Annual year in review
I've got text journals going back for what seems like years, doing an annual "year in review" and what to look forward to, for myself, in the coming year. What was last year like? The big mistakes, the great triumphs? Looking back helps me cast forward, too. I had dinner with Bubba last night.

It started with the weather, see, in the morning, the forecast was for rain, but it was warm and sunny, sort of. Scudding clouds, but nice, nonetheless. I opted for shorts, figuring the forecasters were off their mark. Bubba calls me on the way home, "You on the bus?" No, but I was walking over the bridge, and heading home, thinking about a can of chili and some cheap, easy-to-make Frito pie. And long pants.

"Is it chilly out?" Which prompted my lame attempt at a joke. So instead of something quiet at home, we trooped on over to a Delaware sub shop for the Monday Night special, which, bang for the buck, is a pretty good deal. $5 for chips, drink, and a huge roast beef sandwich piled high with peppers and onions, all grilled up and toasty.

One guy was working, and until we showed up, he was all set to call it a night. Before we ever got the sandwiches, though, Bubba's chair broke, and in his valiant save, he managed to dump diet coke all over the tabletop, but fortunately, he missed the chips and ourselves. Not off to a good start. I was mumbling apologies and trying to find the humor in it all. Sandwiches were good even though we had to sit at another table. Not like the place was crowded. We were the only customers.

"Ah, man, that's okay."

"Yeah, well if I'd hurt my back, I would've sued you for tens of thousands of dollars," Bubba replied.

That lone employee, in a rare display of emotion, looked bemused, sotto voce, "Ten of thousands? Not very likely, not this place."

I was most near done with my sandwich when it fell out of my hands and splattered on the floor. While I' sure, at one time, that floor was clean enough to eat off of, I wasn't much in the mood for pushing my luck.

As we started dissemble towards the door, mumbling apologies to that one, lone employee, he offered us the rest of the cookies in the display.

"We bake them fresh every morning, either you take them or I throw them out. Man, I know how it is when you're high like that."

I got three-quarters of meal, plus a free desert, and while we did make a huge mess, some of it wasn't our fault. I'll admit, I just didn't have a good grip on that roast beef, my hand was slick with grease and hot sauce.

2002 wraps up just like last night's meal. It was a year of three-quarters, and some pretty good flops. Two hours into 2002, I found that Robert Earl Keen was a Capricorn. I also discovered that some bass fishing jokes don't translate to other fisherman.

I automated my delivery system. I finally got a grip on Cascading Style Sheets. I found out that horoscope columns are not selling very well-if at all. I'm wondering if content is still king, like I was so oft-assured, at one time.

I did trim my operating costs, got it down to bare bones. Doesn't cost much to run this place now. All it takes is time. And a reliable host plus a dependable net connection.

One of colossal failures in the last year, one I have to admit, is my complete and utter inability to break into local media in any way, shape or form. Never have been able to crack the Austin circle. Which always reminds me of a story about a local band. Actually, several local groups are like this: they can fill a stadium abroad, but locally? They can hardly get a gig at the opening of new car wash. I'm in good company.

This was also the first year that I trimmed what I do down to just a few tasks. One if the weekly column, and the other is web journal. Of that, I am happiest. Plus, the weekly now has a publication date of Thursday - that was new in 2002. Used to be Mondays, and that was a headache. The traffic pattern was a horrendous on Mondays dribbling to trickle by the weekend. These days, I get a crunch for the first four hours the scopes are live, then it tapers off, but to my mind, I like the Thursday schedule. The website's traffic patterns are lot better with more weekend hits than before. I can count on one hand the number of web traffic reports wherein I've had less than 100 hits an hour (real page views, not just "hits").

I also launched the "free" e-mail delivery, but I'm probably going to move that a real subscription form some times. Thanks for that little necessity go to Yahoo, Hotmail, and the other free web-based e-mail sources. I've spent way too much time administering an e-mail list. I don't know if that's a win or a loss. I remember one week, shortly after I added the "suggested donation" part, thinking that it was too much trouble to hook up a phone line, plug in the laptop, and send the scopes out. I was about to let one week go by, when I got a couple of bucks shot down the tube. Even though it's merely chump change, each paid subscription goes a long way to towards defraying the cost of running this outfit. And when those dollars dropped in the jar, I felt as if I had some kind of a moral obligation to go ahead and send out copy.

Pull out the laptop and find a phone line. The place where that's the most curious experience is in the Alpine-Marfa-Ft. Davis area, one of my favorite spots on the whole planet.

At one hotel, I had to pull the bed out from the wall to get to the phone jack. At another, I had to amble down to the lobby to "borrow" their house phone.

For that matter, there are a couple of places I've stayed out there where there is no phone. That's cool.

2002 will soon be behind me. It's just like the weather, "shorts or pants?" Or it's like that meal the other evening, some of it fell out, but I'm not sure I want to touch the part that fell on the floor. However, the joy I get from my weekly, and this journal? Just like free cookies that aren't stale. That doesn't suck.

Invite from some musician buddies:

> Greetings and Happy Holidays,
> We here at Jefferson Truett have only one question for
> you...do you want to party with the amateurs or with
> the professionals?
> Every year we put so much pressure on ourselves to
> have a good time on New Year's Eve...so much, in fact,
> that it usually sucks so bad we swear we're staying in
> the next year and renting Yentil instead. I'm sorry,
> but we cannot let you do that. Yentil is a bad, bad
> movie.
> We know you have options on New Year's Eve. You can
> go downtown, pay $10 for the PRIVILEGE to park on 10th
> street, pay $20 for the PRIVILEGE to drink at
> Aquarium, fight the 20-something's with frosted-tipped
> hair and daddy's gold card for a $7 beer, and then
> watch them hook up with incredibly attractive
> people at midnight.
> Why not let the professionals here at Jefferson Truett
> take the pain and pressure out of New Year's Eve. Why
> not party with us, the professionals?
> For a modest sum of $15 (couples $25-use your
> imagination), you will enjoy the following:
> -music from Jefferson Truett
> -Jodi
> -New Year's party favors (one size fits all)
> -champagne toast(s)
> -Pope
> -free parking
> -Sean
> -the PRIVILEGE of bringing in your very own bottle of
> liquor (at least a $15 value, you drunks)
> -Rob
> -a good chance to sit
> -Les
> -so much more we cannot legally print...
> Also included in your admission price is the location
> of the super-secret after-hours after-party. Being
> that the Carousel Lounge will shut it's doors after
> the ringing in of the New Year (that whole liquor
> license thang), we must move the party...and we don't
> stop rockin' til someone gets badly hurt (and that's
> usually around 6:15am).
> The Carousel Lounge
> 1100 E. 52nd Street (one block off Cameron Rd., two
> blocks from I-35 & 51st street exit)
> music starts at 9:00
> cover: $15 stag, $25 drag
> Thanks for the memories this year,
> Jefferson Truett

Moon in Scorpio (along with Mars & Venus)
I found a warning, and I was going to add it to the fine print, but I'm not sure I wanted to use it for that long. Too good to pass up, though, "WARNING! Astrologer under pressure. Contents may explode."

I got headed home, and I was thinking about an REK song, one of those tunes that used to be cool, but overplayed on the radio, and attracting a more "pop" crowd, sort of kills the song. But it really happened... "reached into my pocket, pulled out two twenties and ten, feels so good, feeling good again..."

I was trying to decide whether or not to wear the same jeans I've been wearing for the last week, and I decided go ahead as it looked rainy and damp-like, so instead of getting a fresh pair of pants splattered with mud and pizza, just go for the old ones. I reached into the pocket, and I pulled out two twenties and a ten.

Alamo Drafthouse had a special going, Robert Rodriguez's first big film break, that cult classic, "El Mariachi." Starring no one I know. Done in Mexican with English subtitles. The Alamo has a pizza - I think it's linked to this very film - called "El Mariachi," which is hamburger, jalapenos, and lots of red salsa. Muy good.

Perfect match, too. I got to thinking about it, the movie, and wondering if it's a lot like Hamlet or that Scottish Play, you know, lots of bodies at the end. Lots of bodies. That's a good thing, I think.

Besides, I'm sure the body count matched the pizza. Afterwards, we all trooped over to Halcyon's for coffee and discussion. Anything else you read about me, or my behavior is nothing but lies, pernicious lies.

astrofish.net, astrology and more design questions
Couldn't ask for a finer comment. That design question? How about really simple splash page with an image fraught with deep significance to me?

My own astrology report reminded me:
Dec 26 through Dec 31
"It usually foretells unexpected upsets .... You will have a tendency to feel thrown off balance in some way so that you question stability of the situations you normally count on as being more secure in your life. Sudden mood changes or impulsiveness are likely, if you can imagine that. You are also prone to sudden emotional excitement, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not."

I talked to that Virgo friend, and I convinced her to swing by the apartment complex to pick me up - yes, I know, I shouldn't have to work on weekend - but it was only a few hours - and I did get a ton of random paperwork out of the way - so she shows up and I'm on the phone. I see her car, the LSU sticker, then she heads on back down the road. Ten minutes later, she calls, "I couldn't find the directions, and I couldn't remember the place, so I came home."

So much for an afternoon in the sun someplace, sipping caffeinated beverages and stuffing spicy food down my gullet. She did return, though, after I pointed out that the buses don't run real regular-like on Satruday.

Order of events: Cerviche de Pulpo at Curra's, on the patio. Trailer park life, getting caught up on who is doing what to whom, and basically, arriving at the conclusion that everyone who lives around here is, and I quote, "a freak." Then Sam's, for some much needed groceries. Plus an extra stack of blank CD's for burning system disks and such. Amy's on the way home, for that extra sugar rush to pack all those groceries into a trailer's kitchenette.

Nothing upsetting thus far. In fact, after I balanced the checkbook, I still had some money left over, maybe enough for lunch tomorrow. Then again, maybe not.

Two issues came up out of this, one being the idea that maybe I should move up to the apartment life and be an on-site manager. Make my commute a lot easier. But give up the gossip that goes on around here? That hour of just listening sort of cured me of that idea. The other point was that I still had money leftover after a signing a big check for supplies. A regular paycheck is nice, instead of depending on the kindness of strangers, which, I suspect, will be a big item in the near future.

I was left, in Saturday's twilight, on the doorstep with a case of bottled water, a stack of blank CD's, some extra audio tapes (for readings), and a pile of groceries. Considering how bare the cupboard's been, not a bad haul.

There's something satisfying about a having my needs met.

Keep Austin Weird
"Kramer, you're toting the banner for that one. You're leading the parade."
(Source? A Virgo.)

No, not that Virgo, the other one.

I ran into this one girl the other evening, she was cavorting with politician friends while on the patio at Guero's.

"What? Are you afraid of me? Look: I played guard on the college basketball team, and the way you were moving was hard for me to keep up with you!"

Nope, not afraid. In fact, we'll have a reading in a little while. Just one of those things.

Poster boy for "Keep Austin Weird," indeed.

Undo typing
I was contracted for a little computer work, basically, I took a new computer out of its box, peeled the shrink wrap off, plugged it in and got paid for an hour's work.

I'd complain, but there's not much to complain about. Got a free lunch, had a chance to peek into the inside of another writer's mind, too. Over the desk, below shelf full of neatly arranged books is a little, nicely typed note, "'UNDO TYPING' is a powerful command."

It was a long weekend with the family. That much is sure. Sister was frantic, Ma Wetzel was ruminating on her sore feet, and Pa Wetzel was good for a spell, but towards the end, he got a little anxious.

Sitting in the departure lounge, I realized that I was still for the first time in a week or more.

Just not moving for long.

Back to work today - astrology readings and apartments plus web tweaking to make Ms. Fredlet happy again.

Xmas morning, Sister's s/o (significant other) was sound asleep. Sister drug out her three laptops, and an airport base station, network cards, wires, cables, power adaptors, and looked at me, "You're my big brother, you can make it all work."

Three separate systems, three different kinds of apples, I'm not much for this cybernetic husbandry.

Pa Wetzel plays barista, too. Sister was seriously wound tight after her third or fourth homemade Egg Nog Cappuccino.

"I don't think she needs anymore caffeine."

merry xmas.

I ran into a friend of an old girlfriend at the airport last night. Virgo. "Hey, how you doing, what're you up to? Off to Dallas? Me too."

Funny how that works. I'd just put my belt back on, so I felt fully clothed. Plus I had on a nice tweed sport coat (Italian in design and execution, actually), a nice shirt, clean jeans, and the boots had the remnants of a shine still on them. "Looking good," I'm thinking to myself, "that'll get around."

Even better, I'd just swiped a Wall Street Journal from the doorstep of an empty apartment. I hope I never rent that place (I'm afraid I will, the way things are going.) So there I was, looking good, wrestling with 802.11 access at the airport, and I run into an girlfriend's girlfriend. What will they say?

Two Towers & two airports
I was wearing my Cattleman's Steak House T-shirt the other day, perfect match. Last night, I had on Cranky Amy's b-day gift, a T-shirt that says, "Help Airline Security: fly naked." Sagittarius girls are funny like that.

Going to work, then going to the airport for a shuttle to Dallas. Home for the holidays. Going to be an interesting time, that's for sure. When Sister depicted me in a performance, she chose a feather duster to display my character. I've got her a special "natural lamb's wool" feather duster to even the score. But that's about it. Pickings are thin this year.

My Pisces friend and her mother snagged me as an escort for the "Two Towers." Absolutely packed theater. Got there an hour early, hung about a bit, munched on popcorn, and I kept getting the Pisces to look at her watch. 15 minutes of trailers. Not as bad as I'd heard, and the movie follows one of my hard and fast rules about sequels: don't change a thing. Guess they didn't. I didn't see "Lord of the Rings," at least not this latest version, so I can't say.

I was duly impressed with most of the animation sequences. Sword play was pretty cool. The tree guy, though, was pretty much a let down from my own imagination, as were some of the other scenes. Personally, I think I liked the books better. But it's been a long, long time since I've read them. The copy of The Hobbit in my library is old. I checked, and it's a "23rd printing," but no date was given.

My little laptop is "having issues," these days. I spent several hours on fruitless maintenance, so I might be a little short. I have no patience with a recalcitrant machine. "B Tree is corrupt." Sure, like I know what that is. Guess I know now.

Happy Capricorn: increasingly corporate worlds
I started Saturday morning with the alarm on the palm going off in its cradle, on the desk. I was awake enough to realize it was going off for something. I staggered out of bed, fed the noisome cat, and remembered that there was an early meeting for the group of folks putting together a bid for Austin's group to host the 2003 convention. Since it was at a coffee shop, I skipped making any of my current batch of Raven's Brew (motto: served in bed, strong enough to wake the dead).

Usual suspects, Pisces, Gemini, Sagittarius, and so on. Ms. Scorpio ran the meeting well. As usual, I couldn't commit to anything because the next official meeting falls on a date when I'm out of town. Seriously, I'm starting to get paranoid about this. Might just be me, though.

We discussed several topics relating to conventions and such, and I did volunteer to add some text about the transportation in and around Austin, as seen from a tourist point of view. I've had so many tourists to deal with, I'm sure I can do an adequate job of that description.

My Pisces friend had her mother in tow - it's a holiday thing - and I was stuck trying to explain the difference between corporate coffee houses and the independents.

To speak highly of Starbucks isn't my style, but think about it. Whether I'm in Hawaii, Alaska, Seattle, Utah, Colorado, Midland (TX), Dallas, New York City, Boston, London (UK), or even here in Austin, I know that the furniture is clean. There's a perky crew behind the counter. The (whatever they call it) super-duper sized caffeine and sugar concoction tastes exactly the same in all locations. No problem. Dependable. Sure thing. Safe.

Now, at the Hideout the other morning, that Virgo barista wasn't working, so I didn't bother to have an espresso. Stick to something safe with frothed milk. Can't go wrong. (For my money, the Sagittarius at Jo's makes the best latte, but then, that's just my opinion.) The latte at the Hideout was certainly good (choice of real, 2% or soy milk).

The quality is always good, but it varies from independent to independent. The little coffee shops all offer something on some order of ambiance, too. A special flavor, maybe a gimmick, local color.

Later in the afternoon, just as the winter sun was setting, we were in San Marcos, at the Coffee Pot. My afternoon espresso was certainly good, but not quite as good as that one Virgo's. Still, as an independent store, it offered a unique, one-of-a-kind coffee cup, a little espresso cup with a symbol that looked a like a Pisces glyph.

Go to a Pizza Hut, anyplace on the planet, and the food's all about the same. Go to Valentino's on the square in San Marcos, and like I had, a "Bacon & Ranch" pizza, not a typical menu item outside of a small town in Texas. In fact, I figure it's about the only place with such an item.

Log onto a corporate, large company website about astrology, and wonder who - or what - really writes the daily scopes. Corporate scopes are a lot like corporate coffee, safe, dependable, but certainly lacking in local color. No style. Homogenized. Which, all in all, isn't bad. Same safe scope, served up every time.

Between Jo's on S. Congress and the southern entrance of the State Capitol, there are six coffee shops. Three Starbucks. Then, interspaced, there's Hideout and Little City. About two blocks west, there's the old Ruta Maya, now called Halcyon. I've been assured there's also a Bucks in the basement of the capital building, but I haven't verified that myself.

I'd wager that the coffee concoctions all taste the same in each of those Bucks. And I'll also suggest that the brand of bean, as well as the quality of the espresso, varies in each of the independents.

Price is all about the same, I'm sure, but it all depends on what you're looking for. Personally, I prefer a place with some mismatched furniture, maybe a smoking section, or like that one place, with a real humidor tucked into a corner, serving up smores on a cold night.

A year ago
What I recall, from about year, without looking at the journal, is that I was wrestling with two questions, discontinue the monthly and moving the weekly publication date to Thursday. I wanted to concentrate on the most enjoyable aspects of work.

48 out of 52 of the weekly scopes were successful in the last year, from my point of view. That's a 92% average. I'm calling it good, from my point of view. Good success rate, the way I see it.

Web tweaking included moving the journal to a more accessible format, one wherein I can update without having to be at my computer. I moved to Grey Matter, then more recently, over to pMachine. The backend, technical advantages and disadvantages are really all geek speak*.

I do recall grappling with certain design issues, and I think I finally got them all licked. At least, for the time being. The current page will break with older browsers, but at this point, I can only be so backward compatible. The folks with older browsers tend to not spend money on astrology readings anyway. More automated delivery (midnight, Central Time), quicker load, smaller footprint.

Up until a few weeks ago, writing the scopes remained as enjoyable as ever. Combination of factors at work here. It was last year, after an overwhelmingly successful January, that first Mercury Retrograde just knocked me right out. Went from "most excellent" to a whole week with nothing happening at all. That sort of cyclic activity is normal in freelance work. Even so, I'm still not used to it, not after fifteen years or more. Then, too, those low cycles seem to be punctuated with more than the duly allowable share of "you suck" flame mails.

It's easy to deal with an occasional piece of crap email, but when it stacks up, and when there's not much else coming in, it stings a little. Sometimes it hurts. Some of the mail is just plain mean, as well.

I recall being at the beach, outside Corpus Christi, sometime in the last year or two. I recall a Mexican expression, but I can't do it justice in Spanish, although, I'm sure the phrase sounds sexier in that way, "The sea is a woman." Or something like that, implying, that the sea has it cyclic moments, too. So the normally pristine sands of the beach, particularly at low tide, were covered with kelp. Churned up by weather, or some other natural phenomena, all that plant material was rotting on the beach, with a faint, sulphuric aroma. Didn't detract from the rest of the beach, just along the water line, and just when the tide was out. Memory is hazy, but as I seem to recall, on some portions of the beach, the park department would run a land scraper over the washed up seaweeds to insure tourists wouldn't be disturbed.

That aromatic detritus from the sea, washed out of the Gulf of Mexico, it gets carried further onshore by high tides. Then the northern wind whips down and pushes the meager dunes into the dried out vegetation, and it new plant life takes hold. It's just nature's little way of playing at the edge of the water. Cycles, nothing more - exactly the same as "you suck" email - and they both smell - but the flame mail doesn't have an ocean breeze to wash away its odor.

On the second page of the preface, Prudence Macintosh writes (introduction to Sneaking Out), "I continue to believe, however, that life is richer and perhaps more understandable if I can wrestle it to the page."

I have two core competencies on which I concentrate. Both enrich my life. One is weekly format set of horoscopes. The other is the journal. I do, on occasion, make a fool of myself. But looking at decade's worth of content, I figure that has to stand for some kind of a curriculum vitae of some note.

That enough text for one novel per year, for a decade, no repeats. Interesting challenge, and after wrestling it to the page, one that I'm still enjoying. But I'm only doing the fun parts from now.

*I had a chance to play with journal layout, and the older format was a straight template done in an editor, and then I would upload the page fresh every day. At least one local reader has lamented the format change. But it's tedious because the longer a journal got, the more trouble it was to upload. Plus, it meant I had to have a minimum of a phone line and power. With Grey Matter, the format is changeable, but it rebuilds all the files in the archives every time I changed the layout. The good aspect was that the individual entries were stored as separate html files, and thus searchable and indexed by search engines. Plus, all that is required is a browser. Update from any virtual place. pMmachine is similar in that I can update from any browser, plus is has several other nice additions, like a schedule and a flexible layout front. Up side - or down side - is that all the entries are stored in a MySQL database with PHP front end.

Where are the Marx Brothers when you need them?
Some buddy's of mine were playing last night at a sleazy dive not far from home. Couldn't brave the cold weather, my loss, I'm afraid. I was busy, see, because some combination of coffee, egg nog, and a good cigar got to me thinking about chorus line from the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup:

Chorus: "We're going to war, we're going to war, we're going to war!"

A classic line, beginning of the scene, Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx): "A four year old child could understand this. (Quick, run out and find a four year old child, I can't make heads or tales of this report.)"

"Then it's War! And it's War! Gather the forces! Harness the horses!"

"We're going to war - this is a fact we can't ignore - we're going to war...."

Dunno. Denial has been pretty strong in my world. Not like I'm particularly happy with the holidays right now, either. It's like there's something brewing. I kept thinking about history, while riding the bus. Looking back is the best way to extrapolate towards the future. When I sit down with someone to do a reading, I ask questions about what happened when. Chart says, "authority figure confrontation." Client says, "It was my mother (father, boss, significant other), see, and what happened was...."

From that, it's easy to see that thus and such a planet, usually represents the (mother, father, significant other, boss & so forth) really indicates such and such in this one chart.

I'm most curious about the history. I'm wondering just what precedents are being followed here. I also figure it's time to start avoiding the regular media again. Gets depressing.

Not me but close enough
Nice link, nice interview. A direct quote:
"What led you to publish directly on to the web, rather than, say, submitting to graphic novel publishers or going the minicomics route?"

"As I say above, I'm a complete control freak. Also, I tried working freelance for a few years, and it was a largely negative experience. I just plain don't enjoy hustling myself around to people trying to get work. I'd rather actually be doing the work itself."

That's what rang so true for me, "I just plain don't enjoy hustling myself around trying to get work. I'd rather be doing the work itself."

What I enjoy: the actually, tactile part of writing. Listening to that voice in my head dictate. Or, in many cases, letting that voice tell me stories about what's happening. I've also gotten pretty good at bit twiddling, doing the back-end tech for running a website.

Historical note: I coded the first part of this site - by "hand" - in a plain text editor, back in 1994. However, I'm no longer sure that remnants of that code are still here.

What I suck at? Writing those introduction letters. Promoting myself. Or, according to some, I suck at writing horoscopes because I'm too full of myself, but then, the whole point to this exercise in the first place was to entertain myself because there sure wasn't the kind of material I was looking for out there.

"Sagittarius: Full Moon tonight! Relationships are a big issue!"

In solar astrology, the full moon for that sign, like Sagittarius, will always fall in the relationship, the 7th. Man, you can get a computer to write that stuff. Which, according to what I've heard, most websites do.

"I just plain don't enjoy hustling myself around trying to get work. I'd rather be doing the work itself."

If it's not fun, then why bother? Isn't that a goal? I know it's one of mine, I want my tasks to be enjoyable. Challenges I like.

I missed the sunset because I was working for my other boss. The job requires a lot of paperwork, and there's no avoiding on some evenings. I stayed late to move a new tenant in.

I played phone tag with one Gemini girl, then found out I had a meeting with a Virgo girl at Magnolia, and I walked up the hill from home. I was dressed as only I can, shorts, festive green (seasonal) Hawaiian shirt, and striped flannel cowboy shirt over that. Hard to get stuff that doesn't match so close together. Along the way, I ran into another Virgo, then the waiter for the evening was Sagittarius. Rounds out all the mutable signs. While I was waiting, I chatted with my Sagittarius brethren, "You're waiting on a Virgo? I dated one for 6 years...."

But if it's not fun? Why bother?

Just what is this?
I swiped the idea from fredlet's journal, back in the fall of 1998. Like I've said in publication before, it was an answer and an outlet for a number of my needs. It was around Pluto's last pass at my natal Sun, and I had a desire for a different outlet. I actually used the online journal to corroborate some tax information with my accountant one year, since it was the fastest way to figure out what weekends I was where.

Other times, I've used it as a basis for some experimental prose. It's my online workshop. Topics have covered business, etiquette, ongoing aspects of my personal psyche, personal & mental hygiene, web design or, at certain times, what's going. Like this holiday is one of those retail-less times for me. Just the way it goes.

Jupiter may indeed just be retrograde, but I'm still not very happy. Not that there aren't moments, like the amazing sunset. Or the way a leaf looked on a tree. The way a Mexican hand roll from DK's burns so nicely. Or how it's impossible to find parking behind the new Amy's on S. Congress on a Tuesday night because of the milling crowds from The Continental's hippie hour. Or how good it is to combine Mexican Vanilla with some Butterfinger bits while, what was that band's name, is playing.

I've successfully spun off several 'children.' To date, the biggest success was, as he calls it, "The Whore." Cranky Amy and Devota.org are in their nascent phases, but they are coming along nicely.

"Thanks. We'll be in touch."

Liquid crack
This title brought a smile to my face.

Hack: "Favorites" icon. Elapsed time? 5 minutes. Results? In three places. Plus I did Bubba's "whore," too. That one took a lot longer. This backward compatibility work is killing me.

I slipped out of the other office a little early. Wandering home, I stopped for a quick shot of caffeine then stopped to pick up some dinner - a bag of chips nuked together with some canned chili. Do-it-yourself frito pie. Then I discovered the liquid crack. Right there in the dairy case. Egg Nog.

Reading the ingredients, I can't help but worry about my cholesterol levels, or what this does to my blood sugar. I'm glad the holiday's only come once a year.

Lurching towards Monday
I whacked, weeded, tweaked and generally did backend tech stuff at odd hours of the weekend evenings. The weather was nice enough to warrant a long hike. Unfortunately, that hike included picking up a credit card statement - the sales numbers for November.

It's a plaintive wail, "Regrets, I've had a few...." (Oh yeah, name that tune).

It's that manic phase, and until my January arrives, until the sun finally moves out of Sagittarius, for me, it's just not a great time.

I was trying to explain, it's like having a firecracker stand. Big sales, once a year. July 4th. Or, here in Texas? Twice a year, for sure. We can break our small arms for New Year's Eve, too, judging from the highways and byways.

During my meditative hike, one of the ideas that crossed my mind was that it's a good time to put a few items on the back burner. I've been writing the horoscopes, as Fishing Guide to the Stars, for a decade. Or, at least, I've got a decade's worth of material on hand at this time. Been in a half dozen publications. But writing for publication and writing for the web are different animals.

With introduction, weekly quote, calculations, and copyright notice, the weekly scopes run a shade under 3K words. A year ago, at this time, I was wrestling with moving to just a weekly format. Did it. Moved the publication date to Thursday. Did it. Wrestled with posting the weekly scopes - for free - in email, once a week. Did it. (And modified it, which, unless January is really slow, I won't get around to dropping the suggested donation and making it a paid subscription.)

Now the consistent complaint from publishers is that the material is too long. Too focused. Too Texan. Too (something). "Thanks, we'll be in touch...."

I had two or three requests for a monthly column for publications - back to that theme - for free. "We can't pay you, but we'd love to have your stuff, as long as you write about (include their topic)."

Unless it involves large sums of money, it's hard to do anything else, though.

Thanks. I'll be in touch.

Saturn in his prime
I'm getting over the fact that the world is a pretty dismal place.

My Gemini sister has called, on an average of three times a day for the last three days, at work, on the cell phone, leaving me a voice mail, beeping me, "Where ARE you?"

There's an advantage to walking in a downtrodden state. Twice I found bright, shiny pennies, face up. Not that I'm superstitious, but that's supposed to be good luck. I knew I should've checked the mailbox.

For one reason or another, I wound up over yonder from here, and I decided to walk home. Middle of the afternoon, belly full of Mi Madres "Ricky's Special," bright afternoon sun just starting to dip in the winter the sky, and I was angling for Jo's and Amy's, something to make the rest of the evening go a little smoother.

I exchanged cash for a cup of Jo's coffee. The best barista in Austin: Sagittarius. There, sitting at the counter, hiding behind her sweatshirt hood, with only merry eyes peeking out, was a familiar friend. Gemini, in case you're wondering. With her Virgo buddy. Both of them, amusingly enough, were running down Sagittarius males as romantic possibilities. I couldn't agree more - it's configuration in the chart, see....

Those girls were making plans and scams for later in the evening. "We were just sitting here, thinking that you'd walk by and look, here you are!"

I spent the latter portion of the afternoon with their company. Those girls were drinking Lone Star and Tecate, and me supping on my coffee. They looked just like two, bright shiny pennies.

Got home, finally feeling just a little bit more refreshed.

I got to tweaking, as my new-found revelations about style sheets led to better design understanding and so forth. Had a couple of near misses, here and here.

I figure the least common denominator should be AOL on Windows 98. Current design works fast enough on a dialup connection. That's all I'm worried about. Best be on version 5.0 or better.

While I was setting up the ads, I discovered a surprise about one banner affiliate. T-shirt Hell sales quotes are looking good. Their banner ad seems to be working pretty well. Biggest problem? Finding one of their banners' that's not too offensive. The last month's commissions are equal to almost half of the server bill for this site.

The rest of the ads are served on the affiliate site. That means it's no load here.

One of those weeks
Which should have a subtitle of "I'm pissed off at humanity."

On my way around the trail, I plucked an oak leaf from a tree. In the sunlight, that leaf--still attached to the tree--looked like it was brilliant red, a dark, ruby color. It was the perfect shape and form, and I was sure it would make a good picture, if I could just get it in the right light.

One day, "Mi Patron" is excellent. The next? In my face about any one of a number of my shortcomings as his field agent. Never work for friends, strains credibility. My credulity is stressed enough as it is.

Up and down at work, and off for a part of my Saturday to work in the office again. Not exactly my idea of relaxing weekend.

I've done half dozen readings in the last week, but that really doesn't cover much. And there's been an extraordinary amount of hate-mail in my inbound mail.

I thought about posting some of the mail here, along with my replies, but then thought better of myself. While I was riding the bus, I started to compose a form letter reply to have handy, for the next round of "You suck" notes.

"Thank you for taking the time to write in! I appreciate your thoughtful, nicely-worded, and well-thought-out critique. I'm sure my editor will take your criticism under consideration for next week.

"I'm sorry that exactly 1/12 of the column doesn't meet with your expectations. While every effort is made to make fit the column to your needs, and I adhere to strict policy of nothing but facts, occasionally, errors do occur. I certainly am sorry for any pain and suffering this has caused you."

Sincerely, &etc.

There. I feel better.

Funny thing was, that one oak leaf? It didn't look so wonderful once I had it in my hand. The edges were brown and brittle, the winter decay had set in, and it wasn't nearly as colorful as it had been. Must've been a trick of the light, behind it.

In a Republican stronghold
"Stay home, I'm coming by to get you."

It was that sweet Pisces, and she was on her way to fetch me up to paper the capital. The Capitol. Whatever.

See, I've dealt with Pa Wetzel all my life. Typical Libra. So is the other boss, my buddy. And sometimes, he has these great ideas, like, "Put up flyers in the state capital building. All those staffers need a place to stay. Got to be cheaper than a long-stay hotel."

Except, in Libra fashion, the verbal command comes out more like, "We need to put some flyers up at the capital." We. Must be a frog in his pocket.

Don't get me wrong, the man is an excellent teacher, a brilliant artist, and I openly admire the way he runs his business. Smart feller. And that idea of papering the capitol complex is pretty good.

Only, I was little worried. I was wearing a "Life's too short to live in Dallas" (Railhead BBQ, Ft. Worth, Texas) shirt. Ponytail.

Two observations:

UNO: The state rep from Mesquite, Texas has a cool office. The walls are adorned with an excellent collection of posters for events like the Mesquite Rodeo.

TWO-O: The telling moment from my field trip to the State Capitol Complex: outside one room, a big placard read, "QUIET. MEETING IN PROGRESS." Collected around the doors of that meeting room was the loudest, most raucous group of individuals.

I feel so small, out-of-place. Those politicians can out talk me, and that's just on an off day for them.

I've heard it before, and I'm sure I'll hear it again. Mostly from Bubba as he's very well aware of the way I work.

It was in 1995, that was eight years ago, that I first turned in a whole year's worth of horoscopes on a floppy disk. Handed them to the editor at the time, and that was around Thanksgiving. Might've been early November, if I recall, which I don't, I was in Dallas for a family thing.

That was when the scopes ran about 75 words per sign. There was an urgency and tautness to my style at the time, which, these days, frankly, is missing.

Apparently the gremlins' abilities with typographical errors still manage to escape copy editors, proofreaders and even myself, and that spirit carries on!

What Bubba was referring to, was the fact that I tend to work, on the average, one year in advance. It makes for peace of mind. It means I can safely sleep at night, knowing that, hell or high water, my scopes are done.

I was burning a picture CD for Sister for Xmas. Primarily, it's just a back up of the last few months' images. But buried on that CD, I'll have those rough draft copies of next year's scopes. No links, full of errors I'm sure, and not done in a "ready to print" form, but still.

Sure, they're going to missing topical references to current events, I can always go back and edit that in, but the backbone is done. The framework now exists.

That last Xmas column, though, it was terribly difficult to write. Hard to be happy when I've received a litany of complaints from every sign. Seems like no one likes this week's scopes.

Maybe that Capricorn artist guy will do up an appropriate picture, something that catches my true feelings about the complaining parties.

However, for me, it's a triumph. Next year is properly sketched out. I feel better.

Solutions: war, missiles, grunge - dirty laundry?

Solutions to problems?

The media was awash with reports about missiles. Then there's the threat of war, and some place, some students were arrested for protesting the war. It's gotten to the point that I duck media whenever I can. The fewer current events, the better.

Which doesn't mean that the free Wall Street Journal gets missed. What caught my eye, print media is so out-of-date by the time the news hits the wires, anyway, what I read on the bus ride home was about grunge. "Noveaux Grunge," was the term. I might have it wrong. I tossed the paper long before I rolled into the trailer park.

The article was mostly splashy graphics with little substance, other than grunge is back. In other words, the cycles are getting closer together. What was cool less than a decade ago is already back as a potential fad. Apparently, this has retailers worried.

The price of beer is going up, too, and apparently, from what I read, the average beer-drinker is just moving on over to the cheaper product. Viva Lone Star! (Brewed in Ft. Worth, I'm pretty sure.)

But the good news about grunge being back in as a trend means I'll be pretty hip again. Long, unkempt hair, shredded clothing, looking like I was dumpster diving as a fashion statement? I'm hip again. Only took it 9 years to cycle back. Well.

I was all set to do a pile of laundry, but after reading about fashion on the front page of the "personal" section of the Journals, I might just dig out the dirty jeans and wear them again. Have to be cool, these days, that's a challenge.


Hotmail problems. Again.

Leander, TX.
We've got a vendor that we've been working with, and due to the nature of my job, I can't be bothered to ask him what his sign is. So far, he's offered me beer and soda, and his "associate" spends an inordinate amount of time on the cell phone while bidding on the job.

But this one guy, I was intrigued by his accent. First time he rolled through my other office, I asked him where he was from.

"Oi. I live in Leander. That's where I'm from."

I knew it was a British-tinged accent. I wasn't quite sure from where, tough. Midlands? Not Wales, that was for sure. Not Scottish, either. Nor was it Irish.

I pressed the point, though, undaunted in my search for truth. I finally got an answer, Australia.

Sydney, to be precise. Reckon he's been here long enough to establish himself, big truck, cooler of beer in the back, yes, and unlike most local plumbers, he keeps his britches cinched up.

Reduced size and load
I'm happiest when I'm learning something new, especially if the lesson comes packaged in a creative learning environment.

I've been struggling with certain technical issues on the backend of this website for months. Some of this actually goes back years. I bought the software, I bought the book, I bought another book. I looked at hundreds of titles to help me. None of it had what I was looking for. I spent a portion of an evening all cranked up on Egg Nog Latte, just a single triple, and I got around to hammering out the problem.

I get it, a little. Front page weigh in at less than 27K in size now, estimated load time is 7 seconds. Much better than what it was before. That's down from 75K and 15 seconds. All times presume a 56K modem dialup connection. Working on a cable modem, it's not something I'd notice.

Question is, how many browsers will the new framework break? Is the design rugged enough to take the pounding from a weekly column? Does it transport seamlessly across the cosmos of wired space?

Which brings me back to the question for the evening's entertainment, chatting up the nice Capricorn lad at Amy's. I know he's Cap from asking him at the 6th Street store, but he was hanging out at the South Congress storefront, and we'd wandered down there after some fast Japanese food. I'm afraid I can't give high marks to the Zen Food place, too salty this time. I've been there twice, with vegetarians, and both had the same sad dish of veggies and rice and stuff, not very inspiring. The chicken I had was a little better, certainly filling, and the way they serve hot green tea is a little novel, and might be the best deal around. But that's about it. Food's too salty and tends to be a little bland, otherwise. But Amy's? And that guy recognized me, plus he recalled Bubba, which, in turn brought up this story, and that tale, if you have to know, really is a true story.

Repo Man
Repo Man is still one of my all-time favorite movies.

Brilliant piece of work. Not a lot of plot, not a lot of action, some stunningly brilliant monologues, though. Science Fiction? Action? Adventure? Taught drama? Mystery? Satire? Punk?

To me, it's period piece, a low-budget, 80's classic. I was looking at something else and noticed there was an early Sunday afternoon showing at the Alamo, so off we went for a matinee. I was anticipating their pizza or some similar foodstuffs. "Kitchen's not opening until later, popcorn or chips?"

I figure I'll be digging popcorn out of my teeth for another day or two.

The movie was worth it. They opened with a 1985 Monster Truck video, backed by "I-can-name-the-group" collection of 80's pop. Four young teens were cavorting around a video game in the lobby while the parental figure with those four young males was quietly reading a New Yorker magazine. One of the--I'm assuming--adolescent males had a jacket, in a punk-looking lettering across the back, it read "exploited."

Sure thing. Probably bought it at the mall.

I was a little disappointed in the general lack of audience participation and response for a cult classic like this film. It begs the question, as well, since I own the movie on DVD, why would I go and see it at the Alamo? For one, I haven't been out in a long while, and for two, I was interested to see a younger audience reaction.

"Ordinary people spend there life avoiding tense situations. A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations. Let's go get a drink."

Looking at Bud's line (stellar performance by Harry Dean Stanton) looks pretty lame, out of context, and lacking his manic delivery.

Still a classic and perfect mood elevator for me.

Stardust Motel
On the eastern edge of Marfa, TX, there stands a lonely sign. Stardust Motel. My picture isn't particularly good, but it's not bad, either.

When I got around to looking at the pictures, I though, I had an idea. The genesis of a process. The nascent concept led me to doing search for the information. But alas, all the names are long gone. I suppose it all comes back to Vegas, which seems to be recurrent theme these days.

Stardust, and most of the variations on that theme are now taken. Long gone. But it was a nice idea for a web page.

The image itself, while good, doesn't quite do justice to the whole scene. It's past the western edge of Marfa, out on the highway, and to me, it's certainly walking distance to town, but then, everything in Marfa is walking distance to me.

The sign is all that's left of where, presumably, the Stardust Motel once stood. Nothing's there. There's a scrap of asphalt paving, but not much else. A fence. Sky. Telephone wires. And that lonely sign.


Opera & day time TV
Springer gets his own opera.

Personally, I'm at a loss for words.

George Carlin & smores
George Carlin did two shows at the Paramount Theater Friday night. He's probably got a Taurus Sun, Gemini Moon, Mercury closely conjunct... and more than likely, a Leo Rising.

It was supposed to be big night out, but after the mistakes at the office, some mine, some belonging to other people (but me getting blamed for), I wasn't much in the mood for anything. The warm up guy was funny enough, but George Carlin was quite good, although, in deference to my buddies, Bubba and Bubba, I decided to act really important and leave the cell phone and pager behind.

Took a few minutes for Mr. Carlin to warm me up, but sitting in Bubba's opera box seats, that sure did help. And the famous humorist did deliver. Vulgar, profane, and by the second half, I was laughing at just about everything he said. Well worth the price of admission, if you ask me.

To end the night, I had it on good authority that the humidor at what used to be Ruta Maya was getting in some good, inexpensive cigars. Some robustos, quality cigars of a certain flavor and vintage. We all trooped over there, I had myself one more tall Egg Nog Latte for the evening while puffing on first a Punch then a Romeo y Julieta.

I couldn't help but notice that the folks sitting next to us had a platter served with a delicate, miniature barbecue grill going. Alongside the tiny grill, looked like something from an old-style Chinese restaurant, there were graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bar.

Just when the I get that feeling that the "old Austin spirit" has died, about the time I figure it's time to find a new home where innovation and creative spirit are nurtured, I encounter a Cancer girl trying to explain smores.

Okay, let's take it from the top. We all know what smores are. Burn a marshmallow, squeeze the hot, sticky mess off the stick and slap it between two graham crackers, layer in some chocolate, and you're good to go.

When I got home, I looked for a smores web page, and I was saddened by the fact that Google really didn't offer much.

We did entreat the Cancer to explain the process at some point, but boys will be boys, and those two, Bubba y Bubba, wound up burning their marshmallow and making a pretty good mess.

I stuck to a cigar and coffee, a much safer-certainly cleaner-alternative.

It was a cold night. Walking back to the various cars, several lines from the standup routine came back again. And that one lad, I couldn't help but chide him some, I mean, beer and smores? Does it get any more (something) than this?

People driven design and branding
Regrettably, the term "branding" isn't about affixing a label to a leather hide. Wired article about Apple Computer and branding.

"Apple's design is people-driven" the article quotes.

I got to thinking about this relative to some pictures I picked up on the way home, then, a little later, after looking at the pictures again, I got to thinking about a sense I had from a book called Roads.


Dominant theme? Sky.


I started out to write about branding and making the site as a "people driven" or, to be more honest, more "reader driven" than it currently is. I was motivated to do some tweaking the other night.

Then I got to see my pictures. Lots and lots of sky. Wide open spaces. West Texas. Big Bend. Cheap cameras. But still, I was looking for that sense of space.

One of the pictures of my all-time favorite image, the Marfa Mystery Lights highway sign, turned out better than I anticipated, with a shot of the mountains, pointing down that road to Alpine. It rapidly became a banner and I spent a little too much time messing with the graphic programs.

What I couldn't figure out was how all the blue sky wound up in my pictures.

Folk Art.
Modern folk art, I think is the correct term.

I was chatting with a tenant at the other job - he's an art history and studio art student. I got off on tangent about the Chinati Foundation.

On the tour of the facility and its installations, there was one barracks that was left pretty much intact, the way it was when the foundation bought the place. On the wall, there were several illustrations that were left, just cartoon characters on the old plaster and adobe walls.

"Must've been a cantina," the docent suggested, "it was left like this."

The style of that artwork reminded me of another style I'd seen before, sort of in the same area. The Commemorative Air Force (which used to be the Confederate Air Force) has this huge collection of Nose Art.

Like the pictures on the wall in that barracks, this is artwork that was not done by a professional artist. Of course it's not politically correct artwork.

There are prurient caricatures, the more tame material is on display, I believe. Other material pokes fun at the enemy of the time. In one case, I swiped a Latin quote from one piece of "Army Air Supply Corp" ordinance on display, "VINCIT QUI PRIMUM GERIT." I even used it as a sig file for a while. Not many folks caught its meaning or source.

It's all about American Folk Art. That's artwork, produced by someone who isn't a trained "artist," and it's purpose it to entertain, educate, or like that nose art, protect and give some added value to what was going on at the time.

I'm fascinated by this stuff, perhaps more so than its modern variants, just because there's so little of it left. It was some years ago, at the CAF HQ (at the Midland-Odessa International Airport - MAF) where I had a chance to tour a back room of the uncompleted museum. The bored "communications officer" was idly poking through a number of crates, close to 50, and each one was a rescued piece of nose art. From the airplanes' graveyard, someplace in the desert. Most of that nose art wasn't fit for prime time.

Wonder where it all went? Is it important? Sure it is. Just like those images on the wall of the abandoned and then converted barracks in Marfa.

Places to visit, places to stay, places to see
"The ceremonial flying of six flags-Spanish, French, Mexican, Texan, Confederate, and American-over modern Texas, so puzzling to visitors, is an almost conscious symbolism: flags change, the land remains." (p. 257)

Marathon, TX: Gage Hotel "The finest hotel between San Antonio and El Paso..."

Alpine, TX: Antelope Motel

Alpine, TX: Big Bend Saddlery

Alpine, TX: La Tapatia (coffee shop)

Alpine, TX: Holland Hotel "The finest hotel between San Antonio and El Paso..."

Marfa Mystery Lights

Marfa, TX: Paisano Hotel "The finest hotel between San Antonio and El Paso..."

Marfa, TX.

Marfa, TX: Marfa Books.

Marfa, TX: Chinati Foundation.

Ft. Davis, TX: Limpia Hotel "The finest hotel between San Antonio and El Paso..."

Ft. Davis, TX: Indian Lodge

Big Bend Rock Art

The Frenchman.
I can't recall what day it was, but one of the activities at the ranch involved riding around in a specially modified truck to "see the wildlife in the mountains."

I'm not sure if everyone noticed, but there were rifle mounts up on top of that truck. It's not like this was just for a nature show.

So the truck left, and it was cold that day, and I wasn't really attired for running around in the outback, but my parental units convinced the foreman that it would be a really good idea to bring the truck back for the birthday boy, just so we could all get a tour of some dirt roads.

There was room in the truck's cab for two more, and the kind ladies riding up on top offered to make room for me on their bench seat. Can't say for sure, but I think one or two giggled at the prospect of huddling under a blanket with me.

Their husbands? They opted, at least for the first leg of the excursion, to ride in the cab.

After that first stop, though, there was a change in the seating arrangements. The women riding up top were all joined by their husbands because one of the guys had made some comment about that "Frenchman" riding up on top - with the wives.

Me? I was more concerned with stay warm, then, I was interested in identifying various kinds of flora and fauna. An Eagle-eyed Capricorn noted a red-tail hawk, just sitting there, on a tree, while we passed within earshot of the border. Turns out he called me "that Frenchman" and I'm sure it was due to the way I was dressed.

"Damn boy, next time, wear your boots or something."

Let me see, two pair of boots need soles, one pair is antique and I wasn't about to wear the endangered species boots, no matter how tasteful, out in the brush. So, as it worked out, I was wearing all black. Left my cowboy hats at home, as I could just see one of them getting blown off my head. Nope, I was dressed to either hike, or lounge around the corral, but what I had on didn't indicate I was particularly Texan.

Which, in retrospect, seemed particularly amusing.

Technical difficulties
I'm all for going someplace where the cell phones will not work. I'm all for "roughing it on the old frontier" a time or two, but when my parents suggested that one dude ranch, I was really remiss in checking out all the details.

I looked at the website, and I was sure I saw a phone in the picture of a bedroom. Net access, cool. Horses, trucks, wranglers, hiking, Indian Petroglyphs, tons of history, and best of all, limited electrical access. A phone in every cabin, right?

Nice, but wrong assumption.

My usual voice mail alert didn't work, and neither did my cell phone. I knew that was probably the case. Didn't bother me, not at first.

My camera, which plugs into the same unit that holds the phone, would work just fine. Did, in fact, for several pictures. Then, while up in Alpine with my parental units, I stuck the thing in my back pocket for a few minutes, and next thing I know, handheld doesn't work.

Worried? Why? No phone, not a problem, and the pictures? I was sure I could save them later, when I got home. I just tossed it all in the suitcase and let it go. It's why I always carry a pen and paper. Never can tell when those items will come in handy.

But the mail backed up. The dial-up connection I used, I had to sneak down to the office, undo their phone, then hook up my Power Book, then watch as everything downloaded. Over a few days, though, that adds up to some serious mail. I took to ignoring most of what came through - only out of necessity.

I ran into a writer from England, and he was amused at my seeming discomfort. But after a while, I got rather used to it.

Red Tail hawks, one wrangler insisting that Zone Tail hawks were in the neighborhood (doubtful, but you never can tell), one coyote, mule deer, one big buck early on the day after Thanksgiving, more hawks, some deer, and the list goes on.

The other technical difficulty I ran into was what I took to wear. Clothing. I tend to disregard the comment about the "the clothes make the man," but that generated a really interesting problem.

To deal with the lack of a camera for myself, I wound up with a disposable one, purchased in Ft. Davis. Have to wait and see how those pictures come out. Too bad, too, as I got another couple of shots of my favorite Texas Sign Post, "Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Area."

But alas, nothing but memories for right now.

I was following my own advice, and glancing back over my shoulder to see some of the places I've been. Seems like I've spent a lot of time in borderlands. Mexican, "La Frontera," I believe is how it's said. Birthday, and I'm what? About 40 miles from the border? I think this dude ranch actually backs up to the Rio Grande. It's not the first place I've stayed that shares the border with Mexico.

In that history book I was reading, maybe it was Santa Anna, or one of his generals, but whomever referred to the distance from the Rio Grande to Bexar (San Antonio) as the desert of bones, or some similar title. J. Frank calls it the Brush Country. Get out just a little further west? I call it all magical.

I was winding up the road from Balmorhea, which, in and of its own is pretty special. I stopped to take a leak and a picture. Don't think they turned out too well, but it was worth an effort. I sure felt better after a leak, anyway.

Balmorhea, the spring fed water is cold in the summer, but with the recent batch of chilly weather? The rent car's thermometer was indicating 32 degrees, conditions known as "icy." So those constant-temperature springs had steam rising up in thin tendrils from the surface.

Mountain Rose Pass was next, up and over. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, perhaps it was the settling sun, not visible behind a heavy layer of fog. Or rain clouds, I guess, it depends on the perspective, but the light washed out over the landscape, giving the high fields a truly lunar look.

Makes my blood sing. I was tired, been on the road for several hours, but coming up 17 into the Davis Mountains just make my blood run quicker in a happy way.

It's different every time, it's not like I get out here too often. But the way the volcano flows look, after they've been etched out by eons of rain and wear, then set this against a backdrop of the that "lunar light," it just adds to the surreal experience.

I was walking in Austin, along the hike and bike trail, just a little south of downtown, and I picked up a brilliant, ruby-red leaf. From an "inset tree name here" kind of tree. I don't know. I'm not an arborist. I stuck that one leaf between the folds of an envelope, hoping to make a picture.

When I got home the leaf had disappeared. Probably fell out when I stopped for coffee or something. But the next morning, on the way to the bus stop, I found two more ruby-red leaves. I just left them, wishing for a camera and better light, because the coloring was stupendous.

On the way into the ranch, over the lunar landscape, the further south I got, and then, on up into the mountains, I noticed that there were brilliant stands of bright yellow trees, I'm guessing Arizona Ash, just covered with the most unnatural color for the leaves, just now turning.

Bit odd to be writing about autumn and fall colors at the end of November. But it is the "solar return" time for me, and I'm feeling much older these days. "If I'd known I was going to last this long, I'd taken better care of myself," as my old pa says frequently.

But it is the autumn of my life, and I have to face that fact. Autumn's a long season around here, with winter being blessedly short. It's not like this going to be any kind of a fast blink-blink "it's over" season in my life. That bright yellow colored leaf and pattern? That was the cottonwood, down by the erratic creek beds. Mostly bright yellow, in contrast to that ruby coloring at home.

I've got to think about harvesting what I've sown as opposed to trying to break open any new ground and planting new seeds. Northern Hemisphere, winter is fast approaching, although, there are days like today that conceal such a fact.

The river road, through the Big Bend State Ranch, relatively early in the morning, it was sheer visual delight. The Ocotillo covered one hillside of the Rio Grande valley then spread up a flanking mountain ridge, stretching across a short mesa. The sun was low and behind, brightly backlighting this particular plant. With its tall limbs spread out and up, the colors of tiny, leather-like leaves sparkled, almost iridescent in the morning light. It was an endlessly unfolding vista of shifting color. Pulling up along side the plants, however, the shade changes to a more pedestrian tinge, either yellow or dull orange. Stopping, planning on picture, surveying east, the colors are bright, shimmering in the sunlight, but behind us, it was less brilliant.

It's just a trick of the morning light on the desert floor. Autumn in the Rio Grande's Big Bend.

Autumn's not such a bad time at all, not as a stage in life, and not as a chance to look at the leaves. A little later, just past the Santa Elena Canyon, the cottonwood was taking on a deep russet color, adding more depth, and texture to the desert floor.

I was following my own advice, and glancing back over my shoulder to see some of the places I've been. Seems like I've spent a lot of time in borderlands. Mexican, "La Frontera," I believe is how it's said. Birthday, and I'm what? About 40 miles from the border? I think this dude ranch actually backs up to the Rio Grande. It's not the first place I've stayed that shares the border with Mexico.

In that history book I was reading, maybe it was Santa Anna, or one of his generals, but whomever referred to the distance from the Rio Grande to Bexar (San Antonio) as the desert of bones, or some similar title. J. Frank calls it the Brush Country. Get out just a little further west? I call it all magical.

I was winding up the road from Balmorhea, which, in and of its own is pretty special. I stopped to take a leak and a picture. Don't think they turned out too well, but it was worth an effort. I sure felt better after a leak, anyway.

Balmorhea, the spring fed water is cold in the summer, but with the recent batch of chilly weather? The rent car's thermometer was indicating 32 degrees, conditions known as "icy." So those constant-temperature springs had steam rising up in thin tendrils from the surface.

Rose (something) Pass was next, up and over. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, perhaps it was the settling sun, not visible behind a heavy layer of fog. Or rain clouds, I guess, it depends on the perspective, but the light washed out over the landscape, giving the high fields a truly lunar look.

Makes my blood sing. I was tired, been on the road for several hours, but coming up 17 into the Davis Mountains just make my blood run quicker in a happy way.

It's different every time, it's not like I get out here too often. But the way the volcano flows look, after they've been etched out by eons of rain and wear, then set this against a backdrop of the that "lunar light," it just adds to the surreal experience.


Technical difficulties

I was walking in Austin, along the hike and bike trail, just a little south of downtown, and I picked up a brilliant, ruby-red leaf. From an "inset tree name here" kind of tree. I don't know. I'm not an arborist. I stuck that one leaf between the folds of an envelope, hoping to make a picture.

When I got home the leaf had disappeared. Probably fell out when I stopped for coffee or something. But the next morning, on the way to the bus stop, I found two more ruby-red leaves. I just left them, wishing for a camera and better light, because the coloring was stupendous.

On the way into the ranch, over the lunar landscape, the further south I got, and then, on up into the mountains, I noticed that there were brilliant stands of bright yellow trees, I'm guessing Arizona Ash, just covered with the most unnatural color for the leaves, just now turning.

Bit odd to be writing about autumn and fall colors at the end of November. But it is the "solar return" time for me, and I'm feeling much older these days. "If I'd known I was going to last this long, I'd taken better care of myself," as my old pa says frequently.

But it is the autumn of my life, and I have to face that fact. Autumn's a long season around here, with winter being blessedly short. It's not like this going to be any kind of a fast blink-blink "it's over" season in my life. That bright yellow colored leaf and pattern? That was the cottonwood, down by the erratic creek beds. Mostly bright yellow, in contrast to that ruby coloring at home.

I've got to think about harvesting what I've sown as opposed to trying to break open any new ground and planting new seeds. Northern Hemisphere, winter is fast approaching, although, there are days like today that conceal such a fact.

The river road, through the Big Bend State Ranch, relatively early in the morning, it was sheer visual delight. The Ocotillo covered one hillside of the Rio Grande valley then spread up a flanking mountain ridge, stretching across a short mesa. The sun was low and behind, brightly backlighting this particular plant. With its tall limbs spread out and up, the colors of tiny, leather-like leaves sparkled, almost iridescent in the morning light. It was an endlessly unfolding vista of shifting color. Pulling up along side the plants, however, the shade changes to a more pedestrian tinge, either yellow or dull orange. Stopping, planning on picture, surveying east, the colors are bright, shimmering in the sunlight, but behind us, it was less brilliant.

It's just a trick of the morning light on the desert floor. Autumn in the Rio Grande's Big Bend.

Autumn's not such a bad time at all, not as a stage in life, and not as a chance to look at the leaves. A little later, just past the Santa Elena Canyon, the cottonwood was taking on a deep russet color, adding more depth, and texture to the desert floor.

Road Trip
Getting off to a weird start.

In Austin, a bona fide medicine man gave me a ride to the airport, Yellow Cab, of course. Only in Austin.

A flight attendant looked at me, "Hey, I know you...."

"Nope, bet you've never seen me before," I replied.

"Coffee, black, riding in the hot tub?"


Sister calls me while I'm at the airport, the folks call me, too, all worried that I can't find my way around West Texas. I figure I know a little more about it than they do.

I was reading a purloined Wall Street Journal (I guess it's not really [u>purloined[/u> if the apartment unit is vacant), looking like dapper business person. Never mind that the paper was a day out of date, I still found it amusing. Especially the article about the company that is losing so much money on the mobile home finance business. Imagine that, 1 out 25 mobile home owners run late on their payments. Just one of those interesting statistics. Or more useless data. Looking around at my friends, though, I can't imagine that the data is much different from regular mortgages. Deal is, you can't just back up to a regular "bricks and mortar" house, and tow it off to the used house lot. Not that I know anything about this sort of legal action myself.

Sitting in airports makes me chatty. I'll be glad to pick up a rent car and fire up the CD player. I burned a copy of Wagner's Zeigfried, the perfect accompaniment to hours of west Texas highway.

Road trip
I was fooling around on the web, not really paying much attention to what I was clicking on, while I was looking at cell phone plans, hardware, software, and coverage. What became clear, though, is my "state-wide service" for cell, data, and voice mail, won't be working in the next week. I'll be in the middle of "cell hell," the Texas mountains, a place where there might be no connection whatsoever.


I'm not due back until Tuesday, next week.

I've got a couple of Texas History books, some better than others, and I found myself snuggled up with a different one, just trying to get an alternative view about the battle of San Jacinto.

What amused me was one treatment of the historical story that suggested the Battle of San Jacinto was the turning point. If that single fight had been lost, there would be no American Southwest. No New Mexico, no Arizona. No California, Oregon, Washington State, maybe even no Idaho. Or no Colorado, even. No ski season.

The reasoning is pretty sound, but I wonder how much of it is revisionist. See, if Santa Anna had succeeded in claiming Texas right up to the Sabine, then Mexico, Texas, and the rest of the Southwest would have fallen under the Mexican dictatorship (or monarchy), and the Anglo-American ("Appalachian Celts," I think was the term used) settlers would have stopped at what is now called the Midwest.

The description of the battle itself, one account suggests that it lasted no more than 18 minutes, consisted of hearty bunch of angry, cornered, essentially Anglo frontier types who were not to terribly disciplined when it came to infantry, small arms, and standard drill procedures. Turning them loose on a Mexican camp while the camp was having a siesta was a mean trick. And it worked.

Buried in the tale is the myth, although the authors I've read take great pains to support the myth, about the "Yellow Rose of Texas" - she dallied the afternoon away with Santa Anna, keeping him preoccupied while his troops napped.

The source of that name, "Yellow Rose" would make a good trivia question one day. Another bit of Texas ethnicity, although, probably not regarded as politically correct these days.

The other point I gathered from reading both accounts was that the siege of the Alamo, the ten day halt in Santa Anna's sweep through Texas, that bought the rest of the Texas Army (such as it was), a chance to amass certain strengths. It bought much-needed time. Plus, it did inflict some heavy casualties on the Mexican forces, and mostly it wreaked havoc on the morale.

Years ago, in one trivia question, I asked about the battle cry. Everyone knows the first part, "Remember the Alamo," but most people forget the second half, "Remember Goliad!" That's a different branch in this tale. What was alarming was the number of people who missed the answer.

So Sam Houston burned his bridges, the Texas Army slaughtered an army in the middle of an afternoon siesta, arriving completely undetected, and America was saved.

To think, the United States, with the larger portion of her natural resources west of the Mississippi, was saved by a single battle on the high ground just outside of what is now Houston.

If it wasn't for us, most of ya'll wouldn't be here.

"And you point would be?"

Nothing. Just piddling around with a history book or two one weekend.

Texas History Tip
I finished reading whatever else I was reading at the time, and I picked up a Texas History book I'd started some time back, just to get a decent overview of local lore & myth. The other night, I was rereading the section about the Texas Revolution. The Alamo, Goliad, San Jacinto, Travis, Bowie and Houston.

What really stuck with me were the short passages about Houston, the Texans, and that fight at San Jacinto.

The way the text presented the historical data, and the conclusion I was able to draw from the short descriptions, indicated-to me-the battle was less planned, and more like it just happened. The Texan forces had their backs to water, and there was no way out but to fight. Plus the Texans were tired, angry, and maybe a little hungry. The Mexican forces were used to forming up in columns and marching into battle in an organized fashion. From the book, the raggedy Texans fanned out, one man deep, instead of forming into a column. Plus the Texans were using rifles with deadly accuracy. Just a strange bit of history. There was a side note I found insightful, too, about the propaganda in Mexico, possibly even to this day, suggested that the United States, basically the Eastern Seaboard, funded the war. The irony is that the supplies and manpower sent by the then United States didn't arrive until after Santa Anna was captured.

I was with my father, Pa Wetzel, when I last visited the battleground of San Jacinto. He was on a business trip and carried me with him. I recall very little about the trip. I'd be extra cautious about visiting that battleground now, the butchered remains of the soldiers leave psychic footprint that's not pleasant. I know one ex-pat Texan, and she absolutely refuses to visit the Alamo because she can still hear the screaming, from over 150 years ago.

What I remember from growing up is NE Texas at this time of the year is cold days with overcast clouds. That's a far cry from the high, sunny days in Central Texas.

I worked a few hours for my buddy, the boss who was out of town. Seeing as how I'll be gone for most of the next week, I figured it was the least I could do. I was too busy shuffling papers to get a chance to swipe the unclaimed Wall Street Journal from the former tenant's doorstep, but I had one left over from Thursday, and I poked through it on the bus ride back towards Shady Acres.

What caught my eye was the article on tipping in the holiday season. "Building super $50 to $100" is what it said. I wondered about that. At even $20, all those units? I'd be rich. Doubtful, though, as I work a pretty relaxed schedule.

But that did make me wonder about the tip jar here. Each week, sarcastic, sardonic, according to what I'm told, humorous, scopes. What's the correct tip for the Fishing Guide?

Astrology readings
I love certain kinds of readings. There comes time, when I can casually glance at chart, doesn't take too much studying, and I can recognize certain elements, like a particular planet at a certain degree, and I can extrapolate a whole ton of information about that, just from that casually cursory examination.

Then there's the art of the interpretation of what the symbols all stand far. Instead of pretending to be some truly stoic outsider, I tend to jump right into a chart and talk about experiences, observations, and of course, my favorite line, "Do as I say, not as I do...."

It's all about following my own advice. Or not, as the case may be. I met a client Friday morning, before running by the office to pick up some paperwork. I loved that reading. It was relaxed. It was easy, but then, I've always found Leo's easy to read for. Plus I was wearing a Das Rheingold T-shirt, and after a cup of coffee, that Leo caught the "heavy metal t-shirt" joke.

Venus being backwards and all, plus certain other elements just made it the most delightful experience. A casual morning meeting, a couple of cups of coffee, and a chart. Made life good.

The sun was out, and I try to live as if I have as few as possible regrets. My only regret was the fact I was wearing jeans on such a nice day.

I wandered into the office, and chatted with another November Sagittarius. "We're just the best, aren't we?" Then got invited to two different Sag parties, one at a Tex-Mex place, another at a hockey game. Later in the day, I heard from someone who heard from her mystery man, a Sagittarius. Then, late in the afternoon, one of the apartment locators came by, and I fulfilled a lease through her, so she got a commission. Birthday? Next week, too. Finally, a kid and his mom wander into the office to rent a student efficiency for the next semester. Kid's birthday? Next week.

Dinner with my Pisces at Curra's. A little odd, too, as I made notes throughout the meal for the web work I was doing. So at the end of the night, I had this promotional flyer from Paris with my notes on it. "Move this, trim that, adjust this and that," just the usual tweaks. I thought that was a unique form of recycling, though.

Looking at the art on the walls, I couldn't pass up another joke, "Whoa, nice melons!"

"Gourds, Kramer, they're gourds. Don't you know your vegetables?"

I guess not.

I feel so callous.
It finally happened. I know something like this was bound to happen, sooner or later, but I finally took that big step.

I read all the mail that I get. Doesn't go through a filter or a peon, no human selects what items cross my desk. I get it all.

I get pleas for free readings, or free advice, or nice notes that also include a plea for something extra, some bit of information not included on the website.

But I finally got one, asking for some free information, and instead of answering, like I usually do, I just tossed it. Actually, I read it twice, in full, and while it was a very nice note, there's just not a lot I could do by way of answer, not something I could do for free.

The second part of the callous feeling is the straight up nice notes. I get a few of them each week, but I got to a point where I'm not even answering them. I used to consider it my duty to reply with a sincere "thank you" of some kind. However, my good nature has been much abused as of late, pulling a few extra hours for a friend in the afternoon has drastically cut down on my free time, and I have obligations. Answering mail, whether it's nice mail or not, if there's no money attached to it, then it's not worth the effort.

My casual statistical analysis indicates that less 1% of the mail I answer actually generates revenue.

I found several people who practice astrology, that is, they are in the business of selling personal consultation, casting charts and doing interpretations, regularly use my site as source material. Apparently, it's fresh and different for them, a slightly askew look at the same old material from a fresh perspective. That's nice. Thanks for the compliment. I don't need to remind any real authors about copyright.

I suppose I should feel honored, "The astrologers' astrologer." Somehow, though, that doesn't pay the bills. Like, pay for the server and the internet connection to keep all of thus up and available.

Bubba's www.astrowhore.org is finally up a new and hopefully more reliable server. It took several hours of work, mostly spent with him acting bored on the couch while I twiddled bits and bytes to make the shift. As he was leaving, that old moon was visible, Saturn and Mercury floating alongside it in the night's sky, glittering faintly off the water's dimpled surface.

Other offices
"Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night?" (Shakespeare's 12th Night - II.iii.88-9)

I got in last night, kind of late, and before I ever left, off to my "other offices," I had uploaded a placeholder for the scopes. A little experiment, just to see what kind of numbers it turned out.

I knew that I was going to teach a Spartan astrology class last night, just filling in for an ailing Pisces, and I was aware it might run late, hence no time for the scopes. I'll see if the placeholder worked when I read the stats this morning.

"But why can't I read the scopes a day early?" Indeed, good question. Thank you for asking. Spend $5, get the scopes delivered via email. As of now, that $5 is still optional, not required-yet.

> Got your scopes in email today.
> Well, you have been right for the past 2
> weeks for me.

But when those "beta-copy" scopes hit the wires on Wednesday, it's bad news around here. I get a number of "mail box is over quota" and "I'm out of the office" or "no longer works here" or "not a valid email address" or similar responses. Only three or four yesterday, but that takes administrative time that isn't spent walking, writing and drawing up charts.

I had to pick a time to publish the weekly scopes. I chose the cusp between Wednesday and Thursday, Austin [Central Time Zone>, as the time. Why not a day or two earlier? Indeed, why not just publish all of next year right now? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of a weekly column?

There's a handful of readers who figured out that I occasionally drop the scopes in a day early. That's for my convenience, not for the reading public.

I missed a deadline once this year, wasn't around to make sure the scopes hit the wire on time. (There was a series of free midnight movies at the Alamo Draft House.) Never ceases to amaze me how much folks can bitch about a free horoscope that isn't delivered on time.

The chart template I use - you know, I actually use a real set of astrology charts when I write the weekly column - runs from 12:01 AM (00:01 hours) Thursday to 11:59 PM (23:59 hours) the following Wednesday. Since I use Austin time, I mean, it's where I'm located, all the planets' ingress and egress relate to local time. I had to pick someplace, and I chose where I live.

I could pretend to be something of a global person, but then I figure I would lose touch with the people, personalities and places that I've learned to enjoy in this life.

It was this year that I dropped the monthly scopes (too much time, not enough revenue), and I switched to a Thursday publication date (targeted at the "alternative" press weeklies), places that usually publish on Thursday or Friday. Want to see the scopes on Wednesday for free? Get your local alternative weekly to pick them up.

And want a day-by-day version? Order a transit report. Wheedling, begging, cajoling, or outright outrage and complaining, none of that is particularly attractive, nor will it be tolerated, unless accompanied by large amounts of cash.

Incongruities and modern life
I'm wondering just how many folks see this, especially these days.

Bubba swept by the other office and gathered me up for some dinner. We dined at Hoover's, just down the road. While the "Jamaican Jerk Ribs" are pretty darn good, I just opted for some fried catfish with a side of mustard greens. Definitely feeling Southern for a night.

Then it was adventures in shopping time. He was looking for a new phone, and frankly I couldn't really be bothered. Although, one "phone outlet," which was nothing more than a kiosk in a mall, did offer some interesting scenery. Made me wonder what those guys with the phone cameras did all day. Their location? Right in front of Victoria's secret.

But with a belly full of catfish, driving all over town to shop for a Gemini phone, I got the rundown on some music I hadn't been exposed to before: Me First the Gimme Gimmes.

"It's some punk guys, no names, and they cover some great stuff," Bubba Sean was explaining, over the din of the music.

I broke down, waiting on him to hassle his way into a new phone deal, and I bought one CD.

But that wasn't the weird aspect to it all. While I was standing in the check out line, I noticed a number of young folks, all standing in line with various purchases, notably music, notably loud, raucous "cutting edge" music. In a chain store. In my case, it was simple enough, it was an impulse buy, something off the rack, buried underneath the Megadeath CD's.

The music itself? Rather lyrical for punk. Reminds me of some other "hair metal" I used to frequently listen to. What sets these little gems Bubba turned me onto apart from the rest is that the players are, apparently, real punk rockers, doing hardcore versions of popular tunes. Rather musically amusing. But in a chain store?

Web site credits
Web site credibility from some learned institution.

Retired site
Bubba's Blog & 'bu
Cranky Amy
devota dot org
Travis County Affordable Housing
Corsetted Mstess

I've got some others out there, but for the time being, they escape me. I've been meaning to put together a list, as I've got some web work fast approaching, but for the life of me, I can't remember what else I've done.

Monday was weird day. I had a Left Coast emergency astrology reading, and with the time offset, I was riding the bus, talking into my earpiece on my cell phone, gathering information. Sort of weird to be sitting on the bus, talking about Jupiter.

Amazing sunset, still standing at a bus stop, talking about Jupiter, hours later. It's probably the last of the perfect days for a few weeks as I was able to get away with wearing shorts - it was warm enough - and by the time I'd gotten back home and petted the cat, it was time to slip into flannel pajamas again. Cool enough for it, as well. Perfect.

New Dell PDA
Dell handheld

Sort of a slow day, whether it was because it was late in the season, or because the sun was out, or maybe because the holidays are getting closer, it was just a slow day at the office. A few minutes before quitting time, Bubba calls me up on the cell phone, then my Pisces calls me, and the Leo shows up.

I had to tolerate - al day - one blonde hair, blue eyed Pisces making up blatant stories about previous evening, just because she could, "And then we went back to Kramer's trailer, and then...."

My version of the story is a little different, more like she didn't even slow down, just gave me a good kick, "Tuck and roll, buddy!"

I suspect my version is lot closer to truth. I'm not skinned up from that rapid departure. Maybe she slowed down, just a little.

Sunday night, Bubba showed up to make fun of the crystal crunchers, and I wrapped up readings for three Aries in a row. We meandered on over to Maudie's for some sustenance, and the sweet Pisces joined us there.

Halfway through the meal, bubba takes a call on his cell, "Homicide. It's good for your self esteem, you know."

He didn't finish the rest of the conversation and opted not to include the rest of us at the table as part of the conversation, so I never knew what it was the answer to.

The bill came, and the sweet Pisces laughed, "It's so much easier with guy, you just throw some money out to cover the bill. If this were women, we'd still be arguing about the bill."

She's got her eye on some guy, and she asked about stocking. I told her I preferred the one's with the seam up the back. Maybe fishnet. Wasn't what she was talking about.

It is Deer Season.

Full Moon, Taurus, Sun in Scorpio.

"You hate us. All of us. I know it," my sweet Pisces friend told me, on the way to work.

And thus started a Saturday at the office. We stopped at Magnolia for some breakfast, served by Scorpio who was a doppelganger for the Virgo who fixes espresso downtown, minus the tattoos. But then, it was a Pisces morning, and Pisces day, all the rest of the day.

To be sure, it was punctuated by a Sagittarius or two, then a Capricorn, but mostly Pisces.

Sort of sets the tone. Sometime, coming up in the next couple of weeks sometime, I found this really tasty link for Pisces, as it was a Japanese [I'm guessing> commercial, done in flash animation, for a particular brand of soy sauce. The lead character in the animation was a superhero with a fish for a head. Not a fish head, but a whole fish. I remember previewing it the other evening, thinking it would be good in a crowded Pisces scope, so I figure that's where all the PISCES flotsam is derived from. Guess I shouldn't spend some idle time surfing around for oddities on the web.

It was a different Pisces who pointed out that I had a single, long, curly lock sticking out from my shirt. "Chest hair? Oh baby." (Rolling her eyes, too.)

Looking down, I was momentarily confused as there it was, protruding from the under the second button of my starched shirt, a single, rather fluffy curl. I thought back to the shower, earlier in the morning, and no, I hadn't noticed a long lock on my chest then, so I was confused. I swept my hair back, but no, it wasn't a stray from my ponytail. Subsequent investigation revealed that it was, indeed, just looped around my ear, and then up under the collar, and finally out the front of the shirt. Weird.

I left for dinner with another Pisces, also blond hair and blue eyes, and we were sure that it set tongues wagging, her being seen with me. The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. What really transpired was barbecue brisket and pork ribs, punctuated with long, sad tales about love gone astray, all served by a Gemini [blond hair, blue eyes>, and I got shoved out of the truck, in front of Shady Acres, one more time.

Hate Pisces? Hardly. Too many of them at the show to say I hate them. Some folks, though, come across as being so sensitive.

Backend tech points
I worked ".cgi's" before. In fact, still have one or two of them running on the site. And I've worked in Perl, a little later. Then along came ".php" - that's what the new journal software is written in - that language performs much the same way as the other two - some real geek would argue that, but I'm talking about what I have to do to make the language, or more important, the script, just work. All seems about the same when it comes to twiddling.

I suspect, none of it is much different, not from a programming point of view. Sherman's Lagoon, a perennial favorite for me, will, at certain times, give me a screen that says "server too busy," usually, like, first thing in the morning.

So the new software here uses "MySQL" as a database backend for storing all the journal entries. I was considering rolling the scopes into a setup like that, as well, but I'm unsure of how safe, solid, secure and reliable that would arrangement would be.


The current design and layout of the files' structure is good for the first ten years of this millennium. No, I haven't written all of those scopes yet, but the URL expires about the same time I'd have a decade worth of scopes crammed into a tiny archive, all done in HTML format.

The deal is, the way this journal software works is exactly what I've been looking for - it does what it's supposed to do.

That's what it's all about, too. More moonlight on the river, headed southward on the pedestrian portion of the First Street Bridge, hooking it homeward Friday night. Most near a full moon, which, in turn, augers well for the weekend fast approaching.

Saturday morning, up and out, off to be an astrologer for the afternoon.

Hot Sauce and Moonlight
I rolled into work feeling pretty upbeat. Spread across the desk, purportedly my desk, the boss man had his lunch, a bag of tacos and such, from across the street. Me? I'd just been treated to breakfast down the street, something of a similar fare, so I was just amused.

I've gotten a little more guarded as of late, any time I roll in feeling too good, that's a good indication that I'm about to get rolled over, too. But I found the boss man rather amusing. He's a good teacher, as long as his blood sugar is up. And he's smart businessman. Plus he's been infinitely patient with me. And then, there is that whole paycheck thing.

I watched as the boss did something rather comical. He loaded up his taco with a tablespoon of hot sauce, the proceeded to sweat and fan his mouth, his face turning red, "Man, that stuff's hot!" Then he would scoop another heap of hot sauce into the next bite.

After his meal, he got around to the business at the moment. We thumbed through yesterday's paperwork, then got around to what he wanted for the day.

"Build me a website."


"Yes, do it this afternoon while I work down the street. And make that digital camera I got work, too."

Tech toys. Now this is something I can do.


I stayed late to show a unit, then ambled home, rather enjoying the fact that it wasn't really cold yet, at least, not downtown. As I got to the First Street Bridge, I took the eastern pedestrian walkway, just so I could catch a glimpse of the moonlight, reflecting in the gentle waves of the river/lake below. I kept meaning to mention that, the image of the moonlight on the water, it's not like it's something I can see every day. Sun light, reflected off the surface of the Moon, then bounced up off the ripples in the river. That's the second time since I've been working at those apartments that I've had chance to glimpse at that image. Makes for special moment. Everything just feels right for a little while.

Cough Syrup
So Bubba looks up as the waiter, just as he's approaching, and Bubba says, "It was that cough syrup I drank all day. I'm not sick, you know, just sometimes you have days when a bottle cough syrup helps you make it through the day." Complete deadpan delivery.

Pisces waiter. It was funny to watch. He was caught completely unaware, and that line, delivered perfectly by Bubba, just stopped that Pisces right in his tracks. You could see it: everything froze. He mulled over the proposition, probably wondering why this guy (Bubba) was still upright.

"Yeah, Apple Pie, ala mode, with a side of green Nyquil - you know, in a shot glass. So I can pour it over the top."

It was a late evening, and we dined at Threadgill's. Been about forever since we'd been in there. So long, in fact, that we didn't recognize any of the wait staff. Sad times, indeed, when the old hangouts are old hangouts.

"Man, I like doing lines like that, the trick is, you've got have a completely deadpan delivery."

So that's the secret to success. On the stroll home, he did deliver an even funnier joke about, well, never mind. It was entirely inappropriate on many different levels. But after a long day? I thought it was hilarious.

There's that tedious project of transferring the domain ASTROWHORE.ORG over to him, plus I've just got to get him up on server that's located in this country.

Breakfast tacos and English
Around 11 in the morning, I was sitting in the sun, feeling like I was on top of the world. There was cool breeze a day that was turning from scattered clouds to cloudless and clear, and other than the fact that I was wearing long pants, jeans really, everything was perfect.

I stopped at a new taqueria, one that just rolled up overnight, literally, at the corner of Riverside and Congress, on my way to a bus stop to take me off to the other job. I paused long enough to have two "Huevos and bacon" tacos, my standard breakfast fare these days.

"Dos huevo y bacon," I ordered, then added, "and you can just stick them on plate, I don't need them to go," as there's a little luncheon style plank that serves as a counter, attached to the side of the trailer.

"No Engles," the server said.

To which I responded in my broken Spanish, and she was thrilled that I spoke a little bit.

Late in the afternoon, a Capricorn rolled through the office, then it turned into one of those days when everything I touched, had touched, or was supposed to touch didn't turn out right. I would've been terribly upset except that I've been flying along without guidance for a spell, and that usually spells out trouble.

It's not like I need a paycheck, but I've gotten kind of used to the idea that I can reduce some debt by handling a little part-time contract work. But I've also gotten used to the idea when I feel like I'm really on top of everything, and all jazzed up, the big boss comes in and rolls over me like truck. I suppose there's a lesson about Saturn in there someplace, but I can't be bothered by a day job. Trying to schedule readings around this is getting to be bothersome.

I did join some friends at Jovita's, for Tuesday night dinner and drinks. I got put a little on the spot, in a good way, with the astrology questions. And one of my friends has herself a new boyfriend. Significant other. Or, insignificant other. Can't call it a real relationship as that would sour the deal. What's in a name, anyway?

Don Walser was playing to a sparse crowd, and his yodeling is still some of the finest I've heard. What escapes me is the way his music - live - fails to translate into a success in a recorded medium. Still, he has an amazing voice. Food wasn't bad either.

I saw something on the bandstand that sparked an idea. The backdrop was a Mexican Flag and a Texas Flag, side by side. Makes for a good visual, if you ask me.

The way this works and some design questions
The way this works, I was standing at a bus stop, waiting on the bus, I mean perish the thought that I will ever ride the 5:02 bus again, and I was starting to get chilly. Behind me, a dramatic event was unfolding, and I was about to write about here, but I popped it all into a scope because it's just so perfect for explaining some events that are yet to occur.

The design questions are different. Last month's MacAddict Magazine included a copy of some weblog software called pMachine. Good write up. I'd previously downloaded a copy of it, as well as copies of several other kinds of blog-ware because I was looking for a journal program that did everything I wanted it to do plus make it upgradeable and sustainable.

I do backend tech work on a number of web sites. I've installed Noah's Grey Matter for a couple of friends, and I've liked it, except for its annoying behavior of tying up a lot of resources for every little change in the interface. I toyed around with b2, as well, installing it and running it for a couple of days, but I was never quite satisfied as I couldn't mess around with the interface (or never figured out how to). Then there was Moveable Type, and I never did get it installed properly. As I recall, one Sagittarius pointed out that "an MT installation is a bitch."

So I spent two hours installing pMachine, and after sifting through their documentation and website forums, I finally got it working correctly. Plus it imported all of the previous entries and popped it all into a database. Like a real web site.

I've got to trim a few of the features, plus I'm on that steep learning curve, which, to me, feels a lot more like a half-pipe. But it's all good, as I've learned a few more tricks. Worst part is, I don't know how reliable MySQL is on this server. Time will tell.

Design questions, what's important? What's not important? What can be skipped? How stripped or fully-featured should a web journal be? As it is, I cut down on the categories plus I removed most of the archives as that would just take up all kinds of space.

I do like the part where it collects the IP address of anyone making a comment.

Miles and Pizza
Woke up early, the cat nudging me out of bed to attend to the fact that her food dish had mysteriously disappeared all its food over night. Sort of like a "feed me now" message. She kept banging me with her forehead until I finally rolled over and got up.

Cool, foggy Sunday morning, I lounged in front of the computer until it got too hot to wear flannel pajamas, then I switched into a pair of shorts and did some serious mileage, in the hot sun, on the trail, thinking all the while it would get warm enough for me to take a dunk in the creek.

So maybe I was a little chicken, but I came up short at the end of the afternoon, the sun, already low in the sky, and despite the fact I was sweating, I still didn't quite feel up to a little baptismal action at the creek.

Came home and ordered up some Jalapeno and Anchovy Pizza from Austin Pizza. Had enough to make me sleepy and dozed of with the cat curled up beside me.

Austin Pizza delivers every pizza with a two-liter bottle of coke, as well. I woke up and finally got around to reading the instruction on the new software, seeing what I could change, and how, and where, to make it all work better.

Ten-minute installation, indeed. Took several hours, but that also included importing all of this year's earlier entries from a previous format.

I looked around at some of the other examples, and realized that I could switch it up some, which I'll probably do, in the next couple of days, as I've got time. Still, I have to have surrender to priorities in my life, and I spent the greater portion of the morning doing what I like best, working up some new material for horoscopes.

Sex and the Scorpio
It was a nice night, delightful evening. I spent the latter part of the afternoon with Aries, discussing certain attributes of planets, meanings, and imbibing - perhaps - just a little too much coffee. Plus, on the way home, I stopped off at Jo's for a Currant-Pecan sweet roll.

I got home, and there was a group of neighbors sitting out under the gentle, sweeping arbors of the fall sky, the view of the Austin skyline a little to the right, just up and over the river, making life a grand.

One of my neighbors is obviously gay. Don't know how else to explain it. It's not like I'm outing him or anything, if you can't tell from the body language, or the language, or the way he catcalls after me on occasion, well, then you just ain't very observant.

Like I said, it's no big deal. I'm pretty firmly in the "hetero" crowd, and he like guys. Fact is, I wish he liked more guys, as I could use a decent repeat client so close to home.

So we were all sitting out there, and another neighbor wanders up with two of his cousins in tow. Or nieces. Or some familial relationship that I didn't quite catch. One of the females stood right beside my obviously gay neighbor.

So there we were, out in the evening, me sipping a giant to-go cup of espresso from Jo's [covered with foamed up milk>, shuffling through my mail from the mail box, not that I could read anything as it was dark. You know, typical trailer park small talk.

The young women were obviously getting a little bored as it wasn't very interesting conversation for them. Me? I was trying not to make an complete fool of myself. "Yeah, well, I've got some web tweaking to get after," and I sat there.

"You're the astrologer, hey what's your birthday?" My gay friend turned to the girl nearest him. She was wearing skintight jeans, revealing a curvaceous backside, an ample chest barely covered by a silk blouse, and long, brown hair, shimmering slightly in the glow from the lighting. Or maybe it was the Capricorn Moon. She was also sporting what is affectionately referred to as a "gang bang," a single shock of bangs, artfully hanging in space over her forehead, almost reaching her long eyelashes.

"Oct. 29," she replied, with a hint of her Hispanic accent, then she turned and sauntered off, fully secure in the knowledge that every male present was watching her.

First off, her cousin, or brother, or whatever he was, he lives here, too. No way \\any\\ of us would make an untoward comment. Not going to happen. Wouldn't even think of it. Besides, she was otherwise engaged or something.

But my gay friend? He was funniest. "Scorpio, huh? Wow. I was a having heterosexual moment there." He then sniffed at the space she was just occupying.

Don't look at me, I spent the evening wrestling with software, trying to set up the new journal software, and importing the old entries.

Shorts \\and\\ flannel pajamas
It's the perfect weather. I broke down and appeased my boss by wearing long pants one day, but that was because I knew I would be out late. So I struggled into a pair of work jeans. But that was only one day.

It's amazing how "four hours a day," and "a couple of days a week," is rapidly becoming more like 6 or 8 hours, and this weekend, it will be 6 days in a row.

I shouldn't complain, I mean, it is regular work, pays okay, and I've gotten a lot more judicious about my time. I don't have time for "quick" readings, and especially not for those free ones.

And I'm still there, still playing manager. Sort of weird. One of the parts I look forward to is an empty apartment is regularly getting the \\Wall Street Journal\\. Since no one is living there, it's a toss up whether I get a chance to grab that paper in the afternoon, of if someone else grabs it before I do. I suspect one of the tenants has been snagging it on occasion, but I had a chance to digest a portion of it last night, on the way home.

Got home and found this. This is America: everything is for sale.

To be honest, there are portions of the Journal that I fail to grasp. Big companies doing big things with mergers and takeovers that I don't are to waste my personal bandwidth on. But some of the writing is quite good. Even had a review of "8 Mile" or whatever it's called, whathisname's new movie. Although, I suspect that the reviewer gushed a little. Then there was a very tasty short piece about another movie, something about a Deconstructionist Philosopher. Fully a third of the short piece was devoted to a waitress getting doing a doctorate in philosophy someplace. Rather vibrant and conversational for a heavyweight news journal.

Easy living, warm enough for shorts in the day, and cool enough that flannel pajamas are called for at night.

Back on track
Not really, but almost. Sounds good, anyway.

Deal was, I needed a little bit of bubba time, as only a bubba can provide. Male camaraderie, some smoked beef, maybe some ice cream. Worked like a champ.

And I can't remember one funny thing he said.

Bummer about that. But it was good evening until I ran out of energy.

There was that Capricorn scooper at Amy's, and the guy's tall, must be six foot, three, maybe four? Maybe taller. I did get the metaphysical question for the evening from him.

"Simple life or complex life?"

Easy answer for me, "simple life with complexities built in."

He was wearing an T-shirt that advertised a beer from Amsterdam. I noted that, and noted how I loved Amsterdam, as a recreational destination, one time.

"Man, I'm opening an Amy's in Amsterdam."

"I want to work there," was my quick retort.

"It's the complexities of life that make it interesting," he continued, "a complex life."

I prefer the simplicity of it all. But that could be me.

Post election doldrums
Will Rogers said it, and I've got the academic, MLA style citation for it, "The people of Oklahoma will continue to vote dry and drink wet as long as they can stagger to the polls."

Hump day
What a long day. Best vignette was watching a Sagittarius hold forth about the elections, over some breakfast at Magnolia.

Worst part was realizing that the elections are over. Or maybe that's the best part.

I hit the class with nothing on my mind and swung right into talking about charts. And astrology. Seems like a natural fit. Problem being, by the time I got home, I was beat. Just completely worn out. Almost too tired to sleep.

Looked at the cat, and told her, "I've just got to stay awake until midnight...."

Should say something politic
But other than to note that I did, indeed, vote, can't say much else. It was a clear morning, and I walked up to the local polling spot, in the basement of church. I felt like there should be a dense fog of cigarette smoke, trembling hands, and limitless coffee.

Instead, it was a clean, well-lit space. The only problem, and I waited to vote because I kept thinking something magical would happen to the ballot, and suddenly there would be a clear choice.

As if.

No magic, other than I'm pretty sure just about everybody I {{popup voted.jpg voted 320x240}}voted for didn't win.

Symbolism, the Alamo and Satan
It's an important concept and certainly a big part of what I do. Best question I've heard recently is a little different.

"The Alamo is at 28 of Satan?"

It was one of the Gemini Bubba types, and he was examining his chart. To be sure, the glyph I use for Libra sure does look like the archway of the entrance to the Alamo.

Satan, though?

Now, when Mercury is Retrograde, the Mercury Signs [usually Virgo and Gemini> feel it more so than other signs, although about 80% of the population is affected, but I don't think I would normally refer to Mercury as Satan.

However, as I've often pointed out, the symbol for Mercury is like the Venus symbol, only it's got little antennas sticking out of its head.

Or horns, I suspect, as my Gemini bubba buddy was addressing it.

So it was Satan at 28 degrees of the Alamo, to use his symbolism. Personally, I think "Mercury in Libra" was a better expression.

Car town
The whole question about the car came up because I was trying to explain to Pa Wetzel what I'd heard about his car. I didn't guess that article would actually appear in print.

While he avidly uses the web and occasionally answers his email, Pa Wetzel hasn't made the complete leap to the net as a source of information. But he's getting there.

He also retrieved my paper note about Rosemary. There was a plant, originally started at the old homestead, many years ago. In fact, that Rosemary bush was shunned by Ma Wetzel because she claimed that every dog in the neighborhood peed on it.

Might be true. But the story goes, a clipping from that plant made it into my late aunt's greenhouse, and from there, it propagated everywhere. Plus, some of that original rosemary was the source of the big bush at Wetzel Manor these days, out of reach of any canine marking its territory.

Now, I've been bugging Pa Wetzel for years, literally, to get a decent spring of that "family" rosemary started for me. Ready to go into Shady Acres. He finally responded, and I was stuck with all the suits on the Monday morning shuttle to Austin with three small pots of rosemary planets.

"I can lay these things down for the X-ray?"


"Why not?"

"Potted plants. Rosemary, can't smell it?"

"Oh, okay. Well, better take your boots off then."

Via slash dot
I found this link about Toyota going to all-hybrid vehicles, or cars, by 2012.

Deal is, I've got some hands on experience with one of those vehicles. I remember driving a VW. For a while, in the "motorcycle years," I had, at one point, a Ford Van with a six cylinder motor, and yes, it took some careful navigation to get it up to freeway speed. Had to hit the entrance ramps just right. So that little hybrid isn't much of challenge as I'm used to judging distance with a vehicle that doesn't have neck-snapping acceleration.

I've also been accused of driving like "a little old man" so that's not much of question, either. Those hybrid cars aren't going to set any records, not by my standards.

But it's a heartening turn of events, to see a major manufacturing company make an attempt to get a little more realistic. "We have the technology."

First of the month
I was sitting in the other office, not my office, but my "other" office at that silly, part-time job I agreed to, for reasons that now escape me.

The reasons don't completely escape me. It's really not tough job, all I have to do is be dependable. But one of the problems is all the paper I have to shuffle on the first of the month. So, before I hop up to Dallas for Ma Wetzel's birthday, I'm shooting by the office to make sure I tend to everything before I leave.

The office itself is merely an efficiency apartment, the first one in a long block, what, about half dozen buildings? Two desks, a computer, a copier, a bathroom full of AC filters and cleaning supplies, the usual accoutrements that make up a property management office. Files. Paper work. Rent rolls. There's also a couch, and I must say that I've complained vehemently about that couch, as it's love seat size, certainly not big enough to stretch out on for a good nap. If I can't have an afternoon siesta, what's the point?

One of the tenants was hanging out while I was filing paperwork. Being the first of the month, all the rents are due. So I was dutifully and diligently filling out a deposit slip, stamping the checks, and chatting with the tenant who brought in is rent.

Okay, the door was shut. If it were truly my office, I'd have an open door policy, but it's not really my place. Not only would I have an open door policy, but I'd have my own, pretty Virgo receptionist to take care of the rents, the paperwork, keep all the tenants in line. Yes, and if it was a perfect world, we'd also have real candidates for our state-wide gubernatorial race. So much for dreaming.

That guy was just sitting there, talking about work. As writer, yes, he's also a waiter to pay the rent, which I collected, and we were just idling through an afternoon.

There's a mail slot beside the front door. That's where the money goes. Each month. No cash. Just checks. But then, there's lots of checks. He observed two or three rent checks get stuffed through that slot.

"I should have one of those installed in my place," he said.

I want one, too.

Halloween in Austin
So the big night wasn't that big of deal for me.

Didn't have any plans, thought about cruising 6th street to see the sights, but almost gave up on that idea. It was the end of the month, and that means the second job was a little more busy than usual. Move in, move out, collect rent, just the usual odd jobs.

So I stopped off for a shot of espresso on the way home, and Bubba calls me up on the cell phone. I was to wait for him, and since I was almost there, I had about half an hour to do nothing but stand in a doorway next to a pool hall, on "the Historic Pecan Street" and wait.

The night was just getting going. Four young women scampered across the street in a variety of "Catholic School girl" dresses/costumes. I couldn't help but overhear one them say, "We did not plan this well," as she was tugging her skirt lower to cover exposed flesh. From my vantage point as a shadowy figure lurking in a doorway, I would tend to disagree. Well planned, well executed. Less is more. It's a Zen thing.

We dined at the buffalo wing place, toured the Hard Rock, and hit the street. Grabbed cigars at one place, strolled around for while, and one costume brought some mirth with Bubba's question, "The scary thing is, is that his real hair?" It was a Rod Stewart [circa 1978> look-a-like.

Finally, we got to chatting with one of the cops behind the police barricades. A guy with antlers strolled by and the cops asked for them, as those antlers would be a potential hazard. Much later, I thought I could've made a point, as a pagan priest, that the costume was in fact a sacred relic. Anyway, the cop got the antlers, and we laughed about that. Then, another reveler looked at the antlers behind the barricade and asked where they came from.

Without missing a beat, the cop looked back, then said, "Nothing wrong with that; they're in season."
Dream journal
I don't usually write down what dreams I have, not here, but this was one of those vivid, "dinner was so spicy" kind of inspired dreams that I couldn't pass it up.

I was in a military uniform, short hair and all. Structure, "yes sir, no sir," on some base some place. Doing whatever it is that I was supposed to do. Soldiering.

There was a death of some kind. Either an accident or war, or battle. Three soldiers died. I was leaving the base, in uniform, on leave, or something, and I came across the three dead bodies, each draped with an olive drab sheet. Deal is, like in the movies, especially bad movies, I could see that the at least one of the bodies was still breathing.

"Hey, they're breathing, they're not dead," and I pulled the sheet back, only, it wasn't a body anymore, just the fragment of a skull, "That's right, we're not really dead."

Spooky dreams.

Tuesday two-step
Me and the cat argued Tuesday morning about who had the rights to what pillow, and she kept wanting me to get up and put food in her dish. Demanding, almost. I'd left the back door open, and there was a cool nip to the air. "Gets cool out and suddenly I'm your friend again?" I asked her.

I keep feeling like there's some kind of imbalance in my life right now, but I can take one glance at an astrology chart, and I can pinpoint the exact location of the malaise and discomfort.


Venus is backwards.

Happens once a year or so, no big deal. Plus the Sun is in that mix, too. I'm sure something funny happened at work, but at this time, I'm not allowed to reiterate the story. I grabbed a cup of coffee on the way home, trying to read the fine-ground grinds left over, but reading coffee grounds is not strength.

That sweet Pisces and Cranky Amy wanted food, and so we all went over to local noodle place. Deal is, the noodle stand is close to a pet store, and we had to see the flying squirrels [Australian Sugar Gliders>, the chirping frogs, the ferrets on crack, and then, I had to pony up two dollars for a small rat so I could see a Rock Python have some dinner. That poor Pisces, being vegetarian and all, sort of bothered her to see that small rodent get squashed and then swallowed whole. I was fascinated, though, and it looked like there was a complete second set of teeth along the roof the snake's mouth.

A guy wandered in, and he was asking about his pet ball python because the snake wasn't growing very much. I kept ask what the similarity was between that snake and me.

After watching the snake have his dinner, we rushed right on over, and had a bowl of noodles soup. Mine had the "steak" in it, and I gladly pointed out the slices of beef had been raw until they were cooked in the soup.

Made that vegetarian's night.

And while I making someone's night, this week's trivia question just got the nicest win. Stay tuned.

Monday two-step
I'm missing the part of my life where I can hide out at home on days when I want to miss the world.

I spent the greater portion of the weekend tirelessly working on horoscopes, not because I had to, but with the seemingly endless amount of drizzle, I didn't want to be outside.

Monday morning, despite the extra Daylight Savings Time hour, I woke up early enough, decided that I was still in the mood for it, and I continued writing. It's attributed to Hemingway, although I can't verify that right now, that the place to stop writing is not where you want to stop, but stop at place where you want to keep going. Makes it much easier to pick up the next day, right where you left off.

Advice I try to follow.

I hustled out the door and off to the bus stop before reading any hard news for the day, but I somehow missed that first bus, and I wasn't quite as early as I wanted to be. The day just plummeted downhill from there.

I left that other office in what I thought was fine shape, Friday afternoon. When I arrived Monday, with a spare box of Fortnum and Mason Peppermint Tea, I found a few notes from my buddies about a just a few things that I hadn't quite wrapped up correctly. Like, just about everything. Missed the bus, then missed the boat. This had the fine hand of "Monday" written all over it.

I never really did salvage much out of the day, not after that. Best thing that happened was a happy call from Capricorn [red headed> and another dinner appointment with a second Capricorn [not red headed>.

Capricornus Diem?

Take back Texas
The cat and I were discussing my deplorable voting record, according to her. My suggestion was to get rid of the whole current crop of politicians. But what would we do for entertainment then?

Unrelated, but interesting, nonetheless, on the way back from a Halloween party last night, we passed a typical sign, "Austin's Taxidermist: the Buck stops here."

Acti Labores Jucundi
Ah-ha. Settles that question.

The cat's morality, yes, she is Fundamentalist Christian. It's her cross to bear.

Kinky Friedman's new book is pretty good. I curled up on the couch with the cat sleeping on my belly, despite her issues with me and my belief systems [and voting record>, and we had us a fine time.

I'm glad to see that Kinky has gotten back into a fine form. I was missing something after last year's book, and this one is great. It even has a semblance of a plot.

But I wouldn't let something like a little plot get in the way of a Kinky novel. The wit is back in fine form, and the observations about humanity are spot on, once again. Plus, this one actually had a little mystery and suspense going with it, as well. Plus it featured Utopia, Texas. See, Utopia is a real place. Got several friends who have ties to the town. Small world.

Politics [open mind/closed topic>
As I was riding the bus to that other job, the one that I'm just trying to help my buddy out with renting and running apartments, I was reading the Daily Texan because I have a fondness for the student-run publications. Cut my chops in one, many years ago. Besides, there's an energy and urgency not present in the local birdcage liner.

The coverage of the most recent round of debates had, if I recall right, a nice pullout quote from Evan Smith, something along the lines of, "It's more a beauty pageant for the voters than being about the issues...."

I'm guessing the article ran a lot less than 1,000 words, probably a whole lot less, but in the summation of the Senate fight, Ron Kirk had a quote that made me dig out my voter's registration card, it's that abortion issue, surely one that's a hot question, "Women have a right to choose."

It's not an issue I care to debate. I applaud a candidate willing to take stand on sensitive topic. The problem, as I see it, separation of church state, remember? Anyway the problem has a lot to do with the question of morality, and yes, murder is wrong, should be punished by death, but in the case of what a woman does with her body? Isn't that something best **not** left to predominately white male politicians?

My cat, however, is a staunch Right-wing Republican. I'm sure she's a fundamentalist Christian, too. I'm just glad she doesn't have a voter's card.

Coffee coffee coffee
"...on my stereo..."

The lyric, and I might have it wrong, is from Dale Watson's Trucking Sessions.

The gentle, ever-present patter of raindrops kept beating a tattoo, not unlike "reveille" on the roof, yesterday morning. The gray sky with water falling left me restless and irritable, but I was bound and determined to wear shorts and sandals even if I froze. Which I didn't.

I hit the road early, working my way through the rain, up to the old Ruta Maya and the post office, and from there, I crossed on over to a bus line that popped me right on into the other office. I was a little early, but after a despondent feeling few days, I needed some kind of a lift.

I dealt with rain, rain issues, leaky toilets all day long. Nothing exciting, except for coffee.

For some reason, that first big cup of coffee at the place, which used to be Ruta Maya, was some of the finest tasting coffee I've ever had. Maybe it was the dreary rain, maybe it was the fact that I was wearing shorts and sandals, maybe it was the way the rain would bounce off the ball cap I was wearing and dripped right onto the end of my nose. Maybe my pallet was cleansed. Could very well have been the fact that it was the first good coffee day in a long time.


A few hours later, as I was cutting back through downtown, I stopped off at the Hideout for a homeward-bound cup of brew. I challenged the Virgo making the coffee with that first cup, a few hours earlier, and that lead to a discussion about my T-shirt ["Grinder's Coffee: Life's too short for bad coffee">, the merit of a long-draw espresso versus a short-draw espresso, and she wasn't sure she was up to it.

Poor Virgo barista.

It was good, but it wasn't quite up to that first one of the day. I think it was the rain, as much as anything. The barista did note that that for the last three times she's seen me in her place of employment, I was wearing a different shirt each time, and each time the shirt had something to do with coffee.

"Raven's Brew: served in bed, strong enough to wake the dead."

Looking at the local, state, national and international news is just too depressing these days. At least we have some serious mud-slinging politics going on now. Politics in Texas are best regarded as a blood sport.

I'm sticking to sampling coffee, much better place to be.

Hello Scorpio!
Isn't that nice? It's Scorpio time again. Just in time for Halloween, right around the corner. I was shopping for Ma Wetzel the other evening, and having no luck finding her what I was looking for. It came out of an in-flight catalog.

I really detest those in-flight catalogs. All that cool merchandise looks really valuable and entertaining at 25,000 feet over the Midwest. It's not nearly \\neato\\, **cool** and __keen__ in person.

But it was the genesis of an idea, and I let my fingers for the walking on the web, trying to find that identical product. Which I did find, only, the price was the same, and I'm not sure I trust just \\any\\ online marketing website. So I went back to the "sky mall" website, and the price there wasn't much different from the price anyplace else, all within a couple of bucks of each other. Here I am, one of the shadowy merchants on the net, and I was playing a game where I didn't trust some other net merchants.

It's my built in "BS detector." Alarms go off when I realize that a net storefront might be gone tomorrow, and my credit card payment goes with them.

By the same token, I'll pop down a credit card number fast as can be for an airline reservation, or to buy a book, or even to drop a dollar in a tip jar.

Don't know whom I trust these day.

Target acquisition
My sweet Pisces friend had to blow off a little steam, and the idea of live bait for dinner was rather appealing, so I fetched up some espresso - served by a Virgo - on the way home to get me in the right frame of mind for sushi. Interesting how a Pisces finds sushi as a comfort food.

After listening to many complaints about bosses, especially bosses who are shifting targets, I mentioned that I was looking for a certain cell phone accessory. It was late, that poor [sweet> Pisces was tired, and the only place open was Target.

We wandered amongst the aisles of stuff, looked over the cell phone accessories, never found what I was looking for, but I did get accosted by an employee, red -shirt and all.

Not sure of the significance of the red shirt? Remember Star Trek, the first generation? Two or three seasons in prime time, back in the late 1960's? Then forever more in reruns? The ensigns, in the landing party, the guys wearing the red shirts always got shot, abducted, killed off, or whatever the plot called for, usually in the first two or three scenes, in some hideously, campy, "distant alien planet." Red shirt? Feel sorry for them. And that one Target representative? I'm sure a completed application meant a commission or something.

So I filled out the application, in the cell phone accessories, then me and the Pisces wandered around some more. Cat litter, 35 pounds, on sale, $9.99. Good enough deal. The guy in the red shirt caught up with us, "You've been approved, here, you get an additional ten percent off your purchase tonight."

The Pisces clucked about credit ratings, and I loaded up on cat litter because, basically, well, my cat is full of a need for cat litter.

At the check out counter, I was expecting to pay for my purchase with a check card, but the checkout girl said I needed to charge it on my new account to get the discount.

"Okay, sure. This is like, free then, huh?"

She smiled, the Pisces said to check out the terms and conditions.

Which I did.

The document I signed?

The terms and conditions? The credit agreement? All the fine print?

It was all in Spanish.

Not one word in my native tongue. Or English, either.

Left over stuff:

"What's the number one motivator for all human behavior?" It was that corporate speaker, the presenter from the other day.

Blank stares.

"I'll give you a hint, it starts with an A."

Know what ran through my mind? Starts with an A all right.

Traveling not so light

Sister is a weird one. Got back to Dallas and Wetzel Cabana, which is Sister's term, and we had to rehash every little detail from the weekend and the funeral.

"Kramer, we need to watch out for them, you know," Sister was saying, and then proceeded to help herself to a second and third helping of Pa Wetzel's birthday cake.

"Yes, Kramer, you were what? Six months premature? Something like that? Mom was in labor, what? Sixty hours?"

"Yeah, Kramer, you were always the \\sensitive\\ one. You'd hit me, then I'd tell mom 'Kramer's hitting me,' and she'd say, 'he's just showing you that he likes you,' he's \\sensitive\\."

One of my cousins listened while we related the version of Ma Wetzel's story about **the list**. "In case I go first, there's a list of females that I approve of so your father can remarry again. But it has to be some woman on the \\the list\\."

My cousin looked at her husband many years, cocked an eye, and in very serious tones, "There is \\no list\\ from me." [As if to say, "don't even think about it.">

Which really isn't so odd, that side of the family is best characterized as **strong** women. Mighty women. Mighty strong women. Don't even think about it.

I don't suppose it's any surprise that I would view that side of the family as a matriarchy. No news there. Writers, artists, herbalists, a little of everything. After looking at my aunt's archives, though, I do protest that I don't have a choice, as I get my ability from both sides of the family.

Man, I hate funerals. It was so sad. The great Matriarch of the family was laid to rest. Couple of odd points, my aunt, being a great herbalist and all, instead of traditional flowers, the altar was adorned by a spray of herbs, cut from her own garden. The "high Episcopalian" service was punctuated, between Sister and myself, giggling about the pagan symbolism of the herbs themselves.

There was a discussion, albeit brief, between Sister and Ma Wetzel about the relative difference between the two styles of communion, "dip or sip."


"It's whether you dip the host into the wine, or do like all these Episcopalians do, and take a slug out of the jug...."

Leave it to my family to have a high-level discussion about theology while we're all in the front row for my aunt's funeral. Hey, Sister wore a dress, Aunt better be impressed.

In part it was very tearful, and I'm not a crier, not usually. A rainy day in the valley, along the edge of the mighty river, the cool fall weather hinting that colors are around the corner, and then, after the service, watching as my cousins, one in particular, waited until the coffin was lowered into the ground.

"I have very specific instructions, I'm to make sure she gets planted properly."

I'm still interested in the comment my aunt made, in El Paso, when she was talking about the "burn" files, "When I die, I left specific instructions, including some files that were to be burned."

The secretary disavows any knowledge of such files. But there was a treasure trove of files, letters from pre-World War Two.

Tears? Sure. Treasures? Only for people who like herbs or words.

Then, late in the evening, Sister was bugging me to help her reformat her hard drive.

Sunday? I'm not lifting her suitcase. She carries rocks, every software CD she's ever bought, books, clothes, candles, I mean, she has it all.

My family is pretty weird. After being around my cousins, though, I'm glad to see that it is a genetic thing.

My dear sweet, gentle, ever wonderful and long-suffering Scorpio mother [henceforth to be referred to as Ma Wetzel> is dreadfully afraid that I'll write something about the family. Some secret, some truth, or, her worst nightmare, I'll just be making something up. Something audacious and improbable.

"You should talk about the way she just makes stuff all the time," [Sister>

Why would I do that? Just reporting the facts is usually entertaining enough. Take normally bizarre family dynamics, and add the stress of a funeral, compound the mixture with the whole family traveling together, it can be a little strange.

We didn't get chance to leave the house before tempers were fragile. And Sister, flying in on a red-eye from the Left Coast was no better. She was in a highly animated state at a very unreasonable hour of the morning until we got on the next plane. She talked and talked [Gemini> until she suddenly stopped, mouth hanging open, passed out cold. The book she as reading was still open on her lap.

I poked my mother, "They're so cute when they're at this age and they're asleep," I tell her.

A little later, Ma and Pa Wetzel were asleep, and I poked Sister in the side, "They're so cute when they're asleep."

Sex, death and taxes
Two out of three isn't bad? Pa Wetzel beat the IRS in one deal, and we were celebrating his birthday, and Ma Wetzel implied she was randy. [Thanks for that image.>

I worked, then I played, then I listened as my mother tried her usual line, "I feel like a steak, you know...." [She **is** a \\vegetarian\\ - curious leading comment.>

We had dinner at some fancy place, then when we got the folks home, I presented my father with a new cane, then I booked it on out of there, had a Sagittarius to see about a cat.

Got a call a few minutes, later, my father's older sister passed away. Pretty hard on my dad, too.

Which means, instead of heading back to Austin, I'm off for points north for a funeral.

Can't say I'm terribly sad. My concern is for my father, and immediate family, not my aunt. I saw her not long ago - in El Paso. She was the one who wanted to confront the judge, right then and there, about a ticket I got while I was driving them around southern New Mexico.

Funny story, too.

I'm at a loss, and I had many funny observations left over from the corporate gig, all Scorpio - for starters.

Music: response
"Dallas is like a rich man with a death wish in his eyes." [Flatlanders, Jimmie Dale Gilmore et al>

But I love the Dallas skyline, swooping in from the mid-cities, east bound on I-30, the turnpike, \\Chemical Brothers\\ filling the cab of the red Virgo truck.

The traffic, like traffic always does in Dallas, ground to a stop shortly thereafter. Not like this is a big deal, seems to happen all the time. It's watching the reactions of the other drivers that amuses me. Beautiful day, roll the windows down, crank up the tunes, why worry? Still didn't get any place none to fast, but that's not like it it's any big deal...

Funny singularity for the day: like, almost everyone at the corporate party, at least the charts I looked at, all had a big Libra, influence. All management.

Job description grumbling
So Monday afternoon, it was back to work at the apartment complex. More than a few friends have had a laugh or two about that, me being the "super," and I'm not even sure what a "super" is. I know I'll toss back a cold one with the folks who run this trailer park, just to get a straight on certain management procedures.

So one beautiful afternoon last week, part of the job description involved me hoofing it around the UT campus, putting up flyers "apartment for rent." They skipped my idea of "cheap rent, close to campus," and opted for some more tasteful lettering. But a job's a job, and I did what I was supposed to do. Of course, we'll all friends here, so I let them know I was going to add my "expenses" for the hike. I stopped at two coffee houses, and I just figured that they owed me for the coffee, being on company time and all, least they could do was spring for my traditional double cappuccino, right?

What's a few bucks, besides, it was all carefully documented. No, really. It's not like I was charging them mileage or anything, just a little bit of Kramer out in the beautiful autumn weather, pinning posters to kiosks.

$10, total. A measly $10. A mere $10. That's only two stops along my way. And think: it added proof that I was there, right? I wasn't just out meandering about.

This afternoon, during one of those "office to office" official communications, I got this terse, "You don't really expect me to pay for this, do you?"

"Sure I do. It's documented, you've got the receipts, I was there, it was company time, I mean, yes, I do think you're supposed to pay for libations. It was hot day, part of that included a bottle of water."

"Kramer? You can't be serious. There are plenty of water fountains along the way."

I'm working for peanuts. Worse, I'm working for the "Check Nazi." I wouldn't have used that expression before, but now? Denying me my valid, legitimate expenses?

You wait until next week's scope goes up. I show them all a thing or two.

Recycling Men
Talking to another reader after work, I was asking about all the women with a certain astrological signature, all looking to find "the man of my dreams." Then, there's the other half, I was reminded, of women trying to unload the man they've got.

Wait, let's just hook those up.

Got man you want to get rid of, goes in column A.

Looking for man? Check column A.... How hard could this be?

That's the idea. Courtesy of a Scorpio. I'm wondering, though, if there is a valid business model here to work with, might just be.

Write a quick database, "Good, used, slightly soiled souls, up for grabs - looking for homes."

"Got man you want to unload? Advertise here..."

I just got to figure out the party about making money from this one.

Sunday's Seven
1. The pause that refreshes.

2. Born in 1965 or 1966?
I've been dealing with this group, astrologically, for a while now. I've found very little material that adequately deals with this group - astrologically. But Sunday, at the fair, listening to another reader carry on....

"Look, I feel like a snake molting, shedding its skin. Only, the part where it covers my eyes? I can't see yet."

Perfect way to put it.

Do these jeans make me look fat?

I said, "There is no right answer."

A Leo girl corrected me, "there are several answers that are correct."

"Where would you like me to take you for dinner?"

Or, "Would you like to go shopping?"

I suppose, it should be noted, in a humorous aside, Bubba once suggested, an answer to the question, "No honey, it's not those jeans that make you look fat, it's your fat that makes you look fat."

He did go without a date for several years.

3. Lost a bet
It was just a friendly wager, but the bet was a for a dinner at Forti's that __he__ would call by the time I got back to El Paso.

I got the strangest run around with the story, and if I'd really wanted to push the point, I'm sure I could've proven my point, as I figure it was a classic case of "he said she said," but sometimes it's just easier to admit failure. Or, concede a point, anyway.

So it cost me dinner at Forti's, but I wasn't too worried about it.

Gallina in Mole, muy good.

4. Saturday morning, in order to get around the heightened security measures, I put on a tux shirt, but left my studs, cufflinks, belt and tie in my bag. So Saturday morning, looking over the early morning mist rising up from the tarmac, I was standing there, getting dressed, balancing a computer and a cup of coffee, while trying to put those studs in my shirt. I never realized how hard it was to put those studs in without a mirror.

5. My Scorpio friend, another reader, was on the same flight as I, back to Dallas. We discussed many topics. I shared part of leftover granola bar with her.

"See? I bought dinner."

"Yeah, thanks."

6. Getting on the plane, we both headed to the jump seats, the over-wing exit row, and popped our feet up. I then bantered with the flight attendant, a Capricorn. That crew was on their last leg and quite ready to be out of the air.

7. Despite the valiant efforts of our Capricorn attendant, a Cancer did manage to sit down opposite us. She was carrying a copy of a book that piqued my interest, \\Idiot's Guide to Zen\\, which then, launched us into a number of points of conversation.

"You two," the Cancer finally asked, "you're like a team or something?"

"Oh no," I explained, "I live in South Austin, and she lives in North Austin. You think we should take this show on the road?"

To be honest, we have been working side-by-side, for what, ten years or more? But I'm not the famous one, that Scorpio is.

I'm going to El Paso
Early morning flight. Friday, now, Friday night, some poor, under paid, underappreciated, probably a volunteer, person made some sales call.

Poor guy, it went like this, "This is [I don't recall poor guy's name> with the Theater, and we're just calling past patrons, to see if you'd be interested in seeing something else we're offering, what sort of material do you like?"

"The absurdity of life. The cruel nature of human beings, man's inhumanity to man. The farce of the Republican Party...."

"Uh, hmm, okay..."

"Oh, no," I continued, "it gets more absurd."

"Uh, okay...."

"We're born naked, wet, screaming, covered in blood, then it only gets worse."

Poor guy. Didn't know what to think. Caught him a little unaware. Probably thought I was a raving lunatic. Which I might be. But that's another story, for another day. I'm going to El Paso.

Interesting problem
I got an unsolicited e-mail offer the other day, as a chance to participate as a ghostwriter in an astrology text. One of the big birthday books type of project.

Pluses on the project? The amounts offered were good, acceptable contract terms. Minuses? No real byline, just my name as a long list of contributors, writing to fit their style, no wit or originality, and none of my own style. In other words, a ghostwriting job. Fact is, it would pay better than my part time job right now, probably more than the $5 an hour I get with my present situation. Problem being, it's not going to be "my" stuff, and it's not something I could sell later, either. Plus, it would interfere with what I do already.

Thursday morning, I had a reading in the morning, a reading in the evening, and my weekend will be in El Paso, then next week, I'm at a corporate party - doing readings as entertainment - for a couple of days. Then it's back to renting apartments, and writing **my** horoscopes. Doing what I like to do.

What's more important? Big money? Or just being true to myself? [Read that link through to the end - I cried, then I laughed - life is short, art is long.>

Running on empty
Last bight, I was with a Virgo friend, and she was complaining, "It's 10:30 at night, and we're both whining, 'I'm too tired, I want to go to bed.' Alone, of course. Here, think we can make it across the street?"

It was Guadalupe, or the "Drag" to Austin natives and university students. On a Wednesday night, it wasn't too busy. We'd just gotten out of the taping of the Jackson Brown Austin City Limits show.

Pretty amazing. When I saw Robert Plant, I could feel the electricity in the air. Jackson Brown felt more subdued. The taping lasted several hours, for a one hour show. About halfway through, he was talking about it, between songs, "They told me not to worry about mistakes because we can always do it over. But you never know which ones to let go of."

A little later, while the tape was changed, he was unscrewing the top from a bottle of water, "I just can't imagine squeezing one of these things in front of lot of people."

For the record, the ACL Studio hold 400 people, more or less, so it's like an intimate cabaret setting.

Far different from seeing the Eagles in Dallas, what more than a year ago? Stadium seating, more than 400 hundred thousand people? Or the ACL studio, maxed out at 400?

During the taping, Jackson Brown played mostly new stuff, with a few old time faves thrown in for good measure.

His voice is strong, and his lyrics are still catching. There's a lyrical, pop quality to his writing that sticks. And sticks and sticks.

Yes, it was his birthday, too. Along with at least one other Libra in the audience. During my evening, I ran into a Gemini, then a Capricorn, then another Virgo, then a Libra who shared the star's birthday. The Moon? She was in Sagittarius.

The clouds were that strange kind of low-level cover that's not quite even, and I did catch a glimpse of blue sky for a little while. Maybe just a few moments, but that's all it took.

As the head honcho is out of town, and it was a slow day at their office, I managed to actually catch the 5:02 bus home. Always willing to change my pitch up, I stepped off in front of the capital building, and I started to head south on Congress Avenue, figuring the rain wouldn't last long.

Another bus pulled up, and after spending a week looking at routes and maps, I knew that the number on that one bus would drop in front of Thundercloud, just in the other directions. Sure, why not? By the time I got home, I had a sub with me, bringing much joy to the cat.

After we both dined, I just had to lie down for a minute. It's my biggest fear that I'd oversleep, then not be able to get any rest at a reasonable hour. Not a problem. The phone rang, and I had to answer questions about Neptune, Mercury, Venus, and the array of stuff in the 7th House. Whew.

To think that I could do that from a supine position, while still passed out in bed with the cat trying to take control of the pillows. I even impress myself sometimes.

The cat, however, was not amused. However, she does seem to like Nine Inch Nails, provided the volume isn't too loud. That's just weird.

I like my delete key. I've written two entries, and done away with them, all with that single, powerful keystroke. One was about my Aries buddy the other day, and another was about work, last week, something vastly amusing that the head honcho did. We laughed at the office, but after my recent diatribe, I just didn't find it appropriate. Besides, I have other fish to fry.

The weatherman promised rain, and it finally did rain. The cold front was just blowing in, but the markings were out early. The wind shifted around and was pushing dark clouds up from the coast just as I boarded the bus. Late, of course, didn't make the 5:02 PM bus, but then, I am getting an hourly wage, so I didn't mind. Besides, I was just in awe of the weather.

Sunset itself was obscured by the low-flying clouds, but the visual interplay of several layers of clouds, and single patch of blue sky, as I wandered home through downtown made my heart sing. Wasn't anything special, in fact, there was lots of visual material, but it was a matter of looking up. Not looking at my feet, not paying attention to where I was going, just looking at the sky. Crossing the Congress Bridge, heading towards Shady Acres, thinking about a detour towards someplace to eat, and always looking up. I loosened up my shirt, finally shedding it completely to feel the cool breeze - something I haven't felt here in several months. July? Even then, it wasn't this cool.

It was cool enough to drop everything and open up the doors and windows here, and let the evening's breeze chill out the place. That spell, which can only come from rain, that sense about the world being okay again.

The rain left, later in the evening, giving way to that clean smell, a pervading sense that everything was safe. Doesn't hurt that Mercury is no longer slowing down communications.

Sunday Seven
I was surfing along and hit the Friday Five, which was all about shoes. Instead of answering the questions, I thought I would just describe each pairs of shoes I own. All seven pairs.

1) Best pair of real shoes is a Lucchesse burnt cherry color, full-quill ostrich boots. Boots are more than a decade old, been to Europe a few times, and I've had them retread, maybe a half-dozen times, usually by the factory, and here's the odd part, the "factory" is El Paso, but the boots get shipped back from San Antonio. Takes six weeks or more, costs a lot, but then, the factory resole job is the best. I'm a little worried, though, as I've actually worn holes in the sides of the boots now. I think the original retail price was close to $800.

2) Best dress pair of boots, Lucchese again, handmade in El Paso, been overseas once, black Ant Eater. Been resoled a few times, by the factory. If I recall, these were also close to $800 in price, which is pretty good because that hide is no longer available, and that's dirt cheap for handmade [in Texas> boots.

3) Antique Justin Alligator, light brown. Bought them second-hand in a thrift store in Dallas, more than ten years ago. Dress boots. Can't wear them too often because folks think the skins are Sea Turtle, and that is a major social disgrace around my socially conscious friends. Justin Boots, these days, is located in Ft. Worth, I think. Price was, in 1989 dollars, $100.

4) Teva Terradactyl's [old style> - Pretty old pair, useful only as a back up, the Velcro strips to fasten the sandals on are wearing out. I've had them that long. They were, at one time, my "dress" sandals. Then they became the regular hiking footwear, and finally, they have moved to semi-retirement.

5) Teva, don't know the model name or number. Got them on sale, someplace like REI, and they are holding up pretty well. The problem with Teva's, I'm into my second decade with them, is that they are no longer manufactured in Arizona, but the boxes are all marked, "Made in China." Which means, I was looking for new sandals.

7) {new} Piper Sandals, made in San Antonio. These are new. Can't really report on them. Took them for their first ten mile wander on Saturday. Worked fine. No blisters.

There's a common thread here, either sport sandals, or cowboy boots. I don't see much need for anything in between.

Weekends should be for lolling around in the late summer sun, or in my case, rolling along the hike and bike trail, covering a good ten miles.

One end to the other, ten miles, more or less in 90 degree sun, a cool swim in the creek, then stopping, and thinking about, and I jumped back in again. Between the part-time "day job," and the seasons, I'm not sure that I'll have another chance for Barton Springs again for some time. It should be getting cool out, sometime. I guess. Houston and Louisiana might be under a wall of water, but it's been one, bright, sparkling day after another around here.

I was humming a song, thinking about it, and cruising on back to the trailer park when decided to change my pitch up, and I stopped for a big cup of flavored "shaved ice."

I was hoping to be healthy, so I tried "orange and pineapple" flavor. Next time? I'm getting blue bubble gum, instead. And I'll get a small. That huge cup of ice with a splash of artificial flavoring that had to be mostly sugar water, might as well get something that's really obviously artificial instead of pretending to be healthy. I had a bad case of brain freeze shooting in the sinus cavity by the time I wondered into the compound at Shady Acres.

I got saddled up to change up some web software, out with the old and in with the new, a cigar in one hand, the coffee going strong, but I just couldn't bring myself to work on it. Too much trouble.

Real Job - one week of Monday
Right before Mercury started going backwards, I picked up the phone, and one of my friends asked if I wanted a job. "Look," she was saying, and I recall joking with her about their inability to keep a good staff on hand, "it's only part time. You know, we just need someone a couple of hours a day, a few days week. It's really simple, you just sit in the office, it's got net access, and there's a just a little bit of paperwork, and you know, sometimes answer the phone. **Only** thing we ask is that you don't surf for porn on company time."

"Sure," I replied. Can't be too hard, right? Fly a desk for a friend, couple of hours in the afternoon, couple of days a week. Easy. Piece of cake, "what's it pay?"

"How about $5 per hour? We're thinking of giving you bonuses for any business you bring in. Plus tips, of course, you can keep most of the tips."

The last time I worked for this friend, I was getting a far more princely sum, and I was doing either astrology or tarot readings, I don't recall. I tendered an offer to build a web page, too. I don't rightly recollect if I did it or not.

"Managing" a couple of apartment buildings, full of students, how hard can that be?

"Look, Tuesday's the first of the month, we're going to need you there, \\first thing\\ in the morning, all the rents come in."

"Fine, how's noon sound?" That \\is\\ first thing in the morning, by my standards.

"We were thinking more like 7:00 AM."

Something's wrong here. I should have figured it then.

There's a Cap Metro bus that runs down Barton Springs, turns up First Street, slides through the eastern edge of the UT campus, then drops me right at the "office." Couldn't be easier. 20 minutes, door to door. Best 50 cent ride in town. Better, in fact, than most. So that part of the job is easy.

Getting there and back **is** the easiest part of the job. If this wasn't for a friend, I don't think I could do it.

"A couple of hours a day, a few days a week," has become, like, in no time, 5 & 6 hours a day. It's horrible. And that "light office work"? Wrong again, toner breath. Every minute of every day in that office is another problem. By Thursday, I was asking where they kept the cyanide capsules. It's something like about bazillion units in something like a half dozen buildings, a little east of campus. East Austin. Then there are the tenants. I've been yelled at, cussed at, I've had to sign a contract wherein I'm responsible for something, I don't even know what, plus I've had to negotiate everything. \\But wait! There's MORE!!!\\

There's one or two more positive aspects here. One, in this economic environment, this job hunted me down, held me hostage, and begged me to take it. We're in the middle of a recession, with no light at the end of the tunnel, and here \\work\\ comes to me. Work hunts me down and begs. Besides, this is for a friend, right? And the food's good, too. Right down the street, there's Mi Madre's for breakfast tacos, perhaps the best in the world, and Hoover's, and BBQ, and East Side Cafe.

Oh yeah, my buddy? He called to check on how I was doing, "It's snowing here," he was saying, while I was standing in the middle of one the parking lots with a shovel in hand, scooping up something I'd rather not think about. Sweating. Profusely. It was in the 90's that afternoon, and I was just trying to help a little.

Then there was that little problem with the deposit from the first of the month, too. "Give me your hand," the book keeper said, "SLAP!" "Hey, that hurts!" I cried. "Oh that's just a little slap this time, but if you make a mistake like that again, I'll make you cut me a switch." I didn't know that corporal punishment was still in vogue. If I was after something like that, I'd turn to one of my friends. But that's not \\my\\ idea of a good time.

After handling a few thousand incoming rent checks, it is a cash-free office [I openly admire that>, forgetting to post just one rent check in triplicate garnered that slap. Next time? I'm worried now. They need a Virgo in there to count the pennies, not me.

One of my other friends stopped by to see me. He paused, framed me in his fingers, "Yeah, I can see Danny de Vito playing you in this role."

Don't forget, I have a full-time astrology practice. "Oh, this won't interfere at all." But when a few hours a day, a few days a week is looking more and more like 50 & 60 hour weeks, I'm starting to wonder about this "job" stuff.

There's a bus, passes in front of the office at 5:02 PM. Takes 20 minutes to get to Shady Acres. 20 minutes in rush hour traffic. I can't drive it in that time. However, in that first week, I made that 5:02 bus exactly once. Never fails, right at 4:59, there will always be "one more thing."

I asked my buddy if he thought I would ever catch on, it's not a hard system, the place almost runs itself, it's got a good crew, except for me, and I am the lowest rung in the ladder - "Oh, you'll get it figured out in five or six years," he replied.

Five or six years? Wait, this is part time, I mean, I'm out of here next week, right? **Years?** Where's the golden parachute? Exit strategy? MBA? Perks? Keys to the Executive washroom?

"Kramer, you're doing just fine. We'll have you whipped into shape in no time. By next year, you can be making $6 an hour. Did you fix the AC in that one unit? Also, third floor, toilet is plugged up, grab the plunger."

The last time I held down a regular job was during the Christmas buying season of 1991. I lasted three weeks in a bookstore in Dallas before I tendered a notice. Anyone want to start a pool on how long this lasts?

Under the Radar
Don't ask me where, I can't recall, but I remember reading/seeing/hearing about a band called "Los Lonely Boys." What was important to me? They were from San Angelo, TX. That's \\all\\ I could remember. San Angelo?

I first worked in San Angelo, about a decade back. I loved the town. \\It's in the middle of West Texas, close to nothing.\\ No big highways - interstates - no big airport, not much of note. It's about three hour drive west from here, in the middle of rolling prairies. Not wonderful, but just kind of nice. Small town. Small town feeling. These days, I guess, they do have an ice hockey team - go [insert team name here>! Angelo State University, noted for something. Excellent cuisine, both Tex-Mex and steak. It's the middle of cattle country, as I recall, and - oh yeah - there's a now an art museum or something there, too.

So Los Lonely Boys were opening for Del Castillo, and my sweet Pisces friend has been after me to catch that act, therefore, it was Vietnamese bowl of dinner [steak, tendon & tripe soup with noodles - very good>, then Los Lonely Boys, and I was little worried. See, I had an airport run scheduled in the middle of this, had to pick up a red-headed Capricorn.

I only caught about 45 minutes of Los Lonely Boys, and for three guys, a little old band from Texas, it was amazing. When I looked on their website, I found that they're hitting all my favorite hotspots, the Texas Tour. San Angelo, Midland, Odessa, Corpus Christi, San Antonio. All the good places.

Los Lonely Boys though, are "under the radar." The band they opened for, Del Castillo, that band has recognition. Showmanship. Good stuff. Promises and hints in the air. Plus a hook: twin guitars that will rock your socks. Assuming of course, that you wear socks. I don't think I've worn socks in many months, and I won't be, not until later this month.

Del Castillo has the exact ingredients to take them far. As I understand it, they've only really been on the scene for a few months, but they have that powerful rhythm, that good hook, and some pretty amazing work by the two brothers on guitar that almost has to guarantee success.

But that opening act, the guys I had some strange pull to see originally, they are flying in under the radar. Del Castillo? Bound to be a big hit soon. Incredible musicians. Very versatile. Quite accomplished with the fretwork. Plus the vocalist can really move with the grace of dancer. And hint of something tribal, too.

I've seen a lot "Austin" guitar slingers. Del Castillo, coming soon to a real alternative radio near you, I'm sure. Los Lonely Boys? Stay tuned, I figure they've also got some talent.

I'm pretty jaded, these days, when it comes to music. Austin's got a ton of it, right in my own backyard. To see something that really get me excited is tough. Both acts were exciting. Both were typical in that they weren't typical. Breaking down barriers is good. Even for a white boy like me.

Classics from class
I forgot one of the best ones from class the other night, after the lecture, during the various discussions, I was listening to a mother of a two small children talk about various aspects of her children, "He [son> peed on her [his older sister's> toys again."

Sure, makes perfect sense to me. I was trying to collate the child's birth data with Mars and Mercury at the moment, would've made a good point, I thought, until I realized what was going on.

"He's just marking his territory, a perfectly acceptable male characteristic."

Dead silence.

To be truthful, it was a room full of women. No wonder. Made perfect sense to me.

Pacing myself
You'd figure, by now, I'd know how to pace myself better for a full day. Unfortunately, I don't quite have it all down just yet.

I wandered off my beaten path, and reversed the direction Wednesday morning. Instead of an afternoon coffee at the place where Ruta Maya used to be, I had some morning coffee there.

Perhaps it was the way the autumn sun hit me and my bare top, perhaps it was the way the sandals sounded on the downtown pavement, maybe it was ideas circulating in my brain. That last cup of coffee was just excellent.

I figure that threw the timing for the whole day off, speeding up the wrong portion of the day, getting out too early, then finally showing up to lecture - or teach - an astrology class.

What I've discovered, folks are interested when you talk about their sign, but what happens to the other 11 signs? That doesn't matter.

The chart held an interesting clue about some of the current events. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be more worried about these days. Terrorists? Fascist Republicans in office? Fringe religious groups? Thermonuclear ware threats? Runaway dictators? Baptists? Catholics? Jews? Muslims?

How about a Category Five Hurricane headed for landfall - worse yet - right where Tabasco is made?

The Sun is going to blow up?

That's just one helluva Mercury Retrograde, if you ask me.

"Class" went just fine although, I have new-found appreciation for the teachers who get up and do that every day. You see the yawns, the drooping eyelids, and there's only so much I can talk about for two hours at a stretch. I even left out some points I wanted to make. Maybe next time.

I was just crushed, heart broken beyond repair.

It was that "Mad Cow" link. The original link went to a short animation that was priceless. Imagine an image of cow, actually a bull, ranting about the treatment of our bovine friends. I can't recall enough of it to replicate the diatribe. It was outstanding. And I'm sure it lives on in some sector of the net.

So I did a search, looking for the file name, and after a couple of dead ends, I found it again.

My work here is complete. I'm off to teach a class about planets this evening.

Bad links
I'm loving this one.

So it's tasteless, crude, and uses lots of bad language. But it made me laugh. The cat was not impressed. Funny mad cow.

This one's Led Zeplin's classic. Crank it up!

Aramdillo Aerospace.

Blondes. Got to love them, eh?

Can you say "moral turpitude"?
Sun, miles and music
Austin City Limits Festival. Work in the Pecan Street Festival, too.

From the top, it started with a Virgo, and her birthday was supposed to be the music. I had a toss up, either Hank III in Dallas, or the ACL thing here. I asked Bubba for advice because he always seems to know what music is best. I was a little worried about his response, some months back.

"Dude, like, you've seen Hank III what? Lots of times, right? Think about the stuff you'll see at the ACL thing, more to write about. Better material."

So that's not exactly what he said, but it's as close as I can recall. Worried me some that he is starting to think in terms of written expression like that. Besides, I think, he was also figuring on working at it. I'm not sure, but I do know that he didn't work at it.

Saturday morning, me and that one Virgo girl rolled up from Shady Acres and spent about 20 minutes in line, exchanged tickets for wristbands, and we were good to go. Made the opening act, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, singing songs about Texas. That's twice I've seen this act, this year, along the South Shore of the lake. River. Whatever.

Ran into drummer friend of mine, a Virgo as well, and I asked why he was listening to country music.

"Man, that's all we play now. Besides, you can play country \\drunk\\."

He was checking out Grupo Fantasma. We moved over and listening to Los Lobos, with some Eyes Adrift worked in as well. Then, it was off to the creek because I was seriously overheating, and a cool dunk in the water was just a good idea. Which it was. Then back down the road to catch some grub and tequila at Chuy's. I don't know why they didn't sponsor the event, seems like a natural fit. Right there, restrooms a little more clean than the facilities on the site, and the food was better. Plus, Chuy's has that magic for the Virgo mind: tequila.

String Cheese Incident was going to take not one, but two slots on the main stage, but from what I've seen, or heard, all second-hand, I'm not sure that I'm all that down with String Cheese. I had hoped to check them out, and as we wandered off, after missing the Derailers, but hearing a little sound Tribe Sector 9, David Garza, and that stunning Nickel Creek set, it was time to call it night.

On the way back to Shady Acres, we passed a new place, the old "Good Eats" location. Sushi was on the menu. Okay. Sushi made by an Anglo Texas Taurus guy, and while the Volcano roll wasn't up to my standards, the sashimi platter was excellent. Either as cut bait or dinner, either way.

Burnt. Exhausted. Get up the next morning and do it all over. Actually it was worse, as I had to run my red-headed Capricorn to the airport first. I fetched up a some breakfast tacos, on the way back from the airport, fixed that Virgo some coffee, and we took off for 6th Street and the Pecan Street arts and craft collection of dust collectors.

One year, I found a very rare cane, for Pa Wetzel. This time, I couldn't find the cane guy, but I did stumble upon Piper Sandal guy. Handmade in Texas. Seeing as how I was limping along a less than useful pair of Teva's, now made in China, and falling apart in less than a year, I gured, for about a the same price, I could try these guys. While I was sitting there, I heard two customers talk about how old their sandals were, 12 & 15 years old. Pretty impressive. I slipped the new sandals on, and gave them the road test. For the rest of the day, no less.

That Virgo, because I'd paid for lunch or dinner, or something, offered to buy my lunch. I wound up with some roast corn. Rather good, but I think she came out way ahead on the deal.

From there, we took off for the ACL Festival again. As we got closer to the festival, the crowds got thicker. A nice gentleman in a lowrider chevy truck offered us a ride. I was sure it was my ponytail, thinking I was musician. That Virgo was sure it was a portion of her anatomy.

Thank to Ruben, we arrived with a few minutes to spare and secured a good spot in front of the Gourds' stage. What an amazing group. Even better than I'd figured them to be. Live? Just amazing. Very talented group. What was so amusing was watching them exchange instruments. The fiddle player also played guitar and mandolin while the lead mandolin also played guitar and bass, and the lead guitar guy also played the squeeze box, and the bass player also doubled on a guitar. Vocals? Any one of three or four of the guys. Whew.

From there, it was Vallejo doing their version of "Mexican Radio" then some Jimmie Vaughn, then a dip in the creek and more libations at Chuy's [plus some Hatch NM green chile tacos>, and back to the festival for Emmy Lou Harris, W.C. Clark, and the finale, the reunited Arc Angels.

From press reports and Bubba, I heard that there were long lines and ticket delays, but that's not something I experienced at all. I only waited once or twice for a toilet, and never much of a line at all for beverages.

Amazing. Good music, hot days, cool nights.

Austin City Limits Music Festival
I went, I saw, I listened.
One highpoint was Nickel Creek. Just amazing. Guitar [acoustic>, stand-up bass, fiddle and mandolin. Call it a string quartet? Austin City Limits Festival.

Unrelated mention of me and Fry's.

Round a-bout, 26/9/02 9:21 pm,  ya'll said:
> I actually spent time linking to your links in my various signs today. Aries
> (Sun) on cups with Taurus; Gem(Asc); Leo (Moon).
> Unusual for an Aries, I agree... but how do you get those links?  Only the
> patience of a Sag could come up with all that stuff (or do you delegate?)
> Just curious!

Variety of sources.  If I come across something I like, I try to find a
scope it fits..  I've been doing links for 7+ years.

It's usually from some kind of late night surf session, where one link leads
to another leads to another.  Some are casual, some serendipitous, some are
blatantly commercial.  Depends on my mood.

Sag patient?  Surely you jest.
Kramer Wetzel, Texas Shakespeare Massacre
"Brother you have a vice of mercy which better fits a lion than a man.."
Troilus in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida [V.iii.43-4>
> Just checkin' in to say "Hey" and that I liked the analogy this week to
> Amber. That
IS how I'm feeling this week...You kick ass! (but you already
> knew that).

Up and down
Up was the way I left the trailer, early Thursday morning. Walked up to Bouldin Creek to meet a client. I didn't get the note about the meeting time until 9:00 AM so I was a little rushed getting charts printed and scooting out the door.

Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse is on South First Street, and from there, it was just easiest to hop on a much maligned but entirely serviceable Cap Metro bus and ride it across the bridge to make the next appointment, elsewhere.

The "short" buses have a tiered design, and I was sitting in the back. Looking out the window, sitting six feet - or more - above the pavement, on the roadway side of the First Street Bridge offered a view that I rarely get. The sunlight, the river, way up in the sky, I felt like I was flying. In fact, that bus ride cut a good 45 minutes off my walking commute.

My extra time did allow me chance to shop for some more cigars, a couple of relatively inexpensive cedar-wrapped A. Fuentes' Robustos. A little BBQ, a pocketful of cigars, life was good for a short spell.

I walked home in the wan sunlight, on the lowered pedestrian part of the First Street Bridge, angling off towards Shady Acres. Despite appearances, though, I was at a low ebb. Something was tickling at the back of my brain, something bothering me. Something's amiss. Perhaps more so than just that miscreant Mercury, too.

It's endemic, though, in my line of work, listening to other peoples' troubles, some afternoons it just catch up with me.

"Kramer, you sound like a dork."

I fetched that message off my voicemail at 4:31 PM. I listened twice before I dumped it from the system. Possibly some southern or Texas twang in it? More than likely female, my guess would put the age between 25 & 45 - a good target demographic. In fact, it's an excellent target demographic - just about my favorite, right gender, right age range, perhaps some southern lilt in the voice, sure.

The expression, "dork," is such a mature way to describe a wide range of sentiments. Problem being, with no name, no number, there's not much of a chance to call back - no avenue for intellectual discourse. There's no way I can enter into a discussion with the person on the other end. It's a voicemail, the recording says, "Leave a number."

To me, after listening to voice messages for years - I've had that one business number for over a decade, I think - I can tell a little bit from background noise. That one call, it sounded like it was coming from a phone room. One of those horrendous, outbound call centers. There's a certain rush of noise, a distinct background rumble that comes from listening to that other end of the phone, the sound-squelching circuits are sort of heard over a distant din of other voices.

I used to have a lot of sympathy for anyone who worked in an outbound call center because I've had friends who've worked there. But these days, having been awaken one too many times by a telemarketer, I have less patience. However, this happened the other evening, when one call got through to me, I politely declined, emphasis on polite, and terminated the call in short order. Save your breath.

It's not like I'm not available, after a fashion. I tend to respond to e-mail, although, these days, there's a half-day lag in my response time. I've taken to letting the mail age, like wine or cheese, letting it mature some. Besides, I've been up to my elbows with Mercury [Retrograde in Libra, the relationship sign> \\related\\ work.

That Mercury work is much like yesterday's quote. In general, relationships and nerves are tenuous, at best. But that's just the astrological weather. Under a sunny afternoon sky, I decided that I wasn't going to let people get me down, and as I prepared for yet another reading, I stopped by the old Ruta Maya and picked up an A. Fuente 8-5-8 cigar. For some reason, that particular cigar just makes everything more leisurely, easier to accept, life is good, even if Mercury is retrograde.

I never claimed not to be dork, either. In fact, I would kind of take that as a point of pride, being called one. Look at the picture, I look like a dork in the front of the boat.

But like another dork suggests, Polonius in \\Hamlet\\, "To thine own self be true," I have to be true to myself. Yes, I am a dork. But then, so is Polonius [especially in Act II, Scene ii>, and that person who left a short message? Probably stuck in an outbound call center?

"Thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes"
Shakespeare's \\Romeo & Juliet\\ [III.i.17-19>

"Fiddle fart." It's an expression heard Tuesday morning, in reference to some activity that seemed to be without a lot of gain in it, but it made sense. I just wonder if the term is a regional form of dialect, or if it's used more broadly.

Wall Street Journal, Independent Coffeehouses and Starbucks. Maybe I should find an astrological "Starbucks" someplace.

Monday morning
A client showed up a few minutes early, just as I polishing off a plate of Migas at Magnolia. She took one look at the food, and suggested it was a heart attack waiting to happen.

"I covered ten miles on the trail yesterday, I can afford to eat a little something like this," was my response.

I then rolled back down the hill and covered some more mileage.

It's "AUTUMN" in Austin. Don't laugh, the weather feels a little cooler, barely into the 80's. Lots of sunlight, but a subtle, slightly more muted sunlight. The days are a little shorter, and it's that moon, too.

Mercury retrograde will do that to you.

Sunday Seven
And so it goes.

One. I came across these articles and links to an Ancient Greek "computer" that was used to calculate
the locations of the planets. It's a bit of an astrology/astronomy/archeology puzzle.

Two. Weather's been too nice. I cleared a good ten miles around the hike and bike trail, aiming for the springs, and deciding that it might be too cool for me to take a dip.

Three. Mercury is backwards and folks are just falling out of trees with weird problems. Full moon didn't help any, near as I can tell.

Four. Bubba came by and took me to the Chili Parlor for some dinner. He asked the waitress about the letter hanging around her neck, I said it stood for "Pisces," and she remembered that I'd guessed her sign a week or two back. "He's amazing," she said, to which, Bubba replied, "Yeah, you should see him turn jello into pudding. It's really fun at a strip club, on 'Jello Wrestling Night.' Some girl thinks she's covered in jello, it turns out it's just butterscotch."

Seven. Hotmail problems. Again.

5 & 6 got traded in at Waterloo for a new CD.

Vegan fishing
Went fishing. Didn't catch a thing except for lots of vegetation, in fact, I caught so many water weeds, I have a new title as a Vegan Fishing Guide.

That one LCRA lake was down about a foot, which, in my mind, doesn't make a lot of sense, not with the recent rains, but I wasn't too worried about it. We were \\on the lake\\ before sun-up, and fishing our little hearts out. It was a spectacular day, too, with the bank temperature showing it to be 55 degrees before the sun crested the horizon.

We spent a good five hours in the boat, nothing to write home about, looking at naked shoreline, my buddy asking about birds because, well, the birds were about the only ones having any luck with the fish. Great Blue Heron, lots of Egrets, a lone osprey.

Then, on the way back into town, after good Bastrop BBQ, we noticed a truck broken down at the side of the road, a handful of folks working on it. Then again, a few miles further along, another broken down truck, again, already surrounded by helpful folks.

"Yeah, Mercury must be retrograde," my fishing buddy was explaining, "crap, I'm starting to sound like you guys, 'Mercury is retrograde,' how bad is that?"

> Sorry to say it but, MLA citations are futile
> exercise for most students.

So I've found out.

Deal is, it's a trick question. Why did I include the Google link? Because it's not a question that can be answered with a simple web search.

And, of course, it's a personal favorite. But never mind that now.

The lyric goes, "The moon was in the east," and that's what it was like, coming home a little after midnight, right after seeing and hearing Alejandro Escoveda. Different musician for that one lyric, though. The way the moonlight sparkled on the water, pure magic in the air.

The opening act was good, really good. Decent musicians. Talented. Tight, good guitar, etc. But here in Austin? It's that typical "jazz - pop - country - latino - rock \\Austin Sound\\." We're pretty spoiled. But Alejandro's set was amazing.

Heck, I'm off to go fishing and freeze my butt off until the sun comes up.

Gemini, Virgo, Gemini **plus** Mercury RX
I'm not sure which one is more important, what was the biggest thrill for the day. First, it was lunch at Hoover's with my Gemini buddy. He instantly felt strong feelings for the little waitress [Sagittarius>. "You know, I dated more Sagittarius than anything else. Mercury is retrograde, what are going to do?"

Nothing of note. Then, it was a Virgo with a dead possum - only, as it turned out, the possum wasn't dead, just asleep. \\Playing possum\\.

Finally, as I was walking homeward under a sodden sky, my phone rang. I took the call, and it lasted from downtown, over the Congress Avenue "bat bridge" on towards Shady Acres. Just then, Bubba stops at the light. He waves. I look at the phone, tell him it's stupid to talk on the phone when we're both in the same location, and I jumped in his car. We rode \\back\\ up Congress until about 7th, when I spied my original destination, that somehow got thwarted because I was walking and talking, and I rolled out of the front seat, pulled a shirt back on, and ambled into the Hideout for a quick treat that topped the day.

I got an Amy's Ice Cream/Hideout Espresso "milk" shake. Only, no milk. Just two ingredients, three shots of espresso blended up with some of Amy's Mexican Vanilla. That made the day: rich, thick, creamy, so satisfying, the perfect combination to give a little lift to the evening and hundreds of e-mails with "close but no cigar" answers to the trivia question.

To answer this week's question, a proper citation has to include **the page number** where the quote is found. Simple as that. Remember, I can check this stuff, too, as I do have a copy of the texts in question.

Which never addresses my Gemini buddy's analogy, from lunch:
"Mercury Retrograde. You ever watch a long jumper?"

I felt very much like that one Apple ad, where "Ellen Feiss" says, [pause> "huh?"

But my Gemini buddy continued, "Yeah, watch what they do. They [the long jump people> walk up to the sand pit, looks at it, then walk backwards, keeping their eyes on the destination, back to the starting blocks. Then 'boom' they're off."


"Yeah, see, Mercury Retrograde is like that. You're walking backwards, getting ready to spring and make the best leap ever. Retrograde, walking backwards, you know, reviewing, getting ready, keeping an eye on the objective."

Wow, man, that's just, so, like, you know, poetic. Or something.

Duck Tape
{{popup WhatRealWomanDowithDuctTape.jpg WhatRealWomanDowithDuctTape 200x250}}What Real Woman Do with Duct Tape

Which has nothing to do with Mercury, the cat, BBQ sauce, or the way I reworked some of the entry index to the website. The pipelines were acting terribly clogged on Wednesday afternoon, so I undertook a little trimming. I found that two images choked the way the front screen would load, so I tossed them for the time being. Might change my mind, but simple is better, for right now.

\\None of the functionality is gone\\, i.e., \\the links are still there, it's just the images are toast for now\\. Missing something like the picture for the kitty cam? Or the changing views I would put up from various digital sources? Sorry, but thank AOL's lack of bandwidth for that.

I'm aiming for the big Powell's banner again, but I couldn't help myself when I stumbled across the banned books banner. I'll only have that one up for a little while.

More on Mercury
"Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars,"
Shakespeare's \\Henry VI, part one\\ [I.i.3-4>

Bloom has an interesting take on the early history plays, weaving sources and influences, and he's allowing for a heavy Marlowe influence. Can't say myself, either way on that issue, but the argument is cogent.

My own inauspicious stars worked hard against me. I had to rearrange travel schedules three times to get it all done right. Southwest bucked me off three or four times, and their website got at least one date backwards before I got it all sorted out. I wound up having to call and cancel reservations, not once, but twice.

I'd heave a sigh, but it's just Mercury and there's no sense in getting upset.

Had dinner with my Pisces friend, and she was not doing too well. Until I explained that yes, Mercury is backwards in Libra and yes, everything is in a hand basket, headed some place for a while.

It was sushi served by a Virgo at the new place downtown. I was decidedly unimpressed with the service - I asked for hot green tea, and I got teabag in mug of warm water. The Pisces asked for hot green tea, and she got a beautiful tea service complete with clear, crystalline teapot with an integrated tea strainer, and a clear teacup with saucer.

"She's obviously special," the Virgo told me.

The recommended sushi roll was, however, most excellent. Named for a dead German philosopher.

"But look, his name isn't even spelled right," the Virgo pointed out. I couldn't even pronounce the name, much less note that it wasn’t spelled correctly. But like her advice, it was a good roll.

Yes, Mercury is retrograde
Indiana Jones robot at this one. Going by the program and not the books, Mercury was retrograde on Saturday.

Means that all the processes slow down, and there's a larger than usual margin for error. No big deal, all part of the cycle. Getting ready for it this time, I glanced back through my library, my collection of partially read books, stuff that didn't work, and I happened upon my copy of Harold Bloom's \\Shakespeare - The Invention of the Human\\. Big book.

Think it was gift. I do know that I gave a hardback copy to my father, one Xmas, years ago. So I picked it up, leafed through it, then settled in. I was surprised, and I'll have more as I go along, but it started right out as an excellent book.

It's perfect reading for such a mercurial time. After a delightful introduction about how Shakespeare's canon of work is a secular text that so universal, the book has started to read like a set of lecture notes from a class, explicating each play. This is good stuff. Especially good reading material considering its academic roots.

I've enjoyed the way the author tackled a sticky problem, \\The Taming of the Shrew\\, and pretty effectively laid to rest all the bigoted nonsense about its anti-feminist roots. Shakespeare clearly likes women more than men, and clowns more than nobles. At least, that's how I read it. Makes good sense, too.

Robert Plant & ACL
What a show. To think, I almost missed it. Best of all, it didn't cost me much. I did have to spend three bucks for parking, but I figured that was a small price to pay for what I got to see, hear and enjoy.

Riding back, my Virgo neighbor kept repeating, "What a babe he is. He's just an old hippie, you know, Kramer, we could cut your hair, and you'd look just like him!" [Repeated three times.>

Show was pretty amazing. It will air November 9, and it's worth seeing. The taping lasted close to three hours, he did one encore, and some girl sitting next to me had one of the best comments I heard, "This is better than Christmas morning!"

The studio isn't very big, imagine a really intimate club setting, some padded bleacher-type seating, and - I think fire code was 400 - Robert Plant, singing songs. He joked about one song, "This one should be in the public domain by now..."

He still has his voice. Plus he was pretty relaxed. According to my friends on the set, employees, not volunteers, he was a bit naughty in the rehearsal, "I can do anything I want?"

Rock stars don't change.

He did pay homage to American Delta Blues and Elvis, mentioned Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, and left the crowd on its feet, calling for more.

I don't know how Austin City Limits managed to swing getting him in to play, but it was incredible.

Don't ask me to name the songs, I couldn't repeat the set list if I had to. Some old, some really old, some stuff from the new album, a little of everything. Still got the pipes and the humor, judging from the banter coming from the stage.

For God and Texas
The lyric goes, "For God and Texas, I hope Fannin's on his way."

The wet earth, as if from rain, along the northern edge of the trail, Saturday around noon. The aromatic fragrance of fresh-cut lumber, redolent with that sense of sap, in a construction area. Lavender, along the edge of the trail by the freeway. Hot grease, with piquant spices - TexMex cooking.

While I was away, my Virgo neighbor left a message, "ACL [Austin City Limits> ticket to the Robert Plant taping tomorrow night, want to go?"

Now, I'd refused a single ticket to that show about a week ago, but I didn't think that was any big deal, as I did make arrangements for a taping I would definitely like to see, in a month or so. But put like that, and having nothing on the schedule, sure, why not go to hoity-toity ACL taping?

"So how about tonight?" I asked, because a couple of buds had sent me an e-mail telling me that they had worked themselves in at Ego's, just down the street and around the corner from the trailer park, just past Threadgill's, "got some friends playing over at Ego's."

We hiked up to Guero's and had ourselves a mighty fine plate of fajitas, then rolled down the hill again to Ego's, and I really needed some help.

Looking at the diverse crowd, I asked what anyone had in common with anyone else?

My perspicacious Virgo friend pointed out that they all 1> knew where the place was, and 2> could stand Ego's [smoky> environment.

The opening act rocked right along, I forget the band's name. At one point, though, it was little bit of everything absolutely no common thread amongst any of the patrons. No taxonomy could fit this group. Punk, preppy, middle-aged, old age, kids. A little of everything. The guy on stage was working a harmonic rather adroitly, and the TV behind the bar had a football game on. The place is strewn with Xmas lights.

The guy at the front door taking the cover charge was wearing an AssJack [Hank III> T-shirt. I commented about that, and replied, "You know, it's not Black Flag." No, it's Hank III. The guy in line behind me, cowboy hat, boots, jeans pressed right, tried to hand me money for the cover charge.

Only made it through my buddies' first set, but they closed with my favorite, where that line's from. Plus they do a Townes van Zandt song incredibly well. And of course, they cover Golden Earring's "Slipping into a twilight zone," only with a banjo.

Bus system
I've long been a huge proponent of mass transit. My personal feelings tend to towards rail, as there's a certain romance with trains, like nothing I've felt in any other kind of conveyance. So I was looking at routes on the Capital Metro site, and I found something curious.

The main map I found, has a curious legend in the middle of it. Remember, this is an \\electronic\\ document. Right in the middle, it says, "See other side for downtown details."

I was explaining this to my Libra buddy, and being a gentleman of certain age, and being a gentleman of a South Austin flavor, he just looked at me and then wondered out loud, "Just walk around to the other side of the computer, dummy."

Friday the Thirteenth, dogs, and astrology
I passed a friend's place the other day, her dog was laying on the porch. I whistled at the dog, the torpid late summer heat had him prostrate on the porch, and frankly, he couldn't be bothered. He thumped his tail once, and went back to doggy nap land.

The lady who owns that dog is a Pisces. The other night, another Pisces asked why she should pay for an astrology reading when she had a friend who was willing to do it for free. I didn't have a snappy, quick comeback for that. I should, but I didn't.

The question burned at the back of my brain for a while, and I mulled over possible ways to address it.

Possible answers? "You get what you pay for." That's always been a favorite of mine. Or, "If your friend's so good, why don't they charge for their services?" Or any one of a number of similar responses now come to mind.

The real catch, I've found, is that stuff that goes out for free is treated lightly, strictly as fluff. The important material, the meat of the message, it gets missed. In sheer numbers, I've weighed this before, my "Planet Profile," the usual prize for a contest around here, weighs in at 2500+ words. The other free stuff that I've found on the web, from various sources, barely tips the scales of the word processor at 500 words. I was preparing a set of reports the other night, to ship on down the virtual vacuum tube, and just one planet profile, the "El-Cheapo," was close to 3500 words. I think it was for a Virgo - they always demand more.

Problems are with perceptions. Free stuff never gets the full and proper treatment it should. I still have a number of professional psychics, this is their stock and trade, who rely on my services for understanding the planetary mix. I've always found that curious. Nothing's better than hearing my own words parroted back, well, except I'd like a footnote. Not like that's going to happen, either.

That dog, the other day. It was hot, and I didn't have a stick in my hand. Or a bone, or a chew toy. Or food. Nothing interesting. He just thumped his tail once. He was doing exactly what I would do, too. Nothing really motivates me, I mean, he didn't have to do anything but guard the porch, and since I wasn't going over the fence, I didn't rate a lot of attention. If I have no investment in a process, then I'm not worried about whether I do a good job or not.

Bubba, bless his Gemini soul, reminded me about this, that same evening. We met on a radio show he was producing. I was "amazingly accurate" for any number of listeners, but I never could hit him. I predicted good stuff, based on the chart I was looking at, and he went through hell. I suggested he was about to get a raise, and he got fired. So, we stayed friends, but he didn't really trust this astrology stuff too much. He liked the scopes, but he didn't really trust my readings.

A few years back, and the story involves a leggy blonde, a stripper or two, his "sister" Kathi [Virgo>, and a lot of cigar smoke, there's an Aquarius and West Texas part of that thread, but as he often intones, "never mind that part now," he was over, and I had just finished printing up something like 50 pages worth of astrology report for him - on a printer that was slow as molasses - he took one look at the material, and asked why I had his year wrong on the chart. So for the first couple of years, I had his data off by one whole year. I took that painfully produced report and dramatically threw it in the trash. I didn't want him making any more mistakes.

That report? The earlier prognostications that were done for free? No investment, other than wanting to see him do well. It's an honest mistake, and one that I make sure is right before I ever sit down with a paying client.

The dog was frisky today, but I had a stick in hand, something for him to chase. Bubba blames me these days for what Saturn is doing to his Gemini self. At least I know where it falls in his chart exactly. You get what you pay for, or, in the case of the dog, what you play for.

Star Signs
I was coming home the other night, up in the sky, right after sunset, Venus and the Moon were side-by-side.

It's a familiar image. It's on a flag or two. Better yet, there's a building on the square in Lockhart, last time I checked, it was a building supply company on the ground level, and not much else on the second or third floor.

Outside the third floor, and on the uppermost corner, in a fit of architectural pique, there's an inset image of seven stars and a quarter moon. Mystical images that suggest a conspiracy tie to some secret order overseeing Caldwell County's courthouse? Maybe. Or maybe just a decoration? Whatever. The symbol of Venus and the Crescent Moon is familiar to me, but then, for the longest time, a set of tarot cards was a one of my familiar, everyday tools. I'm used to these images.

So it was the crescent moon overhead, the horns pointing away from Venus, but next time?

I read "The Whore" Wednesday morning, and called Bubba \\immediately\\. Not because I was mentioned but because there was an extra level of meaning in his work. He certainly deserves some appreciation for what he's doing. Weaving multiple layers of significance into an innocuous post about work and recent events, plus some added, hidden meaning suggests that the boy's a poet. Just don't tell him, it'd go to his head. Or he'll think it's some kind of sexual allusion.

I've taken some unusual detours lately, working elsewhere, and as I headed back down the hill on Wednesday afternoon, I stopped long enough to have a quick meal at \\The Caffeine Dealer\\ [Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse>. It's going to get a "best of Austin" mention. While that's good for them, it's not particularly good for me because it means another neighborhood hangout gets discovered. "Discovered" means exploited.

"Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial."
Antony in Shakespeare's \\Julius Caesar\\ [Act III, scene i>

I'm not sure how I feel about the upcoming day. It's the anniversary, but then, how has my world changed? How has your world changed?

Since 9/11/01, I've taken more time to understand certain elements in my life. I tend to vote "green" or Democratic, and I've tended to have a very low opinion of our former governor. Still do. But. He is my President, right or wrong, and as the Commander-in-Chief, he's the boss. I'll follow him. I'll ask questions, but then, I have a right to ask questions if I want to.

Not so very long ago, up in Dallas, I had dinner with a couple of friends. One of my friends had a new male companion with her, a male of Arabic descent. Look: I'm Sagittarius. I wade right on in and ask the questions instead of acting casual and sly.

He was, in his words, "A cafeteria Muslim." Means he didn't eat pork - very often. It's hard to live in this country and not occasionally succumb to the pleasure we call "bacon." And according to his version of his faith, he was forgiven. I pressed a few more questions, as he'd read the Koran in its original language, "Yeah, all those martyrs? They are all doomed to hell. It's a sin to take a single life in the name of Allah."

Sure beats the rhetoric I'm hearing from some circles. But then he was also just a "cafeteria Muslim." I used to get served horrid fried fish every Friday, at one place, in honor of "cafeteria Catholics," I suppose. Or I've got more than a few "cafeteria Jews" in my list of friends. I even know a Baptist who \\dances\\.

In the last year, I've been to a Pagan wedding, celebrated Seder with a Jewish couple, and had my dose of grape juice at the rail in a Lutheran church. All works for me. \\Freedom of religion\\.

Being true to my sign, I asked point blank why the "cafeteria Muslim" moved to America. He answered with a question, "You like your president?" No, he wasn't \\my\\ choice on the ballot. But I only got one vote. "Say something like that in the country I was born in?" You'd be shot.

Think about that next time - before you forward me a joke about the former president, or the current president. In other countries, to this day, the population does not have a right to ridicule their leaders.

Our system is far from perfect. Big money apparently buys big favors. But there's always a chance. Our political playing field is far from level. At least we have a political playing field.

More unsolicited commercial e-mail woe
I got around to working on the server and stuff Monday morning, before heading out. I found something like 2500 bounced e-mail messages as a some unscrupulous bulk e-mailer was using an unattended mail gateway here to bounce messages out to AOL.

I had 2,500 + messages. I had to close up some holes, too. No more letting "anything" at astrofish.net cycle through. If it's not a specific in box here, it doesn't get any attention. Simple as that. Seems to have reduced the bulk, unsolicited mail by third to a half. I'm having to rethink some design issues, too, plus consider another host, although, this one has been pretty good. Plus, it has all the bells and whistles that I like. Almost all of them.

Monday was a long day, lots of stuff happening all at once. Plus there's this sentiment I keep reading, and I wrote a long entry about how I feel about 9-11, but I decided not to post it. I'm tired, more ways than {{popup flowchart.jpg flowchart 450x520}}one.

Sunday Seven (spit and post)
1) Rain Redux
2) Clancy
3) Little City Coffee
4) The (new) Cedar Door
5) Texas Chili Parlor
6) The Cowboys vs. The Texans
7) Pisces

Had about enough of {{popup cam9802.jpg cam9802 320x240}}this. Got the dreaded 5 AM phone call, "Heavy showers at the lake, maybe later in the week or next weekend, okay?" Bummer, man. I wanted to fish. But not in the rain. Thunder boomers overhead a little later in the morning suggested that the idea to scrap the fishing for the day wasn't such a bad idea after all.

I finally finished reading Clancy's \\The Bear and the Dragon\\. I'm not sure what's a better tale, and since I haven't read any of the previous books, I'm not sure I can comment on them. I did do a movie review about \\Hunt for Read October\\ way back when, and I'm sure I gave it a good review - anything with Sean Connery - Virgo - is a usually pretty good. Then there was Affleck who never did a lot for me, but he did do a good Ryan in the film (and who stars in a lot of the better Kevin Smith films, too). The story is, my buddy loaned me his fine, first edition, hardback copy, and I found the physical novel too heavy to comfortably read while I was supine on the couch, trying to adjust the newly acquired reading glasses and balance the heavy volume. Didn't work for me. So, in Austin, then El Paso, then Austin again, then Denver, Aspen, Amarillo, Austin, I kept looking for the paperback version of the book. I didn't manage to find it until I hit the 6th or 7th book kiosk in SeaTac. At that point, I was about halfway through the novel, and I wanted to finish it because it was just getting good. Took a good 400 pages, but by the end, I wanted to know what was going to happen, and the fact that I went out and paid retail for paperback copy ($7.95) in an airport suggests that the story - especially the details plus some very interesting overtones - was good enough to drag me into it.

So the afternoon's trip was to the Little City Coffee for a meeting of the Journal Writers' Group. Coffee, tech points, and I suppose I owe one an apology as I pulled a typical Sagittarius stunt, "Wow, it's the makeup," having never seen that particular Pisces all done up before. In hindsight, the comment was prompted by the fact that she's already got devastating eyes, and the eyeliner just further accentuated that. I'm sure it's something that most males miss.

With a Scorpio and a Pisces in tow, we graduated from Little City to the new Cedar Door's location. Just as \\the\\ football game was coming on, that Pisces, after a Mexican Martini or two, tried to draw a line in the sand. I just chimed in with the usual musical references, Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore come to mind immediately as songwriters who make mention of Dallas. I just pointed out that I might not really be a Cowboy's fan. Two of them, one of me, they had the tequila, what would you do? Go Texans! I do tend to side with the underdogs in all contests. All I saw of the beginning of the game was a touchdown in the first minute or so. Then we went back to business. Tequila and women from Southeast Texas is a dangerous combination. Maybe that's just females and tequila, more research was called for.

And food. So we hopped in a car and teetered up to the Chili Parlor, sat in the back and watched some more of the game. Never mind that unfortunate incident with the parallel parking that didn't work. By the time I was halfway through a bowl of the Three X chili, the Pisces really started to make my night. I'm an aficionado of accents. Being raised, my guess, in or around Houston, the inherent Southern charm, the thick accent began to ooze out. Just made my night. Quick repartee, charming accent, perfect mannerisms. Excellent political mind, as well. She did switch to some kind of vanilla vodka thing and coke, as well, "I was raised in a small town in Texas, after school, you went to Sonic and got a vanilla coke." Whatever works.

I left the trio at the Chili Parlor and struck out for the south side of the river, angling through the post office to check for a check. The recent rain made everything damp and dewy, Houston-like. I had to return a couple of quick cell calls while I was rolling down the hill, then I got a sudden urge, and I called up my old neighbor, a die-hard Cowboys fan. Yes, the lad does bleed blue and silver.

I watched the last portion of the game at his new apartment, seeing as how he's moved up from his humble origins. Game was over, Texans beat the odds, and probably started a great big Texas-sized rivalry going. It's going to get ugly.

Sometimes I try to figure a flavor for an afternoon. Too many Pisces not to call it that. Personally, "was just mortified," to quote one of those Pisces.

The 404 file
I get a daily report that walks through the website's stats for the previous 24 hours. Cycles down through my e-mail just about every morning. A long page of statistics is pretty boring stuff.

But there are a few nuggets. I'm winning the war - finally - on 404. The ubiquitous "404 File Not Found" error, I've got that one reduced to just a few instances every day. Better yet, the missing files are graphic components left over from previous iterations of the site's design - the way I understand it, that's a call made from some browser's cache, looking for a file that isn't here anymore.

Means it's your problem, not mine. Code integrity is all-important.

Round a-bout, 6/9/02 12:00 pm, ya'll said:

> Dear Kramer "Bubba" - you know I always trip on calling a guy Bubba -
> something sort of overly-familiar and sweet
> but insulting at the same time -
> not sure I can wrap my northern roots around it but I'll try.

Wrap away. One of my favorite observations is about the country who lives next door to Texas. "Only two good things every came out of Louisiana, food and women."

Which is an even more remarkable statement for me because my first wife was from there - good thing I'm not bitter or anything.

"So you'll come tonight?" my Louisiana neighbor asked, "I've got some Boudin."

Boudin is some sort of Cajun sausage. I liked it even more until I found out it was "blood sausage." C'est la vie, mon cher.

So it was a truly barefoot day, eating boudin and crawfish pies inthe trailer park last night. Really good food.

More ways than one. Looks like we got monster of storm, excuse me, it's \\just\\ a tropical depression. But it will depress me if I can't fish this weekend.

Clowns to the left of me
Joker's to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you....

Twice in the last year, I've heard that song done live. Once was Fat Boy Slim, doing his live set at the Austin Music Hall [thanks, Bubba>. As I recall, but the memory is hazy, that was one of the opening numbers, sampled, no doubt, from its original, Stealer's Wheel, 1973>.

The next time I heard it, it was done by Cory Morrow, a Houston boy, I believe, if I heard the stage banter correctly. He's one of those weird, truly typically Texan acts. Mostly country, partly cowboy, and he performs barefoot. He covered the song in its entirety, unlike Fat Boy sound sample.

While I was mulling over the sorry state of humanity, I was actually feeling rather good. I had a delightful early evening repast over charts with a trio of young ladies, each eager for answers. Always does me right. Plus a Scorpio server, just to make the mix of signs \\interesting\\. I easily cleared a total of seven miles, had a swim in the creek, and showed up for that reading, still damp and worried that I had a leaf or twig sticking in my hair. The surface of the creek was littered with organic debris, but the water itself was clear and cold.

I managed to avoid all the traffic on the roads, fixed another website problem, and then, on that final leg home to Shady Acres, I saw one of those sights that just does me right. Sitting at a bus stop, there was a guy fiddling with the trucks on his skateboard. He had pink Mohawk. Life is good.

Spam problems.
Spam is always a trouble for me. I try to manage a half dozen e-mail accounts, plus I usually leave a backdoor e-mail account on any website I set up, more for the client than myself, just so there's a way in, in the event of tech problems. I was trouble shooting just such a problem last week, and I couldn't, for the life of me, remember the password for that backdoor. So much for being a smart boy.

I got a note from the remote server I use, just as I was about to head out the door to meet clients. Seems that my server has been used by some unscrupulous bulk e-mailer, exploiting a little hole left by the server's software. I had to patch that up right quick like, can't have **my** server punching out bulk triple-X advertising.

With a complex site like this, which is more like layers of sediment, one little patch then creates a whole boatload of other problems, and it was a "quick fix this" and "quick fix that" to patch all the leaky holes.

It's all working again, but not without a few frantic moments on my part. A quick fix is never quick, nor does it address all the problems. But I did hit on an idea.

See: unsolicited bulk e-mail is a business. That means it must make money. I just have to ignore the sexually explicit stuff because it's so far from my realm of thinking, but there are other items that I can do something about.

Norton Utilities is being advertised, I mean, I've gotten dozens of ads for their stuff. I know that Norton is almost a required tool for basic computer maintenance. I use it myself, bought a copy and everything. Duly licensed and registered. Of course, it's not Symantec.com who's sending me the bulk notices. But it is their product.

The company can easily claim that it's someone downstream from them. That's all well and good. But I no longer have to buy Norton. I'm not about to use some bootleg, but I can't support a company that allows unscrupulous advertisers to hawk their wares.

There are other utilities, and until Symantec.com takes some kind of a stand, I'm wondering if I shouldn't just vote with my wallet, and take my business elsewhere.

People are no good.
Ain't nobody's fault but mine. But basically, most people are just no damn good. To be sure, the clues were there, I just missed them, and it's my fault alone. What did I do wrong? I acted like I had a heart. I acted like I cared. I did something nice for someone - **again** - and it backfired. Again. It's only a $100 lesson for me, but it just reminds me that most people are no good.

What happened, and I sure would like to eat me words on this, but as of the time I'm writing this, I'm down and I'm dirty. I feel mean because I was betrayed, yet again.

Deal is this: I got a request for a series of chart reports, and the person requesting the charts asked if mailing a check was okay. Sure, no problem, I just have to wait to send the stuff out until \\after\\ the check clears was my standard response. Check's been mailed, you should have it, and I was hoping to present the other person with the chart reports this coming weekend. To which, I had to reply, no check, no reports. Then, as the weekend got closer, and right before I was logging off to go someplace, I had a brief lapse in my mental condition, and I went ahead and sent the stuff on out over the wire. In fact, I included a little extra, because I like to make sure there's plenty of value. Besides, in a series of relationship reports, it never hurts to have a complete picture of each individual.

I got back in town after being gone for a whole week. No check. I sent query note, the other person said okay, sure, I'll send another check. Still no check. It's been a month now. I seriously doubt it takes that long for a check to get to me. I've had two rounds of eBay auctions close, and all those funds have cleared. But no check from \\wherever\\.

I was walking home, the long way, after dark, and I was thinking about this situation. I'd made a special trip to check to the mail, just because I believe that when someone says two checks have been mailed, that those two checks have been mailed. Must be a problem with the mail or something. The eBay deals, though, that sort of suggests that the mail is getting to me.

So if the problem isn't the post office, then I wonder if a check was every really mailed. Couple of clues, and I was trying to be understanding and all, the person ordering never revealed a real name or address. "I'm afraid to put a credit card on the net." I'm afraid of the dark, too, but I've gotten over it. I rather enjoyed the night air, just a touch cooler than before, the twilight over taking the sky, Venus just marching her way across the night's hues, oh yes, it was good.

But no check. No sign of the first check at all, and now, no second check, either.

I've been had, and that ruins it for a lot of people. This sort of cheating means I have to demand a payment up front. I'm just a little worried that I'm acting in a rash manner, venting my spleen like this, but after waiting almost a month, I'm pretty sure I just been taken.

You know what happens when you take advantage of your astrologer? That sort of behavior invites all kinds of mean, nasty, undesirable events to occur in your own life. Plague of frogs. The fleas of a thousand camels. Parking tickets. The Fish and Game department will check that license you meant to update but didn't get around to - because you were waiting on someone \\who promised to pay you but didn't\\.

People are just no good.

Destination unknown
First, read the reviews ofthis toy. I pulled out of the trailer, after wrestling with Ma Bell and discovering, much to my dismay, I had no phone service on one line.

As I hit the trail, I was either heading for the creek and swim, or the post office, or maybe to get a bite to eat, or perhaps to grab some coffee. But there's a reason why I wasn't sure about my destination, after spending too much time in airplanes and such, I wanted unwind a little and enjoy my hometown for what it is.

Keep Austin Weird. So, I made a command decision at one point in the trail and hit the creek first, shivering in the cold water, and marveling that the creek itself was clear, except for the debris floating on the surface, some of it was organic, some of it was definitely man-made. My hair was still damp by the time I pulled into the post office, wherein I transacted my business then got on about the rest of the afternoon. I stopped at the place that used to be Ruta Maya, ordered up some coffee from a Gemini lad, and ambled on out the door, moving towards downtown, a vague rumble in my belly, demanding food.

Avenue Cafe [Las Manitas> was still open, so I had a plate full of Al Pastor, some frijoles and rice, a couple of tortillas, spiced well enough to make me glad to get back to regular cuisine. Life was good again.

I covered mucho mileage, got in a swim, had some classic TexMex, drank a tub-o-coffee, stopped off at the bank, and called it day. Nice to be home. Oh yeah, had to go and lecture, too. That was fun. I do believe I have that pontification gene.

Cell phones and stupidity
Cell phones might make us stupid?

Traveling light
There's always one last experience that seems to eclipse every other traveling experience. Seeing family that I don't get to see very often or for that matter one cousin I haven't seen in the longest time, and getting a chance to chat and catch up is just amazing.

Then there's always that embarrassing question, too, "What do **you** do for a living?" Like, what's your career? How do you make a bundle of money with which, you're supposed to purchase joy?

First off, I did get to grind a few of my cousins for the fact that we were out late on Saturday night, and I did buy them a round of drinks. A pint of some kind of ale for one, a "Dirty Mother" for another, me? I had water, not being much of a drinking man these days, and I sat back and listened. Observed. **And** I went to church, proforma, de facto, and quid pro quo. Matter of fact, one of the pastors at that church had a message the way I like to hear it delivered. Maybe I should go and be a preacher. Then again, maybe not.

With some family, I danced around the question, others are fully aware of what I do. Personally, I think it's a good hook for the "pontification" gene, and that one pastor's message? What I liked the most was the way it was presented. Told her so. Fortunately, my simple, five-pointed star wasn't visible. Don't want to rock the boat too much, not when I'm trying to be on best behavior.

I was wearing a flannel shirt over a Hank III T-shirt, and by the time I'd finally landed in Austin, I'd shed the flannel. So weird, it was autumn in Aspen, with some trees already going to fall colors. Same for the great Northwest. But here? It's still summer with a vengeance.

So that one weird thing? Austin airport, me, much worse for 12 or more hours in airports, and some guy comes up to me, asks me about Hank III, while we were waiting on baggage to spit out onto the conveyor belt. Then he lets it drop that he's a Sagittarius. I stopped, dug around in my wallet then my carry on, looking for that last business card I had with me.

A single Great [blue? gray?> Heron was standing in the water, right at the very edge of the coastline, Monday morning. First, it was the ferry, looking like it was coming in the room, then it was that heron. Damn bird never moved. He'd curl and uncurl his neck, but he kept standing in one place. Strange.

I'm sure the heron was fishing as I could see is head following various activities under the water, underfoot, for him.

Watched as a roughneck loaded up his lower lip with Copenhagen, at the Port A airport. Made me think of Robert Earl. Also generated a small-town feeling of contentment.

Then, as the fates would decree, I got stuck for an extra day and night in Port A. Not something I planned for, but with the miracles of digital communications, I was able to make new accommodations. Back to the hotel and back to the family. Labor Day in Port A.

Sitting around, waiting, had the best meal thus far. BBQ Grill, tenderloin and fresh King Salmon, "caught in Alaska, a couple of days ago, probably never been frozen...." That was the singular, most important meal, and probably the finest I've had in a long time. Two main ingredients, maybe more, but I only recall rare tenderloin and fresh grilled salmon. And flourless chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream. I think there was some other stuff, but that tenderloin served side-by-side with the King Salmon, was the best.

Describing the ordeal he went through, my one uncle [it was his 50th wedding anniversary>, just to obtain that prime-cut tenderloin and king salmon, "when I saw that tenderloin, all laid out like that, I got sexually aroused, it looked so good." The humor gene strikes again. As good as the meal was, though, it's easy to understand his point.

Sitting around, my cousins were playing a guitar, passing it around, singing old songs, and for all the world, it felt like something that was a little unstuck in time.

Later in the afternoon, my Capricorn uncle sidles up next to me, "Hey, you have an extra set of keys to the rent car, right?"

He'd changed film in his camera, and his baggage was packed, ready to go. Somehow, he'd managed to lock the car keys in the trunk of the car. Much hilarity ensued. It was just one more event to add that special family flavor to the gathering. First my abortive run to the airport then the keys, just one thing after another. All we could do was laugh.

Three of cousins did do an a cappella version of "Happy Anniversary." If nothing else, that explains why I don't sing - they got \\all\\ the musical ability.

I didn't get to ride the ferry boat. I did get to crawl up Hurricane Ridge.

Late Monday night, early Tuesday morning, I was standing on the edge of the Juan de Fuca Straights, looking north to Canada.

I got as far as Houston with fresh blackberry, Logan berry and blue berry stains still on my fingers.

In the Houston Airport, a guy strolled by, wearing a gray felt Stetson, a particularly heinous Hawaiian print shirt, shorts, sandals. It's good to be home to absurdities - or stylistic choices - that I'm comfortable with.

Port Angeles, Washington: & the Pontification Gene
One of my cousins, slightly younger, a lot more Gemini, quite talented, too, had the best quote I heard, when he was addressing a particular family issue that had to do with regional boundaries, "We're hopelessly white."

Which, oddly enough, in deference to his occupation as a singer/songwriter [and quite good at that> leaves a little something to be desired. I just point out, that in the grand scheme, that one cousin got \\all the rhythm, all the talent\\ that would normally be associated with a whole generation.

Lucky guy. He makes his home in the Santa Fe area these days. Either the Northern NM environs welcome you in with open arms, or they slam their doors shut in your face. Me? Except for last week, I just figured Northern NM didn't want too much to do with me. Doesn't mean I can't visit, but I don't think I can hang my hat there.

Port Angeles, though, is a different story. That's about 4 cousins I've got in the area, or from the area, and I like the place just fine. Don't know that I could really hang my hat there, but for a place that's got good proximity to Seattle, as a major national/international hub, and the Olympic National Park in the backyard - literally - it's an easy choice. Great for the summers. Too cold for my tastes when the cold season gets here, but great for a summer vacation - not that anyone's going to ask me too soon.

Which then got us all around to the pontification gene, its roots, its uses, and how it shows up in each generation. Me? We're all \\sure\\ I don't have it. Some of my cousins obviously have it. Better yet, when cornered, one uncle explained, "Yes, you see, it's probably genetic, although, it can be learned behavior and trait as well, there's an inherent knowledge we [family> have, and it's our duty to help those who choose to listen to us, after all, this is for their benefit. We're not preaching...."

Odd points to consider, both uncles have lead Sunday school classes. Sort of undoes the "preaching" quote. I guess the dry delivery and the feminist cousin, that sort of took away from the seriousness of the moment.

Or maybe not. She'd seen my five-pointed star before, and she was wearing some Celtic Knot looking jewelry. I made a comment about her pagan tokens, she looked back at me, "Oh you mean my swastika?"

I always knew she was Feminist Nazi.

It's all family, what're you going to do? In the real world, that one cousin has served more to enlighten my chauvinist ways, probably, that anyone else. Although, I'll bet most the girls in Texas probably shoot better.

Family reunions and such
Family way up here, at the very best, are kinfolks I get to see \\maybe\\ once a year. Vague recollections, life-long memories, half thoughts, and my
Aunt and Uncle, looking back at being married for 50 years. I was standing on the balcony for the hotel I was at, looking at the offending source of noise - it was, I believe they're called "ferry boat' - and for all the early morning confusion, it looked like this one was headed straight towards me. Not something I'm accustomed to seeing at all. Or am I used to hearing foghorn that - I'm not joking - rattles the windows with its volume.

"Are you from the Lone Star State?" [Me thinking, "No, I'm actually from New York, I just wear boots and bolo because it looks good with my eye color."

I will have fun this afternoon, none of the other cousins made it out to church. I was there. I took communion, and you know? The place wasn't struck by lightning. Proof.

Road two -
Airline food.
Wish I could find that site again, {{popup flitefood.jpg flitefood 320x240}}but here's the picture of my delicious in-flight meal service. Four hours on a plane, good thing I read the itinerary and realized I wasn't going to get any kind of meal service. I know that to start out, so that's why I had the Jo's breakfast pastry in the first place, real airline food, though was even more scary.

I've always envied my uncle up here, my cousin, aunt, uncle, they've lived on the north edge of the Olympic National Park for the last - however long - it's been.

We did a short a hike, Ma Wetzel one of her brothers, a cousin, up the hill behind the house. I kept seeing these little bell-shaped flowers I couldn't identify. I kept trying to get a picture, but nothing worked out {{popup mtnbell3.jpg mtnbell3 320x240}}quite right.

It gets weirder every minute of the day. The security guard in Austin looked at my T-shirt, \\Cafe Excalibur - Red Light District - Amsterdam,\\ "That a good place?" Sure. "What is it? Seafood?" No, long pause, coffee? "It's in Houston?"

Then, despite having a connecting flight through SeaTac, on a sunny day in Seattle, I still had to go out and back in the security thing. The guard - a mere pup - took a look at my laptop, "Hey, he's got one of those **hippie** Macintosh computers...." And grinned at me.

Then, I stopped and asked two uniformed officials, one was a cop, one was a sheriff, neither were third-party security, where a particular gate was, you know, the kind used by the small airplanes.

They directed me to the gate, but then laughed, "Is your insurance paid up? Those small planes, you know...."

They were just funning. Everyone in SeaTac was so nice. Almost put the Houston people to shame. Almost. I never did figure out why one traveler was connecting from Boston to Houston to SeaTac, but then, I don't run airlines. Just seems like it's the long way around.

That last update was from the departure lounge at the airport. I'm pleased with the throughput on their wireless network. At least, it's a lot easier too get the airport on time, and bringing my own sweet roll is a lot cheaper than buying airport food at airport prices. Bubba called me while I was waiting a the airport, and I assured him I'd love to lunch, but he'd have to buy a ticket to get in the door where I was. But I assured him that I had nothing but his best interests deep in my heart, to which he responded, "You can try that line on chicks, but I'm not that dumb." Had me laughing into the phone at the airport. Might've been the sweet roll, too. All that sugar, making me giddy.

Road One -
It's been \\one of those mornings\\ already. I had to run to the bank, sort of an unexpected [and gratefully received> deposit to make. And as long as I was at the bank, I jogged up to Jo's for coffee. I couldn't believe that people ventured forth from their domiciles at such an early hour [9:00 AM>.

At Jo's, I snagged some coffee and a fresh cinnamon roll, rolled home, and tossed the roll into the carry-on. Perfect airport food. If I ever find that "airline food" website again, I've got pictures for them. I just had to hjave one last dose of Austin before taking off for weekend with family. Coming back from Jo's, I ran into a guy who was out walking his bird. Guy had a parrot [probably a macaw, really>, and he'd gone for a cup of coffee, and the bird had gone, too. Pretty thing, almost two feet tall, orange and bright blue feathers. This is normal.

Only in Texas - via Amish Tech Support - a heads-up about the new cheerleading squad in Planet Houston.

Then while I was avoiding work, I found an item on an ex-girlfriend's boyfriend's sister-law's blog, talking about their kids, "She took her first step today towards being a teenager, she got a cell phone...." Might've been a cousin of a former lover who's engaged to this guy, and his sister has a brother-in-law, and that's where I found the quote. I couldn't duplicate the link a second time, I have no idea where that was.

Cars, man, that used to tell the men from the boys. Cars. Some kind of a car. Wheels. These days, and I guess it comes earlier, it's that "first cell phone, baby." Or, that first cell phone for my baby boy/girl? I still remember one Gemini I was chatting up, and she said, "I couldn't believe it, my niece is almost ten, and no one's taught her how to shoot yet!" Yes, firearm safety is important.

I didn't set out to make it a long afternoon wandering around town. I had a scare at the post office as I was sending a pocketknife via Priority Mail [insured>. Look: I've received lots of these items via Priority Mail - for years. Best service, no lie. The USPS Priority \\rocks\\ for eBay orders. But the clerk, I did business with him the day before, asked what it was, breakable? "No, it's just pocketknife, smaller than this credit card." He paused, was going to have to check it out, then looked at the line, and I assured him that I've done this many times, both sending and receiving, and it was perfectly legal. \\I don't do anything illegal\\. **Ever**. Except jaywalk, but I have to do something to still feel like rebel.

Meandering along took me into the former Ruta Maya coffee house, now called something else. There was an intriguing menu item, but when I inquired, it wasn't quite what I thought it was, Green Tea Latte. I was hoping it was really a frothed, espresso-style preparation. Nope, just some mix. Never mind, make mine a regular cappuccino. I want nearly boiling water pressured through good ground beans, milk that's been fluffed up with steam, something with some body, and smooth, too.

I was going to go straight home, but I got call about some service and support, and I needed to hit the bank, and that turned me towards South Congress. Been a while since I'd meandered further south than Jo's, so I stopped, got another coffee [served by a Taurus>, then stopped at Guero's while I answered another call on the cell phone, trying to fix a computer. I shrugged into my shirt because I was availing myself of their patio. I could hear it in the background, though, "It's Kramer, I'll bet he's got a drink in one hand and his shirt in the other, walking around downtown half naked." It's well over 90 degrees, you bet I have my shirt off. Anything more than a loincloth is probably overkill. Exactly how practical is suit and tie in this weather? Or maybe that's just \\me\\.

Magnolia isn't much further along, so I made a special trip, had the lunch special, which was my breakfast, or dinner, late in the afternoon. Called it a day.

Airports and points way far north on Friday.

Notice to hotmail account holders
Hotmail has problems? Wednesday afternoon, before I took off for the office, I sent out the weekly horoscopes, all rolled up and ready to fly. Before I ever got out the door, every last hotmail address bounced.

Want to see what it looks like on this end?
\\Addressee unknown Giving up
I'm not going to try again; this message has been in the queue too long.\\

Imagine that message repeated hundreds of times. Over and over.

Must've hit a spam filter. While I deplore the amount of spam I've been getting, and while I'm all for combating the scourge of the net, \\i.e.\\, unsolicited commercial e-mail, I'm tired of hotmail's periodic interruption of my services.

If you're on a hotmail account, then you'll have to sign up again. It's real easy, fill out the form, and we'll hook you up.

But be warned, for some reason, my 2699-word e-mail might bounce. Don't complain to me. This time, it's your mail service. Complain to your mail server that they bounced legitimate mail you requested.

Of course, hotmail is a free service, I don't know how much complaining would be legitimate.

Too bad, too. That last e-mail from me? It was 100% advertising free. No profanity. No promises for a cheaper mortgage, or some seductive secret, or anything titillating. Just horoscopes from a different point of view.

Tech Thursday: Browsers.
Or just one? From c|net, Internet Explorer is #1. Then, closer to home [my home, anyway>, is this review from the UK's Register that suggests Macintosh needs a good browser - it's their conclusion.

Via MeFi, I found some interesting stats that dispute some of the other figures. Can't read the German, but I can read the tables at the bottom.

When I am on the road, using a dialup connection, I tend to stick to Opera because it really is a lot faster on the slow phone lines, at least, it feels that way to me. So, in answer to the unasked question, Mac does have a good browser available.

I am not a painter.
Piet Mondrian [Dutch, 1872-1944>
The Mondrian Exhibit, now at the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth, is well worth the admission. Funny, I used to chase a girl in Ft. Worth and never made it to the museum, but then, she left town, and I'm there a lot. And I finally got to see the museum, too. And I'm not even sure what \\that\\ proves, but I'm sure it proves something about women and Ft. Worth.

The Kimbell's exhibit is called "Mondrian 1892-1914: the Path to Abstraction." Before we go \\any\\ further, let's get a few points cleared up. I know fuck-all about art, modern art, postmodern art, impressionist, perspective, realists, linear, non-linear, whatever they teach them kids over in the Art History Department. Got that? Hate to be crude and vulgar, but I couldn't come up with a better way to express my intimate lack of knowledge about this topic. I couldn't tell an abstraction from a modern from a cubist or a cubicle. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Dada.

I am not a painter. Nor, for that matter am I a studied critic in these circles. I've been to the Louvre, I kind of dig the National Gallery in London, and the last time I was at the new Tate Gallery, I had one of those "art" experiences that shook me up a little. There was a Jackson Pollock painting, about 15 feet long, maybe 20 or 25 feet long, and for the first time - ever - I could understand why - and how - his "dribble" paintings made sense. There was a flow, action, some sense of feeling involved with that one painting. It got up and rocked and rolled right along. No, I didn't "get it," but I did get something, a sense of activity, like a timeline, or like the painting had a plot, sort of. After looking at the painting, I had a sense that my world-view had been enlarged, changed, and I was different for the experience, emotionally richer.

So I saw the sign for the Mondrian Exhibit, and I went back for it. Well worth the trip. After covering something like 600 miles of Texas in an afternoon, going back just to see some stuff ont he walls of dusty museum was no big deal.

The title said, "The Path to Abstraction," and that's what it's about. It starts with his earlier paintings. Some of them are fairly realistic impressions of scenes from the Netherlands. Same trip I saw the new Tate, I also saw Amsterdam for the first time. Pretty cool. We included the art museum there - I think it was Van Gogh. Maybe Picasso. It was one of those guys. Anyway, whichever painter it was, he was a running buddy of Piet Mondrian, and had some influence over the guys life. With the show in Ft. Worth, I was able to see, step-by-step, how the abstraction idea came to work.

First, there's a series of landscapes and other similar images from Amsterdam and the surrounding countryside, windmills, water, farms, water, trees, water, and so forth. Lots of water, and even in his earlier works, Mondrian had a way of making water appear wet, almost fluid, right there on the painting. Get up close, and scrutinize the painting, and you can tell it's just oil paint or crayon or charcoal, but step back, and it looks like the water is moving. I remember one charcoal sketch, out of series of three images of the same farm, done at different times, and even with the limits of burnt charcoal, the water appeared to move. [Around here, charcoal is used as an art form in a completely different way - BBQ.> Throughout the display of the earlier works, often there would be series of different mediums used on nearly identical images. Same setting, different stuff. Almost as if he - as the artist - was trying to refine the image to get to its essence.

The later stuff started with a tree. I got that postcard and sent it to Sagittarius buddy, matter of fact. The tree itself was clearly visible, but the background was a wash of colors, creating the beginning of his steps into abstraction - be my guess.

Influences from Picasso - I think - and cubists were evident later in the exhibit. One painting particularly caught my eye, sort of grey-purple thing with lots of black lines and patchwork colors, and all I could think of was his earlier work with trees. What it looked like to me. The little fine print that went with that one painting was what really got me thinking, see, they art history aficionados had x-rayed the painting, and Mondrian had worked on that canvas for a while, there was a picture underneath it. Obviously, that he'd been doing was trying to get at the very essence of whatever it was he was painting.

By the end of his career, and yes, Ft. Worth owns one of those masterpieces, it's nothing more than a white canvas with black lines, a couple of red squares, and - I think - two yellow squares. There's a similar one of his, I've seen it either at one of the museums of modern art [NY, SF, London, Dallas> or just in picture, but to me, it's a cityscape. Like my "art" experience with the Jackson Pollock, this one image has stayed with me for most of my life.

The picture, that image, the painting, the artwork, captures the feeling of a cityscape in a few lines. The movement, the bustle, the action of an inhabited place. Movement. In a few short squares of color.

I can't even begin to paint like that. I am not a painter.

Tuesday's plan [Caution: slow dip>
1> Get caught up on scopes 2> Post Office, mail off some eBay stuff 3> Barton Spring/Creek for a dunk in the water 4> BBQ 5> Nap

What actually happened. Didn't start out well. Recently, I'd dropped a lot of my Unsolicited Commercial E-mail blocks, and that resulted in a flood of spam. I put a few of the mail blocks back in place, and a couple of the more serious offenders were getting the mail bounced back to them as "undeliverable." Problem being, then they bounce the message back to my server and then my server bounces it back to them, and I suppose it becomes a nasty loop. My problem is that it ties up \\my\\ mail gateway. Slows down that instantaneous mail delivery that I get used.

So spam screwed up the morning, then wandering around Texas close to noon, I was just melting from the heat. And there was a huge line of people at the post office. Me, smelling like salted pork in the barnyard, and guess what? Some babe is standing next to me. Forget trying to make a good impression.

The postal guy joked with me about the names of places in Texas, and he allowed as his dad's friend used to own a place called "Pete's" in... never mind, long story.

I did go the creek and the water was down a little, but it was so strange, it was the clearest I've seen it in over two months. Dripping wet, reeking of creek water, I wandered into Green Mesquite and had myself the Tuesday Special, two-meat plate. I was about to pay up and leave when I noticed familiar figure at the counter, "Kramer! How are you!" [Leo> So I bought her a beer and we agreed to get together sometime next week - she \\owes\\ me a big favor, and I finally get to collect [truth is, I'd forgotten all about it>.

Now, I was feeling much better, she offered me a ride back to my place, but I demurred, and walked over towards Jo's for some afternoon coffee. Problem being, between Green Mesquite and Jo's is Sandy's, and I wound up with a Vanilla custard cone dripping down my chin - but it sure was good, and I deserved a little something [87 cents> for my efforts.

My favorite barista was available to make me an afternoon coffee, and that just made the afternoon seem a little sweeter. Follow some of the tastiest pork ribs ever with a vanilla cone and some of the sweetest, smoothest espresso ever, and it just makes for a good day.

The best cook at that Green Mesquite is an Aries, the girl I ran into was a Leo, and the barista is Sagittarius. All fire.

WiFi and __Much Ado__ quote
"He swore a thing to me on Monday night, which he foreswore on Tuesday morning." Shakespeare's \\Much Ado About Nothing\\ [V.i.164>

Traveling around, I've recently discovered the joys of WiFi - 802.11 - net access. It can be very, very fast. It can be quite handy. Unfortunately, it's become a commodity now, not something done for the greater good of us road warrior types.


802.11 blog


I'm afraid I'm a true net person these days. Along about Wichita Falls, I hit the eject button on the little hybrid car's CD player and tuned into a Ft. Worth country station I've grown accustomed to. It's not like it's a really good station, but their play list does have a wealth of Texas artists, and the ads are for places like Billy Bob's [legendary honky-tonk of epic proportions>. I heard a version of song - Hank Snow's \\I've been everywhere, man\\ - done by, I was guessing and the stupid DJ didn't **list** the artist - but it sure did sound like Joe Ely. Heard it again, and it's got a kicker, see, it's the same tune, but the lyrical refrain is \\just towns in Texas\\. I've been through most of them. Had coffee in some, chicken fried in others.

So I did a quick net search, trying to get the album title, so I could rumble off to the store and pick it up. No luck. \\It's not a Joe Ely tune\\. But it **is** a Brian Burns song, done up nicely, and available at Texas Music Roundup.

Forgive me, for I have paid retail. But that will make just an excellent source for much new material. Plus, it's a list of places I've been to, or will be going to soon.

I posted the entry about the Hybrid car, and I forgot the best part. I filled its tank in Tucumcari. I drove, from the math in my head, based on the odometer, 600 miles. I still had almost a quarter of tank of gas when I hit Dallas, to deliver the car. When I filled it up again, it took a little over ten gallons. Sure, it \\looks\\ like a compact, but even with its two engines, gas and electric, the car is surprisingly roomy inside with good ergonomics. Maybe not winning any style contests, but then, I've never been known as a fashion consultant myself. Maybe I'll try to drive it from one border of Texas to another sometime.

Hybrid cars
I'm really enjoying this little Toyota Hybrid Prius [?> - don't ask me about make and model numbers, unless you're inquiring about certain topics that I know - usually in an intimate way. Certain marquees of European motorcycles, early 1970's Lincoln's, Ford's 300 cubic inch inline six, like I said, unless the inquiry fits in that narrow realm, I'm pretty much useless. It's a car or it's a truck, and it's got wheels, probably has a motor someplace. Ignition, accelerator, brakes. Gas tank.

I filled the car up just outside of Tucumcari, NM. Spinning into the rising sun, pointed east. I stopped at Midpoint, then Cadillac Ranch, then the Amarillo tourist information site, seeking directions to the Adobe Walls historical site. I trucked around in Amarillo, sort of looking for coffee, but then, sort of just drifting along, and finally I rolled on out to the highway, and back towards East Texas.

It wasn't too much further south and east of Amarillo that I hit {{popup goodnite.jpg goodnite 320x240}}Goodnight, so named for the ranch and cattle baron, but sadly from the highway, these days, not much more than a historical plaque and sign.

I've driven this route numerous times, but it's been almost ten years since I was last along this way. Not being bullied for time, no pressure to be anyplace at an appointed hour, I was able to finally do things like stop in Memphis, tour around the fading town square, and what originally caught my eye was the hardware store. No, they didn't have what I was looking for, but I did get a chance to chat with the owner, been a hot one this summer, at least up there. And the rain did save the day, but the town itself was losing all their young people to places where they could find work.

It was that same old tale, slowly dying town. Not much farther along the road, I stopped in Childress, at a donut shop. I was too late for lunch, and even my charm couldn't wing a sandwich out of the girls. But I did get a shake and a donut. Over in the center of the place's "dining room," such as it was, there was a round table with a half dozen elderly gentlemen, holding forth in the finest, time-honored tradition. For that one town, the afternoon gathering spot had changed from the DQ to the donut palace. I wonder if this an influence from the classics like Homer?

Cadillac Ranch
I got to thinking - time on the road gives me time to mull over certain aspects of my life - and I realized that I've just about covered all of Texas this year. January, El Paso. February, Corpus Christi & Bossier City, LA. March - back to El Paso. That's NE, South, Far West, and then, in August, back down through NE NM and into the Panhandle. I was meaning to include the Cadillac Ranch, just never managed to stop. From Interstate 40, on the western edge of Amarillo, this is what it looks {{popup cranchover.jpg cranchover 320x240}}like.

The story, in case \\in case you live in a cave and have never been exposed to Texas oddities\\, Stanley Marsh III "planted" a dozen Cadillacs in the ground, "fins up" [predates Jimmy Buffett's song "Fins" though> {{popup cranch5.jpg cranch5 320x240}}like this, as typical Texas garden project, a few steps off the road in Amarillo.

{{popup cranch9.jpg cranch9 320x240}}Bizarre sight. Strange site.

Just stopping and looking, or taking pictures, that doesn't really quite cover it all. There's more. I loitered there for a while, my handy Visor Cam working overtime in the summer heat, me, meandering an around the resting, rusting hulks. I did stop and casually converse with several groups of people. No one - except me - was from Texas. Although, I suspect the guys working the field nearby were local.

New Jersey, Boston, NY, Canada, and a handful of bikers from NM, that's all I ran into. No Texans. Curious. Two groups I talked with seemed to be fairly young, maybe late teens or so, doing their first "cross-country" trip. Coast to coast. While I was wondering about motivation for such a journey, one of the pairs [Cancer-Aries>, pointed out a particular piece of graffiti, a {{popup cranchjack.jpg cranchjack 320x240}}quote from Mr. __On the Road__.

I kept trying to hop on and off the main highway because I was hoping to find another treasure trove of some kind. Maybe old books, maybe old pocketknives, maybe something that was collectible, or maybe something that was just interesting to me.

In Tucumcari, I stumbled into the most incredible deal for a motel, a place that was $19.95 [plus lots of state tax> for a night. Considering the places I've stayed before, I thought this was a quite a deal. Overlook the dubious sanitation, or the name on the motel phone, obviously a second-hand deal, and it was okay for a weary night. Not the best linen, but it was clean, if slightly scratchy from starch and chlorine. Not the best room, but with the AC fan on, I couldn't hear the highway noise. Not the best bathroom, but as long as I didn't touch anything, I felt safe.

I gassed up the hybrid Toyota vehicle [Pa Wetzel's toy car>, just as the sun was rising, and just as I was headed into Texas. I put on some Hank III [first album on Curb Records>, and rolled on to I-40, aiming for Amarillo. "Listen to the Opry in a small cafe, when you stop to get a bite along the way, whenever I hear the wheels being to whine, it takes me back to another time." [Thunderstorms and Neon Signs by Butch Hancock, on Hank III's \\Risin' Outlaw\\>. Passing the Texas border on I-40, I turned off on Historic Route 66, following my intuition. A decrepit {{popup cafenonneon.jpg cafenonneon}}sign suggested a cafe - in perfect tune with the road and the Hank III song.

Two girls run the place, an Aries and a Capricorn [gratefully, that Cap didn't have red hair>. Breakfast was good, bacon, eggs, toast done right [on the griddle but dry>. Perfect ambiance. Then, the girls started chatting.

It's that familiar, "Are you a musician?" question and answer game. No, I've never been on Austin City Limits. Just once, I want to hear about a guitar slinger who gets asked if he writes horoscopes for the web. Just once. Is that too much to ask for?

They were arranging the furniture, the Lion's club had just been in, and a group of cowboys [real guys who ride horses and work on a ranch, not urban or computer variety> were headed in for lunch. The {{popup midpoint.jpg}}cafe is located at the geographical center of Route 66.

It was just the coolest place in the world. Thee was a small gift shop, full of the usual trinkets, but there was also something different and even more special about the place. It was old and new. It was a historic location, and it has seen better days, but it's in loving hands now. Recent thunderstorms left the prairie lush and green, almost feeling soft.

Then there's that West Texas hospitality, the gregarious and open feeling that everyone's your friend. No pretensions. Life's too hard and too close to the edge up yonder in the Panhandle. There's sky, lots of sky. That morning, a few clouds drifted by, it was raining someplace. Looked like moisture blown up from the Gulf.

It's a little cafe, in the middle of nowhere [55 miles or so west of Amarillo>. I lingered for an hour or more, right at the western edge of Texas, listening to the stories about the lives, the loves, the lies, the tales from that portion of the country. Really a good place to stop. Highly recommended. Good people. Food's good, too, not that it matters as the company and conversation really sparkle. It's located out there on the edge of nothing, the western terminus for Texas' Route 66, just off Interstate 40 - the \\geographic\\ middle of the Mother Road. But there's nothing average about the place or the people.

NM Signs
I've already had one run-in with the NM State road police [\\c.f.\\, Cloudcroft> this year. I didn't want another, but I kept passing these huge piles of road construction [paving> material. With a {{popup nmsignage.jpg}}curious note stuck in each one. So the question is, besides myself, crawling up to get a good picture, who would want to disturb these piles of dirt?

Music of the road
I had been dreadfully worried that I was going to repeat my mistake from previous cross-country sojourns by not having enough canned music for my road trip. Late nights in Austin, I spent some time collating, and trying to put together tracks for the trek. Imagine some YES, backed to back with ELP, then topped off with Chemical Brothers live [Muisc: Response>. Sort of strange as it's tunes that are separated by close to three decades.

I slipped that one CD in, as I turned off the Interstate in NE NM, just south of the Raton Pass, still skirting the edge of the {{popup elkcross1.jpg elkcross1}}mountains, with the dusk light flowing down over the mountains, giving a light blue and purple tint to the mountains behind me.

I try to live my life so I have no regrets. I did have one, just east of some little town out there, I saw some sort of a walker, making time - on foot - grey hair, ponytail, stout walking shoes, a pair of trekking poles, a small backpack, and that guy was making serious time. In the middle of nowhere, along the edge of the highway. I should've stopped and chatted with him. But at that point, I was headed east, south, some direction, and I wasn't sure my noisome interruption would've been welcome. But I was curious, and in my mind, I made up stories. I figured he was one of the world famous backpacker guys, and he was doing some sort of a cross-country trek. I don't know, maybe something will show up in the news later.

It was much farther down that road, I just figured I was at the edge of the prairies, the beginning of the Great Plains, when the highway dropped out from underneath me. The highway dropped into a canyon, a ravine, a gully, a wash - an arroyo. A big one. I'm not sure, but it felt like it dropped a hefty amount of elevation, maybe a 800-1,000 feet? Steep grade, dangerous curves, the late summer's evening light wan and the growing dusk scattering purple edges to the rocks.

When I finally came out the other end of the canyon, I realized I had been in the majesty, myth, and magic of "the staked plains" the "Llano Estacado" [or whatever it's called>.

I pulled over again, the dirt by the side of the road was ocher, red, purple, even faintly blue in places, or teal. The alternating musical tracks were perfect. A full moon was shrouded by a smattering of cloud cover but glowing brightly, right over the road I was supposed to follow.

Covering ground
From Aspen to the Denver airport, drop the parental units off, then skate south along the front range of the Rockies, drop down into New Mexico, then veer off the interstate, and clip the top NE corner of NM.

Coming down {{popup nmwindmill1.jpg nmwindmill1 320x240}} the two lane, I came across a few sights that can't be equaled, no place else in the world. I kept stopping to take pictures, and the two trucks that I kept crossing paths with must've been a little curious about whatever it was that I was doing. More soon. Hopefully, I'll make Amarillo by morning.

Woody Creek
I think my parents don't really get the importance, the literary value of Woody Creek Tavern. Wasn't lost on me, though. I reveled {{popup uspswc.jpg uspswc 320x240}}in where I was, to me, a literary milestone of some sort.

Actually, it's just another seedy dive where the "lunch special" costs too much. {{popup woodcreek.jpg woodcreek 320x240}}But fun place, nonetheless.

Rules of the road, Weather and WiFi
The jumper from Denver to Aspen was delayed due to weather, and I couldn't understand why passengers kept going up to the counter to complain. Imagine that, the Eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, and there were thunderstorms booming done out of the foothills? I've traveled around the [North> American Southwest most of my life. Summer weather is unpredictable. Period. Way it is. Get used to it. Astrology is a lot more predictable.

I don't get it, why folks complain because of delays, you know, it's the weather. And there's the safety question, too, the little commuter jet was stuck on the runway because of the threat of lightning, none of the ramp rats were allowed out until the threat passed. Can't be having fried baggage handlers, that for sure.

The idea of the crews' safety didn't translate to the departure lounge. Most of those folk - not me - were more worried about when they could hurry up and get to Aspen.

Couple of guidelines for traveling, especially air travel these days. Show up early. Make allowances for delays at the security check point. You will be searched, \\especially\\ if you're innocent. Carry reading material. Not just one book, but a lot of stuff. I like pseudo-literary, pompous-sounding magazines that I can abandon along the way, hopefully to impress - or enlighten - other stranded travelers. Those are good for short-attention span situations, like standing in line someplace. But also always carry at least one book. I think - not sure - but I think it's an FAA mandate to have at least one Clancy novel with you when traveling. Or maybe it's a Daniel Steele, I can't recall.

Personally, I'd suggest the Clancy novel as required reading. I've avoided that author and genre until a fishing buddy foisted a Clancy novel on me, and you know what? It wasn't bad. In fact, it was good enough that I was looking for it in paperback, along the airport route. I had started reading one of those 30-pound behemoth hardback copy, and I was certainly not toting that all around the Louisiana Purchase. Travel light, another rule.

First in Austin, then in Denver, I idly experimented with the airport's 802.11 network. Now that was cool. In Denver, I kept shutting down my laptop only to fire it back up one more time because I had complete, free, wireless, net access. It was so cool. Fast, too. Faster than the access protocol in Austin's airport. And Denver? Fewer problems. Carrying a notebook with a good battery life is also important, I would guess.

Those road rules, so far:
Weather will be wrong, be prepared.
Reading material. Book, magazines, important stuff, fluff, need a little of all. Make sure you have the FAA mandated book, as well.
Travel light.
Charge the laptop's battery and the cell phone's battery before you leave.
Be polite to the folks who work there.

Traveling light
Packing up to leave, I was wondering how much of this applied to me?

Hanging out with Pa Wetzel is always good for me because - as I've gotten older - I've learned the value of his point of view. While I disagree on a few matters of politics, like his staunchly Republican stance on a number of issues, or his age-induced dystopic, slightly myopic vision, I still appreciate some of his observations and predictions.

Pisces: the other white meat.
Best T-shirt? "Chicks dig scrawny pale guys." Not as good as this T-shirt [hit the "zoom" to read it - check what it says>. I can always hope. Sign on a Lutheran church, on the way to catfish dinner - after the show - with a Pisces, meeting another Pisces [and Mac - Capricorn - the Aura Camera Guru>: "Don't go so fast that you miss a miracle."

Best slogan? "Our live bait catches fish - or does trying."

I worked a lot for a little on Sunday. I'm tired. I'm getting on an early afternoon flight and I'm out of here for a few days. Will go to Colorado and put my feet up for day or two. Then it's a long drive back to Dallas.

I placed my sweet Pisces friend [blue eyes, blond hair> next Mac at the dinner table. Just to watch that boy "do his stuff."

After dinner, in the car on the way home, I was listening to the sweet Pisces talk about all of Mac's advances, how Mac used the same lines, the same time, last year, the year before that, and so it seems, once upon a time before the Pisces knew I was me.

"He doesn't remember me. It's so funny, every time, he just doesn't remember...."

Isn't it nice to know you can count on a Capricorn to do the same thing over and over?

One particular Pisces picked me up Saturday morning. Another joined us at for dinner. That's a lot of Pisces.

Now, after sitting in a hotel conference room doing readings and shooting the breeze with friends, and after I got done with it all, the before show Pisces and the after show Pisces, I begged to be let off at Threadgill's so I could stretch my legs out, if only by a little, just to shake the day off my psyche.

I was walking past Sandy's, thinking I should get some custard [frozen ice cream mix> when one of my neighbor's was waving at me. She just bought a new car, wanted to know if I "wanted to go for a ride," and the implied meaning was fraught with sexual tension, "help me break it in?"

Maybe it was the static electricity in the air. Might have been her long, flowing blond locks, or the shapely curve she was exhibiting, a radiant "new car" glow, or the fascinating color of her eyes.

It was like the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, I could just feel the crackling in my spine, the unsaid words, lingering the summer night's air, "Want to take a ride in my new car?"

I looked at the car, more a mini-van, I would guess, thanked her, and said I really needed to stretch my legs out. Thanks but no thanks.

I was exhausted, tired, worn out, and otherwise just wanting to stretch myself out. Besides, that new car driver? Pisces. Anyway, it's one of my keys to successful living, cardinal rules, something worthy of note, points on protocol: never, ever sleep with someone who lives in the same trailer park as you do.

Off to work - Friday's five
1> "I hate my family." (Virgo)
2> "I want your life." (Virgo)
3> "You'd never guess, but I'm pregnant again." (Aries) [Wasn't me, \\that much\\ **is for sure**.>
4> "Walking along without a shirt on? Getting tan all over?" (Pisces)
5> "I'm glad I look so good on my driver's license picture." (Sagittarius)

I reversed my afternoon walk, after a successfully unsuccessful morning. Tons of e-mail was lined up, answered some, gave up, looked outside, decided that's where I needed to be. I've been struggling with one particular description of a sign, and I never did succeed with that one, but I did turn out some other stuff I was proud of. Comfortable with, anyway. So I'm still trying to get a handle on this one sign, trying to figure a new way to present old material. It's the challenge, write something new about something that's old.

So off I went towards Barton Springs Pool under an indifferent sky, sometimes cloudy, sometimes sunny, and got in a quick dip and swim, then backtracked up to the post office, downtown. Along the way, some girl waved at me from the front of a red VW bug. I have no idea who it was, maybe just a friendly stranger. Then, I figured I would stop by Ruta Maya, only the place has changed again, at least, it has a new name. It was right before I went into the coffee house that I ran into that Pisces girl, #4. I can't remember her name, nor, could I even remember where she worked. However, the way my brain works, I can tell you where her Sun and Moon [plus some other placements> in her chart are.

I shrugged on my shirt long enough to chat with someone in the coffee place and note the name change, then it was back about my business. I was disappointed to hear that the bulk tapes I buy might no longer be available in format that I'm used to, my special, 20-minute tapes apparently are no longer stocked. Guess I was the only person buying that length [instead of 15 minutes>. Guess that was the sign for the day.

I phoned one of my buddies, and at the end of the conversation - in which a number of points were discussed and issues resolved - in less than two minutes - to ring off the phone, he said, "Later dude," to which I responded, "Ciao."

That is just so wrong, on my part, on so many different levels. When addressing someone who can easily be called "Bubba," and I mean that as a term of manly endearment amongst manly men, using a colloquial expression like "ciao" \\just doesn't fit\\.

After I hung up, I thought about it for a minute, grinned and laughed. To be honest, I had every reason to be a little lightheaded. I walked over Barton Creek, went for a swim, walked to Jo's, had a muffin and a tall coffee, and then made my way back home.

After a dunk in the creek's cold-as-can-be water, and after watching some really young kids cavorting in the water - apparently, with a running start, you can do a really neat cannonball into that portion of the creek - I was in the epiphany mode. Looking for signs in the everyday events. It was also quite cool-like. Hard to believe it was this nice on a summer's afternoon in August, barely broke a sweat, don't think it got much above 90, and with a few clouds scudding by, the hint of a threat of rain, I was doing fine. Better than fine.

I thought about it, and afterwards, I was quite happy, as I'd made it a whole day with having to change more than once, and never having to wear a shirt.

It's no wonder most of my close friends consider me a little weird, even at the best of times.

Kinetic Robotic Android Manufactured for Exploration and Repair

Business models [sorry, no pictures>
"We must get our costs down in order to compete, and must focus on the products our customers want and are willing to pay for," chairman and chief executive Donald J. Carty said. [on YAHOO - originally picked up from Pud's site>

I think that's a blindingly obvious statement. Folks in corporate communications get paid to write this type of press release? Running a small business, close to the bone, I **have** to keep an eye on costs. Even something as simple as managing the network access in the office, such as it is, to the point of fruitlessly arguing with the cable company about something like the price of the cable modem access. The salesman told me $39.95/month. In fact, I dug out their work order. Right there, handwritten in by the "sales associate". But the bill came in at $44.95. $5/month, that's $60/year. Yes, I got screwed, and the 'customer care' line is useless. It's still cheaper and much faster than Bell's DSL, which I used before that cable salesman **lied** to me. But the product, //i.e.//, net access, is cheaper and better than the alternative, which is DSL through any of a number of providers.

RunTex has a cute truck set up on the hike and bike trail, I've been passing it almost daily these days. Since RunTex is a \\runner's store\\, I have no intention whatsoever of shopping there. Still, I'm willing to drink their branded beverages [Powerade by the taste and the stickers on the coolers, Gatorade by the disposable cups>, and I've gotten quite used to have this free service available. Almost to the point of depending on it. If I stop at a convenience store, that beverage would cost me a buck or more.

If their truck wasn't there, I'd drink from the water fountain. If the truck wasn't there, I might not loop back toward First Street, too. Or do the east side, like I did Wednesday afternoon. But it's a runner's store, and I'm a walker, and I have no intention of buying any fancy running shoes, or those little running shorts with no pockets. But I'll sure as can be stop and avail myself of their free beverages. I'm sure they have some kind of co-branding, co-marketing thing set up with the leaders of the sports beverage industry [read the ingredients, it's still just sugar and water>.

Retail is a form of purgatory, one thin slice above the food service industry, in my mind. "Bless their souls who serve us." And tip big - they deserve it for putting up with seemingly obnoxious attitude, "What's your birthday?" I think Dante left that out, but it should be added to his \\Inferno\\.

I've commented before, and I'll reiterate that thought, the RunTex truck is excellent advertising. It isn’t going to sell me anything, but it will get mentioned in the scopes, and that sort of publicity can't be bought. Their stores have products that customers are willing to pay for. At a price that customers are willing to pay. It's been years since I was in there with a girlfriend, shopping for shoes. I think the least expensive pair she bought was around $100. After sweatshop labor and Austin's expensive real estate overhead, I wonder what the store's real margin was.

Let's say I wandered into one of the RunTex stores, one of the first items out of my mouth would be about their water truck, and how cool it was. But if I just wander in and don't buy anything? What's the point? Remember, according to American Airlines, "...must focus on the products our customers want and are willing to pay for..."

So I still haven't resolved my issue with the cable company, but the service is good enough that I'll probably stick with them. Better throughput. Cheaper. They have the competitive advantage - even if the salesman lied, and the help desk wasn't helpful at all.

The horoscopes are free. Questions are free. Delivering answers via e-mail? Or in person? Remember, I still have a trailer in South Austin that needs its rent money.

Road tripping
"Part of the trick of being happy is a refusal to allow oneself to become too nostalgic for the heady triumphs of one's youth."
Larry McMurtry in his book, \\Roads\\ [NY: Simon & Schuster, 2000. page 165>

I ran across that quote a couple of nights ago, judging from the page number, it's easy to guess where I was in the book. It's a slim little text, but the writing is top-quality. Interesting images, juxtapositions between the roads taken and what memories a road will trigger.

It's eBay time again!

Pocketknives #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, fake pearl, #7, #8, Copperlock, and a Ten Dot.

That's a lot of pocketknives, and it's not really the good stuff. I've still got another knife roll of good hardware, I was going to wait until I finally got the hang of what I was doing to launch the last of it. Had me a mighty fine plate of bait with the Pisces Tuesday evening. And for one, shining moment, during the middle of the day, I had one of those visions that everything is okay. Nothing was out of place in my world. The weather has been very agreeable, especially for an August in Texas, where it almost feels cool out because it's not poking over hundred. It was almost cool enough to think about having a cup of Jo's in the afternoon, but not quite. The ice tea won out. Quick dip in a neighbor's pool, a little stroll, no cell phone in hand, no beeper, nothing pressing. It's the good life.

I was thinking about that quote from "Roads" because I was burning up a pile of CD's to carry with me. For some strange reason, I'm looking forward to the high road this next time, down through Amarillo.

Playing with all those CD's got me thinking about artwork. Why is no one laments the passing of the "album cover" as a form of artistic expression? A CD jewel case just doesn't do justice to the colors and the display the old album covers had. Of course, I couldn't throw a dozen 12-inch vinyl disks into the trunk of a car and have the media survive. I was ripping a 1973 album, going back to back with Prodigy, and the artwork on that one CD cover, it was just ever so much more inspiring when it was one square foot.

Feast Day of St. Cassian Patron Saint of teachers
But I'm not sure what the point is that I'm trying to teach. Or be taught. Other than I need to make sure I have the right ticket in hand when I go the airport. That much I do know. Or that maybe I should write down my new post office box number in a place where I won't forget it.

When I packed up for the El Paso trip, I had a sneaking suspicion that I'd left one of my pocketknives in the suitcase someplace. Last Saturday morning, in my haste, I completely forgot about that knife. I had, earlier, looked for it, and I had been unable to find it, buried in there with batteries and empty cassettes, flyers, business cards, batteries, power adaptors, extension cords, all that crap I carry when I work.

Sunday morning, as I was throwing everything back in the bag, waiting on a ride to the truck stop, I found that knife. Understand that I was frantic, and breathing easy because when I approached the metal detector at the security gate, I knew that I had an ankle chain, a very thin chain around my neck, and no other metal on me whatsoever. And I knew that my computer bag had just that, a computer and not much else. Plus, I knew that my suitcase had just show stuff and a change of clothes. I breezed right through, and walked onto the plane with the right coupon, with at least three or four minutes to spare.

I remember talking to some other passengers who were complaining about being searched a second time, "How do they pick the folks for the second search? Is it really arbitrary?"

I allowed as how I had one observation, the folks who gave the counter staff any lip or bad attitude always seemed to be searched a second time. Be nice. Being nice takes a lot less effort than being mean. Usually works for me.

Worked, by accident, on Saturday morning. I suppose that's my good karma from always trying to be early.

So Monday afternoon, I was standing in the downtown postal annex, trying to figure out which P.O. box was mine. I knew the four digits, I just couldn't remember the proper order. I knew there was a 4, 5, 1, & 6, but I couldn't remember the correct order. I tried several boxes until I finally did hit the right combination. I wasn't expecting anything in it, I mean, I've had this new box number for all of about a week now. But Monday was one of those days when my butt was dragging in the dirt, and I figured I'd better try the new box, just to see if I could remember its number. From downtown, I swung on home via Barton Creek. Ran into a [non-redhead> Capricorn on the trail. Exchanged gossip. Got wet with creek water. Came home to meet another Capricorn and Libra. Busy day, considering I wasn't doing anything.

If that patron saint is going to teach me anything, I hope I remember what my new box number is. I had some other point to make, but I forgot what it was.

Kramer Wetzel
P.O.Box 684516
Austin, TX 78768-4516

Flying Low
Imaginations run rampant about some of my actions and behaviors. "Kramer, I recommended this lady to you, now don't flirt too much, okay?" Or, "Kramer, what did you \\do\\ last night?" That question is usually asked with a leer and a knowing nod.

So, in honor of the questions, I was going to make up a story about how it was me and some three-way action, you know, that wild life us astrologers have out on the road. Come on, Saturday morning turned from good to god-awful in no time, walking out the door without the proper coupon. Yes, as far as I'm concerned, Saturday morning was terrible. Nobody's fault but mine, too. Can't blame the cat, the girlfriends, the drivers, the airline, "Nobody's fault but mine."

Several times I looked up on Saturday afternoon, and the place was packed. And yet I did a pitiful low number of readings. With the day's bottom line sorely affected by my cab expenses, I wasn't happy.

Solace can often be found in food. Of course, there are two favorites I have in El Paso, the truck stop and Forti's. Saturday night, I took off with two Aries girls, and had one of the most relaxing and pleasant evenings ever. Just nice to sit outside on the patio, listening to the train whistle, enjoying mole, soaking in the atmosphere. The mariachi guys came out and played "Rancho Grande," apparently some familiar tune. I'm pretty sure I've heard it before. They weren't good musicians, the rhythm guy didn't even know the words, the voices were off, and the whole ensemble lacked coherence. Yet, there was a passion evident in the song and the music. Amazing stuff.

Back to the hotel. A little three-way action, like I promised. TV, e-mail, sleep. That's three items right? Three-way action. Yeah, it's that wild life on the road.

Sunday, off to the truck stop again. Then, sit down, start reading, and don't stop until late in the afternoon. That's more like it.

On the plane back, I rather lucky. Interesting and diverse group sitting the hot tub. I used drink coupons and bought a round. Virgo, Capricorn, Aries, Cancer, Taurus. Whew. Cookies and much discussion about local food. Got some hot tips about places to eat in El Paso, new stuff to try. I watched as several of the couples started to discuss certain restaurants with animated glee. Equally amusing was the way they pointed out the paucity of decent hot food in Austin. "Tex-Mex" was not popular. Folks \\knew\\ their food, that was for sure. And the next time I'm in El Paso, I've got long list of places to go.

Tickets and such
Got off to the airport on time. Got to the airport, looked at the baggage check line, and I went on inside, curbside would take too long. Stood in line, got to the head of the line, fondled my ticket, realized I didn't have the right coupon with me [always save those frequent flyer tickets for business trips>, and dashed out to catch a cab back to Shady Acres.

This wasn't a good sign. Second time this has happened, on the very same flight, the early Saturday morning flight to El Paso. I've got a stack of airline tickets sitting there on my desk, the right coupon was buried under a ticket to Aspen.

I would take this as a "not good sign." In the cab to and from the airport - right, try finding a friend before six AM on a Saturday morning to do this - I realized I spent almost as much on cab fare Saturday morning as I would've spent on airfare. All that for a free ticket.

From Friday night I had an unrecorded observation, see, Dale Watson's crowd is one of those typically "diverse" Austin crowds, a little redneck, a little hippie, a little whatever. Guys with ponytails, though, as a rule, there can certainly be exceptions, but the guys with the ponytails usually couldn't dance. At all. They'd get out, take two tentative steps, and then stop. The whole idea of dancing had a Baptist appeal to these guys. Saw it happen more than once. Me? My hair wasn't back in ponytail. I still can't dance, but that never stopped me from having fun.

Springs. Spoke. Latin quote.
[title brought to you by Bubba's Baits and "Home of Cheap Haiku">
"Utere lactucis et mollibus utere malvis: nam faciem durum, Phoebe, cacantis habes."
[Martial Epigrams, volume 1, book III, #89>

Long day, long night. Went to the Springs [Barton>, went to the Spoke [Broken>, El Paso Red Eye and work.

Look: these are ONLY events that occur in my life -
One of my little Gemini friends says, "Let's get together." I said sure, let's go to the lake. She shows up in jeans and work shirt, with her dog, and we drive on over to Barton Springs, hang around in the water for a while, the dog chases the stick, typical stuff. Only, under the jeans, she's got on a bikini. Not any bikini, and for the more prurient-minded, not a string bikini. Or thong. None of that. But it was "Stars and Bars" patterned. For the illiterate, "stars and bars" means Confederate Flag.

Except, see, she's a hippie chick. You know, lights up incense whenever she hops in her van, takes her dog everywhere, "peace, man" sort of thing.

She left to go shopping for dog food, I cleaned up and headed over to the Spoke for chicken fried steak, then Dale Watson playing his excellent music. While I was on the dance floor, I noticed another dancer. Fairly typical, older gentleman, you know, pressed jeans, boots, belt buckle the size of license plate, cowboy hat, and, a Hawaiian print shirt. Not \\that\\ unusual. But the print was obviously cannabis leaves.

Tie together country music and Shakespeare?
One of the most critically acclaimed versions of Shakespeare's \\Richard III\\ was done starring Ian McKellen, first on stage, and later as a movie. I did see it on stage, at the National, in London, close to a dozen years ago. I still remember bits and pieces from it, not quite the whole thing, other than it was an amazing performance. There was a scene in Act II that's stuck with me ever since. I don't think R3 was portrayed as a nice guy, that's for sure.

If one were to doubt the power of the media, consider that Richard III was unearthed, and from his skeletal remains, no "hunchback" was in evidence. Or so the story goes. Yet the myth persists, thanks to this one play. But that's just a sidebar history note. Check with the Richard the Third Society for details.

R3 is not unlike Kenneth Branagh's \\Love's Labor's Lost\\, another interpreted piece. In McKellen's \\R3\\, the setting has distinct Fascist overtones with jackbooted thugs, and an artistic sense that it's a certain Germanic Republic of the not too distant past. Hint of Hitler, maybe?

Purists in the theater arena are appalled when one of Shakespeare's plays is done in anything but strictest Elizabethan Theatre standards. But I've enjoyed a number of the plays done well, and done well out of the limits of the conventional staging.

As I recall, \\Love's Labor's Lost\\ is an uneven play. Mostly it's a collection of Shakespeare love sonnets strung together as a play. Mostly comedy. Seen it on stage, and in the movie theater. That relatively recent film adaptation was good because it added some value-added "artistic direction" necessary to spin an interesting angle to the tale. Branagh choose to set it in the early portion of the last century [we can say that now, it's 2K2, right?> on the eve of WWII. Made for good sets, good costumes, and the story, such as it is, was actually helped along by the history.

I saw, almost back to back, two very different versions of \\Troilus and Cressida\\ by the RSC. One was experimental, staged as a gangland war whereas the other performance was more traditional, opting for a straight up Trojan War setting. [That one had Mr. English Patient as the lead, too. I just hope he's better on film than he was on stage - the rest of the cast was superb>.

As far as I was concerned, both were successful, albeit very different. The **flavor** was changed. One had stage swords and a bodybuilder mostly naked, flexing his pecks, the perfect Ajax. The other play had the "Chicago - New York in the 1930's" gangster feeling with guns instead of swords. Spirited performances, either way. I think tragic Cressida makes a great moll.

On Amazon, in a review about ZZ Top's Tribute album, Sharp Dressed Men, I found a particularly scathing series of comments. To be honest, the album is done by some of the current crop of C&W singers, what did you expect? It's like a gangland/mobster \\T&C\\, or Shakespeare's Richard the Third as Hitler. With the obvious exceptions of Hank III, Willie, and Dwight, the "artists" are from the present day wasteland of "pop country" and therefore, it sounds the same as you might expect to hear on the radio.

Doesn't make it good or bad. Being Texan, by birth, I have a natural affinity for \\The Top\\, "Hey ZZ," as the refrain goes. It's an interesting interpretation. Not good, but not bad. Comfortable. But look at the artists' names, if you don't like those guys, you might not like the album other than as a country curiosity.

Nowthe Eagles tribute, while similar in concept, does it completely different. There are a number of songs on that album that are virtually indistinguishable from their original. It's almost as if the Eagles produced that same music, these days, it would be played on pop country stations - instead of classic rock. It's less an interpretation, and less evidence of this analogy, and more a statement about the current condition of the radio play lists.

The Derailers'Reverb Deluxe has that concluding track, a hidden cover of \\Raspberry Beret\\, that is, in my mind, arguably better than the original. Likewise, Kevin Fowler's new CD concludes with Queen's ode, \\Fat Bottom Girls\\. Can't disparage Queen's good name, not as early 80's music goes, that song earned its rightful place. But think about Kevin Fowler's version, it's just an interpretation of song. Pretty good one, at that. Does it add something to the tone and texture? It's a gentle, albeit with Fowler's definite redneck tone, reminder of what we were doing then, and how we are now. In a way, it also pays homage to roots.

I suspect one of the reasons McKellen's R3 is so good is because he practiced it on stage for years. He got to really know the part. While it might offend a purist, it works well. In the same way, Kevin Fowler's "Fat Bottom Girls" rocks, in a redneck, trailer park, Texas twang way.

Hospes eras nostri semper, Matho, Tiburtini. Hoc emis, imposui: rus tibi vendo tuum.
[Martial, Epigrams, volume I, Book IV, #79>

Sales Tax & the website
Round a-bout, 7/8/02 10:10 am, ya'll Psychicfair said:
> The Texas State Comptrollers office called
> me yesterday (Tuesday) and said
> that they "would probably come to
> the El Paso Psychic Fair to see if you all
> had your ORIGINAL Texas State Sales Tax
> permits WITH YOU, that they could SEE,
> or a photocopy of it."

I've had a State Tax Number since 1995, or thereabouts. Nicest folks in the world to deal with, the State officials. No, really. Be nice to them, they're nice to me. Simple. Easy. Local sales get charged the requisite 8.25%, and I had to jump through some extra hoops to get the website order form to do it correctly, but it works well enough. I was absorbing and paying the required amount until one year, the numbers didn't work out.

But I haven't seen my actual certificate in over 5 years. I've been paying taxes, I just don't have the proof. I can recite my tax number, I just lack the actual piece of paper. Last time I saw it, it was in a laptop case that's three laptops, four or five cases, and many thousands of miles long-gone.

So what do I do? Hit their website. They're mailing me a duplicate.

I remember watching as one "psychic reader" got up in arms, jumped up into the face of the state official, hollering about the work being "spiritual" and hating being classified as "entertainment" as the State of Texas calls us.

That's a battle I don't care to enter. It all comes down to accreditation, as in, are you sanctioned by a particular religious body? [Actually, I am, but I tend to regard my work as entertainment>. Then there's the double-edged sword, and I haven't argued either "for" or "against" on this one for years, so my data may be completely wrong, but the way I understand the law, if you're a "counselor" then you have to have an advanced degree with so many hours of supervised counseling before you can legally call yourself "Counselor" in Texas. As I recall, that was a move by Virgo [former governor> Ann Richards, but don't hold me to that question on a point of legislation.

In internet terms, if you're really a "not for profit" then you're a "dot org." Or, as some would call it, a "501(c)3" corporate entity. Me? I pay taxes. This is where I earn my income, such as it is.

Joke list jokes
Running a joke list has good and bad days. I got these {{popup postage.jpg postage 400x397}}postage stamp mocks on three different occasions, the other day. Doing a lot eBay business lately, though, I've got newfound respect for both the post office and their service.

The other day, after a lot of contemplation, I was getting ready to run a text ad on \\MeFi\\ [Matt Haughy's Metafilter dot com. I had to sign up, and he had the "$5 donation" required to join. I liked that idea, only, on my site, I've left it as an option. Why?

Wednesday afternoon, I had about dozens bounces from the mailing list. So I had to take time and unsubscribe all the addresses. A lot of them were hotmail accounts, so I must've hit one of their spam filters. But it wasn't all the hotmail addresses on the list. Administrative details take extra time. Time is money. When - if - those folks care to sign up again, maybe adding a dollar amount would be a little more motivation to help make my task easier.

At a conservative estimate of 2K words per week, that's 104K words per year, a decent size for a thick paperback book. New, that book would cost $5.95? $6.95? $7.95? Plus tax, shipping and handling? $5 is a bargain. And for now, it's also a suggestion, not a requirement.

On Wednesday's count alone, I had roughly a dozen new subscription added after the mail hit the wires, but no dollars. I can only hope that El Paso has a few paying customers this weekend.

Exodus 21:24

Where & why
In short, it's a description of where I don't live and love - "Sprinkler City." But I've seen it, on the outskirts of town, near the edge, growing - according to Larry McMurtry, not really urban sprawl but urban scatter - at the fringe. But it's not a fringe community. \\Urban scatter\\, like a bird gun. Or bird shot. While on the subject of urban scatter, like most of his posts, Bubba's entry is long and rambling. I'm just grateful that it casts me in such a good light. Ran into a doubting Pisces last night, at the "CD Release Party" for Kevin Fowler's latest, High on the Hog. Hot damn. Until another Sagittarius and Pisces assured that one Pisces that Bubba and me are not the same person, she wasn't sure.

Me and that Sweet Pisces [three times she ran over that guy> were sweating outside listening to the showcase while Cranky Amy was inside, finagling use a table. Sizzling Sirloin, at Hill Cafe. When we wandered inside, there was Cranky Amy with a portable keyboard and a pocket PC, all wired up and going at it. It's been less than month since I saw similar sight, Miss Fredlet, the morning after, in the coffee shop at the casino. Just such a familiar image in my world, somebody busy pounding the keys at tiny computer.

Kevin Fowler's new CD has a couple of choice cuts, and the final song on the disk just goes to show, I'm not sure what it goes to show, but it's hard-core proof. It's "Fat Bottom Girls [you make the rockin' world go round>" by Queen, except, of course, it's straight up C&W.

Which comes back to another theme, picked up from an earlier trip this week, I got the ZZ Top "tribute" CD, Sharp Dressed Men [which includes "Fearless Boogie" covered by Hank III>, and it's all country/blues/western. \\Not\\ rock. Willie and Dwight, Hank Jr., Hank III. And some other, lesser names, I would guess. ZZ Top songs, as done by artists who certainly listened to their stuff growing up.

I'm throwing together some road music for the next couple of weeks, and I was looking over what I was burning, stuff from "Electronica" - Europe only music I picked up last year. Some hair metal, plus some older, classic rock [come on, no road CD is ever complete with something from Deep Purple's classic \\Machine Head\\>. Some really old Pink Floyd. Merle, Hank I, Hank III, Dwight. Lyle Lovett. Robert Earl Keen is always road music, too ["Swerving In My Lane" comes to mind as appropriate>, as is Dale Watson's Trucker Sessions. And some Sex Pistols. A little Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies?

More random final phase of the moon stuff + cat duty
So Sagittarius. So me. {{popup goat.jpg goat 320x240}}Lajitas Beer Drinking Goat in the news. And always a Star Trek favorite.

"Cat duty" is usually a good gig. You know, pick the cat up, run by the vet's place, get him a shot, buzz on back and drop the cat off. The deal is, this cat is one smart feller. I checked on him, he was stretched out on the bed. I get the carrier out, and he's still lying there, taking life easy. It's a waterbed; he has claws. I pick him up, and as soon I set him down in front of the cat carrier, he starts to struggle a little. I did eventually lift him into that carrier, but not before he let me know that he wasn't pleased by my display of power - he pissed on me.

The evening duty was a little better, I checked, he was still languorously stretched out on the bed, as only a cat can be, and I got the carrier ready. As soon as I opened the cage's door, though, that cat bolted. I moved the couch out so I could grab him and he hopped up on the bed again. Got him. The evening grab was a lot easier, he got his shot, and the world is okay. I passed the cat's keeper, as she pulled in just as I was leaving.

"What are you doing here?"

"The cat."

"But I'm back."

"Really? You didn't call, you didn't leave a message, what time in the morning to drop off the car?"

A whole lot of nothing
As I understand it, my namesake was used on a TV program that garnered incredible popularity in the last decade. And from what I've gathered, the central premise for the show was \\nothing\\. It was a program about **nothing**. So Sunday was a day about a lot of nothing in my life.

I was reading Larry McMurtry's "Roads." A couple of his observations were so true. Not so much "urban sprawl" as "urban scatter" [Dallas to San Antonio, along the, to me, "mother road" - Interstate 35>.

Day started out with my Cap friend needing a ride to the airport to fetch up a rent car for her next road trip. She showed up with breakfast tacos, "Look honey I cooked!" More like she stopped at legendary Maria's Taco Express, on her way to Shady Acres. Day just got stranger and stranger, too.

The other night, I was having an idle conversation with a friend of a friend, a Sagittarius guy, who, in the daytime, is also a peace officer with the county. He was talking about some online journal, "Ginger."

I joined some the Austin journal writers for two cups of coffee and some salad, then a little shopping foray into Cheapo Disks.

From one writer, I learned that I missed another chance to show my solidarity for the "sisterhood" in Austin, last Friday.

Always interesting to put a face to a journal. Best find at Cheapo? Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak" and "Sharp Dressed Man: A tribute to ZZ Top," both right at the line of $5.95, but still, worth the price. The guy behind the counter was telling me, "Man, you never see 'Jailbreak' out here; that's a rare find."

I was wearing a Hank III T-shirt, and one of the other customers passing by me made a couple of comments about it. Local organizer and promoter for Hank III. Pretty cool. Got the word, he's back on his way to doing his pure music soon enough. Hank III also does the "Fearless Boogie" on that ZZ Top tribute album.

I got around to dropping off an old computer bag with one of my friends, and I hopped back over to see about the cat because that woman was supposed to be on the road, but as it turned out, I walked into her place, and there she was, sitting in front of the TV screen, wearing her chenille robe. "Yeah, got hung up at the lake. Didn't leave yet. Don't worry about the cat." I won't.

Looking at the site on another machine, I noticed a few broken links. Got them fixed. Then, I thought about the fact that I'm about to change my main mailing address, switching over to a real Post Office Box [downtown>. So Looked at the [whiney> help file, and realized I needed to change a point in it, as well.

So not much happened. But I was so busy, scurrying hither and yonder. A lot of nothing? Moon was in what, Gemini?

On Space Aliens
Other than incontrovertible proof that Texans are obviously descended from a race of outer space aliens, I came across a theory that makes even more sense.

See, Planet Earth is the nuthouse for the rest of the universe. Only makes good sense, especially if you either know my neighbors, or some of my friends, or the assortment of characters I run into on a day to day basis. Plus, there's the fact that we keep getting glimpses of aliens, but by and large, they stay out of our way. Observing us? Or just making sure we don't leave the planet?

1> Cowboy Hats [an alien helmet>
2> Cowboy Boots [alien footwear>
3> Drawl [or twang, regional differences>

And in the news
toilet seats and hair metal. Commuter chair. Manly tips. Then there's the general tone of relief now that Jupiter has hit Leo.

The conclusion from dinner on Thursday night, is that I will start doing the lecture series again. I have mixed emotions about this. For one, I hate standing there and talking about astrology stuff for free. On the flip side of that equation, the other side of the "equal" sign, it usually generates some indirect income. Plus, preparing the material, keeping it fresh, is always some kind of fun.

First Wednesday of the month. Details as they become available, I hope.

TV then hemp then technology = 1%
First, I discover that I'm an underachiever because I don't own a TV. Then, I'm the oddball on the web because I don't smoke dope. Just getting a machine to do what it's supposed to do is a big deal to me. Sometimes, it's the little things in life that mean so much.

Many years ago, my love of technology and gadgets led me to get my dad an original Apple Newton Message Pad. Laugh if you want, the technology was skewered pretty well in the mainstream press. But it worked, for what it was worth, and it was a great toy. He later got me a different model, and we both went as far as the updates to the last version before the project/division was killed off by Apple.

So it was two Newtons, then a Palm III, then a Handspring, then a faster Handspring, and finally a color Handspring. Added a phone module to one, and late at night, while I was reading a magazine called "Pen Computing," I realized that I could surf the web on my phone/palmtop. Which I did. It's not like this is really a viable option, though, I mean, it's costing roughly 50 cents a minute for the cell time plus fee for the 800 dialup access.

I checked with my cell carrier's website, and came up with a {{popup coverage.jpg coverage 466x469}}coverage map, which I included as a reference for myself, more than anything else. But that map must be out of date because last time I was in Midland/Odessa area, I had coverage.

When I first signed up for a cell phone, I can recall having to jump through a few rings of fire in order to get a cell phone that would connect to a cell-compatible modem I had, and I used that phone-Newton set up \\exactly once\\ to send in copy for which I was getting paid.

Actually, that was one of those stellar moments, I pulled up onto the beach - Mustang Island - and whipped out the Newton, then wrote the article, while sitting right there, in the Autumn sun, as the tide slowly crept in. Then again, sitting in a Houston airport, checking e-mail and submitting the article. So much for technology.

But it's cool stuff, knowing that I can surf the web on my phone. After dinner, we were talking about who was going to be at the Spoke when, so we could arrange for the annual Leo party. Riding in the back of the truck, I was able to let my buddies know what the upcoming schedule was.

"So what does this make me?"

"You're the Alpha Geek."

"More like a guy with no life."

"Yoda: 'Life you have not'."

Thanks guys. It's sort of toss up between Dale Watson and the Derailers. Personally, I'd like to see both - but those are \\school\\ nights.

Derailers and phones
I was on the hike and bike trail, heading home after foraging for office supplies [means I was in the closest superstore across the river>, my mailers and ink jet cartridges wrapped in a shirt and tucked under my arm, and paused on the trail was a father with his child, both on bicycles.

They stopped for a drink of water, "Why is it so hot?" the kid asked.

The father glanced at me, I grinned, and he said to his son, "It's Texas. It's August. It's hot." [it was actually, July 31, but close enough.>

Just the way it is these days. But the nights are cool, especially after the sun goes down. The Derailers were playing down the street at Threadgill's. So out into the summer night I went. Well worth it. Met up with a Sagittarius and my sweet Pisces friend. After that news article about the woman in Houston, I figured I should henceforth \\always\\ refer to her as that "sweet Pisces." Three times she ran over that guy. Then parked on him.

I used the bathroom and my pocket vibrated: the phone. Now that's a scene I don't want to repeat. Standing there, taking care of my business while something's shaking in my pocket. What's worse, think about it, standing at a urinal, talking into the ear bud, "Hello? Hello?" Sure, I want to be in the bathroom, next to some guy talking to himself.

It's the little things that are a joy. Whether it's stopping and grinning while a dad explains that Texas is \\always\\ hot in the summer - especially in August, or enjoying greens with fresh lemon juice, crisp fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and the tunes from the band under a relatively balmy evening, or if it's being asked if I want to buy a ticket to Willie Nelson. I'm not joking. Some girl in the crowd approached me, asked if I wanted Willie Nelson tickets, and all I could do was laugh at her. Or looking around and being glad that I wasn't wearing a Hawaiian shirt and cowboy hat, like most of the guys. Nope, I had to be different, got by with a T-shirt with an astrology symbol on - and a Bass Pro hat, "So many lures, so little time...."

"Yeah Kramer, you'd fit right in here," one of them was telling me, "that's scary, a place where Kramer would look normal."

I have a highly refined sense of fashion. Plaid \\always\\ goes with loud prints. The term "tie" as a fashion accessory, means a large hunk of something, usually an artist's rendering of dead animal head, done in silver, holding together two leather strips - a bolo tie. Footwear is either manly or useful, \\e.g.\\, endangered species cowboy boots or waterproof sport sandals. Still, there's always something that I fond vaguely disquieting about seeing someone dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, sandals and a straw cowboy hat. Maybe it's too common of a "look" around here.

Old road-dog story
> Dude, I heard Linda talking to someone on the phone about the proposed Wed
> night classes. She said you would be
> talking about different signs, if so, would you please include the
> following: Yield, Dangerous Curves Ahead, Slippery When Wet, and Falling
> Boulders. These have always interested me, so if you can give an in-depth
> explanation I'd appreciate it.

The way the story goes, there was a Native American called "Falling Rock." [**Not** to be confused with Northeastern kin, "Rolling Rock," which was $4.95 a case, last time I had any.> Despite his stupid-sounding name, Falling Rock was a fierce warrior. Be my bet he was a Comanche, and as such, a member of one the largest light cavalries that ever existed.

You get into the history of the Comanche organization, and they were basically berry pickers, barely surviving on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, none of that fancy structure like the other Pueblo Native Americans, when along came a Spanish Explorer with a horse. In 50 short years, the Comanche changed from just some sort of barely-getting-by tribe to the majestic warriors of myth and mystery. Their "territory" ranged from the Dakota badlands to what is now known as Mexico, eastern Rockies to the Sabine [between Texas and Louisiana>. I might be a little off on the territory, but that's about it, more or less. The Plains Indians, part of noble heritage. They had no fixed dwellings, and could cover thousands of miles in a short time. "Home" was the Great Plains. The whole enchilada.

Wrapping up a reading the other evening, I was reminded of situation that I've encountered all too often, and sometimes, I fall into the trap myself. I've gotten much better, though, and I tend to shy away from this one scenario, wherein there's an unhealthy dependence for emotional succor coming from a "psychic reader and advisor," as in, well, I had this one client, would call me up in the morning, unsure of what to do with the day, whether to flip or fly. "Man, give me a chance to go to the bathroom and drink some coffee, even I don't live my life as dictated by the planets...."

To this day, there are still signs along roadsides, "Beware of Falling Rock."

As far as that "Dangerous Curves Ahead" sign? Personally, I watch out for ["Yield"> Pisces, \\c.f.\\ pizza at Austin's Pizza last night.

Airports in August
I've got three weekends away, four weekends booked, actually, in August. I've got three sets of airline tickets on three different airlines for the coming month. I should cover - in the air - about two-thirds of the Louisiana Purchase. Probably drive close 1,200 miles, too. Glad I like to travel.

Traveling at much more leisurely pace, around the hike and bike trial, I missed whatever the Police helicopter was doing there, but I did get a good glimpse of something from nature, a grackle had a cicada in its beak. Pretty amazing to see a bug screaming while a bird tried to eat it. Some sort of message there, but for the life of me, I couldn't fathom what the message was.

Picked this up, Apple's OS X Jaguar, pre-release Amazon price = $79.

And I finally finished reading "Tishamingo Blues," which fredlet gave me last time I saw her, or maybe the time before. Fun book, wouldn't have read it if she hadn't shoved it off on me.

Would any other Monday be so bad?
Couple of favorite columnists, from Florida, Carl Hiassen and Dave Barry. All that's missing is Tim Dorsey for a perfect "Florida Triad".

Sunday papers, for me, have long since been replaced by the web. Lance won, the miners are free, and this was a link that raises questions about missiles and the Cold War. One quote I pulled from that article, was this:

\\One set of projections based on CIA estimates, Leebaert writes, "indicated that the size of the Soviet economy would be triple that of the United States by 2000."\\

I guess 40 years is a long time. What interested me about the article, at one point, in New Mexico, I had a chance to go down to the blast door of an abandoned missile silo of some sort. It was about 200 meters off the highway, and one of my army buddies knew about the site. There was a large, heavy iron plate over the whole, and off to one side, a short set of steps leading down to a heavily fortified - and locked - doorway. Old missile site of some kind. That was 20 years or more in my past.

So I'm Libertarian, and I scored right down the middle on the "Left versus Right" scale. Personally, I think **ALL** these online quizzes are rigged.

My redheaded Cap friend made me go with her to Hippie Hollow Sunday afternoon. I was recalling a time, close to 20 years ago, and I was sure I had been to Hippie Hollow. Once. Close, but where we'd all gone back then was Marshall Ford, not the same place. It was a beautiful day at the lake. Get to the rocky shoreline and strip out of all clothing, plunge in the lake, paddle around. Float on a blow-up mattress for a little while. It's all good, right?

"Dude, when you dropped your shorts, **everyone** looked."


"Never seen an ass so white. You blinded us."

Nothing sunburned, no problems. Just another day at Lake Travis, as far as I was concerned.

Sunday Seven:
[with apologies to the [Friday Five>
1. First weblog? 11/12/1998.
2. What was that about? Working through a Gemini //issue//.
3. Haven't changed the name much, I switched to finally calling it **xenon**, named after a pinball game I once owned - and loved.
4. CMS? When I set up the first journal/weblog arrangement, and for the longest time, I kept it super simple, like, a code that I could do by hand, hacking the html code myself and then uploading the raw files. This year, after trial and error, I moved everything over to Greymatter. I did that because I was stuck a couple of time in places where I could access a browser but I couldn't upload my own files. [not enough European phone jacks>
5. Online journals and weblogs run together in my mind. I've found that I read other journals/weblogs around three times a week, just not every day.
6. What was curious to me, was all the recent folks starting to write web information. In fact, I've always liked the way my scopes, going back to their "dark ages" had links in them. Weblog style.
7. Just when the day can't get weirder -

Sex Toys and airlines. Or airport security

Anyway, Friday afternoon, after I got out of Barton Springs' Pool, walking along the trail, I began to get a little bit of an earache. Been a strange summer, that's for sure. Swimmer's Ear. Haven't had that in a long, long time. Here at home, like any good medicine cabinet, I've got a bottle half-full of rubbing alcohol. I poured a capful of alcohol into my ear Friday night, did it again Saturday morning, just to be safe, and decided to stay out of the water.

My redheaded cap friend called me up and took me out Saturday night. "Dude," she was saying, "you've got to come to the lake with me." We dinned on garlic and Italian food at Romero's, then scooted around town.

"Today's average home has 2.5 TV sets," it says in this article. Solid proof I'm 2.5 times \\**below**\\ average.

Rent, got to think about rent again
My dear Pisces friend, always amused by what happens in Texas, sent me a news item about a crime of passion over yonder in Houston. Apparently, the guy was caught cheating, and his angry wife ran over him three times. From the news description, she just drove around in circle, in her Benz, and flattened the guy who was caught at a hotel with another woman.

So Saturday morning, I e-mailed this guy whose weblog I read from time to time. I'm not sure if I was needling him, or just saw that his webcam was running, and decided that I needed an outside verification of facts. He wrote back about the "overkill" [on the coverage>, but then, thinking about the way the crime was described, first there was a major bitch fight, then she ran over him three times, I wonder if it's really overkill or not? Maybe it's just another crime of passion.

Don't mess with Texas women.

You know, the best quote from that Houston Chronicle's article?

"Clara Harris appeared at the Friday hearing dressed in a stylish black pants suit with her hair neatly swept back at the nape of her neck."

So when I see a woman with her hair neatly swept back, dressed in stylish black pants, maybe driving a Benz, I'll get out of the way.

I've had an idea kicking around in my brain for years about how to combine what I observe about astrology with what I like to do, write. Problem being, and I rather clearly recall this concept, it's hard to jump from one genre to another, especially after an earned reputation in just one area.

So there's a new link off to the side, called "Experimental Fiction," although, I think I might toss some poetry in there, too. It's one link, one way to find this stuff, and since I'm planning on excerpts from several upcoming projects, I'll change it when I want. I might do away with it, I don't know.

The idea started when I wanted to find a way to look at some of the stuff I've been working on lately, I wanted to see what sort of readership it attracted. See if the astrology and fiction can, indeed, be combined.

I received e-mail, years ago, from another author who used my basic astrology personality profiles to help get ideas on how to craft stories - according to that note, the stories were mysteries, and the basic profile was just a starting point. I'd suspect the Scorpio, myself. Or the Pisces.

I dug through the old files, found two half finished novels, don't think I'll post them, but I never can tell. Then I found some poetry, and frankly, as much as this scares me, some of it is good. Some of it is also more than ten years old at this point. Worthy of publishing?

It's just a chance to air out some of my old stuff, and few current working files, to see if they fly. Although it's a static link, I doubt I'll leave much up it up for more than a week or two. A couple of the stories are kind of fun.

I'd forgotten that first one, and even with years of age, it doesn't look too bad to me. But I'm biased.

What are you eating?
"Dude, what are doing for dinner?"
"Eating a sandwich." [Crunching noises go here. Hear.>
"Har-har, what kind of sandwich?"

Fake white bread, fake Ranch dressing with fake bacon on it.

I take pride in myself with a certain \\panache\\ for creating delicacies otherwise unheard of. Cranky Amy is on a diet, so I was mirroring her efforts with a little culinary creation of my own.

It started when one of my Gemini friends came by to get some paperwork from me, and that led to coffee at Jo's, which then became a quick trip through the grocery store, then a quick trip to the post office where I bailed out. I hiked myself on over to the Springs, which were closed, but that didn't stop me from a quick dunk in the creek. While I had real culinary creations dancing through my head, an elaborate feast of some sort, by the time I got home, I was hungry, and I looked at my recent acquisitions.

Then I began to arrange the condiments, mentally at first, then physically: two slices of white bread, spread a little fake ranch dressing on, sprinkle on the fake [soy> bacon bits, and presto! It's a politically correct sandwich that crunches and uses no natural ingredients whatsoever.

Bubba rescued me. He came in, looking like the thug that he can be, we discussed important matters while he perused my coffee table material, "I'm reading my horoscope by Rob whatever."

Sandy's, Barton Spring Road & South First Street. Amazing. Dinner for two, Bubba bought, was less than $6. Burger, fries and a drink. So much for eating healthy, non-organic sandwiches over the kitchen sink.

Changed one letter
I changed on letter in the basic structure of the web site. It was an inspired answer to question not asked by most people, and that one change made all the difference.

Then I got to see how many broken links were going to crop up. When the moon was at its fullest peak, I was busy hammering away, trying to fix all the broken problems, figuring I'd **finally** hit on the one, easy, simple, elegant solution to \\all\\ my problems.

28.8 dialup access is still pretty slow, but I've managed to pare away at the size of the code, reducing it from 100K, then to 80K, and now down less than 60K in size, and the software estimates it takes less than 20 seconds on 56.6 modem to roll up the whole picture.

Of course, on a slow connection the pictures will be the problem. Even those have been resized, cropped, dusted, and the smudge print removed. Plus the pictures are usually reduced in size - again, to make the page faster, easier to access.

So I was looking at a Wednesday with nothing happening when the phone started ringing. Two Aries, a Virgo and Libra. "See?" the one Virgo was asking, "am I good luck or what?" I wound up going to the Alamo Drafthouse for a free midnight movie. A truly bad movie, comical because it was so funny because it was so very bad. Never see this one cable, it's that bad. Called "Freeze Bomb." But the company was agreeable, and the pizza was good, but do the math, the movie started at midnight, means I wasn't near a computer, and not able to check the scopes until I got in late. So it was a really late night, fixing what wasn’t really broke. But it's all working now. Low bandwidth, or more suitable for broadband.

The curse of the cell phone
Yes, I know the world is going to hell in bucket, and I know international affairs are a lot more important than most events in my life, but this one irritated me. Problem is, I can't blame anyone but myself. Maybe the full moon, but even that's dubious, at best. [Moon was still in Capricorn at the time.>

A while back, my father had given me a little Handspring Module for counting steps, since I spend a fair amount of my day striding, ambling, meandering around my neighborhoods. I was able to measure the exact mileage, or a very close approximate, for a number of routes I tend to take. Cool. I even took a dive into a neighbor's pool with the electronic gadget still attached, and it survived the quick dip and chlorine.

I was on my way from the post office, again, to the springs, again, trying to rush and get in some cool water before I had to meet a client, and eat BBQ. I got a call on the phone right before I got to the springs, or right before I went in, so I was - in my defense - distracted, as I was working through some travel issues with my parental units. When we're going to be where, at what time, which flight, that sort of thing. The parental units are not fond of the Denver airport. Can't say either way for me - I've never seen much of it, just land and hop in a cab. Last I saw of it.

But for them, nothing is easy, and it's not a lot of fun if there isn't like, some kind of challenge. Had to get them out of Aspen, to someplace else, and coordinate me and their car getting back to Texas, and this turns into an "issue." So I hung up, emptied my pockets, dove in right past the "no diving" sign, and floated around in the cold water for a few minutes. Up, off to Green Mesquite, and about the time I arrived, I realized that the little electronic step keeper gadget was no longer attached to my waist.

Someplace in the bottom of the swirling waters of Barton Springs, a little geek endangered species salamander is looking at hacking on a thing that looks like a pager.

As I ruminated on my loss, hey, between my father and me, we both knew it was nothing more than a toy, but one I was getting used to tracking mileage with. Important toy. Told me, earlier this year, when I went 11.96 miles instead of a full 12 I would've given myself credit for. Or that one of the four mile loops is really about three and three quarters, not quite full four miles. Yeah, it was keeping me honest.

I was chuckling at that familiar bumper sticker, moments before I realized the gadget was no longer clipped to my waist. The sticker read: "hang up and drive."

Me? I'm still blaming the cell phone.

In Media Res
So there I was, at the Barton Springs Pool, listening to the guy in front of me try and convince the kid taking money at the gate that this guy - and his son - were both under 18 years old. When I stepped up next, I tried a different line, "No, really, I'm only 14, ask my last girlfriend, she'll verify that...." "I'm sure she will. It's still $2.50." "How many times do you have to hear those same lines, every day?" I mused, as I walked on in, and down to the pool. I've got to come up with some better way of getting in for free.

I spent the morning herding electrons across the pages in various tasks. Then it was a phone reading. Then it was the Post Office with ebay business. I had a theory that ebay auctions peaked higher dollar volumes when the auction itself closed close to, but not exactly on, a full moon. I watched this, in fact, I figured my first two rounds of auctions just like that, and sure enough, it paid out just fine. The problem? I forgot I would have to actually ship stuff after folks sent me money. I've been dealing in a service-oriented business for long, shooting stuff down the virtual pipeline for so long, I forgot about things like packaging and shipping.

But everything that's been paid for has shipped. Everything else is waiting on checks, all items sold, and all but two netted more than they cost. More than works out well. Applied astrology.

At the post office, I ran into a photographer acquaintance. He was thrilled with the exposure one weekly link from me got for his work. In fact, I'm real impressed with his photography. Sagittarius, what would you expect? He talked about how he could only take so much bit wrangling [working at the keyboard> before he had to "get out and get some grease under my nails." Then he's got a truck he works on. Me? I head for the Springs, which was my next stop.

My Virgo neighbor popped around late in the afternoon, "Do you have any Diet Dr. Pepper?" Nope, all out. I suggested Jo's, on her way to class, for a quicker picker upper. It's where I just got back from, so I would be in fine form for my evening reading.

I was going to brag that I was making money while still wearing my underwear, but she stopped me, "You went to Barton Spring?" Yes. "Got dressed for that?" Undressed, but yes, differently attired. "Doesn't count. Only counts if you stay in your underwear all day."

I guess that holds true for wearing a shirt, too. I took one with me when I went to the post office, dug one shirt out of the dirty clothes, the shirt that didn't smell too bad yet. I mean, I was only going to wear a shirt for a few minutes, why bother to soil a perfectly fresh shirt when something a little older will work as well?

Theme song for the day, something to do with Libra. Nothing but Libra-themed charts, all day long. Almost full moon in Capricorn, leaning on those Cardinal Signs [Cardinal signs = Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn>.

Inspired by Bubba and Pud
I never thought of Amy [Sagittarius> as "cranky."

But according to her, in her other circles of friends, that's her name, "Cranky Amy." I suggested it as a web log title and URL as she's going to be going through some weird stuff pretty soon. She loved the idea, signed it up, and I hacked up a quick web page for her.

Took some extra fiddling, but I did get it done this morning, and it's running along. Hopefully, she'll be filling in content as she goes along.

I don't suggest it for everyone, but in her case, and since I remember some of her chart, this should wind up being entertaining.

Inspired by meeting Pud and Bubba Sean.

Early Morning Fog
Sunday morning, it was so strange to watch the same weather I watched Saturday morning, from two different points of view.

Saturday morning was in the middle of cove, then on the lake, then back into another cove, mist shrouding everything, damp, warm, enveloping. That one lake, it's a special place, the early morning, I still had a warm cup of coffee, the fishing was excellent, the weather was more than obliging, that mist falling down around everything giving it a false, eerie silence. It never looked like it would really rain, but we had several hours of clouds feeling like those big cotton balls of moisture were just a few feet off the deck.

Sunday morning was the trailer's porch, such as it is. Saturday morning was before dawn, Sunday morning, suffice it to suggest that I slept in pretty late, like almost until 7:30 AM. Big difference. That mist on the lake wasn't the same. It had already started to burn away, evaporate into nothingness.

Then I checked the time. Saturday morning, we'd been on the lake for several hours, Sunday, I was just barely on the porch for a few minutes. Although it was early and still relatively quiet, it wasn't the same. Saturday, I got to see the sun burn through the mist, the wind ruffle the waters, the effect of the gradually dawning day, perhaps one of the most beautiful times to be out and in the water. Sunday, it was just the tail end of the mist burning off, and it was from a vantage point of being a few yard away, and few yards up, from the water's surface. By 9 on Saturday morning, the mist looked a lot like it did on Sunday morning, only, I thought, for a little while, that it wasn't the same until I realized I was just catching the very last of the show Sunday whereas Saturday I'd been out there in its splendor for the whole event.

Saturdays in paradise
Went {{popup kb72002.jpg kb72002 240x320}}fishing Saturday morning. Joked about it, as I caught one [1> fish. Early morning, great place to fish. Great morning for fishing, too, as there were low clouds, mostly overcast conditions, very light breezes, mist at points along the lake, and a canoe race of some kind.

"My wife told me to be careful and not to get into trouble. I figure to be careful, I need to use a condom, and to get into trouble, I need to be in a situation where I have to use a condom or firearm. Ain't going to happen with you, Kramer. Either one."

My sentiments exactly. Dang, his wife must be psychic or something.

It was an amazingly beautiful day in Central Texas, just a little east of Austin, with a cloud-shrouded morning that fought off most of the heat, and although the fish were rather timid and lazy about looking at our baits, it was just a super day.

I tried coaxing, wheedling, pleading and some other stuff, trying to get the fishes attentions. Didn't work. Caught one. Buddy caught one. I tried to get him to pose for a picture but he got upset, "No, don't take a picture, that {{popup pat72002.jpg pat72002 320x240}}fish is too small."

Toss them back, get some BBQ, head home, and head right back out the door, first to Jo's to meet a client then to Barton Spring for a quick dip in the murky but cleaner than before spring water, then up to Fry's. I quoted fredlet's rule for Fry's, "You never go just once to Fry's."

Went and had some fine sushi to balance out the midday meal, and then went back to Fry's. Ostensibly, we were looking for a replacement laptop, and since my advice to get an Apple fell on deaf ears, it was toss up on the brands and prices. Dell? Not impressed with their laptops. Sony? Too expensive. HP? Didn't they just buy Compaq? Compaq? Weren't they just acquired by HP? What to do, what to do. I still figure Mac would be better, but I'm biased. Very biased. Solution? Buy nothing, yet. Shop some more.

I was up before the sun, and now that it's set, I'm going to bed. Been a rather full day in {{popup kwb72002.jpg kwb72002 320x240}}paradise

Lightning Struck Tower
In a traditional tarot deck, number 16 of the major arcana is the {{popup towercard.jpg towercard 320x240}}Lightning Struck Tower. Monday's flight out of Las Vegas and subsequent connection to Phoenix and points beyond were a major "Charlie Foxtrot" situation because, apparently, the control tower at Phoenix's Sky Harbor had been struck by lightning the during a thunderstorm the previous night. The symbolism wasn't lost on me, I just forgot about it all until a few days later.

How often does F***edcompany dot com fame was in town on Thursday night to sign his . Our plan was to smuggle in some Lone Star Beer. But when we stopped at the beer store, on the way to the book store, they didn't have any cheap, Texas beer. So I opted for a six of Shiner in bottles.

Best damn $7 I've spent in a long time.

I've been reading his website for a while. I've enjoyed. It held news about corporate happenings that affected my income a good six to seven months before the ax fell on me. I like that kind of information. It is rumors, suppositions, a lot of crap, and some good bawdy humor. Maybe a little tasteless humor, too.

Pud walked into the book signing wearing a pair of jeans, and a black T-shirt that said [in bold white letters>, "I'd rather be masturbating." It just got better and better, too. At first, he was a little nervous. I have one note from that: "GEEK". The guy is a real geek, a professional geek, a programmer by trade, the kind of person who probably feels more at home with keyboard instead of a pen in his hand. I felt so at home.

He was funny, he recounted a few anecdotes, entertained questions, one funny comment he had was about his site, and how it started, a "dead pool" for dot coms, "I don't even know how to get to the game on the website anymore," he explained.

Then, when it was time to sign books, I had my sweet Pisces with the big purse haul out the beer. The Sag girl, Cranky Amy as she calls herself, pulled out a Leatherman to open the beer bottles. "Hey, this is good beer," Pud noticed. "Dude, remember who smuggled in the beer for you," I reminded him.

He signed my book, "Thanks for the beer," or something, then I noticed a discrepancy. Earlier, he'd claimed that he had no creativity. He's a left-handed book signer [probably a left-handed person, but I won't jump to conclusions.> Another example of his creative possibilities, I would suggest.

Took some talking, but we convinced him that a few drinks with his adoring fans would be a good idea. Hopped in the car, and I asked his birthday - Pud's a Scorpio. No wonder he's obsessed with sex.

"I knew you were one of those weird scientology guys," he said over his shoulder to me.

Dinner, drinks, more drinks, he was slamming the margaritas and tequila, shoveling chips and stuff in his mouth, and talking a mile a minute. In person, he's every bit as much fun as we've heard. Even more so. Sick and twisted, that's for sure. But damn funny.

One of the anecdotes he recounted over dinner was about why his book \\didn't\\ make the __New York Times__ bestseller list. It was a long winded explanation, but what it amounted to was he sold enough books to make the list, but it was stretched out over a period of time, instead of all at once. B&N, according to Pud, failed to pick his book up the first time around, and by the time they got caught up, and ordered the book, it was too late. So instead of spiking on the list, he'll just have to settle for the money.

He's a tall guy, relatively fit, and funny. Sarcastic, caustic, all those Scorpio traits, plus, looking at his chart, destined for greatness. Walking into the restaurant with him and his T-shirt, I noticed a few girls rolled their eyes.

I read his site, maybe once or twice a week, these days. The information is good, but a lot of the message boards are messy, profane, and not very profound. But there is some good stuff there. Just like the rest of the net, though, there's also some crap. But Pud? He rocks.

I moved over to
Apple OS X last December, when I finally got an update to Microsoft's office software. I played with the e-mail program and decided, for the amount of time I have to spend dealing with e-mail issues, this was the best program, offering a few extra features \\that I use\\ over the stock Apple issue.

I've been patiently waiting for an update from Palm so I could sync my Handspring to MS Entourage, and get a calendar, addresses, and e-mail all in one program, and make one more move away from the older-style software.

Update didn't work and I wrestled with it for while, never really succeeding, with the oddest bug showing up, the size of the file on the handheld side bloated up to three times its normal size. Curious.

Every time I stepped out to stretch my legs, every time I opened the trailer's door, a big black thundercloud would boom by. I'd look out the window and see something that looked like sun, but I'd be greeted at the door with rain, or, at least the immanent threat of rain.

My sweet Pisces buddy was supposed to fetch us up to a movie at the Alamo; however, one event after another conspired to make us too late to see the film. So, since my heart was set on pizza [Alamo Drafthouse = pizza>, she suggested Austin Pizza as an alternative. Brilliant suggestion. Excellent pizza. Gray clouds billowing overhead, the wan light of the day fading, and pizza heaped tall with salty versions of pepperoni, Canadian bacon, green and jalapeno peppers, purple onion slices, just good. Really good.

I want to rock and roll all night
Or maybe not. I got call, before I left for Las Vegas, about going to see, and I quote, "Motely Crue" - for free. A friend of friend arranged some tickets, and I called \\Bubba\\ to see if he was working that show.

"Motley Crue? No, it's just Tommy Lee, and no, I'll probably be at Sheryl Crow that night, so anyway, let me tell you...."

First band, largely derivative. Second band, Flying Tigers, original, blessedly short set. Tommy Lee and his current band was on for close to two hours, and they pretty much rocked, although, my hostess for evening, the girl [Sagittarius> responsible for the lovely tickets, did observe after words, that Tommy Lee sure relied on certain four-letter expletives. Every other word.

My Pisces friend, also in tow, she observed that we were probably the oldest folks in the crowd, and I'd guess it was true, older by a good ten years, even, "And still able to rock! Oh Baby!"

We left when the band broke for their first encore. I used to make fun of folks who left at that time, thinking, "You paid, you should hear everything," but I was way too tired. Maybe my Pisces friend can still rock all night long. I was home before midnight, dog-tired, ears still ringing.

"Fame" by David Bowie, covered by Tommy Lee. It rocked.

Trivia question, what's the big tattoo on Tommy Lee's belly say?

Fashion and tourists
I'm an inquiring type. I like questions about questions. I asked the security guard at the Flamingo what the strangest question was, what was the weirdest thing he ever got asked. I asked the guy in line at the airport what his strangest question was, when he lived in Las Vegas. I asked a change redemption girl, and a cabby, on my way from the airport.

"You live here?"

I didn't get it at first. I thought they were asking me if I lived in Las Vegas. With my nasal twang, it's obvious that I'm not from around there. After the second or third time, I got it. Tourist, like myself, seem to have a problem understanding that there is more to Las Vegas than just airport and Strip. For that matter, I've seen very little of the strip. It is possible to walk outside the Flamingo, into the adjacent casino, through its other exit to walkway that goes over Flamingo Road, into Balley's, through the casino to the tunnel to Paris, out of Paris, over the walkway on the Strip to some other casino, into their labyrinth casino, then onto a tramway, down to New York New York, and a monorail to Luxor, and Mandalay Bay, then back via another monorail to Paris. It's a loop. All I ever saw. Not much time in natural light, not too much time in 100 degree heat. Lots of time in air-conditioned comfort with unnatural lighting. And ringing slot machines.

What's the strangest question? "Visitors seem to think that that Las Vegas is either Strip or airport, nothing else." Then there's the tourists themselves. I'm no fashion guru. In fact, I'm pretty actively anti-fashion. It's hard to come up with clothing that clashes as well as I can do it. It's a unique talent that I have.

However, even my failed sense of fashion was offended by some of the attire I saw. Mostly, as noted by at least two other females I was with, there's a lot of breasts in Las Vegas. Tons of tits. Not bare or exposed, but not far from being exposed, or that seemed to be the standard rule. Skin tight sin tight made for a new way of looking at things. Seems that tourists, once they arrive at Las Vegas, all tend to take leave of their collective sense of style, a lapse in mental acuity, and fashion sense goes right out the window.

What bothers me the most, though, is not that I watched in shock and amusement at the fashion - or lack thereof - but that I I'm at a complete loss for words, other than to suggest that my fashion sense was offended. It's that bad.

No wonder I found myself speculating the same as every other tourist, "You **live** here?"

Leaving Las Vegas & casino magic
Or not magic, I suppose how one calls it. Not destined for the horoscopes, I did find a few comics that rather fit with my weekend. Plus I had I few memorable gambling experiences, too.

See, slot machines are fun for me. I tend to wander aimlessly until one "speaks" to me. Even then, it's not always a sure bet. I did learn my lesson late Sunday night, on one machine.

I usually tend towards the nickel machines these days as their title more approximates what I can - and can't - afford to spend. The "prime directive" for having fun in a casino is never play more than I'm willing to lose.

Friday night was a wash as I wasn't hitting anything particularly good, but not badly, either. My hostess made her comment about me and dating and gambling, based on what I was, and wasn't doing, that night.

Saturday was different. I start with a "bank," and when that's all gone, I play no more. Or, as the case was, I started with Friday's leftover cash, and continued to play smart.

I was stuck outside the lady's restroom, waiting on a girl, and I looked at the machine there, dropped two quarters in, and hit $20. She came out of the restroom as I was scooping up my 80 quarters.

Saturday night, after the wedding, and after hanging around one casino for while, we wandered back to another place where I really wanted to drop a C-note into a dollar slot machine. I did. It ran down a ways, then back up to $99 so I cashed out. Then, I was still feeling lady Luck smiling on me, Moon in Virgo and not void-of-course, so I hit several machines, looking for that lucky pull. It came on the end. Two tokens, hit $180. I was going to stop for the night. Cashed out ahead. Went back to the hotel, but I loitered in the lobby casino long enough to hit one more dollar machine for more money. Still way ahead.

Sunday night, smart money said this one machine was going to do it. I remember, a little earlier, doing rather well on one "Wheel of Fortune" machine, doubling my money and then some, only, it was a nickel machine, think about $50 in quarters, takes two casino buckets to haul that stuff around.

Then came the last machine of the night, last one of the trip. I still had a single $100 bill, saved for that last machine. Cash wise, I was still way ahead of the game. I dropped it in a "double diamond" machine, played 5 quarters on each pull, and I watched as my money almost doubled. Kept playing. I know, my rule is to stop when I'm ahead, but it was fun, and it had some animations that were amusing, plus, I'd go down, and then it would jackpot back up. I felt like I was on that machine for three or four hours. I stopped when I still had some money left, but no, I didn't have more than I started. But it was fun. Almost. Close. Chasing that big win, caught in the spirit of the moment.

Las Vegas: fun place to visit. Came home with enough winnings to cover the rent next month - gaming in a workman-like manner. Virgo Moon.

I'm not sure I was down with the whole "drive-thru" wedding ideal. See, it's been mighty hot lately in Las Vegas. Imagine that, 100 plus degree heat in the middle of the desert, in the middle of the summer. The heat was no surprise

Languishing in the back of the limo, I tried but I was largely unsuccessful at catching an image of the bride and groom. However, other adventures along the way were pretty amazing...

And yes, it was the AC in the limo that was at fault. It was hard pressed to work with six of us crammed in the deluxe stretch ride.

Sunday's high point, culinary-wise, was a at the Hard Rock [Casino, Bar, Resort, and so on>. At my insistence, we did eat their "Pink Taco" restaurant, and it was serviceable Tex-Mex. Or a variation on theme. Odd thing was, that afternoon, no one was drinking. "No shiner on tap? Okay, I'll have water."

"Kramer, you need a 'pink taco' hard rock 'wife beater' ribbed tank top."

I guess the stylistic use of language was missed by that comment. Nope, no T-shirt for me, not this time.

Viva Las Vegas
"So I have this theory," my \\bride to be\\ friend was explaining, "you can tell a lot about how a person dates by the way they gamble. Look at you, as soon as a machine starts to pay, you leave it. But if it doesn't pay, you hang around."

Off to Vegas. Most appropriate for my buddies.
And for more on ebay:
All slim line trappers, two are bareheaded, the rest are regular with hats, I guess: Black Bone, brown plastic, smooth Appaloosa, Blue Bone, Pink, Lizard Skin, Green Bone, Vintage Stag, and Vintage Stag Y2K special.

More Saturn news and **not** an approved charity. But I have to admit, the idea of selling stuff via ebay has caught on. The problem being, this is such a small place, I don't have anything left to sell. The pocketknives? I still have a box full of other, even more fun ones. I was just unloading the surplus. Been meaning to do that for a while. I've got more, a few rare finds, and I'm not sure whether I want to unload them or not, maybe not just yet.

I had fun writing the latest round of ebay postings. Took up a lot of the morning, and I got called up a little short for time as a Virgo friend came by and bothered me about going to get some lunch. We walked up to Guero's for a late lunch of fajitas, stopped off to look at junk in the stores, then grabbed some coffee at Jo's. When I looked back I was kind of proud of the ebay descriptions, making them a little more novel than the usual way to describe a product. It was good exercise for me. Funny thing, they ran about the same length as my horoscopes.

Stopped off at the bank to deposit money, not withdraw, which was the original plan before heading to Vegas. Wish me luck. Worst case scenario, I won't have any quarters to do laundry when I return home.

Useless facts
Yesterday morning I got a terse note from someone who didn't know how to operate a web browser. I responded - I thought - kindly and never heard back. Apparently, when a browser dumps you into my page, there's no "forward" button. Never was one, it's a dead end. And no, you don't have to quit to get out of it. Just click it shut. Or hit the back button twice. End users aren't always the brightest, I swear, what I put up with.

Which gets around to the other fact, once I put a splitter on the index page, I can tell that 66% of the folks are using Exploder 5 or better whereas, the other 33% are using version four or less. I didn't bother to chase down the details any further than that. The way it's set up, the version four stuff, I'm assuming a dialup and a slow browser for that, probably Netscape 4.x, it leads to simpler version of the page, minimal images, old-style html code. Should parse on any browser, \\including Web TV and version 2.x as well as 3.x\\ platforms.

There's still a glitch in the cooler, actually smaller, tighter version five and up page. I tested it across three browsers, then on a dialup, just to see. Can't do much more than that.

More rain
I'm having some fun now, watching the ebay auctions I set up. I got so excited when one of the knives got recognized as a real collector's piece and the bidding went on up and up, I dug through the old shoebox full of knives to see what else I had for sale.

I was taking care of business for while in the early afternoon, and when I wrapped up, I decided to walk, only to have all my plans cut very short by a huge thundercloud. Wasn't so much the rain as the noise. From that first clap of thunder to actual drops of rain is about 20 minutes, and I was off on my timing by about 6 or 7 minutes which meant it was raining by the time I pulled back in home.

Afternoon rainstorms are pleasant, though, there's that scent of rain in the air, and after a blazing hot morning, the clouds scudding across the sky bring a hint of relief.

Despite the fact that there was astrological new moon in Cancer, I was planning to call it a Virgo day, as I was supposed to have a late dinner and drinks with a Virgo, after a Virgo reading. Didn't work like that, though. Just a quick reading, it wasn't like it was a really long process. And then my Virgo buddy bailed out on me, leaving me and the cat with a can tuna fish. At least one of us was purring.

I've been hammering away at a backend technology question about code, and I looked at another page, and there was the answer, in plain form. A simple solution to a dramatic problem. Fluid and faster loading, that was the idea. Think I got this one whipped now.

Saturn and trash drifting in the river
When the floodgates are opened upstream from here, there's a lot of "stuff" that gets washed downriver.

I was thinking about this as I was delineating a chart with a copious amount of Gemini. What better way to express the energy of Saturn than to look at the river flowing in front of the trailer? It's a torrential mess. The hike and bike trail is flooded out in places. I took a detour on the way back from barbecue and reading, nosing along one section where I tested the water, albeit briefly, and only up to my ankles. A young runner had taken off her shoes and waded out to a bench seat, surrounded by water, and she was idly watching the river's mess flow by. I wasn't as brave as she was, opting instead to take the long [and dry> way around.

See: Saturn is like that river. When the LCRA opens its floodgates, it pushes all manner of undesirable trash out. There's a lot of deadwood. Stray water plants, mostly {{popup hydrillasign.jpg hydrilla_sign 320x240}}hydrilla, washed downstream in huge clumps the other evening, when I was walking along the shore.

The nature of the crud floating along varies with the time of day, and what the latest rain was like. Like Saturn. The first stuff is just debris, a lot of it manmade garbage, the ubiquitous plastic cups and beer cans that get floated and caught in eddies. Then it was that hydrilla and other natural refuse, like leaves. A little later, it's just the large stuff, real deadwood. It's not a metaphor, it's dead branches, or in some case whole trees that no longer belonged where they were rooted, so Saturn, or the LCRA, or the river itself, picks them up and lets them float on down stream.

Usually, with this river - or Saturn - this is a gradual process, and usually, there's some Parks Department guys out there, scooping up barge after barge of trash, helping the process. But sometimes, when the planet or the river picks up speed, there's no help.

There's a submerged wreckage of an old earthen dam, a few blocks from here. The dam broke, was partially rebuilt, and subsequently left to the river as I understand the history. If the force of Saturn, or the force of floodwater is too great, you don't stand a chance. An arm of that ruined dam sticks out into the lake, and with the river rushing over it, that old structure causes the nicest standing wave. But you can bet that the old dam is getting whittled away, little by little. Or even in bigger chunks these days.

A Gemini buddy came late in the evening, wanting to kill a little time, and he was amazed at the way a mist was rising up from the lake's surface, slowly crawling up back upstream. I had to explain atmospheric conditions to him, how the water was warm, and the afternoon rain cooled off the ambient temperature, and with that much moisture in the air, a mist formed, slowly spreading itself back up the stream.

I'm high and dry, that's for sure. The ground around here is a little soggy yet, but the foundation blocks seem to be holding up just fine. It's another eight or ten feet before I have to worry, and I doubt it'll be a problem.

ebay items for sale
Bid now, make me some dollars - excess from the collection:
1. Texas Jack knife.
2. Black Case Russlock.
3. Peachseed Russlock.
4. Bare Headed Trapper.
5. Stag Russlock.
6. Big Stag Trapper [?>.
Nota Bene: all proceeds from sales go to the credit card that pays for the server.

More rain? Sure. A wicked thunderstorm blew though last night when I was working on that stuff for ebay. Just going to see how that goes. Can't be all bad, at least I get to unload some collectible knives I have no hope of ever sticking in my pocket. I mean, the reason I started collecting the damn things in the first place was to make sure I had a pocket knife that would get through airport security - back then, it wasn't a problem. These days? Forget it. I don't even go to the airport to pick up a friend with anything like that in my pocket.

I was amused, at one point, and this has already run in a recent scope, so I can repeat myself, but I was amazed when I was in California, a few years ago. Even some of the most tame [read: "tiny"> pocketknives were considered an "illegal [or was it concealed> weapon." Not on me, man. Not going there. So I collected a few, found stuff that I liked, and stuck with what worked for me.

See: in Texas, it used to be, a guy could carry a hunting knife onboard a plane. No big deal. We've got hunting knives the size of Roman Infantry swords, and some of those knives aren't considered dangerous.

"This little pigsticker? I use it for whittlin'. Ain't no harm." Yeah, bubba.

One of the pocket knives I carry these days has a clip on the back of it, supposedly for clipping into your pocket. What I've found is that it makes an ideal money clip so I can carry a little chump change when I'm out walking. Best of all, that one pocketknife? It's waterproof, near as I can tell.

Part of the usual trail was closed Monday afternoon, flooded out, as portions of the river that runs through town is "all swole up" [swollen to capacity> and even more so as floodgates upstream from here are opened up to allow for the excess run-off. I've watched as the velocity of the river seems to be like a real river instead of the usual "holding tank" it more frequently resembles. Brave souls are still fishing, but the water's level is a few inches above that point where it should be. This series of pictures is now all at a point under a few inches of runoff water. All those cool rock art structures are washed away. Such is the nature of true art - ephemeral, subject to the whims of the environment and taste. In that case, it was Shoal Creek.

Unrelated: new picture index [probably not suitable for narrow bandwidth>.

Astrology observations
Not long ago, I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't found a portal, or even an area for frank discussion about certain astrological principles. There's a generation of people born in the mid-sixties with a Pluto-Uranus conjunction. While there's a wealth of information about this as a "generation indication" and how this affected us on a global scale, I've found very little material that deals with this aspect on a personal level.

And I'm seeing it a lot. The folks born in 1965-66 are especially prevalent in my day-to-day work, but it bounces right on up to 1968 or so, and down to 1964, or thereabouts.

It's in Virgo, in the natal charts, usually in the middle of Virgo, and it's an influence that needs to be addressed. But thus far, no one I've dealt with, on a professional level, seems to have anything to say about how this affects the individuals.

"Yes, it's that whole generation," is what I've heard, time and again. But the older, more established astrologers aren't concerned with younger clients.

Astrology usually picks up after a Saturn Return - sometime around 28 to 30 years of age. From thence forward, it all makes pretty good sense. That's a Lunar Return, in a progressed chart, which I don't use. I can read them, but I don't pay too much attention to them as I've found that, like that old Greek Astrologer suggested, "Saturn is easy to use for predictions." Yes, ask your Gemini friends about that right now.

I have several ways I express the energy represented by that particular conjunction in an individual chart. I have theories, tested and proven over a period of a few years, but no, I haven't found any good discussions about how this is approached by the astrological community. Once again, I'm working on stuff that seems to be largely ignored.


Trucks and such
I was stupidly surfing away on Sunday afternoon, and I came across this CNN story about their picks for the greatest American cars of all time.

Which got me thinking about vehicles in general, and some of the ones that have big impacts on my life. For trucks, a 1970 to 1979 Ford F-100 can't be beat. I drove one in New Mexico for about year, a special truck for me. No power steering, no power brakes, no AC, three on the tree, long bed, 300 CID inline six. Dependable, solid, could haul a ton of stuff. First gear was suitable for pulling stumps. Years later, I tried to match that truck, and I failed, but I did move up to an automatic transmission. Still, a venerable truck. Those old Ford six-bangers could really take a beating.

I used a Ford van, short wheelbase model, in between someplace. Had it for a few years. It was okay, too. Still, no AC, but it was that six-pack motor as well. Carburetor had a nasty problem of shaking off occasionally. Coming back from one race weekend, we got cheap pink champagne all over the inside of the windshield.

In between, I had several sports cars. Usually British, usually unreliable as could be. That was long ago enough that the Lucas Electrics were said to be the "prince of darkness." Rain great in the rain, though. Go figure.

For a long time, just outside the good bookstore here in town, a Lincoln Mark IV used to sit in the sun, white on white, with a big "for sale" sign in the window. I bid on it once, but I never got around to really getting myself all together to actually buy the car. 460 CID V-8. One of my buddies in high school had one, and I remember that car fondly. If I'd been a little more flush with cash, I'd like to think I could've bought that behemoth. Would be a fun car, but it was from an era when gasoline was lot less than a dollar a gallon. From what I recall, it got about 4 miles to the gallon, maybe 6 or so, on the highway. Not exactly an economical vehicle to own. Mostly solid steel, and it would only comfortably carry two people. But think of the style.

Not far from here, just across the street from Jo's, as matter of fact, there's an old Rambler Station Wagon for sale. In need of some TLC and restoration work, but what looks like a good, sound vehicle to start with. Pretty cool. The best bit of marketing that they'd done? Taped inside one of the windows is some original-looking advertising material.

I'll agree that the Mustang was a nexus point in the history and design of American cars. But I missed a station wagon. I thought it was honorable of the editors to include the Jeep Cherokee as the first real SUV. Still wouldn't the proper SUV be something out of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath?

In the first week of May, 2000, there was a big astrological event. I was reminiscing about this event the other day, and I got to thinking about a bridge, one that I cross several times a week. It's got small construction tag on it, a little plaque not much bigger than a 3 X 5 card, and I was meaning to get {{popup bridge2.jpg bridge2 240x320}}a picture of it.

Saturday morning, there was a mist rising up from the river's water, a low-lying fog, almost. There's something peaceful about that. I really do enjoy living by the river's edge.

Israel and the bomb. [via MeFi> Alternate view.

Saturday evening was Bouldin Creek Caffeine Dealer, home of the "Kramer's had too much coffee again" reading. For a while, I was in the company of my Cancer poet buddy, and I flew a few ideas past her. "Interesting, very interesting."

Overhearing a conversation from another table, I couldn't help but remark that we had arrived, this is exactly what our liberal art degrees were worth, sitting around a bohemian coffee shop on a Saturday night, sipping exotic beverages, discussing great points in literature, and being broke. All we dreamed as students, sitting around in coffee shops, being very bohemian, it had all come through.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be depressed or happy.

Oh yes, and on an astrological note, the big alignment in Taurus, in that first week of May, 2000? I suggested it marked the beginning of the end of the fundamentalist point of view. All of them. But I never suggested they would go down without a fight.
Wasn't it Kermit?
Isn't that the character who sang, "It ain't easy being green?" {{popup kermit.jpg kermit 240x320}}Kermit, that was his name, right? Dinner at a South First Street Sushi place, or drinks afterwards, on the patio at Guero's. The soft evening light giving way to a special kind of coolness.

Summer nights in Texas.

Universally panned by the critics, I have to admit, I enjoyed "Men In Black: II" or whatever the title was. Saw the matinee on Friday afternoon. Two hours of clean fun. Nothing especially sticks out about this movie. It follows all the rules for a good sequel, same characters, same plot, same story, a little low on the bathroom humor, a little high on the camp factor, two stars with chemistry, worked just fine. Not a lot of plot to get in the way of the action. Maybe the romance between the supporting role and a star didn't quite have that spark, but as someone who writes an astrology column, I had admit, one of the best lines, "No, I'm a Libra."

Yeah, I liked it, but then, it was at the bargain afternoon price.
Fireworks & more....
I was tweaking the pages, and I ran across this Wagner Ring cycle box set on Amazon, considering it cost less than half of the other set I've got, and the masters are older than I am, I think it's got to be pretty cool. I've got to start a wish list.

Latest on that virus I didn't send you.

Fireworks from the {{popup townlake.jpg townlake 320x240}}Congress Avenue bridge. Second or third year in a row when the Fourth of July includes Tater Tots from Sonic, after the downtown fireworks display. The finale really seemed good this year.

Just like it said in the Cancer scopes. That's weird.

Happy 4th
As it stands, I'm writing the equivalent of one decent-sized paperback book per year. Have been, for a while. [\\That\\ story came up in conversation the other day, and I stumbled across it trying to isolate the time when the scopes went from short to long.> Maybe it was in 1996 or perhaps a little later, but I did one-half of the daily scopes for year, bad business deal, as it took a lot more work than what I got paid for. Sort of put me off doing a daily scope for that very reason. That was a huge amount of text, again, nearly doubling what I usually do, just keeping up with the output for a single year of weekly scopes. Lots of folks, apparently, don't get that. I suppose, if I were to just read my sun sign and nothing else, then it wouldn't matter. However, other than that one Scorpio-only site that I saw once, I can't think of doing just a Sagittarius-only site. Alienate the other 11 signs?

A strange thing occurred yesterday, it has to do with the weekly scopes. More specifically, with Virgo scopes **not** mailed. I suppose I should give a prize to the first respondent, but then the numbers started to add up, and I think I was around 400 last time I checked. See: I have this sense that if someone takes the time to write me, and as long as it's a cute note, I try to respond myself. But I did get really tired of typing, "The cat ate the Virgo scope."

So, while I was dining at Maudie's with my Gemini buddy, I had to ask, it was a Virgo waitress. Just figures. I hope she wasn't on the mail list.

I rolled around the lake, eastern loop, after lunch. Full belly, warm day, stopped and admired the river's work, its lighter than usual color from all the runoff, and there were a few things I noticed. Long-billed hunter bird [no idea what kind> up a creek. Two turtles, one on top of the other, sunning themselves in the traditional "flying turtle" position: legs and arms fully extended, soaking up rays. Fish and Game officer, checking fishing licenses.

The clincher, for me, though was this one big snapper I've observed, never seen more than his head before, it's a huge turtle, at least, judging by the size of its big jaws. He was out. He was lazily swimming under one of the footpath's bridges. His head must've extended a full six inches - but his shell wasn't really that much bigger. I remember one Fish & Game girl talking about that very snapper, said he would occasionally dine on baby ducks. Funny thing was, he wasn't really that big. Never saw him surface, and his head was disproportionate to his shell's size, or so I thought.

Maybe like guys who forget Virgo scopes.
Rain is depressing
So the much needed, appreciated and desirable rain is depressing the hell out of me. Stuck inside, can't go swimming at the creek, can't do much of anything other than read the incoming e-mail and worry about stupid design problems, nope, I don't like the rain very much although, I have to admit, it's nice seeing the river creep up on its banks.

So most of AOL's users are not 1999 compliant. That really bites. What I could do is bounce all 3.0 browsers straight to the order form.

Had lunch with a Leo, makes it easy, Leo waitress, Leo client, "Hey, Leo, it's my favorite sign." A roll of the eyes. More rain.

Tuesday evening, as the darkness began to encroach, me and Bubba got back from a light walk and dinner. He was dealing out a lot of verbal abuse, heaping one insult upon another until he realized that yes, I was going to get some bacon on my vegetarian sandwich. Please.

Coming home along Riverside, aptly names because a portion of it does cut close to the river's side, he noticed a house floating in the flotsam and jetsam layered on the surface of the river. Made for an interesting photo opportunity, and all he could make out in the waning evening light was "club house rules" on the side.

Looking at the stuff floating, mostly organic debris, but a stray paddleboat as a well, I couldn't help but think about scenes from two books about a river. \\The Rift\\ [Jon Williams> and \\Huckleberry Finn\\ [Mark Twain>.

Likewise, working on web page code, berating fools for not having a 1999 compliant browser software, that's like watching so much stuff just float by.

Astrology chart, Monday morning & more
Phone woke me up Monday morning, and the overcast sky was dripping rain, so I really never wanted to wake up. Or even answer the phone.

But I did, a little later than usual, or little earlier than I wanted to. There's something about the gentle noise of rain that makes for really good sleeping weather. Or maybe I was just worn out from a working weekend.

My little red headed cap friend came by for lunch and web tweaking. "How about Mexican food?" she asked. Sure. "Yeah, you're easy, I know, I read it on the bathroom wall someplace," she said, laughing.

My red-headed Capricorn friend uses AOL as her main ISP. Just worked out that way, ease-of-use, the fact that it's so ubiquitous, and so on. Monday morning, my site wasn't pulling up on AOL.

I've really come to hate that service. It does account for a full one-third of my site's traffic, but apparently, they way it works, it doesn't always work. It's my personal nightmare, trying to handle folks complaining about AOL's service. "Is your site not working?" or "When are you going to update it?" My site's up and available, it depends on your own browser's pipeline to the source. My server is geographically in the middle of the United States, safe from flood, fire, earthquakes, and most local conditions.

She was complaining about a customer of hers, a client, and I was amazed at the similarities we share between our clientele. Folks ask for advice, then they fail to follow all the advice. Or even fail to do any kind of follow-up on anything. In her earthy yet worldly-wise way, she offered up some advice that I need to remember to dole out more often, "Hope is not an action."

I hope AOL gets better.

Astrofish.net, it's like astroglide
> astroglide.
> one of my favorite substances
> astrofish.
> one of my favorite substances.

Astrofish.net, it's like astroglide, only last longer, doesn't come off with soap and water, doesn't make a mess, won't offend your mother, [won't offend my mother, who are we kidding?>

Yeah, astrofish.net, it's like astroglide.

Psychic fair items
Damn, I love what I do. First, it was sitting next to one reader, listening to her go on and on about particular topic, only to realize that's what she needed to hear herself.

Then, along comes another client, and we stop to talk a little shop. Me? I'm fishing for a reading. Her? Nothing but nice things to say about me and my work. Then, there was an added bonus, too - comments got back to me about a former teacher, and why he lashed out at me so.

Or maybe not. Might just somebody trying to make me feel better, but that did work.

What really did feel nice was to hang around some friends from New Mexico, make tentative arrangements for a trip out there, and have ourselves a fine meal at Artz Rib House. Made my day.

Access to astrology readings
Off to work Saturday morning, in for what I hope is a full day of looking at charts, and trying to translate that in English, or, at the very least, a common language we can all understand.

Accesses per Hour
Hour Accesses
01:00 9,135
02:00 11,540

All I can suggest is that ya'll are up a lot later than I am.

Found this on the web, a link to a guy I've been linked to for years. A good astrologer, and someone who's helped blaze the path for us outlaw types.

Unrelated links, "Visor Cam #1, Visor Cam #3, and Visor Cam #4." In there someplace, is a couple of shots of this stuff I remember getting in a urinary contest with an editor about, I just tend to call it {{popup mustangv.jpg mustangv 320x240}}"Mustang Vine." Don't have a clue to what that plant really is.

Subscription information
By now, the word is out about Salon being on the brink of financial ruin.

Thursday sometime between 12 AM and 2 AM in the morning, my site averaged ten thousand page views per hour for two hours. Late night surf? Catching the latest update? Whatever. The numbers don't lie, but I'm beginning to wonder about what the readers are expecting.

A subscription-based model offends me. In fact, buying music or books online bothers me, but then, I have good access to a noble, if somewhat leaking, flagship of a bookstore, arguably the largest independent bookstore in Texas. Then there's a handful of good music stores, sort of a toss up between Waterloo and Cheapo Discs [914 N Lamar Blvd>. Plus there's the new age bookstore, also a wonderful place. However, at three in the morning, when I'm looking for specific title, one I know probably won't be in any local inventory, sure, I'll hit Amazon. Then there's my growing collection of Shakespeare DVD's. No place but the web for those oddball films. [I'm still looking for 12th Night, as a matter of fact.>

A friend of a friend, knew someone who used to write for Salon, back in the salad days. Made a lot more money than I did, for a column with a lot less heart, a little less cat, and no astrology prognostications.

The nut I can't crack, the basic problem, the business model, or whatever it's called. The way I look at it, all that traffic isn't netting enough income. Several of the smaller weekly newspapers, the "alternative press," have closed - it's not like that's a paying option to begin with.

I spent some time thinking about it all as I trudged around the trail in a torpid summer heat, the ground still a little steamy from the previous evening's rain. Rain was nice. Walking - felt like swimming - in the summer's heat wasn't quite as nice.

I finished reading a book a while back, and I was thinking about some of the subplot, a little aside about monster, sort a Texas version of Yeti, and maybe therein lies the answer.

Two highpoints for the day, one was just struggling unsuccessfully with software that's supposed to automate a task, and generate a beautiful page layout for handling the three hundred plus digital images I have archived. I just got a handle on how to manage a decade and a half of astrology columns, all those pictures? I'm still wrestling. The other highpoint? A quick chuckle, "Dude, how do you spell '69' in Roman Letters?"


Time management
One site I bounce through from time to time, especially after hearing the leader give good workshop at South By, is A List Apart. The recent article, rather thoughtful, about time management, caused me to think and examine my time management.

My day, when I'm in town and not working at an event, breaks down pretty easy. Roll out of bed and feed the cat, fix some coffee, swallow a handful of vitamins, and turn the computer on, have it gather up the mail for the morning, the overnight grab-bag of news, delights, orders, complaints, and spam.

Mail that demands immediate attention, \\i.e.\\, has money attached to it, that stuff gets attention first. Interesting bits get looked at, if there's a nice joke, I bounce it out to the joke list. The server's report usually comes through in the morning, and I check it to make sure that nothing is broken on the sites I tend to. I did notice that some folks have a hard time reading instructions, as the top of the archive page suggests that scopes don't appear before the publication date.

Although it was a dreadfully cold winter, I did manage to get in a few high mileage days in January. But after looking at the mail, the next thing I do, according to the planets, is write some scopes. I tend to work on an advanced publication schedule, and that requires a lot of effort and planning. My first priority, lately, as is has been for some years now, is to write first. Sometimes I avoid the phone, sometimes I don't. Depends on my mood. Or maybe it depends on the relative position of Pluto, still in Sagittarius, the Moon, and perhaps Mercury.

I realize, especially at my station in life, maybe I have something screwed up, but for the last few years, on hot summer days, the appeal of a short hike in the blazing sun, a quick dip in the cold waters of Barton Creek, and the return trip, these are important elements to a successful afternoon. Clears my brain. Washes the crap out of my emotional system. Gives me a chance to reflect and think about whatever pressing problem seems to be paramount at the time.

It makes for a good existence. Too bad the writing part, no matter how clever I'm assured the content is, too bad that's not meeting the bills. So then I schedule readings and client consultations. Even then, the calendar's been a little bare as of late, although, the continuing requests for free information still pile up.

I opted out of a number of events last night, but there was one duty I was called for that I couldn't avoid. One of my neighbors, a Virgo girl, wanted me to drop her off downtown so she could go drinking. "Here, take my car," she informed me, "and I'll get the keys back later. And NO cruising for chicks in my car." It's an older model Benz. "It's old, but it still looks good, can fool some people." Yeah, just like me?

Quick web story
Picked this up from Mefi: Pledge of Allegiance declared unconstitutional.

Of course, bowing to my basic Pagan sentiments, I just figured it should be "One Nation, under gods…."

Could just be me. I was amused.

City Lights Bookstore
It's a famous bookstore, most notable for a couple of the poets published in the early 1950's - at least that's where its fame started.

Sunday afternoon, foot loose and fancy free in downtown San Francisco got us to the cable car which then lead us Columbus Avenue, and that lead to City Lights bookstore. For me, it's some sort of a pilgrimage, each time I get a chance. The last few trips haven't included a trip to the bookstore, and this last trip was painfully short, between trinkets in China Town, chocolate and sushi, but I hit one of those turning points, a briefest spark when a single point in times makes all the difference.

A girl, a Virgo, was standing there, looking at the shelf labeled "Staff Recommendations," and a book, about halfway down the shelf, caught my eye, after the Virgo's figure. __You Can't Win__ by Jack Black. Follow the blond streaks to the curve of the hip, connect the dots, and there's the book.

This reprint has a William S. Burroughs introduction, a preface about the publishing company itself, and the original text, from the 1925 version of the book. For its time, that must've been an amazing book. Part autobiography, part fiction, part travelogue, maybe a little bit of everything. For my fine, literate sensibilities, and from a strict "slice of life" history, it's engaging enough. What makes it better, though, is the prose itself, making this possibly one of the first of the precursors to modern literature.

Just for stopping in a bookstore.

More in the comics
Donnesbury Reminds me I should find a better accountant, too.

Life imitates art
That cat cartoon.

Delightful in-flight dining.
Full Moon
The Shirt

I was trying to recall some the details from the weekend. I was forced to get up and make a toast on Saturday evening, and that was preceded by the little soliloquy about me asking all my friends in Austin how I was supposed to handle a toast. The advice, in triplicate, started with "First, you get good and drunk….." Not being exactly a "drinkin' man" these days, that sort of inhibits the first round of advice. I managed.

Sunday morning, everyone, and I mean everyone left the Bay area. Except us. Fredlet scooped us up, and we had the most amazing sushi. She's been hammering me about this stuff, and I've been there before, but the trip on Sunday night surprised even me. It's called a "Godzilla Roll" and the
hostess insisted on making it "pure evil." Whatever that means.

That special sushi roll was hot. A little later in the evening, the sushi chef held up a bottle of "habanera" hot sauce to demonstrate what give the secret ingredients their special zing. Ouch. Certainly appreciated it Monday morning, too. That's why I like hot stuff, I get to enjoy it more than once.

Money blues
"Let it rock - Keep it country - Whatever" - Ray Wylie Hubbard

I was working on a horoscope, the other morning, without consulting my bank balance, but definitely looking at charts, when I came up with a really good analogy involving 19th Century poetry and duck tape. When I got around to reading some news, I came across this: it’s a site I don’t read very often, but this appeal struck a chord as it addressed the question of funds.

When I went back to look at that article again, really, I was just checking the link, I realized that there was a piece to this puzzle that's missing. The act of creation, the time spent crafting up a set of 12 horoscopes for a week, that's time when I'm completely divorced from the harsh, economic reality of whatever is going on. In other words, I don't write scopes to sell products. In fact, I've gotten to where I can't even advertise products I don't buy, try out, and then embrace.

I'm particularly bad about asking for money. If I had a one dollar for each of the {{popup janstats.gif janstats 492x320}}2.7 million visitors in January, I'd be rich now. I'd be able to set back and just do what I like to do, manage a web site or two [4 right now>, fish, hike, travel, maybe go to see a movie every once in a while, and \\keep writing horoscopes that I find entertaining\\. Apparently a half-million readers find them entertaining. Even at a single dollar apiece - that alone would float this place and allow for some improvements - in fact, that alone would exceed my wildest expectations. It would buy me enough time to sort out the e-mail delivery problems each week, too. Shoot, I could buy a truck that didn't require open-heart surgery just to drive. Or health insurance, yeah, that too.

To be honest, I suspect that the numbers I get are little skewed, but still, at a more realistic estimate of 250,000 readers in a week, at $1 apiece, that adds up.

I've had more than one person get up from my table, walk away, and not pay. Some folks dash back to drop money on me. Maybe I should always ask for money up front. Maybe this should be a pay website. Maybe if the folks who spend more than 10 minutes on the website each day, maybe if they actually did drop a dollar in the jar, this wouldn't be a problem. From the tracking software, a fair number of folks spend around 40 minutes on the site. \\"We know who you are, and our server is tracking your web usage - logging your IP number."\\ As if anybody around here could be bothered with that. I scan stats long enough to see if anything major is broken.

I was digging through some of the archives, looking for something, and I noticed all the advertising and linked advertising I had in place back then. But along the lines of community, that idea of sticking random ads in the weekly column doesn’t work as it violates some kind of trust - not to mention it violates my own sense of ethics and aesthetics.

Besides, the point's been done to death - the advertising on web sites doesn't really work. That's the curse of a computer-driven model, exact impressions are available, as well as tracking the click through by the customer, and whether or not they actually buy something. That's a lot different from a glossy magazine that claims circulation in hundreds of thousands. Even if that's an audited circulation, how much of an ad is taken in? No click through count for a magazine ad.

Look at the design around here. The URL itself points to the weekly scopes, and at midnight, Austin time, it rolls over to the new week. No click through to get to the meat of the content. No complex messages with teasers and more advertising. No excess. No splash page. Sort of works well even in a non-standards compliant Netscape 4.7x [although images sometimes crak or overlap.>

I trimmed the buttons down to five, and the site index has everything that's available. One purpose of this journal is to write and give my thoughts a chance to crystallize. So what popped into my mind, I'll have to think about it, but maybe I should trim down some of what's offered via the index. "Less is more."

Reminds me, I cut back on my workload, too. No monthly overview, no yearly overview, just the stuff that is - or has been - financially successful and, more important for me, the most amusing. Weekly. The way I like it.

I'm off for weekend in the Bay Area for Sister's Celebration. But the server, that's paid for - until the credit card bills arrive, it'll be up and available, all weekend long.

still partly cloudy
I walked past the mailman, nodded and smiled, and I asked about the weather as I handed him two outgoing notes. I realized that he's been more accurate than the guys on TV, the radio, or even the internet. "Rain? Look at those clouds," he was saying, "there's not enough up there to spit." Short amble to the creek, soaked my head in the teal water, at the foot of the secondary feeder spring, thought about some stuff, and changed up a design, in my mind.

While I was strolling along, then sweating along, I did stop off for a requisite hot dog, convenience stores being the local equivalent of pushcart food vendors. Stopped and fetched up some coffee at Jo's, then some wandered home, mood much improved by fresh air and swim.

Still thinking on some issues, but I'll be gone soon enough, at least a weekend around my family should change the outlook. Then again, family being what it is, maybe not.

Partly cloudy on S. Congress Ave.
Started off - I sent bubba an e-mail about the evening's plan, "I'll have on shorts & cowboy boots." I know when he fetched the e-mail, he called me back **immediately** to make sure I wasn't serious. I was supposed to look at some office (studio) space for rent. That lead to an extra half-hour at Jo's, nursing a free drink. A woman passed by with a tiny but very significant tat, the letters "TCB" around a lightening bolt. After a round of phone tag, I had to postpone real estate shopping to make a meeting with a valued client, at Magnolia.

The welcome I got was reminiscent of the return of the prodigal son. My favorite little tattooed Sag friend popped in, grabbed her paycheck, and said "hello." First a Scorpio, then another Sag waited on us. Hours later, I was rolling down the hill, full of beans and a cornmeal pancake.

I stopped a toy store looking for a suitable gift for my sister for the coming weekend. Think I got it; I'm not sure but it might be the most appropriate gift. Rolled back a little further down the hill to Guero's where I waited for Bubba, watching the world go by and realizing that I'd spent most of the day sitting on patios located along South Congress Avenue.

Bubba called, at his behest, I ordered him up a the most heinous sounding margarita concoction I've heard of, the drink arrived, he arrived, everything was good. Didn't take him long to get wound up in the summer heat.

"Kevin Fowler: putting the "foul" back in country music!"

I heard that.

"Kramer, look, what we'll do is dye you hair red, you can do card readings here, you'll be called Tarrot Top..."

The clincher for the evening on the patio was supposed to be a cigar. I handed Bubba one, I had one, and mine was a brand I haven't enjoyed in years, a new label, so to speak. It knocked me on my butt. Strong cigar. Good one, and it got better as the evening wore on, but it also killed my final plans, wherein I was hoping to stop by and listen to music. Glad I didn’t wear cowboy boots with my shorts.

Drive friendly: Texas myth
As a frequent pedestrian, I often feel like I'm a target for people in cars. The most notable, most aggressive, frequently most distracted are the drivers in Stupid Utility Vehicles. Just a biased observation - on my part. More than one girlfriend has owned one of those things, and yes, they are fun to drive. The SUV's, not the girlfriends. Well, those were fun to drive, too, but I guess that's altogether different.

Instead of talking about it, as I've settled into my comfortable niche, what happens, time and again, my friendly demeanor gets taken as some sort of overture to something else. It's not. I am, by nature, either by my stars or by my upbringing, or maybe because I'm genuinely [stupidly> fond of humanity, a gregarious person. I've got a touch of shy about me, easily hidden under a quick joke.

I walked down to Barton Creek, took a dip in the cool, teal-colored waters, then dripped my way up to Jo's for "pulled pork," coffee and conversation. I was talking with my published, degreed [Michener Fellow, no less> poetess friend. She seemed disturbed that I was disturbed, but my frustration took a little explaining.

"With your site, you invite contact, especially e-mail," she pointed out.

"And at the top of the e-mail form, it says, 'questions are free; answers cost money.' Which is, in fact, at the top of all the e-mail forms."

With my hair still damp and matted from creek water, reeking faintly of moss, sitting in the shade on June afternoon with the whole world laid wide open for us, we kicked around from topic to topic. New house for her, new job possibilities - all that sort of stuff. The cute Sagittarius working at Jo's. That nice Aquarius. My barbecue pork sandwich versus her barbecue tofu sandwich. I kept thinking it was the Sex Pistols, only it sounded a little too tame for that - then "London Calling" came up as the next track. I was close, both in genre and historical time of the music.

None of this solves the original problem, but after listening for a while, and being called cranky, and after I explained why I was cranky - okay, I got no sympathy. Maybe a little, but I felt better as apparently poets and other published writers experience the same sense of frustration.

"I open doors - I open minds - telling stories - telling lies."

Love letters, business versus pleasure & etiquette
It's a fine line, as I was responding to a long e-mail from someone who claimed to be an astrologer and liked to read my material - for the insight and astrology point-of-view. It's not the first time I've gotten such notes, "I'm an astrologer, too" is the meat of the text, "so let's talk astrology."

This is where the trouble starts. Or ends because I don't have a lot of time to spend with other astrologers who rely on my work to help them. Not for free, anyway.

I suppose I should be flattered.

I can't immediately place the source, but the way I understand it, what I seem to recall seeing, a hobby is an activity or pursuit where folks get together and share information about that activity or pursuit. Hobbyists enjoy getting together to talk about what they do, the finer points of collecting something, or breeding something, or doing something - bragging rights. It's my business, though, not something I just do for amusement.

I joke about this stuff, and I'm continuously studying various aspects of human behavior. Face it, people fascinate me. Humanity, with all its foibles, inherently interests me. Through years and years of trial, tribulation, and a lot of hit & miss effort, I arrived at what I can, **and can't**, do for free. Sometimes I step over the line, and I do a little too much \\pro bono\\, but that's my burden, my ill-mannered business sense.

I haven't run many trivia question lately. It's just too hard to come up with a subject that can't be plugged into a search engine to garner a fast answer. Which is part of the problem with "free". Plus, an appalling number of responses to the trivia questions in the last year have been dishearteningly disengaged, \\i.e.\\, they didn't read the whole question.

What I find so annoying is the way some people presume familiarity, assume some bond that I don't get. Maybe this is a writer's question when dealing with the reading public. Maybe I'm too accessible. But I rather enjoy what I do. I've etched out an existence with it.

I've got a friend, in the legal department at the phone company. First time I met her, I joked about "fixing my phone bill," and she had a typical, Sagittarius-sarcastic retort for my comment and a tired roll-of-the-eyes gesture. It's not like she hasn't heard **that** comment before. That first time, I tried to get by with the "I'm only kidding" comment, but I don't think she bought it.

"So I hear you're into astrology," the conversation starts, "so am I. Do you ever read Cainer, Susan Miller, or Kelli Fox?" I'm sure that those writers don't consider me a peer. In fact, that last one created a legal headache for me.

Yet that's innate, egalitarian beauty of the web itself - it decides what stays and what doesn't. Look at who's still standing at the end of the dot-bust.

I happen to really love the work that I've chosen, but don't expect me to do this stuff for free. Got a question? Questions are free, but answers, from me, cost money. It's a lot like asking my friend at the phone company to fix an error on my phone bill. The phone company still owes me a refund.

Saw "Sum of all Fears" based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name, and for once, I can report, I didn't read the book first. I think, near as I can recall, that this is about the second Clancy movie I've seen.

But there's a way to see movies, and I learned most of it from one redheaded Capricorn. This time, though, I just didn't quite get it. See, what you do is get some Peanut Butter M&M's, and a big thing of popcorn, then nibble down the popcorn a little, add the M&M's, and shake the mess up. It's a delicious taste treat, on hot summer night in the cool and dark theater, with the light from the movie flickering across the screen.

There was a moment of horror, in my eyes, standing at the counter, realizing that the theater didn't have the right kind of M&M's. Bowing to convention, it's a Capricorn thing, we opted for Reeses Pieces and regular M&M's. The movie ticket cost $7.25. The popcorn and candy? $10.50. What's the problem here? The way to do it, and I realize this might be breaking a convention or something, but what strikes me as the way to handle a situation like this is to buy the candy, the proper kind, ahead of time. Even at a convenience store, where the price is, on the average, 30% higher, it's still a lot cheaper than trying to pay cash for that stuff in a theater. Again, this was a Capricorn trick.

Always go to the movie with a girl who's got a purse. Failing at that, at least wear something like my cargo shorts, so candy is easy to conceal.

That's the way to see a movie. The movie itself? Yes, well, sure, I enjoyed it, too.

Father's Day
So I got this call, "yeah, Kramer, I didn't have anyone else to call, and you kept saying, 'Who's your daddy?' the other night, so I called you."

Culture and pop culture
Which is Star Wars? Pop culture? \\Mythology\\ for a new generation? It has elements that might be traced back to age-old myths. But then, it's possible to analyze and deconstruct any tale like that, isn't it? [Imagine the occasional analysis I get of my scopes, along similar veins.>

My version of pop culture - talk on the phone with friends and family, stroll down to the creek for a swim, stroll back, stop off at Threadgill's to do a quick reading, meander up to Jo's for a cup of coffee, and back home. Saturday afternoons the way they should be.

Saturday nights, too: hang with the buddies at a party until the small hours of the night, and then, when most folks are good and liquored up, I ambled home. Safer that way, don't have to spend the night, and don't have to drive. Helps, I suppose, to be centrally located.

On the ay home, taking a shortcut through one of the park that line the river's edge, I could just make out a couple, one them [drunkenly> strumming a guitar. Then, just minutes from my front door: rain. A light clap of thunder, a distant roll, the wind shifted, and I caught the beginning of a good gulley washer. Seems like I left at the right time.

Star War & physics
Okay, so I got really bogged down with plot. Hated that part. Liked that the actors tried to act for change. Then I came across this site. What I did like, towards the end of the film, there was a space ship that actually made sense. Of course, it would be a "slower than light" craft, but I liked seeing solar sails unfurl. Watching light sabers flicker in the battle, though, made me remember something else, about how stage swordplay and real sword fencing are two entirely different types of action.

various Friday topics
More on design.

At his behest, I added a "site meter" to theGemini bubba blog page, and after the first 24 hours of reporting, I found that the average reader spends an hour and nine minutes on his page whereas the average reader on astrofish.net spends a mere 43 minutes. Which begs the question, who is average anyway? I mean reading this stuff.

Currently reading: \\Lone Star: A history of Texas and the Texans\\. Written by T.R. Fehrenbach. Only finished a chapter or two, but the stuff about the earliest of Texans [37,000 years ago> was good, as was the information about the indigenous population, and especially, the history of the horse [and the subsequent impact on \\several\\ cultures>.

Wednesday nights usually mean Bubba Sean, as we'll usually do something on those evenings. But after I took off the same shirt I'd been carrying with me for days, wearing for maybe an hour at the most, I was able to say I went 48 hours without having to wear a shirt. Reading, writing, walking - none of which requires anything more than shorts. Yes, if I thought I could get away with it, I'd wear a loincloth, but I am slave to fashion. Problem being, I can't go one Friday night without \\someone\\ calling me up to have party, or go out, or do something. So no, it wasn't 72 hours \\sans\\ shirt. But it was a close one. I think I'll shoot for that as a goal, next week.

The frightening fact is - live phone readings don't require much attire. As a personal point with me, I have to be clean before I can do a phone reading, but attired? That's not required. Watch the webcam some time, phone bud in my ear, talking, laughing, getting serious, but looking at the computer screen, the charts in question, the whole time.

I was listening to Robin, at the last show in El Paso, pontificate at length about this, "You know, I can be at home, in my underwear, scratching myself, talking on the phone for good money, so why do I do this?"

I laughed and agreed. But like I've observed before, even for a phone consultation, I have to be showered and shaved. I guess it's a personal thing.

At the command of the Virgo neighbor, I got up and out. Off to Maudies Too for dinner, joined by our sweet Pisces friend who is all excited about a working trip to Colorado. Sounded a lot more like a vacation to me, but who am I judge? We dined then caught the late show of Star Wars #5. I'm going in numerical sequence. Sure, the action was good. But I came out that movie raising quite the stink about plot. Way too much plot. What I want from an action movie is action. I want to see space ships crashing, stuff blowing up, deaths, dismemberment, carnage, blood in the teeth, gore, come on, what's up with this plot crap? I've got to see "Trainspotting" again. Now that showcases the lead's \\acting\\ ability.

The opening monologue [voiceover> is one of the finest in literature. Choose life.

I did a load of laundry last night, and while I was paused in front of the newspaper machine, I noticed a headline on the paper, something to the effective of "Priest Propose Zero Tolerance Policy." I'm not one to get up and rant about this stuff, especially the sad state of supposedly spiritual elders, but they didn't have a zero-tolerance policy before? Apparently not, and that's sad.

I'll stick to what I know, I'm reading books for fun, and charts for hire.

2 .com.au
3 .sympatico.ca
4 .jp
8 .com.au
The listings are edited down versions of the daily log file, and the only reason I clipped a bunch of the stuff - what I sliced was numbers. IP addresses, nodes and so forth. For the uninitiated, what I thought was important, was the endings to each, #2, Australia [and #8>, #3 Canada, #4 Japan. Highest amount of traffic is US, but the second is Australia and third is Canada?

It really doesn't have a lot of value to me, but it's nice to see exactly where everyone is coming from. I've done some conjecture, and Australia really isn't that weird, see, it's a vast, mostly arid space with lots of natural beauty, and wild natives and settlers. Like Canada, they both are affiliated with the English Crown, both are outlaws, and both sport a sort of hardy brand of rugged individualists, not unlike home in Texas, I would hope. They talk funny, but then, so do most folks not from Texas.

What was odd, too, was the idea that such a large number of hits are generated from points outside the boundaries of Texas and the US. Just strange how that works.

It's no wonder that I get such little local recognition.

Excellence in web page design
I read a bunch of books about "Feng Shui," and I moved some furniture around, plus I painted a wall, and I still didn't notice a big change. For a while, I ran around with a Feng Shui consultant, but that got a little weird, as this one person would apply the implied concepts to everything [and I mean \\everything\\.> I remember watching her scratch out a diagram to help design a better business card. Which got me thinking about applying these principles to web page layout.

The challenge is, though, how to incorporate everything, plus make sure that the material is compliant across a half-dozen browser platforms. I think one of the most telling demonstrations I've ever seen, courtesy of last year's SXSW workshops, was watching a panel lead grab a web page and then resize it on the screen, seeing how fluid the page was. What was funny, to me, that particular panel person, 1> won an award for design, and 2>, her page wasn't dynamic. However, to her credit, I use the same elements she used in her award-winning layout, basically a long column of text. Problem being, with a horoscope, the trend is to carve everything into a block for each sign and that generates 12 times as much work.

Around here, we want life to be simple, not complicated. It's the simple things in life. My wallet's a little sparse these days, so for an afternoon break, I did another 7 miles on the trail, stopped off at a pool on the way, grabbed a hot link at the convenience and a big coke, and called it a day. It's the simple pleasures that are important.

Cruising around on the web, I've noticed a lot of Flash splash screens, and on most of these screens, there's a little button that says, "skip intro." I wonder, is that a hint? Not many folks want to waste time looking at Flash animation for an introduction. "Just give me the data I seek!" is the familiar cry, I would guess.

But how does this wrap into Feng Shui? I haven't got that figured out yet. I look at the diagrams, I line things up with the "
Plus: remember that a huge percentage of the folks hitting my site are still using Netscape 4.7x.
That's bad, very bad. That version of Netscape is over 5 years old. Then there's also a smaller percentage coming in under that at version three, or worse, WebTV. WebTV has an incredibly small screen, and trying to get everything in on that size of a square is pretty hard.

I made some peace with myself, stuck with a fairly standard layout, and although it's not the coolest, nor the slickest, it works across what I figure must be the median average.

I figure the hardest part of trying to apply Feng Shui principles in web page design comes back to the point where the entrance must be, that's the center of the design. Where's the front door on a web page?

Maybe I should scrap it all, and just go back to plain text. But that brings us right back to the problem of text size. All I wanted to do was make sure that my site's format followed ancient and practical wisdom for working correctly in a modern world. Sort of like astrology.

Viral marketing & up the creek
A former editor and formerly close confidant will have a new book coming out about viral marketing. I've got to wonder, just a little, about how much of this was based on early work with me. Guess I'll have to buy the book and see.

The whole idea of sending out the scopes, for free, was based on a quick conversation with said former editor, a few months back. That's why they are called "experimental" as the feedback I've gotten is a little mixed. It runs in two, distinct categories, "I prefer the web page," and "I prefer getting the scopes in my mail."

With the web page, there's added benefit - from my point of view - of advertising, promotions, links, and the quote from Shakespeare each week. More fun, more interactive. Even though I have the website's extensive tracking program disabled, I can still get a thumbnail sketch of traffic, such as it is.

The e-mail distribution works differently. From the other day, I got three readings because one of the subscribers forwards the scopes onto another person. The other person called for a reading, and that would qualify as a success. What was funny, though, was the reaction to the scopes, "I don't usually read them, just sort of skim through…."

I sort of skimmed through Tuesday. Ma Wetzel was in town, so I strolled up to her hotel, had some lunch room serviced in, those Scorpio's sure know how to live in style, then I carried her suitcase down stairs, or rolled it on the elevator, patted her on the head, and took off for the creek. Hot weather, a trip by the post office, a dip in the cold water, all sort of works out the way it's supposed to. Ma Wetzel was less than understanding about watching me walk off, but routing for my little jaunt just worked out perfectly. Got to say hello to a homeless guy I know, so it was a little bit of everything, from a deluxe suite overlooking the capital to my friends who don't have a roof over their heads.

Up the creek
"Monday Monday…." That's how the song goes, right? Sure. I looked at the schedule and realized I had an afternoon reading at Romeo's and decided that soaking my body in cool creek water was the way to go. I showed at the appointed time, still damp from a dip in Barton Creek.

We have some intermittent rain in the last 48 hours, not really enough to break a drought or really abate the heat, but certainly enough to keep the springs flowing at a good pace. As I was floating in the creek, the clear water rushing past me, I couldn't help but notice the tufts from an overhanging cottonwood on the surface the water.

Something peaceful there. Something nice about really cold, clear water, the critters and children frolicking at the banks, the little white snowflakes tumbling off the cottonwood tree and drifting by on the current.

Then again, it's matter of choices that I make. I could get worked up over something, like the situation in the news [take your pick>, or I could just let it all slide. Timing is everything, and being able to hit it all right can be tricky. Fifteen minutes in the water, cool off, dining outside at Romero's patio, just right, still cool even though I was outside, hair still damp from Barton Creek. Stroll home in the glaring sun, pocketful of change, just in time to shower up and meet another client.

It's all good, I just wish my stomach wasn't left back there with the Mercury problems. I didn't make it through unscathed, but almost.

Astrology business model
There are no books on how to be a financially successful astrologer. I’ve got one, out-of-date handbook for writing and selling science fiction, but other than one story I successfully marketed in my undergraduate career, I found I did better working for a newspaper. That makes all of this rather experimental, on my part. \\There are no rules\\. __There are no guidelines__.

Prior to 2001 and its subsequent economic meltdown, this stuff worked pretty well as I was getting paid a meager fee for my work. But that mere pittance covered everything and allowed me my lifestyle. Despite the claims, I can suggest that the purported “market penetration” wasn’t nearly as deep as my former employers claimed. I get regular readings from my website, but I can count on one hand the number the folks who claimed to have read my stuff on AOL.

The lack of response from AOL could be a couple of things. Except for one, fortunate Jupiter transit, the company actively discouraged any contact with the writer [me>. I was incensed when I discovered that other writers were getting paid 10 times as much as me, but in the bigger picture, my column is still alive, and they've all fallen by the wayside. Could also be the idea that mailing a note to the writer might result in a loss of a sale on some other part of their site. Don't know, it's all academic now. Remember? No guidelines, no hard and fast rules. Another idea I've bantered about is the idea that the big astrology sites, at least the ones I've looked at, don't have much in the way of archives. I've got close to a decade of columns available, if you just dig. All starthere. [And here, and here.>

So these days, the model is a little different, and I’m sure I can adjust the business model, as I need to. It works like this, the web server costs money. Access to the web server costs money. Writing horoscopes and answering questions takes time. All of this is paid for by selling chart reports. That’s it. No 900 lines. Advertising revenue, I opted to try the “results driven” kind, resulted in a minor amount of money, just enough to pay for the server, but the effort to police the ads themselves, solicit the advertising, insert the code, and so forth really didn’t justify the effort.

As it stands, there are two options. Donations help, and, at times, those very donations have helped keep the server up and running. Both PayPal and Amazon deposit directly into the astrofish.net account. Which, in turn, goes to pay for the server and access to that that server.

The other choice is to actually sell the weekly column again. Regrettably, at least for a small operator like me, that doesn't work, as there are a number of sources for free astrology columns. Can't compete with that price. While I'm repeatedly assured about the quality here, the price can't be beat. My last marketing efforts yielded exactly zero, and after trying for several years, I'm giving up. They have to find me. You're reading this, you found me, I suppose I'll have to let the marketing guy go. "Hit the streets, dear, you're out of work."

> Re: astrology.com
> If you don't need an ego boost, skip this. If you want to hear about how
> much they suck and you rule, read on...
> I click on the link in the Cap scope. Leads me to an offer for a free
> sample 'Astro Identity Report.' What have I got to lose? I get my free
> sample. Just a reading for my Mercury and Venus placements.
> (\\i.e.\\, I got what I paid for.)
> I compare it to the FGS version. You're nice - they're stupid.

Keep on rocking in the free world. That free stuff is sometimes not even worth the time you spend getting here from there.

Happy eclipse
Eclipse action this coming Monday evening. Last eclipse I watched was in the fall of 1996, I think. I sat on the balcony of my north Austin apartment, and watched the moon disappear in the east, just after sunset. Unrelated news from "page six" [via red headed cap>. Sunday consisted of a lot of coffee and not much else.

The only item on my calendar was an Austin online journal writers social gathering. I woke up late and ambled off to the meeting with a Gemini guy, who, for the sake of clarity, is not called "Bubba" by any stretch of the imagination. The meeting went on for hours, and then, we all piled in various vehicles and took off for some Vietnamese cuisine. Just seemed like the thing to do. From unemployed to overly-employed, the crowd was its usual diverse group.

What do we talk about? "[blah blah blah> firewall compromised." "Hey, you can get a cream for that." So the jokes skated the border between geek and profane, but it's nice to chatter with other web writers, get in some good gossip. If you're not there, you might be a topic of conversation.

So it was coffee talk, table talk, and lots of other interesting bits of conversation, rather free-form, and afterwards, over bowls of noodles, I noticed that the only person of vaguely Asian [okay, so it's a \\stretch\\, my apologies> roots was using a fork while the rest of us were quite capable with chopsticks.

We were largely unsuccessful at clearing any of the places out with
Five miles of trail and a dip in Barton springs
Although that sums up {{popup bigdick.jpg bigdick 450x300}}Saturday
, this story has nothing to do with it: Hunter Thompson & Las Vegas, or the fact that this site is one year old [with my submission on it>:Blackmail Boot.

As I pulled on shirt before meeting a client Saturday evening [one must work when work presents itself>, I realized I hadn’t worn a shirt in close to 48 hours, the last time being sometime Thursday evening, early on. I wonder if that qualifies as success in life?

I was treated to dinner at the Alligator Grill, arguably most famous for a few scenes from Office Space. Afterwards, the girls wanted to stop at the Horseshoe Lounge for a quick nightcap. We ran into a passing acquaintance of mine, he took a look at me with three women, and asked what we were doing later.

The Virgo girl, ever fast on her feet, replied: “We’re going to flip a coin, and two of us get Kramer.” “So, what’s the third going to do?” he asked. “Somebody’s got to run the camera,” she replied, without losing a beat.

Never let the truth interfere with a good story.

Computers, Reading Glasses, and Mercury
Ron Carlson's \\At the Jim Bridger: Stories\\.

Mr. Carlson was teaching at Arizona State when I was an undergraduate. During his tenure, one of his stories got picked up by \\Playboy\\, and that put him, the university, and its programs on the map. He has three or four collections of short stories available, and I’ve always enjoyed them. There’s a bittersweet quality to the tales, each one is seems to be handcrafted, and sometimes, there’s a theme, and sometimes, the individual stories lack coherence. Inherent to the works, though, there’s a rhythm and some of the prose reads like poetry.

Hit the used bookstores to find a copy of his “News of the World,” a 1987 or so collection. I think it’s a classic. As I pulled a couple of copies of his books off the shelf, I discovered that his stories had a long history of publication in various respected magazines.

The funny tale I have, when his story came out in \\Playboy\\, I did buy a copy of the magazine, and my roommate [Scorpio> at the time, laughing, “You really **do** read the articles!”

While I was working my way through college, in Arizona, at that state university, I did fancy I knew something about typography as I was spending a lot of time typesetting materials. So with some books, I just assumed it was the print that was too small, or it was a typeface I didn’t like. I’m overly unfond of heavy serifs and the highly stylized text. But I might be getting old, as I recently purchased a pair of cheap plastic reading glasses. I can’t see anything out side of the printed page, and I don’t need glasses for driving, but I found, especially on late nights, in the dark of the night, when I’m already pretty tired, those glasses now make the difference between me enjoying the text or thinking that the typesetter was favoring form at the expense of content.

I spent a greater portion of the morning finally fixing the computer problem, in the process learning more about file structure and directories than I wanted to ever learn. So everything is right with the world. A late afternoon jaunt was cut short, as I noticed a huge thunderhead rolling in, just in time for rush hour. Austin must have some kind of karmic connection with weather – it always waits until the worst time to rain, almost as if it’s trying to cause the maximum amount of damage. Rain usually occurs at 8 or 9 in the morning, then again at 5, and sometimes, after midnight, just to confuse the drunks who aren’t supposed to be on the roads in the first place.

The way this works
Apple system software, the guys who organize the way my computer responds, has this "automatic update" feature. That's good.

What's not so good is that the automatic update I installed, which, in reality, I had very little to do with its installation other than typing in a password, and clicking a few buttons with the pointer.... Sure, the system runs faster but two of my "mission critical" pieces of software, \\i.e.\\, astrology programs and web design software are now effectively disabled - although "hobbled" would be a better a expression. Plus the webcam is not working. Again.

It's not like they don't work, but the process to get them going is long and painstaking, plus when I switch to those programs, my net access is cut off. For starters, I have to process astrology reports in batches, and that's more time consuming.

The first comment is surely going to be something along the lines of "what were you thinking, doing an update when Mercury was still stationary?" It's a maintenance upgrade, which should be okay. The first half of the stability and speed question, that works. So there's something screwy in the system at this point, and there's a not a lot I can do other than twiddle, tweak and fiddle with stuff.

I'm about tired of Mercury, but I find myself even more tired of the complaints. It's quite simple, really, just take it easy. Don't panic. Go slow. Everything takes three times as long. Listening to another reader, I heard the main points need to be stressed three times in a reading to get the client to understand the point. It's that simple. Amusing story: Microsoft ad pulled from the airwaves. The times I've seen that ad, I liked it.

As far as the signs go, I took a mundane morning and turned it into a spectacular afternoon, defining happiness, at this moment, by a big gulp of diet coke and an unidentified sausage [purportedly a hot link> on a bun. I was set to make it a car - less day, too, but I was sorely tested as another resident at Shady Acres, a Virgo, wanted to drive to Guero's, which, to me, is foolish. "But I ran 4 miles yesterday and 5 miles today!"

And I only walked 3.3. So? So I won, and it was delightful. Grab some coffee at Jo's, spin on up the hill to patio, have our favorite Libra wait on us, ran into a Gemini. Then, a little later, a Sagittarius, then, on our way out, we stopped and chatted with rising star, Danni Leigh.

She was a little shocked I remembered her birthday [Aquarius>, and she was pleased with my off the cuff predictions for her. The cool Capricorn guy she was hanging out with agreed with me, though, we both spent more time lusting over the car she was driving rather than the woman in question ['68 Camaro factory convertible>.

Maybe that's not right, but it was fun. I did have to listen to another Virgo analysis of Kramer, though, "You're just like an old, cranky vulture, you know, the one all the other vultures get out of the way for?"

I was amused by the comparison.

Mercury Bunkers
I had an early airport run Tuesday morning, and with the windows down, passing that big, convoluted intersection, where the highways become a spaghetti mess, I could smell rain. That aroma lightened my heart. Coming back from the airport with a Capricorn in tow, we did run into a few big drops of rain, but not enough to roll up the windows. The morning threat of rain got me thinking about this scene, from the other day.

So I was walking down hill from Jo's, or some place similar, and there was a huge house tabby cow cat, staring into the storm sewer at the edge of the curb. Cow cats are black and white, sort of a Holstein kind of a feline. As my feet slowed, and I hove into a position with a view better, I could see a pair of eyes, down in the sewer, a feral black cat, dim in the darkness of the street's storm drainage plumbing. Suddenly, there was a lot of hissing, spitting, tails fluffed up, and that cow cat was at a standoff with the feral feller.

As I approached, the cow cat nonchalantly sauntered off to the safety of the homestead, across the street.

The feral one, he kept watching me until I got rather close to the sewer's gaping mouth, and then he bolted down the pipe. I kept thinking, "Living in a storm sewer, not a bad place when Mercury is retrograde. Surrounded by thick, concrete pipes.... Safe. Defensible. Probably an abundance of live food, too."

Dealing with a recalcitrant retrograde Mercury is like that: you can hide, and you can figure that it's all good and safe, but then, along comes some unpredictable weather and washes you out of the safe place. Although, today's rain barely dampened much of anything - it was a nice respite.

From El Paso with love
Yeah, yeah, I was trying to riff on the old James Bond title, and I didn't do it so successfully. Between clowns and tears, and I'm not sure what to make of the weekend. Tears?

Sure, part of the business. I deliver bad news, or make an astute observation, and the tears can flow. I usually pack a few extra packages of tissues, just for that reason. I'll be looking into some large, limpid pool of some client's eyes, and I can see the moisture just gathering, "You going to cry," I ask, "here, I've got tissue."

So what soothes **my** soul after a couple of days of this kind of work? I was thinking about what I'd found out about Theobromide and decided I wanted to try some. Where else to get authentic Mexican food? For my money, El Paso has some of the very best. Mole, that rich, thick, bitter chocolate looking stuff. Oh my, oh yes. I still get a happy feeling thinking about it. One place I tried was particularly good. Don't recall the name of the place, but it was cheese enchiladas just swimming in the sauce. Almost tasted like dessert.

On my way to the airport, we stopped off at a discount place to search for an item for my hostess. Walking into the store, it had the right feeling, advertising "big lots" of almost second-hand merchandise. Good place to shop. Get this, almost better than the sign in , "Wedding Gowns, $99." If I ever get married again, I know where the "little lady" will be shopping.

Another weird one occurred when I was in that store, too, as I was writing down "$99 Wedding Gown," an
ELO tune came on the sound system. Ostensibly, this is now easy listening stuff, or, at least, retail friendly music. The part that struck me? I saw that band, in concert, in El Paso, back when that band was intact, coherent, and could fill a large auditorium.

Now, back to the title, "From El Paso with love," see: I was sitting in the furthest eastern reaches of the airport, yes, I got stopped by security again, and yes, it was supposedly a random check, although, I was pretty sure my T-shirt was suspicious. As if.

So I pulled up out the very edge of the terminal, and gazed westward towards the mountains. It had been a windy day, and by sunset, the dust almost obscured the view. It's not like the mountains were very far off, what, maybe a mile or two west of the airport? Still, there's something calming about the idea that the dust is still around. I'm pretty sure some of it made it home with me.

That Space Shuttle story
El Paso's history is, in part, best told through the army base [Ft. Bliss>, and by extension, its airfield. Goes back at least 400 years, probably much further than that, and with a timeline like that, modern-day airplanes are excluded.

One of the jokes off my joke list, one of those "funny tidbits" that's been around for years in one version or another is about the space the shuttle. I've long since lost the original document, but I'm sure it's out there, on someone's web page, someplace. It's about getting stuck in rut, and why things are done the way they are.

See: the space shuttle uses two booster rockets, one on either side. According to what I've been told, a single booster rocket would be more effective, so why the smaller twins? It goes something like this....

The booster rockets are built in California and have to be shipped by train to Florida. Train tunnels in the Rockies are a certain width. The original train tracks are [I could be wrong about this> 4 feet, 8 inches in width. The booster rocket size is determined by the gauge of the railroad. The gauge of the railway was determined by the standard, set in England, during the 17th Century. In England, the width of the railroad was determined by Roman Engineers, from the First Century. Their roads had to accommodate a Roman Chariot, two horses wide, and that width became the Roman Standard. So the design of the Space Shuttle was influenced by Roman Hierarchy and engineering that is over 2,000 years old. Talk about what happens when a bureaucracy gets stuck in a rut....

This came up because we had a quiet dinner in a restaurant close the hotel and the airport, and the entranceway was decorated with pictures from the Blue Angels, various dignitaries, and, of course, Shuttle Pilots and crews.

Natrually, the first point I was trying to figure out was why the place was called "Griggs," instead of something a little more Hispanic in tone. The Sagittarius server was no help with that question. But the food was good, except for one of those oddities, cole slaw was served as a side dish instead of anything else. Not bad, just different. Near as I could tell, that went back to the name for the place.

The clown
A clown visited the fair, I guess, to get a reading. I did pop his chart, a Sagittarius.

Marcus Aurelius notes
[Book 4, the beginning of verse 48>
"Remind yourself constantly of all the physicians, now dead, who used to knit their brows over their ailing patients; of all the astrologers who solemnly predicted their clients doom...."

Trying to hit that line between doom and gloom, and being particularly uplifting when I've been looking at the Sagittarius/Gemini eclipse cycle, Mercury has been retrograde with a vengeance, and Pluto was opposing Saturn?

The solace, to be found in the truck stop breakfast, or chain food dinner, or anything in between. Me? Personally, I'm just marking time until Jupiter pulls his happy self on into Leo, in a few months. Themes for the day? None that were immediately discernible but I'm sure something will occur to me before the weekend is up.

"Obscure cultural studies." [Most interesting college degree I've heard about.>

I did hit on a theme, but it's an astrological signature, not a single sign, a group of charts that have gravitated into my sight over the last week, all about the same birthday time, all with the same T-cross in them. That part \\is\\ strange.

Barefoot astrology redux
These things happen, no, they really do.

I was running a redheaded Capricorn's cat to the vet to get an insulin shot. She's out of town, and her cat ["My \\man\\"> needed a daytime dose. Then I stopped off for a quick dip in a pool, ran into a Virgo, and she sent me to the store for cigarettes and a coke. So there I was, a few hours before flying off for business, dripping wet, stinking of chlorine, pulling soggy dollar bills out of my pocket in hopes that I could earn that Virgo's good graces and catch a ride to the airport. Sort of weird, to be walking down Riverside, barefoot & dripping, in the spring sun.

Nice try. I still had to cab it over to the airport. When I got here, though, I tried something new: I walked from the terminal to the hotel. No shuttle bus, no ride, just my feet. Sort of weird, in this day and age, to be car less, but I liked it, for a change.

On the plane, it was a little weird, I was sitting across from a fierier, and the book I was reading, my airplane diversion was a book called \\Cross Dressing\\ by Bill Fitzhugh. Have to give that book a double thumbs up. It's about a soulless guy who's forced by circumstances to assume the role of Catholic priest, hence the title. But just having that title earned me a few funny looks.

Saddle up and fly off to El Paso
Bubba Sean had a nice entry about the ten commandments for driving. I was thinking about his ten commandments note, rather upset with a comment posted yesterday, and I was heading to Sam's for a grocery trip. Bumper sticker wisdom is big with me. I noticed that the car in front of me had a quote from the Bible, Galatians 6:7, the last part of the verse as the whole thing doesn't fit on a bumper sticker. Amazing how it all fit my sentiments, though.

It was one serious rollercoaster ride of emotions anyway I slice it up. While in the new Sam's, I helped myself, repeatedly, to the samples of trail mix and mushroom [something> chicken, then some cheese spread, then something else wrapped in toasted tortilla. At one point, feeling good because I was still under budget by my running total, I was pushing the big cart around and riding on it, skateboard style. One of the purveyors said it looked like I was having fun, and that included some banter about my childlike behavior.

Stopped off at a friend's, jumped in her pool, got home, unloaded the truck, took stock of the situations, and I decided a real dip in the Springs would be fine, so I hit the trail. On the way back, I stopped off for some BBQ, ran into a Gemini girl and found out she knows how to handle firearms. Never underestimate Texas women. So by the time I got home, I had that peaceful, easy feeling going. Clients' calls and then a minor emergency with the comments posted yesterday - as much as it pains me, the most expedient route was to erase \\all\\ the comments. Some fights, I'm just not up to. Call me chicken, suggest I'm a coward, call me names I've been called before, but I just didn't feel like it was worth the battle. Us losers, we turn tail and run pretty quick. I figure I'm smart enough to know when I can't win.

Which is really too bad, too, as the first comment [now deleted>, despite its tone, I thought the comment was rather clever. Good criticism, well-founded complaints, I'll take those, and leave them up. I never claimed to be right all the time.

It was a late night on the phone, talking with several folks, mostly clientele, mostly about Mercury and the lunar cycle. So it's time to hit the road, as it were, for another weekend of work. Hopefully, I'll find some For I am arm'd so strong in honesty
That they pass by me as the idle wind."
Shakespeare's \\Julius Caesar\\ [IV.iii.66>

Sounds like a parable, or maybe a short story. What it really refers to is slang, new slang, modified, new slang from
Bubba and Kramer. So last night, after a terribly weird Wednesday, between Virgo's and Pisces, toss in an odd Aries, I took a call from Bubba, "Hey, you doing anything for dinner?"

I was thinking about going up to sit outside and listen to some guy play music, right around the corner at Threadgill's. Last week was that wacky redneck Taurus, Kevin Fowler. [I was glad to see **THE T-shirt is available** through his website, although the offensive word is "fuzzed" out.>

It's an uphill hike to get to anyplace from Shady Acres. Through the neighborhoods, then out onto South Congress, and up that hill to Guero's, as the crowds at Threadgill's would have prevented Bubba Sean from doing what he wanted to do. A little tequila goes a long way in soothing an aching mind. We did, indeed, solve a number of problems our friends share. We did not, however, implement any rash decisions, and I had to correct him on part of his astrological rant about some things. No, you can't blame mercury being retrograde for everything.

Sitting in the evening's glowing twilight, the day creatures scurrying for cover, the night animals just starting to stir, a greasy bowl of very delicious melted cheese with a some steak bits floating in it, we had a chance to reflect on the day's events. Bubba Sean is new to the idea of written expression. He is not new to entertaining diatribes. He ambled along, after the requisite amount of libation and sustenance, and we wandered back towards the park.

I've also had the good fortune - or misfortune - of being published in a medium that had a huge readership, AOL. Deal is, I've been at this for while. It's always nice to watch someone else learn to deal with the problems, the foibles, the glee from getting read, that self-publish phenomenon. He talked about what to put on "the whore," and so we now have "the whore and the fish."

Prehistoric astronomy/astrology
Just cruising the usual websites, looking at stuff, I came across one link that led to another, which then led to this one and the question about early "star charts."

One conclusion, from one of those articles, the famous image of a bull [or similar creature> from the caves at Lascaux, France, is that the bull depicted was a constellation - for Taurus.

Remember, you read it here, first.

Memorial day holiday
There's this one Virgo, she's moved back to Shady Acres after a tour of the Northwest, and about 6, maybe 8 years ago, we sort of had a "thing." Call it what you want.

I met with clients and friends all afternoon, almost like I was camped out at this one coffee shop, and when I ambled home, I ran into that Virgo girl, "Hey, how long does it take to walk to Guero's?" Instead of making an ill-informed guess, I just invited myself along for the ride. Or walk. We met up with her friends, and then had us a fine evening, sitting in the bar. Her friend, a Pisces, brought along another buddy, an Aries guy. The waitress serving us? Aries. The other waitress? Aries. My afternoon? Aries. So there was a definite Aries flavor to everything.

The Virgo, the Pisces, and that Aries guy, all proceeded to get absolutely hammered on Guero's tequila-based libations. After a "queso flameado," I warmed up to the conversation.

Two interesting points emerged as the night wore on. One, was that Virgo and her comment about me, "Kramer, you're like a first car, you know, that convertible VW bug everyone has, right? You never forget it, but you're just too much work, you don't run very often, but when you do work, you're a lot of fun. And no one every forgets their first VW convertible, right?"

The other point? My experience, my string of luck, my concern about Virgo judgment and tequila at Guero's? My string is unbroken.

I had a good time. In fact, that Aries lad, a mere pup, was just the cutest thing. Them girls had their eyes on him. He's doll. "Kramer, take him out some time, show him how to work that magic you've got." Sure, no problem, just like trolling, always have to use good bait.

Other author's careful research
Theobromine. Chocolate. Theobroma cacao. Cacao, cocao. Coffee.

Music, music and more
Considering how late I went to bed, almost - but not quite - in time for the sunrise, the very fact that I was able to move by noon on Sunday was good. So my big plans for the holiday weekend? There was a show at the park, and I wanted to see the opening act, __Asleep at the Wheel__, a personal favorite.

In fact, the Derailer's opened and did a short set. Love their stuff. Then came \\The Wheel\\, and finally, the headlining act, one I was going to take a miss on, Travis Tritt.

Really glad I hung around for that last act. As my Virgo friend suggested, "Travis, he's a redneck. He's just a badass."

Travis Tritt played a lot of his hits, and then some other music, as well. I dug around on the web, and all I came up with was his official web site." Which was kind of bogus, after the show I saw. He's an entertainer of rare qualities, working the crowd like a circus ringmaster, and paying homage to Southern Rock, Redneck Rock, and Country Music. Equally. It was also a rock show. Except it had country elements. Covering "Copperhead Road" and "Sweet Home Alabama," and at one point, it was just Travis on stage with an acoustic guitar. Better yet, he was trying out a new song, just done in the studio - and it worked with the crowd.

It was hot, sunny until some clouds blew in at dusk and cooled everything off. I was wearing a straw hat with a wide brim to ward off the sun's rays, the hat creeping lower and lower as the dusk approached. And I had on the Kevin Fowler shirt I like so much, on the back, it big letters, it says, well, never mind that now. It's crude. Wandering around the show's grounds, a couple of guys came up and asked where to get a shirt just like that. I pointed to the front, "Kevin Fowler merch. You usually have to ask for it - they can't display it." Yee-[something>-haw.

Since I paid for lunch and the tickets into the show, I was trying to have fun, so we headed over to the "festival food," and I got to use pejorative expression, "[Woman>, get me a turkey leg." My friend was amused, and played along, at least for little while. Looking at the crowd with jaundiced eyes, she kept making remarks about how certain characters were "genetically challenged," as their appearance or behavior would lead one to make such a conclusion. Apparently, her Virgo self had never been to a real country show.

Me? I thought it was pretty cool. I liked it. A little outlaw, a little fun, and the performer knew how to work a Texas crowd, liberally sprinkling local references into his show banter. That, plus his actual stage show was pretty close to a classic rock sound. Classic, Southern rock. We were **almost** expecting "Freebird" as a closing song.

It's just such an odd combination, running into friends at the show, a Pisces, her Scorpio husband, the aroma of Nag Champa incense heavy in the air next to a booth advertising "Henna Body Art." At a C&W show?

Coffee and unrelated material
How it works. But, in a repeat, Chocolate does **not** have caffeine. Imagine that, factual fallacies on the web.

Watched a fish "weigh - in" just around the corner from the trailer park, that was, to say the least, pretty weird. Half dozen bass boats, and from the sounds of it, the winning fish was a mere 2 and half pounds. For the lake in the middle of town? I'd throw that stuff back.

"So what sign are you?" asked the Taurus I was chatting with the other evening. Sagittarius, just plain and simple, harmless, even, being my reply. "You know what's best for a Sagittarius?" No, what? "A ball gag," said the Taurus.

I did spend more time than I wanted on trying to do the "Moveable Type" installation, to upgrade the journal software. Didn't work quite right - might be me. Might be Mercury, too.

Gemini Rain
I went to a Gemini birthday part Saturday night. Stopping at the liquor store before hand, to grab a six-pack of Lone Star as a birthday gift, I ran into a Gemini at the store. Sort of set a tone...

The party was at the compound - three houses - and they are situated just off a very busy street and the access road to a major northbound artery, right at the corner of 6th Street and Mopac. The corner is an off-camber, decreasing radius blind turn. It tempts speeds in excess of the posted limited. To compound the situation even more, there's an additional merge ramp - fortunately, at 2 in the morning, that one feeder road isn't used too much.

For most of the evening, as partygoers drifted in and out, I sat on the porch of one house, watching the lightening flicker in the distance. "Nope, not going to rain here," one guy kept holding forth. Never mind the fact the area could use a good deluge or two, as the local rainfall's been rather sparse this year. Thus far.

But the blind corner? One resident, a Cancer, came out to the porch, turned his chair around, at first, I thought it was to watch the lightening. Then it all became clear. "Four minutes," he said, glancing at his timepiece, "until the first one."

It took seven minutes, but just about the time a few big drops of rain fell, there was the sound of tires spinning on asphalt, a flare of brake lights, and the first spin of the evening. An F-150 executed a picture-perfect, out-of-control slide. Textbook case of how not to drive on slick pavement. It was hilarious. After that first slide, the rest of the party turned their collective attention to the road and the entertainment.

A couple of facts need to be collated. It was two AM. In Austin, the liquor stops at this hour. In fact, by "bar time," at 2 AM, the liquor faucets had been shut off for 15 minutes. Then, consider that we haven't had any rain for while [and ignore the obvious tenet that Texans are notoriously bad drivers on anything remotely slick>. And, 6th Street is an avenue, about two miles down the road, which is literally lined with bars.

At one point, one guy was desperately trying to explain the physics, "See, it's mass and velocity, and you combine the two, and...." "Volume. Don't forget to factor in the alcohol volume. That adds to the equation."

That one resident continued to expound on his theories, too. "It's usually an F-150, not because they're bad drivers, but because that's the most common vehicle on the road," he said, "or an SUV." In either case, but especially with a truck with no load in the back, that corner must be easy to slip around. Just as he made his statement, another truck did the slip and slide, coming to a rest, pointing in the wrong direction.

In the hour, the party all gradually drifted down to corner, to get a better view. Close to a dozen vehicles did the 180 degree drift, taking the corner too hot, then realizing it as the back end broke loose. We started cheering for the losers. Maybe it's mean, perhaps it's callous or something, but the cheering got louder and louder with each spinout. The party was mostly intoxicated folks, in varying degrees of inebriation, but none of us were driving home that night.

There was, by the time I left, about a dozen or more spins. At least one white BMW did a full 360, and one SUV almost matched it, doing 3/4's of a full circle. Finally, one truck driver, his windows down, couldn't help but get upset because we cheered so loudly for obvious mistake. That driver had hard enough time pulling the truck back away from the curb.

Friday night, I listened to my friends play at a club. They closed with "Twilight Zone" previously alluded to, only, done with a definite country flare, maybe a touch of blue grass? Banjo, guitar and a guy in a cowboy hat singing the lyric, with a soulful, South-Austin, Texas twang. One of their opening numbers was a Townes van Zandt tune, with the lyrics about going to "down to the highway and listen to the trucks whine." I thought about that, as another truck passed by, the back end fishtailing pretty good, then the driver, obviously not that intoxicated, steering into the slide, and bringing it back under control.

Life is good when you can sit there and watch the vehicles slide around. Best of all, though, is imagining the sheer panic as the tail begins to lose its grip, and the brake lights flare. It's perfect.

Party weekend
Unprotected sex is better for the woman?

Unrelated links, but of interest, especially in the current political climate, the top three items, particularly the Pearl Harbor tidbit.

Apples are going to go faster?

Also from the Register, 'net ad revenue falling? [Like that's some surprise?>

In our litigious society, seems like settling is more important than dragging ourselves up in front of the judge. [In case you're wondering, this web journal is record for myself, more than anyone else, of the random thoughts, patterns, and whatever else flows through what is perceived as my mind.>

Bubba [that Bubba, not the other one, or that other one from the other night> was a bit under the Mercury weather, so we all had us a fine meal at Hoover's. The special was "smoked Boudin" and if you don't know what "Boudin" [pronounced boo-DAN> is, don't worry. Louisiana sausage, thick, rich creamy, probably full of all sorts of nasty stuff, but mighty tasty even exceptional in the flavor department. To go with the Cajun sausage, I had a side of Mustard Greens and some of the very best Fried Green Tomatoes I've had in a long while.

Then it was off to the Carousel Lounge to hear some friends play. Once again, it was one of those magical shows. Under that "Drinking Moon," they sang songs about the heartland [Texas>. I'm not sure, but I'm starting to think one of their best original songs has this great line, "For God and Texas, I hope Fannin's on his way..."

End of the world news
That's actually the title of a book. But I need a distraction or three. With India and Pakistan on the verge of nuclear war, Pluto opposing Saturn, and Mercury in a backwards state, distractions are important.

Chocolate does **not** have caffeine?

I clicked through on a link back to my page, and the random text read, "Just get me some cookie dough ice cream and get out of my face." Funny, that link's author was the source for the quote in the first place.

Other coincidences for the day? One flavor, really, just Gemini. By the end of the day, the only sign I actually talked to, all day long, was Gemini's. I think it totaled out at 4, plus or minus standard deviations for statistical control, doubling up for the twins.

My Gemini friend Bubba [not that Bubba, the other one> had a pair of tickets to a David Bowie Record Release party. Supposedly, it was some big deal. It wasn't. The flip side, my married friends with young daughters, the parents don't seem to be quite as much fun as they used to be. The night was young, bands in half dozen bars were just getting started up, one place had an eclectic group starting, and my buddy was too tired to stay out late.

Blame it on Mercury, that's what I said.

That new David Bowie album? "Let's dance." Or, as one of the lyrics goes, "It's always 1982...." [David Bowie, \\Heathen\\, in stores June 11>

Mercury Retrograde, running on empty
While clearing over six miles on the trail Wednesday afternoon, I paused long enough to watch a hilarious scene from nature. One blackbird [boy grackle> was being hounded by three girl grackles.

He hopped away, spread his wings, and them three girl bird kept after him. All I could think about was an Eagles song, "Take It Easy". I'm not familiar with the common grackle's mating dance, but from what I could observe, I'm pretty sure that little henpecked dance wasn't part of the usual ritual. Boy had himself three chicks, all hot after him. Lord knows, he probably didn't do anything wrong.

See: it's Mercury's fault.

There's an inherent fallacy with that statement, calling that male bird's problems "Mercury's fault." It's not like Mercury did anything to that bird. Or, for that matter, did Mercury do anything to me. Or any of the communications. Mercury isn't at fault. Its orbit hasn't changed. Its "errant ways," though are caused by its apparent retrograde motion.

The symbol, as this crudely hand-drawn image {{popup mercury.jpg mercury 240x320}}shows, is like a Venus symbol, only it's got little antennae sticking out the top. Just as a side note, when Mercury is in apparent retrograde motion, astrologers add {{popup mercuryRX.jpg mercuryRX 240x320}}a little RX symbol to denote this observed phenomenon.

Mercury is associated with Communications [Gemini> and mental processes [Virgo>. In old fashioned astrology, the term bantered about is that "Mercury **rules** these signs." The first problem is with the term "rules," as that denotes a patriarchal system that no longer seems applicable. I may be a sexist pig, but the patriarchy is going to fail and fall - read the handwriting on the wall. So I'm actively trying to get away from the term, "rules." Let's just suggest, for the time being, that Mercury is heavily associated with those two signs, Gemini and Virgo, and the behaviors associated with those two signs, communication and mental processes.

It's all about flavor. Suppose, you're like me, and you have a natal Mercury in Sagittarius, then your communication and thinking tends to be rather Sagittarius in essence. When I was a kid, I built a "crystal" radio set. It was basically a copper wire antenna, a headphone, and a little wire that poked a piece of crystal that served as the tuner. So, in a natal chart, that crystal **is** the tuner. That crystal has a flavor, as each chunk of crystal is unique. In my case, my natal crystal is Sagittarius. That means I tend to receive the incoming radio waves with my own, Sagittarius flavor attached to them.

When {{popup mercuryRX.jpg mercuryRX 240x320}}Mercury is Retrograde, the crystal in the radio picks up stray signals from all over the place. Maybe it's something bouncing off of a sunspot. Perhaps it's a shortwave transmission from another part of the planet. It could be your neighbor's wireless phone. With a crystal radio like that, the tuning was done with a thin wire poking into the center of the crystal. To change reception values, that is, to get a different channel, the little wire's location, relative to the heart of the crystal, had to be changed.

So standing here on Planet Earth, looking up at the heavens, the position of Mercury seems to be moving in pattern that is not consistent with the fixed stars. Hence the term "retrograde," as it looks like Mercury is moving backwards when it's compared with everything else. Happens to all the planets, at some point during the earth's orbital cycle. It's the mechanics of the solar system, regular and predictable.

The way any individual interprets communications, and then, how that person analyzes communications has to do with what sign the natal Mercury is in. At the heart of the radio set, there's that crystal. Mercury is like that crystal. So right now, Mercury is backwards in Gemini. What's that mean? That's one influence on the scopes I write. Or on that poor, pitiful blackbird being hounded by those three girl birds.

Poor guy - must be Mercury's fault.

Late night web adjustments
From the traffic logs, I figure either Saturday night or Tuesday night is about the slowest time for traffic on my website.

Which translates, to me, as the best time to do a little routine maintenance. I finally found an ace web guy who could do just what I wanted, understand my level of ability perfectly, and he knocked out a dozen lines of code - for dirt cheap. I hate to take advantage of some under-employed software expert, but I'm a lot more interested in writing horoscopes, and a lot less interested in coding. Content management for a weekly column is relatively easy, too. Especially now.

I did have to tweak, massage, and otherwise work the problem, but content delivery is one more step closer to being **one hell of a lot easier** for me. Now, if I can only come up with the remainder of cash that I owe the guy. And if you know anyone looking for an excellent computer nerd, let me know. I'll speak highly of his work. Clean, tight code, written to my exact specifications - with clear instructions for installation. Doesn't get any better than that. I love it when something works the way it's supposed to, right out of the box.

Suzi's and Jo's
A couple of South Austin haunts, one new, one more established.
Suzi's Chinese Kitchen has been around for a spell. I think they even have an alternative place, way up yonder in North Austin somewhere - but don't hold me to that. I scooted along the railroad tracks and hung out in my favorite bookstore before arriving at Suzi's, a few minutes late and out of breath.

From a relaxing lunch of garlic-something-something-chicken, I dropped down into the creek bed, walked along the bottom of the dry creek for a spell, and then headed up and over to Jo's. Along the way, the first flower I encountered had white petals with a purple heart. Then it was more purple flowers. Seeing as how purple is the color associated with Sagittarius, I was starting to drift off into a garlic-something-chicken haze. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, roll down the hill and stop at Jo's. I was noticing the female behind the counter, and she's one of the few I never asked her about her birthday and stuff before.

Sagittarius, figures. "Are you Kramer?" Yeah. "At least 6 or 8 women been in here looking for you, always asking me about you. They said you'd have a cowboy hat on. I've never seen you in a cowboy hat." Jo's, a little east of here, and no, I don't usually wear a cowboy hat when I'm on the hike and bike trail. Just figures she's a Sagittarius [not to be confused with the Cancer or the Taurus who both work there>.

Monday night sushi
Walking along under a [relatively> cool, clear spring sky, for just one moment, Monday afternoon, all the troubles in the world slipped away. I was more observant of folks on the hike and bike trail, and I was noting how I was more of a median average with my long hair, except I keep mileage to a point where I don't find it necessary to carry water with me. Training is everything.

My stops, I had a couple, included picking up a hot link, a tasty morsel of miscellaneous animal part stuffed and cooked, plus a big gulp of soda, plus the added bonus of three correct numbers on a lottery ticket that paid for it all, just made the afternoon slip into a mind-numbing sense of well-being. Didn't hurt that I intentionally left the pager and cell phone at the trailer when I left.

I didn't go far, and I did contemplate a quick dip in Barton's Spring, but opted to save myself for later. I barely got around to returning my morning phone calls and there's some mail I never did get a chance to respond to, but I decided to take it easy instead of beating myself into a senseless frantic mess trying to accommodate everything. One too many people with apparent Mercury problems.

My Pisces friend calls up, she's having "a day," and we agree to a little dinner, winding up at South First Street Sushi on a Monday night. We walked in the door, and there was the sushi chef dressed in a brown polyester suit, with rather wide lapels, the pockets and the huge bell bottoms trimmed with faux leopard print, a dashing red fedora with a long blue plume stuck in it. He said something, then took a big swig of sake, then said something to the effect of him not wanting to be able to see by the end of the night.

This is a scary: Monday night is sushi, disco and karaoke. Vintage 70's music was playing, a little too loud. See: this place has been, for the last few years a quiet refuge, a place to get decent Japanese and Korean cuisine on a week night with minimal, however good, ambiance. Muted, one of those places tucked away in a strip mall, serviceable, with none of the trappings, nor the expense, of a fancy place.

For a Pisces, I would have to suggest that sushi makes tolerable good comfort food. Usually makes good bait, too. As the evening wore on, a group of recent graduates from The University [that would be UT> joined their table to ours and the party hit full-speed. "I hope you don't mind us joining you," the Scorpio asked. "One, two, five girls and Kramer? It's not a problem!" The Pisces responded.

Scorpio, Taurus, one Sag guy, a red-headed Capricorn, and a Gemini. Plus me and the Pisces. Well, what did you expect?

We cut out shortly thereafter. Karaoke is a scarier proposition at best, and drunken young men singing badly, off key, out of harmony and with miserable backup music just doesn't get it. It was entertaining. Very entertaining. Reminds me why I don’t even pretend to sing, too.

Wrestling, fishing TV shows and politics
I'd started an entry, based on national political intrigue and what I was watching on TV in the hotel, Saturday night. That entry got bumped, then I read fredlet's journal entry about the very same topic, and I thought I could try and work through this stuff again.

Midland Holiday Inn, Saturday night. Worn out from trying to look alive and talking all day, I collapsed in the hotel room, a copy of \\Cross Dressing\\ by Bill Fitzhugh on the bedside table. I flipped through a couple of channels, trying to find something to occupy my time. I chanced upon "WW [something> Wrestling Mania" something or other. Perfect, a little controlled violence, and you know, it just sort of fit with some of the outside perceptions of the area.

It was either wrestling wherein a huge males were posturing and threatening each other in rather childish ways, or news feed about the way the current administration knew about 9/11 before it happened; how the current office holders pointedly ignored warnings about impending doom.

Last week, the week before, sometime, one radio station called and asked me for information about UFOs, aliens and abductions, that sort of thing. There's a great "Calvin and Hobbs" strip that succinctly gathers up how I feel about that, with Hobbs suggesting that proof of intelligent life in the universe lies in the fact they've never tried to contact us. To take this cartoon comment one step further, I don't really think the government is smart enough to hide too much from us.

So, TV wrestling, with gaudy, mawkish personalities posturing about who's going to take whom down? Click the remote and listen to some talking head go on and on about how the "administration" \\ignored\\ dire warnings? Sure. For me, I just couldn’t tell the difference between the two, although, let's be honest, the wrestling guys were far more entertaining. But that fine line between their collective behaviors? Those accusatory news types were almost as bad - maybe worse. At least with the wrestling show, I knew what I was getting. With the news, all I can say I was sorely disappointed.

Somebody needs to grab one of those talking heads and smack them over the head with a folding metal chair. Worse yet: as a rule, I tend to be very circumspect of Right Wing Republicans. But I think we need a "cage match" to settle our questions. Has American politics come to this?

Now, Sunday morning, after watching the posing on the wrestling shows, I happened across an article, more a blurb, in the newspaper, about how fishing TV shows were staged. Fake, as it were. I couldn't believe that, either. Wrestling? Don't start me. But fishing shows?

I'm not going to waste too much bandwidth on the question of whether or not our beloved, esteemed president knew about the attack in advance.

Sutton Steak House
The opening lines to Hunter Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" kept coming to mind....

We were rolling out of Midland, TX no later than 6:20 PM, and we were all hoping to make that place in Sonora by dinnertime. We didn't make it before the place closed. There had been grumbling from the backseat of the truck as one of the travelers was bereft of her usual pillow. First, we ambled into the steak house, had ourselves the special [approximately 4 pounds of beef, piled high on a single platter, a baked potato, salad & etc., priced at $11/person>. Then, I started asking, not just one, but every waitress within earshot if they had a pillow. Or where we could buy a pillow, at this late hour, on a Sunday night, in West Texas. I'm not kidding, one woman, told us that the "five and dime" was closed on Sunday. When was the last time you heard it referred to as the "5 & Dime"?

Maybe understanding life along the interstate highway system is important. Attached to the Sutton Steak House is some kind of a motel. Or maybe the restaurant is attached to the hotel, who knows? But everyone I asked suggested trying "next door; they've got plenty of pillows there." So while everyone else piled into truck, I dashed next door, and caught the clerk a little off guard. She hung up the phone with an "I'll call you back," put the TV remote down, and asked what she could do for me. "How much is a room?" We did the song and dance for room prices, then I asked how much for just a pillow. She looked at me like I wasn't all there. I explained that I would have to ride in the back of the truck if I didn't procure a pillow. She went in the back room, brought one out, and flipped her a fiver. "Hey, it's free." I thought the tip was well worth the effort.

My buddies were making like they were going to leave me when I showed up with the pillow. Oh yeah, who is **the man**?

The trip back was otherwise uneventful. While we stopped for coffee, and a clean restroom in Fredricksburg, I noticed something else, almost unrelated, there was a Hank Three song on the radio. "Uh, yeah," said the redhead behind the counter, "it's a Kerrville station,, I think." That was too cool. I do believe I succeeded in making at a least a few folks share in our surreal experiences for the evening.

Crazy circuit
"It's a crazy circuit/But still you work it" [\\Cadillac Cowboy\\ by Chris LeDoux>

It was a long ride out to West Texas. First sign we were out of Austin? "Welcome Hunters!" Looking on a map, Midland is almost at the little SE corner of NM. It may be named because it's halfway between Ft. Worth and El Paso, but it doesn't feel so close. We stopped in Sonora, TX, for, basically, we rode 200 miles so the girls could have some nachos. "Aren't these the best you've ever had?" 200 miles for nachos? [La Mexicana Restaurante - 308 A Highway 277 North, Sonora, TX>

One of my all-time favorite images was from a sign in front of a Midland pawn shop. Which was one stop on Friday afternoon. Me? I found a local fave, \\The Cornell Hurd Band\\ CD, in the discount bin. Good enough for me.

At dinner on Friday night one of the readers was bragging about where she'd been, "I had lunch at the Petroleum Club with...." "Petroleum club? What, did you have gas?"

Conversations with psychics, imagine a discussion that starts out like this, "Did you ever notice that there seems to be a higher incidence of infidelity with clients in El Paso?" All I could answer, was "Huh?" "Sure, don't you notice that no one sleeps with their husbands in El Paso?" No, not something I noticed as being geographically specific. Maybe I attract different clients, though.

More than once, I had to explain why I liked this area. My work involves talking to people. It's not about the inside of hotel conference room, what I see are people and their charts. It's the people I meet in this area that I'm so fond of. A little quirky, sure, but then, it’s not like I have a lot room to complain about idiosyncrasies. So I like it here it a lot. Not so much that I'd **move** here, but as long as I get paid, I'll keep showing up and enjoying myself.

\\Cross Dressing\\ by Bill Fitzhugh

I've loved the author's other work, only books I've read so far, but there's that zany combination of elements and just bizarre stuff, a little Left Coast, a little southern, mixed all together.

But what's even more fun? Imagine my traveling companions' reaction to me pulling out a book with that title - while skating along through "High Redneck" country.

Get fuzzy

Radio thoughts and the road
Coincidences, I guess, the morning show producer is an Aquarius lad, from, of all places, Odessa, Texas. Where, in a few short hours, I will be. Again. Just happens that way, near as I can tell.

Worst part of my day? I finished reading \\Triggerfish Twist\\. Almost fifty chapters, and just about every one ends with a twist and chuckle, if not an outright laugh. High body count, too. And funny, very funny. Extremely taut writing.

Lombardi Gallery [or Gallery Lombardi, I suppose, would be more correct?>

"Dude, there's a typo in the Capricorn scope."

Of course there is, the cat's a slacker, and Mercury is retrograde.

So weird
It's not even 11 AM yet. I've been up, walked up to the radio station, talked for two hours, one song came on, and I started to dance to it [in the studio>, I looked, and suddenly everyone cleared out. Guess I can't dance. I'm not offended in the least; it's just my heritage. Ran into a Virgo in the parking lot, ate at Las Manitas, and I'm done for the day. And it's not even noon.

Slipping into the twilight zone
"Help I'm steppin' into the twilight zone/The place is a madhouse/Feels like being cloned/My beacon's been moved/Under moon and star/Where am I to go/Now that I've gone too far" [Twilight Zone by Golden Earring>

Late at night, a few nights ago, I was searching the airwaves for the station I'm supposed to be on, and the "oldies" sidetracked me. That one song came on - it fit perfectly as I was looking for Texas ghost stories, preferably local ones. I didn't find much that was news to me. Yes, I feel like I'm stepping into a twilight zone.

We clocked 7.1 miles on the trail Wednesday noon. Ate, along the way, at Hut's Hamburgers [motto: "Thank God for Hut's">. Stopped off at the "new" [remodeled> Ruta Maya. Was duly impressed. Got a good cigar pointer from the guy in the humidor there.

Stopped off, along the way, somehow, at an art gallery - the place that fronts onto the spot where the Cedar [something> pub used to be. Directions don’t get much more obscure than that, but for a few minutes, we were whisked away by local art, we wandered in the "showroom" - converted warehouse - looking at some pretty amazing stuff. [And I didn't write down the URL and now I can't find its location on the web, bummer, might've been a cool link.>

Radio station, ghost stories? Slipping into a twilight zone.

Mark Twain [Mercury Retrograde>
Some people collect stamps. Others collect coins, pinks slips, traffic citations. I built a database, years ago, of my favorite quotes. So, one time Mark Twain wrote:

"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."

I couldn't think of any better Mercury Retrograde advice myself.

I love the BBC website. Love that British News as it arrives a few hours earlier than the local stuff. Love that it's in English. Love the way they believe in horoscopes. Too bad I couldn't believe this one: Sagittarius - the best sign for a no strings fling for you? Scorpio. Mercury is in apparent retrograde motion, I shouldn't take anything serious, especially that advice. Matter of fact, that's really bad advice. But it could just be my own bitterness. That's the problem with canned horoscopes, can't really trust everything they say.

No string attached? Scorpio? Maybe it's a joke. Must be. Love that British humor, too.

There were a couple of rightly timed pauses, and much verbiage, throughout Tuesday's meanderings. Started with my Cap friend and long hike on the East Loop of the trail - clocked it at 5.8 miles. Then Bubba and one of his Sag coworkers swung by and we headed up from the river's edge to Guero's for a light dinner. Pretty interesting: oh to be young again when dinner was just chips and a few margaritas. "Hey, the drink, it's got fruit in it, right?" Whatever, \\dude\\.

For a change it was me knowing people, but Bubba's commentary was pretty good, at one time a Virgo wandered by [on the way to Toni Price's Hippie Hour>, that Pisces joined us for a couple of drinks, and Bubba got around to that apocryphal tale about the early years.

The tales got so tall and improbable at one point, that yes, I did choke on my ice tea, spraying the sidewalk. "This is the part I don't get," Bubba was saying, "he's not even drinking tequila." Which reminded him of something else, "You know what's nice about living in Central Texas? No matter how much I drink, there's a good chance I won't wake up tomorrow - across the state line."

Sacred cows make great hamburgers.
Like many people in the helping professions, I've raised some folks' ire, at one time or another. I \\really\\, **really** don't feel like taking on the whole of a particular organization. I fall into that small group of people who don't fit in any particular classification. Non-aligned. Independent. Unorganized. Lacking proper taxonomy? Sure, that's it. I once ran across a comment, perhaps it was web log entry, or title, or maybe just a bumper sticker; it read: "Pissing off the religious right, one person at a time." Seems like I'm doing the same thing, but in some terms - my terms - that can't be all bad. My bumper sticker wisdom: "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks."

It's why with the web site's construction, there's a complete [as complete as I have> collection of all the previous scopes. Credentials? I'm afraid I have to adopt a post-modernist point for that, the works have to be judged on their own merit. I've always been fond of the discernible direction in the material, how it's gotten better from the early stuff.

My redheaded Cap friend had the day off, so we took the usual walk around the lake's trail. I connived to include a bookstore, ice cream, and other, sundry stops along the way. "Yeah, well, it's not like I have anything to do today," she mused. I really wanted a copy of Tim Dorsey's latest, \\Triggerfish Twist\\, and it was unavailable in any of the airport bookstores over the weekend.

It's all related to Mercury, almost at a dead stop in Gemini. Almost, but not quite. Close enough so that the signs associated with Mercury, Virgo and especially Gemini, are starting to really do more than an inordinate amount of complaining. I just stretch out on the futon with a cat on my stomach, purring. The cat purrs, my stomach growls. I can't complain, but then, that's just how looks from my perspective.

Ripping CD's
"Kramer likes me because I'm his computer nerd sister," she said.

Actually, what I asked was, "What school did you go to and what was your degree in?" "Mumble [Rice> mumble [BioChemical Engineering, \\i.e.\\, "molecular biology"> mumble."

Mother's Day was just mother's day. Nice, in that, this one the first time, in I don't know how long, that the four of us were together as a family, and there was no impending doom, no catastrophic set of circumstances had thrown us together, no other reason to get together other than to surprise Ma Wetzel.

It goes with the territory, though, I did have to do tech support for the family. This time, it was explaining how to rip and burn a CD on Sister's G3. She talked about doing maintenance on her web site, and what a chore it was to find dependable help who didn't cost a whole lot of money. For what she's doing, there's a simpler way - she could manage it herself. I gave a quick demo, walked her through a few items, then we trashed a couple of CD's while she tried to learn how to rip and burn it herself.

As to flavors, we all dined out at some place that was a pleasant cross between my kind of casual and their kind of casual. And we took along one of Ma Wetzel's late friend's son. Plus, we added one of Ma Wetzel's mother's friends, and here's the fun stuff. Sag son, another Sag son, a Sag waitress [11/23> and the friend of our grandmother? 11/23 Sag.

I've got a friend with two teenage daughters. Almost a perfect mom, but you know how teenagers are, right? So looking at the restaurant full of little girls done up in their Sunday best, I couldn't help but think to myself about what those kids will grow up to be like. They will be teenagers some day.

Then, there was Ma Wetzel's comment, Friday, before Sister or me arrived, "You know, many a 'mother's day' have gone by and they don't call, they don't write, nothing..."

You know, with a Scorpio, you miss a Hallmark date like that **just once**, and they never let you forget.

I'm a friend of your mother's.
Random family quotes.
"I like your jokes, especially when I'm tired, they're funny!"
"My significant other gets really upset when I burp 'I love you'."
"I'm only here to help."
"I always do what I'm told."
"Oh, she needs to go to a traditional Southern Wedding."
"The only good vegetable is a dead vegetable."
"That child? It's a demon seed."
"We used to get paid for consulting work."
"Mom, he gets his bad jokes from your family. But I still think they're funny."
"I lost a big bet on whether you'd cry. Then I lost the second bet because you cried again."
"In this family, truth is the first victim."
"I knew that." "No you didn't." "Yes I did. Sort of."
"I get accused of a lot of things that are patently just not true." "Kramer, I'm glad to know I'm not alone in that."
"I think breathing privileges ought to be strictly at the discretion of the teacher."

Music for the road.
Terry Allen's "Amarillo Highway" [sung by REK>, Michael Murphy's "West Texas Highway" [sung by Lyle Lovett>, "Big Ball's in Cowtown" [Bob Wills>, "Big D Boogie Woggie" [Rev. Horton Heat>, "Northeast Texas Women" [Willis Alan Ramsey>, and the all-time Flatlanders's classic, in its original form, "Dallas" [Jimmie Dale Gilmore>.

Me? I'm going to blame that guy who works at Jo's. He's usually just the nicest person in the world, like all the staff, but Friday afternoon, that was one comment I could've done without: "Nice day, warm enough for Barton Springs." The noonish reading ran long, the 2 o'clock reading cancelled, the plane didn't leave until six, so I had just enough time to dash to the springs, hop in, and amble on homeward.

I do wonder about myself, at my age and station in life, should a quick dip in the creek be such a high priority? Somewhere, growing up, I lost that sense of running down and spending long, hot days in the creek water, or lake water, as it were, and now it's back. Plus, I've got such a delightful place to do it, too.

Shuffle off to Dallas via the airport. Times, they are a-changin'. Ran into a Scorpio at the airport, and Ma Wetzel, she's Scorpio....

Swim. Barbecue. Coffee. Capricorn.
> Holy Banshees... I just read my scope.
> Do you have cameras installed in my place?
[from a Cap, of course>

I'm a big proponent of another astrologer's point of view. Before I hung a shingle that said I was an astrological consultant, before I started regularly publishing "oracular visions" as the "Fishing Guide to the Stars," that one writer's slim book made me think. There's no hard and fast rule, no school for "Redneck, Shakespeare quoting, want-to-be bubba, sarcastic & sardonic, combined astrological schools" writing. Got to throw in a little Texas lore, a little common sense, humor, cartoons, old trucks, a variety of musical styles, and some new-age speak, too. Ain't no place to learn how to do this. In other words, to do what I do best, I've got to feel my way along. This is flying by the seat of the pants [or shorts, really>.

I was finally getting towards a point of peace within myself, understanding that some folks just don't like what I do. I can't control that. Then, in keeping with my own belief that I should "walk the walk," I was on the trail, headed towards Barton's Spring for cool a dip on a hot day, when I came across a fairly common scene around here, two male grackles [crows> were doing their version of who deserved the most girl grackles. Two blackbirds, beaks straight up in the air, feathers all ruffled, doing a bird-equivalent of chest-beating. I took it as a sign. Just in case I missed the symbolism, a little further, a cardinal alighted on a bush's branch, driving home the point.

Had some barbecue with my army buddy. We didn't really discuss what folks might expect [beer & girls>. Okay, so maybe a little about that sort of thing. But my buddy was more interested in talking about a particular place to fish, and then we got off on a tangent. He's got an advanced degree in psychology, and he was suggesting that I have enough hours from "counseling" to qualify for a license. "You probably have more hours than most legitimate counselors," he was telling me. We were sitting out in Green Mesquite's patio, partially my choice because I was still dripping wet from the cold water. We drifted off on a theological topic, back to Marcus Aurelius, then around some philosophy. I don't recall everything, but I do remember getting a good belly laugh out of one comment.

Earlier, before I'd been awake for a full hour, I'd received four [4> different calls and requests for readings, all Capricorn. Met that first one at Jo's. We talked for almost an hour and a half. Wandering home, I was still trying to return all the calls I had, the voice mail was full. My Capricorn buddy was having a "less than wonderful day" [some problem at the office>, and I suggested dinner then Hank Three. But I never got around to calling about tickets until way late in the day, and the show was sold out by then. "Oh well, how about the Hula Hut?" Sure. 2 hour wait for a table. She grabbed some chips and hot sauce, and we traipsed down to Mozart's so I could get some coffee.

Hula Hut has fried ice cream. The Cap said to remind her to leave room for some. Mozart's has "death by chocolate" and assorted other desserts. While I was line, the counter help was describing this one chocolate concoction, "It's chocolate, layered with chocolate, it's big, dick, creamy...." She realized her mistake a little late. The customer ahead of me ordered the "big dick" chocolate, then I got one for my Cap friend. I asked the employee with the malapropism what her birthday was. "Oh no, I'm not what you think I am...." I persisted. She was Capricorn. After an hour or so, at the "Hut," a booth opened up in the bar area. Me with my coffee while holding the big dick chocolate, my Capricorn friend and I had enough appetizers to call it a meal. The waitress? I asked. Capricorn.

One week, I'm spinning along in some Gemini dream web, and the next week, it's some sort of Capricorn theme. Figure it out? Why? I like it the way it is; I have convenient, easy to use terminology to express whatever energy is present at a given moment. Friday night, though, I suspect some things will shift yet again. I'll be up in Dallas to surprise Ma Wetzel for Mother's Day [as will Sister>. In fact, it was all Sister's idea in the first place.

Books, spam and cover songs.
For just once in my life, I got a piece of spam that I liked. A new summertime novel is now available. This is happy news. My e-mail address was obviously harvested from an exchange of mail I had with that author. Perfect escape reading. Make sure you ask for it by name, as it would seem some people have hard time identifying books in bookstores. N.B.: I haven't read the book yet, but it's pretty easy to suggest, starting with \\Florida Roadkill\\, and extrapolating from the way each novel has been incrementally better, more exciting and stranger, this next one's bound to be a winner.

My day-to-day life sometimes feels like one of those novels, or like I'm a character in such a novel, someplace stuck in some kind of unreal world.

One minute, I'm finding a form of happiness wrapped in a plain white bread hot dog bun, covered with cheap American mustard, sipping on a big gulp, and the next minute, I'm discussing opera, and why the third opera in The Ring Cycle is arguably the best one.

Wednesday night's big fun was supposed to be a couple of friends' band, opening for Dale Watson & the Lone Stars. Dale didn't show. Just as well, my buddies put on an excellent first set. What kind of music? Well, sort of that typical Austin rock-country "thang," but it was particularly tasteful. I transcribed about a half dozen lines from various original songs, then they swung into a cover of "Little Red Corvette." Dobro, mandolin, an Aquarius girl working a standup bass a full foot taller than her, it was a full-western-dress version of that old song.

I know, it's been done by another Austin band, the Derailers, and their version of Raspberry Beret, but seeing something like that live, in beer joint/barbecue place, on hot summer night, when it was raining while the sun was shining, sometimes, it just doesn't get any better than that.

One cell phone, two handstamps, and Hank Three.
The finding, at the end of this article says something to the effect that, "driving while talking on a phone is more hazardous than being over the legal limit [for alcohol>." From my biased, pedestrian point of view, I can attest that it's a fact - most folks [Gemini's are excluded> shouldn't talk and drive.

I don't know the sign of the female driving the car, turning east from Congress onto Caesar Chavez [First Street>, but she was talking on a phone, and she did almost take me out. I paused, didn't get run over, she stopped, and gestured me across, and I really had to kill the impulse to make a gesture at her. Texas law: pedestrian in the cross walk has the right away, especially if the "walk" sign indicates that both of us [there was a woman approaching from the other curb> \\have the right of way\\. Plus, it's just courteous to be nice to folks on foot. If you're talking and driving, do like Gemini Bubba does, pay attention to the road - he uses a headset, too.

My Tuesday afternoon fell apart, and I kept shuffling plans around, only to dig out an e-mail notice from a friend that his band was playing the 9-10 slot at a club on Sixth, literally, around the corner from where I was hoping to go. Stopped off for grilled pork in bowl of rice noodles, grab a couple of cigars at the cigar store. Just in time, paid the cover, got the first handstamp, watched MTV along the wall as the band shuffled through a 45 minute set. Best lyrics that I could make out? "I've got keep myself out of the pouring rain/I've got to keep myself from going insane...." spent most of set chatting with my buddy's wife. "The only perfect husbands I know are Virgo," I was telling her. My drummer buddy is Virgo.

Out the door, down the block, up another block, and there was the 710 Club, oddly enough, at 710 Red River. Paid the cover, got a handstamp, and walked into a crowded scene. Ran into a Pisces, a Gemini, a Libra, then, a little later, a pair of Sag girls. "You're a Sagittarius, too? Cool!" I learned a little more about her love life than I wanted, but I was able to point out, for us Sagittarius types, those long-distance love affairs work best.

Shelton [Hank Williams III> came on after "Honky." It was close to two hours of music, near as I could tell, all hardcore, "Hey man, thanks for coming out to hear our loud shit." Honky Punk, hardcore Hellbelly music is alive and thriving. Packed house, and if I'm going to hang with this kind of a crowd, I obviously need to get a lot more tattoos so I fit in.

I staggered out after the set, headed back home to my trailer, and I was careful, throughout the show, to stand aloof and alone, towards the back. I forgot earplugs, and without those little guys, I could easily damage my ears.

Straight up: the show was awesome. Screaming devil-rock. Loud and fast. I was worn out by the end, and I was just watching. Hank Three is an amazing, talented, and very versatile performer. It's some sort of hillbilly, punk, speed metal thing. Hey, call it what you want, it's engaging.

Highs and Lows.
Or maybe it's ebb and flow. A couple of unrelated links via Slashdot: \\Scientific American\\ on Pluto stuff, and my favorite, more about Heisenberg.

I got a suggestion that I should let Bubba deal with my hate mail, as there's been a ton of it lately. Bubba's vitriolic rhetoric is second to none.

It's strange how topics coincide, too, as I was just wrapping up the world as my Petri Dish when some - to me - rather damning and hateful mail, cycled through.

It was an old friend, or teacher, or mentor, or confidant, apparently incredibly upset with me. I couldn't begin to fathom the source of the complaint because it rambled from one point to another, and it included a comment about my mother. Not an expletive, just a comment. Seeing as how I'd just spent Sunday doing the dutiful son thing, that comment bothered me. With this particular acquaintance, though, I don't know how to handle the vitriol. Subsequent notes back and forth revealed that some of the complaint was merely strongly sarcastic, but to mention my mother? Sarcasm? Or just plain toxic and caustic?

"Hang him with his pen and ink-horn about his neck" Shakespeare's \\Henry VI, Part 2\\ [IV.2.103>

Couldn't have asked for nicer comment if I'd written it myself.

As I wandered home from a reading at Magnolia, I got to thinking about that scornful mail, and its inherent message, "Saturn's taking you down." And a comment about my parental units, with whom, I tend to feel like I have a good relationship with these days. Saturn is, indeed, in Gemini, making my life miserable. If you look closely at my natal chart, two items stick out: one is mother [figure> and the other is career. Poignant timing, that's what it was. Almost - as if - an astrologer timed it to make me as uncomfortable as possible.

Could be my own paranoid fantasies, that's for sure. Or it could be something else, too, a sign. I stopped by the bank-in-the-box and deposited a check, the cash from that reading, and I did a quick tally in my head. I may not be rich, and I'm certainly not independently wealthy, and I haven't won the lottery yet, but my basic needs are met by me doing what I love to do.

The cool Texas evening, the neon just down the street, bats darting in the air, if the city's glare wasn't present, Jupiter twinkling high above [in the Tropical Zodiac sign of Cancer>. Best of all? The strains of a Hank Williams III's song was going through my mind, "Walking with sorrow..." Funny how sad songs leave me feeling better.

The world is my Petri dish.
Agar is the stuff used in labs to grow things on, last time I had any input from a biology type. Combine that with my own, personal revelation that I figure the world is my Petri dish for conducting astrological experiments with, and there you have it. Add to this dish, my fundamental feeling that folks are not as nice as they should be, and little compassion and kindness can go a long way in making the everyday world a better place.... think: what can I do, today, right now, to help someone out?

My parents have this thing, as my departure time draws closer, they suddenly have a host of technical questions. This week's Libra scope couldn't be more accurate. So, it seems, I spent an inordinate amount of my afternoon, shuttling from one parent's computer to the other one, answering questions. Dynamics I may never understand: their respective machines are in different corners of the house - as far apart as possible.

My Virgo friend dropped me at the Dallas airport, and I breezed right through, checked in on time, and watched with curiosity as a young man - his name tag didn't have a name, it just read, "I am blind and deaf" - with his handler, not getting frustrated, just trying to take care of certain obligations, like asking the guy the security questions. He answered in sign language, but it wasn't conventional sign language, a little east of here is the Texas School for the Deaf. I may not "speak" American Sign Language, but I can recognize it, and a few words, or gestures, I suppose.

This young man was forced to feel his companion's words. Bad scene. Back to the question for the day, what can I do to help someone out? "Can I help?" Three simple words. Not motivated by greed, avarice, or even some kind of a lower calling, I just felt like being kind. Do something to help. I grabbed a cup of coffee, he wanted root beer, but settled for Dr. Pepper, and I engaged him and his companion in conversation. The inevitable question came up, the "Deaf dumb and blind kid" [sure plays a mean pinball> was Sagittarius, and his friend guiding him was Gemini. "Gemini?" I laughed, "you can talk to both of us at once."

"He's had a busy weekend, he drove my husbands boat," she was telling me. We laughed at a few things, then I volunteered to assist him in going to the bathroom. What I learned: he didn't need much help at all, direct him to the stall, he took care of himself, direct him the sink, he does pretty good all by himself. "He lives by himself; he's self-sufficient; he's got a job." I was very impressed.

Here's a guy who lives in a world devoid of music that I hear, and he can see none of the stuff I see, nor read the text I read. I offered him the window seat on the plane, and then proceeded to tell him what he was missing, but somehow, I don't think he missed a thing. I can now sign "plane taking off" and "plane landing" plus, unnecessary for this trip, "turbulence." Then there's my new name, a special symbol, basically a letter K, held up the chest.

He got peanuts, and opened the package himself, fed himself, had some more Dr. Pepper, smiled, laughed at one joke I told, and seemed to be the most agreeable lad. One clear, blue eye of the most amazing color, the other was shut. Smooth, light brown skin, just a stellar lad to spend an afternoon with. Recalling some of the conversation with the companion, friend, handler, hell, I don't know what she was, the person he showed up with, she said he had a good sense of humor. Like I said, he laughed at one joke, and I liked that. Of course, it could be said that the joke feel on deaf ears, but you know, it's not all bad. I think it's the delivery.

My concern was about his safety. As it turned out, there was a very nice woman waiting for him at the gate; my biggest fear was that there would be no one there until we got past the security cordon. Worried about whether or not it was the right person? She greeted him, and he seemed to sense her presence, even before they started signing to each other. The name for this journal is "Xenon," and that's from a pinball game I used to own, some years back. I'll bet that kid could \\smoke\\ me on Xenon.

But back to the agar. That Petri dish of life - to board an airplane, a valid picture ID is required, like Texas Driver's License, or one of the state issued ID cards that looks like TDL. His birthday? From what I can tell, he was born just a few days apart from [Shelton> Hank Williams III.

Hank Three at Billy Bob's
Saturday in Ft. Worth, just at the edge of the Stockyards, there's Billy Bob's, advertised as "the world's largest honky-tonk." Don't know how true that is, but it could be fact.

Every trip to Billy Bob's makes me think about the first time I was there, and that was more than ten years ago. I'd gone with an Aries to see the "Texas Tornados," which consisted of the late Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez, Freddy Fender, and friends. The reason that one show's stuck in my mind is because I was about the only guy with long hair in the audience. Me, a couple of the roadies, that was about it. I wasn't really too frightened, but it was that odd feeling, a tickle in the back of the throat.

I've been back a few times since. For one, it's a venue that I really like, the stage is accessible, the shows are usually good, and the place isn't too hung up on just being a country spot - on some occasions, national touring rock acts get to play there.

The Hank Three show was all about roots, all about paying homage to the rest of the Outlaws, and it was mostly, not exclusively, but mostly his country stuff. Surprising moments, especially early on, "Mama got stabbed by her crack pipe," and a good "ghost riders in the sky," which, my memory isn't too good, included a mentioning all the names of the outlaw country musicians. Plus, he played one from his granddad and one from his dad.

There's a been a change in the musical line-up, the fiddle player has been replaced for this leg of the tour with a new guy, "He's been with us for 8 days, so far, his names is [couldn't make it out>," and he did a respectable version of "Orange Blossom." Kind of a tough set of shoes to fill, replacing Michael McCanless. The new fiddler tried, but at the end of the show, when Hank Three shifts into his "other mode," the fiddler didn't join in.

It always pleases me to hear the opening song, "7 long months, 39 days" since it's the first song I heard live. And I heard a year before the recorded version was released.

Since that song get played every time, it's a catchy tune, and the lyrics pretty much tell a story, as well as explain the artist's position, that one one tune gets stuck in my head.

The crowd at Bill Bob's was wonderful. After we were seated, I glanced around, the place was full. And it was that eclectic mixture of young and old, punk and country, slacker and slick. Just what I would expect from a Hank III show. Yes, I'd a loved some more of the hard-core, Dixie sound at the end, or that alternative set, the "whatever it is you want to call it" thing. But at Billy Bob's? Not likely. There wasn't even any Hank III merch too be found.

I wass glad to see, though, there were a lot of H3 T-shirts. No, not for sale, but being worn.

Bubba kindly suggested in his web log that I needed to loose the faux-pear-snap, western-yoke shirts. Can't do it, not for a punk country show at Billy-Bob's in Fort Worth, Hank III.

Orange blossom special
The singular, very best version of Orange Blossom Special I've ever heard was a live performance featuring Hank III's fiddler, doing his demonic, satanic, otherworldly fiddling that he does. A good second would have to be local favorite Alvin Crow at the Spoke.

I was flipping through the songs I'd ripped, and I was looking for some ideas for how to stack one kind of music up next to another. For starters, I've got the Folsom Prison version of Johnny Cash's "Orange Blossom Special" backed up next to Charlie Daniel's version. Hank III's Cocaine Blues followed by Cash's original version [digitally remastered, according to the label>.

So here are a few of the themes for road music CD's: songs about San Antonio [Lyle Lovett, Bob Wills, Asleep at the Wheel, various tribute albums with all those San Antonio songs on them.> Then there's Cadillac songs, Dwight Yoakum, Chris LeDoux. Rambling Man songs, either featuring that as a title [Hank Sr., Hank III, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and so forth>, or as a central thematic element. I was going to do El Paso songs, but there are only two songs that I could think of, The Gourds [personal fave>, and that one about the Cantina, the ballad that's so overworked by me, it's tiresome - not enough to burn a full CD.

Ft. Worth is for more evocative than Dallas, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore's classic about Dallas [from a DC-9 at night> is about the only one that's worth it. Or maybe Rev. Horton Heat's "Big D Boggie-Woogie," but Dallas doesn't do too well in the country vein. What's odd, to me, Willis Alan Ramsey's "Northeast Texas Women" is listed as "folk." Whatever.

I suppose, a "cities and towns in Texas" wouldn't be a bad one. I had one playlist running while I was working, and I kept trying to come up with other options. A little Bob Dylan, some Grateful Dead, Don Walser, it can all fit, it's just trying to put it together that's a challenge, looking for coherent thematic elements, Like Lyle Lovett's "Truck Song" next to the Dead's "Truckin'."

"Friend of the Devil" [Grateful Dead> "Devil's Daughter" [Hank III> "Sin Wagon" [Dixie Chicks> "Speak of the Devil" [Kevin Fowler> "Devil Went Down to Goergia" [CDB> "Conversation with the Devil" [Ray Wylie Hubbard>. I know, "Sin Wagon" doesn't exactly fit, but how can I pass up lyrics like, "Praise the lord and pass the ammunition"?

Van Halen [\\Diver Down\\, last cut> "Happy Trails" - roots, man, it's all about roots.

The key to happiness
I think I've found the key to happiness.

I can't say this will work for all people, all the time, but I'm wondering if there isn't a solution in here someplace. The deal, I was getting frustrated with mail and ungrateful folks, and worried about bills piling up, all that sort of mundane, every day business thing that goes on, when I decided I'd better get out and walk some before the day had passed me by.

Different route, same destination - a quick 3-4 miles around the lake on the hike and bike trail, and then, heading back to the ranch, I spied that convenience store with its hot links sign.

Happiness: a hot link and a big gulp. Doesn't get any better than this.

Sometimes I feel like I've been on the road too long. This coming weekend? I think I'm starting to get excited.

Virus, platform & a void of course moon
It's not much of a secret, I use a Macintosh computer at home, at work, on the road. For a while, I ran a "Made with Mac" banner on the site, but the problem is, the server itself is one of those "user hostile" boxes, someplace other than here.

Slashdotran a good piece about the little bugger. It's been a headache, that's for sure. But: since all my stuff is Macintosh, this one isn't coming from me, nor, did any of the e-mail originate here, either. We always practice "safe hex."

So right before I was set to run out the door with one Gemini, I hit the "send" button on the weekly scopes. Before I had a chance to see if it worked, I just left. Moon was not yet void of course, according to two separate resources.

I got back from hanging out and shooting the breeze, and checked the mail. The weekly bounced because I forgot to fill in the password. Unless I'm willing to hold it for a whole day, then my little test of moon sign and mail doesn't get a chance now. Or, as the case looks like now, it gets a negative test.

Oh well. I spent a portion of the evening, toiling away at that Aries' new store, helping get things ready for Thursday night's big opening party. Then it was a quick dash to \\yet another\\ radio station for some late night "Love Lines" call in radio program. "Yeah, that's perfect, you were just a little east of 'expose,' working with tongue oil, and now you're going to be on 'love lines' - you have the life."

God and Texas, Victory or Death
"God and Texas, Victory or Death" William Barret Travis

Some days, despite the Moon's sign, or the global news, some days are just better than others. But it was a Gemini day, through and through, keeping with the theme song for the times.

Started with a handful of phone calls, get this: ALL Gemini's. 4, to be exactly precise. Just to round matters out, I called up a fifth one, just to let him know I was thinking about him. In fact, I called when I was on my way, on foot, to visit the holy waters at Barton Springs. Quick dip, amble home, stopped long enough to observe a big, crested bird in the tree, the aquamarine waters of the limestone-fed spring creek made an excellent backdrop.

A convenience store near me is offering "Fresh hot dogs," and realizing that dinner at Magnolia was a long way off, I helped myself to tasty hot link on bun. Something about mystery meat products, dining on the way home, makes a perfect afternoon snack.

Got home, cleaned up, headed up to Magnolia to meet a lovely Gemini girl, do a reading, and I like it when I'm not pressured to "perform," as it were. On the way, I stopped at Jo's to collect a big cup of coffee and steamed milk, a little fuel to keep going. Walking slowly past the San Jose, a black Cadillac hearse with flames painted on the side was just disemboweling its passengers, which included, a cat on a leash. The four kids were done up in their rakish "goth" best, and personally, I found it a bit warm for that much black clothing. But the cat on the leash was too cool. Right, like my cat would ever submit to that idea. The cat owners, one kid looked as if he had a Mohawk, were really rather nice and soft-spoken, even kind. We exchanged cat banter. Over black beans, tortilla chips, that good Jo's coffee, the schedule hour-long session lasted for almost two hours. Works for me.

Then, one more call from a Gemini, "Can you stop by the design center and just keep us entertained for a few hours, or something?" Me and the one Gemini got lost in the new [old?> Austin Design Center. Sort of an industrial park in the middle of town, its greatest claim to fame thus far? It's right behind an infamous "gentleman's club." Don't know much about it - not the kind of place I would care to frequent. Okay, true confession: I've been in that one exactly once. I was misled by a buddy, and we wound up in there for lunch. The girl working our table was a Gemini. Weird how I would remember that.

I finally located that one Gemini, in the new storefront, in the industrial park that is supposed to be a cool place. We walked around, talked some, watched while frantic soon-to-be store fronts and displays were being worked on, then my Gemini friend wanted to get her truck and dog, and I offered to help drive the other truck back. Confused? Don't be - it's a Gemini thing.

In the bathroom at the Gemini's abode? A simple sign: "Please do not flush the toilet when the train is in station."

I drove a huge, manly, monster truck, from one Gemini's place to another, including a stop by Jo's for more "turbo" coffee for the crew working the late night. Now, while I was driving that truck, I was deathly afraid I would get pulled over. Not because I was speeding or doing anything illegal, but because there was a set of red Prada CFM pumps on the seat beside me. I hadn't noticed them earlier. Lipstick red pumps do not look macho, although, like I suggested before, it was a manly truck. I'm not sure, but I think it was almost a city block in length.

Back at the storefront, I offered assistance with tongue oil, helping to restore the finish on some of the furniture. Of course, one can just imagine the jokes about me using tongue oil....

The closing image? A Leo dad singing along with the radio, to his year-old Leo son, "Strawberry fields forever...."

Ripping and burning CD's is tiresome on a pretty day. The self-imposed restraints of the project, which is now at 3 CD's, turned out to be too much.

I left, settling into a nice pace to go in one direction, changed my mind when I hit Riverside, and I took the long way around to get to Barton Springs. I was thinking, "It's not even May yet, and I'm already heading towards the cold, cold water...."

I forget when I checked, but the Moon was in Sagittarius, well-placed for me, I guess. I took the long way [6 miles or "Six More Miles" by Hank Williams Sr.> to get to Barton Springs, and when I first stepped in the water, it was cool and refreshing, up to my ankles. A little deeper, mid-calf, just fine. Up and over the thighs, waiting for the expected shock at waist level, no problem. The sun, burning its way down, me tired and dusty, and then, I dove in the rest of the way. I wasn't exactly gasping for breath, but I was wondering, "What was I thinking?"

Getting back to Shady Acres, I encountered the mailman, and while he was shoveling mail into the respective slots, I commented on the weather. His retort sums it all up, "It went from winter to summer overnight."

Yes sir, going to be a hot one.

This cycled through the in box late yesterday:

Round a-bout, 4/29/02 5:15 PM, ya'll "Homer Simpson" said:
> You are a disgrace to astrology

Like I've always suggested, the biggest problem with astrology is astrologers who take themselves too serious. It's only humanity, at its best - or worst - not much I can do about that. Me? I'm getting ready for a hot summer, and the cool, cool water at the springs. I would suggest, after yesterday and last night, I really walk the walk [and swim the swim>.

I hit up the Shady Acres resident massage Capricorn for another rub. This time was even better. She was talking to me, and her Virgo roommate, and I don't recall all of the conversation, but in a typical South Austin fashion, those two were discussing a special health drink, something about carrot juice and tequila.

I got off on a kick of trying to put together a compilation CD of road music for an upcoming trip to the Permian Basin. What songs to include? Sounds easy, at first, but try to narrow it down to just the truck driving songs I want. Or highway songs, fishing songs, cowboy songs for the open road, Cadillac songs, devil songs, songs about going to San Antonio, try to get it down to just one hour, what's important? "I'm a 1,000 miles from nowhere...."

REK, from Live #2 [The road goes on forever, Amarillo Highway?>
Dale Watson's Trucking Sessions "Good Luck and good Trucking Tonight"
Blaster'sAmerican Music
Rev. Horton Heat
Hank III
The The back to back with Hank Sr.
Charlie Daniel's Uneasy Rider [No road trip with **me** would be complete with out that one.>
Brad Paisley's "I'm going to miss her" should segue right into REK's "5 lbs. Bass," right?
A couple of Junior Brown tunes just seem appropriate.

Disc One is done, the goal? Road music. Country and/or Western. Now, the problem? There's a stack of CD's with other, good stuff that needs to be ripped and burned, might have to make this a two CD set.

Get in the truck, bitch.

Sunday morning, first thing I hear as I step out of the trailer, a Pisces, growling at me, lot of attitude, "Get in the truck, bitch." That sets a fine tone to the rest of the day.

To be fair, it was an honest attempt at fun, and I played right along with her. Interesting day, over heard in the mornings: "My husband, he was raised by women, you know, it's like being raised by wolves." I can relate to that. "New school colors? Tan and black. New school slogan? Whoo-ooaa...."

I was always trying to figure out how to keep my attention span, my balance between "psychic energies," blood sugar, fluids [water>, nicotine, and everything else in check. After Sunday's show, I still think I'm missing the beat someplace. There's something lacking. And I'm five pounds heavier after a huge meal of fried catfish at Cherry Creek.

A couple of themes need to be expounded upon. Folks born in the mid-1960's are experiencing a strange set of planetary influences, usually referred to as a "mid-life crisis." Sort of strange, to see it crop up, again and again. Each chart is different, but the similarities are spooky to me. Same tone, same feelings, same influences, astrologically.

Then there's the middle to late degree Sagittarius folks. Pluto has hit the fan. And when Pluto hits the fan, it's not always pretty.

Then there's the Leo stuff: see - Jupiter is heading towards Leo. \\But he's not there yet\\, in fact, he won't be for some time, like until August or so. But when I'm looking at a chart, see some Leo stuff, and do the mental math, it's a simple answer: August.

But before August, there's Mercury backwards in Taurus mid-May through the first week of June.

The aforementioned growling Pisces [really a sweet lass>, her darling hubby, and myself had breakfast at Magnolia wherein we were greeted by a Cap, served by Sag with remarkable tattoos, and during our brief conversation, I was able to determine three degrees of separation from Hank Three's band mates. From there, it was work, work, work, until it was dinner time.

There's some kind a similar theme here. Different Pisces, still sweet, darling Leo, and Sag restaurant manager. I'm not sure, but there's some kind of an echo, and I'm still working on what is what. And yes, that Cheery Creek catfish, even though I only had a small basket, was worth five extra pounds. It's either that, or the {{popup roundroack.jpg roundroack 320x240}}Roundrock Doughnuts, I'm not sure which.

Hands on a Hard Body
It's a fine example of what an authentic documentary should be like. Hands on a Hard Body is not porn despite the suggestive title.

It's about people in a small town in East Texas where the object of the contest is to stay awake, with your hands on a particular brand of truck, often referred to as a hard body. Last man [person> standing gets to drive the truck home. It's right up there with Clerks for classic, cult status. Classic, cult status is what's important in this line of work, too.

Imagine this, head down Congress, stop off at Jo's for some killer coffee, a Cancer and a breakfast roll, keep on trucking down Congress to one street, and head on over to the highway to get to the hotel. The freeway [Interstate 35> was blocked for construction. Hightail it down a side street, try and pre-empt some traffic one way, get blocked a second, then a third time. Patience was running thin. I tried to tell a few jokes to lighten the morning. Didn't work. My Pisces friend had her most beautiful hound dog with us, and he was digging on the sights and smells, hanging his head out the window like a good dog.

I figure the dog loved the ride. We were about halfway to San Antonio before we got headed back to the hotel. Not an auspicious start to a day at the office. The Pisces I didn't ride with provided entertainment in the form of {{popup roundroack.jpg roundroack 320x240}}Round Rock Doughnuts. "See? Should've ridden with me." So, Ride with a Pisces, get doughnuts from a Pisces, and then, a Pisces sitting on the other side of me, too, that one from the truck the other morning. So there was a Pisces theme for the day. Or water signs, anyway, with a smattering of Cancer's in there, too.

The wrap up was at Threadgill's, me either entertaining, or lecturing, or maybe just holding forth under the night sky, and just after the sun set, I was busy trying to point out the four planets that were visible, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars.

It's show time
I staggered to Dallas Love Field, looking like I'd slept in my clothes. I looked like I'd just been to a Jimmy Buffett show. I had.

At the departure lounge, I ran into another reader, my friend Jessica Davis. She was heading to Austin to work for a weekend. I offered to get her some of the doughnuts, but she demurred. She did take me up on my offer of the sports page. She reads sports; I read the concert review. She chatted with a few of the other passengers, too. Might have dug us up a little business, but I'm not sure. "Yes, Kramer, you dress like that most of the time," she added.

We joked about the fact that the times we get stuck on airplanes together, I always wind up carrying her suitcase. When we got to Austin, my Gemini friend, the one with the blond hair and the blue eyes, showed up to pick me up, and we waited while the baggage caught up with us. I tossed Jessica's suitcase into the back of a pick-up, and then we left for other parts of town.

I was proud, though, I got to make wry comment to Jessica's Pisces driver. It was an amusing visual, looking for a big pick-up driven be a diminutive Pisces female.

"Don't mess with Texas Women."

Trust me. Just take my word for it, if you've never had to chance. Texas women are not to be taken lightly.

Lunch with my Gemini, served by a Virgo at Magnolia, then I eventually cleaned up, and went and got some dinner with my Pisces friend [not the truck driving one>, sushi served by a Cap from East Texas.

Walking out, later, the Pisces pointed out the full moon [Scorpio Full Moon at that>, and I commented that it was at its peak at that very moment, just inching up from the horizon.

"What's that mean for me?" she asked.

"It means, never mind, you're a Pisces, it's all good."

Not really wanting to soil any more clothing I would just have to wash, I tossed on the shirt leftover from the Buffett show. In my newly refreshed state, there was still that lingering aroma of stale beer, not quite 24 hours old. $7 for a single plastic cup of beer - that's more expensive than a Mexican Hand Roll at South First Sushi. And you can never use that beer as bait, the next day.

"Yes I am pirate, 200 years too late, the canons don't thunder, there's nothing to plunder, I'm an over 40 victim of fate... [from Jimmy Buffett's 1974 release, A1A.

Many folks observed the earring. Coming home, the next day, going through security, "You saw Buffett last night? It was good, wasn't it!"

There were a couple of high points from the show, especially in the first of two sets. Might have been some high points in the second set, but I can't vouch for veracity after intermission.

That favorite lyric, from a "Pirate Looks at Forty," that was done as a dual performance, just two guitars to entertain what looked like a sold out Dallas Music Center. Recently, those lyrics have really moved me. There was an old-style [bluegrass> version of "Boat Drinks," and then, an unusual commentary for his bawdy anthem.

"This is the song that got me kicked out of Nashville," Buffett claimed, "and you people said, 'Come on down to Texas,' [Why don't we get drunk and screw....>"

Good, good show. It was a tad cool under the stars, but Boat Drinks abounded, two good old boys from Lubbock feed me cheeseburgers, life was grand under the stars. Or under the Dallas clouds, it never really cleared up.

The Dallas crowd surprised me, I've seen shows there before, but the crowd Thursday night was into it, like, in a big way. For example, we were almost on the back row of the reserved seating, and yet, when "Fins" started, there was a solid sea of hand held up in the traditional Parrothead style.

The Dallas-area Parrotheads seemed more enthusiastic than ever before. The show was that comfortable, almost predictable mix of old and new, and strange crowd, as ever there was. Old folks, folks who've probably been to Buffett shows from the beginning. Then younger, maybe newer devotees of the genre.

During the set change, I was standing in the beer line [part and parcel of the designated driver, you know>, fetching what has to be the most expensive draft beer I've ever seen, and I missed part of the basketball reference. I dfid get to see the space shuttle video clip, talk about Parrotheads all over the place.

Pain in the neck
The last couple of days, my neck's been bothering me. It's an old observation, how you can't swing a dead cat in this town without hitting a massage therapist [tarot card reader, web designer, former high-tech worker>.

I thought about it, trying to remember which massage therapist I should call in a favor from, and then I realized there was a new one to try: right here in the trailer park. Capricorn, too, with a Virgo roommate. "Hey, look who's on our floor, it's that astrology boy," the Virgo said, minutes later. "Look, can you come to my office?" No, not really. "How about you meet me at 'Casa de Luz' at 11? I've got to go meet a client now." I could turn my neck half way around to answer her by then, so it was a deal.

I've been meaning to take in Austin's macrobiotic restaurant [preschool and yoga center plus offices for at least one chiropractor> just never quite got around to it. I mean, it's virtually in the same block as Green Mesquite and the original Chuy's, so it's not like it's ever been much of an option, something never really seemed that appealing about no additives, no diary, no refined flour or salt, none of the good and nasty stuff I like so much. Made me wonder if there would be any flavor at all, or if I would just be munching on something that tasted like lawn clippings.

Don't misunderstand my intentions, one of my favorite afternoon treats is Jo's 'vegan oatcakes'. Good stuff. As far as my tastes in culinary treats, my dietary requirement certainly goes both ways, or runs the gamut, from red meat [barely singed or slow cooked>, to just about anything deep-fried then dipped in ranch dressing, to vegetarian, to vegan. Equal opportunity dining.

First was the massage. While we sat in one of the pavilions, I got my neck worked on some more. This Capricorn, while she had a slight penchant for pain, she was a lot more gentle than the last Capricorn. It was like I was back at the Chemical Brothers show, all the lights going off as she pushed some pressure point in my neck. "Breathe in, breathe out," I kept telling myself.

The Confederate Jasmine in the garden laced the air with a spring-like sense, the green, tastefully [Zen-like> appointed garden was calming, and the hibiscus [something else I couldn't spell, pronounce or identify> tea had some "alkaline" content.

I bought her some lunch at the restaurant's open dining room. Started with a soup that I filled up with bean sprouts. Not bad, but what did I expect? Anything a cut above lawn clipping would've been fine. And by that time, my neck was almost working right.

"Kramer showed up on the trailer's doorstep this morning, looking like a wet kitten, 'Can you fix my neck?'"

Many wet kittens will resent that crack - I looked like a hunchback.

The main course was green leaf things, salad, dressing, rice, beans, and an enchilada of some underdetermined origin, "Tastes like chicken," I gamely suggested. "Oh no - it's all vegan." I knew that.

My carnivorous friends would be shocked. The cat would not be pleased with leftovers, had there been any. I found the food to be delicious, if somewhat strange in taste as there weren't a lot of the usual elements.

Shoot, I'd go back, just for the food. I'm just glad my neck's like, 100% better. I don't think I'll suggest it to Bubba though, I'm not sure he'd like the food. But that "Casa de Luz" macrobiotic stuff was downright tasty, in a bean sprout way. Works for me.

Even though the moon was almost full in Libra, it was/is a Capricorn day: up to Dallas for Jimmy Buffett [Cap>, neck-saving massage [Cap>.

Debunking Astronomy
So I was talking with a client, and I was studiously avoiding the incessant pager, thinking between my replies, "I've got to set that thing to vibrate." I missed call from a local FOX affiliate station, a reporter who wanted to do a piece about the alignment of the planets, supposedly visible for the next few days.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it because, the way I see it, it happens in not one but three signs. The planets are interspersed between Taurus, Gemini and Cancer. On an astrological level, this isn't that big of deal. A big deal, to me, is something like the stuff that occurred in Taurus, at the beginning of May of 2000. Trying to prepare some sort of a 'sound bite' analysis of the situation, that proved to be a little more difficult. I've already written through this point - I've taken this "alignment," as the mass media is calling it, into account for the scopes.

When I was chatting with an astronomer from UT, at a social function, he pretty much sneered at me, other than the fact that I could point out where what planets were, right after sunset. I could even point out where the planets were that we couldn't see, too. So what are we looking at this time? Jupiter is in Cancer, the highest one up. Saturn and Mars are in Gemini, while trailing closest to the horizon will be Venus and Mercury.

My guess is that Venus would be the brightest, right after the sun sets, but Jupiter will be in the night the sky the longest, possibly visible for up to several hours. Get out your bible, look up the opening section of Matthew, second chapter, first couple of verses. Talks about the "wise men," and that's about it, guys following a star in the east. Sound suspiciously like astrologers to me. Only this time, it's in the west, right after sunset.

Another astronomer I talked to, a guy who ran a planetarium, used to loathe the "Christmas Show" as he called it. If I recall, around 4 BC, there was some sort of alignment that’s similar to what we're seeing now. Having seen comets before, there's also that theory, for the "star in the east" thing. Realistically and astrologically speaking, how often does this happen?

I get sneered at and ridiculed by the so-called "scientific community," as do many other folks in my line of work. I was mildly perturbed, not so very long ago, as I was seated next to an astronomy professor. What was the host thinking? Probably ruined the [Aquarius> professor's meal, especially when the hostess started heaping praise on me for what I was doing.

Some years ago, I recall this with Bubba, we were cruising along on a New Year's Eve, just after sun set, fixin' to fire up cigars, I was going to do the weekly AOL chat I was doing at the time, and there was the Moon, Jupiter and Mars, all lined up. How does that lyric go? "When the Moon is in the 7th House, and Jupiter aligns with Mars...." So how often does this happen? I would suppose, the real question has to do with how often is it visible like this?

As a historical note, there are volumes of written material about Shakespeare's astrology. Without firing up the software, I can't recall exactly, but there was a similar line-up at the beginning of the 17th Century, Queen Elizabeth and all. As they stand, Jupiter & Saturn get up close and personal about once every 20 years, something I've noted from the 1960, 1980 series of charts I've looked at. Figure Mars and Venus get paired up about once every two years. Mercury, and the Sun? Always within about 40 degrees of each other, if I recall my astronomy correctly.

So when the news station calls me up and wants to do story about something that the scientific community doesn't "get," what's my position? I've already spun the chart wheels around, looked that planet arrangement, and made my prognostications. The biggest problem is that the astronomy folks sometimes don't see the influence down here in the empirical world. I do, but then, this is what I do for a living. I try to translate stellar influences into plain language.

I'll stick to the mythology of astrology that I like. I was trying to figure a good place to do a "live shot" from, too. Good Western exposure? A high point? A little atmosphere? The bat bridge came to mind, as did the Lamar Pedestrian bridge. Been too cloudy to see much, though. So the reporter never returned my calls returning her call. Journalists are often like that - I'm not sensational enough.

Keep on rocking in the free world
I was walking home from Jo's, taking the four mile way, and I noticed an orange [Monarch?> butterfly, just as it landed on a tiny orange flower. "Man, this will make a great picture!" But as soon as I pulled out the camera, the butterfly was off to another flower, then on to a third. I never even had a chance. I still think the best pictures are {{popup dark2.jpg dark2 480x640}}big bass being held up by their lower lips, right before they go back in the lake. "Catch and release," or, as I like to think, in honor of Earth Day and all, "Take nothing but pictures and only leave pierced lips."

Answer some mail, take a siesta, get ready for Bubba and the Chemical Brothers.

I should remember, the song? "Hey boys, hey girls, superstar DJ's, here we go...."

So Bubba dropped by, we coordinated times, and figured some of those free hamburger coupons were worth a try. Since Shady Acres is close to the River, and since it wasn't much of a trek, we decided to walk.

It was turning into a Scorpio evening, that's for sure. The warm-up DJ, according to my sources, was the same guy who opened a few weeks ago for Fat Boy Slim.

Then the Chemical Brother came on stage. I'm old; I'm jaded. I've seen it all. I saw the laser light shows back when they were new. I saw a rotating grand piano, during an art rock tour. I've never seen anything quite as amazing as the show those two guys put on, the Chemical Brothers.

The first hour and fifteen minutes or so was a montage of images, noise, music, loops, loud music, and dance frenzy. Really blew me away. It was that simple.

Familiar stuff, but there was the added bonus of it being live, and the set didn't stop at one song, it just kept on flowing, from one tune to the next. The big plus with generating a live sound like that, the "tunes" were slightly modified, even enhanced, from the what gets served up on the CD.

Then there was the light show. The stage had a huge, circular screen that folded back, two satellite video screens flanked the stage, then there was a six screen set-up behind the stage, and best of all, the DJ booth itself, it looked white, but it was a semi-circle projection screen as well.

I'm way too old to become a rave kid. But the music was really moving. The colors, the images that rotated on and off the screens, and the constant use of white strobe lights, in huge banks, set a different tone; something I haven't seen in a while, if at all.

I am, by no means, an expert about "electronic dance, trance, hip-hop, acid house" fusion. I've long since forgotten how to even work a turntable, I'm doing good to hit the "play" button. For about an hour and half, maybe a little longer, I was lost in world of lights, rhythm, pulsating, ambient music that moved.


I had one thought, snaking its way into my mind. Remember how the world was full of hope and happiness, long about 1999? The internet was new and cool, fashion was alive and vibrant? Colors and images everywhere? The juxtaposition of one thing with another, just for its shocking effect? And hope, lots of hope. Everything was going to turn out okay? That's the feeling I got. Pretty good buzz for a straight guy.

Hitchhiking through Sunday
I got a call Sunday morning, Bubba - cited by the City of Lockhart for his unsightly lawn care. The mere image of him, driving over to a friend's place to borrow a riding lawn mower, then driving said lawn mower home \\through the streets of Lockhart\\ - what's funny was I'm sure this was going to happen. I was relating this tale on the way to the gun show....

"Doesn't count unless he's got a beer in hand, or something," my other buddy was explaining, "otherwise, it's just normal."

Me? At a gun show? I've always been intrigued by "wheel guns," but I never got around to firing anything but a rifle. I'm pretty sure that will change this summer. Besides, I like the idea of getting a permit to carry handgun. So I was looking at the various wares offered up. Munched on some real beef jerky. Two signs really caught my attention, one was scattered throughout the gun show, "Texas Terrorist Hunting Permit: No Limit." The other, was a display, a little off to one side, hand-lettered, "Guns 'N' Purses." I love Texas and Texans. Sweet, polite, delicate, and well-armed.

So I got dropped off at Book People, to meet a client, slam some coffee, look at books, and read a few magazines for free. Ran into another client, a massage therapist. Standing there in the coffee corner at Book People, I had a sore spot in my neck worked on. Then I went back to reading one of several fishing journals.

I got that second big latte to go, walked over to Amy's and got a scoop of Mexican Vanilla dropped in. Little City Coffee, Amy's Ice Cream, life was good. Strolled across the Lamar Bridge, up and over to the Bob Marley Festival going on, got waved in, and I sat behind the "information" booth for a few hours. Had a plate of "Vegetarian Soul Food" - tofu done Cajun style.

The closing act was "Texodus," I think that was the name. When I finally got back to the trailer, I looked - I had two stamps on my right hand, one for the gun show, and one for the reggae festival. Guess the two balance each other out just fine.

At the end of the day, I also dug a handful of business cards out of my pocket, something from the local burners, a ticket for a massage, information on local firing range, a card from a "concealed handgun license" instructor, and a ticket for a free hamburger at a local place. Must be springtime in Austin, what with the smell of lilacs in the air. The other thing that first morning call was about? Might get to see the Chemical Brothers at the Music Hall on Monday night.

Ultimate Brownie
I'm not a connoisseur of things chocolate, that's not my substance of choice. Chocolate really doesn't do much for me.

However, Saturday evening, while I was looking over an astrology chart, sipping a warm latte in the evening's fading light, I got a hankering for something sweet, a treat to follow the meal.

I'd originally suggested the Bouldin Creek Coffee House [motto: \\Caffeine Dealer\\> because it had two attractive points: wouldn't be too crowded, and the collard greens [Soul Food Plate, greens, beans, and cornbread.>

We sat out back for several hours, and into that second drink, a sweet tooth feeling came over me. I wandered back inside and inquired as to what was good.

"Get a 'taxi driver'," the Barista suggested, "a brownie with a shot of espresso poured over it, topped with whip cream. Real whip cream; we make it ourselves, you know, cream, Vanilla syrup, done right."

Could there be something more inviting?

Fishing Guide to the Stars \\Fashion tips\\:
How to modify a T-shirt

I suppose that this goes back, what, close to 20 years ago? Isn't that the time when folks first started wearing ripped up T-shirts? I do believe, at one time or another, Bubba Sean has ripped on my sense of aesthetics, but this style choice is about comfort, not tastes.

But I've got a trick a way to modify a T-shirt that I've found helps 100% with the comfort while not reducing the shirt's functionality one bit.

It gets even funnier, to me, at least, because one Shady Acres resident had suggested that he didn't even know if I had shirt, any shirt, as he moved in during the spring, and for the next six months, he never saw me with a shirt on.

"Then, after that, it was nothing but this one, black pocket T-shirt." See, I actually have a large number of those black T's, each modified the same way. It's a comfort thing. Plus, there's the added advantage that the style, while not exactly the same as, it does resemble the traditional "wife beater" undershirt.

I was thinking about this because I wanted to wear a special "Gotterdammrung" T for fishing. And it {{popup dark2.jpg dark2 480x640}}needed to be thusly modified.

How it works: grab a cutting instrument, I've found a Leatherman [TM> Micra the be about the about the best, it's a useful tool, and until recently, it was airport safe. Start cutting. But there's a special way to do this, you can't just hack away at the T, takes a steady hand and some restraint.

Start with the collar. This is the biggest source of trouble for me. It's not like I have broad shoulders or a thick neck, but after being shirtless for so long, the idea of a restraint of any type around my neck just doesn't work well. I've tried stretching, ripping, shredding, and nothing works better than just snipping out the collar. After this missing collar T gets washed a few times, it gets even more comfortable with a gentle, rolled effects.

But don't stop there: sleeves. The trick is determining what's taking away too much, and what's just the right amount. I've worked with the incorrect proportions for so long, I finally got it right. I was thinking about this as I tackled that one, purple shirt.

Use that cutting instrument again, and start right where the armpit area is. A small cut, just to get it started. Then rip it upwards, in a diagonal fashion, leaving a little bit of sleeve at the top, but not too much.

This is a perfect shirt for fishing. Perfect undershirt. Perfect accoutrement and apparel for just about any social event. The lack of a collar means there's a added freedom to crane my neck around. The enlarged arm openings means I can windmill my arms around, like I often do, and there's no hindrance.

Seems like it might be a lot of work, but gradually, every T-shirt I've got undergoes this kind of cosmetic surgery, I think it's well worth documenting the correct process.

Estos Excellens Inter Se
"Estos Excellens Inter Se" [\\Latin\\, means, I think, "Be excellent to each other.>

Got up before the sun, spilled half my coffee waiting on my fishing buddy to show up. Got on the lake long before the sun was up, hit a special cove before anyone else, and it yielded up a couple of fish for me.

I really like this one picture, although the fish is almost embarrassingly small, the apparent lack of light is visible, or not visible, in the gray background. It was that early. Calm water, good company, excellent fishing. Bait? "Dude, it's called a 'Devil's Tongue' on a modified Carolina Rig."

One of the coolest images was a little tree stump that had a microcosm of life on it. The little camera didn't get such a good picture, but it was amazing.

At least one of Bubba's catches weighed in at 2 ounces shy of 5 pounds. We always believe in "freeing the fighter," I hope to meet that fish again some day - next time? My bait. After all, like my shirt suggests, "Size matters."

I got teased about the local "Bob Marley Festival," just down the street from Shady Acres. I was thinking about going.

"Gun show tomorrow, want to go?" Tough decision. Might try to work in both, reggae music and firearms.

> It's always nice to have a nother
> Bubba around.
> Bertha Mae

Great ideas.
Like this favorite character, nobody likes my great ideas.

My Friday five:

Friday was wildlife in Central Austin. One pair of swans has five ugly ducklings.

Four people I ran into: Aquarius postal delivery lady, "Hi Kramer, why, you're wearing shoes!" Sagittarius woman talking to the postal girl, "What's up with Sagittarius anyway?" Pisces boyfriend of a friend, covered in tattoos, "Hey, Kramer, right?" Gemini sever from Green Mesquite, "What's my perfect sign to date, anyway?"

Three turtles on a log.

Two enchiladas on the plate in East Austin.

One garter snake, squirming rapidly across a hot piece of paved trail. Didn't catch him, but I tried.

Out of that, there's no way to work in that I actually covered in excess of 8 miles, or that I wandered up to Jo's, which, strictly speaking, is not on the trail, to get an afternoon cup of coffee so I could stay awake until an early bedtime. I keep thinking, too, whenever I do the East Loop of the trail, there's a [relatively> new bridge over by Fiesta Gardens, and it has a little plaque on it that reads, "05-2000, load limit 5 tons," or something like that. The date, see, that's the time of the big alignment, a few years ago, and that's what set a lot of stuff in motion, 7 astrological objects, all lined up in Taurus. Or look at the date like this: 2000-3-4-5. Just weird.

I'm planning on following my own Virgo advice. Just to make it more interesting for the fish and their gods, I'll try wearing a "Gotterdamrung" T-shirt.
The best Margarita in the world
I'm not exactly a drinking man these days. Okay, so I don't let "demon alcohol" sully my virginal lips at all. From prior experiences, and judging by human behavior, though, I'm a pretty fair judge of what's a good drink, and what's not.

Listening to Jimmy Buffett at the Jerry Jeff Birthday Party, I discovered that "Margaritaville" was originally inspired by Buffett's first Margarita in Austin. It all started here.

So, the other night, stopping off at the Texas Chili Parlor, my companion had a standard issue "Margie" made by Pepe [Pisces>. I do believe, I've found the Holy Grail of tequila libations. Better than Guero's. Better than Baby A's. Better than anything else I've seen. Probably better than the ones I used to make, when I was slinging whiskey.

Handcrafted. The recipe? More or less, free pour four count tequila, about half as much triple sec, squeeze in two full lime halves, add a splash of sweet & sour. Shake. Salt the rim. You know the rest.

Some folks build castles in the sky, someone had to collect the rent on those castles.

"I'm disrespectful, and I sleep all day." [Hank III bootleg>

I rounded the corner of the trail, turning north around the most eastern portion of the lake, headed up towards the Longhorn Dam [eastern terminus of Town Lake>, and I was hit by two things: one, weather, as the spring-like feeling left while a wall of moist, hot air reminded me it's going to be a very warm summer. Two, the answer to a theological question posited the other day. I grabbed the cell phone out of my pocket and started to frantically dial up my army buddy, "The answer to the question? It's riddle, like one of your Zen things, I got it as a sig file the other day, 'Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup,' get it?"

"Kramer?" So I was a two miles into what turned into an almost 8 mile stroll, just starting to sweat good. It all made sense at the moment. he called to check on me later, worried that the Zen riddle was an indication of protracted, uncontrolled narcotics. Or something. It was just a moment of enlightenment on the trail.

Dale Watson's \\Truckin' Sessions\\ is a CD I just picked up. Now, I've seen Dale Watson a number of times. The first time, I wandered into a local dive called "Ego's," and I was amazed at his sound. Later, I've lost track, but I've seen him a number of times at the Spoke. Perfect place to catch him, too. Amazing voice. A special sound, too. He's a little, short Libra guy, if I recall right, but to me, and with his evocative baritone, he towers above me.

With summer time, road trips, and travel for summer vacation occupying a little extra mental time, \\Truckin' Sessions\\ is perfect music for the road.

Worried on the Avenue.
Should I be worried?

> you haven't seen bitter.
> well maybe you have.
[via fredlet>

Real world writing [couldn't have said it better myself.>

This one fits, too.

South Congress is kind of funny place. Rumors travel quickly up and down the street where there's a quaint mix of old, new, and some even older stuff, too.

I met with one client, had ourselves a plate full of enchiladas, then meandered over to Jo's for a post-Tex-Mex cup of coffee, warm latte's frothed just so, sitting the afternoon's shade, watching the world go by, almost, but not quite, unstuck in time.

I took a fast dash back to the trailer, then came back around again, and headed through the neighborhoods beside South Congress. At one point, I stopped and listened to what turned out to be a bright red cardinal, just singing his little heart out. The fragrance of lavender in bloom, or something similar, that fresh, new cut-grass smell, filled the air. It was warm, but not hot. Humid, but not damp. Breezy, and my hair's a wreck. Didn't care much, though.

I cruised back up and down the avenue, picking up a fine, gently used Hawaiian print shirt for the meager amount of $20, at New Bohemia. Then I was angling to meet Bubba and a Virgo at Guero's for drinks, dinner, and who knows?

Bubba was late. So I sat there and recounted my "Virgo's and Guero's Margaritas story," full of all sort of extra emphasis. Bubba arrived shortly thereafter, and a drink was waiting for him by the time he got to the patio itself. "Kramer was just telling me about tequila at Guero's, and what effect it has on Virgo's - and him," she started to explain, and Bubba picked right up, "three times. One passed out, one went home, and 'the man' struck out three times in a row. Yeah, heard if before. Shut up, pops."

What I do remember was laughing, at some really crude jokes, so hard that my eyes were tearing up. Can't repeat them here, other than to recall that the humor was scatological, and slid downhill from there. That poor little Virgo girl was just getting distressed at the filth of the humor. But it was funny.

"My dinner tonight was 3 pounds of bacon, cheddar and tequila. What's for dessert?" Bubba asked, looking at the menu, intimating he wanted some flan. I suggested Amy's, our Virgo seconded it, and we paid up and left.

One of the "guest" flavors at Amy's was "Honey Vanilla." As she sampled some, the Virgo moaned and groaned in sheer ecstasy. "Look, if you're going to make noise like that, I want to be involved," I said. "Nuh-huh," she said, "Guero's, margaritas and you don't mix. Remember?"

At the end of the evening, that Virgo was nice enough to bring her convertible to stop in front of the trailer's step. I was about to launch into the Virgo war stories again, and she stopped me, "Honey, if I wanted you, I'd had you four years ago."

Good for the ego, eh? [That's what I like about Texas girls, direct and to the point.>

gray morning
And yet, so beautiful. The cat woke me with her insistence that she be fed, I heard rain falling on the trailer's roof, rolled over and went back to sleep.

The morning fog, or heavy clouds rolling up and off the river's bottom, set a comfortable tone and temperature for the time.

"Ah, gee, thanks Kramer, you really rock, too." Somehow, that note seemed less than sincere, but you know, with sales folks, who can tell?

Tuesday: two meat plate at Green Mesquite. That was good. Recognizing the Taurus server was better. Guessing the sign of her unborn baby was even more amusing. Helping vote on the baby's name? Just another day at the BBQ place.

Now take me, for example, I'm not really a very interesting person. I tend to stand at the back, take notes, observe people. While we were at lunch yesterday, though, my Cancer buddy was talking a good line. Interesting enough to attract the attention of a lady sitting across from us. She laughed at some of the jokes.

For the record, I did follow my two meat plate [Brisket & Pork Ribs> with peach cobbler, topped with vanilla ice cream. And for that same record, I did regret it as I headed into the sun to wend my way homeward. I mean, that pregnant Taurus did say she could serve me up smaller portion, but with peach cobbler? What's the point?

Bigfoot in Texas? Really shouldn't be a surprise.

Not sure how to explain this story. [Why I practice "catch and release" fishing?>

Dinner was at Hoover's, with my Pisces friend. Asked the waiter what his sign was, Pisces, too. What was so weird, to me, the last time I'd been at Hoover's, the waiter was Aquarius, and I was dining with an Aquarius. Could it be fate? Or just a strange, East Austin coincidence?

Back to Guero's, Sunday night, Pisces waitress, with the same birthday as my Pisces buddy. That's too weird.

One more useless but amusing link.

Generic employment advice
As an astrologer, I get called about employment questions all the time. Here's the take, and you know, this stuff doesn't necessarily apply to people based on their sign alone, although, in a consultation, I would tailor the information and delivery to suit the situation.

"I don't like my job because...."
1> The boss hates me
2> I hate the work
3> I love the work, but hate the people
4> I love the people, but hate the work
5> It's not what I'm trained for
6> There's no advancement
7> Some combination of the above, or any arcane number of variables, but the basic premise is someone doesn't like where/how he or she is earning a paycheck.

If I didn't face this question, every day, from clients ranging in age from 17 to 67 - including all 12 astrological signs, I wouldn't be doling out this advice.

But here it is, and it's simple.

Look for another job. Don't quite the job you've got, just look for more suitable employment. If you're not looking, not seeking, then you're wasting your own time being unhappy. No stars are going to change that. No planetary alignment is going to miraculously change the boss, the job, or the situation. Change requires effort on your own part. It doesn't just land in your lap **without some effort** on your own.

In my own way, I'm rather amused by this, but I have a sick sense of humor, rather bleak and black. "I'm too tired when I get home from work to look for another job." But not too tired to spend a lot of emotional horsepower, burn up a good portion of the evening, stuck in a pit of self-induced angst?

I don't get it. Change it. The time spent in self-induced despair is wasted time. Time that could be spent 1> talking to your astrologer for hints on what you do next, 2> filling out job applications, 3> circulating resumes 4> answering casting calls.

My dear Leo friend fredlet did luck into a new job. She was foaming a latte at Starbucks, a customer asked if she could fulfill a tech position, and that turned into her new job. But in the year she worked at "bucky's" I know of dozens of attempts she made to land a real job. She also successfully free-lanced along the way, too. Wasn't glamorous, but she did it. Yes, someone walked in and hired her away from dreaded coffee machine, but in the interim, she spent a lot of time pounding the metaphorical pavement, so that could happen. I openly admire her drive.

Bubba Sean is another I admire. He's brilliant, sometimes. He's got a degree in broadcast [want fries with that?> journalism. He was a big-time DJ radio guy when I met him. Got laid off. He worked in a record store for years while chasing one elusive opportunity after another. One day, he lucked into a good gig. Life is wonderful again. But when he was working in the record store, he kept looking. The lad gets lots of credit for that.

There's another variation on this theme, the "artiste" scenario. "But I'm a writer/poet/screen writer/play write/graphic artist/designer/actor/actress/director/filmmaker/artist! Why can't I be paid for what I do best?" You can. I tend to judge folks against a simple rule about this subject: are you willing to work at a gas station, pumping gas, [foaming cappuccinos, stocking record> until the artist thing pays off? If so, then do so. If not, then you're only a dilettante, not the real thing.

As a writer, I tend to look at success stories I'm aware of; one is Stephen King, working on his nightmare until he had a best-seller, subsidiary movie rights and so forth. He taught school for a while, until his writing thing paid off. The other weird tale is William Gibson, one of the progenitors of modern Science Fiction, and one of my favorite authors. His first major novel, the ground breaking "Neuromancer" was allegedly written on typewriter. [Historical notes: \\Neuromancer\\ was first published in 1984, it's not like computers were very advanced then, and the novel was the first of a new movement in post-punk modern fiction; it's credited with starting the "cyberpunk" movement hence the funny juxtaposition of its roots being on a typewriter.>

This astrology stuff doesn't do one bit of good for you, if you don't take some action. Do something. Sitting at home and staring at the trailer's wall results in nothing.

I could do some fund raising, court some venture capital, open up a bigger office, print up some fancy stationary, solicit advertisers and sponsors, hire technicians, managers, receptionists, and so on, and make this "astrofish.net" thing a big deal. Or, I can, like I do now, support it through readings and odd jobs, and keep a firm hand on the direction of my material. Ultimately, the responsibility is all mine. I kind of like my low-key, low-tech approach. Home base is trailer in South Austin; I get to do what I want, as I want, and I don't have to exchange any portion of my soul for what I do.

My redheaded Cap friend came by Monday afternoon for our usual fair-weather walk. We had to detour so I could drop my tax form in the mail. I was talking about the employment issue, my take on it, and she started to relate her version of it to me, "Here, let me tell you a story," she said.

"A guy is passing front of this house. On the porch, there's a man and an old dog. The old dog is whimpering, obviously in pain. The passerby asks what's the problem. The old man replies, 'The dog is laying on an rusty nail, must hurt like hell.' The passerby asks why the dog doesn't move, and the man replies, 'The pain to change isn't as great as the pain to remain'."

Various thoughts moral and diverting: astrowhore.org
I'm not sure whether I should be insulted or proud. One of the most disconcerting comments made at yesterday's journal writers' gathering was the suggestion that Bubba Sean's web log cum journal [astrowhore.org> was actually being done by me.

Look it up in Domain Name search "whois" and it'll show that I registered the domain name, astrowhore.org.net.com. Yes, that's mine. I've got links all over the place to it. I played with it, and then I abandoned it. Something wasn't clicking for me. I toyed with some new online journal software, then plugged it in over there, and handed the whole thing over to Bubba as a form of self-expression.

Cheap server, no frills, paid for a year. Domain name, paid for a year. Cost me less than $100 to get it all rolling. I did the web work on it, then let him run with it.

When that year's up, either Bubba will take over the payments, or he'll do something else. A year is a long time to a Gemini. As it stands, it's gotten him a loyal following. And that $100? A lot cheaper than several years of intense therapy. No, it's not me. It is Bubba Sean, the Gemini, noted for saying, and I quote, "You can’t say 'Bubba Sean' without saying 'BS'."

He had four planets in Gemini, excellent taste in tequila & whiskey, good taste in vehicles & music, fair taste in cigars [a few are questionable, but I'd implicitly trust his recommendations>, and sometimes, poor judgment when it comes to females. Like I have any room to compare myself on that last account.

"But he sounds just like you!" No, he doesn't; although, he does borrow a certain amount of literary style from me. He actually has a much better command of the language than I do, especially when it comes to certain explicit words. Nope, not me.

I do have "webmaster rights" but the text? That's one of my Bubba's [or several - he's a Gemini> through and through. Not me at all.

Too much to think about
After driving boat all over the lake on Sunday morning, that's two [2> mornings in a row I've been up at 5 to go fish, I wandered up to Quero's to meet the Austin Journal Writing folks. Out of five present, one of them had a regular job. The rest of us, 80%, are odd jobbing, doing a little of this and a little of that. Or like me: fishing and doing astrology.

That's a lot of us without a regular paying job.

One of the funnier moments resulted from an encounter in a McDonald's before we ever got fishing. A couple of guys towing another bass boat, took one look at me and my buddy, and then asked me, "There was tournament at the lake yesterday? Just one day, right?"

Fishing buddy Bubba grumbled about this as we climbed back into the truck, "Next thing you know, they'll be asking **me** if __I'm__ the guitar player."

I had just the best time fishing on Sunday, that's two days in a row, two different lakes, and Sunday's catch?

At one point, I was laughing so hard from almost falling in that I almost fell in a second time.

As far as the fishing itself, what with me being the "Fishing Guide to the Stars," Sagittarius and all, despite my modesty, the fact suggests that I did, indeed, get skunked on Sunday, \\i.e.\\, no fish for me. Bubba got two small ones, pictures to follow. But the humor was back, the attitude was good, and life was grand. It was cloudy with warm, wet tuffs of moisture scudding up from the coast, making for an enjoyable, pleasantly overcast morning.

Best thing I caught was some good BBQ in place I wouldn't have stopped at if it hadn't been Sunday, and if we hadn't been in a hurry - Billy's Bar B-Q in Bastrop. There were 11 bucks on the wall - that's almost all of Santa's crew - excellent ambiance.

I was hustling to get back to that gathering of the local journal writers. Been on the books for a while, just seemed like the thing to do. As I alluded to before, they're interesting, qualified people mostly without \\real\\ jobs.

After the writers left, I was joined by a few more friends. Something about those Margaritas on a Sunday afternoon. A little bubbling "queso flameado," or, as the one sweet Pisces explained, "It's Texas Fondue." I was sucking on a tall latte from Jo's, just down the street, and we got to talking about a business deal.

It's just a talking phase, nothing concrete, too many variables, too much to consider in one time, but I got hint about a possible meeting for a maybe job offer. I'd have to relocate to another town. I'd have to work at a desk some of the time. I'd have to answer the phone, manage a budget, and work for someone else. Wouldn't all be inside, though, and that's a plus. Better still, this unnamed town? It's a location that I dearly love.

Two things to consider: I wouldn't have to give up my writing, and it would mean a regular paycheck.

It's all a long, long way off. But it would be nice to consider not worrying about little things that crop up, like the server's bill, or cat food. Might never happen. Might be a long shot, or a pipe dream, and tomorrow morning, I still have to worry about paying for the credit card that has the server's recurring monthly fee on it. Plus, the city, county, state and especially federal income taxes - all that, as well.

I'm not into visual portents too much. Saw an Osprey with a fish in its talons, caught a big fish. I did see a Horny Toad on the way home. In the wan light of the dusk, heading into the sunset, there was a reptile I've never seen before, not in this part of Texas. I wander what **that** animal totem is?

Of course, it could be another guy, just looking for his dinner. Impressive looking fellow, too, almost didn't see him, due to his natural coloring against the limestone and brown grass.

Saturday the 13th. New Moon is slicing into Taurus. The Lake.

By the time we rolled into Fayette County, it was foggy, almost cool out.

Looked like we were going to get skunked, at one point, not many fish were biting. A few nibbled, but none of the lake's denizens seemed particularly interested.

"Dude. That's the way it is with this lake, 'Fayette's feast or famine.'"

Let's see what happened, we motored around some, the boat performed very well up on the plane, the sun stayed hidden most of the morning, we got "misted" on pretty heavily, noticed a lot a Osprey, one with a fish, "Hey, put that back!" And then, about the time we were thinking about pulling out, I kept pointing to one spot, but my fishing buddy kept suggesting something else. We compromised - his boat, his call. Good call, too.

Using a Carolina set-up, he caught a bid, bad, bass. Minutes later, same set-up, another strike. Bigger fish, even.

"Quick, get the scales, the camera, the ruler!" It was over 22 inches in length, and the battery for the camera was dead, as was the battery in the scale. Take my word for it, that was a good-sized fish.

My turn, next, "Hey, toss your lizard over there, let it drift."

I snickered at the comment. But I did toss the lizard over there, and I did catch, and I am not making this up, a ladder. It was an old boarding ladder that had been in the lake for some time. But the next cast, that caught me a nice

On the way back, though, we had the most entertaining catch of the day.

Friday afternoon.
I was rounding the SRV statue on the trail, underneath the overbearing presence of the temporary stage for the weekend's events at Auditorium Shores, listening to some drummer work out, effectively blocked from my vision by the storm fencing covered in black platic sheeting. I meandered along, and then I heard a really loud, somewhat familiar, "DUDE!" Then, "KRAMER! DUDE!"

A golf cart careened up from on the other side of the fence, the driver pitched it sideways, and it came to rest, slinging a ton of dust in the air and gravel everywhere.



Bubba Sean, as it were.

"Yeah, I wasn't supposed to be working this one, but at the last minute...."

Got home, showered, thought about a nice little nap, thought better of it because I have to go to sleep early so I can get up early, "Fish all day, make up lies," is our motto.

Phone rings, Bubba again, "Can I stop buy for a little while?" Sure. He cooled off in the AC, then we ambled back up to the show. Slid me a ticket. Saw a couple of opening acts, then caught a Chemical Brothers DJ set, wandered back to the trailer. Heard some of Cake and the Stone Temple Pilots were up later, but I have to get up early. Trying my luck with a new hat, "So many lures, so little time."

Blackmail is a little east of here, on South Congress Avenue. Eclectic, a little trendy, a little classic, it's mostly [as the name would imply> black clothing. The front display, for the past few weeks, has been this priceless, artistic display of cowboy boots.

Since I was trolling along with almost dead batteries in the camera, I just snagged one, quick shot, hoping it turned out for the best.

The picture didn't catch any of the boots, other than the neon one, but in the reflection, there's my half naked body. Which sparked another thought, The Mirror Project. Don't know if they'll publish the picture, but it was worth a try.

But it was accepted:
The Mirror Project.

I must be really easy to please, "Hey, I'm going to the lake Saturday, want to go?" Makes my weekend complete.

I've been meaning to transfer dozens of images I've got from the little Handspring Camera thing.

I was marginally successful with my results. There was one, of course, that I caught at the last minute, just off Congress Avenue, I glimpsed up and saw the street sign "Music Lane." On top of it, it says, "No Outlet."

Ask most the musicians I run with, and that's the case. It's a dead end street. Sort like being a rock star astrology guy, too. Can't not do it, but man, it's lonely out here on the road.

Too bad the little camera is rather limited in its capabilities. There's a sign, just in front of the sidewalk in front of the Texas State School for the Deaf, "Sidewalk Closed." Stretching out as far as the eye can see, pristine [if somewhat old> sidewalk begging to be trod upon.

I don't have many regrets in life, but here's one I'm going to have to miss, as I'm too broke to just hit the road for nothing other than a good time: ZZ Top's \\Casino Tour 2002\\. I figure that would be too much fun, a chance to the Top in an intimate casino setting.

I suppose, though, that's a like the sign, Music Lane and No Outlet.

One regret I didn't have last night was my faithful "right of first refusal" Aquarius buddy. She grabbed me for some dinner at Hoovers, and we then tried [and failed> to catch the roller derby team one place then, somehow wound up at a dive on Sixth Street, under the soft evening air, listening to story after story from the usual diverse group. But the best comment came from an ever later arriving Aquarius in a darling vintage dress.

"Nice dress," one guy [Virgo> commented.

She glared. She left with the Pisces, and returned, changed into slacks, a little later. Seems she had a stuck zipper. Or something.

Strains of guitar solo floated through the evening air, the one Aquarius was unstuck, the other Aquarius was better, and I enjoyed Hoover's "Jamaican Jerk" pork ribs. Just about everyone agreed though, the music across the street? Wasn't that good. Might not be an outlet.

I'll get them up as I get them polished up, but I'm happy to report that I'll have my El Paso restaurant reviews all in a line. Of course, I'll be missing a few places, too. I was looking at Forti's, the Truck Stop, and Cattleman's.

I love being back in Austin's "moisture laden" environment, but my sinus cavity is suddenly full, too. There's just no winning, either way.

At the beginning of my afternoon walk, I was thinking about people who live in hostile environments because, after being out in the desert some, I would consider that a hostile environment. Not too bad, just maybe not some place I want to be permanently. Then again, I love the stark, barren beauty of all, don't get me wrong, and I would have to put El Paso up there as one of the favorite places I've visited.

I still recall an El Paso native's comment, after showing up in Austin, "It's too green, and it's **way** too humid. It's like being in a swimming pool, or a bath tub, all the time." Personally, I like the moisture.

Along the trail, I noticed several batches of little ivy-looking plants with three leaflets, red stems. I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were poison ivy, a local favorite. Doesn't bother me much, or hasn't, not in the last few years. One, I'm careful, two, I don't scratch when it itches, three, I'm not as allergic to it as I used to be, and four, I use antihistamines when necessary. Still, it makes me wonder why someone would deliberately choose to live in a place that seemed overtly hostile to him or her.

I'm enough of a desert rat so that I can adapt to the harsh, stark, arid wastes. There's a beauty there, right at the base of the Franklin Mountains, not found anyplace else on Earth.

Cutting through the neighborhoods, here in South Austin, I grabbed big coffee at Jo's, snagged a cinnamon roll and a vegan oatcake, peeled my shirt off again, and continued onward to Shady Acres. Just as I was passing the Miller-Crockett B&B, someone was turning in, she took one look at me, shirtless, a beverage and bag of food I hand, my hair up in a bun, "That's the life!"

Choices. What's important? I would surmise, guessing from the sign on the side of the Stupid Utility Vehicle, that the lady making the comment was either an owner, a manager, or even the housekeeping person for the B&B. Maybe all three.

Choices? What's important?

Airports and lowriders
I was looking for cultural stimulation, and seeking a little bit of enlightenment about the culture I'd just been immersed in for the last four days. Airport newsstands are an interesting way to take a look at local plus transient artifacts.

I had about an hour to waste before the flight, and what I wound up looking at was a lowrider magazine of some sort. First off, I noticed that lowriders were not all of Hispanic origins, not from what I could see in the magazine.

Then, lest you think that my more intellectual interests were taking over, what I started to notice is that just about all lowriders, apparently, come equipped with a bikini clad model, and the kicker? She's wearing impossibly high stiletto and/or platform heels.

Those heels alone ad an extra six inches to the model's height. So it's a "paint by numbers" bikini and show place high heels.

I'm thinking I want a lowrider for my next car.

I can remember my aunt asking me about my work, she just believed I should be driving them around in a truck rather than a rent car. [It was \\their\\ rent car, and I'm not going to question the logistics as I refuse to drive to and from El Paso.>

But from what I've seen ion the pictorial layouts, every lowrider comes equipped with a raven haired, almond eyed, bikini clad woman with high heels. I wouldn't want to objectify women at all, not me, I'm all for the sisterhood.

I just want to figure out where these accessories are sold. Mind you, it's not what I saw in El Paso.

But still. I guess I should've bought that magazine, but then, I was more consumed with world affairs, and getting home.

I was helping my special Aries friend at one point, just looking at a photo shoot she was supposed to do for the El Paso International Museum of Art. Reader, photographer, I figured there would be some good perks along the way.

So, one thing leads to another, and I'm at the press conference, wearing my finest Southwestern travel attire, a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, you now the drill, right? It's balmy out, a little nippy under the AC, but not too bad.

"Hey, we need more people to fill out the shoot, crowd on in," the director was shooing me in. So I was on the news, either at 5, or 6, or maybe 10. Or 11. I don't know, never heard back.

But that was just the first part. See, the big deal was an Alan Bean [the Apollo 12 astronaut> picture that was bought/donated to the museum. What makes it different, like egg tempura paint, or maybe that's egg-drop paint, the astronaut incorporated a sprinkling of moon dust [dust retrieved from the Moon's surface, via his space suit> worked into his paintings.

Cool, huh? "Yeah, you would get along with this guy, he blends science and art." I snuck a picture of the unveiled painting. It's hard to tell from a digital image, but there's an imprint of his space boot on the picture, too. Sort of strange, from an artistic point of view, but the actual image itself is good, making it a more than a novelty.

Ticket in Cloudcroft.
My father, Pa Wetzel, and his older Sister [my aunt> stopped through El Paso on their way back to Big D, and who knows where from there?

They wanted to hang out, see some sites, cruise around El Paso, Southern New Mexico, do the tourist thing for a day. But first, a comment about age, my father is in his seventies, his sister, is older than that. Mighty spry, too, age or no age. They're kind of funny, as they keep nattering and looking after each other. Pa Wetzel has taken to using to using two canes, and he is continuously forgetting them. His sister helps remind him, just as she forgets her own cane.

Running around with them was serious good fun. I blocked out nothing, absolutely nothing, for the 12 hour period I was with them. I will always maintain that I'm the best driver in the family, and one look at my recorded history of legal infractions would indicate that I did tend to drive a little fast, but I'm pretty careful. I aven't run into anything in over two decades.

We meandered up 54 towards Sierra Blanca. In the distance, as the snow-covered mountain drew into sight, there was some discussion about whether it was a cloud or a mountaintop. I knew it was a mountain, I just let them argue their points until we got a little closer.

We were just sort of chugging along, stopped at one place to get some pictures, stopped in Alamagordo at coffee shop I knew about, the Olive Branch. Then we wandered up towards Cloudcroft. In the middle of town, there was a flashing light that school zone. I was going about 30 mile an hour, and slowed down, mindful of the fact that a cop was sitting **right there** and guess what? He tagged me. I was going slow enough, when he started to turn around, I was going to let him cut in front of me, he motioned me forward, then turned on his lights and pulled me over. I laughed. I dug out my Texas Driver License, pa Wetzel grumbled mightily, and his Sister started to make a fuss, "You weren't doing anything wrong!"

Rent car insurance, license, Texas tags, stern looking state trooper, I wasn't about to argue. After that coffee in Alamagordo, I needed to relive myself as well, but I wasn't about to do that with the officer around.

Back up a bit, when the folks had rolled into town, Pa Wetzel had been exclaiming how fast his Sister had been driving, "all the way from Marfa."

I signed for my ticket, $82 dollars in the mail in the next 30 days. "You weren't going 34 MPH," the both of them argued. If I'd given them a chance, they'd have argued, right then and there with the cop, then the judge.

"Look at it this way, I'm taking the bullet for you guys, okay?" ["So shut up, already," I thought.> I had more than half an hour of a diatribe aimed at small town cops, taking advantage of tourists, and so forth to listen to. Plus, I my aunt was well prepared to get in a and duke it out with the judge, "There is NO WAY you were going no 34 miles an hour. Not at all. Maybe 25, but not any faster than that!"

Okay, so here's a couple of points: I was over the posted speed limit in a school zone. I wasn't going 34, as the ticket suggests, but I know better than to argue with a uniformed officer. After I got the ticket, though, I did ask for directions to Ruidoso. The officer's demeanor changed, he smiled a toothy grin, and gave us excellent directions to backroad that shaved a few miles off our route.

Didn't stop the grumbling from passengers, though.

We wound up in Ruidoso at the Tex-Mex place, nice signage: Tex-Mex - Ruidoso and Lubbock. I didn't get the connection, but I never claimed to understand some things. The food was excellent, and the price? I love New mexico cuisine for a reason: cheap and hot. Now if I can just find that one girl like that....

And that ticket? Although my family has offered to pay for it, I think I can afford it, although, it cuts heavily into my profit for the weekend.

Marcus Aurelius & Aries
One of my buddies had suggested, years ago, Marcus Aurelius "Mecitations" as a concise guide to matters spiritual and philosophical. My buddy was right, and it's one of the little books I've taken to carrying with me.

The passage I was reading before I went to sleep the other night was so perfect:

"Give your heart to the trade you have learnt, and draw refreshment from it. Let the rest of your days be spent as one who has whole-heartedly committed his all to the gods. And is therefore no man's master or slave." [Book 4, #38>

Sunday morning, my first six readings were Aries [sun sign>. 6 Aries in a row, one right after the other. What are the odds? Just a weird observation. The sixth one sat down, I asked his birthday, he told me, I stopped, "Man, you got to give me a little break, that's one, two, three, you're the sixth. Nothing but Aries."

I was working through that passage from Marcus, then, back to back, the Aries thing. Six. Not one, not two, but six. First thing, Sunday morning. Sets a tone, I guess. I was supposed to make a point, being unsure about what I do, like any one else, I question my motives and direction, a little internal self-examination isn't too bad.

But you know what? That's the answer to my lingering question, and I do give my all to the scopes that I write. I can't quit, I tried.

El Paso in the springtime
My biggest fear is that I've got a spare cigar cutter tucked into my carry-on baggage. I could just see that causing some trouble for me. It's been a long time since I've been at the airport early enough to get the free doughnuts SWA offers. But I was there early enough, not only to have some of the doughnuts, but to talk to a loitering security guy, "Doughnuts any good?" "Sure, just not as good as Lone Star." "Man, I had Krspy Kreme this morning, and even that's not as a good as a Lone Star Doughnut."

Reading a back issue of the \\New York Times Book Review\\, I found an article about a book noting that the white cowboys learned their trade from the first cowboys, the Vaqueros. Perfect thing to think about, doing the Texas two stop across the state in the morning light. [Austin - Midland - El Paso, who booked this flight?>

I suppose it looks a little funny, I didn't get fully dressed until I got to the airport, waiting to clear security before I put on my hunk of a bolo tie, and the rings I wear. Anyone in Austin knows I wear one ring, and not much else. But for this trip, I put on that spare wedding ring I keep handy. Never can tell when a romantic pawnshop band of gold can come in handy - preventative medicine.

I've been doing the Austin - El Paso shuffle for close to a decade now. It's not like Dallas, or other places, where I share family influences, I've always, in the past, thought that El Paso was more my town than anyone else in my family.

I got off the plane, ambled to pick up my suitcases, dialing a number along the way to see about a ride while thinking I should check on the other arrivals because Pa Wetzel and his Sister were due in sometime Saturday morning, too. I round the corner, head towards the baggage claim, and there's my Pa Wetzel, hassling a rent car counter clerk, and his Sister, trying to wrestle their suitcases along.

Before my ride ever showed up, I had the old man and my aunt packed up in their rent car and headed off to wherever they were going.

That wedding ring? Seemed to work, I only had to promise myself twice to clients' daughters.

Friday's Five.
"You having a bad day or what? I just read your journal," Bubba asked.

1> Yes, I was having a bad day. It's a persistent problem with my conscience and customer service, see a former client keeps playing games, and I'm not interested. Paying customers are fine, non-paying customers are time consuming. Enough rude people, and my normally friendly demeanor gets worn a little too thin.

2> Bubba recounted the funniest story, about an encounter with a federal representative [uniformed variety>, "So he asked me, 'Are you a Leo?' and I said, no, I'm a Virgo." I'm not sure his conversation really went like that, this is Texas and as natives, we are occasionally given to a bit of hyperbole. Remember, my buddy was telling his story to someone who's an astrologer. "Leo," in that context, meant Law Enforcement Officer. Chicken Fried Steak, Sagittarius waitress, excellent food, and pretty good mashed potatoes, at the Spoke. Better yet, the mass and volume of the Ranch Dressing outweighed the salad itself. Good place to eat. Good place to listen to music. Good place to dance country. Which I'm not about to do with some guy I refer to as Bubba.

3> Jo's coffee is a personal favorite. Amy's Ice Cream is also a personal favorite. The two of them together is an incredible mood altering substance. Got a cappuccino at Jo's and rushed over to Amy's for a scoop of Mexican Vanilla in it.

4> One of my favorite pieces of advice, doled out frequently, is that, "It'll quit hurting so much when you quit banging your head against the wall."

5> I have a client who sent me some disturbing stuff. It started some time ago, with a note that read, "I don't want to be your client, I want to be you \\friend\\." To my mind, I read that as, "I don't want to pay for your services, I want them for free."

It was along the way, I was discussing Kevin Smith movies, the book I just handed off to one friend, the fact that King James Bible is sitting on my coffee table, web software, Zen, and that girl from the other weekend, so all of this runs together. I can't recall the conversation, not exactly, but it went something like this, "Is that what Jesus [fictional character> said to Mary Magdalene? 'I don't want to be your client, I just want to be your \\friend\\'?" Or was it the other way around?

I'll be in motel room in El Paso all weekend, I'm sure I'll get a chance to look it up in their Bible, placed by the Gideons.

When the cat deigns to look at her e-mail, I'd expect a rude answer from her. It's expected; it's that cat thing, being aloof and all.

[addressed to the cat's e-mail>:
:> I loved your movie. I especially liked the part when you reached
:> around and licked your back. It was so unexpected and dramatic.
:> I hope you make another one real soon.
|We're waiting on the right script.
|"A home without a cat -- and well-fed, well-petted
|and properly revered cat - may be a perfect home, perhaps,
|but how can it prove title?"
|Mark Twain in Pudd'nhead Wilson

When I was looking at the list of popular links for the day, I found this article was way up there.

A few years ago, a Taurus friend, then living in Austin, was riding down the street with her friend, and she spotted me. "Hey, that's Kramer!" When she told me about it, she said her friend driving, shortly after that, pointed out a homeless-looking indigent character, and said, "Hey, that's Fred!" "You know him?" "No, but you didn't know that other guy, did you?" "Yes, it was Kramer, he lives here, he's a... never mind."

A week or two ago, after I dined sumptuously on barbecue, as I was wandering homeward [trailer-wise>, I saw the store's manager out, looking for a couple guys who just escaped with "$30 worth of food. Homeless guys. Did you see them?" Yes, they were on bicycles, and they went that-a-way. I was just worried, like the previous situation, that I looked homeless, too. "No," she reassured me over her shoulder, "some of the girls know you, and anyway, you always pay."

I've been rude to customers. I've done it recently. In my defense, though, how many times do I sift through various e-mails, how many notes that include a name and a birthday, and a command, "tell me my future"? I'm still stinging, more like singed, from one e-mail exchange, rearranged my schedule to accommodate an emergency phone reading for someone, only to get hung up on when I asked how they wanted to pay for it.

These are normal, day-to-day, business problems. I've long since learned to ask for money up front. Couple of bounced checks? After that, I learned, the hard way, the check **isn't** in the mail, and I have to wait until a check clears before I can proceed.

The question is, at what point is the customer being rude to the merchant? Is it fair to expect exemplary "customer service" when the customer is pushy, arrogant, demanding, or impudently self-righteous?

It's like a reading one time, I suggested a particular fixed sign was stubborn, and the client spent the rest of the reading arguing that he or she wasn't stubborn.

Actual exchange another time: "I read an astrology book once, and what you say about [insert sign here> is so wrong. I'm not like that all."

[turning on sarcasm> Oh really? [turning off sarcasm> I need to fix that leaky sarcasm faucet.

I never claimed to be objective; I've recorded my observations. Pretty simple, see: I have my astrology chart. You have your chart. The two interact. My written word is filtered through the eyes of a middle-aged [not an X-er, not a boomer> Sagittarius. I can't not write as such. I've done ghost writing, and that's a simple exercise, but it's still me, the Sagittarius author, writing as the ghost.

The problem is an astrologer [psychic, psychologist, & etc.] who posits a theory that they are completely objective; that's not true. As one buddy with an advanced degree in psychology is so fond of pointing out, "They’re the most screwed up of all."

Glad my degrees are English Lit, not psych.

I was standing at Jo's one afternoon, ordering some coffee, and the pretty barista noticed my cell phone was blinking, "You've got a call," she said. At the local sub shop, there's a sign, "If you're talking on a cell phone, you're not in line."

I'm not about to talk on the phone while I'm trying to order a cappuccino, or a vegetarian sub on whole wheat [with bacon>. That's rude. I try to always include social grease, too, like "Please," and "thank you," and "that color looks good on you," when it's appropriate. Given my sartorial tastes, that last comment might be good for a laugh, as well. I've been told, although I've never corroborated this, that folks of Southern extraction tend to be more polite.

By the time confessional, demeaning, obstreperous e-mail wends its way down the virtual vacuum, and gets vomited onto my in-box, surrounded by offers to make my cat's penis bigger, think about what's written. "Make the font size bigger." See #5. Maybe the font and the cat's [non-existent> penis can get together.

Another batch of "you might be redneck if" jokes cycled this way. Some were old, one or two were new. One of them, all I can say, I have new aspirations:

>30. Your lifetime goal is to own a fireworks stand.

Someone is rude to me at my fireworks stand? All that rocket-launched firepower? Think of the fun I could have. Better yet, I'd only have to work twice a year, New Years' and Fourth of July. I'll get a big sign, "Buy one, get 11 FREE."

Got a complaint about the fireworks? "Look, they all have 90 warranty on them, but see, you bought this in July and now it's December...."

Yeah, I know I need to work on customer service, but then, it would be nice if there were more nice e-mails to answer. Like this:

[The user's e-mail name is not found.>
|> Know quite a bit about firearms and tackle.
|> Just one more unappealing thing
|> for a gal to know.

"Oh no, those are very appealing qualities. I like a girl who knows how to handle a firearm. Actual topic at dinner. You'd be amazed at the number of good Texas girls who knows how to handle a firearm. Over Cherry Creek catfish, we discussed the chickens in the neighborhood [poultry>, which girls should be armed, a few who shouldn't be, and why I forgot to mention hush puppies, fried green tomatoes, and Pisces."

Bubba [Capricorn> mailed me a CD he burned, with a collection of songs, "guaranteed" to breath life into any party. I'm not buying it. It drove the cat under the bed.

Might have been the dramatic shift in weather, too, as another cold front blew through. Tuesday was one the first days I worked up a good sweat, even got an "almost" sunburn. No sun on Wednesday.

"Come on honey, your fans are clamoring for you," I told the cat, as I dragged her out from under the bed. Didn't work.

It's April. I shouldn't be wearing long pants, so I didn't. While I didn't freeze my cojones off, it wasn't exactly "warm" outside. I was wearing a denim, long sleeve shirt over a special T-shirt, "I got married in Las Vegas at the Graceland Chapel." I was just corresponding with Ms. Fredlet about her upcoming wedding, "I think we'll do a drive-thru wedding, rent a Hummer limo, or something." The mind boggles.

Seemed like I was on the phone non-stop, all day, taking one break to slide up to Threadgill's for a reading. Capricorn waitress, too. Figures. Call it a Cap day, with the Moon just getting into Capricorn.

> Anyway, I have noticed that aol is now rerunning their
> horoscopes from three months ago

You just noticed? Astrology dot com, from what I've been told, has been doing that for a while. I've heard different versions, from both disgruntled former employees and avid horoscope readers, but they all point to recycled material; I have not verified this myself.

Some years ago, in contract dispute, my one [Aquarius> lawyer suggested I get some expert advice. After some searching, I found a Capricorn [keeping with the theme>, and he turned out to be worth every penny. He made a good point, being an outsider to astrology business, but not new to electronic publishing and intellectual property rights, he observed that I needed a "no archive rights" clause.

Figure this, save about 3 years worth of my columns, then start re-running them. Same tired gags, but they would be fresh, all over again. Next time you look at a horoscope, think about that. Is this something you might've seen before, just recycled?

My electronic archives, on this site, covers everything from about 1993 to the present. Fortunately, there's a logical and markedly improved quality. No repeats. I tried that once, in 1993, and I was severely chastised by my then-editor. "Don't ever do that again, or I will come over there and beat your personally." The editor is now writing his own books, but that didn't stop me from not making that mistake again. If I recall, I tried to pass off a weekly as a monthly, and it failed. Miserably.

Last year, I was accused of recycling my material, but subsequent investigation [5/10> proved that the accuser wasn't a very careful reader.

This year, there was no yearly overview [no one offered to pay for it>, no monthly missive [no one offered to pay for it>, and I love doing the weekly scopes. I also have a year's worth, and then some, of scopes spooled up, so I'm not worried about quitting. But I am taking a break from writing any more.

I recall, from a writing workshop in college, attributed to Ernest Hemingway, that a writer should only quit when he doesn't want to. So I've quit for while. I'm working on "other stuff." Something else to amuse me.

After all, these scopes I write? They're for me. Glad some one else likes them, too. As that one Cap guy said, "Bonus." [Quoted Sagittarius Frank Zappa, too.> Too bad the Cap CD didn't work.

I quit.
I'm giving up.
Not really, but as I was walking yesterday afternoon, reflecting on life, the universe, the moon in Sagittarius, and the amount of abuse I've been receiving in e-mail lately. Some frankly confessional material I can do without, at least, when there's no paycheck attached, I wonder if I'm bound by any professional ethics like anonymity.

I had two observations, as I sidled along on the trail, burdened by no more than a shirt in hand, while trying to figure out where to have lunch. One was a scene of a great blue heron, on one end of a dock, and huge white egret, on the other side of that dock. The long legged birds are graceful, and they seemed to think that the water was too cold for their tastes. Or maybe the hunting wasn't very good. Or maybe, there was some sort of inter-species mating thing going on. I know pretty much next to nothing about the sex life of birds. For all I know, they might be the same brand of bird, just different sexes, or that blue-gray heron looking guy was the old man, and the young one was one of his groupies?

Further along the trail, matter of fact, it's in the shoals of Shoal Creek, right where the creek enters the river, there's a collection of some kind of rock sculptures. Ad hoc artistic constructions of some kind. My red-headed Cap buddy pointed them out to me the other day. It was funny, she saw male genitalia, and I kept seeing that leggy blond from the other night, thin and serene. Good artwork, if it can evoke such a different yet similar reaction from both of us.

I finally opted to go the distance, added a few extra miles to my route, and walked into Green Mesquite, close to home. Two meat plate, Tuesday's special. Chewing on a toothpick, as I left satiated, I got thinking about a scene from last summer, hot summer day, a Gemini picked me up at the Green Mesquite, and we went for a quick swim in the holy water at Barton Springs. Most folks take their dogs over there on a hot day; I wondered how I could spin that story up into a decent scope, and I reached to write it down. "Most folks take their dogs there, Gemini takes her astrologer for dip." Then I stopped myself. I forgot, I've got enough material to last more than a year, and I'm quitting for a while.

I love writing the scopes, and they're going up, barring unforeseen circumstances, for the next year and half; that's not the problem.

Too bad I'm thinking of a quote from Kevin Smith's epic thriller, "Clerks" again.

Then one of my buddies writes:
> You have the coolest website by the way!!...one of the
> best I've ever seen... Too bad you're a godless
> heathen astrologer and cavorter with demonic forces...
> if only all that talent could be turned to the Light
> side of the force!!...

Comments like that? Kevin Fowler has a great promo T-shirt, "Yee-fucking-haw."

"After all, I know your real age. 29. Don't worry, I won't tell a soul." [via fredlet>

Lamb by Christopher Moore.

Irreverent, yet, with a hint of some really excellent scholarship contained therein. I've got a friend who's a devout follower of both Eastern and Western traditions, \\i.e.\\, he's devout in his Judeo-Christian faith, and yet he's well-read in both traditional Western Philosophy as well as able to quote chapter and verse of certain Zen/Buddhist &etc. tracts.

I'm thinking about this guy, in particular, because the book goes to him, next.

I like the bulk of Christopher Moore's catalog, it's light, airy, yet the story lines usually have some meat in them. As a big bonus, as far as I'm concerned, his work with the supernatural and the "magical realism" stuff is quite good.

It's hard line to find, the thin mark between taunting ridicule while dealing with a scared topic with appropriate reverence. I think \\Lamb\\ does just fine.

It's a slightly fictional look at the life of Jesus, except, the tale is told from the point of view of his childhood friend, Biff. Biff is resurrected, then given the task of writing down the story of Joshua of Nazareth, and the tale covers the missing years, from age 12 to 30, in particular. Biff is a hound dog, or, in the terms of one of my friend's daughter, a "Slut Puppy."

It's nice to know, in the author's words, that angels are clueless, daytime TV fascinates them, and that the messiah, when he drank too much, suffered a hangover like the rest of us.

There was one echo from Practical Demon Keeping, though. Since I've long since passed my copy of that book on, I couldn't tell if it was my broken memory, or if this was a name used more than once. With most authors, sooner or later, the old formula crops back up.

But that's such a small complaint about one scene in a book that tries - and succeeds - rather well.

I was finishing this book up over the Easter weekend - only seemed appropriate. I can also tell, from my captive audience, that I'm not doing proper justice to the novel's narrative as my Monday walking buddy, the Red headed Capricorn, she didn't get any of it.

eletronic news I can use, to lighten my day
via fredlet:
> I think you'd have fun with him and his wife (he's a Gemini and she's an
> Aquarius I think...can't remember) anyhoo, even if they don't call you, they
> will be doing a big-time food related tour since they both write for
> egullet.com. Can you send me a list of restaurants you like as well as your
>favorite dish at each of them?

I'd have to start outside of Austin for this list, go south on 183 to Lockhart. I hope this guy can really eat, too. Start at Floyd's [Chisolm Trail> BBQ, make sure you try the fresh, homemade bread. [Bring me a loaf, white or wheat, doesn't matter> BBQ Chicken is good, too. Then brisket in Black's, around the corner from Floyd's, then up and over to Kruez's [pronounced krites, and I don't know why>. There, get whatever looks good, but you're going to have to eat it with your hands.

Go West from Lockhart to San Marcos, Valentino's on the town square. Bacon and Ranch Dressing pizza. Stop by the Humidor for a fine selection of after dinner cigars, then the coffee place, just up the street for some decent coffee. Then, the bank-looking building on the NW corner of the square, make sure they get a chance to read the plaque on it, all about the Newton Boys. Them East Coast fellows, their idea of a historical plaque is "Washington slept here," while we tend immortalize criminals. And politicians, but then, I'm repeating myself.

Cherry Creek Catfish Restaurant, 5712 Manchaca [problems saying the name of that street? We say, Man-check. Don't ask.> I forget which night it's all you can eat catfish filets, but it's a cut above the standard catfish parlor. Damn fine wait staff, too. Sagittarius, ask for them by sign.

Back up to Austin, start at Ben White Boulevard, exit north on First Street. Get a tattoo. Stop at every Mexican, Tex-Mex and assorted other dives. Names change pretty frequently, but La Reyana, the bakery place, and Polvos are all good bets. Les from Big Beep was telling me about the bakery the other night, "I can get two barbacoa tacos and an apple fritter, for just a couple of bucks...."

One last stop on First Street, Bouldin Creek coffee thing. 1502 S. First, I think. One word: vegetarian. Well, and good coffee plus adorable T-shirts. I had some really amazing greens with red beans and home made cornbread.

From S. First, you're at a fork in the culinary road, but I'd go left and left on S. Lamar [note: do not go north of the river> and I'd head back down to Maria's Taco Express [breakfast taco>, then come back up to Artz Rib House, their "Country Style BBQ Pork Rib" thing is special. Then, Maudie's Too, just north of there, get the special enchiladas: beef enchiladas covered with meat chili, topped with grated cheese, diced onion, and two fried eggs. I call them "truck stop enchiladas," and I am forever grateful to that waitress who suggested them to me one afternoon. Suzi's Chinese Kitchen is right next door, and to break up the flavor, try something there. The "Jalapeno Chicken" something or other is very good.

Need a break from this routine? Then try the original Chuy's on Barton Springs Road. See if you can get carded, too. The drinks there are excellent, and while there are several fine places to eat, three stand out. As I mentioned, Chuy's. Just have to do that one. Classic Tex-Mex at its finest. Then there's Romeo's. Love their "Angry Pasta" thing. Plus the desserts are extraordinary. Then, for a good deal, Tuesday's at Green Mesquite, get the two meat plate, I stick with Brisket and Pork Ribs, but the fresh peach cobbler with ice cream is amazing. "Just when you thought you couldn't eat any more...."

Head back East on Barton Springs Road, stop off at Threadgill's World HQ for veggies. No one does veggies like "Gills." The place is supposed to have excellent chicken fried steak, legendary fried green tomatoes. Let's be honest here, those items are just okay at the South Gill's location. But the veggie plates? Oh yes. Make sure you include green things in the choices. I miss the "orgy" plate. Used to be an item on the menu, the vegetable orgy, 11 different veggies, cook's choice. Always good. Besides, there's nothing quite like looking into her eyes, and saying, "Yes, I'd like an orgy, please." Those days are gone forever.

Go back to Congress Ave. Go South. Stop at El Sol y La Luna. Damn fine barbacoa there. Matter of fact, just about anything is good, but the barbacoa is surprisingly good. Step across the street to Jo's for an afternoon drink, either a coffee, a beer, and, if they have any on hand, home-made cinnamon rolls. Now, at this point, I'm willing to walk rather ride. Walk about two block up the hill to Guero's. My personal fave is either the Mauro Plate or the El Presidente plate. Both named for good, Democratic politicians.

There's a problem with the margarita's at Guero's, though, and this just might be my experience. On three different occasions, with three different Virgo's, they start getting intoxicated, telling me "tonight is your lucky night, cowboy..." and nothing happens. One time, the girl went home for something, and never showed back up, one time, the girl was in the parking lot talking to me, and evaded my grasp, and the third one, at least I got her in the trailer's door, but she passed out cold on the couch. Now, Bubba's been drinking with me on some nights, but I have no sights set on him. Go on a pleasant evening, sit on the patio, ask for Chrysjean. Tell him Bubba sent you. Above excellent service.

From Guero's, just a little further south, is the legendary Magnolia Café. Good breakfast food. Interesting dinner specials. One night, just when I thought the old Austin was completely paved over, they had, and I am not making this up, "chicken fried tofu". I used to love the gingerbread pancakes, but I've also gotten to really liking the cornmeal pancakes with jalapenos in them. Go in the morning, ask for Jeff or Cliff - but don't believe a word they say about me.

There's one place, north of the river, that I can really recommend, as well. Texas Chili Parlor. Now, I'm a seasoned professional, so I get the XXX chili [hot> and I dump jalapenos and diced onions into mine, just to make sure it's got that edge. The ownership recently changed, and the new guy has been patron for something like 20 years, so not much has changed. In fact, the only change so far was adding Lone Star beer, and doing away with live music, both welcome changes. Real hunks of meat in the chili, too.

Got two destinations that are a little out of the way, one's the Hula Hut. East on First Street until it becomes Lake Austin Blvd. On out to the "hut." You said this guy was big? As big as a tubular taco? Or fish tacos? The Hula Hut's claim to fame [it's a Chuy's chain child> is "Polynesian Tex-Mex." I don’t know how they do it, not with the size of the entrees, but the Hut has fine desserts, especially the dessert nachos and the fried ice cream, but wait, there's a another place, about two doors down, Mozart's, with good desserts, too. Decent coffee, but excellent desserts. It's great place for a cigar, a cappuccino, and a "death by chocolate" brownie thing [chocolate brownie cake, chocolate icing, chocolate fudge on top>.

Another place, heading the other direction completely, is South Side Meat Market in Elgin. After fishing all morning, BBQ is natural. We've always had good luck with Cartwright's in Bastrop, too, but the Elgin Meat Market is the place that started the Elgin Hot Links. [Look that one up yourself>. There's another café in Elgin, and since the town's so small, they don't really have a square, but that's the place where I got the waffle with the State of Texas in it. Can't give better directions because it's been a few years since I was last there.

There are couple of non-Austin suggestions I need to mention, too. One is Sushi on McKinney, in Dallas. Two words: Devil Roll. It's transcendental medicine, yes, it actually lives up to its name. It's way hot. Even to me. Paris Café in Ft. Worth, go for breakfast, the best biscuits, in the world. Or used to be, haven't been there since last summer. And Angelo's BBQ in Ft. Worth. There are two steakhouses I really, recommend, although, it's been years since I've been that way, one is Zeitner's Daughter's and the other is Zeitners. I might have the spelling wrong, but the "Steak tenders" were excellent. They're both in San Angelo. Another stop for steak is in Fabens, about 20 miles east of El Paso [I'll be there this weekend, matter of fact>, the place is called Cattleman's. Again, the appetizer is Steak Tenders, and it's a meal unto itself. Plus the beef, in any form, is excellent. The other place I enjoy in El Paso is Forti's [Mexican Elder>, and the truckstop. Don't laugh, that truck stop has food that's really good. Plus a phone at every booth on the wall. And there's always the Wall Street Bar & Grill in Midland.

I'm in quandary how to close, though. See: a dietary staple is "chili cheese fries," I would suspect that we have the best in Texas. But here's my dilemma, Snuffer's, on Lower Greenville in Dallas, has, by my standards, the best cheese fries in the world. They start with basket of fries, then they bake on two layers of cheese, add chives, jalapenos, real bacon bits, and a dollop of sour cream, then add some ranch dressing as a side dish for dipping. However, there's also Curra's, down here on Oltorf, with their "Pappas Curras" or something like that. Really, nothing more than chili cheese fries. French fries topped with cheese and chorizo. At Curra's south location, get those cheese fries and some octopus cerviche? That's all the meal I need. Plus they have this killer coffee stuff, too. But I still like Snuffer's fries, just a little bit more. It's a close call, though.

The debate, though, for a good close? Amy's Ice Cream. 6th Street location is the best choice anytime except Xmas time. Then the Guadalupe location is better, snag some ice cream and go look at the special Xmas light on 37th street [it's a weird thing we do in Austin, never mind that now>.

At the 6th Street location, go in, watch for flying ice cream, tip the ice cream scoopers, tip big, and try as many flavors as you want before you make a decision. My tried and true stand-by is always Mexican Vanilla, and on hot afternoon, when the butterscotch sauce has been cooking for a while, it starts to carmelize, get a little dab of that on it. There's an Amy's at the airport, and some days, when I'm about three hours too early for a flight, I get a scoop of that Mexican Vanilla in a double cappuccino. Most excellent. Talk about flying high. Another experience I've had at the 6th street store, I wandered in one afternoon, and the counter help said, "Wait, we're playing a game. Here, toss a taste spoon into the ice cream - you have to taste whatever it lands in...."

Amy herself is a Virgo. We love her. Her ice cream just rocks.

Anatomy of a good customer
Last Friday night, I was in Maria's Taco Express, a marginally legendary place where the food is excellent, plentiful and inexpensive. I call it marginally legendary because, for one, it hasn't been around all that long, and two, if the word ever really got out, then they'd be slammed all the time.

Going up to the counter, there's big, hand-lettered sign, "Anatomy of a perfect customer" with twelve or fourteen bullet points, items like, "Don't mumble" & "have cash ready" as well as a bunch of similar notes.

Nothing works better than theft of an idea, and I started thinking about such a list for this site. But what does make for the best user-astrologer interactions?

Working for a top ten, not sure how this will go:

1> Keep it short. "Brevity is the soul of wit" And that quote is quite funny, when taken in context. It's one my favorite misused, misunderstood bits in Shakespeare's canon, in Hamlet, where Polonius just won't shut up. Good advice, too bad the character can't follow the advice himself. As the queen suggests, "More matter with less art." Or as I say, "keep it short."

2> Identify yourself. Maybe a half dozen buddies I recognize by their e-mail. Anyone else? Think about it. I get what appears to be an anonymous e-mail from some address I've never seen before, and I'm supposed to realize that your really cute [AOL, Hotmail, & etc.> e-mail address is that person I talked to for hours yesterday? I've slept since then, I'm lucky if I know my own name, in fact, sometimes I have to check my wallet when I wake up, just so I know who I am.

3> Cash. Or a check. Or a credit card. Money gets my attention a lot faster than something really cute. Despite some detractors, I really like PayPal.

4> Take notes. When you come to me for a reading, be prepared. You've got questions, I'll do my best to answer those questions in English. I can get very technical astrology technical jargon, i.e., astro-babble> or I can keep it in the vernacular. You make the call. But get all your questions down before, make notes, be prepared. You'll get a lot more out of me. The more specific the question, the more details you provide, the better the answer.

5> Problems with the website? What version of software are you using? Wait, I don't care, but more than 50% of America is on broadband access, if you believe what you read; therefore, it's your job - not mine - to insure you know how to operate your software. We make code that works on anything current; you have to run your stuff yourself. N.B.: older versions of Netscape's browser don't properly render some pages. Think: upgrade. Netscape, version 4 has a 1994 copyright. Think about that. Time on the Internet is like dog years.





10> "Your web page sucks. You suck." Thanks for the sentiment. Where can I see your work on the web? And please, where can I read some of your scintillating printed word? Send me a link to your stuff; if you're superior, I might learn how to be better by studying your work.

Easter & the 100,000 mile mark-
I was driving my Red-Headed Cap's "truckette" a couple of weeks ago. The radio doesn't work; she loathes pulling the top off the thing; the AC only blows cold air in the winter, but for a vehicle with over 100,000 miles, the motor still runs pretty good. The tires are fair.

100,000 miles, though, in a vehicle's life, that's something. One of my bubba friends has a GM product parked in his driveway: two wrecks [not his fault>, lots of new and used parts, and over 300,000 miles on it. Still runs, albeit, it hasn't run in a while, not since he got the new truck*.

So 100,000 miles is some sort of a milestone, a marker, a something. Less than the 150,000 miles on my truck, I think that the web page deserves some kind of a something for hitting the 100,000 mark.

Easter time, Passover to some, and to me as an astrologer, a full moon. All means something. Spring weather is late this year, so there's that, but maybe, just maybe, this is a gentle rebirth of some kind.

Moon in Scorpio, though, maybe it's not a big deal. Scorpio Moon = keep it secret.

*Local ladies, be in the lookout for that \\white trash\\ **waterloo** sticker - that's the man.

The genius of Shakespeare's plays is the way they can so effectively reflect the human experience. Unrelated comment, "For someone who's not a psychologist, you sure do more than the usual 'helping' professions."

Had dinner last night at Maria's Taco Express, then off to the Paramount for the John Prine show. Pretty amazing, and quite satisfying. I mean, both the dinner and the show.

As he launched into a some familiar tunes, I was stuck, racking my brain, stirring my brain cells, trying to put a year to certain tune. "Dear Abbey, Dear Abbey," are the opening lyrics that confounded me so.

I got home, after our late attendance at a party at Dave's [Aries birthday party], and in my near comatose state, I still had to look up that song's origins. Find it here, looks like it was first released in 1973.

The show itself was good, if not excellent. The seats were good; the sound, think about this: the opening act was one man and guitar for 45 minutes or so, and the headline, John Prine, was mostly him and an acoustic guitar. The acoustic of the Paramount were perfect for a show like this. For back up, by way of a "band," he had another guitar picker [mandolin, too>, and a guy on bass. Good, good stuff.

We stopped on 6th Street after the how, only for minute. While I was loitering outside the storefront, a rather inebriated [and effeminate] guy took one look at what I has on, and squealed, "That's so **wrong**."

What? Plaid shorts, wife-beater black T-shirt from Amsterdam and stripped flannel cowboy shirt. What's wrong with stripes and plaids? I thought the flannel went well with the opening act's song about Grunge and Seattle.

Interesting wardrobe aside, the main act for the evening, John Prine, was just really good. A rare treat, heartfelt, sometimes uplifting, music from the heartland. A writer's songwriter.

Most interesting postcard this week? "Fishing? The way to a man's heart is through his fly!" Speaking of going through his fly, I saw David Allan Coe Thursday evening.

Wasn't really much of a show. Or maybe it was. "Dude, that was so, like, 'spoken word' - more than singing or music," My Gemini friend observed. DAC sang some songs, and he sort of meandered all over the place, sort of like listening to one of Bubba's rants, only, maybe a little less coherent.

There were two tour buses, an equipment truck, and who knows what else. All for a couple of hours on stage. I didn't really hear any of the underground favorites, his "X-rated" songs. Or any of the racist stuff. In fact, the drummer working with him was the reported as being Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's son.

David Allen Coe did a medley of Waylon's songs, and of course, a couple of his best known tunes,"If that ain't country..." and
"Take this job...".

I was wearing a Hank III shirt, and David Allen Coe did plug Hank III. Which, in retrospect, made the song, "Hank William's Ghost" more poignant. We stayed for one encore, and it's a little scary to see 62 year old Virgo guy, rapping "Slim Shady" to a predominately male cowboy audience.

Or maybe that's just me.

Corrections, mea culpa.
The fact checking department ate her breakfast, a can of Fancy Feast, and then she took a nap under the bed, thereby avoiding the controversy. It was from a time when I dated a Virgo, years ago, that I had it stuck in my mind that SRV was a Virgo. Apparently, it's not true. Bad memory on my part.

> Kramer...
> We blues playing Libra's are a bit proud of one of our own, so I have to
> write with a correction.
> How could Stevie Ray Vaughan be a Virgo? He was born on Oct. 3, 1954.
> (Leave it to the Libra with Virgo rising to notice this in the Virgo column)
> However, you've got plenty of ammunition to back up the claim that "no one
> plays the blues better than a Virgo." Indeed there is a distinguished bunch
> of Virgo bluesmen out there, including a couple of my other guitar heroes:
> BB and Freddie King....
> Aug. 24 Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Wynonie Harris
> Sept. 3 Memphis Slim, Freddy King
> Sept. 4 Meade "Lux" Lewis
> Sept. 5 Sunnyland Slim
> Sept. 6 Jimmy Reed
> Sept. 7 Little Milton Campbell
> Sept.10 Roy Brown
> Sept.13 Charles Brown
> Sept.15 Snooky Pryor
> Sept.16 B.B. King
> Sept.18 Louis Myers (backed up Little Walter)
> Sept. 23 Ray Charles (crosses all boundaries), Fenton Robinson, MIghty Joe
> Young
> Regards from a Libra who shares a birthday with Jerry Lee Lewis (Sept. 29.)
> And, no....I never touched my cousin.

The error brings up a valid point, though, there was a time when I read other scopes, trying to satisfy my own curiosity. I kept finding wildly inaccurate statements about the planets' positions, signs and so forth. In one scope, the location of Mars kept being reported as being in such and such a sign, when, in fact, no matter if I used Vedic, Heliocentric, or Sidereal, the planet wasn't even close.

So it looked like the whole scope was just made up. Happened a couple of times since then, and each time I encounter astrological fallacies, I double up on my effort to insure that my astrological lore is 100% correct. [I use the traditional, Tropical Western method for assigning signs and locations because it's most common>.

However, that doesn't make my life any easier, especially considering I pass the SRV statue a couple of times a week. I don't mean drive past, I mean, I'm on the trail that goes directly by the statue.

I'm just glad the second or third e-mail was so helpful, with that list of Virgo Blues folks. If I **am** going to confuse my musicians, at least I got BB King and SRV mixed up. I don't think either one would be too upset with that error.

Don’t blame me, the fact checking department is still enjoying her morning nap, under the bed.

Irony versus Sarcasm
Many of the modern pundits banter about the term "ironic," and at one time or another, I've been tempted to call this the "Age of Irony."

I doubt that's the right term. Right over, or right under - depending on my mood, the kitty cam, I have a few select books I actually use for reference. __The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage__, Hand's __Planets in Transit__, an Oxford __Reference Dictionary__, and most important: \\A Handbook to Literature\\ [C. Hugh Holman & William Harmon. NY: Macmillan, 1986>. It's one of those books I had an earlier copy as a textbook, and I've kept a current copy around for references just like this.

p. 254 [6th edition>: **Irony** A broad term referring to the recognition of a reality different from appearance. Verbal \\irony\\ is a **figure of speech** in which the actual term intent is expressed in words that carry opposite meaning. We may say, "I could care less" while meaning "I couldn't care less." \\Irony\\ is likely to be confused with **sarcasm**, but differs from sarcasm in that it is usually less harsh. [and so on>

It's not an age of irony. We're all a bunch of sarcastic little snits.

I haven't checked the Oxford-English Dictionary, the publication that added Homer Simpson's "D'oh" to the English language, but I wonder if a definition, through vulgar usage, has changed. "Decimate" means to "reduce by one tenth." Come one, look at the root of the word, "Dec" is 10 [X> in Latin. When you "decimate the opposition," you reduce the opposition by 1/10th. It doesn't mean to "obliterate, over run, and thoroughly ruin."

Isn't that ironic?

Horoscopes are like skirts, they should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep an interest. Look: it's a terribly sexist point of view. But then, I never claimed not to be a male pig. The patriarchy is on its way out, but never mind that now.

I was trying to make this sort of joke when I stopped by the bank. I was depositing cash and checks, and when it's cash, or cash is included in the deposit, I'd rather hand it to a person, and see it go in the drawer, and from thence, into my account. I made one of my jokes about the nature of men and women, and the poor teller, bless her soul, just didn't get the dripping sarcasm.

To be honest, the guy in front of me had been rather loud, and even by my standards, a little weird, if nice. I just have to admit that sometimes my humor is lost on some.

"The Georgia House voted Tuesday to make grits the official processed food for the state." via newspaper and wire reports>

Two girls came by and fetched me up for dinner last night. We headed off for Guero's, I mean, Wednesday night, right? But the line was out the door, and we wound up at Maudie's, again. I suppose I should feel guilty or something, but I don't.

I sometime wonder what people are thinking when they write stuff in e-mails to me. I got one, last night, no introduction, just a first name, a birthday, and the command, "tell me about my future." What's lacking is common decency, a little courtesy, and maybe, a lick of sense. So anyway....

I don't even remember what night it was, sometime in the last week or so, one of those blurry, late night surf session. I clicked through to a commercial site, and they requested a quick survey. I lied about my age, making me older than I was, then for income, I put it at "less than" $25K. Education? Graduate degree. Which, strictly speaking, is legal for me to claim, as I'm both a Reverend and a Doctor. Don't claim either one, though, as I don't think either is useful. Both are of dubious distinction. [Read: mail order.> But: they're both legal.

More links, I've been carrying around a note to myself, "check out 'yall.com'." I don't know what it was, but it's goner, apparently.

Tuesday: Two-meat plate at Green Mesquite. As usual, it's not the BBQ itself that's so good, it's the matter that it's both close, and relatively inexpensive. What was even nicer, my darling little Virgo friend paid for it all. Plus, there was that Leo Server, the Gemini girl with her long, blonde locks in pigtails, and my favorite comment, "How do you know? That's right, you know everything." Tuesday morning was a struggle, Tuesday afternoon, I decided to quit struggling, and let it flow. 'Twas all much better after a heaping portion of seared animal flesh [that image is for the vegetarians>.

Unrelated images from the last week.

I clicked through to Amazon, looking for something....

"Aged and mature: good to see on a cigar site, bad to see on a porn site." [Thanks Bubba>

3/25 - St. Dysmas Day, Patron Saint of Thieves and Criminals....

Broadband access wars are heating up, locally. Time-Warner sales guy came by, knocked on the trailer's door, was a little heartbroken when he found out I didn't even own a TV, then brightened right up, "But you have a computer?" Through Southwestern Bell, DSL costs almost two bucks day. The throughput is okay, but it's not that quick, until I get on a dial-up connection. According to what I've read, and seen, cable modems, although not technologically elite, are generally faster, with an added bonus of better throughput.

The install went smooth, but there was one little glitch, the tech support call wasn't so smooth; however, I did remind the lady on the other end that there's a special place in hell for folks who are rude to tech support. Her script didn't have anything for Mac OS X. I had to fiddle with the settings, but the installation took less than an hour, and things are running smoother, now. Faster, too.

I had the doors open while the tech was here, watching the rain gently fall, musing about the weather. Then it turned cold. When I got up, it was a balmy 66, the temp dropped 20 degrees through out the afternoon, and begs a comparison to that girl I know. As some would say, "But never mind that now."

I guess my long hair does cover my red neck. I usually lose my fights.

So the late evening was far more interesting, but the only thing I can really say, other than Valentino's Pizza on the square in San Marcos [motto: fast & free delivery> has excellent Bacon, Tomato, & Ranch Dressing Pizza, is that it is impossible to look even remotely macho when a guy is sitting near the front of a lingerie store, surrounded by packages.

As a final note to that comment, as I was listening to my red-headed Cap friend, after I picked her up at the airport, she told me she had to return a bras she'd purchased, "I just can't bras without you sitting outside the dressing room, looking bored." As if.

It's late March, and I'm thinking we've finally turned the corner on the weather. I'm ready to wear shorts all day, every day, from now until next fall. Just the way it is. To that end, I went to our modern day equivalent of a Tupperware party, a Kramer-ware party.

Barefoot. I mean, I put on one of my nicest Hawaiian shirts, a white one with purple flowers [$1.98, made in Hawaii, purchased 2nd hand in El Paso>, then a purple bandana as a "dew - rag" [my hair was damp from stepping out of the shower>, some plaid shorts, tossed sandals and tarot cards in the truck, and I was off for the day. My Pisces buddy set this up, and according to the e-mail invite, it's her 4th annual "Psychic Brunch". Not that I recall too much, I just think we all pop round to her lovely little house in the 'hood, they slurp mimosas, I drink too much coffee and stay in the back room all afternoon, reading cards.

It's kind of a casual thing, no big deal, really. Since I was late getting up, it seemed like I sat down and started doing readings at noon, and the last reading I did, the sun was just setting. We had to turn on the lights in the room, so we could see the cards.

But it was so perfect, one of those days when no refrigerated or heated air is required, the gentle zephyrs stirring the new, sheer curtains in the back bedroom, the sound of laughter, and the noise of champagne bottles opening. I've often thought about it, I think I really want to do an angle on this one day, "Barefoot astrology." You know, take your shoes off, wiggle your toes around in the sand of an astrology chart, get some grit on the soul.

What made this different, and better, this time: my MALE friends showed up: My army buddy, one of his martial arts students, and that Gemini Bubba. A little testosterone to balance all the estrogen. I missed most to the socializing because I was working, but it sounded like fun, as I did notice the party frequently spilled into the back and front yards.

It's that old time, comfortable feeling. Everyone got along with everyone else. There was exotic beer, fancy soda pop, everyone seemed to know everyone by a degree or two, the party crowd meshed with everyone else.

One of my old astrology teachers always suggested that the best parities usually occur during a Leo Moon. Moon was in Leo on Sunday. Rock on.

What was amusing even more so, my army buddy dropped me an e-mail later:

> Too bad I couldn't catch you before you did her
> reading..I'd slip you a hundred to tell her (I think
> she was the brunette with the brown
> eyes..) that I was her ideal date!

I chuckled at the e-mail. $100? I'm not that cheap. Wait, maybe I am.

Deify me

"I want you to make me out to be some kind of a god. Deify me." That's what went with the fact that he could get me a ticket, at the last minute, on the front row. Just a single ticket, but still. To be honest, the lad doesn't need any deification, tons of planets in Gemini, he does all right, just by himself.

The show was billed as "Jerry Jeff Walker & Mystery Guest," but the mystery was leaked earlier in the week, hence my sudden desire for a ticket. Takes me way back to time left to memories. It was in a field, in East Texas, under a starry night, and I don't recall if Jerry Jeff was on the bill, but I'm sure he was. First time I saw Jimmy Buffett. Just him and guitar, and that was many millions of albums ago.

Prior to the opening, a short video clip ran, among other luminaries, it included Willie Nelson, reciting something he remembered, "Jerry Jeff once told me, 'We do it just like Williams [Sr.> except he left the stage to throw up.'"

The opening set Saturday night was just Jerry Jeff Walker and his pal, Jimmy Buffett, on stage, sitting there, swapping stories, strumming guitars and singing each other's songs. Intimate like, a real treat. Being on the front row, I got to see, up close and personal, that Jimmy Buffett is really kind of short.

I think a highpoint, for me, was listening them do a duet of Buffett's "Stories would could tell," as that refrain is one that's stuck in my mind over the years, especially in the last decade when I've been doing the 'gypsy troubador" thing myself.

As Jerry Jeff launched into another tale, he was interrupted by Jimmy, as Buffett made a remark, "There's **always** a guy named Bubba." I think that quote will be added to the data file. It's useful.

They closed that first hour and half of picking and grinning with two of their all-time classics, "You know, neither one of these gets any radio play, but everyone knows the words...." Buffett did "Let's get drunk and screw," followed by Jerry Jeff's "Pissing in the wind." Buffett's commentary on this duo of songs? "Can't get any more white trash than this."

In a nod towards more modern rock and roll aesthetics, in the second set, Jimmy and Jerry both launched themselves off of the chairs they'd been sitting on. When you're dealing with aging rock stars, folks stars or whatever they are, I guess that fits. Pretty brave for some old men.

Throughout the show, allusions to 'Margaritaville' were plentiful. According to the legend bantered about, somebody named "Vicki" got Buffett drunk on margaritas for his first time, in Austin. The rest, as they say, is history.

I was so looking forward to sleeping in this morning, it's Saturday, nothing on the schedule until tonight, and the cat, with her ways, she just had to get me up, first thing, for some food. Seems like she think she deserves breakfast, or something.
Laundry. Then a little tweaking on the web stuff. Yes, finally fixed on annoying glitch. Not one most folks would see, but I guess I'd better do something to get folks up to date on their browsers. Netscape 4.x [macintosh> still screws the page up some. Not bad, but you know, it looks better, and renders faster, on something a little more current.

Some of the Fat Boy Slim CDs I've got are pretty straightforward. One of them has that line, "Fat Boy Slim kicks ass! He's a band of the nineties!" Couldn't have said it better. I wonder, does that mean Fat Boy Slim is now "retro" in style?

I wonder what I was thinking when I agreed to do an airport run on a Friday morning in March? "Sure, it'll be nice out." "Nice" being 35 degrees by the thermometer on the side of the trailer, and me, pulling on the clothes from the night before, and the answer to the question not asked? I don't know. I haven't seen any of the red-headed Capricorns in weeks, in fact, the last time I saw this one, it was picking her up at the airport.

For someone as exhausted as I was, I sure did get around a lot on Friday. Stopped by the office long enough to gather up a package that the postman's been holding for a few days, tons of coffee. The other little Capricorn I met with, after a huge BBQ meal, insisted on doing some shopping. I got a little worried as she started making pejorative comments about the nature of individuals who play indoor football, I could just see one of the teams deciding to use me **as** a football in deference to her comments about the relative lack of masculinity in such sport. Looked rugged enough to me.

That one shopping mall doesn't have a lot of good stuff, more or less a retail space in its death throes, but it can boast about having an acceptable humidor in the cigar shop. Picked up a couple of A. Fuente "Hemingways" at a reasonable price [limit 2 per customer>. Over in the sporting goods super store, I found a couple of lures on sale, too. Always looking for fine jewelry and fishing gear. Looking at the clerk, just as tired as I was, I quoted a couple of lines from __Clerks__, "This would be a great job if it wasn't for the customers." "Which ones?" "All of them."

Every so often, I get a truly nice day. Started with work. Work, in and of itself, isn't exciting, but hand-crafting horoscopes, fishing for metaphors, trying to make something that is both useful and amusing, that's a challenge. Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, one of those guys [it's too hard to do this off the top of my head with using my reference files and books> suggested, and I'm adlibbing this one, "There is no greater joy than the weight of the pen." Quill, maybe. At 3 AM, I'm too fried to look it up. So I crafted up a set of scopes I was happy with, then I took off to meet my favorite Famous Poet for a cup of coffee in the brilliant afternoon sunshine. At her behest, we did a short stroll from Jo's down to the Lamar Bridge, and back again.

Back at the trailer. Answer e-mail. Bubba calls, "Hey, I was thinking about working out, but you know, I feel like drinking instead...." He promised, some weeks ago, a ticket to see Fat Boy Slim. I tend to regard promises like this as "etched in sand" rather than engraved in stone because of the vagaries of Bubba World. It's not a problem; I just don't get my expectations up. Always have a Plan B. We started at Guero's, and we tried to sit outside, but the north wind made that uncomfortably cool. I wandered off to use the toilet, and when I came back, Bubba motioned me towards a table with a couple sitting there. I just figured they were friends, or something. Nope, folks he'd never met before. A pair. A pair of Virgo's, no less. Which then launched us into a Virgo routine. Folks wound up joining us for dinner when we finally got table, after almost an hour's wait. I'm not sure they were that entertained, but me and Bubba? We were. Had a good time. They were off to see Blues Traveler, and we were off to the Austin Music Hall.

We discussed the problems with parking, how cold it was, the fact that he didn't have jacket, and where to park. Instead of taking "first available," and walking several block, he pulled into the VIP parking. Helps to have friends in high places. Or low places. Waved through the door. Security wasn't looking for weapons; they were searching for glow sticks and other "Raver" paraphernalia. Nope, not on me. Just cell phone and beeper.

The warm up DJ was mixing, but it wasn't all that great, not to me. I wasn't super impressed. Had to sit through about 45 minutes of this "thump thump thump" music. As Norman Cook [Fat Boy Slim> took the stage, though, the crowd downstairs started to cheer. Place was packed. Did I mention that, yes, Bubba did come through with some VIP passes? Boy's got the hook-up, that's for sure.

What's amazed me about Fat Boy Slim's music is the inherent humor with the mix. There's sense of whimsy, a sense of not taking himself too serious - something that surely appeals to me. Plus, he likes to have fun when he's spinning. Took me back to time, long ago, a place shrouded in my personal mythology, back when I operated a place with twin turntables.

"Hey man, __Rolling Stone__ is supposed to be here to cover this concert."

Fat Boy Slim. Norman Cook. As Bubba so aptly pointed out, "of all the folks here, you can bet he's having the most fun." After watching the gyrations, Bubba added another timely comment, "Some us belong on one side of the turntable or the other side - he can't dance."

Didn't stop it from being a really excellent show. Opened with an old favorite, "Clown to the left of me, jokers to the right, stuck in the middle with you...." The humor was not lost on some of us, from our vantage point, in the VIP rafters, there he was, stuck in the middle of the Music Hall's floor. He slipped in some old Boston, and that got me wondering about his age. The rest of the set? If you like his music, especially "Half way from the gutter to the stars," then you'd both understand and appreciate the live versions. Worth every penny is cost me.

Posted at 0300, 3/22/2002

The 7th House.

I was working through some astrology charts....

What I came up with, is a standard answer to the old relationship question, that one us astrologers get asked all the time. Variation on theme, more or less. The way I understand it, what I was taught, the Ascendant is "what you are," whereas the Descendant [opposite side of the wheel> is "what you should marry." But I've found, through ten or more years of study, that the relationship slice of chart is a little broader than just the usual, "psycho, sexual, obsessive" love section. Business partners, lovers, roommates, pets and so forth can all show up there. If it really were the "wedding house," as suggested by early astrology lore, I'd still be married.

I was looking over the scopes for this week, and something struck me as funny: when I roughed out the first draft for the Sagittarius Scope, I must've been in a really good place. Here it is, and now I'm almost out of paper towels. At least there's enough cat food to last for a spell.

Working with the backend code on this site, I kept running into a problem with **SOMETHING** on the journal section. Don't ask me, I can't find the mistake. I've hacked away for hours at a time. I can't isolate the trouble. What's worse, it only shows up on Mozilla 4 browsers. Only about 95% of the site's traffic. Anyway, the Opera browser is superior to everything else. Plus it satisfies my love of the underdog.

alt="Get Opera for Mac!>" width="120" height="90" border="0">

A Virgo sent this in, from the Onion, Dell is closing down.

What was funny, was a reply I got....

> do they?...........I'm serious now.........do they really retire or just out
> on the street........I just thought the article sounded funny.........we
> reached our goal; we are number one so let's quit and all 32,000 employees
> jumped for joy...........now does that mean he has made it so they all can
> retire comfortably or how many are now out of a job cuz he decided he didn't
> want to play anymore...........how's all that work.........

"You are: 'Gandalf on Crack' (c) 2002" [another one from yesterday's mail, the perpetrator was kind enough to copyright his remark, used by permission>

So the ad rep left me a voice mail message, then when I got around to calling her back, she told me, "I was just checking your kittycam to see if you were there."

My ad rep - she was telling me how the Austin Chronicle is going to be shrinking. Paper costs too much these days, and I've got a small, back page ad running. As an experiment, I'll be getting my voice mail number listed in the classified section. This isn't news, it's been up on the e-mail form for a while. I'm not adverse to talking on the phone, I just don't really enjoy folks calling me when I don't want to answer the phone, or other times, when I pick up the hotline and answer with smart-ass comment. Only to discover it's a client with a delicate situation. I used to use Bubba's line, "So I told the officer...." But that's backfired once or twice.

Tuesday means two meat special at Green Mesquite. Served up by a Leo with a Gemini in attendance. I snapped my spy camera outfit together, and as I walked along, I kept trying to find things to take pictures of. Remember, the camera's resolution isn't great, and I don't like to spend any time doctoring stuff up in the graphics program, so I was trying to capture that elusive quality that makes a walk in the rain so interesting. The two graphics I'm using a lot of these days, the lion's head's tongue door knocker [from Amsterdam's famous Red Light District] and one of my shots of the Marfa Mystery Lights' Texas highway marker, both came from the "spy cam." I didn't get any great pictures, so I wasn't too forlorn when the process of transferring the images wiped out the day's digital image stash. The gray quality to the "almost rain" sort of dampened my enthusiasm for much of anything. Even the cat didn't take to getting loved on.

The odd thing about that ad? In the last few weeks, remember, this has been running for over a year now, but just recently, what I've heard from clients, calling for readings, that ad lends credibility. Just goes to show....

This is going to work just fine, I think.

I got he idea while messing around with my parental units' computers, networks, and all the toys they have. After all, Pa Wetzel is a retired engineer, he needs lots of toys to keep him happy. I suppose it runs in the family, too. Dallas was rainy and cold. Not cold, but not warm. Just damp, maybe moist. Maybe Dallas is always a little moist, and it's the most gray city I can think of, more gray areas in Dallas than any other place. See: Ft. Worth, now that's a blue jean city. Austin is a floral shirt city. Someplace like London? That's a black city [black as in black humor, or black as in soot on everything, either way> The briefest shower, right after I took a shower, reminded me that I was in Dallas, still, the rain beating an asymmetrical rhythm on the roof. It's all a matter of degrees, too. I got back to Austin, said "hello" to the cat, took a nap, went for a short haul around the trail, and decided I was going to "do it" - finish this up and get the web log - journal - everything hooked up right. Once and for all. During the walk, I was listening, then watching as the rowers were goaded on by their coach. "The Hudson River, it's windy **all the time**, so get used to it!"

Airports I've been in that I recall: Alaska, Amsterdam, London's Gatwick & Heathrow, DFW, Dallas Love Field, Midland-Odessa, El Paso, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Oakland, San Fransisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Houston [2>, Corpus Christi, and at this point, my memory runs out. But I was never lost in those airports. In Amsterdam, I couldn't read the native tongue, but I could understand the signs. I had no problem getting coffee, getting through security, and getting to the plane on time. Point is navigation. So I'm guessing that good web sites offer some kind of navigation system, making it easy to get from one point to the next, some kind of a universal language. Means icons as well as text.