Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lest You Think I Only Make Fun of Other People…

I hate getting my hair cut. I always have. I don’t like people touching my head, and sitting still for half an hour while either trying to make small talk with someone or having to listen to other people talk is just torture. I really don’t care what my hair looks like, I just want it to be short enough that it doesn’t tangle too easily, and in a style that doesn’t require me to do anything other than brush it in the morning.

Back when I was in college my friend Stephanie convinced me to go to a more “edgy” salon. (Honestly, I think this may be the only time I ever went to go get my hair cut with someone else.) While I was waiting for my turn we talked about what I wanted. I believe my exact quote was “I don’t really care as long as they don’t shave my head.”

However, when I was sitting in the chair, what came out was something along the lines of “Do whatever you want to do.” Naturally the stylist immediately whipped out the clippers and set to work. I thought Stephanie was going to stop breathing because she was laughing so hard.

The thing is, it looked pretty good. And it was really easy to take care of. It wasn’t long enough to tangle, and there really wasn’t all that much to brush. The only problem is that 1) I didn’t (and still don’t) wear makeup, and 2) I didn’t (and still don’t) wear dresses. Apparently “short hair” plus “no makeup” plus “jeans” equals “male” to a small but significant percentage of the population.

Let me just say, if I were a guy and had a butt this big, I would cry.

In the Santa Ana train station, the bathrooms are down a short hallway – the men’s bathroom is halfway down on the left, and the women’s bathroom is at the end.

I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, plus my leather jacket, Doc Martins, and I was carrying my guitar case. But again, let me stress, if I were a guy and had hips like this, I would never leave my room. Ever.

Anyhow, I walked down the hallway, followed by two guys probably in their fifties, with slight Southern accents. As I passed the men’s bathroom, one of them called out.

“Son… Son! You’re going the wrong way!”

At this point I realized they were talking to me and I paused and considered turning around, but then decided that it just wasn’t worth the effort and the all-around embarrassment. I kept going into the women’s bathroom.

As the door closed behind me, I heard him drawl to his friend, “Well… I guess he didn’t care.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Please Recycle After Reading

So, I've been working at the same company off and on for about fifteen years. In that time we've changed names at least four times, moved the location of group at least twice, centralized and decentralized a couple of times, and redone the organizational chart at least every six months. But the most interesting change has been the progression of the recycling effort.

When I first started, there was a bin in the break room for aluminum cans. I think that was about it. If you needed to recycle anything else, you gave it to Rvan, and he took it down to the county recycling.

Then we were each assigned a big white box, about eighteen inches high, with the footprint of A-size paper. On the box was printed all of the things that you could (paper) and couldn't (Post-its, plastic envelopes) put in the box. Those boxes were great, not for recycling, but as an easy supply of scrap paper and a time-based filing system. The one time someone came through and emptied the boxes, there was general outrage because we no longer had those scraps of paper that had design notes that you thought you were done with but really weren't. At that point we still had aluminum recycling in the break room.

In the cycle after that, the company went whole-hog. Our standard black plastic trash cans were labeled with a big fluorescent "recycling" sticker, and a tiny little piggyback bin was attached to the side with a round "Basura" sticker. The aluminum recycling bin was taken out of the break room because it was theoretically redundant.

(Sidenote: Okay, granted, 99% of our cleaning people have spoken Spanish as their native language (and you could get some interesting but scary stories from the Guatemalan about being beaten by the female police officers in his native land), but isn't it just the tiniest bit racist to assume that they can't figure out what the word "trash" is? After all, if I can figure out "basura" and I don't know Spanish, surely someone living in this country who is making a living cleaning office buildings can puzzle out one word of English, right?)

Anyhow, the reversal of the big and little cans confused a lot of people. Some followed the labels, others followed the prior purpose. After I worked late a few times I realized that it really didn't matter since the person emptying both the recycling and basura bins went around with one big trash can for both of them.

As it stands now, we each have our own (unlabeled) standard-sized trash can. And there is can and bottle recycling in the break room, along with non-confidential paper recycling in the copier room.

But if you need to recycle anything else (batteries, cardboard, etc), you give it to Rvan.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gloves Are Such A Handy Thing

After untold weeks of tearing up my hands while ripping out dead ivy, I decided to actually wear gloves this weekend. Usually I just go out there and start yanking, and only when I'm about to pass out from the heat do I notice that my fingers are more sausage-like than usual, and I have blisters.

Of course, wearing gloves requires first finding them. My garage is a tad disorganized. Or, really, it's organized in a LIFO (last in, first out for the non-computer geeks out there) fashion -- everything I've used in the last two months is piled right by the door, but things I haven't used recently are in the unlit areas.

(Jeff's shed/garage is much more meticulously organized, but has similar results. In searching for gloves, he found all the left gloves, but the right gloves were somewhere else. That's just crazy. My method at least makes some sense.)

So I finally found two gloves, and then I had to do the spider stomp dance on them. Scrawny Mike claims that the twist method is better, but I figure that will just slightly injure and seriously piss them off -- if I'm sticking my fingers in there, I want them dead.

Anyhow, I yanked a whole bunch of dead ivy out of the ground until I filled up the bin.

Naturally, when I took off the gloves I didn't have any blisters on my palms, but the stiff leather had rubbed off all the skin on two of my knuckles. Sometimes you just can't win...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

From the "What Were They Thinking?" File

This is my cats' new favorite toy, made of brown cloth and feathers:

It was originally attached to the new scratching post, but that only lasted about ten seconds.

It travels all over the house, and I'm continually almost stepping on it.

I call it the "Turd'n'feathers". Because really, that's what it looks like.

Obviously the people who make this thing don't have an ancient, occasionally somewhat fecal-incontinent dog running around the house.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

At some point in the last couple of weeks, I actually passed the one year mark for this blog. That's a true accomplishment considering that I only had about three months of stuff to talk about.

It may not seem like such a big deal to most people, but that means that twice a week for the past year I've forced myself to sit down and write something. And yes, on rereading them, some are truly awful, but there's a couple of funny ones in there, even if I'm the only one who laughs at them.

And at times I may be the only one who laughs at them -- I honestly have no idea who reads this crap. I haven't put a traffic counter on my page because a) that just seems a little too much like work, and b) I tend to get a little obsessed sometimes and that's not something I want to obsess about.

So here are my blog goals for the next year:
  • Keep posting stuff. Good, bad, whatever. I'm all about the attendance award.
  • Continue to tell embarrassing stories about my brothers and sisters. And Rvan, whose head is large enough to qualify for admission to my family.
  • Limit the posts about my cats to one per quarter. (Really, you don't know how lucky you are...)
  • Learn how to use my camera a little better. (Because I shouldn't have to photoshop in arrows to explain what I'm referring to...)

There you go. Who says I don't have goals in my life?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who's Ready to Rock?

Things on the nano-reef front have taken a hugely exciting turn (which isn't really saying much since previously the tank held nothing but air...).

On Tuesday I got my shipment of live rock from Florida. I've learned a couple of things since then.
  1. I'm really not very good at "aquascaping". Seriously, how hard can it be to arrange rocks? And yet...
  2. If you have semi-healed blisters on your hand from yanking out ivy without gloves, putting your hand in salt water is not the most fun thing in the world.
  3. I really, really suck at photography.
Keeping those things in mind, here are some pictures.

The obligatory full tank shot

One of the rocks: the red/purple/orange stuff is Coralline algae. The little round white thing over on the right side just below midline is a Spirorbid worm (I think) which is a filter feeder. Maybe I should have cropped the picture more...

I'm fairly certain this is a sponge. But I could be completely wrong.

Evidence that some life survived the shipping process! (Worm tracks in the sand.)

So yeah, that's how the tank is going to look for a while until it finishes cycling and I spend even more money on it.

In the meantime maybe I'll read the manual for my camera...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Band Bingo

So Jeff over at View from the Cloud wrote a post about an afternoon spent "volunteering" at a concession stand at the Metrodome to help defray his daughter's band expenses.

I have no children (and for that let us take a moment to run through a list of the entire pantheon giving thanks), but I was in marching band for one entire year, so I felt a little obligated when my parents needed someone to volunteer at the weekly bingo game to work off Jojo the Enforcer's band debt eight years later. Eric was in band for all four years in high school, so he really should have had to volunteer four times, or even more since he played the sousaphone and basically sat on the sidelines mixing lemonade during hell week while the rest of the field band (including me) tried to perfect patterns other than wavy lines.

As with all things related to marching band, this experience was truly hellish. The only up-side was that it was over in a day and I didn't have to listen to beginning flute players butcher anything. I'd never actually been to a bingo parlor before (or even to a high school gym while it doubled as a bingo parlor on the weekend), so I had no idea what to expect. Here's what I learned:

  • If the AARP ran a recruitment drive at a bingo game, pretty much everyone there would qualify. By at least twenty years. This wasn't a game for people that had anything else going on in their lives...
  • Those old biddies could get nasty fast. And the old men, too. It didn't take much to set them off -- someone winning a game twice, a caller going too quickly, the pull-tab seller trying to calculate the amount they'd won instead of taking their word for it, all were grounds for letting the inner demon loose.
  • There seemed to be a basic lack of understanding of the term "random". I have never seen so many people with so many different superstitions in one location. First they had to fight for their lucky seat, and then they had to pick the right cards from the stack to purchase. One guy had cloves of garlic set all around his cards. Another lady had troll dolls set facing each of the four directions. Everyone had "lucky" daubers. These people were crazy.
  • Anything less than four packs a day was considered amateur. By the end of the afternoon even the gym ceiling fans couldn't keep up with the level of smoke generated. I wanted to burn my clothes after I left. (On a side note, I can't imagine that smoking in the building is still allowed -- those old geezers must have been really put out when that change took effect.)
  • Every loss was due to a conspiracy. On the other hand, these people were pretty much equal-opportunity haters. Depending on who you talked to, the Jews were running the game. Or the Mexicans. Or the Protestants. Or the Poles. Or any of the other groups that were responsible for every disappointment in life. These people weren't shy about voicing their prejudices. The only thing they could agree on was that the other bingo game in town was definitely fixed.
Anyhow, I survived. Eric survived, too, although I thought he was going to slug some old lady about halfway through the day. I think she could have taken him, though. I would have bet on it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Things I've Carried

It's list time again...

Topic: Things I've purchased over the years without having a way to bring it home

  • A bird cage. When I got my "free" cockatiel about nine years ago, I needed to get a cage. So Eric and I took a trip to downtown Walnut Creek and I purchased a full-size cage which was one solid piece. Then we tried to fit it in the trunk of Eric's car. No go. Eventually we abandoned the car and pushed the cage home (~4 miles) on the bike trail. But hey, at least it had wheels.
  • A Christmas tree. While I was living in Germany I had no car. But it was Christmas, and I was downtown, and I decided my dorm room really needed this 4' live tree in a one gallon pot. That thing just got heavier and heavier as I lugged it the two miles home. People looked at me strangely. But it was only really painful when I was a few hundred yards from my dorm and realized there was a tree lot at the local market and they were selling the exact same trees. (The damned thing died in a couple weeks. Typical German ending.)
  • A ping pong table. Rvan and I took a trip to Sears to buy a ping pong table. It obviously wasn't going to fit in, or on, his Probe, so Jeff came with the Impala. He sailed up in front of the store entrance and we proceeded to tie the table onto the roof of the car. When the Sears employees saw what we were doing, they came out and made us sign a stupidity waver saying that we wouldn't sue them if something happened on the way home. It's somewhat embarrassing when people who are stuck working retail jobs think you're being stupid.
Now I just have to work on getting fourteen gallons of distilled water home...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Wonderful Blizzard From Paws

So I bought a used 14 gallon tank for my new nano-reef a few weeks ago, but it has been sitting on the floor of my living room since then because I didn't have anything to put it on. Yesterday I finally went out and bought a kitchen stand that looks sturdy enough to hold over 100 pounds of water.

You'll notice that I still don't have any water, rock, or sand in there since I didn't quite make it to the aquarium store. But, you know, nano-reefs require lots of patience (or so everyone says) so don't be rushing me! After I get the salt water and live rock in there it may still be six weeks before I can add any coral.

(And if you want the specifics about whole ammonia goes to nitrites which go to nitrates which get taken up by plants or macro algae or dumped during water changes, go look it up yourself. What's cool about it is that it's the same process (on a smaller scale) that happens out at the water treatment plant where I took a tour during one of my biology classes. )

Anyhow, here is the stand with the empty tank.

And here is the packaging after the cats descended on it.

If you look closely, you will notice that even the pink elephant got dragged into the fun.

Turns out that tiny pieces of styrofoam (or whatever the generic name for it is) are a pain in the butt to clean up...