Tuesday, August 30, 2005


This weekend brought the long awaited (well, in my household, anyway) viewing of Napoleon Dynamite. I was told that it was really good & that I'd probably enjoy it.

"So, did you?" you ask? Hmm...how do I put this?

Lessee...imagine, if you will, walking into a room & seeing the family cat practicing on the tuba. You'd walk in, see the cat &, even though you know that it's a little strange seeing a feline handle a brass instrument, your brain still kind of overloads for a minute & you have a hard time wrapping your mind around the sight. That pretty much sums up Napoleon Dynamite - it's the movie equivalent of a cat playing a tuba.

"But, did you like it?" you're still asking.

Simple answer - yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Slightly more complicated answer - yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it wasn't near as funny as everyone was making it out to be.

The story was strange, to say the least. The main characters all seemed like they were stoned or had taken too much Ny-Quil, each speaking in different monotone pitch (except Uncle Rico, the only one to really show any range). Some of them were hysterical, but after awhile, the main character in particular was a little annoying. Funny, but still a little annoying. The mishmash of eras (some were dressed like they came out of a Go Go's video, others like they went to the vintage 70's section of the local thrift shop, etc) was a little distracting at times, as I spent part of the movie trying to figure out when the story was supposed to take place.

All in all, though, a good watch. No swearing or sex (thank goodness). Just a bewildered feeling after having watched it.

Like after one sees a cat playing a tuba.

Three & a half Ligers out of a possible five

Monday, August 22, 2005

Delurker Post

OK, so, I've noticed, from time to time, that other sites have an occasional "Delurker Day." I've yet to figure out if this is really a specific day of the week in the Blogiverse or if it's just a random day or what.

Obviously, I spend too much time pondering these things.

I've also noticed, as of late, an increase in direct hits (as opposed to people who stumble in here Googling for information on O'Brien's Beef Sticks or Good Guy Chucky dolls), & to be honest, I'm kind of surprised, given the recent paucity of posts that I've penned. I noticed an upswing after The A Files, Walking Stick & Elwyn's Imagination all added me to their sidebars (Thanks Amy, Andy & Elly!). And I know when my regular Loyal Readers Check in (Hi Amy, ETS, Elly, again &, yes, you, too, Mom!)

But, I'm just curious as to who else has been checking in on my l'il ol' site. So, if you'd be so kind, drop a comment in the squawk box below. Go on! It won't hurt. This is for nothing more than my own curiosity. Well, & a chance to say "Hi!" & "Thanks for stopping by."
There's No Place Like Home

Two nights in a row, now, I've had dreams where I was back in the city that I grew up in. Vivid dreams, where I can see places that I used to frequent as a kid.

While it's no longer safe to live there (lots & lots of gang activity), I still miss it alot. I still feel like a part of me is there. The last time that I went through, a lot of things were different. But it still felt like home.

While I think that the Video Flicks store is still there (with its sign that, from a certain angle, looked like it said...um...well, let's just say that it didn't look like it said Video Flicks). The old comic shop that I spent an inordinate amount of time riding to & fro from is long gone. The Lucky's grocery store is now some warehouse-type, bag your own groceries kind of place. Miller's Outpost went under, but I can't remember what was there the last time I was in town. The old drive-in movie theatre (that I can still remember seeing "The Towering Inferno" at when I was just a wee one) has long since been bulldozed & had a shopping center built over it.

Even the house I grew up in (which I would've gladly taken had the rest of the town not been falling apart), the one that was instantly recognizable as it was the only green house on the block, has changed. It's white & surrounded by a wroughtiron fence. The new owners seem to take care of it, but, I dunno...the house seems almost - sad being stuck behind iron bars. Even eleven or so years after it'd been sold, it still seems weird to not be able to just walk in. I've thought at times that, if the town changed & I could afford to do it, I'd love to buy that house back.

My family's house.

My house.

My home.

*sigh* I guess I can still live there in my dreams.
Like Moths To A Flame

In an attempt to save electricity during the Great Power Shortage of Aught-Two, the Company installed motion detector light switches so that people wouldn't be leaving their office lights on all the time, which is all good & well. The bad thing about the switches is that the sensor has a very narrow range. So much so that when I sit at my desk, the light frequently goes out because I'm not moving around or anything. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the dark gives the office a little ambience.

Now, I can usually sit still enough while working so as not to trigger the sensor. Inevitably - & I mean WITH OUT FAIL - the light goes off & someone will feel that it's necessary to poke their head into the office to see if anyone's in here. Not to discuss something. Not to hand a problem off to me. Not even to get a piece of candy.

It's just to see if anyone's in here.

It's like the light goes off & it triggers this primal instinct to look in here.

Makes me wish I had a cattle prod to pop 'em on the nose with.
I'd Better Get Some Cool Spider Powers

I woke on Friday morning with itchy legs.

Upon closer inspection, I found that the itching was caused by two bites on the sides of my shins (in almost the same spot on both shins). T chalked it up to mosquitoes, but, since I know that mosquitoes aren't attracted to me (probably due to my blood having the thickness of a semi-frozen milkshake), I attributed it to a spider, thinking that it may have gotten into the bedding & bit me when I rolled around.

Saturday morning, I woke with an additional two bites on each calf. I began to suspect that the next morning, I'd find myself wrapped up in a silk cocoon in the corner of the ceiling. So, despite the liberal application of hydrocortisone cream to the afflicted areas, I spent a good part of the day fighting the urge to claw through the skin on my legs.

On Sunday morning, T let out a loud gasp, which at first I thought meant that she was running late (she was getting ready for work). I was still half asleep & couldn't figure out what she was saying. Finally, I picked up on the words "big" & "spider." Being the Great White Critter Hunter in our home, I took great pleasure in squooshing the spider that, I was certain, was trying to suck my insides out through my legs. The euphoria of having vanquished my foe was quickly replaced by the itching from the grand total of six bites on my legs.

After all of this, I had better be able to stick to walls or shoot webs or something.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The MLCotW 2005 NoCal Trek

Can someone please explain how an eight hour day at work can seem to drag on for an eternity, but three days spent visiting family in beautiful, calm, peaceful surroundings (& clean air, to boot) can pass in the blink of an eye? I'd really love to know how that works so that I can maybe find a way to reverse the process.

As was alluded to in a previous post, my sister, The Boy, T & myself trekked up to the northern tippy-top of the state to visit my dad, aunt & uncle & a couple of my cousins. For the most part, it was the vacation that T & I have been needing for awhile - getting out of the grind of SoCal living, the crowds, the nasty air, work, etc. It was one of those vacations that you wanted to last for a little bit longer (I know, I know - what vacation isn't?).


Starting out at 330a to head up to my sister's house made for an exceptionally long day. The trip itself, nonstop, is about ten hours. When you're running on four hours of sleep, though, it feels twice as long. Even trying to sleep in the car along the way didn't make too much of a difference.

Most of the trip was pretty uneventful, as we were driving through farm country & there's only so many times you can look at a passing orchard & try to figure out what's growing there before your brain has had enough. Don't get me wrong - California gets more & more beautiful the further north you go. But, unlike SoCal, the cities in Central & Northern California (along the 99 & 5, at least) are spread far apart. Not as far as they are in Arkansas, mind you. But farther than I'm accustomed to. It's very wide open & a wee bit disorienting, as there aren't a lot of reference points to let you know where you're at.

One of the more disturbing things that we learned on our trip was how turkeys are transported. After seeing the truck in front of us stuffed with turkeys, I will now have reason to think twice the next time I complain about the seating in coach class.

Anyway, we made our way up the 99, passing through Modesto, which kind of gave me the willies thinking about the recent events that happened in that city. Eventually, we made it to Sacramento & took a stroll around the Capitol & the grounds around it. They have a beautiful garden containing flora from all different parts of the state. And about a million squirrels. Literally.

Interesting Tidbit: The California Highway Patrol (CHiPs!) has an equestrian unit that patrols the Capitol grounds - & only the Capitol grounds. You won't find this unit anywhere else in the state.

The Capitol building, inside & out, is gorgeous. The interior of the Dome is gilded with intricate gold designs. As there are in other capitols, I would imagine, there are paintings of the governors from California's past. The weirdest one was Pat Brown's, looking like something a third grader would paint (minus the legs coming directly out of the head). It really, uh...stood out against the other portraits. We toured the Governor's reception area - which consists of a couch, chair, desk & a few pictures & knick knacks.

T'was a wee bit underwhelming.

We also got to see the Senate room, which is every bit as ornate as the Dome, although, the paint scheme looked like Hildie from Trading Spaces got ahold of the place. Gold trim & design, like the Dome, with pinkish-peach colored paint. Bleah! The audience seating is up in a balcony over the Senate floor, so I was more than just a bit dizzy & had to fight the urge to crawl out of the place. Of course, The Boy had to keep leaning over the railings to look below him, which did wonders for me. Much taunting was made at my expense there.

We then went to a gallery there in the Capitol building. Many interesting artifacts were seen & tidbits of information gleaned from the staff.

Interesting Tidbit: California has, among other things, a State Bird (some kind of quail), State Fish (the garibaldi), State Flower (the California Poppy), a State Insect (the dogfaced butterfly) & - believe it or not - a State Dirt (the staff couldn't remember what it was, though). I guess our government is doing something up there.

The Boy & I also toured one of the men's rooms. I now know where some of my tax dollars go, for, not only do the stalls sport fancy schmancy wooden doors with nice locks on them, but they also have cupholders. Yes, cupholders. I suppose the person that left the coffee ring on the urinal that I posted about a while ago could've used one of those.

Freakin'. Cupholders.

Soon we were on the road again. We made a pitstop to refuel in some little town that seemed to be straight out of a Stephen King novel. It was just. That. Weird. Apparently, there was some altercation that took place before we got there, as the local fuzz were hashing something out with some of the yokels. The whole place looked like it'd fallen out of the early 80's. T, The Boy & my sister went inside to use the facilities, & I was about to join them. That was until I got out of the car & approached the store. Do you know how a bathroom at a park smells? That very distinctive, been-peed-in-&-on-by-vagrants scent? Yeah, I could smell it outside the store, coming from inside the store. And I was standing a good twenty feet from the entrance. Everyone came out & suggested that, if I could, I should just hold it.

Sage advice, apparently.

We made one more stop at a rest stop to eat & take care of the business that we were holding off on after the last town. After a bite to eat & a good stretch, we hit the road again.

Only to get behind the turkey truck again. And this time, one of the birds had died, its limp head hanging out of one of the cages. Nothing like having a dead bird staring at you, glassy-eyed, while driving.

So, a couple of naps later, we finally made it to the home stretch. The scenery had turned from the cornfileds, vineyards & orchards of Central California to the beautiful, lush, green forests of Northern California. I hadn't seen that many trees since the last time we flew to Arkansas. Living down in the desert, I'm just not used to it. Soon, we were driving over a bridge spanning Lake Shasta. And let me tell you, Lake Shasta is one big friggin' lake. The road wound its way around hills & mountains &, I swear, we must've crossed over Lake Shasta about three or four times.

About thirty minutes later, we arrived at our motel & then headed over to see everyone. I hadn't seen my dad in eight years. Amazingly, he hadn't changed much. Of course, the last time he saw The Boy, The Boy was three, so he had changed a wee bit. I hadn't seen my aunt & uncle for about ten years & the two of their children that made it down I hadn't seen since I was probably three myself.


On the second day, we spent more time visiting, going over the family history & looking at old pictures (I even got a few paintings done by my dad & uncle & a really cool photo of my great grandparents & the whole gaggle of kids they had). That evening, we went to a fair that was taking place up in Yreka. It was pretty cool, with it's big 4-H displays & science exhibits. The big draw for me, though, was the abundance of carnival rides made to spin you around in every conceivable direction (sometimes at the same time).

Now, I have a cast iron stomach. I don't get seasick/airsick/carsick/whatever-manner-of-conveyancesick. I love rollercoasters. Love 'em. But, that night, my beloved carnival rides turned against me.

The first ride that The Boy & I went on was some octopus-type jobbie with four cars on each of four arms that spun you silly. We made it through the ride with a wee bit of dizzyness, but nothing unmanageable. My stomach, having not been on one of these rides in a looooong time, was only minorly agitated. I figured that I'd take it easy for a few minutes, let the beast settle a bit & all would be right with the world again. And that would've been fine, except...

We went on the Tornado about ten minutes later.

The Tornado is kind of like the mutant lovechild of the Octopus Ride & the Teacup Ride at Disneyland. Four seats on each of four arms that have a wheel in the middle that you use to spin yourself as the ride spins you & tilts you at a fortyfive degree angle.

Interesting Tidbit: Carnival rides apparently have a sensor that gauges when riders are getting queasy - & then causes the ride to go even longer & faster than it normally would.

My sister, The Boy & I gave our ride tikets the the carny (who was sporting the most enormous 'fro I'd ever seen) & boarded the ride. All was fine as the ride started spinning. We all tried spinning the wheel in the middle to amp up the nausea inducing G-forces we were experiencing. B & The Boy tried getting it to spin fast, but couldn't quite get it up to speed. This was when the stupid manly-man part of my brain took over & determined that I could get this thing humming nicely all by myself, thankyouverymuch.

It was after I had us spinning at about nine hundred RPM that my stomach said "I've had enough! Everybody out!" I let go of the wheel & sat back in my seat, fighting every urge that I had to yak all over. The Boy kept chiding me, telling me to let my legs hang down & to put my hands up. As I didn't want to open my mouth any more than necessary, all I could mutter was a very low, monotone "Shut. Up." He didn't look to happy with me, but he would've been even more unhappy if I'd let loose the way stomach wanted me to.

After what seemed like, seriously, about a week on the ride, we finally stopped & I went looking for a trashcan off in a secluded corner. When I couldn't find one that didn't have an audience, I summoned up all of my willpower & forced myself not to do my grey whale immitation in the middle of the fair. For the record, I have yet to actually get sick after riding a carnival ride.

Yay, me.

The rest of the evening was spent nursing a Pepsi & feeling like I'd been slugged in the gut, all while trying to stay within close proximity to the bathrooms. The ride back to the motel was just as lovely, as I spent the whole time testing the theory that there's a pressure point in the wrist that can stop nausea.

Interesting Tidbit: There really is pressure point that will relieve nausea!


Day Three found us heading up to a park called Castle Crags. As you're driving up the 5 through Shasta, you see nothing but green forest & trees. Everywhere. Then you'll notice this gigantic, bald mountain jutting up from the greenery. That is Castle Crags.

After a drive on a road that was seemingly, purposefully designed by some demented CalTrans engineer to be almost vertical - & one lane - we arrived at a picnic area that afforded us the most stunning view of Mt. Shasta, Castle Crags & another mountain that - I think - was called Grey Mountain or Black Mountain or something to that effect. It was quiet & clean & just...awesome.

There was a trail out of the picnic area that lead - at least according to the signpost - to a campground that was about a mile & a quarter away. My sister, one of my cousins, K, & myself decided to go for a hike & follow the trail.

Interesting Tidbit: I am woefully out of shape. This was confirmed about halfway into the hike.

The trail was, initially (i.e. before we were exhausted), a bunch of gradual slopes & descents. I had never wandered around in a forest like that & was trying to take in my surroundings (while trying to not break my ankle & keeping an eye out for bears). It was really nice. Such a welcome change from the usual hustle & bustle of life.

Now, I know that I walk at a speed of about about four miles an hour. I should be able to cover one & a quarter miles in less than half an hour. Since B,K & I were all keeping the same pace, we were probably walking a bit slower, but even with that & the uphill/downhill of the trail, we still should've been able to make the whole course in about fortyfive minutes.

After probably more than an hour, the rest of our party started getting worried.

We walked. And walked. And walked some more. We followed signs that pointed to the campground until we ran out of signs. After a little more walking & then some debate over the wisdom of going further versus going back to the road & trying to catch a ride up the hill, we decided to opt for Plan B & headed back toward the road. All the while, I kept thinking about how we were the hikers that you hear about the the six o'clock news. Y'know - the stupid kind that trek off into the wild with a sixteen ounce bottle of water that get attacked by rabid ground squirrels. I sized up my sister & my cousin, trying to figure out which one I could take down for their water -

"Hmm...my sister's small, but she's a kicker & could do some damage. On the other hand, I don't know my cousin all that well. She may be able to take me on, too. Man, I'm thirsty."

As we were heading back & I was planning out my strategy, we noticed a previously unseen trail. One with a sign obscured by bushes. One that pointed the correct direction to the campground. One that we'd passed about fifteen minutes before.

Stupid sign...

We headed on down the trail & heard voices coming from, what we hoped, was the campground. I yelled to get their attention & was met with The Boy's voice, telling the others that we were there. Apparently, they had gone to the Ranger's office to get some help finding us. I guess the path we were on (which seemed to be an access road of some sort) would've taken us waaaaaay further off course.

I hadn't been so glad to sit down in a loooong time.

That night, we went back to the house & had dinner, visited for awhile longer & then said our goodbyes. The trip home the next day went quicker than going up there did. I've noticed the past few times that T & I have gone on a trip that I'm just really in no hurry to get home. If I could, I'd just find a place wherever we may be & start anew. Especially this last trip. It was just so nice up there. It was the kind of place T & I have been needing to go to recharge our batteries (although, I think we need a longer time somewhere like that).

Dad, Aunt M, Uncle N - I'd just like to say thank you for your hospitality & for having us up. I just hope that we don't go another eight to ten years before our paths cross again.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Unapproachable, In Every Way*

Last week, I came in to work not feeling quite up to par. As the day wore on, I started having dizzy spells. The next morning, my brain felt like it'd been sucked out with a straw & replaced with a ziplock full of jell-o. I couldn't get a clear thought & had a hard time even doing the simplest tasks. I kept hoping & praying that no one would have any detailed questions for me - like "What's your name?" or "Can you count to three?" or anything like that.

As luck would have it, one of the floor denizens came in with a problem shipment. He explained what was wrong with it & I told him, fighting through the fog that enveloped my head, that he'd need to contact the customer first & that they'd have to request my assistance with the problem.

Now, before I go any further, I must explain that this particular person is a know-it-all & likes to talk over people instead of listening. Oh yeah. Really fun to deal with.

So, after I tell him what needs to be done, he counters with "Well, this order will have to be redone. It's impossible to ship it this way. Blah blah blah." Apparently, no one has ever told him that it's a really, really, reeeeally bad idea to argue with me when I don't feel well. Especially when I'm agitated because my head's so fogged. As he kept talking over me, I finally told him, flat out, in no uncertain terms "I don't care what the problem is! You need to contact the customer, tell them what needs to be done & then I'll get involved."

He then stormed out of the office. As of about two hours later, he still hadn't contacted the customer. It took Irene going to his office & telling him the same thing that I had. Well, probably in a much calmer, nicer way, but the gist was the same.

Shortly after that, Clueless Leader came into the office, asking for some stats. I told her that I was entering the numbers &, if she'd wait a second, I'd have them for her. She told me just to bring them out to her, to which I replied "I'm really dizzy right now. Just hang on & I'll have the numbers for you." But, that's not what she heard me say. Instead, she heard me say that I was "busy" rather than "dizzy."

Cut to about 4p that afternoon. I get called into the principle's office to talk about what had happened that morning. As per usual, they wouldn't just come out & say "Someone complained about such & such" (nor would they bring the person making the complaint in to face me). They wanted to know if something was bothering me or if I needed help with work or if things were overwhelming me & other such nonsense. Finally, after I told then that they were being extremely vague, they brought up the dizzy/busy miscommunication. After that was cleared up, the other matter of snapping at the coworker came up. I told them about feeling under the weather & that the individual kept talking over me instead of listening for five seconds, etc. I was told that they understood, but that I couldn't let me not feeling well affect how I deal with people. Y'see, there's this misconception held by Clueless Leader & the BOMB that I don't get along wth anyone & that people are afraid of dealing with me. Apparently, I am unapproachable.

To which I say - GOOD!!!

Lousy, freakin' crybabies. It's better that they stay clear of me.

I mean, the guy that went crying to CL was in the Navy. What'd he do when his drill sergeant chewed him up one side & down the other in Basic Training? Go whine to his Commanding Officer? UGH!

Frickin' whiny twit...

Anyway, I was given "suggestions" on how to "rebuild the rapport" with the floor denizens who feel that they can't come talk to me. Crap like asking if I can help them out with something & just trying to go out & communicate with them, golly gee willikers!


I just want to grab the higher-ups by the scruffs of their pencil necks & tell them "Look, it's really simple. If I like someone, I'll talk to them. If I don't like them or, better yet, even know them, then I don't talk to them unless it's work related. I DON'T WANT TO GET TO KNOW THESE PEOPLE!!!"

And then I'd thump their noggins together a few times.

*Apologies to the late, great Nat "King" Cole