My niece's second birthday was Thursday. The party is Saturday. This is Brother 1's daughter. We're having the party at Sister In LAw 1's sister's house.
Where does one's family end? Brother 1 shares ~50% of my DNA. SILA1 is married to him. SILA1's sister shares SILA1's DNA. That sister's husband is married to the sister. His parents...
At what point is it OK to not send Christmas cards?
Friday, February 29, 2008
My niece's second birthday was Thursday. The party is Saturday. This is Brother 1's daughter. We're having the party at Sister In LAw 1's sister's house.
EBS Guy just sent out an e-mail. As usual, the subject is the message.
Working from home rest of day - Forgot to take my prescription & need to head home to take it
The crocus is a mighty critter
That pokes its head out at the end of witter.
When we walk on your bed, O crocus,
Please be kind and do not pokus.
Ogden Nash, you've been served!
These little guys were poking out yesterday afternoon. We're still expecting an inch or so of snow/sleet/slush today. Also sprach der Meteorologe.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
In the men's rooms in our building, there are some automated air freshener devices that spray an aerosol every ~5 minutes or so. While I am obsessive enough to time the sprays, I haven't yet done so.
For the past couple of days, the one in the men's room on our floor has been beeping about every 30 seconds. I think this means that the spray is empty. It would be funny to put up a sign that said, "Out of Odor."
GPop and I used to sing in a local performing arts organization. We volunteered our time to help out in a number of ways, and we made several friendships that have lasted a long time. Of course, as in any organization, there are certain characters that make the experience much more interesting.
One of these people was Frank Filterless. He didn't seem to have a filter between whatever was going on inside his head and the word generator that made sounds come out of his mouth. He generated a stream-of-consciousness narrative pretty much any time he was near someone else. He was a reasonably nice guy, but trying to follow his conversation was tiring, especially since he had a penchant for non-sequitirs, and his brilliant observations were of the 60W bulb variety. Frank was the athletic type who, in the words of John Prine, "was a pretty nice fella, kind of confused. / Got muscles in his head, ain't never been used..."
A few years back, GPop and I were lined up to go onstage for a performance. The musical director was standing right next to us. Frank walked by, explaining to some unlucky schlub why this year's Academy Awards would be especially glamorous, or whatever, and GPop muttered, "Speak and remove all doubt." The musical director started to shake silently, and he couldn't make eye contact with us during the first two or three songs.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
We went to the local home and garden show at the convention center where local and national companies display their wares. The Kubota tractor exhibit caused me to have an inappropriate tingly feeling, especially when I saw the one with the front loader and backhoe. Scooptastic!
In the "home" side, there were a number of booths that weren't quite plugged into the theme of the event. Some of the booths were arts & crafts, and some sold Doctor Trustme's Miracle Cure Devices and Nostrums. One device was a TiVo-sized doohickey with some pads on the top that was designed for the user to lie down and place his/her ankles on the pads. The device would them move the user's legs back and forth 117 times per minute. I'm not sure of the significance of the number, but there you go. It was supposed to help cure or treat a variety of ailments, like the vapors, dropsy, ague, hair loss, diabetes, dyspepsia, excess cash syndrome, and best of all, et cetera.
The guy who was hawking the devices looked pretty much like number 4 on this list of televangelists with bad toupees. He told me a diabetic needs to walk six to eight miles per day, or else the diabetic's legs would die. This machine was supposed to help with just a five-minute vibration each day. Also, the machine helps remove toxins through some undefined agency. I was a little distracted by the fact that the guy was missing good portions of his index and middle fingers on his left hand. I couldn't help but wonder if the machine had something to do with it.
After the vibration, Eggbert Terwilliger asked the guy how often a person needed to use the machine to get maximum benefit. The guy replied that you could use it as often as you wanted. Eggbert and I looked at each other to acknowledge that the guy hadn't actually answered the question. Then the guy asked if he could write us up a sales order. We left. If I kept the guy's business card, I'll post the web site, if any.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I saw a commercial the other night for Kinoki foot pads. They're supposed to draw toxins out of your body when you tape them to your feet each night. You can tell that they're "working" by the fact that they turn brown by morning.
I can certainly believe, based on some aromatic feet that I'm sure we've all run into on occasion, that people might come to the conclusion that feet have some kind of toxic waste dump aspect to them. However, if our bodies had such a hard time excreting toxins, we'd all be dead. Also, how does it make any sense at all for toxins to be forced out through the thick skin of the feet?
So what does remove toxins? IANAD, but the Intarwebs tell me that exhalation, urination, and defecation are natural ways, and dialysis and (in limited circumstances) chelation are artificial ways. Sweat is not, and magic maxipads are not.
Practitioners of "alternative medicine" (scare quotes are intentional) often say that Big Medicine and Big Pharma are in it for the money, and the little Sellers of Complementary and Alternative Medicine are just out to help the little people. I doubt that's true in all cases.
So is snake oil an oil made from snakes, or is it something you put on a snake? Or both?
Monday, February 25, 2008
Cranky Prof asked for Angry Language Guy's take on "irregardless."
Irregardless, and its sibling, irregardlessly, are single word double negatives. They make me throw up, just a little, in the back of my mouth. Irrespective of its status as a word, my spell checker in Firefox chooses not to tag it as a misspelling. Now I need to brush my teeth and gargle.
UPDATE: Mea culpa - I used "it's" when I should have used "its." I fixed it.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
We went to see one of my favorite artists, John Prine, a few nights ago. It was a good show, even though John Prine was in the middle of a big cold, and his voice was even gravellier (neologism du jour) than when I saw him in 2003. The opening act was an Irish country singer named Maura O'Connell, and she joined him onstage for a couple of numbers later in the show.
Since this is the middle of winter in downtown Winter Wonderland, the venue was indoors. John Prine is a popular enough name that it was one of the big theaters in Capital City (2800 seats), and we were on the far right side of row FF. I had an aisle seat ("I caught an aisle seat on a plane;/ Drove an English teacher half insane/Makin' up jokes about bicycle spokes/And red balloons..."), so I was able to stretch my legs a bit.
There was a guy in the row behind us who was probably used to the more outdoor type venues. He had a LOUD voice, and he was providing a CONSTANT NARRATIVE of whatever went on INSIDE HIS HEAD, which included repeated use of the F-WORD, which isn't necessarily something that offends me, but my son was right there, and we were in a freakin' theater. The usher came by a bit later to tell us that GPop's was the third complaint they'd had about the guy's behavior. The guy's wife was trying to rein him in, and I could tell that she was very near mortally embarrassed.
Son was kind of excited to go, but he had only slept a couple of hours the night before, because he'd been at a friend's house. He lasted through the opening act and one or two songs into John Prine's set, then he dozed off on my arm. He was probably the youngest person at the show. He did wake up later to watch some of the numbers. I wanted him to see some of the impressive guitar and bass work onstage. The players were rockin' pretty hard up there at certain points. John Prine had that jiggly left leg thing going on in the faster numbers. The bass fiddle guy played the instrument both as a rhythm instrument and with a bow during one song. We ended up leaving at 11:00, and I think we probably missed the final number, which I'm guessing was "Paradise."
John Prine is known as a folk singer, and he has the "folksy" part down. There was one point where he started a song, and the crowd began to cheer. He stopped and said, "What are you cheering for? I have five songs that start like this." When he was talking about another song, he said that someone asked him to write a song for a movie, and he did, but it wasn't all that special, because he used "the same three chords that I always play."
All told, we had a great time. Son approached me last night right before bed, and he said, "Dad, thanks for everything we've done and bought the last couple of days." Then he gave me a big hug.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I have never liked to carry a credit card balance that is more than I bring home with one paycheck. Through most of our lives together, GPop and I have managed to keep reasonably comfortable with that rule. Last year, however, our furnace and AC went bad right after we'd bought a new car. Oops - sorry, budget.
We've been carrying a balance for about 11 months. It's been a little stressful on me, because I'm imagining flood, fire, invasion, etc., due to floating this balance. I'm happy to say that I just initiated an online bill-pay transfer to zero out our credit card balance.
I have a couple of financial goals now.
- Six month emergency fund. I want to be able to have enough to pay the mortgage for six months if something were to happen to one of our jobs. I'm thinking about putting that money in six-month CDs, so I can get to one month of emergency funding each month, if necessary.
- Son's college fund. The odds are god that Son is going to attend college, and I want to be able to fund a good portion of that.
- Pay off the car loan faster. Get that monkey off my back, too.
- Pay off the mortgage sooner.
Hi. This is Mayor McCheese of Capital City. I'm calling to remind you that *click*
Hi. This is Barack Obama calling to tell you that *click*
Hi. This is outgoing Republican Congresscritter Useless McDumbass calling to *click*
Um... Are you OK?
"Oh, Hi Eggbert. Sorry. Political robocalls."
Oh. I was calling to invite you to the Home and Garden show at the convention center this weekend, but if you need some time to yell at a puppy...
When I was in college, I spent a lot of time walking. That should be no surprise to people who went to college in large universities. You'd have back-to-back classes that were a half mile apart, and you'd have to haul @$$ to get from one to another.
Anyway, I enjoyed most of that time walking. The university grounds were attractive, and it was a nice interlude that allowed for some processing and refreshing air. I usually carried a big golf umbrella, so I was rarely caught in weather that made me too uncomfortable.
One day, I was walking along, and I suddenly WENT BLIND in my left eye! I panicked. What the hell could have happened? I was about 20, in good health, and OH MY GOD, I'M BLIND!
I took off my glasses, and I realized that a bird had crapped so that it missed my head and landed on the inside of my glasses lens. What are the odds?
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
EBS Guy's announcement of his pending absence tomorrow. This is the subject of and the complete e-mail.
I will be OOTO Friday - Catching up on the wife's chores she has assigned me
OK. So it was funny to me.
On Friday evening, as I was heading home from work, GPop called to tell me that he was feeling a bit under the weather. Son called and told me the same thing. Since I was healthy, I stopped at the grocery store complex to make sure I could take care of my man and my boy while they weren't quite up to snuff.
At the Blockbuster, I picked up the Spiderwick Chronicles game for the Wii, Explorers, and Final Fantasy VII. We tried to watch FF VII. We couldn't finish it. Son, GPop, and I kept saying things like, "What the heck does that mean?" or "Where did he come from?" or "That doesn't make any sense." Finally, Son said, "This makes my head hurt. Can we stop watching this?" GPop and I agreed.
We've seen quite a few movies based on video games. By and large, they are awful. I imagine that I will someday learn this lesson. At least until a Zelda or Metroid movie comes out.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I was in a meeting recently where there was a very long Powerpoint presentation on screen. The template had some kind of little icons in the header and footer that made me think of the following concept, which I've illustrated below. If you can't guess what it is, click on this text.
UPDATE: The "click here" thing isn't working on some RSS feeds. Here's a ROT13 answer - Cnp-Zna jvgu n onyy tnt.
Son told me last night that his health teacher advised the students that seventh grade boys should eat a diet with 3000 calories per day, and that seventh grade girls should eat 2000 calories per day.
Upon further reflection, I may need to take a more active role in my school district's educational direction.
My maternal grandfather passed away a little over three years ago. The funeral home arranged for a public viewing on a Thursday with the funeral to be on the Friday. As Atropos would have it, there was a horrible ice storm on that Wednesday night, and that town and its environs lost electricity, the roads were almost completely blocked in some cases, and huge numbers of trees suffered massive damage and lost limbs. Thursday's viewing wasn't possible.
On Friday, the second- or third-generation funeral director modified the schedule to allow people to come and visit before the actual funeral service. Not only is he a nice man, but his family has been friends of my family for years - possibly for generations. There was quite a turnout. My grandparents were well known and well respected in their community. I didn't grow up anywhere near that town, because my parents moved away when I was an infant, but quite a few people talked to me like they'd seen me every week for 35 years instead of every week for the first six months of my life, and then twice since then.
The minister of my grandparents' church arrived a few minutes late for the service, but honestly, what's the rush? Nobody's going anywhere, and we all knew that the roads still weren't clear. This minister had only been at that church for a few months, so he didn't really know Grandpa and Grandma all that well, but he wanted to do the best he could for his flock. My mom and her two siblings all moved away from this town, and the nine grandchildren and their families were scattered even further, so none of us had ever met the guy.
He stood at the podium, cleared his throat, and began to speak. "We are heah to wemember the life of David Woberts*. He was eighty-thwee years old..."
Eight grandchildren suddenly put their hands up over their faces and started to "cry." The eldest grandchild has just that little extra sense of decorum that kept her from shaking with laughter.
Later, we all cheered ourselves up from our loss by saying, "Twue Wove" or "Mawwiage" to each other. I don't plan to die, but if I do, I hope I have some kind of ridiculous occurrence at my funeral that just makes people bust out laughing.
*Not his real name, but his real surname did start with "R."
Life's a piece of sh!+--from "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", by Monty Python
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I attended a Catholic all-boys high school. My family wasn't Catholic, but our local school system was struggling academically, and I think the guidance counselor at the middle school actually advised my parents that I would be much better off at a different school. I may blog about the reasons for the district's troubles later in my "Children as Political Pawns" series I'm pondering.
Since my high school drew students from all over the region, everyone was a New Kid on the first day of ninth grade. I was very proud of myself for making new friends and sort of fitting in a little bit right out of the gate.
A few weeks into the school year, we had our first all-school pep rally for our homecoming game against The Enemy. My homeroom teacher was also the head football coach. We all marched into the gymnasium, populated the bleachers according to social ranking, as is The Way, and settled in for the show. There were the standard warm up skits by the football players, a little bit of something from the principal, and then... The Speech.
The coach was a short, mild-looking man, but when he turned on, he had a very intense gaze. He started off with a conversational tone in his speech. The team had worked hard in pre-season practice; we have new leadership now that the giants of old have graduated; let's give a round of applause for the junior varsity and freshman teams; etc.
Then his cadence and tone started to get more urgent. He started EMPHASIZING certain WORDS for EFFECT. His pauses... became more... deliberate. And SometimesHeRanTheWordsTogetherToCreateExcitement. Eight or ten minutes into the speech, he had the audience primed. When he shouted something like, "Let's get out there and beat The Enemy!" everyone in the bleachers leaped up and started cheering, including yours truly.
Two seconds later, I thought to myself, "I don't give a flaming rat's @ss about football. Why the heck am I standing up, waving my arms about, and shouting? [pause] That son of a... He MANIPULATED me!" I thought about that for the rest of the day, and I vowed never again to let someone control my emotions and actions to that extent.
"Mr. Horse, do like these political rallies?"
"No sir, I don't like it."
Monday, February 18, 2008
When I was a lad, our family attended a local United Methodist church. I no longer subscribe to that theology. Most Sundays, one or both of my parents would pack us kids up and take us to Sunday school. I don't believe either of them actually attended the adult Sunday school part, so I don't know what they did until the actual service. Maybe it involved coffee or something.
The Sunday school setup was that there was a preschool class, individual K-6 grade classes, a middle school class for 7-8 grade, and a high school class. Because of historical and geographical eccentricities, my church classmates were not my school classmates. Ours was, as far as I knew, the only family from my school district to attend this church. I think this was a big contributing factor to my nearly lifelong feeling of not quite fitting in with the crowd. (Boo hoo. Cry me a river, you big baby.)
Each school year, there was a different Sunday school instructor. In my sophomore or junior year, the instructor was an older man, maybe in his late 60s/early 70s. I really commend him for having the chutzpah to sit in with teenagers. He was also one of those mild-mannered fellows with a wicked sense of humor that few people could discern.
One day, the lesson was about positive personality attributes. We had an exercise where we split into groups of three or four, and we were to discuss the particular attribute and come up with examples where we had behaved positively and examples where we or others had behaved negatively. I forget what my group was supposed to discuss - probably obedience to our parents or something fairly tame. One group was given the topic of taking initiative. When the instructor called on that group to report on their discussion, they all sort of panicked and looked at each other for several seconds. I thought this was hilarious, and started to laugh. When the rest of the room looked at me in confusion, it got even funnier, and I collapsed on the couch and guffawed. "What's so funny?" the instructor asked me.
"Their topic... ha ha ha ha... was taking... ha ha ha ha... INITIATIVE! Ha ha ha ha ha... And none of them... ha ha ha ha...."
The instructor got it. He broke eye contact with me and grinned. None of the other kids ever quite understood. I think this cemented my reputation for weirdness. Not that there was a dearth of evidence before that.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I was chatting online with a friend the other day, and she mentioned that she was discussing the concept of pareidolia in an academic setting. I replied with a :-). I hope she got the joke, because she had to run off right away.
On a related note, I've successfully taught Son that you can point to a random cloud and say that it looks like any arbitrary thing, and people will try to look for the thing you mentioned.
"Oh look! That cloud looks like Captain Christopher Pike from the Star Trek original series pilot 'The Cage.' And that one over there looks like mitochondrial DNA! Oooo! A fluffy bunny!"
While GPop was out of town, Son and I wanted to make cookies. I'm supposed to keep a sharp eye on my diet, so we made chocolate chip cookies with a couple of substitutions. Find your recipe for such cookies on the back of the chocolate chip bag or a cookbook, and make these changes, which are one unit for one unit.
- Instead of butter or margarine, use unsweetened applesauce.
- Instead of white sugar, use Splenda (or your store brand alternate)
- Instead of brown sugar, use the Splenda brown sugar blend
- Use self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour
Saturday, February 16, 2008
GPop went out of state on a business trip earlier this week. When we had the two snow days this week, I ended up making lunch for us. I made an easy and cheap hot lunch. I'd just like to share for those of you who like to cook on the cheap.
Chicken and Rice Nahrung von Gestern
1 container of white rice left over from last night's Chinese take-out
1 chicken breast cooked on the old George Foreman grill
2 cans of chicken broth
2 stalks of celery
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of black pepper
Chop celery. Chop chicken breast. Dump everything into a pot. Heat. Eat.
If I were making it again, I'd add a chopped onion, and maybe some mushrooms, but Son likes neither, and I wasn't in the mood to argue.
It made about five servings, I think. Leaving it overnight in the fridge makes it more stewey and less soupy.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I don't like to post entries that just link to other sites very often, but everyone needs to see this article. Why is our culture so f~(&ed up that a gay kid gets shot in school? My son will be in eighth grade next year.
We received a bunch of flyers in the mail a while back for Republican candidates for Congress for our district's primary election. Each one tried to out-pander the last. The Democratic candidate who sent out a flyer seemed almost tepid by comparison. Weird.
Plus, I thought of a new word - Iraquagmire. Of course, a Google search returns "about 1800" results. Day late/dollar short.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
EBS Guy grew a beard over the Christmas to New Year time that he took off.
Then he shaved it to a goatee.
After that, he shaved it to a Hulk Hogan style horseshoe mustache.
In a meeting, I suggested that instead of going with a traditional mustache, he shave the mustache part off and leave the little legs along side the mouth. After a discussion with Hoji, we decided that they would look like the muttonchop sideburn style, but would be smaller and more central, so they would be called choplets. We'll see if EBS Guy does this.
UPDATE: Here's a hypothetical picture of him with a mustache and a mohawk, based on the comments.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I just put together the ingredients for a quick and easy tuna casserole. Son helped me mix the noodles, cheese, and sour cream in the mixing bowl. We had it in the casserole dish, and I was about to top it with more cheese when I realized that we hadn't added the tuna.
GPop calls the dish "Tuna Casserole Surprise" for reasons unknown to me. My best guess is that he is surprised when I make dinner. It certainly would have been a surprise if it were lacking tuna.
Remember a few years back when everything was hypoallergenic? It seemed that, as a nation, we experienced a sudden outbreak of hives or something, and we started seeing hypoallergenic shampoo, hypoallergenic soap, hypoallergenic detergent, hypoallergenic kabob, hypoallergenic etouffe...
That was also the period where people learned the acronym HEPA, but I doubt very many people knew what the expanded term meant. Highly Effective Phony Advertising? Helping Extract People's Assets?
GPop and Son both complain of scalp irritation when they use shampoos with strong scents. I use Pert Plus, even though I would probably not meet anyone's definition of "pert." The "plus" part, I have down. Back in the Hypo days, we bought a Johnson & Johnson product that claimed to be hypoallergenic, but when the fad passed the way of the Tamagotchi and the Macarena, the J&J product faded away like those little penciled notes on your circuit breaker box that tell you to flip #7 for the guest room, NO NOT THAT ONE!
For a while now, I've been unable to find very many hypoallergenic shampoos in the supermarket, and I'm a bit loath to shop at the Hippiemart chain stores in order to buy Guatemalan Goat Shampoo or whatever that costs $9.50 an ounce. So, we found a Head & Shoulders variant that seems to fit the bill.
Of course, like most fashions, the pendulum has swung the other way in recent years so that we're left with horrors like the one about which Angry Professor expounds.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The rules for this meme are:
- Link to the person that tagged you.
- Post the rules on your blog.
- Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
- Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
- Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
I've been tagged by Cranky Prof. The chain must not be broken.
OK, so far, I've taken care of 1 and 2.
1. I was once mistaken for a mannequin. How is that possible, you ask, and I reply that it can be done - with practice. In college, a friend and I were at an amusement park, and I lost her as we exited one of the roller coasters. I stopped at the bottom of the off ramp, which went right into the gift shop, and waited patiently for her. A group of college-age people approached me, fingered my college sweatshirt, and asked, "Why would they put a college shirt on one of these?"
When my "I beg your pardon?" escaped my lips, the fellow jumped back about five feet, and his friends laughed. They ran. My friend appeared. We went on with our day.
2. I am allergic to furry and feathered animals. People who don't have allergies are routinely telling me that this or that breed of cat or dog is hypoallergenic. They are mistaken. The only dog or cat that would not trigger sneezing and the desire to pluck out my eyes in order to scratch behind them would be a dog or cat that was encased in Lucite. Since I do enjoy playing with cats and dogs for brief periods, and I would not ever want a dog or cat to be encased in Lucite against its will, I have to drug myself with various levels of antihistamines before such play.
3. In lists like these, I always try to sound naughty by telling people that I once spent the night with the captain of my college's men's gymnastics team. When pressed for details, I then reveal that we had been paired up to work on a computer programming project together, and it took all night in the lab. He was a very nice guy, though. Still is, I would imagine.
4. Although I was raised about a hundred miles from where my parents were born, and about a hundred miles from where I was born, when I went to college, I ended up living within a mile of the place of my birth for over several years.
5. In high school, I recycled a paper that I wrote for two different classes. With only changes to the cover page, I managed an A on the paper for the first class, and a B+ on the paper in the second class.
6. My high school track coach once got on my case about leaving practice early, because I told him that my dad was forcing me to escort two girls to a Bon Jovi concert. I wasn't lying. The experience pretty much formed, solidified, and sealed my dislike for loud concerts. Plus, it was in April, 1987, on the day when we had about a foot of snow dumped on us between 5PM and 10PM, which was exactly the window of time for this concert. I have never in my life seen such idiocy in a parking lot, and I worked in a mall for four Christmas seasons.
OK, that took care of the six
Six random people. Well, I hope these people are more ordered than random, but this list may appear to be random to people who don't have access to my RSS feed list. These are in reverse alphabetical order, just to irritate people who can't take things outside the norm.
- Shay - for the warm Midwestern heart in a cold Midwestern clime.
- PC Strobe - for his support (emotional, career, and technical) over the years.
- Jen - for seeking an understanding of the wackiness that is family.
- Hoji - for his drive to mold himself and the world into a mutually accommodating partnership.
- GirlyWarrior - for her determination to make her life the best it can be.
- Angry Professor - for her kindness over the web and her ability to show us netizens a view of academia as less an ivory tower and more of a human endeavor.
I'm leaving comments as soon as I post this so I can get the permanent link to the page.
UPDATE: I left the comments. Let the sport commence.
p.s. If I ever get hit by another meme, I'll send people to a couple of other places, so if I missed you this time, please don't fret. Plus, Hypnoguy, post more; your a good writor.
Cranky Prof tells us of the words she thought she heard her son singing the other day. The boy is brilliant.
When George Michael was popular the first or second time, he had that song "Father Figure."
I will be your father figure.
Put you tiny hand in mine.
I will be your preacher teacher...
I really thought he was saying, "I will be your Butterfinger." It makes more sense his way.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
When I was 9, I went on a road trip with my grandparents to visit my aunt and uncle in the greater Houston area. It was quite a drive, and I distinctly remember a remark my grandfather made. He had a mid-to-late 70s Oldsmobile 88, and it had cruise control, which he used quite a bit during the long drive.
He would remark that other drivers would pass him, get in front of him, then slow down. He would then pass the other driver, but he was going the same speed, because of the cruise control. A few minutes later, the other driver would pass him. This really wasn't a problem, because we were on the multi-lane interstate, but it bugged him repeatedly.
Fast forward 20 years. Grandpa is 17 years gone.
It's 1999. I have a car with cruise control. We are on the interstate on a road trip. I have the cruise control on. I open my mouth and say, "Why on earth are these other drivers passing me and then slowing down? I have cruise control on, so it's not me."
Echoes across the years.
But, as we hope every generation increases the sum of human knowledge and inquiry, here's my 2008 question on top of that one. Why is it that when I am in the right lane on the highway, and I move into the left lane to pass a slower car, that car speeds up? I often have cruise control on, and I almost never speed, so I end up getting back in behind the other car. I'm comfortable enough in my masculinity not to feel threatened by this, but it bugs me. Repeatedly.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
I missed Foto Phriday last week, so here are two pictures.
This is my wonderful son looking out over a foggy lake at a nature preserve near our home. The weather presented us with a sudden warm, wet spell, so the cold air right above the lake caused some pea soup, London-style fog from shore to shore. There were geese honking in the mist. I think they were lost.
This is a picture of a basket full of credit/debit card receipts near the register at a local Tim Horton's restaurant. When I paid for my coffee and Son's sandwich, the cashier gave me my card receipt with the redacted (XXXXXXXXXXXX1234) number on it, and took the store copy with the full card number and expiration date on it (1234123412341234) and tossed it into the basket. As soon as I got home, I contacted the Tim Horton's corporate office to alert them of this egregious breach of credit card security, and they told me that the district manager would be out to fix the problem within two or three days. That seems like a reasonable response, so kudos to them. The receipts are in that little basket to the right of the straws.
Because of my upcoming 15th anniversary, which is also the 10th anniversary of the day I was laid off from Nearly Defunct Online Company (That day was a mixed bag.), I've been reminiscing.
Many years ago, maybe a year or so before I met GPop, I was hanging out with a group of older gay men who treated me respectfully, despite my naivety. One of the big reasons I enjoyed their company was that they had parties and gatherings where people actually sat and talked rather than the college parties most of my college friends had where people got falling-down drunk and had only hazy recollections the next morning of their misdeeds.
In any case, one of this crowd had his fingers in the underground entertainment industry in the GQTBL(etc.) clubs all around Midwest State, and especially in Capital City. I once tagged along on a run to a small town's main strip to provide entertainment to a bar that was a QTGBL(etc.) bar only on Thursdays. That was interesting.
One day, this guy, whom I will call Steve, because that was his name, asked me if I could help out at the Miss Gay Capital City Pageant, which was an annual female impersonator/drag queen show with a pretty sizable audience. The show was held at one of the venerable clubs in the LBQTG(etc.) block of bars and restaurants. Always one to help out, and always one to accept an offer of free admission, free food, and free drinks, I agreed to do whatever they needed. If you've never seen a drag show, I would recommend a field trip. They're quite the entertainment value.
When I got to the club at the appointed hour, I was given the task of collecting the musical numbers and instructions for the DJ from all of the performers. So here I am, wearing my best clothes, which at the time were Dockers and a shirt and tie, in a club where a bevy of drag queens were getting made up for performances. At the time, I was 21 1, 6'3", ~190 lbs, and a bit uncomfortable in my own body. If you've never met a drag queen, here are a couple of examples in real life and in film.
I got that out of the way, then Steve ran up. "The spotlight operator called in sick. I need you to get up on the DJ platform and operate the spot. Ask the DJ about it."
In for a penny; in for a pound.
So I ended up learning how to work a spotlight that night. The DJ's instructions were something like, "This is how you turn it on. I'm busy now." Unfortunately, the spotlight stand was falling apart, so I had to operate the light with one hand while I kept the other wrapped tightly around a joint in the stand so it wouldn't collapse. As I recall, I did a pretty fair job, all things considered.
One of the performers lip-synced to a song that was really weird and compelling. After the performance, I asked what the song was. She told me something that I've since forgotten, but she also said it was on the "purple and yellow" album by Grace Slick. I've looked for such an album occasionally for years to no avail. However, while writing this, I remembered that the song had something about a circus, so I Googled "grace slick lyrics circus" and found that the song is Dreams, on the album of the same name. When I visited this page, there was a video of another drag queen performing the same number, so I think that was it. Amazon has some used copies of this CD for $149+, so it may not be in my near future.
Anyway, it was a fun time, but I never did get my free food or drinks.
A while back, I gave a presentation in front of about 150 of my peers. I was the first of four speakers in that section of the day's program, and I knew that the dense nature of the material had a big chance of losing the audience. In order to keep people awake and engaged through my 15 minutes, I announced at the beginning that I would be randomly selecting an audience member at the end of my speech to report out on how many times I said, "Um."
When I finished up, the person I chose was someone I knew had a voice that could carry, and who would be willing to play along. He told me that I'd ummed only twice.
The speakers who followed me were very self-conscious about saying, "Um." I completely threw off their presentations. That made me laugh.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I'm not sure if this is a regional dialect thing, or if it's pretty common around the English speaking world. Sometimes when bad things happen, people describe the situation in a way that makes it sound as if the victim intended for the accident to happen.
"He had his leg broken last year."
"That school district had a teacher killed last year."
"He had his car stolen last week."
I suppose that the instruction we get regarding the passive voice (it's always bad) in our intermediate education may lead us away from statements like, "His leg was broken last year," but this replacement is just a bit confusing.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
I was reading about something or other on the Intarwebs, and I came across this lovely gem of a human being. I recall this nitwit from the national GLQTB(etc.) news rags so many years ago.
For the link-impaired, here's the text from a site called Our Campaigns (http://www.ourcampaigns.com). The man described is Billy Inmon, a former general manager of the Ohio State Fair.
Inmon refused to allow the Stonewall Union to participate in the Ohio State Fair charging the organizaiton with "dissemination of material harmful to minors." The group was allowed to participate in the fair and had a booth. Governor Voinovich fired Inmon as general manager.
Inmon decided to run as an Independent Candidate for Governor against Voinovich.
During August of the 1994 campaign, Inmon collapsed and had to be hospitalized after a 27-day hunger strike outside the Capitol in Columbus. He was trying to get incumbent George Voinovich to debate him, but Voinovich never did.
Nine days earlier on the 18th day of his hunger strike, a man protesting Inmon's anti-gay policies urinated on Inmon's tent, provoking Inmon to point a gun at him.
Yes, that was intentional.
An analyst on my team just showed me a document from a project on which she's working. We brought in an outside firm to help us develop a new method for approaching requirements gathering and documentation, so we're learning some new things. One of the things that we've done in the past, but not incredibly effectively, is creating customer personas (The documents say "personas," but my spell checker tells me I should use "personae.") that represent certain customer segments. In a hypothetical example, a bank may create a persona of "Randy," who is a 24-year old recent college graduate making $32,000/year, living in an apartment in the city, and who is driving a beat up car that he may replace within a year. "Sally" may be a 40-year old married woman with two children who makes $60,000/year, and who has concerns about having to take care of her aging parents.
Our customers are actually small businesses, so we had companies like the fictional law firm of Dewey, Cheetham and Howe, a company called Flora's Flowers, and a company called ABC Widgets. Unfortunately, but hilariously, the contractor who wrote up the document was introduced to American English later in life, and he made the last company's name "ABC Midgets."
Anything else I say here will likely get me in some sort of trouble.
Son told me that you had approached him about a cell phone today. I just wanted to reassure you that Son does not now, nor will ever in middle school, have a cell phone. It's only a little stretch into metaphor for me to claim that they are the devil's own invention, and no child of mine will be eligible to have one until at least driving age. Any parent that sends one with their child to middle school without some emergency purpose is... well, how about if I stop editorializing now. :-)
Anyway, if he is disrupting class by making noise, please keep him in line, but you can rest assured that he isn't packing a cell phone.
Firstly let me say that I love your sense of humor. I laughed out loud when I read your message. That aside, I totally agree with your point of view. I see absolutely no reason why any middle school student needs to carry a cell phone on them at all times and my own child will probably hate me when she is in middle school for this very reason. However, I really did not suspect Son of having a phone. I heard electronically produced music like a ring tone of a phone or a hand-held video game coming from the area of the room where Son sits. I asked everyone in the class where it came from and no one spoke up. I overheard some students talking about Son possibly having a video game as they were leaving the room so I approached him in the hallway about it. He told me that he was making noise with his mouth but that he had nothing electronic in class. I believe Son and if this is the case then he has a bright future in sound effects!
Thank you for contacting me and following through with Son.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I had lunch with a woman from work the other day. She and I have worked on a couple of projects together over the past couple of years, and we try to keep in touch.
Since I'm part of the club now, we were talking about raising families. She's about 10 years older than me, and she started her family very young. If I'm doing my math correctly (let's see... carry the 1, divided by the square root of n...) she was about 19 when she had her first child. She looks very young, too. If I were worse at math, I'd have guessed her to be just a couple years older than me, say holding 40 in one hand or the other.
It was a nice conversation about how she and her husband decided to move away from a much squarer state and smaller town than ours when he was injured about 20 years ago. They picked up their family, moved here, both got college educations, and got good jobs. I told her that I really admired her for doing that, and she responded, "You can say that, but we really had no choice. He couldn't work at the time, and the place where we lived had no jobs and no real hope."
I still admire her.
When we came back to the office and parted ways, she told me that she was starting to feel really old, because her older son was turning 30 next year. I made the appropriate noise of, "Time flies," or something, and we waved and went back to our desks.
Although I knew this at the time of our conversation, it really hit me about an hour later that her little baby works on my floor, is well thought of in his tech support job, and has been at Mega Corporation One for several years. In fact, I had lunch with Mandy and him a couple of weeks ago.
It seems odd to me to have a peer relationship with both a parent and a child at work. It's sort of the counterpoint to the first time a younger person, in all sincerity, called me "Sir."
Monday, February 4, 2008
I saw my regular doctor today. She advised me that she disagreed with Doctor Bane's medical excuses for refusing to fill out my homestudy renewal medical exam form. She did tell me that her religious beliefs were closer on the spectrum to Doctor Bane's than to mine, but she wouldn't let that interfere with her medical care of me. I'm a bit ambivalent about that, but I need some time to reflect on it.
In any case, she filled out my form, renewed a couple of prescriptions, and sent me on my way. Life is generally good.
I'm now sitting in a car dealership waiting room to await an oil change and routine maintenance. Wi-Fi is wonderful.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
I have a number of friends and acquaintances whom I hold very dear, and whom I trust implicitly. Some of them have expressed over the years lack of interest in the idea of opposing increased governmental scrutiny into our lives, because the government's role in "fighting terror" requires desperate measures or something. Usually, it's expressed in the form of "If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you don't have anything to worry about." I'm not on board that particular mobile musical stage, but the War on "Terra-ism" isn't the topic today, but we'll circle back around.
One of the huge tragedies in the BGLQT(etc.) community is that of increased risk of suicide among GBTQL(etc.) youth. The heteronormative environment that we live in generally minimizes or eliminates any discussion of LGBTQ(etc.) issues, especially in schools. "Let's protect the children from the filthy queers!" seems to be the underlying message, although it's more recently couched in terms like, "Blah blah Traditional Marriage," or "Yada yada Family Values." Teens who are trying to work out why they have attractions to other students of the same gender don't have much in the way of resources to help them work through the issues, except for possibly some of the "pray the gay away" nonsense. The dearth of adult role models and support is cited as a contributing factor to the desperation these children experience.
In Tennessee, within the past couple of days, a state legislator (Jerky McAssface, sorry - "Representative" Jerky McAssface) introduced a bill, that if passed, would prohibit K-8 schools from making or distributing "any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality." I'm not sure how much traction this bill actually has, but the implications seem pretty far-reaching. Current events discussions would have to be curtailed. Students with same-sex parents may not be allowed to discuss their families as part of any assignment. Historical accuracy be damned, we're going to bowdlerize Oscar Wilde, the native Americans, and WWII. This would be of the "if we don't talk about it, it didn't happen" school of thought.
I just read a report from the ACLU that a school in Florida (state motto runner-up: "Wild and KKKrazy Guys!") has determined that any support for LTQGB(etc.) rights would "likely be disruptive," and that students who express their support in the form of rainbow flag stickers on their notebooks, or even writing "I support my gay friends" on their notebooks would be punished for belonging to a "secret/illegal organization."
If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about. So showing solidarity with students who daily experience bigotry and hate directed at them is now something wrong, and I should stop doing it. That way, I won't have anything to worry about.
One of Son's recent writing assignments said that a good essay should "leave the reader with something to think about." That sounds good.
GPop, Son, and I are a family. In the state where we live, GPop and I can't get married. There are still efforts to make it difficult or impossible for people like us to grow our family. We have to use feeble and expensive legal acrobatics to create a semblance of protection that opposite-sex married couples get simply by virtue of getting married. Sure, we can get medical power of attorney or some kind of co-parenting agreement, but does that require us to carry those papers with us at all times in case we're confronted by an unsympathetic doctor or official? Even if we have those papers, an unsympathetic official could put up road blocks until our day in court. Even with a full suite of legal paperwork, we have additional financial burdens in the areas of inheritance and parenting that most people never see.
When the government tells me that it's going to start spending more time sifting through information to find possible threats, and I know that some in the government see me as a threat, can I sit quietly and let this happen? I suppose some could write this off as a "gay victim" rant. Maybe some could comfortably say that it could never get that bad, or that our government has never done anything to tread on our rights that wasn't justified.
Yeah, I suppose they're right. I should just keep my mouth shut, right?
Saturday, February 2, 2008
The other night, we were watching something semi-educational on the teevee. Son has been grounded (lite version) for a little while for a peccadillo, so it's been Discovery Channel, TLC, the History Channel, and the Science Channel for several days.
The program we were watching was talking about something or another, and they mentioned an Elizabethan era writer.
Teevee: ...English author Richard Head...
GDad: Heh. Heh heh.
GPop: Huh huh huh.
Son: What are you laughing at?
G&G: Heh heh. The guy's name.
Son: What do you mean?
GDad: The guy's name was Richard Head.
GPop: What's a shorter name for Richard?
GDad: Try again. Starts with a "D."
GPop: Yes, so...
Son: Ooohhhhhhh! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Friday, February 1, 2008
Neighbors Rusty and Kath are in sunny Las Vegas, and we've agreed to doggysit Rex. This involves only keeping him fed, letting him out in the morning, afternoon, and evening, and spending some time playing with him in the afternoons. Their trip was Tuesday afternoon through Saturday afternoon, so we're more than halfway through.
Rex wins the stupid, obnoxious dog award for Precinct 4, Small Town, Midwest State, in first quarter, 2008. Regional competitions begin next week.
He doesn't respond to any voice commands, or even to his name, even from Rusty and Kath. Rusty and Kath had to sequester him when Kath's parents were visiting, because he got a bit aggressive and nippy. When anyone lets him outside to do his business, he stands outside the door, whines, and jumps up at the doorknob for several minutes. Then, when he's done, and the human opens the door again, he runs away and doesn't want to come back in.
When I went to give him a treat, he jumped up at me. I told him, firmly but calmly, "No!" He ran and hid under a chair and glared at me. I put the treat down near me, but he wouldn't take it until I put it closer to him than to me.
Now, before anyone starts to feel sorry for him, Rusty and Kath got him as a puppy at a reputable puppy place, and they've treated him just as well as they've treated any other dog they've had, which is well, but not ridiculously so. Also, before anyone assumes that dogs just don't like me, you'll have to take my word for it that most dogs take to me quite well, especially since many dogs think I have the power to summon magic red dots from the little rod I keep in my coat pocket. In fact, even though we don't have dogs, GPop and I have kept dog treats by our back door to give to neighborhood dogs when they come over to play or to roll in something aromatic.
I may end up nominating him to be on the Dog Whisperer. Thank goodness they'll be back soon. I think Rusty has about had it. I wouldn't be surprised if Rex ended up going to boarding school soon.
Of course, maybe he's just behaving strangely to warn us about something we don't perceive. Hate to break it to you, Rex. We already know you're a jerk.