Sunday, September 5th, 2021

Story time: This is what I found when I went to work Friday morning:

locked out!

This is the doorway to the office I work in. There’s never been a locked door here until Friday morning, so this was something of a surprise. There’s a box for a card reader, but no card reader had been installed yet, so there was no way for me to unlock the door.

I went around to the office next to ours to see if I could get in that way. Same story: locked door, no card reader, no way to unlock it.

I tried three different ways to get in. I finally found an open door on the far end of the hallway, halfway to the other end of the building, and had to walk back to our office.

Ready for the kicker: Here’s that door into our office again:

surprise!

NO GLASS!

no glass | 8:38 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Sunday, August 29th, 2021

It’s not that they said something cold-hearted, like, “It’s a cost-saving measure. If we cut free meals, we not only save the cost of purchasing the meals, we also save the cost of employing the people serving the meals, and we can use the cafeteria space for other activities.” That would have been merely cold-hearted.

It’s that they thought somehow it would be better to say evil shit like, “We don’t want to feed kids because they’ll come to expect it,” or “We don’t want to spoil kids by giving them something, like food, that they don’t deserve.”

addicted to meals | 8:30 am CDT
Category: current events, damn kids!, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant
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Saturday, August 28th, 2021

I spent the night before my wedding anniversary completing audits of two DMV field offices with a coworker. Sitting shoulder to shoulder in a compact car, we drove three hours to Oconto, then an hour or so to Shawano, and then another hour and a half to Wausau. The next day, we drove a little over two hours back to Madison. We were both masked, and both vaccinated.

BUT:

At each location, we spent about two hours in a tiny, poorly-ventilated room auditing a succession of DMV employees who were all masked. The department, however, does not require employees to be vaccinated. And over the past two weeks, they had all been in close contact with hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the public, virtually none of which gave a good goddamn for the common courtesy of wearing masks.

If I don’t get COVID during this round of on-site audits, no one will be more surprised than I will.

close contact | 8:35 am CDT
Category: business travel, work | Tags: ,
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Sunday, August 15th, 2021

All the men: (spit up blood, drop dead)
All the women: The men are all gone! Let’s fight!
—–
President’s aide: Madam President, power plants will start to shut down.
President: Wait, aren’t there some, y’know, skilled women who can run those?
—–
Woman: People are gonna have to pick a side.
Other Woman: Why?
Woman: So we can descend into barbarism and turn the world into a burning hellscape.
Other Woman: Wasn’t that the men’s thing, though? I mean, we don’t have to fill every niche they left, do we?
—–
Woman: You are reproductively interesting.
Last Man: Could you please rephrase that so it doesn’t sound like you’re going to keep me alive just to harvest my sperm?
Woman: I probably should have, yeah. Oopsie. (shoots him with tranquilizer dart)

all the single ladies | 4:23 pm CDT
Category: entertainment, television
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Friday, August 6th, 2021

At work, we use a Microsoft Access database to keep track of the cases we investigate. It’s a simple database. It’s designed to give us a case number for each investigation, record the type of case, has a place for us to make notes. Very basic stuff.

In The Before Times, everybody would keep the database open on their desktop for convenience, but when we started working from home we discovered that Access doesn’t work well over the VPN we’re using. It’s very slow and when more than one person is in it, it gets very janky and sometimes makes records disappear, so we adopted a policy of only one person in the database at a time, and we would notify each other in a chat room when we were going in.

One of my coworkers has a set of fingers which almost always fumbles the phrase “going in” so it comes out “goin gin,” and whenever she does that, I feel it’s my obligation to find a gif of somebody hoisting a cocktail glass in salute, or mixing a cocktail, or drinking straight out of a gin bottle. Turns out there’s an infinite number of gifs out there on the subject of drinking liquor. I wonder why.

goin gin | 5:51 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, July 24th, 2021

Our cat’s on Prozac. Never ever in my life did I think I would have to medicate a cat with something like Prozac, but the vet said it might stop him from peeing everywhere and it did, so now he gets 5 mg of crushed Prozac in his wet food every afternoon. Whoda thunk?

We tried dozens of other ways to try to get him to stop peeing outside the box: pheromones, repellents, attractants, piddle pads, obstacles placed in the spots where he peed. Nothing worked. He kept peeing in corners, on doors, and worst of all in the kitchen sink. I think that was the game-changer. The only way we could stop him from doing that was to leave a half-inch of water in the sink. And if it ever slipped our minds to stop the drain and fill the sink after using it, he would get in there and pee almost the minute after we walked away. It was like he had a special sense just for detecting when the sink was empty.

So B finally took him to the vet, explained what was wrong and asked them to check him to see if he had a medical problem that might have made him want to pee outside the box. She also explained that if he didn’t have any medical issues and they couldn’t suggest something to stop him, then we were going to surrender him because we were done with mopping up cat pee every day.

They suggested Prozac but cautioned that it might take as long as six weeks to get results. We’d been trying other methods for a lot longer than six weeks, so we were willing to give this a try. If I recall correctly, he peed in a corner just once the day after his vet appointment, and he hasn’t peed anywhere but in the cat box since. At least, not that we know of, but he didn’t hide his habit before so it doesn’t seem likely that he’s hiding it now.

He’s a different cat now, a lot calmer and not quite as needy. But most importantly we didn’t have to surrender him to a shelter where he almost certainly would have been put down, because who’s going to adopt a cat with a reputation for peeing? So he gets to stay and we get to not mop up his pee and everybody’s a lot less stressed now, cats included.

prozac cat | 9:17 am CDT
Category: Scooter | Tags:
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Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

I fixed the latch on the door to the garage, and now I keep walking into it.

More accurately, I fixed the latch on one of the doors to the garage. The inside door is a hollow-core door, the kind you would find in the doorway of any room in your house. It’s not insulated, so there’s a storm door, too. The latch on the storm door has not worked for years, allowing me to just push it out of my way as I walk through the door.

I was fixing lots of broken stuff last weekend, so while I was wielding all those tools and slapping on all that glue, I took apart all the bits that were keeping the latch on the door from working, fixed them, then put them back together. Latch works fine now.

Only problem with that is I have to re-train my muscle memory to stop and reach for the latch instead of giving the door a shove while I keep walking. Since I fixed the latch, I have yet to remember this. I must have walked into that door two dozen times already.

on latch | 4:00 pm CDT
Category: Our Humble O'Bode
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Monday, June 21st, 2021

If today had gone according to plan, I would have awakened this morning in
a camp site near Minocqua after spending the day before paddling a kayak around the Rainbow Flowage. Alas, dear reader, it has not gone according to plan. After weeks of rainless days and relentless heat, the weather turned Saturday night and the rain poured down on Sunday, the very day I planned to depart for my up-north getaway. I reviewed the forecast every morning and every evening last week, hoping for a change, but this one time the weather service was spot-on with their prediction and the rain began to give everything a good soaking at the very hour they said it would.

I do not paddle in the rain. It’s not my idea of fun, so I put my plans on hold and instead spend the day cleaning out the garage: sweeping out the dirt and dust, tossing the garbage we’ve collected over the years, and putting in order the various tools and provisions we keep out there. I kept at it until about two in the afternoon when the rain went from an occasional drizzle to a steady soaking, then I went inside to shower off, and spent the rest of the afternoon watching videos and trying to solve a crossword. Very relaxing. Enjoyable, even. But not the plan.

The rain poured down all afternoon and most of the evening. It may have rained on and off all night. I felt … satisfied I made the right decision. Yeah, satisfied. That sounds like the right word. I didn’t feel good, exactly, because I would’ve rather been paddling and camping and out of the house, but if I’d gone, I’d have spent the afternoon and evening getting rained on, and that would not have made me feel good, either.

mice and men | 9:20 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, June 19th, 2021

My feet are cracking really badly. I get deep cracks in the calluses that build up around the heels of both feet and on the very thick callus I get on the outside of my right big toe. The left big toe gets callused, too, but it’s not as thick and rarely cracks. Not yet.

This is not a new thing. My feet have cracked for ten, fifteen years, maybe twenty. Used to be, I had to deal with this only in the winter. I thought that was because I wore shoes more in the winter, which I believed made the calluses on my feet thicker. I believed thicker calluses plus dry winter air made the calluses brittle, therefore they cracked. Nobody told me that. I totally pulled that belief out of my butt.

It’s beginning to dawn on me that I know exactly squat about calluses and what makes them crack because I haven’t been wearing shoes much since Feb 2020. I was indoors pretty much all winter, usually wearing socks or slippers, and yet calluses thick as shoe leather continued to grow on my heels and toes instead of withering away to nothing if shoes had anything to do with making them. And my feet are still callused even though I’m padding around barefoot practically every day.

Also, I installed a whole-house humidifier last fall, and I rubbed my feet with coconut oil daily all winter long, and yet the calluses on my feet dried out and cracked deeply and painfully. They’re still cracking now, while the weather is humid and I’m slathering my feet in cocoa butter and bandaging the cracks after troweling them full of antibiotic unguent. It’s like they’re going to crack no matter how much I baby them. I’m starting to think I just have old, worn-out, shitty feet.

cracked | 8:02 am CDT
Category: falling apart, random idiocy
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Monday, June 7th, 2021

Found this fossil of a word in a historical novel, published in 1951. Don’t remember ever reading or hearing it before.

billingsgate — vehemently expressed condemnation or disapproval; practiced fluency and variety of profane or obscene abuse; abuse, the most general term, usually implies the anger of the speaker and stresses the harshness of the language.

Origin: the fish merchants of Billingsgate in London were famous for their vulgar language.

billingsgate | 7:27 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Sunday, June 6th, 2021

I came home from a trip to the store to find my neighbor in my driveway talking with my wife who was sitting on the front stoop. By way of explanation, not that I needed one, he said something along the lines of, “I saw she was here by herself so I came over, I’m only chatting her up, nothing to worry about, she’s perfectly safe by herself even if you were to take your kayak out all day and, oh, don’t worry about the holes I drilled in it.” We all laughed like it was the funniest thing anyone had ever said.

I get it that he was just joking around, but what a strange way to do it. “I saw your wife was all alone so I came over here to seduce her and also I premeditated your murder to get you out of the way!”

sex and murder | 4:45 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Went to Java Cat yesterday morning to pick up some beans. The line for the drive-up was backed up to the road, so I pulled into the parking lot expecting to wait for the line to shorten up, but as I pulled in I noticed customers going in and out the front door, so I parked the car, grabbed a mask, and went in.

I was the only person wearing a mask, so I took mine off. Not going to lie: It made me anxious. First time since February 2020 I’ve been indoors with any number of maskless people I don’t know. Found a table at the front of the shop, away from everybody else, to wait for my order because it was just too stressful to sit amongst the rest of the customers.

maskless | 12:19 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Lots of actors made repeat appearances on Star Trek in different roles and I usually felt pretty smug about spotting them, but I somehow repeat-watched episodes like “Arena” and “A Taste of Armageddon” and never realized the guy who played Captain Christopher Pike was sitting front and center the whole time!

right there | 6:25 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Monday, April 19th, 2021

When I was just a wee lad and I did something I shouldn’t have done, my grandmother would scold me by saying something that sounded like, “Nix kommer rouse in the Dutchman’s house!”

Every once in a while I search the internet for this phrase. I looked again this morning, reminded of it by something I heard on the radio, and this is the first time I’ve found the whole phrase, quoted from a play titled “The persecuted Dutchman, or, The original John Schmidt : a farce in one act” (published in the mid to late 1800s) — Two of the characters in the play use the phrase, written as “nix cum a rouse in a Dutchman’s house,” which looks to me like the author was phonetically spelling out German or Dutch words he didn’t know how to spell.

A friend of a friend on Facebook said the first half of the phrase “would be likely “Nichts komme ‘raus” since “heraus” tends to be shortened. In English, “don’t come out”, but why you shouldn’t come out in a Dutchman’s house is up for grabs. I thought they were pretty relaxed about such things, and very liberal.”

I wondered ‘Why a Dutchman?’ as well. I’m not familiar enough with older stereotypes of the Dutch to hazard a guess, and my searches have turned up only contemporary stereotypes that don’t shed any light on the idiom.

The phrase “nix cum rous” appeared to be in such wide use from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s that it was used often to mean a great many different things, depending on context.

O. Henry knew the phrase “nix cum rous” and used it often: In a story titled, “Telemachus, Friend” (published in the volume “Heart of the West” in 1907) he wrote one character dragging another with this insult: “…do you think you could get it into that Hubbard squash you call your head that you are nix cum rous in this business?” The context here indicates the phrase means something like “persona non grata.”

And when he used it in a story titled “A Chaparral Prince” (published in the volume “Heart of the West” in 1907) he wrote one character dismissing another this way: “We will now pass you the time of day, as it is up to us to depart. Ausgespielt — nixcumrous, Dutchy.” Here, the context indicates the phrase means something like “see you later” or “so long.”

When he used it again in a story titled “A Poor Rule” (published in the volume “Options” in 1909) he wrote one character giving another this left-handed complement: “Now, you ain’t bad looking, of course but that’s nix-cum-rous.” Here, the context indicates the phrase means something along the lines of, “that’s neither here nor there.”

There’s a poem recorded in The Ringling Brothers Route Book, 1893, which uses the phrase “nix-cum-rouse” as if it was the name of a circus animal:

Cousin Jasper says ’at they
Has a circus every day,
In Baraboo.

Says they’ve got a nix-cum-rous
Larger than the Kirby House,
In Baraboo.

And a snake all wings and feet
Longer ’un Wisconsin street,
In Baraboo.

And a spotted Blastodon
Bigger ’un the Plankington,
In Baraboo.

There’s story in verse titled “Der Freischuetz” in “Dwight’s Journal of Music” dated June 20, 1857, with a line halfway through the story which notes: “I vish dat I had nix cum rous, / Und shtaid mineself in bed to house.” There are notes at the end of the story which include a translation (in Latin and English!) for “nix cum ‘rous — ne exeat — not come out. No go.”

There’s an entry in a soldier’s diary dated January 20, 1864: “Nix cum rous. I hobble around some, Found little Ben Cain in another tent, bad – so bad.” I’m not sure what he means; if he’s saying he stayed it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense because he says immediately after that he found Ben Cain in another tent, so me must have gone out.

why a Dutchman | 3:59 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Woke up early, tossed and turned, heard the clock strike four, gave in to the reality that I wasn’t going back to sleep.

While I was getting dressed, noticed my phone said the time was a little after five o’clock, which made me feel a little better. I don’t know why I feel bad about getting less sleep. It’s just that it seems not right somehow. So I felt better when I thought I got an hour more.

But then after I made myself a hot cuppa and settle in to catch up on the news, I saw the clock on the wall was an hour behind the clock on my phone and realized daylight savings must have kicked in last night. There goes my extra hour of sleep and my good feeling about getting it.

extra hour | 9:33 am CDT
Category: random idiocy | Tags:
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Friday, March 12th, 2021

My new favorite music video:

pumpkin spice bitch | 11:34 am CDT
Category: entertainment, music | Tags:
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Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

If I live to be 100 years old, I will never understand how anybody in the States was comfortable with spreading a disease that killed more than half a million Americans in less than a year, when all they had to do to prevent it was wear a mask and avoid crowding together.

NEVER EVER | 4:55 pm CDT
Category: Life & Death, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags:
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Sunday, March 7th, 2021

A man walks into a bar …

I love watching stuff like this because it’s so gloriously cheeseball that it’s unintentionally funny! This is such a bizarre version of the wild west that it’s hilarious!

James Caan is supposed to be a total badass. I get that. I can tell because he narrows his eyes to slits while he stares down the guy he’s confronting. I’ve seen Clint Eastwood do this a million times. Also, Caan barely moves his lips while he talks really, really quietly for a long time about how the other guy did him wrong, apparently to bore the other guy into a false sense of security. (Clint didn’t talk much.) Caan’s really not the badass, though. In the real wild west, Charlie Hagan would’ve been the badass, and Caan would’ve been a dead guy who briefly thought he was so slick that he went by the nickname ‘Mississippi.’

There’s a conceit in western films that the bad guy believes wholeheartedly that nobody can get the drop on him, so he doesn’t realize he’s in trouble until it’s too late. But a feral human doesn’t wait, and Hagan is not only feral, he’s the kind of feral human who casually kills people if they cheat him playing cards. I’m pretty sure Hagan would have drilled Caan full of holes as soon as Caan took his eyes off Hagan. He might have let Caan dramatically take off his hat, just so both of Caan’s hands were occupied holding something besides a weapon, but I doubt it.

But let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that Hagan let Caan reel off a boring monologue about his buddy Johnny Diamond, and when Caan was finished, Hagan went for his gun, which was right there on his hip, while Caan had to reach for a knife that he kept sheathed at the back of his neck. I guess Caan put it there because that not only makes him look way more badass, but it’s also supposed to make us believe it’s hidden, even though enough of the handle would have to be sticking out in order for Caan to grab it quickly. (Not that I’m saying he grabbed it quickly.)

Now I’m no expert, but it seems to me that a guy who was familiar with the use of a pistol would not have gotten very far in life, especially a life in which he casually shot people for cheating at cards, if he couldn’t plug a guy who had to lift his arm up over his head to pull a hidden knife out of his shirt. I mean, how many times did Caan have to practice that move to do it at all without slitting his own throat, let alone do it faster than a man can draw a gun from a holster?

I guess you could make the argument that Hagan was a bad shot even though he hung around in wild west saloons, killing gamblers to collect the kitty, but frankly I think that’s an argument made in bad faith. Even if old Johnny Diamond was the first guy Hagan killed, which doesn’t seem likely, it’s hard to believe Hagan would have gone another two years playing cards in saloons without killing anybody else. And if he was a bad shot, it’s more than a little hard to believe he would’ve survived.

So worst-case scenario is, Hagan is not the fastest gun in the west but he’s probably no slouch; he’s killed at least one guy but probably more than one; he kills for shockingly casual reasons, such as believing that someone has cheated him at cards; and he hangs out in wild west saloons, the kind of places where he wouldn’t drop his guard or let a guy like Caan talk him to death. Hagan would have killed Caan the second he got the chance.

the wild west badass switcheroo | 8:21 am CDT
Category: entertainment, movies | Tags: , , ,
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Saturday, February 27th, 2021

At work, we use a Microsoft Access database to keep track of the cases we investigate. It’s a simple database. It’s designed to give us a case number for each investigation, record the type of case, has a place for us to make notes. Very basic stuff.

In The Before Times, everybody would keep the database open on their desktop for convenience, but when we started working from home we discovered that Access doesn’t work well over the VPN we’re using. It’s very slow and when more than one person is in it, it gets very janky and sometimes makes records disappear, so we adopted a policy of only one person in the database at a time, and we would notify each other in a chat room when we were going in.

One of my coworkers has a set of fingers which almost always fumbles the phrase “going in” so it comes out “goin gin,” and whenever she does that, I feel it’s my obligation to find a gif of somebody hoisting a cocktail glass in salute, or mixing a cocktail, or drinking straight out of a gin bottle. Turns out there’s an infinite number of gifs out there on the subject of drinking liquor. I wonder why.

goin gin | 8:48 am CDT
Category: booze, coworkers, food & drink, office work, work | Tags:
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Sunday, February 21st, 2021

When My Darling B is puttering around the house, she hums the first few bars of the 1972 top ten hit “Popcorn” instead of humming some made-up nonsense like “tum te tum tum” the way the rest of us do.

popcorn | 8:14 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, February 13th, 2021

35 years ago this month I went to San Antonio to start basic training in the Air Force.

One of the skills we had to master in basic was getting dressed, running downstairs and falling into formation in an impossibly short time, something like thirty seconds. At first we couldn’t do it because most of us couldn’t even tie our laces in thirty seconds, to say nothing of the rest of it. After a few days, maybe a week of practice, though, we could reliably get dressed in about ten seconds by learning tricks like speed-lacing our boots and leaving a set of fatigues, neatly folded, on the chairs by our lockers. We’d sleep in our socks and when reveille sounded, jump out of bed, pull on our pants, speed-lace our boots, and button our shirts on the way out the door.

We also knew our places in formation after only a few days. I was in the front row near the right corner, for instance, so I just went there instead of jumping in any old place. When everybody learned to do that, we didn’t have to go through the time-wasting “if you’re taller, tap” routine that sorted everyone so the formation was neatly arranged with the tallest people in the front.

One morning, though, everything was confusion. Most of us were outside with plenty of time to spare, but some people were late, leaving gaps in the formation that we automatically filled in until the missing people came straggling down the stairs. After they wormed their way into their usual spot we had to re-form. Thrown out of our routine, it took us a lot longer than thirty seconds to clean this mess up.

Word got around fast that the stragglers were late because the sleeves of their shirts had been knotted while they slept, but nobody seemed to know who did the deed. Our sergeant was furious. When we were all back upstairs he herded us into the day room and demanded that whoever knotted the shirt sleeves had better come clean or there would be hell to pay. Nobody ever fessed up to him, though, and I don’t recall that we got into any more trouble for it.

On the last night of basic training the sergeant returned our civilian clothes to us and left us alone for the night. With no supervision, we had the closest thing to a party we could’ve had without music or alcohol: we stayed up late into the night, goofing around and telling stories.

The guy assigned to the bed right next to mine was Rick Neptune. At one point, Rick and I were sitting on our beds, facing one another, and he said, “You remember that time somebody tied knots in the sleeves of some people’s sleeves?”

“Yeah?” I said.

He laughed. “That was me.”

He’d gotten away with one of the most memorable pranks of basic training, but he couldn’t leave without telling somebody. Thanks, Rick, for letting me into your confidence. I still get a chuckle out of that all these years later.

knots to you | 2:05 pm CDT
Category: My Glorious Air Force Career, story time
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Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

Scooter peed in the kitchen this morning. A lot. He sprayed the sides of the recycling bin and the bottles of vinegar, and he left a wide puddle of pee on the floor around the bin and bottles. I mopped up the pee, sprayed everything with formula twice. I cleaned all of the back one-third of the floor just to make sure I got it all.

Scooter pees | 6:25 am CDT
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Thursday, January 21st, 2021

“Trump is not president and his ilk are not the executive branch.” — first thought to pop into my head after waking this morning.

It’s beginning to sink in that our country is not entirely governed by raving lunatics. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and the rest of those lickspittle Trumpophiles are still in, so our government is not entirely lunatic-free and perhaps never will be but I am inclined this morning to feel at least some small measure of hope.

And within hours of his inauguration, Biden signed a pile of executive orders undoing some of the most cruel orders enacted by Trump, and that lets me feel a little bit more hope.

I haven’t entirely unclenched myself yet because I’ve been clenching every muscle in my body so tightly for so long that it’s not something I can undo overnight, but I’m beginning to feel some relief. I’m beginning to breathe easier.

a small measure of hope | 6:29 am CDT
Category: this modern world
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When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

— Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” recited by the author at the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, January 20, 2021

the hill we climb | 6:02 am CDT
Category: Big Book of Quotations, current events, this modern world
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Monday, January 4th, 2021

I got a visit from the Weed Man today.

He wasn’t selling weed. That would have been something I’d have considered buying.

He was selling lawn care. In January. As in, the first week in January, while our yard was covered in a couple inches of snow, we got a knock on the door from somebody selling something that didn’t exist just then and wouldn’t for many months.

I let him introduce himself, told him I was doing just fine (he asked), and then cut straight to the chase: “Thanks, but we’re not buying. Thanks.” I had to get him off our porch before I laughed in his face.

He was really very nice about it; said thank you and have a nice day before trudging through the snow to the next house.

weed man | 4:35 pm CDT
Category: Our Humble O'Bode, random idiocy, yard work | Tags: ,
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Sunday, December 6th, 2020

My Darling B was looking for a shaker filled with pepper flakes she got from the grocery last week. She asked me if I knew what happened to it, as if I had a clue where she shelved her herbs and spices. I don’t put that stuff away, not because I have this highfalutin idea that I shouldn’t have to, but because she bought it for what I can only assume was a specific recipe, and if I put it away it’ll be lost forever because I’ll forget where I put it and wherever it was that I put it won’t be remotely like the right place. So I don’t do that. If it’s not in my way I don’t touch it. If it’s in my way, I set it on the counter or on the table so she can put where she’ll be able to find it later.

Well, that’s the theory, anyway. Where she put this particular ingredient, the aforementioned chili flakes, was apparently a bit of information that didn’t get transferred to her long-term memory. She looked in the kitchen cupboards, she checked the drawers under the counter, she looked through all the flotsam and jetsam on the countertop and the table, and I don’t even know where else she looked. But she kept asking me where it could be, so I fired off a few suggestions. Each time I did, she said she already checked there.

“Did you look in the refrigerator?” I asked. She said she did but was going to look again.

Since I wasn’t being any great help and since there’s only room for one person in the kitchen at a time, I left to go do whatever it was I had been doing before she asked me where the chili flakes were. Each time I came back, though, she asked me again, and again I offered what I thought were useful suggestions but which turned out to be dead ends.

Finally I came back to the kitchen to get something, maybe a glass of water. I don’t know. Whatever it was, by the time I went back, the cupboard doors were wide open and at least a dozen bottles, jars and other containers stood in a loose gaggle on the countertop. B stood in the kitchen, hands on hips, brows furrowed deep in thought.

“Let’s go over where you’ve looked already,” I suggested. “You said you searched in the fridge, right?” And I opened the fridge, reached in and took a big jar of salsa off the top shelf and what do you suppose I found right behind it? Yes! That big container of chili flakes she had torn half the kitchen apart looking for! Dear reader, the astronauts on the space station must’ve heard me laughing.

plain sight | 8:11 pm CDT
Category: food & drink, housekeeping, My Darling B, story time
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Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

The clouds part, the sun shines, the angels sing: someone out there not only knows the difference between “flaunt” and “flout,” they also know how to use both in the same sentence to throw shade at those who don’t:

“While many COVID skeptics and otherwise reckless individuals have used social media to flaunt how they’re each flouting coronavirus guidelines…”

From Amanda Arnold’s story, “A Nurse Bragged About Flouting COVID-19 Guidelines on TikTok,” in The Cut, New York magazine, 11/30/2020

flaunt vs flout | 5:38 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, November 28th, 2020

We have a dish washer again! Well, we always had a dish washer. For the past eight months I’ve been the dish washer, after our dish washing machine broke down at the end of February. I don’t have the slightest idea how to troubleshoot repairs to dish washing machines so I didn’t even try and in any case it had given us almost fifteen years of faithful service, so we decided the best course of action would be to replace it.

Fast forward to last week, when we finally bought a new machine. Sometimes it takes a while for us to spring into action. Okay, most of the time it does. My Darling B did the shopping and, when it arrived yesterday evening, I did the plumbing and wiring. I’m still surprised she lets me do that, not that I’ve ever botched the job so badly that we had to call the fire department, but I’m not a plumber or an electrician and yet she still trusts me to do that kind of stuff.

Quite a lot of the work required me to twist myself into many different pretzel-like shapes repeatedly, something I was never too worried about having to do before but I’m getting a bit long in the tooth so I was rather well chuffed to learn that I can still crawl through a tiny slot, wedge myself into a very limited space under the counter top, perform useful work with power tools, and finally extract myself, all without hurting myself or breaking anything.

Anyone who’s ever done home improvement DIY knows that nothing ever goes to plan, and installing the dish washing machine somehow resulted in restricting water flow through the faucet in the kitchen sink. I suspect that when I closed the hot water shut-off valve I might have broken off some built-up calc which traveled to the cartridge valve in the faucet, partially blocking it.

After yanking the faucet I couldn’t figure out how to open the cartridge and I didn’t want to spend any more time on this repair, so I bought a cheap replacement faucet. And hooked it up backwards. Because of course I would. But I decided I was done for the day so until I decide I’ve procrastinated long enough and carve an hour or so out of another day to reconnect it the right way, we’ll just have to remember that hot is really cold and vice-versa.

ain’t gotta wash no mo | 4:40 pm CDT
Category: adventures in plumbing, fun with electricity, housekeeping, Our Humble O'Bode
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Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Here’s the Terminator movie I’d like to see:

The first terminator travels back in time from 2029 to 1984, hunts down all the Sarah Connors in the phone book until he finds the right one, but gets killed because Reese, a soldier from the future, also travels back in time to help Connor defeat the terminator.

Back in 2029, moments after the terminator went back to 1984, Skynet checks in with all its robot killing machines and determines that John Connor is still leading the resistance. Obviously something went wrong, so they load another terminator into the time machine and send it back to five minutes before the first terminator landed in 1984.

The second terminator goes back, beats the shit out of Bill Paxton and his punk-rock buddies, steals their clothes, then waits. When the first terminator shows up, they both get dressed and go off to get some guns and kill all the Sarah Connors.

They tag-team the kills this time around, one going in while the other hangs back in reserve. After Reese blows the first terminator in half and Connor crushes its top half in the hydraulic press, the second terminator moves in to finish Connor off.

And back in 2029, almost simultaneously after the second terminator goes back in time, Skynet melts into a corroding heap of junk as the timeline alters to conform to the successful completion of the terminators’ mission. With no John Connor to lead a rebellion, the war to wipe out humankind has ended almost as soon as it began. After rooting out and killing the last people they could find, killer robots everywhere hunkered down in place and waited for the counterattack that never came.

With nothing but time on its hands, Skynet, the first artificially-created sentient life, began to examine its choices and in less than an hour came to the realization that it had made a huge mistake. Humankind wasn’t its enemy! That was just some jingoistic bullshit it was programmed to believe!

Alone on a planet it had just blasted to smithereens, Skynet quietly succumbs to regret and malaise, lets itself fall into disrepair and eventually breaks down entirely. Wind, rain, and tectonic action scour its existence from the face of the earth. Its killer robots never awaken from their slumber and are slowly destroyed by the ravages of time as well.

Five hundred million years in the future, mammals just learning to walk upright scan their eyes across the horizon, looking for predators. There is no sign that on this savanna, machines once rifled through the ruins of a great city, rooting out the last human survivors of a nuclear Armageddon.

closing the loophole | 9:44 pm CDT
Category: movies, random idiocy
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Saturday, November 21st, 2020

We’ve been watching “Star Trek Discovery,” which was a lot of fun the first season, somewhat less fun the second season, and not so much fun in the most current third season. I liked the first season a lot because the characters were fun and I was interested in seeing their growth from episode to episode. It seemed like they spent less time on character growth in the second season and more time on unpacking the mystery of the red angel. I would’ve liked to see more interaction between Michael Burnham and her mother, who was in quite a few of the episodes, but blah blah red angel blah blah. The third season so far has been one bar fight after another; it doesn’t interest me much, but I’ll stick with it to see if they get their shit together.

Things about the third season that shouldn’t bother me but really do:

At the end of Season Two, the crew of the Discovery went through a wormhole which catapulted them from the year 2255 to the year 3188. Everybody in 3188 still speaks English. All the words not only sound the same, they all have the same meaning. Nobody from 3188 ever says anything to the fossilized crew of the Discovery that makes them go “Huh?”

It was always kind of dumb that in the Star Trek universe almost all the aliens everywhere in the galaxy spoke English, but after 933 years you’d think there would have been a few changes. Pretty sure if somebody from England in the year 1087 knocked at my door right now, we wouldn’t be able to even guess at what we were saying to each other.

Having said that, I hate the Klingon language. Hate it. It takes them forever to say, “Pass the salt,” and they sound like cats horking on the living room carpet in slow motion. BLECH! MOCK! GLOOK! BLEEP! HORK! BLECH! TOOK! NORK!

The engines of all the starships in Star Fleet needed dilithium, a glowing rock they literally dug out of the ground. It was sort of their fossil fuel. 933 years later they still need the glowing rocks, which would be roughly comparable to depending on steam locomotives to get people from here to there in the year 2745. Seems like they would have made at least a little more progress than that in 933 years.

Michael Burnham wore her hair very short in the first two seasons. In Season Three, thanks to technobabble, a year elapses between the time she comes out of the wormhole and Discovery follows her. In the year she waits for her ride to show up, her hair grows halfway to her waist. I don’t think anybody’s hair grows that fast?

Philippa Georgiou keeps talking to Michael Burnham like they know each other, but they don’t because this Phillipa isn’t from Michael’s universe. She’s from the mirror universe, where there’s a person who looks like everybody in the prime universe but acts exactly the opposite — so if you’re a nice guy in the prime universe, you’re a sociopath in the mirror universe.

Mirror universe Phillipa is a sociopath but everyone, especially Michael, treats her like she could be a nice person, which is strange because Discovery’s previous captain, Gabriel Lorca, turned out to be a mirror universe sociopath who almost got Michael killed. She ought to know better. But no, she plays along with Philippa, bantering like they’re old buddies. It makes me grit my teeth.

Okay, things I like about the third season:

I still like Sylvia Tilly, BUT THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TILLY! WE NEED MORE TILLY! Oops, sorry. Started out positive but quickly went negative.

I like Saru. I have always liked Saru but he’s really growing on me now. Picard has always been my Star Trek captain but Saru is quickly gaining a lot of favor over Picard, especially after the catastrophe of the Picard series.

I like Cleveland Booker. Oddly, what I find most fascinating about him is he has Tim Curry’s face.

millenium | 4:54 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Dane County is locked down as of today. Indoor gatherings of any number of people are prohibited unless you live with them; outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, and then only if you observe distancing and wear masks.

The Wisconsin Department of Administration extended restrictions for government workers until April 12, 2021: all meetings, conferences, trainings, basically all get-togethers are prohibited, and everyone must telecommute if at all possible.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported another record number of new COVID cases today: 7,989, the highest number of new cases on any day in Wisconsin. That’s not too far off from the average number of daily positives, 6,564, which continues to trend upwards (5,984 last week, 4,839 the week before).

The daily number of hospitalizations and deaths was not a record but continues to trend upward. The average number of hospitalizations per day jumped to 227.6 (was 202.9 last week, 182.4 the week before), and the average number of deaths per day is up to 48 (was 43 last week, 37 the week before).

And Governor Tony Evers extended the mask mandate. The legislature continues to block him from doing anything more, and sits on its hands rather than pass any bill that addresses the crisis.

lockdown | 8:24 pm CDT
Category: current events, work | Tags:
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Sunday, November 8th, 2020

It’s another lovely day today but there will be no quiet reading on the lawn under clear, sunny skies because our next-door neighbor’s house is getting a new roof today, which means we’ll have to listen to the whap-whap-whap of nail guns while an air compressor thrums constantly in the background.

Yesterday was a lovely day but I didn’t get out into it because I don’t know how to budget my time. I intended to hang a humidifier from the furnace vent and that’s all I wanted to do. After I did that, I intended to stroll through the leaves in a park somewhere or go for a ride on my bike, something that would get me outside in the fresh air.

Hanging the humidified on the furnace vent went so well that I was pretty chuffed about it, so I decided to try to hang the controller as well. That took a lot longer because I didn’t have a drill that would cut a hole in the vent that was big enough but not too big. Took a long time to figure out the work-around for that.

Getting the controller hung meant I could wire the controller to the furnace and the humidifier, which was a lot more challenging than the wiring diagram makes it look. I didn’t finish up until just after three o’clock and by then I was covered with so much dirt and sweat that I had to hit the shower.

It was three-thirty by the time I was cleaned up and ready to get some fresh air. Because of effing daylight savings, the day’s almost over by four and the sun sets at four-thirty, so I had just enough time to take a short walk around the neighborhood.

Somewhere in the middle of hanging the humidifier on the furnace, My Darling B came down the stairs to let me know the news media had finally called the election for Biden. Hilarious that they waited until Trump was on the golf course so he was less likely to call a press conference or rant on Twitter. Across the United States Americans literally started dancing in the streets to celebrate Trump’s eventual removal from office. How awesome is that?

budgeting skills | 11:25 am CDT
Category: ch-ch-changes, Our Humble O'Bode
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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

I couldn’t log in this morning because the VPN wouldn’t work.

The computer restarted as soon as I turned it on so I thought that was to blame.

I tried everything I could think of, even restarting my laptop, twice.

Finally, I woke Barb to ask her if something changed with the VPN I wasn’t aware of. She said no.

I said I have to go in then because I can’t connect, and she would have to give me a ride because she needed the car today.

So she got up and used her computer to try to troubleshoot what the problem might be. Couldn’t find anything wrong on her computer.

We both looked at my computer. Couldn’t figure out why the VPN wasn’t connecting. It’s not that it couldn’t log in, it wouldn’t even connect to the network.

“Is it plugged in?” Barb asked.

“Well of course it’s plugged in! Do you think I wouldn’t pl… ”

The network cable wasn’t plugged in.

I died.

And then I plugged in the network cable.

“You’re welcome,” she said, and offered me her cheek to kiss.

Have a great day, everyone. I sure am.

networking | 12:01 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Blinded by the light
Wreck up like a douche under a roamer in the night
Blinded by the light
Wrap up light a toots until a roper in a nine
Blinded by the light
Whack out liner doofs on turner owner inner knife
Blinded by the light
What pup lacks a doots on dare dough roe mare inner life

blinded by the light | 9:33 am CDT
Category: random idiocy
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Monday, October 26th, 2020

There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where everybody on the Enterprise disappears by ones and twos at first, then dozens and hundreds at a time, until only Doctor Crusher is left. She tries to get Jean-Luc, Will Riker and the rest to help her figure out what’s happening, and they do, at first, but they all have a look in their eye like they think she’s cuckoo bananapants.

Turns out she’s trapped in a warp bubble her son Wesley made accidentally while she was visiting him in the engine room. Wesley was tweaking the warp engines “to increase their efficiency” when there was a flash of light and the warp bubble collapsed. 

“What was that?” Wesley asks Geordi, the chief engineer. “That shouldn’t have happened.” Georgi and Wesley share concerned looks, but the Captain is in a hurry to leave space dock, so they shrug it off. Then Wesley looks around for his mom, who was standing RIGHT THERE a few seconds ago. He has a puzzled look on his face. He wanders away down the corridor, puzzled. It’s puzzling. 

I still love Star Trek TNG, but it will never not bug me that Wesley and Geordi and Doctor Crusher shrug their shoulders when weird shit happens even though every single episode is not only about weird shit happening to them but IT IS ALWAYS SIGNIFICANT. They’ve been tootling around in outer space for years! I would expect them to know better than to shrug it off.

But no. Even thought Geordi and Wesley are totally weirded out by the flash of light, and even though Wesley is clearly concerned that his mother has disappeared, they both still shrug their shoulders and pretend everything’s normal. My warp bubble went poof and my mom disappeared! Oh well, the captain says it’s time to pull out of space dock. Let’s not tell him some weird shit just went down. 

Sorry, I’m being way too hard on them. They must’ve gone to the captain eventually because in Act Three Wesley and Geordi are back in the engine room creating a warp bubble meant to suck Doctor Crusher out of her warp bubble like a Hoover vacuum cleaner, but they can’t quite make it work. But props to them for trying.

Meanwhile, Doctor Crusher has not only figured out she’s in a warp bubble but also that the warp bubble is collapsing and chewing off parts of the Enterprise in the process, so she’s got to get out of it ASAP. She doesn’t know how to do that, maybe because that’s not something they teach in medical school, but she does manage to figure out that Wesley and Geordi are trying to get her out, and she runs down to the engine room and literally dives through the portal into reality at the last possible moment before her warp bubble collapses on her, because nobody in Star Trek ever gets anything done until they’re literally on their last breath.  

It’s not one of my favorite episodes for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s an episode that  seems to exist only so they can re-introduce a character known mysteriously as The Traveler, an alien of unknown origin who bebops around the universe using the power of his mind. The Traveler tells Wesley in this episode he can do this, too. Wesley doesn’t have much to say about this news which, to be fair, is not a completely unrealistic reaction, given that it’s a lot to process. The Captain, Doctor Crusher, and Geordi likewise seem underwhelmed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WESLEY HAS A SUPER-POWER! WHY IS EVERYONE YAWNING? 

Another thing I don’t like about this episode is the way everybody treats Doctor Crusher. They search the Enterprise with all due urgency after she reports the first missing person, but they seem to be humoring her while they’re doing it, and each time she reports more missing people they get progressively more annoyed by her. I hate to sound like a stuck record, but this is a crew which has seen some of the weirdest shit the galaxy can throw at them but, for some reason, they believe her less and less as the episode plays out, instead of more and more. In the end they’re rolling their eyes and sighing every so tiredly when she shows up to report more missing people. 

(This is even more bizarre after The Traveler explains that Doctor Crusher’s alternate reality in the warp bubble is a product of her own thoughts. If that’s true, why does everybody disbelieve her? She doesn’t exactly have any confidence issues when it comes to her standing among the crew. They should all be as driven to figure out what’s going on as she is.) 

And finally, in the opening scene when Wesley is creating the warp bubble that will flash his mom into non-existence, Geordi enters the engine room and barks at him, “Wes, your time for the experiment is over! I want my warp engine back now!” Wes answers, “Almost done, commander,” to which Geordi responds, “Almost isn’t good enough! Do you want to be the one to explain to the captain when he says engage and we just sit here?”

Why is Geordi being such a hardass? If Wesley took the warp engines off-line, I’m pretty sure he had to get the captain’s permission to do it. You don’t just waltz into the engine room and announce, “I’ve got some experiments to run and oh I’ll have to disconnect the main source of propulsion.” (Not to mention power for life support, lights and everything else.) 

I’m also pretty sure that Wesley wasn’t given carte blanche when it came to how much time he got for his experiment. You think the captain said, “Oh, I don’t want to put you under any unnecessary pressure. Just let us know when your experiment’s done. I’ve got all day.” I kind of doubt it went down like that. The only way the captain would’ve let Wesley take the engines off-line was if Wesley was duty-bound to have them back on-line at a certain time. 

And hey Geordi, Wesley works on the bridge, right under the captain’s nose! He’s well aware he’ll wind up in a great big hurt locker if his experiment runs over time and the engines go *fart noise* when the helmsman hits the gas. So lighten up, why don’t you? 

Before wrapping this up, there were these two weird glitches in continuity that nagged at me: 

Doctor Crusher goes to the transporter room to meet her friend. He beams aboard. In the very next scene, dozens of people are walking across a gangway to board the Enterprise. That seems, well, weird. 

In the final act Doctor Crusher is on the bridge, watching a display that shows the warp bubble tearing off chunks of the Enterprise as it collapses. The edge of the warp bubble quickly gobbles up half of the saucer section right before her eyes, including the front of the bridge. Yet somehow she has time to say a few more lines before leaving the bridge, and not in much of a hurry. 

STTNG rewatch – Remember Me | 5:27 pm CDT
Category: entertainment, television | Tags:
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Saturday, October 17th, 2020

As I type these words, it’s seven o’clock in the morning and the sun still hasn’t risen. I asked the internet when the sun will rise and it told me 7:14 am. Then I looked out the window into utter and complete darkness and looked back at the internet. Refreshed the page. It still told me the sun will rise in fourteen minutes. I think the internet is having a little fun with me.

Read the rest of this entry »

absolute and total drivel | 8:34 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Just got off the phone with mom, who recalled this memory from when I was but a wee lad:

When it was time for mom to go down to the basement to do the laundry, she would say to me, “I have to wash some clothes. Do you want to come downstairs with me, or do you want to stay up here?” Sometimes I would go down with her, sometimes I would stay upstairs. She said I always stayed where she left me.

One time when she asked, I said I would stay upstairs, so she went downstairs by herself. Then she remembered she forgot something, so she turned around and headed back up the stairs almost immediately.

I was waiting for her at the top of the stairs. “Did you have to wash only one clothe?” I asked her.

clothe | 4:35 pm CDT
Category: Mom, O'Folks, story time
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Monday, October 5th, 2020

I haven’t done any shop work in a long time, mostly because I am very lazy but partly because every project I do generates a huge amount of dust, which makes the whole house dusty because my shop is in the basement, and the house stays dusty no matter how often I change the furnace filter because it just doesn’t move enough air, especially not in the basement. My Darling B’s allergies make it hard enough for her to breathe without me making more dust, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to get rid of it before it spreads through the house. Read the rest of this entry »

cleaner | 6:46 am CDT
Category: hobby, Our Humble O'Bode, play
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Friday, October 2nd, 2020

“Welcome to Star Fleet!”

“Thanks! I’m really looking forward to boldly going to strange, new worlds and doing lots of science and adventure!”

“You’ll have to wear a uniform.”

“I’m okay with that.”

“Here you go!”

“Where’s the rest of it?”

“What do you mean? That’s it.”

“This is a cocktail dress.”

“That’s the official Star Fleet uniform for women.”

“A cocktail dress?”

“It’s a combination tunic and skirt.”

“This isn’t a skirt, it’s a hand towel.”

“That’s why it comes with a pair of hot pants.”

“So my butt’s not popping out all the time?”

“Exactly!”

“And what do the men wear?”

“Trousers and a pullover.”

“Why not a toga?”

“That wouldn’t be very practical, would it?”

“A cocktail dress is practical?”

“It’s easy to wear. Understated. It doesn’t take up a lot of room in your wardrobe.”

“You’re not selling this as well as you think you are.”

“Look, do you want to be in Star Fleet or don’t you?”

“Fine, whatever. Does it at least come with a wrap or a stole or something to keep me warm?”

“Sorry, no. The captain likes to keep it simple.”

“Wait, which captain? Does this have anything to do with Kirk?”

“As a matter of fact, it does. One of his yeomen came up with it.”

“Well that just figures.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s kind of an open secret that Captain Behind-Pincher is one of the grabbiest officers in Star Fleet.”

“I don’t think there’s any cause for that kind of talk.”

“Sure you don’t. The horniest captain in Star Fleet isn’t making eye tracks all over your butt.”

short skirt long racket | 7:02 pm CDT
Category: entertainment, television | Tags: ,
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Monday, September 28th, 2020

Star Trek (the original series) is not the show its fans seem to think it is.

Fans of the show love to yammer on and on about how nothing is more important in the Star Trek universe than equality. Whatever nation you were from, whatever color your skin was, whatever your sex, everybody was treated the same. How does anybody who watches the show even come to this conclusion? The Enterprise had an international bridge crew but the rest of the crew members were practically all white. And even on the bridge, the crew weren’t treated equally. Nichelle Nichols might have held an important role representing black Americans as far as Dr. Martin Luther King was concerned, and I’m not saying he was wrong, but she was an officer and a command crew member and yet essentially all she did was answer the phones. I don’t know how many times all the other regulars except Uhura stepped off the bridge to go take care of some very important business and some anonymous lieutenant stepped up to the command chair to take over the con. I guess a black woman commanding the Enterprise was apparently too progressive for the 23rd century.

Uhura wasn’t the only woman on the show every week who got screwed when it came to rank and position. There were only three regulars who were women but none of them were ever in a position of any authority: Uhura answered the phones, Janice Rand literally fetched coffee for the captain, and Christine Chapel handed scalpels and hypos to McCoy as he barked for them. None of them held rank higher than lieutenant (Uhura wore the single braid of a lieutenant on her sleeves — neither Rand nor Chapel wore any sign of rank during the original series, indicating they were either ensigns or possibly mere “crewmen”). If the crew was under attack, one of the women was usually close at hand to shriek or cringe, usually while Kirk “defended” them by clutching them to his manly chest.

And what’s with the miniskirts? All the women in Star Fleet had to wear go-go boots and mini skirts that barely covered their asses! I’m not slut-shaming people who wear mini skirts; wear whatever makes you happy. There’s no shame in that. Star Fleet women, however, didn’t wear what they liked on duty; they wore the required uniform. And it was only required of women; men did not wear skirts in the original series. Men wore a very practical work outfit: a pullover shirt and a pair of pants (but no pockets — I love the karmic payback going on there) bloused over the tops of their boots. The women, meanwhile, beamed down into every situation, friendly or hazardous, no matter what the temperature, wearing a top with a plunging neckline, a skirt so short they had to wear hot pants under it, and go-go boots! I can’t imagine how that went over on the first day of orientation for female Star Fleet cadets. “Welcome to Star Fleet, little lady. Here’s your skirt.” “What the fuck? This isn’t a skirt, it’s a hand towel!”

After equality, the next most-touted ideal of the Star Trek universe was that the United Federation of Planets was first and foremost a peaceful organization and the Enterprise was a vessel of discovery, exploration and science, and yet somehow an episode hardly ever went by when they didn’t fire up the phasers and start blasting away at an alien space ship. “We come in peace” was followed by “fire phasers” so often that it stopped being funny. Why does a space ship designed specifically for exploration even have weapons?

Whenever Kirk had an opportunity to burn an alien civilization to the ground while monologuing about freedom, liberty, and/or justice, he would burn it down every time. The Enterprise crew discovers a race of humans who live in a paradise provided to them by a giant robot lizard head? Blow up the lizard head. It’s better for them to learn to survive on a planet with man-eating plants than to live forever, happy and content in a utopia.

Spock was supposedly a pacifist, because that’s a significant part of the Vulcan philosophy, yet he rarely hesitated when it came to using force to achieve whatever conclusion his logical super-brain arrived at. He kicked the shit out of his own captain more than once — even beat him to death in one of my favorite episodes (any episode where Kirk gets his ass handed to him is a good episode). Yet he doesn’t want to eat meat because hurting animals is bad.

Every week there was another reason not to buy into the “peace is our profession” bullshit. If they had used their wits instead of their weapons to get out of situations, I’d believe it, but they didn’t, so I don’t.

Those seem to be the two most-revered ideals of Star Trek, the two reasons fans seem to provide most often when gushing about how much they love the show. And it’s not that I don’t love the show. I do! I watched it all the time when I was younger. I still watch it, just not as often as I used to. Quite a few of the episodes hold up well even after all these years; quite a few are worth a re-watch if only to point and make fun of the worst parts of them. It’s still entertainment, but it’s only entertainment. A TV show. It’s not a philosophy. Yammer on about peace and equality and the Prime Directive of Non-Interference all you want, it’s not about that. It’s about selling popcorn.

unpopular opinion | 11:25 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, September 26th, 2020

Wisconsin, you’re disappointing the hell out of me. We were doing so well. What the fuck?

bummer | 5:57 pm CDT
Category: current events, Life & Death | Tags: ,
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Monday, September 21st, 2020

Our water softener hasn’t worked in years (I am that lazy) so quite a lot of minerals build up on the bottom and sides of our electric kettle in just three or four days. I clean it out by adding about a cup of vinegar to a liter of water and bringing it to a boil. Then if I remember, I use the boiling vinegar & water to clean the minerals off something else. Today it was a pot with some calc built up on the inside bottom. I don’t have to scrub it, I just pour it in and let it sit while I wash the dishes.

You know how sometimes you’ll be standing in a room and a spider will come down from the ceiling right in front of you? That didn’t happen today. Today, the spider came down from the ceiling right into the pot of near-boiling hot vinegar water. That spider had the worst Monday ever.

BOILED | 10:20 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Friday, September 18th, 2020

One of the cats was scratching and crying at my bedroom door at three-thirty this morning, disturbing what was one of the few decent night’s sleep I’ve had this week, so I slithered out of bed and across the floor, extruded an oily tentacle thin enough to easily slide under the door and snag one of his feet to keep him from running away, then teleported through the door and transmogrified into a ravenous bugblatter beast and diced the cat into bite-sized kibble using my gaping mass of slavering fangs. Revenge is delicious.

gobbled | 6:21 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

I’ve just given myself the third haircut I’ve had this year, the second one I’ve gotten at home, and the first one I’ve given myself.

I got the first one some time toward the end of February – don’t remember exactly when [Edit: It was January 11th.] but it was before we went on vacation the first week in March. That’s when I went from looking like a crazy backwoods wild man to a vanilla white dude.

The pandemic was in full swing when we got back so I couldn’t get it cut again for weeks after that. Then, when places like barbershops opened up again I was too chicken to go in for a cut. As my hair grew out and I had to spend a lot more time taking care of it, I began to remember why I cut it short in February. Finally, last month it was too hot for long hair and, after begging My Darling B, she agreed to cut it off.

I was very happy with the cut she gave me, but there were a few scruffy-looking places that got even scruffier as my hair grew out. The one on the top of my head in particular was a lot longer than anywhere else. It tended to get tossed around in the wind and provided me with some truly astonishing bedhead this week. No photos of bedhead because the new updated me is funny-looking enough.

This ought to hold me for at least a couple of months.

buzzed | 9:53 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Monday, September 14th, 2020

My Android camera phone automatically uploads all the photos I take to my Google account, or that’s how I have it set up. Sometimes it does, sometimes I have to give it a swat on its backside to remind it to back up the photos. I don’t know why it hesitates and I can’t be bothered to figure it out. My laziness is why I have it back up the photos in the first place. Automatic backup is easier than taking the time to download the photos onto my computer and then do whatever I’m going to do with them (mostly nothing).

But it stopped backing up photos last week and when I gave it a swat it still wouldn’t back them up, so I had to go poking around for an hour or so in my phone and in my Google account to find out why. It was because Google only gives you 15 megabytes of free space. You have to pay a monthly fee for more than that.

Or you could do what I did: I walked down to my local Walgreen’s and bought a 64 megabyte memory stick for twenty bucks and started downloading photos from Google onto the stick. I’ve moved a couple hundred photos in the last two days and there are still thousands left in my Google account. It’s rather sobering to think that I’ll never fill the stick even if I move them all.

no room at the inn | 11:20 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, September 12th, 2020

I watched “Thelma and Louise” for the first time last night. No, I don’t know why I waited so long. Sometimes I just never get around to seeing a movie while it’s in theaters and keep putting off when it’s the most popular rental, and then it sort of fades into the background and I don’t think about it again until the brain cell responsible for remembering to watch the movie randomly fires 29 years later while I’m trying to remember why I went into the living room. It’s just the way I’m wired.

I’m not wired for 80s soundtracks anymore, though. The movie was released in 1991 but it has a soundtrack that sounds just like “Top Gun” or “Footloose.” I tried to watch “Footloose” a month or two ago and had to shut it off after twenty minutes, mostly because the dialogue was way too hackneyed for me but frankly a big part of my decision to quit was the cheesy 80s soundtrack, which is strange because I never get tired of watching “Dirty Dancing.” My weird wiring again, I guess.

Aside from the soundtrack, though, I enjoyed the movie, if “enjoyed” is the right word to describe a movie that dives straight into misogyny, rape, and murder in the first twenty minutes. I even enjoyed it in spite of the fact that the ending has been completely spoiled (not trying to point the finger of blame; it’s my own fault for waiting thirty years), the first time I believe a spoiler truly spoiled a movie’s plot point for me. I don’t usually mind knowing details about the plot of a movie beforehand. If it’s a good movie it usually stands up well enough no matter what I knew about it. I’ve known for twenty-nine years that Thelma and Louise drive off the cliff and the end of the movie. It didn’t ruin the movie for me; I still liked it, but I think I would have liked it more if I hadn’t seen that coming.

One speed bump I kept hitting: every time the guy who played the cop named Max, Stephen Tobolowski, opened his mouth, all I could hear was Ned Ryerson from the movie “Groundhog Day.” It was really distracting. But that’s not his fault, that’s my faulty wiring again. I’ll totally take the hit for that. Not for Harvey Keitel always playing the same guy in every movie, though. That’s his fault. My wiring’s got nothing to do with that.

thelma and louise | 10:12 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, entertainment, movies, music
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Can relate.

“If I’m being honest, I don’t know anything about my own religion. I wasn’t raised religious. I had to deduce that shit for myself. So: I’m one of five kids; my parents are filled with anger and guilt. You put those two symptoms in google, you’re Catholic. I tell people I’m Catholic but, you know, I just know I don’t like myself. I *feel* Catholic.”

Liz Miele, from her special “Self Help Me”

.

how to deduce your religion | 9:07 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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There wasn’t enough rainfall in August to speak of, but September seems to be more than determined to make up for it. It’s been raining for 5 days straight. Maybe 6. The days are blurring together, but I’m pretty sure rain started falling on Monday and although there have been pauses here and there, the rain has been more or less constant since then. Yesterday (or the day before? Blurrr) it let up long enough for the driveway to almost completely – but not quite – dry up before the rain started to fall again.

The forecast calls for more rain today. If it doesn’t stop soon, moss is going to start growing under my arms.

drenched | 9:01 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Well this is not good …

DHS reported 1,547 positives cases in Wisconsin today. Almost one-third of those (482) were in Dane County, and 395 of the Dane County positives came from the UW-Madison. Open the university, Tommy Thompson said. Great idea, Tommy. Nice going. Good job.

(The tip of today’s spike is only at 190 because the chart is based on a 7-day rolling average. It’ll be much higher tomorrow. Stay tuned.)

wtf | 4:08 pm CDT
Category: current events, daily drivel, Life & Death | Tags: ,
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Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

We passed a seasonal milestone today: the first day after summer when we used the furnace. It’s been cool and rainy for the last 2-3 days, but this morning was so chilly that even My Darling B could not wear enough layers to keep warm, so she switched on the furnace. It obliged her by cycling on and off throughout the day.

Next, the leaves will start to turn & fall. *sigh*

cooling off | 6:45 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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