Looks like Monday is the day for Molly's brain surgery. She was stumbling like crazy this morning, and I can't see putting her (or me) through this much longer. I hope Visa is in a good mood.
Windowphobe.com is now in place, or at least a placeholder is now in place. Maybe by the time I get the bill for the domain registration, I'll have figured out what to do with the site.
Speaking of monetary outgo, I was up at the landlord's office to pay the monthly tab for my little hovel, but the office staff had flown the coop for the weekend. For a bunch of people who get their thongs contorted into veritable Klein bottles when you don't pay on time (or so I've heard I've never been late myself), closing on the first of the month strikes me as awfully strange.
The weather guys were all over themselves this Friday and Saturday telling us how, at last, the monsoons were subsiding, and it should be nice and clear right up through the Fourth of July. And, of course, right before sunrise this morning, it started pouring. Flip a coin, you get a 50-50 shot; go to school for five years and learn to use $100,000 worth of fancy detection equivalent, and it goes up to maybe 54-46.
I have discovered that I am a long way from being competent at the fine art of CGI scripts. Unfortunately, it was three in the morning when I discovered this.
Something called WHquestion as in WHo, WHat, or WHere has requested that I sign up as a "source" to add to their panel of quasi-experts. I did so, but I'm not entirely sure WHy.
Back to work for a whole day. Useless. Then again, I have only four days this week to do about two weeks' worth of work, which is even more useless. It's times like this I feel like praying for tsunami.
Molly was sort of well-behaved today, so she got a reprieve. I hope she can hold out until vacation week. Then again, we all know what happens when I get hopeful (and it's not pretty).
A friend of mine sold a perfectly ordinary $6.98 budget CD (okay, it was shrinkwrapped, but so what?) to someone on eBay for eight bucks. Plus shipping. And I thought I was deranged.
The old fedora gets tipped three times today, which exposes more scalp than I'd like, but credit must be given where credit is due.
First and foremost, to my son Russell, happy birthday. May you have lots more, and may you never get to the point of regretting having had lots more.
And a smiling gesture in the general direction of Mike Bagneski of e_Scripts Software, whose elegant script (hence the name?) is now powering the Grouse-O-Matic message board on my other site. The easy 15-minute installation took less than two hours, though admittedly part of that time was spent poring over text files in search of syntactical anomalies, on the off-chance that the board may be visited by that scariest of entities, the Hotty Grammarian.
Finally, to the United States of America you're looking pretty good for 224.
With heavy heart and soon-to-be-lighter wallet, I committed poor Molly to the mechanics today. In her one last act of petulance, she dropped her rear-view mirror onto the floorboards. She'll be gone for a week. In her stead, I am piloting around a Chevrolet Cavalier, one of the lower forms of automotive life. I used to be so fond of Chevys. Whatever happened?
And whatever happened to personnel retention as a goal? One of our better people quit today that's two in two weeks and no one seems to care. We are not interchangeable parts in one giant machine, as they'll find out when they have to hire three people (at four to six times the expense, you damn betcha) to replace me. It's bad enough we can't get enough of a pipe to the Net.
I spoke too soon. We are, in fact, losing three people. By the time busy season rolls around, there'll be nobody left at all.
Yesterday, I grumbled about this teensy Chevrolet. I have to give it props, though, for the Delco Electronics stereo, which not only actually picks up FM stations fairly well (unlike the one in the Malibu I sampled) but which manages to get seven presets out of a mere four buttons, without contortions. Somebody was thinking.
And, for the first time, there is actual activity on my message board. Wonders never cease.
The folks at Consumer Reports put out a new chart this month, listing repair costs for various components on 18 popular 1992 cars, the average car on the road being eight years old, or in some cases 56 dog-years. I wasn't too surprised to find that the import-branded cars tended to run up higher repair bills than their domestic counterparts, regardless of actual assembly point a Honda built in Ohio isn't any cheaper to fix than one built in Japan but I did catch one anomaly. As any Camry owner will tell you, their car is basically a lower-frills version of the bottom-end Lexus. (Do not expect the owner of the ES300 to tell you about the Camry connection.) And Toyota repairs seem to cost about the same amount as Lexus repairs, with one notable exception. For some reason, a transmission job on a Camry is $1900; on the Lexus, it's $4500. Not even an E-class Benz tranny costs this much to fix.
Ringo is sixty today. Gawd, I feel ancient.
And for the second time in two weeks, one of my network printers at work has started forgetting everything in its flash memory. Watch for the sudden appearance of a size-14 (E, at that) shoe print on its off-beige surface.
Many years ago, Monty Python brought forth upon the world something called the Instant Record Collection, a box set of the most popular Python noises, aimed presumably at someone who hadn't been buying them all along. I thought about this concept today while I watched a sweet little grandmother with a mile-wide smile and really nice gams acquire for cheap some 617 (!) CDs from an estate collection, about as many as I've managed to garner in a lifetime. ("Lifetime" here is defined as "18 years", as long as CDs have existed as a commercial product.) Some people take this stuff seriously.
Coming back from this spectacle, I dragged the Cavalier across the Belle Isle Bridge, and it was far more competent than its big brother. Still not a world-beater, but GM really ought to send the Cav's suspension people to Oklahoma City (coincidentally, the site of the Belle Isle Bridge) to teach the Malibu crew how to build a unibody car that won't turn into tapioca over dubious road surfaces.
Then again, it may be a waste of time. Car and Driver sent along this kindly assessment from British journalist Anthony ffrench-Constant:
"Why the hell do Americans even bother to try and make small cars, at which they are, let's face it, utter crap?....The point is, they can't do anything small: buildings, hair, food, speech, egos, neuroses, arses. You name it, if it's made in America, it needs to be beyond enormous, beyond Olympic, and up there in the 'My God, it's moving toward us' category."
Take a chill pill, Anthony. A small one.
The heat is on. At least I don't have to whine about the rain for a while.
In anticipation of having to adopt a clear liquid diet for a couple of days, I have laid in a stock of Jell-O. Unfortunately, they advise against the food dyes that are used in all my favorite flavors. It figures.
And while sorting through the bills, I found this little kudo stuck to the electric bill:
"...OG&E customers in Oklahoma will receive a reduction in their electric bill beginning July 1, 2000 and ending June 30, 2001.
"Customers will receive a $.00034 per kilowatt reduction based on their monthly usage. For example, a customer who uses 1,000 kilowatts of electricity each month will receive a reduction of 34 cents per month or $4.08 annually."
And to think I was worried about making my next car payment.
The lessons of life can be hard, and what's more, they're hard to forget. One such is "Do not install a major software upgrade the weekend before going on vacation." I suspect I will carry this one around for a long, long time despite the fact that I wasn't the one doing the upgrading.
Would you be impressed if Aston Martin were offering a $500 rebate? Neither would I. On the other hand, it's almost exactly the metaphor I'm looking for.
Molly's going to have to stay in the shop a bit longer; the Wizards of the East Coast have yet to cough up a circuit board. Meanwhile, I'm gradually acquiring a sort of grudging respect for the Chevy, though it would be nicer if it came in my size. (According to the doctor, it would be nicer still if I didn't.)
And speaking of matters of health, it's time to buy another bottle of pills for my hypertension, at a buck-eighty apiece. Not that they'd necessarily be any cheaper in Canada or Mexico; still, that's an awful lot of money for such a small deviation from the norm.
A chap "borrowed" one of my record reviews, and some pictures snagged elsewhere, for his own site; apparently he had forgotten the minor detail that by copying it to his server, quite apart from whatever copyright violations may have been involved, it used up his server space. He has since passed the prerequisite in Clue Acquisition, and all parties are presumably happy.
Surely there must be something I can do about these mood swings. It takes so little to set me off these days, and I can't blame it on the heat, the doofuses who make my job difficult, or just general malaise. Of course, getting professional help is out of the question, unless I'm prepared to give up everything I own and everything I ever want; what passes for health insurance in these parts pays a maximum of $500 a year towards mental-health care, barely enough to cover the cost of persuading a shrink to issue a prescription for Prozac.
Then again, how likely is it that I'll get anything I ever want?
It is a measure of how far I have sunk, emotionally speaking, that a prefab tearjerker like Bobby Goldsboro's "Summer: The First Time", despite resembling no incident in my life whatsoever, made me totally lose it today at work.
To top it off, Molly's still waiting on her new control module, I got to peel off $30 for the mix that produces four liters of the atomic cocktail I'm supposed to drink before the exam, and the average IQ in my usual chat haunt seems to have dropped ten points it couldn't spare.
Not even the imminence of Friday can help this week.
It is now about three weeks into this little blog experiment, and while I'm delighted or discouraged to note that it has had essentially no effect on the traffic to this site, I do seem to be coming up with some actual variations on the blah sort of theme that defines my existence. In other words, I haven't belabored too many points. Yet.
I did notice, though, that twice in those three weeks I have made references (and laudatory ones, at that) to the appearance of a female from here down (if I had a working Web cam, you'd see me gesturing in the general vicinity of the hemline), which prompted this week's altogether-too-perky-for-its-own-good Vent. All together now: "Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts."
And I thank you.
About a week ago, I reported in this space that one person, a rather perky grandmother type, had acquired some 617 CDs from an estate collection in a single transaction. Of course, grandparents begin to reach this heady status by first becoming parents, and one of her children gleefully wrote in to inform me that she had, in fact, purchased 631 discs that day. I'd fire my fact-checker, if I had one.
The heat is beginning to take its toll. Packaging for the drug I take for hypertension (or is that "the drug I take against hypertension"?) bears a warning about excessive exposure to sunlight, and apparently today's shopping trip, though not that long, came close to being excessive. When I got home, I was not just sweaty; I was disoriented and just this side of nauseous. (How I drove home, I'm not entirely sure, but evidently I did.) Things improved through the afternoon, but now I've got something new to worry about especially since the summer has only just begun.
The server at work went down again, no thanks to something in this new software "upgrade", so I got to trudge to the shop both Saturday and Sunday to reset the darn thing. I do hope that when the sysadmin returns, he's in a good mood, because he's going to be mucho urinado when he goes through the logs trying to figure out why this thing keeps shooting itself in the foot. (If I remember correctly and since when do I remember correctly? he's due back Tuesday. And no, this isn't proper Spanish. I hope.)
The automated voice at the National Weather Service says there's a measurable chance of rain starting Tuesday. I'm not especially fond of rain, but if it keeps the temperatures below the 98 or 99 we've been getting every afternoon, I'm all for it.
I wonder how long I can stretch out these last few Xanax....
Rumors persist that Governor Frank Keating (R-Okla.) is on George W. Bush's Veep list, which plunges me into greater despair than usual. We went through this once before, in 1996, and while the possibility of seeing BumbleFrank depart for happier climes has its cheery aspects, the idea of this doofus this close to the White House is downright scary. If Dubya pales in comparison to his dad, Keating pales in comparison to Dubya's dad's Vice President. Dan Quayle, where are you when we need you?
The caretakers called today to let me know that Molly's brain box is being FedExed back here to the provinces and should be in place by Tuesday afternoon which is just as well, because the rental agency is starting to wonder whatever happened to their cat-litter-colored Chevrolet.
The rain predicted for Tuesday showed up today, but not enough of it to make a whole lot of difference. Still, we're nowhere near water rationing.
Once again, the infamous "email tax" story is circulating among people I know. It would have been fatuous in the extreme to think that I might have killed it all by myself, but I was hoping that I had had at least some tiny impact on this small circle of friends. Evidently it was too much to hope for.
Speaking of taxes, this whole marriage-penalty thing bothers me. To hear the GOP sponsors tell it, the tax code is stacked against couples who file jointly. (Actually, the tax code is stacked against anyone who didn't lobby for a special provision or exemption.) Income is income is income; this, like most current tax law, needs to be fixed, and if the President, as he has threatened, whips out his veto pen in a snit, his acolytes will pay the political price.
This week at A List Apart, Rich Robinson asserts that the current fad for weblogs (including the one here, presumably) "...has harmed, and is continuing to harm the web. Blame it on laziness, vanity, or both: as the quantity goes up, the quality goes down."
Well, maybe. I would hate to have to argue that there is a fixed amount of Worthwhile Content on the Web, and that a larger number of participants inevitably means a lower overall quality score; surely this isn't a zero-sum game. And I'm likely as lazy and/or vain as the next guy, and Web sites are in no way exempt from Sturgeon's Law. But there has to be some reason I've been at this soapbox for more than four years, and while I don't delude myself for a moment that the words I toss up on the screen will bring true love to me, the Palestinians and the Israelis to an agreement, or third parties to a place on the Oklahoma ballot I don't even expect a discount coupon at Barnes & Noble as Scott Cohen points out in that same issue, "We are not throwing words around for our health."
The sysadmin has returned from his journey through the hinterlands, and he was not thrilled with The State Of Things. The advice from Big Blue is "Buy more hardware." At least some things never change.
Molly has come home, and I suspect she would be happier about it if it weren't so darn hot. And I'd be happier about it if I weren't so darn broke. After factoring in the dime one of the techs left in the console (no credit for the stick of Juicy Fruit), this little escapade cost me $1367.42, or about what it would cost to pay the excise tax and license fee on a new model. (File that under "small comforts".) It's definitely nice to have first gear back.
I wonder: Is America Online going to celebrate its 15th birthday this year? Just in, uh, Case you don't remember, The House That Steve Built started out in the fall of 1985 as a little gathering place for owners of the venerable Commodore 64 computer, the late, lamented QuantumLink, which managed to bankrupt us all during its glory days. And while Wintel devotees may sneer, those old doorstops were, and are, surprisingly capable, and I know one person who still plays the C-64 version of M.U.L.E. on a Pentium III.
The denizens of my usual chat room are gathering in Philadelphia this weekend, perhaps to give the cops a chance to practice before the Republican Convention. I will miss some of them greatly, and at least one far more than I have any business admitting.
Of the last 260 scheduled workdays, I have worked 257, not to mention a truly wretched amount of overtime, so as of this afternoon, I'm on a way-overdue vacation, which I plan to spend doing as little as I possibly can though inevitably, if accidentally, I may accomplish something of small, bordering on infinitesimal, utility. I mean, it's not like I'm Brian Boitano or anything.
Oh, and don't send me a fax. A storm of Brobdingnagian proportions blew through town this morning and took the guts of my fax machine with it. While I could just as easily accept these things on the PC, I'm not about to leave it up all day just so four people a year can fax me. I may not even replace the machine and fixing it will cost at least as much as replacing it.
For the second day in a row, we got a forceful reminder that we're not actually in control of this planet. Winds exceeding 80 mph came ripping through the night sky, thunder boomed everywhere, and there was almost enough lightning to make up for the loss of electrical power (though how I can get the lightning to power the fridge escapes me for the moment). Tree limbs, and we're not talking twigs here, are scattered all over the place; in some parts of town, windows are smashed and vehicles overturned. And, of course, I am always surprised at my utter inability to find any of my battery-powered stuff.
Two magazines showed up today with totally different approaches to getting my attention. Premiere's August issue drapes the comely Jennifer Lopez across a table in a mildly-interesting pose. (How mild? Well, it was worth the $3.50 cover price, anyway.) On the other hand, MAD issued the following notice to subscribers on the wrapper:
"Dear MAD Subscriber: If you receive this issue in
damaged condition, please visit www.IamsoMAD
I finally got around to updating Your 15 minutes are up, and I'm experimenting with a new design for the page. While it's not exactly eye candy, it's not the eye castor oil it used to be either.
Queasiness seems to be the order of the day, which means I'm probably getting ready for the inevitable anxiety attack over my upcoming medical exam. I don't remember being quite so hypochondriacal before I turned 45.
I caught a TV spot today with the tagline "Abstinence is not a dirty word." Alcoholics Anonymous finally going public? Nope. It's the State of Oklahoma, throwing away more of my money, and maybe some of yours. And they don't care if I drink or not, so long as I don't screw. Yep, you heard me: it's yet another harebrained scheme cooked up by the Amateur Christian Fascist League and its myrmidons in the state legislature, in an effort to deflect attention away from the fact that in the decades they've dominated the discourse and gotten their mind-numbing list of taboos enshrined into state law, Soonerland's teenage birthrate remains way above the average, its divorce rate rivals only Nevada's, and the state's child-abuse people work even more overtime than I do. I wouldn't take these clowns' advice on selecting tomatoes from a produce bin, let alone something as complex as human sexuality. Let us hope that this band of nimrods gets the chance to perform one relatively simple sexual act, with itself as recipient.
It is now six months since I decided I didn't need to spend seven bucks a month for the Sunday Oklahoman. For one thing, I don't buy so much fish that I need wrappers; for another, the rag is still dominated by the sort of nimrods described in the previous paragraph. While $42 doesn't go far these days, I figure almost anything else I might have spent it on constitutes a moral victory.
This will be the first Sunday night in I don't know how long that I won't be popping some sort of pharmaceutical product to get to sleep, no doubt because I won't have to go to work Monday morning. I'm starting to think that even if they were to triple my pay, it wouldn't be enough though I'm certainly more than willing to let them make the offer.
So I put the finishing touches on a small site I'd slapped together as an outside project, and once the items were duly FTP'd to the server, my already chronic connectivity problems flared up worse than ever; if there's such a thing as bit constipation, I got way too close a look at it. Technical-support guys, of course, were duty-bound to tell me that it's All My Fault; I wound up reinstalling Windows DUN 1.3 and moving my modem to another slot, which seemed to help somewhat. I suppose it's a good thing I had a vague idea what was going on; people have bought new computers for a lot less reason.
Still, being me isn't all it's cracked up to be. While I don't expect to be thrilled with life as I know it, it would be nice to be able to go one whole day, especially one whole day when I didn't have to go to the office (two phone calls thanks a lot, guys), without something screwing it up. The Social Darwinists among us will happily tell me that, well, it's All My Fault. I just want to know one thing: if I have such tremendous power over time and space as to insure the complete and utter failure of anything I attempt, from romance to role-playing, how come that same power never seems to work to make me rich (I'd settle for "less embarrassingly broke"), to make [fill in name of unavailable inamorata] look my way, or even something simple like, say, getting Big Brother cancelled?
It has begun.
At precisely 5 pm, I drew off my first tumbler full of this diet-antifreeze stuff I'm supposed to be drinking. It took nearly an hour to finish. At approximately 28 ounces per tumbler, that means I have to do this four times more. "Slow down," say the instructions, "if you start to feel nauseated." I have the sinking feeling that I'm in for an all-nighter. Time to put a fresh roll on the spindle.
So it's Bush and Cheney. I can think of two good things about this selection:
Of course, this will make it easier for Al Gore to select a middle-aged white guy of his own, but that comes later.
Four quarts later, I'm done with this stuff. In terms of salutary digestive effect, it's up there (or down there) with four bowls of Texas-style double-toilet chili. (And no beans, dammit.)
And after all that, the procedure itself was pretty much anticlimactic. I really don't remember a whole lot about it, or even how long it lasted; today's high-quality anesthetics apparently work faster than a half-hour of MSNBC, and with fewer mind-numbing aftereffects. Did they find a dollop of polyps? No, just two of the little buggers, which were duly sheared off and sent to the lab for examination. Recovery time was about as long as it took for me to get home and pop a TV dinner into the microwave.
Beyond that, I have no idea what's going on. Perhaps it's just as well.
Something is terribly wrong here.
How many times have I been to Target? Fifty? A hundred? Certainly it's not the sort of place a reasonable person (defined, for this purpose, as "a person whose expenses do not exceed income by more than thirty percent") would have any reason to fear. And yet as I darted well, actually slogged through the automatic door this morning, I felt the icy hands of pure dread pushing me back: "You don't belong here. Go away."
I fought off the creature, or whatever, long enough to buy a few small items of marginal necessity surely there must be some justification for keeping three liters of mouthwash on hand, and if I ever think of one, I'll let you know and get myself through the checkout line. There were still errands to run, but I got back into my car and drove home, still shivering. Is this some kind of delayed reaction to yesterday's test results? And if so, why? Two polyps do not a death sentence make.
For the time being, I'm operating under the assumption that subconsciously I'm scared to death of the biopsy results (which, in public at least, I have been shrugging off), and the fear is floating upward into my conscious area without any identification. This may be a lot to assume, but it does seem to account for my bleaker-than-usual mood.
At least I can eat.
Somewhat better today. I'm still a bit queasy, and I am sleeping a whole lot at odd hours. Then again, any drug that can knock me out in 45 seconds probably takes a while to wear off.
In the meantime, turn it up to 11! Spinal Tap (and when can we get a new ISO-approved character set to put the ümläuts in the right place?) has set up a place to download a new song on MP3, and has the cheek to call it Tapster, which is absolutely not to be confused with the existing site called Tapster.com, which offers the following sage advice:
"Although you will find quite a few recipes for alcohol on this web site, I would like to discourage you from drinking if you are under age. You will have plenty of time once you reach the legal drinking age in your home state to kill as many brain cells as you would like."
I made it to the grocery store without incident, except for that painful part where I had to sign the check. I really need a nap.
Thinking back, I think the longest I ever blew off a traffic ticket was 29 days in 1980. My daughter has apparently exceeded this figure by a factor of ten or twelve, which means that Missouri roads will be marginally safer for a brief period while the Department of Incomprehensible Interchanges and Expansion Joints over in Jeff City suspends her license.
Mazda's first print ad for the Tribute shows the new buggy flanked by two braces of MX-5 Miatae, and the text starts out: "What if an SUV were raised by a family of sports cars?" Admittedly, "an SUV" tends to look funny, even though that's exactly the way you'd say it if you read S, U and V as individual letters, but the real thrill is "were". Subjunctive. Condition not necessarily dependent upon, and possibly contrary to, fact. It's almost enough to make you fall in love with an English teacher.
Two-hour crying jag last night. I'd like to say that this is very unlike me, but at the moment, I don't think I could make a convincing case for it, and at best, it would wind up being an audition for Whining Kvetch Site of the Day, an honour I dream not of.
It's becoming distressingly apparent that my tenuous grip on emotional stability is unraveling at a high rate of speed, and there seems to be little or nothing I can do about it other than to pretend it really isn't happening and go do something else. Sooner or later, I'm going to run out of something-elses to do. Then what?
I still feel like I've been kicked in the heart, but at least I've been busy on a research project of sorts, which will be posted Tuesday morning under the auspices of The Vent. Some of it was downright rollicking good fun, and I definitely need some more of that.
The denizens of my usual chat haunt are up in arms over Yet Another Change. Finally, the powers that be are getting around to putting up a proper standard-IRC server, and the grotesque all-inclusive communications software they've been using will be reduced to a simple IM tool, while the users will be gently prodded to adopt a generic IRC client like mIRC. But these people will not be prodded, gently or otherwise, and I seriously doubt that the management, which has handed out free software all these years, will spring for a proper shareware registration for the new clients. (My copy of mIRC is, in fact, bought and paid for, but I wouldn't mind having the network pick up part of the price not that I'm going to hold my breath waiting for them to do so.)
So now it's just Live with Regis. If nothing else, Gelman is probably snickering in the wings.
It's always been my understanding that a single LP album, with proper inner sleeve, weighs around 14 ounces. If you want to know what a couple hundred of them weigh, you'll have to ask my car, and she's probably in no mood to discuss it.
For some inscrutable reason, we've been getting nice weather lately perhaps because all the really crummy stuff is affecting points to the east and northeast. And this despite scoring double the normal rainfall for the second month in a row. I don't think even Al Gore can explain this one.
| Copyright © 2000 by Charles G. Hill