Year in review - part two - the professional points...
Many, many years ago, I was working alongside a professional psychic, a guy that I trust implicitly. He's since retired and pursues other goals, although, as gifted as he is, I doubt he's given up - he just doesn't work the same circuit anymore.

Middle of the afternoon, we were standing at the urinals, doing what guys do there, and he asked about a particular planet's transit.

"Man, I always feel it when those big planets shift signs," he was saying, "wow. Those are Ant Eater, huh?"
From planets in transit to boots.

So Uranus slipped into Pisces. Pisces is associated with Neptune, and Aquarius is associated with Uranus. Mutual reception
Unrelated sidebar note:
In older astrology, Aquarius shares Saturn with Capricorn and Pisces shares Jupiter with Sagittarius.
When I was in California, Oakland, to be precise, I got Sister to haul me up to Berkley for an astrology reading by another author. Because our work, in my mind, is so similar, I just figured it was the thing to do.
I've been through my own chart so many times, I didn't figure that there was much to talk about that I haven't seen before. Approaching a reading with zero expectations is good. Besides, I've been through all the tough transits, and I didn't figure that there was anything new he could throw at me. However, he's one of the few astrology authors I truly have a deep and abiding respect for, and his approach seems very similar to my own.
He asked what my expectations were, and I said I had none - I'd already learned a great deal from just going through the process of booking a reading, that "Should I spend the money on talking to an astrologer about what the future trends might be" thing. Cold feet, trying to arrange a good time to meet, where to meet, all the material I have to go through to arrange for a reading - from the consumer side.
Deal is, he charges just about the same as I do, and like me, he doesn't do too many readings in person - most of the work is phone work.
It was amazing. Remember, my expectations were zero. I'm sorry, perhaps it's my own arrogance, but I'm pretty sure that there's not a lot left that's going to be new to me.
As far as I was concerned just going through the process was worth the price of admission, before I ever got the reading..
The reading itself was nothing big, but I was in top form for listening. Which is what I did. Ahead of time, I'd reread some of his books, then followed up with other books he recommends. Same books I recommend.
It's taken me a while to get around to digesting the whole experience.
Part of the message came back the other evening, when Uranus headed into Pisces.
No, I don't have any "tall, dark handsome stranger" entering my life to sweep me away. No stranger from a foreign land to make my life complete. No promise of a big lottery win. Questions about direction, affirmations of what I know and do, possible points to ponder for the future.
Last image I remember was him, with a wan smile, sitting on the stoop in front of his home, sorting through his junk mail. Just like anyone else.
A year in review - Year of the Monk
I'd written a good 2K worth of words, trying to get a handle of the year. But in the final analysis, I wasn't happy. Blame Mercury? Sure. So here's the top ten, annotated annotations.
10. Old stats
9. 1st notation of Uranus going into Pisces
8. Fishing
7. Trains
6. Summer Time
5. Working
4. That flame mail!
3. Music: response
2. Left Coast shuffle
1. Opera and theater

Laundry & stuff
Jerry Springer: the Opera (official soundtrack) was running. I spent several hours toiling with a "year in review" piece, but it just wasn't going anywhere. As I was folding the laundry, hanging up both shirts, I just started to throw the clean clothes back into the suitcase.
Off on Friday for El Paso.
The road - the real road for work - beckons unto me. Yeah, well, something like that.
I spent the afternoon then into the evening, sitting a coffee shop, first chatting, then doing a longish reading. One of those weird, meandering, and-I-know-I-missed-some-points type of reading. But after two big latte things, I was in the mode of chatter. Plus I came across a chart point that I've just passed through myself, one of those transits that is unsettling, disturbing, and rather weird. Play some spooky music white boy.
Notes. Road notes. Got rode hard notes.
Just worked for me.
2.27 kilogram micropeterus salmoides flordianus.
Plane was a few minutes late pulling out of SFO therefore.... the connection in Dallas to Austin was missed, and the next flight had no available seats and it was the flight after that which connected me to home. Still, not too bad.
Mercury is backwards so I expected some problem, and the thought that I might be able to just walk off one plane in the DFW airport, and walk right onto the next plane, just a few gates away? That will never do.
So I got to hike all the way from on end of the terminal area to the other end of another terminal area. Yes, I'm sure I could use the exercise. I did my very best to be friendly and cheerful, and I was wheedling as best I could, but nothing short of a large amount of cash - which I don't have - was going to get me home any earlier.
Holiday air travel? What can one expect? I made it home with my luggage - I'm happy.
Puppets & more.
Directions in downtown SF: "Go towards town, go towards the water...."
Right. Makes absolutely no sense to me.
I looked at it on a map. San Francisco is, like, on a peninsula. Surrounded by water, and, near as I could tell, all of San Francisco qualified as "downtown," especially by my terribly suburban (rural, rustic, Texan) standards.
So I never did quite understand the directions.
Sister's show was the something-something theater something. 25 Van Ness. Van Ness & Market, in case you're wondering. I thought I was polite at the front door, with the ticket agent.
"So, is my sister difficult to work with?"
"Oh no, I'm from Texas, too. I know how to handle difficult women - she's easy."
Happy holidays
The day after. The whatever you want to call it.
Sister is, of course, still stuck in a bereavement mode. But then, she gets out of it, doing it the only way she knows how - throwing party. So it was a lively time at Casa de Seester, on the hill in the Land of Oaks.
Note to self: three Leo's is about two over the load limit on what I can keep entertained at one time. Just one Leo? Not a problem., "Baby, you are the Leo." But three of them? Nothing but trouble.
It was all in good fun and a good time was had by all.
Sister on Santa's lap.

Local color.
Xmas dinner
So fredlet had the nicest things to say about the family. Got her self invited to the big buffet.
This is where I had a chance to shine - really show my colors, as it were. See: a hotel buffet is a hotel buffet, whether it's in Midland, Amarillo, Lubbock, or downtown San Francisco.
Downtown SF, and the family? It was a special buffet. I got on into the long line, fetching up my first of a half-dozen plates, and I noticed sushi. Yeah baby, yee-haw. Raw fish.
Sister comes rushing over, "Kramer, Kramer! Look! Raw oysters!"
So, at some point, our collective behavior was amusing to the folks sitting around us. The table behind me politely inquired as to where I was from, and what it was I was enjoying so much.
"Texas. We call this stuff bait."
I got to know that little guy working the bait counter at the buffet. I found the Surf Clam to be a little more tough than I remember it, but the tuna, mackerel, yellow tail, and lord only knows what else, was all quite good.
Life is good when you can combine crisp bacon and raw fish on the same plate.
The only item missing from a true Texas buffet was mud-bugs. No crawdads here. I mentioned that. Reminded me of the Buffet Palace, down in S. Austin. Yes sir, I'm been training for this....
But like that last trip to buffet palace, I knew when to say when. Bacon, sushi, two plates of sashimi, some roasted beef, some gingerbread and ice cream....
Coolest gift? Besides the sheer pleasure of being with family? Jerry Springer: the Opera. Yeah, it's back, on more time. Got the CD.
Part dos:
Gastrointestinal failures
My sister is amused when I belch loudly and say her name at the same time. My dear, sweet mum is horribly appalled at the same event. Fredlet gets jealous.
If you burp one girl's name then you have to burp the other girl's name. Friends and family are showing their true roots.
This just in:
Uncovered from Ma Wetzel's ditial camera, a shot of me me teasing a sleeping Sister, sometime last spring.

Merry Xmas from SF - part uno
My cute Pisces was giving me a lift to the airport, so I (generously) offered to buy the breakfast tacos.
Pinatas. Red and Green chili - for that holiday spirit. What amused me, sitting in an East Austin dining establishment, a place I've frequented in the past, me wearing a sports jacket and nice shirt, long pants and boots? I got a much different reaction - different from what I'm used to.
"Yeah, you look like a rock star."
In my mind.
I stopped to get the boots shined for the road. Had a conversation in broken Spanish with the boot shiner dude - he had a little mechanical toy that would sing, "Feliz Navidad" while dancing in a frankly suggestive manner.

Mercury RX-mas
(with apologies to the artist formerly known as Greg)
Dating factors, now what does it say about guys with long hair, college degrees, and don't drink?
End of the year wrap up should be forthcoming soon. I put on some Wagner Opera, after listening to a gift of Alien Sex Fiend. Then I got to work on cleaning this place. Precursor to "end-of-the-year" work.
Airport run last night for a neighbor, airport for me this morning. As we all sally forth unto the Left Coast. From the itinerary, looks like I've got 37 minutes at DFW to gather up the parental unit and hustle them onto a plane. Any odds on air travel being timely with Mercury in retrograde?
Virgo's, all day, every day: it was Virgo making coffee at the coffee place. It was a Virgo neighbor who needed a ride to the airport. It was a Virgo at Sonic, delivering that cheeseburger. Yeah, and it was Virgo checking me out at that last stop for Xmas gifts.
"Yeah, these lures? They make good earrings."
"Really? You don't fish with them?"
The lures that don't catch fish become earrings.
Monday morning
I looked at the clock, checked the computer, hit the astrology software, pushed a button. Good. Capricorn has started.
I've got one suitcase, with remnants of a "Texas International" airline sticker. I can't even tell you when that's from. It's a very old suitcase. Had to pack it up for Xmas on the Left Coast with Sister and family.
For that next wedding?
First day of "winter" and I was wandering around with no shirt half the time. Plus shorts. I was wearing shorts. Winter time. Texas weather. Dark of the moon, but I still couldn't get any fish hooked.
Hair metal movies. That's the way it was advertised, more or less. What it was: "Pretty Things" was a bunch of bootleg footage, attempting to prove that Glam Rock paved the way for Punk. Somehow, I failed to see the analogy, but halfway through, I was like most of the audience, wanting to clap and cheer for the band's performance. However, unlike most of the audience, I was around when some of that music was first played.
Then came "Slade in Flames." All I could find were oblique references to the movie's title, but no link for the movie itself. Beats me. The rockumentary about Slade, a band that never was a big hit here in the States, but ruled the charts in the UK for most of a decade. Or more. It should be noted the spelling was never long suit with Slade, authors of "Cum Feel the Noize" & "Mama weer all crazee now."
Right. Monday night, it was a buck at the door. Three hours of entertainment. Or something. Not quite three hours, but close enough. Certainly less than 50 cents an hour for the show. Well worth that price.
Life is uncertain
Go fishing first.
Sunday morning: Moon in Sagittarius. Two strikes. No fish. No problem. There are two or three big lunkers hanging out in the creek, right in front, and they tease my bait. I'll get their pictures yet.
"Hey baby, I just called to let you know how right you were," (Leo).
Then it's always pleasant to spend a goodly portion of the afternoon perusing charts and making observations.
Strains of ZZ Top in the background....
Mercury observations
I stopped at the post office yesterday afternoon. It was the Saturday afternoon before Xmas. Mercury is in apparent retrograde motion.
I'd just picked up an afternoon shot of espresso, the sun was out, not a cloud in the sky, I was wearing shorts - although it was a just tad cool for shorts - and there was a large woman, in tears, lugging a large box, complaining to anyone who would listen, that the post office wasn't open. Late on a Saturday afternoon.
Personally, I've had nothing but good luck with the US Postal Service. I've had a miserable time with wind, lures, trees, and no fish, but if that's the worst of it, then what's the complaint?
I spent the morning working on a little project, something I started researching last week. I was looking for a tiny piece of code that reflected the server's load at the moment.
So the happy side to Mercury backwards? I got the code to work. Only took about four hours to sort through the configuration, testing, trouble-shooting, then finally getting it to work right. What it does is show the actual number of browsers on the website at the time the page is hit and viewed - right above the text ads. Got it here.
Yeah, well a "five minute installation" will take four hours when Mercury is backward.
There's a cover song, by the Ataris, of that venerable classic, "Boys of Summer," with one little change, "Out on the road today, I saw Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac. A little voice inside my head said don't look back you can never look back...."
"You never heard that? Dude, I can't believe it."
Unrelated ghost stories:
Henry VIII, stalking the halls of Hampton Court?
Ultimate gifts
I think I want one.
So I'm looking at the robot site, and I'm hoping that I can use that robot to scare Micropterus salmoides floridanus up out of the lake, towards my bait.
I've gone back to reading Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver. Funny notation? Under the dust jacket? The book has the glyph for Mercury.
Friday Five
List five charities where you'd like to see some holiday cash go. It's that simple. Make a gift out of giving.
5. Austin SPCA
4. UT's McDonald Observatory
3. Coastal Conservation
2. Shakespeare's Globe
1. Austin Shakespeare Festival
There's always the choice to send an anonymous donation to astrofish.net and help keep this place afloat.
Amazon Honor System

Click Here to Pay
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But astrofish.net is not a charity. Ain't tax deductible, although, it sure feels like this place is run like a charity.
Thursday Three
One cheap shot. Two cups of coffee. Three Mercury Retorgrade.
"Santa asked me to check up on you this year, see if you've been good."
So how much to keep my mouth shut?
Scorpio Barista. No fish. Libra barista.
Had that boat of sashimi at the swank place downtown. Virgo server who was much put out when I asked her birthday. My Aquarius buddy reminded the Virgo, it was all for fun.
Just trying to be historically accurate.
Back to the book idea....
Fishing Guide to the Stars: 2003. Okay, so I'm guessing, "why would anyone in their right mind buy this when the columns are all available on the website?" The 2003 index will be in the free section at the end of the month - about the same time the book gets delivered. Plus I'll make the text itself available as a PDF file - free for download.
It was a "Mercury is retrograde" action on my part. More curiosity than anything else. I've suggested that the work that goes into a massive weekly column is the same as a big, fat paperback. Seems I was right. Plus I had to list the ISBN 0-9744983-2-7 with "Books in Print" so that the column is official and all that.
I took a Gemini call late in the afternoon, and I was thinking about this among the litany of Mercurial-inspired-complaints, and that one Gemini asked if 2004 would be available soon, in book form.
I'm not sure, but I wasn't planning on it. Besides, the column is a serial venture, at least, right now. There's a ten-year plan at work, and the domain itself is good until 2010. Y2X? So I've got several more years, at this pace, instead of trying to crank out other texts.
I'm just a little unsure of the "do what you love and the money will follow" ideal. I'm still pretty tired of folks complaining that horoscopes should be free.
So, if I were to do a book version of 2004, available soon, what would be a fair price? In serial form, it costs $30/year. Actually, it costs more, but that's about what I see per subscription. That prices the book itself around $50. Damned expensive paperback. Worth it? I doubt it, as far as I can tell, I'd sell one copy - to that Gemini.
I flipped over to some other astrology sites, and I did note that advertising and revenue-producing material far outweighs the amount of text (and screen real estate) devoted to horoscopes. My front page? Still less than 10% of the page is advertising. And in the subscription area? "Oh yeah, whose yo' daddy!" Less than 5% of the screen real estate is advertising.
Maybe I should just sell out - but I'm having too much fun. Even when Mercury is backwards.
And that's it!
Weird idea:
I saw a link to something on Google, and that spurred an idea. I've written about this, time and again, but what I did was flow all of the 2003 columns into a single text file. Then I applied some formatting, and checked it out. 145,000 words. Plus some change for a table of contents and title page.
Fishing Guide to the Stars: 2003 is available online... Just a little shy of 350 pages, in ten-point type.
I was dinking around with bait, then I looked at the chart of the moment, and what it showed was the moon was in the wrong place. Using a Moon Phase calendar to pick times to fish is simple: it breaks down into two times: Best Time to fish and Good Time to fish.
Full Moon/New Moon, give or take three days, usually after, but can be before: Best Time to Fish.
Every other time? Just a good time to fish.
I could see a couple of adolescent bass floating near the shore. Must've been too cold the night before, they weren't the least bit interested in any bait I offered. The bass fishing buzz is all about "Drop Shot" as a technique, and I'm sorely tempted to try that here.
So I looked at the astrology chart, and I groaned a little: Mercury, according to the software's algorithm, is backwards.
Unrelated: Boudin
Do you know what happened this week back in 1850?
California became a State. The State had no electricity. The State had no money Almost everyone spoke Spanish. There were gun fights in the streets.
So basically, it was just like California today only the women had real tits.
And that's a happy spot!
Unrelated notation:
I suppose it's for the web design group. Or folks who like to tinker with code.
I played around with a couple of the Bass Pro affiliate tags and images, and I finally used the smallest one they have. Then I looked at the front page.
Three graphic images, the top most image is my favorite charity, the Shakespeare's Globe's. The other two images? Ads, of course, but they are small spaces. Everything else? All text. All straightforward. No, the page doesn't validate because the advertising code isn't clean, but that's okay. My handiwork is all tight now.
I almost put some more advertising up, but I opted against that. As it sits, well, as of last night, I had the front page weighing in at less than 10KB. Just one of those arbitrary goals, achieved.
As the bumper sticker says, "Would you like to come up and see my chainsaw?"
So my out-of-work Virgo neighbor from LA (that would be Lower Arkansas) offered lunch - or supper - and it was a traditional southern feast.
Greens, mashed carrots, and boudin.
"So now, honey," I asked, "I get to pass out on the couch?"
"Yes, honey, only not my couch."
Monday's three-way action
Hawk, stars and bars, bitter girls.
Sometime around noon, maybe a little before, a hawk alighted, rather briefly, just outside my kitchen window. I did a double take. Pigeons, blackbirds, grackles, little sparrows, seagulls, heron, ducks, geese, swans, even the odd hummingbird, and so forth, I'm used to all that. This hawk was pretty amazing. Between a foot and two foot tall, he (she) rested briefly, noted a movement in the kitchen window and took off.
I fetched up the first espresso on the way to the post office.
Coming out of the post office, and on towards town, I was eyeing an older Porsche, appreciating the classic lines, a vehicle that might be 20 years or older, and it still looks good. That's the way products are supposed to be, built to look good and perform, year after year. It was stopped at a light and I was passing on foot. As I drew up in front of the vehicle, I noticed that the front tag had been replaced with a "Stars and Bars" tag. I broke out in grin, and the driver grinned back, figuring what I was grinning at? Who knows? Who cares? I just found it rather discordant - Confederate Flag on the front of an older German sports car.
The second espresso was up the street a way, Taurus lad complaining about being very bored.
Yeah, brother, I feel your pain. Holidays do that. I hit a dead spot with business right before Xmas. Doesn't bother me much. I've got a few projects keeping me busy. Plus the day turned out nice enough t afford me a little time tossing lures in the water. Always a good sign.
I rain into my Virgo neighbor. Dinner? Sure. She'd just gotten rid of her Mercedes. Sounds a bit odd, but it was a rather old car with no AC, and the windows didn't work right, and there was, apparently, a host of other problems.
Then I got a call from a Taurus girl. So dinner was at Romeo's, me and two earth signs, and they were both moaning about the sad state of affairs in the world. Actually, the Virgo kept quiet, after hearing my recent recounting of various events, then we listened to that Taurus go on and on about the guy she was no longer involved with.
So I ended the evening with a single little shot of espresso after the meal. Just seemed right. Had to make a shopping run with the Virgo.
"Man, this shopping just wears me out."
Couldn't agree more.
Dirty Lizards
Did I mention that I abhor the Xmas crowds?
So anyway, I called up the Pisces, the one looking for a job, and I suggested coffee, maybe lunch, and since we usually shop, might as well do that, too.
We headed south, down to the big box stores, and I wandered aimlessly for a while, coming up with one or two items in the discount places, but not really getting what I was looking for. We stopped by the sporting goods place, and she kept going on and on about one particular handgun, which, after one more store, she was looking into purchasing. Somehow, having me there, made her feel better about retail therapy. Should introduce her to my sister.
I'd forgotten about what happened in one of those giant "pet warehouse" places. I had a little slice of nature, right before my very eyes. In fact, I got a picture of it. Several. I didn't discover it until I hooked the camera up and downloaded the pictures.
Caution, this is lizard porn.

I stopped long enough to notice that there were about three girl lizards, smaller, more svelte, and sensual with their dusky, scaly skin. Then there was one "alpha male," and I watched. He inflated his throat sac, bleat a moment, then grabbed on of the girls by the nape of her neck. Then he jumped on top of her.
By now, realizing that this was like a nature documentary, dramatic union, right before my eyes, I slipped the camera out of my pocket, and clicked it on. I held the camera up and got a picture of that guy in action. Then, in his post-coital bliss, I adjusted the camera, steadied it against the cage's window, and snapped a couple of more shots.
A store clerk came up, a little alarmed.
"Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, it's cool, see, that guy? He just..." and I looked at the clerk, "Oh never mind. Just cool to watch the lizards."
"So everything's okay? No problems?"
None. Except that it looked like the boy lizard was holding the girl lizard's head under water.
Can't tell me that a girlfriend or two didn't want to do that to me.
A few minutes later, I was checking the cat food prices for a certain resident here, and a manager came up to me, "You said there was something wrong with the lizards?"
"Uh, no, see, the one guy was doing this girl, and when he got done, it looked like, oh, never mind," and I trailed off.
Working weekend.
That simple. Worked at a party. Fished for a few minutes, trying new, slightly heavier line. Did fine until the last cast, the wind blew the bait into the trees. Some days, the vegetation wins.
Snarled lines
I was "practicing casting" along the riverside, and neighbor ambled up to chat with me. Management issue, and I'm not management. Nor am I management material. Nor, for that matter, did I much care, as I was busy "practicing."
Which lead to a snarled mess as I'd just spooled up some new twine on the old pole, and talking can be a distraction. So I carried the pole back to the trailer, and set about trimming off the snarled mess. I finally gave up, and there was a little break in the weather, so I went back to practicing.
Eventually, I gave it all up when I realized it had started to rain pretty hard.
So I showered up, dragged out some nice, clean clothes and got dressed up for dinner.
"Oh Kramer, you'll love this. The Democrats are always a freak show," my Virgo hostess assured me.
(She works for a Democrat and votes Democrat, I might add.)
Of course, being Virgo and all, she was right.
I also figure some of the points being made, rather evocatively by the speakers, most notably Sen. Kennedy, were a tad strange next to the items in the silent auction, and the raffle prize - tickets were $75 - an 8-day trip to Paris. Folks at the table chuckled, "They have a Four Seasons Hotel in Paris, Texas?"
As summary, my Virgo neighbor pointed out that the event started late, ended late, and wasn't particularly well-organized.
Will Rogers, the sage observer of humanity, from Oklahoma, once observed, "I'm a member of no organized political party - I'm a Democrat."
Or, as my Virgo buddy quoted in Spanish, a quote I hope to steal, "siempre como un circo."
Found this spot online:
the barcode printer: free barcode generator
And here's the barcode:

This was a bad idea.
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp (and Mark Reiter).
I read a review while on my way to CA last month, made note of it, and figured I'd look into it. Whilst with Sister, in a bookstore out yonder, she asked about that very book. Told her I'd read a review, and I'd buy it for her, nominally, for Xmas.
As previously noted, I picked it up yesterday, slid the book out of its pristine dust jacket and cracked it open last night before I went to bed. Bad move. I was exhausted - Gemini's do that to me - but even the first two pages had material that I wanted to underline, then I wanted to dog-ear a page so not to miss a quote. Then I thought about two or three folks I know who could really use a text just like this. If I hadn't already shut off the computer, I would've hopped back up on Amazon and ordered a couple of copies delivered.
For me, it was more validation rather than anything new. No new concepts, yet, but a good, serious kick-in-the-pants that said, "Yes!"
The bad idea comes from the fact that it's a gift, and as such, I can't scribble margin notes, or dog-ear pages, or anything like that - I'm used to interacting with a text like this.
My library is too limited to keep a copy of this book around, so buying it as a gift and reading it first is a good idea. The bad idea part is not being able to mark up the text.
The things I get into?
How do these things happen to me?
I was motoring along the other afternoon. Beeper buzzed, the message was simple, "Friday Night?" I checked in with the service, then called my friend, a senator's assistant, or flak, or something. I don't know, works at the capital. Or something.
"Don't you dare ditch me. Friday night. Dress up. I've got two tickets for Sen. Kennedy at the Four Seasons." Dot, dot, dot and so on, and so forth. Rag and nag about not missing a date. I swear, blow one date - it was just a lunch date - and I'll never, ever hear the end of that. She's been milking my mistake for what? Three or four years now?
I have no idea what this is for. Fund raiser? High-profile Catholic Dems? That's me, always along for the adventure. Going with my neighbor, a Virgo, to see a Pisces (with a Virgo Moon).
Computer notes:
Address spoofing - don't know if it affects a Mac.
The Jan. '04 issue of Playboy, as reported on several sites, lists the top 50 tech items that changed the world. Supposedly, I'll have to ferret out a copy to verify this, the Apple digital camera, then the iPod, and finally, at the top of the list, the Macintosh, were all there.
It's only the second time I've bought such a magazine, I had a teacher with a story in one - years ago - and my roommate at the time was shocked: I really did read the article.
Coffee notes:
I motored up towards downtown, took a turn and headed towards the bookstore, forgetting that I was heading there to pick up a certain magazine. I stopped one place and watched while a Gemini took painstaking steps to insure that I had an ultimate coffee experience. Talk about labor intensive, she steamed the milk twice, layered, frothed, layered again. I was impressed.
At the bookstore, I noticed a particular book by the next governor of Texas, one his epic tomes was on sale, so I snagged a couple of them as gifts. Then I headed up to the second floor for a special gift for Sister, a book about dancing. Or something. The computer section was right next to it, and I settled in with a book about blogging, not intending to buy it. Just as I was glancing through it, I realized that the text didn't have anything interesting for me, and my phone buzzed, number came up: Gemini.
I paid up and set out for Jo's. We met, almost at the exact same time, right in front, about half an hour later.

Got home, looked at the journal, and realized I never did buy that damn magazine.
Coffee notes:
I motored up towards downtown, took a turn and headed towards the bookstore, forgetting that I was heading there to pick up a certain magazine. I stopped one place and watched while a Gemini took painstaking steps to insure that I had an ultimate coffee experience. Talk about labor intensive, she steamed the milk twice, layered, frothed, layered again. I was impressed.
At the bookstore, I noticed a particular book by the next governor of Texas, one his epic tomes was on sale, so I snagged a couple of them as gifts. Then I headed up to the second floor for a special gift for Sister, a book about dancing. Or something. The computer section was right next to it, and I settled in with a book about blogging, not intending to buy it. Just as I was glancing through it, I realized that the text didn't have anything interesting for me, and my phone buzzed, number came up: Gemini.
I paid up and set out for Jo's. We met, almost at the exact same time, right in front, about half an hour later.

Got home, looked at the journal, and realized I never did buy that damn magazine.
Waiting on the bus, waiting on Godot? Waiting for the train, the plane, the ride out of here? Waiting on the fish to bite. Waiting on that muse to tickle my fancy. Or tickle anything, so it seems. Got lots of work, just can't get squared away with it. Can't seem to triangulate the position. Got a plan, just have no implementation of that plan. So I'm waiting.
Which made me think - the rest of Sister's "birthday buy-out" caught up with me, the other afternoon. The parcel delivery service dropped it off at a neighbor's trailer. That Pisces guy was all excited, he thought he was getting a new PowerBook. I had to open the box in front of him, just to prove that there was nothing but dirty laundry in the box. Who are we kidding? I hand carried the new laptop home.
The new printer also arrived. It came with the purchase - a $99 printer with a $99 rebate. Sounds good to me. Not that I needed it, but from what I can tell, it's basically free. I've got to clean, and rearrange some personal effects to make room for the new stuff.
The whole theme of waiting came about because I've got another manuscript that needs polish, a thorough edit, and I was thinking about printing it out.
Two items lead to this train wreck of a thought pattern. I'd dug through the cable box, looking for a certain male-female-stereo-microphone adapter thingy, and I stumbled across a modem cable, a mouse for a 1984 Mac, and various other items that I just tossed. Plus, there was some old Apple Talk network cabling.
While I was looking through that manuscript, thinking about doing a hardcopy edit, I remembered the process for writing for the newspaper: go home, right after the event, write the feature, then I would print up that draft copy - on a dot-matrix printer. Carry that copy into the newsroom, and type it all over again. It was old style news, pre-internet and so forth.
The way the dot-matrix worked, it took up CPU cycles, and there was no print-spooling available at the time. Plus, in manuscript form, those articles ran about two pages in the draft mode.
I did something I'm sure I'll come to regret. I printed out an outline of the manuscript, to go along the 100+ pages of text. Not really a full-on outline, but a checklist to make sure each sign has all the same parts and pieces covered. So far? Less than 33% recycled material. I hope I can keep that up.
What's it all mean? I'm still in a knot - waiting.
Book, authors: Julian Barnes & more.
I noticed the name at the top of piece of fiction in a recent New Yorker magazine, and I read the article on the flight to Tulsa. Near as I can recall, I've only read one Julian Barnes book, England England, which I found drily amusing as only a decent British comedy of manners can do.
As I recall, I lifted that article from the magazine and stashed it someplace. Meant to post it along, as I thought it was decent little piece of fiction. With a romantic walker as the protagonist, and all the failed relationships, I thought it was a good little story.
I keep getting queries from folks who don't seem to understand the subscription model. What's wryly amusing to me is that this has been in place since last April? April 9, 2003. April 10, 2003. One reason to keep a journal, I suppose - so I can keep record of what and when. "You expect me to pay?" Dunno, you expect me to pay you to read it?
Steve Jobs on iTunes - the storefront I've looked at - but haven't bought there - yet. All said and done, though, it looks like iTunes isn't really making direct money. Price is too low. But that's the sticking point. Why I priced my subscriptions at $2.95. (As compared to some sites that charge twice as much or maybe ten times as much for a monthly fee.)

The weather was set for one of those drastic changes. I was watching a remote thermometer in Ft. Worth, and the temp dropped from 68 to 48, so I knew it was headed this way. Originally, I'd planned to fish in the morning, but a light rain was falling, and I never did properly figure out rain fish. But a just after noon, I snagged this little feller, just as the wind was about to shift around to the north. Hard to believe that I was standing on the river's edge in shorts and no shirt at 2 in the afternoon, and it's below freezing by now.
Bubba "Dude you're getting a DELL" Sean popped by after his 12-hour shift. He didn't seem to impressed with my catch-of-the-day. Nor was he impressed with the delicate Aries serving us dinner, but I was. Aries always impress me. So do Gemini, but that's a different tale.
Problem child
I started using that expression, "problem child," a while back. It was an off-hand comment to someone who'd just stumbled into the trailer as I was wrapping up a phone reading.
"Who was that on the phone?" my intruder asked.
"Just a problem child, that's all," was my reply.
Words are important so it's a term I've looked at before. My "problem child" is more like a theme for a day or a week, and whoever is in its position varies, too. Friends, family, cohorts, clients, distant loves, not-so-distant loves, they all can fall under that moniker.
The deal is, when I use that term, it puts me in a patronizing situation. Hoo-boy, that's a whole can of worms I don't like. "Patronizing, patriarch, got that all down pat."
I was idling along, thinking that food was in order, on my way to the post office. Coffee, too. I was doing an internal monologue about a problem child and I wanted to get a new perspective on the situation. So I put the problem child's situation on the front burner, and gave it much thought. Burned up several hours that way.
As I was headed home, I thought about a coffee-guy I listened to for a little while. He was talking about this one barista at a certain place, a girl with her honey - golden hair. Never mind that he already has a cute Virgo girlfriend. And therein lies a tale, I'm sure, but the more I considered my situation, I arrived at a conclusion.
Sorry, my problem child plate is full.
"Well, the Queen of Spades is a friend of mine
The Queen of Hearts is a bitch
Someday when I clean up my mind
I'll find out which is which"
Las Vegas by Gram Parsons (from the anthology)
(c) 1974 Wait & See Music / Casserole Music Corp. (BMI)
Late at night, I was doing a load of laundry, wandering aimlessly down that gravel road pathway - barefoot - and from one Pisces neighbor's trailer, the sweet sounds of Robert Earl Keen, caterwauling about Xmas with the family.
This is basic astrology, and the way the material is presented attempts to take some of the mystery out of how anybody can take an astrology chart to better understand how the components interact with each other. It's basic material, covered in a fashion to help facilitate the understanding certain key points, and how to look at a whole astrology chart - more than just a Sun Sign. Enjoy!
Lost opportunities
Golden opportunities, lost to all. Anyway, what was I thinking about? If it hadn't been before the friggin' sun was up, I wouldn't have noticed that the Creek Toll Road that runs from Broken Arrow to Tulsa is also called the Pearl Harbor Memorial Freeway. Or something similar to that.
And I was on it, December 7th. Coincidence? Probably.
I took that red-eye flight out because I was sure it would be less crowded - it was - and because I wanted to catch the writers' group. Missed the meeting because I was lost. Or misplaced. I thought I knew where I was going. Apparently not.
Late Sunday afternoon, I was rambling down Lamar, saw Artz Ribs and stopped in for a bite.
Every bit as good as I remember. Been way too long since I've been over there. I've been there often enough to know that I can't really finish the three rib plate. So I stuck with two, but I was astonished to discover I was actually hungry. Then I set off to stop at the bookstore and check on an invoice for them, but I never made it - got to talking on the phone and that distracted me.
Bunch of shopping links I pulled together for something, and now I can't remember what I was looking for.
CowGirl Chocolate
Ben Silver
Zebra Hall
the danish book bag
Toddy Coffee
david morgan
Dave Barry Gift Guide
Take me back to Tulsa, Pt. 2
You ever get the sense that you "missed something"? Especially with an entry? Or a shirt?
I'm a businessman, in reality. What I do, travel from town to town, it's about business. Last July, I added a pressed, white shirt folded and in its little cleaners' bag, to my rolling stock of items that get switched into whatever suitcase is being used for the trip.
Back at the museum: One of big Ray Benson's stage out fit. A "Sharp Dressed Man" (Billy Gibbons) ZZ Top outfit. A Patsy Cline outfit. Buck Owen's famous coat. One of them, anyway. All there.
With American Music making a big comeback, it was nice to see a lot of the roots - literally roots - with a small portion of Gene Autry's boot collection. That stretched further than my trailer is long.
I do love me some Western Wear. It included a grievous angel bit, too, one of Gram Parson's shirts.
From western wear to cowboys & indians, it was downtown. Heart of Oklahoma City, Interstate 35 and Interstate 40 intersect. Tucked in the northwest corner of that intersection, at the edge of the downtown entertainment district, there's the latest Bass Pro shop. Shop and "outdoor world," although, my Taurus from Tulsa was a more than a little disappointed at the lack of handguns, "Man, they don't even have any decent air-pistols. I need one of those."
I'm not sure I want to know why.
I found a huge stash of lures on sale, and then, when I started reading the fine print, I figured out why those were on sale, Those lures would dive deeper than the creek beds I fish.
But I did pick up some of the baits I like, and I did snag a Rattle Trap Lure, with patented diamond-backed tread-pattern. Get your groove on?
And pink worms. Can never have too many pink worms on hand.
This morning, before the Sagittarius Sun had risen, I was in the Tulsa International Airport, my saddlebags over one shoulder, and a little overnight bag with those new lures and jigheads plus a few dirty clothes. And that one shirt.
"Hey, I've got some fishing lures in here, do I need to check this or will it go through security?"
"Oh no, you have to check that. It's the 'sharp things' that gets them up there (at security)."
Which then led to a conversation about fishing, and the gate agent (his name was Kevin), allowed ass how he usually fished in one tournament every year, and considering it was over 600 boats, the fact that he weighed in at #110 was pretty good.
I asked about area lakes, and for the life of me, I can't remember any of the names.
So the guy was talking about fishing while I checked my little carry-on with sharp items in it.
I got home, thought about tossing a new lure in the lake, looked at the wind, recalled previous misadventures with such activities, and I opted for a nap instead. As I unpacked, I picked up that one shirt, and marveled at how well-traveled it is.
Went to El Paso, then England, then back to El Paso, and from there, out to Left Coast - and now? Up to Tulsa and back as well. Still haven't had a cause to wear a nice, starched, white oxford-cloth button-down.
Tossed it into the suitcase bound for - I think - the Left Coast again, in time for Xmas with the fam.
Take me back to Tulsa pt. 1
National Cowboy Hall of Fame is in OKC. So is the latest Bass Pro Shop.
Decisions, decisions. Which one's more important?
As we pulled into OKC, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame was right there. It was the obvious first stop.
My personal interest leans towards the romantic art, and a detailed exhibit about how Hollywood and subsequent media, has fictionalized "The West."
The "West" on TV and in films isn't exactly the way the real west is-was. There were numerous TV shows from the 1950's and even into the 1960's that had plenty of memorabilia displayed.
Imagine a Black and White show from the early 1960's, about a then-current pro-rodeo circuit rider.
I got several pictures of the trail of tears statue, but the backlight, the winter morning sunlight in the museum, while it made for a good image in person, it didn't translate to my digital imaging well.
Seemed like the museum dealt fairly evenly with the topics. Then there was the exhibit, "How the West was Worn." Me, wearing cowboy boots, boot-cut jeans, western belt (belt was hand-tooled in Alpine, TX - silver fittings from Mexico), and so on. Might've been the black leather jacket, though. I need to get a new one of those, too. Motorcycle "cut." Didn't exactly fit in. Not that it's ever bothered me, though.

Road notes
News from East Texas.
National Cowboy Hall of Fame?
Maybe so.
Tulsa is one cold city, that's for sure.
This is weird: I can snarf bandwidth from this cable modem. It'll receive email, but won't send.
Movie question & holiday travel
I was tapping the Austin Stories portal Thursday morning, really before any coffee, and I stumbled through one of Greg's entries. Funny, brilliant, but that first question got me....
Something about, "What movie describes your life right now?"
High Fidelity.
Although, I much prefer the book to the movie. The movie's good. The book is excellent.
Except, I'm updated since Sister made me accept an iPod. I won't be mixing tapes, or rearranging a record collection, I'd just be reordering the play list. Ultimately, there's something very comforting about having old-school punk come up next to new-old-school opera next to "classic rock" next to "classic rap." Then a little techno and conjunto, thrown in for good measure. And some twangy, pure Texas music. To boot.
My Virgo neighbor had the day off, and we were supposed to get together. One thing led to another, and I whiled away the afternoon throwing lures into a windy lake. I got some back, one was snagged on the bottom, another was blown into a tree. Some days, the vegetation wins.
So the Virgo did materialize, around five. Just in time for a heinous rush hour. Dropped a few packages off to be shipped out, Xmas gifts.
Meandered through the snarls of cars to the Buffet Palace place and tied on a feed bag. Bad sushi. Great other stuff, but really tremendously bad buffet sushi. Being a Louisiana girl, she turned her Southern nose up at the crawfish, but I found them acceptable. I was doing pretty well at plate four or five until I opted for one last pass at the dessert bar. Bad move. Over did it just a little.
So the next destination was a big brand-name store, and a little more Xmas shopping.
"Kramer, you've been so nice tonight, why not stop off at my place for a cigarette and I'll have some wine?"
Remember the dessert that knocked me down? A feller has to know when to call it quits. I wandered back to my trailer still ahead of the game.
Morning flight out to Tulsa, frozen land far north of Texas. And from there? Hopefully to OKC and the Bass Pro shop. I now have to replace a half-dozen lures lost to the wind.
"Land so flat you can see LA, It's a flatland boogie with a mercury five - tornado alley is always hot and dry, its cotton fields and cattle ranches honky-tonks and all night dances..."
Is it odd to step on a jet airplane with the tune from a juke-joint band's song? Slap bass, guitar, singer, not much else. Pure acoustic heaven.
(Flatland Boogie on Wayne Hancock's Swing Time - highly recommended.)
If I had any sense at all
On page 4 of the article...
Right, like any articles on a website have real pages. That’s just wrong. But that’s not where I was going with this, it was my reaction to an artist who’s been a big influence in my life. In fact, until previously alluded to Bucky showed up, I’d given up on that medium.
From a writer’s point of view, though, what I liked best was a quote from Bill Watterson “... If I had any business savvy at all myself, I'd lump the whole business tomorrow and self-publish."
I was – figuratively – banging my head against the desk top while wrestling with another subscription problem. Still a few ghosts and gremlins leftover from the server switch. But what it amounts to, and after hanging around Sister last week, and her “artist’s angst,” I’m in a much more comfortable place.
It’s all about selling out – or not selling out.
Then, to compound the questions – I got yet another piece of, well, the tone was upsetting, mail that started with a really long subject line: “I’ve been getting your horoscopes in e-mail for several years.”
It continued in the body of the message, “Have you dropped me from the mailing list because you want me to pay for them?”
I spent a portion of my birthday in the company of an idol of mine. A guy I like. A Scorpio. However, I’ve also walked, literally, many miles in his shoes. When I showed up, I didn’t expect a miracle. He was quiet, soft-spoken, gentle, and when I left him, he was sitting on his stoop, shuffling through junk mail, just like anyone else. Pretty awesome experience for me.
One point I’d never considered in my own chart, that he brought out, was the idea, concept, theory, pattern, that I have to work for myself. I don’t do well when I’m “employed” by other folks.
I know from a fairly recent experience that I don’t do well working for other people, not with me as an employee. So what does this have to do with a quote from the creator of Calvin & Hobbs?
It’s about taking it to the streets. In the 8 or 9 months since I started running this site as a subscription-based deal, it’s working much better. Still, those several dozen subscriptions are paying for the bandwidth burned up by the thousands who hit the site looking for free advice.
Doesn’t much pay for the time involved, but a few readings here and there pick up the difference at times. Other times? The idea of regular paycheck sure is nice. But with my last experience as a guideline, that pretty much precludes working on the website, or, more importantly, writing the scopes – which – is what it all comes back to.
Bill Watterson was quoted from some time ago. Now that the web has evolved, if he his strip showed up – as a subscription based deal, would it be worth it?
For that matter, is it worth pounding out horoscopes when no one wants to pay?
I didn’t fire back a nasty comment, but as the evening wore on, I kept rearranging the words in my head. I’d add an “expect” in front of the “me to pay” in my head. Wasn’t there. No need to get carried away. Yeah, my on brain, plus tone. I read a lot into words. I look at how they are arranged.
The tone was pretty clear, the “expect me to pay then take a long hike off a short pier, buddy.” That was the tone of the message. But not the words used. So this is an experiment. I’m still looking for ways I can run this business, do what I like doing, and not sell out.
There is always the other option, like Bill Watterson, I can just retire, or, like other folks in the “online world,” I can close up and disappear.
Holidays – weird Wednesday
I did a wish list, and almost immediately regretted it. There’s always one item that no one will understand, but to me, seems absolutely indispensable.
The Simpson’s Lure(s) (TM, (C) LLC NAACP NRA DM &etc.).
From Relic Lures.
I kept thinking to myself, “Self, you just ain’t got enough time to wander over yonder to the East Side. Not enough daylight. Not enough time. Too many miles.”
I was thinking that while I “chummed” another lure into a tree. Slightly windy morning, line flew over a branch and I never did get the lure back. One of my favorite fictional characters does his best thinking in the litter box. I tend to meditate best with a pole in hand. Some days there might be fish involved. Other days? The vegetation wins.
As I followed the trail eastward, I stepped up closer to the shoreline to observe some baby bass spooling in the shallows. A blond female (human, not fish) flittered into my peripheral vision. Decision? Look at the fish, see what they’re feeding on. Some days, those are the priorities.
So I didn’t take that easterly hike. I took a shortcut over the pedestrian bridge, followed the rail line for moment, then headed towards the PO Box. And stopped. I was hungry. I wanted something different. The same but different. Hoffbrau came to mind. Hove into sight. Yee-haw, still open. I was the second to last customer for the lunch rush. Ain’t been there in a coon’s age. It was just as good as I remember it, too. Greasy salad (heavy on salad oil, I’d reckon). Delightful. As I sat next to side door, with my back to the wall, I gazed at the counter. Looked at the floor. Took a quick Gemini call on the cell phone, yes darling Gemini, I’ll fix that thing soon enough. I was figuring that the linoleum on the floor must be a good ten or twenty years old. Watched while the waitress swept the corner out.
Sirloin. Medium. Served in a puddle of butter, lemon, and hint of something else. Three fries, which were more like one potato, cut length-wise and deep-fried.
It just all hit the spot.
Up, on the wall behind the register, there was a sign: “If you are grouchy, irritable or rude, there will be a $10 surcharge for putting up with you.” I’m going back, soon, just to take a picture of that. Plus the food was dependably good. Probably play hell with the cholesterol level, but who cares on a fine afternoon?
Weirdest thing in the post box, a postcard from Amsterdam, another birthday card, wishing me the best. That was cool, I mean, coming from the Netherlands. For real.
I stopped for an afternoon espresso, served by a Gemini, and then I peeled out of my T-shirt again. I know it’s December, but it was 77 degrees, warm enough to justify no shirt on the trail. As I stood near the corner of Congress and First, I decided to try for a little extra mileage. I’ve heat-stroked before going the long way, but what the heck, it’s the middle of winter.
In the shade, against my bare chest, the cool air felt at times, almost like it was burning cold. In the Sagittarius sun, it felt warm, the faintest hint of perspiration collecting on my skin.
When I finally rolled into the trailer, I realized I’d actually cleared all that mileage I originally figured I could never do. Plus an excellent greasy steak and fries.
A song kept coming back to me:
Album: One More From The Road – cut: Travellin' Man (Leon Wilkeson -- Ronnie VanZant)
Travellin' man -- that's what I am
No one puts a hold on me
You'll see me once or maybe twice
That's all you'll see of me
All you pretty women Lord, I hope you understand
Don't be a fool and fall in love with a travellin' man
I'm a travellin' man
Travellin' Man -- that's what I am
Lyrics: (c) Copyright by Peer International -- BMI
official (?) site
Of note
TFG made mention – that’s just, just something.
Then, the other point I missed because I was feeling a bit poorly? Feast Day of St. Eloy. Eloy worked for Dagobert I, minting money for the Frankish King. Eloy went on to become the patron saint of folks who pound stuff with hammers.
I like that, a patron saint for folks who pound things with hammers.
Dead Milkmen tour blog. No, the DM aren’t playing anymore, but that doesn’t stop them from resurrecting an old tour journal web-style.
Sick day
I hear that they have designated days when an employee can call in sick. Too bad that doesn’t work around here, seeing as how I‘m the only one who really works.
So not much got accomplished. Didn’t get out, didn’t do all those things I was planning too get down. I didn’t even play with the new toys. Maybe I just needed a little extra dose of bed-rest.
Friendly Shady Acres
Inside, it felt really chilly outside, but the news kept saying it was nice out. So I dared to venture forth in shorts, and I didn’t really regret my decision.
I strolled up and over the bridge to post office, stopped off and picked up a shot of afternoon espresso, and ambled on home. I like the rustle of dollar bills in the mailbox – it’s a comforting sound. The more I thought about it, though, I really like the rustle of checks in the post box better. Then, I followed that train of thought out as far as the rustle of lotto-type of check, and how that would be nice. Since that ain’t a-happened yet, then I’ll take what I can get and be grateful. All a matter of perspective.
Sister’s largesse and generosity is one of those gifts that “keeps on giving” as I’m stuck trying to remember passwords for sites that somehow all got thrashed in the transfer. Mail seems to be working, but I hate having to copy and paste the several dozen signatures I’ve got.
It could be worse, I suppose.
When I was headed home, I took a long way around the park, and I just knew that certain Virgo neighbor would be sitting outside, I just knew she’d want to chat. She’s got a new puppy and I’ve been coerced into “puppy duty” a few times already.
Puppy love ain’t free, she’s promised dinner in exchange for my services. And I knew she’d be outside in the afternoon. I was going to duck her, but the calm edge of the river, the gentle breeze buffeting the water, “Kramer, hey, come here.”
I was clutching a brown paper bag with a quart of Egg Nog. We chatted for a moment, she promised a birthday gift, and I warned her I might be pretty far gone into a coffee induced euphoria in a few minutes, with a little extra sugar loaded on top.
She brought me candy from LA, promised some boudin, crawfish pie and such. Nice collection of birthday cards building up, too.
I did spend a little time spin-casting into the river. Didn’t plan to catch any fish, but that one Virgo, she kept regaling me with stories from her T-day vacation…..
“See, it’s all about crawfish, catfish, and drinking Jack from the bottle while shooting at beer bottles lined up on the fence. No, look, a state trooper got shot, and this one preacher and his son disappeared into the (some lake’s name) – the deal is, that water’s not more than six foot deep, and then, this one deer hunter shot his own child. Just typical week there.”
Long E-mail to Sister:
It started as an idea, a long email to my Sister while I was shuttling through - and riding around - in airports. Somehow - who booked these flights - that's right - I did. Anyway, I was shuttling around and I noticed that a lot of folks had followed my lead, figuring that travel traffic wouldn't be near as bad.
Of course, I was riding on a frequent flyer ticket, which meant that certain days were blacked out. Our parents traveled with us a lot, but I'm pretty sure it was different then. Or maybe not. I noticed, almost immediately, a after getting the "tuck and roll" at the Oakland Airport, a family traveling, the mom (presumably) pushing a double stroller with one kid walking, mom toting pack, and the husband wandering alongside, holding the tickets.
But this scene got repeated, in several variations. Seemed to me that the males weren't doing a lot. There's a kind of sadness that I get, a pervasive feeling of sorrow and loss, and while the senses are fleeting, I get them from time to time in various airports. Dallas, Austin, and most notably on this trip, the Phoenix airport.
When I was in school here, I never imagined that I'd be commuting through this airport that often, third time this year, I think. And I'll be back this way for the Xmas season, although, I don't think I'll be laying over in Phoenix on that trip.
The deal that gets to me, the folks traveling with children. It's a little strange, as I think about it. We got carted around like that, at one point. I don't recall the details, I just recall airports and packing as a an ordeal. I watched one couple and their two young sons, and I made up stories. The mom was terribly worried about the two boys as they wandered off together to go to the bathroom. The pair of youngsters, I'm guessing 4 - to - 9 age range were a little wired.
The older one, in my mind, was a Sagittarius. Intent on his educational video game. The younger =one, a Gemini, obviously. Always moving, fidgeting, talking. The mom described to her husband what it was lie to watch them wander off.
Still, an echo of sadness of some kind, watching a nuclear happy family. It was also odd, on one leg of the trip, to watch really young guys toting around their kids. I'd just been perusing an article about astrological signatures in some years, and what it all means. Seeing ass how I fit one of those signatures, I was wondering about and guessing at the ages of parents.
There's always got to be a Pisces, too. Relief from the sadness and burden of travel on a holiday weekend.
Yes, it was all a little weird.
The first time I identified this sadness or echo of melancholy, it was at the old Austin airport, a place that is no longer in service, but stood me in good service for the first years of the career. It was a place that hadn't really been updated, architecturally (or so it seemed), in 30 years. So it had that old facade, just like air travel when I was a child.
Too many words, and not on the topic, just hints, echoes, memories, dream fragments.
All that birthday stuff
Sister and I, her in her Xmas sweater, me in a fishing shirt, took off on Friday afternoon and "went shopping."
"See, bro, it would make me feel better about myself if I bought you a new computer, I know you could use a new one. Maybe get an iPod, too, huh? I've got a 30-gig iPod, look, they've got 40-gig models now. Wow, yours would actually be bigger than mine...."
I've got an old, slow Titanium Powerbook. This thing has road-warriored a lot of miles. I've always been attracted to the tough, Ti skin, although, in places, the paint has worn off, strictly from use.
"Oh man, that thing's so old, it looks like it's rusted. Kramer, you really do need a new one."
Now, seeing as how sister is suffering the slings and arrows of an outrageous break-up, in the interest of her mental health, and since whatever it is she's doing seems to be bringing in a lot more cash that whatever it is that I'm doing, I'd gladly sacrifice my needs so she could feel better about herself.
After all, I'm only going along with this because it is in her best interest.
We discussed models, sizes, RAM footprints, CD-DVD burners, built-in options, and add-on goodies. I was angling towards the smaller, cheaper model, but after we took a break from shopping - to have some of that vegetarian tofu (food item),
I really am a little worried about her mental health. She was laughing at all my jokes. That's usually a bad sign, or a good sign, if you're one who likes them a little mentally unstable.
We got about halfway through the purchase ordeal, up to the part where the cute little Gemini sales person in the Apple Store was ringing up the total, when I whispered, "You want one too; you know you do."
In fact, it was my birthday. So I can say that it was strictly a gift for me. But there's just something ultimately curative and restorative about retail therapy. We eventually walked out of there with two identical Powerbooks. Not top of the line, but certainly big enough to keep her happy. Plus - just imagine the benefits - for mental health.
I jus want to make sure that the record shows that I was only doing this for her. Sister needed a little support. Gots to show support for the family. Blood's thicker than water. New computers are fun.
After dinner, after the show, it was late on Friday night, Sister and I were up at her place, playing with new and old hardware, trying it all out, and I kept answering questions about what went where and why. She brewed up coffee. I ran to the corner store for Egg Nog. Do we know how to party, or what?
Gong through the airport security, I asked if two laptops were a little extreme.
“Nope, three is tops so far.”
I got home really late Saturday night. Really late. Plugged the two computers into each other; let them make idle chatter while I slept.
House of Sake, Walnut Creek, CA. Don't you just love a suburban retreat that makes no bones about what it is? With signage like that, how can one go wrong? The only way it could be any better is to change a Southland company to a "Bubba's Beer - Bait - Ammo." Somehow, I just don't see that happening in Walnut Creek.


All that birthday stuff

Sister and I, her in her Xmas sweater, me in a fishing shirt, took off on Friday afternoon and "went shopping."
"See, bro, it would make me feel better about myself if I bought you a new computer, I know you could use a new one. Maybe get an iPod, too, huh? I've got a 30-gig iPod, look, they've got 40-gig models now. Wow, yours would actually be bigger than mine...."
I've got an old, slow Titanium Powerbook. This thing has road-warriored a lot of miles. I've always been attracted to the tough, Ti skin, although, in places, the paint has worn off, strictly from use.
"Oh man, that thing's so old, it looks like it's rusted. Kramer, you really do need a new one."
Now, seeing as how sister is suffering the slings and arrows of an outrageous break-up, in the interest of her mental health, and since whatever it is she's doing seems to be bringing in a lot more cash that whatever it is that I'm doing, I'd gladly sacrifice my needs so she could feel better about herself.
After all, I'm only going along with this because it is in her best interest.
We discussed models, sizes, RAM footprints, CD-DVD burners, built-in options, and add-on goodies. I was angling towards the smaller, cheaper model, but after we took a break from shopping - to have some of that vegetarian tofu (food item),
I really am a little worried about her mental health. She was laughing at all my jokes. That's usually a bad sign, or a good sign, if you're one who likes them a little mentally unstable.
We got about halfway through the purchase ordeal, up to the part where the cute little Gemini sales person in the Apple Store was ringing up the total, when I whispered, "You want one too; you know you do."
In fact, it was my birthday. So I can say that it was strictly a gift for me. But there's just something ultimately curative and restorative about retail therapy. We eventually walked out of there with two identical Powerbooks. Not top of the line, but certainly big enough to keep her happy. Plus - just imagine the benefits - for mental health.
I jus want to make sure that the record shows that I was only doing this for her. Sister needed a little support. Gots to show support for the family. Blood's thicker than water. New computers are fun.
After dinner, after the show, it was late on Friday night, Sister and I were up at her place, playing with new and old hardware, trying it all out, and I kept answering questions about what went where and why. She brewed up coffee. I ran to the corner store for Egg Nog. Do we know how to party, or what?

House of Sake, Walnut Creek, CA. Don't you just love a suburban retreat that makes no bones about what it is? With signage like that, how can one go wrong?

Duct Tape & Xmas Sweaters

Got to get some terms straight here, it isn't really "duct tape" or duck tape, it's gaffer's tape. Looks like duck tape, smells like duck tape, acts like duck tape, but that's okay, call it whatever you freaks in California want to call it.
When I was in a big box store, in Austin, I noticed a "six-pack" of smoked oysters in cottonseed oil. Childhood memories, me and Sister, especially her, loved those things. The little, smoked oysters in a can. Product of Portugal, or Spain. Or some place. So I brought those out, intending to wrap them up as an Xmas gift, for her, to be shared by the whole family.
Woke up, rolled into the bathroom, she'd taken a long bath last night, there was an empty tin of those smoked oysters.
"You eat the whole thing?" I asked, eying the empty oyster can in the can.
"No. Well, sort of. Look: I'm going through a divorce, I can do anything I want."
Got that right, Sister.
Seems that certain folks find her choice in attire somewhat circumspect, given her position in the local arts community. Me? Makes perfect sense. She's wears somewhat threadbare, basically black clothes, and the worn spots? Those are covered with duck tape. Gaffer's tape. Whatever.
Now let's top this off with family tradition. T-Day is over. Didn't have turkey. Bonus. Time to drag out the "holiday sweaters." See, every year Sister gets an Xmas sweater from Ma Wetzel. The all-time favorite was one with sleigh bells. Jingled everywhere she went.
So one year, she dropped all the sweaters off at the cleaners. Didn't get picked up again until the next year.... so now she does that every year. And what was once an object of scorn, those horribly & tacky Xmas sweaters? They are now objects of great love and affection.
As evidence, in the following photo, she's into wearing Xmas stuff. Not that it has anything to do with her basic religious outlook, more or less a Goddess oriented branch of Hellenic Paganism. Or something like that. Might have changed, Sister is a Gemini.
Yeah, shopping with Sister can be such a chore.


California, part-whatever.

I arrived at the airport, in a timely fashion, me, the Pisces and her dog (dog's a Sagittarius, too). "Tuck and roll, bubba." After clearing the ticket counter and security, I settled in, and I poked around on line, glancing at news sites and bytes while munching on a horribly expensive airport breakfast taco ($3.36 with tax, title, license and security fee).
There was a lengthy, tearful discussion about just who was going to pick me up at the airport in Northern CA; however, Ms. Fredlet eventually persevered. Imagine that.
So Northern California may be the "chosen land," but on T-day, we wandered all over a vacant hell's half acre, and couldn't find a decent sushi place that was open. We wound up in some steak place, second best option, in some faceless little town, having something very akin to beef sushi. Prime Rib, Rib-eye, Filet. Much hilarity ensued.
I'm not sure how, but eventually, after careening around most of the East Bay, we found one place that was open for after dinner drinks: a coffee shop (by my standards): L'Amyrx Tea Room.
Which meant we all got to chatting with the owner (Virgo), and we all give the place a nod of approval, as it was awful decent of them to be open late, just for us.

There's always fredlet:

"Say it."
"Yes dear, you're right, I'm wrong, I'm sorry - I love you."
Then, we have the amended version Sister and I use, "You're wrong, I'm right, I'm sorry...."
Whatever works.


Up and at early in the morning, going to the left coast for T-Day and B-Day. I'm sure much hilarity will ensue.
And never ask a woman her age. Unless, of course, it's for an astrology chart.
Unrelated: tech problems with SBC DSL. Don't know what it is. Just being like any other big, service provider. Down.
Tech support calls were useless. So I ambled down to the river's edge, in the middle of the afternoon, to practice my casting. Had one of those lucky baits still tied on the end, from the other day.
Changed the whole afternoon:

(He's not very big, but it had a lot of fight for a little feller. I 'spect he lost about pound when I was reeling him in. I'm not sure who was more surprised, me - or the fish.)

Two meat Tuesday could almost qualify for a trinity

Late at night, I was at a hamburger spot, with a dear little Capricorn. Somehow, I'd wound up wandering around Fry's (electronic superstore). I will never understand why I get called for Tech Support. "But it's a computer, you can fix those!"
During the two hours there, I'd spent at Fry's, I was outside, doing family tech support for a good portion of that time. Dear old Pa Wetzel was having trouble getting his computer to dial up, or, as the case might have been, he just wasn't quite understanding instructions. Then Sister called, and that was a whole other ordeal, trying to get appointments lined up for the holiday weekend. Finally, there were two more business calls, one for working a party in December, and another for a series of seminars I'm supposed to give - about astrology - in New Mexico sometime, maybe in January.
Along the way, I discovered that the Spider House coffee shop in Austin now has nice little hand-lettered sign that spells out the meaning of "macchiato." I found that - plus the Libra barista - quite pleasant.
Which doesn't answer the question about wireless....

Two meat Tuesday + fish

I'm an astrologer. Do I believe in lucky totems? Good luck charms? Magic bait that will attract any bass, no matter what the conditions? Sure.
I was going to try a different hat, since the last Shakespeare hat didn't work, and I had one a ton of clothing. Long underwear. Heavy shirt. Sweater. Another shirt. Jacket. I mean, the temperature was 28 degrees, that's 4 degrees below freezing. Now, I also knew that the lake we were heading to? It's cooling pond for a gas-fired generating plant. Water temperature on the discharge side? 65 degrees. When the boat wasn't moving, it was almost pleasant out. But that long ride over to the special creek channel? How easy it is to forget what 30 degrees at 60 knots is like....

Report for the day: 1 (one) fish. Stopped off at Cartwright's on the way back into town and had a two-meat plate. I was feeling pretty pleased, didn't seem like a lot of folks were catching anything.
Best score for the morning? NitroFish logo hat. New lucky hat. Looks like it's what I'll be wearing on the plane Thursday morning, too.
The secret to fishing in cold weather? It's special bait, and you have to fish it a certain way. My fishing buddy was having no luck, and he wasn't hearing any of my advice, either, he was using Christmas Tree jig. Come on, those don't work until after Thanksgiving.
Of course, something always happens, this was the final pose with that one fish:

On any Sunday

NB: not that On Any Sunday! Mail stats, for just one day, last Sunday: inbound mail 425. Actual mail that mattered? 36. Weekend mail tends to be a little slow.
So that's the spam report. And in other news? World's going to hell in a bucket.
Looks like I'll go fishing this morning. Damn it's cold out.

Big boxes

I'd mentioned to that sweet Pisces that I needed to do a little grocery shopping. She acknowledged that she needed a few items, too. Sunday morning, I was still "hung over" from Saturday night. (Not being what you would call a "drinking man" these days, I'm not sure what it was. Just tired? Maybe.)
So we headed out into the fray. First off was the nation's second largest retailer, if I understand that right, Home Depot. I bought an air filter. I looked at a number of items, but an air filter was all I really purchased.
We stopped by the sporting good store, and she had that funny tale about buying bullets there, "Yeah, last time I was here, they almost didn't sell me any bullets. I told them, 'I want to kill something.' I meant paper targets at the shooting range. The clerk thought I meant something - someone - else."
She noted that it was amusing, as I spent all my time looking for 1/16 jig-heads and a replacement Zara Spook while she was looking at handguns. "What do you think?" she indicated a handgun in the case, "I need to test fire one, first. Isn't it cute?"
Finally, it was off to the big warehouse store for the real stuff. As opposed to the reel stuff I picked up on the fishing aisle.
I have successfully resisted buying Sister a big, metal toolbox, at least so far. I did snag a few Xmas gifts I'll tote out to the left coast on Thursday, "Here, you wrap these up...."
I had to drop off a couple of copies of my book at the new age bookstore (Whole Life Books, 1006 S. Lamar). And as long as we were there, we dropped into Maudies Too for a quick pick-me-up repast. Chipolte-Shrimp-Migas. At 4 in the afternoon. Served by a darling Scorpio.
I've been served by that one waitress for years. I was pretty sure she was Taurus, from a previous question-and-answer game. When I found out she was Scorpio, I quickly pointed that I am one a mission to make the world better for Scorpio's. Everyone picks on Scorpio's. Not me. I'm not clever enough to pick on a Scorpio.
She groused about the Scorpio reputation, then I as I paid my bill, I pointed out the usual reaction to a Scorpio lass, was the draw away, and then lean in, sotto voce, "So what are you doing later?"
Original plan was to head over to Alamo (downtown) and catch the funny late night show. But as the sun dropped, the temperatures dropped, and with a cold north wind howling, the idea of venturing outside again seemed less and less appealing.
Heart of Saturday

I remember the scene from Saturday night, "Looking for the heart of Saturday." John Dee Graham at the Continental Club.
We wandered into the Continental Club, the stage was perfect. It was the red backdrop, that old Continental Club sign, and a single Marshall Amp. Single microphone stand. That Gemini? She had her dog with her.
Dog didn't have to pay a cover charge, either.
During the set, a girl - another patron - leans over and says, "She's good looking," referring to the dog.
"Yeah, and so's the dog." I replied.
"No, she's just as sweet a can be," she continued.
I replied, "Yeah, and so's the dog."
"She's so nice," she continued.
"Yeah, and so's the dog."
"She's beautiful."
"Yeah, and so's the dog."
"She's well-behaved and minds well."
And the band played on.

Sunspots & eclipses

BBC took time to explain sun spots.
For once, I feel like the government is listening to my complaints. I'm an adult, advertising for "adult-themed material" doesn't bother me too much, just annoys me that the tasteless crap finds it's way into my inbox. But I don't have children living under my roof, either.
Fun with the website statistics: "Listing the top query words by the number of requests, sorted by the number of requests."
124: about

87: xenon
84: fishing

83: to

78: stars

71: guide
(Close, just needs a "the")
57: in

57: love

51: gemini

50: pisces

43: virgo

43: libra
(Sounds right.)
42: astrology

41: and

38: kramer

36: scorpio

35: a

35: aquarius

35: or

34: Capricorn
(But I'm not a Scorpio or a Capricorn!)
33: astrofish

31: famous

30: sagittarius
(Down at the bottom. Huh.)
Sagittarius started at noon on Saturday, more or less, and the peak of the eclipse, last one in Sagittarius? (I don't recall.) That action kicks off, looks like around 5 PM Sunday afternoon.
And if eclipse sentiments last about 10 days, that means I won't be settled down until sometime on into the first week of December.
By noon, three Gemini's had called. I mean, other than that darling young Scorpio the other evening, it's been nothing but Gemini. Saw two movies, I suppose that's a Gemini thing, last time I saw two movies, it was with a Gemini, "Bubba Ho-tep" and "Translation." Or was it "Lost in Translation"? Whatever.
At the Alamo Drafthouse North, the pizza is every bit as good as usual, the service was prompt, and my Gemini left a comment form, "cute waiter!!" Capricorn lad, greeted us when we went back for the second movie. Nice to be remembered.
Bubba Hotep is based on a Joe R. Lansdale novella, a really long short story. If I have my facts right, and I might not, it's the third or fourth Lansdale piece that's been optioned, but the first to actually make it to the screen. Just about all of Joe R. Lansdale's work is quirky. A little weird. Odd, even. Horror, Westerns, Science Fiction, Mystery, historical, and so on. The novella, Bubba Hotep, was one of my favorites. The movie? I wanted to love the movie. I wanted to scream, "go see it now!" Only, problem being, from page to screen, there's a pacing problem. And if you haven't read the book, then the movie leaves a few holes. Maybe. I can't say, I read the book - think I have signed copy, or special editions, or something.
The movie is good, and it's especially good as a B Movie. I enjoyed it, but I kept wanting the pace to move a little faster. Maybe it's my fault for reading the books, and remembering it as a seriously funny bit of black humor.
After a short break at Texpresso, we went back to the theater and watched the previews, I thought. Caddyshack. Where the Buffalo Roam. Interesting bit of verisimilitude.
But the day wasn't done. Eventually, I found myself for the late set of John Dee Graham, at the Continental Club. Warm winds from the south, laden with moisture, watching the cars crawl past on Congress Avenue, John Dee singing about irony.
"They say you put one foot in front of the other, the irony is, that's how feet work."
Target advertising

Just one more, couldn't resist (and she thinks I don't love her):

Or, I could stack three like this:

Bass Pro Shops Outdoors Online:  Fishing

Bass Pro Shops Outdoors Online:  Fly Fishing

Bass Pro Shops Outdoors Online: Saltwater

Or I could just run with the single tag and small graphic, and leave it at that. Which is what I'll probably do.
Traffic reports indicate that the site index doesn't get much volume, so I'm not going to bother to plug anything else in there. And the paid subscription side, it has a minimal advertising. Makes for a cleaner interface. The way i see it, if it's a paid subscription, then there's no reason to exposed to flashing banners and text links that clearly scream marketing hype.


Look, I've got rotten handwriting, I figure this will be a long one. I browsed through selection of cards because I wanted something that wasn't bitter, or too out of touch, but I didn't want to do this in e-mail, either.

Yes, we live very different lives, but when we're together, that's pretty much the joy of it, that we're different and we can, at least I felt, find quite a bit of common ground. To be honest, when I got home the other night, I really missed having an e-mail from you. But I'm also pretty heart-broken when I finally got over my denial that you - so it seems - aren't interested in seeing me as your lover.

I suppose this has been a long time in coming, but you seemed to worry about "where we were going" and I never caught the hint. My fault, I suppose, perhaps because I live in a dreamy state most of the time.

I've also lived in "survival mode" for the past two or three years. Maybe longer. I got one, slim break, and I'm not out of survival mode yet.

Where do we go now? I don't know. I can't see you without a little piece of my heart breaking in two and shattering. You'll hear the tinkle of shards of glass when you do see me. For the past couple of years, I've always been able to count on you, and I mean all of you, not just part of you. To take away part of that feels - to me - like you're ripping away everything.

Relationships are usually problematic. As far as I'm concerned, though, I found our romance to be almost completely problem-free, up until recently. You did send me warning signals, signs along the way, and I suppose, it really started at New Years' Eve, but it just hasn't been the same. In my happy, care-free way, I just figured it was a "phase" you were going through. Apparently not.

Straight up, it hurts. The more I analyzed it, the more I thought about it, the more I felt like you betrayed me. You didn't really, but it felt that way at the time.

When you asked me questions about raising children, I hope that I always prefaced my answers with a disclaimer because I'm not a parent. I don't know the whole story. That seems to be part of the problem. But I don't think it's all of the problem. And at this point, I'm not even sure what the problem is. I miss you. I miss your touch. When we're together and removed from extraneous influences, it's all great. But life isn't constructed like that. The important part is how we both deal with these influences. I thought I made some changes in the face of adversities to help ease the situations. At the same time, I began to feel like the trust was slipping.

You've meant a great deal to me. Beyond words. I try to live my life with no regrets. I'm just sorry it this way. I'm also really sorry for any pain I've caused. Maybe I didn't listen when you were trying to tell me it was time for me to go away. Or maybe I didn't understand that your home-life situation changed dramatically. I had that stupid, hopeful outlook that 'things were going to work out" eventually.

Maybe they will. I don't know. I did, at one time, spell a few things out for my family so that certain events would not be repeated. Too little, too late.

I can't change what has happened, and I can't change what is going on with you. The only thing I can change is myself, and that's what I'm doing, a little bit at a time.
I didn't want us to end up this way, but to be honest, I didn't want us to end.
I hope our friendship endures, but I still hurt right now.

Friday's screenplay

Started like this, a Gemini called me up, "Kramer, I was just thinking about you." So baby, whatcha doin' fer lunch?
It's a long and drawn out story, as she had to pick up a copy of screenplay that had been emailed to her, so she could read for the part on Friday night - apparently she was guaranteed a role. But with this one Gemini female, nothing is ever simple. Come to think of it, is anything ever simple with a Gemini?
The last time we dined together, it was BBQ. Ribs, brisket, sausage. I think I had a slice of white bread, but neither of us bothered with any vegetables. Friday? Mr. Natural - vegetarian. Then we shot by the copy shop to pick up her copy of that script. That, in and of itself, was a comedy of errors, but I leave that story for her to tell.
We settled in with some coffee, at the pool at her place, and she started reading the part. Eventually, the script - screenplay found its way into my hands as I was supposed to read some part. I started at the beginning, it was about 60 pages, in screenplay format, and I started to weigh the wordage.
Scene description, then CHARACTER'S NAME, then a line of dialogue. Or, if it's a long speech, it's set up like poetry, rather judicious with the "white space" on the page. Yes, I know this is standard format, but having never held a working, shooting script before, I didn't realize how little there was.
Camera pulls back, shot of me by the pool, getting up and walking home. Product placement: me stopping at Am,y's to admire the Capricorn's tattoo. And get a small dish of Mexican Vanilla.
I thought about the script and its plot, then the amount of verbiage present on each page, and my how much plot was in that script. Not a lot, but with the right characters, and enough dollars in production, it'll be a movie you'll see in about two years.
Now, jump ahead, sitting around the beer garden at the Gingerman, shooting the breeze with a couple of folks. I offer to escort one young lady back to her bus stop - student and all that - me trying to be a gallant gentleman. The next bus was 20 minutes away so we walked half block up to the Hideout and fetched up some coffee. There was a group on the stoop in front of the Hideout, drinking beer, coffee, smoking cigarettes, and pouring over another script. We caught snippets of the drama. Page versus stage.
While waiting on that bus, I asked what she thought of the screenplay, or play, but I would bet screenplay, that she'd just heard.
"Sounded pretty bad to me. But I don't know...." She is a Scorpio. I'd trust her.
All this came back to me as I started to wander on homeward. As I crossed the bridge, back the sanctity of South Austin, I watched as Orion was climbing up from the east, and Mars was speeding towards the western horizon, just passing a the midpoint of the Tropical Zodiac position of Pisces.
I had a couple of conclusions here, but in deference to the conversations about literature, in that beer garden, I think I'll leave it to audience's imagination. This isn't a movie.
Affiliates & making money

Plugging in a Bass Pro banner, and becoming an affiliate to Bass Pro's online shop fits my humor.

Bass Pro Shops Outdoors Online:  Fishing
What's even better is that the shop itself doesn't fit the site's demographics. Not that I've ever been one to bow to convention, either. I wouldn't be in this business if I did follow convention.
Bass Pro Shops XPS Lazer Eye 5pc Crankbait Kit
Bass Pro Shops XPS Lazer Eye 5pc Crankbait Kit

The only reason those ads are running? This entry was an experiment to see if they would pop up and look right. This is my favorite (right now):

Bass Pro Shops Outdoors Online:  Fishing

But I found humor here:

Bass Pro Shops Outdoors Online:  Reels

None of which address the question of actually making any money with affiliates. I've been linking to Amazon for years now. Buy from a link from this site, and it generates a few pennies. Over the span of a quarter (three months) that adds up to about, well, sales have been slow lately. The last payment from Amazon for linked sales was less than $20. I thought about quitting, but Amazon is easy to link to, plus, at least a few people read about a book or music and find that material elsewhere.
Which is a good idea, in some cases.
Like Powell's, Amazon's referral system is based on the ISBN. In theory, I can pull a book from shelf, just pop the ISBN into the Amazon code, and I've got a link with a referral. Makes it easy.
But back the Bass Pro and affiliates theme.
Original Rat-L-Trap  - CHROMEHOT CHARTREUSERED - 12oz - $4.49
Original Rat-L-Trap - CHROMEHOT CHARTREUSERED - 12oz - $4.49

I got a little carried away when I got home Friday night, a function of coffee and ideas spinning around in my head. I was looking for the perfect set of lures, or collection of tackle, or something to plug in as a banner ad.
Then I got to thinking about it. The way the ad works, their servers serve up the ad. I like that. No load on this end. But the size of the graphics were all wrong, plus I'd have to relocate some of the opening page. Besides, with the pitiful performance of internet advertising these days, plus the fact that most of the folks who hit this site don't really fish, I'm not sure that it would work out too well. I can think of three gentlemen who would actually buy something through these ads. Okay, two. And me. But then, there's the secret lures that I've found, and I'm not about to plug those in as a banner ad here.
I've never been to a Bass Pro shop. I hope to rectify that situation in the immediate future. As much as I like most of these ads? I can't really see me running with any of them as they are all way too complex to justify the amount of time thwacking them into shape. Besides, I never found a good display of the lures that catch fish and make good earrings.

This is awful.

I was speaking with me wee mum on the phone the other afternoon, sorting through the sordid and terrible pain of making arrangements for the holidays.
"Who knows, maybe you'll met a nice girl to keep you warm for the night," she told me, the strong Scorpio implications, almost literally hanging in the air.
"Ah c'mon Mom, I live like a monk," I impatiently explained for the hundredth time.
"More like a monk - eee," was her stinger.
Ya'll stop that. Right now. Quit.

Books & TexMex, trains & turkey

an aside: Deep-fried turkey

Walking past the a grocery store display, with Bubba in tow, there it was. I was setting up for next week, needed to add that.
The planet Pluto has long since left me alone. But I still found myself referencing Jeff Green's two Pluto books, Volume One and Volume Two.
In the opening paragraphs of chapter 11, Jeff Green writes, "We must remember that astrology only correlates to reality, it does not cause it." (Pluto: Volume II. Green, Jeffery Wolf. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1997. Page 379.)
Which goers back to a sticky problem, and the presentation of material, and just what it all means. So there were the two Pluto books, an indispensable book about symbols, another astrology tract, a King James version of the bible, and two pieces of fiction. Plus a computer catalog, a chocolate catalog, and an NYT clipping about Falstaff. It's all about the stuff that litters the coffee tables in life, what one reads, whether it's entertainment or edification. Sometimes, a good, sticky problem? Finding a solution? That's both entertaining and educating.
(Previous entry about noodling.) I was standing in the parking lot, chatting with a passing construction worker (about fishing), and he started to tell me about this thing they did in NW Florida, where he grew up. "Yeah, you see two guys, bare-chested, waist-deep in a lake or creek, one of them goes under, and you think, 'hmmm,' then he pops back up with a catfish. He sticks his whole fist down the throat and grabs it by the gills." We both allowed as how fishing poles work better for us.
I ambled off into the afternoon, nary a cloud in the sky. I'd dropped a copy of my book into my pocket, and I left it with the folks at the new age bookstore. The Gemini placed an order for five more copies.
From there, it was lunch at Maudies, served by a Taurus, a Strait Plate (three meat enchiladas covered with diced onions, chili con carne and topped with two fried eggs). While I was there, a Talking Heads song was playing, on the local radio, the lyrics, David Byrne singing about "This was a Pizza Hut." That Maudies? It was an old Pizza Hut.
I'd cut along the railroad tracks, and long freight train was stopped there. Only reason it gets a mention? See for yourself, I'll use it in the disclaimers soon enough.


An idyll

Wednesday's unsolicited commercial e-mail report: 378 messages, 70 valid ones, half dozen or so snuck through. That's about 18% of the e-mail was meaningful. The filter is working pretty well - on broadband, anyway.

It's one of those weird days when I'm not happy, but then, I'm not unhappy, either. I can easily place the blame for the feelings on the phase of the moon. Or solar flares. Yeah, sure, "ennui."
The last 24 hours or so, I've had an interesting lesson in retail theory, application, and internet marketing. There's an author I want to see next week, while I'm on the Left Coast. He'll be around. It was an after-thought from the discussion the other afternoon, something about Scorpio/Virgo charts.
We exchanged a volley of e-mail, to arrange a time and place to meet. During the process, I had all those niggling feelings of self-doubt, fear and loathing. But I did start to get together a list of questions, too. It's all about archetypes.
My buddy Grace the Leo, in El Paso, joked about this some time ago, about doing a "top ten" list of questions psychics get asked.
When I was looking through my interview list, I found one question that, phrased the way I originally typed it, would deserve to be on that list.
I let everything go for the afternoon, and took off to check the mail box, then grab a cup of coffee and bowl of noodles. Something to warm the spirit. It was nice enough, at the right time, to shed the shirt. Bright enough to require sunglasses. Yeah, it's almost December, here in Texas. I was mulling over my experience as a consumer/customer versus me being the vendor. I haven't even made it out there yet, but what I ran into certainly opened me up some. Gives me a greater understanding of what the process is like "from the other side."
That, in and of itself, was rather rewarding. It's the mechanics of the situation that's been so enlightening for me. I've been booking airline flights, shopping & selling on eBay, and - of course - selling astrology reports online for close to decade. Arranging a meeting like this was different. Before it ever happens - it can be a complete failure - I've already learned a great deal about the "process."
So that's what it feels like.
unrelated but...

A friend, in concert with the El Paso (something film or film something), forwarded yet another BBC crew to me, for some local Texas color. And for about the third time, I didn't actually meet with the folks. One of my neighbors was supposed to "hook me up, "too. Never happened. Never happened, twice. In fact, as I understand it, I'm not sure that these are real BBC characters, but just independent crews working on something for - something British - I would hazard a guess. Still, lovely to hear that accent on the phone, even if we didn't get my 15 seconds of tape.
Still unrelated, but...

"Fear & Loathing." Love the phrase, love the book.
and furthermore....

Days when I don't actually set words down on a blank document always feel lost. Blame the phase of the moon. But I did get some administrative tasks finished.

Phone & Fishing

One of my Gemini clients called. That not unusual, she'll call up to six times a day. Or, I won't hear from her for six weeks. Doesn't much matter. Gemini, you know how they are.
I pocketed the handset, stuck the earpiece in my ear, grabbed a pole and headed towards the lake. I was on the shores of the river, talking to a client - not about business, just about "stuff" - and fishing at the same time.
I explained that on the phone. It's matter of setting the pieces up, and letting them all fall into place.
"Man, you've got the life!" that Gemini gushed.
Sure, all I need is a couple of more Zara Spooks to throw in the river.
All I need is more competition. A Scorpio guy called me up, asked about getting together to chat about the astrology business. Claimed he didn't want to tread on me at all, "Just want to pick your brain."
I stopped at Amy's and got a big Mexican Vanilla, then motored across the street to meet the lad at Jo's. Ordered up a double espresso and promptly poured that over the ice cream. We sat and talked about what it all means. What works, what doesn't work, what's good, what's not.
I was more than a little apprehensive at first, worried that I'd be giving away trade secrets. Fact is, most of my trade secrets are buried right here in the journal. Some people do their best thinking on the toilet. I tend to think best when I'm letting my fingers type my thoughts.
Besides, there's something nice about going through all the old history and reliving it, the mistakes, the foibles, the wins and losses.
He'd talked, or so he allowed, with several other astrologers here in town. He allowed as how even the big-money names had said there wasn't much to be made in this racket. He wondered how I did it, as my sole form of support.
It's about loving what I do. I pointed out the number of free sites for astrology, "3600, and counting," he said. I asked how many were only sporadically updated, if updated at all. Something to be said for consistently serving up horoscopes, for almost a decade now. Uniformity might be a little uneven, but it's been here, ever week, week and week out, for how long? Plus archives? With mistakes and all?
Guy's a Scorpio male. I was instantly at ease. Don't cross him, and he'll do like he says, and he won't cross me.
"Hey, you're not, like expecting me to pay for this, are you?" he asked.
No, he asked to talk about the business, not his chart interpretation. Or predictions. Plus, there's a void for a good monthly column, one that I'm not about to fill anytime soon, and I did urge him to do that. Apparently, he's done that a time or two. Found out that most folks just want horoscopes for free.
He's got what it takes, I glanced through his chart, at my request, and now, afterwards, I forgot the clue. One of the guys I respect the most in this business? Same deal, Scorpio Sun with a Virgo emphasis. Cool.
Of course, I could be all wrong, and this guy might turn around and take slice out of my business. But I doubt it.
"Yeah, I believe in the 'abundance rule.' Here, accept some money for your time."
He handed me a $20. Between that ice cream, the espresso, and a coffee for the road home, that about covered the costs for the afternoon. Works for me. At least he understands the rules.
"Yeah, I believe in the 'abundance rule.' Here, accept some money for your time."
He handed me a $20. Between that ice cream, the espresso, and a coffee for the road home, that about covered the costs for the afternoon. Works for me. At least he understands the rules.


Traditional chum. Then there's what I do, from time to time, toss a lure in the lake and not have the lure come back.
I was standing on the shore, between the morning drizzle and the afternoon showers, and one of those Zara Spooks didn't come back. I got over it quickly. Chum.
I was corresponding with Sister about Tofu Turkey and the People Collective Coop of Northern California (not to be confused with fascist Republican LA). Since I'll be there on black Friday, I asked if there was a Bass Pro shop in the Bay Area.
> Kramer, what's a bass pro shop?
It's a shop where they sell fishing gear. She thought I was starting to play an instrument. As if.

Weather report

It's raining. It started some time last night. There's a cold, icy finger from the north, and on a weather map, it points right to Austin. That cold finger of high-pressure air, arctic in temperature, pushes down towards the shoulder of the hill country, and here, it meets with warm, winds gently puffing up from the coast. Usually, such conditions make for big thunderstorms as two very different sets of conditions meet each other. This time, it was just a slow rain. At times, not much more than really heavy fog, something that feels like a really heavy dew. Other times, it's sprinkling. It's rain, just not the torrential type, more like slow tears, falling down.
Times being what they are

I have a long-standing pact with myself, "No fishing in Town Lake." For obvious reasons, I would hope.
I was looking at a blank word processor page. The cat was sound asleep on the couch. Saturday afternoon, I'd just picked up a couple of clear lures, a spook and a torpedo. So I broke my own rules, and I was casting from the bank, in the drizzle, Sunday morning. Wasn't there long, just a couple of experimental tosses with the clear lure. The little torpedo's propeller makes such a satisfying wake as it drags and twirls through the water. I was barefoot, shirtless, and just idling tossing a lure into the lake, something calm about that. One of the sleek rowers went by, stroking her craft. Texas flag oars. Huh. Do other states fly their flags as a logo, in so many places? I'm sure there's a branding and PR question here. I'm not sure I even know what the State of Connecticut is shaped like, although, I suspect it's pretty square looking. Mississippi is shaped like a delta, I think. And Louisiana? It's odd, but that place is like a different country. Damn fine cuisine, too. Big delta fan at its bottom.
Fishing buddy was joking the other afternoon, about a bait I was throwing, "A lovely Senko Watermelon worm, marinated in anise, then sautéed with garlic, and presented with a delicate Crawfish spray, garnished with a sprinkle of Sea Salt...." Makes me wonder.
Brisket at the party was amazing. Too many signs to remember. Just about everyone was there, at one point. There were five fully November Sagittarius, including the dog. He gets equal billing in that household. Not that it's bad, just the way it is. Lovely celebration, but a bit odd as the dog was not use to blowing out the candles.
Think I'll go fishing again this morning. Might try the Spook this time. Which reminds me about a funny editorial problem with the name of that lure, the Zara Spook. Back when I was edited for AOL, one copy editor couldn't find any reference to the term, "Zara Spook." Much hilarity ensued as I tried to explain it wasn't some made-up name I just invented, but an actual type of lure. Why I have such problems with copy editors.


Osprey brisket

60 knots at 60 degrees is bloody cold in shorts. It rained, ever so lightly. I forgot (see bio) how rain feels at 60 knots or so.
Wasn't much of a day for catching fish, but it was an excellent day for fishing. There was something, "Yeah, Zen-like, huh?" being in a boat, speeding upriver in the pre-dawn gloom. As we passed through the lake's various neighborhoods, at one point, I caught a whiff of sage on the breeze.
"The Osprey" had "scouted" the lake a few weeks earlier. He had a notion that this one grass shelf, right where it fell off into the channel, was the place to be.
I should point out that it did, indeed, work for him. That boy ain't called "the Osprey" for nothing.
Stopped off at the Hula Hut for post-fishing repast, served up by a Scorpio. Just something about those Scorpio eyes....
"Yeah, the way she rolls them when you ask her birthday."
And then, by the time the boat was stored, and I was home, I was so tired, I didn't get a chance to shed the lake-damp clothing, just fell into bed for one of those hard, two-hour long naps. Woke up to a pre-game fly-by, couple of jets, down on the deck for the pre-game show, I'm guessing. At least these didn't set off any car alarms here.
Almost forgot, had to look at the title to remember, birthday party today - me, Devota's dad, Amy, Harmony... Rachel (in absentia)...
Legendary Osprey smoked brisket - should be good.
Unrelated, from the inbound mail:
Recent subscriber:

> oh its cool, I figured it out...that's neat, I get the links also.
(why it's cool)
Regular e-mail:

> Let me be, I'm sure, the hundreth person today to tell

> you how wonderful you are.
(no ,but it's appreciated)
Feedback from a reading:

> Astrology and a good interpreter is like holding up

> a mirror and taking a frank calming look at the whole picture and seeing it

> is not as bad as one might imagine.
(Scorpio, no less. Who says I don't like Scorpio's?)


I've berated, cajoled and otherwise coached Bubba Sean to limit his use of that expression. A comedic entry does not always just consist of a statement and, "WTF?"
Got a call around noon, "Hey. Whatcha doing tomorrow?"
Only serious plan I had was to go and possibly watch a movie at the Alamo, in the afternoon. Not much of a plan, if you ask me. Spaghetti and a Spaghetti Western.
"Want to fish?"
Sure. Usual time? 5:00 AM?
"Make it 5:30."
Over and done in less than 30 seconds.
The patriarchy is doomed, but I'm no feminist, and in the meantime, it's nice to be guy some days.
Shift schedules around, go to bed really early Friday night. I loped down the trail to the post office - nothing of note, skipped an afternoon coffee, and had a little pizza and a salad at Romeo's, around the corner. Gemini. Then, a Gemini on the phone. Cancer Moon for the afternoon, then, Leo Moon for fishing.
I'm not sure, but I have sneaking suspicion that I'm headed into the lake, Sun's in Scorpio, Mars opposite Jupiter. It could happen.

Two fer Thursday

1. Dry spell 2. More on management
2. More on management

"We will serve no horoscope before its time."
I suppose, Wednesday night was just typical. I was waiting on the scopes to roll over, and I started to check the upcoming column. Typographical errors, just about everywhere. In each sign. I wondered who signed off on this, but I'm the only one who works around here. I did. What was I thinking about when I was proofreading this - for the third time?
I started with the corrections, a little at a time. Worked my way through, and then I looked at some e-mail, then, I was working on an upcoming scope, and I had to finish that, too. I'm usually a little more organized about this, but I'm rushing to beat the next Mercury deadline just so this doesn't happen. Perhaps I'm a creature of habit, but there are just certain ways I handle the particular nuts and bolts of production. In as much as I'd love to be outlining next year's framework, I'm not able to do that yet. Superstition.
Or creature of habit?
Doesn't much matter, when I logged on to look at the scopes, after catching far too many grammatical, typographical and spelling errors, the new scopes weren’t rolling over. Software screwed up? I'd just spent several hours trouble-shooting the password system, and what it amounts to, 20 or 30 subscriptions are going to expire ahead of schedule, and I'll have to manually add them again. Part of the hosting swap. And the reason the scopes were six minutes late? A bad date error from over a year ago. The deal is, I don't always have to baby-sit the scopes rolling over, but I just had a "feeling" that it was a good time to do just that.
Glad I did.
Built in redundancy doesn't always account for some mistakes.
"Make it 'idiot proof' and they'll build a better idiot."
The good news it looks like the rest of the year and part of January is already in place. If I can just finish typing.
What was I wasting my time on? New toys: chart of the moment and do your own chart. Don't know how long that'll be up, but it was worth a try. (Gratuitous promotional hint: do your own chart then look up the Sun, Moon and Rising Sign definitions, linked from the front page.)
1. Dry spell

It was well into the afternoon before I got around to getting out. I was still struggling to put nice words into a horoscope. Trying to fill in the blanks. It's that dry spell. It's hardly a block, as there is a number of projects I'd rather be working on, but I am on a mission.
I laced up my ropers because I figured I'd be gone for a while, what with getting such a late start. One stop had the rather bizarre (to me) menu item: "Try a Leveler." Guinness, Espresso, Chocolate. I'm not nearly that daring.
The dry spell hits just about every year and just about this time. I'll be really hot and heavy to finish up the scopes for the year, and the final one or two scopes, they just don't happen, it doesn't flow. Sun's in Scorpio - in solar, sun-sign astrology, that puts it in the 12th House. That could easily be a part of the problem. Or, it could be the weather. Too cold to wear shorts, too warm to wear pants, the sole consolation is that it's decent coffee weather.
Even if I'm not brave - or foolish - enough to try a Leveler.

Will Work For Food

Careful what you ask the almighty universe for, it just mind land in your pocket. For years, I've threatened to get a real "Will work for food" sign. I diddled some up in a graphics program; I think I still have that template.
Wednesday afternoon, almost evening, I finally got tired of waiting on one client's call. Scheduled for 11 AM, moved to 12, then 1 then 2 then 3 and by 5:30 PM, I wasn't waiting anymore. I rambled by the post office, stopped off and had a Libra lad do me a small shot of espresso, then poked by the Vietnamese place for a noodle bowl.
Somewhere, on a park bench, I found a piece of folded cardboard. I recognized the general shape and structure, wondered if it was a real "work for food" sign.

Close enough. Better, even.
First off, it fit in the cargo pocket of the shorts I was wearing. I took it as a sign. So I carried it home to Shady Acres, and took a picture of it. I was going to manipulate it further, maybe turn it into a graphic button, but these days, I'm all out of energy for doing such things.
The other item I did carry home, rode in my mind. I'd seen something, a delightful scenario. Perfect for explaining what Mercury Retrograde might be like. Perfect for what might be headed this way.
Management notes

Got one more problem sorted out. Just means another one crops up. Plus I've not met with any success in a search for mailing list. Of course, the requirements are pretty steep, too.
I'm on one list, and the bulk of the message, no matter how important the message itself is, the bulk of the message is advertising. That's the price of a free mail list server. I find it annoying.
When I was running my list, I was very careful not to have too many adverts. I'd plug my self, either at the beginning, or at the end, or not at all. So I'm still looking and hoping someone has a list set up on their server that can be used.
Its interesting to note, I've got several unlisted e-mail addresses, and while UCE has found its way onto most of those, none of the UCE can be traced back to my old list. So I can firmly suggest that the crap you get ain't coming from here. Or there, as it was an older host, no longer in use.
Other notes, too.

Last weekend, I picked up a flyer and price list for another astrologer, a person working out of San Antonio. The flyer was out on the coffee table when Bubba Sean (his motto: "you can't say Bubba Sean without saying BS.") popped by for a quick chat. "New price list?" Nope, just someone else.
"Natal chart report, 20-30 pages, $60"
I was going to go on and list the other reports, but judging by the listing - I don't know, I never had a chance to ask - it all looks like the very same material that's produced by the #1 astrology software source. Reports that all look the same. Same titles, same page length, looks like the same report descriptions, too. I'm figuring about 90% of the astrology reports bought, sold and circulated are generated by that one program.
My natal report is a bit different because I have a wry sense of humor, the typographical mistakes are all mine, and I've added copious amounts of personal research material.
I could be all wrong, too, and each of those reports could be hand-written. And at that price? It's a good deal. But I doubt that the reports are actually hand-written, not at that price, not at the "20-30" pages point.
So I thought about adding a printed version of my reports. For a natal chart report, I'd have to tack on, say, about $15 or $20 to cover paper, toner, and postage. The nice part is that would significantly add to the top-line for sales. The disadvantage is that it wouldn't add to the bottom-line for "income minus time, effort, and cost of material."
Then there are readings. Just like what I do. Using similar tools (charts). $75/hour. I charge $65 for a scheduled half-hour reading. But I run long. I use a 45-minute tape for half-hour readings.
Another point, looks like I'm lagging behind in technology, "Readings on audio CD or cassette, $15."
Oh, I've got a CD burner. I've got stack of blank CD's. I just haven't ever bothered to figure out how to hook the phone recorder to the computer. Personally, I think a CD is better than a cassette; I just haven't done it yet.
Most of the real readers I've encountered charge between $200 to $600 or more per session, usually by the hour.
I remember an old commercial, "sometimes a little cheaper, sometimes a little more, but always the same quality." If you don't like the scopes, you don't belong here. But if you do like the scopes, of course, then you're in the right place.
I'm not going to add printed up versions of reports. Too much trouble. And one day, I'll be burning a CD recording of the phone readings. But not this week.
Plus there's that one other angle, my material? It's not like anyone else can duplicate it. I tend to wrap a little Hindu (Vedic) astrology in with a smattering of Meso-American (Mayan, Aztec & Anasazi) astrology, just to make sure I've got everything covered. I package it all under Western Astrology, but you know, it all works.

Two meat Tuesday - 11/11

A new, personal record: 11-11-2004: I was in Barton Springs for a dip. It was that warm. Felt sort of weird because the water didn't feel like, that cold. I almost felt like doing laps. Almost.
I was working on upcoming scopes. Mercury will be RX in December. In the long list of dates, the templates I employ to keep track of the dates - it's a pretty complicated process - charts, dates, software - I'd missed a week. The first double check, of course, turned up the missing week, but it just goes to show what next month is going to be like.
Have no fear! Scopes roll over on time. Have been, will continue to do so!
Stopped off for a Two Meat Tuesday special. Saw a dear Gemini friend. That's two Gemini's on two-meat-Tuesday? Coincidence? I think so. Just felt a little odd to be sitting in a BBQ place, dripping creek water, near the middle of November.
I noticed, in the paper's filler, a mention of that opera. Yes, well, in some cases? Texas is way behind the rest of the world. In some ways? Way ahead.
Damn password and permissions. Got a note from one then, when I started to examine the problem, I found out that the password system is only working half-way. Three quarters, really. Money comes in, passwords work, but there's just this one little part that ain't working....
While I never did straighten out the password problem, I did get a couple of other maintenance chores looked after, cleaned up the sidebar adverts, and tweaked the current scope page down to 6K in size, and less than 4 seconds load time on 28.8 dialup. And I added a quick note as to whatever it is that I'm currently reading. It's a big book, I'll be at this one for a while.
Which got me to thinking about whatever it is that I'm reading? That influences what I write. Or how I write. Like, particularly clever authors, good word smiths? I immitate and emulate style. Or try big words. When it's something a little more light and action oriented? Same deal. All about the flavor. Like those pork ribs.

Oh Magic numbers?

11-11-2004? Nope, just don't see the magic. But happy birthday to that one Scorpio, I suppose.
Me? I slept way too much on Monday. The fall out from the full moon does that. I was supposed to hike in the middle of the afternoon with a certain Capricorn, but she bailed on me. She was muttering something about making money, having to tend to clients on her day off.
So I finally rousted myself out of the trailer and up to the post office. Bad news, the book's publisher requested a tax ID number for a 1099 form. Means the book has generated enough income to hit the IRS radar. (I should note, I declare all my income, anyway, and pay taxes accordingly, so it's not really that bad of news.)
Picked up a double shot of espresso at Jo's and wandered across the street to get a small shovel-full of Mexican Vanilla in the espresso. Picked up some laundry, too, and wandered home for a "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a phone reading today" call.
Dang it if she never called. She called at the appointed time and begged for a little more time as she had a pressing problem (I think it was offspring).
Which was all just as well, as I had a few items I'd been meaning to attend to, and I got around to checking out why a certain piece of software wasn't churning out results like it was supposed to. Hope that's fixed.
I left the Jo's cup sitting on the desk long after I'd consumed the contents. There was a smell, a sweet liqueur aroma, coming from the cup. The way the shards of coffee beans and the left over Mexican Vanilla froth, just smelled so intoxicating.


"If you really love me, you'd wallow." (Aries)
"The ubiquitous fine print! I'll buy the book just for that!" (Gemini)
"Check it out, dude, look at NitroFish. I want that hat." (Virgo)
"I went to two parties in the last week. One in South Austin, they were all wearing cowboy boots, played in the band, that sort of thing. North Austin - all old hippies who were businessmen now." (Scorpio)
Just unrelated material gathered over the course of a day. Busy day, too, although, not everyone was busy. I was slow and steady. In a way, it's weird, last show of the season. No more live gigs until January, 2004.
Weird coincidences, a couple of things I noted, after looking at so may charts, 12/30/03 - Uranus goes back into Pisces for an extended duration. Then, 1/2/04 - Jupiter starts his annual backward migration, all the way back through Virgo.
Oh yeah, Mercury will be, indeed, retrograde during the xmas break. Oh yes, that's always fun for the new year.
I'm not sure I can keep up a grueling road schedule these days. Wears me out. Not enough time to write. And it's pretty obvious, I would like more time to write. The difference between a marginally successful weekend and real winner? Probably the half-dozen copies of the book I sold.
It was funny, too, to me, and this is one I remember clearly, a client buying the book, "But you're in a committed and stable relationship - you don't need this book," I admonished. "Oh no, I work in office full of women all getting divorces," was the reply.
From the "good old days," I recall it was bad luck to discuss a book that was "under construction," that is, it's bad luck to talk about something that ain't written yet. But is it bad luck to write about in a web journal?
Unrelated closing:



Later this month, it will mark ten years of this kind of work. Already been more than ten years that I've been on the road. But my first laptop was ten years ago. Ten years. A whole decade I've been lugging an Apple PowerBook back and forth across the country-side, making charts, doing readings, and writing.
"So I checked your site, I didn't see anything about the Harmonic Convergence."
Because there wasn't anything? Did you feel it? Last Scorpio eclipse for a week or two? Well, really, I think the next Scorpio eclipse is in late October, '04. There's a companion eclipse, if I recall, in May '04. Stay tuned for details.
It was cloudy, gray, rainy, and not much good to be indoors. I would say that the fair sucked, but it really wasn't too bad. One of the vendors (Sagittarius) is a book merchant, and she picked up a couple of copies of the book. And I had a handful of books on the table, sold most of those. Those book sales make all the difference.
At one table, to my left, were two Pisces. At the other table, to my right, were two Scorpio's. What are the odds?
The eclipse was fully un-view-able. Bummer. The companionship, well, it just goes to show what it's like with having been around this circle for so long. Good to be around friends.
The Texas something or other State something or other Book Festival was in town. With luminaries like future State Governor Kinky Friedman (Scorpio) and Joe Bob Briggs (Aquarius) in attendance, it's no wonder our sales were slow. Peddling a few books really helped my bottom line for the day.
Since I've been trailing around this circuit for more than a decade now, I can explain that the November events are usually pretty slow for readers and pretty good for vendors.
Embarrassing moment #1: something the second Scorpio said to me. "Why look, see, it's the arthritis in my hips, what did you expect? Look: Kramer's speechless."
Embarrassing moment #2: Pisces #2, "Hey, my boyfriend is out of town, why don't I just give you a ride home?" "That's okay, I'll just walk from here, I need a little leg stretch," I replied. My Virgo buddy pointed out that I was just embarrassed to be seen in a trailer park, arriving in a sports car that cost more than any two of the trailers.
No, I just wanted to stop at the bank and drop off some checks.

This is news?
Quizzes & logos.

Which Shakespeare Play are You?" These quizzes are so bad.
I wanted to be a Byronic character. I was going to get this on a business card, too, "Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know." Of course Shakespeare never called them "Byronic" characters. But the sense, the dangerous ones, yes, a few characters fit the description. Too bad that quiz didn't have any of the ones I'd choose. But Halloween/Valentine's Day is past.
I was still talking to tech support. Someone has a good sense of humor, the lyrical strain while I was on hold? "I've got too much time on my hands..."
Unrelated thoughts:

If there's a special place in hell for spammers, shouldn't there also be a special place in hell for people who respond to spam advertising?
Also unrelated:

I was working on finishing up some scopes, and I realized that precious few readers appreciate the amount of time that can go into a weekly column. "Feeling unloved?" Yeah, matter of fact. Tired of folks who don't want to pay for what they read - expecting it for free. 12 hours on Thursday and another 3 or 4 on Friday afternoon. Then, when that scope comes up, it still has to be proofread and then it gets popped into a web format, where it gets proofed again.
Not unrelated: web graphics & Warhol:

Foul-tempered Bubba Sean and myself worked our way over to the Warhol exhibit at Austin Museum of Art. Typically, there's always one or two pieces that get all my attention and that really speak to me. Or move me. Or just turn me on because I have an "art" experience. Or whatever. The "art" experience came from looking at pictures of soup cans, done up as art. Advertising & marketing infects so much of what is around today. My cupboard has a whole shelf devoted to Campbell's Soup cans, part in stock for the flavor, part for long winter nights, and in part, because of that fool "pop art" - marketing infects everything.
The other images I really enjoyed were the camouflage prints. I need shirts made from that material.
Which lead to me messing around with an idea. How about a web page with no graphics? Just the opposite of something that's all flashing lights and pictures, and little wiggly bits? Just a minimalist approach? No branding and no logo?
I think it's been done, but after an early dinner, I tried to knock together a "no logo" sign:

Which, after some tweaking, and my sense of humor, I mean, you try hanging around Bubba Sean for a few hours in an art museum, see what happens to your brain, and I came up with this:

Wherein the slash bar becomes a Sagittarius glyph. And thereby, it becomes a logo. But I'm aiming for a "logo free" site now.
Which gets into a couple of problems, because part of the deal for less expensive web host, means I'm running an ad for the hosting company. Small, but there you have it. Then, too, I picked up that Shakespeare's Globe (dot org) thing, and that's a logo. But it's basically a logo free site, now.
There are a couple of exceptions. The "xenon" page had several small buttons/banners. Plus, at the present time, I'm inexhaustibly linked to the "Marfa Mystery Lights" roadside sign. Don't exactly know why, just the way it is. Except for the copy of pMachine that handles the backend chores for the web journal itself. I paid for a single, non-commercial license, so this is a non-commercial venture. Part of the deal is to run a button with a link. I do.
So I'm thinking to make the site as "logo free" as possible.

Harmonica Convergence

I heard that there was Harmonica Concordance going on. Imagine that, a hundred, neigh, even thousands of harmonica players in one place....
"Harmonic Convergence, astro-boy."
Oh, never mind.
More harmonica convergence, a hidden track. I had that ZZ Top new CD in the changer, and at the end of the album, up comes "As Time Goes By," yes, the song from Casablanca. I was going to reference the song, and then, when I looked at the tracks from the album, the stuff I'd ripped, I noticed that the last track was extra long, and there was no listing for the song. Cute bonus, and just more of that harmonica convergence. Music, get it?
Oh never mind.
Off to work Saturday and Sunday.
Opera notes:

"What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fucking fucking fuck"

(Jerry Springer: the Opera, Act II, chorus) I'm hoping that's out on CD by Xmas time.
Code snippets:

When I was digging around in the backend of the website, I stumbled across a couple of really old fragments of text. Someplace, buried in here, there are still snippets of ascii that date back to 1993. Pretty amazing.

It was a cold and gray day, and I kept putting off going out just because I was trying to hammer out a another set of scopes. I got exactly half-way through. That's 12 hours or more, that I spent, basically attached to the keyboard, and nothing was working quite right. The flow wasn't flowing. I kept pouring coffee into the tiny cup, sipping, but it just wasn't happening. I had a late afternoon evening, and afterwards, I really needed to get out. I didn't exactly bundle up, but I strolled over to Sandy's for dinner. Feels like the first real cold snap of the season. Early November, that's about right for Boat Drinks.
"I want to go where it's warm!"

The scholar

My head hit the pillow, my brain was still swirling with images from the recent backend overhaul, and as I drifted off to sleep, a weird question popped into my head, "What ever happened to the The Scholar?"
It's been seven years now, maybe longer. It started as a joke, like all good things in my life, it was meant as a bit of whimsy. I'd been corresponding with a lad, a student, someplace in the way frozen north. He was a Leo. He probably still is a Leo.
I recall, and I'm sure some place I still have the old e-mails, exchanges about life's triumphs, getting that undergraduate degree, getting into a graduate school, personal tragedy, personal triumph, and finally, if I recall, marriage. Then the e-mail exchanges stopped. I don't recall much else. I do remember the essence of the mails, chatty, informative, the up and the down of daily life, the ebb and the flow.
What struck me, what I remembered was that sense of loss as he shared details about a traumatic experience, a rather heart-felt situation. Then I recall running a certain female's birthday past me, and the requisite invitation to be present at the church service.
Deal was, the guy was getting, at the time, a degree in Classical Studies. He recommended a classical author to me: Martial, noted for his Epigrams.
(Martial Epigrams, Volume I, Volume II, Volume III)
I looked through one slim volume of epigrams, Latin on one side, the vulgar translation on the other side, and I found a couple of quips I just had to have. Bought the book. Over the years, I've collected the other two volumes. I was thinking about them, and thinking about the Latin inscription I use these days, the "Fishing Guide to the Stars Motto," and then, I thought back to the Scholar who helped translate that the first time. It's a bit arcane, the grammar is a little iffy, but we had so much fun working on it that first time, I've used it ever since.
"Laeti edimus qui nos subigant!"
Since my mental memory isn't always to be trusted, I ran it through another translation service before using that quote again. What's cool, when I was doing the shift, bringing old files over to the new server, I found a 1995 document with that quote as part of the signature file.
But the Scholar, I'm not sure what ever happened to him. Undergraduate, graduate, marriage, teaching, and the trail grows cold.
I never met him. It was strictly a series of correspondence. There's just a little residual guilt, too, as there was one situation wherein I never felt that I lived up to my obligations as soothsayer to express my concern and compassion for his loss at the moment. Deal is, I don't channel dead people, so I couldn't be of much assistance.
The wind changed directions Thursday night. It's not a strong one, while I was debating with myself about swimming in the creek, thinking it might be the last opportunity for a spell, the temperatures have dropped. Exports from the frozen north, where, I'll assume, the Scholar still is. Probably teaching Latin. Or Classical Studies.
I know the guy's first name, or his nickname, anyway, and other than that? Unless I want to dig through years and years of archives, I'm not going to remember much else.
So as I was falling asleep, I was trying to imagine what happened. Never having met the lad, I can't really judge what he looks like, either. Scholarly, with that activity associated with youth? But he's not young anymore. I'd imagine dark hair, but again, I'm not sure. Fair complexion. But that's a guess. Judging by the girlfriend/wife's chart, he must be pretty good-looking, in a rugged, northern way. But tit's all a guess. Or strict imagination.
I picked Latin back up as result of that interaction. Plus I discovered a ribald and bawdy author, again, as a result of that interaction. I wonder whatever happened.

Hot damn!

It's working! Unrelated design note: the new front index page contains less than 10% advertising. That means more than 90% of what is on the screen is not commercial crap. Some folks find my horoscopes to be crap, but, at least, it's not trying to sell something. In fact, of that less 10% ad space, most near a quarter of it is dedicated to a not-for-profit cause. A virtual PSA.
I could tell, from the e-mail, the DNS (Domain Name Server - the guy who directs electronic traffic) was pointing to the new server as of 11 AM on Wednesday morning. I'm sure a few web browsers will still be reading incorrectly, but it's all up and working now. The notice said it can take up 72 hours for everything to update. My experience with this one company, though, takes about 12 hours. They're good and fast. My biggest complaint with their Tech Support? They kept calling me "sir," like, "Yes sir, we're working on it," or, "no sir, that's not available to me, but I'll flag it up to the System Administrator right now."
I got in from a short walk, just enough to stretch my legs before an evening session. What was really sweet, a company that owes me money? Promised that a check was in the mail? It was.
Considering the sum, I figured it merited a triple-tall Latte. Made by a Capricorn, too. Which, as far as I'm concerned, breaks the chain. The last four or five baristas at that one place? All claimed to be Gemini.
Then, right before the reading call, I get another call from that sweet Pisces, just chillin' and shootin' the breeze. She was on the line when the new site came fully online. Less than 24 hours. Did nothing for her, but the fish is on the cow, now. Yee-something-haw.
Oh yeah, the host company, the machine this is on? It's in New Mexico. Scopes now roll over at Midnight, Mountain Time. Or, 1:00 AM Central, Thursday morning.

Reason #920 for having an online journal:

I'm anticipating this one, but here's going to be the canned reply. I needed to write this up ahead of time, just so I could copy and paste as need be.
"Dear (insert sign & e-mail here),
"Thanks for taking the time to write in. In the changing economic times, I switched to a different hosting company as the virtual home for astrofish.net. It costs less. If I had one dollar for everyone on the mailing list, I wouldn't have to do this but times are tough. Other websites I've designed and administered through this hosting company have been rock solid.
"One of the deals though, is I lose a few features. One of them is the mailing list. No mailing list management services, no "listserv" software. So, until I find viable way of dealing with this, I'm suspending the free e-mail delivery.
"The new scopes roll over into the subscription area at 1:00 AM, every (Central Time) Thursday morning. As an added bonus, the complete e-text (PDF file) of the current back-listed romance guide is currently available through the subscription side, as well.
"The last time I talked to a banker, 'good wishes' and 'blessings' really didn't help pay any bills. Bank wouldn't take that as a deposit. While I love the attention and the thoughts, it still doesn't pay for the time and energy involved, not to mention, the capital expenditure.
"If you'd like to help, but don't want to send money, write to your local 'alt-weekly' newspaper. Publishes every Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Get my column in placed there. That would help a lot. Once you've started the process, have their people get in touch with my people and they'll do lunch to hammer out the details. Details include a lifetime pass to the scopes, if someone really picks up the column from your efforts.
"Thanks for taking the time write in."
Now, you know what I'm not going to miss at all? The frustration, every time I post something to either of the mailing lists I just shut down? Bounces. Bounces, snide comments, and irrelevant replies.
Last week, per the Capricorn scope, there were some nice notes back about Cool Hand Luke, but a couple of nice notes from Capricorn's doesn't offset the time spent pruning a mailing list - each week.
The mailing list takes up several hours in a week, and these days, that list doesn't provide much in the way of succor. "Sucks" and "succor" are two different critters. Sound about the same, but they're different. So until I find an easier way to do this....

I've done this before

Dead sites.
In the past week, I've gotten a half-dozen notes asking about site updates. "How come last week's scopes are up in the free section, shouldn't that be updated?" Or, better yet, "This is the one week when I really need the updated scopes, where are they?"
That's all in the subscription section. Sure, I hated to do it, but until someone offers to pay for everything, plus put me on a fat salary, I'm scraping the bottom of the internet to get by.
Instead of complaining, or having to read about me complaining about complainers, offer some suggestions. Better yet, offer money. Lots of money. Donations are always encouraged.
When I got in, Tuesday evening, I started poking around on the web, and I stumbled across an article about starting a business. Right at the top of the article, it suggests to start with a "business plan."
When I embarked on this endeavor, years ago, the only part of "the plan" that I recall was, "Total World Domination." And that part was a joke, but I knew enough about setting goals, that it was goal I wanted. Just take over the world. Probably fail, but who cares?
In my astrology chart, there's a certain signature - oddly enough, it's one I share with Pa Wetzel - we both have it - and that astrological signature suggests that a a nap is in order.
I had a long reading in the afternoon, a Scorpio's birthday, no exactly exhausting, but when it was all said and done, I was sort of beat. Gripping a cup of Jo's coffee, tall, dark, lovely, I meandered home in the twilight, laid my head upon the pillow and slept for hour. Woke up, tried something I hadn't tried yet, and the light green light came on. New server, up and running like a little top.
It's all a "go" now. Changed out that DNS entry, and now all we have to do is wait.
I'm cutting corners and cutting costs, but this place can't stay alive with out support. Like free horoscopes? If that information, the timely arrival of a scope? If that's so important, then I'd suggested subscribing. Otherwise, this could end up a dead site, too, like so many others.

Target date

I was hoping, since I missed one date, to make the big switch by Monday. Here it is, on Tuesday, and I'm still sorting out problems. As an example, I moved Greg's web log from my server, Greg, did the cover at for the book? Yeah, that guy.
Anyway, I moved his stuff over to his own URL, WWW.INTRAMATRIX.NET, and I got 90% of the job done in less than an hour. From the confirmation e-mail to the site, up and running, about 45 minutes. Web log, journal software and all, done deal.
Then, just one more tweak, and it would be all good to go. Just import the existing entries into a database for the new site host.
Sounds like familiar problem. So I spent the next few hours, messing around with arcane commands, trying to get the magic to work.
However, I didn't resort to calling tech support, and I didn't read all the documentation, either. Never give in. Never read the instructions, and most important? Never read the "READ ME" file. Never.
I got it all to work. User error. Nothing a little nap and pizza can't cure.
Onto my own problems, I started bright and early Monday morning, working through my database deal - again.
For future reference, the command is user name then password thingy then database name then carrot-top arrow key thingy and then the new name. Plus directory information.
Got half of it done before I opted out for sushi and a bookstore for some light reading material.
Trailer parks in Texas are an interesting place to wind up at the end of the night. The Pisces neighbor was sitting outside his trailer, strumming a guitar, drinking a beer with a buddy, and just enjoying a balmy night. Stopped for chat which led to an interesting discussion about oil, politics, and the Middle East, current political affiliations, and so forth.
One of the Pisces buddy's - an Aquarius - is not from around here. Raised, at some point, according to the late night drunken conversation, in the Middle East. Which segued into a political discussion about oil and money.
Last thing I remember hearing before I returned to the keyboard? Strains of C&W's greatest song. That Pisces neighbor, he's like, an engineer or something. I'm not sure about the rest of the crew. Aquarius, maybe?

So how was Roswell?

"Dude, how did you know I was in Roswell?" Hint: I read the web log. Why would I be interested in Roswell, NM? A defunct TV series? Space Aliens? Yo, that's where I graduated High School - Old School for this kid.
Oh never mind. It was funny at the time. Like me listening to Rap music. "Yeaux, yeaux, yeaux, check it out check it out check it out - pick it up pick it up pick it up" See? I can rap.
Oh never mind. Inside joke from the writers at the Sunday journal meeting/happy hour thing.
I'm deeply indebted to that Sagittarius girl for one of her off-the-cuff comments the other evening. Got me to thinking about a design problem, and a solution.
The standing joke is about Netscape 4.7 and all the web pages that no longer support that - and older - browser software. Problem being, I've got a couple paying customers on older software. Hate to lose folks who help offset the cost of running a web page.
I lifted a couple of lines of code, modified the material a little, tucked it away in hidden place, then, like magic, older browsers go to an out-of-date page whereas modern, up-to-date browsers stay right where they're supposed to stay, no problems. At least, none in theory.
I'd offer up mad props to that Sagittarius and A List Apart, but frankly, like that wrap song, I'm a little out of place. I have no idea what "mad props" are. I keep thinking it's one of Sister's inanimate objects that has an attitude.

Good morning America, how are you?

Lyrics stuck in my head for days.
Late Friday night, I was reading a book while I was stretched out on the couch, and it was a pretty good yarn, involves Nashville, Country Music, the South, and so forth. The author and I exchanged correspondence some years ago, and he suggested then - me being in Texas and all - that I'd enjoy his upcoming novel. Fender Benders. I thought it was a nice, polite plug for the new novel, but as it turns out, the book is really good.
So I was up rather late, and sound asleep when there was a knock on the door, Saturday morning. Scary sight, lovely young lass with a baby on her hip.
"Hi Kramer!"
I was cowering behind the door, thinking, "I've never seen this woman (girl) before in her life. Kid's blond hair. No way. Besides, this woman is certainly not my type."
"I was just wondering, you know, does your neighbor (Cancer) live next door still? Or that other one, the Pisces?"
No. All moved. And I had no clue as to whom this person was, standing there with a baby straddling her hip.
"This is my daughter!"
Not only do I not know who this person was, but I'm pretty sure, at 10 on a Saturday AM, I don't want to know. New babies - "first one says she got my child but it don't look like me" "(Friend of the Devil)....
"If you see them, tell them I stopped by!"
A little too upbeat at that hour.
I realized, much later, who it was. She's put on a little weight. She was friend of a friend, showed in the trailer park years ago, between shifts as an "exotic gentleman's entertainer."
Yeah, a "dancer." I suppose I should wish her well, but she was long gone before I ever woke up and figured it out. Probably looking for something.
Glad it wasn't me she wanted, and that child on her hip just reminded me why I live like a monk.
Cat food[/ur> for breakfast. What made the cartoon even funnier? Jalapeno & anchovy pizza for breakfast on Saturday. Leftovers Sunday morning.


Some mention of that action?
As I was wandering out of the trailer park, I ran into a Virgo neighbor, "Going downtown?"
Yeah, to look at the freaks.
But thinking about it, and encountering very few folks in costume, I had to admit, it's really pretty hard to tell the costumes from the real thing.
Libra, Scorpio (Delusions of Grandeur, if I recall), and Sagittarius in front of the Black Cat. Or where the Black Cat used to be - it was an inside joke.
We wandered, we gawked, and at one point, there were two guys, dressed as Jay and Silent Bob, standing outside a convenience store. Personally, and after many forays into Tech Support Land in the last week, I found that costume get-up to be the coolest.
Besides, they were dead ringers for the movie stars.
We all ambled over to the Hideout for coffee and ice cream. Much hilarity followed. I was rather animated, no doubt due to excellent coffee and ice cream, but there's something about having another Sagittarius around that helps even us all out.
And everyone was there when the "You're a musician, right? Michael Bolton!" I was also called Ted Nugent (Sagittarius), Yanni, Kenny G. Great. Just great.
What did I dress as? Goth Boy. Black sandals, black shorts, black T, black shirt. It was really way too warm to wear anything else.
Or, I might've been dressed for work. Costume is all about the same, this is Austin.
National Novel Writing Month

What an idea. I thought about making a go of it, but there's a catch. That's 50,000 (coherent) words. In the next month, I'll do about 10 or 12K words here. Then there's the November columns, that's going to run two at 2,500 and two at 3,000, that's 11K. Then there's December, and I'll have to have it ready because Mercury will be going backwards and I'll want it done in advance.
Plus, there's 5 publication dates in December, that's what it looks like. So it's journal for 10K, November for 11K, and then December for 14K, so I'm up to 35K words, in three weeks, because nothing ever gets done during the Thanksgiving week, my birthday and all. Missed the deadlines last year for this National Novel Writing Month, and looks like I'll miss the deadlines again.
I'm not even sure where the original manuscript is these days, but in my final undergraduate semester, I did turn out a novel. Took a short story and exploded it. I was working through some kind of angst. Not sure whatever happened to it. Wasn't very good, but I enjoyed the exercise.
I wonder if computer code counts as words in a word processor? If that's the case, then I've been rather busy, editing code "by hand," as the expression goes. Visual interfaces are nice, but every once in a while, nothing beats getting and getting my hands dirty by editing at a code level. I'm just trying to tighten up a lot of the stuff on the new server.
"Vigorous code is concise" (with apologies)

Happy Halloween?

Yeah, whatever. Dress up, act out a fantasy, be something that you're not. Sounds just like Valentine's Day to me. Oh wait, I got confused. My bad. S'pose to meet in front of the Black Cat Lounge, on 6th, at 9 PM. Onto the mail bag:
> Round a-bout, 10/30/03 6:08 PM, ya'll wrote:

> (astrology writer) may be able to spit them out, with alot of help, but yours are more

> finely tuned to me, less general, somehow...........SPOOKY EVEN. You have

> actually bothered me from time to time with your ability to personalize the

> application of your work, and your scopes went from "entertainment" to

> "necessity for self defense" some time ago.
Nice letters make me all gooey inside.
One down, one to go. More work than I'd like, but the results of the efforts are starting to pay off. The new host has much more stringent security. Imagine a software engineer in the backroom cursing, "Why do they do it like that? That's just stupid! Why? Oh now, what the f...." Add many bad words. That added level of security is nice, unless you're like me, and I'm use to a free-wheeling backend where the technology is loose, easy, and forgiving. There's no Telnet (command line) access, either. While that complicates certain matters, it sure makes my life easier for administration, in the long run. More thinking required now, less thinking required later.
Simple, keep it all nice and simple. What you'll see in from the new host/server? More bitching about the cost of bandwidth, better stability, faster loading pages, and few - if any - cosmetic changes. "This web page has a 5 ton load limit," which means it's easy for my site to exceed the allotted bandwidth in a month. But if I'm doing more than 5 gigabytes of throughput? I should be racking up enough cash to pay for it all. I think I peaked when the splash page was the big boat - I was doing close to ten gigs in a month.
The default index page will go back to being last week's scopes. They actually weigh less than the graphic splash page. Depending on stats - all that could change.
Came up with another idea, too. Book sales dropped off. In a more than a noble experiment, I'll make a downloadable copy of the book's text available through the subscription area. It's an experiment. If it costs me time and fails to generate good will, then I'll pull it.
More than you wanted to know, read the Microsoft 'graph at the bottom. Makes my disclaimers look weak.
Halloween in Texas. Think I'll go as a cowboy.

Best use of chainsaw

In a song? Art of Noise.
I spent way too much time tweaking up some of the new stuff, and I had one of those little breakthrough moments. There's a balance of BBQ, coffee and weird leftover pasta that makes all the difference. For some reason, Magnolia food still tastes delightful, days later. Right out of the tin foil.
Short - or long - depends on the frame of reference - amble in the fall sunlight. Hardly a cloud in the sky. The neighbor's banging subsided so I missed any really good coffee shop conversations.
New music: ZZ Top, Wayne Hancock, and the undisputed king of the accordion, Flaco Jimenez.
Didn't help the tweaking, though, but that Flaco is tasty musica.
Most excellent: British Library online.
One more cycle, is what it looks like, a website in two places, at once. In other words, the pointers aren't pointing to the new host just yet. I'm still sorting through lines of code, or worse, the usual, "I thought I uploaded that already."
Pleasant discovery, the new server? Located in New Mexico? MST. Mountain Standard Time. Means the scopes don't rol over until 1:00 AM, local time. But that'll be next week. The old previous server got relocated to Atlanta, and I'm not sure how that worked.
I'm pleased though, with the new host. I've done a half-dozen sites there already. Rock-solid reliablity.
Two tweaks left to launch and it's a wrap. If it goes as planned, well, it never does, but if events proceed in an orderly direction, I should be able to swap some time this weekend, when the load is the lightest.

Between coffee shops and BBQ

While I was ambling up and back over the Lamar pedestrian bridge, I got to thinking about that one conversation I'd overheard. Something snapped. Now, I wasn't getting paid for this analysis, so it might be incomplete, but here's the deal:
What caught my interest initially was a comment about Saturn and Saturn returns. Followed by a comment about 7-year cycles. The guy wasn't making the leap between Saturn's 28-year cycle and 7 year cycles he was describing. (Hint: 28 divided by 7 is 4, or one-quarter turn of Saturn, an astrological cycle to me - the seven year itch.)
The gist, in a nutshell, was his girlfriend at the time of the tale, had gone to a foreign country, had sex with at least two foreigners, then, when confronted later, while the guy was pining away at home, waiting on his true love to return, she finally admitted to having the affairs. According to guy telling the story, and this was just what I overheard, his girlfriend slash true love told the guy the affairs were about taking back her power, something she had to do.
Now, I've left out a lot of details, but as I crossed the bridge, the water brilliant, almost inviting, I got to replay snippets of that overheard conversation. Then, wading through the bits and pieces, I realized that the guy was up against the usual double standard that women face all the time.
If there had been waves and if a bolt of sunlight could've bounced off the water, I'd of "seen the light." As it was, I snickered and made a mental note to explore this concept.
If the guy had been traveling, and had an affair or two, it would've been "manly." But if it was a woman, she's "slutty." Uh-huh.
The more I rewound that eavesdropped conversation, the more I was struck by the idea that the guy was running into the same double standard that women are judged differently - he was playing the role of "why did I wait for the other person?"
It doesn't change my definition of fidelity, or relationships, or anything else. I just was rather amused to find the situation where the guy was doing the pining, feeling the hurt and betrayal. Sounded just like so many stories I've heard elsewhere....
Save and comments for the new server, most near any day now.
Coffee shop images - two-meat Tuesday

Weather's just absolutely brilliant. I decided it was a good time to get out of the trailer as the Pisces neighbor was doing some construction - maybe an art installation - all I know is it involved hammers, nails, saws, and worst of all, noise. What I was thinking about?
At the Inwood Lounge, in Dallas, on Lovers Lane, there's used to be, might still be there, a holographic image of some famous actor or director, smoking a cigarette, the pink image slowing turning, suspended in some medium. It was, at the time, very avant garde.
Had a revelation, or two. I was overhearing a conversation, true confessions, as a tall, good-looking young man was going on and on about his now-ex-girlfriend. Sounds so familiar. Names, dates, and places change, but certain items just always remain the same. Same story, different wrapper.
I stopped by Halcyon. Ordered up a cappuccino and turns out the espresso machine wasn't working. "Ya'll got wireless, doncha? I asked.
"Uh, yeah. The wireless internet isn't, like, connected to the espresso machine or anything." (Gemini barista)
I know that.
Take Five by Paul Desmond, as I recall.
Love the mail:
> Hi,

> You totally flipped me out this week with the Valentine's Day reference. At

> first I thought it was a mistake, a mistake I make all the time, a slip of

> the tongue, then I thought, he has a mother who is a scorpio, he knows!

> Since I was little I would call Halloween Valentine's day...not on purpose,

> it would just come out. It was the oddest thing and people would look at

> me like I was an odd one...(a correct assumption, by the way)...then as I

> got older I decided it was appropriate, saying Valentine's day instead of

> Halloween. It is my favorite holiday, as it is a season of/for love for me,

> and my birthday is the day after, so I "know" at Halloween parties or trick

> or treating, it is all for and about me, so yes.

> Happy Valentine's day my dear, and Happy Halloween as well!
Unrelated movie link - as I told bubba, "Damn, that was a good movie."
Unrelated again: I looked at another horoscope site, and I noticed that advertising copy was linked via words, with a strong tie in, plus there was the weight to consider: scope: 102 words. Advert copy underneath the scope: 45 words.
Maybe that's what I'm doing wrong, there's just not enough advertising on this site!

Things we said we'd never do....

I swore I'd never change servers again. I swore I'd never charge for scopes, too. Never give in and call tech support for a stupid user question. I figured I'd never quite writing scopes, either, and....

It seemed so simple, too. Just download the entire site and upload it again. Two catches, on the first try, plus some nice discoveries along the way, that made it all better.
The nice discoveries were the way the old links will work on the new server, just fine. Two catches? The damn database backend for this journal, backed up and won't upload properly, then the password administration system, it's broken, too. Can't launch the new server until both of those items are fixed. The old server has three months left on its contract, paid up, so it's not like I'll be moving anything too soon.
Plus I'll have to rework the shopping cart. That broke, too. I've been meaning to redesign its interface, might just do that at the same time.
Unrelated: via queen of cups, women with guns are hot. But I'm just a sexist pig.
But before I could break down and call tech support, I had to put a little distance between me and the computer. My little Capricorn friend from days of old popped by for the second or third time in about a week, and we did a short loop on the trail. Then had us some mighty fine fish tacos out by the lake. Then I was home again. Then, after a very short nap, I took off for a little breather. The sun was just setting, and it was getting cool out. I was originally going to head over to Jo's & Amy's, but I just kept going up the hill, instead. Don't know what possessed me, either. Just seemed like the thing to do.
I did call tech support, as the evening shift guys are usually a lot more interesting and possibly a little bored. And I did have a problem that they'd never seen before. Twice. Bit of feather in my hat, I would hope. But then there's that other difficulty, and I'm still not ready to change over the DNS, so this is all still running, just fine thankyouverymuch, on the old server. But I am excited. Looks like this - only none of the links work yet.
Comments are off so I can transition this material in the next few days.

Sunday Seven

In no particular order:
1. Still trying to place the background audio used in a couple of scenes from "Kill Bill, v. 1." Tickles something in the back of my brain. That guy does make good movies.
2. Trying to swap out servers again. Pretty disappointed when I realized that I couldn't design and code a new site, and do all the routine maintenance in a matter of an hour or two.
3. North wind. Saturn is now in apparent retrograde motion, and everything else is ramped up and moving along like it's supposed to be. So the local weather changed. Dramatically. Saturday was balmy, breezy and sweating weather. Sunday was cold, gray and sweater weather. Could be the Sun going into Scorpio, too.
4. "Your father had on his chauffer hat, a black sports coat, and a t-shirt that said, 'Moscow.' He looked like a Russian thug." Just returning a call, to Ma Wetzel.
5. The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time. The other 10% takes 90% of the time, too. Old proverb. Only have a few little problem areas, but I'm going to miss my astrological launch window.
7. Saw "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" Sunday night. Tried to entice Gemini Sean into trying peanut butter M&M's mixed with popcorn - that was dinner - for a Gemini, he just doesn't seem to open minded about certain food items. The movie? Most excellent. Better and better. In the credits, at the beginning, it was so nice to see local boy done well, a "Robert Rodriguez Flick." (Pretty sure Senor Rodriguez is a Cancer, but I'm not sure.)
Number six was killed off at the beginning of the film, not unlike hundreds of others.

Assorted unrelated topics

Saw "Kill Bill" last night. Loved it. Just loved it. The set up for the shots, the backgrounds, the trademark "over the top" violence, and the cartoon quality just tickled me. Awesome damn movie series.
Ran around some with a red-headed Capricorn buddy. She was in rare form, but I can't think of time when she's not in rare form. Introduced her to the special at Sandy's.
Outdated, but here's that Virgo's article about the other weekend. Interesting commentary from a freelance panelist who suggested that she herself was a looking for real job - needed the structure of going to an office.
I'm pretty sure I really live like a monk.

Divorced from reality

That would be me. Sure enough. It's that marketing thing, really. Or a lack of marketing.
I was working my way through some upcoming horoscopes, and I was tediously typing, can't really say it was writing, and I realized, for the hundredth time, I really should shoot some advertising into the scopes. End each scope with a rejoinder like, "It's a good time to buy the book."
Great idea. Can't do it. There's a purity I prefer to use on the scopes. Devoid of any marketing. At a later date, I've gone back in and plugged links to the various online stores, but no, when I'm composing - or decomposing, according to some - I tend not to think about such matters.
Friday afternoon went from weird to weirder to, finally, Friday night? I took a break, divorced from reality, as it were. I had a lawyer appointment that never materialized as the lawyer had "paying work" show up. I understand that. Then, to replace the lawyer, I had a pair of Gemini clients, one in tears.
Two points need to be obvious, one, I'm pretty much immune to teary females. Seen too many in my line of work. Doesn't stop my little liberal heart from bleeding, just means I don't fall for that ruse. I dug out tissues, staunched the floodwaters, mopped up the mess, and we opted for BBQ. Good Texas girls are like that, a little applied astrology, then a little BBQ. Had enough leftovers for her dog and my cat. The cat enjoys tender brisket. And the cat hopes the dog chokes on a pork rib. Cat's mean like that. The other point? Never underestimate the powerful, curative, restorative, miraculous, mystical & metaphysical powers of slabs of barnyard animals smoked for hours & hours, with a little side of raw onion. And a Big Red (bottled by authority of Big Red, Inc., Waco, TX).
From the e-mail inbox (things we like to read) as the oracle predicted:

> Just got the job offer, I'm giving notice this afternoon!

> Dude, you rock!
I wonder, did anyone every tell the Oracle at Delphi, "Yo bitch, you rock!"?
Spam stats here at FGS World HQ

Friday: received 744 e-mails between 5 accounts, between 12:01 AM and 11:59 PM. Had 54 of those that were actual messages. What's that work out to? 7% of my inbound eletronic mail is useful or important?

Fish on drugs

FW Star Telgram's take. I like the idea, myself. New crankabit, looks like a little pill?
Friday Five -

In my own accounting system, with my own bookkeeping, I've got a category specifically called, "Road Food." That's reserved for "meals when traveling for business." Then there will be a city, maybe another state, along with whatever business function is associated with me being in far-flung location.
1. I just erased a really long entry with pointers and links - titled "making money with your website." Or maybe I'd called it, "making money on the web." Who knows? I don't recall. But I've been through the details so many times, hashing over old material, even if it's new for some folks, that's not a lot of fun.
2. What was fun, the afternoon turned into a high of nearly 90 degrees, 92 according to one source, 106, by the bank's thermometer, was a hike that ended with a hotlink, a large cup of fizzy brown water, and a little nap before Bubba Sean swung by to steal some bandwidth.
3. I kept peeking over his shoulder, "looking for work" seems to involve surfing adult entertainment sites, eBay shopping for sunglasses, and then, I did get a chance to try and explain how the stats package on his site really worked. Plus there was e-mail he was answering, but somehow, I don't think that it involved actually finding a j-o-b. Could be me. "Yes, I've read that joke before."
4. Thursday evening? That means the special is at Sandy's. No, that picture isn't from this time around. We got there long after the sun had set. But I was just wondering, between me and him, if the meal could be deducted as "road food." Doubtful. Besides, the cost was only about $3, total. But it was a road trip, because, in his own fashion, we had to leave Shady Acres, run north to scoop up his Virgo ex-girlfriend, then run back down for cheap eats, drop me off, and that's the furthest I've been in days. Or so it seems.
5. Still feels like a summer's night. Over dinner, Bubba Sean made a passing comment about String Cheese resurrecting the pig from Pink Floyd's Animals tour. I casually reminded him I saw that pig, the first time around. Weird synchronisty, the album cover, in its 12-inch glory? That cover shot is a scene from the train as it approaches - I think - Victoria Station. I was there while String Cheese was debuting the pig - again - in Austin. Or so I've been told.

I had a good analogy working, in all that material I ditched, equating Wal-Mart to Amazon. It's faulty line of thinking, in some respects, because Amazon isn't - apparently - as predatory as Wal-Mart seems to be these days. One of the local lists I'm on, a neighborhood action group, is fighting the opening of a anotherWally World, here in the 'hood. As previously linked, Oakland, CA passed an ordinance targeted right at Wal-Mart. Then, there's the suggestion that Wal-Mart's presence in a market drives little businesses into foreclosure.
What's that got to do with Amazon? I've been an "Amazon Associate" or whatever-the-hell they call it, for years. I don't get any credit when some just clicks through on a link, but when a purchase is made through a recommendation, then I get small percentage of a small percentage.
Doesn't come close to covering the cost of the server, or bandwidth, or, much less, the amount of time invested in setting up the links. But there is a pay-off, or I wouldn't do it. Each quarter, I get enough in a gift certificate to order up some book I wouldn't normally be able to justify purchasing. Simple enough.
But my own book isn't available on Amazon yet.
My book won't be a big hit with chain stores, but small, independent - specialty - bookstores? Places with a long list of astrology texts? Probably go over well there. And aren't those the very places that are being threatened by the big chain stores? And Amazon?
Doesn't matter much, either way, not to me. I'm not sure Amazon will replace the actual fondling of books in a bookstore. And as much as I like the local bookstores, neither of the locally owned and operated stores I frequent is open at 3 AM.
I was wondering why I was concerned with childhood memories all afternoon - Sun just hit Scorpio - that explains everything.

Spam stats.
Wal-Mart stats. More dirt.
Little late for class

"Howdy and welcome to the message board for the class. Got any questions, or a problem understanding the way material is presented, please don't hesitate to ask away. I've been calculating, reading and interpreting astrology charts for years. Get comfortable, as I'm sure you'll find that course presents the material is form that's easy to comprehend."

Sound tracks

Some days have a decent soundtrack. Other days? It just doesn't make any sense. Not that I let logic interfere with thinking.
"The Mavericks lost but it was fun!!!"
That comment cycled in the other morning, and it got me thinking about a former editor's book because he uses the Dallas Mavericks as a shining example of creating a "customer experience," as born out by that commet.
Sadly, I'm just a writer, and as such, I have no clue how to turn horoscopes into a "customer experience." Fans don't sit on the sidelines and cheer. Not that I'm aware of. I'm not going to break any new ground with multimedia programming. About the most interesting event lately was to put old school punk on a compilation CD with some hard core country. Yee-haw.
I did take a couple of phone calls, phone readings, as it were, and in each case, it was simple, "I always feel better after I talk to you."
I poked around on the web and looked at a few J-con entries. This one chapped my rosy red backside: "Kramer (blah-blah-blah-dee-blah) irreprehensible (blah-dee-blah)."
Me? Irreprehensible?
Thermometer at the bank said, "105 at 12:55." It's Scorpio today, and here it is, up over hunnert.
Must be a rooftop gauge, though, didn't feel like a hunnert to me. Almost, not quite, but almost warm enough to swim. Thought about it, but I was just a little too harried and busy, although, to that one person who honked, I must not have looked too busy.
And I still can't shake the DK song, you can click and listen to the lyric on Amazon.
"California: über alles."
Which, I might add, is not irony. Mid-80's punk?
Irony (according to A handbook to literature, 6th edition, Holman, et al.): "A broad term referring to the recognition of a reality different from appearance." (page 254)
"The Terminator" is governor. That's not ironic. Might as well have Kinky Friedman run for the Govenor of Texas, huh?


Lost boys, lost days

I was typing the date in the backup version of the journal and realized I'd lost a day. It's been a scramble and I'm looking forward to a much more bucolic pace. I'm worn out from having too much fun.
"Endorphins, honey, that's what it is - you're just high from seeing me," fredlet assured me. In part, very true. Plus, Monday afternoon, while we were returning some books, and fetching up grub, a special red-headed Capricorn put in an appearance. "Dude, it's been, like months since I've seen you."
Could be it. I'm still waiting on the come-down from the weekend. Plus, there's just something odd about being at an event all weekend, and not having a pocketful of cash. Just not what I'm used to. I work weekends, and at the end of the weekend, I have to make a deposit. That's the point to asking, "Hey baby, what's your birthday?"
Fredlet made me "tuck and roll" at Magnolia, as she headed off to the airport. Me? I meandered around for a spell, winding up at a Gemini apartment, being lazy in the hot morning sun, which lead to another Pisces place, and more afternoon laziness. I wandered down to the post office, nominally to check the mail, and from there, off for what was perhaps the best espresso I've had in days.
I asked the barista about the tattoo on her shoulder, "It's the glyph for the 'year of the monkey'," she assured me. 1956? 1968? Gemini, 1980.
There was something oddly peaceful about the day, and that coffee, done just perfect, set everything off.
Somewhere along the way, I heard a rustle in the grass. I caught a glimpse of a slithering spot of red, and I finally saw the reptile, a garter snake, about 15 inches long. I didn't make a move to capture the creature, but I did stymie its forward motion - I just didn't see any point in that critter darting out across the pavement. I was trying to remember, is it the shorter ones that are male? Or female? Couldn't remember.
Snakes have always been a totem animal for me - not that I believe that stuff - just an observed phenomena: snake = good. That garter snake? With it's horizontal red line and yellow lines? A real snake in the grass.
Later, as I crossed the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge, I couldn't help but notice a big turtle, floating and sunning herself. Huge turtle. Massive. The shell must've stretched a good two feet, from end to end. That one was girl, and she slowly, peacefully, ducked back under and started to paddle back to the murky depths of home.
Always nice to see note from Australia:
> Yep, that's au for Australia. Love reading your

> weekly charts.
Tim's pic o'me - J-Con style.

Monday's minions, movie & St. Ursula

An early piece I did, the funeral story. Dates me a bit. Saint Ursula was a patron saint of brides. Think I'll skip that reference point.
Off and running with Ms. Fredlet, the littlest of the Fred's. In honor of her visit, I wonder if "Fred, Texas," is still open, just little west of downtown, in Fort Worth. Good burgers and huge, icy schooners full of cheap beer.
Trailer Town at the Alamo.
Film & Filmmaker's site.
I spotted this on the website, followed it up and for a slow news night in Austin, that moved looked inviting. I didn't realize just how good, or bad, or whatever, it was.
The opening was auspicious, a trailer for Bubba Ho-Tep coming up, then the floor manager did a quick intro to the film, "The Southern Premier &..." and then, "You've got 60 seconds to get a refund and leave...."
The movie is series of vignettes, threads of an idea, and the easiest way I could pull it together was invoke Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, except that the Tales lack the scatalogical-sexual references of this particular film.
It evoked a response. Fredlet was on one side, laughing, almsot non-stop for the whole film. Bubba Sean, on the other side, was almost catatonic. I was thinking about moving to check his pulse. That boy is rarely speechless for that long.
I think the inherent absudity was missed by some. Afterwards, the director himself was there for Q&A. I spoke with hi briefly, heaping accolades upon him, and verfifying that he had inked a deal for more films, from major studio.
Maybe you don't live in trailer park. Maybe you don't know any regular drunks. Maybe you don't understand futility, death, psychological scatalogical reference points and guns. Okay, it's a budget film. The guns weren't that good. Expectations? Didn't expect to see great special effects - this was real life. Or a series of stories based on real life. Always play to that lowest common denominator. Although, maybe that missed - perhaps it was too high-brow for some.
Troma has, according to the filmmaker himself, picked him up for Trailer Town II & III.


Serial Sunday

"There's nothing so plebian as the truth." (via fredlet)
Wrap up Journal Con? Sure. I walked up toward the First Street bridge, then on over to Congress, and up to the Hideout. The new owner was just opening and had the music cranked up while he swept the place out. Classic rock.
I ordered up some coffee, chatted briefly about coffee and his new store then my cell rang.
"Where the fuck are you?"
Good morning, sunshine, yes, I love you, too. It was Bubba Sean, worried that I wasn't there.
"Look, you told me I had to be here at 9, you're ass had better be here, too."
Bubba Sean was just back from working at a show headlined by "Nickel back"? Still had his laminate from backstage around his neck. We floated around the hospitality suite, went in and laughed at the journal readings, several very priceless comments about Texas, then, Bubba Sean did the "closing service" with his street preacher bit. He opened up with, "Hi, I'm Sean, and I'm an alcoholic. No, I'm not confused about the meeting, I just hope someone will buy me a drink when we're done...."
Some place in the middle, the two sisters read their road trip pieces, and it was as close to real performance piece as any other journal writers reading from their journals. The timing alternated between the two, each reading a bit and the way the two separate entries dovetailed was a darned cute. Rather well crafted, as well.
I was introduced to with some humor, "So you out-of-town guest, a strange guy came up to you, and asked your birthday?"
Regrets? Sure, I'd pulled together three entries that were yoked together over a few days, and I thought, a lot funnier. But without prior approval, I just didn't figure it was a good idea to deviate from the committee's plan. I'm just such a good team player.
From there, it was over to Little City for more real coffee. I have the ultimate blackmail picture, too, Bubba Sean with a coffee drink - topped with pink whipped cream.
Back to the wrap, and it was up and off to Chuy's for Greg & fredlet. Promised and finally delivered. While we were sitting there, I pointed out that I had all my children there. In a line, sweet Pisces, Cranky Amy (Sagittarius), the 'whore (Gemini), & capman (Capricorn). Children? Web pages I've started, anyway. Devota got a (web-page) make-over. Amy wants one, and so do the other kids. Only so much time in a day. We did get another shot of seanM by a dream car, about a 1965 Buick Riviera, and that image now graces his top header.
There were several important influential out-of-town guests, but I can't pull together the URL's for any of them at the moment. Big names. Damn if I recall much more than Taurus, Scorpio, Scorpio, and that Australian Sagittarius.
That was it. Off to the airport and other ports for some. Off to a trailer for me. Bubba Sean was apparently busy with his new girlfriend, and I have to admit I'm kind of jealous, as she does get in the trunk. Willingly. Legs fold at just about the right place, too. And no back talk. At all.


Saturday seven: j-con overview...

What usually happens at a conference like this is that I get full of ideas. Or full of something.
In the earlier Freelance Writing forum, I was interested to hear one noted freelance author (Virgo) say, "I'm in the process of finding a job..." So much for the wonderful world of freelance.
On another panel, one writer quoted her editor, "The editor said, 'The newspaper is a dieing horse, but we're going to flog it until it's dead in its tracks'."
By the end of the day, folks were getting tired. Shot of the panel, from my end:

I've got one note, all about the points that I never covered. But I must admit, I like the way this one was organized: the darling Sagittarius, moderator, arranged by the darling Pisces, was sipping on a Bloody Mary. Makes for smoother run forum. Was that Blue Sky vodka?
The Gemini from Diary-X was rather engaging, too. I liked his numbers. I also liked the way, listen carefully, that the numbers really added up. "70,000 subscribers...." translated into the real numbers? Enough of a cash flow to cover bandwidth and server. Refreshing honesty about the real economics of web-based businesses. The other luminary on the panel? Ryan, again, refreshingly honest about what happens behind the scenes.
The problem is that there's always something that doesn't get said.
The one point I thought about, triggered by an earlier discussion in some other workshop, was about affiliate programs, advertising and so forth. Given my liberal, book-loving sentiments, I'd much rather be a Powell's "associate," but Amazon delivers. Still haven't managed to get my own book listed on Amazon yet, but we're getting there.
The last two afternoon events were too much for me, and I begged out, wandering off with fredlet, in search of a wireless connection. From there, we finally gathered up Steph and her various boyfriends, and headed off for sushi.
Transcendental Sushi, no less. It was at the place that used to be, heck, who knows? Fredlet ordered up the "big boat of sashimi" item. The rolled flounder was good. The special white tuna was amazing. Think: "When Harry Met Sally." Yes, that scene. Only, it was me, tears in my eyes from the power of the wasabi.
Leo serving person, darling Leo, from SE Texas, no less. I pointed - with my chopsticks - at the baseball-sized glob of wasabi, "What's that?"
Without missing a beat, "It's guacamole. Try it."
It was one of those truly amazing meals. In a euphoric state, we eventually staggered back to Shady Acres, stay tuned for fredlet's version of the pictures.

Leo Moon

According to my software, the Moon enters Leo at 4:41 PM. With Fredlet in attendance, I'm glad I looked that up.
J-con's webcam.
My oldest journal web archive.
The kick-off for Journal Con '03 was a sort of weird. Lots of energy, a little awkwardness, and hasty, last-minute begging and pleading to allow Bubba Sean to read one tiny bit at the evening's session.
I wore a hat. My big, broad brimmed straw cowboy hat. Just figured it was right. Someone needed to look Texan.
Looks like I'll be 'volunteered' for a morning session, too. That promises to be interesting.

Coffee & Magnolia

There's not actually a sign that says, "Load In" at the Omni, but there should be, as we get ready to host the "conference."
Fredlet called from the road, and she wanted to meet at Magnolia for some food. I believe her standard fare is a Shiner Bock & Carrot Cake.
I suggested, since I was at the gathering for other journal writers at Little City, she meet us there. It was the grand homecoming for Mr. & Mrs. Fredlet, and in the dark, I was out on the street, gesturing towards a rare parking spot, right in front of Little City, smack dab in the middle of downtown The things I do for friends. You know, the royal Leo treatment.
Fredlet met Blue Valentine, they bonded, doing that girl thang, and here's the shot from Mag.

I took a bazillion pictures, none of which turned out, or only those two. But it was a late night, and I've got get some sleep before I'm pressed into service in the morning....
Freaky Friday Five

Totally unrelated mess - and for the record, I still live like a monk.
1. Footnote for yesterday's Latin Rosary link.
2. Computer problems?
3. That sweet Pisces asked me to get a list of everyone who was at the bag stuffing. I cheated, or so I thought, and just took pictures. But for the sake anonymity, a couple of the snapshots had to be immediately tossed, under pain of death - or worse suffering - at the hands of another Pisces.
That list? I didn't get names, but I did get important information, like, Sagittarius, Sagittarius, Sagittarius (me), Virgo, Taurus. Then Capricorn, and Scorpio, and Pisces again, and Libra. And Cancer. Aries. Who could forget the wonderful Aries guy? He actually worked. I'll admit, I didn't.
4. "I've got mortgages on homes, I've got stiffness in my bones..." (Via Kevin Fowler's cover of Fat Bottomed Girls)
Yeah, buddy.
Damn, forgot "Freebird." Or, more correctly, >"FREEBIRD!"
What compilation would be complete without that anthem?
5. Excellent Wal-Mart article. Which just points out a problem I'd mentioned earlier, the way the "made in America" emphasis is waning. Which, besides some low prices, was one of the reasons I started shopping there.

Weird Wednesday: Pre-J-Con

I was going to get my favorite expression translated in Latin, but the prices have gone up. However, poking around on the site, I found this. The way it should be.
The overnight package delivery guy (Sagittarius) didn't exactly wake me up as I was already digging around trying to find a can of food for the cat. But when she heard the rumble of the truck's motor, she scooted back under the bed - the same bed she'd just bumped me out of in order to fix her breakfast. (sexist editorial comment)That cat is just like a woman.(end sexist editorial comment)
The package contained some incorporation papers I was "hired" to walk through a state office at a specified time. In one of the enclosed envelopes? A crisp $100 bill. Cash for services. I could do this as a sideline, pick the astrologically best time to incorporate and walk the papers through... $100/hour? Little low but about right. Seeing as how I was headed downtown, anyway....
Journal Con bag stuffing. Which had nothing to do with bag stuffing, as the goody bags are a little bare, by my 1998 standards. But not bad. I'd wandered all over town, or so it seemed, and I was nursing another Taurus latte from the Hideout.
Wherein I found myself with two local luminaries, while they worked their way through really bad $15 Gibson and a light beer. But, as always, Pineapple Girl was very entertaining. From what I remember about her chart, she's got, like, an excellent series of years coming up. She's marvelously entertaining.
Then, one of the other drinkers let it slip that Ms. Fredlet is already in Texas. Due in tonight, kind of late.
Joe King Carrasco sang came to mind - in the early MTV days - one of the first videos to get heavy rotation, as I recall, back when it was all new.
"It's party-party weekend!"

Saddlebags and "best of"

Dig around and help find the "best of" of the entries with a Texas Theme. I figure just about everything I've got has a Texas Theme. How can it not? Which reminded me that I've got to get out the old book bag, the undergraduate purse I carried for so long.
Computers keep changing size and portable design issues usually require that I carry a computer-specific piece of baggage. But I have this one, old briefcase/book-bag, from a long time ago (look, my undergraduate and graduate degrees are still barely a decade old - ink is hardly dry).
The briefcase was built by a saddle-maker out of Montana. I had it custom fabricated, I think it still has his signature inside someplace, and I keep running into advertising for various computer bags that are "just like" a saddlebag.
Marketing like that appeals to me. I look at the design, the picture of a "saddlebag style briefcase/computer folio," and I think, "I should try one of those, am elegant solution to my computer carry-all questions."
Except, I got one of them. Wasn't designed to be a computer case, but with a padded envelope, it works out just fine.
One of the selling points, years ago, was that any saddle shop could repair damaged or worn out parts. The leather's aged, rather fine, and I've usually hit it with saddle soap and mink oil, about once a year, just to keep it in shape. I'm thinking that this would be a good time to start using it again. Computer cowboys need computer saddlebags.
For journal con, upcoming, the party starts today. There's a volunteer call wherein we all gather and stuff swag bags with goodies for the folks who registered. Should get their money's worth, the way it's going. Then there's the "Texas Talk" readings. I had clipped a series of what I thought was the "best of" but I'm no judge of my own material. Any other ideas?
*I am not a painter (Personal fave about art in Ft. Worth)

Raod Trip - Nov. 2002

Punk Rock

Astrology Business Model

music: response

writing on the train


Barefoot Astrology


Pepys' diaries

sex sells


*Ten years on the road


left coast shuttle

Other favorites?

Casino & cab fare...

Leaving El Paso included some soaps with Grace - on more than one level - and a quick trip to have "lunch" at the casino. Quick dash through the slots netted $40 for me. Cab fare home, from the airport. That's good. Casino food, that's, well, it's a buffet. Can't be too bad. I made three trips for roast beef.
Grace makes soap and we watched some kind of soap opera. "I like the drama, totally unbelievable and yet...."
So much like what we listen to, from time to time?
Then, there was the airport. Remember the note about Scorpio's? I had about ten minutes, trying to complete a lengthy and mentally challenging e-mail, work, such as it is, and I glanced up. Two cops had sauntered over to chat with the gate agent. I slammed the laptop back into its bag and popped over, "Hey, how you doing?" One them was a cop I know. Isn't there just something really alluring about a woman in a uniform? With a big gun on her hip?
"Hey, what's the weirdest question you get on this beat?" I asked.
She fingered, what looked like to me, a yellow plastic drill handle sticking out of holster, "They ask, 'Is that a phaser?'"
I made small banter for a few minutes, I really do enjoy chatting with cops as they actually have a very fine-tuned sense of wit, and the more enjoyable conversations that I've had? Those are peace officers with a definite understanding of the absurdities of life. I finally hopped on the plane. I headed for that over wing-hot-tub section.
Weirdness never stops. Aquarius, Aquarius, Virgo, Virgo, and a lone Taurus (from Rodeo, NM, if I recall rightly). Since I'm not exactly a drinking man, but I do appreciate what happens when the right amount of libation is applied as a social lubricant, I dug out my frequent flyer drink coupons. They all managed to slam to a slam a couple of rounds, and the conversation was lively. Interesting. I've got to get in the mode of being able to say, "Yes, I have a book out," although I left my last copy - only copy - in El Paso.
It was just a surreal end to long weekend. There's no rest, though, as the next party is about to start....

Time zone & time lines & tea times

My internal clock is still set for Austin. I wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning in El Paso my internal clock is saying it's like 9 AM, time to think about putting the feet on the floor.
The house is still, the children are asleep, the hosts are still abed.
I rolled over and went back to sleep. Then something tickled me, perhaps a vestige of Protestant Work Ethic, maybe the fact that I was fully rested, having begged out on a wild night at the casino.
Sunday afternoon, I had a long string o Scorpio women. Don't get me wrong, I love me my Scorpio girls. I will never, ever lay another hand on one because I'm not sure the wounds from the last Scorpio "date" have ever healed properly.
Nope, not going there. Not even. But I did notice, that there was string, three, four, maybe more, enough to be an alarming trend on Sunday afternoon.
Then along comes this one guy. Not a Scorpio. We get settled in, and I start the tape rolling, and I had just seen him about two months ago, but he was back because 1> I was right, and 2> because I yelled, got excited, and he's got it all on tape.
The girlfriend question, it pops up, and this guy looks at me, not a Scorpio stare, and he says, "I live like a monk."
"You are, like, stealing my material."
"Funny, that's what you said last time, too."
That's the conversation that popped into my head Monday morning, in that nebulous time before getting out of bed and getting coffee.
I have the proof, there is at least one other stalwart, upstanding, person of integrity who lives like I do - like a monk.
October 13th....

It's a historical date, and I wasn't sure how much I stock I can place in two pierces of relative fiction, both which, cite this date. The Da Vinci Code. Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
My big plans include "camping out" at Cafe Dali in El Paso until my evening flight takes me home. I was hoping that they were sufficiently advanced to have wireless internet access - I'm spoiled in Austin - but no such luck. "WiFi? What's that?"
Moon was in Taurus all last weekend, one sign off from a full moon, folks were all a little tense. Grace flipped through the single copy of the book that I had on hand, and decided that the Leo-Leo section was just about her current marriage. Had to be. "You quoted us."
Dinner was at Forti's again, and it launched conversation about passions. Looking at a steaming plate of peppers, onions, peppers, strips of beef, and peppers, with a couple of handmade tortillas on the side, I looked over at the bowl of salsa, and pointed out that my two passion in life seem to be books and hot food.
Did I mention the peppers in the beef plate?

Fest Day of St. Wilfrid

St. Wilfrid bio. On the wya out the door, I fetched up this e-mail:
> Where else can you find an astrologer with an alias of "Bubba" who knows

> Latin and quotes Shakespeare - but in Austin, Texas?
Yes, well where, indeed.
Predawn flight to El Paso, Grace at the airport, truck stop for breakfast, and then off to the new location. Which really feels strange because it's a location we haven't had an event at in, I'm guessing, six years.
Best sign in El Paso? Right next to the "Seniors specials":


Upward, onward.

Or like that link from this week's scope? "On the road again"?
Mixing up some music, I was wondering if it was just totally uncalled for to have Robert Earl Keen, nominally country, next to Rob Zombie? Both start with Rob? Here's the weird part, REK was classified as a "blues," whereas Zombie was "metal." And what's with calling the Sex Pistols alternative? But it's up and off to a red-eye to El Paso.
Back to the road, I was thinking about the topic of what I do for my weekend job, as card reader, chart reader, whatever we're called these days....
One of the residents at Shady Acres stopped by the other evening. She works at the Capital. She has lots and lots of dirt. And she gets readings from me from time to time. "It's like a hobby, you know?" She enjoys my wit, style, and relative accuracy, as far as she's concerned.
"When you're good, you're just amazing."
And when I'm off? At least I'm entertaining. She was going to make an attempt to see me last weekend - she'd forgotten that I was going to be working - and she showed up, but I was busy every time she tried to get to me.
So, she started asking me about ethics. You know, I'm just working this from the wrong angle; it's that simple. I don't do any up-sale.
The line she heard made us both laugh, but it's one that I just can't bring myself to try:
"You have a curse on you, and I can remove it for $$$ dollars."
I looked at her, laughed, and complained that I can't do that. Them I got a crooked grin, "But for $10,000 dollars, I'd be able to rid you of your curse."
What bothers me, is that there are still people who fall for that. Every time. Apparently. It's like junk e-mail - I wouldn't keep getting it if someone wasn't responding and sending money.

When it's raining?

Just as an observation, I think it's really hard to get out of bed.
The gentle sound of rain on a tin roof, obvious musical allusion to a Kevin Fowler tune, the door to the patio open, gentle breezes, I mean, I just didn't want to get up. Even the cat decided she wasn't that hungry, as I was warm place to be.
But I did get up and I did finish up a round of horoscopes and I did slide out the door to take care of business. I had watch, a rare heirloom, which I've been meaning to get fixed. Just the band's broken, missing a small link, but the brand name and the age of the watch, I just knew it would cost a lot to get it repaired.
$15, that's all they charged me at the swank, upscale, downtown jewelry store. I was anticipating digging out a credit card and trying to figure which card wasn't too near its limit. But along with the paltry bill, there came a sales push. Diamond earrings for her? Only $500.
The sales and repair guy, though, he was pretty cool, he kept asking if he was being too pushy. Which reminded me, I'm just not pushy enough.
And that's a problem, but I can't get all worked up to close a deal with a client. Just not my style. You want it? (start advertising tag) I got it. (advertising tag over) Simple as that.
On the way home, I stopped off to cash in a lucky lottery ticket, 3 out of 6. No big millions, but it was enough to cover another lottery ticket, a big drink, and a hotlink. Savory and tasty, maybe not too nutritious, but who cares?

A whole lot of nothing

I mean, it was one of those days when I was done by noon.
I got up early, started working on a scope, got it halfway there, not quote wrapped, but close enough. Then I realized, before I ever left, that I had a phone reading. Plus, there was the sales call from phone company, offering a deal on DSL. Cheap. About 33% cheaper than the cable modem. Plus, really, an easier - and more secure - system on the router. Since AOL/Time-Warner/RoadRunner grossly misrepresented their pricing structure to me, I have no qualms whatsoever in dropping them. Less money for the same bandwidth plus - think about this - DSL is a lot more secure.
I can always rearrange my location in the trailer, too, and piggyback off a neighbor's wireless rig. Doesn't quite reach from the current desk situation, but if I move over to a broad window. - free wireless.
I took three phone readings, almost like I scheduled that way. So when I hooked it out the door, destination unknown, I was free for the afternoon. I was hoping to work in a swim, but I was too hungry and a quick detour over to Sandy's was far more preferable to anything else. I just gauged the day wrong, as the burger alone cost more than the usual special.
But it was good.
Ma Wetzel pusehd a copy of Stallion Gate by Martion Cruz Smith on me, last month. I picked it up after reading The Da Vinci Code. What's nice, as I was packing up for next weekend, the setting for Stallion Gate is New Mexico. El Paso, close enough.
Which is all a whole lot of nothing. But it was an oddly, quietly satisfactory day.


The flap over the national "do-not-call" registry, and my recent spam filter discovery, got me wondering about how invasive marketing should be.
I was looking for software tools - routine maintenance software - and I thought about Norton. But I get so many unsolicited ads for those guys, I wonder if I should even bother with their product?
Fight back by not fighting back? Don't respond, better yet, don't buy?
For my meager dollars, these guys look a lot better. Plus, I don't get any spam advertising their products.
I'm averaging 200 useless messages in a day and maybe 20 or so, useful messages, like e-mail arranging a reading, or the neighborhood trailer watch e-mail list I'm on.
More on marketing:

Ad Age article about the power of the almighty Wal-Mart. Two things got me thinking, and one I can't place its source, but some airline was instigating regular "LA to Benton AR Regional Airport" run. Daily, non-stop service. Now, I can't recall, and I've long-since forwarded the book onto other folks to read, but First Contract had a hilarious - to me - scene in its opening pages about a harried computer executive being forced to make a pilgrimage to Wal-Mart World HQ in order to pitch a product. Not being in that retail's chain meant "no sales." I took it as a spoof, satire.
Turns out, there's some truth to that, or so that Ad Age article would indicate.
That's scary, as here, in Austin, a fight against a proposed Wal-Mart is shaping up nicely.
In the original manuscript for my Astrological Romance Guide, I used a term, "Shopping at Wal-Mart after midnight." Five, ten years ago? That was favorite time to wile away hours observing humanity. Plus, the place doesn't have near as many screaming babies at that hour. It was funny. It was great source for humor and an apt description of certain human traits exhibited by various signs.
But it's not humorous anymore. Nor is it as much fun. It's okay when there's a Wal-Mart around that fun to shop at. It's not okay when that animal starts to flex its retail muscle. The only part that I still find comic, after the crash, after the economic bubble burst, suddenly more folks who laughed at the Benton Monster suddenly started shopping there. Because it is cheaper.
Perosnally, I always liked that there was a preponderance of "Made in USA" stickers on most of the products. Sadly, that's disappearing. Or maybe, the flag was sewn in a sweatshop in some third-world country?
I wonder if I could outsource my writing to a third-world sweatshop?
"Made in Texas"*
*some parts are assembled in Mexico.
And Terminator won?

The only thing really rather pleasant about that victory, if it's true, is that California now exceeds Texas in the whacked politics department - by a country mile. At least our Republican eccentricities are all still closeted.
Da Vinci Code

Good book, by Dan Brown.
Fact or fiction? My bet is fiction, loosely based on fact. I was pleased, part way through, to discover that a personal, favorite text, was mentioned in a positive light.
Plus, I have nothing but heart-felt sympathy for the protagonist, in certain places, when he's faced with particular questions, all about conspiracy theories. I was rather pleased with several of the discussions of planets, symbols, and relevant myths.
I stayed up late reading it, then, when it looked like Bubba Sean was headed over to snare some free computer access time, I picked it up again, realizing that I wouldn't be getting any time to work myself, so I might as well do something useful.
I'm pleased to find so much of the symbolism[/url rather consistent with terms, expressions, and mythologies that I've employed or otherwise referenced in the past.
I was a little disappointed that some Tarot myths surfaced, and I'm afraid that the mythology is not born out by facts. Tarot myth and extant facts differ slightly. But in all fairness, the topics were treated without the usual disdain.
Wrapping it all up in adventure thriller? That was good.
I'd have to highly recommend the book.

Burnt toast.

Noted. More noted.
Which has nothing to do with that dreary feeling of being totally drained from a long weekend of work.
Words from Buddha Sean, "Relationships are like baby seals, sometimes..."
The rest of that thought will be continued, later, on astrowhore.org. I was going to quote the item in its entirety, but the author claimed it, and I defer to his way with words. He was giving out advice, not me.
But I did make enough last weekend to go shopping at the grocery store, and that's a happy thought. Although, I'm wondering, should I really be elated about sufficient Mac & Cheese? The cat's happy about cans of tuna, that's for sure.
One item I picked up was a book, light reading for a frazzled mind. Loking over at the book, another person waiting in line noticed it, and siggested it was a good read.
While Buddha Sean was working on my computer, cussing a mean blue streak at a website that wouldn't accept his resume, I started reading the book. Picked right up and took off - works for me. Of course, with a hero who is posited at a little older than me, with graying hair at the temples, yeah, well, how can I not like it? Make that hero an academic? Even better. I don't know, though, I just started reading.
"Astrology was a symbolic constant all over the world." (page 19)

Note from, huh, the road

Surfing Rabbi was a title that caught my eye.
Links, blogs & more. Eye-opening stats.
Patchouli: attracts Taurus.
"Did you have your wheat grass yet?"
Why does that stuff always taste like St. Augustine. St. Augustine, the lawn, not the saint.
No great revelations, just another day sitting under an AC vent at the conference center. "With all solemnity." Just a fractured fragment from the last UK trip, something I saw on stage.
We slid by Green Mesquite for supper after the show. I realized there was wireless access, and fired up Linda's . Amy[/url & Devota joined us, and the girls cruised around on the site for a few minutes, waiting on BBQ to arrive.
As the food finally showed up, the precious Gemini waitress was having a time of it, I was warned to get the computer off the table. Rather amusing.
A little later, I got up to use the restroom, noticed a sign on the women's room, went back and fetched up the camera, took a quick picture, and was too tired to finish what I started. I was rather mercilessly chastised for that action. Hey, it was an idea....
Bio Pics

For the upcoming J-Con:

Me. St. Paul's in the background. From Bankside, Southwark.
Buddha Sean


Working weekend.

"This is too much like a real job." Sometimes, that comment gets a laugh. Sometimes, it just doesn't come out quite right.
For one reason or another, I couldn't get to sleep Friday night, which meant I was tired before I ever left home on Saturday morning, which meant that I was worn out before I ever started Saturday morning. Plus load in was early. It was almost as bad as catching an early flight out, like next weekend. Maybe even worse. Or better.
I started at 10 AM, after treating my companions - Virgo & Pisces - to a quick breakfast at Magnolia. I got my first break at 3:30 PM. Which was weird.
I stepped outside for some fresh air and chance to catch up with another reader who wasn't working the show. One of the promoters looked at my sidelong, and asked about my parentage. Turns out, the parents of the promoters are old buddies of Ma & Pa Wetzel.
Small world.
Here's what the badge says:

Saturday's five:

So sue me I'm late.
1 What vehicle do you drive?

Piper Sandals. Well, I wore out the soles, so I'm using backup Tevas these days.
2 How long have you had it?

Bought new in September 2002, worn exclusively since then until I wore a hole in the right sole, left sole is pretty thin in places, too. They wore out exactly one year later. But, they'll be going back for repairs soon, and I'll be good to go again.
3 What is the coolest feature on your vehicle?

Piper Sandals, like my Lucchese Boots, are handmade in Texas. Unlike the boots, the sandals can be worn when swimming in Barton Creek.
4 What is the most annoying thing about your vehicle?

Well, I only got one year out of the soles, but I tend to look on the bright side, that was a high-mileage year, and the sandals can be re-soled, unlike the Tevas, of which, I now own a half dozen models. When the straps break on Tevas, or, in one case the Velcro wears out, I just have to toss them.
5 If money were no object, what vehicle would you be driving right now?

When I was doing a long east side hike the other day, I passed a 1975 Eldorado for sale, $2700. Light, metallic blue. Baby blue leather interior. I don't know, it's pretty tempting. I'm just trying to recall, other than abysmal mileage, I think there was a problem with certain parts wearing out. But a Cadillac two-seater? Too cool. I could do that. My previous obsession was a 1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV - white on white, 460 cubic inch V-8.

Off to work

Going to be a busy weekend. I hope. I tried to pop by the venue, less than a half-mile due east of here, but there was something else going on. I fully expect there to be some kind of a SNAFU when I show up to load in for the weekend.
Got my arrangements made with Grace for El Paso, and that's an event I'm more looking forward to.
1) The food in El Paso is always good.
2) If the show's a wash, we can always head on over to the casino.
Unfortunately, Austin doesn't afford such amenities. However, while I was chatting on the phone, I did notice a couple of guys fishing, right in front of Shady Acres. Now, how nice would that be? Pull up to the venue in a bass boat? We all have dreams.


High Art

I picked up this link, and after clicking through to the Picasso Project, a rather exhaustive catalog of work, I glanced up at the link's URL. tamu dot edu - that's Texas A&M, College Station, Home of the Aggies, and so forth. Yeah, "Gig 'em Aggies." Or something.
Picked it up online someplace, yet another fantastic article by Bruce Sterling.
Less important but weird implications, here.
Dinner was Sandy's with Bubba Sean and one of his former fiancées. She's lost some weight, looks like, and she does, these days, cast a reflection in mirrors. Unlike before.
I've got to work this weekend, and I've spent too much time running all over hell's half acre to get ready, in a proper fashion. I've got one more free SWA ticket, one of those frequent flyer perks, along with peanuts, so looks like I'll have to use that for next week's El Paso shuffle.
I still revel in the idea that - after more than decade of charts and readings, plus a regular column - those pictures of Picasso's women finally make sense to me.

Tea time

Just my cup of tea. Which has nothing to do with the rest of Wednesday.
Years ago, a long-standing family friend introduced me to place on South First Street that was noted for its "Puerco Adobo." Some kind of a pork-chili stew. Pretty good grub.
I was busy dialing in a pedometer, more out of curiosity than any technical reason, the first half mile, by my reckoning, was indicating more like a mile, so I adjusted the settings, and between mile marker 5.5 and 5.75, I got it just right. At the end of the day's wandering, I'd covered 8 miles. I always suspected that I was clearing some pretty decent mileage. There you have it.
Halfway through the wandering, moseying along on the East Side, I stopped off at a familiar taco place and ordered up the daily special, "puerco adobo." While it wasn't as good as I recall, for the price, the quantity, and the substance? Worked like a charm. Tasty stuff, in the middle of warm afternoon, brilliant blue sky, almost cool out, the thermometer at the bank said it was 95 degrees. Me? I hardly broke a sweat. I think the bank building was wrong.
While I was behind the old power plant, I came across a scene from nature, there was this one, lonesome cricket, hopping across the hot sidewalk. Suddenly, a jay swooped down and carried it off. Tasty morsel. I was going to note that image and work it into a scope, but I'm not sure how that would play out. Saturn as the jay? No, that would be Mercury as the jay. Who would be the hapless cricket? Maybe a Scorpio?
Ma Wetzel left town in hurry with an injured wing. Or something. I had to call and let her know that I was worried, and I thought she needed to see a heart specialist right away. She was amused at my concern because I had taken a simple ailment and compounded its consequences by a factor of ten, just like she is wont to do.
"Never let the facts get in the way of a..."
Good story: Ben Elton's High Society. I picked it up, obviously, on the other side of the pond. I finally finished reading it last night. Funny story. Poltics. Plus, there's that ear for language, and I'm sure, that this is just another funny piece of satire and whimsey that will never crack the American market. The settings, the actions, the heavy British accents just don't make it across too well.


It's a project I worked on for fun. No commercial value. There are those who would argue that most of my work has no commercial value, but I suppose that's another story. It's been a long week so far.

What's missing? What should be added?

For real? No way, Jose.


Fringe, mail & Ma

Sister won Best of the Fringe. Stupendous award. I fetched this out of the mail box:
Round a-bout, 9/28/03 7:50 PM, ya'll said:

> Kramer,

> Changed jobs earlier in the year and that was end of my free scopes, huh.

> Good for you. Anyway, when I read the Leo scope, I laughed out loud.

> Thank you. I can just imagine the mail on that one; ha. actually, I think

> that scope was worth the price of a whole month for me.
That's the way it usually works, too. Remember, not every scope will be worth the big bucks, but there's always one that makes it all worthwhile.
I had to pull together a quick biographical sketch, something for the upcoming web writer's weekend, and I was unsure just what they were looking for.
That my first scopes went up on the web in 1994? I moved to my own server in 1995? Went weekly in 1995? Got picked up by then AOL's Astronet? Had my own keyword on AOL for several years? I'm not sure what they are looking for.
Tad odd traveling with Ma Wetzel. She kept insisting that I be nice to her, and yet, I was, the whole way. Carried her bag and everything. Which, of course, was a little upsetting because she then didn't have a real porter to boss around and harangue.
Dinner was at the Aquarius household. Nice to be back in Austin.

Dallas redux

[ur=http://www.skyhighairlines.com/>Sky High Airlines looks like my

ticket out of Dallas, weather permitting.
I concluded Sunday afternoon - after one of the best naps ever - in front of

the game on TV. How about them Cowboys? Yee-haw. Or something.
The Cowboys wouldn't be much of a big deal to me, except, I was in Dallas,

and more than one person I know considers the Cowboys more important than

religion. Might even be a religion, for all I know. Winning is good.
More meetings await Monday morning, then I'm, under a freakish set of

circumstances, riding on the same plane as Ma Wetzel, back to Austin.

However, she disdains my trailer lifestyle and will not be staying

overnight. Not with me and the cat, anyway.
Plus, according to her, my neighbors are "weird."
While the folks were gone, I arrived back at their domicile, let myself in,

and headed to the backyard to finish off a cigar. I've got this one "Arturo

Fuente 8-5-8" that's been traveling in my carry-on for months now. Figured

it was a good time to put that guy to rest.
And I remembered why I like that specific brand and model number, it's that

good. Even when it's a little stale from having been every where.
Dallas is such a strange place. Weather's been great, and the State Fair is

happening - but I was trying to play it low-key. Not Loki.

Ever see Dallas

Dallas and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Got a one way ticket to midnight...
So weird, waiting on a ride to the airport, Joe Ely's version of that song was on the radio....
Cops - in Austin, an ambulance was at the Southwest outside baggage check. I scooted around and pretended I was going to fly American, just to make it easier. Plan worked, I avoided the crowds while they wheeled out some rock star who fainted from "exhaustion." The plane I was supposed to get on? It got held up while some rowdy passenger was escorted off the plane by two more police officers. Always comes in sets of three. At the airport in Dallas. Just weird, how it goes. There was a guy giving a little too much grief to the cops, and he was getting a little more than a ticket. Because the ticket was something about obstructing traffic, a fire truck had to show up, too.
Really nice thing about all of those cops, and other uniformed peace officers? Not a one of them was the least bit interested in me.
Looks like Mr. Mars and Old Man Uranus are starting to go their separate ways. How nice.
Plan one: train to and from Dallas. Advantages? Cheap. Disadvantage? Takes a while. Plan 2, fly to Dallas, drive back with Ma Wetzel. Her station wagon, according to her mechanic, won't make the trip. Plan Three, fly back, Sunday night. Plan 4, fly back Monday. Plan five, train back Monday.
For the parental units:
"Care is no cure but rather corrosive,

For things that not to be remedied."

Henry VI Part Uno, III.iii.3-4



Pamie and I started writing online journals about the same time. We both have books in print, although, I'm sure hers has a much catchier title. There's that. Plus hers is available on Amazon, and I've not made it that far.
While I was struggling to make this web page pay for itself, which, I should add, is an ongoing battle, one of the marketing theories I came across suggested that a good charity, some kind of altruistic marketing ploy was a killer way to get more publicity.
(Think: this program was paid for in part by a grant from "some big corporation" - like that'll ever happen here.)
Since then, I've looked at a number of possibilities. I've kicked around some ideas. Pamie/Squishy ran/runs a "book donation" deal for the Oakland Public Library.
That was a pretty cool idea. Organic and original, too. Plus, from a strictly marketing point-of-view, it was a huge success. Never mind that the library has also benefited from a number of "new - used" volumes that can be put into circulation. Plus added publicity for a just cause....
This goes back more years than I care to recount, but I've seen too many of the altruistic, "let's help them out" sponsorship package deals work out to be nothing more than straight up advertising.
Now that's a sticking point for me. Bothers my more refined and delicate sense of right and wrong. Troublesome ethics. It's that moral compass that I've got, and more than one of these "let's help out a not-for-profit" schemes looks to me to be more like a scam.
My favorite, the words I dearly love to laugh about, "a portion of all proceeds got to (insert charity name here)."
I've thought about doing that for years, and I've thought about different charities. But with a terribly thin profit margin around here, sometimes bleeding instead of rolling it in, I can't, with any kind of conscience, do something like that. I can't promise that a portion of every dollar spent here will go to (insert charity name here).
Some weeks, any income deposited goes to pay for the server, the bandwidth, or lunch. And then there are times when it's pretty thin. Good thing I've still got some Y2K canned goods hidden in the kitchenette.
When I was in London last week, I had a single $100 bill I changed into pounds-sterling. That the funny, English money they use over yonder. At the little cash kiosk, I got 5 Ten-pound notes plus some change. That C-note was all that I had left from a weekend of doing readings. Remember that exchange rate, two American dollars equal one English pound.
Now, let's look at my list of charities. Who do I tithe to? US Government. State of Texas. Travis County. Works out to about 10%, for state & county sales tax (in Texas, astrology readings are taxable goods). Federal income tax eats up another 10% - or greater, depending on the year's outlook.
(On my income tax, I should note that I make sure I don't donate $1 or $3 or whatever to the next Presidential race. As if.)
During the intermission - or interval - during the Monday night Midsummer show, the troop gathered in the theater's foyer for a little song and dance. They played and sang. Then they passed the bucket for a charity that takes acting classes to under-privileged school kids. That action, here in the States? "They target 'at risk' children."
"So far we've raised more than 13,000 pounds for (insert name of charity)."
As I recall, I had a few of those pound coins left over, and I tossed some in the bucket.
Got me to thinking, too, what group would I like to help?
When I reflected back and looked at 100+ pictures I'd taken, I came up with all the pointers indicating that I'd found a charity - more than that - a cause - that I could support.
Yeah, well, there's always a problem. Corporate sponsorships start in a range that I can't even begin to think about. I got to looking around at some of the individual plans, too, and the least expensive option, that really meant something to me, started at 200 pounds. Still too rich. Better yet, as the website suggests that there are still a few, limited, 1000 pound options open, Again, way out of my price range. But still a nice idea.
Best thing I can do right now? There's a link and a button on the biggest traffic spots I've got.
Go. Enjoy. Try theater the way it was originally intended.

Tell them bubba sent you.

I hate my own advice.

From my own Transit Report:

Exact on Sep 25

... there's an inherent danger of arrogance and recklessness, and, if you're not careful, a tendency to over-indulge in food and drink.

I was up really early Thursday morning with the cat making those horrendous & horrific hairball noises. On the pillow next to me.
Cat puke really isn't much of an issue around here, I don't normally let it bother me, but with my recent, wildly erratic sleeping patterns, that gut-wrenching upheaval really wasn't what I wanted to hear, not at 6 in the morning, not while it seemed to be still dark outside.
However, when I can, I make an effort to coddle the one who loves me the most. So I got up, stripped the soiled linen from the bed, fixed her some breakfast then fixed me some coffee.
I had a long walk, middle of the afternoon, supposedly to clear my head, but what happened instead was a series of phone calls. There was a "maybe" trip to Dallas - okay, so I'm ambling along with an ear bud in my ear - talking to family about business - waving my arms about and carrying on - just another freak on the trail.
Details are far from sorted out, but so far, I've got a ticket out of here Friday afternoon, and I'll be back sometime Monday. Or Tuesday, I suppose, it all depends.
I called up Bubba Sean because we were aiming for Sandy's for Thursday evening's meal, and when we finally connected, it was a simple, "yeah, I just got fired today," line.
Mars. Mars at zero degrees of Pisces, not moving in any direction too fast. Just hanging there, frying. Simmering in its own juices, so to speak. Makes a pejorative angle to someone with something work-oriented at zero degrees of Gemini.
I'm trying to rearrange a little here, and I had a stack of books to take to the used bookstore, hoping to make enough for dinner. As it turned out, I had a fine time chatting with the bookstore employees, ascertaining that the weirdest question they've heard is, "Who wrote Dante's Inferno?"
But my stack of books didn't garner enough for the dinner. Bubba Sean paid. Thursday night special, runs about $3. Burger, fries, drink. Since I was hoping for a decent sunset, I kept waiting. He bought a cone. We watched the traffic and discussed his current state of unemployment. During the time we were there, he took three calls on his phone, and two of those were people looking to possibly hire him.
The sunset never appeared, shaded by clouds that didn't turn into those brilliant backlit beauties we sometimes get. However, I did manage an interesting shot of the sign. Interesting to me, anyway. Ever since last summer, I've had an obsession with that neon.


Not so weird Wednesday trifecta.

Passed out cold Tuesday night, after being awake for nearly 24 hours, such is the rigors of chasing the sunset. Or jet-lag.
So I got up really early, checked the in box, went back to sleep, got up again, and sorted through the travel gear. I ambled off downtown, wearing my "Jerry Springer the Opera" shirt, a little ahead of the lunch rush, trying desperately to feel normal.
Mail box, post office, coffee shop, then, up and back over to my side of town, where I hit a Wednesday trifecta, working in lunch at Magnolia ("cool shirt, dude, that out, like, on DVD yet?"), back down to Jo's for a quick brew of espresso, then across the street to Amy's, for some Mexican Vanilla to float in that Jo's. ("cool shirt, you gotta tell me, is that for real?")
When I handed him the "frequent flyer" card for a stamp, just one more to go, I got a long-winded story about Cameron, his girl, and Capricorn's. Plus other juicy bits of gossip. See, they recognize each others' marks on the card, and when someone like me gets stamps at different stores, then there will be a message ("heart" Cam) from a scooper at a different store. Just weird, if you ask me. But normal, too, in the Austin afternoon course of events.
I've been home less than 24 hours, and I've already racked up a couple of phone readings. Not like I'm getting much of a beak from work, I'm back in the saddle again.

No, I didn't make it to Barton Spring, but I was hoping to. It's almost that warm, or warm enough, anyway, for a dip in the creek, if not a long soak in the Springs. That picture reminded me of the color of the water.

Rebels and such

The theme for Shakespeare's Globe's production, the cycle that I saw, was "Rivals." Richard III, arguably a superior performance, back to back with Taming of the Shrew - both about rivals. Richard II, also about a rivals and pretenders to the throne, as was Marlowe's Edward II. One of the better parts of actually being in the UK, though, is access to their media, the printed word. Newspapers. Tabloid British publications.
"Me wee mum" and I agreed to disagree on the papers we would read. I would opt for the Guardian, whereas she stuck with the Times.
(Stupid trivia, the typeface named "Times," where does it come from?)
In my baggage, I found a Guardian article I'd saved, a long and eloquent piece about the late Johnny Cash.
It was in their "Friday Review" dated 19.09.03 -
Apparently, it was also one of Cash's last interviews. Good, good stuff. Rebel to the end. I'm in awe of the way the Brits eulogized an American icon.
Home again.

I got searched going through security before the UK departure. I was trying to find a way to phrase it, but I kept to myself, during the search, all the while, thinking things like, "Last time I got patted like that, we did a lot more than kiss...."
It's a cultural difference, I would suppose. While I would trot out (or cantor) a Texas Twang whenever it required, by the end of the trip, I'd remembered that the dry, British sentiments don't always respond well to our sweeping, western ways.
Kinky Friedman, the scholar, the scribe, once noted that, "It doesn't matter if your destination is heaven or hell, if you're flying in Texas, you'll go through Dallas." Arrived at gate A-2. Connected out of Gate C-36.
How is this better? Last time? It was gate C-38, even further. We're making some progress here. Same terminal would be a dream, but at least the gates are getting a little closer together.
Monday night, if I get chance to search for this I will, that Midsummer's Night's Eve production was rather astounding and amazing.
It was roughly a dozen males, playing all the parts. The words came out the way they were intended, or so I'm guessing. Probably much like the way it was done about 400 years ago, on the other side of the river.
It was a simple stage, and when the curtain went up a few minutes early, all the players assembled on the stage, all dressed in white, to me it looked like they were all just wearing long johns. I was thinking, "Stinking experimental theater."
The play's the thing, and when Hermia entered and started speaking, I was in love. No, I wasn't in love with the actor, good lord, not that at all. I was in love with the character. The actor was a short guy with sharp features, and like other actors playing female roles, he donned a corset to make him appear vaguely female. Which didn't really appeal, but the way he acted his part, that's where I felt the growing sense of love in my heart. Something about an Adam's apple bobbing up and down that really doesn't speak to me about physical attraction. But that boy sure could play Hermia's role. Sweet, demure, ever so attached to Lysander and all this much against the will of her father plus the king of Athens, who sides with her Hermia's father.
The other one who was really, really good, was the guy doing Helena. Oh, the way it works, Lysander is in love with Hermia, and Hermia is a promised to Demetrius, who claims to have once loved Helena, but now Demetrius loves Hermia, but Helena still stoically, stupidly, comically loves Demetrius.
The guy playing Helena had her down cold. What's better, and I've seen this play a half dozen times, what was so nice, the way the actors worked through the verse, rhyming their way through the text? It all made perfect sense, the prose was clear, the plot was sublime, and the actors have obviously studied foolish mortals.
It's hard to add slapstick to Shakespeare. There's a bit in 12th Night that can be amusing, but it's around Act IV, in Midsummer, where the two guys are both chasing Helena, much to her discontent, because she only liked the one guy when he had his eyes on another, and the resulting scene was too good.
The slapstick was like a carefully choreographed martial arts scene. Timing was impeccable. The four actors pegged it perfectly, with everyone flying around all confused about who loves whom.
There was one or two moves, one in particular, using suspenders, that seemed to be lifted straight out of classical film, burlesque slapstick, from the really old days.
Dollar for dollar, point for point, as much as I loved dear Hermia in the first three acts, in the last two acts, I will dig out more material from Helena. That guy playing her had the perfect comic touch. She - the character - was so over-wrought.
Helena of Athens with, for three and half acts, unrequited love for Demetrius.
To see a guy with distinctly thinning hair and an odd, misshapen corset doing the "damsel in distress" so well....
I couldn't help but giggle about it as I traveled.
The most disturbing portion of my trip? Finding out that I didn't have the complete set of text files for Midsummer. I mean, I usually carry all the files on the laptop, just for a reference.
Got home and found this in the mail box. Rather liked it, but I'm jet-lagged all to hell and back. I'm not sure I know my own name.
One more item about that play, Midsummer's Night's Eve, as I recall, in the beginning, the King is talking about the new moon being only four days away... Monday night, the new moon was about four days away, just a little touch of magic - real magic - or so it seemed.
Crazy pig

Skull rings that rock.


Quick, history: London Bridge, the. "Even London's bridge has fallen down and moved to Arizona..." (London Homesick Blues, Gary P. Nunn.) Next oldest bridge? Westminster. Here's the view. And I have no idea what it represents. The dome is St. Paul's.

Devil's beating his wife - Shaftsbury Avenue, Monday afternoon....
So there I was, trying to find a place that had a catchy name, it was specialty store, and I was looking for it, only, when I did find it, it turns out, their specialty? Skull rings. You know, skull and crossbones, skulls with ruby eyes, skulls with nothing but a grinning death mask?
While I found some of them rather fetching, I mean, I even tried on one ring that was almost perfect for me, I just don't see that going with my usual attire. Of course, a grinning skull with ruby eyes would make such a darling bolo tie, too.
So I ambled back out into the afternoon, noting that there was sunlight, plus, a few drops of rain. Plus a downpour. Rain falling down through the sunlight, a fitting backdrop for Shaftsbury Ave. Only, I didn't I have anyone to turn to, and comment, "Look, the Devil's beating his girlfriend."
I stood under a bus stop, but since I didn't have a clue as to where I was going, or maybe, I didn't know where the buses were going, I decided to stick to tried and true methods for getting around. It's a short walk down the one avenue to a tube stop that I know will deliver me, in two stops or less, to where I was going.
Midsummer Night's Dream is always a favorite - one of those plays that gets lots of mileage, all the time. One last play, on the last night.
What an amazing performance by the Propeller Group. Abut a dozen males, doing all the parts, and the way they dealt with the verse itself, sheer magnificence.
It's time to get on an airplane and head my self back home.
No Zen classes

not held here

every other Thursday.



All my buddies in Austin were cooking along with the ACL music fest. I was cooking along under a retrograde Mars, a retrograde Mercury, enjoying myself in the big, old city. Old city. Way old city. Very way old city. Confusing, way old city. Confusing and odd city. Odd and old, but mostly odd.
Keep this in perspective, those two planets are backwards, right? Right. Plans? I had none. Zero expectations. I mean, a big-fat-nada-zero-expectations. London's had a spate of weather wherein it's been rather unseasonably warm. Me in shorts and sandals? Perfect. Walking weather without breaking so much as a mild sweat. However, to a number of the residents and denizens, plus the gaggle of tourists, it's been tough. Plus, it's not like they have that whole "air-conditioned comfort" thing all worked out. They call this the seat of civilization? How can one be civilized without air conditioning? Isn't that prerequisite? None of this bothers me. I'm onto a new theory, that's why they lost the Empire, God Save the Queen, hey, I'm genuflecting here: no AC.
I started out in one direction caught a different train and wound up back at the River Thames, the Westminster Station, and I asked a helpful-looking attendant what the strangest tourist question has been.
'Ow, we get these types who come up and stand right under the sign and ask, "Is this Westminster?" No, we just put these signs up to confuse you.'
I chuckled, thanked him for helping me, and wandered off. I was trying to capture the right elements for a photo-op. Dali's "Time" sculpture with Big Ben shadowing it.
I tried, but none of the shots seemed to work out.
No harm, no foul, it's all just digital ink.

From there, I hopped a tube back towards someplace, intending to hit Marble Arch Station, because no trip to London is complete without an image of Marble Arch Station, made famous by Gary P. Nunn's "London Homesick Blues."
And then I got back on the tube, noticing a station called, "Mornington Crescent," (it's on the Northern Line).
Here's the tough part, I can't remember where that station's name is mentioned in literature. But it is. I'm pretty sure. Maybe. Think so. Anyway, I decided to hop over there, switched trains someplace and wound up looking at the tube station for Mornington Crescent. Why I bothered to go there, I'll never know. I still can't remember which book it's in, or why I felt compelled to go there and take a picture.

Now the fun began. I was originally headed for the Museum of London because they have display of Sam Pepys material. And Pepys was a prototypical 'blogger' or 'journal writer.' Do the math, he's years ahead of the Victorians.
So I wanted to check that out; however, getting south from that ill-fated tube stop that I can't remember why I went there in the first place, going to anyplace else, seemed destined to not happen, I mean, I got on and off trains for the next two hours, finally winding up at some station - I don't know where - determined to just walk from here, or there, if need be - because there was construction on one line which meant that all east-west, or maybe it was north-south, or was it the Circle Line - that might've been it, going around in circles wasn't possible - couldn't get here from there, at least, not without going to the surface and at that point, I wasn't sure which way I was going anyway because underground, it all looks the same, they call them "east" wand "west" lines like that makes any sense, how can you tell directions without a sun and moon, and lord knows, there's no real light underground.
The sun was to my left, and I ambled off in that direction because I recognized one of the street names, and I knew that London-proper, really isn't very big, and I was well within the confines of the original city walls. I think. I walked for no more than a block when I stumbled, almost literally, into the British Library. Oh yeah, I meant to be here. I was meaning to come here anyway - always make it look like it was planned.
Jane Austen's writing desk, looks like she used A5 paper, and a really early copy of Love's Labours Lost (1598?).
An hour later, I wandered back to the amazing labyrinth of tube destinations, made a blind choice, and wound up some place near the Museum of London. Another good call, on my part. Like I planned it. Yeah, go with that idea.
Pepys material was displayed, including one of the original diaries, or rather good facsimile. That and the inkwells were about all that really held my interest. His shorthand has held up pretty well, and he displays remarkable penmanship, I mean, expecting much more than a single letter out of me is a little ridiculous.
Everyone has their 'spot' in museums of the world. Mine is down in the Museum of London's 'Roman' section, where there's some recent archeology (last 50 years? I'm trying to recall what it said.) It's what's left of temple from the cult of Mithras. There was a center medallion in the building, about a foot or so in diameter, had all 12 signs of the zodiac, pretty clear, carved out around the edge. But I was urged not to take any pictures. And to be honest, I can't use that usual retort, 'I've been thrown out of nicer places than this!' So I left my camera in my pocket. But I really do want a picture of that medallion. There was also a picture of Mr. Mercury, sitting on a bag of money. I hope the current Mr. Mercury brings me a bag of money, too.
Also part of the Temple of Mithras, there was a river god. I was liking that guy, only, I was worried that he might confuse the River Styx with the Thames.
From the museum, I wandered back towards St. Paul's. I passed, three or four churches, at least one claimed to be over a 1,000 years old, and I wandered down towards Mary Le Bow. Church. As I got closer, there was the usual trappings of a movie set, the mobile catering, the dozens of buses, big cables snaking out of a portable generator. Don't know and I didn't bother to ask. Didn't care.
Back to St. Paul, back underground, and back towards home. I got out at Covent Garden or Lester Square, I'm not sure. I wound up in the Seven Dials area, which is misnamed, because there's only one dial but seven streets come together, and navigation, even with the aid of the then-setting sun, it's still confusing. And that's with ideal conditions. Wait, these were ideal conditions.
The weather? What can I suggest? It has been a dream come true. Warm enough to warrant shorts, cool enough to let my hair down, nice enough for lots of outdoor walking - sort of a requirement in London.
I stopped off at Hatchard's, booksellers since 1797, and I wandered in and amongst their three or four floors. As I made a selection and carried it down to the checkout counter, I asked the counter girl what the weirdest question from tourist had been.
'"How do you spell ISBN?" No, really, some guy wanted to know how to spell ISBN.'
I got that one down. ISBN is spelled, 1-4116-0156-4 ...
Ma Wetzel, sweet Scorpio that she is, insisted on a good dinner. So we wandered off in the darkening twilight, and found ourselves at one of those fancy places. She likes it when they have linen napkins. I'm not sure she was so hot on the Italian 'no speaking good English' waitress. Dinner was fine. Dessert was divine. It was a traditional, English dessert of Sticky Toffee Pudding. Ma Wetzel suggested one dessert and two fork, and I suggested she order her own, and that way no one's feeling would get hurt about who had more.
She ate the whole thing. In fact, she finished before me. This from 'me wee Scorpio mum.'
Yeah right.

Opera & Elizabethan Theatre

Jerry Springer - the Opera was abolutely the funniest thing I've seen in years. Real opera, make no mistake about that. I mean, real opera, a chorus, a gods, a journey to the underworld, and a certain word that should get beeped out. In fact, that's most of the lyrics in at least one song. Might be all the lyrics, I was too amused to keep track.
Early in Act I or maybe Act II, there's the usual component of a Springer show, and the song's lyrics, belted out true opera style? "He said she said they said." Or something like that. Just loved it. It was about a guy who was engaged to one girl, then sleeping with her best friend plus sleeping with another - person - of indeterminate gender. Chicks with, oh, never mind.
It was funny. Very funny.
There's the KKK, too, and then, Jerry gets shot. He winds up in Hell. Journey to the underworld, remember? Got to have that element. Besides, anyone who's seen the TV show would agree that it's a fitting end. Of course, that was just the "interval."
Between shows, I stopped by "Heads Rule Hearts," and purchased a nappy hat for Sister. I just liked the name of the place, more than needing to purchase anything, just a cool little shop for hats.
Dinner with Ma Wetzel, as she was seeing more modern stuff and agreed that she really didn't need to see that opera a second time, wherein we had some kind of French cuisine. But it was Scottish, estate-bred, non-blended beef. Good stuff.
Then I wandered further down the river's edge, back to the Globe again, and I took in a Marlowe's Edward II.
I don't know much about Marlowe, but from a copy of the play, the introduction included this one line about how, "Nothing in Marlowe's life immortalised him like the leaving of it."
It's all about Edward II (well, obviously) and his sycophants, his wife, murder, treason, revolt, and overthrow. Ascension. Whatever.
Damn good play, and excellent acting, near as I can tell. During one interval, a lad was "holding forth," and he seemed quite critical. Sure, there are a few points about the Globe that are not wholly accurate. The stage, even to me, seems a little larger, and the "heavens" stretch a bit farther out than the old Globe, presumably. For my money, though? It has the right "feeling."

I'm not sure it's going to be visible in the small, web version of the picture, but there might be me - in shorts - shirt tied around my waist - reflected in the poster's glass.

Three Naked Women (& and some Shakespeare)

Friday dawned, apparently, cool and crisp. I'd taken the airline earplugs and for a change, I'd had one good night's sleep, bereft of any interruptions. Didn't even hear the last of the Jubilee Line's trains pass under the flat.
So I dressed in jeans, boots and nice shirt, and headed out. Picked up a couple of papers, looks like I was 100% accurate when I told my friend in NC that she was going to see a hurricane soon.
Halfway through Richard II, the lady sitting next to me asked me what I thought of the play so far. Shakespeare's Richard II (the first in the teratology that goes R II, Henry IV part Uno, part Dos, Henry V), as it was performed, the way the lead actor played out the role, King Richard was tortured soul, and for my money, he played a tortured soul better than Hamlet. Plus there's a wealth of material I can mine from the play's poetry. Eloquent speeches, rendered as a perfect as can be, with the language falling trippingly from the tongue.
Overheard, after the play was done, one patron was remarking that her version of English History was much muddled by Shakespeare, "where all the right people die or get killed at the right time."
I stopped off at the National Theatre long enough to pick up requisite "merch." I voiced my disappointment that the single design for "Jerry Springer: the Opera" shirts was kind of lame, just a small logo over the front left pocket area. The counter help pointed out that there was a Latin inscription on the back, but no one in the shop knew what it meant.

N. Girlaldius Oriundus MMIII
I'll figure it out when I've got faster net access, or, at least, some books handy.
Chatted with Ma Wetzel for a moment, killed off half a pint of ice cream and a sandwich, and headed back out, over to the Tate Modern.
I keep a journal, mostly online, so I can remember exactly when and where something happened. I was riding on the escalator, going up to the top floor when I saw one of the gallery's title included some more Salvador Dali. I just headed on in. Mark Rothko, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock.
It was a couple years ago here that I learned to love Jackson Pollock. This time, it was one of those little museum blurbs:
"Space - in particular, landscape space - was an essential element of the surrealist imagination."

- Jennifer Mundy, Inner Worlds

Landscape, space, wide-open spaces, surrealism, - I live in Texas. Look. We - Texans - are the masters of the surrealist environment. We live in one all the time.
Time and again, I'm drawn back to the erotic, bizarre, and just plain weird images that Dali did. Couldn't figure it out until I saw blurb put it into words. Landscape. Space.
And some weirdness, too.
On the tube ride back to the flat, a guy with a suit jacket and a purple Mohawk passed me. "London's a bit strange?" Not really. I can recall being in a bar in Texas, listening to the grandson of Hank Williams. Three guys with Mohawks were there; one was purple.
So the Surrealists make sense, finally.
Now, one of the last paintings I spent any time with was one of three of Picasso's women. The section was supposedly nudes. I spent the most time looking at those naked Picasso women. Three naked women. One was actually a brunette, but I had to expend a little effort, sort of looking at the painting sideways, and I could see her, in all her parts. Then I started to think about work, and how I look at some clients like a Picasso painting, all bits and pieces without a lot of conventional perspective.
The Picasso paintings were about the best part. Basically, I was looking at three naked women, but you know, they were all down Picasso style. Just looking at life from different point of view.

I was going to try and get a shot of the Dali "Time" sculpture again, with Big Ben as a backdrop. Whoever arranged that installation probably had that very image in mind. But the camera's battery died, so here another Dali animal.
"And so now to bed."

Duck fajitas

I'm sure I'll offend someone with this, but you know, it sure was good.
I've passed by the "Dragon Inn" several times. Prominent location in London's China Town.

12 Gerrard Street London W1D 5PR
There's the "new fook moon" place, an all-new feng shui cafe, but Dragon Inn is a venerable, traditional place. Been there a while. I'm still unclear of how I wound up there on Thursday night, but after settling in the "prix-fix" menu thing, the first course was that crispy duck fajita. Sure, they've got another name for it, but I still like my appellation better. Besides, who knows, I could easily see duck fajitas catching on as a culinary craze in the American Southwest.
Feast Day of St. Januarius

Third Century bishop. Patron saint of blood - banks. Donate a pint for the needy?
I took in the Shakespeare Globe's production of "The Taming of the Shrew," and what a rousing performance that was. All female cast. Adds a certain, ahem, depth of irony to the lines of that play. Points I should look up, does Petruchio really call his dog Troilus? After the show, I loitered about a bit and asked a steward what the weirdest question was she'd ever gotten.
"Little lad was in, wanting to know when we'd finish the place, you know, put a roof on it."
Seemed to be a lot helicopters in the air Thursday afternoon, and the players all would take time, glance heavenwards, and make grimacing noises. Funny update to Elizabethan play-acting.

On my way over to the theatre, as I was ambling south from the Embankment tube station, I noticed that there was this huge mural, being painted, on the sidewalk below. I snapped a couple of quick shots.
Then, after a rousing performance, not quite as good as Richard, but pretty fun - especially with the ironic twist of an all-female cast - I stopped and chatted with the artist. She was just busking. No big deal, doing one kind of art to support another.
For taking time to chat with me, and since I did take a picture, I tossed a pound coin in her basket. Support the independent arts, you know.

Weird Wednesday

Dali. "Richard the Third." Stardust Motel.
The only connection between two of those items, Dali and Shakespeare's Richard III, is geographic. Both were along the south side of the Thames, one in a galley, and the other in the "new" Globe Theatre.
Dali quotes, along the wall, leading into the exhibition:
"The least one can ask of a sculpture is that it does not move."
"Modesty is not my specialty."
"What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it."
On display, as part of the collection was a backdrop done for the movie "Spellbound." Plus, there was my favorite, the original "lobster phone," which was a 1938 - I might have this all wrong - Telephone Homard.
(That what my sparse notes indicate, anyway.)
Outside, there was a big version of Dali's Time. Just love the melting timepieces, even better with me running Austin time.

A little further, there's a building off the river, with a series of inscriptions, about halfway up - the names of the Muses.

I wandered down the "whatever they call it" walk, the south shore of the river. The new Globe is a reconstructed version of the original Globe Theatre, I'm guessing a hundred meters or so away from the original location. I had a "seat" in what I would usually decry as a nosebleed section, but with the warm Sun of York, cloudless day, up there, a the merest hint of breeze felt good. Wandering around the ground before the show started, I happened across the strangest sight - Roswell, NM Shakespeare Club. Brick donated by aliens?

The play itself was remarkable. All female cast, apparently, but the strength, bless their souls for supporting the lead, was the person who played Richard the bad guy. The bottled spider. The hunchback toad. The misshapen dwarf. The really bad guy. "When bad people do bad things."
He/she lurched onto to stage at the beginning, delivered the opening chorus bit, and lurched through the whole play, hamming it up, winking and nodding to the audience, and playing the audience better than I played a fish on the end of my line, just last weekend.
Amazing performance. Particular to this production, mind you, I've seen this play a half dozen times, in one form or another, was Richard. What a dick she was!
This is also why, no matter how many times I've read a play, why this form of theatre has to be seen on a stage like this. I was third floor, up in the clouds. Well, no clouds, but way up there. However, the character lurching, dissembling, wooing and killing so many folks? I felt like she was addressing me - personally - on more than one occasion. Spectacular.
On a stage with groundlings and all. Playing to the audience, or, in one scene, bringing the audience into the play. Quite possibly, the way it was written.
I got all excited at dinner, too, Cafe Fish. The managing company is called "Live Bait." I thought it was sign.
Back towards the flat, I stopped at a bookstore to fill up my suitcase with treasures, British humor and other tomes just not regularly available in the States. One item caught my eye. The cover for the British/UK edition of Neil Gamien's American Gods, there was a very familiar image: Stardust Motel. The book's cover shot was taken from across the highway, on a stretch of lonely road, just at the western edge of Marfa, Texas. Freaked me out, "Hey," I thought, "that's my image."

Birthday of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Another good Virgo. Might make it by his place.
Got in, had "computer issues," which, to be frank, are probably just as much a part of operator error and trying to tie into some net connection as it is anything else. Cause? Jet lag. Or an extremely short night, or gaining 6 plus hours overnight.
But after I got my feet under me, and I strolled out the door, London was alive. The weather was balmy, actually warmer than Austin, and I slipped into shorts and sandals for the afternoon while I poked around. Eventually headed to Piccadilly Circus, up Shaftsbury Avenue, into China town, and I lost Ma Wetzel there. She was vacillating between a show and shopping.
I just wanted to wander some.
I got asked for directions, twice. Three times, if you count the first moment in the car park (parking garage at the airport), and I never will understand why folks think I have a clue. I can point where we are on map, in a general sense, but that's about it.
But I did get down to the Embankment tube stop, hoofed it over the pedestrian bridge, and then ambled along the river's edge up to Westminster, and another tube ride back to the flat.
Eavesdropping snippets of conversation, amazing for someone like me, with my love of language and accents. Spanish-Spanish , not the border patois I'm used to, sometimes referred to as Mexican Spanish. Italian. German. Cockney slang. At least three different levels of English. The odd mid-western - and flat - American accent floating by. A couple of French guys, under a Dali statue of Time, "Can you take our picture please?"
To misquote a famous actor & director, "How an you walk these streets and not know that you've been here before?"

Requisite Big Ben shot.

Feast Eve of St. Lambert

St. Lambert was a 7th Century Flemish patron of surgeons. Which has exactly what to do with what? Nothing.
In the Austin airport, there is, perhaps the finest disclaimer I've ever seen, I mean, it actually made sense. A little plaque, outside the changing station/room in the men's restroom:
"Do not leave children unattended."
Why did that make sense? Pretty easy to visualize, while I was standing there, taking care of my business, in my mind's eye, I could easily see a guy popping in to change his kid's diaper, or nappy, as it's called in England, then remembering something, and wandering off to the airport bar for drink, forgetting the kid there.
It could happen - hence the very valid need for that sign.
Today's soundtrack: pick something from Pink Floyd's canon. "Animals" comes to mind.
From yesterday's Daily Express, a quote of a quote, attributed to film maker, Gus Van Sant, "Shakespeare invented the psychology of the character, who becomes responsible for his actions, rather than the action happening from outside in a classical sense." (page 14)

Austin, final moments

There always has to be one last minute tale before I leave:
It's a late afternoon flight, so I had a little extra time to kill before I changed into long pants and boots for the airport and trip outbound.
I headed downtown, then straight up congress Avenue, shirt in hand, on the phone with Sister, as there had been a late-breaking development.
"I am so not coming to Texas. We just won 'Best of the Fringe' and I'm rather busy. I can't believe this."
So I'm listening, trying to interject, but in a few hours, I'll be at the airport and basically unavailable except by email, when, out of the clear blue sky, I hear someone calling my name.
"Kramer! Kramer! Put a shirt on! You cannot wander downtown with no shirt on!"
One woman yelling in one ear, another yelling in the other ear, sure, life is interesting.
I stopped, we chatted, I had some lunch with my client, and we're agreeing to agree on some business we might do later.
Lunch was interrupted three times by calls from Sister.
The good news? False alarm. Just a little missed communication with one person, resulting in panic. No harm, no foul.
Mercury, remember?
The client? Capricorn. The waitress, who was suddenly interested in astrology questions and answers? Capricorn.
Big trip

I'm not sure I'm ready, but I'll just have to be as ready as I can be. Off to "merry olde Englande" for a spell. With Ma Wetzel, of course.
Plans include a fair dose of Shakespeare on stage, which I've been needing for a spell now. Plus there's the one opera I've wanted to see, too.
Good gossip? I hope so.
Things to do before I leave? Back everything up. I mean, everything, In duplicate. In case the unthinkable should occur. Plus, make sure all the columns are ready for the upcoming few weeks, just in the event I sidetracked with activities. England being place of letters and books, and me, being a person who likes letters and books....
It could happen.
Or I might spend the off time in the next week, hanging out in Starbucks, using wireless connectivity to stay in touch.
Mercury and Mars are still retrograde, the Moon is narrowing in appearance, and life is a little tense in some places. Good time for a break.
Flying times.


Dark side of the Rainbow.
The hypothesis states that Pink Floyd's album, Dark Side of the Moon, was cut to fit The Wizard of Oz video. Movie.
Does it work? The Alamo did it as a regular feature downtown. Short walk. Pleasant evening. Good pizza.
Excellent music.
Interesting theory. Sort of works. Sort of doesn't, as there are certain elements of synchronicity, moments when the sounds and songs tie together in weird and wonderful ways.
But as a hypothesis? I'm not buying it.
Home of the big fish

My fishing buddy was making idle conversation, "So I got your email the time stamp was 11:45 PM...."
I came, I saw, I fished. I felt much better for the exercise.
Funniest fish story? The recent rain, like Thursday evening, filled the lake up pretty good and there was a mess of messy hydrilla floating. So I kept catching those water weeds.
I was hauling in, at one point, what I thought was a fairly large chunk of water weed, and as I reeled it closer to the boat, I noticed that there was something stuck in the mess of vegetation. Small fish. Not bad.
"That's like a salad and an entree."
The last fish if the day, we'd moved out to deeper water, working along a grass line, and I was attempting to let the bait sink a little lower. I thought I'd hooked some more water weeds when it started to "walk" in a different direction. Waterweeds don't usually swim upstream.
"Now that's a nice fish."


Screw you

"I got on my cowboy boots, jeans

And Hawaiian shirt, mirrored sunglasses

And a mobile phone

I guess I look like some Port Aransas

Dope dealer that's out on bail

Just trying to get home"

(opening lyrics to Ray Wylie's final cut, latest album)
I took one look out the trailer's window Friday morning, thought about how cold it would in be airplanes and airports, and pulled on jeans and boots for the firs time, for the first time in a while.
Predawn airport cab ride: "Look, I'm a conservative Republican but Rick Perry has his eyes on Washington, and he doesn't care who he steps on to get there from here. And Dewhurst?"
Lively political discussion with the driver. We both mourned the passing of Johnny Cash.
I'd forgotten, but Southwest provides free doughnuts, if you arrive early enough. I did. I bit into the delicious, sugary concoction, and something tickled my memory, I queried the counter agent, "These are Roundrock Doughnuts?"
Sure enough.
It was sunny and nice everywhere but Austin. I left wearing boots and jeans, dressed, I thought appropriately.
The Rocky Mountain cordillera, visible in the morning light - New Mexico awakening.
Canyon lands, Arizona, state since 1912?
Popping through AZ always reminds me, I was in school here, what? A decade ago? From the air, all I can make out is the stadium. The old college, just west of downtown, that campus is visible for a moment. Then gone. The University east of the airport, there too.
The moon is one full sign apart from full. Harvest.
"Is Mercury Retrograde? When it is, all I do is give them a little psychological breast milk."
It was an "astrologically aware" passenger, reading magazine called This month in practical psychiatry or some similar title.
"Had to be in person," I was assured.
"You'll need two kinds of ID." I whipped out my Texas Drivers License and my fishing permit. And a minister card. And an old press pass. Finally, I showed my passport. What was so funny, is that this document has been notarized and signed, three-four times now. It's crisscrossed the country twice. More than me, even.
Sister was running late. I spent almost fifteen minutes curbside at OAK. Then we dashed downtown, dashed through Peets, dashed to our appointed meeting, dashed back to her place, dashed to Peet's again, dashed off and scarfed a quick burger, and then dashed off to the airport. In Gemini fashion, she was balancing me, the appointment, our business, her business, one or two of her performers being, well, performers, and me. Plus Sister had to make sure I had some Peet's chocolate-covered espresso beans for Ma Wetzel. In and out in under three hours. For a ten-minute meeting.
"A three hour tour."
I got a burger and then, Sister offered to split the airfare with me. "Free ticket," I reminded her, "frequent flyer miles."
"So 'free' means I don't owe you a thing? Right?"
Wetzel logic.
"No, dear Sister, you owe me a trip to Texas."
We were in Peet's, which I happen to think is the finest coffee in the world, and we wanted to get a shot together, proof that I was there.
It didn't come out quite right, I think the Taurus guy taking the picture was a little shaky, too much coffee? And this one shot, with a "look" on my face like some one just made a bad smell? I can't recall, but she's smiling and I'm looking disgusted. I wonder who just....

Weird Thursdays lead to

A jet-set lifestyle.
So after much wrangling, I finally lost the throw. It was almost cute, too. I sat down to do reading at Magnolia South. Client was running late - paid for lunch - overpaid me for taking so long, too. During the reading, one, two, three Gemini's call me on my cell phone. One of the calls was Sister.
We have a crisis. Not like a major crisis, it's just that we both have to be physically present at the same time, in the same location, in front of an official. Takes all of about ten minutes. Ten minutes of paperwork, where we are both present.
Ten minutes. Maybe less. Both of us. She's on the Left Coast - I'm on the Third Coast.
She has a busy schedule, and I'm fixing to leave the country for a few days. I'm scheduled for fishing on Saturday morning, weather permitting, a much-needed excursion.
She's got one show running, and rehearsing for one, writing another that's going to open in a month or six weeks....
"And I've got a photo shoot tomorrow afternoon at 2," she was explaining.
Time difference between Austin and SF Bay? 2 hours. Red-eye from Austin puts me in long before noon, then turnaround on the afternoon flight, gets back here before midnight.
Yee-haw. Three hours in downtown SF.
Then, back at Magnolia, in wandered another Gemini. Counts up to four, for the afternoon.
Me and Sister, we tried various solutions, but in the end, there's just no getting around it. We have to both be there. Or here. And she can't come here right now, and I have exactly one day when I'm not booked solid. My turn to hop.
This trip would be entirely out of the question, time-wise, expense-wise, except for one or two details. I have one Southwest free round trip ticket left. I have no place I was planning to be on Friday, other than hoping for a swim in Barton Creek.
Makes me question my priorities. Family is important. Sunrise at a Texas lake, pole in hand is also important.
When I called the airline for reservations, I was making polite chatter, "Let me guess, you're in the call center in Phoenix, right?"
No, Heather was in OKC.
"Hey, I just saw a movie the other night, about fishing in Oklahoma, called Okie Noodling, good film."
Was it about noodling? Sound track by the Flaming Lips? Heather asked
"Yeah, yeah, that's the one!"
Her boyfriend helped on it. Or was in it. Or did sound. Something.
"It's good movie, at least, I liked it."
She - they - had a copy of it. Said she'd watch it some time.
It's just after a nasty full moon - the question is: can I make back in time to fish?

two years ago today

"Devil's beating his wife"

Got a couple of Virgo's who need some good news. Happy birthday. Dude.
This week's scopes were written at a time when I was trying to delicately balance the onerous weight of war, retribution and justice against writing about news that's hopefully uplifting and happy. More or less. As happy as anyone can be when the planets are in evil disarray.
It was my second trip to the post office, and I was sure that I had everything right, this time around. I had two pieces of paper that needed to go to Sister, overnight. Plus, her schedule, she's got one performance ongoing, and she's in rehearsal for two more shows, one of which, as I understand it, isn't even written yet.
So, to make it easier, I dropped a "self-addressed, stamped envelope" back in the package. I'm not sure, but it was worth a try.
Looked like a bright morning, then it turned sour, then it rained. Right after I left the post office. The clerk, I was joking with the guy, he claimed he washed his car that very morning, so I knew I could pin the rain on him. I stepped outside, shrugged out of my shirt, and started back down towards the river. Just in time for the downpour.
I had this urge to call someone, just about anyone, while I was watching the rain come down, with sunlight beaming all around me. I was standing under big tree in Republic Square, fighting the urge to just call someone, anyone.
Vague recollections from the day, as I was going to head over to the creek until I got thoroughly soaked by the sudden downpour: the smell of rain about to happen, the sudden steamy feeling as soon as the rain lets up, seeing a dry route through the rain, alongside a parking garage.
Watching as the streaming rain came down through a series of gutters from the street, where the trail passes alongside Shoal Creek.
By the time I reached the far side of the pedestrian bridge, though, the rain had pretty much stopped. Sister wasn't out of rehearsal yet, so I couldn't call and alert her to incoming package and contents.
There was a cadre of "economically challenged" males ambling along a side street, happy the rain let up.. They let out a decent "hello," and one of them gestured, "It's my birthday!" Then he held up a soggy cardboard sign, "Traveling through, need help, it's my birthday, god bless!"

Two meat Tuesday

Which, I dunno, is starting to reach "tradition" status, well, almost. I suppose I should come up with just two meaty topics for the day. But two themes? Got two of them, but they ain't the least bit intertwined. Virgo & catfish. Which resulted in a befuddled software engine.
I fired the scopes off early, and I like bouncing the scopes out on a bright Tuesday morning. No sooner did I hit the send button, but what did I find ? One more typographical mistake. Darn. Then the mail from the Virgo sector started to pile up.
While I can quote exactly, I much prefer my version, a combination of the notes I got, "What did you leave out of the Virgo scope?"
Nothing. The advice is in the last line.
I was a bit at odds. I'm tired of "Mercury and Mars are backwards, 'oh woe is me' stories." I wanted an escape. I was undressed and ready for a quiet evening, maybe curled up with a book and the cat, when I checked the Alamo Drafthouse site and found an interesting movie about fishing.
Couple of points, and the short blurb from the Alamo's site is gone, but in its review, the author suggested that the folks in the movie were treated with dignity and respect. In part, I'd agree. The audience last night laughed at some of it, but think about it, grappling with 40 or 50-pound catfish? Wrestling it ashore with bare hands? Just exactly what kinds of folks partake of such a sport?
Partway through the movie, there's a mention of a book, Noodling for Flatheads, and that's where the fun really starts.
The movie itself was pretty good. There's interesting scenery, and the editing was quick enough to hold my attention. So were the fish. Chance of me ever grappling with a catfish? Think about that for second. I like being in the boat or on the shore, nothing in between those two, thanyouverymuch.
My poor, little brain was swimming with visions of a 50-pound catfish, half as tall as me, when I crossed the bridge, coming home. (Retrograde) Mars and the Moon, especially the moonlight reflecting off the surface of the lake, were rising in the east. I had a long list of textbooks to plug into that web page I'm working on, so I figured I had a little work cut out for me.
I hopped up on Amazon, and started plugging in textbooks for the client. I had a long series of books like this, in other words, esoteric Judiac theological, philosophical tracts. Back-to-back with a book about noodling.
Can't wait to see how the "Amazon recommends" reconciles those searches with a combination of titles.
Catfish. That movie is really pretty damn good. Short, just about an hour, and it is done with certain respect for the local color and the folks involved in that kind of activity.
However, it didn't leave me with any desire to actually try noodling myself, at least, not that form of it.

Web works

I'm doing a quick website, a 'throw-away' site - for hire - of course -
What's fun, to me, is that this site that I'm doing? All modern, all done with cascading style sheets. Which, in effect, is really pretty cool. Took me a while to wrap my brain around it, but when starting from scratch, it's going to be a simple site for an event, just a few pages, it just works so nicely.
It was, for a change, just a pleasure to get all this started out the right way. Built from scratch, with a Gemini pushing herself to exhaustion, talking a mile-a-minute into the phone. It's a long-distance thing.

After whacking away at the web project, nothing like a little project to keep me happy for a spell, I got sidetracked looking for a Hebrew font to install and use. Turns out, this system already has one installed, I just couldn't figure out how to use it. Need it for an inscription. The bad news? Two hours wasted wading through technical specs and sites about mac crap. The good news? All billable to the client. The downside? I still haven't figured it all out. I'm waiting on that light bulb to spark. Usually, a little stroll helps.
I took a break, and headed out for a little bit of what I thought would be heaven. Big paper cup filled with diet coke, hotlink and stale bun from a convenience store, slathered in cheap, yellow mustard.
But after one series of frustrations, one after another, and bank teller that left me wondering how (oh never mind, it's not worth the effort to explain), even that hotlink and lotto ticket didn't cheer me up.
I can blame the planets and their evil disarray.
I hadn't heard from my Pisces friend in few days, or weeks, really, and so I called her up. Mercury tales, part what-the-ever?
Phone goes off, I can hear her answer it, but nothing happens. In the background, there's a particular, almost like a signature, laugh.
Undaunted, I called back.
Dinner and drinks.
Under the evening's sky, low in the east, there was Mars, in Pisces, moon close at hand.
"There, my sweet Pisces, that's why life feels like a 4 x 4 truck on you these days."
But don't try this in your own home, and don't try it without adult supervision.

work load

Doing some computer repair work, digital housekeeping, as it were, I came up with some interesting statistics. In the last year? Almost 11,000 emails sent.
Feast Day of St. Adrian & rambling notes

The Patron Saint of Butchers, see, Adrian was a 4th Century Roman soldier, and I'm not liking the way this one's going.
Let's see, butchers, web design, warm days and cool nights? I got to poking around on the web, and sometimes I get a little disappointed. The level of entertainment just isn't there anymore.
Then I came across a link-to-link that lead me a history of TV. Buried in there, I found that British TV was offline until June 7, 1946. Makes it a Gemini medium, if you ask me. But no one did. However, as a hypothesis, it makes sense.
I'm 90% recovered from the hard drive loss. Got almost everything back up and running. Plus I took the time to toss a few items that I didn't need. Mercurial house cleaning on the computer.
This was a curious news item, not the news itself, but the lead in...
"WE NOTE from browsing Barga!n PDA.com that major computer company Dell appears to be suffering from the equivalent of a planet going retrograde in the heavens."
Nice to know that the news keeps up with the planets these days. Even though astrology is rubbish. Add your own snickering sounds here.
I was wandering around the boat show, thinking that I should get a shot or two of the big-ticket crafts. Actually, one boat or two boats really did pique my interests. There was this one, huge thing, with ski-towing capabilities, plus a lounge area, and then, best of all, I mean, what caught my attention? the bow itself was low enough, there was a trolling motor mounted up there plus two fishing chairs. That's my style.
One salesman did get me roped into a conversation about one particular boat, "See? It's the best of both worlds: it's got seven and half foot pole lockers for bass fishing, raised rear deck, and yet, it's also big enough for bay fishing, with a center console."
Didn't really strike my fancy.
But I found a $40K Ranger that did arouse some interest. Maybe one day I'll learn how to take pictures, too. I was thinking, though, just a shot of the price tag, and a quick note, "honey, if you really love me, buy me one of these?"

I tried the joke at the monthly gathering of web journal writers. I was an absolute jerk, too. I mean, I didn't mean to be, but I was sitting there, the phone vibrates, I take a call from one Gemini, and it's going to be a long call, so I wandered across the street to Amy's, handed over a fully filled out card, and collected a free dish of ice cream.
How thoughtless. Me, grabbing some free ice cream and not even offering to anyone else.
Sort of the way it went. A little swim, a little boat show, some idle web chatter, some coffee, and then, as I wandered home, another call from another Gemini. More work.

Cash in

So after riding a cab to and from the airport, it's not like I have extra dollar bills to throw around or anything, I was scrounging though what I had here in the trailer, to see what I could find for supper. My neighborly Virgo hollered at me, and she reminded me that it was her birthday, and that I owed her meal because it was her birthday.
"Yeah, right."
"Let me just get a few things to together," I mumbled.
I've got a big bucket of change, so I figured, she'd drive, and I would cash in the change at the coin counter machine at the grocery store. The local H-E-B. I don't know what it stands for but I'll bet it's notHurst - Euless - Bedford, has a machine that reminds me of the coin counters in the casinos.
So we go to the store, and start dumping my change into the machine. $20. $40. What a surprise. $60. Wow.
"Hey buddy," she said, "you're buying some margaritas."
Oh, like my luck with Virgo's and margaritas is any good.
We wandered over to Curra's for lunch. Or dinner. A little Harris County Libra waited on us.
Chili-cheese fries, cerviche, tres leches and fried bananas.
Then it was back to the HEB, I needed detergent, she needed, I have no idea what Virgo's need at the grocery store.
I got coffee and laundry soap, she got whatever.
Now, the real question is, do I know how to party? Or what?
Travel study

"The Moon influences the tides, and the Sun controls our seasons on earth. It was inevitable that from the earliest times other stars too should have been thought to control events on earth and the fortunes of men. This is astrology."
Brewer, Derek. An Introduction to Chaucer. Essex, England: 1984. © The Longman Group Limited, 1984. Third impression, 1988.
I got home, plugged in the computer with its new drive, and all the parts promptly quit talking to each other. Not a good sign. Inauspicious, to say the least. So I've been wrangling with disks, drives, system CD's, and so forth for the last 24 hours. Or more.
While I was waiting on some software to update or install, or uninstall, or do whatever it was that it was supposed to do, I was glancing through my texts, looking for something interesting to read.
Off to the UK next week, so I figured a little background on Chaucer wouldn't hurt. What surprised me was that paragraph introduction under the author's "astrology" section.
I can understand how an academic would go on and thrash m beloved art of astrology. Yet, in those very opening lines, I did find a subtle form of comfort, prior to the "astrology is rubbish" bit.
I suppose it's the fine art of rhetoric wherein the adverse point makes the opposite point even more obvious.

04:20 AM

Two-meat Tuesday

And it's read-eye to Dallas, just in time for a meeting. Not sure how I like this, while I was wandering around Austin, actually, taking care of business, I kept hearing an echo, a single refrain from that song, over and over.
Spooky, to hear Lyle Lovett's version in my head. All day long:
"And the sound of trains only remains

In the memory of the ones like me."
Constant road food is playing havoc with my strict regimen of not working too hard, and keeping in better condition, my weight's up, waistline is sagging over the shorts, and there's no hope in sight.
Road food, constant, steady road food, does that to a guy like me. It's fun for a weekend, last weekend, but all week. Again?
And the summer time feels like it's going to slip away fast. Clouds spinning off the tropical depression from the coast have cast an unseasonably gray pallor to the last few days. Searing sunlight is gone.
01:11 AM

Bloggers/web journal writers by sign:

Bubba was bemoaning one fate or another, and the Gemini parts are all wailing about Mercury, so I thought up a list: blog/journal by sign.

Witty, urbane. There's also a "breathless" quality to an Aries writer. Up-to-the-minute sentiments go with most posts.


Refined. But in the sedate pace, a Taurus will commence to write an entry, then lacking some refined and new way to post about said topic, skip the entry. Got to have the right word in the correct place. Food seems to be a big deal to Taurus, too.


Wonderful, wacky Gemini. All over the place. Most Gemini folks tend to be bloggers rather than journal writers because short, snarky comments and a link is a perfect Gemini style. So are comments, like, "Where was I going with this? Oh yeah...."


Emotional, filled with recipes and cooking tidbits? Possibly. Perhaps there's some musical allusions, too. And baking. Baking figures in there.

Mighty Leo, The. When it's rant time, these guys are the best. Always entertaining, but Leo's tend to be more journal type writers than pure blog-style because, after all, it is all about The Leo.


Virgo web authors frequently don't generate as much content as I would like. Deal is, they like to make sure it's perfect. Right word, right place, right message. All that time spent getting it together means fewer posts. But less chance of a typo.

Libra: concerned with beauty and presentation? I started to notice a trend in the online journals of the Libra folks, it's alwys a pretty design.


Scorpio, insightful, wry, funny. Don't let them get launched on a rant, though.


In the great debate, which, to me is a moot point, about "blog" versus "journal," the Sagittarius writers firmly straddle the line. While some of them would dearly like to write long, insightful entries about this and that, some of the entries certainly come up as "blog-style" more than anything else. Plus, when I started looking at all the online diaries, I kept stumbling on more Sagittarius than any other sign. Immediacy? "Short-form" web writing is a natural fit? Must be it.

Example. Example. Example. Example.

Capricorn's all have this innate sense of humor, usually twisted and slightly macabre. Some entries are fraught with a sense of foreboding and doom, and others, that humor just shines through. There's always a "karmic ticket" in there, too. Timbrat's example was so perfect, too - that's not revenge, that's justice. "What goes around, comes around, baby."

Example. 2nd Example.

Weird. Esoteric, and yet quotidian, all in the same space. Ultimate space cadets, too. That's a high compliment from around here.

Example. Example.

Ever try to pin down a Pisces? Can't be done. Defies conventional taxonomy.


Gemini Monday

Subtitle: days of wasabi and salsa.
Which, at first glance would seem to indicate Japanese cuisine and Mexican food, or its local equivalent, Tex-Mex.
Not that it's important, either.
Just one of those days. One friend, a Gemini, whose name is not "bubba," calls me up and asks about how to get a certain stain out of leather furniture.
"Shouldn't have been doing that on the leather ottoman, my bad."
Yeah. Dude. Whatever.
Cracked me up, though, at the time.
I was with a Gemini, in the Flightpath, searching for a couch, don't ask, it's obviously a Gemini thing, and I was asking what they called my favorite coffee drink these days, the aforementioned "cortado."
Guy floating behind the counter pipes in, long discussion, gets me set straight, a "cortado" is an Argentinean shot of coffee with a cream. A "macchiato" is Eye-talian (not Stabuck-ese) for "stain."
"Yeah, what you're supposed to do is pour the foam in the cup then pour the espresso in, so that the foam is stained. Macchiato. Stain."
"Hey man, what's your birthday?" I asked.
Gemini. Exact same year as an earlier reading in the day. Insert spooky music here.
He wondered off, "Who was that guy?"
"Him? Oh, he owns the place."
I'm impressed, an owner who really does know his coffee. Or, at the very least, had a much more reasonable answer than anyone else.
I was wandering back from Magnolia, late dinner reading, and I glanced up over my shoulder - there was the moon, where I expected it to be, in Scorpio (tropical zodiac), with the nicest "face" visible. There was a crater, or other surface irregularity, just where the shadow fell. For all the world, it looked like nose in the shadow's curve, almost like it was alive. Looks like I've got a lot learn about for taking night photographs. The image doesn't show much. The moon was just special, though, like I've never seen before.

Texas Trilogy 2: Trainride

Had a nice glimpse of Red-Tail Hawk, the markings clear in the evening twilight. Then, a sign through one town, I realized it was a siding, no longer used, town named Clifton. Steve Fronholz's epic about Texas, central northeast Texas and history. I can't shake that one song. There's an elegiac tone to the trilogy, too, and yet, to hear Steven himself sing it, something like 30 years after I heard it the first time, on Texas radio, he imparts a slightly more upbeat tone than the current - and popular - version. Still, it's powerful music if the words, the tone, and the sentiments travel with me, up and down the train track. The Missouri-Pacific line joins with the old Santa Fe line in Temple. Useless trivia, the Santa Fe (rail) yard in Temple is the larges Santa Fe yard west of Chicago. But it's when the route cuts across the Brazos River, Bosque County, that's when song's whole cycle makes sense. The words:
Well, the last time I remember that train stopping at the depot

Was when me and my Aunt Veta came riding back from Waco.

I remember I was wearing my long pants and we was sharing

Conversation with a man who sold ball-point pens and paper.

And the train stopped once in Clifton where my Aunt bought me some ice cream.

And my Mom was there to meet us when the train pulled into Kopperl.
But now kids at night break window lights

And the sound of trains only remains

In the memory of the ones like me.

Who have turned their backs on the splintered cracks

In the walls that stand on the railroad land

Where we used to play and then run away

From the depot man.
I remember me and brother used to run down to the depot

Just to listen to the whistle when the train pulled into Kopperl.

And the engine big and shiny, black as coal that fed the fire

And the engineer would smile and say, "Howdy, how ya fellows?"

And the people by the windows playing cards and reading papers

Looked as far away to us as next summer's school vacation.
©1969, MCA Music Publishing (ASCAP)
I was hoping for a better shot but we have to take what we can get these days. It was a Santa Fe - Burlington Northern engine against a backdrop of Dallas concrete, clay and glass skyscrapers.
Concrete, clay and glass? Know that musical allusion?

"So home and to bed."


I like mine fried. Chicken-fried. Part dos.

I was in Lucky's for breakfast. Close to the folks, a formerly eccentric neighborhood, and the food's good.
All right, for the more right-wing, leftist, homophobic crowd, I'm sure Lucky's is a little strange. Two guys meet for brunch and they embrace. No one bats an eye. Yeah, about half the folk in there are gay? So?
"Kramer, check it out, he's cruising you...."
As if.
And some of my friends think this is a big deal. Others are less disturbed. Just part of city life.
What caught my eye was a middle-aged couple, typical Dallas folks, I guess, he was reading a newspaper and she was reading Interior Design. Out to brunch while both reading something else. Might as well be alone?
Dunno, it's a big city. I'm sure it has tales.
While Lucky's Cafe has a very acceptable Chicken Fried Steak breakfast, I got sliced tomatoes as a side dish, and somewhere, I'm not sure about this, I just don't think good chicken-fried steak, rich cream gravy, and biscuits are supposed to be joined on the same plate with Roma Tomatoes. I just find that this is an unacceptable incongruity. Like fancy mustard on ballpark hotdogs. Yes, I love me some good mustard, as fond as I am of hot stuff, but certain situations dictate cheap, yellow mustard.
And chicken friend steaks should have regular beefsteak tomatoes, not some fancy Eye-talian jobbie.
But that could be me. Enough of Lucky's chicken fried breakfast and I won't be getting cruised by anyone.
I like mine fried. Chicken-fried. Part uno.

Toys: Some of the best fried squid, ever.
When I last lived in Dallas, Toys was a tiny Thai & Vegetarian place around the corner from where I was living. (Lemmon Ave. Between the Tollway & Wycliff.) Food was good, hot, and plentiful. Plus there was ambience that comes with a place filled up with greasy, stir-fry smoke, simmering peppers plus tofu and rice noodles.
Stopped in twice while I was there.
The second time, with my trusty Dallas guide, and with the help of a couple of warm sakes, ($1.25), the place felt different, albeit, the price structure seemed a little out of line for Dallas, i.e., cheap.
Good grub.
It's a note on a napkin, as I look over, and ask, "Hey, you got a pen I can use?"
I wound up grabbing a napkin and scribbling a note in blue crayon.
Squid, at least the ways I've had served before, is usually rubbery. Not that it's bad, that's just the way it's been. Chewy. Until that afternoon in Toys.
To me, it tasted just like chicken-fried squid. However they prepared it, though, that made all the difference. Texture wasn't just good - it was perfect. Just like chicken. Only, it was pretty obviously squid.
I wonder where they find fresh squid in Dallas? Trinity River Bottom?
Texas Trilogy 2: Trainride

Steve Fronholz's epic about Texas, central northeast Texas and history. I can't shake that one song. There's an elegiac tone to the trilogy, too, and yet, to hear Steven sing it himself, something like 30 years after I heard it the first time, on Texas radio, he imparts a slightly more upbeat tone than the current - and popular - version. Still, it's powerful music if the words, the tone, and the sentiments travel with me, up and down the train track. The Missouri-Pacific line joins with the old Santa Fe line in Temple. Useless trivia, the Santa Fe (rail) yard in Temple is the larges Santa Fe yard west of Chicago. But it's when the route cuts across the Brazos River, Bosque County, that's when song's whole cycle makes sense. The words:
Well, the last time I remember that train stopping at the depot

Was when me and my Aunt Veta came riding back from Waco.

I remember I was wearing my long pants and we was sharing

Conversation with a man who sold ball-point pens and paper.

And the train stopped once in Clifton where my Aunt bought me some ice cream.

And my Mom was there to meet us when the train pulled into Kopperl.
But now kids at night break window lights

And the sound of trains only remains

In the memory of the ones like me.

Who have turned their backs on the splintered cracks

In the walls that stand on the railroad land

Where we used to play and then run away

From the depot man.
I remember me and brother used to run down to the depot

Just to listen to the whistle when the train pulled into Kopperl.

And the engine big and shiny, black as coal that fed the fire

And the engineer would smile and say, "Howdy, how ya fellows?"

And the people by the windows playing cards and reading papers

Looked as far away to us as next summer's school vacation.
©1969, MCA Music Publishing (ASCAP)
I was hoping for a better shot but we have to take what we can get these days. It was a Santa Fe - Burlington Northern engine against a backdrop of Dallas concrete, clay and glass skyscrapers.
Concrete, clay and glass? Know that musical allusion?


Some of the best fried squid, ever.
When I last lived in Dallas, Toys was a tiny Thai & Vegetarian place around the corner from where I was living. Food was good, hot, and plentiful. Plus there was ambience that comes with a place filled up with greasy, stir-fry smoke, simmering peppers plus tofu and rice noodles.
Stopped in twice while I was there.
The second time, with my trusty Dallas guide, and with the help of a couple of warm sakes, ($1.25), the place felt different, albeit, the price structure seemed a little out of line for Dallas, i.e., cheap.
Good grub.
It's a note on a napkin, as I look over, and ask, "Hey, you got a pen I can use?"
I wound up grabbing a napkin and scribbling a note in blue crayon.
Squid, at least the ways I've had served before, is usually rubbery. Not that it's bad, that's just the way it's been. Chewy. Until that afternoon in Toys.
To me, it tasted just like chicken-fried squid. However they prepared it, though, that made all the difference. Texture wasn't just good - it was perfect. Just like chicken. Only, it was pretty obviously squid.
I wonder where they find fresh squid in Dallas? Trinity River Bottom?
> I'll represent all virgos this week and politely invite you to my

> birthday bash. invitation enclosed.


> http://www.babe-test.com/
See? Not all Virgo's are bashing me this week, per the weekly tome.
Lyle Lovett's "Step Inside This House" - 2nd part of Steve Fromholz's Texas Trilogy, "Well, the last time I remember the train stopping at the depot was when me and my Aunt Veta came riding back from Waco..."
Another - new subscriber - took one look at the free scopes and decided that I was funny. Part of the point. While I'm serious about what I write, they are only horoscopes....
So the train was late getting into Austin, which, in turn, meant it as late getting every place thereafter. Seems like they made up some time between here and there, but according to the station master in Austin, "Freight takes precedence."
Yeah, I know the feeling. Besides, I've traveled enough on the rails to understand that the Texas Sun can slow everything down Try cutting through South Texas in the summer sometime, you'd start moving at a more bucolic pace, too.
I wanted a nice picture a with a railroad theme. While trains may be commonplace elsewhere, around here? There's one passenger train per day, going north. One passenger train per day, going south. Little more rare, round here.
Scene from railroad life, two elderly ladies, excuse me, middle-aged, playing cards, a pile of quarters in front of one woman and just handful in front of the other. Every porter who stopped by inquired about the stakes and who was winning. Just don't see that kind of activity much these days.
I'm going to start calling the train my second home, along with airplanes for the next month or so.
"A gentleman never dances so well as the dancing master, and an ordinary fiddler makes better musique for a shilling than a gentleman will do after spending forty, and so in all the delights of the world almost."

Samuel Pepys, (Jan. 27 1664)

Mercury RX tales "The rest of the story..."

I was wandering along the shores of Town Lake, or the Colorado River, depending on nomenclature, and I realized the whole back story for El Paso's Cafe Dali hadn't been told. Yet.
Wander back in years with me, I think it's been several years, Grace "the psychic lady" had put me up for a weekend, and we dined with her folks. Her daddy's a Scorpio, so me and him got along like a house afire.
Her daddy was a proto-geek, and I was, at the time, a noveau-geek. He liked me and gave me a nickname, a term of affection, "Cool Arrow." "Cool" because, well, I am cool. "Arrow" because I was a straight shooter.
Now, not long ago, I developed a new taste for a slightly different afternoon beverage.
In Starbuck-ese, it's called a "doppio macchiato," however, one barista in SA told me it was really called a "curtado." Turns out, or so I think, he was pulling my leg.
See, that one feller, think he was a Mexican, told me that what I was asking for was really called a "pendejo" (pin-DAY-hoe). Then he made it with soy milk.
"That soy milk really accentuates the good roast of the beans," he was telling me.
Want to really impress the Spanish speaking folks? Know what I'll order next time?
"Me Cool Arrow. Soy pendejo, por favor."

I love the russet colors prevalent in the Southwestern architecture, hint of adobe, one of Dali's clocks on the wall.

Mars & Mercury, and that grinding noise

I got a little worried, I as I was expecting to see smoke coming out from a vent on the trusty laptop. See, I'm off to Dallas for a bit of family business. And the laptop? It was/is making one of those horrible noises.
Grinding. Sounds like an old 5.25 inch drive with platters the size of a regular CD. Grinding, grating, and I can almost see the little read/write heads bouncing on the platters, data being screwed, blued, and tattooed all to hell and back.
First thought? When was the last backup? Tuesday night, complete backup made while I was sleeping. But what about the stuff I've added since then? Some scopes, a link or two, the journal entries, and that one idea I had? Plus that design I was working up for another project? Can't lose any of that material!
Wait, this thing is still under warranty, that special extended kind. Breath in, breath out, slow down.
Test software, diagnostics, where's the CD for that?
Imagine that heart-stopping sound of a hard drive spinning to stop with everything on it. Imagine the pop-art version of "The Scream."
I got lesson in manic-person & calm-customer-service when I called up Apple to inquire if the hard drive was, indeed, covered. Sure it was. I'd run the hardware test, ten minutes' worth, and it showed no trouble.
Ran Norton, loath as I am to support that company because of all the spam I get from them. Yeah, I know, it isn't really from Norton, but still. Anyway, the problem wasn't the hardware. I was just a little scattered, though, the "routine diagnostic procedure" took me two hours. Two hours when I couldn't do anything useful with the machine.
The hard drive was very scattered, as in fragmented. Severe. A couple of the B-Tree headers were pointing to blank spaces. Like I would know where certain B-Tree headers were supposed to point?
Got me to thinking, though, sure it did. When was the last time I did any routine maintenance on the laptop?
Last time Mercury was retrograde. Scrambled my thinking, that's for sure. Just one of the natural cycles.


To me, it's just Mr. Mars, appearing to move in a direction that he normally doesn't move, compared to the canopy of stars. And that "close to earth" thing? That's just way cool. Wished I'd bookmarked that one graphic showing how and why the planet is so close. Celestial mechanics and all.
Can you really blame the planet?
Help me.
"It is the stars,/The stars above us, govern our conditions;"

Kent in Shakespeare's King Lear Act IV, scene iii, around line 30
Right. The stars don't dictate diddley-squat. The planets do incline, lend credence to, suggest, motivate, and signify events.
Like the moon and the tides, the ebb and flow, natural rhythms and cycles that occur in nature. Dictate? Hardly.
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/But in ourselves, that we are underlings"

Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Act, scene ii, around line 200
Which is more like it.
I think it's Bloom's text[/u> where I read something to the effect that "Shakepseare is a secular canon." At this hour, I'm way too tired to look up that quote.
And maybe not reason clearly, either. Blame Mars? Or for that matter, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and the Sun? No, it's all about how a person reactes to a set of stimulae. That's all. Just language, metaphor and symbols.
No wonder us astrologers get a bad rap.
As one Aquarius lass used to ask me, rhetorical, "Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?"
Thursday Three

(N.B. Feast Day of St. Rumbald of Kent.) The special at the BBQ place that I'm so fond of, not because the BBQ place is excellent, although I've been sassed by more than one waitress, on numerous occasions, what I like best is Two Meat Tuesday. And proximity.
Perfect plate, perfect portions, and on occasion, some of the best pork ribs, ever.
So it's time for a simple list, as the weekend approaches, the Thursday Three (meat plate):
1. Favorite luncheon spot?

Magnolia, South Congress. No, make that El Sol y La Luna. Better yet, Jo's BBQ tofu. Wait, there's always Green Mesquite, aforementioned two-meat Tuesday? Or even Chuy's? Bouldlin Creek Coffee has a good menu, too, and they're cheap.
2. Favorite "hole in the wall"?

Taco Rapido - if it's still there - on the east side. Better yet, there's a place that now goes by the name of "Rosita's," and I've frequented that place for years. Always good food, although the great Austin eastward migration will catch up with that place, sooner or later, i.e., they'll start speaking some English.
3. Best cheap deal for lunch?

Pure heaven: a hotlink, with a liberal dose of cheap, yellow mustard, on a stale bun, accompanied by a 44 oz. huge Styrofoam carbonated beverage, preferably diet coke, and a lottery ticket. On a summer's afternoon in Austin? Sweating like a proverbial "stuck pig"? It's just a little slice of heaven. Stand outside that convenience store, watch the cars hurry and scurry by, stand there, dripping with Barton Creek water, no shoes, no shirt, no problem.

Book is published.

Fishing Guide to the Stars: Fishing for love thru the zodiac... The cover art proof arrived Tuesday afternoon, talk about "just in time."
Greg needs a big old nod of approval for his timely cover artwork, turned out great. Took a little "behind the scenes" work, but the graphic is nothing short of brilliant. It depicts me better than I could.
"The man, the myth, the metaphor."
"Yeah Kramer, the mystery all right."
I was too busy Tuesday morning and afternoon, to worry about details. I had morning readings, afternoon readings, and this whole "Mars Venus Mercury" retrograde is creating, well, "lots of work."
The fastest way to get the book is order direct from publisher. Yeah, it's self-published, but after being shot down by a couple of publishers, I decided to go ahead and launch it. Besides, the website's stats showed, as late as last June, that the romance text was one of the highest traffic areas, behind, of course, the scopes themselves. And this web journal.
So it's out and available as of now.
Mercury is just about retrograde at this time, and in the opposite sign, there's Mars retrograde. It's not pretty out there.
Maybe perfect for a book about relationships that do - or don't - work.
Customer Service

I sure hope this isn't a recurring problem. After listening to folks for the last week, after the litany of complaints that can be easily traced to Mars & Mercury - and avoided by applied astrology - I'm worried.
I got one of the terse "unsubscribe me" notes, threatening to complain to the bank and the credit card company because someone signed up for a subscription then wanted it stopped. Deal is, I don't handle the credit card, or, for that matter, any of the administration for subscriptions.
The whole struggle for a seamless, easy-to-use interface and software-automated-process was to prevent this event from occurring. It's simple, want to unsubscribe? Follow the instructions on their site.
Sending me a note from some hotmail account with "unsubscribe ME!" means I'll send a command to the list-server and try to unsubscribe that address from the two lists I manage, the weekly scopes (still available for free) and the unofficial joke list.
The challenge? One negative response, one loud complaint outweighs about 7 or 8 positive referrals. So I know that there's one person who's upset that the instructions were too hard to follow. Remember the little button you clicked on that said, "I accept these terms and conditions"?
If you're like me, about 90% of the time, I just click right on through. Never read the fine print.
The customer service part is a little different, though. How can I suggest that someone really made a serious error in judgment, without just adding more fuel to an already angry situation? Anyway to spin this one for the positive?
From what I recall, I politely urged the person to pursue this matter with both the bank and the credit card company as well as the service provider. I'm paying a percentage just so I don't have to deal with the problems.
So it's back to customer service. What's the right answer?
I refunded the last amount. I unsubscribed the e-mail address. And I'm really not interested in a war of words, because, what it amounts to? The person didn't read the fine print. Or hasn't a clue.
Still, think about one negative referral. That's like the person who left me voice mail last Monday night, close to midnight my time, two words. Want to guess?
At the bottom of the terms and conditions, it clearly states that "any submissions to Kramer Wetzel and/or astrofish.net become the sole property of astrofish.net forever and always...."
Know what that means? Wonder if it's valid? Carry to have dueling attorneys at 20 paces?
If it passes through my mail gateway, the one that I pay for, addressed to me, I can copy it and publish it.
However, I'm trying to be nice with that whole customer service deal, and trying to keep from generating ill-will.
However, reading the instructions is encouraged, before you pop a credit card number on the website. Any site, not just here. Common sense. Oh, that's right, common sense is something lacking these days. How could I forget?
What it all amounts to? I give so much in real readings, sometimes it's hard to be nice. Customer service around here sucks sometimes. Want to walk in these sandals for day?

Keep Austin Weird

I got off the "airport flyer" and sauntered over to the next bus stop, in time to catch the route homeward. There was Leslie, the cross-dressing homeless mayoral candidate, decked out in his usual, quietly holding down bench outside of the Starbucks at 6th & Congress.
Made me think, "Need to dig out the camera," then I saw my bus pull up and I ditched the idea, hopped on a crowded bus, and motored on home. 50 cents, about 30 minutes, 10 minutes more than a cab ride, and $19.50 cheaper. Plus Leslie.
Reminded me of parting shot from El Paso: Austin: Keep Kramer. Maybe that should be a bumpersticker.
I logged in to check the message board for the astrology class I'm "teaching" through the Netscape Learning Center.
As I reviewed the work put together by my long-time client, I came across an interesting analogy, lovely stuff - what would one expect from a poetess?
See, the way it's pitched, her coursework, she calls an astrology chart a map, not a blueprint. Couldn't have said it better myself.
"Yeah, Keep Austin Weird? Austin Keep Kramer."
Dusty El Paso Trail

"I was toting my pack along that dusty El Paso trail..." (Somebody like Joe Ely should sing that - I just haven't made up the rest of the lyrics yet.)
The plane took off, heading east, not giving more than a backwards glimpse of the Franklin Mountains. The SWA crew was talking about being posted in El Paso versus Phoenix or Las Vegas. Apparently, El Paso had some better perks. I'd have to agree, although, for some folks, that town seems to be nothing more than a desolate backwater. Perceptions, I'm sure, "Is that river half empty or half full?"
Actually, from the air, it looks like it's barely a trickle.
I've been winging into El Paso for over a decade now.
"I've been making this flight for the last decade or so, and maybe half dozen times, I've been able to see them, the Jackalopes, out on the military reservation."
No myth. There's a herd of jackrabbits, and few big buck jackalopes can sometimes be seen, horns down, hustling the females around. It's on a portion of what used to be Biggs Army Air Corps Field, now, just a military reservation.
But look carefully, just after take off, you can sometimes see them.
I think we shadowed I-10 as far as Van Horn.
"Looks like they're broken clouds in Austin, hope they get them fixed by the time we get there."
Last Cafe Dali picture, finally got the camera to work again, once I got home.

Mountain Time

Breakfast at the Pastry Chef, stopped off and scored a perfect "curtado" at Cafe Dali, worked through lunch, and the promoter offered me a key to the hotel's pool in the middle of the afternoon.
Nothing like a quick dip to make everything all better. Just like being at home. Almost.
Then, the plan came up over breakfast, since it had been such a terrible day on Saturday, "Why don't we hit the casino tonight? Pack up about 4 and go on over for the buffet?"
Which we didn't do, exactly. We did have a great afternoon, really busy, and while I was digging around to pack up, I stumbled across a stash of cash I'd left behind, about $50 in fives, so there was a little bid of "discretionary cash" for the whole casino run.
Which was fun, but I figure I lost about $20, all in all.
While standing in line a the buffet, it was interesting to watch as two Latinas ordered fresh-made Italian dishes in border patois.
Friday, when I was walking out of the airplane & down the concourse, a guy looked at me, at the clock on the wall, and asked, "Are we in a different time zone?"
"Yeah, El Paso is in a different zone, all right... plus it's Mountain Standard Time."
"The Twilight Zone?"
It's something like that.

Pastry Chef window



After breakfast, getting back to the hotel, the radio was playing, KLAQ, (Grace's radio station), and the that Eagles' song came on.
"Deperado - you've been out riding fences too long..."
Perfect for a morning in El Paso, whipsy clouds overhead, almost cool, I'm guessing low 80's air temperature, and breakfast at the truck stop. Again. Still good food.
Sitting at my table, waiting on prospective clients to show up, I fell to into a conversation with a Libra, about a certain section of Texas. Odd coincidence? The banner across the bottom of the book's cover? Marfa Mystery Lights highway sign - exact same area.
A couple of my buddies in Austin are in a little band. "Like that's unusual?"
One of the songs they've started doing is an old Townes Van Zandt song, and the lyric that's stuck in my mind?
"White Freightliner, steal away my mind."
What I've heard, besides the lyrical idea of going down to the highway and listen to the big wheels whine? "White Freightliner" is - allegedly - a fortified wine. So when I finally got a shot of a white Freightliner, I just couldn't pass it up. It's for that song, that's all, a couple of buds in Austin, with a little band, in smoky dive bar, singing an old Townes van Zandt song.


Feast Day of St. Bartholomew

Couldn't even get out of Austin without having to stop and talk to a homeless guy, wish him a happy birthday. Leo.
I'm thinking of incorporating this into some kind of visual, for the next round of folks who start asking questions, and expecting free answers. I think it's this week's Scorpio that had such a poignant note about that scenario.
Fortunately, some Scorpio's listen well. Others don't.
I like the fact that there's a little donation cup there. Looked like, judging from the dollar bills, he was doing pretty well. Leo, Jupiter and all, he should be.
El Paso is still so wonderfully weird. Reading and re-reading Cormac McCarthy material, as well as associated myths and legends from the area, always makes it a little more spooky. Damned old town, El Paso.
Truck stops and coffee shops and hours spent on Grace's veranda, "Yeah, we look like real trailer trash, don't we, BBQing in the garage?"
I guess you had to be there. A roomful of Leo's, Sagittarius, Aries, all the fire signs represented - and civilization, such as I know it - can be found at Cafe Dali, on N. Mesa. In the coffee shop - a requested stop - by me - I discovered that store's putative owner actually knew the difference between a "doppio macchiato" and "curtado."
In fact, she knew to ask about whether I wanted it long or short. Two short shots of espresso marbled, not laced, not covered, not topped, but marbled with frothed milk.
Excellent. Civilization.
We spent several hours under the canopy of the El Paso night, the stars wheeling overhead in their slow and timeless procession, Mars starting to poke above the eastern horizon. Had us a couple of cigars.
And now it's time to go to work.

Road again.

Off to El Paso - working weekend in the Franklin Mountains.
Seems so long ago that I was last there. Couch surfing, too, this trip, not because it's cheaper, but because some friends have outright insisted that I stay with them.
Mars is RX, Mercury is poised to turn backwards, and the stars are stacked.
Never left the confines of the AC until late Thursday afternoon. It was just one thing after another, and I never did get the whole column pounded out, my nominal task for the day. I wrestled with an a couple of internal issues all morning, plus had to book another Dallas excursion. I just don't get it - how there can be so many nice people in a city that has no heart.
Before I even leave, the whine for the day? Relationships. Mars is backwards. Except for those lucky few, that 10% who's doing well, the rest of us are fraught with frustration.
Off to the post office, then swing by the creek for a dip. At his behest, joined Bubba for a ceremonial "breaking of bread" at Sandy's. Thursday's special: burger, fries and a drink, $2.89. Then hiked up to Bouldin for a reading.
Capricorn. Just about the coolest, too.
I ran long into the evening, belaboring certain points and regaling the client with road warrior stories, El Paso much on my mind.
As we broke for the night, I sauntered off into night's air, my parting shot was something about "How I love Austin in the summer, night's like this...."
It was almost stifling hot, maybe upper 80's, and Mars was just poking above the horizon. A Gemini paced me while I bantered on the phone about details for couches in El Paso. A thunderstorm was breaking over Bastrop, maybe 30 miles to the east, lightening sparking low on the Eastern horizon.
In the last 48 hours, I've spent - I figure - 25% of my waking hours doing readings in sweltering, lightly air conditioned, or, like at Jo's, no AC, coffee shops. Loving it, too. Like the work, like the atmosphere, and each day concludes a cool dip in the creek.
It's summer time, here, still. Days are hot, and shade is a ticket. But instead of cowering in the AC the whole day, I've wound up on Jo's "patio" or Bouldin Creek's back "porch," not really sweating, but keeping the movements to a minimum, belaboring points in charts over sweating ice tea.
Astrological oddity. Every chart in this time frame has had Saturn, at an important point in the chart. Just coincidence, I'm sure.

At the bottom of last week's scopes, in the sign of Cancer, there's just another one of my links to some point of interest on the web. I don't often go back and triple check links because they're sometimes carefully thought out and sometimes, just a spurious, tenuous connection at best.
Often, I marvel at the clever way the link ties into the message of the scope, and other times, I wonder if it was really late at night, or really early in the morning, or just what goes into a good cigar. Or too much coffee. Or late night pizza.
When I'd looked at the web journal/log I'd linked to, the first time, I'd read some entries, found a reference to the writer's birthday, or something, and plugged the link in under Cancer, as in Cancer, the Sun Sign, birthdays between roughly the end of Gemini until the beginning of Leo.
What really disturbed me, though, I mean, first glimpse at the link, "Cynthia Speaks: straight from the horse's mouth" - that's going to earn my unadulterated admiration, right there. Horse people are a special breed. A badge on the site says, "I feed strays." That works for me - obviously this is a cool writer/site. For sure.
For some reason, I'd checked the link again. Who knows? I think I was avoiding work. There was a picture of her bald. Then I read the post. The writer was undergoing chemo for cancer.
I thought it was spoof. When I read a little, delved a little deeper, I felt like such an inconsiderate, well, decent words fail me. How thoughtless, crass and insensitive could I be?
Takes real cojones to put that stuff out there.
I also though about removing the link out of consideration, but maybe, just maybe, it's not all bad.
One person's battle with a disease process, and the intestinal fortitude to post about it is what I admire. Openly.
I've seen several acquaintances go through this struggle, some more successful than others. Like some of my friends who are "folliclely challenged," I admire the way, especially these days, when a woman is willing to bare her pate.
Yes, it's personal. Frankly, I admire it.
I'm just upset with the link being in the scope and appearing so callous. Tugs at my heart strings in a big way.
And I wonder if I'm just being an inconsiderate, insensitive person. Bothers me that I might be. But there's no way t turn back two weeks' time, and there's no way to undo any damage, even if it wasn't intentional, from my best efforts.
But I am sorry.

Give me back my bullets

Thought-provoking article about presentations. Me? I hate PowerPoint. It's just personal, though.
I've sat through maybe three presentations in the last year. Four, possibly. One was done by my own father, Pa Wetzel, so I can take that. His presentation is actually content-filled, but the presentation itself was designed by a buddy's girlfriend, and the content is different. It doesn't look, act or feel like PowerPoint.
But the other ones?
There was one, at a SXSW workshop - that got to me. The author's content was actually quite good. Amazing - now sadly out-of-date - stuff. But having all the material bullet-pointed and shoved into a pre-formatted outliner was annoying. Very.
Actually, this was last Friday's Five, but there were a couple of the questions I liked. So here's the "geek speak" history in a nutshell -
The web page was the outgrowth of some work I'd been doing on an astrology presentation. Always trying to stay cutting edge, I've lectured, exactly one (1) time in a location where I could hook my laptop up to the overhead display. But being a pioneer at the time, I went ahead and built a presentation, just in case I ever had that chance again.
1993? Someplace in there. I built up a series of slides, complete with artwork, to accentuate the astrology lecture I was starting to do, about once or twice a month, at the various venues I worked.
Simple stuff, nothing too exciting, just Planets, Signs, and Symbols. That presentation never saw the light of day. When I was in Dallas, some time last month, I found printed-up versions of that presentation, in fact, I lifted some of my old material from there, the very words, to plug into the new book, just because I liked it when the material was alive.
"Fishing Guide to the Stars" horoscopes moved from print medium to electronic in 1994. The first host was some back directory at Microsoft, and the scopes were an exercise in programming for an engineer/buddy/friend-of-a-friend. Went live that fall.
The scopes next moved to a local Austin server in June of '95, and I started updating weekly in July of that year, and I got picked up by AOL/astronet in August, same year. I coded the first of the pages by hand, banging rocks together to make binary code. No but I did do the first pages in a simple text editor - all by hand.
The scopes already had a huge following when I moved everything onto its own server in '98. shortly after that, I started doing the web journal, too.
It all started with that PP presentation, and one of those editorial comments, "You know, that would make a good web page...."
Like the forthcoming book, "You mean, write it for the web then put it in book? No one's ever done that before."
And if I ever get a chance to do a PowerPoint Presentation with bullets? Just shoot me.

One week and two cigars.

I dug through the accumulated cigar collection, and I found me a "Gloria." So I had a dark-skinned Cuban for breakfast. "La Gloria Cubana" was her name.
I turned off the e-mail so I could get some work done, too. Seems like a lot of folks were a little tense, too. More than I needed.
When I finished that sweet Cubana number, I switched to a lighter skinned Dominican Republic number. Older, too, as that one has been in the humidor for five or more years now. Aged to perfection. That one was really excellent.
From Shady Acres, it was uphill to meet client for a quick chart overview - Saturn was the big deal. What was supposed to be a few minutes stretched into several hours, sweltering lightly in the shade at Jo's. She was talking about a certain guy when there was a tap on her shoulder, there he was. Glad to see I still have the touch to bring luck to others.
From there, I hopped over to Barton Creek, just below the springs. I was about to be mildly upset because some gentleman was just getting out at my spot, fins, mask, snorkel in hand. I just hate it when other people use my little section of creek for their swimming. The water's been exceptional clear the last couple of days. No doubt, this is due to the fact that school has started.
"Find anything worthwhile?" I asked.
"Not this time. Saw a catfish, about this long, out in the middle. Couple of bass, too." (This long was about four feet, judging from his arms' spread.)
Which then launched into the nicest discussion of wildlife in Texas, and from the ranch he grew up on in Fort Bend County, complete with alligators.
"But there's nothing here in Austin that'll hurt you," he tried to assure me.
Then came the gator story. Two, in fact. One I'll save for a scope, and one of them had all the earmarks of an urban myth, something about an 8-foot gator who was eating pets on a local area lake. As if.
A little BBQ, actually read the newspaper, too. While I was paying the bill, my cell buzzed, and I looked at the number, and even though it's incredibly rude, I figured it was a good time to answer. So I did.
"Hey sweetie." (Okay! So I don't recall the exact words, but that sounds about right for greeting a Pisces who's been a little distressed about issues lately, right? Right.)
"You're alive? Amy said there was a fatality on the railroad, and I know you were going to walk this way on the right-of-way, and I was worried it was you. But you're alive?"
Leaves room for a host of theological and tautological discussion points about the relative "aliveness" that I represented at that very moment, but I had, indeed, just eaten a bellyful of BBQ, and I was relatively sanguine from a cold dip in the creek and a refreshingly weird afternoon, so I didn't launch into the mental gymnastics that I was thinking about the whole point of whether I was alive or not.
"Could be debated."
"Kramer, you answered your phone, you're alive. See you in a little while."
Then I set off for the "blogger meetup", making my way up the aforementioned railroad right-of-way. In the afternoon, my shorts still slightly damp from the creek, it almost felt cool. The route I took avoids all the heavy traffic streets. Made for a nice wander.
Hung about with the writers. Listened to geek speak. Spoke some. As the meeting began to break up, I had to implore, one more time, that I really do live like a monk.
I copped a ride as far as Amy's, with a half cup of coffee in hand, I convinced the night guy (Aries) to just add a scoop of ice cream to the half cup of coffee. Just somehow balanced everything out perfectly. Home. To work. To bed.
"It's just this little chromium switch here."

Went fishing....

Had an excellent morning on the lake, Lake Austin. Caught nothing. The company of "The Osprey" was stupendous.
It was a lot cooler out, before the sun was up. Navigation was a little iffy, in the predawn dark. We motored off one way, upstream, and fished for a spell, then ran down to Bull Creek, and then further downstream to the dam.
I pointed out that we could stop at Motzart's and grab some coffee.
"Yeah, you'll know someone there."
"No way."
We tie the boat up on the waterfront, hop over the rail, and swagger into the coffee shop.
"Hi Kramer."
It was that Scorpio fellow from the Austin Bloggers group.
I was caught off guard.
Anyway, downed some coffee, fished for a spell, took a turn through the marina and shot across the lake for some gas. That place didn't open until noon.
Back to the Hula Hut for a picture of the only fish I had my hand on, and then up for some lunch at the hut.
Back across the lake and home.
A most successful day, even if I didn't get any fish - my luck for others still runs strong.
"That kind of lure? It works better when it's wet."
Osprey: 2
Kramer: 0
Photo: Daddy-O animated sculpture at Hula Hut, Lake Austin, Texas.

Gone Fishing - and some books

Ah yes, it helps to have a fishing buddy with the patience of Job. Job, the biblical character, not as in that other J-O-B word, the employment thing. Typing that word made me think of one of my all-time favorite books, too: Job: a comedy of justice.
Good book, too. Anyway, I'm grabbing a fishing pole and tacklebox, plus a digital camera and heading to the lake.
The two books I'm reading right now? Tales of the Big Bend by Elton Miles (Texas A&M Press) and Bloom's Shakespeare: the invention of the human.
What worked for me, in the Tales of the Big Bend, there's mention of story, part myth, part historical, about character who "hunted Indian scalps." What caught my attention, the copyright on the book is 1976. That myth, doing this backwards, was the source, at least in part, for Cormac MacCarthy's Blood Meridian.
But is it odd to have obscure Texas mythology (or history), back to back with literary criticism?
I'll ask the fishing buddies. I can imagine how this goes, too.
"What about the historical reference, vis-a-vis, Shakespeare's Henry V, and the problems with the British Kingdom in 1604, or with the timing of Shakespeare's satire of politics in Troilus and Cressida, which was always a problem play?"
"What are you babbling about?"


I've got to do something with that word - it's been ten years now that I've been "on the road" like this. I think I've earned my tenure.
Looking out the window, I can see the river's surface. Looks like glass at this moment. The sun was just setting by the time I rolled into the trailer. There was single egret in a little eddy, and I'm not sure he was even fishing. Might have just been hanging out.
The final form of the book is in the pipeline now. The earliest version of the text was started in 1997. Has an interesting history, to me, and writing about writing is tenuous task.
To say I'm a little apprehensive is an understatement. To say that I'm a little worried, that's true.
I was wondering, though, do I have "street cred" to do this?
I was ripping and burning CD's late last night. Worrying my way through a few items that I'd promised a friend.. Some music for the Osprey.
I've got another playlist I've been working on, a truly bizarre mix. The dates for the music stretch across almost 50 years of pop music. "Pop pop pop music."
Photogrpahic diversion via MeFi made me think about time. I had to look at the timeline for the book.
Started it in 1997? The dates on the files have changed so much. Then it was finished in rough draft form in 1998. Fleshed it out a few times, and there are several additions. Finally, near as I can tell, it was done pretty much in 1999. I recall editing it a few times after that. The web version, the most recent version, had some extra material. Amusing.
Looking at the New Wave music, though, that made me think. Been at this astrology gig, full-time, for ten years now. Tenure?
Shirt notice

Actually started Saturday because Mac the Aura guy was teasing me about both of us showing up in the exact same outfit. Blue Hawaiian shirt, dark shorts, dark t-shirt. But running gags can only go so far.
What happened, though was from a Sagittarius[/url, over breakfast, as a Leo was admiring the blue Hawaiian shirt I had on, "Thos are lovely flowers on the she shirt."
"Oh, those are those flowers that look puffy and soft, only they're really prickly," the Sagittarius was observing, "just like Kramer."
True story.
Had a lady corner me outside the show for a few minutes, just to chat.
"You did a reading for my daughter, I think, like, 7 years ago," she was telling me, "and she had baby, like you said, her daughter is now 6 years old."
"Only," she continued, "you'd predicted a boy. Funny thing was, she'd had three ultra-sounds, and they all said 'boy,' too."
So the
oracle is sometimes off about gender? Let's be honest, it's a 50-50 shot, right?
Overheard: "Never argue with the voices in your head - you'll wind someplace without an umbrella."

Quick note to self -

More from Bloom.... c.f. California gubernatorial race &c.
I was finished one chapter, looked for another, and in the table of contents, I saw my three plays listed as the "The Problem Plays," most notably, Troilus and Cressida. Bloom writes about T&C, "It is also the most difficult and elitist of all his works." (page 327)
Thersites: Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such knavery! all the

argument is a cuckold and a whore; a good quarrel to draw emulous factions and

bleed to death upon. Now, the dry serpigo on the subject! and war and lechery

confound all! (II.iii.80)
See: Thersites is an ill-formed Greek servant, a bit of comic relief throughout the play. And he's ranting and raving, usually making rather pointed, if vulgar, comments.
Damn funny guy. I've seen this play a few times, read it several times, and enjoyed it immensely. The battle of Troy, in case you don't remember, was over some woman who ran off with another guy, Thersites's "cuckold and a whore." But Thersites, while his comments might have been intended for political pundits of the time, and the character mocks them, some of his comments might really apply to more modern situations. Like that California race.
I got to get some sleep, I have to work today.
Austin - work - Texas & some Shakespeare:

"Sometimes am I king,

Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,

And so I am. Then crushing penury

Persuades me I was better when a king;

Then am I king'd again, and by and by

Think that I am unking'd by Bolingbroke,

And straight am nothing.

Shakespeare's Richard II (V.v.32-38)

(What I get for reading Bloom's text before going to work.)
What struck me about the passage was that it appeals to how it feels, kingly and yet undone, at the same time. Being broke does that to a feller; although, I doubt that Richard II feels my pain. And going to the show, I was pretty much broke.
A Pisces buddy was there, with his three-pack of kids. Names? Bubba, Skeeter & Possom.
True story.
One client was translating for her hearing impaired sibling, who was quite gifted at lip reading but couldn't make out a word I said. She made a funny face with this comment, "He says he 'lives like a monk'," and both of the women guffawed at that comment.
But I do live like a monk.
A group of us dined at Threadgill's after work. I tried to take some pictures, but I guess this all sadly loses the air of camaraderie and gentle chiding. Plus everyone wants to know about Mars being backwards, "folks are a little tense."

Me? I stopped off at Sandy's, on the way home from Gill's, hoping to catch a sunset. Snagged a Malt. It's still summer time, and dip in the creek felt like a good idea, only I was just too tired.
Texas Radio and the big beat

Turn up the volume! (We are not responsibl for outside links!)

Texas Radio - The Doors' LA Woman


Lyrics - the wasp
L.A. Woman
Song: the wasp (texas radio and the big beat)

i wanna tell you 'bout texas radio and the big beat
I want to tell you about Texas Radio. I want to tell you about Jim Morrison, a dead rock star, a Sagittarius, cut down by Saturn. I thought about this one, for a long time, took some work, took some thinking.
>i'll tell you 'bout texas radio and the big beat

>soft drivin', slow and mad, like some new language


>now, listen to this, and i'll tell you 'bout the texas

>i'll tell you 'bout the texas radio

>i'll tell you 'bout the hopeless night

>wandering the western dream

>tell you 'bout the maiden with raw iron soul
And that's the whole point. Texas Radio and the big beat.

Sleep patterns

Weird weather. Looks like it's summertime again, much to the chagrin of most folks. Heat doesn't bother me a bit, but that brief respite was nice. Found the missing horoscope reference, right in last week's scope - under Aquarius.
Just goes to show, the best place to hide something is in plain view. Off to work on a Saturday morning. Got two - hopefully - full days in Austin.
Working almost non-stop on the forthcoming book, "Fishing Guide to the Stars: fishing for love thru the zodiac," has got my sleep time turned around. I still have to write horoscopes. I still have to do consultations. I still have to attend to matters of the website - got reports of a broken page again Thursday morning, just as I was stepping out. Quick fix. Some days, it feels like the webpage is nothing more than a hastily cobbled together entity. I keep aiming for tight code, but never get there.
My sleep patterns are all off by now. I never fully recovered from the last Mercury respite, and here it is again, fast approaching.
As I was combing through the book text, one last time, I still stumbled across unmarked typographical mistakes. That's the hazard of publishing when Mars is backward. The first edition will have a few mistakes. Just the way it goes.
The other disruption to sleep patterns? Not even remotely astrological? Upcoming trip to London. On the schedule for that trip? How could I miss a chance to see "Jerry Springer: the Opera"? Plus, there are a few plays I'll catch, and I like to reread the text and some scholarship on the plays that I'll be seeing. Improves my experience.
Problem being, after reading some Bloom? I'm tempted to address blank word processor screens with "Dear Gentle Reader..." and similar - frankly Victorian - terms.
What a wonderfully weird day it was. One my clients is a published poet, and - according to her - following my advice - working a lot these days. Teaching, freelance, whatever. She wrote an online astrology course. Now, she doesn't have time to teach it. Offered it to me. That's looking good so far. Just basic astrology, but I can handle that. In my sleep, even. She's a Cancer Sun Sign. Looking over the coursework, I laughed. The last module in the class? "3 big players: Rising Sign, Moon Sign & Saturn." Saturn just entered Cancer. Coincidence? Sure.
The course is available for online learning.... the only thing that changes is I'll be teaching, not the girl pictured.
What could make the day more perfect? A truly wonderful shot of espresso. At that place, which used to be Ruta Maya, but is something else now. I stopped by, after checking the mailbox, and grabbed a quick cup. I wished I'd asked the birthday, but there was a line forming, and I didn't realize just how good that espresso was until I was halfway back to the bridge. The foam on top was so rich, so thick, after I'd sipped it some, there was a half-moon arc inside the paper shot cup, and finally, after I downed the last of it, I stuck my finger down inside the cup to get the last of that coffee-espresso foam. It was that good.
Duty called, and I had to forgo social obligationsfor work. Late night reading, or, at least an evening reading. With BBQ sauce, hush puppies & chicken fry (chicken fried steak).
Got home and discovered that The Fat Guy gave me a nice tip of the hat, but he divulged one of my past lives. Besides, as much as I enjoy his ramblings, I'll be interested in what he has to say about music.

I'm so excited

Dukes of Hazzard remake! (via The Fat Guy)
And I quote: "Bloomberg urged New Yorkers not to panic. "
Just imagine a New Yorker not in panic mode.
Which got me to thinking - any wagers on a spike in birthrates, oh, say, in about 9 months? What's that, Taurus?
From the NYT (reg.):

"Even former candidates are weighing in. Gary Hart, who began his blog in March, doesn't bother to read other digital diarists. 'If you're James Joyce,' he said slyly, 'you don't read other authors.' Now there's a man with a future in blogging."
I know the feeling. But when I'm stuck, looking for a way to explain how Mars is making things miserable, I do read some online journals, usually local, and usually amateur writers. Usually very good, too, in a wryly amusing way.
A fine post about Texas Cuisine. (via The Fat Guy again) Except for the part about enchiladas. See: we have Maudie's, a local chain. Last time I was there, about a week ago, the perspicacious dining companion pointed out that there was no mention of other locations on the menu - a nice touch.
Anyway, Maudie's "Strait Plate" is the way a Tex-Mex enchilada should be prepared. Three corn-tortilla-wrapped enchiladas filled with spiced ground beef, covered with "con carne" sauce, then layered with cheese, liberally sprinkled with diced onions, and a fried egg on top. Maudie's has a secret ingredient, too: garlic. Roast garlic, or garlic or something "garlicky" for the salsa. The hint shows up in everything making it better. What's worse, I know I've used that very mention in a horoscope recently - and I can't find it!
Weird picture for the day, as I was heading back downtown and homeward from Bouldin Creek Caffeine Dealer, there this was, and I'd been meaning to make note of it:

Backward book release

Ain't out yet. Still under construction. Poor Ms. Fredlet, had the misfortune of calling in at the wrong time.
Comments got me thinking, and thinking is something I'm not very good at. But as I ready the first edition for a run at the press, I recalled a conversation with my father, Pa Wetzel.
We talked about hooks. I have another idea for a book, one I've been toying with in draft format. Perfect as the companion piece to this one. Only, the romance text is getting launched first. In backwards motion. Well, heck, that stuff's been ready for this flurry of activity for over a year now. Might as well launch it.
To borrow a cliché, "run it up the flagpole and see who salutes."
"Yeah Kramer, we're hoping you'll be the 'creepy old man' at the conference."
I'm creepy enough, huh?
Keep those entertaining e-mails coming in....


Wednesday afternoon seemed perfect for a long walk, over to the Eastern Loop of the trail. I was in a relatively good place, but I wanted to insure that I stayed in that good place. I kept getting jostled by e-mail requests for "one quick question" and "where did the free stuff go?"
I was out at the ballpark, by the power plant, and meandering along the trail, I stopped to watch a couple of young kids trying to play a "home run" game. One pitcher. One batter. Two other guys milling around with ball gloves.
Also made me think of childhood trauma. I hate baseball. Don't ask. But it was refreshing to see those guys out doing summer activities.
The eastern loop, as it winds down to Pleasant Valley, then up around the south leg is pretty. Low clouds would momentarily obscure the (Leo) sun, yet, it was warm enough to almost qualify as hot. There was the slightest threat of rain, but none was forthcoming. At least, not while I was out. One cloud did dump about three big drops, but other than that, it was still a merry idyll for the afternoon.
I took pictures along the way trying to get the hang of how to focus the little camera up close. There were these white flowers, on a vine, behind the power plant, with purple hearts. None of those turned out. But it was a nice try. The joy of digital images? Erase them. No wasted film.
Also along the way, I mean, I got picture but you can't tell, there was a young guy, fairly pale, in a john boat, fishing. His head was shaved. Except for a strip running from the front to the back. Dyed orange. (Hint: this is not a fashion statement I aim to make any time soon. But still, this is Austin.)
Late lunch in a taqueria with Mexican soaps on the tube. Delicious, cheap, "beef tips in gravy" - Carne Guisada.
Then arc back along the freeway, and I had a choice, and I took the longer route, just because I could. Worked out to a good eight miles, I'm sure. I pulled up at home, just as the clouds were starting to get serious. A few minutes later, it was that sound of rain on a metal roof. Tin roof. Aluminum. Something.

Music for Mass

Pineapple (darling Pisces) (but not the sweet Pisces) had an interesting bit. Now, let's get this straight, right away, I'm not actively participating.


Music: Response (1)

Pineapple (darling Pisces) (but not the sweet Pisces) had an interesting bit. Now, let's get this straight, right away, I'm not actively participating.
Music: Response (2)
I had to think about this one. Long and hard. I clicked open the jukebox on the computer and took a look. Classic rock, hardcore country, lot of Texas artists, classic punk. Old punk country. New punk country. Folk. More Texas artists. One stuck in my mind, that recent release from Ray Wylie Hubbard, Growl. The final cut was getting some local airplay - destined to be hit, and certainly words I live by. Besides, for a Scorpio, the artist is a really nice guy. His songwriting always offers solace, humor, and slice of something not found elsewhere.
What I was looking for was "music that triggers some kind of response." (1)

There will always be, in my mind, a place for Deep Purple's "Machine Head." It has nascent astrology allusions, real or imagined, and it's got about two, maybe three driving songs that I figure belong on just about any road CD to keep me trucking down the road. It's a strictly summertime album, though. Consider it a guilty pleasure. C'mon, we all have certain secret songs we listen to.
"Music that triggers some kind of response"? (2)

There's one song I discovered from Faster Pussycat's self titled album, late 80's hair metal, I guess, and I can't say I like the whole album, "This city has no heart" is a song that I keep coming back to. Works its way onto most of my road compilations. Lyrics alone. I mean, I understand they're singing about LA, and I'm thinking about Dallas or Houston, but that's a trigger.
"Music that triggers some kind of response." (3)

The Gourds. Two songs from an earlier album, but "Gin and Juice" is a local live favorite. Saw them do it live at the last ACL festival (ACL is shorthand for Austin City Limits, you watch it on TV. We live it.) What hooked me, absolutely, was their song about El Paso. That town's a frequent destination, or has been, for the last decade. El Paso is just such a strange place for me. I'm used to desert, 7 years in Arizona. 2-3 years in New Mexico. But El Paso is Texas - sort of, anyway. Oftentimes neglected. Like the Gourds.
Music: response (1)

Hank III. Some of his bootlegs are even better than his slick production stuff. First show I saw, he opened, if memory is still good, with "7 Months, 39 days" - still a favorite piece from him. His hardcore whatever music is equally good, if not better. If you like that. Still reminds me of old school punk.
Music: response (2)

Another one that I can't find, someone burned it off Napster for me, was one song from Rank & File, circa 1982. See: it was the video. It was the song. It was some of the earliest of the supposed "cow punk" coming out of Austin, back in the early 1980's. Brings back memories. Rank & File isn't even listed these days. Album is titled "Sundown" - I think.
Music: response (3)

The Top. ZZ Top. Call them what you want. If you don't have Tres Hombres - simply put, you should. Personally, There's a strange one I kept playing with, back and forth, last week, from two albums that were slammed by critics, ZZ Top's "XXX Beatbox" back to back with Art of Noise Beatbox. It just made sense at the time and was rather entertaining. Plus, that Triple X (30) ZZ Top album ages well.
Music: response (4)

Lyle Lovett's "Step Inside This House" was a turning point in my life. One year at Xmas time, I'd asked my sister for it. I just wanted to see her in a record store looking for obscure Texas artists. What evokes so much memory with that album is Fromholz's "Texas Trilogy" (saw Steve himself sing it under the stars at Hill's Cafe one night). The other disc in the set, has a couple of songs, Michael Murphey's "West Texas Highway" song that has deep, personal significance to me. Plus, Lyle covers a classic Robert Earl Keen song, and I've been on that highway where the Tastee Freeze used to stand....
Music: response (5)

Robert Earl Keen, Capricorn, funny, droll, witty, and highly entertaining. His first live album has a couple of songs that should be classics. A little rough around the edges, but hey, it's still all good. My all-time favorite, still, is Live #2. What did you expect? It has a an anthem about 5 pound bass.
Music: response (6)

Buffett. I came across a collection in the discount bin at a clothing superstore, which was a compilation of the first two of Jimmy Buffett's first two albums. Country music, more or less. There was video, either at a concert or online, or buried on one of his many "greatest hits" CD's, showed him in a yoke shirt and cowboy boots, just him and a guitar. Which, if I recall, was the way I first saw him a very long time ago, at an East Texas outdoor festival. Don't even ask. Near as I can tell, seeing him onstage at the Jerry Jeff Birthday, one year, that one show was far more entertaining than a normal Buffett road show. He and Jerry Jeff sat and told stories, strummed guitars and sang a little bit. Amazing stuff. Favorite tune? Maybe "God's Own Drunk," off that first live album. Capricorn, too.
"Music that triggers some kind of response"?

Crystal Method. One album works for me, in fact, it's just about two cuts off that one album. I was riding along in a car with an Aquarius driving and another Aquarius navigating. Seattle, of all places. They had that album on. Just rocked my world. There's a sound, an instrumental refrain, I wonder what you call it when it's a DJ sample/mix? Whatever it's called, that musical refrain hit an inner chord. I think Ihad tyo end up paying retail for that CD.
Music response (1)

Who doesn't hear "Die Walkure" and think about the scene from that movie? Still, after seeing the whole Ring Cycle live, and with an uncle's expert tutelage, I came away from that less impressed with the flight of the large chested warrior chicks, and a lot more impressed with Seigfreid, the third opera in the cycle. Boy overcomes bad parenting (being raised by an ugly, mean-spirited dwarf), forges a swaord, slays a dragon, gets the girl. All set to live happily ever after, right? Sure. Until the next opera. Amazing orchestration, too.
Music response (2)

Pictures at an Exhibition was certainly a formative piece of music in its day. What is this now classified as, "art rock"? Regrettably, the rest of the ELP canon hasn't fared as well. But I was trying to segue between rock and classical. Not sure it can be done. I should link something like "The Planets," too.
Music response (3)

The Floyd. As in Pink floyd. I still find that Meddle can be listened to repetitively. Over and over. Time and again. I'm not as fond of the later work, although, there's this really curious echo - with me - when I was riding in from Gatwick Airport on the train, passing in front of a familar image. Imagine that as an Album Cover (that would be 12 inches by 12 inches), instead of as a jewel case.
Music response (4)

"This is a public service announcement with guitars!" I'm still pissed that some crook made off with my 3-CD set. As a back up, though, this one's almost as important.
I got what you want

ZZ Top sings about it on one album, "I heard it on the X" referring to, presumably, X-Rock 80, a station that was in Mexico, with enough wattage to reach most of the American Midwest, at one time. Or so the story goes. There's another tale, too, on that same album, about "The Balinese," and some recent scholarship shows this to have something to do with the Coastal Bend area, one of my favorite spots. Still, I can't mention the Gulf without thinking about one more song from the 80's: Mexican Radio. I was in rent car, on the beach, typing into a handheld, under deadline for copy, and Bubba had loaned me a tape of 80's hits. It was music that moved me, what can I say?
I got what you need

Chemical Brothers. The lyrics. Bubba's version of the show....
From their site:

Chemical Brothers
Music response (x5)

Music that triggers some kind of response

Music that triggers some kind of response (x2)
Music response (x6)

Music that triggers some kind of response
Music response (x4)

I got what you want

I got what you need
Two meat Tuesday.

Until the rest of my proofreaders get done with the text, the book's not ready. Plus, I mean, I am an astrologer, I can't launch it until the stars align. Big thunder boomers with lightening on Monday night. Meant Tuesday morning was a beautiful morning, cool enough to go with no AC, leave the door and windows open.
I had a great Tuesday. I worked for a spell - doing what I like to do - writing a horoscope, then I answered mail and the phone, and then, I had a sudden inspiration. I had three calls come in, all at the same time. Folks seem just a tad stressed. Blame Mars, blame the Moon, but don't blame me.
I left the cell phone on its charger. No phone. No PDA. No pager. Made for an excellent afternoon.
I was intending to hike all the way over to the East Side, but I when I turned off the freeway, I looped back towards town, thinking about an espresso at The Hideout. I'm not sure how I did it, but one of the points to a pointless afternoon ramble is to have no definite destination. I was traveling light: I had a camera and $20 - that was it.
I missed that Scorpio at the coffee shop but I caught the Taurus, suffering from a hangover and an irate Virgo significant other. I feel your pain, brother. I asked for a little extra bitterness in the coffee, which he didn't oblige with. However, I did finally get some good shots of what a perfect espresso looks like - the color of the airy foam on top, the rich texture of a dark, espresso roast.
I stepped back into the real world of downtown. The recent rain has left it unseasonably cool. Only made it up into the 90s. Didn't feel at all like summer.
Went by the Post Office. No notices in the mail. Up and over the pedestrian bridge, quick plunge in the creek, then I stopped by for Tuesday's special, Two Meat Plate, with fried okra and a salad - ranch dressing - and while I was reading the paper, up pops a former neighbor. The Neighbor.
We sat in the afternoon's light, under the shade trees, shooing away flies and enjoying beers & briskets, and a few lies.
"When I lived at Shady Acres...."
Which was amusing, as the tale of improbable dimensions would end with, "True story, right Kramer?"
Right. Sure.
"Cousin" Gemini, "el Jefe" Cancer, "Jer-bear" Taurus.
Note: that's my ice tea.

Bank Heist -

"Gee bubba, I thought it might be you but YOU would never wear a shirt into

the bank! Oh, you aren't chubby either."
----- Original Message -----

Sent: Monday, August 11, 2003 12:37 PM

Subject: APD Press Release - Bank Robbery # 7



> August 7, 2003

> Contact: Public Information Office


> Time: 3:53 p.m.

> Date: Thursday, August 7, 2003

> Location: Wells Fargo, 501 S. Congress Ave.

> Narrative:

> The suspect entered the bank, displayed a note and

> demanded cash. The teller

> complied, and the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

> The suspect is described as:

> * White male

> * Approximately 30 years old

> * Approximately 5'9" tall

> * Chubby build

> * Short red hair

> * Last seen wearing a dark shirt, blue jeans, sunglasses, a gold

> earring in right ear and carrying a backpack
I have silver hoops in my right ear, two. And Thursday was "widows & orphans" as I recall. Besides, I wouldn't wear blue jeans in the middle the summer, not if I could help it. And it's hard to disguise 6-foot.
I wouldn't be whining about no money and folks who want to read the site for free if I'd just robbed a bank. Shoot, if I had that kind of cash, the whole thing would be free. And the book would be done by now.
Cover Art

I tapped Greg (Capricorn Sun Sign) for helping illustrate the book because his illustrations and caricatures of me have been - to me - hilarious. Since this is a self-publishing venture, I can make the call about artwork.
The original plan was to have a page dedicated to his artwork for each of the 12 signs. Preproduction bogged down when Mars retrograded, so I gave up on that idea. Schedules didn't work out right, and under the last almost full moon, in Capricorn, he came up with an idea.
I always wanted to incorporate a "crest" that includes crossed fishing poles and a cow skull. Where this stuff comes from? Who knows?
The first draft. Looks good. Works for me.
Second draft. "Dude, I don't know where it came from, you kinda, like, grew a fish tail. Or something. Your phone has an antenna, doesn't it?"
Final copy, inked in. "Yeah, yeah, the shirt, it would more than likely be blue with orange flowers." "Okay, sure. I added that Cap symbol dangling as a bit of vanity. I mean, I can take it out, if you want." "No, leave it. Looks good."
What I actually had to do was a bit of - to me - fancy layer work in a graphic program, making the image slightly transparent and placing a white background behind it to accentuate the two different levels. Myth versus reality.
Oh, who are we kidding? This is all non-reality.

Amusing weather, huh?

I got on a kick last night, since I might be traveling to the UK, I figured I would look for some London-town blogs. Kick the tires, see if it'll run.
I buried some links in upcoming scopes, but I kept muttering-laughing to myself as I was reading, lots of bitching about the heat. It hit 100, roughly 33 Celsius, I think. Think that's hot? I suppose, though, there's a cultural thing going on, and I would assume it's something a native Texan just doesn't get.
Sunday night, I did a single load of laundry, laundry for the last week or so. Bed linen was the big order of the event as it was full of cat fur. Poor fat cat is still shedding. Three pairs of shorts, one t-shirt, two Hawaiian shirts.
That was it. For ten days.
There was one other shirt I missed, see, when I leave, I'll grab shirt, but I don't actually wear the shirt, I mean, I've got one shirt here that I have yet to wear. I've used to mop sweat from my brow, I've used it to keep one shoulder from getting too much sun, and I've wrapped that shirt around water bottles, cups of coffee, and large cups filled with ice and coke. Haven't actually worn in it its intended way.
It gets hot and I wear less clothing. If I thought I could really get away with wearing just a loincloth, I'm sure I would. That's how to beat the heat. Plus a cold, spring-fed creek nearby helps.
100 degrees is a tad warm, but at least around here? It's a wet heat. I know, last week? 107 degrees and I did 7 miles in middle of the afternoon.
What's that quote? "Only madmen and Englishmen go out in the midday sun"?

Pizza for Breakfast - musical interlude

The cat dines on sumptuous cat food, but me? I've been reduced to leftover pizza. Courtesy of a Virgo. Times are tough. Shortly after the Sunday morning entry posted, I was up and milling around, and there was the coolest crack of thunder. Then rain. I went back to sleep with a martial beat of rain on a trailer's roof.
"I love the sound of rain on a tin roof..." (Kevin Fowler, 100% Texan, "Beer, Bait & Ammo.")
By the time Sunday morning dawned, at a respectable 11 in the morning, vestiges of the rain were gone. Even the puddles were baked away.
Which is funny, as Ma Wetzel wants me to join her in England in September, and I wonder if I can make an obscure musical allusion here? Know the line? (It is a good album, too!)
"To be in England..."
Just my luck, though, it's not on the Amazon sample.
Pizza for breakfast and a few 100 degree days will do that to you.
Ah, crap. Full Moon Monday, Moon's in Aquarius, Sun's in Leo. On a Monday. Much hilarity will ensue. (Many bad words omitted.)
"The Queen of Spades is friend of mine

The Queen of Hearts is bitch.

Some day when I clean up my mind

I'll find out which is which."
(Gram Parson's Anthology, "Ooh Las Vegas.")
> Don't know whether there was a link between the two things: your latest

> journal asked if "this web page makes my butt look fat" and the kitty cam

> image I just saw of you stretching.


> The answer is, no, your butt doesn't look fat.


> Maybe it's small for Texas standards?
Coincidnece, I'm sure, of unrivaled proportions.
Gratuitous Barton Springs Pool picture, late Sunday afternoon:

Earth signs.

"Hey, does this web page make my butt look fat?"
One of my neighbors in Shady Acres came by for reading. "Kramer? You're an astrologer? Could I get a consultation?"
I do like me my Virgo guys. So even-keeled. So equitable. Easy to get along with.
Moon was in Capricorn.
Earth flavor.
Next up? Taurus.
Next? Two Capricorn's. With issues. My fine Cap friends always have issues.
Finally rounded the day out with a Virgo.
All dirt. All good. All day.
Works for me.
Okay, so it's not always good. Mars, he's retrograde, remember? Closest he's been in years, backwards in Pisces. Up yonder, saw him when I was wandering home at night. In the east.
I'd made a last ditch call because it seemed like the thing to do, at a weird hour, and there I was, by the edge of the river, looking out over the serene scene, talking animatedly into the cell phone, ranting about Mars going backwards.
A little car pulls up and recognize the driver, a local artist, and he looks at me, sees the phone, and then tells me to quit talking to myself.
See: it's like this: as long as Mars is backwards, it's time for review and revision. I'm taking one last spin through the manuscript, looking for typos, grammatical problems, loose ends and whatever else might be wrong. Widows and orphans. Makes me nuts. I've corrected the term "food stuffs" three times. Should read "foodstuffs." Three times. Down to just one master document.
Making me crazy. Or crazier than before.

Freaky Friday Five

"Is it raining there yet?" Pa Wetzel was phoning in from someplace. N.B.: Ashton cigar for lunch. Not that great.
1) Wasn't raining and the morning was clear, blue sky, promising to be as hot as could be.
2) I took a short track version of the trail, needing to hit the bank and the P.O., and thinking, after a few minutes on the trail, I was frying my brains. Got myself confused about time zone and phone appointment, though, and figure it out - albeit - almost too late.
3) I took a call while I was walking, and I'm sure the ear bud wasn't obvious to people passing me on my left side. Looked like I was talking to myself, as I conversed with a Gemini about charts, Mercury & Mars. I caught myself gesturing with my arms while walking and talking. Just another freakazoid?
4) Redneck heaven, a hotlink, a giant cup of coke, and a lottery ticket. The guy behind the counter was smiling, "No man, it's not really hot, it's all in your head," was how he started out.
5) Thunder and rain. Just in time for rush hour. Thunder boomers echoed through downtown. "Rain? Here? Not a chance," what I said earlier in the day, to Pa Wetzel.
And now? The big picture, from Greg, from the last Mars Retrograde:
Bandwidth = $$$; ISBN = $$$

I was looking at Bubba's stats. Last month, he put almost a gig of text and data down the pipes from the whore. While that's a lot, it represents littler less than 20% allotted to that account.
I've done a number sites with that service/company, devota dot org, cranky amy dot com, the now-offline dominatrix site, and several commercial concerns.
Through prudent trimming, plus the onerous addition of paid subscriptions, I've dropped my bandwidth requirements, from a high of well-over 6 gigs in a month to a little less than 3 gigs these days.
Think that'll change much? I'm not sure. I'm not doing any advertising. Less than 5% of my site's traffic is generated by outside referrals, which means that the most folks are either getting this from a bookmark or word-of-mouth.
I tried to switch servers last spring. My experiment with cheap hosting failed miserably. There was a little problem with the host's downtime. Not much good to have a website if it's not accessible, like, 50% of the time.
That sucked.
The host I keep coming back to, though, I've had nothing but excellent luck with them thus far. The problem?
Their monthly limit on throughput is 5 gigs. While I'm well under that these days, a single link from a high-traffic portal could bounce me over that in a single day.
Plus, and I've been thinking about this for a while, the pictures eat up a lot of space on the server. While I've got two cameras now, that doesn't mean that the web pictures have to be larger. Plus there is untold megabytes of useless images, and even some stuff that's not linked, still drifting in back directories on the server. Way too much crap to clean up.
It's not like I don't have a lot of other details I'm concerned with keeping track of.
Got another ten day or so before the ISBN numbers arrive. In self-publishing, it's possible to get into all the big book catalogs by purchasing ISBNs. Did it, but I couldn't see that it was worth the extra $100 - $100 I don't have - to have the numbers "rushed."
I started the romance text, as a book, under orders from an editor, back in 1997. For years, it was a leisurely task, filling it in as I had a chance, especially when I had a particularly good example presented by clients.
Back then, I was also planning on answering each and every romance question by writing another entry. Nice idea, didn't work.
Couple of years ago, I fleshed the rest of it, and left it up here for a while. It was never intended to be a web reference, though, it was written to be a book. Why it was titled "experimental."
Shopped that text out to a few agents, never had a nibble. One agent suggested he was great at selling astrology & horoscopes, but he never made it by, like he promised.
So the book will launch, just as soon as everything gets itself together. Full-bleed cover, too. With a real ISBN, the new imprint, "astrofish.net press."
But damn, these efforts are running the bills up again. I was all set to cut up another credit card when I realized that I could, actually, get the ISBN deal handled. Right away. Or, in ten days, anyway.
I'm averaging two requests per day for access to the current weekly scopes, for free. Makes me wonder what folks are thinking. While that book text started out with an altruistic ideal behind it, the amount of effort that has gone into it? Years of work? I seriously doubt I will ever recoup a fraction of what I put into it. Same problem with the scopes.
$17 is lot to pay for a book that takes six weeks to be delivered. Plus shipping. However, with no big publishing concern to back that book, looks like I'll have to stick to that price.
In fit of late-night madness, inspired by coffee and two mutable signs (Virgo & Gemini), I had to add two pages of fine print, at the tail end, too. Just couldn't pass it up.
This reminds of racing motorcycles, that age-old expression, "nothing that cubic dollars can't fix." I'm going back to writing horoscopes, makes me a lot less cranky.

More weirdness & widow control

"Dude, like, is that credit card terminal on your desk?" To be a little more precise, it's not, "like a credit card terminal" - it is one. Hand me your card, I'll swipe it through, and we can take care of that $17 you owe me. Dude.
"Oh baby you're right, I'm wrong, I'm sorry, I love you." Gratuitous Leo note.
Lord, I haven't typeset - typed in years. I keep forgeting the "Option-Shift-Hooky-Control" monkey grip required for curly quotes. From word processor to text editor to web layout, and then, back again. I used to do this crap for a living, back in the day. Typing for dollars.
Getting the damn manuscript ready is just like that. Plus I'm racing the Mercurial clock, too. Always feels like a Dali painting, the one with melting clock faces. My mouse hand - left hand track ball - is starting to cramp up. I've paged through almost 200 pages and played with fickle MS Word setting, finally deciding to do certain tasks by hand, like the simple Table of Contents. Sure, the software can do it, but then I lose some formating, or I have to take seventeen extra steps. 23 extra steps, or just type pages numbers 12 times?
In typesetting terms, a "widow" is a single line from a previous page/chapter that sits all alone at the top of an otherwise blank page. I keep messing with minute magin issues, trying to get that last widow under control. Then repaginate.
It's 144 entries, plus some new - or old - material to help flesh out definitions of signs. Price point is bothersome for me, I figure a trade paperback like this is worth $9.95, but this first run, first edition? It's going to be priced at - I'm guessing - $17 even. This vanity, print-on-demand thing is costly, but since no regular publisher has picked it up, and I have assurances that at least 5 people will buy the damn thing, it's worth a try. Plus it's an excellent training ground for myself.
But the next time I think about self-publishing, I'm looking for some red-hot pokers to play with first.
The first design started out nice and slightly exotic with a great idea for artwork and an artist to do the work. But each page costs money and 12 pages of illustrations bump the price an extra buck. I've got one too many widows as it is. Plus that pesky Word setting, which is supposed to control those widows, doesn't want to comply.
Damn computers.
My afternoon respite was a pair of engaging Gemini girls and BBQ just down the road. Stopped off for a little Jo's coffee, and then, the next break was "bat time" as I sat outside and puffed on a recent acquisition, a Monte Cristo Corona. Sadly, it was not Cuban, and sadly, it's just not quite as good.
The cat retired with me in the summer's eve's air, lounging. She's taken to complaining about, and moving like it hurts to move. But after careful observation, this is strictly theatrical. You know, doing the "oh woe is me, Mars is really screwing up my day" kind of a walk. I opened a pop-top can of fruit and she moved pretty fast, obviously thinking it was food.
There's something to be said for sitting and watching the river run by, too. The bats are spectacular at this time of year, height of the mating and baby-bat-making season, wave after wave of them flying off, heading away from the sunset.


First off, the design question again, splash page or not? As the first thing a surfer-browser encounters when hitting the website, which is better?
Onto meatier topics: I've been reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
I have habit of reading with a pencil in hand. Usually, at least these days, with a cat asleep on my belly, or stretched out next to me on the futon. While I was reading Blood Meridian, I kept stumbling on short passages that I thought were worthy of quoting, a turn of the phrase, some bit of prose that was so emblematic that it deserved to be quoted. But as I looked over the pages with the lines underlined, I'll be damned if I could recall what was important at the moment. Maybe there was something about the way it was said, but with prose, and especially with McCarthy's style, taking something out of context renders the material useless.
However, reading a book should be interactive. Why I read with a pencil. However, even as much as I like the author's style, I prefer to use a little more punctuation.
The feeling, the senses, though, of the west, the oppresive heat and so forth? It was ringing in my ears when I was on the trail. Bank buidling said 107. Some how, I forgot to bring water. Stopped and bought a liter, wasn't risking it. Cleared over 7 miles in the hot sun. "Seven in 107."
Got home, took a nap, got on the phone with several readings. Then it was back to copyediting. I was winding my way through Sagittarius when Word gave me the dreaded error message, "Microsoft WORD has mysteriously quite working, like, you know, gone."
Now, I did get rather irate. I could fling stuff about, but I took a moment to get up and stretch, go outside the front door and look through the telescope. My neighbors must think me a bit strange, but what the hell.
I'd looked at the Sagittarius Moon a few hours earlier, but this is one of those really cheap, cheesy items, and it's not really good for looking at the stars. Or planets. Does give a nice view of the moon, though. But Mars? Not quite as good.
So what if I'm a bit odd, looking at planets at close to midnight on summer's night? There are worse things to be doing. One would suppose.
"The arc of circling bodies is determined by the length of their tether, said the judge. Moons, coins, men." McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian. Random House, NY. 1985 (Vintage, 1992). Pages 245-6.

Surf's up.

From an Austin writer, pictures from a meeting last month. Which lead me to a site, and there was a picture of myself. Looking like I always do, I guess.

"Man, your scope for this week was so good, just as I biting into a cupcake, I read what you said for Gemini."
Yes, this whole Mars/Mercury thing, leaves a girl a little teary-eyed?
Comfort food, that's a good thing.

Test pattern

per fredlet's tutoring.


Fans and flames.

Did dinner with my sweet Pisces and she looked through the Pisces stuff. Funniest comment can't be repeated, but it amounted to adding STFU, based on her experience with one sign. Don't think that'll make the cut. Unrelated, I did get on nice piece of mail, too.
It cycled through Monday afternoon, a comment about how my material is a little different from others.
> Takes a little getting used to after reading the "regular" stuff

> and very refreshing.
Still, there's one that's been bothering me for a few days now. I had to dig through the deleted mail to find it, and I did reply, haven't ever heard back. I wanted to know what sucked about the site now.
> so its been a while since I read your scopes.......I used to love the site but

> lost my computer for a while........what the heck did you do??? It sucks

> now.....
I'll bet it has something to do with having to pay for the current scopes. Or the new style sheet I was working on for the journal/web log.
Did I mention that Mars is retrograde in Pisces? Folks are howling a lot about that one.
Late Monday afternoon, I'd taken a detour over to the East Side (east side of I-35, where the food is generally better), to hit a particular store for a discounted item. Wandering back along the section of Riverside that is also Hike and Bike Trail, I remembered why I needed to stay off that section of roadway at rush hour. On a summer's day, the sun in the upper-lower western quadrant, nothing but concrete for over a mile, it's miserable. I can deal with the heat, but heat, exhaust fumes, the sun burning my face? I picked up a bottle of water and soothed my way into the shade, along the river's edge, after cruising along side the busy street. Whew.
Feast Day of St. James and sex.

Rather appropriate, patron saint of fishermen. "Man, does that mean I'm going to have to wear the tiara again? Just like our weekend in prison?"
(Source for that quote should be obvious.)
Then, lessons learned from the other afternoon? Folks who read this and have problems with the display of data on this a-here "down home" page should let me know.
"Yeah, Mozilla hammers it." So does early versions of Net Scrape, but if you're using that, then it's your own damn problem.
Another item that popped up was the request for a "sex entry" for the web writers weekend.
I've done this one before, and my preferences in local eateries has changed some, but I suppose I should write the Virgo - Three Margarita - Three Strike Out story. With an addendum.
Searched the archives, couldn't find it, thought I'd written it down before, but here goes...
Keywords: Virgo. Margaritas. Sex. Tequila. Some chips and hot sauce, too.
These females, other than all being Virgo Sun Signs bare little, if any, resemblance to each other. Female, lovely, but that's where it ends. Or begins.
I met each one at Guero's for an afternoon libation. I have it, on good authority that the tequila drinks there are strong, potent, and plentiful. Not being a drinking man these days, I wouldn't know.
So we met at the appointed hour, in the bar, on the patio, and proceed to entertain ourselves with food and stories. In all three situation, right after that third drink arrives, the girl is grabbing my ass, assuring me that, "I'm going to ride you cowboy like you've never been ridden before."
What was so funny was that all three girls (the term "girl" refers to all members of the female gender as in this situation there was a wide array of ages) used the same term. "Cowboy." "Ride you."
Me? I'm thinking, "Yee-haw, bring it on!"
The stories get a little taller, the target female gets a little more intoxicated, and in each situation, there's usually a fourth and fifth cocktail, but since I'm swigging on ice tea, stuffing chips in mouth, "Just bring a big bowl of the green salsa," plus, there's the afternoon shift change, it's okay to let the target female get as tipsy as she desires. Virgo, you know, have to numb the analytical ability, break down those inhibitions.
Alcohol is supposed to get rid of that painful, Virgo-like knee jerk reaction.
Something that begins so well, so full of promise? Usually ends badly.
The first time, the girl just shoved me out the door of her truck as she passed Shady Acres, "Tuck and roll!"
The second time, I was smarter, I had her inside on the couch, laying on the charm and starting to get comfortable when, all of a sudden, she bolted. "I have to change into a something more comfortable; I'll be right back."
Never saw her again, either.
Third time, third Virgo, I'm getting a little smarter. We get comfortable. Things are going rather smoothly, and I'm sure the first two were anomalies, right? I go to the bathroom, unbutton my shirt the rest of the way and come back out. She's on the couch, quietly snoring.
Throw the blanket over her, and go to bed. Alone. Again.
As I related that story, one of my buddies, whose name is not Bubba, asked why I didn't just "do her right there?"
With apologies to the late, great Sam Kinison, "I've been married before."
Now, the story does have an extra punch line. First off, remember the old rule of thumb, "Never, ever date someone who lives in the same trailer park as you."
I was having libation with a Virgo neighbor and friends, and she's from LA, as in Lower Arkansas. I regaled the group with the Virgo story, she looks over with those big, brown eyes of hers, and reminds me that she's from Louisiana, "And this is my fifth one Kramer, who's your mama?"
I'm told I had a look of abject fear in my eyes, which were as big as a plate with the Mauro special on it.

From the really old files

Digging around in my folks garage, I was ostensibly trying to go through a few old boxes of textbooks, and cart that crap off, I came across a really old manuscript of mine. I recognized the artwork as images I had pointedly stolen from someplace else. But the text? Vintage me, through and through. Sarcastic. Wry. With an economy of words I no longer employ.
Seeing as how some of the textbooks I unloaded were old Faulkner texts, I also uncovered a couple of books that I know are currently out-of-print, and as such, border on being collectible.
I hauled those boxes of books, after I sorted the good stuff out, up to the half-price bookstore, and I got really lucky. I walked out with enough money to pay for new purchases and a tall cup of coffee. Cool deal.
But the real find was that old text. I don't even know if I have a computer file of that material anymore. I'm sure it's all on a floppy someplace, but I'm not about to dig through all of those.... But the material itself? Stay tuned, coming up soon. Pre-WWW texts. Amazing what I can find lurking in the parental garage.
There are still a half dozen boxes with books. Gradually, I'm finding that I've got books that I've purchased again, because Dallas was just too far away to go when I needed - or wanted - a particular text.
Copy editing, never one of my strengths, is really getting troublesome. I get tired, bored, ran out of ink one time, and I'm just not that interested in the material. But this is going to make a dandy book, Real Soon Now.
Maybe unrelated - or maybe not - I looked at the July stats:
What I didn't bother to show was the static romance text is still one of the most popular destinations on the site.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Saturday morning used to be reserved for cartoons and cereal. Big bowls of some grain product liberally mixed with whole milk and coated with refined sugar. That's the way I remember it.
So I was channel surfing Saturday morning, and up pops the cartoon serial Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I reviewed the first movie, when it came out, and I recall some of the history of the original characters. I wonder though, the original version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a sarcastic way of parodying the existing comic book & cartoon genre figures.
Imagine that, it went from a distinctly underground parody and flight of imagination to movies, regular press, and eventually, to Saturday morning staples, like cereal. I haven't looked, but I'll bet there's a TMNT box of sugary delight on some store shelves.
I hopped a flight back to Austin, and walked out side rolling my suitcase, toting my computer bag, caught a 50 cent bus downtown, and in the simmering downtown heat, I looked over at the Hideout, and figured that the Saturday fill-in help would be good enough to make me a decent espresso shake. Just what I needed.
Maybe I didn't really need it, but I enjoyed it, while I was pulling my suitcase on its rollers, through downtown, across the pedestrian bridge and back to Shady Acres. Suitcases on rollers don't handle gravel very well.
Amy's on South Congress - at night:

More miles, more pictures.

Many more pictures. I was worrying through the family's network settings, going from machine to machine to "develop" the pictures I got on Thursday's long drive, and what I finally did was slide that "film" into my own laptop.
Idiot-proof computer? Sure.
The Comet Drive-In, on historic Route 66, in Santa Rosa, NM. Good grub.
Another shot of the horny toad.
And what was my favorite for setting up, although the image didn't work out right, two white weeds/flowers silhouetted by a working oilrig.
Test Pattern

New one, from Cadillac Ranch, just a few blocks west of Amarillo.

Wow, some miles.

Stay tuned, got some picks coming up.
Going through security at Dallas Love Field, airline code - DAL, I got a chuckle out of one security guard as she read my t-shirt: Vegetarian, Indian Word for Lousy Hunter. Cattleman's Steakhouse, Fabens, Texas.
Sitting in the lounge area, waiting on the plane to fill up, another young lady looked up at the shirt, smiled, and giggled.
Of course, the cute Virgo in Santa Rosa, NM, she just thought I was odd. She was a Scorpio, as was her mom, as was my mom, who I was traveling with.
I got three calls in the morning, before I ever got out of Albuquerque, from Gemini's. One of them was railing on and on at about a Scorpio parent and a control issue. I looked over at the driver - Scorpio - "not going to let you drive until I have to" she was muttering. Nope, not an issue with Scorpio's.
It was actually a rather enjoyable trip, except for the flies. See, when I stopped to take pictures at the Cadillac Ranch, just a few blocks west of Amarillo, on I-40, Ma Wetzel obviously let in about a dozen flies. So we'd be motoring down the road, and I'd roll down the window, "That's one fly gone...."
Since she was much alarmed about her financial condition, I reiterated about the choices of bridges, and shopping carts, pointing out that there was a bridge near Shady Acres, along with a few dozen bats, and she was welcome to make herself at home there....
While stopped because I desperately wanted to get a picture of a windmill, while I was tromping around taking pictures of cactus buds, I ran into this guy, ostensibly a horny toad, which is actually a spiny lizard, but never mind that now.


We're Number One!

Couldn't pass this one up. Wednesday's morning's news included the statistic that Dallas has more crime than LA.
Couple that Dallas is more dangerous than LA with the fact that Houston is dirtier than LA, and Texas, once again, emerges as a clear victor in the race for supremacy. We're dirtier and more dangerous than any other place in the US.

Best 50-cent deal in Austin

Airport flyer. Via Capital Metro's Airport Flyer. 50 Cent ride to the airport. Better yet, the flyer departs downtown right around the corner from the the hidout. Grab some of the best cappuccino from the morning Scorpio barista.
I slipped my sandals off to pass through the security perimeter, and I was sorely tempted not to bother with putting them back on. Shades of an era gone by, when long-haired guys would travel on airplanes barefoot. Guess I would need some bell-bottomed jeans to round out the ensemble. Not likely.
I'm not sure that it's any more odd than a conservative-looking dad with his two young daughters, and pop was wearing "punk rock edition" t-shirt.
Methinks the world is bit mad these days.
Thursday's schedule: 7 AM flight to Albuquerque, shuttle to Santa Fe, pick up the car and Ma Wetzel, and drive them both back to big D. In one day. I'm not sure she's familiar with my wandering, meandering, truck-stop ways, and byways, either.
So into a mad, mad world, I am thrown.
I spent a goodly portion of yesterday evening in the company of my father. Pa Wetzel. Whatever. We have a little side project we're both working on, and I needed him to get some numbers, previously alluded to in a meeting that afternoon. Following this? He needed to sit at his home computer and do a little work.
I bought dinner - he ate pretty healthy except for the bacon bits on the potato. We get to "Wetzel Manor," which, according to my Sister, is more like "Wetzel Cabana," and he sets out to do fulfill his assigned task for the evening, crunching me up some numbers.
I go outside and dig through some boxes of books in the garage. I water one of the plants. I surf on Ma Wetzel's cute computer. I check on Pa Wetzel.
"I'm just reading today's mail," he claims, "then I'll get those numbers."
I wander off to leave him to the mail and such. I check back in half an hour.
"I try to read at least one article before I get to work," he says, thumbing through a tech journal.
I come back in another hour, "You know Mars is the closest it's going to be, coming up soon?" he asks, dawdling on a web page - not my page, just a science news site.
"Let me just check the mail, see if your Sister has sent any news of her show," he says.
Was it this tough to get me to do homework?
Submitted: I come by my procrastination skills naturally.

Feast Day of St. Martha

Remember her? I am not making this one up - the patroness of housewives. FIRST CENTURY patroness of housewives. Not to be confused with any modern variation.
Going to be a long week. The travel plans, such as they are, include Dallas and New Mexico, if only NM for a few hours.
So it's off to the airport, and from thence to a handful of meetings, and from thence?
Screw it, I just don't Big D as a "thence" town.
But they do have big catfish in Big D.
True story, and you can't get this anyplace else on the web, the police divers for Dallas Police Department used to be afraid, very afraid, to do the "search for body" dive along the dam at Dallas's own White Rock Lake. It's bad enough that there's a ghost - "the lady of the lake" - but there's also some six-foot long catfish down by the dam. Big catfish. Big enough to eat a body, or so I've been told.
"No man, we don't like doing that dive. Visibility is only about 2-foot, at best, and then you sidle up next to some thing with scales as big as your thumb, imagine what the head on that sucker must look like?"

Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail

Sure, it's the bane of my existence. A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for Know Spam dot net.
A few days later, while in Dallas, I got rather irritated with the way it was blocking not just some, but all the mail on one account. Pissed me right off. The service had a couple of glowing reviews from A List personalities, so I figured it was worth a second chance. Besides, it did reduce my irritation factor three-fold.
I don't need a bigger you-know-what. No complaints. I don't need knock-off quicker pecker picker uppers. I'm not looking for any triple X-ray sites. Although, I did model my subscription service after their models; however, I'm pretty sure I'm substantially cheaper; although, the titillation factor might not be as high.
But it's been a little frustrating. It did catch an incoming order. Didn't like that. It did prevent any correspondence from certain family members, too, didn't like that. But over all? It's getting better.
While I was in Dallas, I burned up over an hour of connection time, just trying to sort through and delete the piles of messages that accumulate. On a modem? At an expensive dial-up rate? Chapped my rosy red backside, that's for sure.
But I gave it another spin.
So far, so good. It's not great, but less and less crap is finding its way into my inbox. If you have problem, just answer the challenge and see what happens next. It's started to stem the tide. There's a chance that this and similar services might make a difference.

It can buy a House...............But not a Home

It can buy a Bed..................But not Sleep

It can buy a Clock................But not Time

It can buy you a Book..........But not knowledge

It can buy you a Position......But not Respect

It can buy you Medicine.......But not Health

It can buy you Blood............But not Life

It can buy you Sex..............But not Love
So you see money isn't everything, and it often causes pain and suffering.
I tell you all this because I am your Friend, and as your Friend I want to take away your pain and suffering...
So send me all your money.
And I will suffer for you.
Test patterns

Valentine, TX. I'm just hoping I remember this one for the right time. Who knew one digital image could get so much mileage?
Bar scene dream sequence.

This one was weird. Might have been the spicy food, might have been the rich sauce, or the rosemary and thyme. Never can tell.
I was working a bar, like I used to work, a while back. Same dishes, sinks, racks of glasses, same space, only reversed from what I knew it as. Plus there was some serious firepower back there, but that was only tangential.
I remember mixing one drink, besides the usual, and it was for a motorcycle-riding buddy. He grabbed a knife-tool, and we put a big hole in a can of sweet & sour concentrate, then I pumped a few shots of that into a shaker with some peach brandy. Add ice, shake.
A little later, two kids came in, and the other bartender said there was going to be some action. We had to hunker down behind the bar, on the bar mats, as one kid pulled out a machine gun. When he pulled the trigger, bubbles floated out of the barrel.
I grabbed a pistol from up over one rack of bottles and proceeded to return fire - with feathers.
Spicy food does that to me, sometimes. Or just a late night peanut-butter sandwich. Half sandwich, just one piece of bread.
Have to be late night dreams.

Butterfly wings

I was on the trail today, and I was looking upstream from where I was trudging along, and a runner wearing fairy wings, waving a butterfly wand hove into sight.
Some folks might find this a tad bit odd. Some folks might find it strange. Some of us, at least where I live, and in the company I frequently keep, might not see anything strange about this at all.
It was a familiar person. I recognized her face. She's been to me for a reading a time or two, and she's about my age, if I recall. Darling lass. We pass each other on the trail infrequently and usually she has that "runner's purpose" thing going on, doing her 10 or 20 miles day she usually runs. Or something like that.
Anyway, by the time I popped on around to the other side of the trail, we met in crossing again, and this time she stopped. It's Mayan day of some kind, and she was celebrating by running along with wings on her shoulders and the silken image of a huge Monarch Butterfly on the end of a wand.
We chatted for about 30 seconds,
Should I be worried that I personally know some freak running around with fairy wings on her back?
Should I be concerned that she called me out by name, "Hi Kramer!"
Should I worry that we chatted amicably for a half a minute, all the while she was waving her little wand over me?
Or, in closing, should I be worried because I thanked her effusively for "making my day a little brighter"?
Test patterns

Bridge badge - from the pedestrian bridge, built over the Fiesta Gardens inlet, May 2000
Yeah, that was the big alignment in Taurus. Plus one of the server companies I keep looking at, I've set up a half dozen web sites there , has a five gig monthly through-put limit. And if I were to move this site over there, the "five ton limit" seemed like an apt allegory.

Thursday threesome

Started weird and never really got much better.
Sort of strange day as Mars finally hit its turning point. Slowed to a crawl, almost backwards, mostly stationary, and not a lot of stuff going on, not for me. Mars in Pisces seems to leave my brain a little fried.
Had one appointment, late in the afternoon for looking at an Aquarius chart. Then dinner with a group at a local restaurant. Then I got one of those panic calls, and I picked up some coffee and ambled home to business.
Two more young ladies, one in distress, one in jeans, okay, they were both wearing jeans, wondering what was going on.
Mars, "just fixin' to turn retrograde" means that Virgo's and Capricorns were upset with boyfriends. So I listened. Nothing I haven't heard before, but it was all strange.
Me? I don't let little things get in the way, not like a small red orb, someplace distant in the sky. Nope, not me.
Finalized arrangements for upcoming travel, off to Dallas, then NM, then back to Dallas and finally back home. Next week is pretty strange, too. Only took three days to iron out a two-day trip.
I wrote a very nasty letter to a certain oil company that I have a credit card account with. I was very tempted to post it here, too, but discretion won out, at least for the time being.
flame on!
Dear Shell Oil Co.:
Enclosed, you will find two envelopes. One is addressed to me. One is addressed to:
Leslie A Dubois

2941 Ellenwood Dr.

Fairfax, VA 22031
I am loathe to use certain terms from the vulgar vernacular, but all I can ask, is "WTF?"*
You and me, Shell and myself, we've had this problem with you not sending me a bill, then hitting me up for late fees. Twice. Three times. Your asinine collection people call, then I reiterate that I need to see a statement, and the collection folks act dumb.
Then, I finally got a bill, four months later, with Ms. Dubois's bill glued to mine.
I'm sure she' a nice person, but since I don't know her, I'm not about to pay her bill. In fact, I think it's illegal for me to open it, so I didn't. I'm paying the postage to return it.
But I guess that answers the question as to why I kept getting hit with your late charges and not getting a bill.
Fix your problem.
Laeti edimus qui nos subigant!
Kramer Wetzel


P.O. Box 684516

Austin, TX 78768
*WTF = what the fuck

"It's like a Fellini Movie...."

The exact quote, attributed to Bubba Sean, ran something like this, "It's like a Fellini movie, if Fellini and Kinky Friedman were smoking pot together."
The quote came close to the end of the evening, as a group of us were sitting by the edge of the river, me and Bubba, smoking big cigars, swigging on bottles of water, watching the river, and entertaining ourselves.
Just a quiet summer night, at the edge of the river. Gemini, Virgo, Leo, my Sagittarius self. The stories were tall, and unbeknownst to some folks, actually true.
"I live like a monk," I did protest. Couldn't see in the evening's darkened state, but from the comments, my protestation didn't go over very well, probably much rolling of the eyes.
"Kramer, you're claiming a Tibetan monk, but I think you're not quite there, more like on of those clubs in Thailand. - right part of the world, but your geography is a little off."
See? No one understands me.
Earlier, I'd been outside Zen (fast Japanese food) slurping a Jo's Latte, gradually spooning a small dish of Amy's ice ream into the coffee. The afternoon, for a little while, looked like it was going to cool off. I was testing some new material, out the current working draft of a manuscript on a different Gemini.
The rain, what little there was as a "cold" front swept through, and momentarily dropped the temperature to a cool 77 degrees. Cool enough to require donning a shirt.
In fact, some nice guy in a truck waved me in front of him while I was standing outside, in the rain, waiting to make a deposit at the teller machine.
When I was wandering back from an early swim in the creek, I was briefly enthralled by the clarity of the creeks water, the contours of the bottom were clearly visible. The fish? They still mock me.
I'm not sure how to reconcile this image with a Fellini movie, but it could be me.
7/23 Cappy & Austin
Thanks, Greg!
And one more cartoon. Or CAT-toon.
Pizza prevents cancer?
Nothing is quite as good as a long soak in a cold creek to clear the head. Too bad the "swimmer's ear" treatment has started leaving my ears plugged. Can't figure that one out, I mean, after soaking my head for a while, I've found a little prophylactic rubbing alcohol helps prevent infections. Must be a better way.
I had to stop and observe the tiny fish darting back and forth ion the water. Must've spent the better portion of an hour, standing waist deep in the creek, trying to figure out why one school of fish kept following me around.
I'd stand in one spot, and the fish would spool up next to my feet, casually nibbling on the algae on a rock. I'd step into deeper water, chest high, and the fish would follow. I'd move into shallower water, those minnows followed me. Fingerlings, really, not much more than a few inches long, bait fish, I suppose.
I noticed part of shoe on the bottom. Part of a recreational raft of some kind, now deflated, obviously, lying on the bottom, each item covered with a thin layer of sediment in the rapidly flowing creek.
I'm pretty sure those fish were mocking me. I've got an attitude now.
Downtown Dallas - homeward bound
I had a few minutes to kill downtown, before another meeting.
I jotted a few random images, working backwards, watching the city wake up on a summer's Monday morning.
The way the pigeons would pick through garbage, in one case, from a place that obviously was open late the night before.
"Welcome Mary Kay" signs and marquees. Bet there was a pink convention happening.
Watching a comely lass struggle with a rolling-frame cardboard box, tan skin, white dress, struggling, and the girl was having troubles. She had that ruffled, "I had too much to drink last night" look about her. The cardboard box kept tipping over, revealing several large binders of information. She got to one address, looked up at the building, the stairs, the address on the paper, and then she stood there for a minute, lost in thought, a not-so-vaguely disgruntled look on her face. Apparently, judging from the actions and reactions, the delivery and the address on the paper didn't match.
"How far away do you think the railroad is?" (Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
Amtrak was supposedly 24 minutes late out of Mineola (TX), but it was waiting for me when I rolled on into Union Station. Reunion Station. One of those, can't remember.
It somehow oddly comforting, in a slew behind a series of tract homes, a big subdivision south of Ft. Worth, there was a great blue heron landing in a pond of some runoff. Barely visible from the lounge car, in the middle of the afternoon.
I was digging through my expenses, and I came across a Starbuck's receipt, on the back, I'd scrawled a verbatim discussion - more like a monologue - from a counter employee. Bored, "I want to be a comedian" kind of a guy. Tall, clean-cut, probably early 20's, good attitude, typical dry delivery, as he took note of the $20 I passed him to pay for the shot of espresso, "Wow, old 20 dollar bill, don't see many of them anymore."
"Yeah," I responded, "no metal stripe with identifying strips of metal, tracking every transaction, closer and more accurate than credit cards."
"I know, when I sell [unregulated substances> I always insist on being paid in old 20's. I'm kidding man. I don't insist that they pay in old 20's."
I laughed. I was just afraid no one else got the joke.
Another downtown image, there's a location that used to be a photo lab, and these days, it's a tacqueria. Food was good, breakfast tacos priced somewhere between fancy East Austin, $1.75 and Austin airport, $3.
I just wonder if they use the same chemicals in the vats in the back?
Bosque county and that lone fishing boat on the Brazos river. I'll swear, I see it every time. Nod to the the fat guy on that topic. It's harsh land, I've been on foot, I know, but it's also, perhaps, some of the prettiest. Sure has been for the last couple of years. The Brazos River valley, on either approach, on the rails, it's just pretty. It's a wide valley, and as the train slows, the fir, the oak, the vines crawling up over the top of the telegraph lines, the big cut through the limestone rocks, some of those railway cuts must be near a hundred years old, or older, and the scenery, the vegetation. Okay, so it's not the Rocky Mountains or anything, yet, there's a lonely, harsh beauty to it all. Anyone who hasn't seen just can't appreciate the serenity of the summer's greenery.
It's about prickly pear cactus, evident in great profusion. Sure, it's a cactus, but it's more. Succulent leaves, a few thorns, it's not like it's a dangerous cactus or anything, and it was in abundance. It's one of those that smart animals - and smart people - have an easy time avoiding.
The torrential rain from the hurricane, plus an almost unseasonably wet summer left the Brazos River Valley just gorgeous - sliding by in the big silver train.

Feast Day of St. Victor of Marseille

Patron saint of feet? Something like that. Saturday night was Billy Bob's, the "largest honky-tonk in the world,," according to the hype.
Personally, I just think it's an okay place to see music performed. The local folks always added a much-appreciated dose of color. The headliner was Michael Martin Murphy, a vestige of the cosmic cowboy movement, the original outlaws, back "in the day." Back in the day, it was Michael Murphey, and he was one of the originals.
Admitting that I was influenced by that music at a certain time, in my life, obviously leaves some wide-open suggestions as to age. Something I lie about, as often as possible. According to some sources, I'm really suitable for retirement living.
Yet, the song Michael Murphey opened with on Saturday night was a familiar tune, and one that I'm particularly fond of, "Southwestern Pilgrimage." To suggest that the song was a big influence in my life is weird, because, it's melody haunted me for years and years. Drifted out to New Mexico, then further, on into the Arizona territories, doing my own version of a Southwestern Pilgrimage. I think the lyric is something about, "and where the wheel stops, nobody knows."
Throughout the show, the banter between songs, the singer was clearly a real cowboy these days, a singing cowboy, like Roy Rogers et al, and the Michael Murphy was clearly grown, matured and walking a fine line. Member of the NRA, so he said from the stage to a rousing display of audience approval, and yet one of his early songs was a protest song "Geronimo's Cadillac."
Folks with a Western American heritage don't have trouble reconciling such points of view, and I found it interesting that the singer pleaded for more grazing animals. Not more cattle, not more horses, but more grazing animals on the prairies. Only makes sense, too.


I was trying to figure out why the train was showing up as "full," when a whole youth group got on in Ft. Worth. Another mystery solved. The most exciting portion of the ride: First Baptist Colleyville. Two of the keepers, or herders, were seated next to me.
Curious, one of the kids was wearing a T-shirt, an Apple logo on the front, the apple with a bite out, and the shirt read, "Once you go Mac, you never go back." Kind of funny, and then, after I got all picked up to speed with kids sitting behind me trading bible verses like baseball cards, I was a little tremulous, scared, even. Them folks really don't like folks like me. The train was full of them, too. Hundreds.
Maybe thousands. They covered the platform in Ft. Worth, eclipsing the station. Then, on the very short trip while we shared seats, the couple of herders, or sponsors as they referred to themselves, were going on and on about looking at feet and reading the signs.
That's like palmistry, except for the feet, and palmistry is a form of divination, and most of the Baptists I've previously encountered are very much opposed to heretics like me.
I was rather relieved to hop off at Union Station, in Dallas.
Test patterns

Skull and bones motif. Not sure that it's absolutely correct, but the image is from a Spanish Mission in South Texas. The carving is up over a north-facing entrance to the church's sanctuary in the mission itself.


I clicked through on something which lead to something which then lead to something else which then, finally, got around to the ubiquitous Cafe Press outfit. They still owe me a couple of bucks.
That link to link to link travel, I had to dig back through the browser's cache to find it - Cafe Press will be doing books soon, so they claim. I've got a manuscript I've got to hammer into shape for their process. Looks like it'll be a damned expensive proposition, though. The problem being, in the present format, the raw cost of the production would run about $12 per book. And from what I figure, it's only worth $9.95 - trade paperback. That's a negative $3. Maybe my math ain't so hot, but I sense that there's serious difficulty and disparity here already.
Then, I've got to worry if someone would try to beat me my copyright on using certain materials, like Sagittarius, Scorpio, Gemini.

Test patterns

Six Shooter draw is just a little north of the Trans Pecos region.



The River Why was recommended by a regular reader, and for the life of me, I can't remember who. Maybe more than one, for all I know. I ordered it, one late night, off Amazon, and the book sat in my "to read" stack for many months. Might have been there for over a year.
I cracked it open, and I was immediately disappointed with the Bantam Trade Paperback binding - just piss poor glue. No two ways about that. I may one of the biggest fans of "not influenced by appearance" but in this case, the way the pages dimpled in the binding's gutter, it just didn't sit well. It's like, every page has a little hills and valleys, making the last word on the line harder to decipher.
However, the novel is "coming of age" story. Or it's a fishing story. Or it's a story about fishing and spiritual matters. It's about the battle between effete flyfishing and bait-drowning. Damn funny in places, how the protagonists parents met, alone, is worht the price of admission. The biblical references to fishing, too, are quite worthwhile, since, in part, the book examines the delicate balance of the spiritual aspects of fishing.
Funny, too.
"Except Hemingway. He sat apart, staring at his rod tip, wordless and vigilant, a humanoid osprey." (page 204)
Tangents: All hail Britania! (There's a strong English accent, from the protagonist's father, and later, from a philosophy mentor, in The River Why.
Test patterns

A favorite fishing photo-op. Perfect for Fishing Guide to the Stars splash page?



Lists of thing I want to do before I croak? I was inspired by reading another local writer's version, and some of the items on the list, I've already checked off. What dreams do I have these days?
It also goes back to a question posed by my father, last time I saw him in Dallas. I'm off to Dallas again, this time for fun instead just work, but still, as I was working through my list, I was trying to figure out what I haven't accomplished that I wanted to get done.
Graduate degree. Never finished that. I'm only part way through one, and it's been a good ten years since I was in a university class. In the meantime, I've written for newspapers, magazines, and finally, just this website. Works for me.
I've done river trips, mountain trips, seen Europe. Been to Australia. Hong Kong. Lived in foreign countries. Was fluent, at one time, in more than one language.
What got me off on this tangent, though, was thinking about climbing mountains. Not figurative mountains, but the real thing. Did that. I was about 14 or 15, Outward Bound kind of a deal. Pretty cool. Been there, done that. I remember the summit a lot less than the heart-pounding action of a half-dozen guys roped together, slipping on the icy face of an incline, I think, close to 10,000 feet - Canadian Rockies, Alberta or BC.
Raced motorcycles. Still the finest point in that adventure was 130+ MPH, a couple of times on a small bike on a racetrack, Texas World Speedway as it was called then, in College Station, and one night, with some friends, racing back to Dallas on the old Turnpike. Wouldn't even dream of such behavior these days.
Did a night in jail for something like that. Funny, at least to me, that overnight visit doesn't show up on my record. I think the arresting officer was just pissed. In my defense, I pulled over as soon as I saw the red lights - I didn't mean to create a problem. Sure as hell never told my family about that - nor, for that matter, future and past employers.
I do think it would incredibly exhilarating to ride out a hurricane out as it hits the coast. 104 MPH winds were reported the other morning. Now that sounds exciting. But I'd like to do that in relative safety, not sure how I could accomplish that. I'm still working on the idea. Maybe from the balcony of a beachfront hotel.
That last idea, could be a few years off, but I think it was spawned by the both literature and the local weather. Nothing like a little hurricane in the middle of the summer to rattle the trailer.
All it did yesterday was intermittent rain. Sometimes heavy, sometime light. I'm worried, the horoscope column I finished weighed in at just a bit over 3K words. That's just too long.
I did join the Austin Bloggers for a couple of rounds of coffee, under the eves of Ruta Maya.
"Next time, let's meet someplace where there isn't live music and a poetry reading going on at the same time."
Test patterns

Another personal favorite, from Midland, Texas. The sign is no longer up because the local zoning laws changed. I always liked that one, though, as it demonstrated something about the Permian Basin. Not sure what, but it was something.

Tuesday Trifecta

Hurricane Claudette hadn't made landfall by the time I scooted out the door. But upon one glance, I ditched the shades as there was no sun to speak of. Gray, foreboding clouds obviously off shoots of that twirling mass of wet weather covered the sky.
Cool! Then I got to thinking about it, means more heavy rain for the next couple of days, or, at the very least, the threat of heavy rain. So I figured I owed myself a dunk in Barton Springs before the rain hit, because heavy precipitation usually means that the Springs are overflowing with fecal coliform, which really means, to those of us in South Austin, we are swimming around in rich peoples' excrement - the PR folks usually forget to mention that.
Not that I have anything against rich people, heck some of my friends are rich people. I'd even like to be one, one day. I just don't like swimming in their offal.
From the Springs, since it was just so nice out, I ambled on by the BBQ place, special was two-meat plate. Pork ribs were as fine as could be, the brisket, well, at least the food is dependably good. Nothing remarkable about the brisket, but it's not bad. But those ribs? Amazing.
Even more fun was the lady toting the baby, "Hi Kramer! I didn't realize it was you who was teaching astrology at Linda's. I missed you last time."
Check back in the fall, I'll probably start doing class again. Until then? I'm my usual classless self. Or in class all by myself, whatever works.
From BBQ, up and over the hill to Jo's. I was thinking of the title "trifecta" Tuesday, and I figured a little scoop of Amy's was about perfect, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
BBQ, coffee and ice cream? Sensory overload. However, whatever it was, I timed it right. The first, infrequent raindrops fell just as I rolled back into Shady Acres - still clutching the almost empty coffee cup.
Test Patterns

Another possible splash image, a door knocker, found in alley in Amsterdam.

Although, this would probably be more appropriate for ASTROWHORE.ORG. Don't know that it really fits here. Just an image that I like, though.

Test patterns

Possible splash page images, culled from hard drive. Backboard for the pinball game "Xenon," which, at one time, adorned my front room, in another time, in another place.

Ides of July

Mobile phone toss? Wait, I think I've used that idea before. So anyway, I dropped by the downtown post office, and on my way through the park, one of the (apparently) homeless guys addressed me as "King."
Other than that, I was wondering if I was in a rut, sort of a post-full moon menopause period. Stop and fish money out of the PO box. Stop at the bank and deposit said monies. Drop my sweating body into the cold water at Barton Creek.
Wander homeward via convenience store that sells big drinks and hotlinks. Hot summer afternoon, all I could think about was a cheap hotlink with some yellow mustard on one end. That and a cold drink.
Got a drink, a link, and lottery ticket. Ran about three bucks. Who said you can't buy happiness?

Bastille Day. Other stuff, too.

When the French overthrew a totalitarian government. Which has nothing to do with an item from the bookshelf: Stone Junction by Jim Dodge.
"Magical realism" was just working its way into my literary vocabulary about the time I read this one the first time. It's got a 1990 copyright stamp; think I've got a first edition, too. Looks different from the pictures on Amazon.
There was a particular point about the main protagonist that I recalled, and that prompted me to dust off my copy and reread it. I'd forgotten how much of the book was both fun and meaningful. Interesting points. Plus, it's one of those books that just gets under my skin, in a good way. I'd forgotten that the author was a poet. Poets have such a way with language.
What struck me the most, though, as there's that sense of hope still prevalent when the novel was published. I'm not so sure that I can always share that sense, that faith, that mankind will do something that's good for itself.
But it's a good book.


I worked at a charity event, couple of months ago. I showed up, sweated in the afternoon sun, and carried on as best I could - there were actually two of us - and I was moderately worried about my associate's frail nature in the searing Texas sun.
I also collected a paycheck for my efforts. I was never approached about doing this job as either a donation or a tax-deductible service. Or charity. I had to take time out, work in less than wonderful conditions, incur the added burden of travel and so forth.... I didn't mind getting paid, even though it took almost two months to collect the checks.
Now, from two different sources, I've entertained the notion that one of the easiest ways to raise money for a business is to pick a charity and "sponsor" it.
Sounds a little dubious to me.
Some of this goes back many months, back to when I started charging admission for the current scopes.
The suggested model was like this:
Charity event -> donate portion of proceeds to named charity -> pocket a sizable amount for "overhead"
Sounds too politically incorrect, even for my tastes. That's just downright dishonest.
The other version, I'm less sure about. I admire what Pamie has done with donations to the Oakland Public Library. Certainly, especially locally, libraries need help. But the readership around here is about 1/3 Austin, and 2/3 from "elsewhere" (2% from Canada, go, go, go "some team name here." Ice hockey?)
I'm afraid to pick a political candidate to back, although, my current disdain for the present group of jackbooted thugs should be apparent. Vote. That's a simple message.
I mean, if I was to be perfectly honest, the best place to donate money? It's convoluted trail, but there's a Dart that could use some funding. But that's not like, a real charity, and as of this morning, that's the only real cause I could support.
I do own the name "astrofish.org" and I could run the website up there, too, as a "not for profit" type of site. Then I could cut myself a hefty salary, and live off that. Which, once again, sounds like it might not be politically correct.
I'm wondering if "dishonest" is a better word.
Not in Pamie's situation, that's for sure. That appears to be 100% up and up.


Couple of days ago, I took some allergy medication as a prevention, see, I'm allergic to rain. So, as the raining was just letting up, I was figuring to try this new OTC stuff.
Kept me awake all night. Didn't work. I mean, it did work, but it didn't work the way I wanted it to. Then the next day, the sleep pattern's interrupted. And so on.
Woke up Friday morning, typed for a while, did a phone reading, and ambled out the door, caught a nice note out of the mailbox, and wandered home. I didn't spend more than three minutes at home before the phone rings, "Kramer, what are you doing right. Let's get some coffee over at Jo's."
So it was back out the door, hastily pulling on a shirt, actually, just grabbing the cleanest one out of the laundry hamper, and I joined a Gemini at Jo's.
It's hot, but not too hot, mid-90's, I'm guessing, a few clouds overhead. Iced latte, a change from what I usually get. We sat and discussed books, architecture, her current love interest, work, Whole Foods as a "whole paycheck," and various other sundry topics. Gemini, what do you expect. By the time I'd sucked down most of that beverage, I was about to wax philosophical.
"If you could be anywhere, where would you be?"
I'd been for a few miles on the trail, a quick dip, I was enjoying the good company of a friend, in the shade at Jo's, it wasn't so interminably hot that it was miserable, and the people walking by were delightful eye candy.
A dad (looking) guy and little girl, maybe 4 years old, in a tiny bathing suit, hair still wet, just walking away from Amy's with a summer ice cream.
Gothic looking characters at the tattoo parlor, stepping outside for a smoke. That guy who works at Jo's, the Aquarius with all the ink-work, reading, eating sandwich, then heading off to the bakery.
The guy sitting next to us struck up a conversation, just in from Northern Cal, asking directions.
Would I prefer to be in Northern CA, if I could? Nope, I'm best, right where I am.

Diversions & Sandy's at Sundown

I was walking north, headed towards the river, on S. First Street. I'd just wrapped a reading at Bouldin Creek, and the sun was edging down towards the horizon, brilliant oranges and some purple spread across the sky.
Yawn. "Austin, sunset capital of the world." Whatever. Sounds like tourist propaganda.
Stonehenge's riddle solved?
Did I read this correctly?
But get down the hill from the Texas State School for the Deaf, just passed that dry creek bed, and there's Sandy's. Long time home of soft-serve ice cream, the "burger-fries-drink" specials, and an aging, out-of-place dining establishment. The flies are thick on hot summer nights as the various dinner guests wolf down the special.
The Sandy's signage is old-time neon, with orange, red, purple, and lime green in it. The sun wasn't quite gone. The interplay of colors made me wish, for an instant, that I had one of those super-trick cameras that does everything because the scene was a fleeting glance, but quite powerful. The colors. The signage. The colors in the sky. The colors in the sign.
Like the elusive green flash, though, it was one of those moments that's gone now. Just a faded memory.


Is the price too low?
The goal is to drive more traffic to the website. Then, out of that traffic, have more people sign up for the subscription-based page. It's just a single page, the current weekly horoscope.
One page isn't as cool as breaking the signs down into a single sign per page, but think about that, multiplying the work by 12? Server load by 12? Chance of error by 12? Fewer fun links, too.
This problem was addressed in a conversation the other weekend, all about publishing. What it amounts to, though, this is basically nothing more than a web-based column. My scopes are too long for print. I've been in several newspapers, but that just doesn't seem to last. I'm sort of a second string to another esteemed colleague.
So the question is, how to market the paid subscriptions?
The deal is, the sites I compete with, actually, I tend to believe we compliment each other, the big ones all have the backing of large enterprises. One is funded by huge publishing contract with a major tabloid, that website is merely an afterthought. Another is paid for by books, and I would hazard a professional guess that part of that site is funded by PR/advertising funds, again, from a major publisher. And my esteemed colleague, previously referenced? That is paid for by phone service.
But at six dollars per week or $14.95, or even $30 per month, I'm wondering maybe I shot too low? Did I price myself out? Is the price point too cheap?
I sampled, re-sampled, and tweaked that "skull and crossbones" image, trying to get the best take on it. I blew it up to a huge size and tried my hand at a pixel-by-pixel editing process. Which resulted in a sore wrist and a not-much-improved image. But I did get it processed down to an acceptable size for a web graphic, and I was going to plug in here. But I got thinking about that, and the second though was that an image from a church/mission in S. Texas might not translate well. That image is like the black backgrounds, embedded deeper in this site. Doesn't work well, although, given my humor these days, I find it all strangely comforting.


Louisiana and Lamar

I took a slight detour on the way home, not realizing the late hour. I took one of those pathways on the south bank of the river, festooned with dripping, overhanging branches, resplendent in the full blossom of mid-summer, an odd lavender plant adding some fragrance.
Two readings, both from Louisiana, originally.
Twice, in one day, I found myself on Lamar Avenue. Once at the Shoal Creek Saloon, and once at Amy's, then over to Waterloo & etc.
Double L day, I guess. Twice on Lamar and both times with a female of the Louisiana persuasion.
Lots of Scorpio floating around, that's for sure.
Then, on that pathway home, I didn't realize it, but the moonlight, the Moon was in Scorpio, just past First Quarter, I guess, and the light was gently illuminating the puddles. The air was still and almost steamy, but I peeled out of my shirt, and it was suddenly almost cool out. Delicious.
A little dinner, a little astrology chat, a little ice cream. A little gossip, too. Relaxed times in Austin. The rain's been sporadic, but I'm sure it's about to clear up and turn into a hot summer yet.
I kept waiting to be spooked by the shadows and the play of light through the branches, but it never happened. A very faint layer of steam was coming from the lake's surfaces, almost like a mirror in the moonlight.
The Lunatic Express

The Lunatic Express by Charles Miller - Man-eating lions. Insects. A few wild and wooly adventuring entrepreneurs. The problem with strict history books, like this one, the first half of the text concerns (boring) legal, company, and political wranglings - all the business necessary to grease the wheel so the greatest folly could be built. Then it gets better. Much better.
"Ryall, the Superintendent of Railway Police, found it necessary to leave Mombasa in order to deal with disturbances in Nairobi - although he never reached his desintation, being sidetracked at Kima, where he became the the first and only official in the history of labor arbitration to be eaten by a lion." (Page 382)
That one line summarized the last half of the book. Not in its entirety, but close enough for me to pull it out. That's why the book was titled The Lunatic Express because only fools would wander out in the desert, the mountains, the outback of Africa and try and tame it by building railway to Lake Victoria.
Undertaken at the heighth of the British Empire, the Uganda Railway was quite a project. Having read Stephen Ambrose's Nothing Like It In The World, I was familar with some of the terminology, the concepts, and some of the problems faced when building a long rail line. And both books have these long, boring beginnings that all deal with who said what, how the press was treating the project, what the first explorers were like, but at least in Lunatic Express, the explorers include the famous Livingstone, as well as a host of other historical characters.
I was left, at one point, with the sense that they really did wear pith helmets, and the Victorians rambling around in the tucker brush did have high tea at 4:00 PM. And in that respect? Expectations live up to the what the book claims.
There's another element, too, that left me a little confused at first. Before tackling this book, get out a map of Africa, preferably a dated map, and get familiar with what expanses are where. Plus, there's the troubling concept of the names of the African tribes, the names of the tribes' elders, and just who was king of what area. English politics in the late 19th century were bad enough, but compound that with a fleeting overview of what was going on with Africa and colonization, and there's more - for me - troubling material to keep track of. I never did manage to pronounce half the names in the book. Must be by own, limited, Western heritage.
Nairobi, which I thought was always there, was nothing more than point picked by the construction crew. Or so I gathered.
And Kima, where Ryall got eaten by a lion? Turns out that's an exciting bit of history in colonization, in and of itself. Of course, some of the precept of Victorian expansion and colonization don't hold up well in modern, politically correct ways. Not that it matters, either.

Writing on the train

One day is South Texas. The next is Central Texas. The day after that? Cosmopolitan Dallas. Yee-haw.
I rolled into Dallas in time to pick Pa Wetzel up at the little airport. Neither one of us was particularly happy about the car I was driving: Ma Wetzel's big station wagon.
"I'm just going to have to get her a new Prius," he was saying.
It was another long day, too. Meetings with lawyers, doing family business, and then catching a train home. Cost of that ticket? Certainly less than a tank of gas in the truck, that's for sure.
Rolling through Ft. Worth, the Cotton Exchange building, just visible at the south edge of downtown. Ft. Worth's station itself, more than a hundred years old. The building next to the historic station now has a big sign, "Fort Worth Rail Market." Wasn't so long ago, that was just a dead freight terminal. Southbound, Temple's [that would be Temple - Killeen - Belton in Bell County, next to Ft. Hood> station, the largest Santa Fe depot west of Chicago. Huge rail yard.
Ever try explaining lifestyle choices to a lawyer? "Train?" "Yeah, it's actually almost as fast as flying these days." If I was on American Airlines, it is faster than flying. And the seats are bigger. And there're fewer restrictions on baggage and carried items. More families. Leisurely lifestyle. Then, when I arrived in Austin, I walked from the station. "Walk?" Ah, ferchrissakes, it's about half a mile. In the darkening twilight? It's beautiful.
There's a hotel/motel, high rise: in Corpus Christi (Bayfront/Shoreline), in downtown El Paso (I-10), in Dallas (Mockingbird and N. Central), and what reminded me of these hotels, other than having seen them all in the last few weeks, is that I've stayed at some of them, too. There's a hotel/motel, just west of the station in Ft. Worth, too. Same architecture. Wouldn't be surprised if it had been - at one time - like all the others - a premier Hilton.
The one in Corpus is my favorite. We used to do shows on the top floor. In February, when the breeze is kicking up over the bay, the building would sway. Cool. Buffeted and battered by off-shore winds, swaying to the tune of an inch or more. On the top floors, that a more than a little discernible.
Steve Fromholz penned his Texas Trilogy, and I think about that song, especially the Lyle Lovett version, as the train rolls through Bosque County, which, I might add was rather beautiful, in the late afternoon sun.
Taylor, Texas: home of the Ducks.

always carry duct tape

Just a hint. Or a vision.

Conspiracy theory, pirates and everything

The skull and crossbones - the Jolly Rodger - it's a familiar icon. Supposed to stand for pirates.
Weird research, just accumulated intellectual crap I've picked up, traces the skull and crossbones back to a dark ages cult in France. Supposedly, upon opening crypt, there was a skull, sitting on top a crossed thighbones, and the skull was serving as an oracle.
So that's the source of the image, allegedly. Now, same secret society (maybe the Knights Templar) carried that image forward into battle, especially as a flag of the privateer, in the early 18th century, aboard vessels who were engaged in "less than legal" practices of raiding foreign crafts, particularly Spanish galleons, bound for Spain.
Keep following.
The image then shows up on a church, a mission, in South Texas, in what was New Spain at the time, the mission was started in 1722, moved to Goliad in 1749, and that church was erected in 1777. With a skull and bones, right over the north facing side entrance. Curious.


The future?

Looks quite bright to me.

Happy 4th of July.


Friday Five

Sure, Tuesday was only a Tuesday but by the time I got home, it sure felt like Friday.
1> Back up and restore, do command line interface work in order to hack away and get this journal back up to speed. What amused me the most was the way that I'd forgotten the simplest of the commands. It's not like, brain science or anything. It was problematic, at best. While I was working on that, Bubba Sean calls, wants to play hooky, after all, he will be working Willie's all weekend. Note to Bubba Sean: I didn't suggest he'd be working willies all weekend, no, it was that weekend thang, Willie's 4th of July Picnic.
2> Long as can be lunch at Threadgill's. I managed a dive in the pool on the way there, so I was still damp when we arrived, and we were due to meet a favored Virgo of his. She pops in, I slide over in the booth, pat the spot I'd been sitting on, and pointed out that I was so excited to see her, I was just moist - I left a wet spot. "Oh great, he peed his shorts again."
3> After a delightful lunch, fraught with many bad jokes, a broken heart, a family tech support call, and a perky Aries waitress, ("I've been meaning to ask, does an Aries get along with a Scorpio?") next up was a reading. Somehow a cigar got worked in, too.
4> After the reading, looking at the position of the sun, I was guessing it was still a good time for a quick dash to the creek. Nothing like being up a creek with no paddle? However, on my way to the creek, taking a different route than usual, I was ambling down Barton Springs Road, and a truck hove into sight, then careened across a curb to block my path. "Hey sexy, sweaty man, what's up!" A mighty Leo. Booked reading with her for next week. I just thought it was so odd, there we were, her old truck, me shirtless and wandering aimlessly, stopped in the middle of rush hour traffic, I pull a digital address & appointment book out, and we're comparing notes as to when we can get to together. Half heathen, half hippie, mostly Texan and all Austin? Reminder: never, ever try to out drink women from Louisiana.
5> On the way home, finally, after a full afternoon of work, workout and simmering heat, I got glimpse of something either funny or disquieting, and I'm not sure which. An APD officer was ticketing someone for, presumably, bridge jumping. I didn't inquire, but I wanted to. I hung back for a second, and watched as the officer then approached a group of guys using the rope swing into the creek. "Technically, that's Town Lake and technically, there's a city ordinance against swimming in Town Lake," was all I heard. Move along, nothing to see here.

Updated (software)

Under the new moon, I updated two pieces of software, routine computer maintenance, I suppose.
In the middle of one update, Pa Wetzel rings me up to alert me to the fact that he and his wife ("your Mother") were in a motel in Amarillo, as they were making their way westward for the summer. We chatted for a few minutes, hence my excuse as I neglected one step in the update.
What's worse? The software itself is clever enough to run, albeit in a slightly hobbled state. In fact, it worked just fine except that Tuesday morning, I couldn't post a new entry.
I had to go back to the beginning, and read through the whole instruction sheet, only to discover there was one step I didn't complete.
Netscape, or my unofficial laconic title, "netscrape," also had a new update. That brings my browser list to four. I'd completely toss MS Exploder, except that at least two business pages I frequent, the secure layer won't work except in IE 5.
I haven't had a chance yet to test netscrape on dial up, but that'll make an interesting switch.
Web site stats:

What was so nice to see, not that I wish ill on any company, but that the stats suggest a strong drop in AOL readership. 18 months ago? AOL was 40% of the traffic.
The other interesting tidbit gleaned from those stats?
"I am away from the office for Canada Day and returning Wednesday, July 2nd."
One of the 2% crowd, that Canadian ISP. That's weird. Weirder than weird. I can't understand what a resourceful Canadian would see in Texas astrology.

This just shows that I've got one of the least linked sites anywhere.

Riding the rails.

When I travel, I have a hard and fast rule about making sure that I've got a digital device to work on, i.e., computer, PDA, phone, &c. and that I've got some good reading material. Books, magazines, something.
I was dropped off at the San Antonio's [go spurs!> Sunset station. There was a moment of confusion about the ticket, "I bought mine online," and the busy stationmaster, without missing a beat, "oh, high tech. This is a train, we don't do that here."
He did hand me a ticket and the train departed on time. With me on board. We backed out of the station, and for shimmering moment, I was hoping we'd back all the way down to where the ghostly bend in the track was, but no such luck.
I pulled out the book I was reading, saved for a travel situation, clicked the phone on, and retrieved some voice mail, and settled back. I couldn't concentrate on the text, though, because I kept looking out the window. Day dreaming? Not really. Watching the world, from twelve feet in the air, roll on by. There was the military base, or one of them. There was the new concert/sports venue. Then through New Braunfels. A couple of rivers. San Marcos. The hills of S. Austin.
Whiled away my time on the train, just looking out the window. I'd pick up the book, open it to an entry, and then gaze outside again. Watching a particularly green Texas slide by.
Got in, stuffed my shirt in the pack, clipped my cell phone to strap, and I set off over the pedestrian bridge, then on down the trail towards home. Phone rang. Capricorn friend wanted to ask a tech question, buy my lunch. So I changed my route and wondered how odd I looked on the Hike and Bike trail with a big pack, actually walking home from business trip.

Haunted Rail Road crossing

Right up there with the Marfa Mystery Lights, there are ghosts throughout Texas.
My kind hosts in San Antonio were piqued by the thought of the "haunted railroad crossing," we set out, late Sunday afternoon, to find the crossing.
It's on Shane - which dead ends into Villamain - down behind the San Jose Mission.
How it works: The story goes, that happened here, carload of kids run over and killed, when the vehicle they were riding in got stuck on the track.
As far as plausibility? Sure, that works. It's a blind corner on the tracks, coming up from the south, and coming to a stop on tracks themselves would present a serious hazard. Some of the literature includes stories about skeletons found in the vicinity of the railroad crossing.
The deal is, you're supposed to stop your vehicle about 30 yards from the crossing. Put the car in neutral, turn it off. And that watch. The gets "pushed" across the tracks by unseen hands.
It is, in part, an optical illusion because it looks like the train tracks are uphill. But standing beside the crossing, it's pretty clear that the other folks around believe.
"Look, look, handprints. Hey, you have that talcum powder, so we can dust our car and do it again? See that one print, looks like a little kid slid off when you stopped."
"Man, we got this tape at Wal-Mart, 'great ghost stories and unsolved mysteries,' and we just had to check this out for ourselves."

Alamo City

Bright lights, Alamo City

As a tourist - or guest of honor in the Alamo City, no trip would be complete without a quick tour of the Riverwalk.
And no tour of the River walk would be complete without at least one observation that seems a little more "Texan" than anything else.
How about a nice, Italian Restaurant, open patio facing the river walk? And what musical accompaniment? Mariachi Music. It's only right.

Cheap Sunglasses

Cheap sunglasses
I started out to essay my cheap sunglasses. A paean to the inexpensive eye wear that is quotidian. Almost disposable. But then I got to looking for Texas Music, the Top came up, and from there, it was on into local heroes.
Highly recommended, the Derailers' latest, Genuine, and of course, what really caught my eye & ear? "Going to love me some Elvis."
There should be some road music, because getting out of Austin was its usual ordeal. But I arrived in San Antonio, and I'm here to work.

Luxury Liner + rain

"I'm the kind of guy who likes to make a living running round." (From Gram Parson's anthology) Excellent album, especially for any alt.country or whatever it's called now, fans.
As soon as I finally scooted out the door to attend to business, more like leisure as I'd been hammering on an upcoming horoscope all morning, I decided that I was sort of tired, and all I was going to do was hop over to the creek for a little dip.
When I crawled out of the creek, gathered my togs, and rolled on back, somehow, somewhere, a notion entered my mind. I took a detour, then another, and the next thing I knew, I was winding down the railroad tracks again.
From there, I cut through the hoods to Jo's, then made my way homeward. The sky had been almost completely clear earlier, but it was clouding up in a most respectable way.
I got home, finished off my cup of coffee, looked at the time, and somehow, I'd spent two hours walking instead of just one. Means I must've cleared a good six miles. Much further than I thought. Or planned.
The skies just opened right up. Cloud burst. But just as fast as it rained, it dried out again.
It just goes that way, sometimes. I was home in time for rare reading "chez Kramer," and I was trying to tie up any loose ends before hand. Almost stepped in front of the webcam, dripping wet from the shower.
During the readings, as I turned the ringer off on the phone, the light flashed, indicating an incoming. I didn't answer. A bout a minute later, the cell buzzed. Still didn't answer, as I was trying to explain a Virgo chart. Finally, the beeper started to shake. I paused long enough to realize it was just Bubba, and since I wasn't answering, the message would be a real simple, "dude, I wanted to buy you dinner tonight."
The Diamond Age

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
With a September release of new book by Neal Stephenson, I figured it wouldn't hurt to go back and reread The Diamond Age one more time. So that just means I've read it twice, and I liked discovering the notes I'd made the first time.
Copyright date on the book is 1995. The "net" was brand new - gratuitous shameless plug, my first page went up in 1994 - and it was the time that was rebounding from a troubled economy. I can't recall if that the spring/summer that I made so much money on the phone lines, but I did purchase the book, a big, hardbound first edition, and I did read it. Plus notes. I reread it the last two nights. Some of it is very clever. Some of it is funny. Some of it, in retrospect, shows a kind of flawed optimism about our future as humans. Doubt it will work out that well.
About halfway through the book, I got into a love/hate situation with the text itself, because there's a strong central sub-plot that I just couldn't be bothered with. Then there was that effusive use of really big words, plus some made-up words, and I couldn't quite get over that.
The most grating aspect of the novel, though, is that optimism. Not that optimism itself bothers me, but it just feels like there's a certain portion of the novel that's written in the mid 1990's, not quite fin-de-siecle novel, but almost.
Still fun. Still mind expanding in some ways. Regrettably, there's a thematic elements carried over from previous works, and this time around, that annoyed me. Not a lot, and the novel itself certainly has a ripping good yarn going through it, but borrowing ideas from previous novels? Is that really fair?
What was fair, I lifted an idea of two plus expanded my own vocabulary, during this jaunt through the text. That's a good thing.
Would I recommend it? Now that it's in paperback? Well worth it. Belongs right up there next to Snow Crash.

Texas in the news:

New meaning for hit and run.
Finally! Updated laws.
Realizing dreams

I was wandering and pondering on Wednesday afternoon. Hot outside. Like that's any surprise, it is the summer. I snuck into an apartment pool for a dip, then I detoured around the creek and joined a couple of guys swimming, one who was swimming with his dogs.
One of the dogs rushed at me, then backed off, not really being too ferocious, but just trying to see if I was threatened. Looked like mongrel, from a good keeper. Her brother was learning that he could swim all the way across the creek with the owner's coaching, "good boy, good boy."
"Don't worry about her, she's just testing. She never minds me. Well, she does sometimes, but other times, she doesn't seem to pay any attention to me."
I wasn't disturbed in the least because, as an animal person, I can sense fear, just like they can. (Not really but I've found being still usually disarms a dog - and most of the dogs at the creek are well-behaved in general.)
"So sometimes she does what you say and other times, she doesn't? You said it was female right? Just like a woman. Glad I'm not bitter."
It did evoke a laugh.
But that wasn't the point, just a little side trip to wandering and pondering.
I was doing a personal assessment of my current mental state. Barely got the rent paid, still have the electric bill to pay, and the cable, and the cell phone. Problems, problems. Get to work this weekend, that's good.
Then my thoughts detoured into my luggage. Riding the train, a couple of weeks ago, I used my handy, already-packed, computer carry-all. But this coming weekend, I'm packing an honest-to-goodness backpack. Not a big one, still qualifies as an under-seat size for airlines. Just about right for computer, printer, toiletries and change of clothes, in Texas, in the summer. Perfect for a quick jaunt to San Antonio. (Remember the Alamo. Yee-haw.)
After I graduated college, I wanted to travel around Texas. Wanted to get paid for it. I didn't wind up with what I thought my dream job should be, but I've gotten to see portions of Texas that not many people see. Plus, seeing Texas through the eyes of hundreds of clients makes it a little bit more unique.
The best part? The trip's not over yet. Not even halfway there. One of the places I lived when I was in college backed up to a rail line. One AM in the morning, most near every night, a big freighter rolled through, leaning on the whistle, rattling the windows in that building. I was just glad I didn't live on the end. Kind of comforting. Between romantic literature, historical material, and family influences, I kept having vague dreams about riding the rails. Not a chance of that happening, not these days. It's flat out too dangerous.
Part of the Wednesday's meander took me from Barton Spring Road, up the train tracks - the path around the miniature golf place, and south down the right-of-way to the first street that crosses the rail line. It was close to five in the afternoon, and the long, green tunnel of the tracks was a much better pedestrian route than any sidewalk. It's possible to hear the roadway, it's just not visible.
Just about the time I got Mary Street (or Elizabeth, I don't recall, some name), a huge freighter chugged on by. I was watching to see if there were any folks "riding the rails," but alas, I couldn't detect bodies crouched between rail cars. I looked down at the ballast I'd been walking on, pretty sharp rocks. I know that the train has an almost 90 degree turn on the other side of the river, so a long one like that has to start slowing down. But the prospects of jumping off a moving rail car at 20 or 20 miles an hour doesn't strike me as alluring.
However, looking at what I'll be doing, riding a train, I'm excited.
And, it gets better, too.
As long as I working my mind over problems, positions and possibilities, I realized I could, after I get off the train, swing right on by the creek for a quick swim - just, like, on the way home.
Two, three days ago, I wrapped up a horoscope column, feeling like I'd done some injustice to the one or two signs. Wednesday afternoon, I finished up another, but I didn't have that same sense of failure, not one sign was incomplete. It all fits.
One of the biggest tragedies on Wednesday? 31 flavors ice cream. - instead of Amy's. I mean, if that's the worst that's going to happen to me, life can't be all that bad.
But how that happened is perhaps, best saved for another time, as it involved Italian food, a Gemini, a Pisces, and a trip through a dollar store that cost me some money, but not much - they had rubbing alcohol, and that's something I need to prevent swimmer's ear.

The Sirens' call

I set out to go one way, and is usual, at least in my case, the best laid schemes rarely come through. I'll swear after Monday's East Loop hike, I was going to retrace my steps. But I didn't. I had a little BBQ, then as I was heading towards the downtown post office - nothing but spam in the box - I heard that Sirens' call.
Amy's on 6th. It was like I had no will power. I couldn't resist. It was hot, I was tired, I had business to transact.
That mythical music was playing, though, and I couldn't resist. I thought a couple of pork ribs [two meat plate is the Tuesday special>, some brisket soaked in sauce, figured that would've cured me. It didn't.
It's silent music, too, one that some people can never hear. But it was piped right on into my central cortex, and I was unable to refrain. Just a quick, little dip of Mexican Vanilla. No big deal?
The problem being, see, that Amy's? Right next door to a large, independent record store. I'm not sure why it's called a record store, either. They don't sell many records, just CD's, as far as I can tell. So I had to stop as I've had this one song stuck in my head for while. I picked a copy of Herbie Hancock's Future Shock.
It was on sale, and therefore, I could - almost - justify the expense. Somewhere, floating in the back of my mind, there's an image of dancing pant legs now.

Cleaning out boxes

I was sorting through the e-mail program this last weekend, and I opened up my "sent mail folder."
A little over 9,000 messages sent. That works out to about 25 replies in a single day. Considering that I wasn't available some weekends, that number suggests the average is off. Lots of work there.
Then I got to cleaning out the spam, and what I found, after clearing away a lot of the strictly junk mail? I still averaged close 3,000 inbound messages in a 30 day period. That's roughly a 100 messages per day. Weekends are light, and the new spam measures are working a little bit better, I'm down from an all time high of almost 6,000 messages in a 30-day period.
That suggests almost half of the stuff I get is crap.
If you've ever sent me a message I haven't responded, might have gotten caught in the anti-spam stuff.
There's nothing like a long, hot walk along the banks of the river to free my mind from the constraints of sitting at a computer, answering mail. Which is what I did, take a nice, long stroll. For almost two hours, I was lost in a magical land, stuck someplace between childhood and reality, and the cell phone didn't chirp once.
I've been playing with a design idea, and it's not in place yet, might never be, but for now, the link works. Perhaps it's just a bit a whimsy, or maybe it's an idea for a new splash.

Fluke by Christopher Moore.
A reader I've always respected, even though he can be a pain in the butt sometimes, suggested Moore's Practical Demonkeeping several years ago. I carried that title around, and when I finally stumbled upon a copy of the book in a used bookstore, I snatched it up. The artowrk was a little lurid for my tastes and I didn't get around to actually reading the book until later. At which point, as soon as set that book down, I rushed right out and purchased everything I could find by Christopher Moore.
Funny stuff. My personal favorite thus far, still has to be Lamb. Just a brilliant bit of satire, farce, and maybe an element of truth.
Fluke is about whales, has a lot of whale biology stuff, and the book should carry some kind "save the whales" sticker. Which is does. What makes this a little different from previous Moore books is that there's a message written into the plot, all about whales. But it's so much fun, and the message is transparently conveyed, and the story is basically a ripping good yarn, why worry?
In fact, it's not until the author's after words, that the message becomes clear.
Like the previous novels, there's magic, supernatural, the sublime, characters with very human foibles, and humor. Not to give it away, but they do live happily ever after.
And on top of all that, there's some pretty interesting stuff about whales. Real whale science. Cool.
It's pretty hard to write a message into a work of fiction and not irritate the bejeebers out of me. Fluke didn't suck. It was fun.

St. John's Eve

Bloody hell, why am I going on about some Brit holiday? I don't rightly know about St. John's Eve, nor, am I going to follow up on it.
I've long since forgone the Sunday Paper in favor of hitting some news sites online. Just easier. After "Desert Storm II" and subsequent revelations about the BBC Online coverage, I've tended to not trust them as much as I used to.
This coverage of the forest fire in Arizona was bizarre. The final line in the article?
"...in Arizona, which has a hot, dry climate."
Always state the obvious?
I was busy trying to get twigs and organic debris out of my long locks. I've developed a bad case of "West Texas Girl" hair. I don't recall who it was that first pointed it out, but it's not an original observation, although, over the years, I've found it has merit.
Times have changed a little, but invariably, more so in West Texas than any place else, there will female, age 15-35, with long hair, almost to her butt. About the last two inches of that hair will be this nightmare of frayed, chafed ends, splits - basically a horrid mess.
When I was showering, and I realized I wasn't tugging on a knot in my hair, but an actual twig, I realized that I have arrived at that "West Texas" hair point. Hair's a little bleached from too much sun, and the last couple of inches are snarly. Or gnarly, depending on how one addresses the problem. Twigs from swimming in the creek, you know.
It's jus that haircuts scare me. You know, like emotionally scarring.

Midsummer's Eve.

A Midsummer's Night's Eve
Fraught with magic, pxies and sprites? More like a sumptuous meal at the Buffet Palace. Scooted in a full plate of relatively fresh sushi (Japanese), soy beans al dente (Edamame - Japanese), kebabs (Korean), Kung Pao chicken (Chinese), a couple of crawdads (Cajun), and a for dessert, soft-serve ice cream (Texan).
Musical interlude, soft "disco hits" of the 80's were playing in the background. This location (South Austin) has that wide open, very late 80's feeling to it, the chairs, the architecture, and so forth.
But after a forth or fifth trip through the line, I started to get a little tipsy. Must be all the food. Might've been the disappointing "fire mussels" which were anything but hot and spicy. But the squid sure was - I think that was the fourth pass. The potstickers were pretty good, too, although I did pick through the offerings to find a few that looked just perfect to me.
It was my neighboring Virgo who suggested the restaurant. "I love this place, it's like a theme park, only for food."

What would Jesus drive?
As per Joe Bob, Jesus wouldn't drive anything. He would walk. Like me, slip on those sandals and stroll on out the door.
Although, for the sake of verisimilitude these days, I figure the lad would ride a loud Harley.
My love affair with Ford trucks, notwithstanding.
Friday Five

Self-imposed limits are important.
I try to limit the number of readings, those in-depth, personal, "take off my boots and stomp right on through a chart" readings to three in a day.
I watched as some (therapists) would burn out after about 18 months in one position, vowing never to work in the helping field again.
Same for readers, psychics, palm, astrology, tarot, and so forth, as I've watched them all burn themselves out with a frantic pace.
I recall one spring when I was working the 900 phone lines, I was available for calls 45 hours in a week, and I was talking for 40 of those 45 hours. A little later, I was informed by tech support friends that an hour of phone time was equivalent to two hours of regular work time. (Should a factor of 3 be employed for meetings? Like one hour of a meeting where one stays awake is equal to three hours of regular work time?) After my time in the psychic sewers, which, I might add, was excellent training, I got to where I tried to limit myself a little - to avoid burnout.
There was the burden of e-mail, oddly enough, no responses to the weekly trivia question, and a couple of e-mail readings. Then a luncheon reading, and an afternoon bereft of entertainment, wherein I swam in a murky creek, then picked up some coffee, and a took nap. Then out for a few minutes to try and catch the happy hour web journal folks, and next? Home for two more phone readings.
While it's an apparently bucolic lifestyle, that's a lot of work. Gratefully, this is work that I thoroughly enjoy. What's best? It affords me enough time to actually write decent horoscopes. Or indecent, if I believe some of the mail.
So I wrote, typed, surfed, worked for a luncheon reading, hiked, swam, napped, socialized, and then worked again. Plus there was one more e-mail reading.
That's over the self-imposed limit, but I'm enjoying it; this is my time of the year.
Also means the landlord can get his rent check on time this month.

Things we like to see:
> Damn, You are SO Good!
Ain't that just the sweetest comment? Bet she tells all the guys that.
For many months, maybe longer, I've tried, unsuccessfully to get rosemary to grow in my garden. The story is, the plant was from my aunt's garden, and it was planeted by Pa Wetzel in front of the old homestead, the house I basically grew up in. Since it was out by the curb, Ma Wetzel was sure that every dog in the neighborhood came by and peed on that plant.
Old family joke.
Then, starting this year, I kept getting cuttings and rootings and whatever-ings, trying to get the legacy rosemary to grow. I've carried home six different pots of rosemary. So far, two have survived my inattention. One is inside, one is outside. One from each batch survived thus far.
It was probably the wrong phase of the moon, but I just had that sense that I needed to transfer one barely thriving rosemary to a larger pot. When I upended the pot, that poor little plant was root-bound.
Cool. Hope it likes its new home.
Sagittarius readings, all day, all night. Pretty weird how that happens. Looking at a chart I'd prepared, maybe a week ago, I realized what was up: Mars. Or even better? Mars slash Uranus slash the Moon. All stacked up. At a strong angle to Mr. Saturn, over yonder in Cancer.

Dallas by morning, Austin at night

When I booked a super cheap train ticket I was aware that it might be a little late. See: it's summer thing. Train tracks get hot.
Just the way it goes, life on the road. The good news is that I had a chance to catch up on backlog of work I wanted to get straightened out.
Funny dynamic to my family, too, Wednesday morning, I was busy trying to sort out router problems in the home network. Someone had plugged the wrong net cable into the wrong port on the back of the router. A couple of calls to tech support helped straighten it all out. More or less.
To her credit, Sister had successfully completed an upgrade, and she did, in fact, upgrade firmware and software on Ma Wetzel's machine.
When I left, all was well with the network.
It was rather delightful to have Sister around for some of the meetings with lawyers and such. One impromptu meeting, Sister's eyes glazed over after about 10 minutes, her head nodded once, and she interrupted long enough to excuse us. Worked for me.
From Pa Wetzel's office: "Always trust what the engineer says. Always."
I should get a similar one, "Always trust what the Fishing Guide says. Always."
But I'm not sure I would.
"If you have an Amtrak issued ticket, please sign in the upper left hand corner."
I put down the symbol for Sagittarius
Boarded at 1534 Hours. Arrived at Ft. Worth a little before 1700. Arrived Austin at 2200.

Amandus of Bordeaux

Not sure what the guy was the patron of, never could find out. But 18 June is his day.
Ma Wetzel was preparing dinner, a roast of some kind. After all, it was Sister, fellow vegetarian, who suggested, "Dead cow: the other white meat."
Ma Wetzel popped her roasted thing out of the oven, a garnish fell off, and I handily noted this. Then I plucked the mushroom cap up from the floor, and asked, "Should I just stick this back on?"
"Oh yes."
They'll never know, right?

Feast day of St. Herve

Patron Saint of Allergy sufferers. Don't ask, don't smell?
Dallas. Coming up I-35, that last little patch of open road, the big, wide sky opening up and beyond.
Then there's one hilltop, and from there, the Dallas Phallus is low and to the west, whereas the rest of the skyline just makes my heart skip a beat.
Dallas. Big city lights. Big city nights. Disco. Deep Ellum. Big hair. Then my bad attitude kicks in.
I keep forgetting, I like to visit, I just don't like to stay too long.
It was perfect, too, the setting sun, Gram Parson's singing about Las Vegas, that Crystal City. I've always figured that Las Vegas and Dallas have much more in common than the surface would indicate.
I picked up Sister at the big airport, not that dinky one close to the house. She got off her airplane and started dialing, "Brother, where are you?"
"Baggage Claim A - 16," I replied.
There she was, wheeling along her little suitcase, talking on her phone, looking right at me. Must be a Left Coast thing.
No trip to Dallas, with both kids present, no Father's Day, would be really be complete without a trip to the hardware store. All I managed to purchase was a potato masher, per Ma Wetzel's request.

Feast Day of St. John-Francis Regis.

Patron Saint of lace makers. Marriage. And illegitimate children. Don't ask me what the connections therein are, I just report what I've seen, observed, or, at the very least read someplace.
I was on that final leg of a walking tour, just drifting past Jo's, and I heard that "Kramer! Kramer!" from a nondescript vehicle. Dave, the Aries, and his Taurus date, we chatted for a spell, "Where'd you meet her?"
Quick as a flash, without skipping a beat, "I picked him up in bar," she answered before the Arties chum had a chance to say anything.
As the story began to unfold, while I started to disrobe, okay, so all I did was set my coffee and pastry down long enough to yank the shirt off my back, I learned that Dave's new friend was originally from Midland. Which then launched a series of superlatives from me about women from West Texas.
All of this occurred before the afternoon rain, and before I ever had a chance to leave for Dallas. Where I am now. Which has nothing to do with anything. Sister should be in soon. Then the fun begins.

D-Day - Dining through Saturday

Saturday morning started with a visit from Ma and Pa Wetzel, on their return voyage from San Marcos, and quick jaunt up and down the street for breakfast. Magnolia Cafe. Capricorn waitress.
A little later, it was a Gemini and her daughter, up to Guero's. Then over to Amy's, for some dessert. Libra server at Guero's patio, Aries guy at Amy's.
Not much after that, it was a Virgo neighbor, making good on a deal, and it was over to Curra's for dinner - cerviche de pulpo - tres leches for dessert. Libra server.
Finally, after dining my way through Saturday, I had the best, as that Virgo neighbor came back and demanded a reading. I had to do laundry. Dirty laundry and a reading.
So Sunday, here's where it gets special, see, I get to hop a ride to Dallas and surprise Pa Wetzel for Father's Day. Sister will wing it in from the Left Coast, too. Owing to time constraints, though, I understand she might be a little late.
Now, let's see, in between, all that food, I had two scheduled readings, an impromptu card reading for that Virgo neighbor, plus I had to take care of some web-based business. That's the joy of the relaxed lifestyle, a truly gorgeous Saturday spent working. At least it was amusing work. Mostly.

Ain't you glad?

Getting that back up phone to work was a good idea.

9:45 AM: "We're in Waco."

10:55 AM: "Were almost in Austin."

11:15 AM: "Just dropped your Mom off at her meeting."
Pa Wetzel and I had some breakfast at the Caffeine Dealer. Then he took a quick nap on the futon here, then Ma Wetzel called, and we motored off in his super-sexy Toyota Prius Ultra Low Emissions vehicle.
There was one tense moment. Ma Wetzel insisted that this was a State Occasion, and as such, it warranted me "dressing up." Long pants. Shoes, well, boots, really. And shirt. Something with color and little more formal than just a trademark Hawaiian shirt.
Astrologically, it's a moot point. But knowing what I know, about human nature, about parents, about the situation, it was easier for me to sweat like a stuck pig in nice clothes rather than listen to the endless bitching about my attire.
At one point, we were squired around the SWT (now called Southwest Texas State University) Geography Department by a grad assistant who was dressed just like I should've been.
Ceremony. Press the flesh. Fancy dinner. Catch a lift back to Austin with a head of some department. Talk about geography.
Their computer lab was pretty amazing. Lots of computational horsepower for rendering maps and Land Sat photos, I guess.
Fascinating staff and professors. Two or three of the guys were chairs, which means, the conversation was actually erudite and intellectual. Heady stuff. Makes me want to do something like go back to school.
There was driving and then there was rain, and then at one point, there was driving rain. But no one complained too much. I'm loving the spring-like feeling in the middle of the hot summer. Bet it won't last. Sure enough, the rain clouds when I went to bed? They're all gone now. Crystal clear blue sky.
Durn phones.

I turned my cell phone off when I boarded the plane for El Paso, last Saturday. When I switched it back on in El Paso, the phone didn't work. To be a little more precise, the service didn’t work, the phone worked just fine.
I spent a weekend without cell service, no problem. Mailed them a check, last week? Sometime. Who cares, right?
So I got around to calling up the "customer care" number, from the landline, to see what the deal was. No luck. "Must be on your end."
So, the next night, when the phone still turned on, cycled up, powered up and did everything but dial out, I called the "customer care" line again. Billing - account is current - transferred me to tech support.
We went through the motions, and I suggested it was probably a One Dee Ten Tee problem.
"Oh you know about that?"
"Yeah, I'm sure I'm just doing something wrong here...."
I punched buttons, turned it off and on, waited, they did something, I did something, nothing worked.
While waiting on the tech to work his magic, I asked about his best stupid call.
"Man, I got this one guy, he wanted to know how come his phone wouldn't ring when it was turned off."
"What did you do?" I asked.
"I had him repeat the problem three times. I just couldn't understand."
My phone service still doesn't work, but that's refreshing, in a way, no more annoying calls, "Hey, what are you doing right now?"
I finally had that sudden flash of insight, after a third or fourth call to resolve the problem. I popped the cell phone open, pulled out the chip thing, popped it into the old phone, and suddenly, it all worked again.
Problem solved, at least temporarily. The biggest problem? That backup phone? It's not disposable.

Waiting on the bus

Quick links:

Triple X Fish News?
Gothic zodiac. Looks like some else is using my idea of fishing lure for an earring, see the Pisces?
Fun with the folks.

Pa Wetzel made a donation of some sort to SWT. San Marcos. "What should we do in San Marcos?"
Valentino's on the Square. Great pizza. Even better than Austin Pizza's Jalapeno and Anchovy [delivered to Shady Acres>, there's that special Valentino's tomato, bacon & ranch dressing pizza. Excellent chow in a sleazy dive of a pizza parlor.
Rob's Humidor, great place to pick up a cigar. Or maybe a box of cigars.
Sharp Things, get a tattoo. On the square. From Harold.
Looking at my list of activites in San Marcos, I'm a little out of sorts. I mean, there's nothing there to keep my parents happy, now is there?
Originally, this was supposed to be a Father's Day thing, too. I had a Libra friend fetch me up so I could do a little Father's Day shopping, nothing like waiting for the last minute to snag an old standby.
We wandered over to Whole Earth Provision Co., down on Lamar. Bought a sumac walking stick, a cane, actually. One of the counter workers offered to help by wrapping the stick.
"Oh, so what's your birthday?"
"October. Libra. What's yours?"
"Sagittarius," I said, moving closer to the counter, sensing something.
The Libra had put the cane in two bags, effectively covering it, and she was tying a knot with some colorful twine, "Sagittarius? Ex-boyfriend is a Sagittarius," she continued, yanking on the string. The twine broke.
I stepped back from the counter while she finished. I just had an image of her cracking my collarbone with that walking stick.
"Just a harmless Sagittarius, no really...."

Wandering through Wednesday

I only had a few more signs left in one batch of horoscopes, so I wrapped that up a tad early. Left me with a block of free time in the middle of the day, as I did have an evening reading booked.
Up and over the Lamar pedestrian bridge, up to the post office, my hair up in a bun, no shirt on, the day just as nice and mellow as could be. Back down to Barton Creek, quick dip, on homeward, wash up, change and talk to the parental units about upcoming plans. They will be around this coming weekend. Then, of course, it's Father's Day on Sunday.
So it was back to the Caffeine Dealer, read for yet another Virgo, and have myself a plate of vegetables, then sitting under the torpid evening sky, delineating a chart, the possibilities, the projections, and what's up ahead.
I stepped inside to fetch up coffee for myself, and another Red Stripe for that Virgo. I like doing readings where a client can have a beer or two. Just makes everything go down a little smoother.
When I wandered around to the front of the store, I spied a familiar visage, none other than world-famous Ben Brown (of So New Media fame, as well as an outspoken web personality). I handed him my card and complimented him on his career choices. And asked his birthday.
Aquarius. "But I don't believe in that..."
Still a way cool guy, and now that I know he's an early Aquarius? Even cooler.

Mental excrement instantiates.

It was a link, a passing comment on Scott's The Fat Guy site, a quick note and link about Texas Music. It was also a call from a Pisces about the passing of Steamboat.
It was several things. I wandered up the hill from here to see a Capricorn about reading her chart. I wandered home and took a nap. I fired off the weekly news.
I'm back to my universal quandary, too. That book of Bubba's, which I'm reading, it has some interesting points.
There's one portion of the text, though, that I'm at odds with. It's about giving it all away for free. I'm not interested in that. I love the concept. It certainly works for some places. I understand the ideal and the idea. When I win the lottery, I'll do just that.
But I'm also living on a very slim profit margin -- some weeks -- no margin.
What I came up with varies. It's either going back to the text itself - astrology column - as the intro page, or leaving the minimalist splash page as it is. Or, something else?
I don't have the user experience that I can delve into these days. I'm not in position to understand what the user sees. I turned off most of the website's tracking software, other than on IP logging on this journal, just to make my life easier.
I was working on two other projects yesterday morning, but at one point, I had a memorable event, and that got turned into a couple of horoscopes. While I was in that zone, I was happiest.
It's always nice to feel like I haven't lost the touch.
I got to tweaking a little, and I wanted to add Bubba's book to my own list of recommendations, and while I was doing that, I had a bizarre observation, less than ten percent of the site is dedicated to advertising. That makes this place 90% free of crap. Tends to respect the reader for what the reader is, as an intellect. Of course, that also creates another problem, for those folks who just ain't bright enough to get the subtle wit.
Reminded me of that Scorpio the other night, bemoaning the fact that some folks missed his humor, slightly sarcastic, slightly askew. Oh right, like I'm going to miss it, too? I thought he was just as funny as could be. But that Scorpio caustic humor always amuses me.
Which doesn't address the question of design.

Bubba's new book

Long-time conspirator and former editor/webmaster around here, Bubba, he's written a book. Actually, just co-authored the text, he has the share the byline with another person. A business book, no less. I doubt he'll enjoy me referring to the text as Huba and Bubba.
Yes, and marketing just not really my forte, but I am looking forward to reading it. I was wandering around downtown - really, I had gone to the post office box to grab the weekend mail - and there was the book in its packaging. I knew from the label what was probably in it.
There were other goodies inthe mailbox, too. Couple of CD's, burned just for me. That's just awful sweet.
And some money, that's always a treat.
But an idylic little stroll along the river's edge was cut short by a phone appointment then an evening reading.
Sitting under the shade outside a coffee shop, an iced coffee drink in hand, pausing, pointing, and delineating aspects in a chart, it was all good.
I had to detour by the bank, to get home, and that side trip necessitated a stop at the South Congress Amy's, which then meant I had to pass close to the Steamboat. There was a "closed" sign on the marquis.
That got me thinking, I was wondering, just exactly how many folks understand what it takes to run a club? Or any small business? Like a website? How much effort goes into the "behind the scenes" work to make it all seem so smooth and seamless?
I remembered what the guy at Amy's did, too. There was short line, and when I stepped up, he asked me how I was doing. "I'll just take a tiny Mexican Vanilla."
"What did I ask you?"
"Oh, I'm doing fine. Better even. It's great to be here!"
"Good. Now what did you want?"
How can you not love a place that's in love with itself?
Only in Texas.

Rights & rituals

Traveling blues.
The flight out Sunday night was crowded and the airline held the flight for about half an hour, waiting on some other arriving flight. Having been in their shoes once or twice myself, I couldn't help but gently chide the passengers arriving late, "Oh, so you're the one who made us late?"
My arrival ritual, and this has caused much consternation in my past history with relationships, is to get home, unpack, and immediately assess what is needed for the next suitcase for the next trip, and pack thusly.
It's easier and I don't have to think about supplies when it comes time to load and go next. Ink cartridges, batteries, blank paper for charts, blank cassettes, and so forth. All much easier, and it's my ritual. Unload and load up again.
Only, close to midnight Sunday night, I dropped a little cat food in the bowl and called it night, being too tired, too worn out, and frankly, not thinking about too much else besides sleep.
I did read about two pages in the bedside book, but not much lese.
So Monday morning, it was almost a surprise when I looked at my battle-beaten, road warrior suitcase. There was a safety inspection sticker on it. It had been opened and its contents examined.
Dirty T-shirt, wrinkled Hawaiian shirt, pair of shorts, a couple of blank tapes, a sign, and a couple of the usual knick-knacks, like a crystal, and a little Malachite figurine egg thing. A rosary. No big deal, didn't bother me.
What happens when my ritual is broken, though? What are the ramifications?
Batteries. I know I forgot batteries this last time. I'm good at estimating consumable supplies for a road trip, and I was within five blank tape, and ten sheets of paper of guessing the right stuff for this last El Paso trip. But I, somehow, forgot batteries.
I do remember the luggage handler, curbside in El Paso, saying something to the effect of, "Oh yeah, I recognize that suitcase. Still have long hair, huh?"
I don't know how he could recognize the suitcase, though, I've added at least two more stickers to it since I was last there....
Phone service & Aries

Didn't work when I hopped off the plane. Didn't worry about it. I was explicating the phone service problem with a local resident.
"You know it's a problem when the phone works in Juarez, where you wind up with a roomful of 15-year old strippers, but the phone won't work on its nation-wide plan in El Paso. We're not really part of the nation."
It was an Aries girl talking. One of three. Four. None of the same three that I alluded to on Saturday morning, either. Neither. It was a completely different group. I'm just an Aries magnet these days. Doesn't hurt.
Still trying to figure that one out. It was amusing, in the very least. I counted five, varying from a couple of Aries readers to a handful of women cavorting around my table at closing time, all Aries.
And none of them were the Aries from the previous day.
That's just a lot of fire. Made for a very Aries weekend, if you ask me. Can't explain it exactly.
Got the nicest blurb, though, and an astrological explanation elsewhere, just a hint of a suggestion, though, as to why anything happened, it all has to do with Saturn. And Saturn's just made his way in Cancer. Going to create a tension angle, at one point or another, over the next couple of years, to Aries. But that's just an educated guess.


When I rolled into work, I had clients waiting while I pulled out a tablecloth, tacked my sign up on the wall, and flopped out the computer, printer, and tarot cards. Ready to go. Saddled up and started right away.
First one? Aries. Second? Aries. Third? Aries. Seeing a trend? I hope so. Just the way it goes.
Anyway, a little later, one of the readers [Pisces> drifted around and made a comment how someone had spread salt on her table and chairs.
One of the gatekeepers mentioned that a religious group, supposedly funny-mentalists, had come down, some from El Paso, most from Las Cruces (NM), and they had "blessed us" with salt.
It's like, I used to carry salt, pure sea salt [according to the label> and this action of spreading salt around really helps dispel negative vibrations. Of course, that group was just trying to ward off evil spirits.
I rather enjoyed myself.
We are a little close to the fringe of the bible belt. You know, on the backside of the belt? Where it has a feller's name? There's El Paso.
So the gatekeeper did get license plate numbers and duly turned it over to the authorities. However, I'm not sure that it met with much assistance. Internecine war amongst religious groups doesn't count for much airtime.
Personally, I hope those guys pray for my soul. I can always use all the help I can get.
Whatever they did must've helped me. I was very busy for the first portion of the afternoon. I missed getting salted.
As I was thinking about it, though, and I kept having this recurring nightmare image, free-floating anxiety, an scene of one - or more - of my buddies, upon hearing that their wives had been salted, casually reaching for a deer rifles and sportsman's firearms, determined to protect that right of free speech.
Oh yes, I could just see bubbas, running a cleaning patch through the barrel of sidearm, or wiping some gun oil on the barrel of a long rifle, calm, determined, almost merry, "They did what?"
El Paso by morning

Ever have a morning without coffee? That's just how Saturday started for me. I knew it was going to be a long day, so I took it easy - didn't bother to make any coffee at home. I knew - on my way to the airport - that I could fetch some up in several places.
But the doors at the Hideout were still locked when I switched buses and hopped on the Airport Flyer. I'm used to earlier Saturday mornings, so the later flight threw me when I looked at a long line of people, families with children and baggage at the check in counter.
Behind me, a couple was arguing quietly amongst themselves as to which line was shorter, the one curbside or the one inside at the counter.
I pointed out, the other line always moves fasters.
"Inside or out?"
"Whichever one you're not in."
Comical moment occurred at the security gate. It's summer time, and I'm wearing sandals, shorts, and a Hawaiian shirt.
"Want me to take my shoes off?" I asked the security cop.
Another passenger rolled her eyes and shrugged at me as she slipped out of her flip-flops, and I took off my Water Walkers.
I walked through the metal detector, picked up my X-Rayed belongings, and walked over to sit down and fasten those sandals back on.
An Austin Police Department officer was watching me, or rather, looking at the tan lines on my feet. Nothing else. Almost amused him.
Why the tan lines on my feet amuse people, I'll never understand. It's not different than a line from a wristwatch or a wedding band, right?

Freelance schedule

My schedule is weird amalgam of readings, walks, talks, phone times, web times, and just about every other association possible.
For the third day in a row, I've had one reading cancel, another show up, and then Friday, just nothing. Blank schedule. I did have a lunch appointment, but I was dealing with a person with far more hectic routine than my own, so I didn't worry about her canceling out. No big deal.
I had my heart set on east side food, a little taqueria I hadn't seen in many months, but true to form, I found myself headed the other direction. Looping through the midday sun, ambling, looking, not really in a big hurry to get anywhere. I did a long loop alongside the river then back up to Jo's to fetch up some coffee, just something to keep awake the rest of the afternoon. I drained the cup long before I ever arrived home, too.
I kept thinking about the weather, almost too nice lately. Doors open, windows open, a light breeze puffing its way through, that "spring" feeling in the air. Almost too cool for swimming. Then laundry. Not like there was a lot, but a few items could stand to be washed. And a few things to clean.
I remember, now, why I don't have a maid service. Took all of four minutes to sweep this place out. Not exactly clean enough for surgery, but it will be welcome when I get back in on Sunday night.
I've been meaning to try the noodle place down the street, too. Finally did that for an afternoon repast. Wasn't exactly that great. Wasn't bad, but the shrimp in the spring roll tasted fishy. Nothing that a liberal dose of hot sauce can't cure, and the sauce for the chicken was just a little too salty. I'm not sure why this is, but the local versions of Asian cuisine seem to suffer from too much salt.
Or maybe that's the way it's really done. I don't recall enough about being in the Far East to tell what the food was really like.
But here, and at more than one place, there's just a touch too much salt.
I guess everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt, though.
I'm hopefully in El Paso by now.

Summer Squalls

Thursday morning, I rolled out of bed to feed a loud cat, looked at the gray sky, and I just figured it was like, about 7 in the morning.
It wasn't. I'd overslept. Not a lot, and it's not like there was a lot on the time sheet for the morning, just had to go and fix computer, and try to find a diabetic black cat.
The cat story is funny in retrospect. But not funny at the time. One evening, I'd gotten him loaded in his cage/carrier, and he was mewling like I was torturing him. Wailing, loud and long. Took a few minutes for the vet tech to shoot him up, not without a loud wail that rattled the windows, that boy wasn't going down without a fight.
However, in the short car ride home? Just like some kind of a junkie, he was purring and rubbing his cheek up against the carrier's mesh front, apparently happy to see me.
Thursday's morning squall was just one of those meteorological happenings that makes it all worthwhile. Thunder, lightening, maybe an inch of cool, cool rain.
I opened up the humidor and popped out a treat, a white metal tube with a Dominican Republic product, hand-rolled, and fired that puppy up.
After rereading my Clint Eastwood allusion in this week's scopes, I wanted one of those thin little cigars like his character smoked.
I settled for a "corona," which is about five or six inches long and a little over half an inch in diameter.
Looking at the cigar band, "Hand Made," I got thinking about it all, I've been meaning to add a line someplace on the site, "Made in America (with some parts assembled in Mexico)," which is obviously lifted from a certain comic strip.
There's an upside to downside mail, something I didn't expect at all:

More hate mail

One of those electronic notes cycled through late last night, complaining about the fact that the free horoscopes are a week behind, leading to the conclusion that the subscription scopes are up-to-date, which then lead to the flame part that suggested I was losing another reader because it wasn't free anymore. (But there is free stuff!)
Bothered me. I was stuck between hand-holding the midnight change, and trying to find a cat who's disappeared. Black diabetic cats are like that. If the real owner wasn't so fond of that cat, and a dear friend, I wouldn't have been out in the night, chasing around some south side apartment, trying to locate the damn cat. After spending a little time around my own mistress, that other cat isn't as friendly as he used to be.
But the note, it was another one of those "I can't afford to pay for a subscription, so I guess I'll stop frequenting your site" type of things.
Bothered me.
Apparently, the time and energy that goes into writing a horoscope doesn't much matter. Apparently, it's unappreciated. The vagaries and concerns of the financial well-being of the site don't matter much, it's more along the lines of a plaintive wail, "Where's my free stuff!"
Been a while since I've gotten just such a note. The last note along this line came from someone wanting a mailing address to send a donation, a much nicer, "thanks for the good times" piece of text, including a "where do I send the money?"
For many years, I was driven by this perception that raw hits, raw readership, bigger numbers, more bandwidth burned, all that added up to more cash income.
It doesn't mean more money; it just means that the site's upkeep costs more.
Then, at the beginning of the year, I was advised that, "The more you give away, the more you receive." Again, it works for some sites, but the product that's given away? That free stuff? It's very diluted. Doesn't seem to be working here.
If I'd just looked over my own successes and failures, I'd realize that. Paid ranking with search engines? That didn't work. Print advertising? No success there. Paid subscriptions?
Those are starting to work. Plus, there's the added bonus of being able to sign up for e-mail delivery via the paid subscription section.
I had another exchange of e-mail with a person fishing for some free information. I'm guessing it was teenage girl, but that's a guess, not for sure.
When I finally deciphered the language and figured out what was being asked, I thought, "Yes, I do have those files here, but that's a question for a paid reading." I wrestled with my conscience for a few minutes, but I couldn't come up with a decent answer as to why I should send this data out, for free. The response I received? "I know I can find it on the web someplace...."
Which triggered a thought process that I'm not happy about, remembering that an aspiring novelist was using the free planet profiles to create fiction characters. Or so I was informed.
Nope, not doing free anymore. Server, bandwidth, all that costs money.
Or, in that one, bothersome note, your broadband service costs money.
And those bothersome notes? After I write about it for a while, I remember that someone who doesn't pay, is basically stealing.
Nice to know where I rate with them.
In the grand scheme, I know that will be noted.
Ideas - Flash Site

I've got two ideas I've never developed, nor, does it looks like I'll ever have a chance to do any of the work to make these sites go. But they struck me as cool ideas.
1) An online Palm Reader -

This would be so simple. Might've been done, for all I know, but the idea is easy. Takes two parts, one is form to input name, date of birth, and so on. Then that form either e-mails or pops up an on-screen "reading" based on the birthday. Simple enough, give the person/user a few lines about how wonderful that sign is.
The graphic part of the interface is what I had so much fun imagining. Basically, it would be a panel, then a glowing bar that would slide up and down the panel, long enough for it to "read" a palm pressed against the user's monitor.
Think of the laughable web statistics, how many hours would people spend with their palms pressed against their computer screens, thinking that the animated glowing light was actually "reading" their palms?
Oops, already been done. But it could so much more.
2) Waterloo Records Flash

Bubba Sean started it. To be 100% truthful, I don't think the idea originated with him, but he certainly carried it to a new level with his version.

It's the Waterloo Records bumper sticker. The modified version.
Again, this would be a simple animation to pull together. I could do it myself. But it would take too much time.
Just set up the letters to the bumper sticker as objects, and let folks arrange them the way they wanted to - virtual bumper sticker.
Be a simple web page to program, just takes time.


There's an age-old riddle, and know what?
They've got an answer.
Money/Time x Religion (bad math)

I started to do the math on this one, and I never made that call. The numbers scared me away.
Figure that I call, and then they log the phone number, so I get calls once per day, asking me to donate. If that goes on for a week, that's 7 minutes. Then, I'll start getting junk mail. Trashing and recycling the junk mail will take, oh, 30 seconds in a day, averaged out over a year's span? That's a minute a week, or almost a whole hour in a year. Maybe more, depending on the math.
I will admit, though, that the satisfaction I got from just thinking that I could call up an evangelical hotline and receive a buck in the mail was exciting.
But the ensuing harassment?
For a buck?
Probably not worth it.
Looks like I'd make it into their database. Good thing I don't have satellite TV.
Yea, verrily, forgive me for I have sinned.

Just a dollar - evangelism

I looked at my cash receipt from Half Price Books, and I noticed that there was a little yellow sticky not attached.
"Dude, what you do, I did it, you call Robert Tilton's hotline, and they send you a dollar!"
The deal is, they send a dollar, and I presume, add you to the mailing list for farming. You're supposed to, just what I've been told, add some more dollars to this dollar they send you, and then, what? Guaranteed a spot in heaven?
Who knows?
Who cares?
Is a free phone call worth a dollar?
Consider it second-hand evangelism.
Clicks, claws & storms

I clicked through to a geek comic strip and the ad running at the time was for conference in San Antonio. I looked through the conference material, nothing that interested me except the keynote speaker: Neal Stephenson. Who, oh-by-the-way, has a new book due out - called Quicksilver.
Cat wrestling. Snarling, fangs bared, claws extended. Nope, not happy day for trying to give the cat a shot of insulin. Poor guy, his back must feel like pin cushion, and he's just getting to the point that he doesn't snarl at me. I kind of enjoy the repartee, as his growl becomes a vicious purr. If it wasn't personally directed at me, I'd find it amusing. Almost.
The cat's home is close to Half Price Books, so I figured, as long as I was there, might as well cash in some books. Always good to do a little housecleaning and unload the texts that will never, ever be read - at the very least - put them back in the food chain.
Problem being, I couldn't really find anything else to pick up. With the pile of cash I had, there was enough to buy dinner at Sandy's. #1 combo, burger, fries, drink.

Feast Day of St. Elmo

Patron saint of Sailors, I believe. And the source of the Marfa Lights, if you ask me. But no one did.
Hooked up with a guitar player who could stick the cat, then ambled down home and up to meet with an informal group of local writers.
From the edge of the river, where Shady Acres is located, it's all uphill, every direction. Unless, of course, you're going downstream, but never mind that direction. So it was uphill all the way over to Curra's, and from there, with less than 20 minutes elapsed time, it was all mostly downhill. In a fun way, of course. I would point out that we certainly cleared our section of the patio. Conversation turned nice and raunchy in no time flat. A good time was had by all.
And then, and then I heard that plaintive wail. It's one I'm real familiar with, a tune I don't like, but I've sung it many times. It's a sad song, about doing something for love, and then, ungrateful cretins, get all up in your face because you have the temerity to attempt to charge a nominal sum for what you do.
See, what that Libra was describing, how she felt about one of her e-mails, those notes had similar effect on me. Pain, anguish, and ultimately, frustration. Spend a lot of hours coding, tweaking a server, painstakingly working on editing, writing, proofreading, the number of hours are enormous. Then there's the fiscal aspect. Last fall, this last winter, a good portion of the spring, I worked a second job to help pay for all of this.
And just once, I enjoyed a brilliant epiphany, as that Libra was talking through her frustration. Oh yes, I've been there. Some person drops a quick email, complaining about complaining.
I think my personal fave was self-absorbed.
Although, for sheer audacity, there were some others, as well as personal slam.
Jette, her sweet Scorpio self, leaned over to me, and mumbled something about, "like folks writing and complaining about free horoscopes?"
From the restaurant, a splinter group adjourned to Amy's. I was ecstatic because I'd just heard someone with the very same sense, the identical lament, the same pain and anguish, the angst, I've suffered with for lo, these many months.
Then there's the way I now deal with such "inbox" material; it's a two-fold process:
1) Consider that the person writing in has a small mind. Maybe the person doesn't understand the intricacies of finance. Maybe, they're just a dumb as a stump. Inconsiderate, too.
2) The delete key. Works really well and is remarkably freeing. I highly recommend it.
Which doesn't have anything to do with what the outcome of the situation was, just that I felt a sudden kinship because I was no longer alone in dealing with web trolls.
St. Elmo's Fire is static electricity that builds up, especially during storms, originally on the rigging of sailing ships. It arcs and sparks, releasing a fiery light show.
In some cases, it occurs at ground level, hence the allusion to the Marfa Lights. Actually hearing someone else, in the same line of work, bitching about the same people, or the same type of people, just made me feel better. I'm not alone.
It was one of those rare occasions when I said, "I feel your pain," and yes, I really do. Do I ever.
It's that little spark, running up and down the spine - like a personal version of St. Elmo's.

Fishing, claws, pizza & coffee

At oh dark thirty" the phone rang, "Kick her out, bud, time to fish."
I glanced at the alarm clock, cursed, yanked on my shorts, grabbed my gear, and slammed out the door.
Me. I overslept. Alarm clock, which I had carefully set the night before, didn't go off.
Navigation on through the "under construction" freeway also proved problematic.
"The fishing gods just don't want us there early, I guess," opined the driver.
I opined nothing, being too early, and me having missed a wake-up alarm. I was a little rattled.
"We were out last weekend and got skunked," he continued.
I am, however, a good luck charm. To the tune of at least two fish, one of which was pretty good, by my standards.
Cartwright's for BBQ, afterwards, as is the custom, and had enough leftover to carry some home.
Got home, and I went and visited the diabetic cat. Got claws stuck in my while I was brandishing the syringe, so I gave up and came home, took a nap. Left a call for the other guy who does the cat, to let him know it might take two of us to tackle the little feller, as that one cat was not in a good mood.
Finally got my nap, and finally got out for Saturday night in Austin. Met with Mr. Gemini and friends, for dinner and drinks + comic commentary for the original Terminator at the Alamo. The commentary was actually quite amusing.
Arnold, as the Terminator, takes a hit. He keeps on coming, "He's not human - he's Republican."
Guess you had to be there.


Shopping day.

I got up and decided that it wasn't time to "go see the cat."
I kept coming up with all sorts of tasks I needed to accomplish Friday morning, just so I didn't have to go and shoot the cat again. But I tried anyway. Didn't really get to the cat, either as he was burrowed back in a closet full of shows. What do women need that many pairs of shoes for?
So I wandered off to the superstore, conveniently located next to a sporting goods store, and I stopped in to pick some more bait. I wandered in barefoot, and I was spending an inordinate amount of time trying to locate the "pink plastic worms." Out of stock. Bummer.
I did pick up a truckload of groceries, and I did get most of it put away. Then I went back and tried to make peace with the cat again. At least this time, he wasn't growling as much. Eventually, he came around and let me poke him once with the needle.
I spent several tense moments trying to figure out how to work the various remotes for the TV, DVD, VHS and so forth. Finally got one button right, and I watched a movie. I think that relaxed the target [cat> some.
The cat is going to have to wait today, though, as I'm going fishing.

Joan of Arc Day

St. Joan of Arc. Right. Mark Twain's story about the saint. Figures, Joan of Arc was a Capricorn.
A pretty Aries came flying in from some little town, just to see me. And buy me some bait, apparently. She was distraught because she was double-booked for the evening and didn't get to spend near enough time with me, which was fine, really. After I printed up the charts she requested, I looked at her, and asked if she was any good with needles.
Took her by surprise, and it's darn near impossible to surprise an Aries.
With one Capricorn friend out of town, I have to go over twice a day and arrange to shoot up the cat with insulin. I don't believe that I'm looking forward to the next week of twice-daily trips to the vet.
I'm just wondering how many vet stories I can get out of this one. I do believe it does wonders for my "cat karma" although, I'm pretty sure my mistress is not amused that I'm doing this for some other cat.

Perfect symmetry

There's just something perfectly idyllic about wandering along Barton Springs Road, an Earl Campbell hotlink on a bun, in one hand. A large cup of ice, brown fizzy water [diet coke> in the other hand, and my shirt thrown across my shoulder.
It's a tough balancing act, but I was doing okay until the breeze kicked up a notch. Then it was little harder than I liked. Mustard dribbled onto the shirt. Didn't show, though, I mean, it's a typical Kramer shirt. Mustard just looks like the pattern.
It's really hard to be suave and debonair, in the midst of an astrological discussion about Saturn in the final degrees of Gemini, talking to a Capricorn, at Chuy's, when the phone rings.
"Hi Mom."
I duck some calls, but never miss Ma Wetzel calls. It's just "not done."

Feast Day of St. Bernard of Montjoux

He was an 11th Century monk, the patron of hikers and mountaineers. He's credited with coming up with that all-too-familiar expression, "love me, love my dog."

Just such a strange afternoon. I'm having hard time adjusting to not being employed, something I thought I would never admit to. But I'm out of form for taking afternoon naps. And it was almost too cool to hit the creek for a dip. Imagine that.
I managed to scavenge a couple of good pictures - well, I liked them - and I've added them.
I kept thinking, "Tuesday, Tuesday, where's the special today?" Trying desperately to remember was it Tuesday that the two-meat plate at the BBQ place was the lunch special? Further investigation is called for. But my Tuesday was a vegetable day, as I had an evening reading at the Caffeine Dealer, and that always means Greens. Collard Greens, in vinaigrette, plus red beans and fresh cornbread. Add some coffee and an Aries chart? It's all good.
Got that database working again, only lost a few days, and I rebuilt those.

Along that dusty trail

I was heading home, the long way, trying to dial in the new pedometer. I know my route, runs a little over four miles, round trip, includes a dip in the creek, to cool off. Some of the trail passes right in front of the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue.
Memorial Day, there was some kind of "triathlon" event. It had occurred much earlier in the day but the trail was still fenced off in places. Down by the fountain, a rather trim and cut black man was stretching and doing lifts on the parallel bars. He and another guy were joking about the event.
"Yeah, then you bike something like 13 kilometers, then you run something like 13 kilometers, and then you swim," he said, gesturing towards the river front.
"Man, I'd drown."
A lady had been pacing me, from way back at the bridge, and she just looked at me funny, "I'd let him drown, good looking as he is, then save him so he could drown again, so I could save him again."
All I could do was laugh.
Later in the evening, Bubba Sean popped by on his way someplace. He brought along two, mighty fine, mighty good, mighty stinky cigars. We sat on the patio and watched the light leak out of the sky, the fading sunlight disappearing behind the trees.
Excellent $2 cigars.

Memorial Day

BBQ? The Lake? Or just a good book?
I suppose it's worth noting that I finally finished Joe R. Lansdale's A Fine Dark Line, and I would heartily recommend it, as usual. Sort of a weird coming of age novel, set against deep south prejudice and East Texas summers. Perfect at this time of year.


How easy it is, to pick up right where I left off. Friday afternoon, walk to the creek, jump in the cold water, walk by the post office, buy a few stamps.
Saturday afternoon, walk to the creek, go for a leisurely swim, walk to the post office, buy a few stamps.
I've had this awful crick in my neck, a free-floating piece of anxiety. One day, left shoulder, next day, right shoulder, Friday, it moved up to my neck, and the whole time, nothing like a little dip in the cool water to straighten out the problem.
I'd inquired, when I was still marginally employed, if I was supposed to work Memorial Day. Since I had that day off, I had big plans for the weekend, a fully empty schedule. Walk, swim. Sleep. Walk some more, swim some more, sleep some more. Get recharged.
Looks like I get to stretch my plans on into next week. Now that I've got afternoons free again, I can start looking for some paid readings - are as I tend to refer to it - real work.
I keep a written log of my mileage on the trail; it's so nice to see it filling up again.

Feast day of St. Urban

Patron Saint of wine guys. Hoist one for the saint.
So this was weird, but in a good way. See, it was a Libra kind of day. First off, the guy who used to be referred to as "mi patron," me and him, we had us one of those little talks. He talked, I listened. I have numerous shortcomings as a property manager. Can't say as I blame him. He meandered around a bit, we worked in an apartment together, and we both decided, in the most amicable way possible, that Friday was, seeing as how it was the end of one of the pay periods, a good time to end my part-time employment.
Noble experiment. Started when Mercury was backwards, ended when Mercury was backwards. More or less. I'll certainly stick by what I've suggested in the past, he's a good man to work for. I was feeling that sullen, bitter sense, but in my heart, I knew he was right.
See: I'm just too nice of a guy. I make a terrible landlord.
I'm bitter about two things: one, I just purchased another bus pass. That's ten bucks down the drain. Or maybe not, might use it yet. I just doubt I'll get $10 worth of bus rides out of it. Then there's the issue with Barton Springs. I missed a whole month of free admittance to Barton Springs. Because I was working. I'm little toasted about that.
Other issues? This is where it got amusing for me. I came home and stretched out for a minute. The phone started ringing. Libra: "You okay?"
"Fine, no really, I'm all right with it. Amicable. Very nice."
Then, since everyone wanted to call me and offer condolences, I just motored on down to Barton Creek and went for a quick dip. Up the trail and over to the post office. The phone started ringing. "You okay, dude?" [Gemini> "You okay?" [The Virgo> "You okay?" [Sweet Pisces>
Finally agreed to dinner with the Pisces. We started in one direction, then wound up way down south at a special little hole-in-the-wall place. Libra waitress. I was forced to discuss matters with the Libra, who just got a job as a leasing agent, and a Taurus, who was an assistant property manager, and with a Leo, who was their boss.
In the background, after a delicious - and economical - plate of Italian food, a country-fried band was warming up. Lead singer was wearing a Dukes of Hazzard shirt - in an Italian Restaurant.
Eventually, that Libra pulled up a chair and virtually demanded more astrology insight. It's that Libra influence for the day.

Source Material

Back-ups. Oh, I got your backups, right here.
I crashed my database that holds the text files and everything else for this journal Wednesday night. No big deal, not really, I could see the data on the server, I just couldn't get to it. Everything's fine, sure. Sure. And instead of trying to figure out what went wrong while Mercury was still in his throws of backspin, I decided to call it night. There will be a back up, right? Sure, that's why we pay the big bucks for this server, right?
Nice enough idea.
And I do have back up source material, almost every entry, in text file format, on my drive, backed up onto other drives, just all over the place. But I don't have a back up of the database itself. So when something breaks, like it will, I'm screwed.
So it goes.
Wednesday night, minutes before midnight, a few souls eagerly reloading their browsers, waiting for the new scopes to tick over. Not like it's a good time to work on back end issues. Besides, I was dead-nuts tired. I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but I know when I shouldn't be working.
So I wasn't. I'll fix it later.
But there wasn't anything I could fix. Front end is fine, back end lost all its data. Structure is fine, data gone.


Clerks was at the Alamo downtown, for a late showing. I was really planning on going, but at the last minute, that Pisces and Sagittarius wanted to meet for some dinner first.
The deal was, the Pisces had a coupon for $20. The bill for dinner was about $30. Figuring it all out, we all pitched in a $20 bills, and had too much, needed some change. I had a couple of singles in my wallet, I made change for the Pisces, then looked over at Cranky Amy, "Give me your twenty."
"Do I get a lap dance for that?" she asked.
Guess you had to be there. Funny girl.
Got home and the sky started to spit rain. There was an excuse not to head back out into the night.
Dixie Chicks played town; the I-35 (game II) was on, and that was enough to call it a night.
Silent Bob: You know, there's a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don't all bring you lasagna at work. Most of 'em just cheat on you.
Brilliant movie. I hope it plays there again soon.

Bottom run of the ladder

So I walked into the office, "Hey, how we doing?" I was sporting one of my better shirts, trying to close that gap, or add fuel to the fire.
Big boss is there, looks at me over our shared pair of reading glasses. New employee is next to "mi patron," and they're both looking at a computer screen, more instruction on the in and out details of the business.
Boss's cell rings, he takes a call from our accountant person, who has obviously just misplaced a hundred dollars. Just catching snippets of the conversation, we're not worried because he has bemused look on his face.
He hangs up.
"Somebody needs to go over there and slap her around," mi patron says to the office.
I had my cell in my hand, having just spent some time working out a deal with a Gemini for a post Mercury RX reading. I just walked in the door.
Without missing a second, the pair of folks looking over at me. Mi Patron with his serious eyes, over the glasses, the new girl, looking really long-faced.
"I just got here. Not me. I'm not going over there and slap her around. No, it's not in the job description. Not me."
"Kramer, I'll drive you over there right now."
I'm not sure if I whimpered or blubbered, first.
That's the problem with being the bottom rung in the company's [rather short> ladder.
Hawaiian Shirt Gap

One day last week, I wandered on into my second job to find another person there, a new employee. I guess that brings the company up to four employees. It's just another friend of the boss, picking up a little part time work.
She's Taurus, she works mornings, I work afternoons, it's all good.
Or maybe not.
She's taken to emulating my style. Shorts, sandals, T-Shirt, and then, one day, a Hawaiian shirt.
This is bad. This is very bad.
It's my tasteless sense of style. It's my idiom. It's my icon.
I've been out shirted. That one shirt she had on? Brighter, louder, more heinous than anything I've got.
This is not good: I'm in trouble, as I'm facing a Hawaiian shirt gap.

Mercurial Blues

And other colors. Or flavors, really.
Monday afternoon, hot, sticky, damp.
To me, it's a sign that I can finally get back to doing what I like to do, now that Mercury has almost righted himself.
I stopped by The Hideout to snag a quick shot of espresso on the way home. When it's warm out, like that, I'm less interested in a tall cup of something hot, and more interested in a quick shot of caffeine to help me make it through the night. Or the afternoon, at least.
I stood at the counter, and looked up, the Virgo barista drifted towards me, and I noted on the menu, "out" stickers posted over most of the libations.
"How about," I fumbled and mumbled, "an espresso shake?"
"Mexican Vanilla and a couple of shots of your espresso?" I asked.
Open Mic poetry night was getting started and I stared out the window, past the empty mic stand, thinking about nothing.
Whir. Steam. Blender noises. More ice cream. Finally - the perfect solution. The perfect combination. The perfect blend of flavors, substances and everything, just right.
Maybe, just maybe, Mercury times are over. Might be a signal.
The first sip was amazing. Tart espresso flavor backed up against creamy vanilla, rich and thick, like a good mole sauce. Cool yet warm.
Might be the sugar might be the caffeine, might be the setting sun, might be the long shadows starting to cool off the day. Might be that I finally shrugged out of the shirt. Cold be the downhill walk to the river.
Or might be, just once, the perfect espresso shake.
True perfection - only from a Virgo.
I was pretty high by the time I came slamming through the door. Upset the poor cat.


A Sunday comic strip.
Sunday morning was entirely too pleasant, meet up with a pair of Pisces, and a Virgo, while a Scorpio lad walked in later, all at El Sol y La Luna. I popped on around to Jo's for a decent cup of coffee to go, and the merry Cancer greeted me, while the Sagittarius made the coffee.
Still the best damn cup of coffee I've ever had. The stuff of legends. Which just makes me miss a few things, now that the heat of the summer is here.
Saturday's Saint was some guy who was a Cornish dude, something about wells, and the patron protector from nightmares.
Now, nightmares, they didn't bother me, but apparently, a large number of the readers on Sunday morning were plagued by "visions." Or an inability to sleep.
Guilty conscience? Not me, slept like a baby.
Sunday afternoon turned into Sunday night, and familiar Gemini [blond hair, blue eyes> rolled in from San Antonio, and she offered me a ride home, or I begged a ride, I don't recall. She'd been in town a few days earlier and had lost her cell phone - Mercury is still retrograde - and having tried, she was sure she could find it.
See, this one Gemini, she was grousing about this and that, Saturn being in Gemini and all, and she was bemoaning one fate or another.
We settled into the very booth where she'd lost her phone, and she crawled around under the seat for a second, then I tried to lift the cushions, with no luck, and no phone. The waiter came by.
Flat abdomen, chest rippling beneath his taut uniform shirt, a little single strand straying from his tiny-tidy ponytail, framing his chiseled visage, high cheekbones, strong chin. If I weren't so straight, I'd call the guy a total babe. Couldn't be much younger than the Gemini.
"Got a flashlight?" I asked.
"Sure, I think we've got one in the back," he replied, "what are you looking for?" Mr. Taurus Waiter asked.
"Lost my cell phone, think I left it here," the Gemini replied, sounding perky and hopeful.
She described it, make, model, and so forth.
"Yeah, we got that in the back, here, I'll go and get it, what did you want to drink?"
I had an ice tea, that Gemini ordered tea, and the drop-dead handsome-cute-whatever waiter returned with the phone.
That Gemini flipped the phone open and on, and her face lit up like the phone, she smiled at the waiter, and it was like a connection was made. On a cellular level.

Musical background

After muggy, cloudy, hot days, we get one beautiful day in Austin, and I'm stuck inside, reading charts.
Not my idea of a happy place. Couple of the other vendors approached me about software issues. Not software as in a reading software, but real, live, Mac-centric software question about the operating system. Should've asked me at a time when I knew something.
Let me catch my breath, breakfast was at a surly hour of 8, at Denny's, the day looking bright and cheery, Pisces, Virgo, Leo.
Lunch was a power bar with a Gemini lad, funny, too, because I spent part of Friday evening listening to one Gemini lad and the similarities are striking.
Dinner was about a dozen of the fair workers, all worked out, or wrung out, or something. Tired, more than anything else. I bailed out of Threadgill's first, looping past the bank to make a deposit and lamenting that I neglected to mail some payments off. I sure hope this place doesn't get closed down while I'm not in attendance. Meant to drop that stuff in the mail Friday, in hopes that I would beat the deadline.
Dinner, poor Aries server, didn't catch on, with a Virgo, Pisces, Capricorn, Capricorn, Sagittarius, Leo, Virgo. And me. How I wound up at the head of the table, I'll never understand.
Blame it on Mercury.
All told, though, it was a good weekend for the fair, by local standards. No big, outdoor events going on. No huge things drawing attention elsewhere. Attendance seemed a little off, though. Nice weather does that, I suspect. I wanted to be fishing for something other than dollars.

Office Space

It was a rather desultory day at the other office, my new/old home-away-from-home, a shady apartment complex in East Austin. Stuck with the cachet of "East Austin," though doesn't usually bother me.
Bubba Sean popped by at closing time, and we were supposed to grab a quick a bite, when, in a sudden pique of work-related processing, he recalled that he had to fetch up a notebook computer before he left.
We motored off to his offices. Long, scenic, winding roads, a killer view of the lake, off in the distance, the downtown skyline, blurring into a dense haze. Brown haze. Austin haze?
I commute 20 minutes by bus. Could do it on foot, if I wanted, take a little longer. Or I could do it all on bus, get there quicker.
For readings and such, I just pick a place that's a comfortable walking distance for me. Preferably with good food and beverage service.
"Great view," I pointed out, stating the obvious.
"Yeah, used to be Trilogy Headquarters," he told me.
Made me appreciate my comfortable little neighborhoods, with our idiosyncrasies, and plethora of language options - something not nearly as sterile.
Austin Weekend, up early and off to work.
Know what's freaking me out? I've had two clients refer to me, in e-mail, in the last week, using the same expression. Deal is, neither of those two clients know each other, or, for that matter, neither know of each other. Just weird to see the same reference-point pop up. Nearly as good as being called a "low brow mystic," which, all in all, is probably a better handle.


BBQ cook-off.
I say we raise the money, send Bubba Sean, armed with his fork, his grill, and bottle of Rudy's BBQ sauce, and we could have a winner.
Eclipse action.

Didn't see a thing. But there was the coolest graphic in article that I found online, and I linked it from this week's scopes.
The picture showed the mechanics of the eclipse, how it was happening, and it gave really good visual representation of of some astrological principles.
Then this came along:
> He

> reminded us that we live in a loving and supportive universe

> and that our attitudes towards money and finance tell the

> Universe if we accept its gifts and are willing to accept more

> or if we reject them as "filthy lucre" and not quite acceptable

> for us "spiritual" types (money monks). If we give money (or our services

> and

> talents) away for nothing, we're telling the Universe to stuff it. So

> I quite agree with your irritation at people who want advice

> for free, as if your insight and work were not worth paying for.
I worked yesterday, then last night. Two completely different deals. One was trying to rent apartments, and the second was as entertainment, out in the brush of a new subdivision, south of Austin. Way south of Austin. Seeing as how it was north of the outer loop in San Antonio, I'm not sure what to call it. Not really "in" SA, per se.
We rolled in a little early, after some mighty fine TexMex in SA, rolled out and I was sure that one of my delicate flowers of a Pisces was about to wilt. High clouds rolled in, the folks started to line up, and for about three hours, under the Texas sky, life was good.
The evening cooled off, and I there's always one reading that sticks. Interesting place, SA. The party itself was a benefit for a person, and the rest of the deal was, well, interesting. I did get a couple of offers for fishing trips.
There's a "Texas only" beer commercial running these days, and somehow this commercial just fits with the rest of the evening.
It's magic triangle, Fredrickburg, New Braunfels, Austin. Bunch of liberal, free-thinkers. Lutheran, too, if I recall my history, which, at this point, is a little sketchy.
An eclipse frequently muddles the thought process. Mercury RX, Mercury eclipse, Lunar eclipse. Makes for a confusing time with emotions and such running high.


Sign Builder

I found this two days ago, from a link, but The Fat Guy had it up on his site; therefore, I can do this, too.
And for some more funny bits, there was a Pisces flavor, must've been the moon, to the whole day.
First off, I fetched up an e-mail from a regular reader, and he pointed the similarity between this week's Cap scope, and a line from Miss Congeniality. I just had to point out that one of my blond-haired, blue eyed Pisces friends out-shot all the males in her class when she went to get her permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Then, I was trying to reach another Pisces friend, so I could get on the guest list for the Wednesday Night show, but I never had a chance to get through on the phone lines while she was on air.
Finally, for a third Pisces, I had dip in the pool, and dinner with another Pisces, just to round out the evening.
Just something about a quick dip in the Springs to clear the mind and wash away the acculmated crud from a hot day.
Off for work in San Antonio this afternoon, benefit for (some name brand function goes here). I'll be working with, this is spooky, a Pisces.

Explication and so forth

I like my little melting pot of a neighborhood. I could almost see myself living there, if the landlord was just a little easier to get along with. Wait, I am the landlord, at least a couple of afternoons a week. Guess that's the self-absorbed thing, again, isn't it?
I was stopping off between apartment buildings, digging around in my pocket for some change so I could snag a quick taco. Conjunto was blaring on the radio, painting an aural background for the kitchen, frying meat, sizzling onions, all of that was drifting out through the little window.
The cook looks up at me, and I start wondering out loud if she could understand in French.
"Tu le comppris, que fancaise y'etais plus simple pour moi?" I asked.
I continued, undaunted, "Je prefere francaise?"
Years of college French, like that was a good idea.
But let it never be said that I didn't try alternative forms of communication. I can say "thank you" in Chinese now, I tried learning "June, July, August" in Portuguese, you know, just trying to be a well-rounded - "Saheeb" [some Indian dialect, I think>.
I was learning a few words in that dialect, but I'm little suspicious because of the smirks I elicit when I try the words out. I have to wonder if I'm being taught to say, "thank you" or "I want to have carnal knowledge with your grandmother." Can't tell.
Still, after Portuguese being so close to Spanish, I just figured I could give the old college French a try.
I tried a second time, "Francaise?"
She replied, "Tocina?"
My Spanish is none too good, but from what I understand, "tocina" means bacon.
I think there's a message here, I'm just not sure what. Might be that all white males are pigs. And that might mean that I'm self-absorbed. Either way, it's not much of a revelation.

Travelin' Man

That's what I am.
I was stuck on the Wetzel Network at Case de Ma & Pa Wetzel, in fashionable Dallas, and I was waiting on fredlet's journal to load. I got a close look at the background image. I did a double take.
I would expect something erudite, possibly something from a French nihilist slash existentialist philosopher.
No, seriously, what's really there? Lyrics. From Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird..
Funniest damn thing in the world.
Monday Morning blues

I was - I thought - late to the airport.
Standing at the line to get my boarding pass, the machine spits out the paper, and the attendant looks at me, smiles, "Know which gate you're going to?"
I held the boarding pass up to my forehead, "I'm sensing, Gate 8."
"Austin," she said, glancing at me up and down, smiling, "should've known."
Does that mean I'm predictable?

Morbid moments - funeral directions.

Sister, just about any time we get together, has to tell the funeral story. There really are two parts, and then, there's the trigger for the telling of the story. Pa Wetzel has explicit funeral directions for a party, when he goes. Sister is Tibetan this week [Gemini>, and I've requested a Bubba Sean eulogy (tm). Ma Wetzel wants a decent Methodist service through her church, punctuated with a little rolling of the eyes, and a hint that Pa Wetzel will be buried with a regular Methodist service, too.
Which means we always have to go back and talk about my maternal grandfather's funeral. In his will, he left a portion of cash money to insure that all of his grandchildren could fly in for the "burrin'."
At that time, Sister specifically requested that I meet her at the airport, and we high-tailed it back to the funeral parlor where my grandmother, preceded my grandfather by a good five years, into the hereafter, I assumed, Sister concurred, that it was all going to be at the same place.
We bounced through the funeral home, asked about stiffs, and I don’t recall any of this, but according to Sister's version of the story, I wandered into the visitation - viewing parlor, then wandered back out, "Ain't him."
According to Sister, I asked, "Got any more bodies?"
Eventually, that evening, we sorted out where to go, and we got off to the right funeral parlor, and paid our respects. Just took two tries, and it was all sort of blackly comic, wandering around a darkened North Dallas, neither one of us very at home, looking for our next of kin to pay our respects.
The other half of the funeral story was my dear grandfather, hold it, a little history here. At some church downtown, there's a room named after him. He was a very devout man. Big into that bible study. Spent just about every Saturday night preparing a lesson for Sunday School.
All laid out in his casket, there, on his satin pillow, there was a copy of the Bible, open to its cover page. There was an inscription. From my grandmother, his wife.
She may have preceded him by five years, but guess what? She still got in the last word.

Geek stuff.

"Mom, Sister's computer is bigger than mine..."
"Don't start with me!"
"That wasn't Kramer's cradle, that was mine!"


Airport food

Mercury? Remember him? Remember what it's like to travel when Mercury is retrograde?
I looked at the bus schedules and I thought I had it timed perfectly, pick up the 5:02 PM bus outside the apartments, stop and have a cup of coffee at the Hideout, catch the airport flyer, and it was all going to be good.
Missed the 5:02 bus, which dominoes right on down the line to the point that I was back with the cab to the airport.
Even then, my usual fax itinerary didn’t muster past security, go back, stand in line, get a printed boarding pass.
In the long run, it's all good.
What's the secret?
Schlotzky's Cappuccino, Amy's Ice Cream, life is all right.


I had one of those thoroughly enjoyable evenings, sitting on the patio of a coffee shop in South Austin, ruminating over charts and thinking great thoughts. Explicating matter of the heart and soul of artists, as displayed through the symbols etched out in astrology charts.
I was only booked for two readings, but I do tend to run a little long at times, and in the humid evening's air, it just felt right. It was an added bonus for the recipients, I would hope.
Once again, the e-mail machine floored me. Left me shaking with anger, angst, and worried the cat. To be really honest, I think the cat was more distraught that I'd been gone for so long and she could see the bottom of her food dish.
Self-absorbed? Wait, wait, every writer is self-absorbed. It's the nature of the craft.
I figure I've got something to say, and at least a dozen folks have signed up, some of the subscriptions are turning over for their second month, I'm beginning to think that this might work.
It's not a plan to get rich. It's not a plan to squeeze pennies from the poor, it's not some malicious attack - I'm only hoping to make the web services pay for themselves.
Check it out. Rest of the site is free.
I've had two pissing matches in the last week about charging admission for the current weekly scopes. Up to six or eight hours go into crafting the weekly missive. That doesn't include the material I carry around in my head, either. The life experiences, the imagination, the astrological observation that are not included in a number of weighty tomes I still keep on my desktop.
2002 was the first time, in over a decade, that this site ran at a loss. A serious loss. As much as I love this work, I'm not real willing to put up with posting red ink all over the place, or sacrificing my own lifestyle, just so some folks can have free entertainment.
As one person wrote to me, "There's a ton of astrology material on the web for free."
Hey, you get what you pay for. Most of what I've seen is cleverly - or not so cleverly - disguised advertising for services. I can't do that. Or I could, but I tend not to lean in that direction.
Another e-mail that came in was about "not putting my credit card out on the net, it's not safe."
Well, as a decade-long credit card merchant, I've few problems with that. When I booked a flight for this weekend, Mother's Day and all, I just whipped out a piece of plastic and fired the number down the pipeline. No big deal. Been doing that for years. Zero problems.
Worst it's been, and I've lost two credit cards in ten years, one was left in a restaurant in El Paso, and one was actually still sitting on my desk, under a piece of paper. Old number cancelled, no problems, no theft, and the biggest problem is just me.
Fact is, when you hand your credit card to some waiter, you're in greater danger of theft than with a net transaction. Get over it.
Besides, with the PayPal set-up, it's real simple, I never see the number. All I get is an email notification that the funds have cleared, minus the service charge, runs about 10%. And seeing as how I can't run such a small charge through on my own machine, it saves wear and tear. In fact, I don't have to take any action - software takes care of all aspects of the transaction. Pick your own login; pick your own password. I never have to see it.
I had another writer, recognized the e-mail address time and again, who was using a free service I offered a few years back. Kept ordering up "planet profiles" for free. Explained later that she was using them to help generate characters for works of fiction. Always promised to buy something, but as far as I know, never did.
Numbers: over 1,000 profiles generated, promised maybe a half dozen sales, netted maybe two. No wonder it's not free anymore, I'm tired of giving everything away for nothing.
Wait, wait, maybe that does make me self-absorbed.
Looks like there's about a dozen or more sites listed off to the left. I suppose they're all self-absorbed, too.
And I never got around to making the point I set out to make, when I looked this over: I wonder what it's like to just read you're own sign? Is that pretty self-absorbed, too?

hot e-mail

Round a-bout, 5/8/03 6:17 PM, ya'll "Lisa Berube" said:

> Why don't you fuck off!! You self-absorbed asshole.


> Signed A Disgusted Gemini
I just love that Gemini way with words.
Some days you win, some days you lose.

Some days are less successful than others.
One link from yesterday was to a rather cool site about Mithras, and how it was one of the largest pre-Xtian cults. Religions, actually. Deal is, I was pushing my dear old dad around a museum in London, and he spotted a cornice - piece, in the Museum of London, that had the astrological wheel depicted in symbols that are understandable, even to this day.
It was a - fairly recently - uncovered temple for that religion, from Roman London. About 2k years old, if I recall correctly.
Anyway, that story is also buried in the archives some place.
The wheelchair note was important because it put his eyes a little lower level, I would've missed the piece. And the current link, what I linked to originally, and what popped up in yesterday's entry, it differed. Pointers weren't pointing. Defaults were defaulting.
Tim (Capricorn) threw me a link, and that had a strange effect in that as I was cutting across the parking lot of the apartments, a tenant, "Hey, Kramer, Tim linked to you..."
More weirdness.
A little later, I was sitting at the computer at the other office, and the radio was going. I did a very quick, 30 second entry, and I was trying to wrap three songs from the radio into an entry. Failed pretty well, but it was a fun try, for a spur of the moment entry.
Yeah, I know I'm not supposed to post from work, but I was wrestling with a heavily formatted Word doc, and I was humming along, marveling at what the early version of REK's material sounded like, and I tried to type something cute. In order to assuage my almost guilty conscience for doing something personal on their company's time, I did remind myself that I slid into work almost an hour early.
Which, I did, because, Mercury is still backwards, and I had to go to teach a class last night.
Mercury and planet eclipses were the topic. Plus the upcoming series along the latent Scorpio - Taurus axis. And don't forget, Mr. Mercury is backwards yet.
Nothing but near -misses, and flops for the day. The high point, and I'm not sure it really rates, but there's a taco place in North Austin, in one of the oldest shopping centers in the area, and they had these home-made corn tortillas that were simply astounding.

My gods gave birth to your god

Why I've always stylized myself as a solo pagan. Which is why I'm so fond of what I call "Meso - American - Catholicism."
Used to be, when I lived over on the East Side, there was a certain grocery store I frequented. I didn't buy a lot of groceries there, but they had the most fabulous collection of candles, a saint for just about everything. Including a little sprinkling of Caribbean flavors. Something for everyone. A junior deity for just about every task.
"No, don't bother the Big Guy, just invoke one the more appropriate fellers...."
So anyway, this has nothing to do with a Virgo day, which it was. Days actually have flavors. I looked, Moon was Cancer, Venus, headed to Taurus, Mercury RX in Taurus.
But wandering through downtown Austin, it was Virgo barista, a Virgo phone call, then, in passing, a Virgo driving a truck. I whistled, she waved.
Mr. "don't call me dude, dude" Gemini drops by for BBQ. We meander around the countryside, into a Rudy's, and sitting at one of the tables, there's a Virgo bookseller, a gentleman of some good repute. I chatted with him briefly, lamenting the loss of his retail establishment, as I found his literary advice and recommendations always on the mark.
The gods were smiling, in one of those oblique, Virgo ways. Made no sense, but then, in matters of tastes and politics, lots of times nothing makes any sense.


I had to call and get some clarity on this one, buddy of mine rang me up Sunday morning, "Hey. When's Mercury out of retrograde?"
"May 21st, why?"
"Nothing." (garbled background noise, conversations with the most important significant other)
So I buzzed him the next day, "What was that all about?"
"Nothing. I mean, I just told her I wasn't going to answer her question until May 21st."
Isn't astrology an excellent tool for interpersonal relationship development?
Cinco de Gringo

I know I've used it before, but that was a few years ago, so I don't guess it's a problem to try and recycle the expression.
Fish feel pain?
I know I missed some big as can be celebration, I'm sure. I made a desperate attempt to link to The Fat Guy's web entry about Cinco de Mayo, but I was hustling out the door and never got all the bits to talk to the bytes.
Next on the "Mercury is still ass backwards" reading list turned out to be William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive. In addition to my pristine ,first edition hardcover, I think I read it once, copy of the book, I've also got a rare galley print. Basically, a rough draft of the book itself, inclusing a few typographical mistakes.
What's so cool, is I can remember where I was, some featureless airport, while I was roady that summer, "audio technician" is the current expression, and I can remember reading that book in the Chicago-Indianapolis-DFW-wherever airport. I seem to reccall St, Louis and Boston at some time, but not much else. Too much time on the road that year, did an East Coast - West Coast shuffle.
Which is why a library seems important to me. Sometimes, it's the books. Sometimes, it's the memories associated with the books.
I don't remeber being as impressed with Count Zero the first time. Back-to-back with its predecessor, though, I found it a much better read. I do recall an aged interview with Gibson, talking about the flow chart he used to keep track of the plot lines. Yeah, that good.
I'll see with Mona Lisa Overdrive, as I feel asleep with it and the cat. Been busy around here, reading charts.


I was reviewing my notes from the weekend, the various list items I scribbled down and wanted to do something with. Mostly just have two, rather unrelated items. One involves a feller who I nicknamed "bubba" and the other involves the Journal Con committee. Very disjointed, and very unrelated topics.
1> I think it was Saturday. Bubba was making time with a Virgo, as is his wanton ways. He was admiring the fine artwork she had tattooed, "sleeves" and so forth. To me, she looked like a mere whisp of a female, "Yeah, I'll be bouncing tonight at an art gallery."
Without missing a beat, he asks which gallery.
Bouncer. Art gallery. Does anyone see this as weird?
"Yeah, I've seen her work before, she's mean."
2> "Yeah, Kramer, we've got the perfect panel for you to host. Only, I'm not telling you what its title is." That's what the Pisces said.
"Yeah, Kramer, it's got your name all over it," another Pisces informed me, "and I'm the secretary, in my notes. Your name. All over it."

Count Zero

Count Zero by William Gibson is the second book in his Neuromancer trilogy. After finishing Neuromancer as a Mercury Retrograde Reread, I hopped right into Count Zero.
I can't locate the exact place, but it was in the author's notes somewhere, either online, or in the back of the books, that he mentions that his first "treatment" for a proposal - the idea that eventually turned into Neuromancer, those first 40 pages were the beginning of the second book, Count Zero.
I'm also thinking, may be me, but in some respects, Count Zero is actually a tighter text than its older sibling.
I was wondering if I'd ever actually read this copy, the book that was sitting on my shelf. Must've, though, as there's an underlined passage about halfway through it, some reference to an allusion to something I don't recall.
Then, the topic veers. Hold onto the handrails. See: it's about killing common garden pests, advice, I thought, about killing armadillos:
>> Usually have to hit them in the head, and I'm not sure but they might have

>> second brain in their tail, more like an autonomous motor system.


> No, sugar, you've got your mammals mixed up. That's men...and I've never heard

> it called a tail before.
The web writer's weekend coffee group was a little subdued, as apparrently a number of folks were worrying through details.
I was not in a band. I was never in a band. And the name they came up with sounded like a 90's name, not hair metal from the 80's.
in response to your question:

It started as a question in an email, and once I got to ripping along, the missive took on its own life, and started to become an entry here....
Round a-bout, 4/30/03 11:51 PM, ya'll said:
> My main point, if you're going to read someone's diary, forget what you read

> and move on, don't you think? Especially since I totally viewed this entry as

> a goofy, make a story type entry. But he has taken it to heart. Maybe I

> should just close down my diary.
Pass it along if you like:
I stumbled across your sister's online diary, lord, I don't remember when. It was frank and refreshing in a weird way, like it was normal. Everyone else online is so caught up in being hip, too cool for school, or whatever.
I learned, a long time ago, that anything written, is written for publication.
2nd grade, I had a poem published. Caught me off guard. I mean, it wasn't much [did involves stars, though>, and I had some drawings of flowers published, too. But it was just for fun, trying to impress the teacher. Or something.
At the tail end of my "angry young man phase" [post adolescent trauma>, I had one of my journals discovered. Again, bad call, but the message was clear, anything written is written for publication. "Those are my private papers!"
A few years later, I stopped by to see some friends who lived in an "animal house" in Sherman, TX, and a handwritten letter from me was up on their icebox. Just weird , you know?
Eventually, I got serious about an English degree after getting close to 30 - the first time. I turn 30 every year, now. During that time, I worked for the school's paper. One of my movie reviews was clipped and used in a tech writing class, as an example - it was a review of, oddly enough, a cowboy movie, and the line was something about "long, ropey strings of bull snot" - slow motion action of a bull ride.
A couple of years ago, while I was in England, I had my girlfriend-de-jour staying at my place, taking care of the cat. I showed her how to use email. She also found my 'not-online' journal. Bad news. I'd written about how sex, one night, hadn't been particularly enthusiastic. I caught a boatload of crap for that comment. Not to mention the other ramifications of her discovery.
Now, of course, I also felt violated because, after all, some of the material was private and intended only for myself. But it wasn't password protected, and there it was, in print, on the computer. Not even artfully concealed.
But if it's committed to print, or published, then it's fair game. I can't remember the author, one of the dead white guys, oh, here it is:
"If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate. The 'Ode to a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of little old ladies."
Bill Faulkner, in an interview in 1955. Damn, quote's older than me.
I get carried away, reading certain works of fiction, because, in my mind, I can see something really happening. Now, as a writer who has direct line to his readers, I get - ask about the Medieval French Quote sometime - an almost instantaneous response.
Not long ago, I spun up a metaphor about a paper shredder. Two days after the scopes posted, one of my fishing buddies calls to ask "How did I know that he'd moved the paper shredder out of the garage into the [home> office?"
I feel your pain at having your work "discovered," and I really do understand when someone takes it altogether in a wrong light.
Funniest thing about my canon of work? My deepest, darkest secret? I write to amuse myself. I don't do it for anyone else. Some of the links don't make sense to some people. Doesn't bother me a bit. The links, the metaphors, they make me smile. But when I'm working, actually typing these stories, I'm serious. Really, really serious.
I discovered, almost ten years ago, that I was very earnest and serious about what I was doing, but sometimes, readers found meaning where I didn't intentionally put it. Better yet, when I'm being serious, or think that I'm being serious, some folks find it downright amusing. Funny, even. My pain, their gain.
Writing, the act of creation, is done without thought. Anytime I let my brain interfere with what the muse is dictating, I get in trouble. I get this terrible frown when I work. I'm busy, tediously running nouns into verbs, trying to push a point in one direction, then looking and realizing that it's late, and I've gone on too long.
In this week's Pisces scope, there's a story about a nail in tire. Sure as can be, I'll hear from at least one Pisces person who has a flat tire. Wow. The point had nothing to do with flat tires, had to do with allocating resources, financial and otherwise.
Your diary entry was one about how you felt. "Feelings" cannot be disputed. Old rhetoric trick, preface an argumentative comment with, "I feel...." Rebuttals are a lot more difficult.
Now, back to the Pisces with the flat tire - I thought it was about allocating resources and maybe watching spending. Your tale was about how you felt about something. To that end, I have a long list of disclaimers, just to make sure that people know that no Red Headed Capricorns were harmed in the creation of this document.
I had a guy write in yesterday, warning me that my Capricorn comment might hurt my friend's feelings. Hardly. If you know her like I do, you'd realize that she will laugh. Shoot, she keeps a stash of those things in my medicine cabinet. Heck, she's the one who explained the difference between what was already there [normal> and what she liked [heavy duty>.
But I'll bet I catch some ire from more than one reader who finds my humor distasteful.
And that's the way it goes. I figure, if I'm not causing a little irritation for some people, then I'm not doing my job right.
I've been misquoted on this recently, but being the studious academic that I am, I'll give it the proper citation. I've read one book by Stephen King. It was book about writing. He wrote, "I write because I can't not write." (At least, that's the way I remember it. And it's way too late at night to look it up now.)
Works for me.
Kramer Wetzel, Texas Shakespeare Massacre
O theft most base,

That we have stol'n what we fear to keep!

Troilus in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida (II.ii.92-3)

Mercury, Metro & More...

There's always got to be one, cute Mercury story. Being an astute student of astrology, and being aware of the current planetary dispositions, I carefully logged onto the CapMetro site and purchased my monthly pass, long before Mr. Mercury turned around in his apparent trajectory.
I didn't realize that I hadn't received the pass, conveniently mailed to me, until May 1.
Dig out the old email confirmation, fire off a note, and then, I realized that there was something else I needed to add to the note...
"Look, as a regular follower of the stars' and their paths, well, planets, mostly, I'm aware that Mercury, who rules communication, is in apparent retrograde motion, looks like he's going backwards compared to the rest of the planets' more orderly direction, and as such, it's no big deal. Don't sweat it, it's just a ruse of the planet's."
I had one weird as could be Friday afternoon. But I was also prepared. I was dressed in shorts that double as swimming togs, and I purposely left the bulk of pocket digital [battery operated> stuff behind just so I could hit the creek on the way home.
My cell started ringing in the afternoon, and I inundated with calls. By the time six rolled around, I was standing at the bus stop, arranging for work at an event, and what wound up, as I was wandering down Barton Springs Road, I made a half - dozen calls, and they all started out with, "hey baby, I've missed you so..."
In my tired voice, none of the females I was reaching cared. Friday afternoon, it's unseasonably humid, not too warm, but torpid in a way usually reserved for later in the season.
I did arrange reading, well-paid party event, I did book a friend's wife in for some extra work, I did all of this, and smirking to myself, thinking, "Boy howdy, ain't you just a womanizer?" Which would be true until you stop and realize that there was no real romantic interest with any of the females I was talking with. All business.
At least it sounded good.
Cool dip in the pool, and some fine-as-could be rajas, poblano strips and cheese enchiladas for dinner.
I think one of the last calls was the funniest, as it involved food, and a Pisces that was inadvertently strapped for cash, so I offered to buy, and a Sagittarius.
"Yeah. Dinner. It'll be a like a ménage-a-trois."
She repeated the comment, and in the background, a loud "Eewww!"
At least it sounded good.

Man, I so wanted to save this for a scope.

The backdrop of the stage at Steamboat was purple, with white spots overhead and red cans pointing upwards from behind the amps.
I'd gotten an e-mail, a few days ago, altering me to the fact that they were playing at Steamboat, and it being just down the road, I figured it was a good destination. There's jus something that's so earthy and real about a guitar player, on stage, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, grinning, bald patch on the back of his head, just having a good time.
I left, right after, I think, their last song, and headed west into the night, homeward bound.
Thursday being the first and all, I put in a few extra hours tallying up rent checks, and even as I was headed to the bus stop, checks were still flying in. I am so not cut out for a desk job.
I hopped off downtown, planning on hitting the bank and the post office, then maybe going by one of the independent coffee shops for a pick-me-up, angling towards Sandy's for a Thursday night special before hitting Steamboat. As I was just aimlessly wandering around downtown, a Virgo appeared out of nowhere, chatting on her phone, smoking a cigarette. She was smoking the cigarette, not the phone. I mean, the Virgo was smoking, not the phone.
"Kramer! Darling! I haven't seen you since New Years' Eve!"
Technically, it was already January 1, but who's counting, right?
"You have to come down and meet the girls!"
Sure. Down some steps into the courtyard bar - that'll give it away as to where I was - and I had the most engaging proposition, "See, we'll have a girl's slumber party, and you can come over and do readings. When you're done, you'll be the only guy, after the readings, you know, we oil up and have a pillow fight. Then you'll have to help us wash all the feathers off...."
Sure thing. I'm not one to generalize about a particular sign, but you know, it was two Virgo girls discussing the idea. I think they were doing for the shock value.
I motored off into the overcast evening, news about tornados buzzing elsewhere. Looked like rain, but didn't small like rain, so I wasn't holding out for a good frog-strangler.
The sky never gave it up for a good sunset, so I was longing for one, while my buddies stepped up on stage. I rather enjoy being on the guest list. The full evening's entertainment cost me less than $2, just a little double espresso.

Mayday, in three part harmony

Part Uno: There was a quip at the tail end of this week's Capricorn scope, and an alert (male) reader finally explained it to me, thusly:
>> I still don't know what those cylindrical paper and cotton items were,

>> either, I found them under the seat of her car.


> Dude, was there a string attached to them?

> You're supposed to dip them in water, twirl 'em real fast and release -

> they'll stick to ANYTHING they hit. Great fun!
Don't think I'll be tryting this activity anytime too soon, though.
Part Dos: Planets in trouble.

One of my favotire texts, one book that I still keep on my desk, even though I rarely use it any more, is Hand's Planets in Transit.
I was in a meditative state, wondering about the course of the world, and whether I could hit the creek for a swim this afternoon, when that book crossed my mind. Then a new title came along, Planets in Trouble, or When Planets Go Bad and tie it all to retrograde woes.
Or tie it to planets who hang out in seedy joints, smoking too many cigarettes and looking rough, breaking hearts. Probably, all though not definitively, guitar slingers.
Part the Three-0: New Moon in Taurus. Excellent espresso on the way home. Just really, really good. Perfect? Maybe, done by a Virgo. No bitterness.
And while we're on the subject of Taurus, one stopped by, "Man, I wish you'd never showed me astrofish.net, you know, I'm hooked on the kitty cam."
Same birthday as Shakespeare, which I don't touch, because, after all, the records from the fifteenth century in England are, at best a little sketchy.
Wayne Hancock

Saw Wayne "the train" Hancock on Saturday night. The crowd was a mix, but under the clear Austin sky, out on the lawn at Threadgill's South, it was just about perfect. Stand up bass, two guitars, just about as good as it gets.
I've missed his show several times, but this one is worth catching. Funny guy. Excellent, clear and explicit lyrics - the way it's supposed to be.
According to his banter, maybe a little too explicit. Still good.

Summer nights

I was wrung out and exhausted, emotionally, physically, intellectually, from hard day of trying to rent apartments. The good news is I'm shifting my hours, the bad news, is that the economy in Austin is in the proverbial toilet.
Try explaining that there are more apartments in Austin than there are tenants. Just one thing after another, the way it goes.
I was riding the bus, and looking at gray clouds overhead, the sun poked through, late in the afternoon, there were new flowers in the flowerbeds, but not really enough to cheer things up.
Server was down when I got up Tuesday morning, and when I last checked, it was running by noon, but only barely. The tech board had a notice about a 'Denial of Service' attack. Just my luck. I don't guess the engineers wanted to hear about Mercury being Retrograde.
I crawled to the bus stop, crawled onto a bus, and finally got off in front of Bouldin Creek Coffee House. I had my mind set on a plate of greens and cornbread, comfort food. I got slacker plate, instead, at the behest of the Gemini barista, and I was equally impressed. Beans, rice, peppers, and other stuff. Cheap and plentiful, all vegan.
Suitably fortified, I ambled back to Shady Acres, and opened up the doors and windows to let the cool spring time air sift through. On my patio, I've got some kind of plant flowering right now. Confederate Jasmine? I don't know, something like that.
The breeze brought in a whiff of the perfume from the flowers, the vegetable plate settling in my stomach, and suddenly the troubles of the world seem to settle away.
I took a couple of calls while I was at the coffee bar, Bubba Sean [Gemini> inquiring about dining options in Hillsboro. Can't say, other than I tend to shy away from the truck stops ever since that one, unfortunate event. Not all truck stops, just the ones in and around Hillsboro. Ask Saint Willie about Hillsboro, too.

New toys.

Apple's news is kind of cool, if you ask me. Interesting business model - 99 cents per song, I'm just wondering what the backend of the transaction looks like.
The term I'm beginning to really, really loathe: business model.
Ugly expression.
Using PayPal, the subscriptions around here are running right at a tad over 10% for the overhead. In other words, I'm losing a little less than 12% for every transaction, netting a little over $2.50 per individual, per month.
Which brings up an even more interesting point, about demographics. For years, I was assured that 80% of the readers of astrology sites were: female, between 18 and 36 years of age, and single, divorced once, with 1.25 offspring.
From the names that appear in the notification email of a subscription payment, though, it really looks like to me that the numbers are a lot more evenly split. Looks like it's closer to 55/45 female to male.
But that's just judging by the names that appear on the registration forms. Doesn't mean it's accurate. I've already blown this once - this year. I'm not about to jump to conclusions.
The backend tech, the way the credit card is processed, and the fees associated with that card transaction, for Apple's jukebox, is what has me wondering.
I wouldn't even think about doing that here, even the thought of trying to put a transaction through at $2.95 was prohibitively costly.
But their model and ideas are pretty darn cute.
When I rip a CD, it's one that I actually own. I'm either mixing up the music for a road CD, or I'm doing a compilation for my own pleasure. Road CD's are different, like, I don't want to travel with originals, even though CD's are pretty durable, in the event to CD wallet gets stolen or misplaced. Doesn't matter, it's just a copy.
For certain West Texas drives, I don't want to carry the whole boxed set of a certain 4-opera set, just a copy of the third opera in that cycle is sufficient. Since I would be devastated, not mention financially inconvenienced, to lose that set, just burning up a copy is a good idea.
Apple's been cooking along with this idea for while. I'm wondering, being announced under Mercury RX, if it takes while for it to get ramped up to speed. From the first blush, though, I'd guess it was good.
What I'm interested in next is the industry backlash. Or support.
I'm not buying any music right now, not just yet. But I'm sure I will when sunnier economic times ensue. Or Mercury isn't RX.
It's back to that "dharma" thing. I have a little built-in "moral compass" that suggests, like with software, if I use it to earn an income, I should own a duly purchased and registered copy of the software. Same for music. Some artist I like? I'll buy the band's CD's. Afterwards, I may rip some - or all - of that music onto a portable, disposable CD. But I did purchase the software/CD the first time around. It's legal. More important to me, it's all straight on that big ledger in the sky.
The way it should be.

Woke up and looked at the inbox, stuffed full of junk mail. Not much in the way of news I could use. Thought about a horrendous amount of editing I wanted to do, and decided that Mercury was RX. Ambled off to work at the other job.
Ran up and down three flights of stairs, several times. See, I've got this theory about package delivery. The usual guy who wears the brown uniform, Taurus, me and him, we have a deal, and it's part of the job. If a tenant isn't home, I sign for the package then go up and deliver it later. So, to expedite the matter, when that brown truck pulls in, if I'm not overwhelmed, I'll just go up to the door of the apartment with the guy. We talk about important things, like he doesn't have a girlfriend right now. Saw he was making time with the Leo down the street. Typical guy talk.
So the theory is, if the tenant isn't home, I won't be available to run up the stairs, and one of us will have to make two trips. But if I go with the guy, then the tenant will be home, and there's two of us, standing at the door, grinning.
The obvious question, and I've encountered this with one of the maintenance contractors, is why does the stuff on the top floor break when it's hot out? Pouring rain? Sure, ground floor. Cold weather? Second floor. Hot weather? Always the third.
Folks who live on the third floor are more apt to purchase something that gets delivered in the afternoon when I'm there. I haven't got a handle on that yet. Always the third.
I did amble by the springs, and I did go for a swim. About halfway through my lap, though, I realized I was fatigued. Given the news about Barton Springs and pollution, though, I certainly didn't want to walk to the shore, after all, that gravel and muck along the bottom is where all the pollution is concentrated.
My shorts were still damp while me and that Pisces had Zen, Amy's and conversation. Just right. I figure the funniest moment, for me, proof that Mercury was retrograde, I pulled out my pocketknife, and I was showing it to her, as her husband makes and collects knives, and I couldn't recall the brand name. Nor could I see the name - but I know it's made in Matador [TX>. Close to Lubbock. Or Amarillo. One of those towns.

My favorite Sagittarius

It started Friday night, and if I was really as good as I thought I was, I should've been able to discern the symbolism.
It was at the happy hour gathering for the journal writers and assorted folks. Or sordid folks and their ilk, depending on how one addressed the motley crew.
There was one Sagittarius girl there, then three or four, and the first one - since I can remember more than just her name - her URL - asked if I was her favorite Sagittarius
"Of course you are, unless Amy gets here."
Since Amy never showed up, Rachel was my favorite Sagittarius.
Now, Sunday's brunch, at that sweet Pisces humble and lovely abode with the construction in the back yard....
I didn’t count, but there were a lot of Sagittarius girls there. Tons of them. Plus a couple of Aries, and a pair of Pisces. But mostly they were Sagittarius. Even better, most them were early degree Sagittarius. Odd how that all works. Us November Sagittarius folks all hanging together. Makes life easy, right? Right. I think there were six or eight, throughout the day.
Astrological analysis? Sure, Saturn is done opposing us, and Pluto is done frying us, and Uranus is about to tickle us, as well as Jupiter - in Leo - making a welcome and pleasant aspect to us. Life is good.
I was just disturbed that they were obviously having much more fun in the estrogen enriched living room, talking about whatever it was they were talking about, than I was having in the reading room.
Smashing success, either way.
The cat, however, was nonplused.

Media conflict

Most of my friends were all headed over to Eeyore's Birthday.
But what else was there to do? In my hood, there was the "jumping off the ramp into the lake" contest and event. Then there was, right next to it, an Austin Parks and Recreation event. Plus there were some Dragon Boat races of one sort or another, just downstream
Me? I wandered through the "foolish folks making fools of themselves while jumping into the lake" thing. Wandered through the grounds, usual festival set-up stuff. No big thing. Not to me. Then I strolled back over to Barton Spring for the first dip of the year. Cold water. Should've been there last weekend, but I was busy.
I stopped one place and bought a bottle of Mexican mineral water, stopped at another and grabbed a 44 oz. diet coke, and trudged back home.
There were close to 30,000 folks down for the big splash event, my estimate. While I was wandering amongst them, I kept thinking about how this was nothing more than a media circus, orchestrated by the media, arranged by some company to promote the product. I mean, I'm sure the contestants had a good time, but the goal was to fly, and the results were inevitably a splash into the lake, resulting in the destruction of the flying apparatus.
I watched two different groups sail off the end of the ramp and splash into the water. After that, I was bored.
Best looking team effort? Something about "pigs can fly," I think from Mesquite [TX>,

And the whole team was dressed, head to toe, in pink.
Personally, I've never found a way to wear pink and be manly. Could be me, though.

From the joke list:

From the unofficial joke list. It was sent in by a Sensitive, New Age Guy.
Friday Happy Hour & Sex

Charlie and me eased out of the door at the 1920s club, just as a bevy of beautiful and desirable ladies were starting to get cozy. On the couch. Together.
Or maybe just get crazy.
School night for me, or so it felt like. The meandering walk home was so completely different from the previous two hours. Philosophical. Not charged with sexual innuendo.
Somebody was bragging about how she deflowered a virgin. Which got me thinking, I've never really explicated my version of the virgin experience.
It was many years ago, in land far away....
Scratch that, let's go for more realistic Texas feel, "Ya'll ain't gonna believe this...."
When I was running a rather seedy and (at the time) cutting edge nightclub in Dallas, way back when, between wives, I had a girlfriend or two.
Okay, so I never really did live up to my reputation as a Romeo, unless you count the classical interpretation of that, as a failed lover.
It's just that I had this scene play out twice. Me, her, on the couch, sliding down to the floor. Heavy kissing, you know the rest. I start to unbutton her blouse, and she whispers, "I'm a virgin."
I start buttoning up her blouse again, "So let's watch some TV."
True story.
Science, Saturn, and Gemini

This was a bizarre news footnote for the day.
With Saturn in the Sign of Gemini, telecommunications and air travel have floundered, mostly.
In another couple of months, Saturn leaves Gemini for another 27 years, or until 2030.
Into Cancer for a few years. Sample predictions?
Real Estate, a Cancer, 4th House attribute. That's where the trouble will be.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Neuromancer by William Gibson. Started the "cypberpunk" revolution, or, at least the novel is credited with starting it.
I quit, almost a week ago, trying to do anything truly productive because of the slow movement of Mercury. And it's not even officially retorgrade, well, not yet.
One of the purposes of having a wall of books, though, at least, the way I see it, is that I've got novels, works of fiction, prose, poetry, old texts, some trash, a few paperback books, textual contexts that I can refer back to, from time to time.
Like when Mercury is messing with everyone's head.
Instead of starting a new book, I just shuffle through and pick up something I've read before, and I get to relive that attachment.
It's still a quick read, and it still works, and it does introduce some ideas that are popular, even these days. Too bad we don't have all the technology just yet. And the copyright suggests that the novel is now almost 20 years old.
Literary History, it was cyberpunk, and that was an offshoot of "new wave," bleak future histories written in the 1960s. Plus, although highly dependent on computers, the novel was actually written on a manual typewriter - according to myth - and the author's afterword, in my copy.
Weird what a quick web search turns up, even right here in Austin.
But plot, action, characters, all of that goes by the wayside. I did hit on one line that resonated, but I recall that line hitting home, even when I read it the first time. A little foreshadowing. This time, it seemed like it was almost artificial. Could I come up with a better way of saying it? Hardly.
First novels tend to be little more raw, and little more energetic than later works. Maybe not quote as polished, but it's impressive, and the book does stand up well to rereading.
But most of all, I remember reading it that first time, excitement and awe, thinking I alone had stumbled into some author's imagination and tapped into something new and exciting. That may be a folly of youth. But it doesn't mean that it's not a good book.

The beginning of this cycle's Mercury Tales

Being a dutiful son, not quite dutiful enough to scoot up to Dallas for Easter, and forgo the dubious pleasure of volunteering at the weekend event [conscription or press-ganged might be a better term>, I did call.
Long chat with Ma Wetzel's Scorpio self, and mulled over many matters of some importance. Health, welfare and so forth. I try to neglect her deplorable voting record as that just sets up unnecessary tension.
She's off, by now, to London, to go do what ever it is that she does over yonder. Pa Wetzel will be joining her soon enough.
I mentioned that I'd lost my copy of Pepys Diary, and she promised she would help further my education by picking up a copy for me, a real English copy as opposed to the annotated and relatively cheap American copy I've got. English book-binding always impresses me. Just feels more sturdy.
But since Mercury is stopped at 20 degrees of Taurus, as of now, I was digging through a backpack that I use from time to time. Mostly for laundry items that go the cleaners, or supplies for the office, like chocolate. A good fisherman always has the right bait on hand.
I hoisted it and wondered why it felt a little heavier than usual, I thought it only had one shirt in. In the outside pocket of the pack? My dog-eared copy of Pepys Diary.
Isn't Mercury wonderful about dragging up lost items?

Letters to politicians

That's what I started with, but my caustic, satirical streak took over, and I'm not sure I really want to fire off one of the letters. What's more amusing - to me - is that one of the city council personages lives in a neighborhood with those very same expensive "traffic calming" measures in effect.
Then there's another question, and I couldn't help myself, but I had to wonder if "minority" children only counted as a percentage instead of whole fatalities because, after all, the "minorities" only dealt with by fractions.
Fun numbers to deal with: Austin will probably be 60% Hispanic in another ten years. The current Mayor's name? Gus Garcia.
More inbox fun:
> One of my favorite stories that I still tell is that the FIRST words you

> spoke to me personally was (after rummaging through my chart at that

> bookstore I was meeting you in) "Don't date Sag's."

> "But you're a Sag."

> "Yes. Let's go eat."
Then there's the fedback from the subscription ploy, one of the early adopters before I ironed out the kinks:
> Please do not feel bad or feel that you have to make it up because of the

> slight delay. I've been visiting your site weekly for the past 2-3 years and

> I just want to say that you've already given me many gifts. Your insights,

> to this day, continue to help me when times get hard and/or confusing. Thank

> you.
Or this one:
> Heck with all the flamers (though I'm still dying to read some of those) --

> Thursdays, to me, are even MORE special now. $2.95 for that feeling is like

> paying a nickel for an ice cold coke on a late August afternoon in Texas.
While it's not official yet, as far as I'm concerned, Mercury is stationary enough to make most of folks miserable. I'm not buying into it. But then, I am a professional, and I'm not about to let Mercury's predictable course ruin anything I've got planned.

Two things.

Two, rather unrelated events occurred that I figured were worth writing about. One was from an afternoon observation point, and second was the evening "entertainment."
Late Tuesday afternoon, I was high atop the third floor of one of the apartments, and I was keeping an eye on a resident. Young girl, student, does something with neighborhood kids, I'm not sure what. I think she's getting a teaching degree. Her boyfriend is a rocket scientist - he has an excellent birthday (casual memory from his application). While it's not exactly required, I tend to lump tenants together under their stated degree plans. I was worried because the side street the resident had turned down has a bad reputation. As another tenant once told me - recently - "You don't go down there unless you want drugs."
So while I was looking at a refrigerator that wasn't getting cold, I kept looking out, to see if that other resident emerged. She did. She had three small girls in tow, one was wearing a little pink backpack, another in pigtails.
I'm rotten at ages. Those three children were between three and ten years old. Don't ask me, I was on the third floor.
The girl started to herd her minions across the street, come on, work with me here, it's only a two lane street with a center turn lane, and the two traffic lanes. One of the little girls darted out from under the protective cover of the big girl, and ran halfway into the traffic lane, looked up, saw a car, and darted back under the protective wing of the big girl.
Tragedy was averted. No screeching of tires, that time, we were all lucky that there was an alert driver. I think there was the tinkle of laughter, but I'm not sure.
I hung around the office and spent some time, just milling around outside, trying to collect the fifty cents one tenant owes me for bus fare. Actually, I think that fifty cents was an investment because, until paid in full, I can hound mercilessly about the missing monies. I don't lend money that I intend to see ever again.
My Pisces friend picked me up because I was supposed to be her designated escort for some cop shop event. Turns out it was a big, formal deal, and there I was, in shorts and sandals, wearing a T-shirt that had a 12th Night quote on it, I think from Malvolio, some comment about drinking.
Yeah, well, there's always one, and I was the one last night. I'm just wondering, after listening to all the good deeds that are done by the police, just how hard is it to get a friggin' stop sign to make a neighborhood safe?
Actually, the local police rep has been extremely helpful. The paperwork he provided suggested that there needed to be "7 fatalities" at an intersection before a study could be done to see if a stop sign was necessary. And for the last few weeks, there have been increased patrols in the neighborhood.
I wonder if small children are counted as whole fatalities, or just given a decimal percentage?
What makes this worse, it's considered a "disadvantaged" neighborhood. Right, two blocks from The University. Now, in the more upscale neighborhoods, there are all sorts of "traffic calming" effects in place. Little gardens, paid for by the city. But can we get a single stop sign?
I am so not destined for politics.

Spring time nights

The evenings are redolent with the fragrant lavender, now blooming.
While associated with purple, I keep finding little flowers that seem to have a maroon color inside. Apparently, blooming with lots of other plants. Most of the folks at the festival on Sunday were complaining of allergies. I wasn't. I was doing okay.

So much for the good stuff. I loped by Magnolia for some dinner [Capricorn & Capricorn>, and then wound my way back down to the new Amy's, Aries server, Pisces friend, and from thence, onward home.
Impacted sinuses, too. What missed me on Sunday caught up on Monday. Yet, with some good leg-stretching, I could still make out that lavender.
It's just too nice to bottle this place up and breathe rarified, refined air. The evening air, drifting through is soft, soothing.

changing face of news

I've had this happen to me, I'll work on a metaphor, handcrafted and honed in a South Austin trailer park, and I'll post it in a horoscope. A reader will respond to some element that I didn't intentionally insert. It's the nature of art. It's part of letting the muse doing to the typing.
Islands in the Net. By Bruce Sterling. Before a reader gets too far into the book, realize this, the book's copyright is 1988. Certain aspects of the novel haven't aged well. Yet there's a thematic element running the course of the novel that, oddly enough, belongs in our current universe.
I finally finished reading Pattern Recognition the other evening. It was every bit as good as I expected. There's a problem, though, and I'm not sure how >Pattern Recognition will age. Too many topical references to current technology.
Plus I have one serious nit to pick. Imagine a hotmail account that works all the time, without a flaw, plus never - according to the plot - receives any spam.
From a language and style point of view, >Pattern Recognition is quite good. However, at the resolution of the novel, the denoument, I would tend to regard it a little as a fairy tale.
Yet, there are elements, though-provoking side-bars and pieces of the puzzle, that all have meaning especially for anyone writing online these days. Worth the read, if nothing else, from the sheer pleasure of the prose itself.
One link I stumbled across in the online world included a brief note that the author of the page was working his way through >Pattern Recognition slowly because he didn't want it to end. The prose was that tasty. I would agree. Another link from that late night surf session included a story from Asia Times, that the online branch of newspapers are starting to generate profit whereas the regular, old newspapers are slowly sinking.
After spending a weekend at an outdoor festival, though, I realized that a number of folks aren't wired, nor are they going to be wired anytime soon.
I don't know if books will be replaced, but the newsprint media is slowly sinking.
I get 90% or better of my news online. The local press ingnores me, so I ingnore them. Arab and Russian news sources, plus BBC Online are lot more interesting, if not always factual, at least it's news from a different point of view.
There's a point though, two lines, as newspapers die off, and online media starts emerge, plus there's the individual reporting, first-hand accounts, persoanl opinions and so forth. That adds a third line. Papers go down, online goes up, and someplace in the middle, there's the individual.
I don't know. But >Pattern Recognition made me think about this. I also figure Islands in the Net might prove to be better over time, if taken with a proper grain of salt. In its case, plus, I'm sure, in the future, Pattern Recognition, both will offer a look at the world we currently live in plus, a little slice of how we saw our future unfolding, back then. Now.

Hippies, part two.

I just couldn't face myself, although, the cat found me oddly alluring, and I jumped a quick shower before sallying forth unto the second day of mud and music.
Title: Life Of King Henry The Fifth, The

Act III. Scene I. France. Before Harfleur.

Alarums. Enter King Henry, Exeter, Bedford, Gloucester, and Soldiers, with scaling-ladders.
K. Hen. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:

But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger;

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,

Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;

Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;

Let it pry through the portage of the head

Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it

As fearfully as doth a galled rock

O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,

Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.

Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,

Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit

To his full height! On, on you noblest English!

Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof;

Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,

Have in these parts from morn till even fought,

And sheath'd their swords for lack of argument.

Dishonour not your mothers; now attest

That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.

Be copy now to men of grosser blood,

And teach them how to war. And you, good yeomen,

Whose limbs were made in England, show us here

The mettle of your pasture; let us swear

That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;

For there is none of you so mean and base

That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,

Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:

Follow your spirit; and upon this charge

Cry 'God for Harry! England and Saint George!'

[Exeunt. Alarum, and chambers go off.>
I'm beat and it's late. The ATM machine is over there, we don't sell any T-shirts - these are for the staff, and you can't take any beer out of the festival grounds.
If I dream about this stuff, then I'm going to be seriously irritated. I'm sure good fun was had by all, I wouldn't know.
Before I left Shady Acres, I kept thinking about that quote, and looked it up, copied it over, in its entirety. I used to know that one by heart, and I found it rather inspirational, heading over to the "beach."
There might have been a any number of "chemically challenged" attendees, but I didn't have too much contact with them. I kept asking other workers about their favorite stupid questions, but I figure I got about the best. Remember, this was a reggae festival.
Best question, or comment, really, I'm sitting in the information booth, a young woman approaches us, "Hey, I'm looking for my friend, he's black and has dreds, have you seen him?"
I guess you had to be there.
(Yeah get some other astrologer to combine reggae music and Elizabethan lit)

Redneck Mother - Mercury

I was looking at a two sets of documents that I've got earmarked for editing during the upcoming Mercury Retrograde period. Made me think of something I'm pretty sure I heard on the radio, Friday afternoon, it was Ray Wylie Hubbard, the original Zen-cowboy-poet, his advice to singer-songwriters, "Make sure you can sing that song for the next 31 years."
He was, of course, talking about "Up against the wall, redneck mother."
I was thinking about that because a Virgo volunteer was quizzing me about my astrology lecture, "What is that the Aquarius does?"
But with my astrology, the columns that I write, I have a "no repeat" clause in that contract with myself. I remember being accused of repeating myself, but I liked the columns and questioned the repetition, I mean, I couldn't find it. Neither could several rather careful readers.
Long standing rules seem to work. No repeats. Fresh material. It's been a little more difficult as of late to come up new stuff, but I keep plugging away. The challenge is certainly there.
Because I do chart my own course by the planets, I retired the production work on horoscopes for the duration of the fast-approaching Mercury retrograde. Not to worry, there's enough material in the can to see us through. And, I've already started on paper journal that has lists of ideas, observations and material for the future. I might get a series of scopes out bereft of typos. That would be endearing.
Pen and paper see me through times when Mercury is backwards. It's time to start anticipating that now, as well.
Worried about Mercury? Me? Hardly. But I do have my back-up systems in place. I'll just write by hand for spell. Never can tell when some of this stuff will come back to haunt us, like that singer still singing the same song for 31 years.
This journal is personal, it's not part of the hiatus in scopes.
Seeing Jimmy Buffett the other evening emphasized that point that Ray Wylie made. Imagine trying to find a way that is artistically pleasing, to sing a certain love song, for thirty years?
Which is worse? Redneck Mother or Why don't We get Drunk and Screw?
Hippie stench

I was figuring on getting ready for the Reggae Festival, just around the corner. Shirt? Grab a "sort of clean" one that I've only worn for a couple of days. Other preparations? Like shower and shave, like I usually do?
Maybe not, I mean, I was thinking about the situation, and what would fit in best is just splash on a little patchouli oil, and call me good to go.
The promoter's right hand person [Aquarius> called and left a message. My Pisces called and left instructions. I got the hint and slammed a straw cowboy hat on, then motored up - on foot - to the festival.
It never rained, but it wasn't clear, it was like having a cloud come down and sit on the ground.
I'm hanging up my "man wrap," though. Saw way too many guys in skirts. Plus, one in a kilt. Nope, don't want to look like everyone else.
The volunteer schwag included a "bongo naked" shirt and hat. That was cool.
Hearing a reggae version of Shakedown Street. That missed some of the audience, I'm sure, but judging from what I saw, most of the crowd was cooking on eleven herbs and spices.
Late in the afternoon, a fire truck responded to an emergency call. I was sitting near the front gate, and another worker stopped by, "Yeah, some girl flipped out...."
I suppose, given the times and places, it's supposed to be sad. I'm sure waking up in a psych ward with a garden variety of uncontrolled substances still running through your system isn't pleasant. But I got a giggle out of the situation, listening to the radio, "She's what you call around here, chemically challenged."
At the end of the night, to my right, was the coordinator [Aquarius>, another volunteer [Aquarius>, and yet another volunteer [Aquarius>.
In the final analysis, though, I figure reggae music is the perfect pitch for us Caucasians. Think about it: the style? What style? Ever try to dance to the syncopated beat? It's a meandering shuffle. No style and no rhythm? Perfect for me.
On the way home, passing through the festival ground, the air was heavy with moisture and incense. But once I got under the canopy of trees, closer to home, real lavender filled the air.

Wait until you've poked around on the website

Good Friday.
It started at 4:00 PM. Two calls, one, a trusty Sagittarius Apartment Locator called, to see if I was there to show, and two, the boss called, to let me know I could take the rest of the afternoon off.
"What! Maybe you're out vacationing, but hey, some of us are working, you know," I hotly retorted. I was just playing, though.
But wait, it got weirder. A recent correspondent has a strange first name. So did the prospective tenant. Then, her boyfriend in tow, he knows a friend, who knows me.
"I'm a Leo, give me a reading."
"Can't do that, not on company time.."
Besides, renting apartments are $395 per month, astrology readings are $100 per hour.
So I ambled off at the official quitting time, popped in to a coffee shop, and my favorite Pisces DJ was on the radio in there. Then an Elvis Cap poured an afternoon cup of brew. But it gets better, swung by the post office and some unnamed figure was hollering out her window, through rush hour traffic, "Hey, Kramer!" And a quick wave. No idea.
I've suggested before that Texicalli, down the street on Oltorf, is a good place to eat. Blessedly, there was no live music Friday night. But the food was - as always - tasty and filling. And for dessert? A huge, thick, creamy shake. I know I'll regret that later, but at the time, it was just too good to pass up.
Conspiracy Theory

Just because circumstances can place me in Dallas on a fateful day in November, that doesn't mean I buy every little theory about black helicopters. The best one I've heard so far:
Check it out: the bombing in Iraq leads in a straight line from the seaport to the oilfields. All they have to do now is come back, lay a pipeline, and just push the dirt back over the trench that the Coalition has already - conveniently - dug.
Coincidence? I think so. But that just might be me.

"You need to get some new music in this place... and where's my waffle?"

Long day in Austin. Post Full Moon fallout.
I hit the ground, not running, but more at a shambling, dissembling pace. Wandered over towards the apartments and logged in, then hopped across the street for a breakfast taco.
My Spanish is none too god, but as I understand it, the little taco stand located in a Laundromat is closing its doors. Bummer.
Two astrological freak out situations. First off, in the apartment's paperwork, in that office where I while away my afternoons, one set of numbers kept coming up, time and again, 4/5. Aries birthdays. Like, on applications, in tenant files, just about everywhere. I saw that same birthday four or five times in the span of two hours. Just weird.
Then, as the evening progressed, first to the post office, mail from a male Virgo, and then up to Jo's, coffee with a male a Virgo, then on up to Magnolia for another reading, Male Virgo.
Four out of five and three for three.
Just weird. No, just a coincidence.

Working Wednesday

The problem with going to a show like Jimmy Buffett, even if I'm not a drinking man these days, and even if I didn't touch a drop of alcohol, that doesn't mean that I'm not feeling like I was run over the next morning. By a big truck.
Despite that hangover-esque type feeling on Wednesday morning, I did get to work early and I did correct most of the material from the previous day's power outage, and I was productive. I just got tired of folks asking, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, nothing a long nap wouldn't cure."
Plus, there was that lingering feeling, that sense that my Sagittarius self had been on the road, even if only for a little while, and tiny portion of soul was happily singing along.
Seeing wildflowers along the roadside in the afternoon sun, crisscrossing the Colorado River, roadside fare in Ellinger, it just adds up. Also sparks a bit of inspiration.
Instead of arguing with the upcoming Mercury RX, I'm just slowing myself down to an acceptable pace, and making plans for the next couple of weeks. I've got a ton of straightening out to do with web issues, and it looks like I'll have plenty of time for that. I've got dozens of documents scattered across the computer's desktop and I can finally attend to corrections, edits and updates.

No Juice, Man Wrap & Sausage Wrap

When I rolled into the apartment office early on Tuesday morning, the lights weren't working. Bit of a problem. I did get some matters attended to, but I left a bunch of stuff undone. Pesky problem with the breaker. City assured me the account was current.
When Central Texas was colonized, coincidentally, a Uranus in Aquarius and Uranus in Pisces time, there was a portion of the population that came in from Germany and Czechoslovakia, bringing their cuisine with them. Over the years, this has evolved with time. West and Ellinger, Texas, both sport gas stations with the just about the best "kolaches" anywhere. Can't say for sure, but I'm thinking that not too many Central/Eastern European town incorporate jalapeños in their Sausage wrapped in a biscuit dish.
Picked some up on the way to Houston. Delicious.
Then, in the parking lot at the Woodlands, I wrapped a trusty tablecloth around me, to look like skirt.
As another SUV, pulled in, the driver rolled down her window, "Hey! You win!"
Guess I look good in a skirt.

Weird war news Tax Day

I forgot. No, I didn't forget to mail my taxes, I did that at the perfect time, I hope. But I forgot that I was heading out to hear Jimmy Buffett today. Red-headed Cap friend. Got tickets. Good tickets. Houston show tonight.
Leave early, get back late. Boat drinks!
Now, if I can just find my parrot earrings.....
No, I wasn't her first choice, but I am an old standby for just such an adventure.
Other items of note:
I must admit, since I've passed this one guy, just about every weekday, for close to month or more, that I have unfailing admiration for him. I was going to try and get a picture, but the best I could do Monday afternoon was grin. I would salute, too, but I was certainly out of uniform for that. Hawaiian shirt, sandals, and cargo shorts don't really look very military, along with a curly ponytail.
He's been standing, every afternoon that I've been there, with an American flag, in front of the Capital Building, holding up a sign that suggests he's not in favor of the current police action in Iraq.
What I admire is the guy's dogged determination. Plus, he has a right to express his opinion. The fact that he's doing in a way that I find sane and civilized is another plus. Can't say I agree with his point of view, but I do admire his courage. And I'm all for his rational approach to making a statement.
And his right to express himself.
The Moon was in Virgo:
As I swung by the The Hideout on the way home. The Taurus barista wasn't working, and on his way out the door, he warned me that the Virgo, who was working, was a little out of sorts.
After collecting a little cup of expertly-poured espresso, I tried to come up with a little bit of sympathy, "The Moon is in Virgo right now."
"Thanks, I guess," she demurred.
She promised not laden my cup with any of her bitterness, but some how, it made it into the brew anyway. Still, the last drop of foam was quite tasty. The Italians, or so I'm told, refer to that as "creama" - the froth on top of the espresso.
Two out of three ain't bad

Under the last New Moon, I did my lunar magic and set out three items to accomplish.
Uno: Move to a cheaper server: failed due to inherent unreliability of the new service.
Dos: Set up the subscription software, took twice as long as anticipated, but it worked.
Tres: Planted "cat grass" [oats of some variety>, and it's looking like miniature lawn.
Who sang "two out of three ain't bad"?

When the stars align next

When the astrological portents are good again I'll roll out a new splash page. I'm fixing to dump damn near all the advertising. As one local artist would suggest, "Yee-haw."
Wandering around the other afternoon, the Virgo spied a perfect a companion piece, and I carried the camera back, only, working with the limits, my camera couldn't quite catch the details.
[Hint: this is not in Shady Acres>

The sign, which no amount of digital image voodoo could quite clean up, says, "Life is too short to live in Dallas."

Too good to pass up - flame:

Round a-bout, 4/10/03 5:27 AM, ya'll said:
> Hmmm....seems a bit shady...kinda like if you visited your favorite diner day

> after day for a free cup o' joe...maybe bought a muffin while you were there,

> etc. Then one day, after many years of free coffee....suddenly you have to pay

> $2.95 for it! Without prior notice, even! I can just bet if that happened to

> you, we'd all hear about how awful it was on this site in our (now to be paid

> for) scopes!


> Let me know if this fails miserably and you go back to free weekly's.


> * a former Kramer fan*
Imagine two lines on a chart, one goes up, that's the number of web pages served here, and one goes down, that's the income generated by those web pages, through advertising, donations, and sales of chart reports.
But I might be bitter.
I liked that analogy, though. Suppose you go to that diner with free coffee where you sometimes buy a muffin, and suppose that there's a big sign in front, "Closed. (Couldn't pay the rent.)"
Glad I'm not bitter.


Laeti edimus qui nos subigant!
Kramer Wetzel, Fishing Guide to the Stars


Lovely Saturday in Austin.
Got the hottest deal going, a friend of a friend was talking about music and the Continental Club, Hank III, over a plate of home-style "country style pork ribs" and some babybacks.
So he burned me a copy of a bootleg of one of the Hank Three shows at the Continental.
Life is good. Very good. Wake up to the hardcore strains of Hank III's legendary "second set."
I realized that there were some pictures missing from the site, too. Stay tuned, and I'll pop up a few more as I get the chance.
Real trailer park scenes.

Fishing tournament

"Then you can have, like, a celebrity challenge bass tournament, it can benefit 'Bubba's Kids' and you can also make enough money to help keep your site free...."
Let me see if I understand this correctly, I can put together a charity event, then siphon off enough money to show a tidy personal profit - to benefit the web page's struggling bank account - and pretend that all the collections and donations are going to some other charity while really keeping it for the site's business?
Not likely. I'm finding that appealing direct to the consumer for support is a lot cleaner. No fraud involved.
After hours of trying to reason with complaints, then I realized a couple of points.
One, some folks just expect everything to be free on the internet.
Two, some folks figured if they whined long enough, or cleverly enough, I'd just give them a password.
Site's still free expect for the latest update. In fact, I'm in the process of revamping a number of the older batches of text files, to update and correct the material. Still free. But the up-to-date scopes cost a mere a $2.95.
Tired of me complaining about complainers? Wait until I post some of the flames.
I usually loathe to reference current events, but for too long, the price of freedom is a burden borne on the back of too few.
Can't let the cat go hungry, either.
One person used to send an anonymous donation - postmark Santa Clara - every 6 weeks or so. Been going on for a few months, addressed to the kitty.
"Now that Kramer's charging, no more anonymous $20's."
Firstly, I still have to declare that as cash income, and secondly, it's not dependable. Not like it came on a regular basis. An occasional $20 in the mail [it was ten bucks last time> doesn't pay for the server over a year. And since only 1 [one> person was doing it, it doesn't represent a viable or dependable revenues stream. I don't want to sound ungrateful, I just wish there were more kind hearts these days.
Now, if hundreds of people were sending in anonymous donations of just $1, this wouldn't be an issue. But they're not.
I should get a clue, though, subscriptions are outnumbering complaints 2 - 1. Means I'm getting two or three subscriptions for every e-mail that complains about my lack of ethics.
In the darkening Friday afternoon twilight, I took a longer way home, down an old trail by the river's edge. While worrying about keep astrofish.net afloat, I've been neglecting certain essentials. It was a Scorpio, about a week ago, who reminded me everyone needs to touch dirt from time to time.

Feeding frenzy

I've got some amusing - to me - flames I'll be posting soon enough. But Thursday turned into a delightful day - I caught the right bus, got to work early enough to swing by Mi Madres for breakfast tacos, then, after dealing with exigencies, such as they were, I noticed the church across the street was doing its BBQ - fundraiser. Since I was late getting over there, they just handed that crazy gringo a plate of food.
BBQ chicken, BBQ sausage, rice and beans, plus a salad. Not bad. I was sitting in the office, after running all over the place, and one of the residents shows up with a steak, rare, and some asparagus. Plus a little sample of cake. "I'm leaving town for a few days, and this food would just go to waste...."
On the way home, I was thinking about a few business items, and trying to shake one job in order to shift into another, and while the bus was stopped at a light, I glanced down at the car next to us. I saw the scariest sight. A person was unfolding a city map, talking on the phone and balancing a cup of coffee. I was rather worried, except that the car had NJ plates. Whew. Folks from up there know how to negotiate traffic. Around here? It's still a mystery how folks manage to arrive anyplace intact.
Sometimes, I even follow my own advice - spent the evening cleaning house. Interesting numbers showed up, too. Subscriptions rolled in as often as notes demanding free horoscopes. From the feedback, I'd suggest the numbers are good.
I also came up with a new trick, too. The subscription area is now linked to a different e-mail address. I can easily distinguish between the origin of the mail, and I can give subscription folks a priority.
Sometimes the evening air is just delicious.

Quotes and such

One of my professors used this at the beginning of most American Lit tests, a little ditty -
"I may well be a flop at this line of endeavor. Columbus too thought he was a flop, probably, when they sent him back in chains. Which didn't prove there was no America." Saul Bellows in The Adventures of Augie March.
I never read the book, it's not on my shelf, I can't be sure that the quote is exact, that's the way I copied it down from the test sheet, years ago. Paying attention in class could sometimes supplant the need to actually read the book - not that I know anything about that myself.
I was sitting in the apartment's office, manning the phones, pretending like I was a "leasing consultant" and trying to conjure up an image of what I should look like. The weather got nice, and I thoughtfully wore shorts. There's another leasing agent, met her briefly once, a few doors down. I'm pretty sure I don't look like her - maybe the hair - but that's about it. Business suit. Pure Spanish. Me? I'm working on learning a few words of Japanese and some Portuguese.
I found out that "hola" in Spanish is identical to "hola" in Portuguese.
I moved myself out in the sun to talk on the phone with the boss, and to "supervise" some maintenance work. Means I watched while two sturdy females hoisted a refrigerator up the stairs. I got tired just watching. Three flights. Glad they knew exactly what they were doing.
A future former tenant popped around with some fresh, organic produce. I sat in the sun and carved up one of the oranges, and proceeded to enjoy the afternoon's delicacy. Nice guy to chat with. It was a perfect little shot of vitamin C in the middle of the afternoon. We talked about war and peace, living simply, and web pages - and, of course, [hi boss> his lease termination.
Homeward bound, I thought about that quote, though, when I anticipated the e-mail. The subscription set-up is working properly, near as I can tell.
$2.95 is a bargain. Costs less than:
10. A 44-ounce diet coke, a bag of chips, a candy bar plus a lottery ticket from a convenience store

(looks suspiciously like my dinner)

9. Two breakfast tacos at Rapido Taco or Mi Madres

8. A pack of American Spirits (Medium, in the box)

7. A newsstand copy of Texas Monthly

6. A Venti skinny half-caf mocha latte

5. A six pack of Lone Star "tallboys"

4. Afternoon matinee movie ticket

3. Most paperback books

2. Dinner at Sonic

1. (what else goes here?)

it's live - and working properly

One last tweak, one e-mail to tech support, 30 seconds more work, and "Bingo!"
The subscription software is working now. Flawlessly. Early adopters wound up with an extended lifetime pass.
Reflections in cyberspace.

I came to William Gibson's Neuromancer a little late in the game - I think I read it first in 1986. I also figured it was a going to be a collectible text, so when I found an Ace First Edition [paperback>, I added it to my library.
I am very grateful that I've got a number of folks who rally to my defense when I post some flame mail. In fact, with that last one, I found out just how much I can depend on others for insight. I knew there was a flaw in the logic some place, I just couldn't see through my pain.
I was trying to expalin that the way the subscription works and the reason for it, and on another site, I found the numbers, at the bottom of the page.
My accountant laughed at me when I queried the office about how much I was going to have to pay this years, "Oh, you won't have to pay the IRS, not for last year," she said.
I snapped a picture of my ice box, to show what it really looks like around here. I had big plans for editting down the picture, but something about a single bottle of Mexican coke, it just seemed right. Too bad the image isn't clear enough to read; the flavor is "Mandrain."

Editing, appearance and display

A trick a I heard about recently - one that made a lot of sense to me - involved breaking up large bunches of text into smaller paragraphs.
This has been done to my material in other forums, at one time or another, but I tried it recently here. For it? Against it?
Let me know.
However, the first blush of results suggest that it's been really helpful.
Appearances and marketing

Last weekend, I spent the greater portion of my waking hours in the presence of the "public." Face-to-face with a large number of people. South Austin.
One interchange went like this, "You're Kramer? I get your e-mail every week. I just, you know, thought you were older, the way you write and all...."
The advice I was following when I started posting the weekly for free was that it would generate traffic and traffic yields sales.
Made sense, especially at the time. But like that one pleasant exchange, the traffic still doesn't purchase, and like that one person who discovered I was a lot younger than she supposed, the situation still resulted in no income.
Online shopping tips.
So I'm less sure of the free model, and more resolved that the "pay for view" - for time-sensitive material - is a viable alternative.
One of my red-headed friends called late last night, she was glowing because she's headed back to Amsterdam to see the tulips. Just wanted to let me know. And, she had a spare ticket for a Buffett show upcoming, would I be interested?

Work and more work

It's strange, I was pinpointing decisions I've made in my own life, times when I took a left instead of right, places where I forged ahead instead of sitting around, and consider what planets affected my disposition, giving influence to choices I've taken.
I can still the picture a spring evening, not unlike last night, the desert breeze blowing through the screen door, me and a buddy [Capricorn>, shifting through a newspaper, deliberating what to use as filler. Wrote my first astrology column. I've got a copy of it around here someplace.
We all trooped on up to Threadgill's for a buffet breakfast Sunday morning, scooting out just before the band was setting up - Gospel Brunch. From there, it was a short hike to the new Palmer Events Center, and I was back in the saddle.
I've never liked Gill's coffee, and I found, halfway through the morning, it still doesn't like me. Stomach never fully recovered, even though a Taurus fetched us up some burgers from down the street.
The time change, I almost completely forgot about it, worried about why one clock was too fast and the other was too slow. Couldn't ever get over losing an hour someplace.
Like working in the new center, whatever it's called. Liked having new and different vendors around, too. Certainly didn't like a sour stomach and sitting right under an AC vent. I think I'm going to figure out how to astrology readings in a boat so I can continue to fish while doing a reading. Got to be more efficient with my time.
I'm still interested in alternatives to PayPal, but so far, I've yet to find an arrangement that will cater to a "micropayment." Constructive suggestions are welcome.

Round a-bout, 4/6/03 4:05 AM, ya'll "SecretSun7@cs.com" said:
> While occassionally enjoyable, your column was among the least illuminating,

> giving your strained and colloquial use of allegory. Breszny would never stoop

> to this. After all, he displays a genuine talent for metaphor as a means to

> challenge the reader's hunger for information as he originated it in the Santa

> Cruz weekly Sun decades ago. Your Ma Wetzel would be ashamed of your newfound

> greed. Pat yourself on the back for joining the texas (intentionally not

> capitalized) campaign to suck money (and power) from the rest of the country

> while offering little or nothing in return (a la Enron Cheney / Bush). Just

> remember texas, what goes around, comes around. Your greed may be big, but

> your integrity is very very small.
Hey, thanks for taking the time to write in!


"Ibam ibi, feci id, aditus piscari."
Kramer Wetzel (no relation to any fictional character)

Astrology Home Buoy --> http://www.astrofish.net
Say something funny.

When I was at Linda's to teach on Wednesday night, I found a copy of the program for the upcoming "Body Mind Soul Expo" with my speaking slot filled with "XXX" at "xxx".
I like that, though, think about it. It was either that, or I was supposed to talk about Fly Girl Products.
Another reader from CA, affiliated with some church, dropped off some chocolates. I promptly set the box up as bait. Another friend's Taurus daughter came by and pulled a "Harry Met Sally."
"Oh my heart is racing," she said [swoon>, hand to forehead.
"Yeah, I do that's what I do to women," I replied.
"No Kramer, it was the chocolate."
Dinner with a few folks at Romeo's, listened while my Pisces friend outlined her next workshop, intended to make males more sensitive to a woman's desires.
Got home late and tweaked one more script, and presto-changoe, it all works now.
Subscriptions are set up to cost money.

Required reading & reptiles -

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson - should be required for most of the online writers I know. I haven't even finished it, and I don't think I'm going to have any time in the immediate future to do any quality reading. Bummer. But from what I've read so far, it's good.
It seems to be an interesting piece of the present, too.
"Far more creativity, today, goes into the marketing of products than into the products themselves, athletic shoes or feature films." [page 87>
While I was strolling across the bridge to catch a bus, I spied a little baby red-ear turtle, not any larger than a Las Vegas casino's "dollar" coin. Right there, on the sidewalk, making headway towards the street. I stopped long enough to pick him up and set him back on the banked lawn, pointing downhill and towards the river. How he got that far is beyond my understanding.
Turtles are reptiles. So are snakes. Earlier, I spied a foot-long critter, near as I could tell, looked like a baby boa, from the irregular rectangles on its back, in a parking lot. It's not like a boa is a native or anything, and I wondered whether it was a copperhead, but head was crushed. However, the native copperhead usually has a more regular pattern. I'm pretty sure it was a boa.
So it's off to work, Saturday morning...

How it works - or doesn't work

I'm much better off now that the good weather is starting to get here. What a lot of folks don't recall is that hard freeze, even ice, in February means that we're headed into a hot summer. Free is an operative word, too. The way this site will work when I finish up the details is rather simple: Last week's scopes? Free. All the data on the site including previous years' archives? Free. All the data linked from the index? Free. This meandering journal? Free. Then why subscribe?
Only one directory will require a password, available by subscription, the current weekly scopes and the subscription form for e-mail delivery of those same scopes. Two items, and I'm rather proud of some of the code, trimmed the advertising down to nothing, almost, and no graphics. Loads fast. Even on 28.8 dialup, should load quickly. Fast.
Yeah, I know, you sign up for three days for free then sign up for the e-mail delivery, and then don't pay the $2.95, and you can beat the system. Frankly, if that's how you live your life, doesn't bother me, you only have your own conscience to deal with. Not my problem - you get what you pay for.
Yes, the order form itself was broken for while yesterday. The "uber reliable" hosting service did some background changes. Screwed up my SSL (Secure Socket Layer) set-up. Plus I haven't managed to get that password protection software to talk to PayPal likes it's supposed to yet. Just another minor annoyance.
The war and its media bombardment threw me off my regular schedule for producing scopes. And that's my priority. I can only afford to spend so much time working on what I feel like I can do in order t make this all work out right. I have to answer that muse, too.
But once it all gets set up correctly, then it's simple. Everything will be free except for the current week's scopes. Simple. Even if you're an early adopter and have been getting the regular weekly mail? That stays just the way it is.
I'm not sure how this will fly, but I've batted around the idea for years. More like I've batted it down for years. Resisted it - the subscription idea.
I had to talk to an officer (APD) at the other job. Over the officer's right breast, there was a small badge, a medical symbol, a caduceus, maybe, and the letters "M H O." I've seen it before. 2 out of the last 5 officers I've dealt with had it. Stands for Mental Health Officer. In other words, someone trained to deal with crazy people. But that's like, 40% or more of the force that I've dealt with, so does that imply that Austin's full of crazy people?
On my home, I looked up at the nascent phase of the Moon, whipped out the pocket chart thing, and peeked real fast. Moon was 25 Aries, Mercury was 25 Aries. Looked good for me, if I could just sneak it all in before the moon went sliding into a Taurus. Cool evening air, a decent breeze kicking up from downriver, the stars starting sparkle as I was heading home, life might just be okay. Maybe just a little crazy.

Tweaking and geeking + statistics

I wonder what this does to me, all this close-in work on computer screen, the late nights, the "read me" files that were all written by geeks?
Makes life amusing.
Bare with me, I'm thinking on paper again.
75% of the astrofish.net traffic comes from bookmarks. Or users typing it straight into their browsers. The other portion is from a couple of "horoscope sites" but that traffic is rather limited.
Search engine traffic is even less.
So how's this going to work?
A couple of folks immediately "PayPal'ed" over some cash, including one note about "this is for the server's rent," which makes me wonder if "paypaled" is going to become a verb like "google."
My goal is to have a 100 subscribers per month. That would just about cover the raw cost of a virtual server, net access, and the phone bill. Or most of it, anyway.
And that just covers the bare essentials of getting this stuff up. That doesn't cover the incidental expenses like time spent writing and posting the material.
See: the closest business model that I've seen that is successful involves a 900# phone line. Those scopes themselves run between 60 and 100 words per sign, averaging an even 75 most of the time. That column runs at 1,000 words each week, almost dead even. For that extra kick, the user has to make arrangements to pay an additional six bucks each week. That's where the money's made.
Now, my weekly Fishing Guide to the Stars weighs in at twice that. Not a trick of the camera. The scales haven't been rigged. Minimum word count for the last couple of years has been at least 2K, and sometime close to the 3K.
I had to have a point to this, so I figured $2.95 per 30 days. The numbers work out pretty well, then. Only 98 to go.
I've drawn the templates, sketched out the flow chart, got it all worked out. If I weren't working part-time these days, I would've implemented this a while back.
Only 98 to go.
Ever feel like some comics are written just for yourself?

In between

So I was stuck between readings, then I get a 10 PM call from some who ordered a chart, and had it e-mailed to her boyfriend, and he took one look at the header on the message and tossed it.
So I spoke with that couple for a few minutes. And I had a long day at the apartment office, being the first and all, and plus I had a phone reading, so it's not like I had a lot of time to finish the install. Worked on it, but never got around to finishing it up.
I'll get there, I'm sure, just not there yet.
Less than ten cents per day

Less than the price one large latte, too. Think about that.
I've heard it before, and I'm sure I'll hear some complaints about stuff that should be free. I'm temping as a landlord, which makes me think that I really should pay last month's rent on the trailer.
It's either that, or pay for another month on this server.
I tried to take a shortcut to a cheaper server and that blew up in my face.
I've tried a number of tricks to help float this place, advertising is still an option, but that's a fairly anemic market these days.
I've begged, asked for donations, and the few folks who do donate are helping, but it's not really enough.
Bottom line, I need to charge admission for the weekly scopes. Not last week, nor any week before that, but for current week.
That was another unimplemented goal behind moving servers. Never got around to it. I was too busy whacking away at stupid details like permissions and stuff.
I was also figuring that extant mailing list would remain free, but future addresses would be only available to paying customers.
I hate doing this. But I can't see any other way to make this pay for itself.

New server?

Which made me wonder, unrelated, about this.
No, I didn't move to a new server. Under the dark of the moon, I planted a handful of seeds for "cat grass," which is really just some kind of generic oats. Should go well for the cat.
I was all hyped up to do the move until I got into the apartment office. Once again, access failed. For "99.5% guaranteed uptime," that company wasn't doing too good. Out for a portion of the weekend and then again, out on Monday afternoon. So much for saving dollars.
The server I'm presently on, it costs money. A lot of money. Relatively speaking, it's a very expensive proposition. However, it's been online and - very important - dependable. Some of the backend technology seems a little dated, but it has given me rock-solid service.
You get what you pay for?
I suppose, as I was tweaking along, that there's an analogy from building a racing motorbike, back "in the day." Speed was desirable, as was minimal weight, but dependability paid off, too.
My best, super trick-out motor ever, and I mean the best parts I could scavenge, beg, borrow, steal or even buy, it ate its lunch on lap six of ten lap race. Dropped an extended oil-pickup.
I don't remember why I was thinking about that motor, I'd spent the better part of the winter months running all over and calling folks up to get the right parts, just to get it assembled only to have it fail on a Sunday afternoon.
Trails and tribulations. But I did stumble across a new piece of software that might work really well. I hope I can get it implemented before Mercury goes backwards.
Let's see, moved a few files around, tossed a lot of junk, and streamlined some of the information delivery plus I updated a lot of material.
Doesn't matter if you can go around the racetrack - faster than anyone else - for five laps. If it's a ten lap race, DNF is just as bad.
Now if I can figure out how to financial upkeep.
Advertising - "funky old but cute"

One of the joys in working for someone else is that expensive mistakes don't come out of my paycheck. Plus, the feller I'm working for, he's got some sort of a twisted gift when it comes to marketing.
I really do need to deconstruct some of his advertising campaigns, as they've proven to be very effective.
On the whole, direct mail usually is considered successful if it gets a 2% response. In plain language, it's a bitch.
I'm thinking that direct mail is pretty much a flea-bitten, mongrel bitch, at that.
But "mi patron" has this special touch. It runs on many levels. One of them is the color scheme of the complexes I'm charged with for a few hours in the afternoon. One is a pale green, one is a pastel yellow, and one is teal blue. All pastels. All natural, soft colors.
"Planned it that way, right?" I asked.
Bemused expression on El Jefe's face, "Uh, yeah. Right, yeah, we, uh, planned it like that."
But it works as the buildings do stand out in a formerly seedy neighborhood.
So when it comes to direct mail, the big boss sits down with a sharpie, and he doodles in a possibly school-boy hand, a message on postcard.
This kind of ad doesn't look nice, clean or pretty. Simple message, simple postcard, simple scrawled note.
He puts some kind of mojo on that artwork, though. Don't ask me why. Thursday, I took calls for two straight hours, from all over the country, folks just clamoring to get a cheap apartment.
I explained, nonstop, for several hours, all the details. Close to campus, not affiliated with the university, most of the tenants are graduate students, & etc. The usual chatter.
I know from my career as a telephone astrologer, that one hour of phone time is equivalent to two hours of regular work. Ask any poor soul who ever put in time doing phone support about that figure. Bless their little hearts.
I was talking on the phone, pouring fire ant poison on a pile in the front landscaping, talking while trying to show a prospective tenant a vacant unit, talking while doing a lot of chores.
Got six solid leads, six folks who were mailing checks for deposits out of 2,000 postcards. And not all of the postcards have been mailed yet.
In faltering economy, in a town where $500 will rent an apartment (dramatic pause) building, and in place where vacancies are running 50% or better, to generate this kind of traffic, plus, I'm guessing , six solid leads before we ever really got cranking, that's some kind of numbers.

About to roll out the new server

I'm still not sure about the new server, and I'm dreadfully afraid of alienating readers, but then, a number of folks who write in are not worried about alienating me, so there's that to consider.
If it goes like it's supposed to, sometime late Monday night, I'll pop the new numbers into the machine and see what happens. I know the order form is still broken, but frankly, I could care less. It's not like there's been any business lately. Then there's the mailing list, and the subscription information. So far, it's taken a whole weekend and there's still one piece to the puzzle that's missing. Plus, if this new server doesn't start performing a little better, I'll just have to do something else. It will be another 28 days before I could launch a site again.
The current weekly scopes, on the new server, are one click down from the front page. Still automated, and the problem is, the new server reads West Coast time. So the scopes don't roll over until 2:00 AM local time.
Complaints? Forget it.
Greg did about ten minutes worth of work, and I owe him "just a couple of beers," for his efforts, but the tiny script works like magic. In many different forms.
I was a little pissed, though, see, I'd gone by the apartment's office to put in a two extra hours of work, and in doing so, I also tried to access the new server through an AOL Windows dialup account. Didn't work.
One of my Gemini friends was in town with her beau, a delightful Sagittarius lad. The picked me up at the other office and trucked me on over to Book People. While I was waiting in line for coffee, I read the store's history on the wall. In 1995, "it was the largest bookstore in the USA," or so they claim.
I wandered home after making a single purchase, something I've been meaning to get for weeks now, William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. Wish I could justify it better., but I do like his style.
Strange, how whatever it is that I'm reading at the moment (three books, not counting the bus riding text), influences what I write.

Where's that triple latte when you really need it?

Old rule of thumb: 90% of a job takes 90% of the time, and the other 10% takes another 90% of the time. Or a good portion of the weekend, anyway.
I sat down with one, clear goal in mind, Friday evening. Worked for six straight hours and got most of what I wanted accomplished. Not all, but most.
With a few, short command line commands, I got the database dumped and uploaded. Then I got that same database (the very one this journal is archived in) up on the new server.
I glanced at the astrology text, and I was planning, from what I understand about planets, with a liberal dose of web traffic knowledge to make the final switch Sunday night. Not quite, but close.
Looks like it will be Monday night for the switch. So far, everything but the shopping cart works. That's good, as I tend not to get a lot of orders at the beginning of the week.
The other part that just won't work until I make the final switch is the journal. And I'm having a real bitch of time with it.
Sometime Monday and for part of Tuesday, the site might not be "anywhere" while it's in two places at once.
The technical details work like this, see, I need to execute command from a terminal (not a browser) and I can't do that until I've changed servers.
Bubba called at the last minute, too, wondering if I wanted to see Saint Willie. I would love to, but it was coldish out, and frankly, until I lick some of these problems. I'm not going much of anywhere. Except, maybe to dinner.
So e-mail and all other functions might be lost in space for the next 24-48 hours. After that?
The new site rolls up just fine, looks just like the old site except that last's week's scopes roll out on the opening page.
Two ways to get to the current scopes: each one is a single click. Don't bitch. Complaints and flames are summarily tossed and the e-mail address will be blocked. All this work on a web page has put me a foul mood. It's that "other 90% of the time" thing.

triple latte

Friday afternoon was a little strange. I had one of those nightmare occurrences, something I've dreaded from the very beginning of taking this job, and of course it involves a Scorpio.
Show apartments, which is really more like selling a product, and count incoming rent checks, answer company e-mail, and look at some marketing material.
The hardest-working crewmember is the maintenance guy. I got a call from "el jefe" asking me to see about getting the maintenance guy to do some little chore, and I found the guy - up on the roof. At least, following clues, that's where he should've been. His truck, a ladder leading up to the awning, and I took one look up at the pitched roof, sniffed the tar, looked down at the cowboy boots I had on, and I decided, for the mere pittance I'm getting paid, it wasn't worth the risk of clambering up on the roof to get his attention. I could just see me sliding down to the edge, and breaking something.

Didn't want to tempt the fates so I didn't. I hollered until I got his attention.
I hauled myself back to the office after I delivered the work order, and met two more future tenants.
"Hello triple latte," one of them greeted me.
"How'd you find me?"
"On the web."
My website? The company's sites have no signature that I was ever there, although, artistically, the work is pretty clearly mine.
As it turned out, the source was elsewhere, some of the underground marketing I'd worked on. My secret identity was safe for a little while.
But that Scorpio? She does make a good coffee drink, arguably one of the best I've ever had.

web issues

Did I mention that I hate all the work that I have to put in to move to a new server? Plus, due to heightened security, there's that extra level of authentication?
I was-still am-considering the subscription based model. But when the scopes didn't pop up like they were supposed to, and the kitty cam broke, I had to backtrack and fix all them broken parts first. Not fun.
Then there's the issue with 1> doing readings and 2> moving this journal over to the new server. Love the way it works, and most of everything is moved now, ready to be launched. All except - the journal.
I haven't worked in a straight "command line" interface in something like 15 years. I used to know how to do that, had most of the commands memorized, like a second language. Don't have it right now. Damn.
I got call last night, right after dinner time, "Do you do astrology readings? You're in Austin, right? Do you do witchcraft?"
I called back, but all I got was a run around from someone who wanted a spell cast to trap a particular mate and a free astrology reading.


In a time when humor is sorely lacking, I found this comic amusing.
Then last Sunday's Donnesbury tickled a funny nerve.
Wasn't much of a good day. Near as I could tell, the news is the same material, recycled, and I'm not happy, either way. I spent most of the evening wrestling with computer code and duplicate websites so I could get the new server up and launched in time. I do have some surprises, and the back-end is looking better and better all the time.
For three mornings now, I've tried to answer one last e-mail before I scooted out the door, and for three mornings, I've been late for the bus. Missed it, actually. What was worse, this morning, I was standing at the bank teller machine across the street. If I hadn't stopped to make a withdrawal, I would've been early, like I like it.
Walking further up congress, though, there's that place to stop for one last cup of coffee, and the little Scorpio barista has the perfect way of mixing the steamed milk and espresso.
Did I mention that I hate working on a new server, trying to learn its eccentricities?

Rainy blues.

For some years now, Bubba Sean's been telling me about his childhood accomplice, a long-time friend of his who is now employed by the Austin Police Department. While I was working in East Austin, I noticed two squad cars picking up a guy, so I ambled over and inquired, just see if I could be of assistance. Part of the job.
Finally got to meet the patrol officer.
Then, a little later, Bubba Sean himself calls me up, "whatcha doin fer supper" kind of tone. Sonic's 99 cent burger became the hot idea. We started to walk, but then it started to rain, so we looped back and hopped in his car. He glanced at the cell, then it rang, Homer Simpson saying, "Bitch bitch bitch."
So our direction changed, and we arrived at a record store about the same time the cops did, and we missed grabbing someone who kited a felonious amount of checks to Bubba's employer. Plus, to hear him tell it, he was personally responsible for almost making the grab.
Some kind of excitement. Plus, there were some new T-shirts. So I got a free T out of the deal. Then a burger, a shake, and called it a night.
But not quite. From my refer logs, I know that Tuesday nights were the slowest, traffic wise. So I figure, as long as I'm setting up a new server, maybe this was a good time to tweak some stuff. Just a few items, nothing drastic, just a couple of places where I want to clean up the web site. Just few extraneous bits and pieces that have grown rather unwieldy, in digital terms, over the last two, three years.
I worked up that new splash page, and I'll have it set so there's an option to head straight to the scopes. That's easy. I liked the critique of the artwork, "Like a high, lonesome drifter in Tevas..." Imagine that spaghetti western theme song whistling in the background.....

Dear Judge Smith:

Enclosed please find a copy of a ticket I received on March 24, 2003, in a little cove on Lake Bastrop. The ticketing officer suggested that if I were to provide you with a copy of the ticket and a copy of my valid Texas Parks & Wildlife Resident Fishing Permit, you might dismiss the ticket.
I'll be more than happy to pay any court costs and/or administrative fees.
The fishing permit was purchased 9/4/2002, and is current. It was also sitting on my desk. You can bet that I'm not leaving home without it again.
My fishing partner that morning was giggling, smirking, and snickering in an unprofessional manner. I was afraid this would reflect badly on me and my offense, and/or upset the officers. My friend did, of course, have the proper floatation device, fire extinguisher and his fishing permit.
The officers were polite and kind, I'm happy to report. The ticketing officer even graciously stopped long enough to pose for a picture with me accepting the ticket. His partner told him, "You'll be on the Internet now."
He is.
Approximately 20 to 30 regular readers have seen the digital image of me getting ticketed for an offense that I so frequently warn other people about.
The ribbing I've received in the daily e-mails is horrendous.
I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that I didn't catch any fish, or the fact that I did get a ticket. As one reader suggested, the score for the morning showed the fish winning.
In light of these facts, I can only hope that you will show a little clemency and dismiss this aforementioned ticket. My bad.

Kramer Wetzel


Sunday night, or maybe it was Monday morning, I had another one of those exciting dreams. My nocturnal trips, while my body is sleeping, have been quite entertaining lately. Lucid at points, lots of action and adventure, and some disappointing events, too. I can write it all off to Uranus in Pisces, but then, I understand such things.
The deal with this one dream, though, I know what the plot was. I knew the main character. I watched - or participated in - the violence, mayhem and so forth, because I knew where it was all going.
See, I was dreaming about William Gibson's Neuromancer, as in, the computer cowboy named Case.
It's been many years since I've reread the novel. I do own nice first editions of most of the author's work, but I think my [u>Neuromancer copy[/u> is an old paperback.
But I haven't touched it in years. Why that popped up now, I don't know.
What was I thinking?

At Five AM, Sunday morning? Couple of titles popped through my mind after we wrapped it all up, "Riding with the King," or a musical reference, "I fought the law (and the law won)"? A little later, I kept humming another tune, while I was watching the tiny Zara Spook [helpful hint: makes great earrings, too> wiggle and walk its way back to the boat.
Set the scene, at five in the morning, the computer was telling me that the temperature was a mighty chilly 47 degrees outside. I pulled on shorts, T-shirt, Hawaiian shirt, then a heavy layer of outerwear. Buckled up an older pair Teva sandals.
I shoved everything into my copious pockets, knife, phone, camera PDA, hair tie, ChapStick, sunglasses, and rolled on out the door. I kept thinking I was forgetting something, but I couldn't remember what.
True to form, Bubba pulled up fifteen minutes early, ready to go. Truck's gassed, boat's secure, life is good, we're going fishing.
I was awake, caffeinated, and ready to fish. "Change in plans, highway's still under construction and closed."
No problem.
I was doing fine. I'm the lucky one. I'm the good luck on Sunday morning. I'm the luck charm in this outfit, the Fishing Guide to the Stars.
Some mornings are better off spent in bed.
It's like flying low, going in under the clouds, excellent weather. Fogged in with morning cloud cover hugging the ground. From the boat ramp, visibility was about three feet. We just launched the boat into the cove, and fished right there. First fish of the day, within minutes.
On around the corner, still fogged in. Another fish, and another, "NO! Don't take a picture, that's too small of a fish!"
I was just trying to get solid evidence that I was, indeed, fishing.
On around to the dam, looking for grass and shade, the fish like to lurk in the grass and the shade. I tried to make a funny comment about people in Austin, not sure the joke went right, something about big mouth bass and hippies in Austin.
We motored on around, nosed into another cove, caught another one, up to four or five now for my buddy and exactly zero for me, and kept right on enjoying a spring day. The air was clear, the fog burned off, the light refracted off the waves in glittering starbursts, I managed to shed most of my outerwear, and I was pretty confident that I'd have a fish, sooner or later. Maybe not a big fish, maybe not a five pound bass, but you know, something decent for the photographic record.
"Hey, Kramer, you got your fishing license on you?"
"Uh, sure, it's right, it's right, it's right on my desk, why?"
I had to listen to snide little comments about "In Jail, Need Bail?" All the way home.

Avoiding war: Business questions

Bombing the bejeebers out of Baghdad worries me a bit. It was the cradle of civilization, as we knew it, at one time. And they did do a lot of astrology. But I'm avoiding all that for a day. I don't want to think about it. It hurts. There's a business model that I've been meaning to examine, in detail.
A couple of weeks ago, I needed to puchase a RAM chip. On an Apple notebook, it's real simple, I pop out the keyboard, and the chip fits in a slot right there. Easiest installation possible - good industrial design.
I grabbed a magazine and flipped to the ads in the back, but most of the chip prices were "call for latest pricing." When I was finally getting around to ordering, it was late in the evening. Probably easier to do it on the web. The computer chip market is such a volatile place with prices shifting every two or three minutes.
Instead of hitting the sites listed in the magazine, though, there's a computer news site I frequent, and I'm guessing, about four times a week. Industry updates, software patches, news, rumors, recent releases, bugs and so forth.
The design of that site has influenced some of my aesthetic decisions, over the last two or three years. The layout is simple, straightforward. Just news and links. So when I want to the latest price schedule for RAM, I just turned there.
I shuffled through the credit cards, found one that was close to its limit, and then selected a merchant, based on the ad on that site. I clicked through, and made a purchase, getting the right module to fit the notebook.
I don't shop for computer gear often. But when I do, I generally start at that one site. For a reason: see, there's no dues, no subscription, and I like the data presented. The miniscule commission helps pay for the site's upkeep, I hope.
Some marketing type can do a whole analysis about branding, marketing, and targets with this sort of information, pointing out loyalty and so forth. But what it really amounts to, and I know my one, insignificant purchase isn't going to do that much, but every little bit helps.

Friday Five?

5. By now, just about everyone has read this article. Doesn't come as any big surprise, does it?
4. I danced around the topic of war and such all afternoon. I had one of those entirely pleasant readings with a pair of sisters. What was so odd, the girl who set it all up, going strictly from her name and online appearance - all text - I thought it was a sister and a brother. My bad.
3. Worked in a little Amy's, then afterwards, I ambled over to the Austin Stories happy hour. That was amusing.
2. But the funniest comment came from another one of the girls there, one of a several Libra types.
"Yeah, my boyfriend asked about you last time, Kramer, 'who's the guy with the long hair? He's your type, isn't he?' Know what? Best sex I've had in a long time. Thanks Kramer!"
1. Always glad to help.

Tangents - reductio ad absurdum

When I was on foot through a parking lot, heading towards my temp job, I saw bumper sticker. It said, "one nation under God." I just wanted to scratch a little letter "s" on the tail end of that, just to reflect my current beliefs.
About an hour north of Austin, there's Ft. Hood. Huge military installation. About an hour south of Austin, there's San Antonio, with something like five military establishments. 600 or more miles to the west, there's El Paso's Ft. Bliss. For that matter, the Austin airport is a retired military field. Taxiing in and out, there are still bunkers of some kind visible.
I was chatting with a friend after her reading the other evening. She served as a journalist in "Gulf War I: the prequel."
She works for a middle-of-the road state representative these days.
"They [Iraq> have arms. They tried to gas us with anthrax or something several times. They [Iraq> just didn't have a method of delivery.
"When I came home, I had this rash for several months, I'm pretty sure it was anthrax or something."
My memories go back to the close of the Viet Nam War. I recall the hideous response by the public, the torrid backlash that the warriors suffered.
That's my biggest fear, now.
I missed my early morning bus, and I found that I had to walk an extra few blocks, which, as luck would have it, included a slight detour through a familiar coffee spot. There was a barista working whom I didn't recognize. We chatted for a moment, I asked her birthday, and I allowed as how that Taurus guy in the afternoon does just about the best, or maybe the Virgo.
"You haven't had one of my cappuccinos yet."
Scorpio. I was betting on that, due to what I know about appearances, but she was right. It was the perfect balance of steamed milk and the coffee was done just right.
Best one I've had in a long, long time. Which didn't exactly set the tone for the day, but it helped some.
Missed my usual buds at work. Right before I walked out to catch a bus homeward, my little Pisces called me to let me know that there was some kind of a demonstration at the Capital, and my bus would be delayed.
So two blocks from the State Capital, the bus rolled to a stop, and I hopped off, not wanting to wait an hour to go four more blocks. With my long hair and sandals, I'm sure I looked like an aging relic from a bygone generation, like, maybe some of the protestors thought I was of their parents' vintage. Or that I was with them all the way.
Many people smiled at me although I was heading the other direction. The only ones not smiling at me were Austin cops, and they were bunched up like little gang members, huddled together for safety, massively outnumbered.
As Americans, we all have a right to gather and express our opinions. I'm still a little in quandary as to why I saw so many posters that implied [Pres.> Bush was a doo-doo head. What that has to do with the Texas State Capital is beyond me - it's not like he's coming back here. I'm failing to see the connection. But - at the very least - as Americans we have earned a right to say such things.
What did bother me, and even though in my personal - very uninformed - opinion suggests that maybe some of the posters were true, what worried me the most, was what happens when a protester violates the rights of a uniformed public servant?
If you're American, or British, or Australian, you have a right to let your voice be heard. Do it. Write your government representative. Better yet, next time around? Vote.
A young Latina woman was jogging through downtown, paused at a stoplight, encountered some guy from her office, and in an exchange, she said, "Yeah, I told them, 'to get haircut and get a job.'" Then she laughed.
If that's the attitude, though, then she should be in the kitchen, not out running to keep herself thin and trim. Bad attitude, but nice purple spandex.
For it? Hardly. I find open combat distasteful and probably a bad idea. But against it? If you're driving an SUV, especially one made in a foreign country, I sure hope you're not toting around some "No War For Oil" signs.
Looks like the Arctic Refuge is safe again, for a little while. Too bad some of the richest oil fields in the world are being put to the torch, even as I type this.
I'm all for voicing an opinion, but beware, there are some ironies that seem lost. Like a cell phone? A car that gets less than 50 miles per gallon of fuel? Preferring a car to a bicycle, or better yet, feet? Or, at the very least, mass transit, especially if it's like the local - clean burning - buses?
Even better, and I could hear helicopters most of the night, there were two or three planes towing banners before dusk. At least one of them had a moral message. But one of the other planes? It was advertising a restaurant chain named after a certain member of the avian set, but the name clearly implies a portion of the female anatomy.
This is one stirred up hornet's nest, that's for sure. After seeing advertising at a peace demonstration, the good guys, the boys in blue, looking a little nervous, I had to wonder, is critical thinking that foreign? Or, for that matter, why would anyone in his right mind want to taunt such a crazed population?
What's worse, this was an effort to order my thoughts. I'm more confused than ever.

"We're going to war."

Or maybe, the bombs started raining down by the time this is posted. Yesterday took a turn for the better when I ran into Leslie the cross-dressing homeless mayoral candidate.
"Hey Leslie, that a beeper?"
"Just because I'm homeless doesn't mean I don't have to stay in touch, you know, my lawyers. Didn't you see page 20 of the Chronicle?"
No, no I didn't see it. But I did reiterate that a vote for Leslie is a vote for Austin.
Pa Wetzel was in town for the day, a meeting of some kind at UT. He cruised by the apartment complex and we stopped up the street for a quick cup of coffee plus a little bite of lunch.
I was trying to quiz him about organic chemistry. Presently, close to 50% of our "oil" comes from Arabia. I fingered a plastic cell phone holster, "So this is made from petrochemical stock, right?"
His command of organic chemistry isn't what it used to be, but think about that. The plastic wrapper on the loaf of bread? Oil. The plastic in the keyboard you're typing on? Long, gossamer threads of carbon chains, if I recall, which I don't, but they all started as oil.
Old Dad had a small gift for me. Then he was off, driving back to Dallas. Hopefully, he just beat the rush hour traffic.
I hugged him before he hopped in his car and hit the road, "You make sure you call me when you get home."
Times have changed. His little green Toyota Hybrid motored off.
A few hours later, I was on the bus, heading home myself, and I noticed fledgling stand of Blue Bonnets, late, but making a stand nonetheless. Just set things in a better perspective.
Which doesn't address the question of war and politics, but at this point, I'm already burned out.

Tranquility Alternative by Allen Steele

Tanquility Alternative by Allen Steele. The copyright on my first edition is 1996, at least that's what I recall from last night. In the author's thanks, he goes back as far as 1994.
There's a subservient scene, a subplot, really, that I kept recalling. I finally got tired and pulled the book off the shelf and tried to reread the whole thing in an evening. Didn't work. A lot of the material in the book is rather dated. But I did locate that one scene, and I did recall it properly.
The story itself is basically an alternative history of the space program, going back to World War II. There seemed to be an impressive amount of reserach that went into the science fiction. Of that, I'm sure.
Plus, as I recall, at the time, it was a gripping read. Then there's that one little detail, just an addendum to make the whole story flow a bit better, and the details were pretty amazing.
All right, first off, the characters are a bit wooden in places, almost as if they were cut from stock. Which, of course, isn't that unusual in Science Fiction as a genre, because SF was basically the updated "dime western" wherein the spaceman with a rocket ship and ray gun replaces the cowboy with a horse and six-shooter.
But enough of literary genres and styles.
There was a scene I recalled, and while I didn't have the patience or eyesight to read the whole thing again, as I flipped to the back, the denouement was there, like I remembered.
Powerful bit of extrapolation. And not that far off from what's unfolding on the world scene these days. Goes a long to explain just what's happening on some days.
Not bad for pulp fiction.

Weekly introduction

Uranus in Pisces, Sun in Aries, and Mars in Capricorn.
That what I started with. I was going to add some more, but I got deterred. First it was reading, then I had to look at the coverage, then it was something else.
Here's the draft that didn't get published:
Uranus in Pisces, Sun in Aries, and Mars in Capricorn. Bombs fell on Baghdad? War isn't pretty. Whether you're for or against this conflict, please remember that the warriors are fighting for your right say that you are either for or against this conflict. And please pray for a quick resolution.
In my afternoon events, I had a chance to talk to the Egyptian dry cleaners guy. He was adamantly against what he suggested was a totalitarian regime in Iraq. But he also warned, pointing to the apartment building I'm currently responsible for, across the street, if someone came and tried to throw me out of there, what would I do?
Now, I picked the opening quote some time ago, but what's so grimly amusing, is that the play? It's about war.
It's not a protest.

It's just that I saddled up to the word processor this morning, and flipping through a couple of new sites, I discovered I was heading right back down into that media saturation point.
The obsession with up-to-the-nanosecond news. I tried listening to the radio, but that didn't work, either.
It's like one of those quart-sized glasses of ice tea, and I upend a sugar-shaker over it. I keep pouring the sugar into it until the sugar itself won't dissolve anymore.
But I keep pouring that sugar in, and it starts to form a pile along the bottom of the glass. Still more.
I know I should stop, but watching that refined white powder cascade into the bottom the glass, no matter how much I stir, it just won't dissolve anymore.
What's the scientific term for that? Saturation?

I hate my own advice.

I was up at 6 AM Tuesday morning. Trying to finish writing some horoscopes, get in a little extra work before work. I still find it distasteful to heed my own advice, but heed I will.
While I was killing a few minutes, searching for elusive muses, I flipped through a couple of journals and I'm going to swipe one idea: Wide Open Spaces Fly Home.
The question of whether I'm "for" the war, or "against" the war has come up. I was chatting with a former journalist who actually covered "Gulf War I," and she concurred plus cited physical evidence that there's something that the government is holding back on, i.e., that little voice in the back of my mind that keeps telling me I don't know the whole story - I don't.
But I'm all for the right to speak my mind.
I have the distinct pleasure and honor to live in a country where I can say I think my commander-in-cheif is not my favorite. But I had a little lesson in military discipline a few years ago, and what I learned was that the team has to have a leader.
I'm working part-time for this one guy. It was a favor for a friend, originally. I almost like the job, on some days. Other days, the boss man is complete horse's ass. The company's structure is very simple. One man signs the checks. One man makes all the calls as to who does what when and where. Very simple, it's all his business, all his show, he's the boss. When I first started working there, I questioned some of the practices, but as I learned, the man knows how to run his business. I do what I'm told, and I'm given fair degree of leeway, but there are certain guidelines I'm supposed to follow. Plus ask permission instead of assuming.
I can't locate the source, but there was a quote about the Dixie Chicks, a few years ago, "They sound like Country Music, but they dress like 20 year olds." To which the Chicks replied, "because we are twenty something?"
Duck Soup starring the Marx Brothers. That song, you know?

In other news

BBC ran this little article. I was really just watching the news, wondering if they were starting to drop bombs or anything, and I stumbled across that article.
I wanted something light, to break the tone. Working in East Austin, I ordered a breakfast taco from a lady who refers to me as "amigaito." (We worked through the pronunciation several times before I got it right; it's a hard G.) Spanish for "little friend." She doesn't speak much - if any - English. The guy I bought a coke from called me "sahib." "That's 'sir' in my language," he graciously explained. From India, originally, I've watched as he flawlessly shifts through at least three different languages, Mexican, Texan, and his native tongue. Claims five, I believe.
The guy who runs the cleaners waved to me, and I wanted to stop and chat, but I had a bevy of minor problems eating away at my afternoon, just day-to-day management chores. Oh yes, did I mention he's from Egypt originally?
Several years ago, when I was in Seattle, I made a comment, something to the effect of, "Just because I'm from Texas doesn't mean I voted for him."
What's better, it's recorded here, on the website, buried in the old journal someplace. It was good for a laugh at the time.
Doesn't mean that I'm not patriotic, nor does it mean that I'm an outspoken anarchist, nor, for that matter, does it mean much of anything of merit, other than I probably tend to vote democratic. Or Green, these days.
I'm wondering if I'm about to be shunned by whole groups, or worse, censored, because of my not-really-that-outspoken political beliefs?
Or, for that matter, my not really that far left-of-center point-of-view?
Colonel Travis, where are you when we need you now?
(Which is a reference, of course, to his note from the Alamo.)

astrofish, fish tails, fish tales, and ten years on the road

You know what really bites? I mean, I was leaning towards cutting down on portions of my ferocious road schedule as the year started, and with two trips that fizzle instead of sizzle, it's wearing on the soul.
Not to mention wearing out the cash reserves. What really is too bad, though, is that the material that I gather when I do trips like that. Thunderclouds over the West Texas sky. A skyline itself, which stretches as far as the eye can see.
Talking about the way the cacti look in full bloom.
Plus there's the people. Some are clients, some are paid readings. Some are just background noise. Some of it is really good material.
The old bellman, complaining about his legs, "Yes, I'm from East Texas, but my wife couldn't stand it there, 'Too many trees,' she said."
I was certainly busy taking notes, and it hasn't been that long since I was out in that area, just about three months ago.
The price of oil. The price of gasoline. The new high school football stadium. To be honest, I think there are some junior colleges with less impressive stadiums - football is more than a sport, it's akin to a religion. But that might be regional.
Just the tip, too, as there's a ton of more material out there.
I mentioned one dive bar in one town, and its name gets instant recognition, "Hey, are they doing the bull riding thing again? I mean, is it time for that now?"
There's still something intangible about surfing all 20 channels in a motel room, lying on the bed, watch smoke curl up towards the ceiling, settling into watch a rerun of some movie you've seen before. It's like it's a waste of time, and yet, it's oddly comforting, too.
It's the road.

Requiem for a lifestyle

It's been bothering me for a few weeks. That concept of "ten years on the road" is wearing me out. I thought about it as I was having "chez hotel" food, reading the local [Friday's edition> newspaper, Sunday morning. Another reader asked if I got my breakfast coupon. Huh?
"Yeah, five bucks off the price of breakfast. Ask at the desk."
If I have to worry about $5 off the price of breakfast, in fact, if I have to eat hotel food, then there's a problem.
Love the area, the love the people. Learned a lot. But I've got to face a few facts, like I'm barely covering expenses on this last trip. Might actually be a few dollars in the hole. That's not working.
Ten years ago, I was a younger man.
Doesn't mean that I won't visit, or I won't still consider the Permian Basin as a possible home away from home, but it also means I won't work any more events out this way. Gave it my best shot, tried the best that I know how to do, but I'm not making it.
Two hours southwest of MAF [airport code for Midland-Odessa airport>, there's some of the prettiest country in the world. Maybe that's more like 4 hours. I guess it depends on how you drive.
Love the countryside, love the stories. But with profit margins that are razor thin, I've got to watch expensive overhead that doesn't carry its own weight.
The requiem part plays in when I think about the stories.
At one location, we were in the ballroom on the second floor of the hotel. "You don't have to be psychic," I quipped, "look out the window and you can see next week."
I got called "delicate." Now it's a joke. Then it was serious.
Watching clouds recede as the company plane made its hasty ascent, the sun just setting, first to our left, then behind, blazing back to Austin, I thought about the clouds. Watched a tornado funnel form then go away on the road to Lubbock one time.
There's usually a reading or two that tickles me, either the chart, the client, something. Sunday afternoon was no different.

Outskirts of hell: West Texas motel

So Mac the Aura Camera guy sidles up to me, "You see that triple Aries, if you could saddle that, I'll bet you could ride it."
Yeah, right. Mac's other funny comment was about an apparently attractive woman, "Too rich for you?" I asked.
"I think she owns most of the land between here and Amarillo, yes, a little out of my league. I like the ones with low self-esteem and poor judge of character."
"Kramer, you know what this guy over here is doing?"
No, but his sign read, "Women: I'll take away all the pain ever caused by men - past life or this life."
"Look, Kramer, you could learn to do that. Thirty seconds, thirty dollars, all it takes. And he does it without even using his hands. Why are you blushing?"

Beware of the Ides of March: Friday Five!

Which was going to be presentation style bullet points from the airport. But I get a little long-winded at times.
5) Happens a lot these days, as I slipped my boots off for the metal detector, "Nice boots," comment from the guard. My reply? "Handmade in El Paso, Texas."
4) CapMetro, Austin's frequently maligned public transportation just flat works well. I walked, more like trundled because I was toting my roller-carry-on full of show stuff, out of the apartment office at 5:00 PM sharp. Caught the elusive 5 PM bus downtown, picked up a cup of coffee at the Hideout, served perfectly by a Virgo, and stepped over to the "Airport flyer" bus stop, literally around the corner. Three minutes later, #100 pulled up, and 20 minutes after that, I was in line to check my bag. Elapsed time? Less than 45 minutes. Cost? Retail value was 50 cents. I have a monthly bus pass. Last time I took cab in the evening, from East Austin, it took over an hour for the cab to show up and I barely made it to the flight on time. Cost me $25, too. I'm starting to think that the Cap Metro route is far superior.
3) I don't normally respond posts at work, but I couldn't resist. One of the tenants posted here, and just as I was hitting the "submit" button, he walked in the door. Freaked me out.
2) Which reminded me about the time I figured the airport shut down its wireless network after, like say, maybe 8 PM. But not so - from unverified reports - in downtown Austin. "I was checking my e-mail, at 6th & Congress, at 11 at night."
1) Funniest thing I read all day, at least, so far: "Nothing is more senseless than applying Rogaine to a receding mohawk." (New York Times Review of Books, Feb 9, 2003, p. 6).
0) After a fill of Salt Lick BBQ, I stepped outside one last time, into the cooling evening air. Almost direct overhead, I couldn't stop gazing, Jupiter was almost directly lined up with the moon.
-1) When I was ordering that BBQ, the woman working the block was obviously of Hispanic origin, and the guy taking the order said something in Spanish, to which the black man assisting her, said something back. I could follow the Spanish, it was something along the lines of, "Aren't you done with that yet, (expletive)." The Latino pointed at the African-American, "Yeah, he speaks better Spanish than I do." And they all laughed. I replied, "Sure, it's an Austin thing."
-2) I was not in a "hair metal band" in the 1980's. Stop asking. Nor was it a heavy metal band. I wasn't in any band, especially not a metal band, in the 1980's!
-3) Time for that song again, "Did you ever see Dallas from a DC-9 at night?" Damn flight made a stop in Dallas.
-4) Blame it on the BBQ.

Thursday's Fun Day!

Usually, it's a really interesting day, at best. Scopes go up, and I get a ton of mail. I received some of the nicest, sweetest, kindest notes in yesterday's mailbag. Then, I got exactly one that was really intended to be hurtful.
I'd post the email address and the note, but I thought carefully about what I was doing. The note, in brief capital letters, suggested that I was always wrong.
Work with me here, put on the thinking cap. If the scopes don't work, you're not being forced to read them, if you don't like them, and they irritate the crap out of you, then why bother to access them? Why click through in the first place? It's not like this material is being force-fed, right?
I was chatting with a distant friend on the phone when the mail hit, and I looked at it, and since I was trying to guess the next baby's gender, I really wasn't too worried about the e-mail. Upset me a little, like it always does, but not so much that I worried too much about it.
The considerations I went through, and I had to think about this, but when someone fires off a note like that, it's usually some person who's dealing with Saturn issues. Or Pluto. Or maybe it's Leo [Jupiter> and that gets them down.
Granted, I pour a lot of work into the scopes, and frankly, it's not always rewarding, but I got a ton of nice mail Thursday morning. Put me in a great mood. I spent half an hour with a tenant, hanging around outside under a century old Live Oak. Ostensibly, we were discussing a lease. Practically, we were discussing the relative merits of living with a girlfriend. I was going to get a new lease out of him, either way, whether he stays or moves to a new apartment. Turned into a jocular, lively conversation.
I replied to the person [unknown sign, unknown gender> with a simple "thanks for writing in" response. I'll admit, I was motivated, in part, by desire for revenge. Simple, human desire to strike back. Plus, if the email address was operational, I could post it.... but never mind that now.
My aim missed. In a few, short, kind words, I thanked them for taking the time to write in. Some days, the irony is lost on the ironic generation.
At the same time, I got another e-mail. Really made my night:
> I read your horoscopes for pure literary enjoyment...It is absolutely

> wonderful to read such interesting and beautifully written little stories

> every week...
Time to go Midland, the last shuttle for West Texas tonight.

Wednesday's afternoon

I popped round to Sonic, sort of the long way home, picking up a chili cheese dog. Love that stuff, from time to time. Unidentified meat wrapped in casing of unidentified origins, smothered in a sauce that's guaranteed to harden arteries at twenty paces, topped off with some kind of yellow cheese substitute that's probably made from nothing but chemicals. Nope, nothing natural in all of those ingredients.
Detouring around behind Steamboat, heading for Sonic, I was watching a band unload for a South By South West showcase, or so I'm guessing. You know what it looked like? The drummer, absolutely, has it the worst. Them guitar players, they can sling a thin-bodies guitar in a soft case over their guitar-playing shoulders pretty easy. But the drummer? His full kit has to be unloaded and set up.
"Ten years on the road, man." I was chatting with a future tenant about that, musician type. Weekends are road trips, doing all the hotspots. San Angelo. That blues club in Alpine. El Paso, San Antonio, Galveston, Executive Surf Club in Corpus Christi. Sounds really familiar.
Really familiar. The first year I was traveling a good deal, I would spend a whole evening or maybe more, getting everything together. Crystals, sea salt, tablecloth, paper, flyers, business cards, selecting the correct tarot deck to travel with, checking my charts for where the moon and the planets would be, all sorts of preparations.
Tape recorder, blank tapes, batteries. Printer and printer cable. Extension cords. Banners.
I hauled two suitcases up on the bed. One is my standard "show" bag. Has everything in it. The second is a slightly larger, still "carryon" size case. Empty the bare essentials out of the show bag throw in two clean shirts (heavy starch), clean pair of jeans, make sure I had enough blank paper for printing up charts, and I was done.
Elapsed time: less than fifteen minutes.
I own a huge collection of tarot cards. But for traveling, I usually carry one small deck in my computer bag, and for working, I carry a larger "show" deck with my work gear. Simple enough.
Looking at that drummer unloading his kit reminded me why I opted for the tools that I use. Simplicity. Got to keep it simple.
Midland-Odessa, Permian Basin, this weekend. It also marks the tenth year I've been hitting that area, for this work.
What's so strange, is that I still hear another reader's voice in my head, a fellow out of the Dallas area, telling me how folks just lined for readings in Midland. Busy as could be, the whole time. Never has been my experience there, but that could be me.

Various thoughts, moral and diverting?

Perhaps this is too much naval-gazing, but then, what's a journal for?
I was talking to a tenant the other afternoon. Young kid. Switching from English to Computer Science, if I recall. When he was moving in, I noticed he had a Power Book, and I allowed as how I was pretty firmly entrenched in the Apple camp, myself.
Which makes me wonder, I mean, if this is a Dell town, why do I see nothing but Apple notebooks everywhere? Never mind that now.
Me and this one tenant, we were discussing web journals, weblogs and so forth. He saw my SXSW Interactive brochure, and he was curious.
I might have the quote wrong, but I believe he said something like, "I am so going next year."
Yeah, me too.
He mentioned one web log he reads, and that got a chuckle from me. "Yeah, I had dinner with him last night. Didn't know who he was until he told me his URL."
At that dinner table, there were several folks I would consider big players in the business. Young men, full of vision and drive, making piles of money, pursuing dreams and riches. Pushing, searching , working hard. Playing hard. Eating pho, too. Listening to several of them recount stories about foreign lands, got me thinking, especially when I had a chance to reflect a little.
Late twenties, early thirties, someplace in there, making a lot more in a week than I make in a month or two. Drive. Ambition. Building empires.
So what's wrong with me? Why aren't I fabulously wealthy these days? Why aren't I guest speaker? In one example, we started about the same time, but I pursued literary arts instead of almighty dollars. I don't begrudge these gentlemen one little bit.
But I'm just not wired that way.
I can't eat, sleep, live and love just a single pursuit. Too much to do. There's a trail, an afternoon saunter through downtown Austin, a quick espresso at a favorite coffee shop, some trashy novel that's fun, albeit not very mind-expanding. The cat needs to be petted.
"You know, if you just do (and figure some business advice here), then you can make a lot more money...." Or get a real job. Full time. Skip horoscopes.
But I just don't understand that kind of dedication to a job, to single-minded pursuit of nothing else.
I did, at one time, consider a three-year contract. Deal was, I was free to do what I wanted weekends, weeknights, and so forth. In other words, the big, corporate job wasn't such a big deal. Plus, that deal was close-ended. Three years, and I was free to pursue web antics, in any way, shape or form, on the side.
Later today, I'm going to drop a couple of RAM modules off with one of the tenants. Market price on one of them is over $100. I'm just giving it away as it doesn't fit anything I've got, and he's got computer sitting there that can use it. We chatted briefly yesterday, he was editing up some video on his Mac.
I suppose, I could take the time to shoot a digital picture, post it on eBay, and collect some dollars for it. Too much trouble, really.
Which is why I'm not making the big bucks.
Back to the temp job.

So it was another afternoon of pretending to be busy when there really wasn't a whole lot going on. I grabbed a list of apartments that needed to have new batteries installed in their smoke detectors. Not a difficult task, in and of itself, but I got to the first smoke detector, and the little battery latch didn't work the way I thought it should.
"Look, don't laugh, how do you put the battery in these new units?" I asked, after I dug my electronic leash out of my pocket - the company cell phone.
(background giggling)
"Push the two prongs together, that releases the little clip thing from the wall cord, and then the battery thing slides open."
Sure enough.
Third floor apartments, two different buildings, lots of up and down stairs for a nine-volt battery. I was a little worried, though, after I tested the first smoke alarm, and I stepped back out on the stoop, I heard the distant wail of sirens. Getting closer. And closer still. I stopped, and looked. A fire truck raced down the street, stopped, made an abrupt turn right in front of the apartments, and then motored away.
I was just sure I'd somehow managed to set off the smoke detector, and they were all rushing in the pay me a visit.

South By So What

Day Two. Looking for that Pot of Gold

(subtitle: at the end of the rainbow)
Some random observations. About half the notebook computers, maybe more, are Apple Titanium Powerbooks, or variations of iBooks, but mostly Apple. Might be me. But I counted less than a dozen other computers out, and the Apple notebook seemed rather prevalent.
Conference attendees: mostly male. 80%, and of that 80%, 90% or better were white.
Guessing at ages, I'd suggest the preponderance of numbers were in their 20's, but that's just my estimate. Web movers and shakers. The web is is the natural home for geekiest. My people, as some of my associates would suggest. Still, makes me feel old.
I didn't follow any one track, I just meandered in out of workshops, picking and choosing the titles that sounded either appropriate or informative.
What sucked: "Web Traffic Jam" workshop. It was an outline with a tepid Power Point "three bullet" slide presentation. Got all that data on the handout, which included the presenter's upcoming book title, to be released this summer. Doubt I'll buy that book. What I learned, and this isn't new information, was about meta keywords, crap usually buried in the header of a web page. Seems that search engines check the keywords then see if they occur in the page itself. I'll be trimming my keyword list, and playing with a few other sites I manage, to see if it helps. But there was one useful tidbit, I'll put a "subscribe here" slot on the front page, in about a week when I can roll out the new layout. The data in the workshop didn't suck, I was just offended by a really uninviting set of slides.
The next workshop was about publishing, delving into the fine line between print and web publishing. Okay, side note here, I first encountered Ben Brown in an SXSW workshop a few years ago. He was an inspired kid, obviously still brimming with youthful, somewhat misplaced enthusiasm. Different kid these days. Older. More piercings. Slightly better groomed. And he's now running a micropublishing company. Handmade books. Cool stuff. Plus, he acknowledged that he has the same trouble with local media that I do. I felt an instant bond, "Yeah buddy, the local 'alt weekly' isn't really that alt, is it?"
He also pointed out the power of the diversified web. When "The Onion" reviewed one of his books, he sold a half dozen copies. When Jason Kottke wrote about the same book, So New Media sold, "like, a hundred."
The other panelist, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to chat, but I had a bus to catch, was the Rogue Librarian. Support your public library.
Humor, presented by this Aquarius who was really funny. But the audience missed some of the humor. When he got to showing some of his sites, I realized that I'd linked to several of humorous pieces over the years.
What really caught my attention was one of his opening comments about his mother being "a super anal, like, triple Capricorn...."
Since his day job was a "secret projects at GM," I had to ask if flying cars are in our future. "I get that question of lot. Look: they can't even parallel park, what happens when you add a Z vector. No way."
I snuck into the last few minutes of the "adult webmaster" workshop, and I picked up one quote: "A friend runs a spanking website; it's aimed mostly at women."
Pud, over dinner after that workshop, admitted he was a little disappointed because most of the adult presenters were folks who ran the businesses as sideline or a hobby.
Dinner was pho, and there were a couple of big time folks there. I begged out to hit the "H-town bloggers" and DFWBloggers" happy hour. I saw one stand up two-minute act by a local critic, and I left with a pounding headache and very tired feet.

SXSW first afternoon

I missed the web awards, and I barely got to hang out with anyone. Not that it mattered much.
THe only workshop I managed was Zeldman presenting two "web personalities" and it was titled "because we can."
While it was an interesting panel and all, and I meant to get that kid's URL, the young guy who was from UT, and he had just started doing his web log.
Couple of points that I gathered, and there was much hilarity between the presenter and the two other panel dudes, Zeldman talked about how his personal sites and his labors of love get sidetracked, or put on hiatus, while he he works on paying projects. Like writing a book.
Another point that let me ponder some, especially the "What do I know dot org" guy, was how he discussed that his critically acclaimed web portfolio was getting a broader audience, and more business was being generated by his web journal. In effect, what was happening, is that he picked up clientele from his journals, folks who liked his print personality and that generated business more so than has regular portfolio.
I missed the rest of the evening because, frankly, after a quick road trip to Dallas, I was just too worn out to get out and party all night long.
I stopped out on the verandah for smoke, and I listened to one guest holding forth about his upcoming presentation. The title was something about conceptual firewalls, but had nothing to do with hacking servers. He did make a very valid point, though, about the web. See, it's all predicated on English. I'll be the first to explain that my work, as it appears on the web, doesn't translate to other languages well. Or other cultures. But all I also point to my refer log and that shows decent percentage of my readership comes from places besides Texas. Explaim that.

Alarming trend

First, it was the feds visiting me at one job. I couldn't have been nicer - which surprised the field agents. Then it was two officers. At least one APD wasn't too surprised, because I've been solicitous of his welfare in past encounters. Friday night, it was the local police at the door again, this time, at the folks' place. Why?
Changed the damn alarm code again. Forgot to tell me.
No big deal, really, call someone who knows the right code, which was funny, in and of itself, because she couldn't remember the correct code, either, but she did accurately describe the sequence of buttons that worked.
By the times the cops got there, I was still talking on my cell, handing the officers my wallet with ID, and so forth. We were all standing around the front door, haven't gone in yet, just being as good citizens should. Sets a tone for the weekend. That's three, don't want anymore.
Dallas to Austin, door-to-door, three hours, 192 miles, three hours. No cops, justwent the speed limit, een though I was traveling with a lawyer.

From the "damn, why didn't I think of that" department:

Russia Army stages beauty contest. I suppose it's all about marketing.
Marketing is something I've never completely understood. Looks like the Army understands it, though.
Even comic character's seem to have some grasp of the concept.
But can this backfire?
Something about being in Dallas brings up these thoughts. Family business, but business nonetheless.

Napping flint, binary construction

I spent close to a year worrying my way through some technical aspects of web design just so I could make my own life easier, especially when it came to managing a live horoscope, automatically delivered, every Wednesday night at midnight. Didn't want it to interfere with the rest of my carefully crafted lifestyle.
And it's been several years now since I have had a fateful failure. Out of concern, I try to make sure I'm by a computer screen at midnight because, to be truthful, I never do trust these infernal machines that much. Just to check up.
I was quietly reclined Wednesday night, noticed that the scopes should've rolled over, so I got my self up from the futon, and logged back on. Remember dial-up connections? Yeah, like that.
Oops, no scopes. Two e-mails. One was a paid client, nice note and an apology, "Tech issues, we're working on it."
But then there were two more, check that time stamp: "12:10 AM" - and the tone of the complaint, too. When all I see is text, I can only judge by what the text message is.
I did a quick bit of work in a slow text editor, and fashioned up a late night work around that wasn't terribly elegant. But it worked. Then Thursday night, I was supposed to meet a computer client, but I also knew that I needed to be clear-headed and clear thinking to sort through some of the problem and affect a good fix. We put off the meeting for another evening.
Nicknamed the temporary fix "kluge" because that's exactly what it is. Really basic layout tricks, nothing fancy. But the page size bloated from a handful kilobytes to over 70. Load time blossomed, too.
It's a temporary work around until I get my main system back on line.
But it did bring up that thought again, some way, if I could just make a dollar for every adamant reader, this sort of issue wouldn't be an issue.
To be honest, I think I should get two bucks for every strident, demanding oftentimes demeaning message. But maybe that's just me.
Thinking about it, when I ask a service person what his or her birthday is, I usually tip a little bit better, just for my intrusion, for humoring me.
Which goes back to the larger question of passing up on making some big bucks doing computer work for a client, plus getting a decent meal out of the deal, probably BBQ, and skipping all that, just so I throw together a quick, inelegant "kluge"?

Tech issues resolved, well sort of...

I'm using a PowerBook 2400c/180. I got to messing around in its System Folder [system resources for the computer>, and I found one little extension that wasn't loaded, so I tried that, slipping in the cheap Ethernet card, trying one last time to get the cable modem to come up. No luck.
While I was digging around that hard drive, though, I did stumble across an important piece of software, a very old e-mail program. I'm not back on a backbone connection, and I'm limping around the net at a very slow dial-up speed. That's the downside. But I've quickly adapted to working with a simple text editor again, brushing up my skills on a micro keyboard and generally making the best of a backup situation.
The real hardware got launched, courtesy of that sweet Pisces and "last call" dash to the airport, back in its Apple crate. I always look for the best in humanity, but I'm not really expecting that Apple will bounce that hardware back to me in five business days - not that it matters, though.
I was a bemoaning my current digital state to a buddy, and he allowed as how it was a lot like "napping flint" to work on this machine. Pretty nice analogy. Yes, I'm stuck in the stone age for a spell. I suppose, though, that it's a little better than banging two rocks together to make binary.

Holly Street Protest

I'm a little out of the loop on this one because I'm so far from being decided, either way. On the very eastern edge of Town Lake, backed up into a barrio, there's the Holly Street Power Plant.
When I was reading yesterday's Daily Texan, there was a front page story with excellent graphics. But like student journalism, and like student needs to protest something, the coverage was rather one-sided.
Big, splashy graphic of people with drums and native gear who were protesting the power plant. – that much was good. But the ensuing column inches, of which there was relative paucity, completely neglected a couple of points.
I won’t even claim to know the whole story, but I lived across the lake from that plant for a while, and I pass it frequently on the trail that winds behind it.
So how about the fuel oil spills? Been two that I know, or some other kind of spill. Not actually one that got the HAZMAT team out, but I’m certainly not fishing downriver from that place.
There's the other side of that equation, too. How much energy (read: electrical power) does the Holly Street plant provide? That one, really hot summer? That plant kept a portion of Austin cool.
I'm actually rather fond of that barrio, but the onerous image of a derelict power plant hanging over its head has to detract from the value. In my mind, I could see taking that old plant and turning its existing structure into some pretty weird architectural fantasies, a cross between Mad Max and Blade Runner. It could happen.
Where do I fit in? I don't. One of those summers when that plant was busy churning out juice, I was pretty sure that's what kept my apartment cool – and kept my computer running. But then, I've also enjoyed talking to the guys who do fish in the little outlet, just downriver from that plant, literally, less than 50 meters from the eastern edge where the water comes roiling out. I watched as a grizzled fisherman pulled a 3-foot long drum out. I asked about his catch. "Basically, it's carp."

The Change

I knew this was coming along, I knew I had to be ready for it, but even with the best mental preparation, I still wasn't quite ready for this to happen.
There was a knock on the front door. Package delivery service, bright and early, and me, looking my haggard best.
"Sign here," the driver said, and I wasn't sharp enough to say, "Sagittarius."
It's an Apple box. Apple Crate? Sure. Off goes the main computer I've been using for most near two years now. Close to 18 months.
I held onto a much preferred "sub-notebook" as a back up unit, hopeful that I would never have to actually use it. No such luck.
This little PowerBook was the end of Apple's "duo" line. Quite a performer, in its day. I spent hours wrestling - unsuccessfully - to get an inexpensive ethernet card to work. Failing at that, I'm back to using a dialup modem for most of my work.
To be fair, my emergency plans are pretty well thought out. Got the basic astrology engine running. Have the website all rolled up and prepared. I can work off this baby machine for the next few weeks, if need be.
Everything is backed up in triplicate. No worries, it's just the inconvenience of doing it this way. Not the way I'm accustomed to working.
The keyboard is tiny, and yet, the little machine - its actual size is almost identical to the new 12-inch Aluminium PowerBook - feels robust enough. It's just that I can't hit the usual surf spots. Even my own page barely renders correctly on the tiny screen. Although, it is pretty crisp, I think it's 96 dpi instead of the usual 72.
And having to step back in time, that's what I'm doing. No printer. No trackball, just a broken clicker on the trackpad of tis little machine.
No calendar. And frankly, after some of the self-imposed hoops I've jumped through for this, I'm not interested in going through whatever it takes to get from "here" to "there," at least, not digitally.
There are two pocket-sized hard drives with backups. Another free standing unit with a backup. Camera - webcam - phone, organizer, calendars, all of that, not here now. No CD burner.
I could plug in an old CD drive, but even then, there's not much room for that. This is going to be a challenge. Just how used to certain conveninces are we? And what happens when it's gone? Even if this is only for a few days - the rep said it would be back in five days? Sure, I believe that. We'll see.

Gray Sunday afternoon.

Weather didn't bother me a bit. I hopped by the apartment's office, seeing as how it was the first of the month and all, and I kept hearing a voice in my head, "With 57% of the precincts reporting, we have declared a winner...."
It was that tone of voice from way back, long ago when less than 10% of the vote gave an indication of the way an election was running. Back when talking heads were dry, and their delivery was even drier, almost to the point of being barren.
All of that was going through my head while I was tabulating rent checks.
Devota showed me a couple of handy shortcuts for handling all those checks, and at first, I thought it created more work. Turns out, she was right, yet again. As the afternoon moseyed along, I filled out all the rent rolls, the adjunct paperwork, and filled up the deposit slips, the office copier ran out of toner. I couldn't find any more replacement cartridges, so that was it for the afternoon. Cut loose a little early due to lack of office supplies.
From there, it was relaxed afternoon at The Hideout with a caffeinated group discussing the recent article about bloggers in the local paper.
What's the difference between a blogger and web journal writer? Virtually none, but near as I can discern, there seems to be a definite division. I'd wonder about age as a factor, more than anything else.
In my case, it's really simple. I was overseas, and I didn't have a phone jack for a European phone line. And did I have a juicy entry. Plus, I had the time to write it, sitting in an Amsterdam coffee shop.
So I was motivated to move all the journaling process over to "blogware" - simply put, in case that ever happens again.
If there really is a division, though, my argument that age separates the bloggers from the web journal writers, then 1> my apparent lack of emotional maturity should easily land me in the blogger's camp, and 2> Josh's journal.
We stepped out side the Hideout for a smoke break. A homeless guy asked me for some spare change then said that I looked like Robert Plant. Or Jimmy Page, he wasn't sure which one. Then there was that whole "blog versus web journal" discussion.
"It's all experimental," I was saying.
"Yeah, I'm just looking to find my voice," was Josh's response.
And that's what it's all about.

Silly business algorithms.

I ran across this game on MeFi a couple of days ago, saved the link, and toyed with it a time or two.
Saturday afternoon, a Gemini buddy returned my [signed> copy of Pud's book.
Running an enterprise, like "Fishing Guide to the Stars" [empire, live bait & sushi, used tires and apartments for rent> was a game for a while. Just like that stupid "Lemonade Stand."
I'm not running out of money, per se, but I'm tired of dancing around to make ends meet. It's not fun anymore.
Like that Lemonade Stand, though, I can't find a decent business model. There are two ways to do it, either become some kind of astrology hegemony, like the big boys and girls, or worse, evolve into a fascist astrological regime, again, like the big boys and girls.
Neither of those two options is appealing.
I'm just hoping for a silver bullet to show me the way to make all this work. As it is, it's working okay, but I know there's something missing. That one piece to the puzzle.
Or, I was hoping for a model to follow because I'm damn tired of blazing trails.
"Kramer was here, he left his hatch mark."
Roundabout answer, maybe...

I've been successfully churning out horoscopes for over a decade now. Been paid handsomely, or, as of late, not at all, for the work. Written for magazines, newspapers, at one point, I was working on three weekly columns at one time. These days, I'm down to one. I like it like that. Works for me. I got off on a web search for something or other, maybe it was from looking for that pager company's website, or the cell phone or whatever, but I kept stumbling around, reading the first line of paragraph, then skipping down the page and reading a line here and a line there.
There were three distinct items I ran across, one was an article wherein the author, rather cutely, inserted some random words because he was sure that everyone was skimming and not actually reading the article itself. I found that funny because it was what I was doing, but I stopped long enough to peruse the random gibberish.
Then came a link from Pud's site, about Shift magazine going under, and one of the articles linked from the link, was about a new movie and the blogger who's getting to write a blog about the making of that movie.
Finally, there was the writer's own journal, and as much as I enjoy that author's works, I wonder if the blog is nothing more than a marketing tool. What I liked about that one entry was the way he described the organic process of developing a thematic element.
The sequence of the events was important, because that's how I started to arrive my conclusions. Or, better yet, just ask questions. I'd hate to think that Willaim Gobson was just doing an online journal for the sake of marketing his book. That's a terible thought. From what I've gathered asbout him, including a really old Rolling Stone article, he is a writer. And from the content of the online stuff, he's jsut randomly associating and not doing anything new or groudbreaking. Sometimes short, sometimes long, sometimes a few non sequitors, nothing unusual. The first guy was was writing for entertainment. Pure and simple. Doubt it's a paid position. But the movie's site? The target is obviously to generate a buzz - and make people go to movies.
Where was I going with this? I forgot. "You kids, quit throwing beer cans on my lawn."

Computer woes, again.

It's not like this is really big problem, but I have second Handsrping Visor I took back to Fry's, for the second time. Color, too. Cool. Doesn't work anymore. Not cool. Has a 2-year replacement warranty. Cool. They don't have anymore of that model. Not cool.
I left the apartment's office a little after 5 yesterday afternoon. I meandered along surface streets, spending close to an hour chatting with my sister on the cell phone. We had some serious business to transact, and sitting in traffic seemed like the best place to take care of this. Lost signal twice, once under the freeway, and once by the University. But other than that, it was okay. I drove carefully, albeit a little slower than most, just trying to be courteous, besides, I was really trying to make the most of the time I was in the car.
In rush hour traffic, Friday, it still took almost an hour to get there. Maybe more than an hour. Then there was Friday Night at Fry's. Took the replacement crew a little while to come up with a decent alternative, too, seeing as how they were out of stock for that Prism Visor, and they didn't see anymore being made. Which they're not.
What they offered me was a Sony Clie. I'll be damned if I know how to pronounce it. Klee? Clay? Klee-AY? Whatever.
Price tag was higher, it was color, looked smaller, seemed like a good deal. Which goes back to voice mail hell, and the idea of getting a new phone, too. Replace one unit with two. Not sure i like going that way, but then, I'm not sure that I have much of an option, either. It's either free stuff - the price is right - or it's a costly alternative, and frankly, these days, I'm not looking to spend anymore cash upfront on any tech toys.
Super-zoot-cool phones are nice enough, and love the small size, but there's a problem, if that phone sees a lot of use. Mine does. Usually, that use and abuse comes in the form of carriage. Like, pants pockets, shorts pockets, carryon baggage, and so on. Same for a handheld. What I really use the pocket organizer for is keeping track of appointments. Might just have to go a backwards compatible paper thing. I wouldn't be so interested in having this discussion but the dual-purpose phone is no longer that attractive because it takes up too much space. Plus the battery weighs, like, several ounces or something.
Simplify, simplify. That's the motto. I'm not sure I'm moving in the right direction. I did accept the Clie, and I'll see how that goes for the next few days, but it might be going back, too. I'm just sure as heck not trying to drive to north Austin during rush hour, not if I don’t have some long-winded conversation to maintain my interest.
The trip home? After an hour and half at the store? Took less than 20 minutes. All I could do, besides bemoan the fact that one of my buddies was no longer on the radio? Wonder why folks would leave right at 5 when, if they waited for ah hour or two, it would take a lot less time. I'm just surprised that there aren't more folks doing a time shift to beat traffic.
That's twice this year I've been stuck in rush hour traffic. That's two times too many.
"He asked me to marry him, and then he fell off his chair, the best introduction to Kramer ever." [Scorpio>.


Feast Day of Saint Romanus

According to my source, St. Romanus was a fifth century patron of the insane. Anyone who's ever been on hold while waiting on a "customer care representative" needs this saint.
I've been playing phone games trying to resolve a number of issues. One is a "cell" phone, which, I suppose, is a misnomer because cell phones are, anymore, just digital and not analog, i.e., not truly "cellular." Another is an MIA pager. Has voice mail attached to it. Number still works, but the pager is gone. Lost someplace between Corpus Christi and the front door at home.
It took several days of sleuthing to uncover the right phone number to order up a new pager. And until it arrives, there's that voice saying, "leave a message," but I have no way to retrieve the message.
I keep thinking that I want to replace the phone I've got, but frankly, I like a phone that can do an astrology chart, play Tetris, and takes notes. Plus it keeps track of all my numbers.
Then there's the weather. Monday was cold. Tuesday was frozen. Wednesday, it thawed then froze. Thursday? Half way through the day, as I pulled the brow of my cap down lower, not a cloud in the sky, I was busy wondering why I'd worn two shirts no sunglasses. Oh, that' right, it was cold and miserable when I left the park.
After scanning the weather stats, and various prognostications, I'm thinking, maybe by noon today, I can be wearing shorts.
The freeze earlier in this week probably killed the hibiscus. And later in the same week, I'm thinking about wearing shorts again.

Tech issues Thursday

The kitty cam has a placeholder picture in place. Just dredged something up from the archives, and added a line of text. "We're working on it."
Tuesday night, I unplugged one backup drive, and plugged another one in. Drive is buss-powered, and apparently susceptible to a short along the data avenue.
I did some basic maintenance, then a little troubleshooting, but what it all amounts to is that the data doesn't transfer. What good is an I/O port with no data flowing in and out?
So I started digging around for the receipt for the computer. I knew it was here someplace. I have a careful filing system, I save every receipt for everything, from automated bank deposits to ticket stubs. Have to. I've been through an audit before, and nothing is as valuable as being able to produce the exact credit card charge slip plus the restaurant's bill, with a quick synopsis of the meeting. Or the piece of paper that says "this computer has an extended three-year warranty on it." Which was the very item I was looking for.
It was a cold night, that's for sure. I had an early evening phone reading and a late evening phone reading, in the between, I emptied out all of the containers with "2002" papers therein. Big mess. No Apple Computer receipt. Bigger bummer.
This is a late 2001 computer, hence the problem with the paperwork not being in the 2002 pile.
However, along with my careful filing system, there's also another approach I use. The box the computer arrived in? That's where the paperwork for the extended warranty lay. Dug it out. At some point, I'll be off to the computer dealer to get this baby fixed.
Back up machine? Of course I've got one. It's that old, tried and true, 1998 model, a "sub notebook" sized machine. Great road tool, weighs a lot less, at one time, it had great battery life, and so on. It will handle e-mail, browsing and writing chores, but that's about it.
What to do? Read any good books lately?

Snow and Ice

Laugh, if you want. Central Texas is in the grips of the major problem with NAFTA. Must be the source. Canada exported all kinds nasty, inclement weather, and we got it by the bucket full. I tried to beg out of work, but that didn't fly as the buses were rolling, albeit slowly. I did think to pocket my camera, though, and I got a few shots of what Austin looks like when nothing is moving.
Sixth and Brazos, the El Mundo paper stand. Note the heavy layer of frozen precipitation on it.

Waiting on another bus, I noticed a cup of coffee, and note, careful examination of the image, that's a thin, long layer of crystal structure just starting to form on the surface.

As one cold patron joked, while I took the picture, "Talk about your iced mocha!"

Ten years on the road:

Sunday night, as I was driving back from the coast, I took a call on my cell phone, and talked to my parents for a while, then called my sister, out on the left coast, where it was two hours earlier. Some family business that needed attending to. Missed her, so I sat back, listened to music, and reflected about ten years on the road.
I've crisscrossed this state several times. Several times year, in fact. From the deep East Texas bayous down to the rolling Coastal Bend, to the furthest reaches in West and Far West Texas, covered it all. Squeeze in some Panhandle, and a stop on historic Route 66, just for grins. Spiritually, I suppose there's a portion of eastern New Mexico that's really in Texas, as well.
As much as I am a book person, and as much as I love to read, I'm getting a better picture of the learning experience. It doesn't come from books. To be sure, I've been entertained by print, but the important tales aren't the ones in the books; it's what happens on the road. Interaction between people.
I've used this story to illustrate a number of points, and it's one that's etched in my memory. I took several classes in "Western American Literature," which, I thought, would be slightly fluffy advanced lit classes about Writers of the Purple Sage, you know, Zane Grey, Louis Lamour, et al.
While both professors included Lonesome Dove, both professors insisted that Texas itself was not really part of the Western Heritage, nor, for that matter was Texas part of the Southern group, either. "It's its own, special place."
Sho nuff.
Lonesome Dove was just garnering awards, so it was also taught. What I recall rather distinctly, though, was one professor talking about Larry McMurty's characters, assuring us students that the characters were fictitious caricatures, drawn larger than life to embody certain narrative points.
Allow me to be a little cynical. Yeah, right. That one professor, if he were around here today, I'd introduce him to a few of my friends. Yes, one bubba is certainly a good example. And that's just one friend. Got plenty of examples.
Listening to one remark at the Journal happy hour, "I just want to go to Far West Rodeo in drag." Actual quote, name removed for the sake of anonymity. Yee-haw.
Better yet, those two? Relative tame by my standards these days.
These are current examples. Ten years ago, I worked in San Antonio, and Midland/Odessa for the first time. High school memories. Wide open spaces, the sound of the wheels on the pavement. And the clients. And their stories. Too bad I believe in a client priviliges, or I could really tell some tales. But that professor was wrong. Dead wrong. Those characters in books? They are not nearly as large, loud, and wild as the folks I've met along my pathway.
My education didn't stop at the books. One [Gemini> Literature professor hammered home a few points about observing people. He taught me to watch for little action, and he taught me how to describe the minutae. Important points. Then watch the people. Listen to the lilt of the accent, the way a particular vowel is drwn out. Try and describe that in print.
Fredlet being from West Texas and all, has a unique ability to pinpoint a Texas accent within 50 miles. That's a good ear. I'm working on it, but I still have to ask. The other day, I was stymied by a little Leo's deep [Rio Grande> Valley accent.
The road taught me to listen and observe. Ask questons respectfully. Jump right in with a helping hand when needed. Don't be afraid to let them know you "ain't from around here." Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Looking for a true, local cuisine? Just ask about that out-of-the-way taqueria. It's a platter full of steak in Sonora; it's TexMex at the crossroads in Ft. Stockton; it's Virgo perfect Eggs Benedict in Port A; it's fried oysters on Padre Island, overlooking the Coastal Waterway.
The road's been a mighty fine teacher so far. Trade this lifestyle for something else? Why? The road really does go on forever.


It was years ago, sunny winter afternoon in Corpus, on one of the highway loops around town, and I was coming home from the beach, after a working weekend. I was flipping through the radio channels, and I came across some "classic rock" wherein the local DJ announced that the song was off "Boston's first CD," which, in fact, was really an album because Boston's first release was long before there were any compact discs. Back when it was first released, we thought cassette tapes were hot, especially if the cassette was "Dolby" to kill the background hiss.
Sliding into Corpus just after daybreak, having exhausted a killer Hank III mix and not being in the mood for "Big Beat Techno," I flipped over to the radio. Not much until I hit 94.7 FM [Texas Radio>. It took two full scans of the FM dial to hit that one. I caught the spot, "(noise blah-blah )Texas Radio (something else)."
"Cool," I thought, "this could be okay."
I wonder if anyone catches the reference to an old Doors' song?
On my way out of town, looking forlorn at my two cassettes, thinking "8 PM, I'm on Padre Island, belly full of fried seafood, half a pack of cigarettes, and Austin's 180 miles...." All I needed was some sunglasses.
I flipped that "Texas Radio" back on. Mostly C&W format, but with a little bit of a twist to it, see, they were playing primarily Texas artists. Nary a Nashville tune. Then, just as I hit the highway, pointed home, The Grateful Dead's "Sugar Magnolia" backed with Wayne Hancock "Juke Joint." The only artist that I missed on that radio station was Kevin Fowler, but they had all the rest of the local performers.
My musical interlude was interrupted by the cell phone that now has coverage all the way to and from the coast. By the time I wrapped up the family business, I was out of range for that station. Interlude: Music: Response (Chemical Brothers, tasty driving tunes).
San Antonio was Heavy Metal (Steel Wheel) and Tejano, at least, that was all I could find worth listening to. But that fits so well with my understanding of the Alamo City.
Then, once I started to hit the construction congestion between SA and Austin, it was time for the old favorite, Album Rock. They were doing an Eagles' piece, you know, the band, the songs, and so forth. I got tired of that, and flipped it over to KVET [Austin Original> and u came "Depserado."

Layover in Austin

At dinner, with a table full of other psychics, seers, frauds, and assorted hangers on, I was idly chatting with an elderly reader from Dallas, an old friend. She flew down to Corpus for the working weekend, and in doing so, accrued an extra four hours while sitting on the tarmac at Love Field. Or Houston, I don't recall exactly what she said. But it's also why I opted to drive, despite my preference for letting someone else doing the driving.
When I do travel, I usually carry a book or two, something nice and fat, a little juicy, some text that needs some kind of work, and maybe a good thriller. Never can tell when I'll need something to occupy a spare minute - imagine that, weather delays in Texas?
If I had an extra four hours in Austin, I would hope that it would a be a weekday afternoon, one of the warm afternoons when I can get in a good hike on the trail, east loop down to Pleasant Valley then back to Barton Springs, going for a quick dip, then perhaps some BBQ, TexMex, Tex-Mex inspired Italian, or maybe some straight up Mexican food. Along that route, there's Bouldin Creek Caffeine Dealer, Jo's, Halcyon, The Hideout, Little City, and maybe someplace I'm forgetting. What's a good afternoon without a cigar and a decent cup of coffee?
That's just walking around, too, all within easy distance of Shady Acres. I know I missed something, but only having four hours to work with, that's about what I would do.
Even stuck at the airport, for less than four hours, that would be okay, too, imagine that you can get good BBQ [okay, just passable by my standards, but still okay>, cappuccino done right and Amy's Ice cream. Quit complaining.

Cactus and Cattle

The road down, the thin edge of the Balcones Escarpment and Edwards Uplift shadowing the Interstate. I35 to I37. The Alamo. Sunrise south of San Antonio. I-37 to the sea. I've been coming down here for ten years now. Is that too long? The music coming out of the radio caused a smile, some reflection, and finally, hitting dead air between towns, I slid in a tape.
"I may be right I may be wrong...."
Not many regrets about this trip, but I do miss not having Robert Earl Keen's "Going down in style" on tape.
I did happen on a cool station in CC, something something Texas Music. For real. Good stuff.
The road goes on forever.

Happy hour, bed, road.

Seems simple enough, right? Pick up a car and hit the road early early early Saturday morning. Throw a little mix of Hank III music in the rent car's CD, and blow on down the road. Or maybe vintage REK?

Business Models redux

From a couple of days ago, Salon dot com running out of cash?
I was reading either Metafilter or Slash Dot, and I found a link to a web hosting site that looked even better than the host I've currently got. Deal is, though I pay a little bit more, I'm grandfathered in under the "unlimited bandwidth" deal. Question is, is worth it now? I've trimmed away the excess on the page, so it's not very big. My only banners are my own, and neither of them is really that large. Not serving up a lot of images, so do I need to worry about bandwidth?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
I had a friend of a friend working for Salon at one time, making approximately four to six times as much as I was making, for a much shorter weekly column. However, that's gone away. I'm not even sure that the writer is writing anymore. That's kind of hard to fathom, in my own mind, I can't imagine not writing. But a Goggle search just turns up two and three year old columns, nothing new. No blog, no journal, no weekly posting.
I remember what an old family friend told me, "I made more in one speaking engagement than I made for all three books...."
My "sales reports" from Powell's Books was quite good, much better than Amazon. But there was a little problem. In six months, they never mailed a check. As much as it pained me, I had to go with the advertising spots that work. Amazon works. Pays two ways, the anonymous donations and the direct links. Doesn't begin to really pay for the server and bandwidth, but it's a start. Consistently a performer, and they do pay on time.
Thus far, the model hasn't changed any. The scopes - and the archives - are freely available. Do what thou wilt. Getting a jump start on the scopes, on Wednesday morning, there's a suggested donation of five bucks. No big deal. That goes to defray the headache of hitting the hotmail, AOL, yahoo, insert-an-ISP-here, spam filters, and creating nuisance for administration.
Selling astrology reports that contain much of my own observations is about the only way this place makes money. And at that, I'm still priced too high.
While I've got a sweet deal, another grandfather clause, for credit card processing, I'm still getting hit with fees. Orders under ten bucks aren't worth the effort - or time - really. Again, back to the micropayment. Still no model for that.
Salon will mutate and change. So far, though, there's just one little piece to my puzzle that's missing. I might work on it this spring.
In the meantime, I'm going to work at an event in Corpus Christi, hopefully see lots of clients, and make scads of money. At least enough to afford some good seafood, and maybe a little bit better hotel room than $29.95 a night. "The muttering retreats/Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels...."


"Poetry in Motion" is what the ad said. I was desperately looking for a sign, a symbol, a burning bush of some sort to add some meaning to my existence. Or least a little something to brighten my day.
The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock

By T. S. Eliot

"Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question...

Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'

Let us go and make our visit."
I smiled. I grinned. I pulled out the book I was reading and jotted a note in the back leaf, an empty page. I was thinking about the Texas Gulf Coast, oysters, one night in a cheap hotel down there, and up, over my head, a sign that I was looking for. On the city bus, of all places.
I've collected, over the years a series of English prints called "Poems on the Underground" because I've enjoyed the poems, the collections are at times academic and light-hearted, and perhaps, a chance to discover someone I've never read before.
Then, off to Corpus Christi this weekend. Alas, I don't have time to dawdle and compare fishing stories, no time for lonely walks on the beach. No surf. Quick trip for work. Maybe, hopefully, some good seafood.
But wouldn't it be nice to park on the sea wall in the sunlight, and read a slim volume of poetry? One of many fond memories was backing the truck up on Mustang Island, and sitting in the bed, tapping away on a hand-held computer, hoping I wasn't getting any sand in the keyboard, mashing together a column. In the winter sun, still warm by the breaking surf and receding tide with gulls wheeling overhead.
My sudden burst of inspiration on the bus also brought a smile, one of those inward grins, thinking about the number of folks who've used T.S. Eliot's poetry.
I popped that quote in front of the week's horoscope mail. I doubt it'll get much attention, but at some point, this work has to have meaning for me. Seeing those lines on the bus meant a lot to me. I've quoted it before to various compatriots, partners in crime, as it were, but I figure someone I call "Bubba" usually misses the point. Still.
Right before I spotted the lines, I was planning on where to eat Saturday night. I know a place, on the island, not quite sawdust on the floor anymore, but the feeling is the same. The oysters are usually fresh off the boat. Doesn't get much better than that - boat backs up to the pier, and unloads the fresh food straight into the restaurant.
"I do my best thinking on the bus" [Repo Man>


So the other morning that sweet and demure Pisces calls me up, "Are you open either Tuesday or Thursday?" Sure. She called Tuesday evening, after walking the dog and whatever, we got all our plans in order. Her and Cranky swept by to grab me, and we were going to try some "pho" because that food is a sure fire winner on a cold winter's night. Cool. Well, cool enough to require shoes and shirt, anyway. Not like we've had more snow or anything, at least, not last night.
After two requisite stops for cigs and money, we were tooling down Oltorf, headed toward a "pho" destination, when, just east of Congress, Texicalli glittered in the night. Like a beacon, beckoning unto us, "Real South Austin chow. Dine here. Air conditioned." It didn't say all that, the sign is almost eclipsed by the trendy little restaurant next door.
Texicall is a weird one. I've eaten there a few times, but I've forgotten how good it is. Nothing fancy. I asked the good - but harried - waitress what her birthday was. Virgo. Crank Amy and Devota just howled in laughter.
"You got a bathroom?" I asked, getting up from the booth.
"Out back. Against the back wall," the waitress replied.
More laughter.
"No, really, see this used to be a Taco Bell, and that's where the bathrooms were," she was trying to explain.
I rather fancied the idea of taking leak against the back wall, myself, and it seems like that was expected behavior, based on the laughter quotient.
The appetizer was waffle fries slathered with onions, jalapenos and cheese. The main meal varies, but I wound up with a chicken sandwich liberally marinated in Tabasco, with a side of excellent yam fries. Sweet Potato Home Fries, as it were.
Kind of a perfect night, the unusual food, and at one point, a mandolin picking in the background.
Up on the wall, among the all the posters, there was a particular poster that caught my eye. I figure its significance is lost on many: Austin Aqua Fest, 1982.
Damn good food.

Digital blues (and reds, greens, whatever)

I want a new digital camera. The deal is, my parameters are pretty simple. I don't need a megaplex 6.9 megabyte graphic digital imaging solution. I'm not looking for a huge camera that will make my life better. I'm looking for replacement for the Visor Camera I've got. What's so cool about this one is size and convenience. I toyed around with another camera for computer client, and I found one that I was almost fond of. Right size, or maybe, it was just a little large, but it wasn't too unmanageable, no zoom, no focus, no "on-screen" help, rather simplistic item. The image footprint was relatively small, too, 640 x 480 pixels, not one of those two meg files that consumes far more bandwidth than necessary. Perfect for little snapshots for the web.


State Capital (our building is bigger than yours)

Hideout Espresso

Window dsiplay
Texas State Seal

I forgot why I did this.
Had something to do with seals, maybe.


Perfect Valentine's weekend?

What could be better? Austin RV show? Motor homes, some with surprising stickers on them. Grab your favorite trailer park girl and head on down to the convention center.

It's nice, but I don't think it would fit in my current parking spot.


Peacock Bass

I was chatting with a client after a reading, and the client's part-time job is at a fish story - exotic aquarium things sort of place. I heard a tale about a "Peacock Bass" and that got me thinking. My mind can be dangerous place, especially if you're alone and unarmed.
See: at this one place, they just sold a "Peacock Bass" for some huge sum of money. Works for me. I think I've spent twice that much on unsuccessful fishing trips, and some times, I mean, look at one of the pictures, and you'll see we do catch fish on occasion. Instead of releasing them back into the wild, only to provide more sport for other folks, though, I got to thinking....
Just snag one of those little puppies. The ones we'd normally throw back? Nothing worth keeping? About the size of a "Peacock Bass."
The challenge? Got to find some waterproof paint. I mean, I suppose that a Peacock Bass will have all those rainbow colors, right? A little dab of paint, and those folks at the aquarium store would never know. Let's say each fish nets $100, that's worth a little paint, correct?

From recent e-mail

> Happy Valentino's Day, Mr. Kramer

> though I, too, think that

> mass mail-out Valentine thing is crude

> and also vapid

> and a bit banal

> and somewhat chauvinistic

> with a womanizing whiff to it....
So I'm vapid, banal, somewhat chauvinistic, and I smell like a

womanizer? All that time, I thought it was patchouli I was wearing.
Eau de Womanizing. Bet there's a good market for that one!

National Extortion Day

Thursday afternoon, I was meandering along, trying to remember what the errand I was on, like, what was it I was supposed to pick up? It was bleary, gray day, but just warm enough to warrant shorts.
I cut through a pedestrian tunnel, into a strip center, and promptly fell on my backside. It was ugly. Nothing damaged, a little scrape on my knee, but it was horrendous blow to my pride.
I did manage to limp into the store with the cordless phone batteries, and I did manage to get 50% of the selection process correct. Which, according to the lone counter clerk, put me in the top 5% of his customers.
From there, I figured, as long as I was alongside all those trendy little shops on S. Congress, I’d better pick up a “Get out of Jail” free card.
No such luck. February 13 is too late to shop for VD cards. Maybe I’ll remember this next year.
If I hadn't had a tumble in the mud on the concrete, though, I'd probably forgotten about the whole thing….
"Ah, c'mon, don’t you have just one card that says, 'Oh baby, please, please, please, I'll never forget such an important event again....' You know, something sappy, and sweet, and it'll even get me out of trouble for not sending it on time?"
The last time I found a perfect card like that, I bought a whole box, 24 of them, "To the only girl I ever really loved…"

Stingray Shuffle by Tim Dorsey

Satire, comedy, politics and metafiction are tough. Combining those elements, plus an apparently rather academic grasp of history is pretty much impossible. Stingray Shuffle by Tim Dorsey accomplishes all that, and it's a wonderful entertaining ride along the way.
The main character is Serge. Serge is a classic Gemini. I got about a third of the way through the book, and I started assigning signs to characters because some of the characters obviously displayed certain characteristic associated with the signs.
I was digging through A Handbook to Literature, 6th Edition, looking up a few phrases to be a more accurate critic, and I stumbled across the term, "prose rhythm." That's what the book has, there's a rise and fall, the dialog, plot, action, scenery all go ripping by. It's like fast ride on a train.
The best part, though, and what shines, is the way the whole tale is wrapped, nicely, neatly and coherently by standard literary devices. The framework is a potboiler mystery/crime novel. The background is like a tropical print shirt. The characters are both noble and low-brow. It's just plain funny in part.
"Dear God, please protect from your followers. Amen." (Serge says grace, page 192)
While that lines is horrendously funny in context, even out of context, it's not a bad point. Really good book, a sequel to a sequel to a sequel.
What was nice, in an exchange of e-mail with the author, he pointed out two scenes that were actually autobiographical, in an earlier novel. Which makes the whole thing even funnier. The author himself is an Aquarius, and I can only figure that this series of novels was written under the influence Uranus in Aquarius. In a word, electrifying.

From Pepys Diary., June 28, 1662:

"This day a genteel woman came to me, claiming kindred of me, as she had once done before, and borrowed 10s. of me, promising to repay it at night, but I hear nothing of her. I shall trust her no more. Great talk there is of fear of a war with the Dutch; and we have order to pitch upon twenty ships to be forthwith set out; but I hope it is but a scarecrow to the world to let them see that we can be ready for them; though, God knows! the King is not able to set out five ships at this present without great difficulty."
Vote for Austin.

Tuesday got off to a great start when I was "in the zone" but being in that space means I was 30 seconds late to catch the first bus. I ambled on towards the second bus stop, dashed into the mini-mart for a second, stopped long enough to watch ten seconds of Springer, and I missed the second bus. Made the third bus, but that means I just slid in just under the wire.
At my second office, "el jefe" and "la mamacita" were there, and the boss was busy ripping a new one on some guy I didn't recognize. I looked busy. I've felt that wrath, even undeserved, it's not pretty. But after missing two buses, I wasn't in happy place anymore. Plus, I missed a free lunch.
It was supposed to be a slow day, but it wasn't. I was also supposed to depart for the UT Campus and some advertising work early, but I didn't. I did escape around 4, and I meandered through the University's grounds, taking care of business and noticing items like how the Littlefield House is haunted, and students still congregate to read poetry on the lawn.
I had a running monologue in my head, leading me to be vastly amused with my thoughts. A little after five, I was at the bus stop for a homeward bound trip. Leslie was there.
Who's Leslie? You know, that Austin icon, the cross-dressing homeless guy with flaming red hair. He's running for mayor again. Frankly, I think he's a better choice than anything else. He can't be bought. He's probably a little crazy, but at least, with him, we don't have to worry about what his hidden secrets are, he's quite open about his eccentricities.
Vote for Leslie Cochran. It's a vote for Austin.
Leslie's a Cancer, Saturn will be headed into Cancer soon, and the rigors of office would fit perfectly with his chart - Saturn would add some much needed structure, I suspect. As would the job.


Better disclaimers than my own. Damn.
Feast Eve of St. Jonas

Monday was the Feast Eve of St. Jonas, the patron saint of horticulturists. I spend a lot of time growing a website, tending it as if it were garden. Which segued into an exchange of e-mail with a "scientist and student of astrology" correspondent.
Turns out, in my archives, from August of 1996, the monthly column started with an apparently erroneous quote attributed to Einstein.
I'm trying to remember, but I seem to recall I snagged that quote from an online discussion group. After much fire, I'm pretty sure the quote was not authenticated, you know, along the lines of "42% of statistics are made up." Urban Myth.
From my usage logs, I don't even remember that page being crawled by any of the search engines, not in recent memory. While it's not in the current "bottom ten" (least accessed pages), it's not far from the bottom - along with the other archives.
Doesn't matter much to me. I've found that my current archive, almost covers a decade, is good as I use it as a reference point. I always aim for "no repeats," and it's the easiest way to keep that material around. Plus, I see a logical and determined growth pattern, and I like that.
But the question that was posited, should I go back and change that line to indicate that I was working with erroneous data? A fake quote?
I've caught another astrologer in a number of technical errors, but I don't make an issue of it. Then there's the whole "interpretation" portion of reading just what the planets portend. That's highly subjective.
I've been trying to verify a particular Shakespeare quote, and I regret that I haven't had to the time to dig around in a text to find the correct attribution. A cursory web search turned up no source. I would never use an incorrect literature quote. However, at least at the time, I apparently did use an incorrect Einstein quote. A fiction, fable, a fever dream from a mad man.
But the real question is, should I take the time to dig around on my own hard drive, find the old text file, change it, and then post the updated material from 5 years ago?
It's an old archive, it's about 17 clicks deep into the site, and it's hard to find. Change it to reflect current scholarship? Then I'd have to correct the non-ASCII characters, and update the html code, and so on. Wow, that's a lot of work.
In one of my replies, though, I did come up with some new terms, or expressions I've never used before. I usually piss off the "fundamentalist astrologers," the right wing. And I'm a little too realistic for the "woo-woo" Leftist ones, too.
Fundamentalist astrologers. That scares me. That's something I would change.


"Dude, look, it's says, 'TBA,' like, you're THE BASS ANGLER, right?"
Yeah, right. I came out of the hotel, met my buddies at the check out counter, and there was my Virgo bud, jeans. Boots, baseball hat, fine, yoke-cut tweed jacket, and on his lapel, there was a gaudy little rhinestone angel.
He pointed at the angel:
"I am not happy about this."
That Pisces replied, in "You going to work for me, you wear an angel. Now get in the truck."

water signs - water balloons - fire

"Flow - the new wave in body - mind fitness"
A Leo was demonstrating the "flo" device. Looked like, to me, dunno, maybe a water balloon? It was long piece of plastic filled with a small amount of water, and then handles at either end. Now, watching her move with the exercise device was like watching a trained martial arts expert step through routines, or dancer, pacing herself through the motions.
Exercise videos are always like that. Makes it look so easy. Someone who's been at this demo business a long time, obviously, with grace and ease.
In a rare moment, Linda wasn't busy, and she looked over at the exercise device, "Those things are good, Kind of scary, you know, you could hurt someone if it came loose."
She had another thought, perky little Pisces eyes going, "They're good, you know, you can hit your husband. No marks."
Evil Pisces grin.
"Hey, dead husbands don't cry."


Look out, SA

Morning commute to SA.
These early mornings, which don't involve a fishing pole, are just a bummer. Up before the sun and off to SA to work for a weekend.

Broken promises

I started out with that title and promptly forgot where I was going with it. Not that it matters that much, some thought just escaped my mind.
It had something to do with the way the day went, yesterday. Every time I turned around, I managed to piss someone off. Now it's a particular talent I have, and I spend a great portion of my days trying to irritate a portion of the population, I consider it a calling, a special talent that I have.
Only, yesterday, I wasn't trying to irritate anyone, I was just managing to rub all the fur the wrong way. Couldn't seem to get anything right.
I was sitting in the office, running errands, tending to business, and the big boss calls, I answered the phone. "You sound depressed. I still need to run by there with your check, and pick up that paperwork."
"Better not," I replied.
"Why's that?"
"I'm pissing everyone off. Can't figure it out."
"You haven't pissed me off yet."
"Yeah, well you're not female."
"It's okay. I'm sending a possible tenant over in a few minutes."
"Good! I'll try not to piss her off, too!"
"Just rent her an apartment."
I had about half an hour to kill downtown, so I stopped at the Hideout and supped on an excellent espresso, frothy coffee, done just right. Smoothed things over in my head while reading some of Pepys Diary.
Joined two Capricorns for dinner at a sushi place downtown.
Left in much better humor, clutching a "to go" box with two tuna rolls and an asparagus roll, along with that joke about using leftover sushi for bait.
I got home, and I feed to loudly complaining cat the tuna and the asparagus roll's outer cover, which was angus beef.
The cat drug the tuna to the middle of room and left it. She did like the beef. However, it wasn't enough so that's just one more female pissed off at me.
C'est la vie.

Fiction, Science Fiction, Facts and current media

I should start out by pointing out that I am bleeding heart liberal. I consider myself a sentient being, more or less. And I'm pretty liberal. Plus I vote, whenever I can.
I wrote a piece a few days ago, about the space shuttle, and before I had chance to polish and post it, I saw headline that screamed "Shattered Dreams" so I erased the whole thing, and moved on to other topics.
But the idea haunted me, especially for the last couple of days. There's a scene from an Allen Steele novel that I clearly remember, a character makes a daring escape from outer space in an escape pod that was, I thought at the time, clearly the realm of fiction.
Out of that whole series of books, all I really recall, other than many hours of enjoyable reading, was that one scene plus the characters who the author employed to construct a space station. As side not, the only time that lifeboats and life preservers ever seem to work is in the movies, again, the realm of fiction.
After last night's class, I was thinking about current world events, and I have sneaking suspicion that there's something being withheld by our government. The missing piece of evidence, that one item that would irrevocably point to the need for a pitched battle, us against them, that one little piece of evidence seems to be missing.
I can't point to a source, I can't go on anything but an intuitive feeling, but I get a gut sense that there's a piece to the puzzle that's just not there.
At various family holidays, my father [nominally Pa Wetzel> would fetch up a jigsaw puzzle of sorts for the family to work on together. During the course of building some picture, he would mutter from time to time about how "your Sister is hiding a piece...." It was all in good fun.
But like that scene from Steele's book, and like that escape pod that was developed, I wonder if there's more to the picture. Or, in this case, what is it that the government knows, that they aren't telling us?
Last fall, I was reading a Clancy book, and there's one scene from that novels plot that's haunting me now.
I still feel like there's a piece of the puzzle that someone's hiding - I just don't know who - or what the piece is. Unlike a puzzle, I can't look at a whole picture and try to figure out which piece isn'there.

Sunday Morning Service!

What that bio was for. I got the message yesterday afternoon, I was asked to fill a speaker's slot for the SUNDAY MORNING OPENER.
Let's be quite realistic here, I'm sure the promoter couldn't find anybody else to fill the position and since I did offer, I was given a chance. In fact, it looks like there are barely enough readers, but that promoter picked the wrong time to have an event in San Antonio: we're opposite the San Antonio Stock Show y Rodeo. Yee-haw.
What's worse, redneck or not, REK is playing Saturday afternoon. There goes that important demographic for the horary arts, the 18 to 24 urban youths. Ah, heck, I'd be at that REK show, too, if I had more sense. Or less sense.
I think this a dream come true, though, a chance to preach the good word, from the lectern. I always dreamed of being preacher, I just have troubles with the sticky theological issues. Which ones? Most of them. As I'm seeing it now, I'll be playing to an audience of three.
As one wayward minstrel sang, "Buddha wasn't Christian but Jesus would've been a good Buddhist...."
But don't worry, should you decide to brave the elements, a good time will be had. And if you're not going to be SA this weekend, this particular show will be back in Austin in April. No rodeo, then, I hope.
That talk? It's basic astrology, it's about how to understand archetypes. It's about what I mean when I say, "It's a Gemini deal," or "She's just being a Scorpio right now...."
It's a Sagittarius thang, you know.

Sex sells.

That's what I've been told, time and again. Looking at most beer ads, I'm pretty sure all I have to do is drink that one brand of beer, and I will be surrounded by bikini-clad females, much younger, and heck of lot more attractive than I am. That's the message, isn't it?
Some of the scholarship on Pepys Diary includes mentioning that he was a womanizer. I've only read one year so far, and I didn't see a lot of sex in it so far, but if sex in the city sells, then I should make something up here, to add a little sizzle to the content.
Alas, I live the life of monk, sequestered and cloistered as it were. In a cave. While I was on my way to my temp job, I listened to yet another friend commenting about exploits over the weekend, "Man, I am SO tired today. But happy, you know?"
Sure. Be happy for the lucky person. Persons. Whatever. Reminds me of a conversation the other afternoon, "C'mon Kramer, when's the last time you had sex?"
"With another person, you mean?"
So I'm not sure that sex sells.

Talk about not talking about it

Met with other journal writers Sunday afternoon, eventually adjourned from coffee house to Vietnamese food.
And while the topic most on the minds and fingertips, and eyeballs, or many of the websites I read, it all seems to be focused on the shuttle tragedy, the topic never really came up.
It was a slightly reserved, took 20 minutes to get around to heavy sexual innuendo.
Curious, given the media's attention to the news about the event.
Of course, we're in Texas, where parts of it fell, and while I've not seen too much about it myself, I can just imagine what some of the world myust think. It's not like East Texas is a hotbed of academic excellence or intellectual pursuits.
Writing about academic excellence, though did remind me, Bubba finally showed up for a gathering. But no one got a picture, so there are still some folks who think he's a figment of my imagination.
As if.

Neptune, Aquarius and the shuttle tragedy

Saturday, being the first means that my temp job requires my presence should I be available. I was. Got out of bed, typed on something for a while, surfed around and hit a few fun sites, then I rolled through a news site. Lost a space shuttle.
William Gibson is an author I've grown quite fond of over the years, or, at least, I've taken quite a liking to his canon of work. He poignantly captures the moment in a short entry in his web journal.
Astronomically, what was going on? Dark of the moon. Midmorning in NE Texas. Astrologically? Moon conjunct Sun conjunct Neptune, in Aquarius - oppose Jupiter in Leo. Tough call. I'd spoken about this before type of arrangement before, and I've looked at global indications and events, more along the lines of the spiritual side of life rather than the physical, but the two are tied together.
Taking that long route to the bus stop again, I paused long enough to calculate and examine the basic chart for the moment. One characteristic stood out, one aspect, a rolling conjunction between the Sun, the Moon and Neptune. Neptune is a source of deception, at times, and it can obfuscate even the clearest of matters.
There's a spiritual side to Neptune as well, something portion that can test faith, or make one's faith stronger, or reveal some hidden aspect of one's faith. But oppose that spiritual obfuscation and confusion with mighty Jupiter in Leo? I was guessing at a figurative explosion, not a real one, laid bare in all its flaming gory glory, splashed over the morning media.
A year or two ago, I had a chance to see a space shuttle streak through the evening sky, a brilliant line of light moving at some incredible speed as it fell to earth after a mission. It arced across the Texas sky, basically northeast, a brilliant streak. The strange, almost ironic point is the technology is older than some of my clients. That space shuttle was "born" in a time before phones were about the size of a small box of matches. A big desktop computer had enough memory to contain maybe a portion of this journal entry, but not much more. And that was the best there was, at the time.
With Jupiter in opposition, I wonder what illusions are being shattered? Our technological superiority?
There's sentiment, above and beyond the sadness associated with the deaths of some brave souls who burned up on return home, a faith in a technology, an invincible nature, that this just usually doesn't touch us. Bad things don't happen. But that Leo-Aquarius [fixed fire and fixed air signs> axis brought a fiery termination to something, perhaps something much bigger than just the loss of life.
One of my cousins was enrolled at the university where some of the advance work on the heat-reflecting tiles was done, and he posted along a thoughtful e-mail. He's trained as a scientist and an engineer - nothing to do with the art of astrology.
My concern is less on the impact within the academic and scientific circles, and more on the outcome of he general psyche of the world. The scientific method is one where a hypothesis is posited, then tested with experimental process, then the results are compared, then one piece is changed in light of the experimental results, and a new hypothesis is posited, tested, and so on. It's how inquiry works.
In part, it's what I do in a reading, or, in a broader sense, with my horoscopes. Posit a theory, write a weekly scope to test that idea, if it plays out true, then I have more data to work with. If it doesn't pan out correctly, then I change my way of looking at something.
What does that have to do with the space shuttle, Neptune and Jupiter? Not a lot. Or, maybe it was fiery end to a theory - I only hope that we keep exploring the boundaries.

Uranus goes into Pisces?

As much as possible, I am avoiding most media. Sure, I read certain websites, but then, I tend to stick to humor and entertainment, ostensibly, under the guise of research for my own work. Sweets for the frontal lobe - certainly not intellectual nourishment.
That approach to isolation is becoming a problem. As I took a long walk to the bus stop Friday morning, I couldn't help but be assaulted by headlines that mentioned "Iraq" and "Bush" and "War" and some other words. I purposely missed the state of the onion address because I was sure it would stink and rankle my yellow cur sentiments.
I was passing the dry cleaners, on my way to change a lock in a newly vacated apartment. Day-to-day tasks that go with the high-falutin' title I've got - some temp job this is turning into. The dry cleaner owner was outside, smoking a cigarette, so I detoured over to chat with him.
"Hey, dude, you've got to quit littering here: see, your beer cans are blowing over onto my lawn. Means I've got to pick up your trash!"
Which turned into a semi-serious discussion about politics and religion. Wherein my point was lost. So was the humor. Turns out that dry cleaner is a Muslim. Doesn't drink beer. He is an American citizen, and I'm pretty sure he's not a terrorist.
"Where I am from - Egypt - we've been under martial law since 1981, ever since Sadat was assassinated."
[Trying to do idle chatter from memory is difficult if I'm not taking notes.>
I had a quasi-humorous, slightly serious point to make with the dry cleaner guy - I've done business with him, we've seen each other time and again, he's affable enough, but alas, my sardonic irony didn't translate across a culture divide. A lady showed up to pick up her laundry. I had a lock to change.
Now that I know I have a local Muslim, I have a source for information. That's good. Some of what he said, though, that's not so good.
This is the second time I've run into someone of the Islamic faith who came to America, pays taxes, became a sworn citizen, just because there is freedom.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, quit throwing beer cans on the lawn.
Or, there's the astrological perspective, too: Uranus going into Pisces. Think about that one for a minute. I picked two events, a while back to concentrate on, two historical events that mean something to me. Texas Independence and West Texas Oil.
I can corroborate this historical material with exact dates for that planet and its influence, but I tend to look at the bigger picture, 1835, 1836 rather short and pitched battle - starting in October with the "Come and Take It" flag [Gonzales>, moving on to the "1824" tricolor [San Antonio>, and culminating with the "Lone Star [San Jacinto>." Or, to put it on a different timeline, within 7 months, a few thousand principally Anglo-Mexican settlers usurped a militarily superior Mexican dictator.
"Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!" Yee-haw.
Smaller in numbers, not as well armed, yet absolutely deadly with a long rifle, the Texicans overthrew a monarchy buried in old ways of thinking, burdened by bureaucracy, mired in political troubles. Look at it this way: the odds were not in favor of the Texans. If there had been a Las Vegas with a board up, the odds would've favored Santa Anna.
Uranus into Pisces will be some surprising upsets, you know, where the underdog actually stands a chance. Ask the Oakland Raiders about that one.
Most of the United States west of the Mississippi would be primarily Mexico if Santa Anna hadn't gotten his butt severely traumatized outside what is now Houston. We might have Oregon, but that would be about it, from what I've been reading. The American Empire is/was fueled, in part, by the vast richness of natural resources out here in the West.
The other hysterical [historical> data I was looking at was West Texas Gold, the stuff dreams are made of. Another Uranus in Pisces discovery. Uranus is quite sudden with its influences. Barren wasteland is suddenly "resource rich" countryside.
"Honey they leased the back forty for oil - we're shopping for a double-wide!"
I haven't actually lived in West Texas. Roswell, NM - just over the line - was home a for a year or so. That land was part of Texas for a while, as a matter of fact, just not recently. But I have worked out there, and I love the area and - more important - the people.
The "oil patch" reiterates a strong sense of "boom or bust." When thangs are good, life is grand, and when the chips are down, it's poor situation with no hope. My all-time favorite [as of this writing> was the rumor that Disney was going to build a theme park in the Permian Basin. I'm pretty sure that falls in the "urban myth" category to be polite about it.
Back to the new double-wide. A small number of desperate individuals did well by hitting oil there in West Texas. First the oil derrick then the pump jack replaced the traditional cactus icon for Texas. I remember sliding through that countryside a few years back as the price of gas dropped below a dollar a gallon, many of the pump jacks were idle. That's changing, even now.
Mineral resources and armed conflict. Not without some precedent, either.
Worried? Not me. What was the point? Quite throwing beer cans on my lawn.

A whole month

It's taken a whole month to get here. I woke up yesterday morning, thinking about a situation, a planetary/astrological situation that begged for a good metaphor, and then before I even fed the apparently starving cat, I started typing a horoscope. Happily typing a horoscope, I should add.
Gray day. Cold, gray morning. Not an auspicious start, but for once, I was rather amused by what I was turning over in what I'm pleased to call, my mind. (With apologies to Alexander Pope) A piece of e-mail tickled me, the from a real fishing guide buddy:
Round a-bout, 30/1/03 9:23 am, ya'll said:
> This I saw in today's scopes,
> "In keeping with the tone for the Taurus week, my buddy sent back a quick

> rejoinder, "So what kind of lure was she using?" Not the kind of comment I was

> expecting. You've got a chance to have a good laugh, a little giggle, and some

> prurient fun, if you're quick enough. Given what's going on, planet-wise, I'm

> sure you can come up with the perfect, snappy comeback. Be prepared. Special

> note: I'm pretty sure she was using a Texas-rig to catch those fish."
> After careful examination of the photo, to scrutinize the cover, weather

> conditions, water color, and body language of the fisherperson, I've decided

> that it probably was NOT a Texas Rig that was responsible for those fish. In

> my studied opinion, it was either a black jig, with a blue pork trailer, or

> more likely a modified Carolina Rig with a 4" floating Chartruse Devil's

> Tongue
The evening ended up at Delaware Sub's shop, over by the campus. Not a bad place to dine. Not on a Thursday night with Bubba. There was discordant Punk/Metal going as background music, and the two guys were desperately trying to close up shop. I managed to get my whole meal deal into my mouth this time. After a long day of work, I was hungry and tired. I kept waiting on Bubba to say something funny, but sometimes, the bitterness finds its way into everything. He did say something rather amusing, but I think the obvious situation was either lost on him or he chose not to acknowledge it. Problem being, I have to respect his privacy.
Last stop: the grocery store. I purchased a loaf of bread and some "Legal Mexican Coffee." If I get a chance, I'll shoot a picture of that can. I haven't explored it yet, but the name alone was worth the three bucks.


In the CD Player: Chemical Brothers, Gram Parsons anthology and Mahler's Symphony #3.
Classical, classic Americana, and classic techno.
All right, I'll confess, I don't know what to call the Chemical Brothers. For that matter, Gram Parsons was "alt.country" long before there was ever a term called "alt.country." So that means that I can't find the right taxonomy for two out of the three selections. Mahler? I'm sure that's classical music, no problemo there.
Most days, I'm spending about 20 minutes riding a city bus. Reading Pepyps Diary on the bus is proving perfect. Short, sometimes rambling entries, sometimes something of importance, sometimes just day-to-day events, like, the author was a Pisces with Mars tightly conjunct his Sun, tidbits like that. Due to its inherently choppy flow, reading it while on the bus works just fine. Perfect for that 20 minute commute to a part time temp job. "Only way to fly."
Besides, reading a book with a pencil in hand is inherently more fulfilling because I can scribble notes in the margins and underline passages I really like. Try doing that on a computer screen.

Sushi can cure what ails you.

Maybe so.
Maybe not, too. But it did work out okay. A little bit of sushi, and I had the most interesting offer - see, the sweet Pisces and her friend, a Taurus, gathered me up after a series of one disappointment after another, and we wandered way south to that little sushi bar on S. First Street.
On the way, the two girls were complaining about lack of physical attention in their lives. Think: Pisces and Taurus. And since there already was a rumor about those two sleeping together, I jst thought it would be in good form to offer my assistance.
Three way action.
Sorry, nothing happened. Nothing to report here. But I did get an offer. And the spicy tuna was rather good. I just don't get it with that deep-friend asparagus thing.
Move along, there's nothing to see here.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Looking at the past often times helps foretell the future. The craze of online journals is not without precedent.
While I was in Dallas, we stopped at a Borders Bookstore. Wouldn't bother with a chain's name except that one store is in a special location for me, at one time, a famous grocery store. Never happened to me, but local lore, at least "back in the day," was that it was a great place to meet and greet. {i.e., best place to get picked up at 2 in the morning, after drinking unsuccessfully all night - wouldn't know, never happened to me}
I like it better as a bookstore, even if it a chain.
I picked up The Diary of Samuel Pepys because I figure it's some kind of proto-blog. I was reading it, in part, online. Done blog style, no less.
I'll be interested to see if that website ever generates as much interest as it did when it was first launched. My back story is a little different, too.
At some point, in English Lit., those diaries are covered in survey classes. The literature index - not unlike the stock market - goes up and down, sometimes for no reason, and that lit index had "The Diaries" at a low point at least until recently. Apparently there's been some excellent scholarship as of late. Instead of reading what others have to say about what other analysts have come up with, I just decided to jump back into what either my textbook, or the diaries themselves, have to say.
The brief survey text suggested that Samuel Pepys was a interested in two pursuits, making money and chasing women. I'm liking this already, although, I've proven rather unsuccessful at the making money part lately. And the chasing women, part, too. I suppose, like fishing, it's called chasing instead of catching.

Dream Sequence

Dream sequence: democracy: would you vote for it again?
I don't know where this stuff comes from. I had two dreams that I remember, while in Dallas. One involved my part-time boss, and crap from work, like, renting apartments. I dreamed that all the units were full. Before anyone reads too much into such, consider that it was perfectly done (medium rare) T-Bone, saturated with butter and peppercorns, so that might have been the source of the dream sequence.
But I liked that second one. It was headline I read in my dreams.
"Democracy: would you vote for it again?"


Subtitle: "how long does it take to drive to Dallas?"
Doorstep to doorstep, Shady Acres (in South Austin) to Ma & Pa Wetzel's, (in South Dallas) is 193 miles. I've done it in as little as two and half hours, or as long as five hours, maybe even longer, depending on road conditions, meals and music. Memorable trips include the epic Thanksgiving Day trip, took six hours, I kept waiting on the weather to let up just south of Dallas, then Hillsboro, then Waco, then Temple, then North Austin. That trip? The freezing rain stopped south of the river - in Austin.
When I was motoring north in a 2003 model rent car, I kept thinking about stories and wishes. Maybe walking from Austin to Dallas, alongside the Interstate's access road would be a good story. At one point in my life, I was doing a commute like this almost every three weeks. That was a long time ago, but the roadside hasn't changed too much.
It's that very roadside that I figure is so steeped in stories that beg to be told. I'm not sure what I would write about, not yet, but almost every exit seems to have a tale or two.
The cities feel a little closer together, and there's a more hurried pace to Dallas traffic. Consider that I was pulling out of Austin in time for the north-bound bottleneck of suburban commuters, I spent at least half an hour creeping along at 11 MPH, dialing for alternate plans on my cell.
Trips like this usually mean that I will forget something important. This time, it was the phone charger. Such are the vagaries of modern life. I still figure that this little stretch of highway has a story or two - The New Yorker agrees, as I just read a piece about a town that was just off the trail.
Sometimes I'm just a day late.

I missed it.

Yesterday was "The Feast Day of St. Emerentiana," the patroness of those suffering with stomach disorders. How I miss these days is just beyond me. According to my astrology software, Mercury turned direct at 7:08 PM, CST Wednesday night.
The year is almost over, right? Or, at least, it's time to get off to good start, finally. Got 11 months left, two more Mercury RX times, and a few other sordid planet actions to deal with.
I was wandering around the web while chatting on the phone. I came across an entry someplace that had a lot to do with New Years' resolutions. Since I made exactly zero resolutions, I've met my expectations wonderfully so far.
"El Jefe" at the other job was wonderful, in a weird and wacky way. I was prepared for a tough day and it turned out wonderfully, well, except for me missing that last bus ride home.
There was a point, I kept trying to make, and I never got it across. But it's a good point, and I want to remember what I was thinking about. It's like this, Wednesday night, I was off with a directionally challenged Aquarius [most Aquarius folks are directionally challenged - it's not a problem, just an inherent characteristic>. As we meandered around portions of Austin that I haven't seen in five or six years, I pointed out some sights, then noticed that a large number of apartments were vacant. No lights. No cars in the parking lot. Big signs, "two months free rent!!!"
Comparing Mi Patron's paltry offerings to these swanky, upscale places really isn't fair. Different worlds. We like grad students, those places are looking for landed folks with large, disposable incomes. Different target audience altogether.
One of the units I manage is having a parking problem, like, not enough parking spaces in the lot. Need to rearrange the dumpster, push it out of the way. The former muddy yard at the end of the lot will be paved or, at the very least, gravel filled soon.
That's a very different problem from most of the other apartments, all over town. Using the other guys as a yardstick, we're doing exceptionally well.
Using the other guys as a yardstick is also a foible. How I'm doing, compared with how the next guy is doing, isn't a fair way to judge myself. Therein is the problem.
That was the point I was going to make, just never got a chance. I didn't want to miss a bus ride home. Just because, numerically, we're superior, that doesn't mean that internally, we're doing better. The way to judge ourselves is by our own, internal yardstick - not the other guys.
But I still missed the bus. Just means I got home later than I wanted. Today, I'll snag a rent car and hit the road for Dallas, just as soon as I can scoot out the door. Time to be someplace else.


Like I really care.
I'm torn, see, Sister lives in Oakland, therefore, I should be rooting for the Raiders, a die-hard fan base that's truly amazing. Never give up hope. I can't recall where, but I seem to remember the Raiders being categorized as a blue-collar team.
But Tampa Bay? It's no secret that I'm fond of certain Florida authors and journalists. Better yet, Tim Dorsey has a new novel coming out. Tampa Bay kind of guy. Sort of sways my decision process.
Memory is a little leaky these days, but from previous correspondence, I seem to recall that Mr. Dorsey is an Aquarius. Point in his favor, if you ask me. Oakland has Peet's. Point in its favor.
Florida is/was part of the South. California belonged to Mexico. Historically, an even draw on those lines. Florida is now considered to be full of strange people and no longer belongs to the South. The Western US no longer claims California because it's full of strange people and no longer belongs to the West. Again, even draw.
Moon will be in Scorpio, what, Scorpio, for the big event? Sure.
Raiders: Logo is a pirate{/url>.

Logo is a pirate.
I still don't know which team should get my vote. Like I really care.

Man, writing about oneself is so hard!

> Just letting you know what we need from you in terms of lecture and

> photo material... we need, a 75 word lecture description including a

> sentence or two of bio.
Writing a quick bio and an introduction to my usual, ever-changing lecture series is a challenge. Writing factually about myself is even more of a challenge. Writing factually is a challenge.
"The biggest problem with astrology is astrologers. The talk by Kramer Wetzel of astrofish.net is about how to understand the planets and their influences, the signs, and what it all means by turning the language and poetry of astrology into a common place symbols, and reducing the metaphor to something that's easy to understand. Serialized, lionized, and usually cussed at by Scorpio's, Kramer's been writing horoscopes for electronic distribution for over a decade."
I was going to add, the usual, "He lives with his cat in a trailer in South Austin's Shady Acres Trailer Park, along the shores of the Colorado River." But I ran out of room. "He's a legend in his own mind." Nope, no room for that one, either.


Remember the Alamo

Some of my history is a little rusty, but look at these years, 1835, 1836 - remember the Alamo? Uranus into Pisces? Sure. Then 1919, 1920.... Coming up soon, this year... Zero Pisces gets it several times. This site yielded nascent information about history and violence. What intrigued me was the occupation and invasion of South American countries. Look: I live in Texas, a land wrestled from a Mexican dictator under, well, slightly dubious conditions. Remember the Alamo.
In 1920, the first oil well in the Permian Basin came in. Since I've spent the last decade or more, passing through that area, I'm personally fond of Permian Basin. Terrain's rough, but the characters are one-of-a-kind. Oh yeah.
But it's tough country out there. Even the vegetation is coarse and spiny, covered with thick skin and sharp needles. And that's just the pretty cactus.
Oil. "4th largest oil producing area in the country," is what the site suggested. That's just the Permian Basin, too. The number I've heard bantered about, true or not, is that Texas - on its own - is the 7th largest oil producing state in world. Now, Uranus is going into Pisces in March. With the threat of war looming over our heads, the idea of that liquid resource that powers us right now comes back into focus. Some kind of strange Texas focus?
I'm picking out two historical events, and while there are others, like prohibition (Uranus into Pisces), these two events and their dates have a lot to do with my world.
I'm completely unsure of what the connections are, at this point. Trying to delve into future possibilities these days is rather difficult, given the upheaval in parts of the world.
I'm just back from a flying weekend of readings, work and friends in El Paso - the bastard step-child of Texas. Its history is longer, more varied, and the clash of cultures, or the melting pot, is rich.
What's this got to do with the price of gasoline and Uranus entering Pisces in a few weeks? With astrology readings, I usually ask a few pointed questions about what happened when so I can more accurately foretell (extrapolate) what the portents indicate for what's coming up. Instead of worrying about the exact definition, according to the books and establish astrology lore, I tend to look for trends and what a significant element means to an individual.
The Battle for the Republic of Texas, or the Texas Independence War, or whatever we're calling it these days, that was a symbolic event from Uranus into Pisces. Oil in West Texas, another symbolic event. So what's coming up?
Remember the Alamo. (And for those us so burdened, it's time to pay state sales tax).

Pastry Chef, Barbie dolls & hugs

Grace the Psychic Lady [El Paso> & Bubba, and their Aries friends, plus a Cancer daughter and who knows whom else, all headed over to the Pastry Chef [West Side> for breakfast. That's the last time I was coherent, Sunday morning. See: Grace insisted that I stay with her and Bubba since two of her daughters were absent for the weekend. Their big funny was arranging a bed with Barbie dolls in it just for "Kramer."
In the parking lot of the Pastry Chef, Bubba was smooching with Grace, "Bubba, I ain't going to hug you," he said to me.
Getting to the plane from the event, and herding my Pisces friend along, plus getting her and her baggage to the airport and hustling her towards the gate - it was like herding cats.
Her significant other met us at the baggage claim in Austin, "I'm not going to hug you Bubba."
Twice in one day, gentlemen with a nickname of "Bubba" told me I wasn't going to get hugged [while I watches as they swapped spit with their wives>, what the ther odds of hearing that in one day?


There's a companion idea tacked onto yesterday's entry, but it's been interrupted working in El Paso. Middle of the night, staying with Grace and Bubba, I woke up to the distinct "yip-yip" of a coyote. Some place down in an arroyo, behind the casa, west side of El Paso.

Make that idea fly.

"Gas efficient cars and mass transit, bicycles, & etc are sexy."
I'm not sure that I can make that idea fly, not entirely. But having traveled a fair bit, and I mean outside of Texas and the United States, "petrol" or that stuff we pump into our cars at the outrageous $1.40 per gallon is closer to five buck a gallon elsewhere. [In fact, El Paso's gas price at the pump, averages ten to fifteen cents more per gallon than Austin. Wonder why?>
Even one of my fishing buddies was looking at the Austin Mini the other day, that British mini coupe thing. Not much bigger than some skateboards, if I recall. I remember the newly launched website, some months, maybe years ago.
Saw one the other day. Cute car. Looks like it would fit right under the wheels of one of the monster mud trucks that lives in my trailer park. Nothing sexy about that. However, when gas is hovering around 5 bucks a gallon, maybe a more efficient and economical form of transport would be sexy.
Toyota, if I recall right, announced that all of its vehicles will be "hybrid" by 2012. Came out last year. Honda has one, too. What I remember about Toyota, though, they actually built plants in the US - partially, I'm sure - to beat the "not made in US of A" sticker.
Big business is hemorrhaging all over the place. Big oil companies will raise prices to meet the levels elsewhere on the planet, I'm sure. Suddenly, more economical modes of transportation will be desirable. Desirable and sexy, are those the same?
Sitting on the bus with the rest of the street freaks, though, I wonder how desirable and sexy that is. One suburban friend was lamenting that every bus she got stuck behind appeared empty. Compare that with my own statistics, happy hour at a place on S. Congress when every bus that passes is full, and the bicycle racks on the front of the bus are full, too.
But is riding the local transit sexy?

Going to be a long day

Subtitle: Can I take it with me?
The arrangement, as I'm sitting here, thinking about the upcoming schedule, the deal is this: do a last minute reading, then go and rent two apartments Friday afternoon, which means sort through a short metric ton of paperwork. "Sign here, and here, and here."
Then it's Austin Happy Hour for sordid folks at the Chili Parlor. Then off to Austin's airport, hope that SWA is on time, and that I arrive at my destination in one piece and reasonably worn out, and ready to sleep. "No sleep till El Paso."
The Austin airport logs off its wireless network at some unreasonably early hour, so I'm figuring I won't have net access Friday night. Good thing I've got a book to read. But that also means - Mercury is RX - that travel schedules, plans and all the other details are apt to go awry.
I'm sure it will all be very amusing.

WSJ: "Bomb Texas"

This piece was online the other night.
I had a really good answer to the question, and I was interrupted by several phone calls. Never got back to the spirit that I had. My morning reading, Tuesday morning, ran late. In the interim, over a cup of some really good coffee, I read part of the local newspaper, aptly abandoned on the coffee house bar. My notes from the morning include a pullout quote, "If Sam Houston could defeat Santa Anna's forces with 680 Mexican dead and only 9 Texans lost, during a battle that lasted only 18 minutes, then the [State> Legislature can balance the budget in this session...." Or something like that.
Battle of San Jacinto. Adjust for Texas-sized urban sprawl and that very battlefield is probably within Houston's current city limits. You sure about that op/ed headline? You know what happens when we're really pissed? One Houston dweller's answer, several years ago.
Ma Wetzel had an interesting tidbit, but regrettably, the whole story takes up too much space. I suppose, it helps to be related to folks who have first-hand knowledge about the inner workings of the political office, and family members who did, and continue to have, a voice that the conservative government listens to.
What I found amusing, on a personal note, looking around the dinner table, I asked who voted for whom. Three Democrats with my odd, occasional Libertarian vote tossed in. I just don't understand how we wound up with such a strong GOP state.
Bomb Texas? Are you kidding? You know what happens when we get pissed?
"Hey Bubba, watch this!"


Cycles of tech

This article discusses the end of the program called "Graffiti."
Ah yes, my Newton. Long gone, dead to the world. I had, in order, a 120, a 2000, and I upgraded that 2000 to a 2100 or whatever it was called. Pretty cool technology. Slow on the synchronization, but being a bleeding edge geek has never been easy.
The deal was, as I recall, the graffiti program made all the difference in the world, for my input needs. I could get up to 30 or more words per minute, I could, and did, just show up at the airport armed with my ticketless number in the device, show my ID, and board a plane. No more lugging a laptop around.
With a cellular capable modem, I would fetch up e-mail, and answer queries. All from my handy, not-quite-pocket-sized device. It was, at the time, way cool.
I figure I was doing that in 1994. Might have been 1995, and I didn't get my first Palm until 1998, but that was natural switch for me - I'd already mastered the graffiti handwriting program.
The other evening, I was jotting down a note, just a quick succession of "A B A C E" letters. I made the letter E in graffiti-style script rather than a loopy E that is closer to my normal (read: illegible) handwriting. Probably not the first time this has happened, either. Just drove home the point. Then I read that graffiti is at the end of its technology cycle. That's less than a decade.
How has technology affected your life?
Coldwater flat

Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I was living in an "efficiency apartment" that was one decent spit from the corner of University and Mill Ave., in fashionable downtown Tempe, AZ. I considered it a coldwater flat, although, it's hard to imagine a "coldwater flat" (Brit term is good: bedsit) when the summer temperature easily clears 110. I did computer work on the side, to support myself.
Among other projects, I recall doing a fair amount of database programming one semester - which had nothing to do with Medieval Literature - and I'd sent a query note to a local area computer consultant of name and fame, asking a pointed question about a technical issue concerning database architecture.
The e-mail answer was something along the lines of, "Computer consulting, database design and construction, programming, $100 per hour." End of note.
I got a valuable lesson from that short and terse note, and it's something I've carried forward. No, the reply irritated me to no end. Where was the "Mac-friendly" camaraderie? Where was the "we're all in this together" spirit?
Further reflection, though, would reveal that I was actually seeking information for free. These days, I could just plug a few key words into a search engine, and come up with several responses plus any number of opinions, and probably a blog or two that dealt with that very topic. The more savvy search engines would even have an annotated ad off to the side, "Database construction & consulting" link. Or two.
A series of e-mail questions last night prompted this chain of thought. When I whack together a web page, one of the first steps I take is to cruise around and look at other sites of similar ilk. Then I look at the underlying code, the stuff that makes it tick - view source. I've learned a few tricks there, and I've even developed a few of my own tricks.
The first rule is to keep it simple. Then, make the whole page accessible. Above and beyond that? You have two choices, look at my source code for a web page and figure it out yourself - or you can pay me the big bucks to do the tweaking.
Same principles apply with astrology readings. It's nothing that anyone can't access, but my patient and persistent study has evolved into my own school. Or brand. I've looked at several branches of the art, but I keep coming back to basics.
A rival astrologer recently asked me if I was doing any important research. My first answer, rather quick and to the point, was, "No. Not really."
But that's not true. I test theories and permutations and planet possibilities in a lab, a writing lab. Each week. Figure Saturn averages 2.5 years in a sign. Now, figure a way to express that for 2.5 years. I've been doing this for half a cycle of Saturn, on and off.
My laboratory is a weekly column. Answers to questions? Those run $65 per half hour, not unlike that note, years ago, in a coldwater flat.

Clicking around on cartoons and horoscopes

When I clicked on this article, the pull-out quote read, "You can read all sorts of cartoons on the Web. Sometimes they print them up as comic books. I think, why should I buy this? I can read it online." (From an interview with Matt Groening.) When I clicked through to some of my page stats online, it originally looked like 30% or better of the site's traffic comes from one of two "horoscope" portals, either Easyscopes or Horoscopes4U.
Alas, the numbers don't lie. As the diagrams depict, those portals only account for less than 10% of the traffic. To me, though, it's interesting because I can reasonably extrapolate a profile for the readers - astrology & horoscope junkies. Which, in all honesty, provides me with a bigger a problem because my material isn't like anything else. Frequently, my material doesn't fit an established pattern. I tend to read charts differently. My scopes tend to wander down weird trails that aren't normally covered.
Reminds me of a card reading, not long ago. It was a Gemini I'd taught how to read and interpret tarot cards. She'd have me lay the cards out, read them, and then question the answers. Didn't like the reading, so she'd just shuffle the cards up again, and run with something new. When many of the same cards came up three times, she started to get the message. So do people who read 8 and 10 different horoscope sites get an aggregate message?

Monday the 13th

What? Look: I worked most of the weekend. When I wasn't actively reading charts, I was standing there, talking to people about charts. Or Mercury, or whatever. Jupiter. Sure.
Let me say this about that. Never mind, I'm too tired to be coherent now.
Look: some guy asks what your birthday is, that doesn’t mean that he's trying to pick you up. Okay?
It is a bad pickup line leftover from the sixties unless he's a professional astrologer. Get over it.


I couldn't shake that Jimmy Buffett (Capricorn) song, "Fruitcakes" while I was getting dressed Saturday morning.
No music was on, I was just trying to figure out where the clothing was, and I wound up with simple attire, just a pressed shirt and sports jacket. But that song kept going until I stepped outside. Cold. Rain. No fun. "Like to be any other place but here..." as another song goes.
Rain and Capricorns. With a smattering of other signs, but basically, a Capricorn theme for my day.
Then the evening's fun: dinner with a handful of the readers, hastily arranged at the last minute. What it wound up being was me and 8 females. A few minutes after Threadgill's pulled together some tables for us, another group was sat, near us, and it was predominately men.
"Hey, HEY, these are MY women, you stay out of this!"
One of the Leo's turned and said, "Yeah, we all belong to him. Leave us alone - wait, what's your birthday?"

Austin, Texas.

Or maybe, just South Austin. Yesterday morning, I was doing a reading at that place on S. First Street, and in the middle of it, a Leo feller walks up, and he just had to say how he enjoyed the hotlinks, "Man, I spent about an hour going through those. You know, it sort of shows your personality..."
Off to work at the event.
From my notes last night:
RX periods:

Mercury: Jan 2-22 [Cap>, Apr. 26-May 19 [Taurus>, Aug. 26-Sep. 19 [Virgo>, Dec. 17-Jan. 5, 2004 [Cap into late Sag.>
Mars: RX Jul. 10-Sep. 26 [Pisces>.
Jupiter: RX until Apr. 3 [Leo> into Virgo Aug. 27.
Saturn: RX until Feb 22 [Gemini> then goes into Cancer, Jun. 4 - RX Oct. 25 [until Mar. 04.>
Uranus into Pisces, Mar. 11, RX Jun. 7, back into Aquarius Sep. 15 - Nov 7 back into Pisces Dec. 30.
Neptune RX May 15 - Oct. 25 [Aquarius>.
Pluto RX 19 degrees of Sag. Mar. 23 - Aug 28 at 17 Sag.
Three points of note: Merc RX periods, all dirt signs [with a touch of Sag thrown in> - Uranus in Pisces, and Saturn into Cancer. Water and dirt is mud.
I was seated next to a pair of Pisces, and I was the second astrologer to talk. Halfway through, I couldn't help but think, after something one of the Pisces said, about "The Oscar's are rigged." She was predicting a big scandal. The hopeful but slightly cynical audience retorted that the Oscar's have always been rigged. Isn't that the same as a saying Wrestling is fake?

Just another day in tough neighborhood?

There was a bicycle stolen out the back of pickup in one of the complexes I'm partially responsible for. The fact that it happened in the dead of the day didn't help.
Purportedly working on an anonymous tip from a concerned individual, two officers in two squad cars were patrolling the neighborhood. I saw them, and in my official capacity as "someone almost important," I went to offer any assistance I could.
It was a boring day, what can I say? We wound up hanging around the office, chatting about crime, and me, although I was rather casually dressed, I kept trying to assure those two guys I was on their side. One had a piece of candy from the jar, the other helped himself, at my behest, to the bottled water.
"What can I do to help?" I asked.
"Next time? Shoot one the guys, okay?"
Nice idea, but that goes against a strict company policy of no firearms on the property. Seeing as how Mi Patron has been at this for years, and he has an excellent success record, I'm sticking to doing what I'm told.
That was the Thursday excitement. The hardest part of the whole hour was not asking the officers what their birthdays were. While I do openly admire their job and the way they comport themselves, I don't envy them in the least.
With apologies to (Saint) Willie Nelson and a number of other country crooners, "The clean life, ain't no good life, but it's my life."
But tonight? Add a drum roll: the prediction panel. I'll be appearing with numerous luminaries from the psychic community, the new age, crystal crunchers, and I'll have something to say about what's coming up. I hope.

Graveyard at the all night copy shop & class

I rolled out the other morning, full of energy, off for readings then hop a bus up to rent apartments and when the day finally closed, I wound up at the all night copy shop on Congress Avenue.
I had, in hand, dozens of faxes that needed top be scanned into a computer format, then the digitized images needed to be added to a web page. But instead of using any of my own high-tech gear, this one of those chores that was decidedly low-tech.
Instead of bending myself backwards to try and figure out how to do this low-tech, like fax the material from my office fax to one of my older computers, and then e-mail myself the pictures, I just stopped off at the copy shop, armed with the corporate card, and spent an hour on their machines. One machine freeze-up. One double espresso. One hour sitting there, twiddling my thumbs while an antique scanner ran over the material.
I think the girl at the counter thinks I have a crush on her. Really, all I wanted was to get this material out of the way.
I clocked in at the other office at noon, and I clocked out, finishing the last of the upload, at 12:01 AM. I wonder if all my hours are truly appreciated?
"So where are you going tonight?" Mi Patron asked, as I headed for the door last night.
"Teach a class," I quipped back over my shoulder.
"Ha. On what, fly-fishing?"
And I meant to use the example last night, but it completely escaped me at the time, but I have noticed some astrological points at work - can't escape it. In one week during December, we rented a half-dozen apartments to youngsters, and since I have to look at their Driver's Lisence, I can tell, all November Sagittarius folks.
Weird how that works. Want to the mechanics, as I see it? Get this: that December week, the sun was in Capricorn. Solar Sagittarius Second House. Getting a new apartment? Moving home furnishings around?
Might just be a coincidence.
And now, I've got to come up with predictions for the Friday night prediction panel. Let me think, Mercury RX in dirt signs, Uranus pokes into Pisces, and Leo has a fast run with Jupiter from April 1st until August. Saturn, oh yeah, he's doing something, too, into Cancer? Better grab my ephemeris for that.
One of those novels that made an impact on my life, a valuable turning point, not unlike many of my supposed-peers, was William Gibson's a lot of tequila in the margaritas."
Sitting in the Hideout, one Austin-area
writer pulls out his laptop, "I can get a weak signal from Schlotzky's wireless set up, (802.11, two doors down)...." High speed bandwidth. Hard liquor.
Nope, none of those sissy drink called "cocktails" for our Austin group. We don't plan ski trips. We're hardcore to the bone. Coffee that will peel paint. Liquor that will singe eyelashes. The Austin survivors are fueled by cheap booze and broadband. Well, except for that Scorpio Jette, she claims she's still on dialup, but other than her Scorpio self, it's all bandwidth and booze.
Even the Sweet Pisces was going shooting (as in "firing a legally owned and duly registered handgun at a firing range") the other day. Beer, bait & ammo. Or just bandwidth and booze. That's what sets Austin apart.
In case I forgot, happy birthday Elvis, and I'm off to teach a class tonight.

What makes you happy?

I can't speak for other people. I was looking over my schedule a few days ago, and toying with the some new software, and I was delighted that the synchronization went so smoothly but upset that it took so long. I've also enjoyed working with the rather narrow limits of what my little "Visor Cam" will do. Just toys, images I want to catch. What I like best about it is that the field of vision is so narrow, and what it can capture is so limited. That's really appealing to me. Has to be well lit. Can't do the delicate texture of an autumn tree leaf, but it does just fine with certain items. Have to respect the limits of the hardware. Plus, it's paid for. And the images are tiny, a mere 320 by 240 pixels. Limited space. Small footprint for a digital image. Loads fast & etc.
So I was looking at the schedule I've got coming up. I'm trying to predict which event in El Paso I should skip this year. I've got five scheduled, and one of those will be a wash. I'll barely cover the coast of an airplane ticket and the hotel, plus maybe a meal and the expense of the show itself on that one trip. Now, all I have to figure out is which one. April's never been good. Realistically, I should skip April, do June, then skip August, and do October. But from my memory, I can recall June being good one time, then a great August one time, and so forth.
And I like El Paso. The personalities, the culture, the atmosphere. The food. Oh yes, the food is inevitably good. Plus it's travel. That's a good thing. I've been doing El Paso for over decade now. Wouldn't keep doing it if I didn't enjoy the trip. Wouldn't be worth it if I didn't derive some kind of joy from the trip.
But what makes me happy? What makes you happy? It's a question I'll be faced with - literally - hundreds of times in the next the few weeks. "Look at my chart, tell me what will make me happy."
Right, like I can wave a magic wand, and that effort on my part will straighten out some poor soul's life. All for a few dollars, no less. I do enjoy my work, but I've encountered a great number of folks who are just not happy these days. And I don't have an answer.
Sure, a chart and a reading have many clues, but I can't do the client's work. That's not up to me to make something better in your life. I happen to really enjoy what I do. I trimmed some of my workload so that I could concentrate on just the parts that I enjoy. Web tweaking? That's an intellectual challenge for me. Layout and design? Visual arts? That's amusing, to a certain extent. Leads me think about matters in a strictly analytical sense, again, pleasurable experience for me. Some of the design work itself might not be so great, but the experience I get from "getting my hands dirty" is.
When the bottom fell out of the last boom time, a lot of folks were miserable. Some still cling to shreds of ideas. Holidays and their related depression are over now. I'm as busy as I can be. In fact, I'm stuck in the same loop I've suggested so many times, to clients. I thought it was rhetorical question, little did I know that I'd get stuck in it, too. If your idea (screenplay, movie, novel, gadget, invention, work of art, whatever the passion is) is so wonderful, then what's stopping you from holding down a part time job in order to make ends meet until that passion pays for itself?
Or, in my case, until that passion pays for itself again. Maybe I've gotten soft. But when I looked over the last year, I understand one more part of myself - I'm less willing to put with certain discussion about what I should be doing.
Another article got me thinking about refining the business model for astrofish.net. As it stands, the model here is quite simple: I write what I write, post it regularly on the server, and that generates web traffic. Out of the traffic, less than 1% of the hits generate a sale of some kind, either a reading, or the sale of an astrology report. But even at just few per day, that's enough to pay for the server. Doesn't cover all the costs, all the time, and I still remember the depth of depression I felt last once 11 month ago, when Mercury was RX, and then again, the last month or two, seeing the established business model cease to function. To be sure, it's paying for itself, but that's about it.
Let's go way back. Two influences started this track. For one, I was upset with what astrology columns I read, the bulk of the material was too layered in old-fashioned astrology thinking, and the material itself was either too arcane, or too focused on one particular pattern. Not very entertaining to me, and/or without a lot of study, not very useful. The other purpose was showcase my writing itself. To that end, within weeks of going weekly, the page landed me an underpaid gig with an AOL incubator baby at the time, Astronet. And although it was, as I found out later, hideously underpaid, with my simple lifestyle choices, I was happy. Between being paid for one column, then two columns, and what I was doing elsewhere, I did well.
Not all good things have to come to an end, but that did. Astronet was eventually shuffled around and bought out by the "Dell Computer" of astrology content.
And I'm back on my own.
I still haven't hit the magic of making money at this game, remember, I spent a portion of January 1, 2003, doing tax related calculations.
The old model for a writer like me, the old methodology was to get picked up by a parent publication. Right now, there is none. I've solicited several, but that's filed under the "we'll get back to you" category.
Then there's my material itself. Too South Austin? Too Texan? Too long for newspapers, that's for sure. On the average, though, I'll get one e-mail per week, and one of those "scopes that are too long" and "don't make any sense" will really hit one person.
I tend to work up to a year in advance. It's simple, too. I was trying to proof read Thursday's column, and I couldn't help but chuckle to myself, "Who thinks this stuff up?"
I did. Point of creation. That's happiness around here. Which doesn't answer the question of the dynamics of web content, or business models, or how to make more money, but being content is important. Much as Dell is big, local industry, look at its business model, what do they sell that's actually new?

The challenge

It came from Jette, as query for some interesting links for Austin weirdness. Like I know a lot about that? Hardly. She writes, "Southerners like to tell stories. They like to tell you the truth, but that doesn't mean they're going to be factual about it."
Any list like this has to start with Bubba's blog.
SWA - UT Local media? Can't help there. As I've been pointedly ignored, time and again, I've given up on the birdcage liners. The Salt Lick more as a tourist thing than real BBQ these days. Stubbs BBQ. Twisted Texas.
Austin's Duck tours?
Jo's Coffee, The Hideout, Halcyon, Bouldin Creek Caffeine Dealer, these places don't have websites. How do I point high tech folks to the real treasures? The date will probably be next fall sometime, how do I include Barton Springs?
Or on my trail for best BBQ, decent TexMex, and the quest for a good breakfast taco? How to include that data? Really good breakfast tacos often include something that looks like "bacon," but might have been roadkill, for all I know. Makes for a better taco, tho.
Local medical facilities? How about the city hospital. "I took one of my workers there one time, he was having a heart attack. They saved him, but it's a teaching hospital, and he got really upset that that they kept bringing all these student through to look at him. He didn't have any insurance, what could I do? He's still pissed."
Green Mesquite, Artz Rib House, The Arroyo, any place on S. First Street, the list goes on. Maybe it would be helpful to explain that we frequently buy our food roadside. Or what constitutes a safe taqueria from less safe one?
[http://www.cafemagnolia.com/>Magnolia Cafe has a website. Hula Hut?
Amy's Ice Cream should be up there. What sort of Tech stuff? Want to see Dell or Apple? Boring cube farms, probably. Downtown's a ghost town these days, no more exciting companies, with employees riding scooters around.
And where does the The Fat Guy fit in? That's quintessential Texan, if not Austin.

Pop culture and authors.

This article and its byline, made me stop and pause. Couple of good points in the article itself, but there's something on top of it, too.
The author of the article is now listed as a senior writer for SPIN. A few years ago, I read his book Fargo Rock City and I was inspired, enlightened, and most important, amused, by the style, the wit, the depth of passion, and in some respects, the subject matter itself. As I recall, shortly after reading the book, I went out and prowled around the used CD stores for various hair-metal, 80's style rock and roll music to add to my overflowing collection of weird items.
Remember the 80's? To be honest, I don't recall that much. I have a narrow field of music that I'm good at, and I can pinpoint songs from that particular set of years with alarming accuracy, but then, I was in the music business running a club in Dallas at the time.
I know the book made an impact on me, I wrote about it several times, back in September, '01. Damn, my Aries buddy still has my copy.
Until that book came out - I don't think that it met with a lot of critical success - then the author's star started to rise. Right after his Saturn Return, he went from being a minor music columnist in a small alternative paper to being major voice in the music scene.
Being a published author will do that, I suppose.


"Instead of 'what's next,' concentrate on what's first."
The Mercury fun just never stops.
That beautiful "violet crown" at Austin's sunset is marred by one little feature: a certain spore. According to sources, it's cedar and juniper. Cedar Fever. That's where my body is tricked into thinking it's got a cold or similar upper respiratory infection, when, in fact, it's just reacting badly to the stuff floating in the atmosphere.
After an evening of lamenting about day jobs over a bowl of "pho," one of my dinning companions asked a rhetorical question, "How do those independent coffee shops stay in business?"
Same way a little astrology web page stays in business, by watching the bank accounts, keeping costs to a bare minimum, and paying substandard wages.
It's a lot more of a dream than the reality of the situation.
I came home to query e-mail, asking for more information about a particular sign - happens to be a specialty of mine - and I responded politely, suggesting either 1) poke around in the web page or 2) [http://www.astrofish.net/shop/order.htm>order an in-depth planet profile.
That's how we stay alive.
What's so irritating, is my response bounced. Gets so I don't want to even bother writing back these days.

Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

Subtitle: Or does it?
So stuffed some coins in my pocket and caught an earlier bus to the other office, secure in my knowledge that "Mi Patron" had taken care of everything, and left the place in fine order.
Mercury, finally off his station and moving backwards now, was determined to mess up my day.
I stopped at Mi Madres and picked up two of the best breakfast tacos in the world. Since Austin the unofficial capital of breakfast tacos, being the best is no easy feat. Prices at that one place, though, they've gone up since they were closed for New Year's. And an extra 50 cents is one less bus ride.
I offered up half my breakfast to Mi Patron, and then I got one of those "talking down" sessions again, how this isn't filled out right, and what do I have against filling out a whole form on this situation, and do I think I could file this in the right place....
He had me doing some paperwork, and when I looked at his paperwork, and I was about to point out that he was doing exactly what he told me not to do, so I made half-hearted attempt at a joke, then decided not to push the point.
All I keep thinking about is "don't surf for porn and answer the phone" as a job description. I don't recall accounting, bookkeeping, project management or contract law as any part of the job. But never mind that now.
Interfere with my day? Man, it's just Mercury. Not going to get me down. It's all little things. Looking at the bigger picture (under a dark Capricorn Moon)? Ain't bad. I had readings on either side of work. That's good. Mercury or no Mercury, the new year is here, and it's off to a start. Maybe not a great start, but not that bad. Although, I made more in hour than I did all day. Makes for a curious balance.
I've been struggling with a term I heard, oddly enough, at one of the Austin Journal Writers meetings, "The Violet Crown," as a term purportedly from O. Henry (Sidney Porter) about Austin. For weeks and weeks, I would gaze at thwe sunset and never catch the "crown" much less, the purple haze. Or anything like it. Brilliant magenta, deep oranges and reds, but I never saw anything that even faintly resembled this "violet crown."
New Year's Eve, I saw it. Clear sky, the feather of cloud or two, bright orange, turning darker at dusk, and then right after the sun had set, there it was. All around. Not in the direction of the sunset itself, but all around the horizon, elsewhere. Looking over the river, looking north, everywhere. Amazing. Right there, without having to look too hard. Hiding, as it were, in plain sight.

Mercury is at it again.

As I've repeated so many times, when Mercury goes retrograde, little annoyances crop up with alarming frequency for about 80% of the population.
Must mean I'm average. Starts out that all my New Year's Eve party plans had to be scrapped because I was going to work at noon, New Year's Day. "It's the first of the month, we always work on the first," was what I was told. Part of the real estate business, what with me temping as a part-time property manager.
Big boss calls me up, early on the first. I was just getting out of the shower, soaking wet, wandering around with a towel draped over my waistline, "There's only, like, about two checks here, and I thought we'd be slammed, so you don't need to come in today."
Sure, that's just as well, because the bus pass I ordered online hasn't arrived yet. Another manifestation of Mercury. A monthly pass costs a whopping ten bucks. Do the math, 20 rides and anything above that is profit. Or free, or something like that. Seeing as how I've been riding the bus six days a week, that means one work week pays for the pass itself, three weeks are good.
Freak out? Why? It's only Mercury, and like I assured that one Virgo New Year's Eve, this first month is going to be full of events just like this. Happy new year.
But having an afternoon off, I had a chance to ruminate around the trail. About two hours worth of trail, as a point. Wearing that T-shirt because it so evocatively caught my feeling, albeit with a little less enthusiasm. Maybe the comment sans the exclamation mark.

That Rose? See, it's a family tradition. Or some rule, someplace. Might even go back to a Spanish land grant, when Texas was still part of Spain. Whenever I amble up to Dallas, according to the family myth as perpetrated by Ma Wetzel, the rose bush in the backyard produces a yellow rose bud. That image was from last week, Xmas in Texas.
I worked long hours on Tuesday, doing maintenance chores at the apartments. I signed a renewal lease for one guy, and in doing so, I saved him hundreds of dollars. Did he tip me? No.
We got off on the subject of tips, the unique Austin tradition of a tip jar being everywhere, and he said he expected to see one on the self-serve salad bar some day. Keep Austin Weird.
The phone at the apartments stopped ringing at 2:30 PM, and I didn't get any more queries about vacant units for the rest of the afternoon. The bookkeeper was trying to close out the year and in a bit of a distracted mode. The boss was trying to be helpful, but my guess is he was just annoying everyone. Well, not me, as I like the guy. Humor him, sometimes, even.
But my phone started buzzing at 4:30 and never stopped. Last minute readings, last minute plans, just about everything was incoming.
"Dude, I got an e-mail from the manager at the Yellow Rose, think we should go up there? Free admission!"
Not me. Last time I set foot in that club was when I was dating a Sagittarius who worked there, six years ago. Not my kind of place to hang out.
A Pisces, a Libra and an Aries neighbor all begged me to show them around a little, and New Years was the perfect time. Bubba bailed, so we just ambled up to 6th Street. Yee-haw. As the night wore on, we wound up back on 4th, at that Irish Pub. I'm afraid the sheer absurdist point of view is missed, when thinking about an Irish pub in Texas, but there it was. We hung around the door for a few minutes, and finally talked our way through the cover charge - it was after midnight - and I hung back, right by the front door because the place was noisy, crowded, and the scenery was better watching everyone coming and going. My friends all headed for the bathrooms.
I was standing there, all alone, lurking, when a form staggers from across the room, "Kramer! Eeee!" My Virgo friend. She totters over to me, in dress that was a little tight, mushes up against me, lays a faintly alcoholic kiss on my lips, and then I notice, behind her, two guys staring at her and me. And looking at her ass. She still had her arms around me, possibly a sign of affection, possibly for support. "I'm a little drunk. He."
I whispered back in her ear, "Hold on a minute, let's give them something to talk about," and I patted her ass like I knew what I was doing. We exchanged a few words, and I summed up the upcoming astrological milieu for Virgo in a few short words: "Don't hate me in January when nothing goes too well. Just wait. It's going to be a good year. April, July, August, all good, 11 months. Just not January."