Posts Tagged ‘zombies’

The Thinking Viking was in, shall we say, dire straights. St.Patrick’s day, San Francisco Bay, adrift under the Bay Bridge. The trip home on board the 39′ sailboat was..not going to plan. The plan did not include sails.  Thing has a diesel engine that is called by many “bulletproof”.  But…the silver bullet – the engine was over heated, fan belt broke, radiator boiling, the main sail was completely stowed for long term berthing, and we were adrift, under the Bay Bridge, in the path of the various SF Bay Ferrys and the big freighters heading for Oakland.

The internet meme joke about “How to Avoid Large Ships” suddenly has meaning. (ed: The correct meme is ”

How to Avoid Huge Ships”) wow – font copied, too.


I try to keep us pointed towards home, but with no power, it’s barely possible.  Captain breaks out a knife and the cursing begins.  Zip tie after zip tie is cut to free the main sail.  Cursing continues.

More cursing.  Coast Guard almost runs us down.

That motherfucking sail has to be lined up like a 60 foot zipper to get started.  Frustrated Captain can’t get it in place.  I take over because I see the stress is getting to him, he’s rushing in a mild – and well deserved – panic.

The sail starts to raise. Damn this thing is heavy, it’sjust not going up more than an inch or so at a time. Fuck the winch. I grap the ropes coming from the mast and basically lean my full weight on them. Sail raises a foot. Again. and Again. And again. My hands are chafing.

But at half sail, the boat starts to aim and drive.  The dry stiff rope are loosened and the winches start to work and the two of us get that damn thing up.

At this point, we return to the cut version of “Adrift” Adrift.  And there was much rejoicing.

Thank Neptune the tide was coming IN.

And we had a goram SPARE FAN BELT -that the Captain installed while I was sailing us slowly home.

Thinking, still better than being eaten by zombies, eh?



The Thinking Viking was craving a steak.  Work’s been busy, “good” busy, but man, eyestrain, sore feet and stress.  So I decided to take the easy route and went to my local Applebees.  Nice place, actually, probably owned by some corporate zombie vampire, but hey, once in a while.  Standard sirloin with taters, iced tea, the date was eating french onion soup and sipping a green apple martini.  The bill comes… faux leather folded thing with a Discover logo, longish receipt sticking out… pretty normal…and falls off the table. Receipt flying free.

I snatch it mid – air, and the receipt too. One handed. Without much apparent effort. Shit.

Waitress says “Nice catch”, with an odd “WTH?”  look.  They’re on to me.

Happy Friday!


PS. I left a 30% tip.

The Thinking Viking drives a compact 4×4 Subaru with the outback sport package.  Great car, solid, fast, not terribly expensive, but not cheap either   SO, anyway, I haven’t been writing here much since the election – so much fodder, I still have several drafts in the works, but that brings me to today’s topic.

A tool is only as effective as it’s user, and then only as effective as that user is able or chooses to use said tool. Cars are no different.  Sometimes you need to use your car a bit closer to its potential, push it a little, to get the best results.  And sometimes, mutual respect can create friendships without words.

Here’s the situation: California has been hit recently with some pretty nasty weather – they called it a “river in the air” and over several storms dumped several inches of rain.  I was driving to work during one of these deluges Wednesday morning (12/5/2012) , I was running hella late (but not worried about work – people understand with the weather) and I was just pulling onto the last stretch before journey’s end – a frontage road, long and straight with a  extra wide shoulder – primarily so that the big rigs that use the place can park off road and such, so its wide and basically a road right next to the road.  I usually hit this stretch at 45-50 MPH and the commute is done.

Here’s what happens this day and a couple of days later, via slightly edited (put in dates and corrected a couple of typos, may still be some) Facebook posts and comments.

“12/05/2012 To: The driver of the white Cadillac Escalade who I left covered in mud about fifteen minutes ago. 1. Sorry, I’m not normally an ass in traffic 2. You should have taken that off-road route around the construction and minor accident that I did (TIP you are driving one of the most powerful SUVs on the fucking planet) 3. the other Subaru behind me clearly thought the same, and I am not apologizing for his mud

Like · · Share
SJ- Seriously, the only reason I look at caddies now is because of Rock and Roll! That was the best advertising they ever did! It made me actually want a Cadillac for about 3 seconds!
Wednesday at 9:43am · Like

MJ idiot was sitting there balked at a “road closed” sign that only closed about 30 feet of “not paved’ construction zone, there was a minivan-minivan accident that was blocking the right turn a block ahead and piling everything up…. so yeah, I went off road and hit a rather big mud puddle at the bend…and the WRX behind me did exactly the same thing
Wednesday at 10:04am · Like

MJ *construction zone that was not being constructed due to weather – no workers put in danger
12/6/2012 -is it wrong that I am still grinning about splashing that shiny white Escalade with mud during the hellish rain past couple days?
Like · · Share · Promote · @MEJohnsen on Twitter · 23 hours ago via Twitter ·
AM and KTY like this.

MJ I think Subaru would approve.
22 hours ago · Like

AM Not wrong at all.
You don’t have to be a narcissistic douchesicle to drive an Escalade, but it helps.
22 hours ago · Like

MJ what really made me grin was the guy behind me – almost identical car as mine (for the record Subaru Impreza with Outback Sport options became the famed WRX), few years newer, and I think he kind of punched it in the mud at one particular spot

12/7/212 ok, that’s ten kinds of awesome. I look in the rear view while stopped at a light on my way to work? And who is grinning and waving? The “other Subaru” who helped me douse the white Escalade during the storm couplle days ago. Dude, when the zombies come, you’re on the team.
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3 and and 7 others like this.

TP- Remind me to stay away from you if I ever get a nice car! lol
11 hours ago · Unlike · 1

MJ Actually, my car is pretty nice, it’s just practical and didn’t cost 60K – and its paid for”

You don’t have to think about this one.


Last summer, I had a rattlesnake longer than my arm curl up next to my front door. As an animal lover, reptiles esp (I miss my iguanas sometimes) I normally would never harm a snake, but there are kids, old people, and beloved pets in my complex and this snake was a foot from my bare ankles.  Rattlesnake bite most likely would not kill me, a decent sized healthy adult man, but I have no desire to find out what it feels like, and trips to the ER are costly. He was just too close for comfort. Animal Control said basically ” We don’t do snakes” and the fire department wanted nothing to do with it either.

Without going into details, I have a large and very real Columbian machete (for zombies, you know?) that I put to a more mundane use.

Here’s the snake, right next to my front door:

Anyhow, I figure I had a unique opportunity to try what many consider a delicacy, and I hated the thought of just  killing  it and wasting  it. I won’t go into cleaning, just Google “cleaning a snake for cooking”.

First I made a beer-batter with a can of beer and flour added to get it the consistency of pancake batter.

Then rolled the snake in an  egg and then battered that sucker up.

Fried in deep-ish oil in my favorite cast iron skillet until it was flaky – much like fish gets when cooked.

Melted some butter, and I and my girlfriend ate that thing with a fork and dipped in butter. Ab-so-fucking-lutely delish. Tasted kinda like lobster, but with fish-like bones.

Simple and fairly quick. Trick is obtaining fresh snake, I suppose.


So, couple days back I notice my car  registration expired. Totally forgot that when you buy a used car in California, they don’t give you new tags.  Your registration fee is only good until the date that is already on the vehicle.  Well, I bought that zippy little blue Subaru in June, so I wasn’t thinking about this problem, ya know? But it should be easy.  Foolish mortal.

So, off to the Department of Motor Vehicles I go. Easy.  I take a number, plop my ass down and read my book.  Easy. In less time than I expected – this  IS the California DMV after all, my number comes up-  Easy.  I proceed to the window, turn over paperwork, chat a bit.  Easy.  Start to pay.  Easy. Then I discovered the insurance card I had was old, expired even.  Not Easy. They have Rules About These Things.  Never remembered to print out the new one I received via email.  I go home, no use fighting that battle. Not even an hour total.  Oh, well, things happen.

Something was bothering me…something about the people I was waiting with.  I’m bemused for a while, but nothing comes to me.  It’s not like they were the Walking Dead.  Couple were pretty pale, sure, but I doubt they were vampires.

So I’m set to go back today, but before I go, I read my new policy – I changed it after selling my beloved old BMW last week, and now only needed insurance on one vehicle, you know the  “little blue Subaru”, the only one I own now? Well, it wasn’t on the policy.  They took off the wrong car.

Facepalm.  I slowly shake my head.  Bloody hell. Time to call Customer Service.

Ray of sunshine! I get right through.  She seems competent.  I explain about the whole “wrong car” thing .  She tries to open my policy. And then she says “I’m sorry sir, but my system just crashed and I can’t correct your policy right now, I’ve just called IT for help. Umm”…

I’m not an asshole in these situations.  Typical call center rep HAS to call IT when things like this happen.  They’re not allowed to work on their PCs.

“Can you transfer me to someone whose computer is working? It’s kind of  a problem, you know, the wrong car? Car I’m driving over there uninsured?  The DMV will probably notice that.” See? It is that easy.

“Sorry, sir, the phone system is tied to our accounts program… it’s all down” – she sounded worried.

“Can I have someone call you ? at (my correct cell number)”.

“Sure.”  I’m resigned to failure this time.  Time for  plan B: I’ll eat lunch, wait for a call and  THEN go.

An hour later a new policy drops into my email.  Guess they figured out the trouble.  Yes, the right vehicle is there. Print this baby out and I’m good to go.  Find printer, power cord, USB and….PRINT!

My ink has run dry.  I don’t have a spare. Sigh.  OK, go to FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos) and print, THEN to the DMV.

Hell, it’s now after 3 when I arrive.  I wait for a number, then read my book.  Hmm – no one else is reading.  Just one old dude in the next row.  Now, at forty, kids call me “old” and it would be a little odd for me to date a 20-something. But I am not old- that guy, he was old.  He looked happy and healthy though, and if he’s at the DMV then  he can still drive. Good for him.  And he is the only other person reading to pass the time.  Few cell phones in use, a couple texting, couple music fans.  But most were just… sitting there.  Kind of zombie like.  Not grim but all rather sad looking.  This kind of unnerved me.  More on that later.

It is the same routine, but now all is in order. My number is called, station 17.  Papers shuffle, I hand her my debit card.

“Declined” — tries again “Declined”- and I just checked my balances, I have plenty in there.  I look at the credit card terminal.  Suspicious because the only other place this happened, they had a particular brand of credit card machine – a Hypercom.  Those who know me know just how much I know about these machines, they are readily spotted by the color and layout of their keypads and printers.

And…the DMV has exclusively Hypercoms.   We try it at three stations.  I know what’s wrong, mag stripe is weak and the terminal is not picking up all the needed bits of data off my card, simply hand keying it will allow it to process.  I also know there is no way to convince her to hand key the card number. They get too much fraud.

I don’t have enough cash to cover it.  It’s 4:15.

I ask her if I can skip the line when I come back? She says sure, but I have to be in the door before 5. I jog to the car.  My bank is only five or so minutes away.  Fifteen minutes later I’m back with cash, walk right in, wait while she finishes her current customer and…done and done.

But I can’t stop thinking – no one else was reading to pass the time?  What does this mean about our society?  That out of forty+ people, 25-30 just sat there, staring, not talking or reading?

Is it the DMV that sucks the life from those who enter its doors?  Maybe, but I don’t recall it being this way years ago.

I think what I saw was mass mild DMV induced despair.  If I had this much trouble just getting registered when I wasn’t expecting to, what other night mares must those people be dealing with?

Just a theory.