Scary Stories

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a short camping trip with my sisters and my brother-in-law in Limekiln State Park. I really need to go camping more often, if only to be reminded of how absolutely gorgeous California is in all terrain and all seasons. We walked along a trail in nearby Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and were treated to: the sight of great redwoods rising out of the mist fifty feet below us to soar above our heads; rocky barren islands emerging from the mist, like a pirate’s cove; a pristine waterfall pouring into Caribbean-blue waters; and a pair of extremely hot hikers from the Netherlands. One might argue that the Dutch hikers don’t count as natural California splendors… but in California’s defense, we do tend to attract more than our fair share of attractive, impossibly healthy visitors.

My middle sister took care of making reservations, borrowing equipment, buying food, and all other logistical issues. My middle sister is one of those Organized Persons. From her email: “Wednesday dinner is burritos and smores. Thursay breakfast is French toast, OJ and tea. Thursday lunch is PB&J, baby carrots, fruit, potato chips and trail mix…”

The only thing I was in charge of was Entertainment. Obviously no camping trip is complete without Scary Stories, so the first night I read a couple stories from a kid’s book of ghost stories. You know, the kind with, “And she turned around — and the hand she had been holding was completely severed!” Eeeeek! Not scary, not even with a flashlight under the chin. Next we tried Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Again, not even remotely scary. The guy spends 40% of the story staring at the old man and creeping slowly towards him, which I found vaguely creepy in a homoerotic way, but not really scary.

The next night I ditched the scary story idea and instead read an excerpt of “The Rage of Achilles” from the Robert Fagles translation of the Iliad. That went better. I read up to the point where Achilles storms off, and Agamemmnon orders two of his men to go down to Achilles’ camp and retrieve Briseis. And if Achilles resists, “… I’ll seize her myself, with an army at my back — and all the worse for him!” Then I closed the book for the evening. My Gen-Y littlest sister shrieked, “What! What happened next!?” Advantage: Homer!

The only major downside to the trip was that I managed to lose my glasses. They were in their case in my pocket, and I managed to lose them while running through the surf. I noticed they were gone two minutes later, and ran back frantically to paw through two feet of water and sand. Incredibly, I actually found the glasses case! I raised the case triumphantly — and then realized that it was empty. Cue another “Wah-Wah!” from the Great Sound Effects Engineer in the Sky.

So for the next week I used my prescription sunglasses at work, which had the side effect of making me look like I was some sort of l33t hacker from the Matrix. I thought about temporarily switching my shell windows to to green text on black background, but that probably would have been pushing it. Oh, and as luck would have it, my group (Platform Engineering) is the one group I know of in all of Yahoo! that keeps all the overhead lights permanently turned off in their section. It’s actually kind of spooky in our corner. Which is only appropriate, given the universal truth of the computer industry: if you really want to hear scary stories, forget about Edgar Allan Poe, just talk to engineers who are responsible for maintaining billions of dollars worth of production data. No flashlights-under-the-chin necessary.

High Pressure Tomb Accessory Salesmen

Worse than car salesmen, I tell ya.

slamfu: You having a BBQ this Sunday correct?

evangoer: Yes indeed!

evangoer: Will you be gracing it with your presence?

slamfu: Yes, and a favor to ask.

evangoer: If you’re asking me to change my mojito recipe, the answer is “no”.

slamfu: I need to be in the area the following morning, mind if I crash at your place? And your mojito’s go to your grave with you Im sure

evangoer: … along with all my other possessions.

evangoer: construction of the tomb is proceeding nicely

slamfu: We’re going to bury you in a giant(hopefully) warehouse

evangoer: will there be poison dart traps? I love poison dart traps

slamfu: altho the ashes of everything you own is much more portable

evangoer: !!

slamfu: We dont’ have poison darts, but we did get one of those giant rolling balls of death thingies

slamfu: There was a special.

evangoer: Sweet! Just make sure there are no nooks and crannies for those pesky tomb plunderers to roll into.

evangoer: Did you get the flaming model, or the regular?

slamfu: Regular, with an option to upgrade, and a warranty.

evangoer: Well done!

slamfu: I felt silly buying the warranty afterwards tho.

evangoer: First 10 miles or 1,000 years, standard?

slamfu: Those high pressure tomb accessory salesmen get me every time.

The more I think about it, the more I think Jessica Mitford had the right idea. No, scratch that — the more I think Yoda had the right idea.