Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Heat Goes On
Twenty-nine days in a row without rain and 27 days in a row of temperatures above normal. It's not the hottest June I remember, but it seems harder to deal with the heat now that I work in an extremely chilly environment. Or maybe it's just age. The garden isn't doing too well either, even though I've kept it watered. Too much afternoon sun, I suspect. And maybe the heat is why my parents suddenly appeared on my doorstep tonight in the middle of my writing this post. They were worried that something had happened to me because I didn't answer my phone tonight or return their voice mail messages from this morning. Just from this morning! Jebezus. Nothing like getting caught with your pants down, literally, since Rob and I were both sitting around pants free due to the oppressive heat. My first thought when I saw my mom at the front door was that something had happened to my dad. But no, there he was in the car. Turns out the "emergency" was just that there was a job opening at the City with a job description and pay rate that was supposedly perfect for me, but the deadline to apply is 1 PM tomorrow. I looked it up and yes, the job description was about as well matched as anything could get to my experience, expertise and dream salary with one small fatal flaw. It's a temporary position. No benefits, no health insurance and who knows how long it would last. Still, I might apply anyway. I could switch to the night shift where I work now and just work two jobs for a while. Sure, that's 80 hours a week, but I used to do that on a regular basis when I worked at Hines and for just ONE salary. Hmmm...

P.S. I did apply for it, what the heck. After all, the thousands of applications previously sent to the City never once netted me a single phone call. If it's meant to be, they'll call. If not, I've lost nothing but 15 minutes spent updating my on-line application.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I HAVE THESE FRIENDS

In Colorado...back in the day I would venture up there once or twice a year and hang out, first with the camping and then travel to the city and see my friends. Some I met when I lived there, and one moved from Austin to the springs.
These days I don't have the time, money or inclination to travel so it's been friendship by phone every once in a while. I spent some time on the phone with my transplant friend, and he's coming to Austin next week, and coming here to have dinner. I am so looking forward to this, I haven't seen him in years. He wants mexican food, and even though I'm not mexican, I think I can pull it off.
I called another friend...my best friend when I lived there, and he called back last night. Unfortunately, I had a collision with a bottle of vodka last night, and by the time he called I was shitfaced...somehow he picked this up (!) "Rob...you've had a couple of cocktails haven't you"? End of call...I called him tonight (not vodka addled) and we caught up.
And when I got off the phone, I felt better than I had in a long time and feeling lucky to have these friends.
A connection that goes back a long way, I'm still close to their heart and vice-versa.
And that's a nice feeling.
And it got me jonsing for a trip up the country.
Edumacation
I was looking for something interesting to watch on TV last night when I stumbled across a program on PBS about the Jamestown settlement that was founded in the 1600s in what later became Virginia. According to the program, when the north won the civil war, they wrote the significance of this settlement out of the history books. I found that to be a curious statement since it certainly wasn't missing from my education. But after some thought, I realized that most of what I knew from Jamestown came from books I had read as a child and not from history lessons in school. In fact, most of my childhood education came from books rather than teachers. I was an avid reader and devoured hundreds of books a year, mostly non-fiction. My favorite magazines were National Geographic and Popular Mechanics and in my early teens I added Byte and Scientific America (along with a subscription to Teen Magazine in an failed attempt to be less of a nerd.) And then I started working full time in the summer and part time during school and I no longer had the excess spare time to spend reading. I still crammed in a book here and there, but the amount dwindled bit by bit and these days I don't read books at all. There's a variety of reasons for this which range from needing glasses that I can't afford to a lack of time, but I suspect the biggest reason is that I just don't seem to have that intense craving for knowledge anymore. That troubles me, but maybe I've absorbed all I can for now and enough is enough. Still, if I happen to stumble across a program on TV about Quantum Physics or Polypeptides, you can bet I'll stop and watch it.
Meet the Canine Alarm Clock

There will be no sleeping late in our household thanks to this guy. I can turn all the alarm clocks off and I'll still be alerted to the fact that it's 4:30 AM. It's just a couple of short barks and then he'll get quiet again unless he doesn't hear me stirring around the house. If I don't stir, I can expect a long series of barks at 5:00 AM and if he hasn't been let out by the usual 5:30 AM time, the wounded animal noises start. No matter how hard I try, I can't get my sleep brain to realize that he's not actually wounded or on the verge of having to pee in the corner, but just an anal-retentive dog that likes to keep a set schedule. It's like having a snooze alarm that you can't turn off - I wake up enough to realize there's nothing really wrong with the dog, go back to sleep only to wake up again 10 minutes later. Eventually I give up because who knows, maybe this time he really IS about to pee in a corner and if I don't let him out, then I'll have to clean it up. That's usually motivation enough to get me out of bed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

HARD WORK...BUT FIRST A REALLY CUTE FUCKING FAWN

When I dropped off Annabelle at work this morning we went in the back way to avoid those state emplyoee fucks who for some reason feel the need to back into the parking spaces...time wasting asshats one and all. On the side of this building are drainage troughs...huge ones. I spotted a fawn in the corner of one of them. On the way out, I took a picture.



The work goes on in the engineering buildings asphault testing laboratory...we are wiring the new array of ovens, compactors and jiggolators ( I made jiggolators up BTW) . This is art...if you can see it.



And...



And...



And wire...lots and lots of wire....meh.



This job rocks...it has been a test of my skills and a test of my art...make this shit look good, and we have, as much as you can make electrical work look artistic.
OH MY GOD...
When I heard about He who has no name, AKA, Bunnypants, AKA, a south texas football coach, or for those of you who insist, the pResidents speech at Fort Bragg; I thought...what a beautiful set up. Make a speech attempting to rally us all back to supporting the crimes being perpetrated over there in "Eye-rack". He who has no name referenced 9-11 6 times in the first minute or so of his speech, which his writers have been working on for weeks. If it's such a righteous fucking cause, why all the prep?
BECAUSE IT'S NOT A RIGHTEOUS CAUSE...It's a fraud being perpetrated on the world.
The people that blew up the world trade center were from fucking Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. There were NEVER weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, except the ones Saddam used to kill Kurds and Iranian soldiers, and he got them from US, back when he and rumsfeld were "holding hands".
Rant rant rant...Rave rave rave...he is so full of shit...it made me sick.
Watch the audience reaction...these soldiers who are being killed or might be killed in the near future for this bush league asshat and the old bitter fucktards that are propping him up.Subdued...but is it out of respect or the burning realization that the commander in chief is a lying piece of shit?
My monies on the shit end of the equation.
Now that I have this out of the way....
__________________________________________

John Kelly...Irish...son of a cop, grandson of a cop. He is smooth, spell that S.M.O.O.VE. Resolute, hardcore, smart, mellow in that threatening mellow kind of way. He has a way about him that wins over, plus he's a badass when it come to the fisticuffs. And then he got full of himself and left NYPD Blue for movies, where he tanked. What was it called? Jade Kiss? It sucked, whatever it was called. But those years on NYPD Blue he rocked. He had technique...I used his technique in my work...the way he said things, his phrasing, his affect. Awesome shit...and it worked.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A DAMAGED HUMAN BEING

I try to make it home by 5 everyday except friday so I can watch reruns of NYPD Blue on court TV. I've been doing this for some time now, and while that bit of info along with the former would make me the damaged human being in question...I'm not.
It's Sipowitz...Yeah, him, good old fat and drunk Andy Sipowitz. Anyone whose bothered to follow this guy through his paces knows that he is scarred by his experience in Viet Nam, made worse by his substance abuse, and complicated by his efforts to deal with a racist background that he is at best ambivilent about but deeply and forever biased.
He has an unwavering sense of justice to boot...add these all together and you got me one damaged human being.
Who grows up before your very eyes. Like in tonights episode where he tells Sylvia "Don't give up on me yet" and follows that pathetic line up with " And I mean it about liking you".
Sylvia buys into it. Sweet. He's got her fooled. Or does he? Does he really mean it? I mean, what would any middle aged guy think to gain from using 8th grade terms of endearment? Unless he's seriously fucked up.
Like I said...Kelly tomorrow.
Take the MIT Weblog Survey
THANKS CNN

I saw this headline just now..." What's going on with Tom Cruise"? As most of us know, since what's up with him is ultimately more important than the war et al...He's been showing his ass of late.
I know what's going on with him...are you sitting down? Here it comes...he's a 42 year old man banging the 26 year old Katie Holmes, that's almost as good as the olsen twins, but not quite for a 42 year old man.
Can we digest the obvious and move on to more important shit, like that moat of oil around Baghdad Rumsfeld was talking about yesterday?
Hurry up and Wait
I worked last Sunday and I couldn't help but notice how many customers were pissed off that the billing office was closed on Sunday. I guess we live in such an on demand, 24/7 world that people expect everything to be available all the time now. It's a modern day attitude that's a far cry from my childhood when you could still find the proverbial "Gone Fishing" sign on the front door of a business when you came into town to pick up supplies or get your haircut, or whatever. None of my relatives ever got their panties in a wad over it, they just ran what errands they could and figured they would just try again another day. Of course, they weren't prone to wait until the last minute either which brings up another modern day attitude that probably explains the first one. If I had a dollar for every customer who needed their internet connection fixed NOW because it was the last day to [insert task here] then I would be making about $4 more an hour. And in pondering this, I realized that I tend to practice that attitude myself. Unfortunately the financial situation doesn't allow for anything but paying bills at the last minute, but I can at least make sure I wash the socks before we are down to the last pair.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

THE CURSE OF SHUFFLE MODE

We have this CD player...it holds 50 discs, and being the lazy fuck that I am, rather than put the ever growing pile of CD's away, I just loaded them up in the player. It makes for some strange transitions...for example, Ice T covering Black Flags police story followed by Dylans I want you followed by big hands by Crass, followed by REM's shiney happy people.
And it seems that with every 12 or so songs, there's a REM song. Now don't get me wrong...I like REM, a lot actually. But it reminds me of my ex girlfriend,and everytime the REM rolls around on the shuffle, I am struck with an image of her crying with snot running down her nose to the tune of REM's belong...I can't shake it off no matter how I try.
I loved this woman until I came to hate her, and she me, but I can't shake the image of her in back shattering tears over an REM song while her dad was dying of cancer, tears and snot rolling off her face in an unending stream of empathy for her dad. She was a 1000 miles away trying to deal with this shit, and I was a 1000 miles away in regard to knowing how to act...and as much as I like REM, the memory of her pain and my inability to react to it is forever connected to the band.Everytime I hear belong I get this image of her rocking retard like on the corner of the couch, and I hit the skip button, probably more for me than anything else. I'm no friend of pain.
Same goes for Midnight Oil . And the Cult.(also in the shuffle)
I wish I didn't think about Debbie, or rather remember her...but I guess that's the way it is, when I hear certain music.
And then it shuffles to white trash mother fucker by Jesus Christ Superfly and the world is right again, for 2 and a 1/2 minutes.
Come to think of it, life is a lot like shuffle mode if you think about it, one minute you're a white trash motherfucker, the next you're a disaffected mod from the who's version of reality.
And then, before you know it, you're way back to the bone...and coming home, courtesy of Trapeze.
Enough already...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

KARL ROVE IS AN ASSHOLE

But we already knew that, so his recent comments about the democrats response to immediate post 9-11 ( as opposed to just regular post 9-11) is not newsworthy. Neither is his refusal to apologise for dissing the democrats.
I keep hearing about america waking up to the lie, and to that I steal a quote from rottendotcom regarding a completely different issue ( but so appropriate in so many ways ) "america rolls over and farts".
America is waking up to the fact that the leadership of the country is full of shit? Since when? Bush was full of shit when he was gubner of texas, and now he's 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag and the shits spilling out everywhere...and guess what? He ( and the rest of his criminal administration ) don't care.
Example: They dismiss the downing street memo because everyone knew Bush was lying about the war from the get go, so...the memo doesn't matter. Nobody blinked...Let me say that again, everyone knew he was lying, so it doesn't matter that he lied us into this war. What goldfish?
Here's another example: The US admits torture...after months of denying it. Again,nobody blinked.
Before this devolves into a senseless rant, let me just say that I am amazed and disgusted at what's going on in this country.
One word...sociopaths*
* Glibness/superficial charm.
Grandiose sense of self-worth.
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Pathological lying
Conning/manipulative
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect
Callous/lack of empathy
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral controls
Promiscuous sexual behavior
Early behavior problems
Lack of realistic, long-term plans
Impulsivity
Irresponsibility
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Yep...that's our Bush.That's the GOP.
IT FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME

We finally got together as a band after trying for over a month...It was a tenth anniversary of sorts, being that our tenth as a band passed in April and it wasn't until now that we could all get together. Middle age sucks in that regard, spontaneous gatherings are far and few between, what with all the shit that goes with middle age. And goes against the grain of any self respecting garage band, until they get to our age and realize they are a middle aged garage band.
But we finally did it...and it was a fucking blast! Just like the old days, we had the barbee going and it was as much about food and fellowship as it was about our distortion driven old school rock and roll.
So...first with the food...
We are all BBQ rangers, as LT shows me the pork that needs turning...
And then we played...we did our song "Artillery" and it was hand in glove...amazing stuff being that we had been dormant for so long ...
And then Ann needed to pee...
We took a short break ...


And then we played some more...it rocked




A good time was had by all. We have been friends for almost 30 years...we have been in a band together for 10.
Even when we suck we rock.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A change of plans
I did nothing today that I had planned to do on my day off other than drink beer. The Depthmarker template went kaput yesterday for reasons unknown. Neither one of us had touched the template and no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find anything wrong with the code. So I eventually gave up and just snagged a new one and customized it. This should not have taken five hours, but with a flaky internet connection, much of that time was spent moving the antenna around, then waiting for changes to save and be previewed, then moving the antenna around again prior to making the next round of template changes. It was pretty frustrating and by the time the beer had kicked in enough to mellow me out, I was done. I suppose it was just as well that I didn't spend the day doing housework, laundry and gardening because the band is getting together tonight for the first time in a coon's age and I wouldn't have wanted to be all tired out prior to the festivities. And now that I have just the right buzz to jam, the trick is going to be to maintain that perfect level for the next five hours. I used to be really good at doing that, but I'm very much out of practice these days. Hopefully I'll be awake and sober enough when we get home to post pictures.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

GONE FISHIN'

My journeyman left this morning for the coast...for a long weekend of chasing redfish and coors light with tequila. My foreman left monday for a week
in Big Bend with the family. What posessed him to go to Big Bend in June is beyond me, but to each his own. If they don't all die from the heat stroke,
I'm sure they'll have fun. At least the pictures will be interesting.
But the long and the short of it is, me and my foremans apprentice were left high and dry...to sit at home for (me anyway) today and tomorrow,
and for my foremans apprentice, the whole fucking week.
Considering business has just picked up, this was bad timing on our journeyman/foremans part, but the trips were planned in advance, before the hour drought.
But we were both assigned to university electricians for the duration of the week, which allowed us to get our 40 hours.
This was a concerted effort between our foreman and the head of the university electricians shop to help us out hours wise,
and it was much appreciated by me and the other apprentice.
But...BUT...there's a big difference between university electricians and union electricians,
the former are generally derided as doofuses by the latter electricians ( did I get that right?)
The last time I worked with the electrician I was assigned to was almost a year ago...keep in mind I was a FNG (fuckin' new guy) back then and didn't know shit about electric work.
It was an awkward experience...with him trying to explain shit to me that I had no clue about.
But now a year later, I understood him and took to the task at hand with great success. I climbed the ladders without the hesitation of the past, and even straddled a fire sprinkler line to reach a junction box high above the suspended ceiling to pull in some wire. This was a different experience. I HAD a clue about what needed to be done and I did it. The straddling of the 4" sprinkler pipe elicited a survey of what I would fall into if the anchors gave way instead of abject terror. Plus, my journeyman of the day is pushing 300 lbs and was just too big to fit up there, after some discussion, we decided the anchors could handle my 200 ( ok, damn it...205 lbs ) so up I went. It was actually kind of cool.
It was then that I realized the only difference between union and non union electricians is orientation. What's your affiliation? Union electricians follow union folklore, university electricians follow the rules of working for a state agency. The differences in privilege are stark, but the craft remains the same. We are all just doing electric work, plain and simple.
And while I went into today with some trepidation, I'm happy to report it went quite well and I enjoyed working with my temporary journeyman and look forward to working with him tomorrow. He is not a doofus. He's a rat (just kidding)...he's a non union electrician with the same skills as a union electrician...just tainted by the fate of working for a state agency, which says nothing about skill, but speaks volumes about morale and self image.
This experience also triggered some long delayed introspection, which I entertained on my drive to pick up Ann...I was thinking about what I once was and what I have become since I left the social work field...well, actually I started with the pool company, but ended up way back when, when I thought I could change the world.
But I'll get into that shit later.
---------------------------------------
OVERHEARD AT WORK TODAY....!

In the year plus I have been working for the university, I have never seen anyone abuse a squirrel. There are thousands of thoroughly humanized ones that interact with the students and staff. It's a generational thing for them...I remember when I was a kid and my dad was a student on the GI bill, I would go to class with him sometimes and we would always feed them. They were so cool to my 12 year old self, and hold a special place even today.
Anyway, I went down to the truck to get some parts today and observed this little fuckwad 19 or so year old asshole chasing a squirrel around yelling threats (!). At first, the squirrel hesitated...not really percieving the threat, but finally running up a tree to safety. It was at this point the little asshole saw me, giving him a fuck off and die look. He moved away from the tree. I spotted the offended squirrel in the tree and got his attention by making those clicking sounds my dad taught me so long ago. He was hesitant at first, but finally came down out of the tree and sat in front of me for a few minutes...I had no snacks to offer, so I talked soothingly and chirped and clicked at him as students walked by. He got right up on my boot and sniffed at it, then ambled off to the steps of the building behind me. We looked at each other again ( after I clicked and chirped at him again), but he moved on.
It was like he said "thanks for the reassurance, but you don't have any cheese crackers...see ya...I knew that guy was an asshole anyway, but thanks just the same WEIRDO"
I'd rather be that kind of weirdo than the one tormenting a squirrel...fucking punk.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

TAKIN' CARE OF BIDNESS...

I got popped on the eighth of June...motorcycle cop in the magic white triangle on the north end of the first street bridge, he was just waiting for my illegal ass to pass by, something you'd call a quota stop. My infractions? Expired motor vehicle inspection and expired motor vehicle registration. Now this is for a 1999 Izuzu Rodeo, even if I had seriously abused this vehicle, there's no way it could'nt pass muster. The truth is I'm a lazy fuck. And I let it roll because if I have to choose between lights and flushing toilets and paying my bridge tax (registration) or prove the worthiness of my wiper blades ( inspection ) , Texas can kiss my ass. We did, however, keep the insurance current...I'd rather get popped for expired extraneous bullshit than have a wreck without coverage. Those couple of months we didn't have insurance wore on me big time.
Anyhoo...this cop was impressed that I had chosen financial responsibility over government registration/inspection (expired in Oct. '94 and Dec. '94 respectively ) and helped me to find a way to avoid extra charges.
I have nothing further to say on this matter, except that he saved me about 300.00 in fines, bless him...the Austin PD used to be like this overall on matters like this, but it's a rare thing these days.
Anyway, I had 12 days to get registered and inspected.
I took all 12 days.
The registration was uneventful because it is a state agency, dry and mechanical except for the part when I lied and said the vehicle had'nt been driven nor had we gotten a ticket in it since the expiration date.
There was a moment of guilt and remorse...but that was just me, the attendant could've given a shit, he just wanted my 54 dollars and 77 cents. And he got it. And I got my sticker.
I replaced the burnt out right rear brake light ( that we disguised by burning our running lights to avoid detection ) and fucked with the brakes some and took it for inspection.
I stopped at "Groovy Lube" on the drag, Home of the hippy oil change place that also offers state inspection. It was backed up. I was prepared to wait when a 12 passenger van parked in front of a classic DeVille convertible backed into said DeVille and then pulled on up to the inspection stall.
I cruised north to Lamar and went to Alan's inspection, where I used to get my Hines Pool vehicle inspections...these guys were cool. And they still were...They've gone from 2 employees to 6 and have new signage and better parking.
Ihad to wait a bit more that 10 minutes ( around 30 ) but I was thanked for waiting and the crew was heavily tattooed.
My inspector saw my IBEW sticker and tool bag and my tats, and I could have rolled up with fred flinstones ride and failed and they would have hooked me up somehow. I was home.
Plus, my ride was right.
After the inspection, it was time for a trip to APD/ Municipal court central.
I dumped the contents of my pockets to pass through the metal detector...nickles, dimes, quarters, pennies, sleeve anchors, nuts, washers.
I passed through and took my number...240. The category I picked was at 234...the other categories were in the 800's...something about changing or exchanging jail time.
The station was full of minorities...mostly hispanics, interspersed by black folk.
I was the only heavily tattooed white guy, everyone else was staring at me. There was this pale, scrawny white woman...I mean SERIOUSLY white with red hair and copious freckles, with her 2 kids that looked just like her, and they were staring and giggling at me and all the other folks in the reception area. She finally gathered her brood and ran off giggling down the hall.
I feel sorry for people like her.
Can't keep your shit together in a room full of colored people...myself included. Stupid bitch.
I took care of our business and now we are good till may 2006.
I strive to be more responsible.
NOT.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Bustin' ass on my day off
I might have a very hard time getting out of bed tomorrow morning, but I've done nine loads of laundry, taken out several bags of trash, and chopped down quite a few small trees which were then chopped up further and tied up into the required size of bundles for the city to pick up some day (supposed to be every Monday, but they tend to skip our street.) I suppose that doesn't sound like much, but given how out of shape I am and the fact that temps were in the mid 90s outside and mid 80s inside, it was quite the challenge. It was also a very sharp contrast to my usual work day. The office where I were work is kept very cold and I sit down all day long. I pop outside on my breaks and lunch hour to thaw out and stretch my legs, but it's not enough to acclimate to the heat or give much of a workout to my muscles. Today's work was about as opposite as you can get and instead of thawing out and stretching my legs on breaks, I was cooling down and moving as little as possible. Now this wasn't exactly a fun way to spend my day off, but at least it was something different. Still, I had to give myself quite a few motivational speeches to keep going since working in the heat also meant staying away from the beer and giving up one of my favorite things to do on a day off. And the appeal of just doing something different wasn't that intriguing, especially when it involved a lot of physical labor and sweat. No, it was the possible end result that kept me going. The thought that we might once again someday have a nice backyard that I could enjoy instead of the overgrown jungle of small trees and weeds that it's become over the years. Ah, the power of imagination. Without I would have just stayed inside by the AC and drank beer.
JUST BECAUSE

I love this song

And I will stroll the merry way and jump the hedges first
And I will drink the clear clean water for to quench my thirst
And I shall watch the ferry-boats and they’ll get high
On a blue ocean, against tomorrow’s sky

And I will walk and talk in gardens all wet with rain
And I will never grow so old again
Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
My, my, my, my, my sweet thing

And I will stroll the merry ways and jump the hedges first
And I will drink the clear clean water for to quench my thirst
And I shall watch the ferry-boats and they’ll get high
On a blue ocean against tomorrow’s sky

And I will walk and talk in gardens all wet with rain
And never ever ever ever ever get so old again

Ooh...
Sweet thing
My my my...

And I shall drive my chariot down your streets and cry
Hey, it’s me! I’m dynamite and I don’t know why
And you shall take me warm in your arms again
And I will not remember that I ever felt the pain

And I will walk and talk in gardens all wet with rain
And never ever ever ever ever get so old again

Ooh
Sweet thing
Yeah yeah yeah...
Sweet thing
My my my...

And I will raise my hand up into the night time sky
And count the stars there shining in your eyes
Just to dig it all an’ not to wonder, that’s just fine
And I’ll be satisfied not to read in between the lines

And I will walk and talk in gardens all wet with rain
And never ever ever ever ever get so old again

Sugar-baby with your champagne eyes
And your saint-like smile....

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take this broken wing and learn to fly
All your life you were just waiting for this moment to arrive
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take your sunken eyes, learn to see
All your life you were only waiting for this moment to be free...

The Waterboys ( channel Van and Lennon )
IT'S FATHERS DAY!

Happy fathers day Dad...if you were'nt dead and buried at fort sam, being a war hero and all, I'd give you a hug.I miss you.
Happy fathers day Dad in law...I've never said this out loud ( to you anyway ) but I respect you. Thank you for Ann too :)
Happy fathers day to me...half of Kyle ( which half remains to be seen, but I'm banking on the "less crazy" half ). He hasn't called me by the way ( It's not like I've been sitting by the phone waiting for him to call...but it's after 4 in the afternoon, and you'd think between bong hits it would occur to him, but no... ) but if you count up the times I didn't call my dad, it all kind of evens out.
So, when I finally realize it's time to call my fathers day designee, he's at work.
And now I feel guilty...not.
I got to talk to my DIL (daughter in law) and pass on my message.
Mom and baby are well.
And that's a good enough fathers day for me.
A KNOCK AT THE DOOR ... PART THREE

So, I'm on my first assignment. Sitting at a desk in a dingy room of a motel 6 in south Philly staring down at this picture of a kid. Just your average 19 year old, really, but he is a percieved threat because of the pictures that spill out of his folder...at anti war demonstrations, his comings and goings at the local mosque, printouts of his live journal intermingle with the pictures spread out across the desk like an indictment.
As I read his postings, I begin to see the threat. He is telling the truth. He's a bit radical to be sure,calling for and supporting impeachment procedings against bush for the lies that have led to the deaths of so many.
Truthful? Yes. Dangerous? Decidedly not, but he's on the list and must be dealt with.
My instructions include: "apprehend and detain, for rendering to Syria". Why are they sending this kid to Syria? What could he know that could possibly warrant his ticket to torturetown? I review his file over and over again and the only connection to this kid and terrorism I can see is the mosque. I decide to go see this mosque for myself.
I hung out across the street on a stoop, posing as a homeless guy. Over the 2 weeks I was there I learned several things...homeless people are very accepting as a rule and will share whatever they have. Wild Irish Rose is not so bad when it's cold, and by the time the bottle warms up you don't care until you wake up with a drill going off in your head. And there was some seriously sketchy shit going down at that mosque after hours.
They were moving something in and out of the basement at regular intervals in boxes marked perishable, but it wasn't handled like canned goods. These guys were very careful with the boxes. Plus I never saw them during the day, or any other time around the mosque, except when they were moving boxes. I needed a closer look at these boxes.
One night when they were moving boxes out to a rental truck, I stumbled across the street in my best drunken homeless persona and fell into a guy pushing a hand truck with three boxes on it. He and I hit the ground and the hand truck fell over sideways, dumping it's load onto the sidewalk. The guy was furious! He began bellowing at me in some language I didn't understand and poking me in the chest. I made a hasty retreat back across the street, but not before noticing the print on the boxes...Class 3 explosives...detonators.
I hung out on the stoop for a few more days, partially to maintain my cover, but mostly to hang with my new friends. I even showed up with a case of OE 40's that I "stole" one friday night. That was a party, let me tell you. Ever had a cheap hot dog grilled over a trash barrel fire? That's living.
Then it was time to detain the kid.

( You can read this excuse for a serial short story in its proper order here if ya wants to ).

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Easy come, easy go
Tonight we had a new person cut our front lawn. Our neighbor had hired him and came over and asked if we wanted him to do our lawn for the same low price our other lawn folks did, except that he would trim in addition to mowing. That sounded good to me so the deal was made. I was busy talking to our neighbor and forgot to tell the lawn guy what NOT to mow and as a result all my flowering tobacco plants were weed-whacked and mowed to the ground. My neighbor noticed and pointed it out to me, seeming somewhat disturbed, and I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Oh well." That wasn't just a brave show of face after months of weeding, watering and nurturing those plants, but how I really felt about the situation. You see, it's a good representation of my life over these past 40 something years. Things sprout, grow and bloom only to get whacked down and I have to start all over again. The first few times I got pretty upset, but after a while I began to realize it's just the way things are, at least for me. Shit happens, things change and what got cut down usually makes good compost for what's to come later. No point in crying over lost flowers, so I think I'll just open a beer and raise a toast to those different blooms I'll see down the road someday. And no matter how hard it tries, life has yet to kill the optimist in me. **Ann sticks her tongue out and says, "Ppphtttpt!" to life **

Friday, June 17, 2005

A KNOCK AT THE DOOR...PART TWO.

When the wagon came for me, and they pulled me up from the pool of my own blood, they realized I was still alive. So they air lifted me to intensive care and saved my life. I had been shot 14 times, I lost a kidney, my knees were mincemeat, my chest was a connect the dots of .270 rounds, nothing vital hit, if you don't count lungs. But medical science had come leaps and bounds and they saved me.
After 2 weeks in intensive care, they arrested me. In my hospital bed. After 6 weeks, they interrogated me. demanding to know my affiliations and connections.
I told them...I was affiliated with the local 520 of the international brotherhood of electrical workers. I had no connections except this guy I knew from high school that I bought weed from once or twice a year.
They wanted to know about the guns. All legit and registered...sorry, no conspiracy here fuck-o's.
They wanted to know where I recieved my training that enabled me to kill 9 of thier own...no training bucko, your guys were pussies, I'm just good like that. Never underestimate a patriot, right?
They didn't like that answer. Then they brought up the BLOG. Where I had written things against the government. In between my posts about my turtles and my dogs and how much it sucks to be a struggling electrician, that blog?
They said yes...you wrote things against the government of the US of fuckin' A and it's leaders...I appeared on thier "radar" as a "threat".
Admit it,they said. You are a subversive terrorist combatant. I said what? Do I get to choose one of the three?
Quit joking around they said, did I realize I was facing the death penalty for killing those agents...those sterling representatives of "homeland security".
I told them to fuck off...you come to my house in the middle of the night unannounced with an SUV full of armed agents and try to hijack me? Fuck that and fuck you. And now you're trying to tell me that it was about my blog? My blog that had pictures of gardens and butterflies and dogs and gardens with the periodic posts about what a fucked up world we live in? It is my first amendment right to call bullshit when I see it politically, and this administration ( lets all laugh together ) is more full of shit than any other one to date.
You came to my home, you threatened me, I defended myself and now you want to make it out that I just slaughtered those assholes? Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.
I love my country, but you assholes are ruining it for us all in short order...you took my life away 2 months ago, fuck you...give me the needle.
I thought after that they would leave and I would be in short order, tried , convicted and executed as a treasonous gun toting BLOGGER.
Imagine my surprise when the next words out of his mouth was you're pretty good with a gun, wanna join the team?
So...lemme see...short trial, death penalty, years of appeals on death row or out on the street with a badge and a gun?
Hello homeland security!
I was in like Flynn...only I had other plans.
6 weeks later, they gave me the list and pictures and passports.
I was on the inside.
GAWD AWMIGHTY I'M TIRED

We pulled our wire today...x4. The gauge wire we're dealing with weighs about a pound per 2 foot length. Three of these, plus a ground wire @ 220 feet each = 330 lbs.. for the big wire and about 30 or so for the ground...360 lbs.. to pull and it's covered with the electricians equivalent of astro glide.First, you push the fish tape through, then you attach the 1/4 inch rope to the fish tape and pull it through. Then you attach the wire to the rope and pull the wire through, all the while applying copious amounts of "cable lubricant". It's a fucking work out, let me tell you.
But enough about that. On to my new and semi regular installment ( only because these niggas are stand up high-larious ) ...

OVERHEARD AT WORK TODAY

(Excerpts from a discussion of cunnilingus)

Alligator balls : Hey man, do you ever stick your head on that shit and push in and rub it around?
Coworker: Nah man...I ain't into that freaky shit like you, besides, I got hair up here (rubs head) and you is a bald motherfucker.(for the record, AB's head is smoove )
AB: Shee-it man, don't make no difference, she gots hair down there too. Man, you don't know what you missin' when she bust a nut on your head (makes trickling motion with fingers to simulate busting of said nut...on his head )
Coworker: You didn't go there.
AB: Damn right I did! Wanna smell my moustache? Go ahead bro...I been smellin' it all day.
Coworker: No...
AB: (interupting) Man you ever wedge your chin in there and just unghhhhhhhh...rapidly moves chin from left to right...don't even try to tell me you ain't never done that shit.
Coworker: Yeah man, I'm cool with the chin thing...I just ain't into that freaky shit like you is.
AB: Wanna smell my fingers? C'mon man...maniacal laughter ensues.

Another worker brings me my material, and I slide on out of there, shaking my head.
Just another tricky day...
Must ... blog ... something
I've been so tired this week that I haven't had the energy to form a coherent sentence. Or even an incoherent one. But I'd be pissed later if I didn't at least mention that the corn sprouted and it was about an inch tall when we got home today and Rob noticed it. Does it grow an inch in a day? I swear there were no sprouts there last night. In other news, I worked M-F this week so I have a real weekend for a change. There's even a 12 pack of beer with my name on it, but I think I'm too tired to drink it. And that's just wrong, wrong, wrong. I better summon what little energy I have left and go pop the top on at least one. Just for the weekend's sake. And who knows, maybe it will energize me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

OVERHEARD AT WORK TODAY

To a crowd of 10...

XXX: Man, Don't forget...I'm a half a century now! Shee-it...man, when I take a bath my balls float on top of the water like alligator eyes...That's why I take motherfuckin' showers....Pealing maniacal laughter.
Crowd of 10...Pealing maniacal laughter.
On the way back to the truck....Lee: "Did he really say 'alligator eyes'? Me: "Yeah...funny, huh"? Lee: "Yeah...I guess"...
THERE WAS THIS KNOCK ON THE DOOR

I didn't hear it at first, the bellowing of the dogs woke me up first, then I heard it. Not a frantic knock, like a neighbor in crisis. I'd heard that knock before, and this wasn't that. It was an authoritative knock, the knock of someone who means business. Law enforcement has a knock like this, I remember from the noise complaints from so long ago. The odd thing was that it didn't ramp up to pounding, just that knock.Persistent and unnerving. It was also 2:30 in the morning.
I pulled on a pair of shorts and a t shirt and got my 9mm out of the bedside table and, on my way to the door, peeked out the window to see a black excursion parked in my driveway.
This is not a good sign I said to myself as I approached the door. I released the safety on my 9mm and looked out the door window.
I could see one man, who looked alot like the guy from the matrix that dogged Neo, and in the shadows just beyond my visual reach, I thought I saw a couple of other figures. I looked at my 9 and thought better of it and retrieved my 12 gauge from the hall closet. With a round already racked in, it was just a matter of releasing the safety...a silent operation.
I answered the door.
"Can I help you"? I inquired, my shotgun well below his field of vision in my darkened house.
"Are you XXXX XXXXXXXX"? Was the reply.
I responded, " Yes I am, why"? "And what are you doing here at 2:30 in the fucking morning"?
He said " I'm detective XXXX with the department of homeland security, we have a search warrant to ..."
And that's when I shot him.Through the screen door. He flew back about 8 feet and crumpled to the ground while I racked another round.
The shadowy figures came out into view, drawing thier guns and I shot them both...
The excursions doors flew open and 4 more men piled out with automatic weapons, I released a volley of buckshot alternating with slugs until the shotgun was empty. I whipped out my 9mm and fired wildly suppressing fire and slammed the door and threw the deadbolt.
I hightailed it to the back of the house and retrieved my SKS and reloaded my 9 and my shotgun. I grabbed a flashlight out of the pantry, told my wife to stay put in the bedroom and climbed out the window into the back yard with my guns.
As soon as I hit the ground a flashlight beam caught me, I rolled and opened up at the light with my SKS. 15 rounds later, the flashlight fell to the ground and rolled away.
Shots rang in from the other direction, I rolled, but not soon enough catching one in the forearm. I dropped my SKS and responded with 14 shots from my 9mm, another flashlight hit the ground and rolled away, useless.
And then it was quiet for a while, long enough for me to survey the damage. There were nine agents of the government dead or dying on my property, and all I had was a grazing wound to the forearm. I found the guy who had fucked up my tats and put him out of my misery. BOOM! Fuck you bitch. Try and take me...you can't.
I will live free or die.
I opened the gate to the front yard to a hail of gunfire, and as I lay dying, they stormed the house...killing my wife and my dogs.
In the name of homeland security.
And then the alarm went off.
And I woke up and went to work, wondering what country I was living in, and feeling like in some real way, outside of my dreams, I had died. And I needed to cut back on the iced tea.
Dreams....man.


Monday, June 13, 2005

IS SIX FEET UNDER, UHHH, SIX FEET UNDER?

I caught the final season opener last monday, and all the while I was thinking...man! These people are fucked up.Why am I watching this shite? Now don't get me wrong, I have been a rabid fan of this show since the beginning, but something was missing...maybe it's me. I don't know. I'm watching tonight to decide...mind altering substances at the ready. I'll let you know in about an hour and 10 minutes.

TICK-TOK...

Wow...They close with "Back on the chain gang"...brilliant.
How do you run over yourself? Indeed.
ouch.
SO HERE'S THE (HAMMER) DRILL

You climb up the ladder, hammer drill in hand , in your pockets you have a pair of channel locks , two nutdrivers, 3/8" and 1/2" sizes , tape measure, ,and your trusty level....
On a previous trip up the ladder you have toted up your #3 sledge hammer , only to climb back down cussing under your breath, because you forgot the set tool .( My set tool is much cooler than this one as I've decorated it with red and black electrical tape, kind of a barber pole for the emotionally disturbed) you also have two lengths of all thread, several nuts and washers, a 12 inch length of unistrut and a pair of drop in anchors.
After you negotiate yet another fucking climb up the ladder, you realize you left the sharpie marker on the tool cart, so you climb down AGAIN and retrieve it.
This is when you've noticed you have hit a random button on your cell phone and have left a 10 plus minute voice mail of you clanging and banging up and down a 12 foot ladder to someone you know and love.
Then you arrange yourself amongst the myriad of pipes and ducts and racks already snaking along the ceiling and attempt to measure for your holes...2 1/2" off the beam and another 10 inches from there.
You hoist the hammer drill into position and drill the holes, when the concrete dust hits your face, you curse, by the time you drill the second hole, all you can taste and smell is the dust, which smells vaguely of burnt hair, your blue shirt is now a kind of crap gray and your forearms look like a statues concrete appendages.And you're sweating, because it's fucking hot 16 feet in the air.
Pound in the anchors after you feel every pocket to remember where the set tool is...screw in the all thread hand tight and finish with the channel locks, cinch up the nuts and level the all thread. Drop level.
Climb down the god damn ladder and retrieve level. Level the other piece of all thread. Attach one side of the unistrut while simultaneously laying in the conduit, attach the other side, drop washer, pull throw down washer out of your shirt pocket because you will not climb down and back up that ladder for a fucking fender washer. Level pipe, attach straps using nutdrivers x2. Insert 10 more feet of conduit, climb down with your arsenal of tools move ladder 8 feet, repeat ( in this case ) seven times and in the process have to bust through two cinderblock walls to get there.
Go to lunch.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Looks like we're about to piss off the neighbors
Half of the 10 X 5 raised bed is done; weeds pulled, dirt poured in and seeds planted. Rob's convinced the corn is going to piss off the neighbors, what with it eventually growing to 8 feet high and looking like, well, like corn. Not that he cares if they get their panties in a wad, nor do I, but I remember the fuss in my parent's neighborhood when someone decided to turn their front yard into a vegetable garden rather than a vast expanse of St. Augustine lawn. The neighborhood consensus was that vegetable gardens are messy and untidy and that they should be hidden from public view. I remember thinking at that time that life is pretty damn messy and untidy and all those manicured lawns were just a way of people fooling themselves into thinking they had some sort of control over the chaos. Can't change the fact that your boss at work is a jerk and treats you like shit? Go zap some dandelions and pretend to be in charge of your own domain, at least until the cinch bugs hit. And I've never figured out the appeal of neighborhoods where all the houses look the same, the yards look the same and even the people look the same. This neighborhood started out that way 50 years ago. Every house built at the same time as ours has an identical floor plan, with a few minor differences in lot and front door placement. Our house is actually the odd man out with the kitchen located where the dining room usually sits (a really stupid idea, but we've learned to live with it.) However, after 50 years of remodels, additions and a variety of unusual individuals coming and going, the street no longer looks like a cookie-cutter neighborhood. Interestingly enough, my parent's neighborhood, where every house was custom built and no two are alike, looks much more homongenized even though it was built at the same time as ours. Except for the couple who moved in after the veggie garden folks and decided to raise wild flowers in all those wonderful raised beds. Talk about messy and untidy, but hey, more power to them. It's a hell of a lot more interesting than a boring expanse of grass.
GAWD AWMIGHTY I'M HUNGRY



That spooge on his chin was a hunk of cat food bigger than his head that he managed to swallow by the time I got out the camera.Little bastard. He and his three siblings will soon be going to a new home...I initially wanted to keep this one, but they are a group that have been together for the last couple of years, plus he's very much a humanized turtle, meaning he is captive bred and identifies with humans as if they are turtles.A definite plus where he's going. My foreman has built a pen for them for his daughter Dharma...you remember her from the cordite fest, right?



That's her on the right.

It's hard giving up these babies, but I know where they are going and that they will be well cared for. Plus I'm available for consultation.
It's a win win.

PS: It appears we are #1 on google if you search for dave chappel/ lil' John. This cracks my shit up. G'wan...google it and see for yourself.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Beat the Heat
It's so hot in the house that the laptop won't stay on longer than ten minutes despite being two feet from the window unit a/c and raised up off the desk by an inch so the air can circulate underneath it. Rob was speculating that he'd be asleep by 4 pm today, but he beat it by 2 hours and has been napping on the couch since 2 pm. It's the only logical thing to do right now in these temperatures and I'd love to join him, but I was still drinking coffee at noon so there's no way I'm gonna doze off. I suppose I could leave and go some place with good air conditioning, but can't come up with any place I'd like to go that doesn't cost money to get in. Yeah, the stores are free, but I'd rather sweat than go shopping. The only free museums I can think of don't have parking and it's way too hot to wait for the bus. I could throw in a movie, but I'm not much of a movie watcher and there's nothing here I want to see for the umpteenth time. And the house is just going to get hotter over the next few hours so maybe I'll take a cold shower and head off to Home Depot. If I'm going to go shopping to cool off, I might as well go somewhere that has stuff I'd enjoy buying if I had any money to spend (which I don't.) And I'd take shopping at Home Depot over shopping at Target any day of the week.

Later:
The Home Depot was not the coolest spot in the world, but it was still an improvement over our house. I looked at some very cool, but incredibly expensive doors. I'd have to be pretty damn rich before I paid $1400 for a front door. I drooled over the powertools and dreamed of someday owning a bunch of those nifty solar powered landscaping lights. I looked longingly at the watering wands which would save me the backache I get every time I water the veggies and I searched in vain for mosquito dunks for the ponds which is something I would have bought if they had them. I did get some seeds; Kandy Korn which is supposed to be a good corn variety for this area, some more standard straight-necked yellow squash to plant amongst the corn, along with some Patty Pan squash and some kind of bush zuchinni to plant in pots. I have neither pots nor dirt so I'll have to get creative. Maybe Rob will let me steal some dirt from the turtle pen that's in need of repair and not housing turtles right now. There's a lot of good rich dirt in that pen and I hadn't thought about it before, but turtle pens are a sort of compost pile. They are kept shady and moist with regular applications of mulch and plenty of veggies and fruit thrown in (turtles are messy eaters and some it ends up in the dirt rather in than turtle tummies), plus the turtles dig and keep the dirt turned over on a regular basis. The pens are always full of earthworms too. The turtles snack on the worms, but there never seems to be a shortage of worms. Sounds like good garden soil to me.

PS - Never mind on the idea of using soil from the turtle pens. Turtles carry samonella and it turns out that it can remain viable for at least 280 days in the soil. The pen hasn't been retired quite that long so I'm glad I researched it first.
Posted by Hello
The second cherry tomato plant is running way behind the first one on production, but here's a shot of it's first fruit. I've learned that I need a lot more than two plants if I want enough tomatoes to feed the turtles twice a week. It looks like we might get one squash off this vine before the borers kill it off. I suppose I should plant a lot more vines next time since I want squash for us as well as for the turtles. I also have some tiny green beans growing now. I should be outside working on the bed for the corn, but my desire for fresh picked sweet corn isn't strong enough to motivate me to pull up all the weeds in that 5 X 10 foot section of the yard in 90 degree heat.
THE WORK THAT I DO

We're on a pretty big job in one of the engineering buildings that involves some pretty big equipment and 3 sizes of conduit...2", 1.5" and 3/4" . The 2" conduit only runs about 100 feet, but the 1.5 and 3/4" will end up running about 300 ft. each. The machine room hums like a hive there are so many switch gears and transformers. I took some pictures.

This is where I spend a lot of my time...up inside the suspended ceilings.You can see our pipe running along the left wall, all neat and professional.


This is a 120/208 volt switchgear...the silver pipe coming out of the top is ours, I had to drill the hole for it and then stick my hands inside to attach the connector...nerve wracking.


This is a 277/480 volt switchgear...where our 2" conduit originates... thats it on the right.I had to drill this one out too. Miscalculate the depth or drop something on the bars and it's arc city and time for a trip to the burn unit or the morgue.


Some seriously big circuit breakers...the kind you have to wind up with a spring fulcrum.

When I started this job a year ago, this kind of stuff terrified me...not so much anymore. You just have to be careful.
Very very careful.

And here's a treat for suffering through my electrical picture story...enjoy.....




I loves my little turtles :)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Allergies and stuff
Allergies have been kicking my ass this week. Naturally they would kick up on a week that I was scheduled for 10 hour days. And it was a week that turned out to be pretty damn busy at work as well. Double whammy. I've been dragging around, getting nothing done and realized today that I hadn't checked my personal email in an entire week. I don't think that's ever happened before. There might be something of interest or importance in there amidst all the spam (though gmail does a pretty good job of filtering it), but I haven't the energy to deal with it right now. Nope, I'm focused on doing a blog post about nothing because I get really frustrated when I go back to see what was happening a year or so ago and I find that I posted NOTHING, not even some boring stuff about doing laundry or cleaning out the cat box (not that we've had a cat box to clean in the last 10 years or so.) So, on with the blather.

I finished off my work week today (woohoo - entire weekend off!) with a particularly gnarly day consisting of way too many hour long calls which will drive my call stats for the month into the ground. Normally L1s like me transfer calls to L2s after 15 minutes, but I whined about this a bit because it means I never get to learn much. As a result of my whining, I'm frequently left to flounder about and figure it out which as far as I'm concerned, is a good thing except that it trashes my call statistics. Although I've recently learned that my average call time is one to two minutes below some techs that I consider to be much better at this stuff than I am so I must not be doing too bad at things. However, I got a QA observation review today that was only a 90 which is not good so I guess it's still a mixed bag as far as my performance goes. I know I put way too much effort and concern into a job that pays squat and will go nowhere, but I can't help myself. It's how I operate and I can't seem to change. The realization that hard work and effort doesn't always pay off was a hard thing to swallow and I guess I haven't quite accepted it as fact because here I am busting my ass... for what? It is just the knowledge when I go to sleep at night that I've given it my best? Is that really worth anything?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The nonalcoholic hangover
Yesterday I woke up with the worst hangover I've ever had in my life except that I didn't drink a drop the night before. Even when I do drink to excess, I don't usually get hangovers because I tend to limit myself to beverages that don't cause that reaction in my body. But every once and awhile I'll socialize with a group that convinces me to try this or that drink with a silly name or I'll get talked into doing a shot (or two or three) of some strange substance. Which usually leads to my drinking even more drinks with silly names or more shots of liquids that resemble brake fluid and I'll have hell to pay the next morning. So it was a bit frustrating to wake up yesterday feeling that way without any fond memories of a rip-roaring time the night before. No, it was just an evil combination of hormones, allergies and arthritis cleverly mimicking the effects of a night of partying. Hormones provided the all-body puffiness required to produce the telltale "pillow marks" on my face. Allergies added the red-eyes, splitting headache and complete lack of energy. Arthritis kicked in to contribute the after effects of dancing for hours or arm wrestling or other assorted excessive physical endeavors I might engage in after consuming large quantities of alcohol. Unfortunately the activities of the night before were simply washing five loads of laundry, hardly the thing to cause me to say "Ah, but it was worth it," the next day. And to add insult to injury, I had to go to work and be nice to idiots and assholes for 10 hours. When your parents tell you as a child that "Life isn't fair," this is the sort of thing they are talking about.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

While the dry spell at work is over for the time being and I'm back to 40 hours a week as opposed to the 24 hours each week for the last three weeks, I wonder how long it will last. My foreman did a great job of juggling us IJ's so there were no lay offs (24 hours is better than none after all ) but our already rickety ass budget was almost down for the count. The new contracts came just in time.
I keep reading things about the economy, and none of it is good news unless you buy into the bullshit pouring out of the bush white house. A very small percentage of americans have outpaced (by a long shot) other americans who earn between 70 and 100,000 dollars a year (those were the days) by virtue of the bushites, saddling them with the bulk of the tax burden on the way to being dubbed the "hyper rich". Those making 70,000 and below maintain by increasing debt and juggling bills and rent and/or mortgage payments while keeping fingers crossed that no one in the family falls ill or they get their job outsourced from underneath them. The middle class no longer exists.
I haven't seen any recent stats to back up my next thought, but I think it has merit.
I predict a sharp increase in crime over the next 5 years. Bank robbery, burglary, drug dealing, car theft, petty theft, that sort of thing. Desperate people do desperate things. I wouldn't put it past anyone who was hungry enough, whose kids were hungry as well, shoplifting food.This is after the unemployment runs out and you lose your house and the food banks and other resources are gone because of budget cuts.Some peole are too honest to resort to criminal behavior. I saw one of those folks today, standing on the stoop of a church in soiled clothes talking to himself and waiting for a handout. You can't rely on the kindness of strangers for very much when they are half a step behind you on the road to ruin.
So, the question for me last night was what would you be capable of doing if push came to shove? Rob banks? No...too risky, someone could get hurt or worse,killed. Burglary? No...I'm not wrapped like that, I couldn't steal from people in the same boat as me. Deal drugs? No...even when I sold pot to my friends in high school the anxiety surrounding the consequences wasn't (well, almost wasn't) worth the huge sums of money I made, but I'm older now and more anxious. Steal cars? that's for the bored teenagers of the hyper rich...a lark I have no interest in.
I decided I would be better off struggling along like I have been and hope for the best...2009 isn't that far off, right? Right?!
But if you ever see me on a church stoop talking to myself, keep in mind how I got there and if you're able, throw me a bone.
It's a scary world out there, more so for some of us.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Garden Update
The healthy green bean plants finally have some blooms. The sickly green bean plants haven't died, but they haven't grown either and they seem to be in some sort of plant stasis. The squash appears to have been hit by squash vine borers, but the cherry tomatoes are still doing well and providing our turtles with a ripe tomato or two every other day. The pepper plant... well, I'm not sure what it's doing. It looks better than the sickly green beans, but also appears to be in stasis. The beets perked up a bit after Rob moved the pot to the shady side of the yard. Only a few seeds sprouted and I think it's too hot even in the shade to hope for much more than that. And I may try my hand at planting some sweet corn this month. The spot I've picked is less than ideal and even if it does grow, there's a bevy of raccoons that live in the neighborhood so my odds of actually getting to eat any self grown corn are pretty slim. But seed is cheap and it's something to do with that part of the yard.
SID AND LUCKY

Sid, the horribly ill tempered blue tongued skink passed off this mortal coil the other day, bummer. He was a fixture in this house and a part of the family for years. Longer than he should have really, as far as skink years go and considering the life he had before I rescued him from that dark lower shelf at the pet store so long ago.
And then there's Lucky, a malayan box turtle who was sold to the original owner a "chinese box turtle". Lucky didn't thrive because the care info given at the point of sale was WRONG. It was apparent to me when I met the owner to take possession. Malayan box turtles are semi/permanently aquatic turtles, they have webbed feet fer cryin' out loud, and have dietary requirements above and beyond what the pet store employee told the original owner. Lucky has thrived here for 6 years, but over the last week has not eaten a thing. I was convinced that Lucky was just in a finicky stage, but with the passing of Sid I began to worry. When I first got Lucky, he was like an empty box weight wise, but with my knack for turtles he was soon heavy and grew quickly. He didn't display any signs of illness, he just wouldn't eat the usual tropical fruits offered.
So I had to get creative...I bought a small package of cocktail shrimp and put Lucky in the sink with luke warm water and dropped some of the shrimp in there with him and BAM! he was on those shrimp like stink on shit. 25 shrimp later I was relieved and Lucky was sated.
Fucking turtles.
Losing Sid was hard enough...Losing Lucky would have really sucked.I knew he was being finicky.
You got yer horse whisperers and yer dog whisperers.
I guess I'm a reptile whisperer. Go figure.

I don't know why I like this picture so much since it's just some junk on our deck. Maybe it's the shadows. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 03, 2005

NOW THAT I GOT THAT PESKY CREATIVE SHIT OUT OF THE WAY

I can get back to railing against the man...and the man this week is one donald rumsfeld ( no caps because he does not deserve it ). Back before the the war, he was all about the CREDIBILITY and TRUSTWORTHINESS of amnesty international ( circa 2003 ) reports on human rights abuses. When amnesty says GITMO is like a russian gulag, Rummy is quick to say that they have no credibility and can't be trusted. You got Rummy singing the praises of amnesty in 2003 for the run up to the war in regards to the reports, but now, they are not trustworthy and hold no credibility since they are saying bad things about the horror the GOP is pushing to justify the rape they are commiting on the world.
How can he support amnesty in 2003 for the reports on bad joo-joo in iraq and dismiss the allegations regarding gitmo today?
Because he's a lying pile of dog vomit...just like his minions and his leaders.
And we let them get away with it.
We should all be ashamed.
Are we all liars? Looks that way to me.
How can they get away with this shit?
Liars...fucking liars.
The end is nigh...I'm glad I'm armed.
HYPOCRITE

(short story...parable...life...whatever)


The intervention was set up for a friday afternoon, 4:30 as I recall. The subject was a 35 year old wanna be rock star with a minor in retail sales. Apparently, over the past ten years he had tempered his failures as a rock star with a mix of drugs and alcohol, and that mix had finally caught up. But what do I care? I just get these families together and orchestrate a confrontation...a last resort sit down to convince the subject to pull his or hers head out of their ass. That pulling to be assisted by the agency I work for, a treatment center specializing in anal-cranial extractions for all manner of loser, lost soul, mid-life crisis victim. You name it, we'll crack it. For a price.
I show up 30 minutes early to meet the family members taking the circle...the circle of chairs. I got the wife, a pitiful doormat who probably has skeletons of her own...they just haven't started dancing outside the closet yet...pillhead I'm guessing. She's brittle as a fourblock of graham crackers, sweet and crumbly but you don't know how much of the block your gonna get when the pressure's on, I gotta watch her. Then there's his parents, decent folk who love the guy but never understood his passion for the rock and roll and forgot a long time ago the disparaging comments they made when he was starting out in high school, comments he has never forgotten. They greet his every morning like a thunder cloud. It used to be his inspiration to carry on but now, with middle age just around the corner, its a slap in his face. Then there's grandma ( sans grandpa, who died last year and supported the subject much to her shagrin ). And even though she loves him, I can be sure that anything she says will be filled to the brim with that overbearing guilt trip that is unique to grandmas.
I have to keep her in check, for me she is the wildcard. If I play her right, he's bagged. Then there's a couple of cousins who I can tell won't say much for fear of the subject revealing shit about them...it's a kind of familial give and take and nothing to worry about.
Then there's the friends...just like the subject, frustrated people...disatisfied people...talented people with secrets of their own, most of which are shared by the subject. I have to keep these people in check, focused on the concern for the subject lest they open themselves up for a defensive attack regarding their own bad habits from the subject. I need to keep the focus on the love and concern for their friend and not on the role they played in his descent (however direct or indirect) into hell. And I will call it hell...a lot. These people are all catholic...summoning hell is an effective tool.
The subject arrives 15 minutes late, he seems surprised, but not really, to see his family and friends gathered to potentially alter his life...I know he knows he's been fucking up and I play it to my advantage...after the introductory statement by me which is rote by this stage of the game, the subject thinks these people are gathered here by love and concern, and while that's partially true they just want the bullshit to stop. They want him right again, on track and focused like he used to be. And between my bullshit and the heartfelt statements of grandma ( wild card pays off!!! Yes!!!) and the (just to be honest) mamby pamby performances of everyone else involved, the subject admitted himself voluntarily to the hospital i freelance for. Yes! Score!
I know they'll be calling me again.
I rolled up at my house at 8:30 and walked inside, exhausted from my day of saving souls. In addition to getting the subject admitted to treatment, I single handedly empowered and convinced an entire family into thinking they had made a real difference. I had earned my commission.
I cracked a beer and sat down at the counter in my kitchen, and while I scratched out a line of meth on the mirror on the counter I thought to myself..."self...you are really good at what you do". And I am. Thirty minutes later I called my grandma, who backed me up.
I got a three o'clock tomorrow...heroin addict.
I need to make some phone calls...research you know.
Gotta understand those junkies...right?
Apparently I have "cool" hair
I got yet another compliment on my hair today and this continues to leave me baffled. It seems I had my hair done right before I got this job seven months ago because there are no roots showing in my new hire photo taken about a week after I started there. My hair grows about a half an inch a month when it says on my head (I shed worse than a dog) so my roots are a bit over 3 inches long now. While I had pretty much accepted the fact that it would be a long time before I could afford to dye my hair again, I never expected to get compliments on the results. It's most amusing when people ask me "How did you get your hair to do that?" in reference to the silver roots. I guess grey hair is such a rarity these days that folks don't even realize it's a NATURAL COLOR.

On another note, I've been pondering just what I would choose as the stupidest thing people say when they call tech support. I've decided that it's the threat to get the tech support rep fired. For one thing, this is similar to telling a child that you are going to take away their broccoli. Secondly, reps that are doing their job well are not going to get fired because someone threw a temper tantrum and reps that suck don't give a shit if they get fired. It's a complete waste of breath. The number two item on the list is to inform the rep that you are a stockholder in the company. This is always said in a threatening manner, but I haven't quite figured out the threat. I should treat someone better because they are a stockholder? Our policy is to treat all callers well, even assholes. Personally, if were a stockholder I'd want grandma to get the same treatment as "Joe Stockholder" because it's all the grandmas that make the company money. But what do I know, I'm just a grunt.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Some good news for a change
It turns out I might be a better phone support tech than I think I am. I received some nice compliments today and a small increase in pay. Woo-hoo! We celebrated by having beef for dinner. The grocery store had ground brisket (raw) on sale and Rob cooked it up every bit as tasty as a steak might have been. We also had garlic mashed potatoes and bread with gravy. Yummy! Dang, there was so much more I wanted to post about, but it was VERY busy at work today and I'm completely pooped out. Let's just say it was a banner day and I've been smiling since this morning. That hasn't happened in a very long time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

It was an interesting start to the day. I woke up a 3 AM to a lot of booming thunder and flashing lightening. I spent an hour and a half trying to sleep through it with no luck. I decided at 4:30 to just get up and that's when I discovered my clock was wrong. It was really 3:30. Screw that, but I did have to go ahead and let the dogs out before I went back to bed. You see, if I stir just a bit too much in the morning, in a way that might indicate I was about to get out of bed, the dogs leap into LET ME OUT mode. They don't do this with Rob. Rob can get up, get ready for work and leave without them moving an inch. All I have to do is stretch and I've got jumping and barking dogs on my hands. So I let them out and then went back to bed and actually managed to get another couple of hours of sleep. After I finally did get up, I made coffee, cranked up the computer and was met with the blue screen of death. The driver for our wireless antenna causes this at times and considering we left the antenna outside in the pouring rain during the middle of a major lightening storm I wasn't too surprised. What did surprise me, after I had enough coffee to catch a glimpse of the what was written on the blue screen of death before the damn thing rebooted for the umpteenth time, was that it wasn't the antenna driver this time. To make a long story short, it was a program conflict and it was fixable. However, that took up most of my day since I decided that rather than just uninstall the offending programs that I would go ahead and clean out a years worth of junk and install a long list of updates and upgrades that I've been putting off. It took me most of the day, but it was good feeling to get that done. And much to my surprise, the wireless antenna still works. Well, off to bed for me since I didn't sleep late enough this morning to allow me to putz around on the internet past 10 PM.