Ask Me Anything: I answer your burning questions

A week or so ago, while wandering through the Desert of Lost Creativity, I stumbled onto the idea of doing an AMA post. I solicited questions via Faceborg and this here blog-like thing, and promised to consider answering them. Some of y’all joined in, and in keeping with the ongoing theme of the Gazette, threw out a mix of queries both serious and silly. I expected no less from alert Gazette readers, who, as a group, are above average in every respect (and who would be way above average except for a couple who drag the curve down. You know who you are.).

Since I’ve always(ish) been true(ish) to my word, I said I would answer your questions, so here goes.

But first, here’s a brief video of a mud turtle facing off against two young armadillo punks.

Animated GIF of mud turtle lunging towards two curious young armadillos

My pal and former co-worker and neighbor, Ken, asked “who is Paisono [sic] Pete?

Well, Ken, I don’t know a Paisono Pete, but I can tell you with absolute authority that Paisano Pete is the world’s biggest roadrunner, and stands at the corner of Dickinson Blvd (aka US Highway 285) and Main Street in Fort Stockton, Texas. OK, he’s not an actual roadrunner; they’re notoriously uncooperative and would be highly unlikely to stand in place for decades. He’s really just a fiberglass statue. Hope you’re not too disappointed.

My pal and fellow Aggie, Larry, asked “have you taken care of the car warranty yet?

Larry, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times…quit calling me about that *(&%^*( car warranty! Not only are you annoying me, but you’re tying up my phone and I’m afraid I’m going to miss finding out why the IRS is about to arrest me.

My pal and former business associate, Stephen, asked for my DL and Birthday and favorite password.

Steve, I’ll be happy to share my dental lab with you, and I’m sorry your teeth are bothering you again. Did my recommendation for that periodontist in Orla not work out? As usual, my birthday is coming up, so watch for it; I really need a new iPad…thanks for asking. I don’t have a favorite password, though. I have TWO of them (thereby doubling my security). I’ll share them here in pig latin so nobody else can steal them: asswordpay (that makes me laugh every time!), and asswordpayootay.

My pal and former client/collaborator, Burr, posed a very serious question: “what’s the worst part of getting older?

Burr, since we’re all getting older and have been every second since the minute we were born, I’ll assume you mean “what’s the worst part of being the age I am?” For me, that means staring down the barrel of a seventh decade. And for me, the worst part of this age is the realization that the days of personal improvement are behind me…at least in terms of physical and mental capabilities. I don’t sense it daily, but periodically I’m reminded that I can no longer do or think or speak (or, obviously, write) as well as I previously could, and there’s no logical reason to believe that trend will be stalled, much less reversed.

Fortunately, I don’t tend to dwell [too much] on that fact. And, increasingly, I take comfort in knowing that the spiritual realm isn’t subject to the same constraints imposed by age. God’s grace has always proven sufficient, and I believe it always will. Lately, Galatians 5:22-23 has simultaneously challenged and assured me that the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control — are attributes that will not abate through the passage of time, but can actually increase. I think that’s pretty cool.

By the way, I’d be interested to hear your answer to your question.

As long as we’re being serious…

My pal and cousin Wendy asked “what is your greatest regret?

You mean besides coming up with this Ask Me Anything exercise? 😉

That’s a quite thought-provoking question, Wendy (as you knew it would be). And it’s sort of the flip side to Burr’s query, because it makes me look back on my life as opposed to looking ahead.

There’s no huge elephant-in-the-room regret that I can single out, but there are a ton of things I did or decisions I made that I wish I had the ability to go back and change. (Buying a Plymouth Neon would be pretty close to the top of that list. As would eating a salad at the Chili’s in Midland during the Great Shigellosis Epidemic of the Eighties.)

I can think of so many times I’ve disappointed or failed or mistreated other people, to the point where it’s almost unbearable to contemplate in the aggregate. Fortunately, again, God’s grace and the kindness of others have salved most of that. But if I had to focus on a single, albeit amorphous “regret,” it would have to be that I wasn’t as good a son or brother or husband or friend as I should have — and could have — been.

Whew. How about those Astros, huh?

My pal and former fellow church member Suzanne asked “why did y’all move away from Midland?

The answer to that question is fairly complicated, Suzanne, but it’s a combination of what repelled us in Midland and what attracted us where we landed in Horseshoe Bay.

We lived in Midland for 35 years. We got there in 1982, so we got to “enjoy” three-plus decades of boom-and-bust oil bidness. That got old (although I confess, almost guiltily, that we were never affected as directly and severely as many of our friends and acquaintances). Toward the end, we grew tired of the traffic and the trash and the lines to get into restaurants. Midland had changed in a lot of ways in those decades, and many of the changes weren’t positive, from our perspective.

In addition, many of our friends were also retiring and moving away from Midland, for mostly the same reasons I describe above. Our social network was dissolving to some extent. We were also not completely content with our church experience, but I don’t want to get into that. Our family ties to the area were also disappearing as parents passed away.

At the same time, we had found a place that seemed to offer what we had begun to lose in Midland. We found a church that immediately felt like home from the first visit. We found a community of people with shared values, and one where some of those aforementioned friends also ended up. We found upgraded entertainment opportunities (live music, dances, water sports) and beautiful scenery.

Look, I don’t mean to disparage Midland, and especially not Midlanders; some of our favorite people in the world still live there. In fact, the people are what we miss most about Midland. But we all have different priorities in life, and in my experience, those priorities can change over time. Ours did, and the result was that Midland no longer offered many of the things that make us happy and content.

I would also be lying if I said Horseshoe Bay is perfection, because there are a number of things about living here that we wish were different. But, hey, that’s what Heaven is for, right?

My pal and fellow Fort Stocktonite, who goes by Merle (I think there’s a witness protection program angle here, but I’m not going there), asked the penetrating question, “I don’t hear the radio sound in the house but when I go to bed I hear the sound threw [sic] the pillow?

This has puzzled philosophers and medical professionals through the ages, Merle, so I’m not sure why you think I have the answer. But I’ll take a shot.

When the cochlea stimulates the auditory nerve by way of the vestibule and the semi-circular canals, it can set up sinusoidal plane waves whose amplitude and frequency will often intrude upon consciousness, and present itself in peculiar-yet-interesting ways.

OK, I’m just kidding. What is really happening is that the voices in your head have grown weary of speaking to you and not getting any answers, so they’re now singing. Indulge them, would you? They’ve put in a lot of practice time.

My pal and former fellow blogger Gwynne, being the rebel CPA that we all know her to be, violated the rules (unwritten but nonetheless universally understood) and asked two questions: “Over or under?” and “Yellow or blue?

These are trick questions and I’m not falling for your clever ruse, Gwynne. My guiding philosophy has always been (1) to never get involved in a land war in Asia, and (b) avoid questions about position and color.

[Over and blue]

And, finally, my pal and former co-worker Larry asked a question designed to get me in more trouble than Rudy Giuliani’s makeup technician. To wit: “What was your involvement in the alternative ARCO Spark? Were you or Joe (last name redacted due to an active restraining order) involved in the IPB men’s bathroom analysis? (Again, two questions; what’s with you guys, anyway?)

The answers to these questions requires more context than time, space, and the statute of limitations allows. Suffice it to say that someone at some point published an unauthorized satirical version of the official intraoffice newsletter of a Fortune 100 company and it somehow garnered the attention of some of the management of said company. Hilarity ensued, because we all know that corporate executives love a good satire. And they would have loved this one, had it been, well, you know…good. Among the articles in the alt-pub was an exposĂ© of the best and worst restrooms in one of said corporation’s office buildings in Dallas. The editorial and writing staff remains anonymous to this day, and I have no idea why Larry would even ask me about it. For the record, I never went to the bathroom on the job; that wouldn’t have been fair to my employer. So I couldn’t possibly have ranked the alleged bathrooms in that alleged building.

I think that about covers it. Many thanks to everyone who wasted invested their valuable time by indulging me in this narcissistic endeavor. I’m just grateful that no one asked any math questions.


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