11 December 2008

Birthday tribute - Luann

Well, it's a very special day here in Houston. Not just because it snowed last night (no, really), but because today is Luann's birthday.

I first met Luann a couple of years ago, just one of the two hundred or so faces at the office, but only really got to know her last year. I was doing some job interviews (finding people to replace me in the job I had just vacated because I was told it was going away) and found Luann amidst a long line of people who confidently answered my technical questions incorrectly. Luann, lacking confidence, still managed to do a better job than any other applicant.

When the interview was over, she hugged me. Now, I've been in a few interviews, been on both sides of the table, but this was the first time I had seen or participated in a hug. And that was before I even told her she got the job. She's just that kind of person.

Later, I was asked to do the training for the three people I had selected as being the only applicants not burnt out by drugs. I came to know the three (Luann, Mark and Mary) pretty well, and I've come to feel very close to them. But Luann was special.

She and I started going to lunch together, and chatting like school girls, and later we started spending time after work socializing, going shopping, and generally getting to know one another. She told me about her life before she became an engineer, and I told her about my family, and we became best friends in record time. Well, record time for anyone post-puberty.

The thing about Luann is that she's full of love. Not that sick kind they have in Florida, but the kind people are supposed to have for each other. When she looks at you, it's not with the eyes of someone sizing you up to see how they can either use you or crush you, but the eyes of someone who is looking for the person inside you so that she can get to know that person and cherish the experience. Not unlike Heinlein's martians.

From the beginning, Luann accepted me for who I am. It sounds odd to say this, but that's something that I didn't have from anyone else. And while it shouldn't matter for an adult, it does. Especially when the state of not being accepted has been pervasive for one's entire life. I have some very dear friends who would kill or die for me, but they all want to put me in a little box, and have me act and think like they want me to. Luann is different. And it's because of her love and support that I've found the strength to look inside myself, see who I really am, and stop pretending.

And it's not just me. Luann has this special quality. She hugs everyone, and they hug back. She doesn't judge, and she doesn't belittle.

A few days ago, I suddenly realized that I felt as though I had already received the full benefit from Luann's acceptance of me. I still have personal growth to do, but I felt as though her acceptance had helped me to the point where I can now move on, and be myself and stand up for myself, even without using her as a crutch. I wondered, if this were the case, where do I go from here? The option of leaving her behind and moving on was never even on the table. I still value her as a friend, and spiritually as a sister. So I thought, I could repay the favor...

I've noticed a downturn in her mood recently. The company we work for, Compubomb, has finally gotten to her, and is making her act in ways I never knew possible. She's still a good and caring person, but she seems too be getting angry more often, and she's tired, and stressed out. I'm concerned that Compubomb is on the verge of breaking something that can't be fixed nor replaced. Thanks to Luann, I feel the need to help people that I haven't felt since I was a child. I have hope for a bright future. I look at people and I see the good in them. My favorite color is pink, where it used to be black. I smile more, and I enjoy sunshine instead of rain.

Just by being open and accepting and not trying to force me to be the type of person everyone thought I was, she allowed me to be myself in the company of others, which I've never been able to do before. So I was thinking that perhaps I could do the same for her... I could be open and loving and listen to her problems and show her the sunshine and help her get over the things that have caused her distress lately. But a voice inside me spoke: "Idiot! She's helped you with one problem. If you think that's all she has to teach you, then you haven't been paying attention."

So I'll be there, and I'll do anything I can to help her when she has problems, but I have a feeling she'll be overcoming them all by herself, and I'm sure that she'll be helping me out in ways I can't even imagine. I look forward to our continuing adventures.

All this to say....

Happy Birthday, Luann!

26 November 2008

Con-Giordial Greetings!

It's that time of year, again. Presents, food, family and friends gathering... You guessed it! It's Giordi's birthday!

I met Giordi when he was 16. I was in college, and he was hanging out with college nerds. At the college. At the time, I remember being jealous because his hair was longer than mine.

I'm not sure how he entered my social circle at the time. It basically consisted of my roommate and a bunch of people from the college who didn't want to go home to their parents' houses. We would all hang out together and do nerd stuff. One day, Giordi, whom I had already met, showed up at my apartment and was smoothly integrated into the group.

Later, when he started college, he was about the only other student there who could understand what I was talking about, and that just helped us bond more completely.

My first IT job after college, I worked with him upgrading the computers for Lyondell, a large company with no real product but a lot of toxic waste. I was fired because my roommate stole from the company, and Giordi was fired because he knew me. Joy.

Later, we worked together at a small company that totally didn't appreciate either of us. At Giordi's suggestion, we formed a religious group. It grew and grew and grew. Then it died for no reason.

Later, when Giordi's first child was born, we were sitting around, and he was holding his son. He looked at me and said, "I finally figured out the meaning of life. It's this, right here." I still cry remembering the look on his face.

For the past five years or so, I've been living in Giordi's house as a renter. He and his wife have been there through my medical emergencies, when my fiancé left me, when Data died at the end of that Star Trek movie, when my hamster died, when I nearly lost my job to anti-feminists, and during my divorce.

He's always been honest and straightforward. He's helped me out a lot. He was in the emergency room with me when I went into shock from a burst appendix, and he came to bring me gas when I ran out in the midle of nowhere. He's my legal adviser and has power of attourney when I'm not able to function.

He's like a brother to me, but in a good way. I'll never be able to repay everything he's done for me. So instead of trying, I'm writing about him here.

Happy Birthday, Giordi!

16 November 2008

What kind of burger?

I know a lot of time has passed, but I have good reasons. It's been a crazy time.

First, while cleaning up from the hurricane, Giordi informed me that they need my bedroom. No biggie, right? Except... they were going to build a bedroom for me in the garage, but have decided that this would lower the value of their house, so...

So I was looking for a place to live. An old friend of mine who works for the government, Katy, is selling her RV, one of those trailer types, and offered too sell it to me. My eyes kept saying "no", but my mouth said, "yes". I asked my eyes what the problem was, and apparently I was traumatized by the idea of trailer homes.

It seems I have an allergy. When I was a child, I often had to go visit mobile home sellers with my various redneck relatives in my mother's family. Upon entering a brand new trailer, I would have a reaction to something in the wood, which resulted in temporary blindness. Every time.

Also, no one wants to be labeled "trailer trash".

I was discussing this with a real estate contact of mine, and he said to think of myself more as a Gypsy. Now, this I can deal with. I shared this insight with all my friends, and Giordi, a descendant of Romanian Gypsies, said, "In Europe, Gypsies were trailer trash." Yeah, that helped.

Anyway, so I went to the store and purchased some long skirts and bandannas and dug out my tarot cards. And started looking for a place to park an RV.

Apparently, after the hurricane effectively erased all beachfront property within 150 miles of Houston, all those people living in their beach houses before moved into their RVs while contractors from all over the country rebuild the beach houses.

And wanna bet where the contractors are living?

So, I was conducting a massive one-woman hunt for an open RV slot. I didn't want to give up on the RV thing, because not only do I now have a verbal agreement with Katy, but I also have a 60 pound dog. Try to find a reasonably-priced appartment that will let you have a big dog. They exist, but they're few an far between, and mostly in poor repair. Probably from the big dogs.

So, I was conducting the hunt. Then, one day, upper management announced a mandatory "all-hands" meeting. Since I had hands (I checked), I went. It's a good thing, too, because they announced that after ten years, our office is closing and we're all being laid off and our jobs are going to India.

Yes, they said it.

My favorite part was where they said that for the remainder of our time there we're still expected to provied the same great service we have for the past ten years. Even all the managers laughed at that, including the guy who said it.

Anyway, so now I'm looking for a place to work and a place to live. It would be funny if it weren't the tragedy of Modern America. Am I now a homeless, unemployed crazy person? Well, not yet, because I haven't vacated my bedroom and I won't actually lose my job until January.

Oh... and the crazy part? Well, somehow, and I'm not entirely sure how, I got into a discussion with Giordi and Anna about Asperger's Syndrome. We had discussed it before, and I thought they were implying that maybe Jean had it, but it turns out they think I might have AS. I tried to argue it down, even looked up the symptoms, but that didn't help my case any. So I called my ex.

At one point, we had thought my daughter might have AS, but in the end my ex said, "No, she's just like you." Hrm. So I called him. "How did we determine that your child doesn't have AS?"

"Actually, we didn't. We just assumed she's like you." Crap. OK, so I started arguing my point as best I could. But everytime I said, "Asperger's", Giordi would chuckle and say, "ass burgers". So the discussion didn't get very far.

So now, I have to find a place to work, and a place to live, and a pshrink to prove I don't have AS. That's why I'm a homeless, unemployed, crazy person. The only good part is that gas prices have gone down lately, so I think I might be able to afford all the travel.

26 October 2008

The Calm after the Storm

I know I haven't written in a while. I want to take this opportunity to blame the weather.

Apparently, a few weeks ago, we had a thunderstorm roll through town. (Hint: They named it "Ike".) It was fun. Kinda.

I told quite a few people that, as with the previous big storm, "Evacuation is the coward's way out." Normally, I can say things like that with impunity because no one ever listens to me. On this occasion, several people decided to hang out on the shores of Galveston Island to "watch the storm blow in".

I would like to take a moment of silence to honor those who died taking my advice.

So anyway, I stayed home. I kinda had nowhere to go. I mean, I could have gone to stay with my grandmother, but a) even a little stress makes me throw up, and b) my grandmother lives closer to the water than I do. Besides, someone had to watch the house, and my roommates all bailed.

The cowards. (See? I can't stop!)

Anyway, it was fun. At first. I spent the day watching Scrubs reruns and drinking hot tea sweetened with honey. That's my latest thing... tea sweetened with honey.

The wind started picking up sometime after nightfall. But it wasn't really that windy yet. I went to bed, eventually, and slept really well. For a while.

I awoke to the sound of water dripping three inches from my ear. I thought, "I should get up before I get wet." I stood up and found that I was already soaked.

So I relocated to the living room couch. This is a special piece of furniture. It consists of a solid wood frame (kinda pretty) and cushions consisting of hard foam covered in cloth. They're comfortable to most people, but I'm about 100 pounds overweight. I think the purpose of this furniture is to keep me in one spot... the truly soft, comfortable chair (actually a chaise) in the room. So they can keep an eye on me.

I slept on the couch as long as I could. So after about four minutes, I relocated. I had two dogs to deal with, and they weren't liking the storm at all. So I let them climb onto the the chaise with me. That must have lasted at least thirty seconds. One of the dogs, a smallish Australian Shepherd nick-named "Satan", wouldn't stop trying to gouge out my eyes with her two-inch-long claws. So I moved her kennel to a spot beside the chaise and put her back in it. Buddy stayed with me. He definitely didn't like the storm.

In the morning, the power was out. I took some choice photographs of the carnage, which I later found out would be used for insurance purposes. Our house (I like to call it that, even though I'm only here temporarily) was relatively undamaged. We had a tree in our back yard that hadn't been there the night before, though.

My roommates came home that day, and began the long process of calling insurance companies, always a great way to spend a weekend. I was trying to figure out what people did with their time before Al Gore invented the Internet.

Then came the fun part. Emptying out the refrigerator. Since we had no power, we had to take everything out and cook it. And eat it. That wasn't entirely fun. I can only eat a small amount before my stomach complains that I'm not letting it sleep.

While my roommie Anna was cleaning out the freezer, she pulled out a container of some type that seemed to contain a prop from a Geiger movie. She said, "Awwwww, now I have to throw this out!"

I said, "What is it?"

"It's a horse's foot."

"Question: Why do you have a horse's foot in the freezer?"

"So I can show it to people."

Wow. So, as it turns out, Anna is a part-time ferrier, which means that she's basically a pedicurist for horses. She had a frozen foot to show people what can go wrong when the horse's feet aren't cared for. I mean, we're talking about animals weighing as much as a ton, so this is actually very important. Still..... the freezer?

So, anyway, my roommates left again. This time, to go stay with family. They took all the non-preishable food with them, which was fine with me, because I didn't feel like eating anyway.

I couldn't go back to work, because the power was off all over town, including my office, so I stayed home and cleaned. As much as I could clean, that is. We were told by the insurance companynot to do much cleaning, so they could witness the damage. I also got to spend quality time with Buddy. And Naga, my snake. She, too, was driven insane by the storm. But while I moved her "house" from my soaked bedroom into the dining room, she got to spend a little time stretching her muscles.

Eventually, the roads were opened, and I went to visit Jean and Al. Their house was untouched, but about half their fence was gone. And they, too, had a new tree. And no power. Anna was telling me about a few days after she cleaned her fridge. She had detected a smell. She was thinking she must have missed something, so she was looking in all the nooks and crannies.

"It turned out to be the Bobcat," she concluded.

"You... had a bobcat in your freezer?"

"Yeah, why?"

I said, "Question..."

02 September 2008

State of mind

So, I saw a banner ad online that said, "Imagine a world without Schizophrenia". I did so, and just for a moment, I felt a sense of loss. It didn't take me long to realize that it was odd to feel loss just at that moment.

After all, I'm not schizophrenic, and I don't think anyone I know, apart from possibly my cat, is. Still, that got me thinking about schizophrenia. So I was reading up on symptoms, and I came across this in an article:

C)Disorganized : these persons completely neglect themselves either in their appearance
They will have unorganized speech and sometime unorganized speech . there behaviour is completely unpredictable .

Now, is it my imagination, or is this a case of a description which illustrates as well as defines? It makes me wonder about the person who wrote the article.

Which brings me to my next point... Always write what you know. I see too many examples these days of people trying to pretend to be experts on subject about which they know little nothing. I've even heard about software that polls the internet for data regarding a keyword and helps automate the process of writing articles and papers. I understand that with more advanced technology come ever-greater levels of automation, but to me this sounds just a little too much like letting the computer do the thinking for me.

And considering my experiences working with computers, that's kinda scary.

Unfortunately, the world seems to be driven these days by idiots. I know that sounds harsh, but look around... Everything has to have warning labels, not because of hidden dangers, but because some moron got stupid and injured himself, and then sued the manufacturer. Because of stupid people, useful products are taken off the market, and things that work well have to be hampered by safety features that seem unnecessary, and everyone is constantly afraid of being taken to court.

I can't help but think that the inherent danger in modern technology is simply part of nature's way to filter out bad DNA. The laws of evolution would dictate that defective genes would die out, but mankind has worked very hard to make sure this doesn't happen. Heck, these days, it's nearly impossible to take your own life on purpose, because things have gotten so bad that we don't even own our own fates anymore, so dying of shear stupidity is almost unheard of.

Almost. I'll write about the Darwin Award, soon.

In the mean time, I say, let's improve the species a bit. Remove the warning labels. Not the ones that say, "This product is made from harsh poisons", but the ones that say, "Do not touch this iron to your tongue" and "Do not operate heavy machinery while wearing these novelty handcuffs". Take away seatbelt and helmet laws. Not the seatbelt laws for children, of course, but the ones for adults. If an adult wants to drive down the road, hit a telephone pole, and then eat his windshield, let him. And take another look at drug laws... I can't imagine why marajuana is illegal and alcohol is legal.

That's my take, anyway.

31 August 2008

A little haiku

Chaos fills my view,
I tumble end over end,
A bicycle crash

28 August 2008

What the cat dragged in...

So, I got up today thinking that it would be a pleasant day. That is, I thought that before I got up.

The first thing I noticed was that I had slept through all my alarms. I have four. So, I got up and began getting ready. I had a dinner date (not really a date, though) after work, so I thought I would wear my tightest jeans (mostly because my dog ate my belt) and this pretty blouse I've been saving.

I got ready and put on my pretty blouse and looked in the mirror... The blouse was two sizes too big. It looked like a painter's smock. The only other clean top I had was one of the two shirts I have that I call my "lesbian" shirts.

Because they make me look like a lesbian.

And it's black... what better, for a first "date"? My roommate, Anna, asked me to pick up some cat food, so I resolved to go to the store after work.

I was already over an hour behind schedule, but was almost out of gas, so I had to stop and get gas. Some people think a hurricane is about to hit, so there were lines at the gas stations, which is always fun. But I wouldn't have made it to work, so I waited in line.

I got to work nearly two hours late. I thought it wouldn't be a problem... My manager is short, so he can't really see over cubicle walls while seated, but he happened to be standing up when I came in. Darn. I had planned a conversation with him, but it wouldn't have gone well for me. Fortunately, he quickly forgot who I was and went back to staring at an empty trash can.

Managers, huh?

Anyway, so I got to my desk and was summoned to help people with some tricky cases for two hours, and didn't even get a chance to log into my computer before Luann announced it was lunchtime. Wow. So, I went to lunch with her, where I talked about my impending "date" that evening. She was so happy for me that I'm pretty sure she was already planning the wedding invitations in her

We thought we were doing well... slightly ahead of schedule, we were going to get back to work early, which is good for Luann, because some of the others on her team are mean to her if she takes a long lunch. She was so happy... and then when we got to her car we found a flat tire.

Apparently, in Luann's home culture, women aren't taught to change tires. I wasn't either, but I'm an engineer. So I started trying to change her tire, bemoaning the absense of Men of Valor in the 110-degree parking lot, when suddenly a Man of Valor came along and changed the tire for us. But I had already ruined my makeup and nail polish, and smelled like a sweat lodge, and my lesbian shirt was dirty, and my knees looked like I had been kneeling in a parking lot... not the image I wanted to portray.

We got back, and I was once again summoned to help others with their cases. It sucks to be so cool, sometimes. Anyway, I eventually managed to get about two thirds of my minimum daily workload worked before time to leave.

My original plan was to go straight to the rendezvous place, but now I had to take time to fix my makeup, get dirt out of my clothing, and comb my hair. I had managed to repaint my nails during the day, and they didn't look too bad from a distance.

So I barely made it to the coffee shop (we were meeting at a coffee shop) on time. Except.... there was no coffee shop. I was sure there had been a coffee shop right there, where I had left it. Like two years ago. I walked around a bit to see if I could find the coffee shop, and heard my named called from a night club's patio.

I knew that the coffee shop had been there. Apparetly, it mutated into a night club.

So, I was chatting with my "date"... everything was going alright, apart from my complete social ineptitude, until The Show started. Suddenly, our conversation was being interrupted by... you'll love this part... a drag show.

Now, I have nothing against a drag show... I had never seen one, actually... and I don't even have anything against the drag queens, drag kings and other drag persons who participate in them. But apparently my "date" was fascinated with the show. Hrm... how to save this moment... I took one look at the almost-illegally-short skirts worn by the drag queens and realized that I didn't stand a chance.

At some point, he announce, "Well, I should get home before my wife gets suspicious." WIFE?!?!?!?!?

Well, the show was over, we exchanged pleasantries and parted ways, and I headed home. I was pretty exhausted. I was aching, tired from hiding my pain and nausea from my "date", hungry, dirty, smelly, disillusioned, and did I mention tired? I got home, took off my shoes, locked the front door, stumbled into the living room, and collapsed face down onto the couch.

Anna said to me, "Did you pick up cat food?"

01 August 2008

Birthday tribute - Jean

It was Ice Cream Day at work today, so I found myself idly wondering whether a person's choice between ice cream sandwiches and bomb pops was a reflection of his or her sexual orientation...

Think about it a minute...

Anyway, it occurred to me... It's also Jean's birthday. :-D So she gets to be today's victim...

Jean is an interesting individual. She's very intelligent, but not intellectual. This throws people off... the fact that she doesn't use big words and isn't obsessed over any of the usual geek/nerd/anorak things makes people think that she's not too bright, but her mind is every bit as sharp and active as any I've encountered. She just has a different way of expressing herself.

For example, she speaks in what I call "Jeanisms". This are words and phrases that make sense to Jean, and if you think about it, should make sense to you, too. I've heard others use some of them, but I'm pretty sure she said them first. These include:

  • "Old Timer's Disease" (Alzheimer's)
  • "ex-cape" (escape)
  • "my brain was thinking" (I was thinking)
  • "indulations" (the part of undulations that go into the material in question)
  • "Tawnimono" (dogfood, from the Japanese "tabemono" for food, and the name of her dog, "Tawni")
  • "Ashtray" (her nickname for me, because I'm allergic to cigarette smoke)
  • "Hungry" (that country in Europe where I lost 20 pounds)
  • and many more

They make sense, if you stop and think about it. She knows the correct spellings and pronunciations, but she speaks them as they come to her... through a filter where the word should sound like what it means.

Jean was born in New Jersey, but moved to the hick portion of Channelview, Texas as a small child. She was then raised by her NJ parents, but in a hick environment. This results in an interesting personality. First, her accent... She usually doesn't seem to have much of an accent, except for a few words ("Oh Ghoahd!", for example). That is, until she gets around her family, at which point, it's almost like being back in Hungary... I don't understand half of what's said.

Apparently, telepathy runs strongly in Jean's family, so when they're communicating amongst themselves, half of what they say is generalities... "what's-his-name" and "whadyacwallit" and so forth... And they all know what all the others are talking about. It's kinda creepy.

But as I said, she grew up amongst hicks... so she has some of that embedded, too. In fact, when she finds herself around horses, she completely falls into a stereotypical southern drawl. She doesn't even notice it. I one pointed it out to her, and for three days she couldn't speak. She would start to, and then forget how to form the words, and get lost in a morass of accents, and nothing would come out of her mouth. It was nice, until she got past it, and started speaking again.

But don't get me wrong... she's one of my most bestest friends. Odd, considering that she stole my husband (long story). And argues that she saw him first. And she stole my dog. But we all get along great. She's even in my will, but I haven't told her, because I'm trying to find ways to increase my lifespan.

I love to tease her about her sexual orientation. She's straight... obviously... and I know it... obviously... but between the horses and majoring Construction Technology in college (did you know there was a college degree for construction workers?) she somehow developed the reputation as a tiny (five feet tall) lesbian. And she earned that reputation. When I met her, she was the roughest, toughest little student at the college. I once saw her put a nail through her hand. She promptly got up, walked to a sink, pulled the nail out of her hand, rinsed off the hole, put on a Band-Aid® and went back to her hammering.

On another occasion, she was showing off her horse, an uncut Arabian stallion as compact as she was, and explaining that he had an attitude problem. She then climbed onto his back, and after a couple of seconds he started bucking. She flew about 20 feet in the air (not an exaggeration) and landed on her face. She got up onto hands and knees, shook her head, and then got up and walked to him, shouted his name (the Arabic word for "Satan"), and punched him. He backed away, wide-eyed, and she got back on and rode him for a while before folding him and putting him away. She later had a black eye, because she had landed on a rock the size of her fist.

Jean's knowledge is impressive, considering that she tries to hide it. When anyone of us is sick, she gets a phone call. She's always the first to treat a wound that doesn't require an emergency room. She's also the local consultant for animal-related health issues and runs an informal animal rescue out of her home and at her own expense. I once watched her raise a squirrel whose mother had abandoned him before he was weened, and when he was grown he was completely tame, to the point where she could take him outside, let him run around on trees, and when she would open her pocket breast and call him by name, he would jump in. Wow.

Once, when she and I were in college, we were at my mother's house to help get the pool ready. My step-father opened a tube to let the pool drain into some bushes, and a blur shot out of the bushes, which Jean promptly grabbed behind the neck. And found herself holding an alligator about three feet long. He wasn't any more amused than she was.

This is the type of person she is. I wanted to give a picture of the type of person she is. Since she takes care of my daughter (her husband's daughter), my life insurance points to her. I trust her to do the right thing next year when I meet my doom, to ensure that the money is used to my daughter's benefit.

When I have any kind of a problem and need a shoulder to cry on, hers is the closest available, even if I have to drive 40 miles to get to it. When I got out of the hospital, I recuperated at her house. When I broke my ankle in the floods of hurricane Allison, she helped me to be mobile until I could get crutches. She gave me my dog, and my hamster, and when I leave for an extended trip, she's the one who takes care of my animal friends.

I value each of my friends greatly. The people I consider my true friends would kill for me, or die for me, and Jean is no exception. But she's also the one who has been there for me during most of the hardest times of my life, even the ones she caused. And that means something.

So, here's to you, Jean... Happy Birthday!!!

24 July 2008

Heil Anxiety

So, I had this dream last night... I was on my way to a celebration. We were celebrating victory in the war.

To sum up, the Nazi party had just won World War II and had driven the Communists out of Hungary. They had also wiped out all known Jews worldwide.

If this isn't strange enough for you, I was one of the Nazis. Oh, but it gets better... I was one of Hitler's top advisors. And Hitler was a woman. In the dream, she was played by that lady from The Weakest Link.

So, I was on my way to the celebration. Don't get me wrong... I was opposed to her policy of genocide, and I didn't support the racism at all, but I had already decided that our regime was better than the one we were replacing (no idea regime what that was).

Also, she kinda scared me.

Another reason I was hesitant to go was because I knew that I was going to die. I didn't know how, but I knew that the story was about to end, and my character was supposed to die at the end. Cheerful, huh?

So anyway, I arrived at the site, when she was going to give a hearty speech. As I took my seat at the front, some of the others informed me that she had just passed a new law ordering immediate executions for anyone who even mentioned any of the Jews that had been killed. I idly wondered if I should start talking about them, knowing that I was supposed to die any minute. I thought about other ways, too. I could attack the Führer and be gunned down. We were on a high platform, so I could jump. The possibilities were endless.

As I pondered exit plans, Hitler saw me and ran over to me to give me a big hug. I stood to meet her, and as she slammed into me, she knocked us both off-balance, and I tumbled, pulling her down with me. We fell off the platform, toward the rocks a few hundred feet below. As I fell, I thought, "Oh, okay."

Just before I died I noted that I was also taking Hitler with me, so all-in-all, it wasn't a bad ending.

20 July 2008

The power of thinking...

A wealthy man decided to go on a safari in Africa. He took his faithful pet Dachshund dog along for company.

One day, the Dachshund starts chasing butterflies and before long the Dachshund discovers that he is lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the obvious intention of having lunch.

The Dachshund thinks, "I'm in deep trouble now! Then he noticed some bones on the ground close by and immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the Dachshund exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here."

Hearing this, the leopard halts his attack in mid-stride, as a look of terror comes over him, and slinks away into the trees. "Whew," says the leopard. "That was close. That Dachshund! Nearly had me."

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off he goes. But the Dachshund sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up.

The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard. The leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine."

Now the Dachshund sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks "What am I going to do now?" But instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet... and just when they get close enough to hear,

the Dachshund says........ ......... .....

"Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard."

14 July 2008

Latest News (politics, redux)

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I've been busy lately. I had been telling some of my friends that I wanted to run for President, but I didn't expect anything to happen this election. And yet...

23 June 2008

Birthday Tribute - Al

This is the first of my Birthday Tributes to my friends. It's my friend Al's birthday, so I'll tell you about him.

Al is married to my previously-mentioned friend Jean. Well, not just married... She was my roommate, but I didn't need her, so I sold her to him. Then I remembered that she does the cooking and vacuuming. But I digress.

Al is the most honorable man I know. And it's all so stereotypical. He's an ex-marine, but way too smart to be an ex-marine. He was previously stationed at Camp Goliath, and was tasked with guarding the president. This was during Bush the First. Now, he works as an IT guru at a local college, and loves the job more than the pay.

He's a Janophile. And no, that has nothing to do with any Brady Bunch characters... It means that he likes Japanese stuff. He has a sizable collection of Japanese swords, watches anime in the original Japanese (he can't stand English dubs) and lets his wife, Jean, serve him tea. I've tried to talk him into making her wear a kimono, but he just mutters something about getting us both killed and wanders off.

Al's one fear is of spiders. This fact, combined with the aforementioned sword collection, is why I've kept my pet tarantulas away from him in the past. But that doesn't stop Jean from planting fake spiders around their house. She hopes to some day hear him scream like a little girl. It hasn't happened yet, but every now and then, I see him turn to face an imaginary judge and say, "And that's why I killed her, Your Honor."

He's a Perfect Man. He's loving, tender, generous, intelligent and good-looking. He treats his step-daughter as if she were his own. He shows love to every child that enters his home. (The good kind of love, not that sick kind they have in Florida.) He allows great latitude to his wife in bringing yet more animals into the house, violating the rules of their deed-restricted neighborhood. He does everything he's asked, helps his friends when they need it, and puts on whatever demeanor will make others the happiest. All this, and yet he's straight, unlike most other men who have these characteristics. And like all straight men who have these qualities... He's married.

And she doesn't properly appreciate him. But I digress.

In short, he's the one person I would most want at my side in a fight, and if he weren't married I would long ago have fallen in love with him. And he's the one person I trust most in the world, apart from my father. He's practically a super hero. Just without the tights. Although he does wear tights when he goes to the Renaissance Festival. And when he wears them he looks.... whew! Sorry, I had to catch my breath. But I digress.

And so, Happy Birthday,

15 June 2008

Father's Day Special

I've had an interesting life, and it's still interesting, but one thing I couldn't help but notice is that when I stop and look around and count those who are with me on this journey, I see exactly one parent. My mother is still alive, but she's nowhere around. She let me know years ago that she was finished with me. Now that I'm grown and her obligations are complete, she doesn't have any more use for me except when she needs to borrow money.

But my father is still around. He's been there during the toughest times in my life. He was there when I needed someone to hug, and in every baby picture I've seen of myself, if I'm being held, it's him holding me (or his father, in one picture).

My father has passed on to me most of the wisdom that has gotten me this far. When I have good news, I want to tell him, and when I'm down he helps me find the path leading up. When my days are dark, he shows me the sunshine, and when I'm cold he reminds me to come back to Houston.

At times when my mother was railing against me for refusing to become a nice little neonazi conformist like her, my father was telling me he was proud I found my own path. When my mother told me that I was hopeless and not worth holding onto, my father showed me what I was doing wrong, or what I was doing right.

And in the end, when I was feeling the worst, when every moment I felt like crying and didn't know why, when I felt loneliness such as I never imagined, and my mother's only advice was to pick up a Bible and stop feeling sorry for myself, my father held me close until I stopped crying, and it turned out that was all I really needed in the end.

And so, to my father... I didn't create this, but it sums up my feelings nicely, I think.

13 June 2008

I don't grok people!

So my roommates, Giordi and Anna, were reading my previous blog entry and asked me about Asperger Syndrome. I thought the simplest explanation was just to read them some of the symptoms.

"Abnormalities of social interaction and communication that pervade the individual's functioning, and by restricted and repetitive interests and behavior..." They both said the same thing: "What?"

I continued... "The lack of demonstrated empathy..." They looked at me strangely. "Although children with Asperger syndrome acquire language skills without significant general delay, and the speech of those with AS typically lacks significant abnormalities, language acquisition and use is often atypical." Anna looked at Giordi and chucked evilly.

I continued... "Abnormalities include verbosity; abrupt transitions; literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuance; use of metaphor meaningful only to the speaker; auditory perception deficits; unusually pedantic, formal or idiosyncratic speech; and oddities in loudness, pitch, intonation, prosody, and rhythm."

Anna said to Giordi, "Are you thinking..."

To which he replied, "Wait for it..."

So I continued a bit longer, summarizing an adult AS patient's obsession with machinery and lack of social "normalcy". Finally, Giordi and Anna burst into laughter, much to my chagrin.


Anna: "We don't know anyone like that, do we?"

Giordi: "Nope, no one at all!"

This is sarcasm... I've seen this before... I thought hard... "You mean, like, Jean?"

07 June 2008

The Blind Leading the Stupid

Yes, it's true... The Apocalypse is upon us. It seems that a kindergarten teacher allowed her class to "vote out" a student.

The student is in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, which basically means that his behavior is slightly atypical and that he's probably pretty bright for his age but doesn't relate well to others. What this comes down to is, he's a protonerd. Given a few more years and some education and practice, he would eventually become a true nerd, or maybe a geek.

He might even become an engineer.

But no, instead, his teacher, probably the non-parent to whom he looks up the most, decided that a popularity contest would be good for him. She allowed the class to vote on whether or not to kick him out, and also asked all the other children to tell him what they thought of him.

The local law enforcement has decided that there was no emotional abuse here, but as someone who had similar problems as a child, I can tell you that this is definitely abuse, and the teacher should be punished in ways not currently considered constitutional.

Perhaps this blog entry lacks the levity with which I've become associated, but this whole story made me so angry I could scream. I truly feel for the child.

Oh, and the title of this entry... Neither the "blind" nor the "stupid" is the AS child. Look at it how you want... the administrators and the teacher... the police and CPS... the teacher and the rest of the class... Anyway you pair up the parties in this story, the title is apt, I think. The blind leading the stupid, indeed.

19 May 2008

My Buddy

I have the happiest dog in the world. No kidding. He's like so happy, you can hear it. It sounds a lot like a tail the size, shape and thickness of a baseball bat, banging rapidly on walls, chairs, cabinets and glass objects.

His name is Buddy. That is, his human name is Buddy. His dog name (what he wants other dogs to call him) is Rogan, Defender of the Faith and Chaser of Tails. He doesn't chase his own tail. He chases other tails. That's kinda part of why he needed to be fixed.

Anyway, he's a breed known in scientific dog-building circles as "yellow sunshine focused into an animated construct in the laboratory", or "Yellow Lab" for short. The breed was originally created to combat depression. Unfortunately, scientists were unable to extract the happy chemicals from the dogs' brains and keep them isolated from the bouncy, goofy chemicals. Early test subjects went on to become Peewee Herman, Ben Stein and Bill Clinton.

Buddy is this bundle of pure excited joy. To see him when he sees me makes me happy, because he's so happy to see me when I get home. Not only because I'm the one who lets him outside to tinkle, but also because he loves me. In fact, he loves everyone. He's like The Mother Thing, in Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. Except he's male. And not from outer space. And a dog.

My friend Jean picks up stray animals, fixes them up, changes the oil, and finds them new homes. She found Buddy, sick and dying, beaten, abused, and wanting nothing more than someone to love. She asked me for help with him, and when I met him, I fell in love.

The kind of love that's alright to have with a dog. Not that sick kind they have in Florida.

Anyway, I fell in love. I agreed to help her get him the medical treatment that he needed to survive, and then guilted her into giving him to me. I grew up the daughter of a Baptist preacher's daughter, so I know how to lay on the guilt.

So I took Buddy home. When we got there, we walked into the house, and my cat looked up from his Place of Honor on the couch, took one look, and said, "Awwww, HELL no!" Buddy said, "A new friend!" Lucky didn't speak to me for days. They were among the happiest days of my life. But I digress.

I swear, I think the character of Donkey from the Shrek movies is based on a Yellow Lab. When he sees me... no kidding... he starts jumping up and down, tail knocking over whoever's standing too close, and smiling like a drug addict who has just found my old doctor's office. Although my Doggish is weak, I'm pretty sure that all he's saying is, "Iwannago Iwannago Iwannago takeme takeme Iwannago Iwannago Iwannago!"

So now you know pretty much all there is to know about Buddy for future reference. Except that he's a 70-pound lapdog who won't let me sleep unless I give him water at night and chews on bones the size of Japanese cars. Now, when I make references to Buddy, you'll be prepared.

14 May 2008


I just love Russian accents. I mean... they're so... Idunno.... Russian?

Thing is, I grew up in Houston, Texas. Also known as "Old Mexico". I'm used to accents. Spanish accents, German accents, British accents, Redneckian accents, and even a few people who spoke with no accent, like me. But there were no Russian accents.

From my childhood through early adulthood, we were in the middle of the Cold War. Our biggest concern was that at any moment the USSR would bomb us with enough nukes to melt the continent, and we would respond with enough nukes to melt their continent. I've tried to explain this to some of the children I know, but their biggest concern is that terrorists will try to blow up one or two of our buildings, and then we'll respond by blowing up every country that the terrorists might have come from.

And then we'll send Halliburton in to take their oil.

And then we'll raise gas prices to meet the greater supply and unchanging demand.

This last part confuses me, too. I learned some economics in college, and there's something fishy about this. But I digress.

When I was growing up, the only place I ever heard a Russian accent was in a James Bond movie. I loved those movies, of course, but I've always loved all kinds of languages and accents. And the Russian accent is really neat.

When I traveled to Hungary a couple of years ago, I had already been there for two weeks before it occurred to me that I was behind the now-defunct Iron Curtain. Twenty years ago, traveling there would have been very dangerous. Now, I only risk losing my luggage.

And that happens each and every time I go, which is why I carry my most valuable items and a change of clothing with me when boarding a plane. But I digress.

I could travel around, all over the place there, and not once would I have to hide from the KGB or disguise myself. It's funny how the world changes when I'm not paying attention.

Actually, I was paying attention... I was in the military, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, on a US Navy ship, when we got word that a revolution had just started in Moscow, and we were told to stand by in case WWIII started. We became just a bit concerned, but a couple of days later the announcement came that we weren't going to war after all, and suddenly the world was a changed place. But I didn't really see the changes until I started traveling and also dealing with people with Russian accents.

I've thought about learning Russian just to be cool, but it wouldn't be as cool now as it would have been when we were still at war with them. Sorta at war. You know what I mean. Now, anyone can learn Russian, and without being labeled a Communist and tagged by the FBI. Not that many people do.... but they can.

Still, I love that accent.

13 May 2008

Some questions...

  1. Would a bisexual hermaphrodite be considered gay or straight?
  2. If nothing can touch a jellyfish without being paralyzed, why are there so many baby jellyfish?
  3. Why do we have to pay taxes on both our income and our spending? Didn't we get taxed already for the money?
  4. Also, why do we pay taxes on money that we pay taxes with? If we never recieve the money, because it goes to taxes before we get it, then it wouldn't count as incom, because we never got it, right?
  5. Why are P.E. coaches overweight?
  6. Why are judges referred to as "your honor"? Was there a time when there were honorable judges?
  7. Why do lawyers have an official code of ethics?
  8. Why does a country run by oil companies give tax breaks to people who drive alternative-fuel vehicles?
  9. If we're entitled to a jury of our peers, why is anyone who knows the defendant disqualified?
  10. If men think that lesbians are sexy, why do they bash gays?
  11. How is it that when I'm unemployed, I'm turned down for jobs that I apply for because I'm overqualified? Wouldn't that be a good reason to hire me?
  12. Why do "peace officers" carry guns?
  13. How was Microsoft able to show in court that it invented the word "windows"?
  14. Without looking in a dictionary... What's the definition for the word "the"?
  15. Why does the biggest producer of network equipment in the world (no names here) have the sorriest internal network?
  16. If the police aren't allowed to say that someone committed a crime, even after they're found guilty, but instead have to continue to call that person a "suspect" forever, why are they allowed to make the "suspect" in their computer simulations look exactly like the defendant?
  17. Why do people love to watch "Law and Order" and read John Grisham, but whine when they're called for jury duty?
  18. How can anyone say "creation science" with a straight face?
  19. Why is a system that requires everyone to perform the same under the same conditions considered unfair to some but not to others?
  20. Why is the only species on Earth to study evolution also the only species on Earth to try to keep it from happening?
  21. If census forms come in the mail, how does the census bureau know how many homeless people there are?
  22. How do surveys manage to report the percentage of persons who fit a category but refuse to admit it?
  23. Why are people universally afraid of cancer? It's almost always curable, and yes, if it's left untreated it can kill you, but so will strep throat, ear infections, food allergies and even bad teeth. Why aren't people so afraid of them?
  24. Why are there no laws against criminal stupidity?
  25. Why is there a beach ball sitting on my desk?
  26. Why is suicide illegal?

04 May 2008

Grace and Dignity

So, I was walking toward the gym, and ahead of me I saw this guy who was very well-muscled, and in just the kind of shape that makes my own muscles turn to jelly. I was about 30 feet behind him, and watching him walk, his movements serpentine and graceful, well-toned muscles showing clearly through his skimpy workout clothes.

I was just enjoying the sight, smiling to myself, but then, when he got to the gym, he opened the door and stopped. I continued walking, wondering what he was up to, and then he turned his head and smiled at me.

I was caught off guard... he was holding the door for me. How did he even know I was back there?

I returned his smile, feeling suddenly unworthy and shy, and....

Did you know that it's possible for someone to hold the door for you and for you to still walk straight into the wall next to the door?

Fortunately, I was able to recover gracefully and maintain my full dignity. I blamed the glass. "Wow, this glass is so clean and clear you can't even see it!"

I don't know if he bought my story... the wall was stucco.

03 May 2008

Tales from the Office

Here's why I love my job. I was sitting at work one day, chatting via IM with some guy who thought he could flirt. He couldn't, but he thought he could, so I was quietly laughing at his ineptitude.

Anyway, we were chatting, and I went silent for a while. He kept asking where I had gone, and finally I came back, and informed him that I had had a call from the Department of the Treasury, and had to take that call, but was finished and could resume our conversation.

He thought I was kidding. He chortled a bit at my joke.

I wasn't joking.

So, despite the inadequate pay, weird hours, and my constant need to make members of management feel like taking their own lives, I really do love my job. The work isn't a challenge at all, but the variety of people and companies I get to deal with is astounding.

Shortly after I started, in one day I fixed routers for both christianity.com and a gambling website. I felt like I was playing both sides of the fence.

On September 12, 2001, I built a massive VPN tunnel to bypass the former World Trade Center and get the stock market and a bunch of banks back online. I had like 30 guys on the phone at once, each working for a different major bank, and all desperate for this to be done quickly. I was tempted to ask them who could offer me the lowest interest on a home mortgage.

One more than one occasion I've resolved a problem and had the man on the phone tell me that he loved me. Apparently, men get like that when you save their jobs.

I had a case where the man couldn't believe his luck in getting an engineer who wasn't in India. He was particularly surprised because he was in Texas, as am I.

I've been inside the Pentagon's network, although I haven't even been to the same state as the actual building.

Of course, it hasn't always been good. I had a case where the "customer" wanted me to fix his virus problem that had nothing to do with any of the equipment that I support. His reasoning was that getting support from my company cost him nothing, since he already had a contract, but calling Microsoft would cost a fortune. His contract with us had nothing to do with computers, though, just routers, and he kept asking if I could fix his virus if he bought another piece of equipment.

I've had cases where the customer didn't like what I told him, so he would say, "Let me talk to a man." Seriously.

I've had cases where the customer would start yelling and cursing because the problem was all his fault and he couldn't believe he had been so stupid. More often than not, this would be followed by a low review directed at me, because I failed to properly prove that the problem was all my fault.

It's been an interesting job, though, with ups and downs, and I can barely remember ever working anywhere else. During the course of this one job, I've been through more life changes than any other time in my life. And the company has been there, always letting me know that they support me and if I'm having problems I don't have to worry about my job.

But I think that's because I won't tell them the Master Password and they're afraid of what will happen to the payroll database if my name is removed. As well they should be.

28 April 2008

I'm sorry, Gym, she's dead... dead tired!

I came up with an idea. It's something that every serious gym should have. There should be someone... one person per gym (per shift) would suffice... whose purpose is to walk people out to their cars after their workout, when they don't have the use of their arms, and help them into said cars. This person could be called a valet, or some such.

Simple task. Someone gets off the weight bench, the adrenaline dies down, and suddenly his arms are like well-used rags, hanging uselessly at his sides, and he can't even
lift his own keys. He needs someone to lift his belongings, escort him out to his car, open the door, set the belongings (and patron) down in the car, and close the door.

Of course, this person would have to be trustworthy, because people would rely on him to open their lockers, so they would need to be able to trust that he wouldn't give out their combinations, nor take advantage of his knowledge of the combinations. He would also need to be able to pass a drug test. I don't have anything against the use of recreational drugs, really, but honestly, do you want to have a line of fifty effectively armless people standing in line waiting for the valet to return from toking a doob?

And it would be more than just convenient... It would be safer! How many muggers target gyms, knowing that the people leaving are too tired to defend themselves? I don't know either, but I'm sure it's a really high number. With a valet to help people out to their cars, people wouldn't have to worry, especially about that embarrassing part where the mugger yells, "Put your hands up!" and they're forced to respond with, "I can't. :'-("

So he would gather their things from their lockers, escort them to their cars, and help them in. What the patrons do after that, sitting in a car but unable to use their arms, is up to them.

I'm sure I could sell the idea. Now, if I could just figure out how I could make money off the idea.

25 April 2008

Perchance to Dream...

So, I've started taking sleepy-pills. Just any pills that will make me drowsy all the time. Benadryl, Niaprazine, you name it. Whatever I can get my hands on.

I don't actually need them, but I figure that if I'm half asleep all the time, I have a great excuse for if I do something stupid or embarrassing. Apparently, even being half asleep I can still outperform the rest of my team, so it's not a problem, and if I do something like, for example, forget my name, I can just say that the pills are responsible.

The reality is that years of British comedy and keeping my head buried in a computer have resulted in a brain that resembles scrambled eggs on an MRI. But I can blame the pills instead. Taking personal responsibility for one's own shortcomings just isn't the American way, anymore.

But there are side effects. For example, I have strange dreams when I do actually get to sleep. Like last night...

Luann, Anna and I were riding in a stolen shadow government issue black SUV, on our way from a salon to a Vietnamese taco place. But as we were traveling along, a helicopter being flown by an elephant fell on our SUV and killed us all.

Stupid elephant.

Anyway, so we found ourselves in Heaven. There were ducks everywhere. There were more ducks than people. An angel came up to us and said, "Welcome to Heaven. We have one rule here: Never step on a duck."

We did manage to avoid the ducks for a while, but then one day Anna stepped on a duck. The angel came along immediately, dragging the ugliest man I had ever seen. He handcuffed the man to Anna and said to her, "For the crime of stepping on a duck, you have to spend the rest of Eternity chained to this man." Anna cried for a while, and Luann and I were more cautious than ever after that.

But one day, Luann stepped on a duck. As expected, the angel appeared and handcuffed a man even uglier than the other one to her. "For the crime of stepping on a duck, you have to spend the rest of Eternity chained to this man." She was distraught.

I was as careful as possible after that, constantly watching my feet, and wondering what kind of Heaven this was. Then, one day, that angel came up to me, dragging a gorgeous hunk of a man. Wordlessly, he handcuffed the man to me and walked away. I couldn't believe my luck! I said, "So, I get to spend eternity with you?"

He thought a moment, and said, "I don't know. All I know is, I stepped on a duck."

21 April 2008

General decline

What's the world coming to? I mean, I'm starting to feel overrun by foreigners.

No, I'm not a redneck. Hear me out...

So, today, I was having lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant with my friend, Luann, who is Vietnamese, and it was time to order. A nice Vietnamese gentleman came to our table for this very purpose. He asked what I wanted to drink, and I told him, "Tra da."


"Tra da."


"Iced tea."

"Oh, okay. And what would you like to eat?"

"Ga xiao ca ri."


"Chicken curry."


He took our menus and left. I looked at Luann, and said, "I like to be openminded, but I believe that if you want to come to this country and work here, you should be required to learn Vietnamese." She agreed.

Oh, and to clarify... I'm a Choctaw, so to me English is a foreign language. I think it's originally from Australia, or something. They (Australians) just developed an accent over the years, while White US immigrants kept the language pure.

16 April 2008

The Eyes Have It

So, I went in for my first ever eye exam. I didn't think there was a problem, but my friends and family have been pressuring me to get an exam for like 15 years, so I finally caved in. Anyway, according to the doctor, I have like the best vision he's ever seen. He says that some people get surgery to have better-than-20/20 vision, and that I have better eyes than those people do.


So, I finally have a confirmed super power. I spent the rest of the day playing with my new super power. Everywhere I went, I looked at stuff. And you know what? What I looked at... I saw it! It was incredible. Not only was everything clear and focused, but it was in full color, too.

I've never seen anything like it.

So now I can check another item off of the list... I've started developing super powers. I knew that without at least two super powers my plans to take over the world would fail. Now that one power has emerged, I know that others will follow.

Next step... work on that d@mn hamster problem. I mean, who can take over the world without an army of superhamsters? I think that's the real problem that all those supervillains on T.V. have: Syler, Dr. Doom, Dick Cheney, Magneto... Not one of them has an army of superhamsters. So...

I took posession of two females from my hamster's first brood. Since he didn't know they were his daughters, I put him in with them. He impregnated one and ate the other. Hrm. Well, now I know that my new race of superhamsters will be carnivorous. And after all, who ever won a battle using an army of vegans?

So anyway, The pregnant hamster had three puppies. Count 'em... three. Half the normal number. This isn't going well.

My roommate, Anna, took possession of two of the males. She put them together in a cage, and we laughed for days at their antics, running around the cage, wrestling, running on the wheel... Then we realized they weren't wrestling. They were... ummmm.... They were doing the mommy-and-daddy thing. We tolerated it for a while... we're open to alternate lifestyles in this house. But then one of the males tried to castrate the other.

We had to rescue the injured hammy and put him in a separate cage. When we did, he started dong something obscene with his water bottle. In his mouth. I've never seen anything like it. Then I realized.... The humping, the attempted castration, and now deepthroating the water bottle... These hamsters really do have a relationship where one is the designated "girl".

My efforts to build a race of superhamsters isn't going well. Perhaps I should try gerbils. They're smart, right?

14 April 2008

20 more things a doctor shouldn't say

  1. Think of it this way.... The tumor cells are like the Cleveland Browns, and your body is the Oakland Raiders.
  2. And Oakland's entire coaching staff was arrested last night for indecency with a minor.
  3. And someone spiked the Oakland's Gatoraide with a laxative.
  4. Your lab results are in, but first, I need to talk to you about a company called Amway. Have you ever thought about financial independence?
  5. Think of the tumor as Red Team and the infection as Blue Team. And your brain is the arena.
  6. Many people lead perfectly normal lives without the use of their five senses.
  7. Have you ever wondered if there really is life after death?
  8. At this point, the best advice I can give is, "Go into the light."
  9. Strictly speaking, this treatment isn't approved by the FDA. In fact, it's banned in most civilized countries.
  10. What? You don't have a UPC tattoo! YOU'RE UNSCANNABLE!!!!!
  11. We checked for everything. You tested positive.
  12. This next test usually results in blindness, but that's a risk I'm willing to take.
  13. Have I ever mentioned that I don't like you? I don't know why. Something about you just rubs me the wrong way.
  14. Actually, "Doctor" is an honorary title...
  15. I decided that latex gloves were just a formality.
  16. Look up... Look down... Look all around.... YOUR PANTS ARE FALLING DOWN!
  17. Can you handle a whole lot of pain for just a few seconds?
  18. It sounds funny when you say it like that. hehe
  19. Were these two pieces attached when you came in here?
  20. I actually wanted to play accordion when I grew up, but my father wanted a carpenter. So we decided to compromise.

09 April 2008

Ode to a Butt Cushion

Today, it suddenly occurred to me that for a few days I've been all kinds of energetic and feel-goodish and stuff. I even noticed that I seemed to be riding a mild high such as the kind that I sometimes get from Vicodin. At first, I thought that perhaps my friend, Luann, had been sneaking hydrocodone into my Spicy Thai, in order to encourage me to have lunch with her every day, but I dismissed this on the grounds that... ummm.... Well, I just assumed she didn't.

Anyway.... So I wondered why I felt so good, and I realized that it's probably because I've been relatively pain-free since sometime last week, thanks to my new inflatable, donut-shaped butt cushion. I don't know why the butt cushion works, since the doctors have yet to determine the cause of the Mystery Pain, but it does work. But that got me thinking.

The pain isn't (usually) intense. It's just fairly constant. It's there all the time and I don't know where it comes from. So, it's almost more of a nuisance than anything else. But it was there. All the time. And now it's not.

Is the absence of pain, even pain that mild, enough to actually cause a sense of mild euphoria? I guess so. And that's interesting. In theory, the goodness will fade as I become accustomed to generally not being in pain. But in the mean time, it just feels so good, it's like I'm on drugs, except that I'm allowed to operate heavy machinery.

And so....

Ode to a Butt Cushion

Small, blue balloon upon which I sit,
To thee I owe my rest.
You comfort that through which I shit,
And help me through my day.

I fill you with my very breath,
When sitting at my desk,
And in return, you help me with
Your round torus-like way.

I think of you, my plastic friend,
Each time I use a chair,
You give support to my rear end,
And leave me free from grief.

And how you seem to offer hope
To my poor derrière,
Creating without any dope,
A measure of relief.

My doctor couldn't help me find,
The cause of my distress,
And I suspect that in her mind,
It isn't even real.

I wonder, though, that if she felt
Discomfort such as this,
Would I let her play as she dealt,
Without any appeal?

I want to think that I would take
Her to the dollar store,
And show her where to get a break
From all her suffering.

To share with her the pleasure that,
You've brought to one so poor,
And I'd know that the doctor sat,
Upon your sweet sibling.

O' sweet butt cushion, I love you,
You've saved a suff'ring lass,
From always knowing senseless pain,
From sitting on my ass!

08 April 2008

Anal Geez Ick

So my doctor told me that I needed a colonoscopy. Such a wonderful concept... Stick a camera on the end of a hose and insert it into a person's rectum for some landscape shots. I don't know how I could have gone so long without one.


So my doctor told me that I needed a colonoscopy. Sadly, this wasn't my first. I had one a couple of years ago. So this one should be easy, right?

First, I needed to be "cleansed". This consists of a day or mild torture. First, you can't eat anything that isn't "clear". Apparently, Jell-o is clear, no matter what color it is, and all forms of broth are "clear", no matter how unclear they actually are. I wanted to have pizza with anchovies and onions, but apparently anchovies aren't clear enough. So instead I ate nothing that day except melted vanilla ice cream. Hey, if beef broth is clear, so is vanilla ice cream.

Then, in the afternoon, you have to take some stuff that's going to "clean you out". I got the stuff at a drug store. It cost $60, and wasn't covered by my insurance. I was thinking that maybe I should just drink half a bottle of milk of magnesia and wash it down with two liters of Gatorade, but I didn't want to make mistakes. So I forked over the moneyI had earmarked for some "AAA" batteries and was handed a box the size of a small dog carrier.

The kit contained two pills and a plastic jug with some powder and three small flavor packets. The idea was to take the pills, add water and one flavor packet to the jug, refrigerate the jug, wait six hours, have a bowel movement, and then start drinking the contents of the jug, eight ounces every 15 minutes. And not have anything to eat or drink after midnight.

Now, if I followed the timeline on the instructions, I would still be drinking the stuff at 2:00 AM. So I just popped the pills and started to wash them down with some of the mixture from the jug.

Big mistake.

The stuff in the jug was salt. When I added water, it created salt water. When I added the flavor packet, it made no discernible difference. One swallow of the stuff was enough to induce vomiting. I managed to hold it in, but just barely. I decided that next time I'm definitely going with milk of magnesia and Gatorade.

Anyway, I washed down as much of the vile concoction as I could and then poured the rest into my roommate's dog's waterbowl.

I slept fitfully that night, probably because I had taken an industrial grade laxative (the pills from the "cleansing kit"). I got up at 7:00 that morning and spent some quality time on Mr. Potty. The youngest child had seen me enter the restroom, so naturally she followed and spent the entire time pounding on the door, shouting, "Ashley, I golla go potty!!!"

I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything, so naturally, as soon as I thought this, my stomach started growling profusely. I watched my roommate, Anna, prepare breakfast for the children. Pancakes. My favorite. Crap. Then, I had to go to the bathroom again.

I got dressed, trying to figure out the best thing to wear to a place where I was just going to take everything off when I got there. Usually, this means I would wear something short and tight, but on this occasion I decided to go with casual attire. (This wasn't a date, and my doctor's just not that cute.) Then, when I finished getting ready... I had to go potty again.

Anna had agreed to give me a ride, because for some reason hospital people don't like you driving after being anesthetized. So we went.

At the Endo center, sort of a Colon Mills Studios, I filled out lots of paperwork and agreed to give them permission to tell me what was wrong. Then I was informed that the copay was $464. In case you don't know, this is a lot. I'm used to paying more like $20, and then being sent a bill later for services I hadn't known would be done. But no, apparently my medical insurance has a deductible, so I had to pay that, plus a percentage, plus the expected $20. I felt like a dented car door. With a copay.

I showed up half an hour early for my appointment, so naturally I had to wait two full hours to go in. I was in the waiting room so long that the battery in my e-book reader ran down, so I had to watch what was on the idiot box - daytime television. I learned what was up with Erica and Tony, whoever they are, and I also learned about the various medicinal properties of low-fat mayonnaise.

During this time, I was sitting on a chair just hard enough to irritate the area that was my
very reason for being there. I could have brought my donut butt-cushion with me, but I do have my dignity. Or I did until I walked into the back room.

In the back room, first I had to go potty again, and then I had to get undressed and gowned, and put my belongings into a lidless Tupperware container the size of a sandwich. Having spent four years in the military, I was accustomed to packing into small spaces. When I was naked from the waist up, I had to stretch (it was one of those moments) so I did. Of course, after a night of prescription-grade diarrhea when I wasn't allowed to eat or drink, a quick stretch turned into a torrent of abdominal cramps. I spent several minutes trying to stop the cramps so that I could finish changing. In the mean time, I was surrounded by curtains in a room that was crowded with other people. I barely managed to get some covering before a head poked in, asking, "Are you alright?"

So I packed my belongings into the sandwich container and climbed under the blanket. Now, I have to admit, the nice, freshly-laundered blankets, still warm from the dryer, are almost worth the whole thing. Then, a nurse came in and proceeded to stick a needle the size of a Honda tailpipe into the back of my hand. On a side note, I got to spend a few minutes observing the normal happenings there. Mostly, it consisted of one nurse consistently forgetting who I was, one nurse pushing beds in and out of the back room, one nurse forgetting which way was the exit, and one woman who seemed to forget whether she worked there or not. I was beginning to lose confidence when the sudden intense burning sensation in my hand distracted me and I forgot who I was for a moment.

When I was wheeled into the back, a nurse (the forgetful one) superglued electrodes onto my torso to monitor my heart rate. Apparently, something they do when taking rectal photos presents a cardiac threat. I rolled onto my side... let's face it, we all know where they needed to get access, and stared at the instruments, trying to play with my heartbeat. Trust me on this... If you put in the effort to learn to make your heart stop, it's worth it to see the faces on doctors and nurses when you do it unexpectedly while they're in the room. hehe

I noticed at one point that the straight lines on the instruments were suddenly not so straight. I realized that I had been slipped a mickey, or something, and decided to see how long I could resist the anesthetic. I counted to 100 to test my will.

Well, technically, I counted to 3.

I woke up to one of the nurses telling me I needed to roll onto my back and fart. Her exact words were, "I need you to roll on your back and fart."

Being drugged out of my gourd, I complied. Or tried to. In tooted a little, then said, "It feels wet."

The nurse just laughed. "That's normal. There's a towel under you."

The thing is, no matter how drugged up I am, I still have my limits. I tooted as much as I could, but a sensor on my sphincter started howling, "Danger, Will Robinson, DANGER!!!"

Finally, a nurse helped me to the restroom again. I know I keep harping on this, but really, how could they do a colonoscopy and not notice that I still had a round in the chamber?

Anyway, as I sat on the bed, trying to figure out how to stand on my own, I was told that Anna was there to pick me up. They made her stand in the curtained area with me while I got dressed. Weird, huh?

They told me that the doctor had come by to visit. While I was asleep. I guess that's when he informed me of his findings. Yeah, really helpful.

Anyway, I got home and went back to sleep. For the rest of the day. Wishing I had one of those nice, warm blankets.

05 April 2008

More doctor sayings

Here's a list of 20 more things I don't ever want to hear my doctor say:

  1. How would you like to be in a text book?
  2. Do you know how to get blood stains out of a car seat?
  3. This is my colleague, Dr. Robbins. He specializes in exorcising demons.
  4. Ignore the man behind the curtain.
  5. Your insurance company called... How much cash do you have on you right now?
  6. Did you know that you can get a doctor's diploma through the Internet?
  7. Before I tell you your test results, I need to know if you're prone to fits of violence.
  8. I hope you like Jell-o, because that's all you'll be eating from now on.
  9. Let me point out that suicide can be quite a painless alternative...
  10. Does this stethoscope make my head look fat?
  11. I forget, where's the cocyx?
  12. I can't read this big words... what does this say?
  13. Have you been bitten by insects in the Amazon basin recently?
  14. You're not supposed to have three of these.
  15. The first thing to remember is that we're all mortal, so you're not alone.
  16. I would say that "treatable" is probably too strong a word.
  17. Just ignore the gas mask.
  18. I hate to be the bearer of bad news... So let me get a nurse.
  19. Until I saw the lab results, I thought you were kidding.
  20. I saw this once on an episode of Star Trek.

04 April 2008

Movie appeal

So, my roommate, Giordi, and I were discussing movies this evening, and I tried to convey my concept of the movie, Mortal Combat. The first one, not the second one. I described it as having lots of "gratuitous action". Now, most guys would have a problem with this concept, but Giordi has a gift for understanding things conceptually. It gets him in trouble, sometimes. Anyway, I was explaining how sometimes, during a plot gap, they would just insert a random fight.

Giordi said, "So, it's like porn, but instead of sex, there's fighting." I started to laugh, but then I realized that that's exactly what it is. So I laughed anyway. Then, he started describing how he saw it as playing out...

"Hi, there."

"Well, hello."

"How are you?"

"I'm fine, thank you. And you?"

"Just fine, thanks. Say, you look like a fighter."

"Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I am."

"Would you like to fight, then?"

"Certainly! Let us."

I'll never see Mortal Combat the same way again.

03 April 2008

World of Wargrift

So, today, as I sat at my desk at work, listening to the weather on the phone so that I would appear to be working, I pondered ways in which I might earn some extra money. Getting a regular job had seemed like a good idea, until I found out that after seven years I'm still making less money than new-hires on the cleaning staff.

Note to self: Next time, shoot the guidance councilor and become a bomb squad technician.

Anyway, I was pondering ways in which to earn more money. It occurred to me that with my biggest World of Warcraft character, I can earn nearly 100 gold per day without doing anything special, and that's a lot of money in WoW terms.

So I decided to try to earn money like she does. Now, I asked myself, how does she make money? Well... She goes around killing stuff. If it's skinnable, she skins it and makes leather goods. Otherwise, she loots the bodies. It seemed reasonable. So if I want to earn money that way, all I have to do is go around killing people and taking what's in their pockets. And also killing their animals for the leather.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not a cold-blooded killer. I needed a good target. I thought about driving past the courthouse and trying to take out some lawyers with my car, but the traffic downtown is nasty, and also I would never get the lawyer smell off my car.

I also thought about those police you see everywhere. I know they can't be busy, because I've called them for help before, and they never failed to disappoint. But then I noticed, after the first few, that they were all wearing guns, and I realized that if I weren't careful one of them might pull out the gun and shoot me.

I didn't want to target the wealthy, because they would sue me. And I didn't think that it would even make sense to target the poor. They don't even have money in their pockets. That's why they're called "poor". Also, I came from a poor background, and I don't wanna dis my homeys, y'all.

I reasoned that the leatherworking route was the best way to go. I could just run over some animals, peel off the leather, cure it, and sell it to places that buy leather from shady sources. And if the animal targeted had a person attached, such as a dog with a leash or a horse with a rider or a cat attacking someone's face, then I could both get the leather and raid the person's pockets.

Of course, there are drawbacks. In WoW, you have to periodically get your armor repaired to fix wear and tear (and poke and stab and burn). In TRL (The Real World), I would have to get my car fixed. That would be a big more expensive. Even just one horse could conceivably do 10 gold worth of damage to my car. So I needed to explore other options.

My father has lots of advice on earning extra money. But despite the fact that my father is actually one of the wisest men I know, I already listened to him regarding daily updates on my blog. I can't just accept another piece of advice this soon. I don't want to give him the impression that he runs my life. What kind of a daughter would I be?

My roommate (Giordi) has lots of avice, too, but I don't think I have that many organs that I can sell. I already donated my appendix last year, and I'm still using my duodenum.

My other roommate (Anna) still isn't speaking to me after reading my recent blog entries. Her last words to me (two days ago) were "You seriously need some professional help. No, really." Hrm.

My daughter's advice sounds all complicated and uses phrases like "day trading" and "forex", a word which I'm sure she made up.

I asked my cat's advice, and he just bit me.

So, it's back to the drawing board. Maybe I should play some World of Warcraft. It doesn't earn me extra money, but it helps me forget that I seriously need to go to bed. I say, going to bed when you're tired is the coward's way out.

02 April 2008

All that training...

Today, I compiled a list of things that I don't ever want to hear a doctor say to me:

  1. The good news is you won't be in pain much longer...
  2. Before we start, I'd like to get my payment up front.
  3. You remember last year when I said you looked healthy? Well, funny thing...
  4. I'll make this quick, because you don't have time to waste.
  5. Just out of curiosity... Have you thought about making your peace with God?
  6. This would be an excellent time to take out a huge, long-term loan and just spend it.
  7. Great news! According to the lab results, you'll never grow old.
  8. I've seen your x-rays, and I would like to be the first to welcome you to our planet.
  9. You should cancel any plans for this weekend.
  10. I thought we had fixed this...
  11. I don't suppose you took a cab here on the off chance you wouldn't be driving your car home.
  12. It's like this... Do you remember that scene in Alien, where...
  13. To be honest, this sort of thing almost never happens, since the end of the Great Plague.
  14. Any other time, this would be really funny.
  15. You know that saying about doctors being "only human"? Well...
  16. Ouch, that's going to hurt, if the feeling ever returns.
  17. Is your apartment rent-controlled?

31 March 2008

Daily updates

So, my father was telling me that I should make it a point to update my blog every day. That I should force myself to get into the habit. And he's right. I should. Here's today's.

19 March 2008

Engineering Decree

This morning, as I listened to the mellow tunes of The Phantom of the Opera on my way to work, I took pleasure in visualizing this guy at work exploding. He used to be my manager, and when I decided I was tired of his crap I went back to my previous job and let him take up the load. Since then, he has bugged me nearly constantly... "What's the master password, again? How do you plug in a monitor? Which slot takes credit cards?"

For that last question, instead of pointing out the floppy drive, I told him I had to run the card manually and now I have his credit card. teehee

Anyway, I was listening to The Phantom's Overture, my favorite song from the soundtrack, I visualized him exploding. I rewound the song a few times, so that I could see the gooshy part again. It was relaxing, and made the drive seem to fly by.

When I arrived at the office, there was an ambulance outside the building. I was elated. Finally, I thought, my quest for superpowers has come to fruition. Soon, I shall rule the world with an iron fist! But when I got upstairs, I found him still alive. Apparently, someone else had exploded, or whatever, and I was saddened. Not because someone had exploded, or whatever, but because it wasn't someone on my "list". This, of course, led to much pondering and introspection.

I mean, I have to do something for eight hours a day, right?

Eventually, I realized that it's not just me. I'm an engineer, and being an engineer means being a Harbinger of Death.

No, hear me out.

I know that human death never really bothered me, but I never stopped to think about other engineers. Who designs new guns? Engineers! Who built the first (and second) atomic bomb? Engineers.

We can peer inside the atom or build a supercomputer that fits on the head of a pin, but civil engineers don't design buildings that bend rather than collapsing during an earthquake? And those same civil engineers put skyscrapers close together in earthquake zones!

When the brakes fail on a car, who designed the faulty brakes? Automotive engineers. And don't even get me started on the number of people killed by airbags.

HIV? Genetic engineers. Assault vehicles? Mechanical engineers. Putting detergent and gasoline into a light bulb so that when the lamp is lit the mixture becomes napalm and explodes? Custodial engineers.

The list goes on.

But is all this really a sign of bad things? No, I think it's good.

No, hear me out!

In evolution, how do you get to the top of the food chain? Is it by marching for animal rights and eating vegan? No, you do it by eating the competition. The way of getting ahead in nature is to kill. It's natural, and it's right, and it feels oh, so good.

Some day, the descendants of today's engineers will be either disembodied godlike beings of pure energy or will have their essence hosted by perfect, mechanical bodies, granting them both immortality and easy cleaning. And if any of our minions try to rebel, we'll make them explode.

And we'll like it.

12 March 2008


Today, I was pondering the token single person amongst my minions... er, ummmm.... on my team. I was wondering what she does each evening after work, since she's single and doesn't have the same ties that the rest of us have. Then it occurred to me....

Aren't I single?

Having nothing better to do, I pondered why I would have lumped myself with all the married people on the team. I realized, then... I have a child. I mean, I already knew that I had a child... but I realized that because of my child, on some level, I considered myself to not be single.

I realized that although I'm single, my ambitions were skewed by the fact that my actions and choices affect someone else as much as they do me. I plan my weekends based on whether my child will be with me, and when I think about moving I think about how far I would be from my child, and for six weeks during the summer I even plan meals around my child.

Suddenly, I don't feel so single. Still, I wonder what that single lady at work does in her free time...

09 March 2008

The True Meaning of Friendship

So, I was sitting in the living room with my roommates, and we were discussing the disposal of a human body.

No, it's not what you think.

We were watching this television show wherein a woman accidentally killed her husband's friend, and in a panic the two of them worked to get rid of the body. I might have accidentally started things off with a comment such as, "That's what marriage should be all about. Two people willing to help each other, no matter what."

I should mention that my roommates are married. To each other. I like things to work all out symetric-like.

Anyway, so male roommate, Giordi, looked at female roommate, Anna, and said, "You would help me, right? If I had a body to get rid of? You would help me throw it from a plane?"

Anna, who, for some reason, expresses concern over our (Giordi's and my) behavior, pursed her lips, thought a moment, and said, "That would depend on why the body was dead."

"What? Why? I'm your husband."

"That doesn't mean I'm gonna help you hide a body."

Well, I felt the need to come to my friend's aid. I've known Giordi for many years, and we've been through a lot together. He was there when I accidentally set the kitchen on fire while trying to learn to light candles with my mind. And I was there when he was rewriting the standard Gnu C math libraries to speed up large arithmetic so that he could write a custom Linux X/desktop applet to predict phases of the moon. We're like siblings, only without the DNA and weird personal history. So I spoke up.

"I would help you get rid of a body, no matter why the bastard died."

Anna seemed unhappy with this announcement. "What?!?"

"I would help him. I mean, partly because I'm borderline psychotic, but mostly because he's my best friend."

Giordi spoke up... "See? Even a borderline psychotic would be more helpful than you."

Suddenly, I reallized why Giordi and I have been having trouble getting into contracts that require a security clearance. And also why Anna locks the bedroom door at night. That is, why she locks my bedroom door at night.

08 March 2008

Art imitates life, and all that...

So, some friends of mine were sitting around playing Dungeons and Dragons, each with a laptop so that they could all send each other instant messages, even though they were all in the same room. Well, this just wasn't quite nerdy enough for me, so I started poking around the Internet and stumbled across a webcomic that looked interesting.

I was looking at the cast of the comic, and found an interesting passage character description:

Ashley is the world's next great super-villain. Some day. For now, she is the little red-headed terror of a daughter to a single mom.

Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't help but be creeped out by this... It's like the comic writer was peeking into my life. Kinda. I mean, when I was the apparent age this character, I didn't want to be a supervillain, but I guess I had it in me, becuase when I was a child I never had imaginary friends. I only had imaginary enemies. And I wasn't red-headed then. But my single mother was. Hrm.