Sunday, February 26, 2006

It was like a scene from American Grafitti

There's a photo drifting Speedbump around the Internet [at right] epitomizing the division of labor in local, state, and federal jobs: the roadkill crew had not been down this stretch of road, the stripe painters' job description does not say they have to move dead animals, and the result is a dead 'possum in the middle of the road with a yellow stripe across its body. The other day I was driving to work and I saw something rather similar, happily not involving sailcats but the 'right hand not consulting the left hand' element was there:

A fencing crew came down State Route 167 a couple months ago to put this low cable barrier down the left side of the road, and at one point there's an open spot about fifteen feet long. There's nothing special about this particular spot, it's just median (a couple foot drop into grass and picked-up-yearly litter). A mile up the road from that is one of those asphalted strips that connect the two directions of traffic, where police cruisers sit and wait for prey, with the standard sign near it saying "No U-Turn, Emergency Vehicles Only." The fence goes across it on this same side, rendering it useless for emergency vehicles (and cops can only lay in wait in one direction). Speculation is that whomever wrote the plans for this project didn't measure or print the distance to the cop-swap correctly, and the crew – cable stringers, pole planters, asphalt borers, cement backfillers, shovel-leaning foremen, bumper-car drivers – was going to follow them exactly as they were written lest they get The Wrath© for using Common Sense™. Your My state government and tax dollars at work, kids!

I'm jotting this from work, which as usual is slow on a Sunday, and the thing that the guys here keep talking about is the fact that the men's room smells like gasoline. What makes us even more nervous is that no one in charge seems concerned. It wouldn't be such a bad thing if the can blew up (other than having a 4 story building come down on top of us, we're in the basement floor), since as the employment service ad says "I work with chimps"... with the key difference being that real chimps only fling poo as a defensive mechanism, not for fun like my coworkers, and I've never heard of simians picking their noses and wiping the crust on the wall in front of a toilet/urinal for all to admire. Anyhow. The graphics below don't have anything to do with the tale above, they're just two things I had on my desktop... click to see them in their 671x350 glory if you want. The squirrel is a resident of my back yard, and the picture was taken from inside the house(!) with a Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z6. I made it to the Eatonville library last Friday and got copies of every Haynes Hardware ad, so work is underway to make a big ol' update to the Pimpin' Life of Bill Ding subsite on my other webpage. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll hurl.
Foamy and Bill are your lord and master

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My effervescent technology will defeat your old kung fu

I was blazing down the road a couple days ago going to work and sort of drifted partway into the carpool Mmm, Mumsy... laxative!lane for a moment, which turned out to be a good thing. Out of nowhere (okay, I know my physics, that's not possible, but there weren't any trucks ahead of me) this rock strikes my windshield pretty damn hard, leaving a quarter-sized star. Had I actually been in my lane, it would have been in the middle of my windshield, but since I wasn't it was lower and further to the right. Any lower and it could have bounced off my windshield wiper, but what I got was luck enough. I got up early this morning to get that chip fixed ($43), so apparently have the time to blog before I go to work. Mark your calendar, I was up before 9am today!

I was blazing down the road later that same day coming home from work, and I could see in my rearview as I climbed this hill that the car behind me was a Washington State Trooper. It wasn't the light bar on the top that I saw, it was how there's something in the middle when you look through a cop car's front windshield to the back windshield. I'm doing 60-65 so I'm not in fear of a speeding ticket. Inevitably the lights come on, I pull over, and Officer Friendly comes to my passenger side window to have a peek at my license. Not "may I see your license, registration, and proof of insurance?" like they want to see if I have any outstanding warrants or ties to al-Qaeda, just the desire to look at my flattering driver's license photo (hey, I get my kicks off strangers' pictures too!) and pen down some random bit of information. She said the reason she stopped me was because she saw me take the curve at the bottom of the hill a little wide so I was on the shoulder for a moment, and "we State Troopers spend a lot of time in that area" so wanted to ask me to be careful. Funny part? I had been in the center lane the entire climb and the right lane coming up to the hill (two roads merge on the right so there isn't much of a shoulder available), so I have no idea what she was talking about. I figure what really happened was that I blew past a disabled Stater car under an overpass ten miles earlier doing a bit above 70, so the officer who saw me speed couldn't do anything and the officer who pulled me over didn't witness any wrongdoing. Big Brother Is Watching You.

Quick bit of silliness: the writing on a package of Airborne homeopathic health formula, and its store-brand clone Wal-borne, both claim to use "effervescent technology." You never knew Speedy, the Alka-Seltzer mascot, was so advanced!

The love of my life is 5'9" and greater than 200 lbs, but I don't consider her fat. She's not obese anyway. Yesterday when she came home for lunch, she tried to step out of the car onto the pavement and, it being pretty cold here lately, the cement was a tad icy, so she wound up slipping backwards as she was emerging from the car, falling back into the car doorway. No serious damage, but she wrenched herself. This morning I was just starting this screed when she walked into my office wearing her robe and asked if I could have a look at something "in the interest of science." I turned the lights up and she dropped her robe and turned her back to me. Between the dimple on her left butt cheek and the base of her spine was a massive bruise deep within the skin, so it was a faint purple blotch one would have to look at in good light to see. She asked if I saw anything wrong back there, and I replied, "Yeah, you have a huge-ass bruise." She turned and asked, "Are you making fun of me?" I said, "No, I mean you have a bruise and it's huge-ass, not that you have a bruise on your huge ass." And rather than getting miffed at that crack about her crack, she responded, "Okay, thanks, I just wanted to confirm that I had a bruise, it feels like it." There are times that investing in a case of those textured asterisk-shaped stickers people put in their bathtubs and putting them all over the driveway sounds like not such a bad idea. If anyone asks, I'll tell them that the décor of the covered parking area was inspired by the set of The Mike Douglas Show.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dick Cheney and Ted Kennedy walked into a bar...

A few days ago, Where are you, Superman?Dick Cheney, the Vice President of the United States was on a hunting trip with a friend, Harry Whittington, without a license. Neither paying attention to the basic rules of hunting, and Cheney shot his friend in the face... then waited half a day to report the incident. Whittington went to the hospital and had buckshot dug out of his face, but a little while later he suffered a mild heart attack because a bit of lead shot got into his bloodstream and travelled to his heart. Cheney has only had a $7 fine for hunting without a license, not something more grevious such as you or I would face if we shot someone in the face and kept mum, then nearly was guilty of involuntary manslaughter. I joked days ago that Cheney just wanted a little literal blood on his hands, after the thousands of lives he's caused to be lost in various wars overseas. But this has only been a hint that something is seriously out of whack. The real proof came on today's news, when Whittington got out of the hospital and said to the throng of reporters, face and neck bruised with chest stitched and bandaged from heart surgery...

...that he apologises for the trouble he has caused Mr. Cheney.

It's official, we are living in Bizarro World; there's your proof. Pack your stuff and check the galaxy map, it's time to find another planet. In other bizarre news closer to home, I am writing this blog by candlelight. The power is out in my neighborhood due to heavy gusts, so I'm on my Pentium 166 notebook computer (plugged into my regular computer's UPS — the notebook no longer acknowledges its battery is present) using dialup. This would be more romantic if it weren't 30°F outside with 20 mph winds and the indoor temperature (presently 60°F) weren't dropping.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A cause and defect relationship

I thought of a couple annoying people I knew in school, and looked them up in Google. By golly they were there! I should try this more often. So following are what I'd written about them on my other site's Daybook at one time (and also found through Google!!), modified to put them into this page's context, followed by the hilarious-to-me Where They Are Now:

• 1982: What she neededI was sitting in Rheta Buoy's required Washington state history class in 1983, along with a couple dozen other people, reading about some historical thing silently to ourselves. We had no choice but read in class, the district only owned as many history books as chairs in the classroom, not one for every student in the nineth grade. One of the kids from the Title I [read: special ed] class, who wasn't 'differently abled' but just lazy and stupid, decided to skip class and work on his belching skills. And he chose the end of the other building to this one as a place to practice. That building was parallel to this one, and there was a narrow courtyard between the two, so he's basically burping into an echo chamber. We can see him right there, he wasn't as hidden as he thought he was. He's standing there going "uuuuuuurrrrppp. uuuuuuurrrrrrppp. uuuuuuuurrrrrrppppp." We're breaking a sweat... Ms. Buoy was the frostiest turd in the school, someone who could have used a huge phallus in her private life to take the edge off; no way were we going to let ourselves laugh lest we be punished, and it was difficult. And it was harder still when we watched the vice-principal walk out the end of the building we were in and patiently stride over to where the dimbulb was standing, seemingly unaware of what was coming in his direction. And speaking of stress-testing in Ms. Buoy's classroom, there was one afternoon that three dogs were in that echo-chamber corridor; one was copulating with another, and the third was calling cadence. Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Right outside the classroom window, in plain view of several classes and earshot of half the school. I don't recall any adults going out there to break up the party, but by the same token, I think this was the only class resembling sex ed I ever attended the entire three years I was in junior high. (Which is probably why that town had such a high teen pregnancy rate: not enough information at the time the fruit started ripening, and no one keeping time, "Pump! Pump! Pump! Pump!") Ms. Buoy looked agitated by the copulation and barking, and closed the curtains, but that didn't mute the cadence. I recall eating Nerds candy in her classroom, the box secretly in my right front pocket, only because I knew it was wrong... I didn't eat them anywhere else but gym class.

Where Is She Now? She married some foreign cock, moved to California, and is high up in the multi-level marketing (MLM) community as a health foods dealer. From teacher to renowned scam artist.

• 1983: Doug PaceDoug Pace was this guy who went to the high school I was sent to after getting out of junior high. I do not know what he did to piss people off, but apparently he succeeded because one day I came to school and there were hundreds of these slips of paper with that image (photocopied out of a Time-Life book about the evolution of upright hominids) stuck everywhere. I thought that was pretty darn mean, and hilarious at that. I carried this picture in my wallet in the plastic display window usually reserved for one's driver's license. Admittedly I didn't know the guy, but... one day I was sitting on the back lawn at Ike reading the May 1984 National Lampoon while eating lunch when a bunch of upperclassmen walked by. One of them saw fit to fling his Big Gulp ice at me, and they all laughed. A friend informed me that the dickhead with the cup of ice was none other than Doug Pace. Suddenly I understood why he was portrayed as a neanderthal.

Where Is He Now? He became a small town/special-interest newspaper stringer and the leader of a Quarter Midget [drag racing for 5-15 year olds] racing club, still living where he grew up. Being a family man with a modest income and an expensive hobby doesn't mean he's not still a prehistoric putz.

Coming someday: Tweety & Sylvester, the shop class and life science teachers [respectively] from my high school, who used to live together in Sawyer, WA and insisted that they were straight (okay, because they were, and never shyed away from being seen in public with hot chicks). Or maybe not; I've never had a beef with Sylvester, he was my cross-country coach and a hell of a guy, and I never had a class with Tweety so I can't confirm if he was as big a twit as he seemed.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Dumbest Man of 1922

It's not that I don't have any stupidities to report (I've got a couple brewing / fermenting / simmering / festering) but I figure a picture is worth a thousand words. This was published in a 1922 issue of the Eatonville [WA] Dispatch as space filler from the news-wire. I really gotta get back to the Eatonville library and flip through some back issues, I need more material for the Pimpin' Life of Bill Ding feature on my personal site. Here's a lead-in stupidity for the picture:

Last Saturday I fixed a leak in the roof of my shed, using some asphalt-based patching compound from the hardware store. That stuff sticks to everything, including one's hands and one's tools such as the ladder. Gunk got places. I wanted to go to this jewelry store up the street (Saint VD's day is coming, ya know?) and called ahead to make sure they were open. I took a shower, and when I went to the dresser to get something... water is dripping from my ceiling onto it. Got dressed, grabbed the ladder from out back to get into the attic, and go up with a light to see where this is coming from. No shingles are missing from the roof, but water seems to have blown up under some loose ones. The insulation in my attic is regular pink/yellow batting, topped with a fluffy layer of cotton balls. Or something like that, I think it's also fiberglass floss (judging by the itchy arms) but not concentrated. So after seeing that the leak is coming from under a strut, and not a hole in the middle of a plank, thus no easy way to fix it, I go back down and take the ladder outside. Issue one, I am tracking white fluff all over the house. Issue two, I'm getting black gunk all over again, damned ladder. I took a second quick trip to the hardware store to buy a tarp, then went up on the roof to staple it into place hoping to keep water off that place. Without further ado, I must leave, it's 4pm and the jewelry store closes at 5pm. I go out the door, get to the car, realize I do not have my housekey, grumble. Happily my nephew has unlocked the sliding glass door, though he didn't take the dowel out of the track so it would open more than six inches, and the spirit of McGyver is running through me as I take a broom handle and knock a nail into the end at an angle so I can extend my arm and the handle through the open space and tickle the dowel out. I get inside, it's now 4:15pm, grab my keys and head to the store. And when I get to the stripmall a couple miles away, the signs are there but the store isn't. Sign in window: "We've moved to South Hill." I have enough time to drive there and spend maybe ten minutes looking, but I decide to give up and get myself a sammich. End of that comedy of errors.

Oh, and the insurance guy came out today to look at my roof (wheee, more floss on the family room carpet!) and he said that since there's no visible external damage to cause the leak, just the damp panels in the attic which may someday rot out, they're not going to take any action. Thanks, Farmers! Things could be worse, the woman next door also had a leak in her roof from the recent windstorms, and in the process of getting that fixed professionally they discovered dry rot in her porch so she has spent over $3000 on her issues. I am hoping that using that asphalt goop on some loose shingles will prevent further leakage, and that a heater fan directed to those wet panels in the attic will help preserve them. Anyhow, with all that said about the joy and cost of home repairs, consider the following guy. [Click on the image for a more readable 621x529 version.]
Dumbest Man of 1922

Sunday, February 05, 2006

He's a lousy lover but he's good with his thumbs

[There are just my opinions as a private citizen who happens to have to deal with these device five days a week, eight hours a day from a support standpoint. Opinions stated here do not represent those of any given cellular provider, duh, but are repeated daily by many of the people I work with. If you happen to be associated with the same company as me, I am not the 'droid you are looking for. Some products are named but no cellular carriers are mentioned. It's wonky electronics like the ones below that give me and my comrades any form of employment security in this send-the-jobs-offshore economy.]
Ain't this a pisser?If you're old enough to remember when the Village People were releasing albums, like me, you likely saw some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups ads on television where one person would be walking along eating a chocolate bar obliviously while another was bebopping down the sidewalk eating peanut butter straight out of the jar blythely (ever see that happen in real life?), and the two bump into each other, conveniently sticking part of the chocolate bar into the peanut butter in such a way that both people had a chunk of chocolate with peanut butter on it. After the cursory "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter! You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!" they both eat their chocolate slabs and announce that it's delicious, and the voiceover says it's "two great tastes that taste great together." Got the cultural reference now, kids? Fast forward to now. Picture two business dweebs walking along toward each other, one yakking away on his cell phone and the other in his own private Idaho punching away on a personal digital assistant (PDA). The two dweebs collide, as does happen quite a bit in real life because people don't freaking pay attention to where they're going while engaged in digital nirvana, and somehow the phone and PDA have merged into one device. Two bad tastes that taste bad together; this is a common description of the Palm Treo and the Research In Motion Blackberry.

Now, first I have to say that I don't dislike Blackberry devices that much. It's the people who use them that I don't like. "Crackberries", as they are often referred to due to their addictive nature (have you played Brickbreaker today?), are fairly stable and pretty easy to use. Most of the problems can be solved by doing a factory reset to renew the programming, and anything beyond that is likely fixed by reinstalling the operating system (a 40 meg download) if it's not a physical issue. They interact fine with Microsoft Outlook and a few other programs, email sent from one or sent to its dedicated email address arrives within one minute, and the loosest cog seems to be if one is using a Blackberry Enterprise Server (a Blackberry-only email system used in corporate circles) because like your office network it relies on one or two people to fix their own goofups when mail stops coming. And no, I am not going to comment on the recent issues Research In Motion has been having in American courts with the patent-collecting company NTP, I leave that to the pundits who point out that the US Patent Office and courts in England and Germany have called NTP's allegations of copyright infringement bologna. It's the people who worship these devices with the thumbwheels that I make fun of. Especially those who want it to do more than it can or walk around like these are executive-level GameBoys. While most PDAs (with or without phones attached) are quite expandable, there is no Blackberry that comes with a 1.3 megapixel digital camera, MP3 player, or other geegaws built in because this is strictly for business use. It's a tool, that's why it has a calendar, address book, and email program primarily and little beyond that. Pay attention to your surroundings, assclowns.

Treos, however, these are a scourge. Palm made some mighty fine PDAs that didn't go online, or if they did (via a modem) they didn't use your cellular minutes. Then came this all-in-one beast which does no one task particularly well. 75% of the calls I take are about this device, and 50% of the calls I take on them require either a factory reset or an outright replacement to fix the problem. I'm sure this isn't the only device with an LCD screen that gets damaged thus causing a big orange blob to spread across the screen, but the "Treo fungus" is rather unique to the device. I can't name any other electronics that reboot itself 2 seconds after it starts up in an endless loop, with the exception of some Windows 95/98 computers I dealt with years ago. It's surprising how many of these Treos stop ringing and send calls straight to voicemail, have issues that can't be resolved with a factory reset, or have other failures where they require warranty replacement within a week of coming out of the box. My former boss was reading some press release about the Treo 650 which referred to it as "award-winning", to which she said out loud, "what award did that thing win, the Crap Award?" (She then quit the cellular company to work for HTC, the company that designed several cell phones for other companies, including the Treo 650...) I am curious whether there's any truth to the rumor seen online recently that says the Treo 700 to be offered by some cellular carriers this spring will be using Palm's own operating system, which is found on previous Treo models thus restoring compatability with earlier models' software and hardware, whereas the ones currently available use the Windows Mobile 5 operating system, which is found on all the non-Palm/non-Blackberry PDA-phones. Of course, like with the Crack(berry) addicts, I diss on the owners themselves too, since it seems a lot of people will accumulate a lot of address book data (do you actually know the 13,000 people you have in your contacts list??) and never back it up to a computer, then when the phone goes toes-up as inevitably it does suddenly they can't get the data off. As the saying goes, a lack of foresight on your part does not a crisis for me make. (Or something like that.) Oh, and in case you wondered, I'm not going to say anything for or against Windows Mobile-using devices, because I don't care if it's a Microsoft product as long as it's stable. I will however say that I get more calls saying "my phone suddenly reset on its own and dumped all the data" about Windows Mobile devices than the same complaint about Blackberries or Palm devices. Those two devices just up and quit working yet retain the data, that's all.

Okay, you want a recommendation? Easy. Put your cell phone (doesn't matter what brand) on one hip and your PDA (doesn't matter what brand) on your other hip. Never the twain should meet. If one breaks, the other still works. If you need to read and reply to email on the go, use a notebook computer and a WiFi connection so you not only have a real keyboard and monitor but the connection is free or nearly so. If you actually move around a lot outside metro areas, make sure your cell phone can be used as a tethered modem for your notebook, and know your carrier's coverage area. Some entire states are 'dead spots'. Throwing your Internet connect, online and organizational functions, and your phone into one handheld device? Bad juju. Don't have an email account already or intend to use 3/4 of what the device can do? Consider spending that $300-$500 on something more lasting and useful, like your grandkids' college fund. But if you won't follow these helpful tips, I thank you for paying my salary and keeping the likes of me off the street during the day.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

We'll go dancing in the dark, walking through the park and reminiscing

Today's bit of stupidity is the march of progress, or maybe it is the mourning of the march of progress. Every so often I think of what used to be and wonder why it isn't anymore. Never mind the people and situations that have been left behind, albeit those are the things which mean the most; here are some things that have gone away that I do not think should have but I suppose they all had a reason:

Places I miss:
The Crossroads 1955Valu-Mart - taken over by Fred Meyers or something
Pay-n-Save later Payless Drugs - lost all cred when purchased by Rite-Aid
Pay-n-Pak and Ernst - nice little home improvement chains
Prairie Market - quaint little supermarket chain
C&R Market - the neighborhood store I spent my youth in, they kept their adult magazines on the checkout endcaps for easy access
Ed's BBQ - the neighborhood burger-n-coffee joint I spent my youth in, with the U-shaped counter, bar stools, pinball machines, and the town regulars; it's back in business but under another name and without the late Ed Ramsey
The Crossroads Cafe - my grandparents' business, which burned down several years before I was born
VIPS - the diner chain with Vippy Bunny, faded into the sunset and the buildings mostly became Denny's locations.
Sambo's - the diner chain with the little Indian boy and the tiger, which changed its name to Seasons (because some stupid people had never read the children's books by Helen Bannerman) then also faded into the twilight.

Products I miss:
Mother's Little HelperMug-O-Lunch - instant cheesy noodles, just put in a cup and add hot water; 'twas awesome
Nervine - the original Mother's Little Helper; created 1890 by Miles Labs, demoted from sedative to sleep aid by the FDA in the 1960's, discontinued in 1999
Funny Face - Kool-Aid's cute competition, the source of kiddie nickname "Goofy Grape"
Puddinheads - some mighty awesome pudding cups with crusty chocolate shells on top
Crazy magazine - Marvel's competition to Mad and Cracked, starring Irving Nebbish and/or Obnoxio The Clown
Dixies - chicken drumstick-shaped snack crackers (or as we said in school, "they're shaped like little boners to give you a nice juicy taste of piss!")
Fruity Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute - you forgot that Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Boo-Berry had other coworkers? Fruit cereals, other than Fruity Pebbles and Froot Loops, don't really do so well... and if you never tasted Urkle-O's (yes, for real; very artificial strawberry & banana flavor) you didn't miss anything.

TV shows I miss:
The Ropers promoHello, Larry - MacLean Stevenson as the precursor to Frasier Crane
Too Close For Comfort - Ted Knight as a cartoonist with mismatched hottie daughters
Holmes & Yoyo - humorous cop show with a cyborg as the partner
The Ropers - what Stanley and Helen did after leaving Jack, Janet, and [ditzy third roomie of the season]
Wacko - pointless Saturday live-action skit show, featured Larry Storch and a wind-up kangaroo
Hot Hero Sandwich - Saturday live action show with hidden meanings (teaching early teens about life); featured a hairy man in a dress called The Puberty Fairy
The Ghostbusters (released on video as The Original Ghostbusters) - Two men and a gorilla take out ghosts; no relation to the movie or that "Real" cartoon, and more Larry Storch lovin'
Fridays - Saturday Night Live had some day-before competition at one time, but it (like The New Show) didn't survive; the only people you have heard of from that show wound up on Seinfeld: Michael Richards ('Kramer') and Larry David (series creator).
The Ernie Kovacs Show - don't drink and drive, that's what ended this genius' television odyssey (and his life); inventor of the music video

What's trapped in the backwaters of your mind?

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