Friday, August 24, 2007
open the door, get on the floor; everybody walk the dinosaur!
Next week will be somewhat active because I have five days off! Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are my usual days off anyway. My old bud Chrome (R.A.T. #1) will be dropping in on Tuesday for a visit. The next in the Paradise Bowl standup comedy series will be Wednesday. I'm sure there's something worth saying about Thursday but I can't place it right now... beside writing something for Say Something Cryptic if I take the time. Friday night is the wedding reception for a couple friends, and I wouldn't miss it for the world. Saturday, we're off to the annual Packwood communitywide swap meet (see ya there, Illiterate/*<3/Nemo). So there'll be nearly no rest for this little grey mushroom.
This entry isn't particularly long because I don't have any actual stupid things to complain about. Okay, there's one sort of inside joke in the office that qualifies... The office I work in has a little bathroom inside the office, and then there are men's and women's rooms out in the hall. Every weekday around 11 p.m., the cleaning crew comes in and empties the trash and tends the bathroom. We never are out of toilet paper, hand towels, ass-gaskets, or soap because they're good about those sorts of things. However, it's dubious whether they ever clean the toilet. I'm not saying the bowl is a mess, just follow along: Somehow someone left a fecal streak on the underside of the seat, in an unlikely and unmissable place. (Always lift that seat by the left side, let's say.) 9/10 of the people in the office are male, so the seat is up most of the time. There is also a piece of dried grass on the flush handle, and we've all been pretty careful not to dislodge it. The concept here is to see how long it takes before the cleaning crew does something about the obvious items, the racing stripe and the blade of grass. It's been two or three weeks. I can hear my former boss when I worked in janitorial going apeshit if those items were still there the next day, but this building is not so blessed with that sort of management. Which explains the lighting in the men's room out in the hall...
The September update to Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul took place so you can go have a look at that. Really, I need to get a guestbook and possibly commenting system set up for that page... at least the hit counter still works because it's based elsewhere. The image at left is of my Atari 2600 cartridge collection, remnants of a bygone age where joysticks had one button. I don't play them nearly as often as I should because my attention span has shortened. So unless I think of something cerebral to say, and don't say it on Say Something Cryptic, that's it until this time next week. I think I'm still a little out of it from yesterday, if that's possible.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
...but there's a warm wind blowing, the stars are out
And I'd really love to see you tonight.-- England Dan & John Ford Coley, "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight" (1976)
I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
that I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
that I almost believe that the pictures are
all I can feel...
-- The Cure, "Pictures Of You" (1989)
Welcome back to the blog, and hopefully you didn't get too eluded by the two updates to last entry. Stuff can change fast, as was the case with the friend I went to visit yesterday (as mentioned last time). The change in Bertie's case, before I start telling the real stories, was that she's leaving the state in one week. When she came back to Washington she told me and everyone around her that in awhile -- I don't recall the approximate timeframe, but it seemed near the end of the year -- she would be moving up to Alaska to be with a friend from high school. Her dad kept telling people she was back on the ranch here to stay, despite being told her intentions. The change to the plan came the other day, whereupon some life and housing situation of the friend changed for the positive and now Bertie was to come up immediately. So yesterday was the last full day that either of us would be able to spend together before she departed. I'm very glad to have taken the time with her, less than we wanted but I had plans in town at 8pm and it's a 130 mile drive, and as a bonus I got to meet her 5-year-old daughter Liahna, who is a hilarious and smart bundle of energy. She pledged that it wouldn't be another 15 years before we saw each other again, and the promise she'd made with her friend was for one year to see how things worked out in the land of the midnight sun (working in daycare for teachers' kids and possibly setting up a cake decorating business) so she swears that she'll be back before long and not be a stranger. [Advice: Get your own computer, relying on other people's is part of why communication is so rare!]
I'm using a lot more self-censorship in writing about the visit and history than usual. Parts of the past I may have written about in the Daybook of Say Something Cryptic in the past, but there's a lot that I won't post online (but will tell in person and grin broadly from when I think about it). Parts of the present are not really anyone else's business, and I don't completely understand so don't feel comfortable trying to repeat. So the short version of distant history is: We met at summer camp in 1986 by way of her being interested in my friend and me being interested in her friend, and when those two blew us off and started hanging around together (since neither was asking for anything beside company, we guess) she and I became friends after camp to commiserate; she was this chunky 16 year old with a soft manner and a slight lisp who was more genuine and sincere than most people will ever be. Life started taking turns when she was in her senior year, and after graduation she took a Greyhound Bus to come see me (without telling me she was coming ahead of time!) right before she moved to Maryland to become a nanny. Three years later she was home for a visit, so we got to spend Thanksgiving together at her family's house. Time passed, we both got married to the people we'd been with for years, she had a child and I got a cat, and that brings us up to this year. The short version of the present history is: Things have not been entirely copasetic in her life and mind for a few years, and she'd allude to things being not to her liking but not explain enough for me to grasp. This summer, things pretty much came to a head for her. There was a lack of communication between her and her husband, he had some directions and ideas that didn't really make linear sense and inflicted them upon his family rather than discussing them, and he was making promises that he could not keep attempting to instill domestic peace. One thing she found very bothersome is that he'd always cast blame on her for everything, including the things he would admit were his own flaws and mistakes, and he'd make scenes in public (throw tantrums even!) over the slightest misunderstanding. Deciding this was no way to live, and having lost most of her positive feelings for him, and knowing that a change of scenery for both of them wasn't going to solve the root issues (in fact would create new issues), she took their daughter and came back to her family while preparing to build a new life with an old friend. I can't say whether seeing me yesterday was part of her staying grounded (it definitely helped) but it did remind her, as her family and that friend do, that she has a support system and people who love her unconditionally always in her periphery. This is something we all need to be reminded of on cloudy days, this I know. And she is just as beautiful now (inside and out) as she was when I met her, and then some.
So, let's see, what's stupid in my arena lately? The trip yesterday had a few slight stupidities, like invisible roadwork at two points. Seriously, the traffic on two-lane mountain highways with speed limits greater than 55mph would just dead stop, with no visible reason why. You don't expect that on a Tuesday morning. I made it to my destination on time, but that is chiefly due to only a five minute delay in a place where the signs all said it'd be 20-30 minutes. Snapped a photo [below; click for large version] of a semi that had run into the side of the back end of another semi that was trying to take a left (had to have been low speed because this was a truckstop area), which is proof to the kids that everyone needs to patiently and courteously take their turn. One stupidity was avoided; I was slated to fill in today for a vacationing coworker, and the scheduling guy was in talks with another coworker to pick up the hours, saying that he'd email me at work (where I'm not!) Wednesday evening about whether I had to work today... along with emailing me, he called my house to say I was off, to my happy surprise. (Happy Surprise = he called. Otherwise I'd be showing up today around 1:45pm to check my email, then wind up driving back home.) And the stupid thing I have to contend with once I post this is fixing the livingroom curtains: When I took the rod down for painting, there were half a dozen screws trying to hold the bracket in place on the left side, none of them really having any support or connection to anything. When I put it back up, I used wall anchors, and kept having to use progressively larger ones because nothing was staying in place. Well, in looking last night, the largest anchor I have is also breaking free of the wall and is about to come popping out, so I gotta go get some molly-bolts or other solution that's gonna expand on the inside of the wall to keep the things on the outside of the wall in place. Toodles!
Saturday, August 11, 2007
what if Mentholatum made a douche? [updated]
The only real stupidity that I have to report in the last week is that I'm out of shape. Possibly a little flabby but definitely have not been getting much exercise, causing me to be sore whenever I do engage in any aerobic activity. Case in point, this last Tuesday. I've been forcing myself to shoot a photo every day, and since I had the day off I decided I was going to get out into the world and find something unique to photograph. I had my sights set on this shed in a field where there used to be a house. Eh, cancel that, the neighbor (who doesn't have a fence) is out back watering the garden and appears to be taking a small backhoe to the old shed in his own back yard. (I'm assuming that was his shed, and not a second neighbor structure I would have been wanting to prowl.) [update 8/14: Both sheds have been bulldozed. Guess I was too late!] But I kept going up the road and got a glimpse of this abandoned house behind tall trees with a real estate sign at the edge of the driveway. Turn around, drive in, park out of sight. This place was a trip, man... it was like these people just dropped everything and left, but not before taking out the sinks and cabinet doors. The livingroom ceiling was on the floor. The records in the hi-fi downstairs were pretty intact but the ones upstairs in the record rack in one bedroom were really decaying. The RV out back was consumed by blackberry brambles and the engine compartment was completely missing, but it too was full of stuff that had been ditched, but not before taking off the cabin-refrigerator door yet leaving all the food inside. I enjoyed this field trip because I found, in a storage shed, hundreds of family photos in one album and several paper packets and loose bundles... Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul thanks you, former Roberts residents! Anyhow, to my gripe. The front door was presumably locked, I never checked it. The back door was barred from the inside, first time I'd ever seen that done on a house door. This left a completely broken-out window in the utility room, which had some plywood nailed up from the inside but not actually covering the opening. On the other side of the window is a washing machine, so I have something to step onto once through the window. Using a truck tire as a stepladder -- gee, I used to be able to just pull myself up to the windowsill and climb in, that's I'm Getting Old part 1 -- I climbed in and made my way around the house. The calendar on the wall by the front door was dated 2006 so it couldn't have been vacant that long, but really did look like it'd been empty since 2000, the date of the calendar on the RV's wall. I'm Getting Old part 2 is how while I didn't really smell the mildew that much while I was in there, my sinuses have been totally full and hurting every morning since then. I'm Getting Old part 3, the thing I'm trying to get to, is that the climbs in and out the windows, which were really nothing at all but just a little crouching and folding, have my legs really sore. Gaaah! Desk job syndrome! I can handle the cuts and scrapes from the blackberries that I didn't know about until I was getting ready for bed (nope, the broken glass and other fun features of the house didn't do me any damage), but just those simple climbing actions making me sore?! That's just wrong! The photos from the shed out back and RV were all I procured; nothing inside the house, beside maybe some records and an artificial Christmas tree (but I didn't), were deemed worth carrying out. [update 8/14: In the span of a week work has been done on the property -- the growth I had parked behind has been cut down and there's been so much bramble removal that the RV is now visible, though this cane at the shed door is intact and I put a big cut in my forehead. Ouch! I went back for more photos, and didn't stay long and didn't find much because all this bonus garbage from somewhere had been hucked into the shed in the spot the album had been found, and I didn't see fit to go digging. Seems they cleaned up one mess while creating another!]
So that's my fun, and more fun will come next post (likely
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
You have to spend money to make money
I went to the emissions place that I always go to and pay the $15. The woman gets in my car and plugs into the onboard computer system to see what the car has to say for itself. Wasn't thirty second later she's handing me a form saying I failed testing... wow, without ever sticking a sniffer up my exhaust pipe? The car's computer reported I had two issues: I was idling fast, and I have a leak in cylander 1. The former I disagree with, but the latter I already knew -- cracked cylander that will cost $1400 to repair. I took my form and I went to the auto parts store to get one of those OBD2 scanners so I could reset the computer. That cleared up the idle issue, but it doesn't fix engine block cracks and since it's an ongoing issue just starting the car sets off the sensor. I went home to stew.
The next day I got another estimate on a repair, which is about the same as the one from the dealership because (surprise!) the part the corner garage would order is coming from the dealership. The counterperson there was very helpful and told me what I needed to do to get the emissions testing resolved. So I went to this emissions repair place not far from the testing center and told them what my situation is: that I need to get an exemption, and this is done by spending at least $150 on repair work and diagnostics. They were quite willing to help me by charging $140 on diagnostics (regularly $70) and writing up what they found (which we already knew), so after tax the total would be $152 and I'd qualify for an exemption. Once done there I went over to the testing place, presented all my paperwork, they confirmed nothing's been fixed within a matter of seconds, and I got my exception certificate. I raced over to the licensing place because it was pushing 5 p.m. and they cheerfully renewed my tabs.
All parties involved -- the emissions people, the engine repair people, the exhaust repair people, the Saturn people, and even the guy at the auto parts store -- thought it unusual that I'd have a cracked cylander head at 110,000 miles... for what it's worth. Now, with that tale told I can head to the live comedy show at the bowling alley up the street. Oh, and in a different brand of stupid news, I've decided to do one of those things where one takes a photo of something around them every day and posts it somewhere (known as a "365 Days" in some places and a "PAD - Picture A Day" in others) but this is just for me, not associated with any 365/PAD group because a lot of them are populated by vain, unoriginal people who hate criticism and only take photos of themselves most of the time anyway. If you're interested in seeing the world through my eyes on a daily basis, click here. C'mon, it'll be fun, maybe.