November 10th, 2016 · Tags: Uncategorized
In my PR life, I was working at the hottest high-tech firm in the country, just before the dot.com bust … and one of my favorite bosses of all times, thought I was some sort of animal … actually a couple of animals. First she complimented me and said that I was a “media hound,” a good thing for clients because earned media (media coverage) arguably adds credibility to a marketing mix. Ha. She also called me a “deer in headlights” when it came to billing the client for every minute of my day, and launching “best practices” which actually did little more for the client than run up their bill. I take both as compliments … I digress …
And speaking of deer in said headlights …
So, I saw my first actual deer in headlights the other day, about 5:30 a.m. on the backroads of Florida. Sure I have seen lots of deer on the side of the road, but this buck was positioned right on the shoulder like a hitchhiker. I slowed down. I threw on the brights. And he looked directly at me with the most bewildered, empty, clueless look … as if to say, “What do I do? What do I do?”
“Be cool,” I was thinking.
He was so not cool. He was very not cool, man.
As I slowed my sweet ride — a water extraction truck — he decided he would try to get to the other side. Man, I have seen many a deer and antelope glide gracefully over a barbed wire fence and across a pasture, more akin to their natural habitat.
By comparison, they don’t do roads well.
… How to describe? The normally surefooted-buck stumbed and slid and limped across the road, — sort of like a linebacker in high heels in a comedy sketch — as the deer’s hooves clanked on the asphalt … or maybe he looked the way I look on ice skates. Not pretty.
There was no other traffic, no gators crossing and I was able to slow down and let Mr. Clumsy pass in peace, to go enjoy the green visual splotches he was probably still experiencing in his retinas. It was his lucky day … “Go enjoy the after effects of the light show, buddy.”
As the Dirty Gig (helping to clean up Hurricane Matthew) first took me east to Florida and then north to the worse-hit North Carolina, I saw many a heap of road kill … most of which had at sometime been yet another deer in headlights.
After about a dozen sightings, it was then that I formulated Ping’s Rebuttal To Darwin’s Theory of Evolution … or the PRTDTE.
Mr. Darwin: If there is any validity to evolutionary theory, then tell me why oh why have generations of deer not evolved to avoid the highway? Why do they instead risk and typically lose their lives, like the low-minded chicken, to get to the other side? Is it so important to them that they risk their lives just to get their own yellow, diamond-shaped sign on the thoroughfare?
Don’t get me wrong, I just watched and loved a documentary on The Galapagos Islands where Darwin took shore leave from the H.M.S. Beagle and studied iguanas, penguins and my favorite the blue-footed booby. I see his point … But even so … How could it be that deer didn’t get the evolution memo?
After millions of years, deer have not adapted and mutated to avoid walking across the road … or rather, nearly crossing the road, avoiding the transformation into one of those red splotch “stamps” in the road — you know, the red stamps that get lighter colored and lighter colored with each turn of the killer car’s wheels.
With hour after hour in the truck from Fort Worth to Lake City, Fla., to Jacksonville to Raleigh, N.C., to Rocky Mount, N.C., to Edenton, N.C., and beyond, I pondered deer and the demise thereof.
And sadly, there were many examples along the way for reference and remorse. And they were usually not neat, clean kills, leaving the venison off to the side for respectful viewing.
Pretty sure I saw an example of just about every stage of rigor, and/or decomposition … Funny the things a writer’s mind will focus on after a few hundred miles in a noisy, slow, rough-riding truck.
As the miles flew by, I began to group and categorize the roadkills. (Yes, I binge watch “The Walking Dead,” why do you ask?) And dead deer were trending … so to speak.
IF I had a favorite specimen, it might be The Wine Skin Look. By this point in the deer’s demise, most of the alarming color is gone, the frame is in shambles, but the outer covering remains. Ha … think about the first guy in history who saw this and said, “Hey … I think I can clean that up and tote booze in it.” … Goatskin, deerskin, whatever …)
The Wine Skin Look is a precursor to The Chamois Throw Look … the point where the remains are best suited for cleaning one’s car windows, or staying warm, or perhaps fashioning a loin cloth and some matching knee-high moccasins. Again, I salute our ancestors’ resourcefulness …
On the more horrific end of the dead-deer spectrum, there is that Fresh Kill stage. It’s the one that freaks me out the most … You can still see a very alarmed expression on the face of the animal. It’s the “Oh S#@&!” look that no doubt immediately follows The Deer In Headlights Look mentioned above.
I absolutely hate Family Photo Day … that’s what I began to call the scene — after several examples — where there were three or four victims, of differing age and size, that apparently bit the big one together. “Come on kids … link antlers or nubs … come on across, it’s safe … No, I don’t know what those rapidly approaching lights are all about …”
Another non-crowd pleaser is The Day 2 Side Of The Road Look. RM has taken control, having its way with the animal and has begun to erase any peaceful, tranquil body language. Ha … You’ve probably seen it … It could also be called The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Look, as natural gasses balloon up in the former animal, contorting the frame and the limbs. For an even weirder visual, I maintain that many of the deer in this stage look like end tables from a distance … their four legs jutting out toward the sky … like a table overturned near ringside at a professional wrestling event … or a tossed table in the man cave after the home team fumbles on the two-yard-line.
Ha … I know … all of this is totally gross, and perhaps too much information on how sordid my idea of humor can be. So let’s move on.
Thank goodness, I have never seen a mangled, yet surviving deer on the side of the road. I can crack jokes about the deer-ly departed, but a severely injured Bambi would break my heart … really.
Ah … the road goes on forever, for some of us anyway … and you never know what might find its way across the road and SPLAT … into the blog.
Know what I sayin?
October 16th, 2016 · Tags: Uncategorized
One hundred feet below, the emerald waves pounded the shore, one after another after another. Relentless. Sqawking seagulls circled around me, and the tall mast rocked in the wind. A low-gliding “V” of pelican bombers dove down, descending in a smooth formation, just over the waves in the distance. When the gusts flexed their muscle, the platform atop the mast swayed as much as eight feet to either side as I took the knife from my teeth … holding on and struggling to cut away the white fabric, reducing the effect of the strong winds of The Atlantic.
Ha … I only wished I were on a sailboat. Did I fool you? Actually, I was suspended high in the air on an industrial-sized boom lift, tied on with a harness and a safety line … just another day on The Dirty Gig.
(Quick reminder: The Dirty Gig is the disaster recovery job that funds my journey and helps to provide content for this travel blog …)
The task at hand this time: to remove all of the vinyl siding of a temporary storage facility at a ship yard, recently ravaged by Hurricane Matthew, near Jacksonville, Fla. The structure looks like a huge quonset hut, wearing a white Member’s Only jacket … sort of.
If you have followed this blog since the early days, you may recall a similar Dirty Gig back in hometown DFW, as my colleagues and I worked to dismantle the former practice facility of The Dallas Cowboys, after its vinyl covering and frame were torn apart by a tornado.
This time, the vinyl structure in not quite as luxurious as the indoor practice fields back in Texas, adorned with the blue star. However … there was a huge Dallas connection. A few hundred feet away from our crew were a couple of yachts, docked. One was the craft skippered by The Dallas Mavericks’ owner, that sharkiest billionaire of the Shark Tank, Mark Cuban. For realz! The boat? I have no words to describe, other than tremendous in size … perhaps opulence is the word that I am trying to find. The private yacht could almost pass for a cruise ship. My colleagues and I watched crew members mill around for a day or so, before I snuck over to the dock for a peek.
Also, if you frequent this blog, you know how much I love coincidence. Any guesses on the name of the Cuban vessel? The Fountainhead … no doubt borrowed from Ayn Rand’s classic novel about the genius and powerful business types … the ones that the system tries to take down. You know … Mark Cuban types … The coincidence? I just recently finished The Fountainhead and now am speeding through Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” (Hmmm … both of these books just popped up recently in another Dirty Gig from a library where we were working … I digress … I have to think Rand must be turning over in her grave as one current candidate’s platform attacks successful people, as if it is their fault that others have not caught on to this thing called life … I digress …) Wow. The Fountainhead … from 1943!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This omission — Photos were forbidden in the area … but I was considering sneaking a little picture of the craft. … Snuck around the corner the next morning … and that ship had sailed! Vamanos el capitan!
So anyway, the Cuban launch WAS down below to my right and to my left was a huge battleship ensconced in scaffolding, for some major overhaul or facelift. (Would that be starboard? Whatever?) Between the two was a rusted metal barge, about the the size of four football fields, or maybe 10 of Cuban’s roundball courts. Apparently something had gone wrong with the relaunch of the barge, after repair, so it was docked and sitting on blocks, rising a few feet out of the water. It was a pretty incredible sight … just imaging the technology and know-how it took to build this flat, steel monster, much less, raise it up out of the water! Before the gig was up, we watched the barge departure, as the experts positioned it between two other barges. Large chains tethered the three together … chains with rusty links about the size of a man’s waste. The two barges on the outside tightened their massive chains and raised the middle barge even higher above the water … and then floated it out into the coastal river, as the tide flowed in. Pretty incredible to witness, for this landlubber … from my perch high above in “the crow’s nest.”
I really can’t get into any more details about the facility … maybe I shouldn’t have disclosed this much … but what’s a blogger to do!?!:)
No … I had no Wi-Fi high above the water … and barely took my iPhone out of my pocket, for fear of dropping the thing a few stories down to the ground. IF I had been on my game, I would have scanned to see if Cuban’s boat was emitting a Wi-Fi hotspot. I bet not … At least not one open for free access for a mighty sailing man like me:)
Other notes from the job … OH … high security. As I entered the facility, I was asked pointblank, whether or not I had any weapons in the truck I drove … or on my person. I won’t get into details, but I will say that the security guard and I bonded based on a mutual hobby we share.
Lastly … where does one have lunch in a high-security, commercial and military serving shipyard?
Well, factories and the like are the homes of the original, version 1.0, first generation foodtrucks, and this place was no exception. There was quite a “flotilla” of burger trailers, hotdog carts, and a bright red food trailer adorned with the words “MawMaw’s Kitchen.” How could I resist!?! It was a wise choice. Three jovial ladies — perhaps all family members — even the young woman we nicknamed “Lil MawMaw” were so friendly and kind … and most importantly generous with the portions. I enjoyed a chef salad, several days in a row, while on this job. But after a couple of days, the generous — no make that overabundant — application of Ranch dressing was just too much. I mean … too much dressing kind of defeats the purpose of eating a healthy salad right?
Ha … for all you word nerds out there, today I noticed that if you remove the “c” from defecating, you get defeating … neat huh? … I digress.
Back to the ranch … always the considerate one (don’t laugh, I can be nice) … I gave it much thought before I dared to mention the dressing issue to MawMaw. Telling her that there was too much dressing might be akin to telling a French chef that the bouillabaisse needs salt. So I ordered my next-to-last chef salad from that establishment and said, “You know MawMaw … I love your salads, and I do love ranch … but I don’t need the entire ranch … all i need is about twenty acres.” Ha … she laughed and cut back on my calorie intake that very instant.
But — always one to branch out, walk on the wild side and try new cuisine — for my last meal on the job I scoured the menu and my eyes landed on the most exotic fare on the list … the fried bologna sandwich. I almost ordered it as a joke … but the more I thought about it … i thought it must be good … one of those downhome best kept secrets. (You know … I think one of my brothers used to cook those when I was a kid, now that I think about it … I digress.) The more I thought about it … yes … I had to have it. Let me tell you, my friend, Briana’s Fried Bologna Sandwich is TDF! And … if I hadn’t have ordered that, I would have never learned that “Lil MawMaw” is really named Brianna, and she is the namesake of the best item on the menu.
MawMaw’s Kitchen Food Trailer — somewhat healthy salads, and a bologna sandwich that will make your belly full and make your soul want to listen to Elvis records – 7 pings … perfect score … the whole ranchero!
Nope. No Wi-Fi side orders with the bologna sandwiches at MawMaw’s Kitchen … but I did get a new friend on Facebook. Good people!
Know what I sayin?
September 5th, 2016 · Tags: Uncategorized
Somewhere in Houston, there is a little old man, from some Third World country, running around the city in my underwear!`
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Rendering, not Facebook Live:)
I posted this on PingWi-Fi after giving Starbucks time to respond and hopefully to remedy the situation.
In Starbucks across the entire United States I have seen many a satisfied customer fall asleep over a good book. I think most people find that funny but somewhat sociably acceptable. Ha … I refer to it as “the fine art of public sleeping” — or the FAOPS.
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“That’s right, ‘I AM’ from Texas,” to misquote a lyric from AggieLand’s Lyle Lovett … but even though I am from Texas, sorry to say I don’t like very much country music. But, there have been a few moments when country music has struck a chord … I remember several of my buddies and I made exceptions for Merle’s “Silver Wings,” Freddie’s “Easy Lovin,” Pure Prairie League’s “Tears,” Kenny doing Mel’s “Ruby,’ and all them “drangin songs” by Gary Stewart. That’s my kinda country. And of course there’s that Outlaw Country thing …
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July 23rd, 2016 · Tags: Satire