Friday, February 3rd, 2023

We were watching the first episode of “The Last of Us” when my mom texted me. She was housebound because she’d been hit by the same deep freeze that was keeping all us inside, but for her it was worse: she lives in Arkansas where the road maintenance crews don’t go out to salt or sand the roads, so she was stuck at the end of her cul-de-sac, unable to go anywhere. We stayed in just because we didn’t like getting cold.

So she told me about the books she was reading and I told her about the zombie show we were watching. “The funny thing about zombie movies,” I texted her, “is that you have to pretend that everybody in the movie has never seen a zombie movie.”

“I have never seen a zombie movie,” she texted back, “and I hope I never do.”

So I guess it is possible, then, that in a zombie apocalypse there might be one or two people who didn’t realize what was going on. I stand corrected.

improbable | 5:57 am CST
Category: entertainment, Mom, movies, random idiocy, television
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Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

We have a cross-cut paper shredder and nearly everything we get in the mail goes straight from the mailbox to the shredder because it’s practically all junk mail. I don’t even open it unless I absolutely have to.

Case in point: The junk mail I get from Triple A. Those guys know how to make me open up the junk mail they send to me. They jam so much stuff in there: Cover letter, glossy pamphlet, fake membership card, return envelope, etc etc. The shredder bogs down if I try to shred it unopened, so I usually open it up and separate it into two or three wads of paperwork that I feed to the shredder.

AARP employs a variation on the same strategy by packing an extra-thick, laminated fake membership card inside which I have to shred separately from the rest of the junk or it’ll absolutely put the brakes on the shredder.

It’s okay. I don’t mind opening an envelope even if it’s just going in the shredder. Keep ’em coming.

shreddable | 6:54 pm CST
Category: random idiocy
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Sunday, January 29th, 2023

I suffered an especially painful case of dry-eye last night and when I told My Darling B about it, she said, “Maybe you need a humidifier in the bedroom.”

What I heard her say was, “Maybe you need to make a fire in the bedroom.”

When she says something that doesn’t make any sense at all, I stop and let the decoder in my brain work on the problem for a while until it comes up with a translation. It’s sort of like Wordle: most of the phonemes are there but I need time to look at the gray areas to imagine how they should be filled in.

But that doesn’t always work. When it doesn’t, I repeat what I thought I heard her say. In this case when I told her, “I heard you say: Maybe you need to make a fire in the bedroom,” she nearly bust a gut laughing. Then, when she could breathe again, she told me about the humidifier.

build a fire | 8:28 am CST
Category: falling apart, My Darling B, random idiocy, story time
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Saturday, January 28th, 2023

I just saw a car drive past our house on a flat tire. The front right tire was flat flat flat. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do that. I can’t imagine why anyone would do that. I wouldn’t do that unless I was being pursued by ravenous beasts. Even in this weather (the temperature outside is fifteen degrees Fahrenheit right now) I would change the tire because I’m pretty sure that driving on a flat would damage the rim beyond repair and maybe even the car’s steering and suspension. What the hell was that driver thinking?

flat | 9:13 am CST
Category: random idiocy, yet another rant
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Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

aw, shit.

It’s “come on, eileen tah loo rye yay,” not “come on, eileen tah roo lah ray.” I’ve been singing it wrong all these years. So embarrassing.

lyric | 8:21 pm CST
Category: entertainment, music, random idiocy
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Thursday, January 19th, 2023

My Darling B sent me out to get egg noodles. I don’t know what egg noodles are.

“They’re wide and flat and curly,” she explained.

“They’re flat and curly?”

“Yes. They’re flat. But they’re curly.”

I couldn’t even imagine what that looked like.

“How wide are they? An inch wide? Three-quarters of an inch?”

“They’re about that wide,” she answered, holding her fingers about a half-inch apart.

“Okay. And how long are they? An inch long? Six inches?”

“They’re about as long as spaghetti noodles, but you can’t see them.”

“I can’t see them?”

“They’re in a bag.”

“They’re in a bag I can’t see through?”

“Well, you can, but you can’t.”

A bag that’s transparent but it’s not, something else I couldn’t imagine.

Eventually I had to fall back on this: “When I leave, I’m going straight to the store and I’m going to send some photos of noodles to your phone, so watch your phone for incoming texts with photos from me.”

And that’s how I bought egg noodles. I found three or four bags of flat noodles that were curly in different ways, snapped photos of them, and sent the photos to B, who responded with a message telling me which one to buy. Thank goodness for modern technology.

egg noodles | 6:07 pm CST
Category: food & drink, My Darling B, random idiocy, this modern world
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Sunday, January 15th, 2023

I’m grateful that legal holidays are mostly on Mondays and Fridays to give us long weekends. Now can we work on the way they’re distributed across the calendar? We’ve got a holiday at the end of September, another at the end of December, one at the beginning of January and another two weeks later in the middle of January, AND THEN NOTHING UNTIL THE END OF MAY! I feel we really need a long holiday in February to help us through the winter. I wouldn’t say no to another long weekend in the middle of April, either.

distribution | 10:40 am CST
Category: random idiocy, weather
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Saturday, January 14th, 2023

“Would you live your life over again if you could?”

I get that I’m supposed to say “yes” as a way of expressing the feeling that I have no regrets, but this is a dumb question no matter how you slice it.

If I could live my life over but I wouldn’t know that I was reliving it, what would be the point of that?

If I could live my life over and I knew I was reliving it, but couldn’t do anything to change it, I suppose that would be all right for the good times but when it came time to relive the parts that sucked, HOO-boy, I’m not sure I’d survive it the second time around. I’m kind of a nervous wreck to start with. That’s just the personality I’ve had the luck to draw. Coupled with that, I have one of those memories that makes me relive the parts of my life that sucked at random. “Hey remember that time you did that really embarrassing thing that everyone saw you do and they all said ‘geeze what’d you have to do that for?’ and you’ve never been able to live it down? Remember that?” If you’re around me and you see me grimace or hear me say “oh shit” out loud for seemingly no reason, that’s what’s happening to me. There are especially cringey episodes of my life that I have relived in memory several thousand times. If I were to literally relive my life, I’d probably ruin the good parts of it getting tied in emotional knots as I waited for the sucky parts.

Now, if I could relive my life and I knew I was reliving it AND I could change it, I’d definitely jump at the chance to enjoy the good times, maybe make a few more of them, and to iron out the bad times so maybe they weren’t so bad, or even to eliminate them if possible. Who wouldn’t say yes to an opportunity like that? But that’s not the point of asking the question, is it? The point of asking the question is so that I can affirm I like my life just the way it all turned out. But if I were to literally relive it in a way that allowed me to change the cringey parts, well, it wouldn’t be the life I had, would it? It’d be a completely different life because everyone has regrets they’d like to correct, and if I went back and corrected mine, I’d go down an entirely different path than the one I went down originally.

It also has to be said that if I could relive my life and I could make changes to it, I’d probably generate a whole new set of regrets that my neurotic brain would randomly force me to recall over and over, on top of the old memories of the previously-committed cringe moments, which I’m pretty sure I’d still have to recall even if I managed to make them less cringey or even if I overcame them. I know my brain pretty well at this point and I don’t see why it wouldn’t keep bringing up shit like that even if it didn’t happen the second time around, because it did happen the first time so I didn’t actually erase it, see? See how that works?

So no, I wouldn’t relive my life over if I could. Living it just the once was plenty satisfying for me, thanks anyway.

mulligan | 12:20 pm CST
Category: Life & Death, random idiocy, yet another rant
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Thursday, January 12th, 2023

I had to stop at Kwik-Trip this morning to gas up the car. The sign out front said they were selling a loaf of bread for seventy-nine cents, which I’m pretty sure is about what my mom paid for bread back in the late 70s. The cost of baking bread hasn’t gone down in fifty years so I’ve got to wonder: what’s a seventy-nine cent loaf of bread made of these days?

loaf | 5:41 pm CST
Category: random idiocy, this modern world
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Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

“It used to be that if I dropped something, I just bent over and picked it up. Now, I stop and think about how to pick it up. Is there something I can grab hold of, or lean on? Is it even worth the effort of picking it up? Maybe I should just leave it there.” — my boss, telling a story about getting old.

Worth noting that he’s almost twenty years younger than I am.

pickup | 6:29 am CST
Category: falling apart, random idiocy
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Random recollection: My mom told me she wanted to teach me and my brother some basic housekeeping skills: cooking, cleaning, that sort of thing. Dad wouldn’t allow it, apparently because it was women’s work.

Fast-forward a couple years: I was living on my own in an apartment in England. I had to call my mother to ask how to bake a potato. I did actually try to bake it myself before I called her. I don’t recall what I did wrong, but it was not at any time during my kitchen experiment what I would have considered edible, and back then I was okay with a lot of canned foods that I would not eat now except as a last resort following a global catastrophe.

I suppose eventually it would have occurred to me to visit the library to check out a cook book, but honestly I had no clue at all and could conceivably have starved during the lag between trying to learn through trial and error, and twigging to the idea that I should put my hands on at least a few examples of one of the most well-documented human activities of all time.

Maybe some day I’ll tell you how long it took me to warm to the idea that I should, from time to time, vacuum the floors of the rooms I lived in. Maybe. Maybe not.

life skills | 6:17 am CST
Category: Dad, food & drink, Mom, random idiocy, story time
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Monday, January 9th, 2023

I woke myself up this morning by stretching a little too far, giving myself a leg cramp that was like lighting all up and down my left leg. Twelve hours later it still hurts a bit. Pro tip: If you can possibly avoid it, don’t point your toes when you stretch.

yikes | 5:08 pm CST
Category: falling apart, random idiocy, sleeplessness
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I don’t know why I care about this, but I do: Why do we say “Hi, Guys!” when we’re talking to a bunch of men and women? There’s no way that works in reverse: You would almost never walk into a room and say “Hi, Gals!” if men were present, unless you wanted to make fun of the men, or insult them. You would never, and I mean never, refer to men as “gals” without irony or malice. And yet it’s a commonly-held belief that “guys” refers to men and women. I wonder why that is?

Just kidding. I know why that is. It’s a rhetorical question.

guys not guys | 6:16 am CST
Category: random idiocy, yet another rant
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Friday, January 6th, 2023

My Darling B’s Twitter account was hacked! She sat down on Tuesday afternoon to see what manner of madness befell the world and discovered that someone had logged into her account and posted a few hundred tweets extolling the greatness of a particular brand of cryptocurrency. After several failed attempts to log in, she finally correctly recalled her password and deactivated her account. Then she changed her password (it still mystifies me why the identity thief failed to do so), logged in again, and began deleting the offending tweets. There were so many that she finished deleting them only this very night. It’s the first time I’ve known anyone personally who had fallen victim to a hacker.

hacked | 8:51 pm CST
Category: current events, My Darling B, O'Folks, random idiocy, story time, this modern world
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Saturday, December 31st, 2022

Yesterday was the 98th anniversary of the discovery of galaxies, which has always seemed to me to be an odd way of putting it. For years, astronomer Edwin Hubble had been looking at nebulas which he believed were inside our galaxy, because he thought everything was in our galaxy. All astronomers believed that everything they were looking at was in our galaxy. That was the accepted wisdom of their time.

But 98 years ago Hubble figured out that some of the nebulas he was looking at were too far away to be inside our galaxy. That’s when he had his smack-my-head moment and “discovered” other galaxies. What Hubble actually discovered was that, up until that point, astronomers had been stupid.

galactic stupidity | 9:27 am CST
Category: random idiocy, this modern world
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Friday, December 30th, 2022

I bought a computer keyboard. I didn’t need a computer keyboard. I needed to make my computer keyboard quieter, so I went down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos about computer keyboards and I got the mistaken impression that I could make my keyboard quieter by swapping out the switches. Okay, this already doesn’t make any sense. Let me back up a little:

Computer keyboards are literally boards covered in electric pushbuttons. The keys are electric push-button switches with plastic caps. When you press down on the cap, you’re pushing the button on the switch. The switch doesn’t inherently make a lot of noise. In fact, it’s rather quiet. Some are manufactured to make a little click, but most make almost no noise at all. The board, however, is very noisy.

When you’re typing, you’re not gently pushing down on the switch. What you’re usually doing is hammering that switch with your finger in much the same way and for much the same reason that you hammer on the key of a real typewriter: you want to shove the key down as far as it goes so you feel it hit the bottom limit of its travel. Hammering the keys with your fingers makes a lot of noise if the board underneath isn’t muffled with foam. It’s like the difference between drumming your fingers on a bare tabletop versus drumming them on a placemat on a table. My keyboard is a bare tabletop. It doesn’t have any foam at all in it, and just to make things worse, the keys make a clicky sound.

After watching a few YouTube videos, I believed I could make my keyboard quieter by swapping out the clicky switches with some quiet switches and inserting a foam layer under the board. And that would work, if my keyboard were the type I could modify like that, but it isn’t. I ordered the switches and the foam before I took my keyboard apart to get a better look at it (and also to clean it because it was getting really nasty). If I had taken it apart before I bought anything, I would have learned that my keyboard isn’t the kind you can modify like that. The switches are soldered to the board, which is a more or less permanent condition, and the board isn’t mounted to the base in a way that would let me muffle it with foam or other sound-deadening materials. It’s a noisy keyboard and it’s always going to be a noisy keyboard.

My problem at this point was that I bought a whole bunch of switches and they were already on the way. (I also bought a new set of key caps. I didn’t need those, really, but I thought they looked a lot better than the ugly black caps on my keyboard, and they were not expensive, so in my cart they went.) By the time I learned that my keyboard would always be clicky-clacky it was too late to cancel my order. I could wait for my order to arrive and return it or I could also buy a board to put the keys on, and this time get a board that was built to be quiet. I went with Option B.

Moral of the story, I guess, is to stay away from rabbit holes.

rabbit hole | 10:27 pm CST
Category: random idiocy, story time
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Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

My Darling B leaves the shower head pointed at me when she’s done. Before I turn the shower on I have to twist the shower head around so it’s pointing at the wall. It’ll try to twist back and point at me because it’s one of those shower heads on the end of a hose and it gets twisted out of alignment easily. Happens to me all the time. I straighten it out when it does because if I don’t, the thought that I left it that way will nag at me for the rest of the day. Apparently she doesn’t suffer from OCD to the same degree that I do. She seems to be able to walk away from it without a second thought. Either that, or she’s been setting a booby trap for me all these years.

booby trap | 6:51 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Monday, December 19th, 2022

I took a walk in the evening after finishing up work, which is worth mentioning only because the temperature was oh-hell-no degrees below freezing but I needed to get out of the house. Besides, I still have the parka the Air Force issued to me when I was stationed at Misawa, at the northern tip of the Japanese main island, not that the winters in Misawa are cold enough that anyone would need a parka designed to keep them warm during an arctic winter, but I was grateful for it nonetheless. After I dressed up in layer after layer of clothing, I zipped my parka all the way up so you would not have been able to see my face unless I looked directly at you, and even then all that would have been visible would be my nose and eyes. It’s one of those parkas with a hood like a snorkel with a white furry fringe around the opening. The furry fringe keeps the wind out and the snorkel traps a warm cushion of air against your face, which would be great unless, like me, you wear glasses. The snorkel doesn’t keep the air warm enough to keep my glasses from cooling off and thus fogging over. I had to fiddle with the zipper a bit until I got just enough ventilation to blow away my breath but not so much ventilation that it defeated the purpose of the furry snorkel. Hard enough to see out of that hood without foggy glasses.

icy cold | 8:18 pm CST
Category: random idiocy, story time, weather
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Sunday, December 18th, 2022

I don’t know if this is the weirdest thing I’ve ever done, but many years ago while a medical doctor was trying to diagnose a little trouble I was having with my gastrointestinal tract, she asked me to keep a diary of what I ate and each time I pooped. She also wanted to know what kind of dump I had, i.e. was it firm, loose, runny, explosive, etc.

I did just what she told me. I got a pocket-sized spiral-bound notebook, kept it in the breast pocket of my BDU blouse, and each time I sat down to eat I got the notebook out and jotted down a list of each item I was about to consume. I had a very simple appetite and was a picky eater back then, so the list was usually short and easy to make. AND ALSO after each visit to the men’s room I would make a quick note of the visit and the ‘character’ of the expelled dookie. I did this for at least a couple weeks. I think it might have been a whole month.

On my next visit to the doctor I handed over the notebook, saying something like, “You wanted me to write down everything I ate and every time I pooped.” She acted puzzled as she flipped through the pages. “Wow, you really did it,” she said. It seemed to me this was the first time anyone had actually followed her directions. Weirdly, she hardly read the diary. She mostly just flipped through it, pausing to read two or maybe three pages before handing it back to me.

big log | 8:08 am CST
Category: falling apart, Farts & Farting, My Glorious Air Force Career, random idiocy, story time | Tags: ,
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Friday, December 16th, 2022

Wish I’d taken a ‘before’ photo when it was chock full.

Not the most exciting news in my life, but I finally set aside an hour to go through the pile of paperwork that built up on the shelves of my cubicle at work. The goal was not to clear it out entirely, the goal was only to make a dent in it.

I made such a satisfying dent in it that I set aside another hour in the afternoon to go through the rest, and it turned out that what remained was mostly old printed-out email messages and copies of power point presentations from more than five years ago. Practically all of it went in the trash. So satisfying.

cleared out | 5:48 pm CST
Category: office work, random idiocy
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Sunday, December 11th, 2022

Looking for a radio station to listen to on the way to work (because the one we were listening to ruined the morning by playing the pina colada song – thanks a whole hell of a lot, WIBA) I stopped briefly on one of those shows where three noisy people talk over each other about whatever random thoughts enter their jumbled little brains. They were, at that moment, taking calls from listeners who they were goading into revealing what they considered to be their worst Christmas gift ever. The caller they had on the line just then was saying, “jelly of the month club,” resulting in a rousing chorus of “oh gross!” and “yuck!” from the DJs. If the gift-giver was listening, I’m pretty sure the caller was going to get a gift far worse than twelve jars of jelly this year.

Maybe it’s a sign of how low my expectations are, but just after he said that I looked at My Darling B and remarked, “Y’know, that doesn’t sound like such a bad gift.” And it’s definitely a sign of our compatibility that she agreed with me. (Full disclosure: She later got me a subscription to a jam-of-the-month club for my birthday. No, I will not be calling in to a radio show to talk with three noisy DJs about this.)

in a jam | 8:36 am CST
Category: random idiocy, story time, this modern world
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Friday, December 9th, 2022

We got enough snow this morning that I had to shovel the driveway and, in spite of being out of shape and just shy of my 62nd birthday I was able to clear away every bit of the heavy, wet snow, even the stuff that the snow plow shoved into the end of the driveway, without giving myself a heart attack, so I’ll just be kicking back on the sofa feeling smug about myself for the rest of the evening, thank you very much.

clearing | 2:49 pm CST
Category: random idiocy, weather | Tags: ,
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Monday, December 5th, 2022

I had to work on my car last weekend and it turned out well, so now I get to brag about it a little bit.

The battery in our Subaru died so I had to replace it. That wasn’t the hard part, although I have to say that the guy at Batteries Plus tried to make it as hard as he possibly could. He had to know the year, make, model, type, color, weight, size of the engine, whether or not I drove with the sunroof open, did I ever get carsick, the list went on and on. I said I had to go do some research and then I would get back to him, and I left his shop and went up the road to another shop where all the guy wanted to know was the year, make and model, and five minutes later I was waddling out the door trying not to drop a new car battery.

Swapping the dead battery for the new one was easy. Closing the hood turned out to be the hardest part. Did not see that coming.

At first I didn’t even realize the hood was not latched. I thought I was done. When I tried to turn the engine over, however, I discovered the new battery had obviously been sitting on the shelf for a while and needed some time with the battery charger. Half an hour later with the engine happily ticking over, I put all my tools away, switched off the car, slapped the hood down and that’s when I noticed I had a problem. The latch was not latching. Something inside the latch which was supposed to lock the hood in place was not, in fact, doing any locking. This is not something you can fix with a bungee cord, unless you plan to never drive any faster than walking speed. I was not making any such plans. I had to fix this.

So I did what any red-blooded America does these days: I opened a web browser on my computer, navigated to You Tube, and typed “Subaru Forester hood doesn’t latch” into the search bar. You Tube immediately rewarded me with a couple dozen videos all of which claimed to solve the problem. I only watched four or five of them because I don’t have all the time in the world, even though I will happily spend hours watching You Tube videos about building wooden boats, something I have never done and will never do. Everyone has at least one guilty pleasure. That’s mine.

The videos I watched all boiled down to a simple problem: The lock in the latch could not freely move because of dirt or ice, or maybe it just needed lubrication. Some videos went into more detail; a couple went into a lot more detail. One of them wanted me to dismantle the entire front grille of my car. I didn’t have to do that. All I had to do was undo three bolts to remove the latch, take it to my work bench where I squirted lots of 3-In-1 Oil on it, jiggle the moving parts around until they all moved freely, and finally re-install the latch on my car. Took about thirty minutes, and fifteen of those minutes were spent looking for the bolt I dropped into the depths of the engine compartment. So it was with a feeling of accomplishment that I got to pour myself a beer after I was done, stretch out on the sofa and spend the rest of the afternoon reading a book. Yay, me.

latched | 10:13 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy, story time
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Sunday, November 20th, 2022

image of a cat with its leg lifted over its head looking surprised

Yes, there is a yoga pose that looks a lot like this. No, it’s not called “lick the cat’s butt.” But that’s what it SHOULD be called.

lick the cat’s butt | 7:58 am CST
Category: random idiocy, Scooter, yoga
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Friday, November 18th, 2022

I don’t believe anybody’s recycling the plastic and cardboard we put in our recycling bin.

I still take the time to separate ‘recyclable’ material because it makes My Darling B feel better. And okay, I suppose that maybe, just maybe, there’s a tiny inkling of a chance that somebody somewhere might be grinding up a tiny percentage of the plastic bottles to make shopping bags or flip-flops. Maybe. But honestly I think they’re throwing 99 and 44/100ths of the recycling in the landfill.

That’s it. That’s my crazy conspiracy theory.

recycle | 11:59 pm CST
Category: current events, daily drivel, random idiocy, yet another rant
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Thursday, November 17th, 2022

Two days working from the office and I am BEAT! I can work from home for days and get all kinds of things done at my own pace, sleep well and feel rested enough to fight another day, but a day at the office leave me feel as though stepped in for Sisyphus: “Here, let me push that up the hill for a while so you can … hey, where are you going?”

whuf | 8:30 pm CST
Category: office work, random idiocy
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Monday, November 14th, 2022

department of redundancy department | 2:47 pm CST
Category: entertainment, play, random idiocy | Tags:
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Sunday, November 13th, 2022

We have a cat who is ass-backwards.

Our youngest cat, Sparky, is not much like a typical cat. He is almost paralyzingly afraid of every noise we make, for just starters. He spends hours and hours of each and every day hiding in the basement. But he is like most of the cats we’ve had in that he likes to be scritched behind the ears, and he loves to have his chin rubbed and his nose booped. He’s a very affectionate tabby when he’s not cowering under the sofa.

Scooter, on the other hand, would love for you to love his butt. He’ll fake you out by approaching you face-first, like a normal cat, but as soon as you start to scritch his ears or pat his head, he turns around so you can pat him on the butt. If you do, he’ll be in heaven. He’ll arch his back, squinch his eyes shut, and purr like a maniac. He’ll do that for as long as you keep scritching and stroking and patting his butt. If you don’t love his butt, he’ll turn around to face you again and let you scritch his head like a normal cat for maybe five seconds before he’s compelled to turn 180 degrees to show you his butt again. He’s all about his butt and thinks you should be, too.

butt pat | 8:18 am CST
Category: random idiocy, Scooter
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Saturday, November 12th, 2022

I got on the elevator at work with a woman who took one look at me and asked, “Aren’t you B’s husband?” When I said yes, she said, “I thought so. I see you on her Facebook posts all the time.”

I wasn’t surprised that I ran into someone who knew me as B’s husband. That happens at the office all the time. I was surprised that she recognized me at all. I got on the elevator wearing a mask, which covered my face from my eyeballs to my chin.

When I told B this story, she said it wasn’t much of a mystery to her. In nearly all the photos she posts of me, I’m photobombing her dinner, crouched behind a plate of food or a glass of beer. Most people watching her FB posts only see me from the nose up.

image of the blog's author, peering over the edge of the table at a lineup of beers
peek-a-boo
peepers | 6:15 am CST
Category: coworkers, My Darling B, office work, random idiocy, story time
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Friday, November 11th, 2022

The office I work in is laid out like a hallway. It’s not as awful as it sounds. One whole wall is windows. Our desks are all in a row in front of the windows. I have my desk set up so I can look out the window all day. After working in windowless buildings for twenty years, this is pretty nice.

My desk is at the far end of the office, at the end of the hallway. Frankie’s desk is next to mine, then Chia’s is next to Frankie’s, and finally Sarah’s is in the middle by the door. There are desks for four more people down the other end of the hallway/office.

Sarah and Frankie and I are all people who “think out loud,” so in our end of the office there’s a constant background murmur of people trying to keep track of what they’re currently doing, punctured by the occasional exclamation. “OKAY, DONE, NOW I have to mumble mumble mumble …”

Chia, our lead worker, sits right in the middle of all this. He works all day long without saying much at all. Very quiet. I’m not even sure he has an inner monologue.

When I have a question for him, I usually go to his cubicle and rap on his desk to get his attention because he wears headphones all day. And I have to sheepishly admit that I didn’t realize why until just now.

drowning it out | 5:44 am CST
Category: office work, random idiocy, story time
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Thursday, November 10th, 2022

When I put my coffee mug in the microwave to heat it up after it cools off, I set it down with the handle at a different angle. Sometimes I leave the handle at six o’clock, sometimes at three o’clock, sometimes at straight-up twelve.

Hit the 30-second button, wait for the ping, open the door — the handle’s always at twelve o’clock. Always.

I feel like any science that could explain this could also probably explain a lot of other mysteries of the universe as well.

twelve o’clock high | 7:05 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Sunday, November 6th, 2022

Heard a Christmas carol on the radio for the first time this season while driving to the bakery. Always a traumatic experience. Now I’ll have to deprogram at least half a dozen radio stations from the presets on the car radio. The van’s easier — I’ve got about 50 of my favorite CDs in there so I’ll probably just listen to those until the week before Christmas, which is when Christmas music is supposed to start AS EVERY SANE PERSON KNOWS.

BAM | 10:50 am CST
Category: current events, random idiocy, yet another rant | Tags:
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I gave the bathroom a thorough cleaning yesterday morning. It really needed it.

Cleaning the bathroom is one of those things that I utterly despise while I’m doing it, and yet somehow after it’s done I feel a rewarding sense of accomplishment. Also, I really like using a clean bathroom.

However, I will dread the lead-up to the next time I have to clean the bathroom, and I will hate every minute it takes to actually clean it. And then BAM! Satisfaction again. It’s a weird roller-coaster ride.

contradictory | 9:06 am CST
Category: housekeeping, random idiocy
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T-Dawg came over last night to have dinner with us and play Spirit Island into the wee hours of the morning.

At one point he picked up his phone to look up an obscure rule or something like that. While he was searching through his feed for the answer to his question he stopped scrolling and said, “Wait, Elon Musk bought Twitter?”

“Yeah, that was a week ago,” I said. “You really don’t pay any attention at all to the news, do you?”

Although honestly I often wish I could ignore the news as thoroughly as he does, too.

not a newsie | 8:34 am CST
Category: current events, random idiocy
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Saturday, November 5th, 2022

While reading the morning news I came across this question from The Guardian: “we’d like to hear from US voters about the issues that are deciding their vote. Why are you planning on voting the way you are?”

Good question. I know who I’m going to vote for, but nobody’s ever asked me why, so I haven’t formulated an answer until now.

I’m voting for the Democrats, and it turns out the reasons are simple and pretty straightforward.

Republican candidates on my ballot have gratefully accepted Trump’s endorsement. I won’t have anything to do with anyone who would shake the hand of that liar.

Republicans not only say they want to tear down the government, they do it. They defund every branch, they fire as many employees as they can get away with, and they rewrite government regulation to make everyone in government except them powerless. Their stated goal is to get government out of your business, but the effect is to leave only the elected officials in power with very little oversight, or no oversight at all.

I’m voting for Democrats because they’re the only practical alternative to Republicans. I could cast my vote for another party as a “protest vote,” but frankly the only protest I want to make at this point is keeping Republicans out of office, and the only way to do that is to vote for Democrats.

a question | 8:58 am CST
Category: current events, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags:
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Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

Everybody knows that old people are hard of hearing or that their eyesight has gone bad. It’s common knowledge because it comes up in conversation all the time, but for whatever reason I never heard anybody talk about dry eye. I never HEARD of dry eye until I was old myself and my own eyes dried out. And I want to tell you, that shit sucks.

Woke up in the middle of the night, rubbed my eyes to get the sleepers out of the corners. Stopped immediately because I felt like I was grinding broken shards of glass into my eyeballs. What the hell is this? Looked it up on WebMD the next day to make sure I didn’t have eyeball cancer. Nope, it’s only dry eye. Everybody gets it. Totally normal. Happens all the time to all kinds of people. Nothing you can do other than put some eyedrops in. Welcome to old age.

On the entire opposite end of the spectrum of eye moisture, my eyes get super weepy for an hour or so after I wake up, almost like they’re overcompensating for drying out. If you see me walking down the street in the early morning, tears steaming from my eyes, don’t worry at all about me, I’m okay. I’m not crying. Well, technically I guess I am crying, but it’s not because I’m heartbroken, it’s because I’m old. This is just how my crappy old eyes work in the morning now. I’m fine.

dry eye | 5:17 am CST
Category: falling apart, Life & Death, random idiocy, yet another rant
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Tuesday, November 1st, 2022

I had to get out of bed early this morning because My Darling B wasn’t making any noise AT ALL. I woke up from a dream, made a quick visit to the bathroom, climbed back into bed and, while I was waiting to return to Slumberland for what I was sure would be several more hours, I realized that B was making absolutely no sound. I couldn’t even hear her breathing.

This is not normal. Normal, on any given night in our house, is lots and lots of snoring. I’m as guilty of it as she is, and I know this because she has made a recording of me snoring so I could hear that I sound like a diesel dump truck downshifting on an off-ramp when I snore. She sounds more like a cartoon Dagwood: SNXXXX! SNXXXX!

So when she makes absolutely no sound at all, it can weird me out. Not always. There are lots of nights when I’m so oblivious of what’s going on around me that I can easily return to sleep after any one of my six dozen visits to the loo in the middle of the night, and thank goodness. Having Old Man Bladder would be a million times worse if I couldn’t.

But on a night like tonight after waking from a dream full of super-creepy twists and turns, my lizard brain sometimes kicks in. “She’s not breathing,” it says to me.

“Oh stop it,” I say right back. “Of course she’s breathing.”

“Can you hear her breathing? No, you can’t.”

“Of course I can’t, my tinnitus is ringing off the hook.”

“Your tinnitus isn’t that loud.”

“Shrieking banshees aren’t as loud as my tinnitus. Quit bothering me.”

“So you’re not worried at all that she’s not breathing.”

“No, I’m not worried, because she is breathing and she’s fine.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. She’s perfectly fine. It’s just that tonight she’s really, really quiet. Happens all the time”

“No. It never happens. She’s never this quiet.”

“Well aren’t you going to do something about it then?”

“And what am I going to do? Give her a poke? That’d go over well I’m sure.”

“You don’t have to do anything as rude as poking her. Just roll over, yawn, scratch yourself, make a little noise, same as you do every night.”

That’s what I did: I made a little noise, then laid perfectly still to see what her reaction would be. Only she didn’t react at all. She continued to lie there, still as a statue, and made no sound. So I rolled over, yawned, stretched, adjusted the bed covers, did a little cat/cow, farted. Finally she made a tiny snuffling noise.

“There! See? She’s breathing.”

“Pffft. Corpses make a noise just like that when they get gassy.”

“You went there. I can’t believe you went there. How are you even part of my psyche?”

“Your psyche is totally screwed up and you know it. Now give her a poke to see if she’s alive.”

Well, dear reader, I didn’t poke her. At that point I gave up on sleep, rolled out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make some coffee. As I grabbed my pants on the way out, B whimpered in her sleep and shifted the blankets to get more comfortable.

Sleep well, B.

wakey wakey | 4:34 am CST
Category: dreams, falling apart, Farts & Farting, Life & Death, My Darling B, random idiocy, sleeplessness
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Monday, June 27th, 2022

ONLY DESPAIR ALLOWED IN PITS. THANK YOU.

ONLY PIZZA ALLOWED IN PITS. THANK YOU.

ONLY BRAD ALLOWED IN PITTS. THANK YOU.

(*Pizza Pit is a local chain restaurant)

pits | 7:14 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Sunday, April 3rd, 2022

As usual on Sunday morning, our kitchen looked like a bunch of frat boys had been up all night drinking and eating snacks while they did whatever frat boys do all night. In reality it was nothing like that. Tim comes over on Saturday afternoon for an early dinner and then we play a board game until usually eleven or twelve at night. We drink and eat a lot of snacks, so that part’s the same, but other than that it’s a couple of aging boomers and their indulgent son hunched over the dining room table, moving game tokens around on a cardpaper game board. Maybe frat boys do that, too, I dunno.

So this morning before I could even think about brewing a pot of coffee, I had to wash my hands, unload the dish washer, then stack as many of the dirty dishes, coffee mugs, and utensils into it as my finely-honed stacking skills would allow, which is quite a lot, if I may be allowed to humble brag on my domestic skills just a little bit. Took about twenty minutes, which seems like a long time to perform a complicated household chore so early in the morning before coffee but it’s actually a blessing to do it before I’m fully conscious. It passes in a blur and I rarely even remember doing it afterward. Best way to do kitchen cleanup, if you want my opinion.

Just FYI the game we played was Spirit Island, where you play the part of a minor deity defending an island against colonizers. My favorite spirits are River Surges in Sunlight, and Ocean’s Mighty Grasp, because their powers enable them to drown lots and lots of colonizers. As a bonus, Ocean’s presence on the island also enables other spirits to drown lots more colonizers, and every drowned colonizer gives Ocean an even Mightier Grasp. Great fun!

I did not play either of these spirits last night. Instead, I played two spirits completely unknown to me, just to switch things up and, as a result, I was not much help when it came to defending the island. One of my spirits was Volcano Looming High, and the most critical mistake I made was not asploding myself as soon as the colonizers built a whole shitload of towns and cities during the escalation phase of the game. When Volcano asplodes, he takes a whole lot of towns and cities out of the game. Lesson learned. The other spirit I played was Finder of Paths Unseen, and I have to admit I learned nothing about how this spirit works. I’ll have to play with it a lot more before I get even a basic idea how to use it.

frat party | 9:06 am CST
Category: games, housekeeping, Our Humble O'Bode, play, random idiocy, scrub-a-dub-dub
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Sunday, February 27th, 2022

It’s slowly coming together …

My woodworking “skills” boil down to tinkering. I cut a piece of wood. I cut another piece of wood. I discover one piece of wood is too long so I cut it again. I fit them together. I repeat this process until I have something which resembles the thing I had in mind in the first place. It’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it’s close enough as to make no difference. At least not to me.

The piece above is a perfect example. I started by cutting the piece at the bottom of the photo, standing edge-on to the camera. Its length was a total guess, but it had to be a certain width. Then I cut the piece that’s laying against the workbench. It used to be the same length as the first piece. I should have cut it to be three-quarters of an inch shorter, because there are two end caps made of three-eighth-inch plywood. I didn’t realize that until I tried to fit the pieces together, even though the end pieces were part of the build from the start.

To anyone who would say, “If you drew a plan ahead of time, you’d catch these rookie mistakes,” I would say, “Yeah, no.” I’ve drawn plans before. Trouble is, I think in two dimensions. If I drew all the pieces fitting together, my brain would think of them as having length and width but no depth, even while it knew that one piece is half-inch ply and the rest are three-eighths-inch ply. It’s this cognitive dissonance that lets me cut each and every piece to the wrong length, so that I have to make multiple trips to the table saw to shorten pieces up as I tinker them together.

woodwork, sorta | 11:46 am CST
Category: carpentry, hobby, random idiocy | Tags:
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Thursday, February 17th, 2022

The song stuck in my head this morning was Abba’s “Take A Chance On Me,” a song I’m not particularly fond of but nevertheless know all the words to. I know all the words to a lot of Abba songs, which is kind of odd because I never turned the radio up when I heard one, I never bought any of their albums, and I don’t even like Abba very much. I think probably I soaked up all the words just because their songs used to be on the radio so often. I mean, like, constantly. Also, it didn’t hurt that I could actually understand them when they sang. I liked Elton John’s music quite a lot but I didn’t know until recently that “Bennie and the Jets” even had words because I couldn’t understand a thing Elton John said, and when I say “understand” I mean it in the sense that he sang like he had a mouthful of marbles, and in the sense that the lyrics to a lot of his songs were nonsensical. The opening lines of “Bennie and the Jets,” for instance, are: “Hey, kids, shake it loose together, the spotlight’s hitting something that’s been known to change the weather, we’ll kill the fatted calf tonight.” Abba, on the other hand, enunciated the words of their songs so clearly, and the words made some kind of sense. “If you change your mind, I’m the first in line, honey I’m still free, take a chance on me” is an opening line that meant something to a lot of teenagers.

osmosis | 7:46 pm CST
Category: entertainment, music, random idiocy | Tags:
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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 CST
Category: current events, damn kids!, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant
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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 CST
Category: falling apart, random idiocy
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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 Cleo would scold me by saying something that sounded like, “Nix kommer rouse in the Dutchman’s house!” My mother and my uncle confirm that she said the same to them, and that the meaning was clearly, “don’t do that!” But where the phrase comes from, or exactly how it would be written, was a mystery to both of them.

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 CST
Category: daily drivel, Grandparents, O'Folks, random idiocy, story time | Tags:
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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 CST
Category: random idiocy | Tags:
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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 CST
Category: Our Humble O'Bode, random idiocy, yard work | Tags: ,
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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 CST
Category: movies, random idiocy
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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 CST
Category: random idiocy
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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 CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

I finally had enough of long hair, so I asked My Darling B to mow my head. I had not had a haircut since mid-February so it had grown so long and so thick that it was starting to feel like wearing a horse blanket on my head. The “before” picture doesn’t show how much hair I have tumbling down the back of my neck. As the temp and the humidity today climbed into the high eighties, I decided to grab the clippers and give myself a shearing. I’m not as flexible as I used to be, though. No matter how many different ways I tried to reach the back of my head, I wasn’t entirely confident I could get it all. And there was an awful lot of hair back there.

So I asked My Darling B for some help. She really didn’t want to do it on account of The Big Hair Oops of 2001. She used to trim my hair between haircuts until one afternoon just before I had to be at an important meeting she took a divot out of the hairline just above my neck. Luckily, I was able to catch the barber as she was closing up shop and talk her into taking one more customer. She was not surprised at all by the story I told her. “It happens all the time,” she said. “I’ve seen much worse.”

Today’s clipping turned out much better. I snapped a #8 comb on the clippers and promised that was as short as I wanted to cut it. It was still a lot of hair to cut off. “Are you sure?” she asked, more than once. When I finally managed to convince her, she swept the back of my head with one stroke, then stopped and said, “Oh my god that’s a lot of hair!” I started to say, “Good,” to encourage her to go on, but she didn’t need any more encouragement from me. “Too late to turn back now,” she added, and dove in again. After a dozen or so strokes there was enough hair on the floor to stuff a pillow. All I had to do after she finished was trim around my ears.

I could probably get away with not cutting it for another six months, but having it this short is like my own personal air conditioning so I’ll probably give it another mowing in a week or two.

clipping | 6:40 pm CST
Category: barber, random idiocy
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