The 2004 Daybook

    It's been a wild ride here at the R.A.T. Nest, and I managed to substitute a Rant for writing a Daybook entry two weeks ago so I hope you can forgive me. We don't have any New Years plans yet so please stop asking – or wait a couple days and we'll tell you what we did since we have no idea what it will be yet. No resolutions here either except "to get a gawddamn job already." I love the holidays because life gets so bizarre. Some great examples spring to mind...
  • Every year I bitch and moan, publicly or privately, about how my own sainted family resorts to buying page-a-day calendars, sweaters at Kraff's and toys suitable for a precocious 13 year old from the impulse gift table at Shopko for me and mine. This year they did something different: we got a wooden box of Mikasa ornaments, two packages of chicken-bean soup mix, a bag of cinnamon almonds, and cash from them, and I am both surprised and grateful. (No sarcasm here, Mom & Dad. An actual thank-you card is coming in the mail.) I almost got to try that delicacy known as fried turkey, but had to bolt before the food hit the table. I did get to meet my neices, two of three I'd never been in the same room with before, and chat with my two brothers over the recent remake of Day Of The Jackal starring Bruce Willis – now that is holiday fare! Sis, we still have yet to link up so I can give you an Atari.
  • Automotively things are amusing. We'd been offered this Mustang by a sister-in-law and declined it in favor of a 1995 Saturn. In the span of a week, the Mustang not only pooped out, but when it was revived days later a tire blew on the highway. My bride is bringing home from Yakima the Saturn right now, which seems to be mostly intact (someone's insurance company must have thought cashing the car out after a rear-ender was more cost-effective than fixing it) and I realized earlier today I don't want to know why it was repainted from red to "grey" (it's more the color of a black 1980 Mustang after twenty years of direct sun and no wax jobs IMHO). So we both have vehicles again and only have to go to one dealership to get maintenance.
  • My neice is having a holly jolly holiday, and not just because she was driving that Mustang when it died (right before going to her job as a pizza delivery person!!) and when the tire blew. She owns a couple rental properties, and at 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve the Yakima Police Department's SWAT team burst through the front door of one of them. I don't know the details of why, all I am sure of is that someone was carted out in a straitjacket, so we'll just leave the scene to your imagination. Anyhow, she didn't find out about this event until 7 p.m. that day, when the residents of her other rental ordered a pizza and told her what happened when she arrived. Happily someone boarded up the doorway in the interim.
  • I visited my high school sweetheart while I was in town, and we sat in the parkinglot of the Safeway supermarket for hours so I could see if anyone I knew was going shopping. It was odd: NO ONE I recognised needed milk and Triscuits that night. This is where she told me something hilarious, which I don't know if it's 100% true but the thought alone is worth the grin. The police force of the town I grew up in employed a cop who I liked (he coached the Little League baseball team I was in at age 10) but is believed to be crooked. [I couldn't say. One of his coworkers absolutely was.] But he was nowhere near as crooked as his wife, Joyce, who was keeping the money from the concessions stand the local swim team ran, among other crimes and misdemenors. Anyhow. That couple had a son (who I won't talk bad about) and two highly sexy daughters. The news I was given was that Joyce was allegedly boning high schoolers, and names were named. The story goes that one of the daughters would bring home boyfriends and her mom would 'take over'. I have trouble believing the tale because she's definitely not a MILF; she may have big hoots but she also has a big mouth and everyone is aware of that fact. But so do horny high school boys, right? It's a small town and you reap what you sow, and at the very least a few guys lost 4 points on their Purity Tests though in this case it's one of those things you brag you did but carefully steer clear of saying with whom. Again, I have to emphasise the word allegedly.
  • I've got a spyware infection and I can't find a cure. I know, major computer geek who has dedicated part of his life to helping others with their computer issues is jousting a losing battle with VX2 and CoolWWW. Yes, I've got the latest Ad-Aware, the latest defs for it, Spybot, the latest defs for it, CW Shredder (which claims to remove CoolWWW but it's still there), and a². I wound up activating McAfee Firewall so crap couldn't get in or out as easily, which merely treats the symptoms of the disease rather than cures it, but things are tolerable again. What caused the problem? I'm guessing the Firefox browser, which otherwise is a great product but has the same security holes as its older sibling Netscape. I'm back to Opera, thank you.
    Hope everyone has/had a decent Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Winter Solstace, or whatever... and to all a peaceful new year. --#2

    First, props to my homie: Spc. Thomas Wilson gets a big thumbs-up for asking questions the American media lacks the balls to pitch and regular journalists aren't allowed to ask. (Seriously. Imbedded reporters were not allowed to ask questions at Rumsfeld's Kuwait pep-talk.) And a tip of the hat to Sgt. Frank Ford for telling his supervisors about torture he'd witnesed while in Iraq, then being given a trip out of there for "being delusional". What's so wrong with the truth except that it doesn't agree with the president's agenda?
    So the other day I was at the international market down the street, which also serves as a sort of food liquidation outlet (who knew that surplus or expired chow would be dumped on the best-fed nation in the world, instead of someplace that could use cheap food?), and came across something that sounded good: Bissli Snacks, Smokey Flavor. It's made in Tel Aviv, Israel by Osem Food Industries ("if it's Osem, it's awesome!" should be their slogan if it already isn't) and the goodies in question are these tasty fried wheat flour rings (ingredients include palm oil, MSG, disodium guanylate and inosinate, salt, yeast, natural smoke flavor, dehydrated onion, and spices) which are listed both as "cholesterol free" and "kosher/parve [approved by] Rabbi Jacob Moshe Charlap". The first thing this goy noticed was the "protect from sun" notice in yellow and red on the back. The second thing was about the product itself: the taste and greasiness most resembles – are you ready for this? – bacon! It's darn yummy stuff for the folks who can't have eat of the cloven hoof... kosher pseudo-pork puffs! For some reason that reminds me of the time back in college when the ever-unique Andrea turned down my offer of artificial bacon-flavored Safeway brand crackers because she was trying to renounce Catholicism to become Jewish. (She later married a Palestinian student; funny how that worked out.)
    For the third year in a row and the fourth time total, my spouse and I were invited to fill the display cabinet at the Parkland/Spanaway branch of the Pierce County Library with our Christmas decorations. Last year we used her M&M's holiday stuff, and the year before and two years prior we used our collected antique ornaments. This time we've put some light strings in there, to show off the C-6's and C-7's, bubble-lights and regular bulbs, push-in and screw-in lights and the assorted clutter like bases and unique bulbs, with a special section devoted to LEDs since they are the wave of the future. None of them are lit because there's no outlet nearby but that's fine, they last longer if they're just looked at. And as usual, contributing a crate of stuff to a display hardly puts a dent in the amount of materials we have available for our own tree (which we're going to erect today). --#2

    Last week I walked into the restroom at the Fred Meyers on 72nd & Pacific because I'd left the house without 'going' first, a healthy number two, and I was shocked by the state of the john. People always make fun of Texaco restrooms – what few are left since they've all been rebranded as Shell stations – but this can really took the cake. Most of the department stores I've been in lately pride themselves on how clean and kept-up they are... this wasn't one of them, and while there was a sign on the mirror saying "employees must wash their hands before returning to work" there wasn't one saying that if things weren't to your liking please alert the manager. (I'm sure the manager did his business upstairs, where there are reprecussions for a mess.) There are four stalls, with the last one being the larger one designated for wheelchair users. I step into #3, and it's obvious the thing doesn't flush. I step into #2, same deal. #1 looks manageable. So I grab one of those paper seat shield things (an "ass-gasket") and lay it down carefully, and seated myself for my duty. Not much remarkable to say here except I have to lay off the Laura Scudder brand party mix, it's delicious as hell but it binds me up so. The walls are stainless steel plated, so I'm sure cleanup of black marker was a breeze... as if anyone ever cleaned up this room. I already knew the answer to that question. I looked around the walls because I love reading stall graffiti, and this one was rather patriotic yet cruisy: In three places someone has written "Behead insurgencies!" ('nip that in the bud, Andy'? I think he meant "insurgents" but there's no accounting for the knowledge level of wall-scrawlers), and in a couple places someone has offered their oral copulation skills on the free market sight unforseen (one with a schedule nearby with dates and times of availability). I chuckled as I read what followed one of those come-in-my-mouth come-ons: "where the hell were you?" Another customer lost to the shop not being open during the posted hours. Eventually I completed my task, and no task is complete until the paperwork is done, and silly me I failed to notice this stall was absent of the magic scroll. Someone else has entered the restroom and taken the handicap stall, so I don't feel comfortable wandering next door with my drawers around my knees in quest of a roll. I sit and ponder my situation for a moment, which is what one normally does while seated on the throne anyhow. The guy in #4 had been sitting on the air hose at the gas station and got his quarter's worth, from the sound of things; my co-editor back in the college newspaper days would have quoted Twain and claimed there was a series of "most rock-shattering blasts." I had to take action before being subjected to another congested trumpet concerto, he was drowning out the indistinguishable Muzak song. At my right hand are a stack of paper cowboy hats, er, gaskets with their middle portions hanging out, and as we all know that's the unused part of the device so I tore one off and tried to make do with it. Those things are a relative of cooking parchment, perhaps you've noticed; more absorbant than waxed paper or the toy section of the Sears catalog, but no comparison to Charmin or tree bark. It took me seven centers to get to a happy state (but how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?), so with that feat accomplished I washed my hands thoroughly – as you can imagine, the soap was untouched – and they had a blower on the wall in case that guy couldn't make it, and then I escaped from the loo. My bride was waiting for me with that look people give you when you've been in the bathroom too long and asked, as people often do, whether I'd fallen in. My response was something to the effect of, "Almost."
    I actually do have a serious news item to report, as though the last entry wasn't enough. (Yes, I'm fine and we got the settlement check for five times the Blue Book amount promptly. Not enough for a new car, but we've decided to wait until we get our tax return back in about three months to go car shopping... I'm not going anywhere presently, still.) A couple weekends ago I was at Spanaway Lakes High School for the annual craft bazaar; I live in that school district and the school is just a few miles away. The breaking news of last night was that three students – an eighteen year old girl, an eighteen year old boy, and a sixteen year old boy – had been making plans to stage another Columbine, and they claimed their intended shooting spree was going to be done as proof that this country's Homeland Security Department isn't doing its job. (Gee, one could say they're too nosy as it is, mostly doing stuff that isn't their job like copyright enforcement, but that's another matter.) Betcha they're learning how well the Homeland folks handle terrorist threats, which is their specialty. The girl is in the ROTC and is built like a brick wall, so she should be used to a little teasing and be able to stomp anyone who bothers her into the dirt... and I betcha she'll be the alpha dog in prison, after a breaking-in period. The boys are destined to be someone's bitch, though it has yet to be decided if the younger one will stand trial as an adult. Here is what I don't understand about the matter (blame me for a little logic here): The 18 year olds are seniors, they claimed they got tired of being teased, and they had no supplies yet but intended to take their actions in two years (when your average youth would have a life and be busy with college or living the American dream or, in their case, their military careers)... gee, it's school and that's what kids do, and it sounds like their torments would be ending in six months when they graduate. (Then the Real World will be making fun of them. Like now.) The person who uncovered the plot was one of the boys' parents, and I'm glad that parent had the sense, unlike some parents in stories like this, to not say "oh, he didn't mean any harm, he'd never shown any signs of being troubled so we ignored the things he said/wrote/did." Humble reader, I haven't started questioning how safe my neighborhood is, like bystanders always do on the nightly news when stories like this come out. But like most people, it makes me sad that blatent stupidity and glaring malevolence can be found in my own back yard. --#2

    Sometimes the Daybook writes itself. I was coming home from doing some Christmas shopping, and about five blocks away from home a large pickup stopped in front of me... wham! My bride's 1995 Geo Metro tincan is totalled; the pickup's bumper went directly into the engine compartment. As for yours truly, the airbag did its job so I am still intact (I have a chemical burn on my left wrist) and I'm sure I'll be stiff in places in the near future. The car has a Blue Book value of about $200, so insurance likely isn't going to pay for anything more than the $150 ticket I got. And just when I was about to have a couple minor infractions fall off of my record, too; it'll be a wonder if I even have a driver's license when all is said and done. I feel silly about having put three gallons of gasoline in the car twenty minutes earlier, as well as having bought some vintage ornaments a few minutes before which are now in shards (there were 9 in the box and 3 survived, one of which was what I bought the box to get). It's bad enough that I'm depressed about being unemployed and my agency isn't returning my calls – whatever that means – but then this happens. Yes, I'm happy that I have my health. But there's so much more that I do not have or have lost that also matter. I got a call the other day from Big Mega-Corporation about a job in email support for a major ISP, we set up a tentative interview time without the interviewer's input (they were going to forward my updated resume to that person), and they were to get back to me about the details... and didn't. I feel pretty baited and switched, and soon I'll feel sore all over too and have a more plausible excuse not to get out of bed.
    Story time... I had a perspective moment a few years ago which bears sharing, if I can find the words. I went to the local bowling alley to do something, and it was a league day so there were dozens of people there. It took me a minute before I realized there was something different about the room, but I couldn't quite pinpoint it. It was what I was not hearing. It's a bowling alley in action, there are three to five people per lane in use, and yet the only sound was of the balls rolling and the pins falling. I looked around at the people, wondering why there was not the din of people shouting over the bowling noises as I'm used to, and that's when I saw their conversations were all in ASL. I walked over to this table with shirts for sale, and a sign on it said that the procedes went to fund the deaf bowling league. That answered that. I tried to seem polite and nonchalent as I further absorbed the room, how a place so full of people doing an activity that is usually so loud could be so... silent. For me as a hearing person, this was like that image sometimes seen in movies – being in a crowded street where people pass by and yet there's no talk, the person is just a spectator in a world he is not a part of. I envied the people for a moment for challenging my senses and enjoying an activity I take for granted in a completely different manner. I sorted through the shirts, which came in plenty of bright colors and had popular character images on them, and settled upon a blue one with two [unlicensed] M&M spokescandies on the front, both giving the thumb-and-pinky up and three-central-fingers down sign for "I love you" with both hands, in my wife's size. I made my purchase with a minimum of words, and I'd ascertained that the older woman at the cashbox was hearing impaired so was able to relay that I liked her shirts and would take this one, and I used the one bit of sign language she taught me from the transaction: the touch of my right hand's fingertips to my chin then moving them directly outward to say "thank you." --#2

    Okay, I've held my tongue long enough: My country has lost its fucking mind. I'm going to write that Rant I've been waiting on, then hide under something for the next 48 months. I hear Vancouver is good at this time of century, too bad I lack the wherewithall to hang out there until sanity returns to the land of the free. A real Daybook entry coming as soon as I can stop seeing red. No matter what conspiracy theories sprout up in the next month, the fact is still people are incredibly stupid and this time they did it to themselves. --#2

    I've spent most of the last two weeks playing fan-made Wolfenstein 3D scenarios, and it might be tomorrow that my employment fortune changes but nothing much has happened since last post in that arena. One good thing to say, I did finally get paid by the elephant ear folks from the Fair – it seems they lost all record that I'd worked there (and the guy said to have fired me knew zilch about the matter, according to his wife who does payroll), thus there was no paycheck to issue, but we got stuff straightened out last week. I was impressed that she said she'd gladly have me back and told me how to go right to the top next year, but as I've said before I've had my fill of the Fair. In other news, it's only a week until Voting Day, then it'll be quiet again. Friends don't let friends vote Republican in this presidential election. So tired of the mudslinging in several of the important races in this state as well as at the national level. I know, I didn't write a Rant for October, but as I've told you kind readers before I don't want every one I write to be of a political nature – and at the present time, that's all I have to rant about... for instance, how two people can watch the same televised debate and come up with completely contrary results, and moreover how immediately after the program some of the things one side's supporters (you guess which) claim happened or were said simply didn't/weren't. Is 45% of this nation delusional AND oblivious to the last four years? Okay, now you see what I mean, it's easy for me to go off on the matter and I'd prefer not to even start. Shifting gears, a shout out to Gundega of Madison, Wisconsin for dropping me an email asking where one can find Krówka milk caramels in the USA... I honestly don't know, I get mine mailed to me from Budapest. [*hugs* *kisses* thanks Gabriella!] I did a Google search for "buy Krówka candy" and found a couple international import businesses in Poland who don't list the States in their marketing areas, a news article from Warsaw saying that Krówka ice-cream is popular in the summer, and two references to previous Daybook entries. I see how you found my site, Gudega. Man, we are SO missing out on a good thing here! The November Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul update is up now, go see it!
    When I was in college, I was typing papers for a Swinomish Indian man by the name of Emil. Writing papers for him, to be more accurate, but my education wasn't of use to me so it had to be applied somewhere, and while my efforts put him through college his payments for my efforts put me through college... it was symbiotic. He had formerly been married to a woman named Elizabeth who was now his closest friend and accountant, and she was passing gradually from cancer. Around the time he was going to graduate from college, he took me to his exwife's house to get his checkbook and, walking to the closet, he pulled out a box and said that this was for me, out of gratitude from them both for all the work done and respect given. I was stunned... it was a Pendleton blanket (to be precise: a Beaver State branded Pendleton shawl, 68"x68" in a pattern akin to the Chief Joseph model seen on that page but with purple as the main color). Following the foolish protocol we white people have been taught known as "politeness", I tried to decline the gift, but he told me that to refuse a gift is an insult to the giver. He then went on to tell me a little about the blanket and what their giving it to me meant, and explained that by tradition when someone in his culture dies all their possessions are destroyed rather than given away. They were trying to give the blanket a good home while Elizabeth was alive to give it to me, rather than give it to the funeral pyre later. I accepted the blanket graciously, having gotten that little formality out of the way, and it is one of my most cherished possessions (which I really should take better care of!). Immediately after Emil walked down the aisle to get his degree and accept five scholastic awards, due in part to my help, he had to leave to be with Elizabeth, who did not survive for much longer after graduation day. She'd been waiting for him to complete his education, and once he'd reached that goal her own journey was complete. I've never seen such quiet determination from a woman as I had in her. I've never seen quite the poise and dignity in a man as I had in him. Thanks to you both for having me in your lives, I learned a great deal that I cannot speak. --#2

    Hiya, I was waiting for some stuff to gel before I wrote, and as sometimes happens it flopped so I'm left with a casserole dish of too-sweet Kool-Aid in my fridge. A week ago Monday I started work at a Seattle broadband ISP through the temp agency I was dissing on last episode (even if I did find them through an unsolicited email, they've done more for me lately than anyone I've contacted myself), and it was pretty much my dream job, which is to say I'd applied there first thing when I got the boot from the ISP job I'd had for three years. I'm going through the company directory, and not only is the dickweed that got me canned from the longtime job working there (I may have been in the wrong to say shit back then, Paris, but your wife is going to leave you for another man or woman, mark my words) but so is the slacker who did the canning (you're still a fucknut, Nick, and I pity you). I thought that was amusing, and decided to leave the past in the past. At 2pm on Wednesday I said hello to my former boss, since my desk was going to be about ten feet away from his. At 4pm I met with my manager to discuss scheduling, and his desk is on one side of the HR office while the room we talked in was on the other side of the HR office. I got on a bus at 4:35pm and looked forward to the trip home. The Caller ID on my phone says that at 4:47pm, my agency called the house to say "don't go to work tomorrow." The ISP must have called the agency when they saw me cross the street, despite my being right outside their door when they made this decision. It's anyone's guess why a company – the managers, supervisors, and overworked employees – that screams about how it needs people and needed them two weeks ago gave me, and half the group I was training with, the boot. Left hand (the business) doesn't know what the right hand (HR) is doing, apparently. But it's not my issue anymore. Better things are on the way. I can feel it.
    I never had a treehouse as a kid. I don't mind this much because we didn't have any trees that were really suitable for such a structure, I climbed trees a lot so I had branches I would spend hours on instead, and I had other places I could call my 'fort' courtesy of others (the crater in Eric Hatfield's field nearby, the cobbled-together buildings in Jay Brimmer's back yard on the alley, the trough between the two layers of folliage at the edge of the McGuinness' back yard a block away). I always wanted one but never really felt deprived because as a kid I was allowed to be a kid and enjoyed similar accomidations. That's a gripe of mine, how parents today look back on how happy their childhoods were and refuse to let their kids have as much fun. Yeah, I know, it's a crazier world, we live in paranoia that someone will hurt our kids because there seem to be more people out there who have that in mind. But still, that's the exception, not the rule. I've talked to people around my age, and we recall that when we were 7-15 years old we'd leave the house at 10am alone, maybe come back for lunch, get home right before dinner, and not be asked any questions about where we were or what we'd done or (the big question nowadays) who we were with and whether there was adult supervision. We played doctor with kids of the opposite gender. We pulled the grates off of storm drains on the street, climbed down three to six feet, and gathered frogs. We didn't wear sunscreen. We burned ants and dried leaves with a magnifying glass on sunny days, and I even burned moles off my arms that way (I have two big round scars on the crook of my left arm, one medium-sized scar near the crook of my right arm, and a small scar on my left wrist under my watchband). We threw dirt clods, we broke bottles, we played with matches in cleared-out spots in the dirt (we weren't stupid) and kept plenty of dirt onhand in case we had to smother something. We played with plastic guns which didn't come in garish colors, we played Army and we played with little green army men, and we'd even occasionally use firecrackers (or in Jay's case, hypodermic syringes full of gasoline and a lit match to simulate a green-army-man-sized flamethrower) when doing so, and there was never a concern whether we were harboring violent tendancies. We went trick-or-treating to every neighbor for three blocks wearing those gimpy Ben Davis boxed costumes (with the vinyl skirt and plastic mask), whether we knew those folks or not, and not once did anyone ever come home with an LSD-laced temporary tattoo or a caramel apple containing a razor blade. We got dropped off at the public swimming pool every day of the summer and relied exclusively on the teenage lifeguards to keep us safe... AND we walked home on city streets in bare feet. Our mothers would leave us (after age 7) in the car with the windows partially down while they went into the post office or the supermarket for two to twenty minutes. And you know what? Contrary to popular belief, we didn't die horribly; we grew up to be well-adjusted people who look back on our childhoods fondly, remember when used our imaginations to get our toys to move and our voices to make them sing because they didn't do either on their own, laugh at the lessons we learned on our own terms, and fear that our kids will enjoy their childhoods the same way we did. It's obvious by my attitude I don't have any spawn of my own, people tell me. Maybe so, but I'd want any kid of mine to learn about the world around them for him- or herself, not be dictated its meanings to or live in fear of every possible element of it. And I'd want my kid to have a treehouse, or at least a 'fort' and a nice broad willow to climb.
    A word to the Christmas kitchy among us: Go to your local drugstore (Walgreens, Rite-Aid, etc.) or mass marketer (Target, Walmart, Kmart, etc.) and look at the Halloween lights. It's a rediculous concept, though not as rediculous as Easter lights (though I do adore the pastel-painted tiny bulbs and egg-sized C-7 lights), but look closely and you will see orange, green, and deep purple strings of lights which you really should invest in for Christmas. First, those colors aren't found in your average string of Christmas lights, and the purples are more subtle. ('Purple' Christmas lights tend to be too bright and of a lighter shade, approaching bright 'coral' according to the Crayola box... definitely not purple.) Second, I've seen strings and 4-packs of C-9 sized ultraviolet bulbs; consider how those would look mixed in with the lights around the trim of your house this December. Third, they're going on markdown soon so you can stock up for cheap. Fourth, the strings are black thus are the next best thing to green; whomever decided white (as half of the strings for sale are) was a good thing to put on a tree was smoking crack. And fifth, even if you don't use them on the tree they are great for trimming accents around the house year-'round. (I have two strings of one hundred purple Halloween lights, by different manufacturers so the colors and intensity are different, running around the perimeter of the IKEA shelving in my bedroom.) And if you're a purist about Christmas clutter, have no fear: some of the mass marketers and Mall stores opened their Christmas boutiques around September 30 this year. Ain't that sick? --#2

    Today is the last day of the Fair, and I bailed out three days ago. I got to work on Thursday at 8am and just couldn't handle the physical and mental constraints on me, so I gave up on the whole scene. If the Fair isn't fun, there's no point in doing it. Since then I've been eating better, sleeping through the night, and only think about 'what might have been' about two or three dozen times a day (which for my fixating little brain is an improvement; Travis, I have 15 years on you so it's you who is walking in my shoes - save yourself and get out of 'em). For the record, I really liked working for Famous Scones, and I didn't really want to let Ken the manager down because he's a great guy, but I just couldn't stay there any longer. Now to talk bad about his mother... Psycho-grandma! She managed the place in his absence, and she was beyond annoying. She'd refer to regular objects by brand name, like calling the bleach-water for disinfecting counters "Purex" and a roll of paper towels "ScotTowels". The really freaky incident was when I was first filling out my employment paperwork (legally must be in ink), and I looked at the desk and saw three pencils and a rather plain pen. I pick up the pen and she says, "You can't use that, that's my special pen." Er, okay, so I move some papers and find another pen, this one even less significant than the first, and she says, "You can't use that pen either, that's my other special pen." I waited for her to go do something else before I filled out my paperwork, yeesh... And I swear once again that I will not be working at the Fair again in the future, like I said at this time last year. Oh, and I didn't lose much more weight, so now I'm 10-15 pounds from where I was when I first started getting desk jobs five years ago.
    Here's one from the vaults: In the late 1980's I was in a band with Jimbo and Adrian, Out Of Time, and we created a holiday we observed for a few years: Shit & Ice Cream Day, which was March 21. Jimbo was living in this little apartment off of Lincoln Avenue in Yakima, and Adrian and I went to visit him. The three of us are standing around talking, and Adrian goes off to the little boy's room and stays there. Getting impatient, I broke all but one tine off a plastic fork and unlocked the bathroom door, gave it a little push, and Adrian dives off the toilet to close the door. The door was not a mere reach from the pot, so he literally dove. For the next few minutes he is shouting things like, "Oh shit! My pants! So that's what those little hairs are for!" – he was hamming it up badly. Jimbo and I are laying on the floor dying laughing. Once he had finally come out and we composed ourselves, we went to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. Our holiday was no less sacred or sensible than any of the others on the calendar, but it was indeed ours.
    I'm still nowhere near ready to look for a real job, but I must I must. I did get one amusing thing on that note yesterday, though. I mentioned about a month ago how I'd applied to one agency and was told about a cellular telephone support gig that was too far away and too early in the day, then not long after got email from another agency out of the blue in regard to the same position. In my email box yesterday I got another email from that second agency, same person's name on it, which said the same thing rephrased and asked for the same information I'd already sent (and never heard another word about). Hmm, I detect a pattern here... Spam-snipe! --#2

    Last year I finished my seventeen day stint at the Western Washington Fair and told myself that six years was enough, plus I had no guarantee that I'd be able to work for the same place again in the future because it might no longer exist. This year, I couldn't keep to my word, partially because I like the high of going off to 'my adult summer camp' and partially because I need the money. But it seems karmically, the business part of the Fair didn't want me – I worked for a weekend for some folks who decided to give me the boot (and the guy never explained why he pitched me to my supervisors), by which time every other business was full up including the Mad Greek (who I'd work for again in a heartbeat) and International Village (who I always said I'd never work for). Yesterday the 18th was the biggest day of the Fair, with a standard attendance of 110,000 to 130,000; no one called to ask me to come help out. So now I feel pretty left out, like my stay at the party ended before it was even halfway through. I've seen everyone I wanted to see (and was seen by one person who didn't want to see me, ROTFL!) but this doesn't make things any easier; I am supposed to be there and busy for another week, and I have folks I adore seeing daily but now can't without paying admission (which went up this year). It's going to take awhile for me to get over my dismay (I won't even be able to think clearly until after this time next week); in the meantime I can be looking for real work again, whoa joy. Might as well get my shout-outs in: thanks, Carl, I will call you; go take a flying fuck, Jim, you fucking fuck; thanks for the introduction, Chrissy, now don't tell your mom (and STOP CALLING YOUR SISTER!); I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Corky, because I could use a beautiful friendship (and GET OFF THE PHONE!) [days later: Whoops, sorry, mistaken identity :-/ ]; you look good at months-from-fifty, Karen, and though you may think you have outlived yourself I believe that only becomes true if one gives up on living... and you don't strike me as one who gives up her dreams or pursuits easily. If I can name anything good that has come out of the last ten days, it is that with all the walking and not eating properly I have lost ten pounds; geez, if I woulda been able to work for another week, I might have finally gotten down to where I was before I started getting desk jobs. :)   [hours later: Famous Scones called today to ask if I was available to work tomorrow, to my surprise. Thanks again, Carl!!]
    I wish there was an escape from one's head that didn't cause worse problems than the ones being escaped from. --#2

    The Fair starts tomorrow and I'm ready. The Duris stand I'll be at is a new open-air one near the Orange Gate (across the street from Cow Chip Cookies, that's the most significant marker) and this ought to be interesting because it's just a 20 foot high overhang on a cement slab; there are no walls to protect us from bugs or weather on three sides. I know how cold and breezy it gets so I'll be prepared, but I'm sure my coworkers will learn soon enough. The manager of the stand was giving us a rundown about service around 8 p.m. the other night and all these moths came in and perched on the counter behind him... this does not bode well. Also bothersome is the fact that since they don't offer fountain soda we have to bring our own drinks or buy them, but such is life.
    It was time for my annual pilgrimmage to Packwood, WA last weekend so off I trekked to see what I could see. Seen were a former neighbor from Spanaway, a former coworker from my high school days, and fewer Christmas goods than usual but the ones I found were really cool – like the string of lights which were little flowerpots, and Liberace's Christmas album on cassette. The antique dealer I usually buy old photos from didn't bring his box of pictures, but that's fine since I've purchased plenty elsewhere and at an estate liquidator I found a disposable camera with the roll completed. Just gimme a job and I'll have the money to get them developed. Speaking of, in the last week or so another employment agency contacted me – they emailed me out of nowhere, and said they got my information online – offering me that same cell phone support gig the other one did, so I detect a bit of sniping here. Whatever, I'll call them in a couple weeks too.
    I thought of a great story from the past to tell here last night, but since I was half-asleep I didn't bother to put pen to paper to remind myself what it was – and have spent the last two hours laying on the couch trying to remember what it was, with no success – there's no tale of 'whoa!' here. I should know better than to say to myself, "Oh, I'll remember it later"; that never happens. If it ever comes back to me, I'll post it. And yes, I have renewed my domain name for another year. --#2

    No, I didn't forget about this place. I've spent most of the last twenty days getting my eyes sparkled, my time bided, my sensibilities assaulted, and my ass braided. The major headlines:
Chrome #1 got two weeks of leave and a rude awakening (he suspects the Army has him hooked up in Iraq for another six months, despite being told before he 'left theatre' that there will be no extention of the tour), and he came over for 3 hours last week and a night this week, both of which happened 2 days after the day he'd told me previously he'd arrive. I tried to talk him into writing a Daybook entry but this didn't appeal to him. I don't feel comfortable talking much without his consent (like I said, I tried to get him to write stuff himself!) but will reveal that after being in a war for six months, he has very few 'war stories' but plenty of nasty things to say about the 'friendly' humans he is surrounded with. My friend Gabriella says that not having war stories is probably a good thing; I'll agree and hope that he finishes his tour on schedule so he can stop griping about his coworkers and supervision. A new picture of him is in the Picture Gallery.
I am conscripted to work at The Puyallup for Duris, a family business which has several booths specializing in stuff like roast corn on the cob and elephant ears. I said that three weeks ago, didn't I? Okay, onward. I'll find out on Sept 7 which booth I'm at and doing what – and it'd better be counter/cashier stuff as requested. When I was going past the Fairgrounds today I noticed The Mad Greek's building is up and in place, but still appears to be a Mad Greek gyros stand...
So to follow up on what I mentioned last time: the way-cute woman with the placement agency screwed me, three times! No, not that way, dammit. Wrong life. Instance number one was Wednesday, as said, when she didn't show up for the meeting. Instance number two was Thursday, when she'd rescheduled us to meet again, because the job itself was even more horrible and unethical than I imagined; the job duties include trying to find ways not to pay the business' telemarketers (c'mon, they're already doing the scummiest job in the world and getting dick for wages)... I left after half an hour because my head would soon explode like that guy in Scanners. Instance number three came somewhere after that, because three weeks later I haven't been paid a cent in unemployment benefits. You're off my Christmas card list, Piper. I'm free to assume she told the Unemployment folks that I blew off the job or something so they wouldn't pay – I have to assume because every week the Unemployment folks send a note saying "Your benefits for the week have been denied, see other letter for an explanation" and yet there is no second letter sent. But in lighter news, a few days later I got contact from a competing placement agency offering me a gig with a cell phone support center, which I couldn't accept because it's 60 miles away (at today's gas prices), starts at 5 a.m. (no busses from here run at 3 a.m., thanks for asking, and my bed-partner expressed objections to the interruption), and The Fair falls in the midst of it (a guy's gotta have his priorities!) but I'll have them hook me up with something after Sept 26.
    It's time for an unpaid advertisement. Through word of mouth, I was turned onto a free program that will let you have voice conversations with other people on the Internet (a.k.a. free call to anywhere in the world), in addition to the usual instant messaging and file swapping your average chat client offers, and for a fee it offers expanded service wherein you can call people's landline phones and talk through your computer. I haven't tried the latter; I'm jazzed about how clear the conversation with fellow geeks is across a 56k dialup, such as mine is. Check out the details on the Skype chat client at – and you're welcome to give me a call (especially if you're a female person), my username is "thedamnmushroom"... I don't have regular online hours, but evenings/nights Pacific time are a good bet. Headset suggested, but the mike which came with your computer and a pair of headphones (to avoid creating feedback off your PC speakers) will work just fine.
    Gene Autry was more proficient than I realized; Sony put out a collection of rarities (not including the ones I'd dug up via eBay, go figger) last year – I'm particularly fond of "'Round 'Round The Christmas Tree" because Grandpa gets a brand new cane from Santa, won't he be happy?? I'd rather be telling a sordid story than telling you this, but it's late and I feel bad enough about not writing a Rant for August. September will have a Rant and plenty of sordid stories, I promise, and I've already updated the Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul page so you may as well click the link and see it. --#2

    Hello, folks! I'm currently ripping Christmas songs off vinyl to MP3, and never realized how proficient Gene Autry was at putting out Christmas music. He wrote "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and put out several albums and 78rpm singles of Christmas music, some memorable ("Frosty The Snowman") while others were forgetable ("Nine Little Reindeer", to the tune of "Ten Little Indians") or forgotten ("He'll Be Coming Down The Chimney (Like He Always Did Before)"). Life is fine here albeit dubious; today I was to interview with Hamburger Myers Too at the Puyallup Fair but after two hours the dork never showed up, and by the same token it was just me and this other guy who were waiting for him so things looked kinda strange. Bagging that, I'm interviewing tomorrow with Duris, the folks who make fire-roasted corn-on-the-cob and elephant ears. Then Wednesday I'm meeting up with my way-cute job placement person about a stint with a place in Factoria, just across the street from the defunct ISP call center I used to tech at, that does condo time-shares, a month-long fill-in job for someone who is having surgery... I have antipathy about this because my ethics [yes, I have some, BION] say it's wrong to work for any place that gets most of its business by telemarketing. I'll give them a chance to see if there's any credence to what negative things my fellow geeks tell me thirdhand about the place. I haven't heard from Chrome #1 just yet, thanks for asking, and I am trying to think of a Rant. And now, a bit overdue, two historical stories!
    I've always been fascinated by advertisements. I really should have gone into the advertising business so I could better understand why ads are they way they are. The best part of television, especially with drippy sitcoms, is the advertising between seven-minute sections; it's about the most accurate pulse you can take of a society's view of life (even if it's an imaginary view totally unrelated to reality, such as we saw in the 1950's). While I was in college I was at the top of my advertising cliché game, pointing out how ads for diapers and feminine hygiene products would use fluids that were the photo-opposite of what they were to represent (blink hard while watching blue liquid be poured into a diaper, and you will see a more accurate yellow; blink hard while watching a tampon be soaked in green liquid and you will see a more truthful red), and for sport I said to someone, "Why are there no singing douche ads?" This amused my companion, but then the next day she comes to me and sings,
  I'm dreaming of summer: cool breezes, fresh air
  When I want that feeling, Summer's Eve takes me there
  That cool, clean feeling keeps the good times on my mind
  Summer's Eve brings back freshness anytime.
   ©CB Fleet Company and ©whoever their advertising agency is
I was wrong, there was a singing douche ad and I'd forgotten it! (Shades of that scene from a Pauly Shore movie where he sings, to the tune of Seals & Croft's Summer Breeze, "Summer's Eve, makes me feel fine...") This left me wondering whether Vagasil or Preparation H had catchy jingles too. Eventually she came up with a song to the same tune about herself: I'm dreaming of phallus, so hard and so long / When I want that feeling, I grab myself a dong / That hot, dirty feeling keeps the good times on my mind / Oh, a dick keeps me horny all the time.
    In 1992 I was working at the Pizza Hut delivery unit in Selah, Washington as a phone answering drone. For a short time we had a cook with the last name of Shirtleff, and she was the dictionary definition of hot. She was the first young woman I'd met who had a tattoo on her ankle, she had a very subdued and delicious figure, and she had this exciting attitude like she'd been places. We flirted some along the way, and one day I finally came up and said, "If I asked you out, would you accept?" She replied, "Most likely." Your average person in my sneakers would say "woo hoo, let's go commando!" and line up a date. But no, that's not where my head was, I was just asking what her reaction would be. And I received it, mission accomplished. One of the other phone operators, Ed, was the competative sort who also had seen more of the world from his stint in the Army (and was only too willing to tell you about it) and had a big flaming ego, and he liked to swoop in and take what other people had. He'd found out that I'd asked that opinion question of Shirtleff, so not to be outdone he did ask her out. I was a bit disgusted by that, but realized that a) I didn't intend to ask, and b) that's just how this putz was, he wanted my disgust. So I went blithely on my way, and those two became an item. After about two weeks and Shirtleff's departure from the company, I notice that Ed is doing the adult male form of pouting – he's dragging his feet, dogging his work (not that this was unusual for him), and really in the doldrums. I wasn't about to ask him what the deal was, I asked one of his friends, who revealed that he'd taken Shirtleff seriously and then she used him and ditched him. No wonder she was grinning the last time I saw her. Iron Man had his heart broken?! Nothing could have been funnier to me, there wasn't anything I could say to puncture that punk's ego so leave it to a woman to kick him where he lived. Sure, I might have been a little envious that he got some from her, but he threw himself in front of me on that grenade of his own volition. --#2

    I have finished my temping with a major bank, and the timing is just right: just when I was finally getting good at something, I don't have to do it anymore. I spent the last day and a half sorting through file folders with three other guys, which was a change of pace but as usual we were undertrained for the task so I'm sure that in the future some agent is going to go looking for proof of insurance on a property or other vital documentation and not find the folder they seek. I don't ever intend to get a loan with those guys, there are too many ways their computer system can fuck stuff up and many of the agents who dun-call (a.k.a. let you know your case got fucked up once they realize why the computer told them to call) don't pay attention to what the customers say. That'll be in a Rant shortly. There was a little internal sorrow at closing time, mostly a summer-camp departure thing than the expected "the job is over and I don't have another one lined up" because I still haven't given the matter any thought, and I only said goodbye to the people I crossed paths with between my desk and the sidewalk... since I left 10 minutes early so I could break a $5 bill for bus fare and there was an unoccupied row of desks between mine and the escalator, that number was greatly diminished. [So I say them now: Conner - I don't know how you do it with a smile. Sparks - You're shedding. Nogales - I really don't know how you've done it for so long. Bojang - Best of luck, and I wasn't being sarcastic; those people on my monitor genuinely were strangers! Spicer - You were making less than the temps, admit it. Weathers - Are you genuinely THAT dull? You come off as a granny but I'm not ageist, I'm personality-ist. Piñon - You're gonna put someone's eye out with those things, and trust me no one will perish if a record is still onscreen between calls. Stone - You're better off the field than on. Strüss - Don't settle for less than the best, and I wish you the best of luck in television; you have the right idea, but the right idea doesn't sell as you've noticed. Havard - Go back to Flint. McFadden - You were the most awesome boss I could ask for; I'm sorry I didn't shake your hand before I left. The rest of that floor - It's a good thing you didn't know what I was thinking, many of you are fine and it was a pleasure watching you work (or whatever it was you did). Jeannie the trainer - Yes, where you stand and where you breathe. Finally, Miles the ex-temp and the big-haired broad down the hall, you're both invited to GFY.]
    I got a note from Chrome, R.A.T. #1, the other day saying he expects to get some leave time in August. Hopefully he actually gets out of Iraq as planned (I'd heard via the news awhile back that the Powers That Be were limiting leave, something about how your average person doesn't really want to return to an unjust war after two weeks of R&R) and will chip in some text here.
    The other day I was on lunch break at work and had a nappie – I had a long night the previous day, a get-together of folks from Tech Support Comedy so went to bed after 2:00 a.m. and I was getting up at 5:30 a.m. for work – and with ten minutes left before the end of lunch I decided to take a walk around the block to wake myself up. My worksite was a block off Pike Place Market, so there are plenty of interesting people to gander at. I'm rounding the corner across from the Market entrance when I see this lanky black homeless guy taking big strides backwards off the cobblestone street onto the sidewalk. He gets to the sidewalk and opens his cardboard sign. I'm walking by at that moment, and the sign says "Saving Up For A Hooker" with the o's in Hooker illuminated to look like pendulous breasts. I was laughing pretty hard and this made my day. He didn't get any money from me, it was the thought that counted. Of course, then I get to the end of the block and take the corner, and there's an unconvincing drag queen with picket-fence teeth coming in my direction, and I grinned and thought, "welcome to Seattle!" To the outsiders and locals who haven't seen the newest sights in downtown Sea-town: the Central Library is a weird-looking edifice but it's amazing on the inside, and if you're a dweeb you might like the Sci-Fi Museum at the Experience Music Project but the rest of us consider it another extention of Paul Allen's pecker.
    I'm going to enjoy getting rest for a few days, but I get bored easily so will be diving back into the work pool again shortly. As always, it's that casual balance in action: when I have time to do stuff I need to do, I lack the money; when I have the money to do stuff I need to do, I lack the time. And no matter how good being in collections for a major bank looks on a résumé, it's not directly related to anything I want to do with my life... I'm staying flexible, maybe this is the direction my life is to take, but I still maintain that I hate banking and don't want to be involved with it. One ironic hilarity to me is that a number of my coworkers at this bank were excited about the fact that another bank's call center – the ultra-corporate one I worked at for two months earlier this year and wanted out of nearly as much as they wanted me out – is hiring. I heard people talking about how strict it was at their present jobs (which it wasn't in the least); wait'll they get over to that other place, muahahaha! --#2

In case you needed a few laughs, here are some links that came across to me today that I adore. I'm envious of both incidences but would want neither to happen to me:
•  Have you ever had One Of Those Days? Would you want to?!
•  It's not a bug, it's a creature. His name is Intel, so it's true the machine had "Intel Inside".
Neither are 100% work-friendly and frankly they require intestinal fortitude, that's your warning... --#2

    I had a full weekend, for once. Stuff at work was so slack that I had Saturday off, so Paige and I went to Nile Valley Days (between Naches and Cliffdell, north of Yakima) on Saturday and LakeFair in Olympia on Sunday. We were intending to go to the Lavender Festival in Sequim but decided to be more frugal ($6/person and a tank of gas, verses free and a visit to her mom in Oly was slated anyway). Nile Valley Days is this event at Jim Sprick Park [must restrain urge to call it Jim's Prick Park...] which doesn't get much press; it specializes in minor-league logger games like crosscutting and axe throwing. (The major-league ones like steeplechase happen in other communities like Sultan, WA.) It's such a cozy party that burgers cost $3 and bottled water costs 50¢, and yolk from the egg-toss is free. We attend this every year and it's the first time in a long time I've been there on a Saturday – Sundays are cool but not quite as busy there. The LakeFair was part craft show, part freak-fest (it is Olympia, afterall), part carnival. The best parts were the people playing in the park's fountain and the bakesale booth in support of :)
    Work meanwhile has taken an expected yet still bizarre twist: As of the 19th, the outbound calls have been shifted from the call center I'm at (and I was hired to do outbound) to one in Florida, so my crew has been retasked to take inbound calls. We temps haven't been trained for inbound. I'm winging it as best as I can, and I hope for your sake, dear readers, you don't have any reason to call the Collections Dept of this financial institution because you're prolly not going to get the right answer for at least another two weeks. I'm doing outbound today for one reason: seems the new call center's phone service is goofed up so they have no long-distance ability presently... So the next question is, "Say, Mushy, what are you doing come August 1?" No frigging clue, kids. But it won't involve getting up at 5:30 a.m. initially. I should be more concerned about it but, sigh, the prospect of getting more than six hours of sleep max a night is quite attractive in the short-term.
    I posted a new Rant last week but forgot to have the site's opening message reflect that fact... but you probably already figured that out. It's lame, so if you didn't figure it out you aren't missing much. In other site news (or news of other sites), the August update to Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul has been posted a little early because at the rate I've been operating, if I didn't do it now I'd be late. I did scan up a mess of new lost memories, admittedly purchased from some Seattle antique shops because there aren't enough 1890's - 1970's photos natively in my colection. And to answer a question I hear frequently, yes, there actually is a market for old photos and there are plenty of places (and I've shopped 3 of them so far) to find them. Why you'd want to look for 'em is another matter. What cracks me up is that the other day I was browsing through the Bill Ding gallery at work and the filtering software reported three pages were unviewable because the page supposedly promotes, get this, "Criminal_Skills". Further proof that Bill is a pimp.
    A recent Comedy Goldmine article on reminded me of a funny moment from junior high school. The article is a story about this guy's dad getting tired of kids running out and grabbing ahold of the cars bumper on slick icy days to do some street surfing, thus the father unit wired the sparkplugs to the metal back bumper so those who latched on would get quite the shock. My story goes thusly: Hinkybobbing, as we called the act of grabbing the back bumper of a moving car as it went over icy pavement to do some road skiing, was popular in my area as well, and the street between Toppenish Junior High School (Cubs are great!) and the football field/track was very fertile ground for the act one winter in the early 1980's. I personally never did it out of safety concerns – it was a small town, and if the car didn't kill you your folks would have when they got home – but some of my classmates did. The only thing I did was skip a stone up the street, which followed underneath a car at nearly the same speed so it bounced between the road and the muffler repeatedly for twenty feet. Which brings us to 'Dancing Danny', the craziest fucker at my school. This was the guy who went driving across the elementary school's field on his mom's moped when he was 14, thinking the cops wouldn't follow him, but by golly the gate to the field was down and they did pursue him all the way to the high school. When his folks would be out of town, he'd swipe his dad's vintage car to go cruising, which was a lot of fun until something unexpected happened at the family business one night and so half the town was trying to find him. He was so crazy that he blew me, twice. (He's a popular media personality now so I can't name names, heh heh.) Anyhow, so we got out of school one frozen afternoon and went to cross the street, and a car came by that Danny thought was ripe for the picking. He gives a short sprint and grabs ahold of the bumper, and he had a pretty good ride for half a block. The rest of us were having a good laugh, then the car behind the hinkybobbed vehicle comes into view... a police car. None of us had noticed this before, or at least for sure HE didn't before he started. The rest of us had an even bigger laugh, and we didn't see fit to stop and observe whatever was about to happen to Danny; that surprised look on his face as he glanced back from the tail of that car was enough for us. --#2

    Obligatory "how was your Fourth?" answer: I spent most of it in bed. Same with the Fifth, which is why I'm truant on a Daybook entry and the Rant. The reason is because my Third was so chock-full. Follow along now, kids... Friday 2: I got up at 5:30 a.m. and went to work, and a few hours after I returned loyal reader and fellow Tech Support Comedy contributer Obie99 shows up from Portland to spend the night. Paige split for Yakima in the evening, so that left Obie and I to sit around gabbing all night long, and we finally retired around 5 a.m. Saturday 3: We got our sorry asses up around 8 a.m. and were out of the house not long after 9 a.m., driving across the state to Spokane – about 325 miles – for a barbecue. The five hour drive was pretty cool, or rather hot, and we sang along with ABBA and Stars On 45 at high volume. So we got to the destination, the home of DarthLuke and SpicyGirl, and linked up with our fellow TSC geekoids before 2 p.m. Amusement ensued for hours on end, and then around midnight we decided to drive back across the state instead of spend the night in a hot house. (Sorry for the short and undescriptive listing here, it was FABULOUS and we didn't want it to end. But you don't actually care what happened, do you?) We got back here around 5:15 a.m. and went straight to bed, and Paige had returned around 3:30 a.m. Sunday 4: Obie couldn't sleep so he left for Portland at 8:30 a.m. (sadist)  MeLissa was supposed to call me about going to the Freedom Fest on the Tacoma Waterfront, but she didn't and thus I publicly announce the official termination of our friendship (which happened by default 9 months earlier; this is official). But this gave me the excuse/ability to sleep so I took it. By the time I had to face work on Tuesday I was properly rested – and had that summer-camp feeling of not wanting the weekend to be over.
    I've sat here the last two hours trying to think of a funny story to tell but am failing, so I'm going to get that Rant (lame as it may be) posted. The real laughs are over at Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul presently. I promise I'll be funny next week. --#2

   I am not alive. I am in a state of quasi awareness that doesn't constitute life. Life generally involves the ability to make conscious decisions. At the moment, I am unable to think independently. I agree with the professor, therefore I will graduate. This state of affairs may continue for a few more years before I obtain my Certificate of Ability to Think Independently, otherwise known as a degree. Until that time, I make no consious decisions, am not truly aware, and therefore am not alive. (Alive in this case refers to the difference between Humans, and.... ants.)
   I'm sorry I have not been in touch much. School has been VERY demanding. We are also in a bad way financially, so work and school keep me extra busy all the time. I am working for my professor this summer. It looks like I may stay to get my Masters degree, if I continue to do well in my classes this next year. --#3

    I'm low on time this holiday weekend, so if the Rant hasn't been posted as you read this then check again next visit... I have the words, but I lack the ability to type them. :) So this is going to be quick and dirty. First, some R.A.T. thoughts as seen in public: • "yippy kiyo kiya" – bumpersticker.  • "Low Carb Loans" – sign seen in Olympia, WA.  • "Life sucks and then you keep on living." – Bruce Eric Kaplan.  • Today I was walking toward the Pike Place Market in loverly Seattle, which as you may know I work a block from (I got confirmation that this job does end as of August 1), and on the other side of Pike Street in front of the minimart and pawnshop was this fat black man, wearing women's clothing (a gold leopard-print blouse with open sides – it took guts to wear that, visibly – black shorts, pumps, and a really large sistah-ringlets wig), and pulling a little red wagon with nothing in it. I shitteth thee not about that wagon; he stopped every two feet to lift the front up by the handle, sang something out loud like a diva for a few seconds, then put the wheels back down to go another couple feet. People didn't know what to make of him, and I'm not sure he knew what to make of himself either. I hate to say it, but that person made my day... you go, gurl!  • I was taking pictures at the Market the other day at 7:30 a.m. before anything was open for business, and this fishmonger had gotten its display of fresh seafood packed in ice ready so I took a shot, lowered the camera, and just then passes this rail-thin Asian woman with all of her teeth gathered on one side of her mouth (no wonder she was rail-thin, ya can't eat much that way!)... honest to Jah, she reminded me of a Daffy Duck cartoon, whenever someone would slap the beak off the boy. And I didn't get a picture of her, my camera was trying to save the fish picture at the time...  • THANK YOU to the kind soul(s) that purchased a Star Membership for me on Tech Support Comedy earlier this week. My paid membership lapsed a few months ago due to lack of income (and lack of a techie job for which I'd be reporting on!), so this is very welcome. I've been posting scads there lately, now that I have tales to tell again. I'll be spending July 3 with a bunch of these geeks at a barbecue in Spokane... ROAD TRIP!!  • I'm a big fan of Benders poseable magnetic-footed wire characters and own six – Rita, Mojo, MindBender and Fuzz (the cats), and the two Mountain Climbers. I took a picture of my Benders in action, the two mountain climbers staking a claim upside-down to the useless shelf I keep my Magic 8-Ball on at work, with the two people and MindBender standing on top looking down at them in awe [Fuzz looks like Cheddar, and since we don't let Ched out of the house Fuzz has to stay home too...], and mailed it to Hog Wild Toys (their maker) for their submitted picture page. I got an email the next day asking for my address cuz they're going to mail me something neat-o. Wahoo!
    Sorry so short and no sordid stories... --#2

    This weekend was the Fremont Festival, an event of epic proportions in "The Center Of The Universe" in the Fremont district of Seattle. It's my yearly opportunity to see unshaven female armpits doused in patchouli, free-swinging tits under tied-on tie-dyed hemp frocks, more international food than the average state fair, and white guys with nappy hair who are so passively liberal and earth-conscious they practically have vaginas carrying big man-bags. In other words, I had a great time, even after seeing the huge St. Bernard lounging on an inclined street drooling a river eight feet long behind it. The products of the day were the t-shirts with a bikini'd female groin captioned "Good Bush" and a drawing of this country's unelected leader with the caption "Bad Bush" – and the Utilikilt which is a cross between cargo pants and Celtic clanwear (but at 10x the price of pants and twice the price of a real tartan Spartan's skirt). We were looking for Eyescapes, the iris photography venture created by Ree Ellen Martorelli (my bride and I had our eyes shot many years ago), but couldn't seem to locate it/her. The quote of the day came from a teenager holding a bunch of petitions: "Would you like to sign our petition, asking the state government to turn the Space Needle into a giant McDonald's Big Mac?"
    I watched a little bit of the tenth anniversary special of Inside The Actors Studio and they had this montage of famous people answering the stock questions asked of most guests. I watched and felt compelled to answer them myself because I liked how a lot of these folks responded. Some pass-it-to-your-friends emails and the occasional slam-book in school resembles this, though without the effluvia like what your favorite ice cream flavor is or who you'd most like to sleep with. (Though those two are valid questions with no useful purpose, unless there's free ice cream or easily-influenced sex partners involved.) My dear friend Gabriella told me the other day that I sometimes reveal more of my feelings in the Daybook than would be prudent, and that may be true, but I've spent a lot of my life not being asked for an opinion so I feel somewhat compelled to pitch it out anyway in hopes others may find me as fascinating as I honestly am. (You can hum The Police's "Message In A Bottle" here if you want.)
Most favorite word: "Oaf." It's a beautiful word and it describes some folks to a T.
Least favorite word: It's two words – "Pediatric oncology." The concept should not have to exist. (Also: "Dumpster," when Paige says it.)
Favorite swear word: "Shit!" I was surprised almost no one in the montage listed it.
What would you most want to do: Be one of those people who gets paid very well for his observations and philosophies without having to constantly write books, along the lines of Will Rogers. Failing that, a bra-fitter in the Junior Miss department of a popular department store (according to Bali, the bra manufacturer, 75% of women are wearing the wrong size/style... I want to make a difference in people's lives).
What would you least want to do: Caregiver at an Alzheimer's facility. My heart is too easily torn apart as it is.
Most favorite sound: The soft see-saw breathing of a woman sleeping as her lips gently part.
Least favorite sound: A bitchy female voice raised to tell someone that whatever it is that person thinks, feels, says, or does is wrong. Especially a shrewish parent chastising a well-behaved child for no good reason, or a customer who is resisting valuable assistance from me to resolve an issue.
What turns you on: If her shirt has sleeves, five-day growth of armpit stubble. If her shirt does not have sleeves, a good side-view of her unswaddled breast.
What turns you off: Ignorance. I don't care how cute or minimally dressed she is, stupidity is the deal-killer.
    I've finished reading my old journal, mentioned last entry, and it appears my life got better eventually. A and I got our acts together, so we're working on Happily Ever After. B and her family drifted away from me out of disgust that they couldn't have everything their way. C and I stopped talking after our second rendezvous, it was sort of like our friendship died a natural death after we tested it with the concept of love, and I saw her at a videogame conference a couple years ago – we gave each other our email addresses but neither of us felt compelled to write. D eventually got the picture and got out of my life (and my friends' lives), but not before calling me at 3 a.m. from an Oregon psych ward in 1999 (much to my wife's chagrin). E had told me that we could never be together unless I converted to her religion, and in the end she converted to someone else's religion to be with him. Funny how that works out. F is seeking a friend to lean on as she seeks a lover in the worst way (looking for love where it don't exist, our mutual hometown). G left and I couldn't follow, as I said. H wouldn't know love if it bit her on the ass because it honestly hasn't yet, and at this point it doesn't matter to me whether we go to the Freedom Festival together this July 4 or not. A bit too much baggage to claim there. The journal revealed there was also a passing I in the form of a girl at a bakery who fascinated me, gave me no chance, then crashed on my livingroom floor for a week with this lØser guy she met in Oregon, and the only real saving grace I got (beside accidentally walking through the room one morning while they were fornicating but my eyes weren't quite open at the time, dammit) was when I asked her if she ever thought of me during that period when I was trying to get on her agenda; she replied, "you were never far from my countenance." That one was just a hope; reality was J for whom I claim temporary insanity but (much like G on a shorter scale) I wanted badly and actually received temporarily – I consider my relationship with her to be represented by that Far Side cartoon of the dog with his mouth wrapped around a car's back bumper, where his thought balloon says "After all these years I finally caught it! Uh, now what do I do with it?" So anyway... My mind is in a better state now, I just had to let those demons get bored and leave it on their own. Now the only thing that bothers me is that my favorite Christmas boutique, Sleighbells in Sumner WA, is going out of business — but that doesn't involve another person or my heart, and that's how I prefer my emotional tragedies to be. --#2

    Today's bit of irony comes courtesy of your local mega-toystore. There is a soft child-sized toilet seat available with various images of Dora The Explorer on it (there's also a SpongeBob model, if you're interested), and I found it highly hilarious that among the pictures of her and her monkey the word Váminos! can be found several times. I suppose that's what the person sitting on the product says to their bowels if he/she is a bit constipated... But in other Latino language hijinx, I found it also rather hilarious that the 'Customer Lookup' codeword used for a certain database at my short-term bank job is "culo" (Spanish for "asshole").
    I've started reading a journal that I kept ten years ago out of boredom on my morning bus ride, and I was apparently quite a busy boy in November of 1994. I was still sleeping with A despite her leaving me for another man, I was starting to get hot and heavy with B whom I didn't really want but she had me over a barrel, I was making rendezvous with C at her college dorm which caused us to stop talking altogether, D who should have stayed in my past would drop in and entertain me then do the same with my best friend (and we both knew, plus knew she was with my former roommate too), and I spent a lot of time wondering about the possibilities with E who was not yet ready for the concept. Looking back on the mileposts is messing with my head a bit. But the fun doesn't end there, it seems. The aforementioned old friend looks me up so I get to think about stuff from 15-20 years ago which I didn't know how to handle correctly at the time, and a newer friend asked me about my best kisses so I regaled the stories about someone who I always called my One True Love when I was in school and that got me thinking about someone I've forced myself not to think about for self-preservation reasons, and yesterday afternoon I gave in and visited the friend I haven't seen in nine months (we were to reunite after we finished our seasonal jobs in January but didn't) and that whole span of time I'd convinced myself I didn't think it wise to have anything more to do with her. "Dismay? Throw it on the pile," I said to myself as I left that last person's work a little agitated. [Would this be exhibits F, G and H?] None of this paragraph has to make much sense to anyone, heck it doesn't make total sense to me either, but what I'm getting at is: My head's in a strange space because I've looked back on where I've been and how I've progressed, and instead of only laughing and thinking I've gone so far (which has happened) I also recall and reacquire (to a lesser degree than orignally bore) the dark clouds across my heart and turbulence in my soul. "I've broke the spell that you kept me under / I've had enough of the rain and thunder" as the Martin Brilley song says, but much like Lot's wife I can't look back on where I've been without turning salty. I think I've mentioned here the biggest problem I had with my ten year high school reunion, the ringingly empty feeling inside me I'd had in school that I hadn't felt in nearly a decade and I'd very happily forgotten about in the meantime. I'm hoping this will pass soon enough, though I'm still talking to the high school friend and have halfway made plans to spend the Fourth of July with the lattermost person (message to Lissa: He's moving to the East Coast and not taking you with him; add it up...) so total comfort is a bit away. Since I dredged up the stories I had to suppress fifteen to nineteen years ago, I may as well share them since they have been produced.
    The most wonderful first kiss I ever received was from Karen, the camp manager's daughter. One year we had this dress-up event on Friday night, and in a bold move instead of asking one of my fellow campers I asked Karen (who had been a camper in the same group as myself in 1979 so I knew her previously, but this was 1985) and to my surprise she accepted. I had wanted for years – since as early as 1982 anyway – to get to know her better, and would say hello to her by name once a year just to be noticed. So the night comes, and when it came time that everyone could do whatever with whomever along comes Karen, dressed up in a blue print shirt and khaki slacks. Other campers were saying to each other, "who is that girl Brian is with?" because many had never seen her before, and none including myself had seen her dressed in anything but what one wears to tend horses. She was afraid she'd squash me when I sat down in this chair and pulled her down into my lap, and I was losing circulation to my legs but would rather have lost them than change anything about that few minutes... and this made us hold onto each other tighter and tighter. We eventually walked around the camp, arm in arm or hand in hand, and I was on top of the world while she was (she admitted the rarity of the feeling) surprisingly unconcerned with anyone else's opinion. When we were returning from walking to the river we stopped outside my cabin and she bid me a good-night, and we kissed. "One more for the road?" I asked, and we kissed again. I HAD NEVER FELT ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE, OR SINCE. It was like everything those cartoons/TV shows portrayed about a first kiss or love was totally true -- the hearts popping up above my head, the shortness of breath, the rapid patter of my heart, the lightness of body and the feeling of walking on air (only smoking marijuana that one time almost exactly two years from when the overnight visit story following happened, came close to the feeling in my legs that moment). She walked down the path to her home, I went into my cabin to get myself prepared for bed (most of the rest of the group were going to be coming along soon, so I got a head start and my evening had ended perfectly) and after I pulled my toothbrush out of my suitcase I put my face down on the upper bunk and CRIED. Very briefly, just a couple seconds, but indeed I CRIED. Then I went to the bathroom across the path from my cabin totally in glee. That was July of 1985, and in December...
    The most wonderful kiss I ever had, a truly awe-inspiring toe-curling kiss that I know I will remember all of my life, came from the same person. I'd taken a Greyhound bus to spend the night at the summer camp with Karen. (I had my own room, nothing naughty happened.) We were sitting around her room listening to music and talking, and this kiss started. It began like any other passionate kiss, but then I noticed her arm had moved around the back of my head and she was winching my face into hers... it was like a hydrolic grip, not painful but I feared my head would implode and I can't say I would have objected. My gawddamn toes curled in my sneakers. And her tongue was going down my throat, and I was returning the favor. I can't describe it any further, it was just the most powerful (in any sense of the word) kiss I've ever had. I walked around the camp the next morning in two feet of snow, and later on she dropped me off at the bus station and left without looking back, which seemed an odd close. I had The Dream Academy's "Life In A Northern Town" running through my head because it was perfect for the timeframe. In the next letter I received from her, she ended with the words, "but winter has not come to me, for I love you.". That was enough to reduce my knee-bones to gelatin. And it wasn't long after that the love part of the relationship, from her perspective, ended and I was the last to know. So that toe-curling kiss may not have been the last one we shared (the full truth came out over the next five months), but it was essentially our final kiss goodbye. --#2

    A voice from my past looked me up on, one of my sister's classmates whom I tutored after school every day and then attended sporting events with for two or three years after I graduated. I hadn't seen her in probably 12 years or communicated with her in ten years. No matter how much we evolve in our lives, some of us never really change. She says that the occasion of this retro flashback was that she was ditched by her boyfriend of ten years for the mother of his children (funny, he never slept with her the entire decade, thus she spent her entire 20's as a virgin...), then ditched by her boyfriend of a year and a half for a friend of hers (and he's probably had sex with this new person more times in the last month than he ever did with her). So here she was, looking for a sympathetic shoulder, as I had been long ago, so she could bemoan her lot in life. All I could say, first politely then after the fourth time with a little less tact, was that she should be celebrating her independance... that a woman does not need a man to validate her existance. Especially a man who didn't validate her existance when they were together, and I don't just mean physically though that is part of it. I didn't realize people still thought like that, but maybe that's because [in her words] I have someone to go home to and snuggle. I got sick of that phrase pr'quick. People need to find their own causes, their own reasons. She needs to dance, the music is there. We met up on Snoqualmie Pass, very roughly half-way between There and Here, and hung out in North Bend – the town and waterfall immortalized in the TV show Twin Peaks. The hiking around did me good, the exercise was welcome. And seeing an old friend was a great thing too, though I have been reminded why I used to keep myself from dissing constantly on her... good heart, troublesome head.
    The neice unit is gone for the summer and I'm in my third week of temping for a bank. I have no plans for my life presently, other than a field trip to Spokane across the state in a month for a Tech Support Comedy Independance Day barbecue. I think I'm finally sleeping at night, after two weeks of getting zippo to two hours of sleep per night. I received an email from Chrome #1 the other day, updates to the R.A.T. Likes... page which I need to integrate and should be ready by the time you read this. There should also be a new Rant though as I write this [1:06pm from work] I haven't fleshed out the story about yesterday's neighbor tech support run taking hours yet being all for naught. Okay, I just gave the ending away, heh! And if you didn't notice it a week ago, the Spackle update was made. There's also an update to the Pimpin' Life of Bill Ding page, courtesy of a reader who met Bill in his small town a couple thousand miles away from where I found him. (Thanks JDM! And why hasn't anyone from the Eatonville, WA area from whence my scans eminated written me about their memories of him?) --#2

5/30/04  my neice Morgan Judith Anderson's 11th birthday
    You could say I spoke a little too soon in the last entry; I posted last Friday at 2 a.m. that I had no job leads, then eight hours later I got a call from my placement agency saying another local bank wants me to start on Monday. So I've spent the last week learning about loan collections, the "soft" variety where if a bank doesn't receive payment by the end of the usual grace period they will call to ask whazzup. I don't have to beg or threaten to send Guido to visit. I'm told that most of the time this failure to pay is just an oversight since we have such busy lives and mountains of paper to wade through on our desks/bill-bins/diningroom tables. This was also a crash course, training in one week what previous classes took about a month to learn (of course, chances are they actually learned vital stuff and understood things when they hit the phones). The first thing I noticed when sitting in with the crew was that the tools we were shown in class weren't in use by the people who actually do the work, and that the tools those people do use were not mentioned in class. Let's steepen the learning curve a bit, shall we? So now I'm getting up around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday through Saturday of the next seven to nine weeks to hop a 6:25 a.m. bus to Seattle, and get home around 6:30 p.m. Yes, it's a two-month assignment; this bank is about to outsource its collections department to a facility in Florida (which is still being built at this moment) and they'd let the folks where I am know this fact early enough that they're abandoning ship on a daily basis. I'm happy they're keeping their jobs domestic, but still this does nothing positive for the local economy. Five more weeks before I qualify for unemployment benefits again! The pay is sh!t, but that's because the placement company takes their cut (the placement folks write my paychecks) plus since we're contractors we likely have a lower wage scale than the permanent *HAHAHA!!* employees... but it's pay nonetheless.
    Since I work a few blocks away from the world-famous Pike Street Public Market I've been getting my exercise on the Hillclimb and haunting the Old Seattle Paperworks, a shop specializing in old posters and documents, gathering lost antique photos for the Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul website... I figure a little stuff from 1880 through 1950 would be a welcome addition to the mostly-1990's (with occasional lucky finds from 1950-1990 tossed in) material. As a result I have learned how to run a black-and-white negative from a Kodak Brownie camera through my scanner effectively, so I have gained something valuable from the experience. It's odd taking a shine to a really cute girl in a photo then realizing that she'd be over a hundred years old if she were alive today, but for me that's not unusual.
    It's time for a sordid story! In my teenage years I did that thing that teenage boys do with frequency – spanking the monkey, beating the bishop, polishing the rocket, bopping the balogna, slapping the salami, wrestling the eel, shining the wire [thanks Paul T.], you get the drift – and every year before summer camp at Lazy F in Ellensburg WA [attention Karen Strausbaugh Smith: could you please fill out the rest of your personal info on] I'd decide that I wasn't going to touch myself for at least a week before and however long I could survive afterwards. I was a slave to the grind so I wasn't very good at abstainance, except during the six days I was at camp (and I do so miss the ability to totally put sex out of my mind). But there was one summer I actually had some sort of fortitude, and I didn't wring out my rope for five weeks. (And that record still stands.) Now let's scroll back to health class in junior high, when the subject was nocturnal emissions and my best friend Mike Hackner and I were discussing our personal habits, at which time I'd said I'd had them before. Obviously I didn't quite understand the subject at the time because four years later in the summer of age 18, after five weeks of not forcing the issue, nature took over. I was having this really rediculous dream and at one point there were these tall pointy breasts protruding from the ground (yes, tall: they were coming up like reeds and were like three feet long), and they were fascinating. I was fixated on these disembodied boobs sprouting out of the ground. For the record, I had not yet heard the following limerick; Larry Breer told it to me a year or two later: There once was a farmer in Nemitz / Who planted an acre of tits / He raked and he hoed / And one day they growed / And he dove in and chewed them to bits! I know I was with another guy who was trying to give me a tour of the area or otherwise keep my attention, but I was totally fascinated with these amazing titty-stalks, and I was turning my head this way and that looking at them. And a cannon went off in my shorts. They never mentioned how much different a nocturnal emission feels from an intentional one in health class, folks. I made it a point to give Mike a call the next day, and several minutes into our chewing of the fat about our summers and future plans I told him, "Do you remember how in the nineth grade we were talking about wet dreams, and I said I'd had them? I lied. I had my first one the other day." And he replied, "Hurts, don't it?" He totally blew me away. I asked him why he didn't tell me, and of course he said that he thought I already knew. Of all things to lose my load over, the one involuntary orgasm I've had in my life, it had to be something totally absurd and fictional. Heh heh, life is funny that way.
    And a happy birthday to my bride as well, whose birthday is tomorrow. A belated mention here, though my email to him about this was not (and the present I sent was, due to the time it takes a box to get to Iraq through the US and military postal services), that Chrome - R.A.T. #1 had a birthday two weeks ago on May 17. Happy birthday to you, and BOHICA! Don't ask how old either one of them are. --#2

    Nothing I have done this week will result in financial improvement. The same can be said for the entire month, actually. The two significant bits to repeat are that my neice Amanda, bearer of the semi-occasional Incoherent Ramblings blog, is staying with my wife and I while finishing the semester at the University of Washington (and may well be here again for the Fall semester) due to the mother-in-law losing what's left of her little mind and moving thirty miles off the bus route, and that the Visible Woman modelling kit I've had on the shelf for a couple years is finally being worked on (20 years after I built the Visible Man – I'll never understand why my mother didn't want me to have the Visible Woman, she musta been afraid of the "parts that simulate pregnancy" – and the Visible Frog, which Skilcraft apparently doesn't make anymore and my friggin' parents threw out). Speaking of parental rants, I'm going to pitch out today's long-ago anecdote and leave the rest of today's column free to discuss happier things. There was one afternoon when I was laying on my bed, reading or doing homework or contemplating my navel, when my father got all in a huff about something and kicked open my bedroom door. The door flew all the way back into the wall and punched a perfectly round hole into the drywall. The doodad in the hinge that's supposed to prevent such damage reacted a bit slowly to the force, but a moment late it caused the door to rebound right back to a nearly-closed position and into my father's face. Not literally, though that would have been just desserts for playing stormtrooper. Thus he had to kick the door in again, this time with less force and his right hand in place to keep it open this time, and he shouts something at me that required a one-word or one-sentence answer... something completely trivial and wasn't even as important as, say, demanding to know whether I'd fed the cat yet. I gave him the answer without flinching (I was busy and whatever he was barking about didn't require my intervention), then asked without attempting to be a smartass about it, "So how was that worth needing to take the time and expense to replaster the wall?" (or something to that effect) I don't recall his answer, but it wasn't sheepish enough for me; I think it was something like "it's my house and I can destroy it if I want." Brilliant. As I recall, he didn't fix that hole while I was there or during the entire time my younger brother occupied that room after I'd moved out, and only patched it once my brother had moved out and my parents were planning on selling the house.
    I've just finished reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. It's a best-seller in England and doing very well in the States, as you may have heard. She makes one point which bothers her a bit and for some reason doesn't surprise me much: despite how many people buy and read and love this book, most of them aren't following the guidance found within its pages. For those who haven't heard about it, it's a book about how English speakers (on either side of the Atlantic, with oddly no mention of the English-speaking pomes in Australia) have given up most of their punctuation skills and the ruin this is wreaking on the language. Roughly 3/5 of the book is devoted to the misuse of apostrophes [particularly how the possessive "its" does not require one] with the rest addressing the proper uses of colons, semicolons (I'm pleased to know that I'm a rare breed because I still use them), commas, dashes and hyphens. And no, dashes and hyphens are not the same thing, people. It's by no means a dry tome; it's rather hilarious, and has plenty of examples of how things should be used and how even the acclaimed authors muck it up. My problem has never been how to use punctuation, I'm happy to say; the sticklers among you already know that I have trouble sticking to just one verb tense in a paragraph, but that matter isn't addressed in this volume.
    The other bit of writing I've come across which requires mention is the sort of thing R.A.T. used to write long ago, which is why it impressed me so much. In the June issue of Funny Times, there is an article called "Words of Wisdom", collected by M. D. Rosenberg. Quoting some of the choicer ones (and please don't come after me for doing so, Mr. Rosenberg or Sue & Ray – as the list says, it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission):
 • If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
 • If you lend someone $20 and you never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
 • It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
 • A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
 • Happiness comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.
 • Never buy a car you can't push.
 • Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
 • The early worm gets eaten by the bird, so sleep late.
 • Birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live.
 • Ever notice that the people who are late are often much jollier than the peple who have to wait for them?
 • If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?
 • Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
 • Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 • Don't worry about what people think; they don't do it very often.
 • It isn't the jeans that make your butt look fat.
 • Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
 • My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
 • Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
 • A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel good.
 • Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it again.
    And it puts a spring in my step to know that The Frantics, Canada's greatest sketch comedy troupe ever (forget The Kids In The Hall, though one of the Frantics was a producer for their show), has re-grouped after 15 years and is gearing up for a tour. I don't know how many shows they'll play in the States, but if they do (or when they come to Vancouver, British Columbia) I will certainly be there. I'm sorry to see the greatest fansite for The Frantics, geocities dot com slash franticsfan, has its traffic hijacked by a porn site (frantics dot net), but maybe the author will find a way to fix that now that he has some new news to report... --#2

    Just want to mention an update to the Other Files section (and corresponding tweak to the 2002 Past Days page to add a link): In the April 30, 2002 Daybook entry I'd mentioned how I left my mark on a Fortune 500 company. In rummaging around through a box of memories, I came across one of the souvenirs from that experience (the note that came up on the printer every day when powering on the computer), which I've scanned and posted here. It's yellowish in the JPG because the dot-matrix ink had faded so badly I had to adjust the contrast to make it visible; the original's paper is still plain white. A tip of the red Hut baseball cap to shift manager and Sammy Squirrel wrangler 'Jay Edwards' (Jason Moore) for snagging this off the printer for me one morning.
    Also added to Text Philes: yet another Night Before Christmas tale, this one kinda raunchy but it came from 'Roxy' (Roxanne Davidson) so that's to be expected. --#2

    First, a shameless plug for my high school junior year locker partner's project: All of you readers in the Northwest, please come see Ken Harder & Scott Milam's feature film Big City Dick at the Seattle International Film Fest, playing at The Egyptian [805 East Pine St., Seattle – (206)781-5755] on Monday May 31st at 9 p.m. It stars Richard Peterson, Jeff Bridges, Johnny Mathis; Ross Shafer, Pat Cashman, John Keister (Almost Live), Scott McCaughey (R.E.M./Young Fresh Fellows), and Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots).

Official movie site : Movie trailer : SIFF's film description : Other SIFF info

    Instead of a sordid story, I was thinking about horror stories that very nearly came true. I was discussing the subject years ago with a neighbor, who said that he cringes when looks back on how he and his siblings would light cherry bombs and throw them into a ravine nonchalently. I definitely understand that feeling; I cringe when I think about the time in my senior year of high school I was trying to get the nearly-gone fuse on an M-80 re-lit once... had it worked, it would have blown my hand and face off a split second later. (I may not believe in guardian angels but that night I definitely had a few working on my case.) Second to that moment was the time my father was using one of those flat-blade edger tools right where my hand was as I pulled out the grass he'd cut; he nearly shit his pants, but the soft dirt let my hand sink in rather than lop my fingers off. And I recall the time that the guy I sat next to in the fifth grade put a pin (the kind used to hold a hem) into the crook of his arm and slowly moved his hand to his shoulder – I couldn't bring myself to look away, and by some twist of fate the pin (which must have had angels dancing on its head?) didn't pierce his skin thus he didn't start bleeding profusely from the elbow like in a bad blood drawing. It seems that since then, many of the terrible moments I've faced have been less life-threatening but also wind up coming true.
    So more or less on a whim last weekend, I jerryrigged my Apple //GS which has been dismantled on a shelf for years to communicate directly with my Windows 2000 PC – two serial cables, a null modem block, a gender bender, and terminal programs running on both – so I could get some more files off the old media. As a result, there will be a little more material coming to the R.A.T. Philes area (plus I know that one of the files currently here has an error, which I can now fix), some more BBS Text Files from back in the day – so far I've added Alfred E. Neuman's face, the MIASS memo, and fun stuff to do at Walmart – and a little noodling about a bunch of journal entries I created in 1997 based on situations and emotions I've attempted to forget, plus some rather comedic captured chats from throughout the 1990's which don't fit the format of this site but might be quoted in the Daybook sometime. Stay tuned for the fun. --#2

    The ironies of the day all fit the old maxim that says you can't please everyone. First one: When John Kerry came back from Vietnam in 1971, he participated in a war protest wherein he threw some of the awards he received for going to that battle away in a public ceremony. Later he said he threw away the ribbons, not the medals as previously stated. So there are two parties which are upset with him: the people who think that throwing away a military decoration is unpatriotic, and the people who think that SAYING he threw it away but DID NOT is dishonest. All I can say in response to the latter group is: Please don't tell me you're sticking up for the guy who went AWOL when his unit was called, then LIED about his service record (then was summarily proven to be lying by the FOIA release of the records he claimed were lost in a fire!). Next one: The folks who claim that a recent broadcast of the names of the people who have died in Iraq to date "undermines the war effort" and is politically motivated. Gee, I don't know if honoring those who have fought in a war could possibly cause the war to stop suddenly but it's worth a shot, but it is nice to see the 'liberal' media which has been a little too right-wing the last three years actually start acting in a 'liberal' fashion for once. Next one: The folks who are outraged at a Barbara Walters special where a 16 year old girl is going to put her baby up for open adoption. First, you can't tell me the adoption system isn't already a lottery. Second, I can agree with you about the presentation being more 'reality programming' than documentary, but this is television afterall. Third, if this really galls you that much, march your happy asses to your local agency and adopt a child who isn't a cute little baby – there are thousands of children between ages 2 and 17 who need a gawddamn parent in their lives so you can be part of the solution. And if you can't find such an agency, go have lunch at a Wendy's restaurant and look at the displays around the entrance; the late Dave Thomas left you plenty of information on what you can do. (A related irony: I'm not upset by the show, and frankly I'm envious of the baby for being in an open adoption. That was not an option when I came into the world and the volume which I have never known has affected me my whole life.) Best one: Dick Cheney was dissing on John Kerry's voting record regarding some devices of war because Kerry had voted against funding; Kerry replied something to the effect of, "check the record – Cheney voted against it too."
    I've been talking to my old friend Bertie lately, the last 1980's summer-camp camper I still communicate with, about life's pitfalls, and the other day I was digging through my box of memories looking for something (and found something else I thought I lost 12 years ago!) and came across one of her first letters from 1986 and her 1998 wedding announcement back-to-back. It always makes me smile when I think about how we met because it just proves you really can't predict where life is going to take you. She and I had been going to Lazy F for a few years, but hadn't ever really crossed paths before. In 1986 we had been sort of friendly to one another because we had mutual interests: I was close with this shy guy by the name of Todd, and she had brought her friend Robin to camp that year. I wanted to get to know Robin better, and Bertie had this crush on Todd. The week passes, and neither of really made any headway with the people we were interested in – but Todd and Robin were now hanging out together! I thought that situation was totally cheesy, but as much as it made me squirm I decided to be happy for my friend instead of resentful of either. Bertie meanwhile was not impressed at all, and as I was walking toward my cabin after the campfire I saw her standing on the bridge over the Manastash Creek, facing downstream at the railing and looking hurt. I came up and talked to her, the first real conversation we'd had after a week's worth of simple stuff, wherein she let on that she too thought it was unfair that Robin, who knew who Bertie was interested in, came along and swooped Todd up. I said that I knew the feeling, since Todd was aware of my interest in Robin. And a friendship was born as we spent a few minutes commiserating twisted fate, before some counselor came along to tell us to report to our own cabins for the night. :) When we got home from camp, I sent her a poem about how whacked things were – with an illustration similar to an upside-down ironing board showing the lines of attraction between the boys and the girls in this equasion; she said it was so beautiful I made her cry. In the subsequent 18 years she and I haven't always been in frequent conversation and have only been in the same room a couple times, but we've never really lost touch of one another or stopped caring for each other. (Todd and Robin, though, they were friends – nothing more if what they'd said was true – for a year or two after camp, and I saw them at a church rally in October 1986 where they were so inseparable I referred to them as the unit "Toddnrobin" while Bertie says that when Ephrata would play Soap Lake in sports those two would be seen together in the bleachers.) I may feel as though I don't have any friends in my daily existance, but it's comforting to know that the few friends I do have (and have had for over a decade) still are significant to me no matter how geographically far away they may get. --#2

Chrome #1 writes us from Far Away, half of which addresses some fanmail the site received which went to the email address associated with this webspace but we never check; we didn't discover the note until the physical location of the site was being moved. Apologies to those who used the direct route to the webspace as #2 wanted everyone to do and are stuck seeing the same page or no page at all every time they hit their bookmark – now he's requesting everyone use the address. Cheers to those who ignored him and never noticed the change. For the record, email should go to writerat AT doitnow DOT com and you really should leave something in the Guestbook Thingie for us. Bracketed parts were inserted by Mushroom to clarify context.
   Dear SGT Younger: Glad you enjoyed the reading. If my pain can cause amusement for anyone then it has some value, no? ;-) A bit more seriously though, pretty much anything you can get your hands on [about computer jobs with the military] wouldn't hurt. While there's a whole lot of different jobs that you could get, the two big things I've seen needed so far are basic hardware/software troubleshooting and networking. There are no books in particular that I'd recommend, just spend a bit of time in a decent bookstore looking around.
   Since my unit hit ground two weeks ago, my section has been called on to fix pretty much everything from DOS systems on up to WinXP, with an odd UNIX box or two in the mix. We're still running cable in buildings or tenants that aren't done moving in yet, and have been lucky enough to have some 802.11 wireless routers we can use to save on cable between buildings. I think what was the most fun so far was helping to install the satellite hookup for our internet drop.
   Something else to bear in mind... while some of the instructors, and *ahem* poorly written class material school was an almost constant source of frustration, the classes supposedly got much better over the next few months after I graduated. As long as it's been since then, I can't guess what the course quality looks like by now. Last but not least, I sometimes feel the urge to post some corrections to my mistakes in that log. If I wait a bit, the urge passes. Thanks for the note.
   [Now for the rest of you...  People have wondered what they can/should send this soldier.] For the most part, small items that we need can be had at the post exchange. While supply convoys across country have been having a LOT of problems lately, we're not really hurting for baby wipes, soap & deodorant as of yet. There's been a few things I couldn't find recently, but at the moment they escape me. [You can send anything kosher, but bear in mind that there's a plane trip for packages so] planning for an unpressurized cargo hold is probably a good idea. If the U.S. Post Office will take it, then in theory it should be fine. Military mail handlers (and the military mail system as a whole) are supposed to (more or less) hold to the same standards as the regular postal system.
   [And how is life in a combat zone?] Eh, so far I'm seeing a lot of leeway being given as far as odd behavior goes. Go figure, hell of a lot of people under unreasonable stress. Not seen too much outright broken behavior as of yet though. --#1

    The newspaper was correct; I have received a couple emails from Chrome, who made it to Camp Anaconda AFB in Balad, Iraq a few days ago as part of the "81st BCT [Brigade Combat Team], formerly 81st Infantry Brigade (Provisional), formerly 81st Seperate Armor Brigade (Enhanced) (Heavy); [the] unit keeps getting re-designated, and I'm wondering if there's going to be anything left by the time we get done with this year" he says. He'll write something up for here in the future. The BDOC at NTC picture found in the Gallery of this here site was taken in California; he says there could be some photos from Iraq coming in the future, and that he doesn't appear in any of the pictures he took in Kuwait in March so nothing to share from that leg of the trip. Also as of this writing, Anaconda's site is still up with no mention on the front page of its fate come tomorrow (and I haven't delved into the message base). It was a relief to me and likely his family (and definitely him!) that his assignment has changed to something a little safer: "After we hit ground here, I managed to get my old job back. Playing with computers is a hell of a lot lower stress than playing radio operator for batallion staff."
    You may remember, or not, that in the 11/16/01 Daybook entry (scroll down a little) the hophead across the street said I had "killed the fuck" out of the dogwood tree in my front yard by cutting it from nuisance-in-the-powerlines to manageable-and-aesthetic. That tree hasn't bloomed since then... until today. It now sort of resembles a magnolia. It just took a couple years to rebound. Guess I won't need a chainsaw afterall, bub, though your house and yard still could use a backhoe... I thought Mom was moving out before the roof finished caving in and the County condemned that property?
    I'm having second thoughts about my chosen career, technical support (the kind where people call me or I pay them a visit). Not that I have to think much about it at all because nearly all the phone support jobs have gone overseas, and the in-person geeks are turning out to be a dime a dozen here, but my point is that I'm losing my fluff iness. In the last week I've helped two people who are close to me (familially and geographically) with their nonexistant computer problems, and it now bugs me just how people react around the hardware if they're not familiar with it. I can't name names because they may pound me :-P but haysoos crispies, read the gawddamn screen before you call me. One insisted her computer was slow: the problem was she was going to her bank's website (like most banks the page was 128-bit encrypted, thus the computer has to load up a bunch of information from the site in order to establish a secure link and it's for your own protection) and she'd click on the same links when they were 3/4 of the way done loading (this was IE6 so there's a nice colorful status barometer at the bottom of the screen), thus they'd start reloading and nothing ever finished... she was impatient AND the 'issue' was her own fault. The other person needed assistance getting AOL set up: er, the computer came with AOL preinstalled, so all it took was clicking the big button – not an icon, this button took up 1/8 of the screen (reminiscent of that Dilbert strip where the salesman says "we've simplified the process; there's one big red button onscreen, and it was pushed at the factory") – and filling in her personal details... AOL was created for people like her, and taking a moment to read the text/directions onscreen is too much? When I start to tell stories like this to non-geek friends they make noises like I'm not being courteous to the newbies and I'm jaded because I'm 'computer-smart', but then I tell them to hang on a minute so I can finish the stories, then they realize I'm not being h4x0r-1337, and see that the subjects genuinely are not engaging their brains... and they too join in the chant with "wow, that was pretty dumb, yeah." I mean no offense to anyone reading this right now who doesn't feel up to snuff with their Windows or Internet usage skills; the very fact that you're reading this right now exempts you from the above complaints, thus you're a lot more savvy than you may think you are. My computer prof in college (1986-1991, ergo Windows 3.1 and higher or Pentium-class processors didn't even exist) said that his goal was to make his students into GURUS that people would seek out for knowledge. That much has happened, and it makes me happy to be considered a knowledgeable reference as well as a problem-solver. But the problems at the time were much more challenging. Computers have sufficently dumbed-down on the user interface level, so there's a big difference between "I can connect but nothing works after that" or "the computer doesn't finish starting up" (call me) and "I'm installing a program and the screen says 'Click Next', should I click Next?" or "I'm getting error box that says 'Invalid Password, please retype your password and try again'" (DON'T call me, I'll only repeat exactly what's in front of you). I apologise that this isn't some great sordid story from the past, and you've seen this rant before. What I'm trying to say here is that unless I find a job behind the scenes using computers, fixing stuff for employees instead of the public, I'm having serious misgivings about my desire to do my selected vocation or anything similar to it, yet don't have an alternate path in mind to pursue... and that frightens me. --#2

    "You know what burns my ass?", Dolly Parton asked in the movie 9 to 5; "Flames about yay high." What burns my ass is getting my ass burned by having the wrong information and acting upon it. I can't tell you how many times I've done some research on a subject (I didn't just go by gossip, I went to what should have been reliable sources) and then discovered that my sources, and thus my presumption, and thereby my subsequent actions, didn't agree with what turned out to be the facts. That happened to me the other day and I haven't yet shaken the dizziness of being spun around when I found out how wrong I was. I don't care to elaborate, I would prefer to leave bad decisions in the past because dwelling upon them gets in the way of moving toward the future [yes, that was me who just uncharacteristically said "I don't want to talk about something stupid I did once"], but suffice it to say that while there is no "I" in "team", according to the affirmation tossed around in business, there is still a "me" in "team" that one should preserve because the rest of the team will not since they're too busy doing that themselves.
    No, I haven't heard anything from R.A.T. #1, Chrome, but according to the newspaper his group has moved from Kuwait to Iraq. Not a pleasant thought since (much like here, for me) you never know who you can trust no matter how friendly they are, but he told me before he left the States that he'll be in a safe location doing background work. Judging by his history with the service, I'd take such a happy belief with a grain of salt (when has anything the Army/Guard said anything truthful to him?), then wish him the best because he's a great guy with far more skills and smarts than me... and that's part of why I hang around with him, he's an educational experience for me. :) I just checked out the unofficial website for where he is stationed, and the soldier who put up the site has been alerted that he personally can't be responsible for an open information source out of security concerns so I hope that Hatch (the webmaster) finds a buyer for his site – can be civilian or a military Public Affairs office – so the message base and image galleries can remain up after 20 April.
    One of the dumber situations encountered, which present affairs bring to mind, was the time years ago when I was in contact with this young woman in another state 1000 miles away. Information from her family was sketchy at times, but I knew them so I would catch her up. Well, there was dischord in the local end at one time so I let the person know that her step-mother had moved out of her father's house and they were planning a divorce. (And that is what happened later on.) Soon after, I got this huge reaming by both of those parental units because it wasn't my job to tell her anything... which may have been true, but they didn't exactly have a good answer to my return question, "so when were you going to get around to telling her?" I hate it when liars are taken as the good-guys and the truth-tellers are seen as the bad-guys; things never turn out good for either side once the parties being lied to find out.  --#2

    The other day when I was coming home from work, I encountered this large yardsale in a small yard around an old mobile home. You name it, they might have had it. So along with the Barbie Doll Case (circa 1961) where the girl had scratched Barbie's name out and written "Midge" in – I always preferred your friends, bitch, I could picture the female trailer-owner sitting on the porch saying 40 years ago – and some soda bottles from the 1970's, a battery-powered slide viewer which magnifies, and of course a non-Tyco made Magic 8-Ball because I need more toys at my desk at work, I found an uninterruptable power supply for $3: an APC Back-UPS 450, which the male trailer-owner said he'd never used and had been obtained by his daughter when a hospital shut down (along with this HP laserprinter he did say he'd tried and it worked, but I passed on that item). Long story short, the electronics worked fine but the sealed lead-acid cells inside [same design as a newer car battery] had cracked on the bottom thus the acid had leaked out and they would not hold a charge. The manufacturer wants $52 to a replacement + shipping, a Yahoo! merchant wants $50 + shipping, and this all-sortsa-batteries store near the Mall surprisingly not only carries them but sells them for $40. We have a winner... The doll case will be sold on eBay soon. The rest of the stuff is mine! and my bride and I spent an hour looking at her collection of family slides from looong ago, commenting after each just how good or hideous people looked. Sorta makes me want to see those 8mm silent films my father shot of us kids in the early-to-mid-1970's again.
    Lest it not be made permanent no matter how often it was said 20 years ago: Kayo Trepanier is a dick. Put that in your Google search and suck it. For those who didn't attend Eisenhower High School in the 1980's, he was the laziest and most useless gym teacher I've ever met. I know, it's been a long time to still be spiteful, but some spites and some people's stupidity you never get over (as you can tell).
    The story I meant to tell last week and couldn't remember during the brain-stultifying meeting goes like this... As a youth I attended Rallies, which were the twice-yearly weekend extentions of summer camp which transpired at select churches across the countryside. We'd arrive on Friday evening and leave on Sunday afternoon, and we'd sleep in the church on Friday night then some members of the church would host each of us in their homes on Saturday night. One such Rally, which I think was in Selah WA, I wound up spending Saturday night in the furnished basement slash gameroom of some strangers with this guy I'd known for a few years from Prosser. Let's call him Peter, since I don't want to try to look him up in my box o' memories. Peter liked to style himself as a stoner and outlaw (as much of either of those things one can possibly be in the sleepy woebegone town of Prosser), and after we got to our destination and had finished playing air hockey we laid down in our sleeping bags to tell sordid stories (and I still remember part of the one about his friend who tried to get a kiss from a street-savvy chick who instead suddenly cut him from ear to ear). I don't recall what tale I was telling him, but there were some sexual overtones to it and he wanted a demonstration of whatever action the story entailed. I politely declined and hoped he'd drop the subject, which happily he did, but I figured I shouldn't fall completely asleep regardless. In the morning we were playing some more air hockey and chatting away, when this female voice says, "You boys ready for breakfast?" Shock, surprise, looking around frantically, realizing that there's an air vent directly over our heads which leads to the kitchen, replying in the affirmative. Peter leans over the air hockey table and stage-whispers, "Shit, do you think they heard what we were talking about last night??" I replied wide-eyed that I didn't know, but thought to myself, "what you mean 'we', kemosabe? I wasn't the one making homosexual propositions!", and we went upstairs for breakfast and our return to the church.  --#2

    I found myself in a meeting today, where someone high up in the corporation gave us a PowerPoint presentation about the future of the service end of the business, and there were no less than 30 people in this room the size of a broom closet to witness it. Despite there being plenty of ventilation and the subject matter of the presentation being fascinating and informative, honest to Jah my blood was turning to slush. I blame for this, because during my stint there we did trainings in a small room without ventilation, thus after 45 minutes all vestages of fresh air were gone and by the every-two-hours breaktime we were couldn't get outside fast enough because we were so lethargic. (Michelle the instructor must have sucked all the oxygen from the room with her jibbah-jabbah, because she never seemed tired.) Anyhow, I had my notepad in front of me and I was thinking, "we're not going to be tested, my brain is turning to Silly Putty, and if my arm moves maybe the rest of me won't rust solid like the Tin Man in The Wizard Of Oz... oil can! oil can!" I tried to remember what I was thinking of yesterday which seemed a great Daybook story, but for the life of me that was one image my Silly Putty couldn't lift off the page. I did have plenty of great random thoughts, trapped in that rapidly locking body and energy-draining roundtable. Here are a few of which, and I don't claim they make any sense but you never know:
    I wish I could have gone out with Kharma Clifford back in the day, but it was never an option. I hate the things you can't change, such as who people think you are when you're growing up, and that you can't change them even after everything else changes, such as how she's now a friggin' fox who I'm told joined the Justice Attorney General. Who I did go out with (sorta) back in the day was Alene Thalheimer, and I was always in denial about being in love with her... yes, I was; there, I said it. I hope she's not still living with her folks at the age of 33, she had clear eyes and a good (if irregularly-beating) heart. Something most people don't know about me is that I love words that don't get much use in the language, and oaf is by far my favorite... when was the last time you heard someone called an oaf? And is a group of lumbering dumb guys an "oaven hoard"? I call 'em that. And the biggest oaf I know is Kimie, not just for the two times we were supposed to get together for a little hoo-hah decades ago and she chickened out, but because she's still choosing dumbasses over substance... but this isn't my problem. The liking for words thought came about because of something the presenter said which several of us wrote down (it was the only thing I wrote down pertinent to the meeting) which was so off-the-wall: "For many of you, these calls are not your hedgehog." We could only presume by context that "hedgehog" was synonymous to "cup of tea" (or as Manfred Mann sang, "cup of meat") and not a reference to Ron Jeremy, who was in town last Saturday and an article about how his appearance at a local adult toystore drew 1,200 people appeared in the paper 5 days later. That was weird, I'm sitting at a table with Janine (worked with at Mindspring) and at the next table is Dominic (worked with at Mindspring) who calls out to us that Pat Inniss (hired me at Mindspring) just walked by the lunchroom doorway... I met up with him in the hall and we chatted, and it turns out this job he has now, with a test-grading company which shares the same building as where I work, is the first job he's had since he too got ejected from that ISP a year ago. I felt a little sorry for him but not a lot sorry. Target sells these plug-in nightlights in the shape of Lava-Lamps and function similarly (filled with plastic glitter which circulates with the fluid as it rises from the bulb's heat), but are only available in green, blue, and pink... and when plugged in and turned on, they're not the same color as they look when off because the bulb inside is clear. I fixed that, it took me a few minutes to find a green bulb that was small enough in the Christmas supplies but I located one, so now it looks wonderful. I need to get another big bag of cocoa bean hulls (see this popular brand for a description & explanation) because the three I laid down in the strip out front came out too thin – each bag is supposed to cover 2 cubic feet, which translates as 6' wide x 8' long x 2" high (it's six feet from the house to the lawn, and the bag recommends a two inch layer to block weed seed germination) and I went 20 feet so there should have been plenty of excess but there wasn't and I have bare spots. I checked the local seller's website, it said they'd be open until 6pm, and when I dashed there straight from work they were locking the gate; it was 5:40pm. Spring hours as listed start in one week so I have to wait until this weekend to buy a bag, grrr. I still can't remember what the wonderful story I was going to tell was, but I can say the bean dip someone brought in for us is working... ripping a few ripe ones in this confined area should end the meeting quicker.
    Had a dream / It was war / And they couldn't tell us what it was for / It was something they could lie about / Something we could die about... — Roger Hodgeson (lead singer of Supertramp gone solo), "In The Eye Of The Storm"   --#2

    I got the issue with the URL forwarding fixed a couple days ago, so yaaay. [If you noticed that didn't come to this site, but instead went to Laughter Is The Spackle Of The Soul, things are better and the stupid navbar I've been kvetching about for three years is gone now! If you didn't notice it, you didn't miss much.] And over the weekend I replaced the faucet in the back bathroom's sink – the one that's only used for guests and washing up after cleaning the catbox stationed a few feet away from it – because it tended to spray everywhere but down plus was rusting away from the inside. I can't say I have a new respect for plumbers, but I did make two observations: a) The reason why they get paid so much is because of the patience they have to exhibit when solving a leak problem which won't go away easily, the strength they have to use to get corroded connections unconnected (such as the rusted bolts and nuts under that sink) and contortions it takes in tight areas to get them out, and whatever training and Union dues come out of their funds; b) yes, they are mooning you on purpose, because plenty of calls they get are from people who simply don't want to do something or are not sure how to do something, which is the same reason janitors are often paid better than the workers in the offices they clean up.
    When my family first moved to Toppenish in 1976, I looked around for friendly faces, and while Elliott Baker was the first I found (a sadist that collected live frogs from storm drains and lived two blocks away) the second was a younger guy by the name of Eric Hatfield. He lived three blocks away from me across this field, back in the days before the entire neighborhood was a neighborhood, and we would get together and ride our bikes through the many trails in the field or walk to this big depression in the ground at the far edge of the field near the old hop mill. This was our 'fort', hewn under a large tree and within yards of a boggy thicket of cattails and reeds. Sometimes we had to be careful when visiting our special place because duck hunters (another "back in the days before..." feature) thought the place made a good duckblind. He had two younger siblings, and he explained that "sex made babies beautiful", which implied to me that his understanding of life was similar to how any chicken can lay eggs but only the ones that have been with a rooster can produce chicks. He claimed that the field was his own, ergo his name of Hatfield, and as a sort of proof when I found a silver dollar sticking out of the ground I showed it to him and he took it, flung it back into the field, and said he'd put several out there awhile back. The gesture surprised me since it was probably the first unselfish, unmaterialistic act I'd witnessed among my peers. Our friendship lasted a few months, as far as I can recall, because his family moved away before that winter. I never really got a chance, at age eight, to thank him for showing me the wonders of that large vacant lot which mostly no longer exists and being the first honestly cool person I met upon arrival in that new horizon. Today's kids seldom get a chance to run free, to get dirty, to wander through the underbrush and ride their bikes around without their parents' chapperoning; today's neighborhoods are running out of large brushy lots and naturally-occurring duckponds (the kind with naturally-occurring duck hunters, instead of the current version: perfectly preened lawns around the pond, with an aerating pump to make a fountain pretty and keep the 'skeeters out, and the pond is manually positioned near the complex's front gate). Today's kids are really missing something.  --#2

    We moved into this house on October 27, 2000 (see a few photos in the Gallery for the wonderment) and part of the process was hauling boxes of stuff from the moving van into the bedroom/office I'm writing this from. Basically if it belonged to me and belonged in here (or not) I plunked it down on the floor. It's 2004 and little of that stuff had moved. So over this last weekend I acquired some GORM [formerly known as STEN?] buy-what-you-need shelving – 6 beams, 14 shelves, 2 metal braces – and took 1/6 of Sunday moving stuff out, half of Sunday building the shelving to my sartorial desires, and 1/3 of Sunday sorting through the boxes and bags before putting them on the shelves daintily. You could practically hear the bass riff from the before/after shots of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy when you walked in the room afterwards. Of course my wife, being the "it's nice you've accomplished your goals, but have you accomplished mine?" woman she is, took one look, gasped, danced around on the hardwood in places formerly inaccessable, and said, "But you still have ten boxes of mushroom kitchenware under the window and your computer table is a mess!" (No, I don't know why I have dozens of Krówka candy wrappers under the monitor. I just do, 'k?)
    A tip of the hat to my junior-year locker partner, Kenny Harder, who made the papers for his part in the filming of Big City Dick: Richard Peterson's First Movie and his fellow Beesh, Scott Milam. It's always nice to know that someone you hung out with in your teen years has done good with their life, especially when they were such a wanker back in the day. :) Way to go, Ken! (And on the off-chance you read this, dude: Yeah, I'm not through transferring those Beesh and Ken Again albums to CD yet, I'm a lazy ass. I've been at halfway through for a year or so now. Wayne did one of the albums for me but I can't %@*#&!! find the CD he sent...)
    For about a week I've planned to tell the story here about Trent Ocobock, but much like the man himself the story lacks a point. I know, you're used to my stories not having a point <g> but I'm serious; usually when I tell some anecdote it's funny, or there's a moral lesson, or I have some noodling that states or implies that I wonder how the person is doing and wish them well. That's not the case here: I have some amusing notes, the lesson might be that the PSA about "this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs, any questions?" are correct, and I don't particularly care to know what's become of him. He was one of the clean-cut boys I chatted on the Yakima BBS's with, an only child with an Apple //c and a lugnut loose. Over time he changed his personality about as often as some people change their underwear, which is to say every six weeks after he'd worn the current one out, going from wanting to join the ministry to wanting to join Ministry. And to give some credit, speaking of Alain & Paul, he introduced me to Ministry and all their splinter groups and collaborations (I'm still a big fan of Lead Into Gold) – including an unknown by the name of Trent Reznor who had put out an album alone under the name Nine Inch Nails, which the mainstream media did not pay much attention to for another year or two. (Trent O. believed that "Terrible Lie" was written about our friend Kim Ferguson and he might have been right: he was cybersexing her, I was cybersexing her, and she was sharing the logs of these sessions with the gloomy headcase she liked/disliked, Sam Zamarippa, for laughs.) He went from Depeche Mode to Grateful Dead, then sort of stuck there at the Dead. He also met a woman by the name of Nikki, got his picture in the Yakima paper while he was washing his VW Microbus, moved out of his parents' house, and disappeared... years later, I saw him at a street festival in Seattle, still with Nikki, with a rasta-afro and beard, with patchouli essence hiding the scent of the pot he was selling as a full-time job in Bellingham. He was always a card online, having created an account on a Christian BBS under the name "Shit Knob" (and the sysops didn't say anything about it) and publicly claiming one day that his last name was derived from the Irish O'Cobock then three months later publicly claiming [for those who missed it?] that his last name was derived from the German Auchobach – though I will always agree more with what Chad (author of I'm So Breathless) called him: Oco-blockhead. Some people are cyphers, encryptions, deductions... they don't know who they are or what they should be. The Reality Avoidance Therapists have always looked to people such as this for either inspiration or amusement, with the occasional fit of annoyance because they're examples of "bad R.A.T." (folks who aren't aware that they're living behind a fa&ccedit;ade but everyone else knows, as opposed to "good R.A.T.", which is when one knows they're telling themself a lie in order to get through the day). While most bad-R.A.T. cases are trying to impress others, Trent was the unusual case because the only one he really wanted to convince he was special was himself (and to everyone else, it was just shock value, or outright stupidity like the time he got a 'Batley' doll from Pizza Hut when they had a Eureeka's Castle promotion and told everyone he was treating it like his baby). He wanted to be a Goth, but unfortunately since the real Goths of Yakima and elsewhere didn't associate with him, he knew nothing of the matter and during his short Goth phase referred to himself as a "back-caver" (he meant "bat-caver" but even then I've never heard anyone who wears a lot of black use that word). He wanted to be a priest but liked the secular thrills too much, and it seems what he was best suited for was to become a post-era hippie burnout... which isn't exactly saying something complimentary, except that it was something he could do right and feel good about, and happiness with one's self at last should never be underestimated. Like I warned you at the beginning of this paragraph, I have no point to make, I'm just talking about someone I knew who made me think on occasion and never quite seemed to settle on his own identity.
    What I've learned so far from banking: It's rediculous the number of people who believe in deficit spending. Seriously, if you know you don't have money in the bank, and you've even confirmed that fact (through an automated teller, phone system, or a live person like me or a bank's teller), why in blazes would you go out and spend more money on non-essentials? Then have the yarbs to call the bank to request the overdraft fees be waived the next day? Totally amazing how some folks live.  --#2

    As promised a week ago, I have created a new section of the website to show off The Pimpin' Life of Bill Ding – an orphaned advertising mascot from the late 1960's for a small-town hardware store. If you have any information about this wooden man or a few of his other images laying around, please pass me a note at this site's email drop (see front page). I'm also interested in print advertisements for the brain tonic by Miles Labs called "Nervine" out of newspapers and magazines; there's just something beautiful about their ads from the 1910's through 1950's (the product was made from 1884 by Dr. Miles himself through 1999 by Bayer, by which time the ingredients hadn't changed much (just a little less antihistamine) but the purpose had: it went from being the original "Mother's Little Helper" to being called a sleep aid, since sleep aids are sold over the counter and sedatives no longer are). If I get some more advertising material and inspiration, I'll make a whole wing for this sort of thing but for now it's just Bill alone. And if you happen to be reading my page, James Lileks: Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, no?
    Names Changed To Protect The Guilty Department: In my second year of college, I was spending nearly all of my social time with friends from high school. (All my friends in college either had to take care of their families or were getting high, or both, so I had to stick with the less worldly folk to have any good clean fun at all... such as it was.) One of my dear friends was gay and owned a vehicle, and we would go out to the adult bookstores and such looking for good material. Most of what he bought was straight porn (any video that rated well in Hustler magazine, any magazine that particularly tittilated us or he figured would appeal to someone he knew) but there was a time he came away from one of these excursions with a hardcore guy-guy series magazine. The real title was stupid, so we referred to the publication as "Bucky & Skippy, The Valley Boys, F*ck Each Other Silly." He kept this magazine at my house, since his denial-is-a-river mother would probably excrete a railroad tie if she found it, and it usually resided under a couch cushion. He had a boyfriend that he needed some private moments with and couldn't find it in the usual avenues at that time (the guy's mom or sister must have been home, since that's where they usually did their business) so I offered my apartment for use while I was in class. Even if you trust someone implicitly, you might not know the people that person brings over, so you should still lock up your valuables... but I didn't really consider that, since the guy my friend was with wasn't too bad a person. (The guy did swipe a condom from me, which was NOT used for their amusement I'm told, but that's more or less forgiveable.) What none of us counted on, it turns out, was that that guy's best friend Ralph had followed them to my place. Ralph wanted despirately to have what other people had, and this included physical attention from males but he wasn't about to admit it. [Eventually he found it but he, uh, forgot to ask the guy for it first. He was involuntarily out of sight and out of mind for nearly a decade after that.] So after my friend and his mate had done their deeds, with Ralph possibly watching through the curtains, the guys left and Ralph came in. I was displeased with the removal of this white-ink pen (I had this stack of black stationery paper, see...) which he used on people's Pee-Chees shortly after so he wasn't able to deny he had it, but the most bothersome thing he took was Bucky & Skippy! My friend and I searched that couch a couple times, pulling it all apart (it was a hide-a-bed so this was easy), and we never saw the magazine again. But we did get proof that Ralph was a klepto and that he secretly liked guys, so Valuable Information was gained. My friend may still live with his mom, but now he keeps his male porn hidden at home.
    Oh, since you asked... No, I haven't heard much new from R.A.T. #1 in the last week. Yes, I am still in training with the large financial corporation, and it never ceases to amaze me just how conservative and dull some people are. To my surprise I am keeping my New Year's resolution, which was to start getting more exercise when the weather warmed up, because across the street from my work is a very large mall which was constructed in a circle, and every day I venture over there during lunch and go mall-walking. I don't know if I've lost any weight yet but I can say that my joints are rather stiff first thing in the morning now, so I must be on the right track. I'll keep up the good work on both the exercise and the job I go do exercise to get away from. So much to learn there! And another bit of trivial good news: the violets out back are blooming violently (yes, in late February!). I'll hunt up some recipes, so I can follow Man's basic desire to find beauty then eat it.  --#2

    It's been a tough week for The Mushroom, R.A.T. #2. It starts out on Sunday with seeing my dear friend Chrome, R.A.T. #1, head off to Iraq (well, a month's stop in California to prepare first) for a year when he should have been out of the military already or failing that out this April. Later that same day, stupid things transpired which I don't want to talk about but I'll merely say that it's not wise to scratch where it itches when you're alone in an elevator, because you never know who might be watching through the hidden security camera and want to discuss it with you. Monday was a holy day of rest wherein I discovered how well Ambien works on my body: 10mg will keep me content for about 4 hours, but then I'm up again. Tuesday saw two wonderful events – the beginning of a new job at a bank's call center, and the first new episode of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy this year. I'm only gonna say that since I took computer courses in high school, not accounting, this whole financial schtick is new to me and there's a lot to absorb over the next twelve weeks of training. I'll be glad when it's over because although my shift (once I am a real employee) starts at 11:00am, I'm supposed to be there for training every day at 8:00am which means I have to leave the house to fight traffic around 7:15am if I take the backroads and earlier if I take 167 like a normal person. But we've already ascertained I'm not a normal person this week, so I'll suck it in just like I did with and put up with a re-cock-ulous morning routine until April. I'm not sure I'll ever get over/used-to the notion of having the company's logo as my computer's required desktop background, that's just wrong.  Wednesday gave testament to whether I can handle the morning commute and learn fiduciary data; Thursday I had off only to find out I didn't need to take it off but that fact was well worth taking the day off to find out... plus I got my hair cut, and that's important; Friday marked the end of my first week of training, 11 to go!, and afterwards my bride and I went to the SuperMall to shop for shoes because these Nunn Bush things I've been putting on for weddings and funerals are killing my tootsies. (Business Casual isn't by any means casual and even Dress-Down Fridays aren't what you'd consider dressed down but such is life – gotta love putting on your Sunday best to work in a place where no one worthwhile sees you. It's a call center, capisce? I've derived that the worse an item of clothing feels, the more professional it is. The formula is success = pain.) I'm a man in comfortable shoes, at last. It's pretty wild, I know 4 of my fellow trainees already: three worked at Earthlink (myself and another guy were in Tech Support, two women were in Customer Service) and one worked at Amazon (we were even on the same team). Today is Saturday and my accomplishments include e-filing our tax return (my not working half the year and my having to take a $200 loss for cashing out a 401(k) didn't do as much harm as I thought it would) and destroying a friend's computer – er, I mean, taking apart this computer a friend had inherited to tell him what the components are so he can download drivers, and while I was cleaning the grunge out of the CPU fan after I'd pulled the CPU out and wiped off the heat sink goo to tell him what kind of processor it is the dorkus stepped on the chip. The bright side is that he can get a slightly faster CPU now as soon as he has some spare bucks... not that he has much choice in the matter if he wants the computer to compute a-tall.
    Coming soon to this site: As longtime readers are aware, I'm a big fan of James Lileks' Institute Of Official Cheer subsite as well as his main site's Bleat. (And no, the Interior Desecrators stuff hasn't returned yet. Duude...!) A quick read of Say Something Cryptic makes it evident that I'm not merely inspired by his writing style but also with his fascination with old newspapers, as seen in the Old Ads page. The yearly-changing graphic found on the opening page of this site and loose graphic on the Rant page were inspired by the Orphanage of Cast-Off Advertising Mascots. What I will be adding shortly is sort of a cross between the Orphanage and the Old Comics sections; it's an advertising character from the 1960's for a hardware store who had been depricated, but his original 'feature' had him in different scenes every week so I have 16 of his ads, thus it's akin to how Lileks' Comics section has several strips instead of just one or two examples like the Mascots section. Of course there will be commentary, because this guy was a real swingin' ladies' man despite being made of plywood. Stay tuned, you might find this amusing.
    High school story I've wanted to mention for awhile, clipped directly from an email I sent someone today: It was about a week away from graduation, and a bunch of us who were graduating (and at least one person who was still a year or two away from graduating) were called into the lunch room for some meeting – and that's when it was revealed that the school had bought a dozen boxes of ice cream for this big party we had a day or two earlier but they forgot they had the ice cream. So we were all given a half-gallon box of ice cream. This was in the middle of the day, so it's not like we could just put them in our lockers or keep them in the freezer or do anything but eat them right then and there – and no, we weren't given plastic spoons with our ice cream boxes. I think I ate about 1/3 of the box with my hands before it got too warm and melted all over. This was one of the very few moments I recall actually enjoying myself while in school which didn't somehow involve a girl.  --#2

    First, before I get into the anecdotal stuff, there's a link you need to see immediately because it's the next big news item the media will be buzzing about: Proof of George W. Bush's lies about his military record. The Freedom of Information Act strikes another blow, albeit late in the game... Air Reserve documentation that he didn't show up for drills for three years of his six year contract. Nothing the people who ignored the mainstream media didn't already know, but the general public needed proof positive of and the media shirked its responsibility in reporting (just like GW's old cocaine habit)... until now.
    The two duties of the day were to take my kat, Cheddar Meatloaf, to the vet for his yearly checkup and to take myself to Quest Diagnostics for a pre-employment drug test. Yes, Mushy has good news: Key Bank has extended me an offer of employment, which starts in about a week, as a customer service representative at a call center. I'll be one of those people folks dial up when they have questions or account issues, and it appears I'll be working alongside one of the former managers from Mindspring so I will know someone. Anyhow, you probably don't care to hear about the look on Ched's face when the assistant stuck the thermometer up his butt or how at 13¾ pounds he's a bit on the chubby side but not overweight, though it does bear mentioning that I had a problem pushing him into the carrier at home but absolutely no problem getting him to walk into it while we were at the office (getting him out was the issue!), so strap yourself in because I'm gonna tell you about my drug test. And for the record, I'm not concerned about it because I don't smoke, I haven't had alcohol in a few weeks, I haven't smoked dope since December 28 of 1988 [all of ONE time], and haven't ever touched anything stronger than that unless there was dental work involved when I was shot up with it.
    I hauled myself out of bed around 10am and called the test place to see if reservations were required. Nope, come on down. I took a pee and later a shower. There's an apartment complex across from the medical center called the Union Avenue, which has its initials "UA" on the front in big letters, and I thought that was pretty foreshadowing. So I got to the test facility's third floor suite around 11:30am, with no food beside three Hershey Nuggets and a swig of grapefruit juice, and presented myself to the clinician. This woman looked almost like my exfiancèe Trish, except that the pallor-esque foundation she was wearing was dried and peeling, and Trish believed in never giving anyone the impression she had a skin disease. She took my paperwork, I took a seat, and eventually she called me back and gave me instructions on how this urinalysis was going to work. She didn't offer to help me, and I tried hard not to ask, but somehow I figured the usual test proctoring rules apply, be it a written test or a urine test, that the person giving the test can't assist the person taking the test. So she sent me into the bathroom with a cup and strict instructions not to flush or run the water in the sink. Which was a moot point because there's a switch on her side of the wall that turns off the water supply to the can, but you can't say I wasn't properly warned. Then it came down to business, and I was pretty much tapping an empty keg since I drained my vein an hour or so earlier and hadn't put anything more back in, so I had to force myself to wring out what I could muster. Happily my instructions were to fill to this line an inch up the side, not to the top. I put the cup on the edge of the basin because it was the right height and pretended I was whizzing into the sink, hoping the cup didn't tip because I hadn't anything left to give. (Mental image of when I was a teenager and I went pee before visiting Dr. Shearer's office; I was in the doctor's office restroom talking to my parts, begging and sweet-talking them to produce some fluid. I walked out when I had finally gotten enough in the jar to satisfy the nurse's urinary whims, and my mother is sitting there looking mortified. "We could hear every word you said in there," she told me.) I stepped out of the bathroom and the woman is standing there with her paperwork, so I put the cup on the counter in preparation for the next phase. She finally introduces herself. The name doesn't matter, she'll always be Leper-Trish to me. She commented that the temperature is good (there's a liquid crystal thermometer strip on the side of the cup I hadn't noticed until then), which it should be since I was storing that fluid inside of me somewhere south of my lungs but north of my bladder. She poured the rich golden lager from cup to tube, joined me in the bathroom(!) while I washed my hands so she can pour out the rest of my piss, then she sealed the tube with evidence tape, and has me compare the number on the tube's tag to the one on the form then sign and date the form and the tag. They'd better only be testing for THC / uppers / downers / acid / designer death, because if they're taking notes on anything else (such as stray sperm, since between the morning tinkle and the shower I went back to bed 'with myself' and found bliss) their bonus findings will be irrelevant but amusing. That was it, no blood testing required – I'm usually not squeemish about blood or needles, but after I had that mishap with the hand-sickle a couple years ago [see the 6/22/02 Daybook entry] I now get lightheaded when seeing my own blood flow freely, so my being done without bloodletting was good news. Time to go home and get myself a rubbery bacon sandwich for breakfast (microwave ovens make really lousy bacon it seems) and a Mountain Dew before herding the cat into the Porta-Ched. The physically flaky version of the mentally flaky dame said it would be 48-72 hours before the bank got the results, which surprised me because there's a Key Bank across the street so they could just walk the results over faster than mailing them.
    R.A.T. #1, Chrome, is heading to Iraq in short order for a year, despite being told a few months ago that if his unit was deployed he'd be staying stateside for support purposes. He says he's Zen about it because of the hazard pay (he makes reference to why in "Dr. Strangelove" people stop worrying and love the bomb - money!) as well as his taking the "if you can't lick 'em, join 'em" mentality about things he is powerless to change, and in so many words he said this forces making decisions about what to do with his life after getting out of the service to be put off for another fifteen months, which is a welcome thing because he still doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. Meanwhile we in the Homefires Stoking Department are a little concerned, especially me since a day or two after he'd told me the name of the town he's heading to and the unit he's moving in with, that town and unit was the subject of a rocket attack... and everything I've read lately says that Reserve soldiers' families have been more help in outfitting the fighters (flak jackets, night vision goggles, etc.) than the government which is supposed to be equipping them. So Chrome: Brother, keep your head down and your guard up, we need you back here doing cerebral things.  --#2

    I inspired the name of a music group several years ago. While it was Ken "Again" Harder, my locker partner in his sophomore year, who gave the band I was in with Ken's mortal foe Jimbo Gillaspy (mentioned here before) and Ken's junior year locker partner Adrian Lopez-Dispenser its name, Out Of Time (who likewise took it from the name of an R.E.M. album, and tangentally Stipey was also responsible for the name of Concrete Blonde – this sentence is getting too convoluted), the name of the band Jimbo formed after he left OOT came from something I'd written him when I was concerned for his physical or emotional safety: I'd told him to steer clear of harm's arms. Thus the name "Harm's Arms" came to be, and that band played a few shows in downtown Yakima back in the day. I was reminded of this tidbit when I was rummaging through my tape collection the other day and came across the special scrimshaw-case cassette with the Grant's Celtic Ale label used as a tracklist/liner. Harm's Arms did wicked covers of Donovan's "Season Of The Witch" and AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" (with Jimbo on close-your-eyes-and-shout vocals), plus wrote their own songs like "Black Bra" (which I was dancing to with a girl named Robin who was wearing a black bra; she might have inspired the song since married Jimbo was screwing her best friend on the side). The Screaming Trees came to one of their shows, not to play or to see Harm's Arms but to stand in support of their fellow Ellensburg mates King Krab (the only band in that town that didn't have the word tree in its name, it seems) who were also on the bill... no, I didn't have the balls to say hello to the guys (Van & Lee, Gary & Gary). It made me happy to see Jimbo pursue his music and find some moderate success, and when I saw him sing I knew my best friend didn't need me anymore. Not long after, he headed to Seattle to further his dream, and that's as much as I know. What ever happened to Lance Chess, anyway?
    The Out Of Time was the three of us, with the occasional visit from other folks like Ethan "I'm Not M.C." Collins to play a little and talk a little, name our farts ("sour cream & chive!" shouted Adrian) and rattle some windows. When we practiced in the basement of Jimbo's parents' house, the space was called Absolute Basement #1. When we practiced in the diningroom of The Pearn House we called the space Absolute Basement #2. We wrote a great anthem about AIDS prevention, one of the first songs ever written on the subject in 1986, called "Of The Monster", a touching love song called "Bitch", and a party anthem called "The Beer Song". The song we never quite got finished was "Teenage Tits" (we had the chorus though: "Teenage tits! Teenage tits! We play guitar for teenage tits!") and the song we recorded, unfortunately with me on vocals, was one I wrote the lyrics to – actually, I'd shown Jimbo a poem I wrote late one night and he heard the rhythm in his head, so once he'd put together the chords and Adrian came up with a beat that became our first song, and during one rehearsal Jimbo turned on the tape recorder – called "90%". The name was a reference to how in my estimation 90% of everything is certain, so it's that last 10% of everything you have to watch out for; the first verse was, "Tell me of a thousand things / All you do and all you see / Tell me of a thousand dreams / All you want and want to be." We didn't really try going anywhere with the band, it was something to warm us up to the larger world. Ethan fought with his dragons, Adrian still plays the skins with my old pal Richard (he and I were "Corny & Horny" in elementary school, and were never sure which was which), and nowadays I know better than to sing – hell, people in bars won't say anything to me about my karaoke performance (or clap), it's just that bad. I regret nothing except that I didn't get groupies (how often do lyracist get those? I couldn't sing or play an instrument) and that we didn't enlist the help of a female vocalist somehow.
    The latest Spackle page has been posted, and unlike last month there is a new Rant for February coming later today (it's 4am as I write this).  --#2

    My head seems fresher now [see previous entry, first paragraph] but I still have no idea what to do, though now I have a clearer view of how I have no idea what to do. I've spent the last few days thinking about Christmas decorations, which seems a little out of place since the holidays were last month, but having visited a local author – I apologise, the writer of I Watched Seattle Cry is NOT deceased, someone with a similar name passed, my bad – to talk about the Great Depression, scanned some items out of old issues of a small-town paper, and shopped an antique store in West Seattle with a rediculous quantity of ornamentia, that's what's on my mind. And Paige keeps saying in regard to that, "Now all you need is a job so you can live that life." Anyone need a slightly-used kidney? No matter what the please-reelect-me guvmint liars say, the economy is lousy and the chance of getting a worthwhile position (or the chance of such position still existing domestically) is slim. I'm not pessimistic, am I?
    To say a few words about the new front-page graphic: it came out of an April 1920 issue of the Eatonville Dispatch, the local paper for a timber camp turned small town, which had a real estate ad on the front page for someone who was trying to move out of town (big news!)... 15 acres with house and barn plus other farm items, broken into 5 acre parcels or available whole, for $1,400 or trade for a place in the city. My, how times change...
    I always have my eye out for news stories about teachers who get too friendly with their students. They're more frequent than you'd think, actually – for every huge shocking broadcast about folks like Mary LeTourneau, there are a dozen quiet broadcasts saying the same thing about other people which don't get as much exposure. A couple months ago I had a good laugh in regard to one female teacher who was buying beer for some students, and is said to have slept with one or two, that was working in the school district where Ms LeTourneau is currently incarcerated. (Of all places which should know better...) And if what was broadcast on A&E the other night is correct, Ms LeTourneau will be getting out of the slammer this July. Strange how a woman can boff an early teen boy, get pregnant, get out on parole, boff him again and get pregnant again thus violating parole, and yet only get 7 years whereas male teachers get considerably more punishment than that. (She should have done at least 15 years for bad taste, that boy is UuuuuuGLY!) I saw a story the other day about a 16 year old girl who is pregnant and the judge practically got medieval on the 51 year old teacher... nowhere in this story did they ever ask the girl how she felt about him, the affair, or the pregnancy; it was her mom that sounded the alarm. I liked the story from a year or so ago where the 18 year old female student killed her lover, the female gym teacher, because the gym teacher was two-timing her with a 16 year old female student... you can't make up headlines like that! When I read stories about that sort of impropriety, I'm faced with the fact that I never had a tryst with any of my own teachers in school. Not that the opportunity didn't exist [emphasis: in my opinion], but it simply never happened because I didn't pursue it. I have one friend that was boffing her high school English teacher after she graduated, and then there was the superintendant's daughter who got knocked up by the assistant basketball coach before she graduated, but those both happened after I was out of school. (During my time in school, it was all Teachers Behaving Badly – one love triangle, one hot-n-heavy couple, and both incidences wound up putting their personal lives spill into the classroom discussions.) For me, there was the chemistry/physics teacher, who also was the tutoring mentor for the high school and the leader of the Science Club. Since I was in Chem, Physics, Science Club, and a tutor, I spent a lot of time with her at school and would be on every field trip associated with any group's function. There were a few times when I wondered if she had something on her mind, not that she showed it outright of course but there were what I considered hints, and I would have enjoyed learning the ways of the world with her (age 28, kind face, good sense of humor, appealing manner, red hair, liked punk music and Tonio K and Talking Heads, beautiful chest, good-sized booty and I'm not prejudice) but I was afraid of the thought. Always the wallflower, that was me. She and I stayed in touch for a few years after we both left that school, but eventually she got married and had a kid so we sort of ran out of things to talk about. It's probably a good thing we didn't try anything because I had no sense of discretion at the time, but that "what if?" question loomed over my head for at least a year of our working together and for awhile afterwards when the point had been allowed to become moot.
    Godspeed you, Captain Kangaroo. Thanks for the love and the ping-pong balls.  --#2

    My job with has ended as of yesterday, and while I can't say I'm not glad – I was seriously needing to be done with that job because the headaches I was getting were similar to how my brain felt when I biked 26 miles in July 1986 without a water bottle – this does mean that I have to find a new job, which is a hell all its own. Perfect time to look for work: shortly after the holidays so the rest of the people who had temporary jobs for the season also have gotten off their jobs, in a state with 8% unemployment and a county with nearly 10% unemployment and a town recently voted Nation's Most Depressing City [no joke!]. My former former employer, the nationwide ISP, fired 1300 people one year ago and the other 1300 ten days ago, so now the third largest Internet provider in the country is exporting even more of its jobs and now has NO call centers of its own when it had seven in October 2002. At least this time I should qualify for unemployment payments (since it was a layoff), so I won't be as S.O.L. as when Earthlink fucked me over one year ago, and filed today. Nah, I don't have any employment plans or prospects yet, I'm just trying to catch up some lost sleep and face next week with a fresh head. Thanks for asking! The other thing I've accomplished today was to move anything written in 2003 to the archives (see bottom of the Daybook and Rant pages) and no, I still haven't written a Rant yet. One tangental note to add: One of my favorite singers from the 1980's, Nena ("99 Balloons" etc.), has a new album titled 20 Years... – there's more but I haven't translated the German – and there's a duet with her and Kim Wilde ("Kids In America" etc.) singing Nena's 1985 song "Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime"/"Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann". It moved me to tears.
    While it is said that anything which has been put on the Internet gets archived somewhere and thus becomes permanent, with the futurists' warning that this can bite you in the ass someday in the distant future, no one has shown me where to find this record. This becomes important when something hits the bit-bucket which wasn't supposed to be deleted, and I have three examples. One isn't my own stuff: the song "Donkey Cock" by H95, which I can't seem to find anywhere now. Two are my own words, Daybook entries in fact: the 2002 story about the time I went to the Castle Superstore (Earth's largest dildo shop) with a couple of friends for the first time, and the 2000 story which I'm rewriting below. And Lord only knows what other stories have disappeared; it's enough to make you wonder about conspiracies, though they're more likely due to defective backups and errors when saving new material. So if think you've seen the following story before, you have but you'd be hard-pressed to locate it. And if the Illuminati can kindly produce that Castle Superstore tale, I'd appreciate it. :)
    There was a family across the schoolyard from my family's house that I would visit every so often, mostly to hang out with the boy who was somewhat younger than me or work on their IBM 8086 computer (it practically had vacuum tubes in it, it was so slow to merely boot into DOS). The man of the house was a bigoted City Counsel member who didn't care about me one way or the other at the time. The woman of the house had a voice like Marge Simpson and she liked me. I was never quite sure how much she liked me because there were always these vague clues, subtle hints, and other head-scratcher things that would lead one to believe that she might have a physical interest in me. I was also never quite sure what to do with this counterfeit knowledge, since it's not exactly something a person can ask about lest Bad Things happen if one is wrong – and 'Mrs. Robinson' variety things happen if one is right. I knew she wasn't sleeping with her husband in any sense of the word, the kid had told me and I'd seen the bedrooms on separate floors. Anyhow, in July of 1987(?) I went over to their house to shoot some fireworks with the kid, which is something we'd been doing together every summer for a few years. I knocked on the door, and the woman answered the door in a robe, which seemed a little odd since it was early afternoon (but I understand that nowadays, heh!). The boy wasn't home because he and his father had gone to the Yakima Air Show to look at planes, and she said she was about to get into the shower. Need any help? I was thinking, but I couldn't make that presumption without more information. And this is when her little doggy comes out onto the porch between us and parks at her feet. We're both looking down at the dog. Great God in Heaven, her robe is hanging open, I realized as we stood there in this position for roughly ten seconds, and I can see one and a half breasts! I'm now breaking a sweat. I had no idea whether this show was intentional, but since she's looking down past the bare flesh and gaping fabric she could not possibly have NOT known. She decides to get to her shower and I bid her adieu. I'm walking down the driveway to the street with my back to the house, mouthing the words I was shouting in my spinning head: what the hell just transpired?!? I don't think that I ever saw her again, in any state of dress, or until we crossed paths in a supermarket twelve years later and none of that doorway moment mattered anymore. And here's to you, Mrs. Rogers... Thanks for being the first MILF I'd encountered, even though we never actually taught each other great lessons.  --#2

They said there'd be snow at Christmas / They said there'd be peace on earth
Halleluia, Noël / Be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get, we deserve.
 – Greg Lake, "I Believe In Father Christmas"

    I'm still in jury duty for another couple days, and lucked out today because it snowed a bunch yesterday so both the court and my regular job were closed. I'd hoped to do a little baking today, or possibly take down the tree and put stuff away, but since we're out of flour and we don't want to risk the two blocks to the store :) and the Museum has been inaccessable, those things can wait a little longer. Four new things that are worth mentioning: first, that the local 80's radio station has decided to go alternative (a.k.a. mainstream) which further lessens the likelihood of them playing Culture Club [how could an 80's station avoid playing Culture Club, The Cure, and most New Wave?? they did!]; second, now's your chance to get in on the Dead Pool on and predict who will bite it (and when) in the year 2004; third, to be part of the needless hysteria our unqualified leadership has foisted upon us, this site has added a Muppet™ Terror Alert Level graphic to the front page of this site for your quick edification; fourth, if you get A&E on your television channel list, you really should have a look at "Airline", a new series where cameras follow Southwestern Airlines personnel around to show what kind of crazy sh!t they have to deal with every day... it's a lot like Fox's "COPS" (you too will find yourself asking, "people actually signed a waiver so their stupidity could appear on this show?!") and reminds me a lot of the last two customer service jobs I've had; it's the funniest thing on TV since "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy." A new Rant is coming as soon as I think of one, and the new Spackle page has been up for a week or two. And if you're reading, Chrome: yoo hoo, where are you?
    Auld Lang Syne-Wave department: I'd mentioned someone in the April 21, 2002 Daybook entry, Merri from Sunnyside, and I feel compelled to tell the New Years 1998 story now. I had spent some part of 1987 interested in this girl who was eight years my senior but one foot shorter than myself, and she was a unique little person, to put it kindly. As I mentioned earlier, she thought Pope John Paul II would make a great husband and the guys she'd settle for in the meantime either couldn't (cute and married with children) or wouldn't (Tommy Smothers lookalike who lived with his mommy in his 40's). So having spent Christmas with my aunt & uncle in Yakima while the rest of my family was in Hawaii [my choice; did I want to be trapped on an island with those people?!] I decided to take Merri up on her offer for New Years. She picked me up and took me back to her church for late Mass, so you could say the drinking started early for her. Not only could she not carry a tune if it had handles, she had The Lord's 14% alcohol blood on her breath. Not being a member of that church, or a Catholic for that matter, I abstained from the wine & wafer portion of the program per her instruction... I considered it part of the deity's Designated Driver program, personally. So then we went back to her family's house (yes, she lived with her parents and was a virgin at 28). In being shown the house, I entered her room long enough to look at the 8-track player on her stereo, with a stack of Moody Blues tapes next to it, because while I believe in the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ, there were just too many portaits of Him hanging on her walls for comfort's sake. I suppose this made a great security system against those who would do her harm in her own room, yet it also pretty much would prevent anyone from doing her some good too... including myself if I'd been invited in after the lights went out. (Which I wasn't.) Midnight came and we popped the champagne cork, then she and I stayed up for hours to chat a bunch. She defeated the purpose of having someone of the opposite gender with her as the new year strikes: there was no kiss at midnight... what a rip! When she was tired of talking around 4am, she went off to her room and I went to my quarters in the family room and read several 'Garfield' books until dawn. In the morning hours I was standing in the kitchen when she came out of her room, dressed in the sort of one-piece footie jammies you usually only see kids under age 6 wearing. (I have no idea if there was a drop-seat, à la Dennis The Menace.) And like I said before, there were her huge untouched-by-man bazooms looking like udders... m00, ding ding, plop. I had to look away, it was too early in the morning to think dirty or even merely contemplate the visual. I don't recall breakfast or how much time elapsed between seeing her in her footie jammies and her being dressed in the driver's seat of the car, but it doesn't seem like there was much delay (or food) at all before I was back home. That's about where I decided I was going to be a little more selective about where I spent my holidays, so I wouldn't have to sleep alone during them.
    I thought briefly about giving shouts-out, of a list of names and phrases to thank those who did good things for me in 2003 and crypticly slam those who caused me problems (such as "Nick - thanks for sucking dog dick so the rest of us didn't have to" or "Mary - thanks for the milk and cookie, they were yummy") but realized the list would get long and I'd wind up making mostly stabs at people who burred my saddle. [I lost my cushy job one year ago tomorrow, that's part of it... but it would have been a month and a half later anyway if it hadn't happened when it did, I would have however gotten $4000 of benefits out of the deal instead of zilch.] This doesn't really add much good karma to the universe, so I'm just going to give a blanket Thank You to my old friends who are still my friends after all these years; to the friends and strangers alike who read the Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul and Say Something Cryptic sites with any regularity, even if you won't admit it; and to those people and businesses which saw fit to put me on their payroll during 2003, enabling me to continue living to some degree in the manner in which I have become accustomed to. Those who harshed my mellow, disemployed or resisted to employ me, bit the hand that fed or helped them, united or divided unwisely, or simply would not strip naked after I'd commanded them to in my mind, eh, they'll have to live with their choices and the consequences... I've got more relevant concerns ahead of me and other fish to fry. The best thing that happened in 2003 was that I realized, courtesy of a janitorial job with the local library system, what the movie Office Space was trying to say in final scenes. Cleaning bathrooms and emptying trash isn't the destiny of my life, but in comparison with dealing with self-centered people directly for the same amount of money (or less) the peace and quiet feels mighty good. The worst thing that happened was circling the drain, courtesy of a computer industry and an employer in it that chooses short-term gains by getting rid of its domestic jobs to give them to cheaper foreign labor, but somehow I weathered that and came out a better internally than shortly before I started. I believe that if you can say you learned something useful from a bad experience and lived to be able to use it, you've come out ahead. I hope 2004 holds good things which were missing from 2003, for myself as well as for you the reader.  --#2


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