Friday, December 19, 2008

Speaking of idiots

Haven't been on FactCheck or PolitiFact in quite some time. Ruminating on The Recount made me think of them, so I hit them both out of curiosity to see where they are, post-election. Found this sad, sad article on FactCheck. Man.

Our Disinformed Electorate
by Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Brooks Jackson

We saw more aggressive fact-checking by journalists in this election than ever before. Unfortunately, as a post-election Annenberg Public Policy Center poll confirms, millions of voters were bamboozled anyway.
  • More than half of U.S. adults (52 percent) said the claim that Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plan would raise taxes on most small businesses is truthful, when in fact only a small percentage would see any increase.
  • More than two in five (42.3 percent) found truth in the claim that Sen. John McCain planned to "cut more than 800 billion dollars in Medicare payments and cut benefits," even though McCain made clear he had no intent to cut benefits.
The first falsehood was peddled to voters by McCain throughout his campaign, and the second was made in a pair of ads run heavily in the final weeks of the campaign by Obama.

These aren’t isolated examples. One in four (25.6 percent) of those who earned too little to have seen any tax increase under Obama's plan nevertheless believed that he intended to "increase your own federal income taxes," accepting McCain's repeated claims that "painful" tax hikes were being proposed on "families." Nearly two in five (39.8 percent) thought McCain had said he would keep troops in combat in Iraq for up to 100 years, though he’d actually spoken of a peacetime presence such as that in Japan or South Korea. Close to one in three (31 percent) believed widely disseminated claims that Obama would give Social Security or health care benefits to illegal immigrants, when in fact he would do neither.

We’re not surprised. As we wrote in "unSpun: finding facts in a world of disinformation," the same thing happened in 2004 when majorities of voters believed untrue things that had been fed to them by the Bush and Kerry campaigns.

One reason is obvious: Political ads run thousands of times and reach far more people than articles on On our best day, we were read by 462,678 visitors. By contrast, the Obama campaign aired two ads claiming that McCain planned to cut Medicare benefits a total of 17,614 times at a cost estimated to be more than $7 million – which is several times more than's entire annual budget.

There are deeper reasons as well. We humans all have a basic disposition to embrace our side's arguments and reject or ignore those offered by an opponent. Our polling reflects that. After taking differences in age, race, gender and education into account, Republicans were still 4.4 times more likely than Democrats to believe that Obama would raise taxes on most small businesses, and Democrats were 3.2 times more likely than Republicans to believe that McCain would cut Medicare benefits. Simply put, partisanship trumps evidence.

This also helps explain why so many people accept the most preposterous claims circulated by chain e-mail messages and ignorant or irresponsible bloggers. Our poll found nearly one in five (19 percent) falsely think Obama is a Muslim, and even more (22 percent) find truth in the claim that he’s nearly half Arab. Republicans were 2.8 times more likely than Democrats to buy the Muslim claim, and just over twice as likely to swallow the half-Arab notion.

This is "group think" in action. We humans tend to marry, date, befriend and talk with people who already agree with us, and hence are less likely to say, "Wait a minute – that’s just not true."

Consultants also dupe us by exploiting our partisan preconceptions. People tend to believe Democrats are more likely than Republicans to raise taxes, so McCain was pushing on an open door when he repeatedly claimed Obama would raise taxes on ordinary voters, and not just the most affluent. By the same token, Obama found it easy to sell his bogus claim that McCain planned to cut Medicare benefits by 22 percent, because Republicans have a reputation as opponents of social programs.

Voters aren’t highly knowledgeable about government to begin with. Our poll shows that nearly one in three (31 percent) think Congress or the president, not the Supreme Court, have the final call on whether laws are constitutional. Nearly one in 10 (9.9 percent) think Republicans still control the House of Representatives, even though they’ve had two years to catch up on results of the 2006 elections.

And voters, once deceived, tend to stay that way despite all evidence. Nearly half in our poll (46 percent) agreed that Saddam Hussein played a role in the attacks of September 11, even though no solid evidence has ever emerged to support this notion.

None of this bodes well for the future, in our view. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigns that systematically disinform the public can only make the task of governing harder for the eventual winner. But are we discouraged that our efforts didn’t prevent this? Not at all. If we hadn’t tried, it might have been worse.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. Brooks Jackson is director of the APPC project They are co-authors of "unSpun, finding facts in a world of disinformation."

The Annenberg post-election poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which interviewed 3,008 adults in the continental United States by telephone from Nov. 5 through Nov. 18, 2008. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±2.3 percent.

Idiots on parade

Jay Weiner of MinnPost had this description of the recount process today:

"That’s what happens when you diligently examine 500 ballots filled out by people who are older than 18 but, for reasons known only to them, can’t fill in an oval with their pens."

I believe this is so far my favorite.

Well, then, Weiner also had this to say. This is a close 2nd:

" when the chief justice of the Supreme Court examines a ballot filled with scribbles, seemingly by a third-grader, but by an adult from Plymouth, Ward 4, Precinct 20."

Wow. Some people are just plain dumb. Dumb. It almost makes a person wonder if maybe a basic intelligence test should be required for voting. IQ must be above _ _ _ to enter here.

Would almost guarantee that certain political parties would never elect anyone ever again.

Ooo... did I just type that out loud? *grin*

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Participatory Democracy

All hail Dr. Robert Adler, the inventor of the 1956 Zenith Space Command wireless remote; the inventor of the mute button. I cannot wait until Wednesday, November 5th. It makes me long for the days of annoying Subway commercials. It's literally one 30 second long vicious political attack after another - roughly 8 minutes of hell per 1/2 hour. It's making me a bit nostalgic for George III.

In slightly scarier news, I had a neighbor ask me today where we voted. I believe she's lived here longer than I have. WTH has she been doing these last couple of years? I never understood the old Federalist concept (assuming I am remembering correctly that this idea comes from the Federalists) that the people can't necessarily be trusted to elect their own government, but the more idiots I see, the smarter John Adams becomes. I surely wish people would educate themselves. It's not like it's hard.

The fact that people actually believe what they see in TV ads. Talk about a WTH.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Latest annoyance

I am heartily tired of the StarTribune having pop-ups come up whenever you click on stories like some cheesy crap site.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


I'm beat. Been a slave for animals of the two legged and four legged persuasion for 12 hours straight, including over lunch. Adding getting ready this morning (more slaving - 4 legged), it's about 14 on my feet and running. This is the first time I've had to myself all day.

Taking care of the cats of some neighbors while they're out of town. They (the cats) are runners, so I've got a contraption set up in front of the door so they at least have to leap before they can get out. It looks ridiculous, but has worked so far. They (the neighbors) are... interesting... *sigh* I'm calling it my corporeal work of mercy. Sometimes spiritual. Depending. Anyway, they're nice cats, and it's fairly little fuss. Just time. Between that and feeding and changing the litter of my own two, it's been a long day.

Very late at work tonight. About 4 hours overtime. 'Cepting I don't get paid overtime. Anyway. I just couldn't get anything to work. Printed some stuff and it took me an hour to get it, between the printer being out of paper and people needing me. Couldn't get the laptop to work, then couldn't get the wireless to work. Couldn't eat, drink, hit the restroom due to people asking questions, needing to speak with me, etc. Man. Luckily I was able to leave 2 hours earlier than I was supposed to. My colleagues are there as we speak. Something to be said for exchange time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Short term memory problems

I just cut my inbox size in half! Terribly exciting. Granted, this still means I have over 100 messages. In one of five e-mail accounts I have. But the biggest one has been sliced.

I've also updated three of the four blogs I maintain today. Another positive. ;)

Decided to change poems. That first one was too much. OK, so I'm typing from memory here... the punctuation might not be accurate...

Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But ah, my foes and oh, my friends
It gives a lovely light.

So one down, anyway. Think I'm going to go for a longer one next:

Do not go gentle into that good night
old age something something raving something
Rage, rage against something...

Aw, heck.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Poem #1

Ah yes - didn't I say I needed to get around to memorizing some poems? Gotta get on that.

For Whom the Bell Tolls
John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Decisions, decisions

In my always awesome life, I just got updated on my Quicken enough to determine that increases in taxes and health insurance have adjusted my cost-of-living raise to the point where I am making a grand total of $0.18 more per month. Am, obviously, pumped beyond all telling, especially due to my incredible new workload and the 2-4 hours per day I put in of overtime. I am not certain yet towards what I will put this increase of $2.16 per year... perhaps gas for my yacht. Half a gallon of milk? A pound of butter (on sale)? One sock? Half a shirt sleeve? Hmm....

Luckily, I will have time to think as I will need to save up for this huge purchase. Wouldn't want to waste my raise.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Doggie paddling

Spent much of this evening creating a "to-do" list. You know you have too much when... Anyway, it does fit on one page. In 8 point font, 'tis true, but it is on one page. So at least there's a direction to my frantic splashing as I go down for the third time.

I did get gas for $2.83 this afternoon, though, so that was a mighty big plus.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


So the 40th Anniversary Party From Hades was last night. It went extremely well. I will be eating roast beef and turkey sandwiches until sometime in April 2013, but it went well. Everyone RSVPed except two of my cousins - one who I knew wouldn't come as they live several thousand miles from here, and one who I knew wouldn't come as that's the way things have been lately. I was mightily pooped today. Went to bed finally somewhere between 12:30 and 1. The folks came over today and we ate up some more of the leftovers and I sent them home with quite a few as well. So it was good.

Also took a few to update my 101 goals list. I need to get moving as I should really be at a 1 per 10 days pace. Have been slowly working on one or two but need to knock more off. Am going to start memorizing poems, I think. Can do those fairly fast...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
And may perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.


In today's sign of the Apocalypse, I have decided that there are three - count them, three - television shows not on PBS that I like.

I shall pause here whilst you pick your jaw up from the floor. Be sure to dust off the cat hair and Cheeto crumbles before they fall on your keyboard.


Three! This is a new world's record only surpassed for my childhood love for Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, The Electric Company, and The Muppet Show.

Wait. Three of those four are on PBS... Dang.

Anyway, the three are these:
Chuck (NBC, Monday, 7 p.m.)
Pushing Daisies (CBS, Wednesday, 7 p.m.)
The Office (NBC, Thursday, 8 p.m.)

There's clever writing, there's great characters, there's humor, there's pathos. I care about what happens. I actually turn on the TV and even pay attention. Wild.

P.S. It bugs me to no end that when I Googled "the muppet show," I got Disney. That is just wrong. Wrong, I tell you. Wrong.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One day closer

A bit of an odd day today. Odd few weeks. Am doing all sorts of insanities at work, coupled with planning a rather large party, coupled with my great-aunt in the hospital due to die pretty much any minute now.

So the great-aunt thing. We went to visit her in the hospital this afternoon. She's out of it. Rather comatose, looks nothing like herself, etc. In hospice, for all practical purposes. I forget exactly what they called it at the hospital - palliative care, I guess. Extremely caring, professional nursing staff. Nice room. Which takes nothing away from the fact that she's quite obviously down for the count and the ref is right around 9.

It's not like we were terribly close. I mean, I've known her all my life, of course. My grandmother on that side had 11 brothers and sisters and she's one of the ones I saw the most of. But a great-aunt is different than an aunt. Or a grandmother, for that matter.

Thing is, it's occurred to me that she's the last one of that generation left. Both sides of the fam. She dies, we all move up the conveyor belt one notch.

That's a little unsettling. OK, a lot unsettling.

See, the older I get, the more I understand one of the wisest things a teacher ever said to me. She told me she felt perennially 16, because she taught 16 year olds. That's who she saw all day, every day. Lesson learned, of course, is the old saw about how you're as young as you feel, blah blah blah. Still, wise, really, especially the way she put it.

I feel the same as I've always felt - perennially 16, one could say. That's an exaggeration, but I don't feel like I used to think from a 16 year old perspective that people my age should feel. Aren't I the same person I've always been? I haven't settled down, I haven't - God forbid - settled. I refuse to settle.

But yet, somehow, I've gone up one more notch. Without me quite realizing it, that time, it keeps slipping. How on earth did this happen when I haven't gotten any older? Why do I feel like I have so much left to do and so little time and so little accomplished so far?

As some smart dude once said, "Watch out, then, because you do not know the day or the hour."

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Am attempting to blog more often as one of the things on The List. Every Sunday, minimum. We'll see how that goes. ;)

Just spent entirely too long doing something the long way as the departmental budget won't allow for the most efficient method.*sigh* So I spend quality time at home, slaving away. But, I have a job. I have a job. No mean feat in this current economy.

Oh, but wait. I'm sorry. I'm whining again. I'll just stop that right now and I'm sure the economy will clear right up.

It's drizzling a little. I love that sound. So peaceful.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This is a test, this is only a test

Just trying to see what happens if I type now and try to post later...

Went to the game tonight (Tues). Awesome! Won 9-3, much fun had by all. Crowd was a tad obnoxious towards the opposing team due to the rivalry, so that was fun. Idiot kid jumped on the field. Bet THAT'S going to be a fun phone call home to his parents...

ETA: Yes, it does work! Imagine that... ;)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kyrie Eleison

Again, I must say, WTH is with people?

So a colleague today basically decided the world revolves around her, and asked me to change my schedule to suit her needs. Now, she does have some extremely legitimate concerns, don't get me wrong. However, as amazing as I might be, I do not have the power to single-handedly change a schedule that affects a good 1600+ other people.

She then, of course, in the time-honored tradition of the many who feel they are an incarnation of Ra (see: Bush, George W.), decided that her best course of action was to threaten to take her ball and go home.

In other words, this was not a productive conversation.

I promised her I'd look at my schedule and see if I could tweak things. I did. Spent a good hour and a half this evening - for which, I might add, I did not get paid as I am not an hourly employee - on the project. No insight struck.

So I have little other choice but to take this to a supervisor, dump the problem in her lap, and hope.

A little flexibility in this life works wonders. One would wish everyone was willing to be flexible. And realize that Copernicus had it all figured out a long time ago.

But I don't have a squirrel in my house like other people I can name. Could be worse. ;)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rant of the Day

I just got back from Cub. It's 10:30 p.m. There were more small children there than I could conveniently count.

WTH is with people?

Monday, September 15, 2008


How sad is that that the Blogger Dashboard changed and I just found out about it?

Current odd bee in the bonnet:

I'm not entirely certain how it will go. I've got a draft list set but need to do some revamping. Some things are a little too vague, others not likely attainable in the allotted time. But it gets me off my butt, and that is always a good thing. Have already knocked off one thing, and another is going down Friday for sure. Progress is being made on a couple more all the time. It'll be an interesting journey.

One of the things that struck me is by the time I've finished, I will have completed 15 years in my current career. A milestone, that.

I don't do nearly enough thinking and evaluating. Perhaps this will help change that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reality TV

As happens every two years, I'm in the middle of spending exorbitant amounts of time glued to the TV. It's easier during the summer, but it doesn't stop me during the winter. I'm up past 11 every night, watching events unfold some 6000 miles away. It's thrilling, fascinating, and heartbreaking all at once. It's an addiction.

I feel a bit like an idiot yelling "Go! Go! Go!" at the TV. I mean, they're thousands of miles away, and wouldn't hear me through the tube even if we were on the same continent. But that doesn't stop me. I even sometimes get a little teary-eyed, watching these people - kids, really - at the topof their game, trying the hardest they've ever tried.

Citius, Altius, Fortius. So true. So true.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cole Porter tells the truth

It's hot. I don't like it.

If I weren't so friggin' cheap, I'd turn on the AC. But I'm cheap. So it's not on. So I whine, as if that's going to make it all better. And I'm going to be whining that it's too cold in a few months. What on earth is wrong with me?

Speaking of being cheap, have been scanning the 'net for deals and trying to become as frugal as possible. Gas prices, along with everything going up except my salary... well, we're all in the same boat, aren't we? I've always had a tendency to DIY and it's getting more and more pronounced.

Anyway, there's a million sites out there. Here's a few I like to read. I've been getting the paper and clipping coupons, writing for freebies, reading blogs, etc. One does wonder how much time I'll have for this when work kicks in hard in a couple of weeks...

Frugal Dutchess
Wise Bread
Simple Dollar
Apartment Therapy and related sites Freebies Coupons Frugal Living

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What can Brown do for you?

Oof. Why oh why did I volunteer to help my father at work? I ended up driving all over creation, making 6 deliveries for a total of 1000 pounds of lugging crap, not exaggerating. I'm not in pain; just freakin' exhausted. And dirty. And smelly. And hot. I have a whole new appreciation for folks who do this for a living. There's a lot to be said for an office job.

I don't ordinarily get like this, but I'm so proud of Justin (not Jason!) Morneau I can't even stand it. What a guy. 'Bout time he gets a little more credit. He's so unassuming, folks forget about him. But some of us know.

This time of year there's about a million little summer events and festivals. Summer's so short in the Midwest, we have to be outside when we have the chance. Went to yet another one recently. Love the things, really. You're outside, they're generally free, and as we landed free parking as well things turned out rather well. Concert was pretty good; food was overpriced. Some darn fine musicians.

Quote of the day from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire - I just love the last sentence: "We don't strike out. ... We're pretty good at putting the ball in play, shortening your swing, and understanding all of that. I think that probably bodes well for getting some hits. We chop balls, bloop balls. Put it in play and run like hell."

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I've been staying up way too late recently. I don't know why. This happens every summer - I hit a stretch where I just can't get to bed before 1. This of course makes the next day a little odd but there it is. Anyway.

This means I've been watching late night TV. I've decided I just don't like most of it. Leno's jokes are all the same, every night, and are all mean and mostly about sex. He panders to the lowest common denominator, and part of what bugs me is he never used to. Dave is much better, smarter, funnier, but I usually (there are exceptions) don't like his interviews and still there's this retread aspect to it. Easy for me to say - these guys have to be funny every night and in Letterman's case that's for a good 25 years - but it's mostly about sex and making fun of people. They take the easy road. Can't stand Conan. That's unfunny slapstick, with again the sex and making fun of people. And his band leader drives me crazy; good musician, but annoying. The interviews are all about shilling for some movie or book, and people - both the interviewer and the interviewee - are obviously going through the motions. Leno, Dave, and Conan - they don't trust their audiences to be smart. But what do I do? Flip around and try to find the good parts best I can and then get mad when I can't. Why do I do this to myself? I'm an idiot.

Until Craig Ferguson comes on. I like Craig. He's a little manic, a little weird, and I don't always like the sketches, but he's smart and he trusts the audience to be smart. His monologues are different every night, not just the same old retread jokes from the previous night. He seems to be actually interested in the people he interviews. He appears to actually think. He's willing to be brave and try stuff. Sure, there's some making fun of people, there's some sex jokes, but he has more than one note to play on.

So I was dinging around a bit last night and looked him up online to try to find biography stuff. Was wondering if he was a musician, truthfully, as I noticed in the credits he performed the theme song on the show (he has no band). He does play drums. Anyway, Google being the marvelous thing that it is, one thing led to another and I found a wonderful video on YouTube.

Craig, you see, is a recovering alcoholic. He makes no bones about that on his show, occasionally making cracks about his previous life and the things that happened before he got sober in 1992. One of the things about him is that going along with the willingness to be brave, the trust in his audience, and all that, he's also willing to be serious. This little clip dates from February 2007, during the whole hoo-ha over Brittany Spears and the whole concept of battering and making fun of those who truly need help.

What the hell is wrong with our society that we insist on stomping on those already downtrodden?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Various blather

Duh. Duh. And more Duh.


On the job front, I received my full time contract yesterday. So I'm OK. Still don't know exactly what I'll be doing in a couple of months, but I have a full time job for certain. I cannot begin to communicate the feeling of relief when I opened my mail yesterday afternoon.

Went serious power shopping yesterday with M to help her get ready for her cruise. We stopped at three places before we even got to the mall, and then we went hard core. My dogs gave up barking a long time ago in order to lay down and die. Happily, I have finally managed in my old age to get the concept of window shopping. I got out of this deal about $3 poorer - a lunch bag, as the old one is finally trashed after about 8 years. Am rather proud of my new-found frugal ways. Here's hoping I can manage to hang on to them; with gas prices the way they are, everything is increasing except my salary.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” - Mark Twain

I know I've posted parts of this before, but I believe it's the sort of thing that it is impossible to read and reflect upon too frequently. Happy Fourth - and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd - of July.

Among the units at Gettysburg on July 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 1863 was the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. Minnesota governor Alexander Ramsey happened to be in Washington at the time South Carolina seceded from the Union, and was the first governor to offer troops to fight; therefore the First Minnesota was the first volunteer regiment of any state to be offered for the Union cause.

On July 2nd, during the battle at Gettysburg, the First was ordered to fill in a gap in the Union line until the area could be reinforced. Of 262 men who were ordered to attack, 215 ended the day killed, missing, or wounded. The following day, this same unit helped to repel Pickett’s Charge. The First Minnesota has the highest losses in any one battle (by total number of men) of the entire Civil War.

General Winfield Scott Hancock later said of the First,
“I had no alternative but to order the regiment in. We had no force on hand to meet the sudden emergency. Troops had been ordered up and were coming on the run, but I saw that in some way five minutes must be gained or we were lost. It was fortunate that I found there so grand a body of men as the First Minnesota. I knew they must lose heavily and it caused me pain to give the order for them to advance, but I would have done it (even) if I had known every man would be killed. It was a sacrifice that must be made. The superb gallantry of those men saved our line from being broken. No soldiers on any field, in this or any other country, ever displayed grander heroism.”


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy freakin' fourth

Whoever decided that fireworks should be legal really should be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. Not professional shows; those are amazing. I mean amateurs. I hate amateurs. It's a combination of being afraid someone is going to blow something up (or set something on fire) that will affect me somehow, and the idiots shooting things off when I'd really rather be sleeping. Some folks are inconsiderate, brain dead morons.

I love professional displays but am generally afraid to go out in public to watch them. Why? Drunken idiots who seem to feel they need to set off bottle rockets into the crowd and hand sparklers to 3 year olds. I've been to fireworks displays in multiple cities, in multiple states, and anywhere with legal fireworks, it's always the same.

The closer we get to the 4th, the worse it gets. Night after night, boom boom crackle crackle, from as soon as darkness falls until 10:30/11. Generally speaking, I see the point of personal rights and the government staying out of our hair but all too often these people are so busy asserting their rights that they don't grasp how they affect other folks' right to personal safety, a reasonably quiet sleep, and people just plain leaving us alone. One of the scariest things I ever saw was at the house of some friends. One of the folks there was peeling back the paper on the fuse of a soon-to-be-airborne shell, cigarette dangling out of his mouth, beer in his other hand. All I could think was, thank God there's a lake in front of us I can dive into if I catch fire.

If people were safe about it and considerate, than I wouldn't really care. But it's apparently too much to ask.

Speaking of considerate folks, the elephants upstairs are back. The pounding is pretty constant. I hadn't heard them for a while and had hoped that meant they'd moved. But no. Thumpthumpthump squeaksqueak thump. Runrunrunrunrunrunboom. Thump. Elephants: the most likely conclusion. Interior designing elephants who are constantly rearranging their furniture in new and exciting ways. Nothing else could possibly explain it.

Downstairs this evening there were a bunch of folks singing in Spanish at the tops of their lungs. It sounded like it could have been a religious service - I don't know much Spanish but thought I caught something about Jesus. I'm holding out hope for an isolated incident. If I have elephants living above me and Bible thumping revivalists below I'm never going to make it through the summer.

My kingdom for some soundproofing. Or at least quieter neighbors.

Monday, June 30, 2008

More blah blah blah

There's an article in today's paper about the local schools and their test results under No Child Left Behind, that boil on the face of education in the United States. I was interested to see that in the paper's rather unscientific poll, results are running about two to one against testing as a reliable way to judge a school. Now if only the idiots that are running things in this country would get a clue before everything really goes to hell...

I just get so pissed at these people who seem to think the schools stink and it's all the fault of the schools when they don't bother to look in their own backyard. It's not the teachers who should be raising your child, it's you. If you value education, chances are your child will too. If you are interested in their education, they will be too. If you see to it they do their homework, if you keep on them about their test scores, if you go to their games and concerts and events, if you show your child you care about them, it will show in their learning and how they are as human beings. If you buy them stuff and hope that makes up for it, that will show as well. You reap what you sow, people. Get with it.

In the "you learn something new every day" category, I just found out there exists a professional women's tackle football league with 39 teams and 7 more in the 2009 expansion. No kidding.
National Women's Football Association
You go, girls.

Went to the dentist today and of course they had forgotten to write my appointment down and so there was no record of it. Good thing I had today off anyway; I was able to take it philosophically. The person who made the mistake wasn't in at the time but - serious points for her - called me later to apologize. Service like that is rare these days, and very much appreciated.

Side note: darn hard to do anything with the computer when the cat is using the "enter" key for a pillow.

History Detectives season premiere is tonight, which makes me pretty close to the happiest clam in existence. This just may be my favorite TV show, period.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nothingness, really

More proof that people have no clue - I now know everything about the spat a neighbor of mine is having with her boyfriend, as does everyone else on the block. Don't have your phone conversations on the deck in a courtyard at 10 p.m., honey. And many of us would appreciate it if you'd stop dropping the f-bomb every other word.

I'm not so fond of sports in general, but the recent US Open was astounding. Wow. Occasionally, I get a glimpse of why people obsess over these things... Baseball, however, is an exception. Am heading to a game tomorrow and apparently the tickets are to the point I'd be bringing my glove if I had any idea where it was. Can't wait for the dog. Yummers.

Today was a tad entertaining. After work met a friend for coffee that I rarely get to see and then went to M's for dinner, so that was cool. M and I have decided we need to be on a diet kick, so that'll be a blast, I'm sure. Hate that crap. But.

Work today and tomorrow will be joyous - putting a bunch of data together for the Board. I spent much of today crunching numbers, which sure as heck ain't my favorite. Interesting, the data. But the number crunching part sucks. But again, it's a job. I can pay rent and buy cat food.

Flooding is bad for many of my friends. We've been lucky - nothing here. My former apartment is underwater at least a little bit - can't quite tell from the photos. My decision to move is looking better and better...

Nothing to say, really, just figured I should update. Best hit the sack. Morning has come a little too early these past few.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

404 Error: Romance Not Found

I love the Internet. God, I love the Internet.

There are stories to tell of things that happened today; suffice to say I don't feel like telling them right now. I'm tired and going to bed. :)

Happy Father's Day to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not much new

Not much new; it's nice outside for a change but I gather it's supposed to rain again this afternoon. Rain, rain, rain. But we haven't had problems with flooding as opposed to a fair amount of the surrounding terrain, so I need to just shut up.

Glad it's nice so far as it's Trench today and it sucks when Trench weather isn't up to snuff. There's likely to be Wii later tonight as well, which is always good for a laugh or two.

Spent a fair bit of time at work this past week, mainly doing training and going over test results. Not terribly exciting, but I got paid, which is always good. My colleagues were entertaining, which is also a plus. Learned a fair bit in a technology training session and got some ideas about some stuff I can do for an organization that I'm a board member of, so that was worthwhile. That and our trainer was terribly entertaining.

M and I got pedicures this past week, which was a good time. We had them done at a cosmology school, which makes the price a bit more within reach. We meandered around the mall for a while as well. Nice sale at Bath and Body Works.

Heading to a ball game on Tuesday, which will be fun although I'm sure they'll lose. Been that kind of season. Haven't hung out with that group of friends in a while, though, so it will be a good time. Headed on a road trip a few days later to visit a college roommate. Going to be a total girl thing, which will be a good time.

Best get moving so I'm not too late to Trench...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

SOTD, job update, heckuva good story

I had forgotten how much I like this. It's just lovely. Simple and sweet and lovely. B gave me a mix tape many years ago with Bonnie Raitt's recording on it. I'd somehow never heard it before. I was reminded of it today as I heard bits of this week's PHC - go to their website to catch Ms. Raitt and what I believe is the composer himself singing the song live: That girl's got some pipes.

PHC is a grand gift to humanity. It's so good to know the old time radio variety show still exists. And with music to rock anyone's world. I laugh, I cry. Every week.

Anyway, back to SOTD: The song was written by Richard Thompson and first recorded by him in 1975, I think.
Lyrics and suchlike here:

  • Job update:
I found out as of Friday that I am going to be full time. My job is changing in ways I don't care for much at all, but I'll be able to pay rent and buy cat food. I have no reason to complain: we're losing 34 folks from our building alone. 34. Out of something like 70-80. Granted, some are transfers and a few are retiring, but... 34.

We had a big breakfast meeting at the OCB on Friday and among other things, my boss asked all leaving to stand and be recognized and thanked for all they've done. She read off the names of everyone who was leaving. It sounded like she was reading off a list of war dead. God. And then to make the comparison even more unfortunately apt, they showed a PowerPoint with pictures of all those leaving with some sappy song as the soundtrack. Luckily for me, the song contained Willie Nelson, so I was able to keep some perspective. Still, not my favorite meeting ever.

This whole thing has sucked for months now and even though I finally have some vague clue what's happening, it's going to continue to suck. It's just going to suck in ways I don't yet fully comprehend.


Not totally related, but as the job is much slower in the summer I've spent the weekend coming up with a list of summer projects. It's huge. I get so little done during the other months. Finally thought of a decent way to describe my job. Nine months of the year I belong to other people. Three months I belong to myself.

And, well, it's closer to 9 1/2 and 2 1/2, but that's another thing.

  • So here's the best story I've had for quite a while.

Several of us went out after work on Thursday. We went out after work on Wednesday too, but I digress. Anyway. We started at an establishment on campus, had a couple of coneys and then wandered across the street for a fishbowl. Life was good - hey, we weren't at work. We hopped back into our cars to drive maybe 1/2 mile south to yet another establishment. It was closed, but the biker establishment next door was open, so we wandered in. What nice people. A bit of a townie (not in the British sense) place - everyone knew each other's names, they had pull tabs, everything was dirt cheap - but we like that kind of place. Everyone was terribly friendly, including our waitress.

So for whatever reason, J and K wanted to do pull-tabs. I tend to avoid that sort of thing as Throwing Money Down A Rat Hole Which I Can Ill Afford, but what the heck, it does go to charity, and we were celebrating. K calls pull-tabs "paper crack," which is easily the best definition I've ever heard. Anyway. We all chuck in a few bucks, J goes over to the booth which is in every townie establishment I've ever been in, and brings back the paper crack.

We begin to pull. Papers litter the table. I'm all proud of myself as I've pulled a couple of $2 winners, even a $4. K pulls one or two winners as well. Then J says, "Oh my God."

What? What?

He just pulled a $599 pull tab.

Then K and I say "Oh my God." ARE YOU JOKING?!? He shows us. He wasn't joking.

No. Way.

We promptly started squealing, high-fiving, taking pictures, and calling and texting everyone we could think of. We could hardly believe it. What were the chances?

So I am now approximately $200 richer than I once was, and contemplating how best to spend my windfall. K got a massage. J is considering spending it on gas, which I hope I nipped in the bud. I mean, really. At least get gas for your boat, for Jah's sake. And me? Idunno as of yet. My mother suggested a new vacuum. I, of course, laughed.

Our day continued with a trip on the light rail in the rain, more food, more drink, and a game of Candyland. In Spanish.

It was a good day.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Serious hail today - about the size of a 50 cent piece. Stripped the leaves off the trees. Quite a sight. And a sound. Wow.

Today's terribly amusing website: It has reading material like Dickinson's poetry and Twain's short stories set up in such a way to look like powerpoint presentations, so it's harder for you to get caught if you choose to spend your time on the job doing something more productive than actual work. Entertaining, at least.

Going to spend much of tomorrow at work. Bah.

Now to sleep; perchance to dream...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Last Full Measure

" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. " - George Orwell

Gettysburg Address - Abraham Lincoln

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

(More Lincoln Portrait stuff here:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today didn't suck

I'm a tiny bit crispy; just a little pink in the upper chest and the tops of my arms. Don't feel all that hot - sun, wind, scary Biffs, too much crappy food and a few adult libations will do that to you. But now I'm out of the sun, have had a chance to go to a real bathroom, and have a little of the pink stuff, so I'm feeling much better.

Some serious hard core adventures today. Get Out of Jail Free cards will get that for you.

I of course was late getting to J's house. I swear he said to turn left at Bill's... anyway, I was driving around and around and around - the whole thing was exactly like "Little Boxes". Except there was a tan one, and a tan one, and a tan one, and a tan one...

We ended up singing the song much of the day. It's a bit... insidious, I suppose one could say. Sticks with a person. Oh boy, does it.

Anyway, after multiple phone calls and stops for map viewing, I made it to J's little box and J and K and I left for breakfast. They hopped in my car and we drove downtown. My car - really, all cars - are just too small for J. And of course he accidentally hit the seat warmer on the way in and had a conniption fit. "Why the hell is my butt warm?!?" he roared. "How the hell do you turn it off?!?" K and I were laughing so hard we couldn't see, which isn't good when you're driving down the Interstate at 60. Man.

We met P at a cool little greasy spoon down on campus. The place is a riot. It's maybe the width of my bedroom, at best; something like 10 feet. Seriously. There's a long counter of about 14 stools, and the line forms behind the stools. There's barely room to breathe. It is not a place for the claustrophobic or the obese. Once someone finishes eating, the first person in line must somehow find space to scootch between the stools and the line in the back to the empty stool in question. You sit down to stare at a wall full of memorabilia, mainly money from various foreign countries, all dusty. The main cook is to the right, flipping pancakes and hashbrowns on the oldest equipment I believe I've ever seen still in use. He must have asbestos fingers. Turned a lot of stuff with the hands. Wow. And of course they do the stereotypical diner technique of yelling out orders and that they need more round plates and all that stuff. Any customer who breaks the many unwritten rules is yelled at as well. Much fun. And darned tasty food. I had blueberry pancakes and hashbrowns and was quite content. Oof.

For some bizarre reason, J and K got a bee in their bonnet that we needed to go down the road to some scary little joint that I suspect would be truly frightening at night. What drives anyone to drink their breakfast, I don't know. There were several older men in there doing just that. We didn't fit in, and I have to say I'm glad of it. But it was an experience. Getting there was craziness in itself - I was driving, had no idea where I was going, and J didn't have too many clues either. That led to one of the hands-down best lines of the day. He told me to take a right turn and then said "take the turn a little wide in case we need to abort." Nice.

We headed back to J's house to pick up the boat, the snackies, and the other important accoutrements to a day on the water.

Then, out to the lake. It's not a far drive in miles but it's a little amusing in the change of the people and the things. The lake has been the city person's and rich person's playground for over 100 years, and it shows. It's an interesting place. The lake is big and wandering, with lots of interconnected bays. The channels between the bays are often so narrow that there's bridges over them with roads and railroads crossing and crisscrossing. There're quite a few charter operations on the water, including the one with the local football team and the boat scandal of a year or two ago. We passed by that place, which was a nice moment. Some beautiful old historic steamboats and wooden motorboats, huge houses, rich folks and their toys.

We saw lots of funny things. One of the longer bridges had some entertaining graffiti: OPD Blows (heart) Seniors '08. And they signed it. That was smart. I'm sure the police department in question will never, never see it and never, never catch them. They're too wily. J loves to drive as fast as possible, then slows way down so we can just float and soak up the atmosphere. We played chicken with a couple geese at one point. We saw a boat floating mysteriously and appearing unoccupied... but we're pretty sure we know what was going on inside. We debated about going over and "asking if they needed help," but figured we'd likely see more than we really needed to see.

We also went to a couple of dockside establishments, the type where you can pull your boat up to a slip and go in to have one or two. They have parking attendants, so to speak, guys that come up and help you tie and untie your boat. Very posh. We saw several rich kids back from college, busily hitting on the waitresses. Oh, the humanity. We just wanted to smack so many of them. Honey, gotta tell you: you aren't as good looking as you think you are. Lots of women with fake tans and too many plastic surgeries wearing clothes that just screamed that they were searching for Husband #4. And then what had to be a first date with some woman and a guy who looked like Mike Ditka. He was so earnest, the poor guy. One wonders how it all came out.

So we went home early, really, by 6:30 or so, but we were just exhausted. All day in the sun will do that to you. We had a great time, though, and like I said, it didn't suck.

What a wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Playing Monopoly

I can't wait 'till Friday. Oh boy.

So my boss gave a few of us an exchange day for a massive project for which we put in a bunch of time back in February. In two lousy days, well 1 1/2 now, we're using our Get Out of Jail Free cards and blowing this popcorn stand.

(How many more metaphors can I mix in one sentence?)

The plan involves drinking, eating, and boating, not necessarily in that order. Friday is supposed to be 75 and sunny. Can we say hallelujah? So lunch today was spent watching deleted scenes from The Office and making a list of who is bringing what. I've got the honey peanut butter Cheerios thingies. Yum.

On the job scene, I'm still in a bit of a holding pattern, although it's not as bad as it was. I know I have a job now, at least; the 80% thing has been officially offered. Now it's just a matter of waiting 'till they determine if it can actually be full time. About once every two days there's a new scenario; most recent one is my job remains precisely the same. One can hope.

Just a note in the You Get What You Pay For department - don't buy $3.99 wine from Trader Joe's. I love Joe's for most things, but sometimes... *whew* I need to learn how to make vinegar.

Have also been determining summer plans. Have several work things plus a trip to OH to see a friend, so there's potential for some amusement. Only wish gas prices weren't so high. Jumped about 20 cents today. Also figured out I get a lousy 20 per gallon, on a good week. WTH? Should be more than that, with my car...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Yet another work update

Holy crap, I tell you, it is Bee-you-tea-full out there. 79 degrees, sunny, a slight breeze. Just about perfect. Finally.

Big work thing yesterday that went quite well; better than pretty much all the participants thought it would. And it's over, so there's one less project for me to complete. Yay! Another big thing this weekend - a bit of a party, I suppose one could call it. Bought a dress for the event today at a new consignment shop - $16, baby. Yeah.

Side note: saw a guy today with the skyline of Minneapolis tattooed on the back of his forearm. Interesting choice.

As for work, I've been officially offered the 80% position. Unofficially, I might be full time. There's still hope. I'm a little nervous as I'm thinking that what I've been told is likely to happen won't - I suspect the person who told me what she's shooting for hasn't taken into account what other folks are likely to want. Ah well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today's amusement

OK, this is pretty funny. And yes, I sucked.

Was also fun to head to the home page and browse through the thousands of TV theme songs they have. I found M.A.S.H., Hill Street Blues, and The Office, of course, but also Antiques Roadshow, Masterpiece Theatre, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, and Nova. How many of you remember the MST3K theme song from when it was on KTMA? Yes!

I love the Internet.

I'm still sick; not so pumped about that. Better, though. Likely will be better just in time to have my projects done and finally be able to take a day off work. Ah well.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Been a while since I listed a song of the day. I guess this means I need to spend more time watching You Tube and less time whining about my life. Anyway:

Rosie Thomas: I Let Myself Fall

Sorry about the JAM mash-up vid; least of evils (I could have given you a Gilmore Girls one, after all).

Hadn't heard of Thomas before but think I really like her stuff. Check out her Myspace for more listening loveliness. So far I like all I've heard. I like "Much Farther to Go" as well.

A good song makes every part of me alert, even while my whole body relaxes.

In the And Now For Something Completely Different category: The Gipsy Kings covering Hotel California. Absolute unadulterated coolness. Talk about guitar playing.

While on that subject, check out the Rosenberg Trio and their cover of Don't Mean A Thing. Lord. Well, and Bireli Lagrene, for that matter. Here's Minor Swing with all of 'em. And yes, it is pronounced MEE-nor. Get it together, wouldja?

And, of course, the Kings themselves:

What Django does with only 2 fingers, for all practical purposes ... man.

I hate colds. That is all.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Opportunity Costs

I'm dying, here.

I haven't yet seen this evening's episode of The Office. I can't read any fanfic, can't go on any message boards, can't do anything.

Granted, the trade-off was a good one - I ended up over at K's with T and H for dinner, drinks, conversation, and a viewing of Gone Baby Gone, which I hadn't seen. Darn fine flick. Been a while since I read the book as well - the book is incredible, terribly complex and terribly hard to read. Lehane's books are just wrenching. No good really comes out in the end, for anyone. Dark. Oh, so dark. But good.

Upshot of all this is, I'm too tired and too wound from the movie to watch my tape of The Office. So to bed for me. Dangit.

Did finish applying for my own job this afternoon. So that's done.

'Kay... really need to go to bed now.

After I find those Lehane books on my shelf. Now where did they go...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More Copious Whining

So here's the latest.

Found out Tuesday, finally, that I was going to have the opportunity to apply for my own job, more or less, only at about 80% of the hours and therefore 80% of the salary. Yay!

(read that little exclamation as you will)

The application process includes such questions as what technology I'm comfortable with and uploading my resume, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Don't we already have those on file? And my address and phone as well? *sigh* So it's an awful lot of busy work. Not so thrilled. But some job is better than no job, and that's where I once was.

Rumor has it that I might get really lucky and be offered 100%. It may be different than what I'm currently doing, but again, a job is a job. As long as the checks don't bounce and my rent can be paid and I can buy cat food.

But this whole going-on-three-months-of-terrifying-uncertainty thing is getting a wee bit old. This year has been hellish enough. Let's not add to it, shall we?

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Saw Leatherheads tonight. Cute little thing. Have heard it described as George Clooney's love letter to the era and that's pretty well accurate, I think. The music is top notch - another Randy Newman score. It's beautifully lit, and has some very clever moments. And, well, George Clooney and John Krasinski? H.O.T. So that was a plus.

Also saw the trailer for the new Indy movie.
Have been more than a little dubious, I admit it. But am starting to wonder if it really won't be that bad...

Friday, May 02, 2008

More stupid work talk, etc.

Meetings all day today and the only thing I got out of it was sympathy. No solid word yet. Am pretty disgusted with the lack thereof, to tell the truth. Rather startling thing that came out at a staff meeting was that once they figure out what jobs are still left, they will be posted externally. WTF? This means we need to apply for our own jobs?!?!? We were told we'd be automatically given a position if one was available. Lovely. Just lovely. I am definitely starting to feel screwed over, and I can't say as I like it.

Been thinking more on how I can economize and what I need to live on. I hate this. I've been out of college how long now? How much hard work? How much job experience? I shouldn't have to think like this.

I'm not normally this cynical and depressing, I swear.

Today marks exactly ten years since the downfall of Lord Voldemort. That's just about the coolest thing in the universe. Yay for The Boy Who Lived.

Tonight went to a theatrical production, a company of six teen actors that wrote most of the play themselves in collaboration with a teaching artist. I was extremely impressed. For junior high kids, they were well spoken, funny, moved well, were self possessed, and just generally kicked some serious butt.

Friend of mine and I were chatting about this lovely economy and she said that the budget that she and her husband have for gas is higher than their student loan payments. Oh yeah, no, we're not in a recession.



And how on earth do you think a federal gas tax vacation will help? That'll save what, 18.4 cents per gallon? Current average is $3.48 in my area. So now I'm paying what, $3.30 at best, assuming prices don't go up even more? Ooooo..... Dude, news flash here: Cub coupons will pick that up for you.

My car has a 16.5 gallon tank. I fill up about 3 times a month. Let's do a little math, shall we?

  • 16.5 gallons x $3.48 per = $57.42 per fill up x 3 fill ups = $172.26 per month

(Jayzus. Shouldn't have done that math. The truth hurts. Yeowch.)

  • 16.5 gallons x $3.30 per = $54.45 per fill up x 3 fill ups = $163.35 per month

That makes for a grand total saved of...
(drum roll,

  • $8.91

Now, I'm simplifying the math a tad as I don't go down to empty before I fill, so I actually spend a little less on gas. And $8.91 is $8.91. But really. It's like the tax rebate. What am I going to spend it on? Bills, of course. I'm not stupid.

How is that going to stimulate the economy?

ETA: Nice article in the Minnpost about it.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Holding pattern

A few updates, in case you care:

Work thing this past weekend went exceedingly well. A good time was had by all. Much was learned, including the meaning of the terms isthmus and vibraphone. Lovely, lovely time. The boss even came to visit to specifically ask about things, which I thought was very nice of her. She does try to keep our spirits up.

Have day-long meetings tomorrow so hope to glean more gossip about the impending firings. Am currently in a holding pattern. Have gathered letters of recommendation and updated the resume. Now it's wait-and-see for another couple of weeks. Am not so pumped about doing work for next year right now - I'm basically doing work for nothing, or someone else's gain. Yay! Morale is low. Really low. But some volunteers came in over the weekend and completely redid the break room as they know how things have been. That's nice. Little things help.

Randomness for the day: OK, was wondering why I was hearing voices and didn't think it was my subconscious. Although these days that wouldn't surprise me. Turns out there's a coupla guys in the courtyard outside my office window throwing around a really cool light-up Frisbee. Nice.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

News Flash: Life Not So Bad After All

Today started crappily. Between the rain and cold, the early morning with little sleep, all the stuff I have to do, and my impending doom, I was not the happiest camper. Compounding my sorry state, The Issue got dredged up before the day was 45 minutes old and I was again explaining things with as little bitterness as I could manage to folks who didn't know the tale.

Thing is, I instantly had a good 20-25 people incensed on my behalf, to the point of bellering about starting petitions. They talked about how good I was at my job and how good I was for them specifically.

It was nice, and... well... sweet, really.

So I leave that little enclave, admittedly fairly close to teary, to go to onto my next mission of the day and I ran into my boss in the hall. We talked briefly about the big work thing I'm running over the weekend, and darned if she didn't wish me luck and give me a big hug.


Apparently I do some good in the world after all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bang on the drum all day

Today, I was at work for 13 hours straight. Yay! And much fun was had by all.

You do see the sarcastic slant of my handwriting there, don't you?

Much of the time was spent answering questions and trading rumors about the upcoming reduction in force. The place is going to look like a ripped open anthill; a third of us dead and the rest all scurrying around in an unreasoning panic. It has not been a good day.

It has not been a good few weeks. I can't focus. I wonder why. And I can't make myself plan ahead and do work for too much in advance, I mean, what's the likely hood that all my planning is for naught? Pretty darn good, I'd say.

Although it was nice to hear several people say that they were sorry, the place wouldn't be the same without me, I'm an asset, thank me for my work, etc. Silver lining. Silver lining.

This weekend will be work-filled as well. Am in charge of a fairly massive undertaking from about 6:45 Saturday morning through 'til Monday night. That too will be fun as all heck - acting peppy through all this has not been my favorite. I generally am better at focusing on other things and just letting stuff go but that hasn't been happening recently.

Need to stop brooding and get to bed. Bah. Humbug. Need to read more comics and get myself in a better mood.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Conspicuous Consumerism

I have way too many CDs.

Well, really I don't. But I do. But I don't.

I generally feel my CD collection is pitiful. Just pitiful. I have no Nepalese music in the stacks, for instance. Buddhist monks and Catholic monks chanting (2 separate disks, natch), folk music from Uganda, the Wisconsin Badger Marching Band, and the Minnesota Orchestra's recent recording of Beethoven 1, but nothing from Nepal. This may seem silly to most folks but it came back to haunt me at work today when I got caught a bit flat footed knowing nothing about music from Nepal. Long story.

(, if you must know)

Anyway, that was fairly fresh in my mind when in a fit of work avoidance this evening I decided to put my CDs in some semblance of order. Hence the "too many CDs!" "not enough CDs!" plaint. In the too many category: What a storage nightmare. Not enough shelf space so things are jammed in every which way and I can't see what I have. I ran across at least two CDs that I'd totally forgotten I own. They're sorted loosely by category, but with lack of space I can't do much more than that. ABC order might be even too anal for me, but I'm getting to that point.

But yet. No music from Nepal. One lousy CD from Australia. One! Only one CD of Japanese music as well, and it's orchestral - no folk music. I still don't own U2 Joshua Tree or Beatles Sergeant Pepper, which is a travesty. I mean, really.

CD thoughts remind me of a stand partner from long ago. Professional ensemble, but this was a young kid with much to learn. Much. OK, middle of rehearsal, swear to God:

"I have 200 CDs."

Really? Wow. Amazing. Now:


He was annoying in many ways, but I really coulda smacked him after that one.

Freakin' phone was out much of yesterday which also meant no internet; drat you Qwest.

Random thing that has nothing to do with the previous (two) rant(s): My loud upstairs neighbors reached a new low today. Beautiful out there this evening (i.e. up above 60) so I opened my patio door to let in sun and air and let the cats smell smells and see sights.

Problem is, the neighbors thought the same way. They sent their two elephants disguised as small children out to their deck just above mine to go play. Lovely.


Oh. My. God. Cats were looking at me like the world was going to come crashing in on us at any time and I was fairly certain they were right. The "BOOM BOOM BOOM" noise was familiar to me as that's the soundtrack to my life on a regular basis - I think they may be interior designers as they're continually doing something that sounds like moving furniture - but the "SQUEEEE!" is usually more muffled.

Almost makes me wish for cold weather again... but not quite...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Update for D...

...who is likely the only person who reads this.


Let's see... what's new around here? Just my typical social butterfly weekend: Am going out to dinner tonight to some new place with an old friend. That'll be fun. Tomorrow am heading to B&Cs new place for dinner and cards, not that I know where they live. Best get on that. Need to do some hard core cleaning as might have something for work at my house Monday night. Cat peed on my sweatshirt again, so I'm thinking the litter needs to be on the list.

Have big stuff for work next weekend and need to make sure I'm ready for that as well... it's one of those projects where I'm sure I've forgotten something and that's what's making me crazy - that I can't recall what I've forgotten.

Speaking of work, it's been a bit rough lately. A HUGE reduction in force is coming. My building alone is losing somewhere around 29%. I'm quite likely to be on that list. Can't say as I'm so pumped about that. Rumors are flying - got a call last night from a colleague who was pretty irate that she was told her job would be changing. Used quite colorful language. One hopes she'll be OK. One hopes we'll all be OK. But it's not going to happen. Best case scenario: I'll still be there and my job will change. Much more likely: do you want fries with that?

There's not a ton that can be done about it. We don't have as much money coming in, costs have to be cut. That's simple economics. What pisses me off is that my department seems to be getting hit the hardest. Hard to tell how much of that is perception and how much is The Truth. It's also a bit rough that I work my butt off, am good at my job, am well liked, my bosses want to keep me, but I am likely to get cut anyway. Seniority hurts sometimes.

Have been thinking on how to make economies myself. Smaller apartment, no garage, cut out internet, no home phone and just keep the cell. But I don't want to do any of that. Shop more at Goodwill and consignment, which I tend to do anyway. Car is almost paid for, which is nice. Had a haircut today - which costs and arm and two legs, every 6-8 weeks. My cosmetologist said to let her know, and she and I can talk about how we can make things cheaper. I promised her I'd never fall in with evil companions and go to Great Clips. She laughed and said she'd hunt me down if I did.

Funny how a tiny little thing like that can make me feel better.

Anyway. That's depressing. What else...

Changed my computer wallpaper to a picture of my cats. Can't "p" again. Need to replace this keyboard but am too cheap, especially now. They're changing the carpeting in the hallways of my apartment building so my whole apartment smells like glue. The cats are going to get high pretty soon, unless they are already - L is already attempting to modify my post with her attention to the mouse and the keyboard. Already deleted several sentences; yay for the inventor of "undo." Designed a card for the selling crafts stuff thing I've been toying with. Dunno how serious I am about any of this but it's an exercise. Don't like the look of them but not sure what's bugging me. They look amateurish. paper is decent; maybe it's how they're cut. Idunno.

Went to the big jugglefest last weekend and got closer to learning to juggle. That's just about the best people watching on earth. Anything that includes combat juggling and unicycle hockey is bound to be good. I even got up on a unicycle myself and with C's help managed to get at least a half turn of the wheel before I fell off. Good times. And J didn't knock himself in a particularly sensitive place so hard he fell over and curled into a fetal position, like what happened last time I went. Life is good.

Enough babbling for now, doncha think? I'd best pet the cat and distract her before things really get out of hand...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chair Model

Aaannnnddd... this is why I love The Office: episodes like tonight. Funny, romantic, sad, awkward, and pathetic, all in 22 minutes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sumer is a cumin in

Went to a tiki bar today after work and...

Got. To. Sit. Outside.

Can you believe it?! Finally. FINALLY. The weather is nice enough to actually be outside for more than 30 seconds, and without a coat, too. Granted, we did bag it and go inside within an hour or two, but still.

And I am now the proud owner of a new tiki mug, whom we have christianed Mr. Smead. He's going in my office with the naked lady swizzle stick. A profitable evening.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


The whole thing with the FAA and the airlines and things not being inspected....

"It's all sort of ironic, when you think about it. When you fly, YOU are inspected quite thoroughly, whereas the plane itself is, perhaps, occasionally vacuumed. See, with this administration, if a passenger blows up a plane, it's a 'failure in the war on terror,' but if the plane just blows up on its own, it's 'the market self-regulating.' '' - Jon Stewart

Tuesday, March 25, 2008



This woman is a lunatic and an embarrassment. I wouldn't believe this except, knowing her track record, it makes a sick kind of sense. With all the things in this world she could spend time - and taxpayer dollars - on, she chooses to fight the good fight about light bulbs. Light bulbs!

This of course begs a comment about her being a dim bulb herself, but I'll refrain.

Please, oh please, vote her out of office. Someone. Anyone.

Bachmann is pro-choice on bulbs

March 25, 2008

WASHINGTON - How many members of Congress does it take to change a light bulb? Americans may soon find out, courtesy of a contrarian piece of legislation introduced this month by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

Titled the "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act," the bill seeks to repeal the nationwide phase-out of conventional light bulbs, the kind that have been used for more than a century -- pretty much since the invention of the incandescent light bulb.

Bachmann, a first-term Republican, is challenging the nation's embrace of energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights, saying the government has no business telling consumers what kind of light bulbs they can buy.

"This is an issue of science over fads and fashions," Bachmann said in an interview Tuesday.

"Congress tends to jump on whatever the current buzz is in the 24-hour news cycle, " Bachmann said.

Her bill, the first challenge of its kind, raises safety questions about the small amounts of mercury in fluorescent lights. It also lands her squarely in the middle of the debate over global warming. In recent remarks to a gathering of Sherburne County Republicans -- reported in the West Sherburne Tribune -- Bachmann called any human connection to global warming "voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax."

"By 2012, incandescent light bulbs will be no more," Bachmann said. "Fluorescent bulbs are more polluting because of their mercury content. We are working on a light bulb bill. If the Democrats can hose up a light bulb, don't trust them with the country."

The electrical and manufacturing industries, in a rare alliance with environmentalists, portray Bachmann's mercury concerns as overblown. They argue that fluorescent lights actually reduce mercury emissions in the long run. That's because the new bulbs use so much less electricity, much of which is produced by burning coal, which emits greenhouse gases and mercury.

"That's not just the industry talking," said Mark Kohorst of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. "That's an accepted aspect of these products, and that's why they've been promoted so heavily."

Whatever one's views on global warming, Kohorst said, the energy savings of fluorescent lights are real. "The lamp thing has merit," he said. "Unfortunately, [Bachmann] has lumped it in with this whole conspiracy thing."

Environmentalists are more emphatic in downplaying the mercury hazards of fluorescent bulbs, which they say are minimal.

"There is 200 times more mercury in each filling in Congresswoman Bachmann's teeth than there is in a compact fluorescent light bulb," said Julia Bovey, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The federal government is also on board, with Congress' last energy bill, signed by President Bush in December, having mandated a phase-in to energy-saving bulbs starting in 2012.

But in a letter to congressional colleagues earlier this month, Bachmann asked for support of her legislation to reverse that mandate, unless a comptroller general report shows clear economic, health and environmental benefits from the switchover to fluorescent lights.

Her letter says that the energy bill "forces consumers and businesses to use only light bulbs chosen for them by the government" and that further study "is simple due diligence."

Mercury disposal an issue

The mercury content of fluorescent light bulbs has long been a concern of federal and state regulators. Minnesota is one of a handful of states that ban the disposal of fluorescent lights as general waste, and Xcel Energy, the state's biggest utility, actively reimburses many customers for recycling them.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) outline a series of steps that homeowners should take to clean up broken fluorescent lights: Open windows, use rubber gloves, dispose of all material in sealed bags and remove it to a hazardous waste facility.

"It's almost as if you have to call the haz-mat team out to your home," Bachmann said.

Environmentalists argue that most of the steps are the same as cleanup from any broken glass accident, except for the special disposal requirements.

Industry experts say the amount of mercury in new compact fluorescent lights -- about 5 milligrams, on average -- is small but significant enough to warrant common-sense safety precautions and consumer recycling efforts to keep it out of landfills.

"There are minuscule amounts of mercury, but it's a hazardous waste, and we want to take it seriously," said Kim Sherman, product portfolio manager at Xcel Energy.

MPCA spokesman Sam Brungardt said the use of compact fluorescent lights, which use one-fourth the energy of regular bulbs, should certainly be encouraged. If new legislation is needed, he said, it should be to encourage consumers to recycle. "You have to make it easy to do this," he said.

Growing market

With or without the help of Congress, the market for compact fluorescent lights is growing. They are now more than 20 percent of the consumer market in the United States, up from 1 percent in 2001, according to Steve Rosenstock of the Edison Electric Institute.

"These bulbs use significantly less energy, so consumers can save lots of money by switching over," said Jason Mathers of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Fluorescent bulbs, however, cost several dollars more than regular household light bulbs, a factor that Congress failed to take into account when it passed its new mandate, Bachmann said.

For her, changing a light bulb should remain a matter of personal freedom.

"I was just outraged that Congress would want to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the American people," she said. "It struck me as a massive Big Brother intrusion into our homes and our lives."

Kevin Diaz • 202-408-2753

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter to all, and to all a good night.

One of my all time favorite songs: The Vatican Rag

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Minnesota novelist Jon Hassler dies

March 20, 2008

Beloved author Jon Hassler, whose unconquerable will to write became as much admired as his novels steeped in small-town Minnesota, died early Thursday of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a Parkinson’s-like disease. He was 74.

Hassler, of Minneapolis, battled PSP for almost 15 years, a disease that progressively stole his ability to write, to speak and, finally, to walk. But, fueled by the sheer force of will and the love and support of his wife, Gretchen Kresl Hasssler, Hassler devised ways to keep at it.

A spirited problem-solver, Hassler wrote his most recent few novels by “typing.” His fingers, however, would fall randomly on the keyboard, and only he could read the resulting “gibberish.” He’d translate the typewritten pages to Gretchen, who would then retype them.

“Through all this, I loved him for his courage and his pluck,” Gretchen Hassler said. “He just kept going and going. He had a book to finish, and, by golly, he finished it, too.”

A new novel, “Jay O’Malley,” was finished in the weeks before his death.

Hassler was born March 30, 1933, to Leo Blaise (a grocer) and Ellen (a teacher), of Staples, Minn. His career path took him from schoolteacher in Melrose to a regent’s professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville.

Along the way, he published more than 15 works of fiction for adults and young adults, including “Staggerford” (1977), “The Love Hunter (1981), “Grand Opening” (1987) and “The New Woman” (2005).

He is survived by sons David Hassler (Joyce), of Alexandria, and Michael Hassler, of Brainerd; daughter Elizabeth Hassler Caughey (Lonnie), of Brainerd; stepdaughters Catherine Cich (Geoff), of Robbinsdale; Elizabeth Seymour (Chris), of Richfield; stepson Emil Kresl, of Austin, Texas. and five grandchildren.

Sarah T. Williams • 612-673-7951

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Three Hour Tour

Geez, but I'm tired.

As a civilian, I kind of like Holy Week. As a musician, I can't stand it.

Am on hour 18 since getting up. Been one of those days that you run from the minute you leave bed. Got back about an hour ago from a three hour rehearsal for the church gigs I have for the whole Triduum. Three hours. This is on top of the regular work day, plus the weekly guitar lesson. And I've been up for the past hour since I got home sorting through the music folder for the three days and trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Not my favorite.

(Side note - a blog post from my cat: 52222222222222222222222222222223)

And I have to work again tomorrow - the alarm is ringing at 5:15, same as always. So I'm going to have another glass of wine and hit the hay.

Most people like holidays. Musicians learn early on to hate December and March - or April - whenever Easter is.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

There goes the neighborhood

In oddities for today, was noodling around reading the news online and saw the headline for an article I figured I should read - two candidates vying for the Democratic endorsement for an open House seat. So one of the guys looked a little familiar... turns out he graduated from my high school. But I didn't know the name, and we were enough apart according to his age that we weren't there at the same time. So why did he look familiar? I went to his web site, read his bio, and the description of where he lives matches my area. Hm. I went back to the article. Another candidate is quoted mentioning he lives in an apartment. Double hm. I couldn't stand it. I went to Anywho.

Darned if he doesn't live in the building right across the courtyard from me.

So is this a good or a bad thing?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Welcom to Teh Holiez Bibul

This has to be fairly close to the funniest thing I've ever seen online: LOLCat Bible Translation Project

It's the entire Judeo-Christian Bible, translated into lolcat speak. Srsly. Don't read if you're easily offended.

But then, if you're easily offended, what the heck are you doing reading this blog?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Linkage a-go-go

This has got to be about one of the funniest darn websites I've seen in a long time: Garfield Minus Garfield. It takes standard Garfield comic strips and removes the title character, making for these odd existential comments on modern life. I truthfully haven't had much use for Garfield for years now, although I really liked the strip at first, but these lend a whole new meaning; make the strip entertaining again.

Ran into the site through a new favorite: MinnPost. MinnPost is a new online only newspaper that conveniently hired many of the castoffs of the local papers, the ones more-or-less forced into retirement to save money, the ones who are smart, knowledgeable, really can write. There's a fair amount of thought in the articles, which is what I like. Besides having Uncle Al, whom I have loved for years, the paper can claim John Camp, more commonly known as novelist John Sanford. Camp wrote a series of pieces from Iraq, which are quite good.

Went out tonight with T and S. Idiot me forgot until S called me; thank goodness she did. We're planning on going out once a month. As they're two of my oldest friends, I'm glad we're making the effort.

Darn tired now, though. Daylight savings or something... I just can't get it together...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Idiots in Sports

Anybody who knows me can tell you I'm no more a sports geek than I am a gamer. I grasp neither concept, really. But I did manage to run into the sports blog:

Oh my.

What's likely my favorite recent post encapsulates quite well why I don't really care for football or anything else other than baseball, really: idiots. And I quote...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This Might Be Dangerous

On a slow Sunday, Vikes' fullback Tony Richardson talks about his long-term plans:

"I don't want to move at this point in my career. I had a good meeting with the owners. I've got some gas left in the wheel and want to keep playing."

One assumes there is a corresponding tread in his tank. Both problems should be fixed post haste.

posted by Ken Tremendous # 12:56 PM