Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday Ramblings

I swear, I can quit blogging anytime I want.

Last night baby Anna climbed into bed with me and snuggled up close. She stroked my arm. "You have smooth skin, Mommy," she said. "Like a hot dog."

My skin is also delicious, apparently, as I'm being eaten alive. Still, it's a perfect day for sitting on the front steps with the plants, an entirely ineffectual citronella candle, and my iBook. Margie's moving over the next couple of weeks and I'm plant-sitting for her. Her plants are much cooler than mine.

If mosquitoes are so repelled by citronella, how come I find drowned ones in the melted wax? Remind me not to sit out here in daisy dukes anymore. I'm going to be incredibly itchy in some really embarrassing places tomorrow.

It's also a perfect day for installing my happy new hood ornament.

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Friday, June 29, 2007


Cats could teach us a few things about how to be human.

I'm sitting on my front porch, Bingo and Slappy White next to me. Bingo's been sound asleep for a while: his eyes are closed tight shut, his head resting uncomfortably on a coil of the garden hose. Cats don't fret over details.

Slappy White is licking his nether regions.

They are perfectly content with life and all it has to offer. The sun is shining after days and days of rain. It's very warm, but not too uncomfortably so. There's enough to eat and nothing to worry about. Why shouldn't they be blissfully happy?

Of course, they're neutered.

Life seems a lot harder to me, most days, though I'm grateful for moments like this, when mosquitoes are the worst calamity fate could hand me. All of us have to discover our bliss one way or another. It just takes humans a really long time.

This song seems perfect right now, and I dedicate it to the priceless friends who are there for me in times of trouble - and in times of not-trouble, too. I love you.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Honest Feedback

Boo for interminably long, completely unnecessary training sessions.

Hooray for training evaluation forms!
1. Was this training helpful to you?
No. The information presented in this class was so incredibly basic and self-explanatory that anyone who answers "yes" should be fired on the spot. In fact, I'd be tempted to believe that's the whole idea behind this, and that this whole training process is merely a clever device for weeding out some of the more egregious morons who work here, except that (a) I still see so many of them continuing to roam the halls, and (b) the manager who came up with this program is the biggest one.

2. Would you recommend this training to others?
I wouldn't really bother speaking to anyone who might benefit from this training, as such a person probably couldn't communicate much beyond pointing and grunting. Moreover, since you idiots require this class in order for us to be granted access to a basic software tool we need to do our jobs, it's not like anyone has any choice in the matter anyway.

3. What can we do to improve?
Well, you could fire your entire departmental staff and start over from scratch. I believe if you check behind the dumpster at the Wendy's down the street, you'll find several significantly better-qualified candidates. They smell nicer than a few of you, too.

4. Which topics in this class should be covered in greater depth?
I really didn't feel there was adequate time devoted to explaining the techniques we need to understand in order to wipe our own butts. Perhaps you could write detailed instructions and post them on the inside doors of the restroom stalls. Just be sure not to use any big words (see answer to question 2).

Oh wait, I forgot: you guys don't know any big words.

Additional comments:
You all owe me an hour and a half of my life back - an hour and a half I could have used for something marginally more productive, such as performing my job duties, or reading an article on advances in dredging technology, or picking my nose. Never again will I be as hopeful and idealistic as I was 90 minutes ago. You can pay me at my normal rate; you can pay me overtime; you could even offer me hazard pay. But you can never restore my innocent faith in the basic concept of human intelligence.

Okay, so that's what I would have liked to write. Unfortunately, the training staff used the new software we were covering in the class to generate the survey form, so it didn't work.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

What Women Want

Katie bought me a doll at Goodwill for $3. It's supposed to be "the perfect man," and if you squeeze his hand, he says things like,

"Want to go to the mall? I feel like shopping."


"Let's just cuddle tonight."

But I already have gay friends.

Actually, the things he says cause me some doubt as to whether I am a normal woman. Wait. I'm not supposed to want sex?? I'm supposed to think the mall is a good place?!?

The doll also says a few things about helping out with the housework, which we all know is still the rightful domain of women, no matter how liberated we liked to think we'd become. Sure, we can break the glass ceiling, and gain the respect and admiration of our peers, and support our families, and wield influence in the workplace, but by God, it's still our job to scrub behind the toilet. Unless we make enough money to pay some other woman to come in and do it for us.

But I suspect I am a normal woman after all (well - relatively speaking). And I bet if I designed a "perfect man" doll, he wouldn't end up at Goodwill, either. Mine would say things like,

"Oh baby, your (censored censored) makes me so (censored) I just want to (censored censored censored) all over your (censored) until you (censored censored) with (censored censored censored censored) and we (censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored). Oh, (censored), baby."

And because he's the perfect man, he'd even volunteer to clean the whipped cream off the ceiling fan afterwards.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Question of the Day

Do citronella candles actually do anything?!?!?

How about if you melt them down and smear the wax all over your body?

Just wondering.

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As Brittle As It Is Beautiful

"Floozies are friendly for free," I explained to the two guys sitting on either side of me on the sidewalk in front of L_M_N_L last night, red plastic cups of cheap beer in our hands. "Whores cost you more."

You know the evening's going downhill when you start popping out mnemonic devices about prostitution.

I was too tired for much conversation. Eric had played his first gig earlier at Club 115. He mixes electronic music, and as far as live performance goes it doesn't look very interesting, since it's just him standing there with a laptop. So he brought his cousin, Little Morgan (about 6'4" and 225 pounds), to sit on stage next to him, draped in an American flag and eating three Big Macs stacked together into one hellish sandwich.

But this wasn't quite enough visual interest, Eric felt, to hold the audience's attention. He wanted people to dance. What's a loving mother to do? I danced, and so did Margie. The laptop didn't need any further attention, so Eric and a friend of his danced as well. I thought the activity on the dance floor made a nice contrast to the gluttony being showcased on stage, but felt we all should have been draped in flags. I think I still have a Scottish one, packed up in a box somewhere. I don't know what Scotsmen look like when dancing to electronica, but I bet they do the White Guy Bite.

And at the end of about a one-hour set, Little Morgan finished the last bite of his burger. We stopped dancing and cheered. The onlookers cheered. Somebody held up a lighter.

When Eric's show was over, Margie and I walked over to L_M_N_L for her friend's art opening. The space has been gutted of all the steps, levels, cubbyholes and platforms that the guys built last year, and looks rather stark: it's only a small, high-ceilinged room after all. I hope they build something else. It's kind of sad. So I spent most of the evening outside with the smokers. Why do all those bohemian artsy types have to smoke? Some of them could really use a shower, too.

I got up and went upstairs to the print shop to use the bathroom, and when I came back down, I found one of the two guys - who hadn't noticed my return - whispering at length to the other, who was looking hard at me, a knowing smile on his face.

There is a little bit of a story there, and I won't tell it. But I definitely don't have enough fun to deserve a reputation. I went home.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

What's Your Problem?

Remember when it was cool to be a drunk?

I don't, actually, as it was a bit before my time. But I've seen episodes of the Dean Martin Variety Hour. Tell me he wasn't glamorous: slightly unsteady, but dapper and laughing in his tuxedo, a cigarette in one hand and a glass of Scotch in the other. I wouldn't want to be too closely related to him, but I bet he was a blast at parties.

Or even as recently as the mid-70s, it was perfectly acceptable for the entire celebrity cast of Match Game PM to go on air while sozzled out of their skulls on booze - and who knows what else? (Except Richard Dawson, who usually seemed relatively sober, which is why all the contestants always picked him for the final round, until the producers finally took away contestant's choice and made everybody spin a big wheel instead. Woe betide you if it landed on Charles Nelson Reilly!)

Back in those days, you know, being drunk was considered a valid excuse for otherwise unacceptable behavior. Made an ass of yourself in front of your boss, your spouse, and all your friends? Well, you were three sheets to the wind. I understand. It happens to the best of us from time to time.

We don't really have anything like that now. Like alcohol itself, some people leaned too heavily on the excuse, until nobody would accept it anymore. What? You made a pass at the Ridleys' dog - again?!? For God's sake, get help. And go sleep on the couch, you sick bastard.

But it's therapeutic to cut loose and do something crazy and random, just every now and then, that you'd normally never do. As long as you're not hurting anybody, it's all good. Debauched abandon serves a certain purpose in civilized society. In the 80s we tried to replace it with cocaine, but that just made everybody egocentric and cheesy, and eventually led to David Lee Roth's solo career. Then in the 90s we had primal nature retreats where you spent the weekend naked with a bunch of paunchy middle-aged businessmen, cavorting around a campfire and howling at the moon. But it turns out those guys all have crack hair.

And of course there's actual therapy, and doing exercises to work through your issues in a safe, controlled environment; but that's so expensive. We just need some form of temporary escapism for the aughties. It needs to be non-addictive and cheap and not too bad for you; and ideally, it shouldn't lead to you waking up naked on a park bench with an unusual-smelling new friend.

Well, try to think of something. In the meantime I'll be drinking red wine and dirty-dancing at Oilcan Harry's.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ask Questions Later

If you don't go to Homeland Security training, then the terrorists have already won.

Where I work, all employees classified as safety-sensitive are required to take this class. I wish I'd done a better job planning ahead, so I could have ordered one of these shirts to wear to the session: just something to liven up what I assumed would be a three-hour yawnfest.

Wrong on both counts. Turns out Yosemite Sam was in my class, rendering it considerably more interesting, but unfortunately considerably longer as well.

Sam raised his had for the first time not long after the presentation began. The instructor - head of security for my work campus - was covering your main categories of terrorism, which rather to my surprise include any crimes against person or property, no matter what the motive. Your car was broken into? Terrorism.

What - you're freaked out about it, aren't you? All right then.

Obviously, by this definition, murder for whatever motive is a terrorist act. So Sam raised his hand and told us the story of an act of terrorism that had taken place where he had once worked. A grocery store manager had been stabbed to death with a butcher knife: stabbed seven, or eight, or nine times; then, "just to make a statement," Sam said, the killer left the knife impaled in the victim's body.

Sam did not clarify exactly what the statement was, but I'm hazarding something along the lines of "Guess I won't be needing this knife anymore!"

This was just for openers. As the class progressed, the instructor began to talk about how we're always vulnerable to threats. "Why," he said, "if you wanted to, you could -" only I won't tell you the rest, because he basically gave us detailed instructions on how to break into headquarters and wipe out the entire personnel department.

Here, Yosemite Sam raised his hand and asked why our security guards aren't armed.

One wonders if he has actually seen our security guards. I have, and frankly I wouldn't trust most of them with anything more lethal than an eggplant. But it was a dear topic to Sam, so after the instructor responded that arming security guards would be an administration decision and out of his hands, Sam went on to repeat the question at least five more times. I lost count. Then he went on to ask why employees who hold a concealed handgun license aren't allowed to carry firearms on the job. Rules, he pointed out, are only for good guys. Bad guys don't follow the rules!

The constant interruptions seemed to annoy our instructor, who retaliated by describing in great detail how one might bring down the entire U.S. economy with a single well-placed refinery fire. Good gravy! Whose side is he on, anyway?!

As the instructor wound up the class, half an hour after its scheduled ending time, Sam stood up and asked to address the group. He revealed that he runs a private investigative business on the side (sheesh, what a dick!) and teaches classes on personal safety, and wanted to pass along a couple of very important tips especially for us ladies. One, always carry a can of mace in your hand whenever you're walking from a building to your car. Always! With your finger ready on the button. You can't be too safe, you know! Two, always be on the lookout for guys lying around under your SUV or pickup in mall parking lots waiting to attack you.

I don't know about you, but I feel much safer now.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Clearing Everything Right Up

So I started a mirror to this blog over on It's not really a mirror - I just copied & pasted six or seven entries over there, and figure I'll try to keep it updated regularly. I sort of have stage fright, though, because it gets a lot more daily traffic than this one. Which is also a bit depressing; I've been building readership on this thing for over a year and a half now, plus Google owns Blogger, so I get a lot of search engine hits through them. Still, the statesmanblogs stats are blowing mine completely out of the water.

But statesmanblogs won't let you post photos unless you're special (what, I'm not?!*), so I don't plan on abandoning Blogger anytime soon. Besides, I have no idea who those readers are. Probably a bunch of riffraff. Not cool like you guys.**

It was occurring to me, starting a brand-new blog in a brand-new place, that it might be helpful to the readership to put together a little glossary covering the unfamiliar terms I'll be tossing into my writing here and there. Here are a few ideas to start with.

10-keying: Symbolically, any mindless task assigned as a punishment to employees the boss doesn't like, in order to humiliate them and break their spirit. 10-keying might not refer to actual 10-keying; similarly, actual 10-keying might not be 10-keying, if you catch my drift.

Buttlickers: Cats! They're cats!!! For heaven's sake, people.

Going transportational: When state agency employees have had more than they can take!

Panicmonger: My supervisor, who is going to make us all go transportational one of these days.

PowerPoint: An excellent piece of recreational software, which I understand can sometimes be used for business purposes as well.

Stalker: Any male state agency employee who expresses any prurient interest whatsoever, however fleetingly or politely, in any female state agency employee.

Three-Martini Break Group, or 3MBG: Needs no explanation here, of course. Just an informal collection of the coolest people I've ever known.

Toupeedar: The ability to detect Donald Trump with the naked eye from other galaxies.

VW Ribbit: My awesome car.

Any more suggestions? Throw 'em in. The riffraff over at statesmanblogs are depending on you.

*I am not proud.
**Statesmanblogs readers who have found their way over here and are reading this are, by definition, not riffraff.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

You Don't Need to Exorcise

While eating at my desk today, it occurred to me to wonder: Why do we automatically assume demonic possession is a bad thing?

I really need to quit bringing soup for lunch.

But when you think about it, not all demonic manifestations are so terrible. Levitation would be cool. And being able to crawl up the wall on your back. That sort of trick would be great at parties, and if you were possessed of an entrepreneurial spirit, you could easily land paying gigs. And just think how the athletic possibilities could spice up your love life. Hell, if you hung out on the goth scene, you could get laid any time you wanted.

You'd want a lawyer to check over the fine print, but I don't see why a deal couldn't be worked out. It would be pretty simple: the demon doesn't do anything to get you fired, disowned, dumped, or socially ostracized; and you don't call in the Vatican. I'm sure the demon would be willing to give up a few of its less pleasant manifestations, and maybe relinquish control part-time, in exchange for greater public exposure and attention, which is all the Dark Side really wants anyway. Take a look at reality TV if you don't believe me.

Think about it! And eat your soup.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Father's Day Top 10

If anybody knows anything about dads and familial relationships, it's Hallmark, right? Here are the top ten things about fathers that I've learned from the greeting card industry.

10. Dads do a lot of yardwork, but it's the bane of their existence, unless they are lucky enough to own a massive, powerful ride-on mower.

9. Dads mostly lie around on the couch watching sports on TV all weekend.

8. Unless they're into golf.

7. Dads freak out in comical fashion when their teenaged son wrecks the car or their teenaged daughter maxes out their credit card. Ha ha! Silly dad.

6. Dads just love fart jokes. A little too much.

5. They hold backyard barbecues, but they always burn everything, and might occasionally start fires.

4. They're fundamentally lazy.

3. Dads enjoy tinkering. They break stuff a lot.

2. They want power tools for Father's Day, but you are going to buy them a necktie. Oh yes. Yes you are.

And the number one thing I've learned about dads from the greeting card industry:

1. I don't have a Hallmark dad. Thank God for that!

In fact I would say that probably the worst quality my dad has is that it's always hard to pick out a Father's Day card for him, because he has steadfastly refused to take greeting-card fatherhood as a model, and is in fact intelligent, thoughtful, measured, talented, resourceful, good-humored, and kind.

I guess I'm willing to put up with that. Happy Father's Day, Daddy! I love you.

I hope the card got there on time, for once.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

How the Other Half Lives

Leaning on the railing of a balcony overlooking the pool and yard of a multi-million-dollar Westlake Hills mansion yesterday evening, I realized that Austin has an aristocracy. And the people who keep Austin weird aren't hippies, or garage band members, or Chronicle staffers, or art car drivers, or even, say, Leslie. Not that these people don't do a lot. But they're labor, not management. Without the blessings, programs, and campaigns of the moneyed ruling classes, all these feathers in the weird Austin cap would be just so much underground-movement riffraff.

"How do you know Scott?" I was asked several times over the course of yesterday evening. "Oh, he represented my sister's ex-boyfriend on a DWI charge," I didn't say.

The full story is that the band Margie's in plays at parties for Scott, who really is an extremely nice guy - certainly he has at least 300 close friends - as payment in kind for his services. The upper classes can be indulgent: certainly he had no difficulty affording a "real" band, an excellent professional bluesy roadhouse combo whose name I didn't catch. Teddy and Marge are not such a band. They typically play for exposure, not money, in any case.

There were two kegs of good beer by the front door, two more on the back patio, and a third pair at a drink station in the yard. There was a full bar in the wood-paneled den, better stocked than some restaurant bars I've seen. There were margarita machines and limitless bottles of wine. So Scott, being as I've mentioned a DWI attorney, rented out the parking lot of the nearby high school and hired a fleet of golf carts to shuttle guests back and forth from his house all night. Guests who had too much to drink could then easily be prevented from leaving.

Margie's ex-boyfriend, Bill, befriended Kay over barbecue. She's from Dallas and took an instant dislike to him. "How did you come to be here," she asked, "did you find a flyer on the street somewhere?"

I have never liked Dallas.

But Bill, who works for Waterloo, has been respectably outfitting Scott with vinyl for years, apparently. Scott is a connoisseur, and has a small room just off the entrance hall dedicated to his record collection. Bill is too good-natured to bristle. Kay became friendlier, asking how she might best dispose of her ex-husband's record collection, which she doesn't know anything about, except that he had loved it and supposedly had several rare and valuable items in it.

"Why did you get it, then?" Bill inquired.

Kay laughed. "Oh, I got everything!" she said. "Except the dog."

After we had eaten, Teddy and Marge relieved the roadhouse combo to do a set by the pool. I was apprehensive. "This is not the right scene," I whispered to Bill. "These people are going to hate this."

He laughed. "It doesn't matter," he told me.

We were both right, though at least Scott said he enjoyed the set. I did, too. And the aristocracy of Austin is too well-bred to be openly hostile. Afterwards we tore down and loaded up the trailer, and Grady (that's the Teddy of Teddy and Marge) capped the show by stripping down and leaping, splay-legged, hooting and naked, into the pool. Nobody batted an eye. I don't think they expected anything less from someone who had just played what they had just listened to him playing.

With gratitude to our generous and indulgent host, then, we headed out to Clementine's to hear Grady's girlfriend Lauren play accordion with the Seas, which was totally awesome, then back to the little eastside art co-op where Bill lives.

Money's nice and all, but I think the riffraff have more fun.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

In Your Court

Have you ever browsed through the attorney listings in the Yellow Pages?

It's an interesting little sociological study, you know, to do so. The basic alphabetical text listings are no good whatsoever. You can't just pick someone and call, because for all you know you're getting someone who's board-certified in suits for personal injury caused by escaped zoo animals. If you called such a lawyer needing real estate advice, the receptionist would just laugh at you. You schmuck! What do you know about the law?

So you have to rely on the lawyers who have taken out ads listing details of what types of cases they handle. And because a picture is worth a thousand words, almost all of them are thoughtful enough to let you know what they look like, too.

Personal injury attorneys always look very grim and aggressive in their pictures. They're pissed as hell at what's happened to you! And they're not going to take it! Some of them appear to be clutching pieces of raw meat in their teeth. These are the guys you want on your side if you're dealing with big business: uncooperative insurance companies, malpractical doctors, your asshole of an employer. This'll learn 'em a lesson they'll never forget.

But look, then, at the bankruptcy attorney pictures. They're smiling, but not happily. They appear to be overwhelmed with sympathy. You poor thing, you can almost hear them saying. There, there. Everything's going to be okay. My favorite attorney in the whole Yellow Pages falls into this category: not only does he bear a genial, understanding grin, but his kindly visage is blessed with the Moustache of Compassion. Look in the Yellow Pages; you'll see him. Just looking at his photo is almost enough to make me wish I were cripplingly in debt, because then I'd get to hire him.

My second favorite is the one who has "As seen on TV!" in his ad. I've seen him on TV: he looks like a regular guy, with long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. His schtick is that he doesn't look like a lawyer, so that helps him sneak up on 'em! But his Yellow Pages photo looks like an illustration from a children's Bible. My third favorite is the one who I refuse to believe is not actually a woman dressed up like a man. God, I hope this post doesn't get me sued.

It disturbed me a little to note that attorneys representing you against charges of sexual misconduct or DWI seem disproportionately to look like college frat guys. But they're junior partners, generally; the senior, respectable guy, the "dad" attorney, almost always appears alongside. We can sympathize with what you're going through! But unlike you, we know how to keep it in our pants.

Family law attorneys (that's divorce, there, and a few other case types of less immediate interest) smile brightly, but don't look quite as compassionate as the bankruptcy guys. Sure, they'll provide a shoulder in your time of need; but make no mistake: you wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of one in court.

Then you have your large law firms: a full staff of senior partners and junior partners and associates and who knows what all. These firms have something for everyone. Just look at the pictures: men, women, black, white, Hispanic, kindly, tough, old and young, all arrayed in dark suits and ties for your pleasure. One rather wonders if they offer a special of the day.

I'm going to a lawyer party tonight with my sister. It will make my weekend if I actually get to meet some of these people.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Fashion Citizen's Arrest

I love thrift-store shopping. Depending on the store, of course, you can find some unique and beautiful pieces that help express your personal style. It takes a little more digging than just going to a department store; but on the other hand, you're much less likely to end up in a public place with someone else wearing the exact same outfit: fashion death!

Plus, it's cheap.

My in-laws gave me a TJ Maxx gift certificate for my birthday, though, so I went shopping there today. It's a bit more of a challenge. Not that I'm averse to a bit of a challenge! There's kind of a hodgepodge of items to pick through, like a thrift store, but everything costs a little more than it should, and many of the items are heartbreakingly ugly. I did find three very nice new tops. But the trip also made it clear that it's incumbent on me, as a public service, to post a quick list of all-time fashion don'ts. I don't give a rat's ass if these things are in style and all your friends are wearing them: DON'T!

Shoulder pads. Just when you were heaving a sigh of relief, deciding the 80s were just a horrible, cocaine-fueled nightmare, you come across something with shoulder pads at what is supposed to be a respectable clothing store. Do you really want to look like a football player? It's okay to buy these shirts, though: this is why God, in Her infinite wisdom, gave us scissors and garbage cans.

Stripes. Stripes should be worn in black and white ONLY, do you hear me? And no, navy is not an acceptable alternative. We all know you're not a sailor, no matter how many - never mind.

Animal prints. Be they zebra, leopard, giraffe, crocodile, or any other animal pattern; be they on shoes, bags, or garments, animal prints are tacky, tacky, tacky. Why not put on rhinestone-studded glasses and a quarter-inch-thick layer of lipstick while you're at it?

Excessive ornamentation. This includes fringe, non-functional buttons, seashells, rhinestones (shudder), and aggressive beading. Delicate beading is okay.

Neon colors. Acceptable on swimwear, nowhere else.

Pant or skirt sets which use the same print on the top as on the bottom. Ugh! Solids are okay, though you really ought to mix it up a little. But wearing the exact same print on your blouse as your capris makes the baby Jesus cry.

Long, pointy-toed shoes. I can't understand why any woman would want to look, not just like a witch, but like a witch with big feet. Granted that, in a pinch, you can stab an attacker with the toe. But why would you need to? That's what the stiletto heel is for.

Shapeless garments, or, alternately, garments with a shape that contrasts with your own. You have a waist. Use it. And don't wear clothes that argue with you, because you'll lose.

Short empire-waist tops. Personally, I love empire-waist tops! But be sure they're long enough, otherwise your hips will look like a refrigerator carton.

Boring clothes. One word: why?

And lest you think I'm just trying to impose my own taste on the fashion world as a whole, here's a quick list of things I wouldn't be caught dead in that you are nonetheless allowed to wear.

Mod or retro prints. Not my thing, but go for it if you like it.

High-necked garments. Don't think it doesn't cause me a few pangs to allow these. You shouldn't be afraid of a little cleavage. I myself am not afraid of rather a lot of it; but if you must, you may.

Slacks. I look awful in them. Maybe you don't.

Collars. I hate them, but I couldn't tell you why. It's entirely irrational; so you may wear all the collars (and lapels, for that matter - even notched!) that you want.

Sensible shoes. Just don't wear white ones from Labor Day to Memorial Day, okay? Not even in Texas. That's all I ask.

I hope this has been enlightening. Happy Fashion! I'm off to play dress-up.

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Morning Sickness

Around 5 a.m., I awoke from a vivid dream that I had just found out I was pregnant. Timing is a bit muddled in dreams. For one thing, it's odd that I was only just finding out as I was beginning to feel the baby move. For another thing, if my last sexual encounter had knocked me up, you'd think the diapers and 3 a.m. feedings would have tipped me off some time ago.

My alarm went off just as I was getting back to sleep, and I was agonizingly tired, and I don't want to go to work, and I haven't taken a sick day in a month or so. I got up to compose an email to the panicmonger. "I'm sick (cough, cough)," I wrote.

The joke's on her, because I moved my car back into the break spot before riding my bike home yesterday.

But now, of course, I'm wide awake. Maybe I'll go shopping. I could use a pair of these:

They're perfectly safe. I have an IUD!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Today's Tuesday!

Today's band name: Amish Floozy

Today's addition to my car: An Apple sticker

Today's fortune cookie: "All of your hard work will soon be paid off."

Today's aggravation: I got back from lunch to discover that my parking spot, the one right in the middle next to the three-martini break area, had been taken. Now, I realize the common folk can't be expected to understand that this spot is the rightful property of their betters. But the car parked there this afternoon belongs to the panicmonger. Unacceptable!

Today's feat of derring-do: A coworker received a .gwi attachment from a District contact and asked if I knew what kind of file that was. So I googled it.

Today's magnetic fridge phrase:
please go away
I am having a sausage moment here

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

On the Banks of the Guadalupe

The water is cold, even though it's approximately 800 million degrees out. (Fahrenheit, though, not Celsius.) Katie, Margie, Margie's friend Lauren, and I are sitting at the edge of the water, splashing ourselves, eew-eew-eewing at the river grasses, and exchanging greetings with passing tubers. Katie, Margie, and Lauren jump in and swim about now and again, but I don't trust my bikini top. There's a Knights of Columbus fundraiser going on at the opposite bank, so a bad band is playing religious music for our enlightenment. A few of the tubers (people in swimsuits and inflatable rafts, not root vegetables) join in with enthusiasm as they float by. "Oh I'm a friend to Gooooooooooooooood!" wails one.

Too far out to splash. Damn.

A guy comes up to us. "Hey, girls!" he says. It's hard to hear him over the dreadful music. "I'm taking a break right now. Do y'all want to play with my (word I couldn't possibly have heard correctly)?"

We look at him and each other. We're all rather taken aback. "Uh, no, thank you?" we venture.

"I'll put it in the water for you, if you like," he says.

He gestures towards his kayak (Kayak! Ohhhhh!) sitting on the bank behind us.

Did you know that Pabst Blue Ribbon proclaims proudly on its cans that it was judged America's best beer in 1893? Perhaps traditionalists are impressed by this, but I can't help wondering if there aren't maybe two or three more breweries in the U.S. than there were in the late nineteenth century. Especially once the beer starts to get warm.

It was a good day but I expect to be a bit tender tomorrow. My bikini top allowed the sun in places where it doesn't normally shine.

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Bright-Tailed and Bushy-Eyed

What an ungodly hour to be awake on a Sunday morning. I didn't get to bed until four. Did you know that Oilcan Harry's gets to be incredibly crowded? And that Magnolia Cafe after the bars close down isn't much better? And that, if you drive down South Congress at 2:45 a.m. in a decked-out Happy Fun Car, some drunk guy in a pickup truck might scream and moon you? Honestly, after Friday's happy hour, I'd already had my fill of crack.

I so totally meant to blog about that and forgot. It was heinous. There's not enough spackle in all the Home Depots in the world. No one we know: just some guy at the next table who apparently isn't averse to a bit of a draft.

Last night I had a dream about interviewing for the job I applied for on Friday. This is, of course, entirely Tony's fault. I dreamed that I was attending some high-level frou-frou meeting at a picnic table in the mud, but then the pilot arrived and the picnic table took off, and once we were airborne, one of the high-level frou-frou attendees began asking me interview questions.

Picnic tables are less than ideal, aerodynamically speaking. The flight never got very high, and was shaky and shuddery, and we kept narrowly missing trees. And of course our feet were sort of hanging out the bottom, so I felt a little vulnerable. It was hard to concentrate. But I think I did well!

We'll take the dream as a promising sign. Maybe I'll be picking up some new interview duds at Mall of America in a few weeks. Fingers are crossed!

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday Project

A little light ride-pimpage:

I'm hoping the magic wand on the antenna will hold up a little longer than the pinwheel we put on it yesterday. It turns out pinwheels don't do that well at highway speeds.

It needs a hood ornament. Any suggestions?


Something I Didn't Want to Know

Dinosaurs died horrible, agonizing deaths

Inasmuch as I ever thought about it (which, to be perfectly honest, I never did) I always imagined them passing peacefully in their sleep. This is so sad!

And speaking of dinosaurs, I applied for another job within the agency yesterday. I have Hope. My job experience seems particularly relevant to the skills they're looking for. The only problem is that the job is in HR, so I'd be working among complete idiots.

But it would be a whole shiny new set of complete idiots! Robbie remarked it would be like going from the cast-iron frying pan into the stainless steel frying pan. What the hell, I need fresh blog fodder.

The agency hiring process takes a geological era or two. Hopefully I'll hear back from them before we're all extinct.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

When You're in Waco

This is for Robbie so he doesn't get homesick.


Where's My Ejector Seat Button??

We use Novell GroupWise at work. It's like Outlook, only not as sexy. You can use it to set tasks. The panicmonger loves to do this.

I think she likes it so much because that way, she doesn't have to deal with her employees in person when telling them to do ridiculous shit that really doesn't need to be done and is only going to get in the way of their work.

None of us openly roll our eyes at her - not quite. But it's a very near thing. Of coure, we all realize that the reason she assigns these tasks is because otherwise she doesn't feel involved. She doesn't know how to do our job. She doesn't seem to be entirely clear on exactly what our job is. But she does know one thing: that, come hell or high water, by God, she's going to manage us - like it or not.*

When you receive a task notification through GroupWise, it gives you three options: Accept, Decline, or Delegate. There is of course a fourth option, which is Ignore; and this is in fact the option that most of us generally select. But due to an amazing lack of foresight on Novell's part, there's no button for it.

Fortunately we all have keyboards equipped with the latest in "delete" keys.

Still, I think the fact that GroupWise does not have an ejector seat button clearly indicates that Novell doesn't know the first thing about its users.


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Monday, June 04, 2007

Life Imitates Reality

Work tends to be fairly peaceful, though when you stop to think about it, it really shouldn't be. We've got all the necessary ingredients for a bitch-slap showdown of incredible magnitude. Yet somehow it never happens. We need someone to act as a catalyst: someone to feed the flames, to play personalities off against each other; someone to whip everyone into a complete frenzy, then stand around shaking his head and looking terribly disappointed in us all.

We need Jerry Springer. And we're ready for him, because as of today, Bubbly Nonsmoker has just about run out of bubbles.

This morning, as Robbie and I headed out to break, we caught Butch and got him to join us. Butch is a long-termer. He's always been friendly and welcoming, but he takes his job seriously, so he never hung around with us newbie riffraff. He's a quiet, good-natured sort, and not one to rock the boat. He's been doing this job for twenty-odd years. Our panic-mongering supervisor has, in only a few short months, worn away over two decades' worth of easygoing, laissez-faire morale. Butch goes on break with us now.

Bubbly Nonsmoker passed us in the hall as we were on our way out the door. "You don't get to go anywhere," she snapped at Butch. "The boss wants to meet with us in her office."

"I didn't get a call or an email, and she didn't put it on my calendar," shrugged Butch. (Our supervisor is morbidly obsessed with having everything scheduled on our calendar. She'd make us post our potty breaks there if she thought she could get away with it.) "I'm going on break."

Bubbly Nonsmoker was so taken aback by this show of defiance, you could almost detect a wisp of leftover smoke curling from one flared nostril. "Fine!" she barked, turning her back and stalking off.

In other news, that new system that Automation implemented a couple of months ago to simplify our work process isn't doing so well. The one we protested, you know, because it would send its automatic alerts to everybody every time anyone did anything? Well, it turns out that Automation isn't getting the notifications they need to do their jobs because they've all turned off their alerts, because they're all sick of getting a bunch of damn messages all the damn time.

Their proposed solution? Keep using the new system, just be sure you also send an email to the Automation staffer involved so they know to check their alerts.

This is the part of the show where security guards drag someone off the stage, kicking and screaming obscenities. Possibly me.

But there's good news today, too. Word is that the panic-monger has finally hired someone for one of the three openings in our department! The new person is supposed to start July 1, and I'm dying of curiosity. Will s/he be funny? Will s/he be smart?? Will s/he be cute??? Will s/he be playful???? Will s/he, in short, be Three-Martini Break Group material?????

Or ooh! Maybe it will be Jerry Springer!

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Sunday, June 03, 2007


I really need to start bringing my own camera when I go places. By the time I go back to add in pictures to this post, or by the time I get Corpus pictures to add in to my Corpus posts, no one will be reading them anymore.

Which is of course assuming anyone was reading them in the first place. Now where'd I put my crickets?

My uncle and aunt have been in Texas for about a week, touring. They went to Houston for a class reunion, then visited Corpus Christi, then San Antonio, and - saving the best for last, of course - arrived in Austin last night. They're heading back to Houston tomorrow to catch their plane home to Joisey.

We had a really nice visit. We went on a short walking tour of Travis Heights, to see the park and all the cool old houses, then spent the afternoon in the nice air-conditioned Capitol, where I was met with crushing disappointment. There's a Texas Travel Information center - that's a part of the agency I work for, you know - in the Capitol Visitors' Center, adjacent to the Capitol Building itself. It has a computer kiosk. With internet. I could post a quick blog. From an agency computer! Sweet!

Wouldn't you know, those bastards had blocked off everything except their own internal tourism site.

My uncle and aunt took us out to dinner at Kerbey Lane Cafe, and are now braving the gathering storm to go back to their hotel. It was a lovely visit, and they took lots of pictures.

Film at 11.

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This Is Getting Out of Hand

Excuse me? First Dave, and now this?! I don't remember agreeing to run an effing nature preserve out of my kitchen.


Good Things

During the move in February, I lost one of the earrings from my very favorite pair. I have no idea where it could have gone. I had hoped it would turn up when I was cleaning out the apartment, but it was just gone. I was sad. My very favorite pair.

This weekend I finally picked up the one remaining earring to toss it - I've left it sitting on top of my dresser all this time. And saw its mate, sitting on the dresser just a few inches away from it.

Inexplicably good thing!

Today I went to the Gay Pride parade with one of my most bestest friends. He's one of my favorite people ever. He's smart and funny and warm and kind and clever and always fascinating and fun to talk to. We had such a good time! And crossing the street to find a good vantage point for the parade, I spotted a penny wedged into a crack in the middle of 4th Street. And not only did I get the penny, but (1) it was heads-up, and (2) I didn't get run over, not even clipped, in the process of retrieving it.

Fabulously good things!

The parade was wonderful: just an overall good vibe, with lots of happy friendly cheering laughing people, and a minimum of catty remarks about the lesbians from my companions. Many of the paraders were tossing out candy and beads and toys and, um, hair gel. Or whatever. I stepped forward and caught a strand of beads one-handed with my left hand. And I am a complete klutz!!

Surprisingly good things.

And I got home and after a while it occurred to me to check, idly, once more, for a song I've wanted to download for a long time, but it hasn't been available on iTunes. And now it is!

Cheese-i-licious goodness!

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dwelling in Harmony with Nature

While I was at Robbie's earlier, he showed me a cute little religious tract some friendly neighborhood Jehovah's Witnesses had left on his door. You've seen these, right? The front is headed "Life in a Peaceful New World" and bears an idyllic scene of humans, mingling in interracial harmony in a beautiful natural setting. A mother and daughter are gathering berries and feeding some to a happy grizzly bear as a deer looks on. On the back of the pamphlet, a young couple with a toddler are petting a reclining lion. Everyone is smiling. I did note that, though there are black people and Hispanic people and white people all apparently living together in this ideal world, none of the couples are actually mixed-race. Or gay. But no matter: it's an earthly paradise!

I don't know how well some ecosystems would fare in God's New World, though:
The whole earth will eventually be brought to a gardenlike paradise state. The Bible says: "The wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. . . . For in the wilderness waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain. And the heat-parched ground will have become as a reedy pool, and the thirsty ground as springs of water." - Isaiah 35:1,6,7.

I suppose desert life can evolve to adapt to its new surroundings. Oh, wait...
In time, God's Kingdom will even restore the peaceful relations that existed in the garden of Eden between animals, and between animals and humans. The Bible says, "The wolf will actuallly reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them."-Isaiah 11:6-9; Hosea 2:18.

Lions love tofu! On the other hand, I note that Jehovah's Witnesses are apparently not vegetarians.
When you look at the scene on this tract, what feelings do you have? Does not your heart yearn for the peace, happiness, and properity seen there?

Whatever. I'm already dwelling in perfect harmony with nature.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Robbie's New Baby

Look out! She eats fingers.

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When you're at odds (who can say why?) with someone you care about, your whole universe is out of whack. Nothing seems quite right: food doesn't taste the way it should, colors aren't as bright, everything seems generally off-kilter.

And I have these dreams. I have dreams of reconciliation, where we talk, and cut easily through all the mess. By the end of the dream it turns out that everything that was wrong was just a misunderstanding. Everything is all straightened out now. There's this wonderful sense of connectedness, and happiness, and peace, and friendship, and love, and harmony.

Then you wake up and realize it was only a dream, and you feel so broken and sad. Was anything ever real at all?

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