Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

I love memes as much as the next guy. No, wait: I love memes way more than the next guy, because the next guy likes memes that suck. I don’t know why that guy can’t pick a good meme, but he can’t. That’s just the way it always seems to go.

Here’s an example of a meme the other guy picked that sucks. I saw it on Facebook last night and it sucks in so many ways that I lost count.

“This should be posted in all schools and work places,” the meme begins, and that right there is a huge red flag from the get-go. When somebody tells me their rules ought to be posted on the wall in the place where I work, I know without having to think about it that I never want to work there. I also know that if I ever had to work there because, I don’t know, it was the last job on earth, I would spend every minute of my existence there throwing the shitty people under the bus until I became the boss just so I could take the fucking rules down off the wall and turn it into a place where people wanted to do the work because they liked it.

“Love him or hate him,” the meme goes on, “he sure hits the nail on the head with this! Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school.” Except no, he didn’t. (Spoilers!) The list that follows really came from a book called 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School, by Charles J. Sykes, and from the sound of these rules, it’s a book I’ll never read because I already got enough of this kind of get-off-my-lawn “philosophy” from the grumpy old men I grew up with. I would be very surprised to learn that Bill Gates or anybody like him had these whiny, shitty rules posted in his work place.

But to continue with the meme:

He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Oh fuck me. “Politically correct teachings?” Seriously? That’s an even bigger red flag than “this should be posted everywhere.”

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!

Well, this is one hell of a way to start your “rules” to post on the wall of every school and workplace. You might as well write, “I got screwed over, so you should, too! I didn’t have a lot of money, so neither should you. I never had enough to eat, so you shouldn’t expect to be well-fed. My old man beat me, so you should expect to get a few welts across your butts. I’VE BEEN MISERABLE ALL MY LIFE, SO YOU SHOULD BE, TOO.”

I’m so sick of this crap. Life is good. The only thing that makes it bad is people who want to take from you. Fuck those guys. Enjoy life. I’m not saying it’s always fair, but you can enjoy it without having to feel guilty about it.

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

More of the “feeling miserable is all you deserve” bullshit. Here’s what I think: *I* think you deserve to feel good about yourself, and *I* care about your self-esteem. *I* think you will accomplish great things BECAUSE you feel good about yourself. That’s my rule # 2.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

This is a bald-faced lie. Some people WILL make truckloads of money right out of high school. Some people WILL already have truckloads of money BEFORE they finish high school. It’s a well-documented fact. Here’s my rule # 3: Don’t listen to anybody who tells you what you won’t do. They’re still pissed because they weren’t making 60K their first year out of high school.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.

Please. Don’t make me laugh. Teachers aren’t tough and kids know it. Most teachers are pretty great, a few of them are just lame, and there are one or two jerks out there, same as any other profession. Kids figure this out after five minutes with each of them. They’ve also figured out that the really tough people are the kids they’re going to school with: the pricks who make fun of the way they look, or the assholes who pick on them during lunch or recess.

I’m not even sure what a “tough boss” is. There are plenty of really good bosses who will expect a lot out of you, but a really good boss will inspire you to do your best without having to crack a whip over your head.

Bosses are just people, by which I mean there’s nothing all that special about them except they knew the right people and they were just dumb enough to think they’d be good at being a boss. Some of them really are good at being a boss, but in my experience most of them are not all that good at it, and an alarmingly large number of them are bad at it. I mean scary-bad, like they do more harm than good. And that doesn’t make them “tough,” it just makes them bad.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Your grandparents can call it whatever they want in whatever fantasy they’re trying to sell you, but flipping burgers for minimum wage – and it will ALWAYS be for minimum wage – will never be anything but a smelly, sweaty job that nobody really likes and everybody wants to get out of the minute they can. Flip burgers if you have to, but when the opportunity comes along to prepare a good meal for somebody, take it.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

This one and the next one have an oddly specific don’t-blame-your-parents vibe to them. I have a feeling maybe Charles J. Sykes made a lot of parenting choices that resulted in more pushback from his kids than he thought he’d get. Just a hunch.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Kids: If your parents are boring now, chances are they were always boring. You didn’t make them boring any more than they’re the root cause of you making mistakes. Shove that in their faces next time they trot out Rule #6.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

There is so much wrong with Rule #8.

The idea that there have to be losers, for starters. I mean, you can make everything a competition if you think that’s what you need to feel good about yourself, but count me out of your sad power trip. I’m not here to be your loser. You can shove that idea all the way up your ass.

I don’t know how I feel about grades, but I’m all for giving a kid as many chances as he needs to get the right answer. What’s it matter so long as he gets it right? If you think a kid should get only one chance to get the right answer, and be labeled a loser if they don’t, you’re a special kind of warped son of a bitch who needs to fuck all the way off to the other side of the universe.

As far as school bearing any resemblance to real life: Well of course it doesn’t. School is SUPPOSED to be the place where you get all the chances you need to get the right answer BEFORE you have to go face “real” life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

What the hell does that even mean, “life is not divided into semesters?” I suppose Mister Charles J. Sykes doesn’t divide his life into weeks, either, and spend his weekends in front of the television drinking beer and watching the football game, or whatever he does for fun.

Here’s my rule # 9: People who don’t take time off from their jobs now and then are considered workaholics who end up guzzling Maalox straight out of the bottle to control their acid reflux.

As far as “finding yourself” is concerned, I don’t even want my employer messing with my personal life. If my boss tried to give me personal advice, I’d politely tell him to mind his own goddamn business and let me get back to work.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

I don’t know when these rules were written but I suspect it was before people started hovering over their laptops in coffee shops all day, making money. Kids, you may disregard rule # 10. It’s another bald-faced lie.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

You’re a shitheel if you have to be told to be nice to others just because you might end up working for them.

Here’s an idea: BE a nerd! Correct me if I’m wrong, but nerds are people who love a thing so much they make it their whole life. There’s this guy I follow on Facebook who goes to conventions dressed as Batman, or as a robot, or as some armored dude with a hammer as big as Nebraska. He makes the costumes himself out of foam he shapes and glues and paints, and his costumes are so awesome that people beg him to make costumes for them. It’s his job to make and wear superhero costumes! How great is that?

Be this guy. Don’t be the person who has to be told not to make fun of nerds.

This meme ends, “If you agree, pass it on. If you can read this, thank a teacher!” I don’t agree, obviously, but I’m happy to pass it on with my amendments attached.

But I do want to say thank you to Mrs. Roenz, the teacher who got me to read.

fuck your meme | 9:10 am CST
Category: damn kids!, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant
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Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Our clothes drier went on the fritz. It spun and spun and it blew a lot of air through the part where the clothes tumbled around, but it didn’t get hot any more so the clothes took hours and hours to dry.

I asked teh Google why this might be. The thermostat or the heating element, said teh Google. You should check them first, it said, so I did. I know just enough about electricity to endanger myself and others, which I have done, many times. This was not one of those times. With the plug pulled out of the wall, the clothes drier is just a big inert piece of steel. I could poke around inside it all night, and I did. My pokings revealed that it was most likely the heating element that was broken.

So once I knew that, what could I do about it? Turns out, plenty! I easily found a heating element for my cheap-o clothes drier in just a few clicks, and FedEx delivered it to my doorstep in just two days. The internets is a cesspool of bad stuff most of the time, but it’s also occasionally helpful, too.

I fixed that clothes drier for about fifty-five bucks and maybe a hour and a half of my time, and all I needed to do it was a screwdriver, a crescent wrench and all the smarts that a twelve-year-old boy with an interest in electronics would have. Computers are far beyond my ken, but give me a broken clothes drier and I can fix the hell out of it.

Fritz | 8:29 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, fun with electricity, random idiocy
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Monday, November 6th, 2017

Sometime last summer, My Daring B started making smoothies every morning. We took them to work with us. She drank hers almost right away; I think of smoothies as something you eat rather than drink, so I saved mine for lunch.

At some point during the summer, I started making the smoothies because B usually waited until after she’d had her shower, which didn’t give her much time. I figured I could make them while she was in the shower, a time when I usually twiddled my thumbs or picked my nose or something about as constructive.

Making a smoothie isn’t hard. At least, the way I make them isn’t. Two bananas, a cup and a half of chopped-up frozen fruit, about two cups of vanilla soy milk, then blend it all together in our Ninja smoothie-making blender for a minute or so. Takes five minutes, turns out a very tasty smoothie.

After we came home from our week-long vacation in August, I hit a little bump in the smoothie-making road. Come Monday morning, I forgot to make the smoothies. And Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just clean forgot about it. For two, maybe three weeks, I didn’t make smoothies. Now I admit that, somewhere in those two or three weeks, I recalled I used to make smoothies, and I thought, Huh, I should start making smoothies again.

But you know how hard it is to get back into the habit of doing something after you fall out of it? That’s how this was. Every evening I found myself thinking, I should make smoothies tomorrow morning, and then next morning I would be on the sofa twiddling my thumbs for five or ten minutes, vaguely troubled by a thought in the back of my mind that I was forgetting something, and next thing I knew we’d be on our way out the door and it’d hit me – Oh shit! I was gonna make smoothies! And that night I’d promise myself I’d make smoothies the next morning, and then next morning there’d be the thumb-twiddling and the oh shit moment, and so on.

Finally, one morning at work, B’s boss handed me a note with a smirk on her face, turned and walked away. The note said B wasn’t able to perform her duties as well as she had when I made smoothies in the morning, and that she would really appreciate it if I’d make smoothies again so she could have her best worker up to speed again. Something like that. I’ve been making the smoothies ever since.

smoothies | 6:30 am CST
Category: coworkers, daily drivel, My Darling B, office work, random idiocy
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Monday, February 27th, 2017

I ate a whole package of Oreos once, just to see if I could. Which was silly. Of course I could. Anybody could. The question is, should you? And the answer is, not unless you like feeling sick as a dog for the rest of the day.

I don’t, but it’s not like that’s the only time I’ve done something like that, sad to say. Do you remember those malted milk balls that came in a quart-sized milk carton? I don’t remember how much that thing weight, but I ate a whole carton of those once. I think that was before the Oreos incident. I ate the Oreos when I was on my first tour of duty in the Air Force. The malted milk balls were much earlier, probably when I was still in high school. I ate a lot of junk in high school. Everybody did, right?

And once I drank a six-pack of Mountain Dew in one afternoon, again just for the experience. I lived in a very small town. There wasn’t a lot to do. I remember finishing that first can and thinking, “Hey, I could go for another one.” And when I finished the second can I thought, “I could have one more.” After the third can, I couldn’t tell you what I was thinking, other than maybe, “I feel stupid enough to drink the rest.” I can tell you that the buzz I got from drinking six cans of Mountain Dew is not something I ever want to experience again.

The stomach ache, though, apparently was something I wanted to experience over and over, because the malted milk balls and the Oreos came after. I haven’t repeated either of those experiences, but I was thinking about this today because I recently discovered that a nearby grocery store sells dark chocolate malted milk balls in the bulk aisle, and they are sooo good! I have to be careful to buy only a small handful at a time, because once I start eating them, I don’t stop until my stomach hurts, which is probably not the most healthy thing for me, or anybody else, for that matter.

insanity | 7:21 pm CST
Category: food & drink, random idiocy, story time
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Saturday, February 25th, 2017

What’s the word for that irrational feeling that nobody should use the toilet for at least 15 minutes after you finish cleaning it? And is it the same word for the urge to kick the cat when he shits in the cat box right after you rake it? There’s got to be a word for that. Besides “crazy.” That’s too easy.

what is word | 10:16 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Saturday, February 11th, 2017

It seems this would be an especially appropriate time to talk about why I believe rounding up undocumented people and deporting them is so revolting to me.

Right out of the gate I’m going to refuse to use the term “illegal immigrants” or its shortened form, preferred by lunch-room lawyers and pundits, “illegals.” People aren’t illegal. Their actions can be illegal, but people themselves never are. Describing a person as illegal has got to be about the most revolting way you can possibly treat them. I’m going to stick with “undocumented” because my experience tells me it’s the most accurate way to describe them.

Here’s why: We Americans were raised to believe we are citizens because we were born here, but that is no longer true. We are citizens only if we can prove we were born here, which a shocking number of American-born people can’t do, or at least I think it’s shocking. One is shocking. If only it were just one. I go to work every day to help American citizens prove they are who they say they are. It’s literally in my job description.

The standard of proof is usually a state-issued driver’s license or identification card. When I was just a lad, it was pretty easy to get a driver’s license. I filled out an application, I took a test to demonstrate my knowledge of the rules of the road, and voila! I was licensed to drive. But now that a driver’s license is more than just a license to drive, every state of the union requires you to show documented evidence of your birth, usually a certificate issued by the state. If you lost your birth certificate or never had one, you can get a replacement, but the state usually requires you to show photo ID. How’s that for Catch-22?

Just a note here: For a lot of American citizens (way too many, again), birth records simply don’t exist. There are various reasons for this, but the most common are: the state lost the records (fire, flood, incompetence), or the parents didn’t record the birth, sometimes because the parents didn’t believe in or bother with the legal ins and outs of life, but often because they were so poor they didn’t have the resources to travel to the county seat. If you were one of those people, you could record your birth now by going to court, which takes time, money, and the stamina to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops.

It doesn’t end with your birth certificate, by the way. To get a driver’s license you also have to prove your identity, which is different from proving your birth. Most people show a Social Security card to prove their identity. If you don’t have one, guess what you have to show the Social Security Administration in order to get one? See “Catch-22” above.

What I’m getting at is that there are way more undocumented Americans than you know. By the letter of the law that I hear practiced daily by lunch-room lawyers and television pundits, these Americans reside here illegally, because they have no documents to prove they were born here, and a lot of them would not be able to produce documents if you gave them all the time in the world to get them, because they don’t have the resources to do so.

This is relevant to the conversation about people who come to America from other countries without documents because the only thing about their situation that is different is, they weren’t born here. They came here because they wanted a better life for themselves or for their children. That is literally the American dream. Know-it-alls who say immigrants are welcome but only if they jump through the bureaucratic hoops set up to do it legally are speaking from the position of Americans who were born here.

It’s a great privilege to be born in America. You are instantly a citizen. You don’t have to do anything at all to be one. You can literally coast through every step of your life, skip school, duck out of work, do nothing at all for your community or society at large, and still be a citizen. Or, you can excel. Either way, there’s no test, or there wasn’t until you had to show your papers to get a driver’s license. (You watch; eventually American-born citizens will be swept up in these “enforcement actions” for the sole reason that they didn’t have the required documents.)

To the naturalized Americans who jumped through the hoops, good on you. You applied, you paid the money, you took the test. I admire your determination to be a naturalized citizen. I also admire anyone who has the determination to walk here from Central America, then work the rest of their life cleaning toilets in a hotel or deboning chickens in a processing plant so their children can live a longer, fuller life. Whether or not they got naturalized or got a green card, American dream achieved. Documents don’t make us Americans. Determination to live a better life in a better country makes us Americans. Kicking people out of the country doesn’t make it better.

documented | 12:19 pm CST
Category: Life & Death, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags:
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Saturday, January 21st, 2017

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a brief appearance this evening to give the press an update on the president’s activities, BUT FIRST! Spicer went on a four and a half minute tear, snarling and snapping at the press like a pissed-off drama queen. I’ve never seen anything like it from a White House press secretary. Full disclosure: I don’t watch a lot of briefings from White House press secretaries. Maybe they rant like petulant brats all the time. I kind of doubt it. I think that it’s usually the case that White House pressers generally are about as interesting as watching grass grow. Hence my lack of familiarity with them.

“Before I get to the news of the day,” Spicer began, looking for all the world like a pissed-off dad glaring at you from the front seat of the car after he’s just WARNED YOU FOR THE LAST TIME TO KNOCK IT OFF, “I think I’d like to discuss the coverage of the past twenty-four hours.” Then he made some wah-wah Charlie Brown teacher noise about peaceful transfer of power before launching into it: “Some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting. Two instances yesterday stand out: One was a particularly egregious example in which a reporter falsely Tweeted out that the bust of Martin Luther King Junior had been removed from the Oval Office.”

That’s Spicer’s idea of an egregious example of false reporting? That’s what makes him mad enough to use his dad voice? A tweet about the decorations in the Oval Office?

“After it was pointed out that this was just plain wrong,” Spicer continued to fume, “the reporter casually reported and Tweeted out and tried to claim that a Secret Service agent must have been standing in front of it. This was irresponsible –” and here he paused meaningfully to glare at the press “– and reckless.” Except he said that last part in all caps, “THIS WAS IRRESPONSIBLE AND RECKLESS.” I know it was all caps because he used the same tone of voice dad used when he said IF YOU MAKE ME STOP THIS CAR.

Spicer spent the next two minutes railing at the press because they reported that attendance at the inauguration seemed sparse. Photos and videos showed a national mall that was maybe half-filled and empty bleachers all along the parade route. Or, in Spicer’s view of reality: “Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way in one particular tweet to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the national mall.” He used more wah-wah Charlie Brown noise about how floor covering, fencing and magnetometers made the enormous crowds appear smaller than they were. (Magnetometers?)

But reporters tweeting photos of a half-empty mall didn’t fire up Spicer half as much as reporters tweeting out their estimations of the numbers in attendance. “NO ONE HAD NUMBERS,” he snapped, “because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.” What I hear Spicer saying is, without the National Park Service, it’s impossible for reporters to know how many people showed up.

Seconds later, Spicer estimated the numbers in attendance in probably the same way that the reporters did: “We know that from the platform, where the president was sworn in, to 4th Street holds about 250,000 people. From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000, and from the media tent to the Washington Monument another 250,000 people.” (I wonder where Spicer got these numbers? They couldn’t be from the National Park Service, because Spicer just said the NPS doesn’t put any out.)

After rattling off these figures, Spicer declared, “ALL OF THIS SPACE WAS FULL when the president took the oath of office.”

Spicer must be using a definition of the word “full” that I am not able to find in any of my dictionaries. (Yes, I still use dictionaries; why don’t you?) The inauguration is one of the most well-documented events of the year. Photos and videos all showed people strolling easily across the open space at the far end of the mall. There was enough room to play a football game next to the Washington Monument. This is just straight-up gaslighting. Spicer might as well have jumped up on the podium and barked, “WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE, ME OR YOUR LYING EYES?” And for what? Ratings? He’s upset because Trump threw a party and the press reported, as accurately as they could, that ONLY a few hundred thousand people came? His blood boils when Trump doesn’t get the ratings Spicer thinks he deserves?

Then Spicer glared deliberately at the press and announced, “This was the largest audience to witness an inauguration,” and once again he broke out his all-caps voice, “PERIOD, both in person and around the globe.” Dayum. Sorry we made you stop the car, dad.

Spicer added that Trump visited the CIA this afternoon and THEY ADORED HIM! And the president HAD THEIR BACKS! And by the way isn’t it sad that Trump couldn’t meet the CIA director because there wasn’t one because the Democrats were holding up his nomination. OH MY GOD REALLY? I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE except every other time a president nominated anybody at all ever.

Watching Spicer’s presser made me die of embarrassment. I literally died every single time he opened his mouth. I died a hundred times over. I am writing to you from the grave. Literally. (If Spicer can tell bold-faced lies, I can, too.)

PERIOD | 8:04 pm CST
Category: random idiocy, yet another rant | Tags: , ,
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Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Julian Assange, who is most infamously known as the founder of an internet clearing house for “leaked” data, appears in an interview broadcast on mainstream media to warn us all that the U.S. media is very dishonest — more dishonest than anyone knows.

Trump live-tweets the show, also using U.S. media.

There isn’t enough gin in the world to make me feel good about the idea that Trump thinks Julian Assange, abetted by Sean Hannity, is now setting the bar for honesty in this country.

dishonest assange | 10:12 pm CST
Category: current events, random idiocy, yet another rant | Tags: , ,
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The other day I peed my pants like a little boy and survived to tell the tale.

It all started with breakfast at the Avenue Club, a venerable Madison supper club on East Washington Avenue. We went there to take advantage of their New Year’s unlimited pancake breakfast. They brought each of us two freshly-baked pancakes as big as a dinner plate, invited us to visit the table where they had set up dishes heaped with toppings such as pecans, almond slivers, chocolate chips and the like, and said if we wanted more, we could help ourselves to the mountain of hot cakes on the steam table they were continually refreshing.

As it turned out, “all you can eat” means the two giant pancakes they brought me in the beginning. This was a classic “eyes bigger than head” situation. I was really very proud of myself just for finishing those two.

I ordered a tall glass of orange juice with my breakfast, and after we stuffed ourselves full of pancakes, we lingered over coffee for a little while. That was my third coffee of the day, after our customary hot cuppa (or two) to wake up as soon as we got out of bed. My kidneys were doing their best to keep up, and I made a couple stops at the club and again as soon as we got home, so I sincerely thought output had caught up with input. I was so very wrong.

I was maybe four blocks from home when I began to replan my route. I’d thought of going as far as the library, which reminded me there were no public buildings open anywhere today. Maybe not such a good idea to get too far from home. By the time I was walking along Winnequah Road down by the shore of Squaw Bay, I was sure than shortening my route was a good idea.

I had the stop sign at Maywood Road in sight, two blocks away, so picked that as my turnaround point, hung a right at Kelly Place and squiggled through its twisty turns until I got to Panther Trail, which I followed up to Bridge Road, a total of maybe three blocks. By the time I got to Bridge Road there were enough alarm bells going off in my hind brain to make me nervous.

It’s a two-block walk up Bridge Road to Frost Woods Road, and one block along Frost Woods to Sylvan Lane. I was speed-walking all the way. By the time I was in the home stretch I was sure there was going to be an accident in plain sight of the whole neighborhood, but I managed to hang on until I unlocked the front door of our house and stepped inside.

I remember playing in the living room with our son Sean when he was maybe three or four years old. We were on the floor setting up a skirmish with a bunch of plastic dinosaurs or something like that when all at once he jumped up and began a fast march across the room as if he’d just received a coded message by radio wave from the mother ship. Halfway across the room he yanked his pants down and tried to manually stop himself from emptying his bladder on the way but failed, squirting a trail that pointed into the hallway and continued into the bathroom.

That was me as I ran across the living room. It’s kind of funny when it’s a four-year-old, not nearly as funny when it’s a fifty-six-year-old.

kegle | 6:29 am CST
Category: daily drivel, falling apart, random idiocy, Seanster, TMI Tuesday | Tags:
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Sunday, January 1st, 2017

I left a bag of poop on somebody’s desk. That’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that.

My Darling B even helped me. I asked her to get a ziplock bag for me and hold it open while I dumped poop into it. She did. So if I get thrown under the bus for this, I’m taking her down with me.

It was my cat’s poop. And we bagged it because the vet asked for it. So in the end it wasn’t like I was doing something weird, although the part about leaving it on the desk was my idea. There wasn’t anybody at the reception desk when I opened the door to the vet’s office and stepped into the lobby. The lobby was empty, too, and the desk remained unattended even after I shuffled around and cleared my throat several times.

The door to the offices in the rear of the shop was open. I stepped into the short hallway beyond it, stopped and listened. It was completely still.

“Hello?” I called out. No answer. “Hello?” Still no answer. I stepped back out into the lobby.

A postman came in, said hello to me, dropped a handful of envelopes in a basket on the desk, and left. He was a big guy. He made a lot of noise. Surely, I thought, somebody in the back heard him come and go. But if they did, they made no response at all.

I returned to the open door to the back offices and knocked. “Hello?” Nothing.

So I went back to the desk, grabbed a post-it note and a pen, wrote my name and phone number on the note and stuck it to the bag of poop. I left the poop on the desk, and I went home. About halfway home I wondered if it was somehow a violation of municipal code to leave a bag of poop on somebody’s desk, but I decided that if it was, I was going to fall back on the “they asked for it” defense.

Not five minutes after I got home, I got a call from a technician at the vet’s office who let me know, laughing a little bit as she did, that she found the poop on her desk and put in in a fridge for testing later. So no jail time in the future for me, at least not for this.

i gave them poop | 12:01 am CST
Category: random idiocy | Tags:
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Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

I had an instructor in college who despaired the state of the English language because of the way people misused the word “hopefully.” I understood his argument but I didn’t get where he was coming from because a) I was in the camp of people who felt that English was a language that had been evolving for hundreds of years and would continue to do so, mainly because b) there wasn’t a force on earth that could stop people from misusing “hopefully” or any other word, and besides, c) I grew up using “hopefully” the wrong way, i.e. “Hopefully, people will continue to use words in new and inventive ways.”

Now I’m old and fossilized, and a lot less tolerant of new and inventive adaptations. A single word or phrase will spin me up in a second. While driving home from work today, I heard an NPR correspondent say “hone in on,” a phrase that’s like a hot needle in my ear. Honestly, if you want to ruin my day, maybe even my whole week, all you have to do is say something like, “this really hones in on the the problem,” which probably doesn’t sound wrong to you if you’re under thirty. Everybody says it, and has been saying it for years. It’s practically normal. I should be used to it by now, but it makes me want to grind my teeth right down to the roots because it’s WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Or, here’s another phrase that clunks up against my head: “VIN number,” for the same stupid reason that “ATM machine” bothers certain English nerds. “ATM” stands for “automated teller machine,” so when you say “ATM machine,” what you’re literally saying is “automated teller machine machine.” In the same way, what you’re literally saying when you say “VIN number” is “vehicle identification number number.”

And it just so happens that I work for the DMV, and my desk is right next to a call center, so I get to hear the people who pick up the phones ask callers, “can I have the VIN number?” a couple dozen times a day. Right after that they usually say, “Vehicle Identification Number,” because the caller didn’t know what “VIN number” meant. Makes me want to jump up on my desk so everybody can see me over their cubicle walls and shout, “DO YOU SEE WHY THAT IS SO WRONG? DO YOU?” But they wouldn’t, and I’d only be hauled away in a straitjacket, so I stay firmly rooted in my seat, grinding my teeth.

Hopefully, people will stop doing this. They won’t, but I’m hopeful.

hone home hope | 7:00 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Friday, November 13th, 2015

Here’s your riddle of the day: Where’s Barry Manilow on all those “Saturday at the Seventies” radio programs and playlists on Amazon? I grew up in the Seventies and I can tell you that barely an hour went by when you didn’t hear Barry Manilow on the radio or hear somebody singing a Barry Manilow song. There was no escaping Barry Manilow back then, so how come you never, ever hear him when they do a throwback set on the radio now?

puzzlement | 6:17 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, October 29th, 2015

I sneezed this morning and it’s like everything came apart in my head. Slobber, snot, maybe even some brains. I was oozing stuff that I didn’t know I could ooze. Took a little while and several sheets of Kleenex to wipe it all up. I just love it that we can share like this. Thanks.

gesundheit | 6:26 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Monday, October 26th, 2015

Some celebrity told a story on the radio this morning of the time he saw a ghost, a segment they introduced by asking rhetorically, “Are ghosts real? We’ll find out from so-and-so in a minute.”

Um? No. We won’t. First of all because he’s an actor, not a spiritualist (DAMMIT, JIM!), but even more obviously because there’s no such thing as ghosts, duh.

It’s not hard to figure out why. As I understand the concept, ghosts are leftover dead people. Correct me if I’m wrong. Some dead people go to heaven, some of them go to hell, and some of them wander the earth for reasons that are never clearly explained. Which is kinda the point of ghost stories, I get that.

But if ghosts were real, and a given number of dead people are ghosts, and a thousand billion people have died since the beginning of time, then the world would be jam-packed with ghosts by now. Assholes to bellybuttons. You wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without surprising at least one or two ghosts on the way. Facebook would be nothing but photos of ghosts instead of kittens.

And yet, somehow, there are no ghosts in my bathroom, in my basement, or on my Facebook feed. I’ve never come across even one while walking alone through the woods. They’ve never gone “Boo!” at me out of a mirror.

I’m not saying they’re impossible. Okay, I am. There are no ghosts.

Where are the ghosts? | 9:41 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Phrases about working in the garden that sound normal when My Darling B says them but sound dirty when I say them:

  • pruning the sage
  • plowing the potato bed
  • weeding the patch
  • sowing the sweet peas
  • is that a dibble in your pocket?
is that a dibble in your pocket? | 11:06 am CST
Category: garden, random idiocy, yard work
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Monday, January 19th, 2015

It’s been ten years since Battlestar Galactica was rebooted by the SyFy Network.

Everybody else’s take: Greatest Television Show Ever Broadcast.

My take, staying in the five-word format: Looks great, stupid as hell.

Looks great: Really great, if you get off on space ships, and who doesn’t? Stupid people, that’s who. And also, killer robots! What’s not to like?

Stupid as hell: The killer robots lurch and shamble like old-school zombies which nonetheless manage to sneak up on the humans even though they go whirrr-whirrr, whirrr-whirrr and CLANK! CLANK! CLANK! with every step.

Looks great: I like watching Edward James Olmos do just about anything, and I especially liked the way he growled through his role as Adama.

Stupid as hell: Baltar is crazy. Raves, talks, jumps and squirms because an invisible Cylon is constantly harassing him. I get it that nobody can see the Cylon, but everybody can clearly see that Baltar constantly, relentlessly acts like he’s out of his goddamn mind. The only crazy thing he doesn’t do is foam at the mouth, and yet the other key people in the show listen to him as if he behaved like a wizened sage. Wait, maybe they’re all batshit crazy. I just thought of that.

Looks great: The new fighters look cool!

Stupid as hell: Why are there one-man fighter planes on the Galactica, a ship that must be at least a mile long with enough room inside to carry destroyers, dreadnaughts, cruisers, torpedo boats, anything with more firepower than fighters that carry just two guns!

looks great but | 10:42 am CST
Category: entertainment, play, random idiocy, television, yet another rant
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Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Yesterday, for what I’m pretty sure was the first time ever at the office where I work now, someone stepped up to the middle urinal while I was at the right urinal and someone else was at the left urinal. I’m almost one-hundred percent positive that’s never happened there before. At least, not that I’ve seen. I’ve been working there a little over fourteen months. Maybe the old-timers know different.

This particular building went up in 1964, back when urinals stood four feet tall and were sunk into the floor. More to the point, they were very often planted so close together that, when every one of them was occupied, you rubbed shoulders with the guy beside you. I had to learn early on not to mind getting nudged while peeing. That hardly ever happens in modern buildings, where urinals are spaced far enough apart to put up a steel divider between them.

There’s a gang of three urinals in the men’s room off the elevator lobby, and like the rest of the men on our floor, I’ve always used one of the end urinals. Nobody uses the middle urinal, not even when they go in and find themselves all alone, because what if somebody comes in? And if you go in and find that both end urinals are occupied, you either pass by on your way to the toilets, or you do a one-eighty and go to another floor.

I’m not sure why. My first guess was that most guys think it’s gay, but I’m not sure that figures, when you think about it even a little bit. Most guys stand way too far from the urinal while they’re using it – that’s not my opinion, that’s a fact that a quick scan of the floor will confirm – so I don’t think they’re uncomfortable about putting their junk on public display. But maybe it’s the shoulder-rubbing that they’re uncomfortable with. I’m more than a little uncomfortable with it, to be totally honest. I don’t want to be rubbing shoulders with anyone other than my wife in any situation that isn’t a dire emergency.

My second guess, and this one seems a lot more likely to me, is that the social dynamic of the public bathroom has changed a lot in fifty years. Used to be that guys would gab a lot in the men’s room. Especially so at the urinals, probably because they were packed so close together anyway. If a guy stepped into the vacant spot next to you, he’d say Hi, How Bout Them Packers? Or he’d tell you the latest one he heard about the priest, the rabbi and the pastor, and you’d be expected to tell him the best one you heard that week. Doesn’t happen now. I’m not lamenting it; things change. But you can observe it yourself: Guys don’t talk much in the men’s room any more, least of all at the urinals, where they’re silent as gargoyles. About half of them are plugged into podcasts anyway, so you couldn’t trade jokes with them if you wanted to.

Which is why I was absolutely gobsmacked, and just a little taken aback, frankly, when a guy stepped into the middle urinal yesterday. I almost said something to him. Not about the score of the last Packers game, but something like, Did you even check to see if there’s an open toilet? Because I’m pretty sure he didn’t. And because he had Transgressed the Unwritten Law. It’s not like there are a lot of rules to using the men’s room, but this one has solidified over the years to the point that it’s virtually carved into the tiles above the middle urinal: Thou Shalt Not. Back Away. Do It Now.

And yet, there he was. Guy’s obviously too much of a rebel for unwritten laws. Or he’s from another planet. Didn’t think of that until just now.

middle | 9:49 am CST
Category: coworkers, daily drivel, Farts & Farting, office work, random idiocy, this modern world, work, yet another rant
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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

They said the days would get longer. Why is it still dark outside? Why aren’t the days getting longer? WHAT THE HELL?

Sorry. I’ve been up half the night. I’ll probably be a little grumpy today.

Also: I’m ready for it to stop raining. It’s been raining since November. I could stand a little less rain.

longer | 5:28 am CST
Category: random idiocy, sleeplessness
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Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

I don’t have an opinion one way or another about the practice of “vaping.” Huff and puff on whatever gets you off, it’s all the same to me. But “vape” is a dumb word. That, I have a definite opinion about. I won’t point at or ridicule you if you vape, but I will chortle and sneer with the utmost derision if you use the word “vape” like it’s a cool thing. It’s not. Come up with a different word. That one stinks.

vape? not! | 8:35 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy | Tags:
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Saturday, August 30th, 2014

I meant to do that …

intention | 9:02 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Friday, August 8th, 2014

Mom & Pete on the toboggan runFor a couple years, my family lived in Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It snows there fourteen months out of the year, so everybody knew how to catch fish by cutting a hole in the ice, and every family owned at least one toboggan. I just love that word. I could say it all day. Toboggan toboggan toboggan. Toboggan. So much fun.

We had a toboggan. Here’s a photo of it. I believe that’s my brother Pete in front with a great big smile on his face and my mother in back, holding the wings of toboggan in her vise-like grip to keep Pete safely tucked under its curled-back staves.

If memory serves, the photo was taken somewhere near Ishpeming. I think it might have been on a hill where there were several ski jumps. This isn’t one of them. It’s even crazier than a ski jump. That track that the toboggan is running down is a sheet of ice polished smooth by the passage of hundreds of toboggans that went before. There are two wooden rails on either side, as you can see, to keep the toboggan going straight down the hill, and a good thing, too, because the toboggan and all its passengers are going about a hundred twenty miles per hour by the time they get halfway down.

The way this gizmo worked was, you took your toboggan into that little hut in the background and threw it onto a table between a couple of short fences, which you can just barely see outlined against the window in the back of the hut. Then you climbed aboard the toboggan, and once everyone had a death grip on it, a guy in the hut would lift up one end of the table, which tipped over like a teeter-totter until the low end clacked into the groove at the bottom of the open door. The short fences on the table kept your toboggan lined up perfectly with the icy track outside. As the table was now at a thirty-degree angle and there was nothing to hold the toboggan back, it and everyone on board went VOOM! out the door of the hut and screaming down the chute at terrifying speeds.

When you finally came to at stop, somewhere near Wausau, you picked up the toboggan and carried it in-line back to the top of the hill to do it again, cackling with glee.

toboggan | 8:37 pm CST
Category: Mom, O'Folks, Pete, random idiocy, story time
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The Toyota garage we take our car to for service appears to be staffed entirely by children.

The guy who acted like he was in charge had to be in his early to mid twenties. If I had to guess based on the context, I’d peg him at twenty-four. If I had to guess after just a glance at his baby face, though, I’d notch him down to eighteen. Not older than twenty.

The gal at the front desk making appointments and printing up invoices could’ve been sixteen.

No doubt this is a sign of my encroaching decrepitude and old age, and I’ll soon be getting a drink by dunking my face in a great big bowl, then tipping my head back and gulping, slopping water down my neck and all over the floor as I do.

kid world | 9:41 pm CST
Category: Life & Death, random idiocy
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Friday, May 2nd, 2014

All I needed was eight bags of Fritos, the snack-size bags that you can grab off the shelf at the gas station. I thought I could get them at the local Copps store down the corner because it’s just down the road and, well, because it’s a grocery store. Seemed like a no-brainer. But no matter where I looked in the mile-long aisle of snack foods, all I could find were giant-sized bags with enough Fritos in them to feed an entire kindergarten class for a week. I must’ve gone up and down that aisle half a dozen times before I gave up, went to the gas station across the street, and … didn’t find any Fritos. Lots of snack chips, no Fritos. My shopping list was very specific. They had to be Fritos. At the next gas station there were only five bags of Fritos on the shelf. “I need three more of these,” I said to the gal at the checkout. “Any chance you have more in the back?” She went to look, came back empty-handed; no joy. I paid for the five bags and went on. Finally found all the Fritos I needed at the next gas station. and that’s how I spent my evening, grocery shopping at every gas station in Monona.

Fritos | 6:32 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy, story time
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Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Um …

image of handerpants

Damn. Wish I’d thought of that.

handerpants | 6:24 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Sunday, April 13th, 2014

We had a visit from the axe murderer the other night. We were both very sure he was there. He creeps into our house every so often with his double-bladed war axe that drips with the blood of his victims, at least one of which he killed just minutes before he broke into our little red house, and he tiptoes across the floor silent as a cat until he bumps into an end table, or knocks a book off a shelf, or steps on that creaky floorboard in front of the closet, waking us up. Then he melts into the shadows and waits for us to fall asleep again, because the axe murderer will kill you only if you fall asleep. If we lie awake and stare at the bedroom doorway, he won’t kill us. It’s a physical law, like gravity.

A couple books fell off the dresser in the guest room and landed face-down on the floor (I discovered the next morning), making a sound like a gunshot that woke me with a jump from deep within a dream. When I realized it was dark I was puzzled, because the first thought that went through my head was that My Darling B must have knocked over a book by her bedside. She’s got a couple dozen going at once, most standing on edge on the floor, and they make that noise when she reaches for them and knocks one or two over. But it was dark, as I said, and she was lying absolutely still beside me, holding her breath, because, you know, the monsters can’t see you if you hold your breath and don’t move. You’re invisible.

I broke the spell by blurting out, “What was that?”

“Did you hear it, too?” she asked.

“What?”

“That noise. I thought I dreamed it.”

“I thought you knocked over a book.”

“No, I was asleep.”

We laid there a minute or two longer. Neither one of us had mentioned the axe murderer, but we were both waiting for something like the bedroom door to swing shut, revealing his hiding spot and trapping us within what would be known afterwards as The Scene Of The Crime.

“I’m going to see what it was,” I said, and snapped on my bedside light.

I walked all through the house but couldn’t find anything that looked like it had fallen, so I went back to bed without an explanation. That’s bad. If I’d found a book on the floor, never mind how it got there, it would explain the noise. Not finding the book meant the axe murderer was still in the house.

“Find anything?” B asked hopefully.

“Nope, couldn’t find a thing,” I said as nonchalantly as I could. “I’m sure it was just a book falling. Couldn’t have been anything else.” 

But we both knew otherwise, because we both laid there wide-awake for at least an hour, waiting for the axe to fall. When it didn’t, I fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion. B did, too, and I expect she woke up suddenly just as I did when she knew she was asleep. But neither one of us was killed in our sleep, so that meant the axe murderer must have left. He does that, too: Tiptoes out of the house when we ruin his evil plan by waking up and talking out loud.

a visit from the axe murderer | 7:53 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy, sleeplessness, story time
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Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The Seanster and I were exchanging giddy text messages about the latest movie teaser for the upcoming Godzilla movie. Turns out my phone not only knows how to spell “Godzilla” already, it autofills “Godzilla” after I type the first three letters, because obviously who would ever stop after typing just “God?”

godzilla bless autofill | 6:10 am CST
Category: entertainment, movies, play, random idiocy
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Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

eatthisIf I never see this advertisement again, that’ll be just fine with me. It seems to pop up on every single web site I’ve visited recently, as if I’ve been Googling “gobs of blood-encrusted snot I’d like to swallow.” There’s a part of me that would like to know what the connection is between high blood pressure and dabs of phlegm, but the even larger part of me that never, ever wants to know has so far been victorious in keeping me from clicking on said advertisements. And may it ever continue to do so. The day I start eating scabby mucous to control my blood pressure is the day I start living my worst nightmares.

eat me | 9:41 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Monday, January 27th, 2014

I’m still feeling full after eating out every night but one last week and then getting a belly full of beer at the anniversary party they threw at Central Waters Brewing on Saturday, so I wasn’t going to eat breakfast.

Then I thought, You know, if you don’t eat breakfast, you’ll make it to about ten o’clock and then your stomach’s gonna start growling.

And then I thought, Okay, I’ll have a bowl of oatmeal. That’ll hold me over. Inner Me was satisfied with that idea, so he was hugely disappointed when I couldn’t find the oatmeal. Couldn’t find it anywhere. A whole box of oatmeal. Just bought it on, like, Friday and today it was nowhere to be found!

Keep looking, Inner Me said. There aren’t a lot of places it could be in a tiny kitchen like this.

Well, okay, I said. Got any suggestions?

Check in the cupboard over the clothes dryer where she keeps the table cloths.

Don’t be stupid. Why would she have put it there?

Okay, don’t listen to me. Go hungry. See if I care.

So I checked and, what do you know, that’s where she put it. I’ll have to check that cupboard more often to see what else she’s hiding in there.

Inner Me | 5:50 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Sunday, January 26th, 2014

photo booth film stripRemember photo booths? For a buck and a half’s worth of quarters, you could get a snot-covered film strip of photos of all the people you went out drinking with. For me, they were a lot of fun because every strip was a collection of four completely random shots taken at the most awkward moments, no matter how carefully you tried to time them. If you got even one shot that made anybody in the photo look normal, it was just dumb luck.

Also part of the fun was getting as many people into the booth as were willing to crawl on top of one another, then trying to get everyone’s face in one shot. I think the most I’ve ever seen in a single shot was five, maybe six people. Recognizable people. I’ve seen plenty of shots with five faces that were complete enough to recognize, with a nose or an eyeball peeking through a gap, leaving the rest of us to wonder, Hmmm, who was with us that night?

My brother and I used to duck into these things wherever we found them. A lot of the time we went out of our way to find them, like whenever we happened by a forgotten Kresge’s store. You could always find a photo booth somewhere in a Kresge’s or Ben Franklin, almost as if they were required by state law to maintain one somewhere on the premises. The booth was usually somewhere just inside the front door; I always imagined that was for people who had to run out to get a passport or ID photo, but in some stores that apparently didn’t give a rip it was squirreled away in the back where you’d never think of looking for it, like behind the men’s underwear or in the pet supplies.

I’ve used modern photo booths have lots of so-called improvements to them, but the only change I approve of is that the photos don’t come out of the slot covered in what seemed to be dog slobber. Just about every other so-called improvement is a real let-down, as far as I can see.

For a start, I had to stand up in the modern photo booths I used. There was no stool, and furthermore there was no back and no sides to the booth, just a curtain in back. Wrong, WRONG, WRONG! For a proper photo booth experience, it’s got to be a booth with a stool, made with the intention of snapping a photo of a single person. Otherwise, where’s the fun of trying to cram four or five people into it?

The modern booths I’ve used also had a computer screen that let me preview the shot. Again, this completely eliminates an essential element of the photo booth experience: Random, chaotic composition in your photos. A proper photo booth should have a tiny red light that blinks to let you know that it’s about to take a picture, then waits so long to actually snap the shot that you end up with a puzzled look on your face in nearly every photo.

Finally, I liked that the photos had that weird print quality, slightly out of focus and somewhere between black-and-white and sepia toned, although now that Instagram’s so popular, I imagine this has been corrected.

say cheese! | 9:47 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

potted rosemaryAnybody know what the trick to keeping a rosemary plant alive is? If you do, you’d better tell us because we’ve killed every single rosemary plant we’ve ever brought into this house and it’s just going to keep on happening unless something or someone breaks the cycle.

That’s right, every single one. I admit, some have died through sheer neglect. At least one of them never got watered at all that I’m aware of, but most have been watered at least once in their short lives. The one that’s currently on our dining room table, the one that served as our Christmas tree last year, has been watered every day. Didn’t matter. Within a week of arrival it was already dropping needles all over the table and getting a brown in spots, and within two weeks one whole side of it had faded badly. It’s now a zombie rosemary bush, half of it dead, half of it alive. The alive part looks pretty good, but the dead part looks awful.

I read that rosemary doesn’t like wet soil so I was watering it only sparingly but at least once a day. Since that obviously turned out to be bullshit advice, I’ve been watering it morning and night for the last two weeks. I also started “misting” it twice a day, but again that was on advice I read on the internet and that didn’t work last time so I don’t know why I’m trying it again. Desperation, I suppose.

Anyway, if you have any ideas I’d be glad to try just about anything short of cutting my finger and feeding it my own blood.

rosemary time | 5:59 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Brittney: “Do you know Barb Karpowla?”

Me: “Who? I don’t think I’ve met her.”

Brittney [funny look]: “Barb, your wife. Do you carpool?”

Me: “Oh. Yeah. Uh, I thought you were asking about somebody named Barb Karpowla.”

Brittney [laughing]: “I thought you were making fun of me!”

Barb Karpowla | 8:31 pm CST
Category: coworkers, daily drivel, office work, random idiocy, work
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Monday, January 20th, 2014

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but you have to keep your head upright while you’re chewing or food. If you duck your head, or bend over to take the dishes out of the wash machine, bits of food will come out your nose. Or is that just me?

crumbs | 3:54 pm CST
Category: random idiocy
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Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The coffee that comes with the complimentary breakfast at hotels always tastes like boiled cardboard, even when it’s not served in a paper cup. It must have taken years of devoted study to learn how to do that.

cardboard | 6:42 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Monday, January 6th, 2014

How bout this cold weather, hey? Car start all right this morning then? Whoo, I might need a jump! Kay, I got to go, keep warm!

obligatory cold weather reference | 8:42 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Yeah, so … it’s gonna get a little cold.

wind chills

Not sure if that’s tonight, or tomorrow, or when hell freezes over. “Future” is a little vague, don’t you think?

chills | 10:00 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Friday, December 27th, 2013

Tom Bowman reports for NPR that the Marine Corps will delay enforcing the 3-pullup requirement for female recruits, prompting crotchety old coot and misogynistic retired army colonel Robert Maginnis to say the delay shows that women just can’t meet the same standards.

“Young women, in spite of all the training and all the best intentions, are not going to be the equal of young men in terms of upper body strength,” Maginnis says. “You’ve got to have a lot of upper body strength to lift the stuff. Been there, done that.”

Maginnis, author of the not-at-all-wildly-sensationalist book Deadly Consequences: How Cowards are Pushing Women into Combat, has apparently never laid eyes on a real woman and probably needs to get out more.

upper body | 8:37 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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So that you might feel, I don’t know, unclean for the rest of the day, here is a 24-inch long disembodied tongue licking a snail:

Florida Horse Conch

Or, it could be a Florida Horse Conch. You decide.

tongue | 7:45 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Yet more proof that you can’t believe everything you see:

image of faces“The flashed face distortion effect is an optical illusion involving the fast-paced presentation of eye-aligned faces. Faces appear grotesquely transformed whilst one focuses on the cross midway between them. As with many scientific discoveries, the phenomenon was first observed serendipitously … The phenomenon … also represents an example of scientific phenomenology which outstrips (in this case) neurological theory. According to Susanna Martinez-Conde, president of the Neural Correlate Society … ‘We may have theories, but the experiments have not been done, because it’s too early. This is really at the cutting edge.'” – from Wikipedia

funhouse | 6:58 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Recipe for cats: When folding clothes fresh from the dryer, stack them on the table. Within the hour, cats will begin to appear.

spontaneously generated boo | 9:30 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, December 5th, 2013

This is the blog my oldest son would’ve written if there had only been such a thing as blogs back around 1989 or so:

Nanotyrannus was only about a third of the size of the biggest tyrannosaurs, which you might think would preclude it from this list [of the 5 most awful Tyrannosaurs]. The problem with that line of thinking is that a third of huge is still pretty freaking big. Hell, a seventeen foot long Nanotyrannus could probably hide in your garage. Are you going to go to your garage, be ambushed by a Nanotyrannus, and be like, “Oh, this is fine. This tyrannosaur is only seventeen feet long.”

From Dinosaurs!WTF?

dinosaurs!wtf? | 8:24 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Finally, somebody else said it too:

Santa is a douchebag

When I was a kid, I used to watch the old Rankin-Bass version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer same as everybody else without thinking much about it. Then as a grown-up I started showing it to my kids and when we got to the scene where Santa tells Rudolph’s dad how ashamed he ought to be for having such a freak for a son, it dawned on me what a huge asshole they made Santa out to be. I didn’t want my kids watching a show that made Santa look like an asshole. When I explained my objection to My Darling B she saw the light, too, and our kids never saw that cartoon again.

Whenever I tell this story, B likes to add that I ruined one of her favorite childhood cartoons. Shucks, it’s all in a day’s work, ma’am.

rudolph | 5:14 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

worst scooter driver everI would love to know the back story that lead up to the video of a person on a scooter running into two cars, another scooter and a bus before finally plunging into a well or a caisson or a pit of despair. There’s got to be one hell of a good story here. Was he drunk? Was he fleeing the authorities? Was he fleeing an enraged spouse? Or was this what his normal everyday commute looked like, except for the part where he plunged out of sight down a deep hole? There’s a terrific story waiting to be told here, I just know it.

backstory | 8:01 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Fling!I just can’t stop watching this and snorting every time it flings the trash all over the sidewalk. I’ll probably still be here when you wake up tomorrow morning, giggling hysterically.

And, just to put the needed dark spin on it: This is a vision of the robot apocalypse. We won’t be killed off by maleavolent weaponized drones connected through a self-aware artificial intelligence like SkyNet. We’ll be accidently hurled across the street into a brick wall by robots that were supposed to be doing something as innocuously simple as emptying a trash bin.

FLING! | 7:48 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Is it just me, or does the Inada DreamWave massaging chair look like the kind of soul-sucking weaponized Lay-Z-Boy used by the villain of a sci-fi movie to make Our Hero scream like an infant?

massage chair

man-eating chair | 9:01 am CST
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Thursday, November 28th, 2013

suesslikeI started to type “Why does 68 degrees feel cold in the winter and warm in the summer?” I got only as far as “why does” when the spirit of Dr. Suess furnished me with this page out of Green Eggs and Ham, if Green Eggs and Ham had included a page where Sam-I-Am wanders the aisles of Walgreen’s in search of feminine hygiene products and a do-it-yourself Clairol hair care dye kit.

I continued my search after snapping a screen shot. I found all sorts of explanations. All of them made some kind of sense, and all of them contradicted each other, so I still don’t know why 68 degrees feels colder in the winter than it does in the summer, but I did find out why the house was actually colder today: The thermostat is programmed to let the house cool down to 64 degrees after seven o’clock on weekday mornings, because we’re on our way to work by then. It didn’t know we weren’t at work because today is a holiday.

interrogative | 8:09 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

I’ve been on the road for a couple days in the service of the Great State of Wisconsin, which means that I haven’t had a decent cup of coffee until just this morning. The hotels we stay in on these trips are all the kind that serve a complimentary breakfast of dried cereal or make-your-own waffles, and the coffee they set out for us comes out of a great big stainless steel urn. I was very hopeful the first time I saw that. Although coffee that’s been stewing all morning in a great big urn does not always taste the best, it’s usually strong enough to strip the paint off the sides of a battleship. Alas, chain hotels have apparently figured out how to water down urn coffee so it wouldn’t wake up a light sleeper if you poured the whole thing on his head.

I’m a light sleeper, but I’d like a strong cup of coffee in the morning, preferably two. That’s just not happening, not at the hotel and not anywhere near the hotel. The off-ramp territory where chain hotels are built seems to be the last places on earth where Starbucks fears to tread. I don’t like the coffee Starbucks makes; it all tastes burned to me, but at least it’s strong. I’d trudge a quarter-mile on foot and gratefully slug back a cup of their French Roast if I could just get my hands on one, but no joy.

There’s usually a McDonald’s nearby, but I won’t set food in a McDonald’s again until after the apocalypse.

Which reminds me: Whatever happens, even if the zombie hoards are overrunning the city, do not resort to drinking the stuff that comes out of those toy coffee makers in hotel rooms. Not only is that stuff not coffee, it’s not drinkable. It may even be injurious to human health, but I’m not saying anyone should be forced to drink it just so we can find out.

javaless | 9:40 am CST
Category: coffee, food & drink, random idiocy, travel, work, yet another rant
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Friday, November 15th, 2013

Litton RX hard suitThere’s been a lot of publicity lately for a book I just finished reading, “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo,” and all of it has been along the lines of “From Bras to Space Suits,” or some such nonsense.

It’s a much more fascinating book than all the hype makes it out to be, not least because it brings to light the “hard suits” that were designed to compete with the “soft suit” that was eventually selected by NASA. If there had been just a skosh more room inside the spacecraft, we might have seen Neil Armstrong step out of the lunar lander in a suit that looked like something straight out of The Forever War, or Starship Troopers, Gundam or whatever battle armor-story is most relevant to your generation.

Not that the A7L pressure suit, the one that the moon walkers ended up wearing, wasn’t totally badass in its own right. It had a way of making every one of the astronauts who wore it look like a helmeted gorilla whose superpower was being able to fly spaceships. Now that I think of it, wouldn’t that be pretty awesome?

But the hard suits had it all over the soft suits as far as looks go. The AX-3 was probably the best-looking of all of them, but if I were going to film a cinematic version of Starship Troopers, I’m afraid I might not be able to resist the retro look of the Litton RX-2 hard suit. It was designed to be practical, not photogenic, and yet it managed to be both.

At the Smithsonian:
Ames Research AX-2, 1966/67
AiResearch EX-1A
Litton RX-2A
Litton RX-3, 1966
Litton RX-4, 1967
Litton B-1A

Bugs, Mr. Rico! | 12:39 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, November 14th, 2013

According to today’s puzzling meme, I’m supposed to feel secure in the national sense because of deer hunters:

A blogger added up the deer license sales in just a handful of states and arrived at a striking conclusion:

There were over 600,000 hunters this season in the state of Wisconsin .. Allow me to restate that number: 600,000! Over the last several months, Wisconsin ‘s hunters became the eighth largest army in the world.(That’s more men under arms than in Iran . More than France and Germany combined. ) These men, deployed to the woods of a single American state, Wisconsin, to hunt with firearms, And NO ONE WAS KILLED.

That number pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted the woods of Pennsylvania and Michigan ‘s 700,000 hunters, ALL OF WHOM HAVE RETURNED HOME SAFELY.

Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia and it literally establishes the fact that the Hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world.

And then add in the total number of hunters in the other 46 states.
It’s millions more.

The point

America will forever be safe from foreign invasion with that kind of home-grown firepower!

Hunting… it’s not just a way to fill the freezer. It’s a matter of national security.

That’s why all enemies, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed.

Food for thought, when next we consider gun control, whether you agree with it or not.

Overall it’s true, so if we disregard some assumptions that hunters Don’t possess the same skills as soldiers, the question would still remains… What army of 2 million would want to face 30 million, 40 million, or 50 million armed citizens???

For the sake of our freedom, don’t ever allow gun control or confiscation of guns.

I’m supposed to feel safe and secure because hunters who shoot at deer and geese a couple times a year will protect the US from invasion by armies of men and women who have been trained to shoot back with missiles, bombs and bullets from armored vehicles, helicopter gunships and supersonic jet planes. Hmmm.

puzzling memes | 5:40 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

meme01Maybe I’m missing the point of this meme, but to me, your argument is invalid when you start with the premise that North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran are better than the US because they shoot people who cross their borders.


puzzling memes | 6:35 am CST
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Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Sarah Palin? She just stomps around and makes noise. She’s a political Godzilla.
– My Darling B


political Godzilla | 4:59 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, My Darling B, O'Folks, random idiocy
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