How I Destroyed a Thriving

Filed under:General — eric @ 8:42 am

How I Destroyed a Thriving City With Nine Gallons of Water

In my front yard there’s a mighty oak tree. Up until a month or so ago, encircling its trunk was a carpet of wild flowers and unbloomed jonquils. After a visit from an over-zealous landlady with a weed eater, there’s only a circle of dirt about fifteen feet across left. It was the perfect spot for a nest of fire ants. I’d seen the beginnings of the mound a few weeks ago, but didn’t get to it timely enough. Yesterday, the neighbor boys (aged five and three) came to play “garden” in my yard — they love watching me in my garden — and, trowels in hand, made straight for the ants. There was only one bite, but the younger boy was covered in them. This morning, I did what I had to do.

Before the ants were warmed up by the sun, I put three gallons of water on to boil. I investigated the mound a bit more while I waited. It looked like the ants were centered around the stump of a sapling that had been cut before I moved here. When the water was hot, I slowly poured it around the stump. The mound, mostly a hollow-out pile of dirt, collapsed. The water found ant trails and drained away. Gurgles emanated from below. The ground steamed. Hundreds or thousands of ants were caught unawares. The water instantly killed them and hard boiled the eggs. The bodies and pure white eggs were everywhere. I left them and went inside to my sourdough pancakes, putting another three gallons on to boil.

When the water was ready, I took it outside. The ants behaved like a responsible government would — medics were swarming over the bodies and eggs looking for signs of life (Some of each were being drug below. To the hospital or pantry, I couldn’t say.), engineers were inspecting the damage and repairing what they could, and I’m sure insurance adjusters were paying off claims. I behaved the way a reprehensible terrorist would — I unleashed a second flood of boiling water. The ants didn’t have a chance. Clouds of steam, gurgles from the deep, a thicker pile of bodies. Enough dirt had washed away that it became easy to pull up the stump, and I drug it across the road. In the hole I saw a few more ant trails, but precious few ants. I went inside for coffee and put another three gallons on to boil.

The last of the water was hardly necessary. When I took it out, only a few ants were about. These ants were from the lowest levels of the city and were staggering about like they were blinded by the light of the sun. The ground was fairly saturated, so the final three gallons were slow to drain. The pit held the water like a leaky bowl, and when the water was gone, so was any trace of the ants. All that remained was a crater. A square foot of total destruction.

I’ll watch the place for the next few days. It’s possible that the neighboring cities in the cow pasture may send in their best search and rescue teams, food, and construction equipment. If they do, I’ll be ready, stock pot in hand.


The official They Might Be

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:13 pm

The official They Might Be Giants page has just redesigned. It’s got babbling presidents! And a music video filmed with a QuickCam. Fun stuff.

Who is the little girl

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:29 am

Who is the little girl who lives in the Plaza in New York? “Hi! I am Eloise. I live on the top floor.” This is your source for all things Eloise, including information on the book re-releases and the upcoming movie and possible TV show. I couldn’t find the lyrics to Kay Thomson’’s song, nor could I find it anywhere as an MP3 or anything else. I don’t want to deprive Ms Thompson’s estate of any royalties, but I’d really like to listen to that song for some strange reason.


One of my favorite people

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:06 am

One of my favorite people has started her own diaryland journal: Intemperance. If ever there was someone perfect for journal writing, it’s she. She’s just getting started, but you can expect some good things here.

Honeycomb’s big, yeah yeah yeah.

Filed under:General — eric @ 4:14 am

Honeycomb’s big, yeah yeah yeah. It’s not small, no no no! That’s a link to a page full of 70s kids TV stuff. Theme songs, commercials, etc. The fellow used to watch TV with a tape recorder running, offering commentary as he watched. Now, all of his hard work has culminated in a webpage chock full of .au files. Joy! When I was small, in the early 70s, I got to eat honeycomb cereal when I visited my maternal grandmother. The youngest of my aunts & uncles were kids (older kids, but kids just the same), so there was always kid’s cereal there to eat. And honeycomb was my favorite. Then I got old enough (eventually) to buy my own cereal, and homeycomb it was. Blech! What happened to it? I swear what they’re passing off now isn’t what they used to have.

From Slate: Attack of the

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:45 am

From Slate: Attack of the Giant Shopping Carts!!! Have you noticed how huge carts have gotten? Giant sport utility shopping carts. Some people say buggies — it won’t be long before we’ll need to hitch mules to the things just to get to the dairy aisle in the back of the store. Or perhaps train tracks in the aisles to make things easier. The carts could have those nifty up & down pumping levers like good old-fashioned handcars. Several stores around here have already installed cup holders on the shopping carts. Cup holders!

Oven Key is a home

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:38 am

Oven Key is a home based business specializing in world wide web home pages and wooden kitchen utensils. However, Oven Key does not make spoons or scoops. Luckily, the Spoon Lady does. Oy! The background music!


Whoever said politicians aren’t witty?

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:08 am

Whoever said politicians aren’t witty? A scuffle on the Alabama House floor was preceeded by the following repartee: “You go to hell,” Holmes told White. “You go there, too,” White replied. “Go straight to hell,” Holmes snapped back.

I got notified this morning

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:27 am

I got notified this morning that I’ve been accepted into the VirginConnect program. No, it’s not a dating service for sexual neophytes. It’s a program by Virgin Entertainment that allows you to “rent-to-own” an internet appliance (the WebPlayer, similar to the i-opener from netpliance) for $50 a year, including unlimited internet access. For the first 10000 people, the first year is free. I don’t have a computer at home, so I signed up. It may be an easy way to write weblog entries without having to lug my work laptop home and back. It may be a fun toy to poke at. It may be a doorstop. We’ll see. I can always send it back if it’s a piece of junk.


This weblog is the number

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:14 pm

This weblog is the number one result when you use the AOL search engine for “apartments athens georgia”. So why couldn’t I sublet when I moved in February and then get stuck paying double rent for two months? Oh… if anyone from University Gardens Apartments is reading this, I’ll pay you that last month’s worth. Really I will. Just not now, and not all at once. If you wouldn’t have rejected every candidate I brought in, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, and you’d be several hundred dollars richer.

The internet is a wonderful,

Filed under:General — eric @ 11:41 am

The internet is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Today’s case in point: Anita Liberty. A few months ago I taped a fun short movie off of the Independent Film Channel titled Anita Liberty. It was a featured short at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. The main character, Anita, is a New York performance artist/poet who has devoted her entire career to humiliating her ex-boyfriend Mitchell, who left her after a number of years for a woman named Heather. It was full of silly poems with lines like “I was thinking of you today. No… wait… I was wrong. I was thinking of someone else.” Somehow Anita comes across as both lovable and pathetic. Empathetic and laughable. The film was only 18 minutes long, but it made me both laugh at her antics and think about mine (I was a Mitchell to someone else’s Anita in my not-too-distant past, though there was no Heather).

Now, thanks to the internet, I see that there’s much more to the Anita Liberty universe that I knew nothing about. The film was but one of Anita’s products. There are books (of poetry and… uh… self-help). There was an HBO series. There are public appearances. There are recordings. A multi-pronged attack on Mitchell. Anita is really a character superbly created by comedian Suzanne Weber. Now that I know there’s all these other things out there, I’ll look for them.

I’m sorry, Kim. I wasn’t

Filed under:General — eric @ 8:44 am

I’m sorry, Kim. I wasn’t at all meaning to imply you are pathetic, but rather that I’m a heartless bastard. But since I said it in a typically heartless bastardly way, I was easily misunderstood.

My officemates’ band (The Dictatortots)

Filed under:General — eric @ 4:48 am

My officemates’ band (The Dictatortots) had their first show last night. It was mighty fun, as they’re not a band in the traditional sense. They’ve got bass, electric guitar, small drum kit, cello, keyboards, trumpet, and human beat box. Their music is almost a parody of grunge. There’re MP3’s here if you want to see what I mean — I suggest “Big Car Rotting in my Backyard”. I’d say that they were a Southern version of the great Arizona/New Mexico phantasmagoric heavy metal vaudeville troupe SKUMBAAG, except they’d never heard of SKUMBAAG before. Neither have any but a small, small handful of you, I’d warrant. The show went very well, and odds are good that they’ll become a big hit here in Athens. Weird and freakish musical acts are very popular here in Athens.

An oldie-but-goody: The Canadian Medical

Filed under:General — eric @ 4:39 am

An oldie-but-goody: The Canadian Medical Association Journal published an article in 1998 asking which of the two doctors on The Simpsons should Canadian doctors emulate. The answer may suprise you. A followup editorial states that we should not turn to The Simpsons at all, but rather to Star Trek to find a worthy TV doctor rolemodel.

Dark Currents is Blogger-powered serialized

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:54 am

Dark Currents is Blogger-powered serialized gothic fiction. Not gothic in the Tina the Troubled Teenager sense, but gothic in the H. P. Lovecraft sense. At least, that’s how it has started. It’s the first time I’ve seen Blogger used in this way. It’s set in the present, told in a first-person narrative, and incorporates weblogging into the framework of the story itself. It’s fairly new, so you can get caught up in a hurry and then add it to your regular rotation.


Catching up on my reading,

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:05 am

Catching up on my reading, I noticed that Evan’s smitten with Anne Sussman too.

If you haven’t read Anne

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:47 am

If you haven’t read Anne Sussman’s diaryland entries, I urge you to do so. At the risk of making Randy sad, I have to say that Anne’s writing is probably the best of any online journal I’ve read. Besides being laugh out loud funny (”Full, nubile, female college-student nudity (henceforth to be referred to as FNFCSN) . . . was a damn sight more enticing than FNSNEGOWHN (full, not-so-nubile, ex-girlfriend, old withered hag nudity)”), her words have the full range of emotion-induction. I’m finding it hard to describe the effect her writing has on me, which is just one of many reasons why hers is far better than mine.

Sometimes lunch meetings are wonderful

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:35 am

Sometimes lunch meetings are wonderful things. Especially when I am invited to the “lunch” part without having to sit in the “meeting” part. Even if the lunch is a few pizzas delivered to the office. And especially when I, though sheer laziness, didn’t pack a lunch of my own. So now I’m full of Papa John’s and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

I was already feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and generally happy thanks to a very pleasant weekend getaway. I got a car almost a year ago with the intention of getting away at every opportunity, but somehow this was the first excursion I embarked on. The setting was Towns County, Georgia, nestled in the mountains of the northern edge of the state. The weather was (supposed to be) perfect for being outdoors all weekend long. My weekend home was The Mountain Room of the Henson Cove Place Bed & Breakfast. That place truly was comfortable. The photos on their Web site do a great job conveying the beauty to be found there. Saturday was spent first walking through the Hamilton Rhododendron Gardens — early for most Rhododendrons, but still full of color. Though the weatherman had promised me clear skies with temperatures in the seventies, it was chilly and threatening rain. The next stop was Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest mountain. The literature boasts of a view of over a hundred miles, but after a half-mile hike straight up through 33-degree fog, I was treated with a view (if I looked hard and squinted a little) of about four feet. It seems it’s foggy up there an awful lot, as the trees were covered with mosses and lichens that would ordinarily take centuries to grow. Further below and several miles away, the afternoon was closed with a nice two mile walk along a portion of the Appalachian Trail, where I watched a couple families of wild pigs play in the forest. Easter Sunday saw the nice weather predicted, and after filling up on pecan waffles (topped with pecan ice cream and maple syrup) a walk through the Chattahoochee National Forest was in order. Not the whole forest, mind you, but as pleasant a four mile stretch as I could have asked for. Though I missed the “rare black-barked yellowwood trees” that were in the area, I did see some old-growth buckeyes and a whole mess of wildflowers. It was probably the most perfect time to witness the blooming of the woodland wildflowers that blanketed the forest floor in whites, yellows, purples, and pinks. Another couple of weeks and they’ll all be gone. The teeny tiny wild irises, miniature versions of their cultivated cousins, were particularly cute. Note that I’m not afraid to call a small flower cute.That’s just how it was.

As I said, I returned refreshed. Seeing the last period of the St. Louis Blues’s pounding of San Jose was just icing.


I was twenty minutes late

Filed under:General — eric @ 9:38 am

I was twenty minutes late to work today because of an extra long commute. Not because of traffic — there’s no traffic out in my neck of the woods. A tree sugeon was operating on a tree down across the road, and I had to wait. I love country living.


I’ve been tapped to direct

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:45 am

I’ve been tapped to direct and play the title role in a 1-act rock opera featuring the music of the Athens based wondergroup the Dictatortots. As a 6 foot 2 inch straight man, the band thinks I’m the perfect person to play the role of “a homosexual leprechaun who discovers the wider world”.

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