The Yellow Dust of Despair Approaches

Happy Shootin’ DudeWith only few short hours to go before almost certain indulgence in green beer, I felt it coming. Coming fast. Like a horse of the apocalypse with a burr under it’s saddle, that wait-a-second-I-feel-funny feeling. Within an hour of that first throat-tickle blossomed into a full fledged head cold. I’m famous for catching a bug on a holiday, but man that was fast. And the holiday wasn’t even a very big one. Thanskgiving? Sure. St. Patrick’s Day? Really?

That first day I wasn’t in a state to question the strangeness of my ailment. I was too busy just fighting the symptoms. And by fighting, I mean I was riding the green waves of Nyquil and talking to myself under the influence of “non drowsy formula” Sudafed. It wasn’t until the clouds of medication broke for a moment that I became aware of what was really going on.

My wife and I were off on an errand. As we drove down one nicely treed road, my wife commented on how pretty the trees were. I returned from green sea for a moment to say comment that they did look really nice. All covered with white flowers. Wait a minute. The trees! The damn trees are flowering!

When we got to our destination I yanked my Crackberry out of it’s holster and punched in the weather channel website. What I saw wasn’t pretty. It looked a little like this:

The Fearful Forcast

I swear I didn’t edit that graphic. Too much.

At this point, you probably don’t know what the big deal is. I didn’t either before I spent a year in the area. This sudden blast of reproductive dust is just the opening act. Looking back through the archives, it was just about this time last year that the yellow blizzard hit us. It coats everything. Lungs, cars, small woodland critters, big woodland critters. You name it. It forms sand bars on the road along the curb and permanently tints all carpeting everywhere. It’s evil. And it results in… more promiscuous trees!

Pollen On Da Hood
Half a day’s accumulation of happy powder on a car’s hood.

It’s a very good time to get out town. But I fear it’s too late! Those damn slutty trees.

(I take no responsibility for this post. I’m outta my head on Sudafed right now.)

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Make The Most Of Your Holiday: Get Sick

How To Be Idle at Amazon“Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.”

– Peter Gibbons, Office Space

I’m usually one of those annoying types that enjoys bragging about never getting sick to perpetually sniffly coworkers. As you would expect, I actually do catch a bug on rare occasions. I’m usually good for one stop-you-in-your-tracks illness a year. Invariably it happens right over the top of a major holiday. I don’t really know why, perhaps it’s the colder weather. But if I haven’t come down with something by New Year’s Day, the smart money says that I’m in the clear until Halloween.

As I write this, I’m wrapping up day six of a yet-unfinished bout with a lovely little case of bronchitis, and, added at the very last minute, special guest pink eye. So if the deep congested coughs weren’t off-putting enough, my zombie eye should do the trick. So that means this year’s ill-iday was Thanksgiving. It seems like such a waste, doesn’t it? The best food day of the year, and you’re stuck eating chicken noodle soup, crashed out on the couch watching the peerlessly poor programming that is holiday television. (Is it just me, or does TV just suck like a Dyson vacuum these days? I didn’t any loss of suction on the tube this whole week.)

But then it occurred to me that actually being sick on a holiday is the ultimate in efficiency from a work perspective. You kill two birds with one stone; a sick day and a holiday day, buy one, get one free! And you don’t get crap about being gone for being sick, because everybody else was gone for the holiday. You didn’t miss anything, and there will be no extra catch up work or email to return. And no accusations about faking it to go golfing or fishing. (Is there anything more irritating than that? It makes you want to want to sneeze on their keyboard and wipe your clammy, sickly hands on their mouse.)

But wait yet it gets better. Sometimes holiday festivities are great fun and you look forward to them. More often though, its the same drive to the same place to eat the same food and talk about the same things with the same people as you have for years. While you don’t probably loathe the experience, the thought probably crosses your time that you’d much rather play computer games in your underwear all day instead. Well, if you’re sick, you get to live that dream and with everyone’s blessing. They usual suspects don’t want to catch whatever nasty thing is causing your hacking cough and running nose. Everybody’s happy! (And you’ll probably find you cough a lot less while engrossed in a good game, than you would listening to the same family argument.) And triple word score if you get a doggie bag!

Ever notice that after a festive holiday you come back to work more worn out than when you left? You won’t have that problem if you spend 18 hours of the day in the dark green comatose land of Nyquil. In spite of the midnight coughing fits and afternoon headaches, I’ve never been more relaxed and more rested than I have been this week.

This all brings to mind a book I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) earlier this year, How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto. To sum it up in a few words, the book is advocates that everyone increase his or her indulgence in rest and relaxation, noting the decided lack of down time or personal time in modern western society. And it does this with a humorous tongue-in-cheek style. And as luck would have it, this book has a chapter on illness. In it, author Tom Hodgkinson, relates how illness gives one the opportunity to take a break, rest up and enjoy life. But as society evolves, this opportunity is being taken away by the abundance of convenient symptom-suppressing pills and the expectation that we’ll use them and get right back to work. Being sick on a holiday, however, completely removes the pressure to do anything productive. (Without digging too deep into the book, I suspect that readers of my blog will find it to be a great, entertaining read.)

I’m not naive enough to think that this book, or my mention of it will be enough to reverse the giant cogs of progress. People will get colds, they will pop some pills, and they will sniffle through their day in the office under the approving eye of management. All I’m saying is that you might consider hanging out in the doctors office the a day or two before a public holiday if you really want to have a good holiday. On second thought, just fake it, people will probably assume you are anyway!

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Atlanta’s Accidental Herf: Southern Georgia

Don’t Mess With Smokey, He WILL Eat You.If this post sounds a bit unusual, you should know it’s because I’m high. I’ve been smoking the worlds largest cigar all morning. It’s so big, I’m actually smoking it with a lot of people at the same time. A lot of people. Curious? The cigar is the southern part of the state of Georgia. And right now all of Atlanta is taking part of in a giant, unplanned herf.

As a guy who’s all about turning lemons into lemon vodka, I’ve decided as long as I’m puffing away on southern Georgia, I might as well review the experience. Hey, I’d do the same with any bad cigar.

Cigar Stats
Size: Nearly 700 square miles
Wrapper/Binder/Filler: Georgia swampland and Florida
Price Tag: $30 Million plus.

The Pre-Smoke
Nobody was aware that yesterday was the pre-smoke. And as such, I took no notes. There was nothing especially noteworthy about the air quality yesterday, and the sky was clear. Nothing I noted yesterday prepared me to be punched in the lungs with burning swampland this morning.

The Burn
As far as burns go, this sucker is more like a cigarette than a cigar. To say it burns fast is an understatement. This is one beast we wish would go out in the ashtray.

The Flavor
I seriously evaluated the scent on the way into the office. Since it’s impossible for me to know exactly where we are in the burn, I can’t give a third-by-third analysis. I definitely detected wood and peat and something tangy that I suspect was furry woodland animals. The wood part was almost pleasant (if a bit over powering) while the peat was kind of like inhaling Talisker single malt scotch through a straw. The cumulative effect is like a flying elbow to the sternum.

The Verdict
Don’t light fires in your state/province/principality/whatever. Be sure to stomp out your cigars, cigarettes and camp fires, douse them with water and/or urine and bury them. This is one herf you don’t want to attend, and one you definitely don’t want to be responsible for causing. And no, I don’t think the differences in your location will lead to a better quality of smoke. If you do start one, I will personally help Smokey the Bear maul your ass. (He has a passport, so don’t think you’re off the hook over there across the pond.) And taking time off work makes me grouchy, so I won’t be much for polite conversation either.

More information on the fire here, here, here and here. (Yes, I know, I’m goin’ to hell for this post. But if you laughed or cracked a smile, I’ll see you there. I’ll be the guy with the cigars.)

My Actual Cigar Reviews

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Atlanta’s Snowing Trees

No matter the source, yellow snow is gross. And inhaling it is hard on your sinuses.

Right now, Atlanta is in the midst of it’s annual yellow snow season. Cars that normally look black or blue are looking yellow and green. Storm drains are surrounded by small yellow sand dunes.

Is it a plague? It is if you’re allergic to Oak tree pollen. Yes, Atlanta is literally covered in tree pollen, it happens every year, and until a year or two ago, I would have never, ever believed it. I’ve spent the majority of my life in areas heavily populated by trees- the Pacific Northwest, and to a lesser extent, Malaysia- and I’ve never seen anything like this before. Now I wonder how many locations in the U.S. and around the world “enjoy” a yellow snow season.

UPDATE: My timing on this post couldn’t be any better, Atlanta is experiencing record pollen conditions!

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