Posted by: elraymundo at 9:55 pm on Monday, September 17, 2007
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random

So, this is what it feels like to be fired. What a buzzkill.

A Sheet of Molten Glass

Posted by: elraymundo at 4:18 pm on Thursday, September 13, 2007
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random, Lotus Blossom

For the second time in less than a week and the umpteenth time in the last year a DirecTV technician has come to the château to fix a satellite system that has, yet again, vomited all over itself.

“I see the problem,” said the Chief Manager Technical Supervisor Install Lead Tech guy while standing in my backyard. “The dish is too close to the roof.”

“What do you mean it’s too close to the roof?”

“The pole supporting the dish is too short. The dish is too close to your roof and the heat from your roof is short-circuiting the LNBs. That’s why you have no satellite signal.”

“Heat from the roof.”

“Yes. Heat from the roof.”

Well, the TV worked when he left. However, it also worked when the tech left five days ago - and his fix worked less than 24 hours. As a matter of fact, the TV has worked after every tech has left the crime scene, only to puke vomitoriously at some random moment (like when the Vikings scored a touchdown on a fake field goal last season) and then die a sudden, silent, black-blipped death.

Call me a cynic, but I’m dubious about the heat-radiating-from-the-roof- frying-the-dish’s-LNBs story. But I guess we’ll see in time. I really hope the installer is right. If he is wrong, then, judging by yesterday’s volcanic eruption, Mount La Raymunda will blow catastrophically and there may be nothing but a sheet of molten glass on Sugar Meadow Drive where our house once stood.


A guest on NPR said, “The Shakespeare Theater Company of Washington, D.C. has more season ticket subscribers than the Washington Capitals.”

I wonder if Washingtonians are really that cultured or if the disparity is related to the Caps having only won 32% of their games since 2003?

Factoring Trinomials, or My Adventures with the Satanic Bible

Posted by: elraymundo at 5:24 pm on Wednesday, September 12, 2007
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random, Friends, Family

Last night I drove by The Family’s and dropped off homemade chocolatey fudge bombs for Karla, who, lucky girl, shares her birthday with the anniversary of the World Trade Center/Pentagon bombings. Ringing the doorbell, I peeked through the window and saw Ian at the kitchen table, hands jammed against his cheeks, his face red, staring at the table top.

Annette came to the door, slightly flustered. I told her I had chocolatey fudge bombs for Karla and she directed me to go around to the back of the house to the porch.

“Karla’s back there. Ian and I are working through some math problems and some agitas.” She blew me a kiss and I walked around to the back porch where Amy, Karla, Devon and I feasted on fudge bombs. Ten minutes or so passed and Annette, whom I could see through the window, waved us into the house.

Ian, still a little red but no longer trying to drive his fists through his own face, was in a little better shape.

“Are you at that point where all the math is hitting the brick wall in your brain and falling lifeless to the ground?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Ian, smiling as much as an Emo is permitted.

“Yeah, I remember that. Happened to me too. Listen, don’t worry about it. It’ll all make sense when you figure out how your brain best processes math.” Ian glanced up through his bangs with a doubtful look. “Probably when you’re about twenty-three,” I added.

Ian wasn’t encouraged.

“Show me what you’re doing,” I said.

Ian turned his worksheet so I could see the problems. The worksheet said:

Factoring Trinomials

1. x2 + 5x - 20

I picked the paper up and held it to the light. It was a jumble of x’s and exponents and parenthesis and other Satanic symbols.

“What the hell do you have to know this stuff for?” I said, handing the worksheet back to Ian. Annette missed me with a kick under the table.

“That’s what I’ve been wanting to know,” mumbled Ian.

“I have no idea how to do this stuff. Do you?”

“A little,” said Ian. He opened a notebook and wrote some numbers and parenthesis and solved for x - or maybe factored for x - which to me resembled an alchemist’s carrot cake recipe. “First you find the Greatest Common Factor and then you switch the negative sign…” mumble mumble drone drift into fog…

I winced as a painful flashback of ninth grade shot through my brain, pimples and angst and gratuitous moodiness preceding a searing, fiery arc of x’s and y’s and square root symbols which etched themselves into an unerasable chalkboard in my mind while the bodiless voice of Mr. Casalegno, cloaked in shadow, reminded me to “show your work”.

Ian, sensing I was drifting, mercifully closed the notebook. Karla handed out chocolatey fudge bombs. Fog dispersed; spirits lifted. We chatted a few minutes longer and then I said I had to go. “I’m under instructions not to linger,” I said.

We said our goodbyes and as I stepped across the threshold and onto the front porch I stopped. Calling back over my shoulder I shouted what I hoped was encouragement. “You’ll be all right, Ian. You’ll get past all this. It’s just really gonna suck!”

Office Pool - Week One

Posted by: elraymundo at 4:33 pm on Monday, September 10, 2007
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random, NFL, Euphoria, Lotus Blossom

I correctly picked 12 of 14 NFL winners this weekend and am tied for first in the weekly office pool. The kitty isn’t huge, only $75, but if the Ravens, Bengals, 49ers and Cardinals score 69 points combined (or higher) tonight then that seventy-five bucks is mine. Mine! Mine all mine, I tell you! I’ll travel the world in a private jet! Buy a fleet of Lamborghinis! Do a line of coke off Angelina Jolie’s butt cheek! Or finally get that bluewater yacht I’ve been dreaming about! Or maybe a manor house in Normandy!!!

Hmmm…or perhaps take La Raymunda to Outback for a filet, a Bloomin’ Onion and a couple of Newcastle Brown Ales. Or Famous Dave’s for a Devil’s Spit burger. I likes me a Devil’s Spit burger.

Itchy Corporate Drone

Posted by: elraymundo at 2:08 pm on Friday, September 7, 2007
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random, Travel

A few weeks ago I received a “Hey, Remember Me?” email from Dawn, a high school classmate. We traded digital howdys back and forth and I asked her if she had the email addresses of a few people I’ve wanted to track down. Dawn replied with Amber’s email address, which got buried in my Inbox until yesterday. Faced with an incredibly dull day at work, I suddenly remembered I had the address and I dashed out a “Hey, Remember Me?” note to Amber and popped it off into the ether.

This morning there was a response sitting in my Inbox.

Is this the Beatle-maniac, Trivial pursuit guru, Davis-attending, big brother of my high-school best friend… she wrote. Yup, I had the right Amber.

Amber gave a quick rundown on what she’s been up to since we lost track of each other in 1991. Kids, marriage, job and where has the time gone? I replied with a quick year-by-year summary of my own life. It looked (more or less) like this:

1991 - Finished up at Davis and hit the road. Traveled to Europe. Ran the bulls in Pamplona. Lived in Seattle in 1991, San Diego in 1992, moved to Virginia in 1992 and have been trying to escape since.

1993 - 1997 - Lived abroad in Prague. Hitchhiked and wandered Europe. Worked at REI selling hiking boots, both in Virginia and in Phoenix, Arizona. Worked a season in Alaska fishing for salmon on commercial boats. Slept on couches, lived on Grape Nuts, skim milk and Butterfinger candy bars. Always broke. Had indescribable amounts of fun.

1998 - Finished second season of commercial fishing in Alaska. Road trip from Seattle to Virginia via Mexico. Vast amount of silliness. In a random twist of fate, took some computer classes in Virginia and, by some Hand of God intervention, passed seven very difficult exams to gain a MCSE certification.

1999 - 2007 Somehow landed a job in the tech/Internet industry. Caught The Debra while fishing off the company pier. Got engaged. Bought a house. Got married. Bliss. Moved up the corporate ladder. Changed jobs after six years at Time Warner Cable. Bliss. Traveled to Tuscany, the French Alps, Chile, Easter Island, Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, Iceland, Kenya, Tanzania, Normandy & Paris, Morocco, Argentina and Antarctica with La Raymunda. Had tons of giggly fun.

Then I wound up my response with what, lately, I fear is becoming true:

Now battling the creeping realization that perhaps I am becoming a corporate drone and am planning elaborate escapes to wilder lands that smell more like cloves and cinnamon than printer cartridges and recycled oxygen.

I’m starting to think it’s about time to do something radical. I was 23 when I really started traveling. Ten years later I was firmly plugged into the corporate world. Now, seven years after that, I think it might be time to move on again. I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve and now maybe it’s time, you know, for something different. Or maybe a different version of what worked before. Thinking it might be time to shove an ether-soaked washcloth under La Raymunda’s nose, throw her in a big black duffel bag, take a cab to the airport (”Just ignore the wiggling and kicking coming from the duffel bag, driver. Yes, the United terminal, please”) and board a plane to somewhere, anywhere, as long as it isn’t here or tied to a 9-5 corporate job.

“I think,” said the pint of Guinness I imagined was in my hand as I sat propped on my elbows at an Irish pub set at the end of a craggy stone wall draped in shockingly-saturated green moss and lichen in a lost village somewhere in the mists or Ireland, “that it is time for you to open a dive shop in Tonga, or a sea kayaking tour company in Fiji, or a pub in Normandy, or perhaps to wander around Europe’s footpaths for a year or two, walking with La Raymunda until you have it all sorted out in your brain.” At which point I thank my Guinness for providing me with such clarity and remember that Debra is still tied up in the black duffel bag and probably should be let out for a snack or a Newcastle Brown Ale or some potato skins or something.

I could do a dive shop in Tonga. Really, I could.


Posted by: elraymundo at 10:23 am on Thursday, September 6, 2007
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random, NFL

Leona Hemsley’s toy Maltese, Trouble, inherited 12 million dollars and now people want Trouble to make room at the dog dish:

“That dog got money. That money is going to be taken away from that dog.”

–Remus Pop, son of Zamfira Sfara, Leona Helmsley’s housekeeper


El Raymundo: Lunch?
Friend A: Yes please, anything NOT to go to lunch with John “It’s a Gay Gene, I can tell” Doe
El Raymundo: Oh, in that case we must, over a roast beef on wheat, discuss the ramifications of the Kant-Laplace Nebular Hypothesis on the impact of the infield fly rule.
El Raymundo: And I simply don’t think John “If Science Can Prove That Homosexuality Is Predetermined Then I Guess I Am OK With Them Having Basic Civil Rights” Doe is up to speed on all that.
Friend A: location and time please
El Raymundo: Quizno’s @ 11:15?
Friend A: Meet you there?
El Raymundo: Oui.
Friend A: So be it.
El Raymundo: I may have to blog the beginning of this conversation.
El Raymundo: Changing the name to protect the stupid and the bigoted, of course.


This means something only to fans of the Minnesota Vikings:

Massive defensive tackle “Phat” Pat Williams had his contracted extended and is expected to sign it on Friday. This is great news for our defense and prompted me to write a Phaiku:

Guard squished like pancake
Green rain from bright purple skies
Ribs are damn good eats


Bono (U2) is at a concert in Ireland when he asks the audience for some quiet. Then in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his hands. Holding the audience in total silence, he says into the microphone… “Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies.”

A voice from near the front of the audience pierces the silence…

“Fookin stop doing it then!”


Michelle D: what do you think about this whole myspace thing?
El Raymundo: I hate myspace. I loathe it. I think it’s crap.
El Raymundo: I would rather disembowel myself than have a myspace page.
Michelle D: why?
El Raymundo: It’s web for the unwashed masses.
Michelle D: hmmm
Michelle D: i see
Michelle D: dan says it is about networking
El Raymundo: It’s about dorks on the web finding each other so they can dance in a dork field filled with dork flowers while sticking their tongues to frozen dork maypoles.


Why Men Are Better Friends (emailed by Chrisuvius)

Friendship Between Women:
A woman didn’t come home one night. The next day she told her husband that she had slept over at a friend’s house. The man called his wife’s 10 best friends. None of them knew about it.

Friendship between Men:
A man didn’t come home one night. The next day he told his wife that he had slept over at a friend’s house. The woman called her husband’s 10 best friends. Eight of them confirmed that he had slept over, and two claimed that he was still there.

A Night at the Ballpark

Posted by: elraymundo at 5:33 pm on Wednesday, September 5, 2007
From: Great Falls, Virginia
Filed under: Random

It was the bottom of the ninth at RFK. The hometown Nationals were down by one, had runners on the corners and were down to their last out. Walking to the plate was Jesus Flores, the Nat’s rookie catcher and number eight hitter. Flores wasn’t having a good game: he’d committed two errors, dropping two sure-out foul ball pop-ups, and been stolen on twice in the game.

Jeff W and I had seats in the second deck behind home plate. It was an exquisite early-September night with midnight blue skies and languorous, soft-flowing air. It was the kind of night that linked present to past; we could have been at Fenway in 1941 watching Ted Williams hit .406, or the Polo Grounds in 1954, awed by a young Willie Mays robbing Vic Wertz or the old Met in Bloomington where Rod Carew crouched over home plate, compressing himself into a six inch high strike zone, and flirted with .400 for most of the 1977 season. It could have been any ballpark in any city on any summer’s night…and into this singularity stepped Jesus Flores, emerging from the dugout behind the third baseline, climbing the steps into the warm evening air, leaving behind the same dugout I had stretched across to reach Joe DiMaggio a very long time ago.

“I was here twenty years ago,” I said to Jeff in the sixth inning. “I guess it was twenty years ago this summer, with my dad. We came here together to watch an Old Timer’s game.” I pointed at the home team’s dugout. “All the AL players were hanging out over there.”

“Which guys were there?” asked Jeff.

“Luke Appling, Warren Spahn, Bob Feller, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew…some other guys I don’t remember…and Joe DiMaggio.”

“Wow, those were all great ballplayers.”

“Bob Feller was funny. He’d only sign baseballs. Kids were screaming at him to sign their programs but he refused. I brought a ball to the game and tossed it out to him and he signed it. Then DiMaggio came out and the place went nuts. A lot of the old timer’s nobody knew, but everyone knew DiMaggio and wanted his autograph. They pressed forward against the dugout and smashed other people up against it. Joe signed a few programs and baseballs and chatted for a few minutes and then turned to go back inside the dugout. I stuck my arm toward him, pushing it through the crowd, holding my baseball. He saw it and took the ball and signed it, then he put the ball back in my hand and went inside. I was the last person he signed for.”

“That’s pretty cool. Did you ask him what it was like with Marilyn?”

“Nah, I wasn’t close enough,” I said, laughing. “But what a lucky guy, huh? Married to THE sex symbol of the entire 20th century.”

“That is pretty good.”

“Most glamorous athlete with the most glamorous starlet.”

“And the dumbest.”

I took a sip of my beer. “I wonder if Marilyn shaved,” I said.

“No way,” said Jeff. “It was the 1950s.”

We debated sex symbols from different decades. Angelina Jolie and Raquel Welch and Pamela Anderson and Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda circa Barbarella and Bo Derek, Sophia Loren, Farah Fawcett and Ursula Andress.

“I think the Sixties was the Golden Age of the sex kitten,” I said.

“I disagree. I think your influenced by nostalgia,” replied Jeff.

“Come on. You’d argue that Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot, Ursula Andress, Jane Fonda, and Sophia Loren don’t define the term?” Jeff considered and shrugged non-comittaly.

“I think Marilyn has lasted so long as a sex symbol because we never saw her age,” said Jeff. “She’s frozen at the height of her fame and attractiveness. We never watched her get old and fall apart, like Elizabeth Taylor.”

“Or Brigitte Bardot, now that she looks like a leather handbag from all the sun damage.”

“Have you heard the theory that no matter how rich or good looking or famous you are that you will always have one major flaw?” I shook my head. “For example,” Jeff continued, “you could be the best looking male movie star on the planet, and be married to the best looking female movie star on the planet, but your best looking movie star wife will be addicted to adopting third world orphans and won’t shut up talking about granola.”

About this time the catcher walked out to the mound for a conference with the pitcher. “Candlesticks are always nice,” I said, and we laughed.

I thought about how nice it would be to retire someplace where they had a big league team and just spend the days going to the ballpark, eating bratwurst with onions and drinking beers and Cokes and looking for young ladies spilling out of their tops. We talked about it, Jeff and I, at the last Nationals game we attended and we agreed that that would be an enjoyable way to spend retirement. I mocked-up a conversation between us as old men, à la the old Jewish couple in When Harry Met Sally, how they reminisced about how they met, talking all over each other to tell their story.

“Look at this guy run…”

“…he moves like a gazelle…”

“…like Guerrero…do you remember Guerrero…?”

“…he ran like the wind…”

“…he didn’t run, he glided…”

“…like a gazelle…”

“…it’s a shame we couldn’t keep him…”

“…we didn’t have the money…”

“…it’s a challenge for small market teams…”

“…Oh! The peanut man! Peanuts!

Then came the bottom of the ninth. Dmitri Young walked to put the tying run aboard and was lifted for a pinch runner. Austin Kearns struck out. Wily Mo Peña singled and the runner advanced to third. Then Ronnie Belliard popped a bunt foul to the first baseman and Jesus Flores started his slow march from the dugout to the plate. “This guy’s had a lousy game,” I said to Jeff. “I hope he wins this thing right here.”

“He’s had some clutch hits,” he said.

“America loves a redemption story,” I said in a nasal old-time-sportscaster voice. “The rookie catcher is coming to the plate with runners at the corners and two out here in the bottom of the ninth. He’s had a bad night defensively but he’s got a chance to redeem himself here. The pitcher’s winding up and now here’s the oh-oh pitch…”

Two pitches later Flores ripped a screaming shot down the third base line that stopped dead in the deepest corner of left field. Ryan Langerhans scored easily from third to tie the game. Wily Mo Peña rounded second from first and labored toward third. The left fielder reached the ball and dug it out of the corner while Peña touched third and turned toward home. The crowd rose to its feet. The throw came in and Peña chugged toward the plate looking like he was lugging a fridge full of frozen meat on his back and as the throw came down the line toward home Peña hit the dirt and slid across the plate.

The throw was not in time! Peña jumped to his feet, the winning run in and I saw Jesus Flores, the rookie catcher, leap high in the air over second base, pumping his fists in the air while his teammates rushed from the dugout and mobbed him, pummeling him with their fists. The crowd stood, roaring and clapping.

“When they get a hit like that they all run out and punch the guy who made the hit,” Jeff shouted.

Probably the best beating he ever got, I thought.