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    My kids are awesome. We were discussing a television show, and I made this comment:

    "I would've just maced him by now."

    I was thinking, "pepper spray." My kids, however, were thinking, "Medieval weaponry."

    Death of the Hyphen

    I have noticed a trend in professionally-written language, and that is the omission of the hyphen. Laziness has caused most editors and editting software to just give up on it. Unfortunately, that causes some of us grammar nazis to have to read a sentence twice or more to fully gauge the sentence's true meaning. The only thing more irritating is the improper use of the apostrophe, but that's another rant.

    Back to my beloved and apparently deceased hyphen!

    Consider this little tidbit: New age tool.

    What does that mean? Is there some new weapon in the fight against aging? Actually, the answer is Deepak Chopra. Seriously. So, Deepak Chopra can help me look younger, longer? Sadly, no; however, you would not know that from the Fark headline I just read.

    The actual sentence: "Deepak Chopra: new age tool, or EPIC new age tool?"

    Including the hyphen that used to belong to "new-age" would have made this a good laugh, but alas--ear wax. The hyphen is now being left out of previously-hyphenated words at an alarming rate, causing responsible writers like me to actually struggle with reading. Well, not so much reading per se as not bashing our e-readers against our skulls in frustration.

    I think it's pretty dreadful that some people are concerned that immigrants are not learning our language when there are so many shameful examples of born-and-bred citizens who don't even grasp the basic grammatical principles of their own language.


    A parent is often mistaken for a parrot. Around my house, an oft-repeated mantra is "When the fat girl steps on things, things get broken," which of course means that if your things are left lying on the floor and Big Mama stumbles over them, they will get destroyed.

    Big Mama also regularly feels like a nag, especially when it comes to electronics. One of these days, I do believe I will smack The Boy right upside his cranium because he "borrows" my computer and downloads crap onto the desktop rather than directly onto his thumb drive. I also can't begin to count the number of times I've had to nuke a hard drive and reload Windows because nobody but me updates virus protection.

    This last week, I had the pleasure of not only blending those two facets of my existence into reality, but also to demonstrate the truth behind the words. From the moment it was unpacked, I repeated over the course of several days, "Mister, don't leave your laptop lying flat on the floor. If it gets stepped on/If I step on it..." yada yada yada.

    And so, Thursday evening, in a search for something else, I stumbled over a toy left on the floor and stepped on the corner of his laptop, the very same laptop for which I stood in line in a store I don't particularly like in order to get a very good bargain, and I hear a sharp, "Crack!"

    I instantly transform into Sailor Swears, but, being in a rush, I didn't check it and promptly forgot about it. The following night, Mister reports that his LCD screen is definitely cracked. I honestly don't think I've ever peppered my speech with so many f-words in so many languages. After inspecting the unit myself, it is still usable but would benefit from a new screen.

    I just priced a new screen. Mister can bite my butt.

    Days Like These

    On a whimsy, we decided to drive two hours to Atlanta in order to visit a 'family' cemetery that was described as the centerpiece of the parking lot for a Walmart store, and then we went to a Persian restaurant to spend over $100 on kabobs and stew for dinner.

    The 'family' part is that the people buried in the cemetery may be long-distant relatives of Mister's. It is in fact part of a parking lot, but it's actually cut off from the main Walmart parking lot and is instead off to far front corner.

    The dinner was a quick hop a few exits up the beltway, and was extremely delicious. I didn't even like what I ordered but its yumminess was still begging me to eat it, and so I did. Even my non-adventurous girls were stuffing themselves.

    How was your day?

    Stay on target!

    When the monkeys were younger, my problem with Christmas shopping was never what to get them but when to stop buying for them. I was mindful of not spoiling them; people who get everything they want inevitably suffer a decline in ambition.

    Now that the monkeys are teenagers, I am almost at a complete loss.

    They are in possession of portable entertainment devices. Our home also has a video game console, albeit not the one The Boy preferred. While they always have fun with the Smithsonian products I place under the tree, it's kinda boring to only get "educational" stuff as gifts.

    Rock Band will be purchased, but as a "family" gift. Every year we also get movies and games (table and video) for the family. Individual gifts, however, are what stump me this year.

    The Girl is an artist. She loves to paint and sketch. She also plays the flute, although I never hear her practicing anything. However, it's not her entire life. She also wastes an inordinate amount of her free time playing MMORPGs. Okay, she plays just one. She regularly spends her own cash money to buy virtual crap for her avatar even though gameplay is free.

    The Boy loves computers and video games. He also plays an MMORPG, and exchanges labor for paid gameplay. He has a blog about video games. He will talk you into a coma about video games--you'll be like that guy on Airplane! who douses himself with gasoline and lights a match before Ted Striker is asked to fly the plane.

    The Baby loves her Webkinz brand stuffed animals, but she really has way too many stuffed animals altogether. She is also an origami prodigy. You should see her miniature dragon. The full-size is hard enough to fold, but her mini is a perfect rendition and it's only one inch long. She's really artsy-craftsy, and enjoys learning new skills. Oh, and here's a surprise--she also has a favorite MMORPG, but it's Webkinz-related.

    I had considered just purchasing each kid a brand new laptop, thereby allowing us to declutter the dining room, but several clever friends pointed out that laptops are non-repairable by DIY enthusiasts like me, and they get dropped/damaged on a regular basis. Plus, since they travel, they might very well end up in bedrooms, which is not allowed in my house. Instead I will upgrade the desktops we have and redesign my office space to create a more open look, replacing the hulking armoire-style cabinets.

    I don't want to wimp out and just hand them all cash this year, but I'm stuck in a vacuum and just can't think of anything. I also don't want to spoil them or spend a metric assload of money.



    I'm watching an "old" concert on VH1 Classic channel by Queen. If I ever have any regrets in this short life, it will be that I never had an opportunity to see the band live in concert before Freddie Mercury's untimely death.

    I'll be honest: I don't think The Beatles were all that great. I feel it's more that they hit the market at the right time and then changed enough over time to remain relevant. But brilliant? I dunno. I guess if you call writing music and lyrics whilst stoned "brilliant," then I'll have to give you that, albeit unwillingly. I will admit to being a rather big fan of "Octopus's Garden" and "Yellow Submarine." I'm sure if there were others that I liked, I could name them, but alas. Ear wax.

    But Queen... They were just awesome. Every song had butt-kicking music, some had silly lyrics, some songs were heart-breakingly sad, all were singable. Their multi-talented front-man presented himself in the gayest way possible but rocked so hard that most fans just said "meh" and carried on regardless.

    At any rate, you have to admit that a guy who can seriously compare feeling in love to wiggling like a jellyfish in a rock song is pretty awesome.

    Things seen at high school football games

    Possible answers:

    • Crack, as in butt-crack
    • Inappropriate t-shirts worn by band chaperones
    • Hurling, as in lunch, especially when it's too humid to be outdoors
    • Gang fights and tasering
    • Arrests

    The crack episode involves a spectator who is either addicted to tanning or really well over 40 but likes to dress as a teenager. Early in the season, after the national anthem was played, I spotted her as she bent over to fuss with a small child. The waistband of her thong panties clearly showed over the top of her skinny jeans. Add to that her tank top, zip-up skinny jacket, ball cap, and big hoop earrings, and we've got a woman who is refusing to act her age and embarrassing herself in the process.

    A couple of weeks ago, a band chaperone was wearing a black, form-fitting tank top that had a big pink-ribbon logo on the front and read "celebrate ta-tas." As if that wasn't bad enough, "ta-tas" was about six inches tall and positioned directly over her breasts.

    Yesterday was surprisingly humid after a week of cooler weather. Normal operating procedures have the band kids scattering after school to scarf down food. Most go home while some find fast-food. Yesterday was no different. Skip to the half-time, where the band is free to use the concession stand. One student didn't make it; the humidity was too much and he was sick to his stomach. Worse--his parents did not attend that game, an away game in a run-down neighborhood.

    As a chaperone, I like to be last out of the stands to make sure we've got everyone. Last night was no different. As I was walking from the gate to the area where the buses were located, I noticed a group of youths walking with a sense of purpose from across the street into a grassy area located between the gate and me. There was lots of yelling going on, so I looked behind me and saw a second, similar-sized group of youths walking with a sense of purpose from the gate area into the same grassy area. Fighting commenced immediately; however, the police were rigth on top of things. Within moments I heard the sound of a Taser being fired. I looked back and saw a young man squirming on the ground. I announced that we needed to get out of there as fast as possible.

    We arrived at the buses only to discover police at our end, too. Some "locals" decided to try to get onto the buses, and were being arrested for trespass. We were encouraged to board the buses as quickly as possible and then shut the doors.

    Where were we? Downtown Augusta, at a school known for its quality educational program for "gifted" students.

    no chinchilla

    For the last two years, I have managed to average one post every three-ish days for a total of 100 posts annually. This year is nearly done and I have only managed 45 posts.

    I don't believe there has been less to talk about; I think it's more a matter of motivation. I haven't been too motivated to post to my blog, and feel that maybe I have let you down. The Pittsburg Pirates still blow. People hopped up on drugs still do stupid stuff. Our government may have "changed the guard" but still has its head up its butt.

    The only thing I can really report with any newness is that I am helping a gay man design and sew a Halloween costume, and while there will be neither Bedazzling nor fur or feathers, he is most excited.

    oh the huge manatee

    I love irony. Thanks to Fark.com, I can share this little tidbit:

    "Yes, true change has come. Toby 'put a boot up your ass' Keith to perform at Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo"

    The article goes on to list other artists who will be performing live at the concert. Fark's headline, however, is too awesome to pass by unmentioned.


    Here's a quote you never expected to read, ever:

    "This is believed to be the first time that a civilian has been killed by a box of public information leaflets."

    Thanks, TimesOnline, for making me laugh at something sad, you evil bastards.

    Light's Out!

    "The Guiding Light," a daytime soap opera, is going off the air after 72 years. It was one of my beloved grandmother's "shows," and one of the odd ways I've always felt a connection to her, even after her death. And now, just like my sweet grandmother, it, too, will be gone.

    My grandmother's house is an oddity. Normally one would enter the house from the front porch and then walk through a sitting room and living room to enter the dining room, kitchen and then bathroom. However, the rear entry was used as a front door because that was where the driveway brought you. Everyone entered into a small 'mud room' and then directly into the dining room. The dining room itself had a huge window looking out onto the front yard, main driveway, and road.

    My grandmother never sat anywhere but in the dining room, and always at the head of the table. Within easy reach were her latest crocheting project. CB radio (they were in the sticks, and calls were expensive--heck, the area still doesn't have cellphone reception!), her typewriter, her address book and her radio.

    She did not have a television in her dining room until she bought one with a remote back when I was still in elementary school. Instead, she used a special radio which had "TV" selections, and every day she listened to "The Young and the Restless" and "The Guiding Light," in the dining room while her daughters watched "that nonsense" show, "General Hospital" in the living room. She enjoyed clucking over the misadventures of the residents of Genoa City and Springville. In between the episodes, she would make dinner, type out a letter to a friend, or polish our nails with white-out. During the shows, however, we would sit with her at the dining room table, quietly drawing or writing while the episode was played out in our imaginations in time with the radio.

    My grandmother was born before the show began, and had followed it nearly every day of her life until she died at age of 72. I think it is only fitting that if one of her favorite shows is also going to die, it should be at the ripe old age of 72.

    Expectations are down...

    ...on the realization that sometimes words don't mean what you think they mean.

    I'm shopping for a fancy dress. I'm a big girl which makes the shopping tricky. Another handicap is my attitude towards shopping in general and the mall in particular: I'd rather have my eyebrows waxed again.

    Any smart shopper is going to do a little research before heading out. I am no exception. Because of the nature of the quest, I tried to limit myself to stores normally found at the mall. I found a few examples of dresses I kind-of liked at one, and so moved on to store 2 in hopes of finding the style I think I'm into this year.

    Talk about raising an eyebrow. Now, I realize that the store is not actually a 'barn.' However, I do expect there to be some 'dresses' in it, since the damn store is called 'Dress Barn.' Inconceivable!

    Don't want to be an American idiot

    So I'm looking over some of the Facebook entries I missed during Dragon*Con, and I came across this item posted by a guy with whom I went to school:

    "I bet anybody from Germany who remembers how Hitlers Rise To POWER happened is laughing at the USA right now. Hitler plead to the children with speeches sounding soooooooo good. Just like Obama now wants to SPEAK to the children. He changed his speech when people who how to think challenged him. HE IS EVIL!!!!!!!!!!! WAKE UP AMERICA"


    *Even though he changed his speech, I called the school and told them my kids wouldn't be watching it there. They will watch it AT HOME with me!
    *i signed the permission form for paige to watch at school(6th grader)...i will watch today at home and compare notes when she gets home. she is pretty opinionated--wonder what she will think?
    *I didn't get a permission slip or anything stating if they were going to watch it. Ryan is sooooo anti-Obama though and he doesn't care who knows it!!! LMAO
    This guy and his regular followers are so "anti-Obama" I feel like maybe I never really knew some of my classmates at all. Mr. Obama's election to the presidency has encouraged them to loudly proclaim their opinions as facts, and that's fine because I'm an admirer of the Bill of Rights, but they sound more like parrots repeating the words of prominent pundits, capital letters and all.

    These "friends" of mine have never traveled outside of the USA, not even to visit Canada or Mexico. Back in school they were not interested in the events of the world ("Bangladesh? Oh, you mean the company that makes my shirts. What about it?") or in learning world history or culture. Our high school offered only one foreign language (Spanish) and only state/USA history. "Honors" English was about as close to "culture" or "world history" as it got. I really thought that would change once we became adults and could spread our wings.

    Or, maybe it's me.

    Maybe I really am a socialist-nazi-communist, as suggested by the person who wrote the last comment quoted above. Maybe I'm naive and think that the 'truthers' and 'birthers' out there are completely insane. Or maybe I've become the one who doesn't know what's going on, although I do try to stay informed.

    Growing up, it was vital that we watch the NBC evening news every night as a family. I think this was mostly because my dad was a controller, rather than that he wanted us to be smart. After all, girls don't need to be smart, just pretty.

    As an adult, I could not function without my daily dose of CNN, and later, FoxNews (although I did quit that completely after I realized that the hosts of "Fox and Friends" were total morons and that Sean Hannity was a rabid lunatic). I also watched the local news morning and night.

    I stopped watching all "world" news after Eric left for Iraq because I didn't want the kids to worry. Since then, I watch the local morning news, periodically check BBC Online for world events, or I watch the BBC World News on TV, but not regularly. This may have caused a problem.

    For one, I don't understand all the hatin' vs Obama. I fail to understand how a person can attend a Christian church for all of his life and be considered Muslim. I also don't understand how people think Obama is destroying our nation. Supposedly he's a socialist and ruining the Constitution. I would argue that Bush was a communist who did in fact ruin the Constitution with the Patriot Act and Homeland Security.

    Second, I sometimes worry that I'm raising children so completely unaware of the world at large, they are almost idiots.

    After school, I asked the kids if they watched a special show at school. I got blank stares. I added, "...a speech by the President..?" and got several oh-yeahs in return. The older two did not see it, the younger one did, in social studies class.

    I asked what she thought of it:

    Her: Thought of what?
    Me: The President's speech.
    H: Oh.
    M: Well?
    H: Well, what?
    M: GAH! What did you think of the President's speech?
    H: I guess it was okay.
    M: You "guess"?
    H: Well, I didn't really watch it.
    M: What else were you doing while it was on?
    H: Uh, I don't know. I think I drew a picture. Or maybe I was thinking about origami. I don't know.
    M: So, you don't know what he was talking about?
    H: Who was talking?
    M: ...



    For yesterday's Big Game, I bought along a snack food that I have taught myself to love in spite of its citric bite and the shock to my sensitive tooth fillings: grapes.

    We began discussing the grapes and my forced adoration because of my kidney malfunction. My fellow players knew that I did not drink alcohol but were unaware of the reason. I explained my particular kidney malfunction and said that when my kidneys fail, the amount of water I can consume will be limited, but gaining water through natural food sources is a different quality of water. Nothing holds natural water like grapes and watermelon. Grapes, I like. Watermelon, not so much.

    It also occurred to me in the tellilng that I have developed a nonchalant attitude toward my problem. I know that I am in Stage 2 of ADPKD, that my liver is already affected by the disease, and that eventually one or both organs will fail. I know that when that happens, if I survive the initial failure, I will be added to the tail of a rather long list of people in need of a kidney and/or liver transplant. My options will be severely limited, and there is no cure apart from a transplant, but why tilt at windmills? It could be worse.

    Yes, there's worse.

    A friend here at The Fort has cancer, and her family is devastated, obviously. We all are. She has children at home as well as her husband, extended family, and friends. She's trying to fight it, and we're all pulling for her in our own way.

    As much as my diagnosis was a shock to me, I already knew that ADPKD was a genetic malfunction, and that there was nothing to be done but get my body healthy in all other aspects in an attempt to prolong the inevitable. Cancer, on the other hand, is completely different. There are things that can be done in a lot of cases, but they're pretty much all frikkin' miserable treatment programs, with hair loss the best of the side effects. While some cancers are hereditary, most come out of the blue. Sometimes the cancer is very tough to beat, and sometimes it just won't quit.

    Her situation and that of Mister's friend from school have opened my eyes to the surprisingly large number of people I know who've either had cancer themselves or who have had someone close to them with cancer. It's absolutely shocking how many! It has also brought to my attention the disparity in treatment options when insurance is inadequate or unavailable as well as how some hospitals deal with that situation.

    My father's wife discovered a lump in her breast. A biopsy turned up cancer. Because she had no medical insurance, the cheaper option was to perform the double mastectomy with reconstructive plastic surgery later than to even attempt chemo/radiation.

    Luckily for my dad's wife, the oncologist who confirmed her diagnosis had staff privileges at the one hospital in the tri-state who would allow her surgery pro-bono. Well, not so much pro-bono as "we know you won't pay us, but we'll pretend we don't," and they did not refuse to treat her. A big thank-you from me to the hospital, because even though I don't like her much, she takes care of my father and I don't have to.

    I have my own problems, but they seem so small when compared to the crises of others. As much as I would love a non-surgical cure for my problem, cancer really needs it more.

    I ask for nothing

    I was raised by a family and society that expects me to be Christian of some variety. My father expects me to be of the Catholic bent, at one point encouraging "the fat one" to become a nun. Events have occurred since I became an adult which have shaken my hesitant faith into non-existence. However, to say that I am not a Christian is to suggest that I am some other thing, such as a Buddhist or Muslim. The greater truth is that "religion" is no more than a history-based mythology for me.

    Instead I believe in the power of me. Whatever I can do to make our world, our society, our friendship better, I will try. I will recycle, install solar panels and rain barrels, grow my own tomatoes, smile in the face of rudeness, listen to hurt feelings, give comfort and relief, and meet for karaoke in bar even though I neither sing nor imbibe.

    It is human nature to need something to believe in. It is my opinion that belief in oneself should be enough. However, humans are emotional and occasionally weak. A person might require belief in someone or something else in order to believe in themselves.

    For those people, the power of prayer is amazingly beneficial. When one feels helpless, "lifting" ones troubles to a god is like removing a weight off the shoulders. In the case of a dear friend slowly dying of cancer, the prayers of her friends and family not only eases their pain, but helps her feel their love for her and so calms her spirit in the face of death.

    However, some people take this prayer thing a little too far, in my opinion.

    A relation of Mister's often sends out prayer requests. They are as varied as the weather. When her granddaughter was born premature, the prayers were along those lines. Later, they shifted to prayer requests for a safe drive to/from the doctor's office and the like.

    A week or so ago, an in-law passed away. It is my understanding the the lady had lived a long, full life and was much loved. Fantastic. If only I can be so lucky! However, if I judge the requests correctly, this relation's spouse was absolutely devastated and required much praying to make through the week. Really? Am I the only person who celebrates a life well-lived? Why not pray thanks for that? She could have been beset by misfortunes, or like my friend with cancer, painfully wasted away while her small children watched, helpless.

    And now we're being asked to pray for this guy who has worked nearly 40 hours this week, with another 20-30 to go before his working week is done, so that he may have the strength to make it through. How about instead we pray our thanks that he's got a job at all, adding an additional prayer for those who are unemployed and hungry that they might find relief soon?

    Day after day, week after week, this relative posts request after request. The sheer quantity of of requests, all along the lines of gimme-gimme (give me strength, get me there safely, etc) even if for the benefit of others, makes me frown. On the one hand, it is very generous of her to be thinking so much of others. On the other hand, only one request of the dozens so far was a request for thanks to be given.

    Am I being harsh for thinking of this as very selfish and un-Christianly?

    lulz wut?

    I hate purposely-misspelled words. Hate them! For instance, the use of the word, "pak" or "pac" instead of "pack," makes me nuts!

    On the other hand, hilarious-but-innocent misspellings get me laughing and it's so much fun.

    This weekend, a teenage friend on Facebook posted the notice that he was "makin pancaks." Another comment reads, "HOLLY CRAP I JUST LOOKED AT THAT PIC AND IT SCARRED YHE HECK OUT OF ME!!! WHY THE HECK WOULD YOU PUT SUMTIN LAKE THAT WAHERE THE PUBLIC CAN SEE!!!!! hahahah jk jk but it is scurry!!"

    I laughed so hard just now, that I decided to find and join a "misspelled words" fanpage on the site.

    Yes, there are fanpages for misspelled words. There are also fanpages for "watching clouds go by" and "turning the pillow to get to the cold side."

    On the first 10 of the 225 fanpages related to misspelled words was a 43-member prayer group titled


    I'm going to let that soak in for a moment. If it weren't all so darn funny, I'd cry.

    Serious blogger is serious. Srsly.

    The "actress" Jessica Simpson is an airhead. Everyone knows this, and usually what comes out of her mouth is disregarded after some eye-rolling and/or rude giggling at her expense.

    She was recently asked if she would demand the return of a gift she had given to her ex-boyfriend, Tony Romo. Her comments pissed off many Native Americans because she said she was no "Indian-giver."

    This anger confuses me. I had always assumed "Indian-giver" was a slam against white people, because of the many treaties signed and then broken by the white settlers in North America. You see, much was given to and promised to the Native Americans ("Indians") by the whites, but much was retracted and ignored by the whites. In this respect, an "Indian-giver" is one who gives a gift only until such time as the giver wants it back. No gift is truly "given." As I read her statement, I got the impression she thinks the same way.

    Sure, she made her case worse by stating outright that she was herself an "Indian," but who knows? Perhaps she is.

    If my interpretation of the phrase is in fact incorrect, please help me. I want to be as well-informed as I can, although I haven't used that phrase since I was a child and didn't understand how words hurt people.


    Remember my birthday and the bad waiter incident?

    Turns out that had I complained, it would not have mattered. Not one little bit.

    The guy at my table who didn't get his order did complain after I left. The owner was on-site, and my friend let him know what happened. The waiter was called out on that situation, and he said in his defense that he simply didn't hear my friend give his order. The owner was satisfied with that, and quite literally shrugged the whole thing off.

    I'm sorry, but that's just ass.

    If you are in customer service, you are supposed to make eye contact with each of your clients. I know that as a waiter/server/whatever, your interaction with the clients is critical to receiving a decent tip, which might even put you over the full minimum wage if your tip is awesome enough. I fondly recall the old days when servers actually wrote down your order, noting all the special details, and then repeated the order back to you. This clown barely gave us the time of day. If he approached our table at all, it was because we rudely flagged him down.

    No, it wasn't rude of us to flag him down; he just acted like it was.

    On the other hand, the alcohol-swilling drunks out on the veranda received non-stop care and attention from the same server who ignored us all night. I guess one solution to my dilemma is to just become a public drunk.

    All I can say is that it will take a guarantee that Mr. A. Hole is not our server to get me to eat there again, and even then I will decline after I remind myself that Mr. A. Hole is supported unconditionally by his boss, Mr. WishyWashy Pants.

    We are not amused!

    Yesterday was trivia night at a local island-themed restaurant. The food is interesting, although their drinks menu is longer than their food menu.

    We always join others who regularly arrive anywhere from about 30 minutes or more ahead of us to halfway through the game. This is standard operating procedure for trivia night no matter where it's held, and the restaurant has been hosting the event for some time now. Nobody should be surprised by late-comers.

    The two who were already at our table were well into their meals when we arrived. In a series of long waits of at least ten minutes, we were offered a beverage but no menu, received our drinks and had to ask for the menu, were given the menu, and had our order taken. About 20 minutes later, our appetizer arrived, a simple dish of six shrimp in a coconut-rum sauce. A few minutes later, I actually managed to flag the server over and ask for a bread basket.

    By the time the bread arrived, our final two companions had joined the table but were completely ignored by our server until he delivered our main courses, which was about 20 minutes after the shrimp had been delivered--at least 40 minutes after ordering. Getting refills on anything that wasn't alcohol was negligent at best.

    Of the two who joined us last, one got her food, the other did not. Luckily, he wasn't billed for it, although I suspect that initially he was but then the server realized he'd never put the food order in. No apology was issued by the server at any time.

    We had the worst time trying to get his attention all night. One of us ordered fries, but the ketchup bottle we were forced to borrow from another table was absolutely empty. Another ran out of both salad dressing and cocktail sauce. Two wanted to order seconds on the peel-and-eat shrimp-by-the-piece special, but in the end had to get theirs "to go" because it was almost 9 pm when they were able to place that order. And still, one companion never got anything other than a glass of soda-pop.

    Meanwhile, there are two tables outside on the veranda where every Monday is the same group of people who sit for hours drinking alcohol and smoking cigars and cigarettes. Our server was also responsible for them, and they received prodigiously good care and attention in spite of the fact that while I was there, none of them had eaten any food. Perhaps they already had; I don't know.

    However, when it was time to hand out the checks, we could not shake this guy. He hovered around the table until each one of us had pulled out cash or card.

    And so I present this dilemma: Mister was so ticked off, he didn't want to leave a tip. I paid with cash on purpose so that my amount couldn't be changed later, and left slightly less than 10%. The owner of the restaurant stopped by our table because he is a personal friend of one of my tablemates, but none of us complained about the server.

    I didn't even know how to broach the subject. I've never had to complain about really bad service before, and couldn't start. I had hoped that one of the others would speak up, especially the guy who didn't even get the food he'd ordered. No one did. Also, I felt uncomfortable with the tip. I've never given so little, but then again, I've only once had just comically bad service from a brand-new server (which resolved itself happily and is now a running joke with my dinner friends). Last night's server, however, has been at that restaurant at least for as long as we've been going there.

    Please advise me on how best to proceed. By sheer luck I will not be returning to that particular restaurant again, but I still want to have my arsenal ready just in case this unfortunately happens again.


    I was browsing at a discount store last week and found this:

    Yes, my friends, that truly is an Inaugural Lava Lamp. It is also, in my opinion, yet another example of why the rest of the world generally disregards the United States of America.

    I'll take Insane Genius for $1000, Alex.

    Happy birthday to the late Nicola Tesla, a most magnificent genius and my first nerd crush. (Second was Carl Sagan, but that's another story for another day.)

    Too bad he was very all dead by the time I discovered his brilliance, otherwise I would have stalked him for sure.

    Self-Entitlement VS Stupidity

    A local grocery store is part of a larger shopping plaza. At one end of the building is a spur road that connects the plaza to the two main roads that it bisects. Where this spur meets the parking lot is a 4-way stop. Let's assume the plaza runs east-west.

    I was driving from the north and came to a stop as required by law. I noticed to the east a very large red SUV parked in the fire lane at the video store in the plaza. The driver's door was open, and my guess is that it was still running. Common sense told me to wait. A quick check of my rearview indicated that no one was waiting behind me.

    That hesitation on my part probably saved my car's life. The whole event was over in a matter of seconds beginning with my decision to wait.

    A well-manicured soccer-mom type bounded out of the video store, climbed quickly into the SUV, and then shot forward with no regard to the car that was legally coming up behind her in the proper lane. As she approached the intersection, she just barreled through it, not bothering to even slow down or look. She turned south, the same direction I was intending to go.

    The new car to the east sat waiting at the intersection, a look of shock on the driver's face. I caught his eye and he waved me on. I graciously waved back and followed Ms SUV through the intersection. I later watched as she rolled through the T-style intersection (with no merge spurs) to join heavy traffic on the main artery road behind the shopping plaza, headed in the same direction I needed to go.

    At the next intersection, the light turned red just as Ms SUV reached the crossing. She did not stop. Although it saddens me greatly to say this, fortunately the good people of the Asscrack of America are used to driving such as this, and no one popped out into the intersection until she had cleared it.

    Stupidity, self-absorption, or overweening sense of entitlement? I report, you decide.

    This Just In!

    The Minnesota Supreme Court has finally ruled--unanimously--that Al Franken won the election against incumbent Norm Coleman for the Senate seat.

    Congratulations, Mr. Franken. I hope you enjoy the experience, and have the opportunity to do something wonderful for the American people.

    News article courtesy of TPM/DC online, found via Fark.com

    Dear Citizens of Iran:

    I noticed that some of you are rather unhappy with the results of a recent election, and have chosen to express this displeasure publicly. Some have suggested that the election results are not honest and true. I assume that you hold on to the hope for a recount or even a new election as the result of the current activities dedicated to alerting the world of your unhappiness.

    I just just wanted to say, "Good luck! We're all counting on you."

    Warm regards,


    Born in the USA

    A certain retail chain got famous in its early days because its founder and chairman insisted on trying to find things made in the USA which were of equal quality and resale price of foreign competition. After his death, his family took over the company. These days you are hard-pressed to find anything made here in the USA for sale in the store. Most products are imported from China, specially packaged with this store's name on the box, or from other countries where a dollar-a-day wage is living large.

    Lately I've developed a little quirk in which before dropping a non-food product into my cart, I check the label for country of origin. If I can find the American-made (or in the case of pillows, American-finished) product for about the same price, I'll buy that. Sometimes I have to pay a few dollars more, but it's worth it to me. American business needs all the encouragement it can get from consumers to keep doing business, and do that business here in on US soil.

    Today I wandered into one of the 4 local stores in search of a mosquito lawn spray and replacement lawn chairs. When I saw the prices of the China-made metal chairs, I thought $22 for the cheapest folding chair was a bit steep, especially since I needed 5 of them and was planning on splashing out next spring on an awesome patio set for our new deck TBBL*.

    I opted for plastic chairs, and sighed when I saw the measly $13 price tag. "More China," I whined inside my head. As I was unloading the chairs, I started to peel the labels off before taking them to the back yard. It occurred to me that I had forgotten to check the labels, and so I did.

    And I nearly dropped the chair.

    They were nice-looking but cheap, comfy, and proudly made in the USA.


    *to be built later. Come party when it's ready!


    I want Rock Band.

    I have a Wii.

    I have been told it's tons better on the XBox360.

    I need advice!

    In all seriousness, I am concerned. I don't want to shell out for a 360 just for one game, but I don't want a miserable Rock Band experience. A friend and 360 enthusiast claimed that the download capabilities of the Wii were not good enough for RB, but was too busy playing RB to elaborate.

    My kids often play MarioKart on the Wii using the worldplay feature, and can play for hours without getting booted off the wi-fi. Does this mean that our download experience won't suck as much as others, or simply that we can play MarioKart for hours?

    I have the right television for it, along with the wireless internet connection.

    Should I just shell out for the 360? And before you ask, the answer is no, I will not be buying other games to play on the 360. I really enjoy the Wii, and I play my gory shoot-em-ups online anyway.

    Feel free to enhance my knowledge and/or sway my decision in the comments section.

    Break Stuff

    Today is just one of those days. Crabby, unhappy, and generally unrepentant.

    I am not feeling like pleasing anyone today, and I really don't care if that hurts anyone's feelings. It's really too bad, because the sun is shining, and the temperature is trying to warm a little. But no, I'm cranky.

    Feel free to vent in the comments.

    May The Farce Be With You..... Always!

    This morning while driving to The Girl and The Boy to school, we were chit-chatting. The Boy wasn't really paying attention, only butting in every few sentences or so. And then we saw him at the midway crossing: Mace Windu.

    Mace Windu works at The Girl's high school. Tall, dark, shiny dome, and forever pointing a finger, he's in charge of discipline, and the kids say he's mean. The Girl supposed he was even in the military.

    "In the military"? What does that mean, I ask. She explains that military people are, you know, like that. Like what, I inquire. The Girl says that military people, you know, are just mean.

    I reminded her that her dad has 18 years on active duty, and he's not "like that."

    The Boy perked up and asked, "What, bald?"

    Mace Windu vs Mister, or
    Like that vs. not quite like that!


    Allegedly, there is a war going on somewhere, one in which the United States is heavily engaged. You wouldn't know that, if you had watched Fox News for the first time ever yesterday morning.

    Over the weekend, a soldier murdered several fellow soldiers in theater. Also, the rates of drug use and misuse among soldiers is increasing. More jobs and homes are being lost every day. Governmental spending at every level across America is grossly bloated and unsupportable. One might hold up California on the brink of bankruptcy as an example, but because this happens on a regular cycle, we'll skip that and move on to other things, like the college professor who murdered his wife and several others, and then committed suicide. Or the rampant use of performance-enhancer drugs in professional sports.

    And this is just the stuff going on with the USA. We don't have time to carry on with the rest of the planet.

    On the whole, things are not lovely. Really and truly, the only silver lining is that our reservoir is now at full pool, and the weather is still cool enough to keep the windows open to catch the breeze. The rest is crap.

    However, what qualifies as a news alert for Fox News is none of this. No, the channel has decided that a beauty-pageant contestant and her under-age nudie photos qualifies as an "Alert!" with the same level of saturation one might expect if a plane full of Congressmen crashed in a ball of fire into an orphanage hosting a dog show.

    So a pageant contestant gets to keep her crown because nude and semi-nude photos she had taken back when she was 17 were not meant to be published but were instead for a modeling portfolio. Big whupdee doodles.

    Come on, Fox. The USA may often appear to be full of proles, but it's not, unless you help make it so. Raise the bar, freaks. Raise the bar.

    Swamp Thing

    Over the last year or two, I stood back in horror as I watched my mortgage company get rightfully pilloried for being at the front of the national (and then worldwide) housing crisis. Being the #1 issuer of questionable mortgages, Countrywide became even more infamous thanks to a series of television ads that told clients they could "get help" through them, but then denied nearly every applicant.

    Unfortunately, sensible people like me were the real victims. I bought only what I could afford on one paycheck even though I was urged by one real estate agent to buy twice that ("You're military--you'll get the credit easy!"). I have made every payment on time. I paid extra into the escrow when I knew the my property taxes were going up. I haven't taken out a home equity loan against my house.

    How does that make me a victim? I don't get a share in the "bailout," but I can certainly fund it.

    Home buyers are as much to blame for this mess as mortgage lenders. People know when their credit is questionable, or even downright bad. Add the temptation of loose mortgage regulations and we have bailout soup. Irresponsible lenders and irresponsible borrowers are getting a helping hand at my expense, and I'm supposed to be okay about this.

    And then, adding rock salt to this festering wound, I log in this week to pay my mortgage only to discover that one bad apple has been changed for another: Bank of America bought out Countrywide's mortgages.

    My first thought was, "How could I possibly make it any worse for myself?! Jehovah! Jehovah!"

    My second thought was, "Super. F'n super."

    It takes a real man to wear tights!

    Please, someone explain to me why I belly-laughed until it hurt over this:

    Thanks, XKCD, for another great day!

    Happy Star Wars Day!

    Yes, I know what you're thinking. But just because I think badly of George Lucas it does not mean that I have turned away from the entire franchise. I just said he's not getting any more of my money.

    And so, without further ado, May The 4th Be With You, Always.

    It's our boy with no pants!

    I live in a quiet residential area that is, but isn't, a subdivision. One main drag that winds its way between two connectors, there are no signs indicating you are in [name redacted] subdivision. We're just a cluster of similar brick ranch dwellings, all but one without a garage, and popular with teenagers because it's fun to race through here, apparently.

    This morning I was off to the hardware store to buy a machete. As I was weaving my way through the maze of cars no one likes to park in their private driveways (?!), I noticed two adults and some kids crowded around the back of a minivan. I slowed down even more for safety--one never knows when those little kids will decide it's a good time to dart into the street--when I noticed that the man was wearing some seriously tight shorts.

    voice in my head: "Dude's way too tubby to be wearing bike shorts. Spandex at your size.... OMG those are underpants!!"

    Yes, my neighbor was wearing a pair of tight-fitting boxer-briefs out in the sunny public on a lovely Sunday at noon. But wait! There's more! His waistband was rolled down and his butt crack was peeking out.

    What has been seen, can never be unseen. I may never sleep peacefully again.


    Just this morning, I have read two separate cases of people buying sealed electronics only to get robbed. How did this happen? At some point between initial construction and the sale, the electronic item was replaced with rocks or a brick and then the package was sealed or resealed.

    1. Anyone who thinks a seal cannot be removed and then replaced without anyone noticing is grossly naive and/or has never hired a professional mover.

    2. Are people really that optimistic these days, or have I been a pessimist all these years and just not been aware of the fact?

    Open your electronic items before leaving the store, people! Even if it is a gift, at least you will spare some poor kid the pain of discovering that the DS he thought he was receiving was in fact a pile of rocks. By opening your 'sealed' electronics in the store, even at walmart, you will get instant satisfaction rather than have to go round in circles between seller and manufacturer, because each will do whatever they can to avoid issuing a refund. It is probably easier to return an automobile than it is to return electronics. (I've never returned a car, so I'm just guessing here.)

    Honestly, I wish they'd just set up a table right at the door for just this purpose, especially the electronics retailers.

    It's just like those bloody peasants

    I attended the funeral of my beloved step-grandfather, the only "grandfather" in my life who acted the part. Both my "real" grandfathers had died long before I was born, and both my grandmothers had remarried. My father's mother married a bitter man whose soul was completely cheerless. My mother's mother had married again twice, first to a friend of her first husband who was a greedy, thieving bastard, and then to Earl, who was The Last Real Gentleman.

    Everyone loved Earl. The whole community, most of whom are related to me, embraced him, an outsider, as one of their own, adopting him as their own grandfather, uncle, or brother. I have had occasion to wonder if this did not perhaps perturb my grandmother a bit, a woman who was not well-liked even by her own children.

    It was a lovely service. The rain stopped just enough for us to return him to the earth. The sun had even blessed us a bit, encouraging us to smile through our loss. I felt reassured.

    And then, I became a tourist back in my home county of Guernsey. I snapped pictures of our local library, a gift from Andrew Carnegie. I also took pictures of our courthouse, a triumph of architecture back in the late 1880s, placed not in the county seat but in the biggest town in the county. (The seat was moved to accommodate the courthouse location later, and the original seat dwindled away to just a village.)

    Tucked into a parking lot, I found this sign, and thought you all will laugh as mightily as I did:

    I hope this post finds you well and in good spirits. For those who embrace the possibility, there is a most excellent man watching over you, purest of heart and soul. Do much to deserve the honor. For me, it is enough to know that in life, my grandfather was well-respected and loved not because he demanded it but because he earned it.

    a bleak and rimey day

    In November of 2007, my mother's mother passed. I hardly noticed. I no longer cared for the woman. She was greedy and cruel to us, her grandchildren, when she should have been kind, at a time in her life when she did not need the money she took from us but we were hungry and with holes in our shoes.

    Today, her 3rd husband and the only "grandfather" I ever knew, passed. The news was such a great shock to me; I've never--never--felt such a pain. It gripped my heart and my guts, my mind went completely blank, and I had no words, not even to comfort my mother who had loved him as much as she had loved her own departed father.

    I will be taking about 11 days off from writing to you, my dear readers. I need time to myself; I just can't bring myself to share more. This weight I feel, I can't describe it. I feel a certain selfishness, a need to withdraw. Please accept my apology and my promise to return, hopefully refreshed and ready to engage you in [whatever].

    Tender regards,


    And the winner is....

    I'm overweight, but we've discussed that before.

    In two days, I'll be among the unemployed. That'll be okay, because I've managed to use most of my pay wisely. It's a lovely feeling.

    I'm going to have some time on my hands, and I really don't want to do a lot of what really needs to be done: final unpacking and jettisoning useless crap.

    Instead, I've decided to exercise a film away every single day. I bought Mister a stationary bike with my first paycheck, and plan to "bike" my way through a new film every day. I'd like to watch films I've never seen before, although watching all the Star Trek films in order must be done, as it's never been done (by me) before.

    Mister has lists of films I've asked him to produce, based on the American Film Institute's "top films" list, as well as access to lists of Oscar winners and nominees for best film. Before I troll those lists to kit out my netflix queue, however, I'd like to ask my lovely readers for their input.

    Which films would you recommend? I do have some "don't go there" issues!

    1. No extreme comedy. Giggling + biking = big girl falls.
    2. No extreme weepy stuff. Let's just say I'm an moody rollercoaster and Mister gets disturbed when he returns home to a weepy blob.
    3. If it's anything like The Big Chill, I probably won't like it.
    4. Videodrome is right out. No exceptions.
    So go on. Challenge me. Perhaps your film will help me shed some cushion.

    PS... One more thing: no porn. I'm just not a porn-before-lunch kinda person, you know?

    Eleventy minus thirty eleven equals.... ?

    It's a two-fer-Tuesday!

    Learn more about me, in twos, than you ever wanted to know. And then, if you want, cut-n-paste and then do one of your own. Link me, if you'd like, just as I linked The Beav, who brought this up in the first place!

    Two names you go by:
    1. Soo
    2. Suzanne

    Two things you are wearing right now:
    1. a smile
    2. glasses

    TWO OF your favorite things to do
    1. Compute
    2. Sing

    Two things you want very badly at the moment:
    1. silence
    2. another Date Night

    Two Pets that you have or have had
    1. Sarah - the psycho kitty
    2. Gigi/Jigs - The girl cat that turned out to be a boy cat.

    Two people who will fill this out:
    1. Beav already did
    2. Possibly Keith

    Two things you did last night:
    1. Watched my son kick ass in soccer
    2. logged in to facebook

    Last thing you ate:
    1. chicken-bacon-swiss from Arby's
    2. meatloaf

    Two people you last talked to:
    1. The Baby
    2. Mister

    Two things you’re doing tomorrow:
    1. Work
    2. Trivia/karaoke

    Longest trips taken:
    1. Plane/Distance: US - England
    2. Car/Time: Atlanta, GA - Monterrey, CA (took us 6 days, thanks for DFW & its 10 miles of malls--tks, Mister!)

    Your favorite holidays:
    1. Halloween
    2. Thanksgiving

    Two favorite beverages:
    1. Pepsi
    2. Pepsi


    Maxwell's Silver Hammer

    **editor's note: after first publishing this post, I realized how totally offensive the title of my blog is. I have chosen not to change it because I think censorship sucks, but do apologize for not actually thinking that one through properly.**

    This past weekend, the in-laws came for a visit. At one point someone noticed that a little up the street there were several police cars with lights going. I brushed it off because I was aware of two things: another police officer lived in that area and that in one of the houses in that area the couple did not exactly get on peaceably.

    Earlier in the week, a news report informed the local area that in a neighboring town, a woman was bludgeoned to death when she interrupted an alleged burglary in her home. There were no suspects at that time. Her neighbor/coworker was very concerned and disturbed by the event.

    The day after that, the concerned neighbor needed medical attention after being shot by an alleged burglar that she interrupted. There was a crime wave in the making, and it was quickly getting very violent!

    Only it wasn't a violent crime wave. Turns out this concerned neighbor was [allegedly] covering up for her son, who [allegedly] committed the robbery/murder. She [allegedly] allowed herself to be shot and her house ransacked in order to make it look like another crime scene. The irony was that in fact it did become a crime scene, just not the way she anticipated.

    And so mother and son were arrested, him for murder and her for conspiracy, plus a few other things. Only he lived just up the street from me. Two houses up, as a matter of fact, exactly between me and the resident police officer.

    Holy crap.

    In which I proposition a dinner hostess

    Back in March, Mister and I created a fantastic chili recipe which won 2nd place in a contest. First prize was a gift card to an electronics chain store for $100. Pretty nifty. We won a one-night stay plus dinner for two at a local ultra-posh hotel. We guestimated the value of that to be over $200, if one used the 'government' rate instead of the 'civilian' room rate.

    And so we went.

    We checked in, dropped our bags in the room and checked everything out. I don't know about anyone else, but I've traveled a lot and first order of business is to lay down on the bed to determine how badly I'm going to sleep. Second is to check out the bathroom.

    Well, I can say with complete confidence that for room 407 of the [name redacted] Hotel, the bed is ultra-soft, the duvet is so soft you will never in your life experience a nicer blanket, and the bathroom is a dream: super-size whirlpool tub and a roomed-off loo. It is also a two-room suite with a little living room, and they gave us the most delicious, warm chocolate chip cookies as a treat for staying with them. Woot!

    We dressed for dinner. I really felt like making it special and so we went posh. I even wore nice sandals! I'm so glad we did, because it really was a fancy dinner, even if it was a buffet, only occasionally marred by the locals who came just for the dinner in their sweatpants and flip-flops. While waiting for our table, the dinner hostess, a pretty young woman, chatted with us. I mentioned it was our first time at the hotel, and she asked us how we liked it.

    Our conversation went something like this:

    H: ...Welcome to [name redacted]! How do you like it?
    S: Wow! The bed is so soft and the room is just great!
    H: That's what I had heard.
    S: You really should check it out. It's fantastic!
    H: ... Um, /hushed voice/ employees aren't really allowed...
    S: Oh. Maybe not tonight, but some other time. It's really nice.
    H: Perhaps you go to Hilton Head? We have another hotel there that's right on the beach.
    S: Oh, I love the beach! I really miss it. I've heard Hilton Head is lovely. /to Mister/ We should go this summer!
    M: I think you need to stop.
    S: ....?

    As we were sitting down to dinner and ordering our wine, Mister explained what he got from the conversation, but said that I showed good taste, considering she was very attractive. I, on the other hand, was mortified. I really had no idea.

    George Lucas is a whore

    George Lucas started a good thing with Star Wars, A New Hope back in 1977. Things went well with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, in spite of the Ewoks, and is hereto known as TOS. There were a few hiccups with the Ewoks cartoon and an unfortunate "holiday special," but fans like me were willing to forgive and forget.

    And then, Lucas loses his ever-loving mind. He developed episodes 1-3, hiring some of the best (McGregor, Jackson, and Neeson) and some of the worst (Portman, Christenson) actors available. The plots of 1 and 2 were sketchy, although eventually 3 was intense and in line with episodes 4 through 6. In the meantime, he digitized TOS. Oh, and then he added extra footage to the digitized versions of TOS. By this time, we had 3 different versions of TOS, some on VHS, some on DVD.

    And then there was Clone Wars.

    First, Lucas created a little serial sketched out by the Samarai Jack team. Presented on Cartoon Network, this was a hard-to-follow series simply because it was run in three-minute segments sporadically throughout certain regular shows on the network. First, one had to enjoy the regular show enough to stay focused. And then one had to remember it was on in the first place. Oh, the joy when it was finally put out on DVD. The whole series, on one DVD. Yay!

    Next, Lucas decides that the orginial cartoon series, hereto known as TOCS, just wasn't enough. He created a CGI film, and the actors from episodes 1-3 voiced their animated counterparts. It caused something of a geek squee in anticipation, but did not entirely live up to its expectations.

    And then, Lucas decides that the film must also have a CGI cartoon series to fill in the CGI film, introducing new characters that were not part of the live-action film series, even in flashbacks, or even part of the TOCS. This new series, hereto called Teh Stoopids, was also hosted on Cartoon Network as a regular show, rather than the ill-advised three-minute serial. Shortly after the last episode of the first season finished airing, a commercial reminded us to buy Teh Stoopids on DVD the following Tuesday. As this coincided with the release of the next installment of Daniel Craig Walks Shirtless On The Beach, I decided to surprise Mister with the next addition to his Star Wars collection.

    I bought Daniel Craig. I did not buy Clone Wars.

    Why? Because instead of the entire series of Teh Stoopids on one DVD, only the first four episodes are available at this time. And so in order to get the entire series, we must shill out $14.00 per DVD for a total of six DVDs. Nearly $100, if you include tax and then round up, for one flaming cartoon series, and it's not even the end of the story.

    And so I say, George Lucas is a whore.

    Editor's note: Daniel Craig Walks Shirtless On The Beach part 2 did not in fact feature Daniel Craig walking shirtless on the beach, unfortunately. He did in the first of his James Bond films, and I was really hoping for a repeat. What a disappointment in that respect, although the writers, with much kindness, did find other ways for Craig fans to glimpse his well-tanned features, bless their hearts!

    To Thine Own Self, Be True

    Last week, I had a discussion with The Girl about her key ring. Collectively, it weighs about 3 pounds, and holds one key. I asked her to remove one "chain" from the ring because it looks, at first glance, like a weapon sometimes seen in martial arts movies. The last thing anyone needs is to get a school administrator's knickers in a pinch because of a toy that looks sort-of dangerous.

    This morning, after The Teens dashed off for the bus, I remembered her key ring had been sitting on the breakfast bar in the kitchen, along with her art portfolio. Hoping she remembered her key, I went to check.

    "Oh good! She remembered her key.... Gah! I forgot about that damn throwing star! I hope she took that off.... Oh for the love of... Will those kids ever clean up after themselves? [The Girl] left her Gwee dragon and her coffin candy case *right there.* I'll have to talk to her about that..."

    Yes, mine is a strange household. Someday I may tell you how The Boy spent this weekend piecing together old audio equipment using masking and packing tapes to make a headset for his XBox.

    that'll leave a mark

    I try to mind my own business. I just don't want other people's problems weighing me down. I've got my own baggage, thank you just the same.

    I also believe there is a time and a place for everything. Certain discussions just shouldn't be public. One example was the wedding proposal from a few weeks back.

    Yesterday, I was minding my own business in the grocery store, checking my list to make sure I'd bought everything I'd intended. A raised female voice floated toward me from behind, and my radar ears perked up. This is what I heard as this young twenty-something couple strolls by:

    "...blah blah even before we started dating, I thought you waddled..."
    Really? Wow! I'm sure glad you shared that with the world, miss. I'll bet he is, too!

    I got me a Chrysler, it's as big as a whale!

    Being the busy worker bee that I am, I have not had much time to peruse my favorite haunts lately. Especially the blog of Wil Wheaton, aka Ensign Wesley Crusher of the USS Enterprise. Wednesday, I made time for him, and found that not only had he changed the layout of his blog, he had also designed a t-shirt for sale at Woot.

    I'm not a t-shirt buyer, although I want to be. I'm large and forever thinking that "someday," I will be thinner, so why waste all that money on stuff I won't be able to wear without looking dumpy, later? However, Wheaton's shirt is so full of win, I decided instantly that I. Must. Have. It.

    The deal was sealed when I learned two things: one, it was only $10, and two, for another $5, I could have "overnight" shipping.

    And so I ordered one yesterday (Thursday morning). I'd never before purchased anything from Woot, so I was unaware of this lovely little caveat of theirs that warns its customers after their cards are processed that the actual processing of their order may take as much as five days.


    But guess what was on my doorstep today? Uh-huh, that's right. My. Very. Own. Wheaton. T!

    **Will be updated with the photo of me, wearing my Wheaton Shirt, once I find that damn camera!

    Perhaps not.

    Back in Ole Virginny, Mister was into karaoke. He had his favorite place and his favorite KJ. He even had a list of all the songs he'd done before, and, for a while at least, on which nights he sang them.

    Here in the asscrack of America, Mister is into trivia. There are literally a dozen or more places to go, and there's trivia every flaming night of every flaming week. He even has a favorite trivia master, a guy who used to be (or may still be, I can't get a straight answer) a radio DJ.

    We used to go out on Wednesday nights for "miscellany" trivia to this restaurant that specialized in Argentinian cuisine. It was open for precisely one year. Unfortunately, being the buckle of the bible belt, the liquor license was more than they could take, and they closed rather than renew.

    A few weeks later, Trivia Man finds a new Wednesday spot, a little redneck dive on the south side of town, past the "Motor Mile" and just before the ghetto. They host karaoke every night as well. Yes, even Mondays. Mister likes this, because on Wednesdays he can get both trivia and a song! This bar also serves food, but after this week's fiasco, I think they just need to stick to beer, even though their beer list can be recited by the waitress. Yes, it's that short. You better like Michelob.

    This past Wednesday, I was witness to a horror no one should ever experience. It was such a nightmare! There was pain and humiliation, a big chick and Ichebod Crane, bad food and an announcer giving a play-by-play as the whole thing unfolded.

    At the half time of the trivia game, Trivia Man gets everyone's attention as Ichebod goes on one knee and produces a ring box for his girl. She immediately responds with, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! OMG!! STOP EMBARRASSING ME!!"

    There was absolute silence in the place as Ichebod just looks at her like a deer caught in the headlights. A few moments go by, and he finally accepts the situation. He gets up, puts the box back into his pocket, takes out his wallet, throws some money on the table (I assume for their meal) and walks out.

    The silence is now very heavy. Big Girl gets up a few minutes later, says a few words to Trivia Man, and leaves as well. Finally, people start talking, and the game slowly resumes.

    That was, most definitely, OMG.

    spit take **possibly NSFW language

    You know me. I'm always on the lookout for badly-planned license plates. My favorites are the personality plates that people think up themselves, thinking they're cute, cunning, or funny but really aren't.

    On the other hand, occasionally the state can think up a few doozies themselves.

    I was following a car recently whose license plate read, among other things, "DPSH9X."

    Obviously, I thought it meant to say, "Dipshits."

    Considering that the plate was a disabled-driver plate, that actually pissed me off initially. I got over it, however.

    I will say, though, that while Virginia's need to encourage everyone to think up their own plate went too far, Georgia practically stifles the creativity of its citizenry. I'm so bored on the road now. No sense in going out some days.

    Interrogation Room

    My friend, The Beav, offered up himself for information slaughter. In honor of his sacrifice, I have done the same. These are the questions he asked, and my responses:

    1. When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?


    I wasn't, but I wanted to be so very desperately. My parents hated each other and fought constantly, vicious battles that always ended in a visit from the police or my father storming away, leaving us stranded in the middle of nowhere with no help from neighbors who kept themselves to themselves, even when my mother lay helpless and damaged.

    I wanted what was advertised on television: parents who were in love, who adored their children and lived to sing their praises, a happy family. It never truly happened, but we got close enough when my parents split, and finally we could breathe without fear. We were cold and hungry most winter nights, sometimes we went without power or water for a few days, but it was better than the fear and disappointment.

    I know this isn't what you meant. And so, to answer that question, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was very good in science and math, with a thirst for knowledge of the universe. Enter my parents, or more specifically, my father. "College?! Are you nuts? What the hell does a girl do with a college education anyway? You're just gonna get married..." My mother never contradicted him, and I was never praised in my math and science achievements until they began to not matter anymore. In the end, I only wanted to escape and be "something, anything, but married and pregnant."

    Irony is a bitch.

    2. What person whom you have never met has influenced your life the most?

    My father's father. He died in a car crash of his own making after having had a few beers at the bar with his workmates before setting off home. My grandmother always blamed one of her sons for denying her husband much-needed sleep by being an obnoxious little asshole--and he probably was; all of her sons were--but in truth he bought his death on his own. Unfortunately, he also bought the deaths of innocents.

    I will never drink and drive, and I will drive to the ends of the earth for anyone who calls me to their rescue. I also will never forget that I am part of a family, part of a team, and that there are many people who depend upon me; I am not an island, nor am I more important than anyone else.

    3. What is your biggest life-goal/dream?

    To never go hungry again, or to be cold and miserable, or dirty. And to also find myself at the natural end of my life without an arrest record. That would be spiffy, I think.

    4. Choose a moment in your life that you feel set you on your current course, and describe the moment and what it meant to you.

    The quiet afternoon hours of a Spring day in 1991, I saw my dreams of college wash away with the dawn and the receipt of a denial of financial assistance. A few days later, I lied to a police officer to protect a person dear to my heart from getting arrested for drunk driving. Hypocrisy, thou art an unkind mistress! I knew then I needed to escape my life, or I would never be more than my upbringing--a kept woman, dependent on the generosity of my partner, and forever pregnant.

    In a very low, morose state of mind, I scruffed on the sofa for the entire day. At one point during my wallowing, a commercial for the United States Air Force Reserves came on the television, slowly filtering into my foggy brain until it fully registered that here was my out: employment and a college education, in a land far, far away.

    The very next day, I went to the recruiting station, and before the week was out, I was delayed-enlisted into the Active Duty Air Force, awaiting that call to get me the hell out of Dodge. I told no one, afraid someone would guilt me out of my plans, as was the usual routine. Even the day I left, I still kept my secret. No one knew the truth until I was safely tucked away in Texas, a thousand miles (literally) from everything I knew and everyone who could influence me.

    I was free!

    5. If you could choose your name, what would you choose? Why?

    When I was in elementary school, I spelled my name every which way I could think of, because I hated it. I wanted to be called "Tracy." It just seemed so pretty and girly, and I was anything but. My name was old-sounding, old-fashioned, and it made everyone want to start singing one of several insipid songs. Plus I was chubby, and many people would point out the similarities between me and a certain snack cake that (sort-of) shared my name.

    However, as an adult, I prefer my name as it is, because it's old-fashioned and very rare among my generation. I am relatively unique, and old enough now that most people don't bother busting out in song because it would just make them look pretty stupid.

    I've come to terms with me, even Fat Me. I'm good, you know?


    And now, here's the deal: If you, Dearest Reader, would like me to interview you, just leave me a comment and I'll send you your very own five (5) questions. But you have to follow Da Rules (see below).

    Thank you for reading my blog.

    Da Rules:

    You have to link back to the original post (http://immoralmatriarch.com/questionsagain) and include the following in your post:

    Want to be part of it? Follow these instructions:
    1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
    2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
    3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
    4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

    Found a Peanut

    In the these great United States of America, we are in the midst of a conundrum. Most people agree that we have "too much government." Unfortunately, American businesses have shown that they will not check themselves against greed and stupidity. If certain businesses were not greedy and stupid, they would not have asked the American taxpayer to bail them out of the messes they created.

    Another example of stupidity is the Peanut Corporation of America, a factory in Georgia that makes peanut paste among other peanut butter products and which is in the midst of yet another massive salmonella outbreak which is linked to eight deaths and hundreds of poisonings across the US.

    Obviously, it's causing no end of hysteria among peanut butter consumers. However, PCA does not produce all the peanut butter used in our nation's peanut butter-based products. This fact has done little to allay the concerns of our nation's peanut farmers, who feel that this latest outbreak is going to cripple their industry.

    A father-and-son farming team in Burke County, Georgia, was interviewed by our local news channel, and expressed their concern about the overall price of their harvest. The rumor mill has reached them that the nationwide price of peanuts is going to drop nearly 30% per ton, all because of this one factory. The astute father had this to say about it: "Truth has nothing to do with perception."

    I thought that that one statement was probably the most profound thing I'd ever heard. Granted, that was at about 5:30 am this morning, after a rough night's sleep dreaming of geriatric vampires trying to gum me to death. Again. Still, I think that statement is accurate for nearly every situation.

    If it's all right with you, Mr Farmer, I'd like to borrow that phrase. It's one that needs repeating regularly.

    newslink credit the the Los Angeles Times

    ...or a flying pteradactyl

    There is a store at the mall called, "Hot Topic," which caters to the emo and goth crowds.



    It's just so... I dunno... Ironic.

    I'm "IT"

    I'm a self-taught computer fixer-builder who has, unfortunately, lost touch with her programmer roots thanks to a rather unhealthy reliance on Windows. It's like smoking--once you start, it's hard to quit. It can be done, but the withdrawals are a bitch.

    Mister's old laptop was taken over by the children, since I've been a lazy cow and not replaced the power supply to one of our desktops. The Boy is a dabbler who's afraid of nothing thanks to the fact that his mom is the household's I-T Guy. He's also known as Mister Impatient around here, because of his massively annoying super-clicks when our systems slow down.

    Not too long ago, he decided that Ye Olde Laptop was running very slowly because of all the games installed and the "extra files" Mister left on it. Obviously, he should start deleting stuff because he's so smart with computers for a 13-year-old, and then it would just go-go-go. The end result was no-no-no.

    In fact, the problem wasn't with the stuff his parents had installed, it was with the stuff he was installing without our permission. Even with pop-up blockers and anti-virus software, he managed to download a trojan which infected the system--thankfully it didn't escape across our network--and annoy the hell out of anyone who used that laptop.

    And so I spent a lovely Saturday saving individual files to CDRs (no, it's old enough it's not a dvd writer) so that I could wipe the hard drive and start fresh. My adventures began just after breakfast and carried me well into the night before I paused the operation in favor of a little sleep.

    Morning found me installing the second recovery disc, the one full of drivers and additional software. The rest of Sunday was devoted to installing security patches, technical updates and a new anti-virus program.

    Unfortunately, this is only System One of the Great I-T Confabulation of 2009. I have two other systems to repair before our network is running tip-top.

    And people wonder why I don't do this for a living.

    imagine all the people

    I was sitting at my little counter today just staring off into space and time, thinking about nothing in particular and feeling nothing in particular, when something caught my attention.

    A short distance from my office is an overpass, and I noticed a police car moving slowly with its lights on. There was a hearse following behind, and, for some reason only known to my subconscious, I started counting the cars between the hearse and the tailing police escort.

    It was a short count.

    There were five cars in the procession. There was no limousine, no fancy funeral home car, just the hearse and five vehicles belonging to friends and family.

    After fielding calls from people "absolutely desperate" to get their refund back, people willing to risk hefty fines and possible jail time because they insist on "borrowing" someone else's kids so they can get certain tax credits, that sad little procession reminded me that life is too short, too precious, too full of other pains for me to worry about "small stuff."

    So the Mom-mobile needs new tires up front? It'll be all right. The engine light keeps popping up on Mister's car. It's not overheating and the oil light is not on, so just keep smiling.

    It's a cruel thing, is life. One day at a time, that's all we should ever need. Nobody is more important than anyone else, but neither is anyone less important. If you have nothing else, then just smile and wave, because no one can take that away.

    In the can? Yeah, probably.

    And so I began my temporary employment. The actual location is not the most secure in town, and its clients are not the most upstanding. In fact, this is an area of town in which certain of its residents are not so modest they use euphemisms for having been sent to prison, and most lack the modesty to keep the reason to themselves.

    I am keenly observing The Great Human Experiment and my part in the grand scheme. My fear is that, by the end of my contract, I will have become jaded toward the indigent and cease to care for their plight. I have seen a cynicism that was, at first, rather shocking to me. Unfortunately, after just a few days, that cynicism is slowly beginning to make sense.

    How does one break one's heart day in and day out when one is a constant witness to willing failure yet remain whole?

    I am not religious; you all know that. I do not believe that one must trust to some higher power in order to find meaning or truth. We are our strength as well as our weakness. When we lose our ability to empathize, when we cease to be affected by the obscene misuse of public trust and funds at the expense of those who are easily and quickly pushed aside by those who misuse our trust, then we cease to be. To lose our connection with those who are left behind by society is to lose our connection with our inner goodness.

    And it's clear to me that humanity could use more goodness.

    At least she has a pretty face

    I've been enticed into joining the big, bad world of Facebook. Thanks a lot, friends.

    I've reconnected with one lost friend as well as with my nestlings. The love I feel is tremendous and reassuring. I miss my nest. I rarely let people in, and when I do, it's forever. Some nestlings will be lost to me forever; although it hurts, it's for the best. Sometimes you just can't go home again.

    I noticed that some of my nestlings are "fans" of other people. I quickly discovered how to become fans of my own favorite celebs. Here are some quick stats so that you may judge me at your will:

    First fansite joined: Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail
    First American fansite joined: Wil Wheaton (fan #444)
    Total Brits and Scots on my list: 14
    Most unusual search: "Weasley Twins," resulting in my becoming Fan #69 of James & Oliver Phelps' fansite

    Why was my search of "Weasley Twins" unusual? Well, go to facebook and use those two words in the upper right search box to see what you get. If your first option was the same as mine, I'm sure you'll wonder along with me why anyone would create a group called "I wouldn't mind if I was double-teamed by the Weasley twins," as well as wonder twice as hard over whether you've got the balls to find out what is on that site that might make someone want to unjoin the group.

    For the record, I don't, so I didn't.

    I'll be searching my photo files to upload a history of me, although anyone hoping for a fast response time will be sorely disappointed. I'm a bit lazy like that.