Sunday, July 31, 2005

Open Sparring - July 30 2005

Here's a couple of pictures of me participating in the Open Sparring event at the Academy of Kung Fu this past Saturday. Students from different styles of martial arts from all over the state were invited to our school to particpate.


Here I'm working with a woman named Laura, from the Academy of Kung Fu taught by Sifu Patty.

Here's a picture of my back as I fail to block in time and receive a side thrust kick. Too bad they didn't get a picture of the expression on my face. Yes, that is sweat.

In this picture, I am in the background. It was very informal and fun, and towards the end of the event, they set up rings and did some tournament sparring for points. More pictures of other participants and students I take class with can be seen at http://www.modukpai.com/photos.html.

momsicles

A few of us were talking at work the other day, at the end of a summer day, when things in the office are a little more informal than usual. My boss and his wife recently gave birth to a daughter, and he was talking about how his wife has more than enough breast milk to satisfy the baby’s needs. One woman suggested that his wife get a breast pump, and freeze the breast milk. They guy who sits next to me (not Safety Ray, but the desktop support guy on the other side of me) thought that it would be funny if my bosses wife put sticks in the frozen breast milk, and gave the baby Popsicles. We all laughed at this for a second, and another woman corrected, “Wouldn’t you then call them ‘Momsicles?”

The Lady Or The Tiger?

I highly recommend The Lady Or The Tiger?; it is a really good short story. I first read it when I was in sixth grade, and found it skimming around my literature book during the Grammar part of our English class.

I have a bad feeling about this...

Things aren’t looking good for the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery. I hear frequent updates in the news about what’s happening, and feel like the media is forcing an overly positive spin on the events that have occurred prior to and since it’s launch on July 26th. The Discovery is going to discover they’re fucked. Here’s an article I found on the web:

Discovery Shuttle Takeoff Footage Reviewed

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida – Without further delay, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off Tuesday at 10:39 a.m. EST, as scheduled. Though the liftoff was successful, videotape footage showed a piece of debris falling away from the underside of the orbiter that caused alarm,. NASA officials suspect the debris broke off from a tile near a door covering the nose landing gear. Closer inspection of the shuttle was immediately initiated. Such precautions are being taken in wake of the Columbia shuttle tragedy, in which falling debris from the shuttle during its ascent damaged the aircraft leading to its destruction upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere in February 2003. One hundred and seven ground and aircraft cameras scrutinized the lift off of the Discovery. In light of the falling debris, astronauts onboard Discovery used a 50-foot robotic arm equipped with a camera laser to examine every inch of the shuttle for surface damage. NASA will analyze the videos from the robotic arm to determine what appropriate measures to take next. NASA has recently established contingency plans for repairs to be made to spacecrafts before they return to Earth.

I italicized the last statement because I can’t even believe they haven’t thought about doing this until recently. I think the government is hot to get the shuttle back into space because they are doing more than bringing supplies to the space station, they are unloading all kinds of weird shit, and the space shuttle is damaged more then they let on, and they are removing some of the bigger equipment to prepare for an extended stay on the International Space Station.

If I am listening to AM radio throughout the day, I usually hear a news update once an hour. It seems each time they do the news, they seem overly enthusiastic about the Space Shuttle and what’s going on with it…they’ve lost some thermal tiles on the wing and the insulation is starting to come out, but they aren’t sending a rescue mission, they will go on another space walk and set up a few more satellites. Those astronauts are like Space Laborers, moving all sorts of high tech shit around and fixing things, patching up the wings on their shuttle, troubleshooting problems as they happen, because they weren’t properly addressed prior to launch (!!) and their lives depend on it.

Check http://spaceflight.nasa.gov for damage control—I mean coverage on events as they happen.

The top Discovery Space Shuttle stories for today are:

Future of US Space Shuttle Program Once Again in Doubt-- Voice of America
Nasa gives shuttle the all clear but delays its return Times Online
Nasa goofed on shuttle checks Gulf Daily


What does NASA stand for? Need Another Seven Astronauts.

I plan on paying close attention to this full freight train rolling down hill with no brakes.

yuko shimizu


This is the cover of our local alternative weekly newspaper, and I really really like the cover art. The artist who did the cover art is Yuko Shimizu, and has an awesome website with many original art pictures.

my brother's art


In addition to drawing, my brother is learning computer animation, and has the opportunity to make computer generated images for class projects. Here's the latest things he's been working on:

Billie the angry border collie

We don’t really talk to our neighbors. For the most part, we keep to ourselves. On our right, lives an angry 3-generation extended family, complete with angry, mean pets. My partner, Ric, was trimming the trees off of our roof and fixing a gutter today, and told me he had a show the entire time he worked. He heard the kids fighting and slapping each other, their mother yelling at them, calling them retards, and her mother, across the house yelling at everyone. While they were yelling, they have three dogs that get keyed up and start barking. Then other various family members yell at the pets to shut up.

This is pretty standard from our neighbors. We’ve lived next to them for over three years now, and we don’t even know their names. Once in a while we accidentally get their mail, and instead of giving it to them, we just throw it out because we don’t want to have to get to know them. Besides, 2 of their angry dogs reside in the front yard and seem intent on causing us bodily harm. Our neighbors’ property is gated, but one of the dogs, a mean border collie named Billie, has gotten out before and assaulted a guy up the street who was walking his dog.

The morning the assault happened, it was really early, probably about 5:45 AM; right before my alarm clock would have went off. I woke to Billie’s incessant barking, and after a few minutes it began to annoy me. First of all, if I am in a dead sleep, in a bedroom in the back of a house and Billie woke me up, why aren’t Billie’s owners more in tune with what’s happening? I put on my bathrobe, and went to the front door and looked out to see what was going on.

Billie was out of the yard, and across the street in on someone else’s front yard. He was barking like crazy, jumping and snarling, trying to attack a guy walking his smaller dog. The guy was holding his dog, and yelling, “HELP! HELP!” and “GET AWAY!” at Billie, who was trying to knock him down and trying to bite his arms. It was really horrible, I felt like I was witnessing one of those dog maulings you see on the 10 o’clock news. I ran into the bedroom and shook Ric awake. “Ric, Ric, get up, you have to do something, Billie’s out and attacking the guy down the street!” In the urgency, Ric responded, jumped up and grabbed a big, old, metal bicycle pump. He flew out the door and leapt across the street, wielding the bicycle pump like a sword he dove between Billie and the unsuspecting pedestrian and swung at the angry border collie. Billie raced around Ric, trying to get behind him to attack him, but Ric kept Billie engaged. “GET AWAY, NOW!” Ric yelled at the scared guy, still holding his little red dog. Instead of leaving the scene to get to safety, the guy Ric just saved started yelling at Ric, “DON’T HURT HIM” meaning Billie. Meanwhile, this guy now bore bruise marks on his forearms in the shape of Billie’s mouth. Ric ignored him, and was able to corral Billie back into his yard, and shut him inside the gate. Billie continued to stand at the gate barking at us, but it seemed that he wasn’t going to leave the yard. Ric walked back across the street to ask the guy if he was all right, and he started bitching at Ric about swinging at Billie. That conversation elevated into an verbal altercation about Billie, and ended with Ric telling the guy to go F himself. Ric came back inside, and we put the radio on and proceeded with our daily morning rituals.


I hate Billie. Whenever I am coming home from somewhere—work, shopping, errands, or if I’m doing yard work, that stupid dog stands at the fence and barks at me. Whenever we are in our back yard, the dog comes up to the fence and either barks at us or look at us all mean like. He barks at my cats a lot, but I think my cats intentionally tease him.

Last summer, our friend Fred left some spicy beef jerky over our house. This is a product that Ric and I absolutely wouldn’t eat, but instead of throwing it out, we threw it over the fence when Billie was standing there glaring at us. He scarfed it down, and went back inside as usual. Later that night, we heard the father yelling at Billie from an open window, “Godammit Billie, you stink! Get outside if you’re going to fart!”

Monday, July 25, 2005

razor conspiracy – true story

(like any of them aren’t)

I use(d) a Gillette Personal Touch Razor to fill my shaving needs. I settled for this brand of razor about four years ago, when I was unable to find refills for the one I was previously buying. I was so distraught at not finding any more cartridges for the brand I was using, I bought Gillette Personal Touch Razor refills, because I foolishly thought that different brands were interchangable. After much cursing and slicing my thumbs trying to make it work, I decided to buy the correct razor to properly match the refills I just bought. This is when I first suspected the “Razor And Personal Shaving Products Industry” had deemed my former razor obsolete.

I’ve spent many happy years using the Gillette Personal Touch Razor, and over the years, my familiarity with the razor has decreased the amount of occurrences cutting myself.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been shopping for replacement razor cartridges, mine are pretty dull and doing more damage then good. I’ve been looking for replacements in places I could commonly find them in a mere few weeks ago. I've been practically everywhere--Fred Meyers, Safeway, Target, Albertson’s, Rite-aid, and Zupan’s. No luck. Tonight, I went to Walgreen’s, and after carefully examining the razor selection, I decided to make the change.

When I finally decided on my razor purchase, I noticed that all the razors were locked onto the pegs that were holding them. I was reeling with disbelief about how expensive all the new choices were, and I felt exasperated and insulted. A sound caught my attention behind me, and I turned toward the end of the ailse to see a young man wearing a blue vest and tie unlocking some dental floss or something for an older woman. The sound of keys jingling was like a sweet symphony to my ears.

I approached him, and made my request. The young man was a manger, and while he was unlocking the razor I started venting to him. “You know,” I ranted to him while he was fumbling through about thirty keys on a ring much too small, “it’s a conspiracy. They make these razors, you buy them and use them for a while, then they slickly discontinue the line, and the consumer is forced to purchase something more expensive.” I folded my arms while I was talking to him, I must have been putting off an annoyed vibe.

“Wow, they discontinued it?” he innocently asked. What brand was it?”

I explained what brand I was looking for, and he scanned the products on the shelves (much like I did for 10 minutes), and turned to me and said, “We don’t carry that brand.”

I wanted to scream. What’s happening? Do the inventory elves sneak into the store at night; remove all of the product, shelf tags, and UPC programming code for the product you had spent years getting comfortable with?

I explained the history of the razor situation, and told him that this isn’t the first time it’s happened to me. It also happened to someone else I know, and I told him about those brands and years. Then, I started telling Alex the manager that “Razor And Personal Shaving Products Industry” probably rented convention centers, and had big conferences with PowerPoint presentations about what’s out and what’s in for that current year. I believe they attended incognito, and probably had a pseudonym name for the convention, like “Antarctic Cooking for Seven” or “The Close The January Door Show.” They probably left with all sorts of information to disseminate to their subordinates back in their own private sector of the world.

Alex quickly locked the peg my razor was hanging on, told me to have a nice day, and left. I think he was a little uncomfortable talking to me. I went to the front counter and paid for my purchases, and gave the cashier a mellower synopsis of what I was telling Alex. She agreed with my perspective, we talked about it for a few minutes, and then I left.

"Major combat operations have ended"

That's what President Bush said on May 2nd, 2003 from the deck of an aircraft carrier, when he flew in (when someone else flew him in) and he emerged from the jet wearing a flight suit.

Since that proclamation, 1782 military personnel are reported as having been killed in action. This number doesn't include the hundreds that are wounded in battle, transported to a hospital and died later. This number also doesn't include personnel who crash and die in a hum-vee, contractors (mercenaries) killed, innocent civilians killed, or other government workers killed. Another thing that I find disgusting, is it is hard to find news about what is happening in Iraq (or Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter). Most stories are buried, unless a large coordinated effort of bombing goes on somewhere.

A good place to read about the casualties in the "War on Terror" can be found at http://icasualties.org/oif/. I am going to update my links list and add this link. I think eventually, I'll separate the links into groups of related topics. This site also lists in the left hand column, all the news stories that are relevant to the entire conflict, and is updated daily, sometimes a few times a day.

Currently, there is a 20 year old National Guardsman who was declared captured in April 16th, 2005. Did anyone know that? I just found out today, after doing a little digging.

There's something really wrong with the media, and the propaganda it spews and the things it chooses to supress.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

goat rope

goat rope:

A useless, futile, or foolish activity. A waste of time directed by higher authority.

I just learned this from a friend of mine who is in the military. I have never heard of this before, and think it's funny. He is in the National Guard, and was in Iraq last year for a while. I'm glad he's not there now. He told me he was pretty nervous when he was there. I think I would be a mess.

I found that definition, and a whole alphabitized page of other military definitions at: http://www.answers.com/Military%20slang.

lunch thieves

I have to recruit at a specific location twice a week, and in my travels I pass the University and the sports fields. Every time I drive by, the University women's soccer team is practicing; I noticed that they practice in a field that is visible from the street, but closer to the school on a great field. There isn't much shade in the field; the only shade is from large oak trees bordering the field. The team puts their lunches in the grass, in the shade of the trees near the street. I've often thought that I could probably pull over and throw a bunch of igloo coolers and brown bags in to my car quicker than they could notice and get over to where I am to stop me. I imagine speeding away, and all of those tough girls chasing me down. I envision a team member pegging the soccer ball at my winshield, and I am sure I would react by driving off of tembankmentent. Asplummetett into the industrial metropolis below, brown bagged lunches, sport drinks, and igloo coolers strewn across factory roofs when my car hits a frozen food processor, and explodes. Of course, with my quick thinking I would bail before the car drives off the edge, only to get my clock cleaned by the hungry, angry,sweaty soccer team.

I used to work in a sheltered workshop of developmentally disabled adults, and some of the guys I worked with were severely disabled. The sheltered workshop primarily did basic assembly to teach work skills to disabled individuals with high needs, or job training needs. One guy I worked with, named Robert Klimehons, proved to be interesting and challenging to work with. Robert had the same birthday as me (different year, though, he was about 20 years older than me). When I first met him, the previous staff working there only told me that he makes hooting noises, and occasionally shits on the floor. I was introduced to the rest of my station, and I was responsible for working with 12 completely different individuals (including Robert) who were at a variety of functioning levels.

Robert was a lot smarter then he let on, and before long I figured out how he communicates. His main objective was to locate and eat food. He had a unique form of autism, which caused him to be outgoing, attention seeking, moody and obsessive compulsive. He was very smart, and could figure out how to open things and how to hide things. He was non-verbal, and only made noises, but each noise represented a response to something that was going on, or something he was thinking and verbalizing (like when he was figuring something out). I believe he could understand just about everything you told him, but he would play things off like he was out of it. I know this because I would trick him by saying specific directives and seeing how he responded--I would say stuff like "wow, does Rose have a chocolate cake?" and he would turn his head to where Rose is to check it out. He would also get me, and pull me over to something he wanted, such as locked cupboard he knew the snack time food was in. He had no interest in working, and earning money, and would spend 90% of the time tapping on a plastic or empty soda cup. He would occasionally shit of on the floor, but it seemed he did this when he was pissed off at another staff, if someone was watching my station or if I called in sick.

While he sat at his seat, tapping his cup, he was constantly scanning the workshop for food left unattended. He didn't care if the food was his or not, and would fight people for something especially desirable to him, such as chocolate or cheese. When he fought, he was quick, agile, and would pinch. Sometimes some of the bigger, pissed off clients would punch him. Robert had to be under constant arms-length supervision because of his food thievery. He would raid the cloakroom where some lunches were, the refrigerators for people who brought perishables, he would scavenge unfinished food from the trash, food from the floor, he would walk up to the weaker or cerebral palsy clients and take their food from them, he didn't care. He was particular about certain kinds of food, and knew who had to good lunches and who had the crappy lunches. He was aware of the right and wrong of what he did, because if he felt like staff were pursuing him, he would dive to the food goal, and put as much as he could in his mouth.



Robert's the skinny guy with the goatee. One year at the annual picnic, I saw him put a whole banana bread loaf in him mouth, then put in a whole hot dog right behind it! He looked like a snake that unhooked its jaw to eat a lame squirrel or something. It was amazing. I can't believe he didn't choke. Usually at the picnic, I would let Robert eat unlimited amounts of food. He would totally indulge and be in his glory. He would eat unlimited amounts of hot dogs, baked beans, cake, cookies, rolls, potato salad, cole slaw watermelon and soda until he sat unmoving, tranquilized and zombified. He also wouldn't steal anybody else's food.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

excerpt from "Mosquito Song" by Queens of the Stone Age


Swallow and chew
Eat you alive
All of us food
that hasn't died

Thursday, July 21, 2005

overridden by the failure of impulse control

I was taking a shower earlier, and noticed a mosquito as large as my hand (okay, IÂ’m exaggerating, as large as the palm of my hand) was on the wall, just above my head behind the showerhead.

(Let me mention that our showerhead, tub spigot and faucets are at the opposite end of the drain. It was really weird at first, and now I don't even notice).

The mosquito looked at me menacingly, the whites of his eyes rolled, and he was frothing at the beak. My impulse control failed, and I swat him into the shower stream, to swish him down the drain. Half way through this action, I felt guilty, and tried to stop, but it was too late. I frantically looked through the rapids around my ankles (our drain is a little slow), and could not see any sign of the mosquito. I started to feel really bad, and started thinking about how I took a life, and how I controlled the mosquito's fate with an early death. Then, I rationalized that the mosquito is probably already into its next life, and continued to condition my hair.

I looked at the faucet, and lo and behold, the mosquito lived! It was perched on the end of the "hot" tap handle.

It was soaked, and I thought I'd put it on the counter so it could dry off. Then, after I got out of the shower I planned on putting it outside. I went to pick it up by one of its legs, and I dropped it! I saw it swirling in the sprays of water, and quickly scooped it up. I accentually tore off a leg! I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I put the mosquito on the counter, and looked at it. It wasn't moving; it was either dead or unconscious. I felt defeated.

I finished my shower, and after I dried off, I picked up the mosquito by one of its remaining three legs. It looked like one of its wings had a tear in it (no doubt from the water pressure), and started to buzz in my hand! It may have been having a seizure, but at least it was alive. I felt elated, as if I had just brought someone back from the dead.

I decided to put the mosquito outside, in one of the smaller plants we have growing in the back yard. I figured it could heal, or whatever mosquitoes do. I'm sure there are thousands of near misses and maimings every day.

On the way to the plant (it was at the rear of the yard), I noticed a very large and elaborate spider web, spanning across the path I was taking. I couldn't resist, and my lack of impulse control forced me to throw the mosquito into the web, where it fought to escape. A big fat spider ran over to the mosquito, and swiftly bundled it up. The mosquito stopped moving, and the spider started fixing the holes made in the web by the flailing tri-legged mosquito.

while we're at war...

Six Flags Over Georgia

Fred was over again the other night, and was telling me about the first and last time he picked up a hitchhiker. Apparently, he lived in Texas at the time, and picked up Joe the hitchhiker just outside of Waco. I’ve never felt the need to pick up a hitchhiker, and I asked Fred if he felt apprehensive or was worried this guy was a freak. “No,” Fred replied, “he was the most boring person in the world. He didn’t even want to share the driving responsibility!” Fred was traveling to Alabama to stay with relatives for 5 days, and dropped Joe off in Alabama. At the end of Fred’s visit, he decided to go to South Carolina to visit other relatives. As soon as he hit the highway on ramp, Joe was standing on the ramp, thumbing for a ride. Fred said he felt so guilty he offered him another ride.

Six hours later, Fred remembers thinking “What the f did I pick him up for?” He wanted to get rid of Joe, but couldn’t think of how. He stopped at rest stops and ate his meals alone, and when he would exit the motorist and trucker’s electric wonderland pavilion, Joe would be waiting by Fred’s car. Finally, while Fred was driving, he saw a sign for Six Flags Over Georgia. “Hey, look buddy,” Fred told Joe, “I’m going to Six Flags. I don’t care what you do.” Fred pulled into the parking lot, he and Joe got out of his car, and Fred entered the theme park. He spent all day there, riding all the rides, eating lots of fun park fare, and at the end of a long day, he returned to his car and Joe was gone. Fred didn’t intend on going to Six Flags, but after he did he decided he had a lot of fun.

flying ant mutants

The quirky things in this house drive me crazy. Some of the quirks are creepy, like many bugs of different varitey co-existing and taking over our house. Some things are just annoying, like the kitchen sink that can only be turned on by the valve underneath. The mold is pretty annoying, too. The damp basement is annoying because the couch feels like a giant sponge. I always forget, and we plop down to watch TV once in a while. Then we have a conversation about observing how damp the couch feels, and theories on why that occurs. The basement isn't such a big deal, though, I realize that all basements have a certain degree of mustiness.

I have my work area in the basement, but share space with thousands of spiders, and there's a nest of flying ant-ish termite wood-burrowing insect mutants. The lighting is poor in the basement, so I have a few large floodlights I use when I'm working. These flying ant things are attracted to the light, and they fly into the light, get overwhelmed, and bonce off of the metal shade the bulb is plugged into. and while I"m working I hear the gentle ping...ping..........ping.ping................ping......pinging while I'm working. At first, I thought it was annoying, and I had a hard time with bugs, so I'd swat them to the floor and stomp on them. (I try to refrain from killing bugs whenever possible, but the gross ones override my impulse control). No matter how many I killed, there would always be 3-5 of them hovering around. So I gave in, and we co-exist.

The flying ant mutants also have burrowed their nest in the wood of the house, above the washer/dryer and below the main floor bathroom. Apparently when these mutants burrow, they bite and chew the wood, and push it out behind them at the entry of their lair. Unforturnately, the human items below the lair entrance is our washing machine. Before we do a load of laundry, we have to brush off the top of the washer. Sometimes my partner or I will vacuum the lair entrance. I don't know if we are helping or harming the flying ants, they have been so busy developing and expanding I don't really care.

The ant mutants also make appearances in the bathroom. Specifically, on the shower fixtures and in the tub. On hot days, you can find a couple of flying ant mutants walking along the "hot" and "cold" fixtures, or on the floor of the tub. It seems they are accessing the bathroom via a crack next to the spigot for the bathtub. Usually my cats patrol this area, and eat whatever insects they find.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

ceiling fan paranoia

I’m sure I share this paranoia with many people. It’s been pretty warm out lately. It’s not too bad in the morning or around noon, but by mid-day, the temperature starts rising. By sun down, it is pretty balmy and muggy indoors, even with fans running. We’ve tried living and functioning from the basement during warm days in the past, but it is really damp and musty down there, kind of dungeon like, except with christmas lights. The only way we are able to get a semi-restful sleep is to turn the ceiling fan on at night. I suppose it circulates the hot air accumulated during the day, but a hot breeze is better than stifling stillness. Every hot night, my partner dozes soundly, skin cool to the touch and a look of peace on his face. I lay wide-eyed for an eternity, clutching my sheet, aware of the hum on the spinning pendulum above my head. I expect that as soon as I fall asleep, the vibrations from the spinning fan will loosen the screws holding it onto the ceiling. As a result, gravity will take its natural course, and I will experience an untimely demise, either seriously injured, or killed.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Daniel walks in 10 til 5

Towards the end of the work day, a guy named Daniel walked into the office, and wanted to apply for any open positions we had. To apply for any of our positions, an applicant needs to make an appointment to attend an orientation, and part of my job is talking to some of these people and setting the appointment. Using this screening process, we talk to applicants to ensure some basic requirements could be met: the person can independently travel and work, they are at least 18 years old, the are willing to submit to and pass a drug test, and can pass a criminal background check, which screens out anyone who has had a person-to-person or theft conviction in the past seven years.

I met with Daniel and he jumped right up and shook my hand. He introduced himself, and called me ma’am. I introduced myself, and we started to talk. He wasn’t clear about what kind of place of business we were; I explained this company was a temporary staffing service that specializes in placing someone with a disability, or someone who’s gone through alcohol or drug recovery (recovery is considered a disability). Anyone can apply, but people with a disability get placed in positions first. He thought we provided work experience to recently released convicts and he started to tell me that he was having a real hard time getting a job. While he was talking, he had a hard time looking at me, and he would look all around the table between us. He started by apologizing for being sweaty, and told me that it was hotter then he thought it would be, and he had rode a bicycle across town to apply for work. I think today was the hottest day of the year so far, so far, a stifling 95 degrees. I didn’t even notice that he was sweaty, and told him it was no problem, I couldn’t tell.

Daniel looked like he put great care into his appearance: He was wearing heavier pressed khaki pants, nice clean black work boots, a black button-down long sleeve shirt, and was wearing a clean (but strange, because he's never worked there) UPS hat, and had three different man rings on: a silver knot design, a silver skull head, and a different silver skull with a dagger in its mouth and a snake through its eye sockets. His hair was long, thick and curly, and hung to the middle of his back. He wore a trimmed beard, with 5 o’clock shadow on his cheeks. He had some tattoos that weren’t clearly visible on his neck, and wore a couple of earrings in each ear.

While I was making these observations, Daniel was telling me his story, and how he ended up at the office. He was nervous, and apologized for being short with the receptionist (I don’t think she even noticed). He told me he had been in prison since 1987, and this is the longest he’s been out of prison (seven months). He was having a hard time getting a job, because he didn’t really have work history; he just has a prison record. He said he had to quit his last job because he got it through his friend’s dad, and he was getting paid under the table. Daniel’s parole officer had a problem with that, and told Daniel he had to be legit. Daniel said the job before that, he had to quit because he was an addict and was getting loaded on the job. So he started going to NA meetings and his counselor recommended he quit that job. He heard from a friend of his that our company could help him, so he got himself together, hopped on his bike, and rode across town.

After talking with Daniel for a while, I inquired about his addiction problem and criminal background. I found out that he is eligible for the hiring preference with his recovery situation, and ineligible for employment because of a burglary charge in 2002. I explained this to him, and he seemed really let down. I thought I sort of saw his eyes water up. I wish we could have hired him.

I didn’t want to send Daniel away despondent and shot down, so I started talking to him about how his employment search was going and asked him what resources he’s tapped into to help him. It turns out he hasn’t done too much and had to leave the paid under the table job last week, so he’s just started. He said he had been out all day and can tell employers aren't interested in hiring him. He told me that he wanted to be up front and honest about his background to the people he applied with, and instead, he and his situation turned people off. He identified that he had a problem making eye contact with people, no resume, no work history, and was riding a bike around town. He told me that he was having a hard time being free, and felt much more comfortable and accepted in prison.

I’ve talked to many people that were in prison, and the way I understand it, while you are in there you have opportunities to learn and do something, and are required to do a certain amount of work, which equates to skills and experience that would be needed to do jobs inside and outside of prison. I started asking him about things he did while he was in prison, and in addition to meal and menu planning for a couple hundred men, he learned auto body repair and had to perform various janitorial duties, including floor waxing. I explained to him that this is experience he can use to pursue employment.

I got Daniel some resources, and wrote a few names and numbers down on sticky notes for him to follow up on. One if for his local One-Stop, a federally funded program to help people get to work with resume and interviewing classes, basic computer classes and self-paced tutorials, job searching, use of fax machines, phones, message mailboxes, and people to refer you to other things you may need like utility assistance, food stamps, rental assistance, etc. I also gave him a info for a non-profit organization that helps people individually find jobs, and information about an organization that helps people with criminal backgrounds find and retain employment. I told him that he has different recovery options, and the degrees of support they can provide for people (and gave him a few names and numbers there, too). He thanked me, and that was the end of our meeting. I showed him out (well, to the restroom in the lobby, because he had to use it), and I told him not to get overheated riding back. I was now about 96 and climbing. He told me he was going to take a bus back.

message received while I was on the other line

Uh yes my name is goaisgnoai spdfijsdpfasd** and I’m calling aobut your warehouse forklift yob I has supposed to have unemployment department and I’m willing to work with you guys or you guys can send me an application that would be great. Directions to come into fill the application up otherwise call [number omitted] and I would like to have directions to come in for the application. Have a nice day and I hope you guys call me soon.

**I actually couldn't understand what he said his name was but that's what it sounded like.

my brother's truck

My brother drives a 96 Ford Ranger. That vehicle has been through hell and back, and across the country twice. It seems like a very reliable, sturdy truck, capable of handling all of the abuse my less-than mechanically inclined brother can dole out. He lived here for a while, and I would borrow his truck if I had to make large or many purchases. I’m not sure what really has been replaced on the truck, I suspect the clutch has been replaced, and the brakes worked on, but for the most part, like most vehicles, functions with some quirks.

One of these largely annoying quirks is the “door is open” notification. It is an ear piercing high pitched “BOING…BOING….BOING…BOING….” over and over again. Apparently, a deer ran into his truck late one night when he was driving down a rural Georgia back road. The deer, unharmed, sat stunned for a moment after slamming into the driver side door, got up, and bolted away. My brother didn’t even get his identification (deer waving hoof…”we don’t need to see your identification”…). After the deer departed, my brother was left with a big dent in his door, and his open door notification chimed, regardless if the door was open or not.

Fast forward to a few years ago, my brother pulled into my town, and recounted the incident which led to the mechanical annoyance. It seems that the notification would intermittently stop, until you started the car up next, and there was no telling which combinations of events caused the electric glitch to function properly. Believe me, we tried everything: opening and shutting the door several times, turning the lights, windshield wipers and radio on and off, jiggling the key…nothing seemed to work. My brother’s solution was to pull the fuse that controlled the notification out. That seemed to solve the problem, except in addition to stopping the open door notification, the fuse controlled the speedometer, windshield wipers (and we live in a spontaneously rainy environment) and indoor dome light (a real inconvenience at night). When I drove his truck, I would keep the fuse in, but the maddening BOING would drive itself into my skull, and no matter how loud you would turn up the radio, it wasn’t enough to drown out the BOING. I’m surprised my brother didn’t have more occurrences of road rage.

Other “quirks:”

--When you use the stick shift, the knob would fly off, under the driver’s seat, into the netherworld.

--The detachable radio face would not attach fully, and whenever you go over a bump, it would drop off, under the driver’s seat into the netherworld with the stick shift knob.

--The A/C only blew moldy hot air at you.

--The turn signal fuses would blow out, but when you used it inside the vehicle, it would make the “ticktickticktick” noise as if it was operating properly.

--The topper on the back of the truck didn’t lock—I think my brother lost the key or broke the lock (or both). Usually if he had personal items in the back, and was parking in a questionalble neighborhood, he would fake like he was locking it. So far, that's worked well (that I know of).

Perhaps the key to the topper is in the netherworld with my socks, the stick shift knob and the detachable radio face.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Mr. Pec

There’s this guy who has his own business: a fitness center and he’s a personal fitness instructor, and he lives on a route my partner and I frequently travel on when we are on our bikes. His name is Bill Pec, and he drives a new silver bug with a magnetic business sign on the door. His license plate says “Mr Pec,” and during the summer when we ride by, he can be seen in his yard strutting around in his Speedo, all greased up. We think it’s funny to yell “HEY, MR. PEC!” and book away as fast as we can ride. We’ve been doing this for about 5 years now. It never ceases to be funny.

fun park fun with faux superheroes

Isn’t it funny, the things you remember? I have a memory from when I was about 4 or so, I was very young and I don’t remember having a brother yet. He may have been too little to go and was with a relative while we were out. I remember being with my mother and father at Great Adventure, and I remember leaving and feeling disappointed that I didn’t meet any of the theme park characters that walk around. I think at the time, they didn’t have the Looney Tunes theme going on yet, so it was just Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, Superman, and other comic book heroes. As we were leaving after an exhausting day, and just exited the turnstiles, I remember a weird guy partially climbing up a flag pole at the entrance of the park. I think he was pretty strong and muscle-bound, and flexing his pecs. My parents were trying to convince me that he was a superhero, and were encouraging me to go over to him and say hello. I clearly remember being skeptical, because this was a guy in sweatpants and a tank top. I was really into Wonder Woman, and I think that I knew the other general superheroes, and could be persuaded to accept some of the more obscure superheroes if they were wearing a costume, mask, cape, utility belt or had a sidekick or weapon of some sort. Not being able to identify what I was feeling then, I went along with what my parents kept suggesting--to go over and touch his muscles while he was flexing. Looking back, I was feeling disbelief and weirdness about this faux superhero. My rationale was that if he really was a superhero, he’d be inside the fun park, not hanging off of a flag pole at the entrance.

gift horse

I received a small digital clock as a gift from a company that I recruit employees through, and I’ve set it to the correct time twice now. I just glanced at it, and noticed it has said 2:17 all day. I think it’s safe to assume it’s not working properly. Additionally, the batteries for the light on my keychain-letter opener-pen light wore out. Luckily, the letter opener part works without the battery.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

close call

I almost got a ticket yesterday. I haven’t gotten a ticket in about 13 years, but that’s a whole different story. I left for work in the morning, after unsuccessfully ransacking my house for my wallet, containing my driver’s license, debit card and money. As my frustration level and anxiety increased, my partner, who leaves later for work, reassured me that it has to be around here somewhere, and he would continue looking for it so I wouldn’t be late to work. I was uncomfortable leaving without my wallet, but time was of the essence, and I had to leave.

I drive a smaller car, especially in comparison to the increase in SUV and other large automobiles that dominate the roads. I was in a left-turn lane, at a busy intersection, and as the procession of cars began to turn through the light, I was unaware that the light had changed back to red two cars ahead of me. Half way through the intersection, I noticed the red arrow while in the middle of the intersection, and a cop car in the oncoming traffic right lane staring right at me. Having no choice, I completed the turn, which promoted him to turn on his lights. Crap. I pulled over, the whole world bottlenecking and ogling past my car to see what was going on, while I rolled down the window and quickly changed the radio from Howard Stern to NPR (and significantly lowered it, too).

The police officer walked up to my window, and I greeted him: “hello, sir,” I tried to cheerily say.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” Of course I know. I at least have a general idea. I observed Officer William something-or-other, and he was an older guy; I bet he has a daughter my age. He seemed nice.

“Yes, sir, I do, and I understand I was wrong.”

“You realize I could have pulled over two cars in front of you, too. Can I get your proof of insurance and driver’s license?”

Panic. Flee! Escape! I handed him my insurance card, and feigned looking for my driver’s license, which was now either in the phantom zone or the dryer-sock dimension. “Sir, I must have left my license at home, I can’t find it. I have an electric bill and my library card, will that help?”

Officer William looked at me from over his standard issue cop sunglasses. “Young lady, do you have a driver’s license?” He looked accusingly at me.

“Why yes, sir, I do, definitely, and there’s no tickets or accidents on my record.” Not in the last 13 years, and prior to that I had 11 tickets and 6 accidents under my belt. He asked me for my date of birth, and told me to sit tight as he went back to his cruiser (with those annoying lights still on) and looked into my background. I started to rummage through my personal belongings in my car (you wouldn’t believe what I tote around with me on a daily basis, my car is an extension of my closet), hoping to find my licence. I was about to give up, and looked down in desperation, and noticed between the seat and the center console was a faint black outline of a rectangular….WALLET! I found it! I was so happy, I wanted to get out of the car and give it to Officer William (but didn’t want to get shot so I stayed in my car, I’m no fool, I watch COPS). When the officer came back over, I went to hand him my license but he told me to hold onto it. He gave back my insurance card, and started lecturing me about traffic safety and the possible consequences of my actions. He concluded with “I don’t like to give out tickets, so here’s a warning.”

I was so relieved I could have hugged him (definitely not appropriate). I thanked him profusely, told him to have a nice day, and still made it to work on time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

a note about Lightnin' Loops

Unfortunately, Lightnin' Loops closed in 1993. Here's some stats about the single loop coaster:

Type: Defunct

Manufacturer: Arrow


First Season: 1978


Height: 56 ft. / 17.1 m


FirstDrop: 47 ft. / 14.3 m


Speed: 45 mph / 72.4 m


Track Length: 635 ft./ 193.5 m


Vehicles: 1


Riders Per Vehicle: 24


Ride Time: 1:06


Inversions: 2


Notes: Interlocking shuttle loops. Moved in 1993, one half to Frontier City as Diamond Back, other half to SFA as Python (defunct).


Click here to read about the tradgedy that occured on this coaster.

more fun park fun

When I was a kid my parents would occasionally take my brother and I to Six Flags Great Adventure. Whenever this happened, it was a special occasion, my father really likes fun parks, not so much for the rides, but for everything it represents and all the attractions: the movies, simulators, restaurants, music, and bars. Now that I’m over 21 my father and I can go to a bar and it’s fun. Of course he drinks me under the table, but that’s okay. The last time I visited him we went to Universal Studios in California, and to his hangout, a restaurant/bar called “Eric’s.” I ate some very delicious food, drank some incredible wine (it was called Benziger, and I chose it because that was the name of the street my father grew up on), had a lot of fun, and proceeded to get inebriated beyond all recognition. I remember there were many rowdy Lakers fans watching a game around me, and I was yelling along with them and I had no idea why they were yelling.

Back to Six Flags, I remember when I was about 10, I was sitting at the kitchen table for breakfast (a bowl of raisins n' spice oatmeal), getting ready to go to school, when my dad asked my brother and I (my brother is about 4 years younger than me) if we wanted to go to Great Adventure. We would excitedly query “really?” and he would answer, “nah, that’s okay,” or "Oh, Great Adventure called and they're closed today," and other similar statements. This conversation would continue for a few more minutes, then he would give in: “Okay, we’ll go.” I don’t know if this was an unspoken mandatory family ritual, but before we could enter the fun park part of Great Adventure, we would go on the drive through safari. All through this safari that seemed to last hours, each section of animals had a series of gates that opened and closed. I suppose this was so the gazelles didn’t jump into lion territory or any other predator related havoc would go on.

Throughout the safari, there were signs posted that stated “Please do not feed the animals.” My father would blatantly disregard this warning, and as soon as we entered the ape and monkey section, he would roll down the window of the car and throw cookies at the monkeys. They would run from the cookies, then run back to the cookies, and slap fight and scream at each other for the delicious prize. The whole time my mother would repeat in a chant, “Oh, Barry, stop it, just stop it.” My brother and I would laugh, but somewhere deep inside I felt that toying with nature and wild animals could only lead to disaster. My father, ignoring this feeling, wanted to get even up closer and more personal with the monkeys, so he put a cookie on the roof. A few of the little monkeys started to run over to our car (which was moving about 5 mph), when out of the brush a giant ape with a naked butt ran to the car, sat on the hood right in front of the driver’s side of the windshield and devoured the cookie. We rolled up the windows as fast as the hand cranks would go, elation turning to anxiety at the close up view of the ape. When the ape was finished, he just sat there, preventing my father from seeing the road and driving. He started to beep the horn and run the wipers, but the ape just sat there, now visibly annoyed. He hissed or bared his teeth at us, I’m not sure what was going on but it scared the crap out of me. I didn’t think monkeys were fun anymore, and just wanted to ride Lightnin’ Loops.


My mother began to nervously navigate directions to my increasingly exasperated father, and after about 5 minutes the ape got up and moved to the roof of the car. This was my father’s cue to speed up, and the ape began banging on the roof of the car with what sounded like both fists. Next, a stream of yellow pee cascaded down the windshield, and the ape jumped off and ran back into the brush. We finished the safari quickly, and proceeded to the parking area for the amusement park. My brother and I didn’t want to get out of the car on my father’s side because we were freaked out we’d get ape pee on us. After we had all exited the brown 1978 Buick Skylark, we noticed a steaming pile of ape shit on the roof of the car, a little runny in spots from him peeing on it. I don’t remember much else about the ape, or how the shit was cleaned off. I think my father went back while we were on line for the carousel and cleaned it with napkins from the ice cream stall.

Monday, July 11, 2005

STOP THE RIDE!

When I was about 16 and fearlessly eating everything, I had a bad experience at the Florida State Fair on the Pirate Ship ride. We’ve all been on variations of the Pirate Ship— you know the boat that swings back and fourth, sometimes they’ll go in a complete upside down 360s. This Pirate Ship ride just went back and fourth (no 360s). A group of my friends and I were at the fair and thought we’d give this ride a try, and as a roller coaster and fun park veteran, I didn’t foresee the disaster about to unfold and empty itself all over several innocent fair goers.

After a busy afternoon of eating 2 cotton candy spools, a hot dog, a greasy slice of pizza (strangely similar to school lunch pizza), several strings of red licorice, an elephant ear, and a few cans of soda, I sat in the second to the last row with my date, Eric, and the lap bar closed over us. The carney who was running the ride was missing a few teeth, covered in bleary blurry tattoos in greens and blacks that faded to navy blue, and was complete with a sleeveless holey faded black t-shirt (wife beater), a mullet, and a belt buckle the size of a coffee saucer. The t-shirt depicted a skeleton riding a motorcycle, holding a large confederate flag (someone tell them that the war has been over). Reflecting on this incident in present day, I wonder if there is a mandatory uniform for carneys. I envision the interview going badly-“I’m sorry, Mr. Smith, you’re just too clean cut for this job. Come back when you’ve lost a few more teeth. And get that suit off if you ever plan to set foot in my trailer again!”


The Pirate Ship began to lurch forward and back, and REO Speedwagon’s greatest hits began to churn out of giant amplifiers strategically placed so conversation was impossible. After a few passes back and fourth, I felt a lurching of motion sickness in my stomach, and the contents of my stomach began to roil and feel heavy. My date looked at me and asked, “Are you going to be sick?” I opened my mouth to answer, and only a shower of technicolored vomit came out. Eric was covered, and panicked, frantically shouting “STOP THE RIDE!” waving his stubby arms wildly to the carney operating the ride. The carney, drunk, stoned, mentally deficient or otherwise, didn’t acknowledge what was happening, and Eric instructed me to puke over the side of the swinging ship. I leaned over the side, and saw a snaking line of people, all waiting to get on the Pirate Ship, and threw up. The tiny ant-like people all scattered, and I could hear muted yells in horror as realization of what the putrid fluid raining down upon them was. Eric was still waving wildly to the carney, yelling at him every time we made a pass over the base of the ride, and the carney looked up, and replied with enthusiasm, “HELL, YEAH!” and it seemed he cranked the ride up for two turns in one, which normally I’d be psyched about if I wasn’t so busy throwing up. While all this was happening, there were four or five women sitting behind me, wearing heavy amounts of hair product and perfume baking in the Florida sun. The smell wasn’t doing anything to combat the queasiness, and they began to obnoxiously tap me on the shoulder, shouting in my ear, “GIRL, YOU PUKIN?” I turned around to explain the situation (while the boat was swinging back and fourth…I don’t know what I was thinking) and ended up heaving the remainder of my stomach all over them. At that point, they were screaming bloody murder, a chant of “STOP THE RIDE, STOP THE RIDE!” but being from the south, it sounded like “STAHP THA RHADE.”

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Sail-boats at Les Saintes-Maries"


I got this print at an estate sale for 10 cents.

11:34

I found my book of lists. I put it in such a safe place I was unable to find it; the obvious is sometimes the hardest to see. Right after I laid my head down on my pillow last night, I had an epiphany, and remembered where the book was. It’s actually a pad of graph paper on one side, and college ruled on the other side of each sheet. I’m mostly writing on the graph side now, but when that fills up I’ll probably flip the pad over and write on the college ruled side.

Did you ever notice that if you look at a digital clock, when it’s 11:34, upside down it spells “hell”? I first noticed that when I was pretty young, definitely in elementary school, when digital clocks were the rage and I just replaced my soft-orange light illuminated flip-number clock radio with a digital clock. I would lay in bed, unable to get to sleep, and watch the moments pass by. Since then and forever after, if I am awake at night unable to embrace the soft cobweb of sleep, I notice when it is 11:34, and I wonder if anyone else is laying awake, looking at their red stick number display thinking the same thing.

I also notice when it is 11:34 during the day, whether I’m at work or at home. When I was younger, I would theorize during that 60-second duration when it is 11:34, could sinister activities take place, like hell-fire and crimson bursting through unholy gates, and mutants spilling into and camouflaging themselves within human population. At 11:35, all activity would silence and cease, and everything would be “normal” until the next 11:34. I thought if you listened really closely you could hear the screams and roars of the underworld.


I feel I still occasionally notice when it is 11:34, but have come to understand that we exist in the underworld, sinister activities happen around the clock, and the screams and roars are our own voices. The mutants run rampant.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

misplaced, but it couldn't have gone far.

I lost my book of lists. I like to keep a book of lists with me, I have a couple that are a couple of different sizes, and write all sorts of things down--something that inspires me, things I absolutely have to remember to get from the store, things I have to remember about work, phone numbers, design ideas, letter drafts--anything that I think needs to be written out. I remember using it earlier today, and checking a list and adjusting a binder clip, but can’t seem to find it. Which causes me to try to remember what I may have jotted down there.

I know I have a list in my car, on the back of a google map on my visor, with a pen. I think I remember what I wrote there, something about a fat guy I saw one day while I was driving downtown in that annoying small city downtown traffic, and this fat guy in a sweater vest with no shirt underneath (bare arms-wife beater look) and his cheeks were stained rosy red, and a damp ring around his face and neck made his short hair look spiky. He was on a mountain bike, in the smallest ringed gear, pedaling like a maniac down the middle of the street holding up all the traffic. He was just out of sync with the red lights that adorned each block intersection as far as the eye can see, and he would race up to the next one, just to slow down and unsteadily put his feet down to completely stop, when the light would turn green, and he would heave himself onto his bike and race to the next block intersection. The whole time I’m in neutral or second, tapping my brakes so I don’t mow down the cars around me. Fortunately for the bike rider, the direction he/we were traveling was going downhill slightly. I followed him to the north, through the southwest side of town into the northwest side. He turned off somewhere in our little 2-block by 6-block Chinatown, and I passed him, thinking he seemed pretty overdressed for his commute. I continued forward onto a bridge that brought me across the river to the northeast side of town.

I know there's more on the back of that google map on my visor. I can't seem to remember what else at the moment...most likely phone numbers for apartments or duplexes for rent that I passed while driving around, and probably other observations about people and their habits in traffic.

Exceprts from "Practical Vegan Chef"

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake

This is a basic vegan chocolate cake recipe. For an optional treat, mix in ½ cup to 1 cup of coconut, chocolate or carob chips, chopped walnuts, pecans, raisins, or dried fruit.

You will need:

1 ½ cups unsifted whole-wheat flower (organic if possible)
1 cup turbandio sugar or stevia sweetener
3 tablespoons of unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ c. vegetable oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of cold water or plain soymilk


Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Next, mix in the oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Then pour the cup of water or soy milk in. Pour in an ungreased 8 x 8, or 9x9 pan, a loaf pan, or cupcake molds. Bake at 350° for the following amount of time:


8x8 pan: 25 minutes
9x9 pan: 25 minutes
Loaf pan: 50 minutes
Cupcake molds: 30 minutes

The above times are recommendations. As always, check your cake often. Different ovens heat to different temperatures and rates, as well as a possibility for uneven heating.

For a delicious topping, try the vegan chocolate or vanilla frostings, or fresh strawberry or raspberry preserves.

Vegan Frostings

Here are some quick and delicious frostings. The chocolate is for the serious chocolate lover only. Fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate chips or whatever else you can imagine can be added to the vanilla frosting. A hand mixer will make blending the frosting much easier, be careful not to blend for too long or the frosting consistency will change to a oozing mess.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

1 stick (1/2 c.) of soybean margarine,
cold from the fridge
2/3 c. Cocoa Powder
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. soymilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Vegan Vanilla Frosting


1 stick (1/2 c.) of soybean margarine,
cold from the fridge
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. soymilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon, until roughly incorporated. Use a wire whisk or hand mixer to blend, until there are no lumps. Frost cake, and for best results refrigerate for an hour before serving. Promptly refrigerate unused portion.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

This is good on a carrot or spice cake. I prefer the taste and texture of Tofutti non-dairy products such as the Cream Cheese or Sour Cream. I find that it incorporates deliciously well into recipes.

8 oz. Tofutti Cream Cheese
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. soymilk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. shredded carrot
¼ c. chopped walnuts or pecans


Mix all ingredients except carrots and nuts with a wooden spoon, until roughly incorporated. Use a wire whisk or hand mixer to blend, until there are no lumps. Fold in carrots and walnuts, and ice cake immediately.


**This is an excerpt from the fourth coming book by H. Nicole Salek, "Pratical Vegan Chef." The book will consist of mostly vegan recipes, showing the average consumer being healthy and health conscious is fun and easy. Eating good and cooking for yourself shouldn't be a hassle. If you get the right food and use the right tools, you'll never go back to processed crap again.

$31.00

While I was running errands in my car yesterday evening, I noticed that I was pretty low on gas. I pulled into the next Arco gas station, and asked the attendant to fill the tank. I became preoccupied with organizing CDs in my car, and listening to"Songs for the Deaf" when the lever on the nozzle clicked, indicating that the tank was full. I looked at the pump display to see how much my total was, but was unable to read the LED display from where I was parked and sitting. The fresh-faced young attendant came over and informed me that my total was $31.00. Absently, I handed him a $20 dollar bill. He looked at me, hand still open with my $20 in it, and repeated the total. A wave of panic rose in me, was I short on cash? "Do you accept debit cards?" I hopefully asked. "No," the increasingly impatient and annoyed young man replied, "cash only." My mind raced. What could I do? In the next timeless few seconds, I began to formulate a contingency plan: I could leave him my license and run to the ATM, or I could give the attendant collateral...what did I have in my car that was of value? A Thompson guide? My work shoes? A few 10 x 10 squares of stained glass? Other motorists were lining up behind me, it was apparent I was the bottleneck in the smooth efficiency of re-fueling on the eve of the weekend. In desperation, I looked down into my hands, resting on my lap with my wallet open. My eyes could not believe the incredulous sight: I was holding two 5-dollar bills, and a single. "Ha ha!" I exclaimed, " I have exact change!" Estatically, I handed the remainder of my tab over. I started up the car, and headed off onto other adventures. In my rear view mirror, the attendant remained standing there, shaking his head, clutching my payment as the next customer pulled up to the pump.

Friday, July 08, 2005

basically

basically I feel like lately I'm saying basically too much. I've come up with a list of words from the Word thesaurus that can be used as substitutions:
  • On the whole
  • essentially
  • in essence
  • fundamentally
  • principally
  • mostly
  • chiefly
  • mainly
  • Really
  • In the end
  • When you come right down to it
  • All in all
  • When all's said and done
  • Ultimately

I don't know how I feel about using those, I'll intermittently try alternatives throughout the day and see how it pans out.

In the course of my personal continuous improvement process, I spent a great deal of time yesterday doing arm and shoulder related exercises. As a result, my arms are so weak, I can't hold a cup of tea without shaking as if a Tyrannosaurus was running down the street past our office. I was putting a spoon of sugar (dehydrated cane juice) into my tea to sweeten it up a bit and my shaky arms shook sugar granules all over the place, into the open personnel files on my desk, into my keyboard, under my mouse pad (??) my crappy non-optical mouse has rolled over sugar granules and sucked them into the inside of the workings, stuck to the bottom of my forearms and palms, and in my hair. Amazing.

Happy 8th of July! My neighbors haven't exhausted their supply of firework contraband yet.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

So long, Mr. Stone

Friend and impromptu sparring partner, David pictured here earlier this year. He's one of the funniest people I have ever worked with, and can't even begin to fill you in on the mischief he's directly and indirectly responsible for. Mischief aside, David does an awesome job and left our company to work with homeless and transitional youth. David studies Japanese Ninjitsu, and has a nice array of equipment I recently got to try out.

Pictured here I was taking a timed typing test, just to see where my proficiency was at, and David came over and was randomly hitting keys on the keyboard.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

tasty stuff - subject to change without notice

  • Panang Curry with chicken
  • Katamala Olives
  • Sushi (except the weird fish egg or eel stuff)
  • Nectarines
  • Tamari Seaweed Cakes with Sundried Tomato Hummus
  • Apple or Marionberry Empanatas
  • Fuji Apples
  • Jasmine Tea

(not all at one sitting).


everyone's a comedian

I presented at a particularly rowdy group of men in recovery today. I introduced myself, and a hand shot up from a guy wearing a Harley Davidson t-shirt turned into a home made wife beater, and a spiked choker necklace. "Yes, you in the back with the collar on," I inquired. "Have you ever been in recovery?" he asked me. "No, I haven't," was my reply. Another hand shot up, from a heavy set guy wearing a flannel shirt and holey jeans. "Do you wanna be?" He asked me. "No thanks, I'm all set," I replied.

The rest of the presentation pretty much went like that, most of the people had prohibitative criminal backgrounds so they weren't eligible, which equates to not paying attention bordering on heckling me.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

flawless, ninja: update

I haven't seen the flawless ninja lately. I went by today and his spot was occupied by an older unshaven pink drunk guy, wearing fingerless gloves and a tight leather trenchcoat, holding a sign that said "God Bless You. Anything Helps." He seemed well fed for a homeless guy, and was sitting on a stool. He also was wearing a walkman. He didn't get up or make eye contact, and seemed to be faintly bobbing his head to some good old classic rock. I wondered how much money he could have possibly made with that kind of work ethic.

Happy 5th of July!

I guess some of my neighbors are slow, or just coming out of their opiate induced comas. There is an extremely high amount of firework activity going on. Not that fireworks year round in my neighborhood is unusual in anyway. If I had PTSD I’d be a raving wreck right about now. Last night Ric and I couldn't believe the amount of fireworks going off, we were cracking up, it sounded like a battle was commencing. About 9 PM we decided to walk to the store. As we approached the street where the store was, we were greeted by the sound of a screaming rocket, and the strong smell of gunpowder. We looked towards the store through the haze (that had settled over the nation, I’m sure) as our little white trash part of town was launching bottle rockets and other flying noisy explodable things onto the Four Seasons Asian Market rooftop. The first thing visible was 3 pick-up trucks with monster tires, and three or four dogs barking from a gated fenced area. Four generations of family were standing in a semi-circle, barefoot in the middle of the street, hooting and hollering, drinking and barbequing on their front lawn. Every now and then, the thundery sound of explosions was interrupted by the wail of a siren on an emergency vehicle.

When I was younger, I would consistently go to the Safety Harbor Recreation Center, where they held a large and rather impressive annual fireworks show. I remember going to several years in a row, and seeing all my other friends and their families spread out on blankets and in lawn chairs, eating food, lighting off sparklers and roman candles all over a large baseball field and lawn area. My plan would be to stay overnight with a friend and ride in with their family. It was usually more fun and stress-free that way. I don’t’ remember my parents ever going to the Rec Center, I think at that point in their lives, they were doing other things (like arguing). As my friends and I got older, we would ride our bikes down there with a blanket in a backpack. I think when I was 18 I took acid and went, and stepped on a hot sparkler and didn’t feel it. Anyway, in 1988, I was about 15 and with my friends, watching this great fireworks show, when all of a sudden many bright fireworks went off, right at ground level. It seemed like the grand finale, but the show had barely started and we felt the fireworks should have ignited in the sky. I think there were some more fireworks briefly after that, but it was apparent something was wrong. The next day, we learned that a firefighter blew his arm off!

I’ve been thinking about that ever since. I just had to get it off of my chest.

I’m pretty guilty in the fireworks mischief department, too. I’ve sent my share of G.I. Joes onto expeditions into the great beyond tied to a bottle rocket. My friends and I used to aim them at this neighborhood development that was under construction near our house, and we would pretend that the half built houses were enemy territory. We never retrieved those Joes...





Cole the Cat

Our friend Fred was over, and we were talking about our cats and their weird behaviors. Fred has two teenaged male cats, recently fixed, and dumb as a box of rocks. One of these cats, named Cole, apparently walked into a lit cigarette, and singed some of his whiskers. This happened outside on Fred and his wife Gretta’s patio, when someone rested their lit cigarette in the ashtray. Cole and his curious nature caused him to have an unplanned uncomfortable negative reaction, and his response was to hunch down and dart around frantically. Fred said they were trying to catch Cole to put him in the house, but he was hissed off and kept running away from them.

(when Fred said hissed off, I about hissed my pants laughing).

name tag conspiracy

It has occurred to me that if someone has access to a laminator, computer and printer, they can make their own name tags. I've noticed working job fairs and entering official buildings on official business, if I have my name tag on, I can usually just walk by the clearance area. The people who don't have name tags on, even if they are employees of that organization, get stopped and questioned, and possibly searched. Most people just look at me, look at my name tag, and nod. Now, I'm sure that things are different in major cities, or more professional cities. But around here, I believe anyone can put on a nice outfit or tie, clip on a name tag and walk around wherever they want. This could come in particularly handy at conventions where there is complimentary food for attendees.

There is a down side to the name tag situation, of course with every good there's a flip side--if I forget to take it off, and take a break, people start addressing me by my first name. This includes, but isn't limited to wait staff at restaurants, the pump jockey at the gas station (we are one of only two states in the nation that won't allow you to pump your own gas), and of course, the interesting and lively assortment of people hanging out at bus stops.

fingernail clipper

One of the many wonderful things about having a desk in a cube farm is when one of your co-workers clips his fingernails. The sound of each clip is sending chills down my spine. I don't even want to turn and look, I think he's clipping his nails over his keyboard.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

dirty milk factory

Well, I don't drink milk anymore, and haven't for about 5 years now. I've always not really liked the taste of it; I've never been one to slug down a big cold glass of milk with cookies or a sandwich. Milk is scary, you hear about how scary it is every day: bacteria risks, bio-terror possibilities, mad cow disease, anti-biotic laced milk, and of course, Bovine Growth Hormone saturated milk--responsible for all the pre-teen girls with full breasts bouncing around. Fortunately for me, I'm lactose intolerant. I mean, ssometimes it sucks, because I really like cheese and chocolate, and if I have some I don't feel too good later. And I understand that some people really like drinking milk, but as consumers in a corporate greed capitalistic society, shouldn't we question quality?


Riding my bike about town today, I take a great shortcut through an industrial area that is pretty dead on the weekends. My travels take me past the Alpenrose Diary processing plant, and the first thing you notice before you can clearly identify what kind of business it is, is the stench of sour milk, sitting heavy in the summer heat and the pit of your stomach. After you get past the initial gag reflex, closer inspection into the gated facility yields many dirty trucks, with logos and identifying markings peeling or scraping off. The only semi-clear spot on these trucks is the winshield from the wipers so the driver could see where he was delivering his putrid cargo. The actual processing plant itself was a reflection of the trucks, rusty valves and pipes, big milk (or milk by-product) tanks that look like they've leaked on the rivets that hold the tanks together, rusty drips timelessly cascading down the sides. And the whole time that smell doesn't quit. It's not too bad in the winter, and I guess it's better than having an ammonia factory or a crematory nearby.


I worked on the same block as a crematory, and the first time I smelled it was on a warm day in late spring. I worked in a glass factory so all the bay doors were open, and a hot stale gritty breeze blew through some of the throughways inside the factory. At first, I thought they were preparing BBQ at this cafeteria nearby that we would all eat at. Some of the people I worked with had menus at their workstation, so I looked at Don's lunch menu for the cafeteria:

Lunch Menu - Wednesday
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu
  • Lamb and Rice
  • Vegetarian Pot Pie
  • all w/ steamed vegetables or potato
  • Build-your-own Salad Bar
  • ala carte sandwiches
No BBQ. How odd! Don came back over to his work area, and I asked "Do you smell BBQ?" He replied, "No, but it smells like they're cremating dogs again down the street." Sickened to my stomach, I asked him to elaborate. It seems that on Wednesdays, they fire up the furnace and cremate pets for the SE and NE Portland area. The BBQ started to smell more distinctly like burning hair and flesh. I wanted to puke, and the smell was present for my entire shift, from about 8:30 AM until the time I left. I was recounting this incident to my friend, but didn't mention the pet cremation part yet, and she interrupted and said, "Yeah, they cremated my friend there, we had a service there a couple of years ago." Blegh. From a pratical and space saving point of view, I suppose cremation is efficent and space conscious. It seems like a better alternative then being put into a box into the ground to rot. It was just gross that I had to smell it all day, I felt like I was ingesting someone's soul.