Saturday, December 30, 2006

Procrastination

True procrastinators will read this tomorrow.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shadows

The door opened ominously slow. A figure stood there, as one would expect, his face unrecognizable from inside the darkened room. Backlit by the hall light, he cast a shadow over the room's only occupant -- a pink and bloated deformed man sleeping face-down on a hospital bed.

My final failure, the man in the doorway thought. My final attempt at godhood. The figure slid into the room and closed the door behind him.

Thank you. Thank you for showing me that the flaw was in the designer, not the design. I am an imperfect god who creates monsters in his own image. And you are the most grotesque creation yet. The figure in the shadows reached out his hand and caressed the shorn head of his abomination. The scalp was slick and damp. Sympathetic fingers traced the ridges under the skin where the bones of skull fused together and pushed upward like tiny mountain ranges. The shadowy man stood in silence, watching his sleeping creation.

With resolve, the shadow began his task. Using a pen light he searched the right arm of his creation. On the underside he located the valve that held like a dam against the reservoir of blood underneath the skin. Out of his pocket he pulled a syringe and placed it into the valve. You were never meant to be horrible. You, unlike all the others, were an empty canvas, healthy from the start. Instead of making you better, I made you into a monster. I hope you can forgive me for creating you. He pushed the plunger on the syringe down. And I hope you can forgive me for destroying you.

The sleeping man stirred. His bloodshot eyes slid open peered through the darkness. "Dad?" the abomination asked, hopeful and confused.

"No," the shadow figure said gently, "it's just me, Dr. Tyler. Go back to sleep, Brandon."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Intolerance as a Virtue

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.
--Voltaire

Intolerance is the new compassion, according to Dr. Whitehurst's The Intolerance of Christian Conservatives.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Benefits

He lingered in front of his apartment building, fidgeting, tucking and retucking his shirt into his slacks and scraping the dry mud off of his worn dress shoes. He watched for cabs and checked his watch, despite being five minutes early.

A limousine pulled up to the curb and a familiar face poked out of an opening window. “Get in,” Miranda called. Thomas looked around, as if trying to spot the hidden cameras showing a tv audience his antics set to zany music and a laugh track. The car door opened and he slowly slid inside.

Miranda wore a blue and black dress, and her skinny legs were exposed up to mid-thigh. Thomas wore a white wrinkled shirt, and his eyes were trying to look at anything but Miranda's skinny legs. “You look nice,” Miranda told Thomas with a genuine smile. Thomas mumbled the same. He finally made eye contact with the young woman. He smiled back and quickly looked away.

The limousine pulled to a stop, and its two passengers disembarked. While Miranda smoothed down her dress, Thomas furtively watched her hands slide down her middle and over her hips. When she turned to him, he looked up to the marquee. It was a large, white, empty sign with a small “restaurant” across the bottom.

Thomas looked at Miranda perplexed. “We're eating here?” Miranda confirmed. She began to walk toward the door of Blank, one of New City's chicest restaurants. It was renowned for its exclusivity and celebrity patrons, and Thomas felt more than a little intimidated. “But...,” Thomas began to say.

”Don't worry,” Miranda assured him, “I know the owner.”

Inside the restaurant, the maitre d'hotel grinned and pretended to listen to Miranda tell him that the two were there to see Mr. Sunder. “Everyone 'knows' Mr. Sunder. Do you have a reservation?”

”No, we actually do know Mr. Sunder. Alex. Alex Sunder.”

”Mmm hmm,” he said glancing over at Thomas. “I'm sorry, sir,” he said unapologetically, “we have a strict tie-and-jacket dress code.”

”It's not that strict, Jimmy,” came a voice from behind them. Alex stepped up to the host's podium. He had a suit that cost more than Thomas' monthly rent and all the confidence expected of a handsome, broad-shouldered, millionaire playboy. Thomas immediately resented Alex's good looks, but was impressed by his cavalier attitude toward the snooty maitre d'.

”Of course not, sir.” James, the maitre d', laughed insincerely. With a few flicks of his wrist, he attempted to shoo Miranda and Thomas away from the podium to make room for the VIP. “We have your table ready, Mr. Sunder.”

”Good. Can you show my two guest the way?”

James glanced at Miranda and Thomas, then gave Alex a look as if to ask Do you know these two? “I didn't know you were expecting any guests tonight, sir.”

Alex leaned in. “I guess you'd better set some extra places at the table then, Jim-bo.” James nodded and trotted off without a word.

Miranda hugged Alex, standing on her toes to reach around his neck. Thomas again resented the handsome man, while he stole a glance at the young woman's backside. Beaming, Miranda introduced Thomas. Although they met eye-to-eye, Thomas felt dwarfed by Alex's presence and firm handshake. Alex smiled knowingly at him, and Thomas nodded shyly. Miranda began explaining to Thomas that Alex owned this restaurant, and several other businesses in New City, and was, in fact, one of the richest men in the city. Alex feigned embarrassment. Thomas nodded and was impressed. James promptly returned and apologized for the wait.

After the three had settled into their table in a quiet corner of the room, and Alex had decided on a bottle of wine, he leaned in and looked intently at Thomas. “So, Miranda tells me you have a certain talent.”

Thomas looked at the young woman and saw her grinning and staring back at him. He averted his eyes. This young woman, as so many other women did, intimidated him. “It's alright. He's a superhero, too,” she whispered.

Thomas looked back and forth between the two. Miranda smiled encouragingly. Alex nodded his head. Thomas chuckled. I know she found out about my ability, but she doesn't – they don't – actually think I'm a superhero. They don't actually think they are superheroes. Do they? Thomas saw sincere looks on their faces. His chuckle died. They were expectant, waiting for him to say something. “Is this a joke?” he mumbled.

Alex explained, “The term 'superhero' has some silly connotations to it, I know, and finding a regular 'hero' is difficult enough in this day and age – in this city – let alone a 'super' one. But that is what we are. We are people with extraordinary power, extraordinary drive, extraordinary desire to do what's right. We right wrongs. We protect the innocent. We vanquish evil. The only way to describe what are is “superheroes.” Thomas blinked several times in silence. “I prefer the term 'crime fighter,' though” Alex added.

The waiter came, poured some wine, and took their orders. I'm not sure what's wrong with these people. They don't look crazy, but ... When the waiter had left, Thomas asked, “So, are you guys, like, in a cult?”

”I know it sounds crazy,” Miranda began. Thomas agreed. “But we're for real. We stop criminals and save lives.”

”And if you can do what Miranda says you can do, we want you to join us.”

”You want me?” Thomas pointed to himself. The two nodded. “To join your team of superheroes?” Thomas pointed to Alex and Miranda. The two nodded. This is the weirdest thing to happen to me in long time. Well, I've gone this far; I might as well keep going down the rabbit hole until I find out what these crazies are up to. Thomas glanced at Miranda. I can't believe I'm doing this just for a pretty girl. “So, a superhero, huh?” Thomas took a swig from his wine glass. "What sort of benefits package is there?”

Monday, December 18, 2006

Presents

The punishment for buying people cool Christmas gifts is having to wrap them.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Super

“You fix, uh ... ruhm ruhm noisy-maker in sink already?” the old woman asked as she entered the kitchen.

Thomas was packing up, throwing a few wrenches haphazardly into his tool bag. He looked up. “Yes, Mrs. Kretiskshenev,” he mumbled, never knowing how to properly pronounce the old woman's name. “It was just something jamming up the garbage disposal.” He picked up a small scrap of scratched metal covered with decomposing food.

The hunched, slow-moving woman immediately recognized the metal wad. Her eyes lit up and she let out a long gasp that lasted the entire time it took her to ramble across the linoleum kitchen floor. “Ah!” she said, followed by an indecipherable exclamation in some eastern European language. She took the small piece of metal from Thomas' hand and told him, “This is my wedding ring! Oh, I thought was lost. But now is ....” Not finding the word in English, she completed her sentence with something that might have meant either “broken” or “shit,” or possibly both. The old woman looked down and saw the look of apology on Thomas' face. “Oh, is no problem,” she reassured him. “My husband won't now care; he is dead long time.”

Thomas stood up and grabbed his tool bag. “You leave already?” the woman asked. Thomas nodded. As he made his way through the small apartment to the front door, the widow, following him as fast she could, called after him, “I think box on wall still broken. You stay and fix?”

Thomas stopped and turned, giving the old woman a chance to catch up to him. “Like I said last time: The thermostat isn't broken, it's just in Fahrenheit,” he explained calmly.

Mrs. Kretiskshenev ignored his response and tried another tactic. “You rest. You sit on couch, watch teevee 'while; I make you sandwich. You like cookies?” Thomas started to shake his head. “You please stay, eat sandwich?” the widow pleaded.

Thomas nearly explained to her that he had more work to do elsewhere in the building – the pipes in the basement, the stairway rails on the fifth floor again, Mr. and Mrs. Chen's door jamb – but he knew that once he left her apartment, he'd most likely go to his own on the first floor and flip through some old magazines or peruse the internet. I guess I can stay for a while. I'll at least get free food out of the deal. Thomas told the woman that he would stay. She excitedly made her way to the kitchen to make him a meal.

Thomas had just gotten comfortable on Mrs. Kretiskshenev's couch when his mobile phone began to sing “The Touch” by Stan Bush. He pulled his phone from his pocket, noticed it was a strange number, and answered with a, “Yup?”

“Thomas, hey, it's me, Miranda.” came the bubbly voice over the phone. He knew who it was before she said her name.

Thomas had thought about the skinny young woman many times since she had asked for his number last week. “Our kind has to stick together,” she had said. Thomas found her smile irresistible and obeyed her request as if hypnotized. “I'm going to tell Alex about you, if that's alright.” Thomas had had no idea who she was talking about. “He's a superhero, too. He's kinda like my mentor.”

What did she say? he had thought. That's the second time she's mentioned superpowers and superheroes. Great, I just gave my phone number to a crazy girl.

“It was nice meeting you Thomas,” she had said as she turned to walk away. She took a few steps, then turned her head smiling. “I'll call you.”

At that moment Thomas had wished that he hadn't given his phone number to the crazy girl. But as time passed, his memory of how crazy she might have been faded, and her image came into sharp focus. He remembered her wide smile and the barely perceptible fragrance she wore. He recalled her long brown hair tucked behind her ears and the soft skin of her left hand. He reminisced, only once inappropriately in the shower, about the curve of her back and the slight jut of her breasts underneath her shirt.

Thomas soon wanted the crazy girl to call him. The last time a girl had called him had been in the tenth grade when his best friend's little sister called to ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance. He had respectfully declined, not knowing the boundaries of best-friendship in regards to taking little sisters out on dates. When the weekend passed, and a couple of weekdays, too, Thomas soon feared that the only calls he would ever receive would be from complaining tenants.

“Uh, hey,” he mumbled eloquently. “I didn't think you would call.”

Miranda laughed. “Why not? I said I would.”

“You talking to me?” came Mrs. Kretiskshenev's voice from the kitchen. Thomas heard the sound of cabinets opening and closing.

“No,” he called back. “I'm just on my cell phone.”

“Was that your grandma?” Miranda's mid-western accent wafted through the phone while Mrs. Kretiskshenev's voice banged and knocked about in the kitchen.

“You like braunschweiger?

“Yeah, sure, Mrs. K,” Thomas yelled back to the kitchen. “No,” he said into the phone, “that's just one of my tenants.”

“Tenants?”

“Yeah, I'm a super at the Uptown Apartments, down the block from where we met.”

“Oh cool.”

Why does this chick want to know so much about me? Is she up to something, or is she genuinely interested in me? “So why'd you call?” he asked awkwardly, originally hoping to avoid an awkward silence.

“Well, what are you doing for dinner tonight.”

She's not asking me on a date. Is she? Thomas was confused and elated. “No big plans.”

“How'd you like to go to dinner with us?”

Us? he thought. “Us?” he said.

“Yeah, I told Alex about you, and he really wants to meet you.”

“Oh,” Thomas said, more than a little disappointed.

“So, can I pick you up at your building at 8:00?”

“Sure.”

“Wear something nice. I'll see you then. Bye!”

“Bye.”

Thomas shoved the phone back into his pocket. Mrs. Kretiskshenev walked out of the kitchen with a plate of food. “Who you talk to on phone?”

“Oh, just someone I met the other day,” Thomas said as he graciously took the plate from the old widow.

“Was it woman on phone?” she asked.

“Actually, it was.” Thomas said while inspecting his sandwich.

Mrs. Kretiskshenev smiled. “I could tell by confused look on face..”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Craigslist

I want to be like Craigslist.com when I grow up.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Men on Women

Women should be obscene and not heard.
--Groucho Marx

Direct thought is not an attribute of feminity. In this, women are now centuries behind man.
--Thomas Edison

Finding the least crazy chick is like looking for a needle in a stack of needles.
--Jaysix Usaustin, roommate

If women didn't exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.
--Aristotle Onassis

Despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, I have not yet been able to answer the great question that has never been answered: What does a woman want?
--Sigmund Freud

No matter how perfect a girl seems, some guy, somewhere is tired of putting up with her shit.
--Neil, friend

What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce.
--Mark Twain

Friday, December 08, 2006

Gender as Genetic

While talking with my coworker about family and genealogy, she uttered the phrase "boys run in the family" in reference to her fiance's dad and uncles having sons almost exclusively. I laughed at her at first, thinking her assertion that sex is genetic was ludicrous.

But as I thought about it more, I wondered, is one's sex genetic? I know that sex is determined from the male's sperm, without any input from the female's egg. But is the tendency to manufacture more male-producing sperm a genetic trait? Or are my coworkers soon-to-be in-laws just a statistical anomaly?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Patient

Maria opened the door and tentatively peered into the darkened room. She stepped inside and flipped on the lights.

"Who the hell are you?" came an angry voice from the corner.

The nurse jumped and squealed just a little. "I'm Maria, your new attendant," she said more like a question than a fact.

Brandon emerged from the corner and approached the young woman. She took a step back. Brandon hated the look of fear and revulsion on her face. "What happened to Marta?" Brandon sat on his bed, the sheets moist and pink.

"She said she was tired of you making her cry," Maria said with sudden courage.

Brandon had tears of his own. Small red rivulets streamed down his face, drying before they fell from his bloated, disfigured face. He tried to feel remorse for his mistreatment of Marta, but the pain in his head was selfish. It refused to allow any thoughts outside of his own suffering. "I'm glad I finally got rid of that old bag."

The two were silent. Brandon looked at Maria's horrified face. Maria looked at Brandon's disgusting, misshapen figure. His skin was bright pink. His body resembled a swollen water balloon with horns.

It had been more than six months since Brandon had come to the hospital a perpetually bloody mess. In all that time doctors had been unable to diagnose his problem, or even come up with a way to explain how it was possible.

They started draining his blood regularly and gave him Vicodin for the pain. Then what the doctors called "tumorous nodes" appeared on his some of his bones, and indeed his whole skeleton began to swell and harden. The doctors briefly considered removing these nodes, but they proved to be too widespread and numerous. His ribs and the bones in his skull fused together. Nodes on his vertebrae, fingers and toes, and jaw began to push through his epidermal layer.

One doctor found a few cases similar to Brandon's, but they had all been documented in infants exposed to the radiation from the meltdown in Chernobyl. Brandon was examined, and traces of irradiated particles were found in his body, but no one could provide an explanation as to how they had gotten there.

Brandon's skeletal system was, as one doctor explained it to him, "freaking out." It was growing unchecked and producing overabundant amounts of red blood cells. Nodes had appeared on every major bone. He had bones protruding from his shoulders, back, forearms, pelvis, and shins. Some were nearly a foot long. Most of the protuberances were long, curved, horn-like structures ending in dull points. Others, such as the one that sprouted off of the ulna of his right arm, spiraled like a corkscrew. Needless to say, sitting or laying in any position was very uncomfortable.

Brandon agreed to stay at the hospital, so the doctors could continue to monitor him, and so the red cross could use him as a blood fountain. Unfortunately for the doctors, six months passed and they still had no clue how to treat him. Unfortunately for the Red Cross, Brandon's blood type was AB+. Unfortunately for Brandon, he'd become a disfigured monstrocity with "nodes" poking out of his body like horns and blood running out of every orafice.

Brandon had come to realize that he was never going to be cured, to be normal again. He would be bloody and spikey until he died. All he had to do was wait until death came. Unfortunately, Brandon's disease wasn't as terminal as he would have liked. Every day his irritability and impatience grew with his pain.

"So, are you gonna take my blood, or just stare at me like a freak show?"

"Sorry, Mr. Collins." Maria attached Brandon to the the "vampire machine" that relieved his body of his extra blood through holes in his arm.

"Where's my dope?" Brandon asked. Brandon was on a cocktail of pain medications, most of which he didn't care to pronounce, that he referred to as his "dope."

"Huh?"

"My dope. My meds!" Brandon said tersely. Maria checked his chart and noted that he had already received his full dosage for the day. "Then why does my head hurt so fucking much?" Maria chose not to respond and thus avoid an arguement, something the previous attendant had never mastered. "Why don't you go and tell those fucking doctors that if they want to 'first, do no harm' then they should give me more fucking pills." Again, Maria did not respond, but checked the vampire machine's various readouts. "The silent treatment, huh? Well, it's more effective than any other treatment the doctors have tried." Maria checked Brandon's charts again, flipping through the pages in silence.

Brandon, just trying to get a reaction from the attendant, said, "Well, at least you're prettier than the last two attendants," and then immediately realized that it was true. "That's not saying much, though, seeing as the first one looked like a rhino with orthopedic shoes, and Marta had apparently been a nurse since the Civil War era." Maria gave him a sideways, disdainful glance, then went back to reading from the clipboard.

The two were silent again for several minutes. Despite his permanant erection, the pain in Brandon's head prevented any thoughts of sex to enter -- no small feat, most fellow males would note. Brandon noticed just how attractive Maria was as she stood next to his bed ignoring him. Beside his two previous attendants, his mother, and one "dyke doctor," as he had called the M.D. who had taken him off of morphine, he had not been in contact with any females for over half a year. Now here was a perfectly lovely woman alone in a room with him, and he couldn't even disregard his pain and concentrate long enough to find her attractive.

Suddenly, Brandon chuckled softly. Maria looked up but didn't ask him what was funny. He said anyway, "Six months ago I would have asked a pretty girl like you for her phone number. Now all I want to ask you for is pain pills."

Maria rolled her eyes and went back to ignoring her patient. Brandon went back to his pain, constant and reassuring.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Uncommon Courtesy

If you're going to be stupid, at least have the courtesy to be polite.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ass Crack Forget-Me-Nots

I found one of your hairs in my underwear,
a long tickling reminder of you.

It had been weeks since I’d seen you;
I don’t know how it wiggled its way into my underwear
or how it became lodged in my ass crack.
But, like my other thoughts of you,
it cropped up in the oddest place.
I eat a brownie and I remember 
our fudge and white chocolate wonders.
I see a broken refrigerator and I am reminded 
of roaming the streets between our apartments.

I realize that this is not the most romantic way
to say that I'm thinking of you.
I wish I could say that I'm looking at the moon
and wondering what it sees when it looks down on you.
I'm not.

That happens in movies, we know.
In real life, though, moons don't see us,
or they pretend not to care.
But something more mystical happens.
We find pieces of each other hiding
in the deepest recesses of ourselves,
and we smile.

I can't say that I will think of you always.
But what I can say is real.
I found your hair in my ass crack.
And I love you.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Waiting for Inspiration

If you haven't been reading Divine Intermission, you should start. It's a serial fiction, updated twice a week, about an eternally (quite literally) depressed man named Carl and how he fits into the universe. Luciano's Douglas-Adams-meets-Chuck-Palahniuk literary style is both disgusting and humorous. And just the hope of finding out what the hell is wrong with Carl keeps me coming back for more. I highly recommend keeping an eye on this story.

I, too have been writing a serial fiction, Superhero. Though, instead of updating regularly, I have been pretensiously "waiting for inspiration" to write each new part. That is why it has taken me over a year and a half to write as many parts as Luciano has written in a month.

If I ever want to realize my dream of being a professional fictioner, I think it will take more than random inspiration. I think I need to learn to write consistently and more often. So, I am putting forth this public challenge to myself, in hopes that my readership (all two of you) will hold me accountable. I am going to update my serial fiction every Thursday until it is finished. I hope that if I don't stay true to this promise, that I will receive at least a few pestering emails. Will you help me?

Friday, December 01, 2006

There's No Vaccine for Stupid

Fortunately, there is a vaccine for HPV, a relatively obscure STI that causes cervical cancer (as well as other types of cancers).

There are many people that would say this is a good thing. "Yeah! Down with cancer!"

Then there is the religious right. They're siding with cancer.

My first question: What young woman was refraining from sex purely because of a disease that no one knows about and that can't be protected against with condoms? Is there a horde of little baby-making teenagers out there that are busting down the doors of Planned Parenthoods across the nation to get their hands on this vaccine so they can finally start having sex? Because if so, what are their names and where do they hang out?

My second question: Why is getting an STI and contracting cancer more acceptable than getting laid and contracting intimiacy? God forbid you experience pleasure. (No, literally. Christian nutjobs believe God forbids feeling good!)

I can't wait until it's found that abstinance causes cancer.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Eerie

Pancake Wrangler has made a startling discovery.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bigger than Nigger

"Why can a black guy call another black guy nigger, and a white guy can't?" Kevin asked.

"Why are you asking me?"

Kevin stared at Andy. "You're black. I figured you'd know."

"You're an idiot," Andy replied with a chuckle. "And black people call each other 'niggas.' Only racist white guys call black people 'niggers.'"

"That's a cop-out. You and I both know it doesn't matter how you say it; what matters is who says it. Or more specifcally, the skin color of who says it."

"You think it should be okay for white dudes to go around calling people 'nigger?'

"In a way, yes."

A little perturbed Andy asked, "What if people called you 'cracker' or 'white trash' all the time, just because you are white?"

Kevin shrugged. "I suppose I wouldn't like that."

"Now add hundreds of years of history to 'cracker,' a history of oppression, racism, and violence. Then white people would know what it's like being discriminated against just because they're white."

Keving thought for a moment, then asked, "What if they don't hate niggers because they're black. What if they hate niggers because they're niggers?"

"What?" Andy exclaimed.

"What if people say 'nigger' in reference to someone being poor, racist, uneducated, and, purely coincidently, black?"

"You're proposing that 'nigger' is a derogetory word for someone's socio-economic status? Then why aren't poor, racist, uneducated white people called 'niggers?'

"Why aren't mean women called 'dickheads?' Why aren't gay men called 'dykes?' It just doesn't makes sense.

"What are you getting at?"

"While I agree that calling a black person 'nigger' is not nice or racially sensitive, I don't think it means that you're a racist." Andy looked like he was about to say something, but Kevin continued, "So why is it that any time someone even mumbles 'nigger' Rev. Jessy Jackson busts through the wall like the Kool-Aid man and the ACLU goes into DEFCON 2?"

"'Nigger' is bigger than just the word itself. It's more than just an insult. Whether the white speaker means it or not, the black hearer is going to interpret it with the connotation of racism."

Kevin thought for a moment. "So, if there was another word -- say, uh, 'dontoid' -- that meant 'poor, uneducated, racist, and black,' and 'dontoid' didn't have any of the history or connotation that 'nigger' has, would it be alright to say it -- as alright as saying any other derrogetory statement, that is?"

"Not if the person saying 'dontoid' is white."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm Thankful for Josh

While spending Thanksgiving with The Magster's family, her dad called me "Josh."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No Child Left in Front, Either

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
--Albert Einstein

Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. This is the most important lesson of all, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives.
--John Taylor, Gatto, "The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher"

As if there was a War on Education (Shhhh! Don't tell the sensationalist news media know I said that, or they will seriously run that as a headline for the next nine months!) the recent motto of public education has been "no child left behind," reminiscent of the army creed "never leave a man behind." This is a noble thought to be sure. Everyone gets the same education. Everyone has the same opportunities. Everyone is on the same playing field. Everyone waits in line for bread. Wait! This isn't communist Russia!

What's so wrong with leaving a child behind? If a kid is very bad at math, can't stand it, doesn't like it, then why make him take pre-calculus? Really, what would be the harm? (Side note: Any teacher that answered me with a straight face when I asked them "When will I ever use this in the real world?" was a fucking liar. I have never had to know that Nero was an emperor of Rome or that the sun is a condensed ball of hydrogen and helium. The last time I had to use plane geometry was when I was tutoring the other kids in my plane geometry class because the teacher was too stupid to adequately explain the material.) I'm not saying don't make him learn anything, but if he doesn't like math, but is good at science, why not let him take an extra time doing science instead?

When you have to learn, it sucks. When you want to learn, it's awesome. If the kid doesn't like math, but realizes that it's going to be hard to learn chemistry without it, he'll learn what math he needs to in order to figure chemistry out.

I suppose the question could arise, "What if the kid doesn't want to learn anything?" It's been my experience that this phenomenon starts around later middle-school, early-highschool, when young adults should be old enough to make their own decisions about their education. If they don't want to learn, they can sit in the retard class and color for all I care. If they want to waste their young supple brains on learning nothing, who am I to stop them? I'm guessing, though, that if a child grows up loving to learn, instead of hating it as with the current system, they will continue to want to

I guess the point I'm trying to make is this: Stop focusing on the kids left behind. Teach them as best you can, but don't slow down the rest of the class for them. Focus on the kids yearning to be unbridled in the front; encourage them to excel. Their excellence will more than make up for the deficiencies of the children left behind.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Copyright

Making a profit off an idea indefinitely was not among those certain unalienable rights mention in the Declaration of Independence. And corporations such as record companies and movie studios were never granted such rights anyway.

The copyright system, as I understand it, was originally developed to encourage creativity. If a person created a work, the government granted them the exclusive rights to make copies of that work. They got recognition for their effort, and a chance to make some money off of it before it fell into public domain. I think the thought process here was that once a person was compensated and recognized for their work, they would continue to enrich society with more of their particular talent. And furthermore, once in public domain, their work would act as a springboard, inspiring other potential creators.

When it was first enacted two centuries ago, a creator was granted a forteen year duration on his/her copyright. If the creator was still alive at the end of that time, he/she could apply for another forteen year extension. Fast forward to the present, when a copyrights are bought and sold like stocks and extend for seventy years after the death of the creator.

How is that encouraging creativity? I realize that times have changed in the past two hundred years. Copyright law has had to change in order to accomodate new media (i.e. sound recordings and now digital content). But how is it beneficial to a creator or the rest of society when a person (or more likely, a corporation) holds the copyright to a piece of work that they had no part in creating. By extending a copyright and keeping a work out of public domain, it is limiting public access to a work, and also expansion upon the work.

Limiting people's creativity and withholding genius from society just so someone or something can make a buck off of someone else's effort does not seem what copyright laws were originally intended for.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beware the Dangers of DHMO!

DHMO.org cracked my shit up!

My favorite bit is "DHMO contributes to global warming and the 'Greenhouse Effect', and is one of the so-called 'greenhouse gasses.'"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Final Battle

In the final battle at Armeggedon, God will vanquish Satan. Everyone knows this, from the good little Christians to the big bad Devil himself. God told us this through His Holy Words in Revelations, right? So, why does Satan continue to oppose God, if he knows he's eventually going to lose?

I suppose the argument that I grew up believing was that Satan doesn't think he will lose. The Devil actually believes he has a chance of coming out on top in the end, but the Great Deceiver is only deceiving himself. I suppose that's sound enough reasoning, but to me it doesn't jibe.

Satan already lost to God's forces once -- God didn't even deign to fight the Devil. He sent His lacky, Michael the Archangel, to dispense of the nuisance. And it has to be assumed that Satan has access to all the reading material that humans do; he should know just how powerful God really is. Heck, Satan's job before the fall of the angels was the chief angel among the choir that sang God's praises. Satan should know his chances of winning against The Supreme Being are slim to none. And he still thinks he's going to win?

Maybe the outcome isn't as definite as prophecies of the End Times would have us believe. Maybe Satan does have a shot at bringing down the Creator. It would make sense that The Bible would be so resolute in its predictions, though. It's basically just war-time propaganda. What leader would tell his soldiers that there is a chance of them losing the war? Even George W. Bush isn't that dumb.

Maybe, though, Satan does know that he will lose. Maybe that's the point. Just as God's gift to humanity was free will, Satan's gift was giving meaning to that free will. What's the benifit of choosing eternal life if there is no damnation? What's the point of choosing Good if there is no Evil?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Secret Name of God

Wouldn't it be disappointing if Kabbalists actually found out the secret name of God, and it turned out to be "Randy" or "Nate" or some other plain name?

Maybe the reason God keeps his name secret in the first place is because it's embarassing, like "Milton" or "Eustace" or "Moonbeam." That would explain why God only goes by nicknames, like "I am" or "Alpha and omega."

I think well enough should be left alone. I, for one, would have a hard time respecting a God named Rod.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Game Shows

My roommate, Justin, opined about gameshows:

"The problem with most game shows is that they alienate almost everybody in this country by catering to smart people."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Technically...

After a two week paid vacation, I finally started my new job.

So here's the deal with my job. I work for a department of the federal government. Technically, I just work at a federal government department's building, but I work for a subcontractor hired to do network security for a department of the federal government. Actually, technically, I do technical writing for a subcontractor hired to do network security for a department of the federal government, but I work for (and get paid by) a subcontractor hired to fill the position of technical writer by the subcontractor hired to do network security for a department of the federal government. Simple, huh?

There was another person hired to the same position who started today also. And boy, am I glad for that! Today my supervisor gave us a handful (and inbox-full) of specifications and examples of previous manuals and told us to look at those and plan out a template for new ones. Then he left us alone to contemplate this and wonder if we were indeed in way over our heads. We spent most of the day alternately staring at our screens or staring at each other in disbelief. These upward-of-two-hundred-page documents (of which there were several) read like a Faulkner novel with arbitrary letters, computer code, and random technical jargon sprinkled in. I felt as confused and helpless as Dan Quayle in a spelling bee.

Luckily, my coworker had previously been in a technical writing position. She pointed out some commonalities in the specs and the example manuals, and noted that including those seemed a good place to start. By the end of the day, we had begun to construct an outline of our template.

From what it looks like, there will be no shortage of work during this next year as a tech writer. I'll keep everyone updated.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Too Much Better

Miranda stepped onto the plane. Gripping her cane in one hand and her carry-on in the other, she shuffled down the aisle. She stopped at her row and checked her boarding pass. A window seat next to an old man; I can live with that.

She let go of her orthopedic cane and reached up to the overhead compartment. She was barely tall enough to reach the latch. The older gentleman sitting next to her seat looked up. He saw a young woman with cane and back brace struggling with her luggage and offered her help. "Thank you. That would be nice," she replied sincerely and politely.

The man took Miranda's bag and was surprise at its weight. He nearly dropped it and grunted just a little. "That's an awfully heavy bag for such a little girl." Miranda smiled shyly. She shuffled past him and took her seat while he pushed her bag into the overhead compartment.

She gazed out the window. She could see her mother still standing in the terminal. Their eyes connected, and they both waived simultaneously.

After a few minutes, the plane began to pull away from the terminal, and Miranda's mother could no longer see her. Miranda looked around the plane, or what she could see from her seat.

"Nervous?" the older man asked. Miranda nodded and shifted in her seat. "First time on a plane?" Miranda nodded again, but that wasn't why she was nervous.

She knew it was impossible. There was no one on this plane that could possibly know her. Nevertheless, she felt that someone was watching her; something she had felt for years now, ever since she had been cured. She had attributed it to a guilty conscience. It was a warning to always be on guard, to never let her secret slip.

But why? she had thought innumerable times. Why can't I just tell everyone? Why can't I tell everyone I love? Will they love me when they find out I'm a fake? That I'm a freak? Miranda's lie had been painful to bear, literally. Her back and neck eternally ached from pretending to grow weaker when exactly the opposite was occurring. She reached behind her back and undid the clasps on her brace. She sat up straight and stretched. The man next to her eyed her, but she ignored him.

At first she had thought it was her imagination. No one gets better from muscular dystrophy; doctors can only slow its steady deterioration of the muscles. But then when she could get out of bed by herself and climb in and out of the car in mere seconds, she knew something had changed.

When her mother started to notice Miranda's improvement, that's when the young girl panicked. Getting better was not possible, especially not with what had happened, with what she had let happen, with what she had done. But it got harder and harder to pretend not to be able to get dressed and climb stairs. Several times caught herself doing things she shouldn't be able to. She would look over her shoulder, and if someone was watching, she would fall down with a yelp or slink to her knees with a whimper. But despite her best efforts, people began to notice that the young girl was improving. Miranda told people that the equine therapy must be working, and that seemed to satisfy amazed and elated questions about her improving health.

Then Miranda began to realize that she was getting too much better. In the privacy of her room she realized that she could do things she didn't think should be possible for her stature. She found she could lift a jam-packed backpack with one hand without straining. She discovered she could lift a mattress and box spring completely off her bed. She realized she could have lifted her entire dresser full of clothes, if it hadn't been so unwieldy. If people could been able to get over the shock of telling them that she had lied to them, that she was cured, would they be able to cope with this unnatural strength? She decided never to find out. Miranda had stopped testing her strength years ago. She hid it away and hoped for a day when she could stop pretending and be herself, if such a day could ever come.

Now she was heading off to New City University, a place thousands of miles away from anyone that new her in her small town. A new beginning. Miranda felt a pressure lifted off her back. She didn't have to pretend anymore.

The plane jerked as it touched down. It taxied around to the New City Airport and prepared to unload. As Miranda stood up, her neighbor offered to get her bag down for her. "No thanks, I got it," she told him. She stood on her toes and pulled the latch on the overhead compartment. With ease she pulled the heavy bag down. The man was astounded.

She began to walk toward the exit when the old gentleman called to her, "Miss, you forgot your cane and your brace!"

She turned and smiled. She took the cane and tucked it under her arm, the grabbed the brace. "Thanks," she told him. "I probably better keep these. Just in case." She smiled and winked at him before turning and striding away. The old man looked on after her, a little miffed.

As Miranda stepped off the plane she felt that feeling again, as if someone was watching her. No, she shook her head, I'm not looking over my shoulder anymore. She smiled and continued on.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

00011001

as this arm was moved
indrectly by voltage,
so was this tree moved.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Christian vs. Nazi: Who Hates More?

This recent post by The Magster reminded me of this webpage I ran into a while ago. It's an interesting comparison, and just a little apalling to say the least.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

00011000

Nameless grips the tree.
it moves under his control,
toppling to the ground.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

00010111

what moves this joint but
a gear, moved by motor,
moved by a current?

Friday, October 27, 2006

00010110

what separates us,
control? this joint bends to my
will, but not this tree.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Week Off

A couple days ago, I got another call about my job saying that I most likely won't start until next Monday. Luckily, I'm getting compensated for this down-time, so I really am getting a vacation!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

00010101

am i this metal?
or am i also this tree
and the ground beneath?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

What My Mom Heard

While visiting my parents, I was on the phone with my girlfriend, the Magster. My mom, TunaHell, heard the following part of the conversation:

Mr. McB: Hey, I'm going to come up and see you tomorrow.

...

Mr. McB: Do you have any whip cream?

TunaHell: I don't want to hear the rest of this conversation!

The missing part of the conversation was the Magster telling me that she just bought a pumpkin pie that she would share with me.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Secrets

“Tell me a secret,” Miranda said to Derek. With the town in the distance behind them, the stars replaced the streetlight glow. The pair lay between two blankets on the hood of a car. Their faces poked out from beneath the covers, gazing up at the evening sky. The chill night air slithered in under the covers and swirled around their heads, whispering, convincing the two to inch closer to each other for warmth.

“A secret?”

Miranda turned to look at Derek’s face. Her back brace limited her movement, but she craned her neck enough to see the stars reflecting in his eyes. “Yeah, a secret that no one else knows.”

Still so young and nervous, Derek could not look at her. The young woman’s proximity excited and scared him. He breathed heavily and tried hard to look calmly up at the giggling stars. “I don’t think I have a secret.”

“Everyone has a secret.”

“Well, you go first.”

Miranda looked back up at the stars. She knew the secret she wanted to tell. She had wanted to tell it for a year. But it kept burrowing itself deeper inside her. Sometimes it ached hot and swollen. Other times it dwindled to a nagging itch, but it was always there, ever present and uncomfortable. “My secret is…” Miranda faltered. It wouldn’t come out. Something similar and related poured out instead.

“I used to have this doctor. He came up with this new procedure. He said he could cure me; he had some new treatment.” Miranda shifted again, to move the uncomfortable back brace and to move closer to Derek. “After he started his new therapy, he asked me if he could … touch me.” Derek looked sideways at her. Miranda’s gaze was fixed fast on the sky. “First, it was just on the thigh, under the gown. I was nervous, but he said it was all right. He said he was doing me a favor by curing me, so I should do him a favor.” Derek turned completely toward her. “Then he would touch me … my chest. I’m not that … developed … or anything.” She stopped. Her tongue seemed to swell in the back of her throat.

Derek asked, “What did you do?”

“I let him.” Miranda breathed deep and sighed. “I thought he was right. I mean, he was saving my life, the least I could do was…”

“But…”

“I know. I know it now; that he was just taking advantage of me. But at the time, I thought I owed it to him.”

“So, you never told anyone?”

“Well, no, but my mom did find out. She walked in one time when he was touching me down, between my legs. He was arrested, got out on bail, but then he disappeared.”

Both teens sat in uncomfortable silence. Why did I do that? Miranda thought. I finally find a guy interested in me despite that stupid cane and this stupid back brace, and what do I do? I talk about being molested on our first date. I’m so stupid. She sighed. She was about to slide off the hood.

“When my mom died.” Derek cleared his throat. “I didn’t cry.”

Miranda became still. “But I remember going to the funeral. I thought saw you cry there.”

“Well, I guess technically I cried. But I only did it because I thought people wanted me to. It was fake.”

Miranda didn’t know what to say.

“I just never felt like crying. People thought there was something wrong with me. They said, ‘It’s all right to cry. Cry and let it all out.’ But there was nothing to let out. I never could cry. Not really. So, I started pretending to cry. To make people feel better.”

“Why couldn’t you cry?”

“I don’t know. I mean, I love my mom, loved her. And since then, I’ve cried when I missed her. But at the time, it just felt right that she was gone. I mean, she was so weak from the chemo, and in so much pain, but she still smiled. I think she was ready to die, and I think I was ready, too. I didn’t really feel sad. I felt relieved. But I didn’t think anyone would understand that, especially not from a ten-year-old. So, I pretended to cry.”

Silence again. It was a long comfortable silence, this time. The silence that binds hearts together and salves wounds. The moment slid by like honey. Miranda began to giggle. Derek looked at her, her face inches from his. “Fuck it,” she said. He was startled, careless cursing was uncharacteristic of the petite young woman. “Can I tell you another secret?” she said, relieved already, though she hadn’t yet confessed.

“Sure.”

“That doctor. He actually did cure me.”

“What do you mean?”

Miranda laughed again. “It’s all an act. The cane, the back brace, the weakness, it’s all pretend. I’ve been cured for almost a year now.”

Derek thought back. Ever since grade school, Miranda had worn a back brace. She had, and still, walked around slowly and with a cane. Was this a joke? Was she trying to lighten the mood? Miranda saw the confusion on his face. She sat up, straight up and fast. She wasn’t hunched over.

Derek thought about tonight, how he’d helped her into and out of the passenger side of his old red Dodge Spirit. He remembered how he’d had to pick her up and place her on top of the blanket on the still-warm hood.

He seemed unconvinced. Miranda slid off the hood of the car gracefully and stood before him. She spun in a circle and threw her hands in the air. She was laughing. She began to hop around, gleefully. Then she stopped and stared at Derek. “I’m cured. I’m not…” She started laughing again. She laughed so hard she fell onto the hood of the car.

Her laughter was contagious. Derek chuckled out of confusion. “But how?”

“He cured me. Doctor Kammerich cured me!”

“But why do you pretend not to be cured?”

Miranda’s laughter trailed off. Her smile faded when she said, “After I let him do something so evil to me, he didn’t deserve to do something good.” She looked up at Derek. His face was sad and concerned. She stood up. “You can’t tell anyone, OK?” He nodded affirmation. Then Miranda reached up, undid the fasteners on her back brace, and let it fall to the ground. She felt naked there in front of him. He looked at her, amazed, as if she was. She smiled back at him.

Derek stood up and brushed some stray hair out of Miranda’s face. She looked up into his eyes, took his face in her hands, stood on her toes, and kissed him. He touched the small of her back gently, and she shivered to feel warmth instead of cold metal.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Vacation

I didn't go to my old job today (because I quit yesterday), and I just got an email from my new job saying that some of my paperwork hasn't gone through yet. So, I won't be able to start working until Tuesday (or maybe even Wednesday). This has become a mini-vacation weekend for me! I love not working.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

00010100

Nameless wanders through
a wood.  is all this green and
brown a part of me?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Take This Job and Lightly Push It Out of the Way

I put my termination of employment notice in at work today. My boss wasn't smug as I had hoped she would be. I was kind of disappointed; she was actually pleasant. That made it much harder to continue disliking her.

So, as of tomorrow I will no longer be employed (until I start my new job on Monday). Tomorrow is going to be a long day.

My new job is as a technical writer. I'll be creating 300-page manuals and procedural guides for the network security department. As lame as that kind of sounds, it will surely be infinitely more interesting that what I do now: work in the accounting office of an insurance company and fill out forms. I will have the opportunity to think and create instead of spending my days repeating and regurgitating. Plus, the pay is better and the benefits are awesome.

Another advantage is that I won't have to drive all the way over to fucking Kansas, spending over half an hour on the road putting up with idiot drivers, just to spend eight hours putting up with idiot coworkers. (I don't mean to say that my coworkers are completely stupid people, but, c'mon, if you work in an accounting office, at least be able to send an email or enter data into a spreadsheet.) My new job is just ten minutes down the road from where I live.

So, in short: old job = stupid, new job = cool, Mr. McBastard = happy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Uncomplaint

I believe too many times we complain, and not enough do we praise. That is why I would like to thank the Drury Inn & Suites of Fenton, Missouri. I stayed at their hotel over the weekend and very much enjoyed it.

Although the woman at the counter was distracted by the pizza man when I was trying to check in, she was friendly and, most importantly, real. She wasn't just a fake smile and a "have a nice day." She was a real person who was really hungry, and I can respect that.

Although our room was dirty when we got in, when I called the front desk, they apologized, moved me to a knew room, and offered to take some money off my bill, all in the span of five minutes. The guy who came to show us to our new room didn't try to kiss my ass, either. I hate it when people are overly apologetic, but sadly that is how most businesses want their employees to act. Fortunately, this guy was simply courteous and pleasant. He even made a joke at the situation.

If you're uptight and expect everything to be perfect; if you like to complain if something isn't done right the first time; if you're a douchebag and think you're better than people with a lower salary than you, don't stay at the Drury Inn. If you like people to treat you like a person and not like a customer, give Drury Inn a try.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Ongoing Adventures of Josh in a New Town

At work I've been called "Josh" twice in the last month by two separate people who have known my name for about two months. He's following me. How can so many unconnected people all independently make the same mistake so consistently?

  • There is some semi-famous actor, seen and known by thousands, named Josh who looks remarkably like me.
  • I have an evil twin brother named Josh. (Or maybe I am the evil twin?>
  • Part of the time, unbeknownst to me, I fall into a Tyler Durden-esque alterego named Josh.
  • People are named according to appearance and attitude, and I was just misnamed.
  • I am falling in and out of an alternate reality, a "Bizzaro world" in which the only differene between me and my counterpart is our name.
Does anyone else have any other suggestions?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Adventures of Roswell Newton

My friend, Luciano has started a new webcomic. Check it out, or we're not friends anymore!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Non Sequitur Overheard at Work

Woman 1: "I like your haircut."

Woman 2: "My husband cut down a tree yesterday!"

Friday, September 29, 2006

Compliment

The best compliment I have received in a long while came from my once and present roommate Justin last week. He said that when buying clothes for his new job, he used me as a point of reference, citing my style as "business casualy, but classy" and "pimp." I've never really been known for being fashionable and, outside of wearing a tuxedo, have rarely ever been complimented on my dress, so this was real flattery.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

High-Fiving Mother Fucker

Last weekend I was sitting outside of The Beaumont Club with one of my friends, waiting for our other friends to emerge. This took longer than expected, so I decided to entertain myself to pass the time. I decided to solicate high fives from everyone trickling out of the bar. Quite a few opted to slap hands, some were reluctant, most walked on past, but one group's reaction was especially memorable.

I believe I was trying to spark up a conversation with the girl eating a burrito when two badasses walked out of the bar. You could tell they were badasses because they wore their hats backwards and walked with a strut something like that of an upright gorilla with one leg asleep and the other affected by palsey. As I had with everyone else emerging from the egress, I offered my hand in a high-five. They ignored it and walked past.

Moments later another badass exited and walked in my direction. I again offered my hand. This time, from over my shoulder I heard one of the original badasses shout a warning, "Beau, don't give that faggot a high five!" Beau glanced at his buddies, looked at my hand, and kept walking.

I was not really phased by this; I expected such reactions from passers-by. The point of what I was doing was not to get high fives, but to get reactions. This reaction, though, seemed ludicrous. I can't help but imagine what it must have been like for Beau when he caught up with the other badasses.

"Beau, did you see that faggot high-fiving people? And you almost high-fived him! I can't believe you. You almost high-fived a faggot! Do you realize what could have happened? You could have high-fived that faggot, caught the gay, and at this moment you would have faggotry and sodomy coursing through your very veins! I'm glad I said something. I'm glad I saw you in time and told you not to high-five that faggot.

"I don't know what I would have done if you had. I was scared for you, man, real scared. I'm just glad that you're safe now. Hug me, bro. Hold me. I can't believe that faggot. What was he trying to do; queer-up everyone in the whole city by high-fiving them?

"Can you feel that? I'm shaking, Beau. That's how scared I was for you. I'm still shaking! Kiss me, Beau. Let me know that you're all right. Kiss me like you mean it. I want to feel safe again, Beau. I want to feel safe in your arms, kissing you, knowing damn sure that you're not a faggot.

"Beau, could you slip a finger in my butt?"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Little-Known Facts about Cloning

In addition to these "facts" about cloning, here are some more truths about cloning:

  1. Clones retain the memory and thoughts of the original, lacking only the original's conscience and sense of morality
  2. The only way to tell the clone from the original is that the clone will not have birthmarks or scars, and will, of course, have a menacing goatee
  3. Someone can clone you simply by stealing some of your hair, fingernail clippings, toothbrush, discarded q-tips, fingerprints, stool samples, library card, or even by taking a picture of you
  4. Clone flatulence smells of sulfur
  5. In 2005, 17 people died from cloning or of clone-related causes in the U.S.
  6. Clones have no souls and can't go to Heaven (or Hell for that matter!)
  7. Michael Jackson never underwent plastic surgery; he is actually a 5th generation clone
  8. Clones hate oatmeal
  9. If a clone mates with another clone or (God forbid) an original, its offspring will be sterile
  10. All clones are lactose intolerant
  11. Militant Islamic extremists invented cloning in the early '90s to destroy America
  12. Don't feed clones after midnight
Please, don't believe everything you read.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dear Kansas City Drivers

Did you know that you can go just as fast as the car in front of you without riding three feet from its back bumper? I've known this little tidbit for years, but I thought I'd pass along the secret to everyone else. Happy driving!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Make the Poor Poorer

People with bad credit scores are obviously going to be bad employees. Don't hire them.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Good Friends Die Hard

I haven't really made any new friends here in KC. That's not a bad thing. But when I would fantasize about what my future here would be like a few months ago, I imagined working with a bunch of young people my age who I'd have a drink with after work, or seeing people that lived around me out at the bars -- becoming friends with my neighbors and coworkers. So far, I've only been around my roommates and the people from KC that I already knew. Again, that's not a bad thing, just different from what I expected.

I'm glad it turned out this way, though. Because as much as I like being alone sometimes, I really hate being lonely.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Expense Control Clerk

I started my new job two weeks ago. When I got there, my desk was bare -- not because I was only a new employee, but because the week before, while my supervisor was on vacation, other people from the accounting office raided my desk. Thank god they left the computer and roll of tape (sans tape dispenser). My supervisor scrounged around for some pens, and then pulled a brand new 10-key (Yes, I actually have to use it.) and electronic staple out of storage, I guess because she felt sorry for me. I got my magnetic key card last week and should be getting my photo ID badge sometime this week.

As far as the work goes, it's not hard. I receive checks from various places, put them in a box, send forms to other various places, and wait for the forms to come back and tell me what to do with the checks in the box. It's a mystical process, the details of which I'm still trying to figure out. Aside from that, part of my job is to show confusing forms or checks to my boss, have her say, "Oh, I'll show you how to do that later," and wait at my desk for her to never come over. I also check my email, which I'm not sure if that is kosher yet, but I do it anyway.

I take brakes with Donna, the woman with the desk next to mine. She's pretty nice. She helps me with questions, and we dance in our chairs together when we hear a loud cell phone ringtone from out in the field of cubicles. We takes me to lunch with her and her friend from Accounting, because I don't have any friends of my own yet, unless you count her.

So, I do some sort of work, and the company gives me a paycheck. This process is not foreign to me, but is somehow different than my previous jobs. Before I would always produce a tangible product or perform a visible service for a customer as the main focus of my job. Here I am a middleman between several different departments, passing along information that could be gained through direct contact between those departments.

I'm not sure what I do or why I keep doing it, but for the time being, doing this will do me just fine.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Found Poem (from a Spam Email)

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

New Therapy

“Good job!” Sandy told her daughter with a wide smile and strained enthusiasm. “That was a good ride, huh?” Sandy cheered on her daughter and stepped toward the horse.

“Yeah, I guess,” the thirteen-year-old girl said from atop an old brown mare. “Can you get me down now?” she sighed.

Sandy looked up at her daughter with bright eyes and a grin, but this fa├žade was starting to show a few cracks. “Sure, honey.” With the help of the side-walker, the adolescent strained to swing one leg over the horse’s back and slid down the other side into her mother’s arms. Sandy handed the girl her cane, an ugly bare-metal crook with a four-pronged bottom. As the girl tried to hobble away, her mother yanked on the girl’s cumbersome back brace, trying to readjust it into its proper position. The daughter scolded her mother in embarrassment and struggled to get away. Sandy released her grip. The skinny girl wobbled, still unsteady on two legs and a cane. Despite her back brace, she still seemed to slouch, and her shoulders hunched over.

“That was a good job, Miranda,” said a man standing by the gate to the arena. To Miranda, he sounded just as insincere as her mother had.

“Dr. Kammerich, what are you doing here?” asked Sandy.

The doctor smiled and looked into the perpetually uncertain face of the young girl. “I need to talk to you about something. Something that might turn out to be very good news,” he addressed them both.

Miranda was tired of adults pretending to be happy around her. “Are you going to give me robot legs?” The two adults ignored her with more fake smiles and laughs. As she galloped like a snail beside them, they exchanged small talk about her progress with her equine therapy. Her mother told an embarrassing story about her first ride when she had nearly fallen off. Miranda rolled her eyes. The three reached the car and stopped. Dr. Kammerich laughed lightly. “Well, what I’ve got to tell you may change that. I’d like to start Miranda on a new therapy.”

“A new one?" Sandy was nervous. She knew how much stress these therapies were on her daughter. She hoped her already frustrated child wouldn't become even more upset. "This therapeutic riding seems to really be working, right Miranda?” Sandy said, gently tugging on her daughter’s ponytail.

“It’s better than the water therapy,” the girl said dryly. “I almost drowned, like, a thousand times.” Miranda laughed and snorted. Her mother smiled.

“Well, this therapy isn’t like that. It’s more medicinal.”

“We’re already doing the steroids once a week. And the supplements…” Sandy trailed off.

“It’s a new therapy that would preclude all the other ones.” He looked to Miranda. “You wouldn’t have to swim or ride horses or get steroids anymore.”

“That’d be cool,” Miranda said unconvinced.

“What kind of therapy is it? Why didn’t you tell us about it before?” asked Sandy. She was becoming suspicious.

“It’s a new therapy. It’s,” Dr. Kammerich hesitated, “experimental.” He knew he’d chosen the wrong word as soon as he said it.

“How experimental?”

The doctor looked from mother to child. “Miranda would be the first.”

Sandy looked down at her daughter, a thin frame leaning up against the family station wagon. Her overenthusiastic veneer fell from her face. She took Dr. Kammerich by the arm and pulled him off to the side. “I don’t want Miranda to be some guinea pig, having scientists and doctors poking and prodding her more than they already do. I don’t want her to be any more unhappy than she already is.”

“I understand your concern;” Dr. Kammerich continued, choosing his words carefully, “however, this might not just be a therapy. It could be a cure.”

“There is no cure for muscular dystrophy,” Sandy said.

Dr. Kammerich smiled. “Not yet.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bad Things, Good People

Bad things never happen to good people. Things happen to people, and then we decide which people and things are good and which are bad. And for some reason this matters, this goodness and badness. We can never just accept that things happen.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ununemployed

I finally got a job! I start working the seventh of August at Farmers Insurance as a Expense Control Clerk.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Interview

Miranda disembarked from the elevator and looked around. To her right was the humming of office work: keyboards clacking, papers shuffling, people talking, and the occasional phone ringing. To her left was a high counter with two women behind it – one busy signing for a delivery and assuring someone over the phone that she had indeed scheduled the meeting for the next day, the other hardly moving, staring through thick-rimmed glasses at a computer screen. Miranda approached the latter. “Hello, my name is Miranda. I have an appointment with Mr. Sunder ... at two ....” She stopped. The woman with glasses didn’t even look up.

“What do you need, hon?” the other woman asked, cradling the phone in her neck and handing a clipboard back to the delivery man. “Yes, I sent him the file as an attachment last week,” she said into the phone.

“I’m here to see Mr. Sunder.”

“You have to unzip the file first before you can open it,” the reception said, then without missing a beat, “He’s down the hall on your left. Take another left at the water fountain. You’ll see a whole bunch of conference rooms on the right; his office is right across from those.”

“Not anymore,” the secretary with glasses finally spoke in a nasal east-side accent.

“What?” the other woman said, perhaps into the phone or perhaps to the secretary with glasses.

“Not anymore,” the woman with glasses said without looking up from her computer. “He moved to the fifteenth floor two weeks ago. They finally finished his office up there. It’s supposed to be real nice. Marie – Marie-from-HR Marie – she got the job as his new receptionist. She said it’s the easiest job in world. She said he’s not even in most days, and when he is in, he’s only there for a few hours, has one meeting and then goes home. She’s so lucky. I wish I had nothing to do.”

“I’m telling you, I sent the right file. It is just in zip format. You have to unzip it!” The other secretary had shifted attention to a fax machine that wouldn’t relinquish an apparently important document.

The woman with glasses finally looked up, saw Miranda still patiently waiting at the counter, and said with a fake pleasantness, “Fifteenth floor. Can’t miss it.”

Alex sat in his rolling office chair behind a large wooden desk in an ornately furnished fifteenth floor office. It was the only office on the fifteenth floor but was small enough to make room for his conference room, washroom, gym, dining room, napping room, and the fifteenth floor’s lobby that housed his secretary.

A voice sprang from the intercom. “Your two o’clock is here to see you, Mr. Sunder.”

“Thank you Marie. Send her in.” Marie showed the shy, young woman into the office. Miranda shook Alex’s hand and took a seat in one of the big leather chairs facing the desk. “Thank you, Marie. Could you bring us some bottled water? Thanks.”

Alex looked over the young girl sitting before him. She was shorter than he expected, and younger. She seems shy and unsure of herself. Alex had immediate reservations. Still she had interest enough to answer the ad and guts enough to actually show up. “Where are you from?”

Miranda cleared her throat and said, “I’m living in an apartment on the east side, down on 101st.”

Alex smiled. “Where’s that accent from?”

“Oh, well, I grew up in the Midwest.”

Grew up? Alex thought, This girl is still growing up. “Any place I’d know?”

“A small town in the middle of nowhere.” Miranda shrugged.

“Well, let’s get down to it. Why do you want to be a sidekick to a superhero?”

Miranda looked around nervously. “Because I have a power?”

“A superpower?”

“I guess.”

Alex leaned in, interested. “Oh do you now?”

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Confession

Unless I'm in a hurry, I sit down to pee. You know why? Because it's comfortable and because I can. If that makes me less of a man, then so be it; I'm less of a man who takes comfortable pisses.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ghost Stripper

Have you ever wanted to see a ghost stripper? I did, once. How foolish and naive I was back then.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Pledge of Allegiance

I never knew that the Pledge of Allegiance was such a young tradition. I had always figured that it was as old as the flag itself.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

00010011

life and death are an
existential datastream
of ones and zeros.

Friday, June 23, 2006

36%

"Zach is 36% gay!

Loosen up my straight mate! These days women like a man with some softer edges to grab onto."

Results from the Gay-O-Meter test.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Help Wanted

The phone rang. Alex was sitting on the couch watching Batman reruns. He eyed the phone suspiciously and hesitated before standing up, picking up the receiver, and answering. The voice on the line was female and shy. She said, “I’m calling about the want ad in the paper.” Alex waited for her to continue. “Is it … is it serious?” she asked. For the fourth time that morning Alex regretted ever putting the job post in the Help Wanted section of the New City Herald. The ad read:

Superhero seeks sidekick. Must be a self-starter and able to take direction. Powers a plus. Some typing required. Serious applicants only. Call 555-5576 for more information. EOE
“Yes, it’s serious,” Alex replied with a sigh. The last person to call had just started laughing at this point. Alex mentally braced himself for a barrage of taunting.

“Well, uh, how do I, like, apply?”

It was Alex’s turn to ask, “Are you serious?”

There was a moment of silence, then the female voice said, “Well, yeah, if … you are.” Alex stammered an assurance. He was amazed, and a little skeptical, that someone was finally taking his want ad seriously. Is it just someone playing along to get a good laugh at my expense? Or is this one real? Despite his reservations, Alex suggested a time and place for an interview the next day. The voice on the other end agreed.

Alex set the receiver back in the cradle and sat back into the couch. Batman and Robin were battling henchmen with Bam! and Pow! springing from their landed punches. The two ended up back-to-back. They ducked in unison and let two villains punch each other over their heads. A smile slowly spread across Alex’s face.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hire Me

Gimme a job!

Friday, June 09, 2006

00010010

the butterfly lands,
is smashed in a metal hand.
what is its function?

Monday, June 05, 2006

00010001

butterflies flutter.
the robot extends an arm
to catch an insect.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

00010000

life moves around it.
what does all this data mean?
the robot wonders.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Diploma

I got my diploma in the mail today!

Now if only I could get a job in the mail.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Caveat Emptor

I went camping and canoeing over this Memorial Day Weekend on the Little Niangua. It was pretty fun; however, if I had to do it over again, I would not rent canoes from Maggard's Canoe.

They tacked on hidden fees and charged us inflated rates not mentioned in their brochure or on their website. By the end of it, we paid nearly double what we had originally calculated.

Besides that, though, they were also rude and inhospitable. I didn't expect them to treat us like we were at a fancy resort in Aspen, but common courtesy would have been nice.

So, if you're ever going canoeing in the Missouri Ozark area, do not rent canoes from Maggard's Canoe. They are a bunch of thieving, angry hillbillies who don't deserve your money.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The DaVinci Caffufle

So, I saw The DaVinci Code movie (having read the book about a year ago) and was quite impressed with how well it was made and how true to the book it was. Good job, Howard et al.

However, for the past week I've ashamedly watched about three hours of DaVinci Code commentary, most of it trying to "disprove" or "discredit" Dan Brown's novel. It makes me angry. You know why? Because THE DAVINCI CODE IS A WORK OF FICTION!

It is not a textbook. It is not a historical account. It is not a factual documentation. It is a work of fucking fiction. It is not something that you can argue with. You can disapprove of the novel, but you dan't disprove it, because it didn't really happen! It is a work of fiction, perhaps based on some facts, but even the characters in the novel are in dispute over the veracity of the "facts" they present.

So, what I would like everyone who has some beef with The DaVinci Code to do is this: Step back, take a deep breath, and shut the fuck up. Give Dan Brown a break. His only crime has been writing an exciting, intruiging book.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

End of (School) Days

So, amid the heavy drinking, packing, paper writing, working, driving, and job interviews over the past week, I graduated. Somewhere in there, I donned a cap and gown, shook hands with the president of the university, and actually graduated. I know; I couldn't believe it either!

The next step: Get a real job and find this so-called "real world."

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

God & Creation

Blake Ostler argues the classical concept of the creation of the cosmos:

  1. If God possess aseity [self-existence] and exists, then he is not dependent on anything nor lacking in any conceivable manner (i.e., God is self-sufficient).
  2. A self-sufficient being cannot manifest a need nor be enhanced by any action (1).
  3. Every positive action requires an explanation sufficient to account for it (Criteria of Sufficient Reason).
  4. Creation of the cosmos is a positive action.
  5. A self-sufficient being could not manifest a reason sufficient to explain why it preferred existence of the cosmos to its nonexistence (1,2).
  6. Hence, God did not create the cosmos (3,4,5). (Beckwith 8-9)
While this arguement is interesting, I think there are some gaps in its logic. I can agree completely with Assertion 1; if the nature of God is omnipotent, then he needs or wants nothing. However, Assertion 2 intends to limit God's omnipotence by saying that he "cannot manifest a need." This is the schoolyard philosopher's question "Can God make a rock so heavy even He can't move it?" If the answer is yes, then God isn't all-powerful, he can't even move a rock. If the answer is no, then God still isn't all-powerful, he can't even create a rock. Quite a conundrum.

This arguement falls into the realm of the moot, though. Being all-powerful precludes need, want, action, and enhancement. The assertion that God cannot manifest a need nor be enhanced by any action only seems to contradict omnipotence because that is the only way that limited human language can express limitless power. The arguement is mostly syntactical.

Assertion 3 seems ludicrous. There is no logical reason for why such a required explanation should exist to account for a positive action (or for a negative action, for that matter). I believe this assertion means to say that God must have had a reason for creating everything, but that, again, is projecting human reasoning onto a being of limitless power. As the Assertion 1 states, God doesn't need anything, let alone a reason for creation.

Assertion 4 is just stupid. I'll give Mr. Douglas Adams the credit for an excellent rebuttal: "In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

As I said for Assertion 2, the flaw of Assertion 5 is that it relies on limited human syntax to describe concepts that are limitless.

Assertion 6, while a derivative of faulty logic, is the most intriguing assertion of them all. Because if God did not create the cosmos, who did? It boggles the mind!

Works Cited
  • Adams, Douglas. The Restaurant At the End of the Universe. New York: Pocket, 1982.
  • Beckwith, Francis J., and Stephen E. Parrish. The Mormon Concept of God. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1991.

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