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Archive for July, 2012

Spaces in Between.

Be patient… there’s some formatting issues on this blog due to some wonky code somewhere that I need to fix cut cannot address until tomorrow.  It’s truly hosed but you should always be able to read the most recent post w/o hassle.

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We are solid in the middle of sorting through Cruel Wife’s mom’s stuff.

You might be able to imagine three very intelligent and opinionated sisters in a high-stress situation of sorting through their mother’s belongings after a very unexpected demise.  It has been… trying.  Not bad, not good – no judgment – but a situation requiring lots of latitude and patience.

The only thing we can figure is that she exhibited all the symptoms of heart problems, yet because the most commonly known symptoms of heart problems are the symptoms that apply to men.

Things like blue fingers and nose, one cold leg and one hot, tired for no reason… everyone thought she had the best health and ate healthier and exercised more than any of us.  But, sometimes this sort of thing doesn’t make any sense at all and a common theme here has been one of self-blame, and that is unfair to one but it is also understandable.

So three crazy-tense sisters and two of us husbands who could make it, and we’ve tried keeping kids sane or at the least out of their mothers’ hair.  It’s interesting.

On the way out here from the airport (about three hours of driving), we came across an interesting spot.

A single-wide trailer, its outhouse, and next to a truck car-wash.  Save your soul, empty your bladder, and drive away in a sparkling-clean truck.  Just down the road is the best part – a gas station that sells corndogs.  Since being back in the NW I have had five corndogs, which you don’t find in so many places in Michigan.  It has been a slice of heaven.  So not all about this vacation has been sad.  Hey, work with me here – it’s been a visit with many bittersweet moments as memories have been relived – but there have been chances for people to show strength, too.  Corndogs help.

More later…

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What is left behind when we’re gone?  What is left behind is shared times and memories.  And with time, and the telling, those memories remain alive.  Those aren’t new sentiments but it doesn’t hurt to say it anyway.

Cruel Wife has some things she wanted me to post, and I will do that shortly.  Since that material is at this moment being written by her, I figured I’d take a moment to say a few words and then tack on her stuff when it is done.  It’s a first – a LK/CW co-authorage.

Here is what I would say.

The last night before her folks left, CW’s dad went out to the trailer to get some rest.  He was tired and I don’t blame him – he did a lot of work on our remodel while I was at work.

BCCFN was talking to CW and somehow the topic of dark matter came up and before I knew it, CW’s mom and I were talking about the Cosmological Constant, dark matter and dark energy, the evidence for a closed universe, background energy… and come to find out, she took it in her head one day to get ahold of some lectures and was working her way through the series.  Should one be surprised at this?  I mean she was a radiochemist for years, and it is obvious she was no dummy, none of her daughters are – all of ’em too intelligent for comfort.  But BCCFN… she was doing all this and studying other topics, was here for seventeen days and only mentioned it at the very end, the very last night.  And my jaw dropped.

There is this brain-metaphor thing that describes the surprise and respect I had after that, and I don’t think I could quite define it.  I’ve been told on several occasions that I do not suffer fools lightly, and the flip side to that coin is I have a great deal of respect for intelligence.  This is not to say I have only value for some number like IQ and that makes for superiority or anything, but it does mean I do place high value on people who have done or do things with gifts that they were given – there’s not a one in CW’s family that isn’t gifted (and kind of dangerous in a battle of wits if you let your guard down).  And BCCFN, as nail-bitingly maddening she could be at times, managed to surprise the hell out of me and gain a measure of respect.  And she never let on.  She was about as humble and self-deprecating as a person could be and didn’t stop being curious.  I was bummed when she decided to go out to bed because the conversation when she relaxed was infinitely more interesting than observations about my salt intake or how much oil I put in the stir fry.

A funny, odd, and ultimately quite interesting duck, my mother-in-law.

Ok, I’ll quit talking now let you read the CW stuff.

Simple, silly attachments.  (Aren’t those usually the best ones?)

As many of you know, I lost my mom today.  It took everyone by surprise.  I thought she’d live another two decades at least, and wondered if she might just outlive us all.  She was in remarkably good health for a 75 year old lady, thus the complete shock.  We are still waiting to find out what happened.  I asked LK to share a story for me.  This how I deal with grief, by writing down my thoughts and memories of the loved one departed.

Just last night, LK and I had been going through boxes we’d stored for years.  We set aside a number of unimportant dishes in one of my boxes freshly emptied of “memories” that I couldn’t remember.  The dishes were slated for the consignment shop.

I took those dishes to the consignment shop this morning despite receiving the bad news.  I needed to “just keep swimming” (for those of you who might be Pixar heathen, that is a quote from “Finding Nemo”).  As I stood at the counter asking the hired help to sell them or donate them (I didn’t really care at that moment), it dawned on me that I was looking at Mom’s handwriting on the side of the box.

“Records,” it said.

I distantly heard the lady asking me if I wanted my box back while my thoughts were speeding me back 25 years.  It was the summer before my freshman year in college.  I remember scrounging everywhere for packing boxes, and I still didn’t have enough.  I asked Mom if she had any extra.  I distinctly remember her telling me “Well, these are some of my GOOD apple boxes…but I guess you can have them.”  She gave up several of her long-term storage boxes so that I’d have a place to put my childhood memorabilia.  The box in my hands had been with me for the last 25 years, keeping my childhood treasures safe. Still bearing the title “Records” on the lid and the inner box, written in Mom’s handwriting.  I had to keep that box.

I returned home several hours later.  Never had a shopping trip been so painful, looking for a dress suitable for Mom’s funeral.  As I went in the house, it slowly dawned that I didn’t have the box.  The whimsical desire to save the box suddenly became urgent.  I kept telling myself “It’s just an apple box, for pete’s sake.  If its gone, its gone.”  Still, I got in the car again and backtracked to the consignment shop, only to find it closed.  The lights were still on, though, so I knocked on the door.  I was lucky; the owner was still there.  Lo and behold, she still had my box, too.  Undamaged.  You would have thought I’d found something very special to my mom rather than an empty cardboard box.  To me, I did.  A precious memory of her had returned to me because of that box.  It might be a mundane and largely inconsequential grocery produce box, but it was given to my by a dear lady 25 years ago as she launched me into my adult life.  That makes it precious.

My mother would be flabbergasted by the importance this silly box has taken on today.  All the same, I’m thankful to have it back.  My childhood treasures are going back into that box, to be safely stored (God willing) for the next 25 years of my life.  Then again, who knows?  In 10 to 12 years, Lemurita and Hacker-boy will be getting ready to embark on the next stage of their journeys.  Maybe it will be my turn to donate one of MY good apple boxes to the cause.  If so, they’ll get more than a storage box.  They will get this story, too.

God bless you all and thank you for the well wishes.

CW

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A Little Rain Must Fall.

The news just as I got up this morning wasn’t good.  Cruel Wife entered the hallway and said “Mom is dead.”

I shook my head and said “What?”

“Mom died last night”, she said, and lost it.

Apparently her mother had taken her regular scalding-hot we-can-peel-peaches-and-tomatoes-in-this-water bath and didn’t get out.  About all we can figure is that her heart may have given out.

And so, using blog nicknames as usual, here’s a nod of respect to Bat-Crap Crazy Food Nazi (BCCFN).  She drove me nuts while here at our house and about killed me with her preaching about the evils of salt while she was mentally measuring the amount I used with every shake, but it cannot be denied that she was at her core a kind and caring person.  I’m pretty darned sure that she didn’t suffer and that where BCCFN is right now is a wonderful place.

CW is doing well enough – it comes and goes in waves and as long as she keeps moving and focused on the details of small things she’s holding up.  I will keep the meals coming, the kitchen clean, and whatever is needed to keep things “normal” and let her and the kids deal with things as they wash over them.

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I am very proud of Cruel Wife. She has agreed to watch Band of Brothers from nose-to-tail. She’s not big on war movies but (1) this is more or less real, even with the embellishments, and (2) even though it is disturbing, she’s still watching it.

I have said many times that I will insist that our kids watch BoB and Saving Pvt. Ryan before they leave home, for I want them to be innoculated against those who wish to poison their minds against our country and I want them pay proper respect to our military and our veterans.

I firmly believe that with the right illustration one cannot help but gain a certain amount of respect for those who have sacrificed in either their lives, their health, and in years of service. Reading of it in a history book will not suffice.  One needs the visceral nature of the event.

Now, here you may roll your eyes but hear me out.

Years ago there was a game, Call of Duty.  The game developers (Infinity Ward) made it a huge point to talk to veterans, scrutinize photographs, watch video footage, and I cannot remember if some actually visited the sites of historic battles.

But the thing is, so much of Band of Brothers looked as if I had been there before.  Now, I am not in any way shape or form drawing equivalency between a first-person shooter and the real war, nor can a movie do it, but I am saying that the game captured enough to have your adrenaline racing.  It was damn hard to make it up the beach at Normandy, you died over and over and over again.  The wire, the bunkers and trenches, the fields beyond, and the guns blazing non-stop.  It was pretty intense.  And so help me, there was an added bit of adrenaline watching as Market Garden went sideways.  There were parts of BoB where my inner self has been screaming “Danger!  Danger!  You guys, there’s bad guys up on that roof!  There are guns downstairs in that building over there!  There’s a sniper over yonder!”  In the game you’re getting shot at, guys are dying all around you, and you still have no idea where the krauts are shooting you from.

Believe it or not, a game can make you respect your soldiers more, because dammit, what they endured was hundreds of thousands of times worse.  In the game you aren’t tired, you aren’t cold, you aren’t hurt, you don’t have crappy food, you don’t have some idiot asshole giving orders that make no sense at all.  What you do get in the game is a visual and visceral feel for what it might have looked like, and it did not look pretty, even as inadequate as it was.  That game didn’t feel like they were trying to make WWII like a level from Doom II where you get a BFG-9000 later on.  You had two weapons.  That was it, and lone-wolfing it didn’t work so very well.  And you died if you got hit.

This time around I’m paying more attention to BoB even though the DVD’s don’t have Closed Captions – Cruel Wife is my interpreter at times.

I am therefore not blogging much for the next few nights and haven’t for the last two.  I trust you’ll understand why, even if I can’t exactly explain in words my internalized metaphor that embodies all the reasons why I am compelled to try to understand that section of history a bit more.  I’m sure I’m not at all alone in that, however.

Update:  We just finished up Bastogne.  Beautiful:

We didn’t need to be “rescued” – 101st Airborne

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It’s been a rotten few days in the news. If that statement makes no sense then just run right out and look up “Aurora” on your favorite news aggregator site.

So let’s go somewhere else, shall we?

What is the most perfect way to defuse the world? Why, a pug-mug t-shirt, of course!

There. Don’t you feel just a bit better?

****

If you missed this fellow then you are in for a treat. This is how people can non-verbally say “I am a broken toy”:

Yes, those are permanently attached. Yes, he’s in the news because some employees at a McD’s in Paris were stuck in their teens and decided to kick the crap out of him.

Yes, they beat him up even:

After Mann presented the employee with a doctor’s note he carries with him that states he needs to wear his headgear…

What kind of doctor, exactly? A psychiatrist?

What the guy needs is a little less validation in the “craves attention” department and a little more supervision in the “requires medication” department.

Seriously, I could not make this up if I tried

Mann then tried to calm Perpetrator 1 and showed him his doctor’s note, which the employee showed to two coworkers, whom Mann nicknames Perpetrators 2 and 3. After Perpetrator 2 crumpled up his doctor’s note and Perpetrator 1 tore up some other documentation he provided, Perpetrator 1 then allegedly pushed him out the door and onto the street, damaging his gear.

“My Glass started acting a little erratic but I could still see to some degree, but with crosshatches and kind of a freeze-frame like motion as the Eye Glass stopped and started intermittently,” Mann said. The alleged assault apparently loosened a ribbon cable within the device, causing the eye piece to malfunction and flood Mann’s eye with laser light.

However, the device was still functioning until Mann had an embarrassing bodily reaction upon hitting the street, which caused his circuits to short out.

“The actual cause of the final stoppage (which happened shortly after he pushed me out the door) is a bit embarrassing as what happened also is that I had had to really use the toilet, at the time, and it was that I’d been going toward using the toilet but got attacked, so as a result, later, it turned out that my pants became the toilet,” he said.

“My pants became the toilet”. (It was there that I just blinked three times – long slow numb-brained blinks.)

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Cruel Wife and I celebrated 17 years of marital bliss today. Seventeen calendar years, forty-five years subjectively.

Now, before you form an opinion about my insensitivity and gather up pitchforks, tar, feathers, and torches of all shapes and sizes, let me describe the anniversary card she got me.

Two asses (the beasts of burden kind) on the front of the black-and-white card are standing in a field in the shade of a tree. One says “How many years has it been?” and the other one says “Seems like FOREVER!”

Inside, the card says “It doesn’t matter, your ass is still mine!”

Whereupon she added “Your ass, your dogs, and your bats in the attic – all mine.” The second in the list refers to my remarks that “my canines are vocalizing”.

It’s all a matter of perception. She sees herself as owning me forever and I see forty-fi… uh… seventeen years of incarcer… uh… marital bliss.

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I would have posted another pic but I threw it towards Aggie Sith and she wants to use it. It has some words that shocked my tender sensibilities – such coarse and vulgar language – so I’m fine with letting her post it. That said, it exactly illustrates the withering scorn I have for people who can’t be bothered to look words up or learn the rules.

Dammit, if Aggie Sith can pick up English as a second language and speak it better than I can then people dam well aught too be able to (a) stick with words they know, (b) recognize which words they know halve homonyms, and (SEE) learn knew words awl the thyme. I don’t think that is two much to ask. I mean, Aggie uses words like oubliette, insouciance, and soirees. Granted, those are all French in origin, but she uses them in the right context when writing in what is for her a secondary language. I’m impressed as hell.

While we’re on the topic of words we may or may not know – quickly, without looking it up, define “contemn”. Did you know the definition? I’m currently reading Swiss Family Robinson to my daughter, Lemurita, and ran across the word. Believe it or not, I found the bottom corner of the page creased/folded from the first time I read it when I was ten. Even then I had that nasty habit of tabbing a page when I found a word I didn’t know and wanted to look up later. I guess the definition didn’t stick with me, but how often do you hear it used at a party or on the radio?

I would like to make a comment about the book – even at the age of ten I knew that having all that shit down and being on the ball was just so much utter bullshit, plus having everything go off so well without a hitch, but I’m having fun challenging her with a more archaic usage of the language and I can tell it is keeping her on her toes. I asked her if she wanted to keep going with the story and she nodded earnestly while she said “Oh, YES!”

Back to command of the English language…

The inability to properly write is especially troublesome when it comes from writers, supposed English majors, who should know better. But, they let spell-checkers do the heavy lifting and don’t bother after that to check the other things that are hallmarks of the mastery of the english language. Just as I expect optics folks to understand dispersion, diffraction, and wave equations, I also expect English majors to know how to write. Before you heap scorn upon my writing here, let me say that I see blogging as a different beast than that which is farmed out by a reporter because as a blogger you get to make it up as you go – you are allowed to wax metaphorical, contrive colloquialisms, and smith words to your hearts content. Reporters need to be factual and to dot their t’s and cross their i’s, so to speak.

Just keep an eye on H&B, as I think she was going to use that graphic there. You’ll know the pic when she posts it.

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From the “I think my brain became the toilet” files.  

At least 21 treated for burns after trying to walk on coals at Tony Robbins event

It was a motivational speaker event.  Now I ask you:

So you walked on coals.  What does it prove?

You could have the rosiest can-do “No ‘I’ in Team” “I’m a winner” kind of attitude and if you don’t use the proper technique, you’re gonna get burned.

In the article:

The San Jose Mercury News reports that at least three people went to a hospital and most suffered second- or third-degree burns.

Jonathan Correll, 25, told the paper that he heard “screams of agony.”

“It was people seriously hurting, like they were being tortured,” he told the paper. “First one person, then a couple minutes later another one, and there was just a line of people walking on that fire. It was just bizarre, man.”

This isn’t an exercise in tapping the power within.  This is proving that you have no spine and are pliable human clay.

Let’s dissect that.  Most suffered second or third-degree burns.  Really?  Did this prove anything about having more power within?  Screams of agony.  More than one scream?  It takes more than one to shut the whole thing down?  First one person, then a couple minutes later another one… That’s either one hell of a motivational speaker or there are some amazing examples of sheeple out there.  A line of people walking on that fire.  A line.  Twenty one people is a conga line of people, all waiting to get charred.

You see souls around you going down in screaming charred agony yet you engage in the exact same behavior.  How very human.

****

Stealing blatantly from Aggie Sith…

As I remarked to her over at Sithy Things… does it not seem odd for a cat to be using a MAC-10?  Wouldn’t an MP-5 be much better suited to their little cat paws? Last thing you want is a cat fumbling a weapon when he freaks out.  To which she replied:

Thus the shots to the TV.

So there you have it.  Cats should NOT be allowed to carry MAC-10’s because of indiscriminate spraying around the house.

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doubleplusundead…

Nice writing there.  A passionate and well argued piece about why gun control is about the most useless tits-on-a-boar thing you could ever hope to achieve.  Well, that wasn’t exactly the argument, but close.  DPUD’s point is that not allowing people to defend themselves is ultimately… cruel.   And it absolutely is cruel.

DPUD was inspired (and rightly so) by a particularly reprehensible op-ed that had the gall to say, among many other galling things:

Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue.  – @d@m G0pn1k

Excuse me?  The train has entirely left the tracks.
Go read DPUD’s most excellent posting.  I’ll link it again here because it deserves it.
And again because it is still more or less a free country and I can.
Yeah, I did half-LEET out the name attached to the quote above.  I don’t like to give it more exposure than it deserves, beyond simple credit.
Here is where I get bogged down.  I read the news about the Aurora thing and the first thing I thought was “Oh God, those poor people”, then “did they catch the bastard?”, “why all those innocent people?”, and lastly “has the list of victims grown?”
Nowhere did I leap up and scream “If only all weapons were illegal, this would never happen!” or “Gosh, I hope no one uses this as an argument to take my right to self-defense away!”
“Guns” were never central in the story in my mind.  People were my first, second, third, and last thoughts.  “Guns” didn’t enter the picture until I read so many reports about calls for more gun laws and how this is the fault of anyone who says the 2nd Amendment and all supporters of it have blood on their hands.  DPUD saw the ridiculous article that was the source of the quote above and responded elegantly and honorably.  Well done.

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The other day Hackerboy (who is six) was on the Wii playing a game that looked suspiciously like the Tour de France in its layout.  Let’s call it the Tour de Frank.

Anyway, he had moved from 100th place in the beginning to 17th place by the end of Stage 5.  I was making dinner and only marginally paying attention but I was following his progress.  He was clearly excited by his progress and I heard him say loudly:

I was BORN for this!

Where he got that, I’ll never know.

****

I’m not addicted to Red Bull™.  I can quit anytime.  I like the taste.  It is a social thing.  I just don’t want to quit.  I’m not hurting anybody.  I only have a few.  Other people?  They have problems.

Beautifully creative use of Red Bull™ long after the body has eliminated it.

I only wish I had come up with that idea.  It’s elegant.  Beautiful.  Cheaper than taking it to the shop.

****

Note:  I’m tired, cranky, and bitchy.  I’m going to rant.  You might skip over this if you are in a “don’t pop my bubble” mood.

As you know, I listen to NPR to follow the saying “Know thine enemy”.

I end up knowing far too much.

Rodriguez moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 7. He says if he could, he would vote.

“To see people that have that privilege and not take it, and because they don’t take it we have people elected that create laws that hurt me, that hurt my family, that hurt our communities. It can get frustrating,” he says.

“I am practically an American without papers, and because of that I don’t have the power to vote,” says Rodriguez. “So, the best thing I can do now is organize those that can, and make them vote for me.”

Yet another ILLEGAL alien is whinging about the raw deal he’s getting just because he hasn’t gone and become a legal entity in the US.  Like it’s the US’s fault that he’s in the situation he’s in.  It’s his family who is at fault.  They didn’t do a “moved to the US”, they did a “snuck into the country illegally and decided to stay”.

At the end of the evening, Somos America President Daniel Rodriguez took to the podium.

“Raise your hand,” he said in Spanish, “if you know someone who’s not here but needs this information. Raise your hand if you know someone who’s been deported. Raise your hand if you know someone who has the power to vote.”

Across the room, hands shot up at each statement.

“Every question, almost everyone raised their hands, and that just goes to show you that there’s a lot of people that know the pain and the hurt of being deported or having to know someone that was deported,” Rodriguez recounted.

Rodriguez told the crowd of mostly ineligible voters that they need to use that pain and turn it into power by tapping friends and family who can vote.

The pain and hurt of being deported or having to know someone that was deported… I have friends from Germany that were here LEGALLY and they had to go back home.  So a large number of hispanics here illegally feel like they are owed the right to break the law and be given a free pass?  Well, they certainly won’t be disabused of that notion by our Marxist president and the liberal media.

****

Today I heard another thing on NPR.

One of the reporters was interviewing a lady from Yemen.

Turns out a lot of Yemenis hate the US and distrust us.

WHOA!  OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!  This turns my world UPSIDE DOWN!  Yemenis somewhere in the world hate us.  Oh.  My.  God.

She said it as if we were suddenly going to have to sit up straight and pay attention.  So what?  Big deal.  Let’s have a head count – the number of Yemenis who have been terrorists who have attempted to kill, want to kill, or have killed – innocent civilians.  Ok.  Now let’s take a head count of the number of US terrorists who have the same aspirations to kill Yemenis.  Yeah, there’s a huge network of people organizing to do just that.  Uh-huh.  Sure.

Next, the reporter made mention of either $150 or $170 million dollars being spent on aid programs in Yemen – building things, infrastructure, etc.  He asked her if that is helping the US’s image in Yemen.

Guess what?

Her response was essentially that no, it does nothing because Yemenis see how much we spend on military involvement in Yemen – troops, equipment, training – and see that it is far more.  They also believe that most of that money goes to corrupt individuals in their government.

A corrupt government is a symptom of a corrupt society (the US is not an exception).  But why is the US implicitly to blame for their corruption?  Why do Yemenis still take money from the US?

And better yet, why do we spend money on a country that hates and distrusts us when it does no good and is going to corrupt individuals?  We do it so we can function covertly and overtly in their country.  Let’s not couch it in terms of “aid”, m’kay?  And Yemen – if it is such a distasteful thing, stop claiming the high road while holding out the hands for money.  Clean your house of corruption while you are at it.

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Today I took my bottle of Blair’s Mega-Death Sauce to work.

If you’re just stumbling in, BMDS is a sauce I bought while passing through Hell, Michigan?

Heat.

How to describe it? Well, take a smoky pepper, one with hints of fruit from the habanero, add in the brightness of a jalapeno, add some salt, swirl it around some vinegar for tartness’ sake, and then add the crushed souls of harp seals and rhesus monkeys… and napalm.

Is it as hot as a bhut jolokia? Not. Even. Close. But it is zippy.

Only two co-workers had the testicular fortitude to try some today – Rectified Diode and The Dude.

Diode did really well and identified some of the flavors but then stumbled – stumbled hard – when he licked his lips. The burning sensation on the lips is a force that one must take seriously. He took his leave rather suddenly to go find some pop in the lunchroom. I cannot mock him for his response – it’s a powerful burn to the lips. Hey, he was one of two to even try it.

Next came The Dude. He and I regularly eat thai food, vietnamese, and korean food and always loaded with chilies, and we have roughly the same tolerance. He also recognized the flavors and appreciated the smokiness. It was his opinion that it’d go great in some guacamole or perhaps a bowl of chili. I concur.

Then the evening got interesting.

I went into the boss’ office with the bottle and a coffee-stirrer. I said “Squatting Bear, only two people – Diode and The Dude – had the balls to even try this. No one else had any guts whatsoever. So I figured I’d give you a chance.”

In guy-speak this is as good as calling a guy a p*ssy in advance if he refuses to try it, or basically the equivalent strength of the dreaded Triple-Dog-Dare.

Note: For reasons we will not go into I gave my boss that nickname years and years ago. Yes, he is aware of it. No, I do not call him by it.

He had to try it, he had no choice, really, and I am a soulless bastard for manipulating him so cruelly.

I pulled the coffee-stirrer straw out of my pocket and unscrewed the lid, placing it directly between us. Then I arched an eyebrow Spock-style and non-verbally dared him to do it.

He looked at me, dipped the stirrer and stared at it. I think the part of the label that says “Not to be consumed directly, dilute in food” might have spooked him a bit.

I sighed and tipped the bottle and coated my index finger with it and smeared it all around my tongue and showed him my spotless finger. I told him he could just touch the straw with his tongue as there was a decent amount on the straw. He rebelled against the very idea because I had bound him with a socially-binding contract – he’d been backed into the Triple-Dog-Dare corner even though I never actually had to utter those words.

He touched it to his tongue and started getting that “Oh no” look.

With gusto I took the stirrer from his trembling hand and licked every last bit off the stirrer and said “MMMMM-mmm, damn that’s good. That’s some serious gour-MAY sh*t there, boss.”

He grimaced and said “It just hit my throat.”

I said “Yes, I’m a bastard.”

Here he made pantomiming motions that should absolutely be interpreted as “Blood from The Alien splashed into my open mouth and just burned through my lower jaw and then splattered the ground”. He pulled it together and said “I am not much of a spicy food eater.”

“Never too late to start, SB! Have a great evening!”

In retrospect I probably should have weighed more carefully the possibility that he could fire me at any moment but it sure seemed like a fun idea at the time.

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Spare Change.

I took a number of days off last week because, honestly, in amongst all my excessively intense and rambling posts, I was kind of mentally tired.  Yes.  From work.

The 4th of July has a couple of posts dedicated to it but here’s another.

We came, we saw, we roasted (Veni, vidi, crispi – or something in that vein).

I am a creature of simple needs at times and the 4th was no exception.  As we passed the area where people could park to watch the fireworks and I saw a food booth with two of my favorite words on it.  Corn. Dogs.

What’s not to love?  You’re either looking at lips-n-assholes in breading or chicken-lips-n-assholes with breading and deep-fried.  I put it to the children thusly:  Hot dogs are yummy but at best they are mouth and ass parts of some animal with lots of fat and connective tissue thrown in for that extra animal-ey goodness flavor enhancement.

In the Northwest two things you could always find at a corner gas station were corn dogs and jo-jos.  I’m told that’s regional, so to save time a jo-jo is not a cheap hooker it is potato wedges battered and fried.

So I do not get my regular allowance of corn-dogs.  I purposefully skipped meals in order to look forward to the moment that I could slather one with mustard and wolf it down in steaming mouth-burning gulps.

At the booth we ordered three corn dogs and four lemonades.  We get our lemonades and since it was 94 degrees at 9:00pm and muggy as hell we all sucked down a bunch at once.  Before the other two dogs were distributed I had already unwrapped mine, licked it once to lay claim on it, and headed towards the mustard.

I could have sworn I heard the gal ask for a large sum of money for our sweetened drinks and fried animal parts but I was swept up in the intense feelings of the moment.  Only thing better is a good Reuben.

I was on my fourth and last bite and my brain, being a parallel but asynchronous construct, suddenly processed the damage report for our four sweetened drinks and three animals on a stick.

Thirty-five dollars.  $35.  3500¢.  Roughly 2000 Rupees. €28.50 (don’t get too caught up in the Euro, it may not last forever, eh?).  руб 1153.

It’s not a HUGE sum of money.  We could have afforded it.  But it was the principle.  We could have gone out for a decent meal for that price.

For the rest of the night… long… slow… burn.

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I was very fuzzy and while I hadn’t quite figured out what was going on I knew I was in a heap of trouble.

I sat slouched in a chair with the officer to my right and sort of behind me.  We were in a cube-aisle with windows like any business that places no value on their employees as humans yet wants their plants to look good to show that the place is a thriving business.

Glass was everywhere and my motorcycle lay partially buried in a mangled mass of cheap chairs and cube dividers.  There was a long stripe of shredded tire leading up to the building where my attempts to stop failed so miserably.  The sun was rising and broken safety glass glittered like the sea.

So much glass…

The officer that was in charge of me was talking but I was still confused enough that I wasn’t catching much.

God he sounds effeminate.

My head cleared a bit more but I wasn’t tracking him well yet.

… you really shouldn’t mix… motor vehicle… just as bad… test impairment…

I am in trouble.  Yeah, that’s a guy all right, but he’s got a deep voice that is so very effeminate.  Every statement sounds like a question with that inflection.  That’s really pretty disturbing.  What in HELL did I do?

I noticed a crushed magnetic paperclip dispenser.  Twisted paperclips were ground into the carpet.

I am going to have to administer a test now, do you understand?  You’ve mixed painkillers with other drugs and alcohol.  You are in a lot of trouble.

I could only just see him peripherally.  He was in terrible shape and his dark blue uniform only reinforced a pear-shaped physique.

What he looks like doesn’t matter.  I really screwed up.

Now embarrassment over what looked like a very bad choice on my part started to wash over me and I tried to keep from being swamped by it.

What is my wife going to say?  How am I going to face Lemurita and Hacker-boy?

 Ok, I’ll put an A here… maybe an X over here… a C here… silly billy… an R there?  No, that’s not right… a J there… yes.  Oh yes, this will be hard…

I turned full on to the officer now and saw that he was building an improvised Word Jumble out of letters he was pulling out of thin air and knew that he was going to test me with it.

Oh God, I’m being tested by Brad Loekle from The Smoking Gun.

And that is when I woke up in a pile of twisted sweaty sheets, panting and feeling nauseous.

As God is my witness, that nightmare woke me up on July 4th.

****

The other night Cruel Wife and I were making a mid-movie snack while watching Harry Potter (Half-Blood Prince).  She nuked some refried beans for my chips and salsa because I had burned the diddly-fork out of my thumb.

“Could you stir them and then put them on for two more minutes?  I’ll cheese them and finish them up when they’re done.”

I said “Okay, but I want to use a number like 1:37, not 2:00.  Three primes, non-sequential.”

“Just put 2:00 on there.”

“No, I can’t do that.”

“Yes you can.  Just put two minutes on there and hit start.  You can overcome your obsession long enough to put time on a microwave.”

“It’s not an obsession.”

“It is.”

“No, it’s not.  It’s a choice.  It’s a lifestyle preference.  I just prefer prime numbers.  Certain numbers are more appealing.”

“That’s an obsession.  For seventeen, no eighteen years that I’ve known you, you refuse to set your alarm clock to even numbers or multiples of five.”

“Don’t forget ‘preferably prime numbers not sequential in ascending or descending order or repeat digits.'”

“That’s an obsession!”

“Are you just screwing with me?  You said seventeen earlier which was a good number.  Then did you purposely change it to eighteen to make it an even number and mess with me?  Seventeen is a nice prime number.  Eighteen is factorable multiple ways.”

“THAT IS AN OBSESSION!”

“Not.”

“Ok, a mania!”

“Not.  Mania implies excitable.  I’m not excitable.  I’m methodical and calm about it.”

“Mania doesn’t mean excitable.  I’m going to check it out.”

“Oh, out comes the iPad.  You talk to me about obsession?  Look at you with the iPad.  ‘Oh I don’t know which cupholder to use, I’ll check the I-PAD!”

“Mmmm-hmm.  THERE.  MAY-NEEE-AAH – ‘an excessive and intense interest in or enthusiasm for something’.  You can have mania without excitability.”

“I don’t have a problem… YOU have a problem.  Okay – split the difference.  I put 1:37 on the timer, you add 23 seconds more when  it is done.”

(walking away) “maniaaaaa… obsession…”

“It’s NOT an obsession and that’s not the right definition for mania!  Let’s just watch the damn movie.”

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Yesterday I went to help set up a big shoot – 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8″ shells for a commercial shoot.  We got the kids moving finally – blankets, toys, sunscreen, extra clothing, bug repellant, Red Bull™…

Drove an hour away to get to the shoot, stopped at Taco Bell™ for the kids’ first feeding at the Bell.  Why?  Because it is cheaper than food.

We navigated through the city – dead like a ghost town – 100 degrees with high humidity.  The fields were brown and the hillside fountain was turned off and even had little deltas of dust in the bottom. No one was in the park.  Not one soul.

We drove up to the gate to let ourselves in and saw a padlock across the gate.  Looking up the hill there were no trucks, none of the crew was setting up.

Cruel Wife pulled out her iPad™ and discovered that the shoot had been on July 3, not the 4th.

The truth is, I was dreading hours and hours of work in 100 degree high-humidity mid-day sun.  It was kind of a relief and I couldn’t have gotten Tuesday off even if I had known it.

So we found another fireworks show that would be held in Gregory.  The best way to get to Gregory is to go to Hell, hang right and stay the course.  We drove up from the south and turned on to Darwin, which leads to Hell.

Then we found ourselves in Hell soon enough.  I have ridden through hell on my bicycle twice for 100-mile (century) bike rides and the route planners had good intentions but the paved roads to hell are smooth as glass in some areas and a killer in other.  Driving it wasn’t so bad.  We stopped and had ice cream in Hell.  Cruel Wife, Lemurita, and Hacker-boy had ice cream.  I had pork rinds and iced tea.  And tried out some hot sauce.

It didn’t make my teeth bleed but it was zippy.  A number of people held their breath while I tried it.

We checked out Gregory and figured out where the show would be and where we could park and then drove home for a few hours worth of rest – it was 100 degrees still and still high humidity so just being outside was less than fun.

I will also add that sparklers are very very hot.  Did you know that they are burning 1000C or more?  My thumb knows that now.  I was lighting Hacker-boy’s sparker, the one that died out halfway using a cigarette lighter.  The flames and sparks shot forward and kissed my thumb from the knuckle to the end of my thumb.  I couldn’t find the hose in the dark and I had one kid, two kids, Cruel Wife in the way as I headed towards the kitchen faucet in the house.  CW got in the way and I just said “MOVE.”

So I spent a lot of last night wishing I could chop that thumb off.  Feels all taut-skinned and deadened right now and hot things are really uncomfortable.  Thank God for WaterJel and ice cubes.

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I’m sitting very still lately, quietly pondering at the logic that persistently continues to not exist.

NPR on Thursday was something I could barely stomach, but I listened anyway.  Normally I just get really irritated at them for being biased yet self-proclaimed as unbiased (just like most liberals think they are moderates).  But on Thursday it was the equivalent of being seasick on a ship pitching violently to and fro while eating warm three-day-old sushi with bad mayo.  Renee Montagne had a guest, Julie Rovner, NPR’s “health policy correspondent”.  Rovner said:

So, basically what really, Chief Justice Roberts got the four liberal justices to go along with him, saying is that this expansion is so large – it’s going to be another 17 million people, granted on a program that has about 50 million people on it – but this is so large that you can’t say to the states, if you don’t do the expansion we’re going to take away all the rest of your Medicaid money. So it’s basically made the expansion voluntary.

On the other hand, you know, this expansion comes with so much federal money. The federal government is paying 100 percent of it for the first few years. When it’s completely in place, they’re still going to be paying 90 percent of it. So I would think that the vast majority of states are going to take it. Some states have actually already started – they’ve started early. It doesn’t begin until 2014.

But it was a, you know, a big federalism issue. And there may be some issues about this could have ramifications down the road for things other than Medicaid; does this limit the federal government’s power to say what happens with federal dollars. I’m going to leave that to people more expert than I to determine if this will have ramifications beyond just this.

I’ve been accused of not suffering fools lightly more than once and this was affirmed by a good friend only today.  Apparently now I need to not-suffer a great many fools at one time.  An extraordinary number of them.  The fools are legion and they are powerfully rank.

This expansion comes with so much FEDERAL money.  The federal government is paying 100% of it…

Note:  Emphasis was mine.

Here is the kicker… that money still comes from the same place, dammit!  If you can’t afford it on the state level, you can’t very goddamned well afford it on the federal level.  It makes no sense to feed at a trough and consider it “largesse from the government” if you are paying the government in the first place.

It’s like saying “Gosh, we don’t have enough money to fill up the gas tank.  How about we loan ourselves some cash so we can?”

This is a variant of the ignorant logic that drives people to spend more on their credit card because they get 4% cash back, and with that extra money they figure they can now afford to buy more crap.

Wow guys!  With all the money I’ve “saved” I have a lot more to spend on myself!  Life just got more affordable!  (Sounds of squealing and self-hugging with glee…)

Please, could someone spare a cup of brains?  Apparently there’s a dearth of them, so those blessed with more of them will have to give part of them up so the rest of the people out there won’t have to figure things out for themselves.

[Chief Justice] Roberts said one thing I agree with.

Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.

No, it is not their job.  They can decide on the legality or Constitutionality of a law but if they find a law is technically acceptable yet stupid, it’s not their job to fix stupid.  It is the People’s job to fix stupid by voting out stupidity and voting in intelligence.

To ask the court to fix stupid is to ask them to legislate, to engage in judicial activism.

Free money anyone?  All of us can now afford to go to a five-star restaurant because of the extra riches that the government has bestowed upon us.  Look at what they are saving us.  Our savior, the Fed, would truly do anything for our grateful votes, wouldn’t they?

****

From the Guaranteed to Piss Someone Off files…

I wondered yesterday at the Food Stamp program.  I am given to understand that it has doubled in size since Obama started and that may or may not be hardboiled fact.  If it is true, it should concern those who actually pay taxes since the government seems to be actively recruiting more people to fill the rolls by inviting them to do so (as well as tanking any possible recovery with crappy economic policy).

I do feel that the intent behind SNAP is a noble cause – no one should have to starve – and we can argue whether it is more wrong to run a program that isn’t constitutionally sound or whether it is more wrong to let people starve, but let’s assume that we’re going to feed folks regardless.

The idea is to not let people starve.  Yet at the same time, should assistance ever be something one is comfortable with?  Well, there are some people who hate being on assistance, and I applaud them for not using that as their first option.  But there are some who see no real reason to try any means necessary to avoid that situation.

How about this:  After some amount of time on food stamps you are then given the option of going off assistance – OR – eating freeze-dried Nutriloaf™ for your three squares a day.  Heartlessness shouldn’t be part of the equation so throw in $10 a week to buy whatever condiments you need to make it at least palatable.  But by damn, there’s no reason why you should be able to buy anydamnthing you want on someone else’s dime for an unlimited amount of time.  That assistance should be to keep you from starving, but you should be self-motivated to go off of it as soon as possible.  And, the black market value for Nutriloaf™ chits should be worth exactly nothing.

One could argue that such a food arrangement would lead to higher crime in an attempt to find other pleasurable food alternatives.  Perhaps, but starvation also leads to a high crime rate as well.  Making food stamps transferable by nature and capable of being bought and sold amongst third parties certainly leads to crime.

Cruel?  No.  Tough love.  Inhumane?  No.  It couldn’t be, you’re keeping people from starving.  It isn’t going to be enjoyable but it beats having nothing to eat.  Given the proper motivation most people can come up with a (ahem) more palatable arrangement, and most likely with more accountability than the government can provide.  If you get your assistance from someone who knows you, who is paying out of their own pocket instead of the source being that “free money” from Uncle Sam, then at some point they are going to decide whether you’re really in trouble or whether you should be making different life-choices.

For vegetarians, use Tofudoloaf™, and vegans can damn well sort themselves out because the rest of us are kind of tired of their self-righteous BS.

Note:  Surely you can recognize partial satire when you read it?  That was it.  The desire to weed out those who game the system is real, the idea to make food nutritious, capable of sustaining life, yet totally joyless is only partially real.  The rest is pure satire.

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