new shocks on the old ford and a feeling of satisfaction

I used to love working on cars. It started out of necessity when both my and Jenn’s vehicles needed all kinds of work, and once I got familiar with wrenching I found it really fun and satisfying. I got into it around the time I stopped playing in bands so it kind of took the place of that. I thought it was neat that a filthy, hands-on hobby took the place of an artistic one.

Wrenching got old after a four or five years though. I came to resent having to fix our rusty old cars, especially the more involved jobs like timing belts, head gaskets, and clutches. Now I only do the easier jobs that have a better effort/reward ratio, like routine maintenance, brakes, suspension, and steering, and I don’t buy project cars to fix up which means I don’t wrench very frequently anymore.

But today, I replaced the front shocks on our old truck and dang, it was enjoyable. It didn’t go smoothly but the hiccups were part of what made it fun. The passenger side went smoothly, and while I was doing that side I found a worn steering component that is probably part of the reason the steering has felt wonky for a while now. But on the driver side, half of the wheel nuts were frozen in place and the impact gun wouldn’t budge them. So I put a breaker bar with a cheater pipe on them and put my weight on it but the wheel started to slowly turn. So I had to lower the wheel back down to the ground to break the nuts free. Then I found the nuts and bolts securing the shock were also pretty frozen and I had to knock the bolts out of their holes with a big hammer and a punch. Then putting things back together, the threads on one of the shock bolts had gotten fucked up so I had to use a die to clean up the threads on it. That took forever because the threads were so fucked that the die kept getting crooked so I had to use a file to remove the most fucked up outer threads, and even then I still had to manhandle the die to keep it straight at first. After that, I lubed the hell out of the shock bolts and wheel studs before putting everything back together.

I know that was probably really boring to read but I wanted to illustrate that working on rusty, fucked up old shit is a unique art form that requires a variety of problem solving, and I’m happy and proud that I learned a lot of those skills some time ago. I love fixing old shit and keeping it in service for as long as possible, and I love being able to figure out and work through problems that I used to have to call my dad to help me with. It’s nice to feel capable at something.

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Wasps are just fine by me. People freaking out about them are not fine by me.

At the end of every summer, I get really fucking annoyed with people swatting and shooing and running around ducking their heads like someone is lobbing rocks at them, all because of a few wasps. Nothing ruins a meal on a deck when your company can’t keep up a conversation due to their sputtering and panicking that a swarm of wasps is going to carry them off.

Wasps don’t just fly around looking for people to kill. They’re not antihumanistic (although they would certainly be justified in feeling that way, I believe). They’re just doing their damn jobs, which include pollination, hunting and eating insect pests that destroy fruit we eat, and eating waste and garbage. We need those things.

And birds, bats, reptiles, and amphibians all eat adult wasps, while mice, rats, skunks, raccoons, weasels, badgers, wolverines and other creatures eat wasp larvae. Like all other creatures, wasps play an important role in the food chain.

On top of that, I return a lot of refundable drink containers so I’m around swarms of ravenous wasps a fair amount of the summer. How many times have I been stung in recent memory? Zero. They don’t give a fuck about me as long as I don’t swat at them and make them feel threatened. I suppose I could accidentally put my hand on one while grabbing a can and get stung but it’s never happened. And if it did, so what? Oooooh, a bee sting. Stop the press. Who gives a fuck about a bee sting? Precious wimps, that’s who.

weak-man

A swarm of wasps probably actually could carry this guy away.

I have a similar soft spot for slugs. No one loves slugs but fuck man, if they weren’t around we would step in a lot of animal shit every time we went for a walk in the woods.

I feel like a lot of people get disproportionately bent out of shape over these little creatures that are an important part of this fucked up world and, at worst, a tiny nuisance for about a week out of every year. The next time you see a wasp, try giving it a fucking hug instead of swatting at it. Maybe it’ll hug you back.

bee-happy

Yaayyy, wasps!

my snoot saves the day, plus: the origin story you’ve been dying to know since I started blogging!

I forgot to mention in my last post that a) in the last year or so I’ve inexplicably developed a keen sense of smell, and b) it saved Jenn and I from burning to death last night.

I have no idea what’s going with my nose. I would say I’ve only ever had an average or below average sense of smell — I was used to being around people who would be like “whoah, what is that horrendous stench” when I couldn’t smell anything at all. But now I’m that person, noticing smells that no one around me does. I like it, of course, because it’s like suddenly having keener vision or hearing. It’s a bonus. I feel like a really lame superhero but a superhero nonetheless.

And last night, I had turned my bedside lamp on and then went to brush my teeth. When I came back in the room, I smelled something hot, like when your dear wife leaves your vintage toaster oven on at full blast with nothing in it. Alarmed, I exited the room to see if the smell was stronger closer to the kitchen since the toaster oven was my first thought. But the smell wasn’t as strong there so I went back into the bedroom and looked around at what it could be. My bedside lamp, the one I’ve had for about a decade, was the culprit. Somehow the lampshade had half popped off, allowing its weird fabric to rest on the hot incandescent bulb. The bulb had melted right through the fabric! I put the shade back on properly and we marveled at how that’s never happened before, and how lucky we are it didn’t burst into flame. It’s obviously time to get some small LED bulbs for the bedside lamps.

So there you go. As if you weren’t riveted by my previous post, now I’ve got you on the edge of your seat contemplating LED vs incandescent light bulbs. It’s just a thrill-a-minute here at Crimson Highway.

Btw, I hate it when people learn that I have a blog, ask what it’s called, and then when I tell them they say something polite like “oh that’s an interesting name for a blog” when they obviously think it’s weird or dumb. Fuck man, it’s just a random name that doesn’t mean anything. It’s a lyric I like from an old Danzig song, and I needed a name for a blog. That’s it. I don’t need anyone to pretend it’s deep or super cool and patronize me over it.

In case you’re interested, the lyric I like is in reference to Cain killing his brother Abel, how the blood was “like a crimson highway/spreading out from his forehead to the ground.” I thought the word ‘highway’ was an odd, neat choice. It injects a strange contemporary vibe into this otherwise biblical scene.

info dump

I’ve had lots I’ve wanted to say lately but fuck man, too busy. Summer living, you know? So here’s a few snippets to tide you monsters over.

***

I have a co-worker who is 29 years old. I like him, he’s a solid dude, but he said something the other day that I found alarming. He was telling me how he and his girlfriend were so into the Netflix show The Haunting of Hill House that they called in sick to work and stayed up until 3 am two nights in a row, binge watching the show.

Of course, I don’t like this. I would never dream of calling in sick for a fucking TV show. To me, this speaks volumes about the work ethics of my co-worker and his gf. I get tired of hearing people say “millenials are entitled” but the shoe seems to fit in this particular case. Second, lying to your employer to watch a show that you can watch any other time is absurdly self-indulgent. Why not just watch the rest of the show on the following night? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

***

That’s one thing I wanted to talk about. The next thing I want to mention is that I realized I have a soft spot for g-rated pop music sung by kind- and wholesome-sounding women. I’ve talked about Amy Grant a few times (here and here) and in addition to that, I’ve heard Janet Jackson’s 90’s hit, Escapade, twice now while shopping in stores and fuck, I love that song. It’s got all the same magic I love about Amy Grant’s stuff. It reminds me of being a kid, of how simple and beautiful life seemed to me at the time.

I like a lot of Janet’s other hits too. I wonder what other kind, wholesome, female pop music I should check out. I guess if I used Itunes or Google Music or whatever else, it would make this really easy for me and recommend a bunch of shit based on previous shit I’ve listened to. That’s very efficient and I’m sure I’d love a lot of those recommendations but fuck man, I hate the idea of asking machines and algorithms to analyze me and figure me out. There’s something terribly Matrix-ish about that.

***

Everyone on planet Earth knows that I love the Duncan Caprice movie theater. It’s such a perfect dump of a gross, shitty old theater. But I have a bone to pick with them lately. See, for the last year or two I would go with Liz or Dana to see the latest, shittiest (in a good way) films and eat a mountain of double-buttered popcorn but since the Duncan Caprice came under new ownership, they haven’t played a single bloody movie I’ve wanted to see. Everything has been terrible blockbuster after terrible blockbuster — Marvel superhero stuff, animated kids films, Disney remakes, ie stuff that makes me want to claw my eyes out.

I had a suspicion that the new owners were probably just smarter about money than the previous owners and decided that if they actually want to keep this theater open, they need to play what the slack-jawed masses are drooling for, not obscure new horror films that only I and a few dozen other freaks have a passing interest in seeing. And then the other day, I noticed a ranking of how much the latest films had made over the weekend. At the top was shit like the new Spiderman flick and the Lion King remake, which each made about $60 million. And waaaaay down at the bottom of the list was a horror movie I haven’t even heard of, Annabelle or something like that, and it made a paltry $0.9 million. So that pretty much confirms it for me: there is no money in horror movies, and that’s why the Duncan Caprice isn’t bothering with them anymore. I can’t blame them for wanting to stay in business but dang, it makes me sad.

Also, it makes me wonder why anyone even bothers making horror movies if there is no money in them. Is that the only work some writers, directors, actors, etc can get? Is it like the junior leagues of the film world, something that everyone starting out has to go through? I wish I knew some folks in the biz I could ask about this stuff.

***

Fini.

Pull out

Here it is, Benny. The return to form.

So the other day, I was chatting with a friend about a race of Satanic lizard people controlling the world. That’s a silly exaggeration but the idea is basically the same: my buddy was explaining how all that stuff he read in a bunch of weird books 20 years ago actually rings pretty true today, in that there are a ton of rich, powerful Democrats in the US who have legitimate, proven ties to child sex rings, and my pal sees the current state of US politics as a battle between that group and their Trump-led rivals.

My chum felt like a kook telling me all this, and worried that I must have thought they were right out of their gourd. But I don’t. While I don’t know anything about the specific allegations my comrade was making, I have thought for years that basically anyone who has ridiculous power and/or wealth will use those things to hurt lowly plebes purely for their own pleasure and amusement.

The first time I thought about this was during the Robert Pickton trial. Pickton was a pig farmer in Port Coquitlam, BC who was convicted of murdering six at-risk women, and suspected in the deaths of at least 20 others. Somewhere, I can’t remember where, I heard a rumour that Pickton wasn’t alone in his endeavour, that he was really just a pawn and his operation was actually run as a sort or rape and murder park for the rich and powerful, that various powerful men in BC politics and the police force were customers or attendees at Pickton’s farm, and that Pickton was simply a scapegoat in all of it.

I was horrified by this idea at the time but it planted the seed in my mind that people who have every material thing they could want will logically seek the next valuable thing — power and control over another human life on the most intimate level.

Then I watched Making a Murderer, and then I watched The Keepers, and I only became more convinced in my beliefs. Yeah, I know, all these things I’m mentioning that have shaped my feelings are largely unsubstantiated, but I think there too many coincidences in each of them to ignore, and in each situation the overarching theme is the same: rich, powerful people abuse their positions by fucking with vulnerable people.

So no, I don’t think my mate is crazy. I won’t be surprised if more and more influential folks are implicated in child sex abuse rings. But that being said, I don’t believe Trump is some sort of altruistic hero looking to drain the swamp. I think that this is simply a battle for power between two probably equally reprehensible factions. Any shakeup is good, I think, because it will help limit the powers of both sides, but ultimately I don’t think we should ever trust anyone who has the ability to get away with things that the average person could not because if they can, they probably will. And because of the size of our countries and the established systems in them, I believe we will always have these kinds of problems. I think the only way to avoid them is for those in power to have to answer directly to and be held personally accountable for their actions by their constituents — unless we revert back to tiny tribes, there’s no way we can hope to see that kind of equality and accountability here.

Hey, it’s just another good reason to keep praying for the apocalypse. Someone hurry up and start dropping nukes, let’s get on with it and level the playing field already.

proxy.duckduckgo.com

My vision of paradise.

with for my, wait

I feel good right now. It’s been a really nice weekend. I watched some films I’ve been meaning to check out, spent a bunch of time with friends I was thrilled to see, and got some classic summer fun in. I feel so good that after I finished doing yoga tonight and was just lying on my mat, I had that sensation of full body joy I get when I feel really good. That sounds gross and sexual but that’s not what I mean, obv. It just feels great to see friends and do fun things and finally have this meat vehicle of mine feeling almost normal again. I feel like those are three of the most basic, important things I want to always squeeze out of this life, and when I don’t get enough of them, it feels lonely and scary and shitty, and when I get lots of them, it feels fantastic.

I’m bummed I have to go back to work tomorrow. At times like this, I think about how great it would be to never have to work another day in my life but tonight I reminded myself that if I had that much free time, I would probably spend a lot more time alone since everyone else I know would still be busy working and taking care of personal business. In that case, it might actually suck to have too much free time. It’s unfortunate that it’s a balancing act, that working is required so that we appreciate the free time we have. It’s one of those “you have experience bad stuff to appreciate the good” things that is both annoying and true — too much of a good thing devalues it. Like if you had Two Bite Brownies every day, all day, after a few months you might find yourself not quite as madly in love with them as you were when you only ate one bag per day. Hard to believe but it’s true.

Sorry for the diary entry, Benny. I’ll complain about something real good for you next time.

“We hate this planet!”

I see that the US just pulled out of their nuclear pact with Russia. Man, every time I see stuff like this I get PUMPED UP. I keep hoping that each ominous news headline is the start of WW3 or some other global catastrophe. I got excited a few weeks ago when there were a bunch of big earthquakes here on the west coast, all in the space of about a week. I hoped a giant fault line would open up and swallow us. Same thing when relations between the US and North Korea were getting heated a year or two ago, I hoped a nuclear war was about to start. Now I’ve got my fingers crossed for another nuclear war. I don’t really care what form the chaos takes though, anything that disrupts our easy North American existence would satisfy me. I just want a shakeup, period. I know it’s not likely to actually come to fruition but a fella can hope, can’t he?

Here’s The Day After from 1983, a great old flick about what a nuclear strike on North American soil would look like. On the Beach from 1959 is another good nuclear war fallout film, too. I love dramatizations about hard and depressing life under those circumstances would be.