Monday, October 17, 2005


Wow-it's almost 3 P.M. and I'm up to 8 visitors. The sitemeter is one of those things that you swear you won't become addicted to but trying to avoid it is futile. It's not the number of visitors, although you do get greedy-I mostly enjoy the information on the referring sites and the details. I can tell by looking at the visitor's ISP who is looking in and how often. Sometimes I'll get a cluster of unfamiliar visitors most likely new bloggers referred to me by Blogger. Once I got an e-mail written in Portuguese telling me how much they enjoyed the blog-it's hard to take that as much of a compliment since they obviously aren't able to comprehend anything I've actually written. Whatever, I'll take any compliment I can get, whether there's a basis for it or not.

The sun was M.I.A. all of last week and I was playing music a couple of nights so I figured it was a good time to take the boat in and have a few minor electrical things done like having a halogen light installed on the poling platform so I can fish at night. It's getting dark here by 7:00 P.M. and getting the boat in the water by 5:30 doesn't leave a whole lot of daylight. Of course some parts needed to be ordered, I didn't get my boat back as promised on Friday and lo and behold yesterday turned out to be a bluebird day and I'm landlocked. I've been promised it will be ready to pick up tomorrow night (crossed fingers) and thankfully the weather looks peachy in the near term.

There's no court of any kind this week and the place is morgue-like. No steady stream of lawyers, no cackling in the coffee room about the weekend's ball games, phone traffic light-a chance to get some things done. Got a full plate ahead for the next month-both work and play. I've got to teach 4 hours of police officer's in-service training tomorrow afternoon, teach a session at our association's fall conference next Thursday, fly out to Texas the next day to see Reckless Kelly at historic Gruene Hall Friday night, spend Saturday tooling around the Texas hill country in a rental van, then flying home Sunday night. The next Monday I've got a week of court, another session of in-service training, then I've got two groups of albacore fishing friends coming by on consecutive weekends followed by teaching two day at the annual New Prosecutor's School. Two Powerpoints to cobble together from past teachings and I've got to time out all these blasted presentations to fit the allotted slots. I've literally amassed dozens of expandible files with papers, handouts and slides jammed in like Vienna Sausages and I no longer have to come up with any original material or thought to teach on any criminal law topic. That should be a "good" thing, but rummaging through my office, my car, the spare bedroom closet or garage to find a lone document from these massive, unorganized files is probably harder than coming up with a fresh thought. The cryptic scrawl in permanent marker reading something like "Conf. of DA's-Teaching 10/24" provides me no clue what might be inside of one. The one page I want might be in a folder containing only it and 300 copies of some handout I made not knowing it had already been copied for me. There's a good chance that when I do find it, it will be covered with cobwebs, beach sand or trailer bearing grease. Even my Powerpoints number over 30 and I have them saved under similar not readily identifiable titles so finding the right one is another chore. Got to have a Powerpoint-not having one nowadays and the sponsor acts like you've shown up sans clothes. God forbid the captive audience might have to actually listen and absorb the topic-they've got to see it on the screen and have a smaller version printed out in handouts to take notes or play hangman on. It's not really as much teaching as facilitating and I feel most of the time like an unpaid game show host pointing out the highlights on the slides. One of my critiques once said I should improve my eye contact-that's a big task when your eyes are dancing around like a meth addict's- trying to make sure the slide on the screen is in the right order and has loaded correctly and if it jibes with your notes, all the while watching the clock on the back wall and awaiting the vaudeville hook to pull you offstage. My time slots for the last two years been either just before lunch where you're competing with the smell of impending food or just after lunch when you're competing with the effects of tryptophanic stupor. I do love teaching though-it gets me out of the office, the mileage pay is pretty good, I get to see old friends and old places and there's not a county in the state where I don't know a prosecutor that can help someone that might need a favor.

Amongst all the tumult, I'm trying to squeeze in some time to fish, to finish up some rods I'm donating to charity, and to learning the mandolin by sheer force of will. I have the attention span of an ADHD gnat, but I am relentless toward any new goal, so just like learning the guitar, I will beat it to death in thousands of five-minute increments sandwiched in between my other dozen hobbies. Build a rod, make a pen, tie a fly, take a photo, catch a fish, blog, play the guitar, the harmonica, the mandolin, throw a net, take a nap, watch a game-Hell, do it all in one day. A restless mind is a terrible thing!

I had dinner with my old boss and law partner and his wife Saturday night-they were down at the beach last week. We went to a local seafood shack and as I went in the door a guy sitting at the front table had a plate covered with huge blue crabs that had been boiled in beer and Old Bay seasoning. I love soft shells but had never tackled the hardshell rascals so I threw caution to the wind and ordered half a dozen. I told the waitress I would need a basic lesson and she agreed to show me the ropes. Ten minutes later she plopped down a platter of the biggest blue crabs you've ever seen-they were steaming hot and slathered with Old Bay Crab Seasoning. I was supplied with the tools of the trade-a small fork, a butter knife and a nut-cracker looking device and given a quick lesson. Never has so little sustenance come from such big beginnings. I pulled the legs of first-they came off with a little meat on the ends that attached to the shell. Then I used the nutcracker to bust open the large pinchers, sliding a butter knife inside to dig a out a morsel of crab. Then it was on to the main event-the shell. I was instructed to dig my fingers just underneath the hard shell and pull it off leaving in one hand the empty shell and in the other the meaty "treasure." Then I was to crack that piece in half to expose the crabmeat. After picking out everything non-edible and making a huge mess doing it, I had about a tablespoon of meat which I dipped in the hot butter and swallowed all in one bite. I repeated this 6 times with similar results. Hell, I could have smashed the damn things with a ballpeen hammer and not gotten less crabmeat. I also cut my thumb on crab number 3 and my blood mixed in with the Old Bay, the crabmeat, the butter and the artifacts. My side of the table looked like a crime scene and the whole episode took forever. Everyone had finished long before I did, so they just stared at me while I attacked the last two. I went through paper napkins like they were, well, paper napkins-five of them were used to staunch the bleeding from my thumb. What I did manage to scrape out and eat was sweet and delicious. I now have the greatest respect for those folks who can take blue crabs and with a few twists and turns of a knife can fill up a pint jar with backfin meat in fifteen minutes. I'm thinking about putting out my own crabpot. The last two ventures into the creek I have pulled up huge, aggressive crabs that have attacked my baitfish. It will be cheaper to practice on some free ones.


Anonymous Punctilious said...

I am soooo jealous of your chance to consume fresh blue crab. I have been so landlocked for so long that I've even tried frozen stuff. Unfortunately I was quickly reminded why I don't eat crab unless I'm near the shore.

10:33 PM  
Blogger David Spence said...

The crabs sure as hell won't be submitted to The Carnival of the Recipes-is there a Carnival of Disaster?

10:43 PM  

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