Massive Mustard Mess

Transcript (but it’s better if you listen)

When the Texas economy crashed in 89 I loaded my pregnant wife and 3 small children into our tiny little Isuzu and drove cross country to San Diego California where I knew people, had family and friends and hoped I could find work in construction.

We had no money of course so we packed food in the trunk and in coolers and planned on driving straight through and fixing food along the way.

Late afternoon somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona we stopped to make some sandwiches. As I got the mustard out I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the bottle was swollen to twice its normal size, having been in the trunk, in the summer, driving from Texas through the great southwestern desert.

When I opened the mustard about half of the bottle came out, part fine vinegar mist and part messy mustard spray. All over the roof of the car, the windshield, the driver’s window, and every part of the front of my body from my waist up including my glasses and my hair.

It took a while to clean everything up. I chose not to have mustard on my sandwiches after that. When I sold the car years later there were still mustard stains on the headliner.

And the happy ending? Sorry. When I got to California construction crashed but it boomed in Texas. And we’d already moved. Eventually I found work in information technology, working with computers, so maybe there is a happy ending after all because that’s the work I really love.

See you next week.


Not the Longest Joke in the World

You’ll find that elsewhere by Googling that phrase, ‘the longest joke in the world.’ That version, though an interesting story, is nearly 11,000 words long, most of it unrelated build up, not joke setup. Mine is 230 words, or about 2% of the original length. For this punchline, it’s still too long.

Coming down a desert dune in his SUV a guy sees something strange at the bottom: a huge snake coiled around a long pole.

He slides to a stop and looks through the window at the snake, which looks back, and then, to his surprise, asks him to put down his window.

“I won’t bite,” the snake says.

Must be the heat. He puts the window down. “What’s the deal? Why are you out here?”

“My name is Nate. I’m the guardian of this switch. If it’s pushed, all mankind dies.”

“Well, that seems dumb,” the man replied.

“Yup. But I know some not dumb things. Stick around and I’ll teach you the secrets of immortality, unending wealth, and how to put a USB stick in the right way the first time.”

Curiosity gets the better of the guy. But hunger gets the best of him.

“How about I run to town and get some snacks first?”

“It’s that way,” pointing with its tail.

He races off, gets his stuff, and comes back. Barreling down the dune, the brakes fail on his SUV—and he’s headed right for the switch of doom. As he fights the steering wheel he realizes that he can pass the switch on the left.

Then he realizes the snake is sunning itself right there.

Of course, he kept going because he figured, better Nate than lever.


Binge In, Binge Out

In the past 75 days I’ve read 50 books. I’m up to a book a day during the past week.

For the first 6 weeks I was waiting for minor surgery on my right foot, and the past month, healing from it. Reading is a great way to pass the time when you can’t be on your feet, walking, biking, digging in the yard, all that. Better than watching soaps.

I’ve also been writing like mad. Finished the first draft of Love Runs Out. Outlined (and today, started) the second Jake Calcutta story.

More words in has always equaled more words out, for me.


Too Old to Travel But Jake is Jake

I begged Best Beloved to add an extra week to this trip north.

If I hadn’t done that, we’d have left for home this morning.

I’m having a hard time finding the joy. I made a bunch of changes to my online life the weeks before we left home and I’ve found myself more than bored.

I haven’t been bored in 15 years.

Things are complicated by an injury to my right foot that makes walking excruciating. Otherwise I’d take long walks every day, enjoying the beauty.

There’s always going for a drive. In my socks.


Jake Calcutta’s first story is going well. Fully outlined. I’ve written 1,500 words so far, and that’s just quickdraft. I’m pleased with how it’s coming out, though it’s not the Edgar Rice Burroughs clone I was hoping for. Maybe I’m not Edgar Rice Burroughs. Maybe I’m me.