Hit Coffee is the story of Will Truman (trumwill),
transplant in the mountain west with an IT background who bides his time
substitute teaching while his wife brings home the bacon.
This site is a collection of reflections
on the goings-on in his life and in the world around him. You will probably
be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the
third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.
Greetings from Callie, Arapaho, a red town in a red state known for growing
red meat. And from Redstone, Arapaho(Aw-RAH-pah-hoe), a blue city with blue collar roots that's been feeling blue
for quite some time.
Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though
if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character
and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.
This website is maintained by Guy Webster (web),
who also contributes from time to time.
Web hails from the midwest and currently lives
in Truman's home city of Colosse, Delosa. He works as a utility IT person at
Southern Tech University, their alma mater.
Also contributing is Sheila Tone (stone) a West Coaster, breeder, and lawyer
who has probably hooked up with some loser just like you and sees through
your whole pathetic little act.
There are two particular areas that come to mind wherein we take our usual Constitutional safeguards and put them on the hold for the sake of judicial expediency: rape and drunk driving.
I’m going to sidestep the whole rape issue for the moment because it’s such a contentious debate that it will sidetrack the main topic for discussion here. I’ll just say that I don’t bring it up because I am outraged. It’s a sticky subject and I think I fall more on the expediency side of the debate than the other.
Drunk driving is a bit more topical as we approach the New Year, so I want to address that one.
Normally, the accused has the right to refuse to self-incriminate, but in some (many? most? all?) if you refuse to take a drug test, the cop can (on the spot) arrange the holy fires of hell to rain down upon you. In Delosa they can take your drivers license and impound your car for 30 days or until trial on the spot. Even if you are exonerated, you still have to pay the impound fees. In some jurisdictions from what I understand they can technically sell your car before you’re convicted or exonerated, though I’ve never heard of this actually happening (I have heard of it happening in drug cases, though). Also, the fact that you refused to submit to a breathalizer test can be used in court, when no other case of refusing to self-incriminate is that the case (that I’m aware of).
As with rape, this is a response to a very real problem and it would be much more difficult to prove drunk driving cases without it. Drunk driving kills countless people every year and we depend on the breathalizer test to sort it all out.
What’s interesting about this, though, is that in many jurisdictions, including Delosa, you can be convicted even if you pass a breathalizer test. They hammer this point home when you take defensive driving. Passing the breathalizer test is not a fireproof defense against drunk driving. The ostensible reason for this is that if someone takes medication that makes the effects of alcohol more potent, someone with a .04 Blood Alcohol Content (BCA) is more drunk than the average driver at .08. There is also the more inconvenient rationale that some people really are incapacitated at .06 and need to be taken off the road.
Why do I refer to that as “inconvenient”? Because if some people are more affected at .06 than others at .08, then we have to admit that other people are not as impaired at .11 as the average person is at .08. If we’re judging the drunkenness based on impairment, then some .11 should theoretically not be convicted. The ability to effectively drive drunk should be a defense. If we’re judging it based purely on BAC levels, then nobody at .06 should be. Maybe the latter should be convicted of driving recklessly or something like that, but not of the same crime that is usually based on the BAC number.
I have the same discomfort with this that I do with paternity tests… an affirmative result is enough to get you, but a negative result is not necessarily enough to set you free. Paternity tests only involve money, though. Drunk driving tests can involve a lot more.
For the most part, though, drunk driving convictions when someone passes the breathalizer are very difficult to get and are rarely pursued. Juries have the BAC threshold ingrained into them and they will trust a breathalizer over a cop’s word about what constitutes drunken behavior. Even so, the time and money that goes into defending oneself is problematic. And unlike with traffic tickets, you’re going to go through every effort you can to defend yourself because you can’t make it go away with a $100 fine.
Of course, you can’t make it go with a $100 because the stakes are not only higher for the accused, they’re higher for society as a whole. Drunk driving has killed thousands upon thousands and arguably the authorities need every tool they can get in order to fight it. Despite having these tools, any 2am drive on a public street near a bar will indicate that they are failing miserably. Despite all of the threats that they can levy, people do it anyway.
In Santomas, Estacado, where I currently live, the SPD is having every officer from the Cheif of Police on down manning a car on New Years Eve to track down drunk drivers. I’m sure they’ll catch many, but for every one that they catch, dozens will go uncatched. The Santomas Taxi Association will also be offering free rides home to those that can’t afford it, but for every one of them they get, dozens more will drive themselves so that they don’t have to leave their car in the parking lot or will believe themselves not to be incapacitated. Tow companies will offer free tows, but there aren’t enough tow trucks.
No matter how you look at it, there are going to be a lot of people that are going to need to get home somehow. Some won’t be able to afford going home in any way except their car (even a free taxi ride will require an unfree one back to the bar to pick the car up). Without a solid public transportation infrastructure, the most efficient way for them to do it is to play roulette with their lives and the lives of other drivers. Most are willing to gamble that they can get home safely and without incident. The overwhelming majority are right.
All of the tools in the world that we give police can’t refute that logic, so I guess all we can hope is to scare the bejeezus out of enough people that as many lifes as possible are saved.
SFG wrote this in the comment section at Half Sigma. I thought it hilarious and worthy of being shared:
Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be geeks or nerds,
Don’t let ‘em pick software and build their own OS
Make ‘em be jockies and preppies, oh yes…
Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be geeks or nerds,
They’ll never leave home and they’re always alone,
And never find someone to love…
A while back Veronica wrote about Santa Claus. She wasn’t raised on Santa Claus but her husband turned her around on the idea so she’s going pro-Santa with her little one. Half Sigma, unsurprisingly, thinks the idea of Santa is stupid and its advocates are illogical (the worst of all possible sins in Sigma-speak).
I was mildly raised on Santa Claus. No one authoritatively told me that there was no Santa when I figured it out. Instead, I put the pieces together and found it impossible. I vaguely remember being concerned that my parents still believed in it, though, and I wasn’t sure whether or not to break the news to them. I also remember being sort of angry about it. Not so much at my parents, but rather at Santa the Con Man. Here he was sitting on his fat butt doing nothing while parents all across the world were covering his slack. The logic of being upset at a man that I had just figured out didn’t exist eluded me at the time. I’ve gotten over my anger.
If and when we have children, Clancy doesn’t want to lie to our kids and tell them about a guy that doesn’t exist. I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other except for concern for the social ramifications. In HS’s comment section, Peter tells his story:
Spilling the beans about Santa’s non-existence got me in big trouble as a 7-year-old in second grade. I had found out, how I don’t quite remember, that Santa wasn’t real, and proceeded to tell many of my classmates. It’s somewhat surprising that most of them still believed in Santa at that age, but indeed they did - until I opened my mouth, that is. Some parents actually called the school to complain, and of course I got punished.
The kids that were going around telling everyone that there was no Santa Claus were universally reviled. Those that still believed thought that they were lying and those that had figured it out thought that they were being know-it-all meanie pantses.
Had I been told by an authoritative source early on that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, I am precisely the kind of know-it-all meanie pants that would have blabbed about it. Or I was at the time. Once upon a time I was one of the pushiest agnotheists you’d ever met, but I grew out of it. Elementary school was one of the really few times in my life where I can claim any level of popularity and the big fat myth could have ruined it for me.
My mom, in one of her rare cool mothering moments, told me that Santa Claus was a real guy who lived hundreds of years ago and was so nice that on Christmas people dress up and pretend to be him and parents give presents to their kids to honor his memory.
Which kind of lets you have the Santa-is-awesome deal as a little kid without getting the there-is-no-Santa letdown later in childhood.
That’s brilliant, in my mind, though I haven’t been able to get Clancy to go along with it. It also allows one to sidestep the whole telling-the-secret issue. If people like to pretend, I could explain to mini-me, it’s rude to intrude on their pretending and no one likes kids that calls other people’s pretendings to be stupid. Had my parents put it to me that way, I probably would have kept my mouth shut.
I could possibly take that route even if we came clean that Santa (as popular culture characterizes him) never existed and doesn’t currently exist, though it’s an easier sell if there is a mythology involved that once upon a time such a man existed. It also allows for a little more magic, which I like but which is the sticking point for the wife. I can also see how it would be problematic if part of the goal is telling people that other people believe a myth that isn’t true but then give them a separate myth, but it’s certainly a softer landing.
Of course, as commenters point out ad nauseum at Half Sigma (each seeming to believe that they are the first person ever to have thought of it), this is the preseason for the much trickier question about what we tell our kids about God, what we raise them to believe, and whether or not they are expected to go to church.
As mentioned in yesterdays’ post, my big gift to Clancy this Christmas was a CD/MP3 player for her car. She’s been using a cassette adapter for as long as I’ve known her, and the CD player is the perfect gift in that it’s something that will make her life more pleasant but also something that she woudln’t get for herself.
She was in Sierra last week. I made absolute sure that she didn’t take the car with her so I could sneak that sucker in there while she was gone. When I picked her up from the airport, I told her that I’d driven her car because it was making some sound that she needed to hear. Sounds of grinding transmissions or screechy breaks were dancing in her head made only worse by the fact that I wouldn’t elaborate as to what the sound was and would only say that it’s something that she needed to hear. I meant to add that it had made the sound before, but not quite in the same way, but I didn’t get that out.
When we got in the car, I pointed to the CD player and said that the weird sound it was making was playing CDs. She was excited by it, the only problem is that she won’t be driving the car for the next several months because she’s going to be in Sierra on the temp job. The whole “weird sound” scare and her mild irritation with my secrecy was actually reminiscent of how I proposed to her, so it had the added benefit of something extra to laugh about.
I drove Clancy’s car a couple days last week. The first day so that I could get the player installed, and then again so that I could test it out. It’s weird driving someone else’s car. My Escort, cramped though it is, fits almost like a glove. Driving Clancy’s more spacious Camry is in one sense more comfortable because I’m not accidentally changing the radio’s volume with my knee, but it’s so unfamiliar that it feels weird to drive it.
Clancy got antsy on the drive home from the drive home from the airport because I was driving too close to the lane stripes because I was judging it based primarily ont he width of my little car instead of her slightly bigger one. Oh well, I used to drive a 1978 Chevy Caprice, which I affectionately called The Land Barge because it was so wide. If I can get used to that, I can get used to anything.
This week I’ve been driving my folks’s spare car, which Dad is holding on to waiting for my Escort, dubbed Harvey, to die. Dad’s Escort, dubbed Crayola, is noticeably different in size to my own. It’s a two-door and is shorter up top. Given my height and long torso, this is not insignificant because my head rests on the top of the car. It also takes my legs a bit of time getting used to it because when I get out, my legs are retroactively registering their protest at being so cramped. When Harvey does die and I start driving Crayola on a regular basis, it’s going to take some serious getting used to.
My favorite car growing up was a Dodge Colt hatchback, which was even smaller, but I somehow got used to it. My least favorite car was the family van, which I have driven some this week. I had a bad experience where I almost rolled and ever since then I’ve never been comfortable driving it. Mom can’t drive at night, though, so I was the chauffer to and from church.
Mom stopped smoking in the car a long while back, but took up again on or by Christmas Eve. I’m not sure if it was because she was a bit tipsy, she had a chip on her shoulder regarding my sister-in-law, or she was nervous with me behind the wheel. I’m hoping that it’s one of those things and not that she’s taken to smoking in the car regularly again, but the last time they used my car it had a smokey enough smell that Clancy quizzed me on it, so I suspect that it has become regular again. At least she’s still not smoking in the house. I’m obviously not too averse to the smell of cigarette smoke, but I do have time-and-place preferences.
I hope y’all had the merriest of Christmases or the happiest of whatever holiday it is that you celebrate. I almost put “if any”, but if you don’t have a holiday to celebrate, you need to find one. Just do the Winter Solstace if you’re the unreligious sort.
My folks got back from a cruise the day that we arrived in Delosa, so it was a less festive Christmas than we usually celebrate: no tree, no stockings, no decorations of any sort. That’s in Colosse, anyway. Right now I’m in Bavariana, the eastern part of the state, with Clancy’s family. Clancy, unfortunately, leaves tomorrow for a job interview in Cascadia. Unfortunate that she has an interview now, of course, as we’re happy she has the interview.
My big gift to Clancy this Christmas was a CD/MP3 player for her car. More on that tomorrow. The additional gifts were mostly books. I impressed everyone when it came out that I’d gotten the books several months ago. The fools think that I planned ahead, but in fact I’d bought them to justify free shipping on Amazon.com. That secret will last only until Clancy reads this.
I also got her a booklight. She’s been using a headband flashlight in bed, which is good for both reading and exploring caves, but is a little too light. It wasn’t quite as selfish as a Homer Bowling Ball, but is close enough. Unfortunately, my folks also got her a booklight. Oops.
Where I really went bust with my gift-giving was with Dad. I got him a book compilation of his favorite comic strip, but it was Publish-On-Demand, so it won’t arrive until sometime next week. A before-Christmas rush would have cost an extra $100 on a $10 gift, which we all agreed was a no-go. I also got him a Southern Tech Wolf Pack Riddell mini football helmet to match the University of Delosa one he got a couple years back, but that also didn’t arrive on time. Dad being Dad, he didn’t seem to mind a great deal.
The best gift that we got was the transfer of a bunch of old 8mm folks of me as a baby and a tot to DVD. Clancy adores childhood pictures of me. Aa couple years back she got a photobook, which was a home run. This was closer to a grand slam. Dad’s gotten really good at the gifts since he retired.
No drunkards at the Christmas Eve service this year and again the pews were half-full. After over two decades of church attendance, I discovered that the service goes by a lot faster if you sing the hymnals, read along with the readings, and participate in the prayers. It feels sort of like it did when I discovered in my last year as an altar boy that being an altar boy is actually kind of cool because it makes the service go by quicker.
Christmas lunch and dinner has given me acid reflux like you wouldn’t believe. I know I’m still young in the greater scheme of things, but I miss my young digestive system. Christmas Eve chili was as good as it ever was. We actually discussed the Christmas Turkey vs. Christmas Ham battle and wondered why we’ve never eaten goose before. After Christmas lunch at my folks place we darted across the state to have Christmas dinner at the Himmelreich house with Clancy’s family.. a move that my stomach still regrets because of (rather than despite of) the good food.
Perhaps the greatest Christmas gift I personally got this year was one that I gave myself: Last week I finished my 2006 NaNoWriMo project. By “finished” I don’t mean that no work is left to be done on it, which is what the word actually means, but that it’s at least presentable so I can show it to people. Clancy will actually get to see what I’ve been working on and I won’t have this big cloud hanging over my head, allowing me to enjoy my free time without knowing that there is something else that I ought to be doing.
1. Wrapping or gift bags?
Wrapping. Half the fun of a present is tearing it open.
2. Real or artificial tree?
None yet. I was raised with an artificial tree and Clancy was raised with a real one and we’re both proponents of what we were raised with. This is one of those cases where Clancy is going to get what she wants, but…
3. When do you put up the tree?
We haven’t actually done that yet. Having been raised on artificial the concept of going out and finding a tree is pretty alien to me and she’s never really had the time to do it. So we don’t have a tree. Maybe next year.
4. When do you take the tree down?
5. Do you like egg nog?
I can’t remember the last time I tried it, to be honest.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
My parents held out getting me a gaming system for the longest time, so when I finally got one it meant a lot to me. Not exactly existential heartwarming stuff, was it? Seriously, in a way it was, though. They’d refused to get me a Nintendo because they rightfully thought that it would kill my grades. In addition to being able to play Super Mario Bros, it was a sign that they really trusted me. 7. Do you have a nativity scene?
I might want to get one at some point, but that’s a whole other discussion with Clancy.
8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
String and tape. Worse than the fact that it was string and take, it was duct tape that I couldn’t use on the walls, so it wasn’t even good for the one thing that I had really wanted. What the heck is an 10 year old going to do with duct tape? Mom had intended to get me real tape, I think, but ended up using it to wrap gifts. She did get me some real tape later on, though.
9. Mail or email Christmas cards?
We’re so hopeless that we don’t have that sorted out yet. Considering that I have an “in” to get free Christmas cards, I really have no excuse for it.
10. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Christmas Vacation… sorry, Barry. Actually, it’s a close call between that one and Scrooged. I’m not generally a fan of Christmas movies, so I haven’t seen all that many (I’ve never seen A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street all the way through). I had those two movies on tape, though, and watched them regularly.
11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Let’s just say that I was really, really stressed out last week.
12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
We ate Mom’s homecooked chili every Christmas Eve growing up. Yum.
13. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
14. Favorite Christmas song(s)?
I hate, hate, hate Christmas music. Bah, humbug.
15. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Travel. Not sure how it’s all going to shake out. I’m going to be in Colosse on Christmas and I think Clancy will be there on Christmas morning, then I think that evening she’s going to head to see her family in Beyreuth across the state and I’m going back to Estacado to work Wednesday and Thursday, then I am going back to Colosse for a couple days, and then Clancy and will be either in Estacado or Delosa, but we’re not positive which.
16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
No, but when I was a kid I thought that there was a Donner that threw a famous party once. That was at some point before I believed that the Donner Party was a political party.
17. Angel on the tree top or a star?
18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
Christmas Morning has always been my family tradition…
19. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
The music. (though I very much agree with Barry’s complaints about complaints about the War on Christmas)
20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color?
21. What do you leave for Santa?
We never left anything for Santa, I don’t think. Or if we did we stopped real young.
22. Least favorite holiday song?
“Winter Wonderland” is about to displace “Jingle Bell Rock” if I hear it one more time at that coffee shop.
23. Favorite ornament?
Back in Colosse my brothers and I have little dolls of ourselves that were sewn together by my grandmother.
24. Family tradition?
Clancy’s family has a tradition of “Birthday week” and “Birthday month” so that those that don’t quite have their act together on X-mas day get a chance to compensate. By default, it looks like Clancy and I are going to continue that tradition.
25. Ever been to Midnight Mass or late-night Christmas Even services?
I try to go to Midnight Mass whenever I am in Colosse, but don’t make as much an effort if I’m not.
When I was a kid, for three consecutive Christmases, all I wanted was a Nintendo. All of my friends had one, but my parents would get us one because they were rightfully worried that it would interfere with my already suffering grades.
One year I came up with the perfect scheme with which to trap my parents into giving me a Nintento. I figured that if I asked for nothing for Christmas except the Nintendo, they’d have the option of giving me what I wanted (and be the bestest parents ever on the face of the universe) or give me absolutely nothing (and be legendarily bad parents). It was unprecedented that we didn’t get anything.
So Christmas day rolled around, and I got two gifts from them. Neither were the correct size for a gaming system. Turned out that one box had some tape and the other had string.
I had inadvertently foiled my own plan. I was making a theme park with legos in my room about a week or so before Christmas, but I ran out of the string and tape that I needed. So I asked Mom if she had any around, but she was out. She said not to worry because it would get taken care of if I was just patient.
So all I had asked for for Christmas was a game system they wouldn’t get me, and household supplies they would have gotten me anyway. My parents had somehow managed to outsmart me again. I couldn’t understand why that kept happening.
One of the unofficial rules of football (and maybe other sports as well) is that it is classless to run up the score. Once you’re winning to the point that it’s all but impossible to lose, you are supposed to take a step back and start running out the clock. You keep the ball on the ground (which makes the clock run faster because it’s not stopping as frequently), start substituting players (to keep them healthy), and if all else fails start kneeling down.
My alma mater’s football team, the Southern Tech Wolf Pack, has a reputation of “classlessness” because of our historic tendency not to stay aggressive right down to the wire. Back in the team’s heyday, they would rack up upwards of 80+ points a game sometimes. Some members of the conference still have a chip on their shoulder about that and when the team starts falling behind these days, not a single one of them calls off the dogs under any circumstances.
I can’t say that I blame them.
To be honest, though, I don’t think that running up the score should have the stigma that it does. There are some aspects of it that make sense from a tactical standpoint. You keep the ball on the ground to run out the clock faster. The put in your reserves to keep your starters healthy and give the future starters (at the college level) some playing time. When it gets to the point that you’re taking a knee or intentionally running out of bounds at the one yard-line, that’s actually more disrespectful than continuing to score.
I get annoyed when the teams go to their backup quarterback and then use him only to kneel the ball or keep running up the center just to punt. These are guys that don’t often get to play and it bugs me that the one chance they get out on the field, they aren’t given the opportunity to actually do anything.
I think that the best way to handle a blow-out is to take out your starters to give the other kids a chance to play, but then play as aggressively as you always do. There’s really nothing more boring than a game where only one team is playing, regardless of the score.
With Clancy out of town, I’ve taken the opportunity to listen to songs repeatedly. Some of them are songs I know she doesn’t like, but even for those that she does like, almost no one likes hearing the same song over and over again at someone else’s whim.
“Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia - A 90’s pop song that Clancy hates with a passion, but one that fits with the writing work I’m doing at the moment and is a good blast from the past for me. I bought the CD that this was on. It was the only song on the CD that she didn’t write herself. She is an awful songwriter.
“Fourth of July” by Aimee Mann - I love a good, soppy sad song. Too much to say about this song in a couple of lines.
“Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn - I’ve had this song stuck in my head for several days so I broke down and added it to my list. Cohn really, really like a black guy singing to me. Despite the last name, I was quite surprised to discover that he was white.
“Rock Me Gently” by Andy Kim - Yeah, the one that the squirrels, bird, and wolf sing in that car commercial. I really did this song and it’s fun to sing along to, even if you’re not wildlife.
“Same Auld Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg. RIP.
“Hazard” by Richard Marx - Not sure how this one ended up on the list, though I do like it.
“Daisy Jane” by America - A good compliment to Walking in Memphis in that they’re both about the same city, but I don’t like this song nearly as much.
“Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Chantal Kreviazuk - I don’t have a copy of the classic version, so this one will have to do.
“Aluminum” by Barenaked Ladies - Added because of my post, but an enjoyable listen that has stuck around on the playlist.
“Fourteenth Street” by Laura Cantrell - Another song that Clancy really doesn’t like but I do. It’s too peppy and sappy for her, but it’s really catchy in a good way. You can download it on Cantrell’s website if you’re interested in a saccharine poppy song by a folky singer. Clancy dislikes this song, but she likes Cantrell.
My boss has what I’d call a textbook understanding of English. He knows most of the words and strings them together the way that English-speakers usually do. However, it is obvious at times that his understanding of English comes primarily from a textbook rather than exposure to the language. Considering that he was raised and educated in Japan, this is not a surprise. As one who speaks no language except English, it’s certainly not a criticism.
It does cause problems sometimes. I’ve mentioned the problems with annunciation previously. It often makes communication a lot easier by email than talking to one another. It gives him time to look up words that he doesn’t understand and it takes out issues with annunciation.
The problems aren’t limited to speech, though. Even in emails it can cause problems. My boss quite frequently mangles his grammar and uses words where they don’t belong. One example is that he’ll send an email that will be talking about how “labor hours” are from 8-5. It’s not hard to figure out what he means, but we use the terms “business hours” or “working hours”. Sometimes the usage is harder to understand than that.
I’m the kind of guy that reads a lot into every word someone writes or says. I get hung up it, sometimes, as anyone that’s gotten into a semantic argument with me will attest. It’s difficult for me to say to myself “My boss isn’t choosing words carefuly, he’s relying on the words that he knows.”
I came up with a solution to the problem, though it’s not one that I am particularly proud of. I discovered that part of the problem is that I read the emails in my own, anglo voice. By doing so, I assume American intent rather than textbook or muffled definitions. So I’ll read over a passage several times trying to figure out what he “really means”. I’ve found that the best way to sidestep this issue is to read it with a fake, bad, Asian accent. It’s tradition in popular entertainment to have Asian foreigners mangle their sentences and I’ve never had difficulty understanding them (never as much as in real life, actually). So I use those accents. By doing so, it reminds me of his level of understanding of English and short-circuits any attempts on my part to read any more into his words than what they actually are. “Labor hours” is instantly understandable even without the (obvious) context clues I would have to use to figure it out otherwise.
This practice isn’t limited to understanding Asians. As I put more thought into it, I do it when reading all the time. If I’m reading something written by a southerner and he uses peculiar grammar, it works out much better if I read it with a southern accent. When written words are altered to imply an accent, it’s actually difficult to read any other way. “I’m goin’ to tha store to settle the hankerin’ in my stomach”. Try reading that without an accent or inflection and it’s a chore.
I’ve come with a solution to that, though it might be a little bit racist.
Huckabee is running an add wherein some people say that there is a floating cross behind him.
Even before I heard Huckabee’s official explanation, it looked pretty plainly like a shelf of some sort to me. I will say this about Huckabee: it the bookshelf were intentionally placed behind him and lit to subliminally reinforce his religiosity, he is a much more shrewd and creative man than I’d given him credit for being*. Given that when it comes to the role his religious convictions play in his politics he is about as subtle as a sledgehammer**, I find that very unlikely.
It reminds me a little bit of a movie that Clancy and I saw in Deseret called Latter Days, wherein a closeted Mormon missionary falls in love with a West Hollywood gay highlifer. Mormons don’t do crosses, so I was surprised to see subtle, Huckabee-bookshelf-like crosses sprinkled throughout the film. I thought to myself that the movie must have been placed in the hands of someone that was fairly ignorant of Mormon ways. In the commentary I find out that no, the writer/director, Jay Cox, was in fact raised Mormon. He actually comments on the Huckabee crosses as completely unintended. He’d in fact gone to the trouble of having actual crosses removed from the church scenes that the set manager had mistakenly put there.
The cross is such a basic design, I guess, that it’s hard to entirely remove. Nonetheless, Cox said he’d gotten many compliments by non-Mormons on the subtle inclusion of crosses throughout the film as a testament to his directing skill.
* - I suppose it could have been done by one of his handlers, but as near as I can tell up until the last few days it’s been a more self-directed campaign.
** - Not to knock on the guy too hard. I don’t have any particular disdain for the man. He’s a mix of good and bad, just like the rest of’em.
Clancy got on a plane Sunday and is in the western state of Sierra for a week. She still hasn’t gotten licensure from Estacado (months later, we’re nowhere close, actually), so she’s had to take temp jobs out of state. She has licensure in the state of Shoshona, so she can work either in that state or for the federal government anywhere. Her two options were Sierra and Dakota.
One of the more frustrating aspects of our marriage is the sense that the further we get, the further we are from where we want to go. I knew that there would be a tough road during residency, but I thought that was going to be only three years. Then we decided that she was going to pursue a fellowship, which was okay because it was only a year and it wasn’t going to be as bad as residency. Then it turned out that the fellowship was worse than residency. Further, since she wasn’t giving her some of the training outside of Obstetrics that she needed, that meant another fellowship. On top of that, because she got a late start on this fellowship, we would have to wait a year before she got an opportunity for another one.
The consolation there was that she would get some good R&R time in between the fellowships, which she definitely needed. She did get some, which was a good and joyful thing, but before we knew it she had to start going around the country getting re-certified in all the things she didn’t do during this past fellowship and had to start work on getting licensure for Estacado and possibly other states. Then, as part of the effort of getting licensure in Estacado, she had to take a jurisprudence exam to learn about state and federal medical law. Having just taken the test (she got 92%!), she needs to cut her teeth doing some more work so that she won’t be a year out-of-practice when she starts… wherever it is she might start.
I knew that she was going to be doing some temp work, but I had envisioned a couple weeks here and then a couple weeks there. It turns out that the best thing for her career is to do a sustained trip to a single place. We negotiated and came up with a 3-week-on-1-week-off arrangement in Sierra. So basically, after only getting limited time with her due to residency and fellowship, and then limited time because she’s studying for this and that, instead of getting better it’s going to be a long distance relationship for six months or so until we pick up our stakes and move somewhere else for a year, wherein she will be in fellowship again (under less arduous circumstances, we hope and expect) in some other state (either a large city in the Pacific Northwest near Becky, or a rural area in the east near Barry) and then… and then… we’re probably going to have to start talking family (if we decide to go that route).
So this is sort of a big “why me!” whine. But if I can’t whine on a blog, where can I?
At least while she’s doing the temp work she’s going to actually be pulling in something resembling a doctor’s wage.
Between Megan, Bob, Spungen, and myself, I’m the only one that really appreciates this little Craigslist write-up. Peter seems to like it as well. I find it to be friggin’ hilarious.
Whether or not the author is being self-depricating I do not know. If he honestly doesn’t recognize the pattern, that actually makes it funnier to me because there are two objects of humor. First there is the girl for being what she is (more on that in a bit) and then there’s the slapstick humor of a guy that keeps getting smacked by the handle-pole stepping on the same rake.
Megan has two complaints:
This does not describe every girl. It describes an archetype. The dude is dating the wrong chicks.
The dude is smug about his apparently (undescribed) superiority over her.
Both of these criticisms are quite valid. I’m a bit thin-skinned about jokes about “every guy” (or even “every guy” of a particular subtype such as nerds) and I can understand her consternation. He should have said “every girl you’ve ever dated”. That might detract of the humor if there is supposed to be a self-depricating aspect of it, but it would probably compensate that by increasing the audience. It needlessly puts women on the defensive because they’re not sure whether that’s part of the joke or not. I’m not sure either, as mentioned, but it’s easier to be thick-skinned when you’re not getting cut.
Spungen joins Megan in asking what basis the guy feels superior. That’s a fair question. Maybe the guy isn’t superior at all. He may well be part of a loathesome or irritating archetype himself. The thing about archetypes, though, is that all of them believe that their type is superior. It’s like religion, if you don’t believe yours is best, why follow it at all?
So why do I think it’s so funny? In part because it’s a variation on something very familiar to me. I’ve never dated or been in the apartment of a girl that the author seems to be inundated with. That type really has no use for a guy like me and that’s pretty reciprocal (depending on what she looks like and how long I’ve been single). He’s talking about the archetypal Post-Sorority Quirk Chick (PSQC). These girls may or may not have been a part of a formal sorority, but they’ve at least bought into aspects of the lifestyle and, in the absense of having any notably attractive features, have attempted to sprinkle in some quirky aspects. If you can’t be better, be different.
But while I’m not familiar with that particular archetype, what I am familiar with and have commented on repeatedly is a different archetype with the same motivations: the Goth-Bisexual-Pagan Threefer. The bane of my dating existence were those tried to be “different” by being alternative in what became to me an utterly predictable way.
What these two types have in common is a cookie-cutter approach to identity. The inane trying to be interesting. I think that’s where the superiority comes from. It’s not so much the lack of a dungeon motif as the lack of anything original or unique around her. It’s indicative of her cookie-cutter life. On the surface there is nothing original or special about her, but she is fascinated with herself because she has followed the blueprint for how to be unique and special.
The candles, the quirkily-named cat, the decorative birdcage, and the furniture with no discernable purpose. These are all desperate attempts of the PSQC to be novel and interesting… but she got it all at that ground zero of mass-produced, yuppie stuff, Ikea.
As a brief aside, the funniest thing at Walmart is the “alternative” clothing they have their. I once saw a hoodie with little plastic studs, a chevron on the shoulder, and an imprint on front of a screaming guy with a mohawk. There are also t-shirts of worn-looking old-style logos of Pepsi, Sunkist, and the type of of authentic thing that you might have gotten at a vintage shop… except of course that it’s brand new. Nothing “alternative” can really ever be bought at Walmart. It’s self-contradicting. It’s impossible. But people keep buying it apparently cause Walmart keeps stocking it. What an exasperating culture we’re a part of.
Back to PSQC. Her drive to be special and unique and interesting is further indicated by her rambling on despite his apparent lack of interest. It’s so interesting that she can’t seem to fathom that he’s not interesting. She’s like the girl that keeps telling you about some inane and non-sensical dream asking every couple minutes “Isn’t that totally weird?!” Anyone with any social sense at all knows that there is nothing, nothing, nothing interesting about non-sensical dreams.
Now let’s move on to my arch-enemy, the Goth-Bisexual-Pagan Threefer (GBPT). She likely either didn’t have enough friends or have the demeanor to be a PSQC, so she chose a different blueprint. Goth’s are totally deep. Bisexuals are sexxy. Pagans are totally on a higher spiritual plane than those know-nothings that tormented her in junior high or whenever. They all have in common that they are persecuted and misunderstood. Don’t you understand how persecuted and misunderstood she is?! SHE HAS SUFFERED FOR HER PAIN!!!! And she’s stronger for it. And more interesting.
There is an outstanding song by Bare Naked Ladies called “Aluminum” that absolutely nails this sort of person. It’s more geared towards the GBPT than the PSQC, but there is an element of truth to underlying problem with them both. If I could introduce you all to the song I would, but I’ll part with the closing lyrics thereof:
You’re so lightweight, how can you survive?
Recycling moments from others’ lives
You’re not as precious as you contrive
Aluminum to me
Aluminium to some
You can shine like silver all you want
But you’re just Aluminum
My Webmaster and I were discussing some of the differences between working in the private sector and the public sector. He works for Southern Tech University while I’ve worked mostly in the private sector. My father, on the other hand, worked in accounting for the Department of Defense, so I’m well aware of the differences in incentives between working for the government and working for a profit-making entity. He’s written a post on his experiences and I’m going to write a post on mine.
Before starting my current job at Soyokaze America, I did work with a temp agency whose only client was the State of Estacado. I only took one job there that lasted a couple of weeks, but in that time I happened to be privy to a whole lot of government waste.
The job involved moving the Child Protective Services (CPS) from one building to another building. The entire move was actually an example of said waste. According to Estacado State Law, the government cannot lease a building for more than two years uninterrupted. While they could invest in buying some property, instead what they do for a number of agencies is have them relocate every two years. This is a very expensive and time-consuming process that really doesn’t serve anyone.
I’m not sure there is enough money in the world that could adequately pay those that are taking the calls for the CPS. They listen to one horror story after another. Unlike social workers, they don’t even get the satisfaction of building a relationship with those calling for help. Instead they file a report and pass it on and likely never hear from them again. As it stands, these folks start at about $25k/yr. It’s good pay for a phone job, but it’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
So our job was to move the phone bank as well as the rest of the agency over to a similarly sized building a few blocks away. This involved moving a whole lot of computer equipment, which is where I came in. My job was to take the computers down, box them up, and then set them up at the new place. Easy enough. It was also to box up the stuff from the warehouse, which is where I really got the education experience.
They had hundreds and hundreds of copies of Microsoft Streets & Maps 2006, all unopened. Sometimes in the private as well as the public sector this sort of thing happens and I would have been understanding of, except that they also had hundreds and hundreds of copies of Microsoft Streets & Maps 2005, all unopened. They had half that many from 2004. Why would they keep buying software that they’re obviously not using? The answer, of course, was that it was in the budget and if they said they didn’t need it, they wouldn’t get it. It seemed to me that if they were worried about expending their budget that money would be better spent on the call-takers, but that fell into a different category and besides the money was clearly marked for that specific software package.
The other oddity involved inventory. I would be hard to fault the state for having so many extra sets of speakers. They come with the computers but rules and regulations prevent the employees from having them on their computers. Fair enough. The only problem with this is that if they get rid of the speakers within two years, the retail cost of the speakers is deducted from their budget even though they really couldn’t buy the computers without them. The idea behind this was to “cut down on waste”, which is a laudible goal but one they are only sporadically concerned with and only, it seems, in the least applicable circumstances.
They they waste warehouse space maintaining speaker inventory that they don’t need. Each box had a date on it. Anything before that date was to be disposed of and anything after that date had to be shipped to the new location, where it would wait for a while and then be disposed of.
You might ask yourself (I know I would be), “What does he mean by ‘disposed of’?”
There is a Goodwill not six blocks from the complex that they were moving out of that they could give it to. They could sell the stuff on eBay. They could raffle them to their employees for a job well done and put the money raised towards an office party or something. Actually, no, they can’t do any of that. Instead they post excess inventory for 90 days and then give it away to anyone that calls dibs. Most of the speakers ended up going to a company that turned around and made a profit selling them boxed and in mint condition. State money was spent helping them load up.
A lot of the other (non-boxed, non-mint) stuff was thrown out. There were monitors galore that were literally left at the curbside. They actually put a sign on it that said “Do not take” so that someone would assume that they were good and would steal them. I myself got away with five sets of 3-part speakers and three laptop satchels.
Good for me, not so good for the State of Estacado and its taxpayers.
When I was a kid, I had somewhat questionable taste in music. I listen back and a lot of what I used to like is virtually unlistenable to me now. Some of it I can listen to, but only because there are certain memories attached. Most of it I wouldn’t care for if I heard it for the first time today.
At some point I derived a list of my then-eight favorite songs. When I created the list, I did not know who sang all of them. I knew one was by Paul Simon and another by Bonnie Raitt. I eventually found out all of them except two, arguably two of my three favorites. Interestingly enough, I did not know that they were sung by the same man: Dan Fogelberg.
Most of you are probably aware that Fogelberg died today of prostate cancer.
The two songs were two of his three best known works: Leader of the Band and Same Auld Lang Syne. Leader of the Band is a tribute to his father’s life on the road and the difficulty of coming to grips with aging and retirement. Same Auld Lang Syne is the ultimate bittersweet regret song. I don’t know that a better one has been made.
One of the first two CDs I’ve ever owned was Dan Fogelberg’s Greatest Hits. Not having anything else to listen to, I listened to it over and over again. My best friend Clint and I even came up with dances/routines (it was the sort of thing we did and indicative of why popularity at school was never ours).
One of the big differences between working in a government job, and working in a corporate environment, is the approach each takes to saving money.
In a corporate environment, saving money is a good thing. Customers are insulted with all sorts of annoyances(”voice activated” phone menus, tech support in India that barely speak your language and are no good even when on-script, “please visit our website where you can look your problem up yourself” every 30 seconds while on hold) in the name of “saving money.” IT legends abound of people who got a sizable bonus check for suggesting a change to basic setups or procedures that was calculated to save thousands if not millions of dollars for major corporations. Managers and departments who manage to complete a task under-budget are often rewarded, and companies profit directly in relation to how far under-budget they can get their tasks done.
In the government environment, budgets are set on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. At the end of the fiscal year, whatever portion of the budget is unspent is taken away from your department and wanders off somewhere else (we’re never sure where it actually goes). In addition, if you have an operating budget of (for example) $150,000 and you come in at the end of the year at only $140,000 spent, you can expect that your next year’s budget will be “adjusted” to hand your “extra” $10,000 to some other department that wasn’t so frugal.
In other words, if you manage to save money, you are punished by having your available resources reduced for the next operating year.
It’s a little disconcerting working this way, because I’m a relatively frugal person. I’m just as likely to pick something up used, and do whatever repairs are necessary on it, to make it work. In the workplace, I’ve masterminded a number of cost-saving measures, including the near-extinction of inkjet printers (taking a department that was spending at least $10,000 on ink per year down to perhaps $2000 on toner instead).
The really irritating thing about it is the excesses that come around every August, when the fiscal year is up. Each department starts making a mad dash to spend out their budgets, to avoid having it cut for the next year. Some of the purchases are silly, some get shoved into a closet and forgotten about, and in more than one case, things have been purchased that expired before anyone remembered their presence.
I’m of the opinion that if government were given the same incentives corporations were to cut their costs even a bit - a bonus here, an incentive to come in under budget, the ability to retain unspent money - we might not see nearly as much government waste. Till then, I’m going to probably have to put up with a whole lot of “Christmas in August” behavior; after all, I’m usually the one they come to for tech-toy recommendations what they’ll stuff into their closets and forget about come September.
Billy Brand was one home run away from beating the record, though he’d come into a bit of a slump. It was not expected that he would break the record in Colosse facing off against our hometown Colosse Hurricanes, though it was of course always possible. I didn’t go to the game for the possibility.
My friend and former roommate Hubert had Canes season tickets, but he had a prior engagement that he couldn’t get out of that night. He’d asked several of his baseball friends if they wanted to go, but none of them were free, either. He was dumbfounded that he wasn’t able to find anyone to go to what could be a historic event, but it was looking that way. Then he found out that local musician Rick Gardland was going to be doing a set after the show. When we lived together, I’d played quite a bit of Garland’s music (to his dismay) and he gave me a call.
Evangeline and I had just broken up. Again. The truth is that I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. That, of course, made it all the more important that I did go out. The less I socialized in situations like that, the worse the situations tended to get. I invited Dad and we headed on out to Mello Yello Field that night. I figured, if nothing else, seeing history-in-action would give Eva and I something to talk wherein I could indicate that I was getting on with my life.
I wasn’t a very good companion for Dad. I was obviously distracted and I took regular cigarette breaks. Since he rigorously disapproved of my smoking, that only made things a bit more awkward whenever I’d make an excuse to get out. Unfortunately, the nearest smoking area was on a separate floor and it was a bit walk back and forth, so we both knew I wasn’t taking a trip to the nearest restroom. I timed by breaks in between innings and around Billy Brand’s trips to the plate. By the sixth inning, I’d only been working my way around Brand striking out and hitting two infield outs. Brand’s last out was in the sixth inning, so I decided that during the 7th Inning Stretch I’d make my way to the smoker’s circle.
Unfortunately, at some point before I got out there the cigarette lighter had fallen out of my pocket, so when I got out there I didn’t have a lighter. I asked around to see if I could borrow a light, but the weirdest thing happened: no one would bum a light. Smokers are generally generous with bumming cigarettes and failure to bump a light was a breach of the Smoker’s Code. After the first five rejections I was considering just heading back in, but I gave it one more shot. She lit me up and I smoked and pondered my ongoing problems with Eva.
Meanwhile, on the field, Brand’s team started batting again and they were on a roll. Double, single, single, single, first pitch hits all. The next thing I knew the crowd was erupting in applause. Billy Brand had just broken the home run record with a whopping three-run shot. Despite all of my attempts to time my trip, in a freak inning they’d made their way through the entire line-up in just a few minutes. I’d never seen anything like it (and since I didn’t see it, I still haven’t). History was in the making while I was standing there thinking about Evangeline.
When I got back to my seat, Dad asked if I’d seen it. I lied and told him that I had and that was why it took so long. He held up the lighter I’d dropped and said he’d figured it was because I’d had trouble lighting my cigarette banging together a couple of rocks.
The Garland show was a bust. After a couple of songs the PA system gave out. We waited for about twenty minutes while they tried to fix it, but we gave up and a while later they did, too.
When talking to sports fans, I mention that I was at the game where Brand broke the record. I tend to leave out the part where I missed it because I was out on the smoker’s ledge, feeling sorry for myself.
trumwill says: Are you sure that’s a good idea? trumwill means: Are you crazy?
trumwill says: I’m concerned about the mental stability of Dr. Yamagura trumwill means: Yamagura is nuts.
trumwill says: You’re pretty stable at your current job. trumwill means: Do you want your career to be at the mercy of a nutbar?
trumwill says: Well, if that’s what you want to do, I really hope it works out. trumwill means: I’ll try really hard to refrain from saying “I told you so”, but no guarantees.
trumwill says: I’m sorry to hear that. trumwill means: ITOLDYOUSOITOLDYOUSOITOLDYOUSO!!!!!!!!!
My friend Tony worked for the same law firm as their solo IT person for years. Because he lacked a college degree, he was always extremely underpaid. He manned 225 computers, wrote applications, mastered the HVAC, and handled all sorts of things for the lawsuit for barely half of market value. I wasn’t surprised that he wanted to leave, but when he finally got a significant raise I thought he’d stick around.
After he’d inadvertently gotten Julie fired from D-ko, there was a job opening. Julie’s got her former assistants a job at her new place of employment and when Dr. Yamagura hired another tech, she tracked him down and got him a job, too. Then Julie got a call from someone that she didn’t know. Apparently Yamagura mentioned during the job interview that he kept losing people to this other company because of the former employee and so the guy tracked her down and got a job with her. Eventually Yamagura turned to Tony and offered him a job.
I did what I could to talk Tony out of leaving while being supportive, but I was unsuccessful. He felt that he could do a better job than Julie did, with which I agreed, and that would prevent him from getting fired, with which I disagreed. There was also the matter of paychecks. Julie had six paychecks that bounced and almost lost her house. When she brought this up with him, he was angry at her for buying a house because that was going to detract from her work with D-ko. I tried as offhandedly as I could to bring these stories up, but he left anyway.
He managed to refill the staff with some friends, all of whom left good jobs, and when a fire broke out and took down the network, he and his entire staff were fired because he had not yet gotten a duplicate network set up off-site.
Interestingly enough, he doesn’t at all regret having left the job at the law firm and never inquired about getting his old job back. His former employer decided not to replace him, instead hiring an agency to take care of their needs as they arose. It was difficult to imagine a scenario in which a 225 computer network did not need a full-time IT person. I’d love to know how they manage that.I often joke that most of my employers are insane… but I think he’s the one person that has a leg up on me in that regard. I suspect that the law firm has since learned the error of their ways, but there’s no telling.
As for D-ko, it’s no longer in business at all. Maybe there’s something about doctors that go into business. I suppose it’s that a lot of them think they’re a lot smarter than they are and feel that since they mastered vet/dental/med school, they can just up and start a business and everything will work out. They also never like to have their decisions questioned even outside their area of expertise, which only increases the odds of failure. A former comic shop that I went to in Phillippi was owned by a dentist and had almost the exact same set of problems.
I exclude my wife from the arrogance tar, of course. I don’t suspect that she will ever have designs on starting a business other than her medical practice, but if she does she will have someone more business-oriented helping her. That much I’ll make sure of.
One of the computers in the lab needs a mousepad, so I stopped by IT and asked if they had any spares. Worst case I figured they would simply have to order some. The director of HR happened to be there when I asked IT about the mousepad and she told me that:
I would need to formally request a requisition form. In other words, she needed it in writing that I needed a requisition form. A simple email would do.
I would need to fill out said requisition form and get the signature of my supervisor.
My department would be billed for the mousepad and a possibly requisition or handling fee.
For a mousepad? A $2 mousepad?
I thought she was joking or maybe she didn’t understand what I meant by “mousepad”. I turned to the IT guy and said, “You don’t have any lying around?”
“No, we don’t keep extra mousepads. We don’t have the storage room.”
A mousepad? A flat, stackable, rectangular object?
Whatever. I ended up:
Sending an email requesting a requisition form.
Printed out said requisition form.
Said “screw it”
Taped the requisition form face-down on the lab computer
It took Julie a long time to get over Tony when he left her. I was fortunate in that when I left her, she and Tony were together within a month. There was no such person waiting in the wings when he departed. She stopped calling me three times a day for consoling, but every time she was making headway there would be something that would come up and set her back. She found out that he had moved in with his ex-wife, he needed to come over and pick up his things, and stuff like that.
What finally got her over him was when he got her fired from her job.
While they were together, Julie had gotten a job as a vet tech. When the vet decided to start D-ko, a software company designing software for vet offices, Julie got a promotion. Julie knew a lot more about computers than most people simply by dating me for almost five years and then dating Tony an additional two (before she got that job, they were together about five years in all). Nonetheless she was in way over her head and Tony spent a lot of time bailing her out.
When they broke up, I wondered what was going to happen with her and her work. She’d hopefully learned enough to carry on without him, but it was far from certain. To make matters more complicated, she’d gotten various promotions and in addition to being in charge of the IT department she was in charge of software development, despite having absolutely no experience in programming.
Tony was meanwhile still plugging away at his Network Admin job at the law firm where he was working. When he ran into network and email problems, part of his procedure for testing the extent of the problem was to ping the D-ko network to see if he could. One time he was going through that procedure and D-ko didn’t work but all of the pings after did. He called Julie to tell her that her email was apparently down. She wasn’t there, so he told the Dentist that was Julie’s boss.
Julie was fired that night.
Julie called me and requested me to “tell that rat-$@%^er that I never want to speak to him again!”
In the back of my mind, I was telling myself, “He will probably be glad to hear that.”
He felt awful for getting her fired, but if the result was that she would leave him alone, he could live with that.