Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wishing All This Week At Windows (Sunday's Poem 12)

Do You Want Affidavits?
by: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

There's a hole in the bottom of the sea.
Do you want affidavits?
There's a man in the moon with money for you.
Do you want affidavits?
There are ten dancing girls in a sea-chamber off Nantucket waiting for you.
There are tall candles in Timbuctoo burning penance for you.
There are--anything else?
Speak now--for now we stand amid the great wishing windows--and the law says we are free to be wishing all this week at the windows.
Shall I raise my right hand and swear to you in the monotone of a notary public? this is "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."


An "affidavit" is a sworn statement. This is the first, and only, poetic use of the word "affidavits" I've ever seen.

True fact: Over 1/2 of the lawyers I talk to use the word "affi-david
." As though you're swearing out a Dave.

You'll love the sound effects in this post.

The one downside I have to doing my many home-fix-it projects is that I have no flashlight. I've never had a flashlight, mostly because I think of flashlights as being a tool ordinarily needed only by burglars and by guys in protective suits searching the woods for ET.

That's what I think, at least, until I've got the shower disassembled or I'm under the sink and I can't see a danged thing, and I've got no flashlight and I'm reduced to having the kids stand in strategic locations holding mirrors so that I can angle some of the daylight in, and I always think "Why not just get a flashlight?"

Thus, I am excited to have found the miniature streamlight fashlights over on Optics Planet. While Optics Planet has about 600 bazillions of these flashlights (the toughest, most cost-effective kind around, I bet) including kinds for law enforcement and fire and rescue and hunters, the mini-keychain flashlight is perfect for me. I can put it into the toolbox (right next to the Emergency Butterfinger Bar) and have it handy the next time something goes wrong in our house, which ought to be...



(Crash! Break! Expensive!)


Quote of the Day, 22:

"That's how you know you did a really good job: You have pieces left over."

That's what I explained to The Boy after I successfully, and on the first try fixed the downstairs shower this afternoon. It had devolved into an unholy mess down there: it never fully shut off and the water temperature was uncontrollable, resulting in this morning's near-shower, in which I tried in vain to wash up in a scorchingly-hot trickle that ran down the side of the shower.

So this afternoon, hopped up on a giant peanut-butter-chocolate Easter egg, I turned off the water, de-installed the old shower handle and shower head, drove out to the hardware store and picked up new fancy shower parts -- you know, the kind of shower parts that would be used by English royalty if English royalty got their shower parts at Home Depot -- and got them installed, all in less than 2 1/2 hours. (Two hours, 24 minutes, to be exact. But traffic was bad.)

And the shower worked and I didn't, as it turned out, need to use the stuff that Home Depot tried (and failed) to sell me, the caulking-paste kind of stuff that warned that the vapors were extremely flammable. How flammable? The word spontaneous was used on the label, and the label also warned not to use in an area where there's electric ventilation because the electric ventilation can set it off.

I didn't need to use that, but I did want to buy it. Only I worried about how I'd get it home.

I did have some parts left over, too, but that's normal for one of my fix-it projects, and it seemed fair, since I used, on this one, some of the parts that were leftover from the last project.

The popcorn vacuuming will count as billable hours.

Well, there's pretty much no way I'm ever going to get anything done at work again.

I wonder how productive the world was BEFORE the Internet? It's hard enough to pretend to work when there's all these great blogs and music to download and webcomics and things to keep up with. But now that I can Watch movies online, it's all over for my career. (Such as it was...)

There's a new site called "" that lets you Watch movies and TV shows online, for free. TV shows like "House," which I always want to watch at home, but I get too distracted by the Babies and by my books and my guitar and the yardwork and all, and so I never watch it at home.

Or shows like "Californication," which I can't watch at home, because we don't get HBO at home.

Now, though, I don't have to watch them at home. I can watch them online, which means I can watch them at work. And it's not like it's totally unproductive. I do need to watch the shows, and some of the movies and shows you can watch award money for reviewing, so, you know, I can make a little money on the sidee.

All of which means that my nine or ten hours in the office now will break down to:

8-9 a.m.: Reading webcomics, checking celebrity gossip.
9-11 a.m.: Television shows I meant to watch last night but didn't.
11-1 p.m.: Feature film.
1-2 p.m.: Explain to boss why my work is not done yet (blame it on coworkers/computer)
2-5 p.m.: Second show of double feature.
5-5:30 p.m.: Vacuum up spilt popcorn.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 9:

The Hunk of The Week: Rick Springfield. (No, that's not a typo.)

You/Sweetie Know Him As: Sweetie, at least, knows him as the singer of 80% of the five new songs she downloaded this week, 4 songs that include "I Get Excited," but don't, for some reason, include "Jessie's Girl." You may also know him as "That guy who sang that song who turns out to still be alive."

I know him as: The guy who sings "Jessie's Girl." About that song: I swear, for a long time, I thought the lyrics went: You know I wish that I was Jessie's Girl. I never understood that song. But he did at least include the line But the point is probably moot. That line is 97% more intelligent than anything else ever in a rock & roll song.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm About Him: On Rick's official website, if you can get past the fact that he's got an album of lullabies coming out, there's a timeline that includes this entry: 1959 Rick becomes interested in history. Plays "gladiator" in backyard in England. (precursor of Gladiator play in 2001).

Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: I didn't realize, until this week, that Sweetie did like him. I also didn't realize, until this week, that he was alive. So I will go with: Sweetie likes him because he is alive.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: "I love the older sex symbols."

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Reason For Liking Him: Can I really make another "old" joke here? Yes. Yes I can: How many Rick Springfields does it take to screw in a light bulb? None: the people at the nursing home do it for him.

If you're looking for work, I've got some.

Doesn't the best advice sound basic and common sense once you hear it, making you think oh, sure, I knew that, but you didn't know that -- that's why it's good advice. It's something you overlooked and then heard and thought well, that makes sense.

Advice like the idea I found today: Before you hire someone to do home repairs, make sure they've got a listing in your local yellow pages.

That's awesome advice, because if the person you're hiring is not listed in the yellow pages, odds are they're not a very good business. They may be a fly-by-night operation, they may be scam artists, whatever the reason, no listing = red flag. And do you want red flags surrounding someone who is working on your house? You do not.

I got that advice from Anderson Comfort Systems, LLC, the place that's listed on this Omaha HVAC website I stumbled across while looking for some people to do a little work on OUR house. Anderson Comfort Systems has all kinds of good little tidbits on that site, advice like "don't hire the lowest bidder, hire the best," and judging your contractor by how clean and reliable they are: is their van a mess, or is it professional looking? Do they show up on time, or call you to let you know they're running late?

Those, too, are common-sense sounding things that until I read them, I hadn't thought about. But, armed with that knowledge, I can now find the right professional to work on my house. Just as soon as I find a listing for "Person To Clean Up The Fossilized Trash In The Boy's Room."

Mixtape: "Is It Appropriate To Wish Someone A Happy Easter Given How We Got There? Discuss."

What better way to end the week on Good Friday than with a religious-themed mixtape. Remember when I asked the question Does God Have A Sense of Humor? My answer to that is I sure hope so, because otherwise I'm going to have to hear about some of the songs on this Mixtape on Judgment Day, and I'm pretty sure I'll already be taking up an inordinate amount of time that day, not the least because way way back when, my sister and I invented "High Fives For Jesus," which were more or less what they sounded like: whenever we wanted to thank God for doing something, or just emphasize how cool Jesus was, we'd do a high five for Jesus...

Which was, I think, not as bad as this:

But "High Fives For Jesus" were more or less plagiarizing this song in advance...

... even though I didn't know about that song until Sweetie got me the Cheesecake Truck song on a CD for a Christmas present. By then, I had plenty of other Jesus songs in my library, like this one:

Which I heard is being made into a musical, and about which album I have this to say: What the heck is it about? I'm told it's a concept album, but I'll be... well, damned... if I know what the "concept" is. I miss straightforward concept albums' like Roger Waters' "Radio KAOS."

Which has nothing to do with this mixtape, so back to it with Johnny Cash:

And if Depeche Mode made the concept of a Personal Jesus sound tacky, doesn't Johnny Cash make it sound like all you'd ever need to maybe grab a little happiness? I wonder how he did that. The only person who ever sounded more sad in a religious song was Kurt Cobain in "Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam:"

Okay, enough seriousness: Here's a threefer from Cake: Jesus...


And Hell...

And then back to seriousness for a moment, as Bono tries to steal some thunder from God AND John Lennon, answering the question "Who was really bigger than Jesus & John Lennon rolled together? Bono... at least according to him."

God Part II, U2:

Who can match U2 seriousness for seriousness? Coldplay, of course: "Kingdom Come."

Less seriously, here's some punk interpretation of the Bible, "Here's Your Future" by The Thermals.

And that's not their only one: "Pillar of Salt" is religious, too:

And then I think this might be about religion. It sounds religious, anyway: "Soolaimon" by Neil Diamond:

And then there's some more Neil + Religion, now with extra Johnny Cash: "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show:"

If this list DOESN'T play well up in Heaven, The Pogues can provide me some advice: "If I Should Fall From Grace With God:"

It's not immediately apparent that this is a religious song, but it is: Joe Henry, "Time Is A Lion."

You might have caught a version of this in Watchmen, but Allison Crowe does "Hallelujah" better than anyone else:

And I can't do a mixtape without including The New Pornographers. Luckily, they know "All Of The Thigns That Go To Make Heaven And Earth:"

And finishing up with the single best song ever written about God destroying a world populated by Monkeys and Robots...

God Monkey Robot:

Have a great Holiday weekend!

They even have wingtips. Whatever those are.

I've got this theory:

You can tell a lot about a person just by the name of the type of footwear they have on. Run into someone wearing a "flip-flop," and you'll expect them to be kind of wishy-washy and meek. Someone wearing a clog is likely to be dense and stubborn. And someone wearing a "Croc?" I'll leave that to your imagination.

If my theory is widely accepted, (and why WOULDN'T it be?) then everyone's going to want to start shopping for Wolverine Boots, don't you think? That name... it's so tough and inspiring. A Wolverine-wearing person could easily beat up someone walking around in "Chuck Taylors." And that's even before you see or know anything about the boots.

Then, if you go check out the Wolverine Boots for reals at MetBoots, you find out that they're even tougher-looking than they sounded: all leather and thick soles and strong strings and clips and clasps and pulls and stuff. The kind of boots worn by real men: Lumberjacks, carpenters, guys who work outside and with their hands and tools and stuff. Guys who wear flannel and don't look like dorks doing it.

MetBoots is even having a holiday sale right now -- 10% off your order with the code on their site, so you can get yourself some tough boots and save a little money, too.

As for me, I'll just keep on keepin' on with my... um... moccassins. But they're business moccassins.

Paper Clip Sculptures & High Fashion. Yep, It's Friday Morning.

So there's a recession going on, or a depression, or, I guess, a "re-pression." (Ugh. Stop it, Anna Quindlen. We do not need that.)

Whatever we call what's going on, the availability of men wholesale clothing means that that I have the ability to still be stylish and dressed well even in hard economic times.

And, truthfully, the recession is not to blame for me not being stylish. (My predilection for shirts that say Gaius Baltar for President is what bears the blame. ) The recession couldn't be an excuse, not when Price -- the wholesaler for the Internet -- exists.

With Price, I can get clothing at up to 75% below wholesale; that's like getting it free... or maybe getting paid to shop (I'm not so good at math.) They've got women's clothing, kids' clothing, and, of course, men's clothing, including shirts in bulk -- I can get 12 new dress shirts, all in one fell swoop, for $126 -- that's like...

lemme get my calculator. What? I don't have a calculator? Let me try to assemble a slide rule out of paperclips. Not working... not working... hey, I made a little horse...

Anyway, that's really cheap, whatever it works out to per shirt, and they're good high quality shirts, too.

I'm not forgetting what my readers always want to know: the answer is yes, they've got super-duper-cheap stuff, too. Check out their 'Specials' section for shirts as low as $3.50 per shirt, or minidresses for $10.50 apiece.

Price promises prices ranging from 50-70% below wholesale on everything they've got, with the best name brands going for those prices. Recession, re-pression, whatever we're in, Price will carry you through in style until President Baltar gets us out of this mess.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Rum Punch Review: "Chronicles Of The Lensman, Vol. 1" (Part 1)

Confused about what a Rum Punch Review is? Find out here.

Man, old-fashioned science fiction stories are talky.

Maybe it's because they didn't have all that much science back in the really olden days (before 2002) that characters in sci-fi books spent so much time talking and not doing things. As a guy raised on modern science fiction -- wisecracking smugglers, laser pistols, and muddled endings to otherwise good television shows -- I'm not used to all that talking, although reading every Robert Heinlein novel he ever wrote prepared me for it, a bit.

I had actually heard of the Lens and the Lensmen and, vaguely, E.E. Smith (the guy who wrote the Lensmen stories) before they were re-brought to my attention by a Best of Everything reader. I first heard of the Lens in the book The Number of The Beast by Robert Heinlein, another very-talky (but very good) sci-fi book that follows the adventures of four people -- two married couples -- as they cruise through the multiverse on the run from "Black Hats," aliens that are out to kill them because they've invented a machine that lets them travel in time and space. In one brief interlude in that book, the characters (who learn they can travel to "fictional" worlds that aren't so fictional) visit the world of the Lensmen, the world created by E.E. Smith.

So when Sio nominated "the Lens" as The Best Superhero Gadget, I decided I'd see whether the stories were any good, or if it was a good idea trapped inside a bad book. This being before my current feud with the library began, I checked out the hardbound Chronicles of The Lensmen, Vol 1. Then, because this was checked out from the library, I decided to begin reading it right away, which is why you're getting your Rum Punch Review today of this book, rather than the Rum Punch Review of Playing For Pizza, by John Grisham -- that being the book I was reading before I decided to read this book.

That breaks two of my rules for reading, and doesn't bode well for Playing For Pizza.

Rule 1 for reading is simple: Don't have stacks of books waiting to be read. That's a rule I imposed one day after I skimmed through my Entertainment Weekly to get to the book reviews, which is my favorite part of the Entertainment Weekly -- because I like to see if maybe one of my books is similar to one of the books that's being reviewed, which makes me hopeful that I'll get a publisher soon, or, conversely, to see if I hate the books that are being reviewed and therefore become hopeful that my books represent a countertrend to the flood of memoirs and murder mysteries starring quirky women that flood bookstores these days.

I would get my Entertainment Weekly and begin reading at the front, like you're supposed to, but I didn't really pay attention to anything and would just skim until I got to the book reviews, which I'd read, and then I didn't want to go back and re-read (sort of) the rest of the magazine. So one day, I thought Just read the book reviews first. It seemed so revolutionary, skipping around in a magazine, but I just cast my fate to the wind...

Cue the musical interlude:

I wish I had the technical capabilities to make videos of my pictures like that. I should look into how it's done. (Because I need another hobby, right?)

I cast my fate to the wind and just read the reviews first, then skipped around, reading whatever caught my attention, and it turned out I got a lot more out of the magazine than I used to.

The lesson I learned from that is that if I'm confronted with other things pressing on my attention, I won't read as carefully or enjoyably, and I then applied that lesson to books I liked. When I have stacks of books waiting around for me to read them, it weighs on me. It puts me under a lot of duress to finish this book and get on to that book.

Plus, by the time I get to book 2 or 3 or 4 in the stack, I may not be in the mood for it anymore. I might have been in a nonfiction-y kind of mood when I bought it, but that may have been November, and here it is April and I'm feeling lighthearted-British-comedy-of-manners.

So I stopped having stacks of books waiting to be read, and instead would buy one book at a time, but then I broke that rule not only by checking out "Chronicles of the Lensmen Vol. 1" while already reading Playing For Pizza, but also by buying a couple of used books at the Friends of the Library Sale (when I was still friends with the library) so now I'm reading Lensmen, with Pizza on deck, and then lower on the stack are Corelli's Mandolin and The Everlasting Story of Nory, and it's really starting to weigh on me.

Rule 2 is Don't interrupt reading a book. If I interrupt reading a book to read another book, that's a death blow to the first book. I was reading The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta last year, another book I'd checked out of the library, and I ran out of time to renew it, so I had to take it back to the library and wait a day or so to re-check it out. (No, I don't know why, either. Nobody else had requested it. I just ran out of the arbitrary amount of time the library thinks it should take to read a book. In retrospect, that may have been the root of my grudge match.) So I took it to the library and thought "I'll just go get it in a day or two."

I never did. Any book that's so... uninspiring... that you're willing to give up on it for a while is not a book that you'll seek out again to start reading again. Which is why Lensmen doesn't bode well for Playing for Pizza.

Not that Lensmen is any great shakes yet, either. The volume I have is apparently a collection of serialized stories -- something I think should be brought back to the book world. If it was good enough for Dickens and E.E. Smith, why isn't some publisher out there trying to serialize novels? Especially when things like the Kindle would encourage just that: Reading a bit of a novel at a time.

Some publisher besides me, of course. I'm doing my best to bring that back, 5 Pages at a time.

(I apologize if some of these links seem a little too self-aggrandizing, but two people in recent days have told me they didn't know that I wrote something other than the blog they were reading, and if I've learned anything from Stephen Colbert [and I like to think I have] it's that self-promotion is not a bad thing.

E.E. Smith serialized these stories, or something, and then when they were published as a book, he went back and wrote a long introduction to them to help explain the background a little more, and that's the first part of the book I'm reading. I know all of that because for a change, I read the "Foreword" to the book, written by someone named "John Clute," who's apparently a big shot in the world of science fiction. I could have lived without the "Foreword," as I usually can: I almost never read them and I think they're a waste of time. The only thing worse for me than the "Foreword" are the "Author's Comments" or "Notes" or "Acknowledgements" and the like. I've read a lot of those, too, and I very rarely find them informative or entertaining on their own, or even worth including in there.

I've got nothing, really, against "Acknowledgements" and thank-yous and the like. I can ignore them (unless I think I'm supposed to be in there, but that's never really happened.) But "Author's Notes" and things that are supposed to explain the story I've just read bug me, a lot. Not just because it's the author trying to control my reaction to, and interpretation of, what I've just read -- in complete contravention of the My Aunt's Dog Theorem, which cannot be contravened -- but because it's an author trying to do that in obvious recognition of the fact that the story, or book, or poem, I just read didn't get the point across that the author was trying to make. What other reason could there be for those type of notes?

Or the stories about how it was researched, or written, or compiled. Why? They might make an amusing anecdote if they're particularly interesting, but they're usually not. Unless you're Piers Anthony and explaining how you write in a tiny shack in Florida amidst a horse pasture, I don't really want to hear it. (Piers Anthony gets a pass from me on author's notes because his are entertaining and don't try to explain the book.)

The Foreword for Lensmen does the book a disservice, here: It warns that a big chunk of what you're about to read is boring. It really does: It says "the most unrelentingly 'serious' part of the entire sequence, the most likely portion of the narrative to disengage the contemporary reader, is the introductory section that makes up the first six chapters." That is, the first six chapters are boring.

There are two ways to destroy an experience with art: One, tell somebody they will love it. That raises their expectations and unless what they're about to see is truly great, they'll hate it. Two, tell somebody they'll hate it -- then they go in pre-disposed to hate it.

I went into Lensmen predisposed, then, to be bored by it, to have my contemporary readership disengaged, and, not surprisingly, I was. As I read the overly-talky, hive-mind-y, first couple of chapters, I was actively reflecting not just on the fact that they were overly-talky, and boring, but on the fact that I'd been warned they would be, and also on the fact that maybe if I hadn't been warned that they would be, I wouldn't be quite so bored. The effect was similar to what my parents would say to us at the start of vacations. Day one was usually a lot of driving, so they'd tell us today's going to be long and boring, so settle in, and then we'd be more bored than ever.

The story of Lensmen is cosmic in scope: It begins by describing the dead-on "collision" of two galaxies and the resultant spawning of planets that occurred. I'm not totally sure that's accurately, astronomically speaking, but, then, I'm not totally sure it's inaccurate, either. My one semester of astronomy class (the high point of which was almost being doused in liquid nitrogen) and my one-year subscription to Astronomy magazine haven't really qualified me to know whether galaxies colliding would help or hinder the creation of planets.

As the galaxies collide at the start of time, two civilizations exist: The Arisians, and the Eddorians. The Arisians are good and pure and all that stuff. The Eddorians are shape-shifting evil killers who want to rule everything. That's the basic set-up. The Eddorians have somehow arrived in our universe (only it's not ours yet, because we're not existing yet) and the Arisians discovered them, realized they're evil, wiped the Eddorians memories of the existence of the Arisians, and began a project of growing beings into civilizations.

The Arisians did those things because they recognized that the Eddorians were evil and would destroy the universe, while the Arisians were good and would not -- "good" being a relative thing, I guess, in E.E. Smith's universe, since the "good" beings here think nothing of wiping out memories in another sentient creature's mind, and since the "good" beings in this book also rather casually raise and destroy civilizations.

The Arisians are raising and destroying civilizations because they've somehow forecast the future (maybe? It's kind of confusing, as well as a little boring, when they talk about it) and seen that they will need to create a Lens -- something I already know is a powerful gadget -- but for some reason the Arisians themselves cannot use the Lens, so they need to create beings who can use it, and then have those beings guard the universe against the Eddorians.

While that's going on, the Eddorians are organizing themselves into a dictatorship and taking over worlds, until we get to the point that I'm at, which is the part called "The Fall Of Atlantis," which would be spoiler-y, but it's not because before we get to Atlantis, the Arisians explain that they're going to let that civilization die.

They -- the Arisians -- explain that they have to do that because Atlantis, located on our Earth, has become a great civilization with nuclear power but the Eddorians have discovered Atlantis and Earth and because of that, for ill-explained and ill-defined (but somehow still boringly told) reasons, the Arisians have to let Atlantis be destroyed, or maybe destroy Atlantis themselves. (Like I said, "good" is a slippery thing for E.E. Smith.)

Having set out all that, E.E. Smith then introduces us to Atlantis via a very talky meeting among some higher-ups that rule Atlantis, a meeting that's not only very talky but also designed to show how super-intelligent all these people are and set up a world in crisis: Atlantis exists in a world of various countries that are all on the brink of war, and to avoid the war, or maybe start the war (again, not totally clear, but somehow, still boring) Atlantis sends a single secret agent flying on a cargo plane to another country.

That agent, whose name I forget, sneaks into the country via a very clever and interesting device of stowing away aboard an unmanned hypersonic cargo jet, then bailing out in the most (and only) thrilling action sequence so far in the book -- something that happens quickly and then led back into a lot more talking as he met another agent already in the country, at which point I got bored again and put the book down for the night and watched "3rd Rock From The Sun" reruns until I fell asleep.

So I can't yet recommend The Chronicles of The Lensmen, but I do recommend watching the episode where John Lithgow got power-mad because Mary was promoted to Dean. I miss that show.

I'd like to link to all the other Rum Punch Reviews but that's a lot of work. So if you want to read the others, type "Rum Punch Review" into the search box up there in the left hand corner, and I'll try to work up enthusiasm for linking in the future.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

There's certainly no false advertising here. (FIrst Thoughts)

I took Mr F and Mr Bunches grocery shopping last night to give Sweetie a night away from us all, and was sorely tempted to buy the product shown here, which I found in the "Weird Foods" aisle across from Ramen Noodles.

What are the black things in there, do you think?

Also, although it's very small, in the lower right corner is a disclaimer that the "pictrures" are "for reference only." So that you'll know how to set up your own Bubble & Pearl Drink" Party? Or to show the myriad of ways you can drink Bubble & Pearl Drink?

My Enemies List, 8

1. People who honk their horn.
2. Pepperoni pizza.
3. The 2008 Detroit Lions.
4. The guy who programmed my cell phone camera, etc. etc....
5. The guy whose house I'm stalking.
6. Water's natural tendency to expand when it freezes.
8. People who are just a little too serious about online "friendships."

Way way back when, I joined "MySpace." Not because I particularly enjoy reading OMGLOL 10,000 times a day, and not because I enjoy rubbing cyberelbows with drunken fratboys and pedophiles, but to help promote my then-beginning efforts at writing.
Then I joined a site called "Gather," and most recently, I joined "Facebook." And I've found, at each of those three stops, that there is a certain kind of person who joins social networks... but doesn't want to be too social.

What I do, on these networks, is this: I locate actual, real-world friends (I have, at last count, more than 2) and people interested in writing and reading, and then I try to "friend" them. And then I try to "Friend" their "friends," using the associative principal of social networks.

Remember the associative principal? It's something like If A=B and B=C, then your kids will still blame you if they get poor grades and they'll say you didn't try to help them because you were busy playing Dr. Slider with the Babies!

The principal I use is something like Hey, I friended this publisher, and this person did too, maybe they're interested in the same things I am.
So I try to friend them and move on. (Then, of course, my "friends" can contact me and read the updates, blah blah blah.)

But every now and then, I get emails back from people I've tried to friend, and those people tend to say something like Do I know you? Or How did you find me?

Those people are bad enough. I want to email to them something like No, you don't know me, but I've been standing outside your bedroom every night for 417 consecutive days. Or, perhaps, No, but does it matter? You're in LONDON.

I don't get it, frankly. I guess I understand if they want to limit their circle of online friends to people they know. Because that's what the Internet, society, and life, in fact, is all about: restricting your contacts and associations to only those people you already know.

But what I don't get is why not just ignore it? Why not simply ignore or delete the request and move on with your life? One person emailed me and said "I'm sorry, I don't friend people I don't know." But you do email them?
Another person complained that I had friended her friends, and said she was being besieged by emails from those friends complaining that I was sending them stuff, like an invitation to read my blog. She said I should have asked her permission to contact her friends before contacting them.

So, to keep that straight: these people were so perturbed by getting an Inbox request to read something, that they then emailed another person to complain, and that person emailed me to complain that I was "uncool" for doing that?
What, was the "delete" key out of order that day? Not enough to do at work?
So, look: if you get a request from me... or from anyone... to "friend" you, or to read their blog, or look at their video, or listen to a song, and you don't want to do it, here's some advice:

1. Take a deep breath.
2. Cancel the emergency alert to the anti-harassment authorities.
3. Uncurl from the fetal position.
4. Come out from under the desk.
5. Delete the request.
6. Get on with your life.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

As An Award-Winning Poet, I Stand For Everything That's The Opposite of Library Fraud. Sort Of. (I Fought The Library, 3)

I am fighting the library over their claim that I did not return two DVDs, and I intend to win. Part 1 of this is here;
Part 2 is here.

First of all, I have to point out to "Anonymous" that (a) I didn't actually commit library fraud, and (b) thanks for remembering that I got an honorable mention in the States Viar Poetry Award, as well as winning it. I still put that award on my resume, so it's nice to have it noticed.
I only thought about committing library fraud, but then decided against it and was going to commit library truth, or whatever the opposite of library fraud is, only Sweetie didn't have a pen in her car, so it's really her fault.
Anyway, having not returned the DVDs on Saturday (opting instead to enjoy a pleasant time at the playground), I went into the office on Sunday, where I got two shocks. First, my library account says I owe $26! Twenty-six bucks! For what?
Then, shock number two, was this email from The Library Director:


I checked into these two DVDs and found out why they are still listed on your record.
1. Baby Einstein, Meet the Orchestra was returned with the Baby Einstein, Baby Shakespeare DVD in the case. Plus, most of the cover, the barcode and labels were missing from the Baby Einstein, Meet the Orchestra case - in fact, the case was not even a library case. It has not been removed from your record, because you will be charged for the entire item, until the correct CD is returned.
2. Baby Einstein, Baby Galileo is still listed as checked out to you
- do you have another Baby Einstein DVD at home?
Please let me know if you have another Baby Einstein DVD.
If you have any questions, please call the Circulation Desk at Middleton Public Library... or email me at the email listed above.

Thank you,
Elizabeth I. Bauer
Head of Circulation Services
Middleton Public Library
Which email really threw me for a loop, because it meant that if she was right, we still had "Meet the Orchestra" somewhere in our house and I couldn't put it past them to have figured out a way to keep that and secretly watch it when I'm not paying attention. Which is the bulk of the time, according to Sweetie, who complains that I don't pay attention and thus the Babies! end up pantsless and running around when The Boy brings his newly-acquired girlfriend home on Saturday night to meet his brothers, only to be confronted with the sight of two naked Babies! running amuck.
As I pointed out to Sweetie and The Boy, though: First, I was paying attention: I'd stripped them down for their bath, which was going to take place at some point in the future, and then gotten distracted, and second, for Pete's sake, why not call home first when you're bringing a girl over so that she doesn't get confronted by naked Babies! and me cleaning out the garbage disposal?
I responded with this:

Thanks for getting back to me.
I found out when I got home that the Baby Galileo DVD had not been returned, and will return that, probably Monday.
I'll check for Baby Shakespeare.
I apologize about the covers; is there a charge for that? We try to keep them from the boys, but I'm not very successful about that. I do have the original case for "Meet The Orchestra," sans cover.
I haven't heard back from her yet. Then I went home and went through every DVD case in the house to see if "Meet the Orchestra" was there, and it's not. I even looked behind the Babies!' dresser, and under Mr F's bed, and found nothing. Well, not nothing; I found a half a book that had been torn apart, and a little wooden guy that Mr Bunches likes to play with, and a golf ball.

But nothing of use in this battle.

So my latest plan is this: Go to the library. Check their DVD rack. See if "Meet The Orchestra" is on the DVD rack. If it is, yell A-HA! and triumphantly take it up front.

If it's not, time for plan D. I'm not sure what that will entail yet. But it will be a grand scheme.

It's mostly old issues of "The New Yorker."


These days, at our house, it's all about the HD-- high definition -- TV. The Boy and Sweetie and probably the Babies!, too, swear by it.

Me? I've got bad eyesight and never get to choose the shows we watch. I read a lot.

But the kids and Sweetie love HD TV and think that there's really something to it, and that it's going to stick around. Which means that I can maybe score points with the family by taking advantage of the niceness being displayed by Charter these days.

Charter is concerned that cable companies are getting a bad rap and to combat that, they're trying to prove that they deserve, well, a better rap. To earn that better rap, Charter is giving away a 22" flat screen HDTV every day in April, in a contest open to any existing customers who upgrade, or to new customers.

All you, or I, have to do is go to their website at -- it's among the easiest to use, and lets the customer build a "service bundle" that exactly meets their needs. HD? Internet? Phone? Bundle 'em up and take 'em home Metaphorically speaking)all at one site, and save money and hassle.

Plus, by bundling through Charter, you get a chance to win the grand prize -- which is way better than a 22" HDTV. The Grand Prize is a 52" LCD Flat Screen, with home theater and a year of free HD Charter DigitaL Cable. Just ordering enters you into the drawing, and a lot of people want to order -- in the last month alone, more people went and signed up than any other online promotion to date -- even more than the ones that gave away laptops and XBoxs and, once, a car.

Charter is really trying to show you that they're misunderstood and misrepresented -- and you can find out for yourself by following their Twitter fees (@chartercom) or just going to their website and signing up for the contest and winning a 22" HDTV.

But don't count on getting the grand prize: I'm going to win that myself. I figure it'll cast more light for me to read my magazines by.


Quote of the Day, 21

"What's wrong with the word lozenge?"

-- Me

Yesterday, Sweetie and I stopped to pick some things up at the drugstore, and the clerk that rung us up complained that he was not feeling so well. Then, he coughed up a lung all over one of his hands and our bag, and then picked up the bag to hand it to Sweetie.

I was repulsed by that, and told her so on the way out the door, and she agreed that she knew I'd be grossed out by what he'd done. As we got in the car, I said to her "I understand he doesn't want to stay home from work for a cold, but he works in a drugstore. Take a lozenge, for God's sake."

Sweetie, then, began laughing at me for saying lozenge instead of cough drop, and calling me "Professor Dictionary." We have a very mature relationship.
Here's an interesting point about all of this: The Oxford Rhyming Dictionary says that "lozenge" is a near-rhyme for "orange." Plus, that book organizes words by sound.

Sometimes, when I start talking, I just ramble until I run out of words.

I am, right now, the sole breadwinner for a our family. That is, Middle and The Boy both work, but they work at the kind of jobs where the primary benefit is not so much the pay as it is the ability to bring home free bagels for me -- something that happens all-too-rarely, if you ask me.

But I take my responsibilities as the income earner in our family seriously. I get up and make it to work on time, mostly, at least two or three days per week, and I spend upwards of 25% of my time at the office not surfing the Internet, all to bring home enough money to make sure that when the coffeemaker breaks down, we can take a jaunty trip out to Wal-Mart and get a new one, and throw in a Hershey's Bar for Mr F and Mr Bunches to split on the way home.

I'd hate to think that if something happened to me, Sweetie's ability to replace coffee makers (and toilet seats, and couch cushions) at will, with a bonus candy bar thrown in, would be hampered, and I'd hate to think that she and the kids would have to struggle just to make ends meet, or that Sweetie would have to go back to work and struggle to make ends meet.

That's why we've got a whopping amount of life insurance on me -- to make sure that if something did happen to me, there would be enough candy bars and trips to the store and coffee makers to keep everyone from being too distraught over the terrible thing that happened to me (I like to imagine that I went down fighting the rhinos that escaped from the zoo. How'd they escape, you ask? Eco-terrorists, I'd gather. But I saved the city, so it doesn't matter who let them go. The threat was ended. But at what cost!?!)

Not only would there be enough to take care of candy-bar-related needs, but enough to pay off the house and the debts and make sure that there was something left over, so that Sweetie wouldn't have to struggle as a single parent suddenly, rhinocerously, deprived of her spouse.

Don't lose sleep at night worrying about whether you could afford to save the city from a Zoo Gone Mad: Instead, just get yourself a decent amount of life insurance through the good people at altig and American Income. American Income is an A+ Superior rated organization taht for over 50 years has been providing benefits to families, and Altig is the professional firm taht trains and supports the independent agents who provide American Income Life Insurance Products -- which means that when you're dealing with American Income, you're dealing with people who have been professionally trained to evaluate your insurance needs and help you provide for the future, whatever the future holds.

Even rhinocerouses.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement.

Claudius wanted to be the first man to reach the stars... and maybe he was. Alone, drifting through space with nothing to keep him company but the dot... speck... rock that is drifting there, too, Claudius reflects on what brought him to this point: A spaceship, a dream of reaching the stars he always saw when he closed his eyes... and murder.

Eclipse is a Mobius-strip of a psychological horror thriller that takes the reader on a twisting, turning trip through Claudius' troubled childhood, his time at NASA, and a grimy hospital or prison, peeling back layer upon layer of the personality of a boy who could close his eyes and see the stars, a boy who dreamed of reaching those stars... and maybe he did.

Eclipse is available for purchase through for as little as $1.25 per download, or $11.50 by paperback. Coming soon to a bookstore near you, but why wait?

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