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.