August 2011 Archives

my diarrhea story

Actually, no bodily functions take place during this tale of woe.

I was managing a small all-female team at Microsoft. One of the perks of such gender distribution is that the men's room is an impenetrable refuge. An oasis. During moments when they were driving me insane, which is to say "weekdays," I would often grab a magazine and head into the men's room. Bliss.

On this occasion, two of the three stalls were occupied. The third stall was problematic, as it was

  1. a handicapped stall that
  2. was stopped up good and proper with what appeared to be the contents of a large yak's colon.
It was decision time.

"You know what your problem is?" I imagined Dorkass saying in my office. "Yep," I would reply, glaring at her, "But I can't imagine we're thinking about the same thing."

And so I lowered the lid on the noxious toilet and read my magazine.

Time passed. People shuffled in and out. I'll hazard that I was hiding in there for an hour. It had been deathly quiet for about 20 minutes when I decided to go back to my office. Reflexively, I flushed.

Suddenly remembering how stopped up the toilet was, I shot out of the stall. As its contents overflowed and splattered on the floor of the handicapped stall, I noticed the guy in the wheelchair who had been so silently waiting for me to finish my business. Pain and anger visibly coursed through his face.

There is no explaining this situation. I fled.

We worked in the same building for another year, and every time we made eye contact in the cafeteria, I knew what he was telling his friends.

"That's the guy."

Much like the incident itself, this story is a slow-burner—but oh man, did it destroy me. Here is voice-actor Jon Benjamin describing to co-star Aisha Tyler exactly why he seemed so miserable at their recent convention panel. Start at 1:04:00.

I haven't laughed this hard in a very long time.

tantalus

It's a good thing for all the dogs I've known that I only now discovered the hilarity of putting a dab of peanut butter inside a dog's head cone, just out of his reach.

i'm not going to pay a lot for this muffler

Speaking of nutsacks, Fredo's presently at the vet, having his removed. He sealed his fate a week ago when I saw him hump his biological sister. I wouldn't have thought humping could be a more revolting activity, but I stand corrected.

When did vets start upselling on every visit? Take your pet in for a kennel-cough vaccine and you're treated to tales of the Madagascar Ear Mites suffered by a single dog in Idaho. But for only $69.99, they have the cure for that, of course. When I took Fredo in for his shots at two months, the concern was about his front teeth. I stupidly approved x-rays that revealed "They're perfect. They just haven't come in yet." Really. Imagine that.

The vet-tech drones are clearly schooled in upselling. Today's lopping inspired her to talk more about teeth than about testicles. There's all kinds of things wrong with Fredo's teeth that the removal of his testicles will somehow reveal. Going to the vet didn't used to feel exactly like getting my muffler replaced. No longer. "Well, do what you like, but if this were my dog, I'd want to get those teeth taken care of."

I'm imagining the day when I go to my own doctor for my flu vaccine and he tells me this is also an excellent time for an CAT scan. Can it be that far off?

everybody wang bong tonight

Any invitation to my buddy Dirt lately has been interpreted as an invitation to his own personal Kato Kaelin, Rob the Whiner.

Last night, like a good uninvited guest, Rob immediately toked up. I stared at him. My god! That bong! Or is it a pipe? Whatever it is, it's quite possibly the most homoerotic thing I've ever seen.

"Do you finger the bowl when you suck on that thing?" I asked.

wangbong.jpg

I'm in the market for a new couch. As a consequence, I've lately found myself in the company of furniture salesmen. It is a poor match of dispositions.

"You don't have to follow me around. I just want to browse," I wistfully said to yesterday's.

"Oh, I don't mind."

Two minutes and several sales pitches later

"Really. Please don't hover over me. If I have questions, I'll find you."

He moves exactly 4 feet further away and acts as though he's...dusting, I guess. I walk 200 feet, across the entire showroom. Within a minute, he's dusting behind an armoire 15 feet away.

"Seriously. This will go a lot better if you don't stalk me."

He pretends he's a part of the armoire.

"What, are you afraid that I'm going to stuff an ottoman down my pants and steal it?"

I finally make my break for the front door. From the car, I see him returning to the sales desk, shaking his head disgustedly and waving one hand at the door, seemingly saying that the customer wasn't a serious buyer.

And with no further adieu, that buyer is taking a day off to go couch shopping. Somewhere else.

reburying dad

Remember when your family called you and told you that when your hated stepmother dies and is buried next to Dad, "we're" going to dig him up and transport him 100 miles to bury him next to Mom, whom he beat and who despised him utterly? Remember that call?

No, you don't remember it! Know why? Only I get that call.

Goddamned loons. I settled as close to Ohio as Seattle only because this is where I hit water.

hide your kids

Every time I hear a teacher's union wailing about the unfairness of assessing teachers' effectiveness, I think back to The Stupidest Class I Was Ever In.

I was in my last quarter of grad school, and as an elective I took a class called Grammar for Teachers. Passage was required of English Education majors—in other words, future high school English teachers. And passage required that they get an 86%. That might seem high, but think of it this way: should your kid's English teachers be able to diagram a sentence to 86% accuracy? Yes. Yes they should. But my god, the whining, the histrionics. You would have thought they were being asked to cleave out their kidneys and toss them into a wood-chipper. It was an anarchic atmosphere. Their indignation would swell until they shouted down the prof.

For all that, I say without the slightest qualification that these hundred or so students were by far, bar none, the stupidest assemblage of students I have ever seen. They were the absolute dregs of higher ed. Appallingly incompetent, obtuse, incurious, intellectually feeble. The thought that these imbeciles were six months away from conducting a classroom of their own appalled me then and appalls me still.

Just how stupid were they? You're about to lap them.

There are two tests for whether something is an adverbial:
  1. it can be relocated in the sentence without changing meaning and/or
  2. it answers how, why, when, or where.

Based on that lesson, can you identify the adverbial in this sentence?

The troll read this sentence slowly.

There, I knew you could. THOSE STUPID FUCKS COULDN'T DO THIS AFTER EIGHT WEEKS, AND THEY THOUGHT THIS WAS THE ADVERBS' FAULT. Ahem. Sorry. I meant to say that after seven weeks of being told the two tests over and over, they were still raising their hands and asking "Wait. Too fast. What's an adverb?" as if it had never been addressed. Most galling is that they weren't humiliated by the question. They thought the class and the subject matter cruel, a grossly unfair imposition on their birthright to be teachers.

In the time that's passed since, I've winced with ultimate agony to think of them clogging the public school system. With a nod to P.J. O'Rourke, giving these idiots classrooms of their own is like giving alcohol and car keys to teenage boys.

And then I hear a teachers' union rep decry the unfairness of evaluating teachers, and my head pops.

Last night I wrote my prof in that class. He's now teaching in Alabama. I'd hoped that he would tell me "God no, your class wasn't typical. It was the worst I've seen in 40 years in the classroom." Instead I got this:

"Here, the English Ed majors need merely a 60 to fulfill the requirement for the grammar course. I laugh when they tell me how unreasonable is. Really, I just go hysterically laughing-boy on them. They're far, far worse than the students you saw."

I will never again question why my friends spend fortunes on private school.

today, i shop for my cemetary plot

I hadn't felt old in minutes when young Darcy, my student just four years ago, derisively referred to a new worker at her office as "some 12 year old."

nagged to death

I've written on this topic several times and gotten no responses, which usually means I'm on the cutting edge of insanity. Onward.

I've noted two obnoxious new trends in customer "service."

The Bad Lawyer

Home Depot drones no longer ask yes or no questions. "Can I help you find something?" might ellicit a "No," after all, and we can't have that. And thus am I squinting at a Pergo sample suspended some 15 feet in the air, in a shadow, trying to determine how fake it looks.

"HIHOWCANIPROVIDEYOUWITHEXCELLENTCUSTOMERSERVICETODAY?" says the drone in my ear.

In that I actually had a use for her, my reply this time was civil. I pointed heavenward.

"That sample is really hard to see. And it's, you know, a $5000 purchase. I want to see it first."

"There's nothing I can really do about that. (turning to next guy) HIHOWCANIPROVIDEYOUWITHEXCELLENTCUSTOMERSERVICETODAY?"

The Argumentative Drive-through

"HIWELCOLMTOTHEPOULSBOMCDONALDS. HOWABOUTAHOTCARAMELLATTETODAY? PLEASEORDERWHENYOU'RREADY. (voice change) Hi, what can I get started for you?"

Seriously? How many levels of annoyed am I, and I haven't even started my order.

"I'd like a number 4 combo with a diet--"

"Do you want cheese on that?"

"No. And a diet--"

"Would you like a large? It's only $1.19 more."

"No. And please make my drink a--"

"What do you want to drink with that?"

"A diet coke."

"I'm sorry, did you say a number 4?"

"Yes."

"And what did you want to drink with that number 4?"

"A diet coke."

"Would you like a dessert item? How about a churro?"

"A diet coke."

By the time he's handing me my food, I would chew my own leg off to escape. But no, there's one more imposition to come: "THANKYOUFORCOMINGWASYOURSERVICEEXCELLENTTODAY?"

"The bloody DMV is more pleasant."

"Huh?"

"Never mind."

you're welcome!

This is the best web site I've discovered in years. No matter when you were a kid, here's your candy, mail-order.

the winehouse challenge

I had and have nothing against Amy Winehouse. I own Back to Black. I listened to it a bit in 2007 before I forgot entirely about it. I noted over the years that she canceled concerts for "health" reasons, and when she was found dead, I can't really say I was surprised. That is the sum of my history with Ms. Winehouse and, I suspect, yours as well.

"OH MY GOD I'M CRUSHED TO HEAR ABOUT AMY WINEHOUSE THIS IS SO TRAGIC ANOTHER '27'..." read every other tweet and email last month. Really? Your position is Hendrix, Joplin, Cobain....Winehouse?

Yes, yes. Just like the talk show immortals are Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and George Lopez. Poor George. His cancellation was tragic.

Our capacity for overstatement is exceeded only by our desire to co-opt other people's tragedy as our own. To the next person who inflates Winehouse in your presence, I implore you to issue the following challenge: name two of her songs.

lost and found



LOST:

0110081539.png


MY LIFE

One life, several decades old, white, scar on nose, frayed around the edges but utterly rash-free, lost in Metamuville around June 20. Answers to "Hey, asshole. I know you can hear me!" Medical condition makes it critical that it's found before football season. If seen, call John at 425-867-5309. Tell life he misses it and wants it to come home.


It's hard to describe to civilians exactly what it's like to work in technology when it's time to ship the product. People in publishing have an inkling, but it's not at this scale. There are scads of people you depend on and scads of people who depend on you, and when it's time for you to produce, your life doesn't matter for shit. I actually enjoy that part of my work. I get a rush out of the pressure.

And then there was this year. Work-wise, this year was nothing unusual. I worked every day from June 20- August 12, sometimes 18 hours a day. In that same period of time, however, I also had to deal with:


  • The unholy Destructo-puppy

  • A server failure, a bad motherboard and a bad video card

  • Covering for Amy while she went on vacation. This is essentially like telling your mail carrier during Sears catalog week "Oh, by the way, when you're done with that, you're installing engine blocks too."

  • Allergies. I experienced a horrific, heretofore unprecedented allergic reaction to mold growing in my bedroom wall. Over the course of weeks, I couldn't breathe, my right eye crusted shut, and I was covered in a rash.

On my third trip to the emergency room, it dawned on me that this was something out of Rocky. "Just make the symptoms go away so I can keep working," I begged the doctors expressing concern about my blood pressure. ("Just cut me, Mick!") "Nothing will lower my blood pressure quite like being able to make my dates."

I was watching TV in my favorite recliner one night, trying to get sleepy, when I grew annoyed with how the chair was exacerbating my rash. "Motherfucker! It's like the rash is only where my body touches this ch—oh."

So in my abundant spare time, I made several trips to the dump; bought all new furniture, mattresses, linens and pillows; hired six separate specialists to test for mold, tear out the offending wall (sealing off my bedroom like the hazardous zone it was), rebuild it, reseal all the windows, repaint the exterior wall, and install new flooring. All of this happened right next to me as I worked those monstrously long days. With one eye and a rash. And what wasn't a rash had been scratched into a scab.

"I've never seen a non-animal scratch to such excess," said one doctor. "And your blood pressure is 40 points above where it was last week," said the doctor.

"NOFUCKINGSHIT?JUSTGIVEMEMOREMEDS."

Anyway. That's why I haven't been writing. How's your summer going?

why you hate microsoft products

I was at a barbecue hosted by a Microsoft executive and swarming with past and current employees. I was on my fourth Diet Coke, and with my inhibitions thusly lowered, I was holding forth about what's wrong with Redmond these days. I actually got to use the phrase "in my day."

I found the guy in charge of Microsoft's web server product, which I've used for years but which, in its latest incarnation, I'd suddenly found baffling and unusable. I asked what I always ask: for the love of god, why?

I shouldn't have bothered. He nodded condescendingly and gave me the answer I always get from modern Microsoft types, about any criticism, on any product: "You're not the target audience, John."

"I'm not the target audience. For the web server I've always used. As a web server. Which came with the OS on the computer sold to my business as a web server."

"Right."

So see? You don't really hate, oh, let's say Office. You're just not its target audience. So if you think about it, your difficulties are your fault. Redmond awaits your apology.

good whiner, bad whiner

I was listening to Rob, the Forlorn Windshield Smasher, whine about his lot in life when it hit me. Some whiners are decidedly better than others.

Good whiners have flair. The good whiner, legless, climbs to the crow's nest of a shrimp boat during a hurricane, shakes his fist at God, and declares that He doesn't have the guts to kill him. Out of spite, God lets him live, and the good whiner whines incredulously, "What do I gotta do?" I like this guy.

Note that I had to use a fictional character for my example.

The bad whiner lives off his inheritance into his 40s. He's never had a job, yet he lives in a 5000 square foot waterfront house and is still "in a band." When his wife comes into her own inheritance and rejects him, he smashes his wife's windshield, steals her mail, hides from her attorney, and questions how she could ever want to divorce a guy like him.

Shouldn't whining be about what isn't under your control?

"If I could do today over, I wouldn't bother to get out of bed," Katrina had posted an hour earlier.

I'd been at her house for two hours.

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