Fumes, guns and conference calls

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I am sitting in a canoe chair (those little legless collapsible seats also known by the brand name “Crazy Creek”) in the master bedroom of our new house as I type this, having arrived here about an hour ago to make use of the land line phone to record an interview that now appears to have fallen through.

The interview was to have been a conference call between me, two employees of the company that is my client and the president of a technology firm , but after about fifteen minutes in the “conference room,” waiting for the robotic voice to announce that the interviewee had joined the call, one of the client representatives decided we’d been officially stood up and pulled the plug.

Other than the few items I brought with me today, the house is still empty. From the door, the bedroom looks like it is set up for a stakeout or a phone scam: expensive computer and phone equipment, a tangle of wires on the floor, and not much else. The sort of sight that would be most unwelcome after you’d finally tracked down the “offices” of those people who said you’d won an expenses-paid cruise and they would just need your social-security number and birth date for a U.S. Customs form to complete the reservation.

Next to my camp chair is a stack of two milk crates, elevating my phone (and, thus, the speaker-phone mic) to about head level for best sound quality. At my right hand, ranged on the cream-colored carpet for ease of reference, is a group of pages torn from a technical manual, showing diagrams of various components of the high-end server that was to be the subject of the call. A yellow pad and pen, as analog backup for note taking should my computer fail. A water bottle.

And the window open to the sounds of a wet Missoula day, the shouts of children at recess in the playground drifting in from across the street.

I wonder what the rooms looked like that my fellow conference callers were sitting in, though I can guess. Despite the rather heady fumes from the recently – and gorgeously – refinished wood floor in the living room, I’m betting I have the better end of the deal, which is why I’m not complaining that the call got cancelled.

Since last I wrote, I passed a hectic weekend, trying to get as much work out of the way as possible before this week, our last before the big move this weekend. So a lot of typing and thinking and staring bleary-eyed at web pages on BizTalk servers, Virginia mountain-music bands and indicators of young-child health and well-being, just to give you a sense of the incongruous assortment of clients I have right now.

But all work and no play makes Sutton a dull boy, so, on Sunday afternoon, I joined a friend for a leisurely drive out onto Forest Service land just south of town, where we parked his truck, dragged a tall cardboard box out to the base of a snow-covered hill, and – over the next couple of hours – shot it to pieces, along with some cans brought along for the purpose, with a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol and two revolvers (.22 and .44). [1] (We were going to shoot some clay pigeons with a shotgun as well, but apparently there is a shortage of “clay load” shells in the state.) This was relaxing indeed, and I was able to attack my work with renewed vigor on Sunday evening, although I eventually called it quits in favor of watching a little more of Thunder Road, the 1958 Robert Mitchum movie identified on the DVD box as “the definitive moonshine movie.” I picked it up the other day at the local Hollywood Video, along with the Gregory Peck film On the Beach (1959) after making one of my recurring pledges not to watch any more movies made more recently than 50 49 years ago. (Most recent cause: a bad week in which I viewed two vomitous recent releases, 3:10 to Yuma and The Kingdom. I don’t know why I keep thinking that big-budget blockbusters will ever do anything other than make me want to roll the television off the balcony, but somehow I just keep screwing up. Take my video-store card away before I rent again!

Amy gets back from Venezuela tonight.

1 Yes, one really can behave this way and it’s entirely legal. On Forest Service land, the default setting is in favor of the carrying and discharging of firearms, providing you are not doing it in a way that endangers anyone else. And since there is approximately a mile of space for every current resident of Montana, finding a safe spot is not exactly hard.