Tick Tales of Misery and Occasional Ecstasy

March 8, 2010

My Weekend LOL

Filed under: humor, My Past — Tags: , , , , — thetick @ 12:52 pm

It usually takes a lot for me to laugh out loud when I am by myself. Laughter is best (and most infectious) when shared with others. Usually, when alone, the most outrageous laughter I make about humorous things like a sitcom or movie is a snort of air through the nose. I’m getting better at that now, really. But one thing happened over the weekend that not only made me laugh out loud, but a good belly laugh that lasted for several minutes. I am going to tell you about it, but for it to be funny for anyone else but me, some setup is required.

Setup Item 1: My Grandfathers house. My biological Grandmother died before I was born. She lived in a small house in rural Idaho with my grandfather. This was in the 40’s through the late 60’s. To this day, it is almost impossible to get a decent over the air television signal there, and radio signals aren’t much better. What I am getting at is that during that time frame, there wasn’t a hell of a lot to do to keep yourself occupied. My grandmother read books. A lot of books. She also did jigsaw puzzles and there was a lot of card playing. (Never play Pinochle with my Dad. He literally grew up on the game, and shows signs of paranormal abilities regarding what cards you are holding) Grandma had a preference for mystery books. Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, Agatha Christie… they were all well represented in her library. And her library outlasted her, and remained in the house. There were built in bookshelves in every bedroom, as well as a bookcase in the living room. They were all filled to overflowing with books.

Setup Item 2: My Childhood at “The Ranch.” Grandpa eventually remarried, and the woman he married already had a house. It was a nicer house, and she didn’t want to leave it. So, Grandpa would drive about 40 miles every day to what we called The Ranch, and do his job of farming and raising cattle, and then return home at night. The house he used to live in was now only being used when he had lunch. It would also be used when my family would spend the weekend there. The point is, since the Ranch wasn’t lived in, it fell into a bit of disrepair. There were three bedrooms, and two of them were one big room split down the middle. You had to walk through one room to get to the second. When we stayed there, my parents would sleep in what would have to be considered the “master bedroom” only because it was where the parents slept, my sister would sleep in the first of the other two bedrooms, and I would sleep in the living room on the pull-out couch.

I know what you are wondering… why didn’t I sleep in the back bedroom? Well, there are two very good reasons. One: the second bedroom was being used as a storage area. It held boxes of toys from when my Dad and his brother and sister were young. Second: It was full of dead flies. My sister and I called it “The Fly Room.” See, over the years, a bit of a hole opened up in the wall. Not completely to the outside, but the space between the inner and outer walls  was exposed. As a result, flies were able to get in that room. They lived their entire life cycle in that room. They were born, lived and died in that room, their crunchy carcasses blanketing every surface, including the floor. The practice of my grandfather and my family was to keep the door shut and pretend it didn’t exist. My sister and I were the only ones to venture in there, mostly out of boredom. TV signals were still poor, and the TV itself was a black and white holdover from the 60’s. I did not know that the General Lee was orange until The Dukes of Hazzard went into syndication. I went in there for books, my sister for anything she could find that was interesting. I was a voracious reader from the time I was very young. It helped that my family literally lived across the street from the county library. Before we would leave for the weekend, I would check out several books from the library, take them to The Ranch, and have them read by mid afternoon on Saturday. Then I started reading all of Grandma’s old books. She introduced me to Nero Wolfe, who I still visit regularly; Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, who did not interest me as much as Nero, and others that I remember enjoying, but can’t remember the titles or authors to re-read them today. I probably read her entire library.

Setup Item 3: Recently, my sister had a hard drive crash on her laptop, and it was replaced. I was trying to help her with getting her programs set up the way they were over the phone, and she told me that she had lost everything in the crash; pictures, videos, financial records, everything. I told her to mail the old drive to me and I would see if anything could be recovered. When it showed up in the mail, the box was waaaay bigger than necessary to hold a laptop hard drive. She had sent me belated x-mas gifts and a bunch of Valentines candy along with it. The belated x-mas gift was around eight books from my grandmother’s library that she remembered me reading. It was very sweet of her. I put the books on a shelf and intended to read them as soon as possible.

Setup Item 4: The eBook Revolution. Over the years, I have bought and sold or donated a staggering number of books. A few years ago, I got my hands on an Amazon Kindle. I still have at least half a dozen U-Haul small boxes full of books in my shed. And yes, even the small ones packed with tightly compressed paper are heavy. So I decided to find as many books that I owned and enjoyed in an electronic format so I could lighten the load. I found that many of my old favorites were not only out of print, but also not available in an eBook format, anywhere. So I did a little research and decided that if I had to, I would scan the books in their entirety and use an OCR program to try to decipher the text and I would make my own eBooks for convenience, but keep the out of print originals.

On with the story: Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time reading, and cataloging the eBooks that I have acquired so I would have an easy method of sorting the physical books I own into Keep, Scan and Keep, and Sell or Donate piles. I decided to do a test run of the whole scanning and OCR process, but I didn’t want to go out to the shed, since the grass is still super saturated with melted snow and I didn’t want to unseal the book boxes. But, there on a shelf were the books my sister had sent me that would work wonderfully for a test. I went to the shelf. “Peanuts, no its all graphics and the first gen Kindle doesn’t deal with that very well. The Great Brain? Encyclopedia Brown? No, too many pictures along with the text… I just want something text only. Ahh, here we go. This one shouldn’t have any pictures!”  I pulled the book from the shelf and opened it to a random page, intending to flip through it to verify it’s “no pictures” status. It opened to the most likely page, the one with obstacles in it. I knew at a glance that this book had indeed come from The Ranch. In between the pages, the reason the book naturally opened there, I found about a half a dozen very dead, very flat flies. And I laughed. Then I laughed harder. I knelt there on the floor in front of the shelf and roared with laughter.

The book? William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”

OK, so maybe it’s still only funny to me. But you now you can’t unread this post and you’re stuck with it.

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September 27, 2008

Baltimore Comic Convention

Filed under: personal, Social — Tags: , , — thetick @ 7:42 am

So, I am here at another comicon. The line is huge, extending up three floors, and there is still 15 minutes to go before the doors open. So far, I am already happy. Before I even got my ticket, I ran into Scott Kurtz, one of the people I came here to see. I also looked in the official guide, and saw that he would be in the same booth as Frank Cho, the other person that I came here to see. I brought a few comics to get signed, I hope they don’t have a limit on how many they will do. If they do, there will be a lot of people very upset. I have seen a huge number of people already with long boxes.

I am a bit surprised to see an unusually high proportion of attractive women in line to attend. Seeing hot women at a comicon isn’t unusual, but they usually have exhibitor badges on, meaning they are there to suck in the fanboys to a booth with the promise of getting to talk to an actual girl. There is also your standard number of overweight women in line, who have apparently decided that their fat tits are their most redeeming feature, therefore they should show as much of them as possible. Ew. Tattoo artists have got to be getting wealthy based on the huge canvases I have seen. These women must be eating more so that they will have more skin to put ink on, it is the only explanation I have so far.

There are a lot of people in costume, now that the show is underway.  I have seen several Stormtroopers, including TIE Fighter pilots, Harley Quinn, Jean Grey in comic Phoenix attire, a Robin that actually makes the comic Robin look less gay. A young clone trooper with an adult helmet, it made him look like a life sized bobble head doll. Too funny… A family all in costume, Mom, Dad, little girl and the youngest, a little boy. The little boy is in a Flash costume, and has a leash attached to him. That made me laugh, the Flash on a leash. Kinda defeats the purpose of being able to run super fast. There were a few of the booth babes, if the local strip clubs were smart they would have a bunch of their employees in costume handing out free admittance coupons.  They could come in their work clothes and still be more dressed than some of these cosplayers. There are several news crews here, getting the local color stories. They seem to be walking right past the “normal” looking people and focusing on the freak show. I saw them getting a close up of a guy about 4′ 5″ and 200 pounds, who was almost visibly shaking from nervousness. You know he will be on TV. Even 60 Minutes was there, they were mostly talking to the vendors, asking how they got into the business, how they like it, etc. But they were also interviewing this chick.

I managed to find some of my missing comics, and got Scott Kurtz and Frank Cho’s autographs on some. I went and met with the artist of one of the web comics that I read, and in the course of conversation found out we live about 15 minutes from each other. Based on her comic, I was able to ask if she knew of a decent place to hang out and drink, and she drew me a map and invited me to the one she hangs on. Nice. I thought about asking for a picture, but I already look dorky enough being at a comic convention. I hope to see her again while drinking beer.

All in all, I had a good time. I went around the mall area a few times, picked up a few missing comics, including my She Hulk #1 that I have been searching for for several years. I met a couple of the artists that I read, and got their signatures. I don’t know if it will make the comics worth more, but I don’t really care. They are for my collection, not anyone else. I went home in a nasty rainstorm and got some food, now I have to do the usual weekend chores. Dishes, laundry, etc.

On Tuesday, I get to geek out some more and watch Iron Man on Blu-Ray. Awesome, dude. To the max.

September 2, 2008

Decisions, Decisions…

Filed under: personal — Tags: , , , — thetick @ 9:31 am

Not too long ago, I had trouble finding the time to update the ol’ blog. Now I am having trouble making time for the blog. See, Iam in the new place now, and even though I have the basic necessities of life set up, I have too many options for my time. I still enjoy the whole housework thing, which I wont tell my mother about because I don’t have the time or money to take care of her after the heart attack. I really enjoy seeing the empty kitchen sink, vacuuming is still enjoyable, as is having a clean carpet. But all of my hobbies are now available to me! In the past week, I have watched the 5th season of NCIS, put together Lego’s, organized some (not all by a long shot) DVD’s, played Guitar Hero, hooked up the main PC for playing World of Warcraft and almost got to level 70 with my Warlock. (Non gaming geeks ignore the last part of the previous sentence.)

The main thing that has been holding me back is funds. There have been two screw-ups on both my part and my employers that have limited my money. Otherwise, I would have other things to play with. I used my new GPS and did some geocaching and keep seeing things in the shed that I want to play with. I have the remote controlled truck, more Lego’s and books galore. I suffer with a plethora of distractions. After I get the new TV, the distractions will increase. I will be able to hook up the PS3, which opens up the Blu-Ray and gaming horizon even further than just the X-Box 360 does.

I still have things I need to do, the desk is a mess and there is a lot of filing that needs to be done. I have done a preliminary budget adjustement, but until I get a “normal” paycheck I dont know what I have to budget with. I now have to deal with a state income tax, and I am not quite sure if the new pay grade changes my withholding level. I still need to add more to the book, and get it online. I get a lot of hits when I publish a chapter, but I havent done so in a while. I promise that I am not going to forget about it. I just need to take the time. A good coffee shop with Wi-Fi would help, no distractions there.

Tonight, I think I am going to go to California Tortilla for dinner. Two reasons: I haven’t made it through the whole menu yet, and two, a cute girl who works there made sure I knew what night she would be working and telling me how great it would be if I came in that night. I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Then I will go home and try to finish getting the Warlock to 70.

Yeah, I know. I’m a dork.

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