Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Nearly quitting time...

So, after surfing around a bit, I find that an entire universe of stuff has been said and done in the few days I was incommunibloggo. I can't begin to link to everyone (well, that's a bald-faced lie--I could, but I am very lazy) who posted pithy bits of wisdom. Hopefully, anyone who lands here is also already very familiar with everyone up there in the blogroll, so you probably already have a good idea of the fine stuff to be found there.

Tomorrow is another holiday for Possumblog, and another day without bloggery on my part, but I intend to put it to good use by trying to sleep late, and watching football, and then going outside at midnight and letting loose a few blank charges from my Bess while screaming about the tyranny of King George. Keeps the neighbors on their toes, don't you know.

Anyway, Lord willing I will see you all again on Thursday, and you have my hopes that the next twelve months will be kind to each of you.

Wow, where does the time go?

Oh yeah, work.

Anyway, the stack of stuff left undone has grown smaller now, leaving me a bit of time for some housekeeping chores here at Possumblog...

Fred Firstly, all of you need to reset your permalinks for Fragments from Floyd to reflect the new URL. It appears fair Fred has finally fixed his foul and flippantly flummoxed (for some reason, I can never link to Fred without going on an "F" alliteration riff--my apologies) server/host problems and has gradumicated up to his own domain name at http://fragmentsfromfloyd.com/. GO! READ!

Second, we just had a visitor to Possumblog via Google searching for redneck terms stove-up. It may help you to remember that "stove" in this case is the past tense of "stiffen," not "stiffened" as you were probably taught in school. It is used to describe a particular malady in which the body's musculature is sore and movement is difficult due to duress or hard physical labor, vis.: "Yes, Jonelle, I of a certainty am stove up from throwing those sacks of cement yesterday, and I am very much down in my back." In addition, a modifier may be added, "all," indicating a more complete loss of motor function, vis.: "It is such a shame that Miss Jimmie is all stove up from being hit by the mail truck. I fear she will not be able to compete in the log toss."

The Possumblog Linguistics Department is happy to be of assistance in these matters.

Thirdly, an international visitor from Chile searching el Google for unconventional ant killer. Isn't this the way it always it? Everyone wants to get rid of the unconventional--'the nail that sticks up is hammered down' indeed--doggone it all, why not leave those poor unconventional ants alone and let them go their own way! They aren't hurting you, and there's like a billion or so who actually are pillaging your food--one or two unconventional sorts aren't gonna make a difference! Maybe they will become the next big ant poets, or invent the ant polio vaccine, or...hmm?

What? You sure? Ohhhh.

Never mind.

Item D. I haven't said a single thing about this for two whole weeks, but tomorrow in Orlando there is going to be a football game between Coke Bottle Joe's Nittany Lions (9-3, ranked #10) and the Auburn Tigers (8-4, ranked #19). I have not mentioned this before simply because I am worried. First of all, the stupid Nittany Lion won the Capitol One Mascot Vote (and don't those results look just a little suspicious to anyone?). And second, look at what we are up against! And there's not just them, but these ones, too! Not only that, they have Coach Paterno!

Gonna be a tough fight, for sure. Possumblog Sports Center's competent and hard-working statistician Ipsa Dixie is still on holiday vacation in Harpersville, but she left a note on my desk suggesting, after the angry part about another lawsuit if the dirty limerick about her is not removed from the men's room wall, that Possumblog readers visit the Tiger's website to get an idea of the disparity in the matchup--Penn State leads in every major category, including being nearest to the Latrobe Brewery.

As always however, despite all signs to the contrary, I cannot be called upon to predict failure for my team. Possumpick of the Day--Auburn 21, PSU 17.

As you were warned...

The story of the rest of my Christmas time off. RUN! RUN AWAY!

There now. As I mentioned yesterday, the rest of my time this past week was just as busy as the first day, but without as much heavy lifting. Sunday was church, lunch with Ashley's other set of grandparents and exchanging gifts with them (and bringing home a rather large cast resin angel for the yard), then back to church (and I was finally able to lead singing for once without coughing or loosing my place). Monday, up early (of course), did stuff all day and went to visit and exchange gifts with some of Ashley's other relatives and her other grandparents AGAIN (less said, the better), Tuesday was spent preparing the house for Santa Claus.

This involved convincing several small children to take their toys from the den and up to their room so Santa would not trip and sue us. This took all day. "Kids, get to work! Santa..." "Yes, Daddy, we know. We don't want Santa to fall and kill himself in our den floor." I did my final gift wrapping for Reba and got all of the kids to sign her Christmas cards, we had supper and gifts with Reba's mom and dad, which is where the earthworm part of the saga comes in. I took Catherine to the van to leave, and we saw a long redworm wriggling across the sidewalk. She watched it intently for a long time (it takes forever to get away from some places, you know) and talked to Mr. Earthworm about birds and Santa. As everyone finally got to the door, Cat screamed back (several times) that she had found an earthworm. Each kid came by and looked at it and got in, except for Rebecca who came running to the van oblivious to the continued Tiny Girl Earthworm Commentary. "Hey, SLOW DOWN! STOP RUn..." Right down on top of it. Which freaked Rebecca out and she started crying about killing Catherine's Mr. Earthworm. (ahhh, holidays!) She finally calmed down when she saw Mr. Earthworm wriggling again. (I dared not tell her he was in agony, only that he was just looking for the grass. It seemed to help.)

Got back home and bundled the kids all off to bed to await the arrival of the guy who keeps trying to send me to the poor house every year. Reba and I decided we better watch a movie for a couple of hours to make sure they were all truly asleep, so we popped in Ocean's 11. We hadn't seen this one before--good fun, lots of cool scenery, suspenseful, deft comedy. We liked it. And by the time it was over, the kids WERE asleep. And I just about was.

But, it was time for digging the hidden treasures out from our closet and sneaking them downstairs. I tried to be as quiet as possible, but for some reason, Reba was in full chatter mode and then Rebecca got out of bed and was stumbling around upstairs and I had to go get her back in the bed. "Why's Mama downstairs? What's going on?" "Nothing, sugar, she's just checking to see if Santa's come yet." "Why?" "Look, just go back to sleep and don't get up or he ain't EVER gonna get here!" "Okay."

Went back and finished arranging stuff and messing up a plate with a piece of cake and a glass with some milk, which was artfully left on the table for inspection by the crew in the morning. The final piece was the annual Toilet Papering of the Stair Landing. This is done to foil our oldest child, who since she was only seven or eight has been a real [expletive deleted--and boy is it a good one] about trying to sneak in and find out what everyone got before anyone else got up. The tissue is fragile enough to immediately indicate a breach of security, yet easily cleaned up and reused. And it drives Oldest batty. The other kids think it's great fun to tear it down, but she has taken to looking at it as a sign that we don't trust her. Which we don't, of course. The reasons for which will become apparent shortly.

I finish the papering, and Reba and I hit the bed exhausted as usual. I sleep the sleep of the dead until suddenly I hear the unmistakeable chatter of children. For a moment I can't think, then my eyes slam open. Our room is dark, it's dark outside, and yet there is light in the hallway. I look at the clock--3:15 a.-stinking-m. Immediate action--up out of bed in a flash, stormed down the hall to see Oldest lounging in her bed reading from a stack of books strewn about and Middle Girl sitting at the foot of the bed with her Gameboy, happily oblivious. It seems that Rebecca had gone to the bathroom (again) a short time earlier before I was awakened, noticed that Ashley's light was on and became engaged with her in the attempt to see when Santa arrives. "Yeah, Ashley said she had been up since 1!" Anger, hissed threats of harm and mayhem, apoplexy, books put away, game turned off, everyone back in bed with Dad's not too subtle suggestion that this little episode will never EVER be repeated upon pain of permanent placement on the naughtly list. Had the intended effect on Middle Girl--Oldest just kept shooting Middle Girl dirty looks as if it were her fault. ::sigh::

Three hours later, the kids are all up again, ready to go, except for Ashley who is still playing the sullen victim card (ahhh, the holidays!) but she did manage to grace us with her presence as we all saw what Santa brought. This year Catherine was very concerned about making sure Santa had eaten, and was delighted to see he had fixed himself some cake and milk and had gotten some raisins for Rudolph. The kids got most of what they had asked for (which wasn't a lot--they really aren't the greedy sorts, thankfully)--the big things were for Jonathan a guitar, Catherine a Barbie cash register, Rebecca a Password Journal (easily defeated by mere prying, by the way), and Ashley her own Gameboy.

I did manage to get Reba something other than a washing machine--she has been angling for a new electric blanket for years and I finally got her one, which she was tickled about. She got me the Band of Brothers tape set, which I watched in its entirety over the next couple of days. What an incredible production! I think it's the best World War II feature ever made. Just incredible. She also got me something that I think I will treasure for a long time.

As I have mentioned before, she does not know that I write this silly blog, nor does anyone else in my immediate family or my circle of physical acquaintances. I've just never felt the need to tell anyone, I guess because they would rightly think it's pretty dumb. Yet, in a bit of odd synchony, Reba gave me a small, pocket-sized antique book from 1901--we both like antiques, and antique books especially, but this one was interesting in that it was a book on writing--a concise little styleguide with spelling and grammar rules and forms of address that she found at a small decorating shop in town. It has a wonderful section on composition--basically, write what you know. Write with economy. Write to be understood. A more wonderful gift she could not have given me.

Thursday and Friday Reba had to go back to work, so those two days were spent playing with the kids' toys and trying to find sufficient batteries to make sure everything squeaked and peeped and blipped properly, and part of Friday was spent chasing around town picking up our paychecks and going to the bank and going for Rebecca's annual physical. Strep throat! (ahhh, holidays!)

Saturday, we finally did Christmas with my mom and sister, which thankfully did not require me to kill any house wrens. Nice dinner, after which the kids suddenly decided to let the various symptoms of cabin fever loose upon us all, requiring that Dad call a halt to the whole thing and haul them all out to the van and go home.

Sunday rolled back around and I spent morning and afternoon redoing the teacher roll for the millionth time. Grr. And then finally, made it back here.

The entire time I was off was spent away from the television and the computer--no blogging, no e-mail (sorry for the late replies, folks), no Googlewhacking, not even any Lileks--just a constant whirl of life. The last two days I have felt like Rip Van Winkle when I cruise back by and see my old virtual friends and what all they did while I was "gone." But, it sure will be nice when it comes around again. Like, say, tomorrow! Yep, tomorrow will be spent away from the computer, too, as my family and I drag a new year into being. I am not one for resolutions every year, but I think mine will be to start using "twenty." I am kinda tired of "two thousand." and I think it's high time we all started saying "twenty-o-three" instead of "two thousand and three."

So there.

Reader Mail!!

One of the many millio...tiny closely knit community of Possumblog readers reacts to my washer woes--from the sunny warmth of Da Range in Northern Minnesota, one Toni Albani writes:
Dear Waterlogged

Terry - you need to get a wet/dry shop vac!! Don't need no stinkin testosterone to know that! [...]
Toni also went on to compliment your host for his witty ramblings, stating that they are a useful tool for learning how to be from the South, for which I offer my thanks to Toni, and my humble apologies to all of Toni's neighbors who now must put up with the products of this education, the most annoying being Toni constantly requesting sweet tea at the restaurant.

Anyway, as to the question of the shop vac. As I told Toni, I have managed to do without a shop vac for all these years, but for a reason. Like nature, I abhor vacuums. Vacuuming was my chore at home (the vacuum cleaner was even called "Terry's vacuum") and although I am probably...who am I kidding, I AM the world's best vacuumer, I cannot stand having to do it. Let's face it, vacuuming sucks.

I thought when I got married that this would be one of those loathsome duties I could ditch, but I am still the only one who will get the vacuum out and clean the floors. The vacuum is now "Daddy's vacuum." Aargh. I will confess that I did buy a Dustbuster a couple of years ago that uses the same batteries as my cordless drill and screwdriver, but it was in a moment of weakness. I still hate vacuuming. The shop vac does have the advantage of being manly, but in the end, I just don't want another vacuum. Ever.

HOWEVER, if anyone wants to come over and vacuum for me, shop vac or whatever, please, PLEASE feel free!

Monday, December 30, 2002

Okay, so where was I?

Oh yeah! The Further Adventures of Life Along the Pinchgut, in which we find out that our hero is a Pathetic, Whipped, Knuckle-Dragging Moron, AGAIN! With other rude and disgusting stories of Earthworms, Turkey, Large Resin Angels, Tools, Rubber Hoses, The Infinite Variety of Cornbread Dressings, Ohhh Boy—You Rook at Deese Buttahns, Coal and Switches, Kris Kringle Survives—Despite Best Efforts of One Rude Twelve Year Old, Stomach Distress, and That’s Not Something You See Everyday. Our saga begins…

Saturday, December 21. It is warm. My eyes are closed but I can feel the sun high overhead. The waves are quiet and I can hear a few bathers a good distance down the beach. I have never been to the beach in the off season—this is incredible. I drift off to sleep again, then…bumpTHUMPcreak “The kids say something stinks downstairs and I smell it too—it smells like something overheating like wires or something—can you smell it up here?” I jerked up in bed and felt the sharp jab of every stiff muscle in my body, “OWW I MEANT TO GET UP WHEN YOU DID AND HELP YOU GET THE CLOTHES DOWN BUT I WENT BACK TO SLEEP WHAT’S WRONG LET ME GET DRESSED OW!!”

My eyes felt like I had slept face down in iron filings. “It’s okay, you don’t have to get up yet, but the washing machine just stopped, and I can’t get it going again.” I tried to breathe, but the entire left side of my head was clogged with sickly humours. I hacked and rubbed my eyes and looked at the clock. 7:05. Why yes, it’s much too late for anyone but lazy slugabeds! And yes, I’m quite sure that I did not have to get up then, just because a wife type person came in and woke me from a dead sleep.

I got my glasses and stood up and shuffled my way to the bathroom, where I was met by a horrifyingly grizzled drifter with wild standup hair and my underwear on. Reminded self not to look in mirror in mornings. Got ankle and knee and sinuses working, brushed teeth, shaved, got dressed and went downstairs to the laundry room.

Stench of the burnt flesh of Reddy Kilowatt. Tub full of water and blue jeans. 15 year old Kenmore. You do the math.

“Well, Reba, guess what’s for Christmas?” She guessed right. It had been leaking water intermittently for a while, along with a bit of oil. Finally decided to give up after many years of good hard service. AND GAVE UP ON STINKIN’ CHRISTMAS VACATION! STUPID RASACRASMAL*&&%$#. And all that. But at least I could act heroic and manly.

After a few minutes of study and butt scratching, the day’s sequence of events congealed in my head—drain water, remove door to laundry room, get washer out with hand trucks, move to driveway via garage for the charity appliance picker-uppers, take truck to store, buy gleaming monument to the genius that is America, drive back, crush self to death getting said appliance off of truck, find that death would be too easy, spatula self from under washer like Wile E. Coyote and walk around bobbing and squeaking like a concertina, roll new hole in bank account back into house, hook up hoses, complete laundry, congratulate self for having both an X and a Y chromosome, then hide.

A noble plan, indeed.

Well then, the water. Being the scientific genius I am, I realized that merely bailing the water out of the tub was much too base, and called for an elegant Heroic solution, namely the magic of the siphon. I rummaged around in my garage full of crap and came up short in the hose department. There were the abundant lengths of garden hoses, but they were all dirty and outside and probably full of slugs.

TO THE HARDWARE STORE! To buy hose. Franklin the Truck sputtered and hammered and flamed to life and coasted down to the foot of the hill, where we found that the local hardware store had no flexible tubing. (I guess because it’s not hard or something.) Next best thing? Why, washing machine hoses, bucko! They’ll be just long enough, or I could even hook them end to end!

(At this point, I will jump into the future of the story and remind both you and myself that washing machine hoses have two female ends, and are thus incapable of being joined together without a male-male coupling. I knew that one time a long time ago, but forgot it until the moment came when I opened the bag of hoses, at which point I sorta smacked myself in the forehead, like this *!*.)

OH, yeah, and I needed some hand trucks. Remember this—when you plan, make sure you plan based on the stuff you already have. Finally found a set which the hardware folks had been using around the store—20 bucks. A deal for sure. Oh, yeah, and a hinge. Why? Well, you see, when we moved in, the middle hinge of the laundry room door didn’t have a hinge pin, so I force-fit a slightly too big one in and the door had been slightly bound up too tight ever since. Of course, the best thing would be a hinge pin, but the hardware store was also devoid of these, too. I don’t know why. SO, I bought a hinge, with the idea that I would get its pin and be all better. Because I’m real stupid that way.

Got back, decided to go ahead and take door off, and found that brand new hinge and pin were the exact same slightly too big thing that I had tried to use five years ago. Crap. Oh well, probably won’t be the only trip to the hardware store today, he said with incredible prescience.

On to the water. Take out jeans and wring into tub. Prepare hose.

Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.
Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.
Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.
Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.
Slurp, two gallons into bucket, dump into toilet.

Continue about five more times. Include two slurps which lasted about a half second too long, resulting in getting a nice mouthful of cold, soapy, indigo stained water. Also give yourself a pain in your sternum to replicate that of having to physically hold the ends of hose down into both tub and bucket as water slowly drained. Watch about 45 minutes drift away from your otherwise rich and rewarding life. Finally, get out hated plastic dipper to get remaining water out of tub unreachable by end of hose and curse the very idea of having to soil the purity of the operation by bailing. Also take a moment to wonder why it was that in your first trip to the hardware store that you did not just purchase a small $5 electric pump. Finally, get several beach towels off of shelf and finish sopping up remaining water. Curse.

That done it was time to move some things and unhook hoses and cords and tubes. Hand trucks are used for a very crucial five minutes in order to swing old dead machine through doorway then into kitchen to the bewildered gaze of small children who suddenly felt the urge to gambol underneath Daddy while he was working. Silly, silly children. Go, children. Go, Go! Before Daddy has a coronary.

Get it placed just so outside so that it is not in full view of everyone and come back inside. “Guess what?” Aw crap. “What?” came my timid query. “The dryer vent has a split in it.” Whew. I was half expecting she had found Jimmy Hoffa or something. And that explains a lot about all the lint in the laundry room. In any case, dryer vent hoses are no problem for manly he-men repair guys like me, and provided an excuse for yet another trip to the hardware store. But this time, it was not just a hardware store, but the evil, crushing big-box brute known as Home Depot, which actually has appliances and hardware and stuff you would expect to find in a hardware store!

Franklin and I hit the road again and reached the strip mall which houses both Home Depot and a Super Target and about a half jillion other stores busting at the seams with Christmas shoppers. Resisting the urge to make better time by employing my revving engine/exploding muffler gag I finally got to the Promised Land and went inside.

Looking for good and cheap. Not too cheap, but not something for the Fortress of Solitude, either. Hmmm. $1,000 front load Maytag, eh. I got your lonely, mister. Finally found the Admiral toploads for more reasonable amounts of arms and legs and was met by a pleasant clerk who told me she should would be right back.

(Another break in the action here—please remember that I have not had breakfast yet, and am already in a swoon due to being in a giant hardware store, and this girl was a redhead.)

She came back and asked what I was looking for. Not too cheap, but not too expensive. We looked at the Admiral and found out it was not in stock. She really knew her machinery, though, and we looked at some Maytags and compared and contrasted. She said she loved the one her husband had bought for her. But doggone it, I told her, the same features of the Maytag could be had on that Admiral model for a hundred less bucks. She looked again and the Admiral couldn’t be delivered until after Christmas. Sigh. “Well, I guess I’ll run over to Sears and see what they’ve got.”

I hated to leave because she had been so nice. It’s hard to find clerks in big stores who actually know what they’re doing—they’re mostly kids with the social skills of a rock, and slightly less intelligence. And she just looked so darned cute in her scruffy, grubby, too-big gray jacket with the ends of the sleeves rolled up and her hair pulled back in a big clip and with her green eyes just a’looking at the computer. I guess she was my age or older, but she could have been a lot older, there was no way of telling without looking at her birth certificate. She had the signs of a life cleanly lived—no drinking or smoking or staying out too late or hanging with the wrong crowd and reading Cosmo and stuff—no wrinkles, just a couple of gray hairs, no makeup but didn’t need it anyway.

“Did you see the ones over on the other side of the aisle?” “You mean there’s MORE!” Hey, maybe I didn’t have to leave! There was a whole line of GEs over there, and she thought I had seen them. I walked over and started checking prices and features and then was hit by a sudden attack of the old fart. “But this has a plastic tub. I don’t think I want a plastic tub. Doesn’t the Admiral (that’s not in stock, remember) have a metal tub? Gee, plastic…”

Next thing you know, I would have started singing the praises of back when I had to use rocks. I guess I sounded like some clod who had just showed up at the computer store to upgrade from DOS—‘Oh, I don’t know about that Internet thing.’

She leaned on the one next to the one I was examining, “I really don’t think the tub should be a big concern—these are molded so that there are no snags like the older plastic tubs, and the material is a much more durable kind than they used even a couple of years ago. You’ll probably wear out the machine before you do the tub.” I raised back up out of the depths of the washer and turned toward her. Wow, she was good. Did I mention that she had deep chestnut red hair? And big green eyes?


Too late. I was just a big squishy bucket of goo. She wrote up the ticket and I hunkered over the counter admiring her short little fingers with the rough nails and that darned chestnut hair pulled back just so and the great big golf shirt she had on under the grubby gray jacket, and as I stood there handing over all of the Christmas money, I noticed that her shop apron had a wire loop full of little embroidered patches—must have been twenty or thirty. Each one saying “Employee of the Month.” In addition she had five or six more little metal pins across the top of the apron “Top Producer,” “Service Award,” stuff like that. NO BLEEDIN’ WONDER! Some poor sap wanders in looking for hinge pins and she sells him a $10,000 Generac.

HINGE PINS! Ooh, almost forgot that! And dryer vent hose! Yikes. Luckily, they had both, so even more Christmas money got spent on those items.

I went out to get the truck and wait for the washer to come from the back and mull over how it was that I got to be so pathetic when she motioned me back inside. Oh crap. Something bad. “You know I told you we had that one in stock? Guess what…” I was crestfallen, and it must have shown. “No, wait now. Come over here. That one was out of stock, but I got you the next model up for the same price. Is that okay?”


Well, of course it is!

Not to be outdone, she even laughed when I warned her not to let the loading guy scratch the bed of the truck (which is mostly rust held together by dirt and will power).

Got home and gingerly slid the machine out of the truck bed with no drama or death and got it right in and held Reba in thrall with the story of how it came to be ours. (Sans the rhapsodic paean to petite, softly-constructed, doe-eyed, mind-control-wave-generating sales clerks—this was distilled to “She was very sweet and helpful and she gave me a good deal.” No use pushing my Christmas luck.)

The dryer vent was replaced, the floor was scrubbed of accumulated motor oil and dirt, and the new machine was wrestled into place, the hoses hooked up (with the siphoning set to be held in reserve as replacements) and the plug shoved into the outlet. Success! And the hinge pin fit perfectly! Success! Sorta.

Just as I was putting the door back in place, the BOTTOM hinge half pulled its screws right out of the soft core of the door. CURSE WORD! The little short screws had stripped the holes long ago, and since the door was so hard to close, I had forgotten about it. Needed longer screws. TO THE HARDWARE STORE!

Slightly after noon, and I now am making the third trip to a hardware store. I grabbed the hinge that didn’t work before and went back to the bottom of the hill and exchanged it and got some longer screws. Home again, hinge half back on, all pins set, door swings like Barry Bonds now. Success!

But again, since I’m stupid, and since the morning had progressed without me killing myself with a major appliance, I started to think.

This is always bad.

You see, our microwave oven/range hood burnt out almost a year ago. I have gotten near weekly updates about how nice it would be to have a microwave that worked in the kitchen. I have just shot a huge hole in our account for a washing machine. But, we were going to have to replace it anyway, sometime. Right? Why not now? It’s Christmas, Reba has already decided large home appliances do make a pretty nice gift, I had a helpful person at the store, and I was in full testosterone, truck driving, beating and banging and destruction mode.

“Hey Reba. I was thinking…” “You want to replace the microwave, too?”

Good grief. In the Great Game of the Sexes, I am Chutes and Ladders. Yes, that’s what I wanted to do, so one more time, a’hunting and gathering I went. First stop—to look for Superwoman. Bad news. Shift change had caused my helpful young woman to evaporate into nothingness, replaced with dull-eyed dudes and this really stringy looking woman who had the misfortune to be walking by. “Do you have any of these in stock?” A simple question which led to much hand-wringing, two-way radio chatter with some other slack-brained yayhoo, much looking upward at the rows of boxes above, moving of ladders and some guy to lift and tote. Yes, they had exactly one of the kind I wanted. The guy she called climbed up and got it onto the floor and left to go smoke a joint. The box had a tremendous hole in one corner, and looked like it had been hastily retaped. I looked around in vain for anything else that would do, and finally asked if I could open the box to make sure it was not damaged. She tugged and pulled trying to get the tape off as I zipped it open with my pocketknife. (I bet Connie would have had a box cutter—a special gold-plated one with “Number One Employee” on it.)

Open the box, pull the microwave, and just as I suspected, it looked like it had taken a direct hit from a grenade. The whole side was dented in and the back was buckled. “Wow, it sure does look like it mighta got damaged! I bet if you’da tried to put that in, it probly wouldn’ta fit!” Thank you, Nancy Drew, for the stunning insight. I left her there with the pile of microwave parts and headed out for the other big box down the street, Lowe’s.

Lowe’s was a distinct contrast—huge rows of bright appliances (including the washer I had bought earlier—looks like I saved around $75 or so!) and two whole rows of over the range microwaves. I was standing there looking at a GE and a Frigidaire and suddenly I was swept up by a very nattily dressed, gray haired, bespectacled, and slightly effeminate sexagenarian Japanese sales clerk. “Oh, dis one vary good, and dis one vary good. You use dis thahmamotere to check the tempachu of tha food—verrrrry niiiiicce. And oh boy!, looka tha buttahns on here with popacor and baka pototu and bewarage. Verrrrrry nice. Not so much price as this one, but this have two rack for the cook food and it have---ohhhh, boy, looka that Niccce! You not go wrong either one vary nice and cook good. You like eat, yes? Of course you do!”

I wound up getting the Frigidaire, mainly because it did have the very cool thermometer probe. “Marry Creesmas—Happy New Year!” Good thing he didn’t have red hair, I suppose.

Anyway, got THAT home and proceeded to yank the old one and install the new. Which is much harder than it sounds and involves drilling holes into the cabinets which already had holes in them for the other microwave, and trying to make sure the new one doesn’t carom off my knee and fall into the floor and much euphemistic swearing and bad thoughts. Oh, and one more trip to the hardware store for something that I can’t even remember now.

Finally, along about five o’clock, it was done. And so was I. Then it was child cleaning time. Then it was time for me to collapse onto the bed.

And that was just the Saturday before Christmas. Each succeeding day until now was similarly full of stuff to do, but since it is now the end of my work day, I now must leave and go home and do more such superhuman tasks. And tomorrow, you will get to hear about some of the other promised tales and stories.

And yes, that is a warning.


Yes, I did manage to survive the holidays, and am now happily back at work so that I may get some well-earned sleep. But before that happens, I have an entire aircraft carrier-sized deck to swab of stuff that has built up over the past week and, of course, our Monday morning staff meeting to attend right now. I will be back. And yes, that is a warning.

Friday, December 20, 2002

It's about that time

All next week will be spent with the chilluns, so there will be little in the way of scrumptious possumy goodness for a while. I know you will all make it just fine. I do want to correct a misstatement I made earlier, however, when I said I had a long, navel-gazing post prepared. For the record, as a non-placental mammal, possums technically have no navel into which to gaze. I hope I have not caused any confusion.

In other matters, I would like to take a moment and thank all the folks who have visited Possumblog over the past twelve months. Some of you have become virtual old friends, and I greatly appreciate having made your acquaintance. May you, and all of the other ones of you who stumble in here searching for Norah O'Donnell naked, Jodi Applegate legs, the price of goat jelly in Malta, Patricia Heaton's clavicle, corporal tunnal sindroam, handguns, Underoos, what does finger smell like, possum fur, is Scotland fake, Brittiny Spiers, steakhouse Edina Minnesota, Lewitt-Him, moistened bint, Trent Lott in cheerleader outfit, nucular, liars, Hillary big ankles, Jim Dandy grits, rules of architecture, Alabama bloggers, James Lileks Newhouse, screaming fits, why does this hurt, and Mrs. Hanji Sal, likewise have a very merry Christmas.

Please keep dropping by, the door is always open.

See you all on the 30th.

THAT was fun!

Except for trying to cross Highway 280 at lunchtime, and trying to find a place to park in a lot with about 53% too few parking spaces. We aren't going back there--too much peoples, too crappy tiny foods.

Anyway, good conversation as usual. Topics included:

1. Former girl coworkers--I saw one at Target the other day, but I dared not speak to her since I had Screaming Tiny Child with me. She still looks REALLY nice, and she has FINALLY put on a few. Considering the way she used to eat (and still does, I guess), it's incredible beyond belief that she doesn't weigh 3,000 pounds. Good grief, she can pack the vittles away! The other former coworker, Big Tall Blond Marketing Girl, has gone and started another baby with her husband, which is okay, but she didn't check with us first. Sheesh. Some people, eh? I miss her a lot--after she got married a few years back she and hubby moved back up to their old hometown, so My Friend Jeff™ and I don't get to pal around with her anymore.

Of course, it could be the continued humilation of being around us that drove her away. Whenever we used to go out and have lunch with her, I would stand on the curb and make her stand in the gutter before I hugged her so I would be approximately the same height as her. She alway screamed with laughter, but somehow, now that she's gone, I think maybe I was being insensitive.


2. Christmas--families are the weirdest things known to man.

3. His brother-in-law's '58 Buick Super--in pieces all across his sister's house. Plans are to paint it red. AAAAAGGGHHH! MFJ™ even went to the trouble of buying a '58 Buick paint chart off of e-Bay (man, you can get anything on the Internet) for him to encourage painting it back the way it was--aqua and white. This advice was studiously ignored.

4. Presents--MFJeff™ made his wife a ceramic cannister set, and bought her a neat piece of handmade jewelry from some woman here in town named Kevin. Yes...Kevin. Just roll your eyes and get it over with.

5. Other assorted coworkers who now have other businesses and I best not speak about due to legal concerns.

6. Iron skillets--proper care and seasoning thereof. I think I mentioned a while ago that I got myself a set for Christmas to replace one that became rusted because someone left water in it. I will not say who, so as not to damage my chances for a little Christmas cheer.

7. Vehicles--he still has a jones on for a new vehicle, and now even Mrs. My Friend Jeff™ is wanting something bigger to haul around their two tikes and their playgroup frenz. He wants something with three rows of seats that is not a minivan and not a big SUV. The one that he really wants is a Honda Pilot, except for not quite so many grickles. I suggested something like this.

8. Other stuff--soup du jour, napkins, morons, sphincters, skateboarders, tipping, glassblowing, Louisiana, a bad case of the stomach nerves, mullets, Velveeta, valises, hubcaps, and spam.

All in all, a lunch well spent. Even if I did only get two magazines.

Know what time it is?

Why, it's time for another exciting lunch with My Friend Jeff™! Got a big stack of car magazines to swap with him today, and as usual, I will only get two in return. Piddling little CHEAPSKATE! That's why I like him, though.

Be back after while with manly stories of decorating tips and shoes.

Hey, hey, hey, goodbye...

Sen. Lott to Step Down As GOP Leader
WASHINGTON - Sen. Trent Lott will step down as Senate Republican leader, a senior GOP aide close to the Mississippian said Friday, two weeks after Lott's endorsement of Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential bid touched off a national uproar.

Well, I’ll be.

This stupid pile of crap is a year old! At 11:29:35, Thursday, December 20, 2001, I started writing this thing. A lot sure does happen in a year. Luckily, one constant has been stupid Blogger server problems.

Actually, it’s not really a surprise (my blogbirthday, not stupid, STUPID Blogger)—I’ve been anticipating the day for a while, and had come up with a overly long and tedious, contemplative, navel-gazing, sort of post talking about my thoughts about what I have been trying to do with this blog.

Maybe another time.

Seeing as I will be at home next week (and I really, REALLY doubt that I will have even five seconds free next week to post), I thought that instead of yakking on and on about my piddly concerns it might be good to remember that there are many hundreds of thousands of men and women this year who will not be complaining about the traffic and the jerk at Target, who will not be bemoaning the fact that Christmas is too secular, or too religious, who will not eat too much pecan pie, who will not tell their kids to calm down and be quiet, who will not worry about taking back the weird sweater, who will not dread going over to the Joneses, who will not wish Uncle Julio would shut up, who will not go to sleep halfway through the first quarter.

They keep watch and allow us to live our lives. They don’t do it simply for the money or the snappy looking free clothes. Their lot in life is a tough one, and dangerous. Yet, despite the danger, they stand there at the fenceline. Some folks hate them, hate what they represent—even some of the same people who thrive under their protection. Yet, there they stand.

It’s called duty, and honor.

I’m sure there are some of the stylish and sophisticated sorts out there who would be willing to argue the paint off a wall to the contrary. Fine. Whatever. Believe what you will, but as for me, life is too short to bother arguing with idiots.

Duty and honor mean something, otherwise, we would not exist as a nation.

So then, to the men and women who stand guard along the ramparts, thank you. May God grant you peace and strength.

Also, a special prayer of thanks for the men aboard SSBN 731, which proudly carries the name Alabama around the world. (This is the one instance in which it is very easy for this Tiger to say "Roll Tide!")

UPDATE--For some reason, the link to the USS ALABAMA website has been taken over within the last few hours by another Navy website for CREDO Pacific Northwest. I'm sure that someone will eventually get this fixed, but until then, you might want to check out this private site devoted to the ALABAMA.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

My Internet connection went down this morning after a few furtive moments clicking around on my morning blogwalk, explaining, in part, the lack of activity here at Possumblog. It’s odd not being able to know what’s happening on Internet time—surely I’m missing something. Or not.

Anyway, right now it’s about 9 a.m. Sometime in the future, I’m sure that the computer boys will have hooked the hose back up and this will be posted, but for the moment, let me tell you something…

You know, nothing says “office Christmas party” quite like a big pot of collard greens!

Not only does it give the table a touch of festive greenery, it smells just like Grandma’s house (after the toilet backs up, but right before she takes a big dip of snuff). Not only is it pretty and odorlicious, it is one of those holiday finger foods that you just can’t get enough of!

Why, why, WHY did someone bring a seven gallon stockpot of collards? All the rest of the stuff is normal holiday fare such as a meat and cheese tray, crudite, desserts, chips and dip, sandwich fixings…do we really need a mess of greens? Is this really someone’s idea of light finger food?

Now I love turnip and mustard greens and collards just like anyone else. But friends, at the office Christmas party they are just out of place, like a tur…well, I better not use that example or one will surely find its way into the punchbowl.

You think people are weird? Try working with a herd of bureaucrats.

In related news, it is now about 9:30, and I just went downstairs to get the first of many 20 ounce Diet Cokes I will consume today, only to find that the snack bar had been brightly decorated and posted with a sign saying it was closed so that the Finance Department could have their Christmas party in there.

Which would be just fine, except in their exuberant decorating frenzy, they completely covered up all of the vending machines with pretty red plastic sheeting! The door was open, so I went in and went to my beloved Coke machine. Completely covered. Coin slot, buttons, and product bin. Sealed for your protection.

Grrrrrr. Whadda bunch of inconsiderate bean-counting maroons!

Luckily, I am a real man and had at my disposal the means of liberating these poor oppressed vending machines—the terrifying one and a half inches of cheap folding serrated Japanese stainless steel quickly sprang from my pocket and sliiiiiiiiced across the top of the bin…snipsnipsnipped at the coin slot…and ::poked:: a button hole. In went my coins, out came my caffeine fix.

I imagine sometime today we will go into lockdown as the culprit is searched for.

Oh good lord, it’s getting worse. 10:15 a.m.

I just went to rid myself of about 8 ounces of that Diet Coke I bought 45 minutes ago, and found one of our little straw-boss drones in the men’s room, washing vegetables in the sink. I made a joke about him being like Kramer preparing a whole meal in the shower, but of course, since he works in an asylum and has no concept of popular cultural references, he just went right on washing his little baby carrots and cherry tomatoes and bits of cauliflower.

I don’t know about you, but I ain’t eatin’ ‘em.

11:15. The official start of our noontide repast, except there are no forks. Gosh, you think people who are PLANNERS would have thought that out a bit.

Sink-Washing Martinet Guy got to lead the prayer by virtue of his awesome authority—“’kay, let’s pray so we can eat!” With such heartfelt faith and piety, I’m surprised he didn’t say “in Jebus’s name” at the end of it.

Tim the Cheese Seller dude I wrote about last week brought a nice selection of runny French stuff. I know one was Brie, and there was another one beside it that I got a gooey wad of. I don’t know what it is (and don’t really care) but it has an interesting flavor of butter and pecan sawdust and Clorox. Those French!

I found out who brought the Pot o’Collards, and I’m not surprised. He could pass for a member of some conspiracy group (Left or Right—he has a real ecumenical spirit), except he’s just a bit too insane. Five minutes alone with him, and even Lyndon LaRouche would shake his head and let out a low whistle. Of course, I may have gotten on his bad side by opening the pot and loudly asking, “Hey, who cooked a Christmas tree!?”

My contribution to the whole shebang was sandwich bread. This happened because I made a concerted effort to hide from the list-bearer, but I was finally found and could not escape. So, sandwich bread. BUT, not just any sandwich bread—“exotic” sandwich bread. This is the term dreamed up by our psychotic administrative support specialist to describe anything not square and white. So my “exotic” selection consisted of Jewish rye, pumpernickel, and sourdough, all purchased from that well-known purveyor of all such exotic foodstuffs, the Food World grocery store in Trussville.

11:40. Just went back for seconds and in order to keep from coming across like such a total cheese rube (as if you care), I asked Tim what the variety was that I had gotten earlier. Sounded something like “Geaumlahflahmlah.” Again, those French, and that wacky language of theirs! So if any of you want any cheese that tastes like swimming pool chemicals, be sure to ask for it by name.

I got a few more little knickknacks and doohickies and Tim was holding forth to someone about the various cheeses, and I heard one little gem fly out, “blahblahblah…yeah, it’s a real popular cheese with people because it doesn’t offer a big challenge…blahblahblah.”

Well, gee-stinkin’-whiz, excuse ME! Don’t I have enough challenges in life without some derned bacteria-laden milk concoction making it worse! I DON’T WANT CHALLENGING CHEESE! I want cheese in a pressurized can, cheese whose ass I can whip, cheese that sits there quietly and takes orders from ME! HEY, you want challenging cheese, be my guest, but go all the way! How about some nice Gouda with blowfish poison sprinkles, huh!? There’s you a challenge! How about a nice U238/Camembert blend, feta with ricin, or a sultry Reggiano Parmigiano with the clap. I got yer challenging cheese RIGHT HERE, bub!

Anyway, the Internet connection is still not back up as of noon, so I am going to copy this to a floppy, go over to the library and post it (Lord willing and Blogger has not had another server disaster) and try to answer all the huge stacks of Nigerian e-mail.

12:30. SAYYYY, not so fast there, Fat Boy! I just walked over and was met with a sign stating that all Birmingham City Libraries are closed today for inventory. Must be getting ready for that last big push before Christmas or something.

And, it started raining.


So, I’m back here again.

FINALLY!!! 3:00 o'clock and it's working again. And nearly time to pack up my bread and go home.

Oh well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

From my mole at Hill AFB, some sad news about a particular Holiday--Religious, Christian (Protestant), Christmas--Mark II, version Twelve Day...

Twelve Days of Christmas, DoD Style

The President has authorized the Department of Defense to assist Santa with the Twelve Days of Christmas. Status of acquisitions follows:

Day 1- Partridge in a pear tree: The Army and Air Force are in the process of deciding whose area of responsibility Day 1 falls under. Since the partridge is a bird, the Air Force believes it should have the lead. The Army, however, feels trees are part of the land component command's area of responsibility. After three months of discussion and repeated OpsDeps tank sessions, a $1M study has been commissioned to decide who should lead this joint program.

Day 2 - Two turtle doves: Since doves are birds, the Air Force claims responsibility. However, turtles are amphibious, so the Navy-Marine Corps team feels it should take the lead. Initial studies have shown that turtles and doves may have interoperability problems. Terms of refererence are being coordinated for a four-year, $10M DARPA study.

Day 3 - Three French Hens: At State Department instigation, the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs has blocked off-shore purchase of hens, from the French or anyone else. A $6M program is being developed to find an acceptable domestic alternative.

Day 4 - Four Calling Birds: Source selection has been completed, with the contract awarded to AT&T. However, the award is being challenged by a small disadvantaged business.

Day 5 - Five Golden Rings: No available rings meet MILSPEC for gold plating. A three-year, $5M accelerated development program has been initiated.

Day 6 - Six Geese a-Laying: The six geese have been acquired. However, the shells of their eggs seem to be very fragile. It might have been a mistake to build the production facility on a nuclear waste dump at former Air Force base that was closed under BRAC.

Day 7 - Seven Swans a-Swimming: Fourteen swans have been killed trying to get through the Navy SEAL training program. The program has been put on hold while the training procedures are reviewed to determine why the washout rate is so high.

Day 8 - Eight Maids a-Milking: The entire class of maids a-milking training program at Aberdeen is involved in a sexual harassment suit against the Army. The program has been put on hold pending resolution of the lawsuit.

Day 9 - Nine Ladies Dancing: Recruitment of the ladies dancing has been halted by a lawsuit from the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Association." Members claim they have a right to dance and wear women's clothing as long as they're off duty.

Day 10 - Ten Lords a-Leaping: The ten lords have been abducted by terrorists. Congress has approved $2M in funding to conduct a rescue operation. Army Special Forces and a USMC MEU(SOC) are conducting a "NEO-off" competition for the right to rescue.

Day 11 - Eleven Pipers Piping: The pipe contractor delivered the pipes on time. However, he thought DoD wanted smoking pipes. DoD lost the claim due to defective specifications. A $22M dollar retrofit program is in process to bring the pipes into spec.

Day 12 - Twelve Drummers Drumming: Due to cutbacks only six billets are available for drumming drummers. DoD is in the process of coordinating an RFP to obtain the six additional drummers by outsourcing; however, funds will not be available until FY 05.

As a result of the above-mentioned programmatic delays, and due to a high OPTEMPO that requires diversion of modernization funds to support current readiness, Christmas is hereby postponed until further notice.
That is all.

Congratulations to Axis of Weevil Ministress for Venture Capitalism Elizabeth Spiers on the launching of her new collaborative effort with Jason Kottke and Nick Denton known to the world as GAWKER, which promises radical Manhattanism in the form of "a live review of city news, and by news we mean, among other things, urban dating rituals, no-ropes social climbing, Condé Nastiness, downwardly-mobile i-bankers, real estate porn -- the serious stuff."

Heaven help us all.

Keeping and Bearing

Man shoots would-be carjacker; second suspect escapes
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A U.S. Marine sergeant shot and killed a would-be carjacker in an exchange of gunfire in the drive-thru lane of a fast-food restaurant near a military base, police said Wednesday.

Lt. Huey Thornton, a police spokesman, said the fatal shooting was viewed by investigators as a case of self-defense and no charges were filed.

The Marine suffered a gunshot wound to the face but it was not believed to be life-threatening. Thornton said the Marine, identified as Sgt. James Lowery of Havelock, N.C., was hospitalized and expected to make a full recovery.

Thornton identified the dead man as Thaddeus Antone, 19, of Montgomery.

He was killed when he allegedly tried to commandeer Lowery's Chevrolet Suburban in the drive-thru lane of a McDonald's restaurant about 9:40 p.m. Tuesday near the entrance to the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base. [...]
Semper Fire

As I have noted before, I am probably in the top 2- to 3,000 smartest Marsupial-Americans in the entire state of Alabama who have their own blog. I don't say this out of false pride or anything, but simply to show that there is a reason that the whole world turns to Possumblog for important information and facts. Like this nice person who just Googled his way in here searching for List of Heights and weights of German Politicians. I bet William F. Buckley, Jr. doesn't get questions like that. That's because he don't know SQUAT about such things.

ON the other hand, the Possumblog Statistical Research Council is quite happy to oblige!

We have just completed a survey of Bundestag members for the last ten years, with age, weight, sex (if determinable), height, political party, and shoe size, tabulated and bound in 48 volumes, each one produced using the most modern environmentally sensitive production processes, using recycled lint and soy ink. A companion Statistical Abstract with analysis of the raw data is also available, bound into a set of 63 volumes. An Executive Version can be procured, richly covered in non-petrochemically derived leatherlike material, in either brown or buff, with the spine and cover imprints embossed in gold leaf. A Standard Yearly Update Atlas is just now being printed, which includes Fold Out Maps, Pronunciation Chart, SI-English Conversion Data, Errata, Deletions, and Additions. The Update is handsomely printed in two colors, and is a handy 6,500 page single volume, made even more convenient by the addition of two handles. The entire set of materials is only USD25,000,000 (EUR24.357.387,42; DEM47.637.819,87 plus applicable customs duties or VAT). Send your order today, and you will receive a FREE poster of David Hasselhoff!

The other day, reader Garland Stewart (oops--not Smith, and I KNOW better--sorry Garland) sent me a note to ask that you all vote for Big Al as the Capital One Mascot of the Year. Although it hurt really, REALLY bad to encourage such behavior, I do understand that it would be even worse for someone outside of our fair state to take home the big prize.

So does Miss Lee Ann over at Spinsters.com, who has taken the time to detail the foul and horrifying drawbacks of all the other mascots, thus making your decision even easier:
[...] Buzz the Yellow Jacket (Georgia Tech) – A bee? A killer bee? Sure, he wants you to think he’s a harmless mascot, until he turns on you and harpoons you with his poison-filled stinger! That’s biological warfare. Smooth move, Saddumb. Voting for Buzz would just be letting the terrorists win.[...]

You know, if the Travelling Shoe fits...

Excellent post from well-known hotdog connoisseur and smart guy H.D. Miller:
It's not often I get taken to task for something I wrote nearly eight months ago, and it's even less often it happens in a foreign language. But, that's exactly what the writer at this Spanish site does. Here's an excerpt for those of you who read the Español.

Un ex-soldado del Ejército de los Estados Unidos no tuvo mejor cosa que hacer que pasearse por las páginas del diario El País y leer una noticia acerca de la muerte de un bebé palestino prematuro, debida a la tardanza de una ambulancia que fue detenida en un control israelí. El susodicho ex-soldado, ataca en su weblog al periódico español, tildándolo poco menos que de fascistoide y antisemita.

What's sad about this rant is that the writer, a typically sactimonious Euro-twit, gives away the game in the opening sentence by identifying me only as an "ex-soldier of the American army," neglecting to mention that I've been out of the Army (after a very brief career) for nearly 15 years. (I might now best be described as a rather undistinguished assistant professor of history, although I'm sure that doesn't fit his needs.) It's clear what he is trying to do; the intent is to tar me with the broad brush of wicked American militarism rather than to address the issues I raised in my original post. [...]
Tip for Euro-twits: Assuming all Americans are simple and dull can be very embarrassing for you.

But, then again, it is a quite satisfying read as Mr. Miller does a nice multi-lingual job of tearing our poor Spaniard a new one.

Former child star Adam Rich of "Eight is Enough" arrested for alleged DUI
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- One-time child actor Adam Rich, who starred in the 1970s TV show "Eight Is Enough," was arrested early Wednesday after he drove onto a closed highway lane and nearly struck a California Highway Patrol car, authorities said.

Rich, 34, who played Nicholas on the series, was booked for investigation of driving under the influence, CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos said.

Rich was driving on Interstate 10 when he almost struck a CHP patrol car parked in a lane that was closed for maintenance, authorities said. [...]

I suppose eight really is enough when your hammering back adult beverages containing the fruity bouquet of ethanol.

Lott vows to stand and fight to keep his job as Republican majority leader

Wow. He really IS sorta slow on the uptake. I guess it's all part of that learning process he keeps saying he has gone through over time, huh. Maybe in 30 or 40 years, he might be able to figure out that he's fighting the wrong fight.

I love pot stickers. Tender, flavorful, and apparently slightly hallucinogenic when purchased from the grocery store.

Reba got some the other day and we steamed them up last night.

Not without high drama, as is normal around our house. In her distracted state of preparation, she inadvertently let all the water boil out of the double boiler and nearly set a good Revereware saucepan on fire. She was fussing and fuming and the pot had gotten to that ominous black color that signifies the start of Something Bad, so I managed to wrestle it away from her and quench it in the sink. It took several minutes to finally cool off (it's one of those with the extra thick bottom. HEY! No jokes about me!) Just as that crisis was abated, one of the kids said something about it.

Kids. So young, so full of curiosity. So oblivious to danger.

After a good dose of verbal guiltlashing, they remained remarkably quiet for the rest of the meal. Hey, they CAN learn! If Mama ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy--learn it, live it. Anyway, the pot stickers were great even though those last few had an...odd flavor. And they were accompanied by nice crunchy spring rolls, and I ate too many of both. Which led me to my discovery of their odd power.

Sometime after going to bed last night, I started dreaming about work. I was looking at some old aerial views of Birmingham, and there were all these cool buildings that have never existed except in this particular dream. I saw one that was really neat, and it appeared to be just across the street from City Hall. In the aerial, it was huge and had two low wings on each side of a gigantic dome or something. I thought how cool it would be to go through it, and then I was no longer at my desk, but walking down the street. (As with all my dreams, part of the time I was not really walking, but drifting along while laying on something, sometimes stopping for a quick nap along the way)

Suddenly, I got to where the building in the picture was supposed to be, and HEY! It's still here! The storefront was all covered up with huge sheets of glass and wood framing, but you could look up and see the tall part which was not a dome, but a tower like the prow of a ship, sort of like the Flatiron Building, except razor sharp, with no windows or decoration. I walked around to the side and there was a large construction fence and a job trailer and some folks milling around with hard hats. Hey, lucky me, I had one on, too! (One of my obscure Rules of Architecture is that someone with a hard hat and a clipboard can get in anyplace in the world)

I asked some woman what was going on and she said they were doing a safety inspection and they all started climbing through a small hole in the fence. No one stopped me, so I tagged along and found myself inside of a dark old building with all sorts of beams and scaffolding and junk all over the place. (Think Piranesi.) We walked and climbed over stuff, and finally got to a stair lobby, which looked like something in an old Sears store--crappy panelling, mod fixtures, battleship linoleum. There was a ladder going up, and the idea was that you climbed up a bit, and then grabbed onto something like a rolling swing that took you around to another part of the building. I decided just to walk.

We were then all in a tiny little dark kitchen, which looked like it had not been cleaned in ages. I said something to some guy beside me about those cookies sure looking good, because there was this plate of cookies sitting on an old stove and I thought I was joking. I then looked, and the cookies actually DID look pretty good and then it dawned on me that someone had been cooking, as if someone was living in the place. Weird! And boy, some food sounded good right about then. We walked on through a door, and came to a bright open room with a fireplace and nice furniture. We couldn't figure out what was going on, and figured that the building must have a caretaker of some sort who lived there. And then, right there on top of the TV was a picture of my son! HEY! These people are RELATED to ME! I started trying to go through all the relatives I had sent pictures to who lived in abandoned buildings, and couldn't think of a one. Continuing our tour, the rooms were scattered all over the place, and there were these cool flat screen TVs everywhere, playing short loops of family pictures, sort of like the paintings in Harry Potter. Big ones, little picture frame sized ones, ones above the mantle, one used as a table. The place was huge and the more we walked around, the more "glamorous" it became, in that Lileksian Interior Desecrator's mode--like something out of a mid-'70s Architectural Digest.

We looked out of a window, and there was a gigantic park behind the building so I walked out on the roof. (Of course. It WAS a dream, after all). There was no trace of the city, or even of the odd tower thing--it just looked like a nice old mansion on nicely kept grounds. I went back inside, and met up with some of the other people in the group, and we came to a surprising conclusion. It seems that DONALD TRUMP owned the building, and was, in fact, LIVING IN IT! I was about to go ask him how he got one of our family pictures when I heard a strange shoooosh...





I opened my eyes and heard it again...shoooosh.

I dazedly figured out it was Tiny Girl, scooting along the floor of our bedroom on her butt, trying to sneak into bed with us. Raspy whisper, "Catherine!"

No answer.

Another low, hoarse, try-not-to-wake-wife call, "CATH-ER-INE!" (Shades of Pete--"DO. NOT. SEEK. THE. TREAS-URE!")

I was hanging my head off the side of the bed, and she jumped up right in my face. Yes, it is scary when that happens. I whispered and asked her if she had wet the bed. No answer, which can be bad news. I asked again, and she shook her head "No," which is usually good news, if she is actually telling the truth. I figured I would send her right back to bed, and then...

The alarm clock went off.


I hoisted the dense little sack of wet cement up into the bed and turned on the news, and after a minute or two, she was back out again, happily snoring and kicking me in the groin. And giggling her head off in her sleep. The pot stickers must have had a good effect on her, too.

(And I also found out this morning that the combination of spring rolls and pot stickers are not only hallucinogenic, but greatly flatulegenic, too, but I won't bore you with lurid tales of the Thunder From Down Under)

ANYway, I have work to do, so I will see you this afternoon sometime.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

It's getting to be about that time...

...and I have to be here extra early tomorrow morning so as to protect the good citizenry from the perils of bad color schemes, and then I will need to do a intensive writing job on the minutes of that meeting in order to get the rest of my stuff done for the week, so I can have a nice Christmas break and not worry about things here at the office. (Shyeah, right!)

So then, if I don't get to come out and play very much tomorrow, rest assured that I have an excuse.

Seminoles' QB Rix Declared Ineligible
By BRENT KALLESTAD, Associated Press Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State quarterback Chris Rix must miss the Sugar Bowl against Georgia because he overslept and failed to take a final exam.

Rix was declared ineligible Tuesday, leaving the Seminoles without their top two quarterbacks as they prepare to play the Southeastern Conference champion Bulldogs on Jan. 1.

Backup Adrian McPherson was kicked off the team last month for his involvement in a check-writing scam.

Rix slept through a religion exam, an automatic suspension under a rule established after former Seminoles' star Deion Sanders played in the '89 Sugar Bowl despite not taking any final exams.

"It's an academic decision, there's no chance for him to play in the Sugar Bowl," coach Bobby Bowden said. [...]
Bummer, dude.

Most have never used new dollar coin despite three-year campaign, survey says
The Associated Press
12/17/02 3:35 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose replacing the dollar bill with a coin, but many change their minds when told the switch could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, a poll commissioned by Congress finds.

Despite a three-year, $67.1 million marketing campaign by the U.S. Mint, people remain attached to their greenbacks and show little interest in filling their pockets with golden dollar coins, the General Accounting Office said Tuesday.

While 70 percent of people have heard of the new coins, only 5 percent have plunked one down at a cash register and fewer than 2 percent have used them to operate vending machines, toll booths or for mass transit, according to the GAO-sponsored Gallup survey on how people feel about U.S. coins.

It is the second time in recent decades a dollar coin has failed to catch on; the silvery Susan B. Anthony coin, often mistaken for the quarter, was minted in 1979-81, rereleased around the turn of the century and has largely disappeared. Addressing the problem, Congress in 1997 required the new dollar coin to be golden in color. [...]
As long as the bill remains in circulation, there will never be mass appeal of a dollar coin. It would also help if the dollar coin didn't look like a Chuckie Cheese token; "golden" in this case being more along the lines of "creme" filling. The color does not age gracefully--the stacks I got for the kids looked fine when they came out of the drawer at Wal-Mart (remember when they were the distribution point to foist these off on people?), but even just sitting unused in my change bowl, they quickly looked worn. Not patinaed like copper, or satiny like nickel, just faded like a cheap giveaway prize out of a gumball machine. The Mint says they are made of manganese-brass, but whatever it is, it sure looks cheap. I don't guess it matters one way or the other since they have stopped making them.

Yasser Arafat says he accepts U.S. peace roadmap in principle
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said Tuesday, after several months delay, that he has in principle accepted the United States-proposed roadmap for peace in the region. [...]
Wow. I feel all better.

Stranger returns cash found at gas pumps
OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) -- Thanks to a good Samaritan, Christmas will be merry for a woman who thought she had lost her holiday cash.

The good Samaritan, Richard Coffey, found an envelope containing $600 near the pumps of a gas station in front of an Opelika Wal-Mart store Sunday evening.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said that Coffey never considered being a grinch and pocketing the money, but instead turned it in to authorities.

The envelope belonged to Sheree Finley, who came to the station Monday looking for her missing money. Station employees told her to call the sheriff. [...]
You know, it's a bit of a sad commentary when someone doing the right thing is considered newsworthy.

The Rednecks Take Over America
[...] Though Redneck Nation is smart-mouthed and light-hearted (you will not be surprised to learn that [author Michael] Graham once worked as a stand-up comic), and it doesn't pretend to be a serious political book, its author does make some sober points between the riffs and jibes. On the subject of race, he says that today's left-wing neo-segregationists are morally worse than the white Jim Crow supporters, like his grandmother. ''But she didn't grow up with the memory of a martyred Martin Luther King, Jr., and she couldn't benefit from forty years of intense public struggle over the ridiculousness of racial obsession. You and I have,'' he writes.

Take Sen. Trent Lott (R., Yoknapatawpha County), who was inadvertently making Graham's case the other day when he said that America would've been better off if it had voted for Segregationist Strom for president in 1948. Well, that did it. Now Lott is being instructed in righteousness by the Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane of black America. I refer, or course, to Jesse Jackson and his not-so-bright disciple Al Sharpton, the most notorious racialist hornswogglers north or south of the Mason-Dixon line. Few media people seem to find this objectionable, or even particularly funny, because hey y'all, we're all rednecks now.'' [...]

Oh good grief

First it was the "Brutal Afghan Summer" (or Winter--take yer pick), and now we have the Brutal Iraqi Summer...U.S. Could Fight Iraq in Summer Heat-British Source
By Howard Goller

LONDON (Reuters) - A British defense source said on Tuesday that searing desert heat would not prevent the United States from leading a war against Iraq in summer, defying conventional wisdom the weather would stand in Washington's way.

"It is a factor that has to be considered but it's not a crucial factor in the sense that it would stop anything happening," the source said. [...]
Conventional wisdom, eh? Now I realize that Iraq has a lot of desert, but for the record, Baghdad is at latitude 33 degrees, 20 minutes north--while that wonderful town of Tuscon, Arizona where little old people go for the nice dry hot weather sits even further south, coming in at latitude 32 degrees, 08 minutes north.

Yeah, it's searing heat alright. But it's a dry searing heat.

(And by the way, my hometown is at 33 degrees, 37 minutes north)

As you all know...

I am a very deep thinker. Just the other day, I thought how much better this world would be if someone would come up with better single-site catalysts based on caged diimide ligands. And then in my morning blogstroll, I note that someone did!

Congratulations, Greg! (And glad to hear Miss Possum is bouncy again.)

Monday, December 16, 2002

I post this under extreme duress...

This just in from long-time reader Garland Stewart:
Dear Friends,

Big AL, the University of Alabama's mascot, needs your help!! Even if you're not from Alabama, how could you not be for Big Al?

Big Al is in the top 12, for All-American Capital One Mascot Team. At present he has only 6% of the vote. Tennessee, Penn State, Miami and the Air Force are whoopin' him so far. Even if you're a War Eagle, don't you want our state to win?! Let's put Alabama on the Mascot Map!

We only have until December 20, to turn this thing around for Big Al. So, click below and vote. Remember, only one vote is allowed per person. And please don't forget to forward this to every Southerner you know.

Roll Ride!

Vote for Big AL - Alabama's Mascot http://www.capitalonebowl.com/mascot_vote.php



Hold on a minute. MMMMMmmmph.





Must. Not. Curse.

The Possumblog Editorial Staff ask that you please support Big Al in his bid to become America's favorite mascot.

Hhhhhmmmmmmmmmm. ::heavy sigh::

Man, that hurt.

Have a cuppa, luv...
[...] It was now evening, and I immediately dressed myself in the costume of an Indian, equipped with a small hatchet, which I and my associates denominated the tomahawk, with which, and a club, after having painted my face and hands with coal dust in the shop of a blacksmith, I repaired to Griffin's wharf, where the ships lay that contained the tea. When I first appeared in the street after being thus disguised, I fell in with many who were dressed, equipped and painted as I was, and who fell in with me and marched in order to the place of our destination. [...]
Via America's Homepage at the Georgia Institute of Technology, an account written by George Hewes, a participant in the Boston Tea Party, which occurred this night 229 years ago.

Thanks from us all, Mr. Hewes.

Bellicose Women Update

Ohio Teen Girl Tackles, Hogties Intruder
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - A petite 17-year-old girl awakened by intruders sprinted from her house barefoot in pajamas and tackled one trespasser, pinning and hogtying him for police.

Melissa Alexander said her experience training horses and playing soccer and softball helped her as she took down the taller and heavier 18-year-old man. Two others were arrested later, and police were looking for a fourth suspect.

"I still don't know what came over me," Alexander said Thursday. "I wasn't thinking at first, then he started making me mad."

Her mother marveled at the feat.

"She had it all under control," Vickie Stanley said of the 5-foot-3, 110-pound daughter she described as "a little bitty thing."

Police said the man Alexander tackled — Jason Burkett, of Brookville — is 5-foot-10 and 140 pounds. [...]
Heh heh.

Adventures in Headline Writing

Shelby to continue hunt for terrorists in new banking post

...and how they got in my new banking post I'll NEVER know!

Fragmentary Fred First of Floyd Flees Flummoxed Fileserver, Failsafes to Friends Flat For Fortnight (or so)

It appears fellow Weevilite Fred First has been having some troubles with the host of his blog, so is hanging out in Ron Bailey's bloghouse until matters are settled. Be sure to keep a lookout for when Fred gets his new domain mastered, and until then, Fragments from Floyd can be found here.


LOOK! Across the pond! It's a pest! It's a misguided moron! IT'S CAPTAIN EURO!!!! Via Mac Thomason, the next installment of our wondrously non-heroic nanny stater, as Captain Euro takes on...

[...] EURO: Citoyens, what seems to be the trouble?

RIOTER: A European! Get him! [Throws a rock at EURO. It hits him in the head.]

EURO: Ow. Please, gentlemen, let us discuss this like rational men. [The RIOTERS throw more rocks, eventually bringing EURO to his knees.] Please, ow, don -- OW!

[As the RIOTERS approach, EURO is dragged away by a golden lasso.]

WONDER WOMAN: What were you trying to do there? You can't just stand there and let them hit you with rocks. [A rock sails towards them, but WW deflects it with her bracelet and it harmlessly falls on EURO's head.]

EURO: Ow. Cover yourself, woman!

WW: What?

EURO: No wonder they're rioting, what with your scandalous attire!

WW: I just got here. They're rioting because someone made a joke, I think. [She drags EURO out of the path of the riot.]

EURO: Well, you certainly shouldn't encourage them. There's a shop near here where you can get an abaya. [...]
Mmmm. Wonder Woman.

On the Twelve Days of Christmas, Charles Austin gave to me...

So stinkin' many Scourges of Richard Cohen that my comprehension of Roman numeral has been exhausted--they are LXVII, LXVIII, and LXIX, which I believe translates to 100, 143, and 96. Maybe not. Anyway, entertaining as shooting fish in a barrel can be!


Well, that certainly was an entertaining weekend.

Did I mention that I got an e-mail from Denise McClug...oh, yeah I did, didn't I. Many thanks to Bill Quick over at the Daily Pundit for sharing in my glee and sending a bunch of folks over this way on Saturday. I'm just sorry I didn't spruce up a bit more, but as usual, I never expect anyone to drop by except the regulars who have grown accustomed to the mess around here. In any event, thanks to Bill, and also thanks to fellow blogger and fan of Larry Shinoda Ron Bailey who wonders what Harley Earl would think of a Pontiac Aztek. I imagine he would think it was a very interesting dumpster, but might complain that the lift gate is a bit too high to comfortably empty a garbage can into. Then again, he might just set it on fire. Or pee on it. Good thing he's dead. One thing Ron mentioned is that he once bumped into Automobile Magazine's Jean Jennings (nee Lindamood) at the Mall of America--I look forward to hearing the exact details of that one. (Lindamood's another cool gearhead/gun nut chick I wouldn't mind driving cross country with.)

Speaking of my inelegantly named official list of "Old Broads I Would Really Like To Meet and....Well, You Know," reader Bet Mulligan from down in Inverness, Florida, wrote in with her thoughts on the New Beetle v. Real Beetle, and congratulated me on getting such a nice Christmas present from Miss Denise:
Congrats on getting that neat email from the car columnist! As an aspiring Old Broad myself, I smiled a mile wide when you sighed over her :)
For those who would take offense at the term "old broad," rest assured you are NOT on my list. And won't be on it. Ever.

For the rest of you, I think by now you know me well enough to know the qualities I ascribe to such women--self-sufficient, confident, mentally agile, brave, wise, full of life and humor, enjoys being around guys--even when they act like guys. And yes, you need to have some age on you. This doesn't mean that you young ladies can't shoot for old broad status--keep working at it, but a lot of the magic comes from perservering and fighting and building up some battle damage over the years. If you can still manage to crack a smile or still get all goosey when you get dressed up to go out, even when life has been unkind, you've managed to do something. Or, if you have finally overcome that muzzle blast induced trigger flinch. Or figured out how to heel-and-toe.

ANYWAY, the weekend was a blur of children and shopping for Mama. Target, Books-A-Million, Michael's, Target, Wal-Mart, Hallmark, Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacy, Target, Wal-Mart. I still have difficulty getting the kids to concentrate on gifts for Mom rather than cool stuff they want Mom to have so they can play with it. SO, among other more Mom-appropriate items, Catherine got her a little stuffed Clydesdale, and Lil' Boy got her a Bedtime Care Bear with a lullaby video. I can't really complain, though. Several years ago after noticing how many times she asked me to cut something with my pocketknife, I got a cool little thumb-opener with a light on the end so you could see your door lock and gave it to her. She was somewhat less than thrilled, so I told her I would be glad to carry it for her. Still carry it to this day. And still tell her it's hers.

Honestly, I really can't remember much else--just lots of "Don't touch!" and trips to the restroom, which I believe will last for only another 12 years or so.

And today, and the rest of the week for that matter, will be spent trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible so that I can be on vacation next week. The whole week will be spent nestled into the bosom of my family, and I'm sure that I will only be slightly more insane after the end of it.

Or not.

So then, to work!

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Life is Sweet

A few months ago in September, I wrote a post about Buick's new ad campaign using some thumb-faced mook in a fedora claiming to be Harley Earl--in part, it read like this:
"What's that strange whirring sound? Why, it's none other than Harley Earl, spinning in his vault at about 8,000 RPM, that's what! Only got to see the last part of the Emmy Awards last night, but enough to be assaulted with some greasy, fedora-clad shmoo trying to convince me that he was Harley Earl and that he would actually be caught (even dead) within 50 feet of a Buick Rendezvous, much less that he would claim that it would represent his vision of the future! I have not seen these particular ads before, and hope I don't have to see them again. I have posted before about how the Cadillac "Break Through" ad campaign with the spot using the '59 Caddy is dumb, and about how GM seems incapable of appealing to the people who actually remember when they made desirable cars, and how they seem so incredibly inept when mining their own design past (i.e. the new "Impala" has four big ugly round tailights, which to those-who-know means "cheap-ass Biscayne," and all the Buick show cars have rediscovered Ventiports, yet the designers seem not to know that three per side says "cheap-ass Special"), and now these piles of crap advertisements.

The one with all the reporters was especially horrid, in that despite the fact that men used to wear hats, they also had the common sense to take them off INDOORS. Ah, but hats have that certain post-ironic iconography about them, I suppose. Anyway, if Buick really wanted to mine the past, why not skip Earl completely and go for Billy Mitchell, whose sublime '63 Riviera is a certified milestone and really set the tone for the whole Buick line during the '60s and '70s."
So imagine my supreme pleasure in when I got home last night, seeing that I had received my AutoWeek last night, and turning to Denise McCluggage's column:
I'll bet Harley Earl is doing 7500 rpm in his grave. It's that Buick ad campaign with the tag, "My name is Harley Earl and I've come back to build you a great car." More correctly: "to witness the desecration of my image."

Before Harley Earl, automotive stylists did not exist; he invented the genre. First with fanciful coachwork on bare chassis for Hollywood starts, then by heading the Art and Color (later Style) Department at General Motors, the first ever in the business. That was 1927. [...]

Harley Earl in his day (he died in 1969 at age 75) had greater influence over what more people drove than any other stylist. He even had a reverse influence. I, for instance, fled from his "longer, lower, wider" to "smaller, simpler, plainer" and opted for MG-TCs and a Jaguar XK140 MC.

Harley Earl's vision was not for me; nonetheless, I knew him and respected his flamboyant visions.

Thus I cringe when admen plunk a snap-brim fedora on a face better suited to cadging drinks in an Irish bar, have it rave about "minivans" and "SUVs" (longer, lower, wider?) and simply embarrass the hell out of anyone with any regard at all for GM history. [...]
Any of you out there who are amateur writers know that there is absolutely NOTHING like having a pro print something that validates your view of something. For those of you who are motorheads, there is nothing like reading the snappy prose of Ms. McCluggage, a giant in the industry who has been at her game for the whole history of the sports car movement in the United States, as both a writer, a photographer, and a driver (and is on my official list of "Old Broads I Would Really Like To Meet and....Well, You Know"). So surely you must know how I felt when I saw that she had the same thoughts about this as I did. I could barely contain my glee, and had to send her a note to let her know I thought she was dead on. I included the bit I wrote, and wished her well, not expecting ever to hear back. She is sorta busy after all. Then I woke up and checked my e-mail this morning:
Hey, great minds rev in the same RPM range! Your piece is terrific.

I got one dissenting letter out of a large response. That was from a Buick dealer who liked seeing GM use its heritage for a change. (I wrote to him that I agreed, except they let the know-nothing ad boys misuse it.)

And I agree that Bill Mitchell would have been a better choice, anyway. Can you imagine what they will do with the Lutz character down the line? If they miscast as badly he might look like Shrek.

All the best, and thanks for your note.

I now need no Christmas presents. For about the next forty years.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Well, I thought I was through blogging for the week, but I just saw this: History prize rescinded for controversial book about guns in the United States
The Associated Press
12/13/02 4:49 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Severe doubts about a book on guns in the United States has led Columbia University to rescind the prestigious Bancroft Prize for history.

"Arming America," by Michael Bellesiles, had received the award in 2001.

In a statement released Friday, Columbia said that the school's trustees had concluded "his book had not and does not meet the standards ... established for the Bancroft Prize." Columbia has asked Bellesiles to return the prize money, $4,000.

It was the first time in the 54-year history of the Bancroft award that Columbia has taken such actions. Phone and e-mail messages left by The Associated Press with Bellesiles were not immediately returned.

Bellesiles resigned in October as a professor at Emory University, after an independent panel of scholars strongly criticized his research. In May, the National Endowment for the Humanities withdrew its name -- although not its funding -- from a fellowship given to Bellesiles. (pronounced Bell-EEL).

Bellesiles has acknowledged some errors, but defends his book as fundamentally sound. "I have never fabricated evidence of any kind nor knowingly evaded my responsibilities as a scholar," he said after announcing his resignation. [...]

"The Bancroft judges operate on a basis of trust," said Eric Foner, a past winner and a history professor at Columbia who has served as a prize judge, although not in 2001. "We assume a book published by a reputable press has gone through a process where people have checked the facts. Members of prize committees cannot be responsible for that."

Knopf said in a statement Friday it regretted "the circumstances that prompted Columbia University to rescind the Bancroft," but respected the committee's decision. [...]

But just think, if he had simply filmed a documentary instead of writing a book, it would have gotten an award from the International Documentary Association for being the bestest, most greatestest in the whole universe--obviously the standard of truth for documentaries is much, MUCH lower.

So where have I been today?

Working. I do occasionally have to do that. And then there was the sub rosa requisition of some new (well, new to me, at least) hardware and office furnishings.

Our deputy director got appointed to be the director of another department. He cleaned his office out (mostly) last week of all of his ephemera and files and junk, leaving some interesting bits of stuff for the rest of us to plunder through. Although it may shock some of you, this is the way things work on this floor. We're sort of the cast-off forgotten idiot relative kept locked in the attic, and always get the butt end of budget requests. There really is no such thing as any of us lower level sorts ever being able to get anything new requisitioned, so everything I have in my office is cast-offs from other folks who have left over the years. The day after someone's departure, the vultures swoop in to pick up not-completely-broken tape dispensers and staplers which are only five years old, as opposed to twenty. As I look around me, I see a bookcase, a drafting table, a drafting stool, two guest chairs, and a speed dial phone that all came from someone else's office.

The phone has an interesting history. I originally had a plain phone with twelve buttons and no way to put anyone on hold or transfer calls--this museum piece was quickly relocated to the conference room in exchange for one with all sorts of buttony glory and the wonder of speed dial. I made this switch only after putting in a requisition for a real phone with the Communications Department, expecting to swap out with them when they got to my request. A couple of years later, my newly requisitioned telephone crapped out, but by this time, the conference room had gotten another button phone after someone figured out they couldn't transfer calls or put anyone on hold with my old one. Since my plan worked well before, I took my old new old phone and swapped it for the one in the conference room AGAIN, and it has happily worked just fine ever since.

Of course, there was a big stink when someone tried to use the conference room phone and IT didn't work AGAIN, but they got it switched. Anyway, four years after I got here, and I was on my third phone, I got a call from a buddy in Communications, "Hey! We got you a phone!" Huh? "Yeah, your phone...you put in a requisition for one with speed dial." I hated to tell him that this problem had already been resolved to my satisfaction, but I did tell him, and noted to him that the request had been made four years ago, half expecting that he would be down in a minute to yank it out of the wall. "Well, would you look at that!" In the end, he was just glad to be able to file the requisition as "Done."

Everything is old stuff, except for the computer. That's relatively new. It even had a one of those highly advanced Microsoft scroll meeces when I first got it. The mouse eventually broke, and the MIS guys downstairs wouldn't even give me a used one! I had to go back to a regular mouse, which I hated. And the way we have things set up around here, even though the computer came preloaded with a Windows Media player and all sorts of other junk, this was disabled before they turned it over to me. It does have a CD drive with a separate headphone jack, but again, it is doubtful this actually works.

Luckily, with the departure of our demiboss, a wondrous world of crap lay just beyond my wall. Yesterday, I carefully (and very quietly) relocated a four drawer file cabinet (I have had a standing requisition for another file cabinet for seven years). We have a very nosy secretary, so this work had to be done in the utmost secrecy. Which is difficult, as any of you who have ever slid an empty file cabinet across carpet can attest. Not much else is left that I really need, except...today I liberated a nice set of harman/kardon speakers and a scroll mouse. The mouse works fine and it sure is nice to have the scroll feature back. The speakers will have to wait until I can get the MIS guy to loosen up the lock on the Media Player, but at least I HAVE them.

Possession is 9/10 of the law, you know.

Anyway, I have been busy, and the weekend looks to be similiarly arrayed with more selections from the Endless Buffet of Things To Fix and Do, Except for Sleep. I fully intend to fill you all in Monday morning, but for now, I must get back to pilfer...working.

See you Monday!

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