NEW 107

"I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones."
-- L. Frank Baum


      Note to coworkers: If you call up and say "I can't come to work today. My mom's real sick," it might be best to tell Mom before she comes into the store.

      While it would be cool to see a video recap of my crazy, ultra-detailed dreams, my first thought on reading this article was Who Are The Brain Police? Because you know that's the first way that this technology would be used.



      "Our boss is like a toddler," said a coworker. "Give him a bottle and he shuts up!"
      I call him the Drunken Toddler here, which she doesn't know about, as no one at work knows I have a website. For the obvious reason: posts like this! (It helps to have an unGooglable name)
      One of the liquor deliveries hadn't arrived by 2PM, oh quelle horreur! 72 cases, boo fuckin' hoo, that's like a teeny tiny beer delivery for me. Yesterday I put away 450 cases of beer. But I'm not a whiny toddler, ME ME ME! NOW NOW NOW! WAAH! so DT--
      Hey, that could stand for both Drunken Toddler or Delerium Tremens! Never noticed that before.
      --called the company and went wee-wee in his big boy pants, demanding that they come RIGHT NOW or he would hold his breath and not eat his peas. I think he may have also demanded a He-Man figure.
      They came. We were the last stop, which meant that we were the first loaded, which meant that there were 250 CASES that they had to move to be able to get to our crap.
      The driver had a helper, and I offered to be a second helper, but I guess that wasn't union kosher. I apologized on behalf of everyone in the store who wasn't DT. The driver I've known for years, and he was dead silent. The last time I saw him so mad was when his wife going to give birth, and his company spitefully made him drive as far from the hospital as possible. He quit that company. He looked like he was thinking of a retroactive abortion of DT.
      And DT didn't even have the shrivelled old balls to face the guys whose lives he was making worse. It was me and another coworker, both snarling in disgust of that waste of breath, flesh, everything else that was hiding in the office with his 10th Heineken of the day.
      They left about 30 minutes after they would have if they had just done the 3 stops/250 cases before us. And last week, the same delivery guy found an unexplained, unbilled case of liquor--$150 of booze--on his truck, and gave it to DT. And this was his thanks.
      Then DT went back to whining about how his feet hurt. His fucking little tootsies.
      Here's your bottle, baby, STFU.


      The greatest worst Jesus doll EVER. WWJD(estroy)?


      The store delivery vehicle is a shitty old F150 pickup. We--by which I mean "I," as that's always how it seems to work out--had to deliver a huge order for a wedding, $2400 worth of booze & beer. But it was raining off and on, light and heavy, so instead of just putting the cover over the truck's bed and making 2 deliveries, it was decided by DT to borrow our other store's van.
      They wanted the delivery by 3, and so did I. That's when I'd start working off the clock. The store owner brought the van on time, but all but one door was locked. I went to get the keys from him, and they were on the front passenger seat. And I'd LOCKED THE ONE DOOR.
      I have a bigger tolerance for others' stupid mistakes than I do my own. And then the fun really started!
      I called the police to come open the door, as the manager above me said to do. DT called a tow truck. The owner called his son, who had a spare key and was coincidentally just up the road. They came in that order, surprisingly. The cop gave up, as the van is even shittier than the F150.
      Once unlocked, 2 of us loaded it (the other being the guy who told me to call the police, probably almost as embarassed as I was). And the damn thing wouldn't start! Took like 3 minutes of stomping the brake and wrestling with the ignition. I kept looking behind me, as the crappy thing sounded like every door was about to swing open. Oh, F150, I may never complain about you again!
      Then the rain started again. I found the place, except that I didn't; I had the street number wrong. But for once I'd brought my phone, so I called the Guy (as his name was Guy. He had an English accent), got the right address, #91. Hmm, there's #89, a side street, and then #92...I turned around, and the "side street" had its own gate. It was that guy Guy's driveway. I got out in the rain and pressed the call button.
      And pressed it again. And called on my phone, and got that Guy's voicemail. And pressed the button again. Also, again. It just kept beeping and making a busy signal. I called again, 3 times, but my phone hung up. Suddenly, as if by magic, the mighty gates swung open and I drove over the drawbridge across the moat. Not really, just past the artificial pond with a fountain going in the now-thunderstorm.
      Three Ryder rental trucks sat in the driveway of what, in central CT, could only be called a mansion. It was like 3 big brick houses, connected like Siamese triplets. Guy came out and helped me unload the truck in the downpour (why do I find it impossible to imagine an American-born rich person doing that?), and just asked me not to put the dampened boxes on the Oriental rug. The entranceway was wider than my entire condo, and the rug covered almost all of it. Holy shit. I could afford that rug, if I didn't spend anything for a year or two on vagaries such as food.
      He handed me a tip, a 5 wrapped around some ones, so like $10. Hey, I was now reaching the "work for free" part of the day, maybe only 10 minutes worth, but it's not like I make $60 an hour! You're a good guy, Guy! (Oh, shut up and just be glad his name wasn't "Bro")
      Of course, now the rain stopped. I got the handtruck (that I didn't need to bring, because of the stairs in front of the mansion) from the back of the van, and stepped in 2 inches of flowing water. And when I say Chuck Taylors are great sneakers, I mean they also are great sponges. I got to drive home with wet feet.
      Turned out that Guy had given me $20 in loose bills. So, I got home 10 minutes late, but I call it a net gain.
      Also got a blog post out of it!


      The 2011 Ig Nobel Awards

      Every time for the last month when I planned on taking the air conditioner out of the window, the forecast called for more heat and humidity. Finally I decided that the time would be Sunday. Then I found a sheet of paper rolled up by the front doorknob from the condo association. "WINDOW A/C UNITS MUST BE REMOVED BY OCTOBER 1ST." Thanks for the advance warning. Someone had hand-scribbled "9/28/11" on it, in an attempt backdate it and make me think that I'd been entering my house since Wednesday through the chimney.
      Fines for failure to remove begin on 10/15. I'm surprised that they didn't leave a red LED timer counting down "FINES BEGIN: 02 HRS 37 MIN 14 SEC...02 HRS 37 MIN 13 SEC..."


      The rain stopped in time for me to go to the Farmers' Market for probably the last time this year. Slogged through the mud and bought the usual cheeses and breads. In the less boggish part of the field was the Holistic Wellness Fair! "Holistic" means "Don't Work Worth Shit." I was handed a raffle ticket on the way in, but I didn't realize that the prizes were stapled to it on the list of wackaloons practitioners. Lots of reiki people, which is an ancient Japanese art created in the ancient year of 1922. One prize was from a Shamanic Healer I passed by, waving her hands over some deluded sap true believer, which is pretty much reiki. The prize promised "Soul Retrieval." I gave my soul a microchip if it ever gets lost.
      Another prize was a "60 Minute Hyperbaric Oxygen Session," which would certainly gain me the life strength to live as long as its most famous proponent, Michael Jackson. Others included "Megolithomania," which while a great name for a band that sings about Stonehenge and Easter Island heads, really is...Googling actually didn't help much. Glastonbury, Britain is mentioned, so I guess Stonehenge and not the infamously snooty Connecticut town of Glastonbury is involved. Are you thinking of Spinal Tap right now, too? ("Stonehenge was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf!")
      Another prize I saw in/action: a woman wearing a sleep mask, lying on a couch while a gong was played. This was the "Sound Healing Detox Session." Because umm, actually, maybe a really loud sound might make me void my colon, but thanks anyway. I would've gone for it if it was an "Intox Session featuring Gong with a Bong."

      Random topics I scribbled to write about during work yesterday:

      Work radio Oldies Station, maybe more people would've been enthused about your giveaway of free tickets to the Hartford Home Show if you didn't keep running ads from the Show saying that admission was free. "In our next contest, win all the free air you can breathe!"

      Also Oldies Station, don't have a "Long Songs Weekend" and play things like The Human Leagues' "Don't You Want Me," which lasts 4 minutes.

      In depressing news for readers my age, The Human Leagues' "Don't You Want Me" is now considered an oldie. How long before they start playing TMBG's "Flood"?

      Remember waaay back to Tuesday, and that delivery the Drunken Toddler made everyone miserable over? That driver was back Friday and confronted DT about it. "You not only couldn't say 'Thank You,' you couldn't even be bothered to face me." DT: "I can't walk! I had a doctor's appointment! No one else could check it in after I left!" Hey, DT, how about doubling your amount of lies, and throw in "I was in my office not hiding, but fighting Robot Hitler Space Whale when I should've been having lunch with Audrey Hepburn--ON THE MOON!"

      Two of my coworkers are obese, the younger one dangerously so, and has diabetes and heart attacks running in her family. Maybe she shouldn't eat junk all the time. Is that why she stinks the bathroom up every time she shits? Is it the junk, or does it ferment in her colon? Should she get a gong detox? Me, I've learned to hold my breath and run for the bottle of Febreze that's in the bathroom. Hey, Febreze, did you name your product after febrile seizures? Or just feeble? Seriously, it's not a good name.

      I'm just kinda rambling now, aren't I?

      There's a song by Brian Eno from his "Apollo" soundtrack called "Always Returning." I put silly lyrics to the simple instrumental, about the cats. Silly, and embarassing (OK, OK, it's "I love my [noun] [cat name], and I love my [repeat for each cat]" In her case, "honey Kill Kill")
      I turned Pandora on with her nesting by me, and she immediately perked up and pointed her ears at the speakers, then loudly purred. She recognized the melody before I did. She is the Einstein Cat.

      DJ remains the Surfer Dude Cat. Like a little kid, he sometimes becomes obsessed about pushing his boundaries and going where he shouldn't, like inside the fridge. Or the top of my computer monitor, which has a shelf and many beloved tchotchkes. Yesterday he would not stop trying to attack it, despite my cries of "NO!" and several time outs in the bedroom. It later occured to me that maybe he didn't mind going to the bedroom, as he was shut in there the first week he was here. He tried again when I got home. He only does it when I'm at the computer, and NO, he doesn't get ignored when I'm on it. Every cat gets the attention they want if I'm awake. I gave up and tried a more oblique strategy: I cut open the box my Amazon order came in and put it in the way. His mighty mind found this baffling. Problem apparently solved.

      If you're wondering what I got from Amazon, it was a color printer cartridge because Fuck You, Canon! The printer won't work with a full B&W cart, and I have to print out a form for for my prescription refills, Fuck YOU, Oxford Health couldn't-Care-less! And something that I didn't know existed and slept on so that it wasn't an impulse buy even though I was going to get it as soon as I knew it existed: MST3K vs. Gamera.

      (checks list) Yep, that's everything.

      You Want Fries With That Special Delivery Mail? "The U.S. Postal Service is on the brink of bankruptcy and could shut down unless Congress takes action to spare its life. We all know how that's going to go. Asking the currently constituted House of Representatives to preserve some aspect of civilization is like asking Cruella deVille to dog-sit for you."



      Can't talk. Busy.

      I was in the beer cooler last week, all dozen fans blowing loudly, when I heard a weird noise. Was there something wrong with the compressors? What is that sound--oh. It's Ennio Morricone. My ring tone.
      I only have the phone for emergencies, but I don't have it on my person; at work I keep it in my lunch tote. I got to it just in time for the caller to hang up. I didn't recognize the number and they didn't leave a voicemail, defeating the purpose of the call, so I forgot about it.
      At the Farmers' Market I pulled it out to check the time and noticed I had a voicemail from the day before. I opened it to check it, and it vibrated. Weird. I saw that I had multiple calls from that earlier number. Oh boy, it's the people who own the condo below me! AGAIN. Now there was a leak in the bathroom. Something about the toilet's "wax gasket." But she said that it was no big deal.
      I got home and discovered that the vibration was another voicemail from her. Now, 24 hours later, it was a big deal. Like what, the "ceiling that's going to collapse" from last time, which turned out to be a tiny stain? Yeah, I'll get right on it. Hey, wait--the toilet's slowly leaking between the tank and the seat, and the floor behind it's wet! It wasn't like that the day before. So I called her, telling her Please don't call my cell if you want to reach me, use my home number. The next day she was at my door, claiming there was now "a hole" in the ceiling and, all together now!, it was Going to Collapse. She gave me 3 different phone numbers to call about le crisis du jour.
      Now, if in reading that last paragraph you thought, Is he really that cognizant about what's happening on the floor behind his toilet? Oh yes. "Scrappy," as it is unlovingly nicknamed, is a toilet made in September 1968, according to the tank. 43 years old, and thus older than more than half of you reading this. Scrappy has slowly fallen to pieces over the years. It's been manually flushed for over a decade--I crouch down to turn the water on, let it fill, flush, turn the water off. One gets used to it. I knew replacing it would involve big bucks, plumbers and turning off the whole building's water, so I never bothered, especially since it happened during my 18 months of unemployment back in the 90s.
      Only one of my 3 calls to different numbers got a response, from Andy. He could send out a handyman--not a plumber or contractor, he pointed out, which he said was far cheaper--and replace the wax gasket. Wax Gasket has been added to my list of potential band names. Or he could just replace the whole toilet; just buy one at Home Depot and we'll install it, he said. A prospect which I said I'd think about, although admitting it was the preferable option. He'd send a guy over after I got out of work to fix the leak.
      I thought on the commute home, Yeah, if he can stop the leak, I'll buy a toilet and arrange to get it installed next week. Then I heard that haunting cry of Morricone--why do people keep calling me on my cell?--and Andy said "I bought a toilet; I'll be over with it in 5 minutes." Whoa! That's service! He arrived with another guy, and the 2 of us lugged it up 3 floors/6 flights of stairs. And he charged me...exactly what he paid for at Home Depot. He used 2 people's time and his own gas, didn't make a penny beyond what it said on the receipt. (Although he kept 1 receipt, maybe to write it off as an expense, thus actually making money. No more cost to me than I would've paid if I'd bought it myself). He said as he left that the guy to install it would be here within an hour. Actually, no. He was here in 30 minutes.
      There are 2 reactions upon entering Casa del Young for the first time, upon realizing you just stepped into a cross between the Addams Family mansion and Pee-Wee's Playhouse as built in the Twilight Zone. SHOCK HORROR, followed by a refusal to make eye contact with anything weird around you, which I admit is everything around you, with a hastened departure. Or "WHOA! Cool!" It seems that people 40 and older like it best, maybe because the first thing one sees is a wall o' record albums, about 3000, with 2000 CDs. These are the people who also call "Hey, kitty!" to the always fearless Byron. Mike the Handyman was of the second, and dare I say, far superior breed of human.
      I went between talking to him as he worked and leaving him in peace, but we hit it off right away. Byron didn't leave, but also didn't pester him. DJ came out during the 5 to 10 minute stretches Mike got tools from his car, running away when he returned. The Divine Ms. K came from under the bed to observe from a safe distance herself.
      It took about 90 minutes, the bulk of which was spent wrestling Scrappy from the floor. Scrappy left in pieces, which made me strangely happy. Mike did an awesome job, far better than I expected. Of course, you gotta pay at the end...
      "So, how much do I owe you?"
      "Fifty...bucks?!" I tipped him $10, which was all I had on me.
      If I'd known it would cost $200 total and involve so little time, and without shutting off the water anywhere but in my bathroom, I would've done this as soon as I saved $200 when I was working again. And the latest imminent ceiling collapse was now behind me.
      ...Until there was Morricone in my pants today. Crap, NOW what? But it was Andy, just checking to make sure everything went okay. Very okay, my friend, very. If I need any work done around the house, you and Mike are the ones who'll do it.

      As a reward for reading my epic Tale of Toiletry, here's Six Reasons It Sucks to Be a Jedi. I'd add "And then you get massacred by Speeder Bike dorks in the last and worst of the prequels." You cry, "But Speeder Bikers are cool!" No, Speeder Bikes are cool, the Scouts on them are dweebs. First time you see them in a film, they confront 2 lightly armed kids on foot, so what do they do? Immediately run away. And hit trees. And yet in the (thankfully) last prequel, a Jedi, a highly trained warrior who can magically ricochet laser blasts off a light saber--i.e., deflect light at the speed of light with another light--gets offed because 2 dorks know how brakes work. It's only one step above being killed by Jar-Jar in an Ewok suit.
      Although the suckiest thing would be being in the prequels at all. No wonder Jedi always look so constipated.

      Well, I'm off to flush my new toilet some more! It's like I'm LIVING IN A MANSION NOW.


      SHAWT, looking at the lottery scratch tickets: Are those the $3 tickets?
      ME: Yes.
      SHAWT: How much are they?


      Friday must be Telecommute Day, as the traffic is half that of every other rush hour commute. I was doing the speed of the other cars in the left of the 2 lanes, about 70. The right lane had an entrance ramp feeding in and was going slowly. Then a dump truck in the right lane decided to enter the left. Doing 25. I had about 1.5 seconds to brake down to his speed.
      And, since dump truck back bumper paste can't post, I obviously did! Hard enough to throw the iPod disconnected to the floor. One of the main reasons I bought a Fit was because of Honda's VSA anti-skid programming, and damn, but I could tell when it instantly kicked in and kept me from kicking into every other car on the road. If you need a new car, even a relatively cheap one like a Fit, remember this and think Honda. It could save your life. Or at least not ruin your day rear-ending a dump truck.

      Tiny baby mouse! Why are you in our store? It has no food or water. You should go outside, before you step in an evil and cruel glue trap.
      Oh, mouse! You are very fast. And I am slow, dropping a box on you and having no plan B. Wait, I will open the door and chase you out! You are too dumb to run outside the open door. And yet, smart enough to not crawl into a box with crackers in it, no matter how hungry you are.
      There you are! No, not that way, THIS--you frustrate me, small mouse. I will hide a cracker for you, so you can at least survive the night, and maybe get out the way you got in. And tomorrow, if the cracker is untouched and the glue traps unoccupied, I'll know you already got away.
      Good luck, mouse.

      And just so you don't think I've switched sides: Amazing story of the clever cat who led RSPCA rescuer to her kittens


      The glue traps were empty and the chip inside the door untouched, while the chips I left outside it were completely gone. All evidence points to the mouse escaping, most likely yesterday when the back door was open for 15 minutes for a delivery, which is most likely how it got in. In case you were wondering. I was.
      Funny, but if one of my cats dropped the same mouse slaughtered at my feet my reaction would be "Good kitty!"


      There is no human activity I enjoy more than sleep. But to look forward for days to having Sunday off, and then be awake for 8&1/2 non-contiguous hours just feels like a ripoff.

      Went to the doctor for the usual follow-up. For the first time ever, I got a flu shot! Since I work with the public, I thought that I should--NOOOOO Jenny McCarthy says I have the Autisms now!! Doctor, get the vaccine BACK OUT! Can I do it myself with a turkey baster?

      Kirk does the 24 Hour Comic Challenge again this year: he created a multipage comic in just a day. Deeper, darker and more introspective than his earlier ones, yet still full of hope, here's Dealing With Mortality: A Skeptic's Guide



      Via Kirk, Is the alcohol message all wrong?10/13The latest thrill in my life was going to a used book sale. I bought Crafty Cat Crimes: 100 Tiny Cat Mysteries. At 600 read-maybe-once pages and a dollar total, a bargain. And you all know how much I love crimes!
      I almost scored the entire Band of Brothers DVD set for 6 bucks, but it turned out to be the VHS set, and my VCR don't work no more, so, sorry, me.


      If the Iranians tried to kill one of our so-sweet wonderful bestest friends from the brutal Saudi dictatorship during the Dubya years, we'd be getting ready to invade Iran this minute. And it wouldn't be about oil and the countries that won't give us any, no sir! That NEVER happens! That's why we bomb Libya's civilains and not Syria's. For Freedom! FREEE-DOOM!


      CUSTOMER, to a friend in line at the register and anyone listening: I was just in a line like this. A woman paid and was in a big rush to leave, and the clerk yelled "Ma'am, you forgot your change!" I carefully picked up my purchase, backed off a bit and added, "Ma'am, you forgot your package!" (CUSTOMER then picks up her package and begins to walk away from the register)
      ME: Ma'am, you forgot to pay!
      She sheepishly laughed at herself, and her friend said "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone!" I thought, But I will!

      Sunday 10/16 is National Feral Cat Day! Certainly a good enough reason to support ferals by buying a cute cat figurine from Marjoriam's Colony! Feral cat Day Sale: 20% off! Enter the code "feral."



      You'll have to wait until tomorrow to discover the reason behind this absolutely terrible photo of chocolate-covered bacon.


      I thought that I'd stopped DJ from repeatedly trying to destroy the stuff on top of my monitor, via time-outs in the bathroom and a strategically placed empty beer box. Most cats would see the box, think "If I jump in that, it will come crashing down, with me inside it." Most cats have functioning brains. We're talking DJ here.
      I got home Saturday night to find the box on the floor, next to the all-white feral cat figurine Jessica handmade for me. In 3 pieces. "What is THIS?!" I demanded of DJ, who immediately self-exiled himself to the bathroom, pretty much confirming his guilt. I made a big show of feeding Killsy and Byron some nommy wet food, but not him, saying "This is what good cats get!"
      He didn't go near me for 90 minutes, until I went to him. As much as that figurine means to me, he means more, and he can't be fixed with Krazy Glue.

      Astute LTRotD may have looked at yesterday's crappy photo and thought, "A woman holding disgusting food in mid-October on this blog? I'll bet Bill and Mrs Jessica went to the Renaissance Faire again!" You'd be 2/3rds correct.


      This time she came with Ms Jacqueline, her lovely daughter! I last saw her when she was 10 and came up to her mom's waist. Now she's nearly equal in height and beauty to her mother. They could be mistaken for sisters (and later were).
      Jess discovered a way to the Faire that didn't involve me going 2 towns over from here via a 70 mile detour to Massachusetts. It'd been so long that I've gone there directly that I drew a complete blank on how to cover the first 2 miles. We arrived just minutes apart, and the people directing the cars forced an SUV so close to her Jeep that someone slammed their door on hers. And laughed. Jess wasn't laughing; they left a ding. When I found out I told her to get their insurance information, but they had already vanished. She moved her Jeep behind my car, and I'm not sure why they just didn't have people park there in an un-sardinelike fashion.
      "Happy Feral Cat Day!" I said, giving her a big box of cat food for her feral colonies. She lost all her food and supplies (and 4 feral kittens) in that tragic garage fire last month. It turned out that she wasn't having a very good Feral Cat Day. She'd been sobbing her eyes out for days, as the owner of a barn where one of her colonies was located wanted them gone. "You realize," she told him, "that they'll all be euthanized?" He didn't care. The cats were a "nuisance." How? She's the one that takes care of their food, medical emergencies, and spaying, as she's done for 10 years. The barn's had ferals for 30. If he gets rid of the cats, more will come to replace them, and he'll probably be glad, since as soon as her colony's gone from the barn, his house will fill with mice. And if you're thinking like I did, why can't she relocate them? she can't. They have to be fenced in for at least 3 weeks, or they'll just go back to their old home, losing lives on the way, and she'd have to build a fence. And if you're thinking, Big deal, they're not her cats! yes, they are. She's taken care of them for a decade. Her rescued boy Ham and her mom's girl Pinkie are from that colony, so it includes not just their relatives, but their parents.
      But they were at the Faire to de-stress, not worry. Much had changed in just a year. For one, parking was now $3, which is not a lot of money, but it was $3 more than they've ever charged before. They no longer took credit cards for admission, although they had an authentic Renaissance ATM, the kind Leonardo da Vinci invented. They place was completely rearranged, with much smaller stages for the acts, and a LOT more vendors. 2 or 3 times as many. But one thing hadn't changed--the website lists the performers, but not when they perform. We sat down with the schedule to figure out who to see. Jacque had never been, so we were going to see great shows we'd seen before, like contortionist Jayna Lee, bullwhipper Wonderfool and the always entertaining Zoltan the Adequate.
      ...who must have some Zoltan-sense that either tells him when someone is wearing one of his tshirts (like I was), or when his crush Jessica is present. This was the second time he's turned up as soon as we arrived. This time, he silently took Jess' pen, circled "Zoltan Show" on her schedule, then folded it as tiny as possible into a square that just said "Zoltan Show." Then he poked a fake eyeball out of his mouth. He pointed at my shirt and asked, "They let you in here wearing that?" I said, "They made me pay an extra 5 bucks." He told us to see Jayna's show, as he had come up with a new stunt with her: he'd lie on a bed of nails with a dinner plate on his stomach, and Jayna would smash it. With a bowling ball. Dropped while on top of her 12-foot stilts.
      The first stage we passed had a couple of "pirates" instructing a pair of baffled 4 year olds in a song that involved them swinging toy cats by their tails and throwing them in the air to fall and Fuck. YOU. The 3 of us were instantly disgusted. Animal abuse isn't cute. Then we passed a woman hawking racoon tails, which I hope were fake, but her pleading of "Pet my tails! Just PET them!" didn't improve our moods.
      We had time before the show, so we wandered the maze of vendors. One place had a sleeping pig. Sonya was awakened by her owner shaking her treats, which she ate with great gusto and many loud grunts. Jacque said, "That's the sound our cat Ham sounds when he eats!" which is why he's named Ham. We petted her, and Jess said "She's in heaven!" "Hog Heaven," I agreed.
      There was a huge array of food stalls, but still no Scotch eggs. I looked at one sign and said "Chocolate covered bacon!" But the line was too long. We made it to Jayna's stage, where she did her usual routine and said her usual jokes, but Jacque had never seen her before, and her triple-jointed acrobatics are still amazing to me & Jess. She added a few new bits, including dropping from 6 feet to 6 inches above the stage holding on to a silk ribbon with only her feet, which made me gasp and the guy directly behind us scream. Also, there was a stunt involving a bowling ball.
      Zoltan was up next, and since he always picks a beautiful young woman from the audience for one bit...Yep, he picked Jacque! He asked, "How old are you?" "16!" "Okay, get off the stage before I get arrested." He had to pick someone else, so...Jess! Her goal was to get as many clothespins on his face as possible in 1 minute. The record was 22; the last time she tried this (4 years ago), she hit 21. Jacque and I were in the 2nd row, loudly cheering her on. This is what he looked like when she started:


      And when she was done:


      And IT'S A NEW WORLD RECORD! She got either 25 or 27, depending on which of her cheering section has the faultier memory.
      When she sat down, I said "I'd never get on stage! I hate being the center of attention!"
      At the end, he mimed "Call me I love you" at Jess, which he usually does in his longer show (that's another thing they changed; cutting the show times down), causing Jacque to yell "You're talking to my MOM!"
      We stayed so that Jess could get a fitted woman's Zoltan tshirt, although he only had large ones left. I was about to ask her why a thin girl like her needed a large--oh, right, fitted. She's...large in places. She was wearing her "I Love Feral Cats" t, and Zoltan asked her why she did. I thought this was just an excuse to look at her shirt (some other performer misread it and asked "You Love Feeling Cats?" and he was clearly projecting), but it turned out that he's been involved in aiding ferals back home in Toronto. He found one with a toe almost torn off and infected, took him to the vet, was told it would cost C$500-600, said "Just do it," then told he needed to keep the cat indoors for at least 3 weeks so it didn't get reinfected, and he rather grudgingly agreed. That was 6 months ago..."And now I have a cat waiting for me when I get home." Cats, they'll do that to ya. He also asked Jess incredulously, "She's your daughter?" clearly thinking Jacque was her little sister. He asked me if I was the father, and I shook my head no. "'re just some creepy guy who follows her around?" I nodded, "Yeah, sorry to take your job away!"
      We had a pause of an hour between shows, obviously to make everyone buy stuff. The line for the chocolate bacon was even longer, but there was no line for the Thai garlic chicken-on-a-stick, just like Henry VIII used to eat while in line at the ATM. At $3.75 for half a skewered breast, and delicious, it was a bargain. We sat on the grassy hillside, which turned out to be the perfect spot to watch the grand parade of castmembers.
      Next we saw Wonderfool:


      ...seen here blowing a fireball directly from his mouth while balancing on a board that's rolling on a tube. That's also on fire.
      We next saw Commedia Mania, which was awful at first. The kind of hammy acting and ham-fisted writing normally seen in high school productions. But their absurd version of the Greek tragedy Electra got funnier as the jokes built on themselves. Never before has the line "A Boston terrier killed all my chickens!" received such a laugh.
      And it was here that we discovered the dead zone in our schedule. An hour of nobody that we wanted to see. We could've come an hour later and still seen our first 2 shows, if they'd only told us the schedule in advance. We picked The Tortuga Twins followed by the Bawdy Buccaneers, not knowing who either were.
      We arrived at the tiniest stage just as the Twins were to begin. "This is not a good sign," I said, as the audience was a mother and her 4 year old. Where was everyone (or anyone) else? The first half of the show was just the screaming performers trying to build their audience, which also implied bad word of mouth. This is why I chose the bench the farthest back, so we could bail.
      It was "audience participation," but not in the "clip clothespins to Zoltan's face" kind of way. They actually picked me to be Robin Hood on stage, and I firmly repeated "NO." I hate being the center of attention. You might be thinking, "Well, Mrs & Ms J both went on stage!" No, I made the right decision. It was more like audience humiliation. 3 people went up to basically be made uncomfortable while the 3 goofballs did their choreographed skit. Typical joke: "Would you like to know what forest Robin Hood went to?" "SURE WOULD!" And when no one laughed they explained it. We didn't laugh because we were too stupid to get it. We didn't laugh because it was stupid. However, the 4 year old boy really liked it.
      We went to the Bawdy Buccaneer show, accosted by a woman crying "Pet my tails! PLEASE pet my tails!" The show turned out to be the first one we came across, confused kids being told to wave cats by their tails. We left in even more disgust, and were instantly molested by a harpy shrieking "PET MY TAILS! PLEEEASE PET MY TAAAAILS!" Fuck you, harridan. Who knows who's been petting your tails? YOUR TAILS ARE WHORES.
      Since all 3 of our tiny asses were aching from the wooden benches we'd been sitting on all day, we wandered randomly and--SHORT LINE AT CHOCO-BACON! I got it really just to say that I ate some...chocolate...bac...crimeny, this line isn't moving at all, and there's a second line to go in to pick it up! Mrs J excused herself to go to the ladies' room (actually, the communal outhouse that traumatized her on her first visit--I wish she'd said something to me, as the Faire map had "Flush Toilets" clearly marked). It took a long time, so long that those are Jacque's hands in the bacon photo from yesterday. Everyone in line said "Chocolate bacon?" in varying degrees of amazement and repulsion.
      How'd it taste? Like chocolate with a vaguely smoky aftertaste. $5 for 2 fucking little strips. And about 90 minutes later, my stomach said "DON'T ever DO that!" If you ever run into John "Bacon on my Cat" Scalzi, tell him he'd be better off just wrapping bacon around the lil' sausages he finds in his litter box.
      I bought a sword-shaped letter opener, which in true Renaissance verisimilitude, was made in China. Marco Polo brought it over in his Spice Road caravan of Humvees.
      Our fave, the very obscene Poprah Show, started 10 minutes late, a fatal flaw in an improv show that lasts 30. Quite disappointing. It made us a tad late to Zoltan's Weird Show, his more sideshow-oriented material. There was a Jayna/Wonderfool show, which had never happened before, but Mrs J's narcolepsy was telling her to leave, so we passed on that.
      We talked in the parking lot--parking swamp, given the mud--about her feral situation. The barn's owner refuses to answer his phone or Jess' emails, and all she wants to do is offer him money to pay rent for her cats! I said to send him a psotcard--people automatically read those--and that if the bastard wants the cats put down, let him look them in the eyes and do it. No, she said, the last thing she wanted for this to happen to them was from someone who they'd never seen before. She says that there's nothing left for her to do but pray. We all ended in tears and desperate hugs. May it not end with Jess and Jacque's hearts as broken as my feral cat figurine. Figurines can be fixed.



      I did me an actual Cheezburger LOLCat, which I put here as it will surely (deservedly) disappear in the mists of the net:

      How many licks it take 2 get 2 center of Kitsy Pop?  999,999,999...1 billyun...1 billyun 1...

      "Don't write about what you know � write about what you're interested in. Don't write about yourself � you aren't as interesting as you think."--Tracy Chevalier
      Yowch! Ms Chevalier, you have destroyed the reason for blogs like this at their very source! Wait, no, the first part said...Oh, I'm all confused now. I should write about cats, just not my cats? She was talking about professional writers, not bloggers. I think I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.


      Hey, guess who left a Comment! Zoltan the Adequate!      A check on my hit counter showed what string alerted him to my post, which also had a YouTube of the "Jayna drops a bowling ball on a guy" trick. Except it was of another guy at a fair in Georgia. Jayna dropped the ball while hanging upside down by her feet on her silk ribbons, which is more impressive for her, but she dropped it at maybe half the height she dropped it on Zoltan from stilts. Also, that guy, while also on a bed of nails, had a big plastic mat between the plate and his body, so, y'know, not as nearly as impressive as what we saw.
       I found a video from the CT Ren Faire with Zoltan that Jayna uploaded just yesterday, and...holy cow, that's the performance we saw! It was "Doggie Dress-Up Day," and while you'll have trouble seeing it, her dog is in a shark suit. In fact, I believe that the brunette with a white hair clip seen from behind left is JACQUELINE!




      We have to put a sticker on every keg of beer that we sell, filled out with lots of information (it takes about 5 minutes to do, which is why you won't get a keg from us if you want one 10 minutes from closing). 3 logs (small kegs, like 30 gallons) of Sam Adams Octoberfest went to a local "senior community" (Old Fart's Home). I forgot to bring any tags to fill out. But their purpose is so that if anyone under 21 drinks your beer, the cops know who to arrest and the state knows who to fine. It was unlikely the geezer place had anyone under 21 drinking. They prly didn't have anyone with less than 21 ear hairs.
      They bought 3 small kegs because they didn't know how much they needed. Legally, we can't refund a keg once it leaves the store, for obvious health reasons--how does anyone know it wasn't tapped for a few beers? You bought it, you didn't use it, too damn bad. The Drunken Toddler was thrilled that I forgot the tags--he charged the senior center for an unused keg, and now he was going to pretend it never left the store and get full credit from the beer distributor that sold it to us! Thief.
      The saleman knew exactly what shenanigans DT was pulling, as DT's legendary in his assholiness. And that came out of the salesman's commission. To a coworker I said, "These salesmen do so much for us--especially him--that he shouldn't do shit like this." The coworker answered, "Yeah, it's not like we're some college kid trying to pull something!"
      Later a college kid came in, trying to return a keg for its $30 deposit. It had no tag (removing it's an actual misdeamenor), had no proof that it was his (we give them a receipt and keep a spare on file), he even gave us a different name on the phone than was on his license, so DT refused it.
      He then said "I think he was trying to pull something with that keg! I HATE when people do that!"
      Pot calling the kettle a black hole.



      Hey, someone took the worst earworm in the world and turned it into a music video!


      I don't know if it's supposed to be "ironic" that the video has no idea that a "kinky boot" is not a "low cut high heel," or if it's just made by an idiot.


      Jeez, I wish I hadn't posted that quote "Don't write about yourself - you aren't as interesting as you think." Now I triple guess everything I want to write about. For instance, I didn't write about:
      Of the 6 broadcast or online classical stations I listen to, 4 had pledge drives the same week! Which made them unlistenable (yes, I do contribute money). Of the only 2 that didn't, the online one was in Wisconsin, and the feed kept breaking up, and the broadcast one was on the other side of the state, so the signal was half static and they started their pledge drive 2 days before the other ones ended! Okay, yes, that wasn't worth sharing.
      I saw a bird ripping the flesh off a dead animal and thought, "If that's a crow, it's fucking HUGE!" And then it reared its ugly head, and I saw that it was some kind of buzzard. I didn't know they had those in Connecticut. I sure as fuck didn't know they had them a quarter mile from my condo. How was that? Okay, not as interesting as if it had tried to eat my face, but if it was, then I'd be dead, and who would be typing this? A buzzard using one of my fingers?
      DJ refuses to listen to reason, possibly because he knows about 3 words and "NO!" isn't the 4th, so he keeps trying to upset the stuff on top of my monitor and also me. So I brought out the big guns, by which I mean "gun" nonplural, which is also not big at all. It's a little squirt gun branded with the name "Solar Eclipse," a promo item from a long forgotten early 90s video game from an equally forgotten system (the 3DO, I think). I squirted him, and he seemed mildly startled. But he didn't get down, so he got another. He thought "Eh" and tried to climb the monitor, so he got a shot in the face, and boy he didn't like that CRAP! Stupid squirt gun just started leaking all over the place! Hopefully he remembers it, as it clearly won't hold water...for...long...
      Damn, I'm boring MYSELF.

      "Let's all go to the lobby, let's all go to the lobb-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!"


      Should I start all my paragraphs with "I saw a bird ripping the flesh off a dead animal"? Because I'll bet that got your attention.



      (Hey, Stupidest Things calendar, you're forgetting that proper names like "franklin" are capitalized)

      Gmail always had some odd search result thing at the top of my mail. Usually it involves spam, the scourge of email, conflated with SPAM, the scourge of meals. Right now it reads: "You can make a lovely hat out of previously-used aluminum foil." Umm...yes, one would assume, Google. How's yours fitting?

      I wish I had a scanner, so that I could show you the unexpected, hand-drawn Thank You card Mrs Jessica sent me today, for the food I gave her on Feral Cat Day. It's of the 4 feral kittens lost in that awful garage fire, with kitten blue eyes and halos and ascending the Rainbow Bridge. Hand-drawn but printed out--hopefully it means that I wasn't the only person who helped her. Not that I expected thanks--that's what friends do for friends in need.


      Speaking of Canada, it snowed yesterday, about a quarter inch. It's supposed to snow tomorrow, about half a foot. JOY.
      Who knows? The forecast changes every few hours. I suppose it goes without saying that we were busy with panic buyers, and when I deposited my paycheck in the grocery store ATM, every shopping cart was in use. I'll never understand that logic. This is Connecticut, not Donner's Pass.
      Most annoying, to me: the last Farmers' Market is Sunday, and it's either going to be cancelled, or have a lot of snow to slog through.

      The Apple Man is good without God.


      Well, that commute home wasn't any fun. Except for the "survived" part.
      Checking NOAA this morning at 10, they said that light snow would start around 8 and not get bad until midnight, with 4 to 8 inches. An hour later, they said it'd start before dawn Sunday, and leave 2 to 4.
      They were close, if just after noon and heavy and "12 to 18" counts. Thick, wet, gloppy and melting for a long time, as it wasn't that cold, but then switching to tiny flakes, which happens when the temperature drops. This is the accumulating kind, and means a layer of ice on the road surfaces. This is the type of storm that was inches away from killing me in a bad skid a few years ago.
      Of the 3 people who can close the store, 2 of whom live a few miles away, guess who was the only one working until closing. "Maybe you'll close early!" said a customer. I said, "This place could get hit by a meteorite and we'd stay open."
      It was busy from opening, and when the snow started early, it just got busier. Oh, did I mention that we were short 2 people? Once the snow began collecting into several inches of slush, it died off. You'd have to be crazy to come out in this weather!
      A customer's total came to $61.61, and he said that next month the date would be 11/11/11, "And that will be really important! It's never happened before!"
      I said, "Sure it has. A hundred years ago. Nothing happened then."
      "Wait, no it hasn't ever happened before!"
      "Yes, 11/11/1911."
      His eyes flitted from side to side, realizing that it had happened before. "Are you SURE nothing important happened? I wasn't there." Before I could answer "I minored in History," a coworker said "He was there! He's been reincarnated! Many times!"
      I forget what I said next, but it led to us being told that Jesus saves our souls so we're never dead, and our souls get reincarnated and blah blah blah for several minutes. I kept a polite but frozen "crazy people come out in this weather" smile. The coworker said "Way too much information!" And he left still babbling about reincarnation and Jesus. I said "I didn't know Jesus was a Hindu. Or that religion is a Chinese menu, when you get to choose Jesus from column A and reincarnation from column B."
      I was told that if business continued to drop off, to call the manager and ask if we could close early. Really?! Without an asteroid strike? And of course, it just got slower and slower. I looked around the plaza, and the parking lot was full of people leaving the Indian movie at the cinema, talking Hindi and taking pictures of each other in the early snow to send home to Mumbai, no doubt saying "Jesus has blessed us!"
      In 70 minutes we'd had 15 sales, meaning we were losing money by paying us to be there. The manager kicked it upstairs to the owner. Remarkably, he said "Close now." Well, maybe less remarkable, as their endlessly ringing and unanswered phone meant that our main store had clearly closed much earlier.
      It took 15 minutes to shut everything down, so I left only an hour early. I was expecting it to take that long to get home. It was a mess, the roads clearly plowed once hours earlier, probably 8 inches piled up outside of the tire ruts. I had to turn around in a darkened neighborhood, the squad cars surrounding the sparking and sputtering downed power line in the road. I got to see the flash of the transformer that exploded, plunging the bridge over the Connecticut River's west side into blackness. Unplowed everywhere, but I just stayed in the ruts. It hadn't become cold enough to freeze just yet (one degree above!).
      It took twice as long, but not as long as I'd thought. The last section of highway before my exit was blacked out, but amazingly, I had power at home. Amazing, as there was a giant tree limb in the driveway, with exactly enough space for me to squeeze the Fit through. Two small trees had collapsed completely under the weight of heavy, thick snow and branches of wet, dead leaves, with another huge branch at the end of the parking lot. The end with the Crazy Bitch who tried to run over Byron, but I didn't see her feet shriveling under it like a witch under Dorothy's house.
      Killsy ran to me quite agitated, looking from me to the window, and as I drew the shades I saw that many huge branches had fallen in the courtyard.
      (Byron just jumped in my lap for pets while I'm typing, and since he likes to stomp the keyboard, I reflexively saved this. And WHOA! power surge shut the computer down and briefly the lights. Better finish this)
      I wondered what was the sound that the branches had made upset Killsy. "crrrAACCKKK thump!"? But as DJ got his lap time and Ms Kays bathed, I heard shuuMMP. Bunch of snow, I thought, as she stared at the window, tongue still sticking out. Nope, a really big bunch of branches, falling right across the opposite building's wall, and near enough to have smashed a window. It's happened several times since, so I think I'll send this up while there's still power and proof it tmw.
      WHOA again! It just happened twice, so there's a big branch swinging on a power line near here, ready to take it out. Got the hurricane lamp the candles the flashlights ready, turned up the heat to 80, see ya tmw if I have power


      Amazingly, the power stayed on. And since they opened emergency shelters in town, I got lucky like I did with Irene.
      I went to throw out the trash this morning and found that I couldn't open the dumpster lid due to the foot of snow on top of it. Oh, and the 2 broken trees. I walked around the entire building to get my mail, as they haven't shoveled the direct routes yet. There are about 100 trees around the complex, and the only ones that hadn't lost multiple branches were the ones snapped at the trunk. I was also amazed at the amount of residents who pulled their cars into their empty garages after the storm ended.
      I took a mess of photos to show the destruction just in my backyard, but most of the photos were a mess. Last night, it was night, so those weren't too clear, and today, every time the wind blew I got smacked with slushballs from the few branches that didn't fall.
      You see the start of the pile here. Now imagine it stretching another hundred feet:


      About 12 hours earlier, I took a picture of the pile to the left of it. It was impressive, and it was one-quarter of its current size:


      The guy in the back was from the condo association, there to take pictures. I doubt they were for his blog.


      When I said "I lucked out like I did during Irene," I didn't know how true that was. A quarter mile from my house I entered the Dead Zone. The busiest part of town had no power. Every stop light was out for the 3 miles it took me to reach the highway. Which is no fun to drive in--the law says that you treat it as a stop sign, not pretend that it never existed, like the guy speeding towards you is doing. The highway traffic was like a Sunday afternoon, meaning the power was out in a lot of places. I didn't see a sign that it was on the whole way.
      "I'll bet the light at the end of the offramp is out," I thought, and it was. Like it never existed. It was physically gone. And I almost got hit by a person who acted like it never had been.
      Power lines were down everywhere. The cops blocked traffic on Saturday; Monday they either put up some cones or just left it there for you decide whether you wanted to risk electrocution driving under it. It occured to me that maybe I should've called work to make sure that we'd be open. But draw lines between the police station, the fire station, and the town hall, each side of that triangle is about a quarter mile, and in the middle is the store. And OH BOY WE'RE OPEN. Hu-fuckin'-zah.
      The only game in town, baby! Everywhere else, no power. You'd think that it'd mean a big rush of business for us, but on our corner was the only gas station with power. For about 15 miles. The line snaked around the plaza all day. One customer said it took him 2 & 1/2 hours to get gas. I noticed that every waiting car in line was running its engine. Crimeny, you could drive to fucking MANHATTAN in 2 & 1/2 hours! People are stupid.
      My boss, DT, had no power and claimed that "95% of the STATE has no power!" Well, closer to 25%, but still a lot. The governor made an address on the work radio (not our usual station, as that one was up the road and without power), telling us about how it was a really bad idea to go trick-or-treating in the dark with dead trees and live power lines everywhere, also fire stations will recharge your cell phones, and throw out any food that's gone bad, and also the cell phone towers are down, and also cell phones...Are we THAT addicted to the electronic teat that we can't go a day without a fucking cell phone?! Keep your landline!
      All the talk of cold and darkness made me paranoid, so I called home to make sure I had mine still. It was on when I left, but, y'know. A bit paranoid now.
      No, I wasn't expecting a cat to answer the phone. The only one with thumbs can't hear it ring. I was expecting the machine to pick up. It did not. Okay, umm, cat rampage unplugged it? I accidentally turned it off? I called Kev, who lives a quarter mile from me (there's that distance again!) and his machine picked up. Did he have power and I didn't, our did his landline redirect to his cell? Sorry, but the only likely explanation was No Power. I spent all day wondering what darkened icebox I was going home to.
      And all the stoplights for the 20 miles home were still dead. But the house was warm! The clock was right! The radio worked! THE POWER, SHE IS ON! The answering machine really was off through some unlikely turn of events! I turned on the computer and immediately saw the one variable I hadn't considered: the modem's DSL light blinking red. Power's on, phone's off.
      So, no internet. Of course, I wouldn't have it if the power was gone, with a host of more important problems on top of that. And if you're reading this, I have a phone line again. If I don't have a phone and you're reading this, you're READING MY MIND and should really stop that and go fight Magneto.
      Me, I'm off to do whatever old timey thing they did back in the days before there were phones. Either churn butter, fight Hessians, or watch a DVD.


      The 10/31 entry was written with every confidence that my phone would be back on soon. I couldn't report the outage, as my cell had no connection either. Tuesday I called on the work phone, as the cell tower visible from our front window was out. I got a voicemail on it (how did it know?) and it turned out that the number I called assumed that I had the same phone provider as the work line. Once home, it took me 3 hours to report it, as my cell kept disconnecting halfway through the options menu, and when I got a human being (just say "OPERATOR!" until you're connected to one), he had to keep calling back when I lost signal. Then I found out the news: Expect phone service in a week.
      A week...with NO INTERNET?
      That soured my mood. I said that I'd rather be without phone than power, until I remembered that in 25 years, the longest the power has ever been out here was 20 hours. It's usually back on in 2 to 8 hours. I'd be happy to lose power for 20 hours if it meant getting the phone back with it before 8 days passed.
      To my shock, the DSL came back today. Phone's still gone, but I have a cell phone, so don't care. I love you, Internet! Never leave me again!
      But when it wasn't for 2 days, what to do...Ha! I'll do what I did before the net, and play Civilization 2! I won't. Installation incompatible with Win7. But there are 32 games preinstalled on the computer! I won't. All but 5 require being online. So I played Solitaire, and a game you always lose really doesn't improve one's mood. The mall already had power, so the next day I'd go to Best Buy and get something. I won't. The power a quarter mile away is still off. This worries me, as I maybe have enough gas to get to work and back tomorrow, and so a drive to Best Buy was out. Places are open, so I have a contingency plan. LOOTING! No, go to a place on the way home that has some if it's still out here.
      Big places with generators have power. I went to Stop & Shop yesterday, and was pretty much alone. They hadn't turned the heat on. Every refrigerated section was wiped clean, maybe by panic buyers before the storm, but certainly from food being thrown out as it spoiled. Only 3 registers were open, but armies of employees were checking the expiration dates on what food was left.
      Then the power went off! GREAT. I called it in, smarting from my late calling in of the phone service, but they were turning it off to turn it on a quarter mile from here! they weren't. The stop lights work, that's it. Given how many of the businesses near me are small, I wonder how many will close forever after a week of no income.
      Where I really hope power comes on is the Drunken Toddler's town, because he's been making everyone he comes in contact with even more regretful of his existence than usual. Tuesday the Only Gas In Town's lines still snaked around the store, blocking 2 of the 5 entrances. Then the next town over opened some stations, and the line instantly dropped by 2/3s. That's when he decided to call about the line and the POLICE. Like they have nothing better to do than change his diapers. Amazingly, they sent an officer, and DT's entire reason he gave him was "IT'S NOT FAIR!" Seriously. Like a toddler would scream. Hey, drop to the floor and kick and wave your arms while you scream! Sadly, there was no Tasering.
      Well, I've got a lot of the world outside of my condo and job to catch up on. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow, too!


      I could see the sign for the Chinese restaraunt down the hill lit up, so clearly the street had power. Nice! Not because I needed some moo goo gai pan, but because it meant that the 3 gas stations by me finally had power. I had enough gas to get to work and back, with maybe a buffer of 10 miles. Not good enough, if I got caught in traffic either way, so I'd get some gas before work., I wouldn't. Everyone had power EXCEPT the gas stations. Okay, on 1 side of the road, there's a strip where no one had power. But on the Chinese restaraunt side, the gas station had no power, and was a hundred feet from from a car wash which did. "Oh boy, my car is nice and sparkly! Too bad it won't go nowhere."
      The Stop & Shop near work was on a generator, but they had gas (no lines!) and I needed to deposit my paycheck in their bank, so that worked out. Of course, when I got home, the stations had power. Things are normalizing.

      And at the job, as normal as they get. DT was "rearranging boxes" by the window (no, he was putting one of his many empty beer bottles in the returns) when he saw a kid lying down in our parking lot. This is not good, as people cut through the lot at high speeds all the time. He called to the kid, who just said he was tired. Then he saw a crime going down, and he called 911. Four officers and a dog turned up investigate the kid's dad, who was recharging his cell phone on our never-used outside outlet. Which he had asked us if he could use 2 days earlier. My Gourd! How many millijoules was this madman taking?! Nota bene: this is the same guy who yells if we turn the lights off in the stockroom when no one's in it.
      It ended with the exasperated police telling DT to calm down--you've never seen him in a drunken rage, but I'm surprised they didn't Tase him. Also, sorry that they didn't. At least arrest him for public drunkeness and filing a false complaint on 911.
      Okay, I'm not sorry. It happened after I left, and I sure would like to see that!



      As mentioned, I live a quarter mile west of the busiest road in town, and they didn't get power back until Friday. Saturday I emailed Kevin, who lives a quarter mile east of me. He still didn't have power! He wrote "For most of the storm, 91% of Vernon had been without power, up until about Wednesday...If I go to the CL&P outage map right now, it says that 45.22% of Vernon residents are without power." I was in this tiny half-mile strip of town that never lost power.
      He was also on vacation, although his job was without power until Thursday. And he has a big tank of tropical fish at home...which is probably still filled with fish, just not the moving kind. And I whined about losing DSL for a whopping 3 days!
      He added "CL&P is promising 99% up by Sunday at midnight. I'm just nervous that for the first time in my life I'll be a one percenter..." The power company has been promising "99% back" since Monday, and I'll bet that they say tomorrow "We've restored power to all but 1% of the state, which includes 20% of the people."

      Election Day is Tuesday. I got a flyer in the mail from the Vernon's (Republican) mayor, saying that it would go on as scheduled, despite "There a few [sic] issues of polling places that are not being opened or used for Election Day." The 6 polling places are now 2.
      If you normally vote at Rockville High School, like I do, vote at Center 375. If you normally vote at Center 375, vote at Northeast School. Wait, what? That doesn't make any sense! Oh, right, sure it does. Republicans are all about suppressing the vote. He's the incumbent, so he wants voters to get confused, then frustrated enough that they don't vote. If he loses, he'll challenge the results based on his decision to change the polling places. If he wins--Democrats are sore losers! Like in 2000, when the Gang of Five Supremes selected the president.
      I'll see you at Center 375 Tuesday, Mayor McCoy!

      Of course, I passed that onto the only other voters in Vernon that I know, Kev & his wife Meg. He emailed back:

      He's right. The site says that we vote at the usual places. Despite the flyer HAVING THAT URL RIGHT ON IT.
      What a STRANGE COINCIDENCE, Republican Mayor McCoy. Especially as you used MY MONEY to print and mail a flyer that on the other side has a big picture of you, telling me how awesome you are. What a STRANGE COINCIDENCE.


      The president of CT Light & Power's promise that "99% of the state will have power back by midnight Sunday" might as well have included "...and your own leprechaun slave!" in the deal. 30% of my town is still without power, and 50% of the town where I work is. Maybe he should've included "...and your own big, steaming bowl of haggis!" Then people might've been slightly grateful when it didn't happen.
      I left for work 5 minutes early, as I had no idea how the commute would go. Normally, it takes me 10 minutes from the highway exit to get to my job. Today it took over twice that to just get off the ramp, because one major stoplight was out. This is about 1/8th of a mile. I gave up and drove in the opposite direction, trying to catch an alternate route. But by that point, the ramp must've been so backed everyone was switching to that alternate. Irony: if I'd left not-early, I could've taken that route 20 minutes earlier. It was backed up exactly to the point when I couldn't change lanes.
      Now it's "97% of the state by Wednesday," when it'll magically become "90% by Saturday." Delivery drivers and salesman and me swapped war stories of the last week. The pizza place up the road, in the only fraction of town that had power, stopped selling pizza because they ran out of dough. Don't look at the menu, we'll tell you what you can buy.
      Of course, CL&P's president will be fired for his unbelievable incompetence. And when he's fired, they'll give him millions in "compensation" to make up for his hurt feelings. He laid off most of their line workers in order for him and his fellow 1% leeches to get multimillion dollar salaries, and he didn't call for help outside of the state until it was a disaster. He said last week, in essence, "We told the out of state crews to fix lines in states that weren't as hard hit, because that's easier." Hey, if he's ever on fire and I have a bucket of water, I'm saying "Oh, wait, this guy's just thirsty! It'd be easier to take care of him first. No, no, my friend, he's only on fire. Slow down and take little sips, you don't want to get the hiccups!"


      I apologize, Mayor McCoy! Seems that you're not running. Instead, the Republican candidate is named Apel. His slogan is "Ready, Willing and APEL!" That's reason enough not to vote for him.

      I know that this says "Batman," but click on it anyway. You'll know why within seconds. And it's a great pastiche!


      On the other hand, I double-Deuteronomy-dare you to make it through all 4 minutes of this. It is an affront to the name of Dawn!




      Well, congratulations to Ready Willing and Apel for winning the election with a massive outpouring of support. Like 38% of the vote. There were 2 "petitioning candidates" of no known affiliation on the ballot, so maybe that's why he won. On the other hand, that article includes this:      Ready Willing and Apel to Suppress the Vote. Oh, Republicans! You're such scamps!

      Gmail decided Monday that I had to use the html version, claiming my browser was too old. As of Monday? What, was it its birthday?
      Firefox has been bugging me to upgrade, so yesterday night I did. Version 8.0, it's really up that high? And today I truly upgraded: back to v3.6.
      v.8 gave me the "No" circle on every web page. I thought it was the pop-up blocker, but 4 or more times? On every page? Even after it'd fully loaded? And it wasn't letting me manually open any pop-up menus that I did want. And wouldn't even after I turned the blocker off. Oh, and Gmail still kept only working in html mode. Also, it was ugly and its mom dressed it funny.
      Not that I'm such a technical whiz that I could've figured out what was going on. My DSL came back on Thursday, but I still had no landline. I then realized that the first thing the help desker did was to tell me to take the splitter out and plug the modem directly into the wall. So, yeah, phones don't work not plugged in.

      Our freakish "30 inches of snow in 12 hours" storm has been followed by freakishly beautiful and warm weather, so I went for my last hike in the woods. For a while. A short while. Branches down everywhere, except for where the whole tree was down. There wasn't any real way in without a machete, and I'm sure that the trails won't be cleared until the spring.

      Mr Brian Eno will be on The Colbert Report Thursday, if you are so inclined.

      Brain One's article on bizarre instruments. The "Telharmonium" sounded like something Eno made up:

      But, yeah, it really existed. It played over an entire town's phones.




      After failing to quickly restore power after the tropical storm, CT Light & Power had an even more epic fail in the snowstorm. They laid off workers before it, they weren't prepared, they sent crews to less-effected states (apparently a violation of federal law), took days to request out-of-state crews, missed two self-imposed deadlines on power restoration, even blamed it all on the weather forecasters (apparently their prediction of "massive power outages" the day before the storm wasn't specific enough). But now, they prove their worth:      Schweeeeet! Hardest hit are 2 towns next to mine, and one next to my job, which shares that same road where a single dead stoplight added 30 minutes to my Monday commute. But on the other end this time, so maybe it won't make tomorrow's ride awful. They certainly can't claim they have no crews, as I've seen caravans from as far as Texas here.
      And there will be high winds tomorrow, so many more outages will occur. Just seconds after getting home, another huge branch fell in my backyard.
      If I was a power company executive, I'd wear a disguise in public, and be planning my escape to Argentina. Or have restored the honor of my family by committing ritual seppuku.

      And I turned on Firefox and IT DIDN'T WORK. All the modem lights were on, so it's not the DSL. I figured it out really quickly. Every page defaulted to that obnoxious " can't find this" page. I hate that thing. I turned AVG off, and bang, working again. And it was nothing to do with reinstalling Firefox yesterday, as Explorer did the same thing. I suppose the ultimate protection against a virus is not to be able to get online.

      What, is this YouTube week or something? Guess so!


      The Kitten Covers. Oh, just click it already!


      Brian Eno on Colbert. I'd embed it, but it autoplays. Click on the link at the video's end for a singalong with some guy named Stipe.

      There's a brief mention of Eno's participation in The Long Now project. Here's the story behind the 10,000 Year Clock.

      In the 70s, Eno was in the forefront of tape manipulation using multiple playbacks. But it evolved first as Musique Concrete in the late 1940s, and an avant garde classical show I heard earlier today played "Symphony of the Birds," made in the 1950s. Miss Killsy found it both soothing and fascinating, as it's entirely made of bird calls. Here's the first of its 3 movements on YouTube (just listen, there's no real video):


      If you'd like to hear some early tape music and read a tiny bit of its history, by utter coincidence WFMU has an article today: When Tapes Were New: Listening to Ussachevsky & Luening's 1952 "Tape Music". "Before laptop performances, computer composition, even synthesizers, became de rigueur in the music world, there was the tape. Specifically, the cumbersome, complex world of reel-to-reel magnetic tapes, with which some of the most astounding musical innovations were realized." Quite tame music to contemporary ears, but...well, fascinating and soothing.
      If you just want to hear the album:
      Side One
      Side Two




      Sorry, not much to talk about the last coupla days. Outside of "Don't rent Green Lantern," probably the worst superhero movie since Batman & Robin 20 years ago. However, to update:
      A month ago, Jessica was beside herself with anger and dread involving the feral colony that the guy who owned the barn they were in wanted shut down. The cats would be put to death. She sent him many requests, including letters, and he ignored them all. And now, he's apparently ignoring her care of the colony! Maybe he realized what his home's rodent infestation would be like with the cats gone. Good news!
      And she's back volunteering at a no-kill shelter again. I knew she couldn't keep away! Loving cats is what she does.      Like me, she also survived OctSnowber by being the only part of her town that never lost power.



      I bought 2 weeks worth of groceries because I don't want to be in a grocery store the week of Thanksgiving!
      I put air in my tires because my car told me to--HOW DOES IT KNOW?
      I got my mail in the rain, so I wore my long black duster and sexy Aussie hat! (ladies)
      I haven't written anything in a week because I have
      And I made a salad and it was very...salady? That work for you?


      Today I have something to write about!
      And I wish I didn't.
      It was going to simply be "If you liked that Batman/Space Ghost cartoon, rent The Brave & the Bold from Netflix.� Unlike too many superhero cartoons, it doesn't take itself at all seriously. An episode featuring BatMite turned into a tribute to the greatest Looney Tune ever, The Great Piggy Bank Robbery with "Duck Twacy."
      Also, a driver asked DT about the "guy stealing your power" after the storm. DT claimed that "There were--THIRTEEN PEOPLE standing in line to steal our power before storm Irene!" Really? Before the storm and the power outages, people chose to stand outside our store IN A LINE, rather than, I dunno, do it at home? What's weird isn't that he just makes shit up on the spot, but that after a while, he believes it himself.
      "And I wish I didn't...�: DJ apparently found a new way to abuse his siblings. Both Killsy and Byron had scabs under their jaws 10 days ago. But Killsy's healed, and Byron's hasn't. Between yesterday and today, the flesh of his chin has swollen. It doesn't seem to bother him, unless I try to touch it, and there are certain spots he hates having touched. He eats normally, and currently is sleeping with it on his paws. But is it infected?
      Of course, when he goes to the vet, he Hulks out and turns in the Tasmanian Devil, trying to kill as many people as he can reach. Any other
      Okay, he just woke up and turned around before going back to sleep, his chin resting on a hard surface. It's not an emergency...yet.
      Any other cat in the family would've gone to the vet and been back today. This guy! He needs anaesthesia beforehand. The earliest they can do that is Monday. Which will require me getting to work a half hour late. But even DT appreciates health emergencies, even among cats (he has one), so I think we can work something out, schedule-wise. And I'll spend the next several days fretting about my Bigfoot Boy.
      I love to just look at my cats. Her ivory fur and emerald eyes; the redhead with the clementine eyes; he with the Brobdignagian feet and Herculean jaw. Good that I'm a fan of that jaw, because otherwise, I might not have noticed its increased size.


      He's sleeping directly on his jaw and the scab. So it's not an emergency...yet.


      While his inflated jaw still doesn't seem to bother Mr Byron, it currently looks like the chin of Popeye.


      Byron turned over to sleep, and this picture was taken quickly. As the perpetrator of the attack was ready to awaken him:


      You can pretty clearly see the bite pattern there. I thought sleeping in that odd position meant that his likely abcess was starting to hurt, but then he rolled over and plopped his damaged chin right down and went back to sleep.



      Vet Visit: T-Minus 32 Hours and Counting...



      No food or water after 8PM for Byron. Which meant no food or water for anybody. I went to bed early, as I began angsting through the Worst Case Scenarios for his vet visit. Jess and her then-future husband Ron had taken their respective cats to be neutered, and both ended up racing to the emergency room when they reacted terribly to the sedation. Marjoriam and Bogart had undiagnosed heart problems, and would likely have died if not for their prompt actions.
      I left the bedroom door shut, to prevent cats jumping on me all night wanting food. Instead, around 2AM Byron began a program of loudly scratching at the door, howling outside it, and throwing himself bodily against it. His seperation anxieties again, no doubt, which is why he has to be sedated for vet visits now.
      I dropped him off, finding myself tongue-tied with my own anxiety. My hands were shaking when I got to work. The vet was to call me before anything was done, but I called them an hour after the time they were supposed to call. Byron had only just been sedated--wait, they left him cowering in the carrier for almost 3 hours? We'll have a discussion about that the next time this comes up. But I got a call back quickly. EPIC WIN to Ernst in the Comments: He was right, it wasn't an abscess, but feline acne. The swelling and the fur matted with dried blood was likely from him scratching it too hard. He asked if I'd changed his food or bowls recently. I said no, but later thought that Killsy's onset of a milder case came after I'd shared a bit of rotisserie chicken with them, as I'd done many times. Byron ate the most, so maybe they changed the ingredients?
      The family is home, if not together. Byron has been staring silently through his dilated pupils for over 2 hours, and anytime he nears his siblings, they hiss. The vet put a raggedy towel in his carrier for him to sleep on, and when I saw it, I thought GREAT he'll smell like a vet's office all over now.
      He got an antibiotic injection. I told the vet to do whatever else he could while Bigfoot was under, so there was some blood work and his first thorough check, neutering 8 years ago, I think. And I will have to bring him back: his teeth need cleaning, and they want to remove that bizarre lump on his belly. Total estimate for all of this: $1100. I really hope that my ASPCA pet insurance absorbs some of it. That's like a month's expenses. If they don't, well, time to look into a new insurance plan. But a month's expenses is nothing compared to my Bigfoot's health.
      Just wish the other cats would stop staring at him like he's evil, when all he's done is sit and stare, trippin' balls.


      Byron just sat around staring all last night. If his eyes were any more dilated, his pupils would've come out his ears. But the other cats continued to hiss and growl at him, especially DJ. DJ has never hissed or growled in his life, but he did it every time he neared Byron. The problem was that it was DJ who kept going up to Byron to snarl "I hate you!" like a middle school bully.
      Okay, this always happens when a cat Smells Like Vet Spirit. So I did the usual trick: I rubbed Bigfoot's cheeks, then stroked his body to get his own smell on him again. No use! Still DJ growling!
      I took the towel that was in the carrier with him out. To me, it smelled like drier sheets and fabric softener. It had clearly been well-laundered, so the only other smell would've been Byron's. DJ sniffed it completely, mouth open in amazement, but the hostility on his part continued. I gave up and went to bed.
      And things were just as bad in the morning! Killsy just stayed out of their way, but DJ continued to be aggressive. When I got back from work--same thing. Worse, maybe, as I could track the path of destruction that was clearly DJ chasing Byron. I had to pull him away from harassing him. Byron's exiled himself to the highest, furthest corner of the room.
      I don't get it. This has never lasted more than hours, and I'm wondering if I'll wake up to it tomorrow. Any ideas, LTRotD, as to why this is happening, or what to do? Did DJ see that 8.5 hours Byron was gone to forget their life-long friendship and seize the throne? (Good luck, if so; KK's the boss) Is the 2-week antibiotic changing his scent? Killsy's just avoiding them both, so I have no idea if she's still bothered by B at all.
      What I'll be thankful for this week is a return to the feline status quo.


      Things aren't good, but they're better.
      Byron remains in self-imposed exile. I've been home 3 hours, and he hasn't come down from his personal aerie. On the plus side, DJ only once invaded his space, and it was B who did the snarling. Killsy remains away from the fray, except to give DJ a good and well-deserved asskicking.
      What we need is tomorrow, when I can be here for most of the day supervising. I'm a bit more optimistic since Jessica told me that BFFs Major and Bogart would be hostile for a few days after a vet visit. And less sanguine when Kitsplut told me it once went on for 10 days between her cats after a tooth extraction. Byron's going to the vet again, and a full dental cleaning is on the agenda...with the estimate listing "extraction" as a possibility.



      Things became so bad between Byron and DJ on Weds--all on DJ's side, as he still would get an inch from the baffled B's face and shriek "I HATE YOU, GO DIE!" over and over--that I locked him in the bedroom for an hour. Byron came down from the highest, furthest corner of the room, his Fortress of Bigfootitiude. To eat, drink and go to the bathroom. He ate half a bowl of kibble, so gourd only knows how long it had been since he'd eaten.
      DJ slept with me all night, leaving Byron alone. And he awoke and realized that DJ now stood for Dumb Jerk, accepted Byron as Byron, and went to make amends.
      By getting an inch from his face. Since he'd spent 2 solid days in Byron's grill threatening murder, it was Byron's turn to growl and howl. If that middle school bully who beat you every day suddenly said "I'm sorry, let's be friends" would you ever believe him? And, since Deej is as bright as a brown dwarf star and nearly as dense, he demonstrated the definition of insanity by doing it ALL DAY. All he had to do is leave the guy his space until Byron came to him, but some cats are Einsteins, and some came with pre-formed lobotomies.
      Speaking of Einsteins...Ms Killsy had wisely sat out the feud between the Catfields and the McBoys by staying under the living room coffee table. But even she reached her limits, and said to DJ "Let me show you how to win friends and influence cats, Mr Dale anti-Carnegie." Byron was on one end of the bookcase, so she laid quietly down a foot away from him, just gazing at him, giving him his space. DJ jumped up and laid next to her. He was learning.
      Learning to stay an IDIOT. After 5 minutes, back in his face, B screaming and hissing. Killsy gave up, and so did I. I went to Thanksgiving dinner, had fun and much food. But of course, I had to work Friday very early, and it was already 730PM, so I took my leave during dessert. And discovered on the drive home that I was wearing that "Atomic clock radio watch" that was 75% off because it doesn't reset itself at the end of Daylight Savings, and the manual's instructions to do so are completely wrong, so it was really 630. Okay, fine, I needed to see what was going on with the kids.
      Nothin' good! "Maybe if I get an inch from his face again, things will be back to normal!" A squirt gun was deployed. I hoped when I went to bed that things would get 4AM CRASH! "GROOOOWWWLL! HISSSSSS!!!" okay, they didn't. And worse when I got back from work. Byron now seethed with hate if DJ got within 5 feet of him, and that was with DJ on the floor, and he a yard up on the bookcase. And, man, did he inhale that wet food I gave him. So, throwing my hands in the air, I put a litter box and food & water bowls into the bedroom. DJ will be spending his time in there, probably from Friday night through Sunday AM. Since he has all the comforts of home, and spent his first week here there, he should be fine.
      Will it work? How the hell do I know? Byron's as relaxed as he's been since I got home, but not leaving his part of the bookshelf. Maybe he'll only be happy if DJ stays in the bedroom forever.
      I'm really at wits' end here. And KK doesn't like being in the middle.
      I'm also going to postpone Byron's next vet visit. He's not going in 3 weeks. At this point, he may still be crazy in 3 weeks. And there's no point in refueling that, just for a teeth cleaning and the removal of an inert lump that hasn't changed shape in 4 years.

      Oh, for these halcyon days to return!




      DJ spent about 16 hours in the bedroom. He was very happy when I was in there, sleeping. He snuggled up to me all night, awakening only to purr himself back to sleep, just as it was his first week here as a kitten. Being alone he didn't care for too much.
      Byron was in good spirits this morning--until DJ came out. He ran to the bookshelf. DJ wisely (for once) went up to Killsy and groomed her. It was "Lick lick, meaningful look at Byron, repeat." He seemed to be trying to signal Byron that he wanted to groom him, too. Alas, twas not to be--the growling, the howling. I put him in the bedroom for the next 11 hours when I was at work, then let him out.
      There's still hissing and that horrible growl of Byron's that ends in a loud, long snort, the sound one would normally attach to an enraged bull about to charge. But Deej is keeping his distance for the most part, while B watches him with interest, but not anger. Progress. He'll be locked in bed with me again tonight, and I won't be leaving the house tomorrow for more than 10 minutes, so that I can supervise.
      In January when Bigfoot goes to the vet again, I think "lock DJ up as soon as he gets home" is the best idea.


      Things are better between the boys today. Note that "better" and "normal" are mutually exclusive concepts. DJ almost kinda sorta seems to be starting to begin to vaguely understand that if Byron's not snarling, it doesn't mean "Come here and give me a hug, you big lug!" but "You keep your distance, punk." Bigfoot even allowed DJ to receive pets in my lap, just a foot away from where he was lying. If I had tomorrow off, I'll bet that I could cement this. DJ will sleep with me behind closed doors tonight, then run free when I'm at work. If things still are crazy then, it's time for professional help, and an email to Pammy at Way of Cats.

      One of Byron's favorite things is stampeding onto the desk in the bedroom, where I have Stuff. That he knocks off it. As a distraction for DJ, I pulled it out. I found $1.46 in loose change. Several old pins, mainly political ones from the 60s my Democratic Town Chairman dad gave me, most of Johnson and Nixon (I wore "Nixon's the One!" during the Watergate hearings, which straddled the border between wearing it "ironically" and "accurately"), but also some from c. 1978/80, namely "P.i.L" and "Tubeway Army" (at least one LTRotD immediately named their respective lead singers from memory just now). A wine club flyer from my last job, dated November 1998, the exact month I stumbled into that doomed internet romance with GroovyGirl. And lots of dust. Other dust from the past.

      Scalzi tweets the Lord of the Rings movies.


      Killsy just ran back into the room after a brief and failed peacemaking mission to Byron and DJ. Yes, it's still going on after a week. I've emailed Pammy at Way of Cats because, what the hell else is left? Why is "normal" too much to ask for?

      The store's bank just moved, which is good news for me. As my bank is next door, so after doing the store's banking, I can do my own (on the clock; shh, don't tell anyone). It's bigger, but they consolidated 3 branches into one and yet kept the same amount of tellers for 3 times the customers. "A machine now counts the money. It's so much faster!" said the teller from the old branch. But half the tellers have never used the program, so it actually takes longer. Oh, and the ATM wasn't working, so even longer lines. For a while, the news will not be as good as I thought. Although I am getting paid to stand there stifling yawns.

      I've started reading the anthology "Crafty Cat Crimes." At 100 stories, 600 pages and a cost of one dollar, it'd be hard to not get my money's worth. But I'd get better bang for my literal buck if I'd been one of the 2 editors. What did they do, count and make sure there were a hundred stories, then go to a bar? Almost every page has typos. It's distracting to mentally blue pencil my way through a 4 page story. If I wanted that, I've got the internet. Did Barnes & Noble decide that commas weren't always necessary, and that it used too much ink to put a question mark and the end of every question, so they repeatedly went with periods?
      The book's previous owner inked in his/her own corrections, such as putting an "a" in the sentence about a family "that had just come back from a vocation." (Maybe the family spent 2 weeks relaxing at DeVry) Then I saw that a word had been blotted out, and the word was "OD." How odd! Then I saw another word inked over, the first in the sentence, with the next word capitalized as if the first never occured. The word was "God." Used in the OMG sense. I flipped back and saw that "OD" was also God, but the reader had placed a Christmas sticker over the enlarged "G". In between the 2 insufficently reverential references to Y-H was the word "bitch." That was apparently okay.
      It must have really sucked if you were a contributing author to this book and then saw the semi-finished product. "But I know when to use a period! No one goes on 'vocation'! ARRGGH!" Best story so far was the first, narrated by a cat in an alternate universe where the Scots won Culloden and Sherlock Holmes vampires evil pretender to the throne Victoria Dracula's cat did that need commas. In 4 pages.

      Spam from "Jon Carroll, the semi-famous columnist. We must be acquainted or what would your name be doing in my address book? Greetings!"


      I wrote to Pammy about the Byron/DJ impasse, and she suggested that I butter them up. Literally. Put butter on them. So they'd smell the same. I replied that that was the likely cause of this, but we're now in our second week of hostage negotiaitons. She said, as others have, to quarantine DJ from Byron for a while. With DJ in the bedroom, Byron immediately jumped purring into my lap. But will this be the fix? How long must they be kept apart? To make Byron happy, must I make DJ unhappy? And vice versa, once I go to bed with my little redhead?
      The sequestering lasted until 2AM, when the dreaded Byron Siren went off outside the door. The only way to stop it is to make the door the opposite of what it currently is, either closing an open one or opening a closed one. Of course, DJ was right there with me, and Byron bolted. I left the door open and went back to bed, knowing DJ would stay with me all night.
      In the morning...where was Byron? Nowhere! I was about to put DJ back in the bedroom, when I realized that DJ had been with me in the bathroom, so B must be hiding in the bedroom. There wasn't any other place left. Locking them together would be, umm, counterproductive. I left the door open.
      When I came home...Where was BYRON?! NOWHERE! I searched and searched, then began imploring Killsy to show me where he was. To my amazement, DJ walked into the living room, glancing over his shoulder for me to follow, then pointed like a birddog at the right stereo speaker. "He can't be back there! There's no room!" But he was, wedged in a tiny space behind the bookcase. Well, that explains why that speaker stopped working yesterday.
      I thanked DJ for his wonderful help, then aplogized as I shut him in the bedroom. It took Byron 10 minutes to feel safe enough to climb on the bookcase, another 30 to come into the main room. And he's as happy as can be. And DJ isn't, mewing and clawing behind the door.
      I don't know what to do, but leaving DJ in there for a few days is the only thing that hasn't been truly tried. BTW: this really sucks. If I want ridiculous overreactions to minor instances, I'll go to my job.


      The thing that keeps me going at my crazy job is the thought that I'm going home to my happy family.
      I don't have a happy family anymore. If things don't get better, well, then one of the cats will have to be unhappy all the time.
      I'm sick of this situation. I'm sick of typing about it. I'm sick at heart over it.


      By the time I got home tonight, DJ had been in the Bastille for 48 hours. I even locked him in the bathroom this morning while I showered and shaved. That door's never shut, as I live alone, and whoa did it get oppresively humid after a 5 minute shower! I felt like I was in one of those old sci-fi stories set on the dinosaur-infested swamp planet Venus (minus the dinosaurs).
      At work, I decided that if he's staying in the bedroom all the time I'm at work and all the time I'm asleep, then Byron's just going to have to make the Big Sacrifice and deal with me letting him run free the paltry 4-6 hours of awake free time I have each workday.
      DJ was ecstatic, running around and playing and licking Kill Kill. He avoided Byron, except to quietly stare at him from 10 feet away. He's learned to give Bigfoot his space. Between that and his answering of the question "Where's Byron?" the other day--maybe I should stop calling him dumb.
      Byron has lurked under chairs around me, but has growled only once. I think Killsy's constant companionship with DJ today may be making an impression. May it stick!

      The oldies station that we've played at work for 8 years decided to go 24/7 Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. If you work retail long enough, you hate Christmas music. Xmas is not to be enjoyed, it is to be survived. Two other stations also went all Xmas, but I found an inoffensive one that only started playing Xmas music today, about 4 songs over my 7 hour shift. I can tolerate that.
      I think the oldies station is using it as a ruse to change their format when Xmas is over. They ran ads announcing what music they'd play in a month, and instead of mid-60s/70s/80s, it was all mid-70s/80s. Can't blame 'em. The older the demographic, the less interested advertisers are in it (because you've learned not to buy stupid shit on a whim because some voice told you to). Their ads are all diets, insurance and debt reduction. A 4 minute block of ads will have 2 ads immediately repeated. Desperation!
      The new station plays music from the 60s through the 10s, and has an endless variety of ads, so I guess they make money. I had to look up the Taco Bell Triple Steak Stack because the ads weren't making it clear what it was, besides all steaky. It's...unusual looking. Disgusting and sloppy looking, too, but we are talking the Bell here. I do like their ad line: "Triple the juicy! Triple the tender! Triple the steak!" Wait, they left out "Triple the bypass"!

      For no reason beyond "My mind wanders during the commute home," I thought about that news from 3 months ago, "Lucas to fix Return of the Jedi by making Ewok eyes blink." Good idea! That's why everyone hated Ewoks, their not-blinking eyes! They were too close to the same unblinking stare of horror everyone above the age of 12 has when watching Jedi for the first time.
      He should fix Jar Jar, too! Do you know why everyone hated him? He had no giant handlebar mustache. It should glisten in the sun from its mustache wax. Also, didn't we all wish we could know what Jar Jar smelled like? George, bring back Smell-O-Vision! I'm guessing that Jar Jar smells like a day-old bucket of chum and a broken septic tank, with a hint of Axe body spray.
      Someone else came with better solutions than mine to "improve" the Trilogies: The Madness of King George: Blinking Ewoks and Star Wars Changes No-One Wants

      After lurking about, Byron jumped into my lap for a 15 minute session of pets, just like the old days (10 days ago). He purred loudly, even with DJ within his vision. Has the corner been turned? Then DJ decided "YES IT HAS!" and took a "Let's Play!" swipe at him, and, yeah, it was about as welcome as a surprise visit from Jar Jar while showering. Now he's back to playing with his sister, who may just be trying to lead Byron by example. May it stick!


      Speaking of Christmas, here's the new seasonal tradition that's always worth celebrating: Kirk's updated-daily Javadent Calendar of little games and whimsies!



      It's back and forth on the home front. One day, Byron's cranky, the next near-violently crabby, the next next kinda "Hiss. Sorry, that's all I've got. ZZZ"
      Locking DJ in when I'm at work and then giving him free rein when I'm home seems to be helping. Especially as DJ doesn't really mind being in the bedroom. Killsy or Byron would freak out if they saw me prepping the room for a return to solitary, as I did this morning, while Deej just wandered in after me, checked his amenities, and kinda shrugged. Didn't make a peep of protest when I brought him into his cell for the next 10 hours. Not that he didn't burst out of the door as soon as he could squeeze his body through the tiniest of openings, though.

      You may remember one of the shortest of the InExObs, of my Borg bathroom scale with the line "Dieting is Futile! Lunch will be assimilated into your thighs!"
      I got it at the Salvation Army, and always wondered how old it was. 1961, apparently--it's the one top left, except white with gold sparkles. Every 3 months I go to the doctor, and I always weigh myself while waiting to see how accurate my scale is. After 50 years--exactly accurate. I remember my parents ditching their old analog scale when they moved to Vermont for a digital one. It took about 5 years before it would register my weight as randomly being between 15 and 300 pounds.



      It's the 2 week anniversary of Byron's trip to the vet, and things are still not normal. I assume now that they never will be. At least he's in sight, not hiding behind the stereo speaker.

      Doing the store's banking in the store's truck, I noticed that someone had squished a spider on the dashboard. It was glued there by its evaporated body fluids. Odd that someone would hate spiders enough to smash it flat, and then just leave it there. I drove for a while, and then it reanimated and scurried into an air vent. Amazing that it had evolved a way not only to make itself look squashed dead to its predators, but also to look dessicated enough that scavengers couldn't be bothered to eat its withered noncorpse.







      On the commute to work yesterday, I had the defroster running, which also meant that I got every lovely stink on the highway in my car. Chirst, what is this smell, sewage?
      There was a tanker truck ahead of me, so, yeah, probably from a septic service. No, wait, it says "Technical Animal Fat - Not For Human Food Use." I think the last part was to prevent people from sucking it right from the hose.
      What technical use is there for animal fat? Lubing transistors? Filling wrist gel pads? Hosing down rioting programmers? I don't know. One Google result says "pet food" and another "technical uses, like soap." Because when I think high tech, I think me of a bar of Lifebuoy.

      My drive today was longer and rainier but less stinky, as I was meeting the splendiferous Mrs Jessica for brunch. She took a big bag with a cat wand sticking out of it from her Jeep, and I thought Crap, she got me Christmas presents! And just yesterday I decided not to order her a Cat-a-Day calendar along with mine, just because I didn't want her to feel obligated to get me anything.
      She gave me the book "Mutts Shelter Stories," from the sweet and heartwarming comic strip. She once told me that she wasn't reading it because "It isn't funny," but I wonder if that was a clever ruse to distract me. And a bag of cat treats and a--box of Fancy Feast. I was about to hand it back to her as soon as she handed it me, until I realized it weighed next to nothing. I knew it was one of her handmade cat statues--oh wow, it's my favorite one, after the one she did of my kids, that cat mom on a dresser with 2 sleepy kittens in a drawer inside! She'd taken the pic down from her site, but maybe she still has her copies, which I will post here. And she's getting more sales, and even a commission! From a crazy cat man like me. He chose her after she posted on her Flickr set the commissions she's already done, so you two with the Sailor Kitty and Dr Boo figurines helped her close the deal.
      Most of our conversation was about Byron. She thinks something physical happened to Bigfoot at the vet, and he still doesn't feel good. I think something happened psychologically to him. But I don't manage feral colonies like she does. She convinced me to not cancel Byron's upcoming vet visit, and maybe even move it up. As to her situation with her feral colony in that guy's barn, the cats he wanted her to take away and murder--for once, no news is good news. She still feeds them; another caregiver he yells at not to, because trust me: no sane person wants to face the Force of Nature that is the Wrath of Jess. Don't Mess With Jess! The 50 year old colony, under her management, has gone from 30 cats to just 8. She spays/neuters the adults and rescues/socializes the kittens for adoption at PetSmart. In theory, the colony may one day have a population of zero. Did the barn owner's Grinchy heart grow 3 sizes? No. He's ignored every attempt at contact she's had with him, but he began his planned pussycat pogrom by pleading for no publicity. Which she naturally was going to give him--she'd bring Alley Cat Allies in, and contact local media. That's why he wanted her to do his dirty work.
      After our meal, where we were given gravy and grits despite us both asking to Please Not, I said "Merry Christmas" lamely and paid for it. Yep, put a lot of thought into THAT gift. We went to an antique store I'd never been in before. Looked tiny from the outside, but all TARDISy inside. Lots of awesome stuff that was awesomely awesome until we saw the ridiculous prices. This is why I do not now own "CONSULT THE CALCULATING MONKEY." You point his feet at numbers, and he multiplies them out by where his hand points. Or that set of 2 pins from the 1939 World's Fair Westinghouse exhibit, "I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE" and that crazy robot Elektro. Things they don't name that way anymore: A bottle of gin named "Gayoso" and a childrens' book titled "Queerie Queers."
      Here's a pic of the $45 1939 pins with 3 others that makes me very sad: Winning eBay bid $15.51. Ouch! Only Calculating Monkey understands my pain! Pass me the gin!


      Two things we saw yesterday that I strangely forgot to mention:
      An object that one might call inexplicable, a piggy bank. The piggy was Hitler. Umm, okay. Maybe once you saved up enough 1942 pennies to buy War Bonds, you could get some catharsis by smashing it to shit.
      The ever-scintillating Jess found a book titled "Simple Surgery and Bandaging," from the 1920s or earlier. She opened it to a random page and read aloud "Removing the Uretha and Bladder. Slit the penis from base to head and pull the skin apart. Then take the knife and..." Every man reading this just involuntarily crossed his legs, didn't he?

      You don't need to read this on whatever you use to read Twitters (I have no idea, obviously), but Real Time WWII is amazing. World War Two as it happened in real time in 1939. Currently largely dealing with Stalin's invasion of Finland, a forgotten pivotal point of the war. (The Russians got so beaten up by a tiny country that they reorganized their army, just in time for that piggy bank guy to invade--and for him to lose the war)




      Giving DJ free reign hasn't helped the Byron Situation. I've barely seen the bigfoot boy all week. When I found him today, in his latest illogical location, he wolfed (lioned?) down some Friskies with such a fierce hunger that I locked the redhead in the bedroom. And now Mr B is his old self again, running and eating and purring in my lap for long as the door's closed. Much as I treasure feral cat manager Jessie's opinion, I still think that this is a psychological problem. As how to address it...umm, no idea. Besides giving away a cat, and we all know that ain't happening. Ever, as long as I'm alive.



      "In order to drive out Occupy Hartford, the city assembled a paramilitary force sufficient to repel an invading army of orcs armed with grenade launchers. Every available patrol car, plus cops on horses, plus cops in riot gear, plus a special G66 Tactical Garbage Truck were needed to handle the threat posed by 15 vegetarians with sinus infections."

      Once a week, I hear Garrison Keillor read The Writer's Almanac on Wisconsin Public Radio online (it's daily, but I work for a living and aren't home). It's a truncated version of the website; a poem and some anecdotes about authors on their birthdays. Today, it features my mother's cousin Tom:

      Interestingly, his life-long friend got the next entry, as they share birthdays. Oddly, it leaves out the reason the Irish side of my family emigrated: the ancestor who assassinated English government officials during the Potato Famine. We consider him a freedom fighter, although those of English extraction might consider him a terrorist. But I suppose that after 170 years, we can all consider it A Thing That Once Happened.
      I sent that link to his cousin/my mom, and she added: "I never knew of him being called Captain Berserko although I know his life style at that time probably fit the nickname."
      If I had a nickname, I'd expect it to be "Captain Lame-o."


      And here I thought that I had a cat with big feet!





      As I've said before: Just because it's stupid doesn't mean it's not funny!







      Search string that found this page: "don't eat cheese there are a million things to eat that aren't cheese". True, so very true. Maggots, for instance. Or dead rats. Or dead rats being eaten by maggots, eaten by you! Eat those, and you still have 999,997 things left to eat that aren't cheese. 999,996, if you eat a maggotty rat with light mayo.


      If you're wondering about the Byron Situation--it's the same. The same kind of awful. He hides behind the stereo speakers, or dwells in his aerie on the top of the fridge. When DJ is spirited away, he's back to his old Bigfoot personality, purring and happy. When DJ reappears, and doesn't even go near him, it's back to snarling insanity and hiding. His nickname has gone from Bigfoot to Sourpuss and Hermit Crab.
      By Monday, this will have gone on for a month. I've tried everything. There's nothing left to try. This, sadly, is the New Normal.

      Christopher Hitchens, 1949 � 2011: Long May He Decompose.


...Nice timing! Next NK hit: "My Insane Hereditary Dictator Needs Replacing with a Marginally Different Hereditary Dictator."

      Best short obit on Hitchens, warts & all: Insufferable Piece of Crap Will Be Dearly Missed


      Kim Jong Il dead: 17 bizarre details about the Dear Leader's life



      Sorry, folks. between long holiday hours at work (guess who was the only person told he had to work his day off, for no pay, just a postponed day off "later") and stress at home (yes, the B/DJ War continues, although it's become just a tad better lately. Hey, yesterday Byron wasn't hiding when I got up at literal dawn, but curled up in my chair! I might've brokered a peace agreement...if it had been my usual day off), I'm not going to be posting much this week. Just the Stupidest Things quotes and maybe some links. There will be something here, just not much.
      Oh, man, look at that! I've got a giant stress zit!


      All week I haven't been allowed to sleep past 7AM, thanks to work. And 3 days I couldn't even do that, as stress woke me and kept me awake as efficiently as it gave me a zit. Today I woke at 415 and laid there in a cold sweat, until I finally got up 5 minutes before the alarm. Despite being swaddled from head to toe with only my nose and mouth not covered, I was really cold. A nice long, hot shower would be perfect. I thought Today is going to be a really long day, and it can only get worse.
      Hey, I'm cold because there's no heat or hot water! I'm not taking a cold shower in a cold house. It's already worse!
      The third busiest day of the year, and I got to stew in my own juices through all of it. By 11, we'd done $3000, and by noon, $5000. And by "we," I mean me and 1 other person. DT sat whining and drinking in his office, and the 2nd mananger spent his 1st 2 hours fucking with the banking. DT had actually ordered deliveries, which sat untouched for hours after arriving. What, you think he's going to put them away? Even if it was all stuff we'd been out of since the beginning of the week, and he could've got it yesterday?
      Halfway through the 3rd busiest day of the year with endless running around, I felt like I'd swam through a sea of slug slime. But the heat was on at home, so after dishing out the Friskies, I took a shower. I feel so much better now. And while tomorrow is the busiest day, at least I can sleep in a few hours.

      The must-read blog Way of Cats gets a guest post from...Zoltan the Adequate! I only made Pammy aware of his new cat, she asked him to write it. His article raises my already high opinion of him into the stratosphere. (And do watch the video of the wheelchair he built for a bunny)

      6 Reasons Why Aliens Would NEVER Invade Earth. The last one kinda hints at 1 reason he missed: pure speciecidal xenophobia. Maybe there would be an alien species just so fuckin' balls-out insane and egotisitic enough to try and kill sentient beings everywhere that weren't exactly like themselves, just for not being like them. Perhaps they could drive little tanks and scream "Exterminate!" every so often. Perhaps they could come from a planet so mad, that they actually wanted to kill everyone who didn't worship their personal imaginary Daddy in the Sky.
      Like, say, religious fundamentalist humans from Earth! Crusade to the STARS!


      It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: because, as John Lennon didn't sing, Happy Retail (Christmas is OVER). My 28th year in the trenches is, anyway.
      "Are you sure you don't want me to come in at 10 tomorrow?" I asked the know-it-all who does the scheduling at work. He had only himself and 1 other person on Xmas Eve morning. Then 5 more at noon, another at 3, 6 of us until closing at 9PM. "NO!" he said. "It won't be busy in the morning, it'll be busy when the mall closes!"
      Yeah, but--NO! It's busiest from 10AM until 4, then it drops off. After 6, ghost town store. It's always been like that. People don't go out on Xmas Eve because the mall is closed, the mall is closed because people don't go out on Xmas Eve. They just want to stay home, especially if they have kids. The only customers we get are people who happen to notice our lights are on, as the only places other than likker stores that are open are restaurants.
      Eh. I didn't push it. The last 2 Eves it was me and Marsha bearing the brunt of his stupid decision. This year, we worked the night shift and he the morning, so Have Fun, Smart Guy! When the army of employees came in at noon, it looked like the store had a going-out-of-business sale that ended the day before. That guy is a know-it-all who knows nothing. And we're only months away from him telling us how CRAZY BUSY the store will be on Easter and Mother's Day. If he ever tells me "The world will certainly NOT end tomorrow!" I'll be out hoarding canned goods and bullets.

      At least the horrid holiday music season is gone. I may hear some tomorrow, but I'm bringing my iPod, as even the classical stations play nothing but. There are maybe 20 Xmas songs, each with 200 identical versions, played continously. Hey, Bieber and Gaga and, heck, Poison and Tiffany probably have 20 hit songs between them, would you listen to covers of those for a month straight?
      Why is "My Favorite Things" an Xmas song? It mentions "brown paper packages wrapped up with string," which doesn't sound so much like a present as a mail bomb. "Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes"--so why do they stay? You're either walking in a blinding blizzard, or they don't melt because you have no body heat because YOU'RE DEAD. "Schnitzel with noodles," who eats that on Xmas, HITLER? Oh, wait, the musical had Nazis as bad guys, and I'm down with that. It also praises kittens while dissing dogs. Doorbells ringing, however, is one of my favorite reasons to buy a gun.
      Thing I thought of a month ago, but waited until now to mention, as that will give you a year to try to unthink it: "Pa rum pum pum pum": Little Drummer Boy. "Pa Rumpy-Pumpy!": Little Drummer Boy having sex with a manger sheep.



      Bah Humbug from Hitchens: "This was a useful demonstration of what I have always hated about the month of December: the atmosphere of a one-party state. On all media and in all newspapers, endless invocations of the same repetitive theme. In all public places, from train stations to department stores, an insistent din of identical propaganda and identical music. The collectivization of gaiety and the compulsory infliction of joy."

      Last Minute Christmas Crafts






      I apologize for yesterday. I know I post a lot of YouTubes without explaining why, but those are usually short and self-explanatory. I became very tired very early yesterday--in bed just after 8--and just sent the post up.
      I was supposed to say: For fans of German expressionism of the Caligari/Metropolis school, here's an American version. At first, the quality of the print and the obscurity of the title made me think it was a modern film school project, but it turns out to be a real 1927 short. By the future director of the first Marx Brothers movie, in fact.

      Stress continues. Tomorrow, Byron goes back to the source of all our recent troubles, the Vet. He's to have his teeth cleaned and the "mass" on his stomach removed. Jessica insists this will fix his personality problems. I insist it will make them worse. We had our first ever argument over this. But, as she pointed out, I can't claim to have "tried everything" to fix things without trying this.
      Wish Byron luck. And the rest of us.


      Young's Syndrome may have left as mysteriously as it arrived, just as my two-day migraines from 20 years ago did. New excitement from nowhere: blindingly terrible lower back pain!
      I had to get Byron to the vet, and I could barely walk. I crumpled to my knees outside my front door in agony, and called out of work. My neighbor across the hall looked out to ask if I needed help. I got Byron to the vet, then went back to bed. I didn't even take my shoes off, as that would involve bending over. DJ decided that I needed a cuddle and a purr, and don't we all?
      After 75 minutes, well, I could walk, sorta, so I went to work. I had to do the end-of-month buy-ins. A coworker gave me some Aleve, as the 1600mg of ibuprofen already in me wasn't doing anything. Neither did the Aleve. My boss saw me trying to pretend I wasn't about to double over in pain on the store security camera, and gave me a quarter dose of his methadone--yes, he carries that on him. Except "It's not that methadone, it's the other one."
      It took so long for the pain to go away that even that didn't do anything. This is the second time it's hurt that badly, and after a few hours, it fades. I probably should've waited another 45 minutes before going in.
      And Byron! They cleaned his teeth and removed his "mass." The doctor, who is against unnecessary procedures, decided to do it. It was multiple colors, and leaked something when he squeezed it.
      As to Bigfoot's mental illness of late--"I've never heard of something like that going on for more than 3 days in 40 years of practice!" He recommended Feliway, as have Jess and Lily.
      Once home, Byron disappeared behind the bookcase again. He hasn't eaten in a day, but he hasn't come out. I think my worst fears have been realized.
      He just came out. All full of growls and running from everyone, myself included. I am not optimistic.


      Byron was nowhere to be found this morning. Not a good sign. I mixed his painkiller into his wet food (Friskies Tuna Egg, his favorite) and left it where I hoped he'd eat it.
      Time to buy a Feliway diffuser, I thought without enthusiasm. The closest place that had it would be PetSmart, and that meant going near The Mall. Getting there & back took 25 minutes, 5 of which was spent in the store, and the rest spent sitting at traffic lights and cursing out bad drivers. And it was fifty fucking bucks! Over twice what I'd thought it'd be. Well, any price to bring peace to the household.
      Once home, Byron was sitting quite calmly in plain sight, on his Tower. A good sign! After more wet food--he'd eaten his drugged bowl from the morning--I let DJ and KK take a sniff at the Feliway diffuser. They liked it, despite it still being in the package. I took it to Bigfoot, and he approvingly sniffed it himself. Even when DJ got within inches of him! VERY good sign!
      Then he ran to the top of the fridge and hissed at DJ. But he's been pretty sedate. I haven't opened the Feliway. Maybe Jessica was right, and a second visit to the vet cleared up his insanity. I've been going back and forth as to opening the Feliway; it could seal the deal, or I could return it because, shit, 50 bucks.
      Everyone got treats, and he's stayed calm. I had some ham I was given on Xmas, vaguely remembered him liking ham at some point in the past, and DANG, did he eat him some ham! And he let me take the bandage from the anaesthesia incision on his leg, then went back to pigging out on pig.
      Things are not back to normal, but they've improved a lot. I am...cautiously optimistic!




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