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December 29, 2004

Dismembering the Tree

I'm gonna cut you up into little pieces!It was just like a scene from the Sopranos except I was dismembering a Christmas tree instead of Richie Aprile's body. I took my 11.8 amp DeWalt reciprocating saw and trimmed the bottom branches off. I unscrewed the tree stand bolts and dragged the dead body out onto the deck. I then cut the tree in three and threw the pieces off of the deck towards the fire pit below. Thoughts raced through my mind of the CSI team spraying a form of luminol that detects fir tree sap. I was doomed! Needles were everywhere! I Shop-Vac'ed for hours and mopped but the needles kept reappearing. Segue. I had this idea for a TV show. I think they should mix the Sopranos with CSI. It just bothers me to see these mafia guys kill off eachother so sloppily. The CSI team would have found Ralph Cifaretto's blood all over his kitchen where he was killed. Everyone knows that bleach can't hide blood stains from the luminol.

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December 25, 2004

Christmas Eve Drunk

You Asked for it!My benefactor Mister Richard Skrenta has inspired me to write tonite. My QWERTY fingers dance, fueled my Mr. James Beam and Coca Cola. My respected audience: Please do not expect a grammatical opera of prose as I write this evening pissed out of my skull...After making crank calls to many relatives and friends impersonating Russian boyfriends from highschool cyber-stalking or parking authority hot shots bitching about Mazda Miatas parked illegally, my Emmy Award winning impersonations beckoned for recognition. The last phone call of the evening portrayed four year olds donning Darth Vader voice encrypted helmets sounding like a birthday party at Chucky Cheese without earplugs. Meanwhile, yoda is in Palm Desert playing black jack until the wee hours of the morning. On we go. Here I sit in robe, drinking Crystal Geyser Sparkling Water hydrating my liver that begs for forgiveness. How romantic you say? Today was one of the most productive days I've had in awhile. I nailed the redwood batons over the siding repair job left over from this summer. At 5pm the job was complete. Some festive drinking needed to be started. After guzzling Jack Daniels and Coke the night prior and discovering my body's affinity to the beligerent accolades of white trashism, I thought I would stick to the recipe. Mr. Jim Beam was hiding in the corner. Sharon was impatient to open gifts. The fireplace was filled with the fallen redwood branches from the windstorm from the night before.
The lovely Sharon made appetizers with cucumbers, smoked salmon, philly cream cheese and a single caper. We ate so many, that our meat ravioli dinner was avoided due to our stomach's fullness. We telephoned all the members of our families as we got plastered upon our olive color couch. Back in Canada it was around -20 degrees Celcius freezing rain and snow storms. Meanwhile we were having troubles with the 68 degrees fareheit. The night was young so we headed over to our neighbors, Claudio and Kim's house to harrass them. Claudio concocked martinis comparable to the size of hurricanes in the French Quarter. This seemed to do it. We tried playing Trivial Pursuit but my brain was in a knot. Standing up to leave I tripped on some imaginary object on the floor and dropped like tree, face planting the floor. I didn't feel a thing. Merry Christmas and Happy Hangover!

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December 20, 2004

Here Comes Santa Claus...

Ho Ho HoChristmas is upon us. So, I organized a little field trip for us and our neighbors to ride the Roaring Camps Railroad Holiday Lights Train through Santa Cruz. After obtaining our tickets we boarded the train and grabbed some seats in the rear car. Live roving carolers were singing on an amplified sound system that blared throughout the train. There was a car with a bar serving hot apple cider sans alcohol. I was prepared for this tame train and brought my own travelling coffee mug full of Bailey's and vodka on ice. Trains and alcohol go together like milk and cookies. Just ask any hobo. One Christmas when I was in university, I took a train home to northern Ontario and we drank the beer car dry. Yes, Canadian trains have "Beer Cars." Back to Santa Cruz... After the train started rolling Mrs. Claus entered the train followed by Old Saint Nick himself in the flesh. Not wanting to miss this photo opportunity with the jolly fat man in red I invited him to jump onto our laps for the shot. As David took the photo, my hand was upon Santa's lower back, which I discovered to be quite moist! So, I called him on it and said, "Santa! You're all wet! What's with that?" He avoided my question and just Ho-Ho-Hoed his way on to the next wided-eyed kid. Meanwhile, my hand is covered in Santa juice. Forensics specialist Stephen kicks in. Is it sweat? The train is cool inside and half of the cars are just covered in tents with the cool ocean air blowing through them. I know about sweat in costumes. I used to work professionally as Freddie the Falcon, the mascot for ASCU Community Credit Union. I'll tell you, I lost about a gallon of fluids in 85 degree weather on a float in the Community Day Parade. There's no reason Santa should be sweating enough to wet his suit. If so, perhaps future Santa suits should be made of breathable Gore-tex. I know what you're thinking, but Santa wasn't riding the Nightrain and he was not covered in booze. There was no odor present. Curious, I followed the moist merry old man into the other cars as he greeted the children and posed for pictures. Most of the train's passengers were swilling the free cider and the rocking of the cars back and forth as we rolled along may have caused some spillage onto the red suit. I noticed no stickiness to the moisture, but the cider was watered down a bit. I've got a theory. I'm thinking, maybe this year is Santa's turn to get even. Maybe that gig at the mall didn't work out with all those little kids sitting on his lap and wetting their pants. Yup, Santa's gettin' even this year! You can depend on it!

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December 14, 2004

When the Headlights Hit Your Eye like a Big Pizza Pie...

You thought this image would be on the right. Didn't you?Last night Sharon made a very good homemade pizza with Trader Joe's pizza doe. She put prosciutto that we had in the fridge on it. Prosciutto is the best pizza topping. Pizza places don't provide it as a topping because it is so expensive. Our neigbor David who runs a gourmet pizza restaurant said that pizza is a great product to sell because it only costs about $1.25 to make. Which leads us to the nightmare I had last night. I did a google search on pizza induced nightmares but nothing substantial came up. Anyways, I'm delivering a pizza to a house on the old street we used to live as children, LaSalle Court with a lawn covered in white snow. Dennis Guerrieri is laying in the snow amongst wild deer who are rather inquisitive of the pizza I am delivering. I am wearing the hat of my former 1987 employer, "Papa Piccolino's Pizza." Don't laugh, this is true. We had very high quality red, white and green ski jackets (that we got to wear to highschool during the day) that everyone was envious of. A fleet of seven white Dodge Omnis mixed with their sibling Plymouth Horizons with automatic transmissions rested in the freshly paved stip mall parking lot on Great Northern Road. These cars were treated far worse than rental cars. Train tracks in Sault Ste. Marie's northwest end were atop high ridges on the road. A handful of the driver's enjoyed that late night run to Old Goulais Bay Road and the opportunity to get all four wheels in the air. It was like getting your wings. Other vehicle testing occurred on a regular basis, like driving the car at high speeds in first gear or shifting into reverse while travelling at 60 kilometres per hour in drive. For some reason these acts of god were not covered by the 60,000km drive train warranty. After about three years that business decided to call it quits. The young owners Arthur and Craig where great guys. Too much money was spent on radio advertising in the first year. Also the pizza market is a hard one to crack in the Soo. The cost was high for that lesson learned in that business venture. Back to the dream. So, Anthony Brunetta is to my left and I start throwing pieces of pizza to the deer who is catching them like an Australian shepherd would a frisbee on Bondi Beach. I ran out of pizza and the dear turned into a posessed demonic deer and puts Anthony into a headlock, choking him! I pass through that space between sleep and consciousness, disoriented not sure of where I was, or what side of the bed I was on. After realizing, I got up to drain the main vein.

One of our favorite neighbors came over tonight because he was looking for his bottle of Grey Goose vodka that he conviently stores in our freezer. After consuming a shot he told us how he hit a deer this evening with his white Toyota 4Runner on Glenwood Drive. He had no idea if the deer lived but there's a catering job's worth of damage to the front of the vehicle. Yesterday I noticed the one year old heated grips on my motorcycle are no longer working. Sharon accidently dropped on the kitchen floor, two pieces of her famous pottery collection. Broken pottery. Sad Sharon. Happy Holidays.

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December 10, 2004

Our Tree is Bigger than Your Tree

That's a big tree ya got there.I don't want to mention any names but one of our neighbors brought over a very large Christmas tree for us. After some trimming, it stood 16 feet tall. We wrestled it in through the side door and put it against the living room wall. Well after two nights we realized it was a bit too wide and it impeded the exit, in case of god forbid, a fire. So, after playing "Designer Guys" and rearranging the living room, the tree ended up in front of the window, thus giving us more room width-wise. David and Keiko, other neighbors, showed up at 6:14pm with enough sushi to sink a Japanese submarine. David forced me to drink a shot of Patrón and soon we were chopstickin' our way through rice wrapped eel and yelling Kampai! Sumo wrestling was unavoidable. More drinks were consumed and then I was on top of an 18 foot extended ladder mounting an angel, with a power cord coming out of her where the sun don't shine, to a 16 foot tree. The neighbors left because they had tree envy and the lovely Sharon and I resumed decorating the Mountain Charlie Tree with the lights, bulbs and ornaments from all of our travel destinations.

A few drinks later, I was up near the top hanging a red bow when the ladder fell off of the beam and fell into the tree with the window catching the tree, the ladder and myself. I clung to the ladder all puckered up screaming HEEEEELLLLP! I pulled the ladder off of the tree being careful not to step on a myriad of broken ornaments. As the tree propped itself back up I heard the tree's drink trickling down the furnace heat vent in the corner. I thought there must be some bad Karma associated with the tree that was given to us. Perhaps, you'll be seeing me volunteering at the St. Francis Soup Kitchen in Santa Cruz this holiday.
Public Service Announcment: Please don't drink and get on a ladder and decorate a 16 foot tree this holiday season. Later skater.

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December 7, 2004

Warming up the House

Today, Bogner Sheet Metal showed up at our house to start the installation of our new Trane propane furnace. It's going to take them about a week to complete. They are putting it into the crawl space under the house. This will free up the closet on the main floor that the old furnace was in. I plan to tear out the closet and open up the kitchen, doubling it's size. The ancient diesel/oil furnace that was in the house when we bought it was not up to code and it also had a crack in the combustion chamber causing an awful smell. We haven't used it since the summer when we ran out of fuel. I did some research and found out that our title insurance covers undisclosed items that were not permitted. After dealing with the county planning department and the title insurance company for two months, I finally won the claim and the insurance comany is paying for the new furnace installation which runs about $12,000. The catch is the deductable is $4750, but it's still a good deal. One of the issues of the new install is finding a place to put the cold air return duct. After talking with the project manager and learning about air flow and CFMs, I'm proposing we put it inside the lower kitchen cabinet with the grate opening on the wall on the back hallway. We're also adding extra heat vents to the office/bedroom, upstairs washroom and downstairs washroom in the guest bedroom. I've also obtained a 500 gallon propane tank. This is a big tank; most people have 250 gallons. My reasoning for the large size is to have the ability to purchase propane at a bulk rate in June during off-season when propane prices are low, and have enough gas to last all year. Owning your own tank is also a good thing because you can shop around for gas from suppliers without being locked into a contract. The large tank will also come in handy in the future when the stove is replace with a gas one. I also plan to switch the electric hot water tank to a propane powered hot water on demand unit resulting in power savings. By heating the house with the wood burning stove alone, we have almost burned through a cord of wood in three months. On really cold nights it just doesn't have the BTUs to warm the room. By next week that won't be a worry.

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December 6, 2004

Mountain Livin'

It's raining. It's the rainy season. We are up to almost 1 inch per hour right now. This is northern California's version of snow in the winter. I do not miss the snow back in Canada one bit. Sure snow is nice once in a while, but I guess it's the freezing weather I do not miss. Neighbors have told me every 5 years or so we do get a little bit of snow up here in the Santa Cruz mountains, but it only lasts for 2 days. I find the pitter patter of the rain on the roof of our house to be quite relaxing. Cleansing. Looking out the windows at redwood trees with the fog floating around them is quite a sight. Late at night I put on my motorcycle rainsuit and Tilley hat and take Justice for a walk. It's so much fun for me but not Justice. She hates the rain. If you put her outside to do her business while it's raining, she'll just stand on the porch out of the rain. When you take her for her walk in the rain, she squints her eyes as the drops hit her face. She appears to be pissed off and would rather be sleeping in front of a warm fire. Maybe its time I invested in a doggie rainsuit. Our neighborhood is situated on the side of a hill so water flow and drainage is taken seriously because the rain can cause mudslides. This past week the road manager has put out sand bags in high flow areas so that the asphalt on our roads does not erode. Last February during a heavy rain, a redwood tree fell just down the road 100 yards taking out the power to our neighbor's house and blocking the roadway. I was at home at the time and heard it fall. I was suited up in no time with my chainsaw in hand ready to help. A group of guys in the park with help from a backhoe had the road cleared in an hour. With the rain, comes broken branches that take out powerlines. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) are usually slow to respond and we've gone a without power for over 16 hours a couple of times. We light up the candles and huddle around the wood burning stove. Moments later you hear some of the neighbors' generators start up and they run all night long. Although having a generator is a nice luxury to keep your fridge running, I find the power outages a nice break from modern technology. Waking up the next morning in a 55 degree house and jumping into a cold shower as I cuss like a longshoreman is quite an invigorating experience.

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December 4, 2004


Here is something I didn't know... I learned last evening that one of my neighbors is a member of "E Clampus Vitus". They call them "Clampers". It's a men's fraternity that dates back to miners in the 1800's. Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, and Mountain Charlie McKiernan (my neighbor from years ago) were members. In modern day California they research and build historical markers. Philanthropically, they support widowed women and their children. Rumor has it they like to drink and carry on. I noticed that on the ECV Mountain Charlie 1850 Chapter's website, they are missing photos of some markers. Since the Mountain Charlie Big Tree is about 500 yards away from our house, I happen to have a good photo of the marker. So, I emailed it to them tonite. I told the webmaster I will make the effort to obtain the photos of the other 22 markers without photos on their site via my motorcycle. This is called... Snarfing (verb): To roam around towns and countryside, looking for a historical landmark or historical marker. I've done some snarfing in the past but I was not aware that I was snarfing.

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December 2, 2004

What's That Smell?

I'll have another rye and water!While riding a motorcycle you smell much more things compared to riding in a car. On Glenwood Drive I smell burning wood from fireplaces and the odd deer fart. While transversing highway 17 I mainly smell trees and brake pad dust. Over the past few months, I have encountered some smells that I thought were psycological flashbacks from my college days. [Oh, the good old college days.] This morning as I hopped onto highway 85 north I could smell the sweet smell of pipe tobacco. Memories of my grandfather Cecil came about. A prime sample of the ol' Olfaction and Memory study. He didn't smoke a pipe, but he sure did smoke the odd carton of DuMaurier cigarettes. Why am I smelling this smell? I cruise over to the left lane and look into a Chrysler LeBaron on my right and the gentleman driving is smoking a pipe. And having a dandy of a time at it! I was amazed that I picked up that odor at 64.8 miles per hour! Now this answers my question about the other flashback smells. Driving home on 85 and 17 a couple of times a week I pick up the odor of marijuana. Many people on this commute are on their way home to the hippy liberal city of Santa Cruz. (I'm not saying that everyone in Santa Cruz smokes weed nor am I against its medicinal powers.)
Conclusion: There must be a lot of people with AIDS, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Chronic Pain, and god forbid Glaucoma! driving home lightin' up a jay or diggin' into their dugout and enjoying the dried leaves and flowering tops of the pistillate hemp plant that yield THC and are sometimes smoked in cigarettes for their intoxicating effect.

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December 1, 2004

Motorcycle Love

Let's just get all the motorcycle talk out of the way... I commute 60 miles to and from work each day on my 1987 BMW K75S. That motorcycle is my number one passion, besides my wife Sharon. You're going to hear many stories about it in the future, so you should know about its history. This is my third motorcycle in 3 years. My first two bikes were a 1977 Kawasaki KZ400 and a 1980 KZ750. I bought the BMW for $2100 in August 2003 off of a guy in San Francisco. It had 72,000 miles on it. That's quite a bit for a motorcycle, but not for a BMW motorcycle. These 3 cylinder "Flying Brick" engines are know to go for over 300,000 miles without a rebuild. In the past year and 3 months I have put 20,000 miles on the bike. I've given it a major rehaul since I've had it. I installed heated grips right away. I've replaced the front fork springs with Progressive springs to give it a more sportier ride. I had Cal BMW replace the steering head bearings. It was painted metallic blue, was banged up a bit so I had it painted Classic Metallic Black by my new friend Jeff at Mountain View Cycle Paint. I chose this color from BMW's official paint colors for that bike. The splines on the rear drive shaft and final or bevel drive were worn so I brought the final drive and drive shaft to Kitchener, Ontario this past July to be rebuilt by Bruno's Machine & Repair. He rebuilt the parts to better than new BMW parts for less then half the price; $400 Canadian. It was interesting going through customs with a 25 pound chunk of metal in my suitcase. While I had the rear end off of the bike, I replaced the swing arm bearings. The old stock shock was not working that great anymore so I replaced it with a fully adjustable Wilbers Shock. When I ordered it they asked my weight, my wife's weight and my luggage weight. They tuned the shock to my riding style. This shock totally changed the ride of the bike. It now handles like a brand new machine. The bike is quite easy to work on and I do most of my wrenching myself, except for the big time consuming jobs. I had San Jose BMW replace the clutch and the rear main seals in September. This bike has a dry clutch. Through craigslist, ebay and Peter, I've obtained all the BMW luggage for the bike including full size integral cases, slim city cases and a 22 liter top case that attaches to the rear tail rack. I recently upgraded the the alternator from a 32 amp to a 50 amp one I bought on ebay. I bought Sharon an heated electric vest for those cool rides and the extra power was needed. I also installed a switch for the high altitude loop and and extra power socket for Sharon's vest. On Thanksgiving weekend Sharon rode down with me to Los Angeles and the front brake master cylinder started to leak. I ordered a new one and it will be installed this Saturday along with three new air intake hoses. The previous owners obviously were'nt as loving a I am. If you don't change your brake fluid yearly, water gets into it and starts rusting away at the master cylinder, which causes pitting. I've put so much time and money into this bike that I've decided I will never sell it. It's just not worth it. In the future I would like to purchase my dream bike, a new BMW R1200 GS. On that note, sweet dreams.

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I'm going public

I've decided to start blogging. Perhaps this is a redundant statement. The purpose of this blog is to inform, entertain and perhaps educate. I've been told I have "no filter" from people who know me. Now comes the hard part. How obscene can I be in my blog? Can I cross the line like I have done so many times before? I must come up with a set of rules first. Rule #1: Keep my wife happy. Rule #2: Be honest. Perhaps these rules may be a contradiction, but I'll give it a try. Stay tuned. I hope you enjoy my point of view.

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