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  • Flash Fiction

    **a little piece I threw down on a challenge, as yet untitled. Suggestions and critiques welcome in the comments section.


    Straightening his spectacles, the man in the derby hat cleared his throat.

    Jasper looked up. "You startled me, Professor."

    "I am only checking in to see if our project is still on schedule."

    Jasper nervously glanced around the laboratory then back to his worktable. Schematics, gears, and tools littered the surrounding area. "Yes, Professor. I do believe we will be ready--and with time to spare."

    "Excellent work, Jasper. I'll be back on the 20th to give the presentation." The professor left the laboratory, and Jasper breathed a sigh of relief.

    One of these days, he's going to be shown for the fraud he really is, Jasper thought. This project had been one of Jasper's best ideas, a design he had sketched and altered over and over for two years until he felt it was finally perfect. Many of the parts he had invented himself, the remnants of his efforts scattered throughout the laboratory. The hydraulic system was a masterpiece of copper and brass, beautiful enough to be left exposed and tough enough to withstand the abuse the automaton was naturally going to endure. But the key feature was its unique "exploding" design: each major segment of the automaton was self-supporting and could function independently from the rest of the unit.

    Business moguls and governments worldwide were sending telegrams daily, keenly aware of the automaton's potential as replacements for humans in dangerous factories and mines, and on the fields of battle. Jasper’s childhood fancy was coming to fruition and was poised to change the world. As always, Professor Kinsberry was going to take all the credit.

    Or will he? A thought raced through Jasper's head, diabolical and delicious. As with any new invention, Jasper was creating two simultaneously, one as a control and one as a variable. This time, however, the control was in his basement laboratory at home. The professor wasn’t aware of its existence, or of the money missing from the project’s budget which funded the second automaton.

    He walked quickly to the cabinets to retrieve his collection of plans. About four revisions ago, he had discovered a weakness in the automaton's flexible joints. It had been a painstaking fix. Most of the newest hydraulic innovations came about to correct this flaw. All Jasper had to do was hide the newest revisions, and then undo the fix.

    The one in which I swear. No, really.

    I love fall. Growing up in the North was spectacular, with the leaves of the deciduous trees changing into a riot of reds and oranges. Everywhere the breeze gets a little more noticeable and the summer heat winds down to a more tolerable level.

    I just wish it would hurry the fuck up and find Georgia!

    The other reason I adore fall is because the normally-occurring cooler weather causes middle-aged and post-middle-aged skanks to wear more than just a loose-fitting tank top over their droopy and often veiny cleavage. Do they even look in the mirror before leaving home? If they do, is it a circus mirror? I'm certain at the very least that they need their eyes checked, because they don't see what I see.

    And that which has been seen, cannot be unseen. Ever.

    Remember, ladies: the brassiere, while occasionally ill-fitting and uncomfortable, is your life-long friend. Just because you were hawt and the girls were perky in high school does not mean it's still a grand vista at 40(+).

    Did you really just go there?

    I have catalogued various complaints concerning the status updates of certain Facebook users on my "friends" list. Most notably was a long, poorly-worded discourse on religion, beginning with a rant against those who frequently post prayer requests and then segueing into a statement of opinion against religion in general.

    Right now, I'd like to address the people who post medical issues online.

    You know what? I truly am sad your loved one had to go to the ER. I'm also sad they're admitting your loved one because of his/her ailment. I really hope he/she recovers quickly, because he/she has a new job/baby/dirigible. Did I need to be told that your loved one suffered from extreme diarrhea all weekend? I may have to look him/her in the eye next week. I'd rather not have that image, thank you very much.

    If people want the extreme details, why not leave it to them to contact you instead of posting it all out there? Maybe your loved one doesn't want anyone to know this stuff, and you're just charging on ahead regardless. All I'm asking is maybe you take a second look at how you announce information. Some things just don't need to be said out loud.


    On a mostly unrelated topic, am I the only person on this planet who thinks the new 3D ultrasound photos are creepy?

    Switch Back

    A week or so ago, The Girl turned 18. In celebration, I had talked for days about "doing something big." Her plans to hang with friends had fallen through, a situation that really couldn't be helped when your peeps are big dorks and you are their leader.

    On Saturday night, I announced a definite trip to a coaster park about 2 hours away. This plan had been discussed off and on for at least a week as an alternative to The Girl's other plans, so the announcement should not have been a surprise to anyone. The Boy's reaction to the news came as a complete surprise to everyone.

    He was beyond cross.

    He claimed we had not given him enough notice to be ready for a trip to anywhere, let alone to a coaster park. Most kids would have been overjoyed to spend the day riding roller-coasters, eating junk food, and buying souvenirs, even if it means hanging out with your dorky family. Not this kid.

    So Sunday dawns and he refused to get out of bed, declaring that he just wasn't ready and that we should have been more considerate of his feelings (!). We left him home. It was just too much drama for me to legitimize it by begging and pleading.

    Fast-forward to today, where I announce that on Saturday, tomorrow, he was going to get his flu shot. Holy cow! Listening to him rant and rave over a lack of advance notice, you would have thought I had just told him he had an amputation scheduled.

    It is now obvious to one and all that Mr Dramapants needs more than 24-hours' notice for anything. And I thought I was a big dork.

    breathe deeply

    A young woman looked at herself in the bathroom mirror; the choices she had made had led her to a dark place. She rose on sunny days only to see clouds and haze on the horizon. She needed to think, to breathe, to find inner peace and a new way forward. Without a second thought, she borrowed a friend's car and started driving in any direction away from home.

    Right turn, left turn, straight through uncounted intersections--she drove without taking in her location. She was startled out of a daydream-like state to recognize where her subconscious had taken her: the Causeway, a long, low toll bridge that connected the mainland to the tourist beach area. Too late to turn back, she tossed the requisite change into the bin and began to cross.

    Once on the spit, most tourists turned left to select any number of beach areas, all littered with kitschy restaurants and bars. Instead, she turned right into a protected nature reserve that was rarely visited by anyone but the most intrepid of hikers and campers. No lifeguards were to be found anywhere in this section of the beach, no Applebee's, no pubs, and the roads were prone to flooding at high tide.

    A few minutes of driving through the reserve brought her to a small parking lot. She parked the car and wondered at the situation she now found herself in. A born land-locked Northerner, she had recently learned about tides and knew that she would shortly be cut off from the main spit and at the whimsy of nature until the tide receded. No one knew where she was. It was the beach, the last area of the planet she ever wanted to visit.

    It was precisely what she wanted, what she needed.

    Picking up her sweater, she locked the car and carefully made her way toward the water. For the first time in her life, she encountered sand dunes, and she took the time to appreciate all that they were: a foundation for the spit against tidal erosion as well as a thriving ecosystem for myriad beach life forms, as well as the most beautiful Earthly creation she had ever seen. Instead of traveling farther in toward the water, she chose to rest among the dunes to watch the tide roll in and the seagulls dance. No other person wandered the beach to interrupt her musings.

    It was early evening when her stomach rumbled. The tide had dropped again and she knew it was time to go, surprised to realize so many hours had passed. It seemed as though only minutes ago she had settled in at the beach. She couldn't recall any one particular thought other than the the serenity of this place and the peace she felt settle within herself. The tides had called to her soul, and she had listened. "We are strong," they said. "You are also strong. Nothing can stand in our way."

    With the song of the crashing waves in her heart, she returned to the car and drove home, never looking back. She didn't need to--everything she ever needed to learn about life, she learned sitting quietly among the dunes and the tide, listening to and learning from the universe.

    On The Wagon

    After assisting a particular customer at work, I moved on to the next customer, not giving any more thought to prior transactions. It's what I do: I help people, all day long, even if they're extremely upset or generally unpleasant.

    The aforementioned customer was exceedingly polite all through our engagement, which isn't anything special. However, he felt I went above and beyond to help him. After reaching his car, he picked something up and came back into the store because he had decided to give me "a little something."

    He gave me a "Repent and be saved" pamphlet.


    He said he just knew there was so much goodness in my heart, that he felt I needed to give myself over to Jesus (his words) and that this little pamphlet would help me find my way.

    All of this makes me wonder, is there some sort of Jesus-dar that scopes out the non-believers?

    I said nothing to any of our customers, ever, concerning religion, as my beliefs and opinions are none of their business. If anyone wishes me a "blessed day," I thank them kindly, and I appreciate the gesture regardless. I do not believe that kindness and good manners are restricted to Christians, and am puzzled by this man's actions.

    Or was he making an assumption based on my general appearance: black hair, dark green nail polish, and funky jewelry? If so, then that opens a whole 'nother kettle of worms.

    Ideas, input, information, and/or objections requested.

    days of our lives

    A short while ago, I posted about an incident at work in which my coworker spoke her mind about immigrants, Hispanic immigrants in particular.

    To sum up, she expressed her opinion regarding Hispanic immigrants and migrant workers, in front of a customer who did not speak English, to a fellow employee. I chose to turn my back on the situation rather than say anything at all, only to later regret not shutting her up.

    I recently learned that the coworker at the receiving end of the rant filed an EO complaint against her, an investigation was done, and she was fired. I was listed in the report only as "another employee who was there."

    While initially shocked at the outcome, I was pleased that my employer takes a zero-tolerance stand on discrimination. I have long held the belief that if you are being paid for your time, then while "on the clock," your company's beliefs and policies are your beliefs and policies. You want to be different, do it on your own time.

    I also felt I needed to say something to the other employee. It was imperative that he know that I did not agree with what was said, and that I just didn't know what to do. Today, I got my chance. I the storage area, I bumped into him and took the opportunity. I told him how I felt, that I live in a very diverse, working-class neighborhood, that my family is full of colour and diversity as well. He said he could tell by my actions, and that's why he didn't tell them my name. He reminded me that we had chatted a bit before that had happened, and he felt he had a "good read" on my personality. I told him I just wanted everything to be good between us, and he assured me we were alright.

    A very heavy weight has been lifted from my conscious, and that's a very good thing.

    Band of Brothers

    If I had become the tambourine girl for a rock band, it would be in this band and no other:


    When the clock strikes 13

    First, I have 116 on the brain again. My favourite lines are highlighted:

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle's compass come:
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    Whoever Shakespeare was or wasn't, the man was a genius. Does not your heart swell and sing to hear those words aloud? My own heart often melts to these words, although never once has my heart been gifted these lines from its love. Occasionally, the sonnet only brings to my heart a pang of sorrow, a longing it cannot express, a need that cannot be filled. These are days when my heart quietly weeps; the world seems to possess a little less sparkle and the blue sky does not cast its calming spell upon me.


    The time has come to find a dress again. I have found the one I adore, the one I must have, the one I will call half-way across the US and pay out the ear for shipping to possess. Or not, if I try a little harder to fall in love with some other colour and style. But why must I always compromise? I love whom I love, I want what I want. And yet...

    I have wanted a dress in a sky-blue colour for years. I've become so bored with black. It's all I've worn for years, no matter the occasion. Unable to find something different locally, I made my dress last year, a magnificent magenta that fell all the way to the floor, with a super-sexy deep v-neck. But to wear it two years in a row is a major fashion faux-pas. I am once again in search of my dream gown. I cannot believe how difficult this quest is. It's easier to take down an Epic Godslayer.

    Oh, and I find it ironic that as someone who describes her personal style as "wash-n-wear," I really do enjoy metamorphosing into a princess.

    Monkey Bubbles

    I have been wondering about the time I believe I waste every day. I am not a good night-time sleeper, and I haven't been for years. Slowly I've become a morning sleeper. I would get the kids off to school and then go back to bed, crashing hard into a deep, satisfying sleep that just doesn't seem to happen at night. This was never much of a problem until I started working.

    Most workdays for me end between 10 pm and midnight. By the time I get ready for bed and am relaxed, it's after 1 am. I get up again around 5:30 to get Mister and the kids up and ready for their day, then I go back to sleep until around 11 or 12. My plan always is to wake by 9:30 but I usually just shut the alarm off at that point and continue sleeping.

    I usually wake up feeling more refreshed than I've felt in years, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, this leaves me little time to properly delve into the mundane household tasks that await me. I have been rather unsuccessful in getting The Others to assist; they only do so after I lay down some heavy guilt.

    I really need to find another way of operating. This has gone on long enough, I think, and it feels like it's time to change. I'm just not sure how to fix it.

    So, what do you call the deluxe model?

    We have a few people at work who are fluent in Spanish, and they are occasionally asked to translate when a customer needs help or more information than what's already on the product.

    A few nights ago, a coworker brings a customer to my area. I'm new so I don't know everyone, but I'd met this guy before and we have established a good relationship. I made a joke about his being outside of his zone, and he said, "Great! Since you speak Spanish, I'll just leave this guy here for you to help. lol"

    Another coworker perks up and clarifies that the customer speaks no English at all. At that point, while keeping her expression pleasant, she goes off about "[insert slur here]" ruining our country and so on. I turned away from them quickly.

    After a major disaster in high school, I have always tried very hard to never discuss politics outside of my home. My friends and coworkers do not know how I vote or where I stand on a multitude of issues. "Illegals" is one such topic.

    The customer had no idea, and I felt like a jerk for not saying anything to her. I wish now I had spoken up, because it seems as if I agree with her. It doesn't matter if I do or not; my job is to politely help my customers. Period. The people who do not speak English are treated no differently than the people who are pissed off, pissed on, drunk, lying, stealing, tweaking, or pleasant and happy.

    Oh, I say!

    The Boy, who is 14, has a throat malfunction of some sort. We went to the ER on Monday because his clinic was closed for the holiday. He was very quickly examined but not swabbed for bacteria, some pseudo-cillin was tossed at him, and he was told to "get some rest." Today, he is no better, cannot eat anything more than a drinkable yogurt or the broth from chicken noodle soup, and has lost 10 pounds. The tests run today will no doubt turn up "inconclusive" because of his week-long dance with medications.

    He told me last night that while playing Call of Duty, he was discussing his situation with others in the raid. It seems that pretty much everyone in the raid, Us and Them, had some input, and he urged me to make an appointment. After discussing his options today with a doctor, it turns out that a good portion of his newly-acquired information is correct. A stronger pseudo-cillin (although not the one recommended--that one was too strong) and a different pain reliever, some basic tests, and more nutritional advice later, and he appears to be on his way to finally recovering.

    And the experts say that exposing kids to violent, M-rated video games is bad for them.

    Can't you read the signs?

    I had an interview today. It wasn't the one I was expecting although it, too, was only part-time. However, everything went well and pending the drug-test report and a quick background check, I should be in training by Tuesday.

    I've never committed a crime nor taken an illegal drug in my entire life, but I have to confess that I'm incredibly anxious. I could hardly sleep last night in anticipation of the interview, and now must endure more waiting.

    I need this job, even if I only worked 20 hours a week, to help put us on the path to financial success should Mister choose to retire. I have my own bills to pay off, and this job will go a long way to helping me get there in time. I'd like so much to say to Mister, yes, my bills are taken care of. If you don't want to work for awhile, that's okay. You've earned it.

    fate of the nation

    I often complain about the sorry state of today's education, based on my own sad experiences in American public schools and the experiences of my children. I used to think that the bigger problems had their roots in the 1970s when the inner-city populations began increasing dramatically, causing a need to shift funding from rural to urban, creating a balance between the two although most ended up inadequately funded.

    Now I know it's worse than I thought. Randall Monroe of XKCD.com recently addressed a point-of-order that had tickled my brain in high school but never solidified as a proper horror: President John F Kennedy's lack of geography knowledge. I realize nearly all successful politicians hire speechwriters, but if I were in their shoes, I would do a little fact-checking prior to opening my fat gob and sticking a foot in.

    If a man that dumb can become president of the United States of America, either there's hope for my kids, or ours is a sorry nation indeed.

    Starvin' Marvin

    So we have had satellite television since 2000, with the same company. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but generally has been better than most commercial ventures. There has been one point of contention, however, that once again is an incredibly painful thorn in my side. No, I'm not talking about loss of signal during bad weather.

    When we first signed up with Satellite X, they offered an array of music-only channels by the company MusicChoice. It had a lineup that had something to please everyone, including this one channel that played ambient music (rainfall plus quiet instrumental, etc) that was great for getting rowdy babies to settle down. After about 4 years of subscription, they switched to Sirius/XM radio. The lineup changed although not dramatically; we lost our beloved ambient channel but gained an awesome heavy metal channel, which made me most happy.

    Once again, Satellite X has changed their music brand to something I've never heard of. Ambient music is still gone, head-banging heavy metal is also gone. In its place however, is a channel of "radio-friendly metal" which only scratches the surface of the MA-rated music I listen to. They have also expanded the Spanish-language music lineup. Really?

    In a time when people are looking to cut back, we have kept our full-service satellite television package, which runs more than $100 per month for 3 televisions. Add to that the $80 per month we spend on home telephone and the last truly unlimited internet package in the world, and that's a lot of money falling out of my wallet when I'm unhappy. Complaining to my satellite provider only adds to my ire. Apparently, they've done extensive market research that indicated change was for the better.

    The local cable provider can offer me a "bundle" with capped internet, home phone, and expanded television for $80 per month for the first year. Adding movie channels to bring us up to the same level of television options would only add $30 per month to the bill.

    It's the capped internet that has stayed my hand. I need more information, useful data from people who have used Comcast brand cable service. Finding those people are harder than I expected. We have gamers here, and "lag" is a four-letter word in this house.

    Reality Show

    Stop me if you've heard this one: A teenager walks up to her mom and says, "I'll let you take me driving if you take me to Walmart."

    Yup. I got blackmailed into a driving lesson. Granted, she planned on using her own money, and she already knew what she wanted before she even mentioned it. Nonetheless, it was just weird. Days of moaning on about not wanting to and all of a sudden, it's she who's bribing me.

    Nonetheless... Now that is one odd word. According to Etymonline, it popped into our lexicon around 1847, as the phrase 'none the less;' and then contracted into one word from around 1930. My guess is that the Great Depression made those extra spaces too expensive.

    And finally, we anticipate being debt free (except for mortgage and braces; one never escapes those bills!) by March of 2011, just in time if Eric retires. But maybe he won't retire. Maybe he'll take an assignment overseas. Or maybe he'll star in an off-Broadway Spanish-language adaptation of "The Hills Have Eyes."

    Life is full of variety and opportunity.

    I used to be apathetic, but now I just don't care.

    So I've got this teenager. We used to say that she 'operated using Plan 9 From Outer Space.' It was a joke, because she was different from 'normals:' the kids represented by TV shows and neighborhood gatherings. Whatever it was that the average kid found interesting, my kid wasn't paying attention.

    Right now, I'm thinking the joke is on me.

    This kid has not spent her teen years dreaming of the day she'll get her license, of what she wants to be when she grows up, of getting the hell out of Dodge and making it on her own.

    Recently, I read an article about the consequences of micro-manager 'helicopter parents,' who planned out every waking minutiae of their kids' lives, overprotecting them and turning them into indecisive wimps who can't cope in the workforce. I look at myself and say, "But-but-but... If I don't do this--she'll NEVER LEAVE!!"

    A successful parent is one who has raised a child who is confident enough to try spreading her wings but humble enough to ask for assistance when they falter. I really thought I was headed in that direction. After all, without any push from me, she campaigned to be president of an art club at school, taking on responsibilities such as meeting planning, crowd control, and recruitment.

    But now, my hope for the future is wavering. I had to trick her into the DMV to get her learner's permit. How many kids do you know are more excited about getting braces than learning to drive? We talked about going to college. She said, and I quote: "Whatever, Mom. Just sign me up for some stuff, and I'll do it."

    Some. Stuff.

    Oy. Perhaps I should sign her up for "Creative Welding" and "Animal Husbandry." She did say "some stuff," after all.

    What a snoozer!

    You know it's a boring game if the announcer falls asleep in the middle of it: click here.

    Granted, it's professional baseball, which is about as exciting as watching golf.

    Strange things are afoot at the Circle K

    Mister hits the 20-years-of-service mark in February of 2011. He's been threatening to retire at that moment since he hit his 15-years mark. Now more than ever, he's been talking it up, encouraging me to find myself so that we will not be too hard-hit when we lose the bulk of our income when he retires at the end of this year.

    Until yesterday.

    Yesterday he offered me a list of locations around the world where a person with his qualifications could be given a Special Duty Assignment (SDA) as an Attache, most for 3 years. The details aren't important, the locations are.

    One demands males only, as it is a strict Islamic country that is also more in turmoil than not, and is surrounded by unstable countries as well. Some are in Africa, some are in the Balkans. One is in Israel, which seemed to appeal to Mister, as did the one in Hong Kong.

    I will admit that I haven't been keen on his retirement. I'm just not ready to leave the safety net of the military. On the other hand, if uprooting my kids--again--is the other option...

    The bonus is, once overseas, getting to wherever else we ever wanted to visit would be simply easy! From Hong Kong, visiting the Great Wall, Seoul, Kyoto, Vietnam, even Moscow would be a snap. The Girl would be in anime heaven. The Boy would at least be in a nearer time zone to his best friend from Virginia, who had moved to one of the islands near Japan. Israel is similar--all of Europe (and Asia, even) is just a trainride away. Granted, there's the whole 'we're not getting on with Palestine' thing, but it's generally safer than, for instance, Sudan.

    Not sure how I feel about it, want input, etc, etc. If he applies and gets accepted for any of the few that accept his rank, he must be prepared to report by June of 2011. We would obviously follow only after he has secured housing. I've always been apprehensive about moves, even coming back to Augusta where we had lived before, so I expect to lose what little sleep I have regardless. The tough part would be renting our house out again after finally getting it back in order. I may be able to convince my sister to move down here and live in my house, if she could get a job. Perhaps we'd just sell it. I don't know. Again, input, ideas, blah blah.

    So Sorry

    I've ignored you. I'm sorry. I hope that with the conclusion of my contract, I'll have a little more free time to share with you.

    Dookie Doodle Doo

    On the drive to our Myrtle Beach Getaway in which it was snowing, we got to talking about illegal drugs. The conversation was relatively informative, and the children were asking very intelligent questions.

    Out of the blue, Mister asks if I recall any information about a very deadly drug that was being made from human feces. I did not, but the children all decided that it would be a very nasty drug and that anyone who smoked poop deserved anything bad that happened because of it.

    Then one of them pointed out that monkeys like to fling poop. The Boy says, "Now there's a weapon!"

    I said, "Sure, sh*t bombs would be effective against terrorism alright, but who's going to load the planes?"

    The Girl says, "Monkeys! You know, Gorilla Warfare!"

    The Boy says, "OMG! That would make an excellent video game. It could be the new 'Call of Duty.'"

    The Baby says, "Oh yeah! But we'd have to call it Call of Duty 7, because they've already made #2."

    I almost wrecked the car, I was laughing so hard I got dizzy. I love my family.

    65% of the time, it works all the time!

    Here's a fact: I missed an election.

    Here's my excuse: I really didn't know my region was involved.

    Here's what happened: The representative from "Augusta" was chosen to be the state's Attorney General or some such. He needed a replacement. The election came about one year after the newly-anointed AG took his post and his representative seat was vacated. All the news channels were talking about the election "in Augusta," but I live in "Greater Augusta," and I never saw any signs, billboards, or other pre-election pollution alerting me to my choices or that I should be involved.

    Here's how it ended: Apparently, people either thought like me or they just can't be bothered with an out-of-cycle election. 13% of eligible voters turned out to elect the representative for "Greater Augusta."

    Kinda sad, and I'm partly to blame. *sigh* Here's to hoping the newly-elected representative really is the good guy his opponent said he was.

    something something something dark side

    I was talking with the Network Guru, who got his start in the early days of UseNet in the universities, about my son, who's a budding computer geek. As mentioned previously, I broke the Wii. It was supposedly unfixable, I damaged the delicate internal components, etc.

    The Boy fixed it, although you can't tell by looking at it.

    Instead of asking me to buy a triangular screwdriver, he just kinda broke apart the plastic casing so he could get to the guts.

    Once inside the guts, he did a little fiddling. Then he either created or found a backdoor boot hack (I choose not to ask) and saved it to an SD card, which had to be inserted prior to start up. Once he got it booted, he used HomeBrew to download some more data and viola! A working [butt-ugly] Wii.

    Now he's trying to find a way to hack it so it can run Playstation discs.

    What I said to the Network Guru at work was that I just hope that in the future he bends back towards the path of good instead of the path of the Dark Side, as it seems he's doing right now.

    This, of course, brings me to tonight's discussion: If the evil part of The Force is called "the Dark Side," what is the good part called?

    New Year, New Wii

    Had to get a new Wii. Dropping delicate electronics from about 5 feet onto a rain-flooded pavement isn't good. Delicate electronics tend to get their feelings hurt and refuse to come out and play.

    And now we're rocking out. I want to create my own rockstar name and avatar for the game. I've only been able to come up with two possibilities: Mitzy vonFaustwright and Shadrak the Encourageable.

    If you can think of anything better, by all means suggest away. I'm open.