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Thursday, Feb. 03, 2005
I got tagged by Batten for the quiz. I guess it was inevitable, everybody else on the net has taken this thing but me, and itís a slow Thursday here.

Total amount of music files on your computer?

Absolute zero on this new laptop. I honked in on the KaZaa site with the desktop years ago, got less than a hundred, never did enough of it and now they make you pay. Story of my life.

Last CD you bought?

I buy in spurts, bought a stash with Gift Cards after Christmas. Letís say it was a Michael McDonald G-hits, for arguments sake.

Song you last listened to?

ĎOl 55, The Eagles. Very bittersweet.

The absolutely weirdly over the top video?

Beavis, doing the Cornholio routine to a song I canít remember because I was laughing so hard the dog went after my leg.

Five songs you often listen to that mean a lot to you? Five? Jeez . . .

1. Doctor Wu: Steely Dan
2. Wouldnít it be Nice: Beach Boys
3. Good Times: Edie Brickell
4. Not Fade Away: Grateful Dead - Live from Alpine Valley 1989
5. Diamond in the Rough: Shawn Colvin

Most memorable group or ensemble?

Steely Dan, for more reasons than I can publish. Thereís 25 songs I listen to often just by this group alone. I asked my wife to make sure if I go before her that they play several tunes at the wake. Over the sound system of the boat that theyíll have the party on, a boat built by my own hands (do you get the impression that youíre dealing with the last vestige of the Romantic Age here?).

Thanks Batt. But now youíve got me pining for that new Marantz receiver Iíve had my eye on, the one that sings me a siren song whenever I go into the high dollar sound shop that I have absolutely no business even driving past. Itís lust coupled with 7 separate amplifiers, I tell ye.

Just as a random endorsement, and I rarely endorse anything made after 1962, let me just say that This Link will lead you to a computer product that does not suck. I use it, itís relatively cheap, it performs as advertised and itĎs log rolling simple to figure out. If you run WinXP with all the Service Packs and this utility, perhaps you too will have a unit that has zero pop-ups and damn little problems of any sort.

Having said that, youíll need to get your own voodoo shrine for the computer desk, a reliable vendor of fresh chicken bones and a chunk of solid ash lumber to rap your knuckles against on a daily basis. Iím just saying. Every little bit helps.

I only spent about 10 years in the house I grew up in, hardly a full childhood but the fact that it was from age 5 until around 15 is telling. Itís a place bound and determined to etch out all sort of memory and remembrance.

The backyard wasnít all that big because there was the whole matter of a shallow creek at the very back of the property, flowing at the bottom of a steep ravine. The ravine itself indicated that at one time this was a lot more than a creek, it was an honest river that carved out a lot of dirt over a lot of years.

But when I got my little hands on it, there was not much more than a pair of steep earthen sides, a foot deep flowing creek bed about 6 feet wide and mature trees sprouting everywhere. It was wilderness at the bottom of that ravine, the houses at the top disappeared and 48" tall boys could see nothing but stockades full of border scouts and Iroquois with painted faces behind every bush.

And I donít know who set it up or when, but there was an attraction set up right in my very own forest that drew fellow frontiersmen from blocks around. Someone had shinnied up a tall tree growing right at the edge of the creek and tied off a long rope in the crook of a branch. The loose end of the rope had a fat knot in it, and if you were to grab that knot and clamber up the steep slope of the ravine, right to the very top where it flattened out into a suburban yard, you could sit a bony butt right on the knot and pick your feet up and let gravity take its course.

A perfect flight would send you whooshing down the slope, over the creek some 30 feet below then back to the starting point where small feet would clabber for purchase lest the voyage start all over again with less velocity. The whole trip probably took less than 5 seconds but Iíd have kids riding that thing all day. It was flying in the most simple of ways, a gust of wind at your face and the creaking of rope against tree, never really knowing if this might be the one time that the rope parted ways from the branch and send you soaring to the far side of the water and into a rather nasty patch of thorn bushes on the other side.

One daring lad, the lunatic fringe of us all would go at his turn on the rope by kicking off diagonally and flying straight at the rope tree and certain death, but somehow, in the way that only a ten year old can do, would wrap legs around the trunk of that tree just as he hit and dangle up there, nearly upside down and laughing hysterically, hanging there until we all shouted for him to let go and bring the rope back to us, hopefully with his daredevil self still attached.

I tried that once, and only once. Trying to mate, legs akimbo, with an unmoving oak tree at fifty mph and some thirty feet above mother earth taught me a lesson. I still wince when I watch some poor gymnast on TV who makes the ultimate error on the balance beam, and theyíve got real doctors on hand for heavens sake.

But Iíd give a lot to go back to that rope swing for a day. To be small enough to make the physics of the whole thing work like it did, to see the world from way up there in my open cockpit with nothing to do but hang on to that brown rope and wish for another turn at being immortal. To feel life in a spruce breeze and a froth of dandelion seeds rushing past your shoulder in flight and the soft earth of an old sloping hill to catch you on the way back. Small hands with no fear and lithe legs to make a go of it.

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