Monthly Archives: April 2012

That Burning Sensation

burn baby burnGreetings Gentle Readers.  Today’s topic is about burning wood.  Specifically:  burning the tree tops and branches left over from the logging operation that was done on our property.  We selectively harvested the lumber grade trees a couple of years ago.  And the fetching Mrs. Intrepid Traveler and I are still cleaning up the remains left by the loggers.  It is hard, dirty work, but my wife feels lucky that she can do it.  I thought it would be helpful for me to offer my suggestions to you if you have a wife and have recently logged your property.  Here are some handy tips for assisting her in getting your property restored to a park-like condition:

Plan ahead

Check the weather report.  You can’t burn when it is too dry, too windy, too wet, too dark, or too hot.  In other words, you shouldn’t ever burn.  If you are like me, you look at bad burning weather as a dare by Mother Nature to ignite giant piles of wood in spite of the risks.  Since you can’t change the weather, just roll the proverbial dice and light it up.  Firefighters have jobs for a reason.  Keep them employed.

Start early

Since fires are hot, you don’t want to be standing near it during the heat of the day.  Start early in the morning.  But first take time to eat the hearty breakfast that your wife has fixed for you.  She can start working outside on the wood debris right after she tidies up the kitchen. Don’t rush her.  Use this time to read the newspaper.  You need to stay up on current events, you know.  And you can check the weather report.   Since you are the male, you are the one designated to light the bonfire.  There is a “Man Rule” written about this somewhere. This rule can be found in the same place where it says men should only do the cooking when outdoors; it is OK for men to smell odd; and men can scratch inappropriate areas of their body in public.  After you have ignited the pile of wood and know it is burning well, let your wife tend the fire.  It is time for you to take that richly deserved nap.

Use Mechanical devices

Since you are the male, you get to use the mechanical devices.  In my case, it is a tractor.  I drive it in to the forest where the debris is to be burned.  Since there is only one seat on a tractor, the wife has to walk.  But that’s OK.  It is good exercise and she wants to keep that girlish figure you fell in love with when you were dating her.  The tractor will do all the heavy lifting.  I use it to drag the big logs in to create a pile.  My wife is there to unhook the chain and re-hook it on to the next big log.  I have to do the real work of steering the tractor, which can be difficult.  This is a skill that a woman just doesn’t have.  Women drivers have a bad reputation for a reason.

Wear appropriate protection.

Your wife should have good leather gloves to keep her hands soft.  She should have a broad brimmed had to keep the sun from her face. And she should have long pants and shirt to protect her skin from scratches.  She’ll be the one crawling around the tree stumps and branches, so let her buy the proper protection.  A real woman would prefer to have the right gear so she can work hard but stay looking young rather than to use that money for dining out or on a new vacuum cleaner.

Be persistent

I don’t know how it is in your forest, but our place has about 30 acres of wooded area that was selectively cut.  This means there is a huge number of tree tops and branches that are on the ground.  I know that nature will eventually cause this wood to decay but I can’t wait that long.  When I look out in to the woods and see a tangle of tree branches, it hurts my delicate sensibilities.  So it is important for me to instill in my wife the understanding that this job will take time.  She needs to plan her day around piling and burning wood.  If you anticipate ever needing to burn massive amounts of wood debris, you might want to marry a petite woman.  My theory is that petite women don’t have as far to bend over to pick the branches up. However, I did not marry a petite woman.  I failed to anticipate this future need for my spouse.  I chose my wife, instead, on old fashion values:  how much money her family had.

And finally

If the fires get out of hand because you ignored the weather report or the burn ban, do not fret.  There are always excuses for the fire raging out of control and burning down every house in the county.  All you have to do is start a new fire near your neighbor’s yard and claim it started there when he was burning a printed copy of these instructions.  Or better yet, blame it on his wife.  Everyone knows women can’t be trusted with fire, unsupervised, unless it is safely ensconced in a kitchen stove.

I know this is the age of YouTube and most people get their instructions from videos rather than reading them.  But taking the advice of my attorney, I did not do a video of how to burn tree limbs.  He said it could be “evidence” to use against me in a divorce hearing.  Divorce?  Why would I want to get a divorce?  I still have acres of wood yet to burn.

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Very Tall Things

the Burg Khalifa – World’s tallest empty building

Very Tall things

Greetings Gentle Readers. I write to you today from the city of Kuala Lumpur, which is in the country of Malaysia. This is another hot and steamy South East Asian country where mildew is the official national flower. I am here for a presentation but I left my laptop computer back at the airport in Houston. I realized it when I was on the plane so I alerted the airline; they located it and put it in the Lost and Found for me. I hope they find my brain too.

I booked this hotel based on a travel agent’s recommendation. I told him I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money but I wanted to be in a specific area of the city. So I got this dump. It is a very modern high-rise hotel, but it has no exercise room, no pool, and no business office for guests to use. Instead of a business office, this hotel had a COIN OPERATED computer at a table in the lobby. You got five minutes of computer time for each half Ringet coin deposited. (about 15 cents). I was re-creating my presentation (since I left mine with my laptop) and had to keep feeding this crummy computer these large token size coins in order for it to work. I would get engrossed in what I was doing and suddenly the cursor would stop moving. I would struggle with it for a moment and remember to put another coin in the slot. It was slow and tedious.

The only form of “attraction” this hotel seems to claim is “Fish Reflexology”. This is where you put your bare feet into a fish aquarium where thousands of minnows eat the dead cells from your skin. Along with the fish nibbling between your toes, you get a facial and a manicure. I have big feet. If I decided to dunk my feet in the aquarium there would be enough dead skin to feed Moby Dick. The minnows would think they died and wend to fishy DisneyWorld. (is this how Nemo got his start?) This hotel’s restaurant features fresh fish on the menu. I certainly hope their fish does not come from the Reflexology tanks. Come to think of it, the facial cremes they used looked like tartar sauce.

Normally I don’t care much about the hotel’s amenities. I am very busy going to meetings or getting lost returning from a meeting. But this time I spent three nights here for just one presentation. The rest of the time I wandered around the area surrounding the hotel. There are hundreds of tiny restaurants and unkempt shops wedged in to t every available space along the streets. There are an incredible number of retailers selling the identical merchandise: watches, cameras, T-shirts and tiny replicas of the Petronas Towers. Petronas is the National Oil Company. To show off their oil wealth, they built a twin set of office towers which, at the time, was the world’s tallest building. This was back in the 90’s. You may have seen a cheesy Sean Connery movie in 1999 that featured the Petronas Towers as the setting for a high stakes heist.

Two decades later, the Arabs had to one-up Petronas by building what is the currently the world’s tallest building in Dubai, U.A.E. Originally it was to be named the Burg Dubai. (Burg has a soft “G”, like in barge) This thing is massive. (see the photo)  It is over 2,000 ft tall; nearly twice as tall as the Sears (now Willis) Tower in Chicago. The Burg Dubai was a financial fiasco. The city of Dubai built it when they were flush with investor cash. They ran out of money and had to get bailed out by the city of Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. which is controlled by Shiek Khalifa. As a thank you for saving their financial “bacon” the developers re-named the building Burg Khalifa. As of now the building still sits 80% vacant. I like to call it the “Splurg Khalifa”.

I took a tour of it with a colleague last year. We stepped in to the elevator, the doors closed, but nothing happened. I looked over my shoulder and saw a computer screen displaying the floor numbers which were changing rapidly. We had already started moving up at lightning speed but there was no sensation of movement. I had a brief flash of concern that the brakes on this elevator would fail and we would be launched like a cannonball in to the Arabian Gulf. (Editor’s note: that did not happen)
This building was also featured in a recent movie. You may have seen the commercials for it showing Tom Cruse jumping out of one of the upper floor windows of it. I understand his frustration. He was probably tired of feeding coins in to his “business office” computer too.

One last thing about my travels which is sort of interesting…I’ve been to Dubai on this trip and to Kuala Lumpur, both with two of the world’s tallest buildings. Now if I go on to India as planned I will probably see the world’s tallest rubbish pile. World travel can be memorable.

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