The Daybook, circa 1900 The Daybook

"Hello, yeah, it's been awhile. Not much, how 'bout you?" – England Dan & John Ford Coley, 'I'd Really Love To See You Tonight' (1976)
   One of the things I dislike about my parents is that we will go months without talking, then when we do speak what they say implies it's only been a week since the last conversation. I don't mean that in the "it's like we were never apart" way people say about friends, I mean there will be huge chasms in the data where I have to stop them and ask what major developments leading up to that statement they've just glossed over. (To which I get an "oh yeah, you don't know about that, do you?") I'm not picking on them at the moment, I'm using that factoid as a preface to how there's a lot that I am leaving out of this post. Some of which I'd love to write, and will when and if I ever get to work on my autobiography because parts of it are pretty major... but I don't think I want to reveal right here, not yet. I made a few people cry, including myself, and this is not something I am proud of. You know that thing people say about reinventing themselves? I've attempted to do that, but the problem is that I'm using upcycled materials and the existing foundation; it's like one of those flipper homes from TV where the inside is mostly gutted and redone with available materials, but nothing was done about the outside to improve the curb appeal so people only see the same old house. One thing I can tell you is that Cheddar Meatloaf, my orange cat-bud of 13 years, had to go off to kitty heaven earlier this year at the age of 17; he stopped producing poop (his major industry) and as a result mostly stopped his food intake, which lead to weight loss, and even being cleaned out and given laxative didn't cause his innards to do their job, so I had to have the vet put him down. I was there petting him in his last moments because I made a promise to him when I got him at the Humane Society that I'd never let him go, and I was true to it. That was hard. He now resides in a tin on my mantle. Months later a new cat entered my life, a 4 year old calico girl by the name of Pistachio Underfoot. She's sitting on my desk staring at me, so I keep headbutting her.
   Last year I worked at a bank – I know, I said I'd never do that again but they were different, or until my supervisor and the boss both put on a pantomime about being sad they couldn't keep my group due to funding, yet the other six people I worked with are still there a year later, hmmm – and this year nothing happened until I took a seasonal temp job with an outdoor equipment retailer's call center. (Applied in May, job started in October... That's a whole lotta twiddle-time.) I just want to get through the month of December and then find a new adventure, to answer the questions people ask about whether one wants to or can stick around, because I would love to be working in a different department but I don't really see myself continuing what I'm doing now, plus I can't get into the cult mentality a lot of people there have about the company and its products. Last Christmas Eve I drove 70 miles north in the afternoon to see my sister's family, got home around midnight, then left the house at 5:30 a.m. Christmas Day to go to the Oregon coast to see my parents and my brothers' families, and got home at 11 p.m., for a grand total of 700 miles in 36 hours. This made me feel good that I'd made the effort to reconnect, but this year I'm not going to my parents' house, I'm going to limit myself to my sister's place. If you know me, you have some idea why I'd bring up seeing family, something a lot of people take for granted but I can't because I've been estranged from them so long that nearly half of my neices and nephews I'd never met before that day. In not much R.A.T. news, I've seen Chrome #1 for a weekend this year, we've been kind of out of touch, and haven't heard a word about Emmer #3 so can't speak. I did finally get around to updating the Daybook and the Rotating Rant after months of hoping to take a few minutes then failing to do so... A bit of cleanup and rearrangement will happen soon, it's time for me to put the posts prior to today into a history file, as I used to do yearly.
   I'm happy to be here. That's what you need to know, and what I need to remind myself.   --#2

   I had been working in customer service for a cellular provider (I won't name them since this page does show up in Google searches, as someone I wrote about informed me with a stern face) for a few months. One thing that should give you an indication about the place is that my training class had 36 people in it – and there were 3 classes going on concurrently – and by the time my team hit the floor only six people survived to take calls, which whittled down to three after two months. It was two when I had to part company with them six months later; Leon the quiet grafitti artist and Haylie the obese chick with the daddy issues are likely still there. The end came for me when the company made some bad decisions and expected its employees to mop up the mess. Here's the short version: The company I worked for was an outsourcer, one of several that the cell provider used for taking its calls. In order to gain some traction and favor, in the autumn the outsourcer said they'd ramp up their production (take more calls), and they had at their disposal unlimited overtime hours budgeted. Well, sure, a lot of people thought this was great when they volunteered to take more hours, and contests were run with bonuses to get people to work longer and take more calls, yet most people have lives and families and responsibilities. Work/Life Balance, as they say. So the outsourcer shifted from asking people to telling people they had to put in an extra hour this week. Then it became an extra hour every day of manditory overtime – a 45 hour work week. Well, sure, the other five hours were at time-and-a-half pay but this wasn't what we signed on for, and people with daycare for their kids and other jobs and so forth were like "wait...". I didn't have any extra things in my life, but that doesn't mean I want to be there more than 40 hours a week. This is where I fill in a blank: Unlike some jobs where there actually is more stuff to do so they can justify overtime or quibble about how they can't offer enough overtime to get to their quota... this place didn't have that justification, there weren't enough calls and the extra hour every day was pretty dead, so the "extra" calls everyone was taking to help the outsourcer meet its new agreement came out as more like 2 to 4 per person, not the usual 6 to 10. In the name of greed the outsourcer had overstretched the supply of available calls, regardless of available hours or available labor, thus wasn't going to be making its promise even if everyone showed up for work and stayed an extra hour a day. So anyhow, they didn't tell anyone at first they were expected to put in extra time, they were just scheduled for it and it was debateable where people noticed. Time passes and the supervisors were being chastised for the 'lost' overtime, so much so that if someone legitimately called in sick – despite everyone else being there and putting in the extra hour – they still considered it a huge hardship, and so they started cracking down on people who weren't doing the overtime, such as myself. (Yes, that makes sense, get rid of people who aren't working 9 hours and taking 64 calls in a day, thereby losing out on the 8 hours and 60 calls in a day they were taking and, surprise, putting the outsourcer further into their contractual hole. Their call, man.) I didn't feel that bad as I was walked out of the building, it was as though the 1,000 to 1,500 calls per month I'd been taking, winning the bonus contests and so to speak I'd already taken my bonus hours' worth of calls during my shift, when the average was 800 and they insisted they needed more calls taken to fulfill their unrealistic contract terms just wasn't good enough. Their loss. I was gotten out while the gettin' was good and they could only find ways to make it worse, unless possibly maybe they admitted the unrealistic numbers and renegotiated the contract again to plausible levels. Yeah, that'd happen...    --#2

   Hello, remember Say Something Cryptic? Yeah, hi. For a period of years I was updating this page between twice a week and twice a month, then I got a little lazy, then when the urge to speak came to me I'd post something on the 'Everyday Stupidities' Blogspot page, then I burned out on that, and occasionally I'd have something to say but not often and I'd post it on whatever forum I happened to be using, and a month or two ago I realized I had things to say so started posting to this new social network site a week after its inception, but after a week or two I was uninspired (by the place and the people primarily) so faded out of that. So this brings me back here, the place which I'm paying $30 a year for the domain name and $18 a year for the webspace to have. I can't promise I'll start being verbose again or follow the established Daybook posting style, but judging by how my last post here was two years ago and my last login was one year ago to add some stuff to the FAQ/FIA I've been away too long. Chrome #1 gave me an update to the Likes page maybe a year ago (sorry, Chrome! I haven't forgotten or lost it!) that I haven't dropped in, and there's still a major upgrade to the Bill Ding page including that interview I've been sitting on for over two years (sorry, Mr. Andrews! I haven't forgotten or lost that either!)... I'll try to make the effort, it's not as though I have anything else going on. That's not sarcasm.
   I think a few years ago I'd told (or talked around) an anecdote involving someone I worked with at the local fair. Maybe it was here, maybe it was on 'Stupidities', I'd have to go looking, but it was in the middle of the last decade. The "previously seen..." bit of film that rolls before the new tale starts basically says that I took a shine to someone, they seemed to like me, and before things could get friendly beyond being coworkers she learned some more about me and decided that she'd rather just say hello to me when either of us would come on shift rather than, you know, actually talking and being friends like we were for the days previous. I spent the rest of my time at that fair propping up a smile because there wasn't a thing I could do to bring back that camaraderie back. Okay, here it is years later, and I round this corner at a public event... and there she is. Visually not that different, I recognised her immediately. I confirmed it was her by some signage, got the basic info about where life has taken her, and tried to walk away without being noticed but I was smiling when she looked at me as I left her area. I don't really have a 'moral to the story' here, there's no interest in crossing that line to saying hello or I would have done it when I was right there, but it's something odd internally when you cross paths with someone you had (even briefly) some positive feelings for after a long time, and this is absolutely true: my first thought as I was walking away was, "I need to write about this on the Daybook." I love my updates to old stories.
   I'll post an update to how my life has been for the last, uh, two years as a Rant. Seems that's another update I wanted to make, because I recall four years ago talking about Obama winning the presidential election and how it would be an uphill climb for him to get things accomplished because of Congress and a biased public – wow, I only suspected how tough it would be without knowing the depth of the matter – and here I was yesterday night thinking I needed to write pretty much the same thing in the same place at roughly the same time for the same reason four years later. Some things apparently bear repeating with minor updates. So I'll sign off for the night and try to make speaking here a bit more of a will-do and need-to-do (out of the desire to speak rather than the requirement to keep a schedule) and less of a perpetual should-do.   --#2

   You know your site doesn't get traffic when you copy the wrong index.htm file to your site, resulting in something completely different coming up, and no one tells you for 3 months. (Good to see you're paying attention, R.A.T. #1!) Uh, I still haven't written a Rant or transcribed that Bill Ding interview...    --#2

   Uh, hello... It looks like I was incorrect (it's not lying since it wasn't on purpose) about my saying eight months ago that I'd be doing much of anything here or anywhere else. I had every intention of doing a New Years' update as I always do, but six months later... it's 8:03 a.m. and I woke up thinking "now I am inspired to write." Things have happened and maybe I'll remember of a few of them while sitting here, since being in front of the computer makes all thoughts I've had minutes before disappear. Normally I'd apologise for the big gap but there's no point.
   I still haven't written that Bill Ding interview up yet, and I bet the two people I talked to in order to get it are wondering what the hell happened to me. That is apparently a different form of inspiration, and why after years in school of saying I'd be a journalist I am not. I still haven't written a word in the Everyday Stupidities blog since last August, but let's call that deal done and I should go there at least to delete the advertising 'comments' that spring up like weeds through the asphalt of an unused road even if I don't care anymore; I do not mistake my Tumblr for a blog more than 90% of the time. This place is still my first outlet to vent my spleen but it's mostly dry. And what is significant to say...
   I'm pretty sure that I wrote here a few years ago (I can't be arsed to scan back to see when) that I would never work for a certain cellular provider because they canned my ass. How it wasn't the outsource company that was under contract with the cellco that fired me, it was the company itself. I'm also figuring I probably said two years ago that I would never work in an inbound call center again, because I was burned out on talking to people and being supportive. I'd have to actually look down what's on this page presently to see since I haven't punted any content to a Previous Days page. [scrolling down: wow, stuff from 2006 is here?! not gonna read] Well, minds change circumstantially, and you gotta do what you gotta do. I was inspired at some point by writing I saw on the back of a semi-trailer, "we've heard about this recession thing and we've decided not to participate", and I announced 2010 as the Year Of Win... all win, no lose. A renewed sense of value and job-search determination sprang within me, partially because I was getting called by the Unemployment folks every five weeks to come visit them to prove I was holding up my end, and mostly because my benefits' cut-off date was mid-May so something's gotta give. Three things gave: a second branch of an outsource call center chain that had interviewed me in March and declined accepted me in April for the same job at a different location; I had to set aside good taste and common sense and my own annoyances to accept such a job offer (I still don't want to be a phone monkey for that cellular company but que sera...); that cellular provider apparently forgot they didn't like me and it's customer service this time rather than technical support. What coworkers years ago told me is true, people get downright nasty when you mess with their money, but I have a great survival attitude of 'eff-it' and don't buy into the attitude (unsure if it's the outsource company or the vendor that produces this) that threats make for positive reinforcement. Yesterday a coworker commented that it's weird how you could be fired at the drop of a hat during training, but it's really hard to get fired once you hit the floor. ("I know, pull out your cell phone!" said one person, citing the legal reasons why cameras and phones are not allowed anywhere near the computers, and even having paper and pen on your desk can get you in trouble.) I say that I'm just there to get the health benefits, which start for me in two weeks, but in all honesty I haven't looked for the Next Better Thing yet; my challenge was to get through the two months of training, period, so I could qualify for unemployment benefits again.
   I haven't mowed the back lawn all year, and it's no exageration to say it's a jungle back there. I mowed the front once because that's the only time I was able to get the damn mower to start... either needs a new sparkplug or some carburator cleaner run through it, it'll run fine at full throttle but getting it to stay on more than three seconds from choke is the problem. Cheddar the catboy has had an interesting week-and-some; it was time for his yearly well-furball exam, and the doctor noticed he'd picked up an ear infection a couple days earlier so I was given drops to put in his ear twice a day. Cats are less happy with drops in their ears than people, and would fidget with that ear. In time this caused him to take the fur off the side of his head and scratch himself into a skin infection. Which grew to the size of a grape, turned purple, and burst all over the kitchen while I was in the shower preparing to take him to the vet. At this moment he's got a cone on his head, several stitches, some fine kitty drugs, and his appetite back (hadn't eaten in 2-3 days, lost 2 pounds) mostly due to the doctor slipping him some medical marijuana a pill that makes him hungry. The original ear infection cleared up, by the way. And now to segue to the humans... My sister and my brother's wife both replicated, both boys. My wife's older sister, on the other end of the continuum, died a week ago, two days before her 51st birthday, after a battle with stomach cancer that was discovered near Thanksgiving last year but had been brewing for awhile. The quote of the day was her best friend telling her that her little sister and her grandparents were waiting to greet her in the Great Beyond, and as battered as she was still had the lucidity to determinedly reply, "they're dead." My wife had been going to Arizona to see her for a few days every month, but then the family moved her to a sister's house and my wife stayed with her for a month solid; the memorial was Sunday and my wife returned home on Monday afternoon. Chrome, R.A.T. #1, came to visit for a couple days about a month ago, having left Arkansas at the end of his rope and is now in California with an Army buddy who offered him room and board with the promise of an IT job there. I haven't talked to him since then but the way it was described to me, this was the life upgrade he'd been waiting and preparing for. I believe I've chatted online with Emmer, R.A.T. #3, in the interim between posts but I don't recall anything salient except that she's loving her primary job as a mommy. And speaking of maternal units, my own gave me some photo albums and scrapbooks of my youth, and it's put into question who dislikes who here... it might be time for me to mend some fences and bury some hatchets, or at least just try to get along. I have no recollection of who I was referring to in the previous entry as a new and real friend. I've been walking away from some nice people in the last year and I don't have explanations that make much sense or can be shared in public.
   It is significant to add that I cleaned my room, where I am sitting right now. For average humans this is no big deal, something they do regularly. Nah, not here. When we moved into this house in October 1999, I just set boxes down against the wall and put up shelving and that's the extent of the organization. Ten years pass, things have stacked up; the boxes become default computer accessory stands, the junk behind me and off to the left accumulate, and people start making comments comparing my office to the average house on Hoarders though the mess is only contained in this one room, not the whole house. (My wife would include the familyroom but that's not entirely true; we just have this bad habit of moving stuff out of a room we're going to paint/renovate into there and never take stuff back out when we're done.) I have photos, this place was a huge heap. I finished my training at the call center on a Saturday and was asked when I wanted to begin the real job. Sunday and Monday were the training class' days off, Tuesday and Wednesday were my new team's days off, so I said Thursday, giving me four days off... and it took me three days to dung out the room. First day, everything out onto the back porch. Second day, build a little furniture and move everything that should be kept and shouldn't be outside back in. Third day, figure out what to do with what remained in the driveway. I still have a wheelbarrow full of photo envelopes, antistatic bags, and used shipping envelopes between the parking sections for comedic value. Fourth day, recover from the sinus headaches and coughing from the dust and muscle aches from hauling stuff all over (same as I did part of day three, but without distraction). What's amusing to me is that despite laying hands on everything in this room except what's in the closet (another day's project that will require obtaining replacement boxes) I never did find that pair of scissors that should have been next to the printer or that roll of giftwrap that I had "put in a safe place so I wouldn't lose it" years ago. It echos when I type now.
   That's enough of life for now. I should be writing about the ironies around me, or at least as a token gesture, so I'll make allusion to what I have noticed about working in customer service for a cellular provider, something I hadn't seen during my tech support stint because I didn't have to mess with accounts (beside features and device serial numbers) or money back then: People don't want to own up to their actions. My trainer, who worked for Sprint and CitiBank before coming to this part of the country, tells the story about how when he was at the bank someone asked him for a courtesy credit "because my cell phone company will do that"... 'uh, this is a bank, we don't just give away money,' he said. I keep getting calls from the people who don't watch their usage and go over their plan minutes or data allowance, and I don't mean by just a small margin, but think they shouldn't owe anything or deserve a break today. It's almost comical the people who change calling plans because they know they're going to go over, yet upgrading from 1000 minutes to 2000 minutes as a pre-emptive measure doesn't negate the fact that they continued using their phones and the bill shows they used 2500 minutes... which they want you to waive the thirty cents per minute charge for. I had one guy who lives along De Nile, who was bitching about how he's going to change cell carrier because we won't do anything about how on his 1500 minute family plan, he'd use 1460 minutes and his son had used 15 minutes, leaving 25 minutes for his wife – who had spent over six hours on the phone, a concept he refuted and she denied, along with the account in the billing statement of who she was talking to in Texas. Most people would say "ha! she's busted!" and/or actually look at the detailed bill to figure out what's going on, but noooo not this person. Sounded to me like he needed to keep his cell company and leave his wife (if she hadn't already made plans) instead of whine about the valid bill. A less blame-avoidance story, since this guy was nice about it: I was amused by the father that took his daughter off the 1000 minute family plan for a month to put her on a 450 minute single plan as a wedding gift, then brought her back to the family plan after the honeymoon... she racked up well over 450 minutes, see, so his 'gift' to her actually cost both of them a couple hundred dollars and had he left things alone everything would have been covered. Anyhow, people never cease to amaze me. And on that note, I again pledge (but not promise a date this time) that I will have that Bill Ding interview and a Rotating Rant of some sort posted soonish. Cheers!    --#2

   I decided to wait until my 42nd birthday to post here, and of course forgot to do this all day, but waiting until after at least lets me evaluate a few things. Which I did in the shower today. My life is not going as hoped... I haven't worked in over a year, it's only because the economy is in the toilet (thus everyone's got it bad and the government knows it) that I've had the two unemployment compensation extentions, and my optimism about being hired by Batteries Plus is beginning to dwindle since the manager said when I made an in-person followup like the books tell you to do he'd be making calls near the end of last week. I have hobbies and crafts for potential profit I never take the time to do. I've made one new friend that is for real and spent some quality time with another that I haven't seen in ages, so those are two plusses, as is that driving vacation to Arizona by the scenic route with my wife, who somehow still tolerates me and pointed out she's known me more than half my life. (That was in response to my saying "it seems like it was just a few years ago that we were celebrating my 21st birthday" – to which she replied, "it seems like forever to me.") I still look and feel 25 when I'm above my depression, which understandably has been rather foggy around the birthday. Always looking for the tasty beverages lurking within the tart fruit in the bowl, I announced after I got out of the shower that year 41 (while not the worst I've seen) would be a low-water benchmark that I must rise above.
   I haven't bought anything nice for myself yet, and have had a few days to figure out what that would be. Yeah, I did order a-ha's latest album – you hear they're breaking up at the end of 2010? – and have been out to dinner the last couple days, and the gift I got from my bride that I like the most is The Savage Garden by Peter D'Amato, which is considered the carnivorous plant growers' bible. I got a birthday email from my mother yesterday (first time there's been no card!) saying that my sister is due with her third child in March and my baby brother's wife is expecting their second child in April, which I don't consider a birthday gift, I'm just reporting family news and am surprised it arrived in such a timely manner since the last time my sibs calved I got emails with baby pictures but wasn't aware for the previous nine months they'd been pregnant.
   I've chatted online with Chrome, R.A.T. #1 a couple times, but don't feel as though I have enough to make a real status update (he's supervising at a rent-to-own place, he's doing school, he's back east); I haven't talked to Emmer, R.A.T. #3 since the last time I said I hadn't talked to her. The garden path is mostly done and the landscaping is nice, we have a compost container now, the planter boxes were a success and we had a great crop of tomatoes and various squash, and recently I built covers that match the planters to keep the neighbor's cats from using them as toilets over the winter. (They use the landscaping instead.) And the joy of irony is everywhere yet I'm not really placing it, other than how I put this Daybook aside in favor of my blog then put my blog aside (haven't written in maybe two months) in favor of random crap on Tumblr. Less to say, more places to not say it.
   There will be another update to this site soon, specifically the Pimpin' Life of Bill Ding page, because recently I interviewed over the phone a former sales manager from Local Trademarks, Bill Ding's creators, so I have a long writeup about the character and the company to do... plus the other day I got a picture of a 1920's button with Bill Ding's image on it from an auctioneer, which was likely worn as 'flair' by sales associates at hardware stores. I've been dragging my feet but I'll do it before long, I swear!   --#2

   What I said nearly six months ago in the first sentence: "I'm supposed to do updates every 2 months, 3 if I get lazy, so this half-year absence is inexcusable." Further recapping the entry below: I'm still unemployed. A new home improvement project just started for me – at my wife's whim, we're building a gated fence to connect the house with the end of the in-spite-of fence we put in a year or so ago, removing the weedy buildup on that unused side of the yard (the rotting fences at both ends which indicated this section was used as a dog pen or something minor by previous occupants were cleared out over the last few months) and laying down weed blocker netting, doing the same to the 4' x 25' path that goes from the back porch to that corner of the yard, and building two 4' x 8' planter boxes in that unused space. This will presumably be completed within two weeks. There's been further talk and planning on renovating the spare bathroom, but we haven't set a date on that yet. Hmm, and the little bits of touch-up in the kitchen (paint splatters on the ceiling, redoing the lousy window, rehanging the curtains, and other small details) still haven't been done. :) Chrome, R.A.T. #1, moved to Arkansas before he completed his stint at YVCC... sometimes you have to be true to yourself and get away from the distractions lest they overwhelm you, and that he indicates is why he had to go so soon. No news on Emmer. As for me, three weeks ago my wife and I took a car trip from Washington to Arizona for three days and back, which took twelve days round trip and was done in commemoration of our eleventh wedding anniversary. And I have talked to Jimbo a couple times, though didn't attempt to call him until March of this year by which time the phone number I had was disconnected. I joined Facebook and added Jimbo's younger brother as a contact, and he updated me. My condolences to the both of them and their dad since a week ago their mother, Carol, whom I thought was good people and a kick in the pants, passed on before she could get a lung transplant. I'm going to throw out a couple anecdotes about her...
   1: One afternoon The Out Of Time (the band that Jimbo, myself, and Adrian were in) were hanging out at Jimbo's house, watching MTV, and the world premiere of Madonna's "Open Your Heart" video came on. We're taking it in, and Carol walks through the livingroom. She stops, watches Madonna dance around in the peepshow booth in that gold lamé catsuit, and she announces, "You can see her twatty!" Adrian and I are doubled over laughing, Jimbo's trying to crawl under the carpet.
   2: Jimbo had this morning ritual where one of the first things he did when he got up was massaged his scalp; he said this was a measure to reduce or prevent hair loss. (I haven't seen him lately to say whether this worked.) I thought it was nothing special, since I constantly have my hands in my hair as a nervous habit. I went over to his house once while he was still laying in bed, and he sits up and starts doing that. Carol showed up in the doorway and said something like, "Have you noticed his massage?", puts her hand on her head, and makes this goofy face with top-of-head scratching move like a chimp... it was so funny to me, but of course Jimbo was offended by his mom's mocking him.
   I'll spare you the third thing that came to mind, when the ditzy neighbor woman Shirley Worley ["yes, really!" Jimbo said] came to Carol in a panic because her kindergarten-age son had just painted his pee-pee green and she feared he was going to die of some kind of poisoning from it, which sent Carol into hysterical laughter. (Okay, that right there was the whole story, so you weren't spared. Sorry!) Go read the new Rant when you're done here. So the random anecdote I'm ending this with – really, I need to work more on reporting on life's ironies again, the Reality Avoidance Therapy is in heavy use but isn't being discussed here like it's 'sposed to be – concerns an old girlfriend or two. In 1986 I was seeing this girl who was still in high school and I was by that time driving a moped, so I figured I should drop in at her school and say hello. I found my way to her school about 30 miles away, parked, and walked into the building after a bell rang so people were out in the halls. I didn't see her, but since this was a surprise I didn't have her class schedule beforehand; this teacher saw me instead and, not recognising me, hauled me to the office to chat with the principal. I introduced myself to him as my girlfriend's uncle, her father's brother, and he said he was going to call the man. I said in an average voice as he was going through his Rolodex for the number that the man was at home and I rattled off the home phone number, but the principal chose to ignore me and called the guy's work number. Internally I shrugged and thought, "well, he just spared me trouble because he didn't listen" and when the man's secretary said he wasn't there, the principal told me that I should just wait at her house for her to come home, so I smiled politely and said I'd do that. I got out of there on my scooter and laughed all the way out of town, knowing I'd hear about it later but at least it wouldn't be from her dad directly as I feared would happen. Yeah, pretty soon after she let me know that stunt wasn't well-received by her folks, and I said, "hey, I tried to tell him your dad was at home!" Okay, that relationship ended sometime in September (probably in part due to that visit, though the official version is "Mom wants me to see guys my own age"), and the next month I was going out with her best friend. It's her fault, she had her friend call me to break up with me and, well, we hit it off. And I'd met her friend first, anyway. But anyhow, my ex's friend invited Jimbo and I to come up and join her and her friend Norma to take their younger siblings out trick-or-treating on Halloween. Typically myself, Jimbo, and the girl hung back at the curb while Norma escorted the kids to the doors, but at this one house the girl said, "C'mon, you and I are going to take care of this one." We went to the door with the kids, a woman answered and gave the kids candy, and we wandered back down the driveway with the girl looking a little crestfallen. What's up? She admitted that this was the principal's house, and she wanted to see his face when he recognised me standing there. Once again, so glad that he wasn't on the ball...   --#2

   I'm supposed to do updates every 2 months, 3 if I get lazy, so this half-year absence is inexcusable. But I have a biological explanation that doesn't really answer anything: Two or three weeks after the last entry, they let me go at the Internet domain names dealer that I'd been working at for two months. So I have been unemployed since early July. For the first four months I was keeping busy by doing a kitchen renovation, and the list of stuff done is long so I'll merely say that the kitchen and diningroom and utility room are very much different now. But once I had the floor down and the shelving up in the pantry, hmm, that ended the project [not technically, the area around the kitchen window needs serious work but we want a contractor relative to have a look at it to advise us the correct way to fix this] so I've been on my butt getting depressed for the last couple months. This isn't how I should be going about things, I'm the first to admit.
   I'm going to put this into print: A few months ago at the fair (nope, didn't attempt to workthere) I was talking to my old acquaintance Karen, the cowgirl trickster, and she said that after 11 years of doing her stage show she's planning to hang up her boots to do... something else. That something else was unknown and uncharted, and she said she sat down one day between gigs and came up with a long list of possibilities. I found that rather inspiring. See, I was catching her up on the year since I'd seen her and she spontaneously said, "Mush, I'm worried about you." Wait, huh? She took me aback. She probably thought she offended me with her bluntness, but no, I was just surprised to hear her say that. I didn't think anyone could see through me like that, but we never do. So I figured that is something I need to do too, and lordie knows I've had the time, but... I haven't done. (Which makes me more depressed.) I'm burned out on tech support, I need to find a new direction.
   I haven't really kept up on the rest of the R.A.T.-pack, if you were looking for information about Chrome and Emmer. I have one bit of information on either: Chrome #1 is finishing up his degree in Yakima and is planning to go hang out with his half-brother in Branson, MO for a change of direction himself. (This confuses me but it is nice to hear he's not joining the military... again.) Emmer #3 informed me yesterday that she and her husband are now the proud parents of a baby girl they named Alina! (That's every bit of information I have.) As for me, beyond the kitchen reno and too much *clap clap* time on my hands since summer, life goes on day after day. I anted up for a three month Gold Membership to so that I could get in touch with some folks, and at the end of that span – the one person I was trying to get a word back from never responded. Well, so long as she knows I'm out here; I have seen her bio thus know that she's still alive and happy, which ten years ago were not the impressions I was getting. One of the people I did get word from is the younger brother of Jimbo, whom you have read about here in the past, that gave me Jim's phone number and word that he'd gotten then lost a drug habit. Nope, haven't called, really should. And a hello goes to Beth, the only person in a year who has demonstrated she's looked at this site.
   I'm going to wish you all a Merry Christmas or happy whatever holidays you celebrate (or don't celebrate), as well as a pleasant New Year of 2009 (everyone's subject to that) full of hope and prosperity. Considering how 2008 is ending for the nation and world, peace and security would be a very welcome things. Thank you for noticing that I've posted, now go look at the Rotating Rant!   --#2

   Today's R.A.T. story comes from 1999, when I was driving a froggy green Plymouth Satellite names 'Sputnik'. I might have told the story, or some abbreviated form of it here at one time, but I want to flesh this out because it still sticks to me as rediculous. Bear with me if you've heard it somehow.
   Once upon a time there was a chain of repair places in the area called Martha Lake Electronics. They would take most anything in, mostly TVs but whatever required electricity and needed fixing, and they were based out of Lynnwood (where you find, duh, Martha Lake) but had a shop on 38th in Tacoma. They were hiring for counter people, so I turned in an application and was called up to Lynnwood for an interview. I got dressed up in my interview clothes and drove Sputnik there to meet the owner of the company.
   The first thing I noticed about this champion of industry was that he had a very tall bookcase in his office that was completely filled with management books. Some people are born leaders, others need a little guidance, and then there was this guy who had a hundred or so different manuals on how to lead people. Knowing that no two management books give the same advice, in fact some give contradictory advice, I suspected that this guy knew a lot about management but did not know how to actually do it cohesively. But hey, I've just met the guy so let's just see what kind of interview questions, likely culled from said manuals, he throws at me. He started with the standard ice-breakers about past experience and education, threw in the interview oldie of "where do you see yourself in five years?", and after this period of getting to know all about me as a person and student he then picked up my résumé to go over my work history.
   One of my previous jobs, which lasted all of two weeks but I put on the list anyway because it was one of the only things I'd done parallel to what I was applying for (that and my seven months at Radio Shack, their competition), was with a computer store in Olympia. The owner brought up this job and asked, "what was the manager's name again?" Since it had been awhile, I had forgotten the man's name so I said something that was pretty close -- "Rhinegeld" became "Ringgold" -- and the owner said said slyly "Oh, yeah, I know him," before asking me more about my duties. Okay. You lose the Jedi mind game, sir. I figured that this was a trick from a management book, that if the interviewee thinks the interviewer knows a past employer personally the interviewee isn't going to tell any lies. Which is true, if the interviewer doesn't blow all credibility by proving he doesn't know the person by not catching the name error.
   So his next manoeuver is to ask me to do this personality inventory, the kind that requires filling in ovals with a #2 pencil on a scan sheet while reading a thin quiz booklet. This is the kind of test where you know what the answers they expect are ["If you found a $5 bill under the till and the money in your till was balanced, would you: a) keep the money, b) report it to your supervisor, c) put it in the till, d) leave it under the till"], but you're a horrible person if you either answer every question "correctly" or if you answer them completely honestly, because either of those reactions proves you're a shifty untrustable dishonest person. He told me that the results would come in later because he would have to fax this answer sheet to Chicago. Okay. You're now full of shit. I've administered enough of these tests during my stint as a tutor to know how an overlay answer key works -- put this stiff paper with holes across it on top of the answer sheet, line up the dots, and mark on any spaces that aren't filled with pencil lead, then tally up the marks. That, and there's no way a faxed copy of anything is going to be gradeable with a scanner.
   The final nugget was when he leans back in his chair and says something about me applying for a management position. Hmm, no, the sign said counterperson and I was by no means (at that moment) qualified to supervise a store. He wants me to agree to apply for a management job. The catch, though, is that if I don't make the cut to be a manager, I am removed from consideration for the job that I was qualified for and had applied for. Interesting double-or-nothing situation there. I figured this was another management trick, looking for the people with leadership ability and aspirations, which seems counterproductive to me because why would you want a whole building full of people who think they should be in charge? As the old and totally un-PC notion goes, "all chiefs, no braves." Someone's gotta quietly do the work, you know.
   So I left the interview after being told it would be a couple hours before the personality test was graded by someone in the Windy City, so I went to an abandoned house on the Martha Lake waterfront, sat around on the dock for a long while until some construction guys showed up (and since I was dressed in business uncasual, I strode out without a word like I was a Realtor or county building inspector and no one said a thing about me trespassing), then went back to the office to be given the expected bad news that I failed my personality test and thus could not work in any capacity for Martha Lake Electronics.
   They went out of business within a year.  [contents of the auction of their assets in 2001]   --#2

    Once again I've failed to follow the schedule, and updated at 3 months instead of 2. And in the last month I've not quite held my schedule of posting stupid things to Everyday Stupidities weekly-or-better either. I think this happens to me when I have stuff to concentrate on, even if that stuff takes up very little timeslice in my days, as the case is lately. See, for the last six months I've been working in the internal helpdesk for a major brand name of travel service (which we will refer to here as PleaseGoAway-dot-cahhhhm), and it's been known all along that the department, staffed by contractors and one actual company employee, will be outsourced to a Canadian call center staffed by Indians (red dot, not feather). Seriously, 33 of the 36 people at the outsource center in Toronto have 'subcontinental' names... "you want some curry, eh?" It was a plan which was bantered for a long time until last month when the center opened, people were hired and trained, and in the middle of this month the phone system shunted most of the calls there. We here in the Seattle area have been taking occasional direct calls (the problem with giving your direct extention rather than the department number) and clearing out the influx of email support requests. But in a couple days, if not sooner, the email system will change and we'll get none of the support tickets either. So for a fortnight we'll be sitting around playing games, taking those rare direct calls, updating our résumés, and otherwise doing nothing practical – we'll be the backup in case the Canindians' system breaks. And then, we're outta there. I'm not worried about getting a new job, I'm just not giving it the quantity of thought I should. [Update: 3/31 - They've started cleaning house early, and now I'm free. Meaning I really should start giving it some quantity of thought!] Oh, an update from last time: my car got that $1500 of work done, so now my Check Engine light is off and I can pass county-mandated emissions when next they demand it. Chrome, R.A.T. #1, spent last weekend with me so I can prove he's alive though 'well' is subjective. He'll be back on April 11, his need for a mental vacation isn't fully sated.
    Years ago I met a girl who went by the name Zöe Ocean because "Tiffany" didn't define her well. She was exciting and distant, or maybe she was exciting because she was distant, and was several years younger than me so had no concept of what the real world looked like. Ignorance is bliss. I probably broke her heart because I wasn't who I was trying to be. Anyhow, there was a day while I was in the last year of college when she wrote to say that the spark that she saw in me had died and I wasn't the fun person she'd taken a liking to, and called me "stagnant". I responded that since I was trying to finish school and was concentrating upon what I needed to do and to preparing for where I was about to go (the big scary world), this was who I needed to be for the time being in order to survive and I'll be my bouncy happy self again once I'm past the markers. We lost touch for a span, then once she was starting to resemble a grown-up herself (husband, kid by the name of Kamper[!], college for her) we swapped a few emails. And it became evident from her writing style and stories that she had become the thing she hated; she was lacking perk because she had responsibilities and a focus on the end result, just like I did when the shine was coming off my apple. I think she realized this, but I'm pretty sure that I made it a point to tell her she'd been warned of what was to come. And that's probably where we lost touch again.
    I'll leave the first subject that comes to mind regarding ironies and stupidities, the political arena, alone (other than what I just put into the Rotating Rant) because there are just too many to report. This is probably nothing new, but in this particular race where the mudslinging of stating facts and reanimating history (like happens to Clinton and McCain) fails to take the wind out of anyone, making shit up and bantering it about as fact or "something to think about" is resorted to, most of which is levelled at Obama. Stuff I've seen pointed at him includes one camp saying he's a secret Muslem, as though it's a dirty word, and another camp I noticed the other day says he's a secret black radical, like he were a member of some circa-1968 Black Panthers organization. It's almost comical the depths stupid people go to in order to promote someone or smear someone... almost because no matter how patently false or extreme some of the charges are, or damning some of the true history is, there will be people who don't do the research or listen to the facts because it doesn't match their agenda.
    Now that you've had the heavy stuff, go to Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul and laugh at some found photo captions. --#2

    No, honest, I swear I did not change the posting schedule to every three months. I just... didn't get around to posting on time (every 2 months) the last six months, so there's technically an entry missing. Too late to make up for that now. I also swear that I don't mean to start every entry with an apology for its tardiness. Only one person has ever said "how come you're not posting?"... well, gee, it's really convenient to write on Blogspot's Everyday Stupidities, though I keep thinking that since it's not a site under my control I should snag some "best-of" articles from there and archive here (or on my hard drive), possibly similar to how when Azreal moved his phenomenal I Am A Japanese School Teacher blog from Outpost 9 to Festering Ass... lots of reruns for those oldschool readers. I'm thinkin' on it, and heck I haven't fixed all the link changes on this site from the April '07 transition from Earthlink to QualityHost yet... still no counter on front page! Not that anyone comes here.
    I have another old acquaintance resurfaced story, this as of a day or two ago (though technically it could have been earlier): I mentioned here (on October 6, 2002 and May 31, 2003, see the yearly links at the bottom of the page) a girl by the name of Cassie that I went out with for a little while when I was in high school. I mentioned her a couple times on Everyday Stupidities as well on October 31, 2006 and October 28, 2007. Since advertising pays, she found my Stupidities entries and has been reading my words for two years – but didn't let me know until the other day. Another thing she kept to herself until now was that she lived in Tacoma until this last autumn, therefore we could have seen each other in person and hung out. I'm sure I've seen worse "I didn't say hello until I had left" scenes (sound familiar, R.A.T. #3?) but the thing that matters is that the connection is made, not so much when or how. At least I now know why she kept coming to mind in the last year, though this does put into question whether that actually was her I saw somewhere as the story goes in one of the Stupidities entries (where I said I saw someone that looked like her) afterall. This story is just unfolding so I don't have any tales to tell, other than the little I know from one email and some blog reading: she's married with a couple sons, is a CPA for a petroleum company as her day job and sells fabric/quilts as an Internet sideline, her sister is a dentist up north and her esteemed mom is doing well in the family house I once knew. It's a great way to end 2007, having made that connection and received some update, and that more or less exhausts the list of "where are they now?" people I'd carried in my head. Or for the time being. *grin*
    So where am I in my life right now, leaving 2007 to enter 2008? I have a house and a mortgage payment. I have a cat who tolerates me. I have a spouse that's stuck with me through some bad times, even when I was totally the cause of whatever was bad. I had a dream job and I presently am a contractor at a nice, better-paying job that I know is temporary. I have three siblings, four neices and a nephew that I don't have any contact with. I'm gaining weight and hit age 40 recently, but I still have my hair! I'm doing home improvements with my own two hands, something I hadn't ever pictured, and this place is going to be amazing once it's done... not necessarily HGTV material, but HGTV-inspired. I closed the book on the person I'd needed closure with for two decades [see previous entry] and on another person that, bless her heart, I needed to stop playing footsies with, and opened a hopefully brighter chapter with someone with whom conversation has been sparce since she left the farm (and as said, capping off the year's end was another person that I'd wondered about, and I'm not making any guesses yet about); no other campers have shown up but I did pass along through another person an email I received regarding a couple campers I'd mentioned here so they can reconnect with someone that thinks well of them. My best friends are still my best friends. I have my health as far as I know. My wife has her health, such as it is. My cat has his health. We have money and we don't have credit cards. My car runs well though it needs $1500 of cylander repair done. I'm learning stuff about photography that my photography-teacher father never taught me (most of which isn't terribly technical so I still don't know what an f-stop is about). I am happy with my toys. I don't underestimate the blessings I have even when, as it's easy to do, I take them for granted. I hope that you, my rare and wonderous reader, have had good things you can reflect upon in 2007 (even if it's "light at the end of the mucky tunnel" glimmers that give you hope), and that 2008 will bring you even more great things. --#2

    If it has been nearly three months, it's time for a Daybook entry. Ecch, sorry folks, I've been meaning to get on with this for a month but always forget until I'm not near the computer or remember when there's no inspiration. Like a couple weeks ago, Chrome #1 was over for a couple days and we bantered about doing a combined posting, something we haven't done in a long time... and then we didn't. (But there were a bunch of other things we said we'd do but then forgot/neglected to do. We had no short-term memory or follow-through for some reason.) I still don't know what Emmer #3 is up to. "Five foot two, and less than the last time you saw me, but my eyes are still as blue" or something is probably what she'd say... ha ha! Ahem. Onward. I didn't say I thought of much brilliant to say (beside in the Rotating Rant), which is part of why this has been so slow to be updated. I did recently write three Everyday Stupidities blog entries in the span of a week, if that makes any difference.
    A week or two after that last entry, I got up the strength to close a chapter in my book of life, something one could argue I should have done about twenty-two years ago. I finally came to the "been there, done that, now I can move on" point in the story of Karen Strausbaugh. If you've been reading the Daybook more than casually, you will notice that I bring her name or image up at random intervals, especially in the last six months because we reunited. In the first paragraph of the previous (June 25th) entry I said that all was well in the world because I'd gotten to know a bit more about what the story was when we were 17 and learned who she had become as an adult who has her own 17 year old (and 14 year old) to raise. This realization of relief was the precursor to the next few steps to putting that ghost to rest. She was away from the computer for over a week on vacation, and this gave me some time to put my plan into action. I woke up one morning around the time she should have gotten back and deleted her email address from my addressbook, added it to the Blocked Senders list so I wouldn't get anything new, moved all her mail from the Incoming and Sent Items boxes into Trash and emptied the bin, and then took a moment to think about how that felt. I wouldn't so much call it unburdening as lightening. I didn't have a regret, just a little sadness that it had to end, with a little happiness that it was me who was moving the hands this time. A couple weeks later I took the next step: I took the bundle of letters and photos from way back out to the back driveway, arranged some rocks and pieces of slate into a pyre, and after a sprinkle of gasoline I set them alight. I'd thought about how I would do that for a couple days, thinking it'd be really neat to do this at the campfire at Lazy F, since I was going to be going to Ellensburg in a few days anyway... but decided I didn't need to engage in the symbolism, I just wanted to let this go. I wanted to restore the elements to nature, and I didn't want them to just sit somewhere being useless or get into anyone else's hands. So the letters and photos were cremated, the ashes scattered around my yard, and the rocks and slate pieces were put back where I found them like nothing happened... dust in the wind. And again, a moment of sadness that the visions were gone but a little happiness that I could see clearly. Of course I did keep one happy letter and a photo as a milepost for the journey, there isn't any animosity or regret to my loving her or to my finally coming to peace with her memory. I wish her peace and happiness, and I always have even during those periods that (it turns out) she was having none. Someone was cheering for her without being able to see the game, or knowing how often she got blitzed by life. And now, two decades and several hours together later, I'm confident that she's finally at a level playing field and has what it takes to win... and with that precious knowledge I have left the sidelines. Goodbye, Karen. Thanks for giving me a chance to get to know you for who you really are at last (and yay, me!, for listening this time).
    In the previous entry, I also said that I hadn't tripped across any new former campers, which is still true but not entirely accurate. During the period described above I received an email from Raberta, who I had mentioned further down this page in the 12/12/06 entry and whose history I told in the 5/12/04 entry (scroll to it) – short version of her private story, she was back in Ephrata because she'd left her husband of eight years (after being with him for about seventeen) and was on her way to start a new life with her friend in Alaska. Plans to see each other were delayed because of family stuff, then hastily reconstructed because her shipping date was moved up from a couple months to next week, so I drove 130 miles to meet up with her for an afternoon, and she brought her 5 year old daughter Liahna, who is an amazingly smart and beautiful little girl. She confirmed in word and deed what I said in 2004 here about our friendship: We might not communicate much but we know each other are there and we still care deeply for one another. It was like no time had passed, like we were still teenage campers but this time with some clue. But we're wise enough to know that there is value to the fifteen years that we spoke minimally and saw each other never (even when she was back in the state and didn't let me know until she'd returned home)... it let us grow, change, develop, and yet still need each other to remain in our peripheries. So in some regards, it was being reunited with an old camp buddy that I'd lost track of, even if I'd never actually lost her. Bless you, Bertie, and I wish you the best of luck in your new directions. --#2

    If it has been two months, it's time for a Daybook entry. I don't want to rattle on too much about what I've been doing since last time, though of course since it's been awhile there are things to say. Updating from last entry since you may have wondered (or not): yadda yadda Haven't done any further updating of this site to new location, and two Bill Ding videos are on his page; it's been interesting communicating with and seeing on 3-4 occasions the long-gone Karen and I can say that I've had the questions of two decades ago answered (let's not get into how this created new questions!) plus seen the family members I'd been curious about so I my long-held belief that "life is a circle" came true and my mind finds some ease in the old familiar places; work is fine and hopefully will continue for me (I'm not used to making outbound calls so need to acquire some confidence in making them, it's not like I'm telemarketing though it is still convincing someone to do something they don't wanna in many cases); the kitchen update has been put off indefinitely because of some automotive and dental bills, but I did renovate the fireplace from being a painted-white-by-crackheads red brick thing with a cast iron woodstove sticking out of it to a very pretty cream-colored tiled feature with a mosaic-tile frontpiece which anyone would be proud to have in their home. I updated Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul for the month of July yesterday, right on schedule. Now, time for some the R.A.T. observations I've been putting off!
    When I was in college, circa 1988, I landed a job with the Department of Social and Health Services in the downtown of the small 'berg I grew up in. This was my first real techie job and my first job involving a public agency. As anyone who has worked in an office with other people can attest, there is a steep learning curve between what you think the world of work is like, either by preconceived notion or by what you've been told in school, and how things really function. My primary objectives were to maintain the computers people were using, install software as needed, and help debug this database system that a coworker/classmate (who got me this job) was working on, "and other duties as assigned." For the record, I was never shown my job description, which did make for some amusing conversations with Higher-Ups about not how I wasn't fulfilling certain ones. The things I took away from this short tenure of employment were that people who do not know much about computers, which was most people in 1988, can be easily frightened – and how I don't recall anyone in high school or college cluing me in that such a job, or that specific office, was so Machiavellian. I'm not going to hash on anyone from back then (no matter how they need/needed it), but I will say that my eyes were opened by one particular person who did everything she could to get me in trouble for doing a task I was assigned which she normally did (and did in a messy, convoluted way) as well as by my supervisor's supervisor, my best friend's mom's brother that I'd sat down to dinner with a time or two in the past, who claimed I'd put a 'virus' on some computer using a disk he had left in the office (the actual issue was that the computer was on the same power jack as the photocopier, which damaged the hard drive controller; frequent fluctuations from 90VAC to 135VAC will do that to any equipment). I derived that state work sucks.
    Ten years later, circa 1998, I landed a job in the mailroom of the city/county building of county seat in a big city, mostly opening business tax payment envelopes and recording data. This was my first real large-office job and my first job as a temp. As anyone who has worked in an office with other people where there are regular employees and there are seasonal or contract employees can attest, there is a hidden dichotomy between the 'real' workers and the temporary workers. I was not yet aware of this caste system, I just wanted to get along with everyone and be a part of the group... the group, however, had no desire to regard me as a member because I wasn't fully one. Any effort to be 'one of the guys' was rebuffed and even regarded as some personal affront, it slowly became evident, and I noticed how cliquish that my regular-employee coworkers were. The other temps just ate their lunch alone and didn't talk to anyone, and it wasn't until later that I realized this was not because they were intending to be antisocial. It wasn't until somewhere after this job that I heard about the disparity between the employees and consultants at Microsoft, "the war of the badges" as they call it there. What I took away from this short stint was that everyone has a place in the bureaucrasy which shouldn't be transcended, and that the 'real' employees don't like to be questioned. The story on that observation is that, like many places where workers (in non-physical labor jobs) have thick employment contracts and Union representation, it takes an act of Congress to get them to either do their jobs with any vigor or change their habits. [Think about the Postal Service people at the counter. Yeah, you understand.] There was this woman who visibly did nothing all day, though I'm sure that can't be accurate. So I asked her once while she was leaning against someone's cubicle wall what her job was. Uh, I might have put more emphasis on the words "is" and "do" when I said so what exactly is it that you do here? than I should have – if you say those words in an even voice, it's not insulting – and that displeased her. But to thineself be true. I've been blessed in most of the places I've been in the last five years (with the noteable exception of that bank with the skeleton key logo, which was Machiavellian at the management and administrative levels; you'd think would have little reason to backstab anyone since they're already in charge?) that I've figured how to fit in and get my work done without constant conflicts, though there's always some toe that can be stepped on by not knowing The Unspoken Rules.
    And in case you wondered about the other Reality Avoidance Therapists... So have I. Chrome #1 spent a few days with me a couple weeks ago, and is making it through college and living with his half-brother so life is pretty okay. Emmer #3, hmm, not a clue. I haven't become reacquainted with any other Lazy F campers, but in looking at the camp schedule for this year my old buddy [slight overstatement] James Snook will be playing dean of the senior high group. He was a camper at the same time I was, and his father Wally was a counselor/dean for us. That's so cool! I always pledged as a camper I'd go back as a counselor but.... sigh, life took different directions, I moved away from the church, and I've learned enough about myself to know that I should leave the positive role model and camper guidance stuff to the positive role models and skilled counselors of the world. --#2

    Hello, faithful readers and Internaut stumblers. It's official, I've moved the site off of the Mindspring/Earthlink server it had been on since 2000 over to a hosting service. If you found this page through having dub-dub-dub Say Something Cryptic dot com bookmarked, excellent! If you found this page through the old Earthlink site unceremoniously bouncing you over, update your bookmark now. Chances are if you got here by a link in Google, it's using the old Earthlink site because the spiders saw the site for where it really resided and ignored the URL redirector I had been using, so again you should make sure any bookmark you create points here. Hopefully the spiders will find me and update the links soon. The move was smoother than I expected, once I found a good host and got things set up, and the Laughter is Spackle of the Soul site is lookin' good. (And there's a new version of the screensaver that was made for use with Vista!) This place, well, I've been meaning to go through all the pages to change references to the old server to the new one, and have done that with the pages that link from the front (index) page but not the stuff inside the Old Daybook and Past Rant pages. I'll get around to it, meh. Also, the contact email addresses for both of the pages have been conglomerated and if you want to write me (or the other R.A.T.s) about anything the address is now Please, no angel-on-my-shoulder forwards and if you're going to write Emmer #3, bathe. For the time being there's no Guestbook Thingie™ for either site and I need to get a working counter on the front page of Cryptic. Finally, coming in a few days will be the next significant update to Bill Ding's shrine... a TV advertisement!
    I have even more proof that advertising (or rather, writing about people from the past in a blog) can make stuff happen. I have some catching up to do here... First: Shortly after that last entry, I heard from Dean Roettger. Seems he was checking the carte blanche of his name online (he's in real estate so this matters) and found this page. He wrote something which touched me [reprinted below with permission]... I told him about how I managed to get this new job after being told "you're not the right candidate" by the hiring same manager a month before:
Sounds to me like you took the same approach that I have always taken. It will make you highly successful at whatever you do. I have to tell you, I'm really proud of you, man!!! You applied the most valuable asset ever known to man that most people never get! When I read that they had sent you the brush off letter and you still kept going until you got it, I was absolutely ecstatic! I woke up my youngest daughter and made her read that portion of your email because that's what I've been preaching to her since birth. I'm really happy for you and with you on your new success!!! YOU ROCK, MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Second: About three nights ago I got this email from Karen Strausbaugh (mentioned several times in the Daybook over the years, most recently two entries ago on 12/12/06, and eleven months ago in this Everyday Stupidities post), the first I'd heard from her in twenty-one years (40 days from her 39th birthday). Unlike Ken and Bobby, she seems to actually want to communicate and (a real surprise) discuss as adults the things we couldn't find the words for as teenagers. This totally shocks and surprises me, and to be honest it's a moment I never thought would come and have wondered for a couple decades how I would handle. I can say that we're different people now than we were back then, so most of the guesses I created over the years have proven to be inaccurate. And for that I am thankful.
    I realize I'm not posting any Reality Avoidance (right now as I do this I'm in Work Avoidance... W.A.T.!) but that'll come again soon. So the last paragraph will be an update to the last paragraph of the previous entry, sorry. I am employed now! The beating I had to do on the hiring person in the previous entry worked, and I'm writing this from my desk at a business that specializes in trying to block phishing fraud sites from your browser and (for a price) removes them from the Internet. Thank you for the good karma, prayers, pleasant thoughts, good vibes, and screaming at the Illuminati to get me gainfully employed. And yes, the livingroom and hallway are painted in nice grey shades plus some new black cabinets have been obtained (see?). Next project is the kitchen, and it's going to cost about $8000 to order new cupboards/cabinets and $2000 for a countertop of some sort, so this is planned for the summer or early autumn. In the meantime I've obtained a new huge sink and a sexy brushed nickel faucet in anticipation of having a place to put them. Anyhow, back to work. Thanks for following the site to its new home! --#2

    I have further proof that if you say something on the Internet, especially blogstyle, the world will be able to see it. In the previous entry I told about getting contacted by a friend of someone who died in 1985, whose relevance to me had been described at least once in the past, and named names of a few people I'm curious about from Lazy F summer camp. There were some names I didn't name on the list, such as Ken "I'll try not to be offended that I wasn't on your most-missed list, but I didn't want my name on the Internet anyway" D., who emailed me a couple days ago courtesy of the net mention of other people we knew. That was just an odd bit of kismet there, because when I started thinking about people who should be on the list, like Stephanie Ball and Jessica Couch, he was one of the first names that sprung to mind, yet I didn't put him in there. My bad! Mea culpa. I got this most amazing long email from him, telling me things that I never knew about the guy I always saw but seldom talked to, other than in that last year we were both at camp because we were in the same group. I'll spare you the details, I will merely say that this is the first time in a long time I have actually read every bit of a long email and hung on every word. He surprised me; he was one of those guys at camp that mostly kept to himself, seemed to be impervious to the world, and just stuck to his music. I sensed there was a man behind the mask but figured he'd come out when he was ready. As one of the songs we sang back in the day said, "'I've got all I need,' you say... well, that's a lie and it ain't true; think of all you need today –you need me, and I need you... you need me and I need you." He kept in touch with a few people that I had been writing or held in high regard, or tried to for awhile, but much like me he knows where a handful are and wonders about a flock of others. And he told me that he wished he'd known that Lucas Lane was special to me at the time he found out Luke had died (at the beginning of the camp week, during the meet-and-greet get-situated phase before that first gathering) because he wanted to talk to someone about how much Luke had meant to him. I can't tell you how much this opened my eyes, dear readers. I never knew.
    Ken brought up the names of a couple people I went to church with, Kurstin and Charri Fields. He thought I'd still be in touch with them. Well, no, Kurstin never much liked me, and Charri was in my sister's class but not at our school so we didn't really get to know each other very well. I grin when I think of them for my own private reasons. [A lookup online revealed a bit of information, and I got email later in the day that he'd just talked to Kurstin. Congrats, Ken! Say hiya for me, see if the sneer is audible, heh!] It then occurred to me someone I didn't put on the list (and didn't think of at all!), someone who had been close to both Ken and Kurstin: Dean Roettger. Last time I saw him was 1984, when he was my locker partner at Eisenhower High School. Ken is still in touch with him, it turns out, and he's doing well, so that's happy news to me. The positive spectres of the past keep materializing, not just for me, and that's making me feel good. Once again, if you are or know anyone I'm looking for, my email is themushroom (at) !
    To update on the employment situation, and give the requisite quantity of irony and stupidity, you'd have to see my Blogspot blog entries for the last week (specifically the last weekend of January and the first entry of February). I'm still looking, courtesy of three interviews for one job and the place itself didn't call until three hours into its training class to say I wasn't going to be in it. But I am still in good spirits, and just the other day a local health care system (that's what they're called nowadays) emailed me, two or three weeks after the last contact I had with them, asking me to do this online survey for further consideration. I don't assume that means anything other than I haven't been totally overlooked. The next round of home improvements have started, beginning with the replacement of the ceiling fan in the livingroom and purchasing of paint and trim. Tomorrow I will be wiring for and mounting some track lighting, and on the weekend of Feb 17 we're painting the livingroom and hallway. While I'm persistantly nervous about spending money on stuff that technically can wait (and has for the last six years) when I don't have a real income, it's all working out. --#2

    Wow, it was 2 months between entries, right on schedule! I've finally done the long-overdue (11 months late) reshuffle of the back contents: in mid-January or thereabouts I gather a year's worth of Daybook entries into its own file and then do the same for the Rant, and add links to the bottom of the main pages. The 2005 Daybook never got parsed, so Old Days ended at October and 1/4 of the 2005 entries stayed on this page.... fixed. The 2005 Rants, however, were dropped into a file but then I never got around to editing it to be its own page, so it's not been visible all year (and no one complained?)... fixed. As I keep saying every month, I'm writing once or twice a week on my Blogspot page and additionally I've been posting photos left and right to my Flickr page. 2006 is going to be combined with 2007 because I hardly said anything all year... blame my Blogspot blogging! And just when I think no one but Dr. Who and Alene are reading this...
    On May 13 of 2002, I wrote something in the Daybook (scroll down to it) about a couple guys I went to camp with who died young. Yesterday I got an email from a friend/classmate of one of them, Lucas Lane, saying that in a websearch for his name this was the only pertinent reference. It made me feel good that someone remembered Luke, had an anecdote or two to share, and felt the need to let me know I'd done something good. After replying, I then posted the photo mentioned to Flickr. Luke is the shorter one with glasses, Bryan is the blond with braces. Thank you for caring, Renee! So, Google, is anyone looking for Bryan or Dena Bell? Oh, and a followup on what was written in that Daybook entry: I got an email from Lynnette after making a couple phone calls, asked her to please give her input on what I said... and I never heard another word. I guess I got it out of my system, that's what I needed to do.
    I have a few ironies, bitter or not, to speak of since the last entry, and I still can't seem to get the momentum or cadence I prefer to put here. There's no less stupidity in the world and there's just as much need for Reality Avoidance Therapy (maybe more, what with that rediculous war and the even more rediculous guy in charge of waging it who, according to recent reports, "just doesn't get it") and I still see it, but I just can't seem to report on it. Heck, at this moment I'm a week behind on my Everyday Stupidities blog entry because I had some choice ones that I'd thought of for days and had in my head on Monday, but when I sat down Tueday [and today is exactly one week later] I couldn't remember any of them... and still can't. Meh. Anyway. One week after I wrote the previous entry, I went to work (outsourced brains for a cellular provider; think "can you we hear you now? yes, now shut the fuck up!") and my supervisor escorted me to the call center manager's office, where he had bad news: the corporate overlords had been listening to calls, heard one I took the day before which was pretty unsatisfactory (the customer and I both wished we had been talking to smarter people), and so they told him that they had to give me the heave-ho. Canned on my birthday, excellent! That actually worked to my mental advantage, because I was in such a weird state of mind that the harsh words didn't phase me. (Hum parts of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" here... they didn't hurt me with goodbye, I didn't crumble or lay down and die.) I just politely asked which call this was, didn't dispute or discuss anything, and cheerfully shook his hand to make him as uncomfortable as possible. The useless IT goons were already loading my desk into the box I keep under there for just such emergencies, so I just assisted them (standing there watching was easier for them anyway) and rode off into the sunset – er, okay, into the high noon. I'm a little sad that they threw out the contents of my Know Shit binder, most of which did not come from the company database because you can't find anything useful in there, rather than give it to a coworker who needed answers, but I guess I'm more sad that they threw it into the trash rather than the recycle bin because that's just not earth-friendly. I had an odd birthday, where everything purchased for the event or the weeks preceding was second-guessed. (Will say that the Josh Blue/Chris Porter comedy show on December 1 in Seattle was excellent, and I really enjoy my new camera which was ordered from Costco.) And what's odd to me is, I don't miss my job. For a couple months, as the corporate Powers That Be kept coming up with new and rediculous ways to piss off the customers (and the tech support agents), I'd been not-so-sunny about my job. Not in a way that kept me from getting up or doing my job, but it became more of a guessing game – we could have taken an office pool as to what boneheaded edict was going to come down from on high. I sound spiteful in saying that but I'm not; this is the company that decided to demote half of the tech floor to an intermediate customer service/tech support level when we had 10 calls on the queue at all times, then decided to give that intermediate level all of tech's calls without giving them any of tech's training, and when the result was that tech didn't get as many calls filtered through to them they demoted the entire tech group down to that intermediate (guess it's not intermediate anymore!) level. From that standpoint, I was actually lucky to get out when I did because my department was dissolved about two weeks after I left, resulting in everyone either going to a different cellular contract with the outsourcer (which I was willing to do to avoid burnout) or getting bumped down to that hellish intermediary position (which I would not be happy about but at least had the training for it). Anyhow, in the seven weeks since then I've done a little temp work and hunted for a new job that isn't just like the previous call center work. I'm mostly bored now and am drawing unemployment [hey, no guff, I paid into the system for years without ever being able to claim on it for one 'shafted' reason or another!], so look forward to a new well-paying job, but I do not miss cellular data support at all.
    People from Lazy F summer camp I wonder about (and I don't miss the sunflower seeds): Sherrie Drew, Amber Cox, Heidi Adamson, Randy Quillen, Amy Grossclose, LouAn and Donna Farrell [yes, I saw LouAn at the Fair years ago; said she was living in Bothell, and never got back to me], Todd Webb, Sara 'Saran Wrap' Stewart, Robin 'Byrde' Zalesny [yeah, you married my neighbor Ray Whittum, and then?], my homies Kurstin and Charri Fields, and an untold number of other people. [humming "Pass It On"] I'd put Karen Strausbaugh on the list but I'm not sure what I'd do with that information; laughter can only spackle so many of the holes in our souls. On the plus side, I know where to find LaRoy King (see the dancing sheep at the mattress store?), I need to give Christmas greetings to Raberta Senn, and I was pinged the other day with significant packet loss by Bobby Iannetta. A hand to the heart then up to the heavens for Bryan Bell and Lucas Lane because you are still remembered. --#2

    I think I need to modify the index page of this site to say the posting here is even more irratic than intended. (Everyday Stupidities gets posts twice a week. Everyone should run there and nearly forget about this site, though as a friend demonstrated going to the easily-remembered URL brings up a page with the less-memorable links to those other better sites, so there is a reason to look this page up.) The Daybook and Rant? Not so much, but both have been updated today so you may as well give them a look while you're here. And I know, I haven't put the archives of 2005's writings up for view, ten months later. Sorry! I will, really!
    I've been thinking about one particular anecdote about my godfather, mentioned four months ago in the entry below. I don't claim it's interesting, just that happened. When I graduated from high school he and his now-exwife gave me a bath towel and washcloth, two things I needed for college. The problem was, they were both made of some synthetic fiber with nil absorbancy... even a wet chamois removed water from the body better than these. Twelve years later, I got married and he/they [I'm not sure if they were still together at the time] gave us a punchbowl, which is always great for newlyweds. The funny part was not so much that when I pulled it out of the box the silver rim and ladle had tarnished so it was apparent it had never been looked at before being wrapped and handed to us, the funny part was that it was obvious it'd never been out of the box because the gift card from whomever gave it to him/them was still inside. For the record, I've never taken it out of the box since the wedding reception eight years ago, either; I can see how he/they could have cast it off without a second look, and I expect to do the same someday because we just don't live in a society where everyone drinks a lot of punch, and those who do borrow the crystal punch bowl that shows up at those rare punch parties.
    Okay, the real writing of this long-awaited update is in the longer-awaited (8 months) Rotating Rant so just get over there already. See, folks? I do still write Daybook entries, such as it is. If you seek reality avoidance therapy or just photos of silly stuff around me, you might wanna see my Flickr Random Nonsense set as well. --#2

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