Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Hello. My name is Joe American, and I'm a Gasoholic.
5:02 pm cdt
Good grief. A hurricane
hits the gulf coast, most likely thousands of people have died in a horrible way, millions are homeless, and what does the
rest of the country freak out about?
** Warning ** This blog
post involves math. If math makes you dizzy, you may want to lie down with a
glass of wine before you continue reading.
Monday night Jay and I were in
line at the grocery store when we heard someone on their cell phone say "the price is going up 19¢ tomorrow, so get all you
can". Somehow we knew she was talking about gasoline. We were down to about a
third of our car’s tank, so we thought we might as well top off. We stopped by
our local station and ended up buying 10½ gallons at US$2.669. It set us back
The next morning, on our way
to work, we saw that the price had risen 6¢ per gallon. Good, we thought, we saved 63¢ by not procrastinating.
And since Wisconsin has a law
that prohibits a retailer from raising prices more than once in a twenty-four-hour period, we were relieved to think that
maybe the 19¢ rumor was just that - a rumor.
Then on our way home, we saw
that the price had gone up again - 13¢ per gallon more. It was now $2.859 per gallon. That made me angry. Not the price, but that the hike was blatantly
illegal. But it was exactly what we had overheard the day before. Our timely purchase now had saved us $2.00.
I know some people will argue that $2.859
per gallon isn’t that expensive. It equals 75½¢ per litre. Converted to British
pounds, that's still only 42p per litre. When we were in England last fall, petrol was 85p per litre, equivalent to $1.53
per litre or $5.80 per gallon. But it’s still costly. I have to work 3 hours and 9 minutes to buy that ⅔ of a tank of gas. If I made minimum wage, it would be 7 hours
and 8 minutes. Nearly an entire shift.
But back to my story.
Apparently, higher gasoline prices have a side effect: it causes stupid
people to get even stupider. This morning, we started hearing horror stories about long lines and fights at gas stations; owners turning off the
pumps while people were fueling and raising prices, then forcing the customers to pay the higher rate for their entire
purchase (also illegal); and even stations that had run out of gasoline completely. And now there are rumors that prices may
reach $3.50 per gallon before the weekend.
It's sick that oil companies
are so greedy that prices are hiked on gasoline that has already been bought and paid for by the gas stations. And
it’s sick that people are so obsessed with their cars that they think they’re a necessity of life – as crucial as oxygen -
and wouldn't know how to survive without them. I know people that commute over 60 miles (96.5 kilometres) each day to work!
(Jay and I drive less than that each week.)
Today’s Americans would have never survived World War II. They would flip out if gas were rationed, as it was on a nationwide basis beginning December 1, 1942, and ending August 15, 1945.
Most Americans had an “A” classification, which allowed them four (4!) gallons a week. Some
got a “B”, and could buy about 8 gallons a week. Only doctors and politicians
could purchase more. For a short time in 1943, rations were reduced further and
all pleasure driving was outlawed. Plus the speed limit was restricted to 35
mph. If the US government tried that now, there would be mass rioting.
It's just a good thing Jay and I went to England last year. This year we'd have to sell some of our organs just to
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Brains, Over Easy, with a Side of Hash Browns Please.
5:12 pm cdt
I don’t know why, but I’ve been very forgetful today. Again.
It started this morning when I got to work. I was sitting here, checking
my email and news, when the Receptionist called.
You would think, after three years of going up to the reception desk every Tuesday at 8:30 am during the center’s weekly
staff meeting, it would become automatic. But noooooo… today I completely zoned
Then there were the mail runs where I would deliver half of the mail and leave the other half on the cart. And then I forgot to distribute the Catholic Herald newspapers after lunch.
I’ve only been delivering them every Tuesday for the last five years.
Anyone looking for me today couldn’t count on my “Where is Linda?” sign. I
kept forgetting to change it every time I left the office. I need to add a page
that says “Out Looking for her Brain”.
It’s a good thing this forgetfulness didn’t start the moment I woke up this morning.
If it had, I can’t imagine what I’d look like now. I’d have forgotten
half my clothing. Or forgotten to comb my hair, like the girl that I saw walking
into a department store next to Jay’s work who looked like her cat horked up a giant hairball on her head while she slept. Or I’d be running around work with floppy bunny slippers on. I don’t know whose, because I don’t own a pair. But I’d be
wearing floppy bunny slippers. Comfortable, but not exactly office casual.
I haven’t always been (nor am I always) this forgetful. I never get lost. I can remember all my homeroom teachers’ names, from kindergarten all the way through
eighth grade. If we had had homeroom in high school, I would remember those teachers’
names, too. I can remember lyrics to songs by The Thompson Twins. I can remember the humorous “alternate” lyrics we made up, too.
But in my youth I was a daydreamer. Heck, I still am. If I were a kid these days, they’d probably say I have Attention Deficit Disorder and drug me up to my
eyeballs. Back then, I just sat through school daydreaming about owning a horse,
surviving a flood, or being a Monday Night Football announcer. I wanted to replace
Howard Cosell. It sure was more interesting than multiplication tables.
Maybe I should stop at the grocery store tonight and find some brain food. There
must be something that’s yummy and healthy and will keep me from leaving my brain on the bathroom counter after I wash my
hands. Except I can’t remember what foods are supposed to be good for your memory. Spinach, I think, and coffee, and carrots. No,
carrots are good for the eyesight. Maybe it was blueberries. Yeah, blueberries. With a side of vanilla ice cream.
But I think I’ll go straight home. If I go to the store, you know what
Yup. I’ll forget where in the parking lot I left the car.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Last But Not Least
9:04 pm cdt
only been on the best seller list for 126 weeks. It debuted there in March of
2003. It seems everyone else has read it.
And read all the books deconstructing it. And all the books explaining
the deconstruction. And here I am, finally reading it for the first time.
finally read The Da Vinci Code.
was kind of surprised to find a copy at the library Saturday. I checked it out,
and started reading it after the NASCAR race ended at 10:30 Saturday night. And
twenty-four hours later, I finished it. All 454 pages. Whew!
I liked it. I liked it a lot. It may not be “great literature”, but it’s as entertaining as all hell.
I almost stayed up throughout the night reading it. I did sleep from 2:00
am to 10:00 am, and went out for a late lunch and shopping from 1:30 pm to 6:00 pm.
Pretty much every other minute was spent reading it. Page after riveting
page. I can see why the book is so popular.
You don’t want to stop reading until they’ve completely solved the puzzle.
quite a roller coaster ride, with quite a few elements of soap opera cliff-hanger in it.
And I had to laugh at the part about the Pyramid entrance to the Louvre. You
see, I studied in Paris before the Pyramid was built. I liked
the Louvre the way it was. I would never be the tasteless American and fawn all
over the Pyramid. It is a scar on the face of the city. Or, more like a Picasso-esque zit.
won’t spoil the story for those of you who haven’t gotten around to reading this book yet.
I know you’re out there. You’re the ones who are so exhausted after a
long day of corporate slavery that you barely have the energy to lift your dinner fork, much less a book. I’ll just say that, now that I’ve read it, you have too, too.
Oh, yeah, and it’s gonna make a great movie. So much of the book is so…
for the “controversial” content? I do have to ask why the Catholic Church (and
Christian religion in general) is so up-in-arms over the story. They sound like
a bunch of two-year-olds who aren’t getting their way: “No-no-no-no-no!” It’s
not like the RCs have always been perfect angels when it comes to their enemies, as much as they would like us to forget the
things they’ve done in the name of religion. Whenever someone makes such a huge
deal over a work of fiction, I’m reminded of the phrase “Methinks they doth protest too much”.
It drives me nuts that the RCs are so sure that everything in the Bible is the definitive truth and that
any other version must be false – when they acknowledge that other accounts of Jesus’ live exist. How do they really know what happened over 2000 years ago? It
wasn’t like Jesus’ life was one big Truman Show with the disciples all toting camcorders, and all we have to do is hit rewind
when we want to double-check something.
don’t want to admit that they have to take the human factor into account. The
Bible has been re-written many times as it has been translated through the ages. Anyone
who has played Grapevine should know how a simple message can turn into something completely different simply in the retelling
– and in the years directly after Jesus’ death, it was an oral history. And I still haven’t heard of a logical explanation of the obvious contradictions in the Bible. Even one of the key Bible stories has been shown to be erroneous – the physiology of the human hand is
not strong enough to support the weight of a body when nailed to a cross. It
would have torn through.
it upsets me when people start vehemently denouncing this book and claim that none of the events within did or could ever
happen. How do they know? Can they
read minds? Have they gone back in time to be sure? No. They make guesses.
Educated guesses, for sure, but they are still guesses.
I’m saying is that I certainly don’t want to dismiss some theory, only to die and find out that I screwed up and rejected
the exact thing I shouldn’t have. And if everything is revealed to us when we die, I’ll admit that I’m looking forward to passing on.
Okay, maybe not the pain and suffering and voiding and all the other icky stuff that happens to the body during one’s
last moments in it, but what might happen next.
I run into Leonardo, I’ll have to ask him about the book.
it be a hoot if Dan Brown was closer to the truth than we all thought?
Friday, August 26, 2005
Let the mouseyblog predict your future!
5:10 pm cdt
here at mouseywerks were surprised today when we stepped out of our apartment and tripped over a large cardboard box. After much cursing and rubbing of stubbed toes, we opened it. Inside were a crystal ball and a Ouija board. There were also
a gazillion Chinese fortune cookies. We think they were used instead of packing
we set our new treasures in a place of honor (okay, we shoved some stuff off the coffee table), we wondered what we could
do with them. Then inspiration struck!
We could use them to predict the future!
we dashed to our closets, because you can’t accurately predict the future without the right wardrobe. The best we could do was Jay’s black kimono from his Glacia days, and my old bathrobe. Since Fortunetellers-R-Us doesn’t have a store in Madison, we may have to head down to State Street if
we want anything fancier.
kneeled down by the table, excited to see what prognostications came to us from the great beyond. Jay took the crystal ball. I had the Ouija board, because
crystal ball began to glow immediately once Jay placed his hands on it. We couldn’t
see anything in it, though; it was gray and cloudy. We doubted that the ball
was simply predicting the weather when it started to vibrate. Then a curious
beeping sound emanated from deep inside it. When we bent down to try to better
hear it, we realized that what we were hearing was a telephone’s busy signal. I
guess the ball wanted us to try our call again later.
had a lot more success with the Ouija board. Here’s what it predicted, with a
small disclaimer – any errors in the following divinations due to misspellings or my inability to read Jay’s handwriting are
not the responsibility of mouseywerks, the mouseyblog, its parent and related web pages, subsidiaries,
affiliates, divisions, and their past, present, and future directors, officers, agents, representatives, employees, contractors,
partners, shareholders, members or successors. Any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, is unintentional and purely coincidental. No animals were harmed
in the making of these predictions.
asked if there would be any big celebrity shockers in the future. The board predicted
that Jessica Simpson would go missing over the Midwest after mistaking her plane’s emergency exit for the lavatory door. A film crew in Iowa shooting The Simple Life XVIII – The Facelift Years, would find
her twenty years later.
asked what technology would be like in the future. The board predicted that,
although the technology will exist to telecommute, employers would be so paranoid about trade secrets and web porn that we’ll
still have to show up at the office at 8:00 am every day.
weren’t sure if the board was working, when we asked what entertainment would be popular in the future. It kept spelling out CSI, CSI, CSI.
asked whom the future President of the United States will be. The board couldn’t
give us a name, but indicated that the “C” in Washington D.C. won’t stand for “Columbia”, and that most politics will be done
on the Hillary.
a trip to the bathroom to empty our stomachs, we asked the board what the economy would be like in the future. The answer wasn’t clear. We kept getting random letters like
MSN, McD, WMT, and KIA. When we tried to find out if there was more, the board
burst into flames.
a feeling of dread, we turned back to the crystal ball. We asked what it could
tell us about the future. The foggy interior cleared, and we saw verdant fields,
blue skies, happy children playing, crime-free streets, and a big sign that said “Welcome to Chicago, the Windiest City in
we decided to check on California’s future. Jay’s sister lives there. But all the ball showed was the ocean, and then went all misty gray again.
this time, we thought that this crystal ball must have been defective right out of the factory. Where were our lottery numbers? Our grandchildren? Our star-spangled banner?
ball began to vibrate again. We didn’t get the buzzing sound this time, but a
voice. Unfortunately, we couldn’t tell what it was saying. We don’t speak Spanish.
still confused about what all this means.
I’ll ask my Magic 8 Ball.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
A little knitting for the knitting blog.
9:41 pm cdt
I have been seriously
lying down on the job. Slacking, or as we called it in college, “sloffing off”. If I neglect it any longer, they’ll revoke my title of “knitter”.
is the hardest time to knit. When it’s 95º out and the humidity is in the Turkish
Bath range, the last thing I want to have plopped in my lap is a big ol’ pile of wool.
Or cotton, or acrylic, or any permutation thereof. Even the cutest pattern
for itty-bitty baby booties doesn’t spur me to pick up the needles. The stash
gatherest dust. Or it would, if it weren’t in those big clear plastic stash bags.
enough, Mother Nature has given us a break. I don’t know if it’s due to her ongoing
battle with Alzheimer’s, but for the last week or so, it’s actually been cool out.
Highs have been in the low seventies, lows in the fifties. Perfect weather. Well, except for one week ago, when we had the 28 tornados.
so close, achingly close, to diving into my stash of yarn and starting a project. Even
though I have three other things currently in progress, I feel the urge to start something new. Something fabulous. Something everyone will drool over.
been preparing myself for the awesome new project by starting the same hat seven times.
I’ve tried it with three different yarns, two different sizes of needles, and six different stitch gauges. Yesterday evening it was nearly perfect when I decided that I hated it.
I frogged the whole thing and wound the yarn into a ball. I was watching
mouthing off to Hope (and Hope seeing right through her) and I had a lap full of Wool Ease Sport. And I had to go potty.
just sat at the computer and shook his head. He probably thought the hat was
for me. It wasn’t. I’ve already
knit myself a dozen or more hats. Berets, long pointy ski hats, toques, roll
brims, felted Amish style; I’ve got at least one of each. You’d think I was a
hydra with all the hats I have.
found a great sleeveless hoodie pattern online today. I have to take it home
and introduce it to my stash. Hopefully, one of the yarns will form a life-long
attachment to it. I’m not optimistic, though.
Even if I set a romantic mood, with candles and soft music, fiber love may not happen.
I have so many single patterns and single types of yarn that my work area looks like a failed fiber dating service.
I keep inviting more singles to join the club. Last weekend, Wally World had
Red Heart Pounders in new, bright colors. Aqua and lime and tangerine and watermelon. And for some strange reason (maybe my brain has finally succumbed to the ever-present
visual assault), I didn’t automatically think, “Who barfed fruit salad on the yarn?”
I found a fun navy-blue-purple-hot pink ombre and a pretty aqua-lime ombre and when I got home I found them in my back
seat. They’d hitched a ride. Jay
doesn’t know about them yet. Whoops. He
reads this. I guess he knows now.
those tempting treats tucked behind the sofa, there must be something I can knit.
Before Indian Summer arrives, and it’s 95º again. Before the heat and
humidity threaten to turn all the Wisconsin cheeseheads into fondue-heads.
a few candles and some Michael Bolton music will help.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
When did I get all this gray hair?
5:57 pm cdt
I’m feeling a bit old today.
Not physically; I have as much energy as I normally do. I feel old mentally. I feel
old because Beloit College came out with this year’s Mindset List.
For those of you who aren’t
familiar with this list, it’s made up of things to help college professors get an idea of what’s “normal” for this year’s
college freshmen. Things like “Tom Landry never coached the Cowboys”. “They never saw a Howard Johnson's with 28 ice cream flavors”. And
“they never saw Pat Sajak or Arsenio Hall host a late night television show” (but then 99% of America never saw Pat Sajak
host a late night television show).
Beloit College has only been
doing their Mindset List for the last seven years. I’ve always wondered what
would have been on it if they had done one for my college freshman class back in 1984.
I bet it would have been strange to read it today. Things have changed
so much in the last twenty-one years.
You don’t believe me? Keep reading.
This year’s college freshmen
don’t remember when "cut and paste" involved scissors. When I was a college freshman,
“cut and paste” usually meant someone in the room was eating the paste.
For them, condoms have always
been advertised on television. For us, condoms were called “rubbers”, and if
you mentioned them in public it was majorly embarrassing.
For them, Starbucks has always
been around the corner. For us, coffee was made by taking the grounds out of
a tin can and putting them in the basket of the coffee pot, filling it with water, plugging it in, and watching the coffee
percolate through the clear knob on the top.
They learned to count with Lotus
1-2-3. We learned to count with Sesame Street’s “The Count” (bwah-ha-ha).
They had the fun of riding the
back of a minivan with six others. We had the fun of riding in the back of a
station wagon with six others – without seat belts!
To them, the Starship Enterprise
has always looked dated. To us, it looked like the coolest ship in the universe!
They missed the oat bran diet
craze. We snitched our mothers’ “Ayds” diet chocolate candies.
For them, judicial appointments
routinely have been "Borked." For us, “bork” was something the Muppets’ Swedish
For them, TV networks have always
had cable partners. For us, “cable” was what when from the back of the TV to
the antenna on the roof. And we had to change the channels by hand!
For them, reindeer at Christmas
have always distinguished between secular and religious decorations. For us,
singing “Silent Night” at the school Christmas concert was a normal thing. And
it was called a Christmas concert, not a Holiday concert.
For them, Andy Warhol, Liberace,
Jackie Gleason, and Lee Marvin have always been dead. For us, Rock Hudson and
Freddie Mercury had always been alive and straight.
For them, Jimmy Swaggart and
Jim Bakker have never preached on television. For us, the names Jessica Hahn,
Donna Rice, and Fawn Hall would be forever linked with scandal.
For them, "Whatever" is not
part of a question but an expression of sullen rebuke. For us, “Whatever” is
what we say when we can’t understand a word today’s college freshmen are saying.
And that’s just the beginning.
I guess I shouldn’t wonder why
I have gray hair.
I should wonder what color to
dye it this week.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Now Boarding at Track Number 11...
5:24 pm cdt
will have to excuse me if I seem a little distracted this week. You see, I am
sitting in the middle of Grand Central Station. Well, maybe not quite that
busy. I have been to Grand Central Station during the morning commute, when there’s
one train (or more!) arriving every minute. I don’t know how all those people
get where they’re going without trampling each other.
if Grand Central were magically transported into a giant field in the middle of Minnesota.
Kind of like Mankato. That would be the hallway outside my office.
reason that traffic has increased to a whopping ten people per hour (approximately), up from one per hour, is that the shipping
entrance has become the temporary main entrance. The regular main entrance (also
known as the “front door”) is being blocked this week while the front steps are being replaced. They’re hoping it will be done in four days. We’ll see where
they are on Halloween.
reason they need to replace the front steps (and the back steps, too, but that’s next week) is that the geniuses that built
this place forty-odd years ago decided to use natural stone instead of concrete. But
no marble or granite for them, oh, no. For steps, something that millions of
feet will be treading on for centuries to come, they decided to use sandstone.
after a mere four decades of use, the steps were disintegrating so drastically that the building administration decided to
have a contractor come in and apply this sealant to them. Apparently the guy
who sold them on this “treatment” must have had a history in the used car business, because the sealant lasted about as long
as a 1986 Yugo. Two coats of this white, spackle-like substance still didn’t
keep the steps from crumbling. It just looked like someone had spilled a million
little bottles of white-out on the ground.
there are barrels and caution tape and sawhorses and signs blocking the front entrance, and three grimy men with various stoneworking
tools demolishing the steps. Being sandstone, it isn’t taking much. Most of it came up when they wedged the little bobcat’s forklift attachment under each layer of stone. The rest got jackhammered. Now the front
landing is so full of sand and bits of stone that it looks like the litterbox for a giant cat.
most of the jackhammering has gone on when I am not covering the Receptionist’s breaks.
They seem to coincide with the construction workers’ breaks, so I am spared the risk of deafness from the racket. Unfortunately, I am not spared the complaints of the Receptionist. Sheesh, from the racket she makes, you’d expect they’d turned the front landing into a bombing range.
supposed to finish cleaning off the old stone tomorrow. On Thursday, they’ll
pour the new steps. At that point, the major frustration will be the fight with
the temptation to run out and put my handprint in the wet cement. Or my initials. Or a heart with “LL + JD” in the middle.
hope they do. Having these hoards of people using the hallway outside my office
as the main entrance to the building is really getting annoying. I worry that
while I’m out delivering mail someone will come poking around my desk and steal my purse.
And my gummy life savers.
better not. If I catch them, they’ll pay.
touches my gummy life savers.
Monday, August 22, 2005
5:11 pm cdt
weird is it to see your hometown on national broadcast TV? Mt. Horeb, in all
its mustardy, troll-y glory. Really, thoroughly, truly, genuinely, sincerely,
exceedingly, especially weird.
I was, plopped on the couch, watching 200 of my former fellow Mt. Horebites “competing” on My Kind Of Town. Yes, I was watching television on a Sunday night. In summer. And it wasn’t football. This is not normal.
far as summer filler shows go, My Kind Of Town isn’t exactly Emmy material. They
call it part reality show, part game show, part sketch comedy. It’s more like
something someone at ABC must have dreamed up after listening to A Flock Of Seagulls at top volume and drinking one too many
glasses of chardonnay at their twentieth high school reunion.
Chick: “Dang, I gotta come up with something to fill an hour on Sunday nights
this August, or I’m looking at cardboard-box-ville.”
Chick’s Best Friend From High School: “What?”
Chick: “I can’t decide if I want to pitch a quiz show, a reality show, or a comedy
Chick’s BFFHS: “What?”
Chick: “It’s gotta be something that Middle America is gonna eat up.”
Chick’s BFFHS: “Where?”
Chick: (Looks around the Peoria Country Club Lakeside Room) “I think I may have
Chick’s BFFHS: “Yeah, I miss Jerry Garcia too.”
ABC picked 200 Mt. Horebites and put them on a plane and flew them to New York City, taped a show, stuffed them back on another
plane, and flew them home, all in 18 hours. And a week later, they aired the
show on national TV.
about thirty of the 200 actually got to participate. The rest mainly chanted
and clapped and cheered as the others “played” some games. I say “played” because
it was so obvious that the whole thing was fixed. I guess ABC didn’t want to
get a whole village pissed off at them. They wouldn’t want their ratings to fall
behind the WB’s.
like everyone else from Mt. Horeb, was worried that they’d edit the tape to make everyone look like a bunch of backwards,
idiotic losers. Fortunately, they only did that to the guy who wanted to win
a pair of red leather pants with yellow lightning bolts down the sides. Hey,
he asked for it.
was also worried that they’d only choose people who had moved to Mt. Horeb within the last ten years. You know the type – yuppie incomers who don’t have any appreciation for the history of the village. Jerks with jobs in Madison and egos to match.
But I actually knew four of the “contestants”. Three went to high school
with me. I recognized the name and face of the fourth, but can’t quite place
how I know her. I think she cuts my Mom’s hair.
ABC, you did okay. But it’s still bizarre to see my hometown on TV. Trolls and all.
Friday, August 19, 2005
God Hates Stoughton.
5:17 pm cdt
Stoughton (STŌ-tәn) Wisconsin, that is. The last two days haven’t been the happiest
for this Madison area town. It really is enough to make you think that God has
it in for them.
Wednesday, the big Lutheran church in town, and its school, burned to
the ground. All that was left was the brick façade and some stained glass windows. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it was a big loss to the community.
A story about it is here:
Then, yesterday evening (we’re talkin’ the very next day here)
a series of tornados ripped through parts of the city and turned it into tinker toy disasterland. Houses were smashed, cars flipped, and trees sharpened like pencils.
Here are some photos:
Stoughton isn’t that big a place.
Its population is about 12,500. Stoughtoners are proud of their Norwegian
heritage. It has your average mix of older and newer homes in all price ranges. Many of the homes that were destroyed sat on a golf course, so they weren’t exactly
mobile homes. Except for during the tornado, of course.
And now I hear that, less than twenty-four hours later, people have
It makes you wonder who is looting.
Are the poverty-stricken of Madison piling into their ’83 Monte Carlos and chugging down Highway 51 to avail themselves
of the pickings? It’s bad enough that the local police have locked down the city. Residents can get wristbands, but even with them aren’t being allowed back into their
neighborhoods. They’ve even kicked the media out.
There are more storms predicted for tonight. Some of the weather forecasters are saying that tonight’s storms could be worse than yesterday’s. How you can get worse than 26 twisters in less than fourteen hours over a seven-county
area, I don’t want to know.
If I’m not here Monday, you’ll probably find me hanging with the flying
There’s no place like home…
There’s no place like home…
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Once Upon A Time...
5:09 pm cdt
was a girl who worked for one company but at another. The company
where she worked had a bit of a problem with communication. Apparently the employees
were supposed to guess, or use their psychic powers, or drag out their Ouija boards whenever they wanted to know what was
got so bad that the workers began to spend their lunch hours griping to each other about how bad the communication was. They still didn’t know what was going on, but at least they knew that everyone else
was in the same dark closet they were.
people at this company received copies of the local newspaper at work. The girl
delivered some of them, and knew who received the others. One of the recipients
moved, and another subscription was transferred to another department. This was
all well and good until the Customer Service Gremlins at the local newspaper’s circulation office started wreaking that particular
kind of havoc that only Customer Service Gremlins do so well.
the number of papers that arrived each day varied as wildly as the stock market. The
recipients, of course, all wanted their papers. They didn’t appreciate the first-come-first-served
approach it seemed to take to get a paper. And no one knew why it was happening
or who was responsible. They just all blamed the mailroom girl.
Until one day, a man asked the girl a question. It was a seemingly innocent question. But it finally explained
the how the newspaper debàcle started.
A conversation ensued. Another
conversation followed that one. And swiftly the whole situation was clarified.
The girl was relieved to have settled this mess once and for all. So, remembering the lunch-hour bitchfests, she crafted a clearly worded email explaining
what had happened, and sent it off to all of the newspaper recipients, the worker responsible for paying the bill, and the
building administrator. Then she sighed in relief.
Then her phone rang. It
was the building administrator, chewing her out (gently, thank goodness) because the worker responsible for paying the bill
didn’t think it was appropriate to send those concerned that email. Reprimanding
her for communicating. Like the list of people who receive the newspaper
is a state secret. Like there will be police stings and public scandal and mass
hysteria if more than three people know who gets the damn newspaper.
The girl considered dusting the worker-responsible-for-paying-the-bill’s
mail with Valium.
But she just blogged it instead.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
School is in session.
5:01 pm cdt
They say you should
learn something new every day. I don’t know who “they” are, but I know they’re
right. Not only does it help ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s, but it makes
for some funny moments.
I learned a few things. I feel like I’m ahead of the curve. I’m banking learning for those days when I might learn nothing new at all.
You know, like Sundays, when I spend most of the day asleep.
WARNING ** Some of the things I learned today are not appropriate for small children, the elderly, and Catholics (or other
easily offended groups). Consider your wussy selves warned.
I learned that you shouldn’t promise someone that you can get 250 hand-folded-and-stapled booklets done in less than 24 hours. Especially when sixteen of those hours are spent away from work. And another is spent writing a blog entry.
I learned that you can use TerraServer online to find things that aren’t on MapQuest.
Maps can have mistakes on them. It’s kind of hard to screw up an aerial
photograph. Unless the government Photoshops them to hide secret military bases…
but that’s another issue.
I learned that all I have to do is take food outside and every bee in a tri-state area will be attracted to me. Apparently, there is a new breed of bee here. It’s a German
bee. I tried to get them to leave me alone, but I don’t know how to say “buzz
off” in German. They kept harassing me, even though my co-workers had fruit salad,
blueberries, and sugary soda. They wanted my leftover Outback sirloin steak. I don’t blame them. It was delicious.
I learned that quickest way to have a bunch of people hand you scads of mail right at the end of the workday is to start your
final collection rounds ten minutes early, so they have to chase you down the hallway with their last-minute mail.
I learned that you should not offer to let the maintenance guys store their extra urinal blocks on the shelves in your workroom. Unless you don’t want to breathe. Urf.
I learned that you never, ever, ever step outside your door unless you are fully dressed and in possession of your keys. This applies to your house, your office, and most definitely your hotel room. If you think I’m kidding, read about Stephanie’s incident in Edmonton at http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2005/08/09/there_is_the_downside.html.
I learned that you need to clean your desk more than twice a year. Otherwise
you end up with the Leaning Tower of Paperwork-that-needs-to-be-filed. Then you
try to extract something from three-quarters of the way down the pile, and your workstation ends up looking like Tokyo after
Godzilla came through.
I learned that nothing can’t be improved by taking a really big crap. Everything
works better after an inordinately large amount of poop has exited one’s body. Clothes
fit better, patience comes more easily, and even the flowers smell better. I
think it’s because they’re not competing with another smell.
the strangest thing I learned today is that Catholics can be excommunicated for having or assisting in an abortion if they
know that they can be excommunicated for having or assisting in an abortion.
that’s all for today. I wonder what odd things I’ll learn tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
So, you want to write a book...
9:19 pm cdt
One of the reasons I started
writing this blog was to get back into the practice of writing. One of my inspirations
is Donna Andrews, the authoress of nine books (and two more in progress!) and winner of the 1998 St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic
Best First Traditional Mystery Contest. I figured if a self-confessed “nerd”
like her can crank out such enjoyable and original works as Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos and We’ll Always
Have Parrots, then I can certainly extract something out of this twisted mess I call a brain. Especially with Jay’s help.
I’ve actually found
it fairly easy to tap out five, six, or seven hundred words a day, five days a week.
Surprisingly easy, considering how torturous it was back in junior high to complete a simple one-page essay. How I used to panic and cry whenever I saw that big, blank page and knew that I had to fill it from top
to bottom with words. It was almost as bad as being picked last for softball
in gym class.
I have decided on a subject for my future best-seller, and now that I’m starting to get some of the specifics down
on paper, I’m realizing that my ten-year-old self was pretty oblivious to a lot of the details of the Ice Storm of 1976. I need to do some research. I need to
do a lot of research.
So I started looking
for some of the information I need. I started with the Internet, my favorite
research tool. And I ran into a brick wall.
You know the one. It’s the wall graffiti’ed with “History starts in 1996”
on it. Problem is, I need information twenty years prior to that.
My friendly neighborhood
library website has a contact page, so that’s where I went next. I filled out
a form requesting advice on how to obtain access to old newspaper articles. The
form said I’d get a response by the end of the next business day. That was Friday,
and I haven’t heard anything from them yet. You think after all of the overdue
fees I’ve paid, I could get a little service.
Since I always go to
the library every Saturday morning, I tried to find some more information while I was there. Nada. It’s probably on microfilm, in a subterranean bunker, and you need the super-secret
password to get past the archivist guarding the door. I bet her name is Gertrude,
and she wears her hair in a severe bun and has a shady past involving an escape to Venezuela in 1945.
I wasn’t going to give
up, so I leafed through the latest copy of Writer’s Digest. I figured that if I couldn’t start at the beginning, I’d start at the end. WD
had some articles on self-publishing, and since I have zero confidence in getting an agent, publisher, or even my mother to
read my book, I could at least investigate publishing the thing myself. Dumb
idea. It’s not that I don’t have the money (well, I don’t, but that’s beside
the point), it’s that self-publishing is a lot more complicated than I thought. Copyright
issues, first rights, bookseller discounts, returnability; throw in the need for press kits (what am I going to put in a press
kit? Um, here’s a picture of me that I was too embarrassed to put on the dust
jacket, and that? It’s a slightly
smooshed Twinkie. Just in case you get hungry or something.) and 200 to 300 reviewer’s
copies (200-300? There are that many
people out there who get paid to sit around and read books? And do I really want that many people telling me I suck?). Urf. The legal details alone are enough
to make me feel like I just rode the Zipper a dozen times in a row after one too many corn dogs.
So before I could convince
myself that writing a book was a crazy waste of time, and did I really think I
could do it, and did I really want 500 copies of my book in one of those budget
clearance bookstores that pop up in empty storefronts and sell everything for under $3.00, I gingerly placed the magazine
back on the shelf, scrubbed my hands on my jeans to remove any remnants of bad mojo, and checked out a copy of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul. I hadn’t even started chapter
one, and I already needed some serious encouragement. Who knew that the trail
from idea to hardcover was so fraught with danger?
Donna makes it look
so easy. But then, her stories have parrots. And
I just have a bunch
of big, blank pages to fill with words.
And that’s the easy
Monday, August 15, 2005
4:59 pm cdt
are days that frazzle me, days that exasperate me, days I want to tear my hair out.
They’re caused by lazy co-workers, stupid customers, bad weather, cramps, or burning the breakfast cereal. On days like this, when the most optimistic thing I can think of is choosing my own coffin, there is only
one thing that can make me feel better.
amounts of chocolate. Nibbles are nothing.
Bars will barely suffice. I’m talking heaps of Hersheys, masses of M&M/Mars,
carloads of Cadbury; chocolate as high and wide and far as the eye can see. Like
the perennial favorite I Love Lucy episode, I need a conveyer belt of bonbons rolling right past me. Except I want to control the speed. And lose the studio audience.
think if I did nothing for the next 48 hours but eat, drink, and breathe chocolate, then I might – just might – feel
better. Maybe I could find the chocolate river from the Willy Wonka movie and
divert that sucker right through my living room. Or invent a chocolate bong. All I know is there is not enough chocolate in my life right now. And that has to change.
not enough to buy a sackload of Snickers and survive until Saturday. I know there
can be other ways to enjoy the lusciousness that is chocolate. Because I have
invented them. Okay, maybe I don’t have working models and PR kits and a business
plan, but I have some ideas.
chocolate gasoline – will that be white, milk, or dark chocolate for your tank today?
As expensive as regular gasoline is getting, we might as well use a bit of Hersheys in the Hummer. Now that would be a hybrid auto!
ideas to get more chocolate into the office. Just think how wonderful it could
be if everyday office supplies were chocolatized. Like chocolate printer ink
and toner. No longer would copies be black-and-white. They’d be brown-and-white. Put it on rice-based paper,
and after you’ve read your memo you could eat it. It would taste just like a
Nestlés Crunch. And no more gross-tasting envelope flap glue. It would be chocolate. Get that perfected and everyone will want to send out bulk mailings, and receive them,
how many of us chew on a pencil to aid our thought processes? We don’t actually
write with them – not in the computer age – but we gnaw at them and suck on the erasers until they’re mangled to a pulp. But if they were chocolate pencils… with a marshmallow eraser and a hazelnut “lead”? Yum.
should I invent next? How about personal care items that can be enhanced by the
addition of chocolate? Not just body lotions or lip gloss, either; too easy. What we need are chocolate-scented deodorants!
Chocolate-scented Breathe-Right nasal strips! And for the Olympian in
all of us, chocolate athlete’s foot spray. Wouldn’t that make you jump for joy? Or at least jump for Almond Joy?
are literally millions of products that could be enhanced with chocolate. A little
human ingenuity and a lot of product testing, and chocolate could make the world go ‘round.
more things that are chocolate, the less chocolate for me.
Whoops. I guess that backfired.
if that backfire came from a chocolate-hybrid car…
Friday, August 12, 2005
Another year older...
5:07 pm cdt
is a very special day. Forty-three years ago, in an Army hospital in Okinawa,
Japan, in the middle of a typhoon, a very special person came into the world. His
name is Jay Derks. Today is his birthday.
do you wish a Happy Birthday to the person who means more to you than anyone else on the planet? I’ve thought and thought, but no good plan is coming to mind. I
considered balloons and cake and candles and streamers and confetti and those neat little noisemakers that unroll when you
blow into them. I considered steak and wine and romantic music. I considered answering the door in a French maid outfit, but since he’s at home and I’m at work, unless
he wore the maid outfit (and I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that he will) that one is out.
did some little things for him today, like changing the screen saver on our computer to “marquee” and having it read “Happy
Birthday, Jay!! I Love You!!!”. I started a birthday thread on a message board
we both belong to. I sent him a Hallmark e-card.
I have a gift for him when I get home. But I want to do more. I want to do something that tells him that he’s the greatest. I
want him to have a Mega Super Ultra Fantastic Happy Birthday!
have to do this, because Jay is feeling really really old today. He’s 43. I keep telling him that is not old, but he doesn’t believe me. I give him examples of old. Examples that prove he can’t possibly
be as ancient as he thinks. Things like:
is when you throw your back out while clipping your toenails.
is when you remember babysitting for George Burns.
is when you mistake your rice cake for a coaster.
is when you forget where you put your glasses, and they’re on top of your head.
is when you forget where you put your hair, and it’s on the top of your head.
is when you have to run everything through the food processor before you eat it.
is when you start every phone conversation with “I was at the Doctor’s the other day…”
is when you’ve got more wrinkles than a shar-pei.
is when you spend more time sitting on the can than at the computer.
is when you put the computer desk in front of the can.
is when you drive a Buick.
is when they automatically give you the senior discount without asking for ID.
is when you listened to Mozart as a baby… Live in concert.
is when you turned in your homework by taking your teacher to see your cave wall.
is when you have a ticket stub from your passage on Noah’s ark. The boat,
not the water park.
is old… it is NOT YOU, JAY!!!!!
my sweetheart, you are not old. You are the age you are right now, and that is
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Back in the '80s...
5:12 pm cdt
like just about every other teenage girl in America, was crazy about the band Duran Duran.
Simon LeBon, John, Roger, and Andy Taylor, and Nick Rhodes were our fab five.
We all had our favorite. Mine was John – what is it with me and this fascination
with bass players? We all knew the Taylors weren’t related, the band was named
after a character in the movie Barbarella, and the original video for “Girls on Film” was banned by the BBC and only
shown on MTV with the nude girls edited out.
1983, Duran Duran released Seven and the Ragged Tiger. We didn’t care that the
title made no sense, unless you added Siegfried and Roy and their menagerie to the five band members. We also didn’t care that the lyrics made no sense. We weren’t
singing along. We were fantasizing about what it would be like to be kissed by
Nick. Or wondering what Andy’s original hair color really was.
back to the lyrics. Charlie FM has been playing a lot of Duran Duran lately. In the ‘80s, the lyrics on Seven and the Ragged Tiger were referred to as “existentialist
mumbo-jumbo”. I think that the band had become so popular that they thought Hey,
I bet we could sing any old shite and the girls would still scream and throw their undergarments at us. So they did.
don’t believe me? Look at the following.
Of The Snake” chorus:
Union of the Snake is on the climb
Moving up it's gonna race it's gonna break
Through the borderline
reflex is an only child he's waiting in the park
The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
over lucky clover isn't that bizarre
Every little thing the reflex does
Leaves you answered with a question mark
“New Moon On Monday”,
first four lines:
Shake up the picture the lizard mixture
With your dance on the eventide
You got me coming up
All of which I deny
Now, the reason these
lyrics make no sense at all could be due to the fact that they were written in the south of France, Monserrat, and Australia. Sunstroke, perhaps? Or a little too much
Or maybe a brain injury
from being whacked in the head by too many pairs of girls’ panties.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Change for the Better (Half).
5:06 pm cdt
called me this morning. He tries to call every morning, just to see how my day
is going, and to vent if his is rotten. I knew something was wrong the moment
I heard that the-world-is-coming-to-an-end tone in his voice.
Me: “Service Center, this is Linda.”
Jay: “Hi, Sweetie…”
can almost see the miniature skull-and-crossbones-shaped clouds of doom floating around Jay’s head. Even though he is a mile and a half away. And I have my back
Jay: “How’s your day going?”
Me: “Not too badly… how about you?”
Jay: “Well, I’m kicking myself for forgetting something today.”
I usually remember to do an oral checklist as we are going out the door each morning.
For me, it’s keys, pager, purse, knitting, lunch, smokes, and sunglasses (whether it’s sunny or not). Jay’s list is more varied, but usually includes his PDA, wallet, glasses, and keys. But this morning I forgot. Maybe it was because I’d only had
three and a half hours of sleep, because I had to finish the latest Elizabeth George mystery, because I’d seen a snippet
of it on PBS and had to know what happened to Lynley’s wife. So I had
no idea what he had forgotten.
Me: “What did you forget?”
Jay: “Money. I have absolutely no money. No money for snacks.”
is a reason Jay never has any money. He has Teflon hands. A naturally occurring non-stick surface. Money can’t stay
in his fists any longer than muffins can stay in those SmartWare flexible pans they sell on TV.
Me: “Oh.” Is that all?
Jay: “Yeah. Good thing I brought an extra
Pepsi. And I found some pizza rolls I left in the breakroom freezer last week. So I’ll be okay.”
Me: “Or you could sell a Max Assurance.”
Store Manager, David, bought big bags of limited edition candy bars last week as performance incentives. Like dark chocolate coated Twix bars. Sell a Max Assurance
Plan (i.e. replacement warranty or extended service warranty), or get three add-ons to a sale (paper, ink, and cleaning kit
to go with a printer, for example), etc. etc. and get a candy bar.
Jay: “I never thought of that.”
Me: “Yeah, and if people are undecided about the plan, you can get on your knees and say
‘Please, Mister, Please, you have to buy a Max Assurance.
Look at me… I’m starving! I’m so thin! If you buy one, then I can eat!
Please! I’m hungry!’”
Jay: * hysterical laughter *
Me: “Hey, it would work. You are really
thin. You could get down on your knees and make sad puppy eyes at them. I bet you’d have six candy bars by lunch.”
Jay: * more hysterical laughter *
Me: “I can see it… Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease! I’m
hungryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! We could train all the sales staff to use it.”
Jay: “I don’t think so.”
Me: “Well, maybe not. But it sounded like
a good idea.”
we ended the phone call, he was still laughing. It was nice to know I’d turned
his skull-and-crossbones clouds of doom into little smiley faces.
he called me just now, after getting home from work.
out he did sell a Max Assurance today. And he forgot to get a candy bar.
hope the desperate hunger didn’t affect his brain.
Tuesday, August 9, 2005
She's a 10.
5:06 pm cdt
I know, I know. Top ten lists are the blogger’s version of fast food – satisfying, cheap, and not
a lot of work. But there are some days when you have short thoughts that, no
matter how you try, you can’t expound upon enough to make a decent blog entry. So,
with apologies to David Letterman, here’s today’s topic.
10 Reasons It Sucks to be a Woman
10.) Really annoying to use the toilet when wearing a one-piece bathing suit.
9.) No-one advertises free birth control pills, only free Viagra.
8.) Getting caught in a downpour while wearing pantyhose.
7.) Too many places on body that need frequent shaving.
5.) Always seem to be second in line for the TV remote.
4.) Everything makes your butt look big.
3.) Can’t legally go topless in public on really hot days.
2.) Most bras hook in the back (What “genius” came up with that, by the way???).
1.) After years of hard work and sacrifice to be respected and admired for our intelligence
and class, the world gives us Jessica Simpson. (“Hi! I’m stoopid! Isn’t that cute?”).
you know, now that I think of it, being a woman isn’t all bad. So, to
add some positive thoughts to the above griping, here are:
10 Reasons It’s Kinda Cool to be a Woman
10.) Can wear pretty much all men’s clothing without risk of being thought of as a weird
9.) Can blame overindulgence in chocolate on PMS.
8.) Can carry a purse.
7.) Don’t have to get a haircut every three weeks.
6.) Not necessary to grow moustache and buy little red sports car during midlife
5.) You cried at the end of Titanic, too?
Nothing to be embarrassed about.
4.) Can buy tampons without the cashier looking at you weird.
3.) Ever see a guy in capri pants?
2.) There’s always an excuse to take at least one day off a month
1.) Limitless supply and variety of gorgeous shoes.
guess in the end, it all balances out.
back to my evil plot to rid the world of Jessica Simpson.
Monday, August 8, 2005
Holy Mustard, Batman!
5:08 pm cdt
few people have ever heard of my hometown. Fewer have been there. When I was growing up, the population was a measly 2402. This
didn’t include me, as I actually grew up in the country. It wasn’t nowhere, but
you could see it from there.
weren’t a lot of reasons for anyone to come to my hometown in the ‘70s. Cave
of the Mounds and Little Norway were the closest tourist attractions, but even they were three miles out of town. Anything we could buy there, we could find in Madison for half the price.
Even though the highway went right through town, with gas at fifty-odd cents a gallon most people would drive the seventeen
miles into “the city” and make a day out of shopping there. We’d hit K-mart and
Prange Way in the morning, lunch at Mickey D’s or Mars (remember build-your-own-Mars-burgers?), and spend the afternoon at
Westgate Mall where, among other things, we’d try on oxfords at Ragatz shoes and see if we could make their myna bird say
the highway bypass around my hometown was being completed in 1984, the village board decided that they’d better do something
to entice visitors. They were worried that travelers wouldn’t visit the village,
since the city was now only fifteen minutes further down the highway. There wasn’t
really anything famous in town except for the Open House Imports’ troll. For
many years, this importer of Norwegian goods had a two-foot-tall carved troll that they placed outside on a platform when
they were open. It was the object of many tourist snapshots, so the board decided
to adopt the troll as the village mascot. Thus was born the “Trollway”.
were placed at the exits on each end of town to lure drivers to “take the Trollway” into town.
The local diner and bakery, the antique shops, and other merchants put out signs visible from the highway. And the village recruited the high school wood shop students to make trolls.
first trolls on the Trollway weren’t the evolved masterpieces you see today. No,
they were kind of a Neanderthal attempt to make trolls. They started with pieces
of plywood. The outline of the characters were traced on and cut out with a jigsaw. Then the cartoon-like trolls were painted. The
end results were two-dimensional Smurf-ish things that were put up all around town.
They’d be hanging from trees, peeking from behind signposts, and perching in bushes.
I think they probably scared more children than attracted tourists. They
were ugly, amateur, and utterly embarrassing.
those Cro-Magnon trolls were replaced by the intricately carved ones you see today.
Even so, when I say “I’m from Mount Horeb, Wisconsin… you know, where they have those trolls”, the light bulb above
people’s heads refuses to go on. What does get the juice flowing, however,
the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum (http://www.mustardmuseum.com), owned and operated by Barry Levenson.
Wherever mustard is being discussed, the Mustard Museum always comes up, and everyone seems to have heard of it. Founded in 1992, there are over 4,100 different types of mustard from all over the
world in the museum, and many domestic and imported mustards to buy in the gift shop half of the building.
and I spent some time in Mount Horeb last Saturday for National Mustard Day. They
actually block off Main Street (the Trollway! Really! ) and have
live music, free hot dogs, mustard custard, and the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. We
arrived late. We missed the hot dogs and mustard custard. We spent over $17.00 on mustard. We bought some Mucky Duck
British pub style mustard, some Slimm & Nunne Maple Peppercorn mustard, two mini-sized Slimm & Nunne Sweet & Nicely
Hot mustards, and a mini-size Whole Grain mustard that’ll burn your nose hairs off if you take too deep a whiff of it. And just in case you’re starting to think that we’re daft, the couple ahead of us
in line spent over $75.00. They must have been from out of state.
we stopped at the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub for something to drink. Here we thought
that the place was named after the frowning mascot on the sign. After we went
in, we realized “Grumpy” must be the manager, and the Trolls, the bartenders. We
were looking (in vain) for a place at the bar when the manager asked “You gonna eat?”
Not “Dining room or bar today?” or “May I help you?” No, this frosted-blonde,
fake-bake Boomer said “You gonna eat?” in quite the rude manner. After waiting
for the troll-like barmaid to help every other customer, we finally got our drinks: Jay, a lager; and I, a Coke. The barmaid never once smiled the whole time we were there. Maybe
it was because she has fewer teeth than the Troll on their sign.
the problem with my hometown these days. More incomers with their granola-crunching,
Birkenstock-wearing, Madison snobby attitudes. They act like they have a hot-dog
stuffed up their ass.
Friday, August 5, 2005
Dangerous Opinions Ahead.
5:33 pm cdt
I got a letter from
my church this week. Along with a request to confirm or update my contact information,
it asked for my thoughts about the church and how I feel I could contribute.
I don’t think they realize
what a loaded question that is.
see, despite the fact that I work with Catholics, graduated from a Lutheran college, and worked at a Bible camp two summers
during high school, I’m not a fan of organized religion. Don’t get me wrong -
I believe in God, Jesus, and heaven. But I also believe that Man has seriously
screwed up when it comes to the interaction between them.
people think Man created God. (S)He needed something to explain the unexplainable,
to give meaning to what was a crude existence here on earth, to take the fear out of death.
I’ve seen enough strange stuff in the last thirty-nine years that I can only explain by including God in the equation,
so I do believe in a “greater power”. I call It “God”, because that’s what I
was brought up to call It. It may manifest Itself to others as “Allah”, “Buddha”,
or “Earth Mother”; it’s not my place to say It doesn’t. How would I really know,
anyway? God supposedly came to humanity on the tower of Babel and made them all
speak different languages; couldn’t it be possible that It made humanity see Itself in different guises as well?
I don’t think that Man created God. But I do know that Man created religion. And that’s where Man, for years, has seriously effed up. Religion is, ostensibly, the way for Man to interact with God. But
Man has used it in some awful ways: to wage war, steal fortunes, suppress science, stifle speech, permit slavery, and control
every detail of people’s lives. They take religious texts, twist and mangle them
until they fit their needs, and profess it as “God’s will”. When you count everything
that’s been done in the name of organized religion, can you blame me for being disillusioned?
don’t feel I need to ally myself with a corrupt institution in order to properly interact with God. I do that one-on-one. However, in order to keep peace with
my family (and continue to qualify for the life insurance my parents bought for me), I have to be a member of a church. I don’t have to go to worship services every week.
But they want to know how I’ll “share my gifts” with them. I know that
means contributing money, which I don’t do now, although I may have to in the future.
really bothers me that this church may require a payment of dues (which is really what it is, when you stop the spin) in order
to be a member. It seems they don’t realize that not everyone may be able to
afford it. And when poverty bars you from the church, what does that say about
Christianity? I don’t think Jesus charged an entrance fee to hear the Sermon
on the Mount.
also makes me angry when I see the projects that my church endorses. They’re
the typical Yuppie/Boomer feel-good causes. But I think it’s hypocritical to
buy Fair Trade coffee while the local family-owned grocer goes bankrupt. A dollar
may buy a lot of food in Africa, but what about the kid down the block that can’t afford a school lunch? Clothing drives for people in Mississippi when there are local families that can’t afford shoes? Send the Youth Group to West Virginia to fix up homes there, when people in your own township shiver through
the winter in an uninsulated trailer? You’d think they would care about
the welfare of their own neighbors instead of ignoring them for the more picturesque poverty of people they most likely will
hope my church really wants to know what I think they should do and won’t just pay lip service to my ideas. Because if they really want to make an impact on people’s lives, they should look around themselves. Give their neighbors jobs. Support
their neighbors who may be depressed or mentally ill. Break the hold that alcohol
has on our society. Make sure that every kid in the school district has a computer
– the library ones don’t count. Erase the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Encourage interaction between all ages and economic groups, singles and marrieds and
divorceds, professionals and laborers. Make the whole town one big family that
will come to each other’s aid at all times, not just during disasters. And
don’t brag about how great you are while you’re doing it.
may not be as glorious as the struggle for world peace. But it’s what a church
Thursday, August 4, 2005
It was a conspiracy, I tell ya.
4:58 pm cdt
Feds, the Fates, God; what- or whomever was controlling my universe today had it in for me.
It wasn’t broken nails, paper cuts, or jammed copiers, though. It was
specifically, it was lunch. The Greater Powers were messing with my ability to eat anything between breakfast and supper. It was either trying to tell me to go on a diet, or make me feel empathy for the hungry
of the world. Or it was just playing mind games.
I don’t know.
I left the house this morning, I’d had my usual breakfast: two cigarettes. You
see, I am not a morning person. It’s enough that I drag myself out of bed and
get to work around eight. My employers have no idea how lucky they are that I
am able, at the ungodly hour of 7:25 am, to wash, brush, and make myself presentable.
I even make the effort to put on a shirt and a skirt that match. Sometimes
7:25 am is before the freakin’ sun comes up! What a miracle!
to try to remove a bowl from the cupboard, pour cereal and milk into it (providing the milk isn’t sour… or chunky) and spooning
it into my mouth? That takes a level of energy and focus I don’t possess until
at least 10:15… and on some days, that’s 10:15 pm. Eggs? Bacon? Toast? Hash
browns? No way. Unless I have time
for Mickey D’s, which is never, unless they start letting me phone in an order to be delivered to work.
So, two cigarettes (one
while I watch the weather report, the other while I’m driving) are my daily morning get-me-going. Then, on days my lunch break is at one, I have a snack at eleven.
Otherwise I hold out until noon, and stuff my face at lunch.
Today was a 1:00 lunch,
so around eleven (actually, 10:30, because I was hungry, dammit!) I counted out 65¢ and made my way to the vending machine. I was having a Pop Tart Emergency, and only some hot, gooey, sugary, cherry goodness
would satisfy my craving. I put in the first coin and prepared to insert the
second, when I heard a clink! in the change dispenser.
My coin had been rejected.
I thought as I retrieved my quarter. Why does it always do this to me? I tried the quarter again. Clink!
I tried a dime. Clink! I tried another dime. Clink! I tried the quarter again. Clink!
The evil vending machine
was denying me my Pop Tart! How dare it?!
It knows I’m hungry. It knows I’m dying for a sugar fix. It’s got it in for me. Dirty rotten machine.
So I toughed it out
until 1:00, all the while trying to decide if I needed to get something to supplement the sandwich and peach I’d brown-bagged. I’d planned on getting some chips out of the aforementioned evil vending machine,
but there was no guarantee it would be fixed by then. I pondered long and hard,
and decided that if I made up my mind that a sandwich and a peach were enough to fill me up, then they in fact would
fill me up.
Mind over matter doesn’t
hold true, however, when you cut into your peach and find out it’s rotten.
One ham salad sandwich
later, my stomach was still howling feed me! and I had twenty-five minutes of lunch left. This narrowed down the list of possible places I could run to three:
a sandwich shop, a Chinese take-out place, and The Border. It was easy
to rule out the sandwich shop, because I really didn’t want another sandwich on top of the first. The Border just wasn’t calling to me, either. What were calling
to me were french fries. Hot, potato-y, salty, artery-clogging french fries. But they were fifteen minutes away (no thanks to Wally World) and, as I said, I had
only twenty-five minutes left.
So I went down to the
Chinese take-out and got some Crab Rangoon. It satisfied my hankering for hot
grease and, smothered with sweet and sour sauce from those little plastic packets, made my tummy happy.
That, and the giant
container of egg drop soup. Hey, I was famished.
I finished the whole thing.
I certainly wasn’t going
to share any with the Fates. Not after the Pop Tart Incident.
That’ll teach them not
to mess with me.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
I wish I may, I wish I might...
5:02 pm cdt
When I was a kid, my sisters
and I always looked forward with anticipation to the arrival of the annual Christmas catalog.
We always got two: one was from JC Penney’s, and the other was the Sears Wish Book.
would spend hours pouring through the pages, dreaming of what we would put on our lists for Santa Claus. The Wish Book was our mall, without having to drive the twenty miles one way to get there (heck, Mom wouldn’t
even drive us the five miles to the nearest Ben Franklin, much less the mall ).
We salivated over the dolls, the playhouses, and the games. One of my
sisters used to stare for hours at the swing sets. We’d fill notebook pages with
lists of toys that would have bankrupted our parents to buy for us.
now we’re all grown up, and the Wish Book just doesn’t hold the pleasure it used to.
The holiday outfits all look tacky and the toys are overpriced. My priorities
have eclipsed having the latest Barbie doll.
when I want that vicarious thrill, I do what I did today. I pull out the office
the best thing about perusing this catalog is that, with a little shrewdness, I can actually get what I want.
child who wanted an artist’s easel now gets a twelve-pack of highlighters. Posters
of rock stars are replaced by colorful desk calendars with pictures of the ocean. Post-it
tape flags, neon note cubes, black Sharpies, coordinated desk sets; office supply catalogs are full of little goodies to make
a working person’s heart go pitter-pat. And as long as you don’t go too far overboard,
your company will pay for them all!
there are the bigger ticket items to drool over. The playhouse and swing sets
become personal digital assistants and digital cameras, leather executive chairs and mahogany file cabinets. It’s enough to make you want to write a list to Santa.
(in my case), Santa is a cranky divorced woman in her late fifties who pinches pennies so tightly you can hear Lincoln scream. So I have to be creative when filling out my order form. When I have a list of seven different pastel colors of copy paper, it’s easy to sneak that multipack of
fluorescent post-its in. The monotony lulls her into the belief that there is
nothing but a bunch of boring things on the list. Better yet, I sometimes make
the order so long that she just faxes it without even looking.
bad there aren’t Barbie dolls in that catalog. I’d be tempted to order one just
to see if I’d get it.
don't know how I'd justify it. Maybe I could use it as a bookend.
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Does What's mailed in Vegas... stay in Vegas?
5:11 pm cdt
got an awesome flier in the mail today. Okay, it was addressed to “Mailroom Manager”,
not my name. But since that is my job, I opened it. And what was inside was just too cool.
was an invitation, complete with $25 VIP Pass, to MAILCOM 2005, at the legendary Riviera Hotel and Casino in Fabulous Las
Vegas! (Hm. Ever notice how the
word “fabulous” almost always precedes the name Las Vegas? I wonder if there
are people who grow up thinking that “Fabulous Las Vegas” is actually the name of the city?
If there are, I bet they watched too much Wheel of Fortune.)
never been to a business convention. I’ve been to the odd trade show where you
might pick up a pencil, key chain, and refrigerator magnet with company logos, but never a real-honest-to-gosh convention
complete with drunk balding middle-aged men stumbling into their secretaries’ hotel rooms.
MAILCOM 2005 is two and a half days of scintillating speakers and cutting-edge technology, all about “The Art &
Science of Mail Communication”.
think I’m going to have to convince my “boss” that it is imperative that I attend this convention. Where else will I be able to view the contributions that can be made to my job by companies like Astro
Machine Corp., Kirk-Rudy, Inc., and Sartori Software? I mean, if the flier is
telling the truth (and why wouldn’t it?) I could save thousands of dollars in postage, courier bills, and leases, not to mention
adhesive bandages for those darn paper cuts. And if I’m really, really
lucky, I might win enough in the casino to cover my expenses. What boss could
say “no” to that?
anyone who has been to a Star Trek Convention knows that “Cons” are a blast. I
can only imagine all the fantastic extras the organizers couldn’t fit in the flier.
The dealers’ room, where you can buy everything mail-related under the sun. Exotic
postmarks. Replica uniforms. Antique
postage meters. Autographed pictures of the Postmaster General. Klingon knives that look like letter openers.
they’ll have a viewing room. One wall will be covered by a giant movie screen. All day and night, conventioneers will be able to view such classic episodes of mail
mania like “FedEx Follies”, “Bloopers from Bulk Mail”, and reality footage such as “Live from New York – Inside the Back of
a UPS Truck!”
don’t forget the highlight of every Con – the costume contest. Good thing I have
a sewing machine, because I’m going to have to get cracking if I’m going to finish that “Summer Blue” Postal Carrier outfit
before September. Plus I’ll have to get down to the local costume shop to buy
some fake dog-bite plastic appliances for my legs.
gotta go all out if you want to take home the big prizes.
ask those contestants on Wheel of Fortune.
Monday, August 1, 2005
No Wise Cracks. Please.
4:56 pm cdt
of the things l like about being a handy girl is that I don’t have to play bimbo and ask a big strong man to fix things for
me. I’ve changed a flat tire and replaced light bulbs on my cars, hung drywall
in a Habitat for Humanity house, installed RAM in my PC, and set up my own window air conditioning unit. I’ve even assembled my own furniture with nothing but a pocket screwdriver.
I know that if something moves, and it shouldn’t, you use duct tape; if it’s not moving and it should, use WD-40.
the years, my Dad has given me tools for Christmas. I have a socket set, screwdrivers,
a power drill, hammer, and a jigsaw - and I know how to use them. All I need
is a tool belt that drags my pants so low you can see my buttcrack, and I could go into business for myself.
really neat thing about having all this DIY knowledge is that, when something breaks in my apartment, Jay and I can usually
take care of it ourselves. Now, when the garbage disposal decided to detach itself
from under my sink, we called the management office. The top of it had completely
corroded away, and no amount of duct tape or superglue was going to fix that sucker.
But, to be honest, I really don’t like the idea of having a stranger in my apartment while we’re at work. I know they’re supposed to be trustworthy, but I can’t shake the image of some repairman fixing whatever
is broken and then taking pictures of everything we have stuffed in our tiny place and showing it to the landlord, and him
kicking us out... after the local news shows it with the caption "apartment declared unfit for human habitation". Or worse, I imagine him pawing through my underwear drawer.
know Jay or I could take time off to be at home when the repairman comes. But
with my luck, I’d wait all morning, get frustrated when he didn't show, and decide to take a shower… and that’s when
he’d arrive. Or I’d run downstairs to get the mail, and come back to find a “We
were here; where were you?” sign tacked to the door.
I usually fix whatever I can. Sometimes I’ll even put off fixing something. For years. All because I really don’t
want some stranger in my home.
is why, last Saturday afternoon, I found myself in the local Home Depot, trying to figure out what to buy to fix my toilet.
it’s not cracked or leaking or falling through the floor. That I would
call management for. All it’s doing is running every few minutes. If you take off the tank lid and wiggle the overflow tube, the gasket at the flush valve seals back up
and it stops. Sometimes the gasket gets dislodged, and you have to reach down
there and push it back into place, all the time hoping that the drain monster doesn’t bite your fingers off.
know that all I need to do is replace that gasket. I bought one Saturday. But I’ve been procrastinating actually draining the tank, pulling up the overflow
tube, and putting on the new gasket.
don't know why I'm putting off fixing it. Maybe it’s because it’s a TOILET, for heavens sake, full of germs and
other grossness. It is really slimy in there, even though only clean
water flows through that part. And when an occasional wiggle makes the problem
go away, it’s easy to say nahhh, I’ll do it tomorrow.
I don’t have that heavy tool belt yet, and I want to do the job right.
Yeah. That’s why.