Friday, October 31, 2008

Call me crazy

[We supercede our regularly-scheduled Friday Rocks! to present this Very Important Message.]

No, really. Go ahead, call me crazy. DO IT! Because I'm planning to do something I have no sane reason to even consider.

I'm talking NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Fifty-thousand words in thirty days of forced-march writing. For someone who hasn't written anything resembling fiction in over 30 years*, that's a tall order.

I've been toying around with the idea since I first heard of it last Dec., just after the 2007 NaNoWriMo ended. I got really wound up about it but figured I had a whole year to get over it. I mentioned it here a couple of months ago, just to see what it felt like to say it out loud. I was pretty sure that by the time October rolled around, the Shiny! would have faded and I would have been distracted by something else.

No luck. I may really do this thing.

And that makes me officially crazy. To meet the goal, I'll have to write an average of 1667 words/day. My longest post to date (excluding my throat-clearing exercises here and here) is just about 1000 words, and even that, thanks to my attention span, took a couple of days to shit craft. Hell, my word count for the entire first year of this blog was only about 60,000. And I dare to think I can spew 83.3% of that in fiction form in a month?

Sure! Why the hell not? No one said it had to be good, or even intelligible. No one else ever has to see it. I've even been preparing, kind of: I was overcome by an unprecedented surge of inspiration a month or so ago and drafted the barest outline of a possible story. I worked on it for a week or two and haven't touched it since, but I think about it almost every day. I've read the official guide, and have even been lurking on the NaNoWriMo forums.

I've also set up a FirstGiving page. See, I'm planning on donating to The Office of Letters and Light**, the non-profit responsible for the whole NaNoWriMo thing, a penny for every ten words on my official word count, which will be updated daily (more or less) over there on the left. I'll probably make my donations at the end of each week. If I meet the 50K minimum, that's a minimum $50 contribution. So yeah, I'll be stressing myself out for a month and paying for the privilege. Can it get any better than that?

Hey, wanna sponsor me***? Meet (or beat) my contribution, or even contribute one dollar, and I'll... send you my eternal thanks. Or something. I'll think of something, I promise.

So how will this latest manifestation of Shiny! affect this blog, Dear Reader? It means that November posts may be heavy on the ranting and whining about my "novel". But I still think it will be a grand adventure. A grand adventure most likely resulting in an epic fail, but that could be spectacular, too.

So pull a lawn chair up to the curb, hold my beer, and watch this!

* Bless Mr. Johnson and Mr. Urbane and their struggles to teach us teen-aged Hoosiers the most rudimentary creative writing skilz.

** Isn't that the coolest name ever?!?

*** Evil Twin already has. The gauntlet has been thrown down!
 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Epic FAIL

So when I was 29, I was married and had a kid. I started freaking out about the Big Three-Oh. I was getting OLD! I hadn't GOTTEN anywhere in life! I hadn't finished my DEGREE! And that was a Big Hairy DEAL! I'd managed to finish one year of college right of high school, dropped out before the end of my third semester, and had been hacking away at it piecemeal ever since, one community college course at a time. I had more schools on my transcript than Sarah Palin, fer chrissakes.

Fuck it. I decided I was going back to school full-time to get those last two years out of the way and get my DEGREE. Because then I would have ACCOMPLISHED something.

Hey, at the time it seemed like a big deal.

So I did. I applied and FAFSA-ed and transcripted and I went back to school full-time the next Fall. I started out in computer science, since I liked computers and already did computer-y things for a living, but it didn't take me long to realize that what I really liked was math. Gloriously-abstract-deliciously-above-anything-practical math. And apparently math liked me back. I did well and felt like I was finally doing GREAT THINGS with my life.

I did well enough that I was encouraged to apply for grad school. And of course, if you're going to grad school in math, you want to go into pure math; not the mundane, ordinary, common applied math. (Even if you really liked applied math.)

So I applied and interviewed and GRE-ed and FAFSA-ed and was, miracle of miracles, accepted in the pure math program -- with an assistantship! -- at a Good Private University. Wasn't I the shit?

The term started. I met my classmates and was a little dismayed. I think I was the oldest one (at the ripe age of 31). I wasn't the only married one but I was the only one with a child. I definitely was the only one married to a currently deploying active duty military member, and the only one commuting 45 minutes each way. Hmmm... one of these things is not like the others...

Doubts about my abilities aside, the immediate problem was that I already had a life. One that I couldn't give up for a math-centric lifestyle, no matter how shiny.

The professors, bless their hearts, went about the business of making sure that the STUDENTS paid their DUES, as had the generations of TAs before. But I didn't have a lot of patience for dues-paying. I had shit to do. The tension between the married-with-family life I had and the grad-student lifestyle I was supposed to have escalated. I wanted this so bad, why wasn't it WORKING?

Finally, my MOMENT OF CLARITY came in my first class in Measure Theory*. I had no notion of what in the holy hell Measure Theory was. I opened the deceptively slim, yet somehow outrageously expensive red volume in front of me, frantically seeking some context. I flipped past the title page, searching for the introductory material; you know, the part where the author explains what branch of mathematics this area of study sprang from, major discoveries in the field, blah, blah,blah. Nope. Nothing. The very first words in that book are forever burned into my brain:

Let S be a space.

OK, ok, I know. Anyone who's sat through any sort of abstract math class knows this is just your standard 'define your terms' kind of thing. No big, right? Unfortunately, at that moment, it was big. That one bald, 'keep up, you poser, or go home' declaration somehow severed the last tenuous connection between the math I knew and understood and the huge, scary, wasteland of math OUT THERE that was beyond any hope of comprehension. By me, at least.

I knew I was well and truly fucked.

It took awhile for me to come to grips with the fact that I had failed. I couldn't do this. I had to drop out. Total elapsed time = One month.

As weird as it sounds, I had never failed at anything before. Up to that point in my young life, I had either quit or conquered everything I had put my mind to. I had never failed.

At that moment I became a mere mortal, with limits. I guess that's called growing up, huh?

* Ah, Wikipedia, where were you in 1991??
 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today's Quote

Scene: Breakfast time, weekday morning. Mr. B has joined us, which is not typical on a school day. Young Son is eating his customary Eggo waffle.
Young Son: Yay, Mr B is here!

(chew chew chew...)

(pause...)


Why is Mr B here?

I absolutely lost it. At that moment, it was the funniest goddamned thing I had ever heard.
 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

3 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karl rolled over on his belly and extended his leg as far as he possibly could. He managed to just barely catch the edge of the door with his foot to shove it closed with a satisfying bang. Quincy and Chloe had been crabbing at each other ever since Mom told them to 'Get upstairs and get the crap off their bedroom floor right this minute!' and he was sick of hearing them.

Mom had told him to do the same, but he figured he had another few minutes to build Bionicles before she yelled up to make sure he was cleaning. He usually got a couple of warnings before the hammer fell and he would really have to get to work. Mom usually didn't make a big deal about the messes in their bedrooms, but she wanted to paint the walls in both rooms next weekend so they had to pick everything up.

Karl looked up from the really awesome creature taking shape in his hands and glanced around the room. Yeah, there was a lot of stuff, but he could probably shove it into the bins and under the bed and be done pretty quickly. Just a few more minutes and he'd get started....

"Kaaarrrl!"

He suddenly realized that was Mom's 'I'm Really Aggravated' yell. Oh crap! It was so hard to hear when his door was shut, and she got really mad if she had to yell more than once and he didn't answer.

"Karl! Please don't make me come up there, answer me! Are you cleaning up?"

Karl dropped his most awesome creature, jumped up, threw open the door, and yelled "Yeah, Mom! I'm doing it, I swear!"

He listened for a moment, hoping with all his heart that he wouldn't hear her feet on the stairs. If he got busted for playing instead of picking up, he wouldn't get any Wii time after dinner. Whew! It sounded like he was safe.

One nice thing about Mom yelling was that Quincy and Chloe finally shut up. Chloe had been a real pain in the butt ever since she got her learner's permit last week and Quincy couldn't stand it. They had been really rotten last weekend at Grandma's - Chloe acting like she thought she was all grown up, and Quincy doing mean stuff, like when she put a hair on Chloe's dessert when Quincy wasn't looking. Karl chuckled at the memory. That had been awesome! The look on Chloe's face was perfect.

Oh well, back to work before Mom came to check. Karl sighed as he turned around to survey the task ahead. As long as there was a lot of rug showing, Mom was usually pretty happy. He grabbed the pile of books on the floor next to his bed and shoved them into the already-full bookshelf. He scooped up a bunch of the Bionicle parts and Legos strewn across the floor and threw them into the bin. Hey, wait! There is that other red foot. Sweet! He bent over and plucked it out, only to see a mask and a couple of other parts that would look really good on his creature. He plopped down next to the bin and started digging, adding odds and ends to the pile slowly growing on the floor next to him. This is going to be amazing!

"C'mon, Karl! I really need you to get this done before dinner!"

Karl whipped his head around to see Mom standing in the door. Crap! He missed the sound of her coming up the stairs. He was so busted. He could tell she was trying really hard not to unload on him, too. Oh man, he'd really pushed his luck this time. He jumped to his feet, dropping the parts in his hands.

Mom walked into the room and threw up her hands. "You've been up here half an hour and you haven't even started, have you?" She sighed, exasperated.

Uh-oh. He was really going to have to get busy before she lost it. "Yeah, I did, really! Look, I picked up my books already. See?" He pointed hopefully to the overloaded bookcase, hoping with all his heart that the pile of books and papers he had just shoved in there didn't fall back out while she was standing there. That would be bad.

"Look, Karl. You're nine now and you are certainly old enough to do this without me having to stand here and tell you what to do. Start with the trash, then pick up all the dirty clothes. You know how to do this! If you do one thing at a time, it will go pretty fast. You have to get it done by dinner or there will be no Wii time. Got it?"

"OK. Sorry, Mom." Karl shuffled around the room, picking up all of the socks and shirts and pants. He threw them out into the hall. Then he started grabbing up all the wads of dirty Kleenex. His allergies had been bugging him really bad lately and they were everywhere! He dumped them into the trash, then turned to finding all of his drawings. Hey, there's that cool one I did last week with the Lava Guy and the Wind Guy and the Lightning Guy... I really should have given them different weapons, though. Where's a pencil? There's one! The other papers slipped from his grasp as he dropped to the floor, grabbed a book, and started erasing Lava Guy's shield and Lightning Guy's sword.

Gee, maybe he should finish picking up first.

He dropped the pencil and picked up the papers he dropped. He shoved them into the bookcase, putting his Dragonology book on top to keep them from falling off.
He turned to survey his progress, and... huh. What is that flashing light up in the corner by the door? He moved toward it, squinting, and... Wait! It was numbers! And it was counting! 992, 993, 994... what in the heck is it?!?

His jaw dropped and he backed away slowly, tripping over the blue Bionicle bin in the middle of the floor. 1021, 1022, 1023... OK, this is getting freaky.

He ran into Chloe and Quincy's room, his eyes wide, his heart beating wildly. The girls were sitting on their beds, sorting through piles of crap. They looked up in unison, scowling.

"Ka-aa-rrrrl," Quincy whined, "you know you're not allowed in here without knocking! Go back out and..."

"Wait, wait! This is important, really! Guys, you gotta come see this! There's this light? Up near the ceiling of my room? And it's counting! It's really freaky and I'm kinda scared... oh man, look!" Karl pointed up to the ceiling, the corner near the door. "There it is! There's one here too!"

The girls obviously thought he was trying to play a trick on them, but the fear in his voice seemed real and they couldn't help but look.

"Wait, I see it!" Chloe said, rising from her bed, the stuff in her hands slipping to the floor. "1176, 1177, 1178, 1179... Quincy! Do you see it too?"

"Yeah, and it's scaring me! Moo-ooo-mm!" Quincy leaped up and ran out the door to the top of the stairs. "Mom! You gotta come up, right now! I meeean it!"

Karl couldn't help but think that every single thing that came out of Quincy's mouth sounded like whining. What a pain.

"What?!" Mom's 'Extremely Agitated' voice floated up the stairs. "This had better be really important, Quincy."

"It is, Mom, really! There's this thing on the ceiling and it's really wee-iii-rrd!"

Mom must've believed her because she came racing up the stairs, an alarmed look on her face. The 'Extremely Agitated' voice was gone. "What, honey? What is it? Where is it?"

Chloe pointed at the light. "There! Up by the door, see? And it's counting! 1312, 1313, 1314..."

Mom stared at it for a second then threw her hands up in the air. "GodDAMmit!" she muttered under her breath. "Can't we get a minute's peace?"

Karl was somewhat reassured that Mom didn't freak out and seemed to know what it was, but he was still wary. Whatever it was, it wasn't... normal.

They all just stared at it, even Mom. It was counting, but not regular counting like a stopwatch. It kept stopping and starting, sometimes even backing up. And sometimes it would stop for a really long time, then all of a sudden it would start counting so fast it was a blur.

Karl looked up at Mom. She was transfixed, staring at the glowing green light with a scowl on her face. He tugged at her sleeve. "Mom? What is it? Is it something bad?"

Mom shook her head and looked down at him, absently patting his head. "No, honey, it's just..."

Just then, Karl heard the front door slam and Dad's cheerful "Helloooo, family!"

Mom turned away from Karl and headed out the door to the top of the stairs. "Bob? We're up here. You've got to see this!"

Dad came bounding up the stairs, a big grin on his face. "Hey, what's up? Why is everyone in here? Are we having a slumber party or something?" He kissed Mom on the forehead. "Hi, Sweetie. What's going on?"

Everyone started talking at once, pointed excitedly at the corner, trying to get Dad's attention. Karl noticed that the counting slowed way down. 1572... 1573...

"Hey, hey, hey! Wait a minute, you guys! Let Mom tell me about it."

Dad turned to Mom, his eyes drifting up to the corner by the door. "What is it, honey? Are the big crunchy spiders back? They don't usually come inside until winter." His eyes locked on the light and he squinted, trying to bring it into focus. "What the hell? Is that what I think it is?"

"Yeah," Mom said. "The Writer. She must have the word count feature turned on."

Karl was absolutely baffled. He had no idea what in the heck Mom was talking about. But he was reassured, once again, when he noticed that Dad wasn't freaking out or anything. Dad just stood there like the rest of them, scowling.

Dad shook his head, kind of disgusted, just like Mom had. "Great. Have I told you how much I hate November?" He looked at Mom. "C'mon. You know she won't stop until she hits 2,000. We may as well go downstairs."

Mom sighed and nodded. "Go ahead and wash your hands, guys. Dinner in five minutes."

"But Mo-oo-om," Quincy whined, "what is it?"

"Never mind, honey. I'll explain at dinner. It's no big deal, really." Mom and Dad headed down the stairs, muttering to each other.

Chloe and Quincy ran to hog the upstairs bathroom so Karl headed downstairs to wash.

Dinner was really quiet, too. And nobody wanted to look at the ceiling.

Finally Mom looked around the ceiling and spied the counter thing, over by the back door. 1830, 1831....

She sighed again and looked around the table. "OK, here's the deal. It's November, and there's this thing called NaNoWriMo when tens of thousands of people try to write a 50,000 word story in 30 days. Most of the time, it's no problem at all. Most of the authors are pretty good and you hardly notice them. But every once in awhile," she glowered at the counter, "you get a Writer who isn't very good and they, well, they get in the way."

Karl struggled to understand. "But what's the counter-thingy?"

Dad leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. "To meet the goal, the Writers have to try to write at least 1667 words each day. Sometimes they set the goal a little higher, just in case. My guess is that this noob... I mean new Writer is trying to hit 2,000 words. She must have a word counter in her word processor, that's all. I bet that when she reaches 2000, that'll be the end of it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So that's what 2000 words looks like. Huh.
 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Somehow it's always my fault

Evil Twin sends this cautionary message:

Don't Let This Happen To You!



Be sure to check out this link, too -- the other headlines on the news page are priceless.

Take heart, my friends. In eight days it will all be over. And if something goes awry, you can rest easy knowing that somehow it is all my fault.

(The remarkable thing is that it sounds very much like my Protestant Ancestors. How'd they do that?)
 

Friday, October 24, 2008

Knock on wood

Pull up your white sox and straighten your bowties, my pretties! This Friday we're Rockin' it ska-core-style*.


The Impression That I Get, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Let's Face It

Definitely a Class-A Friday Rocker. I just plain love it. And I >heart< Dicky Barrett's vocals!

Note to ET: Hey, he's from Providence! Think he likes his soggy Wheaties heated up?

* Don't you love Wikipedia? Without Wikipedia, I would have even less of an idea of what the fuck I was talking about.
 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suck on that, beavers!

Goddamn this is funny!



I dunno... much as I hate to say it, the GOP might have the edge here. I think Obama could stand to look a little more fierce.

Gotta run -- I gotta go change my pants.

Apologies to Cary @ LOTD. Dude, I just had to copycat this.
 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sorry

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bob awoke slowly. He pushed back the blankets and stretched a good, long, morning stretch as the chilly air hit him. He rolled over to face Carol. She was still sleeping soundly, a thin string of drool connecting the corner of her slightly open mouth to the pillow below. She looked silly. If she knew I was watching her, she would hate that, he thought. He smiled.

He rolled on his back, noting with pride the morning wood saluting him under the covers. Not bad for an old married dad, he thought proudly. He also realized that his bladder needed immediate attention. He climbed out of bed, wincing slightly as his feet hit the cold floor, and padded, still groggy, to the bathroom.

Attending to the business at hand, his brain and bladder clearing in concert, he gradually realized it was Saturday morning, the kids were gone, and he and Carol were at home alone with nothing planned until they picked up the kids from Grandma's tomorrow after church.

He smiled, more broadly this time.

He grabbed a quick drink of water, hoping to dislodge at least some of the morning funk in his mouth. He paused to admire his physique in the mirror, noting that the time at the gym was starting to pay off. He shuffled quickly back to the bedroom and climbed back into the warm nest of blankets.

Carol roused slightly and cuddled into him to share her warmth, a habit ingrained over their many years together. He brushed back the hair from her forehead and planted a light kiss.

"Hey there."

"Hey yourself."

"How you doin'?"

"Good. Still sleepy, though." She kissed the base of his throat.

"Guess what?"

"Mmmm?"

"It's just us, today. The kids are with Mom. We've got nothing planned. We could stay in bed all day if we wanted...." His post-pee-weakened morning wood perked back up a bit at the thought. Sure, they'd been making love for the better part of twenty years, but it was still a hell of a lot of fun.

"Mmm.... yeah, we could, couldn't we?" Carol slid her leg up and over his hip, snuggling in even closer.

Bob slid his hand down her back, gently rubbing her bum. He scooted down to allow his lips access to her ear and neck.

Carol responded warmly, throwing her head back as he worked his way down her throat.

All of a sudden Bob froze.

Carol lifted her head to look at him, puzzled. "What's wrong, baby?"

"I... dunno." Bob pushed himself into a sitting position, rubbing his head in confusion. "Everything was great, really, and all of a sudden it was like, I don't know, I completely had no idea what I was supposed to do."

Carol propped herself up on one arm and looked at him with concern. "What do you mean, you forgot? C'mon, we've been doing this for 17 years. How could you just forget?" she teased. A horrified look crossed her face. "Oh god -- is it me? Did I do something wrong? Should I go brush my teeth? I'm so sorry, sweetie!"

Bob reached over and absently patted her hand, "Nah, you're fine, really. It's... I don't know if I can even explain it. I just... forgot."

Suddenly, Carol sat up and brought her hands to her mouth in astonishment. "Oh, shit. I think I know what it is," she whispered. "Shit! I can't believe it!" She threw back the covers and jumped out of bed, wincing as her feet hit the cold floor. She stomped across the room and started pacing, glaring at the ceiling. "I can't friggin' believe it! It's November first, right? Fuck. Fuck!"

Although Bob always did appreciate her ability to swear, it was his turn to be concerned. She was really and truly pissed. "Yeah, it's the first... what's wrong, honey? C'mon, you're really scaring me here."

"It's the Writer!" Carol said through clenched teeth, shaking her fist at the ceiling. "NaNoWriMo starts today and we have a goddamned noob Writer who doesn't know shit about writing erotica. GodDAMmit!"

Bob's mouth fell open, the light of comprehension dawning as he looked upward. "Oh man. Oh man!" He got out of bed and walked over to Carol, taking her in his arms. "You've got to be kidding me. What the fuck? I'm sure she's made love before, what in the hell is her problem?

Carol dropped her head to his chest. "I don't know. I just don't know."

She turned away and started pacing again, her clenched fists pounding her thighs with every step. "But whatever the hell her problem is, it really sucks! Here we have this great chance to spend all day in bed fucking each others' brains out," She threw back her head and glared at the ceiling, her voice choked with frustration, "Do you have any idea how hard those are to come by, with three kids?!?" she yelled, warming to her topic, "and this goofball nutcase who, out of the blue, thinks she's going to crank out the next Great American Novel in a month comes along and messes it up."

She slowed to a stop, her wrath fading to disappointment, her eyes welling with tears. She covered her face with her hands and just stood there, quietly sobbing and cursing.

Bob dropped his head, his shoulders slumped, echoing her disappointment. He noted with almost clinical detachment that his prized morning wood was completely gone.

"Crap. I really fucking hate November, you know?" He sighed, walked over to the bed, and sat down heavily. He said mockingly to the ceiling, "All those NaNoWriMo wanna-bees with their fucked-up dreams of glory, thinking that they can learn in a month what Real Writers spend years agonizing over. It just makes me sick." He grabbed a pillow and hurled it at the ceiling. It hit the light fixture and fell impotently to the floor, narrowly missing Carol. She was still sobbing and cursing and didn't even flinch.

Damn, he thought. If the Writer is a complete loser, I might not get laid again until December! He punched the bed in anger but it didn't help.

He took a deep breath, exhaled, scrubbed his hand over his face, and looked up at Carol. "Oh well, there's nothing for it, I guess. Whaddya say we get cleaned up, go for some waffles at the Pancake House, and head over to Lowe's? We could check out paint colors for the girls' room."

Carol choked back the last of her sobs, wiped her eyes and nose on her sleeve and let her hands fall to her side. She regarded Bob with an air of resignation, her face blotchy and damp. "Sure. You want the first shower? I'll go start the coffee."

"Yeah, OK." Bob headed off toward the bathroom, shaking his head.

Carol followed him. On her way through the door, she shot an angry glance at the ceiling over her shoulder.

"Fuckin' noob!" she growled, as she slammed the door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Apologies to Lynn Viehl over at Paperback Writer.

And apologies to Bob and Carol. I'm really sorry. Really. I feel your pain.

 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breaking new ground

Mr B and I just celebrated our 18-month* 'Anniversary Season'.

See, according to my records, we have three anniversary-worthy events -- Discovery Day (aka First Email), First Coffee, and First Night -- spread over a seven-week period, which was, conveniently enough, 18 months ago.

Anyhooze, one recent evening we were marveling at our X-treme! longevity (snort!) when we realized that this is the longest either of us had been with someone without either breaking up or getting married. I think we deserve major points for boldly going where neither of us have gone before. Hell, we aren't even shacking up yet**! I want my gold star, dammit.

And here's an even more amazing fact for your consideration: Records that far back are sparse, but the latest computer models estimate that sometime next summer will mark 25 years since we first met. Shit, that's only seven years less than I've known the Ex, and we were married for-ev-er!

So all you 20-somethings out there, keep an eye on those casual acquaintances and co-workers. You never know....

* Yeah, we're still counting in months. Isn't that precious? Although I think we are required by law and common decency to cease that shit at the two-year mark.

** This is not due to any moral/religious prejudice against 'shacking'; rather, it's more likely the result of some combination of exquisite self-control and unabashed cowardice. Or maybe just the latter.
 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tenuous at best

Ha! I bet you thought I was over myself and my 'Oh-so-tenuous-as-to-be-non-existant' connections with people of talent. Wrong!

Just last week I learned that Mr B's nephew used to be in a rap group* with Jay Smooth! Yes, that Jay Smooth. I was so tickled pink that I am still beside myself**.

Speaking of Jay Smooth, here's his latest:



The truly sad thing is that you know there will be people who will watch this and think it's real. "Oooo, scary black community! Too dark for America!"

And that, Gentle Reader, scares the shit outta me.

* Aren't I hip, with my mad street lingo?

** Which, although fun, makes driving rather awkward.
 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Things can only get better

You've come back for your Fridays Rock! fix, eh? Thought you might. Sure, I'll hook you up.


Things Can Only Get Better, Howard Jones, Dream Into Action

Ah, memories old and new. This song came out when I was in my mid-20s and is therefore permanently engraved into the fabric of my brain. As my mental facilities (continue to) succumb to the ravages of time, one of the last things to go will be songs from the early to mid-80s. I may not be able to wipe myself, but I'll be able to holla 'Whoa-whoa-whooooa' at the top of my lungs.

More recently, right after I split from the Ex, Howard Jones played at our small theater downtown. I bought one ticket and went by myself. It was probably the first social-ish thing I did by myself during the period of Maximum Chaos right after All Hell Broke Loose.

I'm not a hugastic Howard Jones fan, but dammit, I had a blast! It was just Howard (sans the lovely 'do) and a guitarist, and they played their asses off. Almost the entire audience was my age (duh!) and we all sang our little hearts out. It was a great show.

As advertised, things only got better. And as good as things are today, I believe the prediction still holds true.
 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Blogiversary

Hey! Tomorrow this blog will be one year old! Who'd'a thunk it?

Like anyone who starts one of these things, I had no idea what, if anything, would come after that first post. But somehow things kept coming. Sorry.

Most of the things in my life are much the same as a year ago. One thing that's not is me. And I've not changed so much as gotten my post-marriage self put into some semblance of order, somehow managing to keep my relationship with Mr. B intact during the process.

I'm pretty damned pleased about that.

Happy to me!
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Merry Christmas, Sweetie!

Early in our relationship, when we were still comparing medical histories, Mr B confessed he hadn't gotten around to having a colonoscopy. I told him I thought it was pretty important and I would buy him one for Christmas, if that's what it would take.

Well, it took ten months, but he finally did it! Today we're off the The Big City for his Christmas 'Scoping.

Ho-ho-hooooo!

Over fifty? Haven't had one? Get on it, people!
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Age of antiquity

Evil Twin recently received a stark reminder that one computer year is like ten human years. She writes:
I have been dealing with a distant contractor who will be reprinting a curriculum guide I designed about 10 years ago. The employee requesting the reprint wrote: "The contractor who will be working on this is requesting the original guide in Word be emailed to them. They would like you to send it at your earliest convenience."

Oh yes, I STILL have the original Word file on that document (are you shitting me?) Ten years ago, we were using WordStar for our word processing. Okay, so in 1998, I formatted the document, it went through several reviews, sections were changed and finally printed. I sent it to the printer on a Zip disk in its original PageMaker 6.5 format. He returned it to me when the job was done. I have it here in my hand. Got nuttin' to insert the disk into, and got no software that opens it, even if I could locate a Zip drive. That was three computers ago.

Fortunately, I also saved it using a newfangled software that was supposed to make it available to people that didn't have PageMaker. It was called "Acrobat". The contractor is able to pull the correct text off the PDF. Not a job I'd want, though.

It got me to thinking. When we were at the Center*, I bought PageMaker 1.0. It came on one floppy, and had a huge manual. My serial number was PM1.00000647.



And we were on the bleeding edge of technology!


Note: Not to scale. Yeah, the Mac was small, but not that small.

Those were the days, eh? Between installing software and making backup copies**, if I had a dollar for every time I had to swap 5.25" floppies (which, BTW, really were floppy) I wouldn't be sitting here today.

Anyone remember the 9" floppys? Or were they proprietary to the Wang word processor circa 1984?

* Where we (and Mr. B) met, some 20+ years ago.

** AutoCAD: 14 disks. I wish I was making that up.
 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Teaching opportunity FAIL

Scene: Morning. In the car, on the way to day care. On the radio, a clip of a stand-up comedian:
...and wouldn't it be great if you could really use the skills you learned in college on the job? I can build a bong out of toilet paper. That could be useful to the company, huh?

Young Son, puzzled: A gong out of toilet paper?

Mom, under-caffeinated: (long pause....) Yeah, a gong. Isn't that silly?

 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Urgent!

There's a crew doing some construction here in the conference room and they have their little boom box tuned to a Classic Rock station. Not my usual choice, but since I am Of A Certain Age and therefore susceptible to that shit, it's been doing a pretty good job at Rockin' my Friday so far. So I thought I'd pay it forward.



Damn, I didn't realize Foreigner music generates such a heavy-duty flashback field. I think I need to go lie down.
 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tough call

Warning: F-bomb Alert!

Is it nobler to 'eff it all' or to 'f*ck it all' or to just come out and 'fuck it all'? I'm in a quandary.

I am a firm believer in using the right word for the job. I think swearing serves a purpose in society. And yeah, sometimes it's just friggin' funny. I'm just that crude.

Hey, did you know 'frigging' used to be a bad word? Do you know what it originally meant? Ten points if you do!

I'm sure it's no surprise that I swear In Real Life. At one point some years back (during a particularly stressful time) I got so bad that I embarrassed the Ex, a career sailor who could hold his own. As I've aged, I've toned it down and gained more control over those random ejaculations, but I still do it. Just not so much in public.

On the continuum of foul-mouthed-ness I'm a pretty weak-assed swearer, really. I stick to the mainstream swears: all forms of 'shit', of course; standard and freestyle variations of 'ass' (asshole, asshat, asseyes, asswipe); 'piss' in its various forms (pissing, pisser, pissed); and of course 'suck' and 'blow', which don't really count since they used to be swears -- originally slang for a sex act -- but nowadays are pretty commonplace.

Hey, remember when 'screw' was a bad word? Gawd, I'm old. And my mom told me that when she was young, 'tool' and 'rod' used to make people blush. Oh, how far we've come....

I don't go so much for the genitalia-related swears, other than the occasional 'dick' (and its variant dickwad) or 'cocksucker' when necessary. I really hate the 'c-word', but I have been know to call myself a pussy, although I employ it as an expression of self-deprecation rather than a description of physiology. I mean, yeah, I have one, but so do most other females. No big. Let's just call a vulva a vulva, shall we?

Which reminds me: I hate when people refer to a 'vagina' when they mean 'vulva'. If a woman is walking down the street pants-less and you can see her vagina, she's got much bigger problems than no pants, let me tell you. Know your anatomy, people!

Back to the point, finally: I'm an unrepentant potty-mouth but I've been flip-flopping on the f-word here and I feel like a hypocrite. Hell, I even ranted about sci-fi writers making up futuristic swears instead of using the genuine article. But I have found myself doing the same thing; backing off and employing pale bullshit substitutes.

Why the hesitation? Why not just let my Fuck Flag fly? I dunno. I guess I wanted to avoid the connotation of being an 'adult' blog, even though I certainly don't write for the kiddies. To me, 'adult' has XXX connotations that make me blush and feel funny inside. And I'd rather not go there, thank you.

But I'm weary of the fucking tap dance. Fuck it! I'm going au naturel, baby. Fuckity-fuck-McFuck-fuck-fuck!

There. Doesn't that feel better?
 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chicken Chronicles: Rats!

Somewhat sobered by recent events, I sensed the sun might be setting on the whole 'chicken thing'. Hubby had gotten way over it already (probably about the time he had to off the first hen) and even I had to acknowledge that he had several reasons to justify calling it quits.

Unfortunately, the affliction I suffer (caused by my dominant 'Don't Boss Me, Bitch' gene) meant that none of those very valid and compelling reasons were quite enough to get me to throw in the towel*.

Like the feather in the opening scene of 'Forrest Gump', the last straw drifted down from above when we started going through feed at an alarming rate. It was only a matter of time before I spotted a large, well-fed rat noshing at the feeder one evening. We rigged the feeder on a rope strung through a hook on the ceiling so we could raise the food at dusk and lower it in the morning. That seemed to help a little, although remembering to do the raising and lowering was a challenge, especially when it was cold and dark at 4:30 pm. But the feed consumption seemed to level off through that winter: Mission Accomplished! Or so we thought. Until Spring.

With the lengthening days came an increase in the frequency of occasional rat sightings. Even I had to admit that wasn't a good sign. Despite our dedication to the raising and lowering scheme, feed consumption increased, which could only mean that those ballsy mothereffers were hitting the buffet in broad daylight. And flipping me off when I caught them at it.

One evening at dusk, as Hubby returned from hauling up the feed, I could tell as he approached the back door that he was extremely agitated. He burst through the door, his face pale, and in a choked voice uttered the phrase that marked the beginning of the end.
If I saw one rat, I saw fifty!
And not half an hour later we got a very nice but direct phone call from our neighbor over the fence expressing his... concern over the infestation.

A quick investigation revealed the rats had taken up residence in the dirt under the coop during the winter, plotting and scheming and just waiting for the warm weather to launch their plans to take over the world. Which they apparently decided would begin that evening. The battle had begun. My response? Mass carnage. I wanted them dead. Yesterday.

I bought the recommended poison at the feed store. It took a little doing to figure out how to make the stuff available to the rats but not the hens or the dogs or Young Son, but there are some very ingenious contraptions out there. Who knew?

As advertised, within a day or so began our sightings of dazed and decidedly ill-looking rats stumbling around the yard. The sport became finding them and scooping them up before the dogs did. It only took a few days of Dead Rat Patrol for me to finally accept the inevitable. There was no way I could keep those chickens without harboring rats.

Dammit! I friggin' hate it when I'm wrong.

I called my farmer pal, the one who taught me how to molest a chicken. She had a neighbor who would take the lot. And after a hilarious hour spent herding chickens, that was that; the ignominious end of The Chicken Chronicles.

Cosmo continued to stare longingly into the pen for his fluffy prey pals. We continued Dead Rat Patrols until signs of life ceased, although over the next year or so we did continue to find dessicated rat carcasses wedged into the strangest places. My favorite was the one Hubby found in the middle of the huge compost pile. We decided our unwelcome guests must have been the morally-evolved, ecologically-conscious, self-composting rats.

Oh, by the way, I recently scored a dozen farm eggs, finally. And you know what? They were so rich that Young Son couldn't eat them. I'm not so sure I really enjoyed them myself.

Oh well.

* Poor guy. And we were married for almost 30 years. Can you imagine? I know!
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Scary thought

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
-- Robert H. Schuller

My answer is scaring me shitless. How about you?
 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Portable Timepiece

RANDOM LIZ-NESS FOR 10.06.2008



I bought this stunning fashion accessory on sale ($6.00!!) at WalMart. The main criteria for its selection was that it had real numbers large enough for even me to read, and a second hand. I rarely use the second hand as my life generally doesn't demand that level of precision, but it comforts me to know it's there.

The little loop that is supposed to hold the tail end of the band fell off, so now the tail kind of sticks out. I've tried tape and a twist tie to secure it but each had drawbacks, so now I just let the tail flop at will. I've priced new watchbands but they cost more than the watch (even at Walmart). Somehow that offends me.
 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Yuh-huh! Nuh-uh!

This whole election thing is really getting to me. I don't know if I can continue to hold my breath for another 32 days; I'm already starting to see spots in front of my eyes and it's making me crabby.

Since I'm too weak for anything other than the most modest of Friday Rockings this week, I'm going to conserve my energy and bring it down a bit with some songs of the season.

Barak Obama: Yes We Can



John McCain: No You Can't


Never let it be said that we aren't fair and balanced here at AIWJT.

For those of us who missed the VP debate last night, Jay Smooth provides a recap:



Is it November yet?
 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dealer takes all

I had a little car emergency last week. Young Son and I were headed out on our regular weekday morning business when Old Green, my '97 Camry, decided it wasn't going to start. Fueled by sheer hysteria, I kept cranking, and after a couple of curse-laced moments the engine graced me by starting. Too terrified to turn it engine off, I dropped off Young Son and drove straight to The Dealership.

I must confess: I hate The Dealership. They are the only Toyota dealer in town. I know they overcharge and oversell, but since I don't speak the magic language of automobile repair, I've lacked the confidence to strike out into the wilderness of independent shops. Call me whatever, but I do believe my congenital lack of a Y chromosome does still, even in 2008, put me at a disadvantage in that culture. So even though The Dealership repelled me, I reasoned that they would not risk losing me as a potential future car buyer by totally screwing me over.

Hey, I didn't say it was sound reasoning.

En route I had a phonecon with Mr. B, who grew up in an old-timey service station way back when they used to milk the dinosaurs to get the gas for the pumps. He suggested it could be a problem with the starter. I relayed that info to the service rep at The Dealership, trying hard to act like I understood what was coming out of my mouth. The rep opened my tab for the day with the $100 diagnostic charge, hooked me up with a ride to work, and sent me on my way.

Didn't take too long to get The Call. As predicted, there were contacts in the starter that needed to be replaced. Yes, they could do it that day. Of course there was a list of other 'recommended' maintenance items long enough to make my eyes glaze over and costly enough to make my bowels move. Somehow I mustered enough spine to decline.

I picked up the car after work and was greeted with a $400 total and a detailed explanation of the other recommended items. The rep said it looked like the water pump had been leaking and should be replaced soon, and if you do the water pump of course you should do the timing belt, which was about due anyway. The total for that plus a coolant flush (which I knew I needed) was $830. And, BTW, that oil leak I had mentioned to him was coming from the valve cover gasket, which could be fixed for the low, low price of $170. Compared to the $830, that didn't seem too bad. And it brought the total to a nice round $1000 -- gak! Pale and shaking, I paid The Dealership its $400 and got the hell out of there.

The water pump thing kind of freaked me out -- I felt I had to get it taken care of pronto but shitting a grand was an issue. Then there were the large steaming wads of contempt I feel for The Dealership and their brand-new fancy super-facility with coffee bar and marble floors and Scion showroom and luxurious waiting area. I really really didn't want to reward them and their predatory practices with another chunk of cash. It was time to face my fears and look at going out on the town.

Mr B, knowledgeable in the ways of things automotive-ish, suggested cartalk.com, where you can read customer reviews of local garages. It didn't take long to find a shop nearby with recent (glowing) reviews and a certified Toyota Guy. I called on Tuesday; they had an appointment open today. We dropped off the car last night and and I can't express how heartened I was by the sight of a humble red building that looked like a real garage, with nary a coffee bar or marble floor in sight. Even Mr. B gave it the nod of approval, and he should know.I slipped the envelope with my key through the old-school mail slot in the front door, and smiled. I slept well.

I just got The Call. And guess what? My water pump isn't leaking. I can get another 10K miles out of my timing belt. Yeah, my coolant looks like coffee, but it'll only cost $60 to flush-and-fill, less than half of what the dealership quoted me. The valve cover gasket? They can fix it for $85, compared to $165 at the dealership.

So instead of $1000, my bill today will be less than $200 all told. Around the end of the year, when it comes time to deal with the timing belt and water pump, I'll be dropping Old Green at the shabby yet tidy red building. And even if they charge the same price as The Dealership, I will write that check with a big fat smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Here's a hearty 'fuck you and the marble floors you sit on', Dealership!
 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A simple plea

Pleasohpleaseohplease, for the love of everything sweet and crunchy,

REGISTER TO VOTE!
Click to visit the Election Assistance Commission
for information on registration by mail.

If you're too cool for old school, click to

ROCK THE VOTE!
Same info, cooler packaging.

I mean it! Deadlines for many states are this week. No lollygagging, dammit.

If you've enjoyed a change of name and/or address since you last voted, you'll need to update your registration, which you can do with the same form.

Fair Warning: If America screws up this election, I am going to be mightily pissed. Just saying....