Today, I'm trying a little experiment in viral marketing. I'm going to a "Festival of Books" today (many books are festive, so it stands to reason they would eventually have their own festival!) and I expect to see a lot of writers and editors and others in the industry.
Now, as much as I like to think of myself as "A Writer," it turns out that you have to actually write occasionally to be looked at that way by others! As you can imagine, this came as quite a shock to me.
So, in an effort to boost my readership (double-digits, here I come!) and therefore, possibly encourage myself to be more productive, I've decided to try some self-promotion.
Now, I'm not talking about the kind of self-promotion I usually engage in (HEY JERKFACE! As a matter of fact, I DO own the road!). No, this time I'm going to try something subtle.
I've made up exactly twenty business-card teasers. They have the name of the blog (the tao of dethwombat for those of you who have forgotten), the Internet address, and my name. Some of these will be handed to people unfortunate enough to get sucked in to a conversation with me. Others will be strategically placed in locations where they are likely to be seen by passers-by. Still others may get planted on people without their knowledge (depending on police presence!). But the whole point of the exercise is to see if something odd and subtle like that will attract new readers.
If you've come here because you found or saw a little card with a picture of a wombat crossing sign on it, please be kind enough to leave me a comment. I also invite you to peruse the rest of my eclectic little pile of musings (I was especially funny back in February of '07!), and feel free to comment on any of them as well. Finally, you are welcome to make suggestions of other things you'd like to see me write about. As any of my long-time readers (both of them) will attest, I always welcome suggestions! Heck, I even acted on one once!
So if you're new, welcome to my little corner of the Interwebs! And if you're a returning reader, I PROMISE I'll start working on those challenge articles soon!
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country!” (Ancient Chinese proverb)
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind” (Elvis Presley, Jailhouse Rock)
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” (Joe Rogan, Host of FearFactor)
There have been times when, despite our best efforts to remain ignorant or foolish or just generally stupid, history has had the bad manners to intrude on our wallowing; insinuating itself into our self-definition and badly formed identity until we’ve had no choice but to consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we don’t deserve to be eaten by giant space-rabbits with cosmic-grade bad breath.
Today was one of those days.
Today, somewhere around two million people went to Washington D.C. to see our 44th president sworn in. They spent hour after hour in freezing temperatures waiting for HISTORY to play itself out before their very eyes. (Never mind the fact that 1,999,000 of them were too far away to really make anything out; never mind the fact that 1,999,000 of them would only be able to hear a portion of the speeches and have to make up for it later by reading transcripts on the Internet; they were THERE!)
They were there to see a man completely unknown on the national stage five years ago ascend to the most difficult and demanding seat of mortal (and moral!) responsibility in the entirety of human history!
Notice I didn’t say “power” but rather, “responsibility”. I say it that way because, despite the trappings of “power” that surround the office of the Presidency--the White House, the limo, Marine One, Air Force One, the Oval Office itself--it is less an office and more a mantle of expectation and responsibility. It’s a mantle that has been known to crush its wearer (Nixon, Taft, That guy from “24”!) and lift him to immortality (Lincoln, Kennedy, Harrison Ford!). It is a mantle that, once worn, can never be removed while the President is still in office. And it will take the measure of its owner.
President Barack Obama is now the 44th wearer of that mantle. He will be called upon every day to be worthy of its grandeur and tend to its needs, and the weight of that mantle upon his shoulders will be ever-dependent on how he wears it.
If the mantle is flaunted; waved in the faces of friends and foes alike, it becomes heavier and heavier. It becomes a burden so great; it cannot be waved and fluttered any more! This is by design.
But if the mantle is allowed to rest lightly; indeed if it is made secondary to the tasks for which it stands, it becomes ever more beautiful. Ever more effervescent. Ever more a symbol of the selfless nature our Founding Fathers intended it to represent!
Today, history was made. A man who, twenty years ago (or perhaps as little as twenty days ago) would have had trouble hailing a cab in almost any major American City, became our President. But he is not the one who made history. We are.
"You didn't bother to find out, did you? What I object to is; you automatically treat me like an inferior!"
"Well I am King..."
"Oh, 'King' eh? Very nice! And 'ow'd you get that then? By exploiting the workers! By 'angin' on to outdated, imperialist dogma, which perpetuates the social and economic differences in our society! If there's ever going to be any progress..."
There's some lovely filth down here!
I'm 37. And although the great and wise Michael Palin insists that that is not old, I must admit to the occasional feeling of aged-ness. I believe Indiana Jones said it best when he said, "It's not the years, it's the mileage!" Then he got ka-schwacked by that big mirror...
Did you say something?
Still, mileage or not, old or not, the fact remains that I am now 37!
Now, 37 is not a normal milestone. For example: 15 years is the crystal anniversary, 25 years is the silver anniversary, 50 years is the golden anniversary, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera... but 37 is nothing. At least until now.
For our purposes today, I am naming the 37th anniversary after something very near to my heart. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. So from now on, the 37th anniversary of anything; a birth, marriage, discovery of a new planet that was just hiding behind Jupiter all this time, whatever, shall be called the Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Anniversary! Talk about some lovely filth!
So how are we to celebrate the Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Anniversary of my birth? Well, I suppose I could go into some sort of explanation as to why Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil is so close to my heart, but I take Ezetimibe/Simvastatin every day to deal with that, so let's skip it for now.
No, I think, in honor of my 37th birthday, I'll give you...
The Sage Words Archive of Ten Interesting Things I (Mostly) Remember With Some Degree of Clarity
(or: Gee, much of my life seemed to make some sort of sense at the time...)
Dude, Mom Knew The Whole Time -- When I was in High School, I (allegedly) experimented with certain beverages which may or may not have been provided by friends who, for obvious reasons, shall be referred to only as "Bartyls" and "James". These experiments (purely scientific, I assure you) were intended only to establish a baseline for comparison with complete sobriety. There is still a small part of me that believes that my Mom was unaware of these scientific experiments, but that part of me has been drinking and is, therefore, unreliable.
Dude, I've Got An Idea! (Part I) -- I was once involved in an Independence Day celebration that resulted in a blown up truck, a six foot crater, several minor burns, and a temporary, short term legend in a small town. In retrospect, I think we should have asked around to see if anyone had a video camera first. Good times.
Dude, I Can NOT Drink Another Cup! -- In preparation for a medical procedure, I once spent a week on a diet of clear liquids only. Bullion, coffee, apple juice...after three days of only these for sustenance, remember this: If you suspect you may be flatulent, odds are very good that you are wrong!
Dude, where's my car? -- One 7th (perhaps the "Pez" Anniversary?) grade morning, my Mom asked me to go start the car to get it warmed up before she drove my little brother and me to school. Sadly, the parking brake was non-functional and Dad had left the car in gear so it wouldn't roll away. As it turns out, if you turn the key in a vehicle left thusly, and put the gas pedal to the floor like you've seen Mom and Dad do so many times before, but don't push any other pedals anywhere, the car will begin to move, forcing you to steer it into the neighbor's yard. A car with a standard transmission, it appears, has a clutch for a reason!
Dude, Dad Is Going To Be SO Pissed! -- My father is the most generous, hard working man I know. In High School, he gave me his 1978 Dodge Colt (with a blown head gasket!) so I could have a project car for Auto-Shop. My first project on the car, just so I could get the hang of working on them, was to remove and rebuild the carburetor. Among car enthusiasts, this is commonly known as the third simplest thing you can do with an engine (the first two are: Look At It, and Leave It Alone). Once I disassembled it I reasoned (quite wrongly, as it turns out) that if soaking the parts in engine cleaner for one hour was good, doing it overnight would be that much better! Now you know why I'm into computers, and why that car never moved under its own power again.
Dude, We Should Totally Join The Army! -- My friend Skippy and I decided to join the Army on the "Buddy System" not long after High School. This would have allowed us to go to Boot-Camp together, go to Technical School together, and even go to our first duty station together! (We tried to get our friend D.S. to join too, but he wouldn't cut his James Hetfield hair and mustache!) Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to back out, but Skippy went through with it! He marched off to Boot-Camp and was promptly marched right back out again when they diagnosed him with flat feet! So now Skippy has a good job, a wonderful family and is quite happy with his flat feet! D.S. also has a good job and wonderful family and by now has cut his hair (as has Hetfield!) while I went back to the recruiters and ended up in the Air Force (sixteen years and counting!) with a beautiful wife (fourteen years and counting!) but somehow, through it all, we're still "Buddies"! I love those guys!
Dude, I Am STYLIN'!!! -- My first date with Chica. I was nervous, weak-kneed and surprised she had said "yes" in the first place! I borrowed my friend Brad's car and made reservations at a nice (as far as I knew) Italian restaurant. The fact that this place did not strictly require reservations did nothing to dampen my desire to look my best, so I put on my most stylish outfit: White slacks. Black shoes. Burgundy button-down shirt with a white faux-collar. Gold(-ish) chain..."Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man!" And yet, still she married me! What a peach!
Dude, I've Got An Idea! (Part II) -- In Cheyenne, Wyoming, somewhere near East Ninth Street, is a park. This park has (or possibly had, it's been awhile) a relatively long stretch of downward sloping sidewalk. During one of my many misspent childhood days when I was in the neighborhood of 13 ("Oxyclean" Anniversary, anyone?) years old, I and one or more of my misspent friends (or possibly brothers, I'm not certain) discovered some construction materials just laying around (as far as you know!). In short order, we had acquired two concrete-filled cinder-blocks and a curiously white board about six feet long and two feet wide, from which we fashioned a ramp at the end of this excellent sidewalk (runway!). After a short, but savage battle of wills, I was selected to be the first to try out our new ramp and took off on my bike. As I approached the ramp (and ludicrous speed!) at the end of the long run, I learned three interesting facts: (a) That curious looking white wood is called DRYWALL and has the same approximate tensile strength as flan. (b) A pair of cinder-blocks filled with concrete have little to no desire to move the slightest bit at the behest of a scrawny 13-year-old boy on a speeding bike. And (c) At the age of thirteen, I could (briefly) fly every bit as well as Superman. I just couldn't land very well.
Dude, Is That An Electric Fence? -- Growing up, we had the greatest dog in the whole world with the smallest brain. His name was Adonis and he was part mongrel, part mutt, part unidentifiable terrier-like breed, and all AWESOME! But again, not brilliant. Now don't get me wrong; he could fetch (not on command, but I did see him carry sticks around sometimes), he could roll over (as long as a flatulent skunk had recently vomited on his chosen spot), and he could shake (actually, it was more like nervously twitching his paw at you, and only if you had a bag of M&M's!); but he was really just too cool for any of those stupid tricks anyway! Now, one other thing he had was the tail of a terrier. You know the ones, they go up and arch over the back, ultimately pointing forward like a little crescent moon growing out of his butt. Well, this particular tail had recently had its tip caught in a screen door, pulling all the hair out and scraping up the skin something fierce. Naturally, it was fairly raw and annoying for the poor little guy if he touched it against anything. So imagine his distress on the day when, as he and I were out walking near the electric fence that kept in the neighbor's cows, that raw and sensitive tail-tip accidentally came in contact with the fence just as an electric pulse was shooting through it! Adonis was so startled and angry he did an immediate about-face and bit out at whatever it was that had stung him! Uh...yeah. Just as another electric pulse went through the fence...while he was biting it...which scared and hurt him and caused him to rear back away from it...without...uh...opening his mouth. Needless to say, this did not end well for Adonis. Oh, he didn't die! He lived several more years (and when he finally passed, in a quiet and utterly non-traumatic way, I believe he was happy!). But he did have a gnarled little ball of scar-tissue on the tip of his tail and two less teeth in the front of his mouth! Our whole family loved him with all our hearts and we each still miss him from time to time.
Dude, I've Got An Idea! (Part III) -- For awhile, we had a burn-barrel next to the house. It was an old, rusted 55 gallon barrel and we used it to burn old branches and leaves. Or rather, we were supposed to! Okay, so I may have dumped a couple of bags of trash in there, and I may have decided (with Skippy's help!) to set it all on fire one drizzly day in Washington State, and I may have gotten impatient with trying to light the paper and I may have poured a couple of splashes of gas from the mower's can in there to help it along but I totally did not mean for it to explode just as I was looking in to see if the match I had just tossed had gone out and I certainly did not intend for my hat to be blown onto the roof, or for my eyebrows to be burned off, or for the long piece of burning toilet paper to go flying into the air, but you have to admit that it was COOL when the fire consuming the toilet paper began burning at the exact same rate as the TP was falling so it looked like it was just descending into a perfectly level line of fire floating stationary in the air about seventeen feet off the ground! Well. Maybe you don't have to admit that. Mom didn't.
I have memories more valuable to me than any treasure.
I've dressed like a sailor and danced with another guy dressed as a sailor to raise money for charity. I've held a grieving friend in my arms as she tried to let go of her marriage to an abusive husband. I've stood proudly on the altar to promise a lifetime of spiritual guidance to my Godson.
All of these things I cherish, even the embarrassing ones, and when I sit and think about these memories and more, I'm energized! I can't wait to see what's next and to start experiencing the things that I'll reminisce about when I'm 47! or 57!