Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Talk about a bad hair day

Do you suppose anyone had the guts to tell Condi that her hair looked just like Darth Vader's helmet? Maybe someone just did, which would explain the look on her face. I bet if this came with audio, we'd hear that very minion gasping for breath as their bronchia was being crushed by the dark side of the force.
A comment on comments.

I love it when anyone comments on a post of mine - even the snarky ones that take me to task for a political view, or correct an erroneous statement (one incident lead to the corrector forming her own blog, which rocks), so I don't want to make it any harder than it has to be.

Here comes the big but...

I have been getting so much comment spam for milfs and truck rallies and other crap, and it pisses me off. (Do these folks really think a single person is going to give money to them when they use such tactics?)

Therefore, Blogger has this neat feature where you have to enter a verification code when posting a comment, which means they'll show you a series of letters that look like something the caterpillar blows out of his hookah at Alice, and you just have to type them in. It's one extra step. Yes, it's an additional pain in the ass. Yes, I deeply apologize.

Keep the comments coming, though. Most humble thanks in advance.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Miscellany, Mid-October 2005

Sometimes life presents brief interludes that bear resemblance to that particular rollercoaster ride somewhere in your late 30s to early 40s where you realize that you don't enjoy rollercoasters anymore. That is to say, there are stretches where you think, "I'm too old for this crap," but like the rollercoaster ride, all you can do for now is hold on and try not to puke.

I think one of the most brilliant verses in all of pop music that describe this state come from Paul Simon's "The Obvious Child":

I'm accustomed to a smoother ride,
Or maybe I'm a dog who's lost his bite,
I don't expect to be treated like a fool no more,
I don't expect to sleep through the night.

Yeah, man.

It's been a while since I've posted because of insanity at work, being out of town, finding myself trapped in software training classes, having all my girls sick, and a big yearly party that involves a Martha Stewart level of preparation (not including the prison time).

Work has been so ridiculous that for a while now that I experience regular contemplations on the meaning of life. For fear of being Dooced and to spare you the boredom, I'm not going into details. Let's just say it's a lot like the parrot sketch of "Monty Python's Flying Circus," because it's far beyond the absurdities of Office Space. Yes, what we have is a deceased parrot. Now if the shopowner would acknowledge that, we'd have something.

On the home front, gas prices have added at the very least an additional $200 to our monthly costs. So we've cancelled the cable, the newspaper, Netflix, and other little services that have accumulated into quite the cumulative bill over the years. Cable was over $40! This, over an infrastructure (network) that has been established for years (so they had to have recouped those costs by now), that has the temerity to put shopping and evangelical shows on over a third of the channels. Buh bye. The Denver paper does this insidious upsell crap, where we originally just got the Sunday paper, but then they offered the weekend for free, only to start charging us for it a few months later when they promised not to, then did the same thing with the weekdays to where the bill was eventually HUGE. Gone, baby. (Reporters haven't been doing their jobs anyway.) Netflix was great and I recommend it, but my local library has over 2/3 of the same stuff for outright free. Can't beat that. Aloha Netflix, I'll miss you. So, we evened out the car gas bills. However, the local power monopoly is doubling natural gas prices yet again this winter (just because they can, there's no shortage), so that'll probably be another $1,000 we'll have to find somewhere. Here's to anti-gouging legislation.

Our co-pays went up to $30 just to see our primary care physician, so of course everyone promptly got sick. And they had to visit twice because the doc said the first time, "Doesn't look that bad. Bring her back if it gets worse." Lovely.

So, with this free-floating angst, I boarded a plane to a conference in Portland, Oregon. (Motto: "Gayer than San Francisco!" Think I'm kidding? Check out the visitor's website. How many cities have a special gay section on their site? Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.)

Nice city. Their public transportation system is what a public transportation system should be. The variety of restaurants was phenomenal. The one blatant blemish they have in common with San Fran is the sheer about of beggars per square foot. And since the downtown trains are free, every other ride you have some scuzzy individual working the train for handouts.

My favorite crazy person was this woman in her 50s who had a huge, white beehive wig perched atop her head, with her own grayish hair draping out the sides. The wig must've been 2 feet high, and she was probably only 5 feet herself, so it brought to mind the woman costume the aliens wore in Mars Attacks!, but much aged. Poor dear. (Unless, of course, she's being outrageous on purpose.)

Sharing the hotel with our software convention was a convention of hairdressers. Did you know they even had conventions? Neither did I. What a trip.

First of all, they have completely different social mores and rules than do your standard convention goers - that is, sales people and computer geeks. Y'see, business folks and geeks may exchange a brief pleasantry when passing someone they don't know - though most likely they won't - and that's about it. Apparently hairdressers view the world as their personal zoo. When someone they don't know walks by, they halt all conversation, and STARE at this person, heads tracking their progress. When I first encountered this, I stopped by a mirror to make sure I didn't have a boog hanging, toilet paper trailing my shoe, or some other valid reason to be gawked at like a bug in a jar. Nothing out of the ordinary with my appearance. Then another non-hairdresser strolled past, same naked stares. So in short order I got used to the folks with a single streak of some color not found in nature in their coif to drop everything and examine me like I'm boarding an aircraft wearing a turban with fuses hanging off the backs of my shoes. I also found out that if you returned the gape grope, they got a little offended.

When they weren't giving we geeks the stink-eye, they were competing in these iron-chef-like competitions, slicing and binding out wacky hairdos in timed heats. How this applies to actual hairdressing I don't know. I mean, if I wanted my hair messed up in record time, I'd give my 9-year-old some strong cough medicine and hand her the scissors. (I kid. I don't dose the child for my amusement. Anymore.)

Funniest of all was after they checked out. I was riding the elevator down to the next session, and one of the hotel managers was holding a wighead in a bag and had a bemused look on her face. I asked her what was up, and she said many of the hairdressers had left behind their mannequin heads, and guests were happening upon them in closets and such, so the hotel staff was having to sweep the rooms to ensure new guests didn't drop dead of a heart attack. You can't make this stuff up.

On the flight back home, I took solace in the fact that I was on a model of plane that so far had only one crash to it's reputation, and it wasn't due to mechanical failure, and it didn't explode into a fireball when it did finally have its terrain conflict. I walk into my house only to see that exact model of plane circling LA because the front landing gear didn't deploy correctly, and was seized with retroactive scrotum tightening.

But that weekend I segued into the yearly chili cookoff held by some good friends, and I won second place! (First place going to the chef on our block, as always.) My secrets: Grill up pork chops liberally sprinkled with chili powder and cumin, cut to preferred size, put it slowcooker with chicken stock and let it cook for an hour or so. Chop (all fresh) one onion, one green pepper, on chili pepper and one jalapeno and saute all for 10 minutes, add to pot. Once those have cooked for a while, add 1 can green chilis, 1 can chili beans (drained), 2 cans black beans (whole can including sauce), 1 can diced tomatoes, and 1/2 bag of frozen white corn. Add 1 tablespoon each chili powder and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook as long as needed. Enjoy.

So I came off the weekend with that success only to watch a movie I'd been avoiding, with good reason it turns out: Wit. I generally avoid cancer movies, because the inevitable slide into death is invariably romanticized, and dearhearts there's nothing romantic about it at all. It hurts and then you die; I've seen that up close and personal. But Wit stars the wonderful Emma Thompson, who collaborated with usually great Mike Nichols, and the reviews are universally positive. Well, just goes to show ya, everyone's a sucker sometimes. It's yer standard romantic reflections punctuated with vomiting and visits by the doctors, then she dies. (If you consider that a spoiler, most humble apologies. But if you see a movie with "Batman" in the title, except to see a guy in a batsuit, k?) I'm not sure what others might get by watching someone die a horrible death whilst dispensing bon mots, but it does nothing for me other than harsh my buzz.

But, things have leveled out for the most part. The coaster rides seems to have returned to the starting line for now, so I'll leave you with interesting things I've happened upon while surfing lately.

- The 2Blowhards linked to, get this, a Vegan BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, and Sado-Masochism) site. Let's think this through ... it's immoral to exploit any animal for our use, even to the point where taking milk is exploitation because the cow (or goat) can't give its consent, but you can whip the snot out of a fellow human being within an inch of his or her life for erotic jollies. (Guess it hinges on that consent thing.) I walked around giggling about this for two days.

- Via Firefox's cool "StumbleUpon" extension, found this wild thang. If you've got a good set of speakers on your unit, turn it up.

- Also via "StumbleUpon", found a compendium of factoids.

- Since James is a rightie and I'm a leftie, his screeds usually just fill me with weltschmerz. This one I can get behind.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My People

I hail from the Dakotas/Minnesota area of the nation, and the other day I came upon a joke about my people. What's so funny is that if this were true, it would've happened just like this:

Swedes to the Rescue

One dark night outside a small town in Minnesota, a fire started inside the local chemical plant and in a blink of an eye it exploded into massive flames. The alarm went out to all the fire departments for miles around.

When the volunteer fire fighters appeared on the scene, the chemical company president rushed to the fire chief and said, "All our secret formulas are in a vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved. I will give $50,000 to the fire department that brings them out intact.

But the roaring flames held the firefighters off. Soon more fire departments had to be called in as the situation became desperate. As the firemen arrived, the president shouted out that the offer was now $100,000 to the fire department who could bring out the company's secret files.

From a distance, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight. It was the nearby Swedish Rural Township Volunteer Fire Company, composed mainly of Swedes over the age of 65. To everyone's amazement, that little run-down fire engine roared right past all the newer sleek engines that were parked outside the plant. Without even slowing down, it drove straight into the middle of the inferno.

Outside, the other firemen watched as the Swedish old timers jumped right off in the middle of the fire and fought it back on all sides. It was a performance and effort never seen before.

Within a short time, the Swedish old timers had extinguished the fire and had saved the secret formulas. The grateful chemical company president announced that for such a superhuman feat he was upping the reward to $200,000, and walked over to personally thank each of the brave fire fighters.

The local TV news reporter rushed in to capture the event on film, asking their chief, "What are you going to do with all that money?"

"Vell," said Ole Larson, the 70-year-old fire chief, "Da first thing ve gonna do is fix da brakes on dat damn truck!"