Home Improvement with rudyblues

Or, why I’ll never have one of those PBS home improvement shows

Dateline, July 5, 2016, Podunk, Illinois. rudyblues, local malcontent and all around grumpy old man, has decided to take the week off and paint the exterior trim on his house. That he made a decision at all is news enough for some, but that he has decided to do something productive is truly a man-bites-dog type of story. (If the ASPCA is listening, the dog is fine and is expected to make a full recovery).

Did I mention I was painting the house? Yes, that’s the same reaction I had when I made the decision. “Are you nuts?” Not that it’s all that big a deal. It’s really just the trim, since the whole thing is a small sea of vinyl siding. And it’s really just on the front of the house. But still, come on, it’s rudyblues we’re talking about here. The last time he decided to do something this ambitious Jimmy Carter was president!

HomeBeforeNow, as you might be able to tell from the photo, my home has zero curb appeal. No, in fact, it has negative curb appeal. In a recent survey of passengers in autos that stopped when I flagged them down, and of pedestrians who weren’t fast enough to outrun me, a full 62% said the curb in front of my house was more appealing than my house. Now mind you, it is a fine curb, but it’s high time to improve my home’s curb appeal.

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Pity Epitome

The epitome of an epitome

Epitome. Funny little word. Comes to us from Greek via Latin. Via comes to us via Latin, too. Does the English language have any words that aren’t nicked from some other language? I suppose it does, but even some of those seem to be from older languages. My kingdom for a single word that is genuinely and originally from the English language! But I digress. Thanks to Latin, I’m able to do just that.

Aristo
Aristotle

Anyway, epitome. From Latin, via the Greek word epitomē, which derived from epitemnein, meaning “abridge”, a conjunction of epi, meaning “in addition”, and temnein, meaning “to cut.” So, let’s see, “in addition to cut,” maybe “an additional cut,” abridgment, how did we get to where we are with today’s most prevalent meaning, a “perfect example of a particular quality or type?”

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To All My Buddies

When are you no longer BFFs?

Just what constitutes being a buddy? A bud. A BFF. Can you be a buddy with someone you just met? Or is there some unwritten rule that says you can’t be best buds until some certain period of time has passed? Is it like a probationary period, are you like “buddies in waiting”, or maybe “provisional buddies?” And if you’re buddies, can you fall out of “buddy-ness”, like we humans fall in and then out of love?

I’ve had lots of buddies over the years. There was my buddy Peter, who lived across the alley when I was a kid. I look back on that time, and I think we were inseparable, but then, we weren’t, because I haven’t seen him for decades. Were we really buddies?

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Welcome Back

A Sunday Short Story with a side of irony

A searing light invaded his consciousness, from everywhere at once, so bright he wanted to turn away. As he tried to move, every bone, tendon, ligament, fiber and nerve screamed in an excruciating chorus of pain. The pain was instantaneous, as if by a switch, so intense his consciousness recoiled back.

320px-Operating_theatreConsciousness returned, the light, less bright, the pain, dulled. He heard air, moving slowly, punctuated by high chirps and low murmurs, swirling, a cacophony. As he tried to separate them he suddenly smelled heavy, medicinal, antiseptic odors, layer upon layer, unidentifiable as the sounds were indecipherable. Consciousness, overwhelmed, retreated again.

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The Stone Stairs

A short fiction piece on place and memories

The stone stairs tumbled down the breach dug into the side of the hillock, steep and uneven. Grass burst from the spaces between the slabs, moss clung to their faces. The tumble poured into the earth, down a shaft that ended at a rough hewn door, a vertical plank of wood that seemed carved in place, as if from the taproot of some massive oak tree that had once stood on the mound.

OldFfarmsteadNature had long ago curled her tendrils around the head and jambs of the door’s timber frame, trying hard to pull it deeper into the hummock, the door appearing to meet directly with earth. A rough wooden dowel poked from a horizontal slot cut in the left side of the slab, and to the right four rusted carriage bolts signaled the iron straps that held a slide bolt to the inside of the door.

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Post Post-a-Day

Or, After My Failed Attempt at 365 Posts in 2016

Hello again, dear reader(s). Or, rather, “Hi Mom.”

As you may (not) have noticed, I have been absent from these digs for well over a week. Quiet. Silent. Mute. Voiceless. And although I did not issue an Official Proclamation as to my intentions of trying to publish a post every day for a year, I did at least announce said intentions to the voices in my head.

“Hah! A post a day for a year! That’s rich.”

“Shut up!”

“No! You can’t make me!”

“Shut up, I’m trying to talk to my dear reader(s)!”

“You know, rudyblues, if you didn’t proofread this dreck you wouldn’t even have ‘reader’, much less readers! Loser.”

Sorry, I digress. As I was saying, I have failed in my attempt to publish at least once a day for a year. I fought the good fight. Well, I fought. All right, I gave it a shot, how’s that? Probably not my best shot, but a shot none the less. It was a good run. Yes, I suppose you’re right, it was more like a short, fast walk.

I find it amazing how badly the human psyche wants to be right and to what extremes it will go to rationalize a perceived failure. Back in the waning days of 2015 I optimistically said to myself, “Self, we’re gonna publish 365 blog posts next year.” And at that point most of the voices in my head gave a kind of muffled harrumph, with a few “attaboy’s” and “you go’s” from the back of the room. Fast forward to the present and it’s not quite as supportive in there. Rationalizations run rampant.

I’ve spent nearly every waking hour for the past week or more on keeping my day job. As some (one?) of you may have read in this previous post, the heartless, multinational mega-corporation I work for is going through a self-induced, self-inflicted restructuring to please the financier class. This restructuring, which at times seems more like throwing everything out and starting over, is being implemented with a spreadsheet and a battle axe, with the precision of a carpet bombing run.

And what self-respecting restructuring expert would keep someone 50+ years old, who knows how the business works and how the organization operates, when he could keep two 20-somethings and brag about the reduction in overhead (read payroll)? That’s Business School 101, dear reader(s). Elementary school math. If you subtract the biggest numbers first you don’t have to work as hard.

So the layoffs have been coming hard and fast in the first quarter, in order to meet the arbitrary deadline that was foolishly announced so that the stock price would rebound. And it has, and the munchkin twit with the Napoleon complex has had his contract renewed. Most of the layoffs have been from middle management, people nearing the end of their working careers, nearer the upper end of the pay scale. Just a smidge older than me. I’m losing my cover.

And although your humble author is neither middle management nor at the top of the pay scale, he is at that vulnerable age, 50+, that seems to be the target of most of the cuts. Ergo, the recent spate of late nights and long days workin’ for the man. Trying to make myself indispensable at a job that’s ill-defined and unnoticed by those in the seats of the corporate threshing machines. I’m sure my number will come up soon.

Oh, by the way, if you’re a Millennial or a Gen-Xer or even a younger Boomer, please don’t jack with Social Security in the U.S. It works, in spite of what you hear. I’m one of those that the Great Recession of 2007 wiped out. I’m working until I drop. Unless my number comes up. Then I’m taking Social Security and living under a bridge.

Though I’m not religious, what better day than today, the Christian holiday of Easter Sunday, with its promise of redemption, to ask you, my dear reader(s), to forgive my sins and continue reading. Maybe just not as often. I can’t afford to lose my day job.

Them’s Fightin’ Words!

Rantin’ about parentin’

Do you know someone who encourages their children to solve disputes with violence? You know the type. Their child tells them about a dispute with another child, perhaps with a schoolmate or a neighborhood kid, and their response is, “When that kid says that you just knock him right in the snot box!”

I’ve heard parents talk like this before. I imagine their parents said the same thing to them. Makes me want to knock them right in the snot box! But if you’re like me, you just bite your tongue, smile, and feel sorry for the kid. No sense provoking someone like that into punching you in the nose by insulting their parenting skills. Or lack thereof. I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person. Or an accomplice.

{/end rant}

Fight