way that it can't on a "normal" day. You are either light or dark. You are either good or bad. It is our omnipotent hope that there are more good guys than bad, because those poor folks along the Gulf Coast will need all the help they can get for a long time to come. If you belief in prayer, now's the time. If not, a kind thought will do. Right now, it's all we can give them.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 30, 2005
How We Became a NASCAR DadWe are now officially a NASCAR Dad. Sure, we're not fond of His Squandership, but that doesn't make any difference. We became a NASCAR Dad the hard way - by driving a race car. All you rednecks just sit back and take notes, maybe you'll learn something.
Mrs. Poobah and Her Daughtership treated the old Poobah to a wonderful and omnipotent 50th B-Day gift - 20 laps in a race car of our choice. We chose a Pro Truck for a variety of reasons, including our general lack of experience with driving anything that gets only six gallons per mile and the fact that we thought it looked the most inanely
macho of all the choices. We figure if we're going for a testosterone-fueled adventure, we might as well look the part. We were going to chew tobacco and spit it out the window during the race, but it kept blowing back on us as we tooled along at 100 mph - and we all know what blowback at high speed is like.
The adventure began after a walk around the half-mile course while a racing instructor flung any manner of scary stories in our general direction. "Too high on this turn and you run right into that concrete wall. Too low and you
fall off the edge into certain death and oblivion," he said casually. He was also quick to point out that lots of students get sick and vomit, something he apparently has a strange prohibition against. He also pointed out that since all of us had testicles hidden way up inside our body - except for the women in the class who had none at all - we weren't allowed to do anything unless specifically instructed to do so, especially not vomiting. Not following
our instructor's advice would surely result in a fiery crash that would kill us, the driver, and probably our loved ones located far back from the track. Since the man possessed a hand with only had one finger and a thumb, we figured he must know of which he spoke.
Post walk-around, we waited our turns and watched other students in the hope they would do something stupid enough to take everyone's mind off the stupid things we were likely to do. As it turns out, there were no fiery crashes, no vomiting, and only one case of a driver begging off. "I was out late last night and I wouldn't want to jeopardize anyone's safety," he said demurely as a large stain appeared on the front of his pants.
When our turn came, we dressed in the nattiest and largest fire-retardant racing suit in stock and topped it all off with a jaunty red helmet. Fully prepared, we wiggled and squeezed through the door of the truck and waited patiently as the pit crew swarmed over us like an astronaut, connecting straps, shoving our legs into the cramped quarters under the dashboard, and putting the steering wheel back in place. The crewman told us not to worry that our Buddha-like belly rubbed the wheel. "That happens with lots of folks," he said with a grin.
After a short talk with an instructor who repeated all the dire warnings from the morning walk-around, we moved to the track and waited our turn to enter the track. After our first lap, the instructor released us to go "hog wild". That was the signal to bump our speed up from a heady 60 mph to 65 mph. However, by the third lap we were making a steady 100 mph or so on the straightaways and managing a respectable 60 mph or so on the curves. Not too much fishtailing, very little skidding, and we managed to follow the "lines" of the race pretty well. We also managed to keep the truck off the wall, out of the grandstands, and on the track instead of the debris-filled in field. Best of all, no fiery crash - a definite plus in our book.
As we drove the truck we couldn't help thinking, "You know, this is just like driving the freeway at rush hour xcept it's lots louder, way hotter, and much safer." Our advice to NASCAR - put an air conditioner in those things. They're wickedly hot.
Soon enough we got the checkered flag, entered the pits, and rolled to a quiet and somewhat anti-climactic stop. The engine ticked quietly, the pit crew opened the door net, and we made the long squeeze and wiggle out of the driver's seat. There were no beauty queens waiting with big trophies (the brass ones we mean) or champagne sprays. Mrs. Poobah did offer to throw some spring water at us, but after our childhood experience at a Baptist
tent-revival, we declined. Water hasn't been the same for us since.
Afterward, we thought about what we could say about our experience, but as King George says, "It's HARD work." In the end, we figured it was a nice day out. And these days, that's not such a bad thing at all.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, August 29, 2005
The Nature of GeorgeFor a boy who was a self-confessed C-student, Boy George sure does have a way with words. His habit of taking a complete cockup, renaming it, and turning it into a "success" is legendary. Who can forget the No Child Left Behind Act - which is anything but - or his attempts to change the phrase suicide bombers to homicide bombers or his rebranding of the phrase the war on terror for the phrase a global struggle against the enemies of freedom (we think they dropped that last one because it was just too much of a challenge for the Texas Tard's reknown oratorical skills..."global enemies who struggle for freedom", "uh, freedom struggling for a globe that is the enemy", "how 'bout freedom is our enemy on the globe"...).
This morning's media dispatch highlights yet another of George's brainstorms in a teacup - removing the phrase "respect for nature" from a UN statement on poverty and UN reform. Even for Bush Inc. - whose motto is, "Earth First, We'll Log the Other Planets Later" - this represents a bit of a puzzler. Who would be stupid enough to say, they're anti-nature? That's a bit like saying you're for clubbing puppies.
Even the Russian delegate was non-plussed, "Nature is something which needs a lot of respect," he said. This, from a country with oceans of radioactive ooze, rusting nuclear submarines, and factories that spew enough smoke to bring tears to the eyes of black lung victims. EVEN THEY UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT!
Additional bad words from the statement included respect for "human rights, freedom, equality, tolerance, and multilateralism". If the Chimperor was suddenly seized by a desire to be truthful, why not demand the removal of these words too? Obviously, he doesn't believe in these concepts either.
Ric Grenell from the US mission tried to explain that nature, "is too broad a subject, and if we had to define the multiple ways the US government respects nature, the document would be too long and way off its original intent."
Ric, Ric, Ric. There are so many holes in that wimpy argument it's hard to know where to start.
First, we're thinking that, "defining the multiple ways the US government respects nature" would be a pretty short list. We're confident that drilling ANWR, strip mining, clear cut timber cutting, and the like wouldn't qualify as ways to show "respect" for nature. Now ways of thumbing our nose at nature - THAT would be a long list.
Second, we're sure that Revoltin' John and Co. are only there for the UN reform part anyway - the hell with small potatoes issues like poverty and multilateralism. So why not just balk at all the other topics and cut straight to the reform issue? We already confident that the Attack Walrus is only going to sit at the table with his fingers in his ears while saying, "la...la...la...la...I can't hear you...la...la...la" anyway.
Our guess is that the Bushinator really does like to club puppies. So Barney, you'd better watch out. If Daddy says he's taking you to a "ballgame", watch out for where he keeps the bat.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, August 27, 2005
It's Just Another Day in This Freedom-Loving Land
God's Self-Appointed Personal Emissary on Earth has gone bonkers - again. George Oilwellian is having his 16 millionth meltdown du jour. The Turd Blossom is still on the loose. And Insanely Cheney is still ticking like the mean old bastard that he is. It's just another day in this land of freedom and liberty that we all love so much.
We must admit that even if we are omnipotent, we have increasing trouble picking a topic to blog about. The news from these schlumps is either so completely beyond the pale or wickedly funny on its own that you can't really add anything useful. The acts of crazy people always speak for themselves. We're amazed at how Jay, Dave, and Conan can do it. Still, we read a story today that did get us thinking.
What with all his vacationing, Traveling George must suck up more petroleum than even the worst Hummer-driving knothead. If all he wanted to do was hide from Cindy Sheehan - something he does abundantly well with anyone who criticizes him - he could have stayed at the White House and saved us all a passle of money. He should have just sent the Twins out to the front gate to give Cindy a big Texas Pecan Pie for her trouble. We're sure that would have made her feel so, so much better.
To be fair though, we wouldn't have really expected him to actually conserve. Heck, Uncle Dick the Puppet Master once said of conservation, "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." Using the logic this administration usually reserves for important matters, we guess that means we shouldn't even try.
How much did it cost for you and me to send El Shrubo off to Crawford for five weeks? We can't tell because - big surprise here - that information is confidential. What we do know is that those numerous vacations are important to the efficient functioning of a crackerjack Executive Branch. As Il Douche said during his recent auxiliary vacation in Idaho, "It's important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life. I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy and part of my being (healthy) is to be outside exercising. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so.''
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Need We Say More?
Pat Robertson is back in the news. If we were God (we mean the other Omnipotent One), we would be pissed. Need we say more?
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Who, Me? Never in a Million YearsBlogging is a confessional sort of enterprise. You bare your soul to strangers around the world (hopefully not your minister in some cases) and wait for the love and adulation to roll in. The implicit contract is that the writer (that would be us, the party of the first part) provides fodder for your snickering pleasure and the reader (that would be you, the party of the second part) will continue to stop around and stroke the writer's (that would be us again) ego. Hey, it's no Congressionally-approved trade treaty, but it's still a pretty fair trade.
We're omnipotent and we know how much you like to snicker. So, here's a short list of our omnipotent, albeight guilty, pleasures. Go ahead, laugh. It's what we live for.
- Nash Bridges - The now-cancelled, but still in sometime syndication cop show was regular watching at the Poobah's castle for as long as it was on. Don Johnson was still corny and smarmy, sort of like Miami Vice plus 20 years, with socks, and minus the pastels. Though no surprise here, he still wore weird clothes like vests, bolo ties, and suits without collars. Ceech Marin co-starred and was the professional counterpunch for Don Johnson's aging grandeur. Not a hint of the pothead, even after all those years toking up with Tommy Chong (who had a recurring role as a crooked but lovable Chinese Triad bookkeeper). Besides, you gotta love a guy named after pork rinds (en espanol: chicharrones). As a plus, they filmed it on location in the Bay Area and it was always a treat to see how one part of town poorly masquaraded as another.
- Chick Flicks - We know we'll probably lose our membership in the Manly Man Club over this, but we're a sucker for chick flicks. If it's about a troubled relationship, kicky clothes, or has a girl-vs-world plot, we're there. It all started with an odd attachment to That Girl at an early age. Oddly enough, Mrs. Poobah likes action flicks. Go figure. Perhaps we've got some sort of weird personality transference going on. Or maybe she's scoping out the action hunks...hmmm?
- Sappy Music - We can't help it, but the lilting sound of Bread's Baby I'm a Want You still brings tears to our omnipotent eyes. We love Shania Twain because she's just so damn cute. We even think Beautiful by Christina Aguilerra is a masterwork. Not that we aren't masculine as well as omnipotent, but that Aretha Franklin can sure belt out a mean You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman. Uh, perhaps that's enough of the girl stuff.
- Men's Magazines - We also we love the new crop of snarky men's magazines - Maxim, Stuff, FHM, all of them. We know you've heard this before, but we read them for the "articles" - which at a maximum of 50 words, are just right for our gnat's-length attention span. However, we also freely admit to looking at the pictures because they're so wholesome in a perverted, damp hair sort of way. We need only point to the pictorials on Rachel Ray and Laura Prepon as examples. Besides, our omnipotent ass has grown so fat, we don't think we'll be a danger to them anytime soon.
- Disco Music - While we're not fans of all disco music, there are certain standards that still peak our interest. Patti LaBelle's Lady Marmalade is a favorite (we even like the Moulin Rouge version, despite Pink's egregious involvement). And who can forget I Love the Nightlife and I Will Survive? We even have a soft spot for Donna Summer and Last Dance, but only in the car where we can throw caution to the winds and tap on the steering wheel. Oddly, we hated disco music when it was new so this must be some sort of pre-Alzheimer's regression thing. We should make a mental note to have that checked...wait, what were we having checked?
So now you see all the embarrassment that is our life. Our shame is your gain. We hope you've enjoyed your fits of mocking laughter, but we have one small favor. Let us know what your guilty pleasures are.
We won't tell...honest.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, August 22, 2005
A Block OvercomeWe've got a touch of the old writer's block this evening. We started a riff on Pat Robertson, got a few paragraphs in, and then decided to save that for another day when the diatribe would flow a little smoother, but now we've got a big hole where a post used to be. Hmmm. What to write about?
How about a little Bush bashing? Commander Codpiece can always use another nail in his political coffin, but that doesn't seem right either.
We could try a post about inventions we've come up with. Our Beach in a Box idea was great. It was a box full of sand that busy execs could put their feet in to feel the summer sand between their toes. We figured it wold go for $19.95 at least but someone undercut us for $9.99. We also came up with a self-trimming sailboat that worked on the principle of Venetian blinds, but someone else had already patented the idea. We were crushed, even if we were only 11 at the time.
We had a great idea for social security reform. Let everyone retire until they are 65, then put them to work. You'd be young enough to enjoy the benefits and the old folks complaining about not having anything to do would be happy. However, now that we've reached our 50th birthday we're beginning to rethink that idea.
Our dog Fiona is always good for a laugh, but she's mostly a sight gag.
We could go on about our penchant for books with weird titles - I Smell Esther Williams, Golfing for Cats, A Wolverine is Eating My Leg, etc., but the punchline is really just a list of book titles. How lame is that?
How about our loathing for Meryl Streep? Our love for Dr. Hunter S. Thompson? A lengthy post about how the "S" in Harry S Truman doesn't stand for anything? Odd sex toys? Weird cars? Goofy roadside attractions?
Why is it with all the things in the world at our doorstep, we just can't find anything that moves us to post about it?
Hey! You know what we just figured out? We just finished our post.
Painless as always. Just the way we like it.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, August 21, 2005
Whoa! Step Away From the CrankypantsWe're a little cranky today. Not in that, "I wish everyone would eat shit and die" way, just a teensy bit cranky, more like the, "Oh shutup and go away" way. The reasons for our crankiness are numerous and sundry - a plethora of small nagging reasons - but they still put us on edge. To whit:
- We haven't eaten well today. Blood sugar is our nemesis. Today, our nemesis is winning. You can't be omnipotent every second of every day fer chrissakes. It just doesn't work that way.
- We are bored. We tried taking a few swipes at Baby Doc Bush, but it was just too much like shooting stupid fish in an empty barrel.
- We can't concentrate. We tried reading, but read the same page 60 times before noticing we weren't turning the page. We tried watching television, but there isn't anything on except bull riding and golf. Oh, for the days of Gadabout Gaddis and Clutch Cargo! Now that was television.
- The Mad Russian neighbors are burning trash in their Webber again. I mean that sort of thing may be OK in Petropovlosk, but this is Kahlifornia.
- Our Pakistani neighbors are tiling their garage floor and not being very quiet about it. We're not sure if it is the tiling that annoys us per se. It might be that they use the garage for a dining room. While they are tiling, they are taking their meals in the driveway.
- We tried watching a video clip of Pat Robertson. His stupidity usually makes us feel so superior, but today, it just annoyed us.
- The marine fog didn't burn off until the afternoon, leaving the place all gray and muddy. While we find this de reguier for this time of the year, it must be news to the SF Chronicle. Yesterday's above-the-fold, front-page headline was about fog. Fog in San Francisco. Who would have thunk it?!
- Our omnipotent editor and publisher chair makes our omnipotent ass hurt. Too little padding on the chair and too much padding on our omnipotent ass.
- There are weeds to pull in our modest 2x2 "yard". Why can't everyone enjoy the stark desert-like beauty of weeds as much as we do?
- And finally, this breathing thing we do. Can we stop that? It just makes too much noise and requires too much effort.
So you see, plenty to make one put on an uncomfortably tight-fitting pair of crankypants. It's enough to put anyone on edge, even if they are omnipotent. But, I'll make one more try at driving the blues away...
Chimpy McFlightsuit is really stupid!
Nope! Didn't work. Still too much like shooting fish on the dinner plate. Oh, woe is me!
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, August 20, 2005
Bon Chance Sergeant Nephew-Bah
It seems that Iraq, like all wars large and small, touches everyone in one direct way or another. In our case, the connection is through our Nephew-bah who left this week for a sojourn in the sunny Middle East. After the short hop from Fairbanks to Kuwait, he and his unit will spend a month unpacking the equipment and acclimatizing to the unAlaska-like weather. Then, it's off to Mosul for a year-long exercise in trying to keep the Iraqis from each other's throats while they try to establish a democracy - something they haven't managed to do in several millennia we might add not so cynically.
Nephew-bah is a great kid by anyone's stretch of the imagination. He left home in Maine to join the Army, originally planning to make it a career. He got good grades in school. He kept his nose clean. And he worked hard in the Army too. He recently married and his young bride now finds herself moving alone to Salt Lake City to attend college.
His mother and his aunt, Mrs. Poobah, worry about him terribly, barely comforted by the fact that he will be stationed in a location that is relatively "safe" compared with the smoldering bullet and mortar-filled hell that is Baghdad. The Poobah is concerned about him as well, but is more comforted by the fact that the sheer mathematical odds against it being his time is a rather more logical, pragmatic way to view the situation. Besides, we are, after all, the Omnipotent Poobah and are not completely defenseless. We hope that our all-powerful juju is enough to protect him from the evil sanctions of El Diablo del Dubya.
We had the great fortune of volunteering for the military during what was probably the only four-year period in decades in which the US didn't manage to get involved in some imbecilic shooting war. All of our missions involved humanitarian calls for relief or training to keep a crumbling Soviet block at bay. Ours was a four-year whirlwind of world-travel and well...fun. In hindsight we're proud of our service, it doesn't seem quite fair.
However, we have spent a considerable amount of time in close contact with men who have seen combat. While all of them have funny stories to mask the ultimate impact of their wars, none of them returned as the same person they left. For some, their war is a distant memory, fraught with danger and anguish, they'd rather forget. For others, it follows them every day of their lives and is as unshakable as the color of their skin. For a thankfully smaller few, there are names on solemn granite walls to remember them by.
Our personal belief is that service to our nation is a high calling, whether it be as a soldier or as a school teacher. In an idealistic world, all of those serving us are doing it as a way to make this a better place. We also believe that wars should be avoided at nearly all costs - our military usually playing an important key in that effort - but we equally believe that sometimes wars cannot be avoided by simply asking the other tyrants to play nice with us. It is for those times that our military stands ready.
Unfortunately, this war is clearly not one of those times.
The US military is one of the unique few that still follows policy orders rather than dictating them. They pledge to answer only to the elected civilian government when it comes to joining a fight and that is what they are doing now, even if a majority of our citizens do believe this is the wrong cause to join. So, we believe that it is appropriate to honor their service and not hold them responsible for the actions of an addleheaded civilian leadership. We should be proud of them, support them, and wish them safety. We also strongly believe that it is our patriotic duty to vote out those ultimately responsible for their deployment so we can refocus our country on a path that can bring all citizens pride. To do less would be, in Ann Coulter's words, "treason".
Bon chance mon Newphew-bah. Bon chance.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, August 18, 2005
Here Iraq, There Iraq, Everywhere Iraq-RaqIt's Wednesday night, so our small town's intrepid war protesters took to the streets by the threes, as they do every week. We haven't seen a turnout this big since our lone Republican showed up with a counter-protest placard that said, "You Should Be Ashamed of Yourselves. Ask Me About Amway!"
Tonight's highlight was a man holding the hand of a large Crawford Cowboy effigy in one hand and a sign that said, "Chimpeach!" in the other. The other two were leaning on their placards, like CalTrans employees on break, discussing the ball scores or something. Still, you've got to give them credit. They did show up, even if it was only for the free lemonade.
Despite the attention being focused on Cindy Sheehan's one-woman crusade to talk to El Dumbya, lots of people are just tired of the whole mess. The polls keep sinking, the sawdust-headed marionettes on the Bush team are still spouting incoherent nonsense, and the country is going to hell in a handbasket. Yet, there isn't much moral indignation.
My theory is that the emperor is distracting us by admitting he has no clothes. Think about it. What a cunningly genius plan! His handlers crank out the hard-hitting stories like the one about the new White House Chef - she's a Latina you know, makes real good Texas Tacos - while he stands up at a series of rallies padded by shills who cheer when he farts and tells them such outlandish swill that even they don't believe it in the depths of their homo-hatin' hearts.
His defense is to put up such a lousy defense of his policies that no one can actually work up a lather to argue anymore. It doesn't matter what happens. The Earth could be threatened by a massive meteor and the story would be the same - "The economy's up. Gotta stay the course. We're fightin' for galactic democracy. Stem cells are bad juju. And, I'm very optimistic. Ole' Turd Blossom will back me up on this one, won't ya Karl Boy?" You could no more argue with that defiant a stance against reality than you could try to argue with a two-toothed meth-head as he holds a conversation with his dead brother Earl.
Some people think Shrub is being particularly mean to Mizz Cindy. The fact is, even if he did have a brain he couldn't talk to her. He has everything to lose and nothing to gain, because there is nothing she can say or that he can do that would fix this unholy mess he's gotten us into. Even he, stupid as he is, isn't stupid enough to do that. And truth be told, neither would a liberal Democrat if caught in the same bind. It defies the laws of political physics.
While I have all the sympathy in the world for Sheehan, I think she could make herself a much more eloquent symbol of this mess if she did a few things differently. Cindy, send away all the interest groups that have glommed onto you, get rid of the porta-potties, fire the "assistants", and yank up the crosses. Get a big old Texas-style American flag that you can see for miles across the Texas scrub, stand in the middle of the field night and day, and embarass that dumbass 10 ways from Sunday. When he returns from "vacation" follow him to Washington and dog every step he makes. When he goes on a foreign trip, quietly stand at the edge of every podium and the door of every rubber-chicken dinner holding your flag and saying absolutely nothing.
By doing these simple things you can reduce your battle to what it ought to be - a battle between a grieving mother and the man who is directly responsible for her son's death - not a meeting of advisors from diametrically opposed special interest groups arguing over each other on Hannity and Combes. It's about you and him and no one else.
Do this and there is no way the Dogs of War can fault you. Do this and the moral clarity of your position will scare the bejezzus out of George, because it will be the first time in his coddled and pampered life that someone held him directly responsible for one of the many God-awful decisions he's made. Transfer your suffering to him. And when you fell better, drop him like a used tissue and return to your life happy to have had your son and knowing that you did the right thing to honor his memory.
Yeah. No moral indignation at all.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, August 17, 2005
The Big Dig - Part DeuxIt's Day II of the Big Dig, our $6,000 hole in the ground. It is now nine feet deep and six feet long, requiring a special brace to shore up the sides. Dirt is being removed by bucket since it is too deep to toss the dirt out by shovel. It looks like a wild party hosted by Puxsatawny Phil.
The archaeolopluminologists have reached the original break and are fixing it, dispite the fact that we've accidentally flooded their hole twice with fresh, fragrant gifts. I have to say they seem a remarkably patient bunch for being inundated with raw sewage every few hours.
They may have repaired the major break, but like usual in our well-oiled household, there are addition issues. They've detected another pipe, another 15 feet (that's not a typo either) down, that shows slight signs of damage from roots.
Stop where we are and fix the original pipe, clean out the remaining roots (which are the size of the Gropenfurher's forearms), apply a foaming anti-root agent twice per year, and plan to have the Roto-Rooter guys come back at least once per year to ream it out again. Then, hope for the best.
Dig the extra 15 feet and replace the other sections. This would require three additional workmen, several extra days of digging, and more special equipment to shore up the hole. Dirt would be hauled out by bucket and ladders. It would be the rough equivalent of digging a basement for the Giza Pyramid. When finished, there would be no guarantee that additional damage wouldn't occur.
We opted for the former rather than the latter. I don't think I'd like the sight of cotton loincloth-swathed workers Walking like Egyptians in the backyard. Too much whip cracking and crying out for me.
We also learned some interesting things in this process:
- We live directly above the intersection of three different sanitation districts. Our sewage leaves the house in one, flows several feet through another, and finally ends up at a main in the third district before its long journey into The Bay. Apparently, any major repairs would require the consensus of all three districts and the President of the UN Security Council. I'm thinking of volunteering it to Kim Jong Il for nuclear target practice. It would be easier to negotiate the treaty.
- The tree that caused the damage - about 15 yards away - now appears not to be a single, stand-alone aspen as we though, but actually a wild root extension from a tree a several doors down. It appears to have sprouted into an independent trunk more than 30 feet high. That explains how the damn thing grew from nothing to its present size in less than eight years. I predict an expensive discussion with an arborist in my future and a big supply of firewood for my gas fireplace.
- We used to have an irrigation system in our backyard. They found remnants as they dug the new bore. No explanation for why it was disconnected, although I think it was done when a hot tub was installed - a project that had required the addition of another circuit breaker panel and new wiring when the new furnace was installed a few years back. Damnable do-it-yourselfers! These things never happen to Ty Pennington.
- When we moved into the house, city maps showed a street where our house now stands at the end of a cul-de-sac. Apparently, it was no phantom street. The fightin' sandhogs found large pieces of asphalt about five feet down. They removed it with picks shovels and strong backs. It looked like a crew of boys from San Q minus the leg irons.
- They also found evidence that the sewage lines from our house were relocated at some point in the past and that two neighbors' lines now connect to ours before going to the main. There is also a third disconnected line that goes to oblivion, a Rod Serling plumbing moment to be sure.
- And finally, a possible explanation for why our driveway has settled. A concrete storm drain runs directly beneath it and the hydrologist guesses it may be leaking and undermining the driveway. I'm guessing that since it runs through two of our three sanitation districts and the mad Russians next door partially filled the other end with concrete and built a deck on top of it we may have another diplomatic challenge on our hands some day. I wonder if Colin Powell still needs a gig.
It's madness I tell you! Madness!
But as usual, the good times never stop at Casa de Poobah. While discussing the project with the hydrologist, the dog escaped. We've just returned from a half-hour dog hunt spanning the entire neighborhood and various county agencies. She finally showed up just before the mobile command post and police helicopter were called in. Mrs. and Daughter Poobah were pretty distraught until the prodigal canine returned. They are currently nursing their battered emotions as I write mine out.
So you see? It could be worse, you could be me.
Ahhh. Life! You gotta love it!
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, August 16, 2005
When The Rain Falls Mainely on the PlaneLobstah rolls. Fiddleheads. Bean suppahs. Seadog games. More pine trees, rocks, and lighthouses than you can shake a stick at. We're back from assignment in Portland, Maine, so your long wait for more pithy installments ends.
It's good to visit a place that has such a distinctively different character than Omnipotent Poobah Omnimedia's Galactic HQ here in Kahlifornia. It gives us the chance to remember lost memories and see how we are both the same and different than those good folks on the right coast.
Maine is a place where quirks run deep and everyday life is deeply fascinating. One need only think of Edmund Muskie tearing up in the snow so long ago or a crusty lobsterman with a peg leg and eye patch supplementing his income by singing sea shanties around Perry's Nut House. It's a place where the first glance more often than not reflects a studied sense of homogeneity, but a closer look reveals Twilight Zone garnishes that keep the place interesting.
For example, the Poobah is certain that Portland has grown over the years. We see evidence of it with each visit. There are more people. There is more traffic. New stores and schools and roads sprout up like seaweed on the photogenic coastal rocks. Hell, Starbucks has even reached the place. Yet, it looks like there hasn't been a new house built in all of New England since 1863. "Why?" you might ask. Because they all look exactly the same. Rod Serling would be proud.
Each house is a 1150 sq. ft. salt box, painted white or light gray with black, gray - or for the very adventurous - rust trim. It must be a state zoning regulation or something. Those crafty Mainiacs don't just create the illusion of quaint ye olde gentility with similar designs and colors. Nope! They also age each house so that it takes on the carefully cultivated patina of decay that would be present if the house had been built in 1863 instead of 2003. Here, a picturesquely missing shingle. There, a loose drain pipe or cracked pane of glass. Over behind the house a barn always rots slowly in the damp air and an old - though possibly recently manufactured - carriage wheel acts as a planter containing DNA-replicant red flowers and mammoth weeds. In the trendier neighborhoods they park ancient steam tractors in the front yard and hang a mailbox from them. In the less-trendier places, there are rusting Hudsons on blocks in the side yard.
There are other little twists to the place as well. Geographical names run from unpronounceable Iriquoisian consonant fests like, "Ogunquitanasumpscotabecahegan", to the just plain obvious, "Dead Moose Creek". From the whimsical, "Cat Mousam Road", to the wry, "Keepa Way". There is a Poland, Rome, Paris, Lisbon, and Bremen, though oddly, no Marakesh. Every town's name is properly oriented north, south, east, west, new, old, upper, lower, inner, outer, or simply "down theyah".
It's a place where a large portion of the female population dresses like lesbians in a San Francisco lumberjack bar (short dark hair, wire-rim glasses, lots of plaid and fleece lined denim, and big boots...for a trip to the beach). Every church, fire department, school, and charity raises money by holding bean suppers, yet the streets remain remarkably methane-free. It's a place where dented pickup trucks in the employee lot at Cap'n Newick's sport, "If they call it tourist season why can't we shoot 'em" bumpah stickahs. But, it's also a place where people will happily exchange greetings with strangers on the street, then refer to people who have lived next door for 47 years as, "those new folks next doah". It's a little known fact that there are more dead people in Maine than live ones. There must be, there's an aging cemetery - with an obligatory black wrought-iron fence and crumbling white granite tombtones - on every corner. Oddly, none of the tombstones are new. See Architecture above.
Mainers also have a way with the culinary arts. They've managed to merge two of the world's blandest cuisines - British and Canadian - into one where fresh seafood and seasonal fruits and vegetables are rendered utterly without flavor. It is a place where salt and pepper are doled out like $165 an ounce saffron and garlic is a rare herb from another planetary system. They've even managed to create fish dishes that are beautiful to the eye, aromatic to the nose, and as absolutely tasteless as ceramic Japanese sushi samples.
But now we must confess one more thing - especially since we are acutely aware that our many Poobah-in-Laws are reading this. We love the place and we love them. It was once the home of Mrs. Poobah and we have very fond memories of our intermittent courtship there. Though the residents may have their quirks, they actually are very nice, level-headed, and caring people. Our rather large, extended family lives there, and though they could write more often, they always welcome us with loving and open arms whenever we visit and cry when we leave. They forgive us our touristic trespasses and smilingly accept our quite rude commentaries. They take quite a licking and keep on ticking, a testament to their hardiness.
So thanks for a new crop of memories dear Mainiacs. We love you. We think of you often. Oh, and we'll see if we can scare up a salt and pepper CARE package for you.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, August 14, 2005
Weeeee're Baaaaaccckkkk!Just a note to let you know that the virtual staff and I have been on a few days of R&R in Maine and will be back to regular posts as soon as we dig out from under the mountain of e-mail that has been heaped upon us.
For those of you who faithfully checked in during our absence, we hope it made the heart grow fonder. For those of you who gave up after a single try, have you heard the term "fair weather fan"? And for those of you who didn't check in at all, WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU?
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, August 13, 2005