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September, 06 07: Old School

Category: General
Posted by: greg
I write about relationships for the same reasons I write about flying: it's something I do, enjoy, and don't completely understand. My flying is usually uneventful. It's my relationships that tend to crash and burn and, if you've read much here, you'll see I do my best writing while completely heartbroken. A Bikers Tale, for example.

But this isn't a love story that stalls, spins and heads for the trees. This is about my folks. Mom and Dad in Augusta, headed for a 50th anniversary and still acting like kids on their third date hoping to get lucky. I get my sense of optimism from them both, and I've got my dad's sense of humor, which I boosted off him somewhere in the early 70's. He wasn't using it anyway, and didn't notice I made off with the damn thing until mid-1985. I look like my mom. Nearly exactly, down to our eyes and the space in my teeth. We both cook and although she can draw and I can't, we both have musical leanings. She plays the piano, I play the radio. Hey, it's a skill ...


How do people stay in love long enough to pay off a house? Beats me, so I thought I'd ask. Learning from your elders and all that. I can almost hear the Old Man snickering but, hey, it's worth asking. Not like I'm making any of this work, right? So as you'd expect from anyone related to me, they told stories. Stories from last week, stories from when Eisenhower was president, the Cuban Missile Crisis still off in the future somewhere.

"Like the Suez Canal?" my Mom says, bringing up a scene that made my Dad actually snort with laughter. "Yeah, wonder if she ever found it?" Seems that my Dad was dating some chick who was actually named, appropriately enough, Dotty. She wasn't sure who Nasser was or wasn't and where or what the Suez Canal might have been. Those two names were, at the time and now in history, indelibly linked together. Short version is my Mom blasted Dotty out of the running by not only knowing where this Arab Ditch was, but what Nasser's position was on it. She had an Opinion too, and was willing to defend it. Not a big deal in 2007, but in the 1950's this wasn't typical female behavior, I'm told, the whole Having Opinions thing. The guy who later became my father was really taken with the whole deal, which brings up another Bookmark:

He once quipped to my Mom that bookmarks are for Retards that can't look at the book, remember the page number and simply pick it up later, be it a few minutes or a few years later. He laid this on thick enough that my Mom remembered page numbers for the better part of 40 years, and I even took to doing it since that's how I thought It Was Done. Only last year did he confess in a cascade of laughter that this was some of his best, absolute pharmaceutical-grade bullshit. He's been yanking out collective chains for decades, and never said a word! My Mom busted him for using a bookmark and now, at 76, he figured it was time to let her in on the gag. "I wondered how long you guys would keep up with this crap ... This is priceless." He's right, that IS priceless. Hell, I actually had my girlfriend doing it, thereby passing some of our best-quality family bullshit along to the next generation. Fact is, I remember page numbers and don't use bookmarks to this day.

My Mom is convinced that it's this sort of joking and screwing around, laughing at old rivalries, playing long-standing jokes, generally being kind and good-natured about it all, that keeps them going. My Mom is the family Ph.D, and she teaches on-line. She's one of those endearing psych majors that don't try to figure you out so much as try to help you along. There's a kindness there, and that's what I think keeps them holding hands long after the tube amplifiers got replaced by XM. Hey, I've have my influence too.

As I've noted elsewhere, it takes a much bigger man to negotiate and give, than it does to pick a fight he knows he can win. What the folks show is that it's not about the winning. It's about loving for the long haul, or the long flight, or the long run, or the long whatever. They travel all over the world together, and watching my Dad open doors for my Mom shows he took the whole Love, Honor and Cherish thing seriously. Which is as it should be and, yeah, that IS Old School.

Copyright 2007 Greg Richter / IFR Music

September, 01 07: Fuel From Fatties

Category: General
Posted by: greg
We're Americans and we're beefy. We're the country that not only invented the Twinkie, we're the guys that found a way to deep fry 'em. We're overfed, we're porked up, we're plus-sized Daddies. We also use a disproportionate share of the world's energy, which leads my creative and sometimes warped engineer's mind to thoughts of Bio-Diesel:

Bio-Diesel is the Granola name for a collection of alkyl esters made from the fatty acids found in vegetable oil, animal fat or ... us.

So why can't we pump some of these Spandex-wearing Wal-Mart waddling monsters for fuel?

I'm thinking harvest the jiggly bits off people who'd really like to be shed of it, filter it, heat it, and react it with methanol and a hydroxide catalyst. Centrifuge to separate the alkyl esters from the glycerols (use 'em for soap!) and you've got All-American Corn-and-Twinkie-Fed Bio-Diesel. There's enough beef oscillating around the mountains to make a serious dent in our oil imports. The Saudis may have the proven reserves, but we've got Fuel In Spandex on the hoof and wandering around Wal-Mart looking for deals. Take that Bin Laden! Big butts for Industry! It's Green. It's Safe. It's Fashionable: "200 Horsepower now comes in Size Six." What's not to like? It's better than driving a hybrid: lose more weight than cycling to work and still drive like a maniac, talking on your cell phone.

You could stand in the Ellijay Wal-Mart, and pass out coupons for free liposuction. Get people to sign up to both remove the unwanted tonnage _and_ collect a renewable energy tax credit. What could be more American? Al Gore might even find a way to trade ass for carbon emissions vouchers.

Looking at the covers of magazines in the Ingles checkout, and looking at the people who buy them, I see a huge fuel opportunity combined with a way to make people feel better about themselves. What could be more politically correct than that?

If you want to look like Claudia Schiffer, but currently weigh enough to overgross a Chevy Suburban, this could be a godsend: "I lost two hundred pounds and contributed 90 kilowatt-hours of clean, green electric power to the American grid ... Thanks Jenny Craig!"

Copyright 2007 Greg Richter / IFR Music