Monday, January 15, 2018

The Square Peg – Shut Up and Leave Me Alone!

The Square Peg – Shut Up and Leave Me Alone!
© S. Bradley Stoner

 Not according to the voices in my head. Remember therapist need money to diagnose you with things.. Voices in your head... norm; l ” Listening to " y. We don't argue, we just laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

“What are you doing?!”

“I’m thinking,” I replied to one of my inner voices.

“No, you’re not… you’re playing Mahjong.”

“It helps me think.”

“Baloney,” said another inner voice, “you’re procrastinating.”

“No, I’m THINKING. This helps me think.”

“There’s no need to shout, for Pete’s sake. It’s not like we can’t hear you,” rejoined a third. “Look, you need to get back to work on the space infrastructure book… you haven’t done anything on that in a week.”

“No,” interjected the first, “you need to wrap up the novel. You’ve been working on that for years. It’s about time you finished it.”

“Better finish editing that romance,” said the second. “At least that will earn you a little money.”

“If he finished the novel, that could earn him a pile of money,” protested the first.

“Oh posh!” cried the third. “Your co-author just told you The Case for Pandora is starting to sell… finish the next one! You know they will make money!”

“Peanuts,” the second said sourly. “Besides, no guarantees on either of the other two. The romance editing job is a lock.”

“Geez, guys, give it a rest, will you? I’ve been pounding the keyboard for years. I need a little time to myself.”

“Spoken like a true procrastinator,” said the second.

“Yeah,” added the third, “why do you want to take time off… it’s not like you’re getting any younger.”

“Exactly,” the first intoned solemnly, “you could shuffle off this mortal coil tomorrow… leaving everything unfinished.”

“Shakespeare?? You’re going to quote Shakespeare to me? Seriously?”

“Hey, you can’t argue with the Bard, pard… the man will live forever… and you could too, if you’d just get busy.”

“Bard, schmard,” snorted the third. “That’s the past… the future is in space travel. I mean, you just have to look at where Musk, Branson, and Bigelow are going. Finish the infrastructure book and help them get there.”

“Somehow, I don’t think they need my help. They seem to have a pretty good handle on things.”

“Now you’re just being self-deprecating… knock that crap off! You and your partner have some bold ideas… it’s time to boldly go…”

“Don’t you dare quote Star Trek to me!”

“Just sayin’, bro.”

“Crimeny!” shouted the first, “you know as well as I do, that science crap doesn’t sell worth a damn! Adventure, excitement… that’s what the public wants. Finish the damn novel!”

“Oh, come on!” blurted the second. “Just look at the statistics… romance outsells both of those lame genres...”

This was going to drive me around the bend. I mouse-clicked on the little speaker symbol on Mahjong and let the monotonous music flow, trying to drown out the voices in my head.

“What the hell are you doing?!” all three chorused.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Square Peg – Not Everything Ages Well

The Square Peg – Not Everything Ages Well
© S. Bradley Stoner

Image result for irish coffee

Okay, so we all know some things get better with age… you know, like fine wine. Of course, some care must be taken, like watching the temperature, storing and turning the bottles properly, things like that. Other things, not so much.

Take people, for instance. I’m of the opinion that none of us age well. Matter of fact, most of us aren’t really thrilled with age once we get past, say, thirty. Thirty’s a good age. You’ve lived long enough to gain experience and, hopefully, know how to make good decisions by then. Your body is usually in pretty good shape. You have laugh lines, but no wrinkles. Your hair hasn’t turned gray, unless you decided to dye it (apparently that’s the latest fashion for young women… I don’t think it will last long). Finally, you’ve likely found the formula to making a decent living and if you’re not there yet, you soon will be.

On top of all that, you are still young enough to look for adventure, but smart enough to not do anything really stupid. It’s a great time to travel… after all you won’t get short of breath, wobbly legged, or dizzy when you climb to the top of some pyramid or mountain. Don’t wait until you “…can afford it,” like your parents cautioned. Just look around at those who did and you’ll understand why.

Oh, and don’t count on all those diet and skin care regimens touted by Hollywood models. First off, they have the money for personal trainers. Second, they have great genetics. That goes a long way to keeping you looking younger than you really are, not to mention they can afford botox and plastic surgery. More than likely, you don’t. Trust me… eventually things are going to sag no matter what you do. As my mother used to say, “it’s the shifting sands of time.” It’s mother nature’s way of telling you things are winding down.

Back to my premise. As I said, not everything ages well. Take my New Year’s celebration for example. I planned it carefully. I was going to watch some football, have a nice dinner with my wife, and then watch the countdown on TV. I’d have gone to the celebration downtown, but, damn, it was cold out. Doesn’t matter that it was also San Antonio’s three hundredth birthday… yep, tricentennial! The crowd was enough to keep me away even without the weather. I digress.

Just prior to midnight, we opened the cupboard and took out a bottle of O’Mara’s Irish Crème. Now, those of you who follow this blog, know that I don’t drink much, but, hey, this was a special occasion. I was looking forward to an Irish coffee… hadn’t had one in years, and sometimes they just taste good.

Salivating with anticipation, I broke the seal and opened the bottle. In my mind’s eye, I could see the creamy liquid flowing out of the bottle and into my coffee. Carefully, I tipped the bottle… and nothing happened. What? I looked down the neck. The Irish Crème wasn’t creamy at all. It had petrified. Yep… it was a solid chunk inside that bottle. Apparently, you can’t store a bottle of O’Mara’s for five years.
Like I said, somethings just don’t age well.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Square Peg - Holy Crap Batman, It’s the Texas Ice Follies!

The Square Peg - Holy Crap Batman, It’s the Texas Ice Follies!
© S. Bradley Stoner

As I am sure most of you have heard, South Texas had an apocalyptic winter storm (a snocalypse?) Thursday night. Oh, okay, maybe apocalyptic is too strong a word, but we are living in a world of gross exaggeration now, aren’t we? Just try to watch the news and tell me we’re not! Like a Tweet is going to alter the course of human events. C’mon man!

No, I’m not going to go off on some freakishly political tangent. I’ll stick to snow, especially since it stuck to the ground here in San Antonio. It was a bit of a surprise. The day started out with rain and drizzle… all day long. The day before we got an inch of rain. I’m not complaining, we needed it. Along about six in the evening, the temperature took a nose-dive. Okay, it dropped by about nine degrees. At six thirty the white stuff started floating down from the clouds. It dropped almost two inches on San Antone and up to four in the Hill Country to the north and west. Heck, Corpus Christie got four inches. The predictions had it limited to the western Hill Country, but I’ve long since learned that our forecasters would make better hind-casters.

It was great to start with… kids of all ages were able to make real snowmen. Of course, Texas has to be different. There were snow cowboys, replete with boots and hats and a couple of sombreroed vaqueros, along with the standard carrot-nosed Frosty-types out there. It looked downright Christmassy… and it sort of got everyone into the holiday spirit, which is sometimes a bit hard in south Texas. Bingo Bob was beside himself. By the time he finished his snowman, there wasn’t a trace of snow left on his lawn. Duncan used up all his snow lobbing snowballs at Bob, which elicited some interesting New Jersey-isms from old Bob.

Then it got cold enough to freeze… and freeze it did. That drove all us hardy Texans inside to warm up. I expect the stores to do a brisk business in winter coats that will get worn about once every seven to ten years down here. The last snow we got was some was a half inch in February 2011, and that was gone by noon. The biggest snow that fell on the city in recent history was 13.5 inches in 1985. I wasn’t here then, I was in Montana where we got up to five feet in a single storm, so I wouldn’t have been impressed in any case.

This cold snap, however, made me dig out my long pants. That was annoying. I enjoy the freedom of shorts in the winter. Come to think of it, I enjoy them year-round. The only good thing I can say about cold weather in Texas is that a warm bed is mighty inviting… it invites you to sleep in a little longer, and I did. I didn’t get up until 7:30 and I’m usually up around 4:40. I watched the morning news for a while. It’s entertainment on days like this.

Yep… when the roads get icy, Texans get stupid. We get to watch the Texas Ice Follies, and it doesn’t cost a dime. Texans are so used to clear dry roads, they forget all about safe following distances, frictionless braking, and loss of steering. It’s bumper cars for grownups! It’s a gas to watch unless someone gets hurt.

Today it wasn’t so bad. Only the elevated highway sections got icy. You’d think people would accommodate such a condition, especially when they are warned about the road conditions. They don’t. We had a number of minor accidents from four-wheeled ice skating, but then some idjits decided to try it on the downhill side of an icy ramp. Know what you get then? You get an 18-car ramp clog, that’s what you get. As near as I could tell from the aerial view, the lead car lost control, bounced off the cement side rails, spun sideways, and came to rest against the rail perpendicular to traffic. From then on it was wham, bam, slam and jam. Eighteen cars all squished together, and right in the middle, facing backwards, a little compact unit that was decidedly more compact than when it came off the assembly line.

The highway department closed the ramp… just a tad late. With all the beaches nearby, you’d think they could put down a little sand before morning rush hour, not that it would help a lot. Texans would find a way to slide on that. It’s easy when you’re doing 75 in a 40-mph zone… especially if you have to hit your brakes.

I tore my attention from the boob tube and looked outside. The snow was starting to melt, but the temperature was still hovering around 32. I don’t have to take this crap, I thought to myself, I’m retired. Besides that memory foam bed looked awfully good. See y’all when it warms up.