The 2001 Daybook

    My home survived the Christmas onslaught. Granted, it'll be like February before the livingroom looks like it did before December but that is to be expected. The best gift I received this year was a GravityGames brand pogostick, made for folks between 125 pounds and 200 pounds. Storytime... The two things I wanted most when I was a little kid (grandparents offering the Jafco catalog for the original version of point-and-click shopping -- point with finger at the item in the catalog, then click the retractable pen and circle the item) were spring shoes like Wiley E. Coyote (Genius) had and a pogostick. In the 1970's, real spring shoes didn't exist -- it's only been recently that the Russians have created a gas-powered version that truly make a person run like they were a caped superhero -- but there was always the faithful pogostick. And Santa obliged me when I was seven: I got a shiny metal pogostick. Nowhere to use it but a cement slab by the garage down on the farm, no balance or dexterity to really operate the thing correctly until was probably fourteen. I felt kinda silly about that fact, that I had this toy for half my life and hadn't really paid any attention to it for five years, but was just now becoming able to operate it! It had a counter on the handlebars which was clicked forward by a spring (and if the spring was in the wrong place, your knees would keep it from counting) and I got pretty good with the stick; I could eventually bounce over a hundred times nonstop. Pogosticks are reliant on one simple component, a rubber foot which it bounces on, and as you can imagine the force of a metal cylander impaling itself into the rubber eventually causes the foot to wear through. This was the reason why I could no longer pogo, that and the weight rating was 80 pounds to 140 pounds, and I've been at that upper threshold (and holding) since age 16 so I couldn't help but damage the foot and have a really sharp ride when I'd hit the end of the impaction spring. I had to give that stick up because I'd outgrown it. A few years ago I found a similar stick used at a thrift shop with a little more bounce to it (150 pound rating, which is still pushing it), but once again I wore through the foot (not that it wasn't already mostly worn when I got it, of course) and I keep that one in the shed in hopes I'll take a moment and buy one from the crutch-and-cane maintenance department of Walgreens Pharamacy someday. This new one was made for grown-up kids, has foam grips instead of plastic, and handles my weight with finesse. Downside is that the kids who come up and want to try it out (as my nephew, age 8, came to discover) can't even get it started... which brought the thrift shop model back into commission for ten minutes. The inside edges of my knees, where they'd make contact if you were knock-kneed, are bruised now from lack of cushioning, but I like to think of it like a snowboarder does of his aches and bumps -- if you're having a good time and you can get back up again, you don't notice or mind that you've been injured. And no, for the record, I haven't fallen off yet.
    Previously seen in this channel: my mention eight months ago of how my parents moved eleven months ago without telling me. I was in their neighborhood a week ago (thus my not posting here) and stopped in for a visit. Huge house, and it's just the two of them nowadays. In an apple orchard, so they don't have to mess with yardwork other than some landscaping. Miles from anywhere, but still a bottlerocket's flight from friends of theirs, one of whom is perhaps the biggest prick my wife or I have ever met (separately; she was an education major and I was an elementary school student, so we both were 'under' him once). And on this occasion, my younger brother and his wife were visiting, though I never saw her (which is fine, we still haven't forgiven the cleavage and black lipstick she displayed at my aunt's funeral). I'm gonna be an uncle! He's grey at the age of 29; Dad was half-bald at age 18, funny how genetics wreak havoc on people's hair...   And speaking of family visited, the day before we went to see our wonderful adorable neices in Leavenworth. People were concerned that snowy roads would be the death of us on this trip. No, actually, Blewitt Pass and Snoqualmie Pass were bare and dry the two times we crossed each -- it was getting up their long driveway that did us in, that's where the snow was packed. Two years ago, Paige needed her bro-in-law to give her a little tow to get her out and she was still halfway up the driveway. This time, so did he as his 4x4 slid backwards into the right front tire of our car (no harm done) as he tried to move us. It all worked out, he chained up and we all got moving.
    The only cryptic or ironic/moronic thing I can think of right now is admittedly political: A week ago, a news report quietly came out saying that Osama had died of natural causes ("huh huh, you can all go home now, show's over, nothing to see, huh huh") but the intelligence folks figure he's fleeing the Pakistan border -- then in the last few days, some dickwaving between India and Pakistan at their border has been brewing, diverting attention away from the Afghan border ("Hey, what's that over there?" <swish!>). Things that make you go hmmmm. --#2

Happy birthday Emily... NOT. So, I turned 21. Whoopeydoo. My dear older sister took me out, and bought me that greatest of all birthday presents: underwear. Unfortunately, I was also in the throes of a horrendous migraine, so I couldn’t really enjoy my time out with my sister. My dear spouse didn’t get up until we got home, when I had to sleep again due to pain, so no time was spent together, though we had both requested the day off. Nothing useful got done, my house is still a mess. And the next day, I ended up going to the hospital to get a shot for my horrendous headache. Great stuff eh? Well, at least when I was knocked out, OTHER people enjoyed me. I hear that I was really strange, even slightly entertaining while waiting to fall asleep after the injection. So, I end up having 3 days off in a row, and what good is it? At least my head doesn’t hurt, that’s all I can say.
In other news, my great wedding reception is in Yakivegas, on the 15th of December. Of course, to see how many people actually USE this site, I will be waiting for any e-mail appropriate to this invitation. Please no spam. I am neither that sexy, and anymore, I am not that available either. --#3
[In an accompanying email, she expresses that she hasn't fallen off the face of the earth, but rather is hanging on by the skin of her teeth, and that she's working in Seattle and is not pregnant. I'm hosting a holiday fête at my place the day of her reception so regretfully cannot attend... #2]

    Greetings, cybernauts. Thanksgiving has come and gone for my household. [For anyone reading this outside the United States: Thanksgiving is a holiday loosely based on a feast which may not have happened three hundred years ago, once everyone got over the diseases the Puritans who came to this land gave to the indigenous population. By legend, it is a time to give thanks to one's Creator for not smiting them and for friends & family also not smiting them, but in the recent past it's become a holiday where people don't have to go to work on a Thursday and they can sit around with relatives drinking beer and watching football. Since I don't like macrobrew or pigskin, I'm still happy not to have been smote.] We had so much food that we wound up having to throw out a bunch that took on a foul stench a few days ago, and contrary to popular belief we didn't eat turkey sandwiches for the days that followed -- heck, we never touched the bird after I'd carved half of it. I never knew that a turkey produced the same gellatinous substance that you find in a can of SPAM™ but that's what the bird was standing (on one leg) in when I slid it from pan to can. Call it wasteful, since it is afterall, but it seems that the dishes outnumbered the relatives. Only my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law's family (enumerating four) attended, and so mathematically we had roughly half a pie for each of us. No football played on our television, no, but the two children turned on cartoons (half cool archival Warner Bros, half moralistic Disney Channel tripe) while the womenfolk talked and the menfolk, uh, dozed in the livingroom even before the tryptophan injection. The goofiest buy-toys ad seen: There's a "Concentration"- and "Twenty Questions"-variety game where the ad shows the faces on these character cards saying stuff like "red hair? that's not me!" before being eliminated from consideration. Nice enough game. The end of the ad has a disclaimer for the stupid: Card faces do not actually speak.
    And Chrome says that he survived too without doing anyone grevious harm. Considering that if I read his timeline right, he spent more time driving than dealing with massed relatives, that would make sense. He has one sister and bro-in-law that apparently keep asking him when he's going to, no charge no tax no strings no $ input, build and give them a computer, despite the fact they have one he loaned them ages ago already going underused. Write your own ending.
    I may not be a macrobrew drinker, but there's one brand which I grew up with but hadn't seen in years: Lucky Lager  The store down the street has a huge display of it now, surprised to say, but it isn't the same -- because Lucky is supposed to come in bottles, and these were cans. Lucky had anagrams on the underside of the bottlecaps, and my siblings and friends would gather them ("collect the whole set! trade with your friends!") to share the anagrams. My sister and I had these great collections of bottlecaps... no, that's not so much a reflection on my parents' drinking habits (though my mom used to drink beer more often then) because they entertained regularly with brewski in the '70s, where now it's wine and mixed drinks. Now, if someone would go retro with Rainier Beer...
    My second forray into the preservatives was to make rosehip jam a couple days ago. It wasn't quite as easy as the marmalade when it came to getting it set (wound up having to re-cook the batch after I'd got it into jars) but it's pretty and seems to taste good. And since I'd planned this adventure for about 9 years, I finally used the rosehips I'd gathered in the '90s from bushes that are now history due to the proprietors of my old place on the lake building a road to nowhere. Grrr. Anyway, if anyone comes over demanding toast and spread, I'm ready. --#2

    Okay, how can it have been a whole month since the last thing I posted? I mean, it doesn't seem like it's been a month since my birthday... two weeks, it feels like. In that time I've spent a weekend in Leavenworth and hung out with the cutest neices one could wish for, won some Christmas lights in eBay auctions, done a little Christmas shopping (not for others! for the season! I yust go nuts, as Stan Boreson said), made some quince marmalade from the little tree in the backyard (it came out surprisingly well; this is my first forray into preserves), did some major and overdue trimming of the dogwood out front ("you're killing the fuck out of it," said the guy from across the street right before he left with a friend whose car literally had a cloud of potsmoke rolling out the window -- is it snack time now? -- thus his opinion can likely be disregarded), made a huge update to the galleries of my brother-in-law's website, Bamboard USA and tore the rearview off the driver's side door of my 2002 Saturn backing out of the driveway. Busy two weeks, I guess. Opera 6 beta is now available for download, and it's pretty slick, though twice its the size of 4.x or 5.x (so it's up to 3 megs, wooo) and is trying hard to look like Netscape 6 or Internet Explorer 6 -- backwards compatability to backwards browsers -- though looks more like the Mac OS X "Aqua" interface, straight out of the package.
    Cryptic (or is it ironic, or would that be moronic?) thought of the day: This college student I know in California participated in a protest against Staples, the office supply place, due to their practice of using timber growth they shouldn't be touching for their paper products. (I don't know anything about it. Many college kids protest injustices of the world when not drinking heavily, then after they graduate and get lives they drive SUV's to Wal-Mart.) She took notice of the irony that the paper used for their flyers and signs was not made from recycled materials, thereby contributing to the problem they were complaining about. Funny how that works out.
    There will be a new rant in December, I promise. I'll make two excuses for some of the time that hasn't been given a Rant (going on half a year)... a) I'm happy-go-lucky so nothing has really pissed me off enough to record it for cyber-posterity; b) while world events merit some outrage, you can go anywhere -- TV, radio, papers, websites which state opinions or purport to report news -- and hear that kind of rant. If I were to have ranted in the last couple months, it's be about jingoism and patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrals; precisely how putting a flag sticker on the back of your car affects those who have died and those who are fighting, how much money is going to those who can help and how much goes to giving a fly-by-night reap-the-spirit-of-the-moment doodad salesperson quick income. Not that I wouldn't. But I prefer to rant about things that actually affect me, like bad drivers [no comments about my rearview please] or stupid people I have to wade through.
    Another cryptic thought: AOL has apparently struck a merchandising deal with the makers of the "Harry Potter" movie, for my beloved spouse has brought me an AOL 5.0 CD with Harry's logo on it (and the packaging, and the "Here's a second free month's access" flier inside). Some people accuse Harry Potter of being a tool of the devil because he's a sorcerer in training. I think AOL has just given credance to this. <insert comment about 7-11 cups having a Harry Potter game demo on mini-CD in their lids here>
    Just letting you know that I'm not dead. Chrome isn't either; he came to visit me not long ago, whereupon he spoke of what was up with school and his dealings with Uncle Sam's weekend warriors, and he has a standing invitation to spend Thanksgiving with me if he gets too peeved with his sister's shindig in Portland. As for Emmer, I haven't the foggiest notion. I should change that. It's her first Ramadan, so I wonder how she's faring. --#2

    Greetings, I'm 34 years of age now. I've almost given up on the mental image of the person sitting at a table alone after lighting the candles, crying while singing "Happy Birthday To Me." As fun as that may be. Birthdays have always been a weird place for me, partially because I'm not an autumn person despite the month of my birth -- what the hell does one do in the Fall beside get cold, windblown and chapped? I take not getting what I asked for personally, and I take getting useless crap seriously (Mom, I'm not a precocious 12-year-old anymore, stop with the brain puzzles and daily calendars that don't involve Dilbert -- and I never told you, but you sent me the exact same sweater two years in a row!!!). I usually wind up relying on wild serandipity to make the day worthwhile, no offense to those who have stepped in to do something with me... like the time a few years ago I wandered through the alley behind the U-Haul place on my birthday, and found three Russian cloissanne pins and a pair of women's pants that not only fit me but had several red pubes in the zipper to inspire baby's imagination. There are birthdays I can't talk about for one reason or another [evil grin] which didn't suck, and then there are others like when I was 11 and seemingly no one noticed that I wasn't present (I was picking up heroin needles strewn around Olney Park, another thing no one noticed).
    I can't say I don't have a wish list. Can say that a lot of the stuff is out of the reasonable price range, such as import music only found on Internet stores. This does make shopping for me kinda hard, but this is improvement over a previous age where I didn't have a concept of what I wanted. My siblings would pull out a catalog (Sears, Jafco, JCPennys) and point, but they wanted toys and shit. Wish I woulda had the Internet in the 70's and 80's... I can't picture my grandparents shopping online though. I can however picture my sister and brothers going apeshit, giving them URLs by the dozen for stuff they want. My grandparents in that respect got lucky, they only had to worry about mauled catalogs. --#2

    After the spousal unit and I moved out of that duplex a year ago which we'd lived in for two and a half years immediately after our betroughal, I made the conscious decision that I wouldn't go back by there ever again. Too much had changed about the place, such as both sets of residents (the neighbor moved out a month before we did) and the well-tended yard (we took the roses because the landlord just wanted grass to mow), that it would be uncomfortable to look back. Last Friday, the place changed even more: our replacements in the homestead were moving out but apparently pushed a couch up against the baseboard heaters and left the heat on, and the couch caught fire. So did the hardwood floors, the glass-doored shelves in the kitchen, and whatever else was available. The fire department had to make a vent hole in the roof, and the heat of the blaze caused the mantle and fireplace to crumble (that seems kinda strange when you think about it...). Truly the place is not the same. The landlord is finding out how many thousands of dollars it will cost to get the place back in rentable shape, but I'm betting that it will no longer be a mirror image of the other half of the house -- which, by some twist of fate, was mostly undamaged and is still inhabited. I had been driving past that area and had considered taking a turn to swing past there on Friday afternoon, but as usual resisted the urge. Maybe now I know why I had thought about it?
    I spent this last weekend painting the bathroom. We'd originally planned to do it months ago and had even stopped showering in there for a few weeks so it would dry out, but we never found the time. She was out of town, I had nothing better to do, the time was right and we had paint. I think it looks pretty good, except for where in putting the shower curtain back up big huge chunks of paint -- down to the drywall! -- came off; she's a little more picky about certain other snafus committed in the job, like how when I pulled the windowsill out to fix the crappy job which had been done installing the heat-efficient windows I split the wood in half diagonally; we both however agree that while the paint used for the walls worked out very nicely, the stuff I had to run out and buy for the ceiling (having nearly run out of paint upon finishing the walls) was of a different chemical composition (I went 5 places and no one had Red Devil "porcelean white satin" latex... why?!) thus still is very strongly odorous nearly a week later. But it's done, other than touchups to the missing chunks. Now for the livingroom, which was Last May's project...
    Amusing work on the Grafitti Bridge: last week someone painted an American flag, fairly well too, in the underpass, with the caption, "Serving our country the only way we know how." Peace through superior tagging? Cryptic thought of the week: I don't claim this one makes sense, it eludes me but is too weird to keep to myself. I had replied to my friend Andrea's near-daily missive about life in general, and later in the day I got the following email back from her... Subject: Are you trying to create a Fairy Ring? entire message text Spill it bitch. What the hell does that mean? And what has me laughing tonight: Imagine, if you will, a fragrance (a.k.a. a perfume or cologne) called Ass. The advertising possibilities are beyond endless. Ooh, baby, you smell like Ass. This holiday season, give your man some Ass. Ass pour elle; Ass pour hommes. Coco Chanel's Ass / Elizabeth Taylor's White Ass / Michael Jordan's Sweaty Ass / Ralph Lauren's Ass. "Pardon me, miss, I couldn't help but notice your Ass." My favorite image so far is the guy who walks into Nordstrom's and asks the perfume counterperson, "Do you sell Ass?" (And when she says Yes, he asks how much her Ass costs. If you have to ask, you can't afford, heh heh.) Oh wait, how about the guy who walks into Nordstrom's and doesn't know where the perfume counter is, so he asks an employee, "I need some Ass! Where can I find your Ass?" I'll stop now, you can make up your own ads.
    Er, okay, one last poke at that joke: Consider if the old ads for English Leather had a gay man instead of a woman? "All my men wear English Leather, or they wear nothing at all" takes on a new, but fairly accurate, meaning... It's the paint fumes, folks, I swear it's the paint fumes talking. :-P   --#2

    Terribly truant on writing but as I've said before I don't want this to be just another blog where you get to discover what we had for lunch. An update on the R.A.T. pack... Emmer pinged me to say she's doing okay with work, married life is good, and there are some rediculous assumptions about Jews and Muslems floating around in the wake of recent events. Chrome hasn't said much about school yet, but other thoughts about life were posted here yesterday (see entry below). Myself, der Mushie, survived the Western Washington Fair and the powers-that-be at work discovering that I have been avoiding DSL calls; a little sleep and a little overdue training have made me a better person. A few highlights of the Fair:

    And this bit of insight from Emmer about recent events: It's not fair to criticise Islam for what's happened courtesy of a rogue Saudi who is hanging out in Afghanistan because Islam isn't about anything that guy espouses. The Koran clearly states that attacking the innocent is a one-way trip to hell (paraphrasing Emmer), and most Islamic nations that don't hate us for our capitalism and hedonism condemn the attacks for giving the religion a bad name. I suggested in response that those Islamic nations treat members of bin Laden's opium party as they would any heretic, which you may know isn't exactly a slap on the wrist. The white blood cells of a healthy organism will absorb and destroy germs which come up within it. --#2

Another endless day... please excuse any point where I seem less than lucid.
My company 1SG called today, asking for volunteers to work as airport security. In light of the eleventh, I'm surprised the call for something, anything, didn't come earlier. I almost said yes, and feel rather guilty about not volunteering. Ah yes, the eternal internal dialogue I have in balancing my needs against others, usually resolved by just not dealing with people... The time frame is the killer factor, anywhere from four to six months. Drop that so I'd be done before Winter quarter, and I'll go in a heartbeat. People needed on Monday... by next drill, senior leadership will likely have split things down a bit, as this will make it easier to get volunteers. Give me weeks, or a month or so.
The feeling of RAGE about the elventh lasted about a week. Don't think anyone other than Henry really noticed it though. If I'd gotten the call during that time, know I'd have gone, no thought involved. Why do I sit and be selfish now? Fuck me, I should call 1SG back in a few hours, when he's likely to be awake.
So many things I've never quite understood about humans (guess that being told you are one isn't enough of an education)... like the need to demonize those who wrong us. This is one time when Hanlon's Razor1 can be applied on a very, very grand scale. Hell, even Stupidity isn't really required in the explanation here, though it's easy to read in... but let's forget about playing with definitions. To generalize to the point where inaccuracies start creeping in:
   The roots of the situation are pretty damned simple: The belief structure of
   a certain group of people does not allow room for US to exist as we are.

The solutions we've been following so far have been ... inadequate to fix the real problem. I'm scared that the only complete solution to this just may be the complete eradication of (at least one) ideology. This will require killing a whole lot of people.
Not going to happen.
I don't mean the killing, I mean the eradication of an ideology.
Yup, the retalitory killing may have already started on the 11th. There was a missile attack in Afghanistan, which a British reporter on site guessed to be of US origin. I've been pretty well ignoring the news since a few days afterwards, and have heard no followups... but I'd like to think we'd wait at least until there was some evidence.
On the subject of retalitory killing... being a member of a reserve component, there's a chance I could be involved in such. Hell, I'll even be *happy* to help, if it will be effective in preventing future attacks like those on the eleventh. Problem for me is that such probably won't.
Bah, enough of that for now.
Personal distraction lately has been coding, though not very seriously. Check my home page for more on that. Should get some help on this project, though good help has been consistantly hard to find.   --#1
1Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to Malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Did you ever want to call me 'baby'?
Did you ever want to call me on the phone?
Did you even know that I was... home?

    I woke up this morning feeling that life pretty much was bothersome. Give it a few minutes of TV coverage of New York City this morning, and that put things into perspective: some people have it much much worse today. Then it became a day where you just wanna shout "This isn't fucking Beiruit, assholes; take your bullshit back home and get some counseling." Hmmm, that's not where I wanted to go with today's / this week's entry so pardon me for taking a moment to express anger over some misguided souls interfering with my day -- and completely, irrepairably, wrecking ten or twenty thousand other people's day. The choruses quoted at either end of today's missive come from a song by Chaser, "Post Vacation," which is what I was listening to on the way to work so I wouldn't have to hear the radio announcers say the same five phrases on endless loop.
    The Puyallup Fair started last Friday and I've put in 8-10 hours a day on weekends, 3 hours a day yesterday and today ("don't quit your day job," as they say) handing out gyros. It's a real kick, I'm working with some great people, and there are plenty of passersbys to make fun of. And yes, there is a booth here offering those horrible joke teeth seen in Randall last week. Candidly I admit that last year I wasn't so jazzed about the Fair, and wanted to stick it out at work -- and this year, I don't wanna go to my regular job, I wanna be at the Fair! But as stated here a year ago I work at the Fair for the fun of it, it's a distraction from my daily grind and I don't have to tell people to click their Start buttons (though today I did give written instructions to a coworker on how to disable Internet Exploder's Content Advisor). And I don't have to ask "do you want fries with that?" -- it's more like, "do you want feta cheese on that?" It's betta with feta. And in the people-watching, I came across the latest cryptic message (I really like this one)... it's a black T-shirt with the following written in scratchy white:  (sic)
    I don't know which I need more lately, dopamine or trazadone. It's not that I'm unhappy and it's not that I'm untired, just joy and sleep this week don't come on cue. One thing I am sure of, and that is I'm alive, inside and out, and thank you's go out to the Mad Greek for confirming both. That must be why I do it every year. It's the only summer camp I get anymore.
Did you ever want to call me 'baby'?
Did I ever want to get you alone?
Did you even notice I was... gone?

"From up here, everything looks stupid." -- Sandra, sitting in a bathtub on a hillside, in the British hairdressing comedy Blowdry
    My annual pilgrimage to the town of Packwood went well, and I didn't spend a lot of money at the fleamarket. We've decided from henceforth to refer to the shindig as the "Packwood Citywide Flea Market and Dog Show" due to the number of canines seen. You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a dog, it seemed. The big score of the day was a set of Tinkertoys, marked as being from the 50's but the label art placed it more toward 1970. There just were not enough hours in the day to go everywhere, thus we got even less seen this year than previously. But it's all the thrill of going, not what you do when you get there... suuure. The joke of the day was as such: Before hitting Packwood, there's a community called Randall a few miles away where the fire department has a pancake breakfast and swapmeet. One of the vendors there had five displays of these joke teeth, which were hilarious and frightening. For the rest of the day, we'd see folks with really bad mouths or dental structures and comment about the popularity of that booth.
    We spent the night in a pear orchard outside Donald, Washington [wanna be one of the four people to visit my neice's website? Uncle Brian says it's way excellent!] watching satellite TV (next on Discovery Health: People with no physical flaws whatsoever get breast implants and sculpted noses), then the next day visited friends in Toppenish, Where The West Still Lives, City Of Murals. I was impressed by my friend Tina's new place; I didn't know that the Methodist Church circa 1920 had been divided up to build nearby houses out of the pieces. And she makes one wicked hummus for a German woman. That was the only visit I made during the entire time I was in T-town.
    Later on we visited some friends of my sister-in-law, where I suddenly discover right before we're leaving that I know the man of the house: my sister double-dated with a friend of his. I brought up his date's name, his first words were, "I don't remember her", then his wife said she knew the girl because they went to school together, and after a couple moments of thought his second words were, "We don't wanna go there." As my dad said, falling in love is like falling in shit -- you may survive the initial shock but the experience sticks to you. The joke about the girl back then was that she wore enough foundation that you could build a house on her face (hell, she slept in it, I witnessed this fact at a couple of my sister's slumber parties); he said that they were making out in a car once and he wound up with all this makeup glop all over him. Small world but I wouldn't wanna paint it. So we hopped back into the Saturn and headed back home, with a brief stop in the Ellensburg Canyon to listen to loud night creatures and stare at the incandenscent moon. The moon was so bright that we didn't need our headlights on the way home, but used them nonetheless as a courtesy to others. The woodland creatures must have felt the same way because we saw four deer, all crossing the road in front of us. One of the fawns should be very happy I have ABS; my wife certainly was.
    The real find of the weekend was this: Our good friends M&M/Mars are test-marketing Dulce de Leche - Caramel M&M's in certain areas, and my brother-in-law's family happens to live in one of them. So thus I have a bag of Caramel M&M's on my desk right now. What can I say about them? An M&M that will melt in your hand, they're pretty darn rich and I figure they're beyond wonderful on ice-cream. I joked that the next new character after Crispy ["oh... I'm toast!"] will be named Gooey. Anyway, if you see these guys, give them a try unless you're hyperglycemic or something.
    There was one thing I didn't do during trip that made me feel sad: Every year around this time, I visit the lake I used to live on and pick rosehips, keeping some and distributing others around the lake as seed. When I lived there, a huge thicket of roses was at the edge of the property, but new ownership has torn that out to put in... a road to nowhere. Which couldn't be very good for the local wildlife, since that particular corner was where the beavers and marmosets called home. I went past the lake a couple times on nearby highways, but never found the ability in daylight to visit and reap/sow rosehips. The thrill is in going, not in what you do there?
Objects in mirror no longer matter. -- plateframe seen on a motorcycle in Packwood

    Maybe you've seen this happen a few times? You haven't seen someone in months or years, so obviously plenty of things have transpired in the lapse, but when asked "So what's new?" you deftly/daftly say, "Oh, not much." That's about the size of it here -- sure, I bought a new car, Chrome came to visit a couple days ago and we woulda gone to visit Emmer if only we knew her address or which store in Seattle is her workplace, all four microwaves on my floor at my work have gone toes-up and being a Sunday the customer service floor is inaccessable (but at least both the refrigerators are new!), the earth turns and the Mariners continue their winning streak [albeit not today]. Never wanting to turn this Daybook into one of those dumbass blogs where close personal friends get to find out what I had for breakfast (we all know sites like that) but something where anyone can drop in at any time and not know any of us from Adam yet still have a nice time -- sure, this place is one big in-joke but that's another matter -- I won't go into great detail about the last couple weeks. I'll describe my car, though. :)
    I've been driving Paige's Geo Metro for a couple weeks due to the GrannyWagon (1980 Subaru GL 1800 station wagon) having burned-out heads. The doctor said she was good for short distances without idling, but my 45 mile drive to work on I-5 allows neither of those items. And I can't find the gears on her Metro, so I was doing more harm than good in her tin can. We decided to bite the bullet and go car shopping. The first place we went was a Toyota dealership, where even early-90's models with 130K miles goes for 2001 prices and no one ever paid any attention to us. I don't feel very bad about that part, it made our departure easier. So onward to the Saturn dealership where we were kicking tires and contemplating the state of the union when Kerry the salesguy comes bounding through the cars and one-upped us by giving a sharp thump to a body panel to show the durability of the car near us. I admit I'm impressed. We spent a few hours talking to him, test drove a 1999 SL2 sage-green Homecoming Edition and a 2002 SL1 Pepsi-blue standard version with 8 total miles on it, and ... we never made it to the KIA dealership down the street. The next day, we came in and signed the papers on the blue SL1. I was sold. Three things kept me from embracing the 1999 model, despite it being just slightly cheaper than the 2002 and only had 15k miles: #1 - the greasy Armor All on the steering wheel, not to mention the fact the steering wheel was the sort anyone would consider putting Armor All on; #2 - I don't care if it's all the rage in Europe, I find the white gauges on a black background with yellow dash lights VERY distracting and ugly; #3 - financing on a new car is 1.9% [or as an ad on TV a week later said, 0.9% for qualified buyers for certain models which ours apparently wasn't] while financing on a used car is 9%, so you can guess how powerful some people's buy-a-new-car lobby is. I have to say, the ads for Saturns are true -- they are a different kind of car company, and this sentence is my way of saying that I would indeed recommend a Saturn (and the dealership I went to, see link) to a friend. If you wondered: we're keeping Granny, she wasn't a trade-in. You don't sell family. It's going to cost over $1000 to get her fixed, which we may do soon as we have set aside some money, but she still runs so we still have a way to get furniture home from IKEA. Of course, now every time I want to buy something the least bit fun, er, unneccesary, my wife leans over and says, "You have a car payment." That's reality for ya, kids.
    The Puyallup Fair starts on September 7. The city-wide swapmeet in Packwood, WA is this weekend. I'll be at both. Chrome spent the night and while he pulled out his notebook computer I don't recall him actually opening it. Vikaden can do that to you, the boy crashed on my couch after having one for a headache... such fun he is! Since there's no Rant this month due to laziness or contentedness, I'll write a micro-rant on Emmer's behalf: She and her husband (yes, she has one of those now, cat's out of the bag) applied at a major Internet service provider recently which was hiring left and right. Neither got the position, with the hiring folks citing that he didn't have enough customer service experience (does this matter?) and was overqualified for tech support because he has an MCSE (knowing how to fix things is bad?), and I don't recall what kind of lame excuse they gave her (who has had lots of customer service experience and has fixed Windows on her own a few times). The guy they feared would leave the ISP for someone bigger and better now wraps fish (whereas someone who did finish customer service training spent a week on the phone before leaving for Microsoft, whoopsie!). Sometimes personnel could use a good pimpslap. From me to you, Emmer & Umar: The folks I work for have reversed their decision to not hire any more customer service people, after cancelling one training class some weeks ago, and not only are staging two more classes but are paying $75 per placement to any employee who refers them (and they stick around 3 months) and borrowing people from night shift to work day shift until those classes have ended (yes, after hiring 3 waves of people recently they're shorthanded?). I had a cryptic thought courtesy of a car's license plate frame but have misplaced it, so here's one from the file for you: "Everyone wants a rock and a piece of string to tie around it." Damn straight. --#2

    R.A.T. isn't the only loose conflab I'm a member of. Two years ago, a theatre was built a few miles away by the name of "Longston 14 Cinemas." The first movie it played was Star Wars: Episode 1 on its opening night, which was on three screens for the entire time I worked there. I linked up with two girls, Jess & MeLissa, and a guy, Blake, and together we cruised around wasting gas and fought crime (heh, kidding) under the name of The Longston 14 Minus 10. One of the things we did back in the day, two summers ago, was all watch American Pie shortly after its release (it was free for us afterall), and we had made a pledge fairly similar to the one the guys in the movie made: to always be friends and care for one another. Blake is still around but has sworn us off in search of less realistic friends, in fact his last job (not his present one, recent change!) was just a mile away from my home. Jess, MeLissa, and I however still shoot the breeze, go biking, and consider one another very dear. Yesterday was the opening of American Pie 2 and the three of us had to repeat history and go see that together today.
    I'm not going to give anything away so don't sweat (will say that IMHO it is as funny as if not funnier than the original, though there are fewer catchphrases)... The theme of the movie is that time may pass and we all grow in some manner, but some things never change, such as friendship. I'm sure the trailer for the film said as much, I've never seen it; the film is set at the end of the boys' freshman year of college, where the previous one was a Porky's-esque drive to Get Lucky at the end of their high school career. So there the three of us are, The Longston 14, at the Longston 14 (only recognising 2 people from back in the day, who were managers then and still are) to watch what happens one year later in movie time and, in the hours of talk before going to the theatre, the two years in real time which has transpired. The girls were in high school when we started at the theatre; now, Jess is 7 months pregnant and recently married to a young man who has a cushy job at a tire store, and MeLissa is nearly done with community college (with plans to go for a medical degree somewhere nearby) and lives with a guy she has worked with the last three years at The Puyallup Fair. Jess is stepmother a few days a week to a 4 year old boy who calls her Mama because the kid's birth-mother (who was never married to the Jess' husband) will not allow him to call her Mom. MeLissa and her man occasionally talk about marriage somewhere distantly down the road, though in the nearly two years they've been together they have never said I love you to one another in earnest. Jess has always been the petty, demanding one, always having to have things her way -- but by the time the day was over, it was apparent her pettiness had taken a back seat to his, since he was slated to join us but wasn't going to make himself available until 7:30, hardly a matinee schedule since we all got together at 1pm, so he was all pouty about not joining us, and when she called his cell phone because he still wasn't home when we got back at 7:30 she lied and said we didn't go to the movies so he wouldn't feel bad. MeLissa had always been the most vocal in her curiosity about her sexual being, even so far as to throw herself at Blake on occasion because he was nearby -- now, she's content with someone who still lives with his mother at age 30 and is physical with her every few months when they're away from home, and appears to be with him because he's nearby and not because she can't find better if she tried; he chose not to come with us on this trip, he had guys he needed to play computer games with. As for me, I'm too close to the subject :) but I've gone from random minimum-wage jobs to something steady and in my field of expertise, I've stuck to that one person who truly loves me (who was working this afternoon), and therein with those two items I feel less like I am lacking a direction in my life. And there the three of us sat, at Baskin-Robbins, at Jess' living room, at the theatre, watching a movie about the evolution of friends.
    Amazing the parallels between fiction and real life. Amazing also how as some things change, they stay the same. I pointed out the parallels between them and us as the three of us got into our own vehicles at Jess' house to go reunite with our significant others, but I think they were just smiling and nodding about the observation. Doesn't matter, to me it's all true. Will there be another sequel to either of these events? I leave that one to the producers.
"We're really proud of you, son. Now here's you're penis cream..." --#2

I added a few lines to the previous entry, stuff I had mentally misplaced (I thought of it all in the car, but typed it at work during loooong calls), so you might wanna read it again; if you haven't read it yet, now's your chance.
   Seen on the top of a taxi the other day: Captain Morgan is inside!  This is not what I wanna hear.
Email from Emmer demonstrates she's still alive, and will soon move from the dustbowl to the Emerald City -- University of Washington has more jobs, less Daddy, and a great pharmacy program. Excellent! --#2

It's fucking cold! -- Dave Gahan, on performing in the open air of the Amphitheatre in George, WA
    The holiday was fun-packed, the Mushroom still intact... sorta. Rather than rush to the Depeche Mode concert on Sunday, my bride and I decided to head out a day early and stay the night in a motel near our destination and have the day to goof off. That would be Ellensburg, that sleepy rodeo town that Chrome resides in. We got there later than expected so visiting him was out of the question (turns out he went to bed at 10pm and we arrived at 12:30). Little did we suspect, however, that the one cultural event this town has -- not the rodeo, the jazz festival -- was happening this weekend, and there was no room at the inns. With the exception of one down the street from the Thunderbird (in sooo many ways), The Outhouse. Okay, so the name is similar to that; mine suits it better.
    You don't often see half a dozen cars out front of a motel's office with people looking kinda desperate like that, but there we all were. And oddly enough, no matter how many sheep came to this fold, the NO of NO VACANCY never came on. Not sure if this makes it a Salvation Army safe haven or the roadhouse from "From Dusk Til Dawn" (without Cheech hawking poosay), but this appeared to be the only show in town at that hour. I turned to Paige and said, "It's about time we did something cheesy." The lobby of the office was a right triangle, with a hypotenuse of about eight feet and eight tired feet standing on that floor. Since the woman behind the counter was very meticulous [read: slow] about each credit card transaction, we had plenty of time to take in the ambiance of the room: some big live plants, some small plastic plants, a shelf with five different-yet-matching clocks, photocopies of butterflies on colored paper and taped up around the room (for that third-grade classroom feel), a wall-sized black velvet painting of ...something..., a display shelf for brochures of other fine places to go, and... that glass case that separated her from us. There wasn't much rhyme or reason to this menagerie. Glass grapes, camera boxes with uncameralike objects on top of them as though they belonged there, tschatchke and bric-a-brac, and the occasional sign on or in the case that related to your motel stay. And those were confusing too: "We have free Cab. TV -- Our Cab. is not working, we hope technician will come sometime" and "If your room does not have phone, feel free to make your calls from the office" (there's a beige phone on the counter, on top of a phonebook, but the cord to the handset is disconnected). I actually did have to use that phone to tell Chrome where we were, and the customer next to me was snickering as I described my surroundings obliquely.
    Then we come to the actual room. You can tell it's gonna be a good one when the lady hands you a key that's on a little plastic fan (5 for $1 at the dollar store) with a rainbow pattern on it and the ALICE on the veins. (I was tempted to check the key bin the next morning when we were leaving to see if other people got different names.) So with much fear and trepidation we open the door... It's desecrated/decorated in Mid-1980's Yardsale: There's a big console TV used as a TV stand to hold up a smaller orange-spectrum TV, which would work adequately if it weren't for the fact that the cable is out, and the only thing that is coming in clearly beside Community Access (debates about whether the hay-producing town is called pronounced Quin-see or Quin-zee, as a matter of public record) is a killer-shark movie, pass, thank you. Big metal desk on one wall, and it took a second look to find that the Gideons had indeed been there, and in front of it a wood and wicker dining room chair (ack! childhood memories of how easily one could stick their ass through one of those!). The baseboard heater wasn't part of the baseboard, it was a portable model. And that was situated to the left of the wood-framed radiator below the window.... the rodents have to sleep somewhere, you know. The carpet looked worn out when it was installed and never got any better. The drapes came from a stockyard scalehouse. The kitchen cabinets had the sort of latches which are found on rabbit hutches, which did give the cupboards a certain antique feel. Beat-to-shit sofa with hideaway bed, which we weren't going to investigate. The night lock was a chain, set at the three-foot level in case they had any Munchkins staying the night. The real piece de resistance was the lamp by the sofa -- no, that's not a conquistidore; my god, that's a gladiator! Must be a reason why he is holding a knife in his right hand at his groin, with another dagger at his feet. Above the sofa is a great piece of art entitled "Boatman Over The Acrapolis" -- black without being velvet, huge, showing Greek ruins underwater (with an inexplicably working fountain in the middle, maybe this is why Athena's temple got flooded?) and a Venitian (or possibly Venutian, the picture was pretty otherworldly) gondola going through the midst of it. Mere inches away on the same wall was a desert scene, which fit in with the geographic location of the motel but not its proximity to the other framed art -- and this one wall was the only one with anything up on it at all. I was tempted to move the desert scene to the opposite wall by the bathroom door, but there was no pre-existing nail there. And speaking of the bathroom... The courtesy cups are styrofoam. That's dust in the tub, not stubble. The water is either 50° or 130°, there is nothing in between, try as we might. And I shitteth thee not, I have a photo to prove it: the shower head is mounted 44 inches off the floor, perfect for rinsing your navel (them damn Munchkins must have a powerful Union). Now we understand why the rental agreement had "No refunds; room is agreed to as described" penned in on it, since it was not described... Okay, it took until about 2am to get over our shock, so off to bed. Not so fast there, kids. Serious doubts are raised as to the last time the sheets have been washed. Not to say they haven't been washed, though the stains on my pillowcase and the color of nicotine-yellow they are could give that impression, but honestly, I have a set of encyclopedias that smell like what happens if you fluff the sheets. Happily Paige brought her beach towel, which made a fine sham that went across both of our pillows, and we took care to sleep on our backs.
    There was no continental breakfast in this place, but I joked that they serve their orange juice in those little paper pill cups (why splurge on Dixie?) and offer bagel chips instead of bagels. I woke up singing "King Of The Road" and wondered if ever this was a four-bit room. Flea-bit, maybe, and I had considered asking the counterperson if anyone was ever murdered or wrote mystery novels in this place. Every time someone in the entire complex flushed or washed their hands, you could hear it through the walls and pipes; I haven't seen 25 people competing for the water heater's goods like this since summer camp. Check-out was 11am, which as a fellow tenant said was "none too soon." We dropped off the key, raced off toward food, grabbed Chrome, and headed off toward the rest of our day. We now have some memories (and three photos of that gladiator lamp) to cherish for all our lives. And how was the concert itself? Awesome. Dave no longer has that heroin-chic look, and Martin has started wearing silly outfits again. I now believe what Carrie Cockrell told me years ago: Fletch doesn't do much but point at the audience and maybe play the keyboard.
Thank you. That makes me feel good. -- Martin Gore, on the very warm reception received after singing "Sister Of Night"

I've felt cheesy for a couple weeks about not offering a cryptic thought. One fell into my lap via the comix page: B.C.'s Midnight Skulker sayeth, "Sometimes by not getting your point across, you get your point across." --#2

  Looks like we missed a week there, but no one has complained in our direction. It's been busy on my end of the globe, no idea about the other R.A.T.children; they've been as busy and quiet online as me, chances are. I have one working fish, who likes to play dead when not running around the bowl frantically (he must hang out with my cat, the Cheddar Stampede). And speaking of busy and quiet, if you happen to be in Western Washington or visiting in the near future, mark these dates on your calendar: Pierce County Fair, August 9-12, Graham and Western Washington Fair, September 9-25, Puyallup. There's just something ginchy about county fairs; the food, the animals, the people-watching (both for inbreed/bad-taste spotting and for checking out members of whatever gender you find attractive), the opportunity to pay far too much for fatty food then barf it up on a wild carnival ride. Musta been all those years my family boycotted the Central Washington State Fair. Personally I prefer smaller events, like the Annual Fourth of July Weekend Rodeo, Pow Wow, Indian Village, Pioneer Fair and Parade (yes, that's the complete name) in Toppenish or any of the weekend shindigs that take place in logging communities, but I haven't been to any so far this year. I feel deficient. But hey, I'm going to the Packwood swapmeet this Labor Day, I'll get something in yet.
  Today's observation is that if you go to Target right this moment, they have a large selection of what may be `Muppet pelt` furniture and pillows (save a Nauga!) right now for the kid/teen in your life. If sleeping on the corpse of Cookie Monster (without the crumbs) or Oscar (without the smell) is in your interests, have at it, but be aware that even when clean that shaggy colored fabric looks cruddy and after a month of use on the floor it will really look horrible. And the fabric doesn't wash all that well. Or at the prices they offer, you can enjoy them in their present state for awhile, then cut out the clean parts and make, uh, hand puppets that you can teach a little kid the alphabet with? (The skins of Guy Smiley, Bert & Ernie, and Kermit sold separately.)
  Here's something that no one knows about me (not even you, Geeg): I was a very popular boy in my dreams. When I was in the first grade, I made three friends -- Brian Hargrove, Casey Allen, and Kurt Meyers -- and I dreamed every night of running around with them. The dream friendship continued until the fourth grade, despite Casey going to a different school in the second grade, me not really having much to do with Kurt in the first place, and my moving in the third grade. Eventually they drifted out of my head the way they had drifted out of my life, the way my invisible friend Travis had left me a semester into kindergarten. I have seen all three since then: Brian was on the Sunnyside swim team through his teen years, and I failed to send him a congratulatory card when he got married; Casey thought the choir teacher at the Episcopal Church was kinda silly too when I was conscripted to help there one spring in junior high and he never came back; Kurt got a job with city works (far as I know) and was picking up garbage in the park between the pool and the church when we were seniors, and I felt bad when his family farm was the subject of a foreclosure auction. We never forget our first friends, not even when they're gone. To be fair, I need to interject my first agemate neighbor -- Stephen Bos -- the kid who rolled toilet paper around his weiner and called it a Weiner Wrap (Pilsbury was just starting to market dough in a tube by that name that one put around a tubesteak... "teach an old dog new tricks"), tried to fob off his older sister LaDonna, and taught me some memorable playground jokes and a thing I use regularly even today: fart noises by blowing into the palms. All that was done before the second grade, when he changed schools. When I got my driver's license, he was the first person I mopeded across hill and dale to visit, and the timing was good because he was leaving for college the next day. I didn't dream about Steve, sorry to say; I wish I would have been closer to him. I owe him a debt of gratitude for the fart generator. You can't go back, you can only go forward... I thank the above four people for being my friend in the formative years, even if they didn't do much to be considered as such. (And maybe in a future entry I'll tell about what happened when I got back from that moped trip; hint, I lost my virginity, and NO it wasn't to anyone listed above, ahahahah!) --#2

    Fish keep getting fungus-covered and dying here. This is not pleasing me. What's really freaky is when they're soaking in water with 5x the prescribed amount of fungicide in it, yet by the end of the day the water is even greyer than it was in the morning. I'm down to three fish, which looked better several days ago until they were put back into the pond. At least the plants are healthy, dammit. And the lady at the pond supply store suggested rock salt, which I'm currently infusing into the pond... at this rate, the next set of fish will get to enjoy that, along with clean water after I drain the pond again. I dug up a cattail from nearby and planted that in the pond, and it looks great but when the plant is moved a cloud of grey emerges from the pot. But enough of my aquatic rambling.
    Free Tibet - and the rest will follow. Thought of that crossing a supermarket parking lot. Bumpersticker of the day is so true... Subduction leads to orogeny.  But enough of my cryptic rambling.
    Chrome called yesterday to imply he might come visit again, but that's the last I've heard on the matter. But before then, he quoted a neighbor's email to him in my direction, telling of how this local Internet provider has decided to go all-out for business and dump their dialup customers (the folks who built the company) after a name-change; said customers are in a month going to be customers of the folks I work for. Great! Uh, one thing... At no point has my company bothered to tell its employees, the folks who will be fielding the calls a month from now, that this is transpiring, and it's not exactly a secret since all the details (and if you're a Wolfenet customer, may I add they are "semi-accurate details" and Welcome To The Family) are found on the bailing company's website. I love it when they sort of spring these things on us; we're still waiting for them to spring it on us, actually. But enough of my disgruntled employee rambling.
    My friend Tom, er, Steve, whatever, was commenting about how he'd like to do a mockumentary, Spinal Tap style, about monobrowed DJ Super Greg since his website is... well, go see it, it's Bad R.A.T. to the hilt. But the thing is, Super Greg is completely serious in his cheesiness, so his crew probably wouldn't go for making light of themselves. I then suggested making it a serious documentary, which the viewers could then, on their own, call the comedy hit of 2001 -- and that he could make it a double-feature by also doing a documentary on Asian Prince who despite looking like Little Richard's little brother is not gay. (Oh, for a really good laugh, there's a parody page to that: Viking ISO Princess.) But enough of my Reality Avoidance Therapist rambling.
    My mind turned on the way home from work to what it used to turn to every year around this time: summer camp, Lazy F in the Manastash Canyon outside Ellensburg, WA. The person in question was LouAn Farrell, this sweet girl from Grandview. We were just friends, and despite being accused by her once of being "infatuated" (of her image in my mind, not of her body) there was never anything more to it. We met at a church event, with her crying crocodile tears and saying to us all, "If summer camp is like this, I'm going!" At some point in the past I quoted the a-ha song `Living A Boy's Adventure Tale`, "let's stay friends forever," and she said she'd try. In the summer of 1987 I got a postcard from her saying a letter was forthcoming. Life being a circle, when she happened by the Mad Greek booth at the Fair a couple autumns ago (what's that, 12 years later?) I reminded her that she still hasn't written. And gave her my address. I don't mind terribly that she hasn't written -- I guess she's living on this side of the state now, is married, and I shoulda given my email address too since today's people don't buy postage stamps -- I'm just happy that years' worth of believing we'd cross paths again came true. You're still welcome to write me, ya know. :) But enough of my sentimental rambling. --#2

    Greetings, gentle reader. Today's lesson learned about the house I live in: Photonegatives attract. You have likely read about how my family room is two shades of blue, which bugs the hell out of my significant other. Over the last few days we have painted, then repainted, the whole room white. This includes the parts that should never have been painted in the first place, such as up the edges of the ceiling and the wood paneling. We came to discover a little late why the room was blue: blue is the opposite of yellow, the color which keeps seeping through the paint. Ergo the need for a second coat. Seven coats haven't fixed parts of the windowsill, however, but we'll keep on it. We had our lovely and talented pushing-17 niece Amanda over for four days to help. I have to say this for the orange furry child, Cheddar: not once did he ever get into anything or leave hair on a wall. The paint must have stunk worse than his crapbox in his estimation, so he stayed away.
    Emmer has popped her head in the doorway to say, "People should beware of mind-control! This site will educate people on how they can keep their heads free from outside influences!" And learn to do origami with Reynolds Wrap. She has a few more interesting things to say, but those will come in their proper time. Chrome meanwhile wishes everyone to know that he's no longer driving a piece of shit. For years, that's what he drove, or more accurately, had parked outside his quarters semi-permanently. When last he was here, he'd traded in the white station wagon (burns oil in idle, rattles like hell at freeway speed) for a white '93 Metro, and he's a much happier person now. Now, if only he'd make his happiness an ongoing thing by telling Uncle Sam to kiss his ass and get out of the Reserves, then continue unabated in his college career... But one felicity at a time.
    I was talking to a couple friends (separately) about the ways that life turns, sometimes unexpectedly, and I was getting a little depressed by what was said. These were private conversations the other parties wouldn't want the content of shared so I have to stay nebulous and just talk about my feelings; forgive me if I'm pretty oblique here. I realized, after these chats, that what you never hear about is what happens after the genie has granted you your wishes. This much I know: once you have been granted your wishes, the genie is no longer obliged to you and is free. (Unless your genie is Barbara Eden, in which case she never goes away but also never shows you her navel.) Where does the genie go after granting your third wish? Away. On a different plane, this recently transpired; to quote Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb": the child has grown, the dream is gone. Someone whom to me has been a youthful fantasy woke up one day figuring it was time to completely rearrange her life, and if it weren't for the eyes I'd never recognise the face. I was in shock, the numbing variety where you can't be happy or mad... just hurt that the youth has passed, which may be a predictable thing, sure, but wasn't predicted to happen then or how and why. My sensation has returned, but has me wondering what becomes of freed genies, where they go and what powers they have. I got my three wishes, and unfortunately I failed to make my third wish "please stay with me, forever young." --#2

    Seems some dirty rotten pirates managed to record sections of Depeche Mode's shows in Ottawa and Quebec from earlier in the month, and have made them available in MP3 format (21 files). As I write this I'm downloading the last song of the group, one that hasn't been seen on all the usual sites carrying the tunes, so I'm happy. Will be happier as soon as I attend the 7/29 show of course...
    Today's entry into Thotz.txt fits the R.A.T. scheme but the phrasing is courser than we prefer, but this can't/won't be helped:  Never get involved with someone who thinks 'would you like me to go down on you?' is NOT a yes-or-no question.  A little explanation: A few of my coworkers were having a discussion at lunch about the female thought process (to bastardize the line from American Pie, "What, you don't think we know how things work? Half of working at an ISP is sex ed. Now are we going to get connected? Cuz I'm getting ansy."), and the one woman who was engaged in the discussion vehemently claimed that "would you like me to go down on you?" was not a question one could answer easily. This proved the guys' point, whatever that may have been. I was off to one side working but heard the whole thing, and avoided the temptation to say, "How the hell isn't it? Where are the shades of grey? You can't tell me that this is a difference between male and female thinking, because every time I've ever asked a woman anything similar (this includes 'would you like my phone number?') I have received a prompt answer, either a Yes that may have meant Yes or No, or a very definite No." I suppose in a much lighter sense, you could phrase this as "You don't want to even shake hands with someone who can't give you a straight answer to a yes-or-no question" but that's business, this is more important -- this is pleasure.
    Chrome came over again this weekend, not wanting to be bored (gee, ain't that a contradiction -- going to Mushy's house to avoid ennui) in the windy cowtown and having abandoned plans to see siblings in the opposite direction. Writing anything never came into the conversation, we were swapping files and eating Swedish meatballs at IKEA. It's surprising how many of the DOS applications from 10-15 years ago he still has on the hard drive of his Linux box. Tomorrow I'm going over to a neighbor's house to see if I can fix her computer. One phrase that should wig-out any guru is, "My computer was having trouble, so I opened it up and started dusting it out -- and this card came out, and I tried to push it back in but it wouldn't go, and I couldn't get the clips that hold it in place to connect, so then I shut everything up and turned it on, and after the Windows start screen it dropped to a blue screen...." Hmmm, clips, that would make it a memory stick? ph33r strikes my heart. At least my wife, who arranged this meeting THANK YOU DEAR, was nice enough to say that my rate is $20/hour instead of a flat fee. Final thought: Yes, we have 8 new fish, not as pretty as the first batch but the girl at PETsMART said someone else was picking out the cute ones before we got there. And a new pump too, ours died the other morning without warning; the 180-day warrantee for the old one says to take it back to the store for an exchange or refund, but since the store we bought it from (at least in this state) is out of business... Someone please tell me more about this: There are these plants you put in an aquarium or pond that come by the bundle and are supposed to oxygenate the water. Well, these critters did something else -- it's like they had leprosy, they were exfoliating this grey cellulose stuff constantly, and there's a downy layer of its silt everywhere. Why did those plants do that? Maybe they burned the pump out, yeah.....
    When the hell is Opera going to put out 5.12 or whatever that does NOT have a broken Back button?! --#2

What a long strange trip it's been. I know, it's a long time since I wrote, and I'm sure many of you wondered if I still cared. The answer is really that I DIDN'T EVER care, and that's why I was doing this. Also, school is over, and I have a new job, my life is 100% different than it was a year ago (on most counts, I haven't had a sex change or anything, and I'm still alive, this is not a ghost writing to you today... I think...)
The process of going from a Chemistry major with a focus in Pharmacy to a summer intern working for the USDA in AGRICULTURE is a strange one, and I still don't really know how I got here... maybe I never will understand it either. More later, lunch is almost over now...--#3

    I've been a fan of B.Kliban's art for a long time (I didn't say those damn cats, though my own puddytat's middle name Meatloaf is derived from a comment he'd made and I do spell it "qat" in tribute) and have a few of his books, with others I need to locate (long out of print). Here's the cryptic thought of the day: this image from Two Guys Fooling Around With The Moon (a book I do have -- if anyone has The Biggest Tongue in Tunisia they'd sell me I'd be much obliged). Someone once explained the picture as such: It's the literal interpretation of a cliché which doesn't exist.
    Emmer dropped me a line today; she's working in a rural town down the river from home for the guvmint. Blame any incidences of Mad Cow Potato Disease on her. I need to tag Chrome, I haven't heard a word from him since he left my place.
    And speaking of excising the rotting flesh (where's the Lanacaine, the thorn in my karma itches), the fish in my pond up and died in the course of one day. I've emptied and bleached the pool twice since then, and will get it cleaned out and set up for a few days before adding more. I liked these eight fish, they were cute and colorful. But they were also 12¢ each so I can't complain too much about getting new ones (see 'catfood' comments of a fortnight ago) except that I have to do it for unknown reasons.
    Today's story of youth and appreciation for friends... My college buddy Tina and I went to the local divebar, Littlejohn's, to wet our whistles and shoot pool. We're sitting at the circular bar between games, and she said to me without turning her head, "See that guy across the bar?" I look up, and there's this toasty Yakama across the way, winking at her to beat the band. "I think he's got something in his eye," she says with a stiffled chuckle. I'm sitting there thinking, 'does that trick ever work?', and replied, "Yeah -- and it appears to be YOU that he has in his eye." We sat there for a bit longer, then before he could swoop in to make his move we left the bar. She was parked directly in front of the door, so we get into the car and are sitting there for a moment to talk and find the keys, and the guy comes out. Despite us being Right There, he couldn't find us. So he turns away, drops his fly, and starts pissing on the plastic plants in the box right by the front door. We're sitting there dumbfounded. I lock the door, he takes notice, she turns on the engine and lays on the lights...
    What does it mean when the most sage music you can find at the moment is Men Without Hats? --#2

    I've heard plenty of rumor and speculation, and after a little hands-on research I'm here to disspell some myths: Last weekend, I found a CD-RW on sale at a big-box store whilst cruising around with R.A.T. #1 and it made it nicely into my computer. It's an 8x4x32 -- meaning, it'll write a CD-R disk at 8x, write a CD-RW disk at 4x, and read any disk at 32x -- and my computer is an AMD 5x86/133 (read: it merely thinks of itself as a Pentium 75). People have been telling me to only record to CD-R at 2x, but I've found 4x is just fine for both audio and data. And since this computer is so slow it can't play an MP3, it can't decode while recording, thus using an MP3->WAV util like CDEx to do the decoding then dropping the WAVs onto the disk as audio tracks works well. It's faster burns and on-the-fly decoding which cause buffer underruns, and I have a few coasters with an eighth of an inch of lain-track to show for the experiments. But hey, everyone I've ever promised a CD to now has one.
    Have you noticed the rediculous ads for Viagra and that herpes medication? The people in these ads are young and upwardly mobile, and are doing exciting stuff like cooking at a four-star restaurant or mountain biking. What's the message here? If there's something wrong with your genitals, your life will be more fun than the average person's. You don't have to be old to be limp? Kayaking is more fun if your crotch isn't on fire? Okay, I've got it: You can still take the ice after Mother Nature has told you to hang up your skates. More power to you if you're impotent or caught the clap, life's hard enough, but please stop trying to make your malady seem even more fun and attractive than, say, smoking and drinking light beer.
    Plateframe of the day:   Happiness is cornmeal and a chin.  I really don't get it!
    I was cleaning out my locker at the high school a few days after marching at graduation; no rush previously since there was a week between our being cast unto the world and when school ended for the rest of the world. My friend Jimbo, whom I affectionally called Captain BlueFro due to what he was wearing the night we first met, comes down the hall with one of those silly grins you usually only see when the person has wrecked the family car but walked away unscathed -- or is unharmed until the person's parents find out, anyway -- and he announces that he has just quit school. Doubting his veracity never came to mind for even a moment. Jimbo is my age but one grade behind, and this is the second-to-last day of school for the year. I ceremoniously looked at my watch once I regained motor control of my mandible, and said, "Er, doesn't school end tomorrow? What's another 24 hours?" Nah, he threw in the towel as the ref was reaching for the bell's cord (albeit it wasn't as though he hadn't taken all the tests, and coming in the next day was just a formality). I never quite understood what madness possessed him, I never have in the time that passed after; he hung out with me a lot when I was in college since his parents' house was three blocks from my 'dorm' and he'd always have me walk him home -- absurd thought, a scrawny 5'10" geek-in-training escorting a 6'2" 250 pound gentle giant -- and later on he married then divorced a cling peach ("The Beast From Coeur d'Alene" we call called her) then joined a couple bands in search of what the other nontraditional kids from the Sound, such as Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder, were trying to find in 1988-1990. That artistic cacoëthes which a too-grounded soul such as my own couldn't fathom dragged him away in many senses, and the last time I saw him (1992) my girlfriend of the time, now spouse, and I were giving him a lift to the bus station so he could go visit his parents -- and never made it to their house, although made it to the destination station, according to the folks either he did go see or those he was also supposed to see but didn't (then heard from the people he did visit). This is the only time I've ever used the word "flea-bitten" to describe anyone; the luster of his aura was dull, he looked haggard, and... he was enjoying the ride, because it was his ride. One thing I know about this man that most people will never see: despite how he can close his eyes and belt out AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" onstage despite not being a singer at all, how often he's dropped himself into Harm's Arms, no matter how Out Of Time he was in any given place, the best description of his soul was found in Bernie Taupin's lyrics to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," which in 1987 he'd told me was his favorite song, and we sat there at the picnic table in his parents' back yard singing the chorus of. This gentle giant's aspiration was to be a music man; the deepest truth was that he was in search of someone with which to count the headlights on the highway, someone to lay him down on sheets of linen. I hope he's there. --#2

   I'm not done digesting Las Vegas, the place sticks to you like an undercooked dumpling (yep, they had those at the buffet too, but I don't like dumplings). This, I pledge, will be the last Daybook entry almost entirely about the experience. :)
   One of the must-go places on our trip was Viva Las Vegastamp because Spousal Unit and I both are rubberstampers. It was unfortunate that they only had one mushroom in their stock, which was not only discontinued (4 on the shelf, though) but fugly. It did not join my 50+ shroom stamps. I did get a bunch of stamps out of the 'rubber exchange' bin, including something really cryptic: "Horrible Dog Juice Out Of The Carpet." I wanna shake that person's hand. It was a few days after we returned that we found out that the annual rubberstamp show in Puyallup happened during our absence -- we'd not received our postcard to say when it was, and haven't read Rubbberstampmadness in ages. Drat. Next year I will be avenged!
   (Speaking of missing one's important snailmail, the Washington State Patrol pulled me over the other night because my tabs expired in March. The Licensing Dept has had our new address since last November, so WTF? Tabs cost $53, the ticket was $71, but since I got them immediately after being alerted to my faux pas the fine was dropped to $45. I hate wake-up calls like that.
   Sitting out front of a souvenir shop on a hydrant was this going-on-crusty guy holding a cardboard sign: Why lie? I need a beer. Too bad I didn't have a dollar stray in my pocket or I would have saluted his honesty. I instead invested my money (okay, I'm fibbing; my household invested our money) in a emerald ring to win favor with my mate, and it is indeed sweet -- my wife doesn't have a green thumb, but when she flips you off she's got a green middle finger. I couldn't find anything I wanted myself, browse as I did through the thousands of CD's and shrink-wrapped electronics, and I don't figure that 500MHz computer or the HP flatbed scanner would have fit in my carry-on luggage. In exchange for not having a problem with her buying a ring, sometime soon she's going to take me to Tower Records to get my Mode on... BION I still don't have "Dream On" or Exciter so I've got some shopping to do.
   And for the record, we still haven't done any painting, and my wife's two week vacation ends tomorrow. But hey, over the weekend we cleaned up the back yard a bit more, used our picnic table for a charming pizza dinner, and put eight fishies in our pond, who have discovered the rocks around the pump and plants is a good place to hide so we haven't seen all of them at the same time since, thus we have no idea if we have eight fishies or five fishies (they got hungry when I came home last night) presently. They're all goldfish but only a few of them are gold; "koi" is the Japanese word for catfood. For the ecology-minded: yes, we have a couple snails, big shy ones that haven't run away so they must like us, and the mini-cattails have yet to sprout though the lily is coming back from the brink of oblivion.
   Maybe if Chrome comes over in a few days (he'd written days ago to say he was considering it and would get back to me with an answer) we'll beat together a joint rant. Meantime... I did get word from Emmer recently saying she's alive and being adjusted for comfort. And again, if you haven't read the Class.txt notes (see previous entry), dig in, it has its moments. --#2

Bored of the entire military thing. Here is the last draft of my notes from this last Fort Gordon Experience. Could edit it more, but can't come up with the motivation to do so. Wondering if anyone ever read the copy I turned in.

Some might think I could get in trouble for this. Nah, what I could get in trouble for would be posting a link to Slashdot (or somesuch) of footage that CNN has been politely asked not to air. (1.9M) Amazing the things that pop up from time to time... a friend (Dr_Bill) has a friend (no link, sorry) who is a professor in Russia... who forwarded him a copy of some propaganda footage being used to lure students into engineering and such at different universities. What is this footage? Some really cool stuff, a new Russian fighter jet, has repositionable pulsejets, manueverable beyond belief. If my understanding of this is right, a pilot who understands the capabilities of this thing would be unstoppable in a dogfight. This is *hardly* my field of expertise, so take it with a grain of salt. Might even be old news by now. --#1

As I sit in this empty café thinking of you / I remember all those moments, lost in wonder, that we may never find again...  -- David Gahan, "Song For Europe"
   There's a lot that's been said about Las Vegas, Nevada. I don't suppose anything I could contribute is all that original, but as always this is what I know from having lived the moment and it bears sharing if only as catharsis for my own well-being. My spouse and I went off to Vegas for a weekend, this being my first plane flight, with the express purposes of me seeing Blue Man Group and Paige going to M&M's World. Sure, there was more, but those are the main things.
   The first thing I noticed is that people pay no attention to traffic rules. Cabbies drive like maniacs, and a majority of the cars on the road are cabs. People in pickups will pass you as you do the speed limit. A red light means that three cars will be crossing the intersection as you let off of the brake, and a green light means that all cars and pedestrians in all directions will go. Expect dirty looks from people who are crossing against the light. Expect old guys in Oldsmobiles to coast through any four-foot break in pedestrian flow going around corners (and I was wanting that paintball gun right about then, I had a clear shot at his useless melon). The biggest irony is that many cabs have stickers that say "If you can see my rear tires, thank you for being a good driver." The implication is that you're not tailgating. The reality is that you are back far enough from this person that he can change lanes without signaling and race through the red lights, all without fear of interference from people who are following traffic laws. And amazingly, for such a small yet populous area, I never once saw a cop on the Strip.
   I can figure where the police were: If you leave the Strip perpendicularly, you only have to go a block or two before you get some really grubby neighborhoods. It seems so strange how there can be such prosperity and opulance on one road while the rest of the town looks two notches above Calcutta but without the Ganges (the city water tastes only slightly better). You can find some of the best pawnshops in America in Vegas for this reason... and yes, I did go shopping at one, where the salespeople were falling all over themselves to make a sale because we were the only people in the steady stream of customers who were there to buy instead of sell. I like benefitting from other people's misfortune, though I still refuse to buy Nikes. I'm curious whether the high Mormon population provides much relief to the down-and-out around there. The definition of irony: the city limits sign right before the famous Welcome sign says "Now entering: Paradise." Must be a matter of point of view.
   Vegas has the highest per-capita consumption of water in the U.S. This is no surprise, not because it's an arid place (which it is) but because Profit thumbs its nose at Nature. Every casino has a fountain, many restaurants have outdoor decks with misters overhead, there are lots of flowerbeds with nonnative species that require frequent hydration, and then there are the lush green lawns where God had put sand (okay, to be fair, from the air you can tell this area used to be underwater long ago -- but that was then, this is now; God changed his mind about the neighborhood). And as said, the water tastes pretty crummy, so you wind up buying bottled water, which you really should do at the supermarket and not from vending machines or anywhere you pass because you can buy one 6 ounce cup for the same price as a six-pack of 16 ounce bottles.
   Vegas draws a lot of big-name acts, sure, but for every name that shows up there is an imitation or impressionist who emulates that person. And I'm not just talking Elvis, that's a given; the most emulated person I saw in the magazines was Dolly Parton. I don't have much use for fakes, which as you can guess means I didn't have much use for anything on the Strip. This includes the boobs on the people around that neighborhood who wore tight white with nothing under, but as my wife pointed out there are plenty of fat women in swimsuits around to establish karmic equilibrium. Another observation in this vein is that there are plenty of acts only known in Vegas. "Live in the David Gans Room... it's David Ganz!" Back home in Yakima we always joked about this divebar called The Caravan having "Tonight - Western Boogie Express" on the marquee for years on end; seeing the Ganz sign reminded me of that. And then there's this guy who has been called the "heir-apparent to Sammy Davis, Jr." and "Entertainer of the Year" but on closer inspection I noticed that there was no source cited -- it's himself, or his agency, calling him these things! And speaking of the Candyman, one of the revues playing nearby was "The Rat Pack Is Back," and frankly if I saw Frankie, Dino, and Sammy walking around I'd be really freakin' scared!
   The Blue Man Group plays at the Luxor, which is supposed to have an Egyptian theme. And in that geography, that would be fairly appropriate, actually. My knowledge of egyptology clued me in to the meaning of one of the outside walls... There's this etching copied from a pharoah's tomb depicting Osiris, the jackal-headed god of the dead, leaning over the mummified body of a king (the chin-piece shows this was a man of ruling class) and an owl-like creature representing the Ka (spirit) is flying forth from the body. Translation: This place will take your soul. And on that whole misinterpretation of culture thing, there are a few places patterned after Middle Eastern lands of legend where the overtone is that there's a lot of sin, skin, seduction, and all that fun stuff -- when you know very well that these are Islamic countries (or in the last couple thousand years) and you wouldn't see anything of the sort going on there. The posters for the Marikesh eatery on the backroad behind the Strip (the only way to get anywhere fast) show three people who are most distinctly not Moroccan -- couldn't they have found some Greeks to pose, to at least feign authenticity? Oh, but back to Blue Man Group. The show was phenomenal, and even Paige liked it to her surprise. They autograph stuff by kissing it. The band was a little more talkative. The show I would have liked to have caught was Jeff Dunham, but he's not playing there for another week.
   A feature I can endorse without snideness is the Ethel M chocolate factory in Henderson (get on Sunset and drive drive drive, don't take a different path!) for a few reasons. First, chocolate. Need I say more. Second, they have a huge cactus garden, proving someone realizes what actually grows in the area. Third, they're pioneering in water recycling by having a "living machine" -- taking the factory's waste water and running it through filters, green plants of various sorts and beneficial animals to remove the fertile waste material, and back into the grounds' water supply, with any surplus water in reserve given back to the town's water supply. Another feature of positive note is Sigfried & Roy's white tigers, because they breed and raise the noble beasts instead of merely showing them. Too bad there was only one noble cat in the viewing area when we were through there, but he was pretty bored and hot. Another feature I can speak well of is M&M's World, but hey...
   We didn't spend any money on valet parking, despite various parties telling us we should use their services. There's self service parking at every casino, why pay someone to hide the car? We didn't spend any money of our own on gambling (yes, it is possible to visit Vegas and not gamble!) because we were doing quite enough to support the local economy by buying beverages after our long hikes. The only gambling she did was $6 her mother gave her for nickel machines, which predicatably went nowhere; the only gambling I did was girlwatching with my wife present, which also went nowhere.  <LOL>  The money we saved went into buying rubberstamps at Viva Las Vegastamp and emeralds at the pawnshop. And for the record, I bought nothing you'd consider a souvenir with the town's name on it -- what I came home with represents the experiences, not the place. So to sum up, we had a really great time, we could have used a little more of course, but as you can tell I wasn't smitten by the patina of the place and I'm glad to be home where you normally won't get killed for heeding traffic lights.
   One final note, which doesn't really fit with this entry but it's timely: A friend from high school, Andy, came to town for a couple days for a conference, and was nice enough to say "C'mon over and visit me!" A tip of the keyboard to her for the time spent, it was truly a slice. It's strange how life works: at one early stage, you can kind of identify the people who are worthwhile to your state of mind, but this doesn't mean you do anything to get to know them better; later on, when you cross paths again, you wind up asking why the hell you two didn't get to be better friends back then. That's how life works, it seems; that's the only explanation I can come up with beside youthful stupidity, which pretty much covers everything. Thanks for the laughs, and glad to have been part of your learning curve. You regularly read this column and comment, unlike most people (yoo hoo, you know who you are), and for that I'm appreciative. --#2

Today was to be a day away from everyone. I need this time alone, as humans wear on me. One young woman wishes to speak with me. She is a relative, well intentioned though still maturing... She wishes to tell me of her life today, changes in the paths of her and her loved ones. I can't bear to listen. This is a failing on my part. Not long after disconnecting the battery from my cellphone, I sleep.

I wake from a dream...

Around me was a crowd, those who are/might be/might have been. Relationships, bonds, elevations, liberations... Friends and family drift in and out of existance. I sense manyfold (infinite?) paths of being. Some faces are clearer than others... one is a professed daughter of a bank robber, as she might have been without the touch of madness. She only smiles with sweet sadness... Voices call to me, the loudest (closest?) are of my potential children, negotiating for their own existance. There is a sense of significance, without urgency. --#1

   Today is Mother's Day, a time to recognise and acknowledged those who birthed or adopted us and nurtured us into the happy, more-or-less content, or twisted souls we become. Yakima is a small pool, so I have met each R.A.T.'s mother at least once... #2 could make the same claim (though I don't think Chrome had much conversation with my folks at the wedding rehearsal), #3 was a little too far out in West Valley. <g> I think it is fair to say two things: despite everything our mothers do to us as kids (or adults) we're still appreciative that they're out there, to some degree; people's mothers are always cooler than our own for the reason that we don't know them as well as our own, whom we know way too much about. I can't speak on anyone else's behalf [disclaimer: The following is Mushroom's opinion and has no relevance or connection to the rest of R.A.T.'s members' opinions; I don't want them to get into hot water, and am not going to share their private thoughts] but here's my take on everyone's mudder: I like Chrome's mom, she's kinda cute and has weathered a lot more crap in her life than I'd ever want to see myself. My own mother ... is my mother, like I said I'm too close to speak, I have issues dammit! Emmer's mother is a kind and caring soul who was really nice to me when we met (no matter what she said about me after we parted!), and also has seen more crap than I'd wanna get on my paws. None of the above are the sort of mothers you see on TV, and by some twist the three of us have all been to therapy, but we love them despite ourselves/themselves.
   The gripe of the day falls here: The other day I got a CD labeler, and after printing a swell label for the CD of Depeche Mode MP3's my friend Lance burned for me a couple years ago I tried applying it to the disk. I didn't get it on straight, so I pulled it off -- and brought the shiny stuff that makes a CD work up with it. Then broke the label press by pushing too hard. Batting a thousand here. Appearances of repair are good though; Lance emailed to say he'd burn me a new one (let's see if he does, his memory is about as poor as mine) and a little all-purpose heavy-duty adhesive on the press may solve the problem because what broke was apparently glued together in the first place. Now if only I could figure out how to remedy why my wife's inkjet printer makes absolutely perfect prints to scrap paper but "dried-out-ribbon" prints to thicker label paper...
   It's off to Vegas this weekend, woohoo! If I don't make it back: Chrome gets the computers, y'all can haggle over everything else, and Cheddar can find a new family through the Humane Society. It's odd to think you need a will when you're young, but logically I know that's the truth and should do something about it. It's up there with buying a funeral plan; we don't want to admit our own mortality, and won't be around after we've met it to worry about who is screwing what up no matter how much we bitch about what we want to happen (without laying it on paper and making it legal) when we're here. --#2

For a sweet little ass, try sheep.  --bathroom wall, The Home Port restaurant, Moclips WA
   It's been three whole years of marriage, and as we do every year we hopped in the car and went somewhere we haven't slept before. This time we chose the Washington coast, specifically the near-ghosttown of Moclips, Washington, which is where my wife had spent various moments of her youth due to a great-aunt living on the water. And it turns out that the motel we chose, the Hi-Tide, is within a stone's throw of her aunt's house (she's moved but still owns the house, thus we didn't see her but we could have if we'd known we were going to be in town) so we were familiar with this stretch of beach. The wind was perfect and the sky was clear, and I brought the kite. I didn't bring the extra-long string as planned but the kite came with a roll I hadn't used previously so it was all good. I was surprised by the number of intact and even alive sand dollars we came across on the sand; at one point I had half a dozen sand dollars I was sure didn't have occupants in my coat pockets, but out of fairness put most of those back for others to marvel at. I can't say enough good things about the motel either, it was remarkably excellent -- huge room, great view even on the ground floor, the motel is twenty to thirty yards from the seawall, full kitchen complete with cookware and eatware, a "clam shack" for cleaning your catch, and if you bought a rock-painting kit at the giftshop you could leave your mark. The only two things missing from this picture are an ice machine (with that Sears refrigerator, you could make your own ice so nothing lost there) and a phone... which is kinda how I prefer my vacations anyway. We only spent one night then came home, where the cat was demonstrating his survival technique of not eating while the people were away. Makes us wonder about those folks who ditched him at the pound.
   I noticed something that no one has, to my knowledge, written a parable or object lesson or motivational mantra about yet. While standing in the Pacific Ocean on the terrestrial end of a kite string, I kept seeing these shiny flakes of metal in the copper surf, which would gather in the ridges of sand at my feet and up the shallow-water-covered part of the beach. I reached down and scooped at the ridge to get a bunch of this shiny metal and, to my surprise, when it would be out of the water it just looked like sand, there were no big metal flakes apparent. I'd let it go and the flakes would materialize, then drift around like the white plastic bits in a snowglobe. Let me get this right... it's all around you, it's beautiful, it may have value, but when you grasp at it it's gone or loses its attractiveness. Sounds like an apt metaphor for chasing love or success or something.
   On the way home I was thinking about the English teacher I had from seventh grade through my senior year -- no, the school wasn't that small, he moved to the high school from the junior high at the same time my class did -- Scott Rankin Dorr. Visibly still a hippie but not a burnout, he would play Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" as a listening and remembering exercise, and for poetic dissection we'd read the lyrics of Crosby, Stills & Nash. It was one of his lessons that showed me the deeper meanings of The Eagles' "Hotel California" and I still remember nearly every point made about the song. We'd as a class read one book every year, and in my seventh grade year he guided us through Stephen Crane's "Red Badge Of Courage" without ever letting on that it was pure crap; it was better in the eighth, when we took on Ernest Hemmingway's "The Old Man And The Sea" -- and in both cases, as well as when we were reading various bits of Edgar Allan Poe, he was not hiding anything from us about the authors' vices (now known as "substance abuse") and how this tempered their writings (instead of today's pat "bad! don't do this!"). He also served as my journalism teacher in my ninth grade and senior years, pretty much allowing me freedom to do what I was good at -- making ads on the computer in the junior high paper, doing the computer work such as generating the banner for the front page of the Cat's Meow (a name I suggested) in high school. What I remember best was his method of classroom control: he would calmly say "Quiet!" in such a manner -- sometimes mid-sentence -- that you agreed that you should yield the floor because that was the right thing to do. And he qualified as the coolest teacher in school because he had a real stereo, complete with turntable, in his room and would tune in the radio to the local rock station at various times. He listened to what we listened to! (granted, KATS was pretty much a 60's-80's classic rock station without being exclusively metal or oldies, so this was his music before it was ours...) The last time his name came up in the conversation was at a Suicide Awareness walk my wife and I were in in Yakima; he should have been there, since his wife was the student participation coordinator or something for my alma mater, but cancer was really cutting into his ability to do anything useful for others, inside or outside the classroom. People always talk about honoring the teacher who made a difference in their lives, and he made it for me -- I already knew how to write a sentence but he showed me how to make it mean something, and he proved that a person could talk about what one has seen in one's life and without fabrication make the story something others would want to listen to without being either boring or preachy. Thank you, Mr. Dorr -- you are a starburst, you are golden, and may you get back to the garden. --#2

    Another reason why I switched to Linux...
    Want to view a movie clip. Don't have a player under Linux yet, having a shiny new Slackware install on me laptop as of a few days ago. Fine, Reboot to Winblows. Find out QuickTime 4 doesn't have the codec needed, but it's willing to snag it off the net for me. I think, "Why not..."
    Damnit, when will I learn? Downloads 500k of installer program, without having asked for any kind of verification. Install now labled QuickTime 5. Next proceeds to download 2.5 megs of data (again, without so much as a please or thank you.)
    THE FUCKING CODEC IN QUESTION CAN'T BE MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED K OR SO. Why force the rest of this useless shit on people?
    After download finishes, QuickTime now complains about version mismatches everywhere. Sometimes still works though. Now disallows screencaps from movies as well. I seem to remember there was a time when Apple didn't have a load of SHITKNOBBERS staffing the place...
    Movie clip is probably Sorenson codec anyway. May check, eventually. --#1

It's time for a few random thoughts. And yes, I confess, I do not have a real subject today, I just have plenty of time to write from work. Screw paragraphs.  ¤ Home Base is going out of business, as you may know, and at the moment stuff is 10%-40% off. If you can find what you need, which is getting a little harder, drink up Shriners. The only herb they have out back is woodruff, so that kills a lot of the joy for me. I now own a Dremel-like object made by Black & Decker so let the computer case carving begin!!  ¤ Cryptic thought of the day, courtesy of standardized testing: Tenth graders in this state had a math story problem where the correct answer was, phonetically, "Mary Kay Letourneau." Read up on it. Talk about your target demographics...  ¤ Received my packaget from iRewards, a get-free-stuff service linked through BearShare's site. Their deal is that you can get free stuff, plus the price of shipping and handling. Let me break this down for you: it's $11 shipping per item, and when the box arrives you'll notice postage is $1.85 so let's call that $10 per item and $1 shipping. But anyway. Received a bloopers video, a two-CD Encyclopedia Brittanica, an ink cartridge refill kit (black only), and a CD wallet with ten CD-R's enclosed [the top sides are silver, so one may need to put a stamp-label on *before* making a burn!], and as my truly-free gift a CD with Eudora 5 and Star Office 5.2 plus a couple programs I don't figure I'll use. (Sorry, Chrome, Star Office 5.2 is only the Windows version, not like the eleven languages and four platforms disk you get from directly for $17 or download for days on end for free.)  ¤ Heard on a Mariners baseball game the other day: "That kind of hitting is why he isn't having any sex, uh, success." I guess there's more to baseball than swinging the bat? With the record April the M's are having, they all have earned some sweeeet lovin'. Life indeed does go on without Junior, Big Unit, and A-Rod!  ¤ Thanks to all the friends who have sent a unanimous That's Lame my way about my parents moved without leaving their two eldest kids a forwarding address. I really do appreciate it!  ¤ Cheddar learned a new trick this morning, apparently. He's figured that if he gets on his hind legs and beats on the bedroom door with his front paws, similar to a boxer on speedbag, it really does sound like someone knocking at the door. It's a good thing he's declawed. This is not how I wanted to be awaken. Paige rolled over and said, "But he's got food, I checked that a couple hours ago!" The kitty wanted attention and by golly he got mine... --#2

    Today's focus (as focused as a blunderbuss gets) is on the subject of locomotion. The world is in motion, and nearly all the people in it are waddling around in some direction. A few brief examples of going from A to B with as few casualties as humanly possible...
  § Chrome, our beloved R.A.T. #1, should be back from his visit to Georgia around the 10th of May. He's got plenty to say, which has been logged the entire time but requires some refinement to remove the bile.
  § Paige and I are going to the beach for our anniversary, just for a night. Expect more references to flying a kite while standing knee-deep in the Pacific Ocean as a zenlike thing. The rest of our amusement for that weekend, however, will involve painting the livingroom so you gotta suckle whatever nectar you can out of moments.
  § My sister emailed me the other day, first time in many months. And apparently she'd promised her boyfriend she'd ask me what I thought of him and some friends contructing a porn site. Ehh, what can I say? "Isn't that part of the market saturated yet?" and "It's not a good time to be a dot-com" and "I sure hope you aren't part of the scenery." Good to know she's alive, and tipped me off to this...
  § My parents moved to another town two months ago and didn't bother to tell me.  My sis had said she couldn't get ahold of them for that reason, and I was like "what?!" A minute on gave me the new address, a call to 555-1212 gave me the number. Mom seemed pleased that I'd located them, though apparently the thought of sending a postcard never crossed her mind ("Think of it as a challenge; I knew you could do it." Carmen Sandiego she ain't) and she said she tried to call but there was an earthquake so she couldn't get through (how long ago was that earthquake?). They found a nice little place out in the country, still within reach of their jobs, and not in Lake Tahoe as had been implied it would be for years.
  § Yes, I got tickets to Depeche Mode. Yes, they cost far too much. Yes, I'm happy. No, I don't have the new single yet. No, I haven't listened to any of the stuff on a peer-to-peer file sharing system, though I should and see if it's worth getting more than the album on. And what surprised me is that Depeche Mode tickets cost less than those for upstart Dido.
  § And my dear bride talked me into going to Las Vegas, indeed, so we're off to Sin City to annoy the Mormons but not gamble on Chrome's birthday. Stay tuned, you'll see me rave a whole lot about going to the Blue Man Group show there (it was only an extra $50 per person). [Chrome interjects: "Psst! Pentium 4 is still broken!"]
  § Not a word from Emmer in awhile, so mentally she's moved somewhere off the map. Physically she's still in her own private Idaho, I'm supposin'. Really, we're not ignoring her here. Other way around. :)
    "All the islands in the ocean / All the heavens in motion / Let me show you the world in my eyes / That's all there is -- nothing more than you can touch now, that's all there is." -- Depeche Mode --#2

   The commercial of the day: Pemco Insurance has this wicked-funny ad where someone calls for help and the customer service person says stuff like, "You're in Washington... Is this a Maryland address? Oh... the West coast. Don't you get tired of the rain? Oh... it's dry where you live? Let me look at the map... You're between spo-CANE and yuh-KI-ma?" I'd never considered pronouncing it that way, we always said (courtesy of Ginsu knife ads in the 70's) "yah-KEE-ma."
   Tomorrow morning I have the joy of trying to score Depeche Mode concert tickets in TicketMaster's online pre-sale. It saddens me my friend "Dr. Who" (yo Wardster) won't be able to make it due to finances -- give that boy a job, someone. Years ago we stood together at the Devotional tour, he had better seats than me so I hung near him, and we (he, I, and his wife Dawn) seemed to be the only ones just standing there with our arms crossed instead of screaming and singing along offkey. This 'Exciter' go-round, the show is at the Gorge Amphitheatre in podunk George, WA but the listings all say "Seattle"... never mind the 250 mile difference between the two places, eh?
   Though he doesn't want me to do this, I offer a direct link to a Lileks 'Bleat' about the joy of dealing with MSN. We here in Tech Support Paradise have been laughing pretty hard at this. Can only say, "James, dude, I love your column, now get a real Internet provider..." Also, you have seen 'All Your Base' by now, so it's time for something senseless and Japanese. Er, beside Pokemon and karaoke, but those are more pointless than senseless. It's... Hyakugojuuichi!
   Significant thing to report: Spousal unit and I went to Taylor Auctions (no website or I would...) this last Saturday for their weekly sale. She was all over me to stay within our means, not go hog-wild, and such -- then she buys a queen-size sleigh bed for $200 and some Black Hills Gold (complete with authentic "made in Korea" chain), where all I got was a socket set and a weed whacker. We must do this again someday, once we have paid off our credit card bills. The bed, according to our price comparisons, was quite the value because they normally go for $700-$1400. And they even slathered it in furniture oil (not polish, Pledge wasn't enough for them) so it looks -- and feels -- really slick. Now, we need a mattress!
   Story time!  I met this guy in college who was an absolute flirt. He would hit on anything that moved, even some folks that I thought were neigh unto canine (and if you know me, you know it's a rare individual I don't find at least somewhat attractive). I finally had to ask one day, after he was done macking on someone who had teeth like a picket fence that'd been hit by a flying cow and a face that looked like she'd been behind the cow when it landed, whether there was anyone he didn't want to knock boots with. "Just one," he said, and named a fellow student who would be considered pretty by most people. Okay, why's that? "She has an ugly attitude." I couldn't argue against that, she did have a way of putting people off. What brought this one to mind was I was thinking in the shower (I should know better!) about pretty or semi-pretty people who have snubbed me when I was interested in them or was just being sociable in the public situations I have shared with them. There have been a few. What has always amazed me is when someone appears not to have that many friends or that much recognision in society, yet they blow off those who think (or at least until they piss them folks off with their attitude) they're worthwhile. I knew one lass who was physically bodacious, facially not in the front of the pack, and socially ignored but involved (church, social work)... but her idea of an ideal mate involved one of three categories: a) Tommy Smothers, b) Pope John Paul II, c) someone who has a life that doesn't attempt to include her but by coincidence they are nearby. You can guess none of those three gave her more than the time of day. Those who wanted to make time with her were precluded from consideration, rare as those folks (like I was) are. I got my laugh at her ass a couple years after she eluded me; she took interest in this blond gay teenager and followed him like a puppydog, and I couldn't help but say to myself, "I am avenged by your foolishness!" The moral of the story is, beggars shouldn't be dumbasses but often are. --#2

   Today's example of technology making life easier for the dishonest: The local library has this 2 CD set of Frank Sinatra's work, and one day someone noticed its appearance had changed slightly. Upon further investigation, it turns out some well-equipped person had borrowed the CD's, made color photocopies of the covers, removed the stickers from the original and repasted them onto the copies, inserted those into the jewelcases, then burned CD-R copies of the albums and put those into the library's cases, complete with 'stamped' labels that look nothing like the originals but are titled correctly. I'm thinking, usually when someone copies the media they keep the copies, what's up with this? Of course. The set had a booklet, which the thief kept. How swell. For what the person invested in duplicating the CD's, they could have bought them outright... but noooooo.
   My cold is considerably better. My cat is not; he seems to like the taste of aloe vera so has been digging up the plants, and since that's a laxative he's been making messes in or near his box. And we received his first hocked-up hairball the other morning on the livingroom carpet. I never realized how rubbery those things are, since this is my first indoor cat. Paige is starting to get fed up with the little orange gremlin's behavior. But at least he's more friendly nowadays. We're still not sure why he likes to play in the toilet, but like any 4-year-old boy (or 28, in human years, speaking from personal experience) he finds that fascinating -- too bad he is shortchanged on the pleasure since that particular commode is a 1.1 litre model that doesn't have enough water in it to adequately take away poo/stains/odors let alone float a Cap'n Crunch baking-soda submarine properly. How earth-friendly is having to flush three times to get the job done? Er, back to the cat. We don't allow him in the bedroom, but he seems to park himself outside the door in the morning, and shortly after he hears either of us roll over and bid each other good-morning (or hears Ichabod Caine on KMPS -- really, it's her fault, I hate country music) there he is, meowing his little cheddar head off. It's cute for the first ten seconds.
   Another one of those "where are they now?" questions I have regards Karen Strausbaugh, the camp manager's daughter who told me to pull my head out of my ass. (Yes, in those words. And in the context in which that was said, it wasn't an insult, it was actually useful advice.) She whom I referred to for years as a great white hope and a prime test of patience in the process of getting things together albeit briefly; it took years to get that close. Sometimes I think of her, though I'm never sure why. But unlike with the previously-mentioned Carrie Cockrell, who was just a friend the whole span, I think my life would implode (or maybe for a few days) if I found out whatever happened to her. There are people who know, two degrees of separation away from me. I just wish her the best, and hope that she found the things she was seeking in the mid-80's when I fell from her grace. I've kept to the promise she requested I make: to never speak ill of her. I haven't the right; I still don't understand all the details of what happened or who I was as a teenager. It's all past. The lesson here, which hopefully I'll remember in another life and I state here in case any pre-teens just starting to add Romantic Love and its many accessories to their brains should be reading, is that people don't always stand up to being made a symbol. We always apply that clause to hero-worship, how a sports figure isn't the same great person in his spare time and behind closed doors, but not all heroes/symbols are so prominent. Karen didn't ask to be what I was looking forward to, I at the time didn't see that she was given the title without her consent. Live and learn (a little too late). Oh, but for the moments in love, the life in a northern town, my Warholian fifteen minutes in her limelight... Winter didn't come after Autumn, but rather in the Spring -- and winter where she lived, which was another symbol in my life which also didn't ask for my sanctification, was beautiful. --#2

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 8 Apr 2001 16:34:47 -0700 (PDT)
From: chrome <>
To: Christine Hall <>

On Mon, 9 Apr 2001, Christine Hall wrote:

>I visited and I noticed that you are not listed on
>some search engines. I am sure you can increase the number of people who

This sounds very exciting, except for one minor detail... Neither myself nor anyone else affiliated with Slackers wishes for a huge volume of traffic on our site. While the site is open to the public at large, our target audience is in fact rather small. In fact, after careful consideration of your mailing to me, I would be forced to conclude that this target audience does not include you, or your peers in the marketing business. In fact, by association, your parents, signifigant other, or possible offspring are also outside of our target audience. In fact, I have now begun to overuse the phrase "In fact."

>Do you know TrafficMagnet?

No, I don't. Please, do explain!

>TrafficMagnet is a unique technology that automatically submits your web site
>to over 300,000+ search engines and directories every month. This is a very
>low-cost and effective way of advertising your site.

Three hundred thousand? How can you be serious? I know from firsthand knowledge that there do not exist that many public seach engines, let alone directories!

>To check our prices and submit to 300,000+ search
>engines, go to

I'll bet you didn't know this, but at this time of my life, the best description of my state is that I aspire to be a poor college student. I am curently attending school and being paid poorly, with a paycut possibly soon to follow once I get back to being at a real college.

So please, do not try to sell me anything.

>I would love to hear from you.

I personally would love to hear back from you as well, though preferrably in some capacity other than professional. You sound like a reasonably well clued-in individual, even if your talents have been devoted to the Dark Side for the moment. May your redemption come soon. If it is at all in the realm of possibility that I could contribute to your redemption, please let me know. I fear for your soul if you stay with marketing too long. Contact me soon if you also have worries.

>Best Regards,
>Christine Hall
>Sales & Marketing

Best regards, and take care,

[Note from #2: I've talked to people at work who received the same email, which seems to be sent to people who hold domain names. has yet to receive this mail, but when we do I'm going to ask Christine for a photograph, she sounds cute.]

   I woke up today with a cold, or maybe it's the flu. My innards are not a happy place. My head is filling and draining. I'm unsure if that twelve-hour cold capsule is doing much but better safe than sorry. And I have a dentist's appointment tomorrow morning. My life is dismal, but at least the cat has become a little friendlier (but only a little!). What does the cold medication say, or what can I say that I can blame the cold medication for? :)
   One afternoon David, the boy next door who was nearly my age, got ahold of an adult move called "Pink Champagne" -- wouldn't get Hustler's highest rating but when you're a mid-teenage male any p0rn is good p0rn. He gathered up a bunch of the neighborhood kids (I don't recall any girls being in this party, oddly enough) and the eight of us trooped over to Brandon's house, mostly because he was from one of the few families who had a VCR at that time and his parents foolishly left him home alone at the tender age of 11. He was one of those boys who, yeah like me, had some general idea of what he was after but didn't know the specific item or have a clear clue of how to find it. He let us all in to watch a few minutes of this award-winning epic (the quote of the day came, er, at the moneyshot: he blurted out, "Look! Solid pee!" -- we didn't tell him otherwise) then got paranoid and shooed us out. But there were too many of us to corral, so some devious creature unlocked a bedroom window unnoticed. Once we were all out, Brandon went off to other horizons, and a full ten minutes later we were back in his house watching another cheesy sex scene. This second viewing didn't last very long because we too were getting paranoid about his dad, a big guy with a big temper, walking in on us. I went home for lunch, and was informed that I was grounded for whatever it was I'd done wrong that week. Okay, fine, I wanted to be alone anyway <g> and was sitting on my bedroom floor building a structure out of playing cards when one of the age-mate neighbors, Spud, comes to my window as he was often wont to do. He was the ringleader of doing The Wrong Thing, and is now a police officer, go figger. He's begging me to sneak out my window and go someplace with him. I insisted I was grounded, and that my folks would be checking up on me so I didn't wanna get into further trouble. He huffed off without me. Well... The rest of the neighborhood horndogs were still on the roam, so the next house which was vacant with a VCR was... Spud's. And Spud's dad was a force to contend with when he came home and found everyone but his son (or me) watching a skinflick. I heard about this later in the day, when the neighborhood parents were playing tag with one another. "Now, aren't you glad you were grounded and stayed in your room?" my folks asked at dinner, knowing full well that for once I wasn't anywhere near Trouble. For once the answer was Yes.
   Funny, this 12 hour drug only lasted 8 hours, and my mouth is dry while my nose is not. I have a wheelbarrow at home I must put together, the SKOOTÅ from IKEA. Ingmar himself recommended it for moving dirt and bags of meatballs. Memo came down shortly ago saying tomorrow is team bowling night, thanks for the advanced warning.
   Dumbest thing I ever did in elementary school (or at least that I got called on the carpet for): Standing in lunch line, Mr. Hall's fifth grade class. Was talking to someone, a girl in line used the popular-at-the-time line "quit mumbling through your pants," and I dropped my fly and told her to listen closer. Grown-ups take everything so... adult. I didn't understand the problem. I had a clearer concept the next year when a teacher intercepted a note I was passing to someone in another class, a pictoral of the Kurt Schaffer 'Bloopers' classic "peter pulling contest at St. Taffy's Church." That one made sense, it directly and purposely involved genitalia, where the drop-of-fly had nothing to do with anything dirty and showed nothing. I do understand this much now that I'm older: nowadays when I motion toward my crotch to give someone a message, I do mean it in that context. My innocence is gone.
   I remember when a kiss was just a kiss. An eye-opener, a gate, a sunburst in a cloudy life. When a kiss didn't lead automatically to a touch, to a tongue, to a roll. When a kiss had meaning on its own. This is not to criticize the kisses of later life, which are the symbols of affection and come with accessories, they have a world of meaning -- this is to say, I recall when the beginning and the end of the action was a clasp of lips, but the clasp was the beginning without an end of imagination.
   Man, I hope I get over this bug soon! --#2

I didn't do any planning for today's Daybook so let's see what random thoughts I can toss out (let me know if any of these are useful so I may stop producing them).
  ¶ Here's something to serve with the Ritz Cracker 'Mock Apple Pie': Yes, there really is a chocolate cake recipe on the back of a jar of Best Foods mayonaisse (but not in my cookbook, heh). Wanna see it?  ¶ It only took three months to post an update to their picture galleries, but there are some truly frightening new individuals on display. Warning: not all of them qualify as unattractive, some are merely fat (which != ugly IMHO) but then there are people who got hit by an ugly stick, causing them to fall through the ugly tree and hit every branch.  ¶ I spent Saturday doing yardwork with a friend (someone else's yard for $$$, not my own which needs it, as Paige pointed out) and at one of the houses we had to weed this flowerbed which had been overrun with violas. This is the sort of curse I wish I could have (and I have tried before with that species, with unsatisfactory results). Okay, I prefer violets, and I used to live at a place where the back yard was solid violets with maybe five blades of grass, but in a pinch their cousins the violas will do. Pretty weeds! Everywhere!  ¶ I went swimming with Alfred and Jill at a public pool the other day, and this was almost as amusing as the trip to the dildeaux shoppe. If you view everything as a learning experience then life is always rich. I learned that there is a reason why the wading pool for the kiddies and the therapy-seekers is so warm, and this isn't because it's heated; the flavor was a giveaway since the color was not xanth-tastic. Another lesson learned was that if you are wearing a string bikini, you should be cautious when diving off the board repeatedly. The wearer of said bikini didn't pick the lesson (or her top) up so quickly, but it's not my job to point these things out (as she was doing). Oh, one more lesson: I am really out of shape.  ¶ Speaking of lessons, Chrome sent me a couple more log files of how things are going at his schooling, and to sum up: the material is finally getting into areas he did not previously have knowledge of, but the people are pretty much the same as before (read: just because you're paid to teach a subject doesn't mean you have to understand the subject, apparently) and grown men love paper-wad fights.  ¶ Cheddar has not become any more comfortable with his surroundings. He still won't go down the hall or into any of the rooms, and now he's retiscent to go into the living room to sit with us on the couch. Sure, go into the family room, pull back the curtain, and you can pet him plenty, him liking it all the while, but ... he doesn't seem to like his humans anymore. At least I have figured out that unlike many cats he doesn't like his furry belly rubbed. But what does he like then?  ¶ I have yet to hear how Emmer is spending her Spring Break. Probably not lounging around the house buck naked, Just Because She Could.  ¶ There was a short film played in elementary school classrooms and on "Captain Kangaroo" many years ago which said that the most important person in the world is YOU, and the prize for figuring that fact out is that you get to spend a lifetime with yourself. Two reactions: first, my mother and my wife both have tried to impress it upon me that the world does not revolve about me (implying, or in my wife's case, that my world should revolve about her, hehehe!); second, doesn't that fate seem like more of a punishment? As Syrius Publis said two millenia ago, it is sometimes expedient to forget one's self. --#2

Here's that picture that Mush so oafishly lost. It's the Columbia River which separates Washington from Oregon, taken around the New Year. Enjoy! --#3

  The first thing you'll notice is that there's a graphic on the left. I was at this estate sale a couple blocks away, and there it was: the new logo for the page. This blank daybook was used by a place with rooms for rent, though it's not clear whether this was a hotel or a boarding house. The first hundred pages of this book are missing, and they were probably pretty cool -- the book is a foot and a half tall and six inches wide, with lined and mechanically numbered pages. The inside covers have useful tables of information (metric conversions, how much a bushel of timothy wheat weighs in various states of the union, first aid, legal hints) which are pretty common on blank books of the time period. The one thing I can't find is a reference date, since the pages which would have been hand-dated are gone and the information tables don't say anything like "Census Info (as of ####)." Sure, a little extrapolation is possible from some of the more arcane items, like when it was the President of the United States made $50,000 per annum. I have to wonder how the chose what details to include in the tables, and of course who the bright person was who compiled the info: "In case of poisoning: First thing - call a physician. Second thing - tickle the back of the throat to induce vomiting.". I guess way back when, getting help wasn't the automatic thing to do and people had to be told such (much like now). "Entering into a contract with a minor or lunatic renders the contract void." No mention of maniacs so they must be kosher. And at what point in history were the differences in time between cities across the country expressed in minutes instead of hours-flat? So for art's sake I'll say this book was published around 1900 and call it the best 25¢ investment I've made in awhile.
  I don't have much to say right now :) but wanted to write something about the book and the graphic. Oh, and the cat's name? We had to take him to the vet last Friday for a well-cat exam (well well, whatayaknow, he's, well, well) and they pretty much were expecting the fuzzbutt to have a name. He has one now:  Cheddar.  I suggested it, she liked it, the cat didn't seem to care (he did give us dirty looks on some proposed names; we involved him in the process out of fairness). And, I got my Rio back on Saturday so much is well; it seems to want to render memory cards unusable ("bad checksum error" when trying to format or reformat) but I haven't sent the two cards back to get one big one yet so I haven't lost anything I'm actually using. Also, we have roses from the old place, with an invitation to get more roses from the other half of that duplex. Happily these roses don't have much of a root system so a dozen can be bagged in half an hour. But where the hell are we going to put all of these? Three of a dozen are planted out front now, three or four were given away over the weekend... My sister-in-law is now the proud owner of those 'poodles' and has a use in mind: seems her neighbors are swine, with roaming dogs and lots of litter blowing in the breeze and ain't too pretty neither; given some trees, a bunch of ivy (which I did), and some instant picket and/or chickenwire fencing, the scourge of dealing with her neighbors can be lessened -- or in the eventual, once these things all get planted and growing. "Good fences make good neighbors" as someone said, and when that fails try a duckblind or a huge matte painting of a pear orchard.
  Book title of the day, also obtained at that estate sale: The French have a word for it:  Mayonnaise which was published by Hellman's/Best Foods in 1967. Lots of salads and sandwiches inside; not many soups or desserts, surprisingly. --#2

reply to #3:  Well, if you two would just write anything...
There I was, laying in bed as I usually am at 11am (I work 2:30pm-11:00pm, I'm not slackin'), when the room starts shaking. It was a nice thirty second ride. The earth moved and I was in bed, alone. It wasn't too bad for me... Nothing like plate techtonics to keep you on (or off) your toes. We here in Western Washington always joke about earthquakes in California, and how the people who keep transplanting from that state up to the Evergreen State bring earthquakes with them, but we too have our subduction zones. This one was between 6.2 and 7.0, depending upon your news source, and centered 35 miles southwest of Seattle. "Um, that area is called TACOMA," my wife (who got home from work minutes before with a tummy ache) said as the map came up on the TV screen. More accurately, the epicenter was Nisqually; 11 miles northeast of Olympia and about 15 miles due west from where I reside. I have yet to hear of any serious damage right here at ground zero, mostly because the TV news is going apeshit about how it affected Seattle (Tacoma and Olympia having no media of their own, apparently). To my knowledge there were no deaths, a few injuries, and a slew of insurance claims filed when some buildings lost their façades, dumping bricks and stuff on cars. The WTO-style Mardi Gras partying/rioting (how to tell you're not in New Orleans: when people fuck up celebrating Fat Tuesday) has been more of a toll on the Emerald City than an act of God... what does that tell you? Anyhow, for those two or three people who were wondering how I am post-quake: Just fine. I do need a dozen new CD jewelcases because nearly everything from A to G in my collection fell off the shelf (they slide out on their own anyway), but that's about it. --#2

Once again, #2 has monopolized the conversation. Not a bad thing really, considering everything, but still, y'all need a break. :) I dropped my calculus class, thereby adding another year to my stay here in Idaho. Oh well, at least I will graduate with my sanity and my health still somewhat intact. I have a permanent invitation to go stay with some cousins of a friend, who lives in Pakistan, any time I want to, for however long I want to. What can be better than a truly random country and free lodging? Well, I have no money for it right now, but I thougth I would share it with y'all anyway. School goes, though not well. I started out my semester with too much, and for the first in my life, I actually dropped a class, and took the first W of my college career. I guess everyone needs one. I'm not at all in danger with financial aid, I still have 14 credits under my belt. My body will thank me, if my bed does not. Why did I do it? Not because I couldn't do the work, but because my health was failing once again. That's life folks, eventually your body will stop you any way it can, so you may as well slow down before it makes you slow down. College is more than learning stuff for a job, it's also about self discovery. --#3

I made it through another weekend without going to a home improvement warehouse, an optical shop, or a cattery. These were three things I had planned on doing but never found the time -- it seems that everyone's computers were acting flaky for one reason or another, so I played techie and ran around fixing them, plus we had houseguests and other must-do stuff. So the home-building, sight-improvement, and furniture-wrecking gets delayed another week. But as a significant note, Chrome called me with two tidbits of info: #1: He had been sharing the livingspace with four other guys, but he has been moved and now only shares it with one person, hurray; #2: He should be getting a car from his sister once he gets back into this state. The conversation was brief, and not just because my houseguests were coming in the door a minute or two after the phone rang; the chat reminded me of one of my sister's tricks, she'd call people and then say "Well, talk!". But you called me, Becky... "I don't care! Talk!"
I've started working on the next Rant, and the basis will be my own stupidity and dysfunctional technology. One leads to the other, and depending upon the person it varies which was the cause and which was the effect. In my case, it's the latter leading to the former. I'm used to hearing about the former causing the latter all day, every day, at work -- and it's amazing that some people can even dress themselves and cook something as difficult as a bag of microwave popcorn (or even more complicated), I've come to learn. Nothing is foolproof because fools are an ingenious lot, according to some sage person, and I had a couple calls today which fall in that category. And this has nothing to do with technology, so please no razzing about how some people are not good at computers! Put it this way: If you showed someone how to fill out a form four times though the form is pretty much self-explanatory (what other meaning could be derived from "Print your name here"?), you'd think the person would know at least by the third time that the person would get the hang of it. Noo-oooo. I concede there are sometimes medical reasons for having absolutely no memory of what you did not ten minutes earlier, and also did 10 minutes before that; I tried tutoring a guy with such a condition for about a week on how to use his computer before I got a real job, and it was pure hell because every time he'd do something it was like the first time he'd ever done it. I was paid $5 an hour to tutor him, and lost the job because he found a friend who would do it for free (I truly have sympathy for that person). Sometime soon I'm going to print out my favorite quote from comedian Brother Dave Gardner and post it over my cubicle: "Put down that wheelbarrow, Bubba; you don't know nothin' about technology."   And just to get it off my chest and on the record: Richard, you are an absolute fucknut. Do you suppose there's a reason why your three teenage kids and your office-professional wife who are still going to use the computer a month later didn't offer to teach you? You only paid enough for gas money to and from, so it's a good thing your cheerleader daughter had friends over every night who would be waking up from their stupors about the time I arrived at your house... you waste of skin! That's better. My Rant has nothing to do with the previous. :)
It's 3am and I should go to bed -- I have a pinched nerve on the left side of my neck so I'm not comfortable or in a perfectly bouncy mood at the moment -- but first a shout out to Jon (see the Guestbook) for letting us know that someone was reading our work Back In The Day and enjoyed it, and to Tommy @ ThePoint for appreciating the Ellensburg Canyon Road at night as much as I do. (It's the next Daybook entry below I was referring to in email. Your latest Manifesto is pretty good!) I added another photo of myself and my spouse to the site; I had mentioned in December last year we did a display at the library of our antique Christmas ornaments? And for those interested, yes, I did get some sweetpeas planted on Washington's Birthday as the wive's tale dictates. We have this row on one side of the garage of stuff in bags and pots that's waiting to be planted, and a whole lotta seeds indoors also waiting for planting, and I have yet to start the tomatoes in a tray, but by damn I got those sweetpeas planted on the right day! --#2

When in doubt, mumble.  -- Boren's Third Law
    There was still more goodies-moving here; due to space considerations, the pictures and our *new* section Other Files We've Slapped Together are located in a different chunk of cyber-real-estate called TheJoyOfIrony (named after another R.A.T. concept, "Realize the joy of irony.") and all seems to be linking correctly. If not, let us know. More stuff is coming, but for now... You've Got Mail!
    I finally got the lighting project done. Will spare you the minutae and say that Chrome was right: everything should be triple-checked before sealing things up, because a lack of connection between two wires remained after double-checking them. And all is working now, with the right bulbs purchased somewhere else. It's amazing how much light a 20-watt fluorescent puts out! This won't cause the curs next door to bark any less, but for once they'll know what they're barking at after dark: each other.
    And so after some life-threateningly good chocolate cake, I had to try something... The best restaurants in Seattle serve Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream (no website, just do a search for details) and recently the creamery started selling pints in the local stores. The flavor of the month? French lavender. I have no problem with that, I'm an amateur herbalist and lavender is good for digestion (as well as the skin). It's pretty yumlictious -- "smells like soap" according to my significant other, who was eating the vanilla bean variety -- though they could ease up on the purple hue just a mite, it's intimidating. :) I like lavender (the flower and the color, not necessarily the flavor), but personally, I prefer violet (the flower and flavor, not necessarily the color)... I'm a different breed of cat.
    Readerboard at the mall: "Hey, all you McOmnivores! Come in and try the McVeggie!" (can I get mine with cheese?)     I hope I'm not getting predictable in the pattern used this month in the Daybook, it just seems right For Now. Today's statement of love goes to Wayne, who came to me in a dream (my second month of college, 1986) after years of not paying much attention to him in high school. The latest version of Opera, a better breed of browser, has an ICQ client built into it. (No, you can't have my number unless I know you already. Which I likely do, if you're reading this.) Thus lately I'll be browsing along and he'll chime in, or I'll see a note that he's online in the details bar above the address bar. He and I have been staying up until 3am lately, not unlike when we did that in person over a decade ago listening to Bowie or Floyd or GnR, exchanging stories of our youth and being totally blown away by each other's sordid tales, stuff few people at the time (or since) ever knew about certain folks in the dirty little town we come from. Thanks, Wayne, you're making me smile. Unlike the chick in your closet, you are a real friend.
    Nothing more thought-provoking than this to say offhand, and Chrome is once again still out there, trying to muddle through. As for Emmer... We're pretty sure she didn't fall of the edge of the world, we would have read about it on the news websites. Finally, a nice little tangent: The change machine at work gave me $10 in quarters after sticking in a fiver, so I left an anonymous message to the food service folks to point that out. Wouldn't want them to think people broke into the machine, afterall. The keepers of the machines (including The Wheel Of Death) wrote back and posted the note from the inside of the candy machine so all could see, thanking anonymous little me for having the candor to let them know, and cursing the ground upon which those who also read my note and whipped out fivers for jackpots walk. I feel pretty special! --#2

    I've moved the goodies of this site to a different chunk of cyber-real-estate just for appearance's sake. Those who get here through won't see a difference, but those who come here directly and avoid the stupid "navbar" and format-fucking that the URL redirector creates were forwarded here by a scary pink screen. The direct route for you to copy and paste on your existing bookmark:
    I got that Grant's Ale I needed last week, a Scottish at that. True brain tonic, ahhh. Unlike the macrobrewery swill I had the next night, when I linked up with an old friend. Bobbie is schizophrenic and smokes nonstop in that cave she holds on the other side of the apartment complex I spent 1994-1998 living at, but she's a kick in the pants and that girl knows how to party. We're sitting there in her living room drinking ice tea and going weewee a lot, when she suddenly says, "Hey, ya wanna go on a pub-crawl?" She was paying so who am I to say no. You gotta remember, Mushy don't drink, and when he does, it's gotta be either an import beer or a microbrew because Mushy is a fucking snob who doesn't like drinking lightly-fermented bear urine. But that's what was on the menu, a pitcher of Milwaukie's finest piss at the Bullseye, then across the parking lot for another dilute pitcher at The Strap. We were a little too tanked to try continuing on across the street to the Cue & Cushion, where we normally do our imbibing. I did my good deeds -- getting the troglodyte out of her cave, and that thing I do every couple years of cleaning the nicotine stains off some surface of her house. This time it was the sliding glass door, which looked like it had a piece of old celophane tape (ya know, the precursor to Scotch Tape which turned a nearly-opaque yellow after a few months) over its entirety. For her, de nada, but for anyone else I'd be sitting on cardboard and wearing an oxygen mask while saying "This place is horrid! Clean it sometime! And leave me out of it!"
    Seen on the back window of a brown Chevy:  Fecal Ferarri
    So I had a great time with a friend, first time in about a year or so. Had I been a real friend, I woulda brought better beer, but let's not push it. There's a difference between drinking a beer for flavor and drinking a pitcher to be social and/or soused. Speaking of true-blue friends who also avoids cheap beer when possible, Chrome is still alive and doing school. Story is still the same as in the 1/10/01 entry (instructor IQ remains suboptimal), with the improvement that he now has cable Internet access available to him. Only crimp is... no computer of his own at the moment. It's always something.
    Plateframe of the day:  I'd rather be pitch-forking horse manure.
    I figured out what was bugging me for days but wasn't quite to the surface. One of the features of any job is being around coworkers, and a good many of my coworkers do stuff together outside of work. You should be able to guess my direction on this: I'm never invited to these shindigs. And I get to hear about them all the time. People having fun without me, or me not having fun with them, however you wanna slice it, gets bothersome if you're social at all. People keep talking about the fun, sometimes physical, they're having -- and I'm not getting any of that. Which I normally say "I've got other plans" about to myself, but on a couple instances and people, somehow what they were saying didn't mesh with what they doing or had previously stated they intended to do. It all came clear to me what was bugging me while I was in the lighting department of a home improvement warehouse place (yeah yeah, the light came on over my head). The kind of spot/flood lights I sought, fluorescent to save energy but can direct the light like the incandescent floods and of a certain intensity, weren't readily visible so I had to ask this person doing some stocking for their whereabouts. She was to my tastes a vision, one of those people that aren't fashion plates but (maybe for that very reason) a primal part of my brain says "She might go out with you" about. Of course, I'm standing there with my spouse so I'm not going to do anything stupid, and I've long since given up macking on strangers and always wear my ring so I'm not about to say anything stupid. That's where the 15 watt, 600 lumens, hooded light in my head went on (but nowhere else, the store was temporarily out). Every so often the daily reality of other people's opinions and appearances, both of which can change at the turn of a dime, gets under my skin. And once recognised, I have to somehow convince myself that none of that shit matters, which can be an accomplishment. Would I really want to party with these people, or the people they're partying with? Nah, they speak without substance and their friends are egotistical wankers. Should I feel bad that they can't keep a story straight? Nah, since if they're not being true to themselves they aren't being true to anyone else... Get back to me when you hit 'manic' again, as R.A.T. says. Should I feel bad that I can't get any closer than I already am? Pointless; call me a control freak but I like knowing the score at all times. So herein I thank Christa, whomever you are, for reminding me unintentionally that if a person could have their cake and eat it too there'd be a lot more vomitting in the world, and to Bobbie for reminding me that I do have friends in my real life which show my worth and identity are not defined by the deeds I do to survive. --#2

    Today was definitely a red letter day -- m -- in this little grey mushroom's life. I received my one year review at work, and have done so well that they gave me the maximum raise possible, which works out to be $1.02 per hour. The significance of this, since most people in the world get something at some point so I can hear them saying BFD, is that it's a rarity that I've had a job long enough to get a raise. The last raise I received was in 1993, when I earned an extra dime per hour working at Pizza Hut. A year of my life for one slim dime? It almost paid the bus fare to get there every day. So I cheered and ballyhooed my success, then came home with a quick stop at the market for an alcoholic beverage. My personal choice was Grant's Ale, a taste of me homeland, but this particular vendor lacked Bert's Scottish or any other flavor (sure, I could have ventured to Safeway another two miles down the street but why bother), so admittedly I feel shortchanged. So I got a Murphey's Stout, since there's something romantic about a big dark bottle of Irish brew (and I'd already had a Guinness the other night, variety is the spice of life). Went home and... my spousal unit had also purchased the same item, a serandipitous happenstance. She also purchased a bottle of Heinz "El Squirt" ketchup -- it's green. You've gotta wonder how much food coloring it takes to make a thick red sauce like ketchup green. It's got more Vitamin C than regular ketchup too, and looks like tempra paint as it goes over your fries. Too funky. So here I am in a sort of melancholy mood, despite my success. Money can't buy happiness. I could possibly figure out why I'm less than jake were it not for the Murphey's, and I have already promised myself that some time soon (after finishing the other bottle in the fridge) I'll hunt up some Grant's, and hopefully wherever I find it won't only have that cheap-ass Perfect Porter which Bert has been fobbing off on us, instead of his wonderful Celtic Ale which I haven't seen in these parts in several years... possibly because he doesn't make it anymore. Shallow goals? Why not, they're sustainable and attainable. (Me to you: skip the Porter, go with the Hefeweizen. As Jimbo, who came to work for Bert at the brewpub later on, said, "Weis is my vice.")
    Ironies Department: Today on the way to work I saw a Ford station wagon with a half-dozen 'resident aliens' in it, and the bumpersticker in the back window, likely put there by the car's previous owner: Unemployed Unite! EAT YOUR IMPORTS
    Another odd twist of serandipity has befallen me lately as well. Two friends from the old 'hood are now in email contact with me, folks from high school whom last I saw when I was in college a decade ago. I've always thought it was interesting that my own classmates could give a flying Fig Newton about me, but some folks from under-classes felt I was pretty cool. This, more than money, is actually what has made me happy lately. Of course, I wouldn't give up the money, but why not have both. Hiyas go out to San and Andrea; thanks for caring that I was long ago, and still am, worth talking to. --#2

· Emmer's speculation on why I haven't written in this space yet this week: "You're giving the rest of us a chance to catch up!"
 · Bumpersticker of the day: It's too bad that the people who best understand government are busy teaching school.
  · Cryptic thought: Duct-taped to the back of a pickup was a piece of cardboard, upon which this was written...
       "Stuck behind an old pickup truck in the country rides, 50¢, pay at next stop."
   · Wanna see the biggest problem people have called Microsoft for help on? It would be this.
    · The new Rant is up, and it sounded better in person... --#2

So there I was, about a week into the second Fort Gordon Experience. I'm not quite impressed. Today was the first actual day of classes. So far, I'm not terribly impressed. Admittedly the quality of information went up as the day progressed. The discourse moved from basic definitions (instructor screwing *everything* up) in the morning towards explanations of practical matters (instructor getting things mostly right). I'm already taking notes on correcting some of the course material, and will be seeing what is required to submit those changes. Judging from personality traits displayed by those "in charge," idea will be accepted and not acted upon. This is far better than my last active duty assignment where one might get their chops busted for speaking up. Ah well, updates as we proceed.
As for contact (or lack thereof) with people before I left, can only apologize. Wasn't (wouldn't have been) very good company anyway. --#1

The holidays are over, thank God. My mother is married, of which I am both thankful, and sad. My dad has installed himself in a new apartment, and is slowly killing himself in his negligent care of himself. My Aunt is doing well, although she lets her arthritis slow her down more than it really should. My oldest sister is doing very badly in school due to her attention to her boyfriend instead of her homework. My other sister is doing well, although once again she worked too much, didn't study enough, and so didn't get the grades that she is smart enough to get. I am doing fantastically in the scholastic areas, although my mental state leaves something to be desired. Despite the trauma of the last semester, I got an incredible B in Calculus, an amazing A in Intermediate Spanish, a fantastical B in Organic Chemistry (and the lab), and the expected A in Directed Study. Overall, my GPA was a 3.38. I'm thinking about taking a double major in Spanish Language so that I can keep up the good work by not overloading myself, since I do have to work off campus for my bread.
I saw old friends over break, renewed old relationships, and I now have to deal with the consequences. I feel acutely the lyrics of the Simon and Garfunkle song; "and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries." I, unfortunately, am not made out of stone, and as much as I try to repress it, I have the same desires and feelings as all other people. I'm still learning to be human, instead of superwoman. Someday I may even take joy in not just being a human being, but also being a woman as well. That time is not yet apparently. I'm mentally exploring the possibilities of doing my graduate work in Spain. I'll go where there is good food, and good company. --#3

   It's a brand new year, and here I am sober. That's one thing that's always intregued me, about how many people usher in the new year: plastered. I think there's something symbolic about facing the unknown without one's senses about them... just doesn't set a good precident for the rest of the year. But anyhow. The world's oldest teenager, Dick Clark, is 71 this year and doesn't look a day over 40 so he must be doing something right. Maybe he's been working out with Jack LaLanne, who is in his 80's but looks like a buff 50 year old. (Accomplishment of 2000: getting Jack's autograph. I'm lucky for life!) But I suppose one must stay young to be over 30 and yet still understand the crap that passes for music nowadays. Dick was doing his yearly gig from Times Square, which is three time zones away from where I am so something had to be fabricated. Figgers. Once I'd had my injection of Dick, it was back to a local broadcast where the Space Needle became "the largest Roman candle in the universe" and we see newsgopher Jim Foreman in a helicopter wearing a tuxedo while reporting on the festivities, which I suppose is a welcome break from his usual assignment of standing in the middle of floodwaters or a snowdrift in his little yellow vest. When conditions are shitty, expect to see Jim Foreman on the scene. The fireworks were pretty spectacular, and the best part was that I got to watch them on TV in my own home. I work near Seattle until 11pm normally, then drive 45 miles home, and on a night like tonight the thought of driving wasn't very welcome -- both drunks and cops are Out To Get You -- but I got out at 9pm for good behavior. Apparently working all night on Christmas Eve (see previous Daybook entry) earned me some Slack™. Big question on my mind: Last year, we abbreviated the year as "2k" and all was good. Now we have to use "01"? Isn't there something similar to "2k" we could use cuz it's pretty snazzy?
   Santa Claus was good to me this year, because I have several warm and toasty grey items to wear and a couple Christopher Radko ornaments to cherish. For those who don't know, I collect blown glass Christmas ornaments, most often being mushrooms. No tree is complete without one, it's second to the pickle as the most important ornament to have since it symbolizes the forest from which the tree came. A few years ago, the Old World methods of making glass ornaments regained popularity, and Radko (followed by some West German manufacturers and America's own Midwestern brand) cashed in. Thus I think he's a greedy bastard because he sells for $30-$50 what you could buy without a brand name for $5-$10. Radko and Polanaise make 'brand' ornaments, like Disney characters or the cast from The Wizard Of Oz, for collectors. Me, sheesh, I just like the simple stuff: the heaviest silver wash is used on Russian ornaments, the most detail in painting is on Italian ornaments, the most variety of pieces comes from Poland or the Czech Republic or Germany, my oldest shroom is an Occupied Japan (I had to turn down a 1920's clip-on of unknown origin, the woman wanted $75), and my favorite one was made in Mexico. So getting a Radko made my collection more complete. Granted, he puts out a new shroom every year or two, and the piece I really want is the mushroom garland, which was retired a decade ago so the price if I found one on the open market would be absurd, but anything is really something. Have I bored you yet?
   And to ring in the new year, I did what everyone should do by their own volition instead of waiting for it to be a no-choice necessity: I formatted my hard drive and reinstalled Windows. (Hush, Chrome, I am not ready for Linux yet.) I used to have this S3-chipset video card in my machine, and it had issues even Microsoft acknowledges exist with my sound card. Recently I replaced the video card with a Matrox, but the shutdown goofiness -- two crash messages before the "It's safe to turn off your computer" screen appeared -- continued. I sat down to remedy the situation by removing the sound card and its drivers. All is well. Put the sound card back in, Windows tries to add one more sound driver than it needs, and the problems come back. Disable the unneeded sound driver in the Device Manager, and all is well. So then I try to get online to crow about this fix and my modem won't go. The lights flicker but then Windows reports it can't communicate with the modem. The Reader's Digest condensed version of the next few hours is: I figured it was Windows that was having the problem, since other problems were now cropping up unrelated to sound or video or shutdown, so what the hey, nuke and pave the OS. Did so, and I'm now using Windows 98 Second Edition. Moment of truth? Still can't talk to the modem, from Windows or from DOS, so it's either in the modem or in the port itself. I tested the modem on another computer, it's fine. This leaves... pulling out the sound card to see if I can see a problem, and there's a jumper on the motherboard loose. Push that in, plug everything together, and the modem is back. You may say I did a Windows reinstall over a freaking jumper; I say it needed to be done anyway. And as an unexpected bonus, the video driver in Win98SE for this Matrox card is better than the one Matrox itself provides on its website, so now I am using 1280x1024x24bit resolution, with higher possible but not likely on this $15 15" monitor. :)
   Like I said before, I don't make New Year's resolutions. But here are some things I would like to accomplish in the next year: To get a healthy raise come January 15 for being so indispensible. To be a more thoughtful writer here in the Daybook. To counteract the effects of a desk job. To get an eye exam before becoming totally blind. To teach the world to scream in key, harmony is optional. To contact my sister, something I haven't done in all of 2000 (that email apparently doesn't count since it's still unread). To find more of those tiny screw-in Christmas bulbs or strings that take them, which I haven't seen around in a year or two. To learn how to use Linux so I'll know what the fsck Chrome is talking about. To get a new computer by Christmas. To figure out how to keep the squirrels out of the Corsican mint -- really guys, there are NO nuts under it, you looked already. To do that thing I did weekly when I was 18 but now do once or twice a year if I'm lucky: mow the lawn. To not only notice that there are stars overhead, but also to listen to them. And to remember what Dr. Jonas Salk said to a group of film producers some years ago: Man is still evolving, and there are two paths a person can take in their actions -- they can be evolutionary and demonstrate that violence is not necessary to show right from wrong, or be de-evolutionary and perpetuate the circle that keeps us unhappy and insecure. (This may rule out my paint pistol, but how about pepper spray?)  --#2


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