Monday, August 29, 2005

Batten down the hatches!

They just passed the word that we were closing down at noon today, so some people are taking this storm seriously.

I haven't been able to get in touch with any of my friends in Hattiesburg, but I was keeping up-to-date by following a Hattiesburg-based blogger. She also has many links to good Katrina blogs! Unfortunately, she took a hit on her house and is now blogging via phone. Good luck all.

Before leaving the house this morning, I corraled all my ejectables into my garage, but noticed that none of my neighbors were so concerned with theirs. As I am recovering items from my living room, I hope that I can be a good neighbor and make sure they get back to the correct owners!

New Orleans is taking a beating today, but it may not be as bad as was predicted yesterday. I hope not. My heart bleeds for all the people that were incapable of evacuation. It must suck to have to beg for your life. And in the aftermath, their lives won't get any better. But maybe this catastrophe will be a turning point for New Orleans. Mayor Nagin is on top of that one. He sounds like a good man.

Right now the worst off seems to be my coast. The storm surge seems to be pretty incredible. Plus, if Jim Cantore is there, it has to be bad! Well, I need to wrap up here so I can scram to the house. I'm sure the kittens are freaking. It's going to be a long afternoon in Brandon, I'm sure.

Peace, everyone!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Could this be the one?

Went to New Orleans yesterday to get a good look. I have an idea that the Crescent City is headed for a makeover tomorrow. I hope I'm wrong.

Getting there was quite the experience. I picked up some friends in Hattiesburg and we hit 59 South. About 10 miles later, we started seeing signs that said "I-59 South closed at state line" and nothing else. The we started seeing the big flashing roadside signs with the same message. I don't know why I was so perturbed that they weren't giving us information on detours to New Orleans. But the weather was so nice and it was still at least 2 days out.

I called a friend at home and got her to check the weather for me. A few minutes later she called back and said that the Weather Channel said there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. Not long after that we reached the end of the line at Exit 29 Poplarville. I decided to take hwy 26 into Bogalusa then 21 south to Covington and then hit the causeway.

It was time for a plan. I had no idea if we would run into La. National Guard troops turning everyone around like in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" or what. So in between games of Mad Libs (yes, they are always in my car) we started working on a plan to circumvent any such roadblock we might encounter. My original idea was that since there were 4 of us in my 4Runner and we couldn't really use the "going to evacuate Grandma" routine unless we were going to put her in the back with all her stuff on the roof, that we should tell them we were going to rescue some loved one's pets. I figured a couple of crying girls in the back seat would lend itself to melting the heart of some stone-faced county mounty, and after the last few hurricanes the pet issue WAS a big deal. Plus, I am an animal lover anyway.

However, we opted for the "going to the airport to pick up our friend returning to the country" caper. We had an international-student friend of ours in the car which would probably lend credence, and all of our trips to the N.O. Airport to pick up or send off are always done with at least 5 people in the car (I have done it with 8 before).

So, with our carefully crafted plan agreed upon, we set about to do some interloping.

Now I must say that if you ever get a chance, drive through Bogalusa, LA to New Orleans via the causeway. Hwy 21 is also a "Louisiana Scenic Byway" and is very pleasant. It was quite an enjoyable afternoon drive.

When we reached Covington, it looked like all of New Orleans was heading north on that little highway. I'm guessing that it was Mandeville evacuating since Lake Ponchartrain was getting ready to surge. I wouldn't think, though, that the route we were coming down would be an efficient evacuation for N.O. But it was an impressive line of cars backed up, and signal lights flashing and gas stations getting hammered. For a few seconds I had one of those "and this is a good idea why?" moments rattling around in my brain, but imprudence quickly snuffed it. We stopped at the Causeway restroom for a quick break. They were putting the plywood up. The best part was that the tolls were waived - even for south-bounders. How cool! And it was a beautiful day for a trip across the lake.

On the other side, the lakefront area seemed to be taking the weather very seriously. It was actually a ghost town. There were only a few cars on the interstate and all the stores and restaurants were closed. Only one station in the area still had gas and even though I had plenty to get us back to H'burg and then get me home, prudence (and the recent memory of several miles of northbound traffic at a standstill) dictated that I fill up. Then we struck out for the quarter, wondering if it too would be abandoned.

What the hell was I thinking?

It was business as usual. However, the parking lots were eerily devoid of cars. The public lots - normally full on a Saturday eve - were maybe at 10% capacity. The girls did some shopping and then we were going to go get some grub back at the other end of St. Charles. While wandering around, I quizzed the locals on their feeling about Katrina. Many of them were beginning to get concerned and were wishing their stores would close so they could get on the road. The younger folks, revelling in their immortality, were mostly rolling their eyes at how much everyone was over-reacting. Standing in that shop on North Peters street, I conjured up a mental image of 7 feet of water in the room and the economic beating the city was probably destined for and wanted to tell them how different their lives were going to be in 72 hours, but I knew it would be wasted breath.

On the way back to the car I made the observation that if I didn't know better, I would say that it was pre-dawn on a Sunday morning. I wish that we could have spent more time there enjoying the unprecedented elbow room, but I was getting a hunger headache. I am also sad now that I did not go have some beignets and coffee, but Cafe du Monde will survive to serve me again. I don't know about the glass and chrome retail outlets along the way, but things will be different soon.

After a nice meal and a couple of Kirin at one of our favorite sushi joints, we struck out for Hattiesburg. The rest of the evening was a non-event, however. The dreaded traffic snarl I had been trying not to think about was not there. It was just another night. But it was quite a sight seeing the interstate in contraflow mode. Granted, there was hardly any traffic, but there were about 4 or 5 cars heading north on the southbound side. I wish that I could have been on that side. My friend from Japan was commenting that it was making him homesick to see the traffic moving that way.

I hope that my favorite city is spared from the ultimate ruin that everyone is predicting. If this beast move through quick, and the pumping stations hold out, maybe it won't be the one the people there have been fearing. But everything I have seen today is not making me feel any better. But I am glad I went and said goodbye. Now we have to prepare. It looks like Hattiesburg and then finally my town are in for it. Well, by the time it gets to me it will just be a windy, wet mess. But I hope all my friends in N.O., the gulf coast and points in between heed the warnings.

Take care, everyone.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I can say this shit 'cuz I used to be a lard-ass, too!

Well, it appears that America's favorite left-wing scold has decided to check into a "Celebrity Fat Farm". Yes, film-maker Michael Moore has reportedly checked into a $3,800/week fat farm for a crash course in cooking properly and losing weight. "Undergo life re-education" is actually what the blurb says.

I respect Michael Moore. I agree with many of his ideas, although I own more guns than most Montana survivalists. Digression - I'm not a survivalist, and I don't hunt. Nor do I dance naked around the house while wearing a six-shooter on my hip. My father bequeathed me his collection (yes- he was part survivalist/hunter) upon his passing. Anyway, I have much respect for Michael Moore until he starts whining.

But he is (in my opinion) extremely intelligent. I would be loathe to try to confont him in any type of verbal debate as he would probably whip my ass handily without breaking a sweat.

So how come when I weighed close to 300 pounds, I just got a copy of "The South Beach Diet" and not only lost 90 pounds in 6 months, but I have also managed to keep it off for over a year? Is it because people with lots of dough are just lazy babies? Does he pay someone to wipe his ass for him? Now that I think about it, his girth would tend to hinder proper ass maintenance, so maybe he does have a personal wiper. Maybe that's the sudden reason for the attempt at weight loss?

It is reported that his goal is to lose (actually, the article said "loose") 12 pounds in 3 weeks.

For 3,800 simoleans per week.

$11,400 for 12 pounds of fat.

Oh - he also gets to learn how to cook healthy and "re-educate".

I live in Mississippi. You've heard of us? We consistently rank #49 or #50 among the U.S. in everything from education to crime (at least Arkansas is a buffer occasionally). Until yesterday, that is. That's when a report by The Trust For America's Health came out and voted Mississippi #1 in obesity! Woohoo! We win, dammit!

So after an almost failed flight medical (BP like 150/110) back in December of 2003, plus the added incentive of seeing every lard-ass in Mississippi shopping in Wal-Mart on Saturdays, I decided to do something about it. On Jan 24th 2004 I ate my last Wendy burger on a drive home from a business trip in Dallas. It was in Shreveport, in case you care.

I don't know how familiar you are with S.B. Diet, but I do not have a will of iron. I'm weak. But I am good with instructions, being the geek that I am. So I paid about $20 for this book at Wal-Mart, and started following the instructions. And I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. And I got really good at arguing with Atkins followers on the merits of "some" carbs versus "no" carbs.

But over the weeks I kept losing and losing. I was SUCH a loser. My goal of trying to lose 50 pounds came so fast and easy I decided to change my goal to fitting into a pair of pants that hadn't seen daylight in 10 years. Once I did that, I decided "what the f**k" and aimed for some pants I hadn't worn in 15 years. In 6 months I weighed less than I did 20 years ago. Oh yeah - the BP is now 120/80 when I leave the gym. I won't be failing any more flight medicals!

So, Michael, for 10 Gs I'll bring you a book, show you what a roasting pan and a gym looks like, remove all your cookie dough ice cream, ring-dings and Pepsi, and I will change for freaking life. In 3 weeks!

But since I don't get the gig, I will be watching. If you aren't wearing something smaller than a coleman tent in 6 months, I will be scratching you off my list.

Pat's memo pad

Note to self: Check to see if there is a grassy knoll anywhere in Venezuela.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Physics and cars

To the bastard driving the brown Jeep Cherokee on I-20 west (between exits 47 & 48) on the morning of 8/19 at 7:07AM:


  • Every body's center of mass continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right [straight] line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.
  • An object in motion, will remain in motion and an object at rest, will remain at rest, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force (in which the NET force is not 0).

'nuff said. Thank you, Sir Isaac Newton.

By the way - I think the term "unbalanced force" is actually a description of this crap-weasel Jeepster.

If I am tooling along in traffic at 60 mph, then I am capable of doing the math when changing lanes. If a car is going alot slower than I am, then I will pull in front of it and continue forward at a constant rate of speed. If a car is going the same speed (or accelerating beyond) then I will decelerate enough to move behind.

How simple can that be. It's not like making coffee! Now that's tough!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The best night of my life!

What is it about beautiful women that turns men into big idiots? And why do I always tell a story this way with a useless, throw-away statement up front and then a back-fill of info to the present?

I met a girl back in February that I was completely smitten with. I had, prior to that, seen her a couple of times (October 22nd would be the first time) and never could get up the nerve to talk to her even though I wanted to very badly. (But I would have talked to her very badly…) Well it just so happens that we ended up attending the same function back in February and I was finally able to summon enough courage to talk to her.

I should have been suave and dashing. I can be that guy, sometimes.

However, I was confronted with the most beautiful girl I have ever spoken to, 2 big, brown eyes, a constant smile, and a voice that just made me wilt. So about all I could manage was to stammer out was “hobbitta hobbitta hobbitta…” and just nod my head a lot. Being the angel that she is, she pretended she wasn’t talking to a retarded child and gave me her business card and said we could email each other. “Hobbitta hobbitta hobbitta…” I replied with equal amounts of charm and wit.

Well, we have been sending email back and forth almost every (work) day since. I can be freaking eloquent in email, mind you! I have even managed to spend some time alone with her and managed to get out a sentence or two. This beautiful angel is from a completely different culture. She has only lived in this country for 7 years or so. Her English is great (she’s a translator for her company) so that’s not an issue. Plus I am (slowly and inexorably) learning her native language, but she’ll be dead long before I will be skilled enough to attempt a real conversation using it… In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a huge crush on this young lady and I would love to date her! But I am hampered by not only my fear of rejection but the fear of freaking her out enough that she “must desperately escape the crazy American”. So I have been a model of restraint.

So anyway, this past Sunday I was able to spend the whole day with her. We did some sightseeing around the state and just had a blast together. That evening I dropped her off at her crib. We stood there for a few minutes. I kept coming up with random shit to say to postpone the actual moment of having to say goodbye and reenter my drab and lonely life. But for the first time she also seemed to be doing the same thing! This went on for a couple of minutes, too.

Well, by this time, my brain knew what I was going to do (although it kept me out of the loop!) and had signaled my heart to go into a state not unlike arrhythmia, and also to push double quantities of blood into my brain thereby making a very loud swooshing sound at irregular intervals that pretty much prevented me from hearing anything she was saying. The brain also decided, at that particular moment, to completely seize my lungs. This had the bonus effect of de-oxygenating my blood - which means that what my heart was forcing into my brain at high pressure was pretty much a viscuous, useless goo. I felt like I was suffering from nitrogen narcosis!

So my brain is yelling (over the din in my head) “kiss her, you bastard” because it thinks that her brain is saying “why don’t you kiss me, you bastard!” However, somewhere in my system was a pocket of resistance sending out a warning that what her brain was really saying was “I hope that bastard doesn’t try and kiss me!”

In the meantime, appendages tingling and unable to breathe and with my skull beginning to pop sutures from the pressure, my eyes focused just enough to see this beautiful face bathed in the glow of mercury vapor lamps with these eyes looking at me with what, at the time, I reasoned to be a glimmer of curious hope - but in hindsight was probably just curiosity brought on by streams of putrid, high-pressure goo shooting out of my ears. Anyway, that was all it took.

A curious calm descended upon me as the brain first dispatched a “search and destroy” team to eradicate the resistance, and then it shut down enough nerves in my body to make me fall forward. To avoid crushing her, I managed to will enough strength into my left arm to gently reach out for her arm and impede my forward motion. That allowed me to impart enough energy to the side to swing my body wide and to the right. The grip that I had on her arm gave me enough of a pivot point to circle around and slam my face into her left cheek.

Upon arrival there, I became aware of several things. First, she smells really great. I don’t know if it is perfume or just her skin, but it makes me want to sleep in her closet! Second, what tactile nerves I had available in my left hand that my current stroke-like disorder had not damaged were making note of the feel of her skin. I don’t have anything in my lexicon to describe it, it was just that nice! But the fact that she didn’t seem to be recoiling in horror was a very large bonus to me. Of course, the fact that I probably had a death-grip on her arm may have kept her in check…

But all good things must come to an end. I just planted a nice little smooch on her cheek and then began the arduous journey back to earth. I won’t explain the mechanics involved with the return, but as my hand slid forlornly down her arm and through her hand, she bent her fingers just enough to check my progress for a brief second and I could feel just a little hint of a squeeze. Also, I think that she sent some type of electrical current as well, because 2 days later I can still feel her fingertips holding my fingertips.

I'm sure that by now you are completely disappointed. "Why didn't you kiss her?" you might ask... "Why didn't you knock her down and get busy?" the less restrained individuals are probably wondering...

The long and short is that I really do like this girl. I have hopefully discarded any of the emotional baggage that I have been carrying around for the last few years. I really want things to work out between us. I really hope that she’s not a freak once I get to know her. Hmmm… I wonder why there aren’t any more guys trying to date her? Maybe she is a freak? I hope to find out eventually.

But that’s the story of the best night of my life.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Semper Fi, Marine…

On the first day of August, my second cousin (whom I never had the honor of meeting) was killed in Iraq.

Here is the Department Of Defense release:

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. James R. Graham III, 25, of Coweta, Okla., died August 1 as result of a suicide, vehicle-born, improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Hit, Iraq. Graham was assigned to Marine Reserve’s 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Broken Arrow, Okla. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Graham’s unit was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Because we had never met, I’m not sure how to feel about it…

First, I feel guilty for even bringing it up. I have a problem with people using the sacrifices of others as a means of gaining personal sympathy. Let me say right now that any sympathy you might have towards me is going to the wrong place. Duh!

I feel sad because Sergeant Graham’s father is a good man and is probably (assuredly?) devastated. I know his grandfather (my mother’s brother/my uncle) certainly is. He's the one that called my mom earlier this week to tell her the news. I also think that all his friends and acquaintances are feeling this in ways that I am not, and my heart goes out to all of them.

I found this item on a Tulsa station's website:
An Oklahoman has become the latest casualty of war in Iraq. US Marine Sergeant James Graham of Coweta was killed by a suicide bomber. And that has his family and friends mourning the loss of a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice.
News on 6 Anchor Craig Day says Graham was a husband, a father of two. A man loved by his family. James Graham III trained with the Anti Tank Company in Broken Arrow.
The US Marine Corps says Graham was killed in the Al Anbar Province in Iraq. He was conducting combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The military isn't releasing any further details, but attacks on US troops are common in the predominantly Sunni Muslim western province that borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Graham lived in Coweta. He left Oklahoma for Camp Pendleton in January. Then it was on to Iraq to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The News on 6 talked with Sergeant Graham's family in Coweta back in January. They shared their concerns at that time about the dangers he faced. His mother said as an only child his deployment was tough for them, but they knew they had to be strong for him because he had a job to do.
And Graham's wife said being a US Marine is something he wanted to do. He wanted to serve his country. Graham was only 25.
Graham was killed while conducting combat operations near Hit, Iraq.
I believe he was casualty #1,805.

Is what I feel the same feeling that you hear survivors of battles and horrible accidents deal with? The guilt of having "made it"? Granted, I'm too old to fight, and I don't know that I would have to courage to do so.

I have on recent occasions been prompted to, when seeing a serviceman/woman, thank them. Sometimes I actually can summon the courage to do so. Sometimes I can't. Sometimes it seems cheesy. Sometimes it works.

I hope that maybe now I can do it more frequently, and with the honor these young men and women deserve.

And I will also start being a little more careful about how much gas I use...

In the meantime - To everyone "In Country", stay alert and keep your eyes open!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Rock Star:INXS???????

I can't take it anymore.

As a lad (well, sort of...) in the 80s, INXS was probably one of my favorite bands. In fact, I saw them on tour more than any other band. I posess every album they cut up to whatever came after "Live, baby live". The last time I did ecstacy was when they played New Orleans Auditorium on the "Kick" tour. That's also the last time I ever a) asked a girl I had never seen before to dance and b) danced in public. (Yes, I DO dance worse than a white man!)

Anyway, so what's up with this T.V. show?

A more honorable fate for the rest of the band would be to hire some cool guy (or girl) and write a bunch of new songs under a different band name. Let the music speak.

I have to say I have never watched this program (and I am so proud of that fact!) so I have no clue how it works. As near as I can tell, someone tells the "contestant" what song to learn, then they come back and see it. And apparently, people vote over the web? Hell, I don't know.

This show also seems to air about ever 3 hours, 7/week. It's always on.

Anyway, my curiosity has now got the best of me. Would someone tell me what's up?

My neighbors

About 4 years ago, the neighbors to my right moved out and a new family moved in. I had previously been made aware of the father at the local little league baseball field. He was an assistant coach on his son’s team, and he would dress out in a full uniform (pants, socks, shoes, hat and batting gloves) when the other coaches would just be wearing the team jersey. He was a source of good-natured ridicule by opposing team's parents as well as his own. One of my favorite things about him was when he would be first base coach. One of his team would make it to first, and he would constantly tell the kid to “get on off” - meaning, as it were, to take a few steps closer to second while the opposing pitcher winds up. I always hoped one of the kids would ask him “What is it? Get on or get off?” He drove a Frito-Lay truck (prompting us to dub him “Micro-Chip”). He was goofy, to be sure. But he was harmless.

His wife is a receptionist at my vet, and she is as nice as can be. The kids are not rude. In fact they are usually quite polite – which is rare these days! The daughter is pre-teen and has a neighborhood friend that makes them both look like the twins in “The Shining”. Ooooooooooohhhh…

They are conservative - as are most people in my neighborhood. But they were the only ones to put their "Bush/Cheney" sign up under the Christmas tree in the front yard after the 2000 election. (With a hand written note on top proclaiming "Thank God".)

But no one in that family ever waves back to me except for the wife. The son (he is in high school now) used to be very nice to me but now only speaks to me when he’s hitting me up for school money drives. The daughter tried to sell me some candy bars once, and I guess I ruined it with her when I made no purchase. (Hey, I don’t like candy bars!)

Then I finally found out what was up.

They think I’m gay.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, but I’m not. I swear!

Now I must point out that my brother lives with me. He has lived with me for a long time. A real long time… But that’s a different story. Anyway, my friend’s son (who goes to school with my neighbor’s son) told me that his reasoning is because I live with a guy who’s like my husband. My immediate reaction to that was “why do they think I’m the bitch?”

Proof that I am heterosexual:

  • I don’t dress like a gay man. Gay men have style and elegance – something that I am incapable of even when I try. I am a slob, plain and simple.
  • There are no flowers in my yard. There are probably gay men and women that don’t have flowers in their yards, but every gay man I am acquainted with have neat, tidy yards with nice flower beds. Mine – not so neat, not so tidy. But I do have a very large wisteria bush swallowing one end of my house and the trees in front of it.
  • Gay men don’t have girlfriends that spend the night all the time. Granted, I seem to be girlfriend poor at the moment, but the ex-girlfriends were quite the fixtures at my house whilst we were dating.
  • I fly an airplane and I am in a rock band. Okay, that’s not really proof of my sexuality – I just wanted to get those facts out on the table.

Anyway, I really don't know why they have taken this line of thought, and I guess it really doesn't bother me. At least I don't think it does... It just goes to show how narrow-minded people can be. That's small-town Mississippi in a nutshell. It also makes me very glad my parents made sure that I became educated at an early age.

I still wave at them when I drive by, and every now and then I am rewarded with a wave-back.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

My town

I live in a fair sized town in Rankin County, MS. We are (technically) a suburb of Jackson (the state capitol). However, I grew up in Jackson and as schoolkids we made Rankin County the butt of many of our jokes. Rankin County made people think of trailer parks, chicken farms, and small towns filled with not too bright people. (Now we just think of Pearl that way.) But we were quite provincial indeed. When I was in high school, the word went around that we’d better not get caught smokin’ dope in Rankin County because we would probably never be heard from again.

I moved to Rankin County about 12 years ago. My good friends (Randy and Sheila) had built a house about 5 years prior to that, and I was spending most of my time hanging out on the deck out there, so I decided to move out of Madison. (Yes, I had moved "uptown" from Jackson to Madison County. More on that, later.)

Keep in mind that at the time, I had a large headful of graying hair that went down to my butt. My idea of “dressing up” would be to put on some khakis and a shirt that might need to be ironed. I considered jeans to be okay for most social functions. If I didn’t have to go to the office (and sometimes when I did), sweats and tank tops were de rigueur. Oh – and I’m about the hairiest bastard you’ve ever seen. I sport a pelt.

So when I first moved to Rankin County, I would go walking in the evenings – usually to Randy’s house. On one occasion I decided to not take my usual pleasant back-street route, opting instead for the shorter yet busier stretch down Highway 80. It just so happened that I walked right in front of a cop car parked at a gas station. For the next 15 minutes, 4 different cruisers were “nonchalantly” driving up and down the highway, keeping a roving eye upon me. I don’t know if they were just trying to decide what they were going to arrest me for, or if they were scared of me or what. But they were concerned by my presence. I had just turned into the subdivision when Randy pulled up next to me (on his way home from work) and offered me a lift. At that point in time my “tail” had fallen behind and couldn’t see me as there was a building between us. I jumped in the car and we sped off to go drink beers. I have always wondered if the police department went into a frenzied panic looking for me – having given them the slip.

Well, I ended up buying Randy’s house. I spent so much time over there anyway, I think the neighbors didn’t realize that I didn’t already live there! Over the course of the next few years, I ended up cutting my hair and actually wearing slacks less infrequently. Of course, when I’m at the house I rarely get out of my flannels, but I am about comfort.

The police couldn't care less about me now. Maybe I don't look like trouble anymore, or maybe they just know who I am. They are also all very young.

Maybe I have finally become the object of our high-school derision - the "Rankin County Redneck"!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Wal Mart tips

My life must be great, because one thing that bothers me incredibly is when I am in the "Speedy Checkout - 20 Items or less" line at Wal Mart and someone has 25+ items in their cart. Too bad I don't let the little things bother me, huh?

Keep in mind that I am allowing you five items! But that is also because I am selfish and know that occasionally I will go through with 21 or 22 items. But personally, I draw the line at 23. That is only because I am an icon of self restraint! But I know that in my Super Wal Mart in Rankin County, there are many shoppers who do not deny themselves even the smallest of comforts, so the 23 to 25 range is my way of being generous and kind. Ahem...

Anyway, I have taken to counting out loud when some asshole sports a buggyful in front of me. I have also learned the more "high-strung" shoppers tend to react best to this simple action. (Note: "High-strung" is usually gauged by any one of several indicators. My latest experiment has proven that a combination of age in sixties, hair piled several inches, and green lycra is a winning combination.) Each time the scanner beeps, just say the number out loud.

At around eight, the connection has (usually) been made as to what is going on. By around fifteen, the glares develop into a stern "I'm not listening AND you don't bother me" interest in the items.

For best results, when you get to twenty-three (or whatever you have decided your personal minimum to be) you should change the tone of your voice to something like "petulant futility". The first number is spoken with a rising intonation, with the second number dropping about a fifth and then training off to finish out an octave down. "Twenty three-eee", "Twen-ty four-rrrr", etc... This usually gets the cashier to smile knowingly and possible laugh. This has the added bonus of making the targeted consumer break their seeming trance and glower straight at you - possibly even promoting verbal emissions.

The trickiest part is deciding when to launch the "sparkler", as it were... In my experience, it's best played when you have counted at least 5 items using "petulant futility" and there are at least five items left. There could be more items, but I save this for the last 4 or 5. My tone of voice then changes to a sort of "amazed curiosity". Like "how on earth did this idiot make it this far in life without being able to read signs or count?". Merely shift the inflection on each number to a neutral intonation, but the last syllable is raised about a minor third. Make them hear the question mark! "Thirty two?", "Thirty three?", etc... Oh - if you smile the whole time you do this, the cashier usually loses it around thirty.

I have succesfully used this tactic several times, and I have only had 2 people speak to me. Even then, they were just telling me to stop it. I did have one woman throw some curses my way once she was safely on her way to the door.

I hope that you will have continued success with this tactic. Think of me fondly if you get the chance to try this.