Thursday, November 28, 2013

A quick video

My first attempt at video blogging.  I'm so cutting-edge.  Now you'll know why people say I have a voice made for writing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I haven't even been reading any Lovecraft lately

I'm going to write this down in case I want to refer to it in the future.


"Normally" is probably not quite the correct word to use here, except I've become familiar (although not accustomed) with very vivid nightmares.  So...

Normally, I have these extremely vivid and weird nightmares when I'm having trouble sleeping.  They usually happen when my wife wakes me up when she gets home from work late at night and I've already been asleep for an hour or two.  I can never really get completely back to sleep for the rest of the night and seem to be locked into a dream state that never ends.  Last night was not one of those nights, so I don't know where this one came from.

I was, for some reason, being shown through the house of some extremely rich guy.  He was showing off his place to me.  It was the most outlandish house I had ever seen.  It was constructed in a series of cubes--picture a floor layout like a checkerboard.  The black squares are open areas for human habitation, with furniture and all the other stuff you'd expect to see in a house.  The red squares are gigantic aquariums.  At first, they were filled with beautiful tropical freshwater fish.  Farther in were saltwater fish.  Even farther on, it got weirder.

At one point I suddenly noticed a thing in one tank that looked like a very large alligator with armored plates covering its body something like a turtle.  It's head was shrouded in tentacles.  A large fish swam in front of it and just as I thought something like wow that's a big fish the alligator-thing's head suddenly jetted out in front of the tentacles and snapped up the fish, then the whole head disappeared back into the tentacles and although it was in a tank full of water I could hear it swallow the fish whole.  It made a sound like a large metal pipe groaning.  I don't know how else to describe it.  So I started thinking that it was time to leave and oh God I hope that glass doesn't break.  So of course, that's what happened.  Utter chaos reigned.  I was running.  The alligator-thing was out of the tank and running after me.  I knew I couldn't outrun it, but then suddenly an even more enormous dinosaur-looking thing that was all slippery, leather green skin shot out from behind it and swallowed it up like a kid would swallow a jelly bean.  That's it, I thought, it's time to wake up.  So I started slapping myself to try to wake myself up.  Everything faded and I was left sitting in the middle of nothingness.  Just an endless open field with no grass or trees.  The ground was hard-packed earth.  Well, I thought, I'm still dreaming but at least the monsters are gone.  Then I really woke up.  After a trip to the bathroom and a glass of water, I went back to sleep and slept peacefully until my alarm went off at 5 AM, as usual.

Last Monday was a really tough day of work because of the rain and the cold.  Tuesday was quite a lot better, and today was extremely easy.  I finished my assignment by 10:30 this morning.  So now I'm looking forward to four days off work.  I'm not planning anything for Thanksgiving, not even turkey (I'll eat it, but there are lots of other meats I'd rather eat).  I'm going to attempt to smoke a roast tomorrow in my smoker which I've sort of "repaired" after the fire box rusted out.  I'll try to get some pictures of it tomorrow and maybe someone out there will like what I've done and find it useful.

When my dad saw what I'd done, he just stood there looking at it silently with a small smile.  "I've done a few test fires, and I think it's gonna work," I said.  "Well," he replied, "I can't see why it wouldn't."

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Various things

Last Friday morning my Jeep died while I was idling at a stop light.  The timing belt had broken.  Fortunately, since I was only idling and not flying down the highway, there was no engine damage.  It had also had the problem of missing badly when under stress (accelerating, going uphill), so while it was in the shop for the timing belt, I had them replace all the plugs & plug cables.  It runs great now.

My smart phone came in very handy.  I was able to use Google Maps to find a tow truck place that could get me to the garage.  So thank God for smart phones.  Also for Google Maps.

Another cool thing I recently did with my phone was when I was trying to find a meter that had been buried by landscapers.  I looked up the address on Google Street View and took a look at the old photo they had in case the meter was more easily visible in the photo.  It was.  So I was able to find the missing meter.

See it?  That's all heavily covered with grass now.  I also discovered why there's that long strip of dirt without much growing on it.  About 3 to 4 inches deep, there is an old sidewalk under there!  I kept hitting it when I was digging little test holes trying to find the meter.  The photo was from March 2011, so as I said, it's all heavily covered with grass now.

Unfortunately this isn't possible everywhere, since even all of San Antonio hasn't been "street viewed."  There's one neighborhood in particular that I've been keeping my eye on, because I was working there about 4 years ago when the street view car drove right past me.  So if they'd ever add that neighborhood, I'd be internet-famous!  But for some reason, that neighborhood isn't even on Google Maps yet, although it's been there for several years.  Wait, scratch that.  I just checked, and they have finally mapped the whole neighborhood.  But they still haven't added the street view photos yet.  I was back there about where Pleasant Bay turns into Watertrout Bay when the car went by.  There's something weird about that map, though.  It shows something called The Way Missionary Outreach, and if you click on it you see that it's in Killeen.  I don't think it's supposed to be there.

If you have friended me on FB, you know that I recently watched Forrest Gump for the first time, which elicited several notes of incredulity, mostly from relatives of mine.  This wasn't because I had something against the movie, in fact, I wanted to see it.  But I never go to the movies, partly because I just don't want to and partly because it's too frikkin' expensive.  I had decided that as soon as DishNetwork got it on pay-per-view, I'd watch it.  But they never had it.  It went straight from the theater to being shown on TV, and I wasn't going to watch a butchered-for-TV version of it.  I recently noticed that Netflix has it on their streaming service, so that's why I just now watched it.  I gave it 5 stars.  Except for the death scenes, I thought it was hilarious.

The last theater movie I saw was Saving Private Ryan when it was released, and even then my wife and I went to an afternoon matinee showing, which was very cheap compared to night-time showings.  Before that, the last time I went was to see City Heat in 1984, all by myself just because I wanted to get out of the house for a while.  I would have probably watched anything that night.  That movie just happened to be what was playing.  After the movie, I'm pretty sure I went to Hastings and probably bought a couple of records, and then went to Mr. Gatti's where I sat in dark front-room booth and had some pizza before going home.  1984 was a dark year for me.

1984 theme song.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to death metal

Because of the language, this is NSFW.  But it's pretty funny.  "Two words:  C f****** minor!"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

And they forgot the tilde

This just struck me as weird. 630 Pounds Of Cocaine Found On Band Bus In Texas.  Not that of cocaine was found on a bus.  Not that the bus belonged to a band (imagine that!).  But that the article appears to have been written for elementary school children, complete with pronuciation guides.

Also, strange that they need to specify what kind of music NorteƱo is, as if it matters.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The door in the floor

First, I want to make it clear that I don't believe in ghost hunting, except as a good way to scam people.  As for ghosts themselves, I neither believe nor disbelieve.  I know people who I trust who have been completely freaked out by a phenomenon that they believed was a ghost, but unfortunately, I have never had any such thing happen to me.

I'm just posting this video because of the basement they go into.  There is this one route that I was trained on extensively when I was first hired, but then became a sort of back-up to the back-up guy on it.  It's a route that goes into the south end of downtown (you can see some pix from it here), and at it's northernmost part it goes into two side-by-side Mexican restaurants (side-by-side Mexican restaurants are pretty much the norm in San Antonio).  Both have meters in their basements.  Now, the first of these has an open basement with just a more or less normal, although narrow, staircase down.  They use it for storage and so it's open all the time and easily accessible.  The worst thing about this one is that I have to walk right by their grill so I get a full dose of the smells of breakfast foods cooking, which always makes me hungry.

The second one is different.

First, I have to ask for the key.  Then they go check that the women's restroom is empty.  We go into the women's restroom where there is a strange door on the back wall with some chairs leaned against it.  We remove the chairs and unlock the door.  Open the door, and beyond is a small bare room about 10 or 12 feet long and a little more than four feet wide.  There's a handle in the floor.  There are a few more chairs in here that I have to move into the women's restroom so I can grab the handle and open the floor.  Before I open it, I have to go to the far end of the room (away from the door into the women's restroom) because that's where the stairs come up.  So I lift the floor.  It opens like a door in the floor, because that's what it is, although it's really just a 4x8 sheet of plywood with hinges and a handle, and I lean it against one wall.  There is a narrow-to-the-point-of-tiny staircase with a ceiling that was apparently made for people no more than 5 feet tall.  The walls of the basement are stone.  There is only one dim light that somebody must have run down there as a joke.  It feels like the light shouldn't even be there.  Most of the basement is completely dark.  Once you get down the stairs and into the basement proper, the ceiling opens up to maybe 6 1/2 feet.  The meters are on the far back wall--of course--and they've left a chair down there to stand on because the meters are mounted almost all the way up against the ceiling.  But the ceiling is so low that when you stand on the chair to read the meters, you still have to crouch so you don't bang your head.  You have to read the meters with a flashlight because it's so dark.  I always carry a flashlight anyway.  I use it to read the meters but then I always turn it back off because the shaft of light feels like some kind of offense in the murkiness.  Heading back to the stairs, the dim yellow light spilling down the staircase looks like a beacon for the last refuge of safety in a world gone completely to the far end of spooky.  I almost can't get up the stairs fast enough, but I still have to go slowly and in a crouch so I don't smack my head.

They don't use this basement for anything.  It's just there.  The floor is uneven dirt with some stones scattered around like an old cave that someone cleaned out at some distant time in the past and then forgotten about.  Getting back out in the sunlight on the open street is always a relief after going down into that thing.

When I saw those guys open that door in the floor I just thought holy crap! it's just like that place.  Gotta be one of the creepiest places I have ever been in.