Friday, June 24, 2011

The Week That Was Hot

Why is it that the older we get the more we talk about weather?
I always thought those conversations that centered on the weather came with old age. 
“Sure is hot” says Methuselah. 
“Yep” says his dad.
What I have noticed is that the older we get the harder the heat is on us. Our age is inversely proportioned to our tolerance of heat. Some people, that is. Not me though, I’m young and hip. I can still get jiggy with it. *turns down Air Supply on the easy listening station*
Age to Heat Inversion Chart Ratio Paradigmomometer
Age 0-11  Nothing keeps you from going outside during the summer. You don’t wear shoes, if you can help it, no matter that the driveway burns your soles or the beach sand is roughly the temperature of the sun. Your feet form a protective layer and are like hooves by the end of summer. You play all day outside and never worry about sweat, dehydration or bathing.
Age 12-25 The heat still doesn’t bother you that much, but you want attention from boys so you trade in hooves for shoes. You lay out in the sun, on purpose, slathered with oil, turning every 30 minutes to get that oven roasted chicken look.
Age 25-35 You no longer have the summers off. Your time is spent inside now, at work and possibly in bars. You start noticing magazine articles warning about wrinkles and skin cancer caused by sun exposure, so you give up lying in the sun just for tanning.
Age 35 and Beyond Every year gets hotter sooner and last longer. You wonder how anyone ever survived without air conditioning. Your place of work, the mall, the grocery store and home all have it. The only time you’re outside during daylight is to get from one place to another. You find yourself complaining every time you have to be outside more more than 5 minutes and commiserating with other sweaty middle-aged people about the humidity. 
It’s not long before you’re watching the Weather Channel for hours at a time, complaining the manners of young people and eating dinner at 4pm.
“Sure is hot.”

Today's post is brought to you by:

The Bonneville Salt Flats. 

They are flat, salty, and very bright.

Himself & Jasmine walking, while I aim
the camera vaguely in their direction.
It was so bright my eyes were only slits.

Yes I licked it. Yep. It's salty.
The surface is rough, with tiny
curlicues and peaks.

And by:

The Mojave Desert

A lovely place, really. Miles and miles of sand, prickly things and unrelenting sunlight. I walk Jasmine in the 110 degree heat. She prances with delight on pavement that melts my shoes, only to find that there is no grass in the desert, only sand, which is even hotter.

I don't have any facts to share about the desert because I am mad at it and refuse to look it up and if anyone so much as whispers the words dry heat, I will beat you with my cane.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Joy of Rules

Breakfast cereal is a serious business. If you don’t believe me, try to deliver your load of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs fifteen minutes before your appointment time. 
It ain't gonna happen.

No soup for you!
Come back one year.

There are two ways to deliver a load. 

The live unload is the longest. 

In that situation you back into a dock and wait while a guy on a forklift unloads your truck. He counts the product, takes a cigarette break, rearranges the product, takes a cigarette break, puts the product on a shelf, has a sandwich and a cigarette break, and then gives the paperwork to an office person to perform some kind of computer voodoo-hoodoo. She also takes a cigarette break, paints her fingernails, goes and flirts with the guy on the forklift, then signs the paper you need to leave. This can take 2-24 hours.
The second way to deliver a load is called a drop and hook. We go in, unhook from our loaded trailer, drop it on their lot, then pick up an empty one. In and out in less than 30 minutes. 
We have no control over which method, it’s the customer’s choice. Usually, an appointment means a live unload. But not in the high stakes world of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs. They give out appointments because they like to feel special and in control, even when it’s a drop and hook. And they have rules. And they do not bend them.
1. You may come in one hour before your appointment time. No more. 
2. If you are late by more than 37 seconds you will have to wait 48 hours to be rescheduled. (This has happened to us.)
3. No dogs, children, wives or guns allowed on the property.

4. No public restrooms.
5. No overnight parking on the property. (Even though it's big enough to hold the Lost City of Atlantis, there are no truck stops within 50 miles so you have to park illegally near a meth lab, and it’s their idea you come in the middle of the night.)
So we get to the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs warehouse at 11:45. Fifteen minutes earlier than is allowed. We approach the Security Gate. The lot beyond the guard shack is wide open, lots of space, no other trucks in line or moving about. 

We think we’re golden.

Himself: “ Hi, we have a load of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, appointment number 12390-42149-537759-335398311M.
Guard: “Oh yes. It’s a drop and hook. Your appointment is at 1 a.m. You can come in one hour ahead.”
Himself: “Um...That’s just fifteen minutes from now.”
Guard: “ Yep. See you then.”
Himself: *Stands there for 15 minutes, repeats procedure at appointed time*
Guard: *Looks over paperwork* “ Hmm. This number looks funny. I need to call someone to come and verify the load, hang on a minute.... Oh, darn. That guy goes on break at midnight. He’ll be back at one. You’ll have to come back then.”

A lone wolf howls in the distance.

Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs is not real. But Hobbes is.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kansas Curiosities

You may think Kansas is nothing but miles and miles of flat prairie, an endless line of boring crops but I’m here to tell you there are exciting things in Kansas, if you just stop and look.
For instance, Goodland, Kansas has a giant easel. I know, I know, but calm down, there’s more. That 80 foot tall easel holds a replica of one of Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings. It’s so big you can see it from I-70 but that’s not good enough for the Tumbleweeds, no. We saw it live and in person, walked underneath it, even.

Painted by Cameron Cross as part of the
Van Gogh Project. I am the little blob beneath it.

Goodland is a sleepy little farming town on the western edge of Kansas. It has less than 5,000 people, and as I was researching this very informative article, ahem, I found that the town of Goodland’s own website doesn’t mention the World’s Biggest Easel at all. Conspiracy? Oversight? It seems like a little town should promote this superlative; there's really no other reason to stop, and it really is big.

Goodland is also known as,
The Golden Buckle on the Wheat Belt.

Lucas, in central Kansas is home to The Garden of Eden and Cabin Home of Perry Dinsmoor, a Civil War veteran who built a lot of weird cement stuff around his home, which is a log cabin made of limestone. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and other Biblical sculptures crowd the yard and there is also a 40 foot tall mausoleum where he is laid to rest in a glass-topped concrete coffin. Neat.
In 1924, when Dinsmoor was 81 he married a 20 year old and they had two children. Their son, John Dinsmoor, is the youngest surviving child of a Civil War veteran. Creepy.
Also in Lucas, Kansas is the home base for the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum. If that title doesn’t give you a headache, then try to figure out what the brochure means by “Always open when parked”. It’s a van. If it’s not parked it would be moving and you couldn’t visit it anyway.

Visit their blog and see for yourself. Maybe
they're coming to your town.

Sadly, the Tumbleweeds didn’t get to visit the wonderful town of Lucas. Let’s move on.
We did, however, have dinner in Russell, Kansas which is home to Bob Dole, the presidential candidate and Viagra spokesman. The restaurant was filled with the over 70 crowd, but Mr. Dole was nowhere to be found, although I did get excited when I saw a guy holding his pen stiffly in his right hand, but it was just a farmer getting ready to write a check. Remember those?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pungent Polecat or Curious Chupacabra?

 National Geographic skunks are cute.
Real ones? Not so much.

You may want to back away from your computer a bit before you read any further. This week the Tumbleweeds do not smell nice. 

What's black, white and stinky all over and does not want to be BFF with Jasmine? Skunk. Polecat. Stinktier.

Our crazy, sweet, wild, obedient dog decided to ambush some weeds to find out what smelled so darn good. I'm sure a dog that eats goose turds like they were french fries, finds eau de Pepe Le Pew delightful.

It all started innocently enough. Jasmine and I took our last walk of the evening behind a warehouse complex, in Mesquite, Texas. We were parked for the night at the consignee, where we would deliver in the morning. The property was surrounded by fields and lots of grass; it was quiet and we were the only people there, a rare find for us.

I had her on leash, since we are still practicing that particular skill. Picture trying to walk the Tasmanian Devil and you have a pretty good idea what it looks like. It was dark and she was on hyper alert, as always, ready to attack tree stumps and boulders at the drop of a hat. She kept pulling, yanking, and lunging to get these nefarious threats and I was getting tired of it. So when she started pulling so hard she was standing on her hind feet, I let go of the leash, ready to laugh when she realized it was just a clump of tall weeds. The laugh was on me.

She stormed into the weeds, thrashed around and came out foaming at the mouth like Cujo, flinging drool everywhere and smelling like a rancid Chupacabra. In fact, the smell wasn't like the skunk odor I was used to from roadkill. You know that smell? It was different somehow, acrid like burnt rubber and so strong I could taste it. I never saw the creature in the weeds, maybe it was a Chupacabra.

From Fox News. This is the stuff they
report on when they aren't looking
for Obama's birth certificate.

I did a little research on the Google but never came up with any other aninmal that sprays in self defense like a skunk. 

Fact: There are seven major volatile compounds that make up skunk spray. As shown here:

No idea what this means. 
But I don't need fancy chemistry to know that they all combine to stink like crazy and attach their nasty little compounds up my nose and everywhere else. Jasmine got sprayed right in the mouth, the poor little dummy; I wonder if she'll try to make friends with a skunk again. Probably.

As you can tell, the smell is really bothering her.