What The Hell Is A Brazing Machine?

So I think I want to write. But that’s a bit vague, so there is still work to do. I took an online career fit test today. 500 questions. I laid my soul bare with every click. Poking and prodding into my every tendancy and inclination, my every emotion and mood. Good, right? Maybe they’re really getting at something.

So in general the results are that I need work that is creative. Good enough. Then you click to find your top 3 appropriate jobs: 1. Medical Laboratory Technician. 2. Welding, Soldering or Brazing Machine Operator. 3. Conservation or environmental scientist.

What the hell? An admixture of absurdity and specificity. Another useless exercise. Yes, as a child while my friends dreamt of fighting fires and flying to the moon, I could only sit back on my elbows, chew a piece of grass and yearn for my place before a humming brazing machine. Even then I knew it may never come to pass. For when we shoot for the stars, do not we mortals often fall just short? Would the heat of the noble brazing machine melt my waxen wings?


Well, that’s why one’s got to figure things out on one’s own. The Bay Area is beginning to seem too…I don’t know. It’s so expensive. All that yearning for personal perfection, political correctness and rich people with ‘Free Tibet’ bumper stickers. It’s not that I disagree intellectually. I mean I don’t want to have to pay for Tibet either. Northern California is just so precious and too expensive to be truly bohemian. It’s nice though.

Hatbox Louie has thrown Chicago into the mix. I was living in Chicago when we met, and it was one of the happiest times of my life. Despite the fact that I was an intern who hated medicine. I just love Chicago. So much stuff going on. Vibrant. Sophisticated, talented, yet down-to-earth people. It, and Toronto, are the best places I’ve lived. It’s not cheap, but compared to The Bay Area, it seems a more reasonable place to build a new career.

I need to do a bit of research to determine if brazing machine operators are in demand there. It’s a great city, but to sacrifice a dream?

Published in: on June 5, 2007 at 10:38 am  Comments (10)  

Experiments in Writing (#1)

I am reading a book about writing, and the author wants me to sit in front of my computer for hours even if I have no ideas. I get the gist, but it is so not me. But she’s very cool so I want to give it a try. I figure I’ll try half an hour and see what happens. I thought I might document the experience.

10:41 PM– Here we go. I am resisting turning on music. I am thinking about writing. And documenting that thought. Hatbox Louie successfully queried a magazine for a freelance piece. It’s really good. She is a great writer. Hmm. Writing. I’d love a grapefruit.

10:45 PM– So far so good. No panic. Precious little existential angst. I live in a mostly refinished 80’s era house in an Ohio suburb with a For Sale sign on the lawn. Surprising. I think I am better at being given a topic and writing about it. How do you decide what to write about from the infinite possibilities. I guess you give yourself a topic.

10:50 PM– Let’s see. The world is in a shambles. In my darkest moments, I am flooded with very apocalyptic visions. It is as if the producers of made-for-TV movies are writing the world’s script: Islamic hordes running rampant, floods and tsunamis, near-fascists eroding our already shaky democracy, catastrophic climate change. I’m not saying the end is near, but one must admit it’s feeling a bit apocalyptish.

10:56 PM– Has anyone noticed that mostly when people mention Him, they talk about Jesus Christ, but then when people want to get real hardcore the say Christ Jesus? Like how can we put a bit more intensity into it? Switch it around. It works though. It does seem more fiery. Christ Jesus.

11:01 PM– The internet is full of litter. Whenever you search something in Google, there are all these crappy pages with sparse info all filled with ads. It’s garbage. It’s interesting how even in a virtual world, humans tend to create litter and garbage.

11:06 PM– Why is it that no one I know my age can afford his or her childhood home? Isn’t that contrary to the American dream? I guess it’s that I’m from Washington, DC, and most of the people I know are from similarly overpriced cities, but really. It’s a bit strange. Something is awry. I know not what.

11:11 PM– Whew. That wasn’t too bad. But I haven’t exactly set the literary world aflame. I took the Andy Rooney approach. Is that guy an ass? He’s got the country’s ear on a serious news show and he’s rooting around in his desk drawer: “I’ve been going through my desk drawer here and it’s really quite remarkable. I’ve counted nearly seven hundred paper clips. And look here. This pencil has been sharpened so many times it’s unusable.” Dude, it’s time to pack it in. He’s like the original boring teenage blogger—what I had for lunch, who’s like sooo weird. I don’t know.

Experimental results. Actually I think it was quite helpful. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try an hour. Don’t worry, this was a once off experiment. I’m not Andy Rooney. Christ Jesus!

Ohioan Separatist Extremists Hijack Suburban Fixer-Upper! Please Help!

We received an email with this grainy image, and thought it was a joke.


Time revealed that we had indeed been the target of an extremist cell, and our fixer-upper had been hijacked. These Buckeye freaks want to secede from The Union and set up a new nation state right here between Indiana and Pennsylvania. They want to call it Ohighough. They are angry and dangerous, and they hold the misperception that we hold some sway with the federal government. We received a second email shortly after the first, with this disturbing image and a list of demands.


Do-it-yourself fools! You will use your considerable influence with the Ohio legislature, Condawhatever Rice, Stone Phillips, and Jared the Subway-used-to-be-fat-and-is-now-just-slack-skinned-and-un-charismatic dude to enact this list of demands. You have 2 days or we will sand this money sink into powder!

1. We can’t take the green! We need to pave over the last 20% of Ohio with strip after strip of glorious parking and shopping. We are tired of these Mom-and-Pop stores hanging on in the downtowns amid the closed up shops. Wal-Mart. More Wal-mart. Kills the annoying family businesses, 40 acres of parking helping to eradicate the blinding Devil’s green of unpaved earth, and just for good measure, you stand a good chance of being sexually assaulted in the parking lot. We are unsympathetic–you dressed provacatively.

2. Enough with the family farms. Call ConAgra and run the remaining few out. We hate that folksy, get-up-at-5, hayseed crap.

3. Our recon team has reported a disturbing increase in hybrid cars here. I believe 6 was the number. We demand a Hummer in every garage. We will succeed.

4. Unacceptable! Only 142 Ohioans have become casualties in Iraq. Unacceptable. We will not rest until every young person in this state has been fed into that meatgrinder of cleansing violence.

And so you see, we need your help. Anyone who can help meet these demands in any way should act. If only to hold together our Nation Under God. We need you. For the love of money, help us!

How 10 Years Of Medical Training Has Finally Become Useful

1. The art of diagnosis.


Diagnosis: Terminal datedness with chronic shodiness.

2. A rational treatment plan.


Treatment Plan: Gutting with extreme prejudice. AKA Complete crap resection.

3. Prognosis: Modest profit with or without retained sanity.

4. Management of psychosocial issues: e.g. Though I at times want to hunt down the previous owners and beat them to death with the gouged baseboard molding which they chose to fill with staples. Yes staples. Or at least peer deeply into their eyes in order to fathom what kind of human spirit could make the design choices they made. In the end I am forced to acknowledge that they are children of God, beautiful and flawed as we all must be. And there is no accounting for taste.

5. Follow-up: Stay tuned.

Published in: on March 9, 2007 at 6:56 pm  Comments (4)  

Oh The Dirty Secrets Carpet Pad Has To Tell

We are finally into Collingwolde, and ripping it to shreds. Carpet and very nasty carpet pad adhered to the subfloor by some evil spills and pet indiscretions. The heat is not on yet so it is freezing. The water is not on yet, so the bathroom is a former carton of Trader Joe’s French roast.

Does it really take 80,000 staples to hold down a piece of carpet? I mean my god, it’s not like the carpet is trying to escape. Very tedious. Is it clever to nail in the kitchen cabinets? What were they thinking? Didn’t they know we were going to come in and rip that crap out?

Overall it is going well, and it is nice to have something to do. So on we march.

Published in: on March 4, 2007 at 7:02 pm  Comments (3)  

On The Road Again

Hatbox Louie and I are at it again. We have hit the road as we wait for the closing on Collingwolde. We are in Toronto where I spent much time in the past. I spent a semester at the University of Toronto, then a year before med school.

We are trying to figure out where to settle, and we just had to check out Canada. They actually collect taxes up here. Ok. Now here’s the wacky part. They use those collected funds to–get this–take care of their citizens. It is madness. Why don’t they just do what we do south of the border: collect our money, then funnel it to rich corporate interests via illegal and immoral foreign military adventures?

So anyway we are checking it out. Toronto is a fantastic city and we have had a great albeit very cold time. Today we are headed east towards Montreal. I think we will stop midway in Kingston, Ontario to break up the trip. Then we will dip back into New England and check out some possibilities there.

If you can’t figure your life out, just keep moving. What a plan!

Happy President’s Day. It’s Soo….Oh who cares?


Published in: on February 19, 2007 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Don’t Let The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good

I really would love to post every day. The problem is that I always want to have something funny or clever or astute to say. So I delay until the pressure is so great that I’m forced to come up with something.

It’s sort of a microcosm of my life. I seem to be waiting around until something comes to me to do. Something meaningful, satisfying, creative. I have launched in so many directions and then had to dig out, that I refuse to budge unless it seems to be the right and perfect thing. So I’m left in limbo. Not good. Perhaps this act of sitting down to write without really having anything to say will spark a new direction.

Maybe I need an extreme makeunder. Lower the bar. Cultivate the unexceptional. Champion the OK. Air Supply not Aerosmith. Cheap Trick not Chick Corea. Gerald Ford not Jimmy Carter. PB&J. Applebee’s. Jug wine. Keanu Reeves…Whoa Nelly! That’s too far. How about Leo DiCaprio? That’s more like it.

Well, I’ll give it a shot. It’s only life after all.

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 2:49 pm  Comments (5)  

In The Manner of a Great English Manor

I posted earlier about our purchase of a foreclosed home at the sheriff’s auction. Well we have finally been given access and had a look around. Even a cursory examination reveals that we are not dealing with a simple suburban tract home. No, this is a structure more akin to a great house in the English countryside. And as every venerable and noble estate deserves a proper name, I would like to present to the world….



I don’t plan to be seeing much of this room once the staff is hired, but it will clearly suffice for the preparation of the sumptuous feasts befitting the dignitaries and cultural icons we will inevitably be hosting:


Quarters in The East Wing:


And of course, what estate would be complete without a Grand Ballroom:


Oh, fair Collingwolde. The name itself brings the aroma of roast lamb and brandy to the nose, a lightness to the heart, a tingle to the nether regions. Collingwolde. A gracious home in the manner of a fine manor. Stoke the hearth fire, pour the sherry, diddle the maidservants…Collingwolde is born.

Published in: on February 12, 2007 at 1:15 pm  Comments (5)  

Top 10 Things You Don’t Want To Hear On A First Date

10– “I hope you don’t mind, my mother will be joining us tonight.”

9– “I don’t want to brag, but as of 2 PM today, I have no restraining orders against me.”

8– “Two words: pre-nup.”

7– “Just a warning, loving me means loving Michael Bolton, period.”

6– “Before we go any further, I just need to know if you’ve ever slept with a Darkie.”

5– “If I weren’t so heavily medicated, that ice crunching you’re doing would be bugging the crap out of me.”

4– “Is it OK if my wife watches?”

3– “Would you be opposed to providing me a stool sample?”

2– “Before I can commit, I’ll have to get input from my cats.”

Drum Roll Please…….

1– “Do you mind if I drain my foot?”

Published in: on February 8, 2007 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment