Archive for May, 2005

Pot holes and pitfalls on the road to becoming the man in the designer jeans

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Milbarge has complained a time or two that I pick on him. For some reason unknown to me, Milbarge doesn’t reciprocate, though it’s not for a lack of material. Curiously, no one else really gives me a hard time either, so I’ve been forced to take on that role myself. In fact, the only time of which I am aware that people made fun of me is the time I revealed that I purchased products for my hair and skin and that, yes, I shopped at the make-up counter.

Apparently, that post convinced a lot of people that they didn’t really know me. They were confused, yet comedically (probably not a word) inspired to learn that the Fitz-Hume they thought they knew was merely an illusion, merely a construct. I’m glad that my life provides a source of amusement for everyone, but I want you to know that I wasn’t always like that. I wasn’t always the man destined to wear designer jeans. Once, long ago, I was a real person, not just a blogger who liked to use a bit of gel in his hair. A photo or two of my Bronco would probably do more to convince you of that than anything I could write, but I keep forgetting to photo the old Bronc. Thus, I have resorted to words to counterbalance some of the misconceptions about me that you might have based on that silly Clinique counter post.

The summer before law school I had to find a way to pay rent and survive until my loans and scholarship money showed up. The metropolis that was my law school town was not really a hotbed of economic activity. So I did what I had to do. What any young man straight out of college with a B.A. with Honors in Spanish and Poli Sci would do. I took a job shoveling manure. Literally. I worked for a coliseum / arena complex that featured horse shows, tractor pulls, county fairs, and rodeos. I wore Wranglers ($19.99 at the Wal-Marts), boots, and a company t-shirt. I started sweating at 7 a.m. and didn’t stop until well past dark. I smelled like a horse blanket and had the world’s worst farmer’s tan. My job consisted of the aforementioned manure shoveling, driving a tractor, hauling trash, watering arenas, and delivering hay, straw and feed to the stables. Not the most intellectually challenging work, but I got to work out of doors, I made enough money to survive, and I was constantly surrounded by horses. Contrast that experience with the one I was to begin a few months later in which I declined to accept the meager intellectual challenge advanced, I rarely saw the light of day, I was paid nothing, and I was constantly surrounded by asses. Well, they were similar experiences in that each involved shoveling shit.

Many years before that, I dropped out of college (long story involving a broken heart that we will not get into here), moved to southern Colorado, and took a job as a packer for a hunting outfitter. Yes, you read that correctly. I quit college, throwing away a career, scholarship money, readily available booze, and Big 12 football to live in the wilderness with a half-blind horse, 10 grumpy mules, and a tent full of fat, smelly, jackass hunters. I traded sorority parties for saddle sores, and tequila shooters for a Winchester 30-30. And it was fine, for a while. Actually, I had a very good time in the San Juan Wilderness. My daily routine consisted of cooking breakfast for clients, saddling my horse, and retrieving the mules that had wandered during the night. After that, I would load the pack string with whatever trash or equipment needed to be packed out, load the hunters into their saddles, and lead the animals out of the wilderness and back to the trailhead. The next morning would see me retrace the trail back to camp, this time bringing in new supplies and new hunters. That was my life for several months. There were no hair products to be found in camp. No Starbucks. No bronzer. Just a beat up cowboy hat, chaps, bug spray, and a pair of deer skin work gloves seared black from a lantern fire I foolishly tried to extinguish with my hands.

Let me tell you that as much fun as it is to ride a horse every day, 12 hours in the saddle can wear on your body. Twelve hours a day for 4 months is also a lot of time to think about your life. And when I began to think, I realized that I did not want to end up a career cowboy, broke down and broke at the age of 30. So, at the end of elk season, I packed up my truck and headed back to Texas. Older? Yes. Wiser? Perhaps. Bowlegged? Yep. Did I get a facial and a massage as soon as I returned to civilization? No comment.

Coffee’s not coffee! Coffee is sex!

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

1. Apparently, Milbarge’s “sabbatical” is over, but he’s decided to post at Soupie’s BBQ & Daycare instead of here. That’s okay. If and when he tries to return, he’ll find his password will no longer give him access to BTQ. That’s right, I’ve changed the locks. Nobody puts BTQ in the corner. Nobody (!).

Given his dedication to our little enterprise lately, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a Summer of George for the Daycare. A smattering of spindly, bookish JB girls and one guy sitting on the couch, shirtless, eating a block of cheese.

2. I don’t pay attention to the news so much anymore, but I recently saw a headline somewhere that the world is outraged because some pictures have been published of Saddam in his undies. The horror, the horror. I would not have shed a tear for Mussolini when they strung him up from the lamp post, I don’t think Pinochet should have gotten away with mass murder just because he managed to live to a ripe old age, and I can’t find it in me to give a damn about “the timeless art of seduction” as practiced by a monstrous butcher.

3. Have I mentioned that Mr. Two Weeks Vacation (whose office is conveniently located directly across the hall from mine) has not worked a weekend since March? I was here from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. yesterday. When I checked my messages last night, there was a voicemail from this joker asking me if I would be interested in helping him make some repairs on his 4-Runner some afternoon this week. Serenity now! Serenity!

4. I have only 2 more weeks of work before the end of our legislative session. Of course, I’ll work the equivalent of 4 weeks during that time, but after that it’s smooth sailing and 40-hour weeks for a year. Once the session winds down, I hope to shift my schedule to a 4-day work week and use the long weekends to do some traveling during the summer and lots of snowboarding in the winter. As a corollary, how much coffee can one man drink? I used to be a 2 cups a day kind of guy, but lately I’ve found myself drinking 7, 8, even 10 cups of coffee a day. And not just in the mornings. I’m drinking coffee all day long – when I wake up in the morning, in the shower, first thing when I arrive at the office, etc. I drink coffee during my lunch break and in the afternoons. I’ve even taken to drinking coffee in the evenings even though it keeps me up late. I don’t know what’s happening to me. It’s like I am addicted or something. I would try and quit, but it’s just so good.

5. I decided to scrap the original draft of my post opining on the difference between Mexican food and Tex-Mex. I’m going to churn out a new draft today and have that up by early afternoon. I am also working on the musical version of my blogroll and I’ll try to have that up some time this week. I know this is not the stuff a real writer would spend his time on, and I know what you’re thinking, “Since when are you a writer?” My answer to you is “Writer? We’re talking about a blog.

6. Finally, I have some free time today, so if there are any topics on which you’d like to see a post, please leave your request in the comments or send me an email. For a variety of reasons, I’m thinking clearly lately, but my motivation to come up with new topics? Of course! Absolute zero.

Fitz-Hume 411: I decided to break from tradition and actually post something

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

What I’m doing at work: Working. I’ve been working on a lot of bankruptcy and tax issues. Not my forte – but then I don’t really have a forte – but I think it speaks well of my previous work that the powers-that-be have seen fit to throw some time-sensitive and politically sensitive issues my way. Of course, it could be that I was assigned these projects because I was the only person busy enough dumb enough to still be here on a Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. when the realization hit that we actually needed to address these issues. I’m in the office so much that the janitors know me by name now. You know you’ve spent too much time at work when the janitor knows who you are and your dog doesn’t.

What I’m doing away from work: Sleeping (when I can). Running (when I can). Trying to finish TP’s Tex-Mex post (when I can).

I’ve been fooling with my new phone. I discovered recently that there is video feature in addition to the still camera. I can record up to 15 seconds of video, and it even records sound. I’ve been experimenting with this new found feature. So far, I’ve only made movies featuring myself, but I hope to expand the cast of these short features in the near future. Did I use the word “feature” enough in this paragraph?

Oh, and I had the “good fortune” to attend a fondue party on Friday night. You know, because after a 12-hour day all I want to do is party like it’s 1979.

What I’m listening to: Eric Clapton Unplugged

What I’m watching: The Shield because it’s the only thing on at 11:00 p.m. when I’m dead tired from running but too tired to sleep

What I’m reading: The Complete Book of Abs

What I’m thinking about: Taking a trip the hell away from here as soon as the session ends. Milbarge suggested that he and I do a Sideways-inspired tour of Napa. Yeah, because drinking wine and getting my ass kicked by some chick from California sounds like the perfect way to relax. Of course, that assumes that I’ll play the role of the Thomas Haden Church character.

What I’m not thinking about: Milbarge frantically emailed me today to report that Howard Bashman moved BTQ down his blogroll. Color me unsurprised.

Shout outs: Congratulations to McP and Dylan and all the other newly-former law students. Also, I’m relieved that THL got a clean bill of health last week. Good for her!

Elmer Fudd and Other Looney Tunes

Monday, May 9th, 2005

Via Mr. Longtime Reader:

Here are two very disparate items that have nothing in common except that they caught my eye and I thought I’d share a thought or two about them.

First, this story about efforts in several states to shut down a company, Live-Shot, that offers hunting over the internet, via remote-controlled guns. The guns are set up, the quarry wanders by, and a mouse-click fires the gun. The guns and animals are in Texas, and users have to register with the site and have a valid Texas hunting license (which they can get online). But now several states are trying to ban virtual hunting. I’ll leave it to the law students to debate the possible Commerce Clause challenges to a state law regulating internet sites. (Texas is looking to ban remote hunting within the state, which is can probably do, but there’s no reason the site of the hunt couldn’t be moved elsewhere, even overseas.) Note that Congress is mulling a nation-wide ban. The Post trots out a former hunter who is now quadriplegic, who uses his mouth to manipulate a joystick for remote hunting. He says it would be impossible for him to go out in the wild to do actual hunting. What I found odd about the story is that it mentioned a couple of times that the NRA and other similar groups were supporting the new laws. The story noted that it was odd to see hunting-friendly groups like the NRA in alliance with hunting-unfriendly groups like the ASPCA. An NRA person explained the group’s opposition as based on the sporting aspect of hunting — the experience of carrying the gun, being outdoors, and giving the animal “a fair chance.” Of course, hunters use blinds and long-range scopes and all manner of equipment that make them just as remote and hidden as someone on the web, but never mind. I won’t get into how “fair” hunting is. (I’ll note, though, that I don’t categorically oppose hunting. I just don’t like people touting it as a fair fight.) But the story never mentions another obvious reason that the NRA might oppose virtual hunting: It has quite an interest in promoting non-virtual hunting. If you’re logging on to a hunting website, you’re not (necessarily) buying guns. What’s the point in opposing the DC gun ban if DC residents can hunt from the nation’s capital? Heck, we might as well ban guns altogether if the sporting reasons for owning them aren’t necessary! (To be clear to any thick-headed readers, I’m not proposing this, merely making a rhetorical flourish of what might be the NRA’s big fear — or at least the slippery-slope argument it might make.) It seems beyond obvious to me that the NRA would want to promote live-action, tactile, real-gun, non-virtual hunting, and would worry that internet hunting is a threat to that. So why wouldn’t the Post point that out? A sidenote: I wonder if the impression I’m attributing to the NRA is an accurate one. I wonder if, aside from quadriplegics, the people who use the web to hunt aren’t actually more likely to be hunters in real life as well. After all, if you’re against hunting for ethical reasons, I can’t see you being okay with a system that makes hunting more disembodied and less bloody (from the “shooter’s” perspective). My guess is that most of the people who would virtually hunt would do it in real life when they can. So the web site scratches that itch when they can’t get away from their computers. But that’s just a hunch. Maybe “real” hunters would be disdainful of point-and-click hunting. I’d be happy to hear from hunters (actual or virtual) who’d like to share their thoughts. My tentative take is that I’m opposed to the new regulations, partly because I don’t see internet hunting as any worse than “real” hunting, and partly because I see parallels to virtual sex, and don’t want to see that banned.

Hey, what do you know — there was something that tied these stories together, because the other story is Michael Jackson, someone who should by all means be limited to mere virtual sex. (I agree with Jonah Goldberg that this is a real news story, but have to disagree with his apparent conclusion that it could only happen in Hollywood.) Slate’s correspondent was back at the Jackson trial last week as the prosecution wrapped up its case and the defense started calling witnesses. Go read that account to understand just how bizarre and audacious the defense is. In short, they’re portraying Jackson as so emotionally stunted and child-like that it’s almost reasonable that he shares his bed with kids (i.e., what’s wrong with two kids having a sleep-over?!). They certainly aren’t hiding from the fact that Michael has had more boys in his bed than the Paris Hilton. (I mean the hotel, of course. I wouldn’t make such a cheap-shot joke at the expense of the “actress”!) Of course, such a crazy defense theory seems only fitting in light of the equally odd prosecution theory. And it doesn’t sound like the prosecution is scoring any knockouts in its cross-examinations of Jackson’s defenders, including parents who saw nothing wrong with letting their kids sleep with Jackson. While it might be a little off-putting to the jury to flat-out accuse these folks of pimping their kids, the alternative explanation (that these people are more delusional than a guy printing “DeLay for President” bumper stickers) is hardly better. If I were the prosecutor, I would go ahead and call them out for what they are. If the jury doesn’t think these people are looney tunes, at least you’ve led the horse to water. So the prosecutor ought to be asking every one of these parents, “So how often does your son sleep with you? Why do you think it’s okay for him to sleep with a 40-year-old weirdo but not his own parents or uncles or neighbors? How many other strange men do you let your son sleep with? Or is it only the ones who shower you with money?” Now, for the defense attorneys out there, I’m not saying that the jury should convict Jackson of molesting Boy A just because the parents of Boys B, C, and D are possibly giving Jackson further opportunities to molest. But just because the defense puts these people on the stand, they don’t automatically get to be treated as if what they’ve done is normal.

A hoax or a new Lifetime Network reality series?

Monday, May 2nd, 2005

So, another Monday. Another week begins. Another week where my email inbox is filled to capacity with gems like this one from a “long time reader” of BTQ. What part of sabbatical does he not understand?

Worst Title Pun Ever: Bride of the Prankees

I was following the story of the missing/runaway bride-to-be pretty closely. I have a friend who runs in that area a lot, and I’m glad there aren’t any jogger-snatchers there. And I’m glad Tom Smith was wrong on this one (although not on the self-defense tips). So it’s good that she’s safe and now her fiance can decide if he still wants to marry her and then it’s time for the tv movies.

But is that the end of it? Some people are saying that the Bride should be charged with something, like filing a false police report, or that she should have to reimburse the police for the cost of the search. I’m not sure that’s the best idea. The last thing I’d want is for a family in a similar situation to hesitate to call the cops because they were worried about having to pay for the search.

Others, of course, will weigh the incentives a different way: they say we should punish “hoaxes” like this to dissuade others from doing the same thing. I don’t know how great the risk is of that. The reason these stories are newsworthy is because they happen so infrequently already. The people who perpetrate hoaxes are usually at the end of their mental rope. It’s easy to discount pre-wedding jitters when it leads to a panic like this, but clearly this woman has some issues. On the other end of the scale, there’s someone like Susan Smith, who at first blamed her kids’ deaths on a black carjacker. My guess is that the kind of person who is loopy enough to get to that point isn’t thinking clearly enough to worry about having to pay for some search dogs.

Look, I’m not saying there’s nothing wrong with greyhounding off to Vegas when it’s reasonably foreseeable it will launch a massive search. I don’t think a community service obligation is uncalled for. Perhaps even a criminal charge that the judge can “take under advisement” if she stays out of trouble. But I don’t see a need to punish this woman too harshly.