Thursday, June 29, 2006

you don’t want to read this story

WARNING: perhaps not for the faint of stomach...

The people went away to Nicaragua for six weeks. They departed at mid-day, leaving their dogs locked in the kitchen with a couple of large (20”) meat bones.
My friend had agreed to house-sit/cat-sit/dog-sit, so I drove her to the house on the first day.
We got there about 9pm. There was a funny smell.
“Oh, I hope the dogs didn’t poop in the kitchen” she said.
We opened the kitchen door, hoping not to see a dog turd on the floor, and just stood there for a while.
There were two large bones (I think they were from a dinosaur) in the middle of the floor with all the meat chewed off.
There were various kitchen items strewn about the floor.
There was a large pool of urine.
There were numerous (ie, ~10) gargantuan piles of dog diarrhea covering the floor, the cabinets, and the dishwasher.
There was a pile of dog vomit (gray, with chips, if you’re interested).
There was half a pile of dog vomit next to the floor vent, the other half having gone down into the furnace duct.
There was on overwhelming stench, and two carefree dogs, clearly feeling much better, cavorting and barking and happy to see us.

The next hour was unpleasant. The End.

Friday, June 23, 2006

We're all human beans

...and human motivation is a fascinating subject. To me at least.
Anyway, here's an interesting theory about the topic from a post-apocalypse sci-fi novel called A Day For Damnation by David Gerrold.:

[You have] only two responses... Yipe and Goody. There aren't any others. Everything is variations on that. There isn't an animal on this planet that doesn't have that basic mechanism hard-wired into its cerebral cortex. That's your machinery. You can't not react with yipe or goody. And most of the time, just to be on the safe side, you react with yipe. So you spend ninety-nine percent of your life running your yipe machine...

I think the above may be overstated a bit, but I do believe that:
a) we tend to err on the side of fear (yipe) when experiencing new things, and
b) we're naturally predisposed to put things into one category or the other. Dividing the world into right/wrong, good/bad, black/white (ie, knowing whether something is a yipe or a goody) makes us feel more in control, less fearful.

It seems like we might all be happier if we learned to react more often with "Hmm" or "Wow" or "I wonder"...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

now THAT's good TV!

Or not.
Actually, I think this family should get some kind of award for being Very Nice But Utterly Useless When Being Interviewed.
I tried to think of a way they could have made the whole piece more boring, but the only thing I came up with was interspersing footage of the Bass Fishing Championships, which I bet would cause some kind of critical mass of boredom and probably make the TV explode.

This happened...

I worked with a guy named Mike, nice guy, ex-cop. He worked for a woman named Julie who was insecure and controlling and often rude.
One day he asked her if they could get a water-cooler contract -- you know, the water company delivers 5-gallon clear plastic jugs that you tip upside down onto the cooler and if you do it wrong the water sprays all over your pants, etc.
Anyway, Julie told him to get three bids so they would get the best deal. He thought that meant she was approving the idea, but when the chosen low-bid guy arrived, Julie stormed in and demanded to know what was going on, etc. She informed him he was supposed to get three bids, then show them to her, and she would decide if it was okay. So she's ragging on him in front of the water guy, who's standing there with 5 gallons (ie, 40 lbs) of water over his shoulder, and Mike turns to the guy and apologizes and explains that he messed up and he didn't actually have the approval to authorize the contract yet, etc.
The water guy looks at them both, smiles, and says, "Don't worry about it. My boss is a bitch, too" and walks out...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

buncha whiners

As previously mentioned, I played soccer regularly for about 20 yrs, and sporadically ever since. I love the sport. But just let me say this: soccer players are the biggest bunch of whinging, whining, sniveling, whimpering pansyasses ever.
It's a standard part of the sport that after being fouled or crashing into someone, you roll on the ground holding your leg (or occasionally, your head). This is so the referee knows it is right to give your team a free kick.
It's also (unfortunately) common procedure to take a dive if an opposing player bumps you off the ball. The most dramatic displays take place within the 18-yd box, since successfully selling a trip there means your team gets a penalty kick (ie, an almost-sure goal).
If your opponent scores on anything but a 100% clear-cut goal, the goalkeeper and various defenseman make dramatic gestures to the referee with their hands in the air, to indicate that the scorer was clearly offside (or charged the goalie, or used his hands, or or or).

I think it's embarrassing. The sport requires a lot of strength and toughness to play it right -- there's no need for all the theatrics that serve only to make soccer players look like total crybabies.

That is all at this time.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

More stuff by Sam

I would say I get to see about a tenth of what she draws. Of those, only a percentage are in electronic format so I can post them here. It's like she never stops drawing all day (her teachers are not always impressed).

Anyway, sorry the focus is so lousy on these...

I assume this is a protrait of David, but she didn't tell me that, so I'm not going to assume...

Friday, June 16, 2006

let the play say the thing

This is a thing my sister did and she told me I could make fun of her for it here.

In high school she was in a play. On the second last night she accidentally skipped ahead and said a line that was hers, but wasn't supposed to come up for a couple of pages.
This wasn't fatal to the plot, but unfortunately it skipped over lines that other actors had -- in some cases, maybe the only line(s) they had in the play.
After the play, they let her know that she had messed them over, and she said she was sorry, etc. So that night, she went home and studied her lines extra carefully, so as not to do it the last night.
Oh, no, wait. What she actually did is
1) forget all about it, and
2) do it again exactly the same way the next night.

She said to me "But maybe they were some of the same people who made fun of my clothes." IOW, then they would have kind of deserved it. I think that's exactly who they were -- in fact, I bet they swore at their parents, stole from the blind, and threw rocks and kittens, and should have been left out of the play from the beginning. That's what I'm going to believe, anyway. :-)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Uncle Raul

When I was 11 and living in Calgary AB, my uncle Raul came to visit us. He was on his way from Chicago to Los Angeles; he and his friend Ken were going to see if they could get into movies.

When Raul and Ken were staying with us, they needed money, so a friend of ours hired them to do janitorial work at night. They were US citizens and they didn’t have work visas – I imagine they just got paid cash, but at 11 yrs old it didn’t occur to me to ask.

Anyway, one night they’re driving thru downtown Calgary at 3am in their beater car with Illinois plates, and the RCMP pulls them over. The cop gets out of the car, leans against the fender, bites off a bit of toothpick, spits it out, and says all Cool Hand Luke-ish “So. Where ya from?” It didn’t go well from there, but at least they didn’t get arrested.

They did, however, get deported. My mom & Raul drove over the border into Montana, stayed the night, and came back in the next day; Raul stayed most of a month with us before leaving for LA.

Ken didn’t come back, but went on to LA immediately. He eventually starred in a few movies and TV shows, the most famous of which is probably Wiseguy. Ken looks sort of like Christopher Noth, but he is not him, he is a different guy.

Raul is happily married with a daughter.

Ken retired and devotes his time to gardening and counseling young teens. Oh no, wait, that was someone else. Ken married Corinne Alphen, had a kid, got divorced, had a motorcycle accident, went into alcohol rehab, and last I heard has 3 or 4 kids and is married to his third wife, the extremely-unappealing-in-fact-downright-scary-looking Shane Barbi.

In looking for a link for this post, I noticed Ken has a website, but it takes FOREVER to load. Not that you cared.

Monday, June 12, 2006

art girl

Sam's a bit compulsive with the painting/drawing, but the results are interesting.

The bottom of her dresser drawer fell out. David or I would have nailed it back in. Sam got out her paints, Sharpie pen, and whiteout, and did this instead:

Russian Lady (pencil shavings and water):

Another Victorian Lady (in pencil on the kitchen counter):

Oh, hey, finally something done in a normal medium! Belly Dancers (pen & ink on paper):

they make me laugh, so i don't kill them

My kids have a weird sense of humor.

I come into the room, my son is lying on the floor reading a book. I say "Whatcha doin?" He glances at himself, his book, looks at me, and completely deadpan says "Making chili."

I'm shopping with my kids, shortly after having told them about the then-impending divorce. My son asks if I will buy him some small item, I forget what it was. I said, "Well, this is the time to ask. Typically parents feel so guilt-stricken and worried that their kids are messed up about the divorce that they spoil them for a while." Later that evening, my daughter is reading a comic book at the kitchen table. I say "Sam, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded -- that's your job, and I've already reminded you once." She looks up from Archie & Jughead and says with studied seriousness "I think I'm just too messed up about the divorce to unload the dishwasher."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I played soccer

... from the age of 12 till I was 19.
Somewhere in my middle teens I had a pair of shinpads that my mom got ahold of one day and drew on. I'm really not sure what she was thinking, but you can bet she knew that having shinpads with XO Love, Mom on them wasn't a step on the road to coolness and admiration by my teammates. Anyway, thanks Mom, you ole kidder, you. This is why I'm 41 and still wet the bed...

Friday, June 09, 2006

whining on a Friday

Sometimes I look at an invention and can’t imagine how we did without it.

Okay, that’s not true. What I really do is look at an invention and think “Wow, it sure is better to have that invention” but that’s not as cool or dramatic as not being able to live without it. Or whatever.

But my point is that the list of things I’m really glad to have includes:
  • Velcro
  • Ziploc bags
  • Tupperware
  • Breast implants (just kidding)
  • The plastic thing that lets you adjust backpack straps easily instead of having a buckle
  • Cell phones
  • Computers
  • Microwave ovens
  • Thongs peeking over low-cut jeans
  • Everything about dentistry
  • CDs/DVDs
  • Contacts
  • Lasik surgery

I notice I don’t think that about things not invented in my lifetime, like:

  • The wheel
  • Zippers
  • telephones
  • voting
  • rubber
  • plastic (except when a rubber/plastic version of something – shoes, glasses – is way better than the original kind)

But you know what? That wasn’t really my point either. My main point is that sometimes I look at stuff and think: someday there will be an invention (or maybe just a policy change) that makes us go “How did we ever live with the inconvenience?”

The one that tweaked me yesterday (for the 1000th time) was the garbage receptacle found in fast food restaurants, and other places that should know better. You know, the ones that have an opening in the front covered by heavy swinging door hinged at the top.

They keep the garbage covered (no flies, no smell) and I imagine they’re easy to maintain. Other than that, they are the work of Satan.

They’re highly difficult to use. I’m pretty sure they were the winning entry in the Most Worthless Trash Receptacle Thing competition.

To put anything in, you have to push open the door with one hand and put the trash in with the other. So it takes two hands to throw away a paper cup, and it’s still difficult because pushing on the top two inches of the door gives you absolutely no leverage.

You *can* push the door open with the actual garbage, but you run the risk of the door swinging back onto your fingers. Also, when you push the door with your hand, remember that half the people before you have used the push-with-the-garbage method, and you’re touching where their half-eaten Chicken McGreaseLumps were smeared a couple of minutes ago.

If you try to dump a whole tray in, the door knocks the empty food & drink containers onto the floor – all very inefficient and unsatisfying.

Other things in the “why are we still doing it this way?” category include:

The little plastic bags in hotel wastebaskets that are too short for the basket – so if you throw in, say, a crumpled post-it note, the entire bag falls to the bottom of the can with a little swishing sound.

Stoplights that don’t have sensors. It’s so efficient to sit for 5 minutes at an empty intersection as the light cycles, knowing that the flip side of having a less corrupt police force (ie, one that pays some attention to the Rule of Law) is having cops who think it makes sense to ticket someone for blowing a light at an empty intersection at 1am.

The feature in Microsoft Excel where if you try to select a couple of rows beyond what’s being displayed, the scrolling takes off like a bat out of hell and you end up selecting something like sixty five thousand records. Come to think of it, the “why are we still doing it this way” question could be applied to a number of things that Micro$oft has done, but then they also give us compatibility across a wide range of applications, plus the whole subject is only interesting to about zero of the people who read this blog.

I'm sure you can add your own (much better) examples to this list…

i have nothing to say

so once again, stolen from nerdygirl: coke & mentos

plus: the cautionary tale

Thursday, June 08, 2006

you might want to check this out

geeky stuff

Calendars have always seemed interesting and confusing to me. ("That must be wonderful; I don't understand it at all!") I think I was 30 before I figured out how and why leap years work, but when I did, it was really cool.

Anyway, my point is that it seems to me it would be much simpler to have 13 months: 12 of them would have 28 days, and the last month of the year ("Bryanember") would have 29.

Leap years would still be necessary: every 4 yrs Bryanember would have 30 days (except when every 4 yrs falls on a year ending in 00, unless that year is also divisible by 400, or whatever the rule is).

Bryanember 29th (and 30th, when it exists) would always be a gov't holiday.

Think how easy things would be:
  • Each month is exactly 4 weeks long, except for Bryanember, which has the extra day.
  • Every month starts on the same day of the week all year. Next year, the months all start on the next day of the week (leap years, two days ahead).
  • Payroll would be simple: semi-monthly and bi-weekly are the same thing; no 3-paycheck months to deal with for bi-weekly payrolls; FLSA rules would be much easier to administer. Okay, I got sidetracked there, but the point is it would be really easy to figure out how many days it is between April 11th and November 8th.
  • Planning vacations would be simpler.
  • Months would match the moon's cycles.
  • If your wife/girlfriend operates on a 28-day schedule, it would be easy to keep track of -- the 11th thru the 14th (for example) would be strawberry week every month all year long, and you could plan accordingly.

I realize this will never happen because of the logistics of changing it, but if it ever comes up to a vote, you know which side I'll be on...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I have recently stopped participating in the church I have been a part of since childhood.

This likely means nothing to a lot of people, but it’s a big deal for me.

It is a very close, very caring fellowship. It has meant everything to the rest of my family. It produces people with wonderful qualities, and has been a tremendous source of comfort, peace, and strength to many people I know. In fact, it used to do the same thing for me, but I find myself without the necessary faith to accept its well-defined and exacting picture of the nature of God and the universe.

To get a sense of what this means, think of the scene in Fiddler On The Roof when Chava tells her father that she wants to marry Fyedka, who is a gentile.
Think of telling your Southern Baptist parents that you’re gay.
Think of telling your gay parents that you’re going to work for the Christian Coalition.

None of those things is really what it’s like, but they may give a sense of the seriousness of the family feelings that accompany this. My family & friends have been very loving and will not shun or reject me, but they feel a tremendous amount of concern and sadness. While it’s easy to *say* that I have to let them own that, it’s not necessarily so easy to do…

laundry service

At my house, we divide the dirty laundry into three piles:
  1. Lights (bleachable loads)
  2. Darks/Colors, and
  3. Mediums (anything really light, but not bleachable).

Samantha's contribution to this process is basically limited to creation of the cartoon below...