5.1.2003

For the Week of: 5/1-7/2003

"You are more intemperate in your blood/Than Venus."
Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing [IV.i.59]

The New Moon in May, it is said, in the South of England, to have something to do with curing scrofulous complaints. I should show that Moon my inbox some time.

Taurus: Not long ago, I was looking for an inexpensive solution to my cigar habit. I didn't want a box of fancy cigars, just a nice source of cheap, hand-rolled, imported cigars. Something suitable to have with my coffee in the morning, while answering mail, something tasty yet well short of the premium price for most of the brands I like.

One place around here, they had this deal going, it was a bundle of hand-rolled, individually banded, Dominican Robustos [Cuban-seeded, long-leaf filler, & etc.] The best part? The price, per cigar, was only about $1.32. The catch? The real brand on the cigars, under the "handmade" part of the label? It's common cigar company, generally frowned upon by us aficionados.

The deal? It was a good deal. I bought a bundle. It was worth it, too. Tasted just fine with my morning coffee. Or even with soda water in the evening, after some Tex-Mex. Good solution to my quest for a decent, inexpensive cigar. The problem with my cigars, though? Doesn't matter that they are basically a good smoke. Doesn't matter that they stink the way a good cigar is supposed to. Doesn't matter that they are actually hand-rolled, and imported tobacco. The brand itself bothers the snobs. In our own homes, when no one is watching, it's okay to indulge ourselves with cheap stuff, we're not trying to impress anyone, this is about guilty pleasures. Take what deals come along and enjoy.

Gemini: When I was much, much younger, I was very interested in fly-fishing. Quite the sport. It's both old-fashioned and yet, modern, too. The problem is, for me, fly-fishing takes lots of work for little fish. Now, it's true, on spring-like summer day, in the Rocky Mountains, with a full stringer of small fish, the task feels rewarding. But I would have to spend many long nights tying flies, getting gear together, making travel arrangements, doing all kinds of hard work, just to get a few days alongside a mountain stream.

Then there's fishing itself, fighting mosquitoes, battling branches along the mountain stream, sure seems like a lot of hard work for just a few paltry fish. Not having that ability [although some folks think I do] of being able to feed hordes of people with just a few fish, the effort doesn't match up with the rewards. Not when I can stop by a sporting good store and buy a handful of lures or some plastic worms, jump in a bass boat and be fishing all day for ornery bass [and the occasional perch].

Much less effort, much greater return, in my opinion. I'm sure if I lived close to some mountains, it would be a different story, then bass fishing would be too much work, and fly fishing would make perfect sense. Look at where you're at. Should you be spending all your time trying to do something that doesn't work in your environment that well? Or is this a similar way to occupy your time that has a much greater reward?

Cancer: Yes, Mercury is doing his backward thing, and yes, that makes for uncomfortable times. But it's not all bad. I went fishing with a buddy, appropriately named Bubba, and we were wrangling over who gets to sit where in the boat. I let him win. He chose the front seat, which also meant, he had to work the trolling motor. Think about this, trying to steer, fish, look at the depth gauge, watch for snags, and keep one foot on the pedal for that little trolling motor. It's a lot of work.

Did I mention fishing? Right, that's the whole point to the exercise, in the first place. With Mercury where he is, think about losing an argument over where you sit in the boat. You might wind up having more fun as a loser, as hard as that is to imagine.

Leo: I've used this analogy before, but let me explain, there's a serious, astrological, reason for what I'm suggesting. Remember "Year 2000," and how all the computers in the world were going to quit working? The sky was going to fall? The end of the world, twilight of the human race and so on? Then nothing happened? I was at a party, and I flickered the light switch, just to get a few peoples' nerves.

I was thinking about this because I was dining sumptuously on a can of my Y2K stash--not that I was worried, just prepared--in case. I still have a few cartons of food around. Mercury is like that, especially in its current position, bringing up something from Y2K, and maybe, if you're like me, you can turn this into an acceptable snack. Just don't check the "use by" date printed on the can. That still worries me.

Virgo: Got one little problem, you feel like having a party, but the stars are stacked against you. I don't mean that you shouldn't feel this way, it's just the odds of being able to gather up all the people that you want for your party might not all show up. Too many other signs are not as social as you are.

Plus, there's the added and onerous problem with Mr. Mercury. I doubt, though, that you're going to let him get you down. Just be prepared for little situations that don't seem to go according to your perfect plan. They will, eventually. I used to do a lot of software development at times like this, fully aware that I would have to rewrite most, if not all, of everything I was working on. Didn't matter, as it was a great way to get accustomed to the learning curve. Do some development at this point, just understand, that yes, Mercury is backwards, and yes, he's going to have trick or two, and yes, you'll have to cover some of this ground again.

Libra: I'd be careful about making aesthetic decisions over the next few days. Remember: Mercury is retrograde. This doesn't mean it's all bad, but I once flirted heavily with an idea, a purchase I wanted to make for the trailer's walls. Looked great at the flea market. Seemed like a piece of art that would fit my own, personal space and tasteful, yet artfully, make a statement about me.

Being a good student of astrology, and realizing that the littlest planet was, indeed, going backwards at that moment, I put the decision off. Which, as it turned out, was a good idea. A "Virgen de Guadalupe," done up as a tapestry, might be a wonderful idea, but there's something about a having The Virgin on the walls of my basically pagan abode. Might upset some sort of cosmic system of checks and balances.

After looking into the matter of the purchase more closely, I also figured that the tapestry I was looking at? It wouldn't fit, unless I folded over some of either the top or bottom. Sort of ruins the effect of having such a killer piece of art on the wall, you know? So maybe make sure you've got a place to put it, before you buy.

Scorpio: Not only is Mercury doing his little "backward-mambo-mayhem" thing, he's doing his dance in the sign directly opposite from you. That takes this sort of troubling occurrence, and it highlights some of the errors caused by Mercury's actions. This is not always good.

I know that you rarely, if ever, make mistakes. But sometimes, the key I hit on the keyboard, and the message sent from the keyboard to the computer get a little confused. I don't have many typographical mistakes, so the problem obviously falls into the category of "bad computer" or "bad keyboard," or, if nothing else is around to blame, it must be the software.

Over the next few days, even a week or more, you're going to encounter more than one situation. It's the keyboard, the computer, the software. I know it's not you, and you know it's not you, but that doesn't stop these mistakes from occurring. Do like I do, and you can quote me, "It's something in the software, I'm sure."

Sagittarius: Thematically, some folks will think that this scope and the one after it are on the same kick. They're not. Sagittarius and Capricorn are as different as night and day. And in Capricorn, I had to explain about cleaning out a car, whereas in Sagittarius, I have to explain about cleaning out a trailer. Imagine, you get this idea that you want to clean house. Great idea. Springtime, the weather is still almost cool, Raise the windows, pull open the shutters, and then you can do like I've done exactly once: I took all my personal belongings out of the trailer, and stacked it all up in the "front yard," such as it is. I got busy scrubbing and cleaning, then, as the middle of day rolled around, a few clouds started to gather on the horizon. We get these low, scudding gray clouds that are just full of moisture, blowing up from the coast. But I still had about three-quarters of a trailer left to clean. However, I kept up with my self-assigned task of clearing away some of the accumulated cat hair, mud left over from last fall, salt from last February's ice, and assorted other duties.

Bubba stops by, unannounced, as it were, "You moving? I thought you'd just take the trailer with you." Then it started to sprinkle, those clouds threatening to unleash a veritable torrent. It turned out to be nothing more than light drops of water, stirring up dust, so I kept scrubbing, working my way into the tiny bathroom with a brush and bleach. My Bubba friend talked for a while, but I kept after what I was doing, instead of paying him much attention.

Think: mission, a man with a plan and goal. It's a great idea, a little housecleaning. The problem? It didn't show up until much later, some of my bed linens got a little damp, and I put them back in the closet a little moist, and when I went to get them out a few months later, there was a faint, aromatic hint of mold. Housecleaning is good, especially this week, but make sure you don't forget one little detail that'll bite your backside later.

Capricorn: True story--I was leaving on a trip with a Cap friend, and days before we were to depart, she lost her wallet, assumed stolen. So quick, she had to replace her credit cards and driver's license. A year later, she was out of town, and she'd asked me to look after her cat and car, and "Oh yeah, the brakes work if you pump them, could you put some more brake fluid in the reservoir?"

Dutiful friend that I am, I did both. [Hint: don't mess with red heads.] While digging through the accumulated trash in her car, to find that brake fluid, I found a wallet. Hers. Credit cards, Driver's License, and so forth. I left messages everywhere, wondered how she got on plane without identification, and let her know I could overnight her wallet to her. Days went by.

When she finally calls from her idyllic vacation spot, me? I'm sick to death with worry that she's had to do something drastic, not having ID or plastic to pay for anything, "That's that wallet I thought was stolen! You found it, cool." I got all worked up into a Capricorn sweat over nothing. Couple of lessons here, having to do with a New Moon in Taurus and Mercury being backwards, too. Look twice before you assume anything. If you dig deep enough, there are some buried things that might pay off. As a final suggestion? Check your brake fluid level, it's usually a little plastic deal with a cap and a "minimum" and "maximum" lines on it. Never overfill the brake fluid.

I still don't know what those cylindrical paper and cotton items were, either, I found them under the seat of her car.

Aquarius: After years and years of dealing with the unsettled lifestyle of Uranus in Aquarius, no sooner does he move along, then Mars comes frying in. One my friends returned from Spring Break, and he was fried from sitting in the sun too long. Another spring breaker buddy was fried, too, but it had to do with excessive consumption of uncontrolled substances.

The parties are all long over, and it's a long haul from here, on into the middle of the summer [Northern Hemisphere, adjust as necessary for local conditions]. Sure, it's an old joke in these parts, but between the influence of life supposedly being good, and Mr. Mars leaning on you to try something new, the one thing I'm afraid of in the Aquarius chart? "Hey, ya'll watch me do this!" With proper planning and foresight, it's amusing. Without proper planning, and not thinking your actions through, that's one of the most frightening expressions I ever hear.

Pisces: Some people are just too stubborn for their own good, aren't they? Ever wonder about that? Why do they hold onto outdated ideals, pursue goals that are in no way attainable, or even chase after ill–though out dreams? What are those people thinking? Or are they even thinking? Good question. Notice I keep referring to other people, other signs, not gentle and sweet Pisces. I had to take the cat to see the vet. I outweigh said cat by a factor of at least ten, maybe more, depending on the time of year, and how much we're both willing to lie about our weight.

As soon as the cat carrier comes out the storage shed, there's a problem. I've tried numerous ways of getting around this hassle. One time, I tried putting cat food in the carrier. Didn't fool her for a minute. Another time, I tried leaving the carrier out with its door open for a week. Still didn't fool her. This last time, I pulled the carrier out, and picked up the cat, and dropped her in it before she had a chance to put up a fight. "Look, girlfriend," I said to the Mistress of the Trailer, "some things just got to be. We're going for a little ride." Sometimes, you run into things [pet owners] that out weigh you by a considerable amount. You can be the cat or me, but struggling only results in useless bloodshed--what one cartoonist calls a "band-aid moment".

Aries: It's an old, inside joke, the bit about "FGS World Headquarters and Used Tires." More than one person has remarked, given the office location, about the preponderance of makeshift retail establishments that sell used tires. Some folks turn their collective noses up at the thought of used tires, but at a fraction of the cost of new set, and when you're putting skins on an older vehicle, sometimes used tires make sense.

Or, in the case of one of my neighbors, he works construction, and his old truck gets around to a lot of construction sites. Almost daily. Sites that are full of pointed, metal objects that have a tendency to let the pressurized air escape from tires. [Nails.] In terms of time, money, and the way these things wear out so frequently, I'd like to suggest you look into using "used tires" for yourself. Last time I did that, it was a pinhole puncture in the side of the tire on my truck. The spare was good, so I just bought a spare spare, and it only cost me $20. You've got a similar problem. Run the numbers, do the math, figure out however you want. My solution may not be the best looking, but it might save you some money--especially in the long haul.