Blithering logo

log entries
September 2000


 

Friday, 1 September 2000, 6:35 pm

One hundred six! (Forty-one Celsius; it doesn't help.) And it's supposed to get warmer over the weekend. Water pressure isn't suffering — yet.

As per the newish corporate policy, we will not be laboring on Labor Day. Does this mean we'll have to do five days' work in four days? Judging by the schedule, it means we'll have to do eight days' work in four days. (Actually, it will likely spill over into a fifth day — Saturday, which will insure that everyone is thoroughly pissed; weekends, apparently, were made for micturition.)

My apprehension level, never exactly low, has been on the upswing lately. Something's about to happen.

Saturday, 2 September 2000, 4:45 pm

I quit counting at 108; if it got any warmer than that, I don't want to know about it.

The local Mazda store had exactly one copy of the hotly-hyped Tribute this morning, in LX-V6 trim. It was nice enough, in that bland Ford sort of way, although the huge plastic wand passing itself off as a shift lever was a bit offputting. I didn't actually get around to driving it, and there's always the question of whether they'll let it leave the area shod with those Firestone tires. Besides, I wanted to see if they had a 2001 626 yet. They didn't.

The other thing I noticed on this trip was how the balance of useful information to pretty pictures in automotive brochures seems to be shifting in the wrong direction. The '93 ad piece for the 626 contains such useful information as cylinder dimensions (bore and stroke), the gear ratios for all transmission combinations, and the actual wheel size (6.0JJ-14, in my case). None of these is mentioned in the 2000 brochure, though they found room for ten pictures of the front end, one for each exterior color — a matter handled in the earlier book in one-fourth the space. If you're reading this, Charlie Hughes, I beg you — get something more than stale ad copy into these brochures.

Sunday, 3 September 2000, 5:40 pm

What kind of bizarre recipe is Mother Nature following here? "Preheat to 100-plus, then bake for weeks at a time." I suppose we should be grateful we aren't being marinated. Meanwhile, all the moisture we're supposed to be getting is falling on people who are already sick of it.

I finally dropped out of five-star status at WHquestion, after two successive incidents where I gave perfectly sensible answers which were summarily rejected by the askers without any reasons given. And they say cyberspace is nothing like real life.

Monday, 4 September 2000, 5:30 pm

This being Labor Day in the US, I put forth as little labor as I possibly could. And while so doing, I happened across some music video show on what they call Country Music Television, and after listening to a bunch of thrushes named Shania and Martina and what have you, it's perfectly clear that instead of Bob Wills and Kitty Wells, Nashville's heroes today are Bert Kaempfert and Carly Simon. Suddenly I understand how Andy Williams is making it big in Branson.

The temperature dipped to a frosty 106 today, and there were actual signs of rain scattered around the eastern fringes, but nothing close to the Big Town. The worst, at least, seems to be over — until, of course, we start importing air from Canada's Northwest Territories, which will start some time in the next sixty days.

Saturday, 5 August 2000, 7:15 pm

Nice little barb in Jim Hightower's newsletter this month:

"One real difference between the conventions was that the GOP was flagrant about the corporate prostitution they engaged in, while the Democrats simply pretended they were running an escort service."

The Democrats also seem interested in running a Journalists' Anti-Defamation League; consider the amazing speed with which the knees of the Gore campaign staff jerked into position after George W. was overheard characterizing a New York Times reporter in, er, unflattering terms. Of course, these are, by and large, the same Democrats who pilloried the media while the President was getting routinely reamed in the news. Maybe an escort service is too good for 'em.

The temperature today inexplicably failed to make it into the triple digits today, and may fail to do so again tomorrow. I guess this month isn't a total loss after all.

Wednesday, 6 September 2000, 5:55 pm

As the weather shifts back into a more normal sort of pattern — it now feels like August in Oklahoma instead of July in Senegal — I can now concentrate on all the other things that annoy me no end. For one thing, I had another printer failure at work, and what's worse, it was during a 4500-page run. Herr Generaldirektor has made noises about replacing this little jewel; I need to remind him of that tomorrow morning.

The powers that be have dropped a few extra coins in my pay packet, for which I am grateful; then again, the taxman will enjoy this at least as much as I will. And while I'm still a long way from being wealthy, or even reasonably well-off, the Vice President would rather target his tax cuts at someone likely to vote for him.

Thursday, 7 September 2000, 6:55 pm

Have you ever said to yourself, "Geez, that's a fascinating ad, and I really ought to visit their Web site, but it's just too much trouble to type in the URL, y'know?"

Me either. But assuming that sofa spuds of this sort do exist, something called DigitalConvergence.com has introduced something called :Cue:C.A.T., which looks like a sex toy from somewhere in the Delta Quadrant, but is actually a wand which some day can be waved over bar codes and UPC codes and dump you on the Web site of the provider thereof. Accompanying this little marketroid contraption is software called :C.R.Q., which will enable it to work with TV, radio, CD or DVD ads (are you barfing yet?) just as easily. Some tubers tethered to the Barcalounger will love it; me, I give these guys a solid four on the Dante scale. Why they sent me this damned thing, I have no idea.

It looks like I'll be working all day Saturday — as usual, a three-day weekend is followed by a one-day weekend. I do hope the people who were whining for more holidays are happy.

Friday, 8 September 2000, 8:00 pm

Some Friday. The normal ten-hour shift I pulled today, I'm going to have to pull tomorrow as well. And, lucky me, new folks are moving into the flat above me, even as I speak, so getting enough sleep to face the new day is completely out of the question. Where's a caressing soul when you need one?

And remember all that heat? I got my first triple-digit electric bill in years. I'm on yearly averaging, so it's not like I have to peel off a C-note this week, but it was still something of a shock.

Saturday, 9 September 2000, 4:50 pm

A genuinely depressing day, as though I needed any more such. Undoubtedly the powers that be will reckon it a success, which is even more depressing. I am really starting to wonder if this is truly the final downward spiral.

Of course, injury to the spirit is always, it seems, accompanied by insults to the mind, and two of them showed up here today. One was an email ostensibly from <postmaster@mos.com>, advising me of "Mail Undeliverable". Well, I've had mail bounce before, and I know what a bounce message looks like, and it doesn't look like this. Nor do bounce messages normally come with URLs in numerical format that don't resolve through a DNS reverse lookup. Whoever this http://207.192.98.100 is, it's not mos.com, which is a little company in El Paso, Texas, on the oddly-named "Espana Lane", which seems like it ought to have a tilde over the N.

Also tilde-free was this curious notice printed on a bank statement: PARA ESPANOL, LLAME AL 1-888-BANK-ONE (226-5663). Well, okay, but if you're pitching the service to the Latino community, why spell out the name in English?

Sunday, 10 September 2000, 4:55 pm

From somewhere in the bowels of the earth, or possibly Texas, the office of the Summer Heat Demon declares, "HA! You can't get rid of me that easily!" And with temperatures back up to 101 today, and more of the same tomorrow, the Demon apparently speaks truth — a concept foreign to Governor Keating, whose sole response to all of this, apart from the usual hat-in-hand grubbing to the Feds for disaster relief, was to proclaim a statewide Pray for Rain Day.

Meanwhile, the Demon himself, who was actually over at God's place watching the NFL on the Really Big Screen, nudged El Supremo a couple of times in the ribs, and chortled, "Do you believe these damned Okies?"

God took another sip of ice water — in some spiritual circles, a luxury — smiled, and said, "Well, they're not all damned. Trust me."

"You got that right," the Demon agreed. "Now, about those Cowboys...."

Monday, 11 September 2000, 6:15 pm

At approximately 10:05 this morning, I found myself suddenly unsteady on my feet.

At 10:08, I found myself in my chair.

What happened during those three minutes is anybody's guess, but I'm assuming that the combination of high stress, hard work, hellish temperatures (it was already over 90 by this time, and 105 was the eventual high) and perennially low morale caused a great many mental functions to shut down — something that has occurred sporadically since the early Eighties.

At the moment, I'm not even sure I'm glad I came out of it.

Tuesday, 12 September 2000, 7:30 pm

Does egg on your face figure into your cholesterol count? If so, the local weather guys are going to have arteries clogged worse than I-235. "Partly cloudy and 82," indeed. Try hot and sticky and 95. And we're still precipitationally challenged — not as badly as Dallas, but then most things are worse in Dallas. (At least, that's what they say in Fort Worth.)

While the New Guys (if guys they be) upstairs haven't made any untoward noises, for which I am grateful, they have managed another kind of environmental damage — from the general texture of the air, I figure they're knocking back three packs of Marlboros a day up there. Then again, it could be worse; I could have a basement full of PCBs.

Wednesday, 13 September 2000, 7:40 pm

According to Big Blue, our server should be able to survive operation at a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a good thing, since the air conditioning failed today and when I finally left it was somewhere in the middle 80s. (Inside, that is; outside, it was 95 again.) Presumably the Gods of Freon® will show up to fix the damned thing before it gets overwarm.

Last night, I wrote out a check for the 24th of 48 car payments; today, a couple of plastic pieces decided they weren't going to work anymore. The Fates are truly malevolent.

Thursday, 14 September 2000, 5:25 pm

Two guys from the property-management office corralled me as I pulled into the parking lot and announced that they were bearing bad news: someone had kicked in my front door.

It was a pretty efficient kick, given the size of the deadbolt; the jamb was nicely splintered. The perp's efficiency, however, stopped there; not only did he overlook the camera hanging right beside the door, he didn't get much of anything other than frustration. I calculate my losses at $3.25, from a dish of quarters I was saving up for laundry, and about five minutes' time to tidy up. The onsite staff will take care of the repairs. Still, this is a frightening sort of thing to contemplate just the same — suppose this dirtball had been interested in something other than ready cash?

Friday, 15 September 2000, 4:10 pm

You may catch more flies with honey, but it's vinegar that gets their attention, and it took a couple of bottles of the stuff to persuade the landlord that it wasn't just a superficial wound to the door sill — it is actually possible to extend the deadbolt (which, despite its humongous diameter, now looks like it's suffering from Peyronie's disease) fully and still open the door. As I type, repairs of a sort are in progress.

Didn't even make 90 degrees today, and here I am, stuck inside.

Saturday, 16 September 2000, 12:10 am

Last night I had a major case of the chills, perhaps brought on by crime-related stress. I am always amazed when my haphazard treatment for same — chug a quart of orange juice, disrobe, and hide under two blankets for a period not to exceed three hours — actually seems to work.

My daughter is coming down from the City of the Big Shoulder Roasts this weekend, so I can get a first-hand look at whatever new automotive excrescence she's acquired. At least it's paid for, which is more than the old man can claim for his little buggy.

Saturday, 16 September 2000, 8:05 pm

"Paranoia strikes deep," observed Mr. Stills, and while I did manage to leave the premises today for a couple of trips, both times I was just this side of horribly creeped out, wondering if I was going to be the victim of a second (and this time, more efficient) burglary. How long is this going to persist?

Sunday, 17 September 2000, 6:20 pm

So about twelve-thirty, daughter, SO and child wandered into the premises, and they looked almost disgustingly happy, perhaps because the new wheels — '86 Honda Accord, 5-speed, the color of a Teflon® saucepan coating — didn't fail them during their 380-mile trip. (Grateful am I for children who can drive a stick.) To my horror, daughter found an old photo album, covering my proto-geek period (roughly spring of '55, my last days of Actual Cuteness, to the summer of '69, when I went full-tilt into nerddom, complete with pocket protector and horn-rims). As for my grandson, he's managing to take two or three steps now before dropping back to earth, and there is apparently no greater source of delight to him than a cell-phone antenna.

And the travelers were happy to tip me off to a cheeky promotion run by Kansas City radio station KQRC, which presumably needs more support.

Monday, 18 September 2000, 5:45 pm

It's like the whole state has been doused with Arrid Extra Dry. The temperature dropped to an unseasonably-cool 52 degrees this morning, but the dew point was somewhere in the thirties, and stayed there this afternoon while the hot wind blew in from somewhere this side of Guatemala. The result was a not-that-hot 93 degrees for a high — and when's the last time you saw a 41-degree spread like that? — and a relative humidity in the 15-percent range. There's no point even spitting on the ground.

I let it be known to one of the landlord's minions that supernatural events in mass quantities would have to take place before I'd consider signing another lease on this little hovel, and was met with thundering indifference. Then again, I've been here thirteen years, longer than the last three managements combined — so why should they care? They'll move on to something else before long. And, let it be said again, so will I.

Tuesday, 19 September 2000, 6:45 pm

The new wheels, apparently, came with a time bomb. My daughter reported last night that the water pump on her Accord was weeping green stuff — and not clean green stuff, either. At least this will take care of the niggling question of "When was the timing belt last changed on this thing?"; any mechanic worth his Snap-ons will likely suggest doing the belt along with the water pump, since the additional labor is essentially nil.

You have to feel for Dallas sometimes. They got a fair amount of rain over the weekend — but none of it fell at the official weather station at DFW airport, so the drought record continues to ratchet upwards. Our best hope looks like Friday.

Tuesday, 19 September 2000, 10:00 pm

A friend of mine — you may have read about the old geezer here—has been taken ill, which disturbs me greatly. Normally I would request prayers, or the equivalent thereof in your particular mythos, but the last time we had a massive prayer request out here in Dustbury, it was the governor's idea to beseech the heavens for rain, and not only did we get no rain, but we got temperatures even higher than they had been, so thank you kindly, but we'll pass. Besides, if he ever thought he had been saved by divine intervention, he'd probably shoot himself out of sheer orneriness.

Wednesday, 20 September 2000, 6:05 pm

What a day. After seemingly endless 30-mph winds out of the south, we got abruptly shifted to 30-mph winds out of the north, which did bring temperatures down substantially but didn't bring any rain. And speaking of hot air, today's email brought yet another variation on the World Currency Cartel theme, demonstrating once again that opportunities come and opportunities go, but scams are forever.

Thursday, 21 September 2000, 5:35 pm

I had just turned off the, um, main artery when I drove into a roiling river of red: Oklahoma clay being washed down the street, around the corner, and into a parking lot by the runoff from a broken water main. (No, the drought isn't over. Yet.) Even the street urchins, notable mostly for synthetic attitude, were keeping a respectful distance from the flow.

And speaking of flow, the temporary spike in crude oil prices hasn't shut off anyone's gas pumps yet, so why in the world is Al Gore wanting to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Is he that hard up for an issue?

Friday, 22 September 2000, 7:45 pm

Keep your fingers (or something) crossed; we're supposed to get rain Saturday night and/or Sunday morning, for the first time since late July, and what's more, the temperatures are supposed to be dipping into the middle Forties. November, here we come.

Somebody down the block bought a '96 or '97 (it's hard to tell without looking at the VIN number, but the overchromed grille pretty much rules out anything before '96) 626. Very nice. That makes three of them at this end of the universe. Not that I had anything to say about it.

Saturday, 23 September 2000, 8:45 pm

Just after last night's entry, apparently we got some sprinkles; the dirt on my car was in a different pattern, and the automated voice at the National Weather Service claimed a whole 0.03 inches. Today, we got a cold front, and it's supposed to be bringing a lot more of it. I can hardly wait.

The new law in this state cuts the price of a license plate to $85 max — starting October first. Of course, mine expires in September, so I got to write a check for $108 today to the miserable thieves.

Sunday, 24 September 2000, 4:55 pm

The thunder rolled for much of the evening, and finally there was actual rain — almost an inch of it, though not truly of car-wash intensity. Still, we got it, and if nothing else, it's a lot easier to see the brown patches in the grass now.

My regular chat haunt, at which I will become somewhat less regular in the weeks to come, is thoroughly spooked at the prospect of having to learn actual IRC clients like mIRC and PIRCH. Then again, computer literacy is way low on many people's list of priorities, a situation I blame on endless TV advertising, which has fostered the illusion that these contraptions are supposed to be no more complicated than can openers. Still, most of them will fall into line eventually, and for those who were wearying of the chat process in the first place, this is a pretext made in heaven.

Monday, 25 September 2000, 5:30 pm

It wasn't so long ago that the temperatures were still in the triple digits. By tomorrow morning, we should be sitting in the upper 30s. Life on the Lone Prairie has its drawbacks, especially if you have some notion that climate ought to be comfy.

I definitely seem to drive faster with Lou Reed's Rock N Roll Animal on the stereo, though there's probably a limit to how many consecutive days I can play the darn thing before dropping back to the stolidity of National Public Radio.

Tuesday, 26 September 2000, 9:10 pm

Gradually, I am adjusting to the cooler mornings, though I still haven't pulled my jacket out of the closet yet. Whether this constitutes denial, I leave to the experts in such matters — though I am heartened by the fact that the lovely and talented Flame Tinselsex was willing to wear sandals on a day like this.

I really need to pick my traveling tunes more carefully. There are places through which I must travel, five days a week, where someone might not understand or appreciate the Ramones' "The KKK Took My Baby Away".

Four years of studied avoidance, and then this! A brief moment of carelessness left me talking to an actual telephone huckster this evening. All the old bile came roaring back, but I had already gone into my Pharmaceutical Mellow mode. Too bad.

Wednesday, 27 September 2000, 5:10 pm

Still searching for that ideal set of tunes to go zipping down Hwy 62 — not that you actually can zip down 62 these days, since they're repaving it in traditional piecemeal fashion, which means that everything funnels into a single lane precisely where it's the least convenient. Today's Stereo Strainer was "When Things Go Wrong", Robin Lane and the Chartbusters; "Metal Guru", T. Rex; "Be Blasé", Martha and the Muffins. It would have been even nicer if I could have heard it over the traffic; evidently 80 watts is no match for half a dozen diesels, however-many horns, and Mazda's less-than-hermetically-sealed cabin. Tomorrow I'll go back to the random afflictions of the radio.

The International Olympic Committee is learning what every American student has already found out: "zero tolerance" makes zero sense. "An ounce of image," as Dr Peter once observed, "is worth a pound of performance."

Thursday, 28 September 2000, 6:20 pm

So, now that RU-486 is finally available over here, when can we get the RU-Pentium upgrade?

And if anyone knows the identity of the "tomboy" in that Hennessy cognac ad, please don't tell me. My old ticker can only take so much. "Mix accordingly," indeed.

Friday, 29 September 2000, 5:45 pm

Do you get suspicious when the same coworker comes up with a sudden emergency production run every other Friday? I know I do.

Ford Motor Company has been planting a batch of banner ads pointing back to the official Blue Oval white paper on the Firestone debacle. Online PR has arrived, as if you didn't know.

The new movie Best In Show, concocted by Christopher Guest, will demonstrate to all and sundry that the dog-show game is populated in no small part by clueless dunderheads. With all due respect to The Artist Formerly Known As Nigel Tufnel, I must point out that some of us knew that already.

Saturday, 30 September 2000, 1:40 am

One thing led to another last night, and then another, and eventually I wound up in bed, having missed my usual dose of Ativan. The payback was swift and severe. For openers, there was the nightmare, even stranger than usual; imagine The Leech Woman with a canine cast. Add a case of the sweats, and a heart ready to pound its way out of the body entirely. And top it off with a question none too rhetorical: "If you're taking a drug for maintenance, does it really matter if you're addicted to it?"

Overall, I suppose I'm in good company, and I'm not really worried about an supply interruption, and I suspect that almost anything, even a drug dependency, is better than a succession of panic attacks. Still, I remember being very concerned when I was told that because of my hypertension, I would likely be taking a drug every day for the rest of my life. Now it appears I will be taking two. This is scary indeed.

 


 | Copyright © 2000 by Charles G. Hill