June 21st, 2004

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Four Weedings and a Fun-a-Rama

When I was in college, I worked one Summer at an industrial park which was to some extent hidden in military bunkers buried underground. I never saw the alien spacecraft, nor observed any weapons of mass destruction. But I did get set off, with a friend and mowing tools,to spend the day in the vacant wooded empty beauty, with instructions to graze the top of the hillsides by machine, in a shearing way.

When I was in high school, my brother and I agreed to mow a woman's yard for five dollars and fifty cents. She would come out and point out for us obscure places she felt we had missed. We'd spend hours on end, trying to please this woman. I cannot through the fogs of time remember if she was over-picky or we were over-careless, but I marvel that it took us months to say "no, thanks" to her generous offer to in effect continue to work for a quarter or two an hour.

Our "regular" customer, my high school biology teacher, was a different kettle of fish altogether. She gave only the most helpful instructions, and always praised us and made us feel useful. We rode an International Harvester "Lo Boy" riding tractor to mow her yard, a kind of cross between a tiny farm tractor and a little mowing tractor. Whichever of us was on the tractor used to sing. I love the sound of my own voice, when the noise of the tractor is my backing group.

I remember when we mowed my father's medical group's clinic, and, sadly, put a rock through the window of one of his colleages. The rock must have flown a long way, but it made the neatest little hole in the bottom part of the window. I seem to recall the senior physician assembled a bid from a professional mowing service after that.

Somehow, the thought of riding mowers also inspires in me a longing to be at Six Flags over Texas, a place I almost never go nowadays, though it is almost local. I'd ride those little vintage cars, faux model As and Ts which run on gas but are kept on the track by an intervening rail which limits the ability of the wheels to wander.
I love the fun-o-rama of the sound of those little engines put-putting along, reaching breathtaking speeds in excess of ten miles an hour. I've never been much for thrill rides, though I am certainly thrill-susceptible (and have always rather thought that you probably could buy a thrill if you just shopped aggressively enough). But give me model cars bound to earth by a rail, or a "spelunker's cave" featuring boat rides through a "dark passage" of faux gnomes digging for minerals, and I'm having fun.
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Dolores lingers

Today I got into the office early and then worked until 9:30 p.m. It reminded me of an earlier time in my career, when such evenings were common. Now they're the exception rather than the rule. I did get a chance to have a charming lunch of roasted chicken at the Fiesta, the closest thing we come to an El Pollo Loco type Mexican open-flame roasted chicken experience. It was tasty, and reasonably quick.

Tonight on the drive home, I listened to the Cranberries' first album. I have a weakness for Dolores O'Riordan's approach to things. I sang along to "Sunday" and then flipped the CD to "Linger" and sang along. I thought to myself that I am not immune to a good old pop song at all.

Otherwise, Jeff Pearce's "Bleed" spends a fair bit of time in the old CD player, sandwiched between a world of progressive and art rock CDs. I do not know if this prog phase is re-living my teens, or leading me beside troubled waters. I do know that I fully expect my retro glam listening phase to come next. I need to find my copy of "Kimono My House", by the way. I still think it's the Maels' best album. If I could give away two CDs to represent almost everything there is to know about me, they would be Sparks' "Kimono My House" and Be Bop Deluxe's "Live! In the Air Age!". I put a Viridian Sun album in my car, so as not to become lost in a 1970s haze.

One of my best friends during college, Joanie, and I used to take long rides debating the life's inner meaning in my Oldsmobile Omega, to the backdrop of "Young Americans" and "Station to Station" We'd talk for hours, out on things that weren't dates. When either of us phones, we still talk for hours at a time. Don't let anyone tell you that the music fades with time--I still hear every note that burst from my cheap car cassette player. I like having a friend, by the way, with whom I can have the same debates twenty two years later. I should send an e mail her way.

Jimmy and Rosalind Carter were on television tonight, as always impressing with the achievements they attained once they left the White House. Meanwhile, I understand that all those talking heads over at Fox News are apoplectic about Mr. Clinton's new book. I suppose it must be a painful memory, to recall when budgets balanced and small steps were taken to improve things. For all its various failures, the Clinton presidency will stand the test of time much better than the current administration.

We had two items of good news on the home front--a new contract for my wife, and a
good medical report for an in-law. Now if I can just buckle down and keep the immense work progress going through the rest of the month, then I'll start feeling my oats. Tomorrow is this week's crunch day--or was that what today proved to be?