and three-0.

Travel notes: the anchovy forks:
Sister and I have a long running feud that stems from a love of anchovies. It started as children, I'm sure, and given my sister's propensity to stretch and mold the truth to for any applicable situation, I'm not sure just exactly how reliable she'll be as a source.

The problem cropped up several years ago after our parents had moved into their retirement home, a new place, all on one floor, and only three bedrooms. As in, one bedroom for Ma Wetzel's office, a bedroom for master's beds, and a single guest bedroom. Which is a good idea as it precludes any chance of Sister or me trying to move back in. Not that it would happen, but you never can tell what the whims of Fortune's gentle zephyrs will do.

Somehow, we'd wound up in Dallas at the same time. So this was far enough in the distant past that I had a lover in Dallas, and I would stay with her, rather than impose on the good will of the parents. Plus my sister would be - perforce - out of my immediate business. Nothing's more awkward than a bouncing Gemini at 5 in the morning, 'Hi! Talk to me!"

So it was over Caesar Salad one night, and the two of us, Sister and me, we were gently arguing about who got the little tin of flat anchovy filets. Ma Wetzel noted the discord and in her matronly attempt at harmony, there appeared two cans of filets at the next meeting. And ever more.

So Sister, in her wisdom, as is her wont, employed her wisdom on this diverse occasion, procured two jars of special anchovy filets, done British style, complete with a little anchovy fork shrink-wrapped to the jar. That was the fun part. Really, the anchovies are less of a meal and more like a little love token, an offering.

I love them. She did point out that the anchovies are really rather good during peak stress times, as well as peak physical labor, "Oh yes, lots of salt to replenish the salt you just sweated out, and then there's the protein. It's really good, too."

I was just a little worried about the sodium, but she's the microbiologist, so I can defer to her on this point.

I packed the two jars of anchovy filets, wondering about the forks. Less than three inches long, and by my standards, only good for digging anchovies out of the jar. But I separated the forks from the jars as I was carrying that precious cargo with me. Turns out that it was completely unnecessary, but I try to be as accommodating as possible.


Travel notes.
Subtitle: Keep it all in the family?

Got home safe and sound woke up the next day, drank half a cup of coffee, and wound up at the doc-in-the-box. Funny thing, after going through it all? The doc gave me the exact same kind of medicine Sister was on.

I was in and out in less than two minutes, armed with a script for some antibiotics. A transcript, it went a little like this:

"I just got back from being with family (no mention of overseas travel or ten hours in a confined space), and Sister came down with some infection, and she probably passed it on to me."

"Did it have name?"


"Like 'monkey pox' or 'SARS,' or 'Swine Flu'?"

Grin. "No."

He felt, listened, looked and wrote a prescription for some dope that'll get me all better. After one day, I already feel better.

I'm wondering if this qualifies as a family tradition, the getting sick and spreading it all around. Happens every other year, or so it seems.

The hat
"If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest -- in all its ardour and paradoxes -- than our travels."

The Art of Travel. Alain de Botton. NY: Pantheon Books, 2002.

The "hat of power" is just a standard issue 5X Beaver, made by the Peter Brothers, in Ft. Worth. That's Ft. Worth, Texas - Peter Brothers, downtown since - oops - no net access here, I'll have to wing it. I think they've been there for over a hundred years, which, in Texas, is a long time for a business. Maybe not like Tower of London - old, but respectable old enough for my Texas tastes.

The hat of power did me grand service in keeping my pate warm, and the hat shielded, except for once, from the typical questions I get when traveling aboard, especially in England, "Hey do you know where (famous landmark) is?"

Which really isn't so odd, I mean, I do know where a couple of the best places are. I can navigate London without a map. Or, at least, I can get around pretty well.

I was anticipating a couple of responses, and I was a little fearful of anti-American backlash, but I never ran into that sentiment. Might've been my long locks. Might've been a number of influences, but I wasn't really there long enough to figure it out. I wouldn't plan on going to England - or any place in Northern Europe - in the winter time. Too damn cold, hat or not, so I figured this was my one chance to get pictures with me and a hat, and like I suspected, it turned into a hat of power. Crowds parted. Folks stepped up and out of the way.

That opera
(again) What fun. No, that should be "What fun!" New cast, same show, and, as always another nugget of information, I'll pass along. Later. After I thumb through the libretto.

It did happen, the "hat of power" failed me. Finally. Six days on the road, and in the Fortnum & Mason's elevator? A guy asked me for directions.

And now? Back to the USA. Homeward bound.

"We do it our way," Sister said, "R & R: Rest and Repack."

Travel notes: the anchovy forks:
Sister and I have a long running feud that stems from a love of anchovies.

What they need is a "Jet Lag Café"- for all those Americans who can't sleep at 4 in the morning.

Sister and then some
Sister is amused at times, and distraught at other times - she still hasn't forgiven me for posting a picture of her somnolent form on the web - but she did catch a couple of points in the text I wrote - she caught the very points I was trying to get across. Unlike, say, my own dear Ma Wetzel who just grouses about the inaccuracy of text. "But you said that, Mom, I have three witnesses."

"Bah. Those witnesses lie."

So while Sister was laid up on the couch, she dog-eared a few of the pages, "Kramer, that book of your essays is fucking brilliant," she said.

Had some damn fine fish and chips at the Tate Modern museum. Just sort of all fit into place to dine there, and the Brits do deserve accolades with the way they can cook with hot grease. From thence, it was a quick tour through the Globe and from thence to the Museum of London, then off to the theater for a little RSC.

It was a production of that old fave, Romeo y Juliet. Good, solid production. I'm sorry to say, I found the pacing, in the second half, to be a little off. Not a bad show, and well-worth the price of admission, but the pacing, seemed a little slow. Firs half? Really excellent.

Not put out for the general public
The Sagittarius, not me, but the other one, she found the hot hook-up for cold cuts and such. I mean who else but the British can come up with something that wonderfully combines meat (roast beef) and pastry (beef Wellington).

She'd been shopping at Fortnum and Mason's, and she talked the sales clerk into some kind of deal about product that "was not put out for the general public."

Just think, purveyors to royalty, the titular heads of Europe - we got the goods. Feast on.

Back to that again, if Sister looks at naked women, it's "art," but if I look at naked females, it's "porn."

Tourist trip:
Visit the Tate Modern.

In delirium, there is madness:
Sister was explaining about being on BBC Radio, the first time, "They asked, 'what are you going to do for Christmas?' and I told them that me and my family were going to sit around and eat." It's what we do.

Sister is much better thanks, no doubt, to the dial-a-mood suppositories. There, stick that...

The big one
London's a funny old town, at once, the center of civilization, as we know it - the very pinnacle - and yet, also the symbol of what's wrong with the modern world, the decline and decay of the western world. The old and the new. The death, decay, decadence, and yet, all the fun stuff.

"Dude, pick me up some chocolate. Them brits take their chocolate seriously."

And ham, something called "stolen," and other stuff. It was a little like camping out, forced to improvise.
Oscar at night

xmas eve
Just a few items from London:

Sister's show closed, the various cast members have been flung onto airplanes and sent to their respective destinations, and Sister got sick.

I popped into her sickroom, the back bedroom, and I pointed out that I was eating Sticky Toffee Pudding, and because she was sick, she couldn't have any.

Here, take my picture?
No exit
Genius Bar (Regent Street)


xmas (xmoose) eve's eve
Just pictures from the road, or from the foot traffic, as it were.
Shopping - Hatchard's Bookstore (established 1797)
Dinner with Sister's troop
Club Capricorn
Muse of astrology - xmoose version

Hey, they were right!
Sometimes, the weather predictors do make an accurate call. Austin was cold and wet, as the weather-scope oracle predicted, as we shuffled off to the airport. "International flights need to check in two hours prior to departure."

Concept of time. Seems to be a bit illusionary for my dear Sister.

"Where are you? Why do I get nothing but voice mail on your answering machine? Why can't you pick up the phone?"

Transatlantic flights - funny, they take a while.

"Oh Kramer, you should've been here last night."

All right, a little coffee, a little breakfast, a quick spin down the avenue (Piccadilly Circus), and some almost normal sleep, and life is better.

Picture - the view from here - thus far:
(London Homesick Blues)
Album : Viva Terlingua
Jerry Jeff Walker

Well, when you're down on your luck,
and you ain't got a buck,
in London you're a goner.
Even London Bridge has fallen down,
and moved to Arizona,
now I know why.
And I'll substantiate the rumor
that the English sense of humor
is drier than the Texas sand.
You can put up your dukes,
and you can bet your boots,
that I'm leavin' just as fast as I can.

I wanna go home with the armadillo.
Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene.
The friendliest people and the prettiest women
you've ever seen.

Well it's cold over here, and I swear,
I wish they'd turn the heat on.
And where in the world is that English girl,
I promised I would meet on the third floor.
And of the whole damn lot, the only friend I got,
is a smoke and a cheap guitar.
My mind keeps roamin', my heart keeps longin'
to be home in a Texas bar.


Well, I decided that, I'd get my cowboy hat
and go down to Marble Arch Station.
'Cause when a Texan fancies, he'll take his chances,
and chances will be takin, now that's for sure.
And them Limey eyes, they were eyein' a prize,
that some people call manly footwear.
And they said you're from down South,
and when you open your mouth,
you always seem to put your foot there.

Two-Meat Tuesday redux
Buddy calls me up, "Hey, what you doing for lunch? Two-Meat?"

Sounded like a plan. I looked at my suitcase and the inbound e-mail, and I figured, sure, one last day to wander around in shorts. Texas is due for an arctic blast soon enough, but I'll miss it. I'll be in London town, in the middle of winter. 37 in London, and 73 here.

So it was two-meat platter, the brisket was a little dry, and the pork ribs weren't all that wonderful, but the help was saucy, if a little inattentive. We did a get a "headshot" with antlers. Way it goes. I wandered next door for a box of worms.

So after a little gentle chiding, I baited a hook and started to feed the fish. I caught a couple of little perch, but suddenly, they all disappeared. Meant a hunter-killer big-bass feeding machine was present. Was he ever. I put two worms on the hook, and dangled it right down where he was cruising. Bent the rod in half. Big bruiser. Old friend, really, I mean, he usually puts a single fishy eye-ball on me. He was not happy. But he did get to keep the bait, I thought it was fair, he got a meal and picture. What an excellent way to wrap up the xmoose time.

Two-Meat Tuesday
1) Packing. 2) Quotes.

I've been "on the road" for over a decade now. That's some miles. I finally broke down, after shuffling through close to a dozen of the cheaper suitcases, and picked up a decent one. I've been using a standard "Neo-con Yuppie Scum roller board" (carry-on size) for years. Isn't large enough. I finally graduated to a slightly larger model, with wheel, in hopes that it will do the trick. It's full of xmoose goodies for the family, and I'm about to saddle up and head off on the silver bird for the UK. Xmas in London. Seeing as how Sister had a show up over there, it was time to go. But packing is no fun.

Travelin' Man (Leon Wilkeson -- Ronnie VanZant)
"I was born a travellin' man, that's all I'll ever be
Moving around from town to town its what makes me so free..."

"It's cold over here, and I swear, I wish they'd turn the heat up...." (London Homesick Blues)

Or, better yet?

It's the King ("I married your mom") to Hamlet (el guano-loco prince dude):

"Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety--
Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done--must send thee thence
(With fiery quickness). Therefore, prepare thyself.
The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
Th' associates tend, and everything is bent
For England.

Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act Four, scene three, lines 41-47.

T-minus one day and counting.
Looks like it's cold over there.

I was with a particular Libra, and it turned into a Libra flavor for the day. I was trying to hook her up with whatever available male seemed to hit the radar screen. I pointed one out, and she just demurred.

"Oh, can't you hear him say it? 'You know how many fashion magazines I had to read to look like I didn't care about fashion magazine'?"

Never argue style with a Libra - they are usually just better appointed.

I found & read this entry, and what I thought? That opening line? How hard is it to not write every day?

(file this one under typical Austin humor): a clip about signing your life away.

Fish notes:
After a busy and productive morning, I rolled on over to the lake around 4 in the afternoon, my recent stack of inbound mail still in my pocket. I had one, but he got away, snapping the line at the hook (after wrapping himself and the line around a submerged log). One miss. Sister returned a phone call, and while I was juggling the phone, I missed a second hook set. At the mailbox, a neighbor asked if I fished every day.

"Every day I can."

The fish are slow, on the bottom and eating anything that moves. Like a blue worm. But I did get >one for the day:

Holiday fun.
It's a thin line, that break between reality and the fantasy world. Navigating that thin line is a task I am supposedly well adapted to handle.

I'm not sure what became what, when, on Sunday. As a professional astrologer, I can write it all off to the fact that Mercury was backwards. In Sagittarius. My sign. My stuff.

Expectations were zero. About the time the call came in, "My friends from LA are here, let's dash off to meet them," I begged out. I'd been running at a manic pace all day. Started innocuously enough, I suppose, withy a simple client-Kramer breakfast at Bouldin. It's not like I had a lot of sleep from the previous night, either. Not that I needed much, but I just didn't have much.

Then came a quick dash to the Blue Genie art & crafts fair, which, I might add, was a certainly a cut above the usual fare available. Each booth displayed material that was distinct in its own right.

I called Sister, "Hey, you still using that flimsy plastic thing for a wallet?"

I picked her up a selection of wallets, user friendly, artistically rendered, and made of animal-free plastic. Or something. Found a nice hat for her. Leopard skin print with kitty ears.

Then we wandered off to the mall. Not really a good idea, the last weekend before xmoose, but it did result in my Aquarius friend snagging her "impossible to buy for brother-in-law" a bottle of hot sauce. Where I mentioned the old "scorned woman hot sauce," and the guy behind the counter asked about it.

"Dude, on the scale? It goes to 11," I explained.

Stopped at the Apple store, picked up an iTunes gift card for Sister and a peripheral that Pa Wetzel requested.

Somehow we wound up at the Austin Museum of Art and the Andy Goldsworthy display. Interesting artwork. Rather, it was pictures of sculptures and installations done in nature, and quite breathtaking. Which meant we ran into the birthday girl - friend-of-a-friend. Introductions. Coffee. Sushi.

Then it all gets blurry, something about a roller derby skater named by her Indian name, "Little Bladder Full of Beer." Or maybe it was Blanche Davidian. And Mona Littlemore.

"You got your Jewish Mother Guilt, the Xtian guilt, usually, Catholic, and finally, my mom was a hippie. Hippie Guilt. She would ask, 'Are you aware of the natural consequences of your actions?' Every time. Worse than the other guilts."

I forgot the Tofu steak. That was good, too. Don't even ask - almost as good as chicken-fried tofu.

Not the oracle, part three
(in two part-harmony)

Got in from fishing and I cleaned up and lay down. For a long winter's nap. Just as I was good and asleep, the cell phone rings.

"What are you doing? I'm here with Mom and Dad, and we're talking about you. Because you're not here of course. What do want for Xmas? We've got lots of food."

I was in that state of almost complete sleep; I'm guessing I was about 30 minutes into a two-hour power nap. And I was hoping that I could drift back to sleep. Sister persisted.

"Here, talk to Mom. No, wait, talk to Dad. Are you sick? Why are you asleep?"

I was up before the sun, on the lake before sun-up, frost on the boat cover, barefoot at 2 in the afternoon, still fishing, and I was headed out to the movies later.

"What are you going to see?"

Doubled-header, "Santa Versus Satan," a 1960 Mexican film with marginal production qualities, but timeless in its own right, and rendered in "better than surround sound" Foleyvision (live accompaniment). Then Purple Rain.

"Mom says she's heard of Purple Rain. Is it any good?"

In that movie, Apollonia asks The Kid (Prince), "Are those your folks?"

He replies, "(can't make out my notes) freak show."

I did spend a little time unglued because the movie was so "1984." Not in the Orwell sense, but in the sense of, "Hey, that's my generation." I lived through that. The style, the music, and then, at the end, the audience's reaction, with cheering and arm waving.

I've seen lots of Prince video. Too much, maybe, and the music still makes me want to move. But somehow, I don't think I ever saw the whole movie. Not that I missed anything, or, maybe I did see the movie, but I was in no condition to remember it.

Which, of course, is why I live like a monk.

As the oracle predicted, part numero dos
5:59 AM, phone rings, "Kick her out dude, time to fish."

What was odd, I was still in bed. Asleep. (Alone: I live like a monk.) What's not so odd is that it took about three minutes to get dressed and hustle out the trailer's door. For some reason (Mercury is retrograde in Sagittarius - that's my story), the alarm clock didn't go off.

It was very foggy on the lake. Part of that was a function of the relative temperature, the lake itself was 60 to 65 degrees, and there was ice on vehicles, as we approached in the cold pre-dawn dark.

There had been much discussion pertaining to the right bait to use. I opted to listen to wiser, better-versed with this lake, gentleman's advice. But I was also complaining, albeit in a gentle, chiding way, that the set-up might have been a set up for me to catch no fish.

"What did you catch it on? Huh?"

So he was right. So there. Proves something.

As the oracle predicted
Business started Friday morning. Which gave me a new one: the three-month rule.

"If he starts acting mean in three months? Find another man."

Looks like costs are going up, and I'll be forced to pass this increase onto the consumer.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:
I tossed a few worms in the lake, at one time they were attached to a fishing line and pole, and I was largely unsuccessful until almost sundown. In between, I did wander downtown to tend to business, and I did enter into another barista barrage.

"So, what's your birthday? I asked.

Leo. The other barista smirked. I mean, she smirked in a snarky, smirky way, punctuated with a great rolling of the eyes.

I pleaded my case.

"But The Leo is always the best."

More animated smirkiness. From a Scorpio, no less. I got out of there as fast as I could.

I'm up and out the door to hit the lake: Saturday's supposed to be a mirror image of Friday, damn near freezing at night, but almost 70 by the end of the afternoon. But weather in Texas is a fickle mistress.

Friday five
Is there still such a thing? Do I even care? I can imagine that this should look like the bullet points on a presentation. But if there are bullet points on a presentation, then everyone will yawn. Those "presentations" with the factory-made templates make me very sleepy.

1) Missed one, and it's important, St. Valerian's day (Ides of December) - the saint we appeal to for protection from cold and snow.

2) I was exchanging e-mail with clients, and looking at blogs, two unrelated activities. But I was thinking, been thinking about this a lot, partly because of the book I was reading, too, and what I miss about not having live grandparents? That five buck they used to slip me. Came at xmoose time. In a more caustic mode, I'd think, "five buck, no big deal," but on cold nights like Thursday night, all alone, it's the thought that counts.

4) Devo on the stereo. "Going downtown." "We're through being cool." Which brought about a new name for Thursday, I was thinking, "freeloading Friday" instead of Friday Five, since that's what I did. Free bandwidth at two coffee spots, free food, first from a Libra (bless her larcenous soul), and then from a Gemini.

5) Weather. All depends. Might be fishing at "oh-dark-thirty" in the AM. Wait and see.

Number three was lost in a spam filter.

Friday addendum:
Which, I suppose, I could tag to that Devo note. Wasn't Devo (originally) classified as "New Wave?"

"We're through being cool."

For me, it's off that "greatest hits" CD. Took two passes through my stacks of CDs to find it - I knew I had it. What was playing earlier, though, at the coffee house? I'm pretty sure it was Devo's New Traditionalists CD - with a 1981 release date. A little Libra guy was spinning the CDs yesterday morning. The music, it was almost as old as he was. Off by a year or so, but a good juxtaposition as any.

Which then lead back to the weirdest occurrence I've had in since - seems like July - a Friday with nothing on the books. No readings. No phone appointments. Nothing. Easy to predict that, by noon, the schedule will fill up and I'm going to bed very early so I can get up and maybe fish Saturday morn. Still, it's the first absolutely blank day I've seen in a while. There's a spin on that, though, with that electronic datebook/calendar? I've rearranged schedules about 43 times, and there's been items scheduled and erased or moved, a half-dozen times. Mercury mayhem, for sure.

Hard Freeze
Wednesday morning, I was hoping I would be suiting up for fishing. Before I crawled out of a warm bed, punctuated with the cat singing the blues, that phone rang, "It's 22 degrees at the airport." When I got around to checking, moments later, it was 21 degrees, here.

I'll lose part of a garden. I'll wonder who didn't drip water and has frozen pipes.

Too cold to fish in the morning, but that didn't stop me from thinking about a new hairstyle. I've got to consider, especially after the blustery boat ride, and what that did to my hair, I'm thinking dreadlocks would be a good idea. Far more manageable.

After Tuesday morning and afternoon? I'm halfway there, already.

Unrelated retail fish tales:
"Man, you got to love this place," my buddy was telling me. Smart shopper (Virgo).

He had a new reel, two, in fact, so I picked up my xmoose present to myself, a shiny new Capricorn spinning reel. Got home, strapped it on, tied a cotton-candy colored grub on, and went to test it.

Third cast. Solid hit. Felt like I was struggling with a submerged branch, only this guy fought hard.

Daiwa Capricorn Spinning Reel - CA2000A - $99.00
The reel's model name is Capricorn. Means good things are in store for the future.

December 15, 2004, nice piece of bass

plus one at night

I got to looking at the pictures, one's from the phone, the other is from the "el-cheapo deluxe digital" jobbie, and both pictures look like the same fish. Almost as if I'd seen him before, earlier in the afternoon. Maybe not the brightest of fish, but a nice fighter. And the fighter is free again. Very different baits, too.

Ides of December
Fish on, and then some.

"Dude, it's going to be cold."

It was. Wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, and I suited up in the spare winter suit, and I was good to go. First fish of the day, by the power plant (Lake Fayetteville) was mine. I tossed him back before I got a picture, but it was nice fish, about this big.

Not long after that came the next fish.
There's something rather surreal about looking at smoke on the water, really just steam, rising up from the surface, with a cold winter sun burning through the mist, and the smoke stack in the background, plus a strong north wind, making it rather more choppy than usual. But fun, nonetheless.

There was something almost spooky, perhaps a little eerie, looking out from under a ball cap, brow sweating, a freezing wind billowing down, and that steam rising up off the water. With concentration and a rather narrow field of vision, I wasn't sure where I was.

It's also all about the total experience. Instead of turning left, we took a right and towed the boat into Fayetteville, "BBQ in Smithville, or just grab a bite here?"

"Here" turned out to be Orsak's Café, on the square. Not like there's much of a town, either, but it was nice. The blue plate, or chalkboard, special was "Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes, Black-Eyed Peas & Dessert (Large $4.50, small $4.00)."

Deal of the day. Priced right, tasted fine, and I'm not sure, but I think the mashed sweet potatoes had some onion in them. Not much, but not what I'd expect. Made it even better.

It's all about the total experience, remember? Caught a couple of fish. Smoke on the water. Fine dining in a little café in a small town in Texas.

Of course, watching the other diners? My buddy kept suggesting lyrics from Charlie Daniels' "Uneasy Rider."

Me? I was enthralled by the bulletin board. Deer tracking services, hunting dogs, fence repair, a bearded lizard (iguana?) for sale, whole stories on that one little board, life's ebb and flow in a small town that was bypassed by the interstate and big highways.

"Watch him folks because he's a fairly dangerous man..."

More stuff.
(And to me, it's interesting):
The quote? "Vincit qui primum gerit"

The tangential link.

(login/registration required, and from & devnull)

I hate posting and then fact - checking.

Pay forApple's itunes with PayPal now?

All unrelated:

Gemini meteors? Right by Saturn.


Snopes link again.

That memorial service. But Arlington, TX? I just never imagined that it was a metal town. Could be me, though. My perceptions are skewed.

I got message, that said, basically, "What's too cold to fish?"

I'm thinking, with the current planetary disarray, maybe having to cut holes in ice is too cold.

We'll see this morning.

Kept looking, but no luck finding Xmas enchiladas. Xmas "migas" at Twin Sisters again. Those rock.

Looked for the magic tortilla at Mi Tierras again. Again, no luck. However, my gyrations with the little digital camera and the tortillas caught the attention of the neighboring table.

I had to explain, looking for Mary in a taco. Tortilla, really.

Did score another Xmas gift. Amy's T-shirts for the whole family.

And the dessert notice, from Twin Sisters.
What do you want?
Christmas Enchiladas.

Seems like that's a tough call to match.

Christmas enchiladas are tough to find, more so than I thought. I found shrimp, nothing like a plate of shrimp, but Xmas enchiladas? One red and green enchilada, right? Shouldn't be a tough order to fill.

One breakfast was migas, done tastefully with red and green tortilla strips, so that was close, But not quite what I was looking for.
Bit of snob, now aren't I?
Yeah, well, funniest thing I've red in a while, not the whole thing, just one line struck me as rather amusing. Ironic, even, in its finest sense:

"Eating lunch at the best Mexican restaurant in all of Columbus" (via More Sarah).

"Sun in my eyes, wind at my back, top down on my Cadillac, smile on my face it ain't going away. Got the wheels turning, I made my escape. I'm headed south again. Headed south again. Getting out again, Look out, I'm coming about. Headed south again, lord I'm headed south."

"Moon on my left sun on my right, I don 't what I'm doing, but I'm doing it right. I'm sitting on G headed and I'm waiting on O, I'm someplace between Marfa and old Mexico."

(Larry Joe Taylor's Headed South)

(really, just a file shot that finally caught up with me)

I'm headed south again. Not like San Antonio is that far south, but it's a noticeable difference.

As the late, great Doug Sahm observed, can't get a decent enchilada in Austin anymore. But in SA?

Mining (not really redux)
I went mining the other morning. Evening. Sometime.

"Life is a freak show - I just do the charts." (original source)

Preceded by Sex & Cash.

That was just weird. Wandered over to a coffee shop to meet a client, who was running late. I was quietly, and as unobtrusive as I could be, observing a lad make conversation to a clutch of females. In walks a another girl. I tap her on the shoulder.

"I was here first, you're following me."


She introduced me to the guy, her boyfriend. We sat, chatted, and then they moved on. Next client.

I wandered down the hill, crossed a bridge, checked the PO Box for promised funds, which did arrive, and then I wandered on out to another coffee shop.

"Hi Kramer," times three. Pisces, Taurus, Leo, Gemini. Four. Whatever.

On homeward, I noted a car, on the way to the bank. I was on the way to the bank, the car was just sitting there.

One of those would make a cool home.

Little fish before dinner. Jig pole. Jig. Fish.

More about the process? Plus a favorite item or two?
Should file this one under "the writing life."

Wish list (uno):
This book just looked like fun.

Unrelated "best of":
Brannagh's Hamlet and that really nice version of Titus - both on the list. And John Sayles' Lone Star.

Unrelated fish:
Two by noon, bass & perch. Each was too small for a picture. Although, now that I think about it, that bass looked mighty familiar - none too happy with me, neither.

Unrelated sartorial notation:
The phone hat? It's not really a hat, it's a bandana. I've got several. I finally opted for a 'cowboy' (extra large) model, after years of struggling with 'do-rags' - trying to find something that fits. I used to use a phone headset that included a long clip to hold the earpiece and microphone in place. Wednesday was one of those days when I slipped the phone hat on (after I got out of the shower, see next notation), and I never took it off. Never really got a chance. I did sneak off with a sweet and injured Pisces for quick cup of coffee and cookie. But I had to hustle home to answer more phone calls. Never took the phone hat off.

"Into your heart it will reach," I think that's how it goes. I just got up from the toilet. No, I was actually still in a seated position, and I leaned into the shower to turn on the water, so it would heat up the pipe between the water heater and the showerhead- a distance of a mere few feet. I'm imagining, like in a cartoon, the little green water hose with a bulge making its way to the trailer.

"Bam! Bam! Bam!"

A persistent, insistent knock on the front door.

I grab a towel, wrap it around my waist and greet that Sagittarius delivery guy. Again.

I'm not paranoid, but he ONLY knocks when I'm in the shower. Good thing I wasn't in the shower, or I would have my now-trademarked "drowned Kramer" look.

"Yeah, I usually see you either after a shower or after you've been in Barton Springs, huh?"

He grinned. I cursed a blue streak.

(He really is a cool guy and straight arrow - Sagittarius - but he does wait until I'm in the shower. Every time. Been like this for years.)

Two-Meat Tuesday
Uno: BBQ
Dos: Write & erase
Side-dish headlines:

That was weird. I wandered up the BBQ place to a, oh heck, call 'em a client, and to talk about certain matters and a (good) research project that involves charts and stars and such. I'm pretty sure they were playing with me, but the two waitresses were fighting over me, and I got glared out for not sitting in the right place. The other was unctuous with her service, "Yeah, well, I'm bored." Then , as we wrapped up our discussion, I meandered to the other side of the restaurant to avail myself of the little boy's room. I spotted a familiar visage, "Kramer? I was just thinking about you."

Small world, getting smaller by the day. I didn't think about it at the time, but after my first appointment departed and I sat with the other client, I plopped a Styrofoam package of worms right up next to the brisket (for the cat). I sure hope that didn't put her off her feed. The client, obviously, the brisket didn't bother the cat.

Write & erase, write and & erase (repeat as needed):
It's all about process. It's all about passion. It's all about heart's desire. I thought my original intent was to write about how to be an astrologer, but I realized that most of that was just the same information, slightly repackaged. The real trick is passion and process.

I covered a good 2K words, meandering around like I usually do, and I was attempting to distill what the essence of a particular type of endeavor requires. I stumbled into this business, not by a direct route, but sort of a backdoor - in other words, I didn't set out to do this, it has grown as an organic destination, and sometimes, that leaves the path to progress as a murky trail.

The most important component, what became apparent after writing and erasing all those words, was the point to this endeavor, or for that matter, just about any endeavor, the real trick is two-fold. Process and passion. Or passion and process.

Christopher Moore had a rather good and thoughtful bit of information about the process he goes through when he's writing a book. He's a Virgo, just sort of figures, right? I know, just from a casual glance, what kind of astrology chart he's got, and I understand the forces at work in his life. It's a generational influence that I'm looking at. I share that.

So finding a niche, locating a place, a spot, a little but of turf to call my own, his own, your own, that's tough. That's the passion part of the deal.

I spent three years at a university, taking every creative writing class/workshop they offered. I studied with several well-known authors. I participated in countless workshops outside of the university environment. I learned, basically, one useful piece of information. Write every day. That's the process, pure and simple.

The passion is a little more difficult. Isolate what matters. Or, what interests grab the intellect.

I've got a number of different interests, from fishing to opera. What really interests me the most though, is psychology. Not the formal study of how people interact, but the informal study of humanity as whole, and individuals. That's also called literature. A little history, a little Western Lit, a few good thrillers, maybe even a Chris Moore book about zombies, sex and Christmas holidays?

It's got two parts, something I have passion about and then the process of putting that passion to the page.

Side-dish headlines:
Motley Crüe to reunite?

IBM PC biz?

Northern Ireland peace prospects?

Ultimate mobile home?

Which leads to e-mail mayhem?

Theft - intellectual property
I was about to link to this comic strip from the scopes, but once I got into it, I discovered that there's a very clever - clever as far as I'm concerned - pitch for sponsorship. That pitch comes before the real strip is available. Nice way to sneak in adverts.

Personally, I'm rather fond of the cat in this strip, too. So that one made me giggle, wonder if I could steal that? "Harry Da Vinci Ring - the horrible scopes."

Shades of the future?

I might have to switch from tortillas in my quest for the perfect image. On a related note, if I still lived in the Phoenix area, I'd be looking to switch to that one dentist, too.

All it leads back to is a little more marketing, and I'm trying to figure what's not too intrusive yet carries the message. Besides, my eternal internal debates, when to sell out (not like I've got any offers pending, but it could happen).
First draft.
Second draft, but oddly, not much less of a footprint.

It's not unrelated:
Mercury - being backwards and all - means I've got a little extra time to assess business decisions in the last year, and consider directions and goals for the coming year. What worked, what was a success, what didn't work, and where to go from here. What worked? Scopes. Length and breadth has finally hit a comfortable spot for me. Not too comfortable, but there's a process involved, and I've got most of that worked out. I still felt a twinge of panic when I looked at all of 2005, all those blank page holders.

Some mystical chatter is bit too much. That spooks folks. Plus the "free" horoscopes are losing a little ground, as folks realize that the stuff on the front page is last week's material. But the flip side of that, the site is gaining in paying customers. I was offended by a sales guy who called me up to talk about astrology when all he wanted was to sell me ad space. Of the ads that I've tried, nothing's worked. I tend to steer clear of various "new age" directories because those, it's been my experience, cost a lot more than the business generated.

Another success, and one I aim to expand upon is the weekly audio file. It burns up as much as 10% of the site's bandwidth. Not bad, except that it runs between 1 and 3 megs in size each week. Next year, I plan to archive all the weekly meanderings. Plus, I'm a little closer to having my lectures available on CD.

Unrelated to anything:
Poisson de jour (different day, different fish):

Nice fish for a Monday afternoon.
(Watermelon 4-inch worm, #2 worm hook - she was a fighter)

Really unrelated (except for travel):
As of last count, Austin was ahead of Seattle, way ahead of Dallas or Houston, too. Since we've got all this free WiFi, it means there's a solution to the traffic problem: don't drive. Join me on the sidewalk.

12 Days of Xmas
I couldn't plug this into the scopes, so I just put it here. I suppose it should be filed under "too much time on my hands" department. Wait, isn't that a lyric?

"Yeah man, it was one of those 'one hit wonders' from the 70s."

It was a belated brunch on the east side with a glowing Pisces, which in the minds of some, might refer to a fish that comes out of my lake. Then it was off to Wal-Mart - on a Sunday before Xmas - what was she thinking - and from thence to pick up another Pisces and rendezvous with the journal folks.

There's a law someplace, governs the way the wheel of commerce churn along. We found a really short check-out line at Wal-Mart. Me with a few fishing items and her with a few fish items. Just then the checkers decide it's time for a cashier change. So two women are standing there, with their blue smocks on, and I'm flipping through the pages of the Weekly News of the World Tattler Tribune Enquirer. Some tabloid.

"Look, it says right here, an asteroid will be coming out of Scorpio to smash planet Earth. Figures it would be a Scorpio!"

"Weather patterns are going to be weird! Wow! Who'd a-thunk that? Like an extra ten inches of rain this fall?"

I made some other comment, too, but I don't recall.

"I hope I didn't offend them," I noted, as we departed.

"No Kramer, they were amused. I'm sure."

I think it was punctuated with a roll of the eyes.

From there, it was way far north in Austin, almost to Waco, might even be Ft. Worth, to a restaurant and I was wondering if there was tissue, in case I got a nose bleed on the high overpass, I mean, so far north. I was with two avowed - along with myself - South Austin Snobs. And proud.

"Breakfast served all day" which, as I thought about it, might be a good tag line for something here.

Jette tapped me for undefined services in an undetermined capacity since I had the temerity not to join the holiday dailies list thing. I was trying to explain, it's a list that encourages people to write every day, and to post in their web-journal-log-blog-whatever every day of the holidays. I do that anyway. Matter of form. Besides, I'll be out of town. I can't play.

So over the pancakes, who would think that pumpkin pancakes would mix with gingerbread pancakes so well, I found out why I was desirable in an undefined capacity for an undetermined role that still lacks definition.

"Yes, Kramer, you lack a certain, how can I put this delicately? Class?"

I took that as a compliment.

Still no Mary or her kiddo in the tortilla - can't blame me for trying, though.

Unrelated - coming to terms:
I've got an essay that I've erased twice now, for lack of working introduction, it's a simple, "So you want to be an astrologer" piece, done for my own entertainment. Which lead me on merry little chase through the internet to look at the weblog awards. Which lead to me to understand a few points, I mean, as I was flipping through various nominees, and I didn't dig into their processes, but it's all stuff I've seen before. Same voice, different day. Some of the design awards - I just didn't get. Nothing too spiffy.

What I did see were the "A" list, first-tier names. But from what I've seen in the past, we got plenty of local talent who can code, design and write rings around some of those ("A-list") folks. Of course, we're already in Austin, why go anywhere else?

One of the terms I had to come with was the fact that I'm not A-list. Not even a B-side that becomes a second hit. I'm probably not up with the C-list, either. Does it matter much? There's a certain pleasure that comes from being anonymous. Means I can scamper about barefoot and fish on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon - in the middle of the shortest days of the year.

I suppose, to break into that A-list category, what I'll have to do is get a lot of money for tortilla that has a face on it.

I'm working on it, one flour tortilla at a time.

Coffee shop metaphor
I've used it before, and it looks like I'll have to use it again. I was tending to the garden, rather, I was twiddling the bits that comprise the backend of the website, and I got to thinking about streamlining, and general housecleaning.

I've got three URLs that point here, as of now. The obvious one? astrofish dot net, the original. The second? astrofish dot org, and finally, one I added a few months back? LowBrowMystic dot com. The first two are obvious, the last one is an old moniker from a Gemini & Virgo, a name someone took for a while, but then didn't use. I just bought it up on sale, and I have it point here.

So pursuant to the idea of reviewing everyone's Egg Nog (something) coffee drink, I got off wondering about how my horoscopes fit with the rest of what's out there.

It's simple. The places I prefer, like Jo's, Bouldin Creek, Halcyon, Little City, and the Hideout? Those places all qualify as "funky." A bit off-beat. One step different from mainstream.

Places like Halcyon have cleaned themselves up a little too much, but the coffee's agreeable, and it's a prime location for me, being just a block out of the way coming or going to the post office. Bouldin is preferable these days, but my tastes will vary. Plus I try to suit a spot to any clients I might be meeting. Places like Bouldin are sometimes a little too funkified for the more refined and elegant clients.

"I can't just stop off at your house?"

It's a trailer. It's 300 square feet. No, you can't. There's always that problem with stalkers, too. Don't laugh, it's happened before - "But you're a guy; guys don't have stalkers."

Oh, that's right, just groupies.

In case the message has been missed, I live like a monk. Solitary. Well, I do have a rather large and aging "old lady" cat, but I'm not sure she counts. On cold nights? She's like an electric heating pad. That purrs. And needs her litter box cleaned.

Which reminds me, it's like a coffee shop. A little coffee shop. The furniture doesn't always match. Sometimes the metaphors are strained. Sometimes, too, the help is a little surly.

"Surly to bed, surly to rise, I always say."

There are very places that I go that I'm not known. I was relating tale about what happened the other evening, to my folks, when they were in town. A girl (some woman, actually) was fixing a shot of espresso, offered me a double because she had to draw two instead of one, and I asked her birthday. She looked at me, "You're Kramer, right?"

I never got to finish the rest of the story, so in my parents' minds, it has become a myth.

Which has nothing to do with funky coffee shops, the little, one-off places.

Nicest Leo guy owns/operates the Hideout these days. Or he did. Haven't seen him in weeks. I stopped in one afternoon and I gave him some pat Leo advice, I'd just reread the scopes for the coming week, and it fit his situation perfectly. I like to be right, so do Leos, but that's not part of this discussion I'm having with my keyboard.

In passing, several times, I've learned that he bought the place to learn something about the business end of the business, which, apparently, he has. Much to his chagrin, he's also learned about the depth of depravity, too. Retail is like that. Never underestimate how cruel, vicious, mean-spirited, un-enlightened some people can be. I suppose, though, that those generalities cut right through just about everyone's business. Or even day-to-day human interactions.

I did learn more about coffee from one lad who worked at the Hideout than I've gleaned from most of the others. Taurus. He graduated to a real job, from what I last heard. That happens to some people.

The coffee shop metaphor isn't lost, though. Each place has its own little eccentricities. Even though Halcyon is nothing more than a really cleaned up Ruta Maya, there are days when I miss the shock value alone of a unisex bathroom. I don't think that would fly, not these days. And I'm not taking my funk too funky.

But each place has a signature, a feeling a gentleness of some kind or another. A warm greeting, a particular face manning (or "womanning"?) the espresso machine.

A recent occurrence at Bouldin was telling in this fashion. The proprietor (ess), Aries, was bussing a few tables. That's the way it goes with a small, so-called, "Mom & Pop" store. Which is nice to see. I owned a place once. My similar telling moment was returning from a gala event, dressed in a fancy suit, and having to plunge the toilet in the lady's room. Small business owners understand this. Oh, do we ever.

I streamlined the scopes to the most popular, weighing volume of traffic against time to write the material, and what would be easiest to maintain. I settled on weekly. I even, at one point, held down a regular (part-time) job to help keep this site afloat.

This last year has been good to me. However, on three separate occasions, I made more money at the casino, in a few hours' time, than I made meeting with clients all weekend. I'm not about to abandon what I enjoy doing, though, and run off to become a professional gambler. Some days, I don't win. Never take more than you're willing to lose.

I'd love to hit it big, and then, I'd just run this site for free. Scopes for free. All I would need then is a measly 4 million dollar lottery ticket. Unfortunately, I don't have one of those right now. Therefore, there has to be some way to pay for it all.

I've worked my way along, and more and more of the free web is starting to charge, or beg for bandwidth. There's an animated cartoon site I like. I looked into helping with hosting, but when I got to the fine print, I found out what the volume of bandwidth was, and I couldn't do that much, not without compromising my own site. Ever seen the "user has exceeded allotted bandwidth" messages? Yes sir, can't have that here.

I nipped, tucked, and sewed up as many loose ends as I could, and I'm loathe to run ads, but if I get paid for it, and if that money goes to defray the cost of running the site, then I'm going to do it. More than one email has suggested, "Run all the ads you want! Won't bother me! I don't pay attention to them anyway...."

That's the problem. Or part of the problem. No clicks means no revenue for the advertisers and that means no revenue for the site.

I got one the other day, "I wouldn't want to pay for your stupid horoscopes anyway." Yes, I feel your pain. It hurts to think, doesn't it?

Rather sanctimonious of me, now isn't it? Must be me, then.

But that's what this is all about. A few egregious errors always make it through the editing process. No matter how many proofreaders proof the material, there's always one, two, maybe three that sneak through, right up until it's all live on Thursday morning at 12:00 AM (Mountain Time - where the server is.)

That's kind of like the mouse (computer mouse) with a the bathroom key attached at the Hideout. It's like the innkeeper at Boudlin bussing tables. It's like the rickety chairs at Little City with their canvas covers. It's that special touch. Means it's not homogenized or recycled from some other source, either.

It also means, when the plumbing is backed up? Only one person gets the joy of fixing it. That's me.

St. Barbara's Day
Lest we forget, the patroness of brewers.

Unrelated coffee notes:
I was going to do a review of each coffee shop's version of Egg Nog (whatever) but when I asked at Halcyon, they were out. Had a shot of espresso. Little City? No such thing, there, just a shot to go. Hideout? Again, no luck, one more for the road. But that was three shots of espresso, so I figured I could emulate regular media and just make up reviews. Isn't that how it works?

But the deal is, most of the places, in fact as far as I know, all of the places but Starbucks use straight nog in the mix. Makes for a rich, creamy variation on a theme, but it's still the same thing, and to my unrefined and decidedly unsophisticated palate, the straight nog mix is too rich. Has enough empty calories to fuel a person for a whole day, too.

But at the ubiquitous Starbucks, the mix is part skim milk, part nog. Makes a difference - not too rich.

Unrelated fishes:
I was supposed to meet a Pisces in the afternoon, but she called and begged off to take a nap or something, so I wandered home and put the last of the worms on a hook. I had a little perch playing with the worm for a while and then, the bobber went under and didn't come back. I reeled this little girl in:
(on live nightcrawler, no less)
It's not the best picture, but she was flopping around pretty good. Plus, I was trying to include the pole's brand, it's a crappie rig, which meant the little girl almost broke it. That was fun - not much is better on winter afternoon than a feisty fish on a really light set-up.

Best of 2004?
Time for a best of 2004 list? Not like this is anywhere near objective. And it's not like I care. Instead of a top ten list, how about three? Kind of like Thursday's Three-meat platter?

Best books:
Best novel is going to have to be the Quicksilver trilogy, Quicksilver, Confusion and System of the World, which, all in all, as I was reading the last 100 pages of the final book in the series, I got to thinking about how tightly woven the entire tale was, combining history, myth and a little hard science plus some "stuff blowing up" - always integral in a good bit of action fiction.

Related to book notes, I got meet author Tim Dorsey at a book signing, while he was on tour. I've grown rather found of one of his main characters, in my mind, a typical manic Gemini, just picture perfect. What disturbed me, and still disturbs me, even to this day, Tim Dorsey looked so normal. "He seemed like such a nice guy, you know." But his novels are brilliant. Even fun. Weird, Tim Dorsey is an Aquarius. And he never did explain about waking up in Miami on couch, wearing nothing but a Viking helmet.

I was looking for a third book note to fill in the three here, and when I glanced through this last year's reading list, I realized that there were two books that had a lot to do with both my education and spiritual background, as well as connecting me with that Quicksilver trilogy: The Clerkenwell Tales and Thunder God. I picked both of them up overseas, and while I can't specifically say they are that good, they are the other books that I really remember from the last year. Thunder God (Norse myths) might have something to do with the Viking helmet, though.

Best Theatre:
Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. And, of course, a little ham.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, personally, my favorite charity in the world, usually does a pretty good job with Shakespeare plays. Other than adding ambient lighting, fireproofing the thatch, and making the fire exits a little more modern, the theatre recreates - to the best of our scholarship - what the theatre experience was like 400 years ago. Before landing in the UK, I already had tickets to just about every one of the plays available last summer. Notable amongst them was Measure for Measure, which is either a comedy, a farce, or even a little bit of tragedy. It's a problem play. The Globe's version was straight-up Elizabethan in staging, direction, interpretation, and delivery. The Scottish lad playing one of the main roles, by the end of the play, if I hadn't been upstairs, I would've wanted to run on stage and slap the boy, "Oh just tell her you're sorry, dammit, it's all she wants!" Sheesh, some guys are so stupid.

Sister went on and on about Theatre Complicité, and that company had a production of the same play, on stage at the National. We had last-minute, front-row seats to that one, too. In and of its own, it was a very, very powerful production. This was further enhanced by seeing a more traditional version of the same play back-to-back. One was modern, one wasn't. Same play, as in the same text was used, but the way the material was presented was very different. Minimalist - (post) modern approach with multimedia tacked on top. One of the best experiences I've ever had, seeing the same play, done so differently, and yet, similar, too.

There was a final theatre experience that was remarkable: Hamlet at the Old Vic. Or New Vic, I don't know, it's that one across the street from that station, easy to get to. The Hamlet on stage there was one of the very best I've ever seen. The actor playing Hamlet carried the performance but that doesn't mean that the rest of the crew was shabby. It's just that he had Hamlet's feigned madness down so real, so evocative, that nothing else mattered. It did matter, but it was all over-shadowed by the most definitive Hamlet I've seen thus far. That one will be hard to beat. He looked like his character, on stage, the 24-year-old actor looked about 14.

Best movies:
I can only think of one major studio release that I saw, that I thought was worthwhile, Troy. Don't gag, or swoon, if what's-his-name evokes such a reaction. The movie played fast and loose with the myth, but in some respects, it did bring the story to the masses, in movie form. The opening shot of the sea, with all the boats, the glyphs or symbols for the various signs (and deities)? That tickled my little "archetypal symbologist" heart.

Ah, but best movies that I saw? For a remarkable movie experience, nothing, but nothing, beats the Alamo Draft House downtown. Just plain weird stuff. Good food. And rather strange programs. Still a "best of" mention. With the Alamo downtown, though, it's less about the product showing and lot more about the process - the experience.

The Serge Leone Spaghetti Western trilogy was re-cut and re-released, and I got to see it on the big screen. That was a definitive movie experience in my lifetime, and I wound up with the soundtrack, in one form. I even started putting one of the cuts on most of my mixed CDs.

Best Music:
Best new music I encountered, it all started when I hopped in Bubba's 'bu to head over to Sandy's for a Thursday special (burger, fries, drink, $2.59 plus tax). He spooled up a CD, and the opening sample was about "long haired freaky types..." Norman Cook's Fatboy Slim new CD.

Linked, but not in a direct way, other than falling in the same classification as "music," Hank III's show at Stubb's was the best show I saw, must've been, even though it was almost a year ago. Hank III is the most amazing performer. From pure (just like his granddaddy) country to Hank III's "second set" (death metal, punk), he is really worth the price of admission. A must.

Spurred by interaction with the staff at one coffee shop, I wound up with a Dead Kennedys' recent live release. It has a 2004 copyright notice on it; therefore, I can include it in the 2004 list. Probably should make the "definitive" list, too.

Which needs a fourth graph for a best place to shop for music: this one's odd. Executive Surf Club, a Corpus Christi venue, has a little kiosk of a record store nearby.

Best fish:
There were three fishing experiences that were like no other. One was "the big one" last spring, right here, with Bubba in attendance.

The second, another big fish, that was worthy of note, an old cow of a bass, lives in the lake right by me. I tossed a worm out one fall evening, and I had that fish within three minutes. Big fish, too. Impressed a neighbor mightily. Impressed me, too. What it's all about.

Finally, it was, perhaps, one of the most remarkable experiences ever, fishing with a weird rig called a "Launcher," (plus a tiny spoon on light leader), and cloudy day at the lake in September, when the fish were schooling - I caught 19 Large Mouth Bass in one day. Plus, there's personal, favorite picture, me with the smallest of the lot. Danged ole fish. Tried to eat me - it wasn't much longer than my finger.

Deus Ex Machina
(Feel free to pronounce it any way you like, Latin's a dead language anyway.)

The literary term, "Deus Ex Machina" refers to a plot device employed by the author where something unrelated pops out of the sky and saves the day, resulting in a neatly tied up story line.

The origin of the term comes from classical Greek Theater when the gods were lowered from the heavens to save the day, theatrical divine intervention.

I'd love a little "deus (or dea, not particular about the deity's gender) ex machina" action. But in books? I think it's a cheap shot. Which is what disappointed me about Santa Fe Rules, a nice thriller, a suspense tale. But the resolution depends on a device that neatly wraps up all the loose ends.

What was missing from the text? That sense of place. If I'm reading about New Mexico, I want the sights, sounds and smells of the area. I think that was missed. And some corrupt politicians, too. It's only right.

The plot's interesting enough to move right along, but the ending, not like there wasn’t a clue on the way, but the ending was a little over the top. Up until then it was almost believable.

To that end, I sure could use a little dues ex machina these days.

Holiday season
Finally! (Oi.)

Best headline?
And here I thought alien abduction was a localized phenomena, not according to the BBC. I think I'll use aliens in next week's Leo scope.

Inbound mail
> thanks for keeping it real in your entertaining and well
> written scopes.

Unrelated weight issues:
I was doing laundry the other evening, waiting on the scopes to roll over, hoping I'd caught the last of the typos ahead of time. So I didn't. At least I tried.

After I'd loaded the washing machine, I pulled a dozen black t-shirts off the closet shelf and folded them up again, undoing my chaotic closet's look. I found swimming suits, shorts, t-shirts I hadn't seen in years. All from just taking a few moments to straighten up a little mess. Then I found "the jeans." They are one inch smaller in the waist - one inch - not even a dress size - than what I normally wear these days. But my current size is starting to get a little loose.

I wasn't brave enough to test the jeans, see if I could wriggle in, not yet. But that's part of the cosmic humor, the way I see it, I'm hitting my ideal summer weight, right in the middle of the winter. Lot of good that does me now. I'm sure he holidays will make me leave those jeans up on the shelf. But it was a pleasant thought. Just goes to prove something. (I'm not sure what.)

Unrelated food item:
Diet Dr. Pepper from a fountain tastes better than from a can.

Unrelated musical notation:
Wednesday afternoon? The song that was stuck in my head, actually, just a title, a lyrical refrain?

"California uber alles!"

But by Thursday afternoon?

"Losing weight without speed, eating sunflower seeds...."

Unrelated eyeballs:
I was fetching a cup of coffee from a fetching Gemini, and she had on new blue contacts, covering up her exquisite brown eyes, which prompted me to ask the question, "Hey, you streaked your hair, didn't you?"

I never can seem to say the right thing - not that it bothers me.

Unrelated literary note:
In an exchange of quick e-mail with Christopher Moore - I like him, he's twisted - and a Virgo - I asked where he came up with a particular passage for a character, one of those rules, "Never date anyone crazier than yourself."

It's oft repeated, and I couldn't find an original source for the quote. However, as I was meandering along, I did realize that trying to reason with a crazy person is about the same. I was thinking about this because a local headline was about what Iraq looked like from an insurgent's point of view.

Never try to reason with a madman. Doesn't work.

If you deal with the devil, you lose your soul. Except, of course, in one Charlie Daniels' song.

I'll bet and other stories
That's the starting point. A certain barista handed me a specially-drawn espresso, topped with a tiny dollop of foam.

"I'll bet you get free food and drinks, like, all over town, don't you?"

No, but it's a nice thought.

She wasn't buying my protestations, which, in this case, really are true. I'll occasionally get a free cup of coffee, but I don't expect it. Which is one of the reasons why I switched to straight espresso instead of the more expensive triple something with foam and milk and flavors. Those things run about five bucks - more than a monthly subscription here.

Can't pay for that sort luxury on my salary. No five-dollar cups of coffee these days. Well, one, but that's just to stay awake long enough to check the scopes on Wednesday night (Thursday morning to some).

Unrelated musical note:
"I'm just a cool young brother who looks kind of old."
("Because I got it like that" - On the Floor at the Big Beat Boutique)

I loped downtown, sat around with a Leo, ambled homeward, ran into an Aries, and fetched a piece of returned mail out of the PO Box. Mercury Mayhem is starting! Yee-haw!

Fright - attributed to Mercury's position
Since I'm aware that the planets are moving in a way that's not conducive to my normal work, like anything I do is normal, I was working on hammering out the framework for next year. What's really scary?

52 weeks. 52 blank page holders. 52 links with no content. 52 empty spaces. 52 empty shell casing that need to be filled with useful, valuable horoscopes. A whole year, in a framwork, all done. Now, if I can just add content.

I looked out the trailer's window, and I could see small fish breaking the still surface of the creek's backwater eddy. I clicked through to the weather page. Austin's temp was 30 degrees.

52 blank pages. Mercury in apparent retrograde motion - in Sagittarius. 52 weekly spots that need to be filled. Fish, breaking the surface, and I've still got a couple of nightcrawlers, wiggling in the icebox. Usually good for, at the very least, feeding the fish.

My normal reaction to pressure? Go fish. Yessir, 52 blank spots that need content. Too bad it was too cold when the fish were stirring the top of the lake.

(shorthand for By The Way)
This is not a "blog" - it's a web journal.

Happy December?
Better be. Which included a two-meat platter. On a Tuesday. Who'd a thunk it?

On the daily sojourn into the cold, cruel world, I happened upon a car, truck, some vehicle with an engaging sticker in the window. The low, winter sun was at my back so the image washed out. But faded glory is always better than nothing.

"Have you hugged a goat today"

Which made me think about the Mirror Project as I had a submission there, years ago.

Which then made me think about pictures that show a reflection of the picture-taker, something I do quite a bit. Reminded me of a (non-blog, non-written comment by a certain Sagittarius lad), as he was commenting about these entries, "Kramer, you're so enigmatic."


"No man, it's not what you say, it's what you don't say. Enigmatic."

Or, as a certain Gemini has noted, "or maybe you're just a walking mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a hawaiian shirt and tevas."

(For the record, it was a long coat and boots just back from the Golden Slipper who did, indeed repair the un-repairable.)

Reading list notes:
Take a tiny portion from Lamb, add some characters and bits from disparate favorites like the Lust Lizards of Melancholy Cove, the Island of the Sequined Love Nun, and that all-time favorite, Practical Demon Keeping, plus the holiday, and don't miss out that author's weird sense of humor... add zombies, break-ups, relationship trauma, a stupid angel? Yeah, it's no wonder I don't live in CA. I laughed out loud in more than one spot. I was surprised, too, to find certain elements so eerily familiar.

Unrelated (via TFG):
Gambling hedge fund? Maybe I didn't read that correctly. Wry smile.

Need to go back and reread Cryptinomicon again.

Favorite images
Just few, from the last year. My personal favorite images from the last year:

Piss in your shoe
It's a riff on an old term from marching days, the command was, "Pass in review," and it was suitably modified in the barracks to something a little different.

But it's time for the look backwards so I can look ahead. There are two parts, and it's a twofold process, and like a lot of my life these days, it centers around a fishing trip. Last boat trip of the year, cold and yet not bad at all. Not much in the way of fish, but a good trip, nonetheless.

When my buddy dropped me off, it was a comment he made about how it had been a good year for fishing. Yes, it was. At least twice in the last year, on the same day, I caught the same fish. Same fish twice. Not very bright fish. Full of fight, and they were safely released back into their native environment, and the fact that I caught two twice, was reason to stop and ponder.

In both cases, I was doing something different when I caught those fish a second time. Not a lot different, but different enough to fool them. Besides, what those fish lacked in brilliance, they more than made up for it with attitude. Plenty of vigor. Fight the good fight and don't fall for the same trick worm twice.

While we'd been out on the lake, early that winter's morn, the air temperature vis-à-vis with the lake water's temperature produced a thick layer of fog. That fog was up to thirty feet high in places, a little less in others. Because I overslept that one morning, I'm claiming Mercury Retrograde as the excuse, we weren't the first boat on the lake. We puttered, and I mean, in that thick fog, with a Virgo at the helm, we puttered off to a little cove that usually yields fish.

Not much luck, but the camaraderie was agreeable, I was more than forgiven for my tardiness, and seeing as how the fish weren't hitting anything, no time was lost.

So we're sitting in a boat on the very foggy lake, tucked back up in tiny cove without a lot of luck, but we're right around the corner from a boat launch ramp. There's the roar of big outboard, and the dull thunder of a mighty two-stroke peeling out once it passed the "no wake" buoy. Visibility on the lake's surface, I'm not talking whether the water was clear or not, but on the surface of the lake? Could see about twenty feet. Now, in my life, I've certainly done a few stupid things, along the lines of, "Hey, watch me do this!"

But blasting a hole shot at 50 knots when skipper can't see the horizon, much less anything in front of him? It's not a good idea. Judging by the number of trailers on the ramp? Must've been a dozen boats in the water. A little less than a thousand acres of water surface. That's one boat ever hundred acres. I never read anything about a crash, but who knows what close calls there might have been.

So what's the message? What does this have to do with the end of the year and the beginning of a new cycle? Before opening that throttle Wide Full Open? Maybe try to figure out where the other watercrafts are?

While we were in that cove, we were discussing the wake-up process. My buddy, he's got a trick. If he's supposed to pick me up at 5, he gets up at 4. Right before the alarm goes off. He was talking about a fishing trip and the other guys didn't bother with an alarm because my buddy is better - he just wakes up when he's supposed to.

Which then led to a discussion about "intent." What's his intent? To wake up at the right time. Works like magic. Sets it in his mind and it happens. In December of 2003, I purchased a case of cassettes, the special, cheap, 30-minute tapes I use for quick readings. I set my intent to run through all of those tapes in the year. I've still got half a case left over. However, I did do that may readings. At one venue, they supply the tapes. At another place, I use longer tapes. And at this point, I've started to master the audio track onto a CD. I don't have all the kinks worked out, but it's a start. So I did that many readings, I just didn't use all the tapes. My goal was that number of readings, not necessarily to run through all the tapes.

It's about intent. Goals, specific goals, and making those goals happen. Like waking up at 4 in the morning to fish. Or doing a specific number of readings in a year. (Gratuitous business plug: It's how I pay the bills, and I'm open for business.)

I don't have specific goals for the coming year. 2004 was good. While I didn't make a lot of money, I did manage further hone my priorities. What's really important? Family, friends, companionship. When I looked over the material from last year, pulled my favorites into a book format, there was one essay about how to measure success. Fish caught (and released)? Or just fishing? To paraphrase that sage Virgo, "A good day fishing is a day when I fish. An excellent day is when I catch something."

Today's the day.
And in honor of the Mercury Mayhem about to unfold, carefully documented research: the quest for the tortilla.
The Tortilla.
Is it, a miracle, the Virgin, the icon for Mary on the plate?
The Coffee Pot in San Marcos. Wireless, coffee, smoking section. Civilization, at its finest.

Unrelated b-day gifts (to myself):
Someplace, buried in some corporate headquarters, there's a computer file for a company/corporate ( credit card, as a trends analyst tries to track purchases. Web hosting, software, hardware, that sort of material is on that one card. Plus a couple of personal items. A new Chris Moore book, and two musical CDs. One is rather obscure, and I don't know how it can be resolved, from a point of taste and genre, with the other.

I just hope this adds a little glitch in the "recommendations" algorithms. Just doing my bit to make sure no two are alike.

"Hey, watch me do this!"
You ain;t gonna believe what I done did. Fact is, I might not tell. Damn, that was fun.

"It’s your birthday? How old are you?"

"I'm 29."

"Right, and I'm 33."

"Works for me."

Last comment? A certain sign in a BBQ place in Leon Springs, "Youth is a gift of nature, age is a work of art."

The birthday espresso.

The road goes on forever.
No wonder: it's trendy. I'll have to go back 8-track & cassettes.

As technology marches forward, I shold note, that I do have an Apple iSight, and it's possible to do live readings, like, maybe better than really being here.

B-day cake & so on.
The birthday cake? In its official splendor? As only a true, tree-hugging, Democrat liberal would like it?

Yes, Blackberry Pie. No eggs, no milk, honey-sweetened. What's that Fatboy slim song? Star 69?
(Arcane musical allusion, just for fun.)

The folly of youth, which is just disturbing.

There's a whole "birthday thang" subtext that's getting omitted. Just easier. To say the least, there's a piquant poignancy about spending time around one's parental units.

It brings back reconciliation memories from years ago.

(Yes, I picked up the tab for breakfast)
Birthday wishes.
For a certain length of time, I did all my personal consultations in certain restaurant. It was just easier. As I've changed, and after a few failed attempts, I've moved locations, shifting and changing venues, hopefully meeting the criteria of specific charts. And what's easy for me.

For some time, I was writing a book in my head, about astrology delineations and chicken-friend steak, obviously a Threadgill's reference. "Afternoons at the dinner: (then something about astrology)." Never worked it out, and then, I shifted venues. Although, it's nice, when there's a wait, I get a nod of notice and appreciation from a head manager, and I know that the seating hostess usually works Sunday nights, and she's an Aquarius.

Or that our server was a Virgo, as Threadgill's was one of the only places open for T-Day feast. In keeping with tradition, Pa Wetzel had proper turkey plus a story about an aunt of his, where he always had T-Day.

The flip side, though, I was thinking about that book title again. Book's not done- won't be - not at this pace - but the world continues to unfold. T-day was a delightful afternoon at Threadgill's then a spin out to the wildflower place, which was closed, then back to the hotel for a nap, then out for a quick dash to find out nothing was open. Some surprise there.

Watched the last portion of a Cowboy's game.

I pointed out that the cowboy's win was an indication of a future economic trends.

I had to explain the theory to Pa Wetzel, and I did point out, it was just as valid as, say, my astrology.

Black Friday Bitterness.
Only, I'm not bitter, not this time.

The other evening, my folks were trying really hard not to talk about a mutual friend. Which, it became abundantly obvious to me, might be that I spend so much time in personal consultations, but I could tell that there was something that needed saying that wasn't getting said. Something wasn't getting said to me.

"Oh, just spit it out. You can't hide it for long; it'll eat you up inside."

"She's getting married. In February."

"Excellent!" (My reply, heartfelt enthusiasm. No, really. She wanted to be married.)

Which naturally wasn't the expected response. But flip it over, and look from my side of the coin, former lover is happy, getting what she wants, or, I suspect, what she deserves. Me? I can only wish her the best. From the bottom of my heart. Which is cold and black, if you believe what some folks say. But I would suggest that it's not germane to this discussion.

I smiled. Life is good to me. Be good to others and see what happens.

More book notes:
From the the chapter, titled, "My Scrotum Flew Tourist," Kinky writes:

"The Kayans don't give a flying Canadian whether they catch any fish of not. They claim to just be 'visiting the fish.' This quaint and primitively poetic little notion, unfortunately for them, does not culturally compute." (page 28)

N.B.: That why this man, the author of that text, should be the next governor of Texas. Vote Kinky.

Besides, I like visiting the fish. Do it often. They look at me, and I look at them, and sometimes, that's the way it is.

Anyway, back at the ranch:
Carole King's Tapestry? 1971? That sound right?

And up on eBuy:
Some folks have all the luck.

Unrelated geography notation:
Spiritually, I've always considered eastern New Mexico to be part of Texas - since it was at one time, north and east of the Rio Grande. Part of Colorado, too. But, on my part, that's just me being Texist.

The parents have landed.
Got them ensconced in one of those high-end places, a fur piece from my abode. Works better. It's absolutely wonderful.

There's one troubling aspect, I suppose, and being 200 miles removed is painful, in a way, because I don't see them every day.

We dined with a friend of the family, and then I'd suggested, half as a lark, half serious, that there was a movie at the Alamo Draft House that I had a little interest in seeing: Moog. It was about the development, sort of a pseudo-documentary about synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog, and his instruments. What caught my eye, in the liner notes, was the mention of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson, both pioneers in "art rock," stuff I liked, once upon a time.

Robert Moog is an engineer - that much was obvious from the film. And rock stars are rock stars, no matter what the medium. Jazz, fusion, and trying to remember, classical? I think so. My hastily scribbled notes included a point that the Moog Synthesizer is analog, not digital. Curious.

Pa Wetzel, was, at one time an engineer. Ma & Pa Wetzel dozed at moments during the show. Not that I blame them, either. Some of it was sort of boring, like it was 45 minutes of really good material with an extra half hour or so of unnecessary filler. Or necessary filler, all depends.

Ma Wetzel was aghast that I paid for the tickets, and sought out the "handicapped" elevator for Pa Wetzel. But the stairs at the Alamo (downtown) are just way too long and tortuous for him. Glad there was an elevator.

I pointed out that the various loops I employ for the weekly audio file are similar in concept, albeit, entirely stock and digital, but the concept is familiar from what Engineer Moog was talking about.

What was the rude awakening for me at the end of the night was helping my father out to the car. He took a slightly longer route to avoid stairs. That's just not a good sign. I didn't realize that getting around was starting to be such a problem. He's taken to using two canes.

What are you going to do?

During the film, Ma Wetzel did help herself to an Amy's dish of chocolate ice cream. In part, internally, I was going to recoil, but then, I smiled, in the dark. At this point in her life? If she wants a tub of ice cream? You go, girl.

A good time was had by all.

Yes, Mercury is slowing down. Still makes me wonder if I wasted money getting a deer license this year.

Mercury is easy to blame for rambling, disconnected entries. Plus any typographical errors that occur.

Notes on books:
Finally finished the last of the trilogy, which, in my mind, is more like five books, which begs the question, is there going to be another part of the story's cycle?

Quicksliver, Confusion, and finally System of the World are the three. But in my mind, they tie to Cryptinomicon (recurring characters - although it has an earlier publication date), and The Diamond Age.

I rather enjoyed the series, as whole, and before Quicksliver ever came out, I'd gone back and reread The Diamond Age. Guess I'm funny like that.

It's odd to figure out which novels make the biggest impact. Check the shipping weights on the series, and by sheer volume alone, but never mind that now. Me and that one character, we share one common trait; the Imp of the Perverse.


More book notes:
From the first chapter, titled, "Outlaws," Kinky writes:

"Everybody you know thinks you've got it made and suddenly you find you're a jet-set gypsy cryin' on the shoulder of the highway."

Boat shoes:
Rain. More rain. I strapped on my "boat shoes" (sport sandals) and headed out to hit the post office, nipping a piece of rosemary as I crossed the pedestrian bridge while the weather drizzled.

Got rained on. Went home. Dried out. Slipped into regular sandals and peeled out of the shirt, grabbing a more summer-like shirt, as the sun popped out and warmed things up nicely.

I still wish someone would buy the damn phone, but other than that. I've done a brisk bit of business on eBay,

So I headed back to the post office to drop another package in the mail, and as I approached the door, I noticed a service-industry attired gentleman. We bother tried to open the door for the other. He looked at me, "It's not that hot. Can't be."

"Hey, I broke a sweat coming up here, it's that hot to me."

And it was.

But after a final reading and visiting clients over BBQ, "Here Kramer I brought you a tart," the wind shifted, and cold weather arrived. Not a good time to be in shorts.

A few days before Thanksgiving, and I'm finally getting around to winterizing some things?

I did pour through a newspaper, freely given up at the restaurant. I mean, I was there, something like 4 hours or more, and I snipped one article. It was in my pocket when I got home. Two notes: oldest bank robber was a Sagittarius and R. L. Burnside is a Sagittarius.

Made in the USA
A nice, compact article about how we work.

Tangent 1:
I got the oddest internal reaction going, too. In part, I was working with certain web design elements, a highly fluid medium. But in part, my content, I struggle with the craftsmanship therein.

Tangent 2:
Part of that column's point, though, I've seen before. Echo of the opening bit, still one of my favorites in lit, of Snow Crash.

Tangent 3:
The first book I got out has a half-dozen typographical errors. It's that "fast and loose with deadlines" influence. Get it out fast, and worry about revision later. The "Made in America" way.

Originally, when I was first working on the idea, I was using Wal-Mart as an example. At the time, Sam Walton's spirit was still in charge, and it was low prices on products that were all made in America. These days? Little different story. The last quote I'd read, currently undocumented, is that Wal-Mart consumed 10% of China's export. One retailer.

Because the drive and my internal sensibilities changed, at the last minute, I dropped the "shopping at Wal-Mart after midnight" examples and changed it up a little. It's the continually changing face of our republic?

Back to that other tangent:
Hammer it out, but halfway through the process, like in a movie, or according to the article, writing software, or, according to me, writing horoscopes, or writing anything, part of the process is the let it take control. Don't interfere with the muse, wherever that bimbo wants to run. It's a process of discovery. It's a process.

Tangent 4:
The author of the article talks about his experience of buying an iPod. Elsewhere, there's a whole range of accolades about the packaging of the iPod. When I got my second iPod, I wasn't the least bit concerned with the packaging - that material was recycled within minutes of arrival. What I like is the experience - how easy is it to load music, how long the battery lasts, what the sound is like. The experience of using the hardware, not how the thing is packed. Packaged. Marketed. Whatever.

Quite unrelated:
I sent a cousin a news link about archeology and so forth in his area. Me? I was just curious.
>> You wrote:
>> Seattle Times
>I used to pull wood from a "green chain" on that property when it was M & R Timber.

Which means, I'm related to a logger? (He's actually more erudite than that, but it doesn't make as good copy - an advanced degree in Math or something, if I recall.)

Two-Meat Monday:
Which was a pair of girl for chart readings. Plus some live bait. River's been running something like - like? A lot?

2004-11-22 07:30:32.000 35344 CFS

"This flow tends to level off as the water moves downstream, with summer flow rates ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 cfs."

(LCRA site)

I seem to remember, might be completely wrong, but what I recall was that the river here is usually 10,000 CFS, whereas it looks like that peak, just over 35,000 CFS is more than three times the average. Makes sense to me.

Which has nothing to do with the worms I left in that girl's car. Dang.

The other side of midnight:
It's dark and lonely. The river is either flowing by the bucketful or not. I was listening to an Aries on the speaker phone, trying to sort out details for January in El Paso, and idly surfing the web in the background - multi-tasking. I stumbled across this article, for the second time. It's all about copyright and other pitfalls (more like pratfalls) in publishing.

But one of the page's links led me to a completely different chain of thought. In between someplace last night, I was on the radio again. I looked at a half-dozen charts, made a few prognostications and observations, and then rung off the phone.

I dealt with individuals. Not groups. While I do deal with groups, as in groups of signs, I tend to deal with individuals. Not groups as a whole.

Where was I going with this?

"You kids, stay off my lawn!"

The frontside of morning
I really should be cleaning.

Sunday was punctuated with two naps. Nice naps. One in the morning, one in the afternoon. With the rain beating a gentle tattoo on the tin roof, it was relaxing.

I did dream about a big, white (or striped) bass. In the dream, I was wrestling the fish to see if there were any "teeth" on the back of its tongue. It's a minor way of identifying different species. Just one of those fish dreams.

Dinner was "seafood over crispy noodles," and dessert was Krispy Kreme. I've been so good for so long that I just had to snag a half-dozen doughnuts.

"These any good?" I asked the guy behind the counter.

"Nah, too sweet."

"What doesn't have too much sugar in here?" I asked.

"The coffee?"

I got a cup to go.

Around 5:22 PM, CST, according to one piece of software, the Sun entered Sagittarius. Life is good again, for a little while. Like, maybe the next few days. Until Mercury goes backwards.

Unrelated musical link:
More than a teen spirit?

The backside of midnight
Flip that coin, and each flip, the odds are the same. It's a 50/50 chance of heads or tails. Six flips, tails, six times. On the next flip, what are the odds it will be tails?

Unrelated to much of anything:
All about writer's block. As if that was ever a problem around here.

Unrelated musical note:
"Walk without rhythm and you won't attract the worm." (Answer?)

Unrelated: the few, the faithful:
Just a note about the new Apple store over yonder. (At my last visit to an Apple store, I asked the rep a question, and she replied I should look at getting a job at an Apple store.)

Unrelated to much of anything:
A Leo made a request for a special Leo - happy - play list. A CD with a collection of happy songs on it. From the overture to "A Fistful of Dollars" to "Gilligan's Island theme song" to Fatboy Slim to Asleep at the Wheel, Hank III, ZZ, and Bob Dylan, plus an odd assortment of other stuff.

One Jimmy Buffett encore, I think it was a Houston show, he did Lyle Lovett's "If I had a Boat," and I've already got a couple of Texas Gulf Coast music-themes going, but that one song just made the perfect introduction. Which means I'll want to rearrange a play-list again. I'm wondering if that Lyle song is available on one of Buffett's numerous live albums.

Which then trailed over to this Church Of Buffett, Orthodox.

Related to that music thingy:
I clicked through on the friggin' Apple iTunes, to "publish a play list," and when I hit the publish button, only about a third of the songs showed up. Less than that. A quarter? The play lists make no sense, now. Version 1 and astrofish road mix v2.

Two-thirds to three-quarters of my recommendations are not available via that storefront. It's just too difficult for me to be mainstream. 5 out of two dozen songs?

Call it cabin fever, I'm sure. Cold rain. Not into this stuff at all. As Steve Fromholz sings on the LJT album, Summer Days, "You know, Larry Joe Taylor, I've sure had my fill of this cold weather!"

Which is related:
I was rolling down north on South First Street, headed towards the river, after doing readings at Bouldin (again), and the night sky threatened rain. I watched the skyline. Such as it is. It's not like Austin has much of a skyline. But the tops of two or three buildings were eerily covered in fog.

It’s the first unoccupied Saturday night in a long time. Business, my business, usually has two peaks, January through the March, a sputter in April, then a small surge May-June, then it drops off until I pick back up in August, normally, through the end of October. Usually grinds to halt in November and December. But I keep getting work. I'd complain, but I can use the income - need to get caught up on paying rent and all.

What isn't related?
Three Leos. All with the same first name. that's just a trip.

Calendar thumbnails


Details and source files. Thumbnails, anyway.

Stardust Motel Sign, west of Marfa, TX.

Fish Pass, Mustang Island, TX.

Gonzales Flag, storefront, Gonzales, TX.

Star Motel sign. South Texas highway.

Feed Store sign, Goliad, TX.

State Hwy 77 (hurricane evacuation route) sign.

Urania: muse of astrology (Queen's Walk, UK)

Welcome to Nowhere (TX)

Cadillac Ranch, west of Amaralillo, TX

Mission Door, Goliad, TX.

Marfa Lights rest area, Marfa-Alpine hwy, TX.

Oscar Wilde quote, train station, UK.

That Friday flava.
Cool and gray, no, sunny, no clouds, no, might rain. Might not. Weather forecasting, the last home of fiction? Something's right in the world, my world, anyway, when I'm barefoot, shirtless and feeding worms to the fish.

Which was what I did while I waited for an image to finish processing, Who'd a thunk that these fast processors aren't fast enough for "camera-ready" art images?

While I was waiting on images to process, or do whatever they were supposed to do, I tried a different lure, a black (blue metal-flake) thing and reeled this little feller in:
What nice about this one? I mean, maybe he looks like all the other fish, but he's not. It's a different fish! New fish in the pool! It's not like one the others I've caught several times.

All those images? Sampled and re-sampled, tweaked, enlarged, shrunk and finally done?


Done deal. 2005 Calendar with Mercury, Venus and Mars Retrogrades duly noted. Plus pictures. Of me.

I came slipping into the old homestead, such as it is, after late Friday night reading, just before the rain started. Been a busy week, considering how little I seem to have done. And there's still a full schedule, on through the weekend. I wonder if I'll ever get this place cleaned up before parental unit arrive.

Or buy my old cell phone (the hotline).

The other side of the morning?
When I am strolling about, trudging, or striding purposefully towards specific destinations, I tend not to pay attention to my own feet. I like observing the minutiae of nature, as well as the foibles of human behavior.

But twice this week, I've happened upon a penny, face up. Supposed to be good luck. I can't wait.

Wednesday night, just as I was riding herd on the horoscopes, trying to corral the stray electrons in the wide-world-web thing, I noticed a sudden stillness. I looked outside, and deep fog blanketed the environment. Lovely stuff, but it brings a dripping, moist sense, and that stillness was from all vehicular traffic, grinding to a halt.

That, and the phone became disconnected. Don't know how that happened.

So Thursday morning was bright. Cheery, even, with a cool, clear sky.

And I had to be on the phone - stuck inside. At least the readings were challenging.

I did take a break and go for a quick dash to the post office. Which led to the first Egg Nog Latte of the season, and booking up the remainder of the weekend - with paying work.

Suitably fortified, I peeled out of my shirt, and cruised alongside the swollen river. Lots of rain, lots of moisture means that the water is running fast and deep, spilling over the accepted boundaries for the shoreline. Standing waves? I was noting where I cold see standing waves, trying to imagine the underwater structures, looking for those fish, for next spring. Earlier, the carp had been roiling in the debris, and I was tempted to pull out the catfish pole, and try foor one of those big nasty fellers. Couldn't do it, though, not this time.

Looking at the standing waves, though, that got me thinking, wasn't there a band called the Standing Waves?

Did a lecture. Or a workshop. Or taught a class, I'm not sure which one, and the class was engaging and actually quite fun.

Do Not Call registry?

I got off on a tangent, thinking about thinking, and I added a design element from a sadly dated look I wanted for a motorcycle team. Then I got to wondering about doing my weekly audio update as a podcast. Format's there, already, as an mp3.

Tweak up something new for a weekly audio-cast? I spent a portion of the morning "point-and-click" coding. Which is tedious, but it's a lot less tedious than coding by hand. Just another quick-and-dirty website, this one for the family. What was I thinking? Who knew there would be that many images that had to be cropped, resized and optimized for the web?

From the "Only in Texas" files:
Internet hunting? Seriously?

Reinventing musical files:
I was ripping a few CDs I'd missed, or misplaced the files, or whatever, just replicating some files for play lists, and the last two items I had out, Garth Brooks and Frank Zappa. I'm just wondering, is there some kind of hell I can be put in, for having those two items next to each other?

Unrelated (astrology) notation:
D&D as a Pluto/Uranus in Virgo generation?

Reinvention: wires & tech support:
I'd really like my wireless to stretch down to the water's edge. I repositioned the Airport Extreme router, and I added a longer bit of Ethernet cable, so I could get the wireless, down by the lake. Or so I had hoped. Maybe it's just a pipe dream, but sitting at the edge of the lake, wired up to the web-inter-thing?

The cable, the subsequent power off and power by on, plus a software update wiped out the settings. So I was plunged into SBC Tech Support Hell. The first person was no use, whatsoever. Useless. Less than useless, she couldn't understand a word I said, didn't grasp the problem or the simple question I had. I just needed DNS numbers. English was certainly not her first language. From the sound of it, it wasn't her second language, either. While I admire that linguistic ability, trying to solve a technical problem? That sucked big time.

A second call, after I'd gathered my wits again, and the first person sounded like English was a native tongue, and as an asset, that person grasped the concept of the script she was reading. Still took a good deal of interpretation on my part, but I was wired again. Finally. But the SBC help line really sucks. A two-minute phone call took an hour.

I had a sick and twisted thought, during the conversation, "So how's the weather? Terrorism doing okay? At least the religious zealots in my land only barricade themselves with lots of arms, our zealots don’t blow anything up but themselves." But that's not true. Some of our zealots get elected.

Unrelated photo from Wednesday:
(via the cam-phone)
Reinventing that warm, fuzzy feeling:
E-mail cycled through last night, kind of late, a substantial Amazon Honor system amount.

Amazon Honor System

Click Here to Pay
Learn More

When that popped through, I mean, to get to the donation page on the site, one has to dig through several layers of crap. Damn thing's anonymous, too. Ain't that wondrous?

So, I looked it up on Amazon, and plugged it into the front page of the site, too.

The Libra scope.
I was reminded about this little tale, and I was going to work it into the scopes, but then, I thought about it, and I figure it would severely irritate some folks, so I'll just tag the few extra lines here. Statute of limitations is up on this one, I think.

I dated this girl one time, one of the reasons I live like a monk, and she was "spirited." Perhaps it had something to do with upbringing or issues, or that astrology part of her chart. I'm not sure. Well, I am sure, but I'm not going to say. For the record, I do know the warning signs, and I chose, at that time, to ignore my own, good advice - which was to leave her alone.

So what happened, once upon a time, we had a quarrel. About something I did? No, about something I didn't do, but never let the facts interfere with a woman's ire and scorn. I just kept making matters worse by refusing to engage in the good fight. Eventually, she popped me one. It was a glancing blow, and I just gathered myself up and left the premises. I do believe that a piece of furniture, or hardware, followed me out. She was, at least at that time, what us guys call a "thrower." In fact, she used to shop Salvation Army and Goodwill for ammunition - normally, plates and flatware.

So that was like, on a Thursday night. Like last weekend, and the weekend before that, and the weekend before that, I was on the road, and out of town for work. Since I left in huff, she wasn't about to pick me up the airport on my return.

I didn't see her again until about Tuesday or Wednesday, almost week after I got pummeled. Her right arm was in sling. We forgave and forgot, at least I did, and she showed up for dinner, after the next local event, with her arm still in a sling. She'd cracked a bone in her hand, from impact with a rock-hard object (my skull). I wasn't even bruised.

In hindsight, the least I could've done was limp, or bruise myself so that there was some kind of show - matching injuries, hers and his?

So it was at dinner, a Saturday night, and we're all sitting around in a TexMex joint, me and a half-dozen of my psychic friends. One the ladies looked up at my girlfriend, and asks what happened.

"I ran into a door." Which, the way I wanted to remember what the girlfriend said? "He ran into a door."

"Look honey," that matronly friend suggested, "next time you hit him, aim for a soft spot, not his head."

I got one of those looks, the kind that could kill, as the temperature plummeted in the dining area, an icy blast hissed at me, "You told her?"

Before I could refute anything, the matronly psychic spoke up, "First off, you're at a table of psychics, no secrets here. And he didn't say a thing. Not a word. But it's also logical, see, your hand is broken, and there's not a scratch on him. Aim for the soft parts next time, dear, not his head."

True story.

The flip side of the coin?
I rather enjoy working on the radio, even if it is in the far Midwest, or wherever Indiana is. I haven't a clue. Eastern Time Zone on the charts, all I need to know. I think it's cold there, in that Eastern Time Zone. If I recall, from my geography, Indiana is next to Canada, like Maine and Washington State. And Canada is this mile-wide stretch that ends at the Arctic Circle. And from the Arctic Circle, it's about two miles to the North Pole.

What really does inconvenience me, though, is the fact that I'm missing the usual Monday night fare at the Alamo (Draft House) downtown. However, the radio program does provide two things: traffic and customers, and I suppose, if I have to miss a little fun, that's just the way it is. Monday nights, on the radio. Kind of like an answer to Monday Night Football.

Business & Motivation:
I don't even remember how this started, although, I'm sure I cataloged my experience some place. Yesterday morning, I clicked through on a comic strip I read online and I had dejá-vu experience. Perhaps it was the pre-dawn, pre-coffee buzz. Or lack of buzz. Maybe the neurons weren't firing in sequence. A little later, I realized that I'd read that strip, last week, in a newspaper.

Hint: that's the way the strip's creator, the author, manages it. It's really a good idea, too. Since newsprint, that almost dead medium, is the primary source of income, the website shows material that's one week old. Sound familiar?

Two-meat Tuesday's special:

1. Hot dog in the afternoon.
Apparently, there's an ad running - I wouldn't know - I don't own a TV - that shows a convenience store opening in the morning, and the hot dogs have been on the grill since the night before. That's TV, the land of make-believe. But I did select just such a hot dog for a morning nosh while on dash to hit the postal box. At least it looked like it had been there for days - well done. The hot dog was well-done, not the PO Box.

2. BBQ at night.
I do like some foods well-cooked, like that hot dog. Two-meat platter, a little late in the evening. I was with one client, and I ran into another client, both paid up for readings. That's nice, walked out with more money than I walked in with.

But better than cash, to me, was the line scrawled across the top of the to-go box full of leftover brisket. A snippet from the dinner conversation.

"Not monogamous, not committed, not a relationship," which was what a male was saying to a female, but what that female was hearing? Like ever other word?

"Monogamous. Committed. A relationship." And her counter to his comment?

"Oh! We're engaged now!"

The other side of silliness.
One pair of cowboy boots that I own is starting to wear thin. There's a tiny hole, in each side of the pair, just about right for my little toe to eventually work its way out. A couple of out-of-town cobblers looked and said, "No way." But at the Golden Slipper, on S. First, a kindly gentleman said he could fix them. We'll see what happens. I first noticed the cool breeze from the inadvertent air-conditioning, last winter. Been that long since I've thought about footwear.

I stopped in Bouldin Creek for a morning cup of go, and while I was there, a familiar Leo greeted me. She was just finishing breakfast so we sat on the back patio for a few minutes and shot the breeze.

"I don't get this: Texans, no really, I don't get it all. When the weather's like this? Get outside! Enjoy the day! It's cool enough to move and breath! I'll tell you what I don't get, see, when it's 100 degrees, you guys all get out and sweat. You move around. And when it's like this? What do you do? Stay inside?"

(Cool and gray out, the faintest hint of precipitation, and yes, I'd rather be home.)

On the wander home route, I was thinking about Scorpio and then thinking about Texas Music. The difference between Texas Music and, oh, say, Nashville Country? How about Lyle Lovett, bless his wry and dry Scorpio heart, a couple of years ago, he was squashed by a bull. Smashed up. For real. Ranching accident. This isn't a song. Saw him on stage, almost year after the incident, and he was still walking with a bad limp. Music was as a good as ever. But that's not the point, see, in Texas, our singers and songwriters, the real stars, they do have encounters with ranch critters. It's not some made-up song.

"Rehab? Rehab is for quitters!"

While digging around, I found Atlantis.

As promised, silliness:
Renaming an Interstate?

News to me:
> PLEASE NOTE: Due to last minute family circumstances, Linda Drake and Kramer
> Wetzel are switching places.

I wonder if this is okay with her husband.

The other side of midnight.
There's more to the backbeat than a 4/4 rhythm. There's also some stealth. Sunday morning was cold and wet.

I met a friend at Magnolia, on my way out of town, basically a "first meeting of the day," and the chart? Saturn (Capricorn) lined up with her Sun. As I walked into Magnolia, the former cook, now manager was there. In shorts. Capricorn. Waitress? That cute little Capricorn from the other evening.

I screwed up on my timing, and got to SA an hour early. Did I mention the shopkeeper? She's a Capricorn.

I stopped in Buda, or San Marcos, or some place. There was a new Starbucks. I unplugged from the music and wandered in, "How long has this place been here?"

"Two months!"

It's like, one day, there was this field, and the next, a helicopter just air-lifted a complete Starbucks, like, almost overnight. Plopped it right down.

In my mind, and on my iPod, Crystal Method's Vegas, Chemical Brothers' Surrender, and both Fatboy Slim's
Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars & the new Palookaville make excellent headphone music. There's one other, classic Floyd, as in Pink. Pink Floyd. Instellar Overdrive. Timeless.

But it has to have a good bookend, right?

"I'm a man of the road, the highway is my home." (Wayne Hancock, "A Man of the Road" on A-Town Blues)

Most important thing I learned this time, in San Antonio?
If you leave your purse (I suppose, for some folks, this might be a little gender specific), on the floor, money drains out of it. Therefore, the secret is to make sure that the purse isn't resting on the floor.

"That's just an old Mexican wives' tale."

Not making any money, or rather, not showing any profit on Sunday didn't deter my basically sunny outlook in the bad weather. There's still a sense of being on the road and traveling, same route, for years and years. New places, old places, new faces, old faces.

I'm a little in the hole for the weekend, but that's the way it goes. That extra hour was spent wandering in the big sporting goods store, just up the street. I found some of them "yeller" worms I like. None of the places in Austin seem to have them. Plus, I was running a little low on the "cotton-candy" colored wiggly bits.

It's a theme, to me, and one that excited me early on. Nice to see it revitalized. I still recall one lad commenting about the sorry lack of plot. Not that that's ever interfered with my work.

The weekly audio will be up in a few minutes. After I retrun the car and meet a client for a reading.

Friend of the devil?
(Grateful Dead version)

"If I get home before daylight, I just might get some sleep tonight."

For some reason, perhaps it touches me? I like that one lyric. Couple of more licks came up on the drive, too:

"When the sun comes up on a sleepy little town, down around San Antone...."

China Grove? Uno: folks in San Antonio rather dislike the name "San Antone." Dos: San Antonio is the subject of a lot of songs.

Saw this one, then couldn't get a decent picture, one of those RV type of truck/mobile home deals, with two surfboards tied on the back. I wonder where they were going?

A little later:
"Oh no Kramer, I've heard about you. Mac's told me stories."

(Mac, the other aura camera dude.)

Even later:
Stopped off in San Marcos, on the way home. The Coffee Pot. Free wireless, coffee. A smoking section. Civilization.

I'd called Bubba Sean as I was leaving SA, northbound on the Interstate, and I asked him what he and the little woman were up to, like, "Dude, meet me for pizza in San Marcos."

He calls, as I'm almost getting into San Marcos, and suggests a different venue because he can't abide tomato, bacon and ranch dressing pizza (a San Marcos/Valentino's staple - very worth the trip). So while I was soaking up some bandwidth, waiting on Bubba and the little woman, I actually dealt with one problem, and I looked up from my coffee long enough to notice a young man with, basically, well, to me, it looked like he had a green Mohawk. Yeah. Perfectly normal.

A little later, over ribs, fish & chips, I noted that there were two young men walking out of the same bar, dressed in woodland camo outfits.

I pointed them out, Sean looks over his shoulder, and I asked, "Deer Season?"

"Yeah, deer season or members of a militia," he dryly observed then gave a little shrug, balancing his empty palms.

Saturday night in Central Texas.

Or, as Bubba Sean is fond of saying, "Welcome to my world."

Pat Green, Cory Morrow, doing Waylon Jennings:

"The same old tune, fiddle and guitar where do we take from here?"

Or, my favorite bit, in spirit, anyway:

"Ten years on the road, making one night stands, speeding my young life away, tell me one more time, just so I'll understand, you sure Hank did it this way?"

"I've seen the world with a five piece band looking at the backside of me...."

No rhinestone boot and big fancy cars. But that road does go on, like, forever.

Hit the road, Jack.
I think I'm covered. Got my coffee mug. Got my mini iPod with all kinds of weird flavors on it. Phone, computer, ready to roll.

The commute to San Antonio, from South Austin to North San Antonio is right at an hour, depending on traffic. Perhaps one of the most notorious stretches of highway.

Make your own holograms?

Musical note:
"You don't have to be something you're not, down in Austin." (Brendon Jenkins, Austin)

Unrelated (fishing):
That's more like it, 2nd cast, pulled in a little bass:

Never hurts to fish, even when the weather's a little cool out. What's amusing, to me, I think I've caught this very fish, two or three times before. Looking at the bait, though, I
'm pretty sure this is a boy fish, not girl fish, after all, he went for something with a skirt and long legs.

Fish, a couple of readings, a little more BBQ, and finally call it an early night.

New toys & such.
Oh, ahem, that's right, this is a business development tool, part of the road kit. I keep forgetting.

I'm pretty sure there's a conspiracy afoot. A cold, north wind was whipping down the river's valley, such as it is, and the cat was curled up next to me, moaning in her sleep. I hopped in the shower, and as soon as I got a head full of lather and suds, there was a loud, persistent knock on the trailer's door.

That driver again. I started complaining about conspiracy theories, problems with drivers, and that one Sagittarius driver, going on and on, for a good two minutes. I was part way through my diatribe before I even opened the door, the shower still running, a big towel hastily draped over my naked form.

"Yeah, glad to see you, too, and at least I now know that you do wash your hair."

He smirked. I giggled, anyway. I signed the clipboard, number one spot at the top of the page. His first delivery. I'm pretty sure he was waiting, around the corner, drinking coffee, watching to see when I started the water running.

From thence, it was on to Libra lunch. And a quick dash to half price books - a very dangerous place for me. But I did find, based on many recommendations, a Billy Joe Shaver CD.

Know what I miss the most? Album covers. Granted, a CD is lot more sturdy, and I can't wear out a single track; vinyl was good for what? Ten plays before the sound began to deteriorate? But album covers? Where else was there a medium that lent itself to visual expression? One square foot on the front. One square foot on the back. Double albums? Two square feet on the cover, two more inside?

The Half Price Books bathroom.
Little (tiny) fishes on fat night crawlers

There were two others who didn't make it on shore for the requisite photo op. Those two never had the hook in their wee fishy mouths. I pulled them up while they were clamped onto the bait. All fun, all safe in the lake again. But one of those guys, even for a little perch, he fought as much as a bass. Had me excited until I pulled him up. At least I can say that I did enjoy the winter afternoon.

Friday: many more client consultations, at my limit just about, and then think about San Antonio.

The rest of the story?
2004, all the columns, in book format, is now available. Get it here. Large format book, too.

I don't know what it looks like; I haven't seen the galley on it yet. Supposedly, it's on its way, but only time will tell.

Unrelated weather note:
While sitting outside, on the patio, at a client's house, I clicked through on the weather. Today's high? It was supposed to be 74. That's what the forecast said. The reported high, at that moment? 81.

Unrelated: time to upgrade
As we ask that musical question, "When is a good time to upgrade?"

Unrelated, except to me:
Why we don't get up early?

Just a notation:
I was at the post office, last night, dropping a few eBay items in the mail. What I wanted to reply to the auction winners (but didn't)?

"I dropped your package in the saddlebag, and slapped the pony on the rump, so it's on its way!"

Gratuitous Pony Express allusion.

(which should have a subtitle of WTF) (and if you don't like an occasional steel guitar, fiddle and so forth skip this one) (and no more parenthetical comments, neither)

It's started with a post found at Scott's place. I just got done writing up a half-dozen eBay paragraphs, and I was just nosing around the web.

I've got a new "mini iPod" on order, hopefully, with next day air, it should be here before the weekend. I was pulling together a good play list, so some of that music was still stuck in my head.

I can't do a top 20 of alt-country music. I'm not well-versed in the genre. But I can add a notes about Texas artists.

Like Lyle Lovett (Scorpio) or Robert Earl Keen (Capricorn). Hank III (Sagittarius), Dale Watson (Libra), Kevin Fowler (Taurus), and Wayne Hancock (Taurus).

I've written about it before, but the first time I saw Hank III, the first set he did was raw, down-home, crying-in-your-beer, rip-your-heart-out, lonesome, wailing, country music. With an edge. Which, when he swung into his "second set," it all made perfect sense. At that time, I sort of figured that second set as punk. Only, it was punk played with a demon fiddle, and pedal steel guitar, and a stand-up bass. Oh yeah. Take that, Nashville. Or, as the song goes, "Trashville."

And that's what alt-country is really about. It's that other side.

A couple of weeks ago, I was drinking coffee drinks and soaking up a vegetarian meal at a local, rather bohemian, place. The music tends to be pretty diverse. Dead Kennedys, and music of a similar ilk is often on the sound system. What would I expect from a younger, 20 - something crowd? But then, a little later, there was some Johnny Cash. I asked, like I often do, what the connection was.

The little Libra explained it, "Like, you know, it's real."

I don't find Johnny Cash in the alt-country group, but I do know his canon of work is widely respected. Thanks to a little Gemini girl, I added Gram Parsons - perhaps the original cosmic cowboy, to the list of frequently listened to music. Plus I'd recommend it, as well. One or two of his tunes always wind up on my play lists these days.

Put REK's first two live albums on the list. Live #2 and Live from the Sons of Herman Hall (in Dallas, no less). Excellent works.

I've found that Steve Fromholz's Texas Trilogy, especially as rendered by the soulful Lyle Lovett has to be on the play list, over and over. That goes back to train ride, one summer, not long ago, coming back down the silver rails from Dallas, winding through Bosque County. Eerie, as the train passed through a town mentioned in the song. The train doesn't stop there, anymore. That's from Step Inside This House.

Michael Murphey and Charlie Daniels aren't rebels anymore, but their legacy and their earlier works still stand out.

The unverified rumor I heard, Kevin Fowler was offered a suitcase full of money for one of his songs, "Beer bait & Ammo," if he would just agree to change the lyrics. He didn't. Last time I saw him perform, he had the right rebel attitude, plus his music is straight out Texas country.

The one time - so far - that I've seen Wayne Hancock play, he was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and sneakers. Not exactly a country a look, but it fits in Austin just fine. Plus he performs. I got a sense that he was giving it all back to the audience, and at one point, I was pretty sure he was signing just to me.

I was conversing with a darling little Leo the other afternoon. On the patio, pieces of pork stuck between my teeth, chatting about life, love, and Texas French Bread tuna sandwiches. I think that Gen X echoed what's so good about the alt-country that's hot.

"Oh, I like the hippies' way of thinking, but I like to eat meat."

(Musical accompaniment? The Chemical Brothers and especially Norman Cook.)

Two-Meat Tuesday
Because I knew I had to start early, I passed out early, and slept the sleep of an angel. One of the advantages to living like a monk these days.

I popped out of bed, reheated day-old coffee, and got a start. I was ready for that 6 in the unholy hour of the AM honk outside the trailer, and I was off. I packed a bag, thinking I'd have to sit in the doctor's office or something.

"No, just take my car and come back and get me around noon."

Good enough.

I should go in the hilarity of picking up a friend fresh out from anesthesia, but suffice it to say, my little red-headed friend was toasted. A kindly nurse rolled my buddy out in wheelchair, and from there, it was a lot of talk, about this, that and the other. She was pretty buzzed. I parked her at her place, and I sat down at her computer, trying to figure out the wiring on her two-computer-and-cable-modem-soon-to-be-wireless home network. Several hours later, as she dozed in the easy chair, I got more and more frustrated, to the point that I gave up. She woke up, told me that she 1) didn't know the password or account name and 2) she powered it all off to switch the connections around - every time.

I walked home, stopping off just to buy a little bait and pick through half of the two-meat platter. I got home, and all I could think about, besides getting some of the tender brisket to the cat, was getting a fat nightcrawler on a hook, and feeding the fishes.

Ma Wetzel called, and I took the call via the cell phone's "speaker phone" feature - while I was fishing. A Virgo neighbor, a Leo, and a Sagittarius were walking their dogs, and while I was speaking to Ma Wetzel, the neighbors all hollered in unison, "Hi Mom!" Cute.

Then another Virgo neighbor calls, stops by the waterfront to see me while I was fishing, and somehow, we ended up at Curra's for dinner.

"Tequila, Conchita Pibil, and raw fish, there's just something right about it all."

I was playing my game, "What's my sign," with the Aquarius server. Pretty much my standard good cheer, no matter what the sign, and she was in a good mood - we were on the patio. Along about the third cocktail for my Virgo friend, I was drinking decaf coffee, that Virgo has to launch into the "Kramer did a reading for me once and it was so accurate," as it the story involves a certain (now ex) boyfriend.

A few minutes later, the other server wanders over, a lovely Libra lass, "Whatever he says? It's right. So right! Remember those coins you gave me?"

No, actually, I don't remember the coins I gave her.

"I held onto them for two and half months, and my luck has been better ever sense."

So, a couple of months ago, right before Jupiter went crashing into Libra, I'd added three one-dollar coins to the tip for that Libra, and I'd suggested that dollar coins are imbued with a certain kind of good luck. Which they are, but never mind that now. As an astrologer, I knew from her birthday, that she was about to enter a period of extreme good fortune, due to the planet's movement. I don't recall it, but I'm sure I suggested she just needed to wait until her birthday arrived. That's merely planetary timing, nothing magic.

"I had the best birthday I've ever had! Thanks! Listen to whatever he says!"

I was blushing, but no one could tell, it was dark on the patio.

Sagittarius dreams
"Hey! I need a husband for a day; you're it."

That's how it happened. One of my red-headed Capricorn friends was going in for a little "procedure," and she was rather freaked. I wouldn't go into the details, but I've had that procedure before, and all they do is take a thing that's about the size of a baseball bat and shove it up.... never mind.

So I'm along for the ride. Only, she has to be at the hospital before 7. That's Seven In The A M. Since it doesn't involve fishing, I'm not sure I'll be fully functional.

The dream sequence, left over from the other evening? I was dreaming about being in a smoky bar, with a long, narrow table running down the center. Felt like a pub, only, it wasn't over yonder, and I was sitting there, probably sipping a soda, and Hank III sat down across from me. It's that Sagittarius thing, you know, and then I was stuck trying to explain what Pluto does to a Sagittarius, c.f., Kerry et al.

I never did understand that one dream - it's that Sagittarius thing.

Dashed to the airport, and dashed back to the trailer and dashed in and around, while accomplishing not much of anything, or so it would seem. I had the "Shady Acres Photography Studio" up and running, as I was prepping a few items for eBay. Hey, for an extra ten cents, I can launch stuff when I want to, at a specified time. Not that I would run something based upon an astrologically propitious time or anything....

The heart of Zen. (Could also be called, "why we fish.")

Very unrelated visual:
Via e-mail:
The perfect tattoo?

Only 20 shopping days left!
What a weird day.

Scorpio. Scorpio to the left, Scorpio across the aisle, Scorpio on down the row, yeah verily, they were just everywhere. Now, to the "astrologically attuned" some of this might make sense. Even to someone not so attuned, it makes sense, see, it's the month when Scorpios all celebrate their birthdays so the little Scorpions come crawling out.

Standard Scorpio advice: don't ever cross a Scorpio. Just don't do it. It's not a healthy endeavor.

And just general disclaimer, about what's going on, astrologically? Like I've suggested before, and like I reiterated so many times on Scorpio Sunday? It's just fixin' to be really cool - or hot - in Scorpio land. Stay tuned.

Unrelated retail therapy notes:
I've been wanting - not needing - just wanting an Apple Mini iPod. I mean, this item falls in the "desire" category, not the "need" arena. Not even close. I mean, I've got one 40 Gig iPod now, almost stuck as part of the sounds in here. Works fine like that. But the other evening, I was busy ripping the complete Ring Cycle (4 operas, 2 CDs in the first opera, then 4 CDs in the subsequent three), and I was thinking, after I got done, that I needed a way to carry that kind of music, or any other kind of music I listen to infrequently, with me. Besides, of course, on the computer.

So what I was thinking, since I'm starting to list a few items on eBay, I could just pick one up there. I'd seen some starting out at a low $100 point, and that seemed reasonable enough. Only, when I went back to look at the listings again, most of the mini iPods were closing at $220 or higher. Plus shipping? That's not more than a few dollars cheaper than buying one in a store, or online. Plus, online or in the store? Guarantee guaranteed. Is the $20 worth the difference?

I unplugged the iPod from the sounds set up and plugged in some earphones the other evening. For a little while, I was cleaning, working, and moving around - no problem - and the sounds through the earbuds were even better than the stereo. I could hear parts of the tracks I hadn't heard before. New depth and range.

Just wonderful. But I wasn't about to leave the ambient sounds unplugged. I've all but forsaken CDs and tapes, not too even mention vinyl, as the source for recorded music. And I really can't imagine wandering around the trail, or downtown, and being bereft of audio stimulation, that is, not listening to the sounds of the city. Odd, the times that I want the little iPod? Late at night, when I'm working or cleaning.

Hitting the trail? No way, I want to be stuck in the sensory overload of the town, the trail, the wherever. I wonder about. Folks who want to be cut off from the aural stimulation of what a place sounds like, whether it's the background din of traffic, or, on some lonely nights, a lack of noise? Sometimes it's the simple rustle of a critter in the leaves.

No, I don't want to be cut off from that kind of sensory input.

But when one of my obscure play lists cycled up, I was busy and the music provided a good background to whatever the task was. Laundry, I think.

I've got a commute to and from San Antonio next week. Now, if I can just fiddle with the accounting for the weekend, I might have made enough to buy a baby iPod. As road tool, of course.

On Any Sunday

I looked at the Scorpio next to me, "Hey Yanni, where's your boyfriend? Isn't he suppose to fetch us up some coffee?"

"He's at work today."

"Why, I ought to complain to his boss, making him work on a Saturday when your boyfriend could be bringing us coffee."

"Yeah, Kramer, I always meant to see you, at Linda's house, must've been two years ago, you said something that's stuck with me."

And quick nod to Scott:
"The people of Oklahoma will continue to vote dry and drink wet as long as they can stagger to the polls." (from Will Rogers, via a history book)

Will Roger's birthday was last week, 11/4, I think.

More unrelated:
"This is Austin, we don't put chemicals in our chemicals."

Off to work.
But not without one, last, unrelated political tidbit from a Houston source, about Dallas, with a final quote from the Austin sheriff.

"No more politics," I said to myself. Then I saw this:
>Had to do a little running around, and I had to think about the approaching winter season. Long pants, well, jeans, really, and shirts. With sleeves. Is it necessary? After ambling downtown to fetch an afternoon libation (served by a Libra), and not making it back across the bridge until almost dark, I noticed that very distinct chill in the air. Winter-time.

I had to find out what size shirt I wear, too. Fifteen or sixteen in the neck? 33/34 sleeve? That sound right? You'd think I know by now, but what I usually do is just pick up an "L." Much easier that way.

Heard again, too, Friday afternoon, "Aren't you that fishing and hunting guy from TV? You look just like him!"

Three-way Thursday.
I got off on a political, navel-gazing, almost pointless tirade and halfway through it, I found myself writing down a note to remember to erase the whole mess. Glad I did. I still have it on the computer, someplace, but I'm not interested in debate, I'm interested in making money these days. Moon's moved out of Cancer, away from the point where a reckoning has occurred, and we've all cast our lots, for good or for ill. No point in rehashing what's happened.

I took a friend to the airport so she could go off and watch NASCAR races. Cool. Since I like to reduce vehicular traffic as much as possible, I swung by the grocery warehouse on the way home from the airport, got stuck in traffic, and remembered why I spend more time walking because I was probably moving faster, if I was on foot.

I think I was busy until almost ten, and then I stepped out for the evening. I was headed towards the Alamo downtown, via the post office, so, in reality, I was still tending to business, as I had one more package to mail. I had a few minutes to kill, to so I stopped for a little espresso, and the Capricorn behind the counter noted that I usually had my hair in a ponytail. It's been cool enough to let it down, these days.

The movie was late getting started; the Alamo was booked for some event. So I asked the ticket taker if he had a cigarette. He paused then jumped up to fetch his coat. He (Gemini) offered me a package of Bugler. I demurred so he rolled me up a smoke. I wandered out into the cold night, puffing away. Eventually, I found myself at Little City, fetching another espresso. "So what's your birthday?"
"I think you did my chart - about five years ago."
Aquarius. You'd think I'd remember, and I was surprised I didn't.
"I've changed. A lot."
Must be it.
I was going to mention the homeless person asleep in a doorway, under a commercial "space for lease" sign. And a late night skateboard guy, checking his cell phone as he coasted down the hill.

And I coasted back into the Alamo, to see a film, a film written by Quentin Tarantino, True Romance. I've seen it before, and I thought it was part of the "bad films at midnight on Wednesday for free" series - I couldn't recall much of the film, other than I thought it was good the first time I saw it. On the big screen? Even better. Way funny. Over-the-top. Stellar, and I mean, stellar cast. I hadn't realized so many stars were in the film.

It was cold out, walking home. The little stars overhead, remarkably easy to pick out the winter constellations, twinkling in the night's air.

In his book, Starship Troopers, RAH posited a theory - via fiction - that in his future world, anyone who wanted to vote had to earn the right. In more than one system, I'm thinking Mormon and Israeli, two years of service is required. Usually between high school and college. The point I got, and maybe I read it wrong, or maybe I'm just remembering what I want to remember, was that a "citizen" with full voting rights, a say in the government, had to perform two years of service. Didn't have to be military service, all though, it's a good way fill army barracks, the service could be akin to Peace Corps, or some similar kind of work. Building roads, doing something to serve the community as a whole.

Personally, I think it's a good system.

Electing to leave?
Nice article about options for those who talked about leaving.

"The people of Oklahoma will continue to vote dry and drink wet as long as they can stagger to the polls." (from Will Rogers, via a history book)

"What the Republicans did was to get new voters and to give them a reason to get out there and vote," said Corey Robin, a political science professor at Brooklyn College. "These issues around gay rights and marriage were clearly extremely motivating factors."

While the Democrats also registered new voters, they focused too much on spreading the anti-Bush message, which didn't get their people to the polls, Robin said.

(via Newday)

When I write a horoscope that's "negative" with no positive spin to it, no solution to a problem, I usually receive a torrential downpour of mail. I've also been at this kind of work long enough to be prepared for the blame and flame. I just attempt to chronicle what I see as important.

Bitter was the title. I liked the closing comments, "Is this how people become Republicans?"

(Mental note: erase this all before you post it.)

Anyway, thinking on paper, I'm reminded of a buddy of mine, rather a wise fellow. I've probably got his homily all wrong, but it serves my purposes.

"A liberal sees a guy 100 yards off shore, drowning. The liberal gets 200 yards of rope, and throws it all out to the drowning person. A conservative gets 100 yards of rope, uses 25 yards to secure one end of the rope to the shore, then tosses the remaining rope out towards the drowning guy."

> In 421, turnout was 69.57%. It broke down to 77.64% Kerry, 19.75%
> Bush. Precinct 422 turnout was 64.25% with 82.85% Kerry, 13.81% Bush.
> The results by precint are >here.

Didn't vote for him.
Didn't vote for his daddy, either. But I did see GWB, once, on a fishing show, and you know? In my dream world, after the next four years? I'd love to fish with him on his pond in Crawford.

When both my parental units called in on Wednesday afternoon, I got to ask the question they both refused to answer earlier, the "Who did you vote for" question.

As moderate, right-wing, not-quite-fascist conservatives go, I figured it was more a rhetorical question. The pause came and suggested something was afoot, like, "There are strange things afoot at the Circle K."

Turns out, even my conservative parents voted for Kerry. I'm wondering if Sister even bothered to vote. But she's in California, so I guess that's a moot point, now.

"And what's that burning smell?"
Better known as, "Is something on fire?"

No, it's just first time I've had to fire up the heater.

After the sun had set, I wandered off to the coffee shop for a little dinner. The "slacker banquet," as it was. Red beans and rice, with some cheese, diced tomatoes, jalapeno, and purple onions.

"Ahh, man, I just dropped the cornbread, you want to wait on it?" The cook asked me.

"No problem."

As I was shoveling my way through the vegetarian feast, I noticed that the cornbread, served a little late, tasted particularly good. I inquired as to the cook's magic.

The Capricorn behind the coffee bar assured me the guy in the kitchen wasn't a cook, just warmed stuff up. Between the two, they arrived at the conclusion that the cornbread tasted good because it was warmed on the same griddle as the hash browns, and therefore, redolent in fresh rosemary. Just a nice touch.

I kept thinking it was that special floor seasoning.

Tech support woes:
Got Pa Wetzel an iSight for his birthday. Tried it last night, and I'm happy, only took three phone calls to get it all straightened out, up and running. Sister's purported reason for this suggestion for a birthday gift was to stay in touch. What really happens? I have to be in front of my computer with the little cam running while talking on the phone until the video connection goes through. The only problem? I can't fish while answering tech support calls from the family, not now.

Quick views
Looks like an unprecedented 70% of the voters turned out in Travis County. That's pretty cool.

That so many folks in Texas voted for Bush? I'm less pleased, but then, here in my hood, the numbers I came up with might be a little skewed by our "Austin Liberal bias."

Seems like I predicted this one right, though.

I can't even provide sources for most of my recap, and I've not had enough coffee yet, but it looks like only 1 out of 10 of the under 30 crowd voted. Not that it's unusual, but the other 9? No excuse for complaining.

Many local Democrats retained their positions (good). Commuter rail passed (possibly quite bad).

Only 26 shopping days left
Unrelated news:
Giant squids taking over the world?

Still part of my Y2K supplies.

Round a-bout, 11/2/04 9:44 AM, ya'll said:
> Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2004 9:26 AM
> Subject: FW: Meter
> This could be useful while watching election coverage! Or maybe just to have
> around ...............
Think I'll use it...

> London, UK - 2 November 2004, 02:30 GMT - The most comprehensive study ever
> undertaken by the mi2g Intelligence Unit over 12 months reveals that the
> world's safest and most secure 24/7 online computing environment - operating
> system plus applications - is proving to be the Open Source platform of BSD
> (Berkley Software Distribution) and the Mac OS X based on Darwin.

Complete article here.

Early election results?
Jo's special

The hat.

Wasn't much of a line at the polling place, basement of a church. 30 seconds of instruction on how to use the electronic ballot. Sign here. (Sagittarius?)

A little later, notice the special on the board at Jo's, I was doing a chart reading, looking for trends and explaining the astrological weather, and I noticed a TV set going in the background.

"Wait a sec, I've got to see who's winning," I said.

"It's Tuesday, I didn't know there were any sports on today," exclaimed the Gemini.

Election coverage, pro sports, all about the same, these days; although, there's less chance of injury in politics.

Best early election coverage I cold find? Oddly enough, it was Look at the address closely, "news" dot "bbc" dot "co" dot "uk" - from the good old days of the internet? The "dot co dot uk" meant the server was located in the UK, the United Kingdom, sometimes referred to as Britain? Yeah, or as I would extol, with a drawl, "yea, verily."

I didn't know my vote mattered so much.

Only 27 Shopping days left!
Over the breakfast table, I looked at sister, and I suggested I was "barrio dude," especially poignant in light of the traffic in the hood, "Well, except for the rhythm part."

"Yes, Kramer," Sister dryly observed, "you can always pray for a miracle."

One more: Ma Wetzel and I were bluffing Pa Wetzel, while on the way to drop me at the airport. Didn't work. Or it did. He thought we were serious.

My flight was cancelled, too, imagine that, problems with winter weather in Texas. Rain, anyway. Next flight, though was less than 20 minutes later.

21 days on the road. (Not quite, more like two nights, but it can seem like forever.)

In the background of this week's audio file, there's a little hiccup. It's my own sweet wee Scorpio mum, making an ad lib comment. Too bad it got edited out.

Time to vote. If you ain't done so already. The report I read? For my precinct? 47% of the registered voters had already voted in early voting. Nice numbers. At least I live in politically active place.

Radio program, late nights, in the Midwest?

Only 28 shopping days until
Nice try. "Only 28 shopping days until the, now-annual, 29th birthday."

"That one didn't even fly."

Unrelated family noise:
"What time is it?"

"It's about ten in the morning, why?}"

"Plus or minus two hours for a margin of error?"

At the Opera:
(I was busy trying to explain that, to my wee Scorpio mum, the idea of her children going to the opera is almost the same as us going to church. For me, the opera is much more entertaining. Although the service does tend to run a little long.)

It was Carmen, and the local newspaper had pretty much glossed over the opera. But I rather enjoyed it. In part, with my sister on one side of me, and us making jokes along literary levels, fraught with deep historical meaning, the bawdy humor probably escaped some of the folks sitting the same row with us.

"Carmen," I explained, "it's based on that Bugs Bunny cartoon - the one about the barber....'

"No, they did a different source for that one, that's the Barber of Seville, and it was used for a different opera." Sister assured me, "But you're right, the cartoon came first."

I know it looked like roast, but I kept assuring Sister that it was nothing more than a special Tofu thing we make, just for folks from California. Looks just like roast. Made from Tofu. Trust me.

The weather cleared off, we had a snack after the matinee, and then the kids started coming by. Suddenly, Ma Wetzel was running desperately low on candy.

That's how I found myself in line at a Tom Thumb supermarket - I didn't know they still made those places - and I was grabbing a few boxes of candy. Face-to-face with a half-dozen other males, one joked with me, "Yeah, they're killing us out there," as if I, this long-haired, barefooted freak in black trunks and baggy sweatshirt belonged to their fraternity of suburban-dwelling fathers and homeowners.

Which was made worse yet, because I had to make another run to same grocery store, and the girl behind the check-out line says, "Not you, again, didn't get enough the first time?"

I had Sister in tow the second time, nothing like a little verification.

"Yeah, where are they all coming from?"

I would like to think that we were the most interesting people around, especially given the dry surroundings.

"C'mon, let's get a quick latte, before we go back to the house."

Her idea, not mine.

Never did quite get to that high-pitched maniacal point, but it was a close one.

And family with airports.

In the event it was missed, completely unrelated to anything, the pay-per-view page contains less than 2% advertising. Low-fat web page?


Travel notes:
Subtitle: Excellence in customer service.
Marty called me, about a week ago. Marty is a Pisces, as it turns out, and she was running the baggage claim customer service desk, which is a lot more like a closet than a desk, and she was just alerting me to the fact that she'd found my pager. Or that the pager had been turned in. as it had escaped my luggage, somehow. First time she called, with that cheery Pisces voice, I reminded her it was early on a Sunday morning, and I probably wouldn't remember talking to her.

She called again Saturday morning, just to remind me that she still had my pager. I was a little more awake, I thanked her and told her I'd be right out to pick it up.

When I gathered up the pager, I thanked her for her persistence, charm, wit and most of all, patience. It was one of those lessons in customer service.

There's much, I see, that I've left out. Getting to the airport, what a lovely red-head looks like, all the details, save for the fact that the pager was still there. Oh never mind, it was just customer relations.

Brush with fame:
Senator Kay Hutchison (R - TX) (I think) - was on the flight. There was a little, quiet campaigning going on, amongst a very Republican looking set of housewives, but as I wasn't approached, I was busy on a phone call, doling out astrology advice to another devout Republican, and I failed to mention the Senator. Or some of her uncharacteristic bad calls on local issues that affect me.

Won't be voting for her, that's for sure.

Shopping (like there's anything else to do in Dallas?)
Andrew (Gemini) and then Whitney (Aquarius) tackled and fielded questions, both astute and inane, from me and Sister, while at the Apple store. We walked out - just like my predictions - with a handful of goodies - allegedly for Pa Wetzel, but then I wonder....

Family stories:
"Yes, I know you don't believe it, but I'm on a low-stress, no-fat, vegetarian diet," Sister said, while helping herself to the second end-cut of roast. Which was followed by two kinds of cake and two kinds of ice cream, as she agitated about politics. Three for three?

I'd picked up a wide-screen, digital alarm clock for Pa Wetzel, as a birthday gift, and as I pointed out, after I plugged it in, and set it up, he was leaving me with a bad image - he was starting to glance at the instructions.

Ma Wetzel, nominally, it was her birthday party, was wandering around the house, Saturday afternoon advancing all the clocks.

"So what time is it now," Sister asked, mock sarcasm in her voice.

Ma Wetzel glanced up, "First you add an hour then subtract two...."

The fact that my sister and myself turned out so normal? It's amazing. Just amazing.

Saturday cartoons
Which only seems fitting for being with family.

I was poking around on Sister's site, considering design issues. The last time I worked out a splash page, I used a smaller-than-accepted-norm of 640 X 480 image because I was trying to keep the load size down - keep it "modem friendly," as it were. 800 X 600 weighs too much, too.

I was playing with a graphic file, trying to get it sized an uploaded for the cover of the book version of the columns, due out in December. But that one image got me to thinking about going back to a splash page.

Unreated inbound mail:
Round a-bout, 10/29/04 10:51 AM, ya'll said:
> I've learned so much through your entries and articles..thank you for taking
> the time to write back. I tried to figure out what "Ibam ibi, feci id, aditus
> piscari" means.

Ibam ibi, feci id" (Been there, done that.)

And then I went fishing instead.

Unrelated images:
Some time Friday afternoon, I remember sitting down to a reading, and I remember getting up and wandering off into the wilderness of the hood, toward the creek and home, for swim and a nap, near as I recall.

Maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was something else, but I had a half-dozen images saved from my wanderings. Most them were too shaky to be useful, although a few of them were funny - at least to me. I did save one:

A '58 Rambler

create your own visited states map

Only, the more I looked at that map, I think I missed a few states that I've been to, like that one at the top, and the Midwestern one, too, I think I've been there. Couple of them that are unchecked, where I think I've been, at least for a visit. Never been to Rhode Island, that much I'm sure of. I think.

The sticker says, "This is not Dallas," and that's me, shirtless in the October sun, outside a coffee stop.

Holiday notations
Sometimes, I wonder, if it's like a Three-Meat Thursday deal. Or something. Off to Dallas for a "birthday weekend" celebration with the whole family. Sort of a precursor to T-Day, I suppose.

Uno: Mag queso, Sagittarius and Leo.
I got a call the other afternoon, from a Leo bud, just in from the Left Coast via the East Coast, and he's stuck in town. "Dude, queso at Mag?" Sure. On the way to Magnolia, I passed another Leo, for the second time, in the parking lot of the White Crane. Twice. In less than 12 hours.

The nice Sagittarius girl, I haven't seen her in a year of more, she was waiting on us. Nice to see familiar tats again. Let's make the Leo/Sagittarius thing even more odd. Wednesday night, a Sagittarius feller was working at Jo's, as I grabbed some coffee going up to Magnolia. Thursday morning, grabbed a similar cup of Jo's, and it was another Sagittarius working.

Dos: Activist Vision.
At the Alamo (downtown), Third Coast Activist presented "About Baghdad." Which, I thought, was going to be some left wingnut piece about the current events. At one point, the presenter in the film, "an Iraq Michael Moore," did try to goad a interview in the direction of "The US supplied Saddam with weapons and then the US bombed us...."

What I was left with, a sense that the occupation was bad, but it wasn't as bad as the outright slaughter under Saddam's regime. Sheer terror was replaced with great inconvenience. I don't think that was the intent of the "documentary" film - it's jus what I took away.

On my way to the theater, I passed a young male (I think), dressed in all black, sporting very green hair.

Tres: images.
I caught this image on the way home the other evening. I'm strictly, well, pretty much, more less, private about my political decisions. Doesn't matter how I vote, I will offend up to 50% of my readership. Can't be alienating half the paying customers. Issues, issues, issues. Anyway, if you don't vote then you can't complain. It's that simple.

The problem with the picture is that there's a toy railroads track in it. I have strong feelings about mass transit and especially about urban rail systems. I'll probably vote against the proposed system, based almost solely on one activist's blog. That site argues more effectively and eloquently about the proposed problems than any other publication. In that one case, I'll admit what I'm voting against, and why.

Austin desperately needs effective mass transit. From what I've gathered, though, the current item up for vote is not effective, nor does it promise to be. Which means it will probably win, even without my support this time.


The only other endorsement I can publicly make? That should be obvious.

View from the edge
How the BBC sees us.

Unrelated news item:
Nice oil analysis.

Two divergent tracks:
Happened the other evening, and it happened again last night. One side of my head was running through the lyrics from Cory Morrow, basically a Texas country tune. Plenty of twang, steel guitar, that sort of noise. The other side was listening to some "disco-techno-dance-mix." In the center? I couldn't make any reasonable, or even an unreasonable, connection between the two concurrent tracks.

Late night business:
It's the third night this week, me in shorts and the same shirt, up late, drinking coffee, and enjoying merry banter in the late evening. Here it is, almost October, and I'm still in shorts and sandals, carrying on like it was a summer's eve.

Heading home, I was watching the moon, just past the point of being at its fullest, by a few degrees, either astronomical or astrological, and I was watching the thin clouds add a fine layer of texture to the bright light. Almost daylight. Twilight, anyway.

Unrelated fishing tale:
Neighbor walks a dog by while I was fishing, "Hey Kramer, what are doing?"

"Feeding the little fish."


"Yeah, big ole night crawler, on the end of the line? Little perch just nibble until it's all gone. So I'm really just feeding the fish."

Some days, the fish win.
Not really bragging rights, either

Two-meat platter: live bait and brisket.
"You wear boots?"

It was a late night question, as I left the BBQ place, me gripping a carton of brisket in one hand and to-go box of brisket (for the cat) in the other hand.

I waved my arms around.

"Boots or sandals, all I've got, you've seen me in winter wear before?"

Apparently not.

The so-called "Fall Season" has been balmy, to say the very least. Tuesday afternoon, it rained. Then the sun popped back out, and it looked like there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Sitting on the patio, it started to rain a bit and we moved under the shelter of the patio's cover. Back against the wall, a silent stage at one end, it was story time. Something about growing up in Texas, something about the way a place infects the soul.

"I just can't live anywhere else," my buddy was explaining.

The moon was a few degrees away from being full, as I swinging along the trail on the way home. The recent rain left the grass damp, the full moon combined with Austin's Moon Light Towers cast an eerie glow to the landscape, the water ruffled by the almost standard breeze out of the southeast. I peeled out of my shirt and wrapped it around the bait and brisket.

I first saw this sig file from an Aquarius from Ft. Worth. Might not be original, but that's the first I saw of it, "Where are we going and what am I doing on hand basket?"

For one, shining moment, someplace on the trail last night, I was so far removed from the problems of the world. Gentle camaraderie, a perky Leo server, decent smoked platter full of tasty bits, life was all right.

Matter of perspective.

Might've been that last cup of coffee, too, just up the hill at Bouldin. I requested a little double shot of espresso. I think I got about four shots.

Or it could've been the way the Leo served the dessert, heaped with ice cream. Not that I should, but I did do an extra turn on the trail, on the way home.

Two-meat Tuesday ideas
I've got two pictures, taken more than a year ago. I don't know why I took the pictures, I don't know what motivated me, and I've toted these images around for some time.

As I've been poking through Neal Stephenson's System of the World, those images have come back to haunt me. That street, that hill, that alley, plays a part in the novel. I have no idea what the connection is, either. Just images culled from the old hard drive here.
Sunday evening, I was shopping for a particular gift for Pa Wetzel, a rather simplistic piece of electronic gear, and I got sidetracked, looking at digital cameras. The damn phone takes pictures. Plus I've got a "disposable" digital camera, bought in the same place I was shopping, and that camera still works. Works flawlessly with a Mac, I might add. Find the right cable, plug it in, and the computer can read just about any camera. That's cool. So I don't need another camera, but that one store? It did have a cool, slim, portable, tiny, new camera that was sale-priced at $49.95. Not really much of an improvement over what I've got, and to be honest, the best pictures are coming from the phone's camera, even with its limited ability. No new toys this week. But the idea of new camera? Especially a super-slim one that would fit right in my pocket/ Wait, both of mine do that already. I have to wait until it's disposed.

The second part of being an online-consumer, I purchased another computer case, in effect, getting ready the winter travel series approaching. Yes, I'm a happy proponent of Timbuk2 baggage/luggage. What sold me was a Leo buddy, Scotsman, and former San Francisco bicycle messenger. At one point, when he wasn't in jail, he practically lived out of his messenger bag.

It took a couple of tries, but I finally settled on a canvas bag that, as the advertising suggested, has aged gracefully, gently going gray. Since then, the manufacturer has discontinued the heavy canvas. Probably not durable enough in our ultra-high-tech social milieu. So the local DHL service delivered my new laptop tote - to an office down the street.

"Is this Kramer? Good, I'm Steve, and I'm in the mailroom, down the street, and we got a DHL package addressed to you...." East and West. I'm not complaining.

It was easier, and more relaxing, for sure, to walk a few blocks, talk to a security guard, talk to the pert female in shipping and receiving rather than to call up the manufacturer, the carrier, and have them all get worked up. Whip out that tracking number and be a pain. Or, just take a short walk?

I had room for plenty of righteous indignation. I was just my cheerful self, instead. Took a lot less time, and other than the guard? No one was confused.
Some things I don't get
Like this ad copy:

RedHead Rock Solid Guarantee
Silk Chemise for Ladies

Monday's Miasma
Comic lines lifted elsewhere.

Need to run a new pledge drive. Two options, and this was based on some interaction, a reminder of the old "subscribe or the dog gets it" idea:

"Don't make me come over there"
"anything helps"

I was a little worried about plugging in some kind of pledge drive, but the site needs it - plus I've got a number of folks worrying why the scopes on the front page are last week's - that's because the current scopes are by subscription. The lawn needs to be mowed, the server has to be paid for and so on.

I'm seeing two other sides of that coin, a three-sided coin.

PayPal is almost a monopoly, plus they have dubious standards about business, no triple x material, and some other political intrigue.

Then there's idea that some folks don't find the scopes useful. Hence the free stuff. If it doesn't work, then don't subscribe.

"It's a wonderful night, got to take it from me
It's a wonderful night, come on and break it on down"
(FatBoy Slim, It's a wonderful night)

More on Morrow (Cory Morrow):
Songwriter's Lament, from the Full Exposure CD.

"I've got some fond memories of San Angelo
and I've seen some beauty queens in El Paso,
but the best looking women that I've seen
have all been in Texas, all wearing jeans...."

Really unrelated flatulence:
Only in America?

While that acronym might mean one thing to some folks, like me, turns out, right next door to Bouldin Creek Coffee, that's the name of a car sales place.

NFW Auto Sales

Feast of St. Crispin
Monday is the Feast of St. Crispin.

Which, near as I can tell, has nothing to do with anything. Agincourt, 500 plucky Brits, 10,000 French nobles and underlings, Brits kicked some serious* French booty.

Actual numbers, from what I recall of history? 1,500 Brits versus 2,500 French. Brits, under Henry V's command, used the long-bow to - literally - kill the enemy.

"Hey, they're killing us here!" (say it in French?)

Ah yes, but Shakespeare's (Branagh's) version is lot more dramatic. As my wee Scorpio mum once said, "Never let the facts interfere with a good story."

Unrelated historical note:
Agincourt might have been one of the first instances of "modern" warfare because Henry V lacked enough manpower to guard the captives (per the chivalry code) and fight the last part of battle. Don't ask me where I got that tidbit; it's from some historical note of something and I can't source the idea. But it's not original.

*Link differs from my history text, and I'm not sure which is more correct. Textbook from college days, those books would never be wrong?

Sunday Seven
The Sunday Seven?

1. The only political endorsement here:

Kinky for Guv? How hard could it be?

2. At the Paramount?
Dr. Strangelove (yeah, that movie.) Stanley Kubrick's 1964 epic with General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) and George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson plus Peter Sellers in three roles: Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, U.S. President Merkin Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove. What was the fourth part Sellers was supposed to play? My addled mind thought a webpage about a CRM 1114 would be interesting.

3. Overheard.
"Botchulism? What's an Italian painter got to the do with the food here?"

4. New tagline:
"Astrofish (dot net) - astroglide for astrology"
(maybe it needs to be reworded)

6. Austin (yeah, I know, old news.)

7. Unrelated visual:

#5 was abducted by aliens and has yet to return home.

Yee-haw! Scorpio!
Party on. Dude.

I picked up a Cory Morrow CD Full Exposure Live because I was looking for that one song that's been haunting me for years. "21 Days," with that lyrical hook, "21 days on the road, I'd go home, but my home's right here."

The hook is set with me. I heard it rolling out of the Coastal Bend (Gulf Coast) last winter. Heard it rolling back down there, last summer. Caught it on the road from San Antonio, one night, rolling back up the highway to Austin. Radio, who'd a-thunk it?

I played it back-to-back with FatBoy Slim. Yeah, well, so what? I got to poking around on the web, and I couldn't find much about Cory Morrow, like a birthday. I'm thinking I saw Cory at Billy-Bob's, but I couldn't turn up any notes for it.

I've seen him play a time or two, and he's another one of those amazing Texas artists. Guess he won't get much airplay away from here; lad's from down around Houston, I'm guessing.

"I'm on the highway baby drivin' fast." (Morrow "The Highway")

From that album's liner notes, attributed to Cory Morrow:
"Remember, don't pass up ANY opportunities which have been laid in your path! HAVE FUN WITH YOUR LIFE!"

Which has nothing to do with this:

Who writes these headlines?

Recent news
I picked something up via Dave Barry's web log, which then linked to an article about how Mr. Barry will be taking some time off from writing a regular column.

I can't link - can't find it - to the article I read, what, 24 hours ago? Why this was so intensely interesting to me, in the article, from what I recall, Dave Barry was discussing the idea of not writing a weekly column after doing so for 30 years.

For the astrologically inclined, it coincides with a Saturn phenomena, and for the less astrologically inclined, think about it thusly, he's been doing this - weekly - for over three decades. Any odds on stopping cold turkey?

I've tried, on numerous occasions, to stop writing. At this point, I'm just a little over a decade into this game, so it's not too big of a deal. But I can't seem to stop. Wouldn't think of it.

Unrelated happiness:
Reading - downtown - then some miles on the trail, which lead me to the record store - wait - why do I call it record store? I don't think there's any vinyl there. Picked up that new Fat Boy Slim (Norman Cook) CD. "and the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply" (oh yeah, where's that sample from?) I was going someplace with the whole happiness thing, and what happened, I get a call, "Hey, get that cranky old lady to chain up her dog, I just washed the wheels on the truck," and that meant a quick dinner at Threadgill's, and tossing a lure in the lake, and then, two more calls, more website development. Was just a busy as could be day.

Round a-bout, 10/21/04 3:04 PM, ya'll said:
> The second surprise was having an actual contemporary read my chart! I wasn't
> just getting a lecture, I was getting a genuine, "I've been there!!!" type of
> reading -- as if someone really was understanding my life, because they had
> lived it and not just because they were skilled at reading a chart. (which
> you were that too).

There was another comment that came up from another web guy, during the afternoon, someplace between the second and third cup of coffee.

"How often do you update?"

Once a week, journal is daily.

"That's a lot of material, each week."

3K words for the column, plus links. Journal? Averages 10K/month. Thanks for noticing.

Very unrelated (to anything but politics):
It's a triple-X site - not safe for work - unless you work in such a place. I mean, it's safe for work in my office, but I'm the boss, if I caught employees doing this, oh, never mind.

Bad words
Had a troll try to break into this a-here inter-web thing, the web journal, web log, blog, or whatever these daily rants and raves are called.

I noticed a spike in the journal's membership, and I checked it out - only to discover that it was "fished" and not in a fun way that involves live bait.

The upside is that the work involved to get the members' email addresses is too much work. First time I've had to ban an IP address in a long while. The bad news is that this little blog was targeted.

Getting closer
And yet, it's still not Scorpio time. Yet.
The hit counter shows one number, creeping up close to 200,000 "hits" in the last year. What was odd, late at night, I was toying with Amazon's A9 search engine and I found the page rank for my site substantially higher than a number of other sites that all seem to be better placed.

Then, cruising through the actual web files, the raw numbers, none of it made sense. I'm sticking with that hit counter. It runs straight off the server so it's tied directly to what the web server records. Straight up, no fiddling.

Books on tap?
Xmas time, and Mr. Christopher Moore is back, looks like with style, with The Stupidest Angel, and from the blurb, sounds like the town in - I think - Practical Demon Keeping. The world is a better place for decent satire and bizarre comedy.

Also on tap and in time for Xmas?
Coming soon! As seen on TV! FGS 2004.

File under the "the end is near":
The end of the internet as we know it?

Another /. link:
A thread, Q&A from a good author, got me thinking since I was dealing book formats yesterday morning.

At the movies: Team America:
Team America (bad word!)

Which was a funny film, to me, and I appreciated being in an audience wherein most of the people laughed at the graphic violence, the graphic puppet sex, the sheer - way over the top - satire of it all. Liberal and conservative? Yeah, they all looked bad. Didn't offend me in the least, but I have a sick and twisted sense of humor.

Stopped off for a quick Texpresso afterwards, and I kept repeating the refrain from the theme song. Not exactly a chick flick, but then, what can a viewer expect from the creators of South Park? It's a couple of white, adolescent males, working with a fantasy budget, and yet, the venue - The Alamo (Village) - was perfect. Real (vintage) Thunderbirds were playing at the beginning. Puppets. Not much has changed.

I liked it. I liked it a lot. But then, they did manage to offend just about every race, color, creed, and the symbolism, such as it was, worked on several levels, blasting liberals and conservative alike.

Which might be part of the message in the first place. I don't think those boys will ever work in Hollywood again. Not that it matters, I'm sure they can live off South Park reruns for the rest of their lives. Funkiest part? I wasn't offended by any part of the movie. But then, it did appeal to my sick and twisted side. Highbrow, it ain't.

Almost (but not quite)

Unrelated: books
The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad was a notation in a New York Times Review of Books, and its review sounded interesting enough. Picked the novel up the other week, and it's, ahem, interesting. The author's purported roots as a slam poet shine through, too, with lyrical word play.

Food items:
Grace's brother, nominally, Uncle Alberto, is a good cook. "Oh man, don't tell him then he gets impossible to deal with!" Anyway, Sunday night, he fixed, among other things, some of the tastiest Acorn Squash I've ever had. Wireless was running in his trailer, so I attempted to write down the recipe and fire it off to my own Ma Wetzel. Cut the acorn squash in half, and cook it face down in water for 15 minutes. Turn it over. Cook it face up for fifteen minutes. Sautee some red peppers and some onions, then add the mixture, plus a can of Mexican corn, and it's great.

Unfortunately, the recipe didn't get out with all the right details. So Ma Wetzel calls, "You want Acorn Squash?"

Just trying to help my little vegetarian friends - that all.

Speaking of Vegetarians:
A couple of weeks ago, my little Pisces friend Linda handed me a manuscript for a book she'd "ghost-written" (that's a little in-joke, see, she claims it was channeled work, ghost-written by her.) Linda was busy handing out several copies of the manuscript for review, suggestions, and so forth. I think she told me I was probably the most literate of the preview readers. I don't know about that. A degree doesn't mean I'm literate.

I toted the manuscript around with me, and I finally got to reading it at the airport. The first dozen pages or so, I've got a number of minor corrections, dangling modifiers noted, incorrect use of a word, a few agreement issues, a singular subject but a plural pronoun, nothing I might add, that I'm not guilty of myself.

But I had about two hours of uninterrupted time to really read, coming back from El Paso, and I breezed through the bulk of the manuscript. I quite worrying about editing remarks, and I paid more attention to the style. Even more important, I wrapped my mind around the content.

When it's published, I'd push this book. It's simple, straightforward. No plot. A little bit of self-promotion, but then, the book is about how to deal with certain issues. It's not fiction, and I kept thinking I recognized some of the clients mentioned.

Quick read, short on style, no big words, nothing earth-shattering, but it deals with ticklish self-help subject that needs a simple, straightforward, no BS approach. Which, despite its lack of style (or fishing & Shakespeare allusions), makes it a rather good book. Excellent book.

By the time I got done with the first 80 to 100 manuscript pages, I wasn't paying any attention to subject - verb agreement, but I was underlining key concepts (inner child, past life, current life, issues) instead. Which, to me, makes the text even more important.

Nope, I'm not an editor, nor was I being paid to critique the text. What I found, as I worked my way through it? Valuable lessons, packaged in a succinct, easy-to-read format. No fancy, high-blown, psychological model, no tale that was too far out, and no message that was a little too buried - something I'm sure I'm guilty of.

The "self-help" genre is one that frightens me, as does the too esoteric spiritual texts. But from my own point of view, I'm liking this one manuscript.

Really unrelated:
Little points, like the Capricorn making afternoon coffee, while the moon was in Capricorn, perhaps a little bitter about something? Then there was the dog riding on the back of the kayak, the smiling jogger, and a sure sign of the coming apocalypse:


Leftover road noise
One morning, the girls (Grace's offspring) had been parked at Uncle Al's place, and I was crashed out in the littlest of Leo's bedroom. I think this was Sunday morning.

It started before 5 AM, a persistent noise of some kind, a beeping that started off softly and gradually got louder. As far as I could determine, it was coming from the empty Scorpio bedroom, and I finally rolled out of bed, and stumbled into the empty Scorpio bedroom and tried to figure out how to shut off the alarm clock.

Fall back in bed. Fall back asleep. Another fifteen minutes, another alarm clock goes off. Fall as back asleep for a few minutes.

What I recall, finally, was Grace, standing in the doorway, holding a third or fourth alarm clock, Grace was looking at the alarm clock in one hand, and the end of the power cord in the other, "It's unplugged - I don't know how it's still beeping."

More background noise:
Waking up when there's a flock of youngsters bound for school is different from trying to figure out how to shut off two or three persistent alarm clocks.

The youngest, that littlest Leo, was rather profound, early Monday morning, "Yeah, I'm the youngest, I get blamed for everything. I hope Emimen wins."

At little later, she noted my attempt at making a bed, "Kramer, it helps when you make the bed? Try putting the blanket on the bed. Just a tip." (From a 12-year old..)

Bactrack notes:
Don't ever try to wrestle a Leo, the Leo, for the supper bill. I tried to grab the tab for breakfast at the truckstop. It's not pretty, getting your ass whooped by a girl.

And furthermore:
Dali coffee on the way to the airport, the desert vistas open and clear under the cool October sky.


"Kenny G!"
"No, it's Michael Bolton!"
Smart-ass curbside baggage handlers. Still evokes a silly grin.

Teachers on the airplane, too. Tons of teachers, but I was sorely disappointed, ain't a one of 'em that there partyin' type.

Home again:
Cat let me know that I was sorely missed, as in singing all night long. During the radio show, she'd pop outside, howl, and then pop back inside to eat, then pop back outside to howl.

It's Monday!
Get chased back to Austin, missed my ride in the best stretch limo - ever.

Sunday afternoon, the vendor with the rosary collection, he was trying to sell me a belt buckle from his table, 'Yeah, Kramer, you need this. Look, usually, it's only $220, but for you? I can let you have it for $300."

Such a deal.

I had to dodge a "work" bullet as Bubba had wanted me to help weld, some type of action that involved manual labor, and I had to take miss on that. No hard work for me.



Some days
Walked in Saturday morning, a number of folks had upset stomachs - me? I'm doing great!

I suppose it's that black magic woman thing?

Anyway, one of the vendors is a nice Jewish man, and the first thing he whipped out was some beautiful, handmade rosary he was selling.

When the Moon was in Scorpio, I had a bunch of Scorpio readings.

"Kramer, es como ciriqo."

Moon shifted into Sagittarius? Sagittarius.

Plus one odd Gemini, and hey, Jaxon's has free wireless!

Off to work
Again. And again.

We have determined, that yes, it was all my fault. I wore one of my "Jerry Springer: the Opera" shirts. And I walked into a scene from that opera. Just weird.

"There are no detours on the road to Grace."

(Friday night, Cookie loaned me his Ninja, and for the first time in a very long time, I threw a leg over scooter and blasted around the block. I think I only broke about two laws, three at the max, and I got it into third gear, once. No harm, no foul.)

Wireless Web problems.
Right before I pulled out of Austin, I encountered a two-fold problem. One was the (software) cookie on the blog, and the other was the wireless at Grace's. Grace's wireless broadband craps out before I can complete an upload, and I spent a portion of my day wrestling with a cookie that didn't want to set properly, and, oddly enough kept me from my admin tasks.

All fixed now. Computers are so simple - they only follow exact instructions.

Dinner was the State Line with all fire signs, the two Leos, and Cookie, the Sagittarius. I was illustrating a point during dinner, and I was using this week's Sagittarius scope as an example. Which lead to a debate about the best Star Trek movie (I like the first, Cookie liked IV), which derailed the thought.

Then Cookie had to illustrate a point about the point I was making, and he pointed out that there's always a token black in the group, which, in this case, was him.

"Dude, Thursday is the day to go to the casino." So we went on Thursday night. Couldn't hit much. Couldn't hit anything. Walked out a little lighter, but not much, and called it a good day.

Oh yeah, the spurious notes left over from travel? Landing in El Paso, I looked out and there was a holding tank, and I'm thinking, "I wonder if there are any fish in there...."

Also clearly visible, a "Taco Tote" sign.

Musical interlude
I've go to get me that new Fat Boy sound[/ur>! (Bubba alerted me to the New album)

Road Notes:
Have to remember to keep the espresso - ice cream float away from the keyboard.

Cancer cab driver: "Are you a musician?"


Guy at the Airport Amy's, "Are you, like, someone famous?"


The SWA curbside check in? There's a long list of instructions for hunters. "'Tis the Season"? No more than 11 pounds of ammo, only so much weight for packed game with dry ice, and so on. I suppose, it's a cultural thing.

More notes coming soon, sorting out a wireless problem here....

On the road (again)
The long and twisting road that goes on forever, and the party never ends?

Morning dash to the airport, morning flight to El Paso, evening looks to be interesting. I just hope they fixed their damn wireless so I can do more than just fetch up e-mail.

When I checked the weather, it looked like a shorts-only trip. When I checked, just as the scope rolled over, and just as a cool front blew through, I had to do that last minute repack thing - empty out the suitcase, pack jeans and a jacket, pressed shirts and a tie. Socks. Need to remember socks, too. I haven't won boots in a long time. I don't think I've worn long pants since last winter.

I can't resist, I finally found a place for excellence in election coverage.

More unrelated:
I had two, rather nice "customer service" issues, which goes back to that "revenue stream" I keep looking for. One was a reading and the card kept getting declined, and it was for a Libra birthday, so I went ahead with the reading despite a declined credit card because I knew the client was good for the money. Turns out, there was typo, and it was no one's fault, at least the way I see it.

Then, an order cycled through, and since I process all chart orders by hand, I took one look, and recognized the name, flipped back through the files, and noted that this person had ordered a year-long report, just a few months ago. Instead of messing around, I just called and asked. I mean, I'm not opposed to charging someone twice, if they really want to give me the money, but I'd be upset if I got billed twice. Turns out the earlier order never arrived - imagine that - details at the time lead me to suspect that in the first place - and I just fired off the original order again.

It wasn't free, but since that person never got it the first time, and as a subscriber, I try and be extra nice, it worked out well. It's like getting paid for some service and then delivering that service a few months later.

Reflections in the water's surface
It's sort of like looking at a very still body of water, and seeing yourself, or, at least, seeing reflections of your self, mirrored back. Sometimes, it's just a silhouette.

In the last couple of days, one afternoon, between horoscopes and readings, I was standing at the edge of the river, on the Shady Acre's little dock. I had on my usual, these days, black cargo shorts, a phone in one pocket, digital camera, and not much else.

Fishing pole in hand, looking through polarized sunglasses, I was stalking the mighty "trash mouth" bass. Me and the fish, that afternoon, we weren't seeing eye-to-eye. So I was standing, peering, casting, observing, and just generally being myself. Wearing shorts, not much else. Isn't that what everyone wears on a fall afternoon, between writing and reading?

Neighbor passes along the footpath, waves a hello, and I glance up, and I can't help but notice a stunning female companion. I go back to fishing.

"Hi Kramer, I know you, you did a reading for me, at New Age Books, some years ago," says the stunning companion. She said her name.

"Leo, right?" Then I suggested a year or two for her birth year. Kind of like a car model, you know? Or maybe a wine. Chateau Leo.

"No, it was like, in '96 or so," she replied, mistaking my guess, which was accurate, "and you said I was hell on relationships. Which was true. Look: you're fishing. You were that fishing something."

They were busy with other things, so I went on back to fishing. Interesting the comments I make that folks remember. Interesting, too, the tiny parts of her chart that I can remember. Like sign. She ran some kind of an astrology-based business for a few years, I think. I don't know, for sure. She didn't care to elaborate, but I took it that it was in her past.

I like writing, as I get to start in one direction and meander off in another, completely out-of-control. That one Leo - remember I only saw her from a distance - all I saw was a shapely figure and a Leo mane of blond hair - reminded me of an interview with another Austin astrologer. The basic question was how much money could a consulting astrologer make? Not a lot. But that's why there are several revenue streams. Advertising, pretty bleak, but worth a few cents, subscriptions - good enough for proof-of-concept, and books, plus personal consultations, travel shows, and website sales, still, it's not a lot, but then, I have a fairly meager existence - and I like it that way.

The consistency seems to pay off, that's for sure.

The final reflection was a reading the other evening. Got off to a rather late start, but the longer I interacted with this client, the weirder it got for me. Born the same year, with certain "astrology signatures" which are very familiar. Almost too familiar. While the details varied greatly, the timing was so similar, the same issues, similar problems, and in some cases, similar solutions. Then the person folded one leg under, while sitting. Like I do, frequently. That spooked me.

It was like looking at an image of myself. In the wan light of the bar's patio, as the evening cooled off, I had to wonder how I appeared, and now I know. At least, I have a better clue.

Two-Meat platter
Pork ribs, brisket - one Leo tale.

Pork Ribs:
I know I've noted this before, and I don't even recall where the material exists. I suspect it's on the site some place, but I'm too lazy to dig out the material. I was just a fresh face on the local circuit, and we were working in San Angelo. Must've been ten years ago. It was, at best, an event that bombed, but that was because there was too much going on that weekend. Or something. We were in a - I'm guessing here - a Howard Johnson motel. Here's the parts that I remember, and how I remember them.

The hotel, or motel, it's part of a chain, or was, at one time, a part of a chain, that stretched to include Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, and, at one time, San Angelo. If the town of San Angelo doesn't sound familiar, consider that it's the hometown to Los Lonely Boys, yeah, that band. What was memorable was the architecture of the hotel. All of the locations listed have hotels of the same vintage, same basic design, a large "atrium" if it can be called that, with a pool and miniature golf course (clubs are available at the front desk, for hotel guests only), and, in the case of the San Angelo one, the motel's convention ballroom was located just off the atrium. There was an upstairs restaurant of sorts, not exactly high-brow dining at the time, as that particular motel had fallen into the "weekly rates available" kind of use. Its architectural kin, in Midland, for example, is well-maintained and quite the flagship. Last time I was in that one, in Midland, it was a Holiday Inn. But that decade back? In San Angelo? That place was pretty run-down. Almost seedy.

So Sunday morning, we'd congregated in the upstairs restaurant, for bacon and eggs, and me, being the kind of guy I was at the time, I'd picked up a Dallas Morning News paper, the big, fat "bulldog" edition, the early Sunday paper. I sat the table with my working companions, most of whom I didn't really know too well, and I proceeded to open up the paper. I sorted through the ad circulars, tossed the classified sections, and started to read the comics.

Across from me, at the table, was Elaine (a Leo). (She will rue this part of the story, but it's all true.) I was about halfway through digesting the first comic I was reading, when a hand reaches across table, and parts the paper in my hand. I was then looking at Elaine.

She said one word, an emphatic, "No."

So that's where we met. Seems as how, in subsequent years, as the story gets told and retold, that I triggered a response based on her interaction - or lack of interaction - with a certain ex-husband. Something about reading the paper at the breakfast table. So I don't read a newspaper at a breakfast table with her anymore. At all. Just that simple. And I chuckle about it, but she's vaguely embarrassed. One should never trifle with a Leo.

Probably less than a year later, Elaine pulled together an event on one of the first "gambling boats" on the Texas coast. It was, as I recall, out of Galveston, and it was a pretty rudimentary affair. The bulk of the patrons were interested in gaming, most assuredly not interested in readings, but we all did wind up doing quite a brisk business with the boat's employees, I suppose, they should've been termed "crew." It wasn't much of a ride on that boat. During a break, Elaine took me down, and she showed me how to select and play a slot machine. I wound up with a small jackpot of maybe $20. But after the other fees for the weekend? That small win was pretty much my profit for that trip.

I worked and fished, all yesterday morning. I was surprised, as I was trying to use a crappie pole with a really light lure on the end, and I did manage three bites. Solid bites. But that Uncle Buck's Crappie Pole isn't stout enough for Large Mouth Bass hook-set. One was funny, to me, I yanked back on the pole, and the little fish went flying through the air.

The fish held the lure in his mouth for the duration of the ride, but when I reeled the lure - sans fish - back in, the weed guard hadn't even snapped open. Which meant, for his ride that fish was just hanging on to the bait. Which got me thinking, see, I'm wondering - fish don't have arms - so taking a ride on one of my lures? Isn't that like water skiing for a fish?

Imagine, one bass to another, "Dude! Just bite it! It's a rush!"

Home alone.
Home again? Yes, that's where I am, for about two days.

I was digging out the paperwork I keep on file, for my last trip, the accounting end of business, and I came across a receipt for "The Metropolitan." It's an upscale place in the Alamo City's "The Quarry," which, in and of itself, is a pretty interesting development. I think, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure its location is featured in one of Ric (Gemini, married to a Gemini) Riordan's books, maybe Big Red Tequila? (Which is a good book. Any author who can work in Peet's Coffee, Big Red and Tequila, plus some adventure in SA? Got to be good.)

The Metropolitan had a nice feel, as much as anything, under the cool SA sky? Felt like Paris. Paris, France. Didn't hurt that there were some folks speaking languages that were not English, some Spanish, to be expected, but there was also something else. Maybe French. Oh so very cosmopolitan.

Dessert took about half an hour, maybe longer, but then, a soufflé can't be cooked up in a hurry. The espresso was done with real Italian-roasted beans, or so it looked like. Don't hold me to that, but it was nice, under that October sky.

"Sip" is a new coffee shop, in downtown SA.

"Free wireless?" I asked.

"Yes, of course," replied the little Aries behind the counter.

I gently elbowed the Libra, "See? Civilization comes to SA."

Sip: 160 E. Houston, corner of Houston and some street, downtown San Antonio. Phone: 210/222-0149.

My litmus test for a barista, is to ask for a double shot of espresso with a tiny amount of foamed milk on top.

"Oh, you mean like a machiatto?"

Exactly. And the employee can tell the difference? Even better.

What was nice, looking at mine, it was double, with just the nicest presentation ever.

Alamo City
Overheard? "I'd rather have exploding diarrhea than throw up."

Taco Cabana, the original. It's down on, what, San Pedro? Was that the street? I think so. Just, after years and year of national - even international - fame, I figured, it was the least I could do, hit the original Taco Cabana.

Not much to see. I thought, it would have, I suppose, a plaque, or a monument, or something similar. At least some indication that this is where it all started. Just a another sad, little taqueria, except, this one spawned a huge chain.

"Please do not throw away the fajita skillets."

Earl Abel's, another thriving hotspot. Interesting, at least, as, as far as I'm concerned, it's steeped in memories. No, I've never been there before, either, but it's place that echoes, reminiscences, reminds me of places I've been before. It's an era gone by, not quite forgotten. Earl Abel's has been there since 1933, one of the original Art Deco buildings. Real Art Deco, not something dreamed up by modern-retro-chic designers.

The dessert, two orders of pie and coffee, was acceptable. But the ambience outshone the food by many miles. It was like a coffee shop, or a steak house, from years gone by. It was, as if, there was enough ingrained cigarette smoke in the bar area, although certainly non-smoking now, it still carried that faint smell. Or feint smell, could all be in a mental image.

"Please register for seating."

San Antonio, TX
Off to work.

I was cruising down the highway, just minding my own business, thinking that I had it made. Most cars, if not all of the vehicular traffic, were north bound - for Dallas. I'm sure, everyone is aware, it's the Texas - OU game. The Red River shootout. The good guys versus the bad guys. Having lived through a number of Cotton Bowl classics, in Big D, I'm kind of glad I'm missing it, going the other way.

I was a little worried when I noticed a Greyhound Bus, with "Dallas" as the destination tag, headed, I thought, south. Same way as me.

Thought I beat the SA rush hour, made a couple of calls, bragged about my driving just in time to run into "holiday" traffic. Rush hour with a freeway looking like a parking lot.

Got to hear and see Kinky Friedman, the next governor of Texas, and I managed to get in a picture.

He was, purportedly, signing his new book, which was - allegedly nonfiction. "But most nonfiction is untrue," he suggested, "while most fiction is true." Couldn't agree more.

One other quip that caught my ear?

"Running for governor, I can no longer say 'I hate Dallas'."

Yeah buddy, we feel your pain. My next governor is a Jewish Cowboy.

Thursday threesome
Thursdays, due to the publication cycle, tend to be a bit odd. Moving the publication to Thursday was a good idea, that's for sure, evened out the server's load. But it also hammers my normal routine, as there's just not enough to time to get everything done. Road trip, upcoming to San Antonio. Check it out.

The routine involves trying to get material finished in a timely fashion and in a work-person-like manner. Can't hurry a good thing. My personal goal is to knock a completed set of scopes in day. That's a high goal, runs about 3K words, might be more, because I have to par away at some of the material, when I get long-winded. I got to a point where at least six signs were acceptable, depending on the fishing (for fish and for dollars), sort of halfway point, and that still equaled, a minimum of 1K words. Just an arbitrary goal, one ground into my head by certain writing professor. He used to do four manuscript pages every day. Or so went the myth and the lecture.

So instead of finishing up scopes, I was preoccupied with a number of other chores. I'm trying to hurry the scopes up so I can get the material all together for a December publication date to get this year's annual out before January First. There's a Mercury Retrograde in December, so I've got to get it all done before then. The pressure is mounting.

I had a little eighth ounce darter jighead, and put a root-beer-colored grub on it, then suspended it underneath a heavy bobber, with about three feet of leader. I was watching the action and depth of the jig, to see how it was working, so I was on the dock, leaned over, watching the grub gyrate through the water as it approached the shore. Up from the depths strikes a little guy with a big mouth, he engulfs the lure, and I get another proof of concept. Plus it means I needed to switch the root beer for the rest of the day.

The funniest point in that picture, the little bass? Looks like he's got a mean eye, like he's really pissed-off. Considering how long he and his buddies have been teasing me, I only think it's fair. I do have one neighbor who would fry that little guy up, but I prefer to set him free. Now, if his parents would come around, we'd have us a fine time.

Older sister, I suspect, on a cotton-candy jig.
Two fish with less than an hour of my time invested in fishing. Not bad. Plus, while I was scanning the horizon, I noticed, high overhead, a V-formation of waterfowl. Not exactly headed South, more like southwesterly. Means it's getting cooler out.

"By the end of the film, Berg may have been a bit too excited. But who can blame him? The movie isn't about life and death. It's not about war and peace. It's bigger than that. It's about Texas high school football." Closing quote from AZ Republic review.

Advertising Load
Just a quick glimpse at numbers, maybe just some thumbnail guesses, really.

In the Pay per view section, the current scopes? Less than 1%. I'm not even sure that it qualifies as a portion of that, and just for the sake of content, the weekly audio file? That's a whopping 10% of the site's throughput (bandwidth burned) each month. I'm not complaining, that's paid for. It's a steal of a deal, less than a six-pack of Lone Star. Probably less than a Venti-Mocha-Latte-Decaf, too.

On the splash page, though? There's one banner ad, paid-per-hit, standard size. Then the sidebar itself is about 80% advertising, maybe less than that, and it's less than half the page length, so it's 20% of 50%, or about 10% of the total page, and that works out to 8% of the available web page that's advertising. Plus the banner. Call it between 10% & 12%.

On the journal, here? Each page currently has an Amazon badge, a Bass Pro sticker, Fat Cow Hosting badge, and a link to the sales area. Still weighs in at a lot less than 10% of the available web page.

Now, click on the "more" button, and the extended text has a standard banner, and on a short entry, that can account for as much as 10% of the available space, plus the 10% that's taken up with the Amazon/Bass Pro/Fat Cow stickers.

Here's a hint, use the "comment" link instead of the "more" link, and bypass the banner. Of course, that's fewer hits for their counter, and that means less revenue. But it's also free of advertising.

Less than 20% of the page is advertising. Next time? Look at any other site, and figure out how much of the page is advertising. What's content, and what's marketing?

Weird Wednesday
Picked up a local item that might be of interest to some, Streets Without Cars. Unrelated pictures, which have nothing to do with anything, a Kinky link, and the rest of the day.

BMSE work

Trail (road) closed.

I missed Kinky Friedman in Austin, the other evening. Two Scorpios: Ma Wetzel and Kinky Friedman. Which one is more important? Ma Wetzel wins on that account, hands down. Don't ever trifle with a diminutive Scorpio.

However, looks like I might catch "the Kinkster" in San Antonio.


I'll have to see, schedule's getting packed up again. And this was supposed to be my off-season.

I couldn't get the attention of any fish, to save my life. So it goes. Same story, different day. I'd take a break from banging out a horoscope, wander the water's edge, flip some bait out, and watch as the big bass roll right on by. I have had some success with tiny watermelon flukes, but not much more than nibbles.

I took the trail over to Barton Creek, went for a quick swim, wandered downtown, and somewhere, along the way, I ran into a Gemini buddy. He came sneaking up behind me as I was trimming a piece of rosemary for my hair.

"Two meat guy?"

I wasn't sure, at first, who was addressing me. Or what the meat connection was. New day. I was off to Bouldin Coffee for a vegan entrée, for my dinner.

It works out that way, from time to time, though, this writer's life. At a few minutes before midnight, I was just finishing up another column, and I had a flash of insight, an image from the afternoon, and I plugged it into the next batch of scopes. Then, I was thinking about the local groups, and I checked one of the sites to see when the next meet up would be. Which lead me to this blog and its title intrigued me, "Another 1,000 Words."

Yes, that's what I do in a day, just about every day, except when I have to work, like this coming weekend. Or the weekend after that. Even then, when I get a chance, I plug in and add to the notes for the day.

Some days, it all makes sense. Other days? I'm less sure.

Two-meat Tuesday
Pork ribs and brisket?

Pork Rib weather:
Monday night, I was talking to the Indianapolis radio, and I was pointing out that it was almost 90 here in Austin, that day, whereas, up yonder, it was their second frost warning. The Leo DJ joked that "frost warning" - to me - must have something to do with the icebox, the freezer section.

TFG wrote a short and elegant piece about Texas weather.

I started out with that, and I currently have no idea where I was going with it.

Something about weather, no doubt.

Ma Wetzel was due in town, by her reckoning, on Monday. That's the last I'd heard. She called in the middle of Tuesday afternoon, talking about a hotel and how she was changing rooms. I was still on the hike and bike trail, looking for fish, and I was just done with a two-meat platter, rather full. To be quite honest, the brisket was a tad dry, and the pork ribs were sparse, but they still had that delightfully flavored covering, making it all okay.

I had just enough time to jump in and out of the shower when she pulled up in her Prius, at the trailer's door. I showed her my fishing spot, and complained that I hadn't caught a fish in two or three days, then she dined at Threadgill's, and she acted so surprised when I picked up the tab.

I got up rather early Tuesday morning, saddled up to the word processor, and I processed words. Around noon, I got to wondering about wandering and eventually took off. One detour lead to another detour, and I had a good time poking through the specials at the office supply store at the corner of 5th and Lamar. I desperately, it's been more than a week now, needed some ink for the printer.

Now then, I did no readings, no chart interpretations, but I did take care of a bunch of the other business that goes with business. Mail box, office supplies, calling that insurance guy, double-checking with San Antonio, paying off a credit card, deposit at the bank, the nuts and bolts of business management. There were something like a half-dozen phone calls I had to return, and I hope I got to most of them.

Then there was the quick call to Grace about El Paso plane plans. So I was pretty much whipped by the time I got home, and I was getting a little fractious because I had already eaten enough to keep me through the day and evening. Plus, I'd had a full day, between writing, working, and walking, not to mention a Virgo waitress, either. But my "Wee (Scorpio) Mum" had to be attended to. At T-Gill's, she inquired about the Thanksgiving Day special, then tried the guilt-trip, old habits die hard, to see about a reservation. I'm looking forward to Chicken-Fried steak on T-Day, sounds like.

I directed her out the parking lot, and up the hill to Bouldin Creek Coffee, where, the first attempt at dessert just didn't satisfy her.

"It's carob, not really chocolate," she said.

But their homemade brownie, weighs about a half pound? That did the trick.

Side dishes (unrelated):
Short Wired article about viral marketing.

And an LA Times column about the privacy issue.

Belly button reflections
After a rather lackluster performance - cash-wise - over the weekend, I got around to doing a little soul-searching. Or navel gazing, as I like to style it.

I have to get my butt into gear, because I'm off to San Antonio this coming weekend. I also faced a lot of uncertainty with the Monday morning overload of mail.

Spent a portion of the day fishing, instead of wishing, but I did wish for fish. Water's pretty clear, means I can see the fish. But it also means the fish can see me. Several times, I'd watch a bass sniff at the bait, roll over and look at me, and just keep on cruising. I wish I could answer better, but judging on the feeding cycles, them fishes are getting ready for a cold winter.

I tried whispering sweet nothings in their fish ears, "Come on baby, you know you want it, just stick it in your mouth, It's tasty. You'll enjoy the ride. I promise, just stick it in, won't hurt a bit."

I thought about talking trash to the fish, but then, when a Large Mouth Bass opens up that jaw-line, it's special, see those lower cheeks flex, and the mouth gets all big, and fish themselves, they're kind of a pretty, in a fish-looking way. Cute, even, if they're not biting my thumb.

Radio time. Ernie (Sagittarius) and Angela (Leo) in Indianapolis. So I've been doing the phone in with them, and I'm enjoying myself, but it sure takes a certain kind of energy on Monday night. Some proper balance of coffee and star charts. Took me all day to get worked up to a half-hour program.

The nicest aspect to call-in radio shows? I can be my comfortable self. No shoes, no shirt. In fact, I made it a whole day with no shoes and no shirt. What a success. Think I'll add that to a scope soon.

I was put on the spot, too, being asked for a thumbnail sketch of the astrology of the upcoming presidential election. Kerry, Sagittarius, Pluto conjunct his Sun? Bush, Cancer, Saturn Return plus Jupiter getting up close to his Moon? What's it going to be? Close, that's for sure.

On any Sunday
The best place to find me is at work. Wishing I was fishing, but I'll take what I can take, work all weekend so I can fish all week. I suppose, it's a matter of priorities.

I counted close at least - I think - thirty vendors, and probably less than fifteen readers, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a much more effective type of event at which to work. Or, to work at.

Pisces and Sagittarius for the flavor for the day. With a smattering of steamy, sultry, exotic Scorpio.

"All you ever do is talk talk." (Where's that lyric from? And what's it doing in my mind now?

As I was packing up to leave, Elka (Sagittarius) pulled me aside and passed on a compliment, something a client told her. So, as far as I'm concerned, the information is now third-hand, strictly inadmissible in a court of law, but still, it sounded so nice, "You're good with the technical aspects of an astrology chart, but the way you present the material, the obvious joy that you bring to a reading, that's what sets you apart. The client really appreciated that."

And so it goes.

Dark & stormy night.
Work is like that, always worried about something. Either the weather's too good, and no one wants to be inside, or the weather's cold and gray, and no one wants to leave the house. Started on a Taurus moon, but once the moon slipped over into Gemini, life got a lot more hectic.

Too bad, too, as this event seems like it has raised the level of expectations for the event circus - circuit I follow.

Then, there's that "only in Austin" feeling, too, as I watched one patron, flip-flops, jams, and a T-shirt that read, "Rodeo: #1 American sport." Brings a whole new definition to the term, "Cowabunga."

Or "cat-a-bung-a." Dude.

Show time
Off to work, rather a disappointing way to spend a weekend, for me. Should be fishing for fish instead of fishing for dollars. But there are bills to pay. Not that it matters, but I was laughing while I was chatting up my "wee Scorpio mum," during a quick trip downtown.

"You need to date a nice Virgo for a little while," I was told, "that way your place will be clean again." I was pointing out that I hadn't had much time to clean lately, therefore, this place is a tad untidy.

She was in a mood to talk, and therefore, I figured I could spend 20 minutes chatting with her while I was covering some mileage, and getting around to the post office. I stopped off for a hot dog from a street vendor, and since, during the course of the conversation with my "wee Scorpio mum," it became apparent that I would need to book them into a hotel for Thanksgiving, I got around to that, too. Which meant stopping at Jo's for coffee, and since I was in the neighborhood, I just ordered up a shot of espresso, and hopped across the street to let a Gemini super scooper load that coffee up with Amy's ice cream.

Wired article about Google's News not making any money.

Very unrelated - collected fish pictures:
Acme KastMaster
Wedding & fishing
St. Giles
big fish
New fish
Big fish
PO Perch
East Side

Three for Thursday
One, two, three.

One: System of the World. Been reading it some. Still a wonderful series, but I suppose, it's not for everyone.

Two: missed. I was rolling up the scopes, getting ready for the next cycle of publications and I hit that scary sight: half-empty page. Which was really strange. Had to fill in some scopes, cast some charts, look items up in books, get the proper alignments, and make some educated guesses.

Three: tiny fish. Sight fishing a Watermelon Fluke in East Austin. (Marked lots of fish, but that's the only East Side Bass thus far - happened around mile 5 of 8 miles.)

Catch of the day
That's one, very pissed off perch.

(he struck the lure three times)

Two-meat platter
So it's kind of difficult to drag a "dyed in the wool" Democrat Vegetarian (Aquarius) to a BBQ place for a meal. However, in keeping with Tuesday's tradition, I'm thinking the title remains the same.

Tofu pork ribs:
I liked the comment about "pretend objectivity" - there's passage in the introduction to my romance book that deals with my objectivity - or lack thereof. Instead of pretending to be objective, I pretend to be completely subjective; therefore, when some decent objectivity creeps into my work, it's like a little bonus. No harm, no foul.

When the Muse is with me, when I'm in the zone, then I'm not thinking about marketing-speak, or the latest trends in advertising copy. I'm worrying my way through what a certain planet is doing to a particular sign. Very simple. Plus, I tend divorce myself from reality for the duration of the writing session. Some folks would wonder if I was ever really married to reality, but that's different question, not germane to this point.

Reality can be so tedious. As far as I can tell, and this is just a personal concept, but journalism, good journalism, is packed with the writer's experience. Instead of just reporting the facts, the experience as a whole is covered. Style, wit, plus, there's always the observations that the writer chooses to record. Objective? My lily white backside.

Textured vegetable protein chopped brisket (with Rudy's sauce):
(Rudy's BBQ may be a chain, but the sauce is still some of the best.)

We stopped off at Vivo's for dinner, a new spot to me, as I've pretty much avoid that end of town for a while. Good food. Excellent food. Perhaps the hot sauce alone was worth the trip, even if it was just a tad bit too salty. It did have that unique flavor that comes from, I believe, cumin.

Then it was movie time. Screen Door at Arts on Real. The first short film was, perhaps the most poignant, it was a Brazilian film about childhood. The juxtaposition of rich white girls with ballet classes, and tap classes, and talking about swimming and gymnastics versus the boys, about the same age, talking about work. Footage of boys at work, or playing soccer in the dust versus the girls at class, or strolling in the garden.

It was billed as a documentary, but the power was the message - and the way it was delivered. Pretty strong short work, but objective? Brown boys and white girls?

In bleak way, I was commenting on the gender differences whereas my Aquarius friend was commenting on the color differences, I never noticed the difference in hue, and she never noticed the gender point. Combine them together? Just what was the message?

A very powerful short film.

In some of the animation, too, there was another point, as the film cycled through the march of Western Civilization, but it didn't stop where I'm accustomed to the stop. It went, in a few short frames, from Copernicus through the Renaissance, to Shakespeare, to Columbus, and then onto the guy who discovered Brazil. I always thought finding America was the end of the line. I suppose, then, I'm not objective. But I never claimed to be.

That's just a little offensive.
I'm wondering, "Is it me? Or does this kind of comment offend anyone else?"

I picked up a voice mail, "Hey, I really need a reading right now, but I can't pay you until the middle of next month. But I need help now."

Since I couldn't respond in a polite, tactful manner, I put off making any kind of response. I was sorely tempted to reply to the call, "You go into a grocery store and say, 'I need food now, but I can't pay you until next week'?"

Since I didn't find my answer particularly useful, other than to amuse me, I decided not to respond at that time.

I was in the The Hideout Monday afternoon, and the owner was making coffee. Leo. Passable espresso, but I've had better. There, even. All I could remember was the guy's sign, and this week's scope, which suggests that good things are afoot for Leo. Which I commented on, in a bright and cheery manner. In fact, I'd just come in from the post office, and after buying stamps at the machine, I had a pocket full of dollar coins. I flipped one up, "Call it." "Tails," he said. It was tails. I tossed it in the, presumably his, tip jar. "Call it," I said again, "Tails," he called it. Came up tails, I tossed it in the tip jar. I fished around in my pocket for some more change, dollar coins, and made idle conversation about how Leo is looking up these days. (Jupiter in Libra, in case you're wondering.)

I'm a regular customer. Over the years, I've invested a lot of dollars, some of them hard-earned, in coffee at that one place. The wireless is a little flaky, but I've seen a good show there.

During Monday afternoon's interlude with the Leo, he handed me my preferred (this week) libation, a double shot of espresso with a tiny amount of frothed milk foam, the drink usually costs about two bucks. When I fished out another couple of dollar coins, he declined, saying the coffee was courtesy of him.

I'd look at it as a "frequent flyer" discount, or as a tip for being nice to a Leo, or any number of customer service related issues and perks.

But the point being, I was fully prepared to pay for that coffee. Expecting to. I don't think he'd like it if I came in, and promised to pay, oh, like the middle of next month, maybe, when I'm expecting some money, instead of at the point-of-sale.

Or am I being unreasonable?

Fast ride
Allegedly, the cops clocked this guy on a motorcycle, and the speeder was doing a purported 205 miles an hour.

Clocked at 205? According to some, it's true. 205 MPH? For real?

Fastest I can claim, legitimately, on a motorcycle, was "pegging" the speedometer (140 MPH) on a lonely stretch of highway that's now interstate, many years ago. More realistically, that claim should be tempered with the notation that the speedometer on that model was wildly hopeful, at speeds greater than 100 MPH.

I do remember sitting down in a lonely, cold-water flat, one evening, and working out the measured circumference of the back tire on the little race bike, the various gear ratios, allowing for 7% of slippage and coming up with a raw number of 145 MPH. On a racetrack, the old Texas World Speedway, up on the high bank, the tachometer indicating 8,000 RPM with translated to that 140 or so. But that was a small frame on a real racetrack.

Today's the Feast Day of St. Bernardo of Felthe. Patron saint of pawnbrokers, insurance salesmen and bankers.

Work problems?
Imagine if my boss censored what I had to say about her?

Unrelated inbound:
Round a-bout, 9/27/04 3:06 AM, ya'll said:

> hey, that little fish might not have bit you if had
> bought it dinner before you tried to kiss it. Same rule applies to women,
> generally.


This one tried to bite me, dusk, another "proof of concept" fish (4-inch Watermelon Tiki Stick under a medium Launcher) - and seeing as how it kept the worm? I think that qualifies as dinner.

Still biting.
Notations and such.
While reading, I found passage by Alec Guinness, or Sir Alec, about advice he got from Edith Evans, I'm thinking, it was right around the 1938-48 time, in his book, Blessings in Disguise:

"You're trying too hard. You don't know how you got it in the first place. But it is natural to you, one day you'll find it again. Take it lightly. Forget about it. But when it comes back make a note of what you were feeling inside." (page 158)

It's advice from a seasoned professional to young, at the time, bit-player. But Alec obviously had talent and drive, and what Edith said to him rang so true, not just for acting, but for any number of creative endeavors. He does go on to claim that this was advice he valued and paid attention to.

Use the force, Luke.

Some days you're the bug
And some days, you're riding with the king. Straight up fact, and I have a witness, I, personally, caught 19 Large Mouth Bass on Saturday. The size ranged from small to medium to large. I suppose, that large might be a relative term, though, as I've caught larger fish right out my back door.

But what great fun it was. I took my buddy's advice, and on one pole, I tied on a tiny Launcher and a little spoon, just like I was told to do. "Yeah, we caught 30 or 40 fish last week, using that." Not that I won't believe everything I hear, but I do know that some folks are given to a tad bit of hyperbole.

We started one place, could see fish but couldn't get their attention, so we moved on over to another spot, and finally, back up in a cove, and I was using that Launcher thing, and I got the first tiny fish of the day. He - or she - can't tell at 3 inches - was as cute as could be. Feisty little thing, fought me all the way in, and something I'd never realized before the juvenile bass have sharper "teeth" that their big brothers and sisters. First blood of the day.

We floated around, and kept getting little hits, but nothing of merit. Caught a total of three in that one spot. Might've been four, but those tiny fish, do they really count? Sure. A Large Mouth Bass is a Large Mouth Bass, even if the littlest one was only about three or four inches long. Still counts. And even the little ones, they still fight. Cute little buggers, too. I tried to kiss the first one. It got so upset, it bit my thumb and tried to wriggle away. Kids, huh?

I'd worried a little about the impact of Ivan on local weather patterns, and I'd expressed concern about rain, but I'd also hoped that the rain wouldn't move in until it was scheduled to do so, in the afternoon. We were on the lake before sunup, but we didn't hit that sweet spot along the dam until almost ten so it was more like one when we finally rolled back towards town. About the same time the rain was beginning, in earnest. Or the drizzle. We did pull on rain suits, but no sooner do we don rain suits than the rain stops.

That was about the time I pulled in the biggest catch of the day, that medium-sized one. Not really a huge fish, but on light tackle? And compared to the tiny and small fish before it? About right. For that lake, actually, it was a pretty decent fish. Here's its' story, see, throwing downwind, I could get a good cast on, sail that tiny lure through the air. Reeling it back in, I felt another little tickle, but as soon as I tried to reel faster, the first little one shook the hook. I kept cranking, though, figuring it was time to throw again, and that big one hit. Big fish. Lots of fight. Back swimming again, wondering what happened.

"I sure am glad you not into Chinese," my partner explained, as we headed towards BBQ.

"But I am, I mean, I like it fine sometimes," I replied.

"Yeah, but today? What would you rather have?"

Delicious, properly slow-smoked pork ribs and brisket.

Reminds me of speech by Ulysses in Shakespeare's Troilus & Cressida, something about how there is order and place with the planets, the this is reflected on earth, and how there is a time and place for everything. (Act I, scene iii)

19 fish. Day-hum. That was some fun. My "bassin' thumb," left hand, is all tore up from the puncture of tiny, needle-like fish teeth. In fact, I think even the smallest fish of the day? Its large mouth could easily fit around my thumb.

(photo credit: Pat Drake of Drake's Guide Service)

Gone fishing
I'm off to the lake this fine AM, as long as the weather holds.

Midnight thoughts.
It happens a little after midnight, usually, strange thoughts that don't fit anywhere.

Completely unrelated to anything, there was a stray thought. Had to do with flags. Personally? One of my favorite flags is the "Gonzales Come and Get It" flag. Unofficial start of the Texas War of Independence, Oct. 1835. Gonzales, Tejas, oddly enough.

But for a display? I was thinking, what would be right? A Lone Star front and center. Then, off to the left, underneath it, in a line, a US flag, a Mexican flag, and the Rebel flag. Just a visual image to pay homage to the way I see roots. Those who don't know the past are doomed to repeat it.

It's been a good six or seven years since I've worked for a 900 line. The psychic sewers, as it were. One company that I worked for stressed certain issues, if there was physical violence, tell the caller to dial 911. "Phone friends" are not social work caseworkers. In my own worldview - at this time - I see my work as filling a niche between a licensed mental health worker (therapist, psychologist, &c.) and a minister (priest, rabbi &c.)

All I do is work with personalities and the influence of planets on particular segments of populations. But I'm not used to doing charts for cities or state, or countries. Although, for what its worth, Austin is a Capricorn town. Not that matters.

The way of working with personalities? Looking at individuals? That definitely affects the way I see the world. While someone might be a (insert sign here), that person will reflect some characteristics of certain planet influences. Varies with individuals, too. Back to thinking about the "psychic sewers" and the other types of behavior I see, or more often, I hear about? The observation I've carried with me for many years has to do with the current population in a foreign country, I've been lathe to talk about the war because it's bothersome. I've got friends on both side of the question, for and against.

I'm sticking pretty firmly to the middle ground, pretending to be balanced and allow both sides to voice their opinions. What I was looking at, though, goes back to a standard joke amongst me and several of my friends who worked the psychic sewers years ago.

The comment was a familiar complaint from people in our line of work, the phone call we all hated, usually included a line like, "But I love him when he's not hitting me."

It's the nasty side of my business. One I'm not prepared to deal with. I can answer the astrology questions, but common sense dictates that domestic violence means it is time to leave. And not go back. Which is too often the case.

What's Iraq got to do with domestic abuse? Maybe nothing. Or maybe there's a similarity. Too often, look, I wrote a book about signs and romance, so I deal with the question a lot. It's part of my business. What used to bother me was watching clientele repeatedly pick the same type of personality. So it's the same dynamic in a relationship, even though the bodies are different.

Always going for an abusive partner, unwilling to break the chain. Karma, past life, upbringing, or, in some cases, the stars? Yeah, whatever. Going for the same type of person, abusive person, more than once qualifies as a trend. One that can be broken, if the person is willing to face to obvious.

Don't get all high and mighty, either. It's not like this isn't some aspect of humanity that we all haven't seen before.

So the population of Iraq, there are whole generations of citizens, who have lived under one totalitarian dictator, an abusive ruler, for years and years. Give them a dose a freedom? What are the chances that they will pick the next leader who is equally abusive? Perhaps a nicer haircut, a little more smooth at on the first date, but isn't there a chance that the folks who've lived in oppression, don't know how to handle it?

I just can't imagine a Baptist - or Church of Christ - or a Catholic - bowing themselves up in my doorway because I don't worship their way.

When I ran a nightclub in Dallas, I had a doorman who was born and raised in the Middle East. In a war zone. Tall, good-looking (judging from the female comments) guy. Wiry, really strong, and handy for controlling crowds. From various reports, though, he was raised, quite literally, in a war zone. Besides some skewed attitudes, at the time, written off as the times, I got thinking about a rumor from one of his girlfriends about his violent tendencies. So being raised in that environment probably affected the way he saw the world.

Happy Libra
The story behind the story?

I was fishing yesterday morning, and I was writing, and fishing some more and writing some more. Plus there were phone calls to attend to, schedule a reading and such work-related material. I've neglected some business of some kind, and for the life of me, I can't remember what it was I supposed to do. Insurance? The fishing has been so much fun lately, I got a little carried away. Big fish, little fish, tiny fish, I mean I laughed at that little sunfish. He was so cute, spreading his dorsal fin with its spikes, threatening me while he hung from my hook. Bass ain't the only ones with attitudes. Works for me.

Scott e-mailed a question about a fishing set-up, and I was fooling around with answers. He was looking for a "microlight" baitcast outfit, something much like a micro spinning outfit, only with a baitcast reel.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik 1500 Spincast Reel and Rod Combo - $29.99
Shakespeare Ugly Stik 1500 Spincast Reel and Rod Combo - $29.99

What I came up with:

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Trigger Rod - 6 M - $27.95
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Trigger Rod - 6 M - $27.95

Actually, a 5-foot model would be better.

Then add a cheap Bass Pro branded reel, I think these babies were on sale for about $20-$25.

Bass Pro Shops MegaCast Low-Profile Baitcast Reel - 85 oz - $24.88
Bass Pro Shops MegaCast Low-Profile Baitcast Reel - 85 oz - $24.88

Just an exercise. What I've found is that the really cool, expensive and certainly lightweight fishing rods are better, but if it's something that is really in my hand, being levered back and forth, all morning and afternoon? I'm tending toward the mid-range, or even the "Wal-Mart" Shakespeare poles now. Much harder to break, and let's be honest, I have to spend a fair amount of time pulling hooks out of trees, snags, rocks, overhead branches, submerged vegetation. It's not pretty. I've snapped two pole clean in half on snags.

Photo essay
Just a day's worth of oddities.

Church playground, better disclaimers than my own.

And no taunting the fish. Although that seems to work, some days.

It's trite, but someone forget to tell the fish.

Little catch before noon. (photo for Scott)

An even smaller fish. Pretty little sunfish, back in the lake.

A snake in the tree. Not going to be fishing there after dark.

Alec Guinness &c.
I suppose, it's only right, what with the release of the box set, Alec Guinness's name gets some bandwidth.

Which has almost nothing to do with Alec Guinness's autobiography, Blessings in Disguise. There's a post-it note from my own, dear, wee (Scorpio) mum, suggesting that I might like the book. I think I've had this on hand for almost year, and it's languished in the "in" stack for a while.

It's a little bit shambling, for lack of better word, because it tends to meander a bit, following a series or sequences, back and forth through time. I've lifted some choice parts, and I was thrilled to read that Richard II was a popular play, in Sir Alec's time. Of course, what he's best known for? I seem to recall an article about Sir Alec, and how he rued the day he agreed to be Obi-Wan.

But the book, his memoir? Autobiography? Pretty much fun, and illustrative. Poignant, even, as he covers the "war" years. World War Two. Bombs dropping on Britain.

About a third of the way through with it, part of what I just finished reading involves his gradual turning to Catholicism.

I suppose, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Sir Alec was Aries with a Gemini Moon. Any way it's cut up, so far, he is excellent writer. Apparently, he's done two other books along the same lines, but the reviews aren't as nice, although, considering his stature, quite polite. I was just thrilled that a seemingly simple text could open up the inner workings of an actor's mind.

In other news:
The "man wrap" is back? Perhaps I should wear one fishing this weekend. Then again, it's a long walk home.

I stopped to chat with a guy, while I was on the trail, as he had a line in the water, a little tub of artificial baits, and I asked what he was fishing with yesterday morning. "Pepperoni. It's what was left over from lunch." We talked fishing, I bragged about that big one, and we swapped a few pointers. He then let one as how there was secret place to fish that was better, on a certain area lake, and looks like I'll give it a try this weekend.

And even more unrelated:
It was a lesson in customer service. My sweet Pisces friend was a little frazzled, and while she couldn't put her finger on it, a refreshing meal - comfort food - was in order. So first I bought some artificial bait then we had some live bait at that little sushi place way down S. First. D.K. Sushi, or Seoul Sushi or something. After the meal, DK came over to thank us. A lesson in customer service. It's his place, he's the main sushi chef, and he's the star of the "sushi cam" which is nothing more than a little live-feed displayed on the TV set. Watched our dinner being sliced and diced. Mexican Roll, and Caterpillars rolls, and surf clam, and lots of wasabi. And some other items, I don't recall. Rice, raw fish, all works with a little Green Tea. The "dessert" he sent over was some kind of leaf, red snapper, and an artistic squirt of some red sauce. Never had dessert sushi before.

Fish Tales
A little live bait, a little artificial bait, and a kind Libra neighbor to take the picture. "Man, that was what? Like about three minutes? Didn't take you long to catch a fish! Look at the jaws on that thing!"
It's a girl bass.
(Don't know who was more surprised, her or me.)

Two-meat Tuesday, part one.
Explaining BBQ to the world?

Fish news:
New day/New fish.
Unrelated (but worthy of note):
A short entry about the bastion of publications in Texas.

Unrelated Shakespeare quote:
I was working on an upcoming scope. A November scope. I pulled a quote that echoed the current times.

"The heresies that men do leave
Are hated most of those they did deceive."
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (II.ii.138-9)

Yes, it'll be at the top of some future horoscope, but I liked it as a touchstone for today.

In the news:
> Liberal arts graduates, as a whole, still occupy the lower rungs of the pay
> scale, but are now earning $30,212, a 3.7 percent year-over-year increase.
> Starting pay for English majors rose to $31,113, up 8.1 percent; political
> science majors got a 3.6 percent increase to $32,296. Psychology majors
> enjoyed a 2 percent increase with entry-level salaries averaging $28,230.

Isn't it bad enough that CBS bought a pack of lies and published it? Now this, from a supposedly a reputable source. Lies, all lies. Us English majors don't make anything close that kind of money. I remember getting the degree, and I recall, the harsh reality of it, months later, when I was forced to work for a living. The horror of it all. And no, this gig doesn't pay anything near that.

Walking notes:
Did a killer 8-miler, plus a dip in the cold creek - Barton Creek - plus back and forth across the pedestrian bridge several times, which, all told, probably added up to a lot more than 8 miles, but some facts I tend not to stretch.

I kept worrying about the clouds. When I hit the 7-mile marker, the most eastern portion of the trail (Pleasant Valley), I was really looking forward to a dip in the creek, and I was marking where the fishes were. In my mind, I was cackling to myself, "I'll get you my pretties!" Already had filled the quota for the day, but still.

I noticed that a line of clouds, dark clouds, or clouds with dark underbellies, was creeping up from the direction of Houston. I was wondering if I would get rained on, throughout the afternoon's trek. Made it to the creek. Made it to BBQ. Made it to a coffee (Leo & Taurus) place for an afternoon libation. Scooped up the mail. Got within 100 meters of home when the sky drizzled a bit.

Then, after a moment's thought, right after the rain failed to really rain, I grabbed a pole, and hooked it down to the waterline. Beginning casts were in the wrong direction, but one landed where it was supposed to, and I got some interest. Then, next cast, got a big fish. In the dusk, it was too dark for picture, so she's back with her brethren, happy with a slightly sore jaw. Damn big fish, too. I look forward to seeing that one again.

The Leo barista, downtown, asked me about astrology, like, "Is everyone the same, only 12 kinds of people?" I don't have facile answers. The Taurus, flipping this over to another sign and another barista, was studying psychology, and she was curious about why I asked her birthday.

"You know, some people blame their parents, me? I can blame the stars, but after all, I am a professional."

What's worse, I've got an early reading Wednesday morning, and I'm wondering, "Who scheduled this thing at 9 AM?"

Oh, that's right, I did.

Surf's up.

Monday morning
The sound was the roadies, taking apart the ACL Fest stage, knocking it down, cleaning and packing, or so I'll assume. Elsewhere?

On the astrological front?
Last week was Sagittarius, more or less, all day, every day. Monday morning? Red-headed Capricorn(s) - several. Lots. Including a new web site?

Unrelated (and no photo):
One cute, little bass who jumped out of my grip and rolled around it the gravel before I had a chance to get her picture. Just tossed her back. I mean, who wants a picture of a bass covered in pea gravel? The postal person was watching, "You fish every day?" Sure. When I can.

Unrelated Books:
I was just finishing up reading Teeth of the Tiger, One point in the novel's plot worried me, the outcome itself, it was a little predictable, the good guys win. The final scenario is little more than something I could see happening, but then, that could just be me. I was surprised that there were no sex scene for the main characters, but at least one of the subsidiary characters, a bad guy, the "cyber-sex" scene fell right in line with what little I know about that subject. Earlier, I'd had a hard time digesting Dress your family in corduroy, but I picked it up to follow that Clancy novel. Very different worlds, but the juxtaposition was enough that I could find much humor in the Sedaris collection.

Unrelated, inbound mail:
Round a-bout, 9/19/04 10:52 PM, ya'll "said:
> hello,
> i just wanted to let you know i used to read my horoscope religiously. then
> when i noticed all the more negative forecast actually manifesting and nothing
> from the positive aspect of the forecast i said forget it IM done reading
> them. so lately every so often i read my horoscope, just to see "whats up" .
> now im a Capricorn and this is the first time in a long, long time that
> horoscope was correct, and just let your friend know I totally the same way as
> stated in a the horoscope. its so uncanny and im glad im not alone in feeling
> that way. thanks!

As a final thought:
I wore no shirt & no shoes all day. Never went further than the dock, either, for a little fishing. And for some reason, it all felt good. Managed to whip up a web site, talked to clients - some overseas - and turn a decent buck. I did miss out on a long walk, but that would've necessitated footwear, and I never made it that far. I'd call it a successful day. No shoes, no shirt, and some fish? Damn near perfect.

Surf and Turf
"Cause I got cat class and I got cat style" (Stray Cats)

Saturday night, we pointed the little car south towards Lockhart, home to much fine BBQ. Went to the legendary Kruez's, got in just under the wore (they close at 6:30 PM on Saturday). A couple of slabs of Prime Rib, and I wrapped up the last part of one for the cat. Yeah, my cat eats well. Should be quite noticeable from her obvious girth.

So Sunday morning, in order to appease the cat, I sliced off a little of that well-done beef, and added it to her tuna. Cat gets surf and turf.

Saturday morning
Pretty little girl. Fell for that old plastic worm trick. Again.

She's grown some since I last caught her. Lip's healed.

I was chatting with the folks, my parental units, via my cell's speaker, and I was dragging a little worm through the water. I watched as I saw something shadow the bait, I paused, and then I pulled her on up.

"Hey, I've got to call you back, I just caught a fish."

Then I was talking to the little fish, "You. Hold. Still. Don't bite me! I'm trying to get that hook out of you lip." Then I had a few cross words with Miss Bass.

Picture, unhook her, and let her free, "There, grow up some, we'll tangle again."

She took off with a quick flip, gone from the dock at Shady Acres.

Got another one, same kind of worm, later in the day. Life is good. Fish are biting. In fact, fish are biting back. Funny thing, that fish I caught, while I was talking to a client, the second fish? Because I was juggling a feisty bass, a phone, fishing rod, and trying to get a picture? Fish jumped back in the water before I could dig the hook out of him. Now, that's twice, with that one client. I'm sure I'm bringing her the same kind of luck.

"Stop wishing, go fishing."

Only good for a week:
This link is Sister on the cover of the SFWeekly. Here's the rest of the inside story.

I forwarded the link to the cover to half-dozen different people, and one response was something along the lines of, "So talented, two children that are so talented."

I'm not so sure, even by Austin standards, I tend to regard us slightly off-center. Weird. Could be me, though. At least Sister is on the cover, that's worth about a week of fame, more than 15 minutes.

Things I like to read:
Round a-bout, 9/17/04 10:48 AM, ya'll said:
> I’m here 3 weeks and the offer letter comes. YOU ARE SO THE MAN!
> You said they would hire him in August and you ARE SO RIGHT!

A missing point from that memo? The unedited version? Had something to do with security.

Shout out to TFG for pointing me to this:
What's odd, it's a Dallas news source. As if they know anything about redneck. Anyway, the article's about bass fishing. Halfway through the second page (second screen, really), there was a quote about the fight of pound and half bass. I'll go one better. I had a minnow attacking a worm Friday morning. The damn fish wasn't as big as the worm! That's fish with attitude. Then, there was also the bit about having a swimming pool built and only using it for casting practice. Cool.

I took a break from the computer and wandered over to the shoreline, not much more than ten meters away, and I flipped a "pumpkin seed fluke" into the water. There's one particular fish, and I'm sure I've caught him (her) a time or two. I'll swear, up and down, that the fish looked at me, I mean, he gave me a sideways look, and then took off for deeper water. That was after he'd been feeding right along the shoreline.

Unrelated around Austin:
Austin City Limits Music Festival got started on Friday. Since there were no free tickets for me? No backstage passes? No perks? Nothing? I'll avoid it. Tourist tip: drink lots of water. Bottled water. Half pint costs about $9 per bottle. Drink up; it's hot out there. The most eastern stage backs up to Barton Creek. Don't even think about spooking my fish.

"Yeah, Kramer would be really cute, if he'd get a haircut."

As if.

Three-meat Thursday?
Or, to be more precise, corny dogs. For breakfast. At least, I mean, at the very least, I had the foresight and vision to heat the thing up before I ate it. Plus odd numbers and entertainment.

Part the First:
I don't suppose that a "ball park frank" wrapped in some kind of corn meal, is really bad for breakfast, but I was hungry, and that's all that was in the ice box's freezer. So it was either that or cat food, all there is around here. Or some catfish bait in the ice box, got that, too.

Part the Second:
I was plunging ahead, after too much coffee the other evening, with getting the template and cover art together for the December companion release of the 2004 collection of columns. Just an odd fact, with all the weekly columns to-date? 105,000 words. That's up to and including this week. Even with its typo.

Part the Third:
Kevin Fowler, local boy. Singer, songwriter, rocker, redneck, country music singer these days. My favorite is still "Beer Bait & Ammo" - for real. New release, I guess.

Dinner at Hill's Café. With two Sagittarius girls. I live an exciting life, especially for a monk. I'd been hankering, ever since Paris, to compare Hill's steaks to what I had in Paris. I had vague recollections about a sizzling platter of steak, artful prepared. So we wandered into the restaurant, had a seat, and ordered up the small steak for me.

Perhaps I was hungry. Perhaps I'm rather colloquial. Or provincial. Maybe I'm not a good judge of cuisine; although, I'd like to think that there are certain culinary arts that I am prepared to be a good judge of, like seared cow. I'd been working on a theory, based on my last trip overseas, that the French used a better cut of meat, hence a better quality of meal, and therefore, the higher price is easily justified. After all, they did invent French Fries (Pommes Frites).

Theory and application? In the real world? Like at Hill's? Didn't work. It was just an excellent selection of beef, crisp on the outside, warm but certainly underdone on the inside.

"I was going to ask for a bite, but it was all gone."

Perhaps Paris and South Austin are apples and oranges, and perchance it's just not valid comparison, but the meat was better, the taste was better, and the price was less than a third of what it was in France. Plus I never saw Ranch Dressing in France.

As we got up to leave, a nearby patron offered us his wristbands for the show. Great, the one time I get a decent guest list spot, and some person offers us a free ticket. Didn't much matter, other than we were able to beat the line.

The show itself? The crowd itself was a show. I copied down some of the T-shirt slogans, just to understand a little bit better: "Nashville Sucks," "American by birth, rebel by choice," and my favorite, "The more you drink the better we sound."

It's not much more than rowdy roadhouse, brawling & drinking music. One of the latest songs?
"I ain't drinking any more (and I ain't drinking any less)." Plus, as a nod to Saint Willie Nelson, "Don't touch my Willie." The night wore on, and towards the end, there was a Charlie Daniels Band cover song, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." That's a fiddler's song, if it's done right. Amazing, the crowd sang along with almost all of the song.

That CDB song had me thinking about genre, cross-pollination, and the state of music these days. When I first heard it, it was on "outlaw" radio, Texas Radio & the Big Beat. (That last title is yet another Sagittarius reference.)

I'd forgotten that Kevin Fowler puts on a good show, provided one likes their music a little less polished and little more fun, a little less politically correct, and little more raw.

Spell check & more

Not my version, "quanity," which, to me, sounds perfectly correct. Just one of the anomalies I try to deal with, more - or less - effectively when I'm wending my way through a horoscope file, trying to make sure that the words are right and the cadence works properly.

Round a-bout, 9/15/04 10:15 AM, ya'll said:
> You know, there should be a law against posting succulent descriptions
> of ribs that make one want to run right out and get some NOW.

Astrological, but still unrelated:
Three, four, even five charts in the last 48 hours, five different birthdays, from a wide background, but the common point in all of them? 5 degrees of Libra. Same answer, too: third full week in October. Now, what was the question?

In the news:
Beer is as good as wine for those free radicals?

And in the meantime:
Off to an Austin Blogger social. I figure, by now, the horrendous stereotype of a computer person being a socially awkward geek should be done with. As one local piece of advertising suggests, "The Geek shall inherit the earth." It was lively, and surprisingly intellectual, excepting me, of course. Most interesting new site to me? Taurus.

I was wearing a G. Loomis ball cap. Pretty cool logo, perfect attire for the evening. While I was in line at Bouldin Caffeine Dealer, a guy looks up at the cap, and says, "Yeah, good fishing rods." I mention that I would amenable to being sponsored by them. He suggests he'll pass my business card along to someone who knows someone. Or something like that.

G-Loomis IMX Series Spinning Rod - Model HSR9000S - 76 XFML - $255.00

G-Loomis GLX Trigger Rod - 76 H - $475.00

How about reels to match those fishing rods?

Shimano Stella Spinning Reel - STL1000FA - $489.99

Shimano Calcutta TE CTE201DC Baitcast Reel - $499.99

And finally....
As a last lament, just once, I'd love for the horoscopes to roll over without one last, little typo creeping in. Only a hundred and thirty hits - or so - had a chance to see it before I caught the error.

It's not the quantity of the errors, it's the quality of the errors?

Two-Meat Tuesday
Two part harmony?

I'm particularly upset with one of my buddies. He's a normal enough guy, knows a lot about fishing, handles himself with a certain quiet charm around the ladies, acts in a responsible manner, and so on.

Just a typical Texan. No big deal, just a guy you'd like to have on your side in a fight, in as much as he would spend a lot of time trying to avoid the situation. Normally, a rather politic gentleman.

The problem?

He got me hooked with one Clancy novel. He just let me borrow his pristine, first-edition hardback version of one novel, and about halfway through the book, I was busy looking for its paperback version, not because I wanted the novel, but the 1,000 page hardback was too unwieldy to balance on my chest when I was supine on the futon, reading. And weighing more than a laptop? No way I was toting that chunk of printed material around when traveling.

I went through a couple of the other Clancy novels, then I abandoned the quest because it really wasn't fiction I was terribly interested in; although, the plot, the action, the background demonstrates a degree of scholarship that I do admire. I mean, a ripping good yarn is a ripping good yarn, even if it an FAA-mandated text.

Not long ago, I picked up Teeth of the Tiger, more because it was on sale, and I can justify it as "airport reading." Yeah, so?

We all have a few guilty pleasures.

Pork ribs?
I've gotten quite spoiled about BBQ. There are a few places close at hand wherein the food is good. Actually, quite good. Even the ubiquitous "chain stores" offer rather good BBQ (like Rudy's). The place I prefer, the Tuesday namesake? It's not like the BBQ is that good, but it's certainly not bad. "Certainly not bad," damn with faint praise. Yeah, whatever.

Sagittarius kind of day, couple of them, stacked up, back-to-back. Makes my day.

What interested me, a couple of weeks ago, I'd written about how things were a little off-center in Sagittarius. Not bad, just a little out of whack. There are those, I suppose, who will suggest I apparently live life a little out of whack, but that's not the issue.

That one BBQ place, the way it works on a Two-Meat day, usually the pork ribs or the brisket will be amazing, the finest artwork of the kitchen god's efforts. Or the grill master. Or whatever, whomever, is in charge of making the meal so tasty. Add a saucy waitress who will invariably sass that weird astrology guy? Makes it perfect.

It is, quite often, the pork ribs. I believe it's the rub used on the meat before the ribs are smoked for 18 hours. There's a hint of brown sugar, and touch of cayenne. Not too much of either, but a wonderful combination. Then, when the ribs are really right, which they frequently are, there's, like, a little crust on the surface of the meat. A hardened glaze, and the first millimeter or so, it has the consistency of jerked beef. Not all the way through, not when those ribs are right. Can't always be this good, and I have very manageable expectations about the food. The place is popular because it's local. Not because the food is always great. Dependably good, just not always stellar. Doesn’t much matter, free WiFi? Cold ice tea? Live bait for sale next door?

So with the Sagittarius onslaught, I'm finding that the prediction was rather good. The big planet shifts in Virgo brings about tension in Sagittarius. Which isn't all bad. On any given Tuesday, the food will be good. Which one? Ribs or brisket?

Up to speed on the web
No sooner do I write about this, when, much to my chagrin, an error will be located, and I'll be flamed for making an erroneous comment. Fortunately, most of astrology is conjecture drawn upon facts. Where the planets are? Fact. What it means? Conjecture (intuition & observation, I'd like to think).

The Monday morning "Blog Index" was full of comments about how fast the news about the purported forgeries allegedly aired on some TV news program, and how fast the notice of the inconsistencies spread. 4 hours, I think was how long it took for the "internet" crowd to seize an idea and poke holes in the theories.

It's been ten years now that I've had horoscopes on the web. That's a whole decade of electronic publishing. That's some miles.

As a publishing medium, I love the web as it's a very fluid. Doing a regular column is nice, and although I've enjoyed time in print, the fluidity of the web is more suited to my style. Suppose a faulty statement creeps into the column, like assigning a wrong phase to the moon, or missing a planet's relative astrological location? Type it over, upload, and the error is corrected.

Due to technical difficulties, I've had a couple of system failures when the scopes didn't roll over on time. In less than ten minutes, I would have several notes, alerting me to the oversight. My favorite was always, "Dammit, where's my free horoscope? I need it now!"

What interested me about the speed that news of the inconsistencies spread, the route, the place where the information spread?

That's like my scopes, when they don't show up on time. Or when a false statement is entered. Or when some obvious fact escapes the fact-checking department? Ten minutes, max, usually the first of the notes are time-stamped within two or three minutes of the posting time & date.

It's the speed that the information moves.

There was a coherent thought in this seemingly pointless wandering. I was going someplace with it. Experience? Sure, I've been caught short with facts and figures before.

Besides raising me, my dear, sweet, much put-upon Scorpio mother (aka "Ma" Wetzel) is most noted for her little quip one time, "Oh, I never let the facts interfere with a story."

Teenage mutant Town Lake turtle
Just another image from the file. Note: that's 6-inch worm he was trying to eat. It's not a small turtle.

(I just let him keep the hook. Those jaws scared me, gaping maws capable of hundreds of foot-pounds per square inch, I'm sure.)

I wonder if that news program was listening to her?

Just a Tuesday photo
From the Two-Meat plate files:

New Moon.
Dark of the moon. In Leo. I was trying to assuage the bookstore owner's feelings, worried that business was a little slow. Especially for a "vesting astrologist."

See, the Sun's in Virgo, which means, as long as the Moon's in Leo, the sign that comes before Virgo, it's the last phase of the littlest moon slimming down to the point where the moon is dark.

Then, in a few days, along comes a new moon, and the whole cycle starts all over. But in the meantime, there's a little bit of a fog, not really fog, but an air, and not really an air, but a something.

"Think it has anything to do with the date?"

Well, that's not helping, either. I'm sure, in a military town like San Antonio, the date had something to do with increased awareness.

It's a long ride, for me, up and down the freeway. I'd like to start doing this on the train, as it looks like I'll be coming back to the Alamo City soon enough.

Must admit, I'm looking forward to it. Austin is a laid-back town. San Antonio is a laid-back town. Different, but refreshingly familiar.

SA by morning.
Something about San Antonio & girls with guns. Firearms, to be precise.

"Oh no, I don't shoot the varmints, I let the hunters do that - I just work there."

"So, dude, do you teach classes?"

"Why, yes, yes I do."

"Where you from?"

"I'm from up north?"


"Yeah, Austin."

Best sign?

"Astrofish - vesting astrologist from Austin."

Nice to know I'm vested. As an astrologer.

Wandering around on the river walk, in San Antonio, finally, yes, it always happen, "Kramer! Hi there!"

Dogs of war
Enough about that, I'm off to San Antonio's "Dancing Moon" for work.

I got up early Friday morning, not much happening, and after toying with the computer for a spell, I lay back down. Woke up again, like a new day, with the stiffest neck in the world. Not that painful, but not moving left and right, like it's supposed to.

Tried swimming, tried walking, tried shopping, none of the usual efforts provided much relief. Where oh where are those massage therapists when I need one?

So I'm in a small rent car, all the way to San Antonio. And back again. Sort of like a commuting hell weekend. But the promise of San Antonio is always good.

Quick trip
Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Reckless Kelly at Gordo's, in San Marcos, home of SWT (now Texas State something-something) dot dot dot

Road trip. Valentino's Pizza (Bacon, Tomato and Ranch Dressing). And music. Loud music. Good music, nonetheless. I'd make more sense of a review, but I've got to get some sleep. I did gather some pretty useful and amusing material, though. Plus the band? They deserve every bit of their cult-like status, that's for sure.

I hate gimmicks. But I've been playing with, toying with an idea, a simple idea, a fishing lure imprinted with the company logo, the URL, and maybe the phone number. It's an idea, so far. I've got two bids on lures so far.

Lures aren't the only idea, and a commercial concern contacted me advertising on the site. Looks like I'll get banner ads that actually pay on views as opposed to ads that just pay on acquisition. (Like Amazon & Bass Pro "affiliate" programs, now running.) The company tried to get me to put up pop-under ads, too, but I wasn't willing to sell that. But banner space? Based on views? Sure, that works.

The problem? The inserted code will increase the page weight. Bummer.

Something witty should be inserted here.

Breaking the rules is always important. But looking at website numbers, performing a statistical analysis, and finding some useful guidelines, then trying to see if that works? Even better.

If something's broken, let me know!

Otherwise, just a little clean up around here, some backend tweaking, just a minor oil change and tune up, replaced a worn out belt, checked the tension on the timing chain. Yes, the website does have a timing chain, although, more modern websites would use a timing belt made out of some kind of super-duper plastic-nylon-rubber compound. Be nice if I could get a desmodromic drive for this place, but we make due with what we can.

Raw numbers: front page weighs less than 10 kb, 9 kb to be precise, and the pay page is a mere 6 kb. Load times at a purported 28K modem? 4 seconds and 3 seconds. Just under the wire over the wire.

Sustained metaphor
Some months ago, I took a look at an upcoming scope and I hit upon - what I thought - was an ideal sustained metaphor. A theme that could run all the way through the scopes, for a whole 12 signs? I've tried it before, and I do this for my own amusement. Is it going to work? Gets a little repetitive, after a while.

I don't think I pulled this one off, but I did get the column finished in a timely and workmanlike manner. The ultimate test? When it goes live, one day in the future. Either folks will love or they'll hate it. It was an amusing attempt. I thought the idea was brilliant - until I tried.

I don't think I pulled this one off, but I did get the column finished in a timely and workmanlike manner. The ultimate test? When it goes live, one day in the future. Either folks will love or they'll hate it. It was an amusing attempt. I thought the idea was brilliant - until I tried.

I was pulling a four-inch Margarita (chartreuse) curly-tail grub on a 3/8 ounce weedless jighead through the water, more to watch its action than to really catch a fish. In the lake's clear water, I was admiring the way the tail fluttered. A tiny, itty-bitty black bass attacked it. Twice. Violently. As violent as a three-inch fish can - he was so tiny, he couldn't get his large mouth around the tail, much less up to the hook. But he did try! Love that, fish with attitude: "Looks good, I'll eat it. Even if it is bigger than me."

""It's my one night free, Virgo dearest, your call."

I tricked my buddy into calling me back, suggesting, since I hadn't seen her car in Shady Acres for the last few days, maybe she'd been abducted by space aliens. She called right back, assuring me she hadn't been abducted, and she blew off her previous engagement to dine with me. But between the call on her ride home and me arriving at the front door of her trailer, there was a little Mercury Mayhem.

"I knew I was getting cocky," she said, "thinking I got out of that Mercury Retrograde with no scratches. But when I went to the mail box today? After work? After I talked to you? Nothing but NSF notices. Then I thought someone hijacked my bank account. After 20 minutes on hold, I got it figured out, the State didn't do my direct deposit."

Curra's for some dinner, just the nicest Sagittarius waitress, sure do love them Sagittarius girls, and a couple of pint-sized "Horni Presidente" margaritas? Did the trick, at least calmed that Virgo down. Tequila, (something) "Presidente" brand Tequila?

"Tequila soothes the chapped mind," I said.

"So I kept assuring the bank rep, the State of Texas hadn't gone out of business, and I hadn't been fired," she said.

Late in the evening, I had to promise to take her boyfriend fishing, while I fished and she chatted with said boyfriend on her phone. She was chatting via the phone, he wasn't like, on the phone. I don't know, he was talking into his phone, I'll assume.

Couple of nibbles on the fishing line, but nothing on the hook. Might've been that one little guy again.

Two-Meat Tuesday
Today is the feast day of St. Adrian, the patron saint of butchers, and by extension, the patron of two-meat platters everywhere. Funny thing happened at the BBQ place, but wait, I'll save that for a scope.

Vote or not. One great Texan suggested getting out the vote, as in, "Vote early, vote often." Can't say that I'm all in favor of that, but I am in favor of voting. Here's the deal, the guys from "Hot or Not" have a contest/drawing with big cash prizes. Follow the link and register. Then register to vote. Then vote. Can't bitch if you don't vote, and a shot at 100 grand ought to be enticing, although, it's a sad state of affairs when voters have to be enticed.

From the book list:
Swimming to Catalina by Stuart Woods. To me, it's classic "airport reading," a pot boiler mystery-type. A friend's husband recommended it. It's what I would call, "a good paperback." It's much more linear than Clerkenwell Tales, which, to me, seems to be an almost anecdotal tapestry, carefully woven so that the sum of the parts creates a great mystery - and solution. Very different.

I encountered one "leap of faith" that stretched my ability to believe in the main character in Stuart Wood's book, though, the guy (protagonist) was complaining about how he didn't get "closure" (page 117) with his ex-girlfriend. Not realistic for macho, he-man character. But that could be me. Allow me my illusions.

Side dish (fried okra): turning pro.

And as for a salad?

Between naps, on Sunday, properly fortified with coffee, I toyed with the software update to this engine.

Lunch was late on Labor Day, as at least some places were closed, but we wound up at a catfish parlor, and the food was good. Plentiful, fried, and tasty.

Sure felt like a Sunday all day. Ran a few errands, like picking up another bag of worms and looking at some baits. Never can resist a deal, so I had to buy at least one useless lure, but it's so pretty, at least one person got caught on it - me.

Early Monday morning, I was trying a variation-on-a-theme bait, and I watched as four little bucks swam right past it. At least the splash of the weight and the bait didn't spook them, but they weren't interested in anything I had. Way it goes, some days, it's that little shift in the weather, and for a moment, Austin felt like fall was here.

My bad.
I forgot, the best part of the wedding process? The portion of the groom's vows, the part about "I promise to not to upgrade when you're old." Or something like that. I guess you have to be a geek or have been there.

The rest of the weekend? Sleep a lot. Cat loved it. Seems like our nap schedule coincided nicely, by her standards.

Wedding & Fishing
Two-meat platter - Saturday:

Fished like a fool all morning, out at the lake. Had us a grand old time. Caught all of about three fish, but on more than one occasion, the fish would chase up after a bait and then decide it wasn't worth the trouble. Didn't stop it from being a glorious day, though. Top it off with a little BBQ, and life is good.

Even got a little rain, more like a sprinkle, on the way in from the lake.
Attention all watercraft
This entire cove is no wake
I still had a worm on the light line, left over from the lake, and I was killing time before the service, and I pulled this respectable fellow out of the lake - right on front of my place - on my way to the wedding boat.

Which, I suppose, would be a good omen or something.

The boat was full, the wedding party was all there, as much as they could be, and the service, the actual vows, were short and simple, including, "Party on, dude," and "Be excellent." Gratuitous Bill & Ted reference. Plus a few other allusions hidden in the text. Good fun.

I'll have to admit, as the bride came down the aisle, such as it was, escorted by her father, I got teary-eyed. But as I explained later, to the bride's father (Virgo), it was just allergies. Or something.

Gone fishing
Saturday, up and out, off to the lake to catch fish.

Or try to, anyway. Friday morning, as I was worrying through some material, I took a quick spin to the lake's edge, just to see what there was. Lot's a small fish schooling, and a couple of prowling bass, and at one point, I'm pretty sure I saw my old
girlfriend again.

Useless link about marriage licenses.

Rehearsal dinner was nice. There were two groups. One group was from Deep East Texas (groom, Sagittarius) and the other side was from New York, Long Island (bride, Aries). Texas BBQ. Which was too bad for the vegetarians. Yeah, well there was potato salad and some bread. Sweet Tea, all the trimmings.

Oh yeah, the service will be fun. Then I get to fish. Fish - service - fish.

Sex sells?
Here. Or here. Sure. Whatever.


Off to class. I've got to pull together a primer for my version of astrology, it's just that simple. Only, I've got so much swimming around in my head, I don't think I can get it all out.

So Mr. Mercury is no longer backwards, but that doesn't mean that it's not all good, at least, not yet.

The conversation veered off-topic to the nuts-and-bolts of what readers go through.

The deal is, though, what I do, the way I look at a reading, is different from the way I looked at a chart last year. Or the year before, or even, heavens forbid, ten years ago.

One ex-girlfriend once went on and on about being a weather forecaster, as what job cold you be wrong, and still have folks come back again and again?

I still like the weather analogy for astrology, though. It's not about "this and that will definitely happen," it’s more about "there's a chance of rain," or like Florida? There's a high probability that the someplace on the eastern coastline, a hurricane will come ashore. Might have already.

So I'm work shopping some ideas. How it turns out?

I'm not sure.

It was an amusing coincidence, I'm really enjoying the texture of the Clerkenwell Tales because astrology is layered into the text, through the characters. And yes, this stuff has been around that long.


That's not much of an introduction, just a "yee-haw," but that covers a lot of ground. I was meeting with clients - okay, the folks I'm set to marry Saturday night - they're getting married, I'm not, like marrying either one of them - and the "wife to be" is an Aries. That's four Aries in one day. Plus a mighty, mighty Leo.

Near as I could tell, all the Aries were suffering from basic, Mercury-is-still-retrograde problems. Communications. Or lack thereof. In one case, the last one, I was just greatly amused, and I could just see that Aries woman slapping me and the groom, "Would you two grow up for a second?" Poor dear. Stressed with what has to be the second most enjoyable way to get hitched, on boat, in the middle of the lake, at sunset, with bats overhead, and at least one-half of the wedding party suitably intoxicated on alcohol.

Me? I live like a monk.

(I agreed to officiate for two reasons: money and fishing. "Can I bring a fishing pole?")

I offered to slip in a few extra lines on the vows, like, "Dude, she wrote this stuff, she's a lawyer, you're toast."

Plus, in the invocation, there seems to be a little problem, we got your fundamental xtians, then there's the other side, basically heathen, and for the bride herself, we need to invoke the Goddess, plus there's Buddha, Jesus, and, "Hey, don't forget Allah," she said.

I got nothing against the real Muslim Faith (don't confuse it with malefactors & bad imitations), but I was thinking, out loud, that maybe I could just skip that one deity. Don't want to get in religious argument on a wedding night.

Tex-Mex Wednesday. Think that might be a new title? Of course, the only relation between Tex-Mex and Wednesday was the hot sauce. Or maybe something else.

Feast Day if St. Giles
Patron Saint of beggars. Picked this up from fredlet. Funny, to me, how this fits with the upcoming Virgo scope. Back on topic: let me say this about that:

I frequent a lot of coffee houses, for fun and profit. Tipping is an important part of the culture. The history of coffee and by extension, coffee houses, goes back 500 years or so. At various times in history, especially literary history, coffee houses have served as important gathering places. There are a couple of localized versions wherein alcohol and tobacco is available alongside the coffee - I do enjoy my little pleasures.

When I was broke, really broke, the most I could afford was a shot of espresso, What that did was refine my approach to way I tasted the coffee. Plus I learned a lot more about just how much labor goes into a decent cup of coffee.

From recent caffeine research, I found out that espresso was coffee that was intended as "made expressly for you." But what a number of folks don't get? A single shot of espresso can be a very labor-intensive process.

I've used this in a scope already, but I do figure that it bears repeating, the observation about a number of folks lined up, grumbling, that a simple shot of coffee took so long. That "triple-tall-soya-milk-mocha-white-chocolate (with an extra shot) is a labor of love. It can be slammed together in matter of minutes, but it's not as simple as pouring coffee from an urn. If it's coffee from an urn? Might I recommend the stuff at the convenience store, down the street, no tipping required.

Not that tipping is required in any coffee place, it's just a matter of form. And culture. For the last two weeks, I've been in and out of Caffe Dali (Mesa, Westside El Paso). Monday morning, on the way to the airport, we stopped one last time. I slipped another dollar in the jar for the Capricorn tending the machine. He doesn't know my name, but he does know that I like coffee like women.

"Oh, hot and black?"

"Just bitter."

Actually, he does a very fair approximation of several drinks that I'm fond of. I do prefer my espresso drawn a little slower, but I'm well aware that I'm still training him. Plus he kept trying to sign me up for a "buy ten, get one free" card, even though I don't figure I'll ever see that barista again.

Then, Monday evening, on the way home from the bus stop, after the quick shuttle ride home, a Libra barista poured an excellent double espresso. Yeah, so I tipped her a dollar, too. That works out to more than a 50% tip, but she put up with my meandering ways, the way I gawked at the menu for a moment, and earlier, she had humored me about her sign. Monday night was probably a slow night for her, and that dollar - I'm sure - went to a good purpose.

It's a matter of form. It's matter of having once been a tipped employee, too. Tipping is not required, but sure helps to ease the transaction. Besides, a truly gifted barista can make a difference.

There was a Taurus lad who did absolutely the best espresso ever. Instead of just grinding the beans, he would grind, pack, then grind some more and pack some more, because he maintained that the extra step produced a better brew. I still have a digital image - someplace - of one of his shots of espresso, a work of art.

The folks who work at Buck all have my admiration and sympathy. It's not like it's a glamorous job. For the record, I tend to prefer the independent coffee houses with their mis-matched furniture and sometimes not-so-subtle charm. And usually, at least in Austin, free wireless.

But Starbucks is dependable, and while I don't plan to make any particular Bucks a personal hangout, that doesn't mean I won't tip.

At another place in Austin, I watched while a barista (Scorpio) did the three shots of espresso in the cup, then poured in the frothed milk, stirred it up, then added some other step that either involved more espresso, more frothed milk, or something. I didn't catch it all. But what the result was? An excellent drink, and very worth that extra dollar which I left behind. Same place, different day, a Gemini ehind the counter, "double espresso with a sollop of frothed milk? In regular cup?" so nice to be remembered. Nicde that, after a dollar tip, once or twice, I do get remembered.

I've found that the current crop of coffee houses are a long way from they used to be. But making a decent espresso-based libation is still labor intensive, and being kind to the counter help, like the gesture of a tip, sure helps smooth the transaction.

New Moons - the first four callers were all "new moon" folks, in fact, 3 of the 4 were "doubles"

Coffee house etiquette
Picked this up from fredlet. Let me say this about that:

I spend a fair amount of my free time in coffee houses. I tend to prefer the "indy" places, but when I'm stuck in an airport, and I want something that I know will work, there's usually a Starbucks. Plus most Bucks have wireless. Costs me $6 a pop, but I know it works.

I prefer a non-homogenized kind of place, I can think of at least three, four, maybe more, that are all close and have just what I like. Plus free wireless.

On the way to the airport in El Paso, we stopped at Caffe Dali, a local spot (Westside El Paso, on Mesa). They do have a bastardized version of absolutely useless wireless, which I just skip. But the coffee's good, the desserts are excellent, and they do offer the indy-requisite "wheat free, gluten free" pastries. Kibbles and nibbles sort of thing. After fetching up proper libations, I stuffed a hard-earned dollar in the Capricorn's jar. He earned it, and he's been trying to enroll me in the frequent patron (buy ten get one free) card-carrying club. Plus, by now, he remembers what I like. Which is one reason why I stuff a dollar in the jar.

On the way home from the airport, I stopped off downtown and dropped a dollar in the jar of the Libra barista, after she made me a really, really good double espresso. That drink cost $1.75, and with a tip, that's running what, almost 50%? But she remembers me, and it's going to be a slow night for her. Plus the coffee was done exactly like I like it. Plus she seems thrilled when I remember that she's a Libra. Might be humoring me, but I consider that dollar an investment in my future, as a patron.

I don't frequent Bucks too much, but when I do, I do drop a dollar in the jar. Why? How many stupid questions does that counter help have to put up with? There's my usual, too, "What's your birthday?" Humor me, I tip well. Plus, that tip is an investment. More than once, I've run into former coffee house employees and they remember me, probably as that weird guy with charts and crap, and always nattering on about birthdays and signs, but whatever.

I've been a tipped employee on a number of occasions. Therefore, I always remember to tip. Even when I'm using a Starbucks Gift Card.

Two-meat Tuesday - Feast Day of St. Raymond
Oh, I looked this one up, never mind. Patron saint of pregnant women? Maybe I'll just skip that one.

Class notes:
I am often times much maligned for picking on Scorpio folks. From the class notes, I've got hardcore visual evidence.

"Me thinks the teacher doth protest too much."
"Michael Bolton," greeted me, Monday afternoon at the airport, that baggage checker again. After he checked my luggage, the half-empty show bag to Austin, "Here you go, Kramer."

Cure for blockage: which really just tags onto the note about the class, because I used one example in the lecture - about Mercury Retrograde - and I realized, as I was flying and catching up on some reading, that I was about to pass up an article about "writer's block."

Writer's block scares me, but after I tackled using applied astrology to working with my writing schedule, I found that I cold beat the dreaded writer's block. I take a break from my regularly (self-imposed) schedule for producing scopes when Mr. Mercury goes retrograde. In so doing, fallowing a natural rhythm, almost a circadian cycle, I've found that I don't have the usual problems with writer's block.

Everyone needs a little break. It's a vacation, of sorts. Doesn't mean that I stop gathering ideas or observing people, either.

Or collecting unusual items, as I found this on a "roll of film" (phone camera, really) and I realized I'd snapped a shot sometime last weekend, up in Las Cruces. DG Coffee Bar, Deli, something like. Good burritos, and good coffee drinks. Home-made ice cream, too, but I didn't get to try any of that.
The question, where have I seen a bicycle like this before?
And who is Number 2?

Monday's commute
It looks like a jet-set lifestyle, winging across the state a twice in two weeks. But first off, it was for work. And secondly, well, the nuts and bolts of the situation?

I've spent enough time on Southwest Airlines to earn a couple of free tickets. Or, at least credit for those free tickets. I once did a chart for SWA, just as a curiosity. Guess what? Mercury is retrograde in that chart, as I've been led to believe, that companies can have natal astrology charts. Sometimes, I figure folks in my line of work take some of these things a little too far. But that just could be me.

I realize that I should save those free tickets for vacation or something, but in the long haul, work, for me, is so much like play, it's all about the same. Besides, using a frequent flyer pass for a business trip means I'm serious about the business I'm in. Sometimes, anyway.

Been a long weekend. I do love me some of southern New Mexico. The Sierra Madre, as it is. In Las Cruces, or, the more correct native term, "Cruces," the Organ (?) Mountains form a backdrop. At one time, I'm pretty sure it was nothing more than a trading post not much further up the road from El Paso. Crossroads, the four points making the arms of a cross, hence the name (nothing like making up stories to fit existing facts, now is there?)

So the commute isn't that big of deal, not to me.

Las Cruces, NM
Ruidoso, NM (Lincoln County).

Mescalero, NM more females than males, population is 92% Native American (listed as Indian on the census). Otero County.

Unrelated: (to much of anything)
Naked cartoon characters? Loathe as I am to resort to terms like, "What's up with that?" I have to wonder about this.
"How do you spell 'tranquility'?"

The Road
really does go on forever?

"Once you get rid of integrity, the rest is a piece of cake." (Quote culled from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Friday edition, attributed to Larry Hagman's character in Dallas, J.R. Ewing)

In the broad, Rio Grande River's Valley, the Franklin Mountains behind me? There's Saturn and Venus, lined up next to each other, just before the sun rises. Goes with this week's opening quote. Happens every year, more or less.

Feast Day of St. Monica
Patron Saint of Married Women. Well, enough about that. Despite my monk-like behavior, I seriously doubt I'll ever be turned into a saint.

Book notes:
Within the last year, I saw Mark Rylance play Richard II, on stage. For the foreseeable future, I have an image of the historical Richard II as portrayed by a Capricorn (the actor, not the character). Came to mind while I was wending my way through the Clerkenwell Tales, as there was mention of the characters, and the stage image came swimming back to me. Not unlike so many others, my mental image of English history is colored by the interpretations I've seen on the stage.

In the news:
"GTT" was the slogan, according to history, letters left on the settlers' old homesteads as they migrated westward. Looks like the migration isn't quite over.

Another Texan, apparently, in the news.

Three-meat Thursday (thankfully, I don't o this very often) - (the three-meat platter) - (on Thursday) - I was headed back from Barton Creek, and I was thinking about where to eat, Sandy's? When what hove into sight - a little "truckette" with a certain sore Pisces. "Hey good-lookin'," she said. We chatted while I chowed, she had ice tea and hustled off to work, "When is Mercury not going to be Retrograde?" September 3, more or less. Over behind another place, a certain Scorpio was just exiting the parking lot. Then some feller was honking and waving, "Kramer! Dude!" I have no idea who it was. Sunny, friendly day in South Austin.

Load and go:
Off to the airport, and from thence, to points north of El Paso, to teach a workshop and do consultation - it's still my favorite time of the year for westward travels.


Mercury retrograde is all about "re" stuff. Using the term "stuff" is pretty vague.

Rework, reconnoiter, retrieve, redo, reconnect, recollect, revisit and so on. Those are "re" words.

"Stuff" can be home, at work, at play. All of the above. None of the above, perhaps it's some other task.

Typically, I record a phone reading. I've got a cheap "phone microphone" hooked into a cheap cassette recorder. Works well enough. Well enough until this last week. In my audio message, I warned about having to go back and correct previous mistakes. Either it's a self-fulfilling prophesy, or just an anomaly, or maybe, I was dead-center with a prediction for myself.

So I'm having to go back and redo a couple of the phone readings from last week. What a way to waste time. Maybe I should've checked. Maybe I should follow my own advice. Or maybe, after all, I write about this subject, I should follow my own advice.

That's a weird idea.

Two days in Austin, barely enough time to recoup, repack, and get ready to jet on out of here for the last gig of the month, in Las Cruces (via El Paso).

As an addendum to yesterday's note, first off, any e-mail text that passes through the e-mail gateway is legally mine to do what I want, and sometimes, the exact text is too amusing to pass up. Then, as a second observation, at least two of the other sites mentioned are pay sites. Plus, last time I checked, TV Guide cost money.

Not to be one to throw stones, and even though the material has been carefully checked twice. Three times even, I'm apologizing now for that typo, which, no doubt, will creep into the scopes after they get uploaded.

Fresh Caulk

this just in
"you suck"

Round a-bout, 8/25/04 2:44 PM, ya'll "Marjorie Dunbar" said:
> why don't you remove your fucking site. it is not useful and your horoscopes
> sucks. in fact it had always been sucked. who the hell is going to pay you for
> this shit. have your heard of astrologer like penny thornton, eric francis,
> jonathan cainer and the woman from tvguide. you suck!

Why, thank you for taking the time to write in!
Kramer Wetzel
Home of the Texas Shakespeare Massacre

Rock stars. Rough news.
"Kenny G!"


"Michael Bolton?"

Now you can imagine a scene from Office Space. Bonus question, which Austin restaurant was used for location?

Okay, the bag checker at the SWA curbside, both of the guys, they were nice. But, as they determined, eventually, their computer wasn't working. Not without a good deal of ribbing about the hair.

"Kenny G, you have to go inside."

So I head into the ticket counter line in the El Paso airport, and I'm standing there, retrieving a couple of voice mails, and the sky Cap runs inside, "Hey, Kramer, we got it."

Sweet. Nice to be known by my real name. Bag tagged, and it's off to the "departure lounge."

There, I spent almost an hour, chatting up a Scorpio. Darling lass. There's just something terribly alluring about a girl with a gun on one hip, and stun gun on the other side. Something about a woman in a uniform, just tickles me.

Did I ever hear some good stories.

The pain strikes today. All that fun on Monday? All that wonderful, windfall income? The conundrum wherein the trip to a casino paid better than a weekend of hard work? I have to deposit cash in the bank. That windfall will neatly tie up a loose end, like a bill that needs to be paid. Should be paid. Almost like there was cosmic force arranging so that I could pay the bill, if I just deposit all that cash. It hurts, but like as not, I'm sure not many folks feel my pain.

Perfect timing - Virgo time
Why would I be concerned about messing around the exact location of the planets for a time to gamble? Just a whim, but it never hurts to stack the deck whenever possible.

I was looking for a window that "as good as it gets" for the time being. Communications are in turmoil because the Mercury situation is what it is.

The invitation was to wander up to the Mescalero Apache "Inn of the Mountain Gods" casino in Ruidoso. Sounded all right, I guess, a nice afternoon in the mountains, a brief respite from the desert heat? I wasn't much into the idea tossing away hard-earned money, so I portioned out a little bit of precious cash, set it aside, and picked the best time to hit the casino.

"Dude, no dude, I swear, the slots are a lot looser in Ruidoso. You know those flaming 7 machines with 4 reels? I hit it for $400 on Saturday."

I was watching the clock, thinking about the phase of the moon versus the phase of the sun, and all those astrology goodies.

"Can we eat something besides Mexican food?"

In Tularosa, NM, there's an old fashioned drive-in. It's called the Al-O-Mar Drive-in and Diner.. Two burgers, covered with Hatch Green Chiles, fries, drinks. Less than ten bucks. Very, very good. It's like stepping back in time. There was even a smoking section, more folks there. Just felt right, a step off the tourist trail, into a land that's little different, and the rhythm, is more in tune with the way the sun rises and sets, or so it felt like.

From there, we meandered up the road, laboring into the higher elevations. The old casino and inn is closed for remodeling, so we went to the temporary one, a few miles closer to Ruidoso. Wandered in, wandered about and since I have a very real connection to Roswell, NM, I wound up playing a nickel video slot called "Area 51." $20 became $400. "All jackpots paid by attendants." $409 to be precise.

I have two roulette theories, and I've done a little computer modeling to see how the theory works. Looks good mathematically, so I figured I'd give it try. I watched while another guy pulled in over 2 grand, but his system was too wild for me to figure out. I did see 17 hit 3 times in a row (I was outside on that, so I broke even), and a half dozen spins later, 17 hit again. With my chip on it. I hit the "35 to 1" spots twice, and I wound up with an extra ten dollars more than I started with. 17 hit one more time, that guy was raking in the dollars, shouting, "Praise the lord," and I cashed out- still up. Better yet, I was still up with the casino's money.

Casinos and gambling are filled with pitfalls, and the very theme preys on basic human instincts like greed. So I tucked half that money back into my pocket, considered that I'd gotten a lucky break and broken even, and even advanced.

Quit while you're ahead, right?

That luck from the roulette table followed me, as I wandered in an amongst the slots, the bells ringing, the buzzers buzzing, and the music chips playing sound bites, Moon rolling along in those early degrees of Sagittarius, I was still feeling lucky.

Game theory is pretty simple, each slot machine is designed to relieve the player of as much available cash as possible while promising a big return for that investment of one penny, two pennies, a nickel, dime, quarter, dollar and so forth. I found one game that seemed promising, just a quarter machine, but I was playing and willing to let the it ride for a little while, besides, I'd just seen that one guy clean up at the roulette wheel....

Jackpot. Yes, a big one. One so big that the machine said "IRS Lock-up." Took half an hour to get paid, and I haven't seen that many hundred dollar bills in one place, in my hands, in a long, long, long time. Apparently, I did make a bit of a scene, and I was shaking when I had to sign the IRS form. However, letting them pay most of the win to the government? I don't have to worry about that next April.

I divided the cash up in my mind, tithing, and mentally arranging piles of money, so when I got it, I put some more back into my pocket and with the rest. We played all night long. Which was amusing because I could finally step up to a dollar machine, slip a c-note in, give it a few spins and not worry about losing the money - it was all the casino's money to start with, from that second jackpot.

Plus, I had more luck yet, as long there was a Sagittarius Moon, right? All in all, when we walked out at 11 that night, I'd been there, more or less, for 11 hours, and I was up from what I walked in with by eleven hundred dollars. Just a little over a grand. Worked for me.

"Kramer, you drive, I've been drinking"

Good thing I live like a monk, no? Besides, I seriously doubt that Aries was impaired from a whole two drinks. In 11 hours.

Coming back through Alamogordo, there's a place to turn off to go to the freeway, a longer but more scenic route, or there's the back road, straight into El Paso.

"Should I turn here?" I asked, peering at the signage, seeing a little "El Paso" arrow tacked onto the bottom of one sign.

"No. Yes. NO! YES!"

So I put on the turn signal, and took a right, bypassing the right hand turn lane, but executing a perfectly legal turn. Red lights. Cops. Had my luck just run out?

When the highway Patrolman realized I wasn't drunk, just another misguided Texan, he let us go. Some days, it pays to live like a monk. As I exclaimed, when I motored off, "Our luck has just run out."

I was very careful all the way back to El Paso in the late evening dark.

Virgo Time - perfect timing.
Monday dawned clear and warm. Sort of precludes any "dark and stormy" night kind of an introduction. Now, according to my various source - three different astrology programs, I was looking at "Virgo" as having started around 6 or 8 PM Sunday night.

The variance was due, in as much as anything, to the simple problem that I keep al my machines (phone, computer, &c.) on Central Time even though El Paso and New Mexico are Mountain Time. So figure Virgo started sometime Sunday evening, which lent a "new sign" feeling to the evening. Then, by careful examination of astrology charts, I'd figured I'd wind up at one of the casinos, and right at the beginning of Virgo, then Monday, around noon, the Moon slipped on into Sagittarius, that would be about as good as it gets.

Beat Generation
Robin and I were comparing notes, and he started by quoting a little poetry (not that this is odd):

"Hipsters, flipsters, and finger snapping daddies...."
(Lawrence Ferlengetti, be my guess, as I guessed at the spelling, not having a library or net access to check anything).

I was meandering about and I was struck, once again, by the quality of the blue sky. It's a southern New Mexico shade of blue, not to be confused with the yellow light in the northern New Mexico mountains and high dessert. A quality, as much as anything, a way the light shines, the effect of the sun, and it sometimes makes me feel like this is just a little closer to heaven.

Not everyone will agree that the high dessert, or that the Franklin Mountains can be a little closer to heaven, but this past weekend, the sun was out, the clouds were fleecy, and the sunsets sparkled off the western flank of the mountain, drawing out the ochre and magenta shading, against the relief of the ridges, gullies, and arroyos.

A recent set of rainstorms has actually left the grasses, what sparse bits there are, long and green. A special place, but according to some, not that much to see.

I like it, but I'm just a transient here.

These are a few of my favorite things
Chile hot enough to remove lead-based paint. Very appealing. Casino slot machines that cough up more money than I put into them. Hearing someone say, "You know, when you were here last, you said I was going to travel, and I though you were full of it. But I've done nothing but travel since I last saw you." (Pisces)

Or that Aries, "You promised money, now I want more."

I just reminded them, it was all as the oracle predicted. Not like I'm infallible, but when I'm hot, I do okay.

Hand out flyers, do readings. Had a strong Capricorn influence to the day. Sold some books - that always helps.

I noticed my little Sagittarius friend - mi amore - from Odessa? She'd added a couple of intricate Milagros to her sign. That's an idea.

"I see in the paper that you'll be playing here next week," the promoter told me, a reference to an upcoming concert.


Actually, I will be playing. Next weekend. Las Cruces.

"I ain't no website wonder..." (source?)

In El Paso and ready to work. Plus, I've got to paper the town with flyers for the following weekend in Las Cruces, NM (look at a map, they're neighbors - geographically).

Straightened out Graces site, a little. Ran into them firewall problems and had to resort to using a dial-up connection to upload changes. That's just archaic.

Stopped off at the casino for lunch, and I managed to walk out of there with a few extra dollars - this time. But I was using astrology timing and Grace's advice on what machine to stick the money into.

What it worked out to, near as I could tell, was that there is such a thing a free lunch.

I only hope that this portends well for the coming days.

The sunset, the Franklin Mountains, purple and red in the evening's twilight.

Friday five
Is there still a Friday Five around? I don't know. Never did play well within the confines of the rules, but then, I've never really had much of a problem finding material to write about.

1. A couple of days ago, I was intrigued by Mistress Fredlet's question, who do you want to be when you grow up?

2. I always thought I wanted to be a rockstar, but that would greatly interfere with my lifestyle, the teeming hordes of groupies alone would interfere with my solace while fishing. From what I can discern, my lack of musical ability wouldn't be much of an obstacle. Plus, I get worn out enough from working two days a week, I'm not sure I could tour incessantly.

3. I thought a reporter-at-large would be a good gig, too, but that one's not going to work, either. "We have an armed intruder, cover that story...." "Uh, did you say 'heavily armed'? I think I left the coffee pot on at home - I'd better skip this one."

4. There was a feller who worked the same circuit I do, way back when, always a sharp dresser. I'd figure I'd like to be like him, only be a professional gambler. But to do that? I'd have to win more than I do. As it is, I only rate poor amateur.

5. I've been writer, and had a secret desire to be classified as a writer, for years. First publication was artwork, then a poem, back when I was but a mere whisp of a lad. Now, if I could just combine a little Shakespeare, some fishing lore, and get around a topical subject, I might have a winner. I think that's who I want to be.

Thursday morning's mailbag contained a couple of highly complimentary notes. I might not be pleasing all the people all the time, but at least a couple of souls are enjoying my efforts and rewarding me with nice notes.

It's always a mad dash to get to the airport, what with Mercury confusing issues and so forth. I didn't want to be bereft of coffee beans when I return, so I had a last-minute dash to the store. Which reminded me about me selfless, undying love and adoration for all things Leo.

Just for the record, "I walked six miles, each way, in the snow, with bare feet, using barbwire for shoes, uphill both ways. Barefoot. In the snow. Uphill."

(Really, all that happened was I got stuck reading a book late into the night.)

The flight last night? Did I mention Mercury was retrograde? Did I mention I've found a sure-fire cure for Mercurial Mayhem? Two shots of airport espresso and a large scoop of Amy's Mexican Vanilla ice cream. Smooth, rich, creamy delight.

"Plane's two hours late?" High-pitched giggle, "Mercury's retrograde."

I half expected to start seeing tracers. Good thing I was wearing the wedding ring, one of them.

Beer story
Original source: TFG: It's about a beer swilling bear. At first.

I shot the link over to a cousin, and we both agreed that the beer was wimp for only downing 36 cans of beer.

> You wrote:
>>> 36 aint bad, depending on how big the bear was.
>> Well, he skipped the Busch and went for the Rainer Ale, can't be a dumb bear.
> That was our class beer in high school ("Vitamin R").
> He is obviously a class bear.

Busy schedule
I'm off to the airport, and from thence to El Paso, for a weekend of work. Sort of strange a day spent traveling is like, the lightest day of the week. I've had a busy schedule full of consultations, which, of course, interferes with my laid-back lifestyle. Not that I'm complaining, either.

If I'd only heard this once, then I'd dismiss it as an anomaly, but what I've heard a couple of times over the last few days? I can't quote the words exactly, but the concept is that a client goes and sees (big-name astrologer/psychic who charges a bucketful of money) and gets nothing. I'm sort of stuck, see, with astrology, there's the science part - where the planets are - and then there's the art part - what those symbols mean.

The position of the planets is science. The interpretation is conjecture, intuition, or, in my case, a lot of observed behavior correlated to those planets and their positions. Plus a dose of "art" for the sake of the interpretation.

"More matter with less art" (Hamlet's Mom to Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet

What seemed to be lacking, though from the big-names? Compassion. There was compassion the first time, but in subsequent visits, there was a lack of compassion. These are people, not machines. People make choices. On some occasions, we all make ill-advised decisions. Imagine that.

Those of us who live in houses with a lot of windows? I've learned not to throw big, heavy objects - I'd hate to shatter the semi-permeable membrane I'm wrapped in. don't want to be stuck there, nekkid for the world to see. Well, maybe that wouldn't bother me too much, but I'm sure it would upset some of the neighbors.

What struck me, hearing several times in two days, was the basic lack of compassion from folks who supposedly spend a lot of time dealing with people.

Now, granted, the world would be a much better place is everyone did what I told them to do. The first time. But the world doesn't work like that.

In the words of Will Rogers, that great man from Oklahoma:
"There are three kinds of men - the ones that learn by reading - the few who learn by observation and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."

I wonder if my compassion, especially recently, I'm wondering, does that come from the fact that I wasn't sure this thing was electric?

And don't forget
"Time wounds all heels." (I'm missing my source for that quote, but it's not original, in as much as I'd like to claim it. But I can't.)

All fire signs. All day. So it seemed. Aries and Leo, to be precise. Which is odd, to my mind, given where the planets are today.

I wrote a long "Two-meat Tuesday" piece, but at the last minute, I pulled it. It started out with rant about the way the media was treating certain words, dovetailed off the most recent war reports, and included a quick scan of the Koran.

But between drinking coffee, swimming in the creek and logging some decent mileage on the old trail, my vitriol ran out. Plus, I've had my hands full with readings. Just Aries and Leo.

The turning point, such as it was, had to be two-meat dinner, out on the patio. Served by an Aries, with a Leo scratching around.

No, I don't get it.

I might run part of that rant a little later. But I'll have to think about in moment of clarity. Which I don't have at the moment.

Two-meat Tuesday's digressions
Online news is a weird way to see the world. After the first gulf war, I learned that all news sources are tainted. Before I was awake yesterday morning, I was looking at a headline about Iraq, and how "Insurgents fired a mortar (something something something, number of dead)." So I looked up the word "insurgent," and here's what I found: "a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent."

So I looked up "belligerent," because, in my limited understanding of the word, that last definition, "a rebel not recognized as a belligerent," something didn't ring true to the situation - as I understand it.

See: this is what I don't understand, if a belligerent is hostile and aggressive, like firing a deadly mortar round into a crowded city street, how can that be fired by an insurgent who is, by definition, a rebel not recognized as a belligerent?

I understand that the meaning of words can change. My favorite example is
decimate, which, at one time, owing to its roots and all, originally meant to "reduce by one-tenth." (Dec = Latin, ten.)

This line of thinking almost sent me back to my copy of the Koran, looking for a passage that tells the followers to attack without mercy, taking out innocent bystanders. Well no wonder I can't find it - that copy of the Koran seems to be a flawed translation, according to Amazon scholars. By the same token, what would those same scholars say about my King James translation?

I wandered up to Bouldin Caffeine Dealer to meet a client for a reading. Good stuff. Since I was early, I picked up a local newspaper. There's a reason why I usually mistrust the local paper, and the headline was enough to 1) encourage me to buy a copy, and 2) marvel at the inaccuracies in the copy for that headline story. Sadly, The Austin-American Statesman ran a short article about a local bit of pipeline, and the paper left out a few salient facts.

The funding for the majority of the opposition to the pipeline was from a leading (and probably competing) energy company. That company was a major groundwater & air polluter, according to publicly available EPA documents.

The graphic that accompanied the article showed the pipeline right-of-way, through various south Austin neighborhoods, including the proximity to schools. It failed to mention other pipelines in that right-of-way, or the age of those pipelines, or the current content of the older pipelines, in that right-of-way. At least one of them is currently, unchecked, pumping something far more dangerous than gasoline.

Which is all just sad. I'm heading off to El Paso, where the pipeline ends. Where gas is more expensive. Because some competitor riled up the Austin tree-huggers.

Think there's a reason not to trust what the media claims is true?

More on Mercury
Excerpt from the Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. "Overwork: n. A dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries who want to go fishing."

Quick note:

I was doing the radio program (Real 97.1 in Indianapolis, IN), and right before the show was on the air, the jock (Ernie, Sagittarius) was telling me that Thursday nights they host a child psychologist, and even the psychologists said, "Were looking into this Mercury retrograde" thing.

Not the first time I've heard that, either.

I've chronicled this before, but I was sitting across from psychologist, and she was asking about Mercury being retrograde, and if I recall, her comment was that she just doled out "It'll be better" to her clients when Mercury was retrograde because nothing seems to work right.

You ain't got to be a shrink to see that. Or an astrologer.

Caffeine contents
As long as I'm going to digress, I'll digress in a way that interests me.

Average cup of coffee (8 fluid ounces): 115-120 mg Caffeine
Espresso? 100 mg, per one-and-a-half ounce serving

And for comparison? A couple of the favorite cola-types - in mg.
Diet Coke 45.6
Dr. Pepper 39.6
Big Red 38.0
RC Cola 36.0

So I did a quick search, and what I came up with was pretty much similar material. Either everyone copies the same source, or those reports are fairly accurate, as far as caffeine content goes.

The "brewed versus drip" coffee question intrigued me briefly, but then, I tend towards a French Press, with oily Italian Roast beans.

There - so it appears - to be less caffeine in the darker roasts, and I uncovered a shade darker roast than the Italian Roast: Spanish roast. Tastes like charcoal. I must find some of this roast.

Coffee blog? Iced?

I still couldn't discover what the approximate content of the Press process coffee was, other than it does have a little bit better flavor, and that I like my beans almost burnt. Plus, it takes several cans of coke to equal one good cup of coffee.

The numbers I culled from several sites, but the average content of a single cup of brewed or drip coffee ran right around 120 mg per serving whereas the coke averages all stayed the same. I was surprised to see Big Red kind of low on that account. I always figured it had more caffeine. The espresso servings, those numbers varied, averaging at about 100 mg, but the size? No two sites would agree, someplace between one and two ounces.

Where did espresso come from?

An impatient engineer and some innovation, so it seems.

Curious shades.

Viva sloth!

Ran into an old friend. She reminded me of the delicate story.

"Yeah, it was funny, that West Texas twang, 'delicate,' oh yeah, that's Kramer." (Pisces)

Some old friends, some new friends. Another weekend in Austin, when, to be honest, the weather was perfect, albeit a slightly cool for a Texas summer, and thereby, business was a little slower, but then, that's to be expected.

Since I looked at a lot of charts, let me explain what I kept seeing: Mercury, retrograde, at the time, at 7 degrees of Virgo. Mars, moving forward, at two degrees, headed straight for that same point where Mercury would be coming in backward motion, all relative to where we sit here in Austin. It's not like that little alignment isn't bad enough, not really visible, but wait! There's more! See, or you can't see it unless you're using a telescope, over yonder in Pisces (that's the sign which is opposite Virgo, you know) is Uranus. Poking along at about five degrees. So Mars, moving one way, stirring up Mercury, moving another way, being opposed by Uranus, all means that there's a storm brewing.

I was thinking more along the lines of astrological storms because my work deals with people and individual charts rather than global events, but the global psyche is, according to what I'm seeing, a little off.

Now, I can write it all off to 'Mercury being retrograde," but that's just a verbal excuse, because mixing Mars and Uranus into the fray means that the individuals all tend to be a little short tempered.

There's a manic swing that seems to accompany this sort of transition and what the planets do. One minute? Elation. The next? Dire despair.

The sun being in Leo, along with the moon, yeah, that too, doesn't help. Great time to enjoy the dark of the moon. Would be a good day to fish, I suppose.

It's going to be one for the record books, that's for sure.

Hard day at the office
Dating ideas. What the heck? Mercury is backwards, we all need a little help from our friends.

Unrelated to anything:
Hurricane Charley is wrecking havoc in Florida. Now, which country, like (oh, just pick one country the US has assisted in times of natural disaster), is going to pitch in and help those poor Floridians clean up? Roll call of countries sending assistance? I can't hear you.

N.B.: In Texas? We're used to extremes of weather. And I know we're overdue for a good hurricane along our coast. Wonder if we would get any global assistance? Probably not, but then, we're all hardy pioneer stock, we'll just fix the damn thing ourselves.

Off to work.
Off to work. Details here.

I was picking up flyers from that Sagittarius printer guy, downtown. Support local business. He stepped up to the cash register computer - a Mac - hit something, and the machine ceased to function.

"Mercury's retrograde," I assured him, "no problem. I'll be back, let me just go get a cup of coffee."

I come back and we start commiserating about the big party downtown. Had to take a miss on that one, even though it looked like fun. Projected crowds were 70,000.

After all, I'm off to work bright Saturday morning, so Friday night was a "school night."

On the astrology front, here's a popular bit from a favorite Sagittarius, the guy who started Craig's List (oddly enough, Craig).

Friday the 13th.
What an onerous weight to carry? Reminds me of seeing one particular client, too, "Is the glass half empty or half full?" I ask. "Half empty! Who are you kidding? There almost nothing in the glass and the sky is falling, Mercury is retrograde and we're on the verge of a drought!"

Big day (party) for that Virgo bike rider, Lance. Big party tonight, including Robert Earl Keen & Steve Miller.

Back to that Friday 13th mythology, what I remember, more or less, was that Friday, in merrie olde englonde, was the day criminals were hanged. It was either thirteen loops in the hangman's noose, or it was that the hangman was paid with thirteen coins.

I've seen too many Friday the 13th Bad Luck events occur, that's for sure. But in most cases, if not all, it was someone looking for something bad to happen.

I watched, with academic interest, while a client, during the course of a reading, consumed a "Leveler," a Bouldin Creek coffee special. Contents? Guinness, espresso, chocolate. The first couple of sips seemed to be richer and thicker than the normal Guinness, with the foam riding on top reeking of dark chocolate. But about halfway through that concoction? Pretty good. Seems to have a mood-altering effect.

"Dude, it's giving me palps."

Might've been the reading, too. Good news is always good news.

"You forgot to remember my birthday!" (Leo)

"No, darling, I didn't forget your birthday!"

"Oh, you just forgot to tell me you didn't forget. Now, how you going to weasel your way out of that one, fishing buoy?" (Leo)

Some things can't be weaseled out of, I suppose. A late dinner at Curra's, served by a Libra, with my Virgo neighbor. What I did: grab the Rudy's cup full of change, stop at the grocery store and pour the cup into the change counter, get $56 back, take that $56 and buy dinner, and drinks for the Virgo neighbor. Last time I heard from her? Work and no boyfriend were issues. Since then, she's got a new job and new boyfriend, and it all happened - just like I predicted.

Funny, though, she didn't find it amusing when I concluded each of her statements about her current affairs with, "As the oracle predicted."

In the astrology news....
By Tuesday afternoon, I was busy trying to figure out what was going on, astrologically, that was leading so many folks to wander aimlessly. Mercury started its errant path in earnest. With a vengeance.

Sure, the electric car wouldn't start, but that was Monday. I couldn't open the hood on the station wagon to get a jump start. Tuesday, I got home and the phone was dead. Oh no, the DSL line was working, but the main phone number was dead as could be.

At one point in the Dallas trip, I picked up the latest "Florida Whack-a-doodle" crime thriller, Skinny Dip. Perfect reading for times like this. In as much as I hated paying retail price for the book, I saw no other way to access it, and I can't wait for it to come out in paperback. Although, for my dollars, I still find Tim Dorsey's Florida material more engaging for my tastes.

But Skinny Dip was certainly engaging, and little more interesting than the last couple of the author's novels. Or maybe I was just in a space where I needed some deep escape and fantasy reading. Never can tell. The plot called up an old, recurring character, in fact, two, and while there's no need for a command of the author's canon, loyal fans will be greatly rewarded. But it doesn't stop the book from standing on its own as a good read.

The midnight movie, see, all I had was a note to myself to check out the Alamo for the midnight movie Wednesday night. Hey, it's free, can't go wrong? Two back-to-back readings at a coffee shop, and from there it was a short stroll on over to the Alamo. The folks are on the Left Coast, so I did get a chance to straighten them out with the news from Dallas. Then I went to see, and I think it was a mistake, The Girls of Thunder Strip, about a 1966 film. Imagine, like, Dukes of Hazzard with bikers. How come motorcycle ruffians are always the bad guys?

There's a reason why the film was free.

Did I mention that Mercury was Retrograde in a big way?

Those Texas Freeways? Two meat Tuesday?
The "President Bush Highway" from the toll road, right? Since the tax payers pay for the highway, is that toll road just collecting re-election money?

Seems like getting out of Dallas is always a chore.

Who would want to leave this behind?

(frozen coffee in the pool)

The day did deteriorate though. Just the way it goes with that jet-set attitude.

But Austin is the same:

"How much? 50 cents, right?" I asked, getting on the bus.

"Ozone Day. Free." The driver replied.

"Righteous." The guy behind me said.

Not so righteous:
Home phone, the reading line? It's broke. Busy tone. All the time. Must be a Mercury thing, an electric car without electricity and the business line is always busy.

Laziness and sloth
Today is the Catholic Feast Day of St. Lawrence, according to some sources, and the saint was noted for laziness and sloth. Now that's a saint I can understand. Although, I'm wondering, after reading that link, if this guy shouldn't be the patron of BBQ.

I had a bunch of client calls lined up for Monday afternoon, but I ran into a little Mercury problem. See: with the folks gone, I get to use the car left behind, the cute, little Toyota Hybrid Prius. Cute car. Nice car. Perfect car for scooting around Dallas. (It has a handicap sticker for parking, too, not that I would ever use that without an invalid accompanying me. But still, appealing...)

I hopped in Monday morning, and the battery was dead. Not the big motor-driven battery, but the little "starter" battery.

How do you jump start an electric car?

Interesting question. One that is answered, in the last place I looked: the owner's manual.

BBQ at Sonny Bryan's again. (Means I did get the car plugged back in. Plus Radio. From Dallas.

Speaking engagement.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together in the sight of god to join this man and woman...."

"Dude, wrong notes."

"Oh. So it's 12 signs, 12 houses, 10 planets, or luminary objects, and 45 minutes. That works out to about a minute and half per astrology item...."

Actual quote:
"yeah Kramer, the world is a freak show, and you're the Master of Ceremonies...."

So weird. Mecca. My traveling companions suggested a place called "Mecca," and after visiting for breakfast, Saturday morning, I realized that I had been there before. Not a spooky "past life," just sometime in the clouded past. And that was just one stop.

Dallas is full of memories. Tons of them. Pitfalls? Pratfalls?

One of those.

Rev. Horton Heat, "Big D Boogie-Woogie...."

Keeping the myth alive?

'Hi Kramer, remember, El Paso? I saw Grace right before we left..."

Best T-shirt?

"Life is a freak show. We just do the lights."

I wonder how I could work that one out?

"Life is a freak show, I just read the charts" or "Life is a freak show, I just do the charts"?

Musical note
Willis Alan Ramsey, Northeast Texas Women, as the lyrical reference goes, "Them Dallas women standing up beat the others lying down...."

"North of Waxahachie, east of old Cowtown
Them Dallas women standin’ up beat the others lyin’ down
Well God bless the Trinity River and any man who is unaware
Of the northeast Texas women with their cotton candy hair"

(Original recording, May, 1971. Source: CD's liner notes.)

Okay, here's a quick note, I saw Willis Alan Ramsey perform, in a coffee shop, in Dallas, just him and guitar. Long time ago, that's for sure. It was on a college campus, if I recall, and I don't recall much. I don't think I was old enough to drive.

So you ever get a song stuck in your head?

On the road, looking at gas prices, I was thinking, "we love our trucks, maybe if we didn’t ship so much oil out-of-state then the price wouldn't be so high." Here's an online resource.

Dallas is as Dallas is. A quick spin through the old hood. Same as always. Road food: most excellent fried catfish in Waco, a new find for me, and then Sonny Bryans in Dallas. The legend.

Good, Bad, Ugly.
The good, the bad and the ugly?

Good was Sandy's for dinner. Or lunch. $3.18 for a burger, fries and drink. Better was it came after a dunk in the cold creek. Looks like we're hitting a hunnert yesterday. Imagine that, in the summer time, in Texas. Who'd a thunk it?

Bad? Ugly? None of that on Thursday, but I didn't happen across a familiar sign that had been vandalized in an amusing way.


What a good movie. Just a little "over the top," but just so, and not too much. What makes it special, at least, in my eyes? Other than it was filmed in a setting that looks so much like parts of the American Southwest?

It's the way a foreigner sees the way the American Frontier should look. Not what cowboys looked like, but what some director (and his stylist) thought the American Southwest should look. Or what their take on the Civil War might have been. A little different from my scanty historical otes, but good fun, no matter how it's sliced.

And, for a few dollars more, we can...
For a Few Dollars More

I was wandering in and amongst Austin's downtown district, such as it is, for a portion of Wednesday evening, a before movie libation (espresso), an after movie libation (espresso) & a muffin, and I spied upon an abandoned magazine. I flipped it open, no horoscopes, so I just leafed through the pages. I caught up with an article about another local author, with the usual Q&A, and he was quoted as saying, "Do what you love." Or something like that. Which spawned a long and caffeine-fueled entry about loving what one does.

Fortunately, I love writing the horoscopes. It's been a great joy for many years now. I hit a stopping point in the late afternoon, but I kept on going because I had one more wild idea that would fit so well, and so I just had to keep on writing. It's all about doing what you love. And love doing it.

I blew the whole movie thing. See, a A Fistful of Dollars comes first, then For a Few Dollars More is the sequel. And the first one is good, the second one is even better. Same bad guys, same Western premise, and same Italian/French/Spanish stars with an Americano as the lead. Same sound track. Not too much plot, but a little. Not too much, and certainly, the plot doesn't get in the way of the action. Of which there is plenty.

There was a certain style to the film, and that was pretty amazing, in and of itself. Then there was the bank heist. The El Paso Bank. What was nice? I kept looking at the mountains behind the set, and trying to recall what the Franklin Mountains looked like. But the movie was shot in Spain, and El Paso was originally "El Paseo del Norte," the pass to the north. However, the countryside sure did look familiar, arid, desert mountains, dust everywhere. Looked like El Paso, even if it was an ocean away.

Which did all make me giggle. Besides that, a double and triple dealing partnership? That didn't bother me, reminds of former business partners. Revenge and money as motives? Six-shooters, one with a silver rattlesnake set in its grip? Oh sure, and the Man With No Name smoking a tiny cigar.

The musical score, and little research made me realize why I liked films like Rodriguez's "El Mariachi" trilogy so much. It's about the land, the landscape is a character, defines the world, at least, the landscape defines the world on the screen. Which is why a movie like For a Few Dollars More, set in a fake El Paso, was such rollicking good adventure. Escape, pure and simple. The characters weren't too complicated, although, I think the series is best if it's seen back-to-back with its predecessor.

I just want that sound track so I can cue the lonesome whistle whenever I ride into town.

Time to change cell plans?

Also unrelated:
"That is SO cool! Look, he's got a skull ring!"
(With Ruby eyes, glowing red. Am I a bad-ass, or what?)

Two-meat Tuesday: At the movies
A Fistful of Dollars

"There's just something inherently right about showing up for a meeting, still dripping creek water." I entered that text while I was still dripping creek water into the seat at the fancy downtown coffee house with wireless. The two-hour meeting turned into a three-hour meeting, but I was prepared. More or less. I think I'm finding the upper limit on the number of espressos I can drink in a morning: five. Or six. Maybe seven. If I went back for one more, though, I'm not sure that they would serve me.

So I was busy trying to figure out what the half-life of caffeine is. Three and half hours? (Unless, of course. I'm taking oral contraceptives) (which I'm not) (I hope I don’t get pregnant)

Two-meat Tuesday should include pork ribs and brisket.

Pork ribs were done right and helped offset the caffeine. A little. Which finally lead me to the Paramount, and the introduction to the movie: some guy from MGM, which now owns the UA catalog, and that catalog includes the evening's masterpiece of Spaghetti Westerns, A Fistful of Dollars. And that also means that there was a few extra minutes of chat plus question & answer time.

(Cue the lonesome whistle, which is really probably a flute or piccolo, or maybe an alto - something - wind instrument.)

Italian director, mostly Italian cast, Clint Eastwood, obviously American, and German leading lady. Filmed in Spain. Trivia: until the last 25 years or so, as a holdover from the war, Italian films were done with no sound gear, and the dialogue was added in the studio, afterwards. So the lead was speaking English on the set, while the supporting roles were done in Italian, and the leading lady was probably speaking German.

Film was every bit as good as it was the first time I saw it, at a drive-in, yeah, that long ago. Maybe better. Just excellent film - work. Good escape from a triple espresso day. I was rather impressed, lots of violence, and yet, it touches on the whole mystique of the American West. The last frontier. Yee-haw. Wonder why the world sees us like that?

Brisket: it was my sworn duty to deliver chocolate purchased in Paris to Blue Valentine. At the Chili Parlor. Jake the Pisces, his little (mighty fine East Texas girl) Aquarius, Steph and her man, all convened. Within minutes, from the profound to the profane, it was great.

I was the most normal person in the group. Staid, conservative, even. Rational? I'm not sure about that. But it didn't take long for even me to be rendered speechless, and blushing.

Cartoon, sound tracks, obscure British pop, musical allusions, and just plain illusions. We also discussed the sexual proclivities of certain town. Or people who live in those towns.

Jake gets the credit though, for referencing the original story line for Fistful of Dollars, "Yeah, two sides against each other, it's a (I didn't catch it all, but it was a plausible theory, at the time - something, I think, Japanese)."

So what's the story line on the one for Wednesday night?

Feast Day of St. Lydia
Patroness of Weavers and Fabric Makers. Ask any writer, story-telling is like weaving a tapestry. Or some of us, cutting chunks from the cloth of reality. Or, according to my own Ma Wetzel, fabricating something from nothing. Posited: I come by it naturally.

Every picture tells a story? Sometimes. Sometimes not. Sunday was idyllic. Went for a dip in the creek, and it wasn't that good, but not bad on hot summer's day. Then stopped off for some BBQ, wherein, I only wish that I had visual record of this, I had a couple of girls cavorting around me. Looked good. Never mind that it was one Leo's birthday, hence the picture. And time for a little impromptu astrological advice. Then it was BBQ with a Capricorn and Sagittarius.

From thence, over to Little City, and another afternoon under the shade tree out front, watching while not much was happening on Congress Avenue.

Back to the trailer then back downtown for Ben Hur the movie. An epic film. Epic in its scope. Epic in its own epic-ness. Epic in in the fat that it's about 7 hours long, too.

Monday, I was working on a horoscope, and the phone rang. "Imagine this, (sign here)," and then it was blank. Wherever I was going, whatever thought? Lost. Gone to that red-headed Capricorn in the sky.

Making Monday a silly day, and it included a visit a from another red-headed Capricorn. After a hike, we were headed back to Shady Acres, and the song came on the radio,

"I'm hot blooded, check it and see
I'm taking a nap at quarter to three..."

"Honey you ought to know - what I'm doing after the show "

"I'm hot blooded, check it and see
I'm taking a nap at quarter to three..."

From the radio mail bag:

> Round a-bout, 8/2/04 9:47 PM, ya'll said:
> Hey Kramer the Magnificent,
> I've heard you on with Ernie and Angela and I had to check out your site.
> Have to say that I actually had to print out your fine print page to read at a
> later date (I was laughing too hard to continue). Also had to mention that
> the bait used for Cancers (bacon strips) is extremely accurate. You ever need
> to find me at a party I'm usually in the kitchen helping make the food or
> hanging out by the buffet table. For the record I'm a Cancer (July 2nd)
> born in Troy NY. Almost everything on your Cancer page is spot on.

Buried link
Found this on some link from a link. I haven't read the whole thing, but from the parts that I've looked at in-depth? Bloody brilliant. Sums up the way I work.

On down a ways, there's the Sex & Cash theory.

It's got to be some of the best advice I've read in a while.

Vacation challenge?
I hope not.

Ben Hur is a really long movie. I think it ran about six hours, total time. But seeing it someplace like the Paramount, old-style theater, with a real intermission, and all that? Pretty good.

Barton Creek (& jumping off limb)

Leo's B-day at Green Mesquite

Little City's best sign

Monthly stats.
Top six web journal entries this last month:
Anything Helps
Comedy of Errors
Road stories

Followed closely by Jan 2, 2003 regular column.

Cicadas & Mercury.
That would Mr. Mercury, the planet, not quicksilver.

For the last few days, almost every morning, or I would suppose, morning being a relative term, early afternoon for some, I've had to hit the trail and meet clients. No real rhyme or reason to the readings, no coherent thread, no emerging trends, nothing to connect, other than folks looking for insights that astrology might offer.

And every afternoon, in the heat of the day, as I've set off, through the heavy wooded sections of South Austin, I've noticed that sound. The screech, the cry, the background murmur, the noise of cicadas. It's a summer sound.

It's not something that's always remarked upon, as it's not a typical noise, but where I live? It's common. Every summer, for as long as I can remember, there is always that noise.

Been a long, strange summer, that's for sure. I got to bail out, halfway through the summer, and enjoy a little time in a cooler climate. But those days are behind me now, and it's a long, hot August, just up ahead.

I was wandering home from what was supposed to be a big cook-out party, if one can really fire up a grill and BBQ veggie burgers. I took a pass on the burgers and watched TV while cooling my heels with ice tea.

As I wandered home in the twilight, that big moon just cresting the horizon and start her ascent, I listened for the cicadas again. Just crickets, on the path homeward.

Mercury, and looking for rhyme, reason and trends? That's easy.

See, on July 21, 2004, Mercury went sailing past the point that it retrogrades back to. So, in effect, even though he's still moving at a good clip, or decent clip, right now, he's operating in his shadow. Therein was the clue. I don't put a lot of stock into worrying about Mercury's "shadow," but this summer, as I noticed, there was a trend, just a little hint, the first of the Mercury questions popping up.

Doesn't always happen this way and I don't worry too much about it, that whole "shadow" effect of Mercury's transits.

I hadn't bothered to look at the ephemeris in a few days, I had to make several notes for a chart reading, but that was a different deal. However, Mr. Mercury is doing it.

Which all got me to thinking about the noise the cicadas make.

Shakespeare & then some.
To say nothing of the dog, either.

The Hideout had a little ad for a production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. Figured, it was free, sure, nothing better on a Friday night. Maybe two or three people would show up, and we'd be entertained then I could write a scathing review of how badly mangled the words were, and what poor production qualities were employed, and just being back from "over yonder," I'm sure nothing would be worth mentioning.

Okay, a little history, see, in real Elizabethan Theatre, back in Shakespeare's day, the plays were more a set of crib notes, scattered fragments that each actor was given, at times, right before going on stage. No real script. All in the head of the prompter, or director. Or play write. So, Poor Tom Productions did a version of Two Gentlemen of Verona just like that.

I'd be tempted to use words like "amazing" and "wonderfully entertaining," but after some thought, the best way to describe it? Spirited.

With more than a passing nod to the historically correct version, allegedly just supplying the actors (and actresses) with nothing more than their fragments, the play comes together in a slightly halting fashion. Maybe a half-dozen times, some one asked for a line. After the intermission, the prompter acknowledged that maybe a beer on the break wasn't the best idea, as he was completely lost. Which just lead to a more intimate feel, and each production is probably a little different. To be sure, the crew certainly seemed to have fun.

The diction, I got lost in the story and action, and I never noticed if it was right or not, which would lead me to suspect that the diction and speech was done properly. Go see what Hamlet has to say about how an actor is supposed to let the words fall trippingly or whatever, and not sawing the air with hands.

Then there was the dog. Launce rails mercilessly at the dog, and real dog was used. Not a prop, but a very sweet critter named Achilles. The dog hammed it up, and he actually stole the show at one point, licking an errant photographer, much to the delight of the audience.

The musical interlude, the piece that lead into the intermission? "Dude looks like a lady," (Aerosmith) - which was even better because one of the girls in the story was dressing as a man, and now we're back to history, when, in Elizabethan times, it would've been a boy dressed as a woman, dressed as a man. Funny.

The costumes, if that's what they were, looked like thrift store material as much as anything. Except for the woman playing the Matrix-look-alike. The character was some kind of bad-ass, and she did the black overcoat, and she was armed with two guns. Water guns. Scowling, she did dampen the audience a little. Didn't dampen the enthusiasm, though.

Costumes, lighting, stage direction, it was all okay, but nothing can replace the sheer excitement that the players brought to the stage. Spirited.

One of the two gentlemen of Verona, Valentine, was bemoaning his fate, and he started to cry on the prompter's shoulder, snuffling big tears.

I'm not sure it's in the text, but at the point, the prompter was prompted to say, "There are no more lines in this act."

Very, very funny.

The whole thing was good. I judge a play based on how sore my butt gets. I was a little sore on the thin theater seats during the first half. I never noticed any pain for the second half.

The spokesperson and ticket taker (it was free - work with it) came out before the second half and suggested, "That it all gets crazy now." Oh yeah.

Sometimes a performance is carried by a single star, but if there was but one star on that stage, it was the dog. Other than the dog? It was an excellent production, and rather even-handed. I would wonder if the dropped lines were rehearsed for their comic timing seemed to fit. Might just have been a good show.

Two more performances this weekend, at the Dog & Duck pub, check listings for details.

The best part? The dog. Maybe it was the guys playing the two gentlemen. Maybe it was the girls playing the girls. Or the girl playing the boy. Or maybe it was the two servants, or even the supporting roles, they were good, too. In fact, there wasn't a weak bit in the play.

Me? I want a job as a prompter: no lines to memorize, just stand there and follow the script. That would be good, about my speed.

Or the dog.

Blue Moon Rising?
As we ask the lyrical question, "When will I wake up? Escape from this crazy dream?" (Los Lonely Boys) N.B.: need to cut back on that morning cigar habit.

Bunch of unrelated stuff:

Blue Moon was loosely defined as a 4th full moon in a 3-month period until the 1946 Sky and Telescope came up with the definition of two full moons in one month. The web is useful for useless information like that.

Talked to people on the phone, typed scopes, typed answers to questions. Went for walk, and I stopped at Austin own Mexic-Atre Museum for the Mexican Calendar Legends exhibition.

I took a couple of notes, as there was some breathtaking works of art. Two items stood out. Maybe more. One was picture of a light brown haired woman with a bow and arrow, I think, most folks would call her blond, and she was standing in front of an antelope, I'm guessing here, but the title to the piece was "Diana, the Huntress." Mixing a little mythology here, but it worked.

The Mexican tricolor was quite visible, along with the Virgen de Guadalupe, as was something else that stood out. Betty Page? She ain't got nothing on any of them models depicted. Nipples. Seemed to be a cold season, for all the years concerned.

Instead of an 8-inch square reproduction, some of the pictures were up to five feet tall, maybe more. Perhaps "Mexican Calendar Art" isn't common everywhere, but it's pretty endemic in my world. And pretty amazing. The use of sunlight in Veracruz Natives (1950), or the simple, classic lines of a nude in La Estrellita (1946).

After the museum, it was a guilt trip. I've been playing phone tag with my parents, and while Ma Wetzel was in the mountains with spotty cell service? I let her know I'd need years of therapy for my own mother hanging up me.

"I didn't hang up on you, the phone dropped the call," she said.

Once in a while, it's nice to throw a little of that back, "My own mother. Hanging up on me. And I've been so worried about you."

Swim in the creek. Drink a shot of espresso. Saunter off to Baby A's to meet a couple that I'll be marrying at the end of the month. Sagittarius and Aries. Oh this is fun, a "pre-marital consultation with the minister (me)." Not joking, everyone's mom called during that meeting. In-laws and out-laws. Deep East Texas meet New York City.

"Mom, we're talking to the guy who's going to marry us, okay?"

It rained like a cow urinating on a flat rock, but after happy hour was over, so was the rain. Once again, I sauntered off in one direction, got a call, and turned around to meet Bubba Sean at Sandy's. There's a reason why I stay off of Barton Springs Road whenever possible. I ran into a Cancer, an Aquarius, a Leo & her Libra, and finally, Mr. Astrowhore dot org. We were watching a drama unfold while eating ice cream, in front of Sandy's when I saw a familiar visage in the front seat of a mini-van, some of my suburban friends. Libra, Libra, Aries son. Small world. Sooner or later, everyone turns up on Barton Springs Road, I guess.

Or maybe only once in a blue moon.

Much Ado About Nothing
The problem? Perhaps one of the best performances by a certain star as the constable (Dogberry) is this version.

"O that he were here to write me down an ass! But masters, remember that I am an ass; though it not be written down, yet forget not that I am ass."

Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing Act IV, scene ii, lines 75-77

"And masters, do not forget to specify, when the time and place shall serve, that I am an ass."

Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing Act V, scene i, lines 49-50

I'm working on it. A little Shakespeare, and with apologies, "I'm taking horoscopes where they've never been before."

The Pink Panther (at the Paramount).

True story; I tell the ticket cashier that I'm only 14 years old. She laughed, and I got in on a discount. Scorpio. Figures, right?

Wonderful silly show. A little short on continuity, but what's a few problems with reality in movie that's all fun?

Keep innovating.
It's two-meat Tuesday time.

It started with a post on Slashdot, seemingly about a horrible misuse of power, to the point of outward abuse. So it seemed, at first.

I didn't follow up on the story, and I didn't do any research, other than a quick google of the star characters. Something does seem to be amiss, but then, the whole sordid tale triggered something inside of me, "keep innovating," I said to myself. Better than any kind of copyright protection, writing something in an unmistakable voice, with original material is probably better than stealing anyone else's work. However that case might play out. It's not like I have to worry about someone stealing my work, although, I've found that there are some imitations - keep innovating, no one else can touch that.

The whole question of parody, satire and, I'm wondering, free speech.

(The fact that one of my staunchly conservative readers sent me the link in the first place just illustrates how bi-partisan the comedy is?)

I may be wrong but....
It's "the other side of Saturn." Or the Dark Side of the Moon?

It's a consultation question versus a piece of symbolism. What does one planet represent? I was faced with a question, and I've drifted back towards a more traditional interpretation of Saturn these days. Frankly, the influence of Saturn is like that of a wet cotton blanket, and that's an especially apt metaphor on a hot summer afternoon in Central Texas. Sodden, weighing heavier than it should, that cotton blanket is starting to ripen a little, maybe grow some sort of science-project kind of mold, like agar in a Petri dish.

But back the idea of what a particular item represents, or the energies that a planet brings to a situation. I love me my Saturn, once friends are made, once a relationship with a particular planet is established, there's a pattern that will emerge. Saturn - he's in Cancer these days - is not particularly a nice planet. Sure, you've seen the pictures, the rings and all. Plus there's ongoing space research, but what of the symbolism?

Someplace, buried in my books, somewhere, probably in Latin as well as in English, there's a bit from an early astrologer. Astronomer. Same thing, back close to 2K years ago. Something about Saturn was really easy to predict with, being a great big bad guy as a point in the sky. Not as bright as Jupiter, but carrying a great deal of weight, nonetheless.

Saturn tends to push folks around. A lot. It's not all bad, but there's that onerous weight of work, as opposed to leisure time.

I started on an essay about Saturn, and my red-headed Capricorn friend called, "Hey, are you home? Want to walk today? It's nice out. If I don't go with you, I might not get out."

So I adjusted my schedule - which means in real life? I took a nap. That Capricorn in question is notoriously late. Two more calls, including a wake-up call, almost two hours later. Which also means I forgot all about whatever I was going to say about Saturn. Saturn is the planet associated with the sign Capricorn, in case the symbolism slipped by.

We walked. We talked. Halfway around the trail, it was a short loop, barely three miles, she was complaining about her hip-leg-foot-some-part that was giving her pain. We stopped, and she stretched.

"If that's all I have to do to relieve the pain, I should've been doing this long ago."

A little later, she was tired, but I was still merrily trucking along, she was complaining about a certain issue.

"Look, I'll pay you to do a reading for me on this one," she said.

Halfway through the walk, not much of a trek for me, she stopped and stretched the sore muscles, relieving the pain. Saturn's like that, you know. Doesn’t mean that she can stop, halfway through the Saturn exercise, though. Diligent work is still required. The other halfway back to the trailer park.

So I forgot all about whatever Saturn point I was trying to make. It was profound, I'm sure. I'm deep like that, at times.

As I was getting ready for the call-in radio show, I was straightening up the kitchenette. I noticed that - somehow - the only item I needed to buy during the day? Coffee. And someway or another, I'd managed to neglect that chore. Purchase. So with just minutes to go, I slipped out and up the street to buy beans.

"Italian roast: Sturdy & roasty-sweet" (with hints of chocolate and musty wine flavors and strong finish, I suppose.)

Saturn will do that, make somebody forget to buy beans. Not a problem at night, but decidedly a problem first thing in the morning.

Who really wrote the plays?

iPod troubleshooting.

Which cult classic badass are you? by rook901
Favorite Eating Utensil
You are:
Quiz created with MemeGen!

Two items from the Register, one about Houston Airport Ranger (wryly amusing), and a second with an engaging title, "King Arthur and his Bytes of the Round Table," or something like that.

Last Roll
Anyone who's played with Apple's "photo suite" knows that there's a feature that shows the last roll imported. (Photo credits: Jeff Anton)
Picture on the wall. Wonder what kind of bait?
Cuban cigar in Paris.
Brilliant coffee.
A mussel. On plate in a cafe, in Paris.

Norse myths
I'm not exactly sure how complete my command of the Norse pantheon, but I'm enjoying that book, Thunder God by Paul Watkins. Sorry, no link because, apparently, it's not available in the US yet. Maybe someday I'll pick up a real primer on the Norse stuff, instead of relying on opera and fiction as a source of information. Of course, most fiction is better than dry primers. And more truthful than most textbooks.

Unrelated link:
Tough guy symbolism?

Unrelated images:
Typical images from a typical low-dollar night.



Friday Five
1. Cat comment 2. Unstuck in time 3. Foreign views 4. Flashback 5. Movies

1. > I got a kick out of this week’s audio message-I could hear the mistress of the
> trailer squawking at you in the background-stop what you’re doing and feed me!
> Sort of demand. Wow, she rules with an iron fist.

Iron Paws. With claws. Same thing.

2. Working on a production schedule of sorts, my internal time-clock is way out of whack. I'm part way between last week, next week, next month and the next year. Leads to some confusion about where I am at the moment.

3. Something tickled me about this article. I think it was the bit about how Americans are perceived as stupid because we stop and ask questions, a way to gain knowledge, rather than blindly bumbling along. Reminded me of a conversation with a couple of Australians, a Leo girl and Taurus guy, in the bottom of restaurant in London. Well-traveled pair, the guy had been arrested in Tucson for "domestic violence." I couldn't make out much of the conversation, but it was all humorously related, in a heavy Scottish accent.

4. Flashback.

5. Pulp Fiction & Reservoir Dogs at the Paramount. Bloody good.

6. Coolest iPod mod? Speakers from Altoids can and playing cards?

Thursday's Three-way
First off, the spam report: I got a note from an industry leader in managed hosting, as I'd mentioned the company he owns, or, at least, the company that he's partly responsible for.

The personal note is nice, even if it is spam. The upside was that I know this particular executive, and he would probably answer a reply email. That's a nice touch. The downside is that his demographic, what he's pitching, matters not one little bit to me, my clientele, or 99.99% of the readers. I'll have to take a pass on providing a lucrative " endorsed" link. But it was clever marketing. And if you are in the market for volume web-hosting, in a safe, secure, managed environment, hey, RackSpace does have a good rep. Plus the two guys running it? Seemed nice enough.

Secondly, did I mention that Lance Armstrong is a Virgo? With Jupiter at his back? He's about to break that hex? With the time off-set from France? Might already be history by now.

Finally, at the movies. Kansas City Bomber, starring Raquel Welch. At the Alamo. Hosted by some roller derby group. I went for late pizza and a cheesy movie that's not available on DVD, as far as I could determine. I think I read that someplace. I'm not sure that it's a movie that needs to be remembered. As might be expected, the show before the show was possibly more interesting. But I must applaud the Alamo Drafthouse, once again, for excellent - if way off-beat - entertainment. Plus good pizza. With some movies, maybe the less said, the better.

Leftover images from the CD.

A Laughing Horse Lodge
(highly recommended)

Coastal sign

Evacuation route?

Waffle House (Paris)

Le Tall Tower

Feast Day of St. Mary of Magdalene
Yeah, that one. Patroness of repentant prostitutes. Thanks to that Da Vinci Code, though, looks like we might be rewriting some history.

And thinking about hex? Austin's Lance is making a push to break hex, see, six seems to be a magic figure that no one can break, and I'm only operating on rumors. The purported hex is no one can win six Tour-de-Lance, and yet, looks like it might happen, now. (Hexa - Greek for 6.)


"Some days it's like looking for the needle
Some days the haystack's gone
Some days you fly like an eagle
Some days you fall like a stone"
(Larry Joe Taylor, John Inmom, Fall Like Stone Summer Days)

I was picking through some pork ribs, spearing salad (dry), and looking through the paper. I'd just had a fight with a newspaper machine, and like a slot machine, it paid off. I thought I was getting burned for a couple of quarters, and I punched at the machine, a little hard, and it coughed up some extra quarters. And a newspaper. Buried in some section, there was an article about ongoing deep-sea research, down yonder in the Gulf.

So I did a quick search from notation on napkin, "U-166," for various theories, just see what there was to see.

Two-meat Tuesday
"Moon on my left/Sun on my right/I don't know what I'm doing/But I'm doing it right/I'm sittin' on G/Waitin' on O/somewhere between Marfa & Old Mexico" (Larry Joe Taylor & Steven Fromholz Headed South on Summer Days)

(I was doing the Marfa chat when running around with one Gemini, then I wound up with three more Gemini for the day. Plus a sprinkling of Libra, as well. Marfa: saw this bumper sticker - "I (square) Judd.")

"When you call me that, SMILE."

"Goes together like shrimp on a treble hook" (Luke Olsen allusion, Gulf Coast Romance)

Which begets the old blues line, "Don't nobody know the treble I've seen."

Which begets further confusion.

The last picture
Might be a really disturbing image for some. It's a Jerry Springer (opera) moment:

(I was flipping through the pictures from last week.)

One last image
It's the reason I enjoy the sound of keyboard, or more important, the sound of an ink nib scratching on parchment. Right, like I'm ever going to do it that way.

Over one of the lengthy dining engagements in Paris, I fond myself talking about comfort zones, and taking one step outside of a comfort zone - that's how progress is made. In that example, over dinner, or maybe it was lunch, breakfast? I don't recall, one of them, over that meal, I was describing an astrological - metaphysical concept to my companions, about how one step out of the comfort zone is what is required.

Two different nights in Paris found us along the Seine, the fabled "Left Bank," I'm guessing, not more than half a mile east (might've been west for all I know) of the Louvre. Might've been between the Louvre and Notre Dame. There was a museum, and through the gates, two pieces of art were clearly visible. One was, as expected, a giant Picasso sculpture thing. The other was a another piece, of a familiar artist.

Understanding and recognizing such an artist, then naming the artist and citing examples - from the Texas desert? Should've impressed my traveling companions, all artists, all far more educated in such matters. After all, I was the yahoo-hayseed in the straw cowboy hat, the guy who couldn't get enough of that excellent French coffee. And steak. They do know how to do that, cook, or better yet, uncooked cow, that's for sure.

It's all about taking that one step outside of the comfort zone. Paris was like that, as far as I was concerned, one step outside of my inner-city London theatre & museum districts. Strange food in a strange land.

However, Texas is still bigger than France.

I'm still waiting on my soul to catch up with me, I figure I'm still lost in the turbulent currents of the mid-Atlantic, trying to get caught up with my body.

A swim in the creek, a cup of coffee, a hot dog with cheap yellow mustard? I'm back in Austin. 90 degrees seems almost cool, too.

Airsick bag notations:
I have got to remember that international travel via "coach" - or as the British Rail tickets once said, "CHEAP," just doesn't work.

Cattle class, although, I'm pretty sure that Texas cattle, as well as French cattle, all receive better treatment.

Weird unrelated items: Sagittarius. Obviously, my favorite sign, but my old chum from way back? 12/12. Sister's friend? 12/12. Sister's friend's friend? 12/12. Three in a row.

Then, there was that Gemini guy from California. Walnut Creek California. Two girls with him? One was 12/12. Hopeful airport pickup? 12/12.

Parting shots?

"Kramer, I love you but if I could trade my first class for your coach?"

Pregnant pause.

"I wouldn't."

Everyone else was in Business or First.

Don't nobody know the troubles I've seen. At least mine was a cheap ticket - really cheap. Less than a hunnert dollars. Small consolation for winding up in the cattle section.

"The sounds coming out of France are huge: house, deep house trance, crazy stuff."
(Intro to Outlaw's Too Many Fools Follow)

"I'm a pretty good dog, but if you don't pet me once in while, it's hard to keep me under the porch." (Ron White)

"Do you remember/back in 1966?/Country Jesus coming through" (ZZ Top)

"On this train, the conductor wears black. I ride this train." (Rank and File)

"It's always the last three hours," said the Aries sitting next to me.

Rememberance: walking in Canterbury, just as we hit the city's walls, someone (sounded female) gave me a half-decent "Yee-haw."

Measure for Measure
Seen two version, both quite strong, but very different interpretations. Very different.
(Caution: strong language in the review. You have been warned.)

"I liked the present day dress and the use of the bucket." (Sister)

My notation, as I walked out the theatre?

"That Angelo, he was one way fucked up dude. Way fucked up."

Earlier version that I saw. Then the Theatre Complicité version, at the National.

Whew. Although the text was identical, I mean the words were the same, there was a very different interpretation. A different spin. We had front-row seats. There was judicious use of certain very Christian imagery, which I found, well, mildly amusing. Not a guffaw of laughter, but a smirk. In fact, there were quite a few good smirks.

But that Angelo, he was, like, way over the top when it comes to being bad.

The poor Leo was stuck in a seat between me and sister. At one point, one character is imprisoned, and his head is to be chopped off, and his sister has a chance to save his life. See, she's going to join a nunnery, as in "Get thee to a" nunnery. She's a novice nun. And her brother is imprisoned for knocking up his wife-to-be. Following this?

Then Angelo, he decides, if the sister will sacrifice her virginity to him, he promises to let the brother go.

So when the novice nun goes to the prison to talk the matter over with her death-row brother, much hilarity follows. Halfway through the scene, I'm elbowing the Leo, who was supposed to elbow my Sister. But then, the scene turns, I mean, she (the character's sister) turn on the charm, and she's promised to maintain a vow a chastity, and she won't sleep with the evil Angelo, I mean, we're all going to die one day, right? Her brother is just on a fast track to heaven, right? Confused? Imagine this being done as a series of high-flown Elizabethan language, bother-sister, trading pleas.

That poor Leo, stuck in the middle.

Great show. But very, very different from the earlier one. Almost like comparing apples and oranges. Yeah, they're both fruit. Or better, comparing sweet California oranges to bitter green apples. Delicious, but bitter.

What struck me about the show - a thoroughly modern version of humor, in a bleak, black way. Far different from the previous version.

Funny in places, but also telling about the abuse of power and rank.

Damn fine show. That Angelo guy was seriously fucked up. With our front-row seats, we could see his eyes get redder and redder, his lip quiver, and there's one scene where he takes liberty with the sister, and that was really troubling. All symbolic, but really unnerving.

Blood, beheading, and more allegorical symbols. Ye-ow.

This moments pet theory is that it the play is about when bad people do bad things and then, they try to cover up their mistakes. Which only compounds the misery - for all the characters.

But in some small respects, there was that forgiveness - once again - the women were the better people. Characters. Whatever.

Landing and leaving
Stopped off at the Dali Exhibit. The surrealists always excite me. We live in the same world, at times. Like most of the time.

Off to London's Heathrow, and from thence to home. But stay tuned, saw Measure For Measure at the National Saturday night. What an amazing experience.

I shore do like them French ways

"Eating, for the French, isn't a matter of life or death - it's all much more serious than that."

"I guess I didn't know" (Crystal Method, Vegas, Busy Child)

"We think the subtle-witted French
Conjurers and sorcerers." Shakespeare's Henry VI Part I (I.i.25-6)

Dinner, the other night, we started at 7:30, more realistically, about 8:00, and we finished at about 10 minutes after 11 PM. I was dining with an old chum from way back, I mean, way-way back. He was doing a tour of duty in Paris, with his family, and we got together for the most pleasant of evenings, "Yeah, the French are really serious about their pleasures."

On our way to the Tunnel station, we got together with some of Sister's friends again, and found ourselves in yet another famous bistro, Café Flores. Some us had "steak sashimi" whereas that Pisces ordered "Welsh Rarebit," which was mispronounced "Welsh Rabbit."

When that Welsh Rarebit showed up, I howled.

"That's queso. Can't fool me, that's queso!"

I was corrected, but then, it's a cultural reference. I've had Welsh Rarebit before, and I never did understand why cheese toast was so expensive, but like everything else I experienced in Paris, they do food right.

It was a bubbling bowl of cheese. Apparently, there was a piece of French toast settled on the bottom, but the cheese mixture itself? Yeah, that's queso, in my terminology.

"Welsh rarebit, my ass."

As Brandon Jenkins sings: "I love to hear those engines wind." (from Unmended, real red dirt music)

Listening as the Euro-Star winds up and launches down the rails towards England. N.B., one can see fish from the observation deck while under the Channel.

Looks like queso, tastes like queso....

Gare du Nord, Paris, France

Paris, two items
With one extra day to do nothing, or rather, with nothing planned, we had a chance to shop at all those cute little stores on the West Bank.

I'm pretty secure in my manhood, in that, I can carry around a couple of bags of girls' stuff and not be too offended. However, I will admit, there's just no way to stand outside of a specialty boutique and look macho. Just doesn't happen. No amount of posturing can cure that.

The girls were at one store, and I wandered across the street to a chocolate shop. I was looking for some kind of special chocolate bar to fulfill a request for an Austin girl, surely a simple request. I bought candy bar, rather, a bar of fine Paris chocolate, and hopefully, that'll do.

Two of the girls joined me in the chocolate store, and they cavorted around the various piles of candies, rich and redolent with that fragrant aroma of pure cacao, and one of them begged for some change to pay for a small purchase, just a slice of nougat.

"Ooops, I don't have any more money," I said.

The clerk took one look at me, and in English, "Paris is very expensive with two women."

"Oh that's nothing, he has four."

Yeah, us Texans, we're like so... je ne sais quoi - but then, I don't know what.

"Qui est ta pere?"

Feast Day of St. Swithin
9th Century English bishop who earned a reputation as the weather prophet.

"Cool, look a military parade!" I exclaimed.

"Kramer? Those aren't military, those are riot police."

Some kind of party, huh?

The fireworks? Not that it was ever on my list of "things to do in a lifetime," but Paris on Bastille Day sure is fun one, even if I did luck into this by pure chance and an odd twist of the fates.

Purple Shirt:

Vote, six out of six, the shirt isn't any good for Paris. That vote? And the tasteful shirt? It was hilarious.

That one cup of coffee. I was trying to recall, was the place called Titan, Atlas, or Mercury? Sounds like names of American rockets, at least, that was my reference.

We stopped so the Pisces could rest her feet, and had post-fireworks drink. Some had lemon sorbet mixed with vodka. I had a crepe. Plain crepe. That Pisces had deep-fried ice cream. I had a dish of coffee, perhaps the most perfect cup of coffee I've ever seen.

Bastille Day
Wiki on Bastille Day.

So that's what I've go to look forward to.

Pictures from Paris:

Carte Noire on the train.
That tower.
On the tower.

The way to see Paris: on foot. Left Bank.

Everything's closed, except, of course, for the Tour de Effiel. Effeil. Effeile. My French is badly inflected with too much gutter Spanish, which only results in much rolling of the eyes.

Then there was the dispute with fellow travelers, about how to navigate the town. I wanted to eschew any maps, guides, local assistance or anything short of divine inspiration, which, did indeed, lead us to the Tour de Effiel. Effeil. Effeile. Requisite tourist shots are there.

"No, Kramer, you can't see it from every corner."

What, it's so tal, it disappears in the clouds? Not really, and wee made it without stopping to ask for directions, looking at a map - my innate sense of direction and street smarts is what got us around. I am such the guy.

"Ou sont ta papa?"

To say nothing of the dog
"Remember where we are: in France, amongst a fickle and wavering nation."
Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part I (VI.i.138)

The tunnel under the English Channel. Fast train. I was wondering if I could really see fish while under the sea.

"Bonjour (then a bunch of stuff in French I didn't understand)," was followed by a plunge into the tunnel. Of note, the time, according to my watch, in England, it was 1:07 PM, but in France, it was 2:02 PM. This is a country I could like, you know, running on South Austin time. GMT is 5 minutes past the hour but in France? It's about quarter til. Yeah, that works.

I'm hoping I can dig it up, but I've got a picture of me with my fellow travelers, Sister and & co. We did take one picture Monday morning, all of us in bed. Hey, I'm traveling on budget here, have to double up as needed. Alas, the picture didn't turn out.

Dinner was with the fabulous couple from the Left Coast, some of sister's friends, however, Sister was not in attendance. We all meandered around, and finally stumbled into a little palce called "Lipp."

As they pushed us further and further back into the crowded restaurant, I kept seeing the food being delivered - big plates piled even higher with various meat products, sliced beef, sliced ham, sausages of various forms, all looking good.

It was good.

Feast Day of St. Veronica
St. Veronica was a patroness of laundresses - noted for wiping Jesus' brow with a shroud, thereby imprinting the shroud, and the rest of that story is history.

Ate dinner one evening at Thai place, I forget the name. I forgot the tube stop, too. But the evening's libation (variation of ice tea) came with a flower in the drink.

I started by reciting the first half-dozen lines from Chaucer's Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, much to the chagrin of my fellow travelers. But Sunday, after coffee and so forth, it just seemed right. And away we went.

First stop was outside some train station, and I got to clown around with one of my favorite writers, Oscar.

And a stop at the place to rub.


Riding the train.

"Please keep feet off the seats"

Finally made it to the Canterbury Cathedral.

Couple of tales from the trip. First off, right outside some church, before every leaving London, there was an Oscar Wilde memorial or sculpture, or something. I got to play on it. Then it was that long ride out to Canterbury. I'm guessing it's about 60 miles, and it took about an hour on the train, which is a far cry shorter route from the days when the pilgrims left Southwark and took turns making up stories to entertain themselves.

Lord knows, I would only tell the truth.

Nothing but the facts.

We stumbled off the train and into the street in front of the station in Canterbury, and I scratched my head. I've been here before, but I didn't recognize anything. I was studying the map on the wall, see the busking picture? Didn't make enough to buy a map, so I was looking at the map on the wall, and a couple pedals up on a tandem bicycle.

Cute couple. Dreds. The guy might've been my age. "Which way's the cathedral?" He pointed one way, his companion pointed the other direction, and then, a after a long discussion, they agreed that her way was the shorter, more direct route. That tandem bike looked like fun, too.

"Only if you can communicate well," was her reply.

So the story goes, we staggered into some really good pizza along the bank of some river, at a little place selling Italian food. Then we meandered in an around the cathedral itself. It really is a special place for me, I mean, I like the architecture and all, and it's been a holy place since, well, long before Christianity built any castles there. Plus, it's just an amazing structure to stand in, and look up. And then there's the sign.

"Martyr - this way."

Yes, we all have a mother or two who could use that very sign.

As we passed one of the side chapels, one of the girls had to ask, "Hey, is that the gift shop?"

A little later, I got to ask, meant that as a joke, right?

"No, there were these nice tapestries, a few candelabras, I just thought it was the gift shop, you know, you could buy some saints or something...."

The sun was playing hide and seek, and as the clouds parted, there was that little bit of sun, I popped my hat on, and posed at the edge of the churchyard. Remember the tag line from that store in Austin?

"No one ever got laid wearing plaid."

Good enough.

Three part harmony
There were three ways that the Hamlet was so much better than others.

Diction, timing, support.

"Hamlet's not a Shakespeare play, it's a Mel Gibson movie." (Reduced Shakespeare Company line).

Previously alluded to, the Kenneth Brannagh's version is a good piece to watch before seeing the masterful rendition at the Old Vic.

Diction, the speech flows so natural, it's not like a scripted piece of Elizabethan prosody. The timing was impeccable, and then, the supporting roles were well done. Loved Gertrude, but by the end, hated her, as she slipped into madness.

I don't think I ever want to go to Denmark.

The way it worked, the opening scene, you know, Hamlet's daddy's dead, his mom cavorting with the uncle, now the dad, and so on? Right. Scene opens with Hamlet dressed in black, everyone else in white. The guy playing Hamlet (Ben Wishaw) evoked such emotional pain and distress with his physical posture, I was hooked in - immediately. From there, though, it's sometimes difficult to maintain that hook with an audience.

He did.

Supporting roles were good. Which only let that one Hamlet shine even more.

Still, a breathless performance. Wow.

"That a nice picture of your sister's ass."

"Desperation is the English way." (Pink Floyd, Time, from Dark Side of the Moon)

American readers at risk.

Yeah, everyone's seen it a time or two. Check Brannagh's long movie epic (all the words) version. But the one at the Old Vic Theatre on Saturday night was nothing short of amazing. Once I recover my breath, I'll write more.

Tate Modern. Retrospective of Edward Hopper.

You know who Edward Hopper is? Think "diner." Think of the boulevard of broken dreams and every other knockoff of that one diner picture (done in 1942). The guy who did that painting the first time - that's the one.

What was weird, seeing it in the flesh? Standing straight in front of it, it looks like a painting, but moving off to the left side? The characters, the woman, the soda jerk, the other guy sitting at the bar? They all seem to move forward, move around, almost leap out of the painting.

Yeah well, it's the Tate Modern and it's such a wonderful space to view art. Plus, imagine this: Lamb Burger & Dorset Crab in the café for lunch. Little black sheep done up as a burger and a real crab from England's southern coast. I like me my southern food.

We were cruising down the street and found a "ticket vendor" or "booking agent," as the lad styled himself. Plus, after watching the guy work, he had a closet for an office, two or three phone lines going constantly, we managed to snag some tickets to an already sold-out show, Theatre Complicite's version of Measure for Measure, at the National Theatre.

Pompey: Yonder man is carried to prison.
Mistress Overdone: Well! What has he done?
Pompey: A woman.
Mistress Overdone: But what’s his offence?
Pompey: Groping for trouts, in a peculiar river.

We all pooled our resources, and sister and friend had to go in search of a cash machine, while I waited in line.

"Yeah," I drawled, "I sent my wimmins off to turn a few tricks."

"Right. Over in Soho?"

"Yeppers, they'll be right back."

A few minutes later, the girls rounded the corner with the cash.

The end of the evening we found ourselves at the Hard Rock. The Hard Rock. Not the chain, but the first one, the original. Decent burger, a bacon cheese burger.

While I was worried about everyone's mental health earlier, I'm less concerned now. They all stopped laughing at every joke.

And somewhere in between, there was theatre. Which is, as they advertise, all 37 plays by William Shakespeare, in 97 minutes. While much of it was silly and tremendously amusing, the best bit was one of the lines, "Hamlet? That's not a Shakespeare play, it's Mel Gibson movie."

I guess you had to be there. We were?

Dude! (sweet prince)
"They say best men moulded out of faults;
And, for the most, become much more the better
For being a little bad" (Marianna in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Act V, scene i)

Yeah, that's a good quote, and it can be taken in or out of context. Almost like it's an excuse to be a little bad. Makes us better.

"I would rather just die than walk around a proper city in tennis shoes."

Okay, one more:

"Shoes are like relationships?"

Me: "Huh?"

"Sure. They should come in the right size, they should be sexy and comfortable, and you shouldn't take them dancing on the first night. Matter of fact, you shouldn't wear them too long the first time. And one pair just doesn't do for all occasions."

Then, sister piped in, "Hey do these jeans make my butt look fat?"

Sister and me, we got "psychic readings" together. At the same time, anyway. Here's the weird part: the reader I drew? He was about a week off from my birthday. Sagittarius. Yeah, we are the greatest. (Unless, of course, there's a Leo around - they are always the best.) Learned some new tricks, that's always fun. But I did regret whoever had to read for Sister, as she was a little wired. What was I thinking?

A sign I saw, down on the coast, "Unattended children will be given two shots of espresso and a new puppy."

Which reminds me of my most recent favorite sport? Give Sister a big cup of coffee - at least two shots of espresso.

"I haven't had any wheat, meat, flour, or caffeine in six months, you know. Can I have that roast beef sandwich?"

High tea. I kept asking for those "little biscuits."

I was trying to explain how to use Shakespeare lines to attract lovers, helping Sister out, and she kept coming up with, "Love looks not with the mind but with the eyes." This will never work.

That OPERA again. Sure. It's so damn fun.

That opera is just the best.

What was left over from high-tea became a late night snack. Which eventually became a contest between siblings with various gaseous emissions.

Yeah, well, a lot more happened, but the facts, as well as some of what really transcribed?

"Fetchez la vache!" (John Cleese line, I think.)

"Keep your decaf mocha latte, just pour me a cup of coffee - I'll do my own thang and be uncool..."
(Old Derailers off Genuine)

"If the trailer don't blow away in the next hurricane, they'll be together til their dieing day..."
(Luke Olson's "Gulf Coast Romance" from the album Uvalde)

I think it's called snogging not blogging.

Canyon lands. So weird, I get strolling in some of the neighborhoods around here, the "summer sun of York" still not streaming into the narrow streets, and all I can think about are man-made arroyos and canyons. Dry Gulch. Wet Gulch.

It started to rain during the play. I had a great shorthand term for the play, Measure for Measure, I was using this form "M4M." But I looked at that and wondered where I'd seen that before. Not exactly my style.

But the play itself? That was a wonderful production of Measure for Measure.

Bloom on Shakespeare:

"Shakespeare, piling outrage on outrage, leaves us morally breathless and imaginatively, bewildered, rather as if he would end comedy itself, thrusting it beyond all possible limits, past farce, long past satire, almost past irony at its most savage." (p. 359)

"... above all, of the convict Barnardine, who has the wisdom to stay perpetually drunk because sober in this mad play is to be madder than the maddest." (p. 359)

I think Bloom missed the mark. The players, I saw about half dozen of them that I'd seen before in other roles, were quite good. Well nigh on excellent. Exceptional. Perhaps it's a problem play, but there was a kick at the end, and that kick caught me completely by surprise. One of those twists.

Catching me completely unaware, though, that just spoke to the quality of the production, the pacing, the staging, well, everything. That was good. I was wondering why I kept thinking of it as "savagely funny."

Very good. It's just so right to see a play in that atmosphere. Funny thing, from what I've gathered, the regular London theater community tends to regard the Shakespeare's Globe as sideshow and tourist trap. Which is the furthest thing from the truth.

The folks sitting in the plastic ponchos under the rain? The cheap seats? They got treated to the bawdy jokes. The folks further up, like in the rafters? Players would lift their eyes when referring to the "heavens" or the more wealthy patrons.

All worked. All worked well. Plus, that little bit of rain - who'd a thunk it would rain in London? The rain made a good point. The stage is probably a little larger than the real stage. But the actors rarely used the outer most portion. So that when it did rain, the actors would be relatively sheltered from the elements. Almost as if the place was designed by an actor with actors in mind.

Suit the action to the words, the words to the action, no sawing of the hands, and how does that one quote go?

Anyway. I am much worried about the mental health of my traveling companions. So far, Sister and friend have laughed at almost every joke I've made. Even I wouldn't laugh at some of my jokes. I think those girls, I figure their mental health is in question.

"But Kramer, you're funny."

Even I won't go that far.

And remember, "No downward dogs on the first date." (Sister was doing yoga - I know I would never do a downward dog on the first date).

Road stories
See Hamlet?

We all rolled out early Tuesday morning, a lingering effect of jetlag. In this corner of London, the city itself doesn't do much business before a very civilized 10 AM. In fact, the only place we could find that was open? Bucks. Yeah, Starbucks. After disturbing the peace as much as possible, we got an early breakfast, and then everyone proceeded to nap. Seista time.

But the sun was out, and the day was warming nicely. The Tate Modern. Yeah, that modern stuff, then a little Shakespeare....

"If it prove so, then laughing goes by haps,
Some Cupid kills with arrowes, some with traps."
(Hero in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, third act)

The version of Much Ado About Nothing was good. Very good. Maybe not great, but ever since the movie came out, every version of this play I've seen tries to emulate the Dogberry of Michael Keaton, usually, as a poor imitation. However, the Globe was, as to be expected a little different. For starters? All female cast. Then, of course, the play itself was done with art and perhaps hewing towards a traditional Elizabethan styling. Or something. It was good. I know, comedy, but I cried a bit. Always like the happy parts.

Me. By a boat. Notice: fish.

Over a fabulous evening repast, we discussed Sister's recent surfing habits. She was looking for Gill, Maillol and Modiglilani. Looked like she was surfing for that 'triple x' material.

"Oh no, it's not porn, it's art."

So that's what they're calling it thee days. Picture of naked bodies. That stuff is now art.

Of course, couldn't do without the gratuitous broccoli reference, at the end of the meal, either. Back to that.

I was sitting at the keyboard, and my sister wanted to know what I was doing.

"I need to write an introduction for this week's column," I said.

"Well, I think you should write about how fabulous Gemini's are, and how amazing it is to travel with them. You know, this is the time after Gemini and all, you should really talk about how good Gemini's are."

Or how they bitch enough so they don't have to sleep on the roll-away? Or how they introduce you to everyone as "my brother from Texas who just got off the airplane and he really needs (coffee, food, women, art, theater, &c.)"

"We'll be praying for a little sun, I could use me some." (via Larry Joe Taylor's CD)

"Oooo! Somebody put a tiger in my pants!" (Sister is a little weird.)

"Britain is a world by itself."
Shakespeare's Cymberline (III.i.12)

Britain may be a world unto itself, per Shakespeare, but traveling with an adult child, like my sister, is stranger. She was discussing butt plugs.

All because I'd picked up a Cuban cigar. (Monte Cristo in a tube).

Which lead to her discussion of broccoli butt plugs. Suddenly I look like the sane one in this family. Sane, rational, level-headed. Dare I suggest it? Normal?

The Muses:
A retrospective image gallery, just odds and ends from a day in the the city.

The Muses
From the wall.


"England we love." King John (II.i.91)

So Sister was relating - in Gemini time - at about a 100 words a minute, that, well, in her own words, "I think the whipped cream gave me the yeast infection."

Yeah, well, for those who wanted enlightenment, when family gets together, sometimes there's a little too much information.

But hark, one of her new friends is also in the Globe's Much Ado. Plus, that "Measure" I wanted to see? Turns out it's a celebrated piece; therefore, Sister has a sudden interest.

"Yea, see, I was doing my dishes, and I realized I could cast that Scottish play, you know, the broccoli could be the woods that move, and the butter knife, 'is this dagger I see before me?' and the sponge, it could be Lady MacBeth, 'Out damn spot.'"

Sudden enlightenment? All I'll promise is a long, strange trip.

Bad omens/good omens
Sister called before the sun was up, "Hey, I'll be teaching on Sunday afternoon, when you get here."

That means she's going to be up and lively, all the time. "In your face" type of action. I suppose, it's a Gemini thang. That's a bad omen, the 4 AM wake-up call.

"I didn't realize it was 4 AM back there," she said.

I picked up a couple of CDs in Corpus, on the way out of town. One store led to another store, and finally, at the Executive Surf Club Music Store, I found a Luke Olson album called Uvalde, and it's got that one song on it. Gulf Coast Romance, was the title. The clerk at the store, a friendly, "dude" or surfer type, put on a copy of the CD, and within three bars, I knew it was that song I'd heard some time ago.

There's a radio station in the Coastal Bend area that so accurately reflects my attitude, tastes, and sentiments, that I'm just amazed. It's mostly Texas music, local Texas music, with a sprinkling of the Dead, old Marshall Tucker, and so forth. Back in the day when "progressive country" was really progressive. The coastal Bend music scene reminds me of the old days in Austin, before it was fragmented, disenfranchised mess.

I ripped the CDs onto the iPod, as preparation for the trip, sort of last minute detail. As I scanned the CDs' packaging, I noticed that both albums had Lloyd Maines name on them. Not just Natalie's daddy, but the pedal steel on REK's "Live #2" album. A name that signifies much.

Now, what's any of this have to do with being on a trans-Atlantic flight? I was hoping to find some new music, and I did.

Saturday morning was sunny, after Sister's wake-up call. She assured me it was cold and raining in London. I still felt a little odd, heading to the airport wearing boots and jeans, as it's been a long time since I've worn that much clothing.

Like I heard on that radio, down on the coast, "My drinking days are over, but I'm still trouble bound...." (Slaid Cleaves song).

Bad omen?
or good omen?

"I told yew, it's always that last little bit," the slim (young) Capricorn lass was saying, after a long night on the plane, "you're almost there, and then there's another delay."

I've got to get better at writing English (British English) slang.

I must compliment my travel agent, good news? 5 seats in the row, three passengers, me and two young girls. Bad news? Backend of coach. Stuck between a Scorpio and a Capricorn, almost makes an astrology joke.

"Eewww... I like your hair," said one.

Musical note:
"Batten down the hatches, better get ready
It's whole nuther world once you clear the jetty."
(Larry Joe Taylor - Summer Days CD - recommended)

It took an hour plus a long hike to get to the tube to get to flat to get to sister to get to some breakfast. Then, while she was teaching I strolled around and tried to get my body and soul to reconnect. To no avail. But I did several fun shots.

Finally, I did point to my wristwatch, it was reading 4-something. I noted that it was still on Austin time, so it had been 24 hours since I'd had any real sleep and it had been 24 hours since I got that wake up call.

"Oh Kramer, I'm sorry, would you like some coffee?"

Piccadilly Circus

Marble Arch Station

Nero's Coffee on Half Moon St.

There will be a quiz about the pictures and their significance later.

Back roads.
Leo scope served as an inspiration for destinations and routes. There's an article up on the wall in Beeman's. The place is a very funky coffee shop, surfer style, I guess, for lake of better words. Beach style.

That article, on the wall, has a pull-out, or a headline, says something about "funky town." Port A, through and through. (Port Aransas, for the coastal-impaired).

I was sorely tempted to call it the Redneck Riviera, but that line's been taken, so I'm borrowing some other line, the "Texas Riviera."

No TV, although the commodious Laughing Horse room did have one, and it doesn't have a phone line in the room. No computer. Or rather, no easy access.


The place is great, simply put. About two short blocks from the Gulf. Funky yet clean, almost pristine, with a set of very careful rules about no noise. Just what was needed.

I can imagine some of my more refined acquaintances finding no charm in the Laughing Horse, no room service, no daily maid service, and the lack electronic communication. Plus the place was a obviously an old tourist court that had seen better days. Got reworked, and turned into a brilliant place to stay. Want to really get away from it all? This is the place. All the charm of Port A, that funky town, plus an unparalleled experience in beach lifestyle. Walk down to the Gulf. Barefoot. No shirt.

Port A just lends itself to my kind of lifestyle. I was hastily snapping a picture a restaurant, and I asked if I looked like a tourist.

"Only with the camera, otherwise, you look normal."

And now? Off to the airport.

On this site
September 29, 1835
The Mexican Government troops
demanded the return of
the Gonzales cannon.
After two days' delay
awaiting recruits, the colonists
answered "come and take it."


Good Morning!
That was the greeting, cheery, bereft of any tinge of rancor, missing that subtle hint of big city irony when I hear a "good morning" in places like Austin. Or Dallas.

It's about half a block from the motel's cabin to a convenience store. I helped myself to a tub of coffee to get a kick start on the day.

Outside, at the gas pumps, there were four sun-burnt lads, leaning up against the back of the pickup, fishing poles were resting on the tailgate. They were back from fishing, at 7 in the morning, looking over their catch.

Sitting on the steps of the tiny cabin, a little tree frog hopped by. Tiny feller. Hope it means good luck. When he (she?) was sitting still, it would have fit on a quarter.

Going coastal
I still remember the singer's song. It was an "open-mic" affair, one evening, and the guy was obviously from the coastal bend area. The lyric, the refrain that stuck with me? "Thirty minutes from the coast and three minutes from hell...."

Not my sentiments, but an artful expression of longing, desire, and location.

Lulling: home to some of the earlier oil wells in Texas. Got a hysterical marker in the middle of town. The Gulf Coast, with the oil rigs anchored offshore. Texas: we ain't very far from our mineral rights.

"The average cowboy is an excellent judge of horseflesh, only a fair judge of men, and a terrible judge of women, particularly 'good women.'"

Larry McMurtry writing In a Narrow Grave (Albuquerque: UNM Press, 1968. p. 149.)

Ain't nothing better than waking up to the cry of seagulls.

I asked the kid at the "front desk" for a dinner recommendation. "Try the wharf, good food."

I asked if I could enter barefoot, "No, probably better wear sandals. Although, this is Port A, never can tell."

Trim the library
Reflections with sand in the keyboard:
Pick 100 books you can't live without. Tough call. Probably impossible for me.

But imagine that you saw the perfect trailer, an ideal new home, and the only problem was it was just a little shorter than where you currently live. The bathroom was big enough for a real shower, the bed was a decent sized full bed, and kitchenette was gas-powered, plus it folded out and slept two, so the whole thing could, in a friendly state, sleep six. Three couples, more or less.

The single problem is with space. There's not enough. Or there is, but not quite. So I figure the little cupboard over the front "couch" could hold about 6 or maybe 8 feet of books. Pick carefully,. Reduce my library by 80% or even 90%. Which books would I take with me?

Edward Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang (and Hayduke Lives)
Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker Trilogy
Rudolfo Anaya's Albquerque's series.
Ray Bradbury's works, most of them, anyway.
The Kinky Friedman canon (mostly in hardback)
William Gibson's canon (mostly in hardback)
RAH collection
Joe R. Lansdale's collection
Cormac McCarthy's canon, at least the Pretty Horse Trilogy and the fabulous Blood Meridian
Geoff Nicholson's Bleeding London
Marge Piercy's poetry and He, She and It
Robert Rankin collection, just about all of his books (about half are good British hardback)
Rutherford's London
Shakespeare: complete works
Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead
Alan Steele's "near space" series
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Diamond Age, Cryptinomicon, Baroque Cycle I,II,III
Bruce Sterling's works, at least the last half dozen novels he's put out, as they can't be left behind
Walter Jon William, two or three of his, including Hardwired and The Rift

Lit Crit is a tough one, Handbook to Literature, both versions V & VI, New York Times Manual of Style and Usage
Bloom's Shakespeare
Various other lit crit books, as need be, too

Astrology books? There are very few that I'd bother with besides an Ephemeris and Hand's Planets in Transit.

The more I look thought, the more I realized it's damn near impossible to make so with fewer books in my library.


(I've got to work this into a PSA.)

Looking forward - looking backward
Oh dear, it might be hot over yonder with temperatures nearing 80 F. I'd better take a jumper.

Two events that I'll miss because I'm going coastal. 1) Gary P. Nunn will be at Hill's Café Wednesday night. Sorry to miss hearing him do London Homesick Blues. 2) Slackers at the Paramount Theater Thursday.

I'd penciled both items in, as "things one must do if in Austin" but alas, I'll be on the Coastal Bend, instead.

I popped on around to see Stephy and the ever refreshing Jake the Pisces. Amy's motto? Eat dessert first. So we did. Then it was next door for Japanese fast food. Or something like that.

I can't locate it now, I'd copied the link someplace, but never got around to pasting that link anyplace useful. It was note from USMC about the current situation. Rather poignant. As close as I'll get to being political. Like Scorpio, or certain other signs, the Marines? Don't mess with them.

Living in the present
Weather report? Fashion choices? Or just travel expenses, again?

Between the morning clouds and the late afternoon thunder-boomers, I worked in a few miles on the trail. I stopped and picked up a book, something for getting stuck in the airport, should that occur.

A Door Into Summer by Robert. A. Heinlein.

My reasoning is thusly, I'll have finished Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by then, and I'll need something light for the airplane. Air travel, being what it is, fraught with delays, problems, and so forth, I tend to make sure that I have at least one long book to keep me occupied when I'm en route.

And instead of using my existing library copy, I'll take one that I can either toss, or better yet, pass on to someone else, after I'm done with it.

I rambled on homeward, eased in the door, and dozed off for a few minutes. Phone rang, "Hey, this Ernie and we're here live with Kramer, the Fishing guide to the Stars...."

Oh right, I was supposed to be on the radio, call in show. I'd say I forgot about it, but I hadn't, not really. I gulped some coffee, spun up some charts, and I had one of those really exciting times. Doesn't hurt that Ernie is a Sagittarius, and his (now) wife is a Leo. A damn fine looking woman, if I recall. Plus, this was just amusing me to no end, his co-host was another Leo. So this guy is just surrounded by Leo babes.

There are, of course, secrets in an astrology chart, and Ernie's chart holds something that most males, like myself, don't have, and he's got what it takes to be a great mate. At least, for that one Leo.

That was fun. But can you imagine? A Leo girl at home and another one at the office?

Small plans - going coastal
I made ominous noises about "wanting to go to the coast" before I departed overseas. I caught break. Weather's been miserable, or lovely, depends on point-of-view. Clouds and rain. Dampens one's spirit for a coastal adventure. But does bring about a longing for a soak in a tropical sun, fresh seafood, and sand between the toes.

I called "A Laughing Horse Lodge", based on Bubba's recommendation, and I secured a room for two pre-4th-weekend nights.

Leave Wednesday, come back Friday, get on the plane for London, Saturday morning. Hopefully, nursing a good sunburn.

Sounds like a plan.

Sounds like a really good plan when looking at the local version of a "frog strangler" coming down. Get me some (metaphorical) boat drinks.

The other big, nasty problem is packing wardrobe. I was ambling back from the edge of the river - some surprise here: fishing pole in hand - and the Pisces neighbor, the one making the ruckus on Saturday night? He was forlornly looking over class notes. I mentioned that his noise had rudely awakened me, and he scowled, looked shamefaced, and then looked up at my smile.

"Dude, do I look like I'm worried about it?" I asked.

"No, I guess not. Kramer, do you ever wear a shirt?"

Which comes back to the packing and wardrobe question. Which is punctuated by Bubba, in typical fashion, hollering out the window of the truck, at person going into a gay bar, this happened some years back, "Hello! It's not Easter yet! White jeans?"

I seriously doubt that most of the folks I encounter in London or Paris would know the differenced between a straw and a black felt (cowboy hat) or that straw is the required attire in the summer months. As I perused the weather, I kept thinking, "Felt looks better, 5X Beaver, handmade in Ft. Worth."

Then I realized that I sorely missing one piece of attire, a very necessary item: black yoke-cut, sport coat. Which necessitated, in the pouring rain, a quick dash to the department store. Additional travel expense, but I must look good, as it's been years since I was last in Paris. Either one.

I asked my Aquarius friend, Peg, over dinner. At Romeo's. Which, although maybe it's a romantic place and all, Peg never believes any of my romantic overtures. Probably just as well.

Considering her recent travel experiences, and the fact that she is, indeed, a seasoned world-traveler, I posed the wardrobe question to her, "Straw or 5X Beaver?"

She was of the opinion that it was going to be hot and I'd probably prefer the straw. But the black felt with its sharp, 4-inch brim looks better, to me.

How much of a slave to fashion will I be?

Big plans
Last fall, it was the Dali exhibit, plus, more than anything for me, seeing two particular plays done better than I've ever seen them done before. Forewarned is forearmed, I suppose.

We've got tickets to Jerry Springer the Opera, Hamlet, and then, at the Shakespare's Globe, Much Ado, Measure for Measure and the ubiquitous, R&J.

"This is going to be like, a Shakespeare fest or something."

Arranging last minute details, like Left Bank hotel in Paris for a few days. Not that I like to brag about being a cheap (illegitimate reprobate), but I'm paying $76 for a cheap seat over and back, free lodging in London and Paris, and free ticket to Paris.

"Is't possible the spells of France should juggle men into such strange mysteries?"
from Shakespeare's Henry VIII (I.i.3)

"How much did you pay for the Globe tickets?"

They weren't cheap, that's for sure.

"But my friend said they had cheap tickets. At the new Globe thing."

5 quid (Five Pounds Sterling) for groundling tickets. Roast in the sun, soak in the rain, exposed to the weather, no seats, stand around on concrete for about three hours? No, I may be cheap, but I want a degree of comfort. Shade, dry, seating. I live a frugal existence, but some things in life are worth the high price.

As I was doing my research, just seeing what Bloom had to say about one play, Measure for Measure, I came across a couple of very intriguing quotes. Some are saved for after the play, but it's easy to see why this would excite me:

"The forerunners of nineteenth-century European nihilism, of Nietzsche's prophecies, and Dostoevsky's obsessives, are Hamlet and Iago, Edmund and MacBeth. But Measure for Measure surpasses the four High Tragedies as the masterpiece of nihilism. Thersites, in Troilus and Cressida, in his scabrous invectives, still relies upon absent values, values that implicitly condemn the moral idiocy of everyone else in the play, but there are no values available in Vincentio's Vienna, since every stated or implied vision of morality, civil or religious, is either hypocritical or irrelevant. So thoroughgoing is Shakespeare's comic rebellion against authority that the play's very audacity was its best shield against censorship or punishment." (p.363)
Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. Riverhead Press, 1998.

"I think the hotel in Paris has Wifi. At least, they say it's got net access in the rooms."

So I'm stoked. Sister has other plans, and she patently abhors Elizabethan Theatre, so there is some respite there.

But I do have a plea, a plea for assistance: one thing, one piece in a museum, one sight, one out-of-the-way artifact - be it person, place or thing - that should be on my list. Yeah, I'll try to get a picture of that building. Other suggestions?

What not to expect
Live kitty cam from the road. Or live from "le petite maison du waffle."

From the inbound mail catalog:
Round a-bout, 6/25/04 1:07 PM, ya'll said:
> Speaking of reading, I've been reading your web
> journal for several days running now. You've proved to
> be a useful tool for procrastination during work hours
> -- I'm very appreciative.

I have my useful moments.

From the reading list:
"And another thing: I cannot accurately predict your future. We need to get that straight, too. I can't, no psychic can, and any that claim they can are swindlers."
The character Q-Jo in Tom Robbins' novel Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas (p. 75).

Back at the trailer park:
Between Friday's thunderstorms, I was standing outside, and a Pisces neighbor came ripping in into his slot, took one look at me, and hollered, "Kramer! It's raining! Put on some damn clothes!"

Some people just don't understand comfort.

Meanwhile, back at the Chambre De Gaufre (it's French for Waffle House):
So we all got together for our group meeting at the Chambre De Gaufre with a somewhat larger than expected turnout, especially, considering, the Waffle House doesn't serve liquor. Or alcohol. Our server's name was Michelle and she's a Libra. Plus, as our crowd can be a bit unruly, she was still good-natured through the whole ordeal.

Tim claimed he'd been eating with designs on meeting his approved dietary concerns, for two days prior to this adventure. So had I, for that matter. So I showed up ravenous. It's old (net) folklore, one does not go to a Waffle House for a fine dinner experience. Order a waffle, it's on the name, stick to what they really well.

And they do. Did. I remember, at the end of the evening, the server asked, "Did you get everything you got?"

But I had a total of three Waffle House waffles, so I was in some sort of blood-sugar-I-don't-know-what stupor. Feeling more than silly, that's for sure.

I was babbling like an overgrown-child. Wait, I'm like that anyway.

Since none of this will make any sense, Bubba Sean did point to the "Casa de Waffle" picante sauce on the counter, "Here, you need some of this."

(best I can do with a jittery phone cam)

Feast Day of St. Moloc & Last Thursday
Ah yes, perfect for this place, the patron saint of the insane, "Wow, that's crazy."

That new book by Bruce Sterling, The Zenith Angle? I was reading the bottom of page 66, and I'd include a quote, but I can't figure out how to punctuate a character quoting a character in another book. And while it's dangerous territory for an author to invoke the grand masters, I got about halfway through that quote, in fact, just into the first part of the first line, and I knew who was being quoted. I can go one further, I think the book's still on my shelf someplace, or a copy of it. The first time I read it? It was a black paperback, with a title in white letters and some "spacey" artwork. Gave me shivers.

Reading the lines, the beginning of the character quoting another character, in another book, just the opening couple of words, it's like hearing the refrain from a song, and then, instantly, that song is stuck in your head for the next day.

I haven't chased down the original quote yet, but I'm thinking, it's misquoted in Sterling's text. Sort of an intellectual game.

Just the reading the prologue to Sterling's recent novel, I'm hoping it's a masterpiece, The Zenith Angle, I was wondering why can't I write such workman-like prose. Spins a yarn with substance and data, but the yarn get up and rips right along.

When I got done with the book, yes, read it all in one sitting, I realized that I'd 1) put it on the shelf with his last half dozen novels as a "keeper" and 2) in a few years, it will read as rather dated material.

But that's why I like the book, out of all his works, Islands in the Net, in some ways, seems a little dated, but the concepts covered, the way our present world looked like it might be, when the book was written, in 1988? That's what's so cool. In some cases, it's eerily prescient.

In a similar fashion, I'm sure, when I come back and revisit The Zenith Angle, some of the concepts will appear naïve and dated. That's the beauty of it; it's set in the present.

Being suckled on classic space opera - of the literary sort - I rather enjoyed the pacing. And the echo of the grandmaster.

Twilight zone
Maybe it was the guy playing the horn under the First Street Bridge. Perchance it was nothing in the mailbox, no bills (good), no money (bad). Some days, Austin lives up to its publicity. Might've been Little City Coffee at Bookpeople.

That horn, at first I thought it was someone practicing their cornet solo skills, but there was something odd about the tone. Nope, it was a horn. As in the horn of an animal. Oh yes. I thought it sounded familiar, like the call of the wild. Or hunter's horn, from a more primitive social circle; although it has been suggested that there's a strong similarity between some of my friends and more primitive cultures.

I was unsure of my destination after I turned around at the post office to head on homeward. I checked the time and had a sudden insight, Hofbrau (the original, thank-you-very-much) was still open for lunch. At a recent meeting, several folks expressed concern that Hofbrau wasn't really all that good, as the food was nothing more than a slab of steak, greasy salad and about three fried potato strips, and it certainly didn't seem to justify the price.

But isn't there something comforting about sliding behind the rough-hewn table, maybe, in my case anyway, actually sitting on a bench, and tucking into a sirloin that's cooked to perfection, soaking in a plate with butter and lemon juice (light on the lemon, too).

Comfort food. However, my attitude was changed before I ever arrived at Hofbrau, buoyed by a horn player. Then, as long as I was as far north as I was, I figured I'd try to look at tourist books at BookPeople. Which lead to coffee, which lead to the purchase of a new book by Bruce Sterling, The Zenith Angle. Which, if it's like any of his other works, is bound to be good.

It's a sign, I'm sure.

(Door broken. Please use other door.)

Two-meat Tuesday
I tend towards Democratic ideals, and I'm rather fond of a number of the projects done by the old CCC (I never can remember how many letter are in that name), and I try to stay away from political intrigue, comments and rants in both the horoscopes themselves, and right here.

But an allegory has presented itself. I was just with my parental units over the weekend, albeit briefly, and we all agreed that the current situation is untenable. It did get me thinking because parents tend to bring up childhood memories.

"Why do parents push your buttons? They installed those buttons."

I had pet snakes, lizards, and the occasional tarantula, perhaps more out of my father's boyish glee than any real interest on my part, at least as far as the arachnids were concerned.

However, the snakes always interested me. I read about them, caught them, kept some as pets, much to the chagrin of other family members, and I still have an abiding sense of marvel at the scaled reptiles in general, plus I've added several other animals to my list of critters to watch.

For a while, "Snake Medicine" was very powerful and the local snakes were totems for me. A good, strong signal, and the results were invariable. Good stuff, simply put. Changes, sure, but good stuff nonetheless.

But lately, there's been a lot more snakes. I can safely identify most of these, like, it's almost as if they all come from the same family, same kind of scales, same patterns, probably same species, genus, phylum, and so forth, right on down to the subclass and genre.

However, even like the last time I saw one, I was standing on a stump, looking over a cove, fishing my little heart out, and this one guy came up close. Close enough to touch. He was a good three feet long. He saw me, I saw him, and he froze in the water. Then he swam on around me and my location, on into the shore's brush.

Now, I'm pretty sure he was nothing more than harmless constrictor, and not a very large one at that. Not being enough to inflict any damage on me. But there's still the visceral reaction, "Snake!" Followed by quick steps in the other direction, or the sound of some heavy object being repeatedly bounced on the snake's current estimated location. Hit it with a big stick or rock, right?

The head, on that one snake, was an isosceles triangle, not equilateral, and the eyes were visible above the elongated jaw line, hence, a pretty good indication that the snake carried no poison, as the pit vipers (copperhead, water moccasin, and rattler) all share certain characteristics, easily noted by their triangular head, eyes that are not visible from the top, and various markings.

Now, I read a great deal - perhaps too much - into seeing certain critters appear. Probably too much time spent around the flakes in my business, the new age seers, "professional mediums," and worst of all, the folks who help themselves to a portion of the native aboriginal culture without embracing it all. So totems mean something to me, but the snakes are occurring way too often and that's diluted their meaning, for me.

Like that one, when I was on the stump, fishing. I'm pretty sure he was harmless. But that didn't lessen my native instinct to strike. My rational brain went into over-ride mode, and I kept from making any sudden movements, the better to observe nature. I wanted to be sure that the snake wasn't going to either take my lure or my fish.

Pit viper poison is rarely fatal, due, in part to modern medicine and anti-venom that works like it's supposed to, plus the pit vipers usually only attack when there is no other option.

Except for water moccasins. Those guys can be just plain mean, especially when they reach full adult size. Easy to spot, though, usually black with faint traces of pattern on the back, and the older ones have yellow belly, as compared to the more white bottom scales of a regular snake.

On that stump, in the pre-dawn twilight, suppose that snake had decided to help himself to my position, what would've been the outcome? The butt of the pole I was using is fairly heavy, good chance it would've been aimed for his head.

Moral? Don't bother me when I'm fishing.

Stops along the road
Read this late at night. The press release.

Several stops are required. One must always stop and gawk at certain roadside art. Like Stonehenge II, the Cadillac Ranch, the boot farm, the frogs on Carl's Corner, and so forth. Then, there's the requisite Dairy Queen stops, the occasional foray (no purchase necessary) into the tinier Wal-marts along the way, personally, I usually hit the hardware, feed & seed stores, plus any fishing stores, and then local taco stands. Those are good, too. Plus discreet inquiries about where to find a decent chicken friend steak and good, local BBQ.

But the other stop that should really be required, even if one is just passing through Texas? Check out the basic roadside rest areas, and, if you pass a "highway information center," those can be a wealth of information. There's one on the interstate just around Amarillo, highly recommended.

There's carousel after carousel of brochures. Local attractions. Local motels with various themes. The help can usually direct a wayward tourist to some local attraction that's really, well, almost, okay, sometimes, pretty interesting.

How else are you going to find Hotel Earle (motto: A Day or a Lifetime)?

Feast Day of St. Thomas More
Notable because he was both a lawyer and a saint?

But this is, ahem, rich?

Which begat a fact-fnding mission.

I was approaching the downtown post office, and I nodded to a lady walking the other direction. In my hand was a tiny cup of espresso and my shirt. My hair was back in a bun. We passed, then, at the same point, we both turned around. Me? For the obvious reason, maybe. Her?

"Kramer? I thought that was you."

We chatted for a spell, she made another offer to let me use her pool atop the high rise, and the conversation meandered around to another topic, "So all those people were saying that you were 'psychic'."

Which brings me to another point. Which I mulled over BBQ after a swim in the creek. "Psychic." Nope, but then, what it is? An innate understanding of the metrics of the heavens, being a little unglued in present reality, and being able to leap forwards and backwards - with respect to those metrics.

More than once, actually, quite often, I'll mention a date to some one, suggest it was time when "something" happened, and I'll get that look of incredulity, "Wow! How did you know?"

It's actually based on the scientific location of the planets - or more simply - heavenly bodies, like the Sun, the Moon, but all that chatter about planets and degrees, or so I've found, isn't very interesting. But the results of that planetary movement, that is interesting. Therein is the distinction, too. Nor, for that matter, ever am I right, like 100% of the time. Sometimes, I'm guessing one way on an influence, and it shows up opposite.

But often as not, I'll hit a date, or time frame is more likely, and I can discern a trend. Or suggest a trend. Looks like voodoo, and more than one of my buddies will just roll his - or her - eyes when I start in with the 'what's your birthday' commentary.

You want a real psychic? I can suggest a couple of local girls, but no, I'm not one of them.

Trim the library
Pick 100 books you can't live without. Tough call. Probably impossible for me.

But imagine that you saw the perfect trailer, an ideal new home, and the only problem was it was just a little shorter than where you currently live. The bathroom was big enough for a real shower, the bed was a decent sized full bed, and kitchenette was gas-powered, plus it folded out and slept two, so the whole thing could, in a friendly state, sleep six. Three couples, more or less.

The single problem is with space. There's not enough. Or there is, but not quite. So I figure the little cupboard over the front "couch" could hold about 6 or maybe 8 feet of books. Pick carefully,. Reduce my library by 80% or even 90%. Which books would I take with me?

Edward Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang (and Hayduke Lives)
Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker Trilogy
Rudolfo Anaya's Albquerque's series.
Ray Bradbury's works, most of them, anyway.
The Kinky Friedman canon (mostly in hardback)
William Gibson's canon (mostly in hardback)
RAH collection
Joe R. Lansdale's collection
Cormac McCarthy's canon, at least the Pretty Horse Trilogy and the fabulous Blood Meridian
Geoff Nicholson's Bleeding London
Marge Piercy's poetry and He, She and It
Robert Rankin collection, just about all of his books (about half are good British hardback)
Rutherford's London
Shakespeare: complete works
Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead
Alan Steele's "near space" series
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Diamond Age, Cryptinomicon, Baroque Cycle I,II,III
Bruce Sterling's works, at least the last half dozen novels he's put out, as they can't be left behind
Walter Jon William, two or three of his, including Hardwired and The Rift

Lit Crit is a tough one, Handbook to Literature, both versions V & VI, New York Times Manual of Style and Usage
Bloom's Shakespeare
Various other lit crit books, as need be, too

Astrology books? There are very few that I'd bother with besides an Ephemeris and Hand's Planets in Transit.

The more I look thought, the more I realized it's damn near impossible to make so with fewer books in my library.

Dallas, a little longer
Saw Comedy of Errors on the opening night. The Dallas Shakespeare Festival's version of the play was carried, in my mind, by the two twin man-servants - who get railed upon rather frequently.

Not that being beaten, repeatedly and soundly by my master, is common experience these days, but I do heartily agree with the feelings.

Ma Wetzel was railing about, "You are a sexist pig. You weren't raised that way, I know you weren't."

Oh but I was.

"Oh you're the worst. No, your sister is the worst. You just print stuff that I never said, but she has them act it out, or prints it in the program…."

Not sure which is worse. Talk about getting railed upon.

Saturday night was simple, go to a play with Pa Wetzel. Sunday was a little more complicated. First there was the before breakfast coffee, as I was facing dueling coffee-makers, Ma & Pa.

Each one made a fine cup of espresso, topped with appropriately frothed milk.

"Don't you want to go for swim? How about walk? I need to walk while it's cool, but you're here, so I can't walk."

Breakfast, then a post-breakfast meal, then some more coffee, and we all looked at the newspapers, then I was given a huge stack of material for the London-Paris trip, plus details on how to manage my sister.

I explained, in great detail how this is all worked out, ahead of time:

"Sister is the youngest; the hotel has two beds; I get one bed, the Leo gets another bed; Sister is on the roll-away."

We opted for a quick trip, early Sunday afternoon, to the newly opened Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field.

Two cool displays really stood out, one was a Huey Helicopter. That would be a Vietnam-era helicopter. Like the ones on MASH, only, for real. A later generation. Originally intended as a air-evacuation for injuries, there was a lot more history in a single aircraft.

There was also a real F-16, a 1978 model. No motors, and I couldn't climb around on it, but it was strange to see it up close.

And the real Apollo 7 capsule. I don't recall the details, but it sure looked like parts of it were held together with chicken wire (visible parts of the heat shield). So that's three.

Four: the early airplane that was built in Temple, TX. Temple Aero, I think was the name - the picture didn't turn out.

Hopped back in the car, made it on homeward. There was one quick stop, Carl's Corner, for one more picture.

I was going to run this as a trivia question, and I might still.


It's the bottom two images. Dancing frogs on top of Carl's Corner. What's the connection between those frogs and Fishing Guide to the Stars? Points are given for creativity, originality, and, of course, a right answer. E-mail is on the main page.

Dallas, the short version
I got in. It rained. Some things never change.

Life is short
Eat Dessert First (Amy's dictum)

Got an early wake up call for Saturday morning, off to Dallas for an overnight visit to the folks for Father's Day.

Friday morning, I settled in with some more horoscopes, then I looked at what I was working on, and I thought about it, looked at the clock, and decided that a quick hike and bike trail excursion that left me at the correct destination was in order.

I was hoping I could get by the creek for a cool-off dip, but apparently I'd cut my time a little short.

But sweating in the afternoon sun, cruising along, a stack of astrology charts in hand, I was figuring life was pretty good. As I headed up Congress, towards Jo's, I discovered that the construction project was still underway, and I had to use the other side of the street. The Amy's side. So, I followed my own advice about "life is short, eat dessert first," and fetched up a little Mexican Vanilla. Back across the street to a crowded Jo's, and I poured the ice cream into a double shot of espresso.

From there, we decided that the cool AC at Zen was a lot better than the heat, and I really did want a little raw fish appetizer, so I had dinner, a reading, and their version of ceviche. Or, as I prefer to call it, owing to our Central Texas language mutilation policy, "Servichie."

I was casually fielding client calls later in the evening, and one perspicacious Aries asked, "Are you fishing right now?"

Well, yes, I was. The cordless stretches out to the river, if the battery's full. I must look a little weird, fishing and talking into the air, but for me? Life is good.

News you can use:
Promiscuity gene indentified?

Or maybe news that you can't use.

Pursuant to that train of thought, or one of them anyway, Kinky Friedman's Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned? Page 83, beginning of chapter 12:

"No creature in this world is more smug and satisfied than a writer having written."

I didn't write much, but I was working when a certain red-headed Capricorn enlisted me to help shuffle her vehicles around. She bought a new trailer, she's stayed here at Shady Acres twice, and I've failed to keep up with all the coming and going, the events that lead to a trailer in the first place. So I spent the better portion of my afternoon in Buda, at Camper Clinic, watching, looking, listening, and for a moment, having a flashback.

She was getting her towing rig adjusted. Or something. So I wandered the lot and thought about a new house.


They had one on sale, only $34K, down from 44, I think is what the sticker said. It had the nicest layout, and if I could only trim my library…

Check out the Airstream in the bottom picture. That was there, at Camper Clinic.

But that's not the flashback, the flashback itself was another image. When I walked into the shop portion of the place, it was that smell, that appearance, an open-air steel building, garage doors on three sides, open. Chaos, except, there was a sense of order in the confusion. Three different pieces of equipment were in various stages of being rebuilt, modified, or "made ready."

The shop, its disorder, the shop foreman, kindly, smiling, jovial, good-natured & good humor. It felt all so familiar, being there on the Texas plain, listening to the shop talk and background noises of wrench, hammers, saws, grinders, air compressors, all making a little melody. Suddenly, it was as if I was in a familiar place, all over again. Took me back to a shop in Ft. Worth, a shop in Dallas, a shop in Austin, in the summer's heat, a foreman of sorts blustering in, a salesman checking on a new unit about to be delivered, and it was as if all was okay in the world. For a brief, shining moment.

We had some lunch in the back office, a spare waiting room, and I sat in there for an hour, reading a book I'd brought. With one ear, though, I was listening to the salesman's chatter.

"No we didn't get than one funded, like I said, you should always take a back-up offer on anything."

I made it home in time for Bubba Sean and I to venture forth unto Sandy's for an evening's repast. He got a giggle out of the much put-upon-by-our-antics girl in the window, "Kramer? He's like this when he's not on his medication."

He stole that line, but I was kind of amused.

I was stuck in the mine, most of Wednesday.

The "Mine," in my case, at least the way I see it, was all the work that goes into a horoscope. Plus, I was a little stuck for ideas. I've been reading, and been gentle amused by, Kinky Friedman's Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned. The story itself starts to be about a down and out writer who has writer's block. Something I've not succumbed to lately. But I was stuck, and I can easily blame that novel, so I had to dip into my notes for adequate inspirations.

I keep a running list of ideas, concepts, vignettes, bit and pieces of prose that don't belong anywhere just yet, and I flip through those files to find something that works. Like Xmas lights on a truck in West Texas during the holidays. Or like the sunrise backlighting Ocotillo as the leaves change to Autumn's color. Sunrise over the lake, as seen from the prow of a bass boat. Now that's a special sight. Sunset backlighting Sandy's neon. The smell of hot cooking grease on a summer's night.

So I was mining the memories, looking for something. Not bad place to be, either.

I've just been struck since the Moon was in Taurus then Gemini, by the number of folks who actively fulfill my observation and prognostication that folks seem to get really cranky during the last phase of the last quarter moon.

I didn't let it get to me, but I was hard at work, from basically seven in the morning until five in the afternoon, turning out a column. Then there was also some production work that needed to be attended before the scopes roll over at midnight.

On top of that, I had to sneak in a nap with the cat, pet the cat, brush the cat, feed the cat, and I had to try my hand at losing bait on snags in the river. Plus, last night, I had a reading to attend to, up the street, just east of here. So that's 7 in the morning until 5 in the evening, with two breaks, then another two hours' work, plus I had to fit in some lunch (ate while typing) and dinner (ate while reading).

The key to happiness? I enjoyed just about every minute of it. I don't care if the moon is doing whatever, or Saturn, or whatever planet it is, I'm happiest when I'm doing what I want to do, even if Venus is retrograde, the trick is to enjoy toiling in the mine.

Two-Meat Tuesday
It's an interesting job, that's the least I can say.

I was trying to work a set of chopsticks from a "fire in the belly" bowl of vermicelli, talk on the phone, and relate my impressions, all at the same time.

A regular astrology client phoned about a particular piece of Austin real estate, and I was asked to do a "walk-by." Which, I suppose, is kind of like a drive-by, only, I do my version at a much more relaxed, almost sedentary pace.

I rambled past, took a couple of pictures, leaned up against the building and for the life of me, I couldn't detect any "ghosts."

"So is this billable time?" I asked, around a mouthful of food.

"Look: if I get this deal, you've got a free office as long as I've got it."

I can work with that. Now, let me look at the charts and pick a good time to make a binding offer on a building…..

The ghosts? That's one of the most effective marketing tools I've ever seen. Say that the property is haunted. There's absolutely no way to verify that data. None whatsoever. Yet, in old buildings, it rather easy to prey on the superstitions that abound, and it's easy to work folks into a frenzy. I've seen it done before. Austin, its self, is ripe with such tales and folklore.

"Yeah, it's haunted building. But it's a friendly spirit."

I saw Richard III at the Shakespeare's Globe last fall. It was an amazing production, and seeing as how I was sitting in the top of the theatre, I was rather pleased to find that the players played to the whole crowd. Plus it was an all-female cast. Pretty amazing show. Perhaps one of the very best versions of Richard III I'll ever see, and that includes, just for comparison's sake, Sir Ian's version on stage at the National.

So in the April 25 copy of the Time's weekly supplement, there was an article that was forwarded to me, all about Shakespeare's Globe, and one comment was that the Richard III all-female production wasn't very good. Or something to that effect. I don't know which critic, or critics, blasted it, but from a deconstructionist point of view, it was a brilliant show. Two shows on that trip stood out. Midsummer Night's Dream (all male cast, the Queen of the Fairies with broad shoulders, masculine chest and five o'clock shadow did not deter from the performance, in an off-Broadway West End theatre). And that Richard III.

Ah well, yes, I understand what it's like to be an outsider in one's chosen business.

Today is the feast day of St. Vitus, according to one calendar. What horoscopes are for, according to one comic strip. Backlash and forward-lash, according to what's happening.

I was poking through my own report. In a reading last week, I received the kindest feedback I've had in a while, about the transit reports, in effect, what was said, is the transit report I peddle, my "goods for sale," is obviously done in my own voice. Plus it's not just rehashing some other person's book.

It's not like this now, but when I first got underway with this endeavor, blinding forging where I'd never been before, I discovered that approximately 90% of the astrology reports for sale were all generated with the same software. Therefore, all the words were the same.

The reason I was poking through my own report, curious as to what was happening, I ran into somebody on the street. I didn't get a friendly "hello," all I got was glare. I read a lot into that simmering, glowering look. Harkens back to a time when I was doing property management part-time.

For some reason, that dark, foreboding, simmering gaze saddened me a great deal. Northing I can do about it. I can recall a portion of the astrology chart, things should be a looking really good, almost any day now. Except for a pesky emotional instability. But that's not my problem.

Since I never had a chance to follow up, there wasn't an opening in that glower, I was left with what my imagination could fill in. Following that train of thought just leads to a train wreck. Derailed my thought for the rest of the afternoon.

Looking at major transits, not the little machinations of Mercury and his ilk, I find myself back at one point, and I tend to forget what's happening to me. Every high is associated with an emotional low, or exacerbated by, this one transit that I'm processing my way through.

So I spent a portion on Sunday evening, poking through astrology charts, astrology texts, and I finally gave up. Monday noonish, I was meeting with a client for a chart discussion, and I found a similar placement. Just one degree of difference, but the feelings, the events, the situations all had that similarity.

I slipped in "astrology consultant" mode, and went to work. Afterwards, I wandered off towards the post office, downtown. Seeking a little solitude, I'd meandered along the train tracks, heading my direction.

I've never crossed the river on the railway bridge. Usually, I'm on the hike and bike trail, and I much prefer the convenience of the pedestrian overpass. But I did stop, and pause. The "no trespassing" sign beckoned like a giant neon sign. I thought about that transit report, the simmering look, the way I was rubbing folks the wrong way. I slid down the rocky ballast to one side and took the more pedestrian route. Safer. No sense in pushing my luck. Have to admit though, it sure is tempting, a direct route, right across the river....


Good luck
"No, see the Blue Heron? Try fishing here."

"Whatever. You're the fishing guide." (Accompanied with a great rolling of the eyes.)

"The actor may plead pardon. I’ll none now:
Give me mine angle; we’ll to the river: there,
My music playing far off, I will betray
Tawny-finn’d fishes; my bended hook shall pierce
Their slimy jaws…."
(Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra)

(the rest of the story is in this week's audio file)

I got nine out of ten.

Time to read up on what's coming up. I was busy trying to explain why I like to have handle like this on the upcoming shows I've already bought tickets for.

Tex-Mex & more
Glad to report that Chuy's - the original Chuy's - the first place that started the chain, is the same. Prices have gone up since my last visit, or so it seems. But the food was good, plentiful, and moderately spicy. Plain Tex-Mex, the way it's intended to be served.

Funny commentary and why this is called a web-journal. Or rather, doesn't subscribe to any taxonomy.

More on books:
It's a massive tome, masquerading as historical romance by an author originally noted for Science Fiction. But once it gets up and reads, like, I'm ready for its sequel, the third (or fourth) part. Depends on how you number the books. Could, arguably, be the fifth I'm waiting on, now.

At heck with it all, I'm going fishing.

Weird dreams
Up out early on Friday morning, only to read the weather - as in gaze at clouds - not computer screen - or radio - or printed forecast - and decided against fishing. I worked for a spell, then lay down for a quick nap.

In the nap, the guy I'm supposed to go fishing with on Sunday, he's moved. New house, him and the wife - the wife's a darling, precious Pisces - and house with a trap door all appear. Then there was crocodile. It came up through a trap door in the floor, as it turns out, the house is over a body of water, and that water is really good for fishing.

Weird dream, right? But wait…. The alligator turns into an elephant, and the elephant swallows my buddy up whole. We call 9-1-1. While waiting on the paramedics, I unsnarl some more fishing line, cast out once, and then go back to the scene inside where the elephant is being held in place by the frame, and somebody else has the creatures ears pinned back, which then makes the elephant yell, and the hat & feet of my buddy are visible. Swallowed whole.

"Are you going to get me out or what?"

"We're working on it! Help is on the way!"

The paramedics unlimber their gear, another goes back to the truck to get mega-anesthesia for the elephant, and it all works out.

Somewhere, too, in that dream, I caught decent bass.

The meaning of the dream? It means I took an antihistamine Thursday night, drank some coffee Friday morning, and I've been reading the last couple of hundred pages of Confusion, which includes, alligators and elephants.

No conlcusions. Sex, drugs, and rock & roll do this to the mind in the wee hours of the morning.

Hike & Bike Trail
All the mile markers I could find. Interesting point? These are all shot in the last week, meaning I've covered the trail end to end. Proof of concept, I suppose.

I realize 8.5 miles of mile markers isn't really that interesting, it's more like a milestone for me. It's sort of like looking at my living room, or front porch.

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Sagittarius & riding high
I woke very early Thursday morning for the expressed purpose of fishing. I cast out once, saw that the river was muddy as hell, decided I didn't want to do any carp fishing and settled in to work.

I fixed a subscription problem. Microsoft - in their infinite wisdom - fixed something that wasn't broke, but I had to fix something that their fix broke. Plus, I'm still trying to play catch-up on horoscopes, so there will be plenty of material when I return. Or while I'm gone. One of those.

I figured, since I was up early anyway, a swim in the creek would be a good idea. But the creek itself, plus the pool, was filled with murky, muddy water, flowing at a precarious rate, so I just decided that I'd shoot on around the trail the long way. I'd been meaning to gather up pictures of all the mile markers, and the apparently cool morning seemed perfect. Only it was humid. Not humid like Austin is humid, but humid like Houston is humid. Sticky. Undaunted, I did gather up pictures from the other end of the lake, and I do have a fairly complete set. I'll put them up tomorrow.

When I'm visible on Riverside, which means I'm on that two-mile stretch between mile marker zero and mile marker 8.50. All the pictures were done in the last seven days, too. I'm impressed, but then, I'm easy to impress.

A couple of mile markers are missing, but there are enough pictures to prove "I've been there." Besides, 8.25, 5.25 and 5.50 all mark good fishing spots. Wouldn't want to give that away.

Of course, Thursday noon, I detoured up Shoal Creek, popped in the post office, then grabbed some coffee, and finally wound up at the print shop.

I was chatting with the guy behind the counter, we were both bemoaning how hard it is to find good help these days, and we share a birthday. Plus a couple of other funny coincidences. Same number of ex-wives. Love of fishing. Complaints about taxes. Graduated college, late, almost the same time. On his card, his favorite movie? Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. (A DVD I own, one of very few.) There were a couple of other similarities. Plus, he cut me a sweet deal on business cards, lower than the estimate.

Venus is backwards in Gemini, opposite us. Doesn't slow down the good times in Saggitarius.

Two meat Wednesday
Just doesn't work. No alliteration. Weird Wednesday, now that's a better title.

News on Camera Phones - obviously a dangerous tool. See:


This computer showed up in the mail, some time back, offering from one of Greg's minions. It was, at its time, more than a decade ago, a pretty cool machine. Sort of, anyway. I had a Mac SE/30 and since that one was like a Macintosh clone between a standard Mac SE and a Mac IIx or Cx, I called it a Mac SE/x. My old computer carcass has moved on to fredlet's collection.

I was wondering about was to turn it back into a useful machine. Something's broke, and it won't boot from anything I've got, hard disk, floppy, magic "fix anything computer" disk, none of the old stuff I've hung onto for I-don't-know-why reasons.

Case, computer mods like this, or purveyor's like this.

Apple released some new models this week, including a top-end water-cooled whatever. I'm not about to water-cool that baby, but whatever it gets will include a fan of some kind.

I suppose I should start under the hood, which is why I liked working on most motorcycles, as my type of bike never had any plastic hanging off to get in the way of motor parts, just bare engine, right there.

I can scavenge a motherboard someplace, then I'd have to either fit a new screen of some kind into the case, and here, I'm thinking an old color laptop screen might be perfect. What color to paint it? Maybe metallic color, run a set of make-believe rivets up one side, make it look like something that came off a space ship?

Two-meat platter
Back to the movies, Selectric typewriters, unrelated book notes.

Paramount. Saw the predecessor, the purported source material, for Stars Wars. It was a film called Hidden Fortress.

Chip tipped me off about the film,; he made a passing comment the other afternoon, and his comment piqued my curiosity. I added the feature to my list items to do on an otherwise unoccupied Tuesday night.

It's an epic masterpiece, I'm sure, plus it's loads of fun, and then there's an undercurrent to the tale, a hint at dignity, honor, and I still don't get the bit about the princess in the story.

I have a very limited exposure to Eastern material, about half of it is limited to mystical tracts, and Zen tales. Other than that, and everything has been in translation, I can't say that I'm well-versed in Eastern thought, or traditions. But there's a hint, a point where honor plays part, and that's something that seems to be missing. A point where one honors one's foe.

Unrelated to much of anything:
Trivia for typewriter enthusiasts.

Book notes:
Confusion by Neal Stephenson. I'm about halfway through it, and it's a ripping good yarn. Plenty of twists to this plot, although, none of it comes as that big of surprise, as it's carefully crafted. However, I had a word I was going to use to explain a Jupiter phenomena, and I thought I'd check that the word really exists. I enjoy the way the author has taken liberty with language, and the actual definition of the word varies from the way the character uses it in conversation. Adds a whole different level of meaning to the passage. Sly witticism by the author. Too clever by half. If there wasn’t lots of sex, damsels in distress, gore, and usurpers being usurped, don't know that I'd be reading it. However, I do find this one even better than its predecessor.

Birthday girl
I was sorely tempted, when I rolled out of bed, to call Sister to wish her a happy birthday. 5 AM my time is like, what, 3 AM on the Left Coast?

I pocketed worms, grabbed a pole, and headed down to the waterline. The LCRA was playing games with my fishing schedule. Obviously, they were anticipating a lot of rain, or planning on cleaning the lake's shoreline. The water level was down, almost 18 inches lower than it had been the night before.

Town Lake (auspice of the Lower Colorado River Authority), sometimes river (Colorado River), runs through downtown Austin. Shady Acres is the only trailer park located on its shores. Less than a mile from the State Capital. Yee-something-Haw.

Makes a great fishing laboratory. But a sudden change in water level, nominally it's a constant level lake, really interferes with my fishing practice. There was a fetid smell, redolent in sulfur and decomposing material, rolling off the shoreline.

NASA info about Venus.

Even more unrelated:
Map of London for future reference. Can you see where I'll be? It's right there.

Even more unrelated than anything else:
I finished up a horoscope, looked at the chart, and I got into a cereal mode. So I wrote the next week, for that one sign, and it dovetailed right into the week I was working on. I just love it when that happens in such a seamless fashion. Of course, that also means that no one will get it - but that's not the point. It tickled me. Now I'm wondering if I can get a running metaphor and stretch it out over three weeks?

Carpe Diem
Rolled out of bed early on Sunday morning, grabbed the pole and a pocketful of worms, and headed down to the waterline. Lake was down, trash (organic and inorganic) from the recent rains was floating along, and there it was. That same old carp. I'd recognize that fin anywhere. I half-heartedly tossed a worm in the water, just once, but that carp was making waves and roiling around in the floating debris. Think I'll skip fishing. Carp are a good sign that the bass ain't hitting.

Need seed?

Even more unrelated:
And here, I thought this was going to be about fishing.

Keep Austin Weird
Keep Austin Weird Department:


A baby buffalo. His name is Clyde. He's about ten months old. I was headed towards the post office - downtown. Sure, we have wildlife just roaming around. Home on the strange.

Shout out to The Fat Guy:
I stopped by the Texas Chili Parlor, up on Lavaca, or Guadalupe, or whatever the street's called. Just a half block or so south of 15th street. Too far north for my tastes. Except that the food's as good as ever, maybe even better.

New menus are usually a sign that the prices have gone up and quality has gone down. I don't recall if the prices have changed, but the quality is as good as I remember it. I ordered up a small bowl of Triple X Chili. It's real chili - no beans - and the side of the plate is covered with diced white onion and sliced jalepeños. Chunks of dead cow, good parts, from what I understand, floating in a thick broth, rich in chili powder and other spices. Big, meaty chunks of some kind of steak. Brisket, maybe. I put all the japs and onions in the chili. I also went through about two quarts of ice tea. Seemed the afternoon was turning out all right, off to a meeting....

Bumper sticker
Found in South Austin - but I'm not sure what it means. Irony, juxtaposition, or just straight up fact?


Speaks volumes on so many different levels. Or, with apologies, sometimes a bumpersticker is just a bumpersticker.

I got a query email from another local astrologer. Put me in a bit of quandary. I tend to link to items that I like, amuse me, or, like the advertising, linkage that generates income.

A few weeks ago, Bubba Sean stopped by the ole trailer with a pair of cigars, "Hey, Wiggy's has these on sale and they're good."

Drew Estate's La Vieja Habana. With tax, a box of 20 cost $36. Let me get out the calculator, that's less than $2 per cigar. An acceptable price. Better yet, the cigars are rather decent. Not a Cuban, nor is it anything really that fancy, but it's a good cigar. At a good price. My previous experience with Drew Estate's cigars had been less than wonderful. I hadn't bothered to finish the Acid brand cigar, so I was curious if these would fair any better. They do. Excellent fishing cigar.

Spent most of my evening reading a book, trying to get to bed early. Munching on leftovers. After a high mileage day on Friday, I was just too tuckered out to be bothered by much. Did dash of a quick scope update, then settled into the text. Ripping yarn.

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."
-- Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during World War II

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure."
-- Mark Twain (1835-1910),

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit."
-- Conrad Hilton

What was sad was I couldn't verify the Churchill quote via Quoteworld dot org. I've long since discovered that it helps to validate a quote's source before actually using said quote. There's a purported Einstein quote floating around on this site that's probably a fiction, just as an example.

I was going to go on and on about fishing and success. I woke really early Friday morning, and I was well on my way, the clock on the bank building said "5:25 AM, Temp: 79."

The bugs were fierce, especially flies and mosquitoes. Then the fish themselves, I could see them, but they wouldn't deign to do much more than sniff at my worm.

There was a pair of big bass girls, and my bait kept attracting their attention, but once again, they'd get up close, but not try at the bait. The way I see it, they didn't grow to that size by taking every worm that in drifts front of them.

I cleared a good seven miles, had a breakfast taco, and called it quits. But not before I had a chance to see a few more fish. At the furthest eastern terminus for the trail I was on, where the path, the lake and Pleasant Valley Road are all within a few meters of each other, there's a heavily fished spot. The sun was just clearing the trees, and the area was still shaded. A couple of more black bass swam up close to the edge, right where the shallow part drops off. As they flittered there, I unhooked the lure and gave it one more tentative cast. Sure enough, smart fish, they'd sniff at it, but not strike.

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."

Although, as a Sagittarius, I tend to like Mark Twain's words better, and I know that quote can be verified.

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure."

What's the measure of success? Number of fish? Makes me a loser. However, I was actually fishing for several hours, got in a long hike, and by that measure, I thought it was a rather successful morning. All depends on the measurement.

Tools and such
The latest toy.


Too bad it's not, like, exactly fishing season. Not that it's a bad time to fish, it's jut not an excellent time to fish.

Truly, one of my favorite Gemini friend, a darling, nay sterling, lass invited me out for coffee which then became her dog in the creek, and as long as the dog was in the creek, so was I, then it was off for some BBQ. And some live bait.

My next project, I think I want to start a ranch. A worm ranch. Yeah, I think I can get one going, I just need some shredded newspaper and manure. I hope the neighbors don't mind.

"Dude, how many pictures of that sign do you have?"

Bubba Sean and I were over at Sandy's for a light dinner. He was rattling on and on about an issue at work, and how he going to invoke several different faiths, just to get something installed.

Sandy's neon, at sunset, just about this time of year, is an amazing sight, While it was shaping up to be just such a sunset, we didn't manage to dither long enough. I mean, he was parked on the sidewalk. Thursday's special: burger, fried, drink for $2.79.
In the news...
Seems that the San Jose is opening up a branch office in Marfa, TX.

Which is cool. Been more than a year since I've been out there. And while I love that area, Marfa, Ft. Davis, Alpine, I never saw enough fishing to keep me happy. And since there's a giant migration headed in that direction, it's time to find a new button for the web page.

The legal question about the fineprint in e-mail. But I can answer that one, buried in my fine print, the ubiquitous End User License Agreement, anything that passes through the mail gateway is mine to use. The fact that I don't invoke that legality often (or ever, actually) or, for that matter, I tend to respect clients' confidentiality, has nothing to do with the legal issue. This danged ole interweb thang is getting to be fun.

And not in the news:
Was a walk to the post office and Barton Creek, which included a swim, and then, one of the worst scenarios I've ever faced: At one coffee shop, there's this Gemini barista that I like. Friendly smile, nice attitude. Plus there's her ever so much more so chatty work companion, another Gemini. But they were both working. At the same time. Really interfers with the "you're the best Gemini" line.

Then, a little later, I was crusiing along on a website, skimming an article, which lead me to another site. Which made me wonder, am I weird enough?

Straight from the phone-cam:
(I've got to work this into a PSA.)

Late night fishing report:
Cormorant or heron (?) with a toad.

Two-meat Tuesday
1. Sunrise
2. Troy: the movie

1. Sunrise was a little delayed for me, having to poke over the power plant in order to get to me. I donned the sunglasses I'd brought with me, snugged the cap a little lower, and life was good, getting better. The fish were hitting the surface, just not hitting my lures. I pulled out a cigar, fired that sucker up, and ruminated on the day, the serene beauty of it all. It's a form of meditation, or, rather, for me, I was wondering why the bass in East Austin didn't like my white worm. I remembered a water bottle, and as the morning wore on, I was thinking I shouldn't have bothered. By the end of the trek, a good six miles, I'd downed the water, grateful I'd remembered it. I just forgot the bug spray.

Over and behind the power plant, there's an inlet, full of hot water discharged from the plant. Had several "visual confirmations" that fish were there, and I had a couple of nibbles, but nothing to set a hook to. Then, while I was looking rather than fishing, I noticed some of the largest perch I've ever seen. I'm not sure if they were Redbeast or Bluegill, as it was still in the shadows, but at least one of them was huge, maybe more than a pound. Bigger than my hand. I quickly switched to a smaller bait with a tiny hook, but that no sooner fluttered down in front of the big guy and he took off for the murky depths. He didn't get that big without running from certain baits.

I encountered at least a half dozen walkers, joggers, and similar types. Everyone was friendly nodding saying, "Hello." Don't know what it was. Full Moon?

2. Troy: the movie. Way too much plot to muddle up the action. Yeah, the movie version doesn't really do justice to the story. Or its spin-offs and sequels, as I recall. But as a movie? Pretty nice way to kill some time. Entertaining, even. Although it doesn't - apparently - stick to the story, since the story was a myth in the first place, and maybe it's okay to bend the plot of a myth if it makes for a more dramatic telling of the tale. Still, as far as I was concerned, too much plot.

Charities. Check Give dot org and see what your charitable donation really does.

Perfect days.
Order and simplicity. Something like that.

Up early and fished out on the east side. Didn’t catch anything, but sure had me some fun, all by myself, just me, the fish teasing me as I was wandering along the trail, fish jumping and feeding, just not interested in anything I had in my pockets - or the end of the fishing line. I was thinking it was a pretty perfect day. If I'd just started a little earlier, I could've caught some topwater action. I was a few minutes late for it, the sun creeping over the horizon before I got to that special place. Still, I fished on top and then worked my way down through the water column until I lost a lure to a snag on the bottom. Except for not catching any fish, it was pretty perfect.


Until I hit the Congress Bridge. Much traffic, of the pedestrian sort, and there was some big event going, "Traffic will be blocked on May 31."

So I wandered on down to the First Street Bridge, figuring I'd just walk around the event. No such luck. I was stuck, wandering in and amongst throngs of folks, me with my fishing pole in hand, looking like some kind of a lost soul.

Late lunch - with clients - for a reading - at Bouldin Creek Coffee. Then I wandered on home.

It sure felt a lot like Planet Houston, middle of the afternoon, with humidity and temperature both hovering close to 100. A brief storm slashed through. Yee-haw! Rain, marble-sized hail, and sunshine - all at the same time.


(I've got to work this into a PSA.)

I'm so stoned
It was Sister, at 6 in the morning, calling me up to let me know that the painkillers were working.

Thank you for that information.

At 6 in the morning, a holiday morning, a holiday Sunday morning, her mental condition was rather amusing.

She'd had a lump removed, about the size of marble, and the whatever-the-hell she was taking for pain was certainly working. It was that high-pitched giggle, someone who's had a little too much to drink. Or think. Or consumed too much of something.

"I'm supposed to take two every four hours, so I'm taking one every two hours, right?"

"I can't feel my face," she was telling me, "I think I'll call someone else now. Maybe it was four every hour."

More giggling.

The higher mind, mathematics - this from a woman with a degree in Bio-Chem engineering.

At least I know she's got 24-hour, around the clock supervision. I'm thinking, maybe this is a good idea for most Gemini people.

A loaded Gemini, first thing in the morning, no problem for me, as I was fishing, and all I did was plug in the headset. I could talk for hours.

A couple of guys passing on boat thought I was a little weird, but I was talking on a phone, so it didn't matter.

Watching the way technology marches forward, I'm wondering, will we be talking into air some day? Phone so small, it fits in an ear cuff? How do you tell the crazy ones, just talking to thin air, from the other crazy ones, talking on a phone?

Which only leads....
Dream Sequence:
Some dreams are prophetic. Some dreams are just flat-out weird. I was driving a rent car in the Davis Mountains, and I stopped someplace to look at something. Near as I can recall, there's a rest area or picnic ground, between Balmorhea and Ft. Davis. Old CCC project, just a couple of picnic tables, rough rockwork, cute and picturesque as can be.

I stopped there, and I was thinking about taking a picture, plus there was a fishing pole in the front seat of the car I was driving, and apparently, I wasn't wearing a shirt. N.B.: sounds a lot like the morning's activities. Fishing pole, no shirt, drizzle.

So I met Jimmie Two-Feathers, and he was hawking goods at a bazaar, and I finally found a belt-buckle knife I had a while back. I didn't buy it, though, because, let's face facts, even in my dreams, those blades are more illegal - at least banned - and cause more headaches than just about any other toy.

Breakfast tacos, Gemini sister's call and coffee produce weird dreams.

It was a holiday for the fish. I rolled out of bed, full well intending to hit the trail and fish, and couldn't stir forth.

Went back to bed, instead.

Woke up to hear a neighbor, a crotchety old man, holler, "You kids get off my lawn!"

There's your flying car.

I got a pile of paperwork out of the way in the morning, and we picked up some more plants for the patio then fished until the wee hours, but the weather seemed to scare the fish off. While shopping, I'd wanted top pick up some chartreuse night crawlers, genetically modified worms. However, somehow, I managed to get out without snagging a dozen of the yellow-green squrmy things.

Going to try early fishing again, bereft of glow-in-the-dark worms.

Words words words
(It's a quote from one my favorite plays)

Pop vs. Soda vs. Coke - a definitive answer - and this map explains a lot. Compare and contrast the three main places I've lived, New Mexico, Arizona and Central Texas.

Other words: unexpected expenses.

Up at 5, hobbled over to the east side and fished for spell, no luck but I sure saw a lot of fish. Spotted a pair of five-pounders, in one spot, but they really turned their fishy noses up at my bait. Way it goes.

What's on the tube?
Watching Paint Dry.

Confusion by Neal Stephenson is the continuation of the cycle that arguably started with Cryptinomicon; however, Confusion certainly is preceded by Quicksilver.

I haven't done an estimated word count, nor, have I even bothered to look at the number of pages, or anything like that. I'm just guessing that the two books weigh in at about the same volume. Which is copious, to say the least.

Quicksilver took about forever for me to get into it. I think it took something like six weeks for me to read the book, and it dion't warm up - for me - until I'd trudged through the first couple of hundred pages. By the end of it, though, I wanted more.

When I first linked to Confusion, I thought I read that its publication date was September. So much for publication dates. I picked it up on my last trip through Dallas, cashed in a gift certificate from Sister.

I haven’t read much of Confusion yet. But from the opening pages, I was wrapped up again the story with its multiple plot lines, characters, and so forth.

It's one of two or three books I feel like I have to read before July's trip. Quicksilver included so much of its setting in London, and now, with Paris added as a possible side trip, I just figure I want to read as much material as possible to cover where I'll be. See if there are any new sights I haven't yet seen. It's that literary tourist thing.

So when the rain started last night, I curled up with the book, fully intending to go to sleep early so I can get up early so I can fish before work. Certain books, though, have a way of grabbing my attention.

Feast Day of Saint Bede
Bede the Venerable. Always did like that CoE material.

New presentation.

Even more much ado about nothing:
Two Texas authors in that link.

I was going back and forth with a sales rep from the Fort Worth Weekly. She was an Aquarius.

Aquarius: "We're not weird, they're just stupid."

Couldn't agree more.

A little later, I was downtown, taking care of some business, at a local print shop, I was soliciting a bid for business cards and enjoying the confusion resulting from my title, "Fishing Guide to the Stars." I got around to asking, the guy behind the counter? 11/28. Weird.

"Here. Let me pull out the PMS chart...."

We were looking at colors, and I could spec a color in web standards, just not Pantone Matching System. C'est la vie.

There's a new guy working at the convenience store. I wandered in, shirt in hand, and he told I needed to wear a shirt. 7 years, I've been doing business there, and this is the first time I've ever been told to wear a shirt.

Fish up. Ain't much to look at, but that's two for the week. So far.

Sorry to pander to the masses, but vote for xenon? (I hate being at the bottom of the list.)

Two-meat Tuesday
1. BBQ
2. The Code

1. Two-meat Tuesday's ribs were pieces of art. Real ribs, done right. Really right. I might've just been outrageously hungry, but the ribs were good. Brisket was a little dry, at least some of it, but the ribs outweighed the brisket, and really, is there anything in life that can't be fixed with a surfeit of BBQ sauce?

I ate while Bubba Sean typed. Between the entrée and the dessert, I stepped next door to buy some worms for fishing. Life is pretty good, BBQ, under the Texas sky, and some fresh nightcrawlers for fishing. Dead farm animals and live bait. Is there anything in life that can't be fixed with a surfeit of BBQ sauce?

2. The code - which also variously known as the guy code, the unwritten rules of brotherhood, and so forth. It was a Scorpio lad who first explained this to me, "See, good guy friends? They don't date your ex-girlfriend. Or ex-wife. It's just not done. Part of the code."

There's an extension to that, I've added, not out of a sense of loyalty, just out of a sense of wanting to see another day, about not dating someone else's current wife or girlfriend.

Plus, there was one Libra I know, and she explained, after I dated her, that I was now ineligible to date any of her friends. I suppose that's some corollary to the code, the female version. I wouldn't have thought about her addendum, except I ran into one of her astrological doppelgangers the other evening. Same nuances of behavior, same gestures, same astrological signature. Just a weird coincidence.

So Tuesday morning, I got one of those e-mails, in the story, in short, is that there were these two sisters, and the younger one was married - now divorced - from a guy who is basically, well, not a nice person. So he's on meds these days, according to the note, and he's also back, hitting on the other sister.

I think I'll work this into the Thursday Sagittarius scope.

Stubbed toe
I stubbed a barefoot toe on the curb the other afternoon. Maybe I cracked it or something. Lost a little flesh, not so much that I'd notice, but the toe is black and blue now, at least in places.

Which didn't interfere with fishing on Monday morning. Or catching a fish.

Nope, no picture, just caught one. Decent fish, but not a keeper. As if.

Ambled off into the night sky to meet a Pisces, not that Pisces, the other sweet Pisces. While I was waiting, I did the "what's your birthday" routine with the crew working at the time. Leo, Sagittarius, and Libra. What caught my attention was the 11/28 Sagittarius. Get your mind out of the gutter. Same date as mine, therefore, a 6 degree Sagittarius Sun. End of similarities, but fun, nonetheless. I like collecting Sagittarius charts - makes for interesting research.

Pa Wetzel called, while I was tossing a lure in the lake, long after the Sun, Mars and Saturn had set. He was just checking in, and he wanted to let me know, as a result of this week's Scorpio scope, Ma Wetzel was not talking to me.

"I never said that," she hollered in the background.

I explained that there are two theories about arguing with women. Neither way works, either. So, for the record, she never really said that. But I didn't make it up, either.

Broke the Mexican pattern Sunday night, after work.

Hopped on over to the Catfish Parlor, down south, for a change of pace. None of the crew I knew was there, and after a few comments from myself - I'm usually a jerk after working all day - the sweet Pisces interjected that she was glad she wasn't anything more than a friend.

Work was good. Not stupendous, but certainly not bad.

Thinking about my London trip.

I think I hooked the big girl bass again last night. Didn't land her, she shook the hook. But from the way she was thrashing, it sure looked like the same old girl in the same old place. Would've turned a good weekend into a highly successful weekend. Only thing missing was a fish.

Mexican Food
Had one of the best tortillas ever, along with some shredded beef for breakfast, Saturday morning.

Had some might fine Mexican food Saturday night, too. After we got done, I talked my Sagittarius into a quick trip to the sporting goods store, seeing as we were already "pretty close."

Then, while looking for some yellow worms, that what seems to work well, I took a client call. I wonder how it looks, wandering amongst the fishing gear, trying to explain that Venus is retrograde and Mars and Saturn are aligning in the night sky, in the Tropical zodiac of Cancer.

Friday five
1. Saturday and Sunday are work days.

2. Andy Kaufman returns?

3. Lunch with Devota was a rare pleasure. A little treasure of a spot in East Austin. English, when it was listed, was second. The food was amazing, too.

4. Dinner was with Greg, Pecan & Bubba Sean, a meeting, such as it was.

5. The signs. Interpret as one likes.

I'm unsure that everyone saw the same humor that I did.

Thursday's Three-Meat Platter
If life can be defined in terms of BBQ, then what does that make Thursday?

It's either silly, or rhetorical.

1. Download text files of some plays I hope to see.

2. Try and trouble shoot the subscription thing for a Leo.

3. Walk to the creek and go for a swim.

I also tried fishing, but that's two fish this week, so they weren't really interested in anything I had to throw at them.

We stopped at Zen to Go for some quick dinner. I was wearing a KISS t-shirt. Kid behind the counter, Capricorn, took a look at the shirt, "Dude, I was, like, at that show. I mean, I saw them on tour. I didn't know how important that was. I was, like, 15 years old."

I whispered to my Sagittarius, "Thrift store." That's where I got the t-shirt.

I may be out of line, but
It's a quote from a client, "I may be out of line, but why don't you write a book about creativity?"

It's not the first time that I've heard such a comment. Or something similar. Why don't you write a book about, insert a topic here.

I've got memories, dreams and reflections recorded here. Funny, but one of my side projects is getting Bubba Sean motivated to pull together enough of his material for a book. He's got something like 7000-plus entries, and I figure a couple of dozen would be a good book. He keeps threatening.

At nearly one in the morning, overseeing the web page transition to a new week, I was also busy hammering on another upcoming scope. See, the funniest thing happened today, and I, wait, I'll save that for the scopes.

But as I threatened, I finally pulled one year's worth of scopes into book format. Proof of concept, one year's worth of scopes run the length of a book. And I've been doing this for ten years. Planning on another ten years, too. Just the way I am.

I was intrigued by the comment, and I was thinking about it over a cup of coffee with a Gemini, yes, that Gemini, expertly poured by a Sagittarius.

Makes for an interesting digression, though. As long as it entertains me, I'm glad I lucked into this gig.

Two meat platter
Road cases & post offices.

Road Cases and the story of the suitcase, part uno.

I've owned a Zero Halliburton for most of my adult life. It's been with me on man adventures. Supposedly, it's small enough to be considered carry-on luggage, but the idea of horseing a suitcase through the airport is usually beyond me.

Ma Wetzel, a few years back, updated my suitcase collection with a similar item, except that it has those little roller wheels on it. More mileage. More dings. Finally, last weekend, on the way to El Paso, apparently, TSA broke one latch.

I'd bitch, but I'm not bothered by the idea of security checks going through my suitcase. Never has bothered me. I feel a little safer every time I have one of those little slips, a form, "Your luggage was (whatever it says, I never bothered to read it in its entirety)."

The funny part, according to that Zero Halliburton website? The only way get the latch properly repaired is to have an authorized service center do it. Again, according to the website, the only service center in Texas? El Paso. Just figures, don't it?

I rambled all around, the only free day I've got, and I stopped off at the post office, to mail off a series of tapes from phone readings, and a token of appreciation for my hosts in El Paso. When the postman asked me if there was anything harmful, fragile, dangerous, corrosive or radioactive in the packages, I smirked. Catnip? Tapes from readings? Harmful? Dangerous? I don't think he got the joke. I just smiled and said, "No."

Unrelated images:
New signage

Trail marker
For Town Lake Trail Foundation

The long and winding road
That leads to Austin?

Couple of points, from El Paso. I woke in the middle of the night, an eerie calm on the landscape, except for the glow of the TV. I stuck my head in the bedroom, the hostess was (probably) asleep, as I didn't investigate. But on the almost silent TV? Fish programs. "There, you got a fish!"

I was teased for this shot, but I like it.

When I woke up for good, later in the morning, rolled out for a shower and morning ablations, I noticed that there was a kitty toy in bed with me. I'm not sure the meaning of it. Margarita explained that the cat wants to play. I slept right through it. Unless it was some sort kitty pagan sacrifice to the almighty Kramer. It could happen.

Breakfast on the way with Bubba - alone - and we talked web pages as Ms. Grace will be getting hers running in a few days. Plus, we talked straight fishing and hunting. No BS, no girlie talk, no crap about signs.

Small world. Ran into another one of them Harris County heartbreakers, literally, a stately and elegant Virgo. Code name? Derringer. From the Honky-Tonk Heartbreakers. A roller derby queen. Thought I'd seen the last of the mean, tough girls when I left El Paso.

For all her brilliance (post-doc in bio-something), she didn't get the Midsummer Night's Eve reference to Pyramus and Thisbee while we talked between seats (Act V, scene I). She was sitting behind me.

I had a couple of emergency readings when I hit Austin. Weird how that works. But in between the readings, I did wet line and look what I fished out of the lake.

Local Venues
In the last decade, I've seen the inside of a number of motel and hotel rooms in El Paso. (El Paseo del Notre). With the latest venue change, back to a motel we were at a few years ago, the truck stop is less convenient.

However, Saturday morning, Grace and I did make it to the truck stop. I get teased about my predilection for this type of food, but the grub really is good. Plentiful, inexpensive and just plain good. Local color is an important part of travel.

For dinner, Saturday night, it was Jaxon's. again, a local chain and favorite. Big old beef tenderloin, and for some reason, it was just about the best I've ever had. Or so it seemed. With the two Leos, Grace and Bubba, and the two Sagittarius, me and Cookie, I think we should've been run out of the place long before we left. After a full day, it was all a little crude.

Sunday morning, this Virgo met us at the door to the Pastry Chief.

"You were wrong," she said, "April was good, but in May, I crashed my car, and I thought I was going to get another job, and move out, but I didn't get it."

Some days you win, some days you lose. Can't please any Virgo types these days, and what, with Jupiter in the sign, you'd think Virgo would be the happening sign.

Got myself in trouble for some three-way action at the fair. Late Sunday afternoon, three girls show up, Capricorn, Leo and Pisces. Deal was, they wanted one reading for all three. Business was a little slow for me, so it was a three-way reading. A little later, I was chastised by the reader sitting next to me because I had been carrying on at a loud volume, "Kramer, I just wanted to reach over and tell you three to get a room." At least they all had fun.

Tony with a bird on his shoulder. The audio file that goes with this is Tony saying, "Arrgh." Talk like pirate.

Tony and the parrot.

The rest of the story
The federal safety authority broke my suitcase. I've got a world-weary suitcase that has really wracked up some miles. For at least three or four years, I've lived out of that suitcase for months at a time. One hatch is broken, and the case is being held together with a bungee cord. Bought at the Wal-Mart in Las Cruces. After coffee.

The class worked out well for me, but there was basically only one student. The center had scheduled another event on top of me. Didn't hurt, I wasn't upset, just the nature of the business.

Friday morning, first thing, I'm getting out of the shower and I hear sirens in the distance. A few minutes later, Margarita (Pisces) asks if I heard the sirens closer? I don't know, after changing into formal wear for the day, I wander outside, the EMT & firetruck are two doors down. Don't know, didn't want to pester anyone.

When I showed up Friday morning at the center, I had zero bookings but a request for a reading from the director. So I step into the office, record a short reading, start messing around with next week's column, and forget all about no business.

Clients show up, money appears, I'm back at work. In fact, I was back-to-back until 4 in the afternoon, that's the way it's supposed to be. I like that.

From the center, it was over to the Bean for the previously alluded to cup of coffee, and from there, into rush hour traffic - such as it is - to get back to El Paso into time to....

Find the firetrucks in the neighborhood again. Makes it a hotspot?

We investigate, and there was - apparently - a pretty major house on fire, with maybe a dozen firetrucks out, and by the time we all got there, the paramedics had the rescued animals in hand. Somehow, I wound up hugging a cat, one who had been dosed with water and mselled like smoke. A pretty scared cat, with that drowned rat look - endemic only to wet cats.

So I made the news. At least I got flashed on the news, holding a cat.

The camera man walks up and tries to interview me, which I just turn around into a series of queries about him coming out on Saturday to for us to get some video publicity.

"Didn't you talk to the reporter about that? I just saw her here (Taurus). You know, she's the cute one with the Hispanic name, big brown eyes?"

He rolls his eyes. I'm obviously not a reliable witness.

Grace the Leo got air time, the Aries got air time, and even I got some air time on Friday's news. See, rescuing a kitty is a big deal. I didn't rescue a kitty, all I did was hold onto to one while the owners had their meltdown (it's allowed).

Made the news, too, apparently. I don’t know, I didn't see the TeeVee.

I kept bugging the camera guy, though, looking for that reporter. I'd run into her earlier, darling little Taurus, "Hey, are you guys in town this weekend?"

Sure thing. We'll be at the Howard Johnson's in the conference room.

We hung about the scene for close to an hour. The camera guy comes back up to me, starts an interview, and he just didn't get, not my house, not my town. "Hey," I asked, "where's that reporter? You know, that cute Hispanic one?"

He didn't get the joke.

So I was on TV, but not for work. I worked, but I've got a broken suitcase. Grace got a 15-minute "profile" on the news, Friday night, as well. And the Bean gives away packages of used coffee grounds, "Magic Growing Powder."

That Gulf Coast tale (or that gulf coast tail?)
Couple of years ago, I was working at an event on the gulf coast. In walks a young lady attired in not much more than a sarong and a bikini top. She was, as I recall, rather amply endowed. Attracted fair degree of attention at the event.

She came back later in the evening, more suitably clothed, and we left. Had some dinner, listened to a band a play, and I was back at the hotel, in bed, asleep - by my self - before 11 that night.

Next morning, when I was particularly well-rested, I received a great deal of chiding about why I was so well-rested. I tried to defend my honor and the honor of the young lady, but to no avail. The more I protested, the worse the ribbing. I just shut up.

So when my hostess and compadre, friend and confidante in El Paso wrote this, I figured the story about the monk who doesn't live like a monk (according to the rumors) would be appropriate.

Guest entry:
Of course he never writes about his Aries to the second power- yep Sun Aries, Moon, Aries. Anyway- ME, YES, ME his friend and Hostess!!!!! What gives Kramer?!?!?!?!

Which is why, I really do live like monk.

From the killer coffee shop in Las Cruces, Mesilla, actually:

Megan, Pisces Barista & Author
Close up of the bags
El Paso, TX & Las Cruces, NM.
But first: Waffle House. (part numero dos)

There's a certain kind of magic in a Waffle House. The old Kettle restaurant chain, as well as Sambo's, offered that kind of ambiance. The Lakewood Diner, it's got it, too. A new Waffle House lacks some of the true feelings, the background din, the visual wear and tear that's part of the way it's supposed to feel.

Waffle House in Henderson, TX. I wonder if it's still there. It was on the circle, if I recall correctly, a five-point intersection with highways feeding it. At a Waffle House? Order breakfast. Order breakfast that includes a waffle. Grits are optional, but I recommend them, as well.

The toast arrived, laden with slabs of butter smeared across the surface, that butter just starting to melt. The eggs - tough recollection here - are done to order.

There was another Waffle House, again, faint memory, between Dallas and Ft. Worth, along the old airport freeway. I remember laying a motorcycle down in the rain there. When I called a friend to come pick me up, "I'm at the Waffle House," was all I could chatter. Bike suffered a little, maybe a few skinned parts, and I survived intact, no loss - other than pride. There's another funny part of that story, about the rain and going fast, and the motorcycle slipped in a puddle and fell over. At 70 or 80 MPH. My rain suit is what saved the day. Cheap plastic rain suit.

Which has nothing to do with truck stops, or how good the food is at a Waffle House. Or the Scorpio food server. Tell her I said, "Hi."

Damn Scorpios.

I got panic call Thursday afternoon, from Pa Wetzel, "Are you okay?"

I was barefoot in the backyard, pontificating about plants (I haven't a clue + which doesn't mean I won't hold forth about the best way to do something even if I don't know what I'm talking about. So I answer, "I'm fine, why? What's up?"

They had seven inches of rain in College Station, which is sort of close to Austin; therefore, the parental units were worried that I was drowned. Or the trailer washed away.

College Station is downstream from Austin, so unless water flows uphill....

And El Paso, Las Cruces? Not a cloud in the sky.

El Paso, TX & Las Cruces, NM.
But first: Waffle House.

The new Waffle House is on the way to the airport. Only seemed right. One local luminary has written eloquent terms of endearment about the Waffle House. Being from east Texas, I'm familiar with he Waffle House.

I was trying to clear my palate and properly taste the waffle itself. But it was all good.

On the road again
Off to wondrous El Paso, southern New Mexico and other points.

Phishing as compared to fishing.

Gemini day: started with a call from a Gemini client, then that Gemini girl pouring coffee, then a Gemini at the coffee place, regaling me with a humorous tale about love gone astray. Get back to "el casa mobile del Kramer" and it was a quick web page update for? A Gemini.

Along the way, at the coffee stop, there was that Capricorn scooper from Amy's. The one with the really nice ink. She was kind enough to let me shoot a quick image of her tattoo.

Lone Star, Capricorn, Lucky Horseshoe.

Get chipped?
Fish tales:
By the time I got home, it was getting towards fishing time. Bubba Sean was in the trailer, doing something with a computer. A neighbor was out, fishing with shrimp. Caught two turtles.

I worked a topwater for a little while, then I switched out to the light rig, just one of those Chartreuse Senko's (5 inch). Bubba Sean came "down to the waterline." We smoked cigars, he told stories, he did the Gemini thing, emailed from his phone, smoked a cigar, and fished.

Then, she hit.

Tuesday Two Meat Plate
Which didn't involve the usual BBQ place, as the afternoon had other commitments. But the morning?

I got up early, fished, paged through the inbound mail, didn't see any emergencies, and I took a nap. Then I woke up again, started a fresh round of horoscopes, played online with the airlines as the free ticket thing wasn't giving me what I wanted. I selected a gift cigar from the humidor, affixed fresh bait (power lizard) to the end of the pole, and fished some more. It rained sometime in the morning. I puffed big clouds of cigar smoke out over the river, not expecting any success (but ever hopeful & vigilant), and marveled at the beauty of the leaden sky, the clouds of cigar smoke, the tranquility of it all.

The second part of the two-meat special, what got my motor running? While I was guilt-tripping Sister, an option to go to London came up, and I was poking around on the various airline sites, looking for a deal. Somehow, I wound up with enough miles on one airline to get a free ticket over and back. That looked great. Except.

1) My first spin through reservation suggested that I would have to leave Austin July 3, but leave Dallas July 4. At 6 AM. 8-10 hour layover in DFW, nice as airports go, but not my idea of place to crash for a few hours. Plus the flight landed in London's Heathrow (very convenient for Tube access) after the tube quits running for the night. Not good.

2) The flight back? When I started reading the fine print, the first leg flew into JFK (NYC) - arriving at 11 at night, then the connection to Austin flew out of LGA (NYC) at 6 the next morning. I may not be really hip on airport codes, but I sensed there was a problem there.

It took a call to customer service, thank Collette, and I might have some other options. Looks like I'll miss yet another 4th of July in Austin at Shady Acres. Looks like I can go to Paris for Bastille Day. C'est tres bein.

Moon slid on into Pisces and none of this looks less daunting now. Maybe I'll figure out that website.

Monday Mayhem
1. Apple's airport. Wireless. Whatever.

2. Miles. I was sorting through paperwork, and I discovered that I had enough miles for a trip to England. Sister will be there in July, according to her, "I teach a two hour workshop and I'll be there a week." So why don't I join her for a little time? Sounds doable. I can see the Jerry Springer Opera again. Plus there's a few plays on that I would like to see. Especially at the new Globe.

3. That Virgo neighbor owed me big time, so she came through, with some three-way action at Curra's. Cerviche for starters, Conchita Pibil for an entrée, and Tres Leches for dessert. Ever have a meal that you keep telling your self you're going to hate yourself in the morning? Yeah, it was one of those. If I talked to anyone on the phone afterwards, I'll just apologize. I wasn't exactly coherent.

Tech support & Toni Price
Funny bit about Toni Price, her real name?

I was clicking through after seeing Toni Price in Dallas, at the Sons of Herman Hall, also famous for REK's first album. In a bit of revisionist history, I was trying to place myself at the same place as that. Couldn't, but I was in the neighborhood at the time, if that counts.

Toni Price, her real first name is something else, took the name "Toni" from a hair care product. Stage first name, anyway. Good, good show, about two hours of her blues-based voice, singing that one song, which opens the heart. Good stuff.

Which lead to a groggy series of question from Pa Wetzel, tech support I never could answer "why," and I couldn't replicate the difficulty on my machine. Sound familiar?

We took Ma Wetzel out to the countryside for a picnic, but she couldn't help but make the occasional comment about our lack of direction, or wondering if we were going to leave her out there someplace.

Those Scorpio girls sure are funny.

Going through airport security? A guard stops, "Can I check your laptop?"

I'm always agreeable, but think about it, an attractive, armed woman in Dallas, asking to check me out? Of course!

I asked if I was really suspicious, and, as it turned out, she just wanted to fondle my Apple. Apple Computer, not me.

"Really honey, it was a just random thing."


At the airport in Austin? Pisces.

Everyone wants
To rule the world. Ah Dallas, what can be said that hasn't been covered before?

Ma Wetzel, as I was reading her a horoscope, said, "Kramer, that's not what people want, what they want is advice like, 'this is not a good day to kill yourself. Wait until tomorrow....'"

Must be a Scorpio thing.

Sister called for the required Mother's Day call. I had a chance to iterate and reiterate the fact that she wasn't here, and she shouldn't feel the slightest twinge of guilt for missing out on Mother's Day.

No pangs of guilt, nope. None of that. No guilt whatsoever. She doesn't feel the least bit guilty that she couldn't take time out from her schedule to pop on around to Dallas, just to bring a little joy into her dear, sweet mother's day. One day out of the year, but no, it's too much trouble.

"You get that from your father's side of the family."

In song. I just can't fly into Dallas without hearing Jimmie Dale's song in my head.

Thursday six-pack
Questions for you to ponder (these were pitched to me by the radio hostess - an mp3 of the show will be available soon enough):

1. What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Amy's Mexican Vanilla floating in a double shot of Jo's espresso.

2. If you could have talked the moment you were born, what would you have said?

"Quick! Look at the clock, what time is it? What's that make my rising sign?"

3. What is the next most important accomplishment of your life?

There's a bass, I've hooked her twice thus far, and I really want to haul her up a third time and get her picture. She broke 8-pound line, so she's a decent catch. Just for a picture, I want her to spawn next year, too. She's fought - and won - twice now.

4. What book would you have written if you could be anyone in history?

Neuromancer by William Gibson. - I was in college, and the book changed my world view - most important - though - there's an urgency and vibrant nature to the style of the text. Dark, foreboding. Alive.

5. What three people, living or dead, would you want to join for a meal?

William Shakespeare, William Blake and William Gibson

6. Which do you enjoy most, sunrise or sunset?

Sunset. No, sunrise when fishing. And if the fish are biting. Otherwise, sunrise is scheduled too early in the day.

Sunrise, on a lake, in a boat, having caught one fish already? That's the best. Otherwise, though, sunrise should be scheduled around a noon.

Some days just don't get any better than this.

I was on the radio - Cosmic Conversations 2nd thing in the morning. First thing was to wet a line a bit. Then I wandered downtown. I was making idle chatter with a Gemini, "You're my favorite Gemini," and she blushed lightly. I'd only told two other Geminis that before. That day. I was destined, as it turned out, to tell one more Gemini she was my favorite.

A neighbor wandered in, and he patted me on the back. I walked over to his table, a little worried that he didn't really recognize me with a shirt on, and we made idle conversation. He then allowed as how that astrology gig was all right by him.

From there, I wandered on home, dropped a little lizard on a finesse rod into the water and hooked up with this feller:


A couple of my neighbors were watching.

"See," I said, "I now have witnesses - I do catch fish here."

Finally, a Virgo popped around to the trailer and allowed as how I'd hit a situation right on target for her.

"You really are amazing."

Bagged this guy late last night, after class:


3 part harmony
Wednesday morning was a 2-cigar morning, as I was celebrating Jupiter, Cinco de Mayo, and completing a column on time. Then surfing, I found damn near the finest serial love story. Or something akin to that.

Starts here, then here, then .

My favorite bit?

"I replied that it could not possibly have been a date because I'd felt comfortable around him and enjoyed myself very much, something that never happened on actual dates."

I'm still waiting on part four.

Unrelated (from the in box):
> You have a great way with words -
> especially to those of us originally from
> the South ;).

Kind words are always appreciated.

> you cannot go to bass pro and shop for ma wetzel
> ..............absolutely not!!!

Well fine then. Some folks just don't understand the finer things in life.

Just links
The Fat Guy's b-day is soon, I think. He responsible for this link. "Austin is the new
Country Music Capital?"

But this about sums it all up.

Ten years in Texas.

Drinko de Mayo
What I heard.

Started the day on the trail, four-mile loop, two stops to fish, but alas, I was suffering from a Mercurial Hangover and before I left, I'd snarled some fishing line, which meant I was late hitting the trail, which meant I was late getting a hook in the water, which meant I didn't catch a thing.

My great revelation came as I was wandering far a-field, crossing south on the First Street bridge, the tip of my fishing pole was bouncing along by the row of stopped cars, all heading into downtown for another day of work.

I kept figuring, full moon and all, should be excellent fishing. Some days? The fish win.

Should be Two Meat Tuesday, which is what I did wind up having, by no fault of my own, as Senor Sean (best known alias? "Bubba") snagged me up for some BBQ.

Lunch was with a Pisces, and that became a quick shopping trip, as well. We wandered, in true fashion, aimlessly into a South Congress Ave. place. Food was good. Somehow, though, I don't think the "Flaco Plate" was really very skinny.

I was rambling on about this and that, over lunch, and I realized that part way through the morning, I'd neglected an important task: I forgot to author any horoscopes. I quickly set about correcting my over sight.

What's that quote? Who said it?

"There is no greater joy or burden than a pen?"

Back in the saddle (again)
Feels good, I suppose. But apparently the planets are up to no good.

Doesn't bother me, it's the full moon, and therefore, the fish should be just gobbling anything I throw at them. If only life were that easy.

I was in a sport goods store to grab a few more topwater lures, and I was looking for another bag of those "chartreuse worms," because, obviously, and despite logic, they seemed to work. Once. I asked the girl behind the counter, as she was checking me out, what her strangest question has been.

"we ask for the phone number, for the 'preferred customer' list, I don't know why, and this one guy, he gave me his number then said, 'Look, if my wife answers, just hang up.' As if."

As if, indeed.

National No Pants Day
File it under upcoming?

Part two of Jette's story from last year. Which was scary, as I couldn't - for the life of me - remember any details from the reading. I wasn't even sure if I saw her last year. Apparently, I did.

Funny thing, at most events, like a Psychic Fair, the population is mostly female, so at Devota's, before she ever got there, two guys show up. Just different.

Turnout was light, but there were a lot of activities, and while Saturday had been cold and miserable, Sunday there wasn't a cloud in the sky with the temp at a balmy 70 or so. Near as I can tell, a good time was had by all. I wandered out in the late afternoon and headed over to the Pecan Street deal. They were all but drenched from Saturday's storm, but the crowd was good. My Sagittarius friend guided me back to Jimmie's Fishing Jewelry.

Mother's Day, sure, I can get Ma Wetzel a piece of fishing jewelry. Same for Sister (Gemini), only, she needs two of that item.

When I finally got home, I was dog-tired from work and walking around the street fair. No canes for Pa Wetzel. Bummer.

I figured I'd toss a worm into the lake, just one more time. A seven-inch bass on a five-inch worm (Chartreuse Senko). Have to admire that guy. The hook harmlessly pierced his cheek, but after a few seconds of not getting the hook out of his mouth, I just bit into the line, and I pulled the line out the other way.

Catch and release, unharmed. Maybe he'll grow up and we can tangle again.

Here's one with no pants:

Freudian slip?
I was looking at the "paper" version of this journal, and yesterday's entry was dated "4/31."

I'm heading out for the afternoon at the Pisces abode, Casa de
Devota for her bi-annual psychic brunch.

"Yeah, well, it ain't what it was last time, budget cuts, you know," she was explaining.

No champagne, just beer.

Way it goes.

Cosmic tests
I was looking over some astrological literature - a report I made for myself - checking out what was happening in my own world.

I was a little worried, as a Gemini had alerted me to the fact that my world was going to be full of challenges.

The basic take on my astrological influences, a big one, is about a challenge, and whether I'm doing what I'm suppose to be doing, or if I should change.

I always figured a cosmic test like this would be about business, whether I should give up writing horoscopes or pursue a more traditional route, give up talking to clients and doing consultations, like, you know, get a real job.

The summary of the text, from that report, is that whatever it is that you're doing? That I'm doing? If it's the correct pathway for me, then there will be work, but it will be tough going. Tighten up the belt, bare down, bear down, too, and stay on course despite distractions - and challenges.

I was up rather early Friday morning, and I as I tossed and turned, I decided that I would just go ahead and walk the trail with a fishing pole, and try my luck. Four-mile loop, left before six in the morning, and I caught one fish. On a topwater. Damn fish wasn't much bigger than the lure. I motored over to the other side and tried my luck there. Not even a nibble, but the fish were jumping, well after the sun had officially risen.

Had a reading plus client calls in the afternoon, usual work-related material. So astrology work is going well. That challenge? Must be about stalking fish - chasing bass.

Cosmic tests
I was looking over some astrological literature - a report I made for myself - checking out what was happening in my own world.

I was a little worried, as a Gemini had alerted me to the fact that my world was going to be full of challenges.

The basic take on my astrological influences, a big one, is about a challenge, and whether I'm doing what I'm suppose to be doing, or if I should change.

I always figured a cosmic test like this would be about business, whether I should give up writing horoscopes and pursue a more traditional route, give up talking to clients and doing consultations, like, you know, get a real job.

The summary of the text, from that report, is that whatever it is that you're doing? That I'm doing? If it's the correct pathway for me, then there will be work, but it will be tough going. Tighten up the belt, bare down, bear down, too, and stay on course despite distractions - and challenges.

I was up rather early Friday morning, and I as I tossed and turned, I decided that I would just go ahead and walk the trail with a fishing pole, and try my luck. Four mile loop, left before six in the morning, and I caught one fish. On a topwater. Damn fish wasn't much bigger than the lure. I motored over to the other side and tried my luck there. Not even a nibble, but the fish were jumping, well after the sun had officially risen.

Had a reading plus client calls in the afternoon, usual work-related material. So astrology work is going well. That challenge? Must be about stalking fish - chasing the bass.

Inbound & haircut
Round a-bout, 4/29/04 3:50 PM, ya'll said:
> Sounds like a good plan for grocery shopping, but don't try to apply that
> logic to the liquor store. You get loaded before you go, you'll end up buying
> the whole store.

Sound advice.

Ma Wetzel, that darling and charming Scorpio, was in town and insisted on dinner. Works for me. She pulls up in front of the ole trailer, we exchange packages, as I'm sending Mother's Day stuff home with her, and she was dropping off about seven or eight pounds of newspaper clippings and her old New York Times Review of Books.

"I really want some vegetables, can we go to Threadgill's?" she asked.

Cool. She usually asks for some place with "linen," you know, white cloth tablecloth, napkins artful stuck in a long-stemmed water glass, that sort of place. A little out of my league these days.

We tuck into to some grub. Aquarius server. The conversation included, "You know, I had dream last night, I dreamed you cut your hair....."

"Wake up in a cold sweat?"

She had the vegetable medley, and she allowed as how the squash and greens were actually better than her own, "This really is better than home-cooking."

At one point, I looked up and Bubba Sean was there. He was delivering paperwork of one kind or another.

I fetched him over, and as one would expect, he was cultured and entertaining, plus he didn't use any harsh language.

Then, seeing as how it was Threadgill's, I paid for dinner. I don't know why that amazed Ma Wetzel so much, I mean, it's not like it's an expensive place or anything. Paper napkins. Red and white check tablecloth, tacked onto the tables and covered with plastic, just a clean, easy access food place.

As we were finishing up, I got in one good line, "If you don't clean your plate, then no dessert for you."

I've waited all my life for that one.

We wandered off to Amy's for dessert, and I dashed across the street for shot of Jo's espresso, aiming to get it loaded up Amy's Mexican Vanilla. One of the scoopers was an Aquarius. That's #2. As I got dashed back, I made worried noises because Ma Wetzel was toying with Capricorn scooper guy.

"I leave her for one minute, I hope she's not bothering you..."

We stopped by the downtown post office, not far from her hotel, so she could buy some stamps.

"It's my office, you know, the mail box," I was explaining.

"No pictures of you on the wall?"

Scorpio - you know - always the comedian.

Grocery shopping & hunger
subtitle: why we should not go the grocery store when hungry....

It was a simple trip the big warehouse store, the place I consider a grocery store, only, I hadn't eaten much all day. As I was pushing the shopping cart around, loading up on quantities of necessary items like cat litter and Diet Dr. Pepper, I happened across an end cap with a special deal on cartons of Pop Tarts. Fair enough. Works out to about 30 cents per serving. Or something like that, the hungry math was fuzzy, at best.

Near as I can tell. The ingredients are basically refined and enriched flour, and sugar. Plus a long list of other flavors and preservatives. Not that it mattered.

So I get home, and I pop open one package. Which, in my famished state, leads to another. Then another. So that's three sets of Pop Tarts, and suddenly, I don't feel so well.

Grocery shopping is best accomplished after a nutritious meal, one that doesn't involve half a case of pop tarts.

Useless stats & more fish tales
In the month of April, thus far, one year after (regrettably) moving to a subscription model, the numbers ain't good. Ain't bad, but ain't good, neither.

Oddly enough, one of the subscription perks is the weekly audio file/recording. It's accounting for 10% of the bandwidth burned this month. Only available through the subscription side, sorry.

Fishing notes (aka the nature channel):
I got up early, for some unknown reason, looked at the clock and decided that a quick trip the shoreline would be in order. Fish seemed to be hitting the surface so I used a topwater with no luck. I switched to a plastic under a long-distance bobber, and just as I was getting in close to the dock, I had a strike. Half-hearted attempt, more like a nibble, but - at least - someone was interested.

Sun rose, waterfront turned quiet, I went back the computer and work, such as it was. Took a couple of panic calls, and then thought I'd try the "suspending minnow" lure, just for a laugh. What I like about fishing: as I was getting that lure into the dock, a couple of babies attacked it, one almost registered as a real bite. Get this: in the clear water of the Colorado? I could tell that the fish hitting the lure, the minnow, nay, the fingerling hitting that lure? The lure was bigger than the fish.

That's a fish with some fight, attitude and spunk.

Some conspiracy theories, and then, Brit Lit.

I was passing by a convenience store, I opted for a large drink, a lottery ticket, and hotlink. It's the simple life, and I was going to make a point - when I win, the clerk wants a Corvette. That's all he wants in life. Me? I was just happy with the ticket, the drink and some food.

The Fandom of the Operator - page 256:

"Apparently there's a secret underground complex beneath Mornington Crescent tube station. All the booty is there. And all the rest of it...."

Mornington Crescent Station, from my photo archives

Bubba Sean bailed me out of meeting last night, shot out for some quick BBQ and idle chatter which lead to him pontificating about violence (caution: link is not a good one).

I've been time tripping between coasts with phone readings mostly dialing in from the Left Coast, which means I was up rather late.

"But Kramer, the 10 PM news isn't even on yet."

Tulsa Time
Check-out time.

Sunday afternoon, after a fabulous plate-o-ribs at the Rib Crib, per Bubba Sean's insistence, I got bounced out at the Tulsa (TUL) airport. Or maybe it was Tulsa International Airport (TIA) run by the Tulsa Airport Authority (TAA).

Going through the security line, one guard was sure I was some Famous Christian Musician.

"Man, you look just like him."

"Who?" I asked.

He repeated the name, which I didn't catch or recognize.

"He's a famous Christian musician."

Right. Usually it's that piano player or the typical Austin comment, "Don't you play guitar in a band?"

What the cat thinks about her kitty chow.

Cherokee Nation & Molly's
Saturday afternoon, we'd wandered off to the Cherokee Nation's Casino, at the corner of I-44 and loop 244.

There's something I miss in most Indian Casinos that dot my western landscape - it's that sense of abandon found in places like Las Vegas. There's that idea of emerging from a pit of swirling activity at 4 in the morning, reeking of cigarette smoke, being trailed by the faint aroma of stale alcohol, just isn't like that in the other places.

By my own observations, the Cherokee casino was pretty nice. I'm not sure I agree with all plastic payout but I didn't lose much money - if any at all - with a couple of small to medium jackpots on nickel, dime and quarter machines.

All in good fun. Which lead to the restaurant, like the "Hey, I know this place, I think it's around here..."

We paused to ask where the good restaurant was, overlooking the Catoosa (something). My guide asked one guard, and halfway through a lengthy iscussion complete with much arm waving and signal directions, another guard waved me over.

"Go out. Go left. Take a right at the light. Follow the highway. The place you're looking for is about a quarter of mile before the bridge..."

Quarter of a mile before the bridge. Great, I'm sure we can't miss that one. I was waiting for the requisite, "Remember where the barn was before it burned down? You turn there."

I'm not a typical Texan
In the words of Ron White....

"I'm probably not a typical Texan in that I don't hunt. I fish but I don't hunt. And not because I think it might somehow be holier than thou to eat meat that's be bludgeoned to death by someone else, that's not it. It's really early in the morning, it's really cold out, and I don't want to fucking go."

Ron White's words came back to me, in that Wal-Mart, in Tulsa. Broken Arrow, really.

I'd picked up a few fishing items, and my date was carrying a curtain rod. I offered to carry that curtain rod, and then made a joke about whipping her with the curtain rod, twirling said rod in my fingers.

We get to the check out stand, and my Tulsa hostess makes some comment about me hitting her again with it, see, the back story? She had an accident - long before I arrive - that involved her bruising her knee then getting a lump on her forehead the size (and color, presumably) of a Robin's egg.

She made that comment, and in the friggin' heart of the Bible Belt? I blushed. About 3 shades of red. I wasn't sure, Tulsa, is it okay to beat your women? Or would I be met with a set handcuffs - not the fun variety - at the front door to the superstore?

Flatland boogie
Wayne Hancock has the song.

"Tornado Alley
Is always hot and dry
It's cotton fields and cattle ranches,
Honky tonks and all night dances..."

Waffle House entry.

Libra at the airport again....

Then, at the Wal Mart in Tulsa?

Odds and odd
I was dining with a Virgo, she owed me a favor, and I saddled up to a personal favorite; chili cheese fries and cerviche (de pulpo).

The conversation was about sex, gossip, sex, work, and capital rumors. As a state employee of the capital, in some capacity that I don't even understand, this particular client is veritable fount of good, juicy, frequently unverified rumors.

"Look: working in government? It's a lot like watching sausage being made, you know?"

I nodded in a agreement, shoveling in another mouthful of fries layered with chorizo.

Road trip this weekend. I'm always happy on the road, even if Mr. Mercury is retro grade - doesn't bother - or worry - me one little bit.

odds and ends
Nothing to see here, just move along.

I spent an afternoon trying to figure out why one fishing reel wasn't catching any fish. The reel problem was just the line I'd put on, and that stuff was a little stretched out from Monday night's adventure in catching big fish.

I ambled over to the Austin Blogger's meet-up, after reading Jette's entry, I just had to go.

There's another part to the story, comes a bit later, and I'm curious to see if and when she tells that - or what version - suffice it to say, I felt very much like a jerk that one evening. I've groveled ever since. She's not even the Leo, and I still grovel.

It was an interesting discussion group, and the topic varied. Naturally, among the bloggers and techies, the opening round was about having to register through a central server in order to post comments.

Hey, it's been done around here, and frankly, it makes my life much easier when it comes to policing comments. It prevents abuse, that's it. But my comment system is part of the pre-rolled software.

Amy's ice cream, new flavor: vanilla bean. Under the cool and breezy April night, it feels like spring. Is April really the cruelest month?

Dazed and confused 4/20/04
More ways than one.

1. Are you a writer?

2. Pepys Project updated.

3. Movie time: Dazed and Confused. Saw it Tuesday night as a bit of welcome relief in the middle of hectic week.

Or a weird week. I gulped a shot of espresso before heading into the theater, so I was little more "upbeat" than usual. I kept laughing at the dialogue, the dated material, the now-famous actors, and the local flora and fauna.

The setting is 5/28/1976. Where were you?

I watched several groups of patrons, a family of four - who would bring their kids to a show like that? A couple that was probably born long after the film's settings.

4. On the way over to the Alamo (downtown), I had to stop by the post office and drop more material in the mail. I chanced across a downtown display that featured a Moontower display.

(Hint: part of the movie was shot around an Austin Moontower.)

Fishing theories - "kickin' topwater action!"
According to one source, the best time on Monday was between 7-8 AM while another source suggested 11 AM - 3 PM. In the interest of research, I tried both. In fact, from my own estimation, I figured the moon shifted signs about ten in the morning, so I had to try then, too. What I found? A lure.

I was watching bait fish school up by a branch that had fallen close to the shore. In the stick and other debris, in about six inches of clear water, just out of reach, I saw a shiny object. Looked a lot like a lure I'd lost to a snag.

It was. I eventually stepped onto a rock, and into the river, long enough to retrieve the lure. Buried that sucker good.

After three, I wandered off to attend business that needed attending to, Mercury RX or not, and I was wandering through downtown, trying to balance a tiny cup of coffee, the damn phone, and the ear piece.

Eventually, I wound up at Amy's, and then on down to Starbucks for post-sunset coffee and treats with a Pisces. Rolled on into Shady Acres about ten PM.

None of the solar-lunar fishing guides said anything about after ten PM being a good time.

I changed my mind, tied a heavy-duty topwater on the stout pole, and flipped the lure out in the dark water. Two casts, "Wham!" Big fish. Shook the hook just before I got the fish on the bank. All I saw was a gaping maw.

Funny thing, that lure. Worked like a champ. The line got snarled on one cast, and I was busy trying to undo the knot when I heard a sound like a cinder block splash in the water. I started reeling in, snarl or not. Pole was bent almost in half. That one ran up to the shore and dove under some branches. We fought and struggled for a few minutes, but the fish eventually won - the lure came flying back through the air at me.

To unsnarl the line, I figured I'd better cast one more time. Another hit. I was determined not to lose him. I recognized this one feller - seen him before on the shore. He, too, shook the hook, right at the bank.

I took a break, switched poles, switched baits, finally switched back to a smaller topwater again, and me and that one fish were hooked up a second time. No, he shook it again, but not before I had a chance for a positive ID - I'd recognized that mouth anywhere.

So much for other guidelines, I'm thinking this astrology fishing stuff works.

Sunday's seven
It's still nation turn off your TV week. More news on the Amazon search engine.

And that hippie stench? I sat at the exit from noon until 4, no beer in, no beer out, let's see your badge, and the best excuse I heard was rather lame, "Must've washed off, look I'll pay to get in again...."

Guy just didn't want to stand in line.

I took off for a few minutes to see Joe King Carrasco, and I managed to catch one song. Then I slid on out the gate to run to the airport, only to get a call halfway there, "I'm still in Dallas..."

Which turned into a an extra hour, and I had a phone reading scheduled, and instead of a phone reading, I had some supper, and after that, I did work in a phone a reading, like I was supposed to.

Sunday was a long day.

I was heartened, when I stopped through Shady Acres, I cold see a guy in a boat, working down along the shoreline, then, a little later, there was another boat, and what was cool about that? Guy looked like he was looking for fish, careful, patient observation rather than thrashing the water with a fishing line.

Joe King on stage.

Mirror project picture of me.

Tune out, turn off.
National Turn off Week? (Not that it matters to someone who doesn't even own a TV.)

Hippie Stench
Not much to report, although, at one point, there were no less than four (4) Sagittarius working in the volunteer area, all of us at the same time. And one lone Scorpio.

And one picture, from the beginning of the day.

Hippie Stench
Looking forward to that this weekend.

At lunch the other afternoon, the Scorpio waitress noted that, "One of you smells pretty."

Probably me. It was the same shirt for three days, you know, "amber musk" from one day (wore the shirt for all of an hour), then patchouli the next day (wore the shirt for less than half an hour), and finally, "dragon's blood "- so I'm sure it was one of those.

"It could be my Nag Champa incense, too," I was reminded.

Getting ready for the big deal-io at the Shores this weekend. Bet the weather is cool but nice.

Signs & symbols.
Feast day of Saint Drogo, the patron saint of coffeehouse owners, and the protector of "gravel in the urine." Don't ask because I haven’t a clue.

A Gemini came by, we were supposed to have lunch, and she wandered into the trailer, sat down, the cat came out - reported to me later - the cat said hello, and the Gemini told the cat to fetch her brush. The cat hissed in return. I popped back in from the lake, a few minutes later.

So after lunch, I was supposed to do take a Pisces to the airport. She came by and hung out inside the trailer because I was missing again. Down at the lake. Fishing.

My excuse? Mercury. "You know, Mercury is retrograde, ain't nuthin' better to do than fish...."

Train tunnel signage

Swimsuit display

Inbound mail:
Round a-bout, 4/15/04 9:21 AM, ya'll "- -" said:
> Hey Kramer --
> Thanks for the scope for the week. YOU HIT IT ON THE HEAD! I had to smile
> when I read that -- and now, when I feel a little dejected while looking at
> the work ahead of me -- I will have to smile at why!

Round a-bout, 4/15/04 9:51 AM, ya'll said:
> I'll try,
> on your recommendation, for this week.
> Love your forecast.
> Love the Shakespeare.

Ultimate "time waster" site. Cool stuff about Greek mythos.

And the perfect gift for Mercury Retrograde. Tell 'em Bubba sent you.

Tulsa tid-bit.

Tax Day & "feature creature"
Looking for a better search engine? Try It's like Google, only more so.

In fishing, there's always a new line of plastic baits that look like this or that, and the baits are supposed to resemble a living critter of some variation.

My personal favorite - this week - is a crawdad-looking piece of plastic. Sinks or floats, little claws in fluorescent colors wave around in the current.

Since I didn't nail another fish Wednesday evening, although I had at least one run off with a lure for a second, a solid strike, just no hook-up, I was thinking about new baits.

There's always something new, better, does the job faster, gets more bites, something-something-improved, coming along.

The problem with Google these days? Feature creep. Happens with the best of websites, the best of software, the best of the best, all of it usually succumbs to feature creep. That's where one last addition is tacked on, something to make it better than the rest. But is it really better?

"Just one more feature, and then the website will really hum!"

Two-meat Tuesday
I stumbled across this, and I found it hilarious. Amusing, anyway.

The other half of the two-meat plate? It's Tuesday, I was one my way home from the two-meat plate, being Tuesday and all, and I was idling along the south bank of the river, on the ever-popular "Auditorium Shores" section. By the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue. Earlier, as is my custom, I'd clipped a tiny a sprig of rosemary, and stuck it in my ponytail.

A woman walking two golden retrievers, comes up behind me, and as she's passing, "Dude, you got a bit of tree stuck in your hair."

Half correct, as rosemary is an evergreen.

I was talking on the phone and fishing, after the sun had set, not really doing a reading, just a little moral support for a client.

Got one. Not a big feller, but not a small guy either. Lots of fight. Probably one of the bucks from the neighborhood, as it were. I got him up on the bank, told the caller they'd have to call back, and got ready to take a quick picture.

I reached around for the camera, the fish was laid out on the dock, and he took one mighty flip and tossed himself back in the water. No picture. And dammit, he took my lure with him, too.

I'm starting to get an attitude about losing lures to fish.

Book list
I'm never sure how long I'll have a feature on the website.

I started popping in the title of whatever text I was reading at the moment, and then I thought, a running list of whatever it is that I've read this week, this month, in book form, at least, the novels of merit, the texts that are worth it.

I've had as many as five or six novels going at one time, and I've had as few as one. Usually, at the very least, there will be one going at any given time. Plus I use my own reference library from time to time, for history and lit crit & Shakespeare theory.

What it amounts to, I get tired of typing in a new title each time I pick up a book. In some cases, I put the book back down, too, because I'm not in a head space that the text rides well with me. To me, that's the beauty of the printed word, I can go back and reference it as need be.

Pick it up, interact, put it down, come back later. Or not, in some cases.

I really enjoy certain forms of British comedy. Droll, dry as the West Texas Sand (Monahan's Sand Dunes come to mind, on a day in July), usually with a few high-blown lit allusions and some insider British comedy.

I've got a whole shelf full of the stuff. I enjoyed one series, a trilogy in five or six books at this point, by one author. His stuff usually tickles me. Hard to get here in the States. I picked up a couple of copies of his latest work last time I was in the UK, and I'm just now getting around to reading one of them. Got one left after this. Perfect for a "Mercury is moving backwards" period. Like right now.

When I picked the book up this time, I found that I'd read the first chapter or two, probably last fall, and the book didn't get up and read, then. But it does now.

Which is why a reading list might be a little suspect.

For now, the "currently reading" list is linked from the left-hand bar.

Despite the cold weather, not setting foot outside until the sun was well up in the sky, I managed to make it a whole day without wearing footwear. All depends on how one ranks and rates success, whether that measure is by money earned, hits on a web page, number of deals closed, the number of fish caught (and hopefully released), or, in my case, a whole day without having to wear shoes. I was hard at work, deep in production mode, getting material ready for this coming week.

Various Easter oddities & statistics, culled from the website.

Number of party invitation (unable to attend) 1.

Number of invites I'll be coerced to attend? Uno.

Number of requests for free information on Easter? Three (3)

Number of unexpected donations? One (1).
Thanks bud!

March search terms:
reqs: search term
----: -----------
403: about
367: all
314: the
209: scorpio
168: fishing

March total for folks trying to access the current scopes without paying:
reqs: file
----: ----
2155: /currents/intro.shtml

March total for "audio message" in mp3 format:
reqs: %bytes: extension
-----: ------: ---------
151: 7.89%: .mp3 [MP3 sound files>

April search terms - so far:
reqs: search term
----: -----------
117: about
99: all
97: scorpio
27: stars
26: love
24: kramer

April total, so far, trying to access the current scopes without paying - so far:
reqs: file
----: ----
747: /currents/intro.shtml

April's sound file number - so far:
reqs: %bytes: extension
-----: ------: ---------
61: 11.87%: .mp3 [MP3 sound files>

What it means?
1. Scorpio is, as always a favorite search term, and perhaps, the most commonly hit material on this site. Why? I haven't a clue.
2. The way it's currently marked, the concept of paying for the content seems to be illusive. Plus I am personally opposed to running much of a banner ad for the services.
3. The weekly audio message is getting limited play, but it burns a considerable portion of the bandwidth. I considered linking it from the free stuff, or making it more freely available, but there's the - now obvious - problem with the amount of bandwidth it uses versus the cost of making the audio file available.

Saturday evening, I was wandering in and out of the humidors at Wiggy's, and Bubba Sean was looking for me. So he goes up the counter help, "Hey, where's the hippie?"

Guy at the counter just points to me, in the front humidor.

Sunday evening, I went out to "the lake" and we laughed as the home we were in really did overlook "hippie hollow." Which prompted much speculation, none of which, any of the folks present, could corroborate. A fine Easter dinner was had by all.

Early movies of Venus.

Damn snakes
See what I mean?

> Will you please re-subscribe me to your weekly email list?

Love to, but current arrangement means there is no mailing list available to subscribe to. Only place to find the weekly horoscopes are on the website.

While the snake and the owl generated a lot of e-mail responses, nothing really hit the mark. Why was it here? Observations that are too weird, or too long, or just don't fit anyplace else.

There's a spot I pass on the trail, and I while I live with as few regrets as possible, there I was, wishing for a certain fishing pole and a certain bait. There was a single little buck - apparently - obsessively circling a spot in the water. Means he was guarding a nest. Bait isn't food as much as the "angry adolescent males" hammer a threat to the nest's security perimeter. Really fun to tease. A crawdad on a brush-hopper usually works well.

Good Friday's Snake medicine
Snakes, for me, are largely totemic creatures.

I used to see a really large Texas Rat snake, swimming in the power plant outlet creek. He was huge, having reached full, adult length, by my guess, close to five feet, maybe longer. Recognizing its yellow and brown markings, it was nothing more than a large garter snake. It was 2001, I think, and I noticed, one afternoon, that someone had freaked out and broken the back of that snake, it was floating along dead in the water. Waste of good spirit, inspired by "snake fever." Or plain, uninformed fear.

Just about every water snake in Texas is assumed to be a Water Moccasin, which just isn't the case. Easily distinguished by a triangular head, and in the mature specimens, a basic black coloring with a faint pattern barely visible. I had a pet one, once, we'd caught him in the middle of the lake and run lasso around his neck, dropped him in a bag. He managed to sneak out of the cage in less than an hour. Gone back to the lake, I'll assume. He was close to four feet in length, and rather nasty. Most Cottonmouths are.

While I was closely observing the baitfish, one morning, I noticed a slithering fellow. Brown skin, not black, the scales on the skin didn't have a "keel," and its head was not triangular, nor, for that matter, was there any pit (it's like an extra nostril between the nose and eye). Constrictor of some sort. Harmless. I let him be and he continued looking for his breakfast.

The next day, on the dock, I looked over, and there was a smaller version, possibly brethren, less than two feet long, and moving pretty fast. I dropped the pole and went for a closer look, and for the life of me, the only pattern to the back? Boa?

Then the following day, on the Shoal Creek bridge, I looked down, and there was the third water snake. From my elevation, I couldn't tell anything about that one, I really didn't want to go chasing snakes in the creek bottom. It would've been gone by the time I got there.

Three for three. Totems. Means something's up, that's for sure.

I was taking a quick dip in the creek, first swim for this year, and I was thinking about the snake medicine, or totems, or whatever, and I remembered an event last summer.

"No baby, ain't no snakes in Barton Creek; it's too cold."

A little garter snake went swimming by.

Reminds me of the scene, as handed down to me by a professor, "You know, like the 'fat broad' in B.C.? 'Snake! Wham! Wham!' Just like her."

After dark, Friday night, I was "walking the dog" - making a topwater lure behave as if it was a wounded baitfish - and the resident owl came swooping down on the river's surface, just sure that the lure was dinner. No luck with fish, but damn near caught an owl.

Owl in a cave, during daylight, in CA (Sister can verify that one), baby owl in the backyard, couple of years ago at a party, and now this guy. He was huge. Four-foot wingspan, maybe more, hovering right in front of me, looking at the lure and me.

Three for three. Totems. Means something's up, that's for sure.

Dangerous Bluebonnets
Nice shot, from the phone's camera, of Bluebonnets, wild and free.

It's the corner of Barton Springs and Congress. Note the curb. Every time I stepped back to get a picture, another car came whizzing around the corner, nearly taking me out.

Do all artists have to suffer?


Leftover BBQ
Found this new item about the long history of felines and domestication.

But it made me wonder, too, as I was peeling off a chunk of leftover "Artz Rib House" pork rib for the mistress of the house. Who really in charge?

Fishing theories
Everyone's got a good one.

I was looking for information about night fishing, as I'd ingested two rather different opinions.

Theory one, supported by many "bass pro" types, suggests that white, almost luminescent bait works best at night.

Theory two, supported by many "bass pro" types, suggest dark, perhaps even black, bait works best.

Clear water, clear bait, stained water, darker colors. Almost sounds like laundry list.

Caught a cute little feller Thursday morning. I thought I was wrestling the lure out of the weeds and yanked really hard. Fish and lure go sailing through the air, crash into the edge of the shoreline, and fish disappears, back to his murky depth.

Yeah, well, I showed him a thing or two. Hope he enjoys the other half of the bait he took with him. That bump on the head must just be like Mercury Retrograde - for the fish.

Given the aggressive nature of bass, I can just see him bragging to his buddies, too, and he'll see my bait again, "Hey! Watch me do this!"

Fever dreams
Which really weren't fever dreams, but sure felt like with a surreal quality to it all.

Dream sequence start. I was at a Kinky Friedman book signing, and I was stretched out on the couch, under the covers. I don't know why I carried a blanket, or why I was ready to go to bed. At the last book signing, Mr. Friedman asserted that his book deal was just about up, and in the final "Kinky Friedman, Investigator" series, he was going to, in his words, "Kinky gets bugled to Jesus."

So in the dream, he stopped by, said something to me, then ambled off and turned out the lights. As the bookstore employees were closing, they realized someone (me) was still there, and they realized that I needed to be let out. So I gathered up the bedding, computer, and books, and shuffled out the door. Which led to meeting with the bookstore reps, and eventually, the bookstore's "buyer" who didn't know astrology from Shinola, but her daughter did.

"Oh man, I read your stuff every week!" Dream sequence end.

Just goes to show that even harmless, over-the-counter drugs do weird things. Or maybe, reading "existential novels" before bedtime does that.

I got up because that dream was, well, for lack of better words, just plain weird. I typed it in, then grabbed a cup of herbal tea and headed down to look at the predawn lakefront.

Fish were jumping. Somebody was feeding. Feeding frenzy. I sipped on the tea, thought about it, made an estimate as to what was working, weighed that against what was currently tied on the end of the pole, wandered home, poured more tap water into the empty tea mug (two tea bags), set it to nuke for a couple of minutes, and grabbed a pole. Next thing I know, sun's coming up over downtown. Go back, grab more lures, take a swig of tepid tea, and go back to the waterline.

Caught nothing. Sure had fun, though. I figure I fished for almost three hours, off and on, while most of Austin was asleep. And something with fins was moving. Big fishes. Carpe Carpio.

Round a-bout, 4/6/04 2:27 PM, ya'll "(deleted)" said:

I love eloquent, witty responses. I'm just surprised that the spam filter didn't choke the note; due to the profanity, I thought that was filtered.

Here's the scoop, the purported author's site. Now I might be naïve, but I would also figure that a person with 11 years' experience would know how to work a browser.

I do wonder what her pastor would say to such language, too?

Here at the office? Rev. Kramer says, "You're all right!"

(I blame the drugs.)

Round a-bout, 4/7/04 1:00 PM, ya'll said:

> Subject: thanks
> Note:
> I am sending six bucks - sort of a one time thing for the moment - because
> I think the mp3 files are worth $3. The other $3 are because anybody who
> can think of a way to fish and work at the same time deserves to be paid!

Does it get any better than this?

Tuesday two meat
NASCAR funny.

The headline that caught my eye? Rick Wakeman saying, "Yes Lord." Which triggers an automatic response from me, from Ten Wheels for Jesus, a personal favorite - it's punk gospel.

The sinus medication must be working.

I had - to me - a highly amusing round of e-mail that tries the very soul and monk-like patience that I have, an exercise in self-restraint and flame-retardant control.

I usually keep two kinds of antihistamines on hand. More for poison ivy and its variation, than for any other reason. Tuesday morning, I dug through a travel bag and located the last few tabs of "Plan A," which, if I had used it before, I wouldn't sound like I do. But I didn't, and I did, so I'm feeling much better. I'm just loath to use such medication because it can leave me cranky. However, the river's water is pretty stained, there's a load of organic (and man-made) trash caught in the river's eddy, fishing isn't too good - except for one really big fish jumping in the middle of the channel, and some sushi with a Pisces solved the last of the sinus problems. I doubt the bait did the trick, I think it was my overdose of wasabi. Mmm, good.

The little tablets must be working.

I'm looking for a new bait-casting rig, too. The problem being, the one I should really get is a tad more than I was planning on spending. Might just bide my time and wait a spell.

Ugh. Double ugh.
I woke up with "impacted sinuses" from I don't know what, and as I was gingerly moving around the cat decided to regurgitate most of her breakfast.

Just going to be one of those days, Moon's just full, or past it, and Mercury is stationary.

Planets in the news
Nice Venus information, about observations and so forth. Astronomy.

An interesting news item was forwarded to me, about this place.

See, this is what they said:

> NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham said the sponsorship was
> pulled because ``redneck'' is offensive to some people.
> "Simply put, we did not feel that it reflected the proper image for our sport,'' he said.

What's NASCAR without rednecks? I thought that was the demographic, modified passenger vehicles used for dirt-road moonshine runnin' to supply Yankees who outlawed whiskey in the first place. But I may be wrong. I thought the whole episode was really funny.

Fishing X 2
I played with a couple of different lures, but the fish, although they were jumping, they weren't biting.

I tied on a "Margarita" colored bait. I could see a little buck bass chasing it, but he wouldn't ever hit it. Margarita? Probably a Virgo bass. The problems I have with Virgo and Margarita? Legendary.

CitiBbank - purportedly - sent me an e-mail, requesting I update my account information. Funny thing? I cut up my Citi cards last year. Look at the link's address, not the highlighted one, but the actual link? That's not a CitiBank address.

Then I got a note from "" No such address. No such e-mail. Looking for a password, too.

Kind of like that little buck bass and my lure. Or Margaritas and Virgos.

Work and fish
That's all. Filled up a couple of tapes, fished to break the monotony. Moon's filling out, but no fish. Have to check the Solar-Lunar tables again.

Secret Weapons
I popped out the back door, and there was that young buck. Again. He flipped his tail once or twice, and circulated over towards a brush pile, lurking and, presumably, eyeing me. I flipped whatever was still tied on that pole, and we just looked at each other.

I was standing at the edge of the river, barefoot, shirtless, chatting with Sister on the phone. Making arrangements for brunch. No, Sister was tech support, brunch was a friend. Just looking and moaning about a fish who doesn't want to be caught.

Time for the "secret weapon," fluorescent orange worm. Or a bubble gum colored guy. One of those. Wacky rig a worm and see what happens. Usually gets them.

But it hasn't so far.

So I taught a class this evening, looks like I'll do it again in a month or so. Lots of fun. The most interesting, spooky even, music came on before we got situated. The Monkees. "I'm a believer..."

Makes you wonder. Amused me. April Fool's Day, the Monkees and the monk.

But no damn fish.

What's worse, with Jupiter next to Moon, overhead, I figured a little night fishing was in order. I did get a solid strike with a spinner bait. But no fish. Didn't get that hook set.

Two bucks
When Micropterus salmoides spawns, the female lays the eggs in a "nest," and wanders off to let the males fertilize, guard, protect, hatch and look after them young ones. Or something akin to that, according to the lore.

There's a nest, a circle swept clean by nesting black bass, right in front of the dock. I spied it Wednesday morning. Hot damn - angry, adolescent males!

I tapped on the keyboard and then wandered off to fish. I tossed spoons, shiners, curly-tailed wiggly things, and got nothing. Had a reading to do so I saddled up to the phone and keyboard while I spun through a chart & tape.

Wandered back to the water's edge. I put a crawdad critter on the end of a weighted hook, makes the little guy stand up and wiggly his claws in a menacing fashion. The smaller of the two bucks took the bait, not because it was tempting but because the lure was threatening.

He managed to spit the hook out before I got him up for a picture. We were wrestling at the river's edge, me against a feller who wasn't much bigger than bait fish. Angry male.

I landed that crawdad there again, but he refused it several more times, although he did bump it once or twice.

Another readings, another tape, more tapping on the keyboard, and then I figured I'd try a worm. I dug through the plastics and used a Texas-rigged watermelon-colored worm. This time, it was the bigger of the two guys, and this time, he shook the hook, too. At least he was decent-sized, unlike his younger brethren. That big mouth looked like he could swallow a hard drive.

Nothing worked after that. What's worse? While I was working that one nest, a whole section, not quite a school, just a handful of adolescent bass cruised right in front of me. A bird flew over and its shadow scattered them.

If Thursday doesn't bring any more luck, I might just jump in the river and wrestle one of those guys up for a picture.

Successes, failures, and subscriptions
Review, revise, and look at what's happening, one year later.

Expectations? Failed. Failed miserably. That's also the nature of unrealistic expectations.

I had high hopes that the, literally, tens of thousands of people who access this site would actually consider signing up and paying a mere pittance of a fee, thereby validating the amount of effort that goes into the project.

By my internal standards, that arbitrary goal that was, at best, an estimate? I've failed. From a strict balance sheet point-of-view? This is a success. Not destined to put my name at the top of the Fortune 500 list, but at least, as a business model, it's proof-of-concept success.

The problem is inherent generosity. When I shopped this idea, over a year ago, prices ranged from $4.95 to $24.95 per month. I was undercutting the competition with a lower price. I was also hoping to spread the cost out among as many people as possible. High hopes in humanity. My bad.

Couple of options. I could jack the prices up. I could raise the ante and buy-in to a more realistic price. I could scrap the whole endeavor, and pursue a more traditional route, and just skip posting scopes on the web.

Or, I could do nothing. Just let that bet ride a little longer.

Catholic Girls
.Pics of a Pyx?

It's a host for a Host. It's called, I think, a pyx. She whipped it out to show me, and all I could say was it made delightful condom carrier, the right size, shape and so forth. That one had a little Celtic cross on it.


Wrong expression, although it did invokes gales of giggles. My own. I tried to explain the comment later, and the picture just looked like a diaphragm case.

Then there was that Virgo girl - a lawyer. At the curbside check in El Paso, "Kramer?"

It's hard to recognize me with clothes on.

She bought me a cup of coffee, and a sleazy, cheap tabloid, "I just need some mindless entertainment."

I brightened up.

"Hey, I can do that!"

So I commented about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as portrayed in the tabloid, all the way back to Austin.

Finally, I unlimbered in Austin, and stretched out towards Bookpeople to see the future (Scorpio) governor of Texas: Kinky Friedman. He did a talk, he joked, he read some passages, he pointed out that his latest book was ghost-written by Mary Higgins Clark. I caught him outside with a cigar in his mouth. Half a cigar. He's taken to cutting the cigars in half, cutting back on smoking. I thought it was great, caught him in front of the no smoking sign.


Texas is different but
El Paso is even more different.

Sunday afternoon, there was a change in the clientele, the numbers skewered in a new direction as I found myself working with a younger and younger grouping. Since I was clad in all black, I tried to pass myself off as a Goth, too. Didn't work. But I did find myself with several rather animated readings, and since the crowd was younger, I could cuss, rant, rave, and bitch about parents. Punk Astrology. It was rather invigorating, although, I've gotten limited feedback thus far.

Monday morning, I started the day with a Gemini, ended the day with a Gemini, and plenty of signs in between, too. I was doing 45-minute readings, more leisurely, more in-depth, and lot different from punk astrology. "Changed my pitch up."

After working for, like, 8 hours straight through, we headed over to Mesilla for some dinner. After cruising up and down Main once (took three minutes), I spied a little place in a local version of a strip mall, "Dick's Café, Mesilla, NM."

Looked like the spot.

We wandered in, looked like locals, and a waitress stepped up. Long, lanky, dishwater blond with a sleepy look to her blue eyes wandered over. I looked at my Aries, "Go ahead and ask her," I said. So it turns out, the waitress was a Gemini.

I asked for a number two dinner, and they really didn't have one, but she made adequate recommendations until the Aries suggested a certain item on the menu.

"El Chingon."

"Do you know what that name means?"


It was a steak covered in queso, with rice and beans on the side. Very worthwhile. Odd name.

I tried to get a colorful shot of the sign for Dick's Café in Mesilla, NM, but the phone's camera wasn't up to the night time exposure with Saturn, the Moon, and Jupiter as backlights.

On the ride back to El Paso, one last client call to return. Gemini.

Pastry Chef II
The darling Pisces hostess fixed me some coffee before so I wasn't in that groggy state. Therefore....

The semblance between Cookie and the Scorpio plum escapes me.

"Kramer, what you need is 'deer tail' extract. I recommend it to all men who are trying to conceive."

No, but thank you very much.

Robin's car.

"Yes, that's what happens when a Scorpio girlfriend goes bad.." he said.

"Fly Alien Air, only one accident in 57 years. - Roswell, NM"

Pastry Chef
It was early, that's my only excuse.

This little Scorpio hove into sight at the Pastry Chef, and the picture from the camera just doesn't do the whole scene justice. She was wearing a shirt that said "Lucky Coffee," and as I lay my head on the Aries shoulder, that Scorpio came back with a lucky coffee. Or so I was hoping.

After that, all I remember was working for about six hours straight through. It's a blur. Robin the Palmist handed me a vial of something, supposedly a psychic herb, "Here take this, and call me when you can find the phone. He-he."

How you doing?
It was the query from the Amy's girl (Libra) at the airport. Lovely Pisces dropped me off, and I had a few extra minutes to kill. One security guard noted that my boots were handmade (in El Paso). I slipped on a wedding ring, and I was good to go.

When I stopped at Amy's, I watched while a pair of young engineers complained about going to Padre, "No, see it's a conference. Over the weekend, on the Gulf coast." No sympathy from anyone?

So I get up, and this is the second time it's happened, the Amy's Super Scooper asks, "How you doing?"

"Small Mexican Vanilla."

"No, 'how are you doing' first."

I smiled, realizing the game's afoot.

"So what's your birthday?"

Not that I would let this astrology crap rule my life
But I was waiting until the Moon wasn't Void-of-course (VOC Moon), in order to mail that last cover letter. Never hurts to make sure the deck is stacked in my favor.

Ma Wetzel was in town and she insisted on meat. Funny request from a vegetarian. So I picked a nice place, then afterwards, we dropped the letter and samples in the mail.

She religiously observes Lent, so there was no dessert. But she did have a second cup of coffee. Me wee Scorpio mum.

From the in box:
Round a-bout, 3/25/04 4:41 PM, ya'll said:
> The audio thing you did is awesome...

Fresh one every week in the subscription area. But that two minutes can take up to an hour to produce.

If it's Friday, then I'm headed to the airport for a quick trip to El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM.

Last night, after I got home, I tied a white worm on the end of a line - don't laugh - it's worked before - one week ago - and I tossed it out into the lake, No luck, and just out of me reach, some fish was flipping around, doing stunts. Some young buck of a freshwater large mouth bass was showing off.

"Dear John"
The hardest letter to write.

I had to throw together a sample column and cover letter. The hardest part? The cover letter. Sample column? I work on horoscopes and charts all week long, that's easy. The cover letter? I've written two in the last week, and those are the hardest. The funniest part of that one? The editor's first name really is "John."

I was going to make a funny comment about starting a letter out "Dear John," but like one scope for this week mentions, "Kramer? Like on TV?" Ha-ha. Very funny. Nothing to see here, move along.

I wrote and erased, wrote some more, erased some more, moved the text around, and that was the most difficult letter I've had to bang out. Couldn't just whip out a quick note. Don't know the guy, the publisher, what I'm up against, the only veiled hint was "some competition."

Give it a shot. Best I can do.

Weird Wednesday
So how does it happen?

"You ain't gonna catch a thing, them fish ain't bitin' now," one of my neighbors said

"I've got a bunch of voices in my head, and they're all screaming at you."

There was an interesting discussion on Slashdot about being e-mail being blocked by AOL. Doesn't affect me any longer because I'm not running any mailing lists as of now.

When I ran both a joke list and first the monthly then the weekly list, I had problems with Hotmail. Occasionally, I had problems, in the early days, with AOL not accepting an astrology report, especially the big ones. AOL blocked me, too, but it doesn't matter, not to me.

Which is one reason I no longer run any mailing lists. At the time, both lists were truly "opt in" because a confirmation was required. Which caused no amount of problems, but I wasn't about to open up a list to just anyone to plug in random e-mail addresses, "Hey, I thought you'd like these horoscopes, so I signed you up...." That's irresponsible behavior.

But there's an administrative problem associated with a real e-mail list like that. Too much trouble for too little yield.

Miscellaneous ramblings about business on a website. "Capturing e-mail addresses is the most important tool." But what do you do with them?

I had an invitation to dine in the fair city as the guest of a client, and it led to a funny situation. First, a little history, at least, oral history of Austin. At one time, South Congress wasn't the upscale and trendy little neighborhood. Street walkers - so I've been told - worked the avenue. So Wednesday night, client calls, they're done, ready to eat, I suggest a place, and they're on their way, so I'm on my way. I clipped a bit of rosemary as has become my custom lately, stuck in my pocket, alerted Bubba that I might be late getting back, and took off into the sunset. Really, it was too cloudy to see any sunset.

I stopped at Jo's and grabbed an afternoon espresso, walking up the hill to the restaurant and marveling at the foam on the top of the espresso, the way the oily brew roiled around on my tongue, the invigorating rush of a tiny dose of caffeine. Really good brew, masterfully put together. Good coffee is labor intensive.

I stuck my head in the restaurant. Too early. I loitered outside. I rolled on up the street, poked my head in Magnolia. In case there was some confusion. No party waiting on me. Up a little further, stopped at TG&R. Bought a lottery ticket. Strolled back down Congress, stopped again, no party waiting on me, walked down to the Continental Club, then turned and walked back to the restaurant.

I called several times, no answer on the cell. I was worried about the address. Directions like, "The place that used to be Shaggy's? You know, next to the boot store?" might not be the best for someone from out-of-town.

I was beginning to feel like a streetwalker, cruising up and down the street, waiting, loitering and such. I clipped another bit of rosemary from the bush in front of San Jose, an Austin Air Freshener, a spring of herb that's suitable for hanging from a rearview.

So there I was trolling up and down Congress Avenue. Great.

I finally decided to just sit in the restaurant and wait there. Walk in, get a booth, and the next table over asks if I'm going to sit alone or join them. They'd been there the whole time.

It's going to be busy, but...
I have a digression, a little look at the future. Should be called, "Whither goest thou?"

I was thinking about this, late one night, in a relaxed, somewhat soporific state, possibly induced by TexMex, or maybe a more pedestrian chicken-fried steak. The link that begat this idea. Where's the web headed, what direction?

I do all the web-spinning these days, around here. Such as it is. I'm still managing a couple of sites for clients, too. I make an effort to stay abreast of latest developments; I invested three-four days in SXSW Interactive, just an attempt to stay on top of latest gadgets and gizmos.

One of the workshops, I thought it was pretty puffy at the time, was all about "non-traditional navigation" as in non-traditional navigation for a website. There were a couple of sites, probably in this list of links. Back that with another presentation about how non-tradition symbols don't work. Huh.

I'm sure, at one time or another, I'd be interested in a cool looking animated site that served no real purpose other than to amuse and entertain. I can't even begin to suggest how tired I am of the "left column navigation list-of-links" look.

The flip side, the other hand, to toss in a cliché or two, is that certain sites with just buttons that don't do anything, or fail to give a clue as to the button's purpose? Those are pretty lame. I have an excuse, here on my site, this web journal is hidden, I mean tucked away right and proper under the name of "xenon" and currently, there's a "Marfa Mystery Lights" roadside marker. Which has nothing to do with the journal.

But that's it. Everything else is pretty plain. The Marfa Lights button is personal and so's this journal.

What's going to happen with the web, as we know it now? Two paths: flash and html. HTML is like a typesetting code. No, really. I worked on an old system at a newspaper, and the typesetting codes, typed in by the reporter (nominally me) were pretty much identical to current HTML tags. Same thing, almost. It's not a stretch to jump from one system to another. None of this whimpy "user friendly interface," no sir, we did it the hard way.

Current browser software renders HTML pretty well. Okay, mostly, when there isn't a lot of flashy graphics. I've gradually moved most of the big stuff over to Cascading Style Sheets, CSS for short, because it greatly reduces the load on the server, and the browser can adjust the fonts and colors, and (add your own rants & raves). It's just easier, in the long run. Still, the older material is hammered together in HTML. Will stay that way, too, as I'm not reworking the whole damn site.

The site is NOT configured for the micro version of anything. Probably not visible on a phone. Kind of hard to read a 200-word horoscope on a screen that's about one square inch. I have to assume that most browser windows are at least 600 by 800 pixels, with a 72 dpi resolution.

But what's going to happen with the web, as I was trying to get more information about the publishers I'm courting right now? There's going to be a gradual split. One avenue is flash. Or some other animated, decorative, high-bandwidth show. The other will be the older, more arcane and less functional but very forgiving HTML.

As of last year, I was high-bandwidth, wireless, road-warrioring ready. I can soak up all that animation on my screen. However, the sites I use for news and views? Most of them are like my site: old school. In the future?

Two avenues. One is flashy, and the other kind of staid and conservative.

I toyed with Flash a couple of years ago. Never "got my head around it," and I quit working with it. Too much effort for animations. But then, there's my background, I think in words, not moving pictures.

I was reminded of this, the other evening, conversing with a family friend.

"You done that 'palm reading' thing for the web yet?"

No, but it was a simple idea, an outline of palm print, a little bar that scrolls green light over it and "read" a palm held up to the monitor. Actually, a pretty simple animation.

Then you type in your name, a birthday and out comes a little text that's really based on your birthday. Or, like some sites, it could just spit out some rather random text.

It would be a software toy, good for a few laughs. Not anything I'm going to attempt, although I think I still have a half-assembled flash file with a some of the components working.

I wonder how many people would place their palms on the screen of their computer, expecting a real answer?

Amid the fracas in the news and on the wires, I found this project. Absolutely senseless waste of time and energy, but still, in my judgment, pretty damn cool.

Heard back from that Leo, my psychic friend, and I'll be the first guest on a new talk show. Radio-Internet, I'm completely unclear about the details. Just a quick confirmation call, "May 6 is good, right?"

Jupiter will be direct, Mercury won't be retrograde, yes, it's an auspicious start date. Stay for more details as the story develops.

The boom days in Austin are over. I can't, for the life of me, understand why yet-another-high-rise apartment building is going up in downtown.

We'd stopped at that taqueria on S. First, which led to the story about how I was threatened if I ever mentioned the place's name in web journal because then it would become popular and we'd never get good enchiladas again.

Shoot, the names change down that one road so often, Jovita's is the only place that seems to stay the same. (#2 dinner)

At the place where we were last night? They've got an iPod running the tunes. Pretty cool.

However, at the yet-to-be identified diner, I'm glad to report, despite a new menu, there's one item of merit; hot sauce. Get the "caliente" sauce on the enchiladas? Finally, a hot sauce that really is hot. No extra heat needed.

From the inbound mail:
Round a-bout, 3/23/04 8:08 PM, ya'll said:
> hello! we met a couple months ago, when ya'll were
> in austin. i lost my tape until a couple days ago when i was digging through a
> pile of old clothes and what do you know its at the bottom. well i decided to
> listen to it. you told me to
> stick with my dreams of becoming an actress and guess what! i just made a play
> at my school. thank you so much. i think i would have given up if i hadn't
> listened to the tape.

Disturbing article in Salon
"Confessions of a midlist author."

I'm not sure how this is related, but I was watching my lure skim through the water, it'd cleared up over the weekend, and I was amused: see, there was a little fish. Tiny fish. A fish about half the size of the lure, chasing that "bright, shiny object" coursing its way through the water.

"Grow up buddy, and we'll play catch & release when you're about five pounds heavier."

Right. Talking to fish again. Not even big fish, little ones.

I wandered off to the post office to put the book manuscript in the mail. I meant to head in one direction, but with a pocketful of change from the weekend, no luck on the river, and the manuscript trusted to postal employees, I just figured I would head towards Amy's. And Bookpeople. I wandered around, trying to remember the name of that book someone recommended to me, something Tim Dorsey said. Buck Fever. Picked it up and another paperback, and headed to check out line with a fishing magazine. I looked at the total before I signed the charge slip. That magazine cost $9.99. More than either individual book.


Maybe it's not so weird.

That long phone conversation with my psychic friend, Sunday morning? It was about a book she's working on, the outline's been greenlighted by a publisher. But there were certain marketing considerations - and more important - marketing concessions.

At what point is it selling out? All I pointed out was how to fashion material that makes a package more attractive to a publisher. Not that I'm any good at that myself. I've stubbornily refused to change up my own material to make it better suited for a particular market.

Whatever you do, don't quote Hamlet Act II, scene two, the character Polonius, back at me. Read the whole passage - I can be a stickler about context.

What's visible in Austin's early evening sky.

That was something else.
The "Body-Mind-Soul-Expo" was a rousing rendition of work.

One shot, early in the morning, I was on the phone, talking to a psychic friend about upcoming radio-TV talk opportunities, and seeing as how it was a long-term Leo friend and occasional professional associate, I was carrying on, and what did I notice?

Thomas (Scorpio) was polishing his crystal ball. One of them. So, while still on the phone I dug out the camera, and I snapped his picture.


Linda (Pisces) made a snickering comment, "Thomas, quite cleaning your balls." I laughed so hard I had to put the phone down for a minute.

Old pictures

Which is odd, because he pictures were from the phone's camera, not more than a day old.

Kris Kristofferson onstage

Austin Ferry plaque.

J. Frank Dobie quote:
"Great literature transcends its native land, but none that I know ignores its soil."

Working weekend.
Off to work for the weekend, fortunately, it's right around the corner. Unfortunately, it's still work, and we're opposite SXSW music shows.

Merc Notes - from the first of this year. Yeah baby, that link's for you.

Big Mamma fish. Had me one Friday morning. Light line, small spinner, bouncing and jigging the spoon off the bottom. I was sure it was a snag, until I noticed it started to move. I walked that line up and down the shoreline, and I kept tightening the drag on the reel, and we were doing just fine until she headed for a stump. I know about the snag and the stump, the brush under there. Once she took off upstream like that? I was a doomed. The line snapped as she raced under that stump - right in front of the dock. Big one. Got away. And that was 8-pound line, too.

The rest of the story:
I alternated between fishing and writing all morning. I got two more tickles, but I never got my lure back from that one monster fish, who will, no doubt, grow in size with the telling of the story. By mid-afternoon, the rain and mist cleared off and I took off for a long walk, work the kinks out of my system as I'll spend all of Saturday and Sunday, parked on my butt. Lunch in a little place where English is optional with Univision going in the corner. I'm beginning to prefer media in Spanish, makes it easier to take.

A cop was just putting a cop boat in the water, and I joked with him briefly, although, he wasn't sure how to take it. Let's see, he has no speed limit on the lake, freshly rebuilt motor, the sun was out, he was in shorts, looks like a good gig to me.

He puttered off upstream, same direction I was heading. I did catch him at the First Street bridge, about the same time my phone jingled in my pocket, "I've got your backstage pass, if you just want to come to the back gate," someone told me. I didn't get a chance to make a smart comment to the stranded officer. Maybe that was better. He had the cowling off the motor, and he was working on something.

I sauntered backstage, pasted on the day pass, and immediately headed for the crowd in front. It looked like a pretty small crowd for a free Kris Kristofferson show.

Just as I headed towards the stage and staked out a good spot, some DJ did the introduction, and I was suddenly in a huge crowd.

This is where it gets weird. I look at people. The guy in front of me, much older, wearing a "Dale Jr." shirt, was singing along to the songs, making eyes at his female companion of similar vintage. The songs you know by heart. Standing close by, a young couple was swaying to the music, probably about the same age as the signer's children. Very mixed crowd, but it did tend towards the older side. But not exclusively. Plenty of the young and hip, "here, try this, it's called, 'Shiner,' it's their beer here...."

It was just Kris Kristofferson, singing a handful of his hits, making humorous comments about his harmonica playing, like, "Bob Dylan it ain't, but it'll do...."

Sure, it was magic.

I left right after the set, about 50 minutes of music.

I got turned around and didn't feel like doing the Salmon thing, swimming upstream against the crowds, so it was just easier to swing back downtown, snag some mail out of the PO box, and then head home. Cruising around downtown? Music, musicians and music fans everywhere.

Got the funniest note in the mailbox, too. About a new Bass Pro shop. Once again, I was walking along a downtown sidewalk, chuckling to myself.

I watched as a punk-a-billy band rolled their instruments towards some venue. Stand-up bass and stand-up wave hair was the clue. Hank III shirt, then a few moments later, a Hank Jr. shirt. Just weird observations, no place for any of them.

After the previous evening's success with night fishing, I really wanted to try it again.

I got home, and there was a second query from a different publisher.

My head is spinning, and I don't know what to do. Got to get some sleep.
Premature excitement.
I was standing at the edge of the lake, and I was noticing some pretty small fish, darting in and around the edge of the dock I was standing on. Voice mail buzzed.

I picked up the message a few minutes later, and it was from a publisher's agent - the buyer. Hey, it's better than nothing. I've got a publisher interested in the book.

"Need the complete manuscript, in manuscript format...." (&c.)

Close to 300 pages. Means a quick trip the office supply super store for more toner. That's 300 plus pages. This is by no means a sale, nor a contract, just the faint, glimmering hope of something. I'd love for a real book designer, a real editor, to get their hands on my work.

I'm not cheap, but I'm easy. Or is it, I'm not easy, but I'm cheap? I'm not cheap and easy because, after all, I do live like a monk.

There's been a large, upward spike in website traffic. Not sure what that has to do with anything. Sever load peaked at over 500 page views for the front page, and held steady at that number, for several hours on Thursday morning. Highest I've seen it in a while.

Gemini sandwich maker. I was fascinated by her tat, basically a square swatch of pink, on her upper right arm....

"What's that?"

"Package of artificial sweetener. Just like me."

The other shoulder had a good Texas cowgirl and "Texas" spelled out in a rope.

"There's another one on my back you have never seen, it's skull with a crossed knife and fork underneath it."

Crap. I've seen that one. In fact, I've used that tat in a horoscope. Never saw her face. The knife and fork are in the small of her back. Guess that explains that. I've obviously observed part of her anatomy at some point.

UFO over Mars?
What BBC reported.

I was reading through the assembled statistics:
The average is male with a college degree, living in MA, white, between the age of 21 & 30, and has been blogging for more than two years.

I'm still not average. Except the white and college degree part.

Last night's fish:

Little good for-nothing-bass:
It bit me while I was trying to dig the hook out.
(grow up buddy and we'll spar again)

Three-meat Thursday
1. Every picture tells a story?

The deal was, it was supposed to be a Trifecta of BBQ, the Triple Crown. Down the road to Lockhart, BBQ Capitol of the World, and take in Kruez's, Floyd's, and Black's. Sounded like a plan.

So that was how the day started, swing by Jo's for some caffeine to get going, then on down the road towards L-Town. Me and a seriously hung-over Gemini. Oh the SXSW crews are already clogging the streets, a group was making a documentary about bringing a documentary to Austin. Triple Crown, out of town? Smoked prime rib at Kruez's, sausage and homemade bread at Chisholm Trail (plus some brisket, couldn't pass it up), then over to Black's for some pork ribs.

Vegetables consumed? A slice of onion, a pint of BBQ sauce and part of a pickle. Missed the smoked turkey and BBQ chicken, so we really did strike out on the eating too much. But we did give it a good try.

"I'm going to go home and take a long nap."

Sounded like an even better plan.

2. Tim Dorsey was in town to promote and sign his latest Serge Storms novel, Cadillac Beach. Other books in the series? I suggest starting with Florida Roadkill, followed with Hammerhead Ranch, sprinkled liberally with Orange Crush, topped off with Triggerfish Twist, and served with Stingray Shuffle.

I walked over to the bookstore for the signing. Me, maybe two or three other folks, along with the author, were there. I had a cup of coffee from the cofee bar, and the phone kept jangling in my pocket, as there some folks supposed to join me, and everyone was held up by traffic.

As a congenial host, Tim introduced himself, and he started telling stories. He's a masterful storyteller, and the tales just got better and better as the evening wore one. He almost filled the room, and he was wondering because this crowd hung ojn until the bitter end. He would periodically stop, and take questions, and those questions would launch into a roundabout answer, which would involve some tale from some place, and the family history, and what happened when....

He has a great love of Florida, and that combines with an encyclopedic grasp of history, a sense of skewed perspective, and best of all, a masterful raconteur. Plus, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. That was just too cool.

3. In unrelated news:
Mark Cuban has a weblog.

Subtitle: how many farm animals can you fit on a plate?

Every picture tells a story.
The truck.
Kreuz's Part One.
Kreuz's Part Two

Black's BBQ

Jackalope in Black's dining room.

Two-Meat Tuesday.
It's a platter, at the Green Mesquite. Tuesday's special. I worked on a website for a client Tuesday morning. Then I worked with astrology clients for a little while. Then I fished for a short spell, as the sun was playing hide and seek with skittering cloud cover. I finally suited up and rambled off for a late lunch in a packed BBQ joint, and from there, headed towards SXSW, the last day. One more workshop, "Getting it (online)" was the title. Figured it would be good for some humor.

Maybe. Maybe not. Last workshop, last thing for the geek stuff, and everyone was a little burned out. Just an educated guess, but that was what I sensed. Two folks with advanced psychology degrees and the rest of the panel were clowns. Especially one of my favorite Aquarius personalities ("I don't believe that astrology stuff") Ben Brown, local luminary.

Talk about past lives and ex-wives, I ran into a former employee, from, well, a long time ago, in land far, far away. Stuck back in the fog of a forgotten childhood, a grey-headed - now a professor - emerged on a side street near the convention center. I greeted him by his first name. He did the up and down scan, looked twice, blinked, tried to focus, and since I didn't have my badge on, he was having trouble. "Kramer? Kramer!"

3 minutes of catch-up and "I've got to catch a plane chatter." He was a film panelist. I was just a scholarship attendee for the "interactive" - big difference.

He rushed off; I paused, grinned, giggled to myself at running into him, and headed towards the arena. Two local volunteers who apparently know me, assured me that chuckling to myself was "not allowed." I just couldn't help it. He's been showing up for this thing for 11 years, and this is the first time I've run into him.

"Wow," he kept muttering, "you look good."

I believe he meant "healthy." I was just coming in from a 2-meat platter, I'd cleared zero fish but some good time casting a line, done some miles on the trail, and I was thinking my way through some academic problem. Shorts, sandals, a little sun crisp, a Hawaiian shirt (made in Hawaii, thank-you-very-much), feeling in top form for a slow Tuesday. That's not what I looked like years ago. Plus, I know that I don't know much. Then? I knew it all. Right. Sure. The folly of youth....

I ran into an ex-girlfriend, current client, and others while I was waiting around for that last workshop. I'm sticking to working out theories, trends, and personality traits with planets. It's what I like to do.

Two-meat-Tuesday is going to lead to a BBQ sojourn, I hope. That's the plan.

Plus this:
(phone photo didn't turn out right - should say "Tim Dorsey Tonight!)

Urban Tribes
Urban Tribes, the book provided an intriguing title to the workshop, perhaps the only workshop I was really looking forward to, but I also suspected, with a complete title like: "Urban Tribes the social dark matter that binds us together," I might be set up for disappointment. The author walks in, sits down, fusses with the computer for moment, then announces that he's the panel. Looked a little lonely up there, all by himself.

Ethan Watters is an unlikely spokesperson for a generation, and yet, he's somehow got himself shoveled into that slot. Plus, as he pointed out, he was a non-techie at a techie conference. He didn't understand that, and he seemed a little surprised about being there.

I'd never even heard of the book before, much less the author, and I was pleasantly surprised by his attitude, his gentle manner, and the way he presented his material. From his talk, I was doing the math in my head, trying to work backwards, married for so long, has a child now, daughter's so old, think and coming up with a year of birth for him at 1965. Just a guess. Plus, he was talking about all the markings that I find in that particular generation, my point of view, though, is as an astrologer.

The ones I'm always most curious about are the 1965-66, Pluto conjunct Uranus in Virgo, grouping. I've looked at this before, and I can stretch that to encompass 1964 to 1967, and there's a fudge factor, too, available, as long as the parts in the charts add up.

After the presentation, and there were a couple of questions from folks who'd actually read the book, I stopped to talk. He was addressing a matter I've looked at for years now, only, doing so from an entirely different point of reference. The only question I had for the guy was, "What's your birthday?" Cancer. 1964. I was off by a year, maybe six months.

After another workshop, I wandered off to the trade show to buy the book and get it signed. Two cute tricks: one, he was using a rubber stamp to add a little extra decoration to his author's signature, and two, he pointedly included his birthday and a question, "what's it mean?"

I know and understand next to nothing about demographics, audience, metrics, or, for that matter, any scientific (sociological, anthropological) methods of study. I can't rate his methods of quantifying or qualifying his information.

But I did sit down, outside a favorite coffee stop, with a steaming double espresso, and I proceeded through the introduction, and headed on into the first chapter. The sun came out, I shed my shirt, pulled the bill of the hat down lower, my convention badge in my pocket and safely out of sight, and I read for a bit, waiting on the next workshop.

The book is on my "currently reading" list. I'll leave a plug for it on the first page for a while. Might have been the espresso, but I found the style of writing to be engaging, self-deprecating, and wryly amusing. Bonus. He's a good stylist. The topic? I can't answer for sure, but I was so pleased to stumble into a text that dealt with the same issues, although, it's not in the same framework I'm accustomed to.

Just a higher casualty rate
It was a late quote. The first workshop's panel was one author, more about that later . There's a new book on the recommended list: Urban Tribes.

The other workshops I attended? Yes, well, I laughed, enjoyed, and as usual, was greatly amused. A thoughtful comment, to answer the question, "Where is personal publishing going to be in ten years?" was answered, in part, while a girl held up a phone-camera, took a picture, and seconds later, it was on the screen, having gone from her phone to email to a web server, and then being automatically posted. Whizz-bang techno.

At another panel, there were three guys with phone/cameras and three different sets of tools for doing that exact same thing. "Who'd a-thunk it?"

One woman's site flashed on the screen, then another, and at one time or another, I've linked to both their sites. Rogue librarians, thrill seekers, maybe a note about a sun sign, other clues. Whatever. But what scared me was realizing that this was starting to turn into a a slightly incestuous group.

Funniest off-the-cuff comment, heard outside the rooms? "It sometimes cheaper to just mail the client some more RAM instead of spending the production time to re-work a site so it's compatible with their old browser."

I didn't actually get a lot out of those the last couple of workshops. How about a long list of links? With a comment at the end. Geeks will be geeks. Pud moderated one rousing panel, and I kept thinking there was something up.

Danah Boyd
Games Forecast
Hot or Not
Sever Beach
Fucked Company
Our Type
2 advanced
Perfect Fools
Flash forward
U Texas
We Fail
Bob Schneider (award winner)
Donny Darko
Troll back
Joshua Davis

A closing comment, to one of the more entertaining, if not enlightening workshops, "Didn't we do group therapy for everyone with a personal home page - five years ago?"

Observations, part the second:
I had to step into a Men's Room, to handle some personal business. Needed to drain some coffee. As I swung through the door and rounded the corner, I noted there were four urinals. Three were occupied. Identical young men, clad in casual baggy jeans, various shirts, and draped over each one, on the right shoulder, was a faux messenger bag. More than a purse, less than a backpack, something in between. I just had a phone/PDA/pencil & paper. I'm so out of the loop. My shoulder bag, when I tote it, carries a laptop workstation, books & magazines, and assorted cables plus a lucky charm or two. I let out a sigh, I'm just not hip anymore.

In the same bathroom, washing my hands, I listened while one guy complimented another on his presentation, "You realize, you're half the age of the other guy on the panel?"

I should learn how to write better - more gripping - entries.

As I was headed over the Congress Bridge, I listened while a boatswain hollered instructions to the rowing (sculling) crew, "Look out for the shallow part by the water plants," and I wanted to make note - another weed bed to fish - just a little west of that bridge, apparently. All them rowers are good for something.

I think it was Mr. Bradbury, didn't catch his first name, of Feed Demon fame, "Look: with a blog, I don't have to announce every release." Or something to that effect.

Which was weird, as the number two workshop was, as it turned out, the same person as last year, only now the book is out. Poor girl, teetering on 4-inch stiletto heels. Her curly hair frizzed by the moisture. In fact, part of the handout looked really similar to what she handed out last year. The PowerPoint presentation has been cleaned up a little, though. The presentation? It was 100% improved. Pretty much the same data, and I'm sure it's all covered in her book about how to get more paying visitors, or some such web usability title. But the presentation itself? Last year, it was one of the worst cases of presentation I've ever seen, exacerbated by good content, and this year, it was like, something fresh. A lot of the same ground was covered. Faster page loading, customer feedback, plain navigation links, tight code, style sheets. Name things clear, not clever.

She recounted a story about that ZeFrank guy. He did a small video, his usual style, and the clip was widely circulated, "I got over a million hits, made like, $300 in T-shirt sales from that!"

Lunch break, wandered over to the Hideout. Had a cup of coffee, a double shot of espresso, and stood outside, trying to discern a direction, when, my eyes did alight on a familiar form: a certain red-headed Capricorn. She went on and on about the various films she'd just seen, most notably: Supersize Me.

Wandered around a bit, wound up chatting with the film maker from 24 hours of Craig's List (Taurus and I predicted the movie would be a sleeper for another six months, gradually finding its niche after Halloween).

Fortified by Thai food and more caffeine, I wandered back to the convention arena. The trade show seems rather focused on movie-making. I stepped out onto a smoking balcony, succumbed to a free pack of American Spirits (bless them for being sponsors), and listened.

"Where's the guitars? Where's the pool table?"
"That's the musicians. That's next week."
"I am a musician, but forget that, I'm going to start making porno. There's more money."

SXSW Volunteers are an interesting lot. I'm guessing that "smoking lounge" is about 5 floors up, makes for some interesting interactions. Thankfully, no one thought I was a musician.

I wandered into the last workshop on my agenda, and immediately got a big "hello" from Pud. One of his associates had a Sony Vaio with an apple sticker on it. "Hey, is that one of the new Apples? Super-slim notebook?"

The presentation was about "Monetizing the Blogs." Look: it's a tiny ad, but there's a requisite Bass Pro ad on this site. Plus I link to Amazon whenever I can. It's not much, and it's won't ever amount to much, but it's something to help the "revenue stream."

I've had a journal/web log/whatever since late 1998. In fact, I've had written material on the web, since 1994. By 1995, I was understanding the power of buried links, so it's been "blog style" for a long, long time. Just web-based form of communication. So I like listening to folks talk about trends. This is a trend. Then, after the talk, I asked the main presenter what his birthday was. Bad call on my part, because any sales/pep talk I was about to deliver just got shot out of the water - 11/28. Sagittarius. Same as me. Yeah, that kid is hot. Not like that, I mean, his idea is hot. He's spotted a trend, and it's making money. It's a good model.

After citing problems with big media, those Sagittarius types do so well in journalism anyway, he was expounding, "Blog are going to be the lynchpin in cross media...."

It all goes back that idea that you can leave a comment.

Feast Day of St. Louise
St. Louise was the patron saint of widows.

One more R&J reference.

Questions and hypothesis about Easter Island.

Gratuitous kitty cam picture.


Planet news:
Ah yes, but from an astrological perspective? Until I get a good draw on it, I'd have to really consider more along the lines of the 'roids. Asteroids, not really planets, much weaker influence.

Workshops, part the first:
Two workshops, one in depth, one just cursory glance. As I walked into the convention center, and approached the information booth, Erica looked up at me, "Oh, you've had your hole punched - I can't help you."

Craig Newmark spoke for an hour about the history of Craig's List, the uses, the grass roots, democratic, self-policing, the work he does, and so and so forth. He did have a couple of choice quotes, though.

"I don't care much for the integrity of my agenda."

I found out that the "personals" section on Craigslist grew out of women searching for dating material through the "roommates wanted" ads because guys were more likely to be truthful when advertising for shared living space, i.e., roommate ads.

"Logic and reason don't work with human behavior."

I was buoyed by the fact that Craig actual had the term "moral compass" included and displayed his PowerPoint presentation.

For the other workshop, I started out with the first presenter's impressive display of acronyms: W3C, HTML, CSS, SMIL, XML, SVG, ATAG, WCAG. UAAG, API, RTFM. The notes stopped there. I certainly recognize that last one. But I did resolve to, at some point, redo some of the underpinnings to this website to make sure that they are more accessible to folks with poor eyesight. Or no eyesight, which was the point of the workshop. An interesting question was raised, and never really resolved, but at what point is it the user's responsibility - no longer in the problem of the designer or coder?

The bus in front of the Broken Spoke.

At the movies:
Starsky & Hutch.
It was recommended by a certain DJ, and all I wanted was something fun, light, and not too heavy on symbolism.

See: Friday was heavy on Pisces action. Pisces Lunch, Pisces waiter, later in the evening, Pisces waitress, all with February-Pisces birthdays. Weird how that happens - three in a row.

However, it was me and Sagittarius at the movies, and no, I don't want to see blood dripping from anyplace, or anything worse than cartoon violence. So the remake of Starksy and Hutch seemed like the way to go. It was.

Fine, light entertainment. I'm sure some of the visual gags and riffs on 1970's pop culture were lost, but the music was almost good.

Two scenes really amused me greatly. The "cop on cocaine" bit was entertaining as the character's progression moved deeper and deeper into his buzz. The way the eyes got redder and the pupils dilated, very funny. Laughed a lot at that.

The other one was the "Easy Rider" sequence. Masterful bit of cinematic something.

While waiting through the trailers at the beginning, though, I'm back to my basic premise that the trailers themselves are oftentimes better than the movie itself.

"Hey, in the trailer, I thought the car hit the boat."

First day of SXSW
A three hour tour?

The band, Elvis Hitler, covered "Green Acres" on one CD.

Any other good cover songs?

Uh-oh, this just noticed: Money by Pink Floyd is now a banned song.

Oddities and loose ends + Latin
Warm-up: Folks laughed at me when I attended workshops about this, but the bottom line was just that, the bottom line.

From the mail bag:

Round a-bout, 3/11/04 12:23 PM, ya'll "Valley Voice" said:
> SOB....

I get called lots of things, but I can't recall being called an SOB lately. Besides, when I checked both locations, there was Pisces, right at the top. Guess that happens when folks don't read too closely.

Round a-bout, 3/11/04 4:51 PM, ya'll said:
> I showed your fine print
> to my boss and he laughed and said that that is where
> we are headed. Thanks for the laugh..

We aim to please, ya'll aim, too, please.

Shakespeare analysis
A social networking diagram of the connections in some of the plays.

I did my first "computer analysis" back in school. Wasn't nearly as nice, just a word count and percentages of the recurring words in one of Iago's speeches. Not nearly as slick and cool as that.

Garfield: the movie: the novelization. I'm not sure about this one, take a cartoon strip, turn it into animation. Then make a movie. Then make a novel out of the movie?

I finished reading Simon Hawk's The Slaying of the Shrew. Too cute by half. If I happen on another copy of the work in a bookstore, I'd buy it, read it, then hand it on to other folks. The plot and the "whodunit" portion is passing okay, but some of the riffs on Shakespeare's lines and source notes are almost good. The way the character "Will Shakespeare" is described, furiously scribbling notes about dialogue, watch how people interact is good, though.

From Martial epigrams, volume II:

"Qui recitat lana fauces et colla revinctus
hic se posse loqui, posse tacere negat."
(Book VI, #41)

"Cosmicos esse tibi, Semproni Tucca, videris:
cosmica, Semproni, tam mala quam bona sunt."
(Book VII, #41)

"Vis futui gratis, cum sis deformis anusque.
res perridicula est: vis dare nec dare vis."
(Book VII, #75)
(Oh, that one's nasty.)

And from Martial epigrams, volume III:
"Crine rubber, niger ore, brevis pede, lumine laesus,
rem magnam praestas, Zolie, si bonus est."
(Book XII, #54)

"Choke on this, you Danceteria types!" (Dead Milkmen)

We'll meet again...
Went to see Dr. Strangelove at the Alamo last night. What a fantastic, wonderful, exceptional film.

Check out the cast, young versions of each (1964 film). Done in glorious black & white.

Just an excellent film, enhanced, no doubt, by this being my first ever theater viewing. I think I've seen this on TV, or maybe I had a videotape of it at one time. Love the way the credits look.

One bit of trivia, presumably a fact I've learned and since forgotten, was that Terry Southern was included as one of the screenwriters.

In this viewing, I was particularly taken with a young George C. Scott's version of the General Buck. He reminds me of some one.

My mind must be in the gutter, but I couldn't help but see flagrant sexual innuendo in the very first scene, a B-52 refueling in mid-air.

More on tats
Submitted by a Sagittarius the tattoo

Round a-bout, 3/10/04 2:36 AM, ya'll "cabeza" said:

> It’s called “Largemouth Bass de Guadalupe”.


Anyone know what the Texas State Fish is?

Tuesday's Two-way action (two meat plate)
Coffee & fishing action.

I took it as a sign, perhaps a sign from the heavens, maybe a more mundane type of signal, but the coffee I made first thing Tuesday morning turned out perfect. Might be the finest coffee I've ever brewed at home. The beans were a gift from Hawaii, Kona Beans, and I ground them up, then dumped them into a newer model French Press, added water that was just about boiling hot, and squeezed the strainer through. Amazing coffee, looked like a fine, dark-amber, pale ale, with almost a half inch of foam on top, a perfect head on the coffee. The foam even made it into the morning's espresso cup.

The sun was out and even though the computer was reporting it was a chilly 45 degrees, at the shore, on the dock? The morning sun blazing across the lake's surface, a gentle breeze ruffling the waters? I was barefoot and I quickly spilled out of the heavy shirt. I tossed a rattle trap across the water, skipping it and letting it sink to grass beds offshore. I wasn't doing too well, except that I did I have one strike, a bad boy from one of the grass beds snapped at the lure. We wrestled for nearly a second before he shook the lure out of his mouth, and I yanked hard on the line. It was like that fish spit the lure out and sent the bait flying towards me.

Third item: Tats!

So it was a day full of near misses. Not bad at all. When I was on the trail, meandering through the east side, I noticed a young buck in the lake, doing that bedding thing. Marked for fishing, later. A little action is better than no action, right?

To (whatever) or not to (whatever)
This is disturbing.

Monday's Blues
Nice version of Hotel California, via an Aquarius.

The fish told me to get back to work.

Makes that afternoon espresso a good idea.

Glad I don't work overtime, just work 7 our of 7, most weeks. Following a news link from there, I'm reminded, "Weekends: brought to you by unions."

So I was headed towards Green Mesquite and I rang up a Gemini to check on her, she said she was just finishing at her hair stylist, and my Gemini decided to pop on by for some BBQ. She walked in at the point where I was about halfway through a plate of ribs and brisket, and I greeted her with a cheery smile, and around some potato salad, I noted that she'd had her hair cut.

Lunch proceeded, and then she reminded me that I blew the "hair cut" comment. In my defense, I did notice.

"But you didn't tell me how nice it looked."

Remember, next time?

My Virgo neighbor rang me up for some dinner, and we headed off towards Guero's. Yeah, a Virgo, Guero's, tequila, it all spells trouble.

So as she got started on that margarita, I was asking about her weekend, wherein she colored her hair. "Looks great, I like the way you've colored it." I couldn't tell, in the front bar at Guero's? At night? Under the neon? Looks fine. But I'd remembered from the previous lunch-time experience, and I wasn't about to say anything stupid.

At least, nothing more stupid than hair comments.

"Do you like the jeans?"

"Hey, looks like you've lost a little weight."

"So the jeans make me look fat?"

You know, if dinner and Jupiter weren't on the plate for the evening, I would've been done for, right there.

Fortunately for me, Jupiter is in Virgo. But one day, maybe I'll take my own advice, "When you're in a hole, the fastest way out is to stop digging."

It's long way to the other side.

Lorum Ipsum
What's that really mean?


Saturday afternoon, I took a quick spin through Bass Pro - it was across from Sister's hotel, I just couldn't pass up a chance to shop for gear. Never did find what I was looking for, but one of the guides working comes up to me, "Hey, don't I know you?"

"Nope, you've never seen me before." I wanted to do that Jedi Mind Trick, too, "These are not the fishing guides you are looking for..."

So I picked up Sister's crew chief and with a truckload of walnut furniture (real Arkansas walnut, handcrafted, &c.), and moseyed back towards Austin, then on down to Lockhart. Stopped off with Bubba Sean, had us fine BBQ at Blacks. Dropped off the big deak with him, chez casa de bubba.


And kept on going. Just like that energizer bunny, right to home and to bed.

Sunday morning, at 5:25 AM I was at the right place with pole in hand, ready to catch fish. It was cold, it was dark and I was wearing sunglasses. Or maybe they were in my pocket, but we were off.

What gorgeous dawn, the fish were stirring the surface, I got a couple of strikes on a little spinner, didn't get the fish "caught," but I was having fun, nonetheless.

I did have a big one "shake the hook," and I was using a rattle-trap on that bad boy. The way I see it? The fish were in rare form, able to spit them lures out pretty fast. Canny fish. Way it goes.


I was just sure that the hat Fredlet sent me was going to bring me good luck, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

The Moon and Jupiter set, the sun came up and I stripped down to shorts. What a nice day it was. And it was far from over.

I was trying to impress Blue Valentine, and her predelictions run towards "scruffy," so I skipped shaving, shower and nap, and instead of donning a clean shirt, I just picked up a New Bohemia Hawaiian print, and headed up to Halcyon to meet the gang.

I tried to impress that punk rock girl, but to no avail....

"No piercings that can lift cinder blocks and what? Or car battery? Even a beer keg!"

I just crossed my arms and legs and doubled over in empathic pain.

Gone Fishing
Are the fish biting? "No honey, really, I'm at work Can't you hear it?"

"That's twice my brother's cried and that's twice I've lost that bet."

Good gambling sense doesn't seem to run in the family. Twice, Sister has wagered with her troupe that I won't shed a tear. When she came out from behind the curtain at the wrap up to last night's semi-private performance, she looked over at me with tears streaming down my face, "I'm going to go broke wagering that he won't cry," she said.

It was a private show, put on for a group associated with a church, and the two points that broke my floodgates? Simple stuff, really. The way a piece of tissue evoked pain, fear, self-loathing. The way the demons can be beaten by combined forces.

After the show, the tech guy seemed a little too interested in me, "So, you're from Austin? Got room for another rider?"

Looks like I can tell all kinds of stories about the mythic childhood of me and Sister.

Payback for making me cry.

Monty Python & the Grail
Which is odd, because I actually took a graduate class in "Grail Literature." Yee-haw. At the Alamo downtown.

The real quest for The Holy Grail was steeped in literature and romance, buried deep in mythology. Thanks to the best selling author, Dan Brown, the quest is alive again.

Personally, I prefer the Monty Python version. It's just silly. There are actual mythic elements in the way the story's told, and that part is much richer with repeated viewing. Might have been the pizza, too.

As I topped the flight of stairs to enter the Alamo, the ticket taker took one look at me, "You have beautuful hair."

Twice in two days.

I'm off for a quick trip to Dallas. Load up a truck with some dress clothes and head to Big D for Sister and her show for an evening, then buzz back down the road with furniture in tow.

"Now, go away, or I shall taunt you some more."

Writing about writing:
I just finished up one of my "experimental" horoscopes. Toughest idea I've come up thus far, too. Took more than a week to hammer out 12 signs' worth of material. It's meandering, wandering and strays off-topic one too many times. I can only hope that a subsequent edit will clean it all up. A whole week to finish up one set of scopes? That's about right.

Today's date is 3/4
Three Quarters? Three-four time? I still like three-fourths. Reminds me of an album, too.

Part One: SXSW is rapidly approaching. Oh joy. "South By South West" is an annual event, and it's grown to the point that it includes a film festival component, an "internet" track, and the usual venue of new (and now old, too) musical artists.

The Shallow Water Expo is concurrent, and frankly, I'm more looking forward to that. Plus there's Body Mind Soul event, also concurrent with South-By. I'm not sure those event planners did a very good job, picking those dates. We'll see.

I was poking around on the South-By site, digging through the "interactive grid," the list of available workshops. While I have high hopes for this year, I also have far more realistic expectations, this time, as well.

Hotels are crowded, downtown is booked solid, there's a streaming, teeming mass of humanity infiltrating all of my local environments, upsetting the bucolic pace. I tend to skip the music scene, and the best part for me, the only bit I partake of, is the "interactive workshops."

Sometimes, those workshops yield nuggets of information. Useful nuggets. Other times? It's all kind of boring.

"Welcome to Austin. Have some breakfast tacos & coffee. Eat well. Drink Shiner & tequila. Marvel at our wonderful place - we're spoiled rotten, listen to the music. Leave all your money then go home. Thank ya'll."

Part Two: Unrelated:
That all time classic. Why we're strictly "catch & release."

Part Three: Unrelated:
Dinner at Geno's, way down South First Street, deep in the heart. We walk in, sit down, and the waitress looks at us Sagittarius folks, seeing me from the back, "What do you girls want?"

Been so long since I've been addressed thusly that I was greatly amused. In fact, that became the introduction to this week's scope. That poor Taurus server was just beside herself with apologies.

Two-Meat Tuesday (platter)
It's not the big events in life, it's not the cataclysmic, earth-shattering, heavens-open-up type of scenarios that matter, not on a Tuesday morning.

One: I grabbed a pole and scooted down to the banks of the river, not planning on any success. There, in the shallows in front of me, two nice-sized black bass were cruising along.

"There you are," I whispered to the fish, immediately worried that a neighbor might have overheard me talking to fish.

I dropped magic bait in front of one. No luck. Wasn't interested. I flipped magic bait in front of another, and before I got the bait back, it was generating some attention, then I lost the lure on a snag. My bad. Fish wins.

It was misting, raining, overcast, ugly, cloudy cool kind of a day. But warm enough for shorts. Not warm enough to fish in the rain, though.

Two: I was ambling along downtown, in meandering, afternoon way, not up for much and the new cell phone jiggled. I looked at the call ID, didn't recognize the number, and answered, "Yeah?"

"Is Stephanie there?"

"You have the wrong number."

In fact, I was much ruder than that. In fact, that was the third name, third call, and now I'm tired of it.

I realize that third call wasn't handled in a diplomatic way, but after three calls, and hey, that's airtime I'm paying for, I think I have a right to be rude. What's troubling for me? Three different names. So that's three different folks who've had this number before me. I guess the folks dialing the number aren't big on updating records. They will after a earful of colorful profanity.

Testing material
The way this works. There's been so much material written about "what is a blog" that I don't care to cover that subject. At all. Besides, this is more a web journal, although the lines between the two are pretty thin.

What I use this entire website for? Testing and research. Astrological research in what makes human behaviors what they are. I've always loved the way two people with similar astrological signatures can react in largely different ways. Dig deep enough, though, and frequently the motivation is the same.

So this isn't a weblog, or blog, or even really a web journal. I used to save rejection letters but they bother me less and less, and what I do hold on to are successes.

I was asked about one example of research, testing, and process - my luck with a certain asteroid, as a behavioral influence, proved, to me, that the asteroid's purported influence was minimal. One in less than 200 felt its influence. Conclusion? Worthless as an indicator unless supported by other data.

But that's the astrological - behavioral - psychological side of the text. The other aspect, my personal textual playground? That's what this is.

It's also a record, of my activity, what's up, what's going on, where I am, and so forth.

Buddha + sign

I tend, at times, the consider this a form of fiction. My life, as I like it lived, or as I live it, or, whatever happens.

There's something about, in the words of famous Texas author, "wrestling the events to the page," that puts it al in perspective.

Ma Wetzel did pass through town, and I did load her little car with that Buddha, destination: Dallas, purpose: Sister. I could very easily have taken it up there myself, but I just thought it was more fitting to ride with Ma Wetzel. Gave her something to worry about. My humor turned strange, and I had that business card for some reason, and I tucked it under the statuette.

Gemini's - or just about any sign - they pop up in groups of three. At a gun range, I suppose, that would be a good grouping. Sister - panic over a medical issue - Gemini her in town, ex-boyfriend, and the third? Bubba Sean - "Welcome to Corporate America."

Writing about writing
I had a great "theme" idea for a set of scopes, forthcoming at a future date, and I loved the idea. Unfortunately, it's turning into an unmanageable bear because it's a subject I'm not familiar with, not in the current terms.

I don't do too many "theme" scopes, as I've rarely found a thematic element that I can stretch across a whole series of 12 signs. This one idea is a stretch, and I've had to do some research. Plus I've discovered a huge, whopping hole in my "cultural intelligence." Goes with not owning a TV.

Since the work is about half done, and it's a good bit, in my mind, I have to keep after it.

Alas, I'm also a lot more interested in pushing forward with two more themes. I really should wait and see how the model is received before pursuing such a direction. And, instead of working, I'm busy doing "research" on the web. Right, like that's the excuse. I just hope the boss doesn't ding me for this one.

It's the Feast Day of St. David, according to my notes. Regrettably, I didn't note what he was famous for, nor, for that matter, did I find any details. I think there's a local church that bears the same name.

Two items of note, both via The New Yorker magazine, about Lyle Lovett and another article that was linked from someplace, but I couldn't find that link. It must've scrolled off. The second item was a funny column about Coke versus Pepsi. More amusing: I read it in the magazine itself before I saw it online, by mere minutes. Then, as I finished that one magazine, towards the end, after reading about an issue in Africa, I flipped to the next page, and there was one of my all-time favorite Scorpio's: Lyle Lovett. Brilliant article, and yet, it misses a few points. But not many points are missed and there's that sly, evocative tone the article uses, much like Lyle's dry wit.

Interesting fact about Lyle's Large Band? Costs so much to put it out on the road, they have to play five dates to make money on the 6th. Sounds about right.

I liked the way the article used that same "Lyle Lovett sound," a reflection of the artist's music, as the tone for the article itself. Which gets back to the idea of a thematic context for series of scopes, I suppose, but I've run out of steam. Maybe the morrow shall bring a message from a muse.

Newton History
From the old Bank & Trust building in San Marcos:

North West corner of the town square in San Marcos

Convenient geography lesson.

An addition to the Stardust motif - let's see if any other book covers pick up these:

State Motel

Star Motel

Lantana Motel

Music: response
Obviously a Chemical Brothers reference.

But the one I was thinking of? "Stuart" by the Dead Milkmen.

And I quote, hum along if you know the tune, "I like you Stuart, you're not like the rest of the people, here in the trailer park."

More music: Austin Music Network in a political debate?

Two cell phone
Which is really a misnomer because I haven't had a genuine "cellular" phone in four or five years. Phones these days? Most of them are actual a digital version of the cellular service. But they aren't really cell phones. However, the name's stuck.

So how weird is it to have a phone with a tiny screen and more computing ability than the first couple of computers I used, I mean, combine those computers, and this little phone is still smaller, faster and has a ton more storage.

I do feel a tad bit odd wandering around with two phone, plus a voice mail beeper, clipped to my waist. Too geeky, even for me. Glad this is a temporary overlap.

I want to run away. I just might.

But instead, I finally rolled out of bed, got up, looked the computer square in the eye, and started to tackle the business end of business. Took a few minutes, but I got a lot of material covered. Bill paying, sorting through stacks of material that accumulate when I'm gone, just the usual amount of work related to working. None of which was fun.

I did firm up reservations and snagged a flight on sale for El Paso/Las Cruces for next month. I like the symmetry of bookends, and I've got an El Paso event sandwiched between the lecture series and readings in Las Cruces. When I popped my calendar up, I pleasantly noted that March is completely full for weekends, and April is filling up fast.

Pisces predictions - Feast Day of St. Walburga
Some place I covered this material in text form. And that saint? Invoked to protect crops from the ravages of weather.

Whether I was in Las Cruces, NM, or here in Austin, TX, it's that Pisces thing.

Why I was thinking about it? Kelly was my back-up and after I checked her chart, she was my main person for the "Fat Tuesday at Paradox with Beat 104.3 Radio" gig. I think the music is Hip-Hop. That's what I was told. Someone tried to give me one of those handshakes, and I blew it completely, I only know the straight white shake.

I did have fun setting up, and at the end of the afternoon, I did have fun with the Pisces, which was the point I was driving towards.

It's astronomy time: Mercury has a north pole and south pole, goes around the sun every 88 days. Venus has a north pole and south pole, goes around the sun every 260 days. Earth, north pole, south pole, 23 degree axial tilt, day, night season, goes around the sun every 365 days. Mars, north pole, south pole, and so on. On out to Uranus: its north pole points at the sun at all times; therefore, Uranus is rolling along sideways like a giant pool ball. Whoa.

That's the big feller in Pisces, and in the readings, especially last weekend, then again, looking at Miss Kelly's chart, same alignment, lots of energies. Weird stuff, too, because, that's the energy, which is 90 degrees different than any other planetary influence. Whoa.

Why we love Pisces and why it was such an interesting weekend. And the week starts? Pisces? Whoa.

> Thanks SO MUCH for the reading you did in Cruces! I love it, it was a blast!
> [the> (red headed Pisces) loved hers too - we got together and compared
> us women do, ya know. hehehe...

Can't ask for higher praise.

Fat Tuesday
This one's late, but I've been up to my ears in Pluto, and some other planets.


Heart of the Dove is in Las Cruces, NM. It's only about 30 miles or so up the road from El Paso. While I was assured that it was Interstate 10 we were on, it sure felt like it was a northbound highway. Don't argue with women, it just doesn't work. Even if I was right.

I had a tremendous good time at HoD, in Cruces. It was an invigorating crowd. Different, way different readings than what I'm used to you. A couple of patterns did emerge, and one was the "New Moon" observation, the sun sign and the moon sign being the same.

Then there was the Pisces element. Just about every chart had planets at a few degrees of Pisces, right under the influence of that New Moon and the Uranus effect, and what all else was there.

I never had a chance to sort through the voluminous material I'd received about Heart of the Dove. Rather, I just jumped right on in. The lecture was a small crowd, but I was determined to put forth a good show. I felt good about it, despite it occurring when the moon was at its darkest.

The deal was it's just another unassuming little frame structure, not far from a hot dog stand, sort of in the middle of Las Cruces, apparently, the second largest town in New Mexico, and the principle source of income is New Mexico State University. No details given.

I had a lot more details, and I was planning on working up a few specific points, but what it amounts to, I'm 1) too tired, and 2) it was just an amazing place. Good energy. Folks with their hearts in the right place, or, at the very least, trying really hard to do the right thing. I can't recall when I felt that much positive energy in one spot. Like all the Hallmark, New Age crap about "vortex" energies. Only at Heart of the Dove? It was real.

It's also considered a ministry, and for once, only one of maybe three or four times in my life, I was in real church that was doing what churches are supposed to do. A sense of community. A sense of place, a sense of belonging. Amazing.

I do think, after the service on Sunday, when my only comment for the nominal "pastor," all I cold say? "You rock!"

Ain't got much higher praise than that.

So it's Fat Tuesday, and I'm supposed to work at some club near Austin's 6th Street. Oh, that's different.

Two-part harmony
Both Saturday and Sunday morning, I was awaken to the smell of morning food cooking. Seeing as the guest room is right off the kitchen, this isn't surprising. One morning, it was the smell of chorizo, sizzling in the pan. It has a unique aroma, and it was fresh chorizo, from a health food store, local material, local blend.

I once read the ingredients, while in a supermarket, on the label of the "good" brand of chorizo. It was basically various pig parts, leftovers that couldn't be used in other fashion. One place in Austin makes its own chorizo, and while it's good, it's not nearly as good as that stuff which is just swept up off the floor of a slaughterhouse. I can't tell about the El Paso brand of chorizo, other than it mixed well with scrambled eggs, and the mixture made a perfect burrito, a little for breakfast and little for later.

There was something calming, invigorating, and altogether unique about waking up to the scents of peppers being boiled for fresh salsa, an onion being sautéed for peccadillo beef, and the coffee pot dripping fresh coffee. Nothing fancy, but the earth tone, the earthen hues, and the smell of a real Southwestern breakfast being started in the early morning, it's one of those experiences that can't be duplicated.

I was running up and down the western flank of the Oregon & Franklin Mountains. Pretty much the eastern edge of the West. El Paso, Southern New Mexico, Ciudad Juarez and old Mexico across the river, the lights in Mexico at night? All laid out like diamonds on a jeweler's black velvet display cloth.

The second part, and of the experiences I most miss in El Paso proper, is the Tigua Indian Casino. I usually did well there. Liked it. It was fun. And it was closed. Drove most the traffic right across the street to Sunland Park. It's one of those situations, bounce over the railroad tracks and there's another casino, which is so weird, as it's looks like it's in El Paso, but geographically, it's really in New Mexico.

One night that casino. One of the very crowded nights, I watched as two little "mamacitas" were nattering back and forth in Spanish, tipping some solution out of bottle, rubbing it on the slot machine's window, then hitting the numbers. 7-7-7. Again. Again and again. More stuff rubbed on the window.

"Hey," I suggested in a jovial manner, "rub me, too!"

"No. Machine bizzy," she glared. O gringo was going to take her winning machine.

My companion explained in fluent Spanish that I just wanted some of whatever it was they were rubbing on the machine? Rub it on me.

I was Patchouli. They showed us the bottle. Cheap perfume, linked to winning. It was Tabasco branded slot machine, in fact, three in a row, and all three were hot that night. Those little old ladies weren't about to give up their spots. Plus, that bottle of patchouli was almost empty.

The next day, while I was Heart of the Dove, I asked about the other branch, which is "Ancient Legacies," an aromatherapy place. "Got any patchouli?"

The Moon was in Aries, the faintest sliver sowing right after sunset with Venus making a focal point just past the Moon's fertile horns, and I had some of that patchouli. We all decided to give it a try.

Did it work? Not until after 11 at night. Then it works well.

While I've got a few minutes
Two notes from the Las Cruces, El Paso expedition.

Uno: About them astrology charts: the lecture occurred during the exact time of the New Moon, which was the Moon lined up with the Sun lines up Uranus. Weird, jolting , energetic start to something new.

For the astrologically inclined, when the moon was dark, that is, when the moon was in the same sign as the sun (Pisces, on this occasion), all the charts I looked at were "doubles," as in double Aries. Double this, double that, which means, the chart's sun and the chart's moon were in the same sign. New Moon (Dark Side of the Moon) energy. Strange occurrence. Probably just a coincidence.

Dos: two trips to the Casino, such as it is, and with that New Moon, I thought I could break the bank. Came close on two separate occasions. Once each night.

The best one was an actual jackpot on the X-Factor machine. Ran my total of coins (quarters) to over 1100. Not bad for a $20 investment (80 quarters).

I just wish this casino had table games. Be much more fun. Plus, the trip was preceded by going to a branch of my bank and making a deposit. I think it's important to make a deposit in order to deposit the day's earnings in a safe place before hopping over to a casino.

Lecture notes & the road.
When I listed the best road novels, somehow I forgot to put down the archetypical one, "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac. Personally, I always preferred his "Dharma Bums," I just found it to be a more pleasing novel.

The blowing wind and sand was certainly here in this area, but I'm not sure what to call this place. El Paso? Nope, that doesn't encompass the entire zone. Southern New Mexico? Some folks rankle at that term, too.

Mesilla, NM. Las Cruces, NM. Anthony, TX-NM.

Mountains. Capricorn ascendants. New Moons.

Can't be more coherent I saved my coherence for the clients on Friday afternoon.

"That Libra wants to know when there will be picture of the hat she gave you."

Right here.

3 Neener Farm.

Moving over to Pepsi
Give away - and look: if you're not an iTunes person, I'll take the song credits.

Free offer?

I collect a lot of weird stuff.

"Are you in band?" (heard that line too many times)

"If you refer to me as your host one more time, I'm going to call you my parasite."

Works for me.

Gratuitous Pastry Chef shot?

I just hope the lecture notes and tape are useable.

Westward bound
Destination: El Paso, TX then upwards to Las Cruces, NM. Details Weather? Blowing dust advisory.

In other news, "Women are at their cattiest when ovulating." (Not sure that really qualifies as news.)

Thought I'd linked this before, the five stages of beer. There's a 6th stage of beer, too, but only for folks who live in trailer parks.

After a late lunch at the Hula Hut with a Pisces, wherein I'd wished I'd taken a camera because the fish has been painted again, I came home and fished for a spell. I could see my finned brethren in the creek's water, but alas, they all deigned to dine on my bait. I just wanted another photo op under the dark of the moon.

I checked my suitcases. The other evening, as I was folding laundry, all I did was take clean clothes, fold them up and drop them back into the suitcase. Been one of those long, extended times when the suitcase is more a home than home.

I sat on the bed and looked at the wall of books, trying to figure out what text I should carry with me. Something easy to read. Something about travel. What are some of the greatest road stories every told? Personally, I've found Fear and Loathing to be one of the finest travel tales, ever. Other options? Life on the Mississippi? Better yet, Huck Finn? How about the ultimate road trip, The Odessey?

Far West Texas, Mexico, Southern New Mexico, all that terrain begs for Cormac McCarthy material, but I won't have time to finish one of those.

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson.
I started this book back in January - it's a good example of a novel that can't be checked out of a library, not for me, anyway. There are a half-dozen dog-eared pages. Plus, there are as many, if not more, underlined passages. Near as I can tell, I've been reading the book, off and on, for most near six weeks now.

It took a couple of hundred pages to get into the story. The author is probably most famous for his novel, Snow Crash.

While Bubba Sean was soaking up a neighbors bandwidth, I had some personal matters to attend in the trailer's small bathroom. I was almost done with Quicksilver, so I grabbed it, and made myself comfortable, amid his jests and snide comments, not entirely without merit.

Which got me to thinking about the novel, and how it was worthy of a title like "airport reading," a name I give to just about anything that rips right along, plot, action, not much need to pay too close attention to what's really happening in the story's plot because it's a ripping good yarn.

While Snow Crash was some kind of a turning point, a novel that forever changed me, and one that I go back to reread every few years, I'm not so sure about Quicksilver. I'm already prepared to buy the next installment, as soon as it's available. But the material is dense, too. There's a facility with words and language, plus the shifting narrative point of view, something that can only be done in a novel that's 900 pages long.

The story itself isn't done yet. There are still two installments to go. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the way through, there's map of Europe, and I wished I'd tagged that page because the map played an important role, at least for me, later in the book. But at that point, I was too caught up with the action to bother trying to find the page.

The drawback to the book is its sheer size. Depth, drawn-out characters, shifting scenes, at first, the time-line is a little murky.

The other book a I read during this same time? The Da Vinci Code. From what I've been able to gather, from both books, I found the scholarship, although rather exhaustive, I'm inclined to give Quicksilver a nod. But it's polite, fanciful, at times tongue in cheek, historical fiction. There's also a level, at least in some of its science, that suggests a computer person would enjoy some of the inside jokes. Like binary code jokes.

If The Diamond Age and Cryptinomicon were enjoyable, then this is going to be a good series.

Keyboard astrology & Starbucks
Not "keyword" astrological analysis, but keyboard astrology. Folks who "practice" astrology without the human interaction..

I priced astrology services on a related link. Nothing more than $9.95 in their online astrology shop. Plus, near as I could tell, nothing more than three pages in length, so that's about $3 per page.

All computer-generated. Keyboard astrology. Never has a human touch.

I was - vainly - searching for wireless access in El Paso/Las Cruces. Fast, broadband, 802.11g WiFi. Couldn't find it. Most Bucks offer 802.11b, significantly slower, but reliable. Which brings up the Starbucks & Astrology example again.

Every Bucks is just about the same, whether it's in the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, or at the corner of 5th & Lamar in Austin. (Or in the capital building, or at 10th & Congress, or at 6th & Congress, or just north of Amy's on Congress - 5 in less than a square mile.) Or in London, England. All about the same. Same furniture, same design, basically, the same menu. Safe and sanitary. Usually with branded wireless, too. Like those 3-page, $9.95 astrology reports. Safe, sanitary, and basically the same.

I spent a good portion of Tuesday afternoon in local coffee shops, first Bouldin then Halcyon. I love Bouldin Creek Caffeine Dealer. Cheese omelet, with fresh basil and cilantro, a good cup of coffee, friendly service. With the right person, it's an enjoyable experience. A little off-beat, a little funky, and the menu is tad bit different from Bucks. Try ordering chocolate-espresso-Guinness drink in a Bucks. None of the furniture really matches too well in Bouldin. But it matches that South First Street ambiance perfectly.

From what I know of the proprietor of Bouldin, the place is more a labor of love, and less about making money. Reminds me of this place. Alas, like any business, the bills keep coming in.

upcoming flyer

A tipping point.
I was inspired by another Sagittarius, just the other evening. I was basically killing time, toying with some web development work that I should be doing, and not really willing to stretch my brain too far. So I was clicking through some Austin stories, and I reread this lad's entry about tipping points.

So it was a touchstone, for me, as I got to thinking about tipping points, little intersections in a time and space where something happens, and I make a decision, for good or for ill, and everything changes from that point forward.

Books: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. Alburquerque by Rudolfo Anya. Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Neuromancer (et al, ad nauseam) and Pattern Recognition William Gibson. Islands in the Net and Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

That list spans more than a decade, and I can't recall all the material I had to consume for classes, but that list of "literature" affected me. Those are books I don't want to part with, and that I do, on occasion, refer back to.

There's another book, I don't have, but it made a serious impact, in fact, there's a series of Florida newspaper authors, Carl Hiassen (Double Whammy), Dave Barry (Big Trouble), and Tim Dorsey (all of his books so far) that have scenes, snippets, dialogue, or just a little piece of action that served as a point that changed me.

Like, with Tim Dorsey's latest book, when I took off for Corpus ten days ago, the manic driving behavior was inspired by one of his main characters, sort of an anti-hero.

There was a Hank III show at the Continental Club, Robert Earl Keen at the Music Hall, and the Jerry Jeff show with special guest Jimmy Buffett. Wayne Hancock on the lawn in front of Threadgill's one night. Transition points.

Robert Rodriguez "Mariachi" trilogy. That one played out Saturday night, in Lubbock, all over again.

I remember a comment, dropped off-hand, from a Scorpio, "Man, you can write this stuff." Fishing Guide to the Stars - a simple comment, probably suggested in jest.

A buddy gave me a copy of REK's "Live #2" and if it was possible to wear out a CD, I wore that one out.

Last fall, I saw a half-dozen performances of Shakespeare's work. Another tipping point. May years ago, I saw (before he was knighted) Ian McKellen's Richard III. Again, a performance that was a transition point.

The Cormanc McCarthy trilogy, it gets echoed through my mind any time I'm passing through El Paso. The stark, harsh reality, the desert sands, the bare mountains, the wind whipping down from New Mexico.

Books, movies, music, live performances, events that left me with a different perspective, that's clue.

This isn't all about happy events. I can still recall nasty notes from far-flung locations, and there's some messages that do have an impact on me, and it's not always positive. Losses are as important as wins.

I was plotting some of these points, just trying to conjure up the relevant ones, trying to recall what made a lasting impact.

For me, wandering around London during a heat wave last fall, seeing some plays at the New Globe, plus that outstanding performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream, those were points, intersections in time and space where my life changed. There's one line from the Jerry Springer Opera, a song, that had me laughing so hard, and yet, there was an element in that emotion, those emotions, that ran straight through my own life - stories I hear from clients.

All I've done so far is list some of the points when something happened, and I was changed. Interaction with a piece of artwork. Listening in a workshop at SXSW, something clicked.

This is an aggregate collection of those tiny points, where by chance, by fate, guided by stars, whatever, some kind of interaction occurs. It's like standing in front of a painting, for me, it was a picture of some of Dali's tarot cards - yes, I use them from time to time - and seeing the original.

Coming into Big Bend, a recent frost on the ground, the morning sun providing one of the most incredible scenes I've ever experienced, backlighting the Ocotillo as the leaves were just turning.

Transition points. Changed forever.

John Updike's A&P is a story that's taught quite a bit, I must have two or three copies in various leftover lit compilations. I heard him speak one time, and he bemoaned the story because, even as its author, he couldn't explain. The story makes sense - now - but not until your comment.

Shepherds and such
It's the feast day of St. Bernadette, I think, allegedly the patron saint of shepherds.

Ferret? Methinks he needs to read that Gemini's material.

Strange road notes: I had two requests for my lecture, on tape, from disparate sources. As far as I know, there's only one place to get the tape, and I don't think many are left: Whole Life (formerly New Age) Books, 1006. S. Lamar, here in Austin.

When those are gone, I'm hoping to cobble together a couple of the lectures, and do it as an audio CD. But until that's done?

"The world's large tongue
Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks."
Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost [V.ii.832-3>

I looked over from the desk, perched on top of a speaker, there's the iPod, the camera, the phone, and the palm, all recharging. Thought it was about time to take a nap, myself, just like all the hardware.

I fished a little, I mean, nice day and all, then I wandered towards the edge of Shady Acres, saw a neighbor's car in the slot, so I knocked.

"Kramer! You must've known I was thinking about you! Everything I touch turns to shit!"

No Mercury isn't backwards. It's just a function of, sort of depends. Nothing a little tequila can't sure. Despite my experiences, I still recommend tequila for Virgo's. Seems to sooth a chapped and sore mind.

Bad notes:
I'm too tired for this.

The Ramada Inn, in Lubbock? Bad service. Plus, they tried to add an additional 15% - or more - to my bill when I checked out Sunday morning. Just bad deal. Padding the bill, false advertising, like, no airport shuttle as promised, yes sir, just a nasty experience, all the way around. Only part that was good? Lots of fishing shows on TV.

The best part? One of my little reader friends is part Mexican, part Apache. Fluent in three languages. A grandmother. She took them to task, in three languages.

Them Sagittarius girls are a force to be reckoned with.

Good Notes:
"Oh no, I'm from Levelland. A big bibles opens up, 'Welcome to Levelland.'"

"At the Skillet in Lubbock, the strawberries are the (space) aliens' favorite food."

"Need a good cotton crop this year."

Getting to the Lubbock Airport was a mad dash, but from there? Smooth sailing. Safe in Austin. It's just I got a chatty cab driver - again - and by the time I hot Austin? I was all talked out.

Post VD - Lucky sevens.
I got into Lubbock around midnight. Lubbock was almost snowed in. In central Texas, I tend to stay completely off the roads when there's any hint of frozen precipitation. In Lubbock, I wasn't quite as lucky.

I glanced through hotel directory, then I just figured it was best to catch a cab. Seeing as how my luggage arrived long before I did, I didn't have to wait. What was weird, on the plane to Lubbock: full flight. Sat next to a couple of Aries girls. Way it goes.

Cab # 7. It wasn't without a few extra bits of fun as the cab driver was moaning about how he was so busy because of the snow. I had to share a ride with a couple of kids headed to bars.

When I checked in, the room number? Add the numbers together? Seven.

Saturday morning dawned clear and cold. Along with the weather, there was an 18-wheeler outside my window, coughing stuttering and choking with the frozen landscape. I slipped and slid next door to grab a bite of breakfast. I skipped the breakfast buffet, after last weekend's experience, and opted for some of the best biscuits. Ever.

The place did advertise "free high-speed internet." If I'd a brought an Ethernet cable, I'd been wired. As it was, stuck on dial-up again....

Lubbock in the snow....

After airfare and meals? Maybe $70 profit? Lucky Sevens.

There's got to be an easier way to make money.

There's got to be an easier way to make money.

Valentine nod
That one picture.
(hint: it's in West Texas)

I'm fixin' to upgrade the journal software. I've been mightily impressed with this one, so I was toying with moving everything over to their "pro" version, called "expression engine." The install was slick and easy, but I have to wait a spell because the import function will burn up processor time.

First action? Turned off the awful smiley icons.

I was in line at the Austin airport, and the flight to Lubbock was overbooked. "Any volunteers? You get...."

Before they could finish the list of perks for taking a later flight, I was in line. Gemini and Taurus attendants. Credit, next flight, refund of a ticket price? Seeing as how I wasn't doing anything that evening, anyway, thought I'd take the hit. Take a bullet for the team. If it wasn't snowing, I'd swear, I could've made it there faster by driving.

"Why's it so busy?" I queried the Gemini.

"Holiday weekend?"

"What holiday?"

"Don’t know, hey, what's the holiday?"

"President's Day."

"It's president's day."

"Oh, cool." Shrug.

Snow Day!
Yes, it's Friday the 13th, and yes, I'm hopping a flight out of here.

When I last checked the Panhandle weather, it said "possibility of freezing precipitation and snow."

Some kind of High Plains Drifter?

Or just high plains (snow) drifts?

Here we go, unrelated, from the stats page:

Search term
reqs: search term
----: -----------
102: all
101: about
69: fishing
68: of
67: scorpio
57: to
54: love
48: a
44: gemini


More weirdness: heard back from a local radio station about doing a Fat Tuesday special.

I got to thinking about it, how many stations have I been on?

I can't even remember the call letters, but numbers? 90 point something, 95.5, 98.7, 101.5, 102.3, 105.5? There are some more, that I can't remeber, plus I was on AM a couple of time, too.

Dinner at T-Gills with a darling Libra, a Virgo and that Aquarius lass. We were supposed ot have a Libra server, but that didn't work out. Never does, you know.

Missing parts - Feast day of St. Julian the Hospitaler
Know what this place is really missing? A flag. Just a plain, Texas flag. I should add, I do have a real one, up over my bed. And that St. Julian? Probably fictitious, the saint of alehouse keepers, travelers and circus performers.

But if I got around to digging through my graphic archives, I'm sure there's a flag or two in there. Or I could use an animated, waving flag. "Yeah buddy, that flag's a waving because of the breeze generated by the cooling fan on the power supply for your computer." Uh-huh.

But the Republic of Texas had a number of flags, about a half dozen, if I recall. My personal favorite's still that Gonzales flag, "Come and Take It." The original is pretty beat up, and copies just don't do justice to the image.

The Shakespeare Globe logo is still part of the current masthead, but that's a personal nod towards my favorite charity.

And some how, there really should be the universal image of a Micropterus Salmoides with a lure in its mouth, but I let the Bass Pro Shop ad carry that image's weight.

Bubba stopped by to soak up some of the neighbor's bandwidth, piggy-backed wireless, and we got to talking about my trip, and how Corpus Christi was home to What-a-burger. Which lead to late night dash to the local establishment. Just all in a night's entertainment - must be the alehouse keeper part.

"Wasn't it last week? We were talking about food and how it's bad to eat this late?"

I'm based in Austin, so I really should fly a flag. I'm just not sure which one. I'm still partial to that Gonzales flag, myself. A Texian flag, a Texas flag, really, it does embody that Austin spirit. Like St Julian the Hospitaler, patron saint of alehouse keepers, travelers and circus performers.

Two-meat Tuesday: the Llano Estacado and the Digital Divide
The name Llano Estacado is derived from Spanish, and the source of its namesake is buried under an onerous weight of mythology. Texas mythology is, as I would expect, a little heavier than most.

Okay, the stories run along the lines of "Staked Plains," which might be from the fact that the Spanish Explorers had to dive stakes into the ground to track their progress. Or, it might be the way the Caprock looks, when approaching from the east. All the canyons and gullies, and so forth. Lubbock itself, situated on the caprock, was founded in 1909. From memory, around 1926, it was also the home to the largest known oil reserve at the time. Still is home to Texas Tech (Go Red Raiders! - I think that's what I'm supposed to say.)

The flatlanders are all from Lubbock, too. Jimmie Dale, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely. Buddy Holley, too. Terry Allen, to whom I was listening last week.

The digital divide? When I worked in Corpus Christi, there were two other astrologers. At least one, Aries, I've worked with off and on for years. We were all vying for the same dollars, and as the new kid on the block, I don't do as well. Then there's the marketing that is more traditional: targeted bulk mail, bulk mail of the dead tree kind. Paper. Postage. Delivered by an employee of the Post Office. I dropped mailing out promotional material a while back because that was wasted money. My return was negligible. But whatever works, works.

But after my experience on the Gulf Bend, I was wondering, does it pay? Digital advertising works fine, plus there's a fresh column up each week. Works for me. Works in metropolitan areas like Austin. Does it work in someplace like the Texas Panhandle?

The little place I like to hit for Two-Meat Tuesday, in Austin, offers free wireless access. Quick dinner and short trip with a Sagittarius lass through the book store. I couldn't remember what I was looking for, but I did pick up a nice bass fishing magazine.

Weekend leftovers:
It's not all about boats and readings. It's about a magazine I was reading while I was waiting to do readings.

The New Yorker had an interesting article in the Jan 12, 2004 issue. Statistics cited in the article, but I'm sure are factual:

"(In a thirty-five-mph crash test, for instance, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade-the GM counterpart to the Lincoln Navigator-has a sixteen percent (16%) of a life threatening head injury, a twenty percent (20%) chance of a life threatening chest injury and a thirty-five percent (35%) chance of a leg injury. The same numbers in a Ford Windstar minivan-a vehicle engineered from the ground up, as opposed to simply being bolted onto a pickup frame-are, respectively, two percent, four percent and one percent.)"

Article's figures, not mine. But I liked it. "I bought an SUV because it was safer!"

Wrong answer! You bought an SUV because it felt like it should be safer, but, alas, numbers indicate it's not safer. In fact, it's more dangerous. Plus, there's another problem, touched on in that article, if the vehicle inspires confidence, then the driver is more inclined to drive like a jerk. Wait, that's not news.

The deal with that casino boat, what I remember. It was years ago, a certain Leo had co-opted as a partner to get a group of us together to ride and work on gambling ship, based out of, as I recall, Houston. I booked a room for the night, a single, and went along for the ride.

I recalled sporadic details of the trip, other than it wasn’t financially rewarding in a big way. There were two salient and distinct points that burrowed into my memory and have subsequently come unearthed.

One was my first slot machine. Not quite the first, but I had that Leo show me a few tricks. Being a voodoo (tarot card) person herself, she pointed out how to win at slots. I actually made about ten bucks off a handful of quarters, maybe a little more. The trip itself cost about $40, so that ten bucks helped. As it turned out, that was the profit for the weekend.

I did, maybe, half a dozen "special discount for staff" readings at ten bucks a pop. I don’t recall specifics, but the staff - crew - was mostly Eastern European and mostly female and mostly stuck on the gaming ship. It could sail in and out of port, but the regular staff couldn't leave the ship itself for whatever immigration rules.

Boarding that gaming ship - back then - the casino and the slots were all under, literally, lock and key. It wasn't until the craft reached the international waters that the gates were lifted. I can still hear the rattling steel cages being rolled back, for some reason, an echo etched in my fallible grey cells.

The rumor, unverified, for the recent trip was the crew from this ship was treated much the same, kept on board for six days then allowed shore leave in Mexico, every Monday.

These memories kept rattling around, like the sound of the steel cages opening up, and I couldn't figure out why. Maybe it was the recent experience. I did, indeed, hear some strange tales. Picked up some excellent material to be recycled into scopes, too. Plus, there was something missing part of the weekend, and on that long drive home, I found it again.

For the first 80 miles or so, north out of Corpus Christi, I could get Texas Radio, a rather fetching local station with a very unique play list. I heard a new Flatlander's song and some Junior Brown I'd never heard before. They didn't stop for song identification, so I'm guessing, but the vocals on both those songs are distinctive enough - it's not guesswork.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore sings about Dallas at night, how it looks like a jewel ("Dallas is like a rich man with a death wish in his eye"), but San Antonio has an orange glow, coming up I-37. And from the southern edge of SA on through to Austin, it's all sprawl. In another 20 years? If growth continues unchecked? It will be one, long strip mall. "Frontage Road, TX."

I'm sure there are few good stories, and while I was driving, I realized that I was getting my "mojo" back. I had one call Sunday afternoon that affirmed that.

While I was driving, once the radio station dropped off, I was left with my thoughts and the headlights. Plus a few deer. The moon play hide-and-seek in the cloud cover. I thought about three chapters to a novel, based on a casino boat. I lacked a hook, and as the night grew longer, I was more distracted with staying awake, avoiding roadkill, and turning in that rent car Monday morning.

Giving it away
What works?

I don't know anything about giving it away, but a bunch of the folks I worked with on Saturday all wanted to go to some kind of multi-national chain for dinner. I opted out. I can get that any place, and I wandered off in the night. I needed a black t-shirt, something that didn't get packed, I don't know how that happened, and I wanted to sample more local fare.

I had dinner at some taqueria in a Corpus strip center. In the back room, I overheard a long discussion about that Robert Rodgriguez, film and his series of "Mexican" films.

I hauled out the notebook and I was plinking on the keyboard while munching on chips. Dinner arrived, and I was not disappointed, basic fare, skirt steak lavishly grilled with peppers and onions, but what set the meal off, what set the place apart in my mind? It was the presentation of the hot sauce: it was served, with a spoon, in a coffee cup.

Ayala's Or Availia. Some name like that. I was too tired to remember, and at the register, when I requested a cash receipt, the kind waitress just scribbled the restaurant's name across the top, "We don't have printed receipts, hope this will do."

Course it will. Works fine.

I was looking at the notice on the wall, sounded familiar.

"No credit cards, no cash cards, no debit cards, no checks, no money orders."

All cash. Good food, too, perfect solace and backdrop to a Saturday night in Texas.

Corpus Christi, TX, seems like it's nothing but a strip mall, at least, this trip, that's what it was like.
gun shop

Never going to get caught up
I was sorting through some of the notes. I sill hadn't touched the four girls who picked me up on the gambling boat. Or the three hour-cruise - "a

Web site said the boat left at 6:30 pm, got back at midnight - sounded like a perfect full-moon jaunt for me. So I eased back through Corpus Christi rush-hour traffic, eased on down to the docks, and eased onboard. Not without a hitch, "Hey, you got a pocketknife or something on you?"

Stroll out to the car and empty my pockets of various accumulated material, and then get metal detected - just like at the airport - only more relaxed. Boarded the boat and ambled up to the free buffet, and there's a good reason why it was free. I'm, not saying it was bad, but it's not up to its billing on their website.

I was seated by a, nominally, Maitre d', and he directed me to table that turned out to be a half dozen ladies from a little German town, just a few miles west of Austin. I broke the ice with asking about luck, gambling, preferences with machines and locations, and at least one of the "girls" had been going to Las Vegas since, well, the good old days.

We shot the breeze; an Aquarius played a witty "what's my sign" game. Rather engaging conversation. Politics in a small town in Texas. Good, Texas girls. 2 Capricorns, Aquarius and Pisces (or Aries).

The boat heaved out to sea, got past the international line, and the games cranked up. First machine, up $20. Around and around, I was up over $600 at one point, and one day. I'll learn to listen to my own advice and quit when I'm ahead.

On the way off the boat, Friday night, all the passengers were lined up and ready to disembark. One girl was celebrating a birthday - Aquarius - and she was lamenting that all she really wanted was some pearls. One of the old boys with her, took, a sip off his beer, and murmured, "Should of bought her a six of Pearl Beer, 'course, I'm more Lone Star man, myself."

I may not be very bright, but even I wouldn't have made that comment.

Starting at the end. In the middle:
"Sometimes the cards ain't worth a dime if you don't lay 'em down."

I was vacillating between two songs, the lyrics running back forth in my head, see: these are tunes from an old "road mix" CD, just odd collections of material. Really odd. Consider the other batch of lyrics was something about a man in coonskin cap wants 11 dollars and I've only got ten.

Mix that material with some 80's disco music, then add a touch of 90's metal & punk, and a little techno & country on top. It's a strange brew. However, at 2 in the morning, making a dash through the Gulf Coast night, the roar of the casino still in my veins, yeah, odd works.

I've got a half dozen shots that turned okay, and pretty much cover Friday's madness. Started out slow and easy, picked up a rent car, out of Neons, so I took the big white whale (for a small surcharge). Pointed it down the road, and even before I was out of Austin, I had ideas running around my brain.

There's a shot of the front seat of the car, road mix CD, iPod, phone, coffee, it's all there. That's where I started. The main destination was the Gulf, but I'd pretty desperately wanted some pictures from Goliad. I cruised through Luling, saw a picture I wanted, spun the car around in main street, pulled over, rolled down the passenger window, reached over and took a quick shot of an honorary oil rig in downtown.

See, Luling hit oil in 1922, pretty much put it back on the map for a little while. Makes an interesting triptych, an old, possibly abandoned, oil collection set, two pumps, a couple of separation tanks for storing oil and gas - a typical ignored piece of history, and back to back, there was a new cell tower. Mineral rights used to be money, now it's cell towers?

Fast U-Turn, back down the road.

Next up was Gonzales. Yeah, that flag. October 2, 1835, a plucky group of Gonzales residents refused to return the canon lent to them by the Mexican Army (in San Antonio), and that same group of Texicans raised the famous flag: "Come and take it!"

I did a quick lap through downtown Gonzales, and I found an image that begged to have me take the picture, so I popped out of the car long enough to grab a good picture, next thing, I was slinging gravel, and tires squealed.

I passed the famous site of that first stand., where that flag came from, and I spun around on the highway, bounced through the ditch, and pitched the car sideways, snapped two quick shots of the granite roadside markers, and spun the wheel, headed southbound again.

The background music stated with that mixed CD, then I popped in some Brian Burns, and he lightened the load, especially with his version of Col. Travis's letter, and the ballad of the battle. (Songs of the Texians album).

Remember the Alamo, remember Goliad!

As I coasted through the little towns, I got to where I had to get a picture of every roadside historical marker. Didn't have time to read them - just quick, snap a picture, then spew gravel and fishtail back out onto the pavement.

The drive-by method of tourism produced a couple of interesting shots. The Feed Mart of Goliad was one such shot, as was one that followed that, the "Welcome to Nowhere" sign.

Goliad, actually, just the State Park was all that interested me. 318, 342, whatever, Texian prisoners were slain, in cold blood, but due to my delicate nature, I'm not about to poke around that gravesite. Got a picture last time, in other words. So all I wanted was updated material from Mission Nuestra Senora del Espiritu Santo de Zuniga. It's an old CCC project (your tax dollars at work).

I questioned the staff about the skull and crossbones logo, and the staff had their facts wrong, but I was double-parked, I tossed them my two bucks admission fee and hustled on down the road. In case you're wondering, Texas Parks are protected by duly sworn in peace officers. No gravel slinging there. Have to show reverence in the State Historical Parks.

I passed up the concrete structure place, but I didn't pass up Concrete, TX. After reviewing the film, I decided that pictures of every roadside historical marker would be kind of dull. But I do have them for archival purposes.

The dash through the countryside, back roads through the Post Oak Savannah, dropped me off into the coastal plain.

Just in time to make dinner aboard the Texas Treasure - Casino.

Nothing here to see
but pictures:
front seat
Luling, TX
Gonzales, TX
Goliad, TX
No where.
The boat.

Luke the Younger
Luke fascinated me.

"Typical town involved in a typical daydream - hang it up and see what tomorrow brings..."

Out the door - Feast Day of St. Amand
I was hoping that I'd get a day or two this week to fish, but other than "testing" a new buzz bait lure, and I wasn't sure how it was going to perform, the rain-swollen river just doesn't seem to inviting for fishing. Besides, the recent cold weather put a big damper on outdoor fun.

St. Amand of Maastricht is a patron of innkeepers. Good enough for a travel weekend.

That cold weather also hampered something else I was looking forward to: bluebonnets. The Texas State Flower. A "lupine," if you're so inclined.

From the reading stack:
"Rule Number one is that Rule Number One is whatever you want it to be at any time based on self-interest, blinding rationalization and petulance. At least that's the code everyone in this country seems to be operating under."
(Serge speaking to Lenny, in Tim Dorsey's Cadillac Beach.

inbound mail:
> They both sound live from the sewer. and that IS a compliment!
They are "live."

> so THAT's what you sound like, ol' Texas twanger
That's what I sound like, sitting in front of a computer.

Spike and Mike's Festival of sick and twisted animation was too inviting to pass up just to kill off the last of my week. Hey, the pizza was good, per the server's recommendation. Parts of the collection were good, but walking home, I started figuring I spent as much half that time watching credits roll by. See, each short is between a minute and three minutes, about right for my attention span. But then, there's an additional one to three minutes of introduction, and finished with one to three minutes of producer, co-producer, director, writer, animator, inker, storyboard person, software guru, and "special thanks to...."

Spike & Mike's Twisted Animation festival was preceded by the Alamo's usual not-politically-correct trailers. One of them really tickled my fancy. It was for a sneak preview of the new Mel Gibson "Jesus Christ Superstar" or whatever that thing is. The one all the noise is about these days. Alamo. Humor. Off-beat. Weird, wacky, right? "Feb. 24, 2004: come and see the Jews kill Jesus."

Late last night, I was trying to explain the humor of the advertising to a Born-Again-Jewish friend. She didn't get it. Maybe she did, but it might have been a courteous laugh to get me to move on. It was humor, see, the Romans probably did in the historical Jesus, and then, that was probably, give or take four years, around 33 AD. Get the Alamo's joke? Oh, never mind. It was really funny at the time. Real irony.

One Christmas time, maybe five or ten years ago, I got on a kick and started looking at charts from that time. I'd defer to better scholarship, but what I came up with put the birth of a messiah at around 4 BC. So that worked for me. Besides, there's always that time slip between then and now. What's four years, give or take, over a millennium? That's all those leap days.

Trip preparations (part two)
More random, useless notes. Back when I could run trivia questions, with a fair degree of success, I liked collecting this kind of arcane material. Regrettably, search engines have rendered the idea of a trivia question all but useless. However...

Largest swimming pool in Texas? Unverified, but supposedly, Port Royal in Port A.

The only Confederate Fort commissioned west of the Mississippi? Fort Waul, built in 1863, at the confluence of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers, just north of Gonzales. Never saw action, or never fired a shot, anyway. But it did prevent any enemies from sneaking up the Guadalupe River.

Whataburger started in Corpus Christi.

Austin sits on the Balcones Fault. Even more interesting, was the way both San Antonio (remember the Alamo) and Austin were picked for geological goodness: water. Since I live on the shores of the Colorado River, I'm especially tuned to that water factor.

Roadside Geology of Texas had an interesting description of faults in general, and the particulars of Balcones Fault (the geological kind, not the legendary band). What was weird, I pulled three or four history books off the shelf, so the rest of that section of books toppled sideways. Then, the geology book talked about Balcones Fault like a series of toppled books, rather than a clean cut. Plus there was an excellent description of my favorite: Barton Springs.

My interest was the Pliocene Goliad sandstone, I suppose. Cenozoic Era, Tertiary Period, Pliocene Epoch, between 2 and 5 million years old. Then, blipping forward with the remote, 18,000 years ago, when the sea level was a lot lower, end of the ice age, right up to now, and the longest barrier island in North America (Padre Island). If I recall rightly, and I might not, it seems that geologists still don't know exactly how that barrier island formed. But they do have theories.

I never thought hard science and astrology were so similar. All this, and I haven't even left Austin yet. Bizarre part about my copy that text? Most of the dog-eared portions are all in West Texas. However, as I reread the "Corpus Christi to San Antonio" section again, I was wondering about my version of the vistas versus what the book was describing.
Rainy days.
Wednesday morning, I lay in bed, listening to the rain on the roof, the cat was snuggled down in the pillow, my pillow, trying to sleep on my head.

I set off to meet a client for a reading, got about a dozen paces outside, turned around, unlocked the door, and fetched up a wide-brim, black felt (5X Beaver), and slammed that down on my head. Then I set off again.

The rain, then the drizzle, and finally, just the trees shaking the water off, then drizzle and then, again, rain made me glad that I'd worn the hat.

I was crossing S. First, going to Bouldin, and as I glanced one way, then the other, I'd forgotten how nice the world looks from under the brim of cowboy hat.

"Some guys climb mountains, some guys jump out of airplanes. Me, I got a hat."

Two Meat Tuesday.
Pick two. Any two. Includes your choices of side dishes, I'd recommend a salad with Ranch dressing. Plus some fried okra. And free Wifi.

1. BBQ. With Gemini Sean Bubba and that Aries. I hope she's an Aries.

1. I was poking along on the hike and bike trail, cell phone stuck in my ear, chatting up a client (just arranging a reading, really), and a nasty bicyclist passed me, hollering, "BIKE ON YOUR LEFT!" Irritated me as he was unconscionably loud. Pedestrians have the right of way, phone or not. So as I was coming out the post office parking lot, a big Chevy truck was crowding me. I was about to do something evil, to assert my right-of-way, when I noticed the sticker: Fish tremble at the sound of my name. The more I thought about it, the more I chuckled. I don't need a sticker on my truck making such a claim.

1. I was chatting with a buddy not named Bubba while I was idling along the hike and bike trail, "Oh yeah, dude. Dude. How much would you charge to do a wedding?"

I laughed, then I gleefully pointed out that a wedding service, performed by the Rev. Kramer is actually a legally binding service, and not something that's just for fun. I take my ministerial duties, well sometimes, anyway, I take them "pastoral care" duties serious-like.

"No man, really, how much would you charge?"

The details? On a party barge, in Town Lake, food and drink provided? I could have a fishing pole by my side, wearing shorts, barefoot, probably a straw cowboy hat and Hawaiian shirt. What's that tradition? After being married a few times, participating in countless weddings, and officiating one or two, I think that the groom is supposed to slip the presiding minister $50 or $100 at the end of the service. But if I could fish? I might waive the fee. Or wave the fee?

1. Furor over the Apple ad? I don't get why some apple users are upset. But as a web-based writer, I'm sensitive to notations about copyrights and intellectual property rights. I thought the ad was okay.

1. Seems like The Fat Guy passed through Austin, and seems like he didn't look any of us up. More's the shame. Next time, dude.

1. Two-Meat Plate Q&A:
"Where do babies come from?"
"Well liquor."

1. Pursuant to that last link? I really do live like a monk.

Road tripping, part the first
I was pulling together source material, looking for a cheap hotel, and generally doing as little possible while looking like I was working, getting ready for the Gulf Coast run this coming weekend. Musical accompaniment: Trip Like I Do.

Two books came off the bookshelf and even though I've used these texts on numerous occasions, I stumbled across a connection I'd never noticed before: Post Oak Savannah. The Texas "Post Oak Savannah" has been my spiritual - physical home for many years. Never knew what it was called. Not really Deep East Texas, not really Hill Country, nor is it Brush Country, to the south, just something stuck in between. Hello Austin? Sound familiar? I'm not sure about upscale "West Austin" but the East Side? We're definitely Post Oak Savannah. Never knew the taxonomy.

The source book that I love so much is Leon Metz's Roadside History of Texas. If I'm not mistaken, and I could very well be, the author himself is/was an El Paso resident.

The Post Oak Savannah has both a geographical delineation plus there's a geological marker, and then, there's the history. One of the reasons I'd pulled the books down is I was hoping to swing by Goliad on Friday's drive down to the coast. Hoping for new shots of a Texas Mission there. Never hurts to read a little history.

Tidbits included perusing the Bastrop entry again, and reminding myself that Bastrop is one of the oldest inhabited towns in Texas, just a few scant miles east of Austin.

From there, it was into the landscape: Roadside Geology of Texas.

Time and again, I'm struck with the incredible beauty of the surrounding countryside and the generally pleasant climate. Plus the way the fertile land shaped the history, and the way the two are tied together.

The Post Oak Savannah was the westward terminus of the Anglo-American migration, the place where the Deep South and the Old West came together. A few generations later, it was the place where the Texas Revolution was started (October 2, 1835 - Gonzales Texas, in the state of Coahuila y Tejas).

All of that gives way to South Texas, and the line of demarcation is - to me - a gray area. Brush Country, South Texas, to me, is basically coastal plains, not more than a few feet above sea level, extending inwards for up to a 100 miles of more. That Southern Tip of Texas. The countryside looks sweet, but it's covered with thorny Mesquite. Looks can be deceiving. And I'm not going to liken that to any women I know - I live like a monk.

1. I really do live like a monk.
2. The new Crystal Method does get better with subsequent listening. Seems a little boorish at first, but improves with time.

More advertising.
I was toying with the Google's ads, wondering about putting them up on the front page's sidebar. Or maybe, judging by the online traffic, the front page and the xenon page.

When I was clicking around on Google, I happened across a list of astrology pages, and I clicked through on a few.

One I didn't spend much time at was heavy on a Flash navigation. While I am on broadband, it still took a while to load, and the ultimate end-product, the horoscope itself, informed me that I might be traveling. I knew that - Sagittarius, who'd a thunk it?

Another site I clicked through to had annoying, and I mean truly annoying in a cloying, make-me-sick, kind of way, music.

Other than certain peculiar twists, like last
Friday, Bubba Sean usually has a good ear (some Taurus holding down that good taste section in his chart). I got his help, and I remixed the introduction bit. Added about two bars worth of drums, and deleted some of the harmonica.

But from my not-so-random sampling of sites, I'd have to wonder. That Flash animation took too long to load. And the content weighed in at lot less than mine.

The music? Can you imagine me trying to hammer together some kind of melodic introduction? That's just scary.

So I'm still wondering about the advertising. The biggest hurdle? Google uses "keyword" advertising. Means I'd be running ads for folks with astrology sites that are heavy on music or animation, and light on content, and again, heavy on separating money the browser's wallet.

Regular features
I've been toying with Apple's Garage Band for a couple of weeks. I know it does some cool stuff, I can do House mixes, and I found a banjo chord, and then, I acidentally recorded myself, late one night. I thought about looping a harmonica behind me. I wonder what my Blues name would be?

But it gets even better.

The computer has a built in micorphone. I don't even know where it is. How strange is that? But I did discover, after only a few weeks, a way to record a decent-sized message that I can leave hooked up on the site.

Bandwidth, ultimately, costs money. But what I was figuring on doing, I can record a short bit about the planets, each week, and leave it attached to the subscription side. In other words, the audio message doesn't cost extra.

I was in quandary about this until I figured out which setting was right for turning the file into an MP3. I might get bored and forget to do it, but for now, I think I've got a cool new feature.

Irregular features:
Hated to do it, but here's the best Superbowl link I've found. Nope, gets better - "heads will roll."

More irregular features:
Proof of life on Mars? Where are the black helicopters when you need them?

Really irregular:
That stupid e-mail virus thingy that's making the rounds? I got a note from a certain government official, and I've never corresponded with the person who holds that office. The mail was addressed from that high official. My e-mail had been intercepted, a virus detected, and the mail was rejected. The connection? I've got a friend who worked in that office, during the last legislature session, and her computer must've gotten infected, and it sent mail with my address spoofed as the sender's address. Bummer. Just remember: it didn't originate here.

Sunday's 8th
Live worms.

After consuming coffee and exchanging idle chatter plus details about online diaries, that sweet Pisces and myself hooked it over to what I thought was a new super center sporting goods store.

I wanted one more Acme Tackle Co. lure. It's something a cartoon character would use.

Roll call? Jette, Chromium Switch, Waterlilies, Blue Valentine, Music Whore, Sweet Pisces, and a Gemini.

So we're wandering around the big store, and she asks me, like I know, "Do they have worms here?"

Standing in front of several hundred square feet of plastic worms, all lined up in little bags, with the "special flavor that bass crave!" Garlic, salted, marinated, yeah, they got worms all right. Plus, in they offer a wide selection of colors, many of which, don't occur in nature.

"No, what you're supposed to ask is, 'do you have live worms?'" the kindly clerk suggested.

"Okay, 'do have live worms?'" the Pisces asked.

"Yes, now ask, 'how much do they run?'" the clerk deadpanned.

"'How much do they run?'"

"They don't run, they usually crawl."

Sunday's seven.
Was there seven? I'm not sure, but counting down backwards....

7. Breakfast at Dan's. Perhaps, perchance, maybe, even, just some of the best biscuits ever.

6. Weird weather, and I'm really getting a better feel for the river.

5. I was crossing the Lamar pedestrian bridge, headed homeward and off to meet for the afternoon, and I spotted two rather decent-sized fish, idling in the clear water, right under the bridge. If I'd only had a pole with me.

4. At the mailbox, I fetched up a check for a couple of boxes and a statement from the publishing place.

3. At the journal writers' group, after an hour or two, while I was up fetching some ice tea, a kindly gentleman inquired as to what the group was, "You looked like a cross between high-tech and Kerrville Folks Festival, I mean, I wasn't sure...." Web writers. An unkempt lot.

2. Angus Roast Beef with Gorgonzola. But not too pricey. What is this place?

1. Laundry. While the game was still going on, I was dropping my last load into the dryer. There was one trailer - apparently - full of New England fans, judging from the noise. Which was funny because my cell phone was under a clean stack of laundry and I missed a call, but I'm pretty good about not returning calls after midnight.

I've isolated part of the sleeping problem. The cat.

The cat snores. Muffled, quiet and yet, it's distinctive. I woke up in the middle of the night to gentle and rhythmic sound. She was softly meowing in her sleep. Just weird.

I was testing lures, and I pulled this guy out of the lake:

Here's the funny part, there's an old quite, circulating on the website someplace, about me and fishing lure earrings. Something about being man enough to wear earrings, then I shouldn't worry about the weight of the lure.

But I do. I was just hoping, purely for the sake of name, that one of these lures would produce something:

"Acme Tackle Company: Kastmaster."

Need to order some more, I reckon.

Incomplete thoughts.
I realized that I've only been completing about half of what I mean to say, but, being a Sagittarius and male, I'm easily distracted by shiny objects. Whoa! Look at that...

Plus, addictive software, like Apple's Garage Band, that just eats up time. I keep toying with loops, and if you use hip-hop beat, but have a standup bass software instrument play it, the effects are tantalizing. Or, like any other professional tool in the hands of rank amateur, it might be scary.

It wasn't until I got to digging around that I discovered I could actually do something from this machine, too.

This might work, or it might not, the really link is

Working & Feast Day of St. Adlegard
I looked down at the scope I was writing and wondered, "Now here did that come from?" Happens a lot with me. Which has nothing to do with marketing, which is what I was going to work on....

Confusion is the forthcoming book by Neal Stephenson. I can tell that it's in the can and at the printers by now. Plus, the third part, I'll bet it's in the can, too, because advertising for it is already up and running.

A buddy of mine, and huge fan of Tim Dorsey's "Serge" series, snagged an advance reading copy of Cadillac Beach, off eBay. Which goes to explain a little about the marketing strategy, the long build-up necessary.

If I recall correctly, I got an e-mail from that author, Mr. Dorsey, and he was all pins-and-needles when he turned in the finished manuscript. Yes, that happens, even to famous, big-name authors. Plus it was a while back, so the lead time, and the way the publicity can build buzz about a novel, plus, one of Dorsey's is worth get excited about, all factors into the equation.

I was thinking about moving publishing times. Scopes roll over at midnight, Mountain Time, because that's where the physical server is located. Think I'll leave it just like. There's a certain amount of anticipation, and I like it like that.

Chicken fried chicken, in lieu of Chicken Friend Steak, for dinner, with a Sagittarius, for an early dinner.

Time to rock the vote!

Route 66? The Mother of all roads?

Aries and Aries and Aries...
An Aries woke me up with a perceived emergency. There's no I-40 in El Paso. Map's wrong. No problem. (I-40, Albuquerque - Amarillo - OKC, I think.)

I rolled over and went back to sleep. Another Aries woke me up to tell me she was running early, what a shock. Except that I'd forgotten about the lunch date. Would've made it on time, anyway, but she was early.

Which leads to Aries Number 3, can't have one without the other, right? Another long-distance client, just chiming in that life was still pretty rough. Three for three. I think it's all about attitude, though. Aries attitude for a Wednesday. 3 for 3.

Which leads to the hair question. Around my birthday, last year, I was with Sister and she had no hot water for day, so I went without shaving. After I got home, I was just a little more careful when I did shave, leaving a patch of fuzz under my lower lip. A lower-lip beard, if you will. And I will. Or have, so far.

In my entire life, this is the most hair I've had on my face since I started shaving.

Anyway, while with Aries #2, in the daily sequence, I asked if she liked it.

"Didn't you always have that?"

No, but the opinions are streaming in. Bubba Sean noted it for the first time, and he allowed as how it was a good look for me. But in "Sean-speak," I'm not sure if that's good or not.

I wonder what the other signs shall say?

The five, redux.
It came at the tail end of Tuesday night's ramble, but it really sparked some good questions for myself. Pick five products or companies that you'd be comfortable endorsing, like, say you were a celebrity spokesperson.

As I took the list apart and put it back together, I kept coming back to a reinforcing concept, buy locally. A couple of big companies come to mind, companies that I do like.

Aforementioned Apple Computer (1). Three months ago, I didn't understand why an iPod was cool. Now I use mine almost every day. But I've been a on Mac for years. That latest e-mal virus? Didn't originate here.

Starbucks (2). I have a love/hate relationship with Buck's, but they have boldly gone into markets where others have failed (or not tried at all). And, from what I've gathered, Buck's does treat the employees with a degree of respect. Like, when you're stuck in the Phoenix Airport? On a Saturday night? For starters, the coffee will be dependable. Not great, but not bad. Certainly not bad. And the person serving it? Not an underpaid, underappreciated third-world alien with no insurance, as Buck's does tend to take care of employees and, at least on the surface, do a green business. As green as a company can be that serves bazillion cups of coffee in paper cups. Buck's doesn't really do an Italian Roast correctly, but then, at least the French Roast is done right.

Southwest Airlines (3). I started booking on SWA's website back when there was two - for - one frequent flyer miles offered. In the precarious world of airline travel, SWA's lean and mean business model has paid off. It's always changing and none of the flight schedules seem to be engraved in stone. Last time I checked, American Airlines had a ten dollar cheaper fare to El Paso - but the flight went through DFW, with a layover. Anyone who's ever been through DFW knows that it might just be quicker to walk to El Paso instead of trudging all over that airport. SWA isn't everything to everybody, and on crowded flights, I feel like cattle. But the cattle car arrives on time and intact. SWA is like that Motel Six commercial, not always the cheapest, but the price is always right down there.

Amazon (4). Love their service. Early on, I had a few pissing matches with customer service, but eventually we got that all sorted out, and I've been happy with the automated delivery of texts. As long as I don't have to deal with a live person, at three in the morning, it's the best place to shop. There's another problem I have with Amazon, seldom observed, about what it takes to get a book listed with them. In order to get my romance book up on Amazon, I'd have to have a cover price of about $27. Which is just way too high. Book's only worth $9.95, or $12.95, but the price it little higher because it's a "print-on-demand" thing. But $27? Even in mercenary moment, I couldn't do that.

Bass Pro Shops (5). The only Bass Pro Shop I've actually set foot in was in Oklahoma City. It's bigger than Wal-Mart, for chrissakes, I mean, the place was huge. Right at the intersection of I-35 (north and south) and I-40 (east and west). The "boat wing" was like a little shed, sort of tacked on the side, and it was bigger than the last boat show I went to. Huge place. Mega-corporation. But at 3 in the morning, if you need a certain wiggly, plastic thing used for catching fish over-nighted, it works just fine.

But those are big corporations. A more realistic list? How about Jo's Coffee, Bouldin Creek Caffeine Dealer, 503, Flipnotics, Halcyon, Little City, The Hideout, Ruta Maya, and the Flightpath? Each one of those places is very individual, has it's own flavor, and most of them get their beans from Texas Coffee Trader.

My all-time favorite pair of sandals was, indeed, a pair of Teva's. Old school Teva's. Made during the off-season by river guides in Northern Arizona. That first pair was basically expensive flip-flops with an ankle strap. Loved them. More recently, though, the Teva's wear out faster, and the last pair? Made in some third-world manufacturing company, that sucks dollars out of American pockets and the sandals aren't quite as good. Or so it seems.

I've had my eyes on Piper Sandals for years, and when I finally got a pair, they worked, right out of the box. Better yet: they can be resoled, like a lifetime guarantee. Bonus: handmade in San Antonio. That's some good stuff.

Two meat Tuesday
My internal clock is just thoroughly trashed by now. Day & night swapped places, sleeping until almost noon, something's not right.

I can always trace the problem back to two sources, and I'm sure some of this starts with a lad named Bubba. "Wait, isn't it always the fault of some guy named Bubba?"

Works for me. Along with the sleeping patterns that are thoroughly upset and twisted around, I've had nothing but weird dreams lately. Not bad, just full of lots of action. Then to top it all off, the way I work, I usually spend the morning (or early afternoon these days) writing. Writing horoscopes because that's what most of the site's traffic reads.

As I was prepping the February scopes, I discovered a whole week that was blank. Which then sent me into a tailspin, wondering just who let this slide by? I looked around for someone to beat, someone to rail at, thwack on the head, but the cat just rolled over and meowed.

Right, can't blame her.

Poking around for something else on Amazon, I cam across a listing for a new release, Confusion by Neal Stephenson, Book II of the prequel to his Diamond Age. Scince I'm still muddling through Quicksilver, the timing ought be about right. That book is a second reason for sleep patterns to be upended, too. I'll get started reading late at night and then not get to bed early enough to wake up early enough and it starts all over.

Cool iPod analysis.

Two-meat-Tuesday did include a two-meat plate at the BBQ place. Mr. "you can't say 'bubba Sean' without saying BS" was in rare form.

Totally off topic:
All right, real quick, unrelated, following a link from the iPod piece, I found out that Apple & Macs are cool. Great. Then following another link, there was a comment about a question used in a survey, I think I recall the survey group was 20-35 years of age, "What five companies/products would you endorse if you were a celebrity spokesperson?"

(I might have it all wrong, but that prompted the good question)

What five [5> companies or products would you endorse?

5) Vehicles built before 1974. When style and fashion, and sometimes, a lack of common sense, or perhaps, a vehicle that assumed common sense. Check the oil and put on your seatbelt. Early 60's passenger cars with fins. Trucks that had enough room to get to the motor itself.

4) Local bookstores, small & large, like Whole Life Books (1006 S. Lamar) or the giant Book People.

3) Handmade - in Texas - cowboy boots

2) Handmade in San Antonio, TX: Piper Sandals.

1) Sure, Apple computer. They still have a tech support call center here in Austin.

Coke or Pepsi? How about a Dr. Pepper? Or coffee from a non-chain, independent coffee shop where each shot of espresso is packed and squeezed by hand? Newspapers that aren't part of a corporate newsfeed? Radio stations that feature local musicians?

Weird spike
There was a weird spike in traffic Sunday night. Not sure of the source, but I'll poke through the log files, and figure it out. New link, maybe?

I got motivated while watching some trailers at the Alamo the other evening.

"Premium horoscopes at a popular price."
Considering this was a cheap beer commercial, that makes it even better as the scopes now cost less than a six-pack of cheap beer, at least by local standards. A lot less.

But I liked the "Premium-brew scopes, handcrafted by master brewers," and that's not working. Besides, Shady Acres is at the edge of Town Lake, and that's hardly a bubbling source of "spring water."

But the "micro-brew" analogy is worthy of further experimentation. Same thing. Hand-crafted. Full-bodied. Fresh flavor. Each horoscope it meticulous assembled by hand, in laboratory, here in the back end (or front end) of trailer in Shady Acres trailer park, on the south side of Austin.

upcoming flyer

And thinking about El Paso?

Monday update:
Day-to-night settings. Homer & Pantex. (Amarillo Highway)

> The facility's website assures visitors that BWXT Pantex is "Maintaining the
> safety, security and reliability of America's nuclear weapons stockpile"
> through "Teamwork that delivers... Results!".
> Presumably the ... represents the slight delay between the team dropping the
> warhead and then delivery of the Results! in the form of Texas reduced to an
> irradiated wilderness for 10,000 years.

I went with a Sagittarius back up to Alamo to see the movie I missed before Saturday's Aries adventure. The whole Aries thing was spooky because it was one, right after another, for about 48 hours. Then along came a Sagittarius to lighten my attitude.

Anyway, showed up an hour early, bought tickets, walked over to Texpresso (only the smoothest, richest, creamiest, most delicious cup of coffee - dramatic pause - in the world), and I started looking at a motorcycle, hence, the flashback.

It was a Ducati, and when the rider fired it up, that motor made satisfying grumble and whir like only a Ducati can. Plus, as he rolled off the sidewalk and scooted away, I noticed that the pipes were labeled "D&D - Ft. Worth, Texas."

"D & D" - at one time, was Dave and Danny, and they were no more than a couple of old-school mechanics who made excellent exhaust pipes. Maybe not exactly quiet, but rather satisfying, in the day. I figure it's probably related to the pipes on that Duck (old-school slang for Ducati).

The another flashback was to the movie the night before, and what was funny, "You're progressed Venus is...." and "wait, I shouldn't do this until I've completed your chart..." Real astrology talk. The book she was reading from, sure looked like a certain ephemeris.

Then Along Came Polly, and it was cute. Not too cute, but certainly entertaining enough. However, like most Alamo Drafthouse shows, I'm wondering if the trailers weren't more interesting.

Late Sunday night, we were at Kerby Lane, back in part of town, and we ran into Greg, so this was like a flashback to Friday night.

The Cooler
I started it with an Aries, been a whole slew of them lately, and we headed out for the Alamo, for dinner, drinks and a movie. But it was raining, and rain tends to dampen an ardent Aries fire. Plus the Alamo was sold out.

Which then prompted a newspaper and alternative plans, which then become "The Cooler," and I had to explain, since the theater had changed locations, why I am loathe to stop and ask for directions.

But yes, we saw the movie "The Cooler," and it was pretty good. One of those limited film, I'm sure a good portion of the film's budget was spent on aerial shots of Las Vegas at night.

It's about a guy with no luck, or bad luck, and he falls in love with a hooker, and his luck changes, and there's a lot of plot, but the scenery from Las Vegas? Just makes me want to go again. The set, supposedly, is like the old-style casino. Just kept reminding me of the street-side room at the )new) Flamingo. Which, to me, always felt like an old casino.

Good movie, good acting, &c. But Las Vegas? Always looking for that magic.

Pissed off?
This one was too weird.

Pursuant to happy hour discussion, I'd suggested that place. Now I look like some kind of weirdo.

Could be me, pictures of females using the bathroom really doesn't interest me. It's not an erotic, exotic turn-on. Maybe I'm old fashioned.

One more inside joke - link - for the journal/writers' group.

Kill Bill, vol. 1. I don't know where I was going with that one, it meant something at the time.

Apple's GarageBand is going to go the way of online games like "EverCrack" or more quotidian, Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Highly addictive. I'm trying to work in my own samples.... I'll upload a creation before too long.

A reading and a very late breakfast at Bouldin, then hopped up to another coffee stop, then wound our way over to the Shoal Creek Saloon for some happy hour type activity. Since Shoal Creek is right across from El Cheapo Disks, I talked my late-night Sagittarius companion into a quick spin through there.

What a score. New Crystal Method, $12.95. Terry Allen's "Lubbock (on everything)" and that turned out to be an even better score, because it was still sealed, but it was at a used price. Then, after glancing through classical stuff, I was looking for some Wagner opera, I happened across a super-deep-discounted Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

Which goes back to Kill Bill, vol. 1.

Filters & Servers
I got a "tech support" last night, notifying me that the site was running perilously close to its limits for the amount of space it's taking up. Not in sheer volume, but in the number of files I'm responsible for.

I noted that the kitty cam wasn't uploading yesterday, and the hit counter was acting fried, as in, it was too busy to count traffic.

I poked through layers and layers of code and found no problems, and I couldn't isolate difficulty on my end, even though I suspected I'd tweaked something once too often.

That's strange, I checked the statistics about a week ago, and I was at about half-capacity. No big deal. Where did all the volume, sheer numbers, come from?

The bane of electronic existence - spam.

Deal is, I've got two layers of filters now, and suddenly, my mail is a lot more manageable. I'm happy. The problem is, the server stores all that spam, and saves it, and eventually the bulk size and sheer numbers eat up space.

I kept tracing the problem back to the server, so I broke down and called tech support. Validated that I was correct in my assumption.

"We're working on it..."

As I plowed through the trash, in something like 3K messages, I found one e-mail that might have been missed. 1 in 3,000. I like those numbers.

Frankly, when dealing with this kind of scourge? I'll take the occasional miss just to have peace of mind.

Nap guidelines
Sleep on it.

Which, I suppose, was what I was supposed to do. I was on time to meet a client in the late afternoon; however, the communications got screwed up some where - imagine that with computers, cell phones and a vast array of digital detritus - and I was staring at an empty plate and chart that went unexplained, while racking my brain trying to remember where I remembered a face from.

A tiny (petite) Scorpio. Left over contact from the apartment days, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember her name - there was something unusual about her name -

We swapped notes, but I was getting settled into that happy state that comes from a decent cup of coffee and a (vegan-esque) meal in a local dive. On the long walk home, I finally remembered the Scorpio riff - the Avengers.

Strange times, in the dark of the moon. The lake's surface was still, and I flipped an albino plastic into the water, just once, not really reaching the river's channel but trying, just one last time while the moon's phase was supposedly perfect. No luck.

I'm sure the fish don't think highly of an Aquarius Moon Phase, either, new or otherwise.

Fishing on the mind
However, just because I want to be trying out a few new techniques, that doesn't mean I will get a chance to.

Started out with a lazy day, not a lot on the books for work, a just had to go and teach an astrology class. I was winding my way through some horoscopes, like, I had a bunch of ideas hit, all at once, and I was busy trying to transcribe all the material when the phone started ringing.

"Want to go to lunch?" Yeah, can hold for a second?

"Got a deal pending, what's that look like?" Sure, looks good.

"We picked the date for incorporation, can you walk the material through the Secretary of State's office this afternoon at the precise time?" Sure.

That last one, it was a fun one, it was matter of picking the best time - astrologically - for a business venture - then getting paid for both a consultation and walking the papers through the filing process at the agreed upon time.

But the moon, the moon was dark. Great time, one-day window for fishing. Work? Fish? Which one is most important?

There's still a big, lurking black bass that regularly cruises the shoreline when I'm there. But she doesn't like anything I've thrown at her, not plastics, not topwater, not crankbait, not spinners, not tubes, not even the special "Bass crave the flavor" slimy worm thing. Nothing. Sounds like my social life, but I guess that's not the point these days.

Walking back from the state offices, I kept thinking about a slight variation of a rig, possibly a new way to sneak up on that one fish. Didn't work, but at least I had a chance to try.

I tried recording the lecture with my iPod. Sort of worked. Not production quality, but the idea is getting there. I should be able to do a "spoken word - astrology" audio CD pretty soon. At least I'm closer to one goal.

Rebound two on Tuesday
So the "economy" is supposedly on the rebound. I'm not sure I'm buying that.

I got note from my bank, two points of interest for me: one, bad check NSFed, and two, a credit card that bounced. It's not like I'm out a lot of money on either one of these transactions. Extra five bucks on the check, and the card that didn't go through just means no product ships - except I've already done the reading.

Anyone who's been in business for any length of time deals with such little problems. It's the first of the year, my fireworks stand is rolling along, so cash flow is good, maybe not good enough, but I'm not going to worry about the bounced payments.

One them came from a school teacher, so I'm writing that one off. I consider it tithing to the gods. The other one is more problematic because there's now a paper trail, and plus an extra five bucks. I don't have hard and fast policy on how to deal with this, there's no "returned check fee" prominently displayed when I work, not a lot I can do, not today. Not a lot I'm going to do but sit and fume. Or think about making my deposits a little faster, after I collect checks.

It's been over a year since I've had a bounced payment from clientele. So the supposed "rebound" and "recovery" of the economy? I'm not buying that.

Unrelated footnote.

Killer Fish tales.

(I was looking for corroborating evidence for TFG's fishy story.)

(And one more thing about that catfish: largest, according to state records, was 116 pounds.)

The same dream sequence
It's been the same dream, and it's popped up several nights now, in the dark of the night.

There's a tiny speck of a "flying ship," a cross between a da Vinci drawing and some childhood fragment from my own imagination. It's some kind of a steam-powered helicopter with gossamer wings and two little smoke stacks, puffing away. One smoke stack is for the fire for the boiler, the other is the steam as it escapes.

The little thing has been slipping in and out of mountains, almost look like old maps, darting in a gawky, jerky steam-powered manner, as if the fireman is having a bit of trouble regulating the steam itself. Incomplete technology.

I've been working my way through Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, and I'm sure that has something to do with the dream sequence. It's just, as I roused out of the dream the other evening, I remembered that it was the same dream I've been having for a while. Same flying machine. Same mountains, same map.

It just goes to show that whatever I'm reading before I go to bed usually has an influence on my imaginary life.

Web dustbin collection:
Another one for the wish list.

And the "register" to comment issue. I compared a half-dozen pieces of "blog" software when I moved everything to pMachine. One of its intricacies is that it requires a browser to register before leaving a comment.

I'd already had trouble with comments in the past, so the software safely logs an IP address &c. before letting someone leave a comment. It's for your own good. Trust me. Just look at the trouble Moveable Type is having these days.

The "internet" now covers 69% of America, with 37% of that on broadband, according to this news.

How to watch the upcoming election.

Yes, and it's St. Sebastion's Feast Day (Patron Saint of Archers)...

Of course, archery has pretty much been in decline for the last half dozen centuries, not much good for hunting or protection, just sport.

Horse law signage.

Hank III
Hank Williams the Third (Shelton's his real name) played Stubb's Sunday night. Joe Buck on bass. Heck, that's how his name is listed.

Pretty good show. Excellent show. Hard to improve on a good thing, but Hank III has done it again.

Grinning and prowling around before the show, there was a guy with a washed out blond Mohawk - a few minutes later, he was looking ever so much like a grinning death head, skull-like in appearance, wearing a bright purple Western-cut (yoke with snaps, fancy white piping) hunched over the stand-up bass. Quite the show that new bass man put on.

Beating and spinning the stand-up bass, growling, grinning, he looked like a gargoyle. Plus, and I didn't realize this until the second set, it was a complete Country and Western suite, an homage, perhaps, the real roots of country music. Plus a Mohawk.

"Well, you have to admit, it's certainly a typical Austin crowd," my Pisces companion noted.

Have you ever heard speed metal on acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, with fiddle and pedal steel? The first set started out slow, just "country," and about 45 minutes into it, they upped the volume and the speed. Hellbelly. The crowd sang along, "If you don't like my hillbilly music hey, go fuck you!"

The angst, anger, and energy of raw punk. The musical accompaniment of traditional C&W music. Yeah, that rocks.

The metal set was a change, and I've seen Hank III's straight metal gigs before. Nothing surprising. I'd taken earplugs, but it didn't sound like I needed them. Bad mistake. Towards the end of the final "loud" set, my ears were ringing. My Pisces bailed out and waited upstairs for me. Took two tries to finally get out of there because I had to stop by the merch table and score one of the bootleg CDs. Well worth it, too. Better sound quality than previous bootlegs I've picked up.

Hank III has enormous talent. I just hope he gets through his little problem with getting records released. He plays outlaw country, pure country, hellbelly and metal. In a normal marketing striation, that would be three different genres that are covered.

At the end of the first set, I raised my hand, "Freebird!"

No one was old enough to get the joke.

I was still pumped when I got home, and I got webcam shot of the salute.





Feast Day of Saint Anthony
Patron Saint of Gravediggers...

Which is probably what I looked like, after I spent a gorgeous afternoon sliding around on the muddy banks of the creek. Took a nap and then short hike to Sandy's for the Saturday night special. (Burger, fries, medium drink, $2.59)

Bubba Sean joined me, and it looked warm enough when we left, but I froze as the north wind howled down after the sun set.

Some[/ur> kind of interview. I've seen Matt at SXSW several times. Alpha geek. I tend to use his MeFi as source for weird links.

Ethical question - but it's one I've been on both sides of. I've answered e-mail sitting in bar, sitting in a coffee shop, sitting at the airport waiting to fly to some forsaken destination (usually in Texas), and I've answered from remote locations, close to the Artic Circle, and sitting on the Gulf Coast.

I've also sat in and watched while a (big-name) DJ recorded a distant set. Radio stations must like that, a four-hour evening shift took about half an hour to tape. It is weird hearing the DJ say, "It's midnight so I'm out of here," and then we had some breakfast - mid-morning - at Magnolia.

Friday five
1. Personal Firewall Day
2. Rain
3. Groceries.
4. Rain.

1. I screwed down the settings the computer, tighter than a bloated tick's belly. Not like I'm a target or anything, just observing the high holy (digital) day.

2. It was a rush hour dash to the airport to unload a red-headed Capricorn. Look out: New York. I think that's where she was going. I don't remember. It was that slow, gentle, even rain that was more mist than rain.

3. So as long as I was out in the Friday morning traffic, I figured I'd swing by the warehouse store and score a few groceries. A case of cat food. A case of diet coke because, so I thought, winter was over. I'm sure I'll eat those words, but at least I have some supplies laid in.

4. Rained all afternoon. Since I was up early, but not doing what I prefer to do, by the time I got all the groceries stored, and flipped a lure in the lake a time or two, under that leaden sky, with all the clouds lowered down on my head, I just figured a nap was in order. The phone wouldn't leave me alone, though.


Music: response
Which is, of course, a
Chemical Brothers

I was on the Apple iTunes site, and I found that The Crystal Method has a new release. Which lead to a search for something else, and I found a Prodigy album I didn't have.

The good new? At the Apple eStore, those albums are $9.99. The downside? I wanted the album itself, the liner notes for copyright information, especially with the dub music. It's all about roots, and I want to know where those samples came from.

More music response: I picked up Hank Three tickets Thursday afternoon. There really aren't a lot of shows that I have to see, but that's one. I was trying to pull off a road trip to Dallas, for Friday night, but that never materialized.

Got to work a quick party Sunday afternoon then it's off to the show, as long as it doesn't get rained out. From the Hank Three site, it's my guess he's doing both sets - country then (other).

I almost swung by the record store - even though I'm pretty sure they don't sell records anymore - Taurus promises not withstanding - with new CD's on my mind. But Hank 3 doesn't appear to have one out yet, and I can't really afford the Crystal Method one yet. Maybe after working the party.

More retail therapy.

Intuition & repeats
Today story.

I've got a half-beaten manuscript sitting on the coffee table. It's a cookbook, an astrology cookbook. That's what this type of manual is referred to in the trade.

"My sun is in Capricorn, damn, this book says I'm doomed."

That's why it's called a cookbook, you leaf through the text and look up your own definitions. Of course, mine's a little different. Hit any big bookstore, and there's a usually a whole shelf full of astrology cookbooks. Kind of hard to come up with something new. I managed to put a new spin on relationships with the first book, but that one took years.

Over lunch at Romeo's, and a Leo reading, we got to talking about books and the printing process. And the writing process. Which reminded me why I was having such a hard time finishing that cookbook.

Since the first of the year, I've done over 100 individual readings. Each one is different. From ten minutes at a fair to two hours over lunch, the length (and price) can vary. So do topics. And that's the problem with the cookbook, too.

I've hit the wall with it. The cookbook version of a reading, a personal chart interpretation, just doesn't work for me. "No famous Capricorn's were ever musicians," from my text files. Work with this humor: Jimmy Buffet, Robert Earl Keen and, of course, Elvis were all Capricorn Sun individuals.

But I depend on intuition too much in a personal reading, and more than a fair sprinkling of that is not so much intuition, but "art," as I weight various influences, to determine what's the most important element to discuss.

But intuition doesn't get transcribed into a book-length manuscript. Therein is the problem.

Ah to hell with this discussion. I worked on upcoming horoscopes because that's where I really enjoying working. It's getting harder and harder, though to make sure that there are no repeats. I like a good challenge, and that's what I've etched out thus far, a good challenge for myself.

Rather ephemeral, but then, so is life. Yee-haw.

It's no secret that I'm inordinately fond of Piper Sandals footwear. Made by some properly strange folks down in San Antonio, "if the shoe fits..." Not sold in any stores, as far as I know. Rather like me.

Properly weird and not available in stores. Except that the book is available in a local bookstore, but never mind that now.

So anyway, I'd sent my sandals off to get repaired, and they came back just as the weather turned cold. But I've had the new sandals on for the last few days, better than new, plus there was a handwritten note from the proprietor, one of those touches that's just really nice. Customer service the way it should be.

They put new straps on the sandals. So that means I've got an extra two or three inches of tough, strap leather, flopping around at the end. I was about to cut it off, when I had an idea. Brilliant idea. That excess strap leather? Looks like a kind of bait I've seen before....

The Piper Sandal Strap Lure (patent not yet applied for). I've got to work out the details, but I'm thinking, a little strap of leather, an offset hook, and it's an item.

On certain days, the fish will bite at anything. Might just work.

Two meat Tuesday & retail therapy
Terra Bytes: Saw this in a tech tech link.

I think I want one.

Big Mouth Mailbox Too bad I don't have room for one of those.

The scary part of that? I've seen fish that are as big as that mailbox. True story.

Two meat at the Green Mesquite, as I came cruising in the back road, up from the lake, I spied a familiar looking visage. Gemini buddy, talking on the pay phone. I offered him my cell. He was busy at work.

I was tweaking a little, working on the "server load" script addition for the journal, and it took a couple of tries to get all to work correctly. I noticed the comment tacked onto the last post, and I'm not sure what I can do about making this a better buying experience.

Personally, I hate taking the time to fill in all the blanks when I'm filing out a credit card form online. I've gotten to the point that I prefer to use PayPal. Just much easier for me. I had a brief foray into buying and selling on eBay, so I liked it for that. Much easier from a transaction point of view. Plus the subscriptions just dump into the business account, which is then attached to the credit card that pays for the server (and domain name, bandwidth, [cheap> local broadband, and so forth, all those little details that drive overhead up and up).

The shopping cart I'm currently using in the online shop is part of the package I pay for, and frankly, it's good enough given the volume (or lack of volume), and besides, I'm a writer, not a marketing expert.

Which was an amusing segue into the mailbox stuff. No, not the fish mail box, the real one at the post office. Because I put out last year's columns as a book, and assigned the text a real ISBN, I'm getting certain amount of junk mail from self-appointed experts who want o help me promote my book.

I looked at the first offer closely. By the time I got up to the third or fourth offer, I quit examining the details. The one I saw yesterday afternoon? Only item I remember reading before I tossed it was, "I'm a writer, not a marketing expert!"

And I'm going to stay being a writer. It's what - according to the server load - I seem to do best.

Just exactly how many Shakespeare, faux-scholar, fishing, sarcastic, caustic, Texan, astrology writers are there?

Micropayments via the Web
NY Times article about micro-payments. Third 'graph from the end of the article:

> Yet Todd Pearson, the managing director for merchant services at PayPal, an
> eBay subsidiary in Mountain View, Calif., that is the principal peer-to-peer
> system for paying online, said the time for micropayments had finally arrived.
> "We think the stars are coming into alignment on this at last," he said.

Interesting choice of words. "We think the stars are coming into alignment on this at last."

Way it works here? The fee for the server and network access is paid for via the subscriptions. Means that the content is paying for its rent. No profit, but at least it working for now.

Of course, there's a steep monthly fee for the service. From my end, Paypal currently collects an average of 15% of the subscription fee. The good news? I don't ever see the credit card number, and in some cases, the subscription service is handled in a largely anonymous way.

I could beat Apple Computer's price, and charge $0.89 per view. Lay in some kind of original soundtrack for the scope? But that still jacks the price up almost a dollar more than it is right now....

Some days, I'm not sure my soundtrack wold fit everyone's mood, too.

Normal friends
"That picture on the Internet? I was just helping that sheep over a fence!"
(Aura Camera Guy - dinner quote)

It all started with some food after we were done. I kept looking for that one Capricorn to circle back around but near as I could tell, she'd split. Way it goes, at the end of a long day at work.

We'd all hopped over to Texas Land and Cattle for some dinner, after the show. I was - I feel wrongly - accused of being the last person doing readings.

My Virgo fishing buddy had dropped off some new hardware, a special piece of equipment for fishing, and I stepped out to the river's edge to try it before the night got too cold. I could see one big feller lurking right near the shore, but the fancy worm didn't attract his attention. The light line didn't seem to spook him none, though.

I checked my notes, after I'd popped back into the trailer.

"Me and Pat, we're like you're normal friends, right? Except for me, of course."

"I don't mind that my daughter lives in trailer park in East Texas, I just wish they had a septic tank."

So I'm wondering, do I really live in a normal world with normal friends?

Distilled predictions
I missed Friday night's prediction panel, but I was going to distill and print out a prediction for the new year. Election prediction:

First off, let me just state for the record, I vote Democrat or Green. Or sometimes, Libertarian, sort of depends on the mood. Or the candidate and the issues. When I was in England last fall, I got quizzed about politics.

Standard reply, "I didn't vote for his daddy and I didn't vote for him."

However, and despite how one-half of my immediate family will probably vote, I'm calling it for G.W. Bush.

Two extenuating sets of circumstances, Saturn and Jupiter. If - for the liberal, thinking vote, it's not an "if" statement - but if the President really did some of the horrendous things he's alleged to have done, then there might be some pretty fair mud-slinging. In fact, I'm expecting it. The problem with this kind of bottom-scraping is that it's just that, nothing more than bottom scraping.

Ask just about any Cancer Sun Sign person these days, Saturn's a "cosmic report card" who is just checking up and seeing "how we're doing...."

Don't like the prediction? Neither do I. Register vote. Become part of the process. Otherwise, well, even though I don't really like it, I'm calling it this way as of now.

One story, just one, from dinner
Worked most of the afternoon at a steady rate, but after that last reading, after five, I just sort of gave up.

Aura Camera guy Mac (Capricorn) has a sister, and she wandered over as I was wrapping up, and stowing stuff in the bag to head out for dinner. I had two copies of the books on the table. She picked up one, flipped it over, and she looked at the back bio shot, along with the general heft of the book.

"So Pat caught the fish you're holding up?"

Them Virgo girls are always so nice.

Over dinner, another nice riposte came from a Sagittarius. Mac made some comment, and I responded by asking about his collection of women's clothing for farm animals.

So this delicate Sagittarius just noted that it was hard to find the right shoes.

Some days, I just don't want to know.

Work & stats
Off to work this fine, cool morning in Austin. I was flipping through the statistics on the server, and I found a very disconcerting note: over a thousand people tried to access the current weekly horoscopes and discovered that the scopes are not available for free.

10K requests for scopes. 10% of that figure tried to click through to paid scopes with no success. My last lottery ticket didn't have a single winning number. The two are connected, somehow.

I carried a copy of one of my books down to the post office to mail off to Ma Wetzel, belated Xmas gift, as she never seems to figure out her computer to access the scopes.

I then stopped by a coffee shop, heard something rather engaging on the sound system, inquired as to the source, and if I dig more up, I'll pass it along.

"Vinyl's coming back in, you know," the Taurus making my afternoon espresso assured me, "soon as they figure out how to play it in a car. You know, vinyl's got a better sound."

Deadpan delivery. But I didn't take the bait. I don't own anything that will play a record. CD? Sure. Tape? Only if I have to. I record more tapes than I play.

Nothing took any of my bait Friday afternoon, but the weather, the moon's phase (one sign past full), all of that adds up to lethargic fishies.

What's most disheartening? A total lack compassion.

Which isn't going to be a problem this weekend. Friday morning, Bubba Sean calls, on his way to work, and he was bitching about a non-girlfriend who was bitching that I didn't respond to her e-mail.

"What did you say to Kramer?" (e-mail = written, didn't say a word.)

"I just bitched about work, the usual complaints."

"And Kramer didn't respond? Imagine that."

When I paid for that reading last fall, I had a chance to crystallize a new method of delivery. Deal is, my "style" is a little different from most. Maybe different from all. There's a plus, too, as I had a chance to see how I've organically changed over the years.

Two skills I practice and hone every day: writing and reading. "Reading" can cover a lot of ground, whether I'm reading a chart or reading a book, but writing, I won't get any better, but I can try bumping nouns into verbs in new and engaging ways, plus I'm always experimenting with rhythm. Maybe I can't dance, but I can listen for that magic. Never hurts to keep trying, keep reaching.

For entertainment purposes only - Engineering language - a post-modern look from an engineering POV.

Thursday's three
3> Bad movie with good sound effects.
2> Chum.
1> Books.

3> The movie was "Santos & the Invasion from Mars" or something like that. For what it's worth, the lead character was a masked Mexican wrestler. Santos. Looked like a very early 1960's or maybe late 1950's movie. Sound effects and dub work was performed, I'm not sure, by a couple of guys wearing Mexican wrestling masks. Well worth it because the accompanying audio, sound effects and ad lib dialog was rather amusing.

When I did a web search, I kept getting a hits that suggested the "Santos" (Mexican wrestler/super-hero) series, spans 25 years (?) was coming up on DVD. Never actually found a link for the DVD's, but - according to what I read on some web sites - it's all available.

2> Stood by the edge of the river and watched while a single, fairly decent size bass mocked me from the shallow water. Trees: 2. Fish: 0.

1> Last year's column in book form. My single preview copy arrived Thursday morning. Looks much better than the first book.

Part of that exercise makes the "Fishing Guide to the Stars" a real thing. ISBN registered, copyright, all that. "Steal my shit and lawyers will eat you."

High Holy Days
Pause for a moment.

The King's birthday.

"Thank you. Thank you very much."

And from the "have we lost our minds" dept.:
More on adverts.

How I love these guys. Too bad they missed the obvious connection to the grassy knoll.

Crankbait, part two
Apple's 1984 commercial

There was a lively discussion in several forums about the little addition to the commercial. Somehow, an iPod got added to the figure's form. It's all about product placement, and themes, or to some of the A-list folks, "memes." Whatever.

The deal is, when I was in the Apple store in November, then again after Xmas, all of the employees had the little belt-clip iPod thing going on. Like it was a fashion accessory, required, or so it seemed.

Now, I have one. In fact, as I'm typing, the first part of the Ring Cycle is running through the speakers. It is an extremely handy gadget, as I can spool up that whole opera cycle - that's about 14 music CD's. With room to spare. Plus there's no getting up and shifting discs around.

It's a brilliant piece of equipment, in its simplicity, form and function. A bit pricey, but it was all part of that Xmas - birthday from Sister. I didn't know that I needed one, and now that I've got one, I can see how it's really useful. I don't think I'll be found in the front of a boat, fishing away with little earplugs in, though. But if I wind up driving down to the coast next month, I might use it then.

Otherwise, I'm pretty much just enamored of the way an iPod handles the music mixing in this here trailer.

It was that digital re-mastering of a legendary ad, that's what got to me. That's what was obliquely funny. Then, thinking back, there's an odd theme - the belt clip, the sport clip, the arm band, the display of the gadget. Like that central figure in the edited/updated 1984 commercial.

There's an inherent elegance, too. In the product itself, plus, that advertising. It all fits. I just wish I could get more of my material to flow as well as that. Even if it's really just advertising.

I was poking around online, and I came across a Slashdot link to an interview with Bruce Sterling.

It touched on a number of topics near and dear to me, omitting just one, and there was quote or two I was going to pull, but I never marked the point in the page - that's the problem with reading material online, can't underline something for later.

I clicked back to the article two, maybe three times, trying to find what piqued my interest so, what I didn't underline. Never could recall it. But it spurred an unrelated idea, a topic drawn from a topic....

Measure the visual weight, the amount of screen space taken up by advertising on a web screen. Any website. How much of the space is clutter? How much of the space is market driven adverts for something you don't need, in fact, time spent actively avoiding the flashing, wiggling bits? What's that measurement? A divine proportion of some form.? Or maybe it's not a divine proportion. I just wondered as I wandered around the web. How much is advertising versus how much is actually text that gets consumed?

Just trying to get caught up
I rode back with a former girlfriend, not that odd, and we discussed many topics, mostly business, a little gossip, and not much else. "Maybe you can do a reading on (new boyfriend) and me..." Maybe so, but if it ain't broke, why analyze it to death? They're happy, life is good.

I kept thinking about that image with the guitar case, and I kept thinking I liked it. I'm not sure I really like the part about bullets flying, but I liked the part about the guitar player, just wandering along, and he kept getting swept up in controversy. Mistaken identity. "Aren't you a musician?"

I kept toying with images, and I kept meaning to get around to this one picture, from El Rincon de Cortez, in El Paso.

"Bet you never been here before," was the comment.

I was sure I hadn't, but as I entered the receipts into the accounting ledger, up popped "El Rincon de Cortez" - subtitle: El Paso Road Food. So I have been there before, or so the computer tells me.

This one picture caught my eye, captivated me, and I started making up stories about what was there.

To me, one of the aspects of Southwestern Americana travel that's just too cool, it's that sense of history - real or imagined.

Mercury and Lubbock
I ran across an interesting link, and I called a Gemini to discuss. Mercury is, according to my algorithms, moving forward. Then I got a notice about a possible event to work in Lubbock, Feb. 14.

Advantages? It's Lubbock. Point of origin for the Flatlanders. Texas Tech. (go Red Raiders?)

Lunch and planes
I stayed an extra day in El Paso, doing the couch surf - thing as I had a business meeting to firm up some details for the future. Weirdest thing, all that really, really good Mexican food?

I'm thinking about a new name for me. New totem, too.

It's a picture of the Aztec god of thunder.

"Quotemoc" (?) & holding "La Malinche"
(white-boy ignorance must be excused)

Casino Run
I kept trying to remember a certain word, to add to the previous entry, and I couldn't shake the correct word out of my mind. All about looking at one's self on TV - or in a reflection. Came to me late last night, as I was drifting off to sleep: narcissistic.

So anyway, end of the day, Moon's was in Gemini, just seemed like a good time to stop by the Indian Casino (Sunland Park).

Ken was going on and on about the 9-liner machines.

Sat down at one, a "little green men" game - I'm not making up the name of the slot machine. I played it a few times, after we'd all eaten a big fill a the buffet, and I doubled up after shoving a few loose dollar bills into that machine. Hit the "cash out" button and promptly ran the machine out of money. While they were filling the machine with quarters, I stuck a few of the winning quarters into the machine next to it. Ran that machine out of quarters, too.

Wandered around some, cashed out, and came back to the little green men. I made almost $200 off that one machine. Of course, offset those winnings against the cash poured into the machine, and all I can say, looks like I got free dinner. Not a bad way to close out a weekend.

As we were winding down and winding down and winding out the door, the casino personnel had to service the machine again. I looked at her, "We've got to stop meeting like this." She smiled, kept about her business, then came back for a minute, "Are you a musician?"

Gemini Moon -
Before we ever sat down on Saturday morning, Grace asked about the moon. Gemini Moon, all weekend, from my notes. Then, Sunday morning, the buzz was that I was on TV Saturday night.

"Dude, you looked good."

Cool. I guess.

Lots and lots of Gemini. That one TV reporter, she was Gemini. Just figures. Or it's one of those odd coincidences.

Sunday morning, as is the custom, we dined at the Pastry Chef. Standing around outside, I listened to Ken while he talked to the owner about a welding job. I had a chance to sneak a quick shot, sort of a "mirror image" project shot. My reflection in the window.
I arrived in El Paso in the afternoon, we all headed over to L & J Café for lunch, then out to feed some horses, and from then over Grace's for dinner and so forth. Half dozen pictures:

Ken's new truck:

L & J Café (most excellent grub - Huevos Divorciado - red AND green sauces)

The Horse Ranch

Saturday morning: not sure if the fence is to keep us in or keep us out...
One more for the road
That image of the "guitar player" from the "El Mariachi"[url> trilogy bounced back and forth. I snapped that picture yesterday, but fore the life of me - maybe some kind soul will figure it out and let me know - I need the theme song from one of those films. And the turtle.

Franklin Mountains hove into sight. Folks from California sitting next to me? Wouldn't buy the legend of the Jackalope. "We've got family there, she has one at home."

I need to add this one, or something similar to the
EULA: "Caution this is produced in an environment with other nuts and nut products."

Dang, got a ton of good pictures Friday afternoon, and no time or bandwidth. Wish I could find some free wireless in El Paso.

Long story short:
I wound up with a guitar and case. One too many jokes about me and musicians.

As I sauntered out of Shady Acres, I had the usual two suitcases plus a laptop bag and guitar case. Felt like a scene from the Mariachi trilogy.

But going to El Paso?

Think: The Gourds.

Soundtrack - copious unrelated material
"Talk to the Hand" is the song, I think it's sandwiched between "Diaper Man" and "Chick with a Dick," but I might have the tracks & titles wrong. Jerry Springer: the Opera (official soundtrack).

"She said that he said that I said that I said that he said that she said that they said that she said that..." I got lost in the lyrics.

2003 in book format is for sale. Why? Just to run through the motions. It's all of last year. Why pay when it can be downloaded in PDF form factor here? I can't answer that. The web is a highly volatile medium, and the archives could, conceivably, fall into an electronic wasteland.

There was a hardware swap the other night, and I had a little extra time, after being served BBQ by an Aries, and as my Gemini buddy noted, she had a tattoo of a vegetarian lizard covering one arm. The idea of the splash page came back up. I toyed with a couple of design ideas, but nothing seemed quite right.

Weird statistics:
3668: 8.24%: 31/Dec/03 00:32: /index.shtml (this is the main page)
642: 1.27%: 31/Dec/03 00:23: /currents/intro.shtml (this is the paid subscription page)
The end of the year, more like just the end of the month, the statistics look like 1% of the readership is (barely) subsidizing the rest of the readership. Consider the lack of advertising around here - just text.

Not so very long ago, I found a handful of really ugly fishing lures in the discount bin at a sporting goods store. The copy on the back of the lure's packaging was a priceless tale about record catches, winning fishing tournaments and jail time. Because the lures were in the discount bin, a little more than a buck apiece, I picked up a couple of them, for practice. Damnedest thing: I got a strike on one Wednesday afternoon when nothing else was working.

Black-eyed peas (signature Texas Caviar) at Threadgill's New Year's Day. Then a long, really ambling hike with a fishing pole, working some hot spots around the lake. Net catch? Two bridges. "You really hooked that one bridge, it wasn't going without a fight," as I was observed. No fish, but a couple of sticks. And two bridges.

Off to El Paso for a working weekend.

Just before a midnight, I noticed two of the four cops on horses smoking cigars. The cops, not the horses. One male, one female. The cops, I don't know about the horses, it was dark.

Right after midnight, an officer took a call on his phone, "Yeah, honey, I kissed Scott instead of you, you know, he was here..." Officer Scott, presumably, looks over at us, grins, and said, "yeah, we're partners. You know how that is."