Take THAT!

It was a rough day. I buried myself in the requirements docs I’m supposed to be Human Dictionary for, shot a lousy round of Disc Golf at lunchtime (okay, I got some exercise, and I saw daylight), jumped back into the 400-page pile for four hours, and then headed home exhausted. My head was starting to hurt, and I wanted nothing more than a nice nap, and then some hardcore tooning.

The phone rang on the way home. That’s right, the Day Job followed me right into my house, and stompled nap-time with interruptive stompings. Oh well. That’s what they pay me for, and my work ethic says they’re going to get their money’s worth.

Well, while talking on the phone I needed something to do with my hands, so I started pruning the last bits on the “pom-pom” tree at the front of the house. When the call ended I realized I was enjoying the spot of yardwork, so I got out the ladder and headed for the high bits.

I remembered that LAST year the ladder I used was a 16-foot rental. The five-foot stepladder I actually OWN was good enough to get one patch of high bits, but that left the top of the tree candling furiously for the sky.

See?

Note that this particular tree is a Scotch Pine. When we purchased it 5 years ago this “pom-pom Scotch Pine” was described as only wanting to be about 15 feet tall. This was a polite lie. If you keep it trimmed, it will be the size you trim it to. What it “wants to be” however, is a majestic 100-foot forest giant, and if your house is too close, it’ll bust right into the basement the same way trees of its kind have been ripping rocks off of cliffs for aeons.

Thus, in the last two years since I discovered this important fact about the tree I planted RIGHT NEXT TO MY HOUSE I’ve been working on my mad skillz as a Bonsai Artist. Today I looked up at the tree and realized that if I let that bit on the top remain where it was, the tree was going to reach for the sky in no time, putting on upwards of four feet a year. In ten years I’d have fifty feet of tree straight up from the front door, and a permanent guest in my downstairs office.

I got out the saw, and worked on my mad haxx0r skillz.

I then climbed INTO the tree and worried the NEW (and now-much-lower) top of the tree into pom-pummled submission.

So far, so good.

About the time I finished, I realized my head hurt and my stomach hurt. You see, I have allergies. I’m being treated for them, but apparently crawling into the middle of a madly pollinating butchered scotch pine and lopping bits off while getting covered in sap (to which the pollen, the needles, and the bark all stick) was a bit much for my immune system to put up with.

The moment I realized I was in a spot of trouble I jumped off the rock, ran inside, stripped naked and did NOT stand in front of an open window. No, I jumped into the shower, and sat out of the stream (which I had running on full-hot) for 15 minutes to work up a decent sweat (sweating will take off the sap from BENEATH much more effectively than soap will from above). I then soaped up, rinsed off, and changed into fresh clothes.

This was the point at which things got dicey. I was still having a spot of allergy attack. Shakes, puffy eyes, headache… Sandra found me downstairs in front of the computer, ascertained that I was now sick, and brought me a Claritin and some Diet Pepsi.

Good news. It worked. I was able to pencil five rows (a Sunday and two weekdays), which is a LOT more Schlock than I usually get done When Allergies Attack.

Then I got distracted and wrote this. I may get another couple of rows out before I hit the (NOT hay NOT NOT NOT) sack.

–Howard

Oh, the stress…

I’m looking at my calendar… sadly, I appear to have frittered away too much precious time of late. If I crank a full week of comics this week, then when I get back from Joberg at the end of NEXT week I’ll be down to 14. I’ll then have about five days to crank another week’s worth before family vacation.

Assuming I don’t come down the mountain to work on the strip, I’ll wrap the family vacation with ONE week left in the buffer…

In the week following family vacation, assuming I draw a week’s worth of strips, I’ll be in BIG TROUBLE. See, I then leave for Hague, and that would mean that when I return, the buffer will be at ZERO.

What needs to happen is this:
1) I need to script two or more weeks this week, draw one, and color three.
2) during the week before and the week OF family vacation I need to crank out three weeks of strips — scripts, coloring, the works.
3) During the week AFTER family vacation, I need to push out a week of strips.

That way I can return from Hague with two weeks in the buffer, and with a whole MONTH of “no travel” to build it back up in anticipation of August-September-October, when we do the crazy schedule thing again.

*sigh*

The only problem with this plan is that during this same time period there is an enormous project under way at work, in which I’m the principal driver, and my job is to prioritize, revise, and farm out the work described in about 400 pages of 10-point font.

–Howard

The good, the bad, and the Ugh-ly

Ah, the dice we roll when we post things online.

Sandra’s fifth Live Journal post, a nice piece about gardening, got anonymously trolled, drive-by style.

I, however, posted a “wee discourse” lamenting the corruption of religious principles, and the ensuing discussion of religion did NOT erupt in a flame-war. There was nary a troll to be seen ANYWHERE.

You’re all to be commended on your reasonable behavior. The anonymous troll, however… he does not get commended. He gets lampooned.

Going forward, know that I plan to keep religious and political stuff fairly low-key. While I do have strong right-leaning tendencies, I’m not especially evangelical about them. Mostly I prefer to talk about fun stuff.

The implications of finding or not finding WMDs in Iraq is NOT fun stuff. Building WMDs on the other hand… the physics, the chemistry, the biology… I can talk about that for hours.

My mouth should probably be re-classified as a munition.

And on a lighter note…

My brother and I had a great time last night. Rush 2049 for the N64 remains, hands down, the best car-battle game made… even though it’s principally a racing game, with car battle thrown in after the fact.

Why is this so? If I knew the answer to that, I’d make video games for a living instead of collaboration software.

Trying to drive in reverse as a guided missile bears down on you from the front, and doing so while giggling and screeching with the guy who fired it… now THAT’s entertainment. And don’t even get me started on the fun implicit in turning your car invisible, picking up the battering ram, and going close-range hunting on a guy who is packing nukes.

And now it’s time for lunch, Church, and then an evening spent in quiet celebration of Kiki’s 9th. I’m not telling you what I got her, because I know you guys can’t keep secrets for crap. 😉

–Howard

Writer, Illustrator, Consumer