Ten free ways to have fun in troubled economic times

Has thrift replaced profligacy at the top of your priority list? Are you looking for ways to have fun and save money at the same time? Try some of these next weekend:

  1. See how long you can hold your breath. Optional equipment: stopwatch, or watch with a second hand, or some other way of measuring seconds. Alternative: just pretend to have a stopwatch, because the trick here is to fool other people, especially noisy children, into having a breath-holding contest. We did this a lot at my house when I was a kid, usually at my father’s instigation, and I only figured it out recently.
  2. See how long you can hold your hand in icy salt water. This used to be the funnest part of making hand-cranked ice cream when I was a kid. My brother always won, because he was insane*. Necessary equipment: bukkit, water, ice, salt.
  3. Jump out of a hiding place and scare people. My wife and Gamma did this to me a few days ago, and they laughed so hard!
  4. Make rubber-band guns out of junk and pieces of inner tubes, and have wars. (My mother still fondly recalls watching the big kids do this back in the Depression)
  5. Dig a hole.** Necessary equipment: shovel, dirt.
  6. Meditate. Optional equipment: cats.
  7. Fly a jumbo jet. I bet that rocks. Drawback: need a jumbo jet. Advantage: if you have a pilot’s license, they’ll actually pay you to do this.
  8. Go into a Banana Republic and ask to use their telephone. We tried this in Seattle a few years ago, this freaks them out for some reason. Maybe they think you’re poor. When they refuse, ask to at least see their phone book.
  9. Make a list of all the things you’re doing wrong, and correct them.
  10. Find out where the nursing college dormitory is, and when shower time is, and sit in a tree outside (this works better in summer than in winter, due to foliage considerations). This is only free if you already have binoculars.

*He no longer does this, having discovered spicy chili pepper eating contests.

**Works for me.

On style

Your opinions evolve over time. These are now my opinions on women’s fashions:

  1. It looks just fine.
  2. No, it does not make your ass look fat.

I had a nice title, what was it again?

Uploading fotos just now, I decide to send Gamma to photography lessons, because she totally manages to make me look like a fat, old dumbass.

Maybe it’s the low angle, she’s a kid, you  know?

Little-known facts about the Mayan apocalypse


  • If you are in a management position, the Mayan apocalypse will fuck you up.
  • The Mayan apocalypse will also fuck up everyone else, sorry!
  • The Mayan apocalypse is especially looking forward to wiping out casted entertainers.
  • The Mayan apocalypse’s favorite color is red.
  • The Mayan apocalypse dreams of living in a nice treehouse.
  • The Mayan apocalypse looks at the skin on the inside fold of its elbow and noticing it is suddenly a little wrinkly in the wrong light, wonders when that happened.
  • Phil Spector freaks out the Mayan apocalypse.
  • Things spoil real fast in the Mayan apocalypse’s refrigerator, and the Mayan apocalypse can’t figure out why.
  • The Mayan apocalypse sees beauty everywhere, in a house fire or the sound of the paper-man’s car driving away at 4.30 a.m., a young blond woman in a green shawl talking about economics, a row of radishes sprouting, or you. Something about you is beautiful, surely.
  • The Mayan apocalypse loves you, and feels real bad it’s going to have to fuck you up, but that’s its nature.
  • The Mayan apocalypse still has most of its hair, especially on its back.
  • The Mayan apocalypse was just outside watering things, and when it closes its eyes it sees pink apple blossoms.
  • When it’s alone wandering around the house, the Mayan apocalypse likes to say, “No one expects the Mayan apocalypse!” sort of ironically.
  • The Mayan apocalypse has a black Sharpie and marks off each day on its calendar with a big black “X”.
  • The Mayan apocalypse will not be televised.

The day the hedgehogs barked

I was on the front steps saying bye to my wife who leaves a little earlier for work than I do when I noticed she was staring intently into our back yard, at a bush from underneath which was coming a sound like a chihuahua quacking like a duck.

Is that a duck? she asked.

I wondered if it might be the neighbor dog. But then my wife said, a hedgehog.

She is really good at spotting animals.

I walked over to the bush and the bark/quacking stopped. Also that whole corner of the yard stank like hedgehogs.

They have a unique odor.

The cloud of hedgehog odor was about 12’x12’x12′, and cloud-shaped.

I saw a hedgehog, then I saw a second one. Fair-sized adults. I figured they were fucking, because when they’re fighting they make a different sound, and don’t stink so much.

Time to clean out the hedgehog houses.

On microtonality and intermittency technique

Concert tour to Italy last weekend, i.e. my amateur orchestra played a theater in Vicenza.  It was wonderful. Here a few impressions, in no particular order because I am still really tired.

While professional musicians have it bad (cheap hotels on the outskirts, wine in plastic cups while VIPs get the crystal), amateur musicians sleep in youth hostels and drink home made wine from 2-gallon bottles in parking lots.

Which was a lot of fun, as it turns out.

Vicenza is a nice town, with a cool theater. Also they’re sharp dressers.

I’m not going to call it messing up my intonation and leaving out the hard notes any more. Instead, it will be known as exploring microtonality and intermittency technique.

At least I wasn’t the one who barfed (discreetly) on stage1.

As far as I know, no one in the audience barfed.

Weather was beautiful in Venice, where we spent a few hours on our way back.

1a high point of my musical career, witnessing that