Burning daylight

Today started and ended well, lightly toasted slices of metaphorical bread comprising an actual shit sandwich.

On arising I recalled that we had a huge slab of meaty Ranch Foods Direct bacon in the fridge, so breakfast included coffee, eggs over easy, American fried potatoes, buttery English muffins and great thick rashers of pigmeat. Your basic heart-attack special, but I like it.

My plans for the workday hinged on breaking a piece of new technology to harness, but despite a hearty breakfast I couldn’t even get my rope on it, much less my brand.

Being something of a persistent cuss — you may call it “obsessive-compulsive,” I call it “persistent” — I kept working at it, trying first this and then that and finally the other, all the while taking copious notes on each fresh dysfunction with an eye toward eventually tattooing same on someone using an icepick and ball-peen hammer, with a sack of wormy dogshit for ink.

Thus the hours passed and the daylight faded, and the technology breezily countered my every move. By late afternoon, which saw the mailperson deliver an overdue check for services rendered that was redeemable for slightly less than half the expected quantity of Dead President Trading Cards, I was at a rolling boil, hissing like a teakettle full of vipers, blistering steam boiling out of both ears.

Herself and I had earlier scheduled a joint birthday dinner with friends, so I stuck my head in the freezer, counted to a thousand in Irish, and off we went to The Blue Star, where the four of us ate all manner of good things while discussing music, metaphysics and literature. Also, we solved every last one of the world’s problems save mine (you’re welcome).

Now I’m hardly pissed off at all. But tomorrow is another day.

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23 Responses to “Burning daylight”

  1. Larry T. Says:

    A nice meal with friends makes all the difference. My tech challenge today will be limited to figuring out how to get the top down on the VW Golf Cabriolet the folks at Avis provided last evening so I could fetch my friends from the Catania airport. The sun is shining this morning and it should be close to 70 F, so topless motoring seems right. We’ll head out to the old autodromo where the Targa Florio used to go, then over to the ghastly commercial center so they can stock up on goodies to take back to Iowa. We’ll cap things off with dinner here

    • khal spencer Says:

      Ooh. Targa Florio. Good race, but I recall they killed it off after killing a few fans.

      Reminds me of when I owned a couple of Porsches, i.e., black holes for the bank account. Wonderful cars to drive, but I finally sold the last one when I admitted that the money I spent on their upkeep was more than what I spent on all the bicycles in the garage, which give me far more pleasure than racking up speeding tickets and watching my wife and late mother in law seethe over my spendthrift ways..

      • Larry T. Says:

        It was a gorgeous day and we got to drive a lap around the circuit (at passenger car speeds of course!) as well as pick oranges and lemons from the trees outside the circuit. Rebuilding work continues though (it’s Sicily after all) at a slow pace. I concur with your fast car situation, it was the same for me with motos…too expensive and dangerous to my driving license.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Good points, Larry. But after moving to New Mexico, I couldn’t resist getting a gas powered two wheeler. But I bought a motorcycle (the K1100RS) that doesn’t ask to be ridden stupidly. ‘Cuz I know if I bought a crotch rocket, I’d ride it that way and auger into the nearest tree.

        Happy B’day, Patrick!

  2. Libby Says:

    Happy Birthday, Patrick!
    A screwed-up paycheck and uncooperative technology, uggh. I hope today is a better day.

  3. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    There you go again painting a short video with words that won’t leave my head for awhile. Patrick, standing in the kitchen, teeth clenched, check in one hand and the envelope in the other, hair standing on end, face beet red, steam hissing out of his ears, and ass puckered tight enough to pinch cut railroad spikes. Got to be a cartoon in there somewhere. Wish I could draw.

  4. Andy Bohlmann Says:


    You should get a real job….like me.

  5. Larry T. Says:

    As my wife says (besides that other thing) “Just say NO to real jobs!”

  6. Steve O Says:

    Stumbled onto this article in ’99. Won a ton of awards. And 14 years later, basically still applies.


  7. Steve O Says:

    Congrats on yet another successful 365.256363 day, 583825190 mile, 66610 mph lap around the big ball of fire

  8. Debby Says:


    I just noticed you posted this on March 21. That’s my birthday too! So happy birthday to both of us. It was just an ordinary work day for me. I unretired back in September and I’ve been toiling away in the cube farm ever since. I miss the free time but those paychecks sure come in handy.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Happy birthday, Debby. And yes, paychecks do come in handy, especially when they have the right numbers on ’em. Mine go walkabout every now and then (one of the many perils of freelancing). This time three of them did, all at once. The keening from Herself was deafening, profane and occasionally repetitious.

  9. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Thanks to all for the (early) happy-birthday wishes. I should’ve made clear that it was a group deal, a celebration of three March birthdays — Herself’s, a friend’s, and mine, which doesn’t come around until March 27. So I’m a wee bit shy of completing that long lap around the sun.

    • Patrick O'Brien Says:

      Happy B’day Patrick! You are the same age as my “little’ brother. Sandy and I used to ride my age in miles every year. Last time we did that I was 62. I guess we need to start again before things get too advanced. That or do it in two days instead of one. How about a century when the time comes? Yea, right.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Patrick, I think I may have to dial my birthday ride down to kilometers. Maybe centimeters. I haven’t been in such appalling condition since the 1980s, when the dumb dust/dry martini party package was still in fashion. At least I’m not sleeping under anyone’s car these days.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Kilometers? Why didn’t I think of that? 64K this year. Always wanted to go metric anyway.

    • Steve O Says:

      March 27, 1915, the woman known as “Typhoid Mary” was put into quarantine in a cottage in the Bronx. Her name was Mary Mallon, and she was a large and fiery Irish-American woman about 40 years old. She worked as a cook in and around New York City, and every household she worked in seemed to suffer an outbreak of typhoid fever. Typhoid is caused by a form of Salmonella bacteria, and is usually spread by contact with human or animal waste. It was common on battlefields — it may have killed more than 200,000 soldiers during the Civil War — and in poor and unsanitary housing conditions, but it was rarely seen in the wealthy households like the ones where Mallon worked.
      The first outbreak associated with Typhoid Mary occurred in 1900, in Mamaroneck, New York. She had been cooking for a family for about two weeks when they started to become ill. The same thing happened the following year, when she took a series of jobs in Manhattan and Long Island. She helped take care of the sick, not realizing that her presence was probably making them worse.
      In 1906, a doctor named George Soper noticed this strange pattern of outbreaks in wealthy homes. He went to interview each of the families, and found that they had all hired the same cook, but she never left a forwarding address when she moved on to other employment. He finally tracked her down after several cases in a Park Avenue penthouse, so he interviewed her. She didn’t take it well, and swore at him, and threatened him with a meat cleaver when he asked her to provide a stool sample. He finally called in the police and had her arrested.
      Urine and stool samples were taken from Mallon by force, and doctors discovered that her gall bladder was shedding great numbers of typhoid bacteria. She admitted that she never washed her hands when cooking, but she didn’t see the point, as she was healthy. No one had ever heard of a healthy carrier of typhoid before, and she refused to believe that she was in any way sick. They wanted to take out her gall bladder, and she refused. They demanded that she give up cooking, and she refused to do that too. They confined her for a while and put her to work as a laundress for the Riverside Hospital, and in 1910 — after she promised to give up cooking and only work as a laundress — she was released. It wasn’t long before she changed her name to Mary Brown and took a job as a cook. For the next five years, she stayed one step ahead of the doctors and the law, spreading disease and death in her wake, until they caught up with her on Long Island. Authorities placed her in quarantine on North Brother Island in the Bronx for the rest of her life, and she died of pneumonia in 1938.

  10. John Dallager Says:

    Early Birthday Bests to you then OG!! You always were ahead of your time! 🙂

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