Thursday, October 21, 2010

Moving On.

To the handfull of you that have read my blog. I will be moving my hosting to wordpress. I came to this decision after spending over an hour trying to format my last blog post "lost" and still having it look like hot blueberry shit when posted.

Please visit me at

give me a couple days to get something up there for you guys.... and reposts of the sugar glider post with art this time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

LOST! A Story about Mudheads, Navajos and Goat Leggings

When I was in my late teens and living in Durango my mother had a bad accident and took advantage of a vocab rehabilitation program and went back to school. She was taking an American Indian art course a Ft. Lewis Collage. She learned that in the 1960's there was very little demand for Indian art and Hopi baskets could be purchased for only 60 dollars. She told this to her live in boyfriend and constant tormentor Walter and he latched onto the "Hopi Baskets for 60 dollars" bit but seemed to ignore the whole "in the 60's" caveat. He looked at me and thought "Hey David is Indian; I bet he can help me get one-o-them 60 dollar Hopi baskets." This was his first mistake. Not all Indians are alike. I am Lakota. I am not Hopi, and I know nothing about baskets and I do not know much more about the Hopi people.

So early one cold winter morning Walter boots me out of bed, straps me into the passenger seat of his pickup truck and tells me his plan to use me to somehow get a 60 dollar Hopi basket. "Your mother likes the mudhead baskets" he stated. "OK" I replied and we set off to the south and the Hopi reservation in search of a 60 dollar mudhead basket. I tried to tell him at this point that there was no way in hell that we would find a basket, mudhead or other, which could be had for 60 dollars in 1988. I guess in his mind I was just a stupid kid and he was absolutely convinced that he would find one and that I would have some magical Indian mojo that would cause a Hopi artist to hand over a piece of work like on the left for 60 bucks.

We head south into New Mexico with the eastern sky starting to lighten. It is a several hour trip to the Hopi reservation and with the sun finally up in the sky I was getting hungry. I turned to Walter and asked if he had brought anything to eat. He looked at me like I had 3 heads and wanted to know how I could be hungry. It was at this moment I had to come to terms with the fact that Walter really did not have a well thought out plan. No food. Walter was not going to stop just because I wanted breakfast or lunch or dinner for that matter.

We get to the Hopi reservation and Walter looks at me like "Ok do your stuff!" I suggested bypassing the trading posts on the desert floor and heading up to the mesas and find the artists directly. I no longer remember which mesas we drove up but I think it was 2 of them. The 3rd would not allow tourists. On the second mesa we found a few tables set up with people selling cheap tourist grade Katsina Dolls and sterling silver jewelry so I chat with them about how Walter wants a basket with mudheads on it. At one point someone waves to me and motions us to follow them into the restricted section of the pueblo. Walter and I entered a private dwelling. The living room was packed with people. From great grandparents to newborn children it was a full extended family, very tradish. And older woman handed Walter the beginning of a basket. Only the base was complete. Walter asked if it was a mudhead basket and she responded. "It could be" and smiled. Walter then asked "How much?" 2 thousand dollars she quickly replied. Walter looked like someone had hit him over the head with a baseball bat, as he was gasping for air everyone in the room started laughing. I grabbed hold of Walter's wrist and pulled him out as I mumbled some apologies.

Walter was still in shock as we drove down from the mesa. The closer we got to the desert floor the closer Walter came to realizing that there was no way he would be able to get a 60 dollar mudhead basket for my mother. Surprisingly his rare manic state did not collapse into his more consistent depressive state and he was determined to get something for mother and we pulled into one of the many trading posts at the base of the mesa.

Authentic Hopi and Navajo art the signs blared. We walked in. Walter found some small basket work wall hangings. One was about 4 inches across and had a turtle design. It was a nice little piece and priced at 50 dollars. Walter was victorious I guess and he bought it for mother. But the day is not done yet we are in the middle of the Hopi reservation and there is lots of daylight left so Walter gets another brainstorm and another well thought out plan.

We are currently on the Hopi Reservation, the grey star. Walter decides that he wants to go to Canyon De Chelly National Monument which is near Chinle, the green star. Walter decides that using the marked roads is too long and that there must be a yellow brick road to the land of De Chelly and he would find it. See the yellow line on the map; it is Walter's dream come real by using MS Paint.

Walter asks at the trading post if there is a shortcut to Chinle. Of course there is and the man behind the counter starts giving directions. Local directions. You have all heard them and even used them. Take this road about 3 miles to where the Johnsons barn was it burned down 4 years ago. Take a right and drive till you hit the Williams farm. Take another right at the tree that used to have the tire swing hanging from it….. I had slunk away to buy a piece of fry bread at this time.

I got back into the truck, happily munching on my fry bread and off we went on Walter's yellow brick road to…. It took a surprisingly short amount of time for Walter to realize that he was lost on the dirt roads crisscrossing the Navajo reservation. We continued to bounce along even though we had no idea where we were and where we were going there was no sense in being late. We found someone alongside the road and Walter asked again how to get to Chinle. A long train of local directions followed and Walter headed off with even more encouragement.

Somewhere along this drive we topped a ridge and there was a trading post and a couple houses and outbuildings. I do not remember the name but it was a large adobe structure with a sign painted on it that listed what they offered. In big red letters the sign stated ANGORA! I am a northern traditional dancer and part of our gear is angora hide anklets. I jokingly call them my goat leggings. For some reason I have the worst time with angora anklets, I always have and it continues to this day. I walk inside to enquire about getting a pair of angora anklets for dancing, I start explaining what I want to the woman behind the counter and she is looking at me like I am from Mars. It was my turn to forget that all Indians are not the same. Navajo's generally are not pow wow people. The do not dance or have pow wows in the middle of the reservation. I am getting more and more frustrated, as I point to my ankles and describe yet again what I want. I want two pieces of angora goat hide. The woman is still looking at me like I am insane and why would I want something like that when a young man gets my attention. "I have what you want." He says and I follow him outside.

We go behind the trading post and into a musty smelly shed where he pulls out a dried and salted sheep skin. It is at this point that the absurdity of my request begins to sink in. They are not dancers. They have no idea what I am talking about and there is no reason they should know. It then hits me that the angora sign panted on the trading post was for angora wool to make rugs not anklets for dancing. I thank the young Navajo man, tell him that is not what I am looking for and go to find Walter who had gotten yet a 3rd set of local directions to Chinle and we head off on the dusty trails again.

Several hours go by wandering in hopeless confusion when we finally drive into a town. Kayenta, which is a very long way from our stated destination of Chinle. Blue circle on the map. Walter/Coronado never did find a 60 dollar mudhead basket, or his shortcut to Chinle and I did not get my goat leggings. Walter then made the first rational decision of the rapidly ending day and took off on the main roads back to Durango. Red arrow.

I wish I could say that the day was a bonding event between me and Walter but it was not. I have never forgotten that there is no such thing as a typical Indian. We all have different cultures, traditions, languages, and expectations. There is no overall European culture just as there is no overall Indian culture. Even those of us who are Indian can forget that.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Not to Get Tech Support

I work in technical support, usually on the phone. I like my job there are some quite rewarding parts of my job. One of the reasons I like it is that I am given the freedom to work on a problem until it is fixed. I do not have time limitations and when the phone rings I am working for the caller more than working for the customer. Some customers however do everything in their power to not get good support.


Here is an example from earlier today.

Ring ring

Me: This is David with "Super Awesome Company"!


Me: I would need to connect into your system and determine what the….



Ok so I understand that many of my customers are serious type A personalities but let's break down this simple and short conversation and see why I was not able to give good service to this customer.

  1. There was no hello, no social niceties what so ever. I am ok with that. Customers do not have to be polite to me.
  2. Customer demanded an instant answer. Now I have a good handful of reasons why this would be happening to him but I do not have ESP. The closest I have is ESPN. My satellite tv provider gives me multiple channels but it is of no help in this situation.
  3. When I offer to help refuse that help. In fact refuse to answer any questions that I ask.

I do not have a crystal ball, I do not even have a magic 8 ball or a "fix the customer's pc" button, or a magic wand with which to fix a problem. It is a funny thing that people think these magical solutions exist in the computing world. It leaves me wondering about the caller and if his car did not start in the morning would he call his mechanic or dealership and behave in the same manner. Somehow I doubt that he would behave in the same manner.

Computers and computer programs are complicated sometimes the fix is not easy or quick.

I am aware that dealing with tech support can be difficult at times. I recently had a bad experience myself just last month but was able to reach a good solution. Not all tech support people know what they are doing… sometimes I have no idea what I am doing but I know who to ask if I am clueless.


It is the calls like the above that suck everything great out of life.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stupid Pet Tricks #1

Cinnamon is a 14 year old Scottish fold cat. She is very small and we call her MinMins.

Even though we put fresh water down for her every day this has recently not been acceptable to her. She has also discovered that there is water in the toilettes. Many times I head into the bathroom to see the back end of Mins sticking out of the bowl and I must wait for her to finish before I can do my business.

Now a cat drinking out of the toilet is not all that amazing. Many cats do it but her recent behavior of meowing as loudly as she can into the bowl at 4 am has got to stop.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yay Sugar Gliders..... In honor of Chewy

Over a decade ago I was working at a job in Colorado Springs. It was a long commute and on my way home one night I was listening to the radio. My favorite show at the time was called The Sports Zoo, and it was a Zoo with a bit of sports worked into it. As I drove the hosts were interviewing a fellow that was selling sugar gliders at a local sports show event. He described them and how they were so small and cute and friendly and could soar through the air.

Right after the segment ended my cell phone rings. It is my wife.

wife: "Do you know what a sugar glider is?"

me: "Funny you should ask because I just found out about them myself you must be listening to the Sports Zoo."

wife: "I want one!"

me: "Are you sure? they sound all cute and fuzzy and all but....."

wife: "Oh it will be mine, I will feed it and take care of it you will not have to do any of that."

By this time I am thinking that my wife had regressed into a 6 year old wanting a puppy.

wife: "well I want one."

I get home and suddenly we are headed into downtown Denver for the Sportsman's Expo to check out sugar gliders. We get there pay our 20 dollar entrance fee and spend the next hour or so wandering around asking random strangers about sugar gliders. Most of them look at us like we are insane but we did find... the glider man. He had Shakespeare in his pocket, no not a long dead English writer, but a small gray animal that was jumping between him and delighted children.

Most sugar gliders are grey, 6 inches long with another 6 inches provided by a fluffy tail. they have big eyes and big ears and very very soft fur. They are adorable and charming little critters that we were assured were easy to care for and lots of fun after they bond with you. My wife cooed over little Shakespeare.

"I must have one" she stated, so we asked the glider man how much. He said that a glider joey, gliders are marsupials so their young are called joeys just like kangaroos, and cage was 400 dollars. My wife panicked. We were short on cash at the moment and tomorrow was payday. She asked the glider man if he would take a check. The glider man did not accept checks. I went home with a very sad wife.

The next day I get a call at work.

wife: "I have 400 dollars!"

me: "How did you... No I do not want to know."

wife: "I want a glider!"

me: "Are you sure...."

wife: "Yes! yes! I am sure! I will be responsible for him and take care of him and feed him. You will not have to do anything. It will be mine."

me: "Ok if that is what you want."

Once again we head back into Denver on the train and hand over another 20 dollars to access the expo. she runs up to the glider man and hands over 400 dollars. In return we get a 3 foot by 3foot by 3 foot metal cage, a cloth bonding pouch, some glider kibble, glider propaganda, a cdrom about gliders, an exercise wheel and she is directed to pick out her joey.

The glider man picks up a small cloth pouch and inside are several very small sleeping grey furballs. The wife sticks her hand in and all hell breaks loose. There is a sound like a dozen chainsaws and she pulls out a squirming and screaming bundle of fur and she puts it in the provided bonding pouch and proceeds to suck on her bitten and bleeding finger. The glider, who the wife will happily name Zathras is in the pouch making an ungodly mechanical whirring chainsaw sound that we will find out later is called crabbing.

It is at this point where I should say that when people find out we have sugar gliders someone will speak up and say "My daughter wanted a sugar glider so we....." They get this far in the story and I am laughing so hard I can barely see knowing the tale of pain and terror that is coming.

It is February in Denver Colorado, sugar gliders are from Indonesia and Australia so we head as quickly as we can for home, Zathras needs to be kept warm. Because the wife has the little whirring wee beastey in the bonding pouch around her neck I have to care for the cage on the the train ride home. Every few minutes Zathras would quiet down and the wife would get worried about him open the pouch and stick her hand in. Zathras would crab "NEE NEE NEE NEE NEE" and proceed to try and eat my wife. The "NEE NEE NEE NEE" is at a sound level like standing 30 feet away from Air Force One taking off and yes the other riders did notice that something was up.

We get home, Zathras is ok, and the wife is more or less still intact but the bandaid box will not survive the night. We set the cage up in the bed room. I attach the bonding pouch and set up the exercise wheel, a dish of water and another dish of glider kibble. The wife is busy with the glider brochures and all that kind of stuff when she says that there must be more information about them and directs me to do research. Zathras is now mostly quiet, he is sticking his head out of his pouch and looking suspiciously around. If he sees us, he dives back into his bag with a sharp NEE NEE NEE!

I start researching and the more I research the more I begin to dread what we have brought into our house. Yes, yes sugar gliders can be fun and charming but to get to the fun and charming part of owning sugar gliders you have to get the glider to bond with you even though you are not small and floofy with big eyes and ears. If you happen to be small floofly with big eyes and ears you should see a doctor.

It takes months to bond with your sugar glider. It takes many boxes of bandaids to stop the bleeding as your small furry but surprisingly loud ninja tries to eat you. Gliders are also a lot more work than the glider man let on. they have a special diet consisting of mostly chicken baby food, yogurt drink, honey, hard boiled eggs, and grain cereal with calcium supplements. The glider kibble Zathras was sent home with is not an acceptable food for gliders. Now for the quiz. Who as two thumbs and was immediately tasked with preparing the glider food, feeding the glider, watering the glider, cleaning the cage etc? ... yea that would be me.

We found out other things about gliders.

1. single gliders do not do well, they are colony animals and need other gliders for emotional health. - we now need a second glider.

2. The 3 foot by 3foot cage was way too small for a glider - we now need a bigger cage

3. Once your glider is bonded they absolutely live to poop and pee on you. It is their greatest goal in life. - more laundry

4. some states do not allow you to keep sugar gliders. - Colorado allows people to own sugar gliders

5. oh and they throw their food.... everywhere. baby food, yogurt, and honey is sticky.

Over the next couple years we increased our colony. We added Chewy. The wife declared that Chewy was my glider so I could no longer bring up the "you promised to take care of them" defense while cleaning the cage. Next came the sisters from a glider rescue place... Lilo and Nani. we added Gabby, another rescue who had her tail chewed off before she came to live with us.

Yes gliders are fun, and cute and cuddly, once they stop trying to eat you. Playtime is always great, after they poop and pee on you. They love toys and a well bonded glider is a great thing to have. I would however never suggest that gliders are good pets. and they are definitely not good pets for children.

A well cared for glider will live for over 10 years. some will live to be 12 to 15 years. They are a big responsibility. You have to feed them the correct food. You need to find a vet that will not look at your glider and go "what the hell is that thing?" They need lots of space, they make messes. When your wife leaves the cage open they get lose and jump on your face in the middle of the night.

Over the past couple years we lost, Lilo, then Nani, then Gabby. Zathras died last year in my hands, he was old. Chewy was just rehomed with a glider rescue group here in Denver. He was very lonely with out his buddy and it was best for him.

Most people get gliders without knowing much about them, Yes my wife and I were one of those people. If you want gliders.... Do research, lots and lots of research find a local glider rescue, too many people get gliders and can not take care of them so they give them up. They need good homes.

PS. Got a note from colorado suggie savers regarding chewy. He is healthy and was integrated with another glider his age. Chewy now has a glider buddy and is doing very well and is happy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I need a theme....

Not just a theme a purpose.... maybe even some encoragement in regards to my blogg.

I have one... now what the hell do I do with it?

I can not eat it... *throws some salsa on the screen and tries to nibble on it*... nope still can't eat it.

I do not want this to be a place where I rant and rave. I work in customer service so I have truckloads of stuff to rant and rave about. some of them are even funny. Is that what you guys want from me? I hope not you can get that stuff elsewhere. Plus if my employer found out I could get fired. I may not be all that thrilled with my job but it is mine and jobs are hard to come by these days.

blogg about my cats? well Mins is 14 and spends her day sleeping, begging for food, eating and vomiting. Not much there. Catzilla just lays around and is all floofy all day.

Politics. Meh yes I vote. yes I care but I really do not want to blog about it. There are enough blowhards out there.

Indian stuff? well there is possibilities in that but there are things that are so personal that I will not tell complete strangers and the last thing I want is a bunch of ruck rubbing bliss bunny crystal twinkies drooling all over my blog. New Agers make me want to kick kittens, they really do.

I need something different, something new and fun.

to my friends out there... what do you want to hear about? what do you like? with what I have done so far? what do you hate?


Please comment... let me know you are out there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is it Art?

I am not an artist. I can not draw or paint. If someone held a gun to my head, put a pencil or paint brush in my hand and said make me a picture the blood spatter on the wall would be better than anything I could create with pencil and paper. I can not play a musical instrument. I tried back in grade school. I took up the saxophone with dreams of playing John Williams music stampeding through my young mind. I dropped it after a couple years of playing Mary Had a Little Lamb and Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater. The most interesting thing we go to "play" was Ode to Joy and we were not very good at it. with both drawing, painting, and music I will have to be content just looking at or listening to those that have far greater skill than I have.

I have heard a description of art being something that is beautiful but has no real use or purpose. I can create items of leather, beads, and feathers they are beautiful I am not sure if they are art.

I think I created art yesterday. I used fire, heat, and smoke to turn three racks of pork ribs into what I will happily call art. Now just throwing some mammal flesh on a flame pit and putting some char on it is an easy thing to do. Hamburgers, brats and hot dogs are child's play. Steaks take a bit more skill but it is essentially the same thing. Getting the items finished correctly and to order is a nice trick. My wife is easy she likes her hot dogs and brats dead... DED dead, I call them 3 Mile Island or for those of you a bit younger Chernobyl dogs, no matter what you call them the end result is the same.

I have a confession to make here. The first time I tried to make ribs on a grill I totally fubared them. I was a total neanderthal and had not discovered the properties of indirect heat. The recipe said to grill them for 45 minutes and that is what I did. I came back to a slab of charcoal that disintegrated into a pile of charred bones when I touched it.... It was a fail of epic proportions. My wife still brings it up to this day in an effort to embarrass me but I find the whole thing universally funny.

I have learned a lot since that evening. I have created cedar plank salmon. for some reason I cooked it till the cedar plank caught fire and to my wonder the salmon was perfection. I have also made a couple Christmas roasts on the grill. But even after all that it was an LP or natural gas grill. Gas is easy. The heat is steady and reliable, real skill comes with using live fire.

Today I have a basic yet classic Weber charcoal kettle grill. No more electric start or knobs to turn for heat control. Now it is all amount of charcoal and airflow. Yet I can do more with that kettle grill than anything else I have ever done.

Yesterday Jonette made the rub, a mixture of sugar, salt and home made chili powder and liberally coated the racks and then it was all mine... my show, my creation. I put 33 charcoals in the chimney lighter and waited 15 minutes. I poured the lit coals over a bed of unlit ones on one side of the grill and a pan of water on the other. sprinkled on some wet cherry wood chips, put the racks on and slammed the lid down.

With the help of an electric probe thermometer stuck into the top air vent I now regulated the temp between 250 and 275 degrees for 45 minutes. The only way to do this is by carefully regulating the airflow from the bottom vents to the top. More air = more heat, It can take some time but once you get it all is good. After 45 minutes you pull the top off, turn the ribs over and switch their positions and mop with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and apple juice. Unfortunately the act of doing that allows a large influx of air to reach the coals and you have to start again with adjusting the airflow.

After another 45 minutes I cheat... true BBQ masters will snarl at me for this but I remove the ribs and put them in a 300 degree oven to finish off for another hour and a half. Yes that is cheating and I fully acknowledge that. A couple more mops with the cider and juice during their stay in the oven and....

Now the reason for the smoke, and using the grill in the first place, only become apparent when you cut into the ribs.

The pink area around the edges of the ribs is the holy grail of BBQ. The smoke ring, that is what makes all the work worth while.

I think it is art, it takes skill, patience, and time. The results are beautiful but temporary they do not last and as much as something might be to good to eat. You need to just eat it before the microbes get a hold of it. No use letting something so good go to waste. I ate my fill last night and will eat on the rest of them all week long.

Some still say that art can not have a purpose and if that is the case then what I created is not art in the classic sense but you can not debate it is good. Something that could turn just about any vegan into a T-rex at 20 paces is a great thing. I like my art to have a use. And like any art if you try and put sauce on my ribs I will knock you into next week. You do not take a sharpie and draw a moustache on the Mona Lisa, that just ain't right.