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Lots of people get married every year. Some of them even seem to be happy about it. Some people like weddings so much that they have a number of them during their lives with numerous other people. 
I’m not overly fond of weddings, even though I’ve been to a number in my life, even as part of the wedding party a few times. But I’m not the marrying type and I’ll never have a wedding of my own, for various reasons, and I actually find the whole process to be silly. There’re traditions and rituals and superstitions and vows to be said and things to be done in very specific ways and fancy clothes to put on. And usually a mishap or two along the way.
Children tend to be reliable only in being not. At one wedding I attended, the bride (or more probably, the mother of the bride) may have pictured the cherubim-like flower girl toddling down the aisle tossing rose petals through the air with cherubulimic glee. But when the time came, the poor little girl slowly trundled dazed and zombie-like towards the front of the church, carefully picking one petal at a time from her basket and dropping it to the floor, while numerous relatives that she probably didn’t even recognize hissed encouragement at her from the pews. 
The ring bearer simply raced as fast as he could to the front where his grandmother was sitting. He quickly became bored and took off his shoes and, with remarkable aim, threw them at the bride during the vows. Granted, I empathized with his sentiments, but as the best man, it would have been considered poor form if I were to throw my own shoes at her. I settled for politely picking up his shoes and returning them to him, so that he could throw them again.
It’s not just children who are unreliable – human nature dictates that whatever is planned will simply not happen once free will is introduced. One couple decided to save money by putting disposable cameras on all the tables for the guests to take pictures with, planning on gathering them all up at the end of the ceremonies and celebrations to develop and place into a sizable album. Why they didn’t anticipate that the guests would take the cameras with them when they left, I’ll never know. 
This was also the same wedding where the officiating clergyman asked everyone to rise when the wedding party began to arrive … and then forgot to tell the audience to sit back down. It was an outdoor wedding, in the summer, and it was humid with no shade. And it was long. Very, very long. Most likely, the cameras were taken in spite. 
Once upon a time, once the bride and groom were married and walking past the well-wishing guests, rice was thrown at them for luck. This tradition lost popularity for various reasons; rice was hard to clean up (true); it was hazardous to walk on when it was on a hard smooth surface (true); and it was deadly to birds (not true – sorry, Ann Landers.) For awhile, when the entire death-to-birds myth was being bought into, birdseed was thrown instead. 
Frequently these days, however, small vials of bubble juice are handed out, and guests blow bubbles at the happy-ish couple on their way past – or more usually, spittle-like streams of bubble juice is launched at them by the more enthusiastic blowhards. I can’t say with any certainty why bubbles caught on, but there was that one time at one wedding where a certain guest who was definitely not me got frustrated trying to untie his bag of birdseed and gave it an angry toss into the air, dispelling the good luck myth for all to see as it smacked into the newlywed bride’s eye.
Wedding receptions are often not so much a celebration of the nuptials as a celebration that they were survived. Food is eaten, clothes are dripped on (at one wedding, the clever bride invented a “Bridal Bib” to wear over her dress to keep it clean), cake is served, and eventually, the DJ breaks out the same CD that every wedding DJ owns: “Bad Music that Middle-Aged People Can Dance To.” If I’m lucky, the reception will have a bar, because there’re only so many times I can watch the groom’s grandmother do the Electric Slide before I need another drink. 
As it is, I don’t dance myself; there are some things mankind is not meant to see. And after years of making excuses and pleas and hiding in the bar to avoid being dragged out to the dance floor, I discovered the perfect way to avoid all wedding unpleasantness: a video camera. 
Holding a video camera to your face, whether you’re actually recording or not, is an instant Get-Out-Of-All-Wedding-Activities card. No more being accosted for the dollar dance. No more forced attempts to catch the bouquet or garter. No more Limbo contests.
And most importantly, no more Chicken Dance. That, right there, recoups the cost of a video camera immediately. 
At the end of the night, if you don’t want to be bothered with numerous requests for copies of your tape that you know no one is ever going to watch again anyway, just sadly let them know your camera didn’t work. 
Additionally, you’ve also been able to gather evidence for nearly any future blackmail attempts you may need to make against your friends, for it's a lot easier to ask for a monetary loan if you remind the person that you have film footage of them drunkenly doing the Macarena shirtless.
Hey, it worked with my aunt.
(I feel I must point out that a video camera won’t help you if you’re actually one of the two people getting married. If you’ve reached that point and want to get out, you’re on your own. I can’t help you.)
(Try the bar.)
I’ve been to many, many weddings- good, bad and bizarre. But the best advice I ever learned about attending a wedding came at my own brother’s nuptials, when late into the night, as the reception was nearing its close and two inebriated factions of my new sister-in-law’s family began to argue and were about to come to blows, she hiked up her gown and marched right up between the two biggest, red faced would-be-brawlers. She pushed one to the ground and shoved her fist in the face of the other man, and said in a voice that was not to be reckoned with, “Don’t you dare ruin this wedding!”
Whenever I receive a wedding invitation in the mail, it's her voice and her words I immediately hear.
And since then, I’ve always passed on the birdseed.

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Where white tornadoes go to die


My house is messy.

Well, that depends on who you ask. I am perfectly fine with the state of my house. My grandmother would probably be appalled, however. Her house was always immaculate. 

I don’t clean with any kind of frequency. As long as my feet don’t stick to the floor too badly, I’m fine. So far, no one has really complained, probably because I don’t invite anyone to my house. It’s just easier that way. Plus, I don’t like most people.

I usually start cleaning when I come home and realize I’d be embarrassed to see my home on an episode of COPS. This is something I’ve only developed in my recent adult years; in college, I only cleaned when I moved. Sometimes, I cleaned when I moved in, which just goes to show there are some people out there worse than I am (I once used a putty knife to clean the wall beside the toilet in an apartment I rented. Because it’s true - men have trouble aiming). I usually stop cleaning when I’ve achieved a level of sufficient cleanliness that if anyone does stop by, I can say, “Oh excuse the mess, I didn't have time to clean!”

In my own defense, I’m not a dirty person, really. No more than anyone else, I think. Or maybe I’m just accustomed to my own filth and can’t see it any more. I do have a bad habit of generating clutter and not allocating enough time to eradicate the collected detritus. I tend to stack things, and when the stacks get out of hand, I put the stacks in boxes; and when the boxes get out of hand, I put the boxes in storage. I have boxes in storage that I have not looked at since I moved six years ago. I was too busy cleaning to unpack them. Empty houses are easier to clean. Except for those people moving out, apparently.

These days, I don’t always have enough time to clean. With my schedule, I’m lucky to find time to run the dishwasher when the dishes pile in the sink high enough that I can’t reach the faucet to get water for the coffee maker. This is known as an emergency. In an emergency situation such as this, the tub can be used to fill the coffee machine, and the jelly jars in the back of the cupboard can be used for the coffee.

Like you’ve never done that.

What’s strange is that I love cleaning products. A different kind of spray cleanser or scrub brush makes me actually look forward to cleaning, but the novelty wears off quickly. The solution for my lack of excitement for cleaning is probably to always start with a brand new, different kind of mop. Or to have my grandmother move in. She’d like that; there are lots of different cleaning products from which to choose. All barely used.

Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to get a day off, usually (maybe) on a major holiday. Frequently, this will coincide with my home being in a reality-show state of disarray, and so I will start at one end of the house and clean until I reach the other end, usually becoming progressively less thorough as the day passes and I become more tired and less interested in the latest neon-colored bottle of goo (Chemicals clean better when they look like nuclear waste, apparently). These cleaning sprees mostly involve wiping off surfaces and shuffling around stacks and boxes in a bizarre floral-scented game of mancala. There have been times when my home has ended the day cleaner, but even messier than it was before. And I can’t find anything.

The cat enjoys these days, because I also often go on marathon laundry sprees as well, meaning he can sleep on one of his favorite locations - the top of the running clothes dryer. It’s warm, and gently vibrates, and lulls him into a sleep deep enough that one can almost pet his tummy without feeling pain. Almost. He probably just doesn’t want me to use him to dust.

I’ve made some discoveries over the years, like how well toilet bowl cleaner removes black soap scum from bathtubs; that sprinkle-powder carpet cleaner never really vacuums up all the way; that streak-free shines only matter to TV commercial people; and that freshly mopped floors can be explosively nauseating to dogs. And they don't care which end explodes.

I’ve also discovered that the more likely an item is to be either machine washable or dishwasher safe, the happier I am and the more frequently it will be cleaned. Surprisingly, there are many, many things that are dishwasher safe that aren’t advertised as such. I really think marketing companies are missing out by not addressing the very important demographic of Busy Bachelors. 

I’ve put car parts through the dishwasher as well as trim from my house; computer cases and lamp shades; hand tools and shaving razors. Heck, even my toilet seat is detachable for cleaning, and it’s the perfect size to fit in my dishwasher. If only the selling company had had the foresight to market this much-used household item as dishwasher safe, I’d feel less guilty when the time comes and I finally do run it through my machine.

Because, someday, I know that I will. No matter how hard I fight this urge, I will inevitably succumb.

And I’ll use the pots and pans setting, no less.

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Vacation: All I never wanted

I just got back from vacation.

More accurately, I returned nearly a month ago. But it feels like I just got back. The problem with vacations is that, while they are supposed to be a break from work, they require so much extra work to prepare for, as well as the extra work required once returned from, that the expenditure of energy required to take a vacation is greater than the amount of energy recovered while on vacation. I’m sure there’s a mathematical formula here that can be derived from Newton’s second law of thermodynamics, but you can work that out for yourself.

Ask around, and a lot of people, possibly including yourself, will say that vacations are almost not worth taking, because missing a week or two of work requires so much preparation and extra work beforehand to make your job as easy as possible for whomever is taking your place while you are gone. Of course, once you return, you have another week or four of cleaning up the mess that was made while you were away, because no matter how simple you make your instructions, they’re only going to be simple to you- the person who took your place did a lot of interpreting, I guarantee it. So things will be out of place and things will be done wrong and to make it worse, it was all done with the best of intentions so you’re not even allowed to get mad over it.

Plus, they touched all your stuff.
Read more... )

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Those special firsts
By Timothy H. Kepple

It’s hard to forget your first. Big or small, old and used, or new and … new - like many people, my first vehicle holds a special place in my memories. Painful memories. But like a sharp stone, the river of time has worn off the rough edges of those memories, leaving nothing but the rounded curves of nostalgia, and the bitter aftertaste of the vomit that metaphor just induced.

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Making my presence less known

By Timothy H. Kepple

I’m dieting.

Well, we are dieting. My roommate and I. Because slow starvation is easier when you have a companion you can stare hungrily at while imagining he might taste like chicken, as has been rumored. And before anyone can smugly chime in and tell me that starving oneself is not the proper way to diet, I will preemptively counter that the very act of dieting is to restrict one’s caloric intake to a level below what the body is accustomed to, thereby forcing it to make up the differential by utilizing fat storage which, therefore, causes weight loss; and while this is not severe starvation, it is starvation nonetheless. This sounds like a feasible argument even though I actually made it all up, but you’re best off just nodding and agreeing with me because most likely I’m bigger than you. And I’m hungry.

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       I sling the body elastic

Timothy H. Kepple

Staff Curmudgeon

I like to cook.

Cooking, however, is another one of those things that I want to be really, really good at (like drawing, chess and social graces) but that I am really, really not. This doesn't stop me from trying. Unlike social graces – I’ve given up on those. Although someday I simply must share my recipes for quick and easy college cooking on a budget. (Notice tasty doesn't appear anywhere in that description.)

I have a fondness for vintage recipes, especially those old brand-name recipes, where a company would take some innocent, run-of-the-mill recipe and shoehorn their product into it, giving us delicacies like Velveeta Cheese Fudge (Yes, this is real. No, I have not made it.)


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       ETA: Sorry, I have no idea what's up with the formatting on this post. It looks fine when I open it for editing.
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Fair Warning
Publication date: 8-10-11

I don’t normally share personal things about myself. Mainly because I don’t want anyone to share their own with me. If I want to know something personal about you, I’ll ask you. If I don’t ask, then I don’t care and I’m not interested. Many people I deal with regularly don’t understand this, no matter how frequently I feign death when they begin to speak to me.

So, in the interest of fairness, since what I’m about to share is personal, and since you did not ask for me to share, if you therefore choose to ignore me I will not be upset. Although watching you feign death would amuse me.

So, my mother became a reporter. Two years later, so did I ... )
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I'm about to blow smoke in your face

I’m no one’s role model. Good, bad, or otherwise defined- I’ve never asked to be, intended to be, offered to be, or acted to be. Which is good, for why anyone would look up to me or even anything other than askance at me is difficult for me to comprehend: I’m very large, I scowl exclusively and I eat too many things that contribute too much to my largeness and scowliness.

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Plumbing my own depths


Indoor plumbing is one of those conveniences that frequently get taken for granted, like electricity, telephones, and pre-baked pies, until that moment when the convenience suddenly goes away, leading to the huge inconvenience of trying to determine exactly how one is supposed to finish his shower when the water has suddenly stopped spraying over his body.


When I say "his," I mean me; and when I say "body," I mean that giant-freak-of-nature-potato-shaped thing I live in that I occasionally have to stand on its head in the shower to make sure the undercarriage gets good and cleaned. Except in instances such as this when the cleaning apparatus has suddenly failed, and the bathroom shower automatic spray cleaner is empty, ruining plan B.


I'm not exactly a handyman, although

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Adulthood welcomes cautious drivers

By Timothy H Kepple


I turn 41 years old this year. Today, in fact. Yes, happy birthday to me and all that poop. I'm actually celebrating my 12th Annual 29th Birthday, because that's more fun.


Luckily, I seem to have been spared the typical “midlife crisis” that's supposed to occur to all men around this age, probably because I had my first midlife crisis at the age of 12. I don't remember what brought that one about, but others followed regularly every other year or so, for various petty reasons. These were a welcome change from the crises of my childhood, however, such as the existential crisis I went through at the age of eight brought about by the animal-themed wallpaper my mother hung in my room, and my belief that if I did not say goodnight to each of the types of animals pictured that I would hurt their feelings and they'd think less of me. Regardless of my repeated efforts, the bobcat always looked sad. Thankfully, I got over this before deciding that I needed to say goodnight to all the animals pictured, not just each type.



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(Published March 2 Lander Journal)

My refrigerator, and what’s inside

Timothy H. Kepple

We can never finish an entire can of corn.


Read more... )
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Appearing in the 2-9-2011 edition of the Lander Journal.

I enjoy a road trip. Which is good, because Wyoming offers many opportunities for travel. Actually, visiting nearly any town outside of Lander can count as a road trip, but the lengthy, daylong trips are my favorite. Hitting the road with a handful of CDs and the excitement of traveling to another destination combined with the joy of getting away for awhile tends to be a heady experience for me.

After the first hour, when conversation begins to wane and my buddy and I settle into the trip with our drinks and our snacks and our tunes, I’m perfectly content to let him drive while I let my thoughts wander.

I work with computers, and have taken to them in my life like some guys have with cars and engines. I love ripping them apart, tuning them up, putting them back together again, taking them apart to fix what I broke, smacking them with my hand until they turn on, getting lost in a maze of wires … my thoughts frequently randomly wander into computer guts and software.

As the endless fields go by off the highway to my right, it comes to mind how nice it would be if I were able to backup my memories like a hard drive. How much easier it would be if brains could be defragged and if there was a Norton Disk Doctor for emotions. How nifty it could be to upgrade my personal memory like RAM when it seems like my aging brain is getting sluggish and less speedy than it was when it was new and first being programmed …

Did I really just see a statue of a monkey riding a dinosaur?

The CD is changed, and I watch the occasional car speed past in either direction; sometimes the driver is texting and I wonder if that causes me more of a distraction than it does him. I continually scan the side of the highway, watching for the possible movement of depressed deer waiting to leap in front of the vehicle, or a rabbit wandering onto the road after being distracted by a texting motorist. I think a lot of things are better with cheese …

Huh. Yes, that really is a pair of testicles hanging off the trailer hitch of the truck in front of us. Sensible, I suppose, because the massive dually with its matching exhaust pipes and silhouetted shapely women on the mud flaps desperately cries out for that final ornament that will truly show the world just how masculine it really is.

How exactly would one go about putting a pair of underpants on a truck, anyway?

My butt hurts; my legs are stiff. After the driver grudgingly makes yet another stop at a rest area (Camel Kidneys, we call him- he can drive all day without a pit stop) the open road beckons me to lose myself in my thoughts once more. Of course, once the sun goes down and there’s nothing more to watch than the light from the roadside reflectors streaming past, singing along with the current song is always an option for me. Actually, as it turns out, it is not an option according to the driver. His car; his rules; but for a few more hours, the road at least is mine, along with whatever thoughts or misdirected jack rabbits it may bring my way.
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(Appearing in today's Lander Journal)

Growing older with Ike

My dog is old. I like to think he’s the oldest yellow lab in the state of Wyoming. I can’t prove that. He’s thirteen and a half years old. I can’t prove that either, but it’s the closest estimate we can make based on memories of how long he’s been around.

Ike’s favorite activities used to include chasing a ball, going for walks, chasing a ball, finding sticks in the yard to carry around, chasing a ball, chewing up the sticks he found in the yard after he carried them around, and chasing a ball. Usually followed by chasing a ball. Again.

In his old age and general geriatric state, he doesn’t get around well. His hindquarters are held together by nothing more than sinew and tendons these days, and when x-rayed his joints are just a cloud of arthritis. More than one vet has expressed amazement that Ike can even walk. So his activities these days mostly involve sniffing at sticks, wiping his drool on my pants, shedding, and pooping.

Ike poops a lot. The older he gets, the more frequently he has to do his business. I can relate in a way; when I turned 40 I realized that while I had been born with my father’s features, I’d also gotten my grandmother’s bladder. Unfortunately, the older Ike’s gotten, the less he seems to be aware of the fact that he poops. He still asks to go outside to take care of matters. Sometimes. Sometimes though, he seems just as surprised as I am when he suddenly poops in the house. When he’s sleeping, all bets are off. Unlike me, he is completely unaware of the smell.

Around the house, we’ve come to refer to these events as “laying a brown egg” or “leaving a trail.” There are times, however, when we energetically refer to them as “#$%@! What the #$%@! did I just step in?!”

Ike doesn’t care. Heck, he’s not even aware of it most of the time, unless he wants to go back to his bed and suddenly realizes that there’s something there that he’d rather not sleep in. Ike used to sleep with me in my bed, until one night I rolled over and suddenly realized there was something there that I’d rather not sleep in. Unfortunately, I was.

This discovery was made when I semi-consciously realized I was laying on something lumpy, semi-consciously dug it out from under my back, and semi-consciously held it to my face to try to see what it was. I may have even semi-consciously sniffed it. Thankfully, I was fully conscious and aware of what it was before investigating further by tasting it.

After a 3:00 a.m. shower and change of sheets, Ike was firmly, yet sadly, informed that he would no longer be allowed to sleep with me on my bed. It was really just as well; it had been a long time since he could get up there by himself anyway. We compromised and agreed that he could still join me on the couch while I watch TV. Granted, he needs help getting his hind legs up there, but then gets to spend some quality time with me. Shedding. But so far, no surprise brown eggs.

My dog is very old. My dog poops a lot. My dog is fiercely loyal and loving; I return that and accept him as he is, drool and all. I just carry a flashlight when I walk around at night and very carefully watch where I step to avoid anymore #$%@! nighttime surprises.


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March 2012

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