Friday, January 21, 2005

I mentioned earlier that I have been reading Jimmy Buffett's new book A Salty Piece of Land. (If you want to purchase it, please use the search box on the left.) I thought I'd give you my somewhat biased review.

The book chronicles the continuing adventures of Tully Mars, who first appeared in Jimmy's first book, Tales From Margaritaville, in a story called "Take Another Road." In that story, Tully Mars in a Wyoming cowboy whose ranch is taken over by a poodle breeder. Tully objects, and, after a fight with the owner that results in a borken plate glass window, he leaves to take his horse, Mr. Twain, to the shore. The story is a wonderful travel story that takes Tully from Wyoming, to Little Big Horn, to Hannibal, Missouri, to Heat Wave on Snake Bite Key (Setting for most of the rest of the stories), to the Caribbean. I like "Take Another Road." It's a great quest story that is heartwarming, and entertaining.

In the new book, Jimmy broadens Tully's character, almost to the point that he isn't the same person. In the story, Tully's only adventure in the big city was when he went to the set of the movie "Rancho Delux." In the book, he was a regular participant of the Cody, Wyoming Pioneer Days, went to visit an Indian shaman, and found a painting of the patron saint of lightning at a mall in some city.

The novel tells us that the new owner of the ranch has got a price on Tully's head, and that just before the final scene in the short story, Tully escaped the clutches of two of her bounty hunters.

Once more Jimmy writes a great travel story (Tully wanders around the Carribean getting into all sorts of trouble) to echo the one in "Take Another Road," but not really a quest story, because Tully's travels are a bit random. Finally Tully winds up working for Cleopatra Jones who wants to restore a lighthouse of Cayo Loco, but needs a fresnel lens. While Tully gets into one scrape after another, his friend, semi-famous musician Willy Singer (who is taking his seaplane on a 'round the world trip, and apparently wrote (at least in the book) "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season") hunts down the lens.

My only major complaint is that all of the characters speak in Jimmy Buffet lyrics and song titles. I would bet that some of the lines are going to be on his next couple of albums. I don't think Jimmy's as strong a novelist as he is a short story writer, but I heartily recommend this book, expecially if your a fan!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I was rereading some old emails, and reliving some of the events of the past. The year 2002 was not a good year for my car.

In April, my van broke down and had to be towed in. I made a turn and the engine just stopped. I think I said the f-word about a dozen times. My mechanical knowledge stops about where the key goes into the ignition. Here's how I report a problem: Step on gas, car no go! Kicked it and it didn't help.

According to my mechanic, the EGV (which I think stands for exhaust gas valve) on the carbeurator went out. Instead of forcing the gas into the carb, it blew it the other direction. Cost $432 to get it out. Guess what! I didn't have $400.

As my cousin Gary said, "Some days you look back...and then you look at the account....and you say to yourself, 'Why bother?' Kind of frustrating some days."

Two weeks later, Mom is going up to Brownwood this morning to take her mom to a doctor's appointment. Between Brady and Mason it starts to clatter. No option, she drives on to Brady and it dies somewhere near the Wal-mart. She calls me to come pick her up, and when I get to the Ford house there, she's been told the head gasket is blown (hopefully) and it will cost about $1000. If the engine is blown (which they don't think is the case) it will cost more than she owes on the car to fix. I did get a nice three hour lunch that day, though.

In June, Mom and I were on our way to Kerrville in my van, when I glanced at the temperature guage. Pegged. So I turned around and went home. I refilled the radiator. I took the van in to be repaired. (It was stuttering and sputtering, the a/c wouldn't blow on high, and the windsheild wipers had a short.) Turns out the heater valve went out, which drained the radiator, which may have caused the stuttering, and which may have blown the high speed fuse on the air conditioner. It should cost under $100, the mechanic said. It cost $200 to get a heat valve replaced, a circuit on the air conditioner and a new circuit board for the the wipers.

That's the thing about my car, I never have anything high dollar go wrong, just lots of low dollar stuff every couple of months.

One month later, on a Thursday, after taking the mail to the post office at 4 pm, I pulled out into the street and the AC stopped blowing. Hmm. Turned it off and turned it back on, and it worked. A couple of blocks later, same thing, except it wouldn't come back on. So , I took the car to the shop. Naturally, the mechanic could find nothing wrong with the fan. He did, however, find three freeze plugs that were going out. He could get to two of them easily, and replace them for $120. To get to the third one requires pulling out the power steering pump, and the air conditioner, which would add another $175 to the bill. I had the easy ones replaced.

Bicylce, anyone?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Okay. I've had it!

This message is for everyone who shops at Wal-Mart,Target, HEB, Albertsons, Super S or anywhere you take your purchases from the store to your vehicle in a cart. Yeah! That means YOU!

Today I went to Wal-Mart to buy some stuff. Since I live in a tourist town, the only place to buy a pillow on Sunday that doesn't have decorative stitching on it is Wal-Mart. (And there are people who want to get rid of chains here. Hell, then the only thing we'd have left are all the tourist shops on Main Street!) Anyway, I pull into the parking lot, and spot a gap in the parked cars up near the front door.

The space is open because it's got three shopping carts in it. Do I need to add that the cart corral was across the lane?! Three people couldn't be bothered to cross the lane and put their carts up! What? They couldn't wait two minutes to rip into the 12 pound bag of Ruffles that's available only at Wal-Mart?

I was going to stop the car, get out, put up the carts and park, but three people exited the store, and all the cars in the parking lot froze, waiting to see where the people were parked. By the time traffic started flowing, there was a guy in a Hummer behind me honking. Since the bigger the SUV the bigger the asshole driving it, and I didn't want to have to deal with an asshole, I continued trolling for a spot. Naturally, the guy in the Hummer pulled into the space, knocking the carts into other peoples' cars.

I find a space not blocked by a cart, go into the store, spend my twenty bucks, and return to my car. Naturally, a woman twice my size and four times my checking balance, judging by the stuff in the cart, is unloading her stuff in the back seat of her Suburban, wedging the door of her car against the driver's side of my van with the cart. As soon as she unloads, she smiles, unwedges the cart, leaves it where it sits, and goes to the driver's side of her car and climbs in! She pulls out and leaves. Before I can skirt the cart and head for my car, a Dodge Dakota begins nosing into the space, forcing me into a trot. Trust me. No one should see me trot!

I watch the driver of the Dakota walk up to the front of the store, and take a cart proffered by one of the greeters. I backed my van out of my space, and, accompanied by the honks of the jerks behind me, got the heck out of Dodge.

I had to make one more stop. It was Sunday, I was out of beer, need I say more?

I get to HEB only to learn that Shiner Bock had gone from $9.99 to $11.99. Bastards! They're doing everything they can to get me to drink really cheap beer.

Fortunately, the cart fetchers at HEB had cleared out the parking spaces, so I found a spot pretty close to the door nearest the beer section, and went inside. I buy some beer, and leave the store. By the time I get outside, empty carts were scattered about the parking lot like corpses on a civil war battlefield. Carts were on the grass in the "nature islands" at the end of each row, on the stripes between the handicapped spaces, propped against light poles, and, get this, one was parked nose against a pillar of the store behind which all the carts were kept! That person could only get three fucking feet from the carts before his time ran out?!

So for all you people who are too fucking busy to put your carts in the corrals, be advised: I'm busier than you! I don't have time to put the cart up. In fact, my time is so much more valuable than yours that I'm going to be leaving my cart in the middle of the traffic lane!

Thanks for being so considerate of others, you jerks!