Before death takes a holiday, he fills his tank

Death still has half a tank, but he’s doing something after work tomorrow so he swings into the filling station on his way home from work.

The architecture of the filling station is like this: building on the right, with the cash register, snacks and drinks and magazines, a couple poker machines, tobacco products, office in back. Next to that, restrooms and a garage bay.

There are three rows of pumps – one on the left, and then two rows on the right, back to back. So in theory two vehicles could be filling up on the left line, two more next to them and on the right side two more.

That is, beneath the roof extending out leftward (from death’s current position) from the building, there are two open spaces. The wider space, on the left, has a row of two pumps on its left side and a row of two more on its right side. The backs of those pumps abut another row of pumps which are along the left side of the right open space. The right side of the right space is the face of the building.

Death’s car’s gas cap is on the driver’s (left) side.

When he arrives at the gas station, there are two cars. One is a large, white delivery van parked diagonally in the wider left space, effectively blocking both left and right pumps. The other is a small, blue compact blocking the right space.

Both owners are in the building. Death waits for one of them to come out before committing himself to a row.

The large white delivery van reminds him of when he used to drive a large, white delivery van in college. You drove it standing up. He very nearly rear-ended a car in Vancouver, Washington once, down near the I-5 bridge, because he was watching a girl. Imagine that! What is it with death and maidens? He slammed on his brakes at the last possible second. It was summer, he was young and strong, and the tires screeched on the asphalt.

Two women with long, frizzy, light blonde hair and dark blue coats exit the building and climb into the blue car. Death leaves his motor idling, moves his car up behind theirs and waits for them to drive off, but they don’t. They don’t appear to be doing anything. They don’t seem to be having a discussion, or looking for the key (the driver had that in her hand already while exiting the building) or arguing or talking on a mobile phone or programming the navigation device or finding a station on the radio.

They are just sitting there.

Okay, death thinks. Whatever. They will eventually notice a car behind them and drive away.

Meanwhile the driver of the van exits the building in a hurry. He looks over at the van, but then turns left and tries the door of the men’s room. Finding it locked, he goes back inside for the key. He dashes back out, unlocks the door and disappears inside.

The blue car now has death curious. What are they doing? Why are they not moving? Are they rude? Distracted by some emergency or crisis? Having a quiet argument? Blind with grief? Laughing over a joke? Are they just stupid morons?

Cause, seriously, death is two meters behind their car, in his own car, motor idling, lights on.

Death waits a little longer, then gets out of the car and walks over to the driver’s side window of the blue car. The two women are sitting inside, looking straight ahead.

Weird, death thinks.

He bends over and taps on the glass.

The driver looks over at him and her entire body jerks such that she is airborne a couple inches before bouncing back down into the seat. Her facial expression is one of panic, briefly.

Am I so scary looking, wonders death. Maybe so. He is about six feet tall, after all, and male, and wearing a long black coat. Death wonders how she would react if he popped up from the back seat, wearing scary fake teeth, on some dark road. It would be the end of her story, he thinks.

The woman recovers and vacillates briefly between rolling down her window and opening her door. Death would roll down his window, but she opens her door a crack.

Excuse me, says death. Would you mind moving your car a few meters forward so I can put gas in my tank?

The woman nods and drives forward a few meters, then stops. Death moves his car and begins filling his tank. While he does so, the woman moves her car again, further forward and to the right, over by the high-pressure water washer things and the coin-operated vacuums. Then she loops around to the left, making a U, until she is in front of the diagonally-parked delivery van, blocking its easy exit.

The delivery truck driver exits the men’s room, returns the key, and jockeys the van back and forth until it can get around the blue car,  and drives off.

Death goes inside and pays. He has a bad taste in his mouth and wants to get chewing gum, but the cashier rings up his gas so fast he doesn’t have a chance to tell her he wants gum and doesn’t want to make her change what she’s rung up so he just lives with it. He pays and returns to his car.

The blue car has turned around again so it is in front of him. It drives off, slowly, death behind it. Out of town plates, notices death. Maybe they’re just lost and trying to figure things out. He gives them plenty of space.

At home, death’s wife is working in her office.

Sorry, death says, I don’t want to bother you for long. I just wanted to give you a kiss. He kisses his wife.

That’s okay, she says. People bug me all the time at work. For hours on end.

Oh do they? says death. Anyone at work do this? He reaches around and squeezes his wife’s breasts.

Is that a trick question? says his wife.

They laugh and laugh.

That death. What a joker.

The Ghost of Christmas Future meets the Smallest Man in the World

So the smallest man in the world is driving along. He just hit a patch of ice so he’s taking it easy. The windows are fogged up a little, in the corners where the vents don’t get them, and encrusted with salt on the outside. As they pass the sugar refinery his daughter asks him what he’s chuckling about.

The look on my… hair stylist’s (he always has to pause to consider what they’re called nowadays) face were I to tell her to “make me look cool” when I go in for my haircut tonight, he says.

Oh, his daughter says.

Lose twenty pounds first, says the smallest man in the world. Then we can talk about trying to look cool. For a small guy, he could lose a lot of weight. And he is small. He’s under eight inches now.

He can barely see over the steering wheel.

He tries to remember if he just told his daughter how awesome she is, or if he only thought it.

He pats her on the leg and tells her, just to be on the safe side.

What is with these people who can recall every day of their life and every thing that ever happened to them? That would totally suck, even if you had a charmed life.

The smallest man in the world is more at the goldfish end of the memory spectrum, at least when he thinks about his life as a whole. But when he tries to recall certain things, he generally can in great detail. Like, he can’t remember, offhand, going to Greece with his family, or keep the individual trips they made there on vacation seperate. But he can remember the rat that jumped as high as his face when he cornered it with a blue push broom in their bungalow in the middle of the night while his wife and daughters danced on their bed, and the way it could navigate their holiday bungalow like an expert in the dark, but couldn’t find its way out the front door when he opened it.

Like that.

The smallest man in the world is meeting his wife for Christmas punch after his haircut.

When he thinks that, he is no longer driving, he’s all, where am I?

I am the Ghost of Christmas Future, says a voice.

The smallest man in the world observes that the Ghost of Christmas Future is totally fucking hot but doesn’t say anything.

I am here to show you the upcoming Christmas.

I’d rather be surprised, says the smallest man in the world. Just surprise me.

I have to show you something, says the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Show me tonight then, says the smallest man in the world.

Doink, something went, “doink” and they were watching the smallest man in the world’s wife standing at a punch stand, talking to one of her many friends who she happened to bump into while waiting for her husband to finish his haircut.

“She cut it pretty short,” she says when her husband arrives.

He shrugs.

She picks him up and he sits on a gold chain around her neck like a swing so he is more at eye level. He looks like gangsta bling.

What’re you having, she asks.

Something strong. Turbo punch if they have it, something along those lines, he says.

She tells him about her day, he tells her about his day.

They drink punch.

The smallest man in the world thinks about abundance and utopia. He is convinced the world is an abundant utopia that we just happen to be ruining because we are so stuck on how to get to heaven that we don’t notice we’re already there.

Except for one thing. In his utopia, the smallest man in the world would be the boss. And he’s not the boss here. But that’s just a personal thing. His personal utopia. In a real, general utopia, he could handle not being the boss, and this is actually pretty close. Especially with this punch, wow.

He stands close to his wife and puts his arm around her. He can do this and hang from a golden chain around her neck at the same time.

Then, doink, he’s back in his car with his daughter. Wow, I almost just missed the turn and took you to work with me today, he says.

People do that a lot, says his daughter.

Look at that asshat, he says. If he comes to a stop in the parking lot entrance to let his kid out and blocks me out here in the fucking street I’m fucking honking.

Don’t you dare, says his daughter.

He lets her out and stays there watching her until she’s safely across the street. Then he goes to work. Then he has lunch, then he goes home.

And so on. There, in his abundant utopia.

And then I found ten dollars…

Technical question:

Had WIFI problems so my provider sent me a new, improved modem. I installed it. The connection via ethernet cable works fine, using it right now on the PC. The WIFI says it’s fine, but I can’t get online with my macbook. Sometimes it claims to have a connection, one time I even got a page to load, but lost the connection soon thereafter. Usually, I get a connection timeout while it’s trying to log in.

Checking various forums, I noticed many mac owners have problems where macbooks which had worked fine suddenly can’t get online although they think they can.

So I don’t know if this is a problem with my new modem or with my old macbook.

Neither did the service line guy I just talked to. He suggested resetting the modem and reinstalling it, or having a technician come out (€€€) or calling the non-free helpline.

One of which I will do, but before I do, I wanted to ask you guys for any input or suggestions you may have here so I sound like less of a dork the next time I call one of these people. Is there anything I can do, for example, with my macbook to improve my chances of getting a connection or finding out what the problem is?

Anything else I ought to be looking into?

Thanks in advance.

The interpretation of dreams

1. I am in the living room, Gamma is beside me on the sofa. The cat is going mad with a drinking straw, clawing the underside of the sofa. I slap the back of the sofa and tell the cat she’s making it hard to concentrate on ‘Inception’ which we are trying to watch.

2. No, wait, that’s reality, the top stopped spinning and fell over.

3. Alpha and I were at Gamma’s school. Despite her forgery tendency, all her teachers like her, except maybe the boring one who doesn’t like anything, and her grades are okay.

4. No, wait, the top stopped spinning again.

5. A dark-haired woman in a white dress was kind to me. We had a nice, long conversation.

6. My daughter was stuck in a house with lion and I had a plan to get it out, the lion.

7. Physicists were flying around with jetpacks. Which looked like barstools, and were very quick and maneuverable.

8. I played two recognizeable (to me) songs on the saw (Red River Valley and You Are My Sunshine  – my dad used to sing them all the time. It was his birthday recently.). No, wait, the top…

9. Something else I can’t recall. My eyes hurt, I’m going to bed. But I’ll drive the van into the river first, just to be sure.

The smallest man in the world and high voltage rock ‘n roll

The Smallest man in the World is down to about eight or nine inches. Sometimes he finds himself trapped in a bad comedy routine.

Sandy and Mandy, at some dying hotel in the Poconos (?), performing, by popular demand, their This Couple Gets Lost In The Big City On Their Way To Pick Up Their Daughter’s Wrecked Car In The Middle Of Winter And Start Bickering.

I told you to bring the GPS, sez Sandy.


We’ll be here til Thursday, remember to tip your waiter.

Finally, the Smallest Man In the World is alone in the wrecked car. We all have a place we belong. Maybe you belong at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, or feeding scrofulous pigeons in Venice. The Smallest Man in the World belongs in his daughter’s fogged-up wrecked car.

He’s idling the motor, waiting for the window to clear before he leaves. The radiator seems to be at an angle, so he has opted to take the slow way home and not the freeway, because this is what strikes him as the best idea.

Driving a wrecked car at freeway speeds strikes him as somehow unwise, due to things like overheating, and parts falling off, and explosions, and so on.

Two Slavic types in long leather coats ask him if he’s leaving soon, because a guy is coming to give them a jump because their battery’s dead. “As soon as my window clears up,” says the Smallest Man, but then their friend comes and is blocking traffic so he leaves early, with just a tiny patch of clear glass to see out of, being a nice guy.

Also, he’s the Smallest Man, how big a piece of clear glass does he need?

The slow way, he thought, would be fast due to everyone wanting to go the fast way, but it turns out to be slow.

One thing he doesn’t do is listen to high voltage rock and roll. He has the heater on, and the lights, he doesn’t want to run anything else, just in case the alternator is fried. He’s sitting, stuck, at a million lights on the way out of town, but the engine is cold and even covered with ice and snow, so it’s okay until he gets out of the city.

Only then does it start creeping up, the needle.

Otherwise, it’s a sweet little car. Too bad it’s a ’95. With this damage to the hood, radiator, bumper and grill, it’s totaled.

Still, he counts his blessings. Both headlights are busted, but it’s not entirely dark yet. The radiator is smooshed, but it’s a cold day.

And moreover, his kid is okay. Just a few bruises. She’s okay.

And that needle isn’t in the red zone yet.

Of course, there is this mountain. The needle goes into the red right at the top of the mountain. The Smallest Man puts the car into neutral and coasts down the other side of the mountain, watching the needle go back down.

There is nothing else he’d rather be doing. This is it. Janelle Monáe could be sitting by the side of the road waving a headscratcher and he’d coast right past.

This is it.

Julian Assange, interviewed by Sigmund Freud on the most awesome things of 2010

Sigmund Freud: So, Mr. Assange, you are ze most awesome sing of 2010, I have been told.

Julian Assange: Well, in fact…

Freud: Vell, not you literally, I mean WikiLeaks, your brainchild, is ze most awesome sing.

Assange: Well, yes, but WikiLeaks actually originated in 2006. So to what extent it is a *thing* of 2010 might be debatable.

Freud: You have authority issues, no?

Assange: Do you want to go there, Dr. Freud? After all, who invented the fetish, you or I?

Freud [chuckles]: And ver would ze Internet be vissout fetishes?

Assange: My vote for most awesome thing of 2010 would have to be either Janelle Monáe or the headscratcher.

Freud: Headscratcher?

Assange: That springy metal thing that looks like a cross between a spider and a tiara. God.

Freud: Of course.

Assange: Seriously. Give it a go.

Freud: I have my pipe.

Assange: A headscratcher is better.

Freud: Even wiss an oral fixation?

Assange: Hands down. Here we are. Here’s a picture: headscratcher

On my daughter, and the WikiLeaks guy

Yesterday it snowed generously here in Austria, and I got a call from my wife at lunch telling me that Beta had wrecked her car between Vienna and Town X and I should go to her. There are several ways to get there and I asked where she was precisely and my wife was unable to tell me. So I called Beta and she was unable to tell me, too. So I went one way and drove back the other and didn’t see Beta anywhere because she’d gotten the car, which is said to look like an accordion now, started and driven back to her place.

So I went back to work, richer by one hairy snow driving experience, but worried about the kid, who was said to be fine although car totaled. Later that evening she went to the hospital to have pains looked into. They turned out to be various contusions. The one on her nose was not from the accident, it was from slipping on snow in front of the hospital and falling on her nose. That reminds me I still have to apologize to her for giving her the slapstick gene. Just this weekend she dropped her cell phone in the crapper, chip off the old block.

She told me she spun on the snow and hit a guardrail and wrecked the car. Turns out she came to a stop pointing the wrong way on a freeway. Yikes. She’s always been exceptional. She even has awesome snow mishaps.

I’m trying to get her to come home with me tonight but I think she has other plans.

Fucking snow, man.

Also, Julian Assange, what does one think about him? Crusading hero or Bond villain? Depends who you ask, I guess. I’d be growing a beard if I were him, getting some plastic surgery, putting on weight.

All that stuff. Actually, I’m putting on weight anyway, even though I’m not him, it’s winter.