Tuesday, January 25, 2005

all about me and my comfort zone

This morning I showed up at the client site, and was shown to the room where I'd be working. There was seating for about 20, a lectern with a microphone, and a laptop & projector shining onto a large display screen at the front of the room.

The laptop wasn't connected to the remote site I needed to access, and the people who were supposed to set up the connection weren't answering the phone -- they were on the west coast and still asleep. Worst of all, the person who had scheduled me wasn't the one paying for my time, and the purpose of my visit in the first place was only vaguely defined. I had expected to do a consultation -- lots of give-and-take, half a dozen people max -- but clearly I was going to have a crowd, and they were expecting a presentation.

It was an interesting feeling to know that in a half hour a bunch of people I didn't know were going to be sitting in those seats, and I was going to be standing behind that mic typing who-knows-what into the laptop and talking. What I was going to talk *about*, I wasn't sure -- I looked forward eagerly to hearing it myself.

Anyway, it all turned out okay -- I tap-danced for a while until I was able to get the connection set up, then did an impromptu presentation on the stuff they wanted to discuss. We actually accomplished what they wanted to get done, and my contribution was well-received.

Wouldn't want to do it again, tho -- that kind of mental stress wears me out. At the end of the day I met up with another consultant I know on this project. The first thing she said was "Are you okay? You look like you really need a drink." :-)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

it's all your fault

As humans we have a tendency to invoke general rules and high-sounding principles when they can be made to support our position, but to ignore them when it doesn't suit us.

We're all for tort reform when we think someone else is cashing in on a minimal injury, but when Walmart's insurance company wants to send us a big check for breaking a fingernail on their packaging, we're suddenly about "Big companies taking responsibility for their actions" or whatever.

When our neighbour's teenage daughter gets pregnant, we're for Discipline and Personal Responsibility. When it's our daughter, we're for Love and Understanding.

I've heard white people blame the *person* when the perp is black, but blame the person's upbringing when they're white.

I've heard people say both of these things:

1) Well, of course [black person] is selling drugs -- but have you considered who's BUYING them? Who's creating the market? The problem is mainly the white middle-class buyer -- the supplier's just filling a need, making a buck.

2) Well, of course [black person] is using drugs -- but have you considered who SUPPLIES these drugs? Who flies them into the country in bulk? The problem is mainly the white high-level supplier.

IOW, we apply philosophical rules to suit our needs at the moment. Generally, it's to make something be someone else's fault. And we all do it, constantly.

Friday, January 21, 2005

what's up, doc?

Pet store animals cooked in school Fri Jan 21 2005 08:35:35 ET
A Guinea pig and rabbit purchased from a Geauga County pet store ended up on plates at a Cleveland area high school.
A 16-year-old student skinned and cooked the animals during a living skills class on Wednesday, prompting student and parent complaints to the Thompson Township Police Department and Geauga Humane Society. Officials at both agencies said they are investigating.
Friday editions of the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER detail how the incident may warrant animal cruelty charges.
Geauga Humane Officer Sarah Westman said it's illegal to needlessly kill "companion animals" raised for domestic purposes.
"Something irrational and wrong happened," Westman explained.
Ledgemont Principal Beto Gage acknowledged that "misjudgments" took place but said the boy's actions are far from criminal.
The student - whose name was not released - described what he did in terms of harvesting meat to fix a dish for classmates, Gage said.
The principal described the boy as an active hunter. The Ledgemont district covers the rural communities of Montville and Thompson townships, where killing - and then eating - wild game is fairly common.
The hunt, however, usually doesn't take place at Pet Supplies Plus.
The boy went to the Chardon store and purchased the Guinea pig and rabbit after coming up empty in the great outdoors.
"My skin's crawling over this," said Linda Schempp, a spokeswoman for the pet store chain. "We sell our animals to be family pets - not food."

Oh, for heaven's sake! Get a grip, people. If you're a vegetarian, fine -- I respect your position. But if you're going to eat meat, it doesn't matter where it came from. Whether an animal is a "pet" or "food" is entirely -- ENTIRELY -- in your mind. If you've been humane in how you killed it, what possible difference could it make whether the animal came from the pet store or from the wild? It's dead, it doesn't know the difference. If the people who ate it don't care, why should you? Why should it be illegal to eat a pet-store bunny, but okay to kill Bambi if you're out in the woods?

Some Russians I know won't eat pumpkin pie, because to them pumpkins/squash are pig food, not fit for humans to eat. They look at it the way I might view the Eskimo eating fish eyes, or and Englishman eating blood pudding. Does that mean pumpkin is inherently wrong to eat?

I can understand if a person -- as an individual -- wishes to put a certain value on a certain animal (or group of animals), and to think of them in a certain way (eg, chickens and antelope are food, dogs and parakeets are not). But that is THEIR deal. It's a rule for THEM to live THEIR life by. It has nothing to do with how someone else should behave. I am under no obligation to order my life according to your arbitrary prejudice regarding the proper role of various life forms, or your squeamishness and embarrassment about being on the top of the food chain.

How about turtles, antelope, insects, pigs, buffalo, snakes, peacocks, kangaroos, etc etc etc? Or even beef. There's not exactly worldwide consensus on what's food and what's not. All those whiners in Ohio should just shut up already, and concentrate on raising money for tsunami victims. Or better yet, spend some time working in the soup kitchen and get some perspective on hunger.

OK, I feel much better now.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

fish story

link here

Apparently people are concerned that fish are eating dead bodies of tsunami victims, so many restaurants want their suppliers to assure them that their fish dont' come from the tsunami region.

Do we need to say how silly this is? What do the people imagine fish eat normally? They eat pieces of dead each other. They gulp each other down alive like popcorn. They eat other sea-animals' doo-doo. Aren't shrimp like the little garbage-suckers of the sea? The entire ocean is full of dead & rotting plants and animals. People eat carp, for pete's sake!

Which reminds me:

What's the difference between a lawyer and carp?
One's a scum-sucking bottom-dweller, the other one's a fish.

And while we're on the subject, what's wrong with cannibalism if it's an emergency and the person's already dead? I dont' get that. I understand being squeamish about actually having to dress out Aunt Tilly, but a lot of people seem to have a big moral issue about the consuming-another-person issue per se. I mean, the dead guy wasn't going to be using that quadriceps any more, was he? So what's the big deal? Next they'll be saying Woody Allen shouldn't marry his step-daughter. Wait, that was me saying Woody Allen is a total loser.

Well anyway, I had a point, and I'm pretty sure it had to do with how much smarter I am than other people. If you need to know anything, just ask.


As linked on drudgereport, FEMA has a game on its kids' pages you might want to check out:


It says "A tsunami has just hit FEMA Beach and has rearranged a few things. Please put the 9 objects back where they belong to see the cyber-prize!"

I assume this was created *before* a big wave killed a quarter of a million people.

I suppose instead of just putting beach balls and starfish back where they should go, the updated version will have the kids burying week-old corpses in mass graves, rebuilding entire towns, and re-creating destroyed economies...

Monday, January 17, 2005


Here's a story:

My very good friend Larry hired me to do work for a company he managed. Larry's boss Jake (the owner of the company) had a BBQ -- my family and I were invited because I was Larry's friend. It was all white people.

One of Jake's guests (a 100 yr-old white southerner) at the BBQ decided it was appropriate to tell the following joke:

The redneck gets the day off from work.
When he asks why, he's told it's in honor of MLK Jr.
He says "If they'd killed 4 more, we coulda had the whole week

The reaction varied from polite chuckles to uncomfortable silence.

So the question is: what should I have done, if anything?
On the one hand, change happens when people are willing to speak up. If only some people object to objectionable things, then offensive people will just save their message for when those people arent' around, thinking that their own attitude is how everyone *really* feels inside.

So do I let the guy know I was offended? The joke wasn't even told to me, I just overheard it. It wasn't my party, and Jim Crow wasn't my guest. What is my obligation to my friend Larry, because of whom I was invited, and whose job/security/family might be affected by my actions?
And if I was going to speak up about it, would it be appropriate to do it in front of everyone, or would it have been appropriate to take the guy aside later, privately, to voice my objection?

In general, good manners dictate that in social situations we don't confront people whose philosophies differ from our own, even on issues we're passionate about. If I'm staunchly anti-abortion, would it be appropriate for me to confront someone about it at a party? How about if I'm anti-gay-marriage, or anti-slavery-reparations, or anti-catholic? Is it that if we're *right* we get to confront, but not if we're wrong? That's not a very workable rule since we all think we're right.

What if the guest had done something else that offended me, like belittle or emotionally abuse his wife in front of me? Arguably the harm done by that would be more definite, immediate, and personal than the potential harm of telling a joke -- polite/nervous chuckles notwithstanding, possibly there wasn't a single other person in the group who agreed with this guy's take on racial issues. And I would have been reluctant to interfere with their marriage. Do some issues (eg, race relations) enjoy special status, allowing us to set aside normal rules of social conduct in order to set others straight?

What I did was ignore the situation, and that guy, for the rest of the evening. If someone else would like to tell me what I should have done, fire away...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

hockey chicks

Alert: this is not interesting, exept to me...

Last night's game wasn't a regular league deal. The wife of one of the guys on my regular team is putting together an all-women's team for an upcoming tournament. They had a scrimmage against a local women's team, but this local team is so good, the tournament team asked me and a couple of other "smelly boys" to come and give them some physical presence on the ice.

Anyway, we got beat. The team we played is extremely disciplined and well-coached. They don' t have a lot of speed or power, but they know their positions and will beat you with passing every time if you're not organized.

I had two goals, both extremely cheesy: one I punched out of the air with my top stick-hand, but the ref apparently thot it was with my stick because he allowed it. Or maybe you can do that, I don't know -- I've never seen it happen before.

The other one was on a slow whistle -- their goalie covered the puck with no one around, so there was no face-off whistle. When one of my teammates showed up, the goalie was in the process of lifting her glove off the puck -- my teammate poked the puck to me, and I put it into an empty net. The other team was really mad about that one (girls are so cute when they're angry).

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and we lost, but it was a lot of fun.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

snowbody knows the trouble i've seen

Today it has been COLD up here, out on the edge of the prairie...

Actually, there's no prairie but there is a FREEZING wind. We had hail/sleet/frozen rain for a couple of hours, which turned to snow as it got dark, so the roads are 1-2" of snow over ice.

I was dealing with this in what I thought was sensible fashion -- by taking a nap on the couch -- when my wife called to say she had put the Explorer in the ditch on her way to the grocery store.

When I got there a couple neighbours were already there chatting in the blowing snow -- one of them had a 4WD vehicle so we hooked on a tow strap, put them both in 4-low, and he pulled me out. No rollover, no damage to the neighbour's ditch -- all good, no-harm-no-foul.

I was happy about this whole situation, as only a husband can be when his wife screws up and therefore will have to refrain from dispensing opinions/advice for a few days. Except that now she doesn't want me to go to my hockey game tonight because it's "too dangerous to drive".

So it didn't turn out quite so cool after all. Oh well.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bloggers' Rights

There have been a number of articles and blog posts lately about people being fired for blogging. Or more specifically, for posting things their employers didn't approve of.

Example here. Bloggers' Rights page here.

I posted the following as a comment on someone else's blog that I like, and when I re-read my comment I liked it so much I decided to post it here. Perhaps now I will be ostracized by the blog community, but at least now everyone can learn to think correctly about this issue.

You're welcome.

Yes, some companies seem to have gotten a bit over-exuberant in their reaction to blogs, i agree.

but the key issues seem to me to be:

- blogs are a form of publishing, and as such subject to libel laws

- blogs are not private. by their very nature they are a public activity.

- your expressed opinions are your own private issue UNTIL you begin to mention others (eg, your employer) in a public and recognizable way.

- companies have a right to protect their brand. it doesn't matter if YOU think you haven't defamed their brand -- it's not YOUR brand, and you don't get to decide how it should be presented to the public. how they want to present themselves is up to them. they can fire you for being too NICE about their brand if that's not what they wanted you to do. it's THEIR brand.

- free speech is not the issue here. no one is saying you can't blog about your employer. what they're saying is "we do not wish to continue paying you to blog about us in a way we don't approve". there's a huge difference. i submit that
anyone who thinks this is "censorship" lacks a clear idea of what censorship is
and has never actually experienced the real thing.

Many of the companies in question have been hasty and humourless. You don't need a hammer to kill a fly. Often the firing brings much more attention to the issue than just counseling the employee would have. And there mere act of blogging should not be cause for any discipline unless that's spelled out in the employee's contract beforehand. But overall, it seems to me that bloggers are being a bit unrealistic, self-centered, and overly defensive about the issue. There is no God-given right to blog what you want AND work wherever you like.


Another school story...

I’m ten yrs old, in grade 6. I stay after school one day to finish painting a poster I’d started in art class. I have to pee, but I don’t want to walk all the way down the long hallway and then come back again. Any minute now I’ll be done with this poster, and then I’ll be able to just stop by the washroom on my way out of the school.

I work feverishly, eventually doing the full-fledged wee-wee dance as I put the finishing touches on my poster. I slap the final bits of paint on, grab the poster, and dash out of the classroom.

I’ve left it rather closer than I intended – my bladder feels like a basketball, and I begin to question whether I’m actually going to make it to the bathroom. I break into a run.
I slide around the corner into the washroom and skid to a stop in front of the urinal. I have made it. Hoorah.

I’m not sure if this next part will make sense to everyone, but here it is: for guys at least, there’s a tiny delay from the time when you tell your bladder it’s okay to let go until the little water stream actually makes it to the freedom of the outside world. So you can actually relax just a fraction of a second before you’re technically ready to fire, as it were. We do this operation five or six times a day, so we eventually get pretty good at the whole timing thing. We’re a precision-tooled machine. So to speak.

So anyway, we left our hero standing before the urinal, finally able to relax and let go. Which he does, with a heartfelt sigh of relief. But then, disaster strikes. At the crucial moment – during that fraction of a second between Go and Fire – his equipment catches on a fold of his underwear, and he’s unable get into the ready position. The Mother of All Urinations has begun, and little charley is out of position.

I eventually get things set right, but not before sending about a gallon down my right leg. To make things worse, I’m wearing light blue slacks (it was the 70’s okay?) -- the dark river down my leg is unmistakable, and probably visible from space.

The only thing going for me is that it’s late, and there’s virtually no one still at school other than a few teachers.

I stuff my now-totally-irrelevant poster into the trash can. I glance up and down the hallway, then sneak down the stairs to the first floor. I do a kind of cops-clearing-the-house thing around each doorway as I make my way out of the school.

Eventually I’m outside. I run across a busy 4-lane road rather than take the overpass, for fear of meeting someone coming the other way. I sneak thru back alleys and hide behind trees on my way home.

My best friend Ryan happens to be coming home late from school also, and he calls to me to wait up. I run away, down side streets, around corners. I flatten myself behind some bushes in someone’s yard, hoping I’ve lost him. I look up to see a woman staring at me from behind her kitchen window, wondering why a strange 10-yr-old is lying on her lawn. I pretend to be out of breath (Just resting here on these pine-cones, ma’am. Nothing to worry about.)

Ryan does not follow me. I find my way to the alley behind our house and sneak in the back door. I get cleaned up and sneak my pants into the laundry. All is well.

The next day a teacher pulls me aside. “I saw you going home last night,” she says.
My heart sinks. My secret is out. The whole school will know.
But it turns out she just wants to lecture me about running through the traffic instead of using the overpass. I listen attentively, and nod vigorously when she’s done. Yes indeed, Mrs.Kaiser. You are so right. I will never do that again. I don’t know what I was thinking. I will never do that again.
And I didn't.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

These boots were made for walkin'

Schools in cold places don't go in for that open-air-separate-buildings thing, where classrooms all open to the outdoors. Where I went to school there was a building entrance, a huge bootroom/cloakroom, then hallways that led to the classrooms. Kind of like Hogwarts, only completely different.

Anyway, school rules said you had to leave your boots in the bootroom, and wear runners (tennis shoes) or stocking feet in the rest of the school.
One day after school -- about 3rd grade -- I remembered I had forgotten something inside, so I went back in w/o taking off my boots. I glimpsed a friend of mine alone in the library and went over to say hi to her. She looked up and pointed behind me in horror -- I'd left muddy black bootprints all across the blue/gray carpet. I gaped for a second, then ran for it.

The next day we had a school assembly, during which the principal mentioned that "some clown" had tracked mud all through the library. My friend, who was sitting near me, looked at me and mouthed "YOU." I shook my head and frowned in feigned puzzlement and annoyance (ie, What in the world are you talking about?)

The "incident" appeared in our student newspaper as well. I was anonymous, yet famous. When my dad read the paper, he asked "So, did they catch you yet?"
I once again feigned ignorance, and pretended I thot he was joking. Later reflection led me to conclude that my friend -- who lived down the street -- must have shopped me to him. Why else would he say something so odd?

In any case, I was never caught and Dad never mentioned it again. Years later, I mustered the courage to ask him if he had known I was guilty -- he said he didn't even remember the incident. So I guess I've gotten off scott free. The perfect crime.

I didn't say this story had a point.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Middle school lameness

I am 11 yrs old, starting 7th grade -- "grade 7" actually, since this was in Canada -- at a new school.

This is not the school where all my friends have gone. That school was nixed by my mom, because during the summer we had attended a screening of some family movie there, and it had been a madhouse. Kids were running around, throwing wads of paper, yelling, etc during the movie. Mom was extremely annoyed with the lack of adult supervision and determined then and there that her son would never attend that school. I understand her thinking and I don’t blame her, but in retrospect I wonder if grade 7 might have been something other than the most miserable year of my life if I’d been able to go to school with my friends.

But I digress. My point is to pick a story of social misery for your enjoyment.

Gym class (Fizz-Ed, if you’re Canadian).
Having skipped 1st grade, I was younger than the others. I was also physically very slow to mature. I was the oldest of my siblings. Bottom line: although I’d seen my father getting out of the shower a few times, I had never seen a teenage boy naked. Now for the first time, we’re dressing down for Phys Ed, and I am astounded to see numerous post-pubertal 12-yr-olds. I am surrounded by pubic hair and gigantic male genitals. It is a shock. I had assumed that kind of thing didn’t happen until a guy was about 20 yrs old. And so the guy across the bench from me looks up to find me staring open-mouthed at his crotch. He gives me a sneer and snarls, “What are you looking at, fag?”
For the rest of the year, this guy harasses me. In the bathroom he threatens me, calls me a faggot, etc. And I am clueless – I don’t know what “fag” means, I don’t know why he has chosen me to pick on, I don’t understand why he’s always angry at me. He’s muscled, hairy, aggressive. I am small, childlike, and weak. It is unpleasant.

One day my dad drops me off at school on his way to work. At 11, I’m emotionally still a little boy, and since my family is very huggy/kissy, all my life I’ve kissed my parents hello/goodbye/good night/etc. This morning I give my dad a smack on the lips as usual, and get out of the car. A group of students sees the kiss, and as I go by them into the school they begin to call me names: fag-boy, etc.
This adds to my gay reputation in the school, at least with some students. If I had actually been gay (and aware of it) I think it would have been dreadfully hurtful. As it was, it was bad enough, but I didn’t even know what homosexuality was at that time – all I “knew” was that kissing my dad goodbye was something stupid and risible and bad.
From that day on, I stopped kissing or hugging my father -- on some level I assumed that at a certain point for men all physical intimacy must be construed as sexual, and I associated hugs and kisses with being a child.
I was an adult before I was able to process and understand what had happened, and it was difficult to re-establish some level of physical intimacy with my dad. I don’t know what he thought – he didn’t come from a kissy family, so maybe he didn’t miss it. I hope it was not hurtful to him, but I fear it must have been. I regret very much that I allowed myself to believe something that robbed me of closeness with him.

Although I was years away from puberty, I already felt a strong sexual attraction to girls. I had no chance with them, but I dreamed of the day they’d notice me. One girl in particular I found extremely attractive. It would have been nice if the one that most appealed to me had been one with unconventional looks and hidden inner qualities, but it wasn’t so. The object of my admiration (okay, lust) was of course one of the most conventionally attractive and sexually mature girls in the school. Her boyfriend was huge -- a sports star and popular figure named Glen. In the hall one day, Glen says, “Hey man, lend me 50 cents.” I give him 50 cents, partly because he was so big, but mostly because of brilliant reasoning along the lines of: “If I loan Glen 50 cents, he will like me. If Glen likes me, probably his girlfriend will like me, and before you know it she and I will be together.” Or something. Whatever it was, it was pathetic.
The next day I said to Glen, “Hey, do you have the 50 cents I loaned you?”
Glen looked at me and said, “What 50 cents?”
So, it didn’t work out exactly as I had planned, but at least it was still pathetic...

Why I hate John Grisham

I will concede JG sometimes comes up with a good story. But many of his plots -- while interesting -- seem to have a fundamental flaw that I can't get over. Examples:

The Chamber - Young new lawyer takes on death penalty case of his uncle (or whatever).
The problem: the guy being defended *deserves* to die. I couldn't rally behind the cause at all since afaic, that's what the gas chamber is *for* -- to kill people who bomb churches and murder little black girls.

A Time To Kill – Dad shoots his daughter's rapists, goes to trial.
The problem: You feel for the dad, and root for him, but when he goes free in the end what we're celebrating is an extremely unlikely miscarriage of justice. His lawyer’s closing statement is basically that "vigilante-ism is okay because the crime was so heinous, and because you (the jury) would feel differently if the girl was white instead of black."

The Client – A kid witnesses a mafia murder in the woods. Now the kid wont' talk because he's afraid the mob will kill him.
The problem: their motivation to silence him would at its absolute highest as long as he *hasn't* testified. As long as the kid hasn't yet said anything, they can move freely (ie, they’re not arrested) and they have a huge motivation to bury the secret before it gets out.
If I'm a bad guy, and I find out my witness hasn't talked yet, do I think
"Cool, he hasn't talked yet. That probably means he'll never tell, so let's leave him alone on the chance that the most influential people in his life -- law enforcement, his parents, etc -- will be unable to convince him to spill the story."
or do I think
"Cool, he hasn't talked yet. I still have a chance to get off scott free if I can just silence him for good"
I'll tell you the answer: it's the second one.
As soon as the kid tells what he knows, their only motive would be revenge (not nearly as strong a motivator as survival). He'd likely be *safer* if he told since
a) Then the bad guys would have other problems on their hands (ie, arrest, defense, etc),
b) killing him would now be more difficult because of the scrutiny on them, and
c) killing him would no longer benefit them.
Every second you remain the Sole Holder of the Secret is another second where you are the Prime Target. It made no sense to me at all.

And beside all that:
1. He writes ludicrous dialog.
2. His sentence construction and general usage of language are amateurish. His vocabulary is miniscule. He uses words/phrases he doesn't know the meaning of.
3. He sometimes attempts to address issues (eg, poverty, racism) that he has only the barest understanding about, and comes off as an idiot.
4. It annoys me that he’s become fabulously wealthy peddling this crap to an undiscriminating public, while thousands of authors who are in every way his superior struggle to make a living at their craft.

But other than that, he's great .

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Oh, Canada

Note: the story below is unfocused, rambling, and nothing actually happens. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

I spent the first 6 yrs of my life in Illinois. Then my dad got a new job, and we moved to Alberta, Canada. Dad had taught me to read when I was 4, so by 1st grade, I was far ahead of my age peers in some school skills. In my new school, they bumped me up to a mixed 2nd/3rd grade class. I was the youngest kid, the new kid, and the only American kid.

I shed my American accent within a week. I made some friends, and began to assimilate.

One day in class we were talking about Canadian history, or geography, or something. The teacher said something like “We live in Canada. I’m a Canadian. How many of you are Canadians?” Everyone, including me, raised their hand. The teacher looked right at me for a minute, but she didn’t press the issue.

I’ve always wondered what her point was. Maybe she wanted to provoke discussion or something, I don’t know. Maybe she wanted to see what I would do. But I still can’t believe she would expect a seven-yr-old in a new environment – one in which acceptance and assimilation were hard-won prizes – to publicly declare himself the odd man out, the weirdo, the one who’s Different.

So I lied. I betrayed my country. But it was worth it.

a partial list of things our cat brought into the house

baby rhinoceros
garter snake
bob barker
miscellaneous other birds

most of these little woodland creatures were already dead by the time the cat got them into the house, but some were still technically alive, providing him with many hours of amusement. his favorite were birds that could still sort of fly -- they would lurch spastically through the air, into walls, etc, leaving feathers and blood everywhere...

the duckling was alive, and we released him back into the stream at the rear of our property.

the snake was dead, but didn't realize it right away.

my wife locked the chipmunk in the bathroom. he tore around the room, jumping crazily from towels to bath to sink, and ended up falling into the toilet bowl. we're not sure if if he was just clumsy, or if it was a suicide attempt.

i was just kidding about bob barker. and the rhinoceros.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

what i had for breakfast today

4 eggs scrambled
home fried potatoes
3 small sausages
2 pieces of mango
2 slices of toast w/ strawberry jam
orange juice

i think in all it was about a hundred million calories. but man was it good.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


MONDAY, 7:06PM EST. Dulles International Airport.
Hi, this is Mark Bennett. Fine, thanks. I’m just calling to see if you can transfer money for me from one account to another over the phone. Yeah. Yes. Okay... Hi, my name’s Mark Bennett. Good, thanks. I’m wondering if you can help me transfer some money. Yes. Well, it’s from my business account to my wife’s personal checking. Yes. Yes, both accounts. Good, great… Um, 594-61-5515. Yes. January 12th, 1965. You’re welcome… Well, can you tell me the balance right now? My wife’s account, the one starting with 045... Are you sure about that? I just… do you have a record of the deposit I made Monday, for... yeah, that’s right, you have – okay. No, I’m not really sure. I don’t actually know, she didn’t – she just left me a message saying she was overdrawn. Okay, sure… I see. How many? Okay. Did you pay all of them, then, or... Okay, just three were... Okay. I’ll call the merchants and… Yeah, they’ll probably re-deposit. Okay. So the total charges are $175? All right. Well, better make it five hundred dollars. Yes, correct. From – right, the one that starts with 775. Right. Okay, good, thank you. Okay. Right, I understand. Thank you for your help. You too. Buhbye.

MONDAY, 10:17PM EST. Hilton Hotel, Poughkeepsie.

Hi, it’s me. Fine, no problems. Well, I was delayed at Dulles, they sent us – Yeah, I got it... Yeah, I already called the bank. Five hundred. Well, what did you need? Well… How many more? No, I mean how many dollars, how much? Well, how, why did – I know that, but couldn’t it wait until the 16th? It doesn’t matter how much, if we don’t have the money, we don’t have the – well, I’d rather pay full price a month later than blow our… Okay, fine, but where am I supposed to get – the money I transferred was supposed to be for taxes, now I won’t be able to… Yes, I know, but they haven’t sent it yet. I did, it takes time, they said they have a new person in AP or something. I *will*. The point is, in the meantime, you’re supposed to – I understand that, I just don’t have any more money to – what do you want me to do? That’s how much money I make, that’s how much we have. When I get paid, we’ll have – I know that, but if you could – look, that’s what we agreed on, right? If that’s not the right number, then we’ll need to – that’s what I just said, if that’s not enough, then we can readjust our budget, but I have to be able to count on – I understand, I know you don’t – I just can’t… Well, you need to keep track, you have to write it down, you can’t just do it in your head, that’s why this keeps – I know. I’m not telling you what to – I *asked* you how much, we went over this… That’s the point of a budget. Well, what do you want me to do? There’s a limited amount of money. You have to say no to some stuff to have other stuff. You don’t even have to say No, you just have to say Not Now, that’s all it takes, if you – okay, fine. Is that going to be enough? Just till the 16th, the check should be here by the 16th… Then I don’t know, we’ll worry about that if it happens. Well, that would be a bad idea, our house is attached to that. I know, but we can’t just tap into that every time we overspend our budget, then before you know it, you’re – well, it wouldn’t BE an emergency if you would just – okay fine. Look, never mind. It’s covered. I’ll figure out what to do when I get home. Okay. No, it’s fine. Yes. Yeah. Yeah… No, I haven’t – I *know* Hon, I just haven’t had time to do it. Well, I have a bunch of things to do, that’s one of them. I don’t exactly have a lot of spare time at home to – well, what do you want me to do, spend the entire weekend working, too? I understand, I will get to it when I can. I don’t *know* -- when I *can*. Well, why don’t *you* do it? Sure you can, all you have to – well, you’re the one who’s so bothered about it, why don’t – okay, whatever. I’ll do it. Yes, I’ll – I will try to do it this weekend, okay? All right, fine. Good. How’s it going today? Well, I mean besides the – yeah, good. That’s good. No, I think you’ll do great, that’s excellent. It’ll be good. Good. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Nah, just have ‘em call me later, before they go to bed. Okay. All right. Bye.

MONDAY, 11:01PM EST. Hilton Hotel, Poughkeepsie.
Hello, this is Mark. Hey, punk, what’s up? Nah, just sittin here waitin for you guys to call. Yeah, I’m watching a hockey game. New Jersey and Buffalo. Not bad, it’s 3-2, coupla good goals. Yeah. So how was your day today? Whadja do in school? Yeah? Well, that’s good, right? Cool. Did you do your homework? Great. Good job, bud. Thank you. What about your chores? Okay, well do them before you go to bed. In fact, you better give me to your sister and get going right now. Well, we can talk some more tomorrow, okay? Okay. Just ignore her. Just ignore her, she doesn’t – well, I don’t know what to tell you, son, just don’t pay attention when she does that. I know. I understand, but you bug her, too. If you left her alone, she wouldn’t be mean to you… Okay, well, good. Yeah, I know. Okay. Love you, son. See you in 4 more days, okay? I know, pal, but this is my job. I have to have a job, we need money, you know how that works. I am, son, but in the meantime I have to go where the work is. I know. You’ll do fine, just close your eyes, listen to that CD I got you or something. Not Linkin Park, not hyper stuff, something calm. Yes, you will. You’ll be asleep before you know it. And I’ll be home Friday night. No, late, my flight gets in at 10:30 or something. You can if you want, but you’d probably rather go to sleep and be rested for Saturday, then we can do something together, okay? Yeah, whatever, you think of something. I have to fix the driveway in the morning, I promised Mom, but in the afternoon, maybe we could go hiking or something. Or whatever. Well, we’ll see about that – I don’t even know if they’re playing this weekend. Okay, yeah, I will. Okay. Get your sist – okay. Yeah, I love you, too, bud. Okay, bye.
Hi girl, what’s up? No, Pennsylvania. Yeah, it’s cold. How’s it going for you? Uh-huh. Yeah. Well, did you? I don’t want to hear that, you speak respectfully about – I understand. I understand. It doesn’t matter hon, you do what your mother tells you to do. I don’t care, you do what she needs you to do, you’re not the one running the house, you don’t have to make everything happen, if Mom tells you to do it that way, you do what she says. I understand, hon, but how did you talk to her? Did you say, “Yes, mother dear, I’d love to” or did you possibly take a some other approach? It doesn’t matter, you just worry about doing your part. You need to cooperate with your – no, it doesn’t. When I say cooperate, I mean you figure out what the family operation is, and you change your plans to fit into it. That’s what cooperation is in this situation. If you be nice to your Mom, she’ll be nice to you. Well, what do you want me to do about it? We all have times when we’re not as patient, when we’re stressed... You can’t make other people’s decisions for them, you just have to worry about doing your part. You just control what you can control. I *guarantee* you, if you cooperate and be polite instead of making it difficult, that won’t happen. Well, have you tried it? Have you actually tried – okay, well do it some more. Well, what’s *your* plan? To be difficult and surly and then get all mad when your Mom gets upset? I understand, but not everything is under my control is it, or yours, or anyone’s. We all just do the best we can, don’t we. Yes, she does. You don’t have any idea what another person has to deal with. You just need to concentrate on your stuff, and take care of your own business, not your Mom’s, not your brother’s, not anybody’s. Yes, you do. Good, thank you. ...Friday. Yeah, Friday, late. Yeah. What about your homework? Well, what do you mean you don’t know, did you have homework or not? Well, look in your book, see if you have homework. Well, why not? That’s why they give you that book, so you can write down your assignments – yes, every day – what, do you think it’s just for like when you feel like it? You have to write your assignments down every day, then it’s simple, you don’t have to remember anything, you just look in the book. Yes. Well, you’ve got about an hour and you need to be in bed, so hurry up and figure it out. Yes, well do whatever you have time for. Whatever’s due first, whatever’s the easiest or most important. It doesn’t matter honey, just DO it, do whatever you can. Just DO it. Yes, you can skip the dishwasher till tomorrow, but then tomorrow you’ll have to do two loads instead of one on the laundry. Yes it is. Look, you’ve had like five HOURS to do homework and chores since you got home – okay, so that took what – 45 minutes? Look, let’s say you had two hours of other stuff to do, that still leaves you with 3 hours since you got home and you haven’t done anything. So do it. Just do it. It doesn’t matter, all that doesn’t matter, you just have to do it. I don’t care, look, do you think when you get a job you can just tell your boss “I had to do X, Y, and Z so I couldn’t do my job that you’re paying me for?” You can’t – all that matters is if you get it done or not. And it’s the same with homework. You can talk all day long about whatever, but the bottom line is you have to do it. Just do it. Just do it. Just. Go. Do. It. Okay, good. Okay. Okay, love you. Bye.

FRIDAY, 12:14PM EST. Pennsylvania Widget Company, Poughkeepsie.

Hey Brad, it’s Mark. Yeah, I’m at PA Widgets. Look, it looks like we’re a go here, but we need to be able to get them up and running by April. Yeah, this coming April. I know it is, but we can do it if we assign them the right techs. I know, but if we don’t, they’re going to put the whole thing off another year – and who knows what they’ll look at between now and then, or who will quit or whatever. I don’t want to start all over with these folks – they’re motivated, it’s a great fit, they’ve got the budget right now, and we just need to be able to deliver by April and we’re golden. No, they need somebody like Terry, or Rick. Or Jeannie. Who? Who’s that? Not a new guy, there’s no way. Brad, you know there’s no way a new guy could do it by April, no matter how – Brad, every time you say that, and every time it’s the same thing: we send the rookie and they get hammered, and the client gets pissed off, and the date slides, and we end up sending Jeannie or Rick in to clean it up anyway. If we just do it right for a change, we can get some referenceability in this area, who knows what else might heat up in this state if we have a good clean win with these guys. Come on, Brad, you can do it if you want to. No, I can’t do it, you guys have me booked every other week from now to forever. His Highness would never agree to it anyway, he doesn’t want to pay my rate to have me do tech work. I know they did, but that was an emergency. I’m telling you, you need to send one of the good guys. You’re not listening to me, are you. Fine, whatever, look, you can talk to them. I’m not going to be the one to say that this Alfredo or Alberto or whatever can get them live by April. You can tell them whatever you want, you know it’ll end up being August/September, and Jeannie will be here for three months anyway. Whatever. Okay, I’ll have him call you. All right. Bye.

FRIDAY, 12:14PM EST. In the car on the way to the Poughkeepsie Airport.
Hello, this is Mark Bennett. I just got a rebooking message saying my flight was cancelled… Yes, I, okay. Bennett, B-e-n-n-e-t-t. Flight 6014 from Poughkeepsie to Chicago, then to Seattle. That’s right. Bennett. I see. Everything into Chicago? Well, is there anything else? I know you did, but tomorrow morning means I lose half of my Saturday, I’m looking for anything else to the West Coast tonight. Through Denver, or Pittsburgh? What about another airline. I know it is, but I need to… How about Portland? Could you get me to Portland? Or Vancouver? I’m not picky, I just need to get home tonight. I see. Well, can you send me to Chicago anyway, in case the connection is also delayed? I understand, I’d just rather be in Chicago – well, I had a seat an hour ago, before you called me and rebooked me for tomorrow. I understand that, but I’ve made connections that tight before – I’d rather chance it and have to stay there than start from here in the morning. You can’t. I see. All right, well, can I get a hotel voucher or anything at the airport? Uh-huh. Yeah, I understand about weather. No, I'll find something on my own. Okay, so 7am tomorrow. 5:30, right, 7am departure. I’ll be there. Oh, no, great, never better. Thanks for your help. All right. Thank you.