Not My Blog
Friday, September 27, 2002
In the Complaints Department: I had a backlog of Doonesbury, Foxtrot and Bizarro comics to get through at U-Comics.com. When the page loaded, I saw an entirely new design, including a new "My Comics" fee-based comics delivery option. I also saw something that set off my Irritation Sensors so strongly that I stopped surfing to write a letter of complaint. U-Comics' brilliant new marketing strategy is to include a feature list of comics grouped under "Men" and "Women." Men, apparently, read comics such as Tank McNamara and Dick Tracy. Women, did you know, read Ziggy and For Better and Worse and Cathy.
I waxed brief and eloquent: how the FUCK DARE THEY tell me that comic strips are gender-specific? What did they hope to gain by such pointless, brain-dead segregation? Did they want to alienate their sentient, non-sexist readers?
A straightforward response from the webmaster came within hours: the Men/Women lists were a new marketing tactic, based on reader surveys -- and so far, only two complaints (including mine) had been received. "Yours was much nicer," said the web contact. I wrote back a letter of thanks for the reply, that for the time being I'd stick with U-Comics, and that was that (although I suggested that "Low Blood Sugar" was a far more suitable category for Cathy, Ziggy, Family Circus, etc.).
If this sort of marketing inanity gets up your nose the way it does mine, then go to U-Comics.com and register your displeasure. Don't take it out on the web team -- blame it on the Marketing twits. At the very least you'll have the pleasure of getting a well-written response.
Thursday, September 26, 2002
It was a gesture that I know will win warm-hearted approval from Rachel R., Jackie A. and Jean F. It's one that, should he hear of it, will make my father's eyebrows disappear over the vast horizon of his forehead, make him snort in absolute goddamned disbelief, what a dummy kid he's got, what the hell were we thinking? kind of way.
It, the gesture, was Nik buying Breezy, and me trucking her from Reno to Victoria. A 22-year-old, well-used, skinny half-Arab mare. Poster-lovely from the muzzle to the withers, but thereafter resembling a hatstand stuffed into a too-small white bag. One deformed hipbone, jutting out permanently. One spavined left hock. A tail that could have supplied wigs to Phyllis Diller.
So why is Breezy, foaled in Fallon NV, working for stray alfalfa at a trail-riding stable in Reno, now a venerable Victorian retiree? Why did Nik fork out cash for the old dame? Partly it was because Nik, Dani and I really fell in love with the mare: she was bomb-proof around kids, loaded and unloaded into the trailer without complaint, and had winning ways.
I was a goner the first time she dozed off with her muzzle resting on my shoulder, one evening in Carson City. She liked attention when it was given to her, but never demanded it. She put other horses in their place, showing what a holy terror she must have been in the herd in her younger years. She stood for being dosed with wormer without a fight. She let me walk up each morning and put the halter on her. She let kids on bikes, kids in wheelchairs, screaming kids and running kids, approach her, pat her, and feed her carrots.
With each day that passed, we liked the idea of selling her back to the trail-riding business less and less. With more than a week to go, Nik arranged for a vet to perform a Coggins test (necessary for crossing the border). We hadn't heard from the original owner, with whom Nik had arranged a "sell-back" deal, back when our loaner horses fell through in the first week, and we were without the pony part of the Pony Express. We didn't know if she'd agree to sell Breezy to us, and Nik couldn't spare much cash. But we did know we loved the old mare, and Nik had already figured out accommodation for her back home on Vancouver Island.
On the last day of school visits, I had to will myself not to think about Breezy leaving us, going back to being worked hard to the end of her days, ridden by rough-handed novices over rocky trails. On the last night before I had to leave for Canada, Nik finally managed to contact the owner and persuade her to sell. Jubilation ensued.
What followed were two of the most exhausting days of my life, trailering the horse through four states, across the border, on the ferry, and to Nik's home in Victoria. It wasn't easy on the mare, either. The first day took us over many smaller highways filled with steep climbs, descents and bends, and when I opened the trailer in Fossil, OR, to unload her in the dark, I could see her legs spread wide apart, still bracing for the next curve. She drank two huge pails of water and ate four flakes of the alfalfa bale. The second day of driving was easier (better roads) and the only trauma was riding on the ferry, next to semi-trailers whose airbrakes were terrifyingly shrill. Finally we pulled into the stable by Nik's house. On the following morning, Dani and I went to visit Breezy, who was lying on the soft grass in the sunshine. She gratefully ate three huge carrots and a bunch of horse "krunchies" (chunks of compressed alfalfa and grain), but got very agitated on being led out of her paddock for a look around. We decided to leave her alone for the next couple of days to get used to her new home. She got more carrots and hugs from me, and a scratch on her "sweet spot" at the base of her mane, and then I left. It may not have been a smart purchasing decision, and it certainly complicated the trip home, and in spite of everything, Breezy's riding days may be numbered. But it still feels right, to give a tired old dame a good home and an easy rest. And Nik now has a real horse to help promote her horse-themed novels to schoolkids. And I can go visit all of them regularly. Not a bad souvenir of the trip after all.
Jane's post-holiday tradition: a honking head cold within two days of arriving home. Booger Woman is back.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Oh, yeah: My copy of "godbox" arrived at the office at the same time I did this morning. When I checked my e-mail backlog I discovered two more "Order delayed" messages from Amazon over the past month. I'm too wiped to read more than a few sentences at a time, but so far I've laughed out loud twice, which is a very good omen. Still no sign of McSweeney's No. 7, though, despite delightful correspondence with D. Kneebone at publishing house. One day my backorder shall come.
What We Didn't Need on The Trip, But Had:
So anyway....I'm back, I'm sad it's over, I have so many things to say. I filled about 120 pages full of travel writing and impressions and occasional raging temper, which I will clean up, knock stray bit of alfalfa out of, and post in digestible tidbits in the near future. Though Nik, be warned, you're getting the unexpurgated version.
Sean Collins, you are a hero. Thanks for the housecalls and the percussive maintenance on the G3.
Fearless, faithful friend, thanks for looking after El Condo Non Grande (which looked, actually, very grande after 3 weeks in a motorhome), for not bludgeoning the ever-gabby cat, for providing airport chauffeur services, for agreeing to becoming a substitute Myrmidon, and -- well, just for being you.
My fellow Myrmidons, gods of lawn-bowling, who took us from 11th place to the finals in a very fierce competition, I salute you. Though boots to the head are forthcoming for three of you who did not wear the regulation kilts, the appropriate battle garb for Myrmidons, when you took to the field of combat.
Thanks to Dani for putting up with Jane, Terror of the Motorhome. And for hanging out with me yesterday in Victoria. And for not snickering when I won the bet about Bob Marley off your Oma.
Thanks to Jan the Publicist, Saver of Asses, Hero of Eastern Nevada, and Unstoppable Optimist. Loved how you could corner the hog motorhome on two wheels, too.
To all who know me, you now have a Leonard Nimoy degree of 1.
To Breezy, the veteran equine souvenir from Nevada: thanks for not dying in the trailer on the drive back to Vancouver Island.
To Nik: thanks for it all, to the day I die, which was nearly Monday night outside Seattle on the I-5.
Monday, September 09, 2002
Not Dead Yet: I write this from the Eureka, NV, Elementary school computer lab. I'm sitting on a tiny chair built for a 5-yr-old, so please excuse typos as knees are getting in the way.
One week on the road and things are going mostly well. Had a couple of heart attacks with getting Nik's daughter, Dani, from Victoria to Nevada. A long, long story and one that will form part of "What the Hell Was I Thinking: The Curmudgeon's Guide to the Pony Express." Am totally in love with Nevada, of course. The scenery is beyond vast. The hills are covered with juniper, pinon, sage, bristlecone pine and white pine. Nearly took out a herd of tiny deer on the way into town last night.
But am getting ahead of self, as usual. Here's what's happened so far:
More later, when next near computer. Am very pro-Nevada. Come here. Come to Ely and Eureka, especially. We're off to the Opera House now and then out for a bit of lunch.
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